New Comic Book Day Top 5

Hello Revuers, time for a new segment.  In this segment we will be looking at the top 5 comic books I’m excited about that are coming out on New Comic Book Day. If you aren’t reading these books then do you even comic? Let’s get started:

 

5: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #9

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I love this series from Marvel. Kate Leth was a perfect choice to write this series, and Brittany Williams is on art. Color art is provided by Megan Wilson. I have had this series on my pull list since the beginning. Leth, Williams and Wilson provide a cut backdrop for a seriously kick butt character. It’s this juxtaposition between cute and kick butt-ness (is that a word?) that I really love about this series.

 

4: Titans #2

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In issue #1 we learned a little bit about the events directly following DC Rebirth. This makes sense as Wally West is the cog that made DC Rebirth’s machine run. Hopefully in the second issue we get a better picture of where DC is taking Rebirth. The new costume design for several of the characters is spot on. Especially Wally West.Since in Rebirth they are keeping the new New 52 Wally West, old Wally West needed a costume upgrade, and boy did he get one.

 

3: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1

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The new Power Rangers series from Boom! comics has been a joy. As a fan of the original series (and Space, and Turbo, and…..well you get the idea) this comic really captures the way that the TV show made me feel. The writing and art for this annual looks amazing from what I’ve seen. The issue itself features several short story’s, in typical annual form. If the cover art is any indication we should be getting hyped for it.

 

2: Flash #5

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‘Lightning Strikes Twice’ part five! Joshua Williamson’s Flash series has been fantastic so far, running circles (sorry) around it’s competition every two weeks it’s released. I have really enjoyed Barry in a mentor/teaching role. It seems to really suit him, and it makes sense that he would transition to that role as the have a young Wally West and an older Wally West. Because of that Barry’s role needs to change out of necessity of his character and out of necessity for older Wally West’s character. The new villain Godspeed is genuinely menacing and his character design is breath taking. I was worried that the fast pace (sorry again) of the releases of this series would cause quality to drop, but it has remained high.

 

1: Batgirl #2

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Batgirl #1 was a fun start to the soft reboot. Hope Larsen brought her own take on Batgirl and took her away from Burnside. This was a smart move on Larsen’s part, a it allows here to put her own stamp in the character. Issue 1 also introduced some exciting new individuals into Batgirl’s life. The art was fantastic, especially the color art by Dave McCaig. I consider myself a color art enthusiast and that issue did not disappoint. If you don’t have this series on your pull list you need to rectify that situation immediately.

 

What comics are on your Pull List? Tell us in the comment section below. We’d love to hear what our followers are reading!

 

-Andrew

Tales From the Pull List (04/06/2016): A Widows Peak

Hello Revuers! Its time for another edition of Tales From the Pull List. After several quiet weeks in a row, this NCBD turned into an embarrassment of riches. In fact of the last three years of religiously participating in NCBD this may have been my favorite week ever. Such tremendous talent and titles! So who won this week?  Well it was super close but in in the end only one title can be chosen as Pick of the Week. Read on to find out which one it was!

 

Pick of The Week

Black Widow #2: In what many might call an upset, this weeks Pick of the Week is Black Widow #2 by Matk Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson. Issue number two flashes back to one week prior to the last issue. Here we are given a funeral scene of an unnamed agent with Maria Hill and Agent Elder discussing the circumstances of the agents death. We find out that the Black Widow is at least party responsible. Then in a breath taking succession of pages and panels we see the Black Widow protecting Hill and Elder from a would be assassin team. In the end it’s Widow vs. a lone assassin. It’s then that she discovers the assassins true purpose at the funeral. No spoilers though so go out and get your own issue (if you haven’t done so already). This series is the creative team of Waid, Samnee, and Wilson’s second series together after a legendary run on Daredevil. I can honestly say that I can’t think of a better book for them to be on (Ok maybe Amazing Spider-Man, but I’m probably biased because Spider-Man is my favorite). The artwork by Samnee perfectly captures the feel and aesthetic of the world Waid has created for the Black Widow. The color work done by Matthew Wilson is spectacular, like it would be anything else, as it always is. Wilson is perhaps the greatest, most prolific color artist I have ever seen. Just this week alone I bought two titles colored by him (both were fantastic). All in all a great issue that builds suspense, reveals some of the Black Widows motivations for doing what she did last issue, introduces a new villain, and lets us watch the Black Widow single handedly take out a team of assassins. A very good issue indeed. Rating: 9.5/10

 

Buy

Black Panther #1: A great first issue on a much hyped debut. Ta-Nehisi Coates was under heavy pressure to perform and I must say he slayed it. If it hadn’t been for such an amazing issue of the Black Widow, Black Panther would have been my Pick of the Week. The artwork by Brian Stelfreeze is breathtaking. The color work by Laura Martin does a fantastic job of accenting and world building. Black Panther truly delivers this week and I can’t wait for issue 2. Rating: 9/10

The Wicked + The Divine #18: It’s back! And so is someone else. A great return for my favorite creative team in the business. Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, and Cowles deliver a unforgettable issue full of action and destruction. In the letter at the end Gillen described this arc as “Taylor Swift’s Bad blood video for 6 issues”. I can’t wait for more of that. Rating 8/10

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2: In this issue we learn more of the Rita’s grand scheme with the green power ranger. We also get more action that was lacking from the last issue. The page art of the dinozord underwater was some of the coolest art I saw this week. Fantastic! A great installment in this series that keeps me wanting for more. Rating: 7/10

Spider-Women Alpha: The first issue in this summers Spider family event. It sees Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen, and Silk team up to take on crepes, Er I mean creeps, brunch, ball pits, clowns, o yeah and villains. We see them travel through inter dimensional space, fight adaptoid robots, and wind a sitter! This issue was a fun beginning for this cross over event and for the first time in recent memory actually has me interested in a cross over event. Rating: 7/10

 

 

Coloring Between the Lines: Marissa Louise

Hello Revuers! Its time for another segment of Coloring Between the Lines where we interview a Color Artist that’s making an impact in the industry. This month we have the uber talented Marissa Louise. You may recognize her style from her works on such titles as Semiautomagic, Escape From New York, Robocop, Headspace, and many more. Marissa was gracious enough to spend some of her valuable time answering questions for us! For that we are very appreciative. Now without further delay:

 

  • How long have you been a colorist?

It can be a kind of funny number to quantify, but I started working towards in when I was 30. I was a flatter for some great people for the first year and a half. That’s how I learned photoshop. Prior to that I was doing art with gold & hand made oil paints. Lemme tell you, photoshop is a lot faster.

  • Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

If I had known it was an option I would have been all over it! But I didn’t, so I wanted to be a mortician, the work is steady but the paycheck is stiff, or a biologist. I have dyscalcula, you know Dracula’s more irritating sibling, so I thought I could do all the maths for those jobs.

I spent a lot of time copying the drawings out of comics. Some where in the cracks of my old house there are loads of drawings of Ghost Rider and Wolverine.

  • What’s the first comic book series you really got into?

Hmm. That’s tough because I have a terrible memory and remembering things from 1988 is really hard! But I think it was probably Malibu’s Ferret. I think I liked how mean the women were to him. But it was also just goofy stuff with cool coloring. Other than that I really like Ranma ½ I would get it at the Japanese market. Or I’d get Hellboy or Oh My Goddess! and a lot of other Dark Horse books from the library. I loved Mike Mignola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

When I was in college I got quite a few of the old EC books. Those are all really wonderful. I got a little more into rah rah woman stuff then too. Like Tits & Clits or Twisted Sisters. Along with wild zines kids were making at Pratt to really screw around with the physicality of a book.

  • Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?

I like them all! For me the pieces need to make sense with the whole. I tend not to prefer comics that are trying to be movies, since they are fundamentally different forms. But I love Squirrel Girl as much as I love Roman Muradov’s Yellow Zine. I love early Spider-Woman as much as I love Pete Tom’s books! Georgia Webber does really great things with the form and Justin Ponsor/David Marquez draw the human form stunningly. Sunny is a really amazing comic.

  • Who is your favorite superhero?

I really liked early Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman). She really tried to help everyone out at her day job and her night job. I think the costume is just stunning. Catwoman is classic, though she may not count as a superhero. I really like what the Squirrel Girl team is doing. Does Zodiac Starforce count as superheros? They are really great characters. I feel like I have a piece of each of them in me.

I really love Empowered. The drawing is genius and I really love the way Adam gracefully pulls the viewer’s eyes to Emp’s face. Cankor is really amazing if you haven’t found that. It’s printed by Matthew G Allison, you have to find him at a con to get it.

  • Who is your favorite non superhero character?

Urd. She’s from Oh My Goddess!, she is all about chaos and playing with cute mice!

  • What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?

I listed quite a few, but I can list more: Nutmeg, Hopeless Savage, Tekkonkinkreet, American Born Chinese, Lady Killer, Shutter, The Big Book of series, my friend Jon Rivera did some really cool comics while we were in college called Heartbreak.

  • What is your process like for coloring?

I’ll either flat it myself or send it to a flatter. I prefer to print out my scripts. I just have a hard time marking them up or testing ideas in the margin if they are digital. So I highlight those with different markers for time of day/color notes/environmental notes. Annote ideas in the margins if I have time. Then hopefully I have all the pages. I like to do the hardest parts first then I build everything off of that.

So right now I’m working on a battle scene. After that is colored I will color the preceding & following pages to amp up & release the tension.

Different books require different rendering styles. So I have a really hard time switching between books. It’s like if you’re speaking Spanish then someone asks you a question in German. Who knows what will come out of your mouth!

Once I turn in pages I do edits.

If you follow my twitter you’ll know I’m trying the Pomodoro technique now! I track all my time and take quick breaks. It has been really wonderful!

  • How do you choose a color palette?

Same as any other problem. Identify the parameters first. Identify the locations, clothes & emotion’s you’ll need. From those parameters make sure the palette has enough contrasting colors. You want 0%-75% grey value in a variety of warms & cools. I’m still playing with different techniques like creating color wheels based off two colors or just mixing out colors like I would on a paint palette. And of course there is always good old fashioned borrowing. I like to borrow from John Watkiss, Leonor Fini, Peter Hailey, Delacroix, Gericault, Ingres, and basically whatever I can get my eyeballs on.

  • What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

Ooh. That’s a toughie! I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the projects I’ve worked on. But I think Broken World was extra great because I got to do a lot of story telling in the color. The team worked really closely to enable that. Semiautomagic was great because Alex really let me go wild and of course, Jerry is a great artist. I’m still really proud of a lot of Escape From New York. The licensor wanted the coloring to be very desaturated to match the look of the film. I think I was able to do a lot with restricted palettes.

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

Yes! But some of it I can’t tell you about yet. If you haven’t picked up Mystery Girl, I really insist you do. All of you out there! Paul Tobin was able to take some amazing and strange writing risks with it. Alberto’s drawing is great. I’m getting to do cool things with color. The series I have over at Stela is pretty cool. Hopefully the penciller, Tony Talbert, and I will get to work together more in the future. We really feed off each other. We’re trying to get Deadhorse going again and Miranda Mercury! Those are super cool indie books. I love them both.

I also have a Kickstarter for Semiautomagic that will be coming up next month so keep a look out for that!

I am also writing essays for Women Write About Comics. Those are slow going though, since coloring deadlines come first.

And of course my non profit, Joon, is always doing cool things! We’re holding a fundraiser in February and lots of cool events at Emerald City and other conventions throughout the year.

  • Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?

Talk about your loaded questions! I’ll list some, it won’t be everyone because I have a terrible memory: My mentors Nolan Woodard & Bill Crabtree are both stunning. Justin Ponsor, Tamra Bonvillain, Kelly Fitzpatrick’s work on Bombshells with Sandy Jarrell was really exceptional! Bettie Brietweiser on Velvet, Sloane Leong, Shari Chankhamma, Paulina Ganucheau, SainaSix is mostly an illustrator but she does comics & has a great color sense. I’ve been trying to convince Jen Bartel to color, but I think she’s mostly going to stick to only coloring herself. Paul Reinwand is another person who colors themself & has a great color sense. I sort of veered away from coloring only people here, but I’m trying to list people that your audience may not have seen much of yet.

  • Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?

Oh yeah. Everything. I keep my window open while I work so I can watch the light change across the building. When I was in NYC there was this green factory outside my window. I loved all the different greens it would become throughout the year. And the strange reflected light it would create. I love animals and fashion. Of course painting! Since that’s what I went to school for.

  • I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on Escape From New York. How did you pick out the palette for that book?

Thanks! I really like that book. When I was testing out they wanted the book to be very desaturated. So I made a full range of greys without black in them. So a warm set of greys, cool set of greys, tan set of greys, more blue set of greys. Then a set of semi desaturated blues and reds. Then a lot of the color on that book is what is called induced color. Tricking the eye into seeing yellows and blues when it is mostly grey.

The exception to that is Florida. The way the script was written it was very clear that Chris wanted Florida to look opulent & have tropical colors. So I look at Floridian murals & animals to develop that over the top palette.

  • I also really enjoy your Cover art work as well on Titles such as D4ve. What are some of the unique challenges between coloring Covers and whole Issues?

Covers have got to scream at you from the shelf. And they have to scream in more charming ways than the other covers. So I try to create palettes that are high contrast, but also interesting. I want something that gives the viewer an immediate emotional kick.

  • Burritos or coneys?

Always coneys.

  •  Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito when you’re at cons

My shameful confession is that I haven’t had a burrito in since I was 27. Yikes! I am hoping this year is the one where I get to change that.

  • What’s your favorite convention?

Heroes and Emerald CIty are both amazing! I haven’t been to many around the country. So I don’t have the most refined opinion on this.

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I mentioned before I’d love to work with Tony Talbert again on something. It’d be really stellar to get Alex de Campi writing a Barbarella sort of thing for us. That would get really weird really fast and I think it would be really fun! I would absolutely cherish working with Trungles on something. Doing mermaid story with Anna Sahrling-Hamm or Jessi Sheron. Working with Vanessa Del Ray on a Vampirella comic would be cool. I’d really love to do anything at all with Wilfredo Torres or Tradd Moore. If I could get James F Wright to write a licensed Elvira comic that would be amazing!

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

I think I’d probably have to go back to fabrication.

  • What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?

They have inverse relationships of time and money. I really enjoy the freedom of indie titles, but big two have much larger marketing reach. On a lot of indie stuff in my experience you get more time & less oversight, but also less money. The unfortunate side of that is you need to take on more projects to make ends meet, so you don’t always get to use the extra time effectively.

  • Who’s your favorite character to color?

Oh gee. I guess I don’t really have one. Every character and artist has special things about them. It’s very easy for me to find things I love. I’m very thankful to be a colorist.

  • What would be a dream series for you to work on?

It’s kind of weird, but really, I would freak out if I worked on a licensed Elvira comic. Especially if I got to work with Cassandra Peterson. She is a huge idol for me. And she is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met! This would be ideal for me because it would be campy, sexy, scary, psychedelic and funny. That dagger isn’t just for show, you know.

  • Thank you for your time Marissa, I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Looking forward to your great work in the future.

Thanks for having me!

If you would like to check out more of her work you can visit her website, Twitter, or her Facebook

And if you would like to purchase some of her work ask your LCS about any of the titles mentioned above, or check out Comixology

End of the Year Top 10 List from Deja.Revue and Friends

Hello Revuers! Hard to believe it’s that time of the year again. 2015 has just flown by! It proved to be a fantastic year for comics. With so many great series it was hard to limit it to just 5 or 10. So I asked some of our friends of Deja.Revue to help me, by picking their favorite series’ as well. The contributors names will be centered and emboldened. When applicable it will also be a hyperlink so that you can check out their blog. I highly recommend that you do as the contributors to this article are all top notch. So with out further ado, here are the top comics of 2015.

Andrew Horton

Head Writer: Deja.Revue

10. Spider-Gwen, Publisher: Marvel, Writer Jason Latour Art: Robbi Rodriguez, Color Art: Rico Renzi.

Spider-Gwen suffered from to many reboots in to short of time. First they had their first issue then less that a year later it was back to a new issue one. This wasn’t the creative teams fault and they did the best they could to salvage what they could from the situation. The post Secret Wars have been great so far and I think that next year this title could be much higher on this list.

9. Dr. Strange, Publisher: Marvel, Writer Jason Aaron, Art: Chris Bachalo

With Dr Strange coming to cinemas next fall a post Secret Wars universe seemed like a great opportunity to launch a new solo series for our Sorcerer Supreme. Luckily for Marvel they hired writer supreme Jason Aaron, who can do almost no wrong. I picked up the first issue and feel completely under it’s spell (to much? Okay okay no more terrible puns).  The art by Chris Bachelo really gives us a glimpse of the oddness and absurdity of the world in which Dr. Strange lives. Overall a spectacular job!

8. Invincible Iron Man, Publisher: Marvel, Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Art: David Marquez

The creative team behind Ultimate Spider-Man team up again to bring a normal Iron Man back to a solo adventure (by normal I mean not a “Superior” Axis influenced Iron Man, He’s still a billionaire playboy). This series sees an exciting shift of the status quo for one of Marvel’s biggest villains (no spoilers) and a quite compelling story line. O also a night beach fight with sword wielding ninjas (yeah, it’s as awesome as it sounds). The writing is the nest by Bendis in quite awhile and the art is amazingly well done.

7. Silver Surfer, Publisher: Marvel, Writer: Dan Slott, Artist: Michael and Laura Allred.

Enough can never be said about the fantastic art by the Allreds on this series. They truly take it from being a good comic to being a great comic. That being said I was happy to see how the events of this series influenced Secret Wars.  Made the series fun to read as a companion piece to Hickman’s saga. I can’t wait until it starts back up!

6. Thor/The Mighty Thor, Publisher: Marvel, Writer: Jason Aaron Art: Russel Daughterman, Color Art: Matthew Wilson

The first volume of a Female Thor was cut short by Secret Wars. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. In fact it was spectacular. Jane Foster added a depth to the character of Thor that was so fun to read. Now that we can focus our main attention on the story and less on who is Thor I feel like the title will get even stronger. If the first two issues are anything to go by I might be correct. Now that the story tellers can do some character building with Jane they are taking full advantage. The opening scene of issue one was a tear jerking emotional roller coaster. The play between the power of a God and the frailty of the human condition is really what makes this series so compelling.

5. Injection, Publisher: Image, Writer: Warren Ellis, Art Declan Shalvey, Color Art: Jordie Bellaire

The creative team behind the magnificent first volume of last years Moon Knight returns. This time with a slow burning supernatural drama that left the readers with more questions than answers for much of the first arc. This lead to a fantastic payoff that was a thrill ride in of itself. The writing is solid, but really the art is the stand out. The team of Shalvey and Bellaire work so well together and really compliment each others style. I hope they work on more books together in the future.

4. Gotham Academy, Publisher: DC, Writer: Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan, Art: Karl Kerschl

The first and only DC title to make my list. It had a bit of a break during DCs Convergence event and just started up again. Still the story telling alone is worthy of the number 3 spot on this list. Cloonan and Fletcher take a rag tag group of kids and turn them into lovable characters that you genuinely feel a connection to (esp. maps). The art is excellent as well, with a heavy digital design and a slight manga influence. the next arc looks to be just as good if not better than the last.

3. Tokyo Ghost, Publisher: Image, Writer: Rick Remender, Art: Sean Murphy, Color Art: Matt Hollingsworth

Tokyo Ghost is a hauntingly gruesome look into (possibly our) the future. It asks the question what happens if we never have to look away from our screens? It questions society’s reliance on technology and what the repercussions of that reliance may be. Especially in relation to the children who grow up in this society. Tokyo Ghost has the most eerie and haunting line I have read this year (heck maybe ever) at the end of issue one.

2. The Wicked + The Divine, Publisher: Image, Writer: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie, Color Art: Matthew Wilson

I really struggled with the top two. Which is funny because the couldn’t be less similar. TWTD is, on the surface, a story of Gods and men and the interactions between them. Beneath the surface it is a cunning social commentary of the way people treat Pop Stars and the emotional repercussions the “Gods” and the “common folk” alike. The art is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. The team of McKelvie and Wilson consistently bring innovative designs and fresh panel work. The coloring is an art in and of it’s self. If you took any of the elements by themselves (story telling, art, colors) they would be fantastic, but this is one case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

1. Southern Bastards, Publisher: Image, Writer: Jason Aaron + Jason Latour, Art: Jason Latour

Southern Bastards was my pick at six months and it is still my pick at the end of the year. Such fantastic story telling and art. Rough and tumble pages spilling forth gritty takes on a (slightly) exaggerated South. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour have crafted a masterpiece. Its that simple. They consistently toy with the emotions of the reader and in that regard show us that living is a messy thing and hardly anything is as simple as it appears. Except Ribs. Ribs are simple.

Andy Eschenbach

Comic Book Author and Tattoo Specialist

Top 10 comics of 2015 by Andy Eschenbach Wow! Twenty-Fifteen! Nice job, everybody! Except you. Yeah, you:) Comics is in such a great state right now. That said, it wasn’t hard to figure out which ten books I was most excited to pick up and read each beautiful Wednesday. And so it goes:

10. Joe Golem: Occult Detective (Dark Horse) – Mignola and Golden give us an intriguing combination of pulpy crime and Hebrew mythos. The environment, a sunken Manhattan, is appropriately depicted by the tough-looking art of Patric Reynolds, and stylish palette of Dave Stewart. Palumbo’s pulp-novel covers drive it right off the rack, too. This mini-series makes me want to dive right into it’s predecessor- a graphic novel unknown to me prior- just as much as I anticipate it’s next few issues. I WAS highly offended at the treatment of Witches throughout the story so far, as I personally practice Wizardry on a daily basis. HAHA! No I wasn’t! Less Witches= more magical power all for me! HAHAHAA! Kill ‘em, Golem!

9. Island Magazine (Image): Go ahead and get mad that I’m not going to mention every person involved in this book- but your time would be better spent reading. Any one of the creators in the past four issues of Island has made something strange and awesome, and more than worth your time. It’s also great to see a regularly-scheduled anthologystyle book on the shelves! What a great way to showcase talented folks and their work! More of this, please!

8. Tet (IDW): A dark human drama/mystery surrounding a group of people bound by events taking place during the Vietnam War, brought to us by Paul Allor and Paul Tucker, that is most certainly worth your attention. Not many stories that share setting or subject deal with it in such a smart or emotional way. It’s compelling and heartfelt, realistic to motives as much as to history, and supported by simplychiseled art. Really good. Really hard. Real.

7. Mythic (Image):  Phil Hester is my new hero. What a gift to Comics: a book that combines an American sense of humor to a theme of Myth and Magic- something more often tackled, with such a skill level, by European writers. Duly brought to life by the sharp, intense art of John McCrea and refreshingly simple-yet-poppy colors of Michael Spicer, this book simultaneously brings back everything good about old-school Vertigo-style stuff, with none of the garbage, while presenting characters and jokes you have never seen or heard before. The funny thing is, they’ve been here all along, in our own histories and fables.

6. Invisible Republic (Image): Gabriel Hardman. Corrina Bechko. Jordan Boyd. Perfect. Gritty and grim, immersive and convincing, politically
poignant, and beautifully executed. Give this first arc a read, and find out about the lies people perpetuate- the truths they inhibit- to reach or maintain power. In space. Stories like these help remind us  that true history isn’t always the commonly accepted one.

5. We Can Never Go Home (Black Mask Studios): Punkrock runaway story? With Super-Powers?! Fuck yes! 🙂 I mean… whatever, man 😐 Great characterization by Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon- the kind that really captures those moments, from awkward to awesome, that defined us in our salad days- as they weave us through an explosive gauntlet of violent reaction, tense uncertainty, and knee-jerk decision making in true Comic Book fashion. Josh Hood’s illustrations are just the right thing, too, along with Tyler Boss’s colors, providing the action and clarity to move the story forward in a smooth and exciting way. And there’s a bonus hit from Brian Level in the back five pages of the fifth issue! I’m stoked to see this continue! Good stuff, Black Mask Studios!

4. The Violent (Image): “Whut?! He put a book with only one issue out in his Top 4?!” Yeah. It’s that good. Perfect Crime by Ed Brisson, Adam Gorham, and Michael Garland. It’s moody and raw, and it’ll get your gut more than once in the first 22 pages. Don’t read any spoilers. Just go buy it.

3. Paper Girls (Image): It’s refreshing to read a book that seems to have no overt intentions of becoming a movie, as far as approach goes, but still imbues the qualities of those great pre-teen adventure films from the 80’s. Vaughn serves up all the delicious fun and excitement from the Goonies or Stand By Me rolled around in a mysterious sci-fi breading, beautifully presented by Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson with bold and simple excellence. For all it’s movie-like charm, it presents outlandish events in a way that seems fluidly plausible, due to the perfect capturing of the feel of the era. Grab your Walkman, get on your bike, ride to the Comics Shop, pick up Paper Girls, and sneak a smoke in the back alley with your angsty friends while you read it.

2. The Vision (Marvel): I was massively excited to find out that my favorite Avenger was getting a solo book, and, although I was unfamiliar with the team’s work prior, I will now be finding more things to read by Tom King, and look at by Gabriel Hernandez Walta. The Vision is an eerie tale designed with plenty of social critique and suburban strangeness. Kings writing has a unique way of forging gut-wrenching emotional sympathy towards replicant human characters. Walta’s art is beautiful, and follows suit with King’s style by perfectly presenting the Vision family over a homogenized landscape, with moments of action and excitement sprinkled in. Jordie Bellaire’s colors are the icing, lending picture perfect hues and gorgeous rendering to each scene. I heard a critique that a story like this couldn’t last for more than a handful of issues. Who cares?! If
Marvels’s going to put out mini-series of this caliber, then so be it! I’d lay wages on a bet that this team could deliver for as long as necessary, though- and have high hopes that they will be given the chance.

1. Tokyo Ghost (Image): With Tokyo Ghost, Rick Remender hits me in all the same soft spots he did with his famed Uncanny X-force run, but from all different angles. Sci-Fi Action and Ultra Violence, Love, Hate, Sex, Depression, Addiction- all properly tailored in to the story with pertinence and excitement. Sean Murphy’s art is the best possible thing for this “tech-addicted dystopian” society, edgy and clear, with just enough manga influence to bring out the neo-japanese aspects of the world. It’s great to see that Matt Hollingsworth can truly do Murphy justice with his colors, as well. The overall effect is a presentation of human motives and drives so true that it hurts, amazingly believable considering the fantastical setting their pitted against. I can’t wait to read more!  It would be wrong not to mention (although I’m not sure if they technically happened this year or last) “Rasputin” by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo, and “Blast Furnace” by Ryan Browne. The first run on both were new to me in 2015, and both have continued into this year in work that I have yet to read, but would unabashedly force into anyone’s hands given proper opportunity. Oh yeah- and I don’t care what anyone says- the Amazing Spider-Man is still super-cool! On that note, here’s to a new year, and even better Comics! HOORAY!!

Jerry Caskey

Associate Writer: Deja.Revue

 1. Providence

Alan Moore takes the original stories of Lovecraft, digests them, and skillfully transplants them into the framework of American history. Told as a series of segmented encounters, Moore skillfully glides through horror after horror to produce a canon of terror matched by none but Lovecraft himself. Moore is relentless in his quest to push the limits of his protagonist and to see how far the human mind will go to explain away what it can’t understand.

For an artist to stay out of writer Alan Moore’s way and let him narrate this story would have been sufficient. But that is not what Jacen Burrows does. The art throughout Providence is done with enough realism to create a sympathetic universe, but not so real that the supernatural cannot be accepted. In some cases Burrows’ art actually conveys critical information to the story (note the progression of the moon throughout issue #6) that would otherwise bog down the dialog.

Contrary perhaps to many other titles, or even comics in general, the coloring in Providence plays an important role in maintaining some semblance of sanity for the reader. The colors begin as one would expect for life in New York, but quickly deteriorate into drab almost sepia tones that convey the deteriorating mental state of Mr. Black. Through issues #5 and #6, the coloring of a panel also indicates whether some situation is reality or some perverted perception of reality. While less attentive coloring wouldn’t break this series, Juan Rodriguez does not let the opportunity pass to polish up an already gleaming work

2. Injection

Warren Ellis, Jordie Bellaire, and Declan Shalvey are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. The three riff off each other to create this story as a series of flashbacks mixed in with current events. As the story unfolds it is narrated by an enigmatic figure in the form of bright yellow boxes that starkly contrast the otherwise subdued pages. Ellis does not immediately reveal the identity of this mysterious narrator, which makes the moment of understanding that much more rewarding. In this Ellis ensures that the narrative is vibrant and never stays in one place for too long. This vibrant narrative is admittedly confusing at times and, without the colorful guidance of Bellaire, could quickly lose the reader. Shalvey comes in to create a sense of physical movement in each character as they move through breathtaking environments

3. Descender

To those familiar with Jeff Lemire’s previous independent works need no other reason to read Descender. Lemire presents TIM-21 as a relic of a time before the outlaw and subsequent holocaust of androids. The narrative strolls through uncertainty and self-reflection in the mind of an android who may hold the key to understanding these recent activities. Dustin Nguyen presents this odyssey in a watercolor fashion that truly conveys a sense of wonder. For a series so focused on introspection, Nguyen conveys emotion masterfully through movement and facial expressions. This may be the best true Sci-Fi series for a while.

4. Radioactive Spider-Gwen

Due to the unexpected success of 2015’s Spider-Gwen series, our spider clad heroine gets her third introduction of the year. Radioactive Spider-Gwen reiterates some of what we already know about Gwen to bring new readers up to speed. Some would say that an entire issue is too much recap, but Jason Latour drives the story along at a comfortable pace such that the slow start can be forgiven.

As usual, the art continues to awe and inspire. Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to leave their colorful mark on every page. Keeping up with the (surprising) amount of action Latour throws at them, Rodriguez and Renzi still invent new ways to present the story. We get a POV look at Gwen slinging her way through the city among smaller images of the same event to convey movement. Together they highlight small details that make re-reading this series as rewarding as ever.

5. They’re Not Like Us

In a world of worry, planning, and lies that exist only as thoughts in the minds of stranger, the curse of hearing these thoughts would get the best of most people. How can you silence the thoughts of everyone in the world? Eric Stephenson introduces us to Syd, a girl who has determined that the only way to make it stop is to kill herself. Simon Gane presents this world with dramatic and impactful art that enhances the narrative in some clever and unique ways that would be best un-spoiled. Bellaire follows up and gives a familiar feel to an otherwise unfamiliar world.

6. UFOlogy

Beneath it’s symbols and bright hues of pink and orange on faded blue and green backdrops, UFOlogy is a coming of age story with aliens. A genre that has established itself as legitimate since the days of E.T. and persisted through the likes of Super 8, Earth to Echo, etc. In spite of this, James Tynion and Matt Fox have managed to keep UFOlogy fresh and entertaining.

7. Divinity

Divinity is the third title in Valiant Entertainment’s “Valiant Next” series. Matt Kindt keeps a straight face for the first third of issue #1 as he tells a down to earth story of Cosmonaut Abram Adams’ progress through the Soviet space program. After this slow start, the story is moved forward very quickly, skipping years and continents to continually astonish the reader. The art team, Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron give the story a timeless quality. The shuttles and space suits are vaguely historical but heavily imagined. Although Hairsine seems to be a master of establishing shots, sometimes the expressions and close ups can fall flat. Do not let those moments deter you though. This is an entertaining and rewarding read.

8. No Mercy

 

Alex de Campi fully understands the idea of looming dread. He also has completely digested the idea of a “teenager”. To use almost every stereotype of teenager as one’s prtagonists is a bold move, but to do so without seeming pandering or tongue-in-cheek is amazing. De Campi utilizes the technique of cluing in the audience without making the characters aware of some looming demise to instill dread. Throughout the series, Carla Speed McNeil is one of the best artists I had never heard of. She presents characters who are full of live and expression, truly one of the best aspects of No Mercy.

9. Age of Reptiles

Ricardo Delgado is back! Age of Reptiles returns as a shining light for the (criminally underpopulated) genre of wordless storytelling. Needless to say, the art surrounding the journey of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus is awesome. The scenery is full of life and no space is wasted. The vibrant colors pop. The Dinosaurs are unique and barbaric. It’s easy to get lost in this rich world in an age long past our own, the age of reptiles!

10. Kaijumax

For a story about a maximum-security prison for the world’s Kaiju, Kaijumax is surprisingly serious. Zander Cannon brings to life a world where even the largest monsters have personal problems. Kaijumax is a pleasant read filled with genuinely interesting characters and bright cartoonist artwork. A real treat!

 

Kuliebear

Writer: House Of Flying Scalpels

 

1. Low

Remender has had another good year but it is Greg Tocchini that has made this book shine so incredibly. The story does not play out as you would expect but more like chapters that barely follow on from one another. But as each comic forms a unit of an overall story, they each have well-structured ideas and a character that truly suffers and transitions from beginning to end. The art is so unique and beautiful that what seems a little obscure becomes very familiar very quickly: just wonderful each and every time.

 

2. Ms Marvel

As a man of Indian descent I am very akin to Kamala and her heritage. This is the first time that I felt like a book was intimately related to me, and it feels very odd but amazing at the same time. Having gone through similar family turmoil, I fully appreciate the back-story at hand. But G Willow Wilson is expert at having a hero being effective and fearful at the same time, but overcome those odds to become amazing. Whether it is Miyazawa or Alphona on the art, as long as Herring is colouring, it feels very homely.

 

3. The Wicked + The Divine

The end of the original arc was devastating and quite upsetting as we lose yet another character, but the specialist single issues featuring guest artists were also incredible. The Tara issue saw Tula Lotay being emotional in an issue that was truly disturbing but also befitting of the story. I very much look forward to the rest of the story, but with a touch of trepidation.

 

4. Invisible Republic

The political machinations of this book are very well described and subtly revealed. The first arc was brilliant in its ability to start with a simple murder cover up but lead onto a story about how a dictator came to lead. That level of powerful story telling required a solid story but also an impressive artist that was capable of the gravity of the task. Hardman and Boyd are up to that task and create a guttural and intense society in need of repair.

 

5. Southern Bastards

It used to all be about Earl Tubb but that was a long time ago. Now we have seen the second arc pass with the tragedy of Euless Boss’ origin and also snap issues of other members of the community. These were very compelling and also terrifying tales of prominent members of that community and indicated how enough was soon to be enough. Earl Tubb’s death will not be for nothing as the Jason’s make for unmissable reading.

 

6. Rasputin

Riley Rossmo has a beautiful ability to produce emotive responses from Rasputin that depicted the turmoil and weight of his past. Both of Grecian’s arcs were fantastic in their story and brining together of a true story and yet a modern twist to a character that died many years ago. Utterly fantastic to look at and a joy to read.

 

7. Gotham Academy

As Ms Marvel delivers in a naïve yet enthusiastic way, Academy delivers in an exuberant and adventurous one. The writing is quite sweet and very akin to teenage life but it is the sense of wonder and exploration that this book captures, that makes it so fun to read. Kerschl and Msassyk deliver a stunning cell shaded effect to their work but it is fun and caricaturist for a teenage book.

 

8. Daredevil

I said a fond farewell to this book because Waid and Samnee produced their final issue. And what a run it was, ending with a finale that changed all we knew about Daredevil but they took him to a place where he belonged and was happy to go to. It made sense because they made it make sense and I loved every issue of it. His relationship with Kirsten and with Foggy developed in tune and his own insecurities brought out into the open. I shall miss this book dearly.

 

9. Mind MGMT

Matt Kindt has never produced a comic as good as this one. That is not a surprise given that he had full control of it and produced it month in, month out for years. The story progressed to a fantastic finale that was befitting of all the mystery and magical powers that we have seen since issue one. Meru was a beautiful central character that was worthy of the weight placed on her, and Kindt’s imprecise watercolours became the only way to tell this story.

 

10. Secret Wars

It seems wrong that Hickman’s books don’t feature higher on this list but it has been a slow year. Secret Wars has come and not gone but the Marvel universe has moved on around it. This is a problem but despite the tie-ins and the delays, it has generally been wonderful. The story has taken its classic slow twists and turns but the art is stunning. Each Ribic page will blow your mind in its depth and dexterity. It is a befitting end to Hickman’s run but we are still waiting for it.

 

Jaythreadbear

Writer at: Jaythreadbear

 

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of comic book runs that I have had a hell of a lot of fun reading this year; these are the ones for which I counted down days, constantly re-read previous issues, and told everyone I know to go buy them immediately:
They’re Not Like Us
This truly has been an stand out book for me this year; a constant source of both amazing writing and beautiful artwork. It’s really a disservice to the book to describe it this way, but it is almost like a contemporary retelling of the X-Men, with Magneto taking the place of Professor X. The plight of ostracized minorities and those considered ‘different’ is still in there, but instead of costumed super heroics there is brutal vigilante justice, and in place of sage guidance from a wise mutant there is an insidiousness and paranoia at every turn. In a year when X-Men comics were really not very good it has been a great relief to find a book that takes a similar concept and then tells a fresh and compelling story with it. They’re Not Like Us is a brilliant, dark, and thrilling book, and that is even before you take into account the outstanding art and colouring in every panel on every page.
Batgirl
Despite faltering somewhat in it’s sophomore arc this book remains a pleasure to read, due largely to the ever joyous artwork from Babs Tarr (the colouring from Serge LaPointe has been consistently wonderful too). Tarr’s art continues to elevate the book, even as the story elements that made the first arc such a success have fallen by the wayside. The overarching mystery that underpinned the narrative, the establishment of Barbara Gordon’s new life & friends in Burnside, the integration of contemporary visual elements like phone screens and playlists, and even the complex layouts demonstrating Batgirl using her eidetic memory, have all been oddly sadly absent. Fortunately there’s still that art from Babs Tarr, and a winning supporting cast that still make the book a strong read.
Descender
Of all the great new indie scifi books this year Jeff Lemire’s futuristic fable is the one that has captured my imagination most utterly. Following a cataclysmic and unexplained event (featuring giant Galactus sized robots!) a futuristic inter-planetary society spends decades picking up the pieces and persecuting the few regular sized robots that remain. The discovery of a particular AI, in the form of a small boy, brings together a ragtag band of unlikely heroes on a quest that really isn’t clear yet, but damn do I want to know where it goes next. The art is stunning, the characters are broadly drawn but engaging, and the universe is magnificent – this is Star Wars meets AI meets Darren Aronofsky, and it is sublime.
Prez
On paper this book sounds awful; the zany adventures of the first teen President of the United States. On actual comic book paper it is awesome. Besides anything else the top-notch art is by Ben Caldwell, someone who I’ve been waiting for more work from ever since he blew me away with his Wonder Woman pages way back in Wednesday Comics. And alongside those excellent visuals is a wonderfully sharp and pointed political satire, tackling everything from lobbyists to corporations to healthcare policy. Against the backdrop of an exaggerated, explicitly corrupt, hyper-capitalist America, writer Mark Russell works wonders telling an interesting, personal story about Beth Rogers, aforementioned teen President, but also manages to weave some genuinely worthwhile political debate into the book too. The first volume wrapped up this year, with another 6 issues allegedly planned for 2016 (sales sadly haven’t been great) – quite frankly EVERYONE should buy this so that we definitely get more issues!
Silver Surfer
If there is a character whose comic I never thought I would be at all engrossed by, even more so than teen President Rogers, it was the Silver Surfer. And yet, every month the combined talents of storytellers Dan Slott and Mike Allred have come up with outlandish, inventive, heartwarming, heartbreaking, space adventures for Norrin and his companion Dawn Greenwood to go on. This book is like the best of Star Trek and Doctor Who and Red Dwarf rolled in to one, and for every imaginative plot there is an innovative artistic representation to go with it (the time loop issue that has to be read backwards and forwards in a physical loop is a particularly stunning example). And not only is it a fun book with goofy aliens and comedy and spectacular space encounters, but the relationship at it’s heart, the blossoming love between Norrin and Dawn, is genuinely the most engaging romance in contemporary comics – it is lovely and realistic (in space!) and believable. Silver Surfer is somehow both a madcap adventure through the galaxy and a wonderful drama, and every issue is a marvel.

Diversity in Comics

So I have felt some rumblings for awhile about the addition of diversity in comics. This includes any change in a persons race, gender, or sexuality. For this rant I’ll focus on Captain America being black, and Thor being a woman. Comics are an ever evolving and changing medium. Often the trends in society affect comics (and trends in comics affect society), the effect of this has led to a more diverse cast of characters. To this I say good. Before female Thor I had no interest in reading Thor. He came across as a hulking brute (admittedly with beautiful hair), who liked to smash things with a hammer…..bor-ing. The addition of a now female Thor has led to a more nuanced character with several levels of personality. Shes funny, witty, intriguing, and still kicks butt. Overall a large improvement on old Odinson. As for Captain America, Steve Rogers is like a billion years old and he decided to retire and pass his mantle on to some one else. That someone happened to be Sam Wilson (formerly the Falcon), who also just happens to be black. Whats the big deal!? Sam was a sidekick of Caps and a close friend. It makes perfect sense for him to step into that role. So I have no problems with it.

black-captain-america

The second thing that makes me mad is when people say “You have to uphold the integrity of the creators characters”. When utilizing this argument you have to realize the context in which the characters were created. The two listed up above were created between the 40s’60s. That era in Americas history was much more close minded about diversity than we are today. So even if the creators had wanted to put a black person as, say, Captain America, there’s no way that would have been published. Society then was going through such a shake up, and the powers at be would never have let that happen. We are in a much better place now, for comics to more properly reflect the true diversity of America than we were then.

Another argument people use (which usually is a thinly veiled attempt to not appear racist) is “Why don’t they just make new ethnic characters?” The answer is they are. You can look to the big two and see some expanding of diversity in new characters (Ms. Marvel, Silk, etc.). Where the big explosion really is is in the indie market. Companies such as Image, Boom!, and Dark Horse just to name a few, really put out great works with a large amount of diversity. Often these series are creator owned (meaning the are created by the writers and artist, and they maintain the rights to the characters). This lends some credibility to the idea that when given the opportunity to work with a more diverse palette, creators often will. Which would seem to validate my last point

I guess to sum it up: Stop complaining and enjoy this era of comics we are in. There’s much more diversity, which leads to more interesting and layered story telling, and fresh new and exciting characters. Society, like comics, is not static. Its dynamic. Ever evolving ever changing. I think our comics should be the same.