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Baltimore Welcomes Russ Braun, Frank Cho, Garth Ennis, Scott Hanna, Emily Whitten, and Thom Zahler

Don’t miss Baltimore Comic-Con, taking place the weekend of October 22-24, 2021 at the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center. The Baltimore Comic-Con is thrilled to announce the appearances of Russ Braun, Frank Cho, Garth Ennis (Friday and Saturday only), Scott Hanna, Emily Whitten, and Thom Zahler at the 2021 event. You can get your tickets online now!

Russ Braun has been drawing comics for 30 years, with a 7-year break for a stint with Walt Disney Feature Animation. He’s worked for most of the major comics publishers on everything from BatmanSwamp Thing, and Fables for DC/Vertigo to Son of Satan and Where Monsters Dwell for Marvel. He is perhaps best known for his frequent collaborations with Garth Ennis, on their creator-owned Jimmy’s BastardsThe Night WitchesSixpack, and Dogwelder, and particularly on The Boys, now a hit TV series on Amazon. You can find him on Facebook and Instagram at russ.braun.589 or at his website russ-braun.com.

Ringo Award winner and Harvey and Eisner Award nominee Frank Cho launched his career as a comic strip artist at the University of Maryland-College Park student newspaper, penning University2, which was the predecessor of his creator-owned syndicated strip and comic series, Liberty Meadows. His body of work also includes Marvel Comics’ New AvengersMighty AvengersShanna the She-DevilNew Ultimates, and X-Men: Schism, as well as Jungle Girl for Dynamite Entertainment. His recent work can be seen on covers from DC’s Harley Quinn and AWA Studios’ Fight Girls.

Garth Ennis broke into the American Comic scene in 1991, taking over the writing reins on Hellblazer. After a successful four-year run, Ennis moved on to create Preacher, a 66-issue epic that ran from 1995 -2000. In addition to these two ground-breaking series, he also had lengthy runs on DC’s The Demon and Hitman. Ennis wrapped up The Boys, a 72-issue story which began at DC’s Wildstorm imprint before moving to Dynamite Entertainment with issue #7, and which has been adapted as the highly successful Amazon Prime Video series.

Scott Hanna is an Eisner Award-winning artist in the graphic novel industry. Scott has been drawing and inking comic books for over 30 years. His work has been published in over 1,000 comics and graphic novels, and he’s inked over 22,000 pages of comics art. At Marvel Comics, Scott’s worked on all the top characters at the company, including the AvengersIron ManThe X-Men, and The Hulk. He’s most known for his more than 15 year run on the Spider-Man titles. At DC Comics, he has worked on most of their major titles, including a five-year run on Detective Comics starring Batman, Green Lantern CorpsWonder WomanJustice LeagueSuperman, and Teen Titans. Recently, he has worked on Venom #200, Heroes RebornMarvel Double Action, and X-Men Legends for Marvel, and DC GenerationsNightwing, and the Milestone books Icon and Rocket, and DUO at DC Comics. He is founder of the Arts and Fashion Institute in PA with his wife Pamela Ptak, where Scott teaches classes in sequential art, painting, drawing, and cartooning.

Emily S. Whitten is an award-winning writer and the co-creator and co-writer of the Ringo Award-nominated The Underfoot middle-grade graphic novel series from Oni Press, an epic sci-fi saga about intelligent hamsters with special skills struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Emily is also a pop culture journalist and program host, TV and audio media personality, convention organizer, and attorney. She resides in the greater D.C. area, and in her copious spare time enjoys crafting, reading, exploring the great outdoors, and looking after her tiny hamster. Stop by Emily’s table on the exhibit floor to pick up The Underfoot: The Mighty Deep; The Underfoot: Into the Sun; and fun The Underfoot goodies including hamster ears, stickers, and pins. She will also have available a limited-edition print of her “Trick or Treat”-themed The Underfoot watercolor, as featured in this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con Yearbook!

Thom Zahler is a comic book creator and animation writer. He created the Line Webtoons hit series Cupid’s Arrows and Warning Label as well as the Harvey-nominated Love and Capes (recently with new volumes “The Family Way” and the Ringo-nominated “In the Time of Covid”), Long Distance, and the time-traveling wine comic Time and Vine. He also writes and draws for IDW’s successful My Little Pony series, and has written for Disney Tsum Tsum KingdomStar Trek Waypoint, and more. He has written for Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man and Knights of the Zodiac.


2021 GUESTS

This year’s confirmed guests for the show include: Tom Akel (Stan Lee’s Backchannel, courtesy of Rocketship Entertainment), Chris Bachalo (Non-Stop Spider-Man), Art Baltazar (Big Alien Moon Crush), John Beatty (Secret Wars), Carolyn Belefski (Curls), Ziggy Blumenthal (Operation Pajama Pants), Russ Braun (The Boys), Brett Breeding (Superman), Reilly Brown (Deadpool), Greg Burnham (Tuskegee Heirs), Jim Calafiore (Welcome to Megalopolis), Chris Campana (The Adventures of Parker Reef), Castillo Studios, Cliff Chiang (Paper Girls), Frank Cho (Harley Quinn), Becky Cloonan (Dark Agnes), Steve Conley (The Middle Age), Steve Conte (Action Figure Kingdom), Katie Cook (Nothing Special), Jamie Cosley (Light Side), Kevin Cuffe (Metalshark Bro), Kristina Deak-Linsner (Vampirella: Roses for the Dead), J. Robert Deans (Crass Fed), John Dell (Lobo, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Vito Delsante (Stray), Todd Dezago (Perhapanauts), Jason Douglas (Parallel, courtesy of Source Point Press), Charles C. Dowd (Lilith Dark), Ryan Dunlavey (M.O.D.O.K. Reign Delay), Garth Ennis (The Boys, Friday and Saturday only), Trish Forstner (My Little Pony), Franco (The Ghost, The Owl), Bob Frantz (Metalshark Bro), John Gallagher (Max Meow: Cat Crusader), Kami Garcia (Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity), Mitch Gerads (Mr. Miracle), Joe Giella (Green Lantern), Mike Gold (Green Arrow), Michael Golden (Micronauts), Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules!), Dawn Griffin (Zorphbert & Fred), Gene Ha (Mae), Scott Hanna (Icon and Rocket), Dean Haspiel (The Red Hook), Glenn Hauman (They Keep Killing Glenn), Mike Hawthorne (Happiness Will Follow), Marc Hempel (The Sandman), Jamal Igle (Wrong Earth), Klaus Janson (Daredevil, Saturday only), Dave Johnson (The Good wiAsian), Chris Kemple (Artist Alley Comics), Karl Kesel (Impossible Jones), Tom King (Batman), Scott Koblish (Deadpool, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Leeanne M. Krecic (Let’s Play, courtesy of Rocketship Entertainment), Robert Lemieux (Life in the Comics), Joseph Michael Linsner (Red Sonja), Dirk Manning (Buried But Not Dead, courtesy of Source Point Press), Chris Mariano (Claire Lost Her Bear At The World’s Fair), Mark Mariano (Far Out Firehouse), Whitney Matheson (Pandemix: Quarantine Comics in the Age of ‘Rona), Ian McGinty (Adventure Time), Bob McLeod (New Mutants), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), Frank Miller (Dark Knight III: The Master Race, Saturday only), Karl Moline (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Mark Morales (The Next Batman: Second Son), Trevor Mueller (Albert the Alien), Josh Neufeld (A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge), Jamar Nicholas (Leon: Protector of the Playground), Jerry Ordway (The Power of Shazam), James Pascoe (Azrael), Andrew Pepoy (Simone & Ajax), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Khoi Pham (Star Wars: Crimson Reign), Andy Price (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Christopher Priest (Black Panther, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Joe Quesada (Daredevil), Tom Raney (Guardians of the Galaxy), Amy Reeder (Wonder Woman: Black and Gold), Afua Richardson (Omni), Andrew Robinson (Halo), Don Rosa (Uncle Scrooge), Jennifer Rouse (Frankenstein Mobster), Craig Rousseau (The Perhapanauts), Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man), Stuart Sayger (Army of Darkness: 1979), Gregg Schigiel (SpongeBob Comics), Chris Schweizer (The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton), Doc Shaner (Strange Adventures), Jim Shooter (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars), Matt Slay (Equilibrium), Mika Song (Donut Feed the Squirrels), Joe Staton (Dick Tracy), Brian Stelfreeze (Black Panther), Paul D. Storrie (Storm Kids: Stanley’s Ghost), Arthur Suydam (Merc with a Mouth), Martha Thomases (Dakota North), Peter Tomasi (Batman and Robin), Ben Towle (Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat), Tim Townsend (Non-Stop Spider-Man), Billy Tucci (Shi), Fred Van Lente (Action Philosophers), Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, Friday and Saturday only), Emilio Velez Jr. (The Dodgeball Teens), Robert Venditti (Hawkman), Mark Waid (Dr. Strange), Mark Wheatley (Songs of Giants), Emily S. Whitten (The Underfoot), Matt Wieringo (Stargate Atlantis: Gateways), Keith Williams (Thor the Worthy), Marcus Williams (Tuskegee Heirs), Renee Witterstaetter (Guardians of the Galaxy), Javier Cruz Winnik (Puerto Rico Strong), Rich Woodall (Electric Black), Gene Luen Yang (Superman Smashes the Klan), Kelly Yates (Doctor Who), and Thom Zahler (Love and Capes).

Underrated: Dragonfly and Dragonfly Man

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: a prequel to The Wrong Earth, Dragonfly and Dragonfly Man


I initially stumbled over The Wrong Earth because the first issue of the second volume caught my eye. I enjoyed it, a lot, and decided to circle back and order the trade of the first volume. After loving that, I found the prequel book that details the parallel lives of the Dragonfly and Dragonfly Man.

So what is the book about? Well to tackle that, first we need to grasp the nature of Wrong Earth for those who either haven’t read it or missed my previous column on that story. So because I don’t see the need to rewrite the publisher’s blurb for Wrong Earth, I’ll paste it below.

“On dark, gritty Earth-Omega, masked vigilante Dragonfly punishes evil maniacs and evades corrupt authorities. On sun-splashed Earth-Alpha, costumed crook-catcher Dragonflyman upholds the letter of the law. Now they’re trapped on each other’s worlds, where even the good guys don’t share their values!”

If the idea of the Silver Age Batman or the Adam West Batman and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight switching places sounds awesome, to you, well, that’s because it is. But it’s also so much more than just that elevator pitch. But if you want to know more about why that book is awesome, check out the Underrated where I talk about that, because here we’re looking at Dragonfly and Dragonfly Man.

Written by Tom Peyer, featuring art by Peter Krause, Russ Braun, with finishes provded by Juan Castro and Leonard Kirk and colours provided by Andy Troy and Paul Little with Kelly Fitzpatrick. Rounding out the creative team is letterer Rob Steen, who’s contributions to the comic are often subtle until you catch the sound effects giving you a nostalgic Silver Age smile in Earth Alpha. The book is published by Ahoy, a publisher that I’ve become increasingly more aware of as I notice their logo on books I’ve been thoroughly enjoying.

This book essentially takes the same story and tells it twice; once with the Silver Age sensibilities of Earth Alpha, and once with the Modern Age darkness. Because they’re told concurrently, you get to see how the two versions of the same hero react to very similar situations – the dichotomy of the two worlds emphasizes the fish out of water scenario that Wrong Earth deals with, and yet you get to see just how similar the heroes are despite the differences in their respective worlds. The story, essentially, focuses on how Dragonfly and Dragonflyman deal with the threats of Tommygunner and Devil Man, and Peyer captures the spirit of their respective eras very well. I find myself increasingly drawn to the Silver Age shenanigans’ of Earth Alpha; I won’t lie, it’s stirring an urge to find more Silver Age Batman comics/stories to enjoy as the escapism is more refreshing than I’d have expected it to be.

I know that Peyer is currently writing the sequel to Wrong Earth, but I really want to explore more tales told in this fashion to expand upon the universe.

As with Wrong Earth, I’ve only really scratched the surface with this book, because a lot of it you’ll benefit from going in as blind as you can and spotting the similarities between Earth Alpha and Omega, and also the similarities between the two eras of Batman’s past. This series has fallen below far too many radars, and every person to whom I have shown the trade has been thoroughly engrossed and intrigued in the trades.

Seriously, this is well worth checking out.

With the potential richness in the Wrong Earth universe, and the quality of Peyer’s writing and the artistic team’s collaborations, I’ve definitely found one of those comics that I’ll be reading for a long time. You can read this book without having read Wrong Earth, and still find it just as enjoyable – perhaps if you do that you’ll end up with a lot more context in Wrong Earth and its sequels. Go find this underrated gem at your favourite retailer now.


Unless the comics industry ceases to exist this week, Underrated will return next week.

AHOY Comics Signs a Bookstore Distribution Deal with Simon & Schuster

AHOY Comics is the latest comic publisher to sign a deal with Simon & Schuster to deliver their releases to bookstores as of March 2021. The publisher also announced its fall publication schedule which will include trade paperback editions of several of its comics. Diamond will continue to distribute AHOY’s titles into comic shops.

AHOY also announced its fall publication schedule which will also include trade paperback versions of several of its popular series from earlier in the year: Happy Hour, The Wrong Earth: Night and Day, Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood, and Second Coming: Only Begotten Son.

Publication dates and summaries for AHOY’s fall titles are below:

HAPPY HOUR

(W) Peter Milligan, (A) Michael Montenat
August 25, 2021 (Bookstores: September 7, 2021)

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. A timely tale by superstar writer Peter Milligan (X-Statix, The Prisoner) and artist Michael Montenat (Dominion, Hellraiser Annual).

THE WRONG EARTH: NIGHT AND DAY

(W) Tom Peyer, (A) Jamal Igle / Juan Castro
September 8, 2021 (Bookstores: September 21, 2021)

The vengeance-dealing Dragonfly sticks it to the man! The acrobatic sleuth Dragonflyman assists the police! These alternate-earth versions of the same masked crimefighter meet face-to-face for the first time in this new series by the original creators of the smash-hit The Wrong Earth! Will their impossible encounter result in a team-up…  or an all-out war?

THE WRONG EARTH: NIGHT AND DAY

EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF BLOOD

(W) Paul Cornell, Dean Motter, (A) Russ Braun
September 22, 2021 (Bookstores: October 5, 2021)

Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood continues to cheaply exploit the great Edgar Allan Poe’s reputation! The collection combines 6 issues worth of anthologies including a take on how the 1% would fare in “Masque of the Red Death” by Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson, Sherlock Holmes’s investigation of murders from two Poe stories by Paul Cornell (Doctor Who) and Greg Scott, a update on the “Tell-Tale Heart” and more. Oh, and did we mention the new Cereal Monsters story from Mark Russell and Peter Snejberg?

EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF BLOOD

SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON

(W) Mark Russell, (A) Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk
November 3, 2021 (Bookstores: November 16, 2021)

The long-awaited second volume of the book ComicsBeat called “the world’s most dangerous comic book and the most lovely.” As superhero Sunstar anticipates becoming a father, he agonizes over how—and if—he can use his powers to make a better world for his child. And as Jesus Christ loses his bedroom to a nursery, he struggles to find a new place in a society that distorts and exploits his message for profit.

The first volumes of THE WRONG EARTH and SECOND COMING are available now for reorder from Simon & Schuster, along with all other titles in the AHOY Comics backlist.

SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON

Preview: Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood #1

EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF BLOOD #1

(W) Paul Cornell, Dean Motter
(A) Russ Braun, Dean Motter
(C) Jill Thompson
October 21, 2020
$4.99

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 the science vs. religion debate once and for all! Plus: prose, pix, and a jaunty cover by Scary Godmother’s Jill Thompson!

EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF BLOOD #1

AHOY Comics Announces New Comics and more Second Coming and Wrong Earth

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:

PENULTIMAN #1

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!

EDGAR ALLAN POE'S SNIFTER OF BLOOD #1

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.

HAPPY HOUR #1

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!

SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON #1

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!

THE WRONG EARTH: NIGHT & DAY #1

Preview: The Boys: Dear Becky #2

The Boys: Dear Becky #2

writer: Garth Ennis
artist: Russ Braun
cover: Darick Robertson
FC | 32 pages | Superhero Satire | $3.99 | Mature

As Hughie’s discoveries take him down a highly dangerous rabbit hole, what he learns about the good old days reveals a strangely conflicted Butcher — at the worst possible time, as the Boys investigate a particularly insidious supe threat.

The Boys: Dear Becky #2

Dynamite Announces a New Packed Release Schedule for July 1

As summer approaches, Dynamite is heating up as the comic industry roars back with its comeback, and is delivering a scorching haul to fans and retailers for July 1st!

To charge up an otherwise slow week of comics releases, Dynamite is bringing its big guns to brighten up the excitement around returning stories and supporting comic shops. Five of the bestselling and best-reviewed titles will all be out the same week.

The issues are:

  • The Boys: Dear Becky #2
  • Vampirella #10
  • Vengeance of Vampirella #8
  • Red Sonja #16
  • Killing Red Sonja #2

As the second season on Prime is set for an official release date any day now, now is the perfect time for fans to dive into the long-awaited sequel to The Boys with the second issue of Dear Becky. Co-creators Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson return with artist Russ Braun, colorist Tony Aviña, and letterer Simon Bowland. The classic creative team is all back years after they concluded the original juggernaut run and they haven’t missed a step.

Dear Becky

Meanwhile, in Vampirella Christoper Priest‘s intricate saga reaches a climax, as Vampirella falls to her lowest point. Still recovering from a traumatic plane crash and turbulent personal life, she turns to others for help – and one may be the mastermind who has been manipulating all the events to date… With stunning covers from Lucio Parrillo, Guillem March, Fay Dalton, Meghan Hetrick, interior artist Ergün Gündüz, and more, this is an issue not to miss.

In the flagship of the other big Woman of Dynamite, Eisner-nominated scribe Mark Russell continues to spin one of the most acclaimed series in the industry in Red Sonja. Exploring concepts like power, war, and leadership, it has only gotten more enticing moving into its second year with the big war won. What happens next for Sonja the Red?

Across that first year of Russell’s Red Sonja, the titular character lead the rag-tag Hyrkanians against a despotic king. With Red Sonja slaying Dragan the Magnificent in a climactic battle, his surviving son Prince Cyril has vowed revenge on the fiery-haired killer. Alongside co-writer Bryce Ingman and fan-favorite artist Craig Rousseau, Mark Russell chronicles that quest in Killing Red Sonja. Spiced with magic, humor, and more, it’s an indisposable companion to the main series.

Fans looking for a straight shot of classic comic book storytelling with modern sensibilities know that Vengeance of Vampirella is a true hit. Or they better get on it fast! The multitalented Tom Sniegoski, who has written everything from the Punisher, Hellboy, Bone, and dozens of novels, returns to the character he defined for an entire decade. Picking right up where he left off in the 1990s, but incorporating the 25-year absence, this book is comfort food for every longtime fan of the Daughter of Drakulon, and also perfectly approachable for all newcomers.

Review: The Night Witches

THE NIGHT WITCHES

As a child of the 1980s, I grew up in an era that many considered a golden age of cinema. The movie industry started to produce movies that many would soon be known as “blockbusters”. These movies got audiences to come to the theaters by the millions creating an experience for friends and families. One of those movies was Top Gun, a film that embraced American machismo and set a new standard for what was considered “cool”.

The movie has many anachronisms that, though they served the story well, is considered politically incorrect today. From a technical perspective, as someone who used to be in the military, there is a ton of inaccuracies as well. One glaring omission was the lack of female pilots, something that existed before the movie was made. In Garth Ennis and Russ Braun’s The Night Witches, we get a tale of one famous squadron during WWII. It’s a story where one pilot must prove her mettle.

We’re taken to World War II Russia, where we meet Guards Major Aleksander Lukin, who just has been given the task of training the first all-female fighter squadron, the first of its kind anywhere. This is where we meet our protagonist, Lt. Anna Kharkova, who soon finds out that their mission is night bombing, a dangerous assignment, which will cost them several casualties on the first flight operation. This first mission also reveals to the Germans, that Russia is using female pilots, an anomaly no one could have anticipated and something, the Nazi battalions start to target. Eventually, Anna and her fellow pilots start to become proficient, effectively taking out forward bases and catching the eye of the Russian secret police and the Nazi army. Eventually, things don’t go as planned, and one of the fighter planes crashes in Nazi territory, leaving one survivor, Guards Captain Nadia Popova, alone with a rifle and behind enemy lines. Before long, Anna becomes an experienced pilot, flying over 200 successful missions and only wounded twice, but gets transferred to a unit of all-male pilots where she is the most experienced combat pilot there. She would rise to the rank of Captain and lead a unit of six female combat pilots which she is charged with training. The one mission she goes with her newly trained unit results in her plane getting shot down and being imprisoned in a German POW camp, which is eventually liberated. Fast forward to 1951, and Anna, after a few political missteps get busted down, not before pissing off a higher up which sends her and her best friend to jail. By the book’s end, our heroine outwits some of the same men who were threatened by her ability and possibly becoming the best pilot in all of Russia.

Overall, an engrossing read that makes the audience invest in the characters and their story arcs, as Maverick has nothing on the Night Witch. The story by Garth Ennis is well developed, well-characterized, and stays with the reader long after. The art by Russ Braun, Tony Avina, and Simon Bowland is elegant. Altogether, one of the best stories that Ennis has ever written, as it is more than inspirational, it is a vision for a progressive world.

Story: Garth Ennis Art: Russ Braun, Tony Avina, and Simon Bowland
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Preview: The Boys: Dear Becky #1

The Boys: Dear Becky #1

writer: Garth Ennis
artist: Russ Braun
covers: Darick Robertson
FC | 32 pages | Superhero | $3.99 | Mature

Twelve years after the events of The Boys, Hughie finds himself back home in Scotland where he intends to finally marry Annie in the company of friends and family. But the sudden appearance of a peculiar document sends our hero into a tailspin and threatens to bring the events of his nightmarish past crashing down on him in the worst possible way. There was one story about The Boys that Hughie never knew. Now, whether he likes it or not, he’s going to.

The Boys: Dear Becky #1

Review: The Boys: Dear Becky #1

The Boys: Dear Becky #1

Eight years after their final issue and in the context of their successful Amazon TV adaptation, which sanitized this superhero satire for a broad audience, The Boys is back from writer/co-creator Garth Ennis, artist Russ Braun (Who drew 24 issues of the original series, and colorist Tony Aviña. The Boys: Dear Becky #1 is concerned with the future of the relationship between Wee Hughie and Annie January, but also the past relationship between Billy Butcher and his wife Becky, who was one of the few people that saw beneath his violent, hateful, asshole self. And it’s sad to say that the scenes set in the present come across as a tone-deaf Scottish boomer ranting on Facebook while the past scenes actually do hold up with poignant narration from Ennis paired with his usual dark humor and gruesome visuals from Braun and Aviña, who unleashes an abattoir of a color palette.

The Boys: Dear Becky #1 is truly a half good, half bad comic. The first half is Wee Hughie moaning at a pub about the state of the world to his friend Bobbi, who is trans and misgendered immediately. Paired with Russ Braun’s stereotypical art that is reminiscent of Howard Chaykin’s recent, hateful work on Divided States of Hysteria, it’s not a great way to start the story. But it is par for the course for the “Everyone’s bastards, especially superheroes.” sensibility of Ennis’ writing on The Boys. It seems like the goal of the pub scene is to reintroduce readers to Wee Hughie and his post-Boys life, but it’s all overwhelmed by tone deaf takes on everything from white male privilege to affirmative action. However, it’s not all punching down with (In true Scottish manner.) Wee Hughie and Bobbi taking the piss out of Brexit with the loss of the E.U. safety net negatively impacting rural Scotland and also wondering why so many of their fellow citizens are afraid of immigrants in such a racially homogenous area.

All in all, this scene that definitely needed a spot of editing (Although Ennis’ dialogue is still entertaining and colorful, if a bit cringeworthy.) shows that The Boys along with South Park and most of Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy’s oeuvre have outstayed their welcome in 2020. At its finest, The Boys was a darkly hilarious satire of fanboy culture and American foreign policy with a dash of coming to terms with the effects of violence. Now, it’s just cynical for the sake of being cynical. Bright eyed, optimistic Wee Hughie is now just another middle aged libertarian moaning about keyboard warriors and safe spaces. And to add insult upon injury, Russ Braun uses his skill to makes jokes at the expense of aka pot shots at one of the most marginalized groups in 21st century society.

However, to look at the issue and Hughie from another perspective, not giving a shit could definitely be an after effect of the trauma he went through in The Boys. When Ennis and Braun aren’t trying to be edgy, middle-aged white male commentators on society, they do a good job of showing of how Hughie is unable to move on with his life, including several panels of him lying in the bathroom looking at a letter from Butcher that brings his past all the way back. The letters adds depth to the now-dead Butcher, who could take a step back and see that maybe pulling the tongue out of a ten year old copyright-friendly version of Shazam is not a good idea. Braun and Aviña’s art is definitely representative of The Boys’ cartoonish ultraviolence towards superheroes, but Garth Ennis adds an air of conscience in both Butcher’s dialogue and narrative captions that are Hughie reading his letter. He thinks about how the effects of his actions will have both on himself and on Becky and comes across like Wee Hughie when he first joined the team.

If The Boys: Dear Becky #1 was just the Butcher flashback with a bit of a Wee Hughie framing device to see what he’s been up to 12 years after the original series, then it would definitely be worth picking up. However, the new effort from Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, and Tony Aviña gets a pass thanks to half the comic being a privileged white man punching down and a woeful mishandling of a trans character, especially on the art side. It speaks to the conflict in The Boys comic, which could be both a funny, if over the top satire of the comics industry and power structures with surprisingly deep character studies, and a tasteless, stereotyped-filled book that didn’t meet a female character that ended up raped or murdered in a macabre manner. This comic reminded me of my days as a closeted, libertarian teenage edgelord reading The Boys, and why I shudder at them.

Story: Garth Ennis Art: Russ Braun
Colors: Tony Aviña Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 6.0 Art: 4.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleTFAWZeus Comics

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