Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology comics adaptation returns with a new volume

Recent news release from Dark Horse Comics:

The comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling book, Norse Mythology, will continue from Dark Horse, this coming month of June. Eisner-winning comics writer P. Craig Russell, with artists Matt Horak (The Punisher, The Covenant), Mark Buckingham (Hellblazer, Miracleman), Gabriel Walta (Barbalien: Red Planet, Sentient), Sandy Jarrell (Archie, Meteor Men), and colorist Lovern Kindzierski (The Worst Dudes, The Sandman) will team together for the upcoming six-issue follow-up series, Norse Mythology II.

Explore the origins of poetry—good and bad—in this tale of malicious dwarfs, suspicious giants, and the wise god Kvasir, whose eventual fate leads to the creation of a powerful mead that many will fight and die for.

Also available will be a variant cover for each issue by longtime comics artist, David Mack.

“It has been an absolute delight working with the slate of artists assembled for our adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology,” says Russell in a recent DH press release. “Sending the artists the layouts and then seeing their finished pages come rolling back in, each having brought their own unique artistic vision to the page, has been great fun.”

Norse Mythology II #1 (of six) will arrive in comic shops on June 16, 2021.

David Mack variant cover:

The Whispering Dark creators reimagines World War II with The Secret Land

Interesting news from Dark Horse Comics…

Coming soon, from writer Christofer Emgård and artist Tomás Aira, the creative team duo behind The Whispering Dark, return to Dark Horse comics with a new, upcoming cosmic horror mini-series and fictionalized reimagining of World War II in The Secret Land.

It is 1945, and Hitler is dead. Ben and Katherine are supposed to be together, happy. Instead, Ben fights the war in the Pacific with reckless heroism, believing his fiancée to be dead. However, Katherine lives, undercover aboard a German submarine.

As Ben tries to move on, the US Navy receives a message. The Nazis are plotting their return, powered by strange and foreboding technology in Antarctica. When Ben learns Katherine is there, he knows he must go too.

As war engulfs the edge of the world, Ben and Katherine confront the truth about the boundaries of love, and what lies beyond them.

“Ever since The Whispering Dark I’ve been looking to reprise my collaboration with Tomás, and The Secret Land finally provided the perfect opportunity. This mini-series began life as a pulpy horror tale (it does have both Nazis and tentacles in it…), but at its core it’s really a story about commitment, longing and loss. I feel Tomás has conveyed this beautifully through his evocative art and I hope the readers out there will feel the same.” said Christofer Emgård in a recent press release from Dark Horse Comics.

“Chris’ amazing script hooked me from day one and I was eager to flesh out these characters and continue building this terrifying world. Bringing the Otherlands to life has a strange fascination for me, and often I find myself fearful of the very monsters I’m painting, while adorning their abominable visage with teeth-covered appendices. There’s probably no better place to set up the darkest monsters than in WW2 but this time, humanity has upped the game, I’m rooting for them as I draw them! “ adds Tomás Aira.

The Secret Land #1 (of four) arrives June 9, 2021, at the comic stores everywhere. Emgård and Aira’s previous miniseries, The Whispering Dark is available now in collected trade paperback for $17.99.

COMPASS sets new comics adventure, history, and more for this summer

Image comics recently announced an all-new, five issue miniseries by acclaimed writer/creator Greg Rucka (The Old Guard), writers Robert Mackenzie and Dave Walker (Lazarus Sourcebook) with artist Justin Greenwood (Stumptown, The Fuse, The Last Siege) “to take readers on a breathless journey” in the forthcoming Compass, starting in June.

In Compass, readers meet Shahidah El-Amin, a main character who is many things: scholar, cartographer, astronomer, mathematician, scientist, explorer, adventurer, and—when need be—two-fisted fighter. Setting out from Baghdad’s legendary House of Wisdom during the Islamic Golden Age, Shahi’s quest brings her to 13th-century Britain…where the Welsh are whispered to possess the secret of eternal life. But Shahi’s not the only one after it…

“Compass was born out of our desire to tell a story of discovery without colonialism, of adventure without exploitation—something with the verve and energy of the pulps, but with a perspective that hadn’t been seen much in that genre,” said Mackenzie in a recent press release. “Getting there was its own process of discovery, and it’s been a joy to work with co-creators who have the talent to truly unearth Shahidah‘s quest. I’m so pleased to be able to share Compass with the world.”

“This story has been with Robert and I since our earliest days writing together. We wanted to step into a world that felt definably real—but still with the thrills of haunted ruins, ancient wonders, deadly rivals,” said Walker. “Justin found that world immediately and brought it to life, and Daniela, Simon and Greg have all added their inimitable touches to truly make it something special.”

Greenwood added: “Compass has just the kind of energy and fun that I’d been looking for in a new project. The sense of adventure is palpable in every issue and Shahi is one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever gotten to draw. Compass being a teen book is also a big bonus for me creatively, as my kids are finally getting old enough to read comics too. I’ve always enjoyed this type of pulpy action comic but being able to share it with my family is a new and gratifying experience. Very excited to share what this talented creative team has been cooking up.”

“I fell in love with Dave and Robert’s idea the moment they shared it with me. I love stories rooted in historical truth, in facts that have somehow been overlooked or—more frequently, I think—ignored in favor of another, more ‘traditional’ narrative,” said Rucka. “As much as Compass is an action-adventure with all of those wonderful pulp elements I adore, its engine is personal and intimate, ultimately about the friendship between two very impressive, very capable women from two very different backgrounds. As soon as I realized that, I knew Justin was the only artist who could deliver what Dave and Robert were after. I’m very proud to claim a very small part in making this book come to life.”

Compass #1)will be available at comic book shops and digitally across many digital platforms, on Wednesday, June 16th.

Here’s a four page preview in the meantime:

Thanks to Image Comics for the preview, visit imagecomics.com for more!.

Lady Mechanika returns to comic stores and, and raise steampunk brows

Recently announced, the fan-favorite steampunk adventure series by comic artist and storyteller Joe Benitez, Lady Mechanika will return with in 2021 with a new publisher, Image Comics. The adventure begins anew with a special Free Comic Book Day 2021 edition of her first appearance for participating comic shops on Saturday, August 14. Then, a new Lady Mechanika story series launching this September, also from Image Comics.

Lady Mechanika follows the story of a young woman during the Victorian Era who is desperately in search of the secrets to her past—a past that left her with extraordinary, but unnatural, mechanical limbs. Lady Mechanika publishing run began in 2010, carried on with multiple mini series, all then self published by its creator Joe Benitez.

The entire backlist of Lady Mechanika will be made available from Image Comics too, beginning this August with the long anticipated reprints of the volume one trade paperback and hardcover editions. These reprints will join a total of seven trade paperbacks and five hardcover editions of the beloved series.

“I’m very excited that Lady Mechanika is moving to Image!” said Benitez in a recent press release from Image Comics. “We hope this move will provide an opportunity to share the series with a new, wider audience, and also give us more time to focus on our creative strengths while letting the experts at Image handle publishing and marketing. We have so many stories to tell, hopefully this will help us get more of them out faster. The next story arc we’re calling ‘The Monster of the Ministry of Hell-th’ will deal with a piece of Lady Mechanika’s haunted past. Check out a preview of the new book in our FCBD issue!”

Eric Stephenson, Publisher & Chief Creative Officer at Image Comics also added: “We’re pleased to welcome Joe back to Image. Joe got his start at Image, as part of Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions, and he has grown into a phenomenal talent over the years. What he has built for himself with Lady Mechanika is truly impressive, and it’s exciting to be part of what comes next for this incredible series.”

The FCBD 2021 edition of Lady Mechanika will include the stand-alone short story “The Demon of Satan’s Alley,” which first introduced Lady Mechanika and her steampunk world (Lady Mechanika #0)—plus a preview of “The Monster of the Ministry of Hell-th,” the newest story by series creator Joe Benitez which will debut this year at Image Comics.

Contact your local FCBD participating comic shop to learn more about these exciting freebies and more and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in FCBD 2021 on Saturday, August 14!

A strange look back at the obscure Black superheroes of the Golden Age

I love comic books, and its long, strange history through its mainstream American publishing. Imperfect, by way of how Black superheroes have developed over the many decades, but in an awesome, positive direction. I am a reader of color, of mixed race complexation, yet often identified as Black because of my darker skin tones and facial features. Yet, I haven’t thought much of my representation throughout my many years of reading. I was more concerned with inclusiveness, being part of the grander designs of those comic book multiverses, and that is enough.

Yet, I ponder over some often said comments on the arguable statement of Marvel’s Black Panther, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, being our first mainstream Black fictional superhero. This is certainly believed, since the recent popular and award-winning Marvel movie brought much attention to this previously mid-tier character of comics. It’s probably true, before I research anything.

When we often think Americanized super-heroes of a top-ten tier, we think the most prominent in this modern age – Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, Wolverine, Hulk. Most of these, have long standing roots dating back through decades of comic book history. All of these have primarily Caucasian appearances, set to their most known popular incarnations.

Since then, we have Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Cyborg, Storm (X-Men), Falcon, Luke Cage, Static Shock, Blade, Black Lightning, and more. All Black and proud, part of a building legacy. And it’s great that we get representation out there for comic readers, especially for those very young and discovering comics for the first time.

In my early years, I discovered my first Black super-hero in the comic pages of 1980s run of The New Teen Titans written by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. He was part of a very super-team where all seemed equal, together, a group of young friends with personal problems and gripes, yet also helping to save their city, planet, universe, and beyond. Part of that team, was Victor Stone, better known as Cyborg – a young African America man who became part machine, resulting from a tragic accident. With that, the powers and strength of an enhanced body, and he can a shoot powerful, sonic energy blast from his arm cannon. Cyborg was awesome, and still is. So, he is my first mainstream Black superhero. Storm of the X-Men follows a close second.

Though my readings and early obsessions with big comic book crossover melodramas, especially Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, Infinity Gauntlet – I would learn of many more black superheroes. I would read many more comic titles from 25 cents bins, and become obsessed with sourcebooks like DC’s Who’s Who, and Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe. Many more of mine favorites include the Black Racer, Bronze Tiger, Vixen, Bishop, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart), and more

So for this Black history month, I looked back to this recent claim that Black Panther was the first black superhero. Black Panther appeared in Fantastic Four #52, released in 1966 as an African king from the fictional land of Wakanda. He would not be well-known for a while in the mainstream until the recent movie. And, he was far from any top favorite super-heroes as I enjoyed those closer to the X-Men and DC Teen Titans more. I liked the costume, and I like panthers, and that was it. I never realized how significant T’Challa really was, until later on as I enjoyed critically acclaimed runs by Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, Reginald Hudlin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. He also showed up in various cartoons, toy shelves, video and board games in the over the last two decades.

Yet, what legacy for Black superheroes, is known before the arrival of our king of Wakanda? Before 1966, to the Golden era of comics of the 1930s to 1950s?

So, I dug through the awesome archive of human history that is our Internet and its many searchable resources. I also picked through some comics history on my shelf including the highly recommended recent book, Invisible Men, The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books, by Ken Quattro. Here are my compiled findings.

The first Black superhero to hit the niche pop culture of early comic books appeared first in 1934 in the Mandrake the Magician. daily newspaper strips. Lothar is Mandrake’s best friend and crimefighting companion, also an African prince of the “Seven Nations” a fictional league of African jungle tribes. His super power was his mighty strength, stamina, and invulnerability to any weapons, and magic. his early appearances had him featured as a servant with poor English skills. His clothing choice was typical of such depictions of a mighty, yet very foreign African man at the time.

Well, Lothar seemed also a bit stereotypical of the African muscleman. manservant (possibly slave as well). Yet, that was far more acceptable and dignified than racist depictions of Blacks in comics of that time. Among the most dubious was “Whitewash” Jones, a young, very minstrelized patriot who joined Captain America’s Sentinels of Liberty in pages of Young Allies, published by Timely Comics in the 1940s (later Atlas Comics, then reborn as Marvel Comics). I don’t count him, or Ebony White (The Spirit, by Will Eisner), or Steamboat (Fawcett’s Captain Marvel series), or any awful racist depictions of the era. They don’t inspire, and held back the potential for better Black superheroes in a time where real life African Americans fought proudly yet segregated, throughout World War II.

I did a bit more digging and found the Red Mask featured in the pages of Best Comics, in 1939 which only lasted four issues, and very short printed. Unlike Lothar, the Red Mark stood alone, featured in his own stories. He wore a simple red mask, and fought bad guys. Weirdly, his skin color changed from cover to cover, and in the pages as well. But, for sure he was an African (edit: correction, not African but likely a Pacific Islander) chief who masqueraded as a heroic masked fighter. Not much else is known.

But then, a real surprise came in 1947 with an obscurity, All Negro Comics – a single-issue, small-press American comic book published, written and drawn solely by African-American writers and artists.

Inside this special issue were multiple stories including “Ace Harlem” was an African-American police detective. The featured superhero was Lion Man, the first Black hero created by a Black man (Geo. J. Evans Jr.). He was “a college-educated African American sent by the United Nations on a mission to a uranium deposit on Africa’s Gold Coast, where he adopted the mischievous orphan Bubba.” Though his character costume was jungle-tribal style attire, it meant to more to inspire black American pride in their African heritage.

Yet, still a jungle-themed man, but with noble intentions at least.

Eventually came Jungle Tales #1-7, released circa 1954 featuring Waku of the Bantu, another African prince protagonist hero who battled sometimes battled supernatural foes. His serialization was part of an anthology of tales published by Atlas Comics (previously Timely Comics, and then soon rebranded as Marvel Comics). Waku was a more developed hero who favored non-violent solutions, yet skilled at martial combat, by writer Don Rico and artist Ogden Whitney. The comic art and storytelling was high quality…

And that pretty much all, ushering in a new Silver Age of comic books to come with the rise of Marvel Comics and the evolution of DC Comics. The Black Panther of Marvel Comics would arrive, though still carrying on the jungle royalty archetype. At least T’Challa wasn’t restricted to a loincloth, and hailed from a nation that was more technologically advanced, yet remained hidden and low-key to prevent the curiosity of outsiders.

The 1970s would play up a new type of African American hero, the urban tough city streets defender with the likes of Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart), Black Goliath, Misty Knight; major players of the Blaxploitation era. Black Vulcan of the Super Friends TV cartoon, I think, was the first Black superhero to hit the mainstream beyond comic books.

Soon after, many more including the New Teen Titan’s Cyborg, where I jumped in. The 90s brought so many more Black superheroes of all types, including African princes to jump back in. Some would get an upgrade and felt more fitting to our modern era. Even Mandrake’s Lothar developed into more in his character reboot alongside Mandrake in the Defenders of Earth animated cartoon and comics. He was still a loyal bodyguard, but described not as an African prince. According to his action figure package lore, he is a “Ninja from the Caribbean.”

So yes, African American and Black superheroes in general share a strange yet developed tradition, which may not have had the best beginnings, but will remain and continue to represent, and be admired and inspire for centuries to come.

Comics Preview: BREAK: RUN, a glow-in-the-dark story, currently offered via Kickstarter

Break: Run

Cartoonist: Nima Afshar
Release Date: Currently part of a Kickstarter campaign ending soon, summer 2021 for campaign backers
Format: Full colour 60-page square-bound comic
Publisher: Three Fold Comics (threefoldcomics.com)
Price: $10 (AUS) for digital, $20 (AUS) for printed via its Kickstarter campaign, which offers more for backers who purchase beyond that. For this crowd-funding campaign, click here.

A post-apocalyptic cyberpunk adventure…

On a deep space colony where nuclear war has already damaged the planet, we find Branko Nourbakhsh and his people trying to find their way. His commanding officer Amon decides to slaughter a mining crew who calls for help, stealing resources in order to help their clan survive. Branko opposes Amon but is unable to stop him.

Ten Years later in the City of Argos, Branko is contacted by an old friend. It’s happening again; he must return. But a bounty has been placed on Branko’s head, he has to get past trackers and bounty hunters. Time is running out.

This is a very ambitious, first full-length glow in the dark comic book graphic novel, using a silkscreen printed technique for separated layers. The experience is further optimized with a ultraviolet black light.

Break: Run‘s creator, writer, artist is Nima Afshar, an Australian cartoonist of cyberpunk, sci-fi, and other imaginative stories. This book is his latest project offered to all through his current Kickstarter.com project, where you can purchase a limited run copy.

Here’s a video explaining more of Break: Run and its creative process:

Here’s a preview of sample pages from break: Run. Nima Afshar offers a larger preview of the first 24 pages at threefoldcomics.com.

Huge thanks to Nima Afshar for providing the information, art, and leads to his great project. Time is running short for his Kickstarter project, so get your copy now if interested!

YA Graphic Novel Preview: Forever Home by Jenna Ayoub

Forever Home

Creator: Jenna Ayoub (writer/artist)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios via their YA Kaboom! imprint Release Date: February 17, 2021
Format: Graphic novel, smaller-sized for younger readers

An all-new story about finding your place and learning to love where you are..

Willow has had a nomadic childhood—with two parents in the military, staying put has become a pipe dream. And when the family arrives at their latest stop— the historic Hadleigh House— Willow encounters something that doesn’t help her chances of finding home…ghosts!

Hadleigh House’s spectral residents have been scaring off would-be homebuyers for decades, and they intend to keep the house to themselves. But Willow’s not about to let some nagging spirits force her to move for the millionth time. As Willow spends time in the house and gains the ghosts’ respect through her own strong will to stay in the house no matter what, they find that all of them belong there. Together, the restless spirits are finally able to find some peace, and Willow finds a home. Then it’s just a matter of convincing Willow’s parents that this old house is the one for them- ghosts included.

Forever Home is a fresh graphic novel for middle grade and younger readers by cartoonist Jenna Ayoub (Adventure Time), from Boom! Studios through its Kaboom! young readers imprint.

Check your local and online comic book stores for availability and order options. Digital version is available at the BOOM! Studios webstore or purchased from content providers, including ComiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Madefire.

Huge thanks to BOOM @ Studios for the following preview. For more on this release and more, visit www.boom-studios.com.

Made in Korea sci-fi comics series explores AI and identity, this Spring

This May of 2021, Image Comics plans to release a new science fiction story six-issue monthly series to comic store shelves, Made In Korea, by writer Jeremy Holt (Virtually Yours, Before Houdini) and artist George Schall (Planet of the Apes, Chasing Echoes).

Made In Korea follows Jesse, the world’s first true A.I. system, on an exciting exploration of what it means to be a family in an age when biological parenthood is no longer a reality.

“As an identical triplet and Korean adoptee, I wanted to explore my own self-exploration of identity through the lens of science-fiction,” said Holt in a recent press release. “I think anyone that is looking for a new take on an artificial intelligence story will thoroughly enjoy what George and I have crafted.”

Schall added: “In a genre that often feels old because of how fast our world evolves, Jeremy has managed to write a story that feels both very personal and relevant to this day. Doesn’t matter if you’re a sci-fi fan or not, there’s something everyone will be able to relate to in this comic.”

Made In Korea #1 is scheduled to hit shelves in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and will be available at comic book shops and popular digital apps on Wednesday, May 26.

In the meantime, here’s a five -page early preview (thanks to Image Comics, visit imagecomics.com):

New Digital Comic Preview: Scribbles #1

Scribbles #1

Writer: LJ Phillips Artist: Andi Fikri
Publisher: The Pulp Press Release Date: February 3, 2021
Format: A self-contained self-published digital comic book, available now via Comixology and eventually in print.

Jodi realizes that she’s the last human being in the city. Those around her are being replaced by Scribbles, stickmen who impersonate people. And worst of all, only Jodi can see them. Scribbles is a sensitive examination of  identity, PTSD and trauma. Using horror tropes, the comic explores how easily someone can fall apart in an indifferent city. Clean, minimalistic artwork by newcomer Andi Fikri and a tight script from LJ Phillips crafts a haunting tale of pain and salvation.

Scribbles was originally conceived as a self-contained one-shot with themes of gender identity, female friendship, assault, PTSD, hope. Writer LJ Phillips shared with SW this preview below, as he aims to promote this work further into more self-contained comics focusing on art and trauma. He is also working on Entity, a new indie comic series in production as well as Iron Nail Afternoon #2 slated for an early 2021 release.

Scribbles is available now on Comixology.

Here is a 4-page preview:

The Old Guard returns to comic shelves with a new Tales anthology

The creative work of writer Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández’s critically-acclaimed comic book (and adapted into a Netflix original series) work The Old Guard returns in 2021 with an an anthology arc in The Old Guard: Tales Through Time. This six-issue series from Image Comics is now set for this April.

This new anthology will feature an array of top industry talent with new stories from series co-creators Rucka and Fernández, joined by such contributors as: Vita Ayala, Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Matt Fraction, David F. Walker, Horacio Altuna, Rick Burchett, Valentine De Landro, Justin Greenwood, Kano, Nicola Scott, and more.

“I’m always a little stunned when people want to come and play with our toys, to be honest,” said Rucka, in an exclusive feature at Polygon. “It helps me with my own writing. It’s easy to get set onto a track with a character or an idea—having someone come in from outside for a visit, so to speak, allows a fresh perspective, and pushes me to rethink my own assumptions and conclusions about these characters.”

Andromache the Scythian—a warrior over six thousand years old, who has fought more battles than she cares to remember—has kept one constant companion through her long lifetime of combat…her labrys. Andy’s battle axe takes many forms, and many lives, in its centuries at her side, a story told by The Old Guard creators Greg Rucka & Leandro Fernández.

Meanwhile, Nicolo “Nicky” di Genova and Yusuf “Joe” al-Kaysani, lovers since they tried (and failed) to kill each other in the First Crusade, spend an evening at Berlin’s famed Eldorado nightclub in the twilight era of 1932, sharing drinks with drag queens and fistfighting Nazis in an all-new story by writer Andrew Wheeler (Another Castle: Grimoire) and Jacopo Camagni (Nomen Omen)!

Fernández told Polygon: “It’s amazing, and a beautiful exercise, to see how other minds conceive, understand and even suggest something over what we’ve done from scratch. This opens a new way to understand how these characters could be seen from other eyes. All of a sudden, they have a life, a voice of their own.”

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1 will feature 3 multiple covers with cover A (above) by Fernández, cover B (see below) by Jacopo Camagni, and cover C (see below) interconnecting “Battlefield” Variant by Leandro Fernández will be available at comic book shops and popular digital platforms on Wednesday, April 21.

[NEWS]The Old Guard comic series returns with a new Tales Through Time Anthology, coming this Spring

Special thanks to Image Comics for providing the awesome covers. Visit imagecomics.com!