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Review: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #1

Gryffen: Galaxy's Most Wanted #1

Ben Kahn, Bruno Hidalgo, and coloring assistant James Penafiel are back with some yummy, fun, and ultraviolent sci-fi as Captain Lyla Gryffen busts out of the prison hold of genocidal space fascists with the help of Elf and resistance fighter Telika and scientific genius/fuck buddy Elliot Dao. It’s space pulp adventures retrofitted for our era of hypercapitalism and white supremacy like Rick and Morty if it had a social conscience filled with equal takedowns of oppressive systems and shit blowing up.

The first page narration sets Lyla Gryffen as some legendary figure, and Kahn and Hidalgo ensure they live up to the legend by making Gryffen #1 all about cleverly breaking out of prisons and laying out their ideals about the world via quippy, eminently quotable dialogue about Bourbons, Bonapartes, the Industrial Revolution, and green Jello. Even though Gryffen is an action adventure narrative, it’s all about finding away to disrupt hegemonic systems instead of just the usual rebel alliance/blow up the small moon sized space station nonsense. Lyla wants to create a world where Admiral Thrawn, clones of the Emperor, and/or Yuuzhan Vong couldn’t rise to power after the second death Star through the power of science. But, also, violence.

Speaking of violence, Bruno Hidalgo’s art hits fever pitch when Lyla is kicking ass up and down the prison with Ben Kahn supplying them with one-liners about a no killing policy. Hidalgo and James Penafiel uses a red color palette to add intensity to the prison riot sequence, and Hidalgo’s uses big poses to draw attention to each action beat. The use of some old school motion lines are great for Lyla’s quick dodges and jabs and also builds up to a mad scientist’s wet dream of conclusion that oddly made me want to revisit the Halo franchise.

Other than the action with a side of political satire and emphatic artwork, Gryffen is a fun comic because of the interactions and chemistry between the three crew members, Lyla, Telika, and Dao. It’s a hotbox of cynicism meets idealism plus the fierce sexual attraction between Telika and Dao. Plus they love science a lot and think it’s the solution to everything, which leads to ingenious solutions, but also has bad side effects like the death cult that Dao influenced back in the day. The ideological clashes and riffing between Lyla, Telika, and Dao keeps the story going between fights, escapes, and chase sequences, and I look forward to learning more about cool scientists and seeing Lyla roast more 21st century Earth politicians.

Gryffen #1 is a sci-fi comic that is both immensely entertaining and sociopolitically relevant. Lyla Gryffen has plenty of attitude, and it seems like Ben Kahn is having the time of their life writing them. Throw in Bruno Hidalgo’s in-your-face colors and pulpy, gory artwork, and this is the summer punk rock sci-fi spectacular that you wish Hollywood had the balls to make.

Story: Ben Kahn Art: Bruno Hidalgo
Color Assists: James Penafiel Letters: Sal Cipriano
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Starburn Industries Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Starburns Industries Press Goes Digital, Launches Three Digital-First Comedy Series on May 1

Starburns Industries Press’ summer season begins May 1, with the debuts of three digital-first series from some of comics’ rising stars! Spanning three genres, Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most WantedInvasion from Planet Wrestletopia, and Long Ago and Far Away are united by SBI’s mandate of “Funny. Strange. Sad. Beautiful.” Each limited series will later be collected in paperback, but fans can read them early on comiXology and preview them in Starburns Presents, SBI’s 2019 Free Comic Book Day offering.

Gryffen is being serialized in half-length issues for 99¢ each, while Wrestletopia and Long Ago and Far Away are serialized in full-length—and some extra-length—issues for $1.99 each, passing the savings from print costs on to readers. Schedules range from weekly for Long Ago and Far Away to monthly for Wrestletopia, but it all starts May 1!

The three series available May 1 include:

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED

Script: Ben Kahn (Heavenly Blues)
Art and color: Bruno Hidalgo (Once Upon a Time Machine)
Letters: Sal Cipriano (The Batman Who Laughs)

Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo follow up their acclaimed Heavenly Blues with Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted, a genderqueer space opera following Captain Lyla Gryffen’s campaign against the fascist Sovereign Reach. Once pride of the Reach, Gryffen disappeared six months ago at the edge of the galaxy, only to return one week ago—deeply pissed off. Building a crew from a hostage Reach soldier and the imprisoned smartest man in the universe, Gryffen is out to put a stop to the Reach’s exploitation of worlds, the stagnation of science, and the tyranny of green Jell-O!

Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted will run twelve 12-page issues for 99¢ each. Issue #2 will release on May 15, with subsequent issues released every three weeks.

Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted

INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA

Script: Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin (Lumberjack Man)
Art: Dan Schkade (The Spirit), Kendall Goode (WWE)
Color: Marissa Louise (Hex Wives)
Letters: A Larger World (Ninja•K)

Creators Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin bring their cult classic to SBI Press, where the story will be completed for the first time! “Boy Scout” Bob Schultz! Cousin Orville! Mini Macho! Kodiak Jack! Spanish Rose! Don Fong Wong! These are the megastars of 1984’s AWF. “Rock ’n’ Roll” Rory Landell isn’t getting the respect he thinks he deserves, so one crazy night he ups the game, declaring himself the Galactic Champion of the Universe. But it turns out AWF fans aren’t the only ones listening, and the denizens of planet Wrestletopia aren’t going to take a challenge like that sitting down! Soon the Earth is enclosed in a metal cage, and true Galactic Champion Manifest Destiny is on the hunt for Rory, who may or may not be passed out drunk somewhere.

Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia will run six extra-sized issues for $1.99 each. Issue #2 will release on May 15, with subsequent issues released monthly.

INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY

Script: Chris Mancini (Comedy Film Nerds)
Art and Color: Fernando Pinto (Monarchs)
Letters: Troy Peteri (KISS)

Comedian and Comedy Film Nerds cohost Chris Mancini breathes new life into fantasy realms with adept humor artist Fernando Pinto! Decades ago, Jason saved the world of Elvenwood from the witch queen Nexis as the Child Knight. Today, he’s an unhappy manager of a comics store, where his disbelieving coworkers have to hear his ridiculous tale over and over. When the denizens of Elvenwood return to seek Jason’s help again, it turns out it’s all true, but will Jason be the hero he once was? Or will he just make things worse because he grew up to be a complete jackass?

Long Ago and Far Away will run eight standard-length issues for $1.99 each. The series will be released weekly.

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY

The first issue of each series is available exclusively on ComiXology May 1, and Gryffen and Wrestletopia are also previewed in Starburns Presents Free Comic Book Day #2 on May 4! The issue includes an excerpt from Wrestletopia #1 and the complete first chapter of Gryffen, along with a prologue for C.W. Cooke and Kelly Williams’s upcoming digital-first Nasquatch, an excerpt from the next chapter of A.C. Medina, Mina Elwell, and Kit Wallis’s Hellicious, an original story from the world of Eben Burgoon’s B-Squad, and a taste of comedian Josh Fadem’s A Whole New Set of ProblemsStarburns Presents #2 features an original cover by Kelly Williams mashing up the characters from all of the issue’s stories!

Starburns Industries Delivers the B-Squad this Summer

B-Squad

As it heads into its sophomore year of publishing, Starburns Industries Press sets it’s eyes on remastering an independent series, B-Squad, from indie darling author Eben Burgoon and a rotating roster illustrators and artists that change issue to issue. B-Squad shares the ridiculous and dangerous missions of an expendable team of misfit mercenaries ranging from pop-culture riffs to cut from whole cloth oddballs. The bargain-bin commandos tackle leftover assignments of other more respected mercenary groups.

SBI Press’ run begins with a remaster of the series debut “Conspiracy in Cambodia”, originally independently published in 2013. Written by Burgoon and illustrated by Lauren Monardo, B-Squad is tasked with protecting a free-range cadre of “mugwai” from a group of radicalized hipsters who poach the furry critters for unknown gain.

Illustrator Michael Calero returns to B-Squad to take over as the series’ Artistic Lead for Starburns Industries Press’ run. Calero previously contributed to B-Squad’s sixth book in 2015 and returns to create all-new covers and contribute to an all-new second mission. Additionally, he’ll also be debuting his own creator-owned comic, Monster Safari, as a back-up story to B-Squad beginning with Mission One.

In the spirit of a Saturday morning cartoon block, each B-Squad book serves as home for brand new tangential comics like Calero’s “Monster Safari” and “Tiny Wizards” Burgoon’s newest creation, with art by Dean Beattie, about six-inch-tall wizards trapped in the fast-food culture of a remote truck stop. The remastered books are rounded out with activities, puzzles, and bonus content in homage to dentist office staples like Highlights magazine and ZooBooks. In each story, the author spins an antique six-sided top to determine which squadmate will be killed off permanently and replaced with a new rookie in the each subsequent book.

The first 48+ page giant size book will also be available in local comic shops and is available to pre-order through Diamond Previews and select online retailers. The debut issue is currently scheduled for the second week of July 2019. A preview of B-Squad will be available in Free Comic Book Day 2019’s edition of Starburns Presents from SBI Press.

Nasquatch Delivers Sasquatches, Fast Cars, and Trailer Parks

What’s that howling in the distance? Somewhere lurking between Arkansas and Kansas…a guttural call of a creature long thought mythical…calling out from deep within the…trailer park? Comic creators Kelly Williams and CW Cooke chronicle the exploits of Nasquatch, a comic series to be published by Starburns Industries Press!

Nasquatch is the story of Nas and Denny, two disparate souls brought together by racing, cars, and a love of the outdoors. Also, Nas is a sasquatch who is an unbelievable driver and Denny lives in a trailer park and just wants a better life.

The idea of Nasquatch was won by Kelly Williams in an arm wrestling match against a chupacabra. Kelly decimated the 3 ft 4 inch malnourished cryptid and then approached CW to assist in telling this tale. A tale so wonderfully insane it would take 10 people to tell, but they decided to settle on doing the best they could between themselves so they didn’t have to split the money 10 ways!

Nasquatch will be a digital-first comic book series launching in 2019, first appearing in the pages of the Starburns Presents Free Comic Book Day issue from SBI Press and going from there digitally and eventually seeing print in trade paperback format.

Starburns Presents Free Comic Book Day
Nasquatch

Review: ¡Fantasmagoría! #1

HBO has had a history of delivering excellent shows with amazing talent that pushes boundaries. The network often told stories that most mainstream outlets rarely touched or even cared to. They wanted to introduce a new standard of prestige television and it did exactly that. One of its most memorable features was the Hudlin Brothers’ Cosmic Slop as it touched on subject matter affecting persons of color. Since then, not much content has came out that resembled anything near to the impact that feature had. In SBI Press’ newest book ¡Fantasmagoría!, we get an echo of yesteryear with a Latinx twist in what horror fans can relish.

In “El Corazon Negro,” one veteran Lucha Libre has an epic brawl with Death himself, but not everything goes as planned. In “The Flying Coffin,” one man makes a deal with devil only to be outsmarted by Hell’s Angel himself. In “Put A Little Chile In It,” one woman consults a witch for a love potion only to leave the object of her desire, literally in flames. By issue’s end, each story has the reader on the edge of their seat and leaves them little creeped out.

Overall, it’s an excellent first issue in what is landmark series that gives the world a series of horror vignettes that will both entertain and scare. The stories by Eric M. Esquivel and James A. Fino reminds me of how episodes from Tales From The Crypt used to make me feel. The art by the creative team more than compliments each story. Altogether, it’s an astonishing debut that will both thrill and frighten in the same breath.

Story: Eric M. Esquivel and James A. Fino
Art: Julieta Colas, Victor Moura, Fernando Pinto, Trevor Richardson, Beli De La Torre, Kote Carvajal, Henry Barajas
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays 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!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

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

Doomsday Clock #7 (DC Comics) – After a bit of a break, the DC event is back and we’re still intrigued as to where it’s all going as it moves into the latter half of its run.

Edge of Spider-Geddon #4 (Marvel) – Each issue so far in this lead up to the main event has been fantastic. All its done is made us wish that each of these characters had their own series! We expect no less from this one.

Extermination #3 (Marvel) – When it comes to the Mutants, Marvel and them seem to be their best when it involves crazy time travel stories. This one has been lots of action and shockers and this is another we have no idea where it’s all going.

Faith: Dreamside #1 (Valiant) – Faith is always a fun time and mixing her with the Dreamside? Yeah, we’re in for that.

Fantasmagoria #1 (Starburns Industries Press) – A horror comic that explors mythology specific to Mexico. That alone has us intrigued to check it all out.

Fearscape #1 (Vault Comics) – This one sounds a bit like a new take on the Sandman and that sort of storytelling. Vault has some fantastic releases so we’re excited to check this out and see what it’s all about.

Fence #10 (BOOM! Studios) – This series has been fantastic bringing the sports manga concept to the twist. BOOM! has been killing it when it comes to that and this one has been amazing with every issue.

Friendo #1 (Vault Comics) – A personal marketing VR has gone haywire. Again, Vault has been top notch when it comes to releases so we’re excited to check this one out.

Gamma #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – Pokémon meets Power Rangers… um ok. Sounds awesome to us!

Heroes in Crisis #1 (DC Comics) – There’s been a hell of a build up to this new event series that explores the trauma that superheroes experience.

High Heaven #1 (AHOY Comics) – AHOY’s first release was amazing and we’re expecting more of the same from this upstart publisher that wants to deliver more when it comes to comics.

Illegal (Sourcebooks) – A powerful graphic novel exploring immigration and undocumented immigrants.

Infinity Wars: Iron Hammer #1 (Marvel) – The first issue that mashed together Captain America and Thor was fun and this one with that’s Iron Man and Thor? We’re expecting lots of drinking… and more fun.

Justice League Odyssey #1 (DC Comics) – The space/tech Justice League… you have out attention.

Man-Eaters #1 (Image Comics) – Chelsea Cain… nuff said.

Scarlet #2 (Jinxworld/DC Comics) – The first issue was a great return for the character and series and we want to see if the second issue can continue to deliver.

Spider-Geddon #0 (Marvel) – The newest Spider-Man event is kicking off and Marvel has been rocking it with the Multiverse Spider-Man stuff. Plus, this issue marks the debut of the recent video game version of the character.

Star Trek vs. Transformers #1 (IDW Publishing) – The title really says it all.

Stranger Things #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – The popular television show comes to comics.

Transformers: Lost Light #24 (IDW Publishing) – IDW is wrapping up their current run on Transformers and we have no idea what’s coming next. We just know this series is wrapping up and bringing all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Starburns Industries Press Tag Teams With Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia. Get the First Two Issues at Rose City Comic Con

Starburns Industries Press, the new publishing division of the studio behind Rick and Morty, has partnered with the creators of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia for Rose City Comic Con. SBI Press will publish the no-holds-barred, action-comedy sci-fi series from writers Matt Entin and Ed Kuehnel, artist Dan Schkade, colorist Marissa Louise and letterer Dave Lanphear.

Inspired by the colorful days of 1980s pro-wrestling, the six-issue mini-series kicks off when disgruntled professional wrestler “Rock ‘n Roll” Rory Landell declares himself “galactic champion of the universe”, which a hostile planet of wrestling aliens takes as a declaration of war from Planet Earth.

Fans at this year’s Rose City Comic-Con can grab issues 1 & 2 of Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia thanks to a small print run available at the Starburns Industries booth (#649). Writers Kuehnel and Entin will be signing copies throughout the con while artist Dan Schkade will be at the booth Saturday from 1-3. Stop by booth #649 for this and more books and swag from Starburns Industries this weekend!

It’s Comics Comics from Starburns Industries Press on Kickstarter

Starburns Industries Press has launched a Kickstarter for their Comics Comics anthology which is completely written by stand-up comedians.

Backer rewards include the comic in print and digital, two Kickstarter exclusive editions, Starburns swag, our other comics, retailer tiers, and even a tour of the studio that produces Rick and Morty, HarmonQuest, and Animals.

Comics Comics is an ongoing collection of original stories with each issue containing at least 48 pages of brand-new stories written by headliners, cult favorites, and newcomers drawn by artists from every corner of the comics world.

Comics Comics features such voices as Patton Oswalt (MST3KHappy!), Paul Scheer (How Did This Get Made?The League), Sam Jay (SNL), Jackie Kashian (The Dork Forest), Quinta Brunson (BrokeUp for Adoption), Megan Koester (Coming to the Stage, Corporate), Sara Benincasa (Real Artists Have Day Jobs), Carolyn Main (Pitch, Please!), Eliot Rahal (New Comic Book Day), Rose Matafeo (Funny Girls), Nick Giovannetti (Bad Guys), with more announced throughout the campaign.

The comedians have the freedom to write whatever they want in any genre resulting in comics featuring slices of life, flights of fancy, and journeys into genre.

Teaming up to make these stories into comics are such comedy fans as Troy Nixey (Vinegar TeethThe Black Sinister), Robert Hack (Chilling Tales of Sabrina), Evan Dorkin (Milk and CheeseBill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book), Rick Altergott (ViceCracked), Brent Schoonover (Gregory Graves), Sarah Burrini (Nerd Girl), and more, with double threats like comedian/cartoonist Carolyn Main writing and drawing! A set of Kickstarter-exclusive covers are painted by cartoonist and HBO artist Richard P. Clark (The BoysHouse of Gold & Bones).

The Comics Comics Kickstarter runs through September 19. Backers can get copies of the comic in print and digital, an exclusive hardcover version, prints, and more.

Review: Hellicious #2

Well that was an awkward meeting but hey, Cherry scared Briggy Bundy! Actually she may have killed him.  There’s no need to be mean about it, she just wanted to say hi! And to be the first to welcome Briggy to his new home, Hell! Just don’t tell Sin he’s here. Also where do these skeletons keep popping up from and why won’t they leave Cherry and Briggy alone? Go away you creeps, don’t you see Cherry and Briggy have tundras to explore and Hellbeasts to ride!

Our tour of Hell continues as Cherry brings Briggy Bundy to her home to show him around the place. Writers Alan C. Medina and Mina Elwell continue their twisted journey into the afterlife as Cherry brings on the psychotic side of her. Hellicious #2 delivers the reaping with a cuteness about it that delivers a humorous take on Hell.

The issue is Cherry taking Briggy around Hell convinced he’d enjoy it and her learning the truth about this rocker. There’s just a lot of weird cuteness as Medina and Elwell show us more of Hell and the comic’s success relies mainly on the crazy stops we’re introduced to.

The issue relies heavily on the art of Kit Wallis and colorist Jio Butler who have a style that reminds me a lot of the comics coming out in the 90s, the cute goth/demon comics of the time. The locations have details that dare you to look and with each look there’s lots to laugh and smile about. And there’s Cherry herself who takes you on it all with a cheerful glee and confusion when she eventual learns the truth about Briggy. There’s a childlike aspect that Wallis and Butler help emphasize through the art. Micah Meyers‘ lettering too helps with emphasizing the words in a way that helps enhance Cherry’s voice of a pretty spoiled child that’s also a reaper..

There’s a lot that this series reminds me of and there’s a retro vibe to it all that takes me back to some of the comics I collected as a kid in the 90s. I have no idea where this is all going but there’s something about it all that makes me want to find out.

Story: Alan C. Mediana and Mina Elwell Art: Kit Wallis
Color: Jio Butler Letterer: Micah Meyers
Story: 7.95 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Starburn Industries Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays 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!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

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

Archie Meets Batman ’66 #2 (Archie Comics) – The two worlds collide in a fun adventure that really works in the first issue. We didn’t get a lot of Batman/Archie action but it looks like this issue will get us there.

Batman #53 (DC Comics) – This storyline has focused on Bruce Wayne on a jury to decide if Mr. Freeze is guilty after Batman pins him to a murder.

Crowded #1 (Image Comics) – In the future, it runs on an economy of job shares and apps and someone has targeted an individual who then hires the lowest-rated bodyguard to protect her.

Edge of Spider-Geddon #1 (Marvel) – Spider-Verse round 2 is what this sounds like as the multiverse’s Spider-people come together once again.

Extermination #1 (Marvel) – Marvel’s big X event that has something to do with the original X-Men… we’re intrigued and hoping this is a return to the great events of the past.

Fence #9 (BOOM! Studios) – A comic about fencing!? Add in a little drama and this comic has quickly become one of our favorites. This is a great example of looking at what others are doing, in this case manga sports comics, and bringing it to Western audiences. Fantastic all around.

Hellicious #2 (Starburn Industries Press) – The first issue of this series was hillarious in a nice twisted way. Short take: little girl who’s a demon and likes to torture things. As we said, twisted.

Infinity Wars #2 (Marvel) – The lead up series left us wanting but the first issue of Marvel’s summer event really caught us off guard in a good way. We’re excited to see what happens next and honestly, we have no idea where this one is going.

Injustice vs. the Masters of the Universe #2 (DC Comics) – We expected a fun first issue but not one with so much depth and thought. Will the second issue be a repeat and continue to surprise? We’ll find out!

Pearl #1 (DC Comics/Jinxworld) – Brian Michael Bendis’ Jinxworld comics are now being published by DC and this new series he’s back with long time collaborator Michael Gaydos. We’re beyond excited.

Ruinworld #2 (BOOM! Studios) – The first issue was adorable, fun, and funny, and we’re excited to read this second issue of this webcomic that has come to print!

Tongues #1 (Fantagraphics) – Anders Nilsen series taking place in the modern Middles East following the entwined stories of an imprisoned god, the eagle that is his jailor, an east African orphan on an errand of murder and a young American with a teddy bear on his back, lost in a trackless wilderness. Revenge, evolution, the fate of the world… and a talking chicken.

Terminator: Sector War #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – It’s been a while since we’ve had a new Terminator series and with a new film in production, we’re excited for what’s to come!
Undocumented (Abrams Comicarts) – The story of immigrant workers who come to the United States without papers. A timely graphic novel we’re excited to see humanize this reality.

Volition #1 (Aftershock Comics) – It’s the not too distant future where a race of robots has spawned but are second class citizens. They struggle for equal rights but a virus threatens all artifical life.

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