Tag Archives: john arcudi

SDCC 2018: Dark Horse Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Hellboy’s First Appearance at San Diego Comic-Con With 3 New Mignolaverse Titles

In 1993, legendary comic book creator Mike Mignola’s most famous creation, Hellboy, first appeared in a four page, black and white story in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2, months ahead of his full issue comic book debut in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. Co-published by Dark Horse Comics, this story introduced one of the most beloved comic book characters in history and launched what would become known as the Mignolaverse — the strange, shared universe of comic books and graphic novels, comprised of acclaimed titles including Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.Abe SapienB.P.R.D.Frankenstein UndergroundLobster JohnsonThe Visitor: How and Why He Stayed and Witchfinder.

25 years later, Mignola is once again returning as a Special Guest to San Diego Comic-Con International, where the convention will celebrate the 25th anniversary of that first 4-page story by including the historic story in their 2018 Souvenir Book. The story, which previously had been published with colors by acclaimed colorist Matt Hollingsworth, will now be colored by Eisner Award-winning colorist and longtime Mignola collaborator Dave Stewart and will appear alongside an all new interview with Mignola and Jed W. Keith. In addition, Mignola and Stewart have created an all new cover for the San Diego Comic-Con International Events Guide.

Ahead of the convention and the planned celebration of Mignola and his creation, Dark Horse Comics is announcing three new Mignolaverse comic books, which further expand and enrich the epic story that has been entertaining fans around the world for two and a half decades.

The three new titles, which Dark Horse Comics will publish in 2018, span the globe and showcase very different corners of the Mignolaverse — the occult cold war escalates in Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956; Lobster Johnson’s biggest foe, the Crimson Lotus, is featured in her first ever, eponymous mini-series; and the annual Hellboy Winter Special features festive and supernatural stories from Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck, Tonci Zonjic, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá.

The three new titles are:

Crimson Lotus five-issue mini series

Mike Mignola (W), John Arcudi (W), Mindy Lee (A), Michelle Madsen (C), Tonci Zonjic (Cover)
Issue 1 on sale date: 11/21/2018
Before she became Lobster Johnson’s biggest foe, the Crimson Lotus was a young girl whose family was caught up in the Russo-Japanese war. Thirty years later, the Lotus exacts her revenge with terrifying international ramifications, and two spies must try to chase her through China before they become flies in her web.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 five-issue mini series

Mike Mignola (W), Chris Roberson (W), Yishan Li (A), Mike Norton (A), Michael Avon Oeming (A), Dave Stewart (C), Dave Johnson (Cover)
Issue 1 on sale date: 11/28/2018
Pressure is mounting within the bureau to uncover the Soviets’ secret plans, but a suspicious cover-up leads one agent off the radar in search of answers. Meanwhile, demonic Soviet occult leader Varvara pushes her team to follow her own whims, and Hellboy is sent on the mission that would lead to his infamous misadventures in Mexico. But even more clandestine plots are at work—both inside the B.P.R.D. and out. Three different storylines are interwoven in this espionage saga.

Hellboy Winter Special 2018

Mike Mignola (W/Cover), Fábio Moon (W/A/variant cover), Gabriel Bá (W/A/Variant cover), Tonci Zonjic (W/A/C), Ben Stenbeck (A), Dave Stewart (C)
On sale date: 12/12/2018
Three wintery tales featuring a Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck team-up about a New Year’s Eve séance gone wrong when Hellboy visits a family’s English home, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá revisit B.P.R.D.: Vampire with a new tie-in story, and Tonci Zonjic returns to write and draw Lobster Johnson.

Fans will be able to ask Mignola about the new titles —and anything else the audience wants to talk about regarding his career —  at the San Diego Comic-Con international Spotlight panel on Mike Mignola on Friday, July 20th at 2:30 PM PT in Room: 24ABC. Mignola will also be signing at the Dark Horse Comics booth (#2615) on Friday July 20th at 4:30 PM and exhibiting at Booth #4901, alongside artists Geof Darrow, Frank Cho and Steve Purcell from Wednesday through Saturday.

The new titles join an exciting Mignolaverse publishing lineup for the year, including the Hellboy Omnibus Collection, which creates the definitive reading experience for Hellboy fans and an ideal entry point for new readers by publishing Mignola’s award-winning Hellboy stories in chronological order for the first time ever.

Review: Dead Inside #1

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Murder behind bars!

The Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve—but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

With Dead Inside, writer John Arcudi creates a complex murder mystery inside a prison. The concept sounds simple but Arcudi adds numerous layers to what is happening. And, that’s done with few characters so far. While this is just the first issue, the few main characters are well done and seem complex.

The art by Toni Fejzula has this almost visceral darkness to it. That’s enhanced by the large of amount of gore present and this is just the one issue. This series is clearly not made for the faint hearted.

If you’re a fan of police dramas, police procedurals, or noir crime comics, this is one that’s a must.

Story: John Arcudi Art: Toni Fejzula
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Dark Horse to Adapt Herman Melville’s Classic Moby Dick

Dark Horse Books is proud to announce the Vents d’Ouest graphic novel adaptation of Herman Melville’s timeless classic Moby Dick, available in English for the first time on February 8, 2017.

A masterpiece of French literary comics, this hardcover edition collects both Vents d’Ouest volumes and features illustrations by the award-winning French author and artist Christophe Chabouté. Striking black-and-white frames faithfully capture this Great American Novel as we follow the revenge-seeking voyage of Captain Ahab.

The graphic adaptation is perfect for literature lovers looking for a unique spin on the tale of the great white whale. The English edition includes a foreword by John Arcudi.

moby-dick

Toni Fejzula Talks Dead Inside Plus Design Sketches!

dins-1-cvrThe Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve-but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

Perfect for fans of crime and prison television, Dead Inside is written by John Arcudi with art by Toni Fejzula.

I got a chance to talk to Toni about the series and he provided some cool sketches and art for the comic series.

Graphic Policy: How’d you come on board Dead Inside?

Toni Fejzula: John offered me to work on this at the end of 2015. I was available so I didn’t hesitate. We’ve known each other since 2011–when he saw my blog and decided to contact me. Since then we’ve been talking about doing something together. Dark Horse hired me to work on Veil (with Greg Rucka) thanks to him, then came a Lobster Johnson one-shot issue with John (subtitled The Glass Mantis) and finally this. I heard that John had this idea a long time ago in his head, so I guess when he finally decided to realize it, he thought I was the right person.

GP: What about the series intrigued you that you wanted to work on it?

full-body-05-1TF: The possibility to design realistic characters and develop them in a closed space and realistic environment, but even that doesn’t mean the approach needs to be entirely realistic. I love to feel that the characters I’m drawing have a real emotional background. As there are no fantastic elements here, you really focus on these people’s drama and you try to reflect it on paper.

GP: One of the things that stands out to me after reading the first issue is the diversity of the look of characters. When it comes to the design of each, how’d that come about?

TF: I always start emphasizing the differences between characters regarding their silhouettes, proportions or shapes. I make sure there’s no confusion between them so each of them has a unique form. I influenced by the mid-20th century modern painters (Lucien Freud. Francis Bacon, etc.), and some sculptors (Brancusi, Giacometti, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, etc.) and they all had a very peculiar sense of volume that I tried to learn from. Sometimes, to set down the style for inking, I try to imagine that I’m carving on paper, for instance.

GP: A lot of your art that I’m familiar of has more of a horror tinge to it and this being a murder mystery there’s some overlap. What do you think the two styles of story have in common as far as looks?

cover-sketch-01-1TF: Technically speaking, the tools I’m using to create the oppressive and dense atmospheres in each type of stories are quite the same, therefore I don’t feel they’re distinct in that sense. I mean, a murder is something quite horrific too, so the main difference is that the terror is based here on something real, not supernatural. It’s stronger in many senses because it’s tangible.

GP: An aspect of the art I really enjoy is how grounded it looks, not just with the look of the world, but also the clothing everyone wears. It feels realistic. As an artist, are you looking at fashion and thinking through what they’d actually wear in real life?

TF: Oh, yes, when I imagined their clothing I tried to make them realistic. John helped me pretty much in that sense too. The only aspect that’s a bit old fashioned are those women’s jeans or trousers, they’re inspired from the seventies era because I like them far more then these that I see nowadays. I chose the orange prison dresses because they seemed like the right aesthetic to me, although I’m not sure these are really used in this kind of prison. For Linda, I chose a jacket I saw Rachel Weisz wearing in The Whistleblower, by the way.

GP: The issue takes place in a prison and morgue, locations we see a lot of in movies or tv shows. What type of research have you done as far as that? Have you mapped out where everything is in the prison?

sketch-warming-up-1TF: Although I watched many documentaries, John had a very clear idea on what environments he wanted to employ, so he’d send me huge zip files with many reference images before starting every issue. My notion of this prison is completely psychological. I draw the atmosphere and lighting on what each moment of this story needs dramatically speaking.  I have a vague idea of the map of the prison because I analyzed a lot of them, but there are no fixed placements here.

GP: How long does it take you to usually complete an issue?

TF: Two months, that’s what we accorded when I started working on this. I’m still a bit slow for US market work, I know, but I’m working on that…

GP: Technology seems to have really changed how artists and writers collaborate and the artistic process. Generally, how do you work? Is it digital? Pencil and paper?

prisoners-1-1TF: My finished black and white art is usually pencils, inks, and paper because I love traditional inks. Although I worked a lot with computer art I never managed to reproduce the fluidness, precision, and manageability of traditional brushes and pencils. It’s also not that easy with layouts and pencils because I often change my methods. Sometimes I do digital pencils because these can be faster, but I control better the composition when I work on real paper. On the other hand, I love having originals …

GP: What advice would you give an artist trying to break into comics?

TF: I think that your art (because this industry is based on artistic values) is a game you must play very seriously. The game notion is about the idea that you should never lose your sense of joy and enthusiasm to discover new things in your work. The seriousness concept is referred to the idea that the only way to achieve the previous notion is through the strict professionalism and hard work.

Very hard work is the only way to get somewhere, I think. The sense of sacrifice and, most of all, the fight against your doubts are very important concepts, because you most certainly won’t have immediate compensations for what you’re trying to do. You must convince people you’re working with that you’re doing the best for the project. When you work on something that’s the only thing that matters. Do the best art you can, try new things and try not to be late. There’s nothing worse than the feeling that the person you’re working with isn’t really involved in what you’re creating together.

GP: What else do you have coming up in the new year you can tell us about?

TF: I confess I still have no specific stuff. There are some ideas and projects I want to do, but still nothing concrete, I’m afraid… I was so focused on Dead Inside since April this year that I had no time to work on new things.

Preview: Dead Inside #1

Dead Inside #1

Writer: John Archudi
Artist: Toni Fejzula

This December, Dark Horse Comics will publish Dead Inside a new creator owned series from critically acclaimed writer John Arcudi and Veil artist Toni Fejzula. Dead Inside is a twisted, bloody and unexpected crime story where a murder has occurred in the least expected place: behind bars.

The Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve—but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

Issue one goes on sale December 21, 2016 and the series is already generating buzz.

dead-inside-1-1

Arcudi and Fejzula Lock Down New Series Dead Inside

This winter Dark Horse Comics is set to release Dead Inside, a brand-new creator-owned series from acclaimed writer John Arcudi and up-and-coming artist Toni Fejzula.

The Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County investigates crimes committed inside county jails. With a limited number of suspects who can’t escape, these are usually easy cases to solve—but not this one. As Detective Linda Caruso gets closer to the heart of the case, she discovers uncomfortable truths about her friends, her job, and herself.

With stunning covers by Dave Johnson, Dead Inside is perfect for fans of crime or prison television, such as Orange Is the New Black, American Crime Story, or Making a Murderer. With Dead Inside, Arcudi offers a fresh perspective on the ever-popular crime genre.

Dead Inside #1 (of 5) is in stores December 21, 2016.

Dead Inside

Whatever Happened to Jessica Jones?

JessicaJonesNYCC

Unfortunately, Jessica Jones hasn’t had a solo series since The Pulse was cancelled in 2006, except for a special one-off for 2015’s New York Comic Con. She’s had stories featuring her as the lead character in Brian Michael BendisNew Avengers, had a solo story by Bendis and her co-creator Michael Gaydos that is all but a pitch for Alias II in the Marvel 75th Anniversary Special, and even was a co-headliner in Chris Yost and Mike McKone‘s Spider-Island: The Avengers with Carol Danvers, but there have been no ongoing or miniseries with her as protagonist.

Also, even though Bendis gave her the semblance of an arc through six years of New Avengers as she went from mom to superhero and back to mom, Jessica has sadly become defined by her relationship with her husband Luke Cage and her daughter Dani. However, along the way, he has developed her relationships with Carol Danvers, Daredevil, and even Spider-Man, who she used to have a crush on back in high school and inspired her to first put on the Jewel costume. (This story is told in a wonderful backup drawn by former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada.)  And when Bendis was running the Avengers (and by extension) and the main Marvel events, she made appearances in such high profile storylines as Secret Invasion, Siege, and Fear Itself and the tie-ins to Civil War and Avengers vs. X-Men. With Hickman in charge of the Avengers the past couple of years and Bendis focusing on the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, she hasn’t appeared in any recent Marvel events, but this is going to change with Bendis penning Civil War II with artist Dave Marquez. Finally, Jessica is a consistent source of sarcasm and one-liners in the Marvel Universe making her a natural fit for the quip-heavy back and forth of the New Avengers team.

JessVows

The first defining post-Pulse event in the life of Jessica Jones as a character is her marriage to Luke Cage in New Avengers Annual #1, which acts as kind of an epilogue to The Pulse. Also, it ensured that thousands of more readers would be exposed to the relationship between Jessica and Luke, and it gives their wedding an “event” feel, like the previous high profile Marvel weddings between Reed and Sue Richards, Vision and Scarlet Witch, and Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson. Luke and Jessica were separated once when she decided to sign the Superhuman Registration Act to protect her and her baby, but they still remain married after 10 years. Bendis also doesn’t give into cliche in this issue and has the New Avengers fight the Super Adaptoid before the big day instead of having Black Widow’s replacement ruin the fun. Jessica also makes her own vows and says that Luke has inspired her and helped her not be stuck in her own head all the time, like the early arcs of Alias. It is touching climactic moment in their relationship, and artist Olivier Coipel captures it in usual clean art style and gives her a really poufy dress.

JessvsStark

The next big Jessica Jones moment (Sans her final guest spot in Young Avengers as team mentor where she gives Hawkeye’s bow to Kate Bishop and a couple appearances in Black Panther with Luke) is in New Avengers #22, which is a Civil War tie-in focused on Luke Cage deciding to not sign the Superhuman Registration Act. Bendis uses lots of loaded language and metaphors about the KKK and Jim Crow laws, but basically Luke wants to protect Harlem on his terms, not the government’s. Plus Jessica gets to call SHIELD, “the United States of corporate sellouts”. She shares a sad moment with Carol Danvers as it looks like the superhuman Civil War is going to fracture their friendship for a while, and she ends up not taking part in it going to Canada with her still unnamed daughter in tow for the duration of the event.

BabyDaniDanny

After the war, Jessica ends up on the run with the New Avengers, but instead of going on cool missions with them in Japan and fighting Japan, she stays cooped up in the Sanctum Sanctorum with Dani. Wong or Luke even does her shopping for her because of the Registration Act. Of course, this leads to some major cabin fever, and she snaps in New Avengers #33, which kicks off “The Trust” arc when the New Avengers decide to work with the Mighty Avengers to take on the Hood and a consortium of supervillains, who want to blow up Stark Tower. As a stay at home, she feels like she is suppressing who she really is, and this is confirmed in New Avengers #34 when Doctor Strange does an “imagery” spell on the team to see who they really are on the inside (and if they’re Skrulls.), and Jessica’s image is her in her Jewel costume. Bendis is foreshadowing her possible return to the superhero life, but she won’t join the New Avengers for quite a while. She does get to name her daughter, Danielle, after Danny Rand even though she jokes that the baby was named after Danny Partridge and empathizes with Luke’s paranoia that Dani is a Skrull in light of Elektra being outed as a Skrull in a previous arc.

JessWarOver

If New Avengers Annual #1 was the happiest moment for Luke and Jessica’s relationship, then New Avengers Annual #2 and its followup issue New Avengers #38, which is drawn by Michael Gaydos, is its darkest hour. In a frightening sequence of events, the Hood, who is majorly overpowered, overcomes the defenses of the Sanctum and Sanctorum causing Jessica to give Dani to Spider-Man while she runs away. She and Dani almost get sniped by Punisher villain Jigsaw, but Spidey saves them with his webs. The trauma of this attack causes Jessica to go to Avengers Tower and sign the Registration Act to protect Dani from both supervillains and Skrulls. She and Luke have a long argument where she tells him that he put his principles before being a father, and that all she cares about is Dani’s safety. He even almost gets arrested by the Mighty Avengers, but Carol does Jessica a solid and lets him go if he “thinks” about registering. Because Luke put his ideology before his family, Jessica and him separate with her staying in Avengers Tower, and him in an apartment owned by the Rand Corporation with the other New Avengers.

JessFindsLukesDad

However, thanks to a Skrull invasion and crossover event, Jessica and Luke reunite as she joins the fray in Secret Invasion #7 leaving Dani with Jarvis in Avengers Tower. This is the first time Jessica has been in action since she fought Norman Osborn in the first arc of The Pulse, and there’s nothing like a big group superhero fight to rekindle a relationship. Unfortunately, Jarvis is a Skrull and kidnaps Dani. In spite of this momentous event, Bendis even takes some time away from the action to tell a flashback story in New Avengers #47 with Michael Gaydos from her days in Alias Investigations when Luke hired Jessica (His third P.I. choice after Jessica Drew and Dakota North.) to find his dad so he can tell him that he’s not a criminal, but a hero. The flashback part is paced much like an issue of Alias with silent opening sequence and a dialogue heavy interview sequence shot with Luke emoting while Jessica is quiet and listens. Jessica does track him down and meets Luke’s step mom, who reads about his exploits as Power Man in the newspaper, and tries to show his father Luke’s good side. Sadly, they aren’t reunited, and Gaydos puts a literal screen door between them. However, Luke and Jessica grow closer and share a joke about Luke’s costume choices during the Bronze Age, and it cuts to the present where they talk about how Dani won’t have a normal life because they’re both superpowered people, but at least she’ll see the world.

Bendis uses Dani’s kidnapping as an opportunity to make Jessica and Luke the focus of the first post-Secret Invasion arc of New Avengers during 2009’s Dark Reign when the US government thought it was a good idea to put Norman Osborn in charge of SHIELD. After being just a mom and wife for most of his New Avengers run, Bendis and artist Philip Tan give her a more active role in the plot as she, Luke, and Wolverine interrogate a SHIELD agent, who is a Skrull after Jessica gets a Skrull detector from Invisible Woman. Then, Luke shows that he is willing to put Dani first and teams up with Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers to get her back from the Skrulls. However, he beats up Venom and Bullseye with a crowbar to show them that he doesn’t work for Osborn, which creates a tension leading to a conflict between the New Avengers and the government sanctioned, yet utterly evil Dark Avengers.

PeterJessFriends

At her new abode of Bucky’s apartment (He’s the current Captain America.), Jessica doesn’t get to play superhero, but she has more input in the New Avengers plans, like telling them to keep their battle with the Dark Avengers out of the apartment, and starts to forge a platonic relationship with Spider-Man after he reveals his secret identity to the team. Bendis and Tan mine a lot of humor out of Jessica’s high school crush on Peter, Luke’s feigned (Or is it.) jealousy, and the fact that he only knew her as “coma girl”. Bendis and Joe Quesada explore their relationship in more depth in a backup story in Amazing Spider-Man #601 retconning a background girl in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man #4 to be Jessica Jones as she watches Spider-Man beat up Sandman. She also gets a great line about Spider-Man starting his own religion with  “With great power comes great responsibility” and says she’ll teach Dani about that. Spider-Man talks to Jessica about showing Dani her best side, and maybe that means a return to superheroing. It’s a great backup that gives Jessica another relationship outside of Luke and Carol, but Quesada’s art is overly posed and not his best work. Jessica Jones also looks like Mary-Jane Watson with brown hair for some reason.

JessicaJonesSquadGoals

And Jessica does return into action when the Dark Avengers kidnap Luke, and Stuart Immonen ups New Avengers‘ visual quality when he becomes the new artist on the title towards the end of 2009. After shaking off some criticism from her mother, who is keeping Dani, Jessica spearheads Luke’s rescue by saying, “You don’t fucking mess with Luke Cage.”, a one-liner that should definitely be said some time in the Netflix Defenders show. And, in New Avengers #59, she assembles her own Defenders lineup of Daredevil, Hellcat (First canon meeting between Patsy and Jessica.), Dr. Voodoo, Misty Knight, The Thing, Valkyrie, and of course, Iron Fist to spring him from Norman Osborn. They rescue him easily, but in action movie villain fashion, there’s a bomb on Luke’s chest. It doesn’t detonate when Spider-Man plays it cold and blows up Osborn’s summer home again. (He probably did Harry’s homework there.) These events cause Luke and Jessica to consider their mom’s advice about finding a more normal life about Dani, and they daydream about walking through the park with Dani in her stroller and finding a place to live where they don’t have to be in hiding.

JewelisBack

Continuing the tradition of big Jessica Jones moments in New Avengers annuals, New Avengers Annual #3 features the return of the Jewel costume thanks to artist Mike Mayhew, who did the covers for The Pulse. The setup is reminiscent of DC’s Birds of Prey as the female members of the New Avengers: Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, and Mockingbird plus Jessica Jones team up to rescue Clint Barton from the Dark Avengers. They infiltrate Osborn’s helicarrier, kick around Mentallo aka the wannabe version of Mastermind, and grab Clint in a majestic fashion thanks to Mayhew’s painted art style. The successful mission has Jessica even more interested in being a superhero again and also features the return of Steve Rogers back from the dead to throw a wrench into everything as he becomes the head of SHIELD after Norman Osborn is arrested after the events of Siege, and the Superhuman Registration Act is repealed. This has a huge effect on the life of Jessica and Luke as they are no longer fugitives and take Dani on a simple walk in a New York City park in a gorgeous splash page from Bryan Hitch in New Avengers Finale #1.

But even if the happier times of the Heroic Age are upon Jessica Jones, she drew the short straw as Luke Cage got his own four issue miniseries called New Avengers: Luke Cage, written by BPRD‘s John Arcudi and drawn by Eric Canete (Martian Manhunter) and Pepe Larraz (Kanan). While Luke is off busting a crime and drug ring in Philadelphia, Arcudi writes Jessica Jones as a stereotypical nag constantly calling about him being back home instead of being sarcastically empathetic as a former superhero and private eye. To add insult to injury, Canete draws her like a teenage girl in a manga instead of an adult woman adding an air of creepiness into her all too brief scenes. Arcudi can spin a crime yarn, and Anete’s Philadelphia has real character, but their depiction of Jessica Jones is one note.

JessPunchesAgamotto

But even as she is turned into a sitcom wife in New Avengers: Luke Cage, Jessica Jones fared much better in the Heroic Age relaunch of New Avengers where Luke Cage bought Avengers Mansion from Tony Stark for $1 to house and support the New Avengers, who received a paycheck from SHIELD. Luke was still wary of getting a government paycheck because of his desire for independence, but Jessica accepted the check on his behalf and made a great quip about him being the original “hero for hire”. And she almost immediately jumps right back into battle when the Eye of Agamotto possesses Luke in New Avengers #2. Jessica punches it off him, and there is a lot of magic and possession genre stuff going like The Exorcist meets a standard superhero comic. She does get to punch ghosts and fly in Luke Cage to stop Agamotto (He’s a guy, actually.) opening a portal to scary dimensions along the way and rescue Carol Danvers from being incinerated by magical energy. You basically just want her to join the team.

JessBeatsDoombot

And she does take another step to being a full-fledged New Avenger by searching for a nanny in New Avengers #7, which features some funny Marvel D-lister cameos as Bendis and Immonen show they can deftly balance humor and action. She and Luke eventually settle on Squirrel Girl even though she has a bushy tail and a weird past with Wolverine because she can easily control her powers and is interested in working in childcare while she is a student at NYU. Getting Squirrel Girl as a nanny allows Luke and Jessica to go on their first real date possibly ever in New Avengers #8 as Daniel Acuna draws her at her most gorgeous. Luke thinks that Jessica would make a great Avenger as well as a mom and suggests the moniker “Power Woman” for her, which of course, she vetoes. In the issue, Bendis shows her torn between wanting to be present for Dani while wanting to inspire her as a superhero. And there’s a battle between her, Luke, and Doombot where she take the robot out with a fire hydrant. This is the spark that she needs to decide to join the New Avengers for real with Luke adorably saying, “Boo yah.” New Avengers #8 is the lighter counterpart to New Avengers #31 as Bendis focuses in on Jessica and Luke’s ever changing relationship and takes a break from villain plots or magical mumbo jumbo to give her a real milestone as a character even if she is technically a supporting character in the title.

JessJoinsAvengers

Jessica’s first mission is a pretty fun espionage tinged one fitted for Mike Deodato‘s photorealistic, noir style of art as she and the New Avengers hunt down Superia, who they later find out has a briefcase with the Infinity Formula that Nick Fury alive, not too old, and strong. She gets a pretty fun moment as she actually drives a truck to take down Superia while Luke carries his with his super strength with Iron Fist in it because Danny doesn’t have a driver’s license. Later, as a tie-in to Fear Itself, Jessica gets to punch Nazi robots controlled by the Red Skull’s daughter Sin, who has godlike status. It’s nice to see Jessica have an active role in a Marvel event for once instead of running away to Canada in Civil War, or staying in some kind of domicile like in Secret Invasion and Siege. She also gets a mini-team up with Squirrel Girl, who surprises Jessica with her squirrel summoning abilities, and successfully sets up the Avengers Mansion safety protocols to protect Dani. Nothing climactic happens to her in New Avengers Annual #1, but Bendis remembers she has a friendship with Daredevil from his days as her lawyer in Alias and client for her bodyguard services in his run on Daredevil. This is why it’s fitting that she gives him an Avengers keycard and welcomes to the team for a short duration as Bendis basically gets to make the New Avengers a clubhouse of all his favorite characters.

NormanThreatensDani

However, Jessica Jones’ Avengers status is less than permanent, and she completely unravels as a superhero in New Avengers #16.1, a special issue drawn by Neal Adams. Jessica is part of an escort to transfer Norman Osborn to the Raft when he becomes the Green Goblin again and threatens to kill Dani until Wolverine forces him to stand down with his claws. However, he ends up escaping, and a few issues later, Jessica confides in Luke that she is afraid to leave Dani’s side because Norman Osborn on the loose. Jessica’s concern for Dani’s safety causes her to sit out of the team’s next mission even though Squirrel Girl is there to watch the baby. Later, she uses her status as a relatively unknown superhero and tries to speak to protesters who decry the destruction left in the wake of the Avengers’ battle, but gets called a spoiled princess. This causes her to go on the run yet again with Dani and Squirrel Girl and argue with Luke for putting their daughter in harm’s way by being at Avengers Mansion. This is basically a rehashing of what went down in “Dark Reign”, but with Deodato instead of Immonen art except with Jessica quitting the Avengers team. Bendis and Deodato also make a clumsy parallel between Luke’s participation in Avengers vs. X-Men with a soldier going to war and leaving his family behind.

JessCaptainMarvel

Michael Gaydos makes his final (for now) return drawing the character of Jessica Jones in New Avengers #31, which is mostly a conversation between Jessica Jones and Carol Danvers, who has taken on the identity of Captain Marvel. Jessica feels like she has driven Luke to quit the New Avengers and is a “bad wife”, but Carol reassures her by telling her that it just took him a while to understand his responsibilities as a father and husband. Jessica is really happy with Carol’s new name and costume saying that it suits her as a great superhero and friend as she gets sarcastically sentimental. Even though some of the writing makes Luke seem flighty or a deadbeat dad, Bendis and Gaydos really capture what is great about Jessica and Carol’s friendship, and it’s a pity that they haven’t had much time to interact in issues after this arc of New Avengers. This is probably because Carol’s solo books, especially the past two volumes of Captain Marvel, are more concerned with cosmic threats and adventures than earthbound things. With Bendis on Civil War II, their lack of interactions will likely change, and it will be interesting to see if they resent each other after such a long absence.

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After a magically caused battle between the New Avengers and Avengers team, Jessica Jones finally says her goodbye to the team in New Avengers #34 as she, Luke, and Dani are there for the unveiling of a statue of Victoria Hand, who went from Norman Osborn’s stooge to government liaision to the Avengers, and dying heroically. It’s a pretty touching issue filled with lots of jokes about the events of previous issues, and she even gets a warm hug from Spider-Man. Deodato draws a beautiful double page spread showing all their big moments from Alias onwards as Bendis tries to make an argument that they were the heart of his New Avengers run. I could maybe see that Luke Cage was the focal point of his nine years on the family of books as he went from being a barely used supporting character in Daredevil and Alias to a team leader of both the New Avengers and the Thunderbolts. (He was more of the Tbolts’ babysitter.) However, Jessica Jones, despite her showcase issues, ended up mainly being a mom and sarcastic comic relief. For every scene where she got to punch a Doombot or joke around with Spider-Man, there’s another one where she’s standing silently with Dani on her arm with a baby bottle.

But, at least, while Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers was a key book in the Marvel Universe and led to or tied into the big summer event books, Jessica Jones got panel time. This hasn’t been the case since Jonathan Hickman and other writers have taken over the books titled Avengers and New Avengers. Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, and Mike Hawthorne use her as a nagging wife stereotype in a couple of stories dealing with Deadpool’s team up with Luke Cage and Iron Fist against the racist supervillain, White Man. It’s a pretty funny parody of the old Power Man and Iron Fist comics, and Jessica Jones does get one great moment when she punches Deadpool out a window when he remarks on her “post baby body.”

Jessica later becomes a supporting character when Luke Cage starts yet another Avengers team in Mighty Avengers, but Al Ewing is careful not to tread on old Bendis plot points and has Luke have the team meet in an old theatre while Jessica and Dani have their own apartment. She doesn’t factor into the plot much except for a great scene where she gets to clock Superior Spider-Man (When Dr. Octopus’ brain was in Peter Parker’s body, and he was a pompous ass.), but continues to be occasional support and comic relief and gets past Blue Marvel’s hard shell to chat about his college age daughter. Jessica plays a similar supporting role in David Walker and Sanford Greene‘s Power Man and Iron Fist where she exists to say funny lines and get on Luke’s case for not spending enough time with Dani. Again, she hasn’t factored into the plot so far in the first three issues.

On a brighter note, Jessica made an appearance in the epilogue of Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #5 in an homage to her friendship with Patsy in the Jessica Jones television show, which is the equivalent of her friendship of Carol Danvers in Alias without the extra Avengers and cosmic baggage. Jessica Jones is a P.I. for Alias Investigations in Hellcat and is actually working for Patsy’s rival, Hedy, which should stir up some real drama as the comic continues. And hopefully this portrayal continues to seep into the other corners of the Marvel Universe as Jessica is supposedly playing a role in Civil War II and getting her own solo series in its aftermath, written by Bendis with art by Michael Gaydos and covers by David Mack.

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Thanks to the high status Brian Michael Bendis has had in the Marvel stable of writers since in the mid-2000s, Jessica Jones had consistent appearances in the New Avengers titles as well as appearing in Avengers when she became a New Avenger during the Heroic Age. Because of her friendship with Spider-Man, she also appeared in some issues of Amazing Spider-Man, like when the New Avengers helped in the whole “Spider-Island” situation when random New York citizens all got powers, including Dani Cage-Jones, who promptly stuck Squirrel Girl to the wall. But her myriad appearances were mostly in support of Luke Cage or the New Avengers team with the exception of the occasional “solo” issue of New Avengers that Gaydos drew, or special annual that gave her a semblance of an arc.

Fans of Jessica Jones can only hope that Marvel’s heroic character who doesn’t want to be a superhero, overcame PTSD to be a great mom and Avenger, and might have the sharpest wit in all the Marvel Universe, but cares for the little guy and often helped out civilians while the rest of the New Avengers were punching things, gets a story of her own in the years to come and doesn’t have to play second fiddle to Luke Cage. The other Jessica gets a nuanced portrayal as mother, friend, and superhero in Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez‘s Spider-Woman, and I hope Jessica Jones gets a series like that soon, especially with the critical and commercial success of her Netflix show.

Review: Lobster Johnson: A Chain Forged In Life

LobsterComing from the pages of Hellboy, Lobster Johnson returns to save Santa Claus!

On a snowy Christmas Eve Santa was taken hostage after witnessing a hostile robbery and a man’s death. Hidden away in a mountain cabin, will the Lobster be able to find Santa and save Christmas?

While it may seem somewhat strange for Dark Horse to publish a story set around the Christmas period in the middle of July, and despite the solicitations heavily mentioning Santa Claus, this story could take place on any night during the winter. What we do get is some solid artwork by the entire team, colourists Kevin Nowlan and Dave Stewart and artists Troy Nixey and Kevin Nowlan alike. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi give us a classic heist crime story that would fit just as nicely on the newsstand racks in the twenties and thirties along side the other pulp magazines of the time as it does on a modern comic shop shelf.

Lobster Johnson is a vigilante that operated during the thirties, who wold utilize a pair of pistols and often used technology ahead of his time to fight gangland crime and more super natural threats. Earning a reputation for violence, the Lobster would often burn his claw motif into his victims.

Lobster Johnson: A Chain Forged In Life is a standalone one shot comic that requires no foreknowledge of either the Lobster or the comic he span out of Hellboy in order to be able to enjoy the story, so don’t let the rich history of those comics scare you away from Lobster Johnson: A Chain Forged In Life. This is a tale that is told from the perspective of Santa Claus, and casts the criminals that have him hostage into an almost horror story like setting as they try to avoid the wrath of the Lobster.

I really enjoyed this comic, and while I have no previous exposure to Lobster Johnson, I found that Lobster Johnson: A Chain Forged In Life is a comic book that doesn’t bog you down in previous story history, or deep character knowledge. Instead, this is a comic about a vigilante tracking criminals told largely from the criminals’ perspective. This is an interesting take on the classic story, and while it isn’t an entirely original concept, it is done very well here.

Lobster Johnson: A Chain Forged In Life is a good story that’s well worth looking into.

Story: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi Art: Troy Nixey, Kevin Nowlan Colorists: Kevin Nowlan, Dave Stewart
Story: 8 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review

Dark Horse Comics Announces Christmas in July & Major Hellboy & The BPRD News

HellboyAnd you thought the fireworks ended on the Fourth of July? In advance of San Diego Comic Con 2015, Dark Horse Comics revealed today a series of major announcements for the strange, shared Mignolaverse of comic books and graphic novels comprised of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, BPRD, Frankenstein Underground, Lobster Johnson and Witchfinder. In a year in which a new dinosaur has been named after Mike Mignola’s most famous creation and Dark Horse Comics has teased that “the impossible will happen” in the Mignolaverse, today’s news brings still more surprises: a new series, a new one-shot special,  new high profile collaborators and the departure of a longtime writer.

  • Legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and acclaimed Frankenstein Underground artist Ben Stenbeck will reunite to launch the new series Hellboy and the BPRD: 1953. Starting in October, timed to Halloween, they will release two one shots that follow Hellboy to England for his first-ever ghost hunt. Hellboy is joined by Professor Bruttenholm in the field to fight the phantom hand of a murderer and a demonic water spirit in stories reminiscent of the early Mignola masterpiece The Corpse.
  • Next January, the upcoming Hellboy Winter Special one-shot will include contributions of major, still unannounced comic book artists and will include the first ever Mignolaverse story co-written by Chris Roberson, the co-creator of iZOMBIE. Roberson and Mignola will co-write a 12 page story illustrated by Michael Walsh. The following month, Roberson will debut as the ongoing co-writer for Hellboy & The BPRD, with Mignola, working with artist Eisner & Harvey Award winning art team Paolo Rivera and Joe Rivera.
  • Next year will also see the conclusion of John Arcudi’s acclaimed run on BPRD which started in 2004. His run will conclude with issue 147 when BPRD: Hell on Earth concludes.

Arcudi gone? Roberson writing Hellboy!? The conclusion to Hell on Earth! Holy crap is it going to be an awesome time to be a fan of the Mignolaverse.

Preview: Rumble #5

Rumble #5

Story By: John Arcudi
Art By: James Harren
Cover By: James Harren
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: FEB150627
Published: April 29, 2015

BOOM! The first arc of “RUMBLE” comes to an end with even more weirdness, some headbusting, a cool monster ritual, and fire! And—AND!!—the biggest surprise yet! The end of an arc, sure, but the beginning of a really bizarre kind of war!

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