Posts Tagged "staff picks"
A comiXologist Recommends:
Eric Arroyo recommends Boss Snake - Cold Blood, Cold Streets

Gate City’s underbelly is home to more than enough crime lords and cults for a single pulp action hero to take on. Covered in foreboding geometric spot-blacks and brought to life with ink wash textures, this post-WWII setting recalls the first decades of the superhero genre, with all the mobsters, mysticism, and mad science to go with it. But unlike Doc Unknown, the heroic pulp-revivalist adventure comic that introduced Boss Snake, Boss Snake: Cold Blood, Cold Streets turns its snake-eyes on the story’s villain and explores his rise to power.

In Doc Unknown #1, our hero summed up Boss Snake’s life as a brutal rags-to-riches story. But this embellished tale shows that on the road to controlling Gate City’s underworld, Snake lost much more than he could ever gain. Unlike Doc Unknown’s more whimsical adventures, Cold Blood, Cold Streets is a down-to-earth, Depression-era tragedy, with the most fantastical element being Snake’s own reptilian mug. Artist Ryan Cody and writer Fabian Rangel Jr. craft a world that’s out to get Snake, with deep shadows and gritty brush strokes lurking even in the corners of Snake’s happiest moments. The slick, contrast-rich art style couples design sensibilities that recall the time period with contemporary storytelling sophistication. Cody suggests time and place with specific and iconic details, making Gate City feel fully realized with just a few marks of the pen.

Cold Blood, Cold Streets doesn’t set out to reveal that Boss Snake deep down has a heart of gold. Instead, it builds his worldview, showing what happens when a man who’s hardly given a chance has to take everything that life refuses to give him. Boss Snake is a villain you learn to respect, but never forgive.

If you ever wanted to see the dark side of pulp adventure like The Rocketeer and The Spirit, coupled with a classic mob story, look no further than Boss Snake: Cold Blood, Cold Streets. And if you’d rather stick with the high-flying adventure, read about Doc Unknown’s exploits in his own title.

[Pick up Boss Snake - Cold Blood, Cold Streets here!]

For fans of: crime, supernatural

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 The Sandman: Overture #3

Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III’s The Sandman: Overture is the kind of series that you have to sit down and absorb in order to appreciate it fully. The art is mind-blowingly detailed and expansive, and the content of the story is cerebral and rich.

This series is the prequel to the acclaimed original Sandman series from way back in 1991.  In the beginning of that story, the protagonist, Dream of the Endless (the lord, master and literal embodiment of dreams), is returning to Earth, exhausted from a long battle when he is caught in a trap by a mediocre human sorcerer and kept prisoner for a long time, causing all kinds of problems. This story is the story of the epic battle and it so far it has been exactly that: epic.

In the first two issues, Dream encounters his alternate selves and learns of his death and the existence of a “mad star” (like the Sun, but crazy) that’s poised to destroy the universe. As a result, Dream must go stop this star, as, apparently, it is his fault that it’s mad to begin with.

In this issue, Dream goes over to the place where none of the Endless can go and then goes in anyway. Partnered with a giant cat version of yourself, Dream walks through a lawless land of dangerous criminals and murderers looking for answers. The story takes on a fantasy space western feel, which is actually pretty big right now.

J.H. Williams III’s art is nuts, and perfect for this book. There’s no other way to describe it except imagination made physical. There are also a bunch of little familiar nuggets in this story that make you want to go back and read the original series again and rediscover the magic all over again.

[Read The Sandman: Overture #3 on comiXology]

For fans of: fantasy, supernatural, mature content

Jonah Chuang is a Production Coordinator Assistant. He is very much looking forward to seeing the footage from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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.