Coloring Between the Lines: Matthew Wilson

Hello Revuers! Sorry for the absences a of late, but we are officially back. What better way to return than with an interview with one of the top colorists in the game today: Matthew Wilson! We appreciate Matthew for his time and are grateful to him for answering our questions. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we do!

 

Hello Matt, Thanks for agreeing to this interview!

 

  • How long have you been a colorist?

I started coloring for Lee Loughridge’s coloring studio, Zylonol Studios in 2003. I first colored books under my own name, and colored less for Zylonol between 2007-2009.

 

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

No, not really. I liked to draw, paint, and sculpt as a kid and wanted to do any of those things when I grew up. I read comics as a kid, but never thought of coloring as a career I might have one day. I took a class on digital coloring for comics in college, and enjoyed it. I only began coloring comics as a job because Zylonol was located in the same town as my college and I applied to work there after I graduated. It was one of the only places locally that I thought I might like to work. One thing led to another and now it’s 13 years later and I’ve colored a lot of comic books.

 

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

Hm. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collections they put out in the early 90’s. The colored collections, not the original black and white comics. I wasn’t aware of them until I saw the collections in a bookstore. Then, around the same time was the death of Superman, and then the creation of Image comics by a bunch of creators that I already liked from reading their previous work. Another early influence was Marvel and DC trading cards, because there was a card shop near my house that I could ride my bike to after school, and buy cards. Also, Batman The Animated Series was something else I was really in to as a kid.

 

  • Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?

If I had to pick, I guess I’d pick other genres, but I like reading both superhero books and non-superhero books.

 

  • Who is your favorite superhero?

Hm, that’s a tough one. Probably Batman if I’m picking just one. Or maybe Spider-Man.

 

  • Who is your favorite non superhero character?

Hellboy, maybe? Or maybe John Constantine. Again, that’s tough.

 

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

Hellboy or Hellblazer in terms of all-time favorite. More recently I’ve really enjoyed East of West, Lazarus, The Autumnlands, and Southern Bastards.

 

  • What is your process like for coloring?

Black and white pages come from the publisher, I give them to my flatter. He puts in flat colors so it’s easier for me to select areas to color. I then read the script and look over the pages to get an idea of how I want to color the issue. I tend to work on an entire scene at one time, if I can. I’ll set the palette for the scene. Then, I’ll color the backgrounds in all the pages, then go back and color all the characters in the pages.. Lastly I’ll do any of the glows or coloring of the lines for things like powers or explosions. I tend to spend about 1 to 2 hours on a page on average.

 

  • How do you choose a color palette?

I usually look for a story reason first. For example, is there an emotion I can help bring out in the color that will help better tell the story? Or do I need to indicate a particular time of day or a specific kind of lighting? I want to make sure the colors are servicing the story. Then I look at what the artist has given me to work with. Have they set up an interesting light source? Is there a clear indication of the time of day, or something in the environment that might suggest a certain color? Then I’ll also take other scenes in to consideration when picking the palette for the scene I’m working on. Like, what came before? What’s happening in the next scene? I like to have an obvious change in palette when the story changes scenes. So, for example, if we’re inside a laboratory in one scene, then we exit the lab to find it’s in the middle of a desert I want to make sure the lab and the desert don’t use similar palettes. And my choice for the lab palette will be very different if the story shows the next scene to be in the middle of the arctic or something, rather than a desert. So I like to know the context around each scene before deciding on a palette.

 

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

That’s a tough question to answer because I work on so many that I’m probably forgetting an older one that I really enjoyed. And also, as I try to get better at coloring all the time, I tend to like my current projects more because I feel like I’m doing better work now than I did in the past. For example, I worked with Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman for 3 years, and after that we moved to working on Paper Girls for the last 2 years. I like our work on Paper Girls much more than what I did on Wonder Woman, but that’s because it’s more current, and I believe I’ve gotten better at coloring. But yeah, some of my favorite projects recently are certainly Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing at DC. Daredevil and Black Widow, both with Chris Samnee at Marvel. The last few years of Thor with Russell Dauterman at Marvel. And many of my collaborations with Jamie McKelvie, including Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine, and Young Avengers.

 

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

There’s a series coming out at Image called Black Cloud that I think will be interesting. It’s written by Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon, with art by Greg Hinkle and colors by me. The premise of the story is allowing for some wildly varying visuals, and really pushing me in different directions depending on the scene.

 

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

Probably my all time favorite is Dave Stewart. His work is what inspired me to keep getting better when I was first starting out. Currently, I’m always amazed when I see something colored by Bettie Breitweiser, Jordie Bellaire, Tamra Bonvillain, Nathan Fairbairn, Jordan Boyd, Nolan Woodard, Frank Martin, Dave McCaig, Nick Filardi, Kelly Fitzpatrick…. And probably just as many names that I’m forgetting. Honestly, there’s SO many good colorists doing interesting work now. Not to mention artists that are fantastic at coloring themselves like Jen Bartel and Kris Anka and Ryan Browne.

 

  • Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?

Just about everyone I mentioned in the last answer, for sure. In terms of art history, or more historical influences, I’ve always been partial to impressionist painters. My earliest influence on how powerful of a tool that color palettes could be was the Rouen Cathedral series of paintings by Claude Monet. Another artist I like to cite in these kinds of answers is Japanese artist Hiroshi Yoshida. He was a 20th century painter and printmaker. His prints were amazing.

 

  • I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on The Wicked and the Divine, especially how your color art is an intricate part of the story telling. How did you build the aesthetic for that book?

A lot of discussion with the rest of the creative team, building on work we had done together as a team on previous works, and trial and error with different ideas for depicting the god’s abilities and performances. We set out knowing we wanted it to look like something “more” than a typical depiction of superhero powers. So pushing things further than I might go on a superhero book was important. We passed a lot of inspiration images back and forth from things like fashion photography and music videos. The fact that the gods are pop stars meant we took a lot of influence from pop culture. Overall, I’m still using the same framework of how I approach coloring a book, but for this book the pieces I bolt on to that framework just happen to be a bit more neon and glow-y.

 

  • In issue 8 of the wicked and the divine your color work is used as a visual aide for the reader, how did you come up with that idea?

That was one of the hardest issues of coloring I’ve ever done. Not because the technical aspects of coloring took me any longer than other books. But the conceptual part was very time consuming. I came up with new palettes on every page, and sometimes in every panel of the page. Trying to figure out how to convey the experience Laura was going through while being influenced by Dio’s powers was a big challenge. One of the biggest ways we could help the reader “feel” what Laura was feeling was how the pages are colored. Things like the tempo of the party and her experience were noted in the script, and I had to try and make sure the colors matched that tempo. Higher contrast, more saturated when the tempo sped up. And then less saturated and intense when the tempo slowed down. This was another instance of using contrasting palettes to really sell each scene. The pages before and after the party are intentionally less saturated and a bit duller in terms of color. That way, when the party scene starts and I use a bunch of saturated colors, they seem even more saturated and brighter because the previous scenes were so dull.

 

 

  • You have worked with the team of Gillen and McKelvie and with Waid and Samnee on a couple of series’ now, what’s it like to have that level of understanding built with the other members of a creative team?

Long term collaborations are great, because we’re able to really understand each other. Kieron can write to Jamie or my strengths and know we’ll pull off the idea he’s trying to convey. For my part, it means the artist and I can work out exactly how to set up the files to get the best result. Like, any time Jamie draws a god’s crazy power it’s usually on a separate layer so I can easily experiment with it in color. The same goes for Russell’s art on Thor. Each issue we learn something, and as you do dozens of issues together all that accumulated knowledge builds up and makes the process easier and gives us great opportunities to experiment. Working with the same artists for so long also lets us grow and evolve as artists, because we can try different things based on what we liked or didn’t like in our past work. How Jamie or Russell or Samnee are drawing the current issues of our projects has evolved from how they drew earlier issues. And I’ve subtly changed how I color them too. From issue to issue it may be hard to spot, but over time we’re always changing our approach in little ways.

 

  • You have a very distinctive visual style, how did you cultivate that aesthetic?

I have no idea, honestly! I did not set out to cultivate this style. And I’m not even sure I could telly what my “style” is. I kind of feel like I don’t have one, but I hear people say they recognize my colors, so I must have something people identify. But, like most artists, the style is probably a result of the influences I consume and how those influences get pieced together in to the art that I make.

 

  • Burritos or coneys?

I probably like burritos more but I definitely eat more hotdogs.

 

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

JJ’s Red Hots in Charlotte, North Carolina is my favorite hotdog place.

 

  • What’s your favorite convention?

Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I don’t really have one, I don’t think. I get to work on so many different projects every year, with so many different collaborators that I’m kept busy and fulfilled, which doesn’t leave me much time to dream about future collaborations.

 

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

A park ranger!

 

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

Some small technical things on certain books, but creatively I’m given a lot of freedom regardless of if the book is work for hire for the big 2 or a creator owned book.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite artists to work with?

All of my regular collaborators like Jamie McKelvie, Cliff Chiang, Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman, and Kris Anka. I did a bunch of Secret Avengers issues with Michael Walsh and they were a ton of fun to do. Greg Hinkle, who I’m coloring on the upcoming Black Cloud is an amazing artist that’s incredibly fun to color.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite writers to work with?

Again, my regulars are great: Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Brian K Vaughan, Mark Waid. Coloring Star-Lord is the first time I’ve worked with Chip Zdarsky, and he’s been really enjoyable to work with. I only worked with Matt Fraction once, on a Mandarin annual, but he put a lot of thought in to the color when writing that story and that was an enjoyable assignment.

 

  • Who’s your favorite character to color?

Hard to say, as I’m more in to storytelling with palettes than I am in to coloring a specific character. Thor has been fun because it’s been pretty much a straight up fantasy book with some sci-fi visuals. So that’s allowed me to do some really fun and wildly varied palettes. I can say for sure that I often hate coloring red costumes, and I usually don’t like coloring shiny metal. So, I guess it’s good I don’t work on Iron Man!

 

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

Black Widow, and I already did it! I enjoy spy stories, so that was a lot of fun to help create the look of one in the latest run of Black Widow. I’ve never worked on a Batman book, and would like to do that one day. But I’d probably want to do some kind of stand alone Elseworlds type story where it’s Batman in the 1920’s or something. And another answer I could give would be anything Hellboy. But I’d never want to try and fill Dave Stewart’s shoes.

 

  • As the comic book industry moves more digital do you feel like there’s been a shift in the industry to recognize the importance of Color Artist?

Yes, but not really because of the trends toward digital. I think the art of coloring is becoming more appreciated as it matures. Digital coloring isn’t that old, it’s only been around a few decades at this point. And the tools we’re using to color have really only become widely accessible even more recently than that. So you’ve got the tools getting better together with the colorists, and artist that color themselves, getting better at using those tools and the result is coloring is getting better and better. A lot of the traditional inking techniques were developed to convey information that older coloring methods could not. Hatching for shading and showing volume in a shape, things like that. Now, there isn’t anything that color can’t convey, and artists have responded to that by sometimes making less marks in black and white and leaving it up to the color to convey those elements of the art. So the role of the colorist has grown more important as their ability to bring substantive additions to the page and the story has grown.

 

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

 

 

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New Comic book Day Top 5: Sept 21st

Hello Revuers! Another great comic book day is upon us! Which means it’s time to take a look at my top 5 most anticipated comic coming out tomorrow. This week there was, once again, some stiff competition. But in the end there could be only 1…..er I mean 5! Tell me what you think of my picks in the comment section below, and let me know what’s on your pull list or what you are most looking forward to.

 

5: Horizon #3

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Horizon from Writer Brandon Thomas and artist Juan Gedeon has been a fun and often surprising comic so far. It takes a very common place idea and puts a unique and fresh spin on it. The first two issues were very solid with great world building from Thomas and Gedeon. The third issue has promised to show us our first glimpse at a villain so I am excited for that. If you haven’t had this series on your pull list you may want to rethink your priorities.

 

4: Mighty Thor #11

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This series from the acclaimed team of Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson continues with what is being billed as the Team up no one expected. I have been following Thor since Jane Foster first took over the mantle after the events of Original Sin. Before that I had never been much of a Thor guy as I always found him to be sort of one note. This new Thor is an evolving, relateable character with a ton of nuance. We can thank Jason Aaron for that. This series is one of few that has always been on my pull list for the last two years and it’s looking like it’s place is firmly cemented there.

 

3: Batman #7

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This issue starts a new arc for Tom King and sees a new artist, Riley Rossmo, take over art duties. The title of this arc is called NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, and is a continuing story over all of the Batman titles. I don’t know much about this story arc other than it involves mad science monster. Really though, do I need to know any more than that? I love the writings of Tom King and the art of Riley Rossmo, so you know that I’m in 100%

 

2: Patsy Walker: AKA Hellcat #10

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I have loved this series from the very first issue. Kate Leth, Brittany Williams and Megan Wilson have crafted a world that is so fun to explore each and every month. This issue sees the end of the series’ second arc! It has been an excellent series for the first 9 issues and I expect no different from this issue. I’m excited for the future of the series and saddened by the departure of Megan Wilson (if you would like to read the interview we did with her then click here)

 

1: Wicked & Divine 1831 (one shot)

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I love this series. Thecreative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cawles can do no wrong in my mind. This issue looks interesting as it i a one shot set in the past. 1831 to be exact. I like the idea of a sort of anthology of the Pantheon, and looking at them in the past. I think that’s an interesting concept. The art in this issue is by Stephanie Hans (Journey Into Mystery, Angela), who I really enjoy. Should be a great issue!

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Tales From the Pull List (07/14/2016): Here in a Flash

Hello Revuers it’s time for another edition of Tales From the Pull List. This week I’m posting a day late because I was not able to pic up my books until today. Overall a solid week with Rebirth continuing to impress over at DC. I currently have 5 titles on pre-order from DC comics, which is way higher than I have ever had on a pull list from them before. Another oddity about this weeks pull is I had no Marvel titles on my list. Usually my list is dominated by Marvel titles but this week they are completely absent. Looking ahead that changes next week. Enough about next week though, let’s take a look at this weeks pull list.

 

Pick of the Week

The Flash #2: This weeks continuation of The Flash by Joshua Williamson (writer), Carmine Di Giandomenico (artist), and Ivan Plascencia (Colorist) gives us our first glimpse of Central City’s newest speedster. In the last issue we were reintroduced to Detective August Heart, a friend of Barry’s, who at the end of the issue was struck by lightening (much like a certain Scarlet Speedster). In this issue we see Detective Heart learning how to use his powers with help from Barry. This also serves as a way to familiarize new Flash readers to some of Barry’s powers without having to slow the story down by going through a list of his powers (remember this is technically a reboot so being only the second issue they needed a way to showcase some of Barry’s powers). We see Wind Vortexes, Phasing, creating a tornado, and of course running. After the training montage we get our first glimpse of our new Kid Flash, young Wally West (not to be confused with old Wally West). We also get introduced to Iris in this issue. The middle of the issue serves as a philosophical debate with the morality of what the speedster can do and what they should do being questioned. Barry begins to wonder why the speed force chose to make more speedsters and what it means for his future. At the end of the issue there’s a surprise that I won’t ruin for you. Just go buy the book! The story by Williamson is fast paced and intriguing. The premise of what speedsters can do versus what they should do is also an interesting concept to explore. The art team of Giandomenico and Plascencia deliver a beautiful issue full of lightening and burst of color. If you only buy one book this week, this should be it. Rating: 9/10

 

Buy

The Wicked + The Divine #21: This third story arc continues with a bang. Finally the lines are crossed between the “good” Gods and the “bad” Gods (good being relative). The good Gods with Persephone to lead them charge into Ananke’s fortress to save a fellow God from being a sacrificial lamb. The excellent story telling continues fueled by the best creative team in the business: Kieron Gillen (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). Plus this issues features Woden using his Valkyries to create a giant energy sword wielding robot. Rating: 8/10

Horizon #1: A story about an alien crash landing on earth paves the way for a story that is unpredictable and exciting. The team of writer Brandon Thomas, Artist Juan Gedeon, and Colorist Frank Martin deliver an interesting and unique story of alien invasion of earth. Or is that what it really is?  Rating 7/10

Batman Detective Comics #936: How exciting is it to be back to the original lettering for Detective Comics? With a release date of twice a month, they could presumably reach issue 1000 by 2019. This issue focuses on Batwoman, and Batwoman fighting her inner demons in order to lead the team. We discover who is behind the new team hunting the bat team, and learn some of Batwoman’s backstory. All in all a solid issue. Rating 7/10

 

-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

 

 

Tales From the Pull list (Jan. 27th): Rebs running wild again

Hell Revuers. This week was a lighter week for me with only three books coming out that were on my pull list. That being said the three that I ended up with were all great. It was a close race for pick of the week but in the end the old tried and true team of the Jason’s (Aaron and Latour) won it. Without further delay here is my Tales from the Pull list

Pick Of The Week

Southern Bastards #13: Everything about this issue was a win for me. On the surface it was a simple tale of a homecoming football game, but on  deeper level it was about what it means to be a REB. Fight, determination, and a whole lot of language. The issues dives in after the suicide of Boss’ closest confidant and companion (because the Jason’s like to kill everyone we like). It’s homecoming and the REBs are down, for the first time in a long time. The pressure is on Boss like it’s never been, Can he handle it without his most trusted ally, can he inspire the boys to come back from a 20-3 deficit at half time? Well if you want to find out, go buy the book. The art continues a strong showing from Jason Latour. Who also colors the book. The colors that are used are all earth tones with varying shades of red, brown, grey, and some muted green thrown in. The colors really establish just what kind of place Craw County really is and sets the tone for the issue (and the series as a whole). The cover art is really what stands out. The earth tones I spoke of earlier have always been featured in the covers. Always muted and earth toned. This issue the cover is sky blue, which happens to be the color of the Runnin’ Rebs arch rival the Wetumpka Warriors (who they are facing during the home coming game). Could this cover be an indication of what is to come? Maybe…….Rating: 8.5/10

 

BUY

Cry Havoc: The marketing has stated that this series is “It’s not abut a lesbian werewolf going to war except it kind of is”. It turns out that that is exactly what it is. Sorta. The story is set in three different time periods: The Beginning, The middle, and The End. This is emphasized by having three different colorist coloring the three different sections. Not only does it have three separate colorist, all three of them happen to be elite colorists (Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, and Matt Wilson). This device helps the reader stay immersed in the story and helps them understand what section they are currently reading. Without this device Cry Havoc would be confusing and frustrating. With this device it turned into a surprise enjoyment and an intriguing mystery.

All-New All-Different Avengers #4: This was a simple filler issue that served to do some character building. Being as that’s what it was it was successful. The last mini arch was so action filled it was hard to get a sense of what the team was and how it would function. After this issue it’s more clear what roles each of the members play. Plus the added a layer of secrecy that could be the driving point of the next arch. Overall a successful, if slightly dull, issue. Rating: 6/10

Half Year Top 10 List

Hello Revuers! It’s hard to believe that June is upon us! With that the first six months of 2015 are behind us. So now its time to take a look back at our favorite series’ so far. To do so I have once again enlisted the aide of some of my friends! Some headings are clickable so feel free to check out the contributors blogs, they all do an excellent job.

Andrew Horton

The last 6 months have brought a plethora of exciting changes in the big two, and some interesting new series from the Indie side of things. In this list I’ll be breaking down my ten favorite so far:

10. Spidergwen (Marvel)

This would have made it higher on the list if it weren’t for Secret Wars. The first two issues were great, and then it felt like they had to rush what they wanted to do and cut things out. Leaving the last few issues feeling a little hollow. I do love the creative team on this (Jason Latour is a fantastic writer and a true professional, Robbi and Rico combine to make beautiful art), and I am excited for what they have in store for post Secret Wars Gwen.

9. Groot (Marvel)

Fantastic start to a series that has great promise. I am glad it exists in a bubble outside of the events of Secret Wars. Groot is down right adorable, and his (her?) facial expressions really steal the show. I cant wait to see what new hi-jinx will befall Groot in the future.

8. Silver Surfer (Marvel)

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 this series is also suffering from the events of Secret Wars. The last two or three issues have felt a bit stagnate as if they are just filling time until Hickmans saga comes to a close. It still makes it to this spot on the list, but only because its so dang pretty to look at.

7. Thor (Marvel)

When I first heard there was going to be a female Thor I was excited! I had never been able to get into Thor before because it felt (either justly or unjustly on my part) to me like he was a big brute with a hammer that liked to smash things. Having a change really felt fresh and seemed to open up a whole other dimension for the character. I am happy to report that I was correct. female Thor is one of my favorite major changes to the status quo of all time! Jason Aaron also did a great job of completing a whole arc before Secret Wars began, managing to avoid the pit fall of a couple sires before this one on this list. The art has improved from the first few issues, making this title one of the most well rounded on this list.

6. Secret Wars (Marvel)

Hickmans Avengers and New Avengers saga finally comes to a head. The multiverse is dead and now all that remains is batteworld!!! At the helm is the Lord God Doom. Overall this is a fun event with interesting religious themes peppered through out. Its fun to see different heroes in new ways. The premise is exciting and it feels very well planned out. I am convinces Hickman is a mad genius or exists in a higher plane of sentience than I do.

5. Descender (Image)

Finally we move away from Marvel for number five on this list. Descender is a tale of a futuristic society that has sustained an attack by giant androids. It then scrambles to figure out where they came from and how to defend themselves. The answers lie with a rejected scientist and a small Android boy named Tim. This title feels much like a book that could have been written by Phillip Dick, or George Orwell, or some combination of the two. Its exciting and I cant wait to see what Lemire thinks Androids dream of.

4. Southern Cross (Image)

This is the first title on this list to feature the word Southern in it. This is another Sci-fi adventure, set on a ship. Southern Cross is a bit of a genre blender melding some horror aspects in to the sci-fi story. Personally I love it. I think the setting of a ship in transit lends itself well to a horror element. Through the first 5 issues we are left with more questions than answered questions, with each new issue opening it’s own can of worms. The art is phenomenal and adds a whole other element the the book.

3. Gotham Academy (DC)

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.

2. The Wicked and the Divine

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

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.

Again, Jason Aaron and Jason Latour have created a masterpiece.

Jaythreadbear

Hasty scribbler on comics and culture // My top ten of the year so far:

Batgirl

The reinvention of Barbara Gordon by the creative team of Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr, is one of the real success stories at DC in recent years. The setting, character, and stories have all been revamped, replaced, or refined and it is much the better for it. Barbara now operates in a world of apps, social media, and public perception, areas that the rest of the Bat-family (and most superhero books) have yet to engage with, and the smart takes on contemporary culture mesh perfectly with the witty and aware writing that permeates the book. Plus Tarr’s art is wonderful.

Bitch Planet

Kelly Sue DeConnick has been writing many great titles recently, but perhaps the best is Bitch Planet. Taking sexploitation and pulp scifi B-movie tropes and reworking them into a powerful feminist message this book is intensely character driven at the same time as developing an intriguing and sophisticated setting and ever so compelling plot.

Elektra

This globe-trotting martial arts extravaganza from writer Hayden Blackman and artist Mike Del Mundo came to a close earlier this year, but it warrants a mention here due to its genuine brilliance. The writing was tight and inventive, the characterisation was rich and deep, and the art was truly sublime. If you didn’t have a chance to read this when it was coming out then it is well worth picking up in trade; if you like ninjas, beautiful page layouts, ninjas, creative storytelling, or ninjas then you won’t be disappointed.

Gotham Academy

The ‘young Gotham’ sub-brand at DC (that also includes Batgirl and the newly launched Black Canary) is where the best DC titles are coming from right now. Inventing a Hogwarts-esque prep school for the children of Gotham’s high society has paid off with spooky stories, exciting mysteries, and teen drama. This book may be aimed at the YA audience, but the knowing writing from Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher, and the lovely art from Karl Kerschl, make this a rewarding read for everyone else too. It’s fresh and fun and different.

Secret Wars

Several years in the making and coming after a fatiguing run of self-destructive Marvel summer event books it has been a very pleasant surprise to find that this mini-series is actually really good. The Marvel multi-verse has been reshaped with different versions of many classic heroes and stories all existing together on a single patchwork planet under the rule of god himself, Victor Von Doom. As the tie in books (many of which are also great) continue to explore the alternate versions of our heroes the core book has been expertly telling a character driven drama about an impending political upheaval. If you want bombastic universe wide storytelling with every Marvel hero in the mix then this is a very good option.

Silk

Much like Batgirl this book has a playful contemporary tone, a kick-ass yet nuanced leading woman, and accessibly delightful art from Stacey Lee. Cindy Moon is an interesting new character in the Spider-family having arrived on the scene in the Spider-Verse event, and she is characterised in the sassy yet vulnerable mold of classic Peter Parker. The core narrative has played with deep issues like abandonment and post-traumatic stress whilst keeping the fast paced hi-jinks coming. There have been a few bumps in the road (including some underwhelming fill-in art) but the central mystery of the book and Cindy herself keep this a compelling read.

Silver Surfer

It feels like I’m constantly talking up how surprising this book has been, but it is worthy of the praise. The pitch, and indeed opening arc, was one of goofy inconsequential science fiction fun with the Surfer and his new pal Dawn, and whilst this book has certainly delivered on the goofy and the fun it has been anything but inconsequential. The story has taken on a wonderfully romantic slant as the Surfer and Dawn have grown to know each other, and this has been followed by some tender, tragic, and touching stuff as the Surfer’s past has caught up with him. The art is tremendous and the story telling is top notch – this is an inventive and rewarding book that I never expected.

Spider-Gwen

This book started strong, very strong, and although the art and colouring remains stunning the central arc has become a little bit directionless. That’s not to say this isn’t worth picking up, in fact it remains a brilliant reinvention of the Spider-Man universe with some great characters in play; Gwen in particular (unsurprisingly) is an exciting and refreshing lead.

They’re Not Like Us

This indie title takes the cliche of many superhero origin stories and uses it to delve into the darker corners of human insecurity. Syd discovers, in the middle of a suicide attempt, that her mental condition is actually a powerful gift, and that there are others like her with whom she can be safe, train, and take action in the world. But rather than use their powers to protect the people that hate and fear them this group are intent on taking what they want and punishing anyone they thing deserves it. This is such an intense, thoughtful, and beautifully drawn book that it might be my favourite of the year; the questions it raises are universal, and the rare answers it offers are ambiguous, complex, and challenging.

All-New X-Men #37

And I’ll finish with a contentious possibly rule breaking choice – I’m not that interested in Brian Michael Bendis’ lukewarm All-New X-Men run, but this one issue was simply so sublime that it stands alone as one of the best books of the year to date. Featuring stunning art and page layouts from Mike Del Mundo, perfect colour work again from Del Mundo working with Marco D’Alfonso, and some career high writing from Bendis this issue tells a very small story exceptionally well. Featuring a cast stripped back to essentially just young Jean Grey and Emma Frost Bendis is still able to work in witty dialogue, subtle character development, intense action, and a positive moral message. This issue does everything right, and for my money it is easily worth 6 issues of many other books

The Burning Blogger of Bedlam

Spiderwoman

As a long-time Jessica Drew fan (she’s one of my favorite characters),

I was excited as hell for her to have her own, fresh solo title. I

haven’t been disappointed. The first few issues of the Spiderwoman

series have been highly enjoyable, packed with humour and that famous

Jessica Drew wit, good character dynamics, some really well written

cameos (Carol Danvers, Steve Rogers, Silk, Spiderman, Spider-Gwen),

and particularly in Spiderwoman #1 some fascinating settings brought

to life by terrific art and absorbing colours.

Silk

In Cindy Moon we have a really rich new character with a substantial

backstory, a well-developed emotional core and a witty repetoire, all

of which makes her both interesting enough and likeable enough to

carry her own series. The first couple of issues of this series, while

not overly elaborate (I’m guessing after ‘Spider-Verse’, no one really

wants ‘overly elaborate’ anyway), do a nice, neat job of establishing

her on her own and getting us into her head-space. This series has a

really vintage sort of feel to it, in the art and in the internal

monologue among other thigs, and Silk comes across as the real female

Spiderman. Addictive.

Uncanny Avengers

Rebooted somewhat after the ‘Axis’ event, I’ve been surprised by how

awesoem this series is so far. For starters, the art is fantastic,

feeling somewhat unique among Marvel titles in its style. But the

character dynamics are interesting too; Rogue is still by far the best

thing in it (making up somewhat for the majorly dull Sam Wilson), but

the still ‘inverted’ (as in good) Sabertooth adds something new to the

mix (even if he is being turned into essentially the new Wolverine),

and Vision is always a top-draw character to focus page-space on. On

top of that, Counter-Earth and the High Evolutionary are more than

adequate settings and themes to return to. Hell, it’s even made Wanda

and Pietro Maximoff enjoyable to read again.

Darth Vader

As psychological subjects for a comic-book go, they don’t come much

richer than the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader… or the Artist

Formerly Known as Anakin Skywalker. While other characters might be

the most loveable, the coolest, the funniest or the niftiest, Vader is

undeniably the most psychologically complex. He is therefore almsot

the perfect fictional legend to base a comic-book series around, and

this series so far has been suitably compelling.

Star Wars

I told myself that I wasn’t even going to read any of these Star Wars

comics, as I didn’t want to mix two of my loves – Star Wars and Marvel

Comics. But I was kidding myself, because once I saw those covers, I

was drawn like a moth to the light. Set immediately after A New Hope,

this main Star Wars series is just impossible not to get addicted to.

While it offers nothing revelatory, the style and tone is just spot-on

and the story is filling in the gap between A New Hope and the Empire

Strikes Back nicely.

Andy Eschenbach

It’s been an awesome year for Comics so far. The past six months have shown an abundance of creative excellence, wrought with action, change, and intelligence. Even so, it wasn’t hard to pick what I believe to have been the ten best things to have happened in Comics in 2015. What I couldn’t do was narrow it down to single-issues in every case. Most comics just aren’t written that way, so you’ll just have to deal with my favorite runs being listed. Call me what ever you want over it. I’ll still love you.

10. Black Canary

Yes, I’m a grown-ass white dude. Yes, I bought Black Canary. What an exciting and stylish start to a potentially awesome book! Great command of voice and characterization out of Brenden Fletcher, and the fittingly rocky art of Annie Wu becomes a full-on sock to the jaw when combined with Lee Loughridge’s colors. I love that the title character is actually the whole band as much as I love the forming dynamics between them. My only complaint is a common one: DC’s ad placement- particularly the double Twix ad mid-story— is piss poor, and breaks the otherwise great pacing. Still, more issues could only move this title up on my favorites list, as far as I can tell after the first.

9. Silver Surfer 8-12

I imagine books from this run will be all over other people’s lists as well. Particularly issue 11 for it’s great feat of moebius madness. Even beyond that, this tale combines popfantasy strangeness with a love story so honestly human that I can’t help but concur with fellow fans. Slott and the Allreds make a great team, returning to the hidden romance of early Marvel superhero books without fumbling over predictable cliches or sloppy regurgitation. Plus, it’s funny. I’d like to see some longer arcs come from this formula if the title survives the big rebirth and all- but even if it’s left as it stands, it’s been a great run.

8. Uncanny X-Men 28-32

I feel like I’d spoil the story if I really said what I like most about this run. Bendis’s Cyclops- his choices, and the subsequent reactions of his teammates and peers- has me really excited. You won’t see me waving any “Not My Scott Summers” flags. In fact, I think it makes sense that after all this time the guy finally slips up and breaks down, and the looming concern of whether he’ll pull through is what makes this story compelling. You can see the classic X-Dysfunction playing catalyst to Slim’s conflicted state from a multitude of directions as this series nears it’s end. I do wish Bachalo’s action-abilities were more utilized by Bendis- but once that does happen, all the talking heads make perfect sense. There. Spoilers averted.

7. Weirdworld

Being an Extradimensional Barbarian myself, it’s great to finally see representation within the realm of comic books! And who better to pull it off than Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo?! This was the book I was most charged up about after the Secret Wars announcement, and the first issue exceeded my expectations. It’s gnarly, action-packed, insane, and gorgeous. The more I write about it, the less I do it any justice. Just great.

6. The Mantle 1 and 2

It’s not the fact that I’ve watched this book come to fruition at semi-close range that makes me love it. It’s the Villain. The Plague is horrifying. Ed Brisson’s treatment of such a juggernaut alone keeps me in waiting, puzzling over his true motivations. Brian Level’s art is as strong as it is adaptable, showing prowess just as readily in scenes of raw violence as in portraits of the mundane. He’s popping heads like grapes on one page, while super-types stop for a burger on another, and in each case there’s just the right energy for believability and effect. Jordan Boyd’s palette follows suit, both subtle and vibrant, giving each page it’s life or death, respectively. I can honestly say that even if I weren’t present for some of the process on this book, I’d be just as ready to read more about the multiple incarnations of The Mantle, and why they’re so viciously hunted by their nemesis. Comics needs more strange Super Hero books like this one. Take note.

5. Daredevil 11 and 12

If the covers from this mini-arc don’t immediately grab you, the content will. It’s going to be sad to see the Waid/Samnee duo off Daredevil soon, and it’s stories like these that kept me engrossed through their awesome run. Within these two particular issues you can find some of the coolest action and cleanest plot twists out of Waid- including a really great car chase(infamous for being difficult to write). I also have to applaud the overall treatment of depression and friendship throughout the entire run. Really well done- and it couldn’t have come across the same way without Samnee’s clarity and finesse. Everything is there that needs to be, nothing is there that doesn’t, and as big as my soft spot for post-modernism is, it’s been refreshing to see a new angle on old school Matt Murdock. Even if it’s a set up for another dive in to darkness for Daredevil, it will make the impact that much more intense.

4. Secret Wars

It’s been called the “Marvel Game of Thrones”, in both critical and praising voices, but even with it’s obvious parallels to the “Song of Ice and Fire” books, this story is strong and envelopingand original. Hickman’s ability to weave arcs is perfectly matched by Ribic’s capacity for drama. Once again, I find myself wanting to spoil everything for the potential new reader in praise of each character and their situation, but I won’t. Just read Secret Wars. God Doom requires it of you.

3. Invisible Republic 1-3

Please, Corrina Bechko and Gabriel Hardaman, show me how a regime will conveniently rewrite history for it’s own benefit! You’re the perfect pair to do it! And once again, Jordan Boyd’s mastery of color drives the mood home on each gritty page. I loved breaking Bad and Blade Runner, but comparing them to this book doesn’t really do it justice. Brave in it’s criticism, excellent in it’s execution, and undeniable in it’s pertinence- I can’t wait to find out where this tale ultimately leads. An exemplary Comics Magazine.

2. Rage of Ultron

Rick Remender successfully ties up his outstanding Superhero epic that started way back in Uncanny X-Force, supplying all the action and drama you need from an Avengers story, while tactfully tackling issues of life and death, creation and responsibility, and ultimately, love. Don’t get me wrong- his punk-rock angle keeps it gnarly and insane at each beat, but this is some real-life shit in fantasy format, given energy and breath by Jerome Opena’s command over the human form- a testament to knowledge and beauty. But don’t read it. Not until you’ve read Remender’s runs on Uncanny X-Force, Secret Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, and the Axis series. Then read it, and try not to cry when you realize that Marvel characters won’t be getting this kind of treatment anymore. You can always pick up a copy of The Black Science or Low if you’re left in wanting.

1. East of West 16-20

EASTOFWEHEHESSSSSST! I though it was over at issue fifteen, and am glad to have been wrong. Never before have I read such a masterful combination of social critique, cultural portrait, and pop-culture madness. It’s illusion and politics, sorcery and tech, cowboys and indians- it’s serious drama and manga at the same time, somehow- all the while unforgivingly shying away from dead tropes in exchange for new and intriguing characterization! Art and writing combine, unabashedly, to both question and promote everything you thought about everything. Hooray for Hickman and Dragotta! And now I’m left in that awkward state, like some skinflint in his underpants, having shown my true feelings for comics this year-so-far. I feel it necessary to further reveal myself by expressing enthusiasm for the rest of the year-to-come. I can’t wait to read more, and with books like Sebela’s “We(l)come back”, Mignola’s “Joe Golem, Occult Detective”, and Burnham’s “E is for Extinction” (featuring the gnarlyness that is Ramon Villalobos’s art), it looks like I’ll be well supplied. I’ll put my pants back on now.

Alright and that does it for this installment. A BIG thank you to the contributors on a job well done.

What’s your top 10 (or 5)? Let us know in the comments!

End of the first quarter top 5 list from the writers at deja.revue + friends!

Hello Revuers! Hard to believe that it’s April already. That means that the first quarter for comics this year has drawn (all puns intended, as per usual) to an end. With that we are proud to bring you a top 5 list of our favorite comics, and we invited some friends to do the same.The headers are clickable and lead to that persons blog. I strongly recommend that you check out each and every one of our contributors blogs, they are all fantastic. This article can be your one stop destination for the top comics of the year so far. If you are new and looking for a place to start in comics or a seasoned vet interested in branching,out this article has something for everyone. The big two, Image, indie start-ups, we have it all! So buckle your seat belts and get ready for a XXXXL pizza size worth of information given to you in manageable bite size pieces.

Andrew Horton 

5. Silver Surfer (Writer: Dan Slott, Art: Michael Allred & Laura Allred, Publisher: Marvel)

Silver Surfer is a fun tale that sets to humanize the ex-herald of Galactus. The story telling by Slott is fun and there is a nice dynamic between the Surfer and his human companion Dawn. Dawn really humanizes the surfer in ways I had never seen before and makes the series fun to read. The art by Allred is fantastic. An homage to the more cartoonish art of a by gone era. Together Slott and Allred have put together an intriguing and entertaining series.

4. Spider-Gwen (Writer: Jason Latour, Art: Robbi Rodriguez & Rico Renzi, Publisher: Marvel)

Spider-Gwen was my favorite new character from last year (you can read about that here), so I was excited to here she was getting her own series. I was even more excited when I learned that the same stellar creative team that was behind her 1st appearance would be in charge of her ongoing series. Despite the hype that I had built up in the months between November and its eventual release in February Spider-Gwen did not disappoint. Latour, Rodriguez, and Renzi give us a spider hero that we can relate to and feel for, and I can’t get enough.

3. Southern Bastards (Writer: Jason Aaron, Art: Jason Latour, Publisher: Image)

What.The.Heck. But he is/was the bad guy? Aaron and Latour craft an emotional roller coaster of a ride in this series. The whole second arc has left me unsure of who I should root for, and who I feel for. I am seriously loving the real life narrative and feel of this book. “Bad” guys have a story too, and I am glad that Aaron and Latour have decided to explore it.

2. Gotham Academy (Writer: Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher, Art:Karl Kercshl)

Cloonan, Fletcher, and Kerschl have brought together a rag-tag group of teenagers (and one preteen) and turned them into the most interesting and lovable group in comics. The dynamic that they have created between the characters just works and I look forward to each and every issue that comes out. The art work is fantastic as well with Kerchl creating a world that is both realistic and surreal all at once. The lighting and shading choices really make the scenes pop and gives the reader a sense of time passing in the book. Overall an amazing series.

1. The Wicked + The Divine (Writer: Kieron Gillen, Art: Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson)

The first arc of this book was superb. The second act though? Has been on another level. The subtle (and at times not so subtle) social commentary layered with teen angst and hero-worship really works for me. The art choices By McKelvie and Wilson really make Gillens story stand out. I cannot speak enough about the coloring job that Wilson does on this book. In fact I’ll call it, Wilson is one of the top three colorists in comics today (If you twisted my arm I would also name Bellaire and Renzi). This series is really creative and finds new ways to reinvent its self. For those reasons I feel like this series could be around a long, long time.

Girl-On-Comicbook-World

Girl-on-Comicbook-World is all about discussion, opinion and analysis on everything comic book related from movies to TV to actual comic books. Come have a conversation with me and others in the comments, even if we agree to disagree (don’t worry the conversation is always civil!)

We’re only a few months in and already we’ve had so many amazing comics come out, it’s been hard to choose what the top 5 are. But here we go, here’s my top 5 comics of the year so far:

5. The Wicked + The Divine- The state of society is pretty funny. The way we completely glorify our musicians, and act as if they are our gods is a little ridiculous. And that is exactly what The Wicked + The Divine explores. It’s about a bunch of gods, from different mythologies, who resurrect every 90 years, to live for 2 years on Earth. So when they come back after 90 years, what do they decide to do? Become music sensations of course, makes sense! This comic has continued to be a great little read every month. Especially because it’s through the perspective of this teenage fangirl. Her responses to this insane world full of real life gods, is exactly the response a teenage girl would make to One Direction, because that is the world we’re living in. The writing by Kieron Gillen is funny, quirky and flows perfectly with the great art by Jamie Mckelvie in the series.

4.The Multiversity- Grant Morrison’s brain is insane, I love it! The Multiversity is the perfect concept for Grant Morrison to take on board. Exploring the different worlds of the DC universe, Morrison has done a phenomenal job fleshing out the different Earths and their connection to the larger DC universe. The recent issues of Multiversity have been amazing including the Multiversity Guidebook, Mastermen and Ultra Comics. Obviously this series isn’t for everyone, especially those that don’t enjoy Morrison’s Meta style. Some people have been calling the series pretentious, for its overt Meta criticisms on the superhero genre. But the fact that Morrison can express his opinions on the genre, and what it means to him, in such an imaginative and insane way, makes it worth the read.

3. Saga- Brian K. Vaughn is the man. Y: The Last Man is my favourite non-superhero comic series, and it’s mostly because Brian knows how to write characters. Vaughn is able to make a loveable character, out of even the most morally flawed. Saga has some of the most human characters, which is obviously ironic. Saga, even in its quieter issues, is still some of the best comic work coming out right now. The story itself is great, but what makes Saga so great for me is the way Vaughn writes his characters. Female characters are often a point of criticism when it comes to comic books, but Vaughn is able to realise fully fleshed out, interesting and complex female characters. And not just female characters, all the characters, from the TV-headed Prince to their ghost companion are really well-developed. I’m definitely looking forward to where this series is going in the future, and if the ending will be as depressing as the ending to Y: The Last Man.

2. Ms. Marvel- Getting younger female readers into comics has seemed like a challenge over the last few years. Thankfully Ms. Marvel is doing everything right to not only create a comic that younger female readers can enjoy and relate to, but also creating a comic that everyone can enjoy. From exploring cultural and adolescent issues, to questioning the nature of the hero, Ms. Marvel has really excelled in creating a likeable, fully fleshed out lead. And I have to say, I feel a little inspired every time I read Ms. Marvel, there’s some really great messages in the comic. It’s great that the comic plays off the youth of these characters, giving us a different perspective on what it’s like to be a superhero.

1. Batman- Brian K. Vaughn is the man, but so is Scott Snyder. Snyder and Capullo haven’t released a bad Batman comic yet during their run. Snyder’s mind is nearly as insane as Morrison’s mind, and that’s saying something. Court of Owls, Death of a family, Zero Year, all have been incredible arcs, and with those incredible arcs comes Endgame. Marketed as the Joker story to end all Joker stories, you can see why. The recent issues have sparked quite the conversation online about the Joker’s supposed origin story, and I love that. Everyone’s speculating and discussing this run, and it’s something not many comics are able to do. Snyder’s done some pretty crazy things during his Batman run, and this might be the craziest yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how things conclude. And now that we’ve seen the Robo-Bat-Bunny costume, I’m really curious to find out what Snyder does to get there. Although Endgame may seem a little whacky right now, and so does the Robo-Bat-Bunny, Snyder has done no wrong in my eyes so far, so I’m trusting that whatever he has come up with, it’s going to be good.

Noisy Geek blog

The term geek has never been a shameful label to me. I have always been geeky, the only problem I’ve had is finding people who are passionate about the same things I am. That’s one of the reasons I started NoisyGeek. I wanted to connect with people and discuss the things I enjoy, whether its books, movies, games or comics. I’m lucky enough to have followers who give me recommendations which has helped me expand my collections and has kept me updating the blog

For me comics are adventures – There is so much variety in the comic verse that I’m never stuck for something new to read. Picking my top 5 was definitely hard but the ones I’ve chosen are comics that I’ve recommended to my friends, colleagues and even strangers I’ve met in comic shops

1. Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky

I love this series. The main characters Suzie and Jon discover they share the ability to freeze time when they orgasm. In a nutshell they decide to use these powers to rob the bank where Jon works in order to save Suzie’s endangered library.

I’ve seen a couple of pieces by Matt Fraction but Sex Criminals is definitely my favourite so far – from the initial dedication to the end of each issue this had me laughing out loud. The artwork by Zdarsky is beautiful, the colours used really bring the story to life and the “quiet” scenes have been drawn perfectly. It’s not a series for kids but it’s perfect for people who love a good laugh

2. Zombies Hi by Uproar Comics

Uproar Comics have a lot of passion for their work. Zombies Hi is one of my favourites – it’s based in Northern Ireland and is about a community struggling through the Zombie Apocalypse while fighting sectarian division.

There are currently 12 issues available and it clear that the team are going to continue improving with future issues. Although still a relatively indie company they are becoming known for their clever ideas, the way they introduced the colour pages in Zombies Hi was genius. Zombies Hi is definitely unique when compared to other horror series’, an impressive quality in today’s comic verse.

3. Saltire by Diamond Steel Comics

This was the first (and so far only) comic book I’ve come across which focuses on myths and landscapes entirely from Scotland. Saltire is an impressive superhero. He’s big, he’s blue and he’s ginger. Saltire’s sole purpose is to defend the freedom of Scotland and its people and he takes that very seriously.

Although this series is from a small publisher the overall quality is outstanding. The artwork is stunning and the issues themselves have been beautifully created. This is simply an amazing series and one of the finest modern mythology series I’ve read recently

4. Suicide Squad (New 52)

This series has been a firm favourite of mine since I started catching up on issues. Suicide Squad always give plenty of action and general chaos. Harley Quinn is one of my favourite batman characters, it was nice to see her become associated with this. The romantic in me enjoyed the Harley/Deadshot flavour while the gamer in me loved the chaos in each issue.

5. Origin II

Although this is only a 5 parter, it’s one of my favourite Logan comic series. The artwork has been really well done and although the storyline is quite brutal it gives a good insight into Logan’s past.

Reading Origin II has reaffirmed Logan as one of my favourite characters

Jay Threadbear

Jay Threadbear writes hasty scribbles about comic books, films, and television. There’s the occasional think-piece about robots, cybercrime or ninjas, but mostly it’s just about that most important of subjects – superheroes!

Batgirl – Last year’s soft-reboot has really borne fruit this quarter as the opening story arc has come to a smart and exciting resolution. On the surface this book is simply the adventures of a young, hip superhero in a trendy part of Gotham, and that is true, but beneath that the complex plot and sophisticated character work really take this book to the next level. As well as Barbara Gordon making new friends and getting a new costume she is dealing with emotional trauma that defines her as a woman and a hero. And if you want it this book has a wealth of meta-textual elements that speak to the evolution of comic books and the handing over of writing duties between creators. The writing is inventive and the storytelling innovative, and then there is the great art from Babs Tarr.

Gotham Academy – The creative team on this book truly deserve the term ‘creative’ as they continue to write and illustrate a fun, thoughtful, and intriguing teen mystery against the backdrop of Gotham’s fanciest prep-school. The art is simply sublime and the characters are by turns witty, adorable, and defiant. There is an interesting puzzle at the heart of the Academy, but this book is also a great exploration of what it means to be young in the DC universe. As a gateway book from YA fiction to comics this is perfect reading, and as a fun book in general it is equally worthwhile for any reader.

Silk – I read very little of the Spider-Verse event in recent Spider-Man comics (checking in only with the excellent Spider-Gwen and SP//dr) so Cindy Moon was completely new to me when I picked up the first issue of Silk primarily on the quality of the art. I’m glad I did, as this is already a great book. The fact that Cindy brings welcome diversity to the Marvel Universe as a female Asian-American hero is a great thing, and the wonderful part is that this book is funny and compelling in almost every way. Cindy is Peter Parker for the modern age and her charming awkwardness as she grows as a hero is delightful to follow.

Silver Surfer – Mike Allred’s art and the promise of goofy intergalactic hijinks were enough to get me to pick this up when it first started, and initially that pretty much summed up this book – it was fun. In more recent issues though the story from Dan Slott has turned to the Surfer’s dark past, and the narrative focus has progressively shifted to the Surfer’s companion Dawn Greenwood. What started out as a meaningless bit of fun, somehow became one of the most powerful love stories in superhero comics, and it just keeps getting better.

They’re Not Like Us – Writer Eric Stephenson, artist Simon Gane, and colourist Jordie Bellaire have been producing consistently phenomenal work with this series that tells the story of a young woman discovering she has special powers, and the shadowy group that takes her in. With thematic elements from sources as diverse as the X-Men and Girl, Interrupted this is a nuanced character study that matches dark questions about civilisation with a backdrop of subtle demonstrations of other-wordly power. They’re Not Like Us is a rich and mature drama that also features gorgeous visuals from a brilliant art team, and although it may prove a little too pessimistic for some I think it is one of the best books out there right now.

Jerry Caskey

Afterlife with Archie

This one threw me off. I saw Archie (Which I admittedly have never read, so I was working with prejudice) with zombies? Witches? Undead dogs? Have I been so wrong about this series? Well, I can only speak for the Afterlife arc, so that’s what I’ll work with.

This is 100% horror. There is no comfort to be found here. Dead dogs, zombies, pissed off witches, it has everything. I will get the big thing out-of-the-way first: Francavilla is a god among men. His work on this series is nothing short of phenomenal. It is grotesque, but not indulgent. It’s easy to splatter blood everywhere but it takes a real artist to wrench terror from floorboards, hills, trees, handrails… That is not to say that Aguirre-Sacasa is any less important. His writing binds these horrific events together and keeps us moving forward, always wary, always terrified. Together they have designed perhaps the most unexpected hit (personally) I have ever stumbled upon in comics.

The Sandman: Overture

In The Sandman: Overture Neil Gaiman keeps the pace decidedly rubato. This forces the reader to question what curve the story may take next, to rely solely on the comic itself as a guide. Through this, J.H. Williams III depicts a world where everything is new, unknown, yet uncomfortably familiar. Not to leave out Dave Stewart’s brilliant colors, and Tod Klein’s lettering.

My favorite in Overture is issue 4. It seems—even more now than in previous issues—that Gaiman and Williams are challenging each other. Gaiman leaves huge gaps for Williams to carry the story on art alone, and Williams gives Gaiman just enough boxes to fit some traditional dialog, even if those boxes may find themselves upside down or tumbling down the page.

Princess Leia

Princess Leia has always been badass. A princess in title only, this is a woman who craves adventure and takes orders only from herself. Waid and Bellaire band together to bring the story of the most independent character in existence. The most remarkable feature of this series is Mark Waid’s ability to weave a story that lacks nothing in power, and Bellaire’s ability to keep the art personal. Facial features are not defined by rigid black lines, but by variation in color and tone. Backdrops exist to bring the characters closer to the reader. The entire work works towards one goal, to give us a glimpse into what makes the amazing princess operate as she does.

Spider Gwen

Okay, I know. This is probably on every other list here, but this one deserves it. There is so much more to Spider Gwen than Rodriguez’s design for Gwen’s outfit (Which is nothing short of brilliant) and some compelling writing.

Confident, steady, independent, casual. These are not words I would use to describe Gwen Stacy. But she is working on it. Seeking to validate herself as a hero to a city, a girl to her friends, and a woman to her father. As if it isn’t enough pressure to make one’s self legitimate in a world that seems to live in delusion, perpetuated by preconceptions, she must reignite the flame for masked heroes everywhere. Latour, Rodriguez, and Renzi bring together a concise yet fulfilling work that will resonate for years.

Buccaneer Book Reviews

Shiver me e-timbers! Billions o’ blue-blisterin’ digi-barnacles in a thunderin’ typhoon!

Welcome t’ th’ Buccaneer! An imaginary ship that sails yon interwebs as it see’s fit and whose crew explores everythin’ they c’n find, reviewin’ t’all with no fear in their geeky black hearts!

  1. Howard the Duck #1 (Marvel Comics)

Nearly three decades after a disastrous attempt at a big screen blockbuster, the wise-cracking, foul tempered duck is back! With no friends, but lots of Marvel drop-ins and shout-outs, this very first issue proved that Howard may have been down all this time, but he definitely isn’t out!

Dragged into this world through a ‘Nexus of Realities’ Howard must make his way through life in a world he didn’t choose, comprised of ‘hairless apes’, of whom he is not particularly fond. He does so as a Private Duck (ha!) using his uncanny power of common sense and, well, the fact that he is a talking, walking, human sized (if slightly short) duck. Wicked humour, hilariously meta dialogue, exciting hints at future issues and vibrant artwork reminiscent of Warhol and Lichtenstein’s pop art –You know what Lucas, THIS is the duck you were looking for!

 

  1. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

A truly nutty treat. This was one of the nicest things I read in a long time. Squirrel Girl has been a seriously under rated and under appreciated character in the Marvel universe. Which is kind of strange seeing that she has beaten the holy hell out of some of the toughest and scariest folks in the MU, including Doctor Doom! It’s great to see her get what she deserves – her own issue.

North, Henderson and Renzi have put together an issue, no a series, that exceeds all expectation. Squirrel Girl is off to college, she’s smart, she’s spunky, she’s not all there. It’s the kind of book that anyone, old or young, can enjoy with the utmost delight. It’s something I look forward to having as an entire collection on my shelf.

  1. Return of the Living Deadpool (Marvel Comics)

A series that was so popular, it warranted a sequel… and thus Return of the Living Deadpool was born. Using their ultra zombie powers – Cullen Bunn and Nik Virella have created a b-e-a-utiful sequel of great proportions. The initial run i.e. Night of the living Deadpool was a great series and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It pays homage to classic zombie films and I think it’s a must read.

While I recommend reading Night of the living Deadpool first, you don’t really need to. This is pretty reader friendly and lets you start right here not having to worry too much about reading the original story. This is a lovely blend of horror, drama and comedy. So if you like Wade Wilson or zombies or both…this one is a definite must read.

  1. Multiversity: Slendour Falls (DC Comics)

It’s always great to see a story that spans the multiverse. With Grant Morrison at the reins, it can only have the potential to be great.

With some excellent artwork from the great Jim Lee and Scott Williams, not to mention a storyline that involves Nazis.

Morrisson’s work on delving into the multiverse is fascinating, it really lures the reader in and makes sure you never want to leave. My only problem, and it’s a teeny tiny one, is that there is too much information packed into one issue. These need to be longer. That aside, this is just a great bit of visual candy with an enticing storyline.

  1. The Dying and the Dead #1 (Image comics)

A massacre at a wedding, the theft of ancient artifact, a cult of clones, a people old as time and conspiracies of world domination – while elements of this comic might seem like old news, they combine sublimely in Jonathan Hickman’s masterfully crafted The Dying and the Dead #1. The haggard old war hero may seem like a hackneyed protagonist, but just a few panels with him and I was ready to throw my hat into the ring alongside him, taking up arms once more, to save the woman he loves.

The beautifully complex storyline is cradled in pages full of both hauntingly minimal and breathtakingly intricate artwork – adding further to the dramatic overtones of this hush-hush first issue. Sharp contrasts and sepia tones serve to highlight the tempo and depth of the story, without distracting too far from it. I doubt I’m being overly generous when I say that this comic book is a prime example of the medium being its own art form.