DMZ Book Four [Reminder]

Here’s your reminder that DMZ Book Four (Deluxe Edition Hardcover) is out this Wednesday, July 1st. You should buy it. This volume contains 384 pages (issues 45 to 59), features an original cover by Brian Wood, guest artists including Danijel Zezelj, Andrea Mutti, and David Lapham, and is only $29.99. It’s an oversized hardcover with 24 pages of bonus content hand-curated by me, including an extended conversation between me and Brian Wood, an interview with cover artist John Paul Leon, a profile interview with colorist Jeromy Cox, and tons of concept art, cover designs, and character sketches.

There will be 5 hardcovers total, with an additional book planned for release every 6 months or so. In development at SyFy for a TV adaptation, DMZ ran for 72 issues from 2005 to 2011, centering on would-be journalist Matthew Roth and his tumultuous time in war torn New York City, under siege during the Second American Civil War. For existing fans, this is the definitive format you’ll want to own. We’re throwing everything we have at it. For curious fans, this is the perfect time to jump in and own the ultimate edition, with the benefit of critical analysis and “director’s commentary.”


7.01.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Big Week. Huge Week. I’m really excited about Airboy #2 (Image) by James Robinson and Greg Hinkle. The first issue was funny and meta and incredibly well-drawn, with the type of exaggerated reality that illuminates fact, so I hope it continues just as strong as it began. The House of Creator Owned is also offering Deadly Class #14 (Image) by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, certainly in a three-way heat for best Remender book this year along with Black Science (my pick) and Low, The Humans #6 (Image) by Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely, No Mercy #4 (Image) by the terrific team of Alex de Campi and Carla Speed McNeil, Outcast #10 (Image) by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta, the Punks CBLDF Special (Image) by Josh Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain, The Wicked + The Divine #12 (Image), and one of the long-awaited new Brian K. Vaughan books, We Stand On Guard #1 (Image) with artist Steve Skroce. That’s a ton already!

Boom! Studios has been coming on extremely strong lately, as evidenced by this week’s offerings, including The Spire #1 (Boom!), a sprawling new 8-issue series by Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely that already has people talking, Arcadia #3 (Boom!) by Alex Paknadel and Eric Scott Pfeiffer, which is probably my favorite new Boom! series if you forced me to pick, and Broken World #2 (Boom!), the second installment of Frank J. Barbiere and Christopher Peterson’s grungy sci-fi that flips the typical post-apocalyptic set-up. There’s also The Bunker #12 (Oni Press) by Josh Fialkov and Joe Infurnari! There’s 18 Days #1 (Graphic India) by Grant Morrison and Jeevan Kang, for the introductory price of just $1! There’s Onyx #1 (IDW) by Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez! If the Locke & Key and Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland alum doing a new project wasn’t enticing enough, Ryall will also be doing a signing on Wednesday 7/1 from 9-12 at my LCS, Yesteryear Comics in San Diego, so I’ll see you there!

If you’re one of those Marvel and DC holdouts, the best I can do is recommend Midnighter #2 (DC) by Steve Orlando and ACO, which sort of defies the traditional DC house style and is a standout among the new launches for including some stylish and memorable visual layouts that take a key from the Matt Fraction and David Aja Immortal Iron Fist era, using a protagonist whose personality, sexuality, and general plot mechanics feel organic and don’t come off like forced marketing devices daring you to cool-dad #hashtag it on the Twitters.

If you need some quality material to adorn your bookshelf, you’ve come to the right place! There’s the DMZ Book Four: Deluxe Edition Hardcover (DC/Vertigo), collecting issues 45-59 of this stellar series by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. At $29.99 for 384 pages, it’s a deal, and this volume also contains great guest artist contributions from folks like Andrea Mutti, David Lapham, and Danijel Zezelj, as well as (Full Disclosure) interviews with the creative team conducted by yours truly, along with hand-selected bonus content including concept art and character designs. You might also be interested in The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 2: Fandemonium (Image) by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, or the Supreme: Blue Rose TPB (Image) by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay, collecting all seven issues of this gorgeous book. You should also definitely pick up The Autumnlands Vol. 1: Tooth & Claw (Image) by Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey, easily one of the best new series of the year, and one of the best deals too, collecting issues 1-6 for just $9.99. 


6.24.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

It’s a relatively small week after two very large weeks in a row, so let’s do something different and give it up for a trade, namely The Massive Vol. 5: Ragnarok (Dark Horse). This is the conclusion of the series, collecting issues 25-30 by Brian Wood, Garry Brown, and Jordie Bellaire, with covers by the ever-impressive John Paul Leon. The Massive was an important entry in a succession of loosely related thematic underpinnings in series like Channel Zero and DMZ, pairing the post-capitalist post-apocalyptic with environmental consciousness in a big sprawling action-adventure.

In terms of singles, I’m most excited for The Legacy of Luther Strode #2 (Image) by Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore. This mini-series is the third leg of a trilogy in the Luther Strode Universe, and while it’s always been a great read with killer art, Moore in particular is really slamming down the gas pedal and outdoing himself, creating these lush intricate pages that are absolutely gorgeous, crammed with so much detail and emotion and depth that makes it look like he works at an insanely large scale and then shrinks it all down or something. I really don’t know how he does it.

I’ll also check out Invisible Republic #4 (Image), which is quality sci-fi world-building with a heavy air of realpolitik to it, from the duo of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, The Tithe #3 (Image) by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal, a team which seems to get more and more bold with the type of material they’re willing to take on in every outing, and Mulan: Revelations #1 (Dark Horse) by Robert Alter, Marc Andreyko, and Micah Kaneshiro, which I don’t know much about, but Andreyko is usually a solid creator and the preview art by Kaneshiro looks terrific. 


6.17.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

It’s another pretty big week for me. At the top of the list is Lazarus #17 (Image) from Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, which I still tell people is all-around probably the best comic being published right now. I’m also excited for Manifest Destiny #15 (Image) by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts, which was also on my Best of 2014 list, Low #7 (Image) by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, Southern Bastards #9 (Image) by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, Tales of Honor: Bred to Kill #1 (Image/Top Cow) by Matt Hawkins and Linda Sejic, Trees #10 (Image) by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, as well as the debut of Jason Shawn Alexander’s new Empty Zone #1 (Image). Alexander is one of my favorite fine artists working today, occasionally dipping his toe into comic book waters with projects like the murky Luna Moth sequences in The Escapists or a particularly voyeuristic arc of Queen & Country.

Over at Oni Press, I’ll be picking up Letter 44 #17 (Oni Press) by Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque, as well as (the now ongoing) Stumptown Volume 3 #6 (Oni Press) by Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood. Rucka is what I’d call a seasoned veteran in the industry, and Greenwood is a talent whose star is certainly on the rise, so I’m always interested to see what happens when you make a creative pairing like that. I’ll probably also check out Blackcross #4 (Dynamite Entertainment) by Warren Ellis and Colton Worley (with covers by another rising star, Tula Lotay), Astro City #24 (DC/Vertigo) by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, as well as Astronauts in Trouble #1 (Image) by Larry Young and Charlie Adlard, which is a series I’ve not thought about in literally years, originally a black and white offering from Young’s own boutique small press concern in San Francisco, AiT/PlanetLar, Young is one of those figures people either tend to love or hate, and I’m not sure if this is new material or color reprints, but the series certainly had its fun moments. 

If you’re reading this column, you may recall that I basically stopped financially supporting both Marvel and DC Comics back in 2012 and largely tuned out of their entire lines, with some rare exceptions. I mean, if Warren Ellis or Brian Wood is gonna’ write Moon Knight, well sure, I’ll be first at the LCS to check that out. I do pick up Astro City, which is technically a DC Comic under the Vertigo imprint. But, after the debacle that was The New 52, I essentially just quit the mainstream cape comics at both companies because I was totally burned out of the churning cycle of relaunch-event-stagnation-relaunch-event-stagnation-relaunch-event-stagnation. But, for some reason it’s been amusing to me to sample the new DC books post-Convergence to see what the move from NYC to Burbank and subsequent induction of many new (sometimes relatively green) creators and editors hath wrought.

For example, I looked at the recent Omega Men #1 (which I found to be a boring confusing lazy mess leaning too hard on alien speech tropes), Midnighter #1 (which I think has lots of potential, it certainly feels like something well-constructed and organically progressive, successful not only due to my fondness for old WildStorm characters, but because of inherent quality), Constantine #1 (which was nearly unreadable, terribly overwritten, with generic demon nonsense punctuated by an apparently bisexual lead, which didn’t feel organic at all in the way Midnighter does, but a desperate grab at diversity. Are you ready to #Hashtag that? I’d sooner read a book about Nick Lachey as the new Hellblazer, using his Twix wand of Ad Interrupta Kazam! to summon magical forces), and Starfire #1 (which was another hot mess, with really crappy instances of Newton defying gravity planes, and featured the titular character with covered boobs – kind of – until she just buys more revealing clothes to replace her costume which replaced her scantily clad digs in the first place whaaa? and then she moved on to throw herself at random dudes and drink beer wait how old is she supposed to be is this comic for a younger demo or not why is she talking like the totes adorbs naïve but well-intentioned version in Teen Titans Go! while still kinda’ appealing to lecherous old men help me I’m so confused by this book).

Simply put, I liked only 1 of the 4 new titles I sampled, a 25% success rate. All of that said, I might actually check out the melee of new material being flung at the wall to see what sticks this week, including Black Canary #1, Dr. Fate #1, Harley Quinn & Power Girl #1, Justice League of America #1, Martian Manhunter #1, Prez #1, and Robin: Son of Batman #1 out of, let’s call it morbid curiosity, just to see which editors have managed to muck up which books, and which rookie creators have managed to land once elite titles, all while continuing this silly diatribe and seeing if the metrics continue to stack up in support of my ongoing reluctance at engaging with anything in the superhero lines of the two most well known publishers. Whew!

Justin, shut up and recommend some trades, will you!? Ok! I will direct your attention to Drifter Vol. 1 (Image) by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein. There’s a lot of quality sci-fi coming out of Image at the moment, but this has a certain tone to the writing and a richness to the technology aesthetic that really holds my interest. I’d also like to point you to the Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland TPB (IDW) by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez. Most people will recognize Rodriguez’s robust lines from Locke & Key, but he absolutely pushes himself here, and succeeds, at capturing the magical wonderment and ethereal whimsy of the original, while modernizing the lessons and looking absolutely aces with IDW’s lush production values. It’s great!


6.10.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Well, I don’t remember the last time this happened, so let’s call it an “Unofficial Brian Wood Week,” as two of his books hit, both Rebels #3 (Dark Horse), the historical fiction series set in the Revolutionary War with artist Andrea Mutti and colorist Jordie Bellaire (with covers by Tula Lotay), and another new Creator Owned series in the form of Starve #1 (Image) with co-owners Danijel Zezelj and Dave Stewart. I’ve already said a lot about Starve, but the executive summary is that it’s essentially the best Brian Wood book yet, setting old-school culinary whiz Gavin Cruikshank off on one of the classic Brian Wood identity quests, seeking to reclaim his sense of self, his fortune from a crazed network, and his daughter from the ravages of a failed marriage, all positioned within the context of the post-apocalyptic social crumble that the writer does so well. Fans of DMZ and The Massive know that Zezelj’s art adds an extra sense of murky morality to the proceedings, concerned with the truth in the now, as it attempts to reconcile past misdeeds and future desires. Danijel Zezelj is the type of incredibly talented artist that should already be a superstar, whose name is uttered on the lips of comic book fans across the world, so let's make it happen.

It’s a huge week on top of all that. Image Comics alone has Black Science #15 by Remender & Scalera, Copperhead #8 by Faerber & Godlewski, Descender #4 by Lemire & Nguyen, Injection #2 by Ellis & Shalvey, Nameless #4 by Morrison & Burnham, and Saga #29 by Vaughan & Staples. Those are all great choices and I’m sure every reader has their favorite, though I’ll probably hone in the most on Copperhead (Sci-Fi Western that’s so well done) and Injection (to see what fun Ellis will have next as he mashes up two of his go-to genres, espionage and the occult).

I’m really excited for the return of Monty Nero’s Death Sentence: London #1 (Titan), this time with artist Martin Simmonds. The series is now ongoing, which is a real success story for Titan Comics, and the original run married a compelling premise with realistic characterization for some spectacular results. I’ll also check out Lantern City #2 (Boom!/Archaia) by Paul Jenkins and Carlos Magno. I don’t really give two shits about the whole steampunk cosplay aesthetic, but the design work in this is first rate and I thought the story was quite engaging. We Can Never Go Home #3 (Black Mask) by Patrick Kindlon, Matthew Rosenberg, and Josh Hood has become something of an indie sensation, rightfully so, as it takes the updating of the X-Men’s latent adolescent power manifestation paradigm of work like Demo and They’re Not Like Us and runs with it in a very personal way.

I don’t find it nearly as strong as the show because it hasn’t really done anything yet we didn’t already know with its wind-up (two issues of Caleb/Kanan surviving Order 66 and living on the streets – yawn), but my kids still dig it because I think it’s fresh to them, so I’ll also pick up Kanan: The Last Padawan #3, featuring the Star Wars: Rebels crew. I might also check out Disciples #1 (Black Mask) by Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten, as well as Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 (Dark Horse), both of which look interesting. I might also peek my head into Starfire #1 (DC) or All Star Section 8 #1 (DC) just to see what’s what from the Burbank stronghold. Last week, I peeked at Omega Men #1 and Midnighter #1 and was disappointed by one and pleasantly surprised by the other, so it’s been fun to periodically check in on the strategic direction of DC with their successive new launches and either further confirm or deny my reluctance at engaging with their entire superhero line.

If you wanted a longer read, I can recommend Danger Club Volume 2 (Image) which wraps up this great mini-series, East of West Volume 4 (Image), which continues this big epic, the Jack Kirby: Kamandi Artist’s Edition (IDW), which is self-explanatory, or the Absolute Transmetropolitan HC Volume 1 (DC/Vertigo), which any self-respecting Warren Ellis fan should be familiar with. Spider Jerusalem is one of those seminal characters whose influence you can still feel on a whole wave of Warren Ellis acolytes who migrated from proto-web forums to successful careers as comic book writers.