I’ve been seeing an increase of stories recently online & on social media about Marvel Comics and it’s continuing sales slump. Most of the articles bring up the hot topic of diversity, some say that Marvel’s record low sales of their comics books are simply because of rising cover prices & lack of fresh new ideas for their characters. Others say that it’s directly due to it’s attempt at diversifying it’s star characters by changing their race, gender & sexual orientation. Most of their popular character’s titles have had a bit of a revamp lately, for instance Wolverine is now female, so is Thor, so is Iron Man, Cap is black, the Hulk is now Korean-American etc. etc. You get the point. Could these changes really be the reason why sales are down? Do people just simply hate diversity in the Marvel Comics titles?
I really doubt that it’s really that simple, though rising cover prices and lack of fresh ideas definitely doesn’t help their low sales. What I see personally happening is a bit of a trend within Marvel Comics that feels a bit insincere. I honestly don’t really mind that the traditional characters have been replaced but I do feel Marvel’s move to make all these changes to their most popular titles feels as if they’ve been exploiting diversity to make a quick buck. What I’m saying is that it feels like Marvel is just trying way too hard to be current on these topics rather than crafting interesting stories. I don’t believe you can simply take all of your money maker superhero titles, simply change their identities and expect them all to suddenly bring you boatloads of cash because you finally decided to make them more diverse. It’s just not that simple folks. Continue reading
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…
Back in the 1980’s there were some pretty awesome indie books out there. If you were looking for something different than what the “big two” had to offer there were some unique ones out there, one I was quite intrigued with was ‘Roachmill’! What? You say you never heard of Roachmill? Well this ultra oddball superhero came on the scene in 1986. He was a professional futuristic exterminator, a killer for hire and he was bad to the bone.
He also had two bizarre cockroach arms that extended from his body making it easier for him to kick the living tar outta people and shoot guns a’ plenty . The series was set in New York City during a time when there were hoards of aliens from other planets moving to Earth. Apparently this caused a lot of crime and chaos in the city and they needed badasses like Roachmill to keep humans and aliens alike in line.
This rad indie series was written and drawn by Rich Hedden & Tom McWeeney and had a heroic dose of grit & comedy evenly bound within it’s pages. I’d really like to revisit it soon to see how it holds up in 2017 and being part of my comic book cover of the week posts Roachmill stuck with me all these years as having some totally excellent cover art. In the late 80’s it got picked up by Dark Horse Comics. I totally dig these weird offbeat 80’s series, hey who knows maybe Roachmill will make a return?!
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
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…
It’s been a long time since I picked up a DC title, a very very long while. However something inspired me to give Doom Patrol #1 from new DC imprint ‘Young Animal’ a shot. Young Animal is supposed to be like the edgier, quirkier, “indie” feel of the DC universe. It’s also self proclaimed as ‘comics for dangerous humans’. I guess what made me gravitate to try it was one of the several covers done by a personal favorite artist of mine, the legendary Brian Bolland and yearning for a cool superhero title to get into. So was this the answer I have been looking for? Is this storytelling really for “dangerous” humans?!
I’d say this was a decent first issue, more cute honestly than dangerous but still an entertaining and at the same time, empty read overall. It wasn’t the type of debut that punches me in the gut or anything and honestly I’m not quite sure I will be back for seconds next month. It’s got some sweet art by Nick Derington and some really unique covers to choose from. The story is a bit confusing and wierd, which I assume is on purpose. I mean this is the new hip and quirky Young Animal comic book right? So it better deliver the goods!
The story follows a young “quirky” (yeah that word again, I know) EMT named Casey Brinke and her partner as they rush across town in an ambulance to save a man’s life. It’s got an interesting moment where her partner analyzes the possibility of a separate universe happening inside of a gyro he’s eating. There’s also random explosions that happen around Casey who’s for the most part un-phased by the occurrences. There’s then a couple other random characters one hanging out inside of a abandoned building near a pile of bricks and another scene where a man in the woods is playing a keyboard. Then there’s a meeting of business men and women who’re from another planet talking about meat and Robotman being busted up into pieces by a garbage truck. There’s more random stuff that happens as well an I’m sure it will eventually make some sense and i’m probably not cool enuff to get it all. But you get the picture.
The book and new DC line is headed by Gerard Way from the band My Chemical Romance, a band I really just can’t stand. I really wasn’t a big fan of his Umbrella Academy either. That being said I could still see this new ‘hip’ Young Animal line of Comics likely taking off, but for me thus far it just isn’t my cup o’ Joe. It might all click later down the line – Sometimes it’s hard to get hooked off of a debut issue & I’d be willing to give the next couple issues a shot, but with the high price of comics I’m sure I could find something else to take a risk on.
Issue number five just dropped of Portland Oregon’s FREE comic newspaper! Vision Quest is a collaborative effort put together by local comix writers and artists and it’s a great change from all of the mainstream stuff out there flooding the market. It’s got a real feel to it as well, black & white, hand drawn ink on paper quality that will likely bring you back to the good ol’ days of self published comic books and zines of the nineties.
It’s a ton of fun too as each issue showcases 30 plus full page bursts of old school comic strip mayhem. You never really know what to expect within it’s pages either, stating on the cover it’s recommended for mature readers so it’s not quite the comic book either for your kid. You get a fine collage of the all of the local talent here in Portland and beyond & yeah it’s free and can be found all around town. Cool artists like Alex Chiu, Tim Root, Erin Nations, Liz Yerby to name a few are featured in issue five and some of the artists are veterans in the underground & local comic scene.
Tim Goodyear (Teenage Dinosaur / Video Tonfa), one of the publishers and contributors elaborated on the inspiration behind it saying “Vision quest is a boiler plate we got from The Intruder up in Seattle. I have been bummed on the commercial structure of comics for a long time and have tried many times to get comics to folks with out all the barriers that are in place. Ian Sundahl asked me how The intruder paper was structured and I told him what Max Clotfelter had told me. He asked if I’d want to do that here, I said I wasn’t sure. 6 or 8 months later he asked me again and I said yes. It’s been great. I love it.”
With regards to submissions to be included in Vision Quest, Goodyear advises that “people should write to us at Visionquestcomix@gmail.com – people should look at the paper and they should make the comic that they want. Not everything fits, whether it be math or tone or outside our interests. Hand lettering is a big key.”
Check this shit out around town here and I’m certain copies can be acquired via the Vision Quest email!