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Wednesday Comic Rally: Mayday #3

mayday-3It feels like all too often we’re lamenting how our favorite comic series got canceled due to lack of sales and interest. That’s where Wednesday Comic Rally comes in. The point is to spotlight comics that we as a community should be rallying around and most importantly purchasing to make sure they’re here for quite some time.


Three issues in, it’s not too late to check out Mayday by writer Alex De Campi and artist Tony Parker.

A Cold War action-thriller like no other. It’s 1971, and two young Soviet operatives are sent to California to kill a defector and recover top-secret information. As the mission falls apart into a mess of good sex, bad drugs, and ugly violence, the young Russians are faced with a dilemma: they need to rely on each other to escape America, but they must betray each other to survive Russia.

Mayday isn’t just a slick Cold War comics, it’s also a period piece in a time that you just don’t see too many modern comics set. That creates a unique experience that’s currently like no other monthly comic on the market. Parker’s art is fantastic as well giving us at times trippy visuals that nail the vibe and feel of the time period.

It’s a combination that comes together for a fun time and entertaining read that you won’t find anywhere else.


This is where you come in. You can buy Mayday #3 now! It’s available at local comic shops and you can find yours. For those without a local shop you can buy it digitally through comiXology, Kindle, or physical copy at Things From Another World.

Have a comic you think we should be rallying around? Send us a message and maybe it’ll be featured in an upcoming post.

 

 

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Review: Mayday #1 and #2

mayday_01-1Blistering action grounded in a historical setting that’s under explored in comics and suddenly feels more timely than ever: the Cold War geopolitics of 1971.

The new Mayday series from writer/letterer/DJ Alex de Campi and artist/visual drug dealer Tony Parker is an exciting and original comic set in the Cold War conflict centered between the US and USSR. Its themes are on the tip of everyone’s tongue once again.

De Campi has described the series as being her “anti-James Bond”, a comic that asks readers how we feel about our spy protagonist when he’s Soviet, not British, when he wears a dingey T-shirt and isn’t a Ken-doll movie star. This is a question that goes largely unanswered in popular espionage stories. How often do we even see Russian protagonists?

De Campi is a serious researcher, a student of the era’s history, the Eastern Bloc and a world traveler herself. This is the experience she brings to this series along with her trademarked levels of earned, intelligent brutality and dark humor.

Between her sharp writing and Tony Parker’s art, Mayday’s pacing is meticulous and riveting no matter how many or how few words are in the frame. You can hear the phone off the hook when they want you to and smell the gasoline.

Parker knows his way around an action sequence. His work is detailed, with realistic anatomy and naturalistic compositions. His style reminds me of the British artists on the legendary 2000AD comics, like Judge Dredd era Brian Bolland. His characters’ faces are individualized, realistically lined and creased and always in motion.

And when the story doesn’t call for realism at all because someone is having an acid-fuelled freak-out?

Well, I’m a lifelong connoisseur of psychedelic art (Yellow Submarine is a perfectly appropriate movie for all ages, I’ll have you know) and I’m a pretty tough critic to please when it comes to contemporary comics artists trying their hand at psychedelia. So many attempts these days go for computer derived effects over aesthetics. I.e. lots of new psychedelic art just isn’t very attractive– compare the new Dr. Strange black light posters to the classic 70s ones with art by Gene Colan, Steve Ditko and Tom Palmer? Realism and computers aren’t necessarily your friends.mayday-2

But Parker’s detailed and highly animated style looks fantastic when he sets it wild while drawing the comic’s key psychedelic sequences. It’s a skill he also used to great effect when drawing his recent This Damned Band series with writer Paul Cornell. Bodies are distorted, polarities reversed, color and lines swirl into a vortex and Blond’s colors really get a chance to pulse with psychedelic energy.

Parker has also clearly been looking at the right concert posters and album art as reference points. Organic forms derived from Art Nouveau (beloved by hippie era artists) smack up against Soviet Constructivist geometric motifs in a major splash page for the ages.

Mayday uses visual representations of music as a form of heightened reality, not just in the acid freakout but in multiple scenes. Careful letters work the song names into the page. The result is hearing and seeing the song on the page in everything from the far-out lettering to the backgrounds.

The series also uses music as a play-along soundtrack (get it on Spotify!) that cements the story in time. This is not an idealized look back at the music that was popular in 1971 filtered through the eyes of a modern critic who knows what’s “good,” only playing classics that stand the test of time. Where’s the realism in that?! De Campi’s playlists feature the popular music of the period that’s aged poorly too. Because they can’t all be Alice Cooper classics, can they?…. To quote issue 1’s back matter “Kieron Gillen includes music because he loves you, I include music because fuck you”.

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Often when art is set in a specific historic era the artist will depend on visual signifiers of the times that call attention to themselves like they were just placed there to tell you the year, yet the clothes and settings will be all wrong– they just haven’t done their homework. You can’t draw a lava lamp and call it a day. The historical setting here feels lived in and researched. This creative team has done that research right down to the clothes the architecture and especially the Kremlin.

There are other details of importance on the pages, like the acknowledgment of brutality directed at bystanders. These often overlooked moments are important to the humanity of the story– like a child standing off-center in the middle of a road after a trucking accident. His or her parent’s dismissed by the CIA agents as “Mexicans” and not worth mentioning. The child is just left there alone on the road as the action passes by.

Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Mayday #1

mayday01_coveraThe mere existence of spies has always captured the public’s imagination. As these people who hide in the shadows do the things, that they believe are for “the greater good”. From shows like Mission Impossible to Man from UNCLE, the spy has always been glamorized as a smooth operator, who always wear a sharp suit and always a lady’s man. I would be remiss, without mentioning what the British brings to the genre, with the iconic James Bond and the long forgotten Carpetbaggers.

With the public’s growing skepticism of movie magic, both TV shows and movies started to scale back on what kept the genre both unbelievable and magical. As the standard of realism started to pervade everything that is entertainment, what would be considered entertainment in the spy genre, became a cross between hardboiled detective and analytical spies. This brought on thinking man heroes like Jack Ryan and Piper Perabo ’s character in Covert Affairs. Then FX, brought some nostalgia and good ole spy craft to the game, with The Americans, combining what everyone loves about the spy genre with some realism sprinkled as they dealt with day to day family issues and the general stress from living dual lives.

This world is recaptured in Alex De Campi’s latest effort at Image, Mayday, it is 1971, and the Cold War, has America and Russia, on edge, wondering what will be the next move of their adversaries, which may very well include sending sleeper agents. We are introduced to Felix and Rose, a deadly duo who have more than assimilated to American life, much like the main characters in The Americans. Their mission is to kill a defector, who was cooperating with the CIA, but a pair of CIA agents are hot on their trail. This is where their youthful indiscretions intrude, they find a group of hippies which get them off track and it seems it will be a matter of time before they are caught.

Overall, a strong effort by the creative team, and I can reveal that a key scene has some influences from both Gaiman and Morrison. The story from De Campi, packs a punch and makes you laugh at the same time, which shows how talented a writer Alex is. The art by Tony Parker and Blond, is striking and lucid, which definitely serves a story that takes place in the 70s. Altogether, a fresh take on a spy caper that will keep the reader yearning for more.

Story: Alex De Campi Art: Tony Parker and Blond
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mayday Flies Into Action this November

Writer Alex de Campi teams up with artist Tony Parker and colorist Blond for the Cold War thriller Mayday, an all-new series launching this November from Image Comics.

It’s 1971, and two young Soviet operatives are sent to California to kill a defector and recover top-secret information. As the mission dissolves into a mess of good sex, bad drugs, and ugly violence, the young Russians face a new problem: they’ll need to rely on each other to escape America, but to survive Russia they’ll have to betray each other.

Mayday is a Cold-War action-thriller unlike any other. Get ready.

Mayday #1 Cover A by Tony Parker (Diamond code: SEP160631), as well as Cover B, also by Tony Parker (Diamond code: SEP160632), will hit comic book stores Wednesday, November 2nd.

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Review: This Damned Band TPB

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The biggest rock band in the world thought they were only pretending to worship Satan. As they record the documentary of what might be their final world tour, they discover the horrifying truth.

From Paul Cornell and Tony Parker comes a darkly hilarious adventure of black magic and classic rock! Collects This Damned Band #1–#6.

Twists, occult sacrifice, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. This Damned Band TPB in some ways could be considered a tribute to some classic rock bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and a few others. Paul Cornell has managed to capture of the spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll, in this book… with a supernatural trippy twist.

Even the artist has managed to bring about this concert flyer feeling to each cover. The same could be said of the artwork inside. Especially some of the more psychedelic inspired artwork, which is amazing and captures the vibe of the music that inspired this series.

Definitely one for the rock music fans.

Story: Paul Cornell Art: Tony Parker
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Omnibus TP

DADOES_Omnibus_coverBlade Runner was one of those movies that one has to watch multiple times, to make a proper opinion of it, as everyone I know looks at this work in so many different ways since their first viewing. Just like any movie, you pick up on certain things you never noticed the first time, plus you actually beign to see certain things that other people have pointed out. Personally, I did not like the movie the first time around, I remember being 8 years old, and not getting what the story was about or why Harrison Ford’s character is chasing people around the city. It was not until I was 15 that picked up the source material, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which blew my mind.

Philip K Dick’s story was miles away from what the movie was in my memory; I cannot even say it captured the essence of the book, as it pretty much was a departure from what the story was altogether. So when the Director’s Cut of Blade Runner came out a few years ago, I finally understood why they never fully realized the original vision, with all the behind the scenes turmoil and the pressures from the studio. As the Director’s cut, prove more faithful, but not so much that it changed my opinion of the movie, which is why I crave for a better adaptation. BOOM! Studios answered that call, with their adaptation a few years ago.

BOOM! recently released an omnibus version of the series, in all of its glory, and collecting all 24 issues of the original entire run of the comic. Unlike most adaptations, this one has got to be the most faithful to the original book than I would have ever imagined, and from reading all those years ago, it still remains intriguing and cerebral in the right marks, much like the book. This adaptation reminds me exactly why I liked Rick Deckard in the book, because he comes off so much like John Wayne’s character in the Searchers, a well worn warrior, who just has one more mission to go on, while searching for these replicants(androids), he actually searches for himself. By story’s end, the reader finds resolve at the same Deckard does, but not without going through change.

Overall, an excellent adaptation, it captures the book in its best lights, as it soars in faithful adaptation where the Watchmen movie, often suffocated. Philip K Dick’s story still stands strong, many years later from its conception, as from the many recollections about his writing process especially on this book, he wrote like a man possessed. The art by Tony Parker and Blond, is a beautiful mixture of 80s comic book art and new school vision. Altogether, a solid book, at 642 pages, for any fan of Philip K Dick, considering one of his other books which has been adapted, is now streaming on Amazon Prime, he is at his best with this book.

Story: Philip K Dick Art: Tony Parker and Blond
Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy NOW

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Omnibus TP

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Omnibus TP

Writer: Philip K. Dick
Artist: Tony Parker

San Francisco lies under a cloud of radioactive dust. The World War has killed millions, driving entire species to extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies build incredibly realistic fakes: horses, birds, cats, sheep…even humans. Rick Deckard is an officially sanctioned bounty hunter tasked to find six rogue androids. They’re machines, but look, sound, and think like humans—and infinitely more dangerous.

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Review: This Damned Band #2 (of 6)

tdb2Perhaps the best way to describe this series would be to liken it to a comic version of  This is Spinal Tap. The band Motherfather is starting to wonder if maybe the whole “pretending to worship Satan” thing wasn’t such a good idea, especially after it turns out that there may have been more truth than they realized behind the pretense.

Mixing classic rock with black magic, Paul Cornell captures the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle as they have been romanticized them with hindsight, and tales from the autobiographies and interviews given by those rock stars who survived through that time period. The way in which this story has been told thus far is reminiscent of the fly on the wall style of filming that filmmaker’s use when following musicians around, and it continues to work to great effect here again.

Tony Parker has drawn the panels in such a way that when combined with how Paul Cornell is telling the story it puts the reader into the comic; not as a reader who is really enjoying the story, but as a participant within the story itself. Several scenes take place with characters either just entering the frame beginning a conversation, or being halfway through the discussion until the notice you standing there and stop talking. Whether that’s because the fictional reader is holding a camera or microphone, Tony Parker has drawn a couple of scenes from our perspective. Doing this allows Paul Cornell to have the characters voice their thoughts about what has been happening so far into the series by having them talk to the camera; without talking to themselves, as it may seem at first, they’re actually talking directly to you, the character, and not you the reader. It’s a fantastic device that works very well without breaking the fourth wall.

As a stand alone comic, you could read and enjoy This Damned Band #2, but when read as it is intended to be – the second part in a six issue series – the comic really shines, and that’s what the scores below are based on. Yes, you can still enjoy this issue by itself, but if you can track down the first issue, then do so; this is a refreshing take on the excesses of rock music that continues to be an absolute delight to read.

Story: Paul Cornell  Art: Tony Parker
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9
Recommendation:  Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review

Review: This Damned Band #1

This Damned Band #11974: the world’s most famous rock band thought they were “worshiping Satan,” only to find they were actually . . . worshiping Satan.

From Paul Cornell and Tony Parker comes a darkly hilarious adventure of black magic and classic rock! This Damned Band is a hilarious documentary-style thrill ride of black magic and rock music!

Rock ‘n’ roll, has always seemed to have a slight bond to mysticism and the occult. That may have been added in the flower power movement of the 60’s. This books plays on that idea, using the big rock bands of the 70’s. You can see that some of that bands members appearances were based real people. Especially the lead singer. He looks a lot like old pictures of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. Even their drummer looks a little bit like John Bonham.

If the story was set anywhere else, I find it doubtful it would work. The are blends wonderfully with the slight psychedelic elements of the story. In contrast there is a realism that exists outside in heavy contrast to the world. Basically it is what rock ‘n’ roll is stereotyped to be about. Music, sex, and drugs.

I would recommend this for people who are fans of quasi-realism. Mixing that with a humorous Spinal Tap documentary style for music, makes this amusing as well intelligently written.

Story: Paul Cornell Art:Tony Parker Cover Art:Tony Parker and Lovern Kindzierski
Story: 8.5 Art:9.0 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Read

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: This Damned Band #1 (of 6)

thisdamnedbandBilled as Spinal Tap meets Ghostbusters, and set in 1974 This Damned Band #1 is the opening act of a miniseries written by Paul Cornell (Wolverine, Action Comics) with art by Tony Parker (Mass Effect: Foundation) that promises to tell the story of the rock band Motherfather who thought they were “worshiping Satan,” only to find out they were actually worshiping Satan.

Although I’m usually a superhero kind of guy, This Damn Band is comic is appeals to me on more levels than I realized it would, but in the interests of remaining as spoiler free as possible, all I will say is that I loved this comic, and I’ll be picking up a copy when it’s released on August 5th.

The story is told in a style that evokes This Is Spinal Tap, and if the first issue is anything to go by, then the entire This Damned Band mini series promises to be an awesome ride, and a ride that will be well worth the cover price. The first issue reads like an excellent parody of the worst excesses of the rock n roll lifestyle portrayed in almost every movie about rock ‘n roll since the 80’s, and Paul Cornell is ever so coy about having the band let us in on the joke.

This Damned Band really is a fun comic.

The fly on the wall documentary style with which Paul Cornell tells the story meshes so perfectly with Tony Parker‘s art work to really draw you into the comic’s story. By utilizing the documentary style for its story telling the comic almost has you as an active participant in the story, even witnessing events that you later tell other band members about off panel, which is an inspired touch.

The first issue of This Damn Band is a must read not only for fans of Paul Cornell’s writing, or fans of rock music, or comic books, but also for anybody who wants to experience comic book story telling in what promises to be a unique and interesting way.

Add This Damn Band to your pull list today. It’s well worth it.

Writer: Paul Cornell  Art: Tony Parker
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.5  Overall: 9.0 Recommendation:  Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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