With Further Ado #157: A Kiss is Just a Kiss…?

With Further Ado #157: A Kiss is Just a Kiss…?

I just had Ken Quattro, the Comics Detective, come speak to one of my summer classes. You may also recognize his name as the recent recipient of an Eisner Award for his ground-breaking book, Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books. It’s an enthralling and important deep dive into the lives of several black artists.

And just like every time Ken rolls up his shirtsleeves and gets down to business, it’s meticulously researched. Ken brands himself as a comic book detective, but like so many focused writers, he’s an exceptional historian.

I love writing about comics history for publications like TwoMorrow’s Back Issue Magazine and Overstreet’s Comic Book Price Guide, but I’m not in the same league as a historian like Ken.

But having written that, I think I found something new in the pop culture milestones to which historians usually refer.

Kiss Me, Captain

The original Star Trek TV series was groundbreaking in so many ways – everything from thoughtful, allegorical episodes to anticipating devices like cellphones and voice activated smart speakers.

Star Trek was also gutsy enough to debut the first interracial kiss on network TV. Granted, the characters, Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhuru did not kiss of their free will – the bad guys made them kiss one another. But still, Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura’s kiss was a milestone.

Back in 2016, Hollywood Reporter reflected on the milestone this way:

There were reasons for the cast about this TV first – the show was in its third season, and cancellation was imminent. But it was NBC that was reluctant to pull the trigger. Network execs were worried that the interracial scene would upset Southern affiliates, so an effort was made to shoot coverage where Kirk and Uhura don’t actually lock lips. “We did a few takes, but Bill was deliberately trying to flub it”, recalls (Nichelle) Nichols. “At one point, he even crossed his eyes to make me laugh.”

(To be fair, as a kid seeing Shatner behave like a horsey was the part that really bothered me, but that’s another story.)

In comics, the first interracial kiss was in Warren Publishing ‘s black-and-white horror-comics magazine, Creepy #43, published in January 1972. The kiss was part of the story, “The Men Who Called Him Monster” by writer Don McGregor and artist Luis Garcia.

For color comics, the first interracial kiss is generally considered to be in Marvel’s Amazing Adventures #31 from July 1975. This comic showcased a “War of the Worlds” series, where a hero named Killraven and his merry band adventured in a post-apocalyptic world of which H.G. Wells could only dream. Don McGregor wrote this series too. It’s illustrated by the alarmingly talented P. Craig Russel. Don recently told the story behind the story here.

It makes sense that Don McGregor wrote these stories. He’s a brilliant writer who always looked forward and delighted in writing about the human condition. He’s a kind guy full of warmth, enthusiasm and all the attributes that make good men become great ones.

He’s also a hopeless romantic. For my money, he’s written some of the very best love scenes in comics. And if you have the good fortune to meet him in person, he brings the definition of charming to a whole new level.

You might get the impression that I’m gushing about Don McGregor. And you’d be right. I think the absolute world of Don McGregor as a writer and as a person.

An Unrecognized Milestone

Even so – I think I uncovered a historic milestone. It’s in DC’s color comic, Korak, Son of Tarzan #54 published October-November 1973.

This series was all about Tarzan’s son, Korak, on a long quest to find his abducted girlfriend, Miriam. As you can imagine, he had many adventures along the way. In issue #54’s story, “Blood Brothers”, written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Murphy Anderson, Korak makes a new friend, Mnumbo. After a few close scrapes together, Mnumbo introduces his lovely sister, Salamma, to Korak.

It’s easy to see that Salamma is smitten with Korak. And either she or artist Murphy Anderson read a lot of Prince Valiant comics, because she performs a fetching campfire dance that may have been inspired by Aleta’s (Valiant’s girlfriend and eventual wife) most famous dance.

And as the adventure ends, and Korak is getting ready to ride into the sunset (well, to walk into the sunset, but you know what I mean), they share a passionate kiss.

I believe that this is the first interracial kiss in color comics.

And you know what? I think there was almost the second interracial kiss in color comics in the very next issue. In that adventure, an Asian woman, Lotus, is embracing Korak and is about to plant one on him until a bad guy interrupts them.

Let’s Get Serious for a Moment

I think this is important. In the early 70s, as a kid, it was important to me to be shown love ought to be colorblind. We didn’t say “love is love” back then, but that was idea.

And to a young fan like me, it was important that my favorite creators, guys like Don McGregor and Murphy Anderson, showed the way. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare. There were no cover blurbs proclaiming these were special collectible issues. It was more about measuring the true worth of someone and following your heart.

On a personal level, one of my favorite uncles, (he was actually a great-uncle), was my Uncle John. He was Italian by way of Sicily, and married my Aunt Ruby, a wonderful Jamaican woman. He was white and was black. As an adult, I’ve learned that he suffered, and fought, bias and prejudice. But he never let the struggles show. He was consistantly confident, fun-loving and in love with his wife.

I hope that 20-somethings reading this think “what is the big deal?” And I hope that their kids think it’s even less of a big deal, and the next generation thinks it’s even less of a big deal.

For my part, I’m so appreciative I had folks like my Uncle John, Murphy Anderson and Don McGregor to help me get my head on straight at an early age. And I’m grateful now for guys like Ken Quattro researching and spotlighting the lives of brave creators who often suffered discrimination.

One last thing: go find someone you love and kiss ‘em!

* * *

Just to be thorough, there is one technicality: some consider the very first interracial kiss in a color comic to be in a Golden Age Blackhawk story where the a dying woman’s request, a kiss from the hero Blackhawk, was platonically granted. The woman was Asian, and Blackhawk seemed pretty WASPy (even though he was really Polish).

 

As Is: Covid and Religious Freedom

You want to know how it will be. Me and him or you and me. You both stand there your long hair flowing, your eyes alive your mind still growing, saying to me “What can we do now that we both love you?” I love you too. I don’t really see why can’t we go on as three.” Triad, by David Crosby, 1970.

One of the many truly stupid reasons some people use to avoid getting the Covid vaccine (and, wait for it, the forthcoming booster shots) is that it infringes their right to religious freedom.

Well, so much for that “thou shalt not kill” crap. No needles for these hypocrites!

Be that as it may, the entire freedom of religion thing always is defined by whose ox is being gored. Often, this is an argument with severe limitations: people are really complaining about their religious freedom being infringed. Yours? Screw you, pal. Your religion is wrong, my religion is right, so go fry in my definition of hell.

You can’t reality-test religion – by definition, a person’s beliefs are a matter of faith and not proven fact. For example, there are religions that hold ritual human sacrifice to be part of their canon. Yet we here in America, as well as in several other nations, tend to frown upon ritual human sacrifice no matter what an individual’s belief structure might be.

How about polygamy? As far as I can tell, this, too, is frowned upon here in America, as well as in several other nations, even among consenting adults. In my book, religion has nothing to do with polygamy: if everybody is an adult and is completely consenting, it’s nobody else’s business. Besides, without the concept of polygamy we probably wouldn’t have Wonder Woman.

Nonetheless, various large religious groups sanction polygamy. Various Buddhist, Islamic, and Hindu denominations are perfectly okay with it. Of course, here in the United States and elsewhere, there is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a.k.a. the Mormons. They only “abandoned” polygamy in 1904 because they were being chased out of most of what was America at the time. Still, according to television reality shows, such multi-partnered relationships still exist among the faithful.

Sigh. So many men are afraid some other dude is gonna score on “their” pussy.

Okay. Having said this, perhaps you understand why this whole “getting the vaccine violates my religious freedom” thing is bullshit. We violate people’s religious freedom every hour of every day, usually by a perception of general acceptance. Blue laws violate other people’s religious freedom.

Covid is killing us. Covid-19 offed at least four million people worldwide. Covid-21 is rapidly turning back the clock. According to the CDC – which the anti-vaxxers consider a Socialist plot – 64,317 new cases of Covid were reported the week before last and the number is increasing rapidly… once again.

And that’s just the Delta variant. Imagine when we get up to Omega.

All this boils down to something quite simple. Some people who are refusing to get vaccinated are guilty of attempted manslaughter. Others, either knowingly, unknowingly or out of astonishing self-centered self-righteousness, are absolutely guilty of manslaughter. We should toss these people in prison and do so immediately.

Let’s see how long it takes for them to get the jab.

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #075: Better Late Than Never — HBO’s Barry

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #075: Better Late Than Never — HBO’s Barry

In “Better Late Than Never”, join Marc Alan Fishman as he trips sideways into streaming his way through a series and comes back to his column here on Pop Culture Squad to talk about its greatness as if the series just came out.

Shortly after meeting our titular Cleveland-based assassin Barry Berkman in writer/star Bill Hader’s Barry, he sits, staring into the middle-distance — his face blank, but the body language and minimally adorned apartment he calls home clearly shows us a man 7 feet below ground in exhausting depression. A jump cut later, Barry collects a crappy sedan below a staggeringly cyan blue sky of Los Angeles. Another job — to assist the Chechen Mob — has Berkman out West. By the end of the pilot, Barry completes his initial hit, not without complications; Chief among them his sudden fascination with potentially becoming an actor and abandoning his hitman profession. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #075: Better Late Than Never — HBO’s Barry”

Brainiac On Banjo: Del Close! Holy Shit!!!

Back in the day I was involved in producing a comic book called Wasteland. This effort led to the one question I have been asked most often in comics, particularly by my fellow field laborers. That question is “how the hell did you get DC Comics to publish that book?”

I was surrounded by a lot of talent who are as incredibly gifted as they are unique. This is a matter of fact: they unleashed some truly brilliant, emotionally terrorizing stuff. Artists William Messner-Loebs, Ty Templeton, Don Simpson, David Lloyd, George Freeman, Tom Artis and Tim Dzon, Lovern Kindzierski, Timothy Truman, William Wray, Michael Davis, Rick Magyar, Tom Ziuko, Joe Orlando, Tony Salmons. Writers John Ostrander and Del Close. Associate editors Robert Greenberger and Brian Augustyn. And a cast of dozens.

Working with these folks was an absolute honor and a joy.

Now, there’s a documentary about Wasteland called “For Madmen Only: The Stories of Del Close,” directed by Heather Ross and written by Heather and Adam Samuel Goldman. No kidding. It’s got an iMBD page to prove it.

The whole idea of using Wasteland as the basis for doing a documentary about Del is, if you’ll forgive me, dazzling. Hey, it wasn’t my idea; I’m just in it. Heather’s the one who pulled it off and it took her years to do so. That requires a lot of energy with an attention span to match. Del’s been subject of several biographies that are quite good – in fact, Howard Johnson’s is quite great – but revealing the marrow of that man to a 2021 audience is no easy trick. His days as a performer, a Shakespearean actor, a teacher and a director are well noted, particularly his long association with Second City, the iO (a.k.a. improvOlympics), the Upright Citizens Brigade and Saturday Night Live.

I’ve long felt my pals in sweet home Chicago should build a statue of him and place it in Lincoln Park, close to Second City. Those of us who appreciate the history of American comedy would enjoy it, of course, and I think Del would appreciate his providing a place for the pigeons.

In order to have a documentary, you probably should have interviews with some of the people involved with Del (you’ll see just how they are involved in the documentary) and among those in For Madmen Only are Bob Odenkirk, Patton Oswalt, Adam McKay, Tim Meadows, Charna Halpern, Howard Johnson, Susan Messing, Alan Meyerson, Jason Sudeikis, Dave Thomas, Michaela Watkins, George Wendt, as well as John and myself. There are flashback scenes where Josh Fadem plays John, James Urbaniak plays Del, and Matt Walsh plays me. There’s a ton of real Del Close footage, as is only fitting as his name is there in the title, and much of that feature some of the other well-known legends that Del worked with, trained, and/or got into trouble with.

Holy shit. I just broke my own world’s record for name-dropping.

To be serious for the moment – don’t worry, it’s a one-time thing – this is an honor that shakes me to my very bones. Wasteland was, and still is, the most fun I’ve had in comics with my clothes on. I think we all knew we were walking a tightrope when we did the series, but I doubt many of us realized we’d finish falling up!

Plus… please allow me one more snatch of egoboo. Having Matt Walsh play me, for crying out loud, is mind-bogglingly amazing.

At the top of this piece I said I’ve been asked about how I got DC Comics to publish Wasteland. Well, it just so happens that this very Sunday, July 25th, at the San Diego Comic Con – which is once again on You Tube this year because of the Plague – I’m on a panel where I reveal exactly that. It airs starting at 10 AM west coast time, which, for those of you who can’t work a slide rule, is 1 PM eastern time and 2:30 PM Newfoundland time. Hey, you never know. The You Tube link ishttps://bit.ly/3xTQHqj; the long link is https://youtu.be/7Xddm_N-djo.

OK.

We’re ready for our close-up, Heather!

 

With Further Ado #156: The Newness of the Nine

Steve Ellis is one of those artists that you can admire in many ways. The easy way is to just admire his lovely art. Everything he creates has such emotion and passion. A couple of years ago I purchased one of his convention sketchbooks and I was enthralled – his stuff looks great in black and white.   During the pandemic, he was doing live drawing sessions online, and it was a treat – and an education – to see his illustrations come to life.

The Nine #0 cover by Steve Ellis

The other way to admire Steve Ellis is through his thoughtfulness and ability to find ‘the next thing’. He’s always evaluating the business landscape and working to find the next opportunities. (I teach entrepreneur classes and that’s always one of the key mindsets we try to imbue into the students’ mindset.)

I was thrilled to find out that Ellis is part of a new project called The Nine. It’s from a forward-thinking group called InterPop. Here’s their official description:

InterPop is a digital comics, gaming, and collectibles company building the next generation of fan experiences. InterPop works with leading creatives, gamers, artists, musicians, and brands to redefine fandom through digital collectibles and experiences. InterPop is the publisher of Emergents, a new comics universe with three original series (Emergents Presents; The Nine; and #ZoeMG), and the creator of a new TCG based on the Emergents universe. InterPop is also the creator of Play with Brio, a skill games platform, and MinterPop, an NFT marketplace. For more information, please visit interpop.io

The Nine #0 cover by Mike Allred.

This is an ambitious group and there’s a lot here. Emergents is a new comics universe from President & Publisher of InterPop, Brian David Marshall and Group Editor, Rachel Gluckstern. Writer Will Pfeifer provides the story. The comic’s cover and interior art is by the aforementioned Steve Ellis. The zero issue will kick off the ongoing series for The Nine and introduce some of the characters in this new shared universe.

And there’s a lot more top talent involved. Artists for variant covers include Amanda Conner, Colleen Doran, David Lapham and Bill Sienkiewicz.

A Creative Launch

The team is trying something new. Again, this is from the press release:

Issue #0 of The Nine, the first NFT comic book in the Emergents universe, will premiere at InterPop Block Party on July 17th and will be available for free to attendees via the InterPop e-reader. All of the ongoing titles will be made available as Free-to-Read comics in the e-reader as they are released and also offered as NFT editions.

True digital ownership of an Emergents comic series issue unlocks new experiences for comics fans. NFT collectors and readers will be able to vote on the future of the Emergents universe on topics ranging from the cosmetic to the cosmic. This means fans may choose which characters live and which ones die — and what costume they are wearing when it happens. It also means that fans can trade or sell their NFT copies of InterPop’s comics just like they can with physical comics.

It’s a fascinating overlap of comics, gaming and crypto currency. Of interest?  There’s more info available at Interpop.

Here are some preview pages of the comic: Continue reading “With Further Ado #156: The Newness of the Nine”

With Further Ado #155: Back to Normal? Conventions and Movies Are a Go.

With Further Ado #155: Back to Normal? Conventions and Movies Are a Go.

Slowly, ever so cautiously, things are getting back to normal.  This was a big weekend for movies as Marvel’s Black Widow debuted in both theaters and on the Disney+ Streaming app.  Variety reported that this movie generated $80 million in the theaters domestically (far beyond any other post-pandemic release) and another $60 million via Disney Plus Premier Access, where you had to fork over another $30 bucks.

That worked well for my brothers and their families, who are vacationing together and created a fun shared experience.

I have no idea what that bodes for in-theater movies vs. seeing them on streamers.  I will say it was a bit odd to see an ad for an Amazon series (Tomorrow War)  before the Black Widow theatrical movie that my wife and I attended.

But all in all, it felt really good to be in a theater again. Even the annoying people in the theater weren’t really annoying – it was so pleasant to be enjoying a movie in a social setting again.

“It was good to be back in a theater, in the dark, with a crowd. It didn’t matter what the movie was,” said Steve Rotterdam of AfterShock Comics and Bonfire Agency. It seems likes that was the overall reaction to seeing movies in the theater.

Professor Larry Maslon of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University made it back into the theater too:

So, in the summertime, our family decamps to a small town on the North Fork of Long Island that has only one movie theater.  Until the summer of 2020, of course, we saw all our summer movies there, and that means opening day of all the MCU movies.  Last week, I took my 13-year-old Miles and his pal to see the opening of Black Widow. Unlike our MCU excursions in New York City, where there are hundreds of fanboys in the debut audience, this weekend I was the only fanboy in a small audience of, say, 25 (and Miles, but only sort of because he’s more grown-up than I).  When the requisite MCU fan-service Easter egg joke appeared halfway through Black Widow (no spoilers–figure it out yourselves, it’s a heck of a reference), I shrieked with laughter. 

After the movie, Miles was furious with me:  “Dad, you always do that at a Marvel movie–you’re the only one laughing at these in-jokes.  It’s so embarrassing.” 

“Yes,” I replied, “But you only noticed because we just started going back to the movies.”

Back to the CONS?

It was a busy weekend for me, as I also attended my first live comic con in forever too. Ken Wheaton, a comics pro who’s never lost his excitement for collecting, launched Rochester’s newest comic convention, The Empire Comic Fest.  Upstate New York has a rich history of wonderful cons, and there was definitely an impatience to get things going again.

Emil Novak of Buffalo is holding a convention there next Sunday, and long-time “Convention Maestro” Teddy Hanes has several conventions on the calendar too.

It was refreshing to be back at a convention.  This one was focused on back issues, with dealers selling high value books.  A strong retailer from Buffalo, Dave and Adams, also exhibited, and it was encouraging to see and hear their enthusiasm.

I found a few treasures there – two Big Little Books (I’ve been looking for that Space Ghost one for years and years) and on issue of DC’s Korak, Son of Tarzan. I do believe this issue is a bit of a landmark and I’m eager to write about it next week.

As you can see from the photos, a good time was had by all. And isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be at a local comic convention?

 


 

 

 

As Is With Mike Gold: Fuck ‘Em If They Can’t Take A Poke

As Is With Mike Gold: Fuck ‘Em If They Can’t Take A Poke

Sharpen your teeth for the family feast. Let all the hungry drool roll down your chin. Hide the human and bring out the beast. Let all the animal games begin! – Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, Silver Spoon, 1971.

Last week, reported COVID infections went up 11%. That’s not entirely a bad thing.

Those new cases, according to published accounts, are almost entirely among the unvaccinated. 99.5%, according to the CDC, which is closer than “almost entirely.” If recent history is an indication, this particular subset of moronacy does not believe COVID infections went up 11%. Or, alternately, that COVID has ever been a problem at all. Or, on the mutant’s third hand, it’s all a Democratic Party conspiracy.

With respect to that last idea, they might have a point. Given the overwhelming refusal of many in the Confederate States to get the jab – no nanites for true American patriots! – they are killing off each other. Perhaps they believe the Democrats have bred a new strain of COVID, the Delta Variant (which is not the name of an X-Men graphic novel) that spreads much faster and with far greater efficiency than that which attacked the Atlantic northeast blue states a year and a half ago. To hell with ending gerrymandering, we Pizza Pederasts have on our side… oh, my god… SCIENCE!

The fly in that slice of paranoid pie is that the Democrats haven’t shown the ability to get their act together to organize such a feat since they ended Reconstruction with The Great Compromise of 1877. I continue to question the use of the adjective “Great,” but in those days the Republicans were what we call Democrats today and the Democrats were what we called Republicans – until the remaining, unpurged “Republicans” bent over and turned their asses towards the ex-president.

Be that as it may, all these death worshipping insurrectionists have been warned repeatedly, in every manner possible, throughout the lamestream media. No doubt they’re still busy looking for that Washington pizza parlor’s basement. It’s possible the Cult might have heard about it through their misinformation venues of choice: Twitter, Fox News, the Qanon sites, Breitbart, The Epoch Times, Infowars, Newsmax, One America News, Twitchy, the Washington Times, and a great many others. However, these ill-dressed goose-stepping Goebbels replicants seem to share a different interpretation of the word “vaccine.” They confuse it with “Zyklon B.”

I wonder. WWAR do? What would Ayn Rand do? That disgusting, lying hypocrite took social security, so perhaps she’d take the jab as well. The far right has a hard time letting philosophy get in the way of their own personal… growth. We know her fanboy eye doctor wannabe devotee Kentucky Senator Rand Paul thinks this is a prime example of government overreach. Saving people’s lives is not something in which any Right-thinking American should engage.

As a person who believes in democracy, egalitarianism, freedom of and from religion, and the American Dream, I say to these individuals “Keep on truckin’.” We’ll see if we can bury you under the statues of your favorite treasonous Confederate heroes.

And here you thought COVID was a bummer.

With Further Ado #154:  En Garde!

With Further Ado #154: En Garde!

 When I was in a college freshman, it was mandated we take two gym classes.  I wanted to try something I had never tried before, so I signed up for fencing.  There was an Olympic fencer from my hometown who was a bit of a local celebrity, but the real reason I was interested in fencing was because I loved movie swordfights.

As a freshman in that class, we learned the basics for the first four weeks.  We studied and practiced lunges and parries and all that stuff.  Soon it was time to actually fence against another person.   Within seconds, I forgot everything I had been learning and it all reverted to any other backyard swordfight.  I relied 100%  on those summer days when my brother and I would swish sticks in the backyard and say things like “ah-hah!”   Needless to say, I was not invited onto the fencing team.

But… in the spirit of those summer swordfights, let’s review some comics!

The Fox So Cunning and Free

American Mythology is a new publisher, just celebrating its 5th anniversary. One of the licenses they have acquired is Zorro, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The Mark of Zorro : 100 Years of the Masked Avenger is an impressive coffee table book celebrating this long-lived hero’s many incarnations.  James Kuhoric and Jason Ullmeyer have assembled a collection of amazing images from every Zorro adventure – all the books, pulps, movies, cartoons and comics. It’s heavy on imagery and light on text, so it is a quintessential ‘flip through” book.

Comics creators Matt Wagner and the legendary Don McGregor (who created my favorite version of Zorro) supply the introduction and forward respectively to make the proceedings all the more special.

D’Artagnan Returns

Seven Swords is a new comic series from another “new” publisher, AfterShock Comics. They’ve been putting out so many titles they don’t seem new anymore to me, though. Seven Swords is written by Revan Daughtery and the art is provided by Riccardo Latina.  This new series focuses on a middle aged D’Artagnan, who you will remember from Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers. In this story, however, the Three Musketeers are offstage, and D’Artagnan seeks to avenge them by recruiting a new team . He goes all-in Magnificent Seven style.

Latina, an Italian artist who is new to me, employs a classic style that suits the material, but he leverages a sense of dynamic movement, so it never looks dated.

A Look Back at an Invincible Sword

Recently, Back Issue Magazine shined the spotlight on Conan, the Barbarian. One of the articles reviewed all the ‘other’ barbarian characters from the Bronze Age, and I was fascinated by Dagar, the Invincible.  A Gold Key/Western “Sword and Sandals” character, Dagar was created by Don Glut and Jesse Santos. Wonderful painted covers graced each issue, many may have been painted by George Wilson. I would have ignored this series as a kid, but lately I have I been scouring back issue bargain boxes for it.  Glut is an imaginative and clever writer, and able to pack so much into one-and-done single story issues.

Santos, part of the wave of brilliant Filipino artists who illustrated 70s comics, is simply fantastic.

The layouts, anatomy and inking are all inspiring.  All of Santo’s barbarian women look like they walked off the set of a 1969 Hollywood movie, but that’s not so bad.

Of note if you want to join me in the noble quest of collecting Dagar:  he didn’t really have his own title. It was officially Tales of Swords and Sorcery featuring Dagar the Invincible.


“Don’t leave home without your sword- your intellect.”

-Alan Moore

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming In July 2021

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming In July 2021

This month we give our readers a list of the exciting new comic book series debuting in July. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

There are quite a few of great new and interesting series starting this month from AfterShock Comics, Ahoy Comics, IDW Publishing, Boom! Studios, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Vault Comics, Image Comics, Marvel Comics, Scout Comics, Valiant Entertainment, Dynamite Entertainment, AWA/Upshot Studios, Titan Books, and Bad Idea Comics.

A very interesting nugget from this month’s list is that there are no new Batman books and two Superman books. DC is mixing it up to keep us on our toes.

We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 7/7/21
Week of 7/14/21
Week of 7/21/21
Week of 7/28/21


Week of July 7


Black’s Myth #1
Ahoy Comics
Written by Eric Palicki
Art by Wendell Cavalcanti
Cover Art by Liana Kangas

Meet Janie “Strummer” Jones, just an ordinary werewolf PI, trying to make it on the mean streets of LA. When the case of a lifetime falls into her lap, it’s up to her and her charming djinn assistant Ben Si’lat to figure out just how many silver bullets have been used, and just where do silver bullets come from anyway? A new horror series from writer Eric Palicki and artist Wendell Cavalcanti, with lush covers by Liana Kangas. Every AHOY book comes with extra prose stories and illustrations. Issue 1 features a stunning variant cover by Jamal Igle.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: You had me at “ordinary werewolf PI”. I am up for this one!


Clans Of Belari #1
AfterShock Comics
Written by Rob Blackie & Peter Blackie
Art by Daniel Maine & Carlos Lopez
Cover Art by Andy Clarke & Jose Villarrubia

PRIMARY LAWS OF THE BELARI SYSTEM:

1.) No person or Clan may exit the system.
2.) No person or Clan may do the Designated Work of another Clan.
3.) Clans may not merge.
4.) Any person that breaks a Primary Law shall be made Outcast.

On the far side of the galaxy, an isolated branch of humanity is trapped in a feudal dystopia. Oder is maintained by a system of oppression, until an orphaned girl and her incorrigible adoptive father sow the seeds of a revolution and unite the clans against a fearsome alien threat.

From Rob Blackie and Peter Blackie (creators and writers of Netflix’s historical action-adventure series, Frontier) and artist Daniel Maine comes this vast and enthralling sci-fi adventure.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Who doesn’t love a sci-fi epic that delves into the nature of how humanity treats itself? Looks good.


Fight Girls #1
AWA / Upshot Studios
Written by Frank Cho
Art by Cho & Sabine Rich
Cover Art by Cho

Ten hard-as-nails women face off in an ancient contest of champions where the winner truly takes all: the title of “Queen of the Galaxy.” To win the challenge each contestant must survive the hazards of the planet’s harsh landscape, the ferocious predators on and below its surface, and their fellow contestants. This edition of the contest has a twist: one of the contestants is an infiltrator who has her eye on something bigger than the prize. Who is she and what does she really want?

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: I will say that Frank Cho is a very good storyteller, and that makes me want to see what this book has in store for the reader.


Justice League Infinity #1
DC Comics
Written by J.M. DeMatteis & James Tucker
Art by Ethen Beavers
Cover Art by Francis Manapul

From Justice League Unlimited producer James Tucker and series writer J.M. DeMatteis comes an all-new season starring the World’s Greatest Heroes! There is a being wandering the universe searching for its true purpose, but what it finds out on the farthest edges of the cosmos will change not just our universe, but many! Meanwhile, the war for the throne of Apokolips arrives on Earth, and the true ruler will only be decided one way: Who can destroy the Justice League?

Release Date: July 6, 2021

PCS NOTES: This takes place in the “universe” that is very special to a lot of people, and the creative team inspires a lot of confidence that this will be a good story. Looking forward to it.


The Lot #1
Bad Idea Comics
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Renato Guedes
Cover Art by Guedes

In 1970, legendary filmmaker Oliver Larsen began production on his latest horror masterpiece on the lot of Los Angeles’ famed Cloverleaf Studios. Obsessed with bringing authenticity to the genre, the director insisted on casting real-life occultists to perform a genuine Satanic ritual live on camera – until something went horribly wrong. In the bloody aftermath, the production was shut down, the footage was confiscated, and the soundstage was forever shuttered.

Until today.

On the heels of a promotion that’s just made her the youngest studio chief in decades, Aviva Copeland is planning to overhaul Cloverleaf’s fading image for the 21st century – starting with the prime piece of California real estate that’s gone unused for 50 years: the very same lost soundstage where Larsen filmed his doomed masterpiece. But, as Aviva will soon discover, this corner of the lot may have been closed for a half-century, but it’s far from empty… and the evil that lives within its haunted walls will soon seize its chance to kill again.

New York Times best-selling writer Marguerite Bennett and artist Renato Guedes present a terrifying vision of horror and Hollywood in the boldly bloody Bad Idea manner!

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: A new horror story from Marguerite Bennett is not something that you let slip by. Find somewhere that Bad Idea is sold and get this book. 


Mamo #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Sas Milledge
Art by Milledge
Cover Art by Milledge

BOOM! Studios is proud to showcase the incredible artistic vision of Sas Milledge!

Can Orla O’Reilly embrace her destiny in order to bridge the divide between humanity and the faerie world?

Orla, the youngest in a long line of hedge witches, finds herself pulled back to her hometown after the death of her grandmother – Mamo.

Without Mamo managing magical relationships between the townsfolk and the fae, the seas are impossible to fish, the crops have soured… and Jo Manalo’s attic has been taken over by a poltergeist!

Now, Orla and Jo will both be pulled into worlds they never wanted to be part of. Can the two girls work together to save the town?

Sas Milledge debuts her first original series perfect for fans of The Last Witch and Sabrina The Teenage Witch that answers the question of how we all reconcile our responsibilities with our dreams for our own future.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: This solicitation and cover art got us. We are interested in meeting Orla.


Masters of the Universe: Revelation #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Rob David, Tim Sheridan & Kevin Smith
Art by Mindy Lee
Cover Art by Stjepan Sejic

Following a vicious Orlax attack on his father King Randor, He-Man learns the creature is linked to the origin of the sword of power. To save Randor and put an end to the chaos He-Man embarks on an epic journey that pits him against his longtime foes Skeletor and Evil-Lyn, and sees Teela take the reins of a powerful legacy.

The official prequel to the upcoming Netflix show!

Variant cover by Mike Mignola.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Are you excited for the new Netlfix He-Man series. We are, and this book looks to be a good introduction to the series if you need a refresh on the world of Eternia.


Ordinary Gods #1
Image Comics
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Felipe Watanabe
Cover Art by Watanabe

For fans of THE OLD GUARD and GOD COUNTRY comes the extra-length first issue of a centuries-spanning action epic from writer KYLE HIGGINS and artist FELIPE WATANABE!

The Luminary. The Prodigy. The Brute. The Trickster. The Innovator. Five gods from a realm beyond our own, leaders in the “War of Immortals.” Aleast, they were – before they were trapped, sent to a planet made into a prison, forced into an endless cycle of human death and reincarnation. Christopher is 22. He’s got two loving parents and a 12-year-old sister. He works at a paint store. He’s in therapy. He’s one of the Five. Which means, in order to save everyone he cares about, Christopher will have to reconnect with his past lives and do the unthinkable: become a god again.

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: I like the concept behind this story and am intrigued to see how they pull it off.


Red Sonja: Black, White, Red #1
Dynamite Comics
Written by Kurt Busiek, Amanda Diebert, & Mark Russell
Art by Benjamin Dewey, Cat Staggs, & Bob Q
Cover Art by Lucio Parrillo

Dynamite proudly presents a prestige project by the world’s greatest storytellers! Red Sonja, like you’ve NEVER seen before…all presented in beautiful black, white, and red!

KURT BUSIEK and BENJAMIN DEWEY  take you to The Mountains Of Night, a foreboding haunt where the She-Devil With A Sword seeks a precious, priceless item…

AMANDA DEIBERT and CAT STAGGS wind you through a mysterious adventure of crimson and ebony…

MARK RUSSELL and BOB Q return to put their final stamp on their classic Red Sonja series, with a coda that will leave you breathless…

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Yes another limited pallet anthology series, BUT try to convince me that Dynamite could come up with a better lineup of talent for the first issue of this offering. You can’t. Just get the book and enjoy.


Skybound X #1
Image Comics
Written by Various
Art by Various
Cover Art by Ryan Ottley

Celebrate a sensational 10 years of Skybound with a cavalcade of your favorite creators for all-new stories of your favorite series past, present and future! Each issue of this oversized, weekly series will kick off with a new chapter of a serialized THE WALKING DEAD story—RICK GRIMES 2000—by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley!

In addition, we’ll be debuting all-new series and characters every issue, starting with the First Appearance of the most requested WALKING DEAD character of all-time: Clementine, star of the bestselling Telltale’s The Walking Dead video game series!

Did we mention new ULTRAMEGA and MANIFEST DESTINY stories?! If you want to know what to expect in Skybound’s next 10 years, it all starts here!

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: Not much to add to the solicitation for this book.


X-Men #1
Marvel Comics
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia
Cover Art by Larraz & Gracia

THESE X-MEN ARE…FEARLESS! The heroes of Krakoa are here to save the planet! Things might be complicated between the nation of Krakoa and the rest of the world, but to the X-MEN, things are simple—you do what’s right, you protect those who need protecting and you save the world we all share. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Sunfire, Rogue, Wolverine, Synch and Polaris are the chosen champions of mutantkind, and they will not shrink from any battle for their home planet. Writer Gerry Duggan reteams with superstar artist Pepe Larraz to chart the course of the X-Men in a world of the Reign of X!

Release Date: July 7, 2021

PCS NOTES: It’s time for a new X-Men #1. Let’s be honest some of the best storytelling at Marvel is coming from the X-office. We will be on-board with this new number one for sure. Continue reading “New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming In July 2021”

Brainiac On Banjo: Screw The Sick

When the men on the chessboard / Get up and tell you where to go / And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom / And your mind is moving low / Go ask Alice / I think she’ll know – Grace Slick, White Rabbit, 1965.

I will freely admit that when I first read about the medicinal uses for psilocybin, I was more than just a bit surprised. I had taken the stuff in 1971, had a swell time, found it to be an exceptionally intense and pleasurable experience, and never touched it again. No reason not to; it was just a sweet “been there, done that” kind of thing. My usage was recreational, if you define “recreation” as sitting in a wicker chair for four hours listening to the Grateful Dead’s Live/Dead album on an 8-track loop.

Ah, hippies. Lovable people. Really. And psilocybin was one of our generation’s many gifts to you young ‘uns. You’re welcome.

Lately, psilocybin has been receiving a lot of publicity as an effective treatment for a number of serious medical conditions and is being studied and even legalized for such use in an increasing number of states. Of course, the feds continue to treat it as the stuff nightmares are made of, just as they still do with cannabis. In these endeavors, the Biden administration continues to assert its anti-science role as the nation’s Morality Police, defining morality strictly in Billy Sunday terms. “Screw the sick,” they appear to be advocating. “We don’t want nobody getting cured if might make them feel good. The diseased must be punished for their crime!”

So it comes as no surprise that the DEA – the pathetically inept and life-ruining Drug Enforcement Agency – reached into its suitcase of clichés to site the most hypocritical and asinine argument.

Well, of course. Legalizing currently controlled substances despite their medicinal value will have one extremely negative impact on our society. It might put the useless, obstructionist and disgusting waste of taxpayers’ money Drug Enforcement Agency out of business. As Governor Lepetomane famously said, and I frequently repeat, “we’ve got to protect our phony-baloney jobs!”

So the federal busybodies are telling us limited medical access could boost the illegal drug trade. This, of course, is a pile of hypocritical bullshit that is 90 years past its expiration date. You may have noticed alcohol and tobacco are available over the counter to adults. Have these substances drifted down to the under-aged and the legally sanctioned? Why, yes, absolutely. Just like guns, cars, prescription drugs, marijuana (in over half of the nation), and people who are not “this high” to get on the ride. We have a word for those who break the law and deliver such joys to children. We call them “criminals.” Sometimes, we even bust them for doing so. That, too, is rare, but it happens. The fact that it is so rare underscores the hypocrisy of denying such medical treatment to those who need it. If it makes you feel good and is not represented by a well-healed lobby, you can’t have it. Nayh nayh nayh nayh nayh.

If, assuming its benefits are scientifically confirmed, I am prescribed psilocybin for whatever my condition might be, our government has no right to restrict my treatment unless and until they declare war on me.

Which they have. They’re quite good at it, too. Just ask any woman.

That great American profit Mojo Nixon wrote “we gotta help the sick and the addicted, but we’re killin’ ourselves with the new prohibition. Our government’s try to tell you what to do; decide for yourself what’s right for you. If ya go too far and ya get outta hand,
then ya take a little trip down to prison land!” (Legalize It, 1985)

That is truth to power, Brother Mojo.