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…
Rise of the Back Flame #1 is another totally solid debut straight from the Mignolaverse. This one traces the origins of the legendary villain, The black Flame from the pages of Hellboy/BPRD and gives us an excellent set up for an intriguing jungle horror adventure that I’m sure Indiana Jones would most certainly sign up for. The setting is Burma and there’s been a series of disappearances of young girls that the locals believe to be the devilish work of a near by cult.
On the case are two Brittish detectives who’re on the case searching for clues, quickly meet Sarah Jewell and Marie-Therese Lafleur who tell them they’ve got an expedition set up to find the Temple of the Black Flame. Sarah Jewell goes on to tell them of some of her incredible supernatural adventures she’s shared with The Witchfinder himself Sir Edward Grey. I’m getting the feeling we’ll be seeing much more of these characters in the future of the Mignolaverse….if they can survive this expedition that is.
Here we have again everything I love about reading comics, grand adventure set in exotic locales with a supernatural mystery brewing. Like I’ve said before Mignola’s books to me are the best on the scene, whether it be Hellboy, BPRD, Witchfinder or Lobster Johnson. They’re always a helluva great time to read and are all connected by a deep lore that’s been running strong for decades. So here we have the opening of another chapter in the saga and a true prequel for fans of the villain of the BPRD’s ‘Hell on Earth’. I’m certainly going to be back for issue #2 as it’s bound to be filled with some excellent storytelling and some creepy jungle adventure, for a good time check out this debut!
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…
There’d just be no better time to post this legendary comic book cover, yesterday we lost boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the age of 74. I really don’t need to go into much detail about the legend as he’s one of the most well known athletes of all time. However some people may not have known that he had a part in the DC universe when he took on Superman in a boxing match!
Yeah the two squared off in a fight to save planet earth from an alien invasion! This was an epic comic at 72 pages in length Superman was in the fight of his life!! Ali is also rumored to have written all of his own dialogue and make a specific request, that in the book he would discover Superman’s true identity.
RIP Muhammad, you were a real life Superhero…..
Here’s the full scoop on the legendary comic book-check it out!!!
Back in 1986 a cool little series came out from Aricel / Adventure Comics for those D&D nerds called The Adventurers! It was a great comic book jam packed with swords, sorcery, monsters galore and yeah…ninjas. My brother collected this series and though I was a Marvel & DC kid at the time I’d often sneak his much more daring and graphic indie comics any chance he’d leave the house. It was interesting as a kid learning that there indeed was more out there than the “big two”. This rad cover is from the first issue of The Adventurers by Peter Hsu and make no mistake each issue had incredible painted covers. I’m going to have to dig these out again cuz I’m feeling the need for some serious adventures lately!
Mike Mignola rarely lets me down, in fact I’d go as far to say that these days the Mignola-verse is where I really like to spend most of my comic book time. So yesterday it was a no-brainer that I’d have to pick up issue #1 of Joe Golem: Occult Detective. The series is based on characters from the ‘Joe Golem & The Drowning City’ Novel by Mike Mignola & Chris Golden, but the comic is meant to be a stand alone story (actually outside of the Mignola BPRD / Hellboy world) so you don’t need to read the novel first. However this first issue has peaked my interest in the book so I’ll probably check that out soon as well.
Well as you can guess by the title, this one is a bit of a pulp style supernatural thriller and takes place in severely flooded New York City in 1965. There in waters that fill the streets children are disappearing, being abducted by vicious creatures that roam below. We’ve got Joe Golem on the case though trying to figure out just what the hell is really going on here, we also get a bit of background into the cities past and some strange flashbacks or nightmares that will somehow tie into the dangerous waters of New York City.
We also meet Golem’s partner Simon Church a mysterious old man who seems to keep himself alive with strange magic, he also keeps a golem like clay monster in is house that’s likely to play a major role in this story. The artwork by Patric Reynolds is also excellent giving us a great look and feel of the gloom of the dark flooded waterways of mid century Manhattan.
The story is titled “The Rat Catcher” and I’m most definitely on board for the rest of the 5 issues (though inside it states there’s only 3 parts to this story? hmm….) and some spooky tales of adventure & mystery that Mike Mignola has become a legend for telling!
I just finished ‘Paper Girls’ #1 by hotshot writer Brian K. Vaughan and it’s one of best debut issues I’ve read in a long time. What’s even better is at it’s $2.99 cover price it’s a double sized issue filled with a great little story just waiting to burst into a retro ‘Amblin’ style adventure set way back in 1988. Not only do we get an intriguing story here but also some great artwork by Cliff Chiang. We follow twelve year old Erin as she heads out onto the streets to do her paper route in wee hours of the A.M. after a extremely peculiar dream, involving apples, aliens, winged astronauts and classroom demons speaking what seems to be gibberish. I love the way the dream sequence is played out in the pages here, with a ton of strange symbolism, conversations that seemingly make no sense and some frightening creatures, it really feels like an actual dream which is quite nice.
The setting in the morning is the night after Halloween, so as Erin hits the streets with her sack of papers she encounters some neighborhood bullies still roaming. Luckily three other paper girls arrive on rad bmx bikes to the scene to her defense. From this point Erin decides to ride with the girls on her route and discovers that the three of them too had been jumped by some strange “people” dressed as ghosts who stole one of their walkie talkies.
I don’t want to spoil any of the story as there are some cool surprises that develop along the way. But what I will say is this has the perfect setting for a lost 80’s flick and puts some cool supernatural elements in the mix that leave you longing for issue #2. A super solid debut and just the kind of comic book story that I love even if for some reason we get a bit of prominent product placement by the way of Apple computers. Check this one out, this issue gives you more bang for your buck too as it’s twice the normal size. A great scheme to get people to drop their hard earned cash these days on a comic book!