Category Archives: Boom! Studios

Review: WELCOME BACK #1 (of 4)

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WELCOME BACK, published by Boom! Studios, is a sly philosophical action-packed comic. It is part sci-fi, part horror, and part youth against the world. Mali is an intriguing main character. She’s 26 years-old and doesn’t have her act together yet, although she has plenty of solid reasons for that. Being the step-daughter of an infamous serial killer will do that.

In the course of this first issue, we come to see that, in fact, Mali is right on track to meet her true destiny. Christopher Sebela’s script is a perfect story of a most unlikely heroine. And Jonathan Brandon Sawyer’s artwork is very fluid while also well-balanced. All the figures move about in a well-defined space. We believe in Mali right out of the gate.

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There’s a nice easy-going quality to this story which happens to also be pretty dark. Chalk it up to a hip depiction of the resilience of youth. Mali will need to be ready and able to bounce back from anything once she’s gotten a clue as to what is up ahead for her. As it turns out, she is a warrior who has lived countless other lives. Who knew? Not, Mali, not right away. But all the clues have been adding up. Meanwhile, there’s Mali’s perennial rival, Tess.

What I like most about this comic is that it is fearless. It has quite a lot going on. It’s one of those what I’d call an “umbrella comic,” one that can manage to hold anything under its title. Lookit, Mali and Tess have been battling it out since the dawn of battles. As Mali says herself, “there’s no winning. The victor takes themselves out, following the target into the next life.” Now, that’s a bold and fearless premise. This comic is up to the task.

WELCOME BACK #1 is a four-part series and is available as of August 19. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Review: THE REALIST by Asaf Hanuka

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For the last four years, Asaf Hanuka has been doing auto-biographical webcomics about his life in Tel Aviv, Israel, entitled, “The Realist.” In many ways, this is a pretty straightforward narrative but, as in any life, things can gain, at any moment, a razor-sharp specificity and intensity. This is, after all, one of the most watched war-torn areas in the world.

So, when a morning can simply consist of a father goading his little boy to eat his toast, that already carries potentially more weight than a similar moment somewhere else. That said, Hanuka seems to carry himself like a man on a mission wherever he might live. The Realist has now been collected for the first time in English as a graphic novel, published by Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios.

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Comparable to the work of R. Crumb and Daniel Clowes, Hanuka has a keen sense for depictions of everyday life. What really matters is that he’s FUNNY!

I actually laughed out loud from reading his comics. He wears his version of the average Joe quite well. There’s one strip where we follow Hanuka throughout his day, as if following the daily routine of a computer from start up to sleep mode. At each point of the day, he has options to choose: engage or ignore the bus driver, the neighbor, the co-worker, his son, his wife. End. Repeat the next day. It strikes close to home, and it’s hilarious.

They say that if if you try to call attention to your merits, people will gladly ignore you. However, if you revel in self-deprecation, suddenly you have a following. Well, Hanuka definitely has a following. But it’s more than having readers relate to your problems. Hanuka has an engaging style with his artwork. It’s a crisp rendering of his life that you can’t help but want to know more about.

“The Realist” is an original 192-page hardcover graphic novel, priced at $24.99, arriving in comic shops from Archaia on April 22nd with a cover by creator Asaf Hanuka. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Filed under Archaia Entertainment, Asaf Hanuka, Boom! Studios, Comics, Family, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Israel, Middle East, War, Webcomics

Review: UFOlogy #1 (of 6)

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UFOlogy #1, published by Boom! Studios, is a very cool comic with very cool people in charge of it. Here’s the thing, a lot of us are repulsed by an ultra-slick high end production number. We wish for something with a shaggy dog vibe. But, if you let that dog get too shaggy, that can be just as bad as your typical mainstream corporate superhero comic. The shag, just like the ultra-slick, can get out of control. What you get with this comic is that scribbly sketchy feel you crave along with a sure-handed approach that demonstrates a mastery of the medium and a pleasurable read for you!

Gosh, I don’t know how I do this sometimes. I’ve been writing reviews, along with creating my own comics, for years now and the whole thing remains as fresh as a daisy for me. You see, it’s comics like this that show the way. They prove that the comics medium is truly inexhaustible. You give me a super duper industrial-strength superhero, and it will only work if the right talent is behind it. You can only create, or review, or heavily market, or simply read so many of these super duper comics before you just call it quits. At the other extreme, you give me something a little too precious and too uneven, and that can be annoying too. But you put together a creative team like this one for UFOlogy and you make a friend for life.

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UFOlogy was created and written by James Tynion IV and Noah J. Yuenkel. And the artwork is by Matthew Fox. A round of applause to all of you and here’s why. Our story begins in Mukawgee, Wisconsin where nothing is quite as it seems. You think this is just a sweet and innocent small town? Think again. Two teen-aged lives will collide here: Becky Finch, who would have been okay with a sleepy little town; and Malcolm Chamber, who demands the stars and the heavens. Throughout the story, we get snippets of the local FREEK podcast. The friendly deejay, Russ Chamber (Malcolm’s dad) keeps referring to the stars and it seems the town is due for a visit of monumental proportions. Or is the deejay just sort of freaky? This is all an ambitious scenario that takes off with no signs of slowing down.

Gettng back to the shaggy dog quality to this comic, it’s not something you can fake nor rely upon to get you by. The drawing here has a personal touch to it as you can feel that an actual person drew it. But that doesn’t mean that Fox takes that as a sign he can get sloppy. He maintains a sketchy quality that he also keeps under control with a nice clean line. There are other great sketchy styles out there to be sure. Fox’s style has that special natural look about it.

The writing too has a quirky and eccentric thing going on. That can get overdone as well. However, here we have something lean and determined. We get a chance to appreciate the dynamics of each character: Becky is something of a laggy, deliberately lagging behind for the sake of her family; Malcolm is as wild of a dreamer as his dad but we sense he may really be onto something. I think this comic is really onto something.

UFOlogy #1 is available as of April 1. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Giant Days #1, published by Boom! Studios

Giant Days, drawn by Lissa Trieman

Giant Days, drawn by Lissa Treiman

Giant Days, drawn by John Allison

Giant Days, drawn by John Allison

Not too long ago, I reviewed a John Allison comic under the same title. This first issue of “Giant Days” is different material and published by Boom! Studios. It is very cool to see this comic getting a higher profile. This one is by John Allison and Lissa Treiman. It is the same trio of college friends from the webcomic. But, just so you know, Allison only writes it. And it is Treiman who does the art. Now, I know Allison has a strong following that know his work as the result of his writing and drawing. For those fans, how do you feel taking his characters in a new direction as it were? It does not completely sit well with me. But should that really be the case? Probably not.

Having another artist draw one’s comic creates a whole new dynamic to say the least. The original Allison characters are delightful: very deadpan, droll, with an overall cool demeanor. This new version warms up Daisy, Esther, and Susan in a way that is subtle but still there. This got me to thinking. It seems like you can get away with that with Adventure Time characters being drawn by various artists. That’s because they’re such broad and elastic characters drenched in irony. But you could never truly get away with the Peanuts gang being drawn by someone else. That’s because they’re such personal creations. I submit to you the newer Peanuts animated TV specials for your review. The oldest ones, you know the ones, may not have been drawn by Charles M. Schulz but they sure had the look and feel of the characters spot on.

There’s definitely a shift in tone here. So, I thought some more. It’s like once you’ve seen Ricky Gervais in “The Office,” you’re kind of spoiled and won’t ever fully accept Steve Carell, even though he’s a comic genius. Hmm, that said, it has to be an honor for Allison to see his characters transcend his own depiction of them. That part is nice. And Treiman does a fine job. And, well, if you didn’t know this already, it is Allison who requested that Treiman pursue this latest run that revisits the girls getting used to university life.

But you see my point, right? Comics are a very tricky thing. They involve body language, style, and a whole way of looking at the world. Hmm, for me, the change in the art alone made this comic feel less British. It is, mind you, still set in Britain and the dialogue alone attests to that from time to time. Maybe some small adjustments have been made in the bargain so it’s just not quite as British. But, to heck with it, I do enjoy the American version of “The Office!” If you’re not easily won over, this different Giant Days may throw you threw a loop but, at the end of the day, it’s very funny. I dare say, what with all the changes, it has a nice charm about it.

“Giant Days #1” is available now. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Review: HIT: 1957 #1 (of 4)

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Las Vegas. It’s a dead end for some and paradise for others. Maybe it’s a little of both for Bonnie Brae. It’s 1957. A lot of water under the bridge since things heated up a couple of years ago. The plan had been to go incognito, start a new life in San Clemente as Marie. But, no, Marie was not going to be left alone so easy. If you were a fan of Hit: 1955, or if you’re new to the party and looking for some good noir comics, this new Hit series is for you.

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You’ve got the team of writer Bryce Carlson and artist Vanesa R. Del Rey back to deliver more. Each page is teaming with intrigue graced by Del Rey’s fluid line and Carlson’s gritty narrative. Los Angeles is one big corrupt mess. We find our anti-hero Detective Harvey Slater pushing back on Domino and his Syndicate. He can’t catch a break from the boys in Internal Affairs. And Bonnie Brae is missing. But that is only the beginning. We have ourselves here a deep and dark tale unfolding. Much transpires. A new killer on the loose. And, of course, you didn’t expect Bonnie to just sit still all this time, did you?

Good crime fiction needs to establish a rhythm quickly and then maintain it. Set up your hooks and beats. Cue the atmosphere. Lower the shades. Carlson loses no time creating a pattern and evoking a certain kind of melancholy. You need doomed characters who don’t know they’re doomed. Carlson rolls out our ongoing theme: “Things change. But people don’t.” Del Rey works wonders with her brush: scribbles here form a shadow, overlapping lines there build up to loose crosshatching signifying lust, despair, and a cavalier stare back at death.

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“HIT: 1957 #1” is available as of March 25. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Review: HALOGEN #1 (of 4)

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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: Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1 (of 6)

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Marceline is having a really tough time in her latest series, “Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift.” In the first issue, she just can’t seem to write songs worth a hoot when she used to know greatness. And, to make things worse, she’s really harsh on Jake. Hey, the guy was turned into a human (human/dog?) target for frustration as Marceline vents, disparaging nachos and everything Jake, and Finn, hold dear. It’s really time for Marceline to go off somewhere and chill out. But this is Marceline The Vampire Queen so it’s not going to be easy. Written by Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) and drawn by indie talent Carey Pietsch, this is quite an epic story we see unfold.

It turns out that Marceline is so out of control angry that she’s stirred up some serious bad mojo. She’s got the whole kingdom of Ooo upset and that puts Princess Bubblegum in quite an awkward position. Marce and Bubblegum are pals, right? Marceline’s belligerence forces the princess to respond but she overdoes it by casting Marceline into deep space. And now our story really takes off as Princess Bubblegum must rescue Marceline. The art and writing are fun and zippy. Compositions are nicely balanced. It’s really fun to follow to the last page.

“Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift #1” is available as of January 14, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at BOOM! Studios right here.

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Review: THE COLLECTOR by Sergio Toppi

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You want to know which cartoonists rank among the very best? Well, consider Sergio Toppi (11 October 1932 – 21 August 2012), a masterful Italian cartoonist and illustrator. His work will have you in awe. And, among his best work, “The Collector” is a must-read. It is now available, for the first time, in English, published in a hardcover edition by Archaia, an imprint of Boom! Studios. Let’s have a look.

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Review: SIRENS #1 by George Pérez

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George Pérez hits a home run with “Sirens,” his new creator-owned comic published by Boom! Studios. Striking from various times and places, Pérez delivers a story that looks every bit as good as his landmark work on such titles as Wonder Woman and Scarlet Witch. This new six-issue run has got it all. We begin in Iceland in 1104 and a ragtag group of Norsemen marauders have grown impatient with Fanisha, a mysterious mystic, who had promised them a treasure to be had at a legendary cave. Little do they know, Fanisha has plans of her own.

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Comic-Con 2014: Vanesa R. Del Rey and HIT: PEN & INK

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Vanesa R. Del Rey is an artist with quite an intriguing sensibility. She loves what she does and leaves us in awe with her dangerous women being all bad and mysterious. BOOM! Studios is showcasing that bewitching talent in the debut issue of an exciting new series, focusing on bright new talent. In “Hit: Pen & Ink,” you’ll get your Del Rey fix and then some.

Details follow:

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