Okay, so look....
The holidays happened and we were travelling a bunch. Then we got sick. Like the BIG sick, the *NINETEEN* sick, y'know. SO, we've missed some reading, but here are some things that have hit shelves recently that we think you should read. Here's to getting back on schedule moving forward.
Children of the Black Sun #1 (w: Dario Sicchio, a: Letizia Cadoniei)
Publisher: ABLAZE Publishing
This book is full of wonderful bait-and-switch moments. Taking place in a world where on two separate occasions the normal sun was replaced by a dark, ominous Black Sun. During the first of these events, millions lost their lives to despair. On the second, billions lost their lives to one another. We enter into a world trying it's hardest to feel hope. Ten years have past since the second event, and a collective paranoia has set over society. People want so hard to feel hope for a future free of more Black Sun events, but every slight negative emotion or chilly breeze is read as a sign of the end of days. People are angry, nervous, tired, and generally trying their hardest to keep it together.
Amidst this rising tension live the Children of the Black Sun, kids who were conceived during one of the two events. Though they sport grey skin, red eyes and white hair, science has found that they are genetically identical to normal human beings. Despite this knowledge, they are targeted by the increasing paranoia of their community resulting in discrimination and anger from their neighbors, classmates and even family members. We follow Matthew as he tries his hardest to earn the compassion and respect of his community: speaking in a soft, friendly way, constantly sporting a calm smile, and generally just being a good dude in the face of oppression. It is only when Matthew and his friend Clementine meet two older Children of the Black Sun from the first event that the kids realize what their true potential might be.
"Vampires, right?" But like, no. It doesn't seem to be vampires.
"So, the kids of the Black Sun are malicious, yeah?" I don't think so, no. Maybe? But it seems more like the world around them is malicious.
"Another Black Sun is coming, though, right?" Hard to say. After living through a pandemic, paranoia and societal infighting is scary enough without a big eldritch ball in the sky.
This is a nifty book. It's dark, dreary and oddly relatable. It hits on discrimination, specifically how painful it is being a child dealing with discrimination and having little control over it. Is it fantasy, is it horror, is it sci-fi: I honestly don't know. Super unique and fascinating, definitely gonna be a fun one to keep up with.
Black Cloak #1 (w: Kelly Thompson, a: Meredith McClaren)
Publisher: Image Comics
Good gracious, what an insanely cool book.
Black Cloak is a procedural crime drama set in a cyberpunk fantasy world full of corrupt elite, class conflicts and discrimination. This thick first issue drips with delightful world building as Thompson and McClaren carefully define the laws and layers of this beautifully dangerous world. We follow detective Phaedra Essex, a member of the law-enforcement agency known as the Black Cloaks, as she investigates the murder of her childhood friend and former lover. The murders pile up as Essex and her partner Pax dig deeper into the case. Eventually, Phaedra's own history is thrown into the mix as she has to meet with the victim's mother, the Elf Queen. We slowly learn about Phaedra's complicated history with her elven kin, namely that for some reason she's been exiled and they don't take very kindly to her presence.
This is just such a fantastic book. The story itself feels compelling and mysterious. The pacing through this first issue is spot on, providing enough additional detail to grasp your attention while leaving a strong air of mystery to keep you wanting more. McClaren's art is wonderfully adorable and fun, conflicting with the tone of the narrative in a way that provides a very interesting vibe to the book; one that challenges your initial preconceptions of the style at every twist and turn. Somehow magically, the art style fills the requirement for griminess and darkness expected by crime dramas or cyberpunk stories without dragging the whole tone down with it. It's a wonderfully playful art style and I'm glad I got to experience McClaren's work in such a fun setting.
It's a fun book, page after page, an absolute winner.
Gangster Ass Bartender #1 (w: Pat Shand, a: Renzo Rodriguez)
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Our pal Pat Shand continues making fun stories with fun characters.
Spinning out of one of our absolute favorite titles, Destiny NY, comes a story following Trinity, the foul-mouthed, Irish thug who is trying to turn over a new, less violent leaf as a barista. The first issue features illicitly earned money, the struggles of customer service, an annoying coworker, lady bikers, rotisserie chickens and more! It's a stellar, ultra-fun first issue for anyone looking for a character driven story grounded in a completely realistic and relatable world (give or take some details).
What I love so much about the Destiny, NY world and more expansively about Pat Shand's writing as a whole is how incredibly detailed all the characters get in just a few panels. It's admittedly been a while since I've read anything Destiny related, but diving in I instantly knew Trinity's motivations, her hopes and dreams, the subtle things that pull her forward, all of it. Destiny, NY, and by extension Gangster Ass Barista, should be taught in creative writing classes as examples of developing fleshed out, real characters quickly and efficiently. It makes these stories so much more endearing and compelling than a lot of the books I've read. 10 out of 10.
Moseley #1 (w: Rob Guillory, a: Sam Lotfi)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
I'll admit that I'm getting a little burned out on the techno-dystopian theme in comics. It seems that everywhere you turn, you're hit with a book about a dreary future where people are slaves to technology and our main character is somehow more enlightened than others but that just means the people they care about treat them like a luddite but then they turn out to be right and blah blah technology bad, put down your phones millennials and zoomers.
This book was in that category for me and I spent most of the first bits just eye-rolling and "here we go again"-ing. Then the last like 8 pages happen and suddenly I'm enthralled. Possible mysticism or some sort of human spirit, I don't truly know WHAT I'm looking at, but the "I'm enlightened that's why I do everything the hard way and discriminate against the status quo" character is suddenly a lot more neato. It felt reminiscent of the way I felt about "Do A Powerbomb" which went from fun character piece to whacky necromantic thrill ride in it's last two pages.
Rob Guillory does a good job keeping interest up in the first few pages with solid character writing and a veil of mystery as to what Moseley's role in the new world order actually is. The bloody knuckles ending of this book just adds to the overall mystery of the world, leaving the reader ever curious as to what makes Moseley so wonderfully special and what his goals will be going forward. I would love to see this book introduce some grey area. Make it so that Moseley's mystical crusade against technology isn't necessarily right or wrong. Make the robot overlords generally benevolent, even if at times misguided. There is a lot of really cool storytelling potential here and it is definitely a book for thrill seekers.
This is not your father's Oogie Boogie.
Boogeyman #1 (w: Mathieu Salvia, a: Djet)
Publisher: Ablaze Publishing
This book absolutely went a direction I wasn't expecting. What started as a seemingly run of the mill boogeyman story with a scared kid and unbelieving parents turns into a dark kid + monster adventure story. The boogeyman we originally hear about turns out to not only be real, but some sort of elder being known as Father Death. We are thrust into a war between elder entities and lesser entities, a war that didn't seem to turn out well for father Death and his ilk. There's action, murder, mystery and horror. It's a really cool ride.
Ninjettes #1 (w: Fed Van Lente, a: Joseph Cooper)
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
It's like Sucker Punch meets Battle Royale in an art style reminiscent of a gritty Archie story. Ninjettes features 11 young women dropped into the desert in order to fight to the death all because they failed a personality test designed to weed out mass shooters from society. It's an incredibly dark way of handling the issue of gun violence in this country, and yet oddly believable since we seem to want to do everything aside from actually regulating guns and gun violence. This book follows one specific Ninjette who failed her test because she decided to doodle her teacher hanging instead of actually taking it, an action she claims is innocent but honestly makes me more concerned for her than the people that actually took it and failed organically. It's bloody, violent and a little silly, all presented in a moderately pastel art style that gives the whole thing a bit of an arthouse-feel. It definitely walks the line of exploitative, but what do you expect from Dynamite? A fun romp for fans of the "teens fight to the death" genre.
High school is hard enough without multiple personalities, amiright?
The Sacrament #1 (w: Peter Milligan, a: Marcelo Frusin)
Publisher: AWA Studios
It's like 40K with less Space Orcs and more pea-soup vomit.
Sacrament takes place in a dark future where mankind has abandoned earth and made to the stars. Knee-deep in the depressing voidness of it all is Father Vass, a womanizing priest suffering from a serious crisis of faith who has gathered notoriety for participating in a particularly grisly exorcism. Vass and his compatriot, Novice Rais, bounce from planet to planet holding mass and blessing people with an iPod Touch, all the while running from a law enforcement organization that does an incredibly terrible job at catching two people wearing heavy cloaks and not trying to hide their occupation in the slightest. However, Vass's whole steez gets turned upside-down when said law enforcement approach him with a proposition.
This book is sold as "Alien meets Exorcist" but honestly I get more Warhammer 40k meets Event Horizon meets the Last Exorcism. Marcelo Frusin's art does an incredible job capturing the cold bleakness of the universe as Milligan's story weaves us through Vass's doubt and fear. It's dark, it's harsh and it's exciting. A really cool book for people who dig absolutely ghastly sci-fi.
Elle(s) #1 (w: Kid Toussaint, a: Aveline Stokart)
Pub: ABLAZE Publishing
Listen, High School is hard. Even harder with multiple versions of yourself fighting for control. Big oof, am I right, kids? Sheeeeeeeeesh, ha, right?.... I'm so painfully old...
Elle is the new girl in school, and honestly she's handling it pretty well. She makes friends quick, stands up to the mean girls. Life is going pretty well. However, below the surface, there is a war brewing. A mysterious, dark version of Elle is out to make mischief. Once Elle finds herself in enough strain to drop her guard, Dark Elle strikes, replacing Elle with a different version of herself, while even more versions wait in the wings for their turn at the helm.
This is a really unique YA story that kicks off by instantly letting you know that it is going to be different. All the typical "new kid" tropes are immediately dashed. No mean teachers or communication issues. Elle is not a shy girl or even really that quirky. She makes friends quick, shoves away the bullying quickly. We are given a "new kid is doing pretty well" story, and honestly it's super refreshing. It leaves room for the story to focus more on an analysis of what it means to try and find identity as a young girl. How do teens define themselves and how do they allow outside factors to define them? How do teens change as time goes by and what happens to the friendships they made along the way? This book is absolutely enthralling and adorable. The art is perfect, the characters are fun, and I am sold 100% of the way.
Survival Street #1 (w: James Asmus, a: Jim Festante)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Bigots are gonna pay
On my way to pick up more R-P-G's
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Survival Streeeeeeeeeet
Look at the cover of this comic and tell me you don't want it. Do it. Lie to my face like that, you monster. The absolutely diabolical geniuses of James Asmus and Jim Festante apparently decided that the world needs a hardcore, gritty Sesame Street story and holy fluff were they right. This book takes place in a world where the US government has officially been seized by corporations and turned into a capitalistic dictatorship. It also happens to take place in a world where puppets are actual creatures that live and breathe, and some of them are on TV teaching people the power of fairness and stuff.
Our cast of Felt Americans were abruptly thrown to the curb when their edutainment show was cancelled by the New Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or N.I.C.E. In response to the loss of their livelihood and the general sweeping mistreatment of their brethren, the cast has rebranded themselves as a gang of revolutionaries, sticking it to mans of all kinds and teaching the powers that be the meaning of the word "fairness," as well as the meaning of the words "vengeance" "caliber" and "High-Yield Explosives." Festante's playful use of the page and high-octane style keeps the action screaming forward from cover to cover as if the book was brought to you by the letters B & A. It's a no holds barred felt flingin', ice cream munchin', system dismantlin' heck of a good time, and I am absolutely hungry for more.
My favorite thing about this book is how well integrated the puppet aspect is. The narrative never loses the puppet angle, but also doesn't spend a ton of energy dragging the pacing down while making jokes about it. Shockingly, the puppet characters come out feeling shockingly real, almost more flesh and blood than the politicians and corporate shills they're fighting against. As an avid Muppets/puppetry fan, this book appeals to me on so many levels, and I will definitely be recommending this book to people for years to come. I would absolutely LOVE to see this come to a screen of some kind.
I want all my Greek myths liberated, please.
Weekly Pull Highlights: December 1, 2021
Tee's got a deep, sultry, post-bronchitis tenor going on, but the comic reviews rest for no one this week! This was a big week, especially if you're a fan of turning literature on it's head. Time for some post-turkey reading material!
Honorable Mention Highlights: October 2021
Soul Plumber #1
Goodness, this is an ugly book. If you are looking for a polite, clean, puritan reflection on the soul, run very, very far away. Soul Plumber is shockingly relatable beneath the layer of filth, and I'm rooting for the lead.
Chicken Devil #1
Oh my goodness, this book I just one big fiasco and I love. Hot chicken magnate gets involved in crimes because the world around him deems it. Why not? This is the least character driven book I've read, but I kind of love just watching this dude on a log flume of misery and guns. Also, they have a restaurant menu in the back and it looks damn tasty.
Marvel Legends: Black Panther #1
Not much more to say aside from this is a cool look at young Tchalla earning his stripes (do panthers have stripes?) and showing his mobility in the face of a unaccepting world. This book handles heavy topics like racism and capitalism in a delicate way but still delivers a solid message. A great book for young readers.
Batman: The Imposter #1
A prequel/sequel to the new Batman movie? Hard to tell really, as it feels fairly originy but also seems to also reference movie things? Weird flex releasing a sequel to a movie that does not yet exist, but hey, that's DC. They flex more than an insecure, pre-workout addled Chad on a busy day at muscle beach. Still, I like the angle that they are taking with this Batman and this left me kinda jazzed for the movie. Not really a super new story, but still a nice level of grit.
What do you do when the veil between two realities is lifting and demons are co-mingling with humans on a regular basis? You create a new police force, obvi. Our main character is pretty predictable, but the world building keeps me intrigued enough to want to read more in issue #2. And that's really all it takes, isn't it?
DC vs Vampires #1
Well, hot damn Tynion, you're aiming for a Cover B fan club name, aren't you? The cheesiest of names gives way into an excellent, thought provoking book that not only makes sense in the given DC universe, but made me gasp unexpectedly at twists. I am definitely looking forward to the next issue of this one.
Pop Star Assassin #1
When I saw the title, this was NOT the book I was expecting to read. An Elvis impersonator, a waitress, and a psychic vagrant escape from a bar - be sure to stop me if you've heard this one. Oh, you haven't? I'm not surprised. This book is bonkers, but has a lot of potential if you like fast-paced, off-the-wall chaos.
Cross to Bear #1
...Are they Templars? Are they Masons? Is it a brand new cult we've never heard of? What is their real mission? What are they protecting... or who? I love a good secret society, and I love even more when our supposed protag is more fallible than forgivable. Who doesn't love some character depth, amiright?
Winchester Mystery House #1
You've heard the legends. You've probably even seen the movie. But there's something so eerie about the Winchester House that I'm glad it's being given a chance in the comic format. The ability to come from different perspectives, show more intimate details of the house's machinations - there's a lot that can be done here, and I'm very excited to see it go down.
We're a community, and we'll stand strong.
The comic industry is going to be a weird, scary and unstable place for the foreseeable time-being thanks to COVID-19. Diamond Comic Distributors, the primary distribution source for comics, has had to stop sending new books to retailers, so no new comics are hitting stores any time soon. For that reason, we wanted to share 5 ways you can help the industry - both your local store and the smaller publishing companies - during this time of great turmoil and uncertainty. We'll get through it together, fam.
Sexy Pirate Queens!... if you're into that kind of thing.
Weekly Pull Highlights: March 4, 2020
We've got some spicy books this week, filled with intrigue, deception, sex, and slaughter - it's like our whole comic pull list came from HBO! From invading forces from Twin Worlds, to pirate queens in Cimmerian: Queen of the Black Coast, to a mysterious beauty in Mercy, there's a whole lot to get passionate about. Something... something... something... Cover B!
There is no wrath like a Gamora scorned.
Weekly Pull Highlights: January 22, 2020
Can you believe we're celebrating the 750th issue of Wonder Woman? We talk about her momentous milestone this week, as well as other powerhouse women in comics with the new Guardians of the Galaxy title and the new Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1! (Who run the world? GIRLS.)
Maybe the Cat really does need the Spider.
Honorable Mention Highlights: November 13, 2019
Folklords #1 (BOOM Studios)
This is going to be one meta-tastic book! Set up like an inside out fairy tale, rarely do we see a character from a charming village decide to head out to the real world for adventure among skyscrapers and business suits. I love the concept behind this book, and I'm excited to see it start breaching the reader awareness line.
Un/Sacred #1 (Ablaze Comics)
I feel like this book would easily slide right into a Comedy Central lineup. The humor is silly and brash, the art is fun and flirty, and the story is less a rolling narrative, and more a series of cheeky vignettes all centered around 'doing the deed.' It's funny, light-hearted, but there's not a whole lot of meat in this book. - Tee
Family Tree #1 (Image Comics)
Interesting end of the world book from Jeff Lemire. Appears to have something to do with nature taking over, but all we really have is some sort of shady group of people, a strange affliction and plenty of Lemire's go-to family tension right at the center. Lots of questions but a very nice, hooking issue from the #1. - Chris
Morbius the Living Vampire #1 (Marvel Comics)
My guess is this book is feeding off of the hype of the upcoming Morbius flick featuring Jared Leto, but it doesn't really give us a lot to bite into (pun intended). Man is vampire, man looks for unvampiring serum, man maybe made a mistake. Pretty standard vamp fare considering what the book could have set up. Here's to hoping it dives a little deeper next issue. - Tee
Fallen Angels #1 (Marvel Comics)
Another solid entry in the Dawn of X line and the first one to establish the paranoia of Krakow after the twist in X-Force #1. Psylocke (Kwannon, not Betsy) feels like a new character in her own way, since she hasn't really been a character through much of the X-Men history. It's refreshing and the book feels like X-Force in tone.
Black Cat Annual #1 (Marvel Comics)
Gotta say, I think we're missing Spidey in the ongoing Black Cat run. While this book has the same goofy tone as the current run, it has so much more charm with Peter's quipiness and Cat's nostalgic flirtation. If you're not entirely feeling the current BC run, this one-shot might fill that void for you.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #50 (Marvel Comics)
It's the end of an era, fam. Doreen Green has been revealed as Squirrel Girl to the world and it's time for her to move on with her besties to the next nut to crack. To say I was emotional was an understatement; I had just really started reading comics when this book started, and I feel like it was a huge factor in me being such an active reader now. Thank you Ryan - your impact on Squirrel Girl fans cannot be denied.
Salem the Cat should always be voiced by Nick Bakay.
Weekly Pull Highlights: October 2, 2019
Halloween is starting early with a bunch of horror books featuring a plethora of baddies, ranging from evil fairies, to weirdly-drawn vampires, to the patriarchy. But our most pressing fear has been quelled - for now - thanks to Spider-Man being back in the MCU!
Cover B Podcast
Chris & Tee host this weekly comic-focused show, providing insight on new comics, entertainment news and more.