Comic books and graphic novels


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.


Voting Open for Best of 2018 Awards

2018 Award Voting

Another year has come and gone. 2018 is officially in the rear-view mirror, and we've gone hurtling into 2019 like the Sweet Meteor o' Death.

But before we get too deep into the New Year, we've reached that point where we reflect on all that happened in the previous year that was good and notable, and cast our votes as to what was the best of the best ("of the best, sir!")

So here we go again! It's time to pick the Critical Blast Best of the Year for Movies, Television, Actors, Books, and Comics -- and, of course, to pick our CRITICAL BLAST BOMBSHELL OF THE YEAR! So use the handy form below to pick from this year's nominees -- or suggest one that you think is deserving that we missed (so long as the work happened during 2018). Voting is open through the end of January, and on February 1 we'll start tabulating the results and announcing the winners!

So long, 2018! You gave us some great entertainment!


Conspiracy: Doppelganger Adds New Chapter to Zenescope Series

Conspiracy Doppelganger

CONSPIRACY: DOPPELGANGER is an offshoot of Zenescope's CONSPIRACY: THE ILLUMINATI. The nut of this story arc is that The Illuminati replace people with exact duplicates.

This first issue follows two plot threads. The first pertains to the reunion of two high school friends at the funeral of a third -- a funeral brought about because this former friend going off on a shooting rampage after a lifetime of being a peacenik. According to Taylor, this is because the dead man decided to listen to someone who advocated for the Second Amendment. Apparently this means he's programming people for The Illuminati, and it's enough evidence to nearly convince her friend Drew, who remains skeptical of the group's existence.


Dynamite's Project: Superpowers Built on What Makes Superhero Comics Great

Project Superpowers 5 2018

P:andora has arrived on Earth, and worldwide people ask two questions: Is the combined might of Project: Superpowers enough to stop him? And how the heck do you pronounce a name with a colon in it?

Rob Williams and Sergio Davila weave an action-packed and dynamically-presented superhero yarn that pulls out all the stops and includes all the things we love about the classic comic book story. Where else can you see an 80-story giant get swatted down by The Might Samson by using a skyscraper as a baseball bat? Where else can you find an American Flag with a life of its own that seeks to bind with a human host and become an entity powerful enough to stand against evil? 


Cyko KO Third Issue Wraps Up Current Mini

Cyko 3

Rob Feldman's miniseries, CYKO KO, from Alterna Comics, finishes its three-issue arc with the titular hero facing off against the fiendish foe who killed his father -- the Devil Spider!

CYKO KO is a hero that's part Madman, part Ambush Bug, part Freakazoid, and completely all-ages friendly. The art and coloring are done in a flattened style reminescent of 1970s comics that adapted cartoons from television like SUPER FRIENDS. This actually broadens the appeal to younger readers who will fall in love with the antics and interactions of Cyko, Peachy, and Karate Bot -- and the newly introduced interdimensional uber-fan of Cyko, Blipso Facto aka Cyko Jr, a being from a dimension where everyone has modeled their lives after the adventures of Cyko KO.

Here's more of what you need to know:


DC's Super Team Fights Real Nazis in Freedom Fighters 1

Freedom Fighters 1 2018

I was a huge fan of the FREEDOM FIGHTERS comics in the late 1970s. These books featured the Quality Comics characters acquired by DC -- Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Doll Man, The Ray, The Human Bomb, and The Red Bee -- and formed them into a team of heroes, banded together to fight the Nazis on Earth X, a parallel dimension where Germany won World War II and conquered the United States.

There have been various attempts to revive the team with a more modern angle to them. This newest version from Robert Venditti and Eddy Barrows, however, succeeds by sticking the closest to its roots. The book opens in 1963 with what remains of the Freedom Fighters planning an assault on a Nazi robot-making factory. However, their plans are foiled by an infiltration of Plastic Men (or PlaSStic Men, with the SS done in the Nazi SS style), and they are captured and summarily executed. Only Uncle Sam remains, barely escaping the Plasstic Men by pulling a Jedi death.


Mitch Breitweiser: Red Rooster and the State of the Comics Industry

Red Rooster

There's a new hero on the horizon, a mythic figure of folk legend who fights for justice for the common man--the flyover man. His name is Red Rooster, and his is a mantle that passes from generation to generation.

The Red Rooster is the creation of comic book creator Mitch Breitweiser, who, along with his wife, colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser (SKYBOUND), is driving hype for one of the most hotly anticipated crowdfunded comics to come down the pike.

We sat down to talk to Mitch about this project, and what it's like using the crowdfunding vehicle to bring a dream to reality, complete with its triumphs--as well as its surprising adversities.

Click below to listen to the Critical Blast Podblast.


Notable Comic Book Writer Calls Female Journalist "Caravan of Diseases"

There are all kinds of things that the comic book industry is arguing about right now, (looking at you #comicsgate) but hopefully, they can all agree that insulting women is not okay.

In today's industry, many professionals are looking to fund their own titles to show that readers just want good books; without being inundated with political opinions. There are artists who want to draw "sexy" protagonists and those who feel that style just demeans women. There are writers who want to focus on plot-driven stories and others that want to drive a political narrative. And the only wrong answers are the books that don't sell.

Sales determine who's right and who's wrong as the consumers vote with their dollars.


Writer of DC Vertigo's Border Town Implicated in Sexual Assault

On Monday, December 10, 2018, Cynthia Naugle took to Twitter to announce she had sent a letter to a man she claimed had sexually abused her on multiple occasions.

While Naugle never went so far as to mention the name of her abuser, she was very clear that they worked together at the same comic shop where he was a manager, and that the abuser went on to become a current writer at DC Vertigo. With that information, coupled with the fact that the evens she described occurred in Tucson, Arizona, it did not take much detective work for the Internet to work out that the mysterious “X” of Naugle’s story was Eric M. Esquivel, currently the writer of DC Vertigo’s much-discussed comic series, BORDER TOWN.


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