America’s first patriotic superhero The Shield returns this June in a new one-shot comic that kicks off a re-imagined Mighty Crusaders mini-series from Archie Comics and legendary writer/artist Rob Liefeld.
The four-issue series of one-shots spanning the Mighty Crusaders assortment of superhero characters begins on June 30 with the launch of The Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1, featuring variant covers by Liefeld and a host of renowned industry talent.
This series of action-packed one-shots will shine a spotlight on the deep bench of superhero characters in the Archie Comics library, who share a long and storied history alongside the company’s more familiar teen & romance publications, while remaining open and accessible to new readers.
Archie Comics is working with comic shop retailers to host virtual events, create exclusive variant covers for their stores, and deliver unique one-of-a-kind items timed to The Shield One-Shot’s launch.
The Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1 features covers by Rob Liefeld, Francesco Francavilla, Aaron Lopresti, David Mack, Jerry Ordway, a Top Secret Rob Liefeld variant, as well as sketch and black variants.
2020 definitely felt like a year where I embraced comics in all their different formats and genres from the convenient, satisfying graphic novella to the series of loosely connected and curated one shots and even the door stopper of an omnibus/hardcover or that charming webcomic that comes out one or twice a week on Instagram. This was partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down comics’ traditional direct market for a bit so I started reviewing webcomics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels and nonfiction even after this supply chain re-opened. I also co-hosted and edited two seasons of a podcast about indie comics where we basically read either a trade every week for discussion, and that definitely meant spending more time with that format. However, floppy fans should still be happy because I do have a traditional ongoing series on my list as well as some minis.
Without further ado, here are my favorite comics of 2020.
10. Marvels Snapshots (Marvel)
Curated by original Marvels writer Kurt Busiek and with cover art by original Marvels artist Alex Ross, Marvels Snapshots collects seven perspectives on on the “major” events of the Marvel Universe from the perspectives of ordinary people from The Golden Age of the 1940s to 2006’s Civil War. It’s cool to get a more character-driven and human POV on the ol’ corporate IP toy box from Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway exploring Namor the Submariner’s PTSD to Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Benjamin Dewey showing the real reason behind Johnny Storm’s airhead celebrity act. There’s also Mark Russell and Ramon Perez’s take on the classic Captain America “Madbomb” storyline, Barbara Kesel’s and Staz Johnson’s sweet, Bronze Age-era romance between two first responders as the Avengers battle a threat against the city, and Saladin Ahmed and Ryan Kelly add nuance to the superhuman Civil War by showing how the Registration Act affects a Cape-Killer agent as well as a young elemental protector of Toledo, Ohio, who just wants to help his community and do things like purify water. However, the main reason Marvels Snapshots made my “favorite” list was Jay Edidin and Tom Reilly‘s character-defining work showing the pre-X-Men life of Cyclops as he struggles with orphan life, is inspired by heroes like Reed Richards, and lays the groundwork for the strategist, leader, and even revolutionary that appears in later comics.
Fangs is cartoonist Sarah Andersen’s entry into the Gothic romance genre and was a light, funny, and occasionally sexy series that got me through a difficult year. Simply put, it follows the relationship of a vampire named Elsie and a werewolf named Jimmy, both how they met and their life together. Andersen plays with vampire and werewolf fiction tropes and sets up humorous situations like a date night featuring a bloody rare steak and a glass of blood instead of wine, Jimmy having an unspoken animosity against mail carriers, and just generally working around things like lycanthropy every 28 days and an aversion to sunlight. As well as being hilarious and cute, Fangs shows Sarah Andersen leveling up as an artist as she works with deep blacks, different eye shapes and textures, and more detailed backgrounds to match the tone of her story while not skimping on the relatable content that made Sarah’s Scribbles an online phenomenon.
I really got into Vault Comics this year. (I retroactively make These Savage Shores my favorite comic of 2019.) As far as prose, I mainly read SF, and Vault nicely fills that niche in the comics landscape and features talented, idiosyncratic creative teams. Heavy is no exception as Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter tell the story of Bill, who was gunned down by some mobsters, and now is separated from his wife in a place called “The Wait” where he has to set right enough multiversal wrongs via violence to be reunited with her in Heaven. This series is a glorious grab bag of hyperviolence, psychological examinations of toxic masculinity, and moral philosophy. Heavy also has a filthy and non-heteronormative sense of humor. Donovan and Peter bring a high level of chaotic energy to the book’s visuals and are game for both tenderhearted flashbacks as well as brawls with literal cum monsters. In addition to all this, Bemis and Donovan aren’t afraid to play with and deconstruct their series’ premise, which is what makes Heavy my ongoing monthly comic.
Writer/artist Katie Skelly puts her own spin on the true crime genre inMaids, a highly stylized account of Christine and Lea Papin murdering their employers in France during the 1930s. Skelly’s linework and eye popping colors expertly convey the trauma and isolation that the Papins go through as they are at the beck and call of the family they work almost 24/7. Flashbacks add depth and context to Christine and Lea’s characters and provide fuel to the fire of the class warfare that they end up engaging in. Skelly’s simple, yet iconic approach character design really allowed me to connect with the Papins and empathize with them during the build-up from a new job to murder and mayhem. Maids is truly a showcase for a gifted cartoonist and not just a summary of historical events.
In her webcomic Grind Like A Girl, cartoonist Veronica Casson tells the story of growing up trans in 1990s New Jersey. The memoir recently came to a beautiful conclusion with Casson showing her first forays into New York, meeting other trans women, and finding a sense of community with them that was almost the polar opposite of her experiences in high school. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Veronica Casson’s art style during different periods of her life from an almost Peanuts vibe for her childhood to using more flowing lines, bright colors, and ambitious panel layouts as an older teen and finally an adult. She also does a good job using the Instagram platform to give readers a true “guided view” experience and point out certain details before putting it all together in a single page so one can appreciate the comic at both a macro/micro levels. All in all, Grind Like A Girl is a personal and stylish coming of age memoir from Veronica Casson, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.
Thai/Italian cartoonist Elisa Macellari tells an unconventional World War II story in Papaya Salad, a recently translated history comic about her great uncle Sompong, who just wanted to see the world. However, he ended up serving with the Thai diplomatic corps in Italy, Germany, and Austria during World War II. Macellari uses a recipe for her great uncle’s favorite dish, papaya salad, to structure the comic, and her work has a warm, dreamlike quality to go with the reality of the places that Sampong visits and works at. Also, it’s very refreshing to get a non-American or British perspective on this time in history as Sampong grapples with the shifting status of Thailand during the war as well as the racism of American soldiers, who celebrate the atomic bomb and lump him and his colleagues with the Japanese officers, and are not shown in a very positive light. However, deep down, Papaya Salad is a love story filled with small human moments that make life worth living, like appetizing meals, jokes during dark times, and faith in something beyond ourselves. It’s a real showcase of the comics medium’s ability to tell stories from a unique point of view.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (with colorist Jacob Phillips) are two creators whose work has graced my “favorite comics” list many times. And this time they really outdid themselves with the graphic novella Pulpabout the final days of Max Winters, a gunslinger-turned-Western dime novelist. It’s a character study peppered with flashbacks as Phillips and Phillips use changes in body posture and color palette to show Max getting older while his passion for resisting those who would exploit others is still intact. Basically, he can shoot and rob fascists just like he shot and robbed cattle barons back in the day. Brubaker and Phillips understand that genre fiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is informed by the historical context around it, which is what makes Pulp such a compelling read. If you like your explorations of the banality of evil and creeping specter of fascism with heists, gun battles, and plenty of introspection, then this is the comic for you.
Music is my next favorite interest after comics so My Riot was an easy pick for my favorite comics list. The book is a coming of age story filtered through 1990s riot girl music from writer Rick Spears and artist Emmett Helen. It follows the life of Valerie, who goes from doing ballet and living a fairly conservative suburban life to being the frontwoman and songwriter for a cult riot girl band. Much of this transformation happens through Helen’s art and colors as his palette comes to life just as Valerie does when she successfully calls out some audience members/her boyfriend for being sexist and patronizing. The comic itself also takes on a much more DIY quality with its layouts and storytelling design as well as how the characters look and act. My Riot is about the power of music to find one’s identify and true self and build a community like The Proper Ladies do throughout the book. Valerie’s arc is definitely empowering and relatable for any queer kid, who was forced to conform to way of life and thinking that wasn’t their own.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: slice of life is my all-time favorite comic book genre. So, I was overjoyed when writers Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, artist Jenny D. Fine, and colorist Mx. Struble announced that they were doing a monthly slice of life comic about a brother, sister, and their best friend/ex-boyfriend (respectively) set in San Francisco that also touched on the gay and indie music scene. And Getting It Together definitely has lifted up to my pre-release hype as Grace and Spahi have fleshed out a complex web of relationships and drama with gorgeous and occasionally hilarious art by Fine and Struble. There are gay and bisexual characters all over the book with different personalities and approaches to life, dating, and relationships, which is refreshing too. Grace, Spahi, and Fine also take some time away from the drama to let us know about the ensemble cast’s passions and struggles like indie musician Lauren’s lifelong love for songwriting even if her band has a joke name (Nipslip), or her ex-boyfriend Sam’s issues with mental health. I would definitely love to spend more than four issues with these folks.
My favorite comic of 2020 was The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott , a debut graphic novel by cartoonist Zoe Thorogood.The premise of the comic is that Billie is an artist who is going blind in two weeks, and she must come up with some paintings for her debut gallery show during that time period. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott boasts an adorably idiosyncratic cast of characters that Thorogood lovingly brings to life with warm visuals and naturalistic dialogue as Billie goes from making art alone in her room to making connections with the people around her, especially Rachel, a passionate folk punk musician. The book also acts as a powerful advocate for the inspirational quality of art and the act of creation. Zoe Thorogood even creates “art within the art” and concludes the story with the different portraits that Billie painted throughout her travels. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott was the hopeful comic that I needed in a dark year and one I will cherish for quite some time as I ooh and aah over Thorogood’s skill with everything from drawing different hair styles to crafting horrific dream sequences featuring eyeballs.
I’ve heard for so many years how great John Byrne’s Superman work was. He took over post-Crisis and redefined the character for the (then) modern age. Not an easy book to collect, with various out-of-print volumes. DC Comics has finally released a hardcover collecting the first part of Byrne’s work in Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1. I hold his X-Men, Fantastic Four and even his Alpha Flight stuff in pretty high regard. I’m not a huge Superman fan or DC fan. Would I feel the same way with Supes?
The story is one we’re all familiar with: A scientist on a doomed planet sends his only son across the universe to an alien planet in an attempt to save his life and to spare him from his home world’s destruction. Upon crash-landing on Earth, he’s found by your typical Earth couple who adopt him and raise him as their own and in doing so, he discovers his amazing abilities and decides to use those to help do the right thing and save others. From there, tales with Braniac, Darkseid, the Phantom Stranger and others round out the volume.
John Byrne’s Superman work ends up being pretty stellar to someone like me, who gets to read it for the first time so many decades later. For one, I feel that for one who doesn’t love the decompression of storytelling that everyone has embraced, the pacing is quite enjoyable. The Man Of Steel mini-series would take well over a year by the new standard if done today. I felt like Byrne understood the characters. He wrote a truly amazing Superman and put him through the ringer, so to speak. And in saying that, Superman comes off truly relevant to the world he exists in. Art-wise, I have always enjoyed John Byrne’s pencils/art and so I knew what I was getting into with this. I knew that part would not disappoint.
Any problems? Mostly that I’m not a huge Superman fan. It feels odd to like this as much as I do. I’m sure a more traveled Superman/DC Comics fan could pick this apart but from what I know, this is one of the most sought-after comic book runs to get collected again. For me, it’s great to know that something that I’ve heard be so enjoyable actually held up over time, at least for me. This first volume maintains its look by having the art being done by Byrne and by Jerry Ordway in some spots. Terry Austin is one of the inkers involved with this and he’s probably the best inker Byrne worked with. The Adventures Of Superman issues are written by Marv Wolfman and also included. It’s great to see the other books of this era included.
Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1 ends up collecting Byrne’s Man Of Steel mini-series, Superman 1-4, Adventures Of Superman 424-428, and Action Comics 584 through 587. Some extras included are some Who’s Who ‘87 entries. It has a cover price of $49.99 and feels totally worth the price. Also, if DC Comics had released this a few years ago, it would most-likely just have a plain hardcover design underneath the dust jacket. This collection has a very nice art-on-book cover under the DJ. DC Comics has started to put some real quality on the collected editions that get released. If you are a Supes fan, this is one for you.
Story: John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway Art: John Byrne, Jerry Ordway Ink: Dick Giordano, Terry Austin, Jerry Ordway, Mike Machlan, Karl Kesel Color: Tom Ziuko Letterer: John Costanza, Albert DeGuzman Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: A definite read
Comic shops have been seeing added pressure, challenges, and obstacles over the past three months with COVID-19 and a downturn economy. Publisher AfterShock Comics, has announced the release of Support Our Shops (S.O.S.), a 48-page comic featuring seven stories from top creators, to be distributed at no cost to comic shops through Diamond Comic Distributors.
S.O.S.features from some of the industry’s most celebrated creators emphasizing that fundamentally irreplaceable role played by comic shops in their lives and in the lives of fans. The title includes exclusive stories from Cullen Bunn, Stephanie Phillips, Zac Thompson, Steve Orlando, Jamie McKelvie, Jerry Ordway, and Aaron Douglas, with art from Leila Leiz, Don Kramer, Szymon Kudranski, Ro Stein,and Ted Brandt, Gordon Purcell and Cliff Richards, with cover conceived and executed by David Mack.
S.O.S. will be distributed to Diamond’s top-ranked 200 AfterShock accounts, which will each receive 20 free copies (per storefront) with their 6/24 on-sale books.The next 300 highest ranked stores will each receive 10 free copies. Stores not included in this ranking may receive a number of copies upon request or through their AfterShock Ambassador.
AfterShock’s S.O.S. was created so that each comic shop can leverage the title to best suit their individual needs and goals. It can be given away free, used as a purchase incentive, put into the pull boxes of AfterShock readers, or sold directly to consumers at a suggested price to help recoup losses that may have been sustained through pandemic-related closures and events.
Interview with comics artist/writer Jerry Ordway continues! Jerry’s been making superhero comics for DC and Marvel for 40 years. He’s the guy who made people care about Shazam and the All Star Squadron again. He inked Crisis on Infinite Earths. He’s partnered with writers like Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Michael Moorecock, and Neil Gaiman. His essay on age discrimination in the industry put a name to a significant problem in comics http://ordstersrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/03/life-over-fifty.html
In part two of our interview, we talk about why we love hand lettering, the nightmare of Superman continuity, how he approached his groundbreaking graphic novel The Power of Shazam, on working with Michael Moorecock on Tom Strong, Warren Ellis on Planetary and creating a Loki story for Neil Gaiman’s Norse mythology book!
Whether you’re new to Jerry’s work or a long time fan you’ll learn a ton about the process of inking and drawing comics (traditional and digital), industry history, Alan Moore anecdotes and why he actually likes drawing boats and buildings (and how he does it so darn elegantly).
Comics artist/writer Jerry Ordway has been making superhero comics for DC and Marvel for 40 years. He’s the guy who made people care about Shazam and the Justice Society of America again. He inked Crisis on Infinite Earths. He’s partnered with writers like Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Michael Moorecock, and Neil Gaiman.
Welcome to a special two-part interview. Whether you’re new to Jerry’s work or a long time fan you’ll learn a ton about the process of inking and drawing comics, industry history, the secret workings of Letter Columns–and why Jerry tends to avoid name dropping bands in his comics, or drawing Lobo.
In part one we cover the start of his career, what it was like working on one of the 1st big comics mega-events, what makes the JSA tick, how he approaches Shazam and his indie horror work Semiautomagic with Alex di Campi.
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site
(W) Alan Brennert, Kurt Busiek (A) Jerry Ordway (CA) Alex Ross Rated T+ In Shops: Mar 11, 2020 SRP: $4.99
It begins here – a series of specials that show us Marvel’s greatest characters from the Golden Age to today, all through the eyes of ordinary people! Project curator Kurt Busiek (Marvels, Astro City) has brought together an amazing assemblage of talent to bring you a total of eight new and unusual viewpoints on Marvel history and Marvel heroes, two per month for the next four months. To kick it all off, best-selling novelist and Emmy Award-winning TV writer Alan Brennert (L.A. LAW, TWILIGHT ZONE) and superstar artist Jerry Ordway (All-Star Squadron, Crisis on Infinite Earths) to tell a story of Marvel’s debut superstar: Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. It’s 1946, and the boys are back from World War II. But they haven’t left the battlefields behind, as reporter Betty Dean discovers when she and Namor reunite for an outing at Palisades Park, only to find themselves under attack. Also featuring the All-Winners Squad. A dramatic, unexpected and revealing tour through the Marvel Universe by a cornucopia of amazing creators.
Script: Alex de Campi Art: Robert Hack, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jack Morelli Cover: Robert Hack, Kelly Fitzpatrick Variant Covers: Thomas Mandrake, Les McClaine, Jerry Ordway, Jeff Shultz, Wilfredo Torres On Sale Date: 1/22 32-page, full color comic $3.99 U.S.
Classic Betty and Veronica have enlisted the help of an unexpected friend to combat against the Predator war raging inside the halls of Riverdale High, while new-Riverdale Betty and Jughead are traveling far, far away to fight the good fight right at its source in the conclusion to this epic crossover event!