Tag Archives: kill a man

Nuclear Family banner ad

Brett’s Favorite Comics of 2020 and a Reflection on the Past Year

The Recount #1

It feels weird writing a “best of” list for the past year since it’s been so difficult for so many. Writer Ron Marz Tweeted something like any comic that helped to get you through it is a favorite, and deep down I agree with that. It’s been a rough year for so many and it’s one where the comic industry was forced to mature and face reality in many ways.

Things shifted for everyone.

Publishers canceled projects, shifted schedules, and looked to go directly to the consumer. Creators looked for new ways to earn money and also go directly to the consumer. Stores were forced to market more taking to video, email, and social media to keep customers aware of the latest offerings and remind them of classics they might have missed. Some stores didn’t make it through the year. Others expanded. New ones joined the industry. Consumers had more choices than ever before that made it easier to escape the world burning around them and find enjoyment in make-believe worlds where justice prevails in the end.

In the end, though 2020 looked bleak, it left the comic industry as a whole stronger than ever before.

It feels weird doing this “best of” but at the same time I feel like I want to “honor” and spotlight the comics that got me through the year and had me excited to read the next issues. This is what I’ve read so if you don’t see something mentioned it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, I just might not have read it. Sorry, I can’t read everything (there was a massive glut in webcomics and manga for me).

So, in a bit different spin I’ve split this list into three sections.

  1. Comics where I’ve only read one issue so far, because that’s what’s been released, but am excited to see what comes in the new year.
  2. Comics I enjoyed each month and are kind of a “silver medal” for me. I wanted to acknowledge them but also didn’t want this to be an overwhelming essay. They’ll get more of a nod when I do a video of this.
  3. The ones I was excited to read each month or had an impact on me. These are the ones that go into my regular suggestions of comics to read down the road. The art, the stories, the presentation, they’re all at that “top of the game” level.

All of these are listed in no particular order (hell it’ll probably just be in alphabetical). Enough with the rambling… lets get on with some comics!

2020 gave us one, here’s ones I’m excited to read their second issues in 2021!

  • Batman: Black & White #1 – The first issue had some solid stories but it’s the art that really stood out. It was mind-blowing and one of the best comics visually released this year. Almost every story broke away from standard panels and was just amazing to look at. I have no idea if future issues will be like this but here’s hoping.
  • Black Cat #1 – The last volume was a lot of fun to read and this first issue continued that. Despite being a King in Black tie-in, the issue kept the focus on what Black Cat does best, steal things as everything collapses around her. There’s just a certain style and attitude that the creative team nails with this. It was a fun debut that you could just sit back, laugh while reading, and enjoy.
  • M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 – Marvel’s trying to make M.O.D.O.K. a thing. It’s kind of been his year between an upcoming HULU series, a popular miniature in Marvel: Crisis Protocol, and this comic. The first issue had me laughing and I’m hoping that continues.
  • The Other History of the DC Universe #1 – John Ridley is one of my favorite creators out there. His work in film and television have blown me away. It looks like DC has given him the opportunity to deliver a brutally honest take about the DC Universe from the perspective of people of color and the first issue is one of the best things I read all year. I can’t wait until the second and this man should be allowed to do whatever he wants.
  • The Recount #1 – The issue hit a bit close to reality. The President is a crook and assassinated and there’s an uprising to purge the country of everyone who supported him, from the Vice President down to voters. It was a hell of an opening issue and one that was chilling in so many ways.
Shang-Chi #1

Comics to check out…

These were all great reads and should go on your reading pile. These are ones I made sure to read every month and jumped at reading as soon as they crossed my desk. They’ll all get more love in my video version of this.

The comics that really stood out for the year.

All of these comics were ones that kept me thinking well after I read them and I’d be happy to read them again. Many are still ongoing while others have wrapped up their runs. Each stands out in its own special way.

Ginseng Roots #3
  • Black Widow – Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, Jordie Bellaire, and Cory Petit are the main creators on what’s been released so far and every issue has been amazing. Black Widow has been captured and brainwashed into believing a domestic life is real and hers. There’s been a great mix of humor, action, in this spy thriller and it’s sure to ramp up now based on the latest issue’s final moments. This is a great mix of storytelling and visual coolness.
  • Dead Day – Man, I really want this to be done as a television series and absolutely need more comics. Ryan Parrot, Evgeniy Bornyakov, Juancho!, and Charles Pritchett deliver a masterclass in world-building. Not only do they deliver an interesting story but have crafted a bigger world. For one night, the dead return, and while the comic really told the story of one family, each issue fleshed out enough of what this event’s impact would be elsewhere to get you to think and imagine.
  • Far Sector – N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell, and Deron Bennett have breathed a breath of fresh air into the Green Lanterns with this series. We’re taken to an alien world where a new Lantern named Jo must solve a murder which takes her deep into a corrupt society. It does what science fiction does best, explore our real world. The visuals are stunning as well in what is a comic that’s timely capturing the current zeitgeist.
  • Ginseng Roots – Craig Thompson explores his childhood in what’s one of the most original comics this year. In a small format and with minimal colors, the comic tells us the history of ginseng and Thompson’s childhood.
  • Harley Quinn Black + White + Red – DC really shook things up this year and one way was a greater focus on digital releases. This series was an anthology that delivered a different creative team with every chapter. We got to see over a dozen different takes on Harley Quinn each of which was entertaining. If you want to see how much the creators matter when it comes to the storytelling, here you go. This is also a perfect example of where digital comics should be going from major publishers.
  • Kill a Man – This story focused on a gay man’s battles within the world of MMA was an updated take on the Rocky formula and done so well. You can come at it as a fan of MMA, as someone who’s LGBTQ, both, or just wanting good storytelling. Emotional with great action, it’s a home run from the team of Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Al Morgan, and Jim Campbell.
  • Superman Smashes the Klan – The miniseries was collected and it’s amazing. Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru, and Janice Chiang deliver a comic that captures the heart of Superman. Based on the groundbreaking radio play where Superman takes on the KKK, this comic is amazing in every aspect, from the story to the visuals. Add in some extra material from Yang about his own experiences and it becomes a comic everyone should read and one that helps define Superman in one of his best depictions ever.
  • Vlad Dracul – Matteo Strukul, Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov, and Joel Rodriguez tell us the story about the very real Vlad, the inspiration for Dracula. I learned a hell of a lot and would love to see more comics like this. It’s a crazy read that can be enjoyed for the history and education and/or the brutal story itself that would fit any fantasy world.
  • We Live – The first issue was perfection and got me to choke up. Each subsequent issue has built upon the world. In this story humanity is almost over but a mysterious entity from space will save 5,000 children but first they must get to extraction points. This is a few kids’ stories and their journey of survival. By Inaki Miranda, Roy Miranda, Eva De La Cruz, and Dave Sharpe each issue is visually amazing plus there’s some awesome bonus music you can listen to while reading.
  • Yasmeen – Talk about an emotional gut-punch with each issue. Saif A. Ahmed, Fabiana Mascolo, and Robin Jones tell the story of Yasmeen who was captured and tortured by Isis and her attempt to deal with the PTSD while settling after in the United States. Just an amazing blend of storytelling and real recent history.

MMA, Alien, Future State, and Superman, Phillip Kennedy Johnson Talks about his Busy 2021 in Comics

Coming off of his well reviewed indie graphic novel Kill a Man (with Steve Orlando, Al Morgan, and Jim Campbell), Johnson sets his sites on two hot properties… one at Marvel and one at DC!

Joined by artist Salvador Larroca, Phillip launches the Alien franchise at Marvel with Alien #1 in March 2021!

In January, Johnson takes us to the future as part of DC’s Future State! He gives us a glimpse of what might be with Future State: House of El, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski and Superman: Worlds of War, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Mikel Janín.

In March we get the first tease of his recently announced take on Superman in Infinite Frontier #0 with artist Jamal Igle.

Then in March Johnson takes over Superman with artist Phil Hester and Action Comics with Eric Gapstur and is then joined in the coming months by Scott Godlewski (on Superman) and Daniel Sampere (on Action Comics) before reuniting with Future State: Superman: Worlds of War co-creator Mikel Janín on a special project that hasn’t been announced!

We’re talking MMA, Superman, Alien, 5G, and so much more!

Review: Kill a Man

James Bellyi is a celebrated Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star until he’s outed as gay by a rival fighter. Abandoned by his training camp, endorsements, fans, and sport, this is his story as he begins the journey to regain his title shot.

Story: Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Al Morgan
Color: Al Morgan
Letterer: Jim Campbell

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology

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

Around the Tubes

Kill a Man

The weekend is almost here! What geeky things will you all be doing? Sound off in the comments below! While you wait for the weekday to end and the weekend to begin, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Roll a natural 20 with POCKETSS – Free comics!

Kotaku – You Can All Get This Ugly Suit In Arkham Knight Now – Zur En Arrh ugly!? Hell no! It’s a classic!

Reviews

Talking Comics – Batman/Catwoman #1
Comics Bulletin – Detective Comics #826
Comic Watch – Kill A Man
CBR – The Union #1

Comics Deserve Better Episode 17: The Book Tour by Andi Watson

After a week off for Thanksgiving, Brian, Darci, and Logan are back to talk about indie comics. They discuss the announcement of the upcoming Houghton Mifflin graphic novel The Worst Ronin, the remastering of Mike Grell‘s legendary Jon Sable, Freelance series. and maybe dig into yaoi manga a little bit too much. Then, they chat about Andi Watson‘s 2020 comic The Book Tour, the black and white saga of an author who can’t sell a single copy of his book and keeps getting put up in worse and worse hotels and ends up in a quite conundrum and wrap up things up by mentioning what they’re thankful for in 2020. Other comics mentioned on the show include A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Fake, I Walk with Monsters, Lumberjanes: End of Summer, Trese, and Kill A Man.

(Episode art by Andi Watson)

Review: Kill a Man

Kill a Man

I’ve been a fan of MMA for quite some time. While my enthusiasm has waned in recent years, I still enjoy turning on the tv and catching the occasional fight. The sport, much like comics, has had a rocky relationship with the “outside” world. Both have been seen as juvenile and corrupting at various times. Both have also been accepted to become drivers in entertainment (ironically, also dominated by a few brands). Kill a Man is the latest comic to bring the world of MMA to the page. Unlike previous attempts, the focus isn’t so much about the punches and grappling but the fighters themselves. It delivers depth in character we haven’t really seen up to this point.

Written by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Kill a Man takes us through a new generation of fighter, James Bellyi, impacted by the in-ring death of his father. James is also gay and not out. In a world of machismo, sexuality is still a touchy subject and when James is outed, his world is turned upside down.

Orlando and Johnson deliver the takedowns and knee kicks but they also focus on James’ journey of being outed and the rejection it brings. Bellyi’s father was killed in the ring as payback for homophobic slurs directed at his opponent. James himself is deeply repressed. He has hidden his sexuality from those closest to him. That’s partially due to the world of MMA that he has trained for his entire life. It’s also due to the homophobic views of his mother who blames a “gay man” for killing her husband.

The two creators have delivered a fantastic graphic novel. As the story progresses they make sure to add layers to James’ character. We get a brutal tale in both the fighting but also James’ world. As his upbringing is revealed, we’re given hints as to why he’s hidden his sexuality beyond what happened to his father.

Orlando and Kennedy don’t dive too much into the foreign language of holds and moves of the MMA world. There is more than enough for those who enjoy the matchups. There’s enough detail and focus on moves or even how to fighters compare that there’s an authenticity to it. It’s still accessible for that are not familiar or lacking depth. I don’t need to know what an armbar is. I might understand taking someone to the ground. That’s a difference between being for a wide audience and the MMA diehards.

The art by Al Morgan and lettering by Jim Campbell are fantastic. There’s a gritty dirtiness to it all that fits James’ brutal life. It’s not just the fighting, it’s his upbringing and the world around him. There’s the punch but there’s also the sex which is more carnal than about connection. That aspect of James’ life delivers visuals that make it feel as cold as the fights in the ring about the physical dance than a connection otherwise. There’s a rawness in the fighting and in James’ personal life that the visuals emphasize.

Kill a Man is amazing with aspects of what I liked about the flow of films like Rocky or Creed. Yes, there’s some formula to it but there’s a focus on James as a person that’s missing from so many other stories. It’s a graphic novel with honesty and truthfulness about James’ experience you don’t see too often. There’s a rawness to it all both in and out of the ring with emotion flowing through it all.

Story: Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Al Morgan Letterer: Jim Campbell

Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Far Sector #9

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Batman/Catwoman #1 (DC Comics) – We read the first issue and mixed about it but this one is on a lot of people’s radars.

Black Widow #4 (Marvel) – This series has been fantastic so far. Full of action and humor, it’s just beyond entertaining, and this issue ups the “holy crap” factor.

Captain Canuck Season 5 #1 (Chapterhouse) – If you’re looking for superhero comics not from the big two, check this one out.

COVID Chronicles (AWA Studios) – Chronicling ten personal accounts from the frontlines of COVID-19. A perfect example of graphic journalism.

DCeased: Dead Planet #6 (DC Comics) – The series begins to up the action as numerous plot threads begin to come together for a hell of a battle.

E-Ratic #1 (AWA Studios) – A new superhero series staring a 15-year-old who can only use his powers for ten minutes at a time. The concept sounds interesting and it’s from the talented Kaare Andrews and Brian Reber.

Far Sector #9 (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal) – Things become much clearer in this issue as we continue to question who we can trust.

Happy Hour #2 (AHOY Comics) – In a world where you can’t be unhappy, the state will go to horrific lengths to make that happen. The first issue was an intriguing concept and we want to check out more.

Hellboy & the BPRD: Her Fatal Hour (Dark Horse) – The follow up to “The Beast of Vargu”, Hellboy is always a good time to read.

Justice League: Endless Winter #1 (DC Comics) – The mini-event kicks off here and it feels like an old-school DC storyline.

Kill a Man (AfterShock) – The highly anticipated MMA graphic novel is here and it exceeds our expectations. A great mix of focusing on characters and grappling.

King in Black #1 (Marvel) – Marvel’s next big event kicks off here and it’s a hell of a start.

Knock Em Dead #1 (AfterShock) – A new series from Eliot Rahal who we’ll read no matter what it is. This is a supernatural horror taking place in the world of stand-up comedy. We’re intrigued.

Lumberjanes: End of Summer #1 (BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box) – The beloved series wraps up.

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 (Marvel) – We laughed multiple times during this issue that’s a lot of fun. We can’t wait for the second issue.

Overwatch: Tracer – London Calling #1 (Dark Horse) – The hit game comes to comics and it’ll be interesting to see how this one goes over with that crowd.

Red Atlantis #2 (AfterShock) – The election thriller continues and we really want to know where this one’s going. Very timely and not a direction we’re expecting.

Seeds of Spring #1 (Microcosm Publishing) – A Canadian teenage exchanges books and tapes with a pen pal. The series juxtaposes the main character’s life with that of 19th-century Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin.

Strange Adventures #7 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – A hell of a reveal in this issue.

The Walking Dead Deluxe #4 (Image Comics/Skybound) – It’s been interesting reading these newly colored releases in the age of COVID. The context definitely has changed a bit since they were first released.

Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Kennedy Johnson talks comics, music, and storytelling!

Phillip Kennedy Johnson is a comic writer and also a soldier and musician. Johnson is currently writing The Last God for DC’s DC Black Label and Marvel Zombies: Ressurection for Marvel, and has written for BOOM!, Scout, IDW, and more! His MMA inspired graphic novel Kill a Man is out soon from AfterShock. The United States Army Field Band has released a video where Phillip discusses storytelling in art and music with some help from his colleagues.

What’s even cooler is Johnson has composed music, some specifically for the comics he’s created!

Featured in the video is music from Johnson and a little something you might recognize that’s not:

“Where Have You Gone, Joyful Valley of Old,” from Warlords of Appalachia
composer- Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Kennedy Johnson
vocals- Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Cady
mandolin and banjo- Master Sgt. John Lamirande
bass- Sgt. 1st Class Joel Ciaccio

“Hymn to Freyth, Son of Storms”
composed and performed by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Kennedy Johnson

“The Last God- Overture”
composer- Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Kennedy Johnson
mandolin- Staff Sgt. Joey Bennett
violin- Staff Sgt. Reneé Bennett
bass- Sgt. 1st Class Joel Ciaccio

“Sleep,” from The Last God
composer- Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Kennedy Johnson
vocals- Sgt. 1st Class Charis Strange
violin- Staff Sgt. Renee Bennett
guitar- Staff Sgt. Joey Bennett
bass- Sgt. 1st Class Joel Ciaccio and Staff Sgt. Hamilton Price

“Can You Read My Mind,” from Superman: The Movie
composer- John Williams
flugelhorn- Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Kennedy Johnson
bass- Staff Sgt. Hamilton Price
drums- Staff Sgt. Andy Emerich

Around the Tubes

Kill a Man

It would be new comic book day tomorrow… but, it can be new comic book every day! What new comics are you all checking out? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

CBLDF – Let’s Create Comic Books! New Free Templates for Inspiring Activities – Some help to have some fun while you spend the time.

The Beat – Rick Veitch is named the new Comics Laureate of Vermont – and check out his new Boy Maximortal book – Very cool and congrats!

Reviews

Newsarama – Finger Guns #2
The Beat – Kakushigoto: My Dad’s Secret Ambition
Monkeys Fighting Robots – Kill a Man
Monkeys Fighting Robots – The Scent of May Rain
Atomic Junk Shop – The Strange Ones
But Why Tho Podcast – Suncatcher

Early Review: Kill a Man

Kill a Man

I’ve been a fan of MMA for quite some time. While my enthusiasm has waned in recent years, I still enjoy turning on the tv and catching the occasional fight. The sport, much like comics, has had a rocky relationship with the “outside” world. Both have been seen as juvenile and corrupting at various times. Both have also been accepted to become drivers in entertainment (ironically, also dominated by a few brands). Kill a Man is the latest comic to bring the world of MMA to the page. Unlike previous attempts, the focus isn’t so much about the punches and grappling but the fighters themselves. It delivers depth in character we haven’t really seen up to this point.

Written by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Kill a Man takes us through a new generation of fighter, James Bellyi, impacted by the in-ring death of his father. James is also gay and not out. In a world of machismo, sexuality is still a touchy subject and when James is outed, his world is turned upside down.

Orlando and Johnson deliver the takedowns and knee kicks but they also focus on James’ journey of being outed and the rejection it brings. Bellyi’s father was killed in the ring as payback for homophobic slurs directed at his opponent. James himself is deeply repressed. He has hidden his sexuality from those closest to him. That’s partially due to the world of MMA that he has trained for his entire life. It’s also due to the homophobic views of his mother who blames a “gay man” for killing her husband.

While I have only been able to read the first half, the two creators have delivered a fantastic graphic novel. As the story progresses they make sure to add layers to James’ character. We get a brutal tale in both the fighting but also James’ world. As his upbringing is revealed we’re given hints as to why he’s hidden his sexuality beyond what happened to his father.

Orlando and Kennedy don’t dive too much into the foreign language of holds and moves of the MMA world. There is more than enough for those who enjoy the matchups. There’s enough detail and focus on moves or even how to fighters compare that there’s an authenticity to it. It’s still accessible for that are not familiar or lacking depth. I don’t need to know what an armbar is. I might understand taking someone to the ground. That’s a difference between being for a wide audience and the MMA diehards.

The art by Al Morgan and lettering by Jim Campbell are fantastic. There’s a gritty dirtiness to it all that fits James’ brutal life. It’s not just the fighting, it’s his upbringing and the world around him. There’s the punch but there’s also the sex which is more carnal than about connection. That aspect of James’ life delivers visuals that make it feel as cold as the fights in the ring about the physical dance than a connection otherwise. There’s a rawness in the fighting and in James’ personal life that the visuals emphasize.

Kill a Man has amazing potential and I’m excited to read the second half of the graphic novel. The first is so good and follows what I liked about the flow of films like Rocky or Creed. Yes, there’s some formula to it but there’s a focus on James as a person that’s missing from so many other stories. By the end of these initial 64 pages, I understand who he was and more importantly, I wanted to see where he, and the story, are going from there.

Kill a Man is set to be released June 3, 2020 and can be pre-ordered from shops.

Story: Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Al Morgan Letterer: Jim Campbell

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

« Older Entries