Tag Archives: steve skroce

Comics Deserve Better Episode 15: Dept. H, Volume 1 “Pressure” by Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt

On this episode of Comics Deserve Better, Brian, Darci, and Logan take a little undersea voyage and discuss the gorgeous visuals, complex characters, and clever storytelling of Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt‘s Dept. H from Dark Horse Comics. Seriously, this is a beautiful book with one hell of a mystery plot. They also discuss this week’s comics news, including Grant Morrison coming out as non-binary, the announcement of the Luther Strode and Henchgirl TV shows, the podcast Bubble becoming comic, and new books from Steve Skroce (Post Americana) and Mike Mignola (Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land) Other comics mentioned on the show include Wynd, Origins, Red Atlantis, Planet Paradise, Spice & Wolf, and Ablaze‘s The Cimmerian. (Episode art by Matt Kindt)

Post Americana is a Sci-Fi Tale of Revenge, Responsibility, and Who Inherits the Earth

Popular storyboard artist Steve Skroce returns for the action-packed miniseries Post Americana. Part Kill Bill, part Mad Max: Fury Road, this new dystopian story will ignite readers’ imaginations when it launches from Image Comics this December.

Post Americana is a six-issue feast-for-the-eyes-adventure that fans won’t want to miss and features the show-stopping talents of multiple Eisner Award-winning The Walking Dead Deluxe colorist Dave Stewart. The series is a futuristic sci-fi tale about revenge, responsibility, and who inherits the Earth after mankind is nearly wiped out by a cataclysm.

It was built to ensure the survival of America’s executive branch of government and its most important citizens, should the unthinkable happen. When the world ended in Post Americana, the executive branch failed to reach the sanctuary, but the elite citizenry did. Eighty years later, one of their own has named himself the new President of the United States. His plan? Subjugate the survivors of the American Wasteland using the same bunker resources meant to rebuild it. The only thing standing in their way is a deadly Wasteland girl, hellbent on revenge.

Post Americana #1 (Diamond Code OCT200014) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, December 2.

Post Americana

Hulk and Xemnu Battle it Out on Steve Skroce’s Immortal Hulk #33, aka #750, Cover

Since launching The Immortal Hulk back in 2018, the mastermind creative team of Al Ewing and Joe Bennett have brought Marvel’s iconic character to shocking and thought-provoking new heights. Issue after issue of this action-packed series has both delighted and stunned readers, making it one of today’s most critically acclaimed books. And the frightful fun is just getting started.

Immortal Hulk #33, the Hulk’s landmark 750th issue, will be an extra-sized special full of the mind-blowing storytelling that fans have grown to expect from this hit series. Featuring a sequence drawn by superstar artist Nick Pitarra, The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett will continue to redefine Bruce Banner’s journey as he trades blows with Xemnu and the Hulk’s longstanding feud with Roxxon Energy comes to a head. Check out the explosive variant cover by Steve Skroce and colorist Dave Stewart below and behold a first look at the interior action from Bennett, inker Ruy Jose, and colorist Paul Mounts with these two double-page spreads that connect to form one massive scene!

Don’t miss the next chapter of the book everyone is talking about when Immortal Hulk #33 goes on sale March 25th.

Immortal Hulk #33 Steve Skroce cover

Maestros Vol. 1 Hits Stores this October Collecting the First Seven Issues

Steve Skroce will release Maestros Vol. 1—collecting the first seven issues of his dark fantasy series—this October from Image Comics. Nominated for an Eisner Award in the Best New Series category, Maestros is richly layered and deeply irreverent.

The Maestro and his entire royal family have been murdered. Now, his banished son from Earth will inherit the Wizard King’s throne—along with a spell that turns its user into God. With enemies everywhere, will this Orlando-born millennial be able to keep his new magic kingdom?

Maestros, Vol. 1 TP (Diamond code: AUG180164, ISBN: 978-1-5343-0673-8) will be available in comic book stores on Wednesday, October 31st. The final order cutoff for comics retailers is Monday, September 17th. It will be available in bookstores on Tuesday, November 6th.

Maestros #3 Gets a New Printing

Image Comics has announced that the third issue of Maestros, the darkly irreverent fantasy series from Steve Skroce, is being rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand.

Skroce’s reputation for jaw-dropping worldbuilding technique extends beyond just the comics industry with his storyboarding credits on such Hollywood blockbusters as the The Matrix Trilogy and I, Robot. He also co-created Doc Frankenstein with Geof Darrow and the Wachowskis.

In the series Maestros, protagonist Willy Little has been granted an unlimited and ultimate power by sheer happenstance when his god-like wizard-king father is murdered, along with the rest of the royal family.

With the all-powerful Book of Remaking stolen by cutthroat thieves—and with Willy being the only one who can open it—it’s starting to look like his reign might be a short one.

Maestros #3, 2nd printing (Diamond code: NOV178105) and Maestros #4 (Diamond Code NOV170774) will both be available on Wednesday, January 24th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, January 1st.

Maestros is Such a High Note, It Goes Back to Print

Image Comics has announced that the first issue of Maestros, the new irreverent fantasy series from The Matrix storyboard artist Steve Skroce, will be rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand.

The Maestro and his entire royal family have been murdered, and his banished son from Earth suddenly inherits the Wizard King’s throne along with a spell that turns its user into GOD. With enemies everywhere, will this Orlando-born millennial be able to keep his new magic kingdom?

Maestros #1, 2nd printing (Diamond code: SEP178184) and Maestros #2 (Diamond code: SEP170750) arrive in comic book shops Wednesday, November 15th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, October 23rd.

Review: Maestros #1

2E6866E8-9BF3-48A3-A836-D3BA7E71304C*MINOR SPOILERS BELOW*

If I had to describe Maestros #1, and I should since you took the time to read this review, I would say it’s part Tarantino, part Big Trouble in Little China, and part fantasy story. That is simplifying what is essentially one of the craziest, and prettiest comics I have read and looked at in recent memory. The only book I can think of that rivals the beautiful art married with a ridiculousness fun story of this level is Head Lopper.

The story starts off with the murder of Maestro, and the rest of the royal family. All signs point to the evil wizard, Mardok, who kind of looks like a Shaman and a flying Monkey from Wizard of Oz combined. We meet Margaret, who is told the news by a talking flower person who lets her know that since she had divorced Maestro, her and her son, Willy were spared. She then realizes she must go to her son to protect him. It’s a fun set up, and from here we see things start to go off the rails from a traditional fantasy plot.

We then meet her son, Willy, who is a wizard who is using his magic powers to enlarge the genitals of an oil salesmen in a seedy bar. He admits to a few of the ladies that he is speaking with that he could use his powers for more, but this is just temporary. Chaos breaks out and the mother and son are on the run from the evil forces of Mardok. It happens very quickly, and it is a lot of fun. The dialogue by Steve Skroce is witty, edgy, and works within the craziness of this world. They actually speak like real people, even though they are inside of a wacky fantasy tale.

I couldn’t finish talking about this book without discussing the beautiful art, which was drawn by Steve Skroce as well, and it is really something to see. Even with some graphic scenes of violence in the beginning, I found myself taking in all of the little details. Skroce is a heck of an artist, as he showed on the Brian K. Vaughn book, We Stand on Guard, and he does a stellar job again here while pulling double duty as the writer. The colors are also masterfully done by Dave Stewart, and really help this awesome book come to life. What would a good fantasy or sci-if story be without an awesome palette? Not very good or full of imagination, and thankfully that isn’t the case here. All bets are off as we see a wide array of color, and it is beautiful.

I recommend this book, as long as you do not mind a little swearing, a little violence, a little nudity, and a lot of craziness. If you like books like Head Lopper, or other out there original stories that are trying to do their own thing, and incredible art, then give Maestros a shot. It’s insane, in all the right ways.

Story: Steve Skroce Art: Steve Skroce Colors: Dave Stewart Lettering: Fonografiks
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Steve Skroce Unleashes Maestros this October

Superstar comics and storyboard artist Steve Skroce will take on both writing and art duties in his all-new, totally irreverent and fantastical action-comedy Maestros this October from Image Comics.

The Maestro and his entire royal family have been murdered. Now, his banished son from Earth will inherit the Wizard King’s throne along with a spell that turns its user into GOD. With enemies everywhere, will this Orlando-born millennial be able to keep his new magic kingdom?

Maestros #1 (Diamond code: AUG170542) arrives in comic book stores Wednesday, October 18th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, September 25th.

We Stand On Guard Wears its Canadian Flag Like a Patch on an American Backpack in Europe

I probably shouldn’t take We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce too seriously as a political commentary on Canadian-American relations or American military-industrial imperialism. On its face, as an action comic, it’s pretty paint-by-numbers, relying on standard set pieces and cardboard characters, which essentially serve to get us from one highly-detailed, impressively-rendered explosion to the next.

But I’m a Canadian. A Canadian who grew up an Army brat in 70’s French immersion schools, graduated high school on a Cold War base in Germany, opposed the 1987 Free Trade Accord, demonstrated against the 1990’s-era budget cuts, got tear-gassed by my own military protesting the 2001 Free Trade Area of the Americas, froze my ass off protesting the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and is writing this as Canada “celebrates” (if that’s the right word) the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge and lines up behind President Trump as he sets up another regime change.

I’d like to say that We Stand on Guard plays with a number of Canadian myths and symbols – we start, for instance, in the year 2112, two hundred years after the War of 1812. For certain Canadians, including one of the kids in the book, this represents the first, last, and only time that “Canada” (although as is rightly pointed out, we weren’t yet an actual country) beat the USA in a shooting war. The British burning of the White House in 1814 is one of those things that we pull out every now and again (usually over beers during a gold medal hockey game).

In the book, the White House has indeed been burned to the ground – and the American invasion begins with the bombing of Ottawa in retaliation (although it is never proven – nor disproven – that Canadians did it). Of course, it’s all a pretext for expropriating Canada’s fresh water. A simple enough idea – but one that rests on a fundamental mischaracterization of how Canada actually works.

We’ve had our differences with the USA, certainly, mostly due to our being a British colony. My current home of Montreal was captured during the Revolutiionary War in 1775; in 1812, the US and UK went to war; in the 1860’s a group of Irish-Americans called the Fenians conducted a series of raids against British North America. You could say that one of the chief purposes of creating the Dominion of Canada was to defend British subjects against America. But at the same time, we have always relied on the size and proximity of the American marketplace as a customer for our abundant and cheap natural resources.

Seminal economic historian Harold Innis famously wrote of the Canadian economy as essentially being “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” From our beginnings as Nouvelle-France and Rupert’s Land to the present day, Canada’s value has fundamentally been as a supplier of natural resources – cod, coal, fur and felt, timber, nickel, wheat, potash, oil and gas, etc. As we evolved politically, we have remained pretty much the same economically.

Which brings me to the point where We Stand On Guard is pure fantasy: America would never have to invade Canada to get our water.

First, American or multinational companies would simply buy pumping rights, one lake at a time. And we would happily sell it to them. After all, as the chairman of Nestlé put it recently, “water is not a human right.” It’s a natural resource, as marketable as any oil, wheat, or timber, and we’ve never put up too much of a fight to think of it any other way.

Second, if Canada or any of the Canadian provinces put up any resistance, they would be sued under NAFTA’s infamous Chapter 11 Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. Private corporations are allowed to sue public government against expectations of potential profit, and decisions are made by a secret and binding tribunal. Canada is the most-sued nation under NAFTA, most often for environmental laws. The US has never lost a NAFTA Chapter 11 case.

Third, if the White House ever did give us the stinkeye and ask us to dance, there’s no way we’d drop the gloves on them. Justin Trudeau, having dreamily campaigned on being the progressive option after a decade of Conservative reign, promptly approved the Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL pipelines, over the objections of the First Nations he promised to respect. Trudeau, while in opposition, voted for an anti-terrorist bill which gives the government unlimited rights to spy on citizens, and also created the term “economic terrorist” in order to dispose of pesky anti-pipeline treehuggers. Much the same way the Harper government jailed – er, detained, sorry – hundreds of G20 protestors in Toronto, the way Chrétien pepper-sprayed his G20 protestors, the way Trudeau the First rounded up hundreds of Québécois under the War Measures Act, the way that Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis padlocked the doors of anyone he suspected of being a Communist, the way that Japanese Canadians were jailed – sorry, interned – during World War Two, the way that Ukrainian Canadians were similarly interned as “seditious aliens” during World War One, the way that First Nations children were rounded up to have the “Indian-ness” beaten out of them in residential schools. Canada is not now, nor ever has been, a nation of saints.

True, we do occasionally put up some resistance: I’m thinking of how Lyndon Johnson grabbed Nobel Peace Prize winner PM Lester B. Pearson by his lapels for not following the US into Viet Nam, growling, “You pissed on my rug!” Trudeau and Nixon were not exactly best buddies: Nixon once called Trudeau an asshole. Trudeau replied, “I’ve been called worse things by better people.” And, thanks in part to a protest in Montreal in 30-below zero (Celsius – that’s minus 20 degrees F), Canada didn’t follow the US into Iraq. But I can guarantee you that, had the Prime Minister been a Conservative from Alberta and not a Liberal from Quebec, a Montreal protest would have meant about as much as Quebec anti-conscription protests meant in 1917 and 1944: rien pantoute, nothing at all. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” for both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

Now, I understand that We Stand On Guard is meant to be a fun action book. But surely there could be more creative and subversive ways of portraying an entirely fictional Canadian resistance to an American military invasion. As I was reading, the missed opportunities piled up like timber. For instance: while I was happy to see my family’s hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan get a shoutout from the captured resistance leader (complete with ladypart joke about the Queen City’s pronounciation), Vaughan could have just as easily made her an actual Mountie (Regina is the HQ of the RCMP and its Academy). “The American” counter-terrorism commander is revealed to be from Canada – but where she could have made a very simple argument about shocking and aweing her own countrymen (the Canadian military being under American command in NORAD, for instance), she’s given a story about having moved to New York as a kid. The resistance cell calls itself the Two-Four (after a 24-bottle case of beer): why not the May Two-Four, in celebration of the most Canadian of holidays, Victoria Day? It’s even something else in Quebec, where the third Monday in May is the Journée des Patriotes, in honour of the 1830’s rebels from what would become Ontario and Quebec fighting for representative  democracy. And never once are we actually treated to a rendition of “O Canada”, in either official language (the French version, by the way, is the original).

Speaking of which: to use Vaughan’s own line, the French in this book sucks. They couldn’t have asked someone to check it? I’ve had the same issue with Chapterhouse’s Captain Canuck and Northguard comics. Language is the linchpin of the Québécois identity – the ability to speak not only French, but the local joual vernacular, is what, in the ears of many, makes you a “real” Quebecker or not. At any rate, to my ear, a Québécois who doesn’t utter a single “criss de câlice de Saint-Ciboire de tabarnak” under fire is just as wrong as a Jewish character who doesn’t speak a word of Yiddish. It’s absolutely essential to character. Never mind the straight-up grammatical and spelling errors that a French proofreader should have caught.

So We Stand On Guard is a comic full of lazy shortcuts by an otherwise good writer who has access to Canadian culture (as he’s married to a Canuck, and his artist is also from the Great White North). Why he couldn’t have, or just didn’t, take the time to invest in something more genuinely interesting, is maddening to me. Not only does this book not dig into a certain set of Canadian myths and symbols, it doesn’t even present them accurately. It’s neither subversive nor playful; neither serious enough nor fun enough. This comic wears its Canadian flag like a patch on an American backpack in Europe.

I must say this, though: I would buy a comic called The Littlest Robo in a heartbeat.

New York Times Bestselling Miniseries We Stand on Guard Hits Paperback this April

Image Comics has announced that the New York Times bestselling miniseries We Stand on Guard, from Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce, will be released as a trade paperback this April.

Set 100 years in our future, We Stand on Guard follows a heroic band of Canadian civilians-turned-freedom-fighters who must defend their homeland from invasion by a technologically superior opponent…the United States of America.

We Stand on Guard TP (ISBN: 978-1-5343-0141-2, Diamond code: FEB170725) arrives in comic book stores Wednesday, April 5th and bookstores Tuesday, April 11th.

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