Tag Archives: rafer roberts

Review: Grumble #3

Grumble #3

The cat’s outta the bag… and out for blood! Eddie and Tala are on the verge of escaping Baltimore once and for all, but Simon, the feline hitman, stands in their way. Will our heroes be able to defeat Simon, steal back their car, and skip town in one piece? Or will Eddie do something stupid and get everyone killed? 

Grumble #3 is what far too few comics are lately; fun. And funny, without ever coming off as forced; nor is it the main focus of the comic as Grumble is naturally funny whilst telling a really enjoyable story. It’s easy to see that Rafer Roberts is having a blast writing this book, which makes it an easy sell when talking to people at my local comic shop. Mike Norton‘s visuals are perfectly suited to the style of this comic – of course, one of the characters being a pug is also right up his alley (this is the guy who created Battlepug, after all).

At this point I should probably talk a little about the actual contents of the book, but there’s a recap up above that gives you the gist of the book, and unless I start diving too deeply into spoiler territory there’s not much else I want to reveal just now (especially if you haven’t read the first two issues). What I will say, however, is that there’s no forced chemistry between the two leads, nor any illusions about the cowardly and near criminal nature of one. The characters are neither overtly good nor evil, but live in the moral grey areas that all great comics tend to touch on every once in awhile. That they are the protagonists means we’re cheering for them, but Roberts has developed the world in such a way that if the focus of the comic were on the mysterious bounty hunter and not her prey, then the two leads could easily be seen as the antagonists.

Hot damn, but do I love this series. The writing and the art combine to give you the perfect blend of Hellblazer and Howard the Duck with a side of the Dresden Files, making Grumble  one of the series to keep your eye on as the year progresses. If your shop didn’t get this series in, then correct that; it’s still available from Diamond (or it was when my LCS ordered a couple copies in), and it’s such a good read.

Writer: Rafer Roberts Art: Mike Norton
 Colours: Marissa Louise Letters: Crank 
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Albatross Funny Books provided a FREE copy for review

It’s Grumble Vs. The Good for Free Comic Book Day

Award-winning cartoonist Eric Powell’s Albatross Funnybooks will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Goon with its first ever Free Comic Book Day title in 2019. Grumble vs The Goon is a side-splitting, full color one shot co-written by Powell and Rafer Roberts and illustrated by Powell and Battle Pug creator Mike Norton.

Here, for the first time ever, The Goon and his pal Franky will meet Tala and Eddie, from the pages of Grumble, in an interdimensional adventure, chock full of death, mayhem… and dog catching.

In Grumble vs the Goon, Tala and Eddie think it might be a good idea to go dimension hopping when they find death incarnate hot on their heels. Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse when they land in the world of The Goon. And Franky, the newly appointed dog catcher, don’t like talkin’ mutts that give him the sass!

Grumble vs the Goon features a cover by Powell, and will be available at participating comic book stores on Free Comic Book Day, Saturday May 4th, 2019.

The publication of Grumble vs the Goon is part of a year long celebration of The Goon’s 20th anniversary. The anniversary festivities kick off in earnest on March 13th, 2019, when Albatross Funnybooks will publish The Goon issue 1, featuring all new stories. The Goon #1 Standard Edition features an Eric Powell cover and will retail for $3.99. The Goon #1 Special Edition features a cover by legendary artist Kevin Nowlan and will retail for $5.99. In the character’s  debut with Albatross Funnybooks, Powell takes the series to its humor based roots as Goon & Franky return from strange adventures abroad to find a horde of unsavory characters who have filled the void left in their absence from Lonely Street. For this new run of stories, Powell will be joined on Albatross Funnybooks’ The Goon by several acclaimed creators.

Grumble vs The Goon Gree Comic Book Day
The Goon #1
The Goon #1

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2018

Without further ado, these are my favorite comics of 2018. This was the year I fell back on series that I had been checking out for years and found some new faves in the worlds of newspaper comics, symbiotes, gamma irradiated beasts, and maybe even a choose your own adventure game. Marvel seriously did a 180 this year, and I went from picking zero of their comics on my last year end list to three so well done on their part, and Donny Cates and Al Ewing should receive hefty bonus checks. But, honestly, this list should show you that visual humor, character driven narratives, and weirdness are my things, and I can’t wait to read more comics in that vein in 2019.

Honorable Mentions: Sex Death Revolution (Black Mask), Runaways (Marvel), Assassinistas (IDW/Black Crown), Punks Not Dead (IDW/Black Crown), That one really good issue of Peter Parker, Spider-Man that Chip Zdarsky wrote and drew (Marvel), Gideon Falls (Image)

10.Modern Fantasy  (Dark Horse)

Modern Fantasy is a miniseries about a data entry worker named Sage of the Riverlands, who secretly wants to epic hero or maybe just a curator at a cool museum, and has a penchant for smooching handsome elves. Did Rafer Roberts and Kristen Gudsnuk have access to my most secret thoughts while writing this book? In all seriousness, this comic marries millennial angst and struggles (Dead end jobs, mooching friends, annoying co-workers) with all kinds of fantasy tropes, including urban, high, and good ol’ Lovecraftian. Gudsnuk’s art is both humorous and touching and filled with background details and jokes that reward a close reading. But what makes Modern Fantasy a great comic is the awkward friend group dynamic that Roberts and Gudsnuk craft filled with drama, jokes, a touch of romance, and a final showdown with a fire demon.

9.The Wicked + the Divine (Image)

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson’s story of young gods and fandom hit some dark bits in 2018 and had plenty of surprises to go with the formalism and “glimpse behind the curtain” of the “Mothering Invention” arc. However, at its best, WicDiv is the story of the girl, who thought she wanted something, and then painfully realized that she didn’t really want it. That girl, of course, is Persephone whose personal journey along with McKelvie’s amazing facial expressions, Gillen’s clever quips, and Wilson’s majestic color palette keeps me returning to this series as it is about to hit its fifth year. Also, the specials were spectacularly glorious in 2018 from the illustrated prose story/murder mystery in 1923 to 1373’s dark piety. Then, there was the absolute bonkers nature of The Funnies  where we find out the origin of Laura’s cracked phone and the Pantheon gets to solve a Scooby Doo mystery courtesy of Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris.

8.  Nancy (Go Comics)

I’ve been doing year end comics lists for five years, and this is the first time I’ve put a newspaper strip on one. However, Olivia Jaimes’ work on Nancy is one of the most hilarious things to come out of 2018. There are her “millennial” gags (Even though Nancy and Sluggo are definitely Generation Z.) about Nancy’s overuse of the Internet or swapping streaming service passwords with Sluggo, who is also “lit”. But she also has a firm grasp on meta-gags and the uniqueness of the comics medium like playing with panel layouts, lettering styles, reusing panels, and then having Nancy make a joke about it. Nancy is truly a ray of sunshine in a dark landscape while still being sarcastic and self-deprecating as hell and shows that even the proverbial old dog of the newspaper comic can learn some new tricks.

7.  “Milk Wars” (DC Comics/Young Animal)

“Milk Wars” really brought the best of DC Rebirth and Young Animal together and was the only Big Two crossover I kept up with in 2018. The series brings together the Doom Patrol, Mother Panic, Shade the Changing Girl, and Cave Carson to fight warped versions of DC Comics heroes, who are under the control of the Retconn corporation. The story is a literal metaphor for how corporations sanitize characters and go for the retread instead of taking risks with iconic characters as Wonder Woman becomes a submissive housewife in her tie-in story from Cecil Castelluci and Mirka Andolfo. “Milk Wars” shows that it’s okay to be a little weird as milk goes bad if it’s left in the bridge past its expiration day. It also features some gorgeous layouts from Aco in the crossover’s first chapter, which was co-written by Gerard Way and Steve Orlando, and he and the artists did an excellent job of melding an indie and mainstream sensibility throughout “Milk Wars”. Also, the story had a real effect on Mother Panic, Cave Carson, and Shade in their solo titles and introduced Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew’s wonderful, yet depressed Eternity Girl character.

6.Venom (Marvel)

Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, and Iban Coello’s Venom ongoing series is filled with all the fun excesses of the 1990s (Especially in the Venom Annual where James Stokoe shows him going toe to toe with Juggernaut.) and none of its toxicity. The first arc of the series is about Eddie Brock and his symbiote going to war against Knull, god of the symbiotes and a symbiote dragon. This has a terrible effect on him, and Cates carefully uses the symbiote as a metaphor for PTSD while freeing Stegman to draw unhinged heavy metal battles. And this series wasn’t just a one arc wonder as Cates, Coello, and Stegman explore the after effects of the battle with Knull on Eddie’s symbiote and have him confront his father. Plus one of the most underrated Marvel villains, Ultimate Reed Richards aka the Maker pops up for a little bit. This series work because it explores the psychological effects of the symbiote as well as the oozy, shoot-y violent bits.

5.Crowded (Image)

Crowded is a wicked bit of satire with a side of mismatched buddy adventure from the beautiful minds of Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell. It is about an obnoxious woman named Charlie, who has a $2 million price on her head on an app called Reapr that is basically crowdfunded murder. Luckily, there’s an app called Defendr where Charlie hires a badass, meticulous, and noble woman named Vita to protect her. Stein and Brandt fill each page with oodles of panels, but you are able to follow every action scene, conversation, or Charlie ending up at the club or a bachelorette party even if she has a price on her head. The bounty hunting drives the plot while Sebela uses the quieter moments to develop the personality and relationships of Charlie and Vita as well as some of the “professionals” hunting them. Crowded is a thrill ride, but also looks at the dark, not so altruistic side of human nature through the Internet and constant connectivity.

4. You Are Deadpool (Marvel)

Al Ewing and Salva Espin’s You Are Deadpool was some of the most fun I had reading a comic book in 2018 beginning with Kieron Gillen showing up in the “tutorial” brandishing a sandwich as a weapon. It’s a combination spoof of different eras of Marvel Comics along with a pretty damn fun and addictive Choose Your Own Adventure Game. In some cases, you don’t even read the issues in order. Ewing and Espin also take cues from some not so table top RPGs and have the moral choices that Deadpool makes effect your reading and playing experience. Having Deadpool interact with both heroes and innocent passerbies during the Silver Age, horror/kung fu/blaxploitation, the edgy 80s, and of course, the good ol’ 90s is hilarious and shows Espin’s versatility as a cartoonist.

3. Archival Quality (Oni)

Archival Quality is a spooky graphic novel by Ivy Noelle Weir and Steenz about a young woman named Cel, who gets a job as an archivist at a medical museum. The comic tenderly explores Cel’s anxiety and depression and unexpected connection with a woman named Celine, who was a patient at the sanatorium that preceded the museum. It isn’t caught up in a fast paced thriller plot, but slowly unveils the mystery while focusing on Cel’s interactions with her boss Abayomi, super rad co-worker Holly, and her declining relationship with her boyfriend Kyle. Archival Quality has real atmosphere, and Steenz creates some fantastic spaces as Cel begins to explore her workplace with its skulls and lack of cellphone service. It is a fantastic story about mental health and relationships through the mystery genre.

2. Giant Days (BOOM! Studios) 

Giant Days continues to be one of life’s true blessings thanks to John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, Julia Madrigal, and Whitney Cogar. At this point, we know the characters and their quirks are on fully display, especially when Sarin draws the title because she is a real pro at expressive eyes and touches of surrealism to break up the slice of life. 2018 was full of drama to go with the Giant Days’ comedy as Daisy broke up with her a little too footloose and fancy free girlfriend Ingrid, and Esther missed her shot at being in a relationship with Ed when he begins a romance with Nina, a girl he met while recuperating from a pub related injury. Nina being Australian is the subject of this year holiday’s special, which was a special treat drawn and written by Allison as Ed fends for himself Down Under. Giant Days shows that it’s one of the pre-eminent slice of life comics as it enters its fourth year, and Esther, Daisy, and Susan’s relationships continue to ebb and flow.

1. Immortal Hulk  (Marvel)

I will preface this by saying that the Hulk is one of my least favorite Marvel characters because he’s often used as a simplistic Jekyll/Hyde metaphor. Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Lee Garbett, Martin Simmonds, and Paul Mounts blow that up in Immortal Hulk, which resembles an intelligent horror story rather than a superhero beat ’em up. It’s a road story with Bruce Banner on the run from the monster that comes out, wrecks, and kills when the sun goes down before morphing into a government conspiracy thriller and something more malevolent towards the end. Through cutting narration, Ewing reveals exactly what is going through Banner’s head while Bennett’s art shows the often gruesome effects of his rages. I also like how Ewing humanizes the supporting players from Walter Langkowski, who is struggling with his own monstrous nature to honest reporter Jackie McGee and even his opponent the Absorbing Man.

Immortal Hulk is the best comic of 2018 because it has a compelling plot, is a searing character study of an American pop culture icon, and is an homage to Jack Kirby and Bernie Wrightson while breaking new ground. (See issue 10’s final page.)

Those Two Geeks Episode Twenty Nine: The World Needs A Punching, With Rafer Roberts

On the docket this week: The geeks sit down with Rafer Roberts to talk about his upcoming comic Grumble published by Albatross Funnybooks. Featuring art by Mike Norton, colours by Marissa Louise and letters by Crank, Grumble is an urban fantasy featuring an anthropomorphic pug and a half demon and will be released in November.

We highly recommend you ask your shop to reserve you a copy.

As always, the Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jc_hesh if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter or email ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Preview: A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong Deluxe Edition HC

A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG DELUXE EDITION HC

Written by RAFER ROBERTS with FRED VAN LENTE
Art by DAVID LAFUENTE, MIKE NORTON, RYAN LEE, CARY NORD, CAFU, and MORE
Colors by BRIAN REBER, ADAM PASSALAQUA, and MORE
Letters by DAVE LANPHEAR and  DAVE SHARPE
Cover by KANO (MAY182102)
$49.99 | 368 pgs. | T+ | On Sale JULY 11th
OVERSIZED HARDCOVER | ISBN: 978-1-68215-275-1

Join Harvey Award-nominated writer Rafer Roberts (HARBINGER RENEGADE) and superstar artists David Lafuente (Ultimate Spider-Man) and Mike Norton (Revival) as they take Valiant’s (somewhat) dynamic duo on an all-out assault on the senses right here in the complete deluxe edition hardcover.

Meet Armstrong: Since the ancient city of Ur, this immortal adventurer has spent the last 7,000 years drinking and carousing his way through history alongside some of the greatest merrymakers the world has ever known.

Meet Archer: A sheltered teenage martial arts master and expert marksman that was raised for a single purpose – to kill the devil incarnate. Little did he know that this undying evil was actually Armstrong (he’s actually a pretty good guy…once you get to know him) and, since hitting the road together, the two have become great friends and even better partners.

Now: Archer is about to set off on his most dangerous mission yet – a quest into the mystic reaches of Armstrong’s bottomless satchel to liberate his friend and comrade from the clutches of the mad god Bacchus!

Collecting A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1-12, IMMORTAL BROTHERS: TALE OF THE GREEN KNIGHT #1, and ARMSTRONG AND THE VAULT OF SPIRITS #1 along with more than 20 pages of rarely seen art and extras!

Dark Horse Announces Modern Fantasy from Kristen Gudsnuk and Rafer Roberts

Magic meets the modern world in a hilarious new series from Kristen Gudsnuk and Rafer Roberts, Modern Fantasy.

Modern Fantasy follows three friends, new to the big city, as they struggle to keep their crappy day jobs and pay off their student loans. A young Ranger woman, her drug-dealing reptilian wizard roommate, and her boisterous Dwarf maiden BFF as they embark on a modern day quest to save the world. The roommates become embroiled in danger when one of their significant other’s finds himself taken by criminals, and the trio must get their $#!& together to save him.

Modern Fantasy #1 goes on sale on June 27, 2018.

Review: Harbinger Renegade #0

HR_ZERO_VARIANT_EVANS

“Beneath the wreckage of the Harbinger Foundation, there is a secret that even Toyo Harada grew to fear. A secret simply known as… the Stormbringer.”

To say that Valiant are doing their level best to build up the excitement level for next year’s Harbinger Wars 2 that will bring almost every character in the company’s repertoire together in what’s being positioned as an all out war. But to get to that point, the company needs to lay some ground work, and that’s just what Rafer Roberts has been doing in this series.

The recently concluded Massacre arc saw the deaths of the vast majority of Generation Zero at the hands of H.A.R.D. Corps (who also suffered significant casualties), and we also got glimpses into the reaction to those deaths. The arc was trans-formative for the Valiant Universe, including an at-the-time irrelevant interlude issue, which just about brings us to this Zero issue. Plot wise, the comic focuses on a H.A.R.D. Corps raid on an installation that’s hiding Alexander Solomon, and very little else. It’s a well written diversion that builds a little toward the inevitable war while bringing a little more relevance to the interlude issue – if you’ve read the full preview text then you have a pretty good idea of the outcome of the issue,  but I won’t reveal more regarding the ins and outs of the admittedly pretty straight forward plot as it is more fun to go in relatively blind.

Juan Jose Ryp is once again spot on with his work here, and the colouring work of Andrew Dalhouse compliments Ryp’s work in every way. The pair combine to create some utterly fantastic visuals throughout the comic with some really dynamic action sequences packed with all kinds of detail without ever feeling too convoluted. I am a big fan of Ryp’s art style, so whenever I see his name on the cover to a comic I know that even if the story sucks, which it doesn’t, then I’ll at least be able to read a good looking comic – and that’s certainly the case here.

With the zero issue designation Harbinger Renegade #0 is technically taken out of the numbering sequence, although the story would have allowed this to serve as the next sequentially numbered issue – but that’s a very minor and ultimately irrelevant point. Suffice to say that this issue is one of Roberts stronger ones, although if you’re not reading the series as a whole then a lot of the hints and half answered questions may mean nothing to you – essentially what I’m saying here is that this may not be an ideal jumping on point, but it’s a damn good comic.

Story: Rafer Roberts Art: Juan Jose Ryp Colourist Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Harbinger Renegade #0

HARBINGER RENEGADE #0

Written by RAFER ROBERTS
Art by JUAN JOSÉ RYP
Cover A by CLAYTON HENRY ( SEP172034)
Cover B by ROBERTO DE LA TORRE ( SEP172035)
Cover C by JUAN JOSÉ RYP ( SEP172036)
Variant Cover by KHARI EVANS ( SEP172037)
Variant Cover by BEN TIESMA ( SEP172038)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale NOVEMBER 8th (FOC – 10/16/2017)

An essential prelude to HARBINGER WARS 2 – the seismic 2018 crossover event at the epicenter of the Valiant Universe!

Beneath the wreckage of the Harbinger Foundation, there is a secret that even Toyo Harada grew to fear. A secret simply known as…the Stormbringer.

And Alexander Solomon is about to set it free.

Out of the ashes of “MASSACRE,” the march toward the most consequential Valiant event of all time continues with an epic revelation at the heart of the Harbinger mythos – as told by Harvey Award-nominated writer Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) and incendiary artist Juan José Ryp (BRITANNIA)!

 

Review: Harbinger Renegade #8

As “MASSACRE” continues to tear the Harbinger Renegades apart, the battle lines reveal themselves… On one side, the fugitive psiot named Alexander Solomon and the concussive killers of the H.A.R.D. Corps…and on the other, the Harbinger Renegades and a growing army of newly activated recruits – untrained, unpredictable and potentially unstable. As their paths converge toward an inescapable confrontation, Peter Stanchek will be forced to make an impossible decision that will change the destiny of everyone in the Valiant Universe…and lay the fault lines for HARBINGER WARS 2!

Here’s the thing with this comic – and I apologize for derailing the review right off the bat – I read this comic when I needed a distraction from some personal events (that had a positive outcome), and as a result of that my views on this issue may be a little rose coloured. However despite that I still feel comfortable in saying that Harbinger Renegade #8 is one of the better issues in Rafer Roberts run on the series.

After the events of issue five’s Massacre, we got to see a little fall out last issue among the Renegades, but Harbinger Renegade #8 really seems to kick into gear regarding the story as the young psiots start doing more than just talking about reacting to the events in Rook. Although it feels like a long time coming (especially with issue six’s interlude), the pacing actually feels very right. I may have complained about the pacing before (possibly in the last review, maybe just online), but I’m happy to say that I was quite wrong – Rafer Roberts clearly had a plan and I should have had more faith (pun unintended); he’s certainly earned that from his previous work.

Although I’m still not overly fond of Darrick Robertson‘s art style (which is entirely personal preference), it seems a bit more fluid and less phoned in this issue than in the previous one – the question should be asked whether I dislike his art less because Roberts story, pacing and dialogue are much stronger in comparison to Harbinger Renegade #7, or whether Robertson is simply having a better showing the eighth issue.

Whether you read this series in trade form or in single issues, we’re starting to see a nice build up toward Valiant’s 2018 mega event Harbinger Wars 2, and if you’re a Valiant fan then I’d highly advise you to be keeping tabs on the events in this series.

Overall this is a really enjoyable read that builds upon the catastrophic events of issue five in a very natural way; nothing seems forced or out of the natural flow of the story, and while I’m still not completely on board with with art it has improved. A better comic than the previous issue, and a perfect distraction when I needed one the most – and isn’t that what comics should do? Help us forget the real world for twenty or thirty minutes?

Story: Rafer Roberts Art: Darrick Robertson
Inker: Tom Palmer Colourist: Diego Rodriguez
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a Free copy for review

Preview: Harbinger Renegade #8

HARBINGER RENEGADE #8

Written by RAFER ROBERTS
Art by DARICK ROBERTSON
Cover A by DARICK ROBERTSON (AUG172128)
Cover B by BALDEMAR RIVAS (AUG172129)
Cover C by KANO (AUG172130)
Variant Cover by JEFFREY VEREGGE (AUG172131)
B&W Sketch Variant by DARICK ROBERTSON (AUG172132)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 11th (FOC – 9/18/2017)

Massacred!

As “MASSACRE” continues to tear the Harbinger Renegades apart, the battle lines reveal themselves… On one side, the fugitive psiot named Alexander Solomon and the concussive killers of the H.A.R.D. Corps…and on the other, the Harbinger Renegades and a growing army of newly activated recruits – untrained, unpredictable and potentially unstable. As their paths converge toward an inescapable confrontation, Peter Stanchek will be forced to make an impossible decision that will change the destiny of everyone in the Valiant Universe…and lay the fault lines for HARBINGER WARS 2!

“MASSACRE” seeks its final victim as Harvey Award nominated writer Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) and superstar artist Darick Robertson (The Boys, Transmetropolitan) prepare for the biggest, bloodiest confrontation in Valiant history!

 

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