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  • Interview with Joelle Jones and Preview of Lady Killer 2 #1

    Interview with Joelle Jones

    lady killer 2, #1 coverWhat can be more all-American than a housewife who hosts Tupperware parties, has a hot meal on the table for her busy husband when he comes home, and is always ready with a kind word and plate of hot cookies for her children after a tough day of school? Well, if you’re Josie Schuller, you’ve got one more thing to juggle, because she’s also a killer, running a successful assassination business on the side. I mean, a girl’s gotta have something to break up the monotony, right?

    We first met Josie and the whole Schuller family in writer Joëlle Jones’ Eisner award-nominated Lady Killer series, but for the new storyline, they’ve just moved into a picture-perfect Cocoa Beach, Florida during the early years of the Space Race (the 1960s). Like Desperate Housewives, all the women in Cocoa Beach have lives completely independent of their worker-bee husbands, and while Josie is clearly trying to fit in with her Tupperware party, it’s a catty community of insecure, snotty women and she’s not really someone you want to piss off.

    The bigger problem is that someone else in the family actually knows her side job and doesn’t like it much at all. But would you want to confront the stone-cold killer in your family, or would you try your very best to stay on their good side? Yeah, me too.

    There’s a breezy fun about Jones’ story, a sort of Stepford Wives meets The Long Kiss Goodnight that is eminently readable — I’m definitely ready for the next installment as this first issue ends in a huge cliffhanger! — enhanced by the wonderful artwork of Michelle Madsen. Indeed, Madsen could easily be straight out of a time machine from an ad agency in the 1960’s, so faithfully does she capture technicolor shades of the era and enhances Jones’ art.

    Lady Killer 2 #1 Preview

    We were lucky to catch up with Joëlle to ask her a few questions about the Lady Killer 2 series. Here’s what she shared with us:

    TFAW: What was your original inspiration for the Lady Killer series? I loved the first series, where will you be taking Josie this time around?

    Joëlle Jones: The Schuller family has moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida, where life carries on as usual. Josie continues to juggle Tupperware parties, her kids, and a few human heads. However, when someone from her past tails her on a hit, she may be in for more than she bargained for.

    lady killer tpbTFAW: You chose a female protagonist with a decidedly dark side, then set it in ’60s America. What appeals to you about the tensions and duality of that era and her “side” job?

    Jones: I’ve always been drawn to stories about people with dual natures…and I thought setting the series in this particular time in American history really highlights that duality.

    TFAW: From the artwork, we figure that Lady Killer 2 takes place concurrent with the Space Race that was such a prominent part of Florida in the ’60s. Is that going to be woven into the story?

    Jones: Yes! Josie and her family move to Cocoa Beach because of her husband’s job. He works for a company that is connected to the aerospace industry..

    TFAW: Really love your style of art in this story too. How do you stay true to the ’60s artistic sensibility while still offering the visual pizazz that modern readers demand?

    Lady Killer 2 #1 PreviewJones: I’m constantly looking at the great illustrators from that mid-century period. I also try to keep up with current comics. So, I suppose those to things merge in my mind and translate to the page.

    TFAW: A family where Mom has a secret identity. Any chance Dad or the rather witchy mother-in-law might have something up their proverbial sleeve?

    Jones: Probably! But I’m not going to tell you about that here. I guess you’ll just have to read and find out!

    TFAW: You’ve brought Michelle Madsen in for the fun this time around. How did she become involved with Lady Killer 2?

    Jones: We only had Laura Allred for the first series and filling her shoes was a daunting task. I’ve always loved Michelle’s work and when we got the opportunity to bring her on to the team I was pleased as punch! She’s a perfect fit for the book. Amazing work!

    TFAW: For those who haven’t discovered Lady Killer yet, what’s your elevator pitch for the series?

    Jones: Ha! I get asked this a lot. “Donna Reed meets Dexter.”

    TFAW: What other projects are you working on right now?

    Jones: I’m going to be very busy for the next two years but I really can’t talk about it. Lots of exciting stuff!

    TFAW: What comic books are you enjoying right now?

    Jones: I just finished reading Harrow County and I loved it! Thought it was fantastic. I’ve been digging some of the DC Rebirth books and I’ve also been going back to some 90’s Punisher books. All great stuff!

    Lady Killer 2, #1, written by Joëlle Jones, art by Jones and Michelle Madsen. he first issue will arrive August 3, 2016, and the first two issues are available for pre-order – and you’ll want to pre-order this one, gang!

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  • Sneak Peek at Briggs Land #1 and an Interview with Creator Brian Wood

    Interview with Brian Wood

    You don’t have to look very far to find someone who wants to secede from their country, to set up a tiny nation-state of their own where they can make the rules that they think make the most sense. In certain parts of the Pacific Northwest there are even regions where groups have banded together to create their own countries. Like the fictional Briggs Land, the latest creation from master storyteller Brian Wood.

    We caught up with Brian and asked him some pointed questions about Briggs Land and what he was thinking as he created this exciting new series, a story that’s already been picked up by AMC TV to make into a series!

    But first, a preview of Briggs Land #1:

    Briggs Land #1 coverGrace Briggs is a family matriarch whose husband Jim rules Briggs Land, a hundred square miles of wilderness that’s set up as another country entirely. Drive up to the gate and signs state “You are now leaving the United States”. Problem is, the head of the Briggs family, Jim Briggs, is locked up in a Federal prison with a lifetime sentence for attempted murder. He still does his best to run the family and land, but Grace is fed up and wants to take control from her husband. So she shows up to his prison and tells him the news: she’s taking over. And there ain’t nothing he can do about it.

    It’s not going smoothly, however, from the FBI agents following Grace around to the Briggs boys being unsure whom to support during this family coup. Everyone else in Briggs Land also has to decide if their loyalty is with Jim or the upstart, Grace, who has really been running the land for years anyway. The results are the last thing that propper secessionists ever want: danger from within, as is clear when there’s an incident late at night, a threat to life and limb.

    This is clearly a story in the same vein as the popular TV shows Sons of Anarchy and Justified, and indeed, AMC is working with writer Brian Wood on a TV series based on the Briggs Land story. It’s  an engrossing tale, enhanced by the flowing sketch art of Mack Chater and Lee Loughridge.

    If you want a head start on the upcoming TV series so you’ll be the expert in your circle of friends, Briggs Land #1 is a must buy beginning of a powerful and intriguing series.


    Briggs Land preview page 1TFAW: What’s the inspiration for the Briggs Land series? It’s an intriguing storyline, for sure, and quite timely!

    Brian Wood: Timely, absolutely, but its been timely for awhile, going back, for me to the 90’s, with Ruby Ridge and Oklahoma City, which were my first exposures to the idea of domestic terrorism and this sort of off-the-grid secessionist culture. I should add that by terrorism I refer to Timothy McVeigh, not the Weavers.

    So that combined with the fact that in doing research for DMZ and later for Rebels, I came across a lot of material about US militia groups, hate groups, Patriots and Sovereigns, and it stuck in my head as something that would make a great series someday.

    Briggs Land preview page 2TFAW: You chose a female protagonist as the main character, wresting control of the Briggs family business and property from her husband? Love the dynamic, but what made you choose her rather than, say, one of their children to try a coup?

    Wood: An early version of this has the husband, the patriarch of the family, in control. A very Tony Soprano type of guy. Which certainly worked, but was also very typical – it read like a traditional sort of mafia story. And because of that the people I showed it to, including AMC, didn’t love it like I think they should. So after sitting with it awhile I decided to rewrite the pitch with the wife in charge, and the difference was night and day. It immediately brought forth all sorts of interesting conflicts, both in the Briggs family itself as well as the culture surrounding it, that just didn’t exist before. It made it ten times as rich and compelling, and that’s when people started to respond to it.

    Personally, it also gives me a chance to write a nuanced, complex mother character, something I have not yet done but want to.

    TFAW: What state do you have in mind as the setting? Idaho? Montana? And how does that affect the story in terms of FBI surveillance, etc.

    Briggs Land preview page 3Wood: It’s New York State, which may not initially seem like a place with a surplus of empty, rural land, but it has a tremendous amount of it. The fact its New York isn’t a primary element in the story, but it does enable us to bring in a more diverse cast simply because it’s an area far less homogeneous that say rural Idaho or Montana, which is pretty white. There’s also rust belt-esque elements upstate, such as decaying towns, abandoned mills and railways, and other things like that that let us cast this secessionist culture in not just a visually-interesting world, but an economically depressed setting that would support a large culture of disaffected types like the Briggs community.

    TFAW: Really love the art styles of Mack Chater and Lee Loughridge. How did you all come together for this new series?

    Briggs Land preview page 4Wood: I think I asked Tula Lotay for some suggestions, and Mack was one of them. I admit I had not heard of him before, as he’s new to comics (but has had a rich career in character and game design). But I found some samples that had this gritty, realistic style that seemed perfect for a crime comic, and lo and behold they were pages for a George Pelecanos comic! It was intimidating to ask him to work with me after working with someone like Pelecanos, but Mack was kind and said yes. And Lee… he’s a legend as far as I’m concerned, seeming to have worked on an endless list of amazing comics. It’s a great team. Plus Tula Lotay on covers!

    TFAW: You’ve said that the AMC TV series (congrats on that!) and the comic book published by Dark Horse will add to each other. Can you give us any hints on what we can expect?

    Wood: What I mean by that is the fact that I’m writing both the comic and the pilot at the same time, more or less, and that unique (I can’t think of another example of someone doing this) perspective allows me to step back and look at the comic from the POV of needing to adapt it, and to step away from the pilot script and look at the comic with fresh eyes, and use each of these Briggs Lands to support each other.

    Briggs Land preview page 5Maybe a better way to explain that is to say that since comics is a very finite space — only so many words in so many panels for so many pages — the show allows me to expand on characters and the world and in doing so, create an overall richer world. And the fact that the comic has no television producers laying rules down means we can get away with things in the comic we can’t put in the show.

    So at the end, for me, Briggs Land is both formats complementing each other to create an overall story that is greater than the sum of its parts. Each can stand alone, for sure, but together it’s richer.

    TFAW: In an ideal world, how many issues do you have planned for this series?

    Wood: Fifty? Maybe more? I’ve said that Briggs Land feels like DMZ in terms of it being this world that can support an endless number of stories. So it would be nice to have a nice long run like that.

    TFAW: You’ve worked with Dark Horse Comics on several other titles like The Massive, Rebels, EVE Valkyrie, and Aliens: Defiance. How has it been working with the folks over there from a creative perspective?

    Wood: I love Dark Horse (obviously). After Vertigo changed and it was no longer a publisher where I could do the sorts of books I wanted to do, I wanted to find a home that was stable and had a great support system to help these projects succeed. I can see the appeal of a publisher like Image, but I’m in this business to be a writer, not a self-publisher, or a publicist, or a sales rep, or any of that type of thing that takes away from the actual writing. There’s a team at Dark Horse that has my back, and I like that.

    TFAW: Who do you think is going to fall in love with this new series?

    Briggs Land preview page 6Wood: This is such a classic “Brian Wood” book that my regulars will absolutely find a lot to love. Like you said at the top, this is timely and relevant to mainstream current events and it doesn’t seem like that will change any time soon. This is also a crime drama, something that’s a little new for me, so there’s potential for fans of that genre to get into this. Plus the TV show element, which assuming all goes as planned, will open up a huge audience that may not be regular comics people.

    TFAW: What other books are you working on right now?

    Wood: There’s Starve and Black Road at Image. Aliens: Defiance and at least one other project for Dark Horse.

    TFAW: What comic books are you enjoying right now?

    Brian: I don’t read as many comics as I like, since my leisure reading time is consumed with research reading for my books, but when I do I tend to read titles written or drawn by friends of mine, rather than following certain characters or companies. So, Jason Aaron is someone I’ll always read, as is Greg Rucka and Warren Ellis.

    Great, thanks for the time and your thoughtful answers, Brian! We wish you the best of success with the new Briggs Land, and we’re definitely eager to see where you go with the series.

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  • Christopher Sebela Gives Us a Sneak Peek Inside the Newest Image Horror Series, “Demonic”

    Interview with Christopher Sebela

    demonic #1 coverNot only did I get a chance to read the first few issues of the upcoming Demonic series, but I also had a chance to hit up writer Christopher Sebela (High Crimes, We(l)come Back) with some questions about the series. And you’re going to love it!

    Demonic starts out as a classic cop drama, but there’s a weird undertone of demonic possession and a palpable presence of evil in the urban setting. The main characters are Scott and Dani, plainclothes beat cops who’ve been partners on the street for years. When a murder suspect bars herself in her apartment and drops the name Novo, Scott forces his way in for a private conversation, risking his life. But the murderer might be possessed or, worse, she might be evil itself, as she tells the cop “You’re already dead, just no one bothered to tell you.”

    Things then spin out of control for family man Scott, with the beautiful Aeshma showing up and offering a devil’s bargain of a life for a soul, and the story takes a decidedly dark twist as we learn about Scott’s background and his childhood. A childhood spent partially with the cult-like Novo clergy. A childhood that broke him, however much he seeks to heal or deny his past…

    TFAW: What’s the inspiration for the Demonic series? It’s a powerful storyline!

    Christopher Sebela: Thanks! Well, Demonic originally happened long before I showed up. Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri did the original #1 issue way back in 2009 as part of Top Cow’s Pilot Season. When I got asked to come on board and write the whole story, there was a lot of back and forth between myself, my editor Sean Mackiewicz and Robert. While we all liked that original #1 issue, we eventually came to the decision to take the foundation and rebuild it from the ground up.

    So, for me, the inspiration was very much about someone who appears to the world as a paragon of sorts and all the ugly things that everyone hides away under their exterior. Scott Graves is a cop, a husband, a father, he seemingly has it all, but he’s barely holding on to all of it. He’s had a lot of rough patches and is trying to be a better person, and the demons inside him become a bit more literal.

    TFAW: You chose a male protagonist to have a dark side as manipulated by Aeshma. Why male?

    Sebela: Scott Graves was already in place as the protagonist when I came on board, so I didn’t have a lot of choice there, but I thought it was an interesting dynamic to play with. Scott is, at first glance, very much the clean-cut, all-american generic hero-type dude role. And there’s nothing I love more than scraping away at that and showing how messed up people like that actually are when no one is looking. With Scott, it became about how he kind of deflects all the bad stuff he’s done onto other people in his life.

    demonic #1 sample artwork

    His partner, Dani, he pushes her away because of their past together. His wife and his daughter, he loves them, but he did wrong by them and maybe he kind of blames them for how hard he has to work at being a good person now. And Aeshma is the woman in his life of kind of exemplifies how he sees it all, a demon on his back who won’t let him forget who he is and what he did. It’s not a book that’s a huge screed about all this, but as tiny little subtle signifiers, I think it allows a couple of different ways to read into everything.

    TFAW: What city do you have in mind as the setting? New York, perhaps?

    Sebela: Yeah. At first I was going to sort of set it in “Anycity, USA” but the more I dug into Scott’s background and all the secrets that make up his life, it felt like a good match to put him in a city that gives off its own vibe of “greatest city in the world” but has a lot of corruption hidden away under the things we usually see in postcards and movies. NYC is a city that tears its past down and builds over it constantly, always trying to improve, always projecting a certain image, but it can never wipe away all those things that plagued it for so long. And still plague it. It’s very much is who Scott is, a guy who gives off one impression to everyone around him, but has a lot of ugliness tucked away under the surface.

    TFAW: Really love Niko Walter’s art in this story too. How did you connect with him?

    Sebela: That’s all due to my editor, Sean. He ran across Niko as we were working on the story and had that magic editorial eye that saw how his pages and my pages could come together to form something new and better. Collaboration is a weird alchemy and you can never tell exactly how it’s going to work out until you both get your hands dirty and start making the thing. Once I saw Niko’s initial pages, I was pretty excited about the kind of book Demonic was about to become.

    TFAW: Scott’s blade hand seems very Wolverine-like. An inspiration?

    Sebela: My head was a lot more in the horror sphere when working on Demonic, so I’d say Freddy Kreuger was a much more potent inspiration for me. The blades Scott wields as Demonic aren’t a part of him. They could just as easily have been bought at a flea market and shaped into the weapons he uses. I think there’s something infinitely more frightening about that, about knives as a whole, how they can be used, all the damage they can inflict while still leaving the victim alive. I think Wolverine would be way less likely to cut off pieces of a person with his claws than Scott is when he puts on his weapons.

    demonic #1 sample artwork 2

    TFAW: Who do you think is going to fall in love with this new series?

    Sebela: Definitely horror fans. And not just slasher enthusiasts, but the kind of slow burn horror in movies like The Babadook or The Witch, where you feel unsettled from the get-go but it’s no so much about the jump scare and the screaming as it is about the squirmy feelings and kind of mumbling “oh no” to themselves. People who like dramas like Breaking Bad or The Americans or Mr. Robot — anything that really gets in up to its waist in characters that feel real and slightly broken and seeing how they react when thrown into situations that are well beyond anything they’ve had to deal with before. I wouldn’t have signed on if there wasn’t the opportunity to really dig in to Scott and his family and his job and pick at the threads of these things to see what kind of corruption I can find.

    TFAW: What other books are you working on right now?

    Sebela: Right now I’ve got Heartthrob with Robert Wilson IV and Nick Filardi coming out from Oni Press, a sort of lighthearted romance/crime book about heart transplants and semi-imaginary boyfriends. Jonathan Brandon Sawyer and I have joined forces again after our book We(l)come Back. We’re doing a book at Stela that’s a grindhouse version of Thelma & Louise. I’m also working on a two-issue Killer Croc story for DC’s Suicide Squad: Most Wanted that I’m really excited for people to see. Lastly, I’ll be putting out a non-fiction book about the time I lived in Tonopah, Nevada’s Clown Motel for a whole month. And I have secret stuff I cannot talk about or someone will hurt me.

    TFAW: What comic books are you enjoying right now?

    Sebela: Right now I’m really digging Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlewski’s The Dark and Bloody. Easily one of the best horror books being put out. Ed Brisson and Adam Gorham’s The Violent as I’m a big crime geek and Ed is a master of that. Kate Leth and Brittany Williams’ Hellcat is never not completely fun and a nice change of pace from my usual doom and gloom. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus is great and has been great through its whole run. Josh Williamson and Andrei Bressan’s Birthright is a fantasy book and I don’t normally like fantasy stuff, but it’s so well done I have no choice. Pretty Deadly and Bitch Planet from Kelly Sue are both masterpieces. Wicked + Divine. Sex Criminals. Harrow County. I have so many books on my list that are so good that they make me mad they’re that good. And they make me want to be better. But mostly mad.

    Thanks for the informative interview, Christopher! And readers, grab a pre-order of Demonic #1 now, while you can. We think they’re going to go fast!

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  • Review: Snotgirl #1

    Review: Snotgirl

    snotgirl #1 coverFashion blogger Lottie Person has a problem: behind the beautiful makeup, perfect hair flip and gorgeous outfits, she’s actually anxious, insecure, friendless and clumsy around boys. She also has some major allergies and when they hit it’s not pretty. It’s why she imagines that her nickname should be Snotgirl, and in issue #1 of this lively and angst-ridden new series, she might just have found an allergy pill that’s going to affect other components of her life too. But not in a good way.

    If you’ve read the hugely successful Scott Pilgrim series — or seen the movie — you’re going to really like Snotgirl as they’re both from writer Bryan Lee O’Malley, though in Snotgirl he is working with artist Leslie Hung, who brings a bright, accessible style and sly visual sense of humor.

    Lottie is in her 20s, but is still defined as much by her anxieties and concerns as with her accomplishments and the mask she puts on to impress her few friends and the online world, which seems to be full of earnest, semi-stalker followers. She’s a fashion blogger! She has sponsors! She makes money sharing photos of herself looking gorgeous!

    But Lottie is really every boy or girl who is in the complicated, liberating and scary transition from being someone else’s child and being your own person, an adult who has dreams, successes and failures. And a somewhat debilitating allergy that makes her teary-eyed, her nose drip with snot and her face puff up. Not very romantic.

    This first issue moves along, light and cheery until the very last page, at which point there’s a hint of a deeper, darker and more complicated story yet to come in Snotgirl. Check it out, it might just be the next oh-so-modern hero from the pen of O’Malley and his artist partner Hung.

    Snotgirl #1, written by Brian Lee O’Malley, art by Leslie Hung.

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  • Review: Doctor Strange #8

    Review of Doctor Strange #8

    doctor strange last days of magic #8In case you haven’t been following my reviews of this wonderful comic-book series, let me catch you up… “No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is marry Humperdink in little less than half an hour” -Inigo Montoya. Heh, okay, so back on track… Writer Jason Aaron has put Doctor Steven Strange and every other magic-using hero on Earth are in a fight for their lives, but more importantly, they are fighting for the very existence of magic on our soon-to-be magicless world! An army called The Empirikul are moving from world to world and are eradicating magic in their wake of destruction of all things mystical.

    No worries, right? We have THE SORCERER SUPREME, Doctor Steven Strange, ready and waiting to defend Earth, and her magic, against all threats. Well, it just ain’t all that simple, now is it folks? No, it most certainly is not. The interdimensional science-based army is more than a force to be reckoned with. Over the span of the first seven issues, The Empirikul have successfully destroyed and/or defeated all of Earth’s greatest masters of magic, not to mention the mystical landmarks of our beloved planet.

    The truth is that there would be almost no one left to continue to fight the good fight (of saving Earth’s magic), if it weren’t for Monako, one of the Marvel Universe’s oldest magic-wielders. [For details, see my review of issue #7]. In short, Monako sacrificed himself in order to save Doctor Strange and several other key magic-users of Earth by teleporting them all away to an inaccessible cavern underground.

    So here we are, smack dab in the middle of the murdering of magic, and Doctor Strange, along with his now non-powered ex-wizards, are scouring the planet looking for shreds and scraps of magic anywhere they might be found. Will they find enough bits and bobs of magic to re-engage in battle against The Empirikul, in hopes of defeating them? “Outlook not so good” says the Magic 8-Ball. After Strange, Scarlet Witch, and Talisman gather a car-trunk-full of mystical artifacts, the consensus is that it is far from enough to even wage war, much less win it.

    Did I mention how exciting and harrowing it has been to watch Doctor Strange, who really is back to being just Steven Strange, using his muscles alone to get out of crises and avoid the ongoing chase of The Empirikul and their hunter-seeker Wolves with laser-beams that now shoot out of their eyes! Without magic, these usually mega-powered heroes and heroines are now just people and they are struggling for their lives. Why don’t they call The Avengers, you ask? Well, to put it simply, this is THEIR fight and no one else could do what needs to be done, plus Strange has an enormous amount of “magical debt” that really only he can repay.

    Even without their magic, our world’s ex-wizards are our best chance at saving magic from extinction, without a doubt. Though the potential of our heroes saving the day is looking more and more grim, issue after issue. It seems that there are no more secrets up his sleeve, and Doctor Strange is almost at wit’s-end. Even with his own teammate’s words of pessimism, he is not giving up.

    Meanwhile, back at Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, librarian Zelma Stanton and Wong, Strange’s monk sidekick, are in harm’s way as The Empirikul are there destroying magic throughout the house, including Strange’s library filled with not just books on magic, but housing books *of* magic on every shelf. Zelma is able to save only one book before Wong helps them escape to Tibet using a staff that allows them to teleport. Can one randomly selected book of magic be enough to help defend Earth?

    Chris Bachalo’s artwork is so perfectly matched to this wild and weird storyline and pushes me, panel after panel, to closely examine each picture speaking to me “a thousand words.” Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that the full-page cliffhanger image of the last page of the book is, well, . . . horrifying, to say the least. Well done, Chris! Now I’ll have trouble sleeping tonight.

    Doctor Strange: Last Days of Magic: Part 3, written by Jason Aaron, art by Chris Bachalo. Published May 25, 2016.

    Review by Steve Oatney.

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  • Darwyn Cooke – Thank you

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    This past Friday during a press release I learned that Darwyn Cooke was starting treatment for an aggressive form of lung cancer. I hoped for the best for him—as I’m sure we all did. Then, by the end of my workday, rumors were swirling around that he had passed. I pushed them to the side waiting for an official announcement, which came during the morning of 5-14-16.

    Cooke’s passing hit me especially hard. In my life of comics, Darwyn Cooke was one of, if not the most important artists and storytellers.

    Without knowing it you’ve likely seen his work many times over. He started out in comics with a five page non-verbal story in DC’s New Talent Showcase #19. After that with little money coming in from comics he left to work in advertising and animation. In the early 90’s Mr. Cooke answered an ad for Warner Bros. Animation studio. The ad placed by none other than Bruce Timm. For the next few years Darwyn worked with Bruce Timm as a storyboard artist on many projects. You’ve likely heard about Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Sony’s short lived Men in Black series and the one that melted into my brain: the opening title sequence for Batman Beyond.

    I didn’t learn of this until I started researching his work after finding a new Crime/Noir graphic novel published my IDW; Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter. After learning about his past work I couldn’t help but notice his influence over what I loved in comic art.

    Between the ’90s and ’00s, Cooke worked on numerous projects — comics that to this day are top reads on many DC Lists: his 4-part Catwoman story with Ed Brubaker, the 6-issue The New Frontier mini series, The Spirit, and lots of Batman pieces. He gave us so many more great projects during that span of 15 years.

    His art and storytelling style was for the ages. He told stories from and in the style of the past, making them relevant and interesting to present day audiences. In late 2014, he was charged with creating special variant covers over 20 DC Comics’ titles. It was a delight to see what he came up with every week for titles like Justice League Dark, Teen Titans, Green Lantern, Batgirl, and He-Man: The Eternity War.

    Darwyn Cooke will be missed by people throughout the comics community, including many of us around the TFAW offices. Though he his gone, his life’s passion lives on in every panel that he ever put on the page. Thank you for everything, Mr. Cooke.

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  • New Comic Book Day — Review for Batman, Supergirl, X-O Manowar, & Power Rangers

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    It’s a big New Comic Book Day . With the end of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman Run, our comic intro to TV’s Supergirl, Tommy’s seduction to evil in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and we dive further into Valiant’s 4001 A.D. Remember these are only a few of this week’s new releases. Check out our other blog articles so see our thoughts on past books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter! SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Batman #52 By: Scott Snyder, Riley Rossmo, Greg Capullo

    In the final issue of the New 52 Batman, we get insight into the part of Batman’s life that we haven’t been able to see. We all know what made Bruce Wayne the Batman. Events drove him to be the scourge of the criminal underground in Gotham and the rest of the DCU. In this new issue, though, Batman faces a new villain that is trying to steal one of Bruce Wayne’s secrets. It’s unsure what could it be–documents of his time as Batman? A list of the Bat-family’s identities? Even worse, the identity of other superheroes?–and tension is high until the final emotional pages. In this perfect end to a truly exciting 52 issue run. Which introduced us to the Court of Owls, the amazing events of Year Zero, Joker’s return in the terrifying Death of the Family, the “final” battle between Batman and his greatest enemy in Endgame, and his return in Superheavy. This issue shows us what is most valuable to both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Realizing that if disappearing is the first step, this issue shows us what the final step is, too. I can’t wait to see what comes next in Rebirth for our favorite caped crusader! [Steve M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

    4001 A.D. X-O Manowar #1 By: Robert Venditti, Clayton Henry, CAFU

    Set 100 years from now, New Japan launches its new utopian city into the sky causing a shockwave that kills millions. The UN takes a page out of Pacific Rim’s playbook and gets to work on weaponized suits of armor to combat the threat of New Japan’s devastating and callous A.I. program, Father. What they don’t realize is that Father has anticipated and prepared for this. This provides a nice background for Valiant’s massive crossover event. Robert Venditti and Clayton Henry find all the right ways to hook readers in. Venditti’s dialogue and descriptions are honed in giving the story maximum effect. Henry delivers the chilling imagery of a society putting every resource into one ultimate weapon. This triumphantly builds up the X-O Manowar suits and Father. Two key players in the main 4001 A.D. story. If Valiant’s crossover seems daunting to jump into, this book will be a nice way to get your feet wet and get a taste for the stories ahead. Plus, it has giant robots fighting against a flying city while a pink cyber assassin kills people by turning them into binary code. What more could you ask for? [Tim S. at TFAW.com]

    Adventures of Supergirl #1 By: Sterling Gates, Bengal, Cat Staggs

    If you’re familiar with the popular CBS series Supergirl, then you’re in for a treat. Since this is a number one, old and new fans will quickly fall in love with this series. This issue gives you a good idea of what type of superhero Kara is, and what her biggest values are. Similar to her well-known cousin, she believes in helping and saving everyone no matter what the cost. Overall, she believes in hope. We start off in the middle of a major fight scene between Supergirl and Rampage. Kara is not going down without a fight. She soon realizes Rampage only gets stronger with each punch she takes. As Supergirl feels like she has won, she is brutally mistaken. Supergirl is knocked out, kidnapped and her sister’s life is in grave danger. Kara wakes up in a place she’s never been with people that know more about her than she knows about them. Will she be able to save her sister? Will she be able to defeat Rampage once and for all? I guess you have to read Adventures Of Supergirl #1! [Darcey M. at Universal Citywalk TFAW]

    Might Morphin Power Rangers #3 By: Kyle Higgins, Hendry Prasetya, Jamal Campbell

    Three issues in already, for me this is a top read, and even now I can’t wait for more. Let me explain what’s been going on: post-Rita creating the Evil Green Ranger, our gang of Power Rangers saved him. Although Rita still has her witching ways, trying to break Tommy down by manipulating what he sees, hears, and dreams. She’s trying to break him, and doing a good job at it. Kyle Higgens is leading me into this new, “updated” version of my childhood. Don’t think that I mean it’s gritty and dark. It blends the original mythology/charm with the spice of today’s storytelling standards. It’s incredible & every month I get excited to read it. Don’t get discouraged if you never watched Mighty Morphin Power Rangers back in ’93. You can very easily pick this series up and connect with these heroes. Boom, Kyle, Hendry Prasetya and Jamal Campbell all do such a good job bringing back this universe. [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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  • Free Comic Book Day – Review of Doctor Who

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    doctor who the four doctors free new comic book day editionDoctor Who free comic book day 2016 edition features four independent stories with the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth doctors. Each adventure puts the doctor in unique situations. From giant robots, inter dimensional conduits and planet hackers, this comic takes readers through space and time into the Doctor Who universe.

    I have never gotten into the TV show, and knew only a little about Doctor Who before reading this. What I immediately liked was the Doctor’s unique personality. Unique is the only way I can describe it because it changes in every story in this comic. The first story, “Robo Rampage” sees the twelfth doctor saving a city, and cursing human stupidity. It throws you right into the action, and gives you a glimpse of the Doctor Who universe. However, as a first time reader, it does leave you a little lost.

    The second story, “Obsessions” gives an insight into the Doctors mind, and the difficulties of being a time lord. The story is less action packed, and instead focuses on the Doctor and the other characters aboard the Tardis. It contrasts the Doctor with another character that at first appears to be the polar opposite. In many ways he is, and yet in others they are very similar. This comparison adds depth to both characters, yet refrains from getting too deep or sentimental due to the contrasts in personalities.

    The third story, “Lady of the Blue Box” also takes place on the Tardis, and serves as an explanation for the Doctor Who universe, or at least part of it. The story uses a newcomer to the Tardis, and someone who has been there awhile (who is not the Doctor), to explain the obscurities and mysteries of the Tardis. It is mostly focused on explaining the Tardis itself, but the tenth Doctor has some funny moments the accentuate his personality.

    Finally, the fourth story, “Hacked” follows the ninth doctor and two companions to an alien world. All seems normal as the Doctor shows them around, until (potential spoilers) … some strange buildings start appearing. This story really expands the Doctor Who universe. It shows just how long the Doctor has been around, and the true extent of his knowledge. The comic as a whole serves as an excellent introduction to the Doctor Who universe, and left me excited to keep reading more subsequent to New Comic Book Day.

    Robo Rampage. Writer: Robbie Morrison. Artists: Simon Fraser, Gary Caldwell. Publisher: Titan Comics.
    Obsessions. Writers: Si Spurrier, Rob Williams. Artists: Leonardo Romero, Marcio Menyz. Publisher: Titan Comics.
    Lady of the Blue Box. Nick Abadzis. Artists: Eleonora Carlini, Arianna Florean. Publisher: Titan Comics.
    Hacked. Writer: Cavan Scott. Artists: Mariano Laclaustra, Carlos Cabrera. Publisher: Titan Comics.

    Review by Ben Getchell.

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  • New Comic Book Day — Reviews for X-Files, Avengers, We are Robin, & Aliens

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    Another Wednesday, another set of great comics for New Comic Book Day! This week Avengers take their last stand before Civil War II, X-Files goes back to #1, We are Robin continues to amaze, and Dark Horse brings us back to the horror that is Aliens. Remember these are just a few of this week’s new releases many more came out this week. Check out our other blog articles to see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Aliens: Defiance #1
    By: Brian Wood, Tristan Jones, Dan Jackson, Massimo Carnevale

    In this new chapter of the terrors that are the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, we find that they’re looking to gather the Xenomorphs and use them as weapons. They will be stopped. They must be stopped.

    Brian Wood’s story is an interesting departure from what we’ve seen before — instead of surviving, they’re going hunting. The way this issue was built seems like it would also work as a TV or movie script. With a strong foreshadow, then going back in time for an introduction to the characters and places.

    Tristan Jones and Dan Jackson do a great team up with the art and colors. I love the emotion that Tristan brings to the characters faces. You can really see disgust and fear exceptionally well in this issue. Dan’s colors give it that dark atmosphere. You can hear the gun blasts, hissing, and screaming from the Xenomorphs in your head, a true testament to the immersion you’ll get with this issue.

    Overall, if you haven’t kept up on Aliens, Predator, or Prometheus stuff, Aliens: Defiance #1 is a great to start. If you want to read more, may I suggest Fire & Stone? [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    Avengers Standoff Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1
    By: Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuña, Angel Uzueta

    This is my favorite Standoff series yet and I will tell you why — all of the events in this issue are cinematic.

    Daniel Acuña and Angel Uzueta really nail the head on the coffin with the amazing artwork making it feel like a movie. If you are not keeping up with the Standoff series, this issue masterfully summarizes everything that has been going on.

    S.H.I.E.L.D. got ahold of a cosmic cube and made a prison that seemed like reality for most of Marvel’s cruelest villains. However, a special well-known villain figures out the fake reality and uses it to their advantage!

    This issue tackles a lot of questions we have about Steve Rogers returning as Captain America next month. It also tells us how all the Avengers from different universes work together as one.

    Grab a copy of Avengers Standoff Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1 today! [Darcy M. at Universal TFAW]

    We are Robin #11
    By: Lee Bermejo, Jorge Corona

    We Are Robin #11 is a turning point for The Robins — or what’s left of them. With a homicidal Joker gang on the loose in Middletown High, it’s up to a few to save the many.

    Jorge Corona has this cool style that reminds me of Skottie Young’s early work on Deadpool — it works really well for this series. Corona also has a knack of making the environment interesting to explore. Don’t worry, you never feel it’s too cartoony or childish.

    Lee Bermejo, who has been on the book since the beginning, seems to have an overall arc that he’s working toward, which is always a plus when reading an ongoing series. Although I’ve only read a few issues of this the series to date, this issue made me go back and read it from the first volume. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    X-Files #1
    By: Joe Harris, Matthew Dow Smith, Menton3

    Do you still believe? After this issue, I believe something is going on. With a mass shooting at a mall, our good agents are called in for an unknown reason. Why would a shooting spree fall into the line of “X-Files”?

    Something is sticking out like a sore thumb and by the end of the issue, Mulder knows it. It wasn’t just an accident that they were sent on this case. There is something more sinister in the background; much like there always seems to be with the X-Files.

    If the mini-series that recently hit the airwaves didn’t fulfill your weekly dose of Mulder & Scully, give IDW’s X-Files a read. Something to note is that there is a handy reader’s guide for both the newer stories and the classic comics in the back of this issue. Perfect for any fan looking to explore the comic book continuity. [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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  • Marvel’s “Star Wars #1” sells for $7,200

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    marvel star wars #1 comic book coverEvery comic book collector dreams of having that one amazing title, the one issue that proves to accrue in value at a rapid pace and surprise you with its market value. Issue #1? That’s the crown jewel of any comics series and really great series like Detective Comics can be worth enough that they live in a safe, not sitting on the coffee table.

    Which is why it’s notable that PBA Galleries recently auctioned off a collection of comic books from collector Wayne Martin. The auction was held via proxy bids, telephone bids, real-time bidding via the Internet and even some collectors at the actual auction.

    The highest bids came in for a very fine copy of the rare $0.35 variant of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 from 1977, which sold for a quite impressive $7,200. According to collectors, this particular comic is considered to be one of the most valuable of the so-called Bronze Age of comics (1970-1985). The back story: Marvel tested price changes on a limited basis and only printed 1,500 copies of the 35 cent version, every other copy being the then-usual 30 cents. Nowadays an almost unimaginably low price for a comic book.

    Also sold at a good price at the auction were a first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, which sold for $3,900. That issue features the origin story and appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter and Shredder, with a wraparound cover by Kevin Eastman. Giant Size X-men #1 sold for $1,080, X-Men #94 sold for $300 and there were some Golden Age rarities too, including Flash #101 and Flash #104 from the 1940’s, selling as a pair for $2,700.

    The auction also included Detective Comics #142, featuring the second appearance of the Riddler. It sold for $1,200. Three issues of DC’s 1950’s Mysteries in Space, featuring art by Frank Frazetta and Gil Kane sold for $1,020. Issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and The Submariner sold for hundreds each, and the weirdest and most unique of the collection was Our Gang Comics #1 from 1942, featuring stories and art by Walt Kelly, going for $300.

    Star Wars #1 is definitely cool, but the coolest item in the collection was Dick Lupoff’s history of comics, All In Color For a Dime, which sold for $1,440. Not because the book has any value, but because it was filled with autographs and sketches from the legends of the comic book industry including Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Marion Zimmer Bradley, R. Crumb, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jaime Hernandez, Marv Wolfman, David Prowse, Sergio Aragone, Art Spiegelman, Rob Liefeld, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, P. Craig Russell, Arthur Adams, Charles Vess and many others. A truly one of a kind item for fans and collectors that was a steal at the price!

    So keep those comics clean and pristine, particularly if they’re #1 or really important to a particular storyline. You never know what they’ll be worth down the road…

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  • New Comic Book Day — Reviews for Star Trek: Manifest Destiny, Divinity II, Dept H, Extrodinary X-Men, & Wonder Woman

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    This week we take a look at 2 Sci-Fi, a Mystery and 2 Superhero books for New Comic Book Day. These are just a few stand out new releases this week. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Dept H comics at TFAW.com

    Dept H#1
    By: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt, Jeff Lemire

    Who doesn’t love a good mystery? However, this is not your typical whodunnit!
    Journey with Mia as she takes on what I can only imagine may be the hardest thing she has ever had to do; discover who murdered her father!

    Death, love, an enclosed environment and a ton of suspects have me hooked in to this series for sure! The beautifully drawn and colored book really has a way of letting you grasp what it would be like to be on this ocean adventure.

    Furthermore, there are small details in the art and writing that capture each scene; down to an obvious accent that really adds to a character. Matt and Sharlene Kindt have created something special here!

    Dept H #1 [Sean M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

    Star Trek Manifest Destiny comics at TFAW.com

    Star Trek: Manifest Destiny#1
    By: Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott, Angel Hernandez

    Star Trek Manifest Destiny #1 fits right in with the “JJ ‘verse” (for non-Trekkies that’s what the new timeline that JJ Abrams has created with his two films). From the accurate-yet-comic-feel of the art to the perfect style of dialogue, this book just FEELS like JJ Trek. You can’t help but hear the actors voices as you read through each panel. As for the story itself, Trek fans were clamoring for more Klingons from this new timeline and this series looks to deliver — starting with a Klingon invasion and the setup of a new Klingon villain. This book is a great way to start celebrating Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary this year AND get ready for Star Trek Beyond this summer. Qapla’!

    Star Trek: Manifest Destiny #1 [Dustin K. at Universal Citywalk TFAW]

    Extraordinary X-Men#9

    By: Jeff Lemire, Ken Lashley, Humberto Ramos

    We left off on the last issue off Extraordinary X-men with the newly formed X-men team being confronted by the new horsemen of Apocalypse, fronted by a broke down Colossus. In the midst of this, the younger team of X-men are sent to the future, were the new lord Apocalypse has bent the world to his will.

    In this new issue of Extraordinary X-men, you get to see what happens with the young team when they’re sent to this new, dystopian future to face the horrors that lay before them at the hand of its new ruler. Will Piotr be able to help them get safely back to their time and save the earth from this new future? Will they all make it back in one piece–or even the same? How will the Storm-led team deal with one of their loved ones being used as a hand of doom? “Mutantkind ends here: so says the lord Apocalypse.” Or does it? Find out in Extraordinary X-men #9.

    Jeff Lemire (All New Hawkeye & Descender) showcases his unique ability of bringing real human emotion to the fantastic in this book; he is accompanied by Humberto Ramos’ (Amazing Spider-man) striking artwork.

    Extraordinary X-Men #9 [Steve M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

    Divinity II #1
    By: Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Tom Muller

    Historically I’ve not read many Valiant titles. I’ve picked up a few books here and there. Nothing really drew me into the universe that Valiant Comics has to offer — Until I read Divinity II. And that’s kinda the funny part; this is the second part of the Divinity story. So really, I should be blind as a bat and have no clue as to what is transpiring in this comic. But because Valiant has done a fantastic job of telling new readers about what came before (nestled within the second page prior to the story that takes place in this first issue) I had no problem at all following the characters Matt Kindt writes about in Divinity II, issue #1.

    Within 24 pages I immediately cared about all of the characters. I was completely engaged with the back story about the main character, Myshka. From becoming one of Russia’s first cosmonauts, to traveling to the farthest reaches of the known (Valiant) universe, we learn about Myshka’s childhood and upbringing. Learn about what she’s had to endure from the other test subjects in Russia’s space program and we begin to understand what makes up the fiber of Myshka’s being and why Myshka is able to possibly become…something more. The art by Trevor Hairsine is lovely, dark and at times haunting (inker Ryan Winn & colorist David Baron have a lot to offer with the amazing atmosphere of this book also).

    As Myshka is pushed to the edges of human capability, it’s clear that Trevor and Matt, et. al, care very much about what happens to Myshka and how their story is interpreted by you, the reader.

    If you’ve ever wanted to dive into a Valiant Comic but didn’t know where to begin, I think this would be a great place for you to start with Divinity II #1. I’m definitely in this one for the long haul.

    Divinity II #1 [Ethan S. at Beaverton TFAW]

    Wonder Woman #51
    By: Meredith Finch, Miguel Mendonca, David Finch

    Building off the events of the last issue we find Wonder Woman going deep into Themyscira to help Zeke. We see her deepest fears as it tries to tear her apart, down to her core.

    Meredeth Finch does a fine job planting you inside Diana’s head. With most of this issue speaking through captions. It works great due to how weird it would be talking to yourself out loud for that long.

    Miguel Mendonca, Dexter Vines, Diana Egea, Stephen Downer and Ulises Arreola all do a great job with the art in this issue. Giving Themyscira creepy orange and red tones, along with heavy dark lines pull off how scary this place could be to visit.

    If you are currently reading Wonder Woman this is a fine issue in the story arc. If you haven’t been, you might want to go back a couple of issues just so you’re not lost.

    Wonder Woman #51 [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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  • Goldie Vance – Our Newest Sleuth

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    Goldie Vance at TFAW.com If there ever was a contender for best crime book for kids, this would be on top. With a tagline of “Nancy. Harriet. Veronica. There’s a new Sleuth on the block.” I had to give it a read.

    Hope Larson (A Wrinkle In time) & Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker aka Hellcat, Legend of Kora) team up for a new all-ages detective book from Boom! in the same vein as Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy.

    The series focuses on Marigold “Goldie” Vance a 16-year-old who grew up at the Crossed Palms Resort, a nice resort in St. Pascal, Florida. Goldie has big aspirations beyond working the valet booth at the resort; she wants to be a Detective. She does her best to help Walter, the in house detective at Crossed Palms, although her help is not always wanted. Beyond that we have a great cast of characters, because a Sleuth is only as good as the company they keep. There’s Walter, as we spoke of before, and Cheryl LeBeaux, Goldie’s friend who also works the front desk. We also get introduced to Mr. Vance, Goldie’s father and the manager of the Crossed Palms, and Rob who helps Goldie run valet (and has a crush on Cheryl).
    Goldie Vance at TFAW.com

    What’s fun about this series is Goldie’s personality. She’s so eager to help and so sure of herself you can’t help but want her to solve every case. She is also pretty silly at times with how over confident she can be.

    Brittney Williams’ designs are fantastic. If you’ve read her and Kate Leth’s Patsy Walker aka Hellcat series, the art is very similar. That’s most certainly not a bad thing; her art is very fun and perfect for a story like this.

    Goldie Vance at TFAW.comWith this only being a 4-part miniseries, I can only hope that this book finds its audience so we can get more adventures with Goldie Vance and gang.

    The first three Goldie Vance issues are currently available for order right now at TFAW.com! Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, Lumberjanes, Gotham Academy, or Scooby Doo.

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