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Review: Ludocrats #1

Ludocrats #1

Ludocrats #1 is a wild, decadent comic. Many years in the making, it’s from writers Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol, artist Jeff Stokely, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Clayton Cowles, who gives the book a definite “Euro” vibe. The story follows the misadventures of Otto and Hades. They’re a part of an aristocratic group dedicated to having a good time. It is an utter paean to the art of hedonism: the comic book equivalent of Dionysus giving Apollo a spanking.

First up, there’s a wedding between Elaina and Lord Pulderwart, a “boring” person. It’s a wondrous occasion for a first issue and turns the classic comedy structure of ending with a wedding on its head reflecting the topsy turvy world order of Ludocrats. Gillen and Rossignol indulge in their most florid and absurd prose. Especially through the character of Otto, who is introduced completely nude, covered in blood, and with his penis out. Otto is pure id and gets the best lines as he is the arbiter of all things “ludicrous”. He is the offspring of Shakespeare’s Falstaff. More so the Merry Wives of Windsor Falstaff than the Henry IV duology Falstaff. Otto is the physical representation of this comic’s themes and attitudes.

Jeff Stokely’s artwork in Ludocrats is Asterix and Obelix by way of Brandon Graham. It features all kinds of fun and hilarious background details that are expanded upon in the issue’s back-matter. Stokely and Tamra Bonvillain’s double-page spread of a wedding set the tone and almost singlehandedly build the world of Ludocrats. It’s like the Mos Eisley cantina on acid. You’re introduced to a world where knights read the newspaper, some folks have goldfish bowls for heads, and a bag of wheat gets a seat all to themselves for some reason or another.

Everything in Stokely’s artwork is exaggerated. It fits the tone of Ludocrats #1 from the aforementioned nude and bloody Otto taking up an entire full-page spread. There’s no room for deadpan (Except for the cool Dr. Hades.), everything is ham in this comic. Even though Ludocrats has the clear structure of a wedding, Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol are liberated to write some of the strangest dialogue I’ve seen, especially when Otto tries to flirt with one of the party guests. Who knows that a satire of heteronormativity could be so damn funny, especially when Stokely adds cartoon physics to the mix?

Although its characters behave in unrestrained manners and constantly try to outdo each other in the matters of eccentricity, Ludocrats #1 is a comic that’s fairly easy to follow. Its focus is two main characters and a variety of visual and verbal jokes. Instead of relying on boring exposition (This is actually a plot point), Gillen, Rossignol, Stokely, and Bonvillain throw you straight in the middle of the world without a life vest. This is an admirable storytelling point, and Ludocrats #1 is a true party of a comic that you should safely try to acquire when it’s released.

Story: Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol Art: Jeff Stokely 
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Early Review: Ludocrats #1

Ludocrats #1

Ludocrats #1 is a wild, decadent comic. Many years in the making, it’s from writers Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol, artist Jeff Stokely, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Clayton Cowles, who gives the book a definite “Euro” vibe. The story follows the misadventures of Otto and Hades. They’re a part of an aristocratic group dedicated to having a good time. It is an utter paean to the art of hedonism: the comic book equivalent of Dionysus giving Apollo a spanking.

First up, there’s a wedding between Elaina and Lord Pulderwart, a “boring” person. It’s a wondrous occasion for a first issue and turns the classic comedy structure of ending with a wedding on its head reflecting the topsy turvy world order of Ludocrats. Gillen and Rossignol indulge in their most florid and absurd prose. Especially through the character of Otto, who is introduced completely nude, covered in blood, and with his penis out. Otto is pure id and gets the best lines as he is the arbiter of all things “ludicrous”. He is the offspring of Shakespeare’s Falstaff. More so the Merry Wives of Windsor Falstaff than the Henry IV duology Falstaff. Otto is the physical representation of this comic’s themes and attitudes.

Jeff Stokely’s artwork in Ludocrats is Asterix and Obelix by way of Brandon Graham. It features all kinds of fun and hilarious background details that are expanded upon in the issue’s back-matter. Stokely and Tamra Bonvillain’s double-page spread of a wedding set the tone and almost singlehandedly build the world of Ludocrats. It’s like the Mos Eisley cantina on acid. You’re introduced to a world where knights read the newspaper, some folks have goldfish bowls for heads, and a bag of wheat gets a seat all to themselves for some reason or another.

Everything in Stokely’s artwork is exaggerated. It fits the tone of Ludocrats #1 from the aforementioned nude and bloody Otto taking up an entire full-page spread. There’s no room for deadpan (Except for the cool Dr. Hades.), everything is ham in this comic. Even though Ludocrats has the clear structure of a wedding, Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol are liberated to write some of the strangest dialogue I’ve seen, especially when Otto tries to flirt with one of the party guests. Who knows that a satire of heteronormativity could be so damn funny, especially when Stokely adds cartoon physics to the mix?

Although its characters behave in unrestrained manners and constantly try to outdo each other in the matters of eccentricity, Ludocrats #1 is a comic that’s fairly easy to follow. Its focus is two main characters and a variety of visual and verbal jokes. Instead of relying on boring exposition (This is actually a plot point), Gillen, Rossignol, Stokely, and Bonvillain throw you straight in the middle of the world without a life vest. This is an admirable storytelling point, and Ludocrats #1 is a true party of a comic that you should safely try to acquire when it’s released.

Story: Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol Art: Jeff Stokely 
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Once & Future Vol. 1 SC

Once & Future Vol. 1 SC

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Artist: Dan Mora
Writer:  Kieron Gillen
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Cover Artist: Dan Mora
Price: $16.99

When a group of Nationalists use an ancient artifact to bring a villain from Arthurian myth back from the dead to gain power, ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire escapes her retirement home and pulls her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into a world of magic and mysticism to defeat a legendary threat. 

Bestselling writer Kieron Gillen (Die, The Wicked + The Divine) and Russ Manning Award-winning artist Dan Mora (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Klaus) explore the mysteries of the past, the complicated truths of our history and the power of family to save the day…especially if that family has secret bunkers of ancient weapons and decades of experience hunting the greatest monsters in Britain’s history!

Once & Future Vol. 1 SC

Preview: Once & Future #7

Once & Future #7

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
    Main Cover: Dan Mora
    Unlocked Retailer Variant: Jenny Frison
Price: $3.99

Although Bridgette and Duncan were able to escape the Otherworld, their adventure is only just beginning! As the chaos of Arthur’s return reaches London, an artifact at the British Museum is stolen. But is it Arthur who’s interested in the relic… or someone, or something, new?

Once & Future #7

Your First Look at New Story Arc in Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora’s Once & Future #7

BOOM! Studios has revealed a first look at Once & Future #7, the premiere issue of a new story arc in the critically acclaimed series from New York Times bestselling writer Kieron Gillen, Russ Manning Award-winning artist Dan Mora, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Ed Dukeshire, about retired monster hunter Bridgette McGuire and her unsuspecting grandson Duncan who fight against a rising evil that plans to take over their country to bring it back to its former glory.

Although Bridgette and Duncan were able to escape the Otherworld, their adventure is only just beginning! As the chaos of Arthur’s return reaches London, an artifact at the British Museum is stolen. But is it Arthur who’s interested in the relic… or someone, or something, new?

Once & Future #7 will be available for sale on March 25, 2020.

Once & Future #7

Jamie McKelvie’s Cover for The Ludocrats Revealed

Image Comics has revealed the Ludocrats #1 cover B featuring reality-warping artwork from Jamie McKelvie, which will be available with the series launch this April.

Ludocrats #1 by bestselling writer Kieron Gillen, writer Jim Rossignol, and artist Jeff Stokely with colorist Tamra Bonvillain is a gleefully bizarre five issue, fantasy miniseries that thinks there’s more gold in the hills mined by I Hate Fairyland and they can uncover it with illegally acquired Python-infused explosives.

In short: The Ludocrats! The aristocrats of ludicrous! A collision of the ornate fantasy of Dune and an M-rated Asterix & Obelix! Baron Otto Von Subertan and Professor Hades Zero-K are here, and they’re going to save us all have a nice time.

Ludocrats #1 Cover A by Stokely (Diamond Code FEB200052) and Ludocrats #1 Cover B by McKelvie (Diamond Code JAN208731) will be available at comic book shops on April Fool’s Day—Wednesday, April 1. Not joking.

Ludocrats #1 Cover B by Jamie McKelvie

Review: Marvel’s Voices #1

Marvel's Voices #1

Marvel’s Voices is an Experience, capital E. It’s the first comic I know about that adapts the concept of a podcast into a comics anthology collecting stories from black creators giving their take on the Marvel universe.

The book’s title carries over from the podcast it’s based on, which is hosted by Angélique Roché. The list of creators includes Vita Ayala, Damion Scott, Kyle Baker, Brian Stelfreeze, Roxane Gay, Method Man, Alitha Martínez, among other notable industry names. What’s interesting about the project, though, is that it embraces its multimedia roots by featuring essays from other creators accessible via Marvel’s Voices online page.

Two particular essays grabbed my attention: Regine L. Sawyer’s “Growing Up Marvel” and Karama Horne’s “The Legacy of Isaiah Bradley: The First Black Captain America.” (Disclosure: Karama and Regine have both contributed to our site – ed.)

Sawyer’s essay is about her origin story into comics through a less conventional avenue than most other stories of the kind: X-Men trading cards. I don’t want to spoil the essay because it is a fascinating and well-written story, but it is wonderful to get this look at how comics allow for multiple entry points given it’s an entire cultural package. It made me remember my card collecting days growing up, both the same X-Men cards Sawyer collected and the classic Pepsi Cards I religiously hunted down back when they came out in Puerto Rico. I still have them with me and they also helped me embrace comics.

Horne’s essay is about two comics: Truth and The Crew. Each one stands as some of Marvel’s best comic book offerings. They were subversive and hard-hitting, daring enough to give Marvel a black Captain America (in Truth), complete with an exploration of the tragic treatment black heroes get using real-life black history as the basis for the problems each character faces (which is expanded upon in The Crew).

The essay is a great and concise history of these comics, but it also serves as a lesson on visibility. That Marvel hasn’t reprinted these stories or released newer editions of the paperbacks brings up more questions than it should. I think Horne’s essay makes a strong argument as to why we need these comics back on the stands.

On the comic’s side of Marvel’s Voices, we get a strong if a bit uneven set of short stories that are personal, celebratory, and thoughtful as to why Marvel characters mean so much in the struggle for more diverse voices in the industry. Kyle Baker, for instance, produced a one-pager Ant-Man and Nick Fury story titled “Perspective,” about Fury’s problem with depth perception. It’s a quick hit but the art on display here is impressive enough to make anyone want to see Baker do more Marvel work.

Geoffrey Thorne, Khary Randolph, and Emilio López’s “Top of the Key,” on the other hand, is a one-pager on Mosaic story (a character Marvel has severely underused, in my opinion) that would’ve benefited from an additional page or two. It feels more like a setup for a larger story and we only really just get a taste of it.

Rob Markman, Damion Scott, and Dono Sánchez-Almara’s “What a Wonderful World” stands as one of the most impressive stories in the anthology as it offers a well-rounded look at a Marvel character with outstanding art and a clear message to boot. It centers on a troubled Silver Surfer, comparing Marvel’s biggest villains with humanity’s own villainy when it comes to protecting the environment. No panel was spared, no color was misplaced, and no bit of text hung without intent. Just a really good two-page story.

The best story in the book is without question “Inspiration,” by James Monroe Iglehart, Ray-Anthony Height, and Emilio López. This 4-page tale gives the radioactive spider that gave Peter Parker his powers a much-deserved platform to contemplate his role in the grand scheme of things. The script showcases an interesting play on what a superpowered spider is supposed to be and how much of its natural instincts define its actions. It’s simply unforgettable and truly worthy of getting its own comic book series.

Marvel Voices #1 is the type of book Marvel needs to invest more on. It shows just how important it is to bring in other perspectives into this superhero universe and just how different it can all turn out to be. It speaks to the power of voices hungry for diversity in storytelling. And that, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

Writers: John Jennings, Anthony Piper, Luciano Vecchio, David Betancourt, James Monroe Iglehart, Evan Narcisse, Vita Ayala, Regine L. Sawyer, Brian Stelfreeze, Brandon Montclare, Tatiana King Jones, Karama Horne, Kyle Baker, Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey, Don McGregor, Geoffrey Thorne, Rob Markman, Method Man, Daniel Dominguez, Charlamagne The God, David F. Walker, Chuck Brown
Art: Anthony Piper, Luciano Vecchio, Ray-Anthony Height, Jahnoy Lindsay, Bernard Chang, Brian Stelfreeze, Natacha Bustos, Kyle Baker, Brittney L. Williams, Khary Randolph, Damion Scott, Alitha E. Martinez, JJ Kirby, Sanford Greene
Color: Anthony Piper, Luciano Vecchio, Emilio Lopez, Marcelo Maiolo, Brian Stelfreeze, Tamra Bonvillain, Kyle Baker, Rachelle Rosenberg, Dono Sánchez-Almara, JJ Kirby, Matt Herms
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Writing: 9 Essays: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10
Recommendation: Buy and make sure to bag and board it.

The Frights Continue in The Low, Low Woods #3!

The Low, Low Woods #3

Written by Carmen Maria Machado
Art by Dani
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering by Steve Wands
Cover by Sam Wolfe Connelly
Variant cover by Jenny Frison
In shops February 19, 2020
Final orders due: January 27, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Writer Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other PartiesIn the Dream House) and artist Dani increase the suspense and the horror in issue #3 of The Low, Low Woods, from DC’s Hill House Comics!

Women with antlers like deer. Men in the woods with no skin. Coal mines, eternally burning underground. Just another day in the town of Shudder-To-Think, PA.

El and Octavia find themselves on two separate paths. One leads to somewhere deep within the Earth, and the other leads to a small green trailer on the edge of town. There, the people of Shudder-to-Think, PA say, lives a witch. For a price, she can change you—and even make you forget that which you no longer wish to remember. But what is the price of remembering that which you have lost?

Plus: Chapter Nine of the murderous werewolves at sea shanty, Sea Dogs, by Joe Hill and Dan McDaid!

The Low, Low Woods #3

Exclusive Preview: Hawkeye Freefall #3

Hawkeye Freefall #3

(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Otto Schmidt (L) Joe Sabino (CA) Kim Jacinto & Tamra Bonvillain
Rated T+
In Shops: Feb 12, 2020
SRP: $3.99

• As things around him are getting more dangerous, Clint Barton is being pushed to make some tough, and probably really bad, decisions.
• Meanwhile the mysterious new Ronin is waging war against The Hood and Hawkeye is caught in the middle of it.
• The Web of lies our Friendly Neighborhood archer finds himself caught in will have Spectacular ramifications when he is confronted by our Amazing secret guest star…
• (It’s Spider-Man. Shhh.)

Hawkeye Freefall #3

Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol, Jeff Stokely, and Tamra Bonvillain Introduce the Ludocrats this April

Bestselling writer Kieron Gillen will team up with writer Jim Rossignol, and artist Jeff Stokely with colorist Tamra Bonvillain for Ludocrats. This five-issue, gonzo-weird fantasy miniseries will launch from Image Comics on April Fools’ Day.

In short: The Ludocrats! The aristocrats of ludicrous! A collision of the ornate fantasy of Dune and an M-rated Asterix & Obelix! Baron Otto Von Subertan and Professor Hades Zero-K are here, and they’re going save us all have a nice time.

Ludocrats #1 (Diamond Code FEB200052) will be available at comic book shops on April Fool’s Day—Wednesday, April 1. Not joking.

Ludocrats #1
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