Archive for the ‘Reviews’


August 14, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Looking Ahead, Reviews

The Creep #0 collects a story from John Arcudi and Jonathan Case that was serialized in three issues of Dark Horse Presents.  For those who don’t like spending $7.99 for a comic, this is a fine way of readings some of the serials for the more affordable price of $2.99.  The issue also acts as a lead in to the upcoming The Creep four issue mini series.  While Arcudi is mostly known for his work on B.P.R.D., The Creep has little in common with that world of monsters and supernatural activity.

In fact, it’s very much rooted in a normal, everyday world.  That said, the main character Oxel Karnhus does have a genetic condition called acromegaly, where the human growth hormone is produced in excess and can cause physical deformities.  Oxel looks a bit like he could’ve been an old Dick Tracy villain, but the twist in this story is that he’s the protagonist.  Not only is he our hero, but he’s a private investigator.  It’s a clever reversal of archetypes, but that’s not the most notable aspect of this book.




August 07, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Important disclaimer: I am not an employee of IDW Publishing and I am not paid for my contributions to Heroesonline. So, bottom line: there is no bottom line, I do not get any money from extra copies of The Score that are sold thanks to a rave review. Here is another Bottom Line: If you are a fan of Crime Drama or Crime Fiction or Film Noir you must read Darwyn Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels. The first two, The Hunter and The Outfit were outstanding, I didn’t think they could get any better, and boy oh boy, am I excited to tell you that I could not have been more wrong!




August 02, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

My love for the character of Hawkeye is well documented in the annals of the Heroes blog, so I won’t bore you with repetition.  I will, however, mention that I’m not usually the kind of reader who will buy up every comic bearing the character’s name.  Hawkeye’s solo comics have been all over the map in terms of quality.  Hearing the news about the latest ongoing series brought some youthful reminiscence about how I’ve enjoyed the character, but also some understandably cautious optimism.  This is, after all, a Hawkeye book.




July 31, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Opinion, Reviews

We all know that Comic readership is essentially divided into two camps–the mainstream adventure genre devotees who hang out on the north side of the store and the Independent comic readers who huddle in the south-east corner under the shade of Manga Mountain.  Granted, there is a significant number of readers who saunter back and forth between the two enemy camps, but the majority of us prefer to stay put in our comfort zones.
Now I don’t read superhero stories very often.  I was once a huge fan in the mid to late eighties; then I ventured outside the Superhero Universe and into Indie Island.  Occasionally, some good folks recommend (insist actually) that I dip my toe back in the deep end of the spandex pool and suffice to say, most times I find the water quite refreshing.  So I want to see if I can return the favor to all you dedicated Cape and Mask folks out there.
Now on any given day and twice on Wednesday, we Indie folks do our evangelical best to get everyone and anyone to read Love and Rockets. It really is a great, great book, but perhaps a comic about the day to day struggles of an over-weight middle aged female apartment superintendent and her friends and ex-lovers is not for every taste.
But what if the talented Love and Rockets cartoonist, Jaime Hernandez, created an absolutely delightful superhero story filled with adventure, fun, and lots of pretty girls with tons of super-powers?

God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls is that book and it is one I wish every DC, Marvel and Image super-hero fan will pick up and read.

Now only a fool of a critic would describe a comic in such hyperbolic terms as “every single panel of every single page is chockful of artistic delights and clever storytelling”.  But you know me, so all I can say is, every single panel of every single page is chockful of artistic delights and clever storytelling.
In addition, God and Science spotlights one of the top five most attractive female characters in comic history*, Penny Century, as she struggles with her newly found super-powers and searches for her two missing (super) children.
The story is fun, exciting, fast paced and way over the top, but it is not a satire of superheroes. The difference between Jaime’s work and a genre parody is one of tone.  God and Science is a genuine love letter to super-hero comic books.
The theme of the book focuses on the importance of comic books in our lives, and Jaime drives this home by suspending our disbelief and taking us on a whirlwind ride.  It is a pure delight and I cannot recommend it any higher.

So for all you who are willing to give this little masterpiece a try, I’d just like to say (in advance)  …You’re very welcome! Enjoy!!

*--The other four most attractive characters are Dave Steven’s Bettie Page from The RocketeerJohn Romita‘s Gwen Stacy (or MJ), Darwyn Cooke’s Silk Satin and Steve Rude’s Sundra Peale from Nexus. Any list you come up with might equal, but can never beat this list.


July 09, 2012 By: Heather Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Reading The Underwater Welder brought several new experiences to me.  Not only was this the first time I’ve read non-superhero  comics by Jeff Lemire, but this was also my first digital graphic novel reading experience.  While I found Lemire’s art stunning on the screen, I can’t help but think the hard copy format will provide an even more poignant experience.

The Underwater Welder is the story of Jack and Susan Joseph, parents only weeks away from welcoming their first child into the world.  Jack takes a rather unusual course in preparing for the birth of his child and heads off to an oil rig for an underwater welding job instead of remaining home with his heavily pregnant wife. A seemingly supernatural occurrence on the ocean floor ends his assignment early, but furthers his distance from his wife and unborn son as it launches him on a journey of self-discovery tied into his relationship with his own father.

Lemire takes his readers on a strange and beautiful journey that will pull at your emotions regardless of your relationships with your own parents or children.  Within the pages of The Underwater Welder a black, white and gray world is created, adding depth and weight to the relationships of the characters and their surroundings. My words cannot do justice to the beauty of Lemire’s inks.  There is literal and figurative depth here, but also subtlety when it is needed.  As I mentioned, I haven’t read Lemire’s non-superhero comics before, but I’m curious to see how he’s grown over time, and where he might go next.

I’m very much looking forward to picking this book up in hard copy so that I may appreciate the splash pages the way they are meant to be enjoyed, side by side in their full glory.  Lemire puts so much soul in a what seems like a simple panel of a diver viewed underwater from afar.  He also accomplishes seamless transitions in both time and place as he progresses the story with a well-timed pace.  One of Lemire’s more striking pages combines images from our protagonist’s past and present as air bubbles surrounding a clearly panicked diver.

It’s always exciting to discover a new comic that manages to be a moving work regardless of how much or little you might know about the subject matter.  Comics like this provide a great opportunity to introduce non-comic readers to the potential of the medium.  Here’s a story about life experiences that most anyone can relate to, moving beyond the tights and capes that many non-comic readers struggle to overcome in their feelings about this medium.  Not only will The Underwater Welder be occupying a space on my shelf in August, but Lemire’s latest novel has inspired me to go back and read his earlier tomes as well.



January 10, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Opinion, Reviews

It’s me! Your erstwhile Comic Strip and Golden Age fanatic reporting to you live from the Poorhouse.   I find myself in these somewhat Dickensian straits thanks to the quality and quantity of must-have reprints that were published over the past 12 months.  I tell ya, I was like a kid in a Comics shop–oh wait...

Whilst preparing this article I calculated that I had purchased 46 Collected editions over the course of the calendar year and 33 of them were Comic Strip collections.  All 46 books are gorgeous–they look great on the shelf and they are a joy to read and re-read and they function as text books of comic technique.

I realize the World Economy–like the Chicago Cubs– is in another “re-building year“, so in good conscience, I have reviewed all the reprint books I purchased & devoured this past year and I have listed below the creme de la creme–this is the stuff you really have to have:

  • Mickey Mouse Vol 1 and 2 Race to Death Valley/Trapped on Treasure Island
  • Walt and Skeezix Volume 5
  • Carl Barks Donald Duck in Lost in the Andes
  • Pogo Volume 1

But why these four?

Hyperbole is all but redundant on any Best-Of Lists.  Any apropos description– fantastic art/great pacing/fabulous cast of supporting characters/marvelous storytelling– comes off as tired and cliched.  I have spent the last two weeks trying to figure out why these four are the best of the year–why they mean so much to collectors on a gut level– here goes: (more…)



January 04, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Looking Ahead, Opinion, Reviews

If superhero books in 2011 largely focused on both sweeping company-wide changes and numerous relaunches, what can we say about indie and genre books of the recently past year?  A few years ago the industry was rightly blown away by the genius work of David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp.  2011 didn’t necessarily have a single book that was hands down an instant classic, but if you had to choose one book that impacted the industry, it was Love and Rockets: New Stories volume 4Jaime Hernandez has been telling the story of Maggie and her friends in real time for over 30 years, always entertaining us with how he has chosen to develop his characters, always impressing us with his ever-focused art.  Volume 4 was one of the first times I can remember where creators and fans were open about how emotionally moved they were by a comic.  This is a tribute to Hernandez’s ability to tell stories that are not only practical and appropriate, but also unafraid to themselves be actively emotional in an unforced way.  If you’ve not experienced Love and Rockets before, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  This is genuinely one of the finest comics of 2011.

Elsewhere in “Indie” books of 2011 we saw the long awaited release of Craig Thompson’s Habibi.  A book nearly 8 years in the making, Habibi was a powerful statement from an artist who has spent his career constantly pushing his own boundaries and the boundaries of the comics form.  Standing tall at over 650 pages, Habibi exemplifies the work of a still hungry artist who is not content to fall into repeating patterns.  While Habibi was rightly controversial, any person would be hard pressed to walk away from reading the book without a greater sense of respect for Thompson as a creator and the potential of comics as a whole.

Unlike Thompson, Dan Clowes is an artist who has regularly released new comics every few years.  2011 was one of Clowes’ most prolific years to date.  Following up 2010’s acclaimed Wilson, Clowes offered up Mister Wonderful, which can be seen as a bookend of sorts to Wilson, or perhaps the flip side of the Wilson coin.  In addition to Mister Wonderful, Clowes released a deluxe, expanded version of his classic The Death-Ray, which contains one of the most interesting explorations of the superhero genre we’ve seen from a non-superhero artist.

Big Questions was finally released in a single format this past year.  Collecting all ten years and 600+ pages of work from Anders Nilsen, Big Questions is a great example of an artist’s development over a decade.  It’s also one of modern comics finest examples of the employment of fable as a commentary on humanity.  Nilsen’s magnum opus was always well received as it was released in single issue format, but there’s something about seeing and experiencing the completed book in a single published volume that makes you realize how significant the book is to comics of the past decade.

On the non-Indie genre side of things, one of the biggest stories of 2011 was the success of AMC’s Walking Dead t.v. series.  What does a t.v. show have to do with comics in 2011?  Suffice to say, the television adaptation and reworking of Image’s Walking Dead comic brought lots of new readers into comic shops, many undoubtedly for the first time.  I’m still surprised when someone comes into the store to buy a gift for a niece or nephew, sees a Walking Dead collection, and remarks ‘Wow, they made a comic of the show?’  Numerous people who realized the comics came first have subsequently made return trips to the store to continue reading Robert Kirkman’s monthly comics.  The Walking Dead phenomenon has brought up some interesting prospects for television and comics, and how the two mediums can work together to inform new audiences.

One of 2011’s other significant genre happenings had to be Mike Mignola’s decision to kill off his ever popular character Hellboy.  While Hellboy will continue in 2012 in the Mignola-penned and illustrated “Hellboy in Hell” storyline, the creator has spoken about how important it is to allow characters and stories to develop, change, and grow over time.  He has always made a point of stating that when characters in his books die, they stay dead.  It’s a testament to Mignola that he works hard to eschew creative stagnation by allowing ideas and themes to run their course.  One need only look at Mignola’s numerous other properties like B.P.R.D., Lobster Johnson, and the Amazing Screw On Head to see that his work always operates within this dictum.  Fans have been clamoring for more Amazing Screw On Head stories,but he won’t make them because he feels that he already achieved what he hoped to within the one book.  These books are also exemplary of how Mignola surrounds himself with quality storytellers and lets the characters progress in their natural state.  When a creator cares more about staying true to his characters and stories than he does about regurgitating material, the industry is all the better for it.

As with my post about superhero comics in 2011, there were just far too many indie and genre books to talk about here.  Many others made a big impact on readers and the industry as a whole.  So, what indie and genre books from 2011 really impressed you?  Did you discover a new creator whose works you’ve gone on to seek out?  With 2012 just starting, are there any big indie or genre books coming out this year that you’re excited about?  This is your blog too, and we’d love to hear your thoughts!



January 03, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, EVENTS, Opinion, Reviews, Slice of Life

Santa must have been some-what disillusioned or at the very least pre-occupied this Holiday season, because I landed quite an unexpected haul this year.  My stocking runneth over with all kinds of comic book goodies.  Here is a just a brief summation of my first official time on the Nice List:

Marvel Masterworks The Inhumans Volume 1— a gorgeous reprinting of the Lee/Kirby Inhumans back-up series for Thor, followed by the short but fabulous Kirby and then Neal Adams(!) runs from the gone-but not-forgotten Amazing Adventures.

The Late, Great Joe Simon.

Simon and Kirby Library: The Superheroes-– this book– by itself– is a must have for all comic fans, The complete Fighting American, 3-D man and Stuntman (whoa!) are worth the price of admission.  But my copy was signed by the late, great Joe Simon, by our pal and series editor Steve Saffel (Happy Birthday, Steve!) and also by Neil Gaiman who wrote the Intro. Dang–I hope Santa isn’t on the Heroes mailing list because if he reads this he will realize his mistake and make a surprise January visit to replace this gem with some socks or maybe a nice scarf.

The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all-time.  This book is the result of a poll taken by over 1000 professional cartoonists.  It is a great book!  I have spent the last few days scouring Netflix and amazon in search of these celluloid classics. (#1 is What’s Opera, Doc)   Thank God that Heroes is the kind of Comic Shop that offers a variety of books like this in addition to their ample stock of Usual Suspects!

An Iron Man Spatula from Williams-Sonoma.  It makes Waffles that have Zero Trans(istor) Fats. Also, Captain America/Spider-man/Hulk Head cookies from Sur Le Table. My wife (a civilian!) claims all three cookie heads tasted the same, but I know the Cap Cookies were the tastiest!)

Christmas is always so much more fun when you get Comic related gifts!

So my question for Heroes United (sounds like a Soccer team doesn’t it?) is–

Share with us:  What did you get this Uncanny X-mas???



January 02, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: Comics Industry, DISCUSS, Looking Ahead, Opinion, Reviews

It recently dawned on me that I’ve written almost every Spotlight on New Releases column since July of 2010.  That’s almost a year and 1/2 of writing about new comics every week for readers of our Heroes Blog.  The biggest lesson I’ve gleaned from this experience is the idea that as a comics reader and critic it’s really important to maintain one’s joy and passion for our industry and hopefully encourage the same in our readers and customers.

Every week there are hundreds of books released, and there won’t always be something groundbreaking or revolutionary hitting the stands.  However, there are always books throughout a given month that entertain us or encourage us to think beyond the scope of our personal experience.  As readers it’s no crime to comment on things we wish were better in comics.  In fact, if you’ve been reading a title or following a character for a few decades, you have a lot invested in comics and should speak your mind.  Let’s remember that we all participate in a truly unique medium where on a weekly basis the opportunity still exists for us to be reminded of the inherent joy that exists within the pages of a comic book.  So with that thought, here are a few things about DC and Marvel comics in 2011 that I believe warrant reflection.

It would be wrong to talk about 2011 without first mentioning the DC reboot.  A gamble on many fronts, DC really took a chance when they decided to restart all of their titles.  The reality of the situation is that DC needed to do something different to try to increase their sales after years of turning in numbers behind Marvel.  They did garner lots of national media coverage for their event, and we did see many new faces excited about comics find their way into our store.  There have already been some concerns about how DC would be maintaining the quality and regularity of creative teams and storylines, but that’s to be expected.  Like it or not, the company did manage to refurbish some of their properties, and whether or not you agree with the strategy or enjoy some of the books, some really entertaining comics were produced.  In Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, Justice League brought two fan favorite creators to the biggest of books and did so with a wide-reaching effect. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman reminded many of us that this is a character who deserves to have talented creators working hard to tell her stories, and that when they do, good comics are inevitable.  Other books like Animal Man and Swamp Thing found a nice balance between horror and mainstream comics, and continue to build toward memorable stories.  The goal for everyone is to see DC do well, have strong creators on titles, and bring in new readership.  If this happens, everyone can benefit.

Marvel Comics had a bit of an unusual year.  DC clearly grabbed the most headlines for their reboot, but Marvel always seems to have a longterm plan, and certainly has multiple film properties to capitalize upon.  Like DC they offered up several new #1 issues with the goal of reaching new readership.  In some cases, as with Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Marcos Martin’s Daredevil #1, Marvel found a solid creative team who managed to tell some great stories by steering the character away from his typical grim and gritty fare, and back toward some of his more swashbuckling roots.  No, this isn’t a reinvention of the wheel, but it is a good, fun comic that more and more readers are starting to enjoy.

Marvel probably grabbed their biggest headlines with their controversial decision to kill of the Ultimate version of Peter Parker/Spider-man.  Regardless of what you think of this decision, the idea that they then introduced a new Spider-man who might reach a wider range of readers is an exciting prospect.  If comics can’t reach a new, young readership base then the industry will continue to change in increasingly dramatic ways over the next decade.  The effort to gain new readers is also a reason for this year’s breaking of the X-men into two separate schools of thought.  With a lineup in Uncanny X-men consisting of darker, more villainous characters like Magneto, Namor, Emma Frost, and a Juggernaut-powered Colossus, and a younger, more lively bunch of mutants being headmastered by Wolverine in Wolverine and the X-men, Marvel has offered up two distinct X books for readers with very different sensibilities.  The latter has also given us some of the year’s most entertaining superhero comics, and has offered writer Jason Aaron an opportunity to explore a different kind of book than he has previously written.  By the same token, with Uncanny X-force Marvel has maintained and grown a steadfast audience for a mutant-centric book that doesn’t quite read or look like X-titles of the past.

Whatever you might take away from comics in 2011, it’s worth noting that like with almost anything in art there can be strong, entertaining possibilities if you look hard enough.  If you find a comic that moves you or offers up great escapism, support it by buying it and encouraging your friends to give it a try.  If you’re unhappy with a book you might have read for a long time, don’t be afraid to put it down for awhile and look for something new.  There are plenty of  books well worth your time and money.  The important thing to me is that we all do our best to try to be positive about our industry, encourage new readership, and support writers and artists who are focused on producing quality comics.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg.  Both companies had plenty more worth mentioning this year, and we’d like to hear from you about what you think.  What DC or Marvel books really impressed you this year?  What book did you buyon a whim and then proceed to pick up every month thereafter?  What are some things in 2012 that you’d like to see, or might be looking forward to?



December 14, 2011 By: Andy Mansell Category: Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, Reviews

So what are the two best comic books on the market today? How the heck should I know? I only read a handful of monthly titles.  However, there are two that are out and about that you may not be reading, but you really, really should!

First up is SNARKED by our good friend from down-under (that’s New Zealand, not Greenville) Roger Langridge. This is an on-it’s-head retelling of the adventures of the Walrus and the Carpenter characters from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. In addition to being a well paced, fun, exciting comic adventure–it has something to do with a missing King, an eight year old Queen and of course, a map! Langridge is a master craftsman who is incapable of drawing a panel without adding a ton of funny details. Even the letter page is a hoot-and-a-half.  The Walrus is the best comic scoundrel since J. Wellington Wimpy and believe me, that is saying something! You’ve been hearing us rave about Roger for years. If you missed his version of The Muppets, or his Fin Fang Foom or his vastly underrated Thor the Mighty Avenger, please give SNARKED a try. You won’t be sorry.

As a cartoonist, Langridge is a tough act to follow, but I know of one other cartoonist who can. Sergio Aragonés, the man responsible for MAD Marginals and of course Groo the Wanderer, displays all of his comic talents in the monthly Sergio Aragonés Funnies. This is a great comic artist still in his prime. Each issue is packed with jokes, skits, puzzles and some surprisingly moving stories from his rather picaresque past. Five issues have been published so far and I can’t tell you which is my favorite.  It is a five way tie for first! You can pick up any issue and read it in any order. Please do so, you will be glad you did.

PS–Did I mention that Sergio will be at HeroesCon 2012?? To quote Syndrome (arch enemy of The Incredibles) “Oho man, this is just too good!”