December 5, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop December 5th, 2018

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..

Rob's Picks:

Grumble #1 by Rafer Roberts, Mike Norton, Marissa Louise, and co, published by Albatross 
A con man turned into a dog and his (literally) demonic daughter are on the run and might destroy the world in the process. If that premise doesn't catch your attention, I don't know what will. Panel Pal Rafer Roberts (Archer and Armstrong) is perfect at comedic comics and magical work, and teamed with Norton and Louise's amazing art skills, expect plenty of pugs and purple. This may be hard to find, but will be well worth checking out.

Merry Men TP  by Robert Rodi, Jackie Lewis, Marissa Louise, and co, published by Oni Press
Robin Hood, former lover of King Richard, just wants to live in the small community he's formed with other queer men, far from the prying eyes of Richard's brother John, who is a bigot. But when other men are oppressed for their sexuality, can Robin let injustice stand? Rodi, Lewis, and Louise put a new spin on a familiar tale, picking up on the idea that some who went on the Crusades did so to be free to express their love of men away from society. Robim Hood always helps the oppressed, so this works well. It's a great story I'm glad to see collected.

Defenders Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Simone Di Meo, and others, published by Marvel Comics
Marley was dead. No wait, it's Dr. Strange who is no longer alive, and Bruce Banner wants answers. Normally I steer clear of event comics, but damn it, Al Ewing is unbelievably good, the Immortal Hulk is the best comic out there, and I am a total mark for all things (classic) Defenders. It looks like the non team may be reforming, and that makes this definitely worth a look.

James' Picks:

Dark Ark Vol. 2 by Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe, published by Aftershock Comics
I've sort of become the Biblical or Biblical-adjacent Panel Patter contributor, so no surprise that I am interested in this. It's a fantastic concept - Noah and his family didn't have the only ark. Noah's ark was for the creatures of the natural world, but a demon or the devil (maybe?) told this wizard Share to gather up two of all of the unnatural creatures of the world. I read the first volume and really enjoyed it, so I'm excited to read more. It's an engaging, smart, occasionally funny story.

Giant Days: Where Women Glow and Men Plunder #1 by John Allison, published by Boom! Studios
So, I'll read literally anything Giant Days. If you don't know, Giant Days is a story about three women at university in England and their time over the years. It's sweet, hilarious, and really moving. This issue seems to focus on one character, Ed, and his visit to his new girlfriend's home of Australia. It's not necessarily a great place to start if you haven't read the story, but I'd recommend going out and catching up on this book. I promise you'll love it. 

Killmonger #1 by Bryan Edward Hill and Juan Ferreyra, published by Marvel Comics
So, the Black Panther movie was amazing, you and I and everyone knows this. One of the best parts of the movie was Michael B. Jordan's performance as Eric Stephens/N'jadaka/Killmonger. He was sympathetic, vicious, understandable, ambitious, and ultimately consumed by revenge and pain. Anyway, I don't know anything about the history of the character in the comics, so I've got no issue with Marvel deciding to align the character in the comics more closely with the movie. I don't really know the creative team, but I'm excited to check this out.

Martian Manhunter #1 by Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo, pubished by DC Comics
So, I can't say I have any particular interest in Martian Manhunter (though I think he's a fine character and I've enjoyed him in a number of Justice League stories, including the current one). But the creative team and the concept are really what draw me in here. Orlando is an excellent writer, who brings style and interesting perspectives to his work. And Rossmo is a fantastic artist that has a style that's instantly recognizable and works perfectly for the weird and supernatural. Finally, I'm excited about the format. Knowing a story will only be 12 issues is actually a comfort for me, and it means that the creative team has in mind a very specific story they want to tell. I didn't particularly care for The Vision or Mister Miracle either as characters, and those books ended up being spectacular.

Shazam #1 by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham, published by DC Comics
I'm excited for this one. The work Geoff Johns did on Shazam was one of the things I enjoyed more in the New 52 era. And Johns and Eaglesham have previously worked together years ago on the terrific JSA. Johns is an excellent writer of old-timey characters, and Shazam certainly fits that category. I really like Eaglesham's work. It's a very classic superhero style, and he's an excellent storyteller. He also did some work early in Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four run that I really enjoyed. I'm glad to see him back, and interested to see Johns' work that he's back to working just on the creative side as opposed to also being an executive for DC.

December 3, 2018

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On Japan and Green Tomato Chutney-- thoughts on Simon Moreton's Little Leagues No. 1

Little Leagues No. 1
Written and Drawn by Simon Moreton
Published by Lydstep Lettuce

As a smaller sister zine to Simon Moreton’s Minor Leagues, his Little Leagues No. 1 is a perfect little gem of a comic. Created around a Japanese trip during a typhoon and his time back at home, Moreton’s zine is a wonderful record of October 2018, creating an impression of Moreton’s life during those days without creating a mere journal of his experiences during that trip.

Moreton’s memories of Japan are just those- memories. If you’re looking for a travelogue or even a diary of Japan, you’re in the wrong place as Moreton recollections of October capture a spirit of the time more than the events of the time. He’s not recreating and exploring events as he uses photography, prose, drawings and even a recipe to capture the impression of those days. For us, these impressions are incomplete and mysterious— what was he there for? Who are the people in the photos? Why is a man taking photographs of a plant the focus of a couple of Moreton’s drawings? And what connects a typhoon in Japan to a recipe for green tomato chutney back in Bristol? These glimpses into Moreton’s days don’t answer any questions but they were never meant to.

This incomplete picture of early October doesn’t give us anything to learn about the events but they give us these images of Moreton’s days which work far more like a poem than as a story. With the immediacy of translating the events into a zine, reading Little Leagues No. 1 is more like reading someone’s journal, capturing specific thoughts from certain times and places without ever really getting the whole picture of those times and places. It’s an incomplete record of events but it is an intriguing reflection of those moments. By creating these impressions of the moments, Moreton remembers these times which touched the artist's souls enough for him to want to commit them to words and drawings.

Functioning more like a multi-medium poem than a comic, Moreton captures these moments without sentimentalizing them or even commenting on them. He shapes them to let us know everything we need to know about them even if we don’t know much about the context that these events occurred in. This creates the impressionistic nature of Little Leagues, that’s only highlighted by Moreton’s own loose and gestural cartooning. His drawings are just this side of abstract, scratches and scribbles which hint at his subjects more than creating a fully formed image. You can get lost in his drawings, trying to figure out the moods and characters of his Japan and his Bristol.

Little Leagues No. 1 is a time capsule as much as it is a zine or a comic Crafted around a collection of images, thoughts and whatever captured Moreton’s attention at the time, this little book is an immediate reaction to Moreton’s experiences and will obviously mean something different to him than it does to everyone who gets to read it. But by sharing these experiences with us, through drawings, photographs, and yes, even through a recipe for green tomato chutney, Moreton’s zine opens up our own world just a little bit as we get to see a part of it through the cartoonist’s point of view.

November 28, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 28th, 2018

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:

Black Hammer Library Edition HC vol.1 by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston and more, published by Dark Horse Comics
We at Panel Patter love Black Hammer. And we think you should too. Jeff Lemire is doing wonderful things within this story (and its associated miniseries). He's taking all of these superhero tropes and mashing them together in a weird mystery box of a story that's heartfelt, funny, tragic and feels like something that's really original even as it's an homage to many different things. This book collects the first 2 arcs of the story and those will make for a spectacular read in oversized format. Dean Ormston and Dave Stewart are doing incredible work on art. This is a real must-read.

House Amok #3 by Christopher Sebela, Shawn McManus and Lee Loughridge, published by IDW Publishing/Black Crown
This is a weird, dark, messed-up book. And I mean that as a total compliment. This is a story about a family who's all insane and they go on a violent road trip and do all sorts of insane things. They all buy into the delutions until one day, one of them...doesn't. That's a really great hook for a story, and the first 2 isues isues have been  dark and twisted. Chris Sebela is having a hell of a year, and this is one more excellent story he's writing.

Wonder Woman #59 by G. Willow Wilson and Cary Nord, published by DC Comics
So, yu should really start with issue #58, where Wilson and Nord come on as the new creative team for Wonder Woman.  I loved the New 52 Azzarrello/Chiang Wonder Woman book, but the series hasn't really been of interest t me since then. I read Rucka's more recent run and I thought it was good but not spectacular. I'm really curious to see what a fresh voice will do on the character, and Wilson is that. She's been writing some spectacular superhero comics the past 5 or so years on Ms. Marvel, so I'm thrilled to see what she'll do with the world of Wonder Woman, which is filled with both superheroics and mythology.
The Mighty Thor TP vol. 5: The Death of the Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson, published by Marvel Comics
Jason Aaron has been doing some truly remarkable work with the Thor comics over the past 5 years or so. It's some of the best superhero comics - really, some of the best comics, period, being published. And probably the best thing he did was to put the hammer in the hands of someone who is very worthy, Jane Foster. The character of Jane Foster (The Mighty Thor) is such a compelling character, I might actually like her more than the original (Odinson) Thor. Jane Foster is an incredibly compelling, courageous woman battling cancer, and is simultaneously the God of Thunder. It's some trule spectacular, moving, funny, sweet and poignant superhero comics. And it all comes to a head in this volume. Read it, read all of it.

Sean's Picks:

A Walk Through Hell Vol 1 by Garth Ennis, Goran Sudžuka & Co., published by Aftershock Comics I jumped in late with this one. No worries though because this story reads way better as a collected volume. The undertones of the story bleed through the panels and the story oozes out each page at such a slight and drifting pacing that you find yourself out of breath in the end. But why though? With 3 of the 5 issues not giving much more to the end game than a few leads you are left with a modest hunch that something supernatural lurks around the next corner. This is a fun and daunting read and I recommend this for anyone’s collection.

These Savage Shores 2 by Ram V, Sumit Kumar & Co., published by Vault Comics
Coming as no surprise to anyone that someone associated with the Panel there would be a Vault comic coming with recommendation. The first issue of These Savage Shores was quite a strong debut several weeks back and I look forward to how this enchanted story continues with the innovative pacing and elaborate and vivid illustrations. Though still quite new as a staple to anyone’s weekly pull list, I’d be remiss to not include it as one I pass on to others looking for something a bit different out there. Go pick this one up as it’ll be an easy title to jump into.

Spider-Man 1 by Delilah S Dawson, Fico Ossio & Co., published by IDW
As I’ve aged into my late 30s I’ve grown tired of the superhero branded comics of the mainstream, but there will always be room for Spidey. I enjoy everything about this character and the creators that have had his run over the years have managed to make things true to form as well as fresh and exciting. This new Spider-Man comic isn’t directly from Marvel, but instead it’s from IDW and marketed as a Marvel interpretation of the character. The biggest concern I have for this comic is how in the world they are going to manage to have Peter Parker and Miles Morales high school buddies. But hey.. creative control right? 

Black Hammer Library Edition HC vol.1 by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston and Co., published by Dark Horse Comics
First, if you aren’t reading Black Hammer by now, dear god.. please start! And what better way to start then with this gorgeous collected volume of the entire first and second story arcs. Second, if you are reading Black Hammer, then you are most likely in the same situation as me... the proud owner of every variant of the single issues, each copy of the collected trade’s, and now faced with the heavy-but-not-too-difficult decision as to whether or not to also buy this collected package as well. Lemire, my money is right here.. take it. 

November 26, 2018

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Petals by Gustavo Borges | A Stunning Story Told With No Words

Written & Illustrated by Gustavo Borges
Colors by Cris Peter
BOOM! Studios imprint KaBOOM!

The most complex topics are sometimes better off discussed without words because without them we are able to see what is all underneath. When we speak we sometimes miss what is most important, and those impending missed opportunities are the actions behind what is being said. Simply put, there is something special being said here in this 3-year-old crowdfunded comic entitled Petals (originally published as Pétalas). No words, no thought bubbles, and no dialogue but with a rather small amount of lettered grunts, cries and bellows, this is a story worth passing down through generations to come. 

Author and artist, Gustavo Borges, was more notably known in the Brazilian comic market as a webcomic artist and illustrator who was looking for a deeper format to tell a larger story. His journey ended with his finding Cris Peter, Eisner nominated Brazilian colorist, to color what would eventually become a 2015 crowdfunded success story. The success is it surpassing it's financial goal tenfold! That is something in itself to be told... asking for five but getting fifty. It's a breath of fresh air to read about such happy endings to passion projects that positively impact the world and with Petals, there will without much doubt be positive influence to come. 

In this story, we are introduced to a family of foxes and a seemingly lost wanderer among the snowy landscape of the forest. The wanderer, a tall and rather well-dressed bird of sorts, takes it upon himself to become caretaker for the fox in the story battling illness. This wanderer represents everything that we as humans ought to strive to become, someone who thinks nothing of themselves other than to assist the uplifting of others. It is a beautifully illustrated and thoughtful story created as a reminder for those who strive so intently to be someone they oftentimes don't resemble through their own misrepresented and ill-willed actions. We are all human, we make mistakes, and the animals in this story are here to teach us all a lesson in humanity. Strap in.

The story is simple and it is concise, it is revealing and it has a layered parable so thick beneath the silent nature of its core that it should make the most introspective of people consider how often they truly risk themselves at the benefit of others. (Or how often they should, rather.) It's a simple concept lost in modern culture to assist those around you by any means personally capable. So often it is shown that to be selfish is to be a success or to be a man you must be rigid and detached. As a community of inhabitants on this rock, we can quickly lose sight in the meaning and importance of a collective solidarity and hospitality toward others. This is a story that reminds us of its importance. This is a parable of others over self. This is a lesson of life teaching humble selfless actions of love and nurture for our fellow man in a time that this world is in desperate need of a reminder. 

During this holiday season keep this book in mind as you shop for those on your list who enjoy printed stories. This is a beautiful and oversized hardcover comic book that would look great on bookshelves all over the world and among any age bracket. Currently, my copy of Petals has a permanent home atop my coffee table for guests of all ages to thumb through as they stop by. It's a quick read and a hearty story intended to warm the soul and encourage all to do unto others as we would want them to do unto us. 

- @argyleeater

November 23, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 21st, 2018

WHOOPS! I forgot to hit "post" on this--sorry everyone! -Rob

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:

Injection Deluxe Edition HC Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, published by Image Comics
Injection is an absolutely fantastic comic, and if you're interested in stories about the supernatural and weird technology, and dark mysteries and conspiracies, then this series is a perfect pickup. The creative team is the peerless trio of writer Warren Ellis, artist Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. They worked together on a memorable arc of Moon Knight, and do similarly high-level work here. This series is about a secret group who's exporing supernatural mysteries, except they're irresponsible and don't necessarily contemplate the weird consequences, of which there are many.

Silver Surfer Omnibus by Dan Slott, Mike Allred and Laura Allred, published by Marvel Comics
Although this series only concluded in the last year or so, I can already tell you that it is among my all-time favorite comics. Not just all-time favorite Marvel, or superhero, but any comics or stories I've ever read. Why? Because I've never read anything that quite embraced the pure joy and wonder of discovery in the way this series did. Dan Slott really lets himself have a ton of fun here, and it's all big, silver-age cosmic Kirby craziness. The spectacular art team of Mike and Laura Allred bring absolute wonder to the page, with every single page full of crazy, wonderful delights. As I once told Allred himself, he has an incredible way of portraying both joy and sadness in a single image or expression. And this is a very emotional series. You'll run the gamut of emotions reading this book, but mostly the thrill that something with this much pure joy, fun and wonder exists, and I know you'll love it.

Go-Bots #1 by Tom Schioli, published by IDW Publishing
So let's be honest, Go-Bots were the Betamax of 80's vehicles that turned into robots. All I really remember was the catchy theme song ("Mighty robots, mighty vehicles, Go-BOTS!"). I do have one of my old Go-Bots (the ambulance one). Anyway, all of this is to say that if it were almost any other comics creator, I probably wouldn't be picking up this comic. But it's Tom Scioli, a singular, spectacular talent, and I am thrilled to pick this up. Scioli first came to prominence with the spectacular Godland, an incredible homage to cosmic Kirby comics (and really so much more). He wowed me with American Barbarian (sort of a Kamandi with lots more drugs). But he really took his art and insane levels of creativity to the next level with the beloved (by me, at least) Transformers vs. GI Joe which is like Jack Kirby was drawing underground cartoons based on a children's toy while insanely high and watching weird TV. That book was fun and weird and felt like action figures and toys brought to life in the most wonderful way. So of course I'm going to check out his Go-Bots comics. It's got robots that turn into vehicles, and they're our friends...or are they?  This first issue is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone, not just for the nostalgia factor, but for the weird, engaging fun of it.

Sean's Picks:

24 Panels by Various Writers & Illustrators, published by Image
24 stories. 24 panels. 24 creators tell 24 stories. This anthology comic was created to commemorate and support those who survived and those who suffered from the Grenfell fire in London killing 72 people. PTSD can be a real trouble for a lot of people who have found misfortune and it is because of books like this one that make those tragedies seem temporarily less tragic. If even for the slightest moment through active support of gracious giving, or through the art of storytelling, this book helps transform horrible circumstance of tragedy to collaborative assistance and charity. This world is often quite the shitty place, and when creators come together to make it a tad less shitty.. I’m all in. When this book surfaced on my radar I made sure to include it in my list of must-buy’s.

Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1 by Donny Cates, Danilo Beyruth, and others, published by Marvel
Donny Cates did a Miley Cyrus and came in like a wrecking ball when Image let him up his game last year with God Country and Redneck. Since his heightened visibility and successes had him with those titles he has managed to pull no punches from his arsenal. Venom continues being perfection. Cosmic Ghost Rider got good again. The Inhumans got... well.. dead. And Thanos was.. well, he really didn’t need to make Thanos any more badass but he did. So.. naturally.. let’s make Carnage a bigger and badder twisted s.o.b. than ever before, right? Seems up Cates’ alley. Ok.. so as the saying goes.. take my money, Donny, I’m all in.

Middlewest #1 by Skottie Young and Jorge Corona, published by Image
I’ve had my eye on this issue for a few months. The cover alone is worth checking out. It literally reminds me of a Dynamite Boy album cover from 1999, but instead of a deceitful girl and a suburban walkway there’s a demon cloud and fox.. but the broken heart remains. (The broken heart still effing remains.) Skottie Young has written some wildly imaginative stories in the past few years, and here on Middlewest with a collaboration with Jorge Corona on illustrations I see a fun and captivating exploration of the lands between the two coasts. I’m excited to see where this story goes.

American Carnage # 1 by Bryan Edward Hill, Leandro Fernandez, and Dean White, published by DC/Vertigo
This is another heavily anticipated title of mine for the year. These new Vertigo comics have been literally placed on a separate note in my phone as a reminder for specific release dates. American Carnage is drawn by Leandro Fernandez of The Old Guard and written by Bryan Edward Hill. Based on early press releases we are in for one hell of a ride in social commentary on racial tension with this one. I will bite my tongue here and refrain from exposing any specific details.. except that maybe I’ll say that this story is literally about a bi-racial FBI agent who can pass as a white man, and had accidentally shot a young unarmed black man, and not only will he now be forced to infiltrate a white supremacist group, but they may also be responsible for the murder of a fellow FBI agent. Hungry for more? Yea... me too. Take my money.

November 21, 2018

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Black Badge: 1-4

Written by Matt Kindt
Line Art by Tyler Jenkins
Color Art by Hilary Jenkins
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by BOOM! Studios

Yesterday I read the hauntingly ignorant Bill Maher blog about how comics are meaningless and how Stan Lee inspired us all to... go watch a movie. Then I re-read Black Badge issues one through three to prop myself up in preparation for the fourth issue coming out this week. I say this to remind myself that Bill Maher is consistently a troll looking for attention and his opinion literally means nothing... oh, and Kindt comics fly so consistently under the radar that it's despicable more people don't take notice.

But that's why I'm here. Allow me to seek refuge in discussing what makes comics so kick ass for a brief moment or two with Black Badge as the case-in-point.

Comics are like music to me, just as songs draw me in to find the good in the mundane so is also that I am able to find something within a comic that is pure and good for the simple and literal definition of being good. No song exists that is bad from moment start to moment finish just as no comic is undeserving of attention from an audience in need of its intended message. I'm willing to go up against anyone who finds that observation absurd. Point being:  I enjoy most all music for what it is, and the same is true for comics. I enjoy the medium that comics utilize to convey the message it is able to present while using a simple, yet unique and obscure, platform of panel art. Sometimes creators will take this medium and push it beyond any predetermined boundaries.

Matt Kindt is a creator I find most captivating in the way his stories are told and the vivid attention to detail he has for manipulating the imagination of his reader. His stories always have a foundation of such elaborate visual planning that he has it illustrated in ways not too dissimilar of a treasure map. Black Badge is no exception to this trend as he has Tyler and Hilary Jenkins illustrate us a labeled aerial view of select scenes from the story. Also included in this unique approach to comic illustrations and storytelling is his breakdown of a character's gear and uniform, something I've always appreciated from Matt. I find myself painting the page with my eyes, back and forth, up and down, studying the layout and design of the character. This makes the reader's imagination consider so many unsaid possibilities given the inventory of devices listed on that previously mentioned illustration.

I've enjoyed Kindt comics for a while now. Grass Kings is probably in my top ten ongoings of the past several years, and last year's Dept H was one of my favorite mini-series of pretty much... ever. Matt has a certain sizzle to his storytelling that lets his readers know exactly what is going on every step of the way but manages to sneak in unexpected surprises and simple yet modest amounts of social commentary. The subtlety is where Matt's charm lies. He knows how to tell a story with purpose and with meaning without mimicking your Sunday School teacher.

Black Badge is Matt's latest endeavor. He has teamed with Tyler and Hilary Jenkins to tell a story of rebellion and loyalty through the eyes of something similar to a boy scout. Our team of protagonists includes Kenny, Cliff, Mutz, and Willy; four adolescents making their way toward something largely unknown, but along the way they seek and destroy questionable missions to earn progress toward the larger goal of achieving black badge excellence among peers and authorities alike. This rat-pack of four juveniles challenge the boundaries of loyalty, rebellion, cooperation, tolerance, and the mindful attention to brotherhood. It gives the reader, if engaged, a chance to consider their own intent of any such patron of honor.

So often we are told to fall in line for the sake of conformity. We base our significance on how little we stray from the expected obedience of our actions, or maybe it is vice versa if rebellion is more your thing. This comic seems to explore these elements of self-identification by telling the story of four adolescents as they go on adventurous missions to obtain the status coveted by all who desire recognition. In the end, it is the bond of friendship that tests the pre-ordained expectation of obedience to the cause so that the directive is lost and hope is now being found on a more personal level. Issues one through three illustrate the story as blind tests of faith by these young scouts, but something is rumbling in the distance. Something seems unsettling and an unraveling of order is unmistakable as you read between the panels.

The characters in Black Badge are written as somewhat ambivalent toward their own intent making the story arc from issue to issue seamless and mesmerizing. Seeing one question the actions of the group only to fall on deaf ears could easily translate to a foreshadowing of trouble ahead. But by the end of the fourth issue, you will see that maybe the questioning of blind obedience has laid enough of a rebellious seed to cause what is about to happen.

We all share this life together, collectively populating the same planet. The simplest form of tolerance is to respect the situation of someone you cannot seem to understand. Borders, wages, ethnic background, social construct, or even our individual interpretation of free-will all contribute to our differences. In those diverse differences, the foundation of what makes us all the same is that anyone's interpretation of greater-good factors down to interpersonal relations. Without those around us whom we call family, we have lost essentially any meaning in the very existence we have been given. To live is to mingle, and to mingle is to bear family, and to bear family is to share love. Black Badge is that story transcending any specific reason to not fall out of line for the well-being of another. This is a story taking shape that feels like an act of rebellion against an unjust authority so that brotherhood and friendship is constant no matter the cost. Considering the current state of everything America these days, I find this ironic I pull this theme from this comic.. or maybe it is just me who translates this from it.

This is a terribly fun story. It is something unlike anything else on the stands right now and Matt Kindt is, in my opinion, the most underrated creator of our time. Black Badge 1 - 3 easily get 8's out of 10's from me and that changes only in the upward direction for issue number 4. Black Badge 4 is a solid 9/10. Go pick this one up at your local shop this week, as this one comes as a highly recommend from me.

November 16, 2018

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Neil Spiers Reviews Bitter Root #1

Bitter Root #1
Writer:s David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Line Art: Sandford Greene
Color Art: Rico Renzi & Sandford Greene
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics

My first introduction to anything written by David F. Walker and artist Sandford Greene was their highly entertaining run on Power Man and Iron Fist back in 2016. Taking both characters back to street-level and away from the grand, epic storylines of the Avengers made me more invested in these characters. Witty, fast-paced and full of nods to 70s blaxploitation, all set in modern day New York. Greene’s art was one of the main things that pulled me in and I started to track down more of his work. If you haven’t already, I insist you check Greene and Brown’s webtoon “1000”.

Jump back to 2017 Rose City Comic Con when Image Comics announced that David F. Walker and Sandford Greene would be working with Chuck Brown on a new title, Bitter Root. Set in the 1920s when the Harlem Renaissance was in full swing. Walker then went on to give some background.

“Bitter Root is going to be unlike any comic book people have seen, we're mixing action and horror, with a cast of characters unique to the medium to tell an epic tale of the Sangerye family and the sacrifices they are willing to make for humanity. I'm excited about this series for several reasons. It gives me the chance to work with Sanford again, Chuck, who is a great co-writer, and Image, which publishes some absolutely amazing comics.”
Due to having a love of horror comics my interest piqued and just over a year later, I finally get the chance to read the first issue. Let me tell you, it’s one you must pick up.

Bitter Root looks to follow the lives of the Sangeryes clan, a family that through generations has battled with Demons, Monsters and Jinoo who corrupt human souls. Souls that are consumed by hate and turned into monstrous beasts. You may be thinking that this kind of story sounds familiar. But am going to go out on a limb and say I know of no comic that is set in 1920’s Harlem, where an African American family battles hate filled Demons.

And that’s what makes the writing of this comic exceptional--it features reminders of the real issues black people faced (and still face) in America but integrates them into the supernatural elements of the world. Written by two African American writers who are passionately portraying a critically important time in American History, when white America started to recognise the creative and intellectual contributions of African Americans, who in turn upheld their identity intellectually. But at the same time, there were those that stuck to their discriminatory beliefs. Which is touched on towards the end of issue one, in a brutal but satisfying way. Add to all this the supernatural, and you have something that has never been seen before in a comic. 

Then we have Sandford Greene’s stunningly rendered artwork. Beautiful expressive characters, and monsters that show a huge affection for Jack Kirby. Greene must have spent hours scouring for historical reference material because each character's attire genuinely creates the impression of 1920s Harlem. Panel work is something totally different than what we saw in Power Man and Iron Fist. Action scenes are broken down into single pages but the different use of panel layout make these scenes accentuate the page. Splash pages are there as well in all their action-filled glory. Add to this the colour work by Rico Renzi and Greene, which is lit perfectly in every panel. From subtle purple evening skies to an eerily set forest lynching that goes hilariously awry for the Klan. Colours are beautiful, I’ll just leave it at that.

Yes, I’m gushing about this comic, but I love it. Fun, intelligent, action-packed and unique. The character Berg is one that I adore, such an eloquent beast of a man. I seriously hope people pick this one up. It’s great to see an entirely African American creative team behind this. One that could inspire and motivate others to start creating. That’s always of great importance.

November 13, 2018

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Catch it at the Comic Shop November 14th, 2018

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 Picks:

Friendo #2 by Alex Paknadel, Martin Simmonds, Dee Cunniffe, and Taylor Esposito, published by Vault Comics
I think it comes as no shock that Vault is a much-loved publisher with everyone at Panel Patter. For me, they are THE publisher to watch, and one that continues to grow with each release. In a world where we obsess over our desire to have the latest in technology, stare into screens and crave a following online. Alex Paknadel’s Friendo takes this idea and pushes it a little further into the future. Taking elements of VR and AI and using that to create your own personal assistant. An assistant that can be a personal shopper, guide, walking search engine, you name it they are there for YOU. But should you be listening and taking advice from a marketing AI that you have created based on a selection of personal questions?

Bitter Root #1 by David F. Walker, Sanford Greene, Chuck Brown, Rico Renzi, and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics
Ever since their stunning run on Power Man and Iron Fist I’ve eagerly awaited something new from the team of David F. Walker and Sandford Greene. So with Bitter Root appearing this week I cannot wait to see what Walker’s highly entertaining writing and Greene’s beautifully expressive art brings. Add to that Greene’s collaborator on his webcomic “1000” Chuck Hogan and we have one hell of a creative team. Set during Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Bitter Root promises horror, monster hunters, supernatural forces, mystery and action. The previews alone have piqued my interest and that Akira inspired variant cover… OH MY.   

Black Order #1 by Derek Landy and Philip Tan published by Marvel Comics
Ever since their appearance in Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity story line, I became enamoured with the Black Order. But with my love of Marvel Cosmic taking a back seat of late, only dipping back into the phenomenal Annihilation and Annihilation Conquest stories from the mid-2000s, something new is desired. Having missed Infinity Wars and anxiously waiting for Donny Cates Guardians of the Galaxy run in 2019, I hope Derek Landy’s Black Order book is a strong return to my love of Marvel Cosmic. Just that little something that’ll tide me over until the new Guardians book is released. Because who doesn’t love a good story about a band of ruthlessly powerful villains who are set to destabilize a burgeoning empire.

James' Picks:
The Fade Out TP by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics
Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips are one of the very best creative teams in comics, and this is probably my favorite work of theirs. They tell a lot of mystery stories, stores relating to crime, tortured souls, and poor doomed saps. Well, it all comes together in The Fade Out, which is a fantastic post-WWII crime noir story set in the seedy underbelly of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. If you liked LA Confidential then you'd like this. If you didn't like LA Confidential, what the hell is wrong with you? This story is a fantastic murder mystery, and you will absolutely fall in love with the moody, atmospheric, stylishly beautiful artwork of Sean Philips, colored by the talented Elizabeth Breitweiser. I absolutely adore this book, and now that it's been collected in a more affordable paper edition, it's the perfect time to pick it up.

Gideon Falls #8 by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart, published by Image Comics
Gideon Falls is without question one of my top comics of 2018.  It a super creepy, unsettling, religious horror book. The horror doesn't come from gore - no, the horror is much more insidious and unsettling than that. It's about visions of evil and darkness just out of reach, and about the troubled people that are experiencing this horror.  Jeff Lemire knows how to tell a scary story, and the artwork from Andrea Sorrentino (with colors from the master Dave Stewart) is spectacular and scary and unsettling and really inventive.  
Infinite Dark #2 by Ryan Cady and Andrea Mutti, published by Image Comics
Keeping with the theme of scary comics, this is another successfully creepy book. It is in the excellent "horror in space" genre, which makes for great storytelling. This is a space station containing the very last life in the entire universe. Seriously, everything else in the universe is gone, they're experiencing the heat death of the universe and the people aboard this station are all that's left. Not just of humanity, but of anything. No more planets, no more stars. Just the...Infinite dark! So far the book is appropriately creepy and unnerving. There's murder aboard the station, and things are weird and getting weirder. Andrea Mutti is an excellent artist, and brings this story to unsettling, weird life. This is strong book.

Mister Miracle #12 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics
The big conclusion. I'm so interested to see how this book gets resolved. It's really been a remarkable story, one that I don't think I'll fully appreciate until it's done.  It's been a very cool, weird story about the New Gods, and about family, but this is really a story about someone dealing with profound depression and also probably some psychoses. It doesn't sound fun, but it actually is. Mitch Gerads has done the best work I've ever seen from him. This book is just stunning and weird and so compelling. 

Rob's Picks:

Friendo #2 by Alex Paknadel, Martin Simmonds, Dee Cunniffe, and Taylor Esposito, published by Vault Comics
After the shocking events of the first issue, Leo's recovery involves a lot of retail therapy, aided and abetted by his virtual pal Jerry, who lives inside his special glasses. Jerry plays his role of friend and shopping advocate well--but something's not quite right as this second issue takes us deeper into a world where the idea of an Alexa/Siri style assistant becomes more than just a box on your nightstand. Alex creates a world where corporations have entire too much control over our lives, and shows it in subtle ways (like the one-off panel about a man who has to humiliate himself with a horse to get health insurance--for only a year!). It's a logical, terrifying extension of where we're headed--not unlike Chris Sebela and company's Crowded. Meanwhile Simmonds and Cunniffe's art really make this work, giving the world a shiny, slick feel and making some amazing visual choices. I especially enjoy how the color scheme makes it clear which "world" we're in. Disclosure: Alex is a "friendo" of mine, but even if he wasn't, I'd recommend this sci-fi story to everyone.

Brother Nash by Bridgit Connell, published by Titan Comics
Brother Nash is a trucker...who also happens to have the ability to turn into a beast when the conditions are right. He faces all sorts of supernatural enemies both on and off the interstate in this entertaining, colorful, and well-illustrated webcomic, collected here by Titan. The characters are engaging, and Connell uses the tropes of horror and truckers-from-movies extremely well. I love her monster designs and she gives Nash just enough human elements without dragging the story down in unnecessary drama. This one was hand-sold to me by one of my local shop owners, and I'm glad she did. Now I'm passing along the recommendation to you!

The Thirteenth Floor Vol 1 by Alan Grant, John Wagner, Jose Ortiz, and Mike Peters, Published by Rebellion/2000 AD
We all know a lot of buildings are missing an official 13th floor because of superstition, but what if it's because the building itself reserves that floor for sinister purposes? That's the premise here, as the 2000AD writing duo of Grant and Wagner combine with artist Jose Ortiz to write an ongoing feature for Scream, a British horror mag akin to Creepy. A state of the art building run by "Max," an intelligent computer insistent on protecting its residents no matter what it takes, is the focus of this set of stories. When it feels like the residents need protection, Max drops off the threat to the 13th floor, which changes features to fit the criminal's intentions. In other words, "What if the Spectre was a technological haunted house?" --and if that doesn't intrigue you, I'm so sorry for your reading habits. This is another in a series of excellent reprints from 2000AD of other British comics, reproduced in high quality and shining a light on some great comics that might otherwise be forgotten. If you're an EC/Warren fan, make sure you pick this one up. It's great stuff.

Bitter Root #1 by David F. Walker, Sanford Greene, Chuck Brown, Rico Renzi, and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics
There are monsters in Harlem, and only a special family can stop them, but as the family seems to grow weaker, the monsters do not. Battling the supernatural and racism, they may be humanity's only hope, but the challenge they face is far greater than ever. David F. Walker and Sanford Greene talked about this book at Rose City in 2017, and I've been waiting for it ever since. Unsurprisingly, it's every bit as good as I hoped. Sanford's linework is loose and gives everyone, both monsters and humans, an exaggerated feel that works well for a horror comic. (What's cool is that unlike some, he can do this without making a mess of the flow of the action.) Meanwhile, David as always has a great way with characters and interaction, and his single-issue story flow is getting better and better. This one has a great cliffhanger, and it also shows that Walker, Greene, and co aren't afraid to get into controversial territory--no surprise, if you know David at all. So many great horror books in 2018--don't leave this one off you list.

November 7, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 7th, 2018

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 Picks:

Marvel Knights 20th #1 by Donny Cates, Travel Foreman and others published by Marvel Comics.
It’s 20 years this year since the Marvel Knights imprint line first appeared. And with Marvel being Marvel, they’ve decided to revive the “more mature themed” line of comics. With Donny Cates at the helm, why wouldn’t you? This six-issue miniseries sees Cates pen the first issue and then the baton is handed on to Matthew Rosenberg heading up issue two. Nothing much is known about the series, due to it being shrouded in secrecy. But this first issue looks to have Matt Murdock as the lead protagonist. Having just completed the phenomenal season 3 of Daredevil on Netflix I’m hoping to see more of a grounded street-level hero story much like the show itself. Because personally, I believe that was the best material Marvel has EVER put to screen.

James' Picks:

Crowded #4 by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt and Triona Farrell, published by Image Comics.
Chris Sebela is on a real win streak this year. Crowded has been a funny, socially astute, action-packed, dramatic mystery of a story. It's a very clever look at the "gig economy" and social media and their absurd natural conclusion.

Fearscape #2 by Ryan O'Sullivan and Andrea Mutti, published by Vault Comics.
I read the first issue of Fearscape and really enjoyed it. This is a fun literary comic in the mold of Sandman or the Unwritten, and a hilarious read with a fantastic fraud of a main character. Excellent, dreamlike art from Andrea Mutti.

Border Town #3 by Eric Esquivel and Ramon Villalobos, published by Vertigo/DC Comics.
This is a really smart, incredibly timely comic that feels important for the current moment. It's also a highly entertaining story with terrific art. One of the strongest debuts of 2018.

Green Lantern #1 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp, published by DC Comics.
I can't say I've read much Green Lantern in recent years. But, Green Lantern and the different color corps and the Sinestro Corps War was some of the first comics I read when I was first getting back into comics, so I have something of a soft spot for it. But it's really the creative team that's drawing me in here.  Any time Grant Morrison does any new mainstream comics, he has my attention. I'm thrilled to see what he and super-talented artist Liam Sharp have cooked up for Hal Jordan.

Immortal Hulk #8 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics.
This book has been wonderful. It' dark and creepy and Ewing and Bennett have really succeeded in bringing to life a whole new Hulk persona; a dark and cruel bringer of justice. This book feels like an old school horror or Twilight Zone story. I highly recommend it.