Given how long the Teen Titans have been around, you’d think they’d have grown up already. In fact, the original trio of adolescent superheroes showed up in the mid-60s, then were revived in the 1970’s, revived again as the New Teen Titans in the 1980s. DC Comics re-relaunched Teen Titans in Nov 2011 as part of DC’s New 52 event. And now we have Teen Titans Rebirth. These teens must be getting a bit cranky: that’s a lotta birth events!
With a visual style reminiscent of the Netflix hit Sense8, this new, very modern reimagining of the Teen Titans starts with the mysterious Damian Wayne (Robin, son of Batman) finding and kidnapping each of the titans from their typical environments. He starts with Beast Boy, who’s hosting an epic Hollywood rave at a luxurious home he’s rented for the occasion. The story then switches to Starfire, who’s at an island in the Caribbean rescuing children from human trafficking, just to be kidnapped herself.
Next up is goth girl Raven, who haunts New York City museums after hours to avoid being overwhelmed: she’s an empath. But that’s not enough to stop her also being zapped and kidnapped. The newest member of the gang, Kid Flash, lives in a gritty, urban Central City and seems to be a constant victim of racial profiling in a quite contemporary twist to the story.
The four of them wake up chained to the wall of a cave with Robin “son of Batman”, who asks them: “You’re probably wondering why I’ve brought us all together…”
There’s an irresistible appeal to teen superheroes, because the interior dialog of any hero wrestling with good versus evil is amplified by the adolescent angst. With Teen Titans Rebirth it’s clear we’re going to have another take on this story through the five rather archetypal teens, though certainly our first full glimpse of Robin makes him look pretty evil. But Robin, a bad guy? Nah, I can’t buy it.
The story and visuals by Ben Percy & Jonboy Meyers is certainly fun, bright, lively and accessible. Now if the story can keep up for the rest of this DC Comics series, it will indeed be a great rebirth of the Teen Titans. Stay tuned for Issue #2!
Katara and Sokka have been away from their village and the Southern Water Tribe for three long years. Three years when lots was happening for these Airbenders (see Smoke and Shadow for the immediate prequel in the Avatar storyline). While they were absent, the village has grown dramatically from a circle of igloos to a thriving metropolis, completely with dozens of Northern waterbenders.
But that’s not the strangest thing! Even more surprising to the two siblings is that their father Hakoda is now the head chieftain of the entire Southern Water Tribe too. But he’s not the same man they left, and it’s quite possible that power and promises of even greater power whispered in his ear have made Hakoda forgetful of their humble roots.
The children stay with Auntie Ashuna who helps them come to terms with all the changes that have turned their little village into a city. If they can survive eating some of her famous seal jerky, at least.
The city might have Katara and Sokka’s father as chief, but it’s really Malina, a powerful waterbender from the Northern Water Tribe, who is pulling the strings behind the scene. But what are her motives, and why is he in the Southern city in the first place? And why is Maliq so upset when a couple of local children steal his briefcase that contains plans for the palace they’re proposing be constructed so that Hakoda can be given the respect required from other nations?
Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South is the fifth graphic novel that continues the story original presented in the Avatar: The Last Airbender TV series created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. If you’re following the overall story, The Legend of Korra occurs seventy years after North and South.
Whether you’re an Avatar: The Last Airbender super fan or just curious about this much loved series, North and South is a fun story of siblings, family, adventure and the growth of nations in a world ruled by magic as much as by logic.
Doom Patrol has a long pedigree in the DC Universe, appearing first back in My Greatest Adventure #80 back in June of 1963. The familiar story is of a group of misfits with super powers whose gifts were both cool and problematic, causing them to be isolated from the rest of humanity. The series ran as Doom Patrol through 121 issues, finally being killed off in October 1968. Since then, Doom Patrol has shown up time and again with different groups and members. All but Robotman, who has somehow managed to survive all the reboots.
In this latest take on Doom Patrol, the story revolves around perky and peculiar Casey Brinke, a daredevil ambulance driver who relaxes by playing the retro video game “Galactic Matador”. She works with single dad Sam and when they’re not rescuing people, they’re engaged in metaphysical musings about the universe.
During one meal break, Sam opines that there’s always an unknown world hidden inside what we can see, and points out that there are untold mysteries even inside a simple Greek gyro. In fact, Casey fires back, we might all just be inside someone else’s gyro.
With the weird and surreal world of Doom Patrol, we then learn that there is indeed an entire universe hidden within the gyro, a desert planet and a robotic battle that ends with an explosion so massive that the gyro itself explodes in front of Casey and Sam.
Meanwhile, at a bland hotel in nowhere, USA, a group of strange humanoid creatures are meeting to talk about the business of meat. It’s hard to know what the heck is going on, but at one point we learn that they’ve identified a “sentient organic generator sprawl” that should be a limitless supply of meat and that the aliens suggest it be called Danny Burgers.
Casey encounters a metal man, just in time for him to be destroyed by a fast-moving garbage truck. Or is he destroyed? She takes all the parts home, just to get a knock on the door. It’s Terry None, and she’s singing and tap-dancing, a singing telegram happy birthday. Except it isn’t Casey’s birthday and the end of the song involves Casey’s roommate blowing up. Awkward. Fortunately Terry can move in!
That’s where this first installment ends, and it’s definitely on the more peculiar side of comic book stories. It’s a long way from the original Doom Patrol, that’s for sure, but there’s a certain wacky charm in Derington‘s bright style and Way‘s storyline. Check it out, and you might just get hooked!
When a beautiful teenage actress is killed by two masked hoodlums, it’s up to Cheryl, uh, Lieutenant Cheryl Harrison and Detective Roy Garney to figure out what’s going on and who committed this high-profile crime. Except they don’t get along. I mean, they really don’t get along. Like cats-and-dogs don’t get along. And Harrison being part of the hated Internal Affairs certainly isn’t helping things progress smoothly.
But there are depths to the case that make it quite complicated, not the least is that “The Kid”, 28yo Mayor Kendall Kincaid, son of beloved former Mayor Henry Kincaid, who is possibly implicated in the crime. Certainly Roy has a relationship with the “vic” that makes things a bit awkward. And there’s Josh, who is busy meditating and doing yoga when he’s not torturing people to keep them in line.
It’s all madness in this dark, slacker vision of Los Angeles, with detective Roy suggesting to the mayor after a tough video game session that he “swat” a particularly hated young rival, just to have the mayor really send out a SWAT team to intimidate the boy. And when a suspect surfaces, what he says to Roy turns the case on its head. Or does it?
There’s lots to like in this tough, gritty and very mature audience mystery where everyone talks the patois of the street (“uses a lot of cuss words”) and the interconnected relationships are explained slowly and gradually. Is there something strange going on between Roy, the mayor and the girl who has been murdered? Undoubtedly. But you’ll need to read this issue and head right on to #6 to find out more.
Hybrid human animals are nothing new to comics, but when a genetic splicing experiment goes wrong in Angel-Catbird #1, meek programmer Strig Feleedus finds out that there are definite pros and cons to becoming a hybrid. Hired by the shadowy Muroid Inc to perfect a genetic algorithm, he quickly realizes there’s something a bit off about his boss Muroid and something oh so right about his female colleague Cate Leone.
Cate, it turns out, is from a long line of shape-shifters and she serves not just as Strig’s love interest in Angel-Catbird, but as a half-cat she also helps corral the gang of lunk-headed, exotic cat/humans. A peculiar group that includes the hybrid cat/person/bat Count Catula.
Strig transforms into a human/cat/owl creature, much to his surprise. Then rats start to show up at the cat’s exclusive nightclub the Catastrophe and things get out of hand: It turns out that the rats are controlled by Muroid, who is half-rat himself. He’s more than a bit crazy, rubbing his hands together in glee as he proceeds with his plans for total world domination. Um, his Plan for Total World Domination, with the help of his little rat people. And there’s no space for cats in a world run by rats, that’s for sure.
Written by Margaret Atwood, an author whose name you might be more familiar with if you read novels and poetry, Angel-Catbird is fun, but seems like it’s aimed more at a teen audience. There’s a lack of depth in the storytelling that is so characteristic of more adult graphic novels. It’s also littered with factoids about domestic cats, about indoor versus outdoor cats, about the number of birds estimated killed annually by outdoor cats, etc. Interesting, but by placing them as footnotes throughout the story, they killed the narrative flow and pulled me out of the story time and again.
Still, Atwood and artist Johnnie Christmas set up a classic good versus evil tension, complete with the diabolical genius and the ingenue love interest, so in some sense it’s a classic adventure mystery. Atwood herself says she aimed for a noir, 40’s style mystery, but Angel-Catbird isn’t anywhere near dark enough for a true noir tale. Nonetheless, if you’re a cat person you’ll love this, and if you just like chewing on part human, part animal stories, well, I’d pounce on this one if I were you!
We’re accustomed to superheroes with secret identities that are kinda cool, if a bit banal. Peter Parker is a newspaper photographer. Clark Kent is a reporter. Bruce Wayne is a super-rich philanthropist. Bruce Banner is a scientist. Tony Stark is a rich philanthropist and scientist. And then there’s Chris Vargas, dull middle-aged reporter for a dying newspaper with a secret. His secret identity not only improves his physique and powers, it also sheds years off his age and improves his health too. He’s Captain Kid.
In Captain Kid #1 we’re introduced to Vargas in a bar where he’s celebrating his birthday with such a hacking cough that he barely manages to blow out the candles on his cake. He’s out of shape and doesn’t even have aspirations of anything bigger in his life. He works for a jerk of a managing editor, he drinks with a few friends, and he takes care of his elderly father. Not much of a life, really.
But when he’s Captain Kid, he’s super. He can pick up cars and float them to safety, he can sense electronics and the presence of weapons on others, and even detects what he slyly refers to as a “Jack Kirby machine” hidden in Supreme Lawn & Garden Supply. Turns out it’s just the tip of a bad iceberg, an evil empire that is plotting to subjugate all humans. Luckily the mysterious Helea shows up to help him and teach him a bit more about his superpowers. Yes, another superhero, but this time she’s wearing a “RELAX” t-shirt and looks like she just got out of an aerobics class.
Are they enough to stop the Mysterious Serpent? We’ll find out in subsequent issues.
This is a snarky, profanity-laced comic that definitely earns its “Mature Readers” rating. Is it a good story? So far it’s too soon to tell, but hopefully Mark Waid and Tom Peyer can turn a funny concept into a good story. Time will tell. Or perhaps Captain Kid will tell.
Seven to Eternity #1 is fantastic, a powerful vision of a far-flung world where generations of natives have been oppressed and exploited by Garils Sulm, The Mud King, who rules by subterfuge and spreads dissent and disharmony through whispered gossip, doubt and innuendo. He has crushed every family he encountered on the way to becoming the feared ruler of the planet. Except for the Osidis clan, where old Zebadiah refused to listen to the siren song of The Mud King and eventually escaped to a wilderness hundreds of miles from civilization.
The Mud King isn’t satisfied with partial subjugation, however, and spreads the rumor that the Osidis clan are cowards, even while they were living far, far away, far away from the war. Wars have a way of showing up, even when you’re not looking to be involved. Even when you’re doing your very best to escape.
The story is told from the perspective of Zebadiah’s oldest son, Adam, who is married and has a child, along with his two siblings Peter and Sandra. They’re a clan in the middle of nowhere, harming no-one, and they just want to be left alone, but that’s not how this world works, and when Sulm decides it’s time to bring the Osidris family back into his world, the result is an explosion of powers “not o’ this world”. And an offer Adam might not be able to refuse…
This is the start of a bold new series that’s part James Cameron’s Avatar, part Alien, and a whole lotta imaginative story with lush, breathtaking art by Jerome Opeña. And it’s only just beginning of the tale…
The retro story The Rocketeer at War is set in England. It’s 1942, the height of WWII, and the US Air Force continues to test out its Rocketeer jetpack, hoping to create an army of flying men. Then private Cliff Secord is pulled into the story after rescuing the comely pilot Roxy and thwarting a Nazi attack on one of the American bases. But this is WWII and the Nazis have their own secret army of flying men they’re trying to build, an army that will let the Third Reich spread across the planet and win the war.
But mild mannered Cliff Secord has a secret: He is the original Rocketeer, and when his country asks him to resume his efforts on behalf of the Air Force, how can he say no? That his girl back home has signed up for the Women’s Army Corps (the “WAC”) is just a coincidence. He’s suiting up and back in the air, attacking the Axis powers both Japanese and German, while zipping and swooping like a bird. A bird with a machine gun.
Of course the Rocketeer suit doesn’t work very well under water, which proves to be an issue. On the bright side, his hallucinations while running out of oxygen are at least entertaining. Problem is, when his WAC girlfriend Betty is kidnapped by the Nazi regime, Cliff is put in a bind because the last thing he’s going to do is put her life at risk. But he’s a patriot and certainly isn’t going to choose anything where the Axis might get the upper hand in the war!
Fortunately he’s already dragooned some of his old Rocketeering chums from back the good ole US of A and together they might just come up with a solution that has Betty rescued, the Allies on top and the hated Nazis finding out that you just don’t mess with the US Air Force. No sirree.
If you’re a fan of retro 40’s comics and stories, there’s a lot to really enjoy in The Rocketeer At War. It’s clear that artist Dave Bullock and writer Marc Guggenheim have done their homework with vehicles, fashions, even the weapons of WWII and the major battles (the action ranges all over the globe as the story unfolds), showing a deft nostalgic touch while remembering to keep story front and center. Turns out, this is your father’s comic book. And that’s a good thing.
World War I has ended abruptly and everyone’s attention is now on the plague that’s devastated the world’s population. Worse, not only are some of the dead coming back to life, but vampires have shown up throughout Europe too, including the king of the vampires, Haigus. His nemesis is Lord Baltimore, a soldier who plods through the ravaged landscape, sworn to revenge Haigus killing his family and brutalizing his wife. The Baltimore series follows his adventures, and The Curse Bells offers some new characters and a dark twist to the tale.
Baltimore has a new associate in this story arc, Boston Globe reporter Simon Hodge. Actually, he’s not part of the Globe any more: he started filing stories about the vampire problem and was promptly fired from the newspaper. He’s fearless, if a bit clueless, and travels with Baltimore as they encounter a cursed monastery where the nuns have been turned towards evil.
Peeking in the window, they see an abomination poised to occur, a horrible scene led by someone we can only assume is a warlock. Who is he? What’s his story, and what the deuce is going on? There’s a witch called Blavatsky who’s central to the story (though she doesn’t show up until the latter half of the tale) and when the warlock requests a favor from her in return for him bringing her back to life, she agrees. And that favor ties into the carillon bells in the monastery, a favor so ghastly that it’ll be a great tragedy if they’re rung.
Baltimore isn’t without other enemies, either, and readers of the series won’t be surprised when Inquisition judge André Duvic shows up to do God’s work and try to purge sinners of their evil in ways that are too graphic to even portray in the story. Baltimore’s quest is to find and kill Haigus. Duvic’s quest is to find and “cleanse” Baltimore. And the chase continues.
Interestingly, Haigus is not actually in control of the monastery nor of the warlock, so when Baltimore encounters him, old hatred simmers while he tries to figure out the best way forward. Kill Haigus or stop the warlock and Blavatsky from completing their curse? There are no easy answers in the world of Lord Baltimore, but there is a great style that’s kept throughout the tale, including some remarkably chilling illustrations, and a powerful hero’s journey though a dark world that keeps the series moving forward, series after series.
Spunky loner Mikura runs Mikura Air Service, a parcel and package delivery service in the outer Japanese islands due south of Tokyo, a business she inherited from her much beloved grandfather. When she’s not flying, she’s wandering the harbor cities or trying to figure out the myths around the mysterious Is. Electriciteit, the Electric Island. The Wandering Island.
But how can an island move around, visible one day and gone for months after? Did Grandpa really visit the island, are the sightings in his journals real, or is it all just a tall tale parents used to keep their young children in line?
Most mysteriously, there are entries in Grandpa’s journal that post date his death!
The mystery pulls young Mikura out of her usual habits and Mikura Air Service suffers a drop in business as she spends more and more time investigating and searching. Soon she’s forgotten to pay her power bills and with only the companionship of her cat, she’s rummaging through mountains of paperwork and keepsakes from Grandpa in the house she inherited from him.
And it’s there that she finds… well, no spoilers!
A classic Japanese manga tale, Wandering Island is delightful reading, right-to-left, a curious mystery and adventure tale with a strong, smart heroine who ignores local customs and does her darndest to get to the bottom of things. Be warned that this is only part 1, however, because the story definitely ends with another mystery, not a neat resolution!
There’s also a great postscript by editor Carl Gustav Horn chock full of information about Mikura’s plane (a terrific old Fairey Swordfish from WWII) and the outer Japanese islands (some of which have a population numbered in the low hundreds), along with a background on writer and illustrator Kenji Tsuruta.
It’s the future and it’s a pretty miserable place: there’s a plague that makes physical touch lethal. Much of the world’s population has died, and the few survivors left have come up with a variety of adaptations to avoid contact. Is there a cure? Two young thieves think they’ve found a way back to the old world, but not everyone’s enthused about how things were before the plague…
Learn a lot more abut the story in our exclusive (and funny!) interview with the creators of The Great Divide: writer Ben Fisher and artist Adam Markiewicz.
TFAW: When did you get interested in comics, and what’s the first comic book series you remember really liking?
Adam Markiewicz: When I was 9 years old, my dad bought me a copy of The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #11 and it was loads of fun. The main feature guest starred Iron Man and Black Panther. The back-up story featured Rhino. I immediately went out and bought every Spider-Man comic on the stands. The adjective-less one was my favorite because of the art (this was when Todd McFarlane was drawing it). But I also read X-Men, Superman, Batman, and FF.
Ben Fisher: I definitely lived and breathed Claremont’s X-Men and I loved Giffen’s run on Justice League Europe. Both of those books were really just different spins on the “outside, looking in” motif, and like so many adolescents, I strongly identified with that.
TFAW: Can you tell us a little on how you first got into comics and your road to this new series?
Markiewicz: My first legitimate job in comics was actually with Ben, as the letterer on Smuggling Spirits. From there, I did a bit of freelance but focused mainly on self publishing, including a my webcomic Trench Coat Samurai.
TFAW: The premise of The Great Divide is that there’s a highly contagious pandemic transmitted by physical touch. Where did you come up with the idea for this particular pandemic?
Fisher: The concept is that one day, without warning, every human on the planet is simultaneously afflicted with “dermadik” — a condition that results in instant death when any two people make skin contact. I got the idea on a crowded bus, actually. I started wondering how many fundamental aspects of society would change if being in close quarters became a potential death sentence and the story sort of grew from there. It’s probably also a bit related to my own introversion.
TFAW: There’s no explanation of what happened or why, we’re just dropped into the middle, very similar to The Walking Dead. Are you going to give us backstory as things unfold, or is that another story arc entirely?
Fisher: Oh, absolutely. The first arc finds our protagonists stumbling onto the possible cause of the Divide, but then forces them to confront the difficult question of what to do with that information. And, of course, solving one puzzle often leads to a whole series of new, even stranger, mysteries …
TFAW: Love the Roadkill Saloon as a setting for this portion of the story! Any fun back story on that one?
Fisher: I wish there was — I feel like I should make one up! It’s really just an amalgam of various seedy midwestern biker bars, with a name that would be remembered by the reader (since it’s used to bridge the time between pre- and post-Divide). And I knew from the very first draft that the story needed to open with a “guy goes into a bar” joke.
TFAW: Adam, I really enjoy your style. What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?
Markiewicz: Thank you! My biggest influences have been Walt Simonson, Howard Chaykin, Jaime Hernandez, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Chris Ware, and Shirow Masamune. I still look at their work constantly. When I was a teenager, I was actually more interested in film than comics, so I also take a lot of inspiration from John Carpenter (especially for this series), Stanley Kubrick, The Coen Brothers, David Cronenberg, and Sam Raimi. Recently, I’d say the two artists I look at the most are Mike Henderson (and not just because he’s a friend, but because his work is awesome) and Amy Reeder.
TFAW: Do you use computers, tablets and software, or are you old-school with pens and a scanner?
Markiewicz: I started the series old school, but I recently made the switch to a Cintiq. In fact, I went from real old school — with ink pens and brushes — to using markers and brush pens while drawing issue 1, and now I’m entirely digital. I also do the lettering, which was all digital from the beginning.
TFAW: Right now, the series is planned for a 6-issue run. Do you have ideas for future arcs?
Fisher: Without question. Adam and I truly love this broken, strange world and the people who inhabit it. We’ve outlined plots for a long stretch, with an opportunity to really expand the scope and stakes — so if readers are interested, there’s plenty of story to tell and more arcs will be coming.
TFAW: What has it been like working with the folks over at Dynamite?
Markiewicz: Any publisher that allows the amount of freedom we’ve had is top notch in my book. Especially when you consider that it’s a bit of a risk, backing a story with such unusual subject matter. It’s been great.
Fisher:Dynamite has been an absolutely fantastic teammate throughout the process. Rich Young really championed the book early on in the pitch process and we will always be grateful for that — and to Nick Barrucci for having faith in the type of story we wanted to tell. Keith Davidsen and Anthony Marques have been invaluable keeping everything on track for the big launch in September (I know it’s not easy to corral us). And finally, although he doesn’t work at Dynamite, I’d be remiss to not give a shout out to my story editor, Jon Stark, who has made every script he’s touched better.
TFAW: Who do you think is going to enjoy this series the most?
Fisher: Certainly, anyone who enjoys dystopian subject matter like Walking Dead, Mad Max, or Y: The Last Man should have a good time in this world. But the series also focuses on our common fears of intimacy, human connection, and dysfunctional relationships in general, so fans of books like Sex Criminals and Pretty Deadly will also find our story touches on familiar themes in new ways.
TFAW: What comics are you enjoying right now?
Markiewicz: Hands down, my favorite comic right now is Rocket Girl. Ben also turned me on to Vision, which is an excellent read. I’d feel bad if I didn’t mention Nailbiter, but Lord knows Mike and Josh don’t need me to tell the world. I’ve been enjoying DKIII quite a bit, and Phil Noto‘s doing excellent work on the Poe Dameron book. Honestly, though, I just don’t get enough time to read comics. I’m too busy making them.
Fisher: It’s truly a golden age for comics right now — there are so many great books on the shelf. I know I’m going to get in trouble for leaving brilliant titles off the list. But in addition to Adam’s recommendations, I can’t say enough nice things about Goddamned, East of West, Squirrel Girl, Monstress, and Injection. And I’m genuinely mad that I’m not writing Army of Darkness: Furious Road. It just oozes fun.
When last we left Mia [see Dept. H #3] she’d been rescued from the deep and brought back into the research vessel, but her brother Raj had been abandoned, six miles under the surface of the ocean and with less than an hour of oxygen left. Dept. H #4 picks up the story with her attempts to convince someone else to join her in heading out and trying to find and rescue Raj before he runs out of oxygen and dies.
But no-one is particularly interested, and while you’d expect their attention would be on the poor state of repair of the research facility itself, in fact the crew seem to mostly be sitting around, desultory and unmotivated to do much of anything. Deep sea ennui? Maybe. Fortunately Mia gets two of the crew to join her in the search, though it’s quite possible they’re more motivated by heading to the cave where the original power generated is located: If they can get that online, they can last weeks, possibly months, longer without peril. And if they find Raj along the way, that’s just a nice bonus.
The cave has its secrets, however, and there’s also a lot of backstory in this issue, including how Roger lost his legs and no installment would be complete without Mia having some of her eidetic flashbacks to her childhood too. And what about Raj? Is Mia’s brother truly dead, another fatality of the strange goings-on in Dept. H?
Matt and Sharlene Kindt deliver another engaging installment of this deep sea murder mystery with Dept H. #4 and while the watercolor style hasn’t grown on me, the story continues to engross, and I can’t wait to see how it’s resolved in a future issue!