CBNAH Interview: Ethan Nicolle!

When Ethan Nicolle, then 29, created a crazy and unique web comic with his little brother Malachai (5 years old at the time), He had absolutely know idea what a huge success he had on his hands. Axe Cop went viral and became a hit. The Nicolle brothers formed a partnership with Dark Horse, Who are about to publish the third collected edition of Axe Cop comics. I caught up with Ethan to discuss fame, web comics and the future.

CBNAH: What's it like having something as meaningful to you as Axe Cop become such a hit?

Ethan Nicolle: It's been very surreal because it was so unintentional, and my creative relationship with my little brother, which used to feel like our little secret, became so public, bringing my whole family into my little world of comic books. It was definitely a "when worlds collide" kind of thing, especially when my whole family came to San Diego Comic Con. It's been a lot of fun though, and had given me a lot of time with Malachai I never would have had before, and it's given he and I a deeper bond as brothers because we are in this together.

CBNAH: You and Malachai have been creating comics together for 2 years now. What's it like working with him?

EN: He's hilarious. Our family is, in general, very quirky. Neither my mother nor father ever discouraged silly joking and it seems like one thing my family has that a lot of others don't is a general comfort with being dorks. We were always the poor, tacky, goofy family at church or in the restaurant and we tended to take pride in that. Malachai is not only super silly, but he's pretty intelligent for his age as well. He loves the challenges I give him when I ask him questions and he loves incoporating new things he has learned about in school, or video games and cartoons into Axe Cop.

CBNAH: Does Malachai understand just how popular Axe Cop is? Does he have any crazy fans?

EN: I think he understands now. We did a panel at Comic Con that had hundreds of people present. So far we have not had any real weird fans come up when he is at a convention. No one creepy weird anyway. Generally the Axe Cop fanbase is pretty good people and everyone seems to enjoy the innocence of it. Malachai often says of Axe Cop "everyone in the whole entire world loves it", so that is his understanding of its online success. Though, I don't think he has yet reached the age where he realizes what fame is, so he has the knowledge, but I don't think it effects his writing. Not yet anyway.

CBNAH: What are the challenges you face with such an unusual collaboration?

EN: Well there is the obvious challenge of Malachai growing up, though it has not been an issue yet. I think the stories keep getting better. But the challenge really is on my end, piecing all the madness he gives me together and trying to sort it all out. The biggest job in Axe Cop is the one that is uncredited, and that is playing with Malachai, interviewing Malachai and then sorting out and arranging his stories into coherent (enough) tales to be drawn. It is one of the craziest experiments in creativity I have ever taken part of. It can be a lot of work but I am excited to be working on it.

CBNAH: Talk us through your process.

EN: The process on Axe Cop is very experimental and always evolving. Some of it is done via phone or skype. Some is done in person when I go to visit Malachai. Some is created by role playing, or playing with toys. I generally try to find the narrative in his ideas and then start asking questions and "guiding" the play time so I get more story. I take a lot of notes, or I record the entire session then take notes later. I break everything down and put it in order and try to make sense of it. For longer stories, I start putting everything onto notecards and in outlines. I draw the comic based on outlines rather than scripts. It seems to work well for Axe Cop. Once I have the general thread of the story worked out I can usually tell the story on paper pretty well.

CBNAH: Tell us about your relationship with Dark Horse. Did you guys approach them?

EN: When Axe Cop went viral we were getting contacted by just about every publisher in comics. Dark Horse had two benefits: they made the best offer and they were the company I thought was the best fit for Axe Cop. Imagining Axe Cop next to the Goon, Hellboy and Marv from Sin City was a thrilling idea to me and I thought he fit in well. Dark Horse has been very helpful, there are a lot of very genuine Axe Cop fans working there. They pretty much let us do what we want. There is no heavy story editing that goes on.

CBNAH: Have you gotten any job offers from the bigger publishers because of Axe Cop?

EN: mmmaybe. Haha. If I did, it's not something I can talk about publicly yet haha. How is that for an answer?

CBNAH: Besides Axe Cop, what would be your dream project?

EN: I don't know if my dream project has even entered my imagination yet. I feel like I am still just getting the hang of comics. I'd love to get involved in other mediums like TV or film. I want to see an Axe Cop live action movie, I think it would be amazing.

CBNAH: What can we expect in Axe Cop's future? For how long do you guys intend to continue making Axe comics?

EN: Well, besides Volume 3 hitting shelves on March 28th, in July a new miniseries will be coming out via Dark Horse called Axe Cop: President of the Earth, which is a follow up to Bad Guy Earth. It's crazy fun. I think I will continue to do Axe Cop episodes on the web site as well. I haven't thought that far ahead yet. There are a lot of potential things on the horizon for me, so it is hard to say where all my time will be going once the next Axe Cop miniseries is done. For now, all my time is split between Axe Cop online, Axe Cop in print and my other web comic, Bearmageddon.

CBNAH: In a tough financial climate, what role do web comics play in the ever-increasing digital comics market?

EN: They are hard to monetize. You can make some money if your fans are willing to spend it on merch, but in my experience it is not a livable income. For bigger web comics maybe it is. The books are still the best source of income and I think in general, putting your comics online broadens the amount of people who will buy the book rather than deters them. It seems like a lot of us in the digital entertainment realm are just experimenting with this new way of doing things. I'm as interested as anyone to see where it goes.

CBNAH: What comics are you reading at the moment?

EN: Honestly, I haven't read a comic in months. I usually keep up on Walking Dead pretty well, but that is my only regular read. I definitely like making comics much more than I do reading them.

CBNAH: Complete this sentence: Comic book nerds are hot because…

EN:...they buy my stuff and keep me from having to get a real job, haha.

Thanks again Ethan, for taking the time out to answer my questions!

EN: Thank you!
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Renaldo's Reviews: Fury's Big Week #6, Avengers Assemble #1, Battle Scars #5, Superior #7

Avengers Prelude – Fury’s Big Week #6 –

Yost/Pearson are simple but effective on story/art. Here we get insight into what became of the Destroyer and Samuel Sterns as well as gain leverage into the further machinations of Barton and Widow. It’s all about SHIELD and it’s quite prudent a tie-in. It continues to fill in gaps and lend towards potential HULK/THOR sequels and it’s a tapestry of cut-scenes/after-credits from the movies. Like I said…simple, short and sweet. Delectable! (9/10)


Avengers Assemble #1 –
Why does Marvel compromise and feel compelled to give Bendis another Avenger title? He makes an amalgam out of his Avenger team of past comics (seeing LOGAN, Spidey, T’Challa, Jess Drew, Bobbi present in a photo-op) and the film dynamic (seeing that Barton and Widow flirt till it gets boring and sickening) and then loops with Hulk, tossed out into the desert. We’ve been here before and seen all this so why the need to revisit these threads from comic or film? Bar Bagley’s exquisite art, this is one of the most pointless titles out and they should know that ZODIAC hasn’t been poignant for the last decade. What Marvel wants to pursue here, I do not know but they are capitalizing on the film train…and sad to say, sacrificing good story for the sake of marketing. I need better a story here. (3/10)

Battle Scars #5 –
Marcus Johnson’s heritage revealed and I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel retcons him as the Ult Fury character just to bring Miles in 616. That aside, there are no LMDs here and I’m shocked. I’m shocked that Marcus lacks the Caucasian gene…except in the blood. I’m shocked that Orion, Infinity Formula and Fury’s sex life wasn’t left for next year to Hickman. I’m shocked that Bobbi Morse isn’t playing a factor here due to her blood work…or Bucky Barnes. Leviathan rising? HYDRA rising? Give me a bloody break. This was one title that really could have and should have waited for when the AvX smoke and dust clears. The smoking gun doesn’t reflect well in the mirror and it’s not impressive at all. Eaton’s art tries to salvage but still flails (5/10)

Superior #7 –

It falls flat on its own plot design and mechanisms. I don’t want this homage to Superman becoming a movie. The demonic tones also fall by the wayside and seeing Ormon conned out by his own dunce is laughable. It started off promising as it shone the way a Superman origin should but then Ormon’s pact, Sharpie’s rage seemed discombobulating to the title. Here, Superior races against the clock to battle his enemies while trying to save his soul. Despite Yu being a fantastic artist as usual, the repertoire for Millar unfolds with his penchant for weak finishes. This is one of his weakest finales ever as it departs with elementary and rookie mistakes by the villain. It’s akin to Osborn written by Bendis but a tad more backward when it comes to conniving plans. The way that Ormon fails here really sums up the finale…underwhelming and a huge disappointment as to what was promised. Again Yu’s art tried and did well but Millar’s story floundered just when I needed it to surpass expectations. (4/10)

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Renaldo's Reviews: Saucer Country #1, luther Strode #6, Kick-Ass 2 #7, Avengers #24

Saucer Country # 1 –

Cornell sculpts a psychological thriller here that had me jumping from abortion to psychosis to drugs to depression, when it came to analyzing the cusp plot of this issue. Not once did aliens seem to hover in mind and while the story isn’t as coherent as I thought it could have been , while the only real character development we get is the main political candidate and not the other equally intriguing foils in the book, Cornell wraps over the Brit hogwash with a strict, sturdy and keenly robust analysis of the American political system.
It’s a good overview to see the minf—k melded in with the political doctrines here and it isn’t so much American politics as it is world politics. That said, there’s no need to rehash the beliefs and precepts of the political wave, because Cornell missed the chance to ingrain a sci-fi seed or two that could have me blabbering great things for the upcoming issue. Instead, we get a quandary of a final page and it’s a bit tossed out there as we don’t get that sci-fi/fantasy build-up throughout the issue. The throughput is a mental puzzle, filled with tension, political angst and drama. Holding his hand on any real, possessive alien threat was not too smart an idea here. The severity is underwashed by the final cliffhanger. It lacks punch and gusto. Cornell pulled a few punches and played it safe. However, Ryan Kelly’s art is pristine and completely outshines his previous work…that’s a huge plus for me and it helped me give the second issue a chance. (6/10)

The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #6 –
Mix-in Kick-Ass and its glory in gore…and throw in that Herculean tragedy where a hero is manipulated into killing everyone he loves, directly or indirectly, and this title is what you’d get. Luther brawls and brawls as he discovers the secret which he craved ends up being his downfall and literally, the end of life as he knows it. The blood-fest here makes Kick-Ass seem mundane at times, but somehow, I think I wanted more succinct an ending than this. It was predicatable but still left enough loose plot threads for the future…which clearly will be redemption. Like I said, it’s a Herculean rip-off but much more faceted to the comic book geek. It isn’t a bad idea but I didn’t think Justin Jordan expounded the potential of this book fully. The latter issues meandered a bit and strayed into gory ground and reminded me too much of what Kick-Ass was. A great fun, spunky story that gave me a soft spot for violence but lost the prose along the way. Traad Moore’s art is as quirky and eloquent (yes I used that word) as ever when he draped elegance and grace in violent sequences and that’s no easy task. It’s a great feat to see such wondrous art when I get bogged down by lack of a finale. But rest assured there’s more Luther to come in 2012 and I’ll be all in. (6.5/10)
Kick-Ass #7 vol 2 –
Again, you cannot refrain or frown from the violence of gore here but I felt it a bit toned down. It shocked me but then again, maybe too much blood at times…is just that…too much. I was a bit unperturbed by Hit-Girl’s dalliances in her big fight with the Russian as it seemed vastly an underperformance by her but she stole the rest of the issue. It wasn’t that hard to do given that Dave and Red Mist once again petered out after much hype and I don’t think Millar should be continuing their rivalry. It’s off-key and run afoul way too long and too much. With a nice twist into the fate of Mindy and her stepdad, especially given that there’s a certain dislikeable cop gunning for all heroes (the anti-Jim Gordon), I shuddered when I saw how underwhelming Dave/Red Mist panned out. It seemed that this book keeps panhandling for readers and after vol 1, and my intense following, I can’t jump on the Dave train anymore. However, a Hit-Girl solo and a link from how KA2 ended does make her more attractive a read for the future. Let me give rare praise to Romita’s art and the colors here…quite attractive. That’s not something you hear from me much on this artist. (6/10)
Avengers #24 –
Acuna’s art proved readable and not his best, yet not his worst. I can live with that. What I can’t live with is the trial and error process that Norman took when he became the Super-Adaptoid. He defeated himself with this stupid Rogue-antic. It’s such a bastard plot thread I couldn’t help flip the pages to the end. I don’t know where Bendis was going with this but HAMMER/Osborn proved utterly emphatic a fail here. The Dark Avengers thread was decommissioned last issue in one panel by Skaar and his betrayal of that team…not touched here in this issue. I guess I’ll wait for the NA issue but still, it’s such a cop-out. HYDRA has risen and politics of Cap/Obama/the public aside, this seems one of Bendis’ worst issues. I don’t know why he went this route as it proved illogical and insensible but the way he just dropped the rise of HYDRA again means more Jess Drew and more OMG SMH moments. I cannot wait for Ultron Wars and AvX to wash this plight away…or should I say blight? I scold, chastise, castigate and reprimand Bendis here. It’s terrible a read (2/10)

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Talking Trades: Green Wake Vol. 1

Kurtis Wiebe and Riley Rossmo’s Green Wake was one of the creepiest, visually interesting and engaging comics on the stands. With it’s premature cancellation due to low sales, now is the perfect time to support creator-owned material and check out Volume 1. The first trade follows the original five-issue miniseries before it was promoted to an ongoing.  The story centers around a kind of strange purgatory known as Green Wake. Its mysterious inhabitants have little desire to escape the nowhere place; instead, they have resigned to their existence in a world that’s neither here nor there.

After a string of  gruesome murders, Morley Mack tries to hunt down the prime suspect– the enigmatic and elusive Arial. The actual plot, while gripping, is secondary to the actual mystery of the story. You’re just not quite sure what’s going on, in a good way. The characters are detached enough to remain enigmatic, but developed enough to be able to sympathize with. Morley and his tough as nails partner Krieger have a liability that defies reason, while some of the other characters a just plain creepy. Weibe and Rossmo introduce us to humans, frog-like people, monsters and other equally frightening things along the way.

Wiebe creates a sense of foreboding, a distant sense of menace, and envelopes it in a cloud of mystery wrapped in an enigma. The eerie goings-on and dark characters provide a symphony of powerful storytelling that’s impossible to predict. Everytime I think I’ve got things figured out, something even stranger happens and freaks me out all over again.

Rossmo’s art is visually spectacular. His unclean lines, stylized shading and layered textures make for a glorious reading experience. Green Wake is a messy, scary place, and Rossmo perfectly illustrates it. I can imagine some people hating it, because it’s not really traditional comic art, but I love it. It captures the tone of the book perfectly and is powerful in emoting all the crazy and freaky things the characters have to deal with. It’s wild, unruly, terrifying and full of energy and power. Rossmo’s work here is, I think, the best work of his career.

Green Wake was consistently one of my favourite books on the stands, and you should definitely check out the first trade.
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Top 5: Comic Book Cops

shield top 5
This week, we count down the top 5 comic book police, as voted by members of the facebook group. 

The rules stated that the military don't count, and so the Green Lantern Corps don't count. Jedi do count.
As always, the very nature of lists means that absolutely no one will agree with it, but feel free to voice your opinions in the comments.
See the countdown

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Renaldo's Reviews: Saga #1, Dark Matter #3, Exile from the Planet of the Apes #1, Strain #4, Conan #1-2

Saga # 1 –

BKV is at his literary best here and as a fan of his Runaways, it’s such a tasty offering. The casual, nonchalant yet profane vibe tossed into the intergalactic couple on the run makes for exciting pages. It’s all Romeo and Juliet…plus a baby…meets Star Wars. There’s enough mystery steeped into the Bonne and Clyde vibe as we see star-crossed lovers (literally) running from the law to protect their child. The child’s narrative adds a nice blend of guile and intrigue as you wonder how her journey went. It’s a girl I may add. There are a lot of sexual connotations involved but wondering how the narrator went from being a baby to actually documenting this title is journalistic gold.
Vaughn’s script and the simple yet effective art of Fiona Staples is well planned and brilliantly executed a la this space diary. BKV doesn’t show his hand and why this hunt is occurring is reason enough to come for a second issue. One thing stands out, this book packs some space-love romantic punch and it’s something that only BKV could cook up…and have smell so sumptuous. (9/10)

Dark Matter #3 –
This book is resplendent and is such a continued success. The team finds out that the people they thought they were saving were actually their targets…but the team’s memory loss has them with changed minds, and hearts…or does it? There are layers of duplicity running deep and while Garry Brown’s art isn’t as glossy and silky as we’d expect, the Mallozzi/Mullie story is a perfect fit to a tale of space/western/drama-oriented action. There’s action in this issue and a lot of I may add. But what wins is the moment where you realize that all the hunky-dory material is soon to be obsolete and the gloves will soon be off. Not all hands are shown as we see the team actually deciding to help the denizens until certain offers are made that can’t be refused. If you throw in some Godfather and Departed influence into the space mix, I can guarantee intergalactic tension that is worth your money. This book is riveting and tells a Whedon-esque space story that keeps you moved when the brawling occurs and attached…when revelations are made. I can ask for no more in a title. (9/10)
Exile from the Planet of the Apes #1 –
Hardman usually wows me with his art but here, he crafts and indelible story with Corrina Beckho and throw in the nice artistic offering of Marc Laming, and I can see fans of the franchise and lore appreciating this. It’s a superbly written expository piece that beckons well to fans of the original tales. Zaius and Prisca are made relatable and funnily, human, as can be as we get the normal society entanglements with emotional tourniquets that the book really and truly desired. The final page sets up well for what’s to ensue and true fans would appreciate the nod to the general direction of this book. Seeing the human resistance trying to usurp or at least survive the ape populace really comes off with a sparkling tinge here. (8/10)

Strain # 4 –
Lapham has impressed me with the poise garnered with his literary prose this week. I fell for his AoA at Marvel and with Huddlestone’s art here, they complement each other well. The art accentuates the gristly, eerie tale that Hogan/Del Toro set out with as the virus strain engulfs the city and then some. Bristles of risqué tones were taken by moving with a slow, creepy momentum to build to this issue where the attacks come full-fledged and it was a smart move given that all hell breaks loose here. The gloves are taken off with Lapham’s decision to cast that infinite die of incisive horror storytelling.  The incisions into the book give some grizzly panels where horrendous deaths are abound but with the dark and masterful art here…it’s a pageantry of what makes a horror…a horror. The banquet of tragedy and angst offered here would bode well for TV rights and seeing the gore carved here, finally…finally…made it worthwhile and there’s a lot more to come. Enough has been teased to show this. (8/10)
Conan #1, 2 –

The clefts made by Conan’s blades in these two issues highlight Cloonan’s impressive artistic endeavours but it’s that blend of action and romance that gives a pirate/swashbuckling feel to this title that I can accredit the guile of Brian Wood to. Aside from Massimo Carnevale’s glistening covers (really wondrous), Cloonon and Wood offer an ebb and flow, rife with haughty swords, pride and a sense of vanity that made Conan rally as an attractive read to me. Seeing Conan set out to lay the Belit down in blood shows that he’s all about Herculean feats, justice…but with trophies in haul. It’s altruistic and a different take on the Cimmerian but it works pretty well here. Conan embarks on cavalier missions branded with a unique sense of loyalty but when the sultry dangers of the sea present themselves, all bets are off…and Conan proves that he is just a man…and this humanity facet takes its toll well to the reader. (9/10)

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On the Cover: Mike Mignola

Alan Moore once wrote that Mignola's style was "German expressionism meets Jack Kirby". Throw in a little Alex Tooth, and you've got it. Bold lines, High contrast, and effective use of negitive space dominate his covers. Mignola somehow manages to make his designs wonderfully detailed and strikingly minimalist at the same time. Check out a showcase of his work after the jump!

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CBNAH Interview: Simon Roy

Born and Raised in Victoria, BC, Simon Roy has a talent beyond his years. in 2009 he started work on his first major comics project, a creator owned story called Jan's Atomic Heart. He is currently illustrating the Brandon Graham penned book Prophet, For Image Comics. Dr Peter caught up with him to discuss prophet's success, working with Graham and taking over a Rob Liefeld book.

CBNAH: First off, Simon, congratulations on the success of Prophet #21. How does it feel to be apart of a comic that’s universally loved by fans and critics?

SR: Completely surprised. It's very conflicting - though I feel as if we can't possibly live up to the response that #21 got, I think people will be pleased with the direction these first issues take. They're establishing a whole universe for other artists to play in, and I feel honored to be a part of building that.

CBNAH: How did you get into art? What age and did you attend art school, if so?

SR: I've been into drawing since I was a little kid. I ended up going to art school when I was nineteen, after a couple of fruitless but extremely enriching years studying Russian at the university of Victoria. I'll be done my last semester in April.

CBNAH: Who were your greatest inspirations growing up?

SR: Most likely the biggest inspirations, art-wise, would have been Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Herge, and the pair behind Asterix - Goscinny and Uderzo. The father of one of my closest childhood friends had an excellent collection of Asterix and Tintin, and many hours were spent as a small child lost in those books. Since coming to art school, my biggest inspiration has probably been Hayao Miyazaki, of Spirited Away and Nausicaa fame. I've completely fallen in love with the way he builds worlds and tells stories - and especially how intimately the two are intertwined in his work.

CBNAH: Can you tell us the genesis behind Jan’s Atomic Heart?

SR: I actually have a whole diagram explaining the process that can do the job better then I can:

CBNAH: How did you land the Prophet gig?

SR: Very indirectly. I've been friends with Brandon Graham since 2009, where we met at the launch party for Jan's Atomic Heart in Vancouver. Since then we've stayed in touch fairly regularly, and when he was graced with the Prophet title he immediately started chatting with me. From various talks we've had, it was clear we shared some similar feelings on the subject matter (epic, hard sci-fi), and we started to work on a look for Prophet we could pitch to Image. The rest - well, is happening now.

CBNAH: What’s it like to work with Brandon Graham?

SR: Laid-back.

CBNAH: Brandon is an artist himself, are his scripts more descriptive or is there a lot of room for interpretations?

SR: It's more like the marvel method - we collaborate on the initial storyline (ie determining the main events and figuring out roughly how many pages each plot point will need) and the layouts right off the bat, then I hammer out the pages and Brandon writes a script that complements the art after the fact. It's nice having someone who's a skilled visual storyteller as writer, too. For example, when we're working on layouts and we come across a point where he doesn't like the way a page flows, he can just sketch out exactly how he wants the page composed. In the end, it's less about trying to get wiggle room from a tough writer and more like spit-balling together something more natural and improvised.

Actually, Brandon did an excellent write-up on the matter here:

CBNAH: What’s it like working for Rob Liefeld, and taking over the art from a Liefeld book?

SR: It's been pretty cool - I was too young to be caught up in the major wave of Liefeld's popularity, but I've been aware of him for a long time. Taking over the art for what began as a Liefeld book is kind of surreal, since both his style of drawing and storytelling is so different from my own. But it's been really nice - he has been very supportive and open to the directions we're taking the title in, which has made the whole process a lot of fun. Add that to the fact we've got a lot of editorial freedom, and it's been a pretty sweet project.

CBNAH: Did you read any of the previous Prophet material?

SR: Some.

- What can people expect to see happen in future issues of Prophet?
SR: Hmm. Well, without spoiling too much, I'll just say that each artist to take on Prophet will be bringing their own style and storytelling to the table. Expect Farel Dalrymple's work to be detailed, beautiful, and trippy, and Giannis Milonogiannis' to be more kinetic and exciting. Plot-wise, just prepare for some more wild sci-fi adventure.

CBNAH: What would be your artistic dream project or collaboration to work on?

SR: Aside from the various stories I'm trying to coax into existence right now, a dream project for me right now would be one not unlike Prophet, where I get to be creating something awesome with a crew of super-talented fellow artists.

CBNAH: What advice do you have for upcoming artists and writers wishing to make it in the comic industry?

SR: Ask me that in five years. Until I've had more than one singular instance of success, I don't feel quite qualified to speak to that.

CBNAH: What comics you’re currently reading?

SR: I just recently finished reading Hard-Boiled, by Geoff Darrow and Frank Miller. Between the hyper-detailed art and old-school Frank Miller at his best, it's a stellar read. It was a War of the Trenches, too, by Jacques Tardi - a brutal french World War One comic, full of disturbing but beautiful and expressive art.

CBNAH: What does the future hold for Simon Roy?

SR: Hopefully a whole lot!

Thank you, so much for your time!
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Review: Age of Apocalypse #1

De la Torre’s art has impressed be since Daredevil as I find that dark, dystopian style a la Alex Maleev. Lapham is a good writer but while I never found him lasting to my taste, this issue here builds well on Remender’s AoA run-in with X-Force and what we get is a well-woven tapestry that connects the old AoA with Remender threads and new crannies made by Lapham. The cast is well-rotated with Jean, Sabretooth, Wolverine and Prophet all proving to be key facets. It’s perfectly orchestrated and while there is no over-elaboration into Bolivar Trask and Azazel

, you get the feeling a lot of subterfuge runs deep with the resistance as well as Weapon Omega’s hunters. With Jean and the resistance on the lam, it’s nice to see how predatory the instinct is of Wolverine and Lapham does well to leave a tapestry of grim hope and that impression of a world ravaged and torn by warlords and dictators. The fact that Apocalypse is gone doesn’t even make the book slow down because there are enough tools and systems put in place to keep the book ticking and flowing, which is the big task of staying alive and not getting cancelled in Marvel’s marketing scheme. However, with Harper Simmons being that minor connection to 616, I wonder if AvX ties in to this title, and I guess it may not. This may be the biggest downfall, even though such disparate a connection makes for better storytelling as Lapham has free rein. I’ll enjoy this ride while I can seeing as I was thrown for a loop with the final page (8/10)
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Review: Orchid #5

This story by Tom Morello is ferocious and such a breathtaking read. The art by Hepburn soars as we see Opal training Orchid hell-bent on igniting a revolution to attain vengeance for the deaths of her loved ones. Simon takes a backseat here as Orchid’s rise to combat prominence is well scripted, as well as Opal’s new additions to the roster. It’s about upping the arsenal and pretty effective. You don’t see much of the antagonists’ presence here bar a torture scene with Anzio but it you’re looking for gruesome…look no further than Opal’s sword.

It’s pretty hectic and disturbing how she excels as a warrior.

The team is on their mission to rescue Anzio and show liberty as a way of life…but Orchid’s bloodthirst for revenge could be their downfall…or key to victory. It’s a frenetic paced book but is one of the most solid reads as it incorporates the right elements of drama, politics, chivalry and the modern-day gusto that we needed to pack that punch in comics we spend bucks on! (10/10)

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Review: Thief of Thieves #2

There isn’t anything profound here except that George Clooney has draped himself into a comic book page and immersed himself whole-heartedly in a redemptive tale of a thief trying to get his wife back. Throw a son in the mix and a former-heist partner, who turns out to be Conrad’s brother-in-law and you’d expect that to impress upon Conrad and make him a better star and central figure for this book. It doesn’t work that way. This would have been better if broken down to a few panels and inserted into the first issue. It’s engulfed in a steep sense of nostalgia but we don’t get much info into any sort of present day predicament that Conrad experiences.

The book is predicated with heists that lack any figurative or literal action, haphazard (yet not too shabby) art that fails into inflect any strong emotion into the tale, and it tries too hard to assert itself viscerally or cathartically into the reader. It wants you to empathize but it’s a clichéd and repeated formula that a lot of books employ and fall flat on its face with. I’m still waiting for the kicker in this book but Spencer/Kirkman/Martinbrough have too much of an average book on their hands to panhandle around as something that sparked bigger and unfulfilled hopes in me to date (5.5/10)

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Review: Saga #1

You only need one reason to by this comic. I’ll give you bunch, but you only need one. Brian K. Vaughan. Remember Y-The Last Man? Ex Machina? The freakin’ Runaways? BKV is one of the greatest storytellers in the business, so you know you’re going to get an awesome story. Asides from the writer's name, Saga #1 begins an epic sc-fi fantasy, one part Star Wars, one part Willow and all parts amazing.

Right from the outset, you know Saga is something special.

There aren’t many comics out there that begin with a birth, and even fewer when the child is born with her mother’s wings and her father’s horns. Vaughan hits a really emotional rhythm in the book, and the relationship between the main characters is powerful and strong right from the beginning. The mark of a true master. They bicker like a real couple, but express an unconditional love through their forbidden union. The world BKV has created is full and exciting and unique, and even though we’re still on issue 1, there is already a sense of the epic. From the name of the book to the art to characters to the story, we are in for one hell of a saga.

Fiona Staples provides yet another reason for you to pick this up. Her art is beautiful. It’s perfectly expressive, and really captures the deep emotional beats set forth by BKV. Her layouts and composition are dynamic, engaging the reader on an even deep level. She draws breastfeeding in a very tasteful way and generally complements the story very well.

As if you needed anymore incentive to pick this up, you get amazing value - 46 pages for a meagre $2.99. Everyone should by this book. No excuse. Buy it!
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Review: 2000ad #1774

The Galaxy’s greatest comic continues to amaze me with the quality of stories produced in a weekly, 32 page magazine.

Political terrorism, chemical warfare and big explosions dominate the current Judge dredd story. As much as I love Judge Dredd and the stories John Wagner tells, I’ve found his stories unnecessarily wordy. This one is no exception, and as great a story it is, I just wish he’d cut the dialogue back a little.

Age of the Wolf II is shaping up to be an amazing story, just as good as the first part. There’s plenty of great action, and the main protagonist – a hot young redhead named Rowan, Kicks all kinds of ass. Jon Davis-Hunt’s art is beautiful – his lines are crisp and his colours vivid.

Flesh by Pat Mills and the wonderful James McKay makes it’s return, with some amazing cowboy vs dinosaur action. I think this is the most visually exciting story of the prog, as McKay’s dinosaurs would make even Ricardo Delgado proud.

As far as visually striking stories go, Lee Carter’s work on Dan Abnett’s Grey Area story is top notch. Soft, painted colours contrast the strong ink splatters and scratched textures to create a beautiful aesthetic. This instalment of the story was a little slow, but set up some crazy things for upcoming issues.
The previous Nikolai Dante story was as good as it’s ever been, so Robbie Morrison has a lot to do to continue that level of awesome. This story is about the war that wages on during the events of last story, and the talented John Burns takes up art duties.

I’m loving this book at the moment, with some of the most engaging and visually pleasing stories in a long while.
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Review: Star Wars: Iron Eclipse #4

Beautiful. That's the word that comes to mind when reading this entire series. This has been an enjoyable book so far. From the hands of a master, John Ostrander.

This issue is the penultimate chapter and it answers a lot of two stunning reveals in the end. The payoff is good. Everything in the series so far has been leading up to this point. 

Here, answers come aplenty, plus we get a little peek into the mind of Agent Jahan Cross and get to see his somewhat skewered view of the clone wars. Also, continuing their guest appearance from last time, Han Solo and Chewbacca.

The art is just beautiful to look at. It's free flowing, smooth, clear and very nice to look at. Elli Stark had never looked more beautiful. Credit to the talents of the penciller, Stephan Cretin. I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.

Solid book people, a non- traditional-non-Jedi Star Wars book expertly written by a master storyteller. If you haven't been picking up this series, please do buy the trade with my highest possible recommendation.
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Review: Robert E Howard's Savage Sword #4

Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword has been one of my favorite anthology books that has come out in recent years. While the other anthology book that Dark Horse is putting out is great, Savage Sword beats it just about every time for me. That is probably due to my love of most things Howard.

There are five stories in this issue, ranging in subject, from Conan, to western, to a Lovecraftian story, there is great diversity in this book.

And like most anthologies, if you don't like one story, another one will probably be more to your liking. If that story you don't like is the Sean Phillips Conan story, then shame on you! It is probably the best thing in all four issues that has come out of this book. Phillips shadowy art is a perfect fit for the story, and he draws a creepy monster that will probably give me nightmares.

Each issue has finished with a classic Howard tale from old Marvel comics material. This issue finishes up a Kull story started last issue, with amazing art by Tony De Zuniga. These are always my favorite part of the issue. Most of the stories have either never been reprinted so this is a great opportunity to discover some amazing comics that have been forgotten.
Savage Sword rarely disappoints and this is no exception, but if this is your first issue, be warned that some of the stories here are the second part of a two part story continued from last issue.  
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Review: Lobster Johnson #3

This series, for me, has become all about the art. Tonci Zonjic's art is fantastic. His line work is clean, no extraneous lines and he does some of the best body language I have seen in a while. I came for Lobster Johnson, but I am staying for Tonci Zonjic now.

The story continues to be a fun pulpy adventure. Lobster Johnson is confronted with the supernatural threat for the first time and realizes he may be out matched.

Or at least unprepared. Arcudi and Mignola have created a fantastic world. A world that will grow to include Hellboy and the BPRD. But it is nice to see a world where these things do not exist yet and where there is no one but Lobster Johnson to combat the supernatural forces, even if on a smaller scale then what Hellboy and the BPRD face.

Lobster Johnson continues to be one of my favorite books month in month out. Any fan of pulp adventures or great art should be reading this book.
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Review: Conan #2

I really enjoyed the first issue of Conan it was captivating on both levels Brian Wood obviously knows how to write Conan and Becky Cloonan on the art just makes the story all the more enthralling!

The first scene is lovely and very creepy showing the bold pirate captain Belt confronting Conan as he takes her and her crew on. I loved the art and the series has continued with a bold style, the story is told very visually and that opening scene mentioned just played like an old

horror movie without a word being said! The rest of the issue plays out with equally captivating art and is really enjoyable and worth buying on that factor alone!

But this isn’t just a book of pretty pictures and on the writing end Wood has created for us a sense of depth! Wood continues to add to a character that may seem one dimensional from an outsiders point of view, I myself expected dialogue along the lines of “Conan SMASH!” but once I started this series I realized that Conan is a character with depth and purpose within his world and Brian Wood does a great job representing that in his handling and writing of these characters and story.

I really liked the first issue and the second was just as enjoyable! I would suggest this to new readers and long time Conan fans. If you’re looking for a comic that has great art and an equally great story I would suggest adding “Conan the Barbarian” to your pull list, make your friends buy it too!
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Review: Buffy Season 9 #7

When I started season 9 I was apprehensive. I didn’t particularly love the ending to season 8, I found the ending was drawn out just a little too bit! Season 9 even though it picks up directly after seems to be fresh and new yet reminiscent of the television series at the same time. This issue was great and it follows Buffy and her “problem” from the previous issue.

The writing is great within this issue and while nothing too exciting happens the issue still remains entertaining and relatable!

Buffy still has her spunk and her relationship with Spike is addressed and there is a little action thrown in for good measure when Buffy confronts a Zompire hoard with Spike and his detective friend! It’s not too thrilling but you can tell resolve is coming.
As always I loved the art there have been only one or two issues since the series continuation in comics that have let me down. With Noto on the cover I think great things will be happening for Buffy and her scoobies in the future! The scenes where they are fighting the vampires is a great representation of how Jeanty has taken Joss Whedons world and really made it his own! I love when a vamp or two gets dusted on panel it to me is a perfect adaptation for comics!

All together this issue is good, not a lot happens leaving me wanting for the next issue but not in the usual excited way! It’s more of a feeling of being unfulfilled than anything else. Buffy’s roommates do make a decision about her and Spike’s love is addressed but if you’re looking for the big reveal and for decisions to be made I’d say you ‘ll have to wait a few more issues at best this issue is a well done peg-holder with ties to what’s happened and what is soon coming.
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Creator Roundup

This week, Dan Hipp is a bounty hunter, Fabio Moon celebrates women, Terry Moore is a tease, Jeff Smith webcasts, Bryan Lee O'Malley posts a lost artwork, JH Williams III, Becky Cloonan and Michael Avon Oeming pay tribute to Moebius, Jim Rugg has a show, Francesco Francavilla does Silver Surfer, Mike Carey trailers, Charles Soule debates floppys vs trades, Ben Templesmith warms up, Brandon Graham gets autobiographical, Peter David talks John Carter and Peter Nguyen does Jean Grey.

- Dan Hipp comments on the reliability of bounty hunters:

- Fabio Moon celebrates women:

- Terry Moore offers this little tidbit for Strangers in paradise fans:
Coolness. Katchoo & Francine’s first serious give-it-to-me kiss made the Best Kiss list at amid a slew of film/tv kisses.
If you care at all about that, you may be interested to know that Francine and Katchoo will emerge from their self-imposed sabbatical next year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Strangers In Paradise in 2013. That’s all I can say at this point.

Jeff Smith participated in the Scholastic webcast on March 7th. Click the pick to see the video.
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Bryan Lee O'Malley posted some cool 'missing' art from back in 2003:

JH Williams III remembers Jean Giraud, AKA Moebius:

I consider him one of my greatest influences, as I’m sure a lot of artists do. His work is highly revered around the world by many of his peers, or anyone that knows really great art when they see it. Some of my earliest exposure to his work was some of his science fiction works when I was a young boy, but what truly won me over for a lifetime was his work on Blueberry. Probably thee finest comics tales of the old west ever produced. Moebius was a true master and innovator of line, texture, and use of palettes. His work has impacted comics in so many ways its impossible to follow all of the roots. In my humble opinion, his art has affected our understanding of modern comics to the same level as Jack Kirby influence.

Jim Rugg is having a show at the end of the month. Here's his promo poster:


Francesco Francavilla twarted this amazing Silver Surfer:


Mike Carey posted a trailer for his book the Steel Seraglio:

Charles Soule debates the merits of floppys vs trades:

So, which is better?  First of all, they’re both great, and as long as you’re reading comics in one form or another, you’re okay by me.  The real answer is that both have their perks.  These days, I read most of what I read in floppy form, because I want to support the industry (especially creators I either know personally, particularly enjoy or both), and floppy sales still drive a lot of publisher decisions (even though I think they really shouldn’t, considering the much wider market for trades.)  That said, there are a few series I read in trade (Unwritten, Scalped, a few others), and a few more that I read in floppies and then buy in trade (which, to me, is the highest possible endorsement – it says that I can’t wait to read a given installment of the series, and then the pleasure I’ll get from owning the collected edition is worth the added expense.  I do that with Locke & Key, one of my favorite books running, and I expect it to be that way with Saga as well.  It certainly happened with Y the Last Man and Ex Machina.)

Ben Templesmith's daily sketch:

- Here's a
Brandon Graham to get into you:

Peter David discusses John Carter From Mars:

It’s easy to point out that, since I have several dogs in this hunt–namely I work for Disney and also wrote the *ahem* New York Times Bestseller graphic novel prequel, “World of Mars,” that I cannot approach the newly released “John Carter” in any sort of unbiased way. And that’s true. But not for the obvious reasons.

I’m going to be biased because when I was ten years old, throwing myself eagerly into the Edgar Rice Burroughs tales of Barsoom, there were nights–especially at the end of some VERY lousy days–where I would stand in the backyard and try to find the glittering red spot that was Mars against the blackened sky. And I would look up longingly, just as Carter had, and throw my arms wide, and wish desperately that I could leave my mortal body behind and find myself on Mars. There I would pal around with a four armed green guy, and a calot would be my pet, and I’d have a naked Martian girlfriend (yes, I thought that way at age ten. What can I say? I was precocious. Don’t tell ME gender preference isn’t ingrained.)

Peter Nguyen does Jean Grey:

- Becky Cloonan and Michael Avon Oeming pay tribute to Moebius at

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Top 5: Superhero Origin Stories

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This week, we count down the top 5 Superhero origin stories, as voted by members of the facebook group. 

The rules stated that the character may not have actual superpowers, but must start out as a superhero.
As always, the very nature of lists means that absolutely no one will agree with it, but feel free to voice your opinions in the comments.
See the countdown

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