Comic Book Review – Man-eaters #1 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up the first issue of the new Image Comics series Man-eaters, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk, colours by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters by Joe Caramagna.

A young girl, Maude, introduces us to her dad as he heads off to work as a police officer. He’s investigating a particularly gruesome homicide, which turns out to be perpetrated by a cat. Not an ordinarily cat though, instead suspicion falls on any number of adolescent girls in the area who, infected by a mutant strain of toxoplasmosis, can transform into cat-like monsters who violently attack and kill anyone nearby. This change is brought on during the onset of menses, which the government tightly suppress through hormone therapy in the water. But it isn’t effective in everyone, and Maude has just got her first period.

This first issue is a lot of set up, from the principle cast to the task force that has been set up to deal with the ‘cat’ problem, with the background laid down for the status quo of the world. The series appears to owe a lot of its DNA to Kelly Sue Deconnick and Val De Landro’s Bitch Planet (its no coincidence that Maude has a Bitch Planet poster on her wall), but what I found interesting is that the direction of the series moving forward is likely best indicated by the back matter rather than the bulk of the issue. While the always relevant ‘fuck the patriarchy’ angle to the story is hinted at in the plot, it is resolved much more clearly through the propaganda in the pages following the comic, where the warnings for men and boys for cat attacks or girlfriends who may be cats are clear, despite the issue indicating that anyone can be the victim of a cat attack, especially close family members. It casts Man-eater in a much clearer light, and I expect subsequent issues to focus in on that aspect a little more, drawing on the male fear and confusion of female biology and strength. In this first issue, Cain sets up the plot well and draws a compelling character in Maude, and the simplicity of the final reveal sets the forward momentum up for the series.

Art by Niemczyk, Rosenberg, and Caramagna (Image Comics)

Niemczyk’s pencils and inks use bold lines for well defined character work, that overall is reminiscent of Tank Girl or Kim and Kim. Reteaming with Cain after they worked on Mockingbird together, there is some gruesome art here that shines through, but there are choices with layout and flow that feels very modern and relevant. The colours from Rosenberg are bright and bold, though some of the darker scenes allow her to stretch out and nail those too.

Man-eaters is off to a good start, and while it’s potential is its main selling point, this first issue is the time to jump on and check it out. Pick it up at your local comic book shop or online now!


Comic Review – Reborn #3 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

I had a (relatively) small stack this week, but I have been meaning to review Reborn for a while now. This week issue #3 of this fairly new Image Comics series came out, created by Mark Millar and Greg Capullo, with Millar on writing duties, Capullo on pencils, inks by Jonathan Glapion, colours by FCO Plascencia and letters from Nate Piekos.


Cover by Capullo, Glapion & Plascencia

Reborn stars Bonnie Black, a previously 80-year-old woman who has been reborn as a 25-year-old warrior queen, fated to defend the world of Adystria against the forces of Lord Golgotha and The Dark Lands. When she awoke in this new land, she found the world populated with long-lost loved ones and was reunited with her father. Now the pair of them, along with Bonnie’s childhood dog Roy Boy (now a huge armored beast), are travelling Adystria, while hunted by her now anthropomorphic cat Frost, who is working for Golgotha and bears a serious grudge against her. But Frost isn’t the only danger they need to worry about.

Everything I just said probably sounds pretty crazy. Which is fair. Reborn is kitchen-sink crazy with everything that populates this weird after-life plane. It is high concept fantasy and is a hell of a lot of fun to go along with it. Millar’s dialogue and plot move at a breakneck pace in this latest issue, and while it still may not be clear where the story is actually going, it is compelling enough to lose yourself in. A few character beats and choices felt a little out of step, with a particular moment of blind and idiotic trust in a stranger being difficult to believe from anyone without serious head trauma, but mostly this is very strongly written.


Art by Capullo, Glapion, Plascencia & Piekos

Millar has been on somewhat of a roll of late with the artists he pairs up with, and while I was sad to see Capullo leave Batman after such an incredible run with Scott Snyder, it is nice to see him stretch some fantasy muscles in Reborn. The result is something truly breathtaking, with dynamic and visceral action being the real strengths here. The standouts in this issue are the terrifying excellence of the monstrous second and third pages, and the gorgeous Black Wish Mountain towards the end of the issue. Glapion and Plascencia have been working with Capullo for a while now, and clearly know how to really make his pencils stand out. The result is an art team producing work that is worth the cover price alone, regardless of the story.

Reborn is a great looking, huge and insane fantasy book that you should be definitely checking out. I can’t wait to see where the series goes, and what weird and wonderful creatures Capullo is going to get to draw along the way. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally now!

Score: 8 Political Prisoners out of 10

Comic Review – Seven to Eternity #1 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

As if to swiftly fill the hole left by Tokyo Ghost ending a few weeks ago, Rick Remender is back with another new series in the form of Seven to Eternity from Image Comics, reuniting with his long-time collaborator Jerome Opeña on art duties, with Matt Hollingsworth providing colours and lettering from Rus Wooton. As a big fan of Fear Agent I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now, so seemed an obvious choice for review this week.


Cover by Opeña & Hollingsworth

Seven to Eternity takes place in the Kingdom of Zhal, where the ruthless and terrifying tyrant The God of Whispers (also known as the Mud King) has, after a long and devastating war, nearly secured his absolute dominion over the land. By inciting fear and hatred, by turning others against their friends and allies, he has taken control and even made those who stand against him pariahs rather than heroes. Zebadiah Osidis was one such man, and rather than hear the Mud King’s offer and bend his knee to him, he took his family far away. Years later, the Mud King has sent his agents to deal with Zebadiah, and while he sticks to his principles and refuses to hear the offer, his now adult son Adam, thinking of his own young family and the threat to them, travels across Zhal and through the dying embers of the war to hear The God of Whispers out.

Zhal is a high-fantasy world of magic rather than technology, and the entire team here has quickly established an incredibly rich world. The nature and design of how it all works together is stunning, and again really shows a creative team working so well together. This is a dense and heavy story that is unforgiving, but well worth the effort to get into. Seven to Eternity is cinematic in scope, which is clear from even the cover. Remender’s characters are as always, fascinating studies into individuals whose obsession or devotion to their ideals may very well be their undoing. Zebadiah is uncompromising in his principles, and by refusing to bend on them he turned his family into hated outcasts. Adam may not do the same, but his choices may well end up even more dangerous for everyone. The complex characters, a legitimately terrifying villain, and strong dialogue round off a great start to the story.


Art by Opeña & Hollingsworth

The art is the best work I’ve seen from Opeña to date. The visuals are utterly gorgeous, the action sequences insanely detailed, and the way the magic in this world works is just mesmerising. The double page splash of Adam seeing the city is almost criminally good. I don’t know what was going on in it, but my god was it pretty. Matt Hollingsworth’s colours are an excellent edition to the art, often bringing almost a glow to the backgrounds, while infusing the action with an intense vibrancy. The lettering from Wooton in this book is particularly strong too, never intruding on the art but guiding through the pages with a perfect flow.

What is clear in Seven to Eternity is that this is a truly collaborative affair, and everyone involved is pulling in some of the best work of their careers. It’s a dense, intriguing high fantasy epic that I genuinely can’t wait to read more of, and you should definitely be checking this out. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally now.

Score: 9 Mud Hounds out of 10


Comic Review – Kill or be Killed #1 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

It’s rare to have so much trust in a creative team in comics, that when I hear they have a new book coming out I don’t have to look into what it is or what its about. At the very least, I’ll check out the first issue and will almost certainly be back for more. Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser are such a team, with Brubaker and Phillips’s previous collaborations Criminal, Fatale and The Fade Out (Breitweiser joined them as colorist on the latter) all receiving critically acclaim. The Fade Out (the first issue of which I reviewed a while back) was deservedly given the Eisner Award for Best Limited Series this year, as well as a place on the far less prestigious ‘Adam’s Top 5 Comics of 2015‘. So with all that in mind, Kill or be Killed #1 (written by Brubaker, drawn by Phillips and coloured by Breitweiser, published by Image Comics) was a must-buy this week. As with The Fade Out, this first issue also comes with a short piece from Devin Faraci on cinema, this time on Death Wish and what it said about 1970’s America, and is as interesting a read as his pieces on 1940’s Hollywood. That on top of a 34 page comic is a pretty good deal.

Kill or be killed cover

Cover art by Phillips

Kill or be Killed opens with a healthy dose of violence, with a masked and hooded man making his way through a building ruthlessly killing several men with a shotgun. The attacks take on the air of pitiless executions, while the book’s protagonist narrates over the killings calmly, reflecting on how he came to be doing this – murdering ‘bad people’ who deserve it. It’s an in media res opening that, after our masked man Dylan brutally finishes off his last target, winds back to his previous life. The narration moves on, somewhat haphazardly as Dylan tries to bring context to the reader, going from an early instance of feeling weak when a girlfriend is catcalled, to his recent suicide attempt.

Clearly, Dylan isn’t happy. His roommate is dating his best friend Kira, whom he is predictably also in love with, complicating and suffocating his home life. But the worst thing, and what drives him to a rooftop, is their pity amidst his loneliness. However, between this failed suicide attempt and the opening scene, Dylan gets back the “joy of being motherfucking alive”… and then his life changes dramatically, and the 28-year-old grad student becomes a man who needs to kill, however he justifies it in his head.

I went into Kill or be Killed knowing little else past the title and the team behind it, and if I’ve been particularly vague in my summary it’s because I think that is the best way to approach the story. The trigger point for why Dylan starts to kill was unexpected and deftly handled, and I think more satisfying with no prior knowledge. Rest assured, it is good. And as for the rest of the story, Brubaker’s talent for intrigue and character study are on full display, while delivering a script and plot that only replicates the level of quality of his previous work while simultaneously doing something entirely new. It is definitively modern, with Dylan talking about how “Cops kill innocent black kids and get away with it…” and “Psychopaths run for President…” as examples pulled straight from the headlines to illustrate how messed up the world is right now. But how that justifies his actions, or at least how he thinks it does (and we don’t know why the men he is killing are bad, all we have is his word), opens up a fascinating look into the morality of the vigilante killer, rendering Kill or be Killed as much more than a simple take on The Punisher for example. All said, this is very strong start to what promises to be an intriguing story.

Kill or be killed interiors

Art by Phillips & Breitweiser

As for the art, if Phillips and Breitweiser were producing stunning work on The Fade Out (they were), then this is some next level excellence. The book is full of heavy shadows, marrying subdued art up perfectly with the tone of the story. The action at the start is exhilarating and affectingly violent, while the facial detail throughout is gorgeous. The level of detail in the backgrounds too is incredibly high, in particular the snowbound city towards the end of the issue. But the more chilling elements of the book, and the catalyst for Dylan’s new life, is where I found the book to excel. There is a lot to be said of the layout of the art too, with panels framed in such a way as to enhance the fact that this is being narrated by the main character, and he is the focus.

Breitweiser compliments and brings out the best in Phillips’ work, with an array of different palettes and tones through each scene, none of which are a jarring change from the last. From the opening action and the dominance of the reds of Dylan’s mask and the blood spatters, to the oppressive clinical glare of a hospital waiting room or the unclean tones of a city bus and the city lights outside it, all the colour work blends in with the shadowy aesthetics of the book for a result that simply is the best modern comics can look.

It’s rare to have so much trust in a creative team in comics that you pick up a new book without looking into it at all. It is even rarer for that book to be even better than you expected from them. This is comic books at their best. Check it out at your local comic shop or digitally now.

Score: 9.5 Laundry Lines out of 10

Comic Review – Birthright Volume 1: Homecoming (Image Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers. Especially as I’ll be reviewing a whole volume, you’ll probably know most of the plot of the first issue by the time you finish. But go and buy it anyway (implied spoiler about the score I give it)!

“You think your weapons can stop me? I’ve been trained to battle magic and monsters that if you were ever to see them would make your eyes bleed! It is my fate to save the world and no one will stop me!” Mikey

A couple of months ago I made a huge mistake. I went into Excelsior! Comics in Bristol and asked them for a recommendation. I was told I had to read Birthright written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas. You know what? They were completely, 100% right. I’m hooked on it and need to pick up another volume as soon as I can.

birthright featured image

Volume One Cover by Bressan & Lucas

Now let me tell you why it’s good. Our hero is a boy and later a man called Mikey. As a kid he had a loving, tight knit family, with caring parents and was best friends with his brother. He goes out for a game of catch with his dad, but the ball goes astray, he chases after it but finds himself in the fantasy world of Terrenos, full of dragons, kingdoms and of course an evil God King called Lore, and yes, he’s the chosen one. Destined to save the world and defeat the evil king. Meanwhile his family search desperately for him but come up blank, eventually the police get involved and the dad is bought into custody, after all he was the last person to see Mikey.

A few years later Mikey has returned to the world, while his older brother is still in school but getting into fights, his parents are divorced and hate each other and his dad a raging alcoholic, Mikey is a fully grown man built to make Arnold Schwarzenegger look tiny and with an arsenal of magical weapons and items that would make any Dungeons & Dragons party cry. He has returned from the world of Terrenos to save our world from a great evil. The story then hops backwards and forwards between the current time in our world and Mikey’s time in Terrenos, showing us what happened to him while he was there and how he grew up in another world. As a world Terrenos is full of wonderful magic, creatures and peoples. The characters there are full of personality and you’re left wanting to know so much more about it.

Birthright art

Art by Bressan & Lucas

I’ll leave it there. There’s more involved, fantastic plot twists and a wonderfully gripping story. Mikey is unsurprisingly treated as a mad man and has such a battle convincing his family he is who he says he is. As well as that the art is incredible, the action scenes are full of the fantastical colour you’d hope for from fantasy combat and both worlds have the perfect feel to them. There’s only so much I can say about it, but the art is absolutely one of the strongest points of this comic.

Final Verdict

This is one of my new favourites. If you like comics and fantasy then you need to try this. It isn’t quite the perfect fairy tale story some of these turn out to be either.

Final Score – 9.25 Flaming Swords out of 10!

Retro Review – Spawn: Origins Book 1

Nath reads the first Spawn: Origins collection and makes his case for Spawn being an underrated superhero

Remember Soul Calibur 2? Probably a game played by many of us for many years, highly competitive, especially with friends. If you had the Gamecube version, you got to play as Link and if you had the Playstation 2 version, you got to play as Heihachi Mishima. Can anyone remember what character was Xbox version specific? Spawn. This was the first time I had ever heard of this comic book character, but I was intrigued to find out more.

Please note that this article contains spoilers.


The first Spawn: Origins book collects the original story of Spawn and how he came to be. Al Simmons, a black ops soldier, is killed by the CIA and sent to hell as he killed many innocent individuals whilst he was working for them.

He makes a deal with Malebolgia, lord of the eighth level of hell to see his wife Wanda again. However, Malebolgia sends Al Simmons back to earth as Spawn, a demonic creature with little memory of his former life. He was also sent back to earth 5 years later, Wanda has remarried Al’s best friend Terry and they have a child together, Cyan, something that Al was unable to give Wanda.

What a back story. A man killed by his old team and makes a deal with the devil thinking everything would be fine. Whilst he is trying to remember his past, he becomes an anti-hero of the city, protecting the bums and tramps he lives with, as well as hurting and killing street thugs and murderers, with an arsenal of powers at his disposal, albeit when he uses his powers, he gets closer and closer to death.


It’s safe to say that Spawn is an absolutely brilliant comic book creation. Created by Todd MacFarlane (no relation to Seth MacFarlane) in the early 90’s, and released by Image Comics (co-founded by MacFarlane) it became one of their flagship comics during that time, the first issue selling 1.7 millions copies. It was so popular that a feature film was created in 1997 starring Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite and The Dark Knight as Gambol) and even though is didn’t get that great reviews, I still enjoyed it.

There have even been some crossovers with other titles such as Batman and Deadpool, however there is a question that has been on my mind for a while. Is Spawn a truly underrated superhero? A hero with a very troubled back story and powers that are far greater than many modern day heroes. Surely Spawn deserves some time in the sun once again.

We’ve had Guardians of the Galaxy, we’ve got Doctor Strange and Black Panther coming out soon, surely we can have another Spawn movie. Remember those awful Joel Schumacher Batman movies? (apart from Jim Carrey as the Riddler and to some degree Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face). The Batman franchise was completely revamped by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight being the best one of the lot.

In my opinion, Spawn is a very underrated superhero. I have re-read Origins Volume 1 as I finally got my hands on Origins Volume 2 (after many years of searching) and I will continue buying these volumes until the end. I truly believe this anti-hero of bums of tramps deserves another shot. Seeing as this is the age of comic book to screen transitions, I’m hoping we see something very soon.

Spawn4As for Spawn: Origins Volume 1, which includes the back story above, as well as the introduction of certain villains, my personal favourite is the Violator. The volume includes issues 1-12 and they are all fantastic reads, from the origin, Billy Kincaid and Overt-Kill. The artwork is incredible too, some small pieces scattered across the pages, but some incredible double feature pages that requires you to actually look over it like a masterpiece instead of casually glancing over the page.

I am genuinely excited to start reading Volume 2. Hopefully I will find out more to Spawn’s back story as he tried to uncover the remnants of his troubled past. I’d give Volume 1 10 Heart Ripping Demons out of 10. A truly fantastic read and a great set up for this incredible superhero.

Comic Review – Paper Girls #5 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. He missed reviewing them while he tries to write up his PhD thesis, so every other week he’ll be reviewing of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week the first arc of Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Paper Girls came to a close with issue #5. The series started back in October last year, written by Vaughan and drawn  by Chiang, with colours from Matt Wilson (who apparently colours all the books I read) and letters and design by Jared K. Fletcher.

Paper Girls started fairly innocuously. In the early morning after Halloween 1988, 12-year-old Erin meets three fellow paper girls. What began as a reasonably normal night quickly spins out of control into an other-worldly sci-fi adventure involving gleaming futuristic knights mounted on pteranodons, time travel and accidental gun violence. Erin, Mac, KJ and Tiffany find themselves in an emptied suburban landscape where they dash between different supernatural occurrences, trying to figure out where everyone is and what is going on.

When Paper Girls was first announced, I immediately added it to my pull list entirely due to the creative team. Everything I’ve read by Brian K. Vaughan has been at least excellent. At least. And following his superb run on Wonder Woman with Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang has become one of my favourite artists too. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the series, but the off-the-wall sci-fi leanings that arose at the end of the first issue came as a welcome surprise. From that point on there has been no hand-holding for the reader, leaving us as bewildered and rushed off our feet as the four friends who find themselves dealing with the tech-augmented travelers spouting strange alien speech (I tried using a translation app on the language. Shockingly it did not work).

Paper girlsWhile this approach is initially confusing (and I certainly won’t pretend to know fully what is going even now), it ultimately comes across as strong, non-patronising storytelling from Vaughan. Erin and her friends are all compelling and brave, and their mysterious sci-fi antagonists are intriguing. The conclusion to this first arc adds a fun new wrinkle to the already disorientating situation the girls find themselves in, with the series actually improving with each issue (the time travel considerations with regards to position in space in the opening pages were great) and I can’t want to see what’s coming for the next part in a few months.

The art in Paper Girls is superb, and this new issue is absolutely no exception. Chiang deploys his thick, and minimalist line work to great effect, with grotesque body horror, huge sci-fi panels and rare quiet moments that show off very real emotion between the characters, despite their situation. Throughout the arc one of the most impactful visuals has been the eerie night sky above the suburb, forked with lightning and slowly filling up with more pteranodons, but the two pages of explosion and displacement that lead our heroines to the end of the arc are just gorgeous. Wilson’s colours provide a really strong solidity to the book, with the washed out palette he’s using working to create an aged aesthetic that lends credence to the late-80s setting of the comic.

Paper Girls wraps up it’s first arc well, despite the mysteries of the book largely being no clearer than they were from the start. I have no idea where the story is going with the second arc, and that genuinely excites me. The first five issues are being collected as a trade paperback from Image, due to come out on April 13th. If you can’t track down the single issues, either check out the trade or grab the issues through your digital comics app!

Score: 9 iNsecs out of 10

Adam’s Top 5 Comics of 2015

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to be sharing our top 5s of 2015, from everyone who writes here at The Lost Lighthouse. This time Adam will go through his favourite 5 comics of the year.

I’m taking a quick break from the depths of writing my PhD thesis to write about some of the things I actually cared about this year. For my final top five I’m ranking my favourite comics released in 2015. Comics are one of the few things I still manage to put a lot of time (and money) into, making a trip to my LCS every Wednesday for new comic book day. I read a lot of really excellent series, with new ones starting all the time. This year I’ve experienced a real shift from DC to Marvel, trying out and sticking with many new series of the latter before and after Marvel’s summer event ‘Secret Wars’, while dropping a large number of DC books – I’m now down to about 5 monthly books from them. But as this list will reflect, I tend to read more Image books than anything else these days.

A warning now, there may be a few spoilers along the way. If you get to a title and aren’t necessarily up to date with it, read on only if you don’t mind finding out the odd plot detail. In particular for my number 2.

5. Justice League – Geoff Johns & Jason Fabok (DC Comics)


Justice League is one of the few DC titles I have consistently picked up since the start of DC’s New 52 back in 2011. Geoff Johns has been writing the book since issue #1, delivering the sort of blockbuster superhero action you’d expect from the title. The artist has changed every few arcs on the book, and since the end of last year Jason Fabok has taken over as the main artist. The previous arc ‘The Amazo Virus’ was decent, possibly one of the weaker plots of the last couple of years (certainly not due to the art). However, the current story ‘The Darkseid War’ has been superb, and more importantly has given Fabok the chance to really let loose with his art, not just with excellent superhero action but with huge god Vs god action between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor. His action sequences are superb and relentless, while not falling down when it comes to facial work like many action-orientated artists do.

The story is moving in to its second act this week, with the various members of the Justice League converted to various New God status. A real positive for the series has been seeing the story through the eyes and narration of Wonder Woman, while she leads the remaining Leaguers in a desperate battle while gods wage war on Earth. Justice League makes my list because it is one of the series I look forward to most whenever it comes out, and always goes to the top of my reading stack.


4. The Fade Out – Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser (Image Comics)


The Fade Out started near the end of last year, and wraps up it’s 12 issue run next week. Created by long time collaborators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the series is a Hollywood crime noir set in the late 1940s. The Fade Out deals with the murder of Hollywood starlet Valeria Sommers, and follows writer Charlie Parish as he tries to piece together his fractured and drunken memory to figure out who is responsible for her death and why. It’s very different to what I would normally read, but I’m so glad I picked it up.

Brubaker creates an interesting noir mystery and it is clear that plenty of research and care has gone into making sure the era feels right for both the setting, story and dialogue. The same can be said for Phillips’s art, with the style and characters feeling very 1940s, so they all really standing out. A bonus to the whole package are the back up articles from Devin Faraci in every issue, dealing with a different star or theme of old Hollywood. It’s really fascinating stuff. I’ll really miss this series when it’s finished, and will be re-reading it all when the final issue is out to see what I missed.


3. Southern Bastards – Jason Aaron & Jason Latour (Image Comics)


Another Image series that started back in 2014 that continues to go to the top of my reading stack whenever it comes out is the brutal Southern Bastards, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Jason Latour. This is a fucking mean book. Set in Craw County, Alabama, Southern Bastards revolves around Coach Boss and his football team the Runnin’ Rebs, state champions that essentially run the town. The arc that has run through this year has largely focused on fleshing out Boss and his various violent cronies, presumably before we return to the plot moving forward in the new year.

Aaron’s writing is incredibly dark, I tend to feel fairly bummed out after each issue full of terrible people doing terrible things, but it is so well written and compelling. Latour’s art is brilliant, bringing this world to life and imbuing it with a dirty feel and colour palette. Everything in Craw County is ugly, and that includes the people. I can’t wait to see how low this series goes in 2016.


2. Thor/The Mighty Thor – Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman (Marvel Comics)


Another one from Jason Aaron, but this time decidedly less bleak. I jumped on to the Thor ongoing series during all the fuss over “Thor being turned into Lady Thor” and the huge amount of internet bullshit that followed that announcement that essentially boils down to people being afraid of change, of giving compelling stories a chance rather than knee jerk reactions and being unaware that if comic book companies only cater to the currently relatively small readership prices will continue to rise until the industry dies. And I don’t want that. I like comics. The storm in a teacup followed on from Thor as we know him, the Odinson, becoming unworthy to wield Mjolnir. In his place, a mysterious female picks up the hammer, and starts to use it more skillfully than even the Odinson. He spends a large amount of the first run leading up to Secret Wars trying to figure out her identity, which is revealed to be the cancer-stricken Jane Foster. And using the hammer is rendering her treatments ineffective, so being a hero is slowly killing her.

The story is tightly weaved and incredibly enjoyable, with really top notch plot and character work from Jason Aaron. Dauterman’s art is superb though, and probably the series’s main selling point for me at this stage. There are huge action splashes that are breathtaking to behold, and the cosmic and otherworldly elements and characters of the Nine Realms have looked great so far. When this series wrapped up for Secret Wars I was disappointed, but then delighted to hear that the same team was returning for the continuation after the summer event with The Mighty Thor. The issues so far from that I feel have been even better than the pre-Secret Wars material.

And calm down nerds. Eventually Odinson will be Thor again (in fact there is a fairly large hint in a Secret Wars tie in that we may be looking at having two Thors, which makes me happy as Jane Foster as Thor is great), Steve Rogers will be Cap again (it is his 75th Anniversary in 2016…) and I don’t really know or care what is happening with the Hulk. Just enjoy the stories. Or piss off. Either way do it quietly so the rest of us can read our comics in peace.


1. Black Science – Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera (Image Comics)


Big Image bias in this list isn’t there? My favourite series of the year is the extremely high concept sci fi Black Science, written by Rick Remender and beautifully drawn by Matteo Scalera. Starting back in late 2013, Black Science focuses on a group of alternative scientists pushing the boundaries of conventional research, led by Grant McKay, formerly of the Anarchist Order of Scientists. Their project, ‘The Pillar’, breaches into different dimensions, but someone sabotages it. It’s stuck jumping across different worlds – dragging everyone that was present along with it, including the other scientists and Grant’s kids Pia and Nate.

The story has jackknifed through gorgeous worlds, deadly worlds, diseased worlds and the slowly dwindling cast of characters has had to interact with multiple versions of themselves in various realities. And while that is all pretty high concept and mind-bending, the latest arc ‘Godworld’ is utterly insane. Remender’s writing is complex and layered, with excellent and dark character work and intelligent science fiction that commands your attention. Scalera’s artwork renders Black Science as one of the most consistently superb looking books on the stands every month. The worlds he brings to life are just stunning.

The latest part of Godworld is due out next week with issue #19, and I’ll probably read it on the tube on the way home. And it will probably be weird, and anyone sitting next to me will be deeply confused and terrified. And I don’t care.

Comic Review – We Stand On Guard #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I picked up We Stand On Guard #1, the first issue of a new series that I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced at Image Expo a while back. It was written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Steve Skroce, with colours by Matt Hollingsworth and letters from Fonografiks.

We Stand on Guard  opens in a home in Canada, 2112, as Amber, her older brother Tommy and their parents look on in horror as the news shows the aftermath of a terrorist attack on US soil. As they guess at which country or domestic group is responsible, the bombs start to fall. Whether Canada or a Canadian group was behind the attack or not, America has responded swiftly with unbelievable force directly aimed at civilian populations. Before they even have time to run the house is ripped apart, and with their parents dead, Amber and Tommy are left to fend for themselves in the face of an occupying US force.

12 years later, Amber is alone in the snowy Canadian wilderness trying to survive. She is set upon by a canine-like mech with a US military brand, but before it finishes her off she is saved by a group of freedom fighters known as the ‘Two-Four’. Despite not trusting her, the group patches her up and then sets into motion a plan to bring down a colossal mech stomping above the forest. By the end of the skirmish, Amber has proven herself to those skeptical of her motives, and as a position tragically opens up, she is welcomed into the ranks of the Two Four.

The first few pages of We Stand on Guard are incredibly visceral, playing up the panic and rushed confusion following a surprise attack that seems so over the top that it looks more like the start of an alien invasion than the opening salvos of a war between two democratic nations. The gut punch and tragedy immediately cools to the post-war world, with Vaughan shifting gears expertly to a situation where dedicated men and women are now fighting in a war that they lost as soon as it began. The set up and plot are great here, even if the character work is a little light. I find new series tend to choose one or the other, plot or character depth, for their opening issue and usually it is those that open big on plot and tease what development will come for their characters that are the stories that will have me coming back for more. Vaughan presents a compelling tale that almost reads like revisionist history transplanted into a near future sci-fi setting, and there are huge mech walkers so really what more could you ask for?

Skroce is given plenty of opportunity to display his range in this first issue, and doesn’t disappoint at all. The opening scenes are intense and at points grotesque (the gore and the overly puffed up and bruised faces immediately reminded me of Chris Burnham’s work), and the desolate wilderness is beautiful as the cold weather almost seems to clash with the cold appearance of the US drone machines. The colour work from Hollingsworth finishes this off perfectly (I think I’ve gone on about Matt Hollingsworth being one of my favourite colourists before), giving the book a hard and chilling edge.

We Stand On Guard is off to a strong start, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about Amber, Tommy and the Two-Four, and what this band of freedom fighters can actually do in the face of total and complete occupation by a faceless and brutal US army. Check this one out at your LCS or download it digitally now!

Score: 8 Oh Canadas out of 10

Comic Review – Beyond Belief #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I picked up The Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Beyond Belief #1, the second comic based on characters from The Thrilling Adventure Hour stage show and podcast (I reviewed Sparks Nevada a while back). I discovered TAH a few months ago, mainlined all of the episodes and caught up pretty much just in time for the announcement that they were doing their last ever shows, and while there would be a few months more of podcasts of those shows, it was ending. Despite only recently jumping on the bandwagon, I found this pretty devastating. Sparks Nevada and Beyond Belief have effectively been my soundtrack for the last several months of lab work, so I may have to start back at the beginning! Regardless, the two comic series being published by Image Comics offer a way of continuing these stories, and telling them in new ways that may not have worked on stage. As with the show itself, Beyond Belief was written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, with pencils by Phil Hester, inks by Erik Gapstur and Ande Parks, colours by Mauricio Wallace and letters from Marshall Dillon.

If this is your first experience of Beyond Belief, all you really need to know is that Frank and Sadie Doyle are a married couple of mediums, who love to drink (very nearly as much as they love each other) and keep getting called upon for help with various supernatural occurrences. In this first issue, Sadie’s friend Donna moves in to a haunted house, and calls up Sadie to come and help. Frank reluctantly agrees to come along, even though he only recently went out (I empathise a great deal with Frank Doyle’s penchant for whisky and opposition to leaving the house). There they encounter creepy possessed dolls and spirits enraged by the voices of the house, driving them to kill. Frank and Sadie have to figure out what is causing the haunting, and how to deal with it to rescue Donna in time for her house warming party (it is the house’s warming, as Sadie points out).

As with Sparks Nevada, the fact that the creators of the stage show Acker and Blacker are both writing this Beyond Belief comic means that tonally it is spot on for what fans of the show have come to expect. Again, the strength of the dialogue especially meant that I read every word in the voices of Paget Brewster and Paul F. Tompkins, with the back and forth sardonic wit that oozes from both characters. The plot is a fairly standard haunted house affair, that is elevated by how Frank and Sadie react and talk.

Sadie – “Once a patch of land gets a taste of human blood, it can become thirsty for it.”

Frank – “I’m the same way, but for whiskey.”

Hester’s art is really strong here, with great almost period-style garb for the pair, expressive action and ethereal looking ghosts. However, I think his pencils are given more opportunity to shine in the #0 issue that is included in this book. It doesn’t take anything away from the ghosts in the #1, but in that prequel/first meeting issue the monster looks just that little bit more impressive and terrifying. The inks from Gapstur are really heavy and thick, which works extremely well for a ghost story, and the colours from Wallace look very nice, especially for the two attacking spirits in the end of the issue.

I think the only danger with this book is that while it is a good stand alone ghost story, you will get much more out of it if you listen to the podcast. There is plenty to enjoy, but having heard Brewster and Tompkins deliver hours of dialogue leaves you with an expectation of delivery in every line, so the humour that may otherwise not land or be missed will be picked up because it still feels like the lines have been written for them. I really enjoyed Beyond Belief #1, and will be following up on this series. If you are already an Adventurekateer, then you probably already know you’ll enjoy this. If you like a fun, very well drawn ghost story then pick this up. If you haven’t checked out The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast, absolutely do it because there is hours of excellent comedy there. Then read this. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally now!

Score: 8 Clinks! out of 10