Category: New Number Ones

New Number Ones For the Week of 2/12/20

New Number Ones For the Week of 2/12/20

Hey There Folks!! This column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. This week we have four series for you. They are from AfterShock Comics, Boom! Studios, DC Comics, and Image Comics.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: Alienated #1, Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1, Tartarus #1, and Undone by Blood #1 

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 2/12/20”

New Number Ones For the Week of 2/5/2020

New Number Ones For the Week of 2/5/2020

Hey There Folks!! This column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. This week we have two Marvel Comics series for you along with a new book each from AfterShock Comics, Image Comics, Oni Press, and Titan Comics.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: Adler #1, The After Realm Quarterly #1, Aggretsuko #1, Dark Agnes #1 , The Man Who F#&%ed Up Time #1, and X-Men + Fantastic Four #1 

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 2/5/2020”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in February 2020

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in February 2020

Welcome back to new month of New Number Ones!!

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

There are a bunch of new series of interest starting in February. There are an inordinate amount of new books that start with “A” for some reason.

Some very familiar titles are coming back, but most of these books are original stories. We are very excited to see what they have in store for us.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. 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.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in February 2020”

Brainiac On Banjo #069: Breathtaker – Now It Can Be Told!

Brainiac On Banjo #069: Breathtaker – Now It Can Be Told!

In my career as a comic book editor-provocateur, I have had the privilege of assisting the birth of several remarkable projects. Two such projects were offered to me by the same team: writer/artists Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel. Oh, sure, they went on individually to do brilliant stuff such as Blood of the Innocent, Tarzan, The Sandman, Gregory, Frankenstein’s Mobster and The Escapist, but all that happened after I received their pitch for Mars.

I was editor-in-chief at First Comics, and I was specifically looking for a project that was completely original and produced by “newcomers” (quotes are due to that “overnight sensation” thing). Joe Staton and Bruce Patterson, our art director and production manager respectively, tossed the Mars proposal onto my lap and said “read this.” Not “read this, please” or “I think this is what you’re looking for;” nope, just read this.

I did, and then I called Wheatley and Hempel. As I recall, their agent was noted comics writer, marketer, publisher, and all-around swell guy Mike Friedrich. Quite rapidly, we had a deal.

After the first issues were finished and we started our promotion work, one of the major comics distributors – there actually used to be over a dozen! – told me I was making a big mistake. Nobody heard of these guys. I pointed out that nobody had heard of Mark Twain until he got published. I was told the story lacked commercial appeal. I responded, “how do you know they aren’t mutants?” Yeah, back in those days I could be quite stubborn or, as I prefer to think of it, an asshole for the cause of good.

We published the series and it became a cult classic. My definition of a cult classic was a highly regarded comic book whose sales were outflanked by the comp list. Mars did well enough and if it sold in those same volume today it would be a twice-weekly book, but the numbers weren’t likely to confound Alan Turing. It had enormous word-of-mouth going for it as well, and that inured to the benefit of the First Comics legend.

Flash forward six years to 1990. Despite the fact that Hempel was hospitalized during his time on Mars, they pitched me another project. By this time, I was a group editor and director of editorial development at DC Comics, and my job was to boldly acquire weird shit that no one had acquired before. I heard their pitch for Breathtaker in a backroom at some huge comics convention. I went for it in a heartbeat, my boss Dick Giordano was ecstatic about it (Dick had a great eye for weird shit), and we produced and published Breathtaker… Despite Hempel’s return to the hospital.

But that’s when things got dicey. Our publisher, Jenette Kahn, a fine person who had earned my respect several years before she got into comics, took one look at the cover and said it seemed like we were mocking concentration camp victims. It’s 30 years later, and I still don’t get that. But word got out that Jenette didn’t like the book. Well, that’s not true. She didn’t like the cover, and she could have called for a new one, or she could have canned the book outright. She did not, but our crack marketing department saw the onus as clear as day.

DC’s marketing director had a reputation for not putting much muscle behind comics that didn’t have a batcape and didn’t kill off anybody important. When Breathtaker was released the only people who knew about it were Wheatley and Hempel’s relatives and those friends of mine who remained amused by my incessant bitching. Despite this, the books sold well, and it got itself a trade paperback collection, which I believe went through a few printings.

Still onus-laden, Mark and Marc got the rights back – eventually. We reprinted it over at IDW in 2005, which was about the time something really interesting happened. The Normal Rockwell Museum was putting on an exhibition of some two dozen graphic novels, and Breathtaker was among those selected. We had an entire wall in their truly breathtaking museum. We were invited to the opening and they even threw us all a wonderful feast – after which many of the museum curators brought out their personal comics for us to sign.

From time to time, the museum put together a travelling version of the exhibit, and it’s still going on. According to the press release,

“Wheatley and Hempel’s Insight Studios Group will mount the “Breathtaker Exhibition,” which was created by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and will appear at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. With more than 90 original works of art, the exhibition explores the creative and physical processes that were undertaken during the original production … The exhibition will be on view August 24, 2020 through October 30, 2020.”

I should point out that McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland is just outside of Baltimore, near the abodes of the Breathtaker creators. That is sweet.

I should also point out that Breathtaker is being rereleased in collected edition by my old, old buddy Nick Landau (thanks for the sexy Hitler comic, Nick!) and his Titan Books imprimatur. Oh, and while I’m at it, I will point out that Titan is issuing an all-new companion comic, I guess for those of us who have all-new companions.

For me, this is seriously cool. Mark and Marc have been two of my closest friends, and I remain in awe of their work. If you haven’t read Breathtaker, Landau is about to make it easy for you to correct that.

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/8/2020

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/8/2020

Hey There Folks!! This column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. Despite that intent, this first week is light on new series and we have two Marvel Comics series for you along with a new book each from DC Comics / Hill HouseScout Comics, and Top Cow / Image Comics.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: The Clock #1, Daphne Byrne #1, Marvels X #1, Star #1, and White Ash #1

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 1/8/2020”

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020

Hey There Folks!! This column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. Despite that intent, this first week is light on new series and we have three Marvel Comics series for you along with a new book from IDW Publishing.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: Hawkeye: Freefall #1, I Can Sell You a Body #1, Star Wars #1, and Thor #1

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2020

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2020

Welcome back to new year of New Number Ones!!

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

There are not a whole lot of new series of interest starting in January. There are a few new series from licenced properties coming out. Most publishers have more new releases queued up for February, but there is a decent list below.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. 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.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2020”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in December 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in December 2019

Welcome back to New Number Ones!!

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

There is a bunch of new series of interest starting in December. There is a good mix of both existing properties and new concepts featured in these books. Below you will find a slate of new books from a wide variety of publishers. Some of our favorite comic book talents are bringing us some of these new series.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. 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.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in December 2019”

Preview Review for the Week of 11/13/2019: Vampironica: New Blood #1

Preview Review for the Week of 11/13/2019: Vampironica: New Blood #1

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.  This is where we give advanced glimpses at some of the comics that will be coming out this Wednesday.

A reminder for you. Here at Pop Culture Squad, we are decidedly Anti-Spoiler.  We feel that ruining someone’s experience with something for the sake of getting a scoop or clicks is the wrong thing to do. Therefore, we have decided to publish this column, as necessary, with mostly spoiler-free reviews of upcoming issues.  Hopefully, the information that we share with you will increase your excitement for these books.

This week we feature a new book from Archie Comics. It is Vampironica: New Blood #1 by Frank Tieri & Michael Moreci and Audrey Mok with Matt Herms and Jack Morelli. This book will be featured in our New Number Ones column for December. You might want to see what else we are looking forward to there.

You can find Vampironica at your LCS on December 4, 2019.

Vampironica: New Blood #1
Archie Comics
Written by Frank Tieri & Michael Moreci
Art by Audrey Mok
Colors by Matt Herms
Letters by Jack Morelli
Cover Art by Mok

Original Solicitation:

BRAND NEW SERIES! Riverdale’s own bombshell bloodsucker is back! Following the events of the Jughead the Hunger vs. Vampironica crossover, Veronica returns to her own universe, still a vampire. She’s not the same, and she knows it. And now she needs answers. But she may not be ready for what she’s about to discover!

PCS Review:

This is an excellent introduction to this series. Having never read anything in the Archie Horror world, this story was easily accessible to me. It does not explain everything that came before, but give just enough to let the reader know where the protagonist has been and the challenges she faces.

The pace and dialogue through the narrative is brisk and relatable. Tieri and Moreci do an excellent job in this first issue of presenting characters with depth and a conflict that is interesting. There are plenty of plot lines that are organically uncovered that give the story several paths to travel.

Audrey Mok’s line art is beautiful. She grabs the reader’s eye and leads it on an exciting journey through this book. Her panel designs and camera positioning are perfect for the pacing of the narrative. The style feels like it is just the right amount of rough edge to make it feel like a horror book, but still a Veronica Hodge story.

Matt Herms’ colors are sublime. The overall color theme is important to the feel of the book. His work is well thought out and expertly implemented. The lettering job by Jack Morelli should not be overlooked. The word art is truly excellent, but managing the amount of dialogue and the bubble placement is impressive.

Overall, we highly recommend this comic. It is a fun and exciting book with engaging characters and beautiful artwork.

Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?

Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Sigh. It’s a living…

For about three decades, I’ve been bitching about how our friends at DC and Marvel have abandoned the storytelling racket and are drowning themselves in the pool of “Event publishing.” During that time, line average comic book circulations have plummeted by about two-thirds.

(Explaining The Stupid Math Trick: “Line averages” are compiled by adding up the circulations of each individual issue printed by each publisher during the year and then dividing the total by the number of different issues involved. Variant covers and extra printings confuse the issue, but, screw it, they’re cheesy hustles that only complicate the processes. I refuse to acknowledge a second printing unless the publisher tells us what the first printing was. If Marvel Comics printed only 750 copies of Amazing Fantastic Fury #7 and then celebrated that success with a second printing, the whole thing is as meaningless as a fart in a blizzard in the dead of winter.)

So why am I carping about this now? And, not to mention, again? As is their wont, Marvel and DC each issued their February 2020 catalogs. On the cover of Marvel Previews – Wolverine #1!!! Another stunning concept from the House of Idea! Oh, and it’s got at least 12 different variant covers – not counting those that might be done for individual retailers – and this includes a virgin variant (wait… what? Alex Ross is a virgin???), hidden gem variants, a party variant, a die cut variant, and an adamantium variant – which, by way of disclaimer, is not even made of adamantium.

To honor their own Event, Marvel is reprinting three previous Wolverine #1’s as well. Will all this hubbub restore Wolvie to his former sales glory? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?”