Why Matt Kindt’s XO Manowar is Valiant’s Best Run Ever

By Toren Chenault — When I started reading Valiant Comics, my first title was XO Manowar by Robert Venditti and Cary Nord, launched in 2013. It follows a Visigoth prince named Aric of Dacia, who is as headstrong and stubborn as a hero can get. But he’s also got a lot of heart. When his people are captured by an alien race, Aric steals a sentient alien suit on their ship, becoming a superhero. Yes, this comic is exactly as cool and crazy as it sounds. Since that issue…

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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’t...um, do it. Yeah.

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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
Writer:
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.

REVIEW: Livewire #3, Amanda McKee faces a far greater danger than anything physical

Livewire #3 is out 2/13/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — Three issues into its run, Livewire is now among my favorite superhero comics (right up there with Bendis’ Superman and Immortal Hulk). This book just has such a great combination of honest characterization from writer Vita Ayala, kinetic and clear artwork from Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, and distinct yet connected chapters. Indeed, all three issues in this series so far have had different conceits, with clear thematic throughlines fostering a sense of unity.

Livewire is, in other words, a fantastic monthly comic. Livewire #3 sees our heroine still depowered, on the run, and known pretty much the world over as a war criminal. See, in this past summer’s Harbinger Wars 2 event, Livewire essentially turned off all the electronics in the United States to save her team from slaughter and oppression at the hands of malicious actors within government. This action, which seemed justified on its surface, had the end result of killing a horrific number of innocent people, from folks with pacemakers to hundreds on commercial planes.

In this issue, Livewire escapes to a safehouse before being hunted down by Pan, whom she has known since childhood under Toyo Harada within the Harbinger Foundation (readers needn’t know this bit of continuity to enjoy the series). The majority of this book is consumed by de-powered Livewire and Pan in combat, but the fisticuffs take a backseat, so intense is the discourse between the characters. Allen and Martin’s artwork is among the best in comics right now, and it makes for engaging activity as the argument between the two characters steadily raises the emotional stakes.

Pan and Livewire have a sibling relationship, and they spend the issue arguing as siblings do. This sort of complex discord between siblings is familiar territory for Ayala, who has told similarly-compelling stories about brothers and sisters in some of their best comics, particularly in their series with Vault Comics, Submerged. It’s all in here—the resentment, the rehashing of the past, the accusations of favoritism, the struggle to reframe history—all the well-worn maneuvers from real life sibling rivalry appear, compelling as can be.

What really makes Livewire #3 a white knuckle read, however, is the emotional threat poised to the lead character. In issue one, we saw Amanda McKee run through her status quo on the run, in issue two we saw her suffer physically at the hand of oppressive captors. In this issue, we see her honestly face down the severity of what she’s done in full, forced to do so by Pan’s accelerated empath abilities, which can essentially transfer memories from one person to another. Livewire, as we know, is a hero who believes in her fight and good intentions. That core component of her identity faces down a major threat here.

What Ayala does that’s so impressive is use this setup—the hunt, the character history, the transferred memory, the fistfighting—to illustrate the price for aggressive actions, asking whether regardless of how righteous or justified one feels, if aggression is ever the answer. In other words, can you be as right to fight back as Livewire was, and still find yourself suffering culpability for damage beyond your perception? Fighting a winning fight, even when you’re 100 percent correct, is still fighting, and maybe the nature of aggression is such that we can never truly anticipate how it afflicts the world.

That’s what I took from Livewire #3, and it’s an especially poignant point these days, when the difference between being right and productive has been so thoroughly muddied.

Overall: Livewire is a grounded book with high stakes, grand ideas, and terrifying threats, and in its pages, Ayala, Allen, and Martin are fearlessly addressing everything from Amanda’s intentions to her results to the impact of the wars she’s waged. This comic is, simply put, compelling stuff. 9.6/10

Livewire #3
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artists: Raul Allen with Patricia Martin and Scott Koblish
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher:
Valiant Entertainment
Price: $3.99

Check out our reviews of Livewire #1 and Livewire #2!

Check out more comic book thoughts in our reviews archive.

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

Top Comics to Buy for February 13, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — You know it’s a strong week for new comics when we expand our top choices to six slots and still have to bump Amazing Spider-Man, Superman and Thor (three absolute favorites in these parts) down to the Others Receiving Votes section. But hey, too many great comics is one of those good problems to have, and we vastly prefer that to the alternative.

This is a great week, really, for readers of all tastes. There’s another pair of new idea-dense comics from Vault, the continuations of some of the best superhero runs today, and a new series from one of the industry’s funniest satirists. It’s the type of Wednesday that reminds me why I invest myself so thoroughly in the weekly comics grind: there’s just no other medium that’s so urgent, profilify, or tonally and thematically varied. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now, onward to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for February 13, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Wonder Twins #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics - Wonder Comics
Price: $3.99
Exiled from their home planet, alien heroes Zan and Jayna must navigate life as teens on Earth at South Metropolis High School, where they're even bigger outsiders than the typical awkward young adults. Under the watchful eye of Superman, the brother and sister pull monitor duty at the Hall of Justice as interns, while also trying to overcome the pitfalls of Zan's brash confidence and Jayna's shy but streetwise persona. If you think you know the Wonder Twins, think again-this book takes the form of the unexpected.
Why It’s Cool: Mark Russell is really at home with old Hanna-Barbera properties, making him an absolutely amazing choice to revive the old Super Friends characters, the Wonder Twins. Doing this property right is a tall order. There’s just so much that can go wrong, but Russell has shown a propensity in the past for taking those ideas—a serious take on The Flintstones, on Snagglepuss, etc.—and hitting them out of the park. This could be his finest work yet, playful and self-aware and relentlessly delightful. It’s a blast to read. DC Comics doesn’t make wry fun of itself often, and I wouldn’t really want them to, but when it’s done this well, it’s something really special.   

Criminal #2
Writer:
Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE LONGEST WEEKEND": Archie Lewis was the artist's artist in his heyday, although that's not what he's famous for. He's famous for being a nightmare to work with-and dangerous. So when an old assistant is forced to chaperone his one-time mentor to receive his lifetime achievement award, well... let's just say things don't go well. As always, CRIMINAL contains back page art and articles only found in the single issues.
Why It’s Cool: Has it been a month already since the excellent new Criminal series started? Wow, that went fast, but hey, I’m not one to complain that the best partnership in comics is back. The first issue was as immersive and authentic as one would expect from the Brubaker-Phillips all-time great crime comics pairing. This book, now on its eighth volume, just seems to get better the more its creators return to this world, the more they broaden and hone and expand upon the tone of these stories. This newest volume is no exception.
Read our review of Criminal #1.

Fearscape #4 (our review)
Writer:
Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
After the tragic events of the third issue, the villainous Henry Henry finds himself... No! The advertising copy provided here by the publisher will not do! The events of our third chapter (please refrain from calling them issues) are hardly tragic. Our brave hero bested two villains, yet his reward is to be libeled against in marketing copy? -HH
Why It’s Cool: There are more than a few creative types among those of us who read monthly comics obsessively (which is presumably the core readership of this website...though we’ve—shockingly!—not had it in our budget to conduct a focus group just yet). This is a book, meanwhile, that calls to and calls out creative types on their every last insecurity, unspoken jealousy, pretension, etc., mining it all for great fantasy/horror concepts. This issue might be construed as a turning point, and, like all those that have come before it, it’s an absolutely must-read comic.
Read our reviews of Fearscape #1, Fearscape #2, and Fearscape #3.

Friendo #4 (our review)
Writer:
Alex Paknadel
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Thanks to an obscure piece of legislation, Jerry and Leo are now above the law. As they rob big-box stores up and down the west coast with The Manufacturer's blessing, their violent exploits are livestreamed to millions of disaffected consumers who've been told "no" one too many times. Beginning to tire of their new status as folk heroes, Jerry and Leo's final heist takes a brutal turn when corporate assassin Zaj Xek the Cremator gets them in his sights.
Why It’s Cool: As with the rest of Vault Comics’ current slate—Wasted Space, Fearscape, These Savage Shores, etc.—Friendo is an unpredictable comic dense with ideas that have much to say about 2019 America. It’s also one of today’s best creator-owned comics, an ever-evolving story that goes to new and terrifying places every week. I’ve written this in all my reviews (and will likely do so again in the near future) but the real shocker with this story is how at first blush it seems like total sci-fi but then starts to seem increasingly likely as you delve into its horrors. Check back later this week for a full review!    
Read our reviews of Friendo #1, Friendo #2, and Friendo #3.

Livewire #3
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artists: Raul Allen with Patricia Martin and Scott Koblish
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Price: $3.99
On the run! Fleeing from more than just the law, Livewire's about to find out whether she has the strength to survive on her own in a world that hates and fears her, with only her memories of better days to rely on... but if she's not careful, even those can be snatched away by the mercenary hunting her down!
Why It’s Cool: We have loved both installments of Vita Ayala’s and Raul Allen/Patricia Martin’s new Livewire book so far, and the third issue is no exception. There’s something really special happening in this comic, arguably making it the best Valiant series since Divinity (last year’s Secret Weapons one-shots not withstanding). This issue is a sort of bottle issue that sees the central protagonist engaging in a nakedly honest way with an antagonist during a prolonged bout of combat. It’s a kinetic and poignant way to get across many ideas without slowing the story’s pacing at all, and I absolutely loved it. I won’t say much more past that for risk of spoilers.
Read our reviews of Livewire #1 and Livewire #2.

Magic Order #6 (our review)
Writer:
Mark Millar
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Peter Doherty
Publisher: Image Comics - Netflix
Price: $3.99
This explosive miniseries climax is a high-octane magical battle of good versus evil, as the remaining Magic Order wizards make a last stand against Madame Albany and the forces of darkness. Family bonds are tested, blood is spilled, and black magic threatens life as we know it.
Why It’s Cool: Magic Order #6 marks the end of Mark Millar’s first full series since signing his landmark multimedia deal with Netflix, and it’s been one hell of a way to launch a partnership. Like *insert your favorite action film here* with wizards and witches, Magic Order is an exciting high-stakes take on magical tropes, illustrated beautifully by Olivier Coipel with Dave Stewart colors. Simply put, this is a gorgeous book with one of Millar’s always-sharp concepts at its heart, and we’re excited for the finale (and also wondering if there might be more story on the way in this world eventually…).
Read our review of Magic Order #5.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Age of X-Man: NextGen #1

  • Army of Darkness: Bubba Ho-Tep #1

  • Avengers: No Road Home #1

  • Hit Girl Season 2 #1

  • Marvels Annotated #1

  • Savage Sword of Conan #1

Others Receiving Votes

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: Livewire #2 continues to establish this run as a must-read superhero comic

Livewire #2 is out 1/23/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — A key theme in Livewire #1 was whether one can justify extreme actions just because they have a righteous and worthy cause, and it manifested clearest in an argument toward the end between Amanda (aka Livewire) and Avi, an argument about her actions during the Harbinger Wars 2 event, during which she shut down the entire country’s power grid to stop shady government actors from murdering/abusing Psiots but in the process caused loss of life, resources, and safety.

Writer Vita Ayala’s script for the debut issue played this all out across the tricky philosophical ground the ideas call for, not letting anyone involved off the hook. This gave the series’ debut (and by extension the series moving forward) a dynamic, realistic feel. At one point, Avi even laid it all there, asking Amanda, “‘By any means necessary,’ right?”

More plot went down, and the first issue eventually ended with Amanda in a precarious position, seemingly caught by a squad of elite forces. During the capture, the commandos go out of their way to assure her they are motivated by good sense (she has a massive bounty on her head) and are far from the most extreme folks hunting her. It was a nigh-perfect ending, leaving readers with a sense/fear that Amanda was about to suffer consequences for what she’d done, potentially even in a way that would rattle the surety of her justifications.

Speaking of which...justifications, good intentions, right versus wrong, means versus the end, regret—that first issue had hints of it all, leading to a great hook for a series that already feels both promising and powerful (even if it is steeped in some immediate back continuity from the larger Valiant superhero universe). I, however, read an advanced copy of the issue in either late November or early December, and almost immediately regretted doing so because it meant that I wouldn’t get to resume this story for many weeks. Anyway, here we are now with Livewire #2.

What I found most impressive is the way it naturally evolves from its earlier focus on Livewire’s consequences, to the extreme actors on the other end, essentially putting her in the clutches of those she made her drastic move to save children from. And what do we find once she’s there? An infrastructure of abuse, fear, and weaponized bigotry that is well fortified, it was clearly in motion (although they insist it was not) long before she did what she did.

I don’t want to spoil any of the particulars, but I will note this excellent bit of dialogue, wherein Livewire tells her captors, Things like these are exactly what led me to the shut down. People like you made the fight necessary. It’s 2019, and I think most (if not every last one of us) has felt the need to say some variation of this in the last two or three years, perhaps often.

In a broader sense, this is just an incredibly smart comic. Stories about Valiant’s Psiot characters, is that they’re all built on ideas derivative from X-Men. The best of them (and this early Livewire book is quickly making a case to be among those, up there with Joshua Dysart’s and other writers’ Harbinger and Toyo Harada books) extrapolate the ideas and metaphors from X-Men to more complex and consequential places, places the commercial interests of the larger Marvel franchise often prevent them from going. When someone threatens to negate Livewire’s powers with an experimental surgery, for example, there’s a sense it might actually happen, which just isn’t the case with Nightcrawler, Colossus, or Kitty Pryde, and so on.

I could keep going, but the point is there’s just so much to like about this comic. This is really Valiant superhero stories at its best, smartly written, impeccably illustrated, and done with a sense that anything can happen if it serves the story. I highly recommend getting in on this series.

Some other quick highlights from issue #2: great word play equating false profits with false prophets; the opening fight sequence by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin is absolutely electric; the color work in the cell; and the excellent panel wherein Livewire starts to fight back against impossible adds, the one that stands as an homage to the famous We Can Do It! World War II poster.

Overall: Livewire #2 picks up where the previous installment left off. The creative team here is really building something special, and I can’t emphasize strong enough that fans of superhero fiction should get in on the bottom level. This comic has the potential to be a run talked about for a long while. 9.5/10

Livewire #2
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artists: Raul Allen and Patricia Martin
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Price: $3.99

Check out some of other thoughts about this comic from both this week and the past in our reviews archive.

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

Top Comics to Buy for August 29, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — Ah, the weird fifth Wednesday, where indie titles are free to shine, DC rolls out its annuals and specials, and delayed comics from throughout the month finally find a home. It’s also the month where Wednesday Warriors (who are presumably the only folks who would be reading this) get a slight break for their wallets.

I say slight because there are, of course, still new comics to be had, for nothing can entirely stop the juggernaut that is comics commerce, rolling forward each week via its direct market of thousands of small business spread throughout the country, in what these days has likely become the oddest and most-antiquated media distribution system that still has a large and fairly entrenched following (of, to be fair, mostly middle-aged guys).  

Annnnyway, the point is there are comics coming out this week, so with that in mind let’s look now to our Top Comics to Buy for August 29, 2018!

Top Comics to Buy for August 29, 2018

Batgirl #26 / Batgirl Annual #2
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artists: Paul Pelletier (#26) & Elena Casagrande (Annual #2)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 (#26) & $4.99 (Annual #2)
#26 — "Art of the Crime" part one. During a high-speed chase with murderous art thief Grotesque, the villain K.O.'s Batgirl with a souped-up stun gun that temporarily fries the device implanted in her spine. (That thing that helps her, you know, walk and be Batgirl?) Babs finds herself in for a whole new world of hurt now that old wounds have been opened up-and so does Grotesque.  
Annual #2 —  Sibling rivalry takes on a whole new meaning in this one-shot story that tracks Batgirl's hunt for a serial killer whose M.O. strikes a familiar chord. Namely, a disturbing similarity to her brother, current convict James Gordon Jr. Family bonds are restored during a visit to his maximum- security surroundings, but Babs' doubts linger. Is James Jr. helping to solve this case... or pulling her strings in a diabolical power play?

Why It’s Cool: I’m on record as having loved Batgirl #25, which gave us our first glimpse at the forthcoming run on the character by the new creative team of Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier/Elena Casagrande. Scott seems bent on drawing from the character’s history to tell stories that speak to her core values as well as her place within the Bat-family...plus, both of these artists are very exciting.

Harbinger Wars 2 #4 (of 4)
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tomas Giorello
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Price: $3.99
THE FINAL BATTLE! LIVEWIRE VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE! We called it the biggest, most impactful, most ambitious Valiant event ever attempted - and we meant it! From across the Valiant Universe, the paths of all of the world's most formidable heroes - X-O Manowar, the Harbinger Renegades, Bloodshot, Ninjak, the Secret Weapons, H.A.R.D. Corps, and dozens of newly activated psiots - have finally converged, drawn together by their old ally Livewire's last-ditch effort to protect the powerless. Now, the long-brewing battle between Valiant's greatest icons will finally reach the stratosphere - literally - and, out of the ashes, a new order for the Valiant Universe will be hewn.
Why It’s Cool: What an event Harbinger Wars 2 has been, clocking in at spry four issues, maintaining the same creative team throughout its duration, and pairing up characters in fresh ways that only a younger superhero universe can do. This is the finale, sort of...there’s an aftermath issue coming out soon. Either way, big things seem to be afoot here and we’re definitely there for it.

Lex Luthor Porky Pig Special #1
Writers:
Mark Russell, Jim Fanning
Artists: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, John Loter
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99
Facing financial and personal ruin, a desperate Porky Pig applies for and gets and entry-level position with LexCorp. Grateful to his new benefactor, Porky becomes Luthor's most loyal employee and defender. But when a major scandal breaks in the news and Lex is called before a Congressional Committee, guess who is about to be offered up as the sacrificial pig?
Why It’s Cool: Nobody in comics is better at taking pop culture icons (a group in which we’d include Porky Pig) and turning them into modern satires than Mark Russell, who has done the same with The Flintstones and Snagglepuss, and will soon get another chance to do so with The Lone Ranger. Based on the preview text, this comic seems to be an incredibly timely look at white collar crime—we have this pegged as an early contender for book of the week.

Submerged #2 (of 4)
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
As the worst storm in New York City's history crashes over its streets, Ellie Puente's desperate search for her brother, Angel, takes her into the terrifying depths of the subway system. There she finds a lost, helpless child, and is confronted with the stuff of her nightmares.
Why It’s Cool: This year could be remembered for being the one in which the industry saw the rise of Vault Comics, and books like Submerged are a big part of the reason why. This book combines a potpourri of different mythos with family drama and a terrifying experience writer Vita Ayala (who has also spent 2018 on the rise) had in New York City during Hurricane Sandy. Like all Vault books, we have no idea where this one is going, but we’re certain it will be both rewarding and complex.

X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis #2 (of 2)
Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $5.99
SPACE INVADERS! The Shi'ar! The Brood! The Starjammers! Watch as Marvel's merry mutants take to the stars for the very first time all over again. See the inaugural X-Men adventures of Kitty Pryde and Carol Danvers. Marvel at the conclusion of the now-classic DARK PHOENIX SAGA.   A great entry point for new and lapsed X-Men fans alike!
Why It’s Cool: It just is. Writer/artist Ed Piskor’s X-Mythos remix Grand Design is one of the coolest things happening in comics today, with everything from the artwork to the structure to the tactile enhancements made by the book’s special paper ranking as pretty freaking cool. We may end up waiting for the over-sized compiled addition that’s coming down the road, but we still want to stress this as a book that is not to be missed—regardless of your preferred format.

Recommended New #1 Comics for August 29, 2018

  • Beyonders #1

  • Catwoman Tweety & Sylvester Special #1

  • Daredevil Annual #1

  • House Amok #1

  • Hunt for Wolverine Dead Ends #1

  • Nightwing Annual #1 (drawn by Otto Schmidt!)

  • Scarlet #1

  • Silencer Annual #1

  • Web of Venom: VeNam #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • A Walk Through Hell #4

  • Beatles Yellow Submarine Hardcover

  • Bone Parish #2

  • Euthanuats #2

  • Exiles #7

  • Isola #5

  • Marvel 2-in-1 #9

  • Ms. Marvel #33

  • New Mutants: Dead Souls #6

  • New World #2 (of 5)

  • Paradise Court #2 (of 5)

  • Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2

  • X-23 #3

See our other top comics to buy here.

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.

REVIEW: Quantum and Woody! #8 by Eliot Rahal, Joe Eisma, Andrew Dalhouse, & Dave Sharpe

Quantum and Woody! #8 is available July 18.

By Zack Quaintance — Eliot Rahal took this book over starting with Quantum and Woody! #6, following a five-issue run by writer Daniel Kibblesmith, who is (objectively) one of the funniest writers in all of comics. Basically, to use a cliche, Rahal had HUGE shoes to fill, humor-wise...which is why what he did with the first two issues of this run was so surprising and impressive.

Rahal didn’t try to match or outdo Kibblesmith’s jokes, or even to maintain a similar tone, really. There were hints of the goofy character dynamic that drives this franchise, but Rahal largely pushed it in new directions, writing a first issue that stripped the titular characters of their powers and made them prove themselves as heroes anyway, which they did in poignant fashion. Rahal then followed that excellent story up with a fever dream of an issue that delved deeply into our characters’ psyches.

Now, in Quantum and Woody! #8 he gets to the business of re-grounding the book a bit in this franchise’s signature tone—its humor—but because of the hard work he did as a storyteller in his first two installments, it's easy to be vested in the goofy moments. I’m not tearing up at Woody’s pithy one-liners (of which there are many), but I do care a little bit more about both of these heroes after what Rahal has put them through (and continues to put them through). I also really like how he continues to build on his first issues. This is a new arc and jumping on point, to be sure, but there’s a lot here for readers who are already on the book.

Joe Eisma’s artwork (with colors by the always-great Andrew Dalhouse) is also a great fit. For readers of his recent run on Archie with all-time great comic writer Mark Waid, this hardly comes as a surprise. Eisma is able to oscillate without strain between moments of heavy character reactions and action sequences or site gags—whatever the script calls for, he nails it. His work isn’t as intricate as some other Valiant artists, but Quantum and Woody! is a unique corner of the Valiant Universe, and Eisma expertly draws it that way.    

Overall: All three issues of the Eliot Rahal run on Quantum and Woody! so far have been vastly different yet equally as interesting and great. Rahal and his collaborators are doing a really impressive job drilling into these characters to find new ground for fresh stories. 8.5/10

For more about this Quantum and Woody! run, read our reviews of Quantum and Woody! #6 & Quantum and Woody #7.

Hear Quantum and Woody! artist Joe Eisma's recent appearance on the WMQ&A Podcast!

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.