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Review: HALOGEN #1 (of 4)

ARCHAIA-Halogen-BOOM-STUDIOS

How would you ever go about finding a dead god? What would a dead god look like? This is part of what’s going on in, “HaloGen,” a very quirky sci-fi adventure. Assuming that you can even perceive a god, which we’ll go ahead and assume, then you’ve got the backbone to quite a story. And our lead character, Rell, seems to be up for it. As far as I’m concerned, this girl could be a god of sorts herself.

The name of the game is find a dead god. It had been found. It was supposed to be taken away by the authorities, in the form of Securicorp. But now it seems to have vanished. It’s up to Rell and her team at HaloGen to make things right. In the course of making things right, there are a number of players set on doing the opposite. We follow Rell around as she engages in some snarky office banter with HaloGen staff and tries to explain meeting up the night before with a sexy dude from Securicorp. Was he really interested in her or was he trying to find out about her halographic powers? Maybe a bit of both.

Overall, the high quirk factor to this story by Josh Tierney is very appealing. The art by Afu Chan, with colors by Shelly Cehn, is also very pleasing. But, most importantly, this narrative flows really well and has a high level of clarity. We end up with a lot of things in play in this first issue. We’ve got data that’s been compromised and a dead god’s body in danger of being exploited. Lots of stuff going on. It’s great to know the creative team has a good handle on it. I look forward to lots more.

“HaloGen #1″ is part of the Archaia imprint from Boom! Studios and is available as of March 4. Boom! Studios has published four books thus far in Josh Tierney’s Spera series because they love his characters and storytelling. Now, Tierney teams up with fellow webcomic creators Afu Chan (Spera) and Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues, Prophet) for this new creator-owned, sci-fi adventure. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Review: NEVERBOY #1

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It was a glorious childhood moment: just two boys creating their own solar system of planets, pretending to be Captain Galaxy and his trusty sidekick, Neverboy. All the beautiful colorful planets were hanging off branches in the backyard. And then that bully came along and trashed it. Sounds like something out of dream. “Neverboy,” a new comic from Dark Horse Comics, has a very intoxicating feel to it. This is one very dreamy comic!

Those two boys got over that incident with the bully. They had a sleepover and that took away some of the sting of having their worlds destroyed. This is what an all-grown-up Neverboy tells his son to console him after a bad day at school. The son responds well to that. Neverboy’s wife appreciates his effort. And then things start to slip away. It turns out that Neverboy, the boy and the man, may not really exist.

The story by Shaun Simon is very intriguing. You’ve got a character who appears to possibly be from some other world or is having difficulty maintaining his place in reality. His greatest wish appears to be to have a normal life. The art by Tyler Jenkins feels very much alive with a freshness right out of a sketchbook. Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick are fittingly bold and vibrant.

What has been set in motion in this first issue is very promising. It’s not only Neverboy who is struggling. Apparently, his wife is having problems with being acknowledged too, maybe far worse–and spooky. It looks like people literally can’t see her. All signs point to this being more than just a story about a fractured family and one really good read.

“Neverboy #1″ is available as of March 4. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Review: DESCENDER #1

Descender-Image-Comics

“Descender #1″ distinguishes itself right out of the gate by being a visual feast much in the same spirit as Jeff Lemire won us over with stunningly beautiful artwork in his own comics. This time around, it’s Jeff Lemire as writer on this project and Dustin Nguyen as artist. Let the art loose and do what it will do and all else falls into place.

Okay, okay, we’ve got a machines vs. humans story. Nothing new there, at first glance. But, of course, we’ve grown to expect great things from Jeff Lemire and he does not disappoint us here. And I’ll tell you now that the art is stand-alone outstanding and is made up of exuberant fun gestural work in watercolor or some digital equivalent. Looks to me to be hand-made goodness.

Jump right into the story: The United Galactic Council has banned all androids after an attack by a group of hyper-sophisticated giant robots known as the Harvesters. Just like all Japanese in the United States were instantly suspected of treason in World War II America, so we have all androids suspected of the same in this future world. And our focus falls on one particular android boy, Tim. With any luck, Tim will find his way to, Jin, a scientist who has fallen into alcoholism but who has awakened to a greater purpose.

That’s really all you need to know right now. If you frequent comic book shops, you know how much Image Comics means to a lot of folks. Image Comics has got a magic touch with publishing fanciful sci-fi stories, to put it in a nutshell. And “Descender” is your latest prime example and is available as of March 4. Go to it, and get yourself a copy. For more details, visit our friends at Image Comics right here.

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Filed under comic books, Comics Reviews, Image Comics, Sci-Fi, science fiction

Review: ROBERT HEINLEIN’S CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY #1 (of 3)

Citizen-of-the-Galaxy-IDW

Here we have the “dean of science fiction,” Robert Heinlein, in the pages of this new comic book limited series, “Citizen of the Galaxy,” from IDW Publishing. Welcome to Jabbul. We follow Thorby, a slave boy who has just arrived off a slave rocket ship. He is put up at auction. No one is impressed, except for, Baslim, a beggar who buys Thorby at a great bargain. This strange planet of Jabbul is not Earth and yet it’s not so different, not when you pause to reflect on our own history. Slavery officially ended in America only 150 years ago, right? That’s what you call less than a blink of an eye in a historical perspective. On Jabbul, slavery is very much alive. And if Thorby stands any chance of carving out a decent life for himself, he had best listen to Baslim.

IDW-Citizen-of-the-Galaxy

Adapted by Rob Lazzzaru and Eric Gignac, this is a great gateway to Heinlein. And the art by Steve Erwin, with colors and inks by Eric Gignac, provides a pleasing narrative all its own. You’ve got what amounts to an interstellar action/adventure coming of age tale. The pacing is nicely handled as we get to know our two main characters in this first act. Baslim, apparently a mere beggar, appears to have the best of intentions for Thorby, his new slave. For one thing, Baslim has a keen sense of where best to reside. Why not squat in what remains of an unfinished lavish amphitheater? And Balim proves to be highly intelligent. Before Thorby realizes it, he’s becoming something of a junior scholar under Baslim’s tutelage. This is all well and good as this tranquil period proves to be only temporary. Before long, Thorby must prepare for the next phase of his life away from Baslim.

“Citizen of the Galaxy #1″ is a 32-page comic book, priced at $3.99, available as of March 4. For more information, visit our friends at IDW Publishing right here.

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Kickstarter: Comic Book People 2: Photographs from the 1990s

 Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bernie Wrightson, and Dave Gibbons at the 1991 San Diego Comic-Con.


Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bernie Wrightson, and Dave Gibbons at the 1991 San Diego Comic-Con.

Jackie Estrada is a Comic-Con legend. She knows everybody. And she’s photographed everybody. Her work has appeared everywhere, including the recent PBS program on superheroes. She’s been a supporter of Comic-Con from the very beginning and administrator of its Eisner Awards since 1990. She has vivid recollections and has documented them in her first book, Comic Book People, which covered the ’70s and ’80s. Now comes Comic Book People 2 which covers the ’90s. It’s a perfect next step in seeing the history and behind-the-scenes fun that is Comic-Con International in San Diego as well as the Chicago Comic-Con, WonderCon, the Small Press Expo, and APE. And you can make this new book a reality by joining in support of the Kickstarter campaign going on now through March 13. Join in your support and visit the campaign right here.

Press release follows:

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Review: TALES OF LYLA #1 & #2, published by 10 Forward Productions

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Van is just a journeyman wizard. And Pendle is a sorceress. The two of them have paired up and their prospects seem favorable, once they solve a most disturbing case of missing animals. It’s easy to get immersed into the world of fantasy conjured up by Amit Tishler, the creator of “Tales of Lyla.” With co-writer S. Frivolus, he has brought to life a mashup of Adventure Time, Dungeons and Dragons, and the Brothers Grimm. The artwork by Luke Ellison, with colors by Kristen Roberston, is lively and whimsical. It’s a winning combination of fanciful and grotesque.

What about those missing animals? To best understand this curious crisis, our story splits its time between the present and the events of one year prior. By going back one year, we get answers to some questions. And we also get questions that may have answers back in the present. Through this back and forth, we get a richer story with plenty of intrigue. We learn that Pendle is not so innocent as she is in too deep regarding the cause to all the animal disturbance. And we learn that Van is not quite as wimpy as he might seem.

With two issues in, Tales of Lyla shows itself to be a fun read with a keen sense of humor. This kind of work, with characters exchanging pithy remarks and various wondrous elements at play, is very appealing. It’s the bedrock of good comics. I love the quirky opening scenes with Van and Pendle stumbling into a village inn with only plans of falling asleep after a long day’s journey. That’s when they get their first bits of information about the animal caper.

Turns out somebody has been making off with sheep and geese at the inn. Right before Van and Pendle’s eyes, the innkeeper becomes aware that his own tenants are the one’s missing animals. Well, who ever said his tenants could keep animals in their rooms?! So, feathers fly, if there were any to fly. For the moment, Van and Pendle only care about sleep. With a room suddenly made vacant, they can do that, but not for long. Missing animals are not exactly new to them. This goes back a year when animals did not just disappear. They came back reassembled in a hodge-podge of their former selves!

Tales of Lyla comes to you from the animation studio 10 Forward Productions. You can purchase digital issues of Tales of Lyla through Amazon right here.

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Filed under 10 Forward Productions, Adventure Time, animation, Comics, Comics Reviews

Review: ‘Lucifer’s Sword MC: Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club’

Lucifers-Sword-Phil-Cross

Anything has the potential for being turned into compelling comics. Here’s another example: “Lucifer’s Sword MC: Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club,” published by Motor Books. This graphic novel is a fictionalized account of the sort of action that Phil Cross has witnessed as a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club since 1969. I love the gritty straight-forward approach to this book. You’re placed right into the action. The new guy is either going to sink or swim. It’s a tough club to join but the members are sort of rooting for him. They’re not so bad after all. It’s what can happen when you’re in the club that can get messy.

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Written by Phil Cross, with Darwin Holmstrom, and illustrated by Ronn Sutton, this is some good honest storytelling. Frenchy is a young man set for adventure. He loves motorcycles. He has some problems with authority. And he needs some direction. He stumbles upon a pool game with members of Lucifer’s Sword Motorcycle Club. After a brief misunderstanding, they vote on it and decide to make Frenchy a prospect, complete with his own jacket labeled, “Prospect,” just as a reminder. Little does he realize right then that he’s starting at the bottom rung as the club’s janitor. And that’s the least of his worries as he quickly must prove himself against a rival club and much more.

You are invited to join a motorcycle club, byway of this book, and you can see for yourself. The story moves fast but it’s also careful to bring you in with various details. You get a sense of how this social group behaves. Left to themselves, they’re just fine. But, push comes to shove, they’re ready to defend themselves. Frenchy learns that the hard way but he’s a quick learner.

“Lucifer’s Sword MC: Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club” is published by Motor Books and you can find them right here. And you can also find the book at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Phil Cross

Review: EI8HT #1

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Oh sure, anybody can travel back in time but Joshua is also equipped with a device that enables him to communicate back to the future. Pretty cool, except he can’t remember anything when his ship crash lands. It’s a spooky desert terrain that’s not ringing any bells for our hero.

And, truth be told, Joshua isn’t much of a hero. So begins an intriguing new comic. “EI8HT,” story by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson, is one of those quirky lean and mean adventures that’s a lot of fun to sit back and take in.

Artist Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire) has that slicin’ and dicin’ style of his. His faces are like masterful pumpkin creations with a strategic slit here for a mouth and two sharp marks there for eyes. The same with backgrounds and assorted backdrop, all direct and razor-sharp. I like the way he draws dinosaurs too.

There are definitely plenty of dinosaurs where Joshua has crash landed. Writer Mike Johnson (Supergirl) gives us a tight script with a neatly stretched out premise: This is what happens when a sadsack is enlisted into a clandestine time travel experiment and is lost in some other dimension not too far from The Twilight Zone. In this case, this no man’s land is known as The Meld and it’s supposed to be a place where past, present, and future converge.

Do you want to know why this comic is entitled, “EI8HT”? Well, you can read the preview pages at Dark Horse Comics. I’m guessing there’s more meaning behind that. It does make for an awesome looking logo. I’m guessing we’ll deal with infinity later on. For now, it has to do with memory and it looks like this story is going to have a lot of fun with that theme.

Like the best episodes of The Twilight Zone, a lot of the enjoyment comes from just taking in the scene. I think that’s exactly what we’ve got here and we’re in good hands.

EI8HT #1 is available as of February 11, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Review: ADVENTURES ON A DESERT ISLAND, published by Centrala

Centrala-Maciej-Sienczyk

Greetings from Central Europe. Did you know that some of the most intriguing comics are made in this region? Consider Polish cartoonist Maciej Sieńczyk and his latest graphic novel, “Adventures on a Desert Island,” published by Centrala. It brings to mind The Beatles’ 1968 animation masterpiece, “Yellow Submarine.” This is quite an oddball journey spiked with cerebral whimsy.

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Maciej Sieńczyk offers us an average man, frayed around the edges. We don’t know much about him other than he’s middle-aged, with thinning hair, decidedly unathletic, and timid. We never learn his name. We spend most of our time inside his head. He’s supposed to be on a desert island for most of the story but it’s the internal monologue he is having with himself that is the main attraction.

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Our main character is a stranger in a strange land. The strangeness comes to us from various sources including actual Polish history, folk tales, and local stories. There are, for instance, observations made on obscure Poish devices like a primitive military ferry that proved inefficient or an awkward farming implement that proved obsolete. In Sieńczyk’s hands, with his cockeyed ethereal drawings, the familiar and mundane become fanciful things more suited to a dreamy Neverland.

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One strange story blends into another with jarring jolts along the way. For instance, there’s the tale of two men who fancied a drink of pine sap. One faired well. The other found his throat sealing up from the sticky sap. In the throes of his last gasps for air, he was miraculously saved by an old village woman who promptly sat on his face and peed into his mouth thus breaking the deadly pine sap seal.

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This is also a story about life at middle age. You may still feel young. You may even still look relatively young. But Death is already nipping at your heels. Oh, it’s only little nips. But those nips weren’t there in younger days. Now, life seems more urgent and a greater attempt is made to grasp it in all its complexity and absurdity. That’s what our main character has been up to. He’s realized life for what it is, a bunch of adventures on a desert island.

Originally published in Poland by Lampa in 2012, “Adventures on a Desert Island” is now available from Centrala. Visit our friends at Centrala right here.

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Filed under Centrala, Comics, European Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Maciej Sienczyk

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 Review

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 (GEORGES JEANTY AND TARIQ HASSAN BIRTHDAY VARIANT COVER)

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 (GEORGES JEANTY AND TARIQ HASSAN BIRTHDAY VARIANT COVER)

It’s as if Christos Gage is working from some master plan with how Buffy’s story continues to unfold. For those of you just arriving, we have a sweet spot to jump in. In this new arc, “Love Dares You,” we find Buffy navigating through the rituals of being single and sort of carefree. She even indulges in a round of speed dating. She can’t help but attract the more edgy sort, or poseur edgy. It’s a funny opening scene that sets the tone for much to follow. I’m loving the artwork by Megan Levens, with colors by Dan Jackson. It’s a uniquely cartoony look with an aggressive punch to it.

Buffy is down there in the trenches trying to figure out life. In the current configuration, you have Xander and Spike sharing an apartment. And you have Buffy, Willow, and Dawn sharing an apartment. And then there’s Giles. Only a season ago, who would have ever thought we’d have Giles back as a walking and talking character. Of course, Giles is not exactly where he’d like to be in human form. But you can’t have everything. And, to top it off, you have Buffy and Spike working together again. You have a lot of room to move around with action and characters, perhaps more than ever before. And bubbling in the background is a world …on the verge of magic. That’s got Willow working overtime figuring out the new rules.

If all of this sounds rather involved for new readers, it’s really a very good place to be. You may want to do some binge reading and pick up one or more trade paperbacks collecting previous issues. But, if you’ve been looking for a nice jump into single issues, this is a very good one.

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #11″ is available as of January 21. This is Buffy on a very good track. Pick up your copy today. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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