Comics

Comic books and graphic novels

Sun
05
Jul

Duel Identity Assumes Readers Know Where They Are

Duel Identity 1

Every comic book is someone's first comic book.

That's been a truism handed down from the founding fathers of the industry. You can tell the writers who adhere to it. You can pick up one of their books, no matter the issue number, and within moments you are pulled into the story with a comfort level where you don't feel like a stranger, and where you can enjoy learning the things you still don't know. Those are the writers who leave behind lasting books, and thankful fan bases.

Elaine Lee is not one of those writers.

Fri
03
Jul

American Mythology's Starring Sonya Devereaux a Comic Series That's Actually Fun!

Starring Sonya Devereaux - Spider-Shark vs Snake-Bear

When I saw STARRING SONYA DEVERAUX: SPIDER-SHARK VS. SNAKE-BEAR on the shelves at my local comics shop, I didn't even register the title or even the publisher. My eye was instantly drawn to the excellently done homage to the classic HOUSE OF SECRETS #92 (featuring not only the first Swamp Thing story, but also a portrait of comic book creative legend Louise Simonson on the cover). Only after it had already leapt into my hands did I notice any of the ancillary information.

Fri
26
Jun

Green Lantern 80th Anniversary Shines, But Dimly

Green Lantern 80th Anniversary

The GREEN LANTERN 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTULAR is yet another prestige-bound release this month celebrating eight decades of a DC Comics brand. But whereas the anniversary issues for Catwoman and Joker focused on a single character, with stories viewed through the lens of some of the particular eras, this release is different. Because there is no single Green Lantern, but there are in fact a few thousand plus.

That's where this issue disappoints, because almost every story takes a different Green Lantern as a focus, turning this collection into something less "spectacular" and more into something that could have been just about any issue of TALES OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS. That disappointment is compounded when you see the stories doing things like trying to retrofit the Golden Age Green Lantern's sexuality, or deliver yet another tired retread of the "people in red baseball caps are racist terrorists" trope.

Wed
24
Jun

Fear Leads to Codes for Survival in Comics Industry

CCA Pledge overlay image

It was a year of turmoil for comics professionals. Livelihoods were on the lines as those who worked in the industry began to see their peers picked off right and left, as the field of comics was being laid waste by the scythe of a force that had found it ripe for harvest. There were rules, arbitrary and unwritten, that had been broken, and the piper had come with the invoice, stamped "Past Due." In a rush of adrenalin-fueled panic, those still standing cobbled together a promissory note, a token to the aggrieved that they would change their behavior, codified for the world to see.

If you think this is a summary of the events of 1954 that led to the Comics Code Authority, it would be understandable. But it's 2020, and the professionals in comics are circling the wagons to protect themselves from threats internal, not external.

Tue
23
Jun

Creators Cut Loose with Solo Joker Tales for 80th Anniversary

Joker 80th Anniversary

Few villains have had the impact on literature as have the tricksters. Loki. Anansi. Joker. There's a magnetism that draws the reader into their story whenever they are involved.

Batman's arch-nemesis celebrates 80 years of crime and carnage this year, and to commemorate the event DC has released the JOKER 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR, with handsome card stock, variant covers, and some of the best talent the industry has to offer. The issue includes some of the more iconic covers of DC Comics stories that spotlighted the character, as well as some gorgeous pinups, interspersed among the stories, the likes of which haven't been given to The Joker since the Martin H. Greenberg anthology, THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE JOKER.

Sat
13
Jun

When Sequential Art Stories Eschew Both Sequence and Story: Legion of Super-Heroes #6

Legion of Super-Heroes 6 2020

The Legion of Super-Heroes. A group of teens with powers, one thousand years in the future, inspired by the legend of Superman and brought together to show teamwork and unity among the citizens of different planets. Over the years, I've been there for the classics. The death and resurrection of Lightning Lad. The sacrifice of Ferro Lad. Reflecto. The Great Darkness. The Cockrum era. The Grell issues.

You might say I'm a bit of a fan.

Fri
12
Jun

Shallow Hell: Death-Defying Devil #5 Wraps Longest Lunch Ever

Death-Defying Devil 5

The Devil has gone to Hell...and taken his readers with him.

The fifth and final issue of Dynamite's DEATH-DEFYING DEVIL pits the masked hero against the ultimate evil -- The Devil. But the father of lies has slipped a little over the eons, having fallen over the edge of the abyss into a bottomless pit of banality as he gets into a street brawl with Bart Hill, the Death-Defying Devil. Or, in this case, the Devil-Defying Devil, which someone must have thought was a cute idea.

Let's recap the last year of issues succinctly: Bart Hill awakes in a strange house populated by a handful of random people who talk his ear off and serve food. The street gang outside that harasses them constantly are actually demons, sons of Lucifer, and he wants a soul.

Where is this house? Who are these people? Why are they there? How did Bart get there? For that matter, does good triumph over evil, and see the righteous rescued from the clutches of the demonic hordes?

Thu
11
Jun

Has Everyone Figured Out the Bad Guy is The Joker...Again?

Batman 92

Batman is having a very long night. With Catwoman finally having filled him in on how The Designer met with the four major villains in Gotham and helped them work out their most nefarious plans, Batman went on to fight Deathstroke while Catwoman and Harley Quinn battled their way through a squad of zombied police officers (and we still don't know how these zombies operate or how The Designer sees/speaks through them; it's just comic book magic).

Having gained nothing from his fight with Deathstroke, Batman now finds himself challenged -- and I used the term loosely -- by The Riddler, who walls off the city (a feat that would challenge even the Wayne fortunes) into a crossword puzzle grid. Batman has to solve the clues for each block, and wrong answers will trigger bombs. And to make sure Batman doesn't cheat, he blocks off all electronic transmissions to Batman's cowl.

Tue
09
Jun

Red Rooster a Comic Worth Crowing About

Red Rooster #1

The comic book chase of 2020 isn't the search for BATMAN #92 or HELL ARISEN #3. Rather, it's the Quest for Allegiance, the upstart comic book company that bypassed the direct market and instead brokered a landmark distribution deal with the corporate juggernaut, Wal-mart. Mitch Breitweiser and his team have released four comic book series -- NORAH'S SAGA, BASS REEVES, THE FUTURISTS, and RED ROOSTER -- to the ubiquitous retail chain, complete with its own endcap display to highlight the item.

But it wasn't the smoothest launch. Not every Wal-mart put the books out, and since the books weren't typically displayed with the rest of the books and magazines, they were difficult to find in the store if that store had them in the first place. They were frequently in the toy department, and we have one report of them having been found in the electronics section.

Sun
07
Jun

Catwoman 80th Anniversary: Not Purr-fect, but Better Than Expected

Catwoman 80th Annivesary 100 Page Super Spectacular Adam Hughes cover

2020 sees a number of 80th anniversaries for major -- if not titular -- characters within the DC Universe, and if these 100-Page Super Spectacular releases are even moderately successfuly, we should start seeing the release of 85th anniversary issues in 2024-25.

What's interesting about getting to do this with Catwoman is that she has, of almost all the longstanding DC characters, gone through the most changes in her published life. She's gone back and forth over the line of hero and villain on more than one occasion. In the 80s she had become an ally to Batman until the Joker drove her insane and made her a villain again. Then she was given a reboot with Frank Miller's BATMAN: YEAR ONE, and a tragic backstory with Mindy Newell's miniseries that eventually launched Selina Kyle into her own iconic, long-running series with Jo Duffy and Jim Balent.

Thu
04
Jun

Superman Stars in Standing Around Talking Comics #1022

Action 1022

Superboy is back! No, not that Superboy, the other Superboy. Well, technically, he's back too, but that comes later.

Welcome to another inaction-packed issue of Misnomer Comics, as the Man of Steel converses with the befuddled scientific community who can't make heads nor tales of who Conner Kent is. In fact, he's so unique, they can't even find another Conner Kent in the multiverse, and I'm pretty sure I could find at least three of them with a basic Spokeo search.

Mon
01
Jun

Who Doesn't Want to Be a Gay Superhero? Ruby Rose Exits Lead Role After 'Batwoman' First Season

Batwoman Logo

When DC Comics first announced there would be a modern Batwoman character in their universe, it was a news event -- not because DC had a new character, nor because that character was going to be part of the Batman lineup, but because the title character was going to be openly gay. The series came out with a strong, noir-inspired start under writer Greg Rucka, but never really became integrated into the rest of the DC Universe outside of the “52” crossover miniseries where she made her debut.

Fri
29
May

False Statements, Lies Pressure Alterna Into Releasing Police Reports on 2019 Swatting

Tweeted Accusations

In February of 2019, Alterna Comics publisher Peter Simeti was on a live stream broadcast from his apartment, when a knock at the door drew him away from his microphone. The stream was left running, and viewers could clearly hear the police enter the apartment and question Simeti, in response to a 911 call about a violent domestic disturbance.

The violence did not happen. The call was faked -- what is termed a "SWATting" in which the perpetrator calls the police pretending to be in distress or emotional turmoil, specifically the kind that would urge police to enter with weapons drawn. The obvious intent is that the person targeted would thus be harmed by the police.

Thu
21
May

Emerging from the Comics COVID Crisis: Retailers Speak Out

LCS Round Table 20200520

This week saw the return of New Comic Book Day -- kind of. DC Comics, which has been ahead of the distribution game since Diamond Comics Distributors closed their doors for the coronavirus outbreak, is putting comic books out, while Marvel is still waiting a later production date. Our team of comic shop retailers from around the country -- Michael Tierney of Arkansas, Dave Dyer of Illinois, Uel Carter of California, Ryan Seymore of Ohio, and @ComicPerch of Washington -- talk about why this is going to be a powerful negotiating tool for DC when signing creators in the future.

Also discussed is the first shipment from Diamond since the reopening -- and whether the comeback is truly bigger than the setback with Diamond's #BackTheComeback hashtag campaign. Plus -- opinions on Ruby Rose leaving Batwoman, Brec Bessinger debuting in Stargirl, and HBO Max releasing the mythologically legendary Snyder Cut of the Justice League movie.

Mon
18
May

Broadsword Comics Celebrates 20 Years

Broadsword 20th

At the auspicious rolling of the celestial odometer -- also known as the year 2000 AD -- Jim Balent, who had come to stardom through his work on DC Comics' CATWOMAN series, took a foolhardy leap into the realm of independent publishing. He didn't have the backing of a Kickstarter or an Indiegogo; it was just him and fellow artist and spouse Holly Golightly, and a dream. That dream coalesced in the form of TAROT, WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE, where the team's pin-up style and background in magick could have expression.

Twenty years later, TAROT is still going strong, and the company has celebrated with a successful Kickstarter campaign to cap off two decades with a limited edition trade paperback (plus other goodies).

Wed
13
May

Spirit Reckoning: How the Wild West is Still in Fashion

Wild Wild West

While superheroes and intergalactic mercenaries take over popular entertainment, some old-school themes still linger. They may be less in demand than in the past, but cowboys pop up now and then in movies, video games and even comics to take us back to the grit of the wild west. Not only that, but current projects under development, like Spirit Reckoning, enjoy mixing up old and modern trends to create unique stories that will resonate with today’s audiences. You can find such originality throughout the entertainment industry, each sector often inspiring others. But, first, a bit more detail on this upcoming horror western.

Spirit Reckoning Update

Tue
12
May

Wizards of a New Oz: Zeb Hatfield and Eric Weathers on Battle Brick Road

Battle Brick Road

Some classics lend themselves to modern exploration. Lewis Carroll's ALICE IN WONDERLAND has been exploited in films such Disney's iconic animated masterpiece, to books like Frank Beddor's LOOKING-GLASS WARS. James Barrie's PETER PAN has been a mainstay of musical production for decades while going through dark reimaginings like Brom's THE CHILD THIEF.

Similarly, L. Frank Baum's WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ has been interpreted and reinterpreted over the past century in television mini-series, animated cartoons, and comic books, either in adaptive retellings or wholly imagined variations.

Mon
11
May

Comics Retailers Weigh In on Changes in Distribution Paradigm

After the Great Disaster

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Critical Blast has been meeting regularly with comic shop owners through online roundtable meetings to discuss how they are finding ways to stay afloat. Some stores are in states where business closures have been mandated. Others are in states where they are open but without new product because the sole distributor for comic books, Diamond Comics Distribution, closed down, leaving those stores essentially closed as well.

With new distributors entering the game, thanks to intervention on behalf of DC Comics, we meet once again with Dave Dyer of Cosmic Comics in Belleville, Illinois, Michael Tierney of Collector's Edition in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Uel Carter of Fantastic Comics in Berkeley, California to catch up on how the latest shifts in this new and untamed business landscape have affected them.

Wed
06
May

Martina Markota's Long Road to Bring Lady Alchemy to Comics

Lady Alchemy

There are so many different crowdfunded comics popping up these days of varying degrees of quality. And with the mainstream comics market in a state of flux, the projects at Kickstarter and Indiegogo are poised to reap the benefits of the comics distribution shutdown.

One such project is LADY ALCHEMY, a magical hero's journey from Martina Markota and MONSTER M.D.'s Von Klaus. LADY ALCHEMY originally funded two years ago, but then ran into choppy waters with the original creative team. Now, with a fresh writer and artist, Markota's vision is on track to be released soon.

We talk with Klaus and Markota in the livestream below, including some exclusive first looks at the new interior artwork.

Thu
23
Apr

32 Days Without Comics: COVID-19's Crisis in Infinite Comic Shops Continues

32 Days Without Comics

With a large portion of the country locked down economically due to COVID-19 restrictions, comic shop retailers find themselves in an unusual predicament. While many shops are open in states that have not had mandatory shutdowns, they nevertheless find themselves without product due to the shutdown at Diamond Comics Distribution, the lynchpin of the entire direct market system.

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