Here’s a cool solid debut comic book from Black Mask Studios called ‘There’s Nothing There’ from the co-creator Patrick Kindlon of the awesome series “We Can Never Go Home”. This issue starts off instantly with a cool but familiar feeling set up as we follow a woman named Reno who attends a mysterious elite costume party with one of her friends. Think a little ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ here as soon it’s revealed that things are set to get kinky real quick.
We’re not entirely sure who’s party this is or what’s at stake as we’re introduced to some mega richie rich ‘Bill Clinton’ looking dude who emerges and delivers an odd slightly religious sexually charged speech to the party goers that seems to signify they’ll be creating something important together. The place quickly erupts in a full on orgy, and Reno fully partakes in the festivities as we’re given a fairly detailed look at the sexual endeavors that ensue over a few pages. During it all Reno sees something strange appear outside in the sky that at first appear almost like some sort of UFO’s floating in a pink cloud shrouding the sky.
The next morning Reno’s mind is clearly in a bit of a haze and as she meets a friend for breakfast we discover she’s some sort of star who’s worried about the paparazzi following her and not following her at the same time. She soon begins to have hallucinations of odd people appearing on the streets and we’re not quite sure if she’s suffering from the effects of drugs from the night before or if perhaps she’s developed some sort of sixth sense to see dead people. Is this the result of an elite ritual from night before? Likely, but things continue on this way even after she returns home to get some rest.
There’s some great potential here and has set up a mysterious plot that could easily go in any number of directions and I hope it pushes the envelope as the story progresses into some unfamiliar terrifying territory. We’re treated as well to some pretty sweet stylized artwork here from Maria LLovet that works perfectly with the story’s tone & mysterious set up. I’m not always these days drawn to stories about rich sexy elites as it seems that most characters in comics somehow come from this sort of classist privileged environment. However, I’m getting the feeling that this might deliver a lot of twists and turns that will likely place our main characters into some unfamiliar territory.
Black Mask is putting out cool books and is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers. ‘There’s Nothing There’ #1 is a solid debut (that’s new on the shelves this week) and it’ll be interesting to see if this one can craft an unpredictable mystery as the series continues. Check it out!
Here’s a cool new comic book from ‘Black Mask’ that packs a visually stunning slice of dirty raw color to the space pirate genre. From page one I’ll admit for this one it really didn’t matter how solid the plot would be for ‘Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality’, the first page showcases some awesome artwork that’s a breath of fresh air in the current comics spectrum. Black Mask has been putting out some pretty impressive shit for quite some time now. Space Riders #1 continues that trend with a solid debut that could possibly be more fun to look at than read. This is apparently a sequel series, but it’s new to me and I’ll have to take a moment to hunt down the first trade. So if you’re late to the party like myself, I don’t think it really matters all that much. We’re given a cast of outrageous characters from the get go, some crazy space bikers, weaving through the stars, wreaking havok on a refugee ship full of aliens. It doesn’t take long for the giant floating skull space craft, with our main characters aboard to vaporize the scavengers dead in their tracks. This sets the tone for the type of crazy shit visually and plot wise that’s on the horizon.
I totally dig it, it’s a straight forward story so far filled with some insanely colorful characters that harken back to classic vintage style space voyage that would’ve fit nicely in the pages of ‘Heavy Metal’ magazine. We’ve got the gruff wise guy Captain Peligro, a tuff guy baboon human hyrid co-pilot, cyborg babes, bat people, marauding space bikers, galactic maidens and cool space vagina portals. It’s a damn fun first issue that’s jam packed with eye candy galore and just a ton of weirdo oddball landscapes & evil aliens. I like these kind of stories sometimes that don’t rely too much on paying attention to crazy details and more so on just having a good old fashion ruff around the collar space adventure. This is the perfect book to roll a joint, kick & absorb the madness of it all.
Now the problem here I gotta say is that Space Riders takes about five minutes to read. I’m not exaggerating either it’s filled with a ton of huge panels and splash pages. While those can all be cool to look at I’ve said before comic books these days need to make some changes for readers who’re expected to throw down four bucks per issue for five minutes of story. Too many books out there don’t seem to give us enough bang for our buck. What do you think? Can you afford the rising prices of comic books? Well if you can I recommend Space Riders #1 it’s got a unique look and it bound to go to some pretty cool ass places…
The Dregs is easily one of the most compelling comic books out there. After a amazing first issue this new series from Black Mask keeps this unique mystery building, leaving you with plenty to think about after the last page. We’ve got one of the most original books on the shelves that breaks the mold of of anything you’re likely reading at the moment. Issue #2 starts off with a bang as we follow the exploits of Arnold, a homeless addict who’s hell bent on solving the mystery of a missing friend named Manny who’s seemed to vanish into thin air from the streets. The first issue also let us in on something incredibly sinister going on in the gentrified area of of the city where it appears that a hip bougie restaurant was serving up plates of food with people on the menu.
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot but the second issue delivers the tension, mystery & then some. The opening sequence of it sets a dark tone unlike many other comic book I’ve read. This series is full on grit and hits some serious issues in our society you rarely ever see in the pages of comic books. Aside from those the story doesn’t rely entirely on social commentary to be interesting, it’s pages bring about a truly creepy and hopeless air that’s hard to shake. The light at the end of the tunnel looks very, very dim at this point. Continue reading
I just checked out the debut issue of ‘Quantum Teens Are Go’ out now from Black Mask & as far as first issues go it’s got some pretty good things going for it. The book’s tone is super light hearted (which is a nice break form the grit) and if you’re a fan of those old 80’s teen sci-fi flicks movies like “My Science Project” you’ll likely dig this more updated take on the genre. The story starts out with a bang as our two daring teen characters are raiding a mysterious abandoned research facility in hopes of stealing something special. The place is guarded by robots and soon we see them running for their lives with their high profile stolen goods.
We soon realize the teens are anything but normal as they seem to working on some sort of odd hi-tech machine in their garage carefully adding the mysterious stolen parts to the equation. We also come to find that one of the characters named “Nat” (formerly Brandon) is transitioning to a female gender clearly with some resentment from her parents. Hey boyfriend who’s kinda like a nerdy mad scientist has been hard at work on some sort of time travel machine and his grades are suffering. He’s also got issues with his “parents” who’ve taken him in as their own as we realize something has happened to his real family for unknown reasons as of yet at least to us.
‘Quantum Teens’ has some great modern day teen issues going in the story along with of course a bully in school who’s clearly got a problem with the two and the fact that Nat was once identifying as a boy. It’s got the current atmosphere of the times, which seems to be all the rage in the comics these days fitted in with a sweet little opening to what might just might prove to be an epic time travel adventure. Only problem is they’ve reached a point in their garage based science project that’s got them stumped. So they hit the streets in search of some answers from some pesky bandits who’re in a similar business…
Hence we’re introduced to some other interesting supporting characters, one described as a poor man’s “Matthew Mcconaughey” who’s there to help the teens get their machine in working order. We’ve got a cute, bright and intriguing story set up here in the first issue that looks to be headed for some fun times. I totally dig simple stories like this that have a bit of a throwback feel to them harkening back to similar vibes like “Back to the Future”. The characters are witty, vibrant and the artwork is decent enough. Though this issue didn’t reinvent the wheel it’s a nice fast paced story so far that’s likely to put a smile on your face in these gloomy times as of late. Check it out if you’re looking for something that’s not going to depress the shit out of you!
The Dregs is a new series from Black Mask and the debut issue is great, engaging & totally original read. I love comic books that genuinely bring something new to the table and The Dregs is totally fresh one that at least for the time being doesn’t seem like it’s been done before. It take place in Vancouver BC and begins an intriguing mystery to life in a city that’s rapidly gentrifying. The main character here isn’t handsome or rich, we follow a drug addicted homeless man as he embarks on a bizarre journey to find one of his friends who’s suddenly disappeared from the streets without a trace. Lucky for us his whereabouts are revealed to us within the first few pages, very unlucky for him though.
The story starts off with quite an opening that you’re likely to be thinking about long after you put down the first issue. The Dregs looks like it’s going to be tackling some real world issues as we see the hip yuppy filled city from the eyes of the people who actually live within it’s darkest corners. For me I’m seeing a lot of what’s happening within the pages of this debut issue happening for years within my place of residence Portland, Oregon. People have been being pushed out of their homes now for year and recently at a more alarming rate that ever before. Many cities all over are getting complete makeovers, filling quickly with shiny boutiques, high priced coffee houses & hip over priced restaurants. The wealthy are flocking to places while housing and rent prices have shot through the roof. Continue reading
I just checked out issue #3 of Black Mask’s controversial new series “Black” which tells a unique superhero story where only black people have superhuman powers. I’ve been pretty intrigued with the series so far & it’s interesting spin on the superhero genre. The series is produced by an all black team focusing on the continual racial tensions rising in our country. It tackles some tough scenarios where blacks are brutally abused and killed by white people and with all the media focus these days covering the racial divides this book fits in nicely with the current conversation that has been finally addressed and put into the mainstream.
That being said so far each issue has had a very similar theme and the tone of the book is dark and clearly angry. It reminds me a bit of the vibe that the X-men once had as mutants dealt with discrimination from the public who feared their superhuman powers and differences from “normal” humans. Issue #3 continues the story of an evil corporation looking to exploit the the superhuman powers of the teams main character by way of tissue sample. It makes you face some things you might not want to address normally in a comic and it’s likely going to start conversation in the comic book world amongst readers of all skin colors. So far I find it a solid read with some pretty sweet artwork to boot.
Issue #2 of Black Mask’s new series ‘Black’ was one I’d been looking forward to checking out. The premise of the book thus far is that black people are discovered to possess superhuman powers and which are unique only to them. We’ve got a story from issue number one that seems ripped from today’s headlines as three innocent black teenagers are attacked by corrupt cops. When one one of the wounded teens figure out he’s got superhuman powers he escapes the police and meets a mysterious man who promises to train him hone his unique abilities.
Issue #2 follows the main character Kareem as he’s being trained how to fight by his new allies and soon he sets off on his first mission in New Orleans. A bit of a nod to the X-men. The story continues to show some truly vile white red necks as they attempt to kill a black man by burning him alive in the woods. But remember, some people possess super powers and soon the white trash have got some serious problems on their hands when Kareem and his crew arrive. The man who’s to be burned becomes the burner. That’s not all though they’re also being followed by powerful secret Gov’t agents who’re intent on capturing them. Yeah they show up too. I’m enjoying this series so far, it goes the distance perhaps a bit far with the consistent theme of racism throughout the first two issues. It tries really hard to pull heartstrings. I liked how the first issue kicked off as it felt pretty damn relevant but by issue number two the racism showcased again seemed a bit forced. I hope that this series is not only and just a continuous series of horrendous racist events occurring to the black characters. I expected of course this team to be tackling this serious problem but so far it’s come on pretty strong.
I think it’s important for this series to have something to say about the real life issues people are facing but I hope every issue isn’t always focusing on this. It could be coincidence that this issue features extreme life threatening racism once again & we’ll see what the next issue holds. I’d like to see the story tackle these issues of racism but I’d also like to see our characters experience different threats in their adversaries for different reasons. I don’t feel every issue needs to cover the topic of race, unless that is indeed the sole purpose of this book. Now that’s not to say that the book doesn’t feature some positive non-black characters, it definitely does and I dig the offbeat idea of once race developing powers. It’s a cool twist and certainly empowering -I hope they bring about some truly memorable black super heroes from this book.
I’m hoping issue #3 branches out a bit more and sprinkles the racism about in a more believable manner. A good example would be the Luke Cage Netflix series which handles the issues pretty gracefully without feeling forced. I’m not sure every central character needs to have his origin buried in a racist act. The second issue brings some pretty decent solid artwork back along with a simplistic easy to follow story. That being said I do feel that this issue is bit to quick of a read. We get a lot of big panels with pretty minimal dialogue which with new comics means it takes about five minutes to read. Also we get a pretty shocking cover sure to raise some eyebrows. Anyway I’ll be around to check out issue #3 to see exactly where this story is all headed. Overall a unique series thus far worth picking up if you’re looking for something a bit different from the average super hero tale…
The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask)
I just read the debut issue for the new Black Mask series “The Skeptics” and was quite pleased with this sweet little intro to a thus far promising retro adventure. Brought to you by Tini Howard and Devaki Neogi we’ve got a solid story of two teenagers during the Cold War era that are brought in by the US government to test for paranormal abilities. There’s a claim made by the Soviets that they’ve got a new breed of soldier in the works, ones with intense psychic abilities. But is it just a hoax to scare us Americans during those tense times? Either way it doesn’t matter because of course the US is determined to find people with similar unique abilities here in our own country to face off with the Soviets.
Well all just is not what it seems when Mary and Maxwell are brought in for testing, for unknown reasons these two have figured out a way to to trick the scientists and even the President into believing they’ve got telekinetic abilities. The President claims they’re the key to stopping World War 3 but it seems there’s more going on than meets the eye. The two young “psychics” quickly decide to take matters into their own hands when they realize that perhaps it’s not a hoax. The Soviets may indeed be harboring people with superhuman abilities.
I had a pretty fun time with the first issue, it’s really simplistic, pure story telling with some decent artwork as well. It’s a refreshing break from all of the ultra edgy stuff being cranked out these days, I’ll check out issue number two and see just where this all goes but either way the debut is worth a look if you’re looking for something a little different.
Black #1 (Black Mask)
Here’s another decent debut issue that finds it’s plot ripped from the media headlines. It’s a story about police corruption and racism in America with a superhero twist. We’ve got corrupt white cops who shoot down three black teens who’ve done nothing wrong in broad daylight on the streets of the inner city. Sound familiar?
Well things get more interesting when one of the teens who’s presumed dead awakens alive and well in the ambulance on the way to the hospital with seemingly superhuman energy and endurance. On the run from the cops he meets a Morpheus like character (from the movie The Matrix) who helps him to safety and soon it’s revealed that people do indeed exist on this planet with superhuman powers….except only those who are black can have them. This like The Skeptics is also a pretty quick and simple read with an interesting spin on the superhero genre. This idea spun out of a Kickstarter campaign and was soon picked up by Black Mask. The art adds to the experience as it’s really well drawn and in black and white.
The writing for this by Kwanza Osajyefo is solid yet at the same time a bit on the predictable side. Starting out with a fairly popular view point being, corrupt cops are running rampant and they kill black people for no apparent reason. I think it’s fair to say from most of the news stories we’ve heard reported on point to this similar scenario. So we’ve definitely got a story here thats basis is controversial and hotly debated. I can already see people being upset about the race issue presented here, it is indeed written to get a response from white readers and continue the much needed dialogue about racial tension today. I think however it’s not much really of a different concept than say “Y The Last Man” yet this comic’s timing probably is the most controversial aspect of it.
Overall I dig it, the idea of just one race being graced with superpowers is an odd angle but given the recent headlines this one’s certain to make some waves. It’s also written & drawn by an all black team as the above The Skeptics is an all female team. So we’re getting a lot more projects out there now that are created with race appropriate and gender appropriate teams attached. It I guess raises questions about whether or not it’s ok in modern times to have people writing books that aren’t of the same gender or race of the characters in the book? This topic alone has become somewhat of an issue lately for movies, books and tv shows. I’m still under the belief that at the end of the day in works of fiction, in a free society none of that needs to really be micro-analyzed. So therefore I welcome anyone to bring a unique story to the table no matter what their race, gender, sexuality or association may be. With that being said I’m curious to see where the story of “Black” ultimately goes. I’ll be back for a second issue…
Here’s an interesting new comic book from Black Mask called ‘The Forevers’ due out in shops September 14th. It’s got quite an intriguing story set up in the debut. It follows a group of people hungry for fame, fortune & adoration who all perform a strange ritual together. They make a pact for life together. They Flash forward ten years and it seems their wishes have for the most part seem to have come true. They’re all living a life of success, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bed of roses. It’s actually quite the contrary as most of them living the dream are immersed in an ugly culture of wealth, drugs and meaningless relationships. It’s clear fame has changed them, but just how much?
We’ve got a cast of pretty unlikable characters in the first issue and as one of them suddenly dies it sets their world into a bizarre mystery as a masked killer appears into their lives for reasons yet unknown. It’s an interesting premise and this debut shows this book has some potential to shape up into a unique read. However it felt a bit like a glimpse into the oddly pathetic and highly superficial lives of people like the Kardashians & the like of ego maniacal rockstars. So there’s not a real connect here for me thus far as most of these characters so far are totally un-relatable to me and I imagine will be for most others. This in a way could be the book’s strong point in the end and hopefully we’ll get some fleshing out of these characters that will indeed rope us in to actually giving a shit about what happens to their greedy asses. Perhaps with more flashbacks we’ll see exactly how they came to this point and that perhaps they weren’t always a gang of total d-bags.
Now as far as the art goes I’m going to admit I’m not exactly a huge fan of this style. It feels a bit like it’s trying be a bit Bill Sienkiewicz or Jon Muth but ends up feeling like someone pulled up some shots of famous stars and copied them altering them via rotoscope. I could be wrong though, i’m not sure how people make modern comic books like this, but I assume there’s a computer involved for most of the process. It however might work here for the type of story trying to be told. Even though not being a big fan of the art I’d at the least check out issue #2 to see where this all goes. So far it’s a decent debut with some potential to bring us something unique to the table. So if you’re a bit bored with all those superhero titles this might spice things up a bit in your weekly journey to the comic book shop…
This week the final installment of the first arc of ‘We Can Never Go Home’ hit the stands with issue #5. It was a great finale filled with a ton of well placed twists and turns. This also just might be my favorite new title of 2015. We’ve been following the unpredictable exploits of teen runaway misfits Duncan & Maddie for only five issues but hell, what an adventure it’s been so far.
The series takes place back in the late 1980’s a time I remember quite fondly as a kid/teen growing up, so perhaps I’m just a little more than partial to this tale from the start. It’s also a series that involves 80’s references galore and even more so in the realm of underground music & punk rock of yesteryear. Mix that with some seriously deep in serious shit troubled teens on a road trip that seems to get more dangerous with ever mile traveled and you’ve got quite an intriguing story.
The final issue comes to a blood soaked boiling point to a once seemingly innocent start of budding teen crushes. The final issue pulls no punches a lot of questions are finally answered and maybe not quite in the way you might have hope they’d be. That’s fine though as a truly great story never really wraps up the way you think it will. This last issue takes place in the compound of this first arc’s villain, Mr. Carroll, where he’s trapped Maddie and Duncan and tests their “superhuman” abilities.
Certain aspects of this final issue might piss you off, you might suddenly find yourself questioning some of our lead characters motivations in this series. Ultimately though this dynamic conclusion delivers on all cylinders, (with some excellent artwork to boot by Josh Hood) and I already find my self ready to read it all over again.
It also has me quite ready for more which we can expect in 2016. So if you haven’t checked this out yet I advise getting the trade when it hits as the individual issues are hard to track down and going for a pretty penny online. This series makes the $3.99 price tag on comic books these days feel not quite so sleazy. “We Can Never Go Home” is a full on home run.