Tag Archives: vanessa del rey

NYCC 2018: Humanoids Announces H1 – A New Shared Universe

Humanoids is launching a major initiative in 2019 to publish original comic book stories written and illustrated by some of the biggest names in comics. During the Humanoids 20th Anniversary In America panel at New York Comic Con, the publisher unveiled H1, an imprint of comic books, featuring a shared superpowered universe with all new characters and stories created by a dizzying lineup of comic book creators. Humanoids’ new Chief Creative Officer John Cassaday and Humanoids’ new Director of Creative Development Mark Waid are closely collaborating with a core team of H1 architects: Kwanza Osajyefo (Black, Black AF), Yanick Paquette (Wonder Woman Earth One) and Carla Speed McNeil (Finder, Sensation Comics) to create an ambitious storytelling experience with creators including Phil Briones, Vanessa Del Rey, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Mike McKone and Afua Richardson.

Humanoids will launch H1 in Summer 2019 with 3 ongoing series, with details and creative teams being announced next year.

IGNITED

Something strange is happening to the planet… Nature itself is reshaping and redefining the balance of power. Natural disasters are breaking out everywhere, and yet, the population continues to grow rapidly. In fact, the world is becoming so dense, that certain individuals are erupting with super abilities. They are called the Ignited.

OMNI

A gifted doctor with a vibrant, compassionate personality, Cecelia Cobbina received boundless praise from her peers and her patients. But that was before the incident in Africa. Before she gained the ability to think faster than the speed of light. Overwhelmed with the power to answer every question, she must now overcome her own fears and tackle the one code she can’t seem to break: the truth behind the Ignited.

STRANGELANDS

Opposites attract? Elakshi and Adam Land aren’t married. In fact, a month ago, they were perfect strangers, dwelling in lands foreign to one another. But now, they’re forced to remain by one another’s side, for their separation could mean the planet’s demise. Now, their greatest challenge is to stay together — even if they have to tear the world apart.

In addition to H1, Humanoids will feature all new mini series featuring self-contained original stories featuring some of the biggest and most exciting names in comics, including Dennis Calero, Jock, Shawn Martinbrough, Helen Mullane, Andrea Mutti, Quinton Peeples, Dom Reardon, and Darick Roberston.

THE ORIGINAL MINI-SERIES

THE BIG COUNTRY (5 issue mini-series)

The Old West finally died in the early 1980s. We’re in Texas. And this is the story of Grissom Callahan, the last in a long line of sheriffs. Callahan has learned everything he knows from his father and his grandfather. But the old ways don’t seem to prove efficient when it comes to stopping a violent serial killer. And in a simple moment of shaking down an informant, Grissom will start a chain of events that will reshape his life and the world of law enforcement in Texas.

MEYER (5 issue mini-series)

A comedic, coming-of-age quest where the Golden Fleece is a man’s legacy, Meyer is an immigrant’s story rooted in an old mobster’s tale and a deeply moral fable. A Breaking Bad style imaginary biography of Jewish legendary mobster Meyer Lansky as he’s trying to organize his very last con job.

NICNEVIN AND THE BLOODY QUEEN (4 issue mini-series)

Something strange has been unleashed in the North of England. A modern-day druid commits a series of ghastly murders in an attempt to unleash the awesome power of the ancient gods of Great Britain. But all hell really breaks loose when his latest would-be victim, Nicnevin “Nissy” Oswald, turns out to be more than she seems. A British tale mixing black magic and horror godfathered by Jock, one of the new masters of comic book suspense!

Review: Hungry Ghosts #1

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (The 100 Candles) is a Japanese storytelling game. During the Edo period samurai warriors would occasionally gather for a feast and afterwards they would tell stories of the various ghosts, demons and spirits that inhabit the supernatural landscape of Japan. After each tale the samurai would enter an adjoining room lit by a hundred candles. He would blow one out and stare into a mirror to verify that he had not been possessed before returning to the company of his fellows for another round. As the room grew darker so did the stories. Few of these games, if any, reached completion. Even samurai weren’t that brave.

A modern version of kaidan forms the backbone of Hungry Ghosts, the latest comic by world class chef and world travelling journalist Anthony Bourdain. It’s also the first offering from Berger Books, the new Dark Horse imprint headed by Karen Berger. You may remember her as the visionary editor who oversaw the creation of Vertigo and helped to make some of the best comics ever created (including Neil Gaiman’s Sandman) even better.

Here samurai are replaced by chefs and their stories, derived from Japanese originals, all involve food in some way. The framing device, in which they are gathered under the auspices of a mysterious Russian billionaire, lends weight and a sense of continuity to what would otherwise be simple nightmare-like visions of greed, lust and gluttony: disturbing as they are experienced but apt to vanish like bad dreams when confronted by sunshine.

I won’t discuss the stories themselves as it’s impossible to do so without spoiling them. Needless to say both of the two tales contained in this first issue recall both the Japanese tradition to which they belong and such legendary pre-code horror anthologies as Tales From the Crypt. In any project with more than one writer it’s hard for a reviewer to assess who did what. It is Bourdain’s tastes and concerns that inform the stories culinary focus and the strong threads of social justice that run throughout but, if I understand the back matter correctly, much of the credit for the heavy lifting of transforming his ideas into a viable script for comics is due to co-writer Joel Rose, who also collaborated with Bourdain on his previous graphic novel Get Jiro. Between their combined efforts the legends of Japan are transfigured to reflect the individual cultures of the storytellers themselves (the crew of chefs include French, Hispanic and American cooks as well as Japanese) and the universality of human terror. Of course this opens the book up to charges of cultural appropriation and that’s a fair criticism for anyone who cares to make it. It never felt to me like a crass attempt to exploit Asian traditions by pasting a white mask over a Japanese face solely for the purpose of mass commercial appeal. Your mileage may vary.

As in any good anthology multiple artists are represented. The cover, which you can see at the top of this page, is a stunning and unnerving piece by the masterful Paul Pope. Pope’s work is hit or miss for me but this is certainly one of his better efforts. Alberto Ponticelli and Vanessa Del Rey illustrate the stories themselves, with Ponticelli doing double duty by drawing the framing story as well. Both are a good fit for the material.

Ponticelli has really improved since I first encountered his stuff on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. His lines seem to be finer and more confident here and there is so much detail packed into the opening splash page of a demon’s boudoir that I will be returning to it many times to explore all the nooks and crannies for hidden treasures. He’s more suited to flat out horror than he is to horror tinged superheroics and I hope he continues to find a work in this vein.

Vanessa Del Rey is a name with which I’m not familiar but she too does an excellent job. Her style reminds me a lot of Becky Cloonan’s, capable of shifting from the voluptuous to the disturbing with surprising ease. It’s similar enough to Ponticelli’s to not be jarring in the transition between the two but different enough that you would never mistake the one for the other.

Sound is a crucial feature in any horror story and one that is hard to approximate in a silent medium like comics. Letterer Sal Cipriano does a great job of jumping this particular hurdle. His captions and balloons are serviceable throughout the first twelve pages, conveying their point without distracting from the art or calling attention to themselves. It’s not until the sound effects begin on page thirteen that he really gets to strut his stuff, varying the size and shape of the same five letters again and again while adding the occasional flourish to illustrate the increasing desperation of the protagonist as something terrible gets closer and closer. The colors by Jose Villaruba (another returning member of Bourdain’s Get Jiro team) tie everything together, painting all the scenes in the same shades and providing a sense of unity that they might otherwise lack.

Hungry Ghosts is  a really fine comic but its not for everyone. As I mentioned above, many readers may take exception to American creators dipping so heavily into the well of Japanese culture. There is also a strong element of sexual violence in the second story that may be distasteful or distressful to some readers. Beyond these concerns the stories themselves are part of an ancient oral tradition that has been translated into the much younger form of comics. While its handled well there are many things that we’ve come to expect in a traditional thirty page comic that are missing from this one. There’s little in the way of character development and the plots are simple constructs that exist to set up a gruesome twist that’s not really a surprise on the final page.

If you’re looking for the kind of rich, character driven horror delivered by books like Hellblazer or Swamp Thing, look elsewhere. If you want a comic that approximates sitting around the campfire on a dark summer night with a bag of marshmallows and a few good friends, trying to scare each other stupid, then I recommend giving Hungry Ghosts a taste.

Story: Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose Art: Alberto Ponticelli & Vanessa Del Rey
Cover Art: Paul Pope
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

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

Advance Review: Hungry Ghosts #1

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (The 100 Candles) is a Japanese storytelling game. During the Edo period samurai warriors would occasionally gather for a feast and afterwards they would tell stories of the various ghosts, demons and spirits that inhabit the supernatural landscape of Japan. After each tale the samurai would enter an adjoining room lit by a hundred candles. He would blow one out and stare into a mirror to verify that he had not been possessed before returning to the company of his fellows for another round. As the room grew darker so did the stories. Few of these games, if any, reached completion. Even samurai weren’t that brave.

A modern version of kaidan forms the backbone of Hungry Ghosts, the latest comic by world class chef and world travelling journalist Anthony Bourdain. It’s also the first offering from Berger Books, the new Dark Horse imprint headed by Karen Berger. You may remember her as the visionary editor who oversaw the creation of Vertigo and helped to make some of the best comics ever created (including Neil Gaiman’s Sandman) even better.

Here samurai are replaced by chefs and their stories, derived from Japanese originals, all involve food in some way. The framing device, in which they are gathered under the auspices of a mysterious Russian billionaire, lends weight and a sense of continuity to what would otherwise be simple nightmare-like visions of greed, lust and gluttony: disturbing as they are experienced but apt to vanish like bad dreams when confronted by sunshine.

I won’t discuss the stories themselves as it’s impossible to do so without spoiling them. Needless to say both of the two tales contained in this first issue recall both the Japanese tradition to which they belong and such legendary pre-code horror anthologies as Tales From the Crypt. In any project with more than one writer it’s hard for a reviewer to assess who did what. It is Bourdain’s tastes and concerns that inform the stories culinary focus and the strong threads of social justice that run throughout but, if I understand the back matter correctly, much of the credit for the heavy lifting of transforming his ideas into a viable script for comics is due to co-writer Joel Rose, who also collaborated with Bourdain on his previous graphic novel Get Jiro. Between their combined efforts the legends of Japan are transfigured to reflect the individual cultures of the storytellers themselves (the crew of chefs include French, Hispanic and American cooks as well as Japanese) and the universality of human terror. Of course this opens the book up to charges of cultural appropriation and that’s a fair criticism for anyone who cares to make it. It never felt to me like a crass attempt to exploit Asian traditions by pasting a white mask over a Japanese face solely for the purpose of mass commercial appeal. Your mileage may vary.

As in any good anthology multiple artists are represented. The cover, which you can see at the top of this page, is a stunning and unnerving piece by the masterful Paul Pope. Pope’s work is hit or miss for me but this is certainly one of his better efforts. Alberto Ponticelli and Vanessa Del Rey illustrate the stories themselves, with Ponticelli doing double duty by drawing the framing story as well. Both are a good fit for the material.

Ponticelli has really improved since I first encountered his stuff on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. His lines seem to be finer and more confident here and there is so much detail packed into the opening splash page of a demon’s boudoir that I will be returning to it many times to explore all the nooks and crannies for hidden treasures. He’s more suited to flat out horror than he is to horror tinged superheroics and I hope he continues to find a work in this vein.

Vanessa Del Rey is a name with which I’m not familiar but she too does an excellent job. Her style reminds me a lot of Becky Cloonan’s, capable of shifting from the voluptuous to the disturbing with surprising ease. It’s similar enough to Ponticelli’s to not be jarring in the transition between the two but different enough that you would never mistake the one for the other.

Sound is a crucial feature in any horror story and one that is hard to approximate in a silent medium like comics. Letterer Sal Cipriano does a great job of jumping this particular hurdle. His captions and balloons are serviceable throughout the first twelve pages, conveying their point without distracting from the art or calling attention to themselves. It’s not until the sound effects begin on page thirteen that he really gets to strut his stuff, varying the size and shape of the same five letters again and again while adding the occasional flourish to illustrate the increasing desperation of the protagonist as something terrible gets closer and closer. The colors by Jose Villaruba (another returning member of Bourdain’s Get Jiro team) tie everything together, painting all the scenes in the same shades and providing a sense of unity that they might otherwise lack.

Hungry Ghosts is  a really fine comic but its not for everyone. As I mentioned above, many readers may take exception to American creators dipping so heavily into the well of Japanese culture. There is also a strong element of sexual violence in the second story that may be distasteful or distressful to some readers. Beyond these concerns the stories themselves are part of an ancient oral tradition that has been translated into the much younger form of comics. While its handled well there are many things that we’ve come to expect in a traditional thirty page comic that are missing from this one. There’s little in the way of character development and the plots are simple constructs that exist to set up a gruesome twist that’s not really a surprise on the final page.

If you’re looking for the kind of rich, character driven horror delivered by books like Hellblazer or Swamp Thing, look elsewhere. If you want a comic that approximates sitting around the campfire on a dark summer night with a bag of marshmallows and a few good friends, trying to scare each other stupid, then I recommend giving Hungry Ghosts a taste.

Story: Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose Art: Alberto Ponticelli & Vanessa Del Rey
Cover Art: Paul Pope
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

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

Review: Scarlet Witch #15

5712144-15Witchcraft has been saved. Now Wanda has an even harder thing ahead of her – planning her life now her task is done.  But first she must face a witch-demon who possesses a young boy with a bloodline connection to witches of yore.  Join us as Wanda must battle evil both in present-day New York…and Havana, Cuba in 1954!!

Scarlet Witch was a title I was very excited about when I heard of it’s debut, and Wanda has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters.  Over the years, writers have taken liberties with her powers; some focusing on her mutant ‘hex’ power, others delving into her ‘chaos magic’.  This series took Wanda’s abilities more in a supernatural direction, really showing this character as a witch.  It was an intriguing endeavor, Wanda out on her own to fix witchcraft and find the person or persons who were destroying it.  The series definitely had its high points and low points, but I think any fan of Scarlet Witch would say they enjoyed the ride.

James Robinson gives a nice ending story to close out this series.  It really shows how the character has changed as a result of her journey, and how she’s ready to face her future.  We see a more confident Wanda, not second guessing herself or apologizing anymore for past mistakes.  On the road to fix witchcraft, Wanda has also managed to heal herself and Robinson ends this series showing us that Wanda knows what she wants for herself and she is going after it, promising that we definitely have not seen the last of the Scarlet Witch.

Vanessa Del Rey’s art definitely adds to the supernatural feel of this issue.  Most panels are very dark and muted, except for Wanda and her signature color, which conveys her power and presence thanks to color artist Jordie Bellaire.  The art has a very “sketch” feel to it, but really lends itself to the mood of the issue, even though some of the faces look awkward in some panels.

Overall, this was a good story to send Wanda off onto the next chapter of her adventures.  It shows us Wanda is more confident in her powers and how she has come into her own, no longer relying on her brother Quicksilver to be her protector and no longer being weighed down by the guilt of things that happened in her past (her mental breakdown in Avengers Disassembled; her uttering ‘no more mutants’ in House of M).  Wanda’s story that begins this issue, the ending of her tale and who she is with at the end of the story shows us that Wanda knows exactly what she wants her life to be and she is no longer going to hide away but embrace who she is.  I am very excited to see where Wanda turns up next, and I look forward to seeing her in action again.

Story: James Robinson Art: Vanessa Del Rey Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Scarlet Witch #1

STK691231When I heard one of my favourite characters in the Marvel Universe was finally getting her own title, I was very excited.  Scarlet Witch has had a rough time the last few years and it is long past time for her to get back into readers good graces.  This first issue wasn’t a slam dunk to start off on, but I do have high hopes for it.

Wanda can feel that something is not right in New York, besides the every day ‘not right’ of the city, and heads out to seek information from a detective looking into a suspicious murder. He takes Wanda to the crime scene, where she discusses with the detective other similar murders that have taken place.  Wanda discovers that this is the work of a spell that has been cast and goes about to set it right, and that the detective was not simply a means of information, but in fact the means to break the spell.  When she has completed the task, she realizes that there is something far bigger then one spell at work…that all of witchcraft is being tampered with, and that she means to find out who is behind it and put an end to it.

I did enjoy this first issue , but I had two problems with it.  First off, it was a run of the mill murder mystery with a slight magic twist.  Here we have Scarlet Witch setting out to repair witchcraft and this is the jumping off point?  Dead cats and some little hex demon? *YAWN*  I was expecting something a little more earth shattering to set Wanda out on her adventure.  I’m hoping the slow start means there are bigger things to come.  The second problem I had, and this is a big one; YET again, her power set has been changed…over the years no one seems to be to able to settle on what exactly Wanda’s powers are!  Mutant hex bolts?  Maybe….Chaos magic? Sure that works for Avengers: Disassembled –  Wait, chaos magic doesn’t exist…wait, reality altering powers, YEAH that works for House of M….wait no, NOW it’s witchcraft…*sigh* I just wish someone would make up their mind.

James Robinson gives us an alright, if not standard, crime story.  He does give Wanda a good voice, and I do love his interaction between Wanda and Agatha.  The narration does feel a little long winded, and nothing terribly exciting happens.  I loved Vanessa Del Rey’s art in this book.  It had a very contemporary feel for me, and I really enjoyed her style of Wanda.  I have to give a shout out to Jordie Bellaire on the colours as well.  Everything is very dark and toned down and you can feel the ‘not right’ that Wanda mentions; except for Wanda and her splashes of red which very much showed us that this was her book and I liked that.

Overall, no I wasn’t terribly thrilled with this first issue, but I wasn’t totally disappointed either.  I am very excited to see Wanda in her own book and I am looking forward to see where this quest to fix witchcraft takes her next.  I do hope things pick up and things get more original to set this title apart.

Story: James Robinson Art: Vanessa Del Rey
Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Review: Scarlet Witch #1

Scarlet_Witch_1_CoverWitchcraft is broken. And the Scarlet Witch is the only one who can fix it. Writer James Robinson is taking Wanda Maximoff on a globetrotting quest to repair the magical forces across the Marvel Universe. That quest begins right here with Scarlet Witch #1 and the issue is a bit mixed.

Wanda has had an interesting place in the Marvel Universe being the center of quite a few major events such as House of M, Avengers Disassembled, and more. She’s been an Avenger and committed crimes such as genocide that still have yet to be fully answered for.

This first issue touches on a lot of those bast deeds, good and bad, though doesn’t go in too much detail, sweeping the more egregious under the rug for now. For new readers unaware of such events, there’ll be no problem with this debut, but for those of us reading for quite some time, there may be. And that’s why this first issue is a bit mixed for me.

Taking off in her own series, the plot feels more connected to Doctor Strange, in fact at times it just straight up feels like a female Doctor Strange, than it does connected to her Avengers past. The plot relies heavily on the witch part of her history. Disconnected from that history, the comic is pretty good. It has an interesting concept of Wanda trying to figure out who has broken witchcraft and that’s done with a bit of action and a lot of moody set-up. That mood is set by artist Vanessa Del Rey whose style has a “dirty” aspect to it that reminds me more of the style you might see with the Marvel MAX line.

But, even with that new direction I’m still left wondering how much this issue really stands out. Seriously, you could have just transplanted Doctor Strange and the entire plot would have worked just as well, in fact he’s dealing with a similar issue and the two character intertwining more was evident in his first issue which featured Wanda. What stands out to me are those demons in her actions and her mental state (which is mentioned often).

In other words, this is a lot of set-up.

As a first issue, standing on its own, the comic is decent and between the story and the art, folks may find more than enough to see what happens next. What is cool is the comic can be read as a one-shot and you’re good. Though it sets up a lot, there’s not a cliffhanger for the next issue where you don’t know what happens. All that’s left is who’s damaging witchcraft?

The first issue is ok, and I enjoyed reading it, but for me, the key is to see where it goes and how it differentiates itself from other series, embracing the character’s complicated past, while forging its individual path.

Story: James Robinson Art: Vanessa Del Rey
Story: 7.7 Art: 8.1 Overall: 7.85 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Seeing Red – Your First Look at Scarlet Witch #1!

Witchcraft is broken. And the Scarlet Witch is the only one who can fix it. Her globetrotting quest to repair the magical forces across the Marvel Universe begins this December in Scarlet Witch #1! Eisner Award winning writer James Robinson is joined by a rotating crew of some of the industry’s hottest creators including Vanesa Del Rey, Marco Rudy, Steve Dillon, Javier Pulido, Marguerite Sauvage, Annie Wu, Tula Lotay, Joelle Jones, Chris Visions and more to chronicle the ongoing adventures of Wanda Maximoff! From the back alleys of Manhattan, to the serene Greek Isles, to the bustling streets of Hong Kong, the Witch is there – solving magical crimes and investigating all things weird. But as Wanda begins to piece witchcraft back together – an even more important question arises: who is the mastermind who broke it in the first place? Find out this December as the magical journey begins!

SCARLET WITCH #1 (OCT150797)
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by VANESSA DEL REY
Cover by DAVID AJA
Variant Cover by KEVIN WADA (OCT150800)
Hip-Hop Variant by BILL SIENKIEWICZ (OCT150798)
Marvel ’92 Variant by TOM RANEY (OCT150799)
FOC – 11/09/15, On-Sale – 12/09/15

Scarlet_Witch_1_Cover