Comics


Lucifer, Volume One: Cold Heaven by Holly Black

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Lucifer, Volume One: Cold Heaven Written by Holly Black  and Drawn by Lee Garbett and Stephanie Hans

Vertigo’s Lucifer, Volume One: Cold Heaven is a murder mystery and a family saga. Released in 2016, it is the point where Holly Black takes over writing the saga of Lucifer Morningstar. Lucifer left his assignment as ruler of Hell to confront his father (God) and then left this universe completely, giving it to the daughter of Archangel Michael to caretake. Now he’s back, weakened and wounded. Another angel, Gabriel, is on his trail, accusing him of murdering The Presence, or God. Since Lucifer didn... Read More

Moon Knight: Lunatic by Jeff Lemire

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Moon Knight (vol. 1): Lunatic by Jeff Lemire (writer) and Greg Smallwood (artist)

Moon Knight: Lunatic is the first volume in a new series that, as I write, is up to the thirteenth issue, and since this volume includes issues one through five, we can anticipate at least two more collected volumes of five issues each. The Marvel character Moon Knight has been around since the mid ‘70s, and though he has similarities with other characters from DC and Marvel, what makes him truly unique is that he has a serious mental diagnosis: Dissociative Identity Disorder, or Multiple Personality Disorder. Over the years, this diagnosis has gained greater focus for writers of the Read More

Deadly Class (Vol. 1): Reagan Youth by Rick Remender (An Oxford College Student Review!)

In this new column, I’ll be featuring comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I’ll be posting the best of my students’ reviews in this column. Today, I am proud to present a review by Njeri Thomas. 

Njeri Thomas is a freshman pursuing a degree in psychology with the intent to go to medical school. She calls Houston, Texas home and loves reading, theater, and art. In the future, Njeri wishes to become a child psychiatrist and possibly an actress.

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Deadly Class (V... Read More

Black Science (Vol. 1) by Rick Remender (An Oxford College Student Review!)

In this new column, I feature comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I’ll be posting the best of my students’ reviews in this column. Today, I am proud to present a review by Claire Ofotokun.

Claire is a freshman and is pursuing a double major in dance and business.  She lives in Atlanta and particularly enjoys Atlanta’s warm weather and the diversity of cultures, music, and art.  Dance and the arts have been a large part of her life, and she has a special interest in creating movement because it allows her to express her thoughts in a way speaking... Read More

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld

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Spill Zone written by Scott Westerfeld illustrated by Alex Puvilland

Scott Westerfeld’s newest story, Spill Zone, is a graphic novel illustrated by Alex Puvilland that takes place several years after Poughkeepsie suffered a major “spill,” and while nobody knows exactly what that entailed, nanotechnology and a nuclear power plant are mentioned as being involved. Whatever it was changed things inside the city, leaving behind fantastical creatures, changed animals, and “meat puppets” (think zombies). Addison’s twelve-year-old sister Lexa escaped that night, driven out on a bus with some other school children by a mysterious driver. Her parents, working at the hospital that night, did not. Addison herself was out of the city that night partying. Now she tak... Read More

Wonder Woman by Jill Thompson

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Wonder Woman by Jill Thompson

Wonder Woman by Jill Thompson is the story of Diana’s life before she becomes the superhero we all know and love. Jill Thompson is the recipient of seven Eisner awards and is well-known for her work on Sandman with Neil Gaiman. Her artistic style can vary greatly, and in this comic she uses one that lends the tale the quality of a myth told many times, which suits this graphic novel perfectly since Thompson shows us Wonder Woman’s coming-of-age, and young Diana exists in the first place only because of intervention on the part of Greek... Read More

Morning Glories (Vol. 1) by Nick Spencer (An Oxford College Student Review!)

In this new column, I'll be featuring comic book reviews written by my students at Oxford College of Emory University. Oxford College is a small liberal arts school just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I challenge students to read and interpret comics because I believe sequential art and visual literacy are essential parts of education at any level (see my Manifesto!). I'll be posting the best of my students' reviews in this column.

Today, I am proud to present a review by Victoria Gu, the very first Oxford Student featured on our site! Victoria is a chronically sleep-deprived freshman intending to double major in Biology and Psychology and pursue a career in medicine. She originally hails from Seattle, WA where she spends her breaks indulging in overpriced hipster eats, cooking old Chinese home recipes, and camping beneath the stars. From a young a... Read More

Sex: Summer of Hard by Joe Casey (or: Considering Ethics and Literature)

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Sex (Vol. 1): Summer of Hard by Joe Casey (writing) and Piotr Kowalski (art)

or, Considering Ethics and Literature:

I have been hesitant to read Joe Casey’s Sex because it seems like such a blatant attempt to gain the type of readership of which I did not want to be a part. However, I recently decided I should not judge so harshly before reading it. I must admit, now, that I am impressed with the first eight issues: Sex is a fantastic story with an actual point to it, and it is not simply an indulgence in gratuitous sex. However, later in my review, I will address the graphic content (to put it mildly), which will offend many potential readers, and this content should make you pause a long time before even considering reading Sex. Every type of sex is portrayed; even those resulting in murder... Read More

The Best Deal on The Best Comics (or: Need a Break from DC and Marvel?)

This column will be updated regularly to help you find the best comics to read on Comixology Unlimited, an incredible subscription service available for $5.99 a month (with the first month free). If you want to start reading comics, this is a great way to begin, particularly if you are an adult who wants to locate all those comics that are hard to find because we are inundated with Superhero stories. (The First Clarification: Yes, I like DC, Marvel, and Superhero Stories, too)

Comics are expensive, and you can read hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of comics very quickly, so $5.99 a month is an amazing deal. That’s less than a single collection of monthly comics, which sell for $10 to $40 each. (The Second Clarification: No, I have no connection with Comixology other than giving them all of my money.)

The best creative independent comics are not being put out by DC and Marvel. They are being put out by compan... Read More

The Mighty Zodiac Volume 1: Starfall by J. Torres

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The Mighty Zodiac Volume 1: Starfall written by J. Torres,  Corin Howell (illustrations), Maarta Laiho (color), Warren Wucinich (letters)

The Mighty Zodiac has a wonderfully cosmic and original premise — the death of a constellation leads to the fall of six stars from the skies and the freeing of the Rabbit Army from the moon. Or as it is put early on:
When the Blue Dragon died, he left the eastern skies vulnerable. Without another dragon to immediately take its place and ascend into the position of the Guardian of the East, six stars fell out of heaven . . . Darkness fell across the region like no one had seen before. The darkness drew out dark creatures with dark designs!
Soon it’s a race between the heroes (the anthropomorphized ani... Read More

Another Castle: Grimoire by Andrew Wheeler

 

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Another Castle: Grimoire Written by Andrew Wheeler, Illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau, Lettered by Jenny Vy Tran

Another Castle: Grimoire is a solid enough graphic story, better suited for younger readers than older ones due to its relatively simple story and characterization, though even aimed at that audience I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth and writing craft.

The story follows the adventures of Princess Misty, daughter to the king of Beldora and, like many a princess in the old stories, a reluctant prospective bride. Her impending marriage to Prince Pete is meant to unite two kingdoms and hopefully allow them to st... Read More

The Fuse: The Russia Shift (Giveaway!)

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The Fuse (Vol. 1): The Russia Shift by Antony Johnston & Justin Greenwood

(No spoilers, but this review is also a Giveaway. I met Justin Greenwood, who draws The Fuse and got a signed copy of this collection, which one random commenter with a USA mailing address will get.)

The Fuse: The Russia Shift is Volume One in the collection of this comics science fiction police procedural series, set on a space station orbiting earth. The Russia Shift introduces us to our two cops; Ralph Dietrich, just arrived from Earth, and his more experien... Read More

Smash written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel

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Smash written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel

Smash, written by Sara Latta and illustrated by Jeff Weigel, is a clear and concise explanation for young people of the standard model of physics (including the newly discovered Higgs Boson) and in particular of how the giant CERN supercollider contributes to furthering the model’s accuracy/completeness. Saying the book is aimed at the young, however, does it a bit of a disservice, as it works just as well for adults looking for that same clarity and concision.


In tried and true format, Latta has much of the explanation take the form of a dialogue between one knowledgeable person (Sophie, whose parents work at CERN) explaining a difficult concept to one struggling to understand it (her cousin Nick, visiting CERN in hope of finding inspiration for a superhero comic he’s drawing for a contest).... Read More

Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

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Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar (writer) & Steve McNiven (illustrator)

Logan, a grizzled west coast farmer whose only joy is his wife and two children, knows that the rent is due. He doesn’t have the dough, and when the cannibalistic Hulk Gang arrives, he will suffer a beating – if he’s lucky.

What if… all of the villains teamed up to defeat the heroes and then took over the country? Written in 2009, Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan was not released as a “What If…?” adventure, but it might as well have been. The heroes were wiped out long ago, and Logan, who has sworn to never do violence again, takes his beating to protect his family.

Hawkeye, now equal parts blind samurai and archer, hopes there might still be a bit of Wolverine left in the old farmer. He offers to pay Logan to drive with him in the Spider-... Read More

Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur by Frederic Brremaud & Frederico Bertolucci

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Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur written by Frederic Brremaud and illustrated by Frederico Bertolucci

Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur (2017) is the newest in a series of wordless graphic novels written by Frederic Brremaud and illustrated by Frederico Bertolucci, each of them following an animal type (a tiger, a lion) through their days. Dinosaurs, thanks to their massive popularity would seem an obvious choice in the series, and they get prime treatment in a gritty, vividly illustrated adventure tale.

Interestingly enough, the story starts small, focusing on an insect and a small shrew-like mammal. They’re quickly disturbed though by the massive foot of a sauropod crashing down as it wanders by while munching the foliage. Just a few panels later, a smaller dinosaur (a bambiraptor I believe, though I’m not sure) enters the picture, an... Read More

The Infinite Wait and Other Stories by Julia Wertz

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The Infinite Wait and Other Stories by Julia Wertz

The Infinite Wait and Other Stories by Julia Wertz is one of my favorite “slice of life” comics, and it is one I’ve taught several times in my course on comics. A memoir in three parts, The Infinite Wait and Other Stories is memorable for the reader because of Wertz’s strong voice as presented in two ways: through the drawn character we see — the “Julia” we watch living through the events recounted — and through the voice of the narrator, a future Wertz we “hear” but do not see, as she looks back and comments on the Julia in each panel as she lives ... Read More

The Sandman Mystery Theatre Book One by Matt Wagner

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The Sandman Mystery Theatre Book One by Matt Wagner

The Sandman Mystery Theatre is a near-perfect noir comic book series written in the 1990s by Matt Wagner, though the stories are set in the late 1930s. In some ways, Wagner is making a return to the older, original Sandman character created in 1939 (who also went by the name of Wesley Dodds), but the Sandman has had various incarnations since then, including Kirby’s in the 1970s. And of course, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is the most famous of them all, but he simply took the name and completely reinvented the character as an immortal entity, also known as Morpheus and Dream. Wagner takes us back to the... Read More

The Time Museum by Matthew Loux

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The Time Museum, by Matthew Loux, is a graphic story with a nice premise, but neither the text nor the graphics fully exploited that premise, leaving me more than a little cold toward the final result.

The premise is relatively simple. Sometime in the far future, the Earth Time Museum was founded as “the most complete collection of the planet Earth’s geology, biology, art, culture, and history all under one big roof . . . To chronicle and preserve all the important things about this great planet.” That’s in the words of the museum’s founder and creator Lyndon Beckenbauer, “Uncle Lyndon” to the story’s main characte... Read More

Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker

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Batman: The Man Who Laughs (2005) #1 by Ed Brubaker

Ed Brubaker is one of the best writers in comics overall, and he is unquestionably the best writer of noir comics. Batman: The Man Who Laughs is a re-imagining of what Batman’s first encounter with the Joker might have been like. In the story, the Joker makes his presence known and tells Gotham that he will kill one-by-one prominent Gothamites. He even names the specific day and time of each death. After the first wealthy target — surrounded by police and watched covertly by Batman — dies precisely on time, the story builds in intensity, particularly once Joker announces a few more targets, and the last one is Bruce Wayne. This one-shot story is a good represe... Read More

Huck by Mark Millar

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Huck by Mark Millar

Huck is the feel-good action movie you’ve been waiting for, except it is a comic. Of course, as with many Millar comics, there are already rumors that Huck is heading for Hollywood, so you could wait to see it in the theaters. But, why wait?

Huck is an endearing character who is based on the Clark Kent model of the good-hearted, simple-minded, small town farm boy with superpowers. However, unlike Clark, Huck isn’t putting on a simple man act. That’s who he is. He works in a gas station, and he tries to do at least one good act of kindness a day. Not all of them even require being a superhero: He might pay for ... Read More

Artemis by George O’Connor

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Artemis by George O’Connor

Artemis is another in the ongoing series of graphic stories about the Greek gods written and illustrated by George O'Connor. The short version of this review is pretty simple: these works are individually nearly all excellent, and the series as a whole, while absolutely great for young readers (and for teachers of young students), is just as fantastic a read/resource for anyone interested in Greek mythology, regardless of age. One reason is that O'Connor doesn't simply retell the well-known stories, those we can all recite by heart. Rather he delves into much ... Read More

Indispensable Issues: Digital Comics on a Budget

Indispensable Issues: Digital Comics on a Budget

In this regularly updated column, I will be giving very brief plugs for digital comics that can be purchased on Comixology for $1 to $10 (along with a few free ones, too!). Over time, I want to build up a good list of affordable comics for those new to the art form or for those comic book fans who want to find hidden gems on Comixology.

I hope to feature plenty of independent comics, both new and old, though I will not avoid DC and Marvel. I merely won’t give them preference. Also, though I might include superhero comics, this list will reflect a wide variety of genres from the autobiographical to the western to SFF.

Here are my guidelines for inclusion in this column:

Great One-shots (“one-offs”)
Great First Issues
Free Comics
Great stand-alone single issues or great stand-alone short story arcs in the middle of a series
... Read More

Look Straight Ahead by Elaine M. Will

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Look Straight Ahead by Elaine M. Will

Over the years, I’ve found that more and more I seek out unique black-and-white comics that, most often, are written and drawn by female creators. And I have a particular interest in any books dealing with mental illness. For example, one of my favorite graphic novels is Ellen Forney’s Marbles, a memoir focusing on her learning to live with bipolar. I was pleased to find recently another book that addresses the topic of bipolar — Elaine M. Will’s Look Straight Ahead Read More

Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos by Marc Sumerak

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Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos by Marc Sumerak

Imagine a mash-up of Lonely Planet and Fodors written by a group of snarky been-there-done-that travelers and you’ve pretty much got Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos. As the title says, it’s a travel guide to the many settings of the Marvel Universe (sometimes the settings are a universe), with a jaunty-voiced narrator whose more formal guidebook descriptions are constantly interrupted by the less-formal commentary of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It all makes for a fast-paced, mildly informative, and often funny trip through the many, many... Read More

Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood

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Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas & Tamra Bonvillain

For a literary giant who is approached with a seriousness that borders on reverence, Margaret Atwood is perfectly willing to have fun and write whatever she wants. Sometimes that is clearly genre-tinged; sometimes it is darkly humorous, and sometimes it’s a graphic novel for children about a superhero who is part human, part cat and part owl. And that’s the premise of Angel Catbird, Volume 1.

Atwood’s story and words are illustrated by Johnnie Christmas and colored by Tamra Bonvillain. (I do wonder whether at least one of those surnames is a pseudonym.) Christmas’s images have a simple, comic-strip look to them. With a few exceptions, they reminded me of Kid Beowulf by Alexis Farjado. They’re at least in that style. Bonvillain nicely mixes color palettes... Read More