Nothing But Comics is about to hit our two year mark and in observance of the site’s anniversary, every Tuesday from now until we finish, one of our staff members will list off their favorite series, runs or issues of all time. This week it’s Tyler
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HERE ARE SOME ISSUES THAT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT.Tyler’s Recommendations: Rumble #6
“Rumble is back! John Arcudi and James Harren’s tale of a warrior, a bartender, and a sword that will help them defeat ultimate evil. Fantasy, horror, adventure, humor, this book has it all.”
Updated: full press release after the jump with more information on titles Continue reading Updated: Roberson, Walsh & Rivera Join Next Iteration Of Hellboy Comics
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HERE ARE SOME ISSUES THAT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT.Reed doesn’t need 1.21 gigawatts for… Past Aways #1 How do visionary comics creators Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins handle time traveling heroic adventurers? I can’t wait to find out this Wednesday!
In his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature” (1927), author H. P. Lovecraft distinguishes weird fiction from other terror fiction, and stresses the importance of mood, or “atmosphere,” as a component of weird fiction:
“The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain – a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.”
Creating “a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces” is an essential skill for writers of weird fiction, including weird comics, and one technique used to establish supernatural dread in a story is the use of arcane language. Comics creators use arcane language in a variety of ways to instill a dread of supernatural danger in readers.
So this week I’ve decided to do a more in-depth review for The Banana Stand. I’m a huge fan of the BPRD books, and the Mignolaverse in general, so I thought this was good book to start with.
Overview: Issue #118 is the penultimate issue in “The Reign of the Black Flame” storyline, and it has been one of the best all-around BPRD arcs in the series as a whole. For starters we get more James Harren artwork–which is just fantastic–but we’re also getting an exciting culmination of the last year or so of stories. Everything has been leading to this, basically since the Russia arc, and Arcudi, Mignola, and Co. have delivered in spades. New York City has gone to shit, and it’s up to the Bureau and it’s Russian counterpart to save the day and keep the entire world from being overrun with monsters. We get great character moments with Iosif, Johann, and Fenix; as well as a showcase of how badass Liz Sherman can really be. This issue does a fantastic job of being completely gripping, while setting things up for the ultimate reckoning next issue. So now I’m going to dive into some specifics, if you haven’t read the issue or are trade waiting–
what’s wrong with you!–fair warning, ****THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD***** Continue reading Banana Stand Special: BPRD #118
By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Alex Maleev, and Dave Stewart
This issue comes as close to possible as being a classic Hellboy story as it can, in the best way. Hellboy and the agent who went into the collapsed building to save him, find a tunnel leading into the castle outside the village. Entering the castle they find more mechanized monkeys, cadavers, and Frankensteins. Each character faces off against a Frankenstein monster, then learns the mastermind behind it all is Herman Von Klempt.
The issue is full of irony and action. The irony comes from Hellboy’s reaction to events, he’s put off by the strange monkeys and Von Klempt’s appearance, however in 40+ years this will all seem normal to him. Another source of irony is Von Klempt himself, once again building monsters to a cause that has left him behind (in more ways than one). Irony is but a tool for fate, and Von Klempt is doomed to repeat these plots until the events of Conqueror Worm.
The art this issue is superb, with Maleev stretching the muscles he built up on Marvel’s Daredevil with Brian Micheal Bendis. He also recreates some of the famous scenes from Hellboy’s origin, but without sacrificing his personal flair. Indeed, Maleev was a great artistic choice as it naturally fits in with the first volume of Hellboy’s style. Adding to the sense of continuity is Dave Stewart’s colors, rich when needed and subdued when appropriate.
Overall, this is the penultimate issue of the mini and it ratchets up the tension. It is a satisfying read on its own, but sure to lead to a just as satisfying end.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent.
Overview: The first issue of John Arcudi and James Harren’s new creator owned series drops us right into a strange, yet somewhat familiar world. We’re left to figure it out as we go, but the setting is interesting, and the characters are intriguing. Combine that with the always phenomenal artwork by James Harren, and you get a pretty solid debut issue that warrants your attention.
Story: The basic premise is a mysterious figure with a mysterious weapon arrives in a city that appears to have seen better days. We meet Bobby, a local bartender, and presumably our POV character; and by the end of the issue we only learn some tidbits to chew on until next issue. This mysterious–and gigantic–sword will attract the attention of weird monsters, and the owner of this sword appears to be supernatural in some way himself.
Part of me wishes we were given more context to work with, but I’ve been reading Arcudi’s stuff long enough to trust he’s taking this somewhere awesome, and the hints at something very creepy and supernatural going on are enough to hook me. What worries me, is if there was enough of a hook for the uninitiated. I was pretty smitten with this book based on the creative team alone, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I may be in the minority. A first issue really needs to grab our attention, and story wise I don’t know if Rumble was quite successful in that regard. For some readers, being left a bit in the dark is not satisfying, and figuring out the mystery $3.50 at a time, month after month just doesn’t cut it.
I really hope those new to this creative team will give it a chance, because I think this is going to be a very cool book. Though even I cannot provide an explanation for what is supposed to happen beyond the fact that there will be visceral action, creepy-rad monsters, mystery, and probably some laughs along the way. If that’s enough or you–and it should be–then welcome to the party! If not, then at least stick around for some of the best art in comics, and the story will become more clear as we move along.
Art: For anyone not happy with the amount of story context, the artwork should more than make up for it. James Harren has done amazing stuff in the Mignolaverse, so the excitement of getting to witness he and Arcudi’s carte blanche vision of an entirely new world is something I can barely contain. Harren has built a name on frenetic, palpably intense action sequences, that shatter expectations of what can be done with static images. Here we get to see him showcase his equally brilliant ability to world build.
The cityscape is reminiscent of others we’ve seen in fiction, but maintains it’s own personality. I referenced 1970’s NYC meets Mad Max in my indubitable issues recommendation, but so far the Mad Max is only apparent in the dystopian-feeling spirit of the place. The streets are barren, filled with more fog than people, and it seems like a city where you’d lock your doors even when you’re home; hell, especially when your home :)
Harren’s character work is also given a chance to shine, each person is different, and you get a real sense of who they are, just based on their clothes and faces. Features are exaggerated, but with a fair amount of realism still intact, and his expression work is fantastic. If this is your first exposure to Mr. Harren’s work, then I’m sure this issue blew your socks off.
I have to mention Dave Stewart, who as always, colors this world to perfection. Using purples, blues, oranges, and reds to really give a pop to the mood of each scene, or paint the action with an urgent flash of bright background. He’s familiar with Harren and Arcudi from their work at Dark Horse, so the transition here is seamless.
Conclusion: Despite some concerns over it’s ability to hook new readers with the story, Rumble #1 is a solid debut from a polished and very talented team. As a huge fan of everyone involved I sincerely hope this venture with Image attracts new readers to the brilliance of both Arcudi and Harren, and I can’t wait to learn more about this strange new world in the coming issues.
I urge anyone on the fence to check out a couple more issues, because I know the mysterious nature exists with a purpose; John Arcudi is one of the best writers working today, so if you’re looking for a wild, fantastical ride, you’ve come to the right book. The art of James Harren, and the chance to witness this team build a world from the ground up should be enough to warrant your patience.
So what do you think NBC! faithful? Did you enjoy this issue? Was I completely wrong in my assessment? Let me know in the comments, and as always thank you for reading!
I freaking love comics. So many comics. Too many to put in one single list. We all like different things. Some of us like big two comics. Other’s may prefer large publisher creator owned work while other’s dig the small press. I like all of that. I’ll cover my favorites from the different corners of comic book publishing over the month of December.
For this week I’ll be covering Intellectual Property from outside DC and Marvel
Being a publisher that doesn’t feature The Avengers or Batman is a tough sell. Engaging your audience with characters that exist outside of the mainline of traditional superhero’s can be an uphill battles. One way for companies to stay afloat or even thrive is to use intellectual property with a name recognition that keep’s the orders coming in and the lights on. It’s much easier to sell whoever your buyer is on a name with some kind of proven track record in pop culture then what can feel like a hit or miss investment on new creator owned properties. This list is an approximation for all the non Marvel or DC mainline intellectual property comics that transcend what can appear as a blatant cash grab for excellent comic book product. Honorable mention to Valliant titles Archer and Armstrong, Eternal Warrior XO Manawar and Unity that just barely missed the cut mostly because I just started reading a lot of that in the last six months, Brian Wood’s excellent Star Wars ongoing, Layman’s and Sam Keith’s Alien series that was orginally printed in Dark Horse Presents before being collected in hardcover format, Joe Hill’s new mini series The Wraith and Howard Chaykin’s super fun PoliSciFi take on Buck Rogers Now on to the list
by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Alex Maleev, and Dave Stewart
If you’ve never read Hellboy, BPRD, or the other Mignolaverse books; this is a fine place to start.
The Story: Prof. Trevor Bruttenholm (“Broom”) has a flashback to 1946, and remembers how he learned of how Hellboy arrived on Earth. He has a premonition of Hellboy fully grown, destroying the Earth. He awakes in 1952, and decides to put Hellboy into the field as the first non-human, non-agent agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Hellboy is excited to be outside the Bureau, having lived there for many years not allowed to leave. He joins a team of four human agents, and travels to a village in Brazil plagued by superhuman monsters.
The Art: Is very smooth, very different from what you typically think of for Alex Maleev. There is a trend of artists drawing these books to incorporate Mignola’s style; without mimicking it outright. Usually I think of grit and texture when I think of Maleev’s art. Here, it looks like a cross between Tony Zonijic and Jason Howard. The book sings in this respect; these books seem to bring out the best in their artists and Maleev is no exception. The grid patterns, flashback sequences, shading all make the book enjoyable to read.
Overall: Hellboy hasn’t felt like Hellboy for awhile. Hellboy in Hell has been underwhelming to me; despite Mignola saying it has given him more freedom (paraphrasing) I think it has done the opposite. Here, HB is back in his roots literally and figuratively. It’s a joy to see, because this had almost everything I love about Hellboy in it. It is very much a set-up issue, which is fine. This builds suspense and reacquaints readers with the setting and old characters. If you’ve looked for a jumping on point, this is probably the best opportunity.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent