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Retro Friday Review: Spawn #1

spawn-1While a strange assailant stalks the city, ripping out human hearts, another otherwordly being arrives. As his mind reels, our tortured hero remembers that he struck a deal with the devil in order to return to his beloved wife – five years after his death.

May 1992, almost 25 years ago, saw the release of the upstart comic publisher Image Comics‘ second series Spawn by Todd McFarlane. With lettering by Tom Orzechowski and colors by Steve Oliff, the first issue was the launch of one of comics’ currently longest running series (and really one of the longest, period). In honor of Image’s 25th, I thought it’d be fun to explore the first issue again as part of our “Retro Friday” to see how the comic holds up after all this time.

I remember enjoying the series, one of the first “edgy” heroes I was introduced to at the time. Seeing Spawn then, and now, it’s hard to miss how different the character and series was from what else was being published.

With McFarlane’s signature art, which still holds up all these years later, the first issue is a choppy start jumping between two detectives figuring out a string of murders and our “hero” who himself is figuring out what happened to him.

There’s some interesting things I didn’t notice when I first read the series and reading it now. Being 13 years old when it was first introduced, the fact Al Simmons was African-American wasn’t as apparent then as it is now. McFarlane doesn’t make it 100% clear, but on this re-read, it’s a bit clearer. There’s also a solid use of time which I remember standing out during my first read. The issue has two news reports and through subtle changes between the two we can tell time has passed. 25 years later, that still stands out and what I really remember of the comic.

As I said, the story itself is a bit choppy but pretty easy to understand. McFarlane’s art is what really stands out and some of that choppy sense is due to choices that enhances the horror of what’s going for Simmons as he begins to remember his life.

The colors by Oliff and lettering by Orzechowski stand out as well. They each enhance the issue, especially the lettering which really gives a “voice” to Spawn. Through the lettering you can “hear” the gravely voice.

The first issue isn’t perfect by a long shot, but it holds up surprisingly well in both the art and story itself. My gut says, out of all of the initial Image releases from 1992, this one might hold up the best and it’s longevity is an indication of that.

Story and Art: Todd McFarlane Lettering: Tom Orzechowski Colors: Steve Oliff
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.45 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy

Exclusive: Read Liftoff Takedown from the Bizarre New World Kickstarter

Today we have an exclusive story from the Bizarre New World Kickstarter running now. Bizarre New World started production on October 10, 2005 and was originally released by Ape Entertainment as a critically acclaimed 3 issue mini-series in 2007, followed by a mini-graphic novel sequel in 2008. These books totaled 140 pages. Work on the rest of the tale and short stories never stopped and was completely finished on February 5, 2015. The final project clocks in at 503 pages. That’s the 278 page graphic novel and a 225 page short story anthology.

Now Skipper Martin is partnering up with fellow Ape Entertainment creator Troy Dyeto to release their books through their new publishing imprint called Fractured Entertainment.

The anthology features a massive amount of creators, the full list you can find below. But we have an exclusive short story, a prime example of what you’re going to find in the anthology. Liftoff Takedown is written by Wilfredo S. Duran, with pencils by Dexter Wee, colors by Michael Spicer, lettering by Bernie Lee and edited by Skipper Martin.

Credits for the main book include:
Writer/Creator: Skipper Martin
Line Artists: Christopher Provencher and Adam Huntley
Colors: Wes Dzuioba
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski and Ed Dukeshire

Credits for the anthology:
Writers: Corinna Bechko, Neal Bailey, Mike Blaylock, Dino Caruso, Joey Cruz, Wilfredo Duran, Troy Dye, Ellen Everett, Micah Farritor, Dan Hill, Dan Adams-Jacobson, Skipper Martin, Nick Miceli, Raphael Moran, Chuck Moore, Maxwell Patterson, Tone Rodriguez, Michael San Giacomo, Michael Woods, Greg Thelen
Line Artists: Cale Ajioka, Atul Bakashi, Daniel Panero Bertucci, Tielman Cheaney, Danielle Ellison, Micah Farritor, David Hedmark, Adam Huntley, Roberta Ingranata, Allan Jefferson, Rick Leonardi, Megan Levens, Brent McKee, Tradd Moore, Mado Peña, Chris Provencher, Bob Rivard, Tone Rodriguez, V Shane, Connor Willumsen, Dexter Wee
Colors: Wes Dzioba, Ellen Everett, Teodoro Gonzalez, Simon Gough, Kyle Latino, Mado Peña, Michael Spicer, Eddy Swan, Julie A. Wright
Lettering: Ed Brisson, Ed Dukeshire, Bernie Lee, Tom Orzechowski

Aces Weekly Volume 5 Begins Now

The latest volume of Aces Weekly has launched. The fifth volume features even more great strips from great creators. This volume includes:

  • Slash Moron – Slash Moron, and company, embark on a perilous journey to a strange, new world discovered by Professor Essor… Pencils by Jim Hansen Colours by John Burns Script/inks/letters by Bambos.
  • The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse – Looking for a little class in a world shot to hell? ACES WEEKLY has the great pleasure of formally introducing you to The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse by Mister Batton Lash.
  • Cowboys & Insects – The creators of the astonishing Bulletproof Coffin join ACES WEEKLY with a deeply odd new strip… Prepare yourself for the unmistakeable writing of David Hine and the eyeball-searing artwork of Shaky Kane. You like cowboys? You like insects? You’re gonna LOVE Cowboys & Insects!
  • Fawkes – London, 1952. There’s a real pea-souper outside and aliens are destroying Blighty’s freighters. James Fawkes has a lot on his plate defending the earth – but he’s no longer working alone. Welcome to The Air Ministry: Special Operations, Miss Devlin. Script by Martin Cater, art by Paul McCaffrey.
  • Run – Welcome aboard, Dan Christensen creator of ‘Red Hands’, ‘Duels’ and ‘4th Avenue’ with a tense new adventure story. There’s not a word spoken in this first chapter, but you’ll feel compelled to… Run!
  • Blue Cat – Cindy Sparks and her ghost cat, last seen in ACES WEEKLY Volume 2, are back – and things are about to get seriously weird! Script: James Hudnall Art: Val Mayerik Letters: Tom Orzechowski.

Each volume runs 7 issues and runs just $9.99 for the volume. That’s a hell of a deal for some great work by some of the best creators out there today! You can order the latest volume now.

Aces Weekly News_page1_image1

Dark Horse Comics Eisner Nominees Announced!

April 5, MILWAUKIE, OR–Comic-Con International has announced the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2012!

Dark Horse Comics has 11 nominations, including two each for the anthology Dark Horse Presents, Jeff Jensen’s Green River Killer, and Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo.

The nominees, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, reflect the wide range of material being published in comics and graphic novel form today, from nursery rhymes and World War II battles to high school angst and pulp fiction.

Named for acclaimed comics creator Will Eisner, the awards are in their twenty-fourth year of highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels.



Best Short Story

“The Speaker,” by Brandon Graham, in Dark Horse Presents #7


Best Continuing Series

Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai


Best Anthology

Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson


Best Humor Publication

The Art of Doug Sneyd: A Collection of Playboy Cartoons

Chimichanga, by Eric Powell

Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, by Evan Dorkin


Best Reality-Based Work

Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case


Best U.S. Edition of International Material

The Manara Library, vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt


Best Writer

Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story


Best Lettering

Tom Orzechowski, Manara Library, with L. Lois Buhalis

Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo


Ballots with this year’s nominees will be going out in mid-April to comics creators, editors, publishers, and retailers. A downloadable PDF of the ballot is available online, and a special website has been set up for online voting: www.eisnervote.com. The results in all categories will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 13, at Comic-Con International.

About Dark Horse Comics

Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator-friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists.  In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Gerard Way, Will Eisner, and best-selling prose author Janet Evanovich, Dark Horse has developed such successful characters as the Mask, Timecop, and the Occultist. Additionally, its highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan the BarbarianMass Effect, Serenity, and Domo. Today, Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent comic-book publisher in the United States and is recognized as both an innovator in the cause of creator rights and the comics industry’s leading publisher of licensed material.

Review – The Adventures of Unemployed Man

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The Adventures of Unemployed ManThe Adventures of Unemployed Man is fun, funny and educational taking shots at today’s economic collapse and the issues people deal with day to day.  It intelligently explains and teaches economic issues and satirizes the current economic and political state.  This is humor as smart and biting as anything you’d find on The Daily Show or Colbert Report.

MAIN STREET, USA-Against incredible odds, jobless crusader UNEMPLOYED MAN and his sidekick PLAN B embark on a heroic search for work-and quickly find themselves waging an epic battle against The Just Us League, a dastardly group of supervillains including THE HUMAN RESOURCE, TOXIC DEBT BLOB, PINK SLIP and THE INVISIBLE HAND.

Experience this action-packed story in THE ADVENTURES OF UNEMPLOYED MAN-a fearless, brilliant, and provocative book that ASTOUNDS with incisive wit and AMAZES with stunning insights into the desperate situation so many heroes find themselves in today.

A new supergroup of down-but-not-out heroes has emerged from the economic crisis, including perpetual grad student MASTER OF DEGREES, fix-it-with-tape DUCTO, pain-shrinking therapist GOOD GRIEF, checkbook unbalancer ZILCH, shadow worker FANTASMA, and WONDER MOTHER, who built her invisible jet from pieces of the glass ceiling.

These heroes have enlisted the help of Erich Origen and Gan Golan, the dynamic duo behind the New York Times bestseller GOODNIGHT BUSH. Together they tell the story of our intrepid heroes’ climactic clash with the self-interested villains who dwell in the Hall of Just Us, devising sinister plots that threaten the entire world.

This richly illustrated book is a parody of classic superhero comics from the Golden Age to the present day-and a brilliant dissection of our current economic meltdown. It features dazzling artwork by such comics legends as Ramona Fradon, Rick Veitch, Michael Netzer, Terry Beatty, Josef Rubenstein, Benton Jew, Thomas Yeates, Shawn Martinbrough, Clem Robins, Tom Orzechowski, Thomas Mauer and Lee Loughridge.

Written by Erich Origen and Gan Golan with numerous artists, the story follows the fall and rise of Ultimatum and his eventual alter ego The Unemployed Man.  The story is brilliant with perfect jabs at the various forces that exist and affect today’s economy.  The best of all, it provides political commentary without shoving it all down your throat.

There’s some minor issues in the graphic novel doesn’t go too deep into some of those economic forces to really explain what they are (Glass Steagall being the one that really sticks out), but this should be enough to get folks to want to find out what they are themselves.

This is perfect satire that’s aimed at folks who let the rich get richer and don’t do anything about it.  There’s educational materials that make you think, all wrapped up in entertainment.

I wish all of politics was this much fun.  This should be required reading for everyone to open their eyes and get them to really think about what’s happened the last 30 years to get us where we are.

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