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Unboxing: April 2018’s Comic of the Month Club

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Review: Thunderbolts #1

TBOLTS2016001-cov-68f28Spinning out of the Avengers Standoff crossover, Marvel has decided to roll the dice and have a team not affiliated with the Avengers. The Thunderbolts have quite the pedigree as villains doing heroic things (or being part of a corrupt government) with writers like Kurt Busiek, Jeff Parker, and Warren Ellis having runs on the title, but unfortunately writer Jim Zub (Wayward) and artist Jon Malin (Youngblood) can’t live up to their predecessors despite the presence of some former Thunderbolts members like Moonstone and even fan (and Tumblr) favorite Bucky Barnes.

Thunderbolts is presumably an action book, but Malin’s art is nothing to write home about.  It mixes a more anatomically correct Rob Liefeld style (Especially in the way he draws Moonstone, the only adult female on the team.) with a touch of manga in the character of Kobik, a young child who can manipulate reality with the Cosmic Cube and is the wild card on the team. There is also some photorealism for Bucky because it seems like he has to look like Sebastian Stan with Captain America: Civil War coming out this week. Malin’s style with headbands and similar faces makes it hard to differentiate between Fixer and Atlas except for the first is an arrogant, technobabble spouting genius and the other one is not so smart. He spills cereal on himself in a scene that is supposed to be a playful bit of slapstick while Moonstone complains about their hideout not being like good ol’ Thunderbolts Island, but Malin’s art is too stiff to pull this off.

He and Zub do add a bit of pep and humor to Thunderbolts #1 every time Kobik shows up, and her interactions with Bucky are the best part of the comic. Bucky has taken Kobik in tow because she was used by SHIELD to brainwash supervillains in the town of Pleasant Hill during the Avengers Standoff crossover. He was also forced to do things against his will as the Winter Soldier so he has real connection with her and a nice rapport. Kobik calls him “Buckaroo” and asks if she brought him a souvenir from their cold open mission, which is shooting random SHIELD agents.

Bucky hopes to keep her out of action, but it’s hard to keep a lid on someone who can manipulate reality and hasn’t really been changed so Kobik ends up playing an integral part in the endgame of the first issue. And she might have a darker role on the Thunderbolts than the cute, almost omnipotent team’s little sister. The cliffhanger of Thunderbolts #1 is definitely a jarring tonal shift, but it’s better than a generic finding Inhuman cocoons plotline or the pointless drama between Bucky and Moonstone over who will lead the Thunderbolts when Bucky is the one who reassembled the team after they were brainwashed at Pleasant Hill.

Except for the interactions between Bucky and Kobik, Fixer’s supreme arrogance which ends up reading like a parody of Hank Pym and Reed Richards, and occasional fun banter from writer Jim Zub, Thunderbolts #1 is a paint by numbers superhero team book with a smidgen of espionage elements. And it slips from average to borderline bad in Jon Malin’s 1990s Marvel house style art work, which is an awkward fit for Matt Yackey’s garish digital colors.

Story: Jim Zub Art: Jon Malin Colors: Matt Yackey
Story: 6 Art: 4 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Red Skull #1

rs001There are likely those that think that the well of ideas for Secret Wars might already be exhausted, between the new material and the inspiration from previous crossovers or other inspirations.  If thinking only inside of Marvel, then they might be right, but Red Skull #1 proves that there is still some more distance to go in this massive crossover.  Although it draws upon characters from across Battleworld, this series is one which is at home in the heart of the Deadlands, the realm of the crossover title of Marvel Zombies vs. Age of Ultron.  The setup is not like anything from Marvel though, as it is essentially a Secret Wars version of the Suicide Squad.  This group of supervillains only has one job, to travel to the Deadlands and to prove that the Red Skull died after being exiled there.

The team is made up of an unlikely grouping of villains, similar once again to the Suicide Squad comparison – Electro, Moonstone, Magneto, Lady Deathstrike, Jack O’Lantern, and Bucky Barnes, seemingly acting in the Rick Flag role.  They are recruited by Crossbones, a one-time loyal follower of the Red Skull who has given him up for a blind allegiance to Doom.  He leads the team to the brink of danger before stopping to stand guard over the portal from which he expects them all to try to instantly escape.  The remainder of the story comes across as a bit of a juvenile wish list, with zombies, robots and dinosaurs, but the action never lets up in this exciting issue as the team get pretty close to discovering the source of their mission.

This issue proves that there are still some fresh ideas floating around in the somewhat constrained world of Secret Wars.  This has proven to be a winning formula elsewhere, and works well here too.  The combination of characters is broad, but it seems like they fit well together, even if they don’t have much of a chance yet at this point.  With so many other Secret Wars inspired series being born after this crossover, it would be nice to see one inspired by the same concept as presented here.  Many people will look at the title for this series and likely not give it a chance, but for those that do, they will find something pretty fun and probably what will become one of the highlights of the entire crossover.

Story:  Joshua Williamson Art: Luca Pizzari 
Story:  8.9 Art: 8.9  Overall: 8.9  Recommendation: Buy

Moonstone in January 2013

Kolchak and Dr. Moreau

Story: Mike Kelly
Art: Mark Grammel
Cover: Valarie Jones
60pgs, 7” x 10”, b/w, $5.99

All story, no ad pages!

The title says it all as Kolchak finds himself surrounded by creepy parts and pieces of science gone wrong! Is this what it seems like? Could it be reality, when it really started as fantasy from the past?

Kolchak the Lost World: bonus edition

Author: CJ Henderson
Cover: Douglas Klauba
978-1-936814-45-9
134pgs, 4.25” x 6.75”, $5.99

Previews exclusive!

From the author of the Brooklyn Knights novel series!

Due to the almost instant sell out of the first printing of this novel, Moonstone offers this new second edition with a BONUS never-before-seen Kolchak story!

After getting a serial killer to confess, Kolchak is offered an international assignment with massive coverage around the world. With fame and fortune finally within his reach, Kolchak is ready to cover the story, when he’s confronted by a mysterious monk who warns him that “the seventy-two must always be”.

Kolchak’s dreams are then invaded by unexplainable images that let him know every step he takes is bringing him closer to death.

PULP HEROES vs MONSTERS body bag

Writers: Nancy Holder, Martin Powell
Artists: Jay Piscopo
Covers: Dan Brereton
160pgs, grayscale, $11.99

Each pack contains one each of the 40pg comics, originally priced at a cumulative $15.96.: “The Spider vs the Werewolf”, “Domino Lady vs The Mummy”. “The Phantom Detective vs Frankenstein”, and “The Black Bat vs Dracula”.

**Retailer incentive: for each 2pks purchased, retailer gets one pack FREE!**

Unlikely Zombilicious Friendship Spurs From Zombies vs Cheerleaders Come August 2012

Unlikely Zombilicious Friendship Spurs From Zombies vs Cheerleaders Come August 2012

Moonstone is announcing a new Zombies vs Cheerleaders comic by creator Steven L. Frank. This time Frank is focusing his efforts on the unlikely zombie/cheerleader-couple of Becky and Bob.

“Becky and Bob are really fun characters to work with”, says creator Steven L. Frank. “While ZvC is funny, it is also very twisted. B&B is just fun. They argue and fight like a married couple, which is a wink to the zombie versus cheerleader concept.”

Furthermore it seems like Steven L. Frank has been listening to his fans: “Becky & Bob showed up as a back-up story in Zombies vs Cheerleaders #6 and the response was overwhelming, mostly good, ha ha. Bob actually showed up back in ZvC #3 in his own story. We hope people find this Misadventures of Becky & Bob one-shot to be a blast.”

On the artistic side there is plenty of new and old since “We will have a mix of artists for this book, it is an anthology like ZvC. Newcomer Danielle Soloud, who worked on the original B&B story, is on it, as well as ZvC veteran David Namisato, and others.”

It seems like Steven L. Frank has it all figured out, but he has yet one more thing to say: “The second trade comes out later this year, and the recurring title is still selling really well, so #7 will be out next month with more issues coming!”

Here is the complete blurb all rolled into one zombilicious package:

Zombies vs Cheerleaders Presents: The Misadventures of Becky and Bob #1

Straight from the pages of Zombies vs Cheerleaders!

Becky and Bob were introduced in Zombies vs Cheerleaders #6. A plucky cheerleader, Becky, has befriended a middle-aged zombie, Bob. Bob just wants to lead a regular life, although his insistence on hanging around with cheerleaders seems odd to most! Becky, having saved Bob’s “life” from some fraternity guys, feels obligated to protect him and help him feel more human. Read this debut issue of The Misadventures of Becky and Bob as they get into irreverent and crazy high school hi-jinks!

Written by Steven L Frank, with artwork by Danielle Gransuall, David Namisato and others!
Cover by Danielle Gransaull and a 1:10 variant cover by Justin Ridge (Star Wars: Clone Wars).

32pgs, color, $3.99

Check it out in this spectacular first issue! One’s hot and the other’s a zombie!

DriveThruComics Launches Hero Initiative Fundraiser with over 30 Comic Publishers!

March, 12th, 2012 — DriveThruComics.com has partnered with over 30 comic book publishers to offer a $20 bundle of digital comics for charity. Proceeds of the charity bundle, which has a retail value of $95, will be donated to the Hero Initiative. Participating publishers include: Top Cow Productions, Archaia Entertainment, Moonstone Books, Dork Storm Press, and a number of creator-owned and small press publishers.

Filip Sablik, Top Cow’s publisher says, “Top Cow has been a proud supported of the Hero Initiative from the beginning, with Jim McLauchlin, the current director of the charity being a former editor-in-chief at the Cow. We’re always thrilled to support Hero in any way we can and it’s very cool to see DriveThruComics stepping up to participate in this way!”

Since June 2011, DriveThruComics.com has offered customers the chance to make a $5 direct donation to the Hero Initiative. This new $20 DriveThruComics Charity Bundle offers participating publishers an opportunity to provide customers with an excellent selection of digital comics and raise money for this well-respected charity. Titles in this digital comic bundle include: Mouse Guard Fall 1152 #1 from Archaia Entertainment, First Born #1 from Top Cow Productions, Flare #20 from Heroic Publishing, the Harbor Moon graphic novel from Spoke Lane Entertainment, the Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink graphic novel from Dork Storm Press and many more!

DriveThruComics.com and its sister-site, DriveThruRPG.com, have previously offered charity bundles of digital product to benefit Doctors Without Borders in response to the earthquake in Haiti and flooding in Pakistan.

Visit DriveThruComics.com today and donate to the Hero Initiative!

About DriveThruComics:

DriveThruComics.com is part of a family of sites operated by OneBookShelf. From games, to comics, to fiction, starting an account on any of the sites gives you access to thousands of titles to satisfy the inner geek, grognard and fanboy we all have. DriveThruComics.com works with publishers and creators to offer digital and print editions of current and out-of-print comics to fans around the world.

On the web: http://www.drivethrucomics.com

About The Hero Initiative:

The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit over 40 creators and their families with over $400,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.

On the web: http://www.heroinitiative.org/

Sarah Palin is a Zombie


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Rotten #7 from Moonstone by Mark Rahner, Robert Horton and Dan Dougherty out this week has one zombie who looks a bit like a certain Republican politician.  Judge for yourself below.

Rotten #7 Sarah Palin

The same issue also takes a dig at Teabaggers and Bill O’Reilly.  The O’Reilly lookalike rouses a mob of folks to protest against a visiting Charles Darwin.  The panel is also a bit insulting to the faux Teabaggers referring to them as “troglodytes.”

Rotten #7 Tea Party(via Bleeding Cool)

Zeismic