Category: Reviews

Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…

Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…

“Trina wears her wampum beads, she fills her drawing book with line. Sewing lace on widow’s weeds, and filigree on leaf and vine.” from Ladies of the Canyon,” written by Joni Mitchell in tribute to Trina Robbins in 1970.

Much has been written about the passing of Trina Robbins, and I stand behind every syllable I’ve read. I will not be joining that informative chorus, but instead I will be discussing one of her final works, Dauntless Dames: High-Heeled Heroes of the Comics, published less than eight months ago.

This remarkably oversized tome, roughly the size of a tabloid newspaper, is from Fantagraphics Books’ Sunday Press imprint. Trina had a co-conspirator on this one, strip historian, connoisseur and Sunday Press honcho Peter Maresca. It is a true gem.

As the title suggests, Dauntless Dames puts the spotlight on a wide-variety of adventure comic strips that star women. Many, such as Tarpé Mills’ Miss Fury, Dale Messick’s Brenda Starr and Jackie Ormes’ Torchy Brown (later revived as Heartbeats) were produced by women — and women cartoonists were hardly a common sight before the Vietnam War. Male cartoonists who employed women heroes include Frank Godwin’s Connie, Russell Stamm’s Invisible Scarlet O’Neil, Bob Oksner’s Miss Cairo Jones, and Jack Sparling’s Claire Voyant… not to be confused with the current drag performer of the same name. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…”

With Further Ado #291: From Convention to Comic Shop

With Further Ado #291: From Convention to Comic Shop

Conventions can be the perfect place for discovery. Here are three comics that I wouldn’t have stumbled across if not for first learning about them at conventions:

The Displaced
By Ed Brisson and Luca Casalanguida
Published by BOOM! Studios

After the recent ComicsPRO industry meeting, all the attendees traveled to various comic shops in the Pittsburgh area. The first stop was Pittsburgh Comics, owned and operated by Colin McMahon. Wow – what a fantastic store-it’s laid out well, upbeat and fun. Plus, it’s stuffed with so many treasures!

During this visit, Ed Brisson was on site signing and selling copies of his new comic, The Displaced. Brisson is an innovative writer and an industrious entrepreneur. I’ve been a big fan of his ever since I read his time traveling Comeback comic series. He always seems just as happy selling his books as he is creating them. I bought two issues of The Displaced #1 from him. Upon reflection, I wish I had bought his variant issue. He explained that sales from that comic fuels his signing tours.

The Displaced is a moody thriller with a disastrous event and then a creepy cover-up. It almost seems like it could be a modern-day version of one of the best The Twilight Zone episodes that never existed.

I had enjoyed Luca Casalanguida’s art on Scout’s Honor from AfterShock Comics a few years ago, and he’s only gotten better. (That one was written by David Pepose, and I’m eager for his new take on Space Ghost for Dynamite). Continue reading “With Further Ado #291: From Convention to Comic Shop”

Preview Reviews for the Week of 3/13/2024: Helen of Windhorn, I Heart Skull-Crusher, Napalm Lullaby, and Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers

Preview Reviews for the Week of 3/13/2024: Helen of Windhorn, I Heart Skull-Crusher, Napalm Lullaby, and Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers

There are four New Number Ones that debut today that we want to tell you about. Typically, in this column, we bring you advanced reviews of comics that are coming out this week.

This week, we have comics from four different publishers, which is something that we love to see. The ironic thing about this group is that three of the books are examples of creative teams from previous series reuniting for these new comics. We have Helen of Windhorn #1 from Dark Horse Comics, I Heart Skull-Crusher #1 from Boom! Studios, Napalm Lullaby #1 from Image ComicsWrong Earth: Dead Ringers #1 from Ahoy Comics.

You can find these books at your LCS or wherever you buy books today March 13, 2024.

Also the rest of the #NewNumberOnes for the week are here.


Helen of Windhorn #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by Bilquis Evely
Colors by Matheus Lopes
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover Art by Evely & Lopes

Original Solicitation:

From the Eisner award-winning and bestselling creative team of Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow comes this Gothic sword and sorcery epic that’s “Conan the Barbarian meets The Wizard of Oz.” Following the tragic death of her late father C.K. Cole, the esteemed pulp writer and creator of the popular warrior character Othan; Helen Cole is called back to her Grandfather’s enormous and elustrious estate: Wyndhorn House. Scarred by Cole’s untimely passing and lost in a new, strange world, Helen wreaks drunken havoc upon her arrival; however, her chaotic ways begin to soften as she discovers a lifetime of secrets hiding within the myriad rooms and hallways of the expansive manor. For outside its walls, within the woods, dwell the legendary adventures that once were locked away within her father’s stories.

PCS Review:

This series has been mentioned as a spiritual successor to Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, and that is an easy comparison. That entire team is back for this creator-owned book, and they have strong independent leading women. However, I feel that comparison does a disservice to Helen. This book is amazing as is Supergirl, but readers should take each story on its own.

Tom King and Bilquis Evely craft a fantastic world in the pages of this book that are tinged with despondence and tragedy. The narrative is expertly crafted and King’s use of a hostile narrator adds a level of uncomfortability to the reading experience that requires that the reader not to turn away.

The characters, particularly the title character, are compelling and expertly crafted. The visual tapestry that Evely and Matheus Lopes weave is stunning and intoxicating. Clayton Cowles is one of the best letterers in the business and brings his “A” game to this book.

When I finished reading this book, I was disappointed because I didn’t want it to end. And now I can’t wait for issue two. Continue reading “Preview Reviews for the Week of 3/13/2024: Helen of Windhorn, I Heart Skull-Crusher, Napalm Lullaby, and Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers”

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

“People say that life is good, but I just piss and moan. I got one foot on a banana peel, the other in the Twilight Zone.” Life Sucks And Then You Die, written by Mike Girard, Doug Forman and Rich Bartlett

It is well-known that the Man of Steel does not kill. However, that has not always been the case.

I just started rereading the first year of the Superman newspaper comic strip. It began publication near the beginning of 1939, five months prior to the release of the first Superman #1. Its circulation was mammoth, quickly appearing in virtually all major American cities and headlined by The New York Mirror, which ultimately had a daily circulation that was about the same as all three printings of Superman #1 combined. It is fair to say that, in these earliest days, the strip did quite a lot to maximize the Man of Steel’s popularity. The Adventures of Superman radio show, equally successful in widening the audience, didn’t start until a full year later.

Initially, the strip was produced by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s studio in Cleveland. Joe’s eyesight was pretty much shot by 1939, but he inked — at the very least — the character faces. The rest of the artwork was handled by Wayne Boring and Paul Cassidy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!”

Preview Reviews: Classic Detectives Returning to Comics

Preview Reviews: Classic Detectives Returning to Comics

We are excited to bring you this special edition of Preview Reviews.

Typically in this column we bring you advanced reviews of comics that are coming out this week. The two books we are reviewing are a little further off in release date. As we mentioned earlier in New Number Ones, this is a fairly light week on new debuts, and we decided to do something different.

Both of the books that we previewed are coming out soon, but they have something else in common. They both are led by classic detective characters that helped to shape what detective stories are meant to be. Mad Cave Studios is reviving Dick Tracy for comic books, and Tripwire Magazine’s Joel Meadows is making his comic book writing debut with a brand new Sherlock Holmes story.

Please enjoy these reviews and then be sure to check out the comics when they come out. You can find these books at your LCS or wherever you buy books.

Also the rest of the #NewNumberOnes for the week are here.


Dick Tracy #1
Mad Cave Studios
Written by Alex Segura & Michael Moreci
Art by Geraldo Borges
Colors by Mark Englert
Creative Consultant: Chantelle Aimée Osman
Letters by Jim Campbell
Editor: Chas! Pangburn
Cover Art by Borges

Release Date: April 24, 2024

Original Solicitation:

DICK TRACY RETURNS IN A NEW ONGOING COMIC BOOK SERIES FROM MAD CAVE!

A new era for the iconic detective starts here, from bestselling and acclaimed authors Alex Segura and Michael Moreci, as an all-new, noir-infused chapter in the Dick Tracy legacy kicks off with superstar artist Geraldo Borges.
In the aftermath of World War II, the country stands frozen–waiting for the next shoe to drop. In The City, a brutal murder draws the attention of rising star detective Dick Tracy, who soon discovers the bloodshed is just the beginning of a complicated web that threatens to ensnare everything he cares about.

Blending the classic elements of the Dick Tracy world (including his iconic villains, supporting cast, and unforgettable watch radio) with a hardboiled and realistic take, DICK TRACY #1 kicks off a fresh and modern take on the iconic detective that remains true to his rich history.

PCS Review:

One of the world’s most famous gumshoes returns to comics for the first time in six years and we are excited for it. As creative consultant Chantelle Osman stated, “This is not your grandfather’s Dick Tracy,” but that is ok with me.

The discerning eye can tell just how hard everyone involved in this project has worked to get this right, and it feels like they pulled it off. The story has a terrific pacing with short two or three page scenes that are jam packed with pertinent action. Geraldo Borges art is stunning. It feels like what should happen if you adapted Chester Gould’s original character into a 2020’s style comic book. Special recognition should be given to Jim Campbell. His lettering in this book is a masterclass in how to control the voice of a comic book.

The book is a high quality hard boiled detective story with all the earmarks that have made Dick Tracy a household name for nearly a century. We are looking forward to more and hope it maintains the high bar that issue #1 has set.


Sherlock Holmes and the Empire Builders: The Gene Genie, Vol. 1
Tripwire Comics Presents
Written by Joel Meadows
Art by Andy Bennett
Letters by Bennett
Editor Jeff Mariotte
Cover Art by Mark Chiarello

Release Date: March 6, 2024

Original Solicitation:

Tripwire launches its Tripwire Comics Presents imprint with the first volume of its Sherlock Holmes and The Empire Builders The Gene Genie graphic novel under two exclusive covers. Sherlock Holmes and The Empire Builders is an epic alternate world sci fi adventure featuring The World’s Greatest Detective as people have never seen him before.

When Watson leaves Holmes to help Crick unravel the DNA helix and finds himself in the employ of England’s most evil man, Holmes is forced to team up with an unlikely group to defeat this monstrous figure and return England to its status quo.

As well as a 64 page full-length comic story, Sherlock Holmes and The Empire Builders The Gene Genie Volume One will also include an 8 page colour section featuring art by the likes of Liam Sharp, Bill Sienkiewicz, Shawn Martinbrough and Barry Kitson and interviews with the series creators as well as character sketches by Bennett and script pages by the writer.

PCS Review:

This graphic novella is definitely a fun read. Joel Meadows has crafted a very interesting story and Andy Bennett delivers a compelling visual narrative in this book. The story brings a retired Sherlock Holmes back into the game and has much of the feel of classic Holmes mystery.

This first volume brings the reader through a coincidental series of events that result in a massive plot twist. We don’t want to share too much of the plot, but it is really well thought-out and executed. Meadows use of dialogue and pacing are impressive, and Bennett’s page layout and panel structures are top notch. We certainly enjoyed this story and look forward to what unfolds in Volume Two of this series.


Also, we interviewed writer Joel Meadows about this book last year, you can check out that interview here.

With Further Ado #288: Brit Brilliance – Hope and Holmes

With Further Ado #288: Brit Brilliance – Hope and Holmes

Andrew Sumner of Titan Books just zoomed into one of my Ithaca College classes, as he frequently does. Andrew is one of those guys who gets students to open their eyes that much wider – and imagine new possibilities. And like so many Brits, he does it in a way that’s fun and engaging from start to finish.

I was reflecting on a couple of other British efforts I’ve recently been enthralled with and wanted to shine the spotlight on them too.

Hope

Jimmy Broxton is a brilliant British comics artist, who, like many comic characters, uses a secret identity. (Fancy people call it a pseudonym.) There’s nothing with that. I’ve enjoyed his work on projects like Goldtiger and Vampirella, but I worry I miss much of his UK focused work. Continue reading “With Further Ado #288: Brit Brilliance – Hope and Holmes”

With Further Ado #281: Evangeline and Back Issue Magazine

With Further Ado #281: Evangeline and Back Issue Magazine

Back Issue Magazine #149 focuses on “80s Indie Heroes”. There’s a wonderful interview with Don Simpson focusing on Megaton Man (and more), Jarrod Buttery has a fantastic article on an old favorite, Aztec Ace, and there’s so much from outstanding creators like Steven Grant, Doug Moench, Chris Warner -and more.

For this issue, I contributed an article on Evangeline. It was a fascinating 80s series about, in essence, a nun with a gun. It was engaging, fresh, and then it was gone. Here’s an excerpt from my article: Continue reading “With Further Ado #281: Evangeline and Back Issue Magazine”

With Further Ado #279: Torn from the Headlines – Trucks and Heat Vision

With Further Ado #279: Torn from the Headlines – Trucks and Heat Vision

Phoebe Wall Howard has another in-depth analysis of the automotive industry in the Detroit Free Press. She is discussing the long-lived dominance of Ford F-Series trucks. They are best-selling trucks for the forty-second year in a row.

She used pop culture as a way to reinforce many of the key accomplishments:

The year 1977, the year “Star Wars” was released, marked the beginning of dominance as the best-selling truck. Ford sold 818,580 F-Series pickups. From then to November 2023, Ford has sold 32,249,288 F-Series trucks, said Erich Merkle, Ford U.S. sales analyst

This accomplished reporter reached out to several pop culture “experts” (like me) and I chimed in with a Batman comparison.

Meanwhile, Edward Catto, a business professor at Ithaca College in New York specializing in pop culture, compared Ford trucks to an iconic DC comic series.
“The Ford F-Series is like a pop culture automotive version of Batman,” he said. “Like the Caped Crusader, these trucks change through the years, but always with a unique ability to both reflect the times and yet still be true to the brand’s own core essence.”

The Detroit Free Press even emphasized my thoughts with Motor City Comic Con photo from last month (credited to Eric Seals).

You can read the entire article here.

Heat Vision on Birds Of Prey

One more quick one for you. In this week’s Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision, Borys Kits published a “Best of Comics Hot List” and included DC’s Birds of Prey.

Birds of Prey, in its various incarnations, was always a favorite comic of mine. Thinking back, I especially enjoyed the issues with Jackson Guice and Phil Noto artwork.

I did not enjoy either of the onscreen adaptions of this property. The TV show was underwhelming (although we did a great Joe Jusko painting out of it). I am sad to admit I walked out of recent theatrical version. And I seldom walk out movies- especially when there’s still popcorn to be eaten!

But I had picked up issue #2 of Birds of Prey this fall, and set it aside until I purchased the first issue. Then I also bought issue #4. I finally just read them on Boxing Day, along with a stack of other neglected comics.

Wow! I was blown away. This series is fun and clever and respectful to the characters so long-time readers (like me) feel right at home. Kelly Thompson’s writing is clever (her Harley Quinn is a riot). Leonardo Thompson’s art is solid and cleverly orchestrated, with a sturdiness evocative of Dave Gibbons or Los Bros Hernandez.

Jordie Bellaire makes it all sing, turning the volume up to 11 with a non-traditional palette and subtle coloring tactics. There are risks being taking and big points being put on the scoreboard every stinking page.

It’s no wonder this series was singled out in The Hollywood Reporter. Can’t wait for the next issue!

Preview Reviews for the Week of 12/20/23 – Animal Pound #1 & Project: Cryptid #4

Preview Reviews for the Week of 12/20/23 – Animal Pound #1 & Project: Cryptid #4

This is the final installment of Preview Reviews for the year.

This week we have a two books to review for you, including one of our most anticipated New Number Ones of the week. These books are both great examples of the high quality comic storytelling that we look for and have been continuously finding in comics in 2023. We have Animal Pound #1 from Boom! Studios and Project: Cryptid #4 from Ahoy Comics.

You can find these books at your LCS or wherever you buy books today December 20, 2023.

Also the rest of the #NewNumberOnes for the week are here.


Animal Pound #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Tom King
Art by Peter Gross
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover Art by Gross & Bonvillain

Original Solicitation:

When animals grow tired of being caged, killed, and sold off-it’s only a matter of time before they’ve had enough…

When an uprising puts a pound in control of the animals, they quickly find themselves as comrades, united against everything that walks on two legs.

But with this newfound power comes a sudden challenge: how best to lay the groundwork for this new democracy as they write their first constitution!

Discover an epic graphic storytelling event from celebrated New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-winning writer Tom King  and New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-nominated artist Peter Gross. Continue reading “Preview Reviews for the Week of 12/20/23 – Animal Pound #1 & Project: Cryptid #4”

With Further Ado #275: 2023 Holiday Gift Giving Guide – Part 2

With Further Ado #275: 2023 Holiday Gift Giving Guide – Part 2

Ed is back with part two of this years gift giving guide. Check out these three awesome recommendations.

Scary Stuff!

Macabras The Horror Comic Art of Jayme Cortez
by Fabio Moraes with an introduction by Paul Gravett
Publisher ‏ : Korero
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
ISBN ‏ : ‎ 781912740215

UK Publisher Korero continues to publish fantastic books that I love reading and I must find spots for on my bookshelves.

Before I cracked open Macabras, I didn’t know much about Portuguese-born artist Jayme Cortez. He spent his career in Brazil creating comics, cartoons and comics strips for newspapers and magazines, including O Terror Negro (The Black Terror). I’m glad a I know a bit now, and want to learn more.

The book is creepy in all the right ways. It showcases Cortez’s talents across different media – his painting, his illustrations, his comic work and more. Cortez was also able to employ a few different styles in each media too. To the eyes of an American like me – all the subjects seem hauntingly familiar but skewed just enough so they are fresh and new.

A nice addition to the book provided by author Moraes is the many original reference model photos that Cortez took for his paintings. They provide a rare look into the development process. And you can’t help but think, when you see a vintage photo with a woman about to be impaled by a wooden stake or some such – “What in the world was that model thinking about back then?”

For pop culture fans, I think it’s always important to expand our horizons and see what’s going on, or went on, in other parts of the world. And embracing oneself in Brazilian Horror comics, with a master like Moraes, seems like the perfect thing to do this Yuletide Season by gifting it to yourself. Continue reading “With Further Ado #275: 2023 Holiday Gift Giving Guide – Part 2”