Posts Tagged "staff picks"
A comiXologist Recommends:
Jen Keith recommends Watson & Holmes Vol. 1

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
-Sherlock Holmes 

Or in this case: when you have eliminated your comic to-read list, whatever remains, however good, it must be Watson and Holmes that you read next.

Modern adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and the steadfast Doctor Watson are in vogue with BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’ Elementary. Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi, with their own avant garde take, move the now African American pair from England and into Harlem, NYC for investigations into drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, and more. 

Despite the contemporary setting and subsequent changes to what we expect from a Holmesian story, it’s still entrenched in Doyle’s writing. Many crime dramas turn into procedural cop shows; Watson and Holmes keeps us in Watson’s shoes, observing Holmes’ genius while he himself steps into the spotlight as a force to be reckoned. As a fan of the original work I’m thrilled they maintained that quintessential vantage point while giving Watson the attention he deserves. Nods to the source material are scattered throughout, so fans of any version of Holmes and the uninitiated reader alike will find an engaging mystery for all tastes. 

Leonardi’s art keeps the distinct personalities of the characters and New York City intact. I never realized I was missing a Sherlock Holmes with dreadlocks in my life, but I was. Meanwhile, Mycroft and the Baker Street Irregulars a treat, and I eagerly await more of them. 

You may be familiar with a more traditional interpretation, but I highly recommend you pick up Watson and Holmes Vol. 1 for the collected issues #1 – 5 and a breath of fresh air in these well-loved characters. After all, the game is afoot.

[Read Watson & Holmes Vol. 1 Here!]

For fans of: crime, drama, action

Jen Keith is a Digital Editor at comiXology, comic artist, music addict, and would like you to know that Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson” in the original stories.

A comiXologist Recommends:
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

A comiXologist Recommends:
Emily Forster recommends The Sleep of Reason

If you’ve been let down by supposedly scary stories that fail to scare, you must read The Sleep of Reason. If you want to read something “different” but nothing so far has been different enough, you must read The Sleep of Reason. If you’re an appreciator of the impressive range of style and vision in comics, you must read The Sleep of Reason. In short, you must read The Sleep of Reason - if you’re feeling brave enough.

This independent horror anthology boasts “No Zombies. No vampires. No werewolves. No familiar solutions… Let us give you something to be afraid of.” They mean it. Each of the 34 creators featured in this book has done their part to remind us that the genre of “horror” means more than just “containing monsters or spooky elements,” and should mean “actually horrifying.” The suspenseful, the gruesome, the psychological, the fantastical, and even the all too real - every flavor of creepiness you can think of has a place in this collection. Each short comic is so different from the next that it might seem odd for them to be in the same book at all, if it weren’t for the same pure relish in the eerie and sinister they all share.

Any anthology of works by so many different contributors tends to have a few great comics mixed in with some not-so-great ones, so I was surprised and delighted to find that every one of these 26 stories is exceptional in its own right. A few of my favorites are “Old Echoes” by Lety R-Z and Stevan Zivadinovic, a classicly creepy tale with a fantastic payoff, “Growth” by Melanie Gillman, which legitimately made me lose my appetite, and “Artifacts” by Evan Dahm, which might be one of the most brilliantly imaginative comics I’ve read all year. Of course, many more than just these stuck with me… including some I kind of wish I could forget.

If your hunger for the weird and the wicked can’t be satisfied by just one book, check out dark fantasy series Locke and Key and collection of Jack Davis’ classics ‘Taint the Meat… It’s the Humanity!  But before you rush off to read The Sleep of Reason, take note that it does contain some pretty disturbing content - whether that’s a warning or an encouragement is up to you.

[Read The Sleep of Reason on comiXology]

For fans of: horror, anthologies, supernatural

Emily Forster is a Digital Editor at ComiXology and a cartoonist. She likes comics about food and fights to the death.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Jonah Chuang recommends Robin Rises: Omega #1

Robin Rises is an event that builds off of stories from the stories we loved from the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe while mixing in the most exciting elements of the New 52. The recent Batman/Superman and Batman and Robin books have been setting up the stakes for this crossover so that they seem higher than ever. There’s a reality-bending gem involved that can end the world if it falls into the wrong hands on top of the chance that Batman might be able to get his son back. However, there’s also the risk that Robin might be manipulated by his grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul, into becoming something that would go against everything Batman stands for.

This issue is a really well executed starting point. There’s a detailed recap at the top of the story to refresh old readers’ minds and orient new readers to what’s going on. It also shows a side of Batman we’re not used to seeing. He’s angry and desperate, violently lashing out at friends.

The most exciting aspect of this story is the implications it will have on the Bat family. In the past, Robins have experienced dramatic deaths (both literal and figurative) and then enjoyed profound, long-lasting rebirths into new identities— whether it’s Dick Grayson into Nightwing (and more recently into an Agent of Spyral), Jason Todd to the Red Hood, or Steph Brown to the new Batgirl. As dear as the old guard has been to Bruce Wayne, none of them have ever been his flesh and blood so one can only imagine how Batman will be affected by all of this. Additionally, Damian is one of the most complex and tumultuous characters to date, and I can’t wait to see what kind of transformation he goes through, or who he’ll be when he comes out the other side.

[Read Robin Rises: Omega #1 on comiXology]

For fans of: action, superheroes

Jonah Chuang is a Production Coordinator Assistant. His spirit animal is Karl Pilkington.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Harris Smith recommends Spread #1

The end of the world, or rather what happens after the end of the world, is big in the cultural consciousness right now.  In the past month, The Leftovers and The Last Ship have debuted on television and Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer has opened in cinemas.  Recent comics have presented a diverse array of post-apocalyptic scenarios as diverse as The Wake, Kranburn, Crossed: Badlands and The New 52: Futures End.  The latest among these is Spread, which proposes a particularly treacherous landscape replete with disease, roving bands of marauders and deadly tentacled monsters straight out of John Carpenter’s The Thing.

At the center of this chaos is a lone wanderer known only as No.  Speaking very little and wielding a pair of hatchets with deadly skill, No recalls the antiheroes of classic Spaghetti westerns or Samurai films.  In fact, as No finds himself caring for an infant in this debut story, Spread specifically recalls the classic Manga and film series, Lone Wolf and Cub.

Whatever the reason for this current spate of end-of-days narratives, Spread is a welcome addition.  It’s good, gory fun for fans of horror and action.  The monsters, bright red and dripping with goo, are some of the best I’ve seen in comics since the X-Men first encountered the Brood.  No makes for a compelling central figure.  He’s tough but not ostentatious, grim yet compassionate.  I’m looking forward to seeing where Spread goes.  Issue one is enthralling and shows the potential for an exciting, unpredictable new comic.

[Read Spread #1 on comiXology]

For fans of: horrorscience fiction

Harris Smith is a Brooklyn-based comics and media professional. In addition to his role as a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology, he edits several comics anthologies, including Jeans and Felony Comics, under the banner of Negative Pleasure Publications. He’s also the host of the weekly radio show Neagtive Pleasure on Newtown Radio.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Jen Keith recommends Chicacabra

Isabel Sanchez, also known as Izzy, loves beetles and her Uncle and smoking with her friends. She doesn’t love pretending that everything is okay at her high school when her life and family were torn asunder only a short time ago. Still lost in a haze of getting along day by day while her own mother serves as a painful reminder of her loss, Izzy’s life is upturned once again as one lost girl becomes two when a chupacabra makes her its host body in Chicacabra.

Tom Beland's cartooning is simple yet so very expressive. With a few lines he's able to pull and engage you into a folklore of his own creating. The poignant scenes of familial bonding balance wonderfully with the comical moments of Izzy hulking out into a bloodthirsty creature that, despite being the stuff of horror legends, is just as endearing and clueless as the teen girl it inhabits. Chupacabras aren't just goat-sucking creatures; their myth is revived into something new and heart-wrenching.

On top of the folklore of the less-explored chupacabra and vejigante (which had a fascinating interpretation and I’d love to see a book just exploring Beland’s vejigante retelling), we’re brought to a new environment not as common in comics: Puerto Rico. The culture is as lush as the cast is emotive through Beland’s detail and specific locales, and it’s refreshing to see a different city from the usual set.

For lovers of expressive black and white comics, mythology, and finding your strength in times of loss, check out I Kill Giants for more young heroes finding their strength to conquer and, in time, accept what life throws at them. Until then, bring your love of folklore and a box of tissues with you for reading Chicacabra.

[Read Chicacabra Here!]

For fans of: female leads, POC leads, horror

Jen Keith is a Digital Editor at comiXology, comic artist, music addict, and kind of wants a chupacabra of her own now.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Michael Crowe recommends Spider-Man 2099 #1

The Spider-man of 2099 has found himself stranded in the present…with no way home. What’s a spider to do 85 years away from home? Fight vintage crime, of course! Miguel O’Hara is now more determined than ever to preserve the safety of the future by defending it’s past. But with present day challenges and future threats slipping through the timestream, that’s easier said than done.

Spider-man 2099 #1, written by Peter David, is a perfect reintroduction of a fan favorite character. This issue, part slice of life and part superheroics, follows Miguel as he adjusts to his new life in this time period. The writer is able to forge a very clear voice and identity for Miguel; distinct from the countless other heroes who have worn the red and blue. He also introduces us to a sassy new character, Tempest, who may surprisingly prove to be the first friendly face in an unfamiliar time. The art, by Will Sliney (wsliney), is emotive and dynamic. It also manages to capture a true New York City vibe, reminding readers that the city is as much of a character as any person in the book. The colors, done by Antonio Fabela, compliment the art and add a warmth and vibrancy to the characters and backgrounds; the colors pop and glow.

To find out how Miguel got his extraordinary powers check out Spider-man 2099 Vol. 1, first published all the way back in 1992! Then pick up Superior #17, 18 and 19 to see how he ended up a Spider-man out of time.

[Read Spider-Man 2099 #1 on comiXology]

For fans of: ActionSuperheroes

Michael Crowe works on the digital assets/launch team by day and writes comics and prose by night. He’s an avid consumer of comics and all things sci-fi.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Eric Arroyo recommends Head Lopper #1

Head Lopper is a rich and kinetic comic that explores the essence of sword and sorcery.

This opening story follows Norgal, the titular Head Lopper, to Scotland, where his profession of hired decapitator brings him into conflict with a towering beast. But his challenges only begin with feats of extreme violence, traveling through a world of corrupted morals and cursed with the heckling of a witch’s severed head.

Norgal is a mile-wide warrior of few words, and neither he nor cartoonist andrewmaclean has much need for those. MacLean depicts a battle of great combatants and greater stakes with precision and clarity; his streamlined art style breaks each beat of action down to its essential elements, yet never loses any dynamism in the process. Coupled with meticulously laid out panels, the visual storytelling keeps the reader involved with every step of the chaotic battle. Even in the book’s quieter moments, MacLean’s page structure and use of clear icons show a strong sense of visual timing that brings the page to life.

And that world that MacLean and colorist Mike Spicer bring to life is harsh and brooding, ripe with desolate architecture and complicated characters. Spicer’s colors add a haze of dread that grounds the comic’s over-the-top adventure. While the action-adventure storytelling is thrilling and efficient, the carefully curated details of the world surrounding Norgal’s adventure highlight its unique flavor, revealing a place where greedy men are the true monsters, sinister magic lurks behind every pebble, and a man finds his own way to stand for justice.

If the pulp adventure of gailsimone and Walter Geovani’s Red Sonja makes you let out a barbarian roar, or if you’re haunted by the gloomy fantasy in Becky Cloonan’s The Mire, swing for the neck with Head Lopper!

[Pick up Head Lopper #1 here!]

For fans of: comedyfantasymythology

Eric Alexander Arroyo is a Brooklyn-based cartoonist and a Digital Editor at comiXology. He’s probably drawing giant robots or listening to ABBA.

A comiXologist Recommends:
Jonah Chuang recommends Grayson #1

Dick Grayson is dead to the world but alive in our hearts and in this book. As evidenced by the title, Dick has dropped his bird-themed moniker and ventured out on his own. Following the events of Forever Evil, the former Robin/former Nightwing has had his secret identity revealed to the world and as a result, has been forced to be reborn as a secret agent for the mysterious group, Spyral.

When I first heard about this switch, I was disappointed. I thought Nightwing had the second coolest costume of the Bat-family (next to Batwoman) and Dick Grayson was one of the most interesting characters both in and out of costume. However, I’ll admit that this new direction does feel fresh, and proves that Dick’s strong enough to step out of Batman’s shadow.

Grayson is also an excellent title for this book. Sometimes I forget that Nightwing’s “powers” come from him being an amazing physical specimen. For the most part, we only ever see him doing incredible maneuvers in costume, and his acrobatic and martial arts abilities seem like a factor of his suit and gadgets, but seeing Dick channel his inner James Bond really reminds you of the human factor in Gotham’s heroes.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of this book is the supporting cast. Without ruining too much, in this first issue, we’re treated to some pretty spectacular appearances. We get to meet Spyral, one of the trippiest characters I’ve encountered in recent history, then see our hero face off against one very deadly hero from one of DC’s other titles, and finally we see the New 52 debut of a fan favorite pre-Flashpoint heroine.

Grayson #1’s not to be missed!

[Read Grayson #1 on comiXology]

is a Production Coordinator Assistant at comiXology. His favorite Mikaelson brother is Elijah.

For fans of: action, superheroes, espionage

Jonah Chuang is a Production Coordinator Assistant at comiXology. His favorite Mikaelson brother is Elijah.

A comiXologist Recommends:
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