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Supurbia #1 and the over-analogued superhero industry

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen—specifically Alan Moore’s side of it—was Topic A in comics circle for a few weeks after DC announced Before Watchmen a while back (10 years, in blog time). During that time, one of the many “arguments” anonymous online commenters were making against Moore’s expression that he wishes DC wasn’t doing Before Watchmen was that since the work featured characters somewhat inspired by the DC-owned Charlton characters, he should therefore be cool with DC continuing to exploit them.

Moore and Watchmen and that argument were all quite present in my mind while reading Supurbia #1, or Grace Randolph’s Supurbia, as it appears on the cover of the issue. The premise is “superhero Desperate Housewives,” and that premise is so strong in the first issue you can practically hear that very pitch ringing in your ears as you read.

The super-people are all obvious and, in the first issue at least, barely-extrapolated-from analogues of DC (and two Marvel) superheroes: Sovereign, the caped demigod in constant Superman Is A Dick-mode; Night Fox, billionaire playboy with an underground cave lair; Batu, warrior woman from an ancient culture of warrior women; Cosmic Champion, current member of the Cosmic Corps who inherited his mantle; and patriotic super-soldier Marine Omega and his grown-up sidekick, Bulldog.

It may simply be symptomatic of my having been reading superhero comic books for too long now, but when by the time writer Grace Randolph and her artist partner Russell Dauterman introduced the third obvious analogue, I started sighing. Moore didn’t invent the use of analogues, of course—Marvel and DC were using thinly veiled versions of one another’s characters to comment on them for fans’ sakes at least as far back as the last Silver Age—but Watchmen sure made the strategy more present for the generation of comics creators and readers that followed that work.

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Food or Comics? | Empowered or empanadas

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Orc Stain #7

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d grab with two hands the new issue of Orc Stain #7 (Image, $2.99). Stokoe is one of the few people in mainstream comics blending storytelling in art and writing seamlessly, creating an organic piece of work that’s as good to eat as some of the fictional food he presents in the book. Spaceman #4 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) has, in its short run, showed the best of what can be done at Vertigo and is pretty exhilarating, especially if you re-read it from the beginning. After that I’d pick up my regular double-shot: Invincible #89 (Image, $2.99) and Walking Dead #94 (Image, $2.99), and then top it off with The Twelve #10 (Marvel, $2.99). I’m appreciative Marvel and the creators saw fit to see it through, and the story’s all the better for it.

If I had $30, I’d go all company-owned super heroes. Avengers #23 (Marvel, $3.99) for the continuing fight against HYDRA by Brian Michael Bendis and Daniel Acuna. Acuna’s really (finally) had a chance to blossom on this book and I hope he sees it through for a good long while. After that I’d get FF #15 (Marvel, $2.99), which has silently outstripped Fantastic Four in my book; the added bonus for this issue particularly is seeing artist Nick Dragotta on this book. I’d wrap it all up with Batman Beyond Unlimited #1 (DC, $3.99). I’ll admit I missed out on the complete fervor of Batman Beyond, but I’m excited by Dustin Nguyen and Adam Beechen’s work and the possibilities of them taking on a future rendition of Batman and the JLA.

And if I could splurge, I’d check out the overlooked Key Of Z TPB (Boom!, $14.99). New York City street warfare told against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse? Sounds like my kind of book. Newcomer artist Aaron Kuder’s got an interesting style that I’d been meaning to check out, and this gives me just that chance.

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Food or Comics? | Raspberry RASL

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Dark Horse Presents #9

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start out with Prophet #22 (Image, $2.99) by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; it’s an Old West pioneering comic set on an alien world. Next up would be my favorite comic from Marvel these days, Uncanny X-Force #22 (Marvel, $3.99). Remender was raised on Claremont-era X-Men, and this is excavating the intricacies of Captain Briton and late ’80s Excalibur comics for Otherworld, Jamie Braddock and a swashbuckling Nightcrawler. Last up with my $15 bounty would be A Long Day Of Mr. James – Teacher (Blank Slate, $7.99). A great looking piece of cartooning from an artist, Harvey James, I’m looking to learn more about.

If I had $30, I’d double back and first pick up Dark Horse Presents #9 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Seriously, this is the comic that some fans were hoping for several years back: one book containing new stories from Paul Pope, Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson… and pin-ups by Geoff Darrow? Seriously, I second-guess any comics fan I meet who isn’t buying this. Next up would be Wolverine and The X-Men #6 (Marvel, $3.99) by Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw. Seeing Wolverine and Kid Omega going to an outer space casino sounds like everything the X-Men haven’t been in over two decades, but I’m liking it. I can only hope they run into Lila Cheney. Lastly, I’d pick up Jeff Smith’s RASL #13 (Cartoon Books, $3.50). The last issue was history-heavy focusing on Tesla, so I hope this one is bit more kinetic.

If I could splurge, I’d go back for a second Blank Slate book—Hector Umbra (Blank Slate, $26.99). I’ve heard nothing about cartoonist Uli Oesterle, but after seeing the preview on Blank Slate’s website I’m kicking myself. Long story short, DJ kidnapped during his set (at Robot Mitchum nightclub no less, best club name ever), and his friend Hector Umbra, an artist-turned-detective, goes after him. Some people compare Oesterle’s art to Mignola,but I see some Paul Grist in there as well.

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Food or Comics? | Hades or haddock

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

Graeme McMillan

It had to happen; I’m so uninspired by this week’s offerings, I’d skip the $15 altogether and go straight for the $30 option, which I’d spend on the Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Premiere Edition Vol. 1 HC (Marvel, $24.99); I ended up skipping out on the single issues after #3 because of the price, but I enjoyed it enough that I’d happily pick up the collection.

If I were looking to splurge even more than that, there’s also the Spider-Man: Spider-Island Companion HC (Marvel, $39.99), which gives me a chance to catch up on the peripheral titles from the recent event; I picked up the Spider-Girl series, but missed out on the well-reviewed Cloak and Dagger and other books.

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

Brigid Alverson

You know who is getting a lot of my money this week? Abrams, that’s who: I’m going two for two on their releases this week.

If I had $15, I’d keep it all-ages, with their Explorer: Mystery Box anthology, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, who was also responsible for the Flight anthologies, so you know the talent lineup will be stellar. At $10.95, the paperback edition won’t break the bank, and it’s a good deal for 128 pages of full-color comics. That leaves just enough for issue #5 of Roger Langridge’s Snarked ($3.99).

If I had $30, I’d put Snarked back on the shelf and pick up another Abrams book with a more adult subject: My Friend Dahmer ($17.95 for the paperback). Derf Backderf went to school with Jeffrey Dahmer; one grew up to be a cartoonist, one became a serial killer. I’m always interested in how people evolve, and by all accounts, Backder’s story of the young Dahmer is fascinating.

Splurge: A big pile of manga! This is Viz’s big release week for comics stores, and they have a lot of worthy titles: Vol. 19 of Naoki Urasawa’s outstanding 20th Century Boys, vol. 6 of the lovely pseudo-historical shoujo drama The Story of Saiunkoku ($9.99), vol. 9 of the I-want-to-be-a-mangaka drama Bakuman ($9.99), and the first volume of a new series about a sassy girl in a new school, The Devil and Her Love Song ($9.99). There are some weeks when I can barely figure out how to spend any money at all, but between Abrams and Viz and BOOM!, this week really does bring an embarrassment of riches.

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Food or Comics? | Conan the barberryan

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Thief of Thieves #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start with Thief of Thieves #1 (Image/Skybound, $2.99). The gang at Skybound gave me an advance PDF of this issue, and I like it so much I want to hold the physical thing in my hands. Shawn Martinbrough really nails this first issue, and Nick Spencer really puts his Marvel work to shame with this story. Next up I’d get my favorite DC Book – Batwoman #6 (DC, $2.99) – and favorite Marvel book – Wolverine and The X-Men #5 ($3.99). I’d finish it all up with Northlanders #48 ($2.99). I’m not the biggest fan of Danijel Zezelj’s work, but I can’t let up now to see my long-running commitment to Northlanders falter at this point.

If I had $30, I’d dig into Richard Corben’s Murky World one-shot (Dark Horse, $3.50). Corben’s one of those “will-buy-no-matter-what” artists for me that Tom Spurgeon recently focused on, and this looks right up my alley. Next up I’d get Secret Avengers #22 (Marvel, $3.99) because Remender’s idea of robot descendents intrigues me, and then Wolverine and The X-Men: Alpha and Omega (Marvel, $3.99). I didn’t know what to expect from the first issue, and after reading it I still don’t know where this series is heading – but I like it so far. Finally, I’d get Haunt #21 (Image, $2.99). The combination of Joe Casey & Nathan Fox is like a secret code to open my wallet.

If I could splurge, I’d take the graphic novel Jinchalo (D+Q, $17.95) by Matthew Forsythe. I loved his previous book Ojingogo, and this looks to continue in that hit parade.

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Food or Comics? | Winter squash or Winter Soldier?

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-man: Artist's Edition

Graeme McMillan

Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?

If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.

When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.

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Previews: What Looks Good for March

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.

Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Abrams Comicarts

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]

Abstract Studios

Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]

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Peanuts for peanuts

No one needs to hear me speak of the virtues of Charles Schulz’ s Peanuts, one of the greatest comic strips and one of the greatest long-form narrative works of art of any medium. Plenty of much smarter people who can communicate much more clearly and cleverly than I have already done that in plenty of different places.

And the fact that so many newspapers continue to re-run old strips of Schulz’s so long after his death instead of filling that valuable (to cartoonists) space with something—anything—else is about as eloquent expression of the regard Schulz is held in as anything I could pound out in a few sentences here.

Do note that, when Schulz passed away, no descendant of his or hand-picked assistant/apprentice took over the strip for him—Peanuts not produced by Schulz was apparently judged so wrong it wouldn’t even be attempted, better to just have folks re-read older strips than attempt new ones by someone else.

That was a big part of the reason I was so shocked when Boom Studios announced a new ongoing Peanuts comic book series on their Kaboom kids imprint. They had previously produced an original graphic novel based on a new animated special which itself was pieced together from Schulz strips—last spring’s Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown—but this seemed like something pretty different. It wasn’t a media tie-in or a one-off lark project, it was going to be something rather sustained.

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Food or Comics? | Prophet profiteroles

Prophet #21

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d avoid Marvel and DC altogether and go for some more independent offerings. Top of the pile would definitely be Prophet #21 (Image, $2.99), Brandon Graham’s much-anticipated revamp of the Rob Liefeld book from the mid-90s, recreated (with artist Simon Roy) as some kind of Heavy Metal fever dream; I’m a massive fan of Graham’s, and excited to see what he can come up with when he tries to play it (relatively) straight. I’d also grab Dynamite’s Kirby Genesis: Dragonbane #1 ($3.99), another spin-off from the Busiek/Ross/Herbert series this time focusing on the almost Thor-analog warrior, and IDW’s Memorial #2 ($3.99), continuing the urban fantasy series that I enjoyed so much last month. Lastly, I’d grab the cheap relaunch for Antony Johnston’s Wasteland (#33, Oni, $1.00); I’ve really enjoyed this post-apocalyptic world building book for awhile, but this relaunch – which will return the book to a monthly schedule as well as debut new artist Justin Greenwood – looks set to be a good jumping-on point for those who’ve never sampled its charms before.

If I had $30, I’d be likely to put Dragonbane back on the shelf and try out Marvel’s Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery Premiere HC collection ($19.99) instead. Not having been a fan of Matt Fraction’s Thor, I skipped the first few issues of this and then, by the time I kept hearing great things and realized I actually really enjoy Kieron Gillen’s writing, it was far enough into the run that I knew I’d end up waiting for the collection. Color me cautiously optimistic.

When it comes to splurging, my love of comics from around when I was born rears its ugly head again, and I find myself drawn to Marvel Firsts: 1970s Vol. 1 TP (Marvel, $29.99). This is possibly my favorite era from the House of Ideas, so the idea of an anthology of some of its weirdest hits sounds right up my alley.

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Robot 6 Q&A | Ivan Salazar joins 407 Studios as public relations and marketing manager

Ivan Salazar

Ivan Salazar probably isn’t someone a lot of comic fans would know, but those of us on the press side have likely had some sort of interaction with him or gotten some assistance from him over the past few years. I first met him a couple of years ago while he was working for BOOM! Studios, where he worked with Chip Mosher, their former marketing and sales director. Ivan, Chip and the other members of the team worked together on several big initiatives, like press conferences with Stan Lee at the San Diego Comic Con and the BOOM! RV at ComicsPro.

Salazar left BOOM! not long ago and recently got back in touch with me to let me know he was now public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407. I wasn’t very familiar with them, so I asked him a few questions about both his old job and his new one.

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Exile on the Planet of the Apes coming from BOOM! in March

Exile on the Planet of the Apes

BOOM! Studios’ March solicitations include several new projects, including a new Planet of the Apes miniseries called Exile on the Planet of the Apes.

Exile is a sequel to the miniseries Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes and will feature the return of the writing team, Corinna Sara Bechko and Gabriel Hardman. Hardman won’t be drawing the second mini, as he is currently busy with Secret Avengers, so the duo will be joined this time by artist Marc Laming.

“We’re thrilled that BOOM! and Fox are giving us this opportunity,” Hardman said on his blog. “The story is a direct sequel featuring Dr. Zaius and characters we introduced in Betrayal. Well, the ones who survive, anyway.”

Other projects due from BOOM! in March include a Hellraiser annual written solely by Clive Barker, an Ice Age one-shot from their kids line, a new superheroes-meets-Real Housewives comics called Supurbia and a retrospective of now-defunct independent publishing house Kitchen Sink Press.

Previews: What looks good for February

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Wonder Woman is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Archaia

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix - A detective story set in ancient China. Plus: cool name.

Avatar

Dicks #1 – Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s humor makes my top hat explode and my monocle fly off my face, but I remember this being pretty popular back in the day and I imagine that it’s new presentation in color and leading into a new storyline could make it popular again.

Bongo

Ralph Wiggum Comics #1 – This, on the other hand, is exactly my kind of funny. Kind of like 30 Days of Night, I’m astonished no one’s thought of it before. Too bad it’s just a one-shot, but hearing that Sergio Aragones is one of the contributors makes me want to poke myself with my Viking helmet to see if I’m dreaming.

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Food or Comics? | A dollop of Defenders

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Action Comics #4

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start with Image’s new anthology Thought Bubble Anthology #1 (Image, $2.99). That Becky Cloonan cover is great, and seeing that the book holds new shorts from Andy Diggle, Duncan Fegredo and others is enticing. Next up would be a DC three-pack: Swamp Thing #4 (DC, $2.99), Animal Man #4 (DC, $2.99), Action Comics #4 (DC, $3.99). DC really wins this week when it comes to my wallet, and these three books are becoming the key titles in the New 52.

If I had $30, I’d try out Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson’s Defenders #1 (Marvel, $3.99). While I was nonplussed by their previous collaboration in Uncanny X-Men, I remain high on other segments of their work and hope this one lives up to that potential. Next up would be X-Club #1 (Marvel, $2.99), based solely on this eclectic line-up. The X-Club was one of the few parts of the previously mentioned Fraction run on Uncanny X-Men I enjoyed, and I hope this mini makes them a more viable part of the universe long-term. Next up I’d get iZombie #20 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) for the ongoing adventures of Roberson and Allred and Irredeemable #32. I’m really enjoying what Diego Barreto brings to the book, and Mark Waid continues to deliver.

If I could splurge, I’d get IDW’s collection of Mike Grell’s Shaman’s Tears maxi-series. This was one of the early Image titles, and gave me my first glimpse of Grell’s work and the potential for Image outside the original 7. As the series went on I ended up going back to track down Grell’s earlier work, but Shaman’s Tears holds a special place and I’m anxious to relive it without dusting off my longboxes.

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Variant covers for Peanuts feature first appearances of characters

Following the announcement of the creators for their new Peanuts ongoing series, BOOM! Studios has announced variant covers for the first four issues available to comics retailers as order incentives. The covers feature Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy as they first appeared in the comic strip reproduced directly from Charles Schulz’ original panel art.

The first Peanuts miniseries, which BOOM! confirmed will be published as a series of miniseries a la Hellboy, will hit stores in January. Check out the other covers after the jump.

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BOOM! announces creators for ongoing Peanuts comic

Peanuts #1

BOOM! Studios has announced the creators for their upcoming Peanuts comic book, which will feature both new stories and reprints of strips by creator Charles Schulz.

The ongoing series, which was announced last summer as a part of their KABOOM! kids line, will feature new stories by Vicki Scott (Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown), Paige Braddock (Creative Director at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, Jane’s World, Martian Confederacy), Shane Houghton (Reed Gunther) and Matt Whitlock. Scott and Braddock worked together on a story that appeared in #0 preview issue that was released earlier this month.

This isn’t the first time Charlie Brown and the gang have appeared in comic book form, and it isn’t even the first time they’ve appeared in comics done by someone besides creator Charles Schulz. As detailed on Comicartville.com, the Peanuts characters appeared in numerous comics in the 1950s and 1960s, some of which were reprints of newspaper strips, some new stories by Schulz and some by artists who worked for him.

“I’ve always been under the impression that Charles M. Schulz always drew and directly supervised all aspects of his strip and characters, so this was something of a surprise,” wrote Dr. Michael J. Vassallo on Comicartville.com. “From a variety of sources, I learned that these DELL issues were produced by a crew of artists working for Schulz and who did advertising artwork for him. The main artist was Dale Hale. This information has been confirmed for me by the late comic strip art collector/historian/agent Mark J. Cohen, who was gracious enough to ask Charles M. Schulz over dinner about his contribution to those Dell issues. Mr. Schulz enumerated that he did the very first one himself with Jim Sasseville doing the next few and Dale Hale doing all the rest.”

This first issue of Peanuts ships in January.


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