Sunday, March 29, 2015

Valiant Origins videos debut on You Tube channel today

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Fresh news, just released today March 29, 2015!                                                  From the official press release . . . . . . . . . .


Announced today at Emerald City Comicon 2015, Valiant's 25th Anniversary celebration continues with the debut of VALIANT ORIGINS – an all-new web series spotlighting the origins of Valiant's biggest heroes bi-weekly across 10 animated episodes!  Beginning today with release of the first episode, VALIANT ORIGINS: BLOODSHOT, subsequent installments will be made available every other week on Valiant's official YouTube channel

Watch the Video

New to the award-winning world of the Valiant Universe?  Meet the greatest heroes that Valiant has to offer here in VALIANT ORIGINS – an introductory overview of the biggest, most powerful characters from throughout the largest independent superhero universe anywhere in comics!  Bloodshot.  X-O Manowar.  Ninjak.  Livewire.  Quantum and Woody.  Divinity.  And many more!  Just in time for Valiant's 25th Anniversary, find out what made these formidable heroes into the comic book icons they are every other week with a new episode of VALIANT ORIGINS on Valiant's official YouTube channel!

"We are always meeting new fans in stores or at conventions who have the same question: I've heard incredible things about Valiant, now where can I start?" said Valiant Publisher Fred Pierce.  " VALIANT ORIGINS is an easy answer to that question.  This web series will be a one-stop destination to find out who Valiant's characters are and can quickly get new readers up to speed on the heroes and villains that will be at the forefront of Valiant's publishing line in the months and years to come."

"We've made great inroads by giving new readers multiple ways to discover the best of Valiant's award-winning series with $9.99 volume one trade paperbacks, clearly demarcated jumping-on points, and even One Dollar Debut reprints of our biggest #1 issues," said Hunter Gorinson, Valiant's Director of Marketing, Communications, and Digital Media.  " VALIANT ORIGINS is another important addition to that roster, and one that will give new fans anywhere around the world an easy introduction to the fundamentals of the biggest characters at the center of the Valiant Universe."


Brought back from the dead and infused with cutting-edge nanotechnology, Bloodshot is a nearly unstoppable killing machine.  Equipped with enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing, he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit – a private contractor trafficking in violence – very well.  But after defying his programming and escaping his captors, Bloodshot now fights to rediscover the secret of his true identity – but remains haunted by the past that nearly destroyed him…

After playing a lead role in Valiant's critically acclaimed four-issue epic, THE VALIANT, Bloodshot's next chapter begins on April 15th with BLOODSHOT REBORN #1 – the first issue of an all-new ongoing series from from New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mico Suayan.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015, Valiant is one of the most successful comic book publishing companies in the history of the medium with more than 81 million comics sold and a library of more than 2,000 distinct characters.  Established by a brain trust of legendary comics creators – including Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith – Valiant’s heroes and villains inhabit the largest independently owned superhero universe anywhere in comics.  Re-established in 2005 as Valiant Entertainment, the company returned to great commercial and critical success in 2012, winning a Diamond Gem Award for Publisher of the Year and numerous industry awards and accolades.  To date, Valiant’s titles consistently rate among the best reviewed in comics. 


Valiant's 25th Anniversary celebration continues ahead on May 2nd with the FCBD 2015: VALIANT 25th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL – featuring two all-new stories from superstar creators Jeff Lemire & Butch Guice and Robert Venditti & Rafa Sandoval, alongside a myriad of never-before-seen special features chronicling Valiant’s storied place in comics history!  Plus: special guests from throughout Valiant’s decades-long history and a cavalacade of surprises!

Then, follow the legendary origins behind Valiant’s most indelible icons from the screen to the page with the VALIANT: ZEROES & ORIGINS VOL. 1 trade paperback collection, re-presenting each of Valiant’s greatest zero issue introductions to X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, and more!  Featuring a world-class cast of creators, including Joshua Dysart, Matt Kindt, Lewis LaRosa, Clay Mann, Peter Milligan, Mico Suayan, Robert Venditti, and more, plus an all-new cover by red-hot artist Emanuela Lupacchino, this perfect companion to the VALIANT ORIGINS web series arrives in stores on May 6th.


$9.99 | 112 pages | T+ | ON SALE NOW
TRADE PAPERBACK| ISBN: 978-0-979640-96-4

Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Cover A by JUAN DOE (FEB151641)
Cover B by MICO SUAYAN (FEB151642)
Cover C by DAVE JOHNSON (FEB151643)
Cover D by LEWIS LAROSA (FEB151644)
Valiant Next Variant by MICO SUAYAN & TOM MULLER (FEB151646)
Variant Cover by JEFF LEMIRE (FEB151647)
Variant Cover by BUTCH GUICE (FEB151648)
B&W Sketch Variant by LEWIS LAROSA (FEB151649)
Blank Cover also available (FEB151645)
$3.99 |32 pgs.| T+ | ON SALE APRIL 15

$19.99 | 144 pages | T+ | ON SALE MAY 6
TRADE PAPERBACK| ISBN: 978-1-939346-58-2

Friday, March 27, 2015

New CBLDF fund-raiser via and Dynamite

 from the official press release . . . . .

March 26, 2015, Mt. Laurel, NJ:  Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce that Groupees LLC, a unique media and charity bundling site, will host - for the first time ever - a ten-day comic book bundle promotion that allows fans and curious newcomers to purchase over 80 digital Dynamite comics and graphic novels with "Pay What You Want" purchasing power.  A portion of proceeds will be contributed to one of the industry's most important charitable organizations, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  The bundle promotion will run from Thursday, March 26, through Monday, April 6, on the website

Groupees Logo          dynamite-logo

Through the Groupees program, customers can purchase a bundle of digital comic book and graphic novels for a price they decide.  The first tier of exciting digital content is unlocked with the dollar minimum investment, but consumers can double their take by reaching the $5.00 second tier.  Dynamite offers a highly desirable batch of comics at the third tier for a $10.00 minimum investment, including the bestselling Dynamite Art of Alex Ross art book.

For those who participate in the "Pay What You Want" initiative with considerable support, Dynamite will reward the top ten consumers with special prizes.  The Top Prize will see the contributor illustrated on the cover of an upcoming Dynamite comic book, alongside the title character, and the cover will be drawn by superstar artist Jae Lee.  The winner will also receive 100 copies of the comic and the original artwork.  The second, third, and fourth-highest contributors will be illustrated as characters on one interior page of a Dynamite comic book, while the fifth through tenth-highest contributors will receive a hand-drawn illustration of their favorite Dynamite character, illustrated by Jae Lee. Additionally, top-secret Group Bonuses will be unlocked for all consumers to enjoy when the overall orders reach certain thresholds.

"We're thrilled to be partnering with Dynamite Entertainment to offer this First Edition Dynamite Groupees Comic Bundle," says Thomas Brooke, Groupees Founder and CEO.  "Dynamite has an exceptional catalogue of titles and is offering fans in this promotion an amazing deal on some truly exceptional books including the likes of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell.  As we expand into this category of media, we look forward to continuing to work with Dynamite to offer literary fans of all types curated, great deals during our online social events that connect fans and artists."

The $1.00 Minimum Tier features superhero action, pulp intrigue, Victorian mystery, tough-talkin' private eyes, and mind-blowing swords-and-sorcery, courtesy of some of the comic industry's brightest stars: Gail Simone ( Batgirl), Alex Ross ( Kingdom Come), Tim Seeley ( Hack/Slash), Jim Krueger ( Earth X), David Liss ( Black Panther), and more.   This accessible bundle includes:


Project Superpowers (Vol. 1) #0 - #7

Dawn/Vampirella #1

The Spider #1 - #6

Chaos! #1 - #6 Chaos01-Cov-Campbell

Shaft #1

Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty Lives #1 - #5

Red Sonja (Vol. 2) #1 - #6

Altered States: Red Sonja

The $5.00 Minimum Tier features 48 comics written by the mainstream's most beloved authors and movie directors, like George R.R. Martin ( A Game of Thrones), Quentin Tarantino ( Pulp Fiction), Kevin Smith ( Clerks), Warren Ellis ( Iron Man, Red), Garth Ennis ( Punisher), Jim Butcher ( Dresden Files), and Nancy A. Collins ( Sunglasses After Dark).  Also, the Fox cartoon sensation Bob's Burgers, gaming powerhouse Pathfinder, and rock ‘n roll icon Alice Cooper round out the package, making it worth the additional investment.

D.E. Comic Page Template.eps

A Game of Thrones #1

Vampirella: Feary Tales #1 - #2

Warren Ellis' Project Superpowers: Blackcross #1

Garth Ennis' Jennifer Blood #1 - #3

Alice Cooper #1 - #3

Bob's Burgers #1 - #2

Army of Darkness (Vol. 3) #1 - #5

Purgatori #1 - #4

Kevin Smith's Green Hornet #1  - #10 BloodQueen-01-Cov-Anacleto

Django/Zorro #1 - #2

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: Storm Front (Vol. 1) #1 - #4

Pathfinder #1 - #6

Cryptozoic Man #1 - #4

Blood Queen Annual 2014

Finally, the $10.00 Minimum Tier features 17 comic books by Bill Willingham ( Fables), Jim Starlin (the creator of Thanos from Marvel's The Avengers), and Tom Clancy (the video game Splinter Cell), as well as the bestselling Dynamite Art of Alex Ross, a 328-page retrospective of the influential painter's cover artwork and character designs on such characters as Vampirella, Green Hornet, The Bionic Man, the Kirbyverse, Black Terror, and more. Legenderry01-Cov-Benitez


Dynamite Art of Alex Ross

Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure #1 - #7

Dreadstar #1 - #6

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Echoes #1 - #4

Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment, says, "Groupees has a unique and incredible mechanism to engage fans and bring content to a new audience, as well as reward any fans of our existing audience who wish to take advantage of this promotion.  They've built a model that stands out and can help grow the fan base for comics, which in turn can bring more readers to the industry, and that is extremely exciting.  With comics being - if not the only, then one of the only - forms of print that has grown side by side with digital, we're proud to be working with Thomas and his team to create more awareness of comics among their audience, who in turn will come into our industry and many of whom will then become ongoing readers."

Part of the proceeds from the first-ever Dynamite Groupees Bundle will contribute to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers.

Fans and curious newcomers are encouraged to visit between Thursday, March 26, and Monday, April 6, to take advantage of the first-ever comic bundle hosted by Groupees.

World War Z Movie Review

World War Z is movie that shouldn’t be any good. The source material was a collection of stories from individual survivors that never intersected, leaving nothing useful to make a movie out of other than the title. Max Brooks, the author of the original book, is the spoiled rich kid of Mel Brooks and insists he created the modern zombie and decries anyone else’s work. The movie is PG-13 which is odd for a zombie movie. Add to all this, the movie being pushed back to do last minute re-shoots to accommodate negative preview reaction.
With all this against it, it’s amazing that the movie is actually my favorite of the summer so far. The source material was thrown out to create a totally new story. Max Brooks was passed over for script writing duty with J. Michael Straczynski actually writing the first version. The edits that make it PG-13 don’t detract from the story and the re-shoots obviously did what they were designed to do.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a retired UN employee who is going about his normal life when the zombie plague overtakes his hometown of Philadelphia. Rescued by his previous employer, he quickly realizes he has been drafted back in to service as he jet-sets around the globe in a desperate attempt to find Patient Zero and find any clues that might turn the tide against the masses of undead.
The set pieces of multiple countries allows a little from the book to seep through as far as various defense scenarios and how the dead eventually overcome them. It’s always in the background and used as a plot device that would have to occur anyway.
The characters are all well fleshed out and the dynamic between husband and wife is instantaneous and believable despite the chaos that unfolds mere minutes into the movie. Gerry has a UN military escort but is not a stereotypical shotgun-wielding bad ass. That he survives his encounters with the undead is mostly due to luck and some planning.
The one part of this movie that propels it to be a five star review is the ending. In most zombie movies, the protagonists die until it comes down to one sole survivor (and sometimes his girlfriend, if she’s lucky). Although this movie does rack up an impressive body count, it manages to avoid this trope and the ending is one that convincingly dawns a new morning for the human race.
Note on 3D: All done post production. I saw it in 3D but aside from some falling zombies, it didn't have enough moments to be a great 3D film.  Suggest watching in 2D.
Final rating (out of 5): 5_Star

Monday, March 23, 2015

ONI Press gets two more new titles ready for release . . . .

from the official press releases . . . . . . .


oyster Wars

PORTLAND, OR March 23rd, 2015 - Oni Press, Portland’s premier independent comic book publisher, announced today Oyster War, a colorful, comedic historical graphic novel by three time Eisner-nominated cartoonist Ben Towle (Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean). Oyster War will release on September 23rd, and will be an SPX debut.

In the coastal town of Blood's Haven, the economy runs on oysters.  Oyster farming is one of the most lucrative professions, but also the most dangerous.  Not just from the unforgiving ocean and its watery depths—there are also oyster pirates to worry about! Commander Davidson Bulloch and his motley crew are tasked with capturing these ne'er-do-wells—but they don't know that Treacher Fink, the pirates' leader, possesses a magical artifact that can call forth a legendary spirit with the power to control the sea and everything in it!

“I started work on Oyster War five years ago with a very specific vision,” says creator Ben Towle.  “I'd done several historical fiction books previously and now I wanted to jump squarely into the realm of the fantastic.  Oyster War is a nautical adventure story set in a not-quite-real late 19th century US that's full of pirates, brawlers, sea serpents, and shape-shifters.  It's far and away my favorite work to-date.  I couldn't be happier with the way Oni's bringing the Oyster War print collection to life.  Presentation was always in the back of my mind as I worked on the story.  From the get-go I conceived of Oyster War as a big, hardcover, European album-sized book with high-end production values—and that's exactly what's going to wind up in readers' hands!”


Blood Feud

PORTLAND, OR March 22nd, 2015 - Oni Press, Portland’s premier independent comic book publisher, announced today Blood Feud, a Southern horror series by Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun, Hellbreak), Drew Moss (Terrible Lizard), and Nick Filardi (Helheim, Brides of Helheim). Blood Feud will release on October 7th.

Blood Feud is a Southern tale of vampires, necromancers, horrific spiders and family feuds that survive beyond the grave.

Writer Cullen Bunn adds,  “Subtitled ‘A Vampire Yarn... With Spiders,’ Blood Feud is a book that means a lot to me on a lot of different levels.  It's a story that's been with me for years, and the characters are, in one way or another, people who were important in my life, especially while I was growing up in rural North Carolina and Missouri.  Spider Creek, the town in which this horrific little tale takes place, may be fictional, but it's also very real.  It draws bits and pieces from towns like Newton Grove and Dudley and Koshkonong and Thayer to form a place that might very well be the location for an invasion of blood-sucking demonic beasties.  Blood Feud is also my chance to re-team with Drew Moss and Nick Filardi.  This is a story of humor and horror in the vein of movies like Fright Night and Phantasm and Evil Dead 2, and I couldn't think of two better co-conspirators to bring this story to life!”

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A sneak peak inside the Valiant bullpen via BUZZFEED.COM


EDITOR’S NOTE:  Use the link below to check out a great write-up on Valiant Comics by Daniel Kibblesmith.  There are some insights into the creative process as well as a good overview of the entire company . . . . . . .


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gages to create historical epic graphic novel for ONI Press

from the official press release . . . . . . . . . . .

PORTLAND, OR March 21st, 2015 - Oni Press, Portland’s premier independent comic book publisher, announced today Lion of Rora, an original graphic novel by Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil, Avengers Academy, Buffy thb1ab0a35-5c46-4187-84b0-a373a6259123e Vampire Slayer Season Nine), Ruth Fletcher Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil, Law and Order: SVU), and Jackie Lewis. Lion of Rora will release on August 5th.

Lion of Rora tells the true story of Joshua Janavel and the Waldensians, a persecuted Christian movement in 17th century Italy. Joshua is inspired to lead his people to resist the tyranny of the local duke and fight for their freedom. His tale is one of hope, strength, and unshakable faith.

“The Waldensians are Ruth’s ancestors, so the story of Joshua Janavel is a personal and important one to us," said Christos Gage. "But it’s also a universal tale of the struggle for freedom, family and a safe place to call home. Jackie Lewis has done an incredible job capturing both the epic scope of the battles and the small moments that convey Janavel’s struggle between the simple man of peace he wanted to be and the brilliant general he became. We couldn’t ask for a better presentation than what Oni has given Lion of Rora. ”

Hopeless Savages Returns in August via ONI Press

From the official press release. . . .


PORTLAND, OR March 20th, 2015 - Oni Press, Portland’s premier independent comic book publisher, announced today Hopeless Savages: Break, a new chapter in the Hopeless Savages story, by original series creator Jen Van Meter and artist Meredith McClaren (Hinges), featuring art by original series artist Christine Norrie. Hopeless Savages: Break will release on August 12th, 2015.

Hopeless Savages: Break continues the story of fan favorite protagonist Zero and her punk rock family. Zero finds herself in college and thoroughly hating it, though an upcoming tour with her band The Dusted Bunnies promises to rejuvenate her spirits. A rival band threatens to end the tour early, and without her family, Zero is in no position to fight back. Meanwhile, the rest of the Hopeless-Savages are dealing with their own problems, including babies, contracts and drug addictions. If there’s one family who can pull it all off, it’s this one.

“The first Hopeless-Savages story came out in 2000,” Jen Van Meter notes. “Fifteen years! And for every one of them, I've been so grateful for the support of Oni Press and the work of every one of the many amazing artists who've helped me bring this family to life. It took a really, really long time to write Break--largely for personal reasons; I was growing up along with the characters, and I felt a disconnect I couldn't articulate. When James Lucas Jones--doing what a great editor does--suggested I run toward that, I finally found the emotional center for this story; then Meredith McClaren came aboard and brought beautiful storytelling, great instincts about the characters, and a wonderful sense of humor, making everything I wrote a thousand times better. The icing on the cake, for me, was when Christine Norrie was able to make time to do the flashback sequences; she's been with me, Zero, Twitch and the rest of the family since the beginning, and I'm thrilled she was able to continue on this strange road trip with us.”

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Conner, Cooke, Palmiotti, Tieri return to Baltimore Con 2015

from the official press release . . . . .

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - March 16, 2015 -  Come to Baltimore's Inner Harbor for the 16th annual Baltimore Comic-Con on September 25-27, 2015 at the Baltimore Convention Center.  We are excited to welcome to our show returning guests Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Frank Tieri.

Working in the comics industry since the late 1980s, Amanda Conner got her start working for major publishers like Marvel Comics on Solo Avengers and Excalibur, and Archie Comics on Archie and The Adventures of Bayou Billy.  As her career progressed, she worked for a number of noteworthy titles at smaller comics companies, including Soulsearchers and Company for Claypool and Vengeance of Vampirella at Harris.  She has since had an extensive illustration career, both in and out of comics, and her latest industry work can be seen on DC Comics' Convergence and Convergence: Action Comics covers, and on Harley Quinn, where she is providing both art and writing (with her husband, Jimmy Palmiotti).

Last with us in 2008, Darwyn Cooke made his mark in the comics industry after working in animation such notable series as Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond.  His initial success at DC Comics on the graphic novel Batman: Ego parlayed into further work on Marvel's X-Force, Wolverine/Doop, and Spider-Man's Tangled Web. He later went on to work on such noteworthy titles as DC's Just Imagine..., Detective Comics, DC: The New Frontier, and Solo.  More recently, Cooke has been the cartoonist behind IDW's Richard Stark's Parker series of graphic novels as well as work on a number of DC's Before Watchmen series and variant covers for Action ComicsConvergence, and Harley Quinn.

Jimmy Palmiotti is renowned in the comics industry as a writer, artist, and editor.  Originally working as an inker, he has since gone on to contribute to major titles and runs at comic companies large and small.  He co-founded Event Comics in the mid-1990s, where he worked on titles such as Ash and Painkiller Jane.  He later moved to Marvel Comics, working on the launch of their Marvel Knights line with the "Guardian Devil" storyline in Daredevil.  In addition to co-writing DC Comics' Harley Quinn with his wife, Amanda Conner, he also writes their Batwing: Future's End and Star Spangled War Stories featuring G.I. Zombie (both with writing partner Justin Gray), and BOOM! Studios' Palmiotti & Brady's The Big Con Job,

Writer Frank Tieri  has established a strong voice in the comics industry, working for many publishers and injecting his unique style along with amusing references to popular culture .  He has contributed to a broad range of titles across many publishers, including Marvel's Iron Man, Captain America, Amazing Spider-Man, and Punisher: Noir, DC's Batman, Detective Comics, Hawkman, and Grifter, Dynamite Entertainment's Red Sonja: The Black Tower, and Top Cow's The Darkness.  His latest work can be found in DC Comics' Convergence: Suicide Squad, Convergence: Justice League, and Arkham Manor: Endgame, and Marvel's AXIS: Revolutions.

"It's been too long since we've seen Darwyn, and we missed Amanda and Jimmy last year ," said Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con.  "Along with Frank, this is another fantastic group of talented creators that our fans clamor for, and we're so pleased they're returning."

Oni Press prepares open submission policy for May 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: Attention Creators, Writers, Artists. Here’s a chance to make your pitch and partner with a great independent comics company . . . .

Oni press


PORTLAND, OR March 19th, 2015 - Oni Press, Portland’s premier independent comic book publisher, announced today they will begin accepting submissions and pitches in May. Under this policy all writers, artists, cartoonists, and colorists seeking to publish their work with Oni Press will be able to submit their portfolio to the Oni Press editorial team.

Oni Press will accept submissions electronically through email.  Creators whose submissions are selected for follow up will be contacted within a designated length of time. Further specific details on the process and where to submit will be released this May.

"We are on the hunt for new stories from new creators, featuring characters that reflect the diversity of the world around us," added Editor-in-Chief James Lucas Jones.  "Oni Press has always valued content and execution, and we are looking for creators and projects that can support our goal to publish excellent, varied, and original work."

About Oni Press
Oni Press has been Portland’s premier indie comic book publisher since 1997.  Home to a range of rad comics including Scott Pilgrim, The Sixth Gun, Invader Zim, Rick and Morty, Stumptown, Princess Ugg, Letter 44 and The Bunker, Oni Press strives to create comics for you.

Sunday, March 15, 2015



INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #1 (Image Comics, release date March 18, 2015) Created and written by Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko. Art by Gabriel Hardman. Colors by Jordan Boyd. Design by Dylan Todd.

Do you enjoy your space opera spiced with a little politics and revolution?  Then INVISIBLE REPUBLIC may be your escapist ticket to ride.


The year is 2843. Thanks to faster than light travel, human civilization has expanded to many planets across the galaxies.  Avalon, a small moon, has recently experienced economic collapse due to the failure of the Malory Regime to maintain power and influence. With no government services or police force, things deteriorate rapidly.  Most citizens, looking for better opportunities, opt to leave via crowded off-world transport. Commonwealth soldiers (of the Republic?) patrol the planet, mainly to ensure an orderly departure and enforce the curfew.

Croger Babb, a news reporter who apparently has seen better days, tries to question the remaining residents and gather some opinions through ‘man in the street’ interviews. While attempting conversation with a ragtag improvised food vendor, Babb spots some unusual papers being used as fuel for the tramp’s fire.  He recovers a manuscript that turns out to be a diary detailing an historic encounter forty years prior.

These handwritten pages turn out to be significant, as they provide a previously unknown background into the early days of the recently deposed dictator.  This is the set-up for future issues of INVISIBLE REPUBLIC.  The personal journal of Maia Reveron, which Croger Babb will try to market as a press exclusive, reveals some earlier times with her cousin Arthur McBride (who later became the dictator).  The diary notes with great detail (and amazing fight scenes as illustrated by Hardman) the disturbing violent tendencies of her cousin.

While reminiscent of several familiar stories of disintegrating society (BLADE RUNNER and 1984 among them, mainly for the scenes of weathered and desolate streets) I’m reminded most of the classic TRANSMETROPOLITAN Vertigo series (which also makes me very hopeful for INVISIBLE REPUBLIC’s potential).  However, with just one issue in of what looks to be an epic, it’s hard to determine if Babb is the main character or just a foil for introduction purposes.

Co-creator Gabriel Hardman calls INVISIBLE REPUBLIC a “political sci-fi conspiracy thriller” and Issue #1 provides plenty to support the first half of that description.  Along with co-creator (and wife) Corinna Bechko they paint a portrait of a despondent society in transition.

Any opportunity to view the dynamic art style of Hardman once more is a very welcome opportunity.  I’m been a fan of his work since Boom’s PLANET OF THE APES and DEATHMATCH series.

In early press releases, INVISIBLE REPUBLIC has been described as “Breaking Bad meets Blade Runner” like a Hollywood movie pitch always refers to other works.  I’m not sure that is a very accurate description, but it does get attention. Whether or not INVISIBLE REPUBLIC resembles either of those works remains to be seen. It’s too early to tell.  BLADE RUNNER at it’s root was a  speculation on artificial intelligence, posing the question  - will we be able to distinguish humans from life-like computers in the future?  As mentioned earlier in this review -  the barren, deteriorated planet in INVISIBLE REPUBLIC will remind some of the city back-drops in BLADE RUNNER.  At the root of BREAKING BAD is the story of a noble man corrupted by power, as season after season detailed his progression into darkness.  I could see how INVISIBLE REPUBLIC may follow that same path, as the found diary details the early life of the deposed dictator and may chronicle his ascension into political power and later descent into exile. 

The back pages content of INVISIBLE REPUBLIC provides a glimpse at the script and art process in progress and how they mesh, as well as profiles of all creative team members.

I would hazard a guess that comic shop initial orders were on the light side for INVISIBLE REPUBLIC. So, if you are interested and want to insure that you get a copy of Issue #1, contact your local comics store now and ask them to hold a copy for you.  Otherwise, the shelves could be empty by the time you arrive there. If you are a fan of well-developed science fiction, then I urge you to do so.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Comics now a regular feature at SXSW Festival via Comixology


EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s been three years since COMIXOLOGY launched SUBMIT, offering small independent press and self-published works via their digital platform.  That announcement occurred at South By Southwest (SXSW) the premier music, film and cultural event held every March in Austin, Texas. For their third appearncement at SXSW, COMIXOLOGY has some big offerings.  We will share that information in a separate article.

Author Duane Swierczynski visits Comic Book Shop: A lifelong interest in crime and horror in comics and literature

          Despite outward appearances and a reputation for dark and gritty crime fiction, you won’t find a nicer, more amiable person in Philadelphia than author Duane Swierczynski.  He visited The Comic Book Shop in Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday afternoon March 8 to sign copies of THE BLACK HOOD from Archie Comics as well as hardback editions of his latest crime novel CANARY. In between the signings he took time to chat with fans and readers of his works, willing to discuss a variety of topics from comics to crime novels, television shows, and the craft of writing.  He had some particularly good advice and words of wisdom to share with this aspiring fiction writer and blogger.


         THE BLACK HOOD is the flagship title in Archie’s venture into more mature markets with it’s Dark Circle imprint.  THE BLACK HOOD is definitely worthy of that honor, being the story of a Philadelphia police officer who regrets a decision that left him disfigured and also guilty of downing an innocent man.  He turns to vigilantism on the dark streets of Philadelphia.  It’s both gritty and realistic - -  and a much different take on this genre than his bloody, violent work on X for Dark Horse Comics.

        Speaking of X and his other current work in comics, Swierczynski is at a transition point.  Several of these titles are ending, and he’s hard at work on new creations.  X will wrap up with Issue #24 (due in April).  With sales tapering off, Dark Horse has decided to suspend publication of X for the time being, leaving open the possibility of a return as a limited series or several mini-series.  Swierczynski does have a new project in the works for Dark Horse, of which he’s not at liberty to discuss.

        He’s still writing JUDGE DREDD for IDW. That title will conclude at Issue #30. Swierczynski says he’s grateful that it ran as long as it did, considering many other new works don’t make their one year anniversary.  He also feels that he’s told the stories of Judge Dredd that he wanted to tell; and there might be some more work in his future with IDW.

    As for THE BLACK HOOD, the first story arc concludes in Issue #5.  The next five-issue story arc is in discussion with the editorial department at Archie Comics, although his contract does not specify a fixed number of issues and is wide open to continue indefinitely as a  monthly title.

     Finally, he’s hard at work on a creator-owned property for Fall 2015 publication. All he can share right now is that it’s a crime comic done for a known publisher who will be creating a new imprint.

   On the crime fiction side, CANARY is his ninth novel.  He’s now writing on average one novel per year. Novel #10 was just turned in to an editor - - REVOLVER – expected to debut in 2016.  



 Photo at left: Swierczynski confers with his young son, a newly promoted sales assistant as they debate some marketing plans and strategy.  The mini-muffins have served well as a magnet to draw in hungry readers.




          Swierczynski has been reading comics since childhood, with a short break. His favorite reads are crime and horror comics, which he started reading when books cost only 25 cents and could be picked up at a local newsstand.  He especially remembers one of his first prized treasures – a copy of Marvel’s WEREWOLF BY NIGHT that came in a special edition with a 45 rpm vinyl record.  He stopped reading comics after college, and came back to them in 2000. Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN got him interested in comics all over again, and a stop each Wednesday to a comic  store has become part of his weekly routine.

    He’s currently a fan of the recently released BIG MAN PLANS from Eric Powell and cites HIT by Bryce Carlson and 100 BULLETS by Brian Azzarello as among his favorite works.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Valiant stops at CBH for Ninjak, shows off The Valiant Car


      A very exclusive vehicle was parked outside the entrance to Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, Delaware yesterday.  It was all part of the celebration for the release date of NINJAK #1, which dropped into comics stores on Wednesday, March 11.

        It turned out to be a better-than-average new release Wednesday for the CBH store as well, with copies of Ninjak and other Valiant titles being picked up.  Many new readers to the Valiant line received their introduction and recommendations via Captain Blue Hen staff as well as Valiant Marketing Representative Matt Klein.

P3110066          P3110068

Above photos: Front and rear views of the customized Valiant vehicle.

P3110067Photo, far right:  Aspiring actor Mike Clarke fails his one and only audition for the BLOODSHOT movie, when it becomes easily apparent that he bears no physical resemblance whatsoever to the title character.  Better luck next time, Mike.

        Matt Klein proved to be very knowledgeable about all things Valiant, and waxed enthusiastically on the latest news. It’s been a big week for Valiant, with the earlier announcement of a large movie deal as well as the introduction of the NINJAK title and the upcoming BLOODSHOT REBORN.  Matt spoke about various news and insider information at VALIANT like the excited, giddy new employee that he is, fresh off his previous job at Forbidden Planet Comics in New York City.  So, those tidbits remain a secret between the two of us, since I have no desire to get him in any trouble with the head office for revealing news before its time.  Actually, he really didn’t share anything with me that’s newsworthy - - I’m just trying to give myself some credit here for attempting to pry it out of him.  He’s a savvy marketer.

  Some great promotional items were available during the event, from posters to $1 introductory issues, gold editions, etc.  I now have a nifty little shot glass with the Quantum And Woody logo that I’ll have to save for sipping my best Scotch (per Joe Murray’s recommendation).  The Captain Blue Hen store now has a new video that loops through all the promotional videos for new and upcoming Valiant titles.


The pick of the week for March 11, 2015 is NINJAK.  The store had an ample supply of Issue #1 in two different covers.  My favorite is the standard cover, seen on the bottom of the rack above.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Baltimore Comic Con adds Cully, Dean, Klaus, Seth for 2015

from the official press release . . . . .

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - March 11, 2015 -  The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to Baltimore's beautiful Inner Harbor on September 25-27, 2015 for their 16th annual show.  Come to the Baltimore Convention Center this fall to meet returning guests Cully Hamner, Dean Haspiel, Klaus Janson, and Seth Kushner.

One of the founding members of Gaijin Studios, Cully Hamner has worked for every major publisher in the comics industry (and many minor ones) since his debut at DC Comics in 1992, where he provided art duties on Green Lantern: Mosaic.  He later went on to make a name for himself working on DC's Blue Beetle and Black Lightning: Year One, and his comic, Red was adapted as a major motion picture.  Recently, you can find his art on Valiant's The Delinquents variant covers and DC's Convergence: The Question, as well as a Superman: Man of Steel statue design.

Emmy Award winner and Harvey and Eisner Award nominee  Dean Haspiel is a man of many talents.  In addition to major comics accomplishments like his seminal   Billy Dogma and collaborations with alt-comix legend Harvey Pekar, "Dino" has provided art for HBO's "Bored to Death", co-founded HANG DAI Editions, and was a playwright ("Switch to Kill").  He has provided art for titles such as Marvel Comics'  Fantastic FourAmazing Spider-ManX-Men: First Class , IDW's  Godzilla Legends , and Locust Moon Press'  Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream .  You can find him these days providing art on DC Comics'  Batman '66 , covers on Action Lab Entertainment's  The Stray , and plots and art on Archie Comics'  The Fox .

Klaus Janson's storied career begins back in the 1970s, when he got his first professional comics credit on Marvel's Jungle Action, and he's built a long line of comics work ever since, with noteworthy penciling or inking runs on titles such as Marvel's Defenders and Daredevil, and DC's Detective Comics and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  His artistic skills see him regularly as a penciller, inker, and colorist, and he regularly teaches courses, both publicly at venues such as the School of Visual Arts, and privately at comics publishing events and conventions.  You can find examples of his recent work on DC Comics' Superman and Convergence: Batman and Robin, and Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man.

And last but certainly not least,    Baltimore Comic-Con welcomes back comix creator and photographer  Seth Kushner .  For those of you unaware, Seth was unable to attend our 2014 show during his battle with leukemia, and we're happy to report he has recovered and will be joining us this year. Seth's entry into the world of comics came as a result of his friendship with Dean Haspiel, of whom he was taking pictures for a book on interesting people in Brooklyn.  As Dean introduced Seth to more people in comics, he became the defacto photographer for many creators, and this work led to the publication of  Leaping Tall Buildings , which profiled the comics medium using Seth's pictures of industry players.  Since then, Seth went on to become one of the contributors to Trip City, an online repository of online art, and its successor, Act-i-Vate, a webcomics collective.  Seth's Schmuck Comix and Secret Sauce Comix are being reissued by Hang Dai Editions through Alternative Comics this year.

This year's confirmed guests for the show include: Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Mark Buckingham (Fables); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (Jungle Girl); Steve Conley (Bloop); Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn); Katie Cook (Gronk); Darwyn Cooke (Richard Stark's Parker); John Gallagher (Buzzboy); Cully Hamner (Convergence: The Question); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets); Klaus Janson (Superman); JG Jones (Strange Fruit); Denis Kitchen (The Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Went Underground); Barry Kitson (Empire: Uprising); Seth Kushner (Schmuck); Mark Mariano (The Other Side of Hugless Hill); Ron Marz (Convergence: Batman and Robin); Terry Moore (Rachel Rising); Tom Palmer (The Avengers); Jimmy Palmiotti (The Con Job); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Ron Randall (Convergence: Catwoman); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Don Rosa (Donald Duck); Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo); Bart Sears (Bloodshot); Louise Simonson (Convergence: Superman - The Man of Steel); Walter Simonson (Convergence: Superman - The Man of Steel); Andy Smith (Earth 2); Charles Soule (Uncanny Inhumans); Ben Templesmith (Gotham by Midnight); Frank Tieri (Suicide Squad); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Mark Waid (Daredevil); and Thom Zahler (My Little Pony: Friends Forever).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What’s New This Wed 3/11?: NINJAK #1, release party at CBH


EDITORS’ NOTE: Captain Blue Hen Comics at 280 E. Main St., Newark Delaware (302-737-3434) will be hosting a NINJAK #1 release party with Valiant marketing staff on site from 3-8 p.m. tomorrow March 11, 2015.  As a service to our readers, we review an advance copy of NINJAK #1.  We endorse it and suggest you pick up a copy tomorrow. It’s the best version of Ninjak to date!


 NINJAK #1  (Valiant, release date March 11, 2015)  Matt Kindt, writer.  Clay Mann, pencils.  Seth Mann, inks.  Ulises Arreola, colors.  Dave Sharpe, letters.  Covers by Larosa, Mann, Reber, Johnson, Sauvage, Hairsine and Muller.  LOST FILES back-up feature: Matt Kindt, writer. Butch Guice, artist.  Ulises Arreola, colors.  Dave Sharpe, letters.       

           This book is a delightful blend of stylish cold-war era super-spy adventures, high tech weaponry, and classic ninja warfare.  It reminds me of Sean Connery JAMES BOND movies and the best version of Marvel’s SHANG-CHI MASTER OF KUNG FU- - - the stylish exciting volume from the 1970’s scripted by Doug Moench and gorgeously illustrated by Paul Gulacy.  In Valiant’s latest NINJAK #1, scripter Matt Kindt adeptly juggles those genres while artist Clay Mann dazzles with his muscular battle scenes and diagonal panel highlights.  This is first class action adventure escapism, all awaiting readers in the pages of a comic book.     


  One of the delightful benefits of reading Issue #1 of NINJAK came as a total surprise:  there are more reveals into the background and character development of Colin King (a.k.a. Ninjak) in this one issue than I remember in all of the past versions of this character - - and I’ve read them all.

           The latest version opens up in the past with panels depicting a wide-eyed school boy sitting in the front row of a movie theater matinee munching popcorn and thoroughly immersed in the ninja movie up on the screen.  The main character in the film makes a hard-boiled remark that obviously makes an impression on young King, as years later he makes the same remark during a dramatic rescue of a similarly bad-assed Russian ninja agent.  We also learn that, like Bruce Wayne and butler Alfred, young Colin King was often left in the care of the family’s manservant who may have been abusive and employed a heavy belt buckle for punishment and creating trauma.

          The main version of the story centers around  Colin King/Ninjak working for British intelligence service MI-6 and posing as a wealthy businessman looking to hire a Sumu-sized gang lord to build  some high-tech armaments. King hopes to infiltrate himself into the camp of Kannon, arms-maker-for-hire and one of the leaders of Weaponeer.  Ninjak must investigate while a guest of Kannon aNINJAK_001_001_guicend spy around to determine who the other leaders of Weaponeer may be, all under the watchful eye of Kannon’s assistant Roku, the same bad-ass Russian ninja that was broken out of jail by Ninjak earlier in the story.

            Clay Mann and Butch Guice on art in the same issue?  What a bonus!  This oversized 33 page debut issue contains a back-up feature, LOST FILES featuring further glimpses into the checkered past of Colin King/Ninjak.

   The back-up story takes place 10 years ago, when King was a new recruit on his first assignment in North Korea. The task seems simple enough, but timing has a way of complicating matters, and it does here.  Young recruit King proves to be just slightly better as a spy than he is a fighter. In summary, he has a long way to go.

Since his current debut as a guest in various other Valiant titles (Unity, X-O Manowar, etc) the modern version of Ninjak reveals him to be more skilled in weaponry, surveillance, and espionage than ever before as well as a more complex and intriguing character than previous versions. In the capable hands of Kindt, there is more great reading to look forward to.

          Kindt’s version of Ninjak is the third one in print, following the original Valiant title in the 1990’s and then the short-lived Acclaim version.  Kindt’s Ninjak is far cloNinjak II_origser to the original, although there are already several indications that he is changing things around and putting his own imprint on the character.  I doubt that he will borrow anything from the second version.  It featured strong story and art, but Acclaim changed Ninjak into a teenager who became powered by a video game and then spent his time in battle with twelve different monster bosses, all from the video game and transferring over to the real world.   The second version has a special place in history as well as my own favorite comics memories.  It featured two of my favorite creators, with Kurt Busiek on script and Neil Vokes on art.  It also debuted in 1996, the year that my son learned how to read through the magic of comics, eventually developing a vocabulary three years ahead of his age group.  Acclaim’s Ninjak was one of his favorite reads.

         The original version of Ninjak was developed by the creative team of writer Matt Moretti and artist Joe Quesada.  It quickly became one of the most popular series from the original team at Valiant.  Issue #1 featured a chromium cover and ended up selling over one million copies.

Ninjak masters

          Then as now, British playboy Colin King is Ninjak.  He possesses no super-powers, but through training he is highly skilled in various martial arts, swords and various weaponry, and has a genius level intellect that allows him to anticipate and counter move his opponents.  King grew up in the Orient, and was the son of a British master spy. When his father is killed, Colin King goes into serious training and becomes a master of the ninja arts.   I do not recall the first version containing a  manipulative and punishing manservant that Kindt alludes to in the background /history panels.

     Ninjak in the first version is a member of the Weaponeer organization and acts as their enforcer.  In the new version, Ninjak takes free lance assignments from MI-6, and one of those missions is to determine the leadership of Weaponeer by infiltrating the organization.  

I look forward to enjoying the new direction under Kindt and Mann, with great background stories by Kindt and Guice.  At 33 pages, this is a great monthly addition.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Valiant partners with DMG to produce movies, television, etc.

(New York, NY and Beijing, China, March 9, 2015) – Valiant Entertainment – the award-winning comic book publisher with a library of more than 2,000 characters, including X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, Archer & Armstrong, and more – and DMG Entertainment, the Beijing-based leader in global entertainment, today announced a new partnership to span motion pictures, television, publishing, and licensing that will culminate in the big screen debut of Valiant’s universe of characters in theaters around the world.
In conjunction with this new partnership, DMG has made an eight-figure (USD) series C round of equity investment into Valiant, which the company will use to further its efforts in international publishing, film, television, licensing and beyond. DMG has dedicated an additional nine-figures (USD) of film financing capital toward the production of theatrical films and television programs based on Valiant's library of iconic superhero characters.


In total, the new agreement is the first deal of its kind brokered between an internationally based entertainment company and a leading independent publisher of comic books and graphic novels. Utilizing DMG’s expertise in international film development, production, and distribution, Valiant will begin to establish its cinematic universe in the United States, China and beyond. Current Valiant feature films in development include the previously announced BLOODSHOT from Sony Pictures in partnership with Original Film; SHADOWMAN in partnership with the Sean Daniel Company from a script by J. Michael Straczynski; and ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, also with the Sean Daniel Company from a script by BenDavid Grabinski; among others. Valiant has also already begun development on several television projects.
The unprecedented partnership between Valiant and DMG offers both companies the ability to develop and co-produce tent-pole theatrical films for distribution and release simultaneously in the United States, China – the world’s fastest growing film market with more than $4.8 billion in box office receipts in 2014 – and the rest of the world.
“Global markets, like China, offer the greatest opportunities for monetization from merchandising, licensing, as well as revenues from film and television properties. Comic superheroes are the most lucrative and sought after IP for movie franchises, so taking a stake in the last independent massive comic universe is a strategic investment for DMG that will produce movies and TV that are both appealing and relevant to a global audience,” said DMG CEO Dan Mintz. “We are excited by the opportunity to bring these incredibly engaging characters and their stories to the big screen.”
Beyond film alone, DMG and Valiant will work in concert to form China-focused licensing partnerships for Valiant's stable of characters in areas such as Chinese language publishing, animation, online gaming, toys, apparel, live events, theme parks, and more, with a focus on bringing Valiant’s iconic heroes to new audiences in China and Asia-Pacific.
DMG Entertainment has a proven track record of introducing celebrated superheroes to the Chinese/international marketplace. In 2013, the Beijing-based studio and production company co-produced and co-financed Marvel Studios' IRON MAN 3 – the highest grossing foreign film of 2013 and sixth highest of all time in China­. DMG is currently co-producing high-octane thriller AUTOBAHN, starring Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, Felicity Jones and Nicholas Hoult; and the extreme actioner POINT BREAK, directed by Ericson Core; both films will hit screens worldwide in 2015.
"Valiant's iconic stable of intellectual property and world class management team coupled with DMG's unmatched skill with entertainment brand building in China make a formidable partnership," said Valiant Chairman Peter Cuneo. "We will look forward to introducing some of the most popular superheroes of all time to the world's fastest growing market across all media forms.”
“Audiences in China and the rest of the world are hungry for heroic stories that they can more easily relate to…and with the international box office accounting for the biggest piece of the total gross, the time is right for a truly international superhero franchise. DMG will bring its unique global perspective to the task of transforming the Valiant Universe into the first international comic-movie universe,” said DMG President Wu Bing.

WebCelebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015, Valiant is one of the most successful comic book publishing companies in the history of the medium with more than 81 million comics sold and a library of more than 2,000 distinct characters. Established by a brain trust of legendary comics creators – including former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter; seminal Iron Man writer and artist, Bob Layton; and the visionary writer and illustrator of Wolverine: Weapon X, Barry Windsor-Smith – Valiant's heroes and villains inhabit the largest independently owned superhero universe anywhere in comics. 
Re-established in 2005 as Valiant Entertainment with a best-in-class management team that includes Chairman Peter Cuneo, CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, COO & CFO Gavin Cuneo, President of Licensing, Promotions & Ad Sales Russell A. Brown, Publisher Fred Pierce and Vice Chairman Jason Kothari, the company returned to great commercial and critical success in 2012, winning a Diamond Gem Award for Publisher of the Year and numerous industry awards and accolades. To date, Valiant’s titles consistently rate among the best reviewed in comics.
"Today marks one of Valiant’s biggest milestones yet with a huge step towards bringing the Valiant characters to the big screen and forging the foundation of the first truly international cinematic universe,” said Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani. “By bringing Valiant’s biggest heroes to theaters around the world in concert with our new partners at DMG, we look forward to making Valiant not only an iconic name in comics, but global entertainment as well.”


About DMG
DMG is a global entertainment and media company with diverse international holdings across motion pictures, television, music, gaming, creative management and entertainment-themed properties, as well as offering advertising, marketing and brand communications services.  DMG Entertainment, the company’s entertainment division, makes movies and television shows, along with music promotion, licensing and merchandising, cinemas and gaming with a focus on telling stories that appeal to global audiences with operations in North America/Hollywood and Asia/China. DMG Entertainment’s films include the record-setting blockbuster IRON MAN 3, the critically acclaimed sci-fi hit LOOPER, and the techno-thriller TRANSCENDENCE; along with some of China’s highest-grossing films including NO MAN’S LAND, FOUNDING OF A REPUBLIC and GO LALA GO!. DMG Entertainment is currently working on the high-speed thriller AUTOBAHN, starring Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley and Nicholas Hoult; and Point Break, directed by Ericson Core, for release in 2015.
DMG Entertainment China [SHZ: 002143] publicly traded on the Shenzhen stock exchange.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Exploring Swierczynski: in EX-CON, crime gets colorful

EDITOR’ NOTES:  Noted comics and fiction author Duane Swierczynski will be signing both THE BLACK HOOD from Archie Comics as well as his latest novel, CANARY, at THE COMIC BOOK SHOP at 1855 Marsh Road in Wilmington, DE on Sunday, March 8 from 12-3 p.m.  I greatly enjoyed his work on BLOODSHOT and HARBINGER WARS for Valiant and those reviews can be found in our 2014 and 2013 archives. As a public service to our readers, we explore some of his later works here . . . . . . . .

EX-CON #1-5  (Dynamite Entertainment, five issue mini-series) Written by Duane Swierczynski.  Illustrated by Ken Burns.  Colored by Aikau Oliva.  Lettered by Rob Steen.


           In contrast to his work on X at Dark Horse Comics, EX-CON is a straightforward crime story.  Sure, there are some gun fights and fisticuffs and brawls.  But they seem relatively mild by comparison to the blood, brutality, mutilation, severed limbs and mayhem of X.  However, EX-CON has some steamy sex scenes suggestively illustrated by Ken Burns, who does a competent job on art.  Good crime comics don’t seem to have flashy art.  There are some exceptions of course (SIN CITY, for example) but usually story trumps art.  EX-CON is definitely about the story and there are many characters of different stripes. This seems closer to the type of crime fiction that Swierczynski specializes in.  It’s a complete story that ends in five issues.



  While a lot of Swierczynski’s fiction takes place in his hometown of Philadelphia, EX-CON is set in California - - Malibu, Venice Beach, and San Quentin Prison.  What also makes it a little different from his other crime stories is the introduction of a fantasy element.  It’s not enough to deter from the standard crime themes, though. It’s just something that is introduced and made to seem believable and somewhat realistic, and serves as a plot point. 

       Cody PExCon03-Cov-Bradstreetomeroy (fake name) is a con-man with a special gift.  He can visualize a band of colored light surrounding a person’s head like a halo.  Like a human lie detector, by reading the colors Cody can tell when a person is lying or being honest.  He can detect greed, lust, fear, and weakness depending on the color he sees.  With a very attractive girlfriend to help him find victims, he does very well for himself.  Until the day he picks an influential kingpin as his mark and gets himself arrested.

      Shortly after his arrival at San Quentin Prison, Cody gets severely beaten up by a prison gang, just another inside job by thugs for hire or working off a debt. Only by the intercession of a former kingpin (who now resides in prison) does Cody remain alive.  A consequence of his beat-down is the loss of his aura-reading ability.


        Upon his release five years later, the kingpin who saved his life calls in the debt. He wants Cody to use his special human lie detector ability to identify an arsonist (possibly an inside man) who trashes every property after a crooked property manager acquires them.  Cody hasn’t shared with anyone that he’s lost that ability, and has to resort to old-fashioned detection methods, with a little breaking and entering thrown in for good measure.  Without his abilities Cody also can’t determine which of his associates (including that former girlfriend) is being perfectly honest with him.  Because this is the ExCon05-Cov-A-Bradstreetcriminal world, there are plenty of double-crosses and side actions going on.  Even his parole officer is suspect.

Even though Cody is not the most honorable person he may be the most sympathetic of the bunch of characters moving around and manipulating behind the scenes in this story. While some of that ability returns to him, it also can let him down at crucial moments. Otherwise the story probably wouldn’t take five issues to tell.

    There’s plenty of mystery and suspense here to hold the reader’s attention, with a nice dash of mild violence and sex to spice things up.  If you enjoy crime comics or crime fiction you won’t be disappointed by EX-CON.


What’s New Next Week: NINJAK release party at CBH


Have you been reading any of the VALIANT NEXT titles?

The next one to be released is NINJAK #1, which hits comic store shelves on Wednesday, March 11.


In celebration of the occasion, CAPTAIN BLUE HEN COMICS at East Main Street, Newark Delaware will be holding a release party from 3 – 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11.

A representative (Matthew W) from Valiant Comics will be at the store, arriving in the must-see Valiant car, loaded up with posters, gold books, dollar debuts, shot glasses and copies of IVAR TIMEWALKER #1, NINJAK #1 and Volume 1 TradeNINJAK_001_COVER-A_LAROSA Paperbacks.

Here are the book details:

NINJAK #1 [VALIANT NEXT]             
Written by MATT KINDT
Cover A by LEWIS LAROSA (JAN151636)
Cover B by CLAY MANN (JAN151637)
Cover C by DAVE JOHNSON (JAN151638)
Blank Cover Also Available (JAN151640)
Valiant Next Variant by TREVOR HAIRSINE & TOM MULLER (JAN151641)
Character Design Variant by CLAY MANN (JAN151642)
B&W Sketch Variant by LEWIS LAROSA (JAN151643)

For the first time, Ninjak’s past and future collide in the pages of an all-new ongoing series from New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (RAI, Mind MGMT) and superstar artists Clay Mann (X-Men: Legacy, Gambit) and Butch Guice (Captain America, Action Comics)!


Then: Meet inexperienced MI-6 recruit Colin King on his first mission in the field as he learns the basics of spycraft and counterintelligence, and develops a volatile relationship with his first handler.


Now: Colin King is Ninjak, the world’s foremost intelligence operative, weapons expert, and master assassin. And he’s hunting the Shadow Seven – a secret cabal of shinobi masters with mysterious ties to his training and tragic past.

$3.99 | 40 pages. | T+ | On sale MARCH 11