Five Really Obvious Comic Predictions for 2015

howard-the-duck-2015It’s that time of the year – predictions and prognostications for the coming twelve months.

After many years of getting predictions stunningly wrong in a range of areas, I thought I’d put forward five bloody obvious predictions that I’m actually likely to get right.


1. The New Marvel Star Wars Comics Will Sell Well

Right now I’m betting there are comic store staff worldwide bench-pressing full bathtubs in preparation for lugging the bales of Star Wars comics that will be coming off trucks in the coming months. With it still being nearly a year until Star Wars Episode VII releases, and the generally lauded history Marvel has with the franchise, there’s no way these babies aren’t going to be as ubiquitous as a 1990s hologram cover. Particularly given there are reports of 100 variant covers for issue #1.

2. Marvel Will Reboot Everything Not Nailed Down

Marvel have spent the past few years cancelling, rebooting or rebranding every character or team they’ve focused their gaze upon. 2015 will be no different. Personally I’m hoping for them to cancel Daredevil yet again so they can relaunch it as fifth volume of the series….

3. Image Will Kick Into A Higher Gear

I talk to a lot of collectors and retailers, and their experience mirrors my own buying habits: Marvel and DC are losing my money in favour of Image titles. My current pull list is 50% Image and I can only see it growing.

4. And Indies…

… will continue to struggle. No-one is keener than me to see a bunch of independent projects see some serious attention, but I’m not holding my breath. All I can say to indies on behalf of all comic lovers is: keep going! And hell, send us your work to review, we’ll try our best to get to it.

5. New Howard The Duck Comic Will Be Better Than The 1986 Movie

I loved the original comic book series and though I doubt the 2015 series will beat it, I know it’ll be better than the 1986 movie. Please, let it be better for the love of everything decent in the world.

Sunglasses After Dark Collected Edition

Vampire Cult Classic
Sunglasses After Dark Gets Collected 
Nancy A. Collins’ Celebrated Comic Book Series Becomes Her First Graphic Novel Collection

San Diego, CA (August 13, 2014) – Vampires are part of today’s popular culture but in the 1990s, they were underground. And that is exactly where Sonja Blue, the protagonist of Nancy A. Collins’ (Vampirella, Swamp Thing) comic book series, Sunglasses After Dark, hunts for the monster responsible for making her one. IDW Publishing is proud to be collecting the cult-classic miniseries for the first time in a fully remastered graphic novel due this November.

“I am thrilled to finally see Sunglasses After Dark collected as a graphic novel,” said Collins. “The road was long, but the end result is something I am proud of. My collaborator, Stan Shaw, has outdone himself as both artist and colorist. I think fans of Sonja Blue will be pleased. ”

Acknowledged as one of the first Urban Fantasy novels, Sunglasses After Dark burst onto the fantasy/horror scene in 1989, garnering widespread critical praise and winning the Horror Writers Association’s coveted Bram Stoker Award. Together with artist Shaw, Collins adapted the novel into a six-and-a-half-issue comic-book miniseries, which became an instant cult classic. The IDW collected edition will be digitally re-colored by series artist Shaw, completely re-lettered by Eisner and Harvey Award winning letterer Thomas Mauer, and features re-tweaked dialog and narration by Collins herself.

The story begins in a madhouse and goes on to reveal the mystery behind the disappearance of a nightclubbing heiress and her transformation into a tough-as-nails punk vampire/vampire-slayer. Sonja Blue is a “living” vampire who still possesses a soul, and is determined to fight for what remains of her humanity, while still seeking bloody revenge against the vampire who attacked her.  But as dangerous as hunting down vampires may be, it is nothing compared to her greatest foe: The Other–the demonic alter ego with which she is locked in constant battle for the body they both share.

If you like your vampires with a bit of grit and a side of punk, this is the one for you. The full-color, 212-page hardcover is coming for you in November (ISBN: 978-1-63140-162-6).

Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes



Star Trek™ Meets Planet Of The Apes!
IDW Publishing Partners With Boom! Studios For Epic Crossover

San Diego, CA (July 25, 2014) – Have you ever wondered what it would be like to “mind-meld” with a sentient ape? Or wanted to see a Klingon on horseback, brandishing a rifle? Readers will soon have a chance to peek into just such an alternate future, as IDW Publishing partners with BOOM! Studios for the crossover event of the year: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes.

IDW will publish the crossover, which will mark the first time BOOM! Studios has partnered with another publisher on a series. Together they will bring Star Trek,licensed by CBS Consumer Products, and 20th Century Fox’s Planet of the Apes together in a way that is sure to delight existing fans and make new ones. The series will pair the original U.S.S. Enterprise crew with Taylor, Nova and the cast from the original Planet of the Apes film.

Planet of the Apes and Star Trek are groundbreaking science-fiction properties and both deal with many of the same social issues and themes,” says Greg GoldsteinIDW President & Chief Operating Officer. “A crossover between the two is a natural and long overdue.”

“Before I could read comic books as a child, I could watch science fiction on my television. My dad used to wake me up way past my bedtime to watch Star Trek in syndication—it came on after the nightly news—and I took a Planet of the Apes lunchbox with me to kindergarten every day,” says BOOM! Studios Founder and CEO Ross Richie. “Suffice to say, teaming up these two titans of science fiction on the page in a way that they probably will never meet each other on the silver screen is a huge moment for me personally and emotionally.”

The creative team will be a mix of proven experience and new blood with scripts by beloved Star Trekscribes Scott and David Tipton (Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2) and interior art and covers by the British newcomer Rachael Stott.

“With the Klingons secretly backing a renegade gorilla general in a coup for control of Ape City, Captain Kirk finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to help out Dr. Zaius’ orangutans,” explainsDavid Tipton. “Taylor won’t be happy with that!”

“What an epic pairing! I’m so excited to see Taylor, Kirk…and those damned dirty apes…in our upcoming comic,” says IDW editor Sarah Gaydos, “We’re eager to team up these exciting creative forces to bring this to life.”

™ & ©2014 CBS Studios Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Deadly Class: Heavy And I Like It

DeadlyGridFinal I have an evolving monthly pull list of only four or five titles, and one of them for the past six months has been Deadly Class. Co-created by Rick Remender and Wesley Craig, this is very much a comic for over 18s and it’s one of the reasons I plan on sticking to the end.

Set in 1987, it follows a bunch of kids from some pretty dysfunctional backgrounds who end up together at a ‘school’. It’s what happens from then that forms the story, and what a story it is. Rick Remender has been pretty forthright in the letters column of the sixth issue about how a lot of the events are based either fully or partially on his own life experiences. It brings a further edge to an already knife-sharp creation. Even some of the best comic writing can dip into stereotype, but Remender mostly manages to avoid that trap, although the racial divides within the group veer pretty close to that territory. Wesley Craig’s art is superb, bringing the extreme changes in pace and emotions into sharp focus. I also love the page at the back of each issue showcasing Craig’s drawing process. A huge hat-tip to Lee Loughridge’s colours on this title as well, they are stupendous.

Deadly Class is not for the faint hearted and definitely not one for those squeamish with violence, drug use and full frontal nihilism. What it is though, is a great story – all the more powerful for its partial foundation on Remender’s own life. If you can scratch up the first six issues from somewhere, do so. If not, get your order in for the second story arc that’s due to start in September.

I know I’m counting the days.

Political Cartoons Collection: The Story of Puck

What Fools These Morals Be: The Story of PUCK!
The Most Important U.S. Political Satire and Cartoon Magazine Gets Collected

San Diego, CA (June 26, 2014) – Published from 1877 to 1918, Puck was America’s first successful humor magazine. It was also the most influential American humor magazine ever. It was also the first American magazine to publish color lithographs on a weekly basis. And, for nearly forty years, it was a training ground and showcase for some of the country’s most talented cartoonists, led by its co-founder,Joseph Keppler.

This October, IDW and The Library of American Comics will release an important contribution to political and political cartooning anthologies. What Fools These Mortals Be: The Story of Puck is a lavish coffee table book retrospective that beautifully displays whyPuck is considered the most important political satire and cartoon magazine in American history. It’s all about the art — lavish color full-page and two-page centerspread cartoons.

With nearly 300 full-color plates in a oversized 12” x 11” format, What Fools These Mortals Be: The Story of Puck is the first opportunity for most readers to see so many cartoons fromPuck reproduced in color and at a large size.

Stephen Hess, in his seminal history of American political cartooning, The Ungentlemanly Art, said, “It is hard to overestimate the political influence of Puck…during the last two decades of the 19th Century.  It was greater than all newspapers combined.”  It is often said that the magazine was single-handedly responsible for thwarting the third-term ambitions of Ulysses Grant in 1880 and electing Grover Cleveland to the presidency in 1884.

Written by Michael Alexander Kahn and Richard Samuel West with reproductions made from their unique collections and supplemented by the Library of Congress, the book is organized by subject matter, reflecting the most important issues of the day. Each cartoon is accompanied by an explanatory caption, placing the work in historical perspective.

Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) provides the foreword to this important piece of American history. Take this special peek into the past and see how much, or in some cases, how little, things have changed.

12” x 11” hardcover with dustjacket, 328 pp., full color, $59.99, ISBN: 978-1-63140-046-9

1940’s Wonder Woman Newspaper Strips

Wonder Woman Newspaper Comics
Come to IDW
The Entire 1940’s Newspaper Comics Available For The First Time Ever!

San Diego, CA (June 24, 2014) – In partnership with DC Entertainment, IDW Publishing and Library of American Comics is pleased to announce the August release of Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics, which collects the entire original Wonder Woman newspaper strip that ran from May 1, 1943 until December 1, 1944 for the first time ever!

Just a few years after Wonder Woman burst into comic books, the world’s most famous female superhero starred in her own daily newspaper strip written and drawn by the same creative team that produced the comic book: William Moulton Marston (writer) and Harry G. Peters(artist).

This beautiful 196-page hardcover book starts the story on Paradise Island where Amazonian women rule supreme and no men are allowed. Their way of life is about to change when Steve Trevor, a wounded American soldier, washes up on their shores. Soon, Princess Diana of the Amazons—rechristened Wonder Woman—is off to America, where the saga continues!

50-Word Review: Rogue Trooper #1

rogue-trooper-1Rogue Trooper has serious pedigree and IDW have pulled off an actual improvement in a classic series.

There’s some nice updates to Rogue Trooper’s gear, some good dialogue and some great art that keeps Nu Earth as desolate as it should be. A must-read for fans or newcomers alike.


50-Word Review: Deadly Class 1-3

DeadlyGridFinalNot for the young or faint-hearted The first issue nearly lost me, but the second and third have me firmly tied on board.

Remender’s writing is tight and tense, Craig’s art is edgy and Loughridge’s colours play a central role in a dark series.

A classic in the making.


The Walking Dead Season 4 – Episodes 10/11 – “Inmates” & “Claimed”


As if there wasn’t enough horror in TWD – we now have The Mullet

There is nothing more terrifying than imagination in horror. Letting the audience fill in the gaps of what might have happened, rather than explicitly stating, is far more effective and ultimately more disturbing. The Walking Dead knows this – the baby carriage in “Too Far Gone” or the murder/suicide room in this week’s “Claimed” elicit a stronger emotion than any literal subject. The writers also know when to show their hand, and the reveal in “After” that baby Judith had in fact survived is a welcome one. But while “Inmates” included many reveals and hints at what to come, the intertwining storylines ultimately fell flat. In contrast, “Claimed” returns to the usual storytelling, and pulls back the scope to a smaller scale. The Walking Dead works best when it focuses on less, and these two episodes prove the shows strengths – and weaknesses.

“Inmates” splits its episode four ways, each running concurrent to the other, producing a series of vignettes. Picking up right where the midseason finale left off, it follows four separate groups as they reclaim their bearings. Beth and Daryl get the opening segment, fleeing from the prison. The sequence, while short and fairly inconsequential, is the most hopeless. Stumbling upon what they believe is the remains of the girls, they end up heading in the other direction. Both heartbreaking and frustrating, it helps to flesh out the world around them – instead of the usual everybody finding everybody by some weird television destiny, its great to see that these people won’t be finding each other anytime soon.

By far the most important sequence of the episode is the Carol/Tyrese/Girls/Judith one. Confirming the fate of Judith was welcome, but re-introducing Carol, and setting up a forward trajectory for the rest of the season was also surprising. Sanctuary comes to the forefront, and also presents an end goal for our band of heroes. Where this sequence became controversial was in its handling of Lizzie. In the shows attempts to build Lizzie as some form of  psychopath, the character has seemed to found itself in a violent streak – killing rabbits and almost suffocating Judith. Look, I’m all for Lizzie to fulfill the role that was similarly brought forth in the comics, but infanticide – especially shown infanticide – is almost where I switched off. There are some lines in TV that I do not want crossed.

Regardless of content, “Inmates” doesn’t exactly impress with its storytelling. Glen’s segment starts strong with a lone survivor vibe, but when more survivors are introduced it feels like a retread of Maggie’s, which also feels weak. Beth and Daryl’s intro is marred by a melodramatic narration from Beth, and Carol’s segment would be incredibly dull without any of the reveals. “Inmates showcases that smaller and less dense stories aren’t the shows strong point.

“Claimed” returns to focusing on the 2-3 story-lines typical to the show. Rick finds himself under house invasion, with Michonne and Carl out bonding, while Glen and Tara, with newcomers Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita deciding on the next plan of attack. Bringing the focus back allows for the stories to breathe – the Michonne/Carl bonding would have felt rushed had it not had the time “Claimed” allowed it.

Abraham and Co. are given decent screen time for their debut, and they feel fully realised already. Abraham, while visually stereotyped as the macho, Rambo-esque character has a surprising amount of depth for the short time on screen, empathizing with Glen, and not even being the first punch in the subsequent fight. Eugene and Rosita aren’t given much more than a few moments screen time, but should they move on the same trajectory they could be a welcome addition to the cast.

Rick’s home invasion was the source of tension this episode, but it would have fared better had it not been interrupted constantly by  the other stories. The tonal shift between Michonne/Carl’s game and the intrusion is odd, and the home invasion could have been better suited as its own standalone episode. That’s not to say the game wasn’t welcome – humanizing Michonne is some of the best moves made in the show this season – but another place and another time would have been better.

The countryside roaming wasn’t going to last forever, and as Rick finds the sign at the end of the episode, it becomes clear that all roads lead to Sanctuary. Lets just hope it doesn’t drag on like the prison.

A couple of observations

  • What happened to the person feeding the rats at the start of the season? It sure seemed like it was going to go somewhere.
  • The Eugene, Abraham and Rosita introduction was mighty silly at the end of “Inmates”. Looked like a group of power rangers.
  • “Hitchhikers may be escaped inmates”. We got that the first time.

The Walking Dead Season 4 – Episode 9 – “After”

walkingdeads4e9Welcome back to our weekly The Walking Dead coverage! Having missed the final episode of the midseason, I’ll be doing a brief look at that episode at the end of this review, but for now lets take a look at the midseason premiere “After”

Following the events of “Too Far Gone” its nice to take a step back and focus on a much smaller cast. The Walking Dead often shows its strengths when dealing with only a few characters (see last seasons’ “Clear” or Season 2’s “18 Miles Out”). Allowing the viewer to get into these character’s heads following the tragedy at the prison was a smart, if not a risky choice. Training up viewers on high tension action for the first half of a season does provide a thrilling show, but it does mean that the slower moments, for better or for worse, stand out.

“After” split its focus between Michonne, and Rick and Carl, in the fallout of the prison attack. Michonne finds herself back where we found her, complete with two zombies in tow. Her storyline is the more satisfying of the two, complete with a heavy handed (albeit cool) metaphor of a similar looking zombie. The Walking Dead excels when it lets the viewer draw the comparisons, rather than the many circling conversations that the show often finds itself in, and while the fear of Michonne’s humanity failing in the face of great loss is shown in an incredibly obvious metaphor, it is not an unwelcome one.

Where her storyline really shines is in her small dream sequence, which was an eerie and surreal trip down memory lane. Shot fantastically with strange jumps in time and logic, the dream sequence is (as far as I can remember) the first time the series has gone full blown surreal, and I would not be opposed to more. We also now know that Michonne had a son, lover and an extra friend, but that’s all that writer Robert Kirkman is willing to give us. Again, stories are made all the more better when they leave some details to the audience, so for now the details about her past are left murky – and may very well stay that way.

The real meat of the episode is Carl’s brief rebellion against his father. While Rick may have been unconscious throughout much of these events, it didn’t stop Carl from letting loose his teenage angst. This act of defiance is reminiscent of a standard teenage breakout – Carl thinks he’s old enough to look after himself, especially after his father’s lack of action as a farmer last season, and the act of trying to be his own man and failing is entirely the traits of the rebellious teenager. Chandler Riggs has come a long way from the first season, and while his acting may not be perfect, he’s certainly competent enough to carry much of the episode.

These two storylines all seem to be tying back into the theme of the season – what is worth living for? Michonne obviously found it in the company of the prison group, with her life as a penitent loner far behind her. Carl’s trajectory is less apparent – he wants to be self sufficient, but until he grows both physically and emotionally, this isn’t likely to happen. His need to be a better man than his father appears to be his reason for being right now – he is his father’s son more than he cares to admit – and time will tell if somewhere down the line Carl takes Rick’s place at the head of the group.

Decent direction, coupled with some decent character moments made for a solid premiere – if not one to truly remember. It appears that The Walking Dead may be playing the slow burn for the latter half of the season, and it will remain to be seen whether or not it plays in the show’s favour.

Some observations

  • Zombie of the week: The zombie who took Carl’s shoe made for an intense encounter, and I thought the zombie looked particularly menacing. Tense and claustrophobic, showing that even one zombie can be dangerous.
  • In the same vein, the encounter also gave way to some great visual storytelling. Who was Sam, and why did he have not only his name written on his door, but a ton of books? It’s the little touches, like this scenario and the diner with Joe that flesh out the world.
  • Danai Guirira really was given a lot more to do this episode, and she really was up for the challenge. She was almost unrecognizable in her dream sequence.
  • I looked up how much 112 oz was in litres for our metric-using readers. That’s over 3 litres. That’s bound to give you diabetes.
  • And finally a few thoughts about the last episode: I’m glad the Governor is gone. In fact, he should have been offed an entire season earlier. Hershel’s death was both poignant and heroic, and Rick’s decision to side with Hershel was a noble one, even if it meant losing the prison and most of his friends. It was a well shot and tense finale, and with the (potential) death of Judith, really rough. I really hope that the group doesn’t settle too long in one place in the future.