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Preview: Black Crown Quarterly #4: Summer 2018

Black Crown Quarterly #4: Summer 2018

Peter Milligan, Rob Davis, David Barnett, Tini Howard & various (w) • Rob Davis, Martin Simmonds, Philip Bond & various (a) • Philip Bond (c)

Shock and delight in spades as we stretch out the long, hot summer for all it’s worth and bring grand conclusions to Tales from The Black Crown Pub and CUD: Rich and Strange. Plus: Hey, Amateur!, Beat Surrender, previews and interviews with local street celebs in this compendium of comics, culture & cool.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Assassinistas #6

Assassinistas #6

Tini Howard (w) • Gilbert Hernandez (a & c) • Rob Davis (colorist)

Someone’s fate hangs in the balance, and the future of the Assassinistas trio is uncertain, as all things collide at Winnie’s Hot Wheels roller disco party showdown in the final issue of the series.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Assassinistas #5

Assassinistas #5

Tini Howard (w) • Gilbert Hernandez (a & cover a) • Rob Davis (colorist) • Jim Rugg (cover b)

“Pack Some Heat With That Lunch!” Octavia, Dominic, and Taylor come together as a new generation takes shape—and takes swings at each other. Daddy’s home.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Black Crown Quarterly #3: Spring 2018

Black Crown Quarterly #3: Spring 2018

Peter Milligan, Rob Davis, David Barnett, Tini Howard, Jamie Coe & Various (w) • Tess Fowler, Rob Davis, Martin Simmonds, Philip Bond, Jaime Coe & Various (a) • Philip Bond (c)

PERFORMANCE! ART! This sumptuous spring selection of regular shorts, new works, and sublime interviews includes “Tales From the Black Crown Pub” by Rob Davis; “Cud: Rich & Strange” by Potter, Puttnam, and Bond (which follows the rise and fall and rise of the greatest British band you’ve never heard of but can’t live without); “Swell Maps,” “Canonball Comics,” and “Beat Surrender.” Plus, more “House Amok” by Christopher Sebela and Shawn McManus; and “Hey, Amateur!—How to Spot a Galaxy” by Emmeline Pidgen. Find out where the bodies are buried beneath the cross street of Canon and Great Yarn a la “The Great Ghost Walking Tour” by Tini Howard and Philip Bond. And finally: a new feature involving a raygun, a live mic, and pure pandemonium (a la Rashomon) begins!

FC • 48 pages • $7.99

Preview: Assassinistas #4

Assassinistas #4

Tini Howard (w) • Gilbert Hernandez (a & c) • Rob Davis (colorist)

“Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Replaced.” THEN: Rox returns with new scars. Not a metaphor; she’s been shot a bunch. NOWish: Dominic gets the hang of his summer job, finally. LATER: Remember Carlos?

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Assassinistas #3

Assassinistas #3

Tini Howard (w) • Gilbert Hernandez (a) • Rob Davis (colorist) • Gilbert Hernandez (c)

“Don’t feed me—I’m allergic to you!” Dominic shoots someone in the head, and Mom talks him through it. Because that’s what parenting is all about. Also, more on that purse iguana we know you love.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Black Crown Quarterly #2: Winter 2018

Black Crown Quarterly #2: Winter 2018

Peter Milligan, Rob Davis, David Barnett, Tini Howard, Jamie Coe, & Various (w) • Tess Fowler, Rob Davis, Martin Simmonds, Philip Bond, Jaime Coe, & Various (a) • Martin Simmonds (c)

It’s the new Winter’s Edge of Comics Cool in 48 pages! Delight in regular continuing features like legit publications with literary pedigrees! It all begins with the 10-page regular lead feature Tales From the Black Crown Pub, starring Stacey the barmaid, by award-winner Rob Davis (The Motherless Oven). Recurring short features include Canonball Comics: an exquisite corpse that will not stay dead, Cud: Rich and Strange by co-writers/bandmates Will Potter and Carl Puttnam and artist Philip Bond, Swell Maps by music journalist/novelist Cathi Unsworth with illustrations by Cara McGee and a new Hey, Amateur!. Plus: Previews of your future favorite comics like Bandtwits by Jamie Coe, Punks Not Dead by David Barnett and Martin Simmonds, a Walking Ghost Tour of Canon Street by Tini Howard, interviews with your favorite comics celebrities and much, much more!

FC • 48 pages • $6.99

Review: Assassinistas #2

In its second issue, Assassinistas digs into both the family drama and origin story angles as Octavia, her son Dominic, and his boyfriend Taylor get ready to rescue Octavia’s old colleague’s young son from yet another “colleague”. Gilbert Hernandez’s art has a simple elegance, Rob Davis’ colors explode in comparison to the bland suburban setting , and Tini Howard’s writing has plenty of personality and wit. The plot isn’t a rush job; you actually want to spend time with these characters. It starts with mom/son chats and ends with everything going to hell.

Hernandez has such control over his figures that he can convey comedy, anger, or just plain resignation with a raised eyebrows, some lines around the face, and occasionally a mini explosion. His mastery of the comics medium comes in the little parts of Assassinistas #2 like the slight curl in Taylor and Dominic’s brows as they’re a little amused and a little perturbed at the Assassinistas trading cards/dossiers that Octavia showed them. His most emotive storytelling comes in a small scene where Charlotte is freaking out about her missing child and goes from sarcasm to sadness and rage in the space of 11 panels. He and Howard position the wine bottle that she gets from her co-workers (Who are oblivious to the fact that she is a pregnant woman.) as a kind of symbol that she’s locked out of the assassin game for now even though she’s still sharp and admonishes her husband for getting the cops involved. Hitwomen never really retire. The shock of blonde hair that Davis gives her is like an extra exclamation point to any of her complaints or freak outs.

Even though there is plenty of peril ahead, especially for the rookie assassin not-interns Dominic and Taylor, a vein of awkward humor runs through Assassinistas #2 like Octavia whipping out the aforementioned dossiers when Taylor asks about her line of work like she’s ready for potential exposition situations. Dominic and Octavia have a good rapport, but he isn’t afraid to take jabs at her like quipping about using her “insurance company’s” coffee cups for target practice and even taking his father Carlos’ name as a coffee cup. They care for each other, but also get on each other’s nerves. (I can relate.) Howard and Hernandez don’t make Dominic and Taylor total badasses from the get-go, and they stumble through the mission’s early going. Just as there is a smooth operator rhythm to Hernandez’s depiction of the Assassinistas in flashback, there’s a flailing manatee, middle school slow dance rhythm to the new incarnation of the group. It’s not pretty, but it’s true. I also kind of love how Octavia gets maternal as the danger starts to ramp up towards the end of the comic.

In Assassinistas #2, Tini Howard, Gilbert Hernandez, and Rob Davis take the messiness, yet real love between a mother and a son and throws it in the middle of a gun toting with the potential for geysers of blood exploitation flick. It’s hilarious to see modern day teenagers react to intense situations they were far from prepared for, especially in the last third of the comic where Dominic goes from trading barbs with his mom to running around shirtless with a rifle. Howard and Hernadez find a solid middle ground between verbal and visual comedy without losing the suspense factor.

 Story: Tini Howard Art: Gilbert Hernandez Colors: Rob Davis
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing/Black Crown provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Assassinistas #2

Assassinistas #2

Tini Howard (w) • Gilbert Hernandez (a) • Rob Davis (colorist) • Gilbert Hernandez (c)

“Pregnant Pauses and Campout Makeouts” Dominic Price is a college-age cutie pie who just wants to spend the semester making out with his boyfriend, Taylor, in between rounds of TurboLight Fighter and maintaining a solidly passable 3.2 GPA. His mom, Octavia, formerly a badass action-movie-quality bounty hunter, didn’t pay his tuition, because she had to get back in the business and spend 40K on black market weapons and body armor And she’s bringing Dominic with her, because the alternative is making lattes for a semester, and he’d rather die. Good thing in mom’s line of work, dying is an option!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Review: Assassinistas #1

In Assassinistas #1, writer Tini Howard, artist/Eisner Hall-of-Famer Gilbert Hernandez, and colorist Rob Davis weave the tale of a retired assassin named Octavia “Red October” Price, who gets back in the game one last time to rescue her friend/former colleague Scarlet’s baby from the third member of their crew, the enigmatic, dagger wielding Blood Diamond. And tagging along is her college aged son Dominic and his boyfriend Taylor, who are taking a kind of gap semester as her “interns”.

Howard and Hernandez’s approach to storytelling is economic, yet entertaining as they introduce the three “assassinistas” to the reader in a quick three page sequence ending in a posterworthy splash page of Red October, Scarlet, and Diamond causing mayhem for various corporate types. Howard swings nicely from past and present and uses the flashbacks to introduce relevant parts of the story like Dominic’s dad, and how even though she has a house and a son in college, Octavia still hasn’t completely said goodbye to her action-packed lifestyle unlike Scarlet, who is kind of the perfect health conscious young mother. She foreshadows this with some nice banter about Octavia’s theoretical wedding, including a grenade pin ring and “Xanadu” as a wedding march. The plot of Assassinistas is pretty tense, but Howard and Hernandez keep things tongue in cheek.

Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez also do an excellent job of making both Dominic and Taylor fully realized characters and not just comic relief or victims. Dominic gets about as many story pages as his mom, and Hernandez shows the adorableness of his relationship with Taylor in an extended cuddle scene that is the opposite of the violent cold open or his mom’s house littered with all kinds of weapon and body armor even though she technically works in insurance.  He’s just a college kid who misses his boyfriend and wants to have a normal life away from his mom, who he cares for very much. Letterer Aditya Bitika crafts dueling word balloons that work well with Hernandez’s six panel grids as Dominic gets kind of let down by his mom when she doesn’t pay his tuition or room and board, and he’s unceremoniously thrown out of his dorm on the first day of classes. The facial expressions are subdued, and Howard doesn’t up the melodrama level, but this isn’t really what Dominic had planned for the semester. However, Taylor is way into his mom being an assassin, and their physical closeness combined with their honest, easy rapport makes their relationship the strongest of the series so far.

I really liked how Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez handled the awkwardness of Dominic telling his mom about his boyfriend. Octavia isn’t overtly homophobic or anything, but Dominic does a little nod thing when she asks if he’s with a girlfriend and automatically assumes that his romantic partner is female when he talks about bringing someone along to help them on their mission. However, she doesn’t make a big deal about Taylor when he shows up at her house and immediately throws a bulletproof vest in his face because it looks like Assassinistas #2 will be the action issue. But it’s nice to have an issue to establish the character’s relationships and quirks before Octavia channels her inner Pam Grier.

Gilbert Hernandez’s art is one of a kind, Tini Howard combines domestic drama with grindhouse film thrills a la a  the opening scene of Kill Bill Vol. 1, and Rob Davis’ colors are brash and bold. Assassinistas #1 is the tasty comic book dessert you deserve for getting through 2017, and it’s cool to see a genre comic centered around a mother/son relationship that deals with both big guns and pointy weapons as well as finances and bringing your boyfriend to see mom for the first time.

Story: Tini Howard Art: Gilbert Hernandez Colors: Rob Davis
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

IDW/Black Crown provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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