Tag Archives: image comics

Image and Skybound’s Redneck Gets a Second Printing

The white-hot new Image/Skybound series Redneck by Donny Cates and Lisandro Estherren is being rushed back to print in order to keep up with overwhelming customer demand.

The Bowmans are vampires who have quietly run the local barbecue joint in their small town for years, living off cows’ blood. Their peaceful coexistence ends as generations of hate, fear, and bad blood bubble to the surface—making it impossible to separate man from monster.

Redneck serves up a tale of a different kind of family just trying to get by, deep in the heart of Texas.

Redneck #1, 2nd printing (Diamond Code MAR178087), Redneck #2 (Diamond Code MAR170771) will be available on Wednesday, May 24th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, May 1st.

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Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 4/22

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Alex

ASBM_Cv9All-Star Batman #7 (DC) A solid finale to the current arc that has a couple of cool sequences that are mire down with the godlike Batman moments that seem a little too Deus Ex Machina for me. It’s good, but it’s not the best comic from Scott Snyder you’ll ever read. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Batman #21 (DC) Well this is a turn up for the books; Tom King delivers a brilliant issue of Batman. The… ironic thing is that the things he did that I didn’t like over the last arc were repeated here, but in a much more compressed manor… and it works very well. The first issue of the four part Batman/Flash crossover is well worth read – especially if you read DC Rebirth #1Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Moon Knight #13 (Marvel) I have a love hate relationship with the series; I love the aesthetic, and at times the story, but I’m certainly not always fond of the overall direction Lemire is taking the series. This issue, however, was a solid win. If you like your comics to make you think, then this is for you. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Secret Empire #0 (Marvel) While I’m not fond of having Steve Rogers as an undercover Hydra agent, the zero issue itself isn’t horrible. It sets up the event nicely, framing Rogers as a very effective villain, but whether Secret Empire will follow Marvel’s recent pattern of a strong start with a weak ending only time will tell. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Venom #6 (Marvel) Although a decent comic, the outcome of this issue felt a little rushed after the previous five issues exploring the relationship between Lee and the symbiote as Marvel sets up the number jumping Venom #150. Does this issue suffer because of that? A little, but if you’re invested in the series it’s still worth a read. Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

George

Secret_Empire_0_CoverSecret Empire #0 (Marvel) – For the past year or so Nick Spencer has been getting a ton of heat for making Steve Rogers/Captain America, a secret Hydra agent. Secret Empire is the culmination of this event and it starts with the Heroes taking one on the nose, as Spencer and Daniel Acuna take us on a tour of the hot spots of Earth-616 created by Rogers and sets us up for another Marvel roller coaster of suspense. Hopefully they can bring it all home in 9 issues. Recommend if you like the big event stuff.

Joe

Secret Empire #0 (Marvel)  I was actually surprised that I liked this comic. Now don’t think that’s saying this comic isn’t without its flaws, because the entire premise of what Spencer is doing has those, but for what this was, I did enjoy it. We still don’t get a lot of depth here for Cap’s intentions, but they are doubling down as him being a big bad. I had fun in a big action movie kind of way. I was shocked at some of the things he’s done in this and in his title, and am curious to where this takes us. I’m still betting this leads to a “Rebirth” for Marvel. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Monsters Unleashed #1 (Marvel)  The event never grabbed me, and this comic, understandably is more of that. It features Kid Kaiju, Elsa Bloodstone and a group of talking monsters that I do think many kids will love. It felt very much like the first Transformers film where they play around outside waiting for the human boy to play or to give them something to do. I don’t think this is a bad idea to have this series, and I do think it could develop into a fun story for anyone, especially kids. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Venom #5 (Marvel)  Brock has returned, and with him comes Spidey. This was a decent issue, and Brock returning to the suit is interesting, and as a big Peter Parker fan, this is exciting to have his biggest foe of my childhood returning to his prime version. I didn’t enjoy Lee much as the lead character, so it is good the title quickly changed who wears the suit. Will the suit still hold onto Flash’s good intentions, or resort back to the comfort of the monster that it was with Eddie? Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

IHateFairyland_06-1I Hate Fairyland #12 (Image)**  Skottie Young and company bring us Lone Gert and Grub, in which Gert performs sweet ninja – sorry, samurai – moves and confronts the entire City of the Shiitake. This is a visual idea that I cannot believe I’ve never seen before and Skottie Young of course pulls it off with brio and grossness. Spoiler alert: Gert trying to do good deeds doesn’t exactly pan out. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Sex Criminals #18 (Image)** Confirming my personal theory of recent comics, Fraction & Zdarsky go mostly off-plot for this issue, get back to exploring relationships, and it’s the best issue in a long time. It is so rare to see an adult comic that actually involves adult characters that that is all I need. Unfortunately, this looks like it’s only an interlude. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Descender #21 (Image)  In theatre school, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was that there’s a difference between dramatic action and mere activity. Although there’s plenty of activity in the conclusion of this book, there is not much action going on at all. Dustin Nguyen’s art is gorgeous as ever, but Jeff Lemire is just connecting dots and the characters are all just following their programming. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip.

Curse Words #4 (Image)  If this issue had started on page 12 and finished on page 18, I would have loved it! I’m not sure what the hell was going on before, and bored with what was going on after, but those 8 pages where Wizord goes to the Magic Castle to get his magic back is pure delight. Overall: 4, then 9, then 4 Recommendation: Read the middle part.

Ryan C

RoyalCity_02-1.pngRoyal City #2 (Image)** – I wasn’t necessarily sold on Jeff Lemire’s latest solo series after the first issue, but with this one, it’s safe to say I’m all in. Events unfold at a languid, almost dreamlike pace that perfectly suits the material, the interpersonal relationships and various tribulations of our main protagonist and his family are deepened, and everything just intuitively feels right. A truly superb comic. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #21 (DC)** – Tom King does some transparently clever things with tying the events of a televised hockey game in with the main Batman vs. Reverse-Flash fight that takes up the bulk of this issue, but it’s not enough to make the first part of this cross-over feel like yet another massive time-waster, Jason Fabok’s illustrations are the epitome of the dull, “New 52”-era “house style” at DC, and nothing that happens in these pages goes any way towards alleviating the concerns myself and many other readers have that bringing the so-called “Watchmen Universe” into the DCU “proper” is anything other than a cynical cash-grab. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass

Black #5 (Black Mask)** – Writer Kwanza Osajyefo continues to waste what is undoubtedly one of the cooler premises in comics right now with yet another clumsily-scripted, info-dumping issue that manages to both overload the reader with too much backstory while somehow doing nothing to deepen our understanding of what’s really going on, much less develop any of the characters in a meaningful way. Jamal Igle’s illustration continues to be nice, and Khary Randolph’s cover is another stunner, but beyond that, there’s not much here to justify your $3.99 expenditure. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass

Black Hammer #8 (Dark Horse)** – I’m running out of reasons for why I love this comic, suffice to say if you’re as enamored with it as I am, this issue is certain to leave you gasping a bit at the end, with plenty of the sterling storytelling we’ve come to expect (and, frankly, become spoiled by) from Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston in the pages leading up to the jaw-dropping conclusion. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

BLACK_PANTHER__WORLD_OF_WAKANDA__6Odyssey Of The Amazons #4 (DC) In what has been an excellent series so far,this installment may be it’s most weakest. The Amazons find themselves in Valhalla, meeting Odin and Thor. As soon for them know this could not be real,they struggle to find a way out. By issue’s end, all will understand the true meaning of “Ragnarok”
Overall: 9 Recommendation: Read

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #6 (Marvel) I was pretty bummed out when I found out that they were moving on from Ayo’s storyline as Roxane Gay no longer was working on the book.I didn’t think that they could top what they did already and I am so glad to be so wrong. As an avid fan of Christopher Priest’s run on the main character, I was excited to see that they brought back Kasper Coles White Tiger.Within this issue, we see him struggle with his day job as a NYPD detective, his struggle of helping his sickly mother and pregnant girlfriend as well as his idealistic crusade as the White Tiger.
Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Nick Fury #1 (Marvel) Being one of the most undeserved members of the Marvel Universe before the movies became tantamount to everything,Nick Fury has become increasingly popular mostly due to Samuel L Jackson’s portrayal.In what is his first solo series in a while, we find a younger version of the grissled veteran operator the world has come to know. In the first issue, he infiltrates a resort being ran by HYDRA, a la Casino Royale.Definitely a throwback to the fun of the original Bond movies somewhere between George Lazenby and Roger Moore. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Meredith Finch and Ig Guara’s Rose Gets a Second Printing

The bestselling fantasy series Rose by Meredith Finch and Ig Guara is being rushed back to print in order to keep up with overwhelming customer demand.

A classic fantasy tale about a girl trying to restore balance to a broken world. Rose must connect with her Khat—Thorne—to become the Guardian the world needs. But things aren’t easy for Rose and Thorne. The powerful sorcerous Drucilla has many demonic allies—all of them focused on stopping one scared little girl who’s desperately trying to stay alive and do what’s right.

Rose #1, 2nd printing (Diamond Code MAR178085), Rose #2 Cover A Guara (Diamond Code MAR170774), Cover B Mendonca (Diamond Code MAR170775), Cover C SPAWN (Diamond Code FEB178670), and Cover D SPAWN B&W (Diamond Code MAR178016) will be available on Wednesday, May 17th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, April 24th.

Matt Fraction and Albert Monteys release Solid State, a Graphic Novel Accompaniment to Jonathan Coulton’s New Concept Album

Writer Matt Fraction and artist Albert Monteys will team up with singer-songwriter/internet phenomenon Jonathan Coulton for the high-concept graphic novel Solid State to accompany his concept album of the same name this July.

Two guys, connected by a name and hundreds of years, somehow stand at the end of man’s beginning, and the beginning of man’s end. But…it’s funny? Also kind of a nightmare. But mostly funny? A funny science-FACTion nightmare about the end of everything, but how that’s all kind of okay.

Solid State TP (ISBN: 978-1-5343-0365-2, Diamond code: MAY170645) hits comic book stores Wednesday, July 26th and bookstores Tuesday, August 1st. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, June 5th.

Review: God Country #1-#4

GodCountry_04-1Emmet Quinlan, an old widower rattled by dementia, isn’t just a problem for his children—his violent outbursts are more than the local cops can handle. When a tornado levels his home—as well as the surrounding West Texas town—a restored Quinlan rises from the wreckage. The enchanted sword at the eye of the storm gives him more than a sound mind and body, however. He’s now the only man who can face the otherworldly creatures the sword has drawn down to the Lone Star State…

This issue, Emmet Quinlan goes to Hell.

The first paragraph above is the sales pitch for the first issue, but still works very well as a series overview because it gives very little away. The line below is the synopsis for this issue,  and comes directly from Image‘s website; it’s also the first line in the comic.

God Country has one of the more interestingly unique concepts in comics; that of an Alzheimer’s patient who is cured when his hand touches a twelve foot sword, only to be drawn into the soap opera like world of space gods that have more than a passing resemblance to the Greco-Roman pantheons. Written by Donny Cates, who also co-wrote The Paybacks with Eliot Rahal; that series looked at the other side of superheroing with a starkly funny focus on a group of knock off characters serving as superpowered repomen (and women) struggling to emerge from the crippling debt their equipment put them in. On the surface, God Country may have little in common with The Paybacks other than half of the writing team (and Geoff Shaw‘s art), that’s certainly true on a superficial thematic level, but at their core both series focus on something quite relatable: people and their struggles against every day adversity.

Emmet Quinlan’s family have been struggling with the horror of watching a loved one slip away whilst suffering from Alzheimer’s, and their struggles are haunting – if you’ve ever had to watch a loved one slip away while suffering this horrible disease as I have, then you’ll understand immediately how hard it can be. Donny Cates treats the subject with the respect it deserves without sugar coating anything.

And then a ray of light appears and Emmet Quinlan’s mind is restored.

If you enjoyed Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God Of Thunder  then you’re going to find a lot to love here, from the heavily emotional sequences in the first issue to the more operatic space god scenes in subsequent comics, this is a powerful series – indeed, without Cates wry humour that appears every so often throughout the series, then this could easily become an almost too heavy story.

As it is, this is one of the most exciting, and awesome, series on the rack right now. Every issue has been a banger in all the ways a comic should be. There’s a reason this series has had multiple printings per issue.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Geoff Shaw
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies to review.

Underrated: Great Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 Sellers For March

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Great comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for March


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six(ish) comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher (although there may be a future Underrated on specific publishers in the future, that’s not the point of this one).

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list in past editions but that’s also had the adverse effect of shortening this list more than I’d like in the past, so you may see some recurring series month to month, although I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible.

The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for Marchs comic sales, according to Comichron., which is why they’re Underrated.

 

voracius feeding time 4Voracious: Feeding Time #4 (Action Lab)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Not listed/Unknown
It should come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr’s creation,Voracious, and it’s sequel Voracious: Feeding Time. The writer and artist/letterer and joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru, and the trio have produced one of the most consistently excellent comics on the racks. With a story that is on the surface built to be a comedy – that of a time travelling dinosaur hunting chef – but packs more of an emotional punch than you’d expect in such a comic. A truly compelling series that reinvigorated my love for comics, if you want to get caught up the first trade of Voracious is available now, and the second volume will be coming in May, although you could also go hunting for back issues. This is easily one of my favourite comics from any publisher right now, and it is a criminally underread series. There’s a reason I push this on as many people as I do, both online and offline, and that’s because it’s fucking amazing.

Ninjak #25 (Valiant)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 275 /5,763

Even though there are several elements of the character that I love (namely the fusion of James Bond and Batman), I’ll admit that up until recently I wasn’t a huge fan of Ninjak’s solo book; it had it’s moments, but the comic never pulled itself out of being a good comic into the truly great levels until the 23rd issue (for me, anyway – there are those who have long felt it was great). As of this writing the 26th issue has also been published, which is the final issue in the current run, so you may be wondering what I’m thinking by pointing you toward this series now, and I’ll tell you: tradepaper backs.

redline-1Redline #1 (Onipress)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 220 /8,040

The series that blends space travel (more specifically living on a colony on Mars) with a hardboiled detective story that’s so much more nuanced then I can adequately convey in a shot blurb. Redline may seem crass and bloody, and it is, but beyond that is where you’ll find one of the most interesting and well written stories from Onipress I’ve ever read. If you have even a passing interest in life on another planet, or a sci-fi detective story then pick this up.

The Flintstones #9 (DC)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #208 /9,213

You would be forgiven for thinking that this would be a pretty, but shallow, series about an old 60’s cartoon based purely on the name and covers of the nine issues we’ve seen from DC, and you’d be about half right. The Flintstones is a pretty comic about characters who debuted in the 60’s, but it’s far from being a shallow comic. This is a series that will make you think about the disposable lifestyle we currently enjoy, and how others suffer for that – it is, in short, one of the most well written comics out there that’s hidden behind a facade that too many people ignore.

grasskings_001_a_mainGrass Kings #1 (Boom!)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #168 /13,515


I’ll usually give anything Matt Kindt does at least a couple of issues before I either add it to my pull list or stop reading all together, but the first issue of this series about, for lack of a better phrase, an independent kingdom set within rural America piqued my interest pretty quickly. There’s a sense of something off lurking just beneath the surface in the Grass Kingdom, and the way that  Kindt is drip feeding us information makes for a compelling read.

God Country #3 (Image)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #156 /15,321


I’m writing this after having just finished reviewing the most recent issue, but through the magic of the internet and Graphic Policy’s schedule, you’ll read this a couple hours before the review goes live. I’ll go into detail as to why I love the series in that review so I don’t want to spoil too much, but suffice it to say that I’m going to need to get the trade because I don’t want to wear my floppies out from reading them over and over again.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

God Country Series Burns Through Copies

The fourth issue of the bestselling series God Country by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw is being rushed back to print in order to keep up with overwhelming customer demand.

In God Country, Emmet Quinlan, an old widower rattled by dementia, isn’t just a problem for his children—his violent outbursts are more than the local cops can handle. When a tornado levels his home—as well as the surrounding West Texas town—a restored Quinlan rises from the wreckage. The enchanted sword at the eye of the storm gives him more than a sound mind and body, however. He’s now the only man who can face the otherworldly creatures the sword has drawn down to the Lone Star State…

God Country #4, 2nd printing (Diamond Code MAR178109), GOD COUNTRY #5 Cover A by Shaw (Diamond Code MAR170751), Cover B by Zaffino (Diamond Code MAR170752), Cover C SPAWN (Diamond Code FEB178676), and Cover D SPAWN B&W (Diamond Code MAR178020) will be available on Wednesday, May 17th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, April 24th.

Image Reveals the Final Six Spawn Variants

Image Comics has revealed the final six variants planned for May’s 25th anniversary theme month—Spawn. Image Comics’ creators bring their interpretation of the iconic antihero by Todd McFarlane to life all month long. Black and white versions of a selection of the covers will also be available.

Each month of Image’s 25th year will boast a theme for special anniversary variants. The following covers are sure to get comic fans and collectors talking.

Available in stores on Wednesday, May 10th:

  • Black Cloud #2 by Ivan Brandon and Jason Latour, cover by Greg Hinkle (Diamond Code FEB178673)
  • Regression #1 by Cullen Bunn and Danny Luckert, cover by Danny Luckert (Diamond Code FEB178672)
  • Renato Jones: Season Two #1 by Kaare Kyle Andrews, cover by Kaare Kyle Andrews (Diamond Code FEB178668)
Available in stores on Wednesday, May 17th:
  • God Country #5 by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, cover by Gerardo Zaffino (Diamond Code FEB178676)
  • GRRL Scouts: Magic Socks #1 by Jim Mahfood, cover by Jim Mahfood (Diamond Code FEB178669)
  • Horizon #11 by Brandon Thomas, Juan Gedeon, Frank Martin, cover by Juan Gedeon and Mike Spicer (Diamond Code FEB178677)
  • Injection #13 by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey, cover by Declan Shalvey (Diamond Code FEB178678)
  • Rose #2 by Meredith Finch and Ig Guara, cover by David Finch (Diamond Code FEB178670)
Available in stores on Wednesday, May 24th:
  • Deadly Class #28 by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, cover by Wes Craig (Diamond Code FEB178680)
  • Magdalena Vol. 4 #3 by Tini Howard, Ryan Cady, Christian Dibari, cover by Stjepan Sejic (Diamond Code FEB178869)
  • The Old Guard #4 by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández, cover by Chris Samnee (Diamond Code FEB178674)
  • Plastic #2 by Doug Wagner and Daniel Hillyard, cover by Daniel Hillyard (Diamond Code FEB178675)
  • Seven to Eternity #6 by Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña, cover by Jerome Opeña (Diamond Code FEB178671)
Available in stores on Wednesday, May 31st:
  • Manifest Destiny #29 by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, Owen Gieni, cover by Matt Roberts and Owen Gieni (Diamond Code FEB178679)
  • Black Science #30 by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera, cover by Matteo Scalera (Diamond Code FEB178681)

Matt Nixon and Toby Cypress Give us High-Stakes Paranormal Adventure in Retcon

Image Comics has announced that writer Matt Nixon and Toby Cypress will team up for an all new time-hopping paranormal series—Retcon.

In Retcon, a group of paranormal adventurers faced with an impossible threat keep shutting down alternative timelines in order to prevent the ultimate destruction of the solar system. This is only to find themselves reinvented in a similar—albeit retconned situation—back in issue #1 on a parallel Earth, facing the same enemy.

Retcon #1 will hit stores this September 2017.

Six Things at C2E2 I’m Most Excited About

I love C2E2, not just because it’s located in the great city of Chicago, home of the best pizza, rappers, and (As of this writing.) basketball team in the world. C2E2 one of the few big time cons that still focuses on comic books and their creators, not just celebrities and movie trailers. It’s also the first comic book convention that I attended many moons ago in 2013 when I strode into the press lounge asking how to interview a comic book creator and frantically texting my editor. But it was a great time, and I got to see some of my heroes, including Felicia Day, comic book painter demigod Alex Ross, Kieron Gillen, and the very kind Doctor Who and Wolverine writer Paul Cornell.

I am very excited to return to C2E2 in 2017 and bask in the glow of comic book fans, creators, and publishers. Here are six things you should check out at (or after) the show, which runs from Friday, April 21 to Sunday, April 23.

  1. C2E2 Exclusive Variants/Comics

At their most primal (and capitalist) level, cons are about buying stuff that we think is cool. Whether that’s a celebrity pretending to care about us for sixty seconds, a print by our favorite artist, or a replica of Mjolnir because we have a god complex. One thing I love about comic book conventions is the opportunity to get special covers of comic books. It can be a snapshot reminder of meeting a certain creator, having an artist draw a character you like, or a bit of both like when I picked up Joe Quinones’ Serenity: Leaves of the Wind variant at Baltimore Comic Con in 2014. (Mal and Inara drawn like a pulp novel cover equals major heart eyes.)

Number one on my list of special comics to pick up at C2E2 is an exclusive early copy of Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss’ hilarious 80s period piece/crime comic Four Kids Walk Into A Bank #4, published by Black Mask Studios. There are only 66 copies of this comic, which features a cover by We Can Never Go Home so get to their booth quickly, and all proceeds to go to the anti-gun violence charity, CeaseFire Illinois. You get to read a cool comic early and help an important cause. Some other comics worth checking out are horror maestro Rafael Albuquerque’s variant for the new Alien: Dead Orbit series, Scott Hampton’s classic fantasy style cover for American Gods #1, Matt Wagner’s creepy Joker-centric cover for The Dark Knight III #1, and Mike Allred doing Flash of Two Worlds Harley Quinn #1 style.

And if you’re a huge Lord of the Rings geek and have money to burn, you could always grab an exclusive Helm of Sauron from Chicago Costume…

2. The Valiant X-O Manowar Release Party (And General Con Presence)

The resurrection of Valiant Entertainment as a publisher has been one of the great comics success stories of the past five years. And they have quite the C2E2 planned with everything from a special beer to commemorate the launch of X-O Manowar #1 by Matt Kindt and my favorite Conan artist Tomas Giorello to Bloodshot coffee mugs.

Valiant is doing a full spread of panels, including ones about X-O Manowar’s past, present, and future as their flagship book and one about the upcoming Harbinger Wars 2 crossover with never seen before art and information about this book, which will affect almost all Valiant titles, including Faith. There’s also an early look at Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universea live action webseries featuring many Valiant heroes, like Ninjak, who will be played by Jason David Frank. (The former Green Power Ranger.)

And to cap things off, there’s the X-O Manowar #1 release party held at 7 PM on Friday at the Cobra Lounge. The party is also celebrating the release of Pipeworks Brewing Company’s X-O Manowar Galactic Golden Ale and has a $5 cover charge that will be donated to the suicide prevention charity, Hope for the Day. Comics and craft  beer are an excellent combination, and maybe you’ll spot Valiant’s famous ale and wine swilling immortal, Armstrong, at the party.

I HATE FAIRYLAND

3. Image Comics Panels

Image Comics is home for some of the creative comics of the 2010s in a variety of genres from dystopian science fiction (Bitch Planet) to space opera (Saga), urban fantasy (The Wicked + the Divine), and even sex comedy (Sex Criminals) and autobiography (Self-Obsessed). And all of Image’s books are owned by their creators.

One place to see all of your favorite Image creators at one place is at various panels. The one I’m looking forward to most is  “Image Comics Presents: Storytelling Essentials”, which will be held on Saturday at 11:15 AM and is a general chat about craft, influences, and inspirations. The panel lineup is pretty stacked and includes up and coming writer Donny Cates (God Country), queen of all colorists Jordie Bellaire (Injection), artist of all the pretty people Jamie McKelvie (WicDiv), the legend Greg Rucka (The Old Guard), the artist with one of the cleanest lines in comics Declan Shalvey (Injection), and writer/artist of adorable superhero babies and demented fairy tale characters Skottie Young (I Hate Fairyland).

I can’t wait to hear the interactions between this eclectic group of creators, who demonstrate on a daily basis that comics are much more than superheroes, and artists and colorists are equal, if not superior participants to writers in the creative process.

4. Weta Workshop Awesomeness

Before I got into comics, I was a huge (and still am) J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of the Rings nerd. They weren’t splashed on the covers of Entertainment Weekly and People, like the trilogy’s stars and Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson, but the visual effects and makeup team at Wellington, New Zealand’s Weta Workshop truly brought the denizens of Middle Earth to life in both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Plus they’re named after a prehistoric, resilient cricket that only lives in New Zealand.

Weta is also responsible for crafting the worlds of Narnia, the Planet of the Apes, Mad Max Fury Road, and the upcoming Thor Ragnarok and excels at both practical effects and CGI. One thing that they are especially known for is creating large scale miniatures, like the ones of Minas Tirith, Helm’s Deep, and the dark fortress of Barad-Dur in Lord of the Rings as well as the Great Wall of China in the recent 2017 Matt Damon film with the same name.

And lucky for fans of science fiction and fantasy, they have booth and panel at C2E2 where you can geek out over Gollum, King Kong, Elven blades, or Power Ranger suits and check out the company’s portfolio and history. As icing on the cake, you can see a live makeup “transformation” featuring Warren Dion-Smith. Basically, you will see how flesh and blood human beings become orcs live and in person. The panel is at 2:30 PM on Sunday.

5. Mike Colter Panel

Marvel Studios is bringing several of the actors from their TV shows to C2E2, including Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, who play the adorable, quirky British agents in Agents of SHIELD, the Kingpin of crime himself Vincen D’Onofrio, and finally, Mike Colter, who played Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and will reprise his role in the upcoming Netflix series, The Defenders. Before playing the hero formerly known as Power Man, Colter was a crime lord in CBS’ The Good Wife and had roles in The Following and American Horror Story: Coven.

Colter’s appearance at C2E2 is almost perfectly timed as a bulletproof, black superhero is a powerful image for the United States in 2017. We currently have an Attorney General in Jeff Sessions, who has disparaged the NAACP and was considered by Coretta Scott King to be too racist for a federal judge and is one of many cabinet members and high ranking racist, xenophobic (usually) men that run this country. By standing up for his community of Harlem against corruption, Luke Cage is a symbol of hope in this dark time, and Mike Colter embodies him perfectly by playing him with a wonderful mix of physical presence, understated politeness, and a touch of rage in the middle of battle.

And, on a pure fan level, it will be interesting to see how much (or little) Mike Colter is allowed to say about Defenders, which is coming out in about four months. I am intrigued to see if he has anything to say about working with Finn Jones’ Iron Fist, and if they had any of the chemistry that Luke Cage and Danny Rand had in the comics. Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage were all enjoyable shows, and the environment in this panel room is bound to electric with anticipation for their team-up in Defenders with the audience hanging on every crumb of information Colter doles out about the upcoming show.

6. WicDiv Panel and Exclusive Merchandise

If you have read my work at all, you know that I wouldn’t end an article about a comic convention without bumping The Wicked + the Divine, which is my favorite current comic. Writer Kieron Gillen is making his first appearance at C2E2 since 2013, which was the glory days of Young Avengers, and artist Jamie McKelvie is going to his first C2E2 ever. They are bringing some exclusive merch, including pins of a death skull and Persephone’s hand and a very metal Baphomet t-shirt. Wearing this shirt instantly gives you the superpowers of ripped abs, Andrew Eldritch sunglasses, and fire swords.

And it’s kind of fitting that the WicDiv panel is being held on Sunday as fellow fans, er, worshipers of the Pantheon can join together and air out our feelings about the bittersweet ending to the “Imperial Phase” arc and get ready for the WicDiv #455 featuring the gods of ancient Rome. The panel is at 2:30 PM and will most likely have some glorious cosplay.

And that is my highly subjective list of the six coolest things to do at C2E2. Remember to stay hydrated, pack a portable phone charger, and take plenty of selfies with your favorite comic book creators and fans of general awesome things.

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