Tag Archives: Vertigo Comics

Review: Savage Things

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got Vertigo Comics​’ Savage Things!

Savage Things collects issues #1-8 by Justin Jordan​, Ibrahim Moustafa, and John Paul Leon.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores January 30th. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

 

DC Comics​ provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: Lucifer #19

Lucifer #19

(W) Richard Kadrey (A/CA) Lee Garbett
In Shops: Jun 28, 2017
SRP: $3.99

This is it. As his enemies rally and Hell is divided, Lucifer initiates his final confrontation with the Presence-but, after everything, what if ultimate control of the universe comes down to a child’s game? And at the end of it all, lovers will reunite, happily or not.

Best Comics of 2016 – Alex’s List

Now that 2016 is in the history books (thank the fucking gods), it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics and events that really stood out for me, personally. These comics were all released this year, and in the case of a limited series if had at least two issues released this year (if a mini-series began late this year, then expect to find it on next year’s list – if it’s any good). Remember that this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, it may be because I may not have read it, not because I didn’t like it.

First up there’ll be your standard Best Of categories of Ongoing Series, Mini/One Shot, Single Issue, Writer, Artist, and Colourist, then we’ll move on to a few other things I wanted to talk about.

Best Ongoing Comic

Last year I had a hell of a time with this one, so thankfully this year was much easier. Although I could have made a case for almost any of the comics listed below  (and, like last year I’m still wishing I had decided on a “top five” for this category without an overall winner), at the end of the day there really was only one comic that would end up here.

WRATH_003_COVER-A_LAFUENTEWrath Of The Eternal Warrior (Valiant) – The final issue came out in December, so technically this isn’t an ongoing anymore, and while I’ll miss the shit out of it in 2017, it sits in the top spot for 2016 (because it was an ongoing in 2016).  This was THE book of the year for me without question; although the first issue felt a lot slower than I expected, this quickly morphed into the one series I couldn’t wait to read. Robert Venditti has crafted fourteen of the most exciting, and compelling, issues about Valiant‘s immortal soldier I have ever read as he finds a way to have Gilad deal with death – and failure – in a way I haven’t seen anywhere before.

Venditti also built this series in layers as he dropped lines of dialogue and exposition in one comic that you’d be forgiven for missing, but once the inevitable pay off happened it was something special. For an action comic, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior made you think quite a bit, and I loved every fucking moment (even the first issue after a reread six months later).

Honourable Mentions:

  • Faith (Ongoing) (Valiant) Narrowly missing the top spot, Faith has had a fantastic cast of artists joining Jody Houser all year, with each one bringing something wonderful to the table. This is a series that every comic fan should check out.
  • All-Star Batman (DC) Scott Snyder proves once more why he’s my favourite living Batman writer, and I actually enjoyed John Romita Jr’s art for the first time in a while.
  • X-O Manowar (Valiant) Another Venditti penned series, this had arguably the best concluding arc of any long running series I’ve read in a long time.

Best Limited Series or One Shot 

Voracious_02-1Voracious (Action Lab) I could tell you so many reasons why you should read this emotional tale about a time traveling chef who hunts dinosaurs, whether it’s Markisan Naso’s fantastic dialogue (and his recipes) or the wonderful artwork by Jason Muhr and colourist Andrei Tabacaru. I could tell you that comics like this are the reason you should pay attention to indie comics publishers, because if you don’t you’ll be missing out on some of the best stories  the year. But I won’t; instead I’ll tell you tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t  read this:

Honourable Mentions:

  • Klaus (BOOM!But not The Witch Of Winter. That was fucking awful, and it’s better if you pretend it didn’t exist.
  • Divinity II (Valiant) 
  • Faith: Hollywood and Vine (Valiant) 
  • Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC/IDW) All my childhood dreams came true with this six issue miniseries that I  was expecting to suck. It didn’t! It was actually really good.

Best Single Issue

FAITH_003_COVER-A_DJURDJEVICThere’s no honourable mentions because there was nothing remotely close to Faith #3:  (Valiant) for me this year. That’s #3 from the Hollywood And Vine  miniseries, not the currently ongoing series

There was never a question of this comic not being the best single issue of 2016, and its almost entirely down to the scene where Faith literally bursts from a closet. Everything about that sequence, from her internal monologue to the character’s reactions were just perfect. I still think about that moment nearly a year later, and it still sends chills down my spine.

Best Writer

Robert Venditti (Flash, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior, X-O Manowar)

I didn’t read a bad comic written by this man all year. Obviously, some were better than others, and I didn’t read everything that Venditti put out, but what I did read was always fantastic – and you’ve probably already noticed my love for Venditti earlier on this list.

Best Artist

faith_005_cover-b_hetrickMeghan Hetrick (Red Thorn, Faith)

In a year with some truly amazing artists putting out some beautiful work, from Juan Jose Ryp, Doug Braithwaite and Robert Gill for Valiant, to David Finch, Rafa Sandoval and Patrick Gleason for DC, it was relative newcomer Meghan Hetrick who made my jaw drop with every issue and cover that she drew. Her work on Faith is what sealed her in as my top artist of the year, although her cover to the 4001 A.D. Shadowman tie in is also superb, not to mention Red Thorn. There are few artists whose work I’ll buy regardless of the writer, but Meghan Hetrick is one.

Best Colourist

Jordie Bellaire (Pretty Much Everything)

If you read more than one comic a month this year then you have probably read a comic with Jordie Bellaire’s work. She is one of the most prolific colourists around, and yet her versatility shines with each and every comic. When Jordie Bellaire’s name is on a comic, then you know it’s going to look awesome – regardless of who drew it.

Most Depressingly Canceled Comic

Red Thorn (Vertigo)

Every year comics are canceled prematurely, but Red Thorn The series was great, but sadly the sales figures just weren’t there. Treat yourself when you have a chance and go check this out. You’ll find a wonderfully illustrated tale steeped in Scottish mythology quite unlike almost anything you’ll read this year.

The Comic I Wanted To Read But Never Did

The Vision (Marvel)
I have heard nothing but great things about the twelve or so issues of Vision, and yet for some reason, I haven’t picked it up even though I’ve heard it said that this is Tom King’s finest work from 2016. but it was never on my radar because of the characters and setting involved. Maybe I’ll check out the trades at some point.

Biggest Surprises

I) Ben Affleck Was A Fantastic Batman

I hoped going into the movie that Affleck would be decent, and I suspected he would be, but I never expected him to turn in a performance that went right into my top three Batman performances – that took me completely by surprise. The theatrical cut of Batman v Superman wasn’t quite as good as Affleck’s Batman, but because of his acting (and Gal Gadot) I left the theater feeling I’d got my money’s worth.

bruce waye affleck

II) Marvel Actually Finished Civil War II

After the amount of delays this series suffered, I wouldn’t have been surprised had Marvel just quietly shuffled the final issue or two off their publishing schedule. When the next event (and it’s prequel) Inhumans Vs X-Men unintentionally start before your Big Summer Event is over, you have to ask yourself whether anybody still cares about said summer even .

III) DC Rebirth Wasn’t A Stonking Pile Of Manure

I honestly had no faith the DC’s latest reboot would be anything other than a quick cash grab with at best mediocre titles. Thankfully, i was very wrong. While there were some average titles, good comics that weren’t for me and the occasional miss, for the most part I’ve enjoyed every comic under the “Rebirth” banner (and I’ve read them all for Graphic Policy’s Rebirth Review feature). In fact, the standouts for me came from characters I previously had no time for; Aquaman, Superman, Wonder Woman  and the Green Lantern Corp

The Moments That Had Me Grinning Ear To Ear

I) Bill Finger’s Byline

This was the single greatest thing to happen in the comics industry this year in my eyes; Bill Finger was finally acknowledged officially as having something to do with Batman’s creation, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Marc Tyler Nobleman.

moviescreen-grab

Regardless of my thoughts on the movie, seeing Bill Finger’s name here was fantastic.

II) Interviewing Marc Tyler Nobleman

I don’t know what I expected when I reached out to the man who inspired me to write about comics, but talking to him about Bill Finger was an absolute joy.

III) Having My Reviews Quoted On Comics

This year was the first time I saw one of my reviews quoted on the cover of a comic, and it was a moment that I won’t forget anytime soon (the comic was Red Thorn #3 if you wondered). Since then I’ve seen my reviews quoted on several Valiant comics, as well. It makes me grin every time.

 



 

Well there we have it; a look back at some of the best comics that I read over the year. Agree, or disagree? Let me know!

Review: New Romancer #4

NewRomancer4The sides have been set, and the war for love rages on in New Romancer #4 as Lexy comes to terms with her genetically engineered past while dodging the forces of both Casanova and Mata Hari, who wants to resurrect her lover Marcel’s mind in Lord Byron’s mind. And the head of Incubator, who can’t feel emotions, wants to use Lord Byron’s grasp over human emotional topology to perfect artificial intelligence. Peter Milligan’s plot is pretty ambitious, and he is spinning a lot of plates, but to his credit, doesn’t drop them all thanks to his handle on Lord Byron’s occasionally blunt, occasionally poetic voice and by continuing to make Lexy the emotional crux of the story. However, sometimes she gets drowned out by cuts to storylines, including a nearly creepy flashback where it’s insinuated that her dad genetically engineered The story rushes so quickly that is hard to see exactly where they stand though.

Colorist Brian Miller excels at showing a romantic evening gone bad as the soft pinks around Lord Byron and Lexy at their first date is replaced with the gross green of a fart cloud because Byron hasn’t eaten in centuries. Then, he goes sepia toned for a flashback showing Lexy’s mom berating her husband for being sexist and not letting her go on a scientific expedition to study lightning during a storm. (And another great Frankenstein parallel from Milligan and company.) Brett Parson’s art is filled with slaps, pistol whipping, flashes of lightning, and almost kisses and Miller continues to help his pencils and inks crackle with energy. A lot of comedy in New Romancer hinges on quick reversals, and Parson is definitely game for that switching from Byron mooning over the head of Incubator before she whips out her gun with a side of speed lines. And he gives Byron a super hilarious outfit towards end of the issue

The chase scenes, the flashback with Lexy and her family, and even Byron’s attempts to hit on the Incubator head all pale compared to the opening of New Romancer #4 when Lexy suddenly is less sure she is in love with Byron. He sees women as inferior to men, says all his poems are a fake persona, and his idea of a romantic one-liner is asking Lexy if she wants to “rut”. Plus his weight fluctuates because historically Lord Byron had weight issues and exercised in seven shirts to shed pounds. He might actually be a gross, creepy person, and Lexy starts to have second thoughts about pursuing a romance with him that all gets complicated by the last few pages of the issue. And in its own cartoonish, over-the-top way, Milligan and Parson give readers a mix of the old “don’t meet your heroes” idea with the sad fact that sometimes people come off better online (or on online dating sites) than in person with their awkwardness and odors. Also, obsessing over and idealizing a human being can lead to bad consequences.

Peter Milligan burns through a lot of plot in New Romancer #4 as Lexy, Byron, her dad, and crew at New Romancer are beset on all sides by the CEO of Incubator, Mata Hari, and Casanova, who basically just wants to watch the world burn. He starts to lay the road for the first arc’s endgame, but everything is very much in the air. This is definitely a comic that I read for the flair of the character’s voices, the adorableness and unfortunate optimism of its protagonist, Lexy, and the energy and humor of Brett Parson’s art rather than its overarching storyline.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Brett Parson Colors: Brian Miller
Story: 6.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.3 Recommendation: Read

Review: New Romancer #3

New Romancer #3 coverNew Romancer #3 picks up the pace and the humor as our heroine, the Romantic poetry loving computer programmer, Lexy and Lord Byron dodge robots named after classical mythological allusions from his poems, and fight Casanova, who is pretty much a sex vampire. Byron also tries to get acclimated to 21st century women, and Lexy’s little lessons in feminism for him are some of the comic’s highlights.

Writer Peter Milligan plots New Romancer #3 like a picaresque novel meets Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (Lord Byron’s famous travel poem.) , but with more jokes and artificial intelligence. Not merely content to have the Byron and Casanova conflict play out for an entire issue, he introduces a Bachelorette-style contest for Byron’s affection that also helps get the New Romancer app off the ground as well as a new character, Mata Hari, an exotic dancer and spy in World War I. (Ada Lovelace, the mother of computer programming, and the originator She has somehow assembled a legion of zombie-like husbands, who have been caught cheating on their wives with online sex bots in a playful riff on the Ashley Madison scandal. However, Milligan’s zippy, rhythmic dialogue and focus on the budding romance and chemistry between Lord Byron and Lexy keeps things in the midst of the plot threads flying from everywhere.

And it is Brett Parson’s art and Brian Miller’s colors that truly the sparks kindling between this 19th century poet and 21st century tech wizard. For example, there is the first splash page as Lexy swings into Casanova’s lodging like a swashbuckling hero. She is willing to risk life and limb to save the man she loves and even stabs Casanova in the eye with a sausage, which turns out to be Casanova’s penis in a funny bit of slapstick. (This comic is pretty strange.) And every time, Lexy’s with Byron, her eyes are open wide like she still doesn’t believe that she is going on adventures with her literary idol. And Byron looks like he’s having fun too in contrast with the six panel grid of speed dates he goes on with various women, who are less than enamored with him. Even after Lexy’s pointers, he still doesn’t get gender equality and feminism, oops. The soft pink backgrounds during the speed dates also pale in comparison with the dark purple fire and cute yellow stars that Parson and Miller use as Byron and Lexy start their “date”. (Which is inevitably interrupted by her still controlling father because what’s a good piece of literature without a healthy dose of daddy issues.)

LexiandByron

New Romancer #3 has wild and wacky art from Brett Parson to match the insane situations that Peter Milligan puts his cast of characters from one of Lexy’s workmates dressing as a “sexy” cupid in an ad for the New Romancer app to the earlier mentioned phallic weaponry and cheater husbands getting decked by their wives. The comic does a decent job balancing the romantic melodrama of Byron’s writing and thinking with modern day wit and sarcasm. It’s a romantic comedy that is actually funny, far from formulaic, and has some clever historical references to boot.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Brett Parson Colors: Brian Miller
Story: 7.8 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Review : The Dark & Bloody #1

5041580-01

It appears that the success of Harrow County over at Dark Horse has given other publishers the idea to try out this “Southern Gothic” thing for themselves — DC is certainly taking Swamp Thing back in that direction in Len Wein and Kelly Jones’ new six-part series, for instance — and given the “horror-centric” bent to their Vertigo line since its inception, it’s no surprise that the former National Periodical Publications would  want to get that imprint in on the act sooner rather than later, I suppose, as well,  and that they’d have them do so with something of a (red) splash given their relative financial “muscle.” Truth be told, I’m kind of surprised that their big late-2015 don’t-call-it-a-relaunch didn’t include a horror book set “below Tobacco Road,” but no sooner did we flip the calendar over than we were presented with The Dark & Bloody #1, the opening salvo of a new ongoing (or so I’m assuming) series from a relatively “green” writer named Shawn Aldridge and veteran Copperhead artist Scott Godlewski (a portent that doesn’t bode well for that series’ future, I’m afraid). Rounding out the creative team is cover artist Tyler Crook — who provides some direct linkage between this book and the aforementioned Harrow County itself — and steady coloring hand Patricia Mulvihill, so we’ve got some of the old and some of the new here, and the end result is, as you’d probably expect, something of a mixed bag.

DRKBLDY_1_1

The series is set in the modern day and focuses on the backwater trials and tribulations of one Iris Gentry (that’s a guy, just in case you were wondering), who has returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq to find employment prospects in his small Kentucky town as dim as ever, and so he’s taken to running moonshine for his former CO from his army days. He’s already got one kid and the Mrs. has another “in the oven,” so hey, let’s not judge the man for doing what he’s gotta do to get by. Besides, as both he and his wife agree, it beats dealing in crystal meth or oxycontin. Things seem to be going well enough for our low-grade entrepreneur until a couple of his good ole’ boy customers crash their car after leaving his place and promptly disappear from the face of the Earth, but what Iris doesn’t know is that they were fleeing from a shadowy, winged creature of some sort, and that there might be more to his son’s new little girlfriend than meets the eye. Oh, and the Gentry family seems to have attracted the attention of a couple of separate (as far as we know) strangers, as well —

The-Dark-and-Bloody-1-5-600x923

I don’t know if Aldridge hails from below the Mason-Dixon Line or not himself, but the local flavor he injects the proceedings here with seems reasonably authentic enough to the point where one can say that a strong sense of place is the best thing about The Dark & Bloody #1, but he’s coming up short in terms of providing any real chills or thrills so far, and that will have to change in a hurry if they want people — myself included given that I bought this issue with my own hard-earned cash — to keep plunking down $3.99 a month on this title. Realistic characters and an intriguing “hook” intimating that the evil coming Iris’ way might have something to do with his actions while in the military are neat and all, but we’re not out of line to expect this series to be, well, both dark and bloody, and this first issue, at any rate, serves up only diet-sized portions of what we’re promised on the masthead. It’s alright, sure, but that’s really all it is.

Fortunately, Godlewski’s art picks up much of the slack and he seems equally at home in either the Blue Moon of Kentucky or the burning oil fields of Kandahar province. There’s nothing particularly flashy or attention-grabbing about his style of illustration, but it is solid and does have a fair degree of personality. The people all look like distinctive and realistic individuals, the locales are rendered with a solid eye for detail, and the one brief scene of supernatural shenanigans is delivered with just enough aplomb to leave us feeling confident that future “bumps in the night” will knock us around when we’re looking at them — now it’s just up to his creative partner to make sure that the words he pairs with the images leave a mark when we’re reading the book, as well.

The-Dark-and-Bloody-1-6-600x923

I’m tempted to err on the side of cautious optimism with this one simply because I’ve been reasonably impressed with most of what Vertigo’s had going of late, but I realize that doesn’t make any more sense than expecting another Marvel book to be good just because, I dunno, The Vision is or something. In all honesty, the one-time home of the likes of Gaiman, Morrison, Ennis, and Carey really only has two titles — Lucifer and Red Thorn — among their new batch that are deliberately going for that “old-school Vertigo” feel, and the rest are all over the map as far as theme, tone, and subject matter go. That’s a good thing, to be sure, but it means that not all of these series are going to be to any one reader’s liking. I know that there are hard-core “Vertigo completists” out there who will buy anything and everything that comes out under that label, but for the rest of us, well — we’ve gotta pick and choose, don’t we?

So far, I haven’t seen enough from The Dark & The Bloody to convince me that I want to be swigging from this particular mason jar month in and month out, but what the heck — I’m willing to stick it out for a couple more issues to see if this is particular batch of “white lightning” has the kind of kick that I’m looking for.

Story: Shawn Aldridge Art: Scott Godlewski
Story: 5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Review: New Romancer #2

New Romancer #2With bright cartoonish art and a wicked wit, New Romancer #2 opens up with the worst date of all worst dates as bored socialite Felicity is set up by the New Romancer algorithm with Dwayne, who is into necrophilia. But for some reason she wants a second date because it’s more exciting than her usual rich guy wannabe boyfriends. And the pressure is on our protagonist Lexy, who must find Lord Byron (More precisely the A.I. downloaded into a body that looks just like Lord Byron), true love, and have her algorithm work all my Valentine’s Day. Plus Casanova is after Lord Byron for some reason having to do with his abilities and experiences as a lover that writer Peter Milligan doesn’t dig into quite yet. He’s an amusing villain though.

Through his art, Brett Parson definitely shows that he’s better at broad comedy than intimate emotion, which isn’t always a bad thing because New Romancer #2 is insanely hilarious at time from Felicity hurling herself from a yacht when Dwayne whips out his Casanova penis holder thing (Thankfully, it’s off panel.) to Lexy and her co-worker Mong’s reaction to her boss Raj saying he’ll buy “designer underpants” to go on a date with Felicity. This is because Felicity and her old money is the last, best home for the New Romancer online dating startup. Parson does unhinged very well in his art like a double page spread of Casanova cruising the California desert with the top down and speed lines in his wake. He and Milligan are definitely more interested in the comedy than the romance part of romantic comedy for now even if colorist Brian Miller goes all out with the pink when Lexy and Lord Byron is reunited. But instead of a soft kiss, her bloody awful poetry revives him from what seems like his millionth fainting spell of the series so far.

Lord Byron has a nice blend of timeless charisma with the awkwardness of being a stranger in the 21st century. (See the silly party hat that he picks up at the club he was at in the first issue and doesn’t take off until his date with Felicity.) He gets Milligan’s funniest and prettiest dialogue. Lexy’s dad Joe appears in his issue along with his complicated relationship with his daughter, who he both loved and experimented upon to make her the best programmer. He definitely has some major issues and is in prison for beating up a journalist, who called him a “cyber quack”. Milligan doesn’t pull any punches in showing that Joe had an abusive relationship with Lexy. Her dialogue is really sad in the flashback scenes as she tells her dad to fix her brain so that she can be normal. However, the goofiness of the art sort of ruins the seriousness of these scenes.

New Romancer #2 has an infectious, chaotic energy especially when Casanova or Lord Byron show up on the panel, and Milligan keep things relatable through the character of Lexy, who is having difficulties finding true love because of her idiosyncrasies and just how damn hard 21st century dating is for a twentysomething. Brett Parson also draws some funny facial expressions and gestures to along with Milligan’s wacky wit. Even though it often doesn’t know if it wants to be a romance, comedy, or serious exploration of relationships, New Romancer #2 is a pretty fun and unique read, especially with the promise of a face-off between Casanova and Lord Byron in the next issue.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Brett Parson Colors: Brian Miller
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.3 Recommendation: Read