Posts Tagged "mike isenberg"
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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Mike Isenberg recommends Dark Engine #1

Written by Ryan Burton and illustrated by John Bivens, Dark Engine #1 is a fantastically weird, gory, and beautiful romp through a strange alien world.

The story features a female warrior named Sym, created by alchemists to travel back in time and defeat the evil that plagues them in the past like some sort of berzerk lady Terminator.  But the source of Sym’s power, the alchemical Dark Engine implanted deep within her, is unpredictable, and the outcome of her mission is far from certain.

Issue #1 plunges us directly into the deep end of the strange world that Burton and Bivens have created.  The book introduces the setting and a few characters, but this place is weird, and very little is explained directly to the reader.  Instead we are left to piece together the what, when, and why from context and a few snippets of dialogue.

Between those few dialogue scenes are a number of gorgeously rendered action sequences, mostly concerning Sym cutting her way through dinosaurs and monsters, covering herself with blood and viscera along the way.  Bivens executes these beautifully, with a rough-yet-purposeful brush style that evokes the work of artists like Paul Pope and Nathan Fox.

The near-impenetrable weirdness of Dark Engine’s setting gives it a plapable sense of alienation and danger.  That so little is explained directly to us only serves to make the world feel more real and alive.  Fans of Brandon Graham’s (royalboiler) excellent Prophet revival will feel right at home here.  Dark Engine #1 leaves us with a lot of questions, but it takes us on a wonderfully trippy ride along the way.  Definitely worth checking out!

[Read Dark Engine #1 Here!]

For fans of: sci-fisupernatural, action

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

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Mike Isenberg recommends The Life After #1

Is your life bland and repetitive?  Do you find yourself in a monotonous cycle of unsatisfying experiences?  You might be dead.

The Life After—by joshfialkov and Gabo (galvo) —is a comic about a very boring afterlife.  The book itself, however, is anything but.

The book’s protagonist is a man named Jude who seems to be sleepwalking through life.  Every morning he wakes up on his couch, takes a bus through heavy traffic to a mind-numbing job, busses home, and passes out on his couch in front of his TV.  Everything in his world is mildly uncomfortable, unsatisfying, and bland.  And it’s all on an endless loop.

Until one day he gets off his bus early and does something that nobody has done in two thousand years.

It’s hard to say too much about issue #1 without spoiling things.  “Things are not as they seem,” as the cliché goes, and the opening chapter of The Life After is mostly concerned with Jude trying to piece together what’s going on.  The mystery is compelling, though, and the literary figure that turns up towards the end to play Virgil to Jude’s Dante has me excited to see where this series will be headed.

Be warned that this book is dark.  The Life After #1 deals quite a bit with suicide and the experiences that might drive a person to that point.  Some of the scenes are downright grisly.  But if you’re up for a dark, weird, and mysterious supernatural tale, this comic will absolutely scratch that itch.  For a book about the dead, The Life After definitely has some life in it.

[Read The Life After #1 Here!]

For fans of: actionsupernatural

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

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Mike Isenberg recommends The Bargain Vol. 1

It’s New Year’s Eve 1955, and Jackson Connolly owes a debt that’s about to be due.  Ten years ago he made a bargain with a supernatural power; now his life and his soul will be forfeit, unless he can find a way out of the deal before the ball drops on 1956.

The Bargain, by Kara Barrett and J.C. Grande, is a supernatural noir comic that makes its way to us via Kickstarter and comiXology Submit.

Barrett and Grande successfully weave an atmospheric tale of southern horror and supernatural gloom.  In his quest for redemption, Jackson will travel from the swamplands of Louisiana to the burlesque clubs of New Orleans.  Along the way he’ll meet ghosts, witches, hell-hounds, and gods.  Jackson is determined to wheel and deal with all of them, hoping that his wits will be enough to free him of his debt, but he knows that he’s running out of time.

The ticking clock of Jackson’s soul-debt gives the book a palpable sense of doom and desperation that keeps the reader on their toes.  With the stakes so high—it’s not only his life on the line, but also an eternity of hellfire and torment—Jackson thinks he’s prepared to do anything to reach his goal.  But how far will he really go?  And even if he can break the bargain and save his soul, what will be left of it to save?

Volume 1 is a self-contained story, but it leaves room for more to follow.  The world that Barrett and Grande have created is fascinating and I hope there’s a Volume 2 in the works.  For fans of atmospheric supernatural noir stories like Hellblazer or Ten Grand, I can definitely recommend checking out The Bargain.

[Read The Bargain Vol. 1 Here!]

For fans of: action, noir, supernatural

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

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Mike Isenberg recommends Sex Criminals
by mattfractionblog and zdarsky

My recommendation for this week is Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky.  And if I said that I wasn’t the least bit worried that recommending this book might make me look like some sort of a pervert or weirdo, I’d be lying.  So it’s a testament to just how good the book is that I’m writing this recommendation anyways.  And it definitely speaks to one of the major themes of the series, and exactly what makes Sex Criminals such a refreshing and interesting read.

Let’s get the basic premise out of the way, first.  The book is about a woman named Suzie with the strange ability to freeze time around herself whenever she orgasms.  When she meets a man, Jon, who has the same ability, they decide to use their power to go on a bank-robbing spree in order to save a library from foreclosure.

What makes Sex Criminals such a great read is the way it handles its subject matter (namely: sex and sexuality).  It’s easy to see how the same premise, in the hands of lesser creators, could have been used to tell a titillating and exploitative story.  Instead, Fraction and Zdarksy have used it to tell a deeply personal and human story of sexual awakening and discovery, in an incredibly funny, irreverent, and entertaining way.

Before they meet, Suzie and Jon both assume that they are alone in their orgasmic time-freezing ability.  We see them as adolescents and young adults, trying to learn about their sexuality, and finding a world that doesn’t want to talk about it.  While the rest of us may not have sexual super-powers, the story is nevertheless extremely relatable.  The taboo around sexual discussion keeps people uninformed, confused, and ashamed about an intrinsic part of their own humanity.  Sex Criminals tears away this taboo like a band-aid that has outstayed its welcome.  And the way it does it is both endearing and laugh-out-loud funny.

Sexuality is universal, and yet so rarely is it openly discussed.  It’s treated as a secret, something to talk about in whispers and keep in darkness.  Sex Criminals shines a light on that darkness in a new and unique way.  And standing in that light, I’m happy to recommend this book without hesitation.  Go check it out!

[Read Sex Criminals #6 Here!]

For fans of: humorbrimping, twerging

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