Category Archives: Comics

News and information related to comic books, graphic novels, and other sequential art.

Hellboy is back… and still dead

Dark Horse comics has just announced the return of one of their most popular characters in an unusual way.

Hellboy, created by Mike Mignola, was killed back in 2011, but is now back in the comic world, albeit undead. “Hellboy in Hell” will be released in December 2012, with no details revealed as of yet about the comic. One can assume that Hellboy, being in Hell, will spend a good amount of time wandering and possibly trying to get back to the mortal realm, but who knows what Mignola has in mind for his baby.

Check out the full sized teaser image below!

In the meantime, check out this interview from Newsarama where Hellboy creator Mike Mignola discussed his plans to kill his character from the start:

Nrama: It gives you hope in the end because there’s a Hellboy in Hell series coming. Was this always the plan?

Mignola: It was almost from the beginning. A million years ago, I don’t remember exactly, but I was conceiving this thing as a book that would eventually go in this direction.

Nrama: Why this direction in particular? To Hell?

Mignola: As an artist, I’ve never really been comfortable drawing the real world, so even though you don’t see a lot of the real world in the Hellboy stories I’ve been doing, most of the stories were, up to a point, set in the real world. And I always felt just a little hampered by that.

The artist finally won. The writer can write about the real world, but the artist said, “If I’m going to draw this thing, I really want to eventually cut loose. Once I figure out what I want to do, art-wise, I want to be completely liberated from the real world.”

So that’s where we are.

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Comic Review: White Devil

From the three-man crew of Matt Evans, Andrew Helinski, and Nate Burns comes the four part miniseries, White Devil. Evans describes the series in his own words as “what would happen if Cormac McCarthy wrote an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.” Aside from that brief description, there wasn’t any back story given to the creation of this comic. There wasn’t any information given on who Matt Evans, Andrew Helinski or Nate Burns are or what they do, so one can only assume that this comic is as independent as it gets.

This story starts following Sarah; the typical house wife with a typical loving husband with typical children who all come together to compile the typical working class family. Typically, family life has become stagnant for her, though she just recently found something to break up the monotony of her typical everyday life through means most would typically frown upon.

Sound cliché? That’s understandable. However, to the credit of Evans and Helinski, they do make a good attempt in giving Sarah some sort of individuality. The interactions she has with her family give a decent range of emotion, though still generally light hearted a mild mannered, that show it’s not their fault why she takes part in what happens in the second half of the comic.

The artwork is good, but it won’t blow you away. Though much of it is pleasing to the eye, there are times where it gets mucky and difficult to read at times. The sense of space sometimes becomes distorted and flat, and tactics used to create space and mood is inconsistent. Still, Burns still manages to create pretty pictures that go hand and hand with the story being illustrated. His brush inking shows skill and finesse that fit with the overall tone of the book. Though he didn’t hit the nail on the head it isn’t off target, but the biggest issue with this comic, aesthetically, is its typography. It isn’t pleasant at all and almost unreadable in many different areas, and instead of tearing into it further on how bad it is, let’s just say it’s a prime example on how not to deal with type in comics.

Reading this comic, one would imagine it fits into the horror genre. So if that’s your thing, I’d suggest checking this title out. Even better, if you like really indie comics and supporting the little guys in the graphic novel world, this would be worth a look. You never know. This just might be the comic that puts these three guys on the map, which will make you one of those hip folks that enjoyed their work before it was cool.

Realistically though, it’s free. It’s a free read. You can read this comic right now for free. I don’t know how many times or ways I can say it, but its free entertainment. You, as a reader, have nothing to lose by downloading and reading this comic on its blog site aside from five to ten minutes of your life you may have used watching a youtube video you may or may not enjoy anyway.

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Comic Review: Freaks of the Heartland

Dark Horse Comics is re-releasing the Spectrum Gold Award winning miniseries, Freaks of the Heartland, as a deluxe hard covered graphic novel. This gem was released originally back in 2004 as a six issue trade paperback written by famed horror writer Steve Niles, who is also responsible for other great reads like Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night. This story is brought together by accomplished illustrator Greg Ruth, whose talents are also showcased in more recent reads like Sudden Gravity and Alabaster: Wolves.

Freaks of the Heartland is really a testament to how diverse Niles and Ruth can be in the name of storytelling. Its subject matter and feel is a far cry from the blood drenched thriller that is 30 Days of Night, and the artistic styling is nothing like the tight lining and bold gray scaling in Sudden Gravity. For two guys who’ve made the horror genre their own they really showed an entirely different side of what they’re capable of with this story.

This story is centered on two brothers; the older brother named Trevor Owens and his baby brother Will. Trevor has always looked after his younger brother Will, who is grossly deformed and isn’t allowed to stay in the house with the rest of the family.  Will actually stays chained in their barn; away from the few people in the small town they live in. Tension progressively runs higher and higher amongst the small community and tough choices need to be made; the kind of choices children shouldn’t have to make. Through these choices they find out they’re not the only ones in town dealing with this kind of problem.

Reading that kind of premise, I’m sure this doesn’t sound like any horror story you’d be into if you’re into horror comics/graphic novels; which is understandable. However, at its core, this is still a horror story. Much unlike the sort survival horror you’d expect in the genre, Freaks of the Heartland deals more with tragedy, loss of innocence in children, how they deal with it and how those around them react. The story is written and illustrated in a way that it’s easy for the reader to relate to these characters, and from their standpoint, this situation is terrifying. Past that feeling of terrifying uncertainty, there’s a full range of emotions and social issues that are touched upon like empathy, family roles, discrimination, and duty. From both sides of the fence it feels personal, and whenever things calm down you, as the reader still have a feeling of uneasiness coming from these characters.

I would like to give all the credit to Steve Niles for creating such a brilliant story, but in all honesty, no one could have brought this together the way it is the way Greg Ruth does. There is blood and gore in this book, yet it isn’t terribly graphic and doesn’t need to be. Where there was more rendering done and where parts are given less detail is deliberate. It all contributes to the story. The panels get brighter and have higher contrast when the story takes an intense turn and gets more cool and relaxed when things are calm. The children’s faces are illustrated very clearly with softer brush strokes and relaxed colors, as opposed to the adults’ over all appearances are shrouded in more shadow with heavier, more aggressive brush strokes and colors which makes them seem more monstrous than the deformed children in a way. All the while, the pallet keeps up with general earth tones that compliment the heartland theme very well. Simply put, the artwork in this story is beautiful.

If there was any negative about this book that could be pointed out is that you could finish it within an hour, which is kind of unfortunate. It’s really the other edge of the double blade on this sword. The story will keep your attention from beginning to end, and in most cases, you won’t want to put it down. You look at it and think “hey, one hundred sixty some odd pages is a lot of material,” but the book is paced so well that the end comes quickly. It doesn’t ruin the story, it’s just deceptively short.

If you’re into horror comics but want to take a break from the zombies, vampires and aliens; this is the book for you. If you’re not into horror comics, I’d still suggest this title for you. I’d suggest anyone into comics without super heroes. $29.99 is worth the price for a really good story in a hard covered book. Freaks of the Heartland will be available in hard cover on Dark Horse Comic’s website on June 27th, but in the mean time, it is available for pre-order here.

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Dark Horse announces SDCC 2012 exclusives

The largest and most highly anticipated pop culture event of the year, San Diego Comic Con 2012, is right around the corner, and Dark Horse is bringing you the latest and greatest in exclusive products from Dark Horse Deluxe!

2″ Pirate Domo Qee (Limited Edition of 1,500)

These popular 2″ Qee figures have continually sold out, appearing in stores and galleries worldwide. Who wouldn’t want a Pirate Domo Qee? Get one while they last!

Marvel Classic Character: Iron Man Gold Variant (Limited Edition of 200)

Iron Man was originally portrayed in a silvery iron suit when he was introduced to the world by Marvel. Very shortly thereafter he transitioned into this gold-colored iron suit. This Comic-Con exclusive limited-edition Syroco-style statuette stands 4 3/4″ tall and comes in a litho-printed tin box, with a pin-back button and a booklet.

Marvel Classic Character: The Hulk Green Variant (Limited Edition of 200)

We’ve turned the original short-lived gray Hulk to his familiar green just for Comic-Con in this very limited-edition Syroco-style statuette. Hulk stands 4 3/4″ tall, and comes in a litho-printed tin box, with a pin-back button and a booklet.

2.5″ Good Luck Troll: Black-Light Green (Limited Edition of 1,500)

Trolls became one of America’s biggest toy fads in the early 1960s, and again over the years in various revivals from many toy manufacturers. They’ve been off the market for nearly a decade; now Dark Horse is bringing them back with a mystery-box program. However, our San Diego Comic-Con exclusive is no mystery. This green Good Luck Troll with white hair glows under black light and is limited to 1,500 pieces!

Make sure to stop by booth #2615 to check out all of their awesome stuff, only available at San Diego Comic-Con 2012!

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Comic Review: Mind MGMT #1

Critically acclaimed comic book artist/writer and the most original voice in genre comics according to Dark Horse Comics, Matt Kindt, has started working on his first ongoing series as artist and writer for Mind MGMT. This Dark Horse Original is promising everything from weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising and robots to talking dolphins, gorillas and astronauts; all wrapped up in government conspiracies and espionage.

How coherently is all of that subject matter coming across in just the first issue? Aside from the government conspiracies and weaponized psychics, it isn’t doing it much. Understandably so, it’s only the first issue of an ongoing series. If this story made complete sense right from the beginning, it would take away from a lot from the potential of the comic. With that in mind, the near beginning of the comic is especially vague with four people being violently murdered for no apparent reason; each is killed by the person that dies next. This would make no sense if not for the title of this series.

A title like Mind MGMT (management, clearly) gives a bit of an explanation to just about everything unexplainable in this comic before the reader is even presented with it. Through information given throughout this first issue, you just may be able to connect a lot of dots and break through a lot of the mystery into what’s happening. However, the reader doesn’t get beaten over the head with it. So for readers a bit faster on the ball, this may be a bit of a letdown in comparison to those not analyzing everything as much. Still, this doesn’t ruin the story.

The introduction of the protagonist, Meru, is well done in this first issue. A bizarre incident is presented in which she’s investigating. Through this, the reader is given a range of emotions from Meru with a great insight to her situation pre adventure. The reader is presented with a lot of her character in a way that makes not relating to her almost impossible, and from there, the story progresses at a steady pace until the end of the issue. After that, you’re given a two page story about a character seemingly unrelated to what has transpired so far, and like the title does, gives a lot more explanation to what is happening by just being presented as opposed to the information provided.

Despite all this extra information given that might help you make connections to what is going on, it still doesn’t answer why. That’s what makes this a good read; regardless how much the reader may pick up on to explain what, it still doesn’t answer much of any why (if that makes any sense).

As good as the story is, the art isn’t helping the experience, unfortunately. I assume what’s being used here is watercolor, but given the pallet choice, it may be multiple ink washes brought together with inconsistent black lining that doesn’t have any real rhyme or reason.  They don’t emphasize moods or change up depending on the situations at hand, and neither does the color scheme. It’s kind of all over the place with grays to identify flashbacks and (from what I assume are) government agents.

Overall, the artwork screams Expressionism; the sort done by the one student who’s a fine arts major surrounded by communication design majors in an illustration class. By that, I mean it seems that’s the direction taken because that’s what Kindt is comfortable with, and not because it helps tell the story. It’s as though he missed the point of the word “sequential” in the phrase “sequential art.” With that said, I will give credit where it’s due. It’s pretty. These are pretty pictures that are pleasing to the eye and very atypical of a comic, which for some will be a pleasant breath of fresh air.

If you’re into most typical comics; this may not be the title for you. However, if you have an artsy/hipster/beatnik friend who tags along with you to your local comic book shop; this is definitely the title for them. This may just be the title that gets them into comic books. As far as comics go, the story is great, and the art is endearing to non comic fans. interest into other kinds of artistic expression. The fact that it’s different works in Mind MGMT’s favor. As always, you can find this title anywhere Dark Horse Comics are sold, or you can find it on Dark Horse’s website, available now for your viewing pleasure

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“Iron Man 3” villain and actor revealed – “The Iron Patriot”

“Marvel’s The Avengers” is still tearing it up at the box office, raking in over $527 million to date, but that doesn’t mean Tony Stark gets a break from saving the world. “Iron Man 3” is currently filming in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photographers caught the first look at one of the new villains in the movie, the Iron Patriot, who is sporting armor that could give Stark a run for his money. First introduced in the comic “Dark Avengers #1,” the Iron Patriot might have a suit of high-tech armor with a Captain America paint job, but the man inside is not a hero.

That’s actor James Badge Dale (“The Departed,” TV’s “24”) as Eric Savin, one of the villains of “Iron Man 3.” In the comics, Savin is a soldier who is gravely injured in a land mine explosion and reanimated as a cyborg called Coldblood-7. It looks like the movie merges his character from the books with the Iron Patriot armor (which was worn by Spider-Man’s nemesis Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin).

You can spot in the photo that Dale only wears the armored suit from the waist up. He wears motion capture sensors on his legs, which will be used to create CG legs later on.

“Iron Man 3” is expected to be released in theaters next year, with a Thor and Captain America sequel to follow. Check out bigger versions of the pic in the gallery spot below!

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A Boy and His Blind Box: Tokidoki “Marvel Frenzies”

A long time ago, back when I wrote for another toy news site, I started a feature about blind box toys. I have always been a fan of the blind box toy, especially the Japanese ones since you can never really be disappointed with your selection from those. Other toy collectors may not be too interested in not knowing what they are getting and would rather hit up eBay for the full set or to cherry-pick, but for a true collector, it’s the hunt that matters.

After a few years away from that particular site, I decided today it was time to bring this series back on my site. What better way to start it with than these mini-collectibles from Tokidoki, and just in time for the epic release of “The Avengers”. Marvel Frenzies takes the iconic Marvel superheroes and villains and re-imagines them through the mind of Simone Legno in that signature style that has become a part of Tokidoki’s charm. There are twenty characters total in this wave, so let’s take a look and see which ones I end up with!

The art on the boxes is colorful and easy to recognize. Anyone can tell who is who from Marvel by their specific attributes, such as Spidey’s eyes or Wolverine’s pointy ears. Even a collector who is not familiar with Tokidoki will instantly be able to pick apart the characters and be intrigued by the unique designs.

The sides of the box also feature a bizarre little comic page with some of the other characters in this series. Why does Captain America love burgers? Because he is American of course, just like how Dr Doom stews on his throne like all Latverian’s do (assuming they existed). My favorite would be on the top of this side, which has Cyclops using his optic blast to roast a leg of meat.

The figures are housed inside silver pouches with a very easy to tear slit on each side, along with the Tokidoki logo all over it. What characters lurked inside these metallic mystery bags? Let’s rip them open and find out!

First up was Rogue, wearing her iconic X-Men outfit from the mid-90’s, popularized by the Saturday morning animated series. You have to love the little details in these little figures, which stand a mere inch and a half tall. Rogue’s eyelashes stand out, as her hands on her hips give her that Southern attitude that Marvel fans are accustomed to. While her figure may not be as sultry as a ten-inch tall Kotobukiya statue, her curves remain intact, as do the little details on her costume like her belt that hangs low on her waist and her knee-high boots.

The paint can be a bit iffy in some spots on Rogue, but that is easily forgiven when you remember the scale of the figures. Rogue is a character that requires more paint than the average character, so I am not docking any points on the occasional paint mishap.

Rogue is not the only female character in this line, which also features Storm from the X-men and another Storm, Sue Stork AKA The Invisible Woman from The Fantastic Four.

Joining us in bag numero dos is the former herald of Galactus and most emo character in Marvel comics until Penance emerged after “The Civil War”, The Silver Surfer. With no discernible facial features, Surfer does have a very shiny coat of paint that is quite reflective like the “real” Surfer. I use quotation marks since he is not exactly real… at least to most people…

Surfer is crouched deep on his surf board as he careens through the galaxy in a very dynamic pose, possibly the most dynamic of all the Frenzies. Surfer is not the only Frenzy with a vehicle, as Captain America is riding a skateboard (he is also carrying a cheeseburger, since all Americans ride skateboards and love cheeseburgers.

Some of the other characters in this line include Thor, The Punisher, Wolverine, Iron Man, Doctor Octopus, and even The Vision from The Avengers. Tokidoki has gone out of their way to have a very eclectic mix of characters, and have successfully captured their likenesses, redesigned them in the TD style, and squashed them into 1 1/2 inches.

These are some fun blind box figures, and one of the best parts about them is that they can double as keychains. Each one comes with a thin lanyard that you can use, as well as a proper latch to attach them to your backpack, cell phone, or wherever else you want to snag them onto.

“Marvel Frenzies” is a fun blind box figure that covers many bases. Hardcore fans will appreciate the characters in their signature poses, while anime fans will love the chibi-style that does not go too far into the realms of obnoxiously cute. Combined with the keychain, these collectibles can fit in on a shelf, nailed on a wall, or hanging on a book bag. I say give these blind boxes a shot and see who you end up with.

If you liked these figures, you can pick them up straight from Tokidoki’s site at this link here for $5.95 each! Check out the gallery below for more shots of these toys!

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Comic Review: “Alabaster: Wolves” #1

Accomplished dark fantasy writer and multiple International Horror Guild award winner (amongst other awards and well over a dozen nominations), Caitlín R. Kiernan, makes her long time awaited return to comic books with Dark Horse Comics’ release named Alabaster: Wolves. This five part miniseries follows the protagonist, Dancy Flammarion, an albino monster hunter which is, apparently, being watched over by an angel who doesn’t do much more than observe and help her navigate through dangerous situations in the deep south of the United States..

If you’re already familiar with Kiernan’s work, then the character of Dancy Flammarion shouldn’t be new to you, seeing how she appeared in Alabaster which prequels Threshold, both released a long while back. Those short stories follow her through her childhood in the backwoods and swamps of Florida going into her teenage hood having duels to the death with monsters in southern Georgia.

If you aren’t familiar with the character or the series she derives from or even with Kiernan’s work, you’re in luck. This is a fine starting point for all three.  In this comic, you’re not spoon fed Dancy’s life story or all of what she’s about. However, within the 20 some odd pages of this first issue (and this is rare to see it in comics nowadays), you’re shown this character is very not one dimensional. The attention to detail  from the obvious and slight emotion within the interactions between characters, the thought process of Dancy, to even their legitimately and convincingly country grammar within the dialog really hooks you into this world. Sincerely, the writing holds weight all on its own, and if Alabaster: Wolves was illustrated with just crude stick figures done by some eight year old from some public elementary school in some back water town no one ever heard of, this comic would still be a great read.

Luckily, this comic isn’t illustrated by some nobody eight year old. The illustrator who lent his talents to  such other comics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales and Dark Horse Presents, Steve Lieber, lends his talents to this comic. Similar to Kiernan’s writing, Lieber’s artistic styling gives an acute attention to detail in a different way, yet still compliments her writing.

None of the comic is highly rendered, but there’s just enough texture everywhere its needed with heavy black and gritty markings without coming off lazy. From an artistic standpoint, it comes off confident and precise with a high contrast inking job, clearly separating Dancy’s pale skin and white hair from the background and characters she interacts with. The colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, which separates Dancy from everything else in a similar way, are treated just the same; there’s just enough to get the point across through great color control. Pale and grayish blues and greens come together with the heavy black in the line art to create an eerie and uncertain mood to set the tone right out the gate, and as the plot thickens the colors get more intense until the pallet switches from uncertain cools to urgent warms to accentuate the gravity of the situation at hand. However, despite how well done Lieber and Rosenberg set mood in this comic, what really stands out are the mannerisms, facial expressions and body language of the characters in this comic they create together. As good as the writing is, the characters’ personalities, emotions and reactions to one another shine through with just the illustration work.

From every angle, this comic is well done.  Kiernan, Lieber and Rosenberg get it. They’re not trying to fit a mold for what comics typically are and they’re not trying to win any beauty pageants with overly and unnecessarily rendered art. They’re telling a story. They present you a world to step into rich with personality and ambiance by giving you just enough. They don’t beat you over the head with anything, but the more you look, the more you find. This is proper sequential art and a prime example on how it should be done. It’s definitely worth the $3.50 Dark Horse Comics is asking for. Personally, I’d go for a hard copy from your local comic book shop and support local business, but if you can’t get to one anytime soon, or you just don’t feel like dealing with them, you could always head over to Dark Horse Comics’ website and buy it there today.

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“47 Ronin” by Sakai coming soon to Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics is proud to announce a historical comic adaptation of the tale of the 47 ronin: A story of loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor.

Written by Dark Horse president Mike Richardson and drawn by multiple Eisner Award winner Stan Sakai, 47 Ronin tells the tale of a daimyo (feudal lord) who was forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) and his samurai-turned-ronin who avenged his wrongful death.

“I’ve been fascinated with this story from the earliest days of Dark Horse, visiting the significant locations and doing research during my trips to Japan. For years I’ve been looking for just the right artist and it finally dawned on me that he was right here at Dark Horse,” said Mike Richardson. “Stan Sakai is a master storyteller who knows the material, and his artistic interpretation is perfect for the story. What’s more, my friend, legendary manga writer Kazuo Koike (Lone Wolf and Cub), has served as editorial consultant for the project.”

47 Ronin marks the first time Stan Sakai has collaborated extensively with another writer. He promises stylized artwork in the vein of traditional Japanese woodblock prints—one of the most popular depictions of the 47 ronin.

“I have known the 47 Ronin story about all my life, and I paid a pilgrimage to their gravesite when I was in Japan in 2009. This is a significant event in Japanese history, and when Mike asked me to illustrate the story I jumped at the chance. I’m known for the research I do, but I was amazed at the research and knowledge Mike already had. I’m having a blast with this,” said Stan Sakai.

47 Ronin will be on comic stands November 2012.

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DC Comics set to unleash six-issue mini-series of He-Man

Fans of 80’s nostalgia are in for a treat, as DC Comics announced a new six-issue limited series of “He-Man and The Masters of the Universe!”

The short run will be a continuation of the continuity we all know and love, but hardcore He-fans need not worry about this being canon or not (since we are still not sure if it will or will not be). The story we now so far is Skeletor has figured out a way to rewrite the reality of Eternia, casting himself as the ruler of Castle Grayskull, and our heroes – including He-Man – as regular peasants with no memory of their previous life. And while simple woodsman Adam may dream of wielding a massive sword, and fighting in battles, he thinks they’re just dreams. That is, until a mysterious sorceress approaches him, and sends him on an epic journey to save all of Eternia.

“I know for a fact that a certain generation of people, who grew up at the right time, hold genuine affection for Masters of the Universe,” said James Robinson to MTV Geek, who is also currently writing Earth 2 and Shade for DC. “The challenge is to write something that raises the standard for the series, with a cool, modern story that nevertheless honors the fans of the animated series and toy line.”

DC has printed Masters of the Universe comic books before, notably a 1982 issue of DC Comics Presents featuring a mind-controlled He-Man fighting Superman. Mattel is in the midst of their Masters of the Universe Classics toy line, which this nerd has been collecting for about a year now. What other mysteries await He-Man in this new world? We will know soon enough!

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