Cullen Bunn debuted some of his earliest work with Oni Press and this April he launches Rogue Planet with Andy MacDonald and Nick Filardi.
Salvage vessel Cortes tracks the Lonely Orphan, a planet with no star system to call its own. Somewhere on this hostile rock is a payload fit for a king. To attain it, though, the crew of the Cortes must brave razor rock, poisonous vapors, treacherous footing, and… the most mind-numbing horrors imaginable. Something nightmarish is at work on Lonely Orphan. Something cruel. Something hungry.
Rogue Planet #1 arrives in finer comic shops everywhere on April 1, 2020, and is currently available for order in the February dated Diamond PREVIEWS catalog. Reserve your copy with your local retailer now.
A terrifying serial killer wreaks havoc in The Final Witness #1 (of 5)this April!
Eisner-nominated writer Ray Fawkes and electrifying artist Jeremy Haun present a captivating crime-noir mystery! Can a powerful new hero, a detective, and an investigative journalist solve this chilling case as more and more bodies are found in San Francisco?
The gripping crime-noir thriller begins in The Final Witness #1 (of 5) on April 29th, 2020, featuring colors by Nick Filardi, letters by Clayton Cowles, and covers by Rahzzah, Michael Walsh, Caspar Wijngaard, Jeremy Haun, and Travis Escarfullery.
Here’s a first look at the brand-new hero’s origin!
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.
Beth 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 she 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 her 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) Magdalene Visaggio
(A) CJ Cannon
(C) Nick Filardi, Sarah Stern
(CA) CJ Cannon with Nick Filardi (Cover A), Cara McGee (Cover B)
Age Rating: Teen, 16+
Genre: Sci-Fi, Humor
Page Count: 40
Sleepy Gary may be a parasite, but when Jerry is with him, he’s… happy. Does it matter if it isn’t really real? Can either of them even know what’s real anymore? Explore the nuances of love, perception, and high-speed vespa chases in this darkly funny and poignant one-shot, written by Magdalene Visaggio (KIM & KIM, ETERNITY GIRL) and illustrated by series artists CJ Cannon and Nick Filardi.
(W) Christopher Sebela
(A) Robert Wilson IV
(C) Nick Filardi
(CA) Robert Wilson IV with Nick Filardi
Age Rating: Mature Themes
Page Count: 128
Callie tried to go straight. She escaped both Mercer and the FBI to Canada. She got a new beau, a new job, and with the few years remaining on her borrowed heart, everything should be perfect. But Callie’s old life isn’t entirely done with her. As her old crew keeps robbing and sucks her back into the one thing she’s great at, Callie sets out to create a criminal empire of her own.
The wunderkind brood returns in The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion! Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá will return to their Harvey, Eisner, and YALSA award winning and critically acclaimed series with colorist Nick Filardi, and letterer Nate Piekos signed on to bring more Umbrella Academy adventures to life! With a Netflix series soon to debut, the best-selling superhero series returns, stranger than ever—and our heroes’ pasts are coming back to hunt them.
The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion finds the Umbrella Academy scattered after Sir Reginald Hargreeves’ death. Number Five is a hired gun, Kraken is stalking big game, Rumor is dealing with the wreckage of her marriage, a rotund Spaceboy runs around the streets of Tokyo, Vanya continues her physical therapy after being shot in the head—and no one wants to even mention Seance until issue #2.
The Umbrella Academy fans don’t have to wait until October to reconnect with their favorite series! Dark Horse will debut two The Umbrella Academy convention exclusives at San Diego Comic-Con. The Umbrella Academy Hazel and Cha Cha Enamel Pin is a .125” enamel pin featuring the heads of Hazel and Cha Cha, the ultra-violent villains of The Umbrella Academy world. 1,000 enamel pins are available for $10 each. The Umbrella Academy Crest T-shirt will also be available at SDCC. This convention exclusive is a black cotton t-shirt featuring the crest of the Umbrella Academy on the front, and The Umbrella Academy logo on the back. Sizes include both women’s and men’s S-XXL. The Umbrella Academy Crest T-shirts retail for $25 each and are limited to a quantity of 400.
The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1 (of seven) goes on sale October 3, 2018, and is available for pre-order at your local comic shop.
(W) Daniel Mallory Ortberg
(A) CJ Cannon
(C) Nick Filardi
(CA) (Cover A) CJ Cannon with Nick Filardi, (Cover B) Andrew MacLean
Age Rating: Young Adult Audiences
Page Count: 40
Learn the secret stories and hidden pasts of your favorite Rick and Morty characters in Oni Press’s new quarterly series of one-shots: RICK AND MORTY™ PRESENTS! In this issue, writer Daniel Mallory Ortberg (co-founder of THE TOAST) joins series artists CJ Cannon and Nick Filardi to tell the tale of KROMBOPULOS MICHAEL, the professional assassin who just loves killin’. Discover the roots of Rick’s relationship with the galaxy-trotting killer with no code of ethics: children, animals, old people… it doesn’t matter!
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review 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
It cannot be an easy thing to write a character for a long time and consistently come up with unique things, especially when it’s a superhero, but I am happy to say that Gerry Duggan did just that with Deadpool. Wade Wilson has always been a mouthy, hard to kill, merc who has given us stories that are dark but filled with humor, but Duggan took that to a new level with his run. From fighting Dead Presidents, the Uncanny Avengers, the Mercs for Money, to the original way Duggan told stories during Secret Empire, there was always something refreshing and new.
The Despicable Deadpool #300 continues the theme of super violent cartoons, which is basically an adult Looney Tunes (as I have said before adults can watch Looney Tunes too!). It marries violence with dark humor. It’s the jokes you cringe at sometimes, but still laugh. It’s like Family Guy, South Park, but in a comic book with basically an invincible superhero. So often superhero titles are filled with serious plots, and that is fine, and sure others have some humor, especially Marvel titles, but it leaves room for things like Harley Quinn and Deadpool. Titles like these go for the uber-silly, and all bets are off for breaking the fourth wall, and going into territory many of the other titles just can’t.
This comic brings a lot of the running themes and jokes in Duggan’s run to a close in what you can expect in this title. There’s plenty of gross, plenty of ridiculousness, plenty of violence, and plenty of comedy. Even if the jokes don’t always land, it almost seems intentional. Wade isn’t some top level stand up comic, he’s more like a hacky amateur at open mic night throwing out everything that is in his head. It’s also his coping mechanism, as this arc and issue show us Wade wishing to die, by putting a price on his own head. He’s a sad character, but he is also funny. This is reflective of many people we may know in pop culture, and in our own personal lives. These clowns that we watch perform for us, just trying to make us and themselves laugh, while dealing with real pain.
You can’t do a comic book without art, and this oversized issue gives us quite a bit of great varying style pencils Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli,and Mike Hawthorne. The first part of the book deals with the gross, but it still found a way to make me laugh. The way many Marvel characters we know and love show up to deal with Deadpool, but for reasons I wont spoil, vomit all over the place, was creative, and so stupid in that perfect Deadpool way. Miss Marvel’s cheeks growing to a massive size has to be the highlight. The panel work showing all of it was creative and funny. The car chase sequence was also awesome, and quite classic Deadpool. This part of the book was the most traditional for the series, with it bringing a more cartoon style, which fit the action perfectly. For the final sequence, we get some really off the wall sequences as we prepare to wrap the issue up. There’s some really fantastic panel work here as well, showing Wade hook an IV up for himself, all inside of little panels while you see the main “shot” taking up the full page below the panels.
The inks by Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli,and Mike Hawthorne are all as equally varied as the pencils. Each section of the book (which the art is cut into a section by three artists) gives us sharp lines, great shadows, and good depth to our characters. Much like the pencils and colors, there is a lot of inking done in this oversized issue, and the quality never dips. The colors by Nick Filardi, Ruth Redmond,and Jordie Bellaire all range from a more muted tone approach in the first section of the book, where we see everyone vomiting orange and yellow, and as gross as this scene intentionally is, the colors work to not make it as gross as it could have been. The next section gives the brighter colored cartoon approach as I mentioned earlier, and gives us brighter reds, blues, and makes the superhero costumes we know and love pop. In the final section, it is more muted tones again, and gives us a nice colored pencil look to the artwork. The hell sequence in particular is awesome and the fire looks like it could come off of the page.
I would recommend this book to Deadpool fans old and new, and there’s really something special for you if you’ve followed this run. But even if you haven’t, and you want something so dumb, but in a good way, this is the comic for you. Deadpool is about taking your brain off and having a blast, and every once in awhile it gives you a touching moment, but after that, it may give you a fart joke, and I love it for that. Congratulations to all of the talented writers and artists that worked on this run and helped make it so fun and interesting. Now let’s see what the next run brings us for the Merc with the Mouth!
Story: Gerry Duggan Pencils: Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli & Mike Hawthorne Inks: Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli, Terry Pallot, Craig Young & Mike Hawthorne Colors: Nick Filardi, Ruth Redmond & Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Joe Sabino Cover: Mike Hawthorne & Nathan Fairbairn
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
I came to read this really interesting comic — Nightwing #44 “The Bleeding Edge” part one because everyone’s favorite comics PR guy Clark Bull tweeted:
Really hoping a reviewer takes the time tomorrow to write about Nightwing #44’s nod to Dick’s original plunging neckline. I think this is the (unintentionally?) sexiest I’ve ever seen Nightwing! pic.twitter.com/U7COMzBUwB
Now, I tend to choose which superhero comics to read based on the writer and artist working on them rather than because of the particular characters in it. A great creative team can make anything work, yes even Deathstroke. I was previously unfamiliar with Christopher Mooneyham (pencils) and Benjamin Percy (writer), Nick Filardi (colors) and Carlos M. Mangual (letters). But as a critic who analyzes art through a feminist and queer lens I’ve developed an academic interest in Dick Grayson.
Nightwing exists in a critically interesting space for these reasons. And if Clark tells me to watch for Discowing worthy visual tributes in Nightwing #44, sure I’ll check it out.
What I found was a comic full of early 80s visual cues– everything from John Romita Jr-esque squared-off lips and Klaus Jansen/Frank Miller gritty but pretty action filled pencils to subways with 1980’s level graphitti. Even Dick’s haircut is early 80’s compliant, and flattering (see 50% of Duran Duran).
And what is this utterly Bronze Age Nightwing doing? He’s complaining about our modern relationship with the portable internet. Which is seems in-character. He’s also using his newly modified escrima sticks exactly like Daredevil uses his batton, ricocheting it around the subway car. It even has a break in the center for grappling hook use, like Murdock’s primary mode of transportation.
Was there a rift in the multiverse through which a dimension-hopping Dick got to replicate Matt Murdock’s batton? Were Grayson’s escrima sticks always like that and I just never noticed before because the art wasn’t so similar to what I associate with my favorite old Daredevil comics? I’d never connected Daredevil and Nightwing till now despite their shared acrobatic skills and handsome figures. But maybe the brooding and emotionally damaged Matt Murdock– the Worst Boyfriend in Comics™– isn’t so different after all from the joyful and emotionally intelligent Dick Grayson — the Best Ex-Boyfriend in Comics.
Halfway into the issue we are greeted with a shirtless and unshorn Dick Grayson stretched out on the coach. I appreciate the unshorn which is especially realistic if we’re doing an 80s throwback aesthetic. His body language is open as we look down on him from above.
You know what? We deserve artist Chris Mooneyham’s Dick Grayson lying shirtless on a couch. The recognition that men can be the subject of our sexual desires and that people might want to look at them being sexy is still a pretty radical proposition in superhero comics. It was part of the recent Grayson series’ success and it is actually part of the story here.
Unlike many of the random semi nude women in comics it makes sense for Dick to be shirtless. He’s at home relaxing in a bright window while flirting with his on again off again. Grayson’s anatomy while rare, is within the range of things a body can be. And that’s good. Physically impossible figures are honestly not sexy to me. He doesn’t have the dead-eyed objectivized look we often see on shirtless women when drawn by men. He’s clearly in thought here. Look, I like semi clothed women as much as the next person who’s sexualy attracted to women. But it shouldn’t always be women. That’s not a balanced diet and its hurting storytelling.
This art is a helpful reminder that sexy art is best served by being character driven, by having a torso that accommodates lungs and a gastrointestinal system, non-fictional muscles, and even has body hair (women have body hair too, I know this may be shocking to some men who’ve never been naked with a woman IRL). I’m not suggesting that a character needs to look like Dick does here in order to be sexy. I want to see all sorts of bodies and genders represented on the page, especially the acknowledgement that bodies that deviate from Hollywood norms are desirable too. Why are no characters drawn like Katie King or XimenaSantos from Raven the Pirate Princess in the DCU or Marvel?
Dick’s legendary chemistry with Barbara Gordon is in full display here — the juxtaposed panels of their phone conversation establish a visual flirtation between the two characters. They may be in different apartments talking on the phone but their eye lines across the gutters keep them flirting even more than their dialog does.
One thing I could do without is the heavy deli owner being drawn as a slob. It’s an anti-fat stereotype and below this comic’s intelligence.
Mild spoiler (highlight the text)
In the end, as with many great things of the 1980s, this story ends in body horror. I won’t say how. As a huge fan of the works of David Cronenberg I say hooray!
In conclusion Nightwing #44’s virtues include:
Early 1980s Daredevil aesthetics
Shirtless Dick Grayson drawn just for you and me
A villain who uses technology in creative ways
Light social commentary
An easy jumping on point for new readers of the series, like me
That’s good promise from just a single issue of a new character arc in an existing series. Sure, I’ll keep checking out Nightwing– literally and figuratively. You should too! We deserve it.PS: For an extremely thoughtful and historically centered look at the way Dick Grayson has been depicted in comics read the essential Meg Downey’s essay In Defense of Dick Grayson: Objectification, Sexuality, and Subtext.