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The Revolution Never Sleeps with Chuck D and Z2 Comics

Z2, along with UMe/Def Jam, has announced the first-ever graphic novel from hip hop icon Chuck DApocalypse 91: The Revolution Never Sleepsthe latest in the publisher’s series of graphic celebrations of music icons which pair some of most notable names in comics with music luminaries from all genres. The book will be available in November, marking the 30th anniversary of the album that inspired it, Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black. Nominated for a GRAMMY Award, the album hit #4 on the Billboard 200 chart and featured powerful anthems “Shut ‘Em Down,” “Can’t Truss It” and “By the Time I Get To Arizona,” a fiery retort to the state governor’s refusal to recognize the new Martin Luther King, Jr national holiday.

Apocalypse 91: Revolution Never Sleeps begins in 1991 and explodes into far-flung futures with a series of speculative fiction stories by the industry’s leading creators, including Evan NarcisseRegine Sawyer (Dark Nights: Death Metal), Che GraysonTroy-Jeffrey Allen, and many more. Revolutionaries in every millennium stand up and fight the power.

The poignant and inspired graphic novel inspired by PE’s 1991 album, will be released in the fall of its thirtieth anniversary with multiple editions available to order now direct from Z2 Comics, including limited edition vinyl and prints exclusively available to the deluxe and super deluxe editions. In conjunction, UMe will release a special limited-edition version of this icon LP, originally released in 1991 by Def Jam Recordings.  Standard softcover and hardcover versions available in finer comic, book, and record stores everywhere in November. Preorder your copy today.

Apocalypse 91: The Revolution Never Sleeps

Z2 Comics and Anthrax’s Among the Living is Out in July

Since the first announcement of the upcoming graphic novel inspired by the titans of thrash metal’s landmark 1987 album, the project has remained one of the most anticipated releases of the year. It’s been announced that the Among the Living graphic novel will be released in stores everywhere on July 6! In an effort to support the comic book specialty market, which had been hardest by the COVID-19 health crisis of the past year, Anthrax and Z2 shipped a surprise limited number of copies early, with stores able to put out for sale this week!

The project pulls together a who’s who of names from around comics and music for a track-by-track storyline inspired by one of heavy metal’s most iconic albums with all four members of the classic Anthrax lineup contributing!

An anthology narrated by longtime mascot “The Not Man” newly designed by Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) and written by Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, Blondie: Against the Odds) and illustrated by classic Aliens artist Nelson; Among the Living unites bandmembers Joey BelladonnaFrank BelloCharlie Benante, and Scott Ian, with writers, artists, and other rock legends in a tribute to their landmark 1987 album, featuring covers by JG JonesEric Powell, and a preorder variant from Charlie Benante. Additional interior art and chapter breaks by SawbladeBrian Ewing, and Josh Bernstein.

Scott Ian will contribute an original story inspired by the fan favorite anthem “I Am the Law,” featuring the legendary comic book antihero Judge Dredd, in partnership with 2000 AD. This will make official the decades long connection between the character and the band, rewarding comic book fans and metalheads alike, and features art by longtime Dredd artist Chris Weston.

The full lineup can be found below:
1- Among the Living 
Writer: Brian Posehn
Artist: Scott Koblish and Alladin Collar

2- Caught in a Mosh 
Writer: Gerard and Mikey Way
Artist: Darick RobertsonPhillip Sevy and Alladin Collar

3- I Am the Law (featuring Judge Dredd)
Writer: Scott Ian
Artist: Chris Weston and Alladin Collar

4- Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
Writer: Rick Remender and Joe Trohman
Artist: Roland Boschi and Dan Brown

5- A Skeleton in the Closet 
Writer: Corey Taylor
Artist: Maan House

6- Indians 
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Freddie Williams II and Andrew Dalhouse

7- One World  
Writer: Frank Bello
Artist: Andy Belanger and Tatto Caballero

8- A.D.I./Horror of It All
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Dave Johnson

9- Imitation of Life
Writer: Rob Zombie
Artist: Erik Rodriguez and Steve Chanks

Alter Bridge and Z2 Comics Take You on a Tour of Horrors

Z2 Comics has announced this summer’s Alter Bridge: Tour of Horror! In the grand tradition of comic horror anthologies like Tales From the Crypt, Creepy, and Vault of Horror, Marvel writer Emily Ryan Lerner and a cast of top artists take fans on a fun-filled ride of thrills and chills!

To celebrate their comics debut, Alter Bridge will release a first-ever vinyl edition of their 2004 album, One Day Remains, available ONLY with the deluxe graphic novel package, exclusively through the Z2 website, and available for preorder now!

When one of Alter Bridge’s roadies goes missing, they find a GHOULISH replacement! And what better way to pass the time between gigs than with four terrifying tales that are sure to keep you up all night! Join Alter Bridge, writer Emily Ryan Lerner and more for a spine-tingling ride through the supernatural!!!

The Alter Bridge: Tour of Horrors graphic novel comes in at 120 pages and will be released in a standard hardcover edition in comic shops and bookstores alike in November 2021, as well special deluxe, super deluxe edition, and super-duper deluxe editions available for preorder now only through the Z2 website, which will include a special exclusive first-time vinyl edition of the band’s 2004 debut, One Day Remains, in a strictly limited edition of 3,000 copies across three premium editions!

Z2 Comics and Universal Announce a Freddie Mercury Graphic Novel

Z2 Comics is partnering with Universal Music Group and Mercury Songs Ltd for Freddie Mercury: Lover of Life, Singer of Songs, the first-ever graphic novel paying tribute to one of the greatest figures the music world has ever known. 
A first in the comics format, Freddie Mercury: Lover of Life, Singer of Songs will be a journey through Freddie’s life; from his childhood in Zanzibar and India’, through his formative years in England, to becoming the rock star, known and loved by millions around the globe. The story is told in his own words, with each chapter giving a glimpse into the many facets of his life. 
Written by Tres Dean, the graphic novel will give true insight into the many experiences that helped shape the young Farrokh Bulsara and his compelling existence, both on and off stage—that was the life of Freddie Mercury, Lover of Life, Singer of Songs.
Following up on the tremendous success of the Oscar-winning 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody, and inspired by the book Freddie Mercury: A Life, In His Own Words,  compiled by Greg Brooks and Simon Lupton, this upcoming graphic novel will be another essential addition to the bookshelf or coffee table of fans new and old, sumptuously illustrated by Kyla SmithRobin RichardsonSafiya Zerrougui, Tammy Wang, and Amy Liu, with accompanying cover painting by David Mack
Freddie Mercury: Lover of Life, Singer of Songs is available for preorder in standard 136-page softcover ($19.99) and hardcover ($29.99) editions, released in finer comic shops, book and record stores in November. Available exclusively through Z2 in a special hardcover deluxe edition for $99.99 complete with an exclusive vinyl LP, as well as limited edition prints by Sarah JonesKyla Smith, and Sanya Anwar. Reserve your copy today!

Freddie Mercury: Lover of Life, Singer of Songs

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Celebrate 40 Years with a Graphic Anthology

Z2 Comics has announced they will rock with the Queen of Rock n’ Roll; the woman who made it her anthem, and a battle cry for generations, Joan Jett. The collaboration celebrates the 40th anniversary of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Bad Reputation”.

This original graphic anthology pulls together a who’s who list of female creators from the comic book and pop culture worlds, including famed artist Tara McPherson to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 20 classic tracks featured on Joan’s landmark albums Bad Reputation and I Love Rock n’ Roll.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- 40×40: Bad Reputation/I Love Rock n’ Roll is written and drawn by some of the most renowned female creators from around the world, and is available for preorder now for a fall release in softcover and hardcover editions at finer comic shops, book, and record stores worldwide. Exclusively available through Z2’s website in limited quantities are the deluxe and super deluxe versions, packaged with exclusive vinyl, art prints and much more. To celebrate this 40th Anniversary, a “platinum edition” is available in an extremely limited quantity of just 40 units and includes a new Epiphone Guitar, gig bag, and signed certificate of authenticity. Reserve yours today!

Hamilton: How The Musical Led Me To The Graphic History

Over the last few years, I’d heard about a musical called Hamilton. I’m sure at this point you have too. I knew it was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, that the music was contemporary hip hop, the cast was diverse and that it had something to do with American history, and that people were going batshit crazy about the thing. I had no idea why it was garnering such rabid fans, but I was convinced it wasn’t something I’d be into. I mean, this English metalhead who’s interest in American history has always been pretty much confined to the Wild West/Frontier times could see nothing about Hamilton that tickled my fancy. It was a story set about a hundred years before my interest began, and was about the life of the first treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton. At the time I couldn’t care less about the play.

And so I ignored it when my friend, a musical fan, would bring it up in conversation and suggest that my wife and I listen to the soundtrack. But still, we had no real interest in Alexander Hamilton and his role as a founding father of the United States, so despite repeated entreaties and recommendations to listen to the play, we never pressed play on the soundtrack.

And then the musical landed on Disney +, but we still ignored it.

However after a few months, and mostly spurred by lockdown boredom, my wife decided that we were going to find out what all the hype was about, and so one Sunday afternoon we pressed play and settled in for the show. Honestly, I wasn’t that taken with it. I didn’t hate it, but had no intention to ever watch it again. My wife, however decided to put it on again a few nights later. I sat on the couch with a book and half listened to the music. I’ll admit to enjoying the songs a little more the second time through, and so when my wife sheepishly asked if I minded if she watched it again on the weekend I had no complaints. I picked up my book again and settled in to listen to the music as I read. I glanced up early in the musical (during the first song, I think) and realized she had the subtitles on so she could catch more of the lyrics which turned out to be a game changer.

I didn’t read my book during this viewing, and was glued to the screen as I absorbed the words that bombarded my ears and eyes. The next time she put it on, I didn’t pick up my book (or my phone). I later asked her why she wanted to keep watching it, and she told me that it was partly to understand what was going on but also because the music caught her and so she wanted to watch it again to see whether she’d like it a bit more.

And she did (so did I).

At this point, so many months since we started down the rabbit hole, we’ll often play the soundtrack for background music or have the TV on with Hamilton playing in the background as we clean, read, craft or in my case work. Needless to say, we’re both big fans of the musical. Something that I never expected to happen.

Perhaps an unintended consequence of the musical, is that both my wife and I have become curious about the historical accuracies and story telling liberties within the musical. Over the last few months, I’ve read more about Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr (sir) and Eliza Schuyler Hamilton than I would have ever expected after my first viewing. My wife once spent an entire evening researching Angelica and Peggy after wondering who Angelica’s husband was. Suffice it to say, we’ve spent far more time learning about Hamilton’s place in the American Revolution than either of us would have ever expected.

I’ve come to realize that while the play is a work of genius (from the way the words balance and weave away from each other to the melodies that recur within the play to the choreography – there is so much to take in that there’s no wonder that people fall deeper and deeper into their Hamilton fandom); there’s a few liberties taken with the historical record.

The upside to the obsessive areas of the fandom is that many fans also tend to research the actual historical events and people that we see in the play – my wife and I aren’t unique in having done this.

While Miranda does take some liberties for the most part he gets the essence of the history right (regarding some of the inaccuracies: Angelica was married before she met Hamilton in real life but after in the play; Hamilton met Aaron Burr in 1773 rather than in 1776; there’s more, but if I try and list them then I’ll probably miss one or two and ultimately that’s not the point of this paragraph). But Hamilton, as with so many other movies based on history, was never going to be a one hundred percent historically accurate retelling (it does have to entertain the audience after all) – but it’s close enough so that when you inevitably do decide to do a bit of research you won’t notice any glaring inconsistencies. Given how well the music falls into place the small details he took creative liberty with are more than forgiven in my eyes.

All this is to say that after picking up a few books on Alexander Hamilton, my wife found me a graphic history of the man titled, funnily enough, Alexander Hamilton written by Jonathan Hennessey with art by Justin Greenwood. The reset of the credits includes inking and background assists by Matt Harding, colors by Brad Simpson, and letters by Patrick Brosseau.

I bet up until this point you were wondering what relevance Hamilton the musical had with this website, eh?

The book isn’t a graphic novel or comic in the typical sense, which I found interesting. The majority of the book is told in narration bubbles with the odd supplemental dialogue/speech bubble, which is at odds with modern comics’ tendency to focus on dialogue or internal monologues. The speech bubbles that are in the book tend to be more of an extension What Alexander Hamilton does do is convey the details of the founding father’s life in a very informative and conversational way, and never shies away from depicting Hamilton the man as a less than perfect man. Hennessey puts forward that while Hamilton was a great man, he wasn’t necessarily a good man. He made mistakes, he made decisions that allowed people to take advantage of others, and he was arrogant almost to a fault.

Hennessey’s book gives a lot of context to Miranda’s play, giving more context to lines such as “and the evidence suggests you engaged in speculation.” Speculation was the process of buying the war bonds given to ex soldiers at a pittance hoping the government would pay full value for the pieces of paper that were effectively worthless to the ex-soldiers. With this context, and Hamilton’s position as treasury secretary, it’s much easier to understand why the accusation would be so damning had Hamilton been engaging in the practice. Context such as this would have been hard to include in the play itself, but this is why the book is such a valuable tool – that it’s also easy to read with nice artwork is an added bonus.

Since Hamilton debuted on Disney +, I’ve mentioned to people that I’ve watched it and listened to the soundtrack quite a bit. What they don’t expect is just how much I’ve listened to the soundtrack or watched the movie. I don’t have an exact figure because Disney + doesn’t track it, nor does the old iPod I use in the car and because I’ll use an Alexa device and also Spotify on my phone, I’ve no way to track the exact number of times the songs have played. If I had to guess, I’d wager it’d be close to 500 times between the show and the sound track. Which is crazy when you think about it. Utterly insane.

And yet, I know I’ll watch and listen to it again (probably today).

But I also know that I’ll be going back to that graphic history again because although there’s a lot of truth in the play, I think it’s important to be able to tell where the storytelling takes over – and Alexander Hamilton is a fantastically informative piece of work that taught me new things about the man and his role in shaping America today.

It’s also a really good book, and I’m a sucker for a comic book teaching me history. .

Patrick Kindlon and Goran Gligovic Want You to Run the Dungeon with this Comic and RPG

Z2 Comics has been a home for music-inspired graphic novels, and further that no pairing is alike, introducing an original graphic novel by Patrick Kindlon and artist Goran Gligovic, with an original soundtrack by Kindlon’s band Self Defense Family. The result is one of Z2’s most immersive experiences yet, blending comic book storytelling, music, and an original and completely playable RPG, Run the Dungeon.

Relst is just your average young man. Except he is stuck in an Endless Dungeon. Follow his “adventures” through the Dungeon hoping to escape to the surface world. Run the Dungeon is for fans of witty fantasy adventures everywhere. It includes a soundtrack from Self Defense Family and an original pen and paper RPG based off of the book.

The Run the Dungeon graphic novel comes in at over 100 pages of fun and will be released in a standard softcover edition in comic shops and bookstores alike in August 2021, as well a special deluxe edition available for preorder now only through the Z2 website, which will include a special exclusive vinyl edition Self Defense Family’s original soundtrack in a strictly limited edition of 500 copies! Standard editions include a code to download the soundtrack through Bandcamp.

Run the Dungeon

Heavy Metal, Disturbed, And Incendium Team Up For Comic Series

Disturbed, Incendium, and Heavy Metal Entertainment have announced Dark Messiah, a five-part comic book series. Published under Heavy Metal Entertainment and Incendium’s music-focused OPUS imprint, the story was conceptualized by Incendium CEO Llexi Leon and Tim Seeley and written by Seeley, with illustrations by Ángel Hernández, and cover artwork by Ryan Christensen.

Dark Messiah takes place in the not-so-distant future, as firefighter Griffin DeSanto finds himself a man out of time, stumbling into a harsh world of poverty, automation, and subjugation. Technology rules and a tech empire built on suffering keeps the population in check through surveillance and mechanized policing. Though lost, Griffin is never alone. He was brought here for a reason, and The Vengeful One is his guide.

Dark Messiah begins as a 5-issue comic series; the first print edition of each issue will be released as a prestige-format limited edition collectible comic book, featuring cardstock covers, specialty foil treatments, glossy pages, and individual numbering. Disturbed’s Dark Messiah will extend beyond the printed page into toys, apparel, and collectibles, including an action figure of “The Guy”.

The first printing of each Dark Messiah issue will be limited to 3000 copies at the devilish price of $16.66, and available to order. The first issue is available to order now and ships July 2021. “The Guy” action figure is also
available to pre-order for $29.95, shipping October 2021.

Review: MPLS Sound

MPLS Sound
Cover by Jen Bartel

The phrase “put in the work” is often thrown around as an end-all/be-all take on success. What it actually entails, what it looks like, isn’t always clear. Joe Illidge, Hannibal Tabu, and Meredith Laxton’s MPLS Sound, a book about a fictional band trying to contend with the presence and influence of musical icon Prince, offers a good example of what that phrase means.

The book follows Theresa Booker and her Prince-inspired funk band Starchild as they rise through the Minneapolis music scene while also finding their place in it. Should Prince be an inspiration or a mold to shape one’s self into? What’s identity in music and how does one honor a legacy without being devoured by it? These questions follow Theresa and the band throughout the fast but contemplative story.

While not a requirement, having some background knowledge on the life and legend of Prince guarantees a more enriching reading experience. Some stops along the road of Theresa’s musical career are ripped straight out of Prince’s story.

The expectations of growing up the child of a musical family (if only on one side), demo recording at an early stage, a burning desire to make it big quick, dealing with the label of musical genius, among other things help fans connect the dots on just how much more of a Prince book MPLS Sound truly is.

This isn’t to say Theresa’s character mimics Prince entirely, but there’s a spiritual connection that’s hard to ignore. In fact, the book leaves you no choice other than to get sucked into the funkadelicness of that connection, especially with Laxton’s recreation of key musical spots in the the Minneapolis scene, including the Capri Theater and Sam’s (where he played to a sold-out hometown crowd in 1981). The locations are imbued with a sense of grandeur and magic that one can instantly recognize as belonging to Prince.

MPLS Sound

Illidge and Tabu’s script does a fantastic of adding historical flair to the storytelling, helping Laxton conjure up the required magic such places accrued as their legends grew. Tan Shu’s colors keep to a palette that celebrates purple in its various forms and all its glory, adding to the mystique of Prince’s presence all throughout the book.

An important note, though. Those expecting Prince to be a constant physical present as the plot progresses in the book might not be happy to hear the Artist’s ‘screen time’ is limited. Now, this doesn’t mean he isn’t present in every page.

The Prince character is more a vibrant and ever-present force that reminded me of the power Dracula holds in the classic Bram Stoker novel. Dracula’s interventions are limited in the book, but his presence can be felt in every page, often influencing character behavior and even the decisions they make. Prince plays almost the same role, being both inspirational and overwhelming at the same time.

Theresa and Starchild pose a lot of questions as to what’s expected of them being that Prince’s influence can either make of break the band’s identity. Of course, this is where Illidge and Tabu’s script takes the opportunity to focus on the value of going through the process, of putting in the work.

MPLS Sound

MPLS Sound presents the band’s growing pains as not only necessary but also as a kind of test to see how well the connective tissue between the band members holds when tensions arise. It’s all about the music, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing a band has to work on. As the creative team puts all of story elements together, the idea of hard work becomes this multidimensional endeavor that demands one’s commitment entirely. Nothing comes easy, a sentiment Prince both embodied and conquered.

Any excuse to pop in a Prince album and get lost in the sounds of his unique brand of funk is a good one. MPLS Sound doesn’t just give a good reason to do that, it gives the perfect reason to do so. The book invites a deeper understanding of music, craft, and of legendary musicians themselves, but also never at the expense of fun and excitement. What’s here possesses the stuff that makes certain comics go beyond greatness, an accomplishment worthy of the Artist that inspired it.

Script: Joe Illidge and Hannibal Tabu Art: Meredith Laxton
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy, along with the entire Prince discography

Humanoids provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleBookshop

Radiant Black Gets an Original Orchestra Track from Walking Dead Co-Composer Sam Ewing

This week’s Radiant Black #3 by Kyle Higgins and Marcelo Costa will treat fans to a creative departure for the series and focus on main character Nathan’s writing process. As a special treat for Radiant Black fans, Sam Ewing (co-composer on The Walking Dead) composed and recorded a live orchestra track to tie-in with the recent issue’s story—one of the six planned to accompany each issue of the first story arc in the series.

Image Comics is pleased to reveal a video clip of the recording session for the piece, which is performed by a 59 piece orchestra (The Budapest Scoring Orchestra) and designed as “an exploration of a theme,” just like the issue is designed to capture the creative process. Fans can listen to the full track.

Ewing is the co-composer of the recent seasons of The Walking Dead, and has composed music for TV shows, movies and games prominently in the thriller, sci-fi and drama genres, including the Emmy winning music for series Da Vinci’s Demons and the BAFTA winning score for video game God of War.

Ewing is known for his talents composing orchestra tracks augmented with solo textures and instruments that he performs, particularly strings, woodwinds, and analog synths.

Radiant Black #3 will be available at comic book shops this week, Wednesday, April 21:

  • Cover A by Costa – FEB210200      
  • Cover B by Becca Carey – FEB210201      
  • Cover C 1:25 copy incentive by Goni Montes – FEB210202      
Radiant Black #3
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