(W) Mark Russell (A) Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk (C): Richard Pace February 17, 2021 $3.99
Chaos, weirdness, and corndogs reign when Jesus innocently stumbles into Bible Safari, a profit-squeezing amusement park that trades in his image. Meanwhile, Sunstar gets some disturbing news about his earthly foster-grandmother. Later, Jesus stands to recruit a new disciple—if he can inspire said disciple to keep on living! Also featuring illustrated bonus stories in the AHOY tradition.
(W) Mark Russell (A) Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk Cover: Richard Pace December 16, 2020 $3.99
“The world’s most dangerous comic book and the most lovely” (Comics Beat) returns for a new six-issue series, by superstar writer Mark Russell (Batman: Gotham Nights, The Wonder Twins) and artists Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk. The infant Sunstar will grow up to fulfill his destiny as Earth’s most powerful superhero and roommate to Jesus Christ—but first, he and his parents must endure the mundane and the tedious on the last night of the doomed planet Zirconia.
All AHOY comics feature extra prose stories and illustrations.
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!
As brick and mortar retailers around the world find creative ways to preserve their businesses during unprecedented circumstances, forward-thinking comic book retailers across Canada will come together with notable comic book artists and writers to benefit their business and preserve the audience they have worked so hard together to serve.
“Be Our Heroes, Canada” is a collaboration between Canadian comic shops and creators to leverage each store’s individual audiences to both build and strengthen the national comic book community and generate income for all.
The Dragon owner Jennifer Haines said in the announcement:
What started as a conversation between four retailers on how we could cross-promote our shops turned into this idea of a national fundraiser to help preserve Canada’s unique comics landscape. Now more than ever, we need to come together to support one another, and provide our respective communities with a way to stay connected, all while protecting retailers that might otherwise fall through the cracks of government funding.
The event has been organized by Guelph, Ontario’s The Dragon family of stores, along with Ontario retailers Gotham Central, Heroes World, and Cyber City Comix, and will take place over two days through Facebook Live, with scheduled slots for creators and stores.
Funds raised through this two-day national celebration of the comic arts will be collected and distributed by the Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian-based non-profit organization protecting free speech in the industry, supporting retailers, schools, and libraries, creators and publishers alike.
“Be Our Heroes, Canada” is currently accepting offers of participation among the Canadian creative community, and will announce the full list of participating stores and creators in the coming days. Current participants include: Adam Gorham, Andy Belanger, Brendan Fletcher, Casey Parsons, Chip Zdarsky, Dylan Burnett, Ed Brisson, J. Torres, Jason Fabok, Jason Loo, Jay Stephens, Karl Kerschl, Ken Lashley, Michael Cho, Ray Fawkes, Richard Pace, Scott Chantler, Seth, Shawn Daly, Svetlana Chmakova, and Yanick Paquette.
(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.
Comic book creators Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, Mariah McCourt and Soo Lee, and Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson are launching three all new series for the fourth wave of AHOY comic book magazines. The three series all tackle 21st century fears and anxieties with a heavy dose of humor. The new wave of titles from the Syracuse-based company will launch next spring.
AHOY Comics’ fourth wave includes three all-new titles:
BILLIONAIRE ISLAND, a 6 issue mini-series by acclaimed writer Mark Russell (Second Coming) and artist Steve Pugh (Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass), and colorist Chris Chuckry, with lettering by Rob Steen. Issue 1 features a cover by series artist and co-creator Steve Pugh and a variant cover by bestselling artist Pia Guerra (Y The Last Man).
Debuting in March 2020.
Welcome to Billionaire Island, where anything goes…if you can afford it. But the island’s ultra-rich inhabitants are about to learn that their ill-gotten gains come at a VERY high price. BILLIONAIRE ISLAND is a savage satire that reunites the creative team behind DC’s The Flintstones.
“BILLIONAIRE ISLAND tells the story of Freedom Unlimited (FU Island), a private island created and populated by billionaires hoping to wait out the end of the world,” said writer and co-creator Mark Russell. “But because they are in international waters and not subject to any law, their haven is a nightmarish police state for anyone on the island who crosses them. In a broader sense, it’s a series that asks the question: how do we save the world when all its resources are partying offshore?”
ASH & THORN, a 5 issue mini-seriesby bestselling writer Mariah McCourt (True Blood, Stitched), artist Soo Lee (Mine!, Charlie’s Angels vs. the Bionic Woman), and colorist Pippa Bowland, with lettering by Rob Steen and covers by legendary artist Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother, Wonder Woman: True Amazon).
Debuting in April 2020.
The apocalypse is nigh! The world needs a Champion, and the only heir to a sacred mystical lineage is…a little old lady? Meet Lottie Thorn, reluctant savior of the world, and her also-elderly trainer Lady Peruvia Ashlington-Voss. They might not look it, but these women are prepared to take on any Big Bad that comes along. But first, perhaps a nice cup of tea?
“Everyone knows Chosen Ones are supposed to be young and extremely expendable, but even the Universe makes mistakes sometimes,” explained McCourt. “And sometimes the mistakes are big ones. Like when it taps an 80+ year old retired art teacher to be the Champion who fights the next Apocalypse. Can an octogenarian overcome age and arthritis to save the world from cosmic monsters, world eaters, and gross creepy crawlies?”
PENULTIMAN, a 5 issue mini-seriesby writer Tom Peyer (The Wrong Earth), artist Alan Robinson (Planet of the Nerds), and colorist Lee Loughridge, with lettering by Rob Steen and covers by Robinson.
Debuting in May 2020.
Penultiman is the greatest, best-looking, and most admired superhero in the world. Penultiman is The Next-To-Last-Stage In Human Evolution. So how can he stop hating himself? Only Penultiman’s android understudy, Antepenultiman, knows the answer. Or, at least, he thinks he does!
“Penultiman, The Next-To-Last Stage in Human Evolution, is hailed as the godlike epitome of beauty, power, and compassion in the year 2020,” said Peyer. “In the far-future century he came from, however, his more advanced contemporaries saw him as a brutish evolutionary throwback and exiled him to our era. Paragon or primitive? His one chance for peace is to deny the haters and admirers alike, and discover who he really is–if he only knew how to begin.”
AHOY Comics’ fourth wave also includes 2 trade paperback collections:
SECOND COMING: Volume One trade paperback by Mark Russell, artists Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk, and colorist Andy Troy, with lettering by Rob Steen and a cover by Richard Pace. The book will be released timed to Lent and will be on sale in comic shops on February 26th and in bookstores on March 10, 2020.
DRAGONFLY & DRAGONFLYMAN: NIGHT & DAY trade paperback by Tom Peyer, artist Peter Krause, and colorist Andy Troy, with lettering by Rob Steen. The book will be released timed to dragonfly season on the east coast and will be on sale in comic shops on May 27th and in bookstores on June 9th, 2020.
Since its debut in September of 2018, AHOY Comics has pledged for readers to “expect more” from its line of comic book magazines and graphic novels with full length comic book stories, accompanied by “extras” including short prose fiction, the occasional recipes, and even a crossword puzzle.
Writer: Mark Russell Artists: Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk Colorist: Andy Troy Lettering: Rob Steen Cover: Amanda Conner
Searching for his missing grandmother, Sunstar is forced to confront the shortcomings of his super-powers. Jesus, left on his own for the day, runs afoul of street preachers. Also: the usual assortment of AHOY prose stories and extra features.