Comic Reading Review: Shirtless Bear-Fighter #1

Shirtless Bear-Fighter #1

  • Writer: Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner
  • Artists: Mike Spicer, Nil Vendrell
  • Published by: Image Comics Publish Date: June 21 2017
  • Notes: New monthly series

Synopsis:

“After being betrayed by the bears that raised him, the legendary Shirtless Bear-Fighter wanders the forest he’s sworn to protect, fistfighting bears, eating flapjacks, and being the angriest man the world has ever known! When wild-eyed, super-strong bears attack the citizens of Major City, Shirtless ventures into the human world to do what he does best…PUNCH THOSE BEARS IN THE FACE! But all is not as it seems. Someone is manipulating Shirtless…and only by confronting the demons of his past can Shirtless hope to save his future! A heart-filled, hilarious, tall tale for the ages… you don’t want to miss SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER! – See more at: https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/shirtless-bear-fighter-1-of-5#sthash.diMGzhaw.dpuf.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

A hero who is shirtless and fights bears. Is there more to say so such a concept? Or perhaps, is there some deeper context one is missing here?

Life is hard, and sometimes the marketed melodrama of the comics multiverse is a bit much. With that, is something that calling to the primal instinct of action where a hero fights something more than human, which is never enough on the comic shelves. Such is cathartic, where the escapism leads to great fantasy. Enter the Shirtless Bear-Fighter, a story that stays true to form and excites those who love brawls and over-the-top action.

See?!

So, he is also pantless. Such is a bit of the comedic touch, that turns this new series into something, to be fun and ridiculous. A supporting cast arrives, giving a new call to action for mighty here, to a heightened situation involving the activities of his fursome adversaries. The supporting cast is also fun, for their ridiculous tropes that often play off mysterious daring macho types. We learn more on our shirtless and pantless hero than the action. He likes flapjacks and lives a comfortable life of solitude.  We also get into his background origin story, also ridiculous but leads towards a dramatic reason for his hate for all bears.

Where Shirtless Bear-Fighter swings hardest is the dialogue and exposition of his world. Much here, feels like Popeye where he feels the heroic calling and dashes in with overconfidence. The first issue doesn’t have much in consequences but leaves room for heightened conflict. The action is enjoyable, with elements in its panel display and transitions with feeling old school Marvelism and Shonen style manga. The art is also distinct, with a style and attitude matching the absurd premise. The colors are perfect, giving vibrancy to this action-packed world.

Overall, the first issue of Shirtless Bear-Fighter is a fun read. Though, such is too early in telling whether the premise and opening arc shall become more than the sum of its title. The ending sets up the further conflict, introducing a sinister connection that may lead towards a more interesting conflict. I look forward to seeing where it all goes, and more bear-fighting action.

Comic Reading Review: Optimus Prime #8

Optimus Prime #8

  • Writer: John Barber Artist: Casey Coller
  • Published by: IDW Comics Publish Date: June 14, 2017
  • Notes: Spinoff series from the Transformers IDW series

Synopsis:

“Jazz confronts his past—and the Autobot’s future—in front of millions of television viewers. But will he make the people of Earth understand Optimus Prime’s mission… or turn against it?”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

As an old school Transformers fan, I have a nostalgic gravitation towards the classical representations. Such robots then appeared more human, with a believable feel to their strange existence; at least by appearance and weird Earth acquired lingo. The later incarnations either appeared less serious, too digital looking, or just ugly in a world full of explosions and over-melodramatics.

Still, my favorite Transformers of the first generation is Jazz; the good Autobot jive-talking streetwise robot capable of transforming into a Porsche. I saw this cover of my old childhood friend with his classical look and dived in. I have not read earlier issues or this new Optimus Prime series, or the acclaimed recent Transformers series of the recent years.

So here in this story, contains several separate but connected ongoing dramas relating to recent events within the IDW Transformers universe. Jazz is foremost, who is granted a television interview arranged with humans. Then we have a flashback to the days of Cybertron past, where Optimus Prime (Orion Pax back then) and Jetfire (an eventual turncoat in the bitter war between Autobots and Decepticons). Then some sequences to the current days with other Transformers exchanging thoughts and emotions.

Such is an interesting issue, not relying on action or trash talking; something I have come to associate the franchise with. The issue is mostly focused on the more humanlike aspects of the Transformers, with their philosophies on various social topics and personal relationships. Much of that comes back to the Jazz side story, where he talks about his musical upbringing and his appreciation for Earth music. He brings the story to a more recent incident, where he apparently killed a police officer while defending a young African-American youth. His difficulties in dealing with the American media frustrate him, and the complete story here is lost (at least to this reader just jumping in).

Such is too bad, as wanted more on Jazz’s perspective of Earth culture and social problems, being adjusted well to the urban culture (transforming into a Porsche helps). Still, I would love to have an entire series of just Jazz, delving more into the human experience as a refugee alien robot war veteran.

Meanwhile, the other stories had an interesting aspect to them, further than I would expect robots based on toys originally marketed to children. There is so much with these panels I found interesting, as far as the contrast in the past and present history of warring robots from a faraway planet go. Still, there are details I find amusing, like this bar seen.

I love how all the wings, engines, boosters, and other machine parts of them are just everyday attire. There is a fascination to the weirdness, especially going back to the classic look, appearing somewhat natural in everyday living. Also interesting, are the social positions statuses being scientists and police officers lost in Cybertronian history, indicating more of its “normal” non-war times. Then, we fast forward to a future, where the humans whose difficult interactions with Jazz, may bring about the negative kind of change in his Earthen views.

I am a little curious in reading more of this series, especially if this good writing and solid art style carry on. The coloring is fantastic as well, mixing the vibrancy well of the colorful robots with the cold, metal Cybertron world, and green, organic planet Earth. My only complaint is the lack of the Autobot leader Optimus Prime in this particular issue, who barely has any impact or presence in the overall issue.

Overall, a great issue with a good jumping-on point for those classic Transformers fans, or those wanting more drama in their fighting robot interactions. I may look into the recent trade paperbacks, though I am not sure of which. I welcome any suggestions.

 

Comic Reading Review: Bulletproof Coffin: The Thousand Yard Stare

Bulletproof Coffin: The Thousand Yard Stare #1

  • Writer: David Hine Artist: Shaky Kane
  • Published by: Image Comics Publish Date: June 7, 2017
  • Notes: One shot story, following two Bulletproof Coffin mini-series

Synopsis:

“The long-awaited sequel to THE BULLETPROOF COFFIN! When indie publisher Image Nation hires Shaky Kane to write and draw his own comic book, the artist finally finds himself free from the tedium of visualizing the geriatric ramblings of washed-up hack, David Hine. See the awful consequences as jealous rivalry leads to a bloody showdown on the convention floor.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

I never read Bulletproof Coffin before this. Perhaps, I should have.  Should I? I heard good things, and the original series remains on my list.

But, this particular issue grabbed my attention from the cool cover, with enough curiosity to peek inside. I like the art, and there appears to be some meta-commentary on the culture of modern comic conventions. So, I bought this, and here we are. Was the entire read worthwhile? Should I have picked up the original series? Will I after this?

So forth, we get into the story with Shaky Kane, a veteran artist alone at his booth at a comics con. His view and reflection are of the past and present of the modern comic convention, he seems somewhat stuck in making ends meet. There is a bit of biography behind the scenes of this life and moving forward while separating himself from the writer. Such is an interesting experiment given that the actual writer based upon is putting out this story, drawn by the artist of the same name.

Such is an interesting view, from the point of the artist, reflecting their love of the work.  Then we have the flip side, and the growing influence of Big Hollywood harvesting the culture. Changing it, and bringing in a new breed of fandom. For Shaky, there is now a surreal existence in living through this odd pocket world of cosplay and finicky attendees.

And so continues the story, where we break into an interrupting comic inside for his sequential artwork. Such is a joy to read, and an escape for both the reader and creator. Such is a shared and colorful experience, then back to the “real” world. And there, lies a sad tragedy, with dark-humored irony.

The art is awesome and vivid, with thin lines between the dramatic and cartoonish. The linings of the inks are well-defined in the expressions and posture. The perspectives of each panel are well-placed and give greatly to the developing story. Though the convention is huge, the Shaky’s small pocket world of the convention table is enough to grasp the scope and feel of the situation. I love how the story shifts to the bigger world, just sitting on his table waiting to be discovered, then back again.

Overall, a fantastic read which got me curious and excited to hunt down the original series, and volume 2.  While this one-shot issue may not thrill everyone, such is a real treat for me and those who understand the changing culture. I highly recommend it for con-lovers, artists, and fellow creatives sharing a sense of dark humor.

Comic Reading Review: Saga #43

Saga #43

  • Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Fiona Staples
  • Published by: Image Comics Publish Date: May 31, 2017
  • Notes: Ongoing monthly series, with occasional breaks

Synopsis:

SAGA returns monthly with a brave new direction, and to celebrate Image’s 25th Anniversary, this full-sized issue costs just 25 cents! In a perfect jumping-on point for first-time readers, Hazel and her star-crossed parents embark on a thrilling new adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

Wow, a comic book for 25 cents!! Pretty much my entire life, I would only expect such the price for a treasure on a used read from a bygone time. But here we are now, for a special deal on a very special series. The price signifies every penny a year, back to Image Comics 25th Anniversary celebration. This issue also offers a jumping on point for new readers. Does this all match up for such a meager price, and valuable time for modern appreciators of the sequential arts? What about its presentation for fans who waited over the recent hiatus, and likely read since #1?

Within, is a heavy issue indeed, packed with much for old and new fans. For those jumping aboard, there is that unexpected peek into the strange, unrestrained universe where pretty much anything can happen or raise the limits of the imagination. This first being the subject matter wherein, where things carry on from the very sad ending to the last issue. I can’t recall anytime a comic has dealt with the initial subject matter, in both a practical need for a resolution to Alana’s current condition, while adding dark humor to it all.

And then, a nice little recap for new readers perhaps. But, there feels not enough for me to recommend this particular issue to a friend. It’s better to lend them your copy of the first trade paperback (still, a very cheap $9.99). It might be fun to just buy extra copies of #43 and leave behind at a waiting area of some dental office or barber shop. If really bored, one can stick around for the reaction..then interject for that life-changing reading recommendation.

But seriously, for those new to this series…start from the beginning. Ask for Saga: Volume 1 at your local book retailer.

Meanwhile..

The story carries on with thoughtful conversations on Alana’s miscarriage, Petrichor’s gender identity, Hazel’s biracial concerns, Marko’s guilt. We got a lot of development here, far more within this one issue I think, than the last story arc. Such still leaves good page-turning room for sudden action with the disgusting attack of the “Dung People.” Suddenly, results in another revelation, leaving a new question in the end.

Anyway, Staple’s art is consistent in its beauty, and I appreciate more on her use of stylish fantastical backdrops. Alana’s outfit is badass and worthy of real life cosplay (though the pregnancy detail may be a bit too morbid).

An overall great issue, a bargain indeed worth the price of the usual full admission.

Eisner nominated UNIVERSE! Volume #1 digitally available now, pay what you want

The recently Eisner Award nominated (for Best Digital Series) UNIVERSE! is now available as a DRM-free, 190-page single volume digital download via the Panel Syndicate digital comics website. The price is based on what whatever the buyer sets.

SEE FIVE-PAGE PREVIEW BELOW!

UNIVERSE! is a series of self-contained and yet, somehow connected sci-fi tales, all created by Albert Monteys, a Spanish comic writer and illustrator, past known for his work in the satirical weekly magazine El Jueves. The series is now available in digital format via Panel Syndicate in English, Spanish, and Catalan.

For this new series and other comics available at customizable pay scale, visit panelsyndicate.com!

Preview Pages (click on each for full-size image and slide options):

 

Special thanks to PanelSyndicate for providing access to the preview pages. You may follow them for more info and other great books on their official site panelsyndicate.com.

Jay Faerber lifts up new a high-flying fantasy with ELSEWHERE, this August

“What really happened to famed airwoman Amelia Earhart? As it turns out: a lot. “

Image Comics will bring a new fantasy comic series this August, with Elsewhere, a new adventure by writer Jay Faerber (Copperhead, Zoo) and rising star artist Sumeyye Kesgin.

SEE THE SIX-PAGE PREVIEW AND COVERS BELOW!

Somehow transported to a strange new world filled with flying beasts and baffling alien civilizations, Amelia desperately struggles to return home. Along the way, she forges alliances and makes enemies as she goes from aviatrix to freedom fighter in a rebellion against a merciless warlord!

“ELSEWHERE is the kind of series I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time, with exotic characters, fantastic creatures, and huge scope,” said Faerber. “But I needed a relatable character to hang everything on. I found that character in Amelia Earhart—she’s inspiring, courageous, and most of all, real. And I’ve found the perfect partner to help me navigate this thrilling adventure: artist Sumeyye Kesgin. She’s incredible and absolutely vital to bringing this world to life.”

“It’s an incredible experience working with Jay Faerber!” said Kesgin. “He’s one of the best writers I’ve ever known, and I was really fascinated when he first showed me the outline of the story. I am having fun while creating the entire ELSEWHERE universe because of my love for fantasy and aerial concepts, and I feel really honored, as a female artist, to draw Amelia Earhart.”

ELSEWHERE #1  will have two covers, Cover A by Sumeyye Kesgin and Cover B by Andrew Robinson. Both are set to arrive in comic book stores on Wednesday, August 2nd.

 

Preview Pages (click on each pic for full image and slideshow options):

 

Special thanks to Image Comics for providing access to preview pages. You may follow them for more info and other great books on their official site at www.imagecomics.com.

Comic Reading Review: Bug: The Adventures of Forager #1

Bug: The Adventures of Forager #1

  • Writer: Lee Allred Artist: Michael Allred Colorist: Laura Allred
  • Published by: Image Comics Publish Date: May 10, 2017
  • Notes: New monthly six issue mini-series

Synopsis:

“An all-new Young Animal miniseries begins! Forager is just one of the Hive before he breaks out of his cocoon and finds himself in a mysterious house in an unknown realm. There he meets all kinds of strange creatures: a ghostly girl, a talking teddy bear and otherworldly weirdos that have literally jumped out of his worst nightmares. But these interdimensional oddballs are nothing compared to the evil General Electric, who is on the hunt for a reality-bending metal that could alter the fabric of life itself. To stay one step ahead of him and preserve the multiverse, Forager must travel through alternate dimensions to seek the metal and, hopefully, catch up with that cagey stuffed bear. If he does it, will he finally be able to distinguish himself as a New God? DC’s Young Animal celebrates Jack Kirby’s centenary with this new six-issue miniseries-and who better to tackle this task than the Eisner Award-winning Allred clan! Featuring scripts by Lee Allred (BATMAN ’66), art by Michael Allred (Silver Surfer) and colors by Laura Allred (Lady Killer), BUG! is truly a family affair..”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

Wow, a comic book based upon an obscure character few remember. What a wonderful time to be alive, and finding this at my local comic shop!

Forager was an obscure character created by Jack Kirby in his 1970’s New Gods series. Much was not done with him until the awesome Cosmic Odyssey mini-series in 1989. He teams up with Batman and then sacrificed his life to save him and the Earth from the Anti-Life Equation. Aside from a different female incarnation showed up in later comics, the ‘Bug” never appeared. Now along with other DC comics obscurities throughout the Young Animal imprint books, the Forager, or “Bug”  lives on in his first ever series.

Or does he?

There is a shout out to the Cosmic Odyssey limited series in the beginning, where there transference from yesterday into today, leading to a fresh start. There is an interesting struggle for his former identity, combined with a will to live on that feels part meta, part insect nature survivalist. We find him in this strange world, with odd elements and mysterious happenings. He meets forgotten characters of the Kirby yesteryear (or, at least long remembered as), with some new friends and enemies.

The weirdness of classic Kirby is definitely present, with much left to the reader to go with the flow of the story. Not all is perfectly clear, but I think that’s part pf the fun of going through the story in part to that of the “Bug.” There is a larger world, with so much not quite understood. The Bug finds himself trying to make sense of it all, separating good and evil while being the hero meant. Readers, both old and new to the DC universe can identify with his perspective as the lost explorer, even with the grasping of the obscure references known to hardcore DC fans.

The art of Mike Allred, combined with the awesome vibrant coloring with his wife Laura Allred) displays beauty and definition to the story. But stylized more-so to this comic are the crooked panel set-ups. Nothing is quite straight after the first-page rewind. Each panel has strategic positioning of the characters, stabilizing themselves in a strange topsy-turvy unpredictable universe. Such is a wonderful thing, for those coming to the comic-store to escape the current world we readers are stuck in.

Overall, a solid first issue for a reader demographic that enjoys the very thing the Forager creator (and the rest of the original Fourth World) brought to comics, a weird and wonderful burst of imagination, with mystery and wonder from a mythology made from scratch. Bug, with the work of the Allreds, carries on that awesome work as it should.

Comic Reading Review: Eternal Empire #1

Eternal Empire #1

  • Writer: Sarah VaughnJonathan Luna Artist: Jonathan Luna
  • Published by: Image Comics Publish Date: May 3, 2017
  • Notes: New monthly series

Synopsis:

“The Eternal Empress has waged war against the countries of Saia for over one hundred years and now her sights are set on the last country standing. Within the brutal Empire’s workforce, a young woman receives strange visions that give her the courage to escape her fate…or run straight toward it.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

I thoroughly enjoyed Alex + Ada,  the acclaimed sci-fi drama series also by writer Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughan. Therefore, this new Eternal Empire series by the same duo got me excited. So, I jumped on the première issue upon its first day on the racks.

And here I am, with much to say on it. From the beginning, there is captivation in the opening presentation with a new world map and an interesting prologue. From there, I feel much in Luna’s art as very animated,  especially with the colors. Yet, there is a realistic beauty with the character forms and expressions, even with the fantasy and sci-fi elements. The opening pages prepare for more.

 

From the opening pages taking place 141 years before the center story, sets much world-building with few words and fantastic exposition. There is enough needed to know for this to begin, and the rest unfolding for the present time. I refrain from spoiling much for those yet to read; just the storytelling both with visuals and interesting foundation; leading to an interesting union and changing of times.

Then, we shoot to its present on a farm and life of a worker dealing with an oppressive regime. Mysterious visions call out and eventually setting for a new journey. The art is amazing for its awesome use of depth and space. The perspective and angles really push forth the story,  a strength I wish would be utilized more in modern comics. Adding to it, are some great close-ups and use of panel transitions.

The colors change, to fit the drive and moments of the story. We have several layers, shift between the politics and personal struggles, with a nice balance throughout. Eventually, the change in panels and use of weather elements detail the story further and carry on a dramatic escape. Much of the issue involves change and transition as an effect of visions, from a sad servitude to a potential of adventure and optimistic destiny. Towards this, is a new light leading to an interesting development in the cliffhanger.

The cliffhanger was a bit sudden, and too soon. I wanted more pages for this first issue, and I think much of this stems from the slowed pacing of the book. Such is not a bad thing, but I think just demands more pages for such a read.

On the side, there is a final last page detailing the use of multiple suns in the story. Such brings the need for a look back, to appreciate the lighting and deeper setting for the new story.

Overall, Eternal Empire starts off with a captivating first issue, for those open to a new world of sci-fi fantasy with a cinematic, and animated feel. However, this takes time for the reader to take in a slow build-up and explaining of this new world. For this kind of pacing, the series is a special treat for those wanting more in such storytelling.

New HALO anthology series comic with RISE OF ATRIOX #1, coming this summer

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Dark Horse Comics with 343 Industries recently announced its release of Halo: Rise of Atriox, a new anthology comic series based on the Halo Wars 2 video game.

The first issue of Halo: Rise of Atriox finds Atriox, who is still a member of the massive alien collective known as the Covenant, leading his Brute brethren into an all-out assault on a UNSC outpost. Leader and creator of the Banished, Atriox is a fearsome warrior who rose to power by his charismatic personality and talent for shrewd strategic planning honed during his time-serving as a member of the Covenant.

This five-chapter anthology collects stories by acclaimed comics creators Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, Conan the Slayer), Jody Houser (The X-Files: Origins, Faith), John Jackson Miller (SMITE: The Pantheon War, Halo: Tales from Slipspace), Alex Irvine (Hellstorm: Son of Satan, Dark Sun: Ianto’s Tomb), Claire Roe (Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Saltire: Annihilation), Josan Gonzalez (Weird Detective), Jonathan Wayshak (Call of Duty: Zombies, Halo: Tales from Slipspace), and Tristan Jones (Rebels, Aliens: Defiance).

The Halo: Rise of Atriox first issue is written by Cullen Bunn with Claire Roe as the artist, Jeremy Colwell as the colorist, with the cover art by Aleksi Briclot (The Art of Remember Me, Conan: Road of Kings).

Halo: Rise of Atriox #1 is set to arrive at comic stores and Dark Horse affiliated digital outlets on August 2, 2017.

Comic Reading Review: Aliens: Dead Orbit #1

Aliens Dead Orbit

Aliens: Dead Orbit #1

  • Writer and Artist: James Stokoe
  • Published by: Dark Horse Comics Publish Date: April 26, 2017
  • Notes: monthly mini-series

Synopsis:

“After a horrific accident strikes a space station, an engineering officer must use all available tools—a timer, utility kit, and his wits—to survive an attack from the deadliest creature known to man. 

Personal Thoughts (spoilers):

I am a huge fan of James Stokoe’s work since Orc Stain. His work continued to astound and entertainment my eyes through Godzilla: Half Century War and Wonton Soup. Now, he is doing this Alien mini-series for Dark Horse, and there is new joy in my life. So, in picking up Dead Orbit, I am already excited to hell from looking at the cover. Amazing from there, with hints already of something different for the long-running franchise.

Reading forward, I am already lost in the art and how Stokoe integrates the storytelling in the visuals. The detail is incredible in setup, rich in sophistication and setting stage for a unique play that is based on a very familiar concept. The amount of work put into every console, corridor, tool, displays a forgotten futurism best remembered in old 90’s cyberpunk anime and early 80’s Heavy Metal comics. Adding to the detail, as some defining colors, setting the tone of this cold dead station against humanity’s light.

Meanwhile, we meet a different small crew closer to the original Alien movie than the soldiers of later films. They are a working class, but small but full of humanity for what they find on an old space station. Among them, a protagonist whose imagination is already ahead of him, while dealing with the isolation and dangers of space travel. As with most beginnings of these Alien tales, there takes the time to get to know the characters and situation, while slowly getting to the Xenomorph acid dripping action.

There are some a few great tense moments, especially this one. I like the lettering.

Seriously, this new series is a real treat for both Alien and sci-fi horror fans. Aliens: Dead Orbit a fun, scary visual treat that puts the best of James Stokoe’s visual storytelling forward. Put this on your new comics list!