Cole Bowman

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    Mass Effect: Discovery #1 Uncovers a Dark Secret in the Andromeda Initiative

    Mass Effect: Discovery #1 is one of the most anticipated comic releases of the year. This comic promises to dive deeper into the Andromeda Initiative introduced in March’s Mass Effect: Andromeda video game. Dark Horse is no stranger to Bioware’s many video game worlds, but this is one the most promising storylines in their partnership. The first issue alone delivers on several of the promises made to fans during the initial production of the game. Namely, it uncovers significant dangers lurking in the Initiative’s long cast shadow.

    Mass Effect: Discovery #1 Review

    It comes as no surprise that this story is compelling when you look at the creative team bringing it to life. John Dombrow, lead writer for both Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda, has written a story that ties heavily back into the events of Andromeda. Artist Gabriel Guzman illustrates the comic, subtly luring readers back into the Mass Effect universe. He does this through incredible images that seamlessly recreates the iconic imagery of the games. His attention to detail hints at deeper connections to the greater Mass Effect storyline.

    Mass Effect: Discovery #1 Contains a Compelling Story

    The story itself is mostly told in flashback. The reader meets a side character from the game, Tiran Kandros, as he is reeling in the aftermath of a battle. Kandros, who is the leader of Nexus’ militia in Andromeda, is a much more significant character than the game would have you believe. While Tiran is just another NPC in the game, this comic shows us how he is so much more.

    Iran is a spy, infiltrating the Andromeda Initiative through the Nexus colony. The player only receives a few tidbits of information about Tiran’s life from before you meet him in the game. However, this comic blows apart any banal conceptions a player might have had of him. Despite his background role in the game, as the comic unfolds, it’s clear that Tiran is one of the most integral characters in the story of Andromeda. Through Tiran, we glimpse into not only the Turian perspective on the Initiative, but the resistance against it as well.

    Mass Effect: Discovery hits the shelves Wednesday, May 24th. Make sure to grab a copy at TFAW.com and don’t miss the beautiful variant cover by artist Kate Niemczyk. Until then, guys, keelah e’lai.

    Check out all of our Mass Effect products!

    Mass Effect: Discovery #1, Dark Horse Comics, Released May 24th, 2017. Written by Jeremy Barlow and John Dombrow, Art by Gabriel Guzman, Cover by Michael Atiyeh. $3.99

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    Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1 Brings us back to Kirkwood

    Those familiar with the Dragon Age series know that the world of Thedas has a rich undercurrent of stories that are just waiting to be told, and one such tale is the subject of Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1. Even if you haven’t played through the popular Bioware franchise, this comic stands up on its own merits. While there are elements that people who are completely new to the world will not understand fully, I have hope that the subtle storytelling of the writers will integrate the information in later issues to better introduce new readers to their world. For long-time fans of the series, there are several nods to previous events in the games and to the first comics miniseries by Dark Horse, Magekiller.

    Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1

    In the latest team-up between Bioware and Dark Horse comics, Dragon Age fans are introduced to a young rogue named Vaea. Vaea is squire to the much venerated knight Ser Aaron Hawthorne, who is drunk not just on wine, but also on his imaginings of his own glory. However, Vaea is more than just a simple servant to the grandiose man; she is also an elf motivated by the plight of her people. Using Ser Hawthorne’s influence to travel, Vaea steals in order to share with the disenfranchised elves who are sequestered in the alienages of Thedas.

    Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1 Sees Many Popular Characters Return

    We first meet Vaea as she and her patron are on their way to Kirkwood to visit fan favorite Varric Tethras as he’s on the edge of being appointed Viscount of the troubled city. While Ser Hawthorne is busy spinning drunken tales to a party held in Varric’s honor, Vaea sneaks out to meet up with a former Templar named Ser Nevin Faramore. Faramore had worked directly for Knight Commander Meredith before she was destroyed by Red Lyrium at the end of the second Dragon Age video game.

    Faramore hires Vaea to sneak into the Gallows to retrieve a box of treasures that Commander Meredith had hidden before her death, to which only he possesses the only key. What follows reveals Vaea’s true character as she instead steals the key away from Faramore in order to bring the treasure to the elves of Kirkwood.

    Vaea’s Robin Hood-esque endeavors don’t go unnoticed, however. Almost immediately, Varric shows interest in the woman, quickly recognizing that she is up to more than she seems and giving her the nickname of “Fingers.” Vaea is also approached by a mysterious woman, who insinuates that Vaea has stumbled into a situation much larger than she had originally bargained for through veiled threats about the Inquisition.

    Politics and Action Combine in Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1

    This story promises to explore the schism between elves and humans in the world of Thedas, a schism that has been the source of unending strife since the beginning of the franchise. In one scene, the reader is shown a blithely racist conversation happening amongst a bunch of well-to-do humans while Vaea has to placidly stand by. In addition to this, there are conversations about slavery, poverty, and the wars that have marred the landscapes of Thedas for generations.

    Whether you’re a long time fan of Dragon Age or completely new to the series, this comic is engaging and lures you deeper into the world that Bioware has made for their incredible games. While this first issue is peripheral to the main storyline of the series, the overall tale hints that it will reveal some secrets left over after the end of the last game.

    Between the compelling new characters and at least one returning fan favorite, Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1 will draw you deeper into Kirkwood and the dangers that hide in its shadows.

    Hungry for more Dragon Age products? We’ve got playing cards, graphic novels, patches, and more!

    Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1, Dark Horse, Released May 10th, 2017, Writer: Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, Artist: Fernando Heinz Furukawa, Colorist: Michael Atiyeh, Cover Artist: Sachin Teng, $3.99

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    The Best Marvel Sidekicks

    Sidekicks are an integral part of comic books, serving alongside superheroes as they save the day time and time again. These characters have become icons in their own right. But they often lack the recognition that their hero counterparts get. So, it’s time to give these characters the credit they deserve.

    Last week, we brought you a rundown of the best sidekicks in the DC Universe. This week it’s time to highlight comic giant Marvel’s best sidekicks.

    HYDRA Bob

    HYDRA Bob

    Bob is a fan favorite character. He appears in the Marvel Universe as Deadpool’s sometimes sidekick. Deadpool’s feelings toward Bob vacillate depending on the specific series. Bob’s contribution to Deadpool’s well-being (well, whatever passes for well-being for Deadpool) can’t be ignored. Bob defected from HYDRA when Deadpool broke into the organization’s headquarters in order to save Agent X. Bob supplied the Merc with valuable insight into HYDRA’s inner workings. Since then, HYDRA Bob has been present for many of the antihero’s greatest antics–getting a nod in the 2016 movie.

    Dum Dum Dugan

    Dum Dum Dugan
    Dum Dum Dugan

    A member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Howling Commandos, Dum Dum Dugan is best known as Nick Fury’s sidekick. And he has a great deal of page time in his own right. But he got his start helping Fury out after he saved the S.H.I.E.L.D. leader from Nazi’s in World War 2. Fury relies so much on Dugan he had his personality uploaded into an android (a “life model decoy”) to keep him going after the original Dugan was killed in a mission in the 50’s.

    Bucky Barnes

    Bucky Barnes
    Bucky Barnes

    Some might argue that Bucky doesn’t really count as a sidekick because he’s now a hero in his own right. But we disagree. Bucky got his start as a member of Captain America’s team. He even joined Rogers on his first mission against Red Skull. During World War 2, Bucky was a constant companion of the good Captain. Like many other Marvel sidekicks, Bucky was soon molded into a hero in his own right. He first took a long detour as the villain version of the Winter Soldier. Then eventually took over the Captain America mantel. Currently a hero, the Winter Soldier would never have become the crime fighter he is had it not been for Roger’s tutelage.

    Jubilee

    Jubilee
    Jubilee

    We could make a strong argument that all of the X-Men are Charles Xavier’s sidekicks, but we’ll save that for another time. Instead, let’s highlight one of the best hero sidekick relationships in the long history of the X-Men franchise–Wolverine and Jubilee. Jubilee was first inducted into the X-Men after saving Wolverine from Reavers. After that, she joins the man on several missions, illustrating first hand how useful she is by saving Wolverine time and time again. Their relationship immediately takes on a father/daughter dynamic. Jubilee is constantly prodding at the older X-Men member and Wolverine doing everything he can to protect her.

    Jim Rhodes

    Jim Rhodes
    Jim Rhodes

    Jim Rhodes has evolved from his sidekick beginning, becoming a superhero in his own right. For decades, Rhodes (Rhodey to Tony Stark) has piloted a version of the Iron Man suit known as War Machine. A former military commander and pilot, he met Tony Stark when his plane was shot down over enemy territory. After they successfully teamed up to escape, Rhodes and Stark forged a lasting friendship that developed into partnership. Stark trusted Rhodes to back him up in any crises. Rhodes even took over the Iron Man mantle when Stark was unable to safely fill the roll, However, the suit hadn’t been properly calibrated to Rhodes’s brain.

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    10 of the Greatest Black Superheroes

    The history of black characters in comic books has often been controversial and exploitative, However, the legacy of some has helped to define the public consciousness of race and culture. Black representation is still an uphill fight. But comic books are at the forefront of this fight, bringing characters of color to the forefront of the media.

    There is still a great deal of work to be done. But creators and fans alike can unite through the fantastic characters that have come onto the scene in recent decades. These characters of color celebrate black lives in all forms. In honor of Black History month, here’s a countdown of some of our favorite black heroes.

    War Machine Alias: James Rupert Rhodes

    War Machine
    War Machine

    Rhodes is best known for his inclusion in Iron Man’s arsenal of suited support, However, War Machine is a hero in his own right. He’s taken on such evil-doers as Obediah Stane and Hydra. He’s not just a part of Iron Man’s shadow, but a leader and a hero. Not only does he kick badie-butt, but he’s also a brilliant aviation engineer and a Marine in the US military. Rhodes also served as Iron Man for a stint filling in for Tony Stark when he was too inebriated to fly. War Machine single-handedly saving Stark Tower from the villain Magma. That’s just the beginning of Jimmy Rhodes road to super herodom. He later became the director of Worldwatch and the CEO of Stark Industries. Check War Machine out in Marvel’s War Machine Classic trade paperback by Scott Benson for a taste of what he has to offer.

    Blade Alias: Eric Brooks

    Blade
    Blade

    Maybe you know him best as played by Wesley Snipes in his millennium-spanning movie series about vampire hunting. But this unlikely superhero got his start in Marvel comics as a side character in the lesser-known title Tomb of Dracula. While his story got its start there, he’s had a much longer and more popular run as a leading man. His origin story alone sets him apart from your average comic character.

    Born in a brothel, Blade’s mother was killed by a vampire (Deacon Frost) who had disguised himself as a doctor brought in to help assist with his birth. Frost feasted on Blade’s mother, in so doing passing on vampiric enzymes to the newborn Brooks and effectively infecting him with a modified version of the vampirism. He gained super strength, a lengthened lifespan, the ability to sense other supernatural beings and an immunity to other vampiric effects. After training for several years with vampire hunter Jamal Afari, Blade put these powers into action by traveling around the world to kill evil beings wherever he can find them. You can find Blade in the eponymous series, as a member or the Avengers, and in Blade: Black and White.

    Ironheart Alias: Riri Williams

    Ironheart
    Ironheart

    If you are unfamiliar with Ironheart, you need to get yourself acquainted with her comics as quickly possible. Williams is currently the protege to Tony Stark. She started out as a fifteen year-old super genius attending M.I.T. Haunted by the memory of a violent incident that left both her stepfather and best friend dead, Riri built her own version of the Iron Man Armor suit using materials she stole from her campus. After catching wind of Riri, Stark officially took her under his wing and helped her to become a full blown superhero–Ironheart. After the second superhero civil war, Riri even built an A.I. version of Stark to help guide her heroing when the real billionaire was put into a coma. Ironheart’s story is still unfolding in the Invincible Iron Man comic series.

    Spider-Man Alias: Miles Morales

    Spider-Man
    Spider-Man

    Miles Morales is probably the best known of a new generation of superheroes, having taken up the mantle of Spider-Man. Like Peter Parker, Morales was bitten by a mutated Oz Corporation spider. As a result, he has superpowers similar to the original Spider-Man’s, but with a few twists. Morales, like Parker, is also driven by a similar motivation to do good for his city. He is Black Hispanic and grew up in New York,. His experience is a perfect starting point for conversations about race in the realm of comic books. And writers of the series are not afraid to approach that subject. While his story isn’t as expansive as his mentor Peter Parker’s is yet, there are enough comics out there to be a little intimidating. So, a good place to start is the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.

    Luke Cage (Power Man) Alias: Carl Lucas

    Luke Cage
    Luke Cage

    Luke Cage was the very first black hero to have his own title. Debuting in 1972, Luke Cage, Hero for Hire came out at the height of Blaxploitation. Despite this, he’s become a particularly powerful representative for the black experience in the superhero genre. He’s imbued with super-strength, and unbreakable after being forced into involuntary medical experimentation. Cage has had a storied history. He’s gone from working as a mercenary “hero for hire” to partnering up with The Fantastic Four to fight off Doctor Doom. He’s used his powers to defend the people of his Harlem home. Find Luke Cage in his own title trade Luke Cage: Avenger or the ongoing Power Man and Iron Fist series.

    Storm Alias: Ororo Monroe

    Storm
    Storm

    Storm is best known for affiliation with the Marvel comics team X-Men. Before being part of the X-Men, she was tragically orphaned when her parents were killed by an airplane crashing into their Cairo home. Left alone, Orora sought out her mother’s ancestral home in the Serengeti desert. There she was trained to respect and hone her powers, which had been passed through several generations of her family. After meeting with the X-Men, she learned the true nature of her magic (a mutant gene just like the rest of the team) and set  about using them to better the world around her. Orora has seen a great deal of action in other titles like Marvel Team-Up and Black Panther. The best Storm story has to go to  X-Men: Worlds Apart. Otherwise, you can find her story continuing to unfold in the Uncanny X-Men series.

    Green Lantern Alias: John Stewart

    Green Lantern
    Green Lantern

    John Stewart became DC’s first African American superhero when he took up the mantle of the Green Lantern in 1971. Since then, his story has helped to define a generation of DC comics. Originally selected by the Green Lantern Corps as a backup for Hal Jordan, Stewart has served as a Lantern several times. He eventually became the first Guardian of the Universe- the Master Builder- during the Green Lantern Mosaic arc. Stewart’s incredibly keen intellect and preternatural will power makes him not only one of the most dynamic Green Lanterns, but one of the most remarkable characters in the DC universe. While you can find Stewart throughout most of the Green Lantern arcs after the early seventies, we recommend checking out Blackest Night or Green Lantern Corps: The Lost Army.   

    Spawn Alias: Al Simmons

    Spawn
    Spawn

    Al Simmons was a highly skilled Marine who learned too much about the nature of the CIA. In death, Simmons is Spawn, a demonic assassin with supernatural abilities and a huge agenda. Charged with battling both the forces of heaven and hell in order to hold a balance in the universe, Spawn is the anti-hero to end them all. Spawn’s long crusade has pitted him against street criminals, gods and everything in between. While originally conceived of by Todd MacFarlan, Spawn stories have been written by a number of other comics luminaries such as Alan Moore and Brian Michael Bendis. The best place to pick up the Spawn series is in its very beginning with Spawn Origins.

    Falcon Alias: Sam Wilson

    Falcon
    Falcon

    Sam Wilson was originally a social worker and former soldier. He was kidnapped by Red Skull after his plane crashed.  Villain Red Skull used a Cosmic Cube to give Wilson the power to communicate telepathically with birds. While Red Skull was attempting to craft Wilson into a minion of Hydra, he was rescued by Captain America. The two quickly became friends and Steve Rogers helped to hone Wilson into the superhero Falcon.

    After rescuing Black Panther, the Wakandan king gifted Wilson with a suit that would enable him to fly. He uses his ability to communicate with birds, his suit, and his will to do right by the world. Sam Wilson is a shaping force behind the Avengers team and the entire Marvel Universe. While best known for his service as Falcon, Sam Wilson was also selected by Steve Rogers as his official replacement as Captain America when he had aged out of the role. Find Sam’s origins in Captain America Epic Collection: Coming of Falcon or follow his current series Captain America Sam Wilson.

    Black Panther Alias: T’Challa

    Black Panther
    Black Panther

    King T’Challa Wakanda is without doubt one of the most powerful superheroes both on the page and outside of it. Widely considered the first true black superhero, Black Panther is fan favorite. His power and influence makes him fight against injustice and racism throughout the world. Black Panther is powerful in all senses of the word. He’s got physical strength and political pull as the king of technologically advanced African country Wakanda. He uses his power to unite people across the world. Black Panther’s story has spanned decades. He’s teamed up with just about everyone imaginable in the Marvel Universe from the Avengers to the X-Men. If you’re new to Black Panther, check out the incredible new series by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze.

     

     

    Who else would you include on the list? And, which black heroes do you wish would get more attention in the future? Leave your answers in the comments below.  

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    Remember, Remember

    Few names are more recognizable in comic books than Alan Moore. He has created some of the most iconic and inspiring works in the entire industry. His memorable works include The Killing Joke, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But unlike most other comic writers, Moore has used his comics as a means to criticize injustices.

    alan-mooreThe man behind the comics was often maligned and criticized for alternative worldviews in the early days of his work, Much of his career has been spent fighting against inequality. An anarchist and outspoken supporter of minority sexualities and religion, Moore explored these themes in his decades-long career.

     

    JUMP INTO ALAN MOORE’S NEWEST PROJECTPROVIDENCE

    Many other writers of his time were afraid to include such themes. Moore was not. He included LGBT characters regularly in his writing. He often focused on grappling with social inequality, distributions of power and even touching on the ephemera of consciousness. Even when challenged by the mainstream, Moore held steadfast to his convictions. The result–some of the most powerful comic series ever created.

    The Struggle Against Tyranny

    Perhaps best known for his work in the Image comics title V for Vendetta, Alan Moore used this work as a vehicle for his political views. When he was writing it, an extremely right of center government was in power in his English homeland. Moore used the party as creative fodder, exaggerating their policies to extreme proportions. He took it further by installing the resulting tyrannical government as the leaders of a near future London.

    vendettaV for Vendetta chronicles the struggle against this tyranny. It follows the enigmatic title character V as he drives to inspire a resistance in a country exhausted by their leaders’ brutality. V’s efforts have were inspired by true events and V, has, in turn, inspired others to action.

    V was modeled (highlighted by the mask that he wears) after the infamous rebel Guy Fawkes. He played a key role in the Gunpowder Plot that took place on November 5, 1605, where he was arrested for guarding explosives intended for blowing up the British parliament. Dressed in black and donning a Guy Fawkes mask, V represents the fight for British freedom from a government oppresser.

    V Adopted by Other Groups Fighting Oppression

    Even after the initial fame of the series, V took on an entirely new kind of notoriety. It became something of a totem for activists on several different platforms. Probably most notable, the Guy Fawkes mask made famous by the character has been used by the hacker group Anonymous to conceal its identity as they work to right cyber wrongs. The mask has also become a mantle of sorts for Occupy Wall Street, the Bahraini protesters during Arab Spring, and many others.

    In response to the use of his characters real life manifestation in the political discourse, Moore said in a 2008 Entertainment Weekly interview:

    “I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.” – Alan Moore

    That same year, he defended his belief in anarchy in a short video, dispelling any doubt that he was in line with the movement that was taking up his imagery.

    Swamp Thing: Saga Of The Swamp Thing Book 02 HC
    Order Alan Moore’s Epic Swamp Thing Run

    But V does not stand alone in Alan Moore’s arsenal of activist comic book characters. During his run with The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Moore transforms the character into what we know him as now–an eco hero. Swamp Thing went from a has-been monster man to a deeply internalized comic hero. He could critically examine the relationship between man and nature in the way only a sentient plant could. Through him, Moore found a way to challenge such topics as pollution, climate change and the usurpation of natural resources. His position has been so notable that several serious literary critics have discussed Swamp Thing and his role as an insurgent ecological force for change.

    Moore’s Watchmen Takes on Power Imbalance

    And of course, no conversation about Alan Moore would be complete without discussing Watchmen. Considered by some to be the greatest comic book of all time, Watchmen is Moore’s masterwork. Much like he did with V for Vendetta, Moore built a new history for the world of Watchmen that shares deep roots with our own world, but varies in some key ways.

    PRE-ORDER THE WATCHMEN COLLECTORS EDITION BOX SET

    Watchmen takes place in an alternate universe where superheroes were introduced much earlier than most modern comics (with a few notable exceptions like Captain America and the X-Men), with the “golden age” of heroes taking place between the 1940s and 60s. The plot takes place in a mirror world that echoes the Reagan administration’s run in the US. This is intended to illustrate the catastrophic power imbalances that have lead the United States to the brink of a third World War.

    Watchmen Noir Hardcover
    Order Watchmen Noir HC

    Moore admitted that much of his motivation for Watchmen was to be a criticism for the Reagan administration’s. In a 1987 conversation with Neil Gaiman and Dave Gibbons for The Comics Journal, Moore said, “This is not anti-Americanism, it’s anti-Reaganism…”and “…at the moment a certain part of Reagan’s America isn’t scared. They think they’re invulnerable…”

    The series brings humanity terrifyingly close to complete destruction. This echoes Swamp Thing’s continual assertions of the fragility of human life. it also places the power to end everything into a disturbingly small number of hands, striking harshly against this feeling of invulnerability.

    FIND OUT WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN

    Although other comics writers have used their art to further conversations about political and social issues, few have done so as prolifically and expertly as Moore. In so doing, he has also helped to build a comic book legacy that includes political criticism and social change. So, this November, remember, remember that comic books can have much deeper meaning than what meets the eye. Brilliant creators like Alan Moore prove it.

    WANT MORE FROM MOORE? PRE-ORDER A COLLECTION OF 10 SHORT STORIES: BRIGHTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE

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    Welcome to Lovecraft Country

    Locke & Key vol 1 and Harrow County a love letter to HP Lovecraft

    H.P. Lovecraft’s name is indelibly linked to the horror genre. A true master of spinning the mundanely macabre into cerebral terror that pesters the mind long after you’ve finished reading his works. Lovecraft’s voice reaches out of his grave and aims to scare us into our own. The Lovecraftian horror stories are his legacy, and some of today’s top creators are carrying the torch.

    He’s introduced the psychological and the existential to our fears, invented incredible monsters to feed upon us, and shone new (albeit flickering) light on the oblique things that have always quickened our pulses. It’s no surprise his influence has exerted itself all things horror, including comic books.

    In many ways, Lovecraft has found his true successors in a couple of notable comic book series: Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook, and Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Harrow County is an exhilarating ongoing series produced by Dark Horse comics and is a lead feature for the company, with a TV series currently under development with the Syfy channel. Locke & Key is arguably one of the most talked about horror comics ever written.

    Locke & Key is something of a comic phenomenon. It’s been re-released in several reprints including a master edition and a holiday set. It’s also been turned into a coloring book, a card game, adapted into an audioplay, and there was even an infamous TV pilot.

    Both the Harrow County and Locke & Key series share a legacy of Lovecraftian horror that helps to define them as something beyond mere scary stories. While there are countless comics that have been influenced by Lovecraft’s work, these two series stand apart when looking at the elements that truly make Lovecraft’s work singular.

    What makes a Lovecraftian story truly different than your average tale is its execution. Lovecraft tales are an intricate combination of a gothic story of inherited guilt, a monster story about a powerful otherworldly being, and part psychological trauma. These stories offer more than just your typical jump and scare horror. Lovecraft’s stories are dark and threatening, pushing readers beyond their boundaries of belief.

    Harrow County is Ripe with Lovecraftian Horror Touches

    Harrow Couty Volume 1Slow burning, lingering terror is what you expect when imagining Lovecraft’s work and it’s absolutely what you get in Harrow County. It’s a visceral new take on the tradition of small town witch stories. It builds a sense of dread, slowly unveiling the truth of the dark magic that haunts the eponymous county. The heroine, Emmy, finds that she is intimately tied to the terrible legacy that has mired Harrow County in fear for generations, leading to revelations that stain the rest of the unfolding story. Harrow County takes this classic structure of a witch story and broadens it with Lovecraftian themes of inheritance, the resurgence of eldritch powers, and toxic superstition.

    Harrow County is the kind of story that sits on your chest, making it subtly harder and harder to breath as the panels pass. It’s makes you feel anxiety about putting your feet near that unthought of gap between your bed and your floor, and reminds you that you really should run up the basement stairs.

    It’s not just a New England Witch story. It’s a story about the things we see in the dark and the what they could become if only given the right injection of magic. It’s not just a ghost story. It’s the story of the primordial things that made us first image them away as ghosts.

    Locke & Key Echoes Lovecraft’s Love of the Forbidden

    Locke & Key vol 2Much like Harrow County, Locke & Key is filled to the brim with its share of monsters. The Locke family is faced with ghosts, a manipulative echo that lives at the bottom of of their well, living shadows, giants ,and demons that threaten to rip apart the very fabric of their world. The story reminds us, however, that the most dangerous monsters can be the people that have been right next to us all along.

    From the very beginning, it is evident that Locke & Key draws on Lovecraft for inspiration. References to his work are made throughout, but most importantly, the very first issue finds the Locke family relocating to the New England town named Lovecraft after the murder of their patriarch. The true significance of this is because Lovecraft’s settings are so iconic, with many of his works taking place in pastoral villages or small towns in New England. In fact, this type of setting is so deeply associated with the late writer that it’s gained the nickname “Lovecraft Country.” This setting is used with purpose, as these places resist modernity and foster an eerie isolation that glances at the modern world, but shies away from it.

    In Locke & Key, you see echoes of Lovecraft’s fascination for the forbidden, especially when it comes to the idea of hidden knowledge. Several of his stories touch on the subject of the erasure or obscurement of memory, and the discovery of secret things hidden from the minds of others.

    These stories find their answer in the magic of the Keyhouse as it blurs the lines between memory, fantasy and reality. To Lovecraft, knowledge was a primeval power that upon looking into its depths could drive a person to madness. This destructive quality is threaded throughout Locke & Key, with the blooming knowledge of the Keyhouse becoming poisonous to the people tied to it and reaching beyond the pages to disturb the minds of the people who read about it.

    Harrow County and Locke & Key are those rare series that will linger in your bones for long after you’ve finished reading them. Both  share a similar heritage that makes them something more than just your run of the mill scary comic both as they are heavily influenced by the master of horror craft, H. P.  Lovecraft. Both embrace the themes he used to terrify his audience while translating them into a new medium, all the while haunting an entirely new genre with them.

    CHECK OUT LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR AT TFAW
    VISIT OUR SPECIAL HORROR SECTION

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    Don’t Fear The Batman

    The third annual Batman Day is September 17th, and who deserves a day of celebration more than the Caped Crusader? No one. It’s hard to overstate the impact that Batman has had on comic books.

    Quite possibly the most recognizable comic book character, Batman has appeared in more than ten thousand issues to date. He’s a genius detective who dedicates his time and incredible resources to the pursuit of fighting crime in his beloved Gotham City and beyond. He’s a complex and nuanced hero, whose story has been told again and again, subtly reforming in the same way that we build myths.

    For long time fans, Batman has changed significantly over his nearly eighty-year run, and with each new capitulation, he brings exciting new storylines. But for casual fans, or for those who have never picked up a Batman comic, the call of the Bat-Signal can be intimidating. Those thousands of issues represent quite a big backlog of reading to catch up on!

    So, in honor of Batman Day, we bring to you a new reader’s guide to the very best that Batman has to offer. Below, you’ll find several titles that help a new reader to gain some insight on the Dark Knight so that you’ll become a shining star on your Batman trivia team.

    Batman: Year One

    Batman: Year One

    As the title suggests, Batman: Year One chronicles the very beginnings of Batman as he starts out to become the savior of crime-riddled Gotham. Written in 1986 by Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) — who had already gained quite a reputation by then — and drawn by Dave Mazzucchelli (Daredevil: Born Again), Year One was the reboot that everyone had been waiting for after DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths event.

    The story itself follows Batman as he struggles to gain footing as a vigilante and slowly rebuilds the entire story of the Caped Crusader. As this title was DC’s attempt at restarting Batman’s legacy, it is essential to read and a perfect starting place for a new fan. From here, you’ll know enough about the dynasty to explore even the most loose canon titles.

    Batman: The Long Halloween

    Batman: The Long Halloween

    By Jeph Loeb (Superman Batman, Fallen Son: Death Of Captain America) and Tim Sale (Hulk: Grey, Grendel), The Long Halloween is the quintessential Batman series, now collected into a beautiful graphic novel. Long heralded as one of the best Batman storylines, Long Halloween is a great starting point for new readers because it features the character at his best.

    The story unfolds as Batman hunts down an evasive serial killer who strikes Gotham on holidays, coming to critical mass at the titular Halloween. This story reminds the reader that Batman is a master detective and it artfully illustrates the relationship between Batman’s alias, Bruce Wayne, as the action unfolds before you. (Pro tip: Check out the awesome Batman Noir edition that came out in 2014. It’s absolutely beautiful and this is the exact story that’ll make you glad for investing in a nice copy.)

    Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?

    Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?

    Written by comic legend Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Creatures of the Night) with art by Andy Kubert (Dark Knight III: The Master Race, Flashpoint), this is an unlikely pick for new readers to the Batman saga because it takes place right after Bruce Wayne’s death. Many new readers shy away from this particular title because of its place right in the middle of a major story shift, but it’s easily one of the most critical pieces of the Batman mythos. It is the narrative answer to a recap for Batman’s extensive history, featuring appearances from every major character from the comic series’ past.

    While it is not a typical Batman story, preferring poetics and a shifting narrative, it examines the character deeply and in a way that is liable to make even the oldest Bat-fans fall in love all over again.

    Batman: Arkham Asylum

    Batman: Arkham Asylum

    Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, Doom Patrol) writes and Dave McKean (Violent Cases, The Sandman) illustrates this intense and psychologically challenging series that casts a long, dark shadow on the Batman story.

    Set within the heart of the legendary Arkham Asylum, where Gotham’s most disturbed villains have started a riot, Batman must face both his classic foes and himself to save the day. Arkham Asylum has a visceral story and Dave McKean’s surreal art leaves a lasting memory of the darkness that Batman has to face during its telling.

    This comic is essential for those readers who understand the importance of well-crafted villains for heroic storylines. While we don’t recommend this title as the very first Batman story you read, it should definitely be picked up shortly afterward.

    We Are Robin Volume 1

    We Are Robin vol 1

    Even more than Batman’s villains, the Caped Crusader’s allies are hugely important to his story, and there are none more so than his perennial protégé Robin. Writer Lee Bermejo teams up with artists Rob Haynes and Khary Randolph to explore another side of the city of Gotham through the eyes of several aspiring teenaged vigilantes, who all take up the mantle of Robin.

    This series reinvents the character of Robin, placing it not as the moniker for a single side-kick that works alongside Batman, but as a call to arms for the youth of Gotham. We Are Robin is cathartic and refreshing, reminding the reader that Batman doesn’t exist in a vacuum, because his influence inspires a generation of young people to take action against the corruption that they have uncovered in their city. We Are Robin is diverse and not at all pandering, while it discusses the themes of everyday heroism that began the Batman legacy in the first place.

    Batwoman: Elegy

    Batwoman: Elegy

    Batwoman is in many ways the true successor to Batman himself, and in Batwoman: Elegy, she is at her best. Perhaps the seminal work of Batwoman’s library, Elegy also happens to be one of the best works that helped to define Gotham outside of Batman himself. While his influence is felt throughout the story, the true hero featured here is Kate Kane, an heiress who chooses to use her vast resources to better Gotham by taking on the Bat cowl.

    During an investigation into a crime-worshipping cult, Batwoman faces off with a new villain who emulates Alice in Wonderland’s title heroine with a deadly obsession. Her encounter with Alice sends catastrophic ripples through Kane’s entire life and cuts to the core of what made her become a hero in the first place.

    Acclaimed writer Greg Rucka tells this engaging, fast-paced story which is brought to life by award-winning artist J.H. Williams III’s breathtaking work. Elegy is sparkling with action, and you’ll find yourself torn between dying to read what happens next and wanting luxuriate in William’s genre-defining layouts. Most importantly, Elegy introduces new readers to Kane’s own legacy and illustrates the lasting power that the cowl wields.

    SEE THESE AND OTHER GREAT BATMAN PRODUCTS AT TFAW.COM

    So what do you think? What is your favorite Batman comic? Join the conversation and leave your suggestions in the comments or hit us up on Twitter and Instagram at @TFAW.

    Batman Day at Things From Another World


    Visit any of our four locations for Batman Day to get in on special Batman Day savings on graphic novels and more. Plus, bring the kiddos so they can participate in fun Batman Day activities.

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