Comic books and graphic novels


Van Helsing Finds the Sword of Heaven, Guarded by a New Breed of Monster

Van Helsing Sword of Heaven 5 Zenescope

Liesel Van Helsing and Lilitha Dara have both infiltrated the castle of Prince Sawar, a creature known as a baital that can animate -- and astrally inhabit -- the bodies of the dead. Sawar is the keeper of the Sword of Heaven, an artifact that can eliminate all vampires from the face of the Earth.

However, things have taken a turn for the worse, as Liesel's partner is fell during the battle, allowing Sawar to turn his full attention on Liesel, attacking her psychically by sending her mentally on a never-ending downward fall through a hellish landscape. Sawar's ultimate plan is to kill Liesel and inhabit her body as his own. But first he would have her experiences. He, too, sees the vampire population as a plague. But where Liesel wants to exterminate them, Sawar simply wants to control them and keep them in check. And the vampires, well, they're aware of this as well.


How Much is That Child Porn in My Comic Book?

Savage Dragon 236

We've seen it happen before in comics and animation. Some artist gets bored, slips in a sly little reference to this or that, just to see how many people it will slip past before it gets caught, if ever. In UNIVERSE X SPIDEY #1, artist Al Milgrom famously hid a secret message telling off his old boss, Bob Harras. NEW MUTANTS had some spicy conversations in it, if one bothered to translate the demon-language substitution cipher of lettering. And don't even get us started on all the rumors about what people think they see in Disney animated films.

But there's no real guessing at what's involved in Image Comics' SAVAGE DRAGON #236, which features the four offspring of the titular character. The storyline, called "Savage Little Dragons" finds they tykes doing various kid activities -- crawling out of the crib, fighting with each other, watching underage rape porn on the television.

Wait. What?


Zenescope's Archer Becomes Most Wanted in Robyn Hood: Outlaw

Robyn Hood Outlaw

Zenescope's ROBYN HOOD has gone through a few iterations with the books she's appeared in. With this latest miniseries, ROBYN HOOD: OUTLAW, she finds herself framed for the attempted murder of the police commissioner, found shot and dying in Robyn's trashed apartment late at night. On cue, police officers bust into her home, and they're not interested in making an arrest.

With dirty cops on her tail and an unknown person who is also a near-expert archer directing the players, Robyn makes a run for it, uncertain as to whom she can trust and unwilling to fight back against the police because she can't tell which ones are the bad cops and which ones are the ones only doing their duty but acting on misinformation. Along the way, she ends up rescuing a nameless smartass girl, leaving us with a breathless cliffhanger while we await the second issue.


A Tale of Two Cities: Destiny NY Volumes 1 and 2

Destiny NY

What if you had a destiny you had to fulfill in your life? Something specific, if vaguely worded, prophecy that defines your life? What if you went to a special school that prepared you to meet this destiny, and gave you direction on how to succeed beyond it?

That's the world of DESTINY, NY, which follows the messed-up life of Logan, a young lady who fulfilled her destiny while still a tween, and who now looks for direction in her life. Along the way, her life crosses paths with Lilith, who has a destiny of her own to fulfill -- and a psychopathic sister out to destroy her.

With two volumes under his belt, Pat Shand had built an intriguing graphic novel series, but it's not without certain issues. We put the books under the microscope and give them a good critical blasting. Check it out.


Wonder Twins Debut Less Than Wonderful

Wonder Twins 1

The latest in the Wonder Comics imprint from DC Comics is WONDER TWINS #1, taking the memorable teen sidekicks from the SUPER FRIENDS television show and bringing them into...well, not the mainstream DC continuity, at least as far as we can tell so far. If anyone can correct us on that count, we'd be happy to hear it. But for now, it seems that, at least WONDER TWINS, exists in its own little side-continuity of a parodic DCU.

Let's dig into the book by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne and see what's behind those covers--and determine if it's anything more than the controversial Pon Farr scene that we were treated to in the previews.


The ComicsGate Culture Battle Shifts from Cold War to Hot

Simeti Targeted

Fans of Alterna Comics got more than they bargained for with their nightly livestream. Some time around 10pm on February 12, Publisher Peter Simeti was discussing what was new with the comics from Alterna, when the livestream was interrupted.

By the police.




A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Ashin' in Dynamite's Army of Darkness / Bubba Ho-Tep

Army of Darkness - Bubba Ho-tep 1

Scott Duvall's title for this comic issue's story was so perfect, I had to steal it for the headline on this review.

ARMY OF DARKNESS / BUBBA HO-TEP is a Bruce Campbell fan's dream come true. Ash, upon reading of sightings and events about Elvis fighting some mummy, decides to head for East Texas and a retirement home where he expects to find The King. Of course nobody there is quite obliging to help him, except for an old fellow named Dillinger who escorts him to a somewhat rundown home occupied by none other than Elvis Aron Presley himself.

But as much as Ash wanted to find Elvis, even he is sceptical, and ends up getting into a fight with the karate-chopping singer while they engage in a trivia-competition about Elvis history -- which, of course, Elvis wins.


Vampirella Valentine's Day Special Goes Overboard in Cajun Country

Vampi Valentine's Day Special

The Ergun Gunduz cover to Dynamite's VAMPIRELLA VALENTINE'S DAY SPECIAL almost justifies the $4.99 price sticker. Heck, it justifies at least seventy-five percent of it, so that's close enough. It's completely evocative of the cover artwork that used to grace Vampi's original series, back in the day when she was published in glorious black-and-white in magazine-size format.

The interiors by Maria Sanapo are a different style altogether. Not a bad style -- quite good, in fact -- but a different one that doesn't quite have Vampirella being as tall as one would expect. Of course, that's a matter of scale, so it could just be everyone else was pretty tall as well. Regardless, the pencils and inks were done in a quality comic-book style, with the colors by Ceci de la Cruz adding depth and dimension to everything.


Closing in on 19 Years of Broadsword Comics with Jim Balent and Holly Golightly

Jim Balent Holly Golightly 2019 Interview

Over two decades ago, Jim Balent had a comfortable gig with a big time publisher, bringing his own inimitable style to CATWOMAN for DC Comics.

Then, in 2000, he walked away from that to go independent with his own imprint, Broadsword Comics, and his own creation, TAROT, WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE. And he did this without the benefit of the existence of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other crowdfunding assistance.

It was a huge leap of faith, and now, 19 years later with nary an issue missed of the 114-book run, Broadsword Comics is still going strong with Jim and Holly Golightly doing everything from writing, drawing, lettering, coloring -- the whole shebang.

We were privileged to get this livestream interview with The Busiest (and Most Fun) Couple in Comics, to talk about Tarot, comic books, and... STAR WARS? We hope you'll have as much fun watching this as we had doing it!


Will Tragedy Break Raven Hex for Good? We Review Tarot Witch of the Black Rose #114

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose #114

Raven Hex has turned down the proposal of marriage from Gala-Pen-Lot, the Dragon Prince, and now she is having second thought, recriminations, and engages in some serious soul-searching about what she really wants versus what she has always struggled for. When she finally opens her heart and allows herself to express her true feelings, a burden is lifted from her. Delighted and enlightened, she prepares to change her life and go onto a new path -- just as tragedy is revealed to her.

Holly Golightly gives this issue a very muted color treatment this issue over Jim Balent's pencils, which adds to the whole reminescent mood of Raven Hex's ruminations. The book is the lead in to the 19th anniversary issue of TAROT, WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #115, appearing March 2019.

For a full review on this issue, check out our livestream video below.


Heroes in Crisis, Readers in Remorse

Heroes in Crisis 5

We've reached the exact midway point of Tom King and Clay Mann's murder mystery series, HEROES IN CRISIS, and things are adding up less and less.

We start with the cover, which shows the case file for the murder of Jason Todd. Except he's alive as the Red Hood. We've gone over that whole thing before when Batman gave his confession at Sanctuary about so many of his partners dying when they're all alive and kicking.

Add to this the polluting of past heroes during their Sanctuary confessions, some unbelievable confrontations, a major revelation that's actually more of a plot hole than anything else, and HEROES IN CRISIS begins to shape up into one beautiful mess.

Key points in this issue include:

  • Batgirl lying to Batman (unconvincingly) and getting away with it.
  • Booster Gold getting the drop on The Flash.
  • Superman giving a longer speech than the one that got cut from SUPERMAN IV.

Here, take a look for yourselves:


NCBD Pull or No Pull? January 30, 2019

Pull or No Pull January 30 2019

No matter how fastidious you are in maintaining your comic shop pull list in your never-ending battle to make sure you don't miss anything good (or accidentally waste your money on something not so much), it never hurts to do a last minute check on what's coming out this week so you can make those fine-tuned adjustments.

Here are our looks at this week's upcoming comics, and our hot takes on whether they're a pick or a pan. Your mileage may vary.

Actual Roger #1 (Alterna)

Alterna continues to impress with its wide variety of titles and genres. With Hank Tucker (THE TICK animated series) helming this title about a kid forced into becoming a sidekick to a hero who doesn't want him around, we're definitely on board to see how ACTUAL ROGER plays out.



State of the Comics Industry, with LCS Owner Michael Tierney and Alterna Publisher Peter Simeti

Tierney, Simeti

One's in the system trying to make a buck. The other is trying to buck the system.

Michael Tierney is the owner of two comic shops -- The Comic Book Store in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and Collector's Edition in Little Rock, Arkansas. With 37 years experience running the business and as a contributor to the Overstreet Price Guide, he has a keen insight into the state of the comics industry from the front lines.

Peter Simeti is the publisher of Alterna Comics, an independent producer of comics done on newsprint with a price point unheard of since 1985 -- and he's got some radical ideas for changing the accepted dynamics of the comic book distribution model.

We've been keen on getting both of these guys on a livestream, but then it hit us: What if we brought them together on the SAME livestream, to bounce ideas off each other and maybe, just maybe, come up with one or two good ones.

The results were better than we could have hoped.


Jesus Christ: Super...Hero?

Second Coming

As the 1980s were drawing to a close, DC Comics mature imprint, Vertigo, had a series called SWAMP THING. Rick Veitch was writing it, and his story arc had the plant elemental on a journey backward through time, having him wind up in historically important events to the DC timeline.

SWAMP THING #88 was intended to be "Morning of the Magician," which would have placed Swamp Thing at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. DC pulled the plug on the issue and Veitch walked away. While there was nothing seemingly blasphemous about Christ's appearance in the story, DC was shy of the controversy, since they had a SWAMP THING television series in development.

They've apparently gotten over their shyness, because now Vertigo is releasing what is intended to be a six-issue miniseries, SECOND COMING,


Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt is a Total Ripoff of Watchmen -- and That's Cool!

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt

Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, was one of the set of Charlton characters used as the basis for DC Comics' WATCHMEN series. Doctor Manhattan was supposed to be Captain Atom. Nite Owl was supposed to be Blue Beetle. Rorschach was supposed to be The Question. Comedian was supposed to be Peacemaker. Silk Spectre, Nightshade. And Ozymandias, the smartest man in the world, was supposed to be Peter Cannon.

So going into the comic book, PETER CANNON: THUNDERBOLT #1, from Dynamite Comics (and Kieron Gillen and Caspar Wijngaard), there's a natural bias to thinking, "This character reminds me of Ozymandias."

In fact, there are three phases the reader will go through when reading this comic:

1. Gee, this is kind of derivative of WATCHMEN.

2. Oh for crying out loud, they're just ripping off WATCHMEN.


What do we mean by that? Watch and see...


Captain Marvel: Better Than All The Avengers Together

Captain Marvel #1

Captain Marvel -- Carol Danvers -- is back from outer space, just in time for the debut of her appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

No sooner does she arrive than she has to battle a groping Kraken (tentacles=symbolism), prove herself the equal of not just any Avenger but all of them, and take on misogyny personified in the form of Nuclear Man.

Heavy handed? A little bit. There's some nice dialogue, however, and it's pretty to look at in places. We're already putting bets down on how the 'shipping is going to go.

For our full review, here's the video livestream from our YouTube channel. (Be sure to subscribe and ring the bell.)



Young Justice #1 a Gorgeous, Lazy Mess

Young Justice 1

When DC rebranded it's teen sidekick group as Young Justice (as opposed to Teen Titans, which is really what the group was), it became a fan favorite. All the action of the Teen Titans comics with the mix of humor that made it something apart from that, unique to itself. Consisting primarily of Robin II (Tim Drake), Superboy (Conner Kent, the clone from Reign of the Supermen), Wonder Girl (Cassandra Sandsmark), and Impulse (Bart Allen), the group soon expanded to include many other young characters, all with distinct personalities and fan followings.


Blatant Extortion: Blogger Promises More Favorable Write-ups in Exchange for Payout from Ethan Van Sciver

A UK blogger may have taken social media relations a step too far today when she offered to write about comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver "more favourably in the future" in exchange for him making "reparations by donating to my bigotry box."

Going by the name "This Girl Roars," the blogger maintains a blog hosted from which she roars in anonymity (her website is registered by Identity Protection Limited in Guildford, Surrey, UK), publishing her dissertation that meanders from one media personality to another, from Paul Joseph Watson to Professor Jordan Peterson. Along the way, she makes mention of "Ethan Van Skyler" (sic) and Jeremy Griggs of Geeks + Gamers for the explosive growth of their YouTube channels, which she attributes to practiced and preached misogyny.


Heroes in Crisis: $%@# This

HiC 4

The mystery of who massacred literally dozens of metahumans -- some of them very high profile -- at the therapy retreat known as Sanctuary continues, without a single clue (maybe) coming to light in this fourth issue. The readers may get a clue, but it's a very slight one, and it has to do with why Harley was able to get past Booster Gold's shield when she hit him.

Other than that, what we really learn is just how $%@#'ed up our heroes are. And how much they all like to say "$%@#" in this issue. Which is understandable -- they should all be more distraught, angry... hell, they should be pissed off. But they're inhumanly restrained.


Wanted: Man Who Stole $100,000 in Comics in Las Vegas

Comic Book Thief

It's like a scene from COMIC BOOK VILLAINS -- but it's sadly all too real.

A collector in Las Vegas, Nevada, was robbed last night when thieves sawed into his storage unit and made off with over $100,000 in collectible comic books -- some of which had been earmarked for a charity, Critical Care Comics.

Surveillance footage captured the face of the driver as he made his getaway with the longboxes sticking out of his trunk, which must surely have him making number two in his skivvies, so let's get his face out there a little bit more, okay, and help bring justice for one of our own.


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