Comic of the Week: B.P.R.D. Devil You Know #15 is the end of an epic

By d. emerson eddy — Hellboy celebrated its 25th anniversary just last month. Honouring the plucky little creation of Mike Mignola that began in 1994 featuring a red demon with a funny hand, a pyrokinetic, and a fish guy in a bad disguise searching out frog monsters and a Russian madman. That initial series, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, planted a figurative seed in the imagination of the world and it would bloom into a multimedia juggernaut. Bearing fruit in the form of Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder, Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien, and others, as well as…

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Comic of the Week: Invaders #4 and Namor’s secret history

By d. emerson eddy — Since his surprise heel turn in the most recent volume of The Avengers, Namor has been a difficult character to pin down. This has been true of his motivations and actions lately through the stories in that series, as well as in the Defenders: The Best Defense crossover, and here in the new Invaders series, too. His erratic mood swings, as he went back and forth seemingly indiscriminately between hero and villain, were once explained by an “oxygen imbalance” in his blood, but we were told earlier in this series that this isn't the case now. With all that in mind, this issue begins to explain Namor's hidden history and how it might feed into why…

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Comic of the Week: Jim Henson's The Storyteller - Sirens #1

By d. emerson eddy — Jakub Rebelka is one of BOOM Studios! secret weapons. Like Dan Mora, he's an artist that always turns in interesting, captivating, and beautiful artwork for the company, deeply enriching whichever project that he's working on with his unique character compositions and approach to color. His shapes, lines, and the appearance of almost a mix….

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Comic of the Week: Martian Manhunter #4

By d. emerson eddy — I often spotlight a comic starting a new arc, launching with a new #1 issue, standing alone as a contained story, or ranking as the finale of  a series. I do this because it's easy to talk about a jumping on point or a finished arc as a whole. It gives you a good amount of material to write about in order to entice readers into the world that the creators are building. It's not as easy to pick …

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Comic of the Week: Dungeons and Dragons - A Darkened Wish #1, another excellent comic based on the RPG

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1 is out now.

By d. emerson eddy — For some time now IDW has been producing entertaining Dungeons & Dragons comics, with some of the most recent stories following an adventuring party made-up of many pre existing characters from the video games. These books have been largely written by Jim Zub, and the most recent was a hilarious and fitting crossover with Rick and Morty. This new mini-series promises new characters and a new beginning on the Sword Coast of Faern. I suppose it's fitting to set it within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, since there's a lot of world-building already accomplished, allowing the creators a lot of toys and rules to play with, including some new favorites like kenku, a race of crow-like avians that can mimic the sounds of others.

After starting in the middle of a chaotic battle, B. Dave Walters, Tess Fowler, Jay Fotos, and Tom B. Long flashback to introduce us to a group of adventurers through the point of view of a young wizard, Helene, and her friends as they leave their hometown for the promise of adventure with the White Sails mercenary company. We get some interesting characters in the twins, Karrin and Kerrin, the kenku, Solivigant, and the mysterious dragonborn, Rayonde. Through misadventure following a trip to a tavern, we definitely get the impression that Helene and her friends, new and old, are a bit out of their depth, but still capable at this early stage. Contrasting the formation of the party versus the battle in the present is compelling, hooking us well into trying to figure out what's going on and what happened to move the characters to this point. It's a great set-up for the story and characters, also giving that anticipation for what happens next that you often tend to feel when playing D&D.

What elevates the story even further is the gorgeous artwork from Tess Fowler and Jay Fotos. Fowler is a master of fantasy art, from her work on Rat Queens through to her artwork featuring the characters from Critical Role. She expertly captures and presents unique and captivating designs for human and non-human fantasy characters, giving an immense level of detail when it comes to populating and filling this fantasy world. Just the opening splash page alone gives us a breadth of different and unique attacking forces of Morayans and it only gets more fascinating from there as we're guided through our main cast and finally getting to Mintarn.

Jay Fotos enhances the line art with a rich colorful palette, well-fitting the fantasy setting, with some very nice effects when it comes to depicting magic. The action scenes, in particular, like the opening battle and an early fight with a pack of wolves, show a very nice variety to how Fowler and Fotos are working together to create some visually interesting sequences. Tom B. Long also nicely embellishes the story with some banner-like headers for sequence starts that adds to the feel of the fantasy world.

Overall, I've been impressed with this first issue from Walters, Fowler, Fotos, and Long. It has some richly developed characters and an intriguing hook to see what happens to the party, all with some beautiful artwork.

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1
B. Dave Walters
Artist: Tess Fowler
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Publisher: IDW
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Comic of the Week: The Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1

By d. emerson eddy — Since Valiant Entertainment was acquired fully by DMG last year, the comics have been undergoing a bit of a change. Movement, change, and progress had been one of the themes that outgoing Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons instilled in the publisher since it began operation in 2012, but there's been a bit of uncertainty with Valiant's future direction as editorial has switched about. This current “Breakthrough” initiative appears to be a melting pot of old and new ideas. Outside of Punk Mambo, the series seem to be taking the next steps in a number of ongoing narratives, like Ninjak's story in Killers, the future of 4002 AD in Fallen World, and Toyo Harada's next stage of trying to save the world from itself in this series, The Life and Death of Toyo Harada.

After guiding us through the spark of creation in the universe and a tour of some of Toyo Harada's history from birth through his genesis as a psiot, Joshua Dysart picks up on threads from Imperium and X-O Manowar, as if there's not been a missed beat in the past almost three years. The explosion of cast members, motivations, and such may seem a bit overwhelming to new readers, but, personally, I think it adds a bit of a feeling of chaos and confusion that helps add atmosphere to the story. I've read those previous stories, and though they do give more context to who the characters are, what Harada's motivation has been, and why exactly that debris ring is out there, it doesn't necessarily inform anything for the story that isn't present here in this script. Everything you really need to enjoy it is already here. Toyo Harada sees himself largely as a savior of mankind, who will do anything to essentially save it from itself, redistributing knowledge and power to ensure equality and survival, and those ideas are fascinating.

The story is beautifully brought to life by Mico Suayan, Cafu, and Andrew Dalhouse, with Suayan handling the flashbacks, Cafu the modern sequences, and Dalhouse providing colors atop. The opening spread of creation, from darkness to the spark of light and formation of stars and galaxies is breathtaking. The beauty of the artwork helps ground us through the existential narration. And adds an extra layer of horror when we see Hiroshima at ground level.

Overall, The Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1 gives us a bit more insight into one of Valiant's major players, raising an important question of what kind of monster do you possibly have to become in order to save mankind and what kind of monster you would have to be in order to stop him. It's an interesting moral quandary that Dysart, Cafu, Suayan, Dalhouse, and Sharpe set us down the road toward.

The Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1
Joshua Dysart
Artists: Cafu & Mico Suayan
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant
Price: $4.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Comic of the Week: Meet the Skrulls #1

Meet the Skrulls #1 is out as of 3/6/2019.

By d. emerson emmy — I'm a sucker for spy infiltration thrillers. I love the feeling of an unexpected reveal of a character right under your nose being something other than what was shown previously. When you find out that the character than you loved is really working for the bad guys. Meet the Skrulls isn't exactly that, we already know that they're infiltrators. We're let in on the secret from the onset, much more like The Americans, which is kind of how this has been marketed to us, but this first issue still works well as the set-up for a spy thriller.

Across the backdrop of a program, Project Blossom, being implemented that is designed to ferret out and identify Skrulls across the globe, Robbie Thompson, Niko Henrichon, Laurent Grossat, and Travis Lanham introduce us to the Warners, a family of Skrulls infiltrating different levels of society in order to perpetuate their survival. Although they're definitely a foreign invading force, I think it's interesting that their approach isn't necessarily an unsympathetic one. Due to the defeat in Secret Invasion and beyond, there seems to have been a collapse in Skrull society. They're less trying to take over and more fighting for survival.

Don't get me wrong, though, they're still thoroughly evil. As the Elders point out that one member of the family is giving them concerns and require her to be dealt with, adding another complication on top of the family's regular mission, but Thompson does a great job of building these characters and making us at least sympathize for their situation. And the actions through their individual missions are quite compelling.

Henrichon, with color assists from Grossat, bring the story to life nicely. I'd probably buy just about anything Henrichon is illustrating, his work is always beautiful, but he seems particularly suited to this mix of real life espionage and the absurdity of shapeshifters. Combined with a rich colour palette, the artwork works well to make you feel comfortable in reality, but still off-putting enough with the reveal of the Skrulls themselves that you always feel like something is not quite right. That uneasiness, almost like the sensation of uncanny valley, just elevates the overall feel and tone of the story.

Also enhancing the overall feel for the story is the lettering from Lanham. There's a nice variety of word balloon and narration box styles and fonts, from the creepy singing of the agent murdering Skrulls to the shaky differently coloured balloons of the Skrulls in their own form, that adds to the experience. I really quite like the approach to the Skrull balloons because it subconsciously reinforces their ability to change shape and the idea that they're alien.

Overall, this is an excellent debut. Thompson, Henrichon, Grossat, and Lanham deliver an opening chapter into this thriller that effectively presents an interesting core cast of characters in the family, sets up their own individual foibles and missions, and provides a broader context for their mission that acts well as a hook to see what happens next.

Meet the Skrulls #1
Robbie Thompson
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Color Assistant: Laurent Grossat
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Comic of the Week: KINO #14 is ‘a shining star for the Catalyst Prime line’

Catalyst Prime: Kino #14 is out 2/27/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — KINO began its life in the Catalyst Prime universe under Joe Casey, Jefte Palo, Todd Klein, and Chris Sotomayor. It was always something unique, a series ostensibly about Alistair Meath, one of the astronauts caught in space in the “Event” that sparked this rise of super-powered individuals within a new shared universe. It spent its time split between an espionage story of trying to find Meath's body and in a simulation patterned after old school comics superheroics that was trying to influence Meath's mind and outlook on life. It was very good, something different that played with comics conventions and told a nicely layered story. I highly recommend checking out those first two collections.

Then Alex Paknadel, Diego Galindo, Adam Guzowski, and Jim Campbell came along and turned the series on its ear with issue #10. Basically that issue gave us an “Anatomy Lesson”, guiding us through the implication that everything we knew was wrong, upending Meath's life, and pointing us in an entirely different direction.

Often times I find that this sort of thing doesn't work in the long term, since it tends to alienate the hardcore fans and generally once the initial shock has worn off, the change becomes somewhat boring. That hasn't even been remotely the case here, as the revelations and integration with what came before just get more interesting. It's more that this entire arc has been the true “Anatomy Lesson” and not just that first issue of the new creative team's run. Because Paknadel, Galindo, Guzowski, and Campbell have taken the elements of espionage, political oversight, not knowing what's reality and what's a simulation, and the simulation itself and continued to develop the situation of two Meaths to a very satisfying conclusion. While we were led to believe that everything was wrong to begin with, maybe it wasn't?

This final issue of the story arc is a fairly bombastic fight between the two Meaths, but one of the things that Paknadel has been weaving into the story from the beginning is manipulation. That still comes through in the explanation for what happened and the “true” Meath's victory and plans going forward, leaving a compelling thread to see where this goes in name of queen and country.

The artwork from Galindo and Guzowski is wonderful, stepping up to the task of presenting this final battle on two fronts; the normal ordinary London and one of brightly coloured vintage comics. Jim Campbell, too, deftly changes approach to lettering during these shifts to the superhero simulation, adding in thought balloons and a more visceral, scratchy approach to sound effects. I love the attention to detail that goes into the presentation of the old school comics style, immersing the reader in that world to great effect.

Overall, KINO has been a shining star for the Catalyst Prime line and Paknadel, Galindo, Guzowski, and Campbell continue to make it glow. It's a very unique take on the spy thriller by way of the superhero, revelling in the style and substance of vintage superhero comics, while telling a thoroughly modern interpretation, rife with suspicion, confusion, and shades of grey. Everything may not always be as it seems in this comic, but what is unquestionable is that this story is well worth your time.

KINO #14
Alex Paknadel
Artist: Diego Galindo
Colourist: Adam Guzowski
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Lion Forge / Catalyst Prime
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Comic of the Week: Hot Lunch Special #5

Hot Lunch Special #5 is out 2/20/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — I can say unequivocally that Hot Lunch Special is not only one of the best crime comics of 2018/2019, it's also one of the best comics of the same time…period. I'd argue even further beyond that that it's quite possibly one of the best things that I've read this decade. All in a tidy little family crime drama from Eliot Rahal, Jorge Fornés, and Taylor Esposito.

There are the obvious comparisons to Fargo (or really any Coen Brothers movie) in its offbeat approach to storytelling and crime, taking an angle through the food service industry as a front for the illicit business. Yet the crime procedural aspect wasn't really at the forefront, it was more about the family, the Khourys, trying to get revenge for the murder of their youngest in an intimidation attempt gone wrong. It was about the family trying to deal with the loss of someone they held dear as they try to put the pieces back together of a fractured, strained relationship between the siblings and their father.

This final issue launches the ultimate plan for the Khourys revenge on Big Jim Moran for killing Ben. And it's pretty simple, but that simplicity is part of what makes it work. A simple plan, a simple plot, but from it it allows Eliot Rahal to focus still on the characters, making them interesting and unique, even new ones like Pat, all while building them up through dialogue. Then prime the detonator.

That detonator being a part of the plot, but also coming through Jorge Fornés, whose artwork for this series has been incendiary. Fornés has a style that's not dissimilar to David Mazzucchelli with a hint of Steve Lieber, wonderful use of shadow amid a simple thin lined approach, and it works incredibly well for crime comics. Add to that some inventive use of page layouts and panel compositions in ways that can really only be done in comics and it results in a story that also celebrates what you can do in the medium.

Since dialogue is often a very important part of crime drama and family drama, there is a lot of it in this story. It never feels forced or wordy, but it does mean that Taylor Esposito has a gargantuan task ahead of him to make it flow and not feel cramped or overly imposing on each page with his lettering. Working well with Fornés to ensure that the words and pictures aren't competing.

Overall, this has been a wonderful series. It's been an entertaining, offbeat story with some interesting characters and a family that you want to see succeed, even with their shortcomings and hang-ups. Rahal, Fornés, and Esposito wove a good yarn here and I hope that the hint of something more at the end of this story comes true.

Hot Lunch Special #5
Eliot Rahal
Artist: Jorge Fornés
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Comic of the Week: Thor #10 is a masterful look at fathers, sons, and toxic masculinity

Thor #10 is out 2/13/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — For more than six years now, Jason Aaron has been building an epic with Thor Odinson, weaving through god butchery, war with the Shi'ar, strife and upheaval throughout the realms, unworthiness, and flaming wolverines, collaborating with some of the best artists in the business. That list includes Esad Ribic, Russell Dauterman, Steve Epting, Frazer Irving, Christian Ward, and now Mike del Mundo. It has been a wild ride of ups and downs, victories and losses, all working towards the inevitable War of the Realms.

As this series has been counting down to the event, we've been getting one off tales taking stock of where the characters are, how they've been doing, and giving hints as to their preparedness for the oncoming war. This issue does so with Odin, who has essentially become a shell of himself, a drunkard and broken man sitting in the ruined halls of Asgard. This is an exterior state that mirrors his internal conflict. But this issue isn't necessarily a tale of woe and self-pity—though there is a measure of it in Aaron's internal narration for Odin—rather one of “tough love” from an overbearing parent.

A brief, one-page encapsulation of Thor-Odin’s complicated relationship over time.

This fractured father/son dynamic between Odin and Thor has a universal aspect to it of children brought up in homes where we were taught the rigors of what could be considered toxic masculinity, where men are stoic providers for the household, never showing the “weakness” of emotion. This is conveyed here via the juxtaposition of Odin's boorish actions, mocking Thor for crying as a child at thunder, while the narration has Odin searching for how he can simply tell Thor that he loves him, that he's proud of him, but he struggles.

It's heart-rending, but beautifully brought to life in the fluid and action-filled style of Mike del Mundo (along with additional colors from Marco D'Alfonso), who really seems to excel with the inebriated battle sequences between Odin and Thor. The almost shimmering liquidity of del Mundo's regular characters adds a kind of immersive feel to Odin, as though the audience is as well suffering from the effects of his drunkenness. Also, Thor #10 features some very nice page layouts particularly during Odin's visions. And Joe Sabino provides some interesting word balloon changes for the frost giants and Odin's narration boxes.

Overall, much of this volume of Thor has been a kind of heavy metal whirlwind through the Ten Realms and beyond as Thor Odinson returns into the series' focus. Here, we still get that in Thor vs. Odin, but Jason Aaron, Mike del Mundo, Marco D'Alfonso, and Joe Sabino go beyond in providing a familial aspect that may be all too familiar to many readers.

Thor #10
Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike del Mundo
Colorists: Mike del Mundo & Marco D'Alfonso
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter