What’s in the Box?

As of May 1 2019



VAULT COMICS
Wasted Space, These Savage Shores, Heathen, Maxwell’s Demons, Fissure, Queen of Bad Dreams
(the entirety of Vault’s line is on my pull list)

*She Said Destroy, Resonant, Test, Sera and the Royal Stars are pre-ordered

ARCHIE COMICS
Blossom: 666, Jughead VS Vamperonica

ONI
Shadow Roads

AFTERSHOCK
A Walk Through Hell

BOOM
Bone Parish, The Empty Man, Black Badge

DARK HORSE
Black Hammer ’45

IMAGE
DIE, Evolution, Death or Glory, Infinite Dark, The Freeze

MARVEL
Amazing/Superior/Spectacular/Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, Immortal Hulk, Conan, Savage Sword of Conan, X-Force, Guardians of the Galaxy, Invaders

SCOUT
*Metal Shark Bro is pre-ordered

IDW
Transformers


Publisher Count: 10
Title Count: 30 active 5 pre-ordered
Most Titles by Creator: 4 – Cullen Bunn
Big 2 Count: 10 active (6 without Spidey books)
Indie Count: 20 active 5 pre-ordered

Wailing Blade – Preview/Rich Douek Q&A

WAILING BLADE #1
Rich Douek – Joe Mulvey – Chris Sotomayor – Jules Rivera – Taylor Esposito

This brutal tale of kick ass is brought to you by the ComixTribe.  It should be no surprise that this Heavy Metal-esque poetry of punishment comes from this outfit.  Yes, you know ComixTribe … they brought you the creator owned favorite SINK!  If ever a title was perfect for a publisher, this is it.

HOLY $#!^ … This IS sci-fi fantastical wonderment!  I cannot help but be transported back to 1980 something watching a gruesome post apocalyptic tale riddled with harsh circumstances and even harsher realities.  As I read through each page I was just giddy with the brutal, metal nature of this tale.  What’s more, is that the book opened up with a sequence reminiscent to the opening montage of an industrial tragedy that fills you with dread and hopelessness in the face of what you’ll have to eventually come to deal with.  The executioner and his blade are iconic in both look and feel.

Beyond the heavy metal exterior there is a very fine tale of actions and consequences.  The root cause of bad things happening is almost always us, as people.  Now, the current situation isn’t given much back story but there are hints to where this world has come from.  Man has fallen from the stars and the blade itself is a remnant of technologies that existed before.  Something pretty tragic had to have happened for the oppressive ruler Tyrant to have his heavy hand suffocating everything and everyone.  The setting though, adds the backdrop for the razor thin margin of living.  This allows us as the reader to feel the gravity of the error made by Tychon (son) as he goes against the advice of Auros (father).  It isn’t just a simple set up, but rather, a grand illustration of the dire plight facing everyone in the pages of Wailing Blade.

The story has given us plenty already and very clearly defines that there is MUCH MORE going on.  The best illustration of this, to  me, is the revelation we get in regards to the Executioner.  Yes the one that wields the blade is everything the legend speaks to, BUT the eyes under the mask tell a much deeper tale.  Of course, the last panel of the book makes it very clear that we’ve only just begun.  I can’t help but wonder about the grander tale behind all of this.  The crafting that has been done in bringing this world to life is very clearly large in scope.  The way the narrative is driven is rather point blank while remaining careful not to rush just to get from point to point.  Every scene within the panels is treated with care and details are everywhere.  You don’t do this if you’re just writing an arcade button masher of a book (though it would still be glorious if this were the case).  From the line art to the colors this world is crafted with care.  There’s a focus and point to have certain things stand out (the blade, the executioner, the remaining technology) but not so much that they feel out of place or unbelievable in the setting we’re given.  All of the details are woven together to create something special.  The lettering doesn’t just lend to, but purposefully injects building blocks into the world (the wail of the blade being a part of the blade itself).  The pieces stand on their own before coming together to make a perfect final product for the brutal, blunt force tale being told.

I could go on, but quite honestly you need to see it for yourself.  Go over to Kickstarter and look over the project.  Of a rather BIG NOTE on this project the price/reward structure is flat out astounding!  You are going to get some serious swag bang for your buck.

Q/A WITH RICH DOUEK

Q – Ok, where in the blue perfect hell did this story come from?  What was the birth of all of this?

Douek – It pretty much started when one of my favorite classic sci-fi authors, Jack Vance, passed away in 2013. When I heard about it, I reread his Dying Earth books, which are a really cool blend of fantasy and science fiction, and it inspired me to start working on a story in a similar setting; a point so far in the future it’s almost unrecognizable as our own world. There were a lot of other infuences, and things I added on my own, but that was the seed.
Q – Immediately upon seeing the images I was thrust back to my childhood.  80’s sci-fi and post-apocalyptic movies mashed up all sorts non-sensical pieces to make an underbelly genre that worked.  Wailing Blade thrusts me right back to being a kid for all the right reasons. Was the environment of WB built specifically or did it grow around the story as it came together?

DouekPart of it grew organically, but I grew up on 80s sci-fi and post apocalyptic stuff too, so that stuff is definitely in Wailing Blade’s DNA. I think a lot of my influences for this came from classic sword and sorcery, stuff like Conan and Elric, but also from crazy 80s cartoons like Thundarr the Barbarian, and Masters of the Universe. A bit of Mad Max, too, though you won’t see many cars in this world!

Q – The Blade itself.  I mean come on. Just, how?  Symbolic or intended to be the the “IT” factor.  Sure, the book is named for it but did that come about as it grew or was that the aim all along?

Douek – Tough one! Because I’m not sure I can explain the origins of the blade without giving away things about the story I’d rather keep secret for now. I will say that yes, it was always a part of the story I wanted to tell here, and it is meant to be symbolic in a way. We kind of touch on in the first few pages why it wails – or at least why everyone in that world thinks it does. But, in the story, the blade has been around for centuries, and has accumulated as many legends about it as lives it has taken. And there’s definitely a reason the title is centered around the blade, and not the person wielding it.
Q – The only thing I’ve read recently that even comes to mind as being close to this is Atomahawk.  Even that isn’t the brutal, over the top, full metal awesome that Wailing Blade is. As the story unfolded was there a goal to make it as unique as possible or was that just a very happy end point of the project playing itself out?

Douek – Wow! That’s a really nice comparison. I love Donny Cates’ work, and Atomahawk is totally up there for me as an example of the kind of over-the-top action we’re going for. As for the question of uniqueness, I’d say that for sure, it’s something we were striving for. I know that when I started talking to Joe about his designs for the book, one of the things he stressed was that he wanted everything – from the costumes right down to the trees and bushes, to look unique to this world, and unique to comics in general. So that was definitely the intent, and as we worked together, and with Chris Sotomayor and Taylor Esposito, we kept feeding off each other and trying to make everything look unique and dynamic.

Q – This is a very big book with a bold scope.  Just how big is the Wailing Blade universe? Is the hyper focused first issue setting the stage for a much broader arena?


Douek – Not going to lie, it’s pretty big. If you look at the map we included in the first issue, you’ll see that the Tyrant’s empire spans an entire continent. And there’s a whole world, and universe beyond that. We have a story in mind that will carry far, far beyond this first series, and, if we are able to financially, we could keep this going for years and years. Just a small example of what I’m talking about – the Wailing Blade and the Headtaker are the most famous of the Tyrant’s executioners, but they’re not the only ones. We’ll meet a second one before this series is done, but there are even more than that, and they all have a part to play in the tales we want to tell in this world.



Q – I have to give you recognition for the absolutely insane reward/price point structure on the Kickstarter campaign.  There is some excellent swag regardless of how much, or not, you’re able to kick in as a backer. How were you able to do this?

Douek – For that, I have to give all the credit to Tyler James, our publisher at Comixtribe. Tyler’s practically made a second career of studying what works, and what doesn’t when it comes to comics and Kickstarter. He runs a podcast called Comixlaunch where the whole focus is on strategies creators can use to make sure they run a campaign that’s great for them, and their backers – so there are a ton of lessons he’s learned over the years that we applied to this. But a big part of what you’re talking about is a commitment from all of us to provide a great experience to everyone who picks up the book, no matter what format they’re reading in, or how much they kick in.


THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS! Click below to go straight to the campaign and get on board!

TAKE THE BLADE:


What’s in the Box?

VAULT COMICS
Wasted Space, Friendo, These Savage Shores, Fearscape, Heathen, Maxwell’s Demons, Fissure
(the entirety of Vault’s line is on my pull list)

ARCHIE COMICS
Jughead: The Hunger, Blossom: 666
*Jughead VS Vamperonica is pre-ordered

ONI
Shadow Roads

AFTERSHOCK
Dark Ark, Hot Lunch Special, A Walk Through Hell

BOOM
Bone Parish, The Empty Man, Black Badge

DARK HORSE
Death Orb
*Black Hammer ’45 is pre-ordered

IMAGE
Criminal, DIE, Evolution, Death or Glory, Infinite Dark,The Freeze, Cold Spots*
(there’s more to the story for Cold Spots but for now it is done)

DC
Young Justice

MARVEL
Amazing/Superior/Spectacular/Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, Immortal Hulk, Conan, X-Force, Asgardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy, Invaders
*Savage Sword of Conan is pre-ordered

SCOUT
*Metal Shark Bro is pre-ordered

IDW
*Transformers is pre-ordered

DYNAMITE
*Red Sonja is pre-ordered


Publisher Count: 11
Title Count: 36 active 6 pre-ordered
Most Titles by Creator: 6 – Cullen Bunn
Big 2 Count: 11 active (7 without Spidey books) 1 pre-ordered
Indie Count: 25 active 5 pre-ordered

VFTD – Deuce of Hearts

Image result for deuce of hearts vault comics
Richard Mo – Tony Gregori – Claudia Aguirre – Ryan Ferrier – Kim McLean

Tony Gregori is quickly becoming my favorite artist if he’s not already captured that title.  I’ve watched the last couple of years as his style has remained clearly identifiable while growing leaps and bounds.  This book is a delight on several fronts. It takes a truism of today (app life) and brings it into the heart and soul of comicdom.  We get a fantastic voyage that is full of cooky, crazy fun that also delivers a wonderfully written story.

I love the complexity in the book as it mixes several elements in the batter yet still yields a very even tasting final product.  There is obviously a social commentary aspect with the entirety of the app based plot point.  Taking that and merging it with the absurdity (in a good way) of comic books was quite fun.  An app that grants a superhuman ability?  A video game type of buff?  That’s straight comic book at its finest.  Yes, yes there’s clearly a tongue in cheek yet clear message about a particular part of today’s culture BUT it is merely a wonderfully crazy backdrop for the … er, heart of the book.  Those afore mentioned elements are woven by Gregori’s art into a very eye catching visualization of a vanity and ‘how can I up myself’ driven society.  As insanely rich as the presentation is, the true to each of us narrative isn’t overpowered.

Yes, I’ll say it one more time.  Gregori and Aguirre’s work in this book stands on its own.  You can flip through the pages just looking at the incredibly rich and wide cast world that they’ve created.  As you take it in while reading Mo’s story line you can get a feeling of just how well this creative team works together.  The characters are absolutely independent creations and are brought to life in the best possible ways to enrich the book.  Sure, there’s some “base level” dudes/dudettes but that’s the point.  The expertly portrayed fantasy type characters are equally fantastical as the “base” are base.  All of these play perfectly as each of their interactions are as unique as they are as characters.  And that, that right there is the crux of the book.  Despite the overly sci-fi, fantasy, perfectly comic book cast … the point of it all is about US.  Who we are, how we interact, and just what we all come down to when dealing with one another.  Ferrier and McLean lend to the characterizations with spot on lettering.  As with their looks each character’s dialogue feels personal and comes off as unique to them.

Deuce of Hearts is a wonky ride through who we are, what we do, and how we see and value others.  The tale takes a true to form comic book approach in telling us quite a bit about ourselves.  Vanity and superficial machinations are all too often in the driver’s seat.  Very quickly our past choices and actions catch up to us.  We aren’t flawless though and genuinely the truly “bad” folks are outweighed by the good ones.  All of us fall flat on our faces at times with our decision making and none of us are perfect by any stretch.  The tag line is PERFECT.  “Trade up.”  Indeed.  Throughout life people and relationships are often treated and thought of as nothing but just another currency.

Grab Deuce of Hearts.  Read through it and enjoy the superb visual journey.  Read through it again and enjoy the superb personal one.

Attack of the B-BOTS! The Best Books On The Shelves!

A Walk Through Hell (Aftershock)
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Garth Ennis is one of the best at layered stories.  This effort certainly maintains that front but this book … this book is different.  No matter what you read beforehand or try to preview in order to pick it up, you just aren’t ready for what happens when you open this puppy up.  Using the cop drama backdrop for what is clearly a dread/horror story, Ennis has created a down right terror filled series.  What makes the overbearing terrible events that unfold all that more terrible is the realism with which everything unfolds.  Elements that infiltrate our actual world (like social media) are present and make the skin crawling feeling that much more intense. 
 
With a ‘hell’ of a lot more to unfold on this journey it’s going to be both exciting and horrifying to see where this book is heading.
Astonishing X-Men (Marvel)
Image result for astonishing x-men 14
Charles Soule started this series off and immediately gave us a classic feeling book about X-Men characters.  The initial arc even presented a classic X-Villain and set up a very familiar “X vs everyone” feel.  It was all a mechanism to get us Charles? back … but what exactly is going on?  This is one of the main plot points going forward.  Clearly there’s SOMETHING about this Charles that fits, but there’s also a whole hell of a lot that doesn’t.  In ending his run Soule left a pretty big carrot dangling.  The new Charles (named X) gives all of the AXM a “gift” but wipes their mind of all that has happened to the point that the Shadow King arc ends.  Matthew Rosenberg has taken the reigns and has brought his own classic feel to the characters.  Constantly facing a mounting wall of, well, everything to climb Havoc has set out to rally the troops despite once again being outcasts.
 
This is how an X book is supposed to feel.  With Cullen Bunn’s XMen Blue ending this is the only mutant filled story that feels like it is supposed to (oh, and Greg Land’s art is bringing them to life in glorious fashion). 
Avengers (Marvel)
Image result for avengers comic 2018
Jason Aaron has given us a proper Avengers book.  The entire point of the team is “bigger” and for a while that hasn’t been what we’ve been getting in the scope of the team books.  It’s pretty damn hard to get bigger or more powerful than the freaking Celestials.  But let’s toss in that lovey dovey asshole Loki AND add on that he’s bringing in the FINAL HOST to wipe out Earth/humans because … wait for it … we’re a freaking accident.  Yup, humans are literally an OOPS.  As our history is revealed to us in this first arc it is refreshing that while we are now apparently just a mistake, there’s a cosmic karma that presents on a scale much grander than us.  Shit happens, and the consequences must be dealt with thusly.  That’s where we, as humans, do a collective “hello!” (at least as far as Loki is concerned).  There’s a new element to how Earth has remained guarded all this time and even a bit of a cosmic level love story.  This is a damned Avengers book.  EVERYTHING is bigger, as it should be.  
Dark Ark (Aftershock)
Image result for dark ark aftershock
Cullen Bunn brings a kick ass supernatural/horror story to life!  Also, oxygen and water are key elements to life.  Yeah this really shouldn’t be a surprise.  Cullen is the best writer of the ‘dark’ out there.  With Dark Ark he’s posed a simple yet terrifying question.  What if Noah’s Ark wasn’t the only Ark?  Just as God called on Noah, what if the Dark Lord called upon someone to save the monsters, creatures, and unnatural beings?  We’re given our Dark Noah and a whole host of uglies on the second ark.  As one would expect there’s plenty of nastiness and bad intent going around.  We get to see what happens to the Unicorns and also find out that evil has many faces.  There’s also questions raised about good itself and its definition.  Is evil any less deserving of life than good?  Is good actually so, or only by comparison?
 
The biblical tale of Noah is flipped on its head in order to present and then question several trains of thought we all take for granted every day in a nightmarish tale of, what if?
Death or Glory (Image)

Image result for death or glory comic

Rick Remender and Bengal have brought us an absolutely beautiful book.  Each page looks like a still frame from a movie.  Admittedly I bought this book simply due to the images.  It IS that gorgeous.  Digging in though and we find as much substance in the script as there is artistry in the images.  Poor Glory.  She’s our focus as Remender gives us a representation of a real life issue facing many facets of middle America.  Old ways are dying.  Some quickly, some slowly and painfully, and some even worse.  The convoy/trucking community is one that refuses to go quietly.  It is a time honored love story about what makes us, us.  For Glory it is her father who is dying.  The loss seems as though it will be so much more than just her father though.  Of course, there’s a whole host of shit hitting the fan.  Black market organ running and a whole lot of 80’s car chase shoot ’em up happening is just the tip of the iceberg.
This is a beautiful book and a fresh take on some age old tales. 
Evolution (Image)
Image result for evolution comic reviewThe writing team of James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson have brought a new spin on horror while taking on human evolution.  Up to this point everything has taken millions of years to evolve.  Well, now things are happening at (relatively) light speed.  The tale is unfolding piece by piece and uses some familiar tropes (Father’s love for his son or the perceived crazy scientist) to help along a skin crawling narrative.  Toss in the religious aspect and it all makes the skin crawl wonderfully.  Something has evolved and it is now ravenously spreading and gobbling us all up.  Just as eerily as the story is unraveling, the book feels like I’m watching a 70’s grind house flick.  The color moods, effects, styles, and showing all the gore yet still keeping something veiled ramps this up too 1000. It’s fresh, complicated, and even though you feel icky reading it you can’t wait to turn the page.
Immortal Hulk (Marvel)
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Al Ewing has created an insanely dark take on what, in its true form, is as horror filled of an idea as it gets.  The Hulk has always been a frighteningly real analog for the divide that lives in all of us.  Yeah, there’s that big huge (literally) monster that could devour all life itself but the horrible part is that that isn’t the scariest part of it all.  The inner struggle is as real as it gets and this book is bringing the divide between Hulk and Banner into entirely new and horrific territory.  I’ll just say that Hulk only comes out to play when Banner dies … yup.  This book is dark, very very dark.  This new take asks the reader internal questions and puts elements of self that we all have to either stare down or fall victim to.  This is a tortured soul book that makes you wonder whether it is your soul or Bruce’s that is on trial. There are blurred lines, real life horror, and an uneasy questioning of one’s own soul.  This is true horror and this is good.
                      
Mister Miracle (DC)
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Tom King has created an modern classic with this tale.  Fittingly it’s done with characters created by the king himself.  Kirby’s Fourth World/New Gods setting has given King a palette with which to paint the human story itself.  Love, fear, death, life, family, and of course the ever present and overbearing sense of dread we all live with.  For everyone it’s different but it exists.  The taking of the over-sized, larger than life characters and turning them into a mature tale of real life is beautiful in of itself.  The humanizing of these out of reach characters is a class in writing mastery.  It’s even more endearing because Scott has always been the more ‘human’ of the cosmic entities in DC and always seems to have a banana peel in his path.  After this series is done Big Bertha will be set up to do and handle virtually anything and Mr Miracle will have become a favorite for an entirely new set of fans. This is a modern classic.  Vision was just a primer for this hall of fame book. 
 
Spectacular Spider-man (Marvel)
Image result for spectacular spider-man 2017 review
Chip Zdarsky is doing exactly what I loved about Spectacular growing up.  It’s wholly Spider-Man and exactly what you expect from the “Friendly neighborhood” take on the character.  Spidey is at his quipping best self in this new edition of Spec.  We’ve also got timeless villains (Vulture and Kingpin for instance) and the continued new dynamic between JJJ and Peter.  There’s the old school throwback with having the Human Torch involved (Amazing Friends everyone) and a return to the NORMAL hectic mounting tidal wave that is Spidey’s life.  Yeah, we’ve run into a literal save the world effort with some rather crazy visitors but the soul of the story is, of course, Spidey.  That is and always has been what Spectacular has centered around.  All of the lovable parts of Peter, Spidey, and the supporting cast has always been front and center with Spec.  We’re back to that. Spec is back to being the perfect capture of what makes Spidey so damn awesome.
                                                      
Wasted Space (Vault)
Image result for wasted space vault comics
Michael Moreci and Hayden Sherman are rocking the galaxy.  An absolute misfit, rag tag group is taking on everything.  Life, cults, a big ass robotic bounty hunter, family, and damn near anything else that could possibly try to hunt you down and kill you … or worse.  Yes there’s satire but that just adds to the complex nature with which Moreci is doling out the next great space saga.  Don’t believe me?  Well, then believe the publisher because Vault has announced that the book will go to at least 20 issues due to just how damn good it is.  Seeds have been planted all over the place that we will hopefully get to see explored in full.  I mean with just our main character we need to figure out where his powers come from and well, just what they actually are.  There’s a rather deep running family issue, the fuqbot saga, and that pesky robot God of the universe that only our main character can see.  Did I mention that the entire universe is at the risk of deletion?  This is being played close to the chest but that only adds to the overall experience this book is bringing. This is tracking to make people forget about SAGA.  It’s that good. 
HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Justice League (DC), Deep Roots (Vault), Shadow Roads (Oni)
It was a toss up for me between Avengers and Justice League. JL is doing what Avengers is and is finally getting back to being a proper book for the title on the cover.  Deep Roots was barely edged out.  Toughest call was between DR and Evolution.  If DR were as far into things as Evo is it might have gone the other way.  Shadow Roads stands alone but I can’t help feel that if I were more familiar with the 6th Gun universe (I’m catching up) this book was be even better.  It isn’t out of necessity but I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more nuance there and that the experience would be that much deeper.
WATCH LIST:
Black Badge (Boom), Bone Parish (Boom), Cold Spots (Image), Hot Lunch Special (Aftershock)
These books have started out white hot and are primed to take top shelf status.  In fact, they’re all going to be featured in the upcoming DEBUT REVIEW due to their immediate bang out of the gate.