Before playing Lennon to Stan Lee’s McCartney, Jacky Kirby teamed with writer/artist Joe Simon to create a legacy that included Captain America, the rBefore playing Lennon to Stan Lee’s McCartney, Jacky Kirby teamed with writer/artist Joe Simon to create a legacy that included Captain America, the romance comic, and numerous other creations. The latest volume of Titan’s handsome, full color collections of the duo’s collaborative works features horror tales from Black Magic and The Strange World of Your Dreams. The former enjoyed a 33 issue run from 1950-1954 (though it was later resurrected years later with #34, but sans Simon/Kirby) and the latter beginning in 1952 for a scant 4 issues, a rare business failure for the pair. Simon and Kirby did not work on every story in either title but rather employed a small group of artists which included the amazing Mort Meskin and Bruno Premiani. Though Kirby did draw the majority of the tales, he often just contributed the splash page with others providing the rest of the story. This volume reproduces and restores every story from the two series that contained any Kirby art.
The stories themselves rise above much of the muck, some just below the era’s horror gold standard EC. Perhaps the volume’s biggest flaw lies not with the largely excellent stories but rather with the scant historical data. Series editor Steve Saffel penned the introduction that offers some interesting background material, but acknowledging the credits to other artists when known (or even suspected) would certainly have enhanced the project. Even with that minor quibble, The Simon and Kirby Library: Horror successfully encapsulates this lesser known epoch of Kirby’s impressive output and should be part of every well stocked comics library....more
The largely mediocre and often ignoble vision of Superman currently offered in the regularly produced DC comics and the recent Man of Steel movie, disThe largely mediocre and often ignoble vision of Superman currently offered in the regularly produced DC comics and the recent Man of Steel movie, disappoints many a fan. Thankfully, Adventures of Superman Volume One manages to restore some of the classic character’s lost luster. A collection of direct-to-web tales, these short Superman stories showcase some magnificent talent, while recalling a time when the hero was, well, more heroic, and displayed far more humanity.
While the majority are quite good, a few stories in particular stand out. “Fortress” by Jeff Lemire follows two boys as they take turns playing Superman and his arch-villains. Matt Kindt and Stephen Segovia deliver parallel stories of a day in the lives of Superman and Lois Lane in “Faster Than A Bullet.” While “A Day In The Life” by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Wes Craig recounts a typical day for Lex Luthor, complete with an employee firing and plans on how to kill Superman. Rob Williams and Chris Weston demonstrate Superman’s compassion in “Savior.” Adventures of Superman Volume One reminds us why Superman has survived as a popular character for 75 years....more
Suzie always thought she was unique. When she orgasms, Suzie stops time. Then she met Jon, who experiences the same phenomenon. After numerous humorouSuzie always thought she was unique. When she orgasms, Suzie stops time. Then she met Jon, who experiences the same phenomenon. After numerous humorous and sexy encounters, they fall in love. The duo decide to use their powers for the obvious thing. They rob banks. It’s then that Suzie and Jon learn they aren’t as unique as they once thought.
Fraction, well known for his excellent, quirky takes on Hawkeye, largely tackles the potentially controversial proceedings with aplomb, skill, and laughter. Zdarsky’s often surreal illustrations mesh effortlessly with the writing. Initially recalling the romantic elements of Ken Grimwood’s classic novel Replay, Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick sadly stumbles during its final third with the inclusion of stereotypical comic book tropes....more
An unexpected take on the intelligent, gun-toting gorilla trope, Six-Gun Gorilla delivers a biting commentary on pop culture and the sycophantic naturAn unexpected take on the intelligent, gun-toting gorilla trope, Six-Gun Gorilla delivers a biting commentary on pop culture and the sycophantic nature of reality television. In the 22nd century, Earth colonizes a mysterious world known as “The Blister.” As often happens, a civil war breaks out but unlike previous such incursions, the action is played out live on vidscreens for the entertainment of the Earth’s populace. Implanted with recording devices, blue coats, Earthers wanting to die, fight against the rebels. One such suicidal soldier goes rogue and joins up with a unique companion: a bio-surgically modified silverback gorilla.
Using this backdrop, Spurrier adroitly explores the confluence of the past and present, haves and have-nots, the observed and the observers, and violence and pacifism. Newcomer Stokely stylistically and expertly renders the proceedings. The highly recommended Six-Gun Gorilla offers a clever and diverting piece science fiction/western entertainment....more
After a freak accident, thirteen year-old Mary Von Rathen begins to lean at a 45 degree angle. After nothing fixes her affliction, her selfish motherAfter a freak accident, thirteen year-old Mary Von Rathen begins to lean at a 45 degree angle. After nothing fixes her affliction, her selfish mother and hen-pecked father send her away to a private school. Shortly after, Mary runs away and quite literally joins the circus where she remains for several years, performing her amazing leaning girl act. A newspaper editor tells her of a scientist, Axel Wappendorf, who is planning on a journey to a planet that might unlock the secret behind Mary’s trouble. Interspersed within Mary’s tale, is the story of fine artist Augustin Desombres, who escapes from his busy world and buys an empty building on the French countryside. He begins painting murals of strange globes and worries about his sanity. Mary’s and Wappendorf’s explorations bring them into a collision course with Desombres and hopefully the answers that Mary’s seeks.
Part of the legendary Obscure Cities sequence, this extraordinary French graphic novel serves as an ideal introduction to the long running series produced by writer Peeters and artist Schuiten. Expertly employing the tropes of 19th century science fiction, the duo’s creation achieves the unique duality of both very familiar and very different. Schuiten’s exquisite line work pairs perfectly with Peeters’ prose in creating the mythical worlds, outlandish ideas, and commonplace people. Further enhancing the work’s uniqueness is the Fumetti style of Desombres’ story as envisioned by the black & white photography of Plissart. The riveting, beautiful Leaning Girl fascinates, while providing one of the best reading experiences of the year....more
In the near future, a clone of Jesus stars in the reality show J2. After an American Idol-style determination process, the young virgin Gwen is implanIn the near future, a clone of Jesus stars in the reality show J2. After an American Idol-style determination process, the young virgin Gwen is implanted with a fetus grown from genetic material supposedly cobbled together from the fabled Shroud of Turin, and gives birth to the childhood on live TV. Troubled, former IRA operative Thomas McKae protects the newborn and his mother from various attacks, primarily spearheaded by religious fanatics. As the conflicted Chris, the name chosen by Gwen for her child, ages, he grapples with his televised reality. The teen "messiah" eventually joins a punk rock band in an attempt to construct his own destiny. Murphy's scratchy, Ralph Steadman-influenced art and his Hunter Thompson-infused script further enhance the alternative and edgy subject. Similar to the best of punk music, the tale overcomes the seeming rough edges, revealing a better understanding of the world around us. Blasphemous, irreverent and full of violent imagery, Murphy's brilliant, heretical Punk Rock Jesus expertly examines the role of religion in our technological-driven 21st century society....more
The denizens of Safe Haven prepared for all sorts of world ending catastrophes except the one from their own children. Subtitled “A Pre-Apocalyptic TaThe denizens of Safe Haven prepared for all sorts of world ending catastrophes except the one from their own children. Subtitled “A Pre-Apocalyptic Tale,” Sheltered delivers a tense quasi-thriller of a what happens when the youth of a doomsday society bring their parents’ ideas to their logical and scary conclusion. Fearing a seemingly impending volcanic eruption that will engulf the Earth into three years of constant darkness, Lucas devices and implements a plan to wipe out two-thirds of the colony and thus ensuring enough supplies to weather the catastrophe. Of course, not all of the survivors agree with his position and a Lord of the Flies situation begins to emerge. Brisson, who has written comics for a smattering of publishers—big and small, produces an entertaining and cohesive story with many different, distinctive characters. Newcomer Christmas enhances the script with a subtle line. After a rocky start, the art dramatically improves throughout. Sadly, the generally excellent Sheltered, Volume One ends mid-scene with little resolution of the various subplots, leaving the reader unfulfilled and disappointed....more
Deep beneath the ocean in a huge hidden bunker, a group of scientists gather to investigate a new humanoid life. The creature escapes and wreaks havocDeep beneath the ocean in a huge hidden bunker, a group of scientists gather to investigate a new humanoid life. The creature escapes and wreaks havoc. But unlike similarly themed monster stories, the duo of Snyder and Murphy manage to elevate the concept into a unique story that goes into some rather unexpected and satisfying directions. Snyder, perhaps best known for American Vampire, Vol. 1 and his work on the Batman titles, melds the best elements of science fiction and horror, somehow creating something that is both familiar and different. The creator of the extraordinary Punk Rock Jesus, Murphy once again demonstrates his ability to produce images, scary and beautiful, all while successfully conveying Snyder’s non-linear plot. While largely a complete story unto its own, The Wake Part One leaves the reader hungering for future volumes....more
Writer Vehlmann and the husband and wife artist team Kerascoët magnificently twist the classic children’s story The Borrowers into a dark allegoricalWriter Vehlmann and the husband and wife artist team Kerascoët magnificently twist the classic children’s story The Borrowers into a dark allegorical tale. Seemingly abandoned in a forest, princess Aurora and friends struggle for survival against creatures, both real and magical, and each other. Vehlmann and Kerascoët successfully incorporate well known elements of fairy tales—fey princesses, a noble prince, talking creatures, giants, little people, and witches—to great effect in their anti-fairy tale. The duo reveals and revels in the demented underbelly of the fairy tale: cannibalism, mutilation, deceit, and more. Kerascoët’s amazing watercolors portray a lush world that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. The multi-layered Beautiful Darkness expertly provides an intelligent and nuanced view of the consensus reality....more
Kazu Kibuishi's follow-up anthology to the award-winning Flight series, Explorer continues in much the same vein except now each volume features a looKazu Kibuishi's follow-up anthology to the award-winning Flight series, Explorer continues in much the same vein except now each volume features a loose conglomeration of stories under a common theme. The first book centered around mysterious boxes and offered much the same quality of the previous series. While still relying on his regular cadre of talented contributors, the second and newest collection, Explorer: The Lost Islands fails to measure up to the standard of its predecessors. Even though every story is beautiful rendered, the often lackluster writing fails in execution and often feels forced into the theme. Of the seven stories, only three memorable tales emerge: the clever "Desert Island Playlist" by Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier; the gorgeous and poetic "Loah" by Michael Gagné; and the humorous "Radio Adrift" by the brother and sister team of Katie and Steven Shanahan....more
The Black Beetle Volume 1: No Way Out (Dark Horse) collects Francesco Francavilla's brilliant neo-pulp. Clad all in black save for red eyepieces and aThe Black Beetle Volume 1: No Way Out (Dark Horse) collects Francesco Francavilla's brilliant neo-pulp. Clad all in black save for red eyepieces and a red chest insignia, the mysterious Black Beetle battles Nazis, super villains, and even the police on the streets of Colt City, an obvious paean to Will Eisner's Spirit. Drawing inspiration from The Shadow, The Spider, and their ilk plus artists such as Eisner, Alex Toth, and Darwyn Cooke, Francavilla produces a dazzling new addition for the long heroic legacy of the pulp....more
In the 18th century, forty-seven masterless samurai masterminded a secret plot, spanning over two years, to avenge the death of their master. ClaimingIn the 18th century, forty-seven masterless samurai masterminded a secret plot, spanning over two years, to avenge the death of their master. Claiming to be the first historically accurate graphic novel accounting of the famed event, The 47 Ronin explores the deeply rooted Japanese engagement with honor, loyalty, sacrifice, and above all else, the bushido. Writer Sean Michael Wilson, editor of the groundbreaking Ax: Alternative Manga, and artist Akiko Shimojima stumble their way through the iconic tale. Both the script and illustrations, which suffer from brevity, often obfuscate rather than clarify. As a testament to the strength of the legend, The 47 Ronin overcomes these faults and ultimately proves a fascinating read....more
The early adventures of Marvel's god of thunder receive a new interpretation, courtesy of writer Matthew Sturges and artist Pepe Larraz, in Thor: SeasThe early adventures of Marvel's god of thunder receive a new interpretation, courtesy of writer Matthew Sturges and artist Pepe Larraz, in Thor: Season One. Obviously created as marketing opportunity surrounding the impending release of Thor: The Dark World, the duo successfully merges the disparate movie and comic book visions into an interesting and entertaining composite that recounts Thor's earliest days on Earth. Sturges's well-crafted story, punctuated with lighter, comedic moments, recalls the finer moments from the legendary Walt Simonson run of the 1980s. While the excellent Larraz's art looks nothing like Jack Kirby's work, several of his images appear to pay homage to the character's co-creator's influential work....more
Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) lead an extraordinary life at the forefront of the civil rights. With the aid of co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist NateCongressman John Lewis (GA-5) lead an extraordinary life at the forefront of the civil rights. With the aid of co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, Lewis recounts his early life as a sharecropper's son, his first meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the formation of the Nashville Student Movement. Powell expertly portrays the important personal -- stories that include Lewis' childhood obsession with chickens -- and historical -- the terrifying moments of the nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins and others -- events. Far more than an autobiography, March: Book One, told in a series of unforgettable vignettes, relives a shameful era of institutionalized racism, the struggles for change, and the brave people involved....more
Sometime in the late 80s, the already legendary Malcolm McLaren, musician, impresario, visual artist, performer, clothes designer and boutique owner,Sometime in the late 80s, the already legendary Malcolm McLaren, musician, impresario, visual artist, performer, clothes designer and boutique owner, contacted Alan Moore about working on a movie project. After discussing several ideas (including Surf Nazis which featured an aboriginal hero with the ability to summon waves and an Oscar Wilde in the Wild West tale that somehow morphs into the story of a 19th century female performer in the mode of the 20th century Madonna), they settled on Fashion Beast, an amalgamation of the life of Christian Dior and "Beauty and the Beast," both the fable and the haunting Jean Cocteau adaptation. Moore completed the screenplay but it was never filmed. Avatar publisher William Christensen discovered a copy of the screenplay and asked to convert the story into a comic.
Writer Antony Johnston converted the story into a more comics-friendly format and Facundo Percio handled the art chores. The artist deftly enhanced the lurid and at times disturbing near future tale.
After losing her job as a coat checker at a trendy club, the androgynous Doll literally stumbles into a modeling job for a reclusive designer. Moore and McLaren delve into the warped perceptions of the fashion industry, while society literally crumbles. The fears of Thatcher's conservative late 80s England sadly still resonate with the 21st century reader. The reality of a decaying society with the poor being crushed under the weight of the super rich and privileged remains a very real reality.
The graphic novel reads much like a typical 80s Alan Moore piece, complete with the obvious tropes and in your face symbolism. And much like that decade's work, the compelling Fashion Beast toys with ideas and concepts that simultaneously thrill, terrify, and intrigue....more
By the end of the 1980s, Frank Miller reigned as one of the most respected creators within comics. Not surprisingly given the similarities between theBy the end of the 1980s, Frank Miller reigned as one of the most respected creators within comics. Not surprisingly given the similarities between the mediums, he soon received opportunities to work in film.
Miller's big opportunity arrived with Robocop 2. The first Robocop movie, a low budget sf actioneer directed by the then virtually unknown Paul Verhoeven, proved wildly popular. Due to a writer's strike, the studio contacted Miller, fresh from his success of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and hired him to write the sequel. His screenplay was considered "unfilmable" and Miller removed from the project. Only pieces survived through the numerous re-writes and into the universally disliked movie. The original screenplay attained an almost "urban legend" status. In the early 2000s, Avatar Press publisher William Christensen, who owned a copy, contacted Miller about a comic adaptation. Originally published as the nine issue mini-series Frank Miller's Robocop from Avatar (2003-2006), Boom Studios collects the entire story as Robocop Volume 1.
Since Miller lacked the time to write or draw the comic, veteran writer Steven Grant and artist Juan José Ryp (best known for Alan Moore's Another Suburban Romance) oversaw the project. Miller and Grant successfully create an intriguing tale of despair and loss that further humanizes our hero Murphy only to tragically strip away at his essence. At times beautiful, Ryp's cluttered and chaotic art degrades the tale, often making sequences unreadable. While the flawed, über-violent story only shallowly touches on the important issues of law enforcement, drug use, the poor, and the societal role of corporations, it is by no means "unfilmable." Disappointingly, Robocop Volume 1 offers no introduction or text pieces explaining the story's interesting origins....more
When the first issue of In the Days of the Mob premiered in 1971, Jack Kirby had already achieved legendary status in comics with the creation of CaptWhen the first issue of In the Days of the Mob premiered in 1971, Jack Kirby had already achieved legendary status in comics with the creation of Captain America, The Sandman, The Newsboy Legion, Challengers of the Unknown, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Avengers, and even the romance genre. He left Marvel in 1970 to produce titles for their dread rivals DC. Shortly thereafter, Kirby created two black & white magazines: Spirit World and the above mentioned Mob. Both only lasted one issue. In 2012, DC collected the rare, lone issue of Spirit World along with four stories intended for the unpublished second issue in one volume. Now they've done something similar with In the Days of the Mob.
The handsome hardcover includes the entire first issue, complete with the text pieces and Sergio Aragonés cartoons plus the five comic stories intended for the second issue. In his introduction, John Morrow, editor of The Jack Kirby Collector, relates the tribulations surrounding the second issue. Some of the pages were incomplete or only grainy photocopies existed. Morrow and his team managed to complete the pages with existing Kirby collages and clean up the copies. Ultimately, the volume included the two rarely seen and three never-before-published Kirby tales.
Unlike most of his work during the era, In the Days of the Mob delivers some of the most realistic and non-bombastic work of Kirby's career combined with his always magnificent storytelling. Several of the effective tales rank high among the annuals of crime comics including "Ma's Boys," "Bullets for Big Al," "A Room for Kid Twist," and especially "The Ride!" With the last story, Kirby crafts a disturbing virtuoso of crime fiction with no blood and little violence.
The fantastic In the Days of the Mob reminds that Jack Kirby wasn't just "The King" of superheroes but of all comic book genres....more