Archive for the ‘Opinion’


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 4.  Jaime 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?



November 07, 2011 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Opinion, Reviews

I admit it: I’ve never read 100 Bullets. I’m a casual fan of the crime genre, and have a bad habit of trade-waiting with long running, highly acclaimed series. Given its status from even its earliest issues, 100 Bullets would always be available, so the urge to be current was never insistent. But the team of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso is rightly celebrated, I know, from their Batman work in both Batman: Black and White and Wednesday Comics. Now, Vertigo launches a new Azzarello/Risso collaboration, a perfect gateway for the uninitiated such as myself: Spaceman #1.

Spaceman is another genre turn for the pair: science fiction. Like crime, sci-fi can offer scope within its very clear limitations. As a writer, Azzarello seems to understand these limitations, and deftly avoids them. Rather than dwell on expository schema of the world and times of Spaceman, Azzarello simply implies them through the dialogue and backgrounds. This does result in a somewhat disjointed first read, but upon closer inspection the frustration turns to intrigue. The entire issue is borne of a complex intelligence that is serviceable, not flaunted. It’s nearly impenetrable, but highly inviting.

Luckily Risso brings with him a rare chemistry, matching the script beat for beat with mood and atmosphere. His style exhibits wonderful flashes of Mignola, Ba and Fegredo, while maintaining an identity all its own. Virtuosity is eschewed in favor of storytelling, with nice layout variance and a solid underpinning of the story’s futuristic set pieces. Risso’s art sidesteps the cliche gloss that a lot of sci-fi yarns get sprayed on them, too, achieving a grit that roots the fantastic in realism, reminiscent of another genre cousin, the western.

Spaceman wouldn’t be as appealing without the contributions of colorists Patricia Mulvihill and Giulia Brusco. Their palette straddles the fine line between muted and vibrant, filling the linework in an attractive way that conveys the necessary chilliness. Even the reds seem cold. Ace letterer Clem Robins ties everything together with his expert, organic approach, lending this fresh, modern comic the timeless design it deserves. A Dave Johnson cover never hurts anything.

Overall, Spaceman is an imposing book, from its grotesque protagonist (a dead ringer for Mr. Hyde from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) to its bizarre slang (a la the Mutant gang in Dark Knight Returns). But what the best writers and artists in comics seem to do is take these familiar tropes, and twist, and pull, and stretch and beat them into something that seems wholly new. That’s exactly what you’ll get from Spaceman, if you have the patience: a new take on an old favorite. Whether it’s the genre or the talent, the hooks are there, deliciously baited.  So don’t wait…cashiers are standing by!


REVIEW :: B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth-New World #1 – 5

January 17, 2011 By: Heroes Online Category: DISCUSS, Opinion, Reviews

What does Hell on Earth mean?  In terms of publishing, it’s Mike Mignola giving an official name to the series’ next uber-arc.  All the B.P.R.D. material to this point has been retroactively dubbed Plague of Frogs and will be re-collected under that title, in snazzy, reasonably priced hardcovers forthcoming.  Hell on Earth is the landscape of the series now.  Hell IS on Earth now.  Crazy Guy Davis-drawn monsters are running amok cutting swaths of destruction across the world.  The B.P.R.D., now a U.N. sanctioned organization, finds their jobs harder than ever and not just because of the monsters.  Because they are U.N. sanctioned, they have more to answer for and are constantly hamstrung in getting the job done.

The neat thing about all of it is that information I just splayed out for you is delivered subtly in the book.  It’s all background or hinted upon or briefly mentioned at the most.  John Arcudi and Mignola world building through atmosphere but different than how they usually do.  This is an emotional landscape more so than the Gothic/Horror/Strange landscapes that they usually build for us.  A landscape of frustration as the world is ripped asunder.  The frustration of being able to do more and accomplishing nothing.  The B.P.R.D., when they most need to stick together, is falling apart.

The main plot is more concerned with Abe Sapien and a former B.P.R.D. regular cast member hunting down the source of a plague that is turning a small town into possessed monsters.  When the source is discovered it is devastating in its human element and twisted because of it.  I won’t give it away.

I haven’t forgotten though, and it would be stupid of me to ignore, that this is a comic book about killing monsters and when it comes time to do that between the in-fighting and campfire conversations about survival, it delivers.  The action centerpiece in issue #3 is the most scrumptious of chase-fights.  Abe is at the wheel of a pick-up truck and Ben Daimio is in the back with box full of guns and grenades fighting/being chased by a big black mega-demon thing. The art of the action sequence sometimes seems lost in this modern day of freely used double splashes.  A proper action scene takes into account setting and geography, the physical proximity between characters and their surroundings.  The progression of panels must flow in such a way that those things interact with each while showing the passage of time properly freezing momentum at its most dynamic but also most information conveying.  It is such a delicate balance.  Guy Davis with his deceptively scratch style accomplishes it and makes it look easy.

You’ve heard the buzz now is the best time to get in on one of the finest of monthly comics.



January 07, 2011 By: Heroes Online Category: DISCUSS, Opinion

This, the fourth and final category, was definitely the hardest for me to compile. There are so many awesome ongoing series being published right now that it was nigh impossible for me to choose just ten. For the most part the series that I picked are brand, spanking new. I guess those stood out to me the most because they are fresher than longer running ongoing series. Some of the runners-up include House of Mystery, Fables, Zatanna, Buffy, Muppet Show and Fantastic Four. There was no question about what #1 would be, but the rest of them were difficult to rank. I would love to hear what your favorites of 2010 were, so let me know in the comments section!

1 ) Thor The Mighty Avenger

2 ) American Vampire

3 ) Sixth Gun

4 ) iZombie

5 ) Stuff of Legend

6 ) S.H.I.E.L.D. (Marvel)

7 ) Darkwing Duck

8 ) Black Panther The Man Without Fear

9 ) Detective Comics

10 ) Action Comics



January 07, 2011 By: Heroes Online Category: DISCUSS, Opinion

Hello again and welcome to the third installment of Shawn’s Favorites of 2010! This category is for my favorite mini-series that either began or ended in 2010. There were a ton of minis that just barely made the cut, I’m looking at you Baltimore Plague Ships. There were just too many awesome mini-series that came out last year and it was difficult to choose just 10 that were my favorites. Here are the ones that made the list, ranked in order with #1 being my absolute favorite.

1 ) Daytripper

2 ) Joe The Barbarian

3 ) Marvelous Land of Oz

4 ) Mystery Society

5 ) Avengers Children’s Crusade

6 ) Strange Tales II

7 ) Meta 4

8 ) Strange Science Fantasy

9 ) Heralds

10 ) Cars Adventures of Tow Mater



January 06, 2011 By: Heroes Online Category: DISCUSS, Opinion

Welcome back to my list of favorites from 2010! This is the category for best comic collection of new material. It could be a trade paperback, a hardcover or a digest-sized book. The only thing is, it has to be all-new material. This was a tough category for me. There were so many awesome books that came out in 2010. If I look back on this in a week or so I might think differently but right now these are my top 10 favorites. Again, I ranked them in order of most-favorite to least-most-favorite. My list is highly debatable so if you disagree with me let me know what your favorites are. Here we go!

1 ) Afrodisiac HC

2 ) Set To Sea HC

3 ) Duncan The Wonder Dog TP

4 ) Loverboy TP/HC

5 ) Crogan’s March HC

6 ) Return of the Dapper Men HC

7 ) Bodyworld HC

8 ) Richard Stark’s Parker The Outfit HC

9 ) Scott Pilgrim vol 6 Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

10 ) Neil Young’s Greendale HC



January 06, 2011 By: Heroes Online Category: DISCUSS, Opinion

As we say hello to 2011 I am looking back on 2010. This is the first of four posts listing my top 10 favorite comics of 2010. Allow me to clarify things a bit. My top 10 lists are highly subjective and so instead of calling them the best I decided to call them my favorites. Plus, I feel like I haven’t read a lot of the books that would be considered the best of 2010 (like Wilson, X’ed Out and Market Day). I kept my list to books that I bought and I kept the list true to my taste. This category is for my favorite trades or hardcovers that collected previously released material. I included Adam Hughes‘s art book in this category because it does include previously published work and because the Original Content TP/HC category was overflowing with contestants. Each category is ranked in order from most-favorite to least-most-favorite. I really want to hear what your favorites are so please let me know in the comments section!

1 ) Wednesday Comics HC

2 ) Beasts of Burden HC

3 ) Batwoman Elegy HC

4 ) Muppet Show On the Road TP

5 ) Mouse Guard Legends of the Guard HC

6 ) Simon and Kirby Superheroes HC

7 ) Cover Run The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes HC

8 ) Cinderella From Fabletown with Love TP

9 ) John Stanley Library Melvin Monster HC vol 2

10 ) Toy Story TP vol 1 Return of Buzz Lightyear



January 04, 2011 By: Heroes Online Category: DISCUSS, Looking Ahead, Opinion

A sampling from the most recent Previews catalog of what looks like a winner in the month of March! All books are available for pre-order at your local shop (that’s us)!

War of the Green Lanterns – Well here it is the next big Green Lantern thing.  A crossover between all three Green Lantern ongoing books: Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Emerald Warriors.  If you’ve been reading any or all of these books since Brightest Day started you can put together what puts the Corps at civil war with one another. If not, this crew is pretty good at catching up the audience for the big story (i.e. Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night).  Day-glo punches will abound!  Pgs 68-70

Jimmy Olsen #1 – This has been a most excellent back-up running in Action Comics the last few months.  With the back-up program kyboshed at DC they’ve done the service of collecting all that material with the unpublished strips here in this nifty 80 page one-shot.  Crazy, quirky, and always ready to swerve delightfully with its cliffhangers, this is a gem to look forward too. Pg 93

Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #1 – Joe Casey, bless his heart, is never afraid to be ambitious and never afraid that he’ll fall short on what he’s trying to say.  Dude has Ben 10 money and therefore carte blanche to make whatever comics he feels like.  With Mike Huddleston (vastly underrated), he takes on the waning years of a former patriotic superhero…like Dark Knight Returns and Captain America, just as violent and with way more sex.  It’ll be fascinating to see what he has to say about America and age among other things. Pg 168

Daniel Clowes’ Mister Wonderful: A Love Story – First serialized in the New York Times Magazine Daniel Clowes’ new story is finally collected here with new pages.  The story centers around your usual hopeless case Clowes protagonist and his blind date and the things they go through on that trying date.  It’s Clowes and if you’ve read Clowes you know what this is going to read like and if you haven’t why not give this a shot?  Pg 303

New Character Parade GN – Johnny Ryan is as raw and nasty as comics get. This is a new collection of his gag strips which will surely be as nasty, mean, and on-point in what it is saying as his past material.  I love it. Pg 303

Venom #1 – I’m surprised I am putting this here.  Kudos to Rick Remender for finding a new hook to the character, a black-ops weapon of the extreme variety, and God bless him for putting Tony Moore on it who draws monsters good and junk.  Remender did X-Force right, of all things, so he may be the savior of 90s properties here in the 2010’s. Marvel Pg 1

Fear Itself: Prologue – Comics didn’t hit the 100,000 orders mark a bunch of times this year and so comes the return of the line-wide event.  Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton are kicking it off with a set-up one-shot set in WWII and about the Red Skull.  Marvel Pg 16

Captain America #615.1/616 – Of the slew of Captain America stuff hitting for the movie and the character’s 70th Anniversary, it’s the main book that appears to have the most interesting material.  #615.1 is another of Marvel’s jumping on point issues with art by the amazing Mitch Breitweiser who was born to draw Cap.  Then #616 is a 104 page monster 70th anniversary spectacular and it appears entirely new material by smorgasbord of really talented folk and a Travis Charest cover that’s so beautiful you’ll cry. Marvel Pgs 22-23

Annihilators #1 – Break it down:  the cosmic universe of Dan Abnett and  Andy Lanning is continuing here in a mini-series that’s half a 22-page story staring the likes of the Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Billy, and Quasar and half a 22-page story starring Rocket Raccoon and Groot (who are awesome).  The book retails for $4.99 and when you break that down into its two halves that’s $2.50 an issue for two very high quality products.  Veerrrrry nice. Marvel Pg. 42


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