Posts Tagged "mike isenberg"
A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends I Luv Halloween Vol. 1

Who doesn’t love Halloween?  As a kid it meant roaming around the neighborhood with friends and family, collecting enough free candy to last you to Thanksgiving.  As an adult it means an excuse to screen classic horror movies and throw crazy costume parties. 

The kids in I Luv Halloween—a dark comedy/horror series by Benjamin Roman  and Keith Giffen —however, take their love for trick-or-treating to a particularly insane extreme.  Nothing can stand between them and their sugary haul, and woe be to anything that dares try.  Whether their obstacles take the form of bullies, undead dogs, rampaging cheerleaders, supernatural curses, or old women who—god forbid—hand out apples instead of candy, these kids overcome all challenges with a singleminded and violent determination that borders on (the wrong side of) psychotic.

Right on the front cover of volume 1 is a blurb that serves double-duty as both critical praise and as a warning: “Crass, tasteless, and brilliant.”  Be aware that these trick-or-treaters aren’t your typical fun-loving scamps, up to a bit of harmless Halloween mischief.  Egging your car or toilet-papering your lawn isn’t really their style; instead they’re more likely to disembowel you with your own dentures, bash your head in with a rock, and bury you in a shallow grave just outside of town.

I Luv Halloween is definitely full of tasteless humor.  Some of the gags will make you, well, gag.  But it does have its aspects of brilliance as well.  This is schlocky slapstick horror done right.  Roman’s art is fresh and dynamic, and the coloring for this “Ultimate Twisted Edition” really makes the viscera visceral.

Recommended for fans of Johnny The Homicidal Maniac, Squee, and Lenore, as well as fans of bloody slapstick horror films like Re-Animator or Evil Dead 2, I Luv Halloween Vol. 1 releases today, with volumes 2 and 3 (featuring a zombie uprising and an alien invasion, respectively) slated for the next two weeks, leading up to Halloween.

[Read I Luv Halloween Vol. 1 on comiXology]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of First Law Of Mad Science .  He lives in Harlem with his cats, Tesla and Edison .

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Women

I have a confession to make: before Matt Fraction’s (mattfractionblog) current take on the character, I have never had any interest whatsoever in Hawkeye.  He was just some guy with a bow and arrow who dressed in purple and fought with the Avengers.  And (to pile up even more confessions) I’ve never really been that into the Avengers.  As I’ve mentioned here before, my super-hero tastes as a kid ran more towards the darker side of the Marvel universe.  Spandex and archery never really grabbed me much.

So when I first took a look at the current Hawkeye series, I was pleasantly surprised and very, very intrigued.  Just flip through a single issue, and you’ll see what I mean.  Instead of larger-than-life super-hero action In The Mighty Marvel Style!, the pages of Hawkeye are understated and cleverly designed and down-to-earth.  Rather than yet another solo super-hero book, Fraction et al. have delivered a consistently witty, brilliantly quirky street-level crime series that feels more at home on the indie comics rack than it does shelved next to Avengers and Superman.

For the last year or so, issues of the series have alternated between following “classic” Hawkeye Clint Barton, and “lady” Hawkeye Kate Bishop.  Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Woman collects all of the Kate Bishop issues into a single, cohesive story.

Fed up with Clint’s drama in New York, Kate packs up her things and heads west for a fresh start in Los Angeles.  Her voyage of self discovery gets a rocky start, however, and when she finds herself broke and friendless, she decides to hire herself out as a freelance investigator/crime-fighter in order to make ends meet.  Each issue sees Kate take on a new case, and the chapters are refreshingly self-contained, yet still succeed in building a satisfying arc for Kate and tying themselves together by the end of the volume.

The book also looks great.  Art duties fall to Javier Pulido for the first chapter (Hawkeye Annual #1), with Annie Wu (anniewu)  taking the helm for the rest of the volume.  Both are incredibly talented artists with fairly distinct styles, and the visual change actually works out great for the story.  Pulido’s crisp lines and simple design aesthetic mirror Kate Bishop’s optimism for the novelty and glamour of L.A. when she first arrives, while Wu’s grittier approach fits beautifully once things get tougher and Kate starts her investigations into L.A.’s darker side.

Whether you’re a die-hard Hawkeye fan or someone who, like me two years ago, couldn’t have told you the first thing about the character, you should absolutely pick up this book.  It’s charming, witty, and refreshingly fun.  Highly recommended. 

[Read Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Women on comiXology]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of First Law Of Mad Science.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, Tesla and Edison 

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommend Southern Bastards Vol.1: Here was a man

Southern Bastards is a gritty crime drama set in Alabama, written by JAson Aaron and drawn by jasonlatour . The story features Earl Tubb, a middle-aged former marine with a face like the front of a Mack truck, who returns to his Craw County hometown after 40 years away, to pack up his old family home.  Earl had left town to flee the shadow of his father, Bert Tubb, a larger-than-life county sheriff who seems to have been modeled after Buford Pusser of “Walking Tall” fame, including his own Big Stick for cracking criminal heads.

Intending to stay in Craw County for only three days, Earl finds himself drawn into sticking around after he steps in to stop an execution by the local crime racket.  Tubb soon begins to realize the scope of the violence, led by a High School football coach whose influence keeps the entire town under his thumb.  With the locals united against him, Tubb faces an internal struggle between his father’s looming legacy and his own desire to once again get out of town and not look back.

Southern Bastards shares a lot in common with Jason Aaron’s previous crime book, Scalped, which is also highly recommended.  Both feature an insular community under the violent sway of an influential leader, and the return of a “prodigal son” who sticks its nose where it may not belong.  Both books also focus on local history and family ties, though, and this is where the differences shine through; for both Scalped and Southern Bastards, the sense of place is palpable, and the settings themselves become powerful main characters in the stories.   Aaron and Latour were both raised in the South, and their brilliant characterizations and attention to details bring Craw County marvelously to life.

For anyone who enjoys a good violent crime drama with a side of grits and an ice-cold glass of sweet tea, Southern Bastards is highly recommended.

[Read Southern Bastards Vol. 1 on comiXology]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of First Law Of Mad Science . He lives in Harlem with his cats, Tesla and Edison.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends Fatale Vol. 5: Curse the Demon 

Fatale made me miss my subway stop.  I was re-reading the series last week to prepare for this review, and on my way home from work on Friday I ended up so engrossed in an issue I had already read that I completely failed to notice that we had arrived at my stop.  I’ve been getting off at this stop for over five years; I haven’t missed it in ages.  So the fact that I ended up walking an extra half-dozen blocks to get home that night, and that I didn’t particularly mind it, should speak volumes towards just how great this series is.

For the uninitiated: Fatale is a noir series tinged with Lovecraftian supernatural horror, from master storytellers Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. The story spans the length of the 20th century, up through the modern day, following the tumultuous life of Josephine, the ultimate femme fatale.  Cursed by supernatural powers, Josephine never ages and has the singular ability to bewitch any man she sees, whether she wants to or not.  Her “victims” fall desperately, obsessively in love with her, forgetting their wives, families, and careers in pursuit of her affections; as a result she is haunted by countless ruined lives that she’s left in her wake over the decades chronicled in the comic.

Volume 5 is the final book in the series, and while it’s bittersweet to see such a great comic come to an end, things are wrapped up here pretty well.  Nicolas Lash, who has been tracking Josephine in modern-day “interludes” throughout the series, finally gets the spotlight for a volume of his own, which feels like it’s been a long time coming.  Other loose ends are also fleshed out, such as the history of the tentacle-faced “Bishop” that’s been after Jo since volume 1, as well as the story behind Josephine’s son, of whom we’ve seen almost nothing since his photograph surfaced in volume 2.

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. Brubaker and Phillips have proven themselves masters of the noir genre, and have seamlessly incorporated supernatural horror into the mix for Fatale, resulting in one of the most engrossing page-turners I’ve read in years.

If you do pick it up, though, do make sure you put it down from time to time.  Or who knows where you’ll end up.

[Read Fatale Vol. 5: Curse The Demon on comiXology]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of First Law Of Mad Science.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, Tesla and Edison

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends Monster & Madman 

Jack the Ripper was in the headlines again last week, with claims surfacing of new DNA evidence pinning the 1888 London murder spree on Polish barber Aaron Kosminski.  Writer Steve Niles (arcaneimages) and artist Damien Worm, however, have another theory.

Monster & Madman tells the tale of Frankenstein’s monster, following the events of Mary Shelley’s classic novel.  Rather than burn himself to death on Victor Frankenstein’s funeral pyre, as he told the novel’s narrator he would, the monster decides to continue his life—as wretched as it is—and finds passage from the Arctic on a ship bound for Norway.

The monster eventually makes his way to London in 1888, just as a string of grisly murders is beginning to terrify the populace.  There he strikes a deal with mortician John Moore; if the monster allows Moore to examine him and discover the secrets of Victor Frankenstein’s work, Moore will grant the monster what Victor denied him: the creation of a companion to ease his loneliness.

Of course, Moore has his own secrets and motives, and his source for female body parts may not be the generous local hospital as he claims.

Steve Niles’ writing is in turns eerie and melancholy, matching Shelley’s original text in terms of both writing style as well as his characterization of the monster.

What makes Monster & Madman really shine, however, is definitely Damien Worm’s gorgeously grotesque artwork.  Worm’s moody collages of ink, paint, and newspaper clippings set a perfect tone for this creepy tale, and work wonderfully in letting the viewer see the world through the monster’s borrowed, reanimated eyes.

For fans of the Shelley’s classic novel, or of dark and moody horror in general, Monster & Madman is highly recommended.

[Read Monster & Madman on comiXology]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of First Law Of Mad Science.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, Tesla and Edison

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenburg recommends Requiem Vampire Knight Vol. 3: Dracula

Vampire Nazis in Hell battling zombie pirate nuns in airship-to-airship combat.  Does that get your attention?

Originally published in English by Heavy Metal magazine, Requiem: Vampire Knight is an insanely imaginative, over-the-top, and gorgeously illustrated fantasy horror series from French artist Olivier Ledroit and British writer Pat Mills.

Mills, sometimes known as “the godfather of British comics,” co-created the hugely influential sci-fi anthology series 2000 AD, and wrote many of the earliest stories for its best-known character, Judge Dredd.  He’s also well known for his ultraviolet superhero satire Marshal Law, drawn by Kevin O’Neil.

Requiem: Vampire Knight continues in Mills’ tradition of grim, violent satire.  In the gothic science-fantasy world that Mills and Ledroit have created, dead sinners are reborn as monsters in a dimension known as “Resurrection,” a dark mirror of Earth where land and seas are reversed and time flows backwards.  The story follows a German soldier named Heinrich who dies on the eastern front of World War II in 1944 and finds himself reborn on Resurrection as a vampire.  Initiated into an order of vampire knights who re-name him Requiem, Heinrich pines for his love Rebecca (a Jewish woman he lost to the Gestapo during the war on Earth) in an attempt to hold onto his humanity as he fights enemies both within and without the order.

The story is, well, kind of nuts… but in the best possible way!  Resurrection is a world full of atrocity and intrigue, and oh man does it look gorgeous. Ledroit’s masterful paintings bring this strange gothic world to life in a way that boggles the mind.  There are pages in this series that you’ll want to hang on your wall.

Fans of that other well-known British “grim-dark” gothic science-fantasy world, Warhammer 40,000, will definitely find a lot in common here to love.  As will anyone who likes a good horror/action story or beautifully painted comics, as long as you’re not too squeamish.

[Pick up Requiem Vampire Knight Vol. 3: Dracula here!]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of First Law Of Mad Science.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, Tesla and Edison.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends Wayward #1

As frequent anime convention attendees in the late 1990s, my friends and I had a theory that the primary export of Japan was Crazy.  With a mix of its own ancient folklore and a hodgepodge of external cultural and religious influences, the collective Japanese imagination seems to constantly produce work that could never have existed anywhere else, and that often seems wild and bizarre to foreign eyes.

Wayward #1’s protagonist, Rori Lane, has one such pair of foreign eyes.  Half-Japanese by birth, she begins the story traveling to Japan for the first time, moving there as a young adult to live with her mother and get a fresh start after her parents’ rough divorce.  What she experiences on her first night, however, goes well beyond culture shock and jet lag, and deep into the territory of the truly bizarre and supernatural.

Written by Jim Zub (jimzub) and drawn by Steve Cummings, Wayward is a supernatural action/adventure story steeped in Japanese folklore.  Just beneath the shadows of Zub & Cummings’ Tokyo is a world of mythical yōkai, mysterious and mischievous monsters of Japanese legend.

The book’s art is a pleasure to view.  Cummings’ line art is crisp and dynamic, and the colors (supplied by Zub and John Rauch) make each page really pop.  The action sequences are fluid and exciting, and Cummings’ deft hand with facial expressions gives the characters a significant level of depth and relatability.

Wayward #1 also features some great back-matter from Japanese folklore scholar Zack Davisson, including an overview of yōkai mythology throughout Japanese history and a short essay profiling the legendary roots of one of the monsters featured in this issue.  It certainly isn’t required reading if you’d rather just focus on the gorgeous action/adventure comic preceding it, but I found all of it really fascinating and informative.

Definitely recommended for fans of supernatural action/adventure stories like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or just anyone who wants to see feral, cat-like Japanese girls tearing into legendary turtle demons.  And really, who doesn’t?  If the chief export of Japan really is Crazy, then lock me in the nut house because I love this stuff.

[Read Wayward #1 Here!]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, TESLA AND EDISON

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends Devil Dinosaur

The king of comics takes on the king of the thunder lizards!

Jack “King” Kirby is inarguably one of the most influential comic creators of the last century.  By the end of the 1960s, Kirby had co-created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Inhumans, and Black Panther, all for Marvel comics.  In the first half of the 1970s, however, Kirby left Marvel for a five-year stint at DC, where he continued to astound readers with his incredible imagination and bombastic, innovative art style.

One of Kirby’s more successful creations at DC during this period was Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth, a series about a young boy’s adventures in a post-apocalyptic wilderness.

In the latter half the 70s, Kirby returned to Marvel, and Kamandi had been optioned for an animated television series.  With the buzz for DC’s Kamandi growing, Marvel decided that they needed their own Kirby-created young-boy-in-the-wild series, and so Devil Dinosaur was born.  But instead of the last human boy in the far-flung future, Devil Dinosaur features the first human boy in the far-flung past.  And also his best friend, a bright red tyrannosaurus rex.

Devil Dinosaur only ran for 9 issues but each issue is a gem.  Kirby’s artwork is a wonder to behold.  It’s said that Kirby’s forte was his dynamic and innovative depictions of power and strength; it’s hard to get much stronger or more powerful than a big ol’ dinosaur rampaging through the jungle.

The stories themselves are also great, brimming with Kirby’s delightfully imaginative weirdness.  Over the course of nine issues, Devil and Moon Boy encounter giant neanderthals, alien invaders, super-sized ants, dinosaur tamers, and a time-warp that briefly sends Devil rampaging into 1978.

Devil Dinosaur is a fantastic adventure series from a master of the medium.  Highly recommended.

[Read Devil Dinosaur Here!]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, TESLA AND EDISON

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends Zombillenium #2

Zombillenium Vol. 2 is finally here!  When Vol. 1 came out last summer it totally charmed my socks off, so I was very excited to see Vol. 2 on our release slate for this week.

For the uninitiated, Zombillenium is an absolutely gorgeous graphic novel series from French cartoonist and graphic designer Arthur de Pins.  The story centers on a “spooky” themed amusement park, the eponymous Zombillenium, and its highly unusual staff.  Park guests are wowed by the zombie make-up, ghostly special-effects, and monster costumes; little do they know that everything in the park is real.  After all, why use make-up when you can employ the legitimately undead?

If the set-up sounds a bit hammy, trust me when I say that de Pins’s superb execution lets this book soar high above its premise.  The characters are delightful, the writing is snappy and very funny (though you may have to excuse the occasional awkward translation), and did I mention that the art is absolutely gorgeous?  Each page was created digitally using Adobe Illustrator and the result is a distinctive, crisp, cartoony style that looks like no other book out there.  The characters are all lively and dynamic, the colors all pop; really I could just stare at this book for hours.

Volume 1 introduced us to the characters and the park, while management dealt with declining sales and a labor dispute with the Zombies Union.  This new volume keeps the focus on the running of the park, which is now having some trouble with the locals.  Employing thousands of undead, while the nearby area suffers double-digit unemployment for the living, will tend to ruffle some feathers.  When a couple of local villagers enact a plan to infiltrate and sabotage the park, they’ll find more than they bargained for beneath the rides and cotton-candy machines.

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.  It’s light-hearted with a distinctly dark edge; the characters are charming, the dialogue is witty, and the artwork is stunning.  Go check it out!

For fans of: comedy, horror, supernatural

[Read Zombillenium #2 Here!]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, TESLA AND EDISON

A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends 100th Anniversary Special: Avengers #1

Batman just celebrated his 75th anniversary.  Superman’s 75th was just a few months ago.  Not to be outdone, however, Marvel is now celebrating 100 years of Marvel comics!

Wait… that… doesn’t seem right.  2014 minus 1961… umm.  No that’s more like 53 years.  Maybe they mean Marvel’s predecessor, Timely Comics.  Let’s see, Timely debuted in… 1939.  Huh.

Okay, so Marvel as we know it still has 57 years before it can actually celebrate it’s 100 year anniversary.  As it turns out, though, these 100th Anniversary Special books that Marvel is releasing are from the future!

Marvel’s 100th Anniversary Specials are a series of one-shot glimpses into the Marvel Universe of the 2060’s.  Marvel has given some incredible talent free rein to let their imagination go wild, and the results are as fun, strange, and unexpected as… well, as Marvel announcing a 100th anniversary celebration in 2014.

The creator tapped for 100th Anniversary Special: Avengers #1 is none other than James Stokoe, the amazing talent behind Orc StainSullivan’s Sluggers, and Wonton Soup.  (Check out my colleague Jen’s great write-up of Wonton Soup here.)

Stokoe imagines 2063 as a rough year for the Avengers.  They’ve just barely halted an alien invasion, most of the world is in ruins and covered with alien spores, and the entire American continent (along with most of its heroes) has been lost into the Negative Zone.  Rogue, Doctor Strange, and Beta Ray Bill have returned to Avengers headquarters, re-located in Kuala Lumpur, to assist with the reconstruction effort when a new enemy emerges from the depths.

The book is strange and funny and gorgeously illustrated, all in Stokoe’s distinctively twisted style.  The setting of spore-covered Kuala Lumpur is a visual treat, full of hidden details and beautiful weirdness.

I’m always excited whenever Marvel lets talented indie creators really go wild with their characters (see also: Strange Tales and Strange Tales II), and Stokoe has absolutely pulled out all the stops here.  My only complaint is that there isn’t more.  I’m willing to wait for the next issue, though, even if it won’t happen for another 49 years…

[Read 100th Anniversary Special: Avengers #1 Here!]

Mike Isenberg is an Associate Production Coordinator at comiXology, and the co-writer of FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE.  He lives in Harlem with his cats, TESLA AND EDISON