Tag Archives: mike mignola

Review: BALTIMORE: EMPTY GRAVES #1 (of 5)

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This new Baltimore story arc proves to be quite satisfying. This one finds Baltimore and his band of brothers telling tales while they dig graves. The graves aren’t all quite ready for use but these guys seem to know what they’re doing. I love the artwork by Peter Bergting who provides a sure-handed take on Mike Mignola’s style. The story, by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, kicks off with a reliable dose of droll and quirky narrative. Quite a number of things are set into motion not the least of which is Baltimore learning more about the whereabouts of the Blood Red Witch and seeing her handiwork firsthand.

I fall in with readers who decide now is a good time to step in. I think it is part of the fun to find your way into the big picture of plot and characters. For instance, I appreciate that I need to go back and read The Cult of the Red King, but that’s okay. This issue is engaging without prior knowledge. For one thing, it gives you some interesting hooks into Baltimore’s backstory such as his Indian guide, Harish. He saw some pretty dark stuff during his command of the Indian Expeditionary Force while on a mission in Tanganyika. Could have been destruction by zombies, you just never know.

The love for atmosphere and setting is definitely alive here as both artist Peter Bergting and colorist Dave Stewart add to and enhance the Mignolaverse. If you love steampunk, or just general exotica, you can’t go wrong with scenes set in such times and places as St. Petersburg, Russia, circa 1920. That’s pretty strange and weird, right? Well, not to a regular fan of the Mignolaverse. No, to a diehard fan, that’s as common as the 7-Eleven down on the corner. But have that very same fan try and get a chili dog in 1920s St. Petersburg, and he’s going to come back down to earth. You know, come to think of it, 7-Eleven should sell comic books. Bring back the spinner rack!

So, here is a solid issue to what looks to be a action-packed adventure. It fits right in with a busy next few months as Dark Horse Comics rolls out the conclusions to Hellboy in Hell, Abe Sapien, and Hell on Earth over the course of this summer. Also from Dark Horse this summer is the 384-page prose anthology, “Children of Lovecraft.” For such a recluse, Howard Phillips Lovecraft sure did leave behind a thriving literary progeny. Dark Horse Comics is part of that and this book is a shining example with work by Richard Kadrey, Brian Hodge, A. C. Wise, Siobhan Carroll, Orrin Grey, and many more. This item goes on sale August 31 with cover art by Mike Mignola.

Continuing with the subject of Mike Mignola, there is a new study of the Mignolaverse, “Hellboy’s World: Comics and Monsters on the Margins” by Scott Bukatman. This book is an insightful look at the influences on Hellboy, including H.P. Lovecraft. You’ll find a review for it here shortly. Well, with all that said, you will undoubtedly find something to enjoy from Dark Horse if you are a Hellboy fan or just someone who enjoys good horror and a good story.

BALTIMORE: EMPTY GRAVES #1 is available as of April 6, 2016. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under comic books, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Hellboy, Mike Mignola

Advance Review: FRANKENSTEIN UNDERGROUND #1

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There are all sorts of horror to consume and a Mike Mignola horror comic book is one of the best across any form. And then you bring to that one the horror canon’s greatest, Frankenstein, and it sets up something worthy of taking notice. This is not, say Frankenstein vs. Superman or Spider-Man, as much fun as that can be. No, this runs much deeper as you have two distinct visions in horror coming together that have exceptional qualities that naturally fit together. It’s more akin to Boris Karloff bringing his unique sensibility to the character of Frankenstein’s monster. But let’s jump in and check this out.

First of all, I love the fact that this Frankenstein is not just about long stares and grunts. The guy can actually hold a conversation. And I’m intrigued by the additional bolts. He has two big bolts where his nipples should be. Is this for when he needs a really special electrical jolt? I’m just saying. So, this Frankenstein fits right into the quirky, dark, deadpan, and offbeat humor that is the universe of Mike Mignola. And what does the big buy have to say for himself? Basically, he’s not too happy. He’s feeling very regretful for what might have been as he wanders in search of greater meaning. Yeow, that’s more Mignola-speak coming out of the iconic monster than any fan has a right to hope for. So, for you newcomers, this is what to expect: a Frankenstein who is more freaky, intellectual, and downright moody.

This first issue, written by Mignola, drawn by Ben Stenbeck, and colored by Dave Stewart is a knock-out. Now, your hardcore Mignola fans can tell you about the roots to this story. They’ll direct you to that time when Mike Mignola’s celebrated character, Hellboy, got into the ring and actually fought Frankenstein in Mexico in 1956. Yes, Mexico in 1956! Mexico! 1956! You see, another wonderful trait in any Mignola story is the seemingly random pairing of an exotic locale with an obscure date. Why Mexico? Why 1956? It just is what it is. And it’s fun. Here’s the deal, way back when Hellboy fought Frankenstein, nobody knew for sure that it was indeed Frankenstein. But now we know that, yes, it is.

So, again, I ask you, why Mexico in 1956? Well, it’s actually a pretty cool backdrop. Not only do you have the pairing of Mignola and Frankenstein but you can also add to the mix all the magical and spooky Aztec tradition and, to top it off, you have the overall crazy that was the ’50s. Imagine a Day of the Dead celebration times one hundred. Because that’s what it would have been like in Mexico in 1956. So, all this is very geeky fun and yet another fitting tribute to one of the greatest characters in horror for all time, our pal, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein Underground #1 will be published by Dark Horse Comics on March 18, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Frankenstein, Mike Mignola

Review: LOBSTER JOHNSON #15, A Scent of Lotus (Part 2 of 2)

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Sebastian Fiumara’s refined and energetic artwork do great justice to the pulpy and gritty world of New York City, circa 1933, in Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s “Lobster Johnson.” The tale is pretty straightforward: certain Chinese individuals would like to send money back home to Manchuria but certain Japanese criminal elements keep stealing the money before it ever reaches the harbor. That’s where we find ourselves in issue #15, the second and last part to the story, “A Scent of Lotus.”

Imperial Japan’s recent conquest in China has left a Japanese foothold in Manchuria and its citizens under Japan’s rule. It’s created an opportunity for the Japanese underworld to exploit and for Lobster Johnson to try and fix. For Lobster, there’s only one way to go and that’s on the side of justice. There’s an eerie irony at play. After Lobster has just been nearly killed and he’s been advised to rest for a few weeks, his response is, “Justice will not wait.” It’s an ironic tip of the hat to what’s come before, like Milton Caniff’s “Terry and the Pirates” and the Dragon Lady. We enter that same ’30s era but with a more sophisticated sensibility in this story.

With that in mind, consider this: Lobster Johnson must confront the Crimson Lotus and her pack of monkeys! She’s not presented so much as the Other but as a common threat shared by all the characters, whatever their race. It’s an important distinction that seems to work. There’s no getting around the fact that the Crimson Lotus is a pretty exotic creature. She’s a Japanese spy that cannot be killed. She’s this enormous woman covered in traditional garb and heavy makeup. Her pack of monkeys wear masks that resemble her heavily done up appearance. She reads less as a human and more as a spirit with superpowers. She’s certainly a nice match for the equally theatrical, and otherworldly, Lobster.

Aside from all that, there’s a nice scene in a diner that I particularly like. Handsome detective dude tries to talk shop with attractive female reporter. They were once a couple and now, it seems, they can’t even chat over coffee and pie. All because of that Lobster fellow. Eckerd resents all the attention his ex-girlfriend lavishes on Lobster Johnson. He also resents being put on the spot when he’s searching for information to feed his own Lobster obsession. Well, maybe you don’t go to a cheap diner if you’re expecting any lobster.

“Lobster Johnson #15” is out now. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics

KICKSTARTER INTERVIEW: BEN MALKIN AND IAN DENSFORD AND BINAH

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“Binah,” in Jewish tradition, refers to wisdom and is the uppermost feminine element in the Godhead.

“Binah” is also the title of a graphic novel and a Kickstarter success story. It has reached one goal and is still going strong. Support the campaign here.

And “Binah,” the graphic novel, is one of the great things that can happen when superhero sensibilities mix with alternative comics. Some have called this type of mashup, “fusion comics.” Call it what you will, writer Ben Malkin and illustrator Ian Densford, have created something special.

This is the story of a woman, Binah, who is tired of all the nuclear posturing in her country and neighboring countires. It is only a matter of time before there is a conflict. One day, Binah, receives what she believes to be a sign from God. This triggers her to lead a movement to relocate her home and holy land before it’s too late. Incidentally, Binah has superpowers as do her inner team.

This Kickstarter project has successfully reached its initial funding goal and is currently pursuing stretcher goals to refine the project. You can find it all under, the Kickstarter campaign, “The ‘Binah’ Comics & Solilians 7-Inch Vinyl” which you can view here.

As an accompaniment to the comic, there is a 7″ vinyl that is part of the Kickstarter rewards system. Solilians is a showcase of space rock bands that you can find out more about here.

I got a chance to have an interview with both Ben and Ian and we discussed their current project, plans for the future, and a variety of thoughts on comics. Ben has some definite favorites which include Alan Moore, Harvey Pekar, and Brian Michael Bendis. Ian’s favorites include Mike Mignola and Cyril Pedrosa.

Listen to the full podcast interview here:

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You can keep up with “Binah” and Ben Malkin and Ian Densford at www.goodbyebetter.com. Also check out “Binah” here. And for more on what Ian Densford is up to with his art and illustrations, go here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Fusion Comics, Interviews, Kickstarter, Music, Superheroes