Comic books and graphic novels


Say Goodbye to the Marvel Universe!

Lots of big happens from the House of Ideas today.  After months of teasers, this afternoon Marvel Editors Tom Brevoort and Alex Alonso had a press conference at Midtown Comics in New York City to spill the beans on Secret Wars.

Some of the highlights of the Press Conference included:

- Some background on the Secret Wars events.  Apparently, Jonathan Hickman had pitched it to Marvel even before he had started working on Fantastic Four.  So everything Marvel has done in the last few years has been done through the intent of moving towards Secret Wars (including Avengers Vs X-Men, Age of Ultron, Axis, and Original Sins).

- They also called this the most coordinated event Marvel has ever done...though I am not sure how much of a ringing endorsement that is.  Original Sins had a major plot point happen off panel...


The Longbox Short-List - Week of January 21, 2015

Sergio Aragones' Groo the Wanderer (not a 'marginal' character)

Welcome to the first edition of The Longbox Short-List.  Each week, I am going to be posting my recommendations for the best comics to buy each week.  Just a warning, I make these picks BEFORE I actually read any of these comics, so if something is a stinker, I take no blame on that.











You can find the comics shipping next week at this link.


Marvel Launches $1 "Best of" Line

I'll buy THAT for a dollar!

From Newsarama:

Press Release

What can you get for a dollar? How about the Marvel Universe? Today, Marvel is proud to present TRUE BELIEVERS – a new line of comics debuting exclusively in comic shops this April. Printing the first chapter of popular series for the suggested retail price of $1 – TRUE BELIEVERS is the perfect way for readers interested in trying out some of Marvel’s most popular titles in history without breaking the bank.


Throne of Atlantis Gives DC Fans Violent Origin of Aquaman

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS is the direct follow-up to JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR, hinting that there may start being some continuity to the DC Universe Original Movie universe (and yes, I know that's a redundant use of 'universe'). With Darkseid's forces turned back, the world was introduced to a superhero team. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to tell the team that they were a team -- and as a result, when Steve Trevor (George Newbern) comes to Cyborg (Shemar Moore) with a mission to find a missing submarine carrying nuclear missiles, he is set up for a sore disappointment.

Meanwhile, on the coastal New England town of Mercy Reef, Arthur Curry (Matt Lanter) is getting drunk over the recent death of his father. He gets into a brawl with a group of heavies, and displays just how strong he is -- and is observed by an Atlantean bodyguard to Queen Atlanna.


Open Mike Night - Star Wars Double Feature

Open Mike Night

Maillaro: Welcome to Open Mike Night.  Although, since this is a relaunch (new home…same creative team), maybe we should call it Ultimate All-New 52 Open Mike Night Now!  Okay, maybe not.

Just a quick introduction.  My name is Mike Maillaro.  I am a newcomer to Critical Blast, but I’ve been writing reviews and columns for various sites for a long time.  Actually, the first comic review I ever wrote was for Crossgen’s Way of the Rat #1 way back in June 2002.   

I have been reading comics regularly since my mom used to buy me Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventure issues at our local taxi stand.   


Amazing X-Men #15 by Christopher Yost and Jorge Fornes

Amazing X-Men #15

Written by: Christopher Yost 

Art by: Jorge Fornes 

Colored by: Rachelle Rosenberg

Lettered by: VC's Joe Caramagna 

Cover by: Kris Anka

Published by: Marvel

Cover Price: $3.99

Note: This is a review of the digital version which can be found on Comixology.

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!


How Dynamite's Twilight Zone #11 Took Me Back to Childhood

Twilight Zone #11

Twilight Zone #11

J. Michael Straczynski (writer)

Guiu Vilanova (artist)

Francesco Francavilla ©

Dynamite Entertainment

(Rod Serling voiceover): “A busy day. A man sits at a desk. With too much to do, and not enough time to do it in the previous weeks, he finally has time to relax for a moment and ponder what he should have for lunch. Also, in the subconscious of his mind, the question of how he should spend the money he received for Christmas gnaws on him without him realizing it. What should he finally spend his cash on? The answer lies in an unexpected email...”

I remember when I was a kid. I remember snap shots of my childhood. I remember some great memories, and some that were not so great. But sometimes, memories fell into both categories, and I’ve always been kind of conflicted on how to feel about them.


Little Guy, Big Movie: Ant-Man Joins Marvel Movie Universe

Ant-Man Movie Poster

For those who know their AVENGERS lore, you already know that the movie team roster isn't quite the one shown in the team's comic book origin story. Someone's missing. Someone... big.

That someone would be Hank Pym, also known as Giant Man. But Pym had another superhero identity as well. (Let's face it, he's had several, but he can never escape the fact that he smacked his wife around.) Among those identities was Ant-Man, who could not only reduce himself to ant-size, but he could also telepathically communicate with ants; which, to the unimaginative, might make him the equivalent in power to Aquaman.


Grimm Tales of Terror Delivers Twist, But Not Surprise

Grimm Tales of Terror #6, Cover Art by Giuseppe Cafaro, Simone Di Meo and Ylenia Di Napoli

Monster Underneath
Writer: Shane McKenzie
Artwork: Claudia Balboni


The notion of a monster under the bed is, perhaps, one of the oldest bogeyman tropes in horror -- specifically because it's one of the most prevalent childhood fears.

Young Mindy is an orphan who is convinced that her bed harbors a slathering creature, and the other boys in the orphanage take advantage of her fears to torment her. But when Mindy's paradigm is challenged by her older foster sister, Rose, it puts a twist into the story that changes the dynamics of the relationship between Mindy and her monster.

Shane McKenzie's story has its ups and downs. It's established as a framework, with the adult Mindy having a first date. We immediately know the guy is a boor, so his intentions are quickly telegraphed to the reader.


TenNapel's Nnewts Epic Fantasy of Amphibious Proportions

Nnewts - Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel

Doug TenNapel introduces a new world to his fans with the first book of the NNEWTS series, ESCAPE FROM THE LIZZARKS. At its most basic level, NNEWTS pits peaceful amphibians against aggressive reptiles. Both sides employ different magics, with the Nnewts relying on their magician and the Lizzarks relying on their Wizzark (and yes, TenNapel knows how that sounds, and even pokes fun at the idea himself within the story).

When the Lizzarks invade Nnewtown, they kill ruthlessly. The only apparent escapee is young Herk, who has been cursed with tiny back legs which prevent him from walking out of the water. His flight leads him to a lost kingdom, a confrontation with an evil deity, and a lost colony of Nnewts, with hints of mystical connections Herk never knew he had.


Review: Cinderella: Age of Darkness (2 of 3)

Title: Cinderella: Age of Darkness (2 of 3)
Publisher: Zenescope
Creative Team: Joe Brusha and Pat Shand (story), Pat Shand (writer), Ryan Best (artist), Thiago Dal Bello (colorist), Micah Myers (letterer), Nicole Glade (editor)

Picking up where he left off on this twisted version of Cinderella, Zenescope scribe Pat Shand continues his story. Cindy is off on her quest to assassinate Hades, the last surviving God, while the Dark Queen has plans of her own. How Cindy plans to find Hades, while the aforementioned god is mounting his own attack is anybody’s guess.

Well, unless you read the book that is…

The Story


The Bare Necessities: Mark L Miller and Zenescope's Jungle Book

Mark L Miller and Mowglii

Zenescope has carved out a niche in the comics industry through their unique and sexy adaptations of fairy tales. In their Grimm Fairy Tales universe, they've established realms for adaptations of Wonderland, the titular Brothers Grimm characters, Neverland, and others.

Standing apart from these intersecting worlds of fantasy is Zenescope's THE JUNGLE BOOK, now entering it's third miniseries with FALL OF THE WILD, In anticipation of the advent of this new chapter in the adventures of Mowglii on the island jungle of Kipling, we corralled series writer Mark L. Miller for a little Q&A about some of the mysteries of Mowglii.

THE JUNGLE BOOK: FALL OF THE WILD is advertised as the third book of the trilogy. Was it planned to be a trilogy from the beginning, or is it something that just evolved that way after it had begun?


Afterlife With Archie Makes Long Awaited Return

Afterlife With Archie 7 - Betty RIP Part 2, Betty's Diary

After what seems like an interminable wait -- always the sign of an anticipated comic -- AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE returns to the shelves with the seventh issue of the horror series.

It's been a month since the zombie apocalypse originated out of Riverdale, and the zombie plague has been spreading with alarming, exponential speed. On their own, and left to their own resources, Archie, Betty, Veronica and a handful of other survivors of Riverdale decide to make camp and observe a Thanksgiving. But the threat of the horde -- led by their former best buddy, Jughead -- is always out there, and it's been following them.


Shaft #1

Shaft #1

I met Richard Roundtree a few years back at a convention. All I could do was shake the man's hand and say thank you. I was completely star struck. Roundtree's powerful presence and commanding demeanor were still evident decades after starring in "Shaft" and it's two sequels. Considering that Sam Jackson also starred as "Shaf,t" it's going to take a talented creative team to bring that type of style and presence to a comic page.

It all starts with David Walker who gets who John Shaft is and what makes him tick. I recently read an interview with Walker and he's basically a historian of the blaxploitation genre and an avid reader of Ernest Tidyman's original "Shaft" books. Damn right! Walker's story is a prequel to the material that's come before. It follows Shaft as a rising boxer. The pugilistic arts have always been a notoriously dirty field and this gritty late '60s version is bleak as can be.


Fall of the Wild Third Mini in Zenescope's Jungle Book Trilogy

Jungle Book, Fall of the Wild #1 cover by David Finch and Ivan Nunes

It may or may not have been officially declared as such in Zenescope's GRIMM FAIRY TALES UNIVERSE, but I believe there's a fifth realm (perhaps even more) in Zenescope's multiverse: The Realm of Kipling. That seems to be supported by Zenescope's adventure series based on the Rudyard Kipling novels. Mark L. Miller pens the third miniseries installment of THE JUNGLE BOOK, THE FALL OF THE WILD, where Mowglii (female in this version) lives among talking animals who segregate into species-based factions to war against each other. (It's sort of like LEGENDS OF CHIMA, with blood and revealing outfits.)


Contest: Ring in 2015 With Zenescope's Grimm Girls

Zenescope 2015 Grimm Girls Calendar


Seong P. of Lucerne Valley, CA

Stephanie M of Milwaukee, WI

Doug B of Plymouth, MN


Congratulations to all our winners!

So, I'm barely getting used to not writing 2013 on my checks, and now 2015 is barreling in on me like that asteroid in ARMAGEDDON.

So, if you're days are numbered already, you may as well enjoy the numbering as much as you can. And what better way than with the gorgeous pin-up art stylings of Jamie Tyndall and his representations of the Grimm Girls of Zenescope Entertainment?


It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Krampus with Zenescope's Holiday GFT

Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition

It would be an easy, predictable thing for the folks at Zenescope to make a mythical character like Santa Claus the focus of their holiday issue. Which is probably why they did exactly the opposite, and chose a more obscure holiday-related icon to weave a story around: Krampus!

What's that you say? You've never heard of Krampus? (Why do I feel like an animated Burl Ives should start singing an introduction here?)

You can do your own googling of the puckish little imp who leaves coins in the shoes of good children on Christmas, while shoving the naughty ones into a bag and beating them with a stick. Zenescope, of course, is going to have their own modified take on the legend, beginning with an origin story out of Myst. It's a tale told to the next generation of guardians-in-training, who meet it with their usual cynicism -- but it's one with far too much current relevance to one of our heroes, who must face off with Krampus in the here-and-now.


Zimmerman and Scott Unveil Area 51 History in Graphic Novel

Area 51

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. And sometimes, fiction is a lot more fun.

For much of my life, I've heard the strange tales about Area 51, Groom Lake, Nevada and the Roswell, New Mexico UFO story -- always connected, even though the two sites are a 14 hour drive apart. Oh, the theories that were generated about the strange lights in the sky, the rousting of trespassers, the autopsies of aliens and all advanced technology that we simply couldn't have come up with on our own. It was the seed from which the best science fiction stories blossomed.


Hooray for Hollywood Zombie Apocalypse!

Hollywood Zombie Apocalypse 1 of 2

When unknown actor Michael May gets cast in the lead role of Captain Liberty, he thought it was the beginning of a dream. Instead, it was the first day of a living nightmare. While participating in a full-dress script reading with his co-stars in the "Defenders of Liberty" movie, May finds himself suddenly fighting off a zombie apocalypse alongside the likes of Kevin Could-Be-Hart, Dwayne Might-be-Johnson, Tom Looks-Like-Cruise, Bryan Not-Bad-Cranston, Selena Gotta-Be-Gomez, and Shia Quite-Possibly-Labeouf. God help us all.

There's so much to like in this pop culture parody that marries together elements of ARMY OF DARKNESS with zombie films like ZOMBIELAND and Yard Dog Press's BUBBAS OF THE APOCALYPSE. The script from Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha is, in my estimation, screenplay ready for this to be adapted into one of the best science fiction B-movies, if only the right actors could be convinced to take on their roles.


Review: Cinderella: Age of Darkness (1 of 3)

Cinderella: Age of Darkness

Title: Cinderella: Age of Darkness (1 of 3)
Publisher: Xenoscope
Creative Team: Joe Brusha and Pat Shand (story), Pat Shand (writer), Ryan Best (artist), Renato Guerra (colorist), Jim Campbell (letterer), Nicole Glade (editor)

The latest offering by upstart indie company, Zenescope, is a Cinderella story like you've never heard before. Of course ALL of their fairy tales are unlike any you've heard before; that's kind of the point. In this version of the tale, 'Cindy', has drawn the ire of the Dark Queen for her repeated failures as an assassin. Rather than just kill Cindy herself, the Queen has decided to task her with a suicide mission: Hunt down and kill Hades, the last living God. Armed with her own sword, three 'gifts', and repeated advice to just run away, Cindy is out to prove once and for all that she's not an idiot...


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