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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August 2018 New Comic Discoveries: Long Lost, Warlords of Appalachia, and Mashbone & Grifty

By Zack Quaintance — I’ve had a pretty broad experience with America in my life. I was born and raised outside Chicago; I went to college in rural Southern Illinois; after college I lived in Texas on the U.S.-Mexico Border; after that I lived in the hip enclave of Austin; and recently I moved to Sacramento, an odd hybrid of the San Francisco Bay Area and California's agriculture-heavy Central Valley, an obscure city where America’s culture wars often collide.

And all of this is relevant to comics how? Well, it connects to the books in this month’s New Comics Discoveries, which as always are comics I’ve read after having them recommended to me a billion times. This month's selections give us a broad vision of modern America, too, using a range of genres—from dystopian sci-fi warfare to subtle horror to jokey over-the-top detective adventure—to take closer looks at different parts of America, at Appalachia or withering towns abandoned by their youth or neighborhoods called Little Mexico.   

These are all books that when taken together speak to the diversity of the American experience today, so excellently reflected through comics. These stories all have something uniquely 2018 to say, and I highly recommend seeking them out and reading them.

With all that in mind, let’s get to it now: August 2018 New Comic Discoveries!

Long Lost Vol. 1 by Matthew Erman & Lisa Sterle

This haunting book from Scout Comics is bold, complex, experimental, and abstract in a way mainstream books are often afraid to be. Long Lost is a story I will pass to friends who generally prefer literary fiction to sequential graphic storytelling. Basically, this is an incredibly smart comic with a deep tonal range that spans everything from sheer terror, to the malaise of routine, to the way we justify to ourselves (and others) the challenges life has dealt us...the way we grapple the past into being okay rather than actually dealing with root causes of deep-seeded pains and dysfunctions.

Lisa Sterle’s art in Long Lost is fittingly subdued and minimalistic, saving its greatest flourishes for moments that accentuate either horror or the role of setting in the story. Matthew Erman’s writing, meanwhile, is poignant and rich with poetic narration. Its dialogue is also telling without feeling forced. I jotted a number of favorite lines (some are listed below), because the prose on the pages kept demanding it. Ditto for screenshotting favorite panels.

There’s just something Lynchian at work in how this story withholds orienting information and accentuates the horrors of the mundane. Yet, there’s never a full dive made into bleakness or cynicism. A main conceit of Long Lost is revisiting the past, which in part means having our protagonists return to the forgotten rural town where they grew up. That kind of narrative can definitely lend itself to pessimism, but Long Lost never tips that way. The relationship between the two central sisters gives it way too much heart, making for a complex and haunting book that is equally human and relatable.

Some favorite lines:

  • Mom has been “missing” since we were kids. It’s only now that she has finally disappeared like everyone I know.

  • I see Hazel Patch like...you would see snakes gathered in overgrowth, maybe sleeping beneath blackberry bushes. And also, This was it though. This was Hazel Patch, in all its glory. Barely here, existing for no other reason than pure stubborness. An aimless void where people never leave because there is no where else to be except here. Nowhere.

  • I’ve had this foggy thing going on in my head, been like that for about a year now—I dunno. And I broke my arm learning to juggle.

  • Yesterday I woke up in a place I thought I knew but...it’s gone. The world is different. Everything has changed and all I feel is dread.

  • I dunno...I kind of loved this place growing up...or maybe I didn’t. It’s been so long I can’t seem to remember.

Warlords of Appalachia Vol. 1 by Phillip K. Johnson, Jonas Scharf, Doug Garbark, & Jim Campbell

Warlords of Appalachia imagines our current political years from now, taking it to vast and bleak extremes by depicting a situation in which Kentucky is a war-torn Chechnya-esque territory that the rest of the world leans on the U.S. government to leave alone. This is, without question, a prescient comic about individualism, about the power of religion as a motivator to justify drastic action or fighting in times of great poverty, and about the dangers of substituting macho cult personality for an actual leader with courage and integrity.

In terms of its DNA, this is a war comic, and the action sequences written by Phillip K. Johnson and drawn by Jonas Scharf are clear and intense, very well-done. Yet, that’s not really what makes this such a compelling comic. This is a good comic because of the ideology that surrounds the combat, the reasons the people fight, be it because they’re career soldiers, religious zealots, or members of fedup and oppressed communities.

This is also the type of comic that both sides of our very real raging ideological war could read and relate to heavily, which I think is likely also part of the point...not that this story is making the flawed argument that our current politics have two equal sides, but to remind us that once any political stance is corrupted enough, the end goals of those who are doing the corrupting start to look the same. I’ve only read the first volume of this book, but I heavily suspects that's where this story is heading.

Mashbone and Grifty #1 by Oscar Garza & Rolando Esquivel

Mashbone and Grifty from 5 Meats Comics was such a nice palate cleanser after the much heavier fare in the first two titles, but it’s still a great comic with a unique (and often hilarious) perspective. First about the funny: this is one of those comics that packs in visual and dialogue gags at a rapid clip, reminding of the work of my favorite funny-man in comics, Kyle Starks (whose Rock Candy Mountain was a previous New Discovery). To give you a sense of what to expect, this first issue is about a man who approaches our heroes because someone has stolen his cock (rooster) named Mango.

This book is super funny and also steeped in a Mexican-American perspective. At one point, a character asks why he has to do the dangerous undercover work in Little Mexico, and after another character tells him it’s because he’s Mexican...everyone goes silent and someone mumbles something about being uncomfortable. There’s also a funny interlude with a handy el dandy Spanish Glossary, plus a quick clip from Mashbone’s favorite movie, which uses an Indiana Jones type character (Dakota Dan) for a quick satire about immigration.

In other words, Mashbone and Grifty is a funny book with something unique to say, and if it makes you uncomfortable—good, because this comic is telling a ton of jokes-per-minute even if some of those jokes make you flinch.  

Click here to check out Mashbone and Grifty.

See all our past months of new discoveries here. And check back to the site next week for our Best Debut Comics of August 2018 as well as our Top Comics of August 2018, too.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

REVIEW: Black Badge #1 by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins, Hilary Jenkins, & Jim Campbell

Black Badge #1 is a polished and confident debut from the same team behind Grass Kings.

By Zack Quaintance — Black Badge #1 is writer Matt Kindt and artist Tyler Jenkins follow up to Grass Kings, and, at first glance, it seems to be a gentler story, one about a group of scouts on a special trip to faraway South Korea. Like its predecessor (and like most comics, really), however, there is also a darker complexity at work here.

There are a few layers to this book. There’s the premise: our heroes are part of an elite troop of boy scouts that the U.S. government sends on covert missions, kind of like green berets with a deceptive and innocent veneer. There’s the thematic interests: merit badges here seem to be standing in for ornamental and ultimately meaningless life achievements, things we convince ourselves we must obtain because we’re told that’s what we should want. And there’s an examination of what it means to be the good scout, or in this case, soldier.

Black Badges #1 is very much a straightforward and well-done introduction to this story. It’s an engaging read, a polished #1 comic that never stumbles by over-explaining who are heroes are, which does the double work here of leaving room for the creators to later build in secrets. We get a four panel grid in which a bully underestimates each of them, saying things like, You brought everything you need? Your tedd bear in there? And, Willy. Dude. you need to lay off the scout snacks. Typical bully snark that shows us how our elite team will be both perceived and underestimated.

This excellent four-panel grid does a great job telling us about our protagonists without feeling like an info dump.

This first issue is well-told, an effective and entertaining means of learning who are heroes are, what they do, and, in part, why they do it. It works well as a hook, although the exact direction of the plot is still fuzzy. There definitely seems to be an exploration of morality in the offing, one that might use the age of the characters to explore idealism as well as the way children are often treated as invisible non-actors (our team’s secret weapon). Previews of future issues also hint at the book taking a look at foreign policy, and they've definitely set up a great lens to do just that. I certainly trust Kindt and Jenkins too, especially after the success they had with Grass Kings, which had a less engaging premise, at least on its surface.

Overall: Black Badge #1 seems to be the start of another great series by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins. This first issue has all the exposition we need plus some intriguing hints into its thematic interests, yet it never feels like an info dump. This is a confident and polished debut issue, one that hints at big things in store. 8.0/10

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Top Comic Book Previews for the Week of July 30

By Zack Quaintance — Our previews feature is back after a week hiatus during our trip to San Diego. Last week we did, however, roundup our picks for SDCC 2018’s 10 Coolest Comics Announcements...so check that out if you haven’t already.

Anyway, no use in belaboring it...on to the previews!

*Preview of the Week*
The Sons of El Topo Volume One: Cain OGN
Writer: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Artist: José Ladrönn
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: December 2018
This is a hardcover original graphic novel from legendary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (Dune) and virtuosic illustrator José Ladrönn (Incredible Hulk) that continues the 1970 Mexican Acid Western film written, scored, directed by and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky himself. This sequel, arriving in stores December 2018, tells the story of El Topo—a bandit without limits and a man with no moral compass. But when his journey through the arid west brought him face to face with a series of rogue outcasts, he found enlightenment in the unlikeliest place and was forever transformed, becoming a holy vessel imbued with the power to perform miracles. This was a journey that took him far from his first born son, Cain, and brought about the birth of Abel.
Our Take: We love Jodorwsky (as much for his films as for his candid appearance in the all-time great art documentary Jodorwsky’s Dune), and while this presumably means an end to any chance of Jodo making a cinematic sequel to the first film, his comics are always imaginative and worthwhile. Oh, and the Ladrönn art is is just stellar.

Blackbird #1
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Jen Bartel
Publisher: Image Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / Oct. 3
An all-new ongoing series from fan-favorite writer SAM HUMPHRIES (Harley Quinn, Nightwing) and red-hot artist JEN BARTEL! In this neo-noir fantasy, Nina Rodriguez is positive that a secret magic world ruled by ruthless cabals is hiding just beneath the veneer of Los Angeles. The problem: everyone thinks she’s crazy. The bigger problem: she’s not crazy—she’s right. Can she unravel the mystery before the Great Beast catches up with her?
Our Take: Oooooo, shiny. Sam Humphries sensibilities and Jen Bartel’s art are such a wonderful fit, and look how nice it is washed over with all that neon. We’re not entirely sure what neo-noir fantasy means, but it looks like we’re in for some big magic fight in hella trendy LA. So, that’s cool.

Bone Parish #2
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / Aug. 29
As a drug made from the ashes of the dead continues to spread across New Orleans, the Winters family is forced to defend their turf from the encroaching drug cartels. But some mysterious deaths could threaten everyone in New Orleans...
Our Take: Cards on the table...we haven’t read Bone Parish #1 just yet, but it was one of those books that half our Twitter feed (roughly) turned out to tell us to read. So, we’re on board with that and we’ll get to it when we have chance, plus also this second issue, too.

Harbinger Wars 2 Aftermath #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Adam Polina
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / Sept. 26
The power's back online and the fighting is over... but who are the real victors of HARBINGER WARS 2, and what was truly lost in the carnage? For those who survived the terrible onslaught - and who must now witness the devastating aftereffects of their actions - will there ever be peace again? As the seismic summer event of 2018 comes to a close, Eisner Award-nominated writer Matt Kindt (X-O MANOWAR, ETERNITY) sorts through the rubble of the most brutal confrontation ever felt in the Valiant Universe - and discover what lies beyond the bloodshed!
Our Take: It’s all in the solicit, isn’t it? Who ARE the real victors? We’ve enjoyed this event quite a bit (more than most Big 2 Events, incidentally), and what kind of savage would read and like an entire event and bail for the aftermath? Not us….not us.

Valiant High #4
Writer: Daniel Kibblesmith
Artist: Derek Charm
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / Aug. 1
Save the last dance! Homecoming is here! For the students of Valiant High - the super-powered preparatory academy where tomorrow's heroes learn what it takes to save the world - that means that the biggest night of their young lives is almost upon them...and that the Immortal Enemy is finally ready to make his move! But as Faith, Colin "Ninjak" King, Peter Stanchek, and Amanda "Livewire" McKee try to stir unity amongst their classmates, can teamwork triumph over ancient evil? From rising star Daniel Kibblesmith (Lockjaw) and Eisner Award winner Derek Charm (Jughead), this side-splitting, all-ages reimagining of Valiant's greatest heroes is going out in style!
Our Take: Save the last dance, indeed! Like the Harbinger Wars 2 event serving as a refreshing alternative to Big 2 events, this 4-part series has been a refreshing proximation of Big 2 fun and irreverent character takes. Kibblesmith is pretty funny guy, both in terms of writing comics and on Twitter, too.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Top Previews for the Week of July 16

By Zack Quaintance — This is an odd week for previews, with publishers and publicists focused on the upcoming San Diego Comic Con, which starts Thursday. News, of course, has begun to leak with the event's schedule and panel announcements, but deliberate releases of interior art (the back bone of this got-danged feature) have been greatly reduced.

But! We have still managed to find five solid choices that are worth including in our weekly roundup, as well as several others that warranted consideration but fell slightly short. This week we have a triple blast from one of this site's favorite indie publishers, Valiant Entertainment, as well as a look at new forthcoming book from another publisher this is quickly rising in the industry, AfterShock Comics.

Oh yes, and we will be in attendance this coming week at San Diego Comic Con...so look for Tweets/maybe even a site update about all of that!

In the meantime, our regular content will continue as scheduled!

*Preview of the Week*
Black Badge #1
Writer: 
Matt Kindt
Artist: Tyler Jenkins
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / Aug. 8, 2018
Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins, the team behind Grass Kings, reunite for a new ongoing series about a top-secret, elite branch of boy scouts tasked by the government to take on covert missions. Among their organization, the Black Badges are the elite; the best of the best. They are feared even by the other badges. The missions they take are dangerous, and they will only get worse as their leader's attention is split between their mission objectives and tracking down a lost team member. A team member who disappeared years ago, presumed dead. A haunting look at foreign policy, culture wars and isolationism through the lens of kids who know they must fix the worlds that adults have broken.
Our Take: Holy cow, we were on board with this as soon as we heard it was the same creative team from the recently-ended book Grass Kings, but a haunting look at foreign policy, culture wards and isolationism through the lens fo kids who know they must fix what adults have broken...? And written by Matt Kindt? This is one of our most hotly-anticipated books of the summer. 

THE LAST SPACE RACE #1
Writer: Peter Calloway
Artist: Alex Shibao
Colorist: Natalia Marques
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / Oct. 09, 2019
It started as an anomaly. An outlier in the noise that’s so common in astronomical data. But the truth sends the United States—and the world—careening into what will become humanity’s LAST SPACE RACE. Leading the effort for the United States is one man, Sasha Balodis. A fun-loving tech billionaire turned aerospace titan, Sasha’s seemingly perfect life has been gripped by recent tragedy. Building and launching the most expensive, most ambitious and most important project in history—well, it gives him something to live for again. There’s only one thing standing in his way: his arch-rival and chief aerospace competitor, Roger Freeman.
Our Take: This book wonders what would happen if an extinction level threat started flying our way through space and the government was unprepared...and then it answers that by suggesting tech billionaires would have to step up. It's a frighteningly real premise, one that is being executed by TV veteran Petter Calloway (Legion, Cloak & Dagger, Under the Dome). Basically, we wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being one of those comics fast-tracked for TV adaptation.

Ninja-K #9
Writer: 
Christos Gage
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / July 18, 2018
It all comes down to this! Ninjak – plus his black-ops backup squad of Livewire, Punk Mambo, Doctor Mirage, and GIN-GR – have been sent into Mexico City to destroy an indestructible target! But their quarry – The Jonin, the Ninja Programme’s seemingly ageless former sensei – has assembled his own strike force of improbable powers to meet them head on! Now, the biggest hero-versus-villain showdown of 2018 is about to reach a fever pitch in the stunning finale to “THE COALITION” from renowned writer Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil) and incendiary artist Juan José Ryp (BRITANNIA)!
Our Take: Ah, compared to the full-on mayhem about to break out in the next issue of Harbinger Wars 2, this book seems like it will be a nice reminder of a simpler time when sometimes Valiant characters got along. Also, we are straight-up there for it any time Juan Jose Ryp draws the Eternal Warrior, or really any Valiant characters, come to think of it...

Quantum and Woody! #8
Writer: 
Eliot Rahal
Artist: Joe Eisma
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / July 18, 2018
Quantum and Woody just barely escaped from a surreal atomic realm…and, unfortunately, they’ve brought some pieces of it back with them! As dangerous new threats plunge their city even deeper into chaos, they’ll soon realize that they have bigger problems and bigger grudges than ever before – now if the brothers are anywhere near one another, their powers stop working! The world’s worst superhero team is going to have to go it alone as “SEPARATION ANXIETY” presents a super-powered stress test, courtesy of rising star Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks) and Eisner Award-nominated artist Joe Eisma (Morning Glories, Archie)!
Our Take: Quantum and Woody! is currently one of our favorite things happening at Valiant, as we've detailed in our reviews of Quantum and Woody! #6 and Quantum and Woody! #7, and now the book comes to a full-stop jumping on point with a great new artist, Joe Eisma. In his first two issues, writer Eliot Rahal has shown he can put these character through a wide-range of ordeals. Now, he seems to be returning them back a bit to their status quo, having expanded what's possible within this book beforehand.

Shadowman #5
Writer: 
Andy Diggle
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / July 18, 2018
As roving gangs ravage the landscape of post-Civil War America, there’s little hope and even fewer chances of escape for those caught in their clutches…except in the shadows! Enter: Marius Boniface – first bearer of the Shadowman loa and Jack Boniface’s own great-great-great grandfather! But as the sun sets, the Shadowman’s coming will lead to more than just a rebellion… Unstuck in time, Jack is about to come face-to-face with the first to bear his curse, and will finally learn the truth about the Shadowman legacy’s connection to his family’s doomed bloodline!
Our Take: Valiant is our favorite underrated publisher, and Shadowman is our favorite underrated character within that underrated publisher. It's all subjective, of course, but damned if that's not how we feel about all of this. Andy Diggle's run on this book has been perfectly morbid and steeped in the occult, and Doug Braithwaite art is always impressive.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at@zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Top Previews for the Week of July 2

By Zack Quaintance — One thing that sets comic book storytelling apart from other mediums is how many of the works, especially in the direct market, are collaborative creations. Unlike prose writing there is a team of contributors in place bringing visions to life, but unlike television or film, teams generally remain small and intimate, leaving voices and motifs intact.

That’s certainly the case with one of the best creator duos in comics: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, whose forthcoming graphic novel My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is our Pick of the Week. There’s a special look and perspective that comes through in their work, sort of a modern noir, gritty yet somehow not oppressively dark or pessimistic (usually).

We’re fans, and so with that in mind let’s start our weekly previews feature by taking a look at their next project!

*Preview of the Week*
My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies OGN
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
More Info: $16.99 / 72 pages / On Sale 10/16/2018
Teenage Ellie has always had romantic ideas about drug addicts, those tragic artistic souls drawn to needles and pills have been an obsession since the death of her junkie mother ten years ago. But when Ellie lands in an upscale rehab clinic where nothing is what it appears to be... she'll find another more dangerous romance, and find out how easily drugs and murder go hand-in-hand.
Our Take: This is the first original graphic novel from the team that brought us incredible books like Criminal, Fatale, Kill or Be Killed, and, my personal favorite, The Fade Out. Brubaker and Phillips are accomplished monthly comic book creators, and it’ll be interesting to see how they do in a format that requires tighter storytelling. We have high hopes.

Archies Superteens vs. Crusaders #2
Writers: Ian Flynn, David Williams, & Gary Martin
Art: Kelsey Shannon, David Williams, Gary Martin, & Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/25/2018
Archie Comics’ two superhero teams THE SUPERTEENS and THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS face off against the evil Dr. Zardox in the conclusion to this epic two-issue crossover event!
Our Take: Make this as big and cheesy as possible please, and we’re there. I mean, the first issue was a goofy good time and a two-part series is super manageable, anyway.

By Night #2
Writer: John Allison
Artist: Christine Larsen
Colorist: Sarah Stern
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/18/2018
After meeting a friendly new face in the alternate dimension they've stumbled upon, Heather (eagerly) and Jane (reluctantly) agree to venture further in. With their trusty camcorder to record what they find and an inhuman new buddy, there's no turning back now!
Our Take: We love John Allison for his blissfully dry, hilarious slice-of-life book Giant Days. The first issue of By Night had a lot more world-building to do than that comic, but the ideas were intriguing and there were moments wherein Giant Days subtle wit shown through. As a result, we have high hopes for this second issue.

Form of a Question OGN
Writer: Andrew J. Rostan
Artist: Kate Kasenow
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $17.99 / 128 pages / On Sale 11/20/2018
This . . . is . . . JEOPARDY! As a young man, Andrew Rostan spent some of his happiest moments watching JEOPARDY! with his grandfather. Early on, he was ready for Daily Doubles and the iconic buzzer. But now at the age of twenty-two, Andrew’s an actual contestant on the show, and realizes that while he may be ready to meet the host Alex Trebek, he’s not prepared for what comes with starring on one of the most beloved game shows in television history. While Andrew is excellent at remembering facts, he’s also able to recall the memories he associates with those facts—memories of deaths in the family and extraordinary people—and recognize a life lived one step removed from the rest of humanity. A life he’s ready to change. Andrew discovers that existence is like JEOPARDY! and all the answers are staring you in the face if only you ask the right questions. For more info, click here!
Our Take: We are fascinated with writers who choose graphic novels as a medium for memoir, and Andrew Rostan examining his appearance on Jeopardy! as a story about how he unexpectedly learned about life...oof, it’s like this thing is being tailored to our nerdy sensibilities.

Harbinger Wars 2 #3
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tomas Giorello
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/25/2018
All hands on deck! Divided but not yet conquered, Livewire and the Harbinger Renegades are making their last stand for the fate of their fellow psiots! Targeted by X-O Manowar and the governmental forces of the H.A.R.D. Corps, the most powerful players behind the cataclysmic conflict that has torn America asunder are about to converge in a violent conflict where the ultimate fate of the Valiant Universe will be decided... And Ninjak and Bloodshot are about to get a crucial new role in the heart of it all!
Our Take: As we wrote in our review of Harbinger Wars 2 #2, the fact that the Valiant Universe is younger is giving this event some major weight compared to its Big 2 counterparts. The third of four installments, this issue stands to feature a major ramping up of action, and we’re so there for it. Everything related to Harbinger Wars 2 has been total fire thus far.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

 

Top Previews for the Week of June 25

By Zack Quaintance — In week two of our new Monday morning previews feature, we’ve decided to keep things indie-centric. For a couple of reasons: 1. Marvel and DC don’t really return our calls; and 2. In general, Big 2 books get plenty of publicity.

With that in mind, this week Batman actually does make an appearance in one of our previews, while the others run the gamut from yet another promising horror book from Cullen Bunn (quickly becoming one of the most prolific horror comic writers of all time) to an interesting book from up-and-coming publisher Scout Comics.

As always, we’ll give you the preview text from the publishers, any provided artwork, and, of course, our take on why it’s exciting.

Let’s do this!

*PREVIEW OF THE WEEK*
Archie Meets Batman '66 #1

Writers: Jeff Parker & Michael Moreci
Artist: Dan Parent
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/18/18
Two iconic comic book characters meet up for the FIRST TIME in this historic crossover mini-series! A battle in Gotham City extends its reach into Riverdale—with Mr. Lodge becoming enemy #1 of the dynamic duo! Now it’s up to Veronica to recruit some help and place a call… to the Batcave! 
Our Take: We grew up watching old re-runs of the Batman (1966) live action show, which were probably on TBS or something, and we also did our fair share of paging through Archie comics while in the grocery checkout line with our parents. Basically, we expect this to be a book that's heavy on nostalgia in the best way, most likely one that also brings some funny. VERY exciting.

Bone Parish #1
Writer:
Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/25/2018
Cullen Bunn (Empty Man, The Unsound) returns to BOOM! Studios with a chilling necromantic horror story! A new drug is sweeping through the streets of New Orleans.one made from the ashes of the dead. Wars are being fought over who will control the supply, while the demand only rises. While the crime families wage war, users begin to experience terrifying visions of the dead coming back to life-through them.
Our Take: Cullen Bunn seemingly won't rest until he's scared every single reader who regularly picks up a comic book. We're still catching up on some of his more recent work (Winnebago Graveyard has some really impressive buzz and is loaded and ready to go on my tablet), but this book looks great, combining zombie horror (very hot right now) with a dystopian drug culture and New Orleans. Very promising.

Patience! Conviction! Revenge!
Writer:
Patrick Kindlon
Artist: Marco Ferrari
Colorist: Patrizia Comino
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 9/19/2018
Disregarded, disrespected and dismissed, Renny has a chip on his shoulder. Once an equal partner in a criminal syndicate that rules Las Vegas, he now finds himself living in a shack in the desert. But the shack has a workshop, and Renny's been busy. It’s time to march his robot army into the neon hell of a cyberpunk Vegas and retake his seat at the table. Or take the wood from the table and build enough caskets for the whole syndicate.
Our Take: This book is billed as an Elmore Leonard novel set in the world of Blade Runner, a concept we can't believe hasn't happened yet. We aren't familiar with the creators, but AfterShock has established itself as a reliable publisher of new and rising talent. We're definitely game to give this one a shot, especially given that the artwork is total fire, reminding us of Daniel Warren Johnson in the best possible way.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1
Writers:
Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
Artist: MJ Erickson
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 07/18/2018
Writing team Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (Deadpool, Death Be Damned) return to The Thrilling Adventure Hour in this new series based on the wildly popular Hollywood stage show and podcast. Frank and Sadie Doyle are the toast of the upper crust. Headliners on the society pages. And they see ghosts. Follow the Doyles on a night when having a drink (or ten) with friends goes horribly, and perhaps predictably, wrong at a haunted house.
Our Take: We like that this book is written by two guys with the same first name and last names that are essentially slight variations on each other. Very stylish. This is also interesting because it's somewhat of a mixed media event: a comic based on a Hollywood stage show and podcast, incarnations of which have involved the likes of Paul F. Tompkins, Nathan Fillion, Linda Carellini and more. It'll be interesting to see how it plays as a comic.

Wulfborne #1
Writer/Artist: 
Brian Middleton Jr.
Publisher: Scout Comics
WULFBORNE is a fantasy adventure about a bitter swordsman who enters the underworld at the behest of an angel who has offered to heal his broken heart. Along the way, he will encounter a myriad of strange travelers, some monstrous and hostile, others intent on turning him back. But if what the legends say is true, the angel of the underworld just might be more dangerous than the monsters that call that place home.
Our Take: Scout Comics is one of an increasing number of publishers in the industry that bears watching (add it to the list with AfterShock, Lion's Forge, and Vault). The concept of this book is super straight forward, but based on the preview art, we could be in for quite a treat when it hits stands sometime in the fall.

 

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Top Previews For the Week of June 18

By Zack Quaintance — In recent weeks, we’ve launched a semi-relentless campaign to be added to as many comic book publisher media lists as possible. Okay, full disclosure, this has been an ongoing campaign for some time. But recently there’s been success! Anyway, thanks to some good folks who do publicity for many of our favorite comic publishers, we’re now regularly getting previews to share with you.

As such, this is the first in a weekly series titled Top New Previews From Last Week, which is exactly what it sounds like. Below you’ll find promotional copy and photos from some of the most exciting previews that came our way last week, along with a lukewarm take, in which we give a brief reaction to the book.

Enjoy!

Archie #32
Writers: Mark Waid & Ian Flynn
Artist: Audrey Mok
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Archie Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/11/18
It all comes down to this! The Riverdale gang—held hostage by Cheryl Blossom's father! Reggie—at last paying for his crimes! And when all is said and done, Riverdale is turned upside down once more!
Our Take: Archie has become one of those books that is so good we take it for granted, dating back to when Mark Waid and Fiona Staples relaunched it back in July 2015. This latest arc has been solid, too. Enjoy guilt free!

Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #1 (of 4)
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Robert Gill
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 7/25/18
The Roman standard – the eagle borne at the front of each Roman legion – was more than just a symbol of the soldiers that carried it…It was a symbol of Rome itself, the ultimate embodiment of the empire’s power…

But now, in the mist-shrouded Germanic forest of Tottenwald, the unthinkable has happened: A rampaging barbarian horde has crushed three of Rome’s most highly skilled detachments in battle…and captured their mighty Roman eagles.

His authority threatened by this all-too-public shame, the mad emperor Nero has dispatched Antonius Axia, the empire’s finest “detectioner” and hero of Britannia, and Achillia, the sword-wielding champion of the gladiatorial arena, to reclaim his stolen relics at any cost.

But what began as a simple mission will soon become a terrifying journey into the dark heart of belief itself as the isolated woodlands of Rome’s enemies reveal unseen dimensions…and the true power of the legion’s lost eagles threatens to consume any who would pursue them…

Our Take: We’ve loved previous volumes of Britannia. The adventures of Valiant’s detectioner are as creepy as they are unpredictable. Some of Milligan’s best work (which is saying a lot), we’re all in for volume three! Also, for new readers these books really do stand on their own nicely.

Giant Days #40
Writer: John Alison
Artist: Max Sarin
Publisher: Boom! Studios
More Info: $3.99 / On Sale 7.4.18
Ed Gemmel returns to Sheffield after a summer spent healing bones and also his heart. Esther does her best to welcome him back, but neither of them have forgotten his drunken confession.
Lukewarm Take: Giant Days has been so good for so long, that’s it’s earning its place among all-time great slice-of-life comics. Powered by John Alison’s brilliant sense of character and dry wit, this book is a regular favorite of ours. Extra points for any issues featuring Ed Gemmel.

Harbinger Wars 2: Aftermath #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Adam Pollina
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 9.26.18
The power’s back online and the fighting is over…but who are the real victors of Harbinger Wars 2, and what was truly lost in the carnage? For those who survived the terrible onslaught – and who must now witness the devastating aftereffects of their actions – will there ever be peace again?
Our Take: Harbinger Wars 2 is shaping up to be the Valiant Universe’s Civil War, and so far we’ve loved every moment of it. This event has done some deep, nuanced work with character motivations that is really paying off. Sign us up for this aftermath one-shot, too.

Moth & Whisper #1
Writer: Ted Anderson
Artist: Jen Hickman
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
More Info: $3.99 / 32 pages / On Sale 9.12.18
Everyone knows that the two greatest thieves in the city are the Moth and the Whisper. Very few know that the Moth and the Whisper disappeared six months ago. And what nobody knows is that the new Moth and Whisper are actually one person pretending to be both of them. One supremely skilled but uncertain young genderfluid thief: Niki, the child of the Moth and the Whisper.

Niki has been trained by their parents in the arts of stealth and infiltration, but they’re still just a teenager, and now they’re alone, searching for their parents in a hostile cyberpunk dystopia. Corporations run the streets while crime lords like Ambrose Wolfe run the alleys—identity is a commodity and privacy is impossible. The truth about Niki’s parents and their disappearance is out there, but can Niki survive long enough to find it?

A Young Adult cyberpunk thriller starring a genderqueer super-thief, Moth & Whisper is the brainchild of Ted Anderson (My Little Pony, Adventure Time) and Jen Hickman (Jem and the Holograms, The Dead), that just HAD to be told at AfterShock!

Our Take: AfterShock Comics has been on some kind of roll lately, with a slew of new books in 2018 that are high on quality and also rich with what’s becoming a trademark AfterShock sensibility—heavy on the thrills with a side of genre, be it science fiction, dark fantasy, or horror. This book has an interesting premise and one hell of a creative team.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.