Tag Archives: saints

Review: Saints OGN

There is always two sides to a story, which is what makes every conflict so interesting. That is why when people talk about fights between groups, they usually use the comparison of the Hatfields and the McCoys as far as how bad it can get. When it comes to how these sides are told, it usually is lopsided. As within the research of these events, most authors tend to become more sympathetic to one group than the other. This is also what drives so many people to do reenactments of the Civil war and the Revolutionary War, as their lineage goes back to a participant, or they feel a kinship to that era/motivation.

As the biggest thing about the civil war, that took a lot of people by surprise, is the fact that actually brother against brother. As one thing that every teacher could not completely satisfactorily answer, is why did the Civil war, have more casualties than two wars combined? I felt that what was different is people’s belief in the reason for the fight and that very much is true for the motivation on both sides of the Boxer Rebellion. As with the Boxers graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang weaves a similar tale with a character, who has two interactions with Bao from The Boxers OGN. This person is, who we find out in this book, is called Four Girl.

In this second and final installment of this book series, we see the positive effect that these “foreign devils” have on the people they bring Christianity to. Four Girl, who is an outcast by her family and who her grandfather blames for her father’s death, soon discovers this new religion through an acupuncturist her mother takes to, to get rid of her “devil face” and who reads her bible stories. Her spiritual guide, throughout the book, is Joan of Arc, much like many of Bao’s folk heroes were his. By the end of the book, she is now, Vibiana, who the reader find someone who was deeply misunderstood and whose faith was true to the end.

Overall, a moving installment of this series, as we find a protagonist, who is more universal than one would ever imagine. The story by Gene Luen Yang is as moving as the first installment, providing the reader with a complete picture. The art by Yang is beautiful and keeps the reader engaged. Altogether, if Yang could explain all conflicts the way he did here, there is no other creator I would follow than him.

Story: Gene Luen Yang Art: Gene Luen Yang
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Civil_War_II_1_CoverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Paul

Top Pick: Civil War II #1 (Marvel) – Here it is!  The start of the next event that is going to split the hero community in half…again.  You would think they would have learned after the first throw down.  This time though, it isn’t registration that is looking to control the heroes and their actions; now we have an Inhuman who can see into the future…and there are those who think this can be used to prevent disastrous events.  Is the future written in stone?  Can you hold someone responsible for something they may do?  That’s what the Marvel Universe will be exploring and you can bet it’s going to get ugly.

A-Force #6 (Marvel) – It’s A-Force vs. Nico (under the control of the Countess).  Medusa has been skeptical about Nico’s powers from the start of this team…it’s going to be very interesting for her to find out first hand just what Sister Grimm can do.  I just hope A-Force survive the ordeal.  I’ve been a fan of this book since the start, and I am always excited when a new issue comes out.  It’s a great read with laughs, sass and action; who can ask for anything more?

Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 (DC) – Yeah yeah, here’s a DC title on my list.  I’ll be honest, I’m interested in this to see Black Canary and Green Arrow together again.  Yes, I know that is just the gimmick (as mentioned in previous articles) DC is using to get readers into this Rebirth.  Me, not being a regular to the DC universe, think this is a great time to jump in and see if it’s enough to make me consider making room for DC AND Marvel in my life.

Old Man Logan #7 (Marvel) – Logan is just looking to lay low and figure out his place in this new world he’s found himself in.  Too bad Lady Deathstrike and her Reavers have other plans.  I am really looking forward to seeing this showdown; this isn’t the Logan that Deathstrike is expecting to find…she may just get more then she bargained for.

 

Javier

Top Pick: Batman: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics) – It’s our first look with Tom King who is taking over writing duties from Scott Snyder.

Deadly Class #21 (Image Comics) – Summer finally is here, as freshmen finals end; but another freshman fails to make it to sophomore year.  Rick Remender’s depressive, but action filled, take on prep school assassination madness,continues to entertain.

The Goddamned #4 (Image Comics) – Another biblical inspired story. It focuses on a seemingly immortal and wandering Cain, after the fall; set in the period of the mythical Nephilim prior to the flood. Jason Aaron weaves yet another must-read grim proto-human story.

Saints #9 (Image Comics) – Another excellent maxi-series reaches its conclusion. The holy war (or unholy, depending on your opinion) ends, when the young and hipster Saints crew come face to face with the Archangel Michael and God.

Unfollow #8 (DC Vertigo) – This dark spin on social media continues, with more of the 140 dropping off, but a new follower enters the fray.

 

Anthony

Top Pick: Birth of Kitaro GN (Drawn & Quarterly) – Kitaro is one of the most beloved characters in Japan. Created by Shigeru Mizuki, the titular character encounters a wide variety of yokai (creatures from Japanese folklore) in stories that appeal to both those interested in Japanese folklore and mythology as well as funny, great, entertaining manga. Finally, the West gets the first of a planned series of volumes with a translation by Zack Davisson.

Civil War II #1 (Marvel) – Say what you will about events for Marvel, this one looks to be the first event to make an impact in the post Secret Wars universe. Issue #0 didn’t really set many things up but did show a not too pleasant looking future. It will be refreshing to hopefully continue to have the series’ perspective from the same characters from the introductory issue.

Moon Knight #3 (Marvel) – Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire have been hypnotizing the reader thus far with a mysterious, brooding tale of Marc Spector combatting both demons (or Gods) both in his mind and in the physical world. This series has picked up the reigns from the last run of ‘Moon Knight’ and continues to prove that the character is one of the most intriguing in the Marvel universe.

Paper Girls #6 (Image Comics) – The first five issues were a fun callback to the action/adventure movies of the 1980s. It will be interesting to see what is in store with this title as the time frame switches to 2016. Plus, it is pretty hard to pass on Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang’s gorgeous visuals and one of the best colourists in the game with Matt Wilson.

The Revisionist #1 (Aftershock Comics) – Frank J. Barbiere is back with another intriguing title that is sure to bring the wit and fun nature of past titles like ‘Five Ghosts’, alongside artist Garry Brown and colourist Lauren Affe. All it takes, beyond the creative team, to be sold on this book are three words: time-travelling assassin. Plus, Aftershock has been releasing some really fresh, outside the box kinds of titles.

 

Alex

Top Pick: 4001 A.D. #2 (Valiant) – I’m not going to lie – I’ve already read this. It’s my top pick because I can’t wait to see the artwork in printed form. So excited.

The Goddamned #4 (Image Comics) – It feels like an age since the third issue came out, and I hadn’t realized how much I missed reading Jason Aaron’s take on the time before Noah needed his Arc. Brutal, bloody, and probably offensive. I love it.

Moon Knight #3 (Marvel) – To be honest, this isn’t the best Moon Knight series I’ve ever read, but it’s far from the worst. With each issue getting a little better, I’m hopeful for the rest of the series.

Old Man Logan #7 (Marvel) – After the anticlimactic first arc, the old man’s second story arc is, so far at least, feeling a hell of a lot better. What’s more classic Wolvie feeling than having him face off against the Reavers?

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #11 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Speaking of things I love… this is arguably the best series being published right now featuring an urban based vigilante.

 

Brett

Top Pick: The Red Virgin & the Vision of Utopia (Dark Horse) – A portrait of revolutionary feminist Louise Michel, who took up arms against a French regime that executed thousands. Deported to a penal colony, Michel joined the cause of the indigenous population against colonial oppression. Is there a more “me” graphic novel? Been reading it, and it’s really interesting.

Chum #2 (Comixtribe) – The first issue was a great mix of surfing and noir. Take Jaws, minus the giant shark, and add a crime story to it, and you have this comic. So good and looking forward to seeing where it all goes.

Hellboy in Hell #10 (Dark Horse) – This is it. Hellboy transforms into what he was always meant to be as Mike Mignola wraps up this series.

Rough Riders #3 (Aftershock Comics) – FDR and his gang of historical figures are heading to Cuba. There’s something really fun about this alternate history comic that dives deep into real history to get things right. It’s entertaining and will get you to do some research too.

Superman: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics) – I loved the Superman: Lois and Clark miniseries and to see where and how this Superman fits into the Rebirth universe is going to be very interesting. That miniseries was filled with action, but also a lot of positivity. This issue serves as a fantastic end cap to that bridging the cap between that and what’s to come.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Monstress02_coverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Top Pick: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (DC Comics/IDW Publishing) – If this comic doesn’t excite you in some way, then I don’t really think anything I say here will change that. But this is a comic I’ve been waiting a decade for.

Ninjak #10 (Valiant) – A new story arc sees the technologically advanced ninja cross into the supernatural. I’m looking forward to seeing Ninjak as a fish out of water, so to speak.

We Stand On Guard #6 (Image Comics) – I’m sure there’ll be an epic conclusion here, and with all the rich connotations that have been sown throughout the series I don’t know how comfortable it’ll be to read. Which is exactly why I want to.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Monstress #2 (Image Comics) – The first issue blew me away with a deeply layered comic that mixed genres, concepts, and packaged it all with beautiful art. The first issue was oversized and I still craved more, it was that good. One of the best debuts of the year, I expect the second issue to be just as good.

Detective Comics #47, Gotham Academy #13, Grayson #15, Red Hood/Arsenal #7 (DC Comics) – All Robin War tie-ins. The lead in comic kicking off the event was solid, and this is event is one that I’m really looking forward to.

The Massive: Ninth Wave #1 (Dark Horse) – The original series tackled the concept of survival in a post ecological disaster world. I could debate that ending for along time, but the rest of the series was good. This prequel takes us back before the collapse and features the familiar crew of the Ninth Wave. This is environmental activism in comics.

Tomboy #2 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – The first issue of this series was one of the other best debuts of the year. It completely caught me off guard, and holy crap was it good. I can’t wait to read the second issue, it’s one of the first comics I plan to read this week to see what happens next and where this series goes.

The Walking Dead #149 (Image Comics) – After the ending of the last issue how could this not make it on the list? We’re one away from the big 150, and I expect something huge for that issue, so need to see the build up too.

 

Elana

Constantine the Hellblazer #7 (DC Comics) –  Constantine reunites with Swamp Thing: the herbacious hero in who’s book he first appeared! This is my favorite DC series now. Creative, funny, dark and damaged.

Gotham Academy #13 (DC Comics)Brand new story arc for my favorite teenage characters in my favorite fictional school. It looks like they’ll be forced to take sides in a currently political debate over teenage vigilanteism going on in Gotham. Can’t wait to hear these kids hash out a serious issue. Enjoy Karl Kerschl’s beautiful art on this book while he’s still there!

Monstress #2 (Image Comics)Easily the most imaginative new fantasy series in ages. Breathtaking art. Complex fantasy world-building that feels entirely fresh. The series touches on real world evils like war crimes, slavery and eugenics. And there are no bearded white dudes that you can’t tell apart. Actually, I think there’s no white people in this at all!  Marjorie Liu was our podcast guest: listen to our interview with her to learn more.

No Mercy #5 (Image Comics)College bound kids on a “charity” trip to pad their resumes now find their lives in peril. This series is both extremely suspenseful and thus far, extremely realistic in ways that make it even more disturbing. The cast of teens are so damn familiar because you’ve met them all in real life. Yet no reader could have a clue about what’s going to happen next. Check out our podcast with writer Alex Di Campi to hear more.

Snow Blind #1 (BOOM! Studios) Alaskan teen trying to get to the bottom of his messed-up family’s mysterious past. Quirky art, heavy on the symbolism. Promising start for a new series.

 

Javier

Limbo #2 (Image Comics) – This is my pick of the week.  Yes, yet another supernatural detective story. This one is set in Dedande (Dead End?) City.  A sort of Magnum PI based Mexican purgatory I’m guessing, but Dan Watters hasn’t revealed much yet. This urban fantasy has a voodoo queen with a fetish for 80s mixtapes, and Wijngaard’s art is captivating.

Ninjak # 10 (Valiant) – I’m a big fan of Valiant books; they put out quality work. This is a good jumping point for new Ninjak fans. Operation: Deadside, a four issue arc written by Matt Kindt, starts this week. Plus Shadowman makes an appearance.

Saints #3 (Image Comics) – Saintly super-powered teenagers on a road trip. I’ll admit I’m into the religious themed good versus evil themed books (i.e. Tithe is another favorite). Mackey’s snappy dialogue and Lewis’s sacrilegious art has me hooked; but I can see how this is going to be one of those books you either love or hate.

Snow Blind # 1 (BOOM! Studios) – This new four issue series from Boom!Studios, written by Ollie Masters (The Kitchen) and drawn by Tyler Jenkins (Peter Panzerfaust) promises to be a witness protection noir story set in the snow-covered landscape of Alaska.  If this is consistent with Ollie’s work on The Kitchen we are in for a cold-blooded treat.

Ultimates #2 (Marvel) – Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ms. America Chavez, Spectrum, and Blue Marvel are back this week to tackle the Galactacus problem.  This issue can make or break the series.  Issue #1 I thought was spectacular, and I’m rooting for them to do more of the same this month.

 

Paul

Top Pick: Scarlet Witch #1 (Marvel) – Wanda has her own title.  That is all :)

Secret Wars #8 (Marvel) – This series is trudging along to the finale….I just want to see how it all ends already!  But I am looking forward to the Thing laying a king size smack down.

Ultimates #2 (Marvel) – How do you solve a problem like Galactus?  Apparently the Ultimates have the answer…but does Galactus even want to hear it?  This is going to be interesting.

Saints—A new crime-horror series readers will worship

Award-winning playwright and This American Life personality Sean Lewis teams up with red-hot artist Benjamin Mackey for an all-new ongoing series in Saints. Dexter-style action collides with a Preacher-esque sensibility in this crime-horror series that will launch on October 7th.

Saints begins when Blaise, Lucy, and Sebastian discover a Holy War is erupting and they, unwittingly, are the next generation of Saints poised to fight for a heaven that God has abandoned.

The occult rises in this spectacular, action-packed new series that promises heavy metal, sex, and deadly one-liners at every turn.

Saints #1 (Diamond Code: AUG150481) will be available on Wednesday, October 7th. Final Order Cutoff deadline for retailers is Monday, September 14th.

Saints

Best Comics of 2013

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means we’re doing our “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2013. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2013, though some are from earlier times and I got around to reading them, or limited series that continued. Keep in mind, this is what I have read. If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

Best Super Hero Comic – Hawkeye

Hawkeye_2_CoverHawkeye, Marvel Comics’ least likely hit is as cool as the minimalist covers by David Aja. Written by Matt Fraction with art by Aja among others, Hawkeye follows the Avenger and shows him not as his cockiest (as portrayed elsewhere), but instead as a character who isn’t totally sure of himself. The series is a deconstruction of this hero, putting him at the street level, as likely to take on Hydra as his is some petty street thugs who say “Bro” a lot. For that, among many reasons, the comic repeats as the best super hero series out there.

The series has a pulp sense about it, but there’s something with Hawkeye’s simple story telling that makes it stand above the rest. The art, the story, the covers, it’s all there blending perfectly. It doesn’t hurt the series also boasted some of the best single issues this year.

There’s a fantastic mix of action, humor and simple human interaction that pulls together to make it the best super hero comic I’m reading. While last year it got recognition, that seems to have grown this year, with the series earning a devoted following and it’s place on not just this list, but many others.

Runners Up:

  • All-New X-Men – This series seriously shouldn’t work, but somehow it did. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has take an idea, pulling the original X-Men to the present, and gave us a solid series that actually spun into Marvel’s best event of this year.
  • Daredevil – A strong contender for this year’s top spot, and past winner, this series is still one of the best comics on the market. Mark Waid’s writing is fantastic as he took Matt Murdock down further holes (literally and metaphorically), and gave him the struggle of dealing with a real life situation, his best friend’s fight with cancer. Next year will shake up the series, here’s hoping it doesn’t suffer.
  • FF – The art, the writing, this series is one of the craziest superhero comics out there and one with amazing heart.  Not shockingly it’s also written by Hawkeye‘s Matt Fraction.
  • The Superior Spider-Man – Much like All-New X-Men above, this series is a concept that shouldn’t work. Dan Slott has switched Peter Parker with Doc Ock and given us the struggle of a villain trying to be a hero. We all know it won’t last, but it’s been one hell of a fun ride so far.

Best Non-Super Hero Comic – Saga

saga15_coverIt shouldn’t be shocking this Image series by writer Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples is in this spot. It’s one of the most decorated comics both this year and last, dominating “best of” lists and it’s well deserved.

The comic is a mix of science fiction and fantasy, following two individuals from opposite warring sides who fall in love, have a kid, and go on the run, pursued by both those sides.

The writing and art are just superb with characters and settings so creative no description does it justice. This is the series I’d hand non-comic readers to show them how amazing the medium can be.

Runners Ups:

  • Imagine Agents – Take Ghostbusters and mix it with Men in Black and you get this series of agents dealing with imaginary friends. The series has been fantastic and I can only want more of it! A feather in the cap for publisher BOOM! Studios’ stellar year.
  • Mind MGMT- Matt Kindt is an amazing writer and this series involving mind controlling secret agents is trippy and exciting as they come. The art is his usual water color like style, unique and recognizable in today’s comics. The comic feels like Ah-Ha’s Take On Me music video, with psychics and world traveling, aka, it’s awesome and the best comic you’re most likely not reading.
  • Revival- Did you hear zombies are still big in entertainment? This new series follows a town locked down by the CDC after the dead come back to life. What’s the cause? What exactly is going on? Little by little we’re finding out, but the focus is really the realistic characters dealing with this strange world.
  • Think Tank – This series deserves more attention. Published by Top Cow and written by Matt Hawkins with art by Rashan Ekedel, it’s real world take and well thought out scenarios and technology make it eerily prescient and a reflection of what the world might really be like when it comes to war in the near future.

Best Limited Series or One Shot – The Wake

The Wake #4 coverScott Snyder is a hell of a writer and the first part of this maxi-series wrapped up recently, leaving me with my jaw on the floor. A story that spans centuries, to say more would be to ruin the shock.

What I can say is the series’ first part evokes classic horror movies and spins out into something completely different by the end. It’s just so good and I don’t want to ruin it.

Snyder is backed up with art by Sean Murphy whose gritty pencils add to Snyder’s scary (good) scripts. Catch up on it now before the next volume begins.

Runners Up:

  • The Black Beetle – Francesco Francavilla, he alone is the reason this series is on this list. The Black Beetle is a return to fun pulp comics of the past, and Francavilla’s writing and his amazing artist (my favorite of the year) make this an amazing read. Can’t wait to see, and read, more.
  • Buzzkill – Don’t know this one? This limited series deals with a hero who only gets his powers through drugs. The problem is, he’s trying to get clean. A solid series full of ultra violence. I’m hoping for a second volume, which would be interesting considering how this one ended.
  • Demeter – The final release of Becky Cloonan’s indie comic trilogy, it’s just creepy. I’d include The Mire and Wolves which round out the set, but those came out before this year. This shows how many of the best comics are independent comics.
  • Trillium – A max-series from Vertigo covers love across time and space. It’s trippy in ways I can’t describe. The series mixes heart and sci-fi in awesome ways. Luckily we have many issues to go over the next year.

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – March Book One

March-cover-100dpi.105340March is a brilliant accounting of Congressman John Lewis’ story for new generations and those with similar struggles around the world. This amazing biographical graphic novel is written by Cong. Lewis in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell. The result is one of the best graphic novels in recent memory and an amazing depiction of history that’s accessible to all.

This graphic novel is a piece of history, capturing the Congressman’s experiences testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations. This isn’t just a graphic novel for folks to pick up and enjoy, it’s a work of art and history that should be in every school teaching about our country’s modern struggles.

Seeing as it’s only the first book in a trilogy, expect it to be on a few more lists to come.

Runners Up:

  • Battling Boy – Comics should be fun and Paul Pope’s throwback series featuring a hero sent to Earth as a test is modern Jack Kirby. Just an amazing read with fantastic art, it was a pleasant surprise. The worst part was, I wanted to read more than just this first volume.
  • Boxers & Saints – Covering the Boxer Rebellion, this dual graphic novels take the perspective of the Chinese rebels and the Christian missionaries. Again, an excellent look at history, it’s two books that can be read apart or together.
  • The Fifth Beatle – The only book so far to look at the life of Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein, it’s writing is terrific and art amazing. It was a tough decision as to which would be the top graphic novel, and this one was a close second. Just a fantastic read for comic fans, history fans, music fans and Beatle fans. It’s both uplifting and touching. It’s being made into a movie, so expect buzz about this for many more years.
  • Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes – Matt Kindt’s graphic novel follows a series of crimes and the detective who deals with them. There’s a twist at the end that makes this amazing. Add in Kindt’s unique and beautiful art, and it’s easy to see why this makes the list.

Best New Series – The Superior Foes of Spider-Man

SuperiorFoesOfSpiderMan_1_CoverMarvel’s “superior” line of comics has been just that and stands out as Marvel’s best line of comics and this series is a challenger for the best one of the line. Following Spider-Man’s C-list (ok maybe D-list) villains, we get to see things from their perspective.

The series so far has been amazing with writing that’s entertaining, fun, funny and witty. These are bad guys, and for some reason, each issue, I come out rooting for them to succeed. I also feel bad for them, because they’re just not all that good at their jobs.

Eventually Spider-Man will stop being superior, and I hope when that time comes, we don’t see the end of this, because the comics stands out as one that lives up to it’s title, it truly is superior.

  • Afterlife With Archie – I live an Archie comic! In fairness I dig Mega Man, but this is the first that features the Riverdale cast. That cast is now dealing with a zombie outbreak, but this adult Archie Comic has shown the publisher is willing to try things and the series is boosted by the art of Francesco Francavilla.
  • The Bunker – I had to include this digital series which comes to print next year. It’s apocalypse meets Lost story is beyond amazing and art is fantastic. More individuals will hopefully see what the buzz is all about when it comes to print next year, published by Oni.
  • The Fox – The second “Archie” comic in the list is a throwback character that’s fun and entertaining. This is a superhero comic that’s great for the family.
  • Letter 44 – Charles Soule is the hardest working many in comics, writing so far 7 comics a month in 2014. This is his creator owned series that mixes politics and science fiction. Two issues in, I want more!

Best Single Issue – Hawkeye #11

hawkeye #11 coverHawkeye is the top superhero comic of the year, and this issue alone would qualify it to be on any “best of” list.

The issue is told from the perspective of Hawkeye’s dog Lucky, who is now also known as Pizza Dog. The issue is from the dog’s perspective using iconography and muffled dialogue instead of the normal dialogue we’d expect.

I like the fact the comic is original and switches it up from the main character as quite a few issues in this series did this year. But, it’s a pretty high profile comic series focused on a dog! Gutsy and fun at the same time how can you not like that? To say the issue was unique this year is an understatement.

Overall, it’s a brilliant issue on so many levels, it’s just an amazing comic and one of the best for many years. The fact that it spun out a fanbase for the dog says enough.

This was a top issue of a series that had many stand-outs.

Worst Single Issue of the Year – Avengers: Endless Wartime

Avengers_Endless_Wartime_Vol_1_1Marvel announced it was releasing new original graphic novels and this was the much-hyped first release from the creative team of Warren Ellis and Mike McKone. If it’s goal was to gain new readers, boy did it fail.

While the comic has an interesting start, the set-up is much more impressive than the follow through. Underneath the shallow exterior, there’s a greater debate about modern war, both the outsourcing of the battles fought and the pressing a button to kill your enemies thousands of miles away through drones. Overall, the disconnect and dissociation of modern war is a recurring theme throughout the comic. That’s great, if it was discussed more than some glancing dialogue here and there. Unfortunately, that very important discussion and worthwhile exploration is presented with bad guys that seem like something out of a kids cartoon and in a narrative that at times doesn’t make much sense.

The art is average, matching a blah story. I think the character designs are a bit off from what we’ve seen and not always consistent throughout the book and the monsters that are battled aren’t quite clear as to what they are.

It’s the only purchase this year I’ve wanted my money back.

Best Event of the Year – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: City Fall

180px-TMNT_25AI’ll admit I generally ignored TMNT for much of the year, but this event made quite a few lists and I sat down and read it all over the holiday and holy crap did I miss out. The series follows Shredder’s power grab of New York City and the Turtle’s attempt to stop them.

But the best thing was all of the moments that just made it awesome for long tim TMNT fans. With the appearance of Bebop and Rocksteady, Leonardo turning evil, and so much more, this was the culmination of a long time build up.

This has drawn me back in and has me reading the series now each month to make sure I don’t miss out.

Runners Up:

  • Battle of the Atom – Marvel has been not doing it for me when it comes to events so this one which brought X-Men from the future to deal with the X-Men from the past was a pleasant surprise.
  • Forever Evil – DC has been hit and miss, but this event has been pretty solid. Especially when you look at it as commentary between the dark and gritty villains of modern times versus the cleaner villains of yesteryear
  • Harbinger Wars – Valiant’s major event was full of damage, destruction and set the universe off in a whole new direction. this is how you do an event right.
  • Transformers: Dark Cybertron – IDW’s Transformers series have been awesome and this is the culmination of long going stories. Thankfully we have much to go to enjoy.

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2012 was a year we saw major creators shrug off the big two, instead launching creator owned series at other publishers, digitally or through Kickstarter. We saw more comics, in more varieties, on more subjects and more ways to consume them, than any time before. It really wasn’t the year of the Big Two, this was a year that we as consumers could continue to find something that’d fit our tastes.

With more channels for distribution and more ways to produce comics, we’re in a golden age where the old ways of publishing no longer hold back the creativity that abounds.

Runners Up:

  • Zombies – Zombies have become a cultural phenomenon, lead marching shuffling along by The Walking Dead. Revival changed the genre a bit, with so many releases giving us so many other spins and perspectives. The genre has crossed over in to movies, television, books, toys and more. We’ll see how soon before it all comes grinding to a halt and rots away.
  • Digital Comics – Digital first. Digital exclusive. Web comics. This was the year digital comics began to break through. Lead by the platform comiXology, we also saw some creativity in how to sell digitally by Viz and Archie. This distribution method will only grow in 2014 as more ways to gain revenue from it are explored.

Best Surprise of the Year – Image’s continued come back

image comicsImage celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in 2012, and it came back in 2013 and kicked even more ass. It continued to do so this year, adding to the previous year’s hits with even more hot new series. Each release seemed to create bigger and bigger buzz with constant sell-outs. And should it be any shock this was the case?

Image drew some of the biggest talent in the comic industry as creators continued to throw off the shackles of the big two and instead released quality indie comic after indie comic. Pretty Deadly, Manifest Destiny, East of West, Black Science and more debuted in 2013 and that’s on top of The Walking Dead, Saga and many more of the hit comics they already published. It’s truly impressive how much quality and buzz the publisher generated with each release.

They also pushed the distribution envelope selling DRM free comics directly to fans, though questions do remain about that whole announcement.

There was something for everyone this past year from Image, and they continued to move beyond their reputation of big guns and pecks comics, instead bringing us varied titles that at times pushed the medium.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Kickstarter

KickstarterLast year’s “publisher of the year” showed its issues as projects were delayed, vapor ware, or not as advertised. Also add in issues on the creator end of folks pledging high amounts and then disputing the charges, at times getting the goods. Add in the platform’s unwillingness to step in to deal with either situation and you get a tech company showing off it’s greed. What was once the toast of the town has shown its cracks which will only get worse.

The crowdfunding platform became a way for creators to raise funds for projects, only to get picked up by publishers, at times delaying projects and leaving bad tastes in the mouths of fans. If all creators were held to the standards of some of the best users of the system, there’d be no issue, but over 90% of the projects I’ve pledged to have been delayed or non-existence only creating angry backers and fans.

These issues have lead this site to rethink what we promote and how we do so.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Publisher of the Year – BOOM! Studios

comics-boom-studios-logoA lot of thought has gone into this one and we discussed much of this on this week’s radio show. To me, the publisher of the year is BOOM! Studios and its imprints, KaBOOM!, BOOM! Box and Archaia.

For me a publisher should be more than just the comics it produces, and this one is, but lets start there. BOOM! has show diversity with it’s various lines, with interesting and fun series that span many genres and comics that are good for adults and kids. The publisher has licensed comics and original series that’s something for everyone.

Then there’s the fact they’ve expanded their market. The publisher merged with Archaia, adding to their impressive line-up and talent. Then there was the release of 2 Guns in theaters, a success for the first time movie maker. Then there’s the deal with 20th Century Fox that sees the comic creator as an IP generator for the movie studio. All solid moves that would be impressive to themselves.

Finally there’s the diversity of staff. The company has show diversity works. The amount of women working for the publisher in numerous positions is amazing and in an industry that has a bad reputation when it comes to inclusion, this was the publisher that showed it’s possible and leads to success.

It’d be hard not to applaud the company and they deserve recognition for their hard work that’s paid off.

Runners Up:

  • IDW Publishing – IDW is a publisher that thinks outside of the box when it comes to building it’s readership and that’s why they’re on this list. Not only did they make a fantastic move in including their comics in Transformers toys, an event first issue even, but they also used QR codes to get those toy collectors to check out their app. Also they’ve repackaged their My Little Pony comics to better sell in big box retailers, again something new and interesting as far as marketing. With this, plus some other moves when it comes to partnerships, expansion into tv and movies and games, the publisher is thinking bigger than the comic market.
  • Dark Horse – Conan, The Massive, The Strain, the Goon, Dark Horse Presents, Mind MGMT, Ghost, Buzzkill and I could go on and on. Dark Horse gave us some amazing monthly series, but also collections of modern comics as well as classic comic archives. Consistently some of the best comics out each week and some fantastic gems.
  • Monkeybrain Comics – The digital comic publisher is showing digital works and their move to collect series and get them into print second is a fantastic model I expect many others to try out. Add on top of that an expansive library with enough different titles to appeal to anyone, it’s not a surprise they’re getting accolades across the industry.
  • Titan Books – While none of their books made this list, this publisher would easily fill the 5-10 slots for most of these categories with amazing comics such as A1 (my top anthology), Death Sentence, Chronos Commandos, Tomorrowland and more. They have a second wave of books announced for 2014 that sounds like they’ll be competing for publisher next year and challenging for many of these categories.
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Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints Makes the National Book Awards Longlist

The National Book Awards announced their Longlist in the category of Young People’s Literature and have included Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel diptych about the Boxer Rebellion, Boxers & Saints. Boxers & Saints is the only graphic novel to make the list.  This follows Yang’s American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel ever to be a finalist for the National Book Awards.

Boxers & Saints is one of the most ambitious graphic novels First Second has ever published. It offers a penetrating insight into not only one of the most controversial episodes of modern Chinese history, but into the very core of our human nature, tackling the difficult subjects of nationalism, faith, and coming-of-age. Gene Luen Yang is rightly called a master of the comics form, and he brings all his formidable talents to bear in this astonishing new work.

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.  But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

You can read the full list of nominees here. You can read our review of Boxers & Saints here.

BoxersSaints

Review: Boxers and Saints

BoxersSaintsThough they are two separate works, it’s kind of hard to not talk about Gene Luen Yang‘s Boxers and Saints without discussing the two books together. Out this week from First Second, the two volume work doesn’t have to be read together, but they’re enhanced by doing so.

Boxers and Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.

But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

The two volume set is ambitious work, it tells the same story from two perspectives, giving us the Boxer Rebellion which fought against the oppression of Western Imperialism, but at the same time a story of a Chinese girl, accepted by Western missionaries throwing off the oppression of Chinese society. Both give us insight to a world most of us don’t know and a time period we don’t learn enough about.

Yang’s storytelling is masterful, which each volume playing off of each other in both themes, design, and plot which interweave at points. In Boxers, Bao is driven by visions of Chinese gods while in Saints, Vibiana is driven by visions of ghosts as well.

What’s interesting to me though is how much more I enjoyed Boxers than Saints. While they can be read on their own, I would recommend reading Boxers if you choose Saints, but you can skip Saints if you just want to read Boxers. I don’t think Saints, is as strong storywise, but it greatly enhances Boxers. However, as a diptych, Yang makes a strong case for graphic novel(s) of the year. Each on their own are candidates for award season.

I could go on and on telling you why you should buy these, but my words don’t do justice to Yang’s and definitely don’t do justice to his art.

This project was ambitious, and it is pulled off masterfully. To just put out one of these graphic novels should get people talking, but to do this two volume set is just showing off. Some writers just hope to create one graphic novel of this quality, Yang does two in one week. If I had to choose between picking up some of my monthly comics and this? I’d drop the monthly comics and pick these up instead, it’s that good.

Each volume is sold separately or as part of a boxed set. I’d suggest buying the box set, you’ll read one and want to get the other, trust me.

Story: Gene Luen Yang Art: Gene Luen Yang
Boxers: Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Saints: Story: 8.75 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

First Second provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review

Pick(s) of the Week: Boxers & Saints and so Much More

BoxersSaintsIt’s a new week of comics and this Wednesday sees an interesting batch of releases. While going over the long list of comics and graphic novels coming out, one stood out amongst the rest, Gene Luen Yang‘s Boxers & Saints, a two-volume graphic novel that depicts the Chinese Boxer Rebellion.

Published by First Second, the set tells the story from two perspectives, one of the revolutionaries and from a Chinese girl saved by Christian missionaries. Either read together or separate, the graphic novels are a true work of art, layered in their content with beautiful imagery.

Many creators hope to publish one great graphic novel, Yang decides to one-up everyone by releasing two in one week.

Check out below for the rest of the team’s picks!

Andrew:

Top Pick: Kings Watch #1 (Dynamite) – Since their last reunion in the 1986 animated series Defenders of the Earth, Dynamite’s Justice League of 1930s pulp heroes looks like the perfect alliance to battle a global threat.

Star Wars #9 (Dark Horse) – As long as Brian Wood continues to maintain the look and feel of the original Star Wars trilogy, I’ll keep reading this series. The second Jar Jar Binks shows up, I’m out.

Batman #23.2 Riddler (DC) – These Batman sub issues are an interesting take on the universe’s villainous characters, but I’m ready to get back to #24.

Mars Attacks Judge Dredd (IDW) – After reading the unflinchingly serious Judge Dredd Year One, this book looks like a nice departure into the absurd.

TPB/Graphic Novel of the Week: The Halloween Legion: The Great Goblin Invasion (Dark Horse) – Sean and I posted rave early reviews of this HC, but in case you missed them, this story provides a fantastically fun start to the fall season.

Brett:

Top Pick: Might Avengers #1 (Marvel) – I’m a bit hesitant to put this one as the top pick, but Marvel has put together a “minority” super hero team to defend Earth as the rest of the heroes are off in space dealing with bad guys. There’s something about this that makes me feel dirty, but at the same time, the line-up of characters is too good to not read.

A1 #4 (Titan Comics) – Titan has been knocking it out of the park with each issue. This anthology is all quality in both storytelling and the art. Just an amazing package. I wish we could get each of these stories as their own individual series they’re that good.

Ballistic #2 (Titan Comics) – My second pick is also from Titan. This series evokes the crazy out-there British comics of the 80s. The issue is fantastic.

Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol #3 (Titan Comics) – Titan has an impressive three comics on my list. Dinosaurs +time travel + Nazis = fun. The comic is beautiful and fun and just screams B-movie entertainment.

Sons of Anarchy #1 (BOOM! Studios) – The popular and widely acclaimed television series comes to comics.

TPB/Graphic Novel of the Week:  Cyborg 009 (BOOM! Studios/Archaia) – You can read my review here. To say I liked it is an understatement. The graphic novel is fun and exciting all bundled up in a beautiful package both inside and out.

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