Frenemies #1 Review

Frenemies #1 

By Monty Nero and Yishan Li

Writer: Monty Nero

Art: Yishan Li

Lettering:  Yishan Li and Monty Nero 

Carlton, Delphine, Jamelia, Hunter, Sunny, Cai, and Minerva: some of them know each other, some of them are related to each other, some of them hate each other. But all of them will have to learn to work together. Better a reluctant team of heroes than no heroes at all— and nothing brings people together like fighting aliens and solving mysteries. 

The cast of characters in their costumes.

At times self-referential, the story includes a reference that in the story’s universe, this story was turned into a comic of the same name— the plot switches between past, present, and future, with past and future aspects being told by an omniscient narrator. The story jumps right into the plot, relying on the narrator to fill the reader in on the setting and characters before traveling back in time to explain a bit more of what’s going on. But not too much of what’s going on— you can’t spoil the entire adventure in the first issue. No, there’s still plenty of questions that need to be answered: why were these seven people chosen? Will they become heroes or villains? Will they actually get their act together or crack under the pressure of newfound heroism? Perhaps most importantly, where did Carlton’s son Teddy disappear to all those years ago, and can he be rescued?

The story plays with the reality of the world.

Setting the story at a comic book convention was a great idea. A comic convention is probably one of the best places for random people to get superpowers. If any member of the population is going to have a handle on the caped crusader gig it’s a comic book fan. And if they’re cosplaying, which all of the main characters were, they’ve already got their outfit sorted. Or they’ll at least have the crafting skills to make a new outfit.

The art was the weakest part of this issue. It’s not overly detailed, but the clean linework and well chosen color palettes compensate for that. What causes the biggest problem with the art is the characters themselves. While there’s characters of different races/ethnicities, there’s not a lot of variety in their body types which really stands out in the female main characters. Despite being older than Cai, Jamelia, and Delphine, Minerva has the same slender body type and youthful complexion. One could switch all of their bodies and the only real difference would be their hair and skin colors. In an era of media where it’s expected to see diversity on the page and on the screen this “sameness” stands out. As the characters develop their personalities will hopefully make them feel more different from each other.

Minerva is old enough to have a son attending college yet she herself looks like she’s in her very early 20s.

These problems don’t take away too much from the story; overall, Frenemies #1 is a fun and enjoyable read that introduces a plot and characters with a lot of potential. And ending the issue with a cliffhanger was a clever choice because now all one can do is wait in anticipation for issue #2.


Creator Quarterly 2019 Q1
Matt Garvey

Welcome back to the Creator Quarterly here at Driving Creators!  Long over due, this feature has been tweaked and given an entirely new approach in order to better facilitate an ongoing effort in shining a spotlight on the creators behind the comics we love.  Now focused on a single creator every quarter (four installments each year) the feature should be able to continue regularly, but more impoartantly do a much better job of bringing awareness to the creator being highlighted.  Enough yammering on, let's get to it.

A big part of the Indie Comic scene resides "across the pond" from those of us here in the United States.  Over the last year the DCN has become much more familiar with the independent books and creators coming out of international outlets.  One of the absolute best is MATT GARVEY.  The man is a comic making machine.  It is absolutely insane the quantity and quality of book that Garvey puts out.  When you add in the fact that he's only been publishing and selling his books since early 2016 (MCM London in May of 2016 was his coming out party) you simply can't help but be astonished by what he's doing.  In under four years his stable of titles already houses ELEVEN different books.

Now, it's one thing to just send books out into the comic world.  It is quite another to produce quality over and over.  The comics that Garvey has written are beyond worthy of having any major publisher's logo sitting in the corner.  Honestly any of them would do well to have books on par with what Matt has in his stable.  I'm not just waxing poetic here.  Take Red Rocket Comet for instance.  This is the "quentessential Garvey book" if you will.  The book's plot has been spoken about with 'Watchmen' tones and given the air of execution reserved for 'Miller' books.  That is high, HIGH praise and it is beyond deserved.  Red Rocket Comet is a brilliantly written post modern super hero tragedy.  Using two different timelines Garvey unfolds both the 'golden age' of a hero/villian rivalry and the 'dark age' of realization and the need to make sense of it all as everything starts racing to an end.  The intelligence and ability that resides within the creative energy Garvey has is on full display with this book.  Each time line has a very distinct look and feel appropriate for the lens through which it is viewed and lived.  It has even given rise to Matt borrowing from himself to create another title that may or may not (wink) be set in this universe.  Glass Hood, which Garvey summarises as being "about a recently released super villain who kidnaps the hero who put him away and makes him dig his own grave" certainly feels like it belongs in line with RRC.  Expanding on the RRC universe would be an excellent step for Garvey and his writing but, you don't have to take my word for it though ... this book is an award winner.

Best UK Single Issue 
- Yancy St Awards (Edinburgh ComicCon April 2019)

Matt is also a ComicScene Awards nominee for "Best New Comic Creator to Watch"

The recognition that Matt has received lately is defintely deserved but doesn't quite do him justice.  In a very short time he has already begun to do what many long time comic creators struggle with even after a decade or more into their careers.  Garvey's work spans several different genres.  His latest book, Camp Blehis a wonderful entry into youth horror.  It is comfortably a Middle Grade entry that smartly balances the horror bits without going overboard or too far.  Most young readers will be thoroughly entertained with Camp Bleh.  This newest entry to his library is a stark contrast to one of his earliest books Chunks.  As Matt puts it himself, Chunks is "inappropriate dick jokes."  Quite the polar opposites with intended audiences and approach to writing.  The thing is though, he pulls them both off rather well.  As he does with Camp Bleh, Garvey nails the humor in Chunks in accordance with what he's writing.  Being funny and having it come across are two different things.  Despite being two completely opposing takes on humor he's able to write them both with ease.  It doesn't stop there though.  Untitled Generic Space Comedy is yet further proof that Garvey has mastered comedic writing.  This take on the mundanities of everyday uses a galactic backdrop to tell a smarky everyman story.  Using the big scale space backdrop drives home the normality of the main characters and it is genius. Thankfully you don't have to rely solely on my take to learn about all of Matt's titles.  Garvey himself was gracious enough to give some one sentence rundowns of his books to give you an idea of what they're about as well as answer some questions to help us all get to know him better:

"I have a few different titles but, ok lets do this"

Cordelia Swift

"steampunk murder mystery/strong female protagonist"

The Ether

"vigilante superhero comic with a very unique twist"


"a body-swapping sci-fi thriller"

White Noir

"crime noir story set during a blizzard"

Devil in Disguise

"superhero comic about the devil escaping hell to convince God he's a good guy & deserves a second chance"

Prey for Us

"sci-horror about a spaceman trying to get back to his ship, crew, and wife while something hunts him from the shadows"

Where does your love of comics come from?

Any major or stand out influences?

I've been a superhero fan as long as I can most 80s babies I grew with reruns of the '66 Batman and Spiderman and his amazing friends. But didn't know there were actual comics until a bit later on... I bought my first comic (Daredevil #305) when I was 10... There was a sweet shop next to the pub my dad used to drink in and us kids were never bought drinks in the pub, we had to go to the shop. Then one day I saw that Daredevil comic and it just blew my mind... I knew who Spider-Man was but I had no idea who this chap in the red was ...

When I was little I never really followed creators... it was more characters and if I thought the art was cool, I'd buy it. I also never bought a lot of new comics off the shelves in those early days... why would I buy a NEW comic for £1 when I could get TWO from the long boxes for the same amount?! But as I got older there were three books that made me want to write my own comics... the following three blew my mind and showed me that you could take a well-established character with decades of history and rip it apart (in a good way) and change everything you thought you knew about them. The first was Millar and McNiven's Old Man Logan.

... leaping to help Spider-Man who is about to be stabbed by the Surgeon General and I just had to know what was happening.I asked my dad to buy it for me and he said the next morning I woke up before everyone else, got up, and sneaked round to the shop and bought it with money from my own piggy bank and that was it. Hooked...and then later I found out there were these places called comic shops and that was it...and that was nearly 28 years ago!

I was never really a fan of the X-men... I was more an Avengers West Coast kinda guy, but that book is phenomenal... it made me really like Wolverine and it just felt like a $200 million dollar movie in a comic... won't spoil it but the reason he hasn't popped his claws in years is genius. The second was Joe Quesada's Daredevil Father... while telling a new story it really played with the history that was both respectful and unique... again won't spoil it. The last was Moore and Bissette's Swamp Thing... especially the first trade... if you haven't read it or know the twist... go read it you are in for a real treat.

Favorite Genre?

Honestly, I'll read anything... if it's a good story and the art is on point I'm there for it. I don't care if its capes, horror or even a love story...good comics are good comics.

Favorite Title?

Daredevil.  Always the man without fear.  It was the first comic I read and it'll be the last. But in the last twelve months, I have read some absolute crackers... Mister Miracle was just another level of awesome and Snyder & Capullo's Last Knight on Earth is amazing... I cannot wait to read the last part of that.

Time period of books?

For me is was Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr's run on Daredevil... as I said I just inhaled the long boxes in my LCS as a kid and every week I'd pick up a DD comic from their run and it was just amazing. Great stories and art that would just make me drool! .

Easiest thing about making a comic?
It's all pretty easy for me now... I've been making comics for around nine years, so I've made a lot of mistakes, but I've learned from them. So, when I go out to make one I now know what I'm doing and I find it all easy.

Nope... I got nothing, I love it all.

Favorite part of making a comic?
It's that moment when i have an idea for a twist that i know will blow peoples minds...i love that.

Do You Collect?
"I have around 4,500 comics (not including trades), so it's safe to say its more of an addiction than collection"

What is your Prize Piece? Grail you don't have?

The original art Rob Guliroy did for the cover for Untitled Generic Space Comedy,  That's pretty cool!

I'd love a Daredevil #1

There you have it folks.  Hopefully you've gotten a good glimpse into one of the most talented new creators in comic books.  Matt Garvey is producing quality books at a phenomenal rate.  Already claiming awards, Garvey is only getting started.  He has big plans going forward and the ability to grow them.  Versed in multiple genres and always eager to learn how to improve, Matt is a rare breed and breath of fresh air in the comic creating community.  Take the time to look into Matt's works.  Even better, take the time to interact with Matt.  As talented as he is creating comics he's an infinitely better person.  You are better off knowing him. 

I truly mean that last line.  You ARE better off knowing Matt.  As dedicated and headfirst as he is with his own projects, he's equally as open to those trying to make sense of the comic making world.  Everything he has learned is open to anyone that asks.  Constantly he is offering up help and advice to those that will have it.  He is a resource for folks that are hoping to create something themselves.  The kind hearted and generous person that resides behind the mound of impressive comics is infinitely more amazing than the stupid good books.  Getting to know Matt, his work, and having him in your comic world is the type of thing you get into it for in the first place.  Do yourself a favor and get some Garvey in your comic life.

Below are links to his Twitter, website, and shop.

Connect with Matt 

Hop on over to Matt's shop and get these top shelf titles for yourself!

Kickstarter Alert – Tokyo Blade Detectives

Friend of the DCN Todd Black has launched his next Kickstarter campaign! With the creative team of Lam Vu Van (2019 Vietnam Webtoon Contest Winner), David Hayes (Rottentail, The Rot), and Zakk Saam (Kim & Kim, Star Trek/Green Lantern) this book has loads of firepower behind hit. Full press release:

Tokyo Blade Detectives #1 Launches On Kickstarter!
A Brand New Anime-Style Comic Has Come To The Popular Crowdfunding Service

Champaign, IL:
Today, BlackMagicWolf Productions, an indie comic book publisher with 29 comics made so far, have launched a new Kickstarter for their next project! The new ongoing series is called Tokyo Blade Detectives and seeks to entrance comic readers with its sleek anime-style visuals, deep plot and fun battles featuring “laser swords”.

The series takes place in Tokyo, Japan over 200 years into the future, where the nation has been rebuilt and isolated after many wars and a reconstruction of the nation. Now, technology rules to such a degree that there is a concrete that must be followed: “No guns allowed”. To re-establish power, the government and several “Factions” use laser swords to fight and wage war for the soul of the nation. The sword has once again become the most powerful thing in Japan.

At the center of the story is a young girl named Miko, who is a detective in this new world. Miko aims to survive every day by doing her job and paying the bills while trying to avoid all the drama that the Factions and the government bring to Tokyo. Yet that doesn’t stop events from coming to her doorstep and putting her on a collision course with a dark conspiracy, deadly threats, and much more.

“Tokyo Blade Detectives is an idea I’ve had for so long, and it’s a thrill to finally launch it on Kickstarter,” says Todd Black, creator of BlackMagicWolf Productions and Tokyo Blade Detectives. “The series is different from many other comic series because everything is in flux. The Factions constantly gain and lose territory in Japan, there’s always angles that people won’t see until much later, and Miko’s part in all of this may not be what you expect. It’s going to be a fun ride!”

The goal of the Kickstarter is to raise $1500 to fund the rest of the first issue, of which 5 pages are done right now, and 10 will be done before the Kickstarter is finished, leaving the other ten to be done if the project is funded. Rewards for the Kickstarter include: digital and physical comics, getting put into a “Thank You” section, getting drawn into the comic, getting t-shirts, and receiving all books in the BlackMagicWolf Productions line.

Those who wish to check out the Kickstarter can go to the project through the following link:

About BlackMagicWolf Productions:
BlackMagicWolf Productions started of in 2012 when Todd Black started making comics. Since then he has made three comic series in Guardians, Home, and 10,000 Miles, as well as novel series Sherlock Holmes The Greatest Detective and has collaborated on anthologies and science-based comic Seekers of Science. The company has displayed at many comic-cons, and has had many successful Kickstarters to fund their various projects over the years.

PLB Comics Halloween Special ’19

Our friends over at PLB Comics have put out a Halloween Special for this 2019 horror season. This time of year is usually one that creators either absolutely love, or dread. Themed work can bring out both the best and worst from individuals. PLB has put together a nice entry to the Halloween reading list with their special this year. For the most part, I love anthologies. Personally I feel that horror lends directly to this format and works very well when done in this manner. Let’s take a spoiler free glimpse at what you’ll find inside of this year’s PLB Halloween Special. The anthology has seven different stories to choose from and has a feature that has a nice cameo for fans of PLB’s other works! It’s a smart little cameo and helps build the world around some of the established PLB characters. There’s also a tale that is wholly centered around a PLB character.

First up is DAWN OF THE HAYMAN! (Story/Art by Frank Dawson Jr – Letters by James Dufendach).
Being a child of the 80s I’ve many a horror/slasher movie to recall from my growing up. A couple in particular did the job for me as a kiddo because my grandparents had a farm down in South Texas. Corn and cotton fields surrounded the house and barn. I can state matter of factly that a proper scarecrow is just that, scary. When I opened up the pages and was immediately greeted by a story featuring these bad boys I had to grin. It’s really hard not to be creeped out by scarecrows and the story we’re given to kick things off doesn’t do any work to remedy the issue of scarecrows being freaky. It’s centered around a construction crew that’s not meeting deadlines and are having to clean up … A LOT … of scarecrows. Why, how, what? Yeah the story has a suspenseful edge and ends a bit disturbingly. Fitting for a scarecrow story.

Following up is FOR I HAVE SINNED. (Story by David Spicer – Art by Brandon Spicer – Letters by James Dufendach).
Much of what makes horror great is that it is perfect for harsh realities, being very real in its portrayal, or just down right being blunt. Playing on the very real fear of having a child kidnapped. Being a father that fear is honestly the biggest one I have, that of something happening to my children. This noir-esque entry borrows bits from a few other genres to twist into a very dark and blunt tale. A cult has taken the child in their hopes of summoning a demon. Trying to save the child is a masked vigilante type of hero. All in all the story shocks a bit as it unfolds and keeps a very dark overlay. In the end you’ll enjoy the closure of things while also being taken back a bit.

Next up is BOUND. (Story by Gabe Frumuth – Art by Jeff Tolliver – Letters by James Defendach).
Less of a horror story and more of a look in the mirror using a fantasy setting. We see two sorcerers that are entangled in a battle of ideals. As we struggle with and conflict against others in our lives with issues such as love and strength (the many definitions of each) these sorcerers struggle against each other. There’s also the magic element at play. A short exposé that delves into problems and differences that most can relate to, Bound also plays at the ties that bind us all. I feel there’s more to this one.

THE CAVE bats cleanup. (Story by Josh Shockley – Art by Kurt Krol – Letters by James Dufendach).
It’s hard to imagine having two very crippling real world fears joined together into one really shitty situation. Arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) and claustrophobia (the fear of closed spaces) are bundled for your enjoyment in this entry. As we watch the two men trapped in a cave and, of course, separated by a heap of rocks we’re thrown another curveball. It isn’t just a creepy story grabbing us and keeping us as confined as the two unfortunate souls in the cave. No no, we’ve got friggin poisonous spiders inhabiting the cave too. Wait, sorry, that’s HUGE poisonous spiders inhabiting the cave. It’ll make you anxious for sure.

The five hole is occupied by BLACK BUTTERFLY. (Story/Art by Josh Shockley – Letters by James Dufendach).
PLB gives their fans a little treat in this one as favorite characters John the Swamp Dude and Bobby make an appearance. Why? Well this one is set in the same universe as JtSD! Excellent usage of tools on hand! This tale brings us the ‘things are not what they seem’ entry in the anthology. A good looking widow needs help removing a tree out in the woods. Two poor saps, er, adventurous souls head out to help. Except you know, there’s more at play and the widow has plans for her would be helpers. Great little expansion on the universe that inhabits PLBs most popular folks!

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT is the penultimate tale in the anthology. (Story by Josh Shockley – Art by Russ Walton – Letters by James Dufendach).
Arguably the best part of Halloween is seeing the kiddos and their free spirits running wild. The tradition of going Trick or Treating-ing is something that many love and cherish. There’s a cuddly innocence and view of things was folks get costumed up, have fun, and drop all the pretense. Well sometimes the Jack’o’Lanterns have a mind of their own full of ideas for Halloween. This tale brings us just such an occasion. You’ll be immersed in the Halloween Spirit as the sentient squash plays on the child’s imagination.

Closing out the book is THE REAPER. (Story by Scott Markley – Art by Frank Dawson Jr – Letters by James Dufendach).
More inner workings here as The Fall universe sees some action. Specifically the masked vigilante the universe centers around takes center stage. Life, Death, and the balance between is the subject of conversation as The Reaper pays a visit. The grainy approach and dimly lit corner of this universe is used well to present questions and address the scary inevitability of life. Though, is the Reaper there for just a coffee talk or is there more to the visit?

The PLB Comics Halloween Special 2019 is a fun read. Original stories are mixed in with familiar faces from the PLB stable of books in order to provide a welcoming presence for both new and old readers to the publisher. Traditional horror, suspenseful stories, and even some thought provoking terror keep you entertained and the pages flipping. Done in black and white, the book shares the Halloween theme and maintains a form of continuity while presenting the wholly individual tales on their own merit. This is an entry into the seasonal anthology you’ll be glad you checked out.

You can grab the Halloween Special and other great PLB titles NOW! at their webshop:


W – Brentt Harshman
A – Emilio Utrera
C – A.H.G.
L – LetterSquids

Mistakes, one-shot, cover, self-published, Harshman/Utrera

Another “short” comic (12 pages from cover to close) installment from writer Brentt Harshman, Mistakes takes on the crime genre by virtue of inner conflict. Mick, a criminal, wants to do right by his daughter. That’s a bit problematic for a guy that’s known nothing but a life of crime. I mean it’s kind of tough to try and be responsible when you’re literally sitting in a McDonald’s plotting a crime (which is how we open). It’s a bit hard to describe someone as “good” when they’re a criminal but Mick has that “itch” that only the conscience can bring about. As he’s readying for the next job his morality takes over and he pens a letter to his daughter.

The letter is the heart of the story. It exposes Mick for what he is … a man that knows he has to become someone he’s not, but also has to be true about the person he’s been as well as find a way out of being if he’s to make the change. It is made very clear that Mick wants to be who he should be and that his true inner self hopes nothing more than to find a way to be who he should. It isn’t just a fluff filled hope piece though. The truth of Mick, where he is (and why) is there. The 12 pages short when you hit the end as you want more to this little tale of internal torment. They’re long when you sit back and realize just how much the team was able to put in and how complete the story is (while also managing to leave enough for more). Mistakes isn’t just written extremely well. The pages look every bit the part of a book that you’d see on the shelves any given Wednesday. The closeness of the story is conveyed perfectly while also emphasizing the danger and action of the crime laden life Mick lives. The usage of panel structure, colors, and scaling of the mood of the page all come together to present a striking visual half of the narrative.

I’m quickly becoming a fan of Harshman and the creative teams he rallies to put out his stories. Mistakes is another short comic that has left me wanting more. There’s depth to the premise but plenty to make this a stand alone entry. I can go back and flip through just to take in the visuals as well as re-read and pick up subtleties (such as Mick’s letter being captioned on notepaper) that render even more relatability from Mick.

This is one I hope is being pitched.

STORY – ****
ART – ****
COLORS – **** 1/2
LETTERS – ****
OVERALL – 4.25*