Comics

Comic books and graphic novels

Fri
27
Mar

Indie Comics Spotlight: Hero Tomorrow

Apama 1

If you're like a lot of other places in the country, you're probably "sheltered in place," either working from home or just stuck at home without work.

If you're a comics fan, you've also been hit by Diamond Distributors closing down operations for the duration, leaving your local comics store without new merchandise, meaning even the stores that were remaining open during the coronovirus outbreak will hurt. (For more about that, check out our conversation with two retailers on how they plan to cope with the situation.)

However, while the Diamond shutdown definitely impacts Marvel and DC shipments, there are a lot of independent comics creators out there who sell directly to the consumer outside of Diamond, with product that may have been crowded out by the larger lines of titles from the Big Two, and this is a good opportunity to check them out.

Mon
09
Mar

Strange Adventures, Strange Questions: Tom King Renews Interest in Earth's First Spaceman

Strange Adventures 1

You only have to go a few pages in to STRANGE ADVENTURES #1 before you know you're in a Tom King book. The traditional hallmarks are there -- the repetitive cycles of daily life that become a routine of ennui, even in the life of someone who regularly participates in the extraordinary.

Adam Strange is Earth's first spaceman. An archeologist by trade, Adam chanced upon an encounter with a Zeta Beam, a transportation ray that strikes Earth at specific times and teleports whoever it hits across the galaxy to the planet Rann, ravaged by pollution and in perpetual war with itself. Naturally, he becomes a hero, being a virile man of Earth. It's reminescent of Edgar Rice Burroughs' JOHN CARTER series in that respect.

Fri
06
Mar

Blood in the Water: Fowler Double-Scalps Murphy, TenNapel

Blood in the Water Fowler Murphy TenNapel

It's been a while since indie comics pro Tess Fowler has claimed another career in the comics industry. That dry spell may be over now, depending on how events shape up after today's astonishing announcement from DC Comics writer/artist Sean Gordon Murphy, the driving force behind the best-selling BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT franchise.

In fact, reception to the WHITE KNIGHT line has been so encouraging to DC that they gave him the reigns to his own little universe -- the Murphyverse -- with power to hire talent for issues that would appear between extended runs.

Thu
05
Mar

Barbara the Barbarian Gets Solo Series from Amigo Comics

Barbara the Barbarian Issue 1 from Amigo

Bounding out of the pages of Amigo's ROGUES comes BARBARA THE BARBARIAN in this first issue, which tells the savage swordswoman's origin in flashbacks while putting her on the path to a new adventure -- with old traveling companions and old adversaries.

Accompanied by her fun-seeking partners, Blast and Clenk, Barbara sets out for a new city with plans to hide out and maintain a low profile. It's a pipe dream at best, given the impulsive nature of the two men. But it ends up being Barbara who blows their cover when she chances to encounter Hocker, a fence for stolen goods, leading to a chase that brings her back into confrontation with a trio of female warriors who she has bested in combat before.

Sun
01
Mar

Hickman's House of X Delivers Best Comics Story of 2019 to Marvel

House of X Best Comic 2019

Comics fans run both hot and cold. One of our favorite activities is kvetching about how some of the big comic stories are going in odd, strange, uncomfortable, or flat-out wrong directions. But ask us what our favorites are? Well, then we'll switch gears and tell you all why those exact same stories are captivating our attention and why you should be reading them too!

And so it that we had quite a number of votes for our nominees for Best Comics Story of 2019, starting with some independent titles who made some impressive debuts, like WHITE WIDOW (Absolute Comics) and BIGFOOT BILL (Doug TenNapel).

Fri
28
Feb

Drawn to Success: Best Comics Artist of 2019 is Ivan Reis

Ivan Reis Superman Best Comics Artist 2019

In the five years of running the Critical Blast Best Awards, we've never sweated bullets as much as we have over this year's Best Comics Artist category. Every day we peeked in on the results, the top spot would belong to someone different, and the margins were nearly microscopic! And while there was a minor skirmish going on at the lower end of the poll between independent crowdfunding publishers Doug TenNapel and Ethan Van Sciver (who won this award for 2017), the real battle was taking place between Gary Frank (DOOMSDAY CLOCK), J. Scott Campbell (BLACK CAT) and Ivan Reis (SUPERMAN).

Thu
27
Feb

2019's Best Comics Writer: Scott Snyder

Scott Snyder Justice League Best Writer 2019

Looking back over 2019, there were a number of high-profile comic arcs that caught the attention of the fans. Some of those were the annual event or non-canonical runs, like Tom Taylor's DCEASED, which brought a zombie apocalypse to the DC Universe. Geoff Johns' sequel to WATCHMEN, DOOMSDAY CLOCK crossed universes to tell it's tale, while Jonathan Hickman received critical acclaim for his remastering of Marvel's mighty mutants in HOUSE OF X. 

But there were also notable runs this past year in your ongoing series that focused our eyes on the people crafting the latest twists and turns in the lives of our favorite characters. Brian Michael Bendis stunned us by having Superman reveal his identity publicly to the world, while Donny Cates and Kelly Thompson enjoyed the increased readership on their titles, VENOM and CAPTAIN MARVEL thanks to the appearance of their characters in theatrical films.

Tue
25
Feb

Ben McKenzie Takes Best Actor in Broadcast Series in 2019 Readers' Poll

Ben McKenzie Best Series Actor 2019

It used to be that we voted on the best actor of a television series. But ever since the advent of streaming services, we've struggled for what to call the collective shows that are available many different ways. Sometimes we still catch ourselves saying "Best Actor in a TV Series" even if the show, technically, didn't get shown on a traditional television broadcast.

The past year was a surfeit of choices for pop culture fans, especially if you wanted some live action superhero drama. And while some of the streaming shows got a nod, it was still the tradional broadcast media that led the pack this year, with RIVERDALE's Cole Sprouse taking 16 percent of the votes, just trailing Jean Smart for her portrayal of Agent Laurie Blake in HBO's WATCHMEN.

Sat
22
Feb

Ten Potential Suggestions to Replace Dan DiDio at DC Comics

Dan DiDio out as Publisher at DC Comics

There's a power vacuum at the hallowed halls of DC Comics, home to supehero icons such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. On Friday, February 21, a late-day announcement was made that Dan DiDio was no longer the co-publisher of the stable of titles.

Speculation immediately spread throughout the fandom, wondering what this might mean for DC Comics. What was the reason for the sudden departure? Would a replacement be named? What impact would this have on DiDio's pet project, the heavily touted "5G" or "Generation 5" launch coming later in the year?

While those are questions for which we await answers with bated breath, we thought it would be a fun little exercise to look at some of the candidates in the industry that might find themselves suddenly getting a call to interview for the open position.

Fri
21
Feb

Tom Taylor's DCeased Franchise is Unkillable, Launches Sequel

DCeased Unkillables 1

Tom Taylor's DCU Zombieverse marches -- or perhaps, I should say -- shambles on with this new chapter set in the strange new world of the zombie apocalypse...with superheroes!

After Darkseid released a corrupted anti-life equation (which killed him and all of Apokolips), Cyborg became the seed for infecting the rest of the Earth when it broadcast from him to every digital device on the planet. If you looked at a screen, you saw the equation. If you saw the equation, you became a zombie...who could, of course, make other zombies by scratching, biting or otherwise enountering another human being. Or Themysciran. Or Kryptonian.

Fri
21
Feb

Whose (Punch) Line Is It, Anyway?

Punchline, Punchline, Punchline and Punchline

DC Comics' newest character sparks conversation over character usage and marks.

BATMAN #89 was an instant -- and unexpected -- sellout this week when DC introduced a partial profile cameo of a new character, Punchline. Meant to be a female partner/paramour for The Joker, one once wouldn't have expected much from such a character. Except the last time the role was filled, it went to Harley Quinn, whose first comic book appearance can net over $600, and whose media presence has skyrocketed even further after appearances in mainstream films like SUICIDE SQUAD and BIRDS OF PREY.

So it's natural for speculators to hit the streets to pick up what they are assured is the first appearance of Punchline.

But what if they're wrong?

What if I told you the first appearance of Sabertooth wasn't IRON FIST #14, but... THE FLASH #291?

What if I told you the first apperance of Doomsday wasn't MAN OF STEEL #17, but... SILVER SURFER #13?

Tue
18
Feb

Lobdell, Northcott Swing for the Fences with Everglade Angels GN

Everglade Angels

The titular EVERGLADE ANGELS are a girls' baseball team whose trip to the championships leads them into the arms of masked killers deep in the Florida swamps.

It's 1997, and the Everglade Angels have clinched their trip to the playoffs, due in no small part to the outstanding performance of Gemma Walsh, daughter of team coach Abigail Walsh. Gemma's definitely the alpha among the team players, the main ones being Naomi, Lacey, Grace and Portia. The five girls decide to drive themselves to the championship game, and this is where their adventure takes a wrong turn -- literally.

Finding themselves lost in a small town, the girls get diverted to a party -- except there's no party there. Instead, there are masked men with weapons, and a strange chemical. They abduct Gemma, as the rest run off for their lives, only to return later to attempt a rescue.

Sat
08
Feb

With Shades of Hush, is Batman's Latest Epic Planned Too Precisely?

Batman 88 2020

Bruce Wayne's plans for the revitalization of Gotham City get put on hold when five of the deadliest contract killers show up -- among them Cheshire and Deathstroke. (Sorry, Merlyn and the other two forgettables wouldn't have made y radar as the top five DC mercenaries.) Batman quickly captures them and has them put into the "Black Box" at Gotham PD -- a special holding cell designed by Batman and paid for by Bruce Wayne (really, the detectives at GCPD must have gotten their badges in a Cracker Jack box). Yes, Batman now has a "Pipeline" similar to that in THE FLASH, and it's super duper secure, even if Batman does have his own secret built-in entrance to it.

Tue
04
Feb

Comicsgate Scores Expendables IP

Expendables Go To Hell

Sylvester Stallone has confirmed via his Twitter account that the greenlight has officially been given for a comic book extension of THE EXPENDABLES, the action franchise that specializes in reuniting actors from classic action films into the ultimate action team-up adventure.

That, in and of itself, is big news.

What is perhaps bigger news is the venue selected for the venture: an Indiegogo campaign, managed by start-up publisher Richard C. Meyer. If you don't know the name, you probably haven't been following the comics industry online for the past few years. Meyer is one of the most recognizable names in the loose-knit and frequently highly contentious confederation of independent creators collectively known as Comicsgate, an entity that has been attacked from without almost as much as it has from within.

Sat
01
Feb

After Vertigo, Good Horror Returns to DC with The Dollhouse Family

THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is the first Black Label title from DC I've seen that wasn't in a prestige format size. This makes me happy for more than one reason, but mostly because i don't always have to pay the price point necessary for the oversized prestige formatted books.

This comic is also what Andy Khouri should have been courting to the Vertigo line before it became a corpse so decayed it can't even be used for good fertilizer. Or perhaps Chris Conroy should have been given the editor's position earlier. But, it's fruitless to become lachrymose over upturned dairy, so let's take a forward-looking approach, because THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is a positive step forward for DC mature horror.

Fri
24
Jan

Villain vs Villain as Tynion Raises Hell at DC Comics

Hell Arisen 2

The fallout from METAL continues as the evolutionarily perfected Lex Luthor serves as a John the Baptist for the goddess Perpetua, paving the way for her conquest of everything. Only one person stands in his path -- The Batman Who Laughs, the evil Joker-fied Batman from the Dark Multiverse. TBWL has spread the dark infection to six heroes, five of whom attack Luthor at his safehouse -- which turns out to be one of his employee's apartments he long ago modified without her knowledge.

Lex is not only outnumbered, but he's up against the powers of Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), King Shazam (Shazam), Deathbringer (Donna Troy), Sky Tyrant (Hawkman), and Scarab (Blue Beetle). Anyone else would give up, but Luthor -- who was already the smartest man alive before his augmentation -- has already defeated all five of them while they were posturing. It's all over except for the actual doing of it, which proves to be simplicity itself.

Tue
14
Jan

What's in Bettie Page's Head? Giant Alien Wasps Want to Know.

Bettie Page Unbound 9

Bettie Page has seen her share of aliens, both from this dimension and from others.

Now she finds herself up against the Praesepods -- a race of giant wasps looking to take over the Earth (not to be confused with the Vyzpzz, a race of giant wasps looking to take over the Earth in another book). One has taken over the identity of her friend, Agent McKnight, and another has taken on the form of Bettie herself.

Thu
09
Jan

The Best Fight in Comics is in Batman #86 -- And It's All Off-Panel!

Batman 86 2020

It feels like it's been forever in the offing, but BATMAN #86 is a breath of fresh air after the prolonged storyline that bogged down the title for the past few years.

With his longtime confidante and manservant, Alfred Pennyworth, having been laid to rest, Bruce Wayne decides to take on a new mission to honor his friend, a mission presented to him on many past occasions and always turned down: a Gotham that didn't need Batman. To that end, Bruce has dusted of his plans for a revamp of the city and fast-tracked them through all the zoning commissions. With construction already underway, however, there are forces out there that want to see their own plans for Gotham come to light.

Tue
07
Jan

Action Comics 1018 Hits Bottom and Starts Digging

Action Comics 1018

It's been a while since I've poked my head inside the Superman universe of books, and with the news surrounding the impending release of Superman's self-reveal, I thought it might be a good idea to check in on the latest installment of the Man of Steel, by way of ACTION COMICS 1018.

To say the issue was a disappointment is to do a disservice to language.

Let's start with the cover. Advertising a guest appearance by the Justice League pretty much means that, in the background, you see their bodies strewn about as they have been clobbered. But that cover blurb is perhaps the best drawn part of the book's frontispiece. The rest of it is a sketchy mess, featuring Superman front and center and some hastily doodled Justice League members in the background -- plus what looks to be a frozen or electrocuted Starman in the lower left.

That should have been my first warning to back away, slowly, and put my wallet back in my pocket.

Sun
05
Jan

Soule and Saiz Give Fans a New Hope with Marvel's Star Wars #1 Comic

Marvel Comics Star Wars #1 2020

Over the last few years, the foundation of STAR WARS fandom has been a little shaky. We've seen one writer ignominiously ousted from the extended universe, several directors fired from the sequels and ancillary films, and controversy among the fandom over the way the final trilogy was handled from start to finish. Basically, if you're handed the reigns to do something with STAR WARS these days, you stand a good chance of slitting your own throat.

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