REVIEW: The Walking Dead #193 ends with a sweet surprise (SPOILERS!)

By Zack Quaintance — I’m still processing what The Walking Dead did today and why. Now, normally when I say this, it has to do with a much-loved long-standing character having something grisly and horrible happen to them. That’s certainly not the case here. What happened in The Walking Dead #193 is that the story ended, and it ended with little warning on fanfare. 

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Top Comics to Buy for April 10, 2019: Detective Comics #1001, Livewire #5, Infinite Dark #5, and more

By Zack Quaintance — A very tardy set of Top Comics to Buy for April 10, 2019 this week, but what can I say? There were a lot of great books, and I wanted to make sure I’d read as many of them as possible before settling on my recommendations. It’s called due dilligence, and I’ll be damned if I don’, do it. Yeah.

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Top Comics to Buy for January 2, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — Oh hey, would you look at that? We got the date for this piece right! Though, we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a challenge. Basically, the New Year has arrived folks! Bringing with it those always-confusing date problems that take place in writer’s heads before we’ve fully adjusted.

Last week’s post-Christmas crop of comics was pretty barren (although it wasn’t without some great titles). This week’s bunch is a bit better, at least in terms of volume. What’s also great is that some of our favorite series from 2018—namely Action Comics and Immortal Hulk—have new installments! Pair that with the start of Jason Aaron’s highly-anticipated run of Conan the Barbarian, and hey, maybe this year will be starting off special.

All that said, let’s take a closer look!

Top Comics to Buy for January 2, 2019

Action Comics #1006
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ryan Sook
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The Red Cloud sets her sights on someone close to Superman, but how can the Man of Steel stop a villain he can't touch? As the invisible mafia controlling Metropolis' underworld steps more into the light, its leader finally stands revealed with a secret that will have massive implications for Superman and Clark Kent!
Why It’s Cool: At this time last year, the vast majority of comic book fandom didn’t even know which DC characters long-time Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis would be taking over when he made the jump to DC. Fast forward to now, and it’s almost hard to remember that Bendis didn’t spend all of last year writing Superman stories. His work on the character has been (in my personal opinion) fantastic, and leading the way is the Daily Planet-heavy story taking place in Action Comics. It continues to build this week with an expanded look into corners of Metropolis that have rarely been seen, setting as it does some track for more major happenings later on in the year. Also, competition is fierce, but of all the top-tier artists Bendis has collaborated with since coming over to DC, I do believe that Ryan Sook is my favorite. This may be his last issue of Action Comics for the foreseeable future, but later this year he and Bendis will be collaborating on something larger, which is definitely something to keep an eye on. Oh, and speaking of last year: can you believe some yutz suggested Bendis was taking over Green Arrow? Absurd!

Conan the Barbarian #1
Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99
From an age undreamed...hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet...Robert E. Howard's creation returns to comics, in an epic tale as only MARVEL could bring you!  Conan's travels have brought him to the far reaches of the unkown, from his birthplace in Cimmeria to the kingdom of Aquilonia and all in between. As his fighting prowess allows him to carve his way through life, so too does it attract the forces of death! The all-new ages-spanning saga begins here, by writer Jason Aaron (THE MIGHTY THOR, STAR WARS) and artist Mahmud Asrar (UNCANNY X-MEN, ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS), as Conan's destiny is forever changed!
Why It’s Cool: Jason Aaron has done absolutely incredible things with the Thor franchise, crafting what is currently the best years-long superhero run in all of comics. He just has a knack for the epic, nigh-biblical brutality inherent to norse mythology. And what, if any, comic book franchise just so happens to feel like a close cousin to norse mythology? That’s right, Conan the Barbarian. Aaron takes the keys of that book with Conan the Barbarian #1, the first in a trio of new Conan comics from Marvel, who snagged the rights for the character last year. As Thor starts to wind down with this year’s War of the Realms event, Aaron looks to start another all-time great stretch of comic book writing right here with this one.

Crowded #6
Christopher Sebela
Artist: Ro Stein
Inker: Ted Brandt
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Cardinal Rae
Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Trapped with the psychopathic streaming superstar Trotter on one side and all of Los Angeles carrying a weapon and a two-million-dollar-dream on the other, Charlie and Vita have only each other-and a few of the secrets they've been keeping from each other-to rely on for their survival.
Why It’s Cool: There is no shortage of stories in comics right now that envision terrifying futures. Hell, there’s no shortage of stories in comics right now that envision terrifying near futures. That said, Crowded has distinguished itself as one of the best, doing so with a mixture of big ideas and seasoned pacing moves from one of the best writers of creator-owned comics in the industry today: Christopher Sebela. Of the many excellent new Image Comics launched in 2018 (more on that next week...stay tuned!), this is one of the best.

Immortal Hulk #11
Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Jackie McGee is in hell. Carl Creel is in hell. Walter Langkowski is in hell. Eugene Judd is in hell. Carl Burbank is in hell.  Los Diablos is in hell. Shadow Base is in hell. New Mexico is in hell. Planet Earth is in hell. We are all in hell...
 ...and so is the IMMORTAL HULK.
Why It’s Cool: As you may or may not find out in this week’s forthcoming Best Comics of 2018, our committee of one absolutely loved Immortal Hulk last year, finding it to be a comic that both spoke to the essence of a classic character while pushing this franchise into novel new territories. This book, in other words, could do no wrong, and because of this, we’re very much excited to see where it’s all headed in the New Year. Based on preview text, that place is clearly hell, which, awesome.

The Walking Dead #187
Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Can Rick Grimes bring peace to the Commonwealth-or will he tear it apart?
Why It’s Cool: Although the jury is still out on whether it’s working, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard are clearly trying to sophisticate and evolve the central metaphor at the heart of their long-running Walking Dead comic, perhaps to avoid the ironically slow death that seems to be afflicting the television show (what with the lead actor begging out, and everything). It remains to be seen, of course, whether they stick the landing, but the emotional heart of this current plotline is Michonne, and it’s pretty well-done, so much so I find the book engaging in a way it hasn’t felt since before Negan got put in that cage. There’s a weird metaphor at work here too, wherein the governor of the town where everyone is content and cared for, yet class discrepancy runs wild, looks a whole lot like Hillary Clinton, which has the lasting effect of reminding us of simpler times with more understated political problems. Kirkman et. al clearly thought like most of us that she would win and are left holding the bag...if only they could bring back Negan, who, let’s face it, is basically Trump.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Champions #1

  • Infinity Wars: Infinity #1

  • Man Without Fear #1

  • Star Wars Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

  • Wolverine Long Night #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Archie 1941 #1

  • Archie #701

  • BPRD Devil You Know #12

  • Detective Comics #995

  • Giant Days #46

  • Hex Wives #3

  • Justice League Odyssey #4

  • Marvel Knights 20th #5

  • Redneck #18

  • Shatterstar #4

  • Terrifics #11

  • Titans #32

  • Tony Stark: Iron Man #7

  • Unnatural #6

  • Winter Soldier #2

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.

Top Comics to Buy for December 26, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — Happy holidays and Merry Christmas, everyone! And an early Happy New Year! This is a weird week for new comics. Diamond, the sole direct market comic book distributor, kindly gave employees a week off for the holidays. DC Comics isn’t releasing any titles (instead spreading its output across the five Wednesdays in January), and the offerings from other publishers are relatively sparse.

So, what does that mean for our beloved Top Comics to Buy for December 26 feature? What does that mean for commerce!? What does that mean for America??!? Relax. We’re still going to get it done (you are, after all, reading this right now...aren’t you?), but we’re going to do it a bit differently. Instead of our usual three sections, we’re just going to have one, and as you’re about to see, while there aren’t a ton of new books out today, there are still a few that very much demand some attention.

Let’s check them out!

Top Comics to Buy for December 26, 2018

X-Force #1
Ed Brisson
Dylan Burnett
Colorist: N/A
Letterer: N/A
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99
Cable is dead...and now, the original X-Force team of Domino, Cannonball, Shatterstar, Boom Boom and Warpath. must hunt down the murderer of their former leader! The mutant militia are hot for blood...but when their target is the time-traveling younger version of their fallen mentor, is there a line they absolutely cannot cross? And what does Deathlok have to do with all of it? From Ed Brisson (EXTERMINATION, OLD MAN LOGAN) and Dylan Burnett (COSMIC GHOST RIDER), comes an all-new, high-octane mutant adventure! A reckoning will come!
Parental Advisory
Why It’s Cool: The Extermination mini-series was also from new X-Force writer Ed Brisson, and—X-Men: Red aside—that was one of our favorite X-stories all year. Not to go into spoiler territory, but this book seems to be growing from the ashes of what all happened in Extermination, which is exciting indeed. Brisson, for our money, also tells some of the cleanest stories in the X-offices these days, providing a nice counterbalance to the ongoing continuity chaos that drives the rest of the frenetic work being done by the new generation of X-writers.    

Bone Parish #5
Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Colorist: Alex Guimarães
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99
The war between the Winters and the Cartel continues its bloody rampage. With the terrible power of the Ash behind them, the Winters stand a decent chance. But Ash is not without its dangers, and some of them are already falling to Ash Madness…
Why It’s Cool: We’ve been digging this comic since Bone Parish #1, which caught us somewhat off-guard with its combination of creepy artwork, New Orleans setting, and drug trafficking drama. The plot has really accelerated as of late (which is saying something seeing as this is a comic that started with a woman using drugs that made her commune with the dead), and the preview for this issue makes it seem like all kinds of post-Christmas fireworks are in store. It is not to be missed!

Die! Die! Die! #6
Robert Kirkman
Co-Plotter: Scott M. Gimple
Artist: Chris Burnham
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Wow! I can't believe that happens in this issue! Or that! Or that, that and that!!!
Why It’s Cool: While Die! Die! Die! may be one heck of a logistical headache for our retailer friends out there—it never gets solicited, but instead just arrives each month unbidden—we’ve been liking the story and the artwork in this comic quite a bit. We’re not the biggest fans of gratuitous violence (which this book deploys liberally), but writer Robert Kirkman and co-plotter Scott M. Gimple strike just the right kind of over-the-top satirical tone as they go about the ample bloodshed. The entanglement of political power structures seems to hint at this book’s larger satirical ambitions, but for now we’re still largely content to sit back and take in all of Chris Burnham’s wonderfully-rendered absurd action sequences.  

Go-Bots #2
Writer, Artist, & Letterer:
Tom Scioli
Publisher: IDW
Price: $3.99
Cy-Kill and his Renegades declare war on human civilization... and they're winning. Go-Botics freshman A.J. Foster and cynical Go-Bot race car driver, Matt Hunter, along with their friendly Go-Bots Scooter and Turbo, flee for their lives as they desperately search for some way to stop the extinction of mankind and the dawn of the planet of the Go-Bots!
From the creative mind that brought you IDW's Transformers vs. G.I. Joe!
Visionary creator Tom Scioli unleashes his imagination on the bizarre, absurd, and wonderful world of GO-BOTS!
Why It’s Cool: Go-Bots #1 headlined our Comic of the Week feature when it made its debut last month, and with good cause: that debut was an expertly-rendered and whip smart comic that reeled readers in with nostalgia and then hit them with a story about subjugation and rebellion...rebellion by Go-Bots. It was an enticing hook, to say the least, and we’re really excited now to see where writer/artist Tom Scioli will take it from here.

Mars Attacks #3
Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Colorist: Liz Trice Schweizer
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Price: $3.99
The Carbutt boys continue their trek to safety, this time with the help of the U.S. military, who plan on swatting the Martians like flies...until they see how big the Martian flies are, and, oh boy, there is gonna be a whole mess of trouble!
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of wonderful surprises, it’s only been two issues but writer Kyle Starks and artist Chris Schweizer are also doing fantastic work with Mars Attacks. This is one funny comic, first and foremost, but like Go-Bots and some of the other titles on our list this week, it also has ambitions that go beyond that, with Mars Attacks #2 hilariously painting a picture of the futility of untrained civilian gun enthusiasts crumpling in the face of a real oppressor. The preview for this next issue seems to promise more of the same, and, as such, this comic is not to be missed.

Other Comics Out This Week

  • Fantastic Four #6

  • Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1956 #2

  • Man-Eaters #4

  • Marvel Action: Avengers #1

  • Superior Spider-Man #1

  • Uncanny X-Men #7

(This is literally it.)

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

REVIEW: Hardcore #1 is a crazy good idea with solid pacing

Hardcore #1 is out 12/19.

By Zack Quaintance — Robert Kirkman—creator of The Walking Dead, Invincible, etc.—is one of the best idea writers in comics, with any new series attached to his name pretty much guaranteeing a certain accessible sort of enthralling-yet-simple conceit. It’s a level of vision that has made him basically as successful as one can get within the industry. In fact, it’s been said that he first pitched The Walking Dead as having a twist part-way through that would see aliens arrive and have been responsible for the zombies, because no one but him could see a world in which just doing a simple zombie comic would work.

This is all a long way of noting that the idea behind Hardcore #1 was first created by Kirkman and seminal artist Marc Silvestri, back in 2010 for the Top Cow pilot season concept, which saw that publisher running a series of original concepts, essentially first issue pitches. Well now Kirkman’s own Image Comics imprint is reviving some of those (see Stellar early in the year), and Hardcore is among them.

Taken over here by the more-than-capable team of Andy Diggle (Thief of Thieves) and Alessandro Vitti (Iceman), Hardcore is the story of a government program involving a new technology that allows operatives to pilot the bodies of other humans, often using them as drone-like assassins to takeout threats to national security, or dictators, or whomever. The use of drone in that description is intentional, given that this comic goes to pretty blatant lengths to draw a connection between the tech central to its plot and drone piloting, essentially painting this as the next evolution of those military initiatives.   

It’s a solid enough idea, but one that could have played as simplistic if not executed properly. Diggle and Vitti, however, are a more than capable team to pass it off to, delivering a tightly-plotted and impeccably-paced story here that gleefully bounces from one suspenseful plot point to the next. This is a fantastic first issue, in that the creators here manage to fill us in on all the needed exposition in a way that feels like it has stakes, rather than being a transparent and slow info dump (a pet peeve of mine in debuts).

What also does wonders for this book is that rather than sticking to the straight governmental military angle, the story here introduces an element of proprietary conflict. Not to spoil too much, but the primary villain of this story is the man who invented the technology that allows users to occupy from a remote location the bodies of others. He resents that another pilot—our main character—has been tapped to use the innovation he developed, and...well, you’ll have to read the book, but what he does from there creates waves likely to power this story quite well moving forward. Vitti is a great choice to render this whole thing, deploying a style here that’s reminiscent of both the tech and military worlds at once, as well as intricately detailed in an almost photo-realistic way throughout much of the exciting proceedings.   

Overall: A fantastic execution of an unsurprisingly solid idea for a new comic, Hardcore is one of those first issues that expertly drops off all the needed exposition as it hops along its perfect pacing. The overall quality of this comic, however, will be determined by where it goes now that its foundation has been laid. 8.0/10

Hardcore #1
Story By:
Robert Kirkman and Andy Diggle
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Alessandro Vitti
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99

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

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.