January 21, 2019

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Review: Wasted Space 6 | The Boys & Bots Are Back...


WASTED SPACE #6
Written by Michael Moreci
Art by Hayden Sherman
Colors by Jason Wordie
Lettering by Jim Campbell

The space saga is back folks, and it couldn't have returned with more appropriate timing. Just when real life continues to get more and more convoluted and frustrating, Moreci and company return to illustrate commentary on a version of our path toward a science fiction monstrosity. We previously left our team of Wasted Space protagonists, led by Billy Bane the distraught ex-voice of The Creator, having just uncovered meaning to the Alpha and Omega as they came face to face with Legion, the deity craving destruction of The Creator. It was a wild ending to an already wicked good time.

I was an easy sell on this book when it was first announced. My ability to zero in on Hayden Sherman illustrations has been none to be reckoned with ever sense his stroke of gritty wit graced the pages of Sean Lewis' The Few a couple years back. Wasted Space is Sherman's first book with Vault Comics, and me being new to the crowd exposed to that heady comic publication, I was soon to be added as self-proclaimed street team member talking up its comics to anyone who would listen. Sherman's sketchy lines and creative character design bring the largest of story's to life, and that is exactly what is done here with Michael Moreci's Wasted Space. A story so large, yet so detailed with clever dialogue, that it gives our cast of characters plenty of room to explore and tell the story being told.

Writer Michael Moreci has put together one hell of a clever story as he comments on modern culture in a subtle, and often crude stylistic approach. It is a story of religion. It is a story of conformity. It is a story of political power and those with which that have it as they manipulate the space around them. Moreci is posing questions that challenge blind faith and structured politics in such ways that are designed for good but result in nothing more than ill-intended suppression. On a macro level this comic is a space story very much in vein with what a more authentic take of the original Star Wars would feel like if told today (fight me, nerds). On a micro level this is a study of who God is and why. Wasted Space issues 1 through 5 gave us introduction to the characters and what purpose they serve. We found certain empathic purpose for Billy Bane, a fraud-prophet turned space junkie, whose every trans-galactic purchase is funded by Dust, his *clears throat* Fuq-Bot sidekick who's profession is literally to whore himself out for nothing short of a modest profit. Yes, this is the Han Solo and Chewbacca we always knew we deserved but never thought we wanted.

Wasted Space #6 page 6. Published by Vault.

This next week Wasted Space is back! It is back with a solid punch to the crotch and a nod to the enlightened. The Legion led deity resistance to The Creator heats up and suggests we are in for a solidly introspective look at the purposes of freewill in respect to good versus evil. After reading issue 6 it becomes more apparent that we are in the midst of a larger, and denser read. It suddenly is paced perfectly as any ongoing comic should. With this being the first issue written since it was announced to be Vault's first ongoing series there is no surprise that it comes to read in this way. New characters emerge as familiar ones embark on the journey set forth suggested on the final page of issue 5. No disappointment is had with the progression of plot, but what comes as the surprise is the addition of added and deepened themes that were otherwise only hinted at prior to this issue. The first volume read as a safe offering of these ideas and now, knowing the commitment to longevity, the pacing feels more intentional and relaxed. All set forth by it's creative team telling this mini space epic. Each interaction packs well thought out purpose and I'm in it to the end.

Wasted Space #6 page 1 Published by Vault.

I have a lot of respect for this book, and my hope is that Wasted Space gets the exposure it deserves; with more issues like this one I am sure that it will. It seems that it may be on the heels of larger successes unlike any other Vault book thus far. Judging by the several copies of Volume 1 at my local Barnes & Noble I'd assume this were to be true, because we all know that those shelves are typically reserved for trades of the Big 2 (Marvel or DC) and Image. That being said, this is a fun read and I'll be damned if I don't help promote the hell out of it. The sixth issue of Wasted Space gets a strong 9/10 from me. It wastes no time in jumping back into the story all while adding new pieces to the puzzle. I'm excited to see where this comic takes us.

Moreci & Sherman & Co., you've managed to make it to my pull list. Who am I but just another fan with enough disposable income to spare for a few comics monthly?
Here, take my money.. cheers!

- @argyleeater

January 16, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop January 16th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:

Deadly Class #36 by Rick Remender, Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd, published by Image Comics
Great series. This is the start of a new arc and it's worth your time to go back to the very beginning. Fantastically engaging story about students at a high school for assassins in the 1980's. You've probably seen the pilot or at least promos for the pilot.  I'm sure it's good, but the TV show doesn't include the next level art from Wes Craig. Seriously, his work is bonkers. Paired with fantastic colors from Jordan Boyd?  This is an amazing-looking comic with a punk ethos, and it also happens to be a searing portrayal of alienation and depression, along with bonkers action and humor.

Black Badge #6 by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins and Hilary Jenkins, published by Boom! Studios 
A small group of Boy Scouts actually function as spies! It's such a great hook, and thus far the book has been terrific. I just recent read the conclusion of Grass Kings, and am reading this book, and I feel like the Kindt/Jenkins pairing is a really strong one. Jenkins' art style isn't identical to Kindt's but you can see why they would work so well together. This story is just getting started, and it feels like there's going to be a much bigger mythology to explore.

Fantastic Four #6 by Dan Slott and Aaron Kuder, published by Marvel Comics
I love the Fantastic Four. I wasn't so crazy about the first arc of this book, as it felt like a bumpy way to start the series back up. But the wedding of Ben and Alicia was very sweet, and now we're going into a Doom/Glactus story, which makes it feel like this is really the proper start of the series. The real F4 is back, ready to take on big challenges and mysteries. I still don't 100% have a feel for this book, but I'm excited to see where this goes, particularly with talented artist Aaron Kuder now involved.

Black Widow #1 by Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska and Flaviano, published by Marvel Comics
I'm not familiar with the Soska sisters, but I understand they're horror movie directors and producers. So I'm, more than anything, just really curious as to what sort of take they'll bring to the character of Black Widow. I'm also glad to see the character written by women, which (I believe) hasn't been the case for a while.  She's a great character, who's been through a lot, having recently been dead and all. So, we'll see. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Gideon Falls #10 by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart, published by Image Comics
One of my favorite books of last year. This is creepy, unsettling, existential horror with religious overtones. The sense of dread and freaky vibe is palpable in this story. I don't totally know what's going on, and I love it. Sorrentino and Stewart are combining for some next-level art. If you're looking for a scary, thoughtful read, this is the book.

Mike's Picks:

Albert Einstein: Time Mason # 4 by Marcus Perry and Tony Donley, published by Action Lab Entertainment
Action Lab has had a string of fun, pulpish adventure series. This series is a quirky romp, and a throwback to a different mode of storytelling. Donley's art is absolutely impressive, existing in a special pocket that is part Jack Kirby and part Roy Lichenstein with a nod to Chris Mooneyham.

Goddess Mode ?#2 by Zoe Quinn, Robbi Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi, published by DC Vertigo
Goddess Mode is one of my series to watch in 2019. After an incredibly strong debut issue, Goddess Mode looks to continue and extend the welcomed trend of brighter cyberpunk series thanks both to Robbi Rodriguez's sharp lines and Rico Renzi's neon color pallette.

Invaders # 1 by Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno, and Butch Guice, published by Marvel Comics
If you're like me, there are always going to be a few characters for whom you will purchase any book that features them, regardless of context or creative team. Namor is one of those characters. And while the King of Atlantis himself is enough to warrant the purchase, I'm particularly excited for Zdarsky's Imperius Rex dialogue.

Shade: The Changing Woman TPB by Cecil Castelucci, Marley Zarcone, Becky Cloonan, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Saida Temofonte, published by DC/Young Animal
Yes, fine, this collection did arrive last week, but, in my haste, I completely missed. And I'm remiss, because it caps one of the most enjoyable runs of an absolutely near-perfect series. And, to be fair, it does arrive in bookstores this week, so if you're that type of tradewaiter, or you're just living under a rock like me, technically it's a new release this week. Simply put., Zarcone and Fitzpatrick combine for an otherworldly psychedelic adventure that captures an inventive, touching, and poignant story by Cecil Castelucci. It's a story of second chances and new worlds, and it's an absolute master class in graphic storytelling.

Sean's Picks:

Appalachian Apocalypse #1 by Billy Tucci, Ethan Nicolle, and others, published by  Cave Pictures Publishing
It’s the start of a new year and with it we have a new comic publisher joining the club. This week they are having their first release, Apalachian Apocalypse, and it is fantastic. It’s part zombie apocalypse, part 19th century North vs South USA, and part situational comedy with teens Caleb and George steering the hunt. It is still very early for much to be known of this story, and the amount of ripe momentum coming from being the new publisher on the block will help signify this as a top contender at the shop this week. I have a lot of cards in the game for this one. It feels like a small piece to a large story that could be around for awhile. Fans of Walking Dead, Farmhand, and early Matt Kindt comics should take notice to Apalachian Apocalypse, as will I.

Black Badge #6 by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins, and Hillary Jenkins, published by BOOM! Studios
Speaking of Matt Kindt, he has an ongoing comic with BOOM! and it is one of my current favorite monthly’s to read while waking up with a coffee on a Saturday afternoon. If you’ve been following along with this story, you are aware of the basic premise and the often skittish competitive nature of things. This issue sees us with new surroundings and new oaths of honor to achieve. This is a fun book. I enjoy the art, Tyler Jenkins has a strong depiction of life in his illustrations that are so poetically organic it is difficult to look away (or easy to get lost in, depending on if you’re a glass is half empty or half full kinda person). Don’t skip this one.. it’s a killer good time.


Go-Bots #3 by Tom Scioli, published by IDW Publishing
Cy-Kill, Scooter, Leader-1, as well as panels and pages of other Go-Bots are here to challenge our every meaning to exist in this inventive new depiction of a classic. I grew up rebelling the fancy Transformers and all the excitement that Optimus Prime seemed to kindle up with my friends. I was the kid that opted for more obscure (and reasonably priced) transforming bots, the Tonka inspired Go-Bots franchise. It was fun, my friend down the street had a metallic StarScream and I had a plastic Leader-1. Fast forward and it’s twenty nineteen, I’m nearly forty and Tom Scioli is scripting, lettering, and illustrating a Go-Bots comic full of witty one-liners and nostalgic imagery; enough to keep me coming back month after month. Now three issues in, Tom Scioli’s art is a breath of retro fresh air.


Venom #10 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, and others, published by Marvel Comics
Last week we had Ryan Stegman’s Web of Venom: Venom Unleashed, and the week of Thanksgiving we had Donny Cates’ Web of Venom: Carnage Born. The first arc of Donny Cates’ Venom main story can be categorically described as a dense prologue to what is beginning to read as a stripped down retelling of the Eddie Brock character. I am so on board with this approach to the Venom story and I am completely enjoying the depth we are going into with the character. Last month Eddie Brock return to San Francisco with his mute and futile symbiote at his side with the intent to confront his father and face his personal demons. What we discovered was something (or… someone) no one saw coming.. a half brother?! Cates is at his best when he writes about interpersonal turmoil and loss of loved ones. Case in point is the stunningly simple, while gorgeously perfect, God Country. Venom #9 was a beautiful set up to a new chapter of Venom that we have yet to witness, one of complete solitude and personal reflection. Stegman’s Unleashed chapter, and Cates’ Carnage rendition was what feels to be a small step toward a larger story telling goal. In the meantime it is apparent that we are about to be taken on a journey of self discovery and (maybe) loss while the buildup simmers in the abyss.

January 14, 2019

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"Because It's Next" - The Creator's Dilemma in Self/Made # 2

Written by Mat Groom
Line Art by Eduardo Ferigato
Color Art by Marcelo Costa
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Image 


The second issue of Self/Made hit the stands this week. Only two issues in, this book has proven that it can tackle large philosophical concepts without sacrificing any degree of narrative flow. This series is dark and intense, but it doesn't feel depressing or morbid, mostly thanks to Mat Groom's punchy dialogue and an art team that understands the sweet spot tone of this book. Ferigato and Costa combine to create a world that effectively uses stark contrasts to mimic the landscape of a near future proto-dystopia

January 10, 2019

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Waiting for the Moment- a review of Garth Ennis, Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s Sara


Let’s just get this out of the way immediately— Garth Ennis loves his war stories.  

Working with Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser, Ennis’ Sara doesn’t have the tough guy texture of a typical Ennis story, but if anything, Ennis is a far more versatile writer than he gets credit for.  When you look at some of Ennis’ more popular work, Sara lacks some of the self-loathing that shows up in Preacher, Punisher or his Nick Fury stories. Maybe that’s mostly due to Epting’s classical realism, with his line work resembling a cross of Milton Caniff and Al Williamson, that doesn’t allow any part of this book to be ugly either physically or even soulfully.  But even the story, the tale of a female Russian sniper in World War II, reads as something different for Ennis. This writer/artist/colorist collaboration has created a comic that melds each of their talents and tastes to produce a stoic, cold and efficient story about how wars change the people who have fight in them.

So while this is a story set in the snowy fields of Russia during World War II, Sara may not be an actual war story.  The character Sara is a product of her Russia as Ennis’s best stories are not about the wars but about the ways that the struggles of war and fighting transform the non-soldiers who are conscripted to fight enemies who remain largely faceless and nameless.  All we know about Sara before this story is that she was a college student before war came to Russia. Now she’s a killer of Nazis, a ruthless and efficient killer. Ennis and Epting focus on the stories’ present and not its past but they do give enough glimpses of the formation of Sara into the soldier that she is.  


Employing a cinematic clarity, Epting and Breitweiser create a stoic, cold environment which perfectly matches the stoic, cold story being told.  Epting’s concise storytelling has a job to do and it gets it done with the same professional attitude as Sara wielding her rifle; this is a job that demands the best of its professionals.  Epting’s characters are true actors on each and every page. He tells each person’s story through their body language, whether they’re a scared Russian girl or a shocked German, reacting the the guns and violence around them.

Epting’s realism also gives him and Breitweiser the ability to create the environment of this story.  They allow it to act as another force, working for and against Sara and her team. The cold, snowy, Russian front depicted here reflects Ennis’ characters.  They’re tough, isolated, and focused. Ennis and Epting build a past around Sara that is everything to the character as it gives a fiery soul to the story. In the book, there’s a structural conflict between the frozen environment of Russia and the revealed source of Sara’s anger towards the world around her.  Sara is the only one who knows what her and her comrades are fighting against. For as evil as the Nazis are, Sara recognizes the blood that’s on her countrymen’s hands as well as the blood that’s on the German’s hands. This frontier isn’t the place for innocents and children. The warriors like Sara have to be as icy as their environment, without letting the chaos of the fighting distract them.

A college student before the Germans invaded Russia, Sara is a now a killer- a ruthless and efficient killer.  Epting shows in her eyes that she constantly is aware of who and what she is. Unlike some of the others that she’s fighting alongside, she is not idealistic or even patriotic.  As they flash back to the past, Ennis and Epting reveal the events that have made Sara the professional that she is. She’s not a fanatic or a believer. If anything, she ends up being quite the opposite. Some war stories are propaganda, even decades after the real battles took place.  Ennis isn’t interested in war as an expression national pride or prowess. He explores how it eats away at people, stripping them of who they were or revealing them for who they truly are.

War made Sara the sniper that she is in this story.  When Ennis is at his best, he allows actions to define his character and in some ways this comic is all about the action.  Epting’s straightforward artwork makes Sara’s cold emotion concrete and rigid, like the character herself. Combined with Ennis’ lean dialogue, Epting’s artwork helps define the frozen nature of all involved, creating a book that feels as chilly as its characters.  Reading Sara, we may be waiting for some glimpse of warmth but even the warmer moments are tinged with a bone chilling cold that reminds us of the bloody Russian fields.

So, yes, Garth Ennis loves his war stories even as he hates what war turns us into.  Even the classically traditional artwork of Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser cannot disguise the corruptive effects of war on the human soul.  Sara should still be a college student somewhere, studying something like economics, art history, or political science. She should know anything other than how to sit in a tree waiting for just the right moment in time to kill a Nazi.  Sara is a war story that shows the cost of war on the human soul.

Sara
Written by Garth Ennis
Drawn by Steve Epting
Colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser
Lettered by Rob Steen
Published by TKO Studiovs

January 8, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop January 9th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:

House Amok #4 by Christopher Sebela and Shawn McManus, published by IDW/Black Crown
Go back and read this book from the beginning. It's SO weird! I love it. Chris Sebela had a fantastic 2018 and I'm sure that he'll continue to write terrific books in 2019. House Amok is a wonderfully messed-up story about a family that's suffering from a mass delusion and doing terrible things as a result, when one of the family members stops suffering from the delusion and begins to see the world as it is. Great premise, great book. I highly recommend it.

Criminal #1 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, published by Image Comics
I'm thrilled that Criminal is coming back as a monthly book. If you've never read Criminal before, you really ned to go out and do that now. It's a sprawling series of stories set over the course of many years, involving an wide but related set of characters. It's crime-noir at its very best. Sean Phillips is an incredible, grounded artist and a fantastic storyteller. This is a wonderful series and terrific exploration of the grimy side of life.

Captain Marvel #1 by Kelly Thompson, Carmen Carnero and Tamra Bonvillain, published by Marvel Comics
Captain Marvel is a terrific character, but recent writers have not always done so well by her (looking at you Bendis, and Civil War II). But she's a fun, engaging character and a terrific hero, and I'm happy to try out a new book for her. Particularly with the movie coming out in a few months, I'm excited to see what the creative team here does. I wasn't familiar with the artist but I looked at some preview pages and this book looks GREAT.  And I absolutely love Kelly Thompson's work; Her Hawkeye book was one of my favorite books of the year, and I'm also enjoying West Coast Avengers and have enjoyed many other books she's written.


Cemetery Beach #5 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, published by Image Comics
This book has, thus far, been one big crazy action sequwnce and I'm totally digging it.  There's a guy who's been captured trying to infiltrate a rogue human colony that was established almost a century earlier. Humanity has gone in some weird directions in this colony. It's a good story, and Jason Howard is an incredible artist.  I think you can wait until this is collected in trade, but I definitely recommend it.

Mike's Picks:

Laguardia 2 by Nnedi Okorafor, Tana Ford, James Devlin, and Sal Ciprlano, published by Dark Horse/Berger Books
There’s a lot going on in Laguardia, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Okorafor’s apt use of science fiction and African Futurist motifs coupled with Ford’s intricate, heavily inked art creates a beautiful, exaggerated world that’s part bio-punk, part fable fantasy, and all social commentary.

Turok 1 by Ron Marz, Roberto Castro, Salvatore Aiala, and Troy Peteri, published by Dynamite Entertainment
I’ll make no claims that I understand that various Gold Key relaunches since Dynamite acquired the license, but every iteration has been well done. Dynamite handles their properties well, and Ron Marz has proven he can inherit and extend older characters well through his work in Dynamite’s John Carter universe. Aiala’s artwork is also a great suite for such a book. He channels a good amount of pulp influence while still maintaining a modern feel.

Archie Meets Batman ‘66 #6 by Jeff Parker, Michael Moreci, Dan Parent, J. Bone, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jack Morelli, published by DC Comics/Archie Comics
This entire mini-series has treated us to silver age nostalgia of the highest caliber. The mix of artists, and the nods to various styles has helped to set this series apart from even the other well-done Batman ‘66 iterations. This issue wraps up an incredibly fun series, and a caper worth of Adam West himself.

Young Justice # 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Patrick Gleason, published by DC Comics
Young Justice represents the first item from Bendis’s new Wonder Comics pop-up imprint. Bendis has a knack for the character dynamic of a large team book, and I’m excited to see Pat Gleason get into the mix with a new set of characters, drawing his first team book since Green Lantern Corps. Bendis and Gleason’s initial Action Comics arc demonstrated the pair can make a strong tandem.

Kirk's Picks:


Die #2 by Stephanie Hans and Kieron Gillen, published by Image Comics
I would never want to sit at any RPG table that Kieron Gillen is DMing. He’s sadistic and has already set the precedent that he’s going to run these new characters he’s created through the grinder in this story if their own adult life choices don’t do them in first. Die is the story 5 adults summoned back to a cursed role-playing game from their youth that kept them from the real world for 2 years and it showcases once again how prolific Gillen is at creating fully realized and nuanced fantasy worlds, and more importantly the rules that govern them. The real treat is Stephanie’s interiors. Largely known as an illustrator for covers, her art is lush and hints at an unseen turmoil. You don’t have to be familiar with role-playing games or the genre, but this series will make you a fan right away.

 
Murder Falcon #4 by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer, published by Image Comics
Daniel could draw the annotated history of the lead pencil and I would still be compelled to pick it up. Easily one of the most exciting artists in comics at the moment (Check out his Instagram! @danielwarrenart). The follow up to his brutal fantasy epic Extremity, Murder Falcon is his love letter to all things Metal. A guitar-shredding virtuoso on a mission to find the enchanted rock instruments with his friends to get their band back together and fight the demonic kaiju of Magnum Khaos as they bleed their way into our reality to feed on our fears and doubt! It comes complete with a a drum kit with rockets that flies and a bass that summons a wooly mammoth avatar. It’s every fight scene from Scott Pilgrim on DMT. It’s also the most earnest lesson about forgiveness and believing in yourself that you need to read.

House Amok #4 by Christopher Sebela and Shawn McManus, published by Black Crown/IDW
2018 was a marquee year for Sebela. Titles like Crowded and Shanghai Red kept him on many Best Of lists at the end of the year and it’s great to see Black Crown give his voice a home with this story. if you have been reading any of the other titles from Black Crown (and you should be), the unreliable narrator tone of House Amok is right on brand with this publishing imprint from IDW. Bogeymen that can’t be unseen, organ theft, and urban legends chase a young girl, her twin sister, and the rest of their family on road trip ripe with high crime across the country. Chris’ talent for lulling readers to a safe place before unleashing anxiety-inducing levels of tension are in full effect within these pages. Though the story has been great so far at keeping me guessing whether the events are real or not, I didn’t expect to question if I want them to be.

January 7, 2019

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Giant Days 46 - A Slice of Neo-Noir


Giant Days 46: “Three words: Mandatory spandex cosplay.”
Writer: John Allison  
Line Artist: Max Sarin  
Color Artist: Jeremy Lawson 
Letterer: Jim Campbell 

“Esther could be smart if she tried, but this wasn’t one of her trying months.” 

Nefarious deeds plague the Danger Nebula. A shoplifter has started to frequent the crew’s beloved store. It’s a criminal mastermind that only  . . . wait Susan? . . . ok . . . we’re sure about that? 
It’s a caper only a hard-edged private eye like Susan can solve. Still feels weird.  

January 4, 2019

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The Throwback Nature of Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar’s Conan The Barbarian #1

This comic is a throwback to nearly every other Conan comic in existence (and there are a lot of them.)  Yet sometimes a comic about muscles, swords, blood and decapitations are all you really want. When that is what you want, there are Conan comics. “... Black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand… A thief, a reaver, a slayer… With gigantic melancholia and gigantic mirth…”. That’s the introduction to the character that Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson’s Conan The Barbarian #1 gives us, text superimposed over classic drawings by Barry Windsor Smith, John Buscema and others, lifted from old Marvel Conan comics.  This brief primer is just about everything you need to know about one of Robert E. Howard’s best known creations. For a man who will be on a journey from warrior to king over his lifetime, Aaron, Asrar and Wilson’s imagining of Conan begins with the simple basics; he’s a man who can cut off another warrior’s head with one swing of his sword.

January 3, 2019

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Rob's Favorite Comics of 2018: The Final 29!

I keep talking about how good 2018 was for comics. I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago that I think this was the hardest year I've ever had in terms of making my final picks. Just so much good work out there--so much that I had to share my short list in addition to this one for the first time. (I think I'll do that every year now--it was a lot of fun!)

You'll notice this year that instead of several genre-based (sort of) lists, I've gone to one combined list. More and more, genre lines are blurring, and I never did like my "indie" or "all the rest" or whatever I used for the books that didn't quite fit. So after working different forms of list, and checking them all twice, I finally decided, "Ah, screw it!" and here we are, one big old list full of superheroes, super-creepy horror, super pseudo-science, and super affirmations. It's got work from two of the biggest publishers and a pick from one of the smallest (but best) publishers I know. You'll find a great allegory for the elimination of Native American culture by effective child theft alongside a story set within the all-too-real world of Portland's deadly underground tunnels. Heck, there's even a reprinted series that was a throwback to EC horror-style stories right next to a comic that makes fun of the many EC knock-offs! My list is a complex mesh of the multi-faceted world of comics right now, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

January 2, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop January 2nd, 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Neil's Pick:




Jim Henson's The Power of the Dark Crystal Vol 1 by Simon Spurrier, Kelly and Nicole Matthews published by BOOM! Studios
Back in 1982 when I was a mere 7 year old, my parents took me to see The Dark Crystal at the cinema. Never had a movie equally filled me with such wonder and horror, which to this day, still gives me the chills. Thankfully Si Spurrier takes us back to the world of Thra with an official sequel to the much beloved movie. Having held off picking this title up, I look forward to delving into the trade and seeing if Spurrier gave the 35th Anniversary of The Dark Crystal's release (now I feel old) a fitting continuation.

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Rob's Favorite Comics of 2018 Part 1: The Runners-Up

Welcome to the hardest column for me to write every year, my favorites list! In past years, I've written multiple lists. This year, I've pared it down to one, longer column. Why?

Well, the truth is, the old ways I did it never quite felt right to me. Whether it was by the way I read the comic, the comic's genre (sometimes hard to pin down, or imperfectly classified), or some other system, I always struggled.

I'm still struggling, but this year, I'm trying out something new. I read a ton of comics each year, both from the current year and years past. (I'm catching up on Rebirth here and there, for example.) Where I struggle is "How many make a favorites list?" --and the answer is, I've never been quite sure.

So this time, I'm going to use numbers. I like numbers. I work in numbers at my job. I'm estimating that I read about 250 various comics that were published (or collected) in 2018. That's about right for me (2017 was a bad year, and y'all know why). As I always do, I made a long list, which was about 90 or so all told this year.

I then cut that list to 50, which is around 20% of what I read. That's my short list. And while I'm not sharing that list in full, I can tell you there were some really hard calls. I hated cutting The Seeds, Valiant High, Laid-Back Camp, and Survive 300,000,000, just to name a few. Everything that makes it onto my long list is a great comic, in my opinion, or I don't even bother considering it. 

For my favorites, I worked hard to cut it down from 50 to about 25. I figure that's about right--without pushing too hard (it could be 22, it could be 29), that's about where I want to be for these favorites to mean something. That means to make my end of year favorites, you had to be one of the best 10% of comics I read this year. Given the volume of comics I read, that's pretty hard to do!

These comics were all really good. I enjoyed them a lot. They are some of the best comics 2018 has to offer in my opinion. They weren't the comics I liked the best, but I'd happily re-read or recommend them. My reason for listing them is to give recognition to some awesome comics, without making a favorites list that's insanely long.

Without further ado, here's my 2018 Favorites List Runners-Up:
  • All the Answers by Michael Kupperman, published by Simon & Schuster
  • Black Badge by Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins, Hilary Jenkins, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom! Studios
  • Brother Nash by Brigit Connell, published by Titan
  • By Night by John Allison, Christine Larsen, Sarah Stern, and Jim Campbell, published by Boom! Studios
  • Cold War by Chris Sebela and Hayden Sherman, published by Aftershock
  • Crowded by Chris Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Farrell, and Cardinal Rae, published by Image
  • Dodge City by Josh Trujillo, Cara McGee, Brittany Peer and Goncalo Lopez, published by Boom! Studios
  • Dumb by Georgia Webber, published by Fantagraphics
  • Elvira by David Avallone, Dave Acosta, Andrew Covalt, and Taylor Esposito, published by Dynamite
  • Goosebumps Download and Die by Jen Vaughn, Michelle Wong, Triona Farrell, and Christa Miesner, published by IDW
  • Ice Cream Man by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O'Halloran, and Good Old Neon, published by Image
  • Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia by Matt Entin, Ed Kuehnel, Dan Schkade, Marissa Louise, and A Larger World Studio, published by Starburns Industry
  • James Bond: Origins by Jeff Parker, Bob Q, and Simon Bowland, published by Dynamite
  • Lil Donnie by Mike Norton, published by Image
  • Man-Eaters by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Joe Caramagna, published by Image
  • Maxwell's Demons by Deniz Camp, Vittorio Astone, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Vault
  • Nancy Drew by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St-Onge, Triona Farrell, and Ariana Maher, published by Dynamite
  • Olivia Twist by Darin Strauss, Adam Dalva, Emma Vieceli, Lee Loughridge and Sal Cipriano, published by Dark Horse
  • Secret Voice by Zack Soto, published by Floating World
  • Shadowman by Andy Diggle, Various Artists, and Simon Bowland, published by Valiant
  • Water Dragon's Bride by Rei Toma, published by Viz
Tomorrow, I'll reveal my list of favorites, with a little bit about each one. See you then, and thanks to all of the creators above for making some amazing comics that I enjoyed tremendously in 2018. You are the reason I keep reading comics, year in and year out.

December 31, 2018

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Mike's Favorite Comics of 2018

20. The Dreaming
Simon Spurrier – Writer
Bilquis Evely – Line Artist
Mat Lopes – Color Artist

The Dreaming has been the strongest of the newly launched Sandman universe books, and it’s no surprise considering its superb team. Si Spurrier is a great choice to helm this title because he’s established himself as the kind of writer who handles complex characterizations with the necessary layered approach. He’s also shown that he can embrace character legacy while still providing a new perspective. Bilquis Evely is one of my favorite artists working today. I adore her detailed yet surreal lines and her use of shadows emanating from her characters. I also appreciate that Mat Lopes generally keeps the color scheme light. It would be too easy to make this book dark, but this book is expressive and vibrant.

December 28, 2018

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Neil's favourite Comic reads of 2018

2018 became the year that indie comics dominated my pull list. But much like 2017, my pull list took an enormous hit due to financial circumstances (we haven’t even had Brexit yet!). First to succumb were numerous Marvel titles. I have nothing against Marvel but I have fallen out of love with ongoings (if this is even still a thing) and tie-ins. Preferring today to settle down with a select batch of indies. 5 - 6 issue runs are perfect for me but this may also change in the near future. Currently deciding if next year I will move to trades. My only argument against is do I have the patience to wait when all around me are praising new stories.

That being said I do have an enormous backlog of digital trades to get through. Which in turn could lead to me reviewing trades that have been out for some time. Retro reviews are a distinct possibility for my future on Panel Patter.

Below you will find a brief but I hope interesting take on my favourite reads of 2018. Indie heavy but gives a pretty good view on what genres I am all about.

10. Venom


Written by Donny Cates
Artwork by Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin
Published by Marvel Comics

Being a huge fan of Cates indie work I knew Venom/Eddie Brock was in safe hands. Creating a new origin for the symbiotes, Cates crafted a highly charged, moving and gripping story. One that saw Eddie and Venom's relationship brought closer than ever. Stunning detailed artwork by Ryan Stegman truly added to this book. One single page alone sees Venom standing above a bruised and battered Miles Morales (Yep, Miles has a brief yet excellent cameo), shows the pure horror in Miles' eye. It's the tiniest of details but it really sets the scene. Easily one of the best Marvel books out this year.

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Sean’s Favorite Ongoing Comics: 2018


So here it is- my final installment of my favorite things of twenty eighteen. I won’t drift too much from the point and simply carry on with what you’re here for: the list.
Cheers 🍻 

10 | The Amazing Spider-Man 




Story by Dan Slott & Nick Spencer
Art by Humberto Ramos & Ryan Ottley
Published by Marvel

December 27, 2018

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Sean’s Favorite First Issues: 2018


Now starts the beginning of the last month of the year, which also kickstarts my annual excursion for looking back on things that made the year less shitty.

We all have routines and schedules that get in the way of happiness, and we also have friends and family that assist in moving the pendulum back toward the positive when moments sway too heavy.

An added necessity to individual circumstance is to supplement your life with the participation or consumption of something extracurricular. These days, though I still dabble heavily in music, I have found myself knee deep in comic art and storytelling. Some of these books are better than most of what’s on the TV, and more than just me should be paying attention.

Allow me to indulge in listing what I thought were the top ten first issues of comics from the vast amount of comics that were released this year.

Cheers 🍻

10 | Bitter Root #1

Written by Chuck Brown
Illustrated by David F. Walker
Published by Image Comics

9 | Hot-Lunch Special #1

Written by Eliot Rahal
Illustrated by Jorge Fornés
Published by Aftershock


8 | Man-Eaters #1

Written by Chelsea Cain
Illustrated by Kate Niemczyk
Published by Image Comics


7 | Friendo #1

Written by Alex Paknadel
illustrated by Martin Simmonds
Published by Vault


6 | Moth & Whisper #1

Written by Ted Anderson
Illustrated by Jen Hickman
Published by Aftershock


5 | Farmhand #1

Written & Illustrated by Rob Guillory
Published by Image Comics



4 | Fearscape #1

Written by Ryan O’Sullivan
Illustrated by Andrea Mutti
Published by Vault

3 | Punks Not Dead #1

Written by David Barnett
Illustrated by Martin Simmonds
Published by Black Crown IDW



2 | Crowded #1
Written by Christopher Sebela
Illustrated by Ro Stein & Ted Brandt & Co.
Published by Image Comics



1 | Murder Falcon #1

Written by Daniel Warren Johnson
Illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson & Mike Spicer
Published by Image Comics