(W) Phillip Kennedy Johnson (A) Leonard Kirk (CA) Inhyuk Lee Parental Advisory In Shops: Oct 14, 2020 SRP: $3.99
THE HUNGER GROWS… The world is overrun with the flesh-eating monsters that used to be the heroes who kept it safe. Spider-Man made a promise to keep people safe, and he’s not going to quit, even in the literal jaws of death…
(W) Phillip Kennedy Johnson (A) Leonard Kirk (CA) Inhyuk Lee Parental Advisory In Shops: Sep 30, 2020 SRP: $3.99
THE HUNGER GROWS… The world is overrun with the flesh-eating monsters that used to be the heroes who kept it safe. Spider-Man made a promise to keep people safe, and he’s not going to quit, even in the literal jaws of death…
The zombie genre is one that comes and goes in popularity. It’s often a genre that works well as an allegory about the unease of the time. In this case, Marvel Zombies Resurrection #1 nails the zeitgeist with a release that adds layers to what could easily be a seasonal holiday fun release.
Marvel Zombies Resurrection #1 is the first issue of a limited series that’s a new take on Marvel’s popular zombie line of comics. A previous one-shot was released that was the lead up but one can dive into this debut without any issue.
Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson delivers a bit of a different take than previous Marvel Zombies volumes. Where humor and levity were the focus, this debut has a bit of a more dour tone. The comic has more in common with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road than the previous volumes of the series. And in many ways, it’s what’s needed.
Unlike previous volumes, we’re surrounded by a disease we can’t see. Many of us are parents or have protecting others on our minds. In that way, the zombie genre is ripe for a new allegorical spin reflecting on our current situation. And, that seems to be the direction Johnson is going.
The zombies have arrived and a small band of survivors that include Franklin and Valeria Richards, Peter Parker, Forge, and Moonstone are attempting to move forward. Much like the virus that haunts us currently, they’re plagued by what they don’t see around them. Zombies hunt their location while super powered ones can strike at any moment. It’s what we, and they, don’t see that builds a tension that drives the issue.
Johnson also focuses on the protector role for Spider-Man. He’s there to keep the remaining Richards children safe, as he’s promised. For a character that’s usually so joyful and full of quips, it’s a massive shift and you can feel the weight he’s dealing with. It’s a role parents find themselves in even without a real world pandemic but in the current climate, it’s hard to not reflect and compare what many of us are going through.
The serious nature of it all is enhanced by Leonard Kirk‘s art, Rachelle Rosenberg‘s colors, and Travis Lanham‘s lettering. Shadows and quick surprises keep readers on their toes. The dark color pallete enhances the depressing nature of it all. But, even with that more serious look, there’s still a lot to stop and say “cool” about. With Forge part of the team, we get awesome details like Cyclops’ head being used as a laser weapon and a nice take on a reused Sentinel.
The team nails the first issue with a nice mix of reflection, build up, and foreboding foreshadowing. It can get cliche at times, which genre stories can do, but there’s so much more here that twists what’s come before in previous volumes. While it might not feel like we need a story that reflects the current pandemic, Marvel Zombies Resurrection #1 in some ways is helpful to help center the reality we face. It creates entertainment we can relate to and in ways play out or fantasy and enhance the role many of us currently find ourselves. It’s a departure from previous volumes in tone but this newest volume of Marvel Zombies does exactly what horror and science-fiction is good at, talks about the world we find ourselves in.
(W) Phillip Kennedy Johnson (A) Leonard Kirk (CA) Inhyuk Lee Parental Advisory In Shops: Sep 02, 2020 SRP: $5.99
THE MARVEL ZOMBIES RISE AGAIN! When the corpse of Galactus reaches planet Earth carrying a cannibalistic virus, Spider-Man and a ragtag group of heroes struggle to save survivors and uncover the truth!
Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, is on a mission to consume the universe’s most powerful energy sources. Thor, the King of Asgard, has reluctantly agreed to serve as Galactus’s herald in order to stave off an even greater threat. But when the two discover an extremely powerful, mysterious source of energy known as the Zero Point, it will take more than the mighty Thor to save reality from Galactus’s deadly conquest! Prepare for an epic battle that will shake the foundations of the Marvel Universe and Fortnite!
A Marriage Fit For A Sinner
Written by Maya Blake Art by Rie Nakamura Purchase
In order to save the Pennington family from financial ruin, Eva reluctantly agrees to an arranged marriage. But on the night of the engagement announcement, a helicopter lands and out climbs Zaccheo Giordano, the man Eva’s father framed and imprisoned. The first step in Zaccheo’s plan for revenge after finally regaining his freedom is the ruin of his former lover Eva. He steals a kiss from her right in front of everyone, including her fiancé, and carries her away!
The Bedroom Business
Written by Sandra Myles Art by Kanako Uesugi Purchase
Investment broker Jake McBride lacks nothing when it comes to women and money. He is very open about the fact that his dates are nothing serious and that he’ll never have a lasting relationship. That’s why he’s never thought of his secretary, Emily, as anything more than a talented but slightly plain and uninteresting little sparrow. But when he sees a man ask her out, he gets irritated for some reason. Suddenly wanting to be closer to her, Jake becomes an instructor in love for innocent and shy Emily. He teaches her about clothes, shoes, hairstyles…and even how to kiss!
Spider-Man by Mark Millar Ultimate Collection
Written by Mark Millar Art by Frank Cho, Terry Dodson Cover by Terry Dodson Purchase
Collects Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1-12.
Peter Parker’s worst nightmare has come true: One ofSpider-Man’s enemies has learned his secret identity and is using that knowledge to strike at Peter’s family. Now, his Aunt May has been kidnapped — and his wife, Mary Jane, may be next. Forced into a personal battle against a mysterious foe devious enough to ensnare him in a vicious game of cat-and-mouse, Spider-Man must battle more than a dozen of his deadliest enemies to rescue his aunt. With the clock rapidly ticking down, will Spider-Man earn his greatest triumph or suffer his greatest defeat? In a spellbinding story superbly illustrated by fan-favorite artists Terry Dodson and Frank Cho, best-selling writer Mark Millar presents his definitive take on Marvel’s greatest hero — reinterpreting classic Spider-Man foes such as Dr. Octopus and the Vulture, and introducing an all-new Venom!
Spider-Man And Power Pack: Big-City Super Heroes
Written by Marc Sumerak Art by Gurihiru Cover by Gurihiru Purchase
Collects Spider-Man And Power Pack #1-4.
Zero-G! Lightspeed! Mass Master! Energizer! Together, they are Marvel’s youngest super heroes: Power Pack! When the Power family returns to New York for another exciting adventure, it isn’t long before our super siblings find themselves fighting side-by-side with everyone’s favorite wall-crawler, the Amazing Spider-Man! Featuring the villainy of Venom, the Sandman, the Vulture and more!
Spider-Man And The Fantastic Four: Silver Rage
Written by Jeff Parker Art by Mike Wieringo Cover by Mike Wieringo Purchase
Collects Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #1-4.
Two great tastes that taste great together! The world’s greatest super hero and the world’s greatest super team collide for an adventure set nowhere near a Civil War (and upon which we will not put a CIVIL WAR tie-in label)! After a visit by the Impossible Man, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is faced with a dangerous new alien threat for which he has only one recourse…call in the Fantastic Four. Separately, Spidey and the FF are the foundation of the Marvel Universe. Together…they just may save it!
Spider-Man Family: Back In Black
Written by Sean McKeever, Paul Tobin, Fred Van Lente Art by Pierre Alary, Terrell Bobbett, Leonard Kirk Cover by Marcelo Di Chiara Purchase
Collects Spider-Man Family (2007) #1-3.
The action begins with a feature-length tale starring Spider-Man’s alien costume and guest-starring the Sandman! Peter Parker would love nothing more than to get a good night’s sleep, but his sleek, symbiotic suit has plans of its own…and no one is gonna get in its way! Next, Venom is back in town, and he’s on a rampage…but it has nothing to do with his vendetta against Spidey? What could be so important that Venom doesn’t have the time to torture his nemesis? Peter Parker is determined to find out, but first he’ll have to match journalistic wits with none other than Eddie Brock! And finally, remember back in the day, when super heroes would fight other super heroes? What? That still happens? Civil…what? Well, ANYway…we’re taking you back in time, when Spidey was pretty new at all this super hero stuff, and would make silly mistakes, like, oh, say…knocking out the Invisible Girl! I think her friends might want to have a talk with the web-crawler. Plus: backup stories featuring the Lizard and TWO Scorpions!
Spider-Girl Presents Wild Thing: Crash Course
Written by Larry Hama Art by Ron Lim Cover by Ron Lim Purchase
Collects Wild Thing #0-5.
Daddy’s little girl, just like dear old Mom: The daughter of Wolverine and Elektra! A few years in the future, Wild Thing has to fight like there’s no tomorrow against demons, droids and desperados! Guest-starring Wolverine, Elektra and Jubilee of the X-People!
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AHOY Comics has announced its fifth wave of new titles to be published this fall and winter. The jam-packed line-up builds on AHOY’s tendency to tackle serious topics with their signature off-kilter humor. Readers will recoil from the brutal “Joy Police” in the brand new dystopian work Happy Hour from Peter Milligan and Michael Montenat; return to the world of Second Coming as Jesus and his roomie Sunstar deal with science denial and mass extinction; and pity Penultiman, the highly anticipated superhero title by Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson that questions what exactly humanity is evolving towards. Rounding out the list is a second season of smash hit The Wrong Earth, where sunny Dragonflyman and his dark reflection Dragonfly finally meet face to face, and a fresh season of boozy literary parodies under an all-new name—Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood—which will now feature a different cover artist each month, starting with the legendary Jill Thompson.
AHOY’s Wave 5 includes:
Ship date: 7 October 2020 Author(s): Tom Peyer Artist(s): Alan Robinson Cover Artist(s): Alan Robinson, Jamal Igle
Back from the future—again! Penultiman, The Next-To-Last-Stage In Human Evolution, is the greatest, best-looking, and most admired super-hero in the world! So how can he stop hating himself? His android understudy, Antepenultiman, thinks he knows the answer! Created by Tom Peyer (THE WRONG EARTH) and Alan Robinson (PLANET OF THE NERDS). Featuring a variant cover by Jamal Igle (THE WRONG EARTH, Black). Resolicited from the Plague Times – all previous orders have been cancelled.
EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF BLOOD #1
Ship Date: 21 October 2020 Authors: Paul Cornell, Dean Motter Artists: Russ Braun, Dean Motter Cover Artist: Jill Thompson
The SNIFTER OF TERROR returns with an all-star snark-fest under a bloody new title! Paul Cornell (Doctor Who) and Russell Braun (The Boys) reimagine Poe’s “Black Cat”––as a dog! In “Atlas Shrugged” (no relation), Mr. X creator Dean Motter settles science vs. religion once and for all! Plus: prose, pix, and a cover by Scary Godmother’s Jill Thompson!
HAPPY HOUR #1
Ship date: 4 November 2020 Author: Peter Milligan Artist: Michael Montenat Cover Artist: Michael Montenat
In future America, being happy isn’t just a right—it’s the law. While the Joy Police brutally enforce the cheery code, two young people go on the run, searching for a haven of melancholy where they can safely bask in the blues.
SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON #1
Ship date: 16 December 2020 Author: Mark Russell Artists: Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk Cover artist: Richard Pace
The savior and the superhero return for a new round of shared adventures––but first we turn back time to witness the interplanetary origin of Sunstar! Warning: portrays science denial, mass extinction, and real estate sales!
THE WRONG EARTH: NIGHT & DAY #1
Ship date: 6 January 2021 Author(s): Tom Peyer Artist(s): Jamal Igle, Juan Castro Cover Artist(s): Jamal Igle
The stars of THE WRONG EARTH and DRAGONFLY & DRAGONFLYMAN return! Racing to prevent identical catastrophes that threaten the separate earths they inhabit, gritty Dragonfly and his campy doppelganger Dragonflyman follow the clues to a third earth, where they at last come face-to-face!
(W) Mark Russell (A) Leonard Kirk (A/CA) Richard Pace In Shops: Feb 26, 2020 SRP: $19.99
The book everyone’s talking about, by award-winning writer Mark Russell (Wonder Twins, The Flintstones) and artist Richard Pace (Pitt, New Warriors) …now in one volume! God commands Earth’s mightiest superhero, Sunstar, to accept Jesus as his roommate and teach him how to use power more forcefully. Jesus, shocked at the way humans have twisted his message over two millennia, vows to straighten them out. Collects Second Coming #1-6.
Second Coming #6 channels The Last Temptation of Christ and Superfriends and is a solid season finale despite the occasional whiplash in tone from funny and satirical to earnest to maybe serious. Mark Russell, RichardPace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy spin the story of Sunstar’s wedding and Jesus’ final showdown with Satan that may have some people of faith have similar reactions as some Superman fans did to the ending of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
The best part of this comic and probably of the whole miniseries is how Russell and Pace riff on how Jesus, God the Father, and Satan are portrayed in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. (My favorite one is Jesus’ reaction to the writings of St. Paul.) With callbacks to changing water to wine, the Last Supper, and even Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the interrogate the nature of faith as well as the temptations of money and power that Jesus rejected according to the New Testament narrative. Pace’s scratchy inks and sepia color palette versus the cleaner lines, bright colors, and classical proportions of Kirk and Troy’s art in the Sunstar scenes create tension and doubt in these flashbacks.
Russell sometimes undercuts this by going for the easy, obvious joke (i.e. his description of circumcision), but from his work on the page and in the letters column, he seems to have a desire to grapple with the relationship between faith and religion, Instead of going the route of Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and seeing Abraham as a “knight of faith”, Russell and Pace point out the absurdity of his actions and especially the naivete of Isaac, who despite being a teenager, lets his father kill because God “said so”.
However, there is a positive side to this dig as Jesus shares with his new “followers” that they need to think carefully about what they choose to trust and believe and not just blindly do something or follow someone because they think a higher power told them to. Pace is great at showing the quick reactions to these ideas from Jesus’ new followers, who have a knee jerk reaction instead of listening and asking questions. Then, Leonard Kirk and Andy Troy jump back in when Sunstar comes to save the day to show the futility of the outwardly heroic, yet inwardly flawed superhero to bail him out. Jesus has to make a sacrifice, and in Second Coming, he makes an ideological one that raised the stakes higher than any crucifixion/resurrection redux or superhero slugfest.
Speaking of superheroes, these elements are the weakest in Second Coming, and the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that they were inserted to make the pitch more initially palatable to DC Comics/Vertigo. The superhero genre is so well-trodden, and Russell, Pace, Kirk, and Troy don’t really break new ground with Sunstar’s struggle to balance relationships with crime fighting. However, earlier issues created a nice contrast between Jesus’ pacifism and Sunstar’s violence. Russell and Pace unfortunately don’t have Jesus and Sunstar after Jesus gives into violence in the conclusion of Second Coming and just have him and Sheila be Jesus and God’s bowling partners. It’s a fun joke, but shows that the superhero part of Second Coming was just kind of there and didn’t really enhance the narrative except for the aforementioned visual contrast or a joke or two.
The final sequence of Second Coming #6 is both profound and banal. There are a few more fun jokes like God sucking at bowling and the “+” of the pregnancy looking like a cross. Russell and Pace are also trying to create some kind of meaning out of Jesus choosing to be a killer and not a martyr and land on “You messed up. There will be a fresh start next day/bowling frame.” There is a dark layer of irony to these statements because they’re delivered by God, who basically took this approach to the Earth and its inhabitants during Noah’s flood and was about to destroy the world again if Jesus was killed by modern humans. There’s a whole “I’m all powerful. I don’t give a shit.” attitude air to the gestures and body language that Richard Pace gives whereas Jesus is much more tense, angsty, and heavily inked. Life goes on, and there are no consequences. Oh, and look, here’s a miracle baby for the “faithful” Sheila and Sunstar because that’s something I’ve done in the past.
Second Coming #6 is a comic that is both entertaining and attempts at wrestling with the big questions in life, and Mark Russell, Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy succeed at the first part more than the second one. However, there’s also a level of humility to not trying to wrap up a tale of gods and humans, faith and doubt in an easily packaged takeaway. Just like God’s bowling game and metaphor, humans are flawed and messed up, but we have our moments and can find friendship and community like Jesus did with his superhero roommate in Second Coming.
Story: Mark Russell Art: Richard Pace with Leonard Kirk Colors: Andy Troy Letters: Rob Steen Story: 7.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.3 Recommendation: Read
Ahoy Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
2019 was an interesting year for me comics-wise as I did not get to read as widely or deeply as I liked because of a variety of factors, including my final two semesters of graduate school, working two library jobs (Where ordering and promoting comics were part of my duties.), and an impending move. Also, I decided to catch up on some “classic” comics like Miracleman, Ghost in the Shell, Junji Ito‘sTomie, and most of Brian Michael Bendis‘ and Michael Oeming‘s Powers, and Gail Simone‘s run on Secret Six.
However, I did have the opportunity to read some fantastic comics in 2019 as two of my favorite series of all time reached their conclusion. I also branched out a little bit, and this is the first time my year-end list has featured books from Ahoy and Harper Collins as well as a self-published comic.
10. Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion (Dark Horse)
Gerard Way, Gabriel Bá, and Nick Filardi‘s Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion is as wild and anarchic as the Netflix show was tame and Muggle-friendly. Hotel Oblivion is a love letter to Silver Age supervillains while actually taking time to deal with the relationships between the Hargreaves siblings. Bá and Filardi’s visuals are a chaos magic-shaped bullet to the head and especially sings in the world and city-rending set pieces towards the end of the miniseries that I read in trade paperback format.
Ned Barnett‘s self-published graphic memoir-meets-historical biography Dreamers of the Day is one of the most unique comics I’ve read in recent years. It chronicles the author’s trip to England as he conducts research on a graphic biography about T.E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia and is educational while being emotionally compelling. If there’s one word to describe this comic, it is “enthusiastic” as Barnett’s passion for making art, studying history, and making it relevant to contemporary readers shines through in his iconic, Herge-esque art style and accessible prose.
8. Winter Soldier#2-5(Marvel)
Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis create a redemptive narrative for the sidekick-turned assassin-turned superhero and occasional black ops agent, Bucky Barnes in their Winter Soldier miniseries. The comic’s beating heart is the flawed relationship between Bucky and RJ, a child assassin, that Bucky sees a lot of himself in. There is both humor and tragedy in their interactions. Reis’ lush pencils to color art style works for both the emotional breakdowns and action beatdowns.
7. Steeple #1-4 (Dark Horse)
The fantastic John Allison (Giant Days) both writes and draws this miniseries about an Anglican priest in training named Billie, who is assigned to a parish in the kooky village of Tredregyn, Cornwall. Steeple has an “anything but the kitchen sink” tone as its plots include fights against sea monsters, a charismatic Christian cult connected to windmills, and an ongoing conflict against the Church of Satan. (Billie also strikes up an unlikely friendship with the Satanic priestess, Maggie.) Allison mines a lot of humor out of the idiosyncrasies of different religions and small town life as well as the melodrama of good versus evil, and his art is expressive as always with the help of colorist Sarah Stern.
6. Second Coming #1-5 (Ahoy)
Speaking of religious satire, Mark Russell, Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy do an excellent job of showing how the historical figure Jesus would be received in the modern world with the twist of having an “edgy” superhero named Sunstar as a roommate. Beginning with a retelling of the creation of the world, Russell and Pace walk a tightrope between reverence and irreverence touching on a variety of issues, including megachurches, homophobia, and Pauline theology. Another enjoyable part of Second Coming is Leonard Kirk’s inking when the story decides to be a traditional superhero comic for a second, or there’s a flashback to Satan tempting Jesus as he plays a complex role in the narrative.
I knew Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain‘s Once and Future would be my cup of tea when it featured Arthurian legends and the town of Bath where I studied abroad in summer 2014 as plot points as well as having a complicated relationship between a grandmother and grandson at its core. Once and Future is action-packed read steeped in Arthurian lore with dynamic art from Mora and a mystical color palette from Bonvillain. It’s a straightforward adventure/dysfunctional family/romance comic that also plays with the symbols (Excalibur, Holy Grail etc.) and tropes of these kinds of stories, and I’m glad that it’s an ongoing and not just a mini.
4. Giant Days #46-54, As Time Goes By (BOOM! Studios)
Esther, Daisy, and Susan finally go their separate ways in the final issues of John Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar‘s Giant Days plus a reunion one-shot where Daisy and Susan tag-team and rescue Esther from the clutches of Type A London publishing types. The final year of Giant Days had a lot of pathos to go with its usual comedy with several issues focusing on the strained relationship between Susan’s boyfriend McGraw and his father and his reaction to his sudden death. There is also all the usual college shenanigans with moments of reflection to show that these women have come a long way from randomly sharing a room back in far off 2015.
3. House of X #1-6, Powers of X #1-6 (Marvel)
In their ambitious twelve-issue House of X/Powers of X “event”, Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, and Pepe Larraz made the X-Men relevant again thanks to a heavy dose of speculative fiction, geopolitics, and good old fashioned superhero soap opera. Hickman gave B-list characters like Goldballs, Doug Ramsey, and of course, Moira MacTaggert and the sentient island of Krakoa pivotal roles in his story of a rise of a mutant nation as well as the usual suspects like Magneto, Professor X, the Summers family, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost. He created a fantastic sandbox for these fan-favorite characters to play in as well as leaving some intrigue open for the spinoff stories. (The whole Moira X thing, Kitty Pryde being unable to enter Krakoa, Apocalypse and Sinister’s intentions.) I haven’t been this excited to read the X-Books as a line since Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen were writing Wolverine and the X-Men and Uncanny X-Men respectively. Plus the Hickman designed diagrams add great depth to the story and area visual treat.
2. New Kid (HarperCollins)
New Kid is a middle-grade graphic novel by cartoonist Jerry Craft that was recommended to me by my supervisor at the public library I worked at. Itis about an African-American teenager named Jordan, who transfers from a diverse public middle school to a less diverse private one. Over the course of the book, Craft fleshes out Jordan and his relationships with his old friends from his neighborhood to his new ones at the private school as he navigates playing soccer, racial microaggressions, crushes, and bonding over art and video games. The comic deftly navigates race and class issues while being an enjoyable slice of life story with Craft adding some fun visual flourishes like making the title page of each chapter a pop culture homage. New Kid‘s clear storytelling and a relatable storyline about not fitting in at a new school make it a book that I would recommend to kids and adults, comics and non-comics readers.
1. The Wicked + the Divine #41-45 (Image)
Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson really stuck the landing in the final arc of The Wicked + the Divine, which was titled “Okay” and followed the surviving Pantheon members as they gave up divinity and lived normal lives. Basically, they grew up, and so did I. The last issues of WicDiv are peppered with powerful moments as Gillen and McKelvie connect flashbacks of the millennia past to the Pantheon’s reality and let Ananke/Minerva be a manipulator, Luci be wicked, Baal be a protector, and Laura be human one last time. The final issue is an epilogue set in the future and filled with love and emotion with McKelvie and Wilson nailing the look of the elderly, former Pantheon members. It’s sad to see WicDiv go, but it had a beautiful ending and was my favorite comic, both of 2019 and of the decade as a whole.
(W) Mark Russell (A) Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk Cover: Amanda Conner November 27, 2019 $3.99
God and Satan get coffee. Sunstar receives a tempting offer from a brutal dictator. Jesus shares some sad, secret memories with his flock. EXTRA! A selection of short prose fiction, beautifully illustrated.