Romulus Augustus is one of the most vilified and controversial of leaders in history. Known as “Romulus Augustulus,” or “Little Augustus,” he was the product of a coup that was ill-fated from the very start. His father, Orestes, in charge of the military, pushed out the emperor, Julius Nepos. Then Orestes installed the boy as emperor. Romulus reigned over the last days of the Roman Empire. His reign lasted less than a year, from AD 475 to AD 476. Orestes, arrogant and distracted, would be overwhelmed by a mutiny led by one of his own senior officers, Flavius Odoacer. In short order, Orestes would be executed. Romulus would be sent into exile. The boy king remained an enigma, a mystery. Travis Horseman adds to this intrigue with his comic book series, “Amiculus: A Secret History.”
Procopius of Caesarea continues to find the true story of Romulus, the boy emperor.
The details add up very nicely in this well-researched comic narrative based on Romulus Augustus. Travis Horseman has created one of the most unique works in comics which combines elements of speculative history and the supernatural. The second volume to “Amiculus: A Secret History” is truly a second act, an opportunity to delve deeper into the characters. We learn more about each player including the evil force lurking amid the shadows, the mysterious figure Amiculus. It is this demonic Amiculus who enables the barbarian hordes to overrun the western region of the Roman Empire which Orestes and Romulus only had a tenuous grasp on to begin with.
What is Amiculus?
This comic is a fine example of what is possible when a creator gets fully immersed in a subject. Horseman has teamed up with a kindred soul in artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo. Both are driven and that resonates with the reader. While the narrative can get bloody, it is not exploitive violence. Essentially, it is strategic and, at times, only implied. Much of the blood is due to the ruthless Orestes. But this would not be story without his bloodlust. That said, I think this would prove a great gateway for teens to learn more about ancient Rome. I would also not be surprised to see the Amiculus series adapted for television or some other format on the screen. For now, we have this very inventive and engaging comic.
It is high time we talked about goblins. You like goblins, don’t you? The Green Goblin has maligned the good name of these creatures. Take Farlaine the Goblin. He’s a tree-loving shaman! In fact, Farlaine the Goblin is a lovable little guy who seeks out fun and adventure and the main character of this wonderful all-ages comics series.
Farlaine the Goblin books
The creator of this comic wishes to remain in the background. We just know him as, J. Having had a chance to read the first four books in the series, I salute J. Not only that, I congratulate J on a terrific Kickstarter campaign that ends May 18th! Every penny helps when you’re a cartoonist. Check out the KS campaign and join in right here.
Reading Farlaine the Goblin
I get a lot of comics to consider for review. I have read a lot of comics, believe me. What I appreciate about the Farlaine the Goblin series is its determined spirit and engaging whimsy. It is not easy to maintain that jovial tone throughout such an ambitious work as this, comparable to the work of Jeff Smith. Each book in the series follows Farlaine the Goblin as he searches for a forest he can truly call his own. But he will need to go through a number of adventures before he reaches his goal. This is a comic that will easily provide a laugh and lift your spirits. We can always use more of these comics that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Panel from Farlaine the Goblin
“Farlaine the Goblin ~ Completing the Series” is the Kickstarter campaign in support of completing the 7 volume all-ages comic about a tree goblin shaman trying to find a forest. Books 1-4 have been released. J is embarking upon the remaining volumes, 5-7. Keep up with Farlaine the Goblin right here. And follow Farlaine the Goblin on Facebook right here.
We all miss the Star Wars comics from Dark Horse. We miss the intriguing detail, the swagger, the sly humor. But the talent that brought you that magic is still around. And there are new tales to tell. Enter King Tiger, written by Randy Stradley (Star Wars, Aliens vs. Predator) and illustrated by Doug Wheatley (Star Wars, Aliens).
There’s just something about this comic, and its confident execution, that will hook you in. Supernatural forces are on the offensive. They will take what they want, sacrifice human lives, wreak havoc. But a sorcerer and martial artist, known as King Tiger, may have the strength and cunning to bring them down.
This first issue sets the bar high and there’s no doubt this story is going to prove itself worthy. First off, King Tiger is very likable and mysterious. His girlfriend, Rikki, has made a man out of him. He appears to have formidalbe magical powers. But we know very little else about Tiger. And he likes it that way. His sidekick, Milo, makes for perfect comic relief. And Tiger is about to embark on the most challenging, and deadly, case of his career.
Stradley masterfully handles the narrative with just the right touches. We get an eerie refrain about how humanity is much better off just giving up hope that strikes a perfect creepy chord. Wheatley has a wonderful way with bringing life to his characters. We instantly gravitate to them. We know Rikki means stability. We know Milo means comedy. And we know Tiger is going to lead the hell out of this adventure.
King Tiger #1 is on sale August 12th. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.
Dark Horse unleashes The Keller Bros’ “Death Head,” a supernatural-horror thriller and it hits all the creepy notes just right! There’s a lot of great titles from Dark Horse and this is one of them. Here’s one for you that exemplifies the Dark Horse sensibility. Here’s something that has the writing and artwork chops to give you a good scare. It taps into the classic bogeyman archetype with a fresh and down-to-basics approach.
In a smooth and seemingly effortless manner, we follow three different stories that are all connected in some way with our bogeyman. We don’t know much at all about him in this first issue. But we get some clues: this bogeyman is legendary and he’s very much alive. Good, so far. Joanna Estep provides first-rate horror comic art with dramatic settings and believable characters. This is all complemented by warm and spooky coloring by Kelly Fitzpatrick.
The characters in each subplot are all worthy of further study. We have Justine and Niles Burton, a couple on vacation in a national park. We have Lena and Maggie, two misfits in a Catholic girls school. And we have Bee, a little boy who is bullied into a tunnel where he meets Rosie, who appears to be a ghost. Oh, and there is quite a connection here: Justine and Niles are the parents of Maggie and Bee. You can just imagine all the possibilities when you have a family separated and a super scary killer has targeted them.
For this first issue, I really don’t think I could spoil anything. It’s a great setting up of events and anticipation for what’s to come. For something like this to work, well, it needs to jump out and grab somebody like me who has read a lot of stuff and has a pretty solid quality detector. This title passes with flying colors.
And this comic is sure to satisfy a huge Keller Bros. fan base: Zack Keller (cocreator of “Dick Figures,” the Streamy, IAWTV, and Annie Award–nominated web series with 650 million+ YouTube views) and Nick Keller (Turner of the Century). With “Death Head,” Zack and Nick Keller together deliver a supernatural-horror thriller about family and creeping, terrifying murder!
“Death Head #1” is out on July 15, 2015. It’s 32 pages and priced at $3.99. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.
You need to check out the video that shows you how a page from this comic is created. Tyler Crook is one of the best in the business. You’ll know him from his work on “B.P.R.D.,” a flagship comic from Dark Horse Comics. Now, he does Dark Horse proud with “Harrow County.” This one is a doozy, written by Cullen Bunn, the creator of the smash hit comics series, “The Sixth Gun.”
“Harrow County” is a southern gothic fairy tale. On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Emmy learns that she is somehow connected to the monster-infested woods she has lived nearby all her life. Wow. What more could you ask for, right?
It all began as an uneasy understanding amongst the townspeople to coexist with the witch, Hester Beck. But, once Hester had the town’s children involved in her rites, the tolerance gave way. And, once the rumors piled up about Hester engaged in unnatural acts with hideous creatures in the woods, there was nothing left to do. Kill the witch, that was the solution. And as the fire ate away at her flesh, the witch warned the townspeople that she would return.
Many years later, cut to Emmy, a young woman haunted by her surroundings. She knows that something’s wrong about Harrow County, just not sure exactly what. The woods. She’ll find the answers in the woods.
This first issue will definitely win you over. Bunn and Crook have mastered the art of the spooky. This thing has taken off. Enjoy. The gap between the inner world and the outer world is paper thin. That sensation of exposing our inner world to the outside, resulting in horror, is what French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan called “glissage.” Harrow County has seen plenty of this. And Emmy is now sure they haven’t seen the last of it. She’s dead sure of it.
“Harrow County #1” is 32 pages, priced at $3.99, available as of May 13. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.
First, you need to know how cool this book is. Imagine your favorite late night college radio show. And the deejay is Jason V Brock, the author of this book, “Disorders of Magnitude.” You rely upon Jason to provide insights and intriguing facts as he connects the dots. Good, so far? Well, it gets even better. We’re talking about a multitude of connections, some from on high and some from on low. It’s not easy to categorize it all but Brock manages to collect a lot of essential wisdom and in a very accessible presentation. The college radio analogy is fitting since “Disorders of Magnitude” falls under an academic book category. It is right at home as part of a college course. But it is also the perfect companion for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of where we are today in terms of the entertainment we consume, particularly dark fantasy.
Divided into six parts, with a wide scope of offerings within, the intent is to give order to what might seem at first, like an ooey gooey disorder. How do you reconcile great literature alongside B-movies? In fact, there’s a certain frenetic energy running throughout as Brock maintains a sense of urgency to his prose. And, of course, the numerous chapters here invite picking subjects at random to dive into, with each concise chapter running a few pages. One excellent point of entry is Chapter 14 in Part Three which discusses the formation and evolution of The Group, the science fiction writers in Los Angeles during the ’50s and ’60s that would go on to create work in novels, film, and television, including the iconic and culturally significant, “The Twilight Zone,” television series. This one article alone proves to be an exemplary example of the book as a whole as it navigates through various eras and aspects of culture and entertainment.
“In the beginning is the dream,” states Brock in reference to The Group. They begin, like any band of pioneers, with “the crazy notion that they are somehow different–that they can leave a permanent mark on society, make a difference in the world.” It is this bravado and deep yearning that sustains men like Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson, and many others. They look up to two men who lead the way: Ray Bradbury, who is already established; and the firebrand Charles Beaumont destined upon his own unique path. And we keep coming back to The Group as Brock revels in chronicling their lives and provides here many interviews with the key figures on the scene.
Heading back from whence we came, Brock sets the stage with the opening article. “Frankenstein” was published anonymously in 1818 and, with that, the monster of horror and science fiction was unequivocally unleashed. Brock is great with setting up a mood to a time and place. He describes in detail the utterly strange weather conditions that, in no small way, gave rise to “Frankenstein” and other melancholic and moody art and writing. This all came about from a volcano in Indonesia. Its eruption in 1815, the largest ever witnessed in recorded human history, sent plumes of volcanic ash into the skies above around the globe for over a year forever altering life, and artistic sensibility, down below.
We steadily move to another chapter and other great writers in the gothic tradition: Poe, Stevenson, Stoker. Then we jump to another chapter and the next wave exemplified by H.P. Lovecraft and his evocation of the “fear of the unknown.” And after that, we take a significant turn with a chapter devoted to Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008). Like the activities of The Group, Ackerman figures heavily in Brock’s studies of pop culture. And it only stands to reason given Ackerman’s pivotal role in the scheme of things that, you must keep in mind, touches upon virtually every aspect of pop culture as we know it today: movies, games, television, comics, music, novels, the internet, and our own precious sensibilities.
Ackerman is, indeed, another circle of influence too large to hold in just one chapter and he, like other persons and movements, overlaps into other chapters. Ackerman did quite a lot in his day, including work as a literary agent to some of the greatest writers in science fiction. Taking it all into a whole, you can say that his main achievement was to assign value to, archive, and make accessible the very things so many held dear: the horror movies of childhood; the dazzling science fiction of yesteryear; the growing world of fandom as we’ve come to know it today. It was Ackerman’s comprehensive and energetic role in legitimizing a myriad of elements that contributed to a more egalitarian view on culture in general.
In a very real sense, Brock has taken on the mantle of Forry Ackerman. It is that heartfelt dedication to the things he loves that you will find in this collection of his writings.
The team of writer Paul Tobin and artist Joe Querio have created some more magic with their reuniting for another Witcher adventure. Does Witcher go on adventures? He’s such a low-key guy. He did end up on a misadventure last time.
That’s what Witcher does: sort of ends up on misadventures. For this one, he has a trusty dwarf. He’s rather tall for a dwarf and quite pudgy but he’s a feisty guy. The two of them stumble upon a bad idea that just keeps getting worse. Let’s say you were a wandering warlock/poet and you just happened upon a mighty ship heading to your favorite port. But it’s teeming with suspicious characters. You wouldn’t just jump on board and take your chances, would you? Well, Witcher does. And thus begins our tale.
You just got to love Tobin’s droll sense of humor and understated style. A Witcher tale can start any time and any place The dude is up for anything. But he can get quite adamant when he sees danger up ahead. Danger is a bad thing one should avoid. As a rule, Witcher doesn’t take foolish risks. Maybe a calculated risk here and there, mind you. But what was Witcher thinking this time? His overly cautious sense of danger was completely out to lunch. He really is on a ship of fools! One by one, we learn just how foolish and stupid these men are. And stupid is a bad thing, just as bad as danger.
It’s gets spookier from here on out. It is definitely a fine example of the Dark Horse danse macabre: gloom and doom, spiked with a touch of whimsy. Lucky for us, Joe Querio draws the hell out of this story, complimented by wicked earthy colors by Carlos Badilla. The opening scenes set the stage for all that is to follow. You’ve got Geralt, aka The Witcher, having to placate, Dwarf, his rotund assistant’s ranting. Out of nowhere, a huge wild boar nearly mauls Dwarf. Witcher instantly kills, and roasts, the boar, to Dwarf’s delight. No sooner has Dwarf set his sights on a boar snack than he confronts a rival for his meal. This creature mirrors the size and shape of the boar and is fives times bigger. It’s all a wonderful mash-up of the Brothers Grimm and Game of Thrones.
And what about the fox children? Oh, you’ll find out soon enough.
“The Witcher: Fox Children #1” is available as of April 1. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.
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.
Cats have never been, nor ever will be, domestic servants. It just goes against their very nature. However, in Megan Kelso’s new minicomic, “Cats in Service,” she makes a strong case for it. Of course, it’s not simple. There are complications.
In “The Babadook,” the bogeyman in this movie is especially frightening, on a level that will have you wrestling with your own demons. And you never really see it. Even though you do. As fast as you may find yourself on the verge of exposing a trusty horror movie trope, this film moves faster. It certainly doesn’t shirk from one of the biggest tropes of them all: the conflict between being normal versus being different.
What if that troubled little boy, Samuel, could just get with the program and act normally? Maybe there’s some medication he could take to control him? But what if medication is far from what is needed here? Samuel (played by Noah Wiseman) has a compelling answer to that as the film’s focus, its lightning rod.