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Graphic Spotlight – Black Hammer Vol. 1: Secret Origins

What happens when the world’s greatest heroes are trapped on a farm?

Okay, so that seems like a bit of a crazy setup, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. The first collection of writer Jeff Lemire (Royal City, Descender, Bloodshot Reborn), artist Dean Ormston (The Sandman), and colorist Dave Stewart (Hellboy), brilliant new series, Black Hammer,  has at last arrived. Here’s your choice to get to know the mysterious past of the heroes of Spiral City. In these first six issues you’ll learn more about Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien! Get glimpses of what happened ten years ago that forced them into seclusion on a timeless farming town where they lead simple lives including dinner parties the likes of which you’ll never forget. As they attempt to free themselves from this pastoral limbo, a new outsider will force them back into one heroic action, perhaps, for the last time.

The creators will take you on a whirlwind tour-de-force of character-driven storytelling. There’s so much love for superheroes in this series while at the same time Lemire, Ormston, and Stewart are fearless in offering twists on all the familiar tropes. Your expectations about who these heroes are and were will be exploded and rewarded. The plotting is structured in such a way as to keep you guessing but without feeling as though anything is unearned. Everything you love about heroes is in here and everything you’ve come to be weary about the genre is addressed. There’s almost nothing you can’t enjoy about this series.

Evoking classic tales of 1950’s superheroics and still presenting a “family” of compelling characters, this may be the best new superhero universe in years. If you’re looking for a book to rekindle your love of what superhero comics are capable of, then read Black Hammer. ‘Nuff said.

Collects issues #1–#6 of the series.

 

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Graphic Spotlight – BATGIRL VOL. 1: BEYOND BURNSIDE

Batgirl’s world tour starts here!

No corner of the DC Universe hasn’t been touched by the events of Rebirth. For most all of DC’s titles it’s been an incredible fresh slate, not a reboot, but a new point to jump on and take the characters towards stories that feel earned, logical, self-contained without being disconnected, and delivering some the strongest stories from the publisher in a long time and on time. DC’s promise of a new direction for its characters in a way that doesn’t discount the last five years while still providing a new jumping on point for new or casual fans continues in the first collection of Batgirl’s newest adventures, Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside.

Barbara Gordon’s return to the cape and cowl was met with great trepidation back in the old days (you know, 2011). Gail Simone wrote a three year story of healing, both physically and emotionally, grounding Barbara in overcoming the trauma that put her in a wheelchair for years of her life. It was a tricky line to walk and Simone began with a good jumping off point that grew into one of the best books DC was publishing. Then came the pop-tastic makeover by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr.

Barbara was given a neighborhood of Gotham to call her own, the eponymous Burnside. It was a fresh new take on Babs and her world, where she was a brilliant student and a superhero establishing her own independence from the Bat-family.

Now, New York Times best-selling creators Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time) and Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire) will take Batgirl on a journey to elevate her skills. The trek will include stops in hotspots like Okinawa, Singapore, Seoul, and even Shanghai. Everywhere she goes, Batgirl’s life will be threatened by lethal warriors who all bear a mysterious mark indicating “The Student.” Which, of course, baits the question that if there are students, Batgirl will need to track down their teacher…

As Batgirl goes on her own international hunt for the leader of this mysterious group of fighters, she’ll improve her own skills and cross paths with legendary heroes. If you’ve been waiting for Barbara Gordon to ascend into the grander scale of the superhero community then the wait is over.

Collects Batgirl #1-6

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Val’s Toy Chest- Two Cats, A Riddler and an Instant Team…

DC Collectibles is back at it this week with two brand new pieces in their Batman: The Animated Series line. This time around, the characters hail from the Kids WB iteration of The New Batman Adventures.  Catwoman comes in her sleek all-black outfit, complete with her blue-green makeup, interchangeable hands, her cat, a whip and a figure base. Selina comes with the usual points of articulation you’ve come to expect by now from a DC Collectibles Batman Animated figure. Ms. Kyle isn’t the only Bat-Rogue to arrive this week, as Edward Nygma himself- The Riddler also makes his appearance in this line.  Dressed in his lime green jumpsuit complete with matching bowler hat, the Riddler features multiple points of articulation, a question mark cane, interchangeable hands and a figure base.

That’s not all arriving this week from DC Collectibles either. DC’s Icons series may have slowed down a bit, but here’s a chance to get a full team for a fairly decent price. Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg all appear in this Rebirth Justice League box set with each figure standing about 6″ tall.  If past DC Collectibles box sets are any indication, this one will be popular.

In other toy news- Black Panther is imminent- fans of Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of the Wakandan Prince T’Challa in last summer’s Captain America: Civil War will love this new addition to the ever popular Hot Toys line. I anticipate that he will be in store either by the time you read this article or shortly after. Black Panther will feature a highly articulated 1/6 scale body, authentically detailed costuming, interchangeable hands and a character base. With everyone asking about this figure, I anticipate this one will fly out of here.

I don’t typically post about prop replicas in this column, but there is a really sweet inexpensive piece coming to us via Sideshow from QMX. I first saw this piece at Toy Fair and was blown away by the look and the pricing. Based on the prop’s appearance in the recent DC Cinematic Universe films, the iconic Batarang sits atop a magnetic display base and is made from a zinc alloy. It is also a 1:1, so it is life-sized. I think you’ll probably like this one, once you see it.

Funko POPs are still going strong and we have one new addition that I think you’ll be excited for. Fans of the Netflix series, Daredevil can now add the titular hero to their POP collection as he appeared in the second season of his hit show. Joining him is the famed assassin herself, Elektra. No word on the Punisher yet, but it should be soon.

Briefly:

DC’s Multiverse line from Mattel is dropping in limited numbers this week, this assortment will feature Batman Jim Gordon, The Batgirl of Burnside, Dark Knight Returns Joker, The false Jay Garrick from The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow’s Hawkman and a collect and connect figure of King Shark. More cases should arrive soon.

Make it So with Titans’ Star Trek: The Next Generation blind box series. Each blind box features one of the classic characters from the nearly 30 year old series. Picard, Beverly and Wesley, Tasha Yar, Geordi, Data, Worf, Riker and Troi are all here as well as some of their most memorable foes. You know I’ll be collecting this one hard.

I am expecting a pretty massive restock on Funko items in the store, so if you are in the mood for a POP or Dorbz or even Mystery Minis you might have missed, come check us out, we may have what you need.

That’s all for me folks- catch you next week!

 

 

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The Main Event of Thor vs. Thanos In THE UNWORTHY THOR #5

Will Odinson become the Mighty Thor once more?

Jason Aaron‘s mini-series following Odinson’s quest for Ultimate Thors hammer reaches its finale this week! Odinson has battled off all who stood in his way including the Collector and Black Swan. With the help of his old friend, Beta Ray Bill, he has at last reached the location of the weapon that will make him the Mighty Thor once more. Will he be found worthy and wield a hammer fit for Thor again? One more challenger stands in his way who plans to pick up the weapon before Odison can: Thanos, the Mad Titan.

The final battle is here between two figures in the Marvel Universe who’ve undergone major trials and tribulations over the last couple years of comics. Who will lay the ultimate smacketh down? To say Jason Aaron’s been building up his Odinson saga with the greatest touch of craft and care is a bit of an understatement at this point. With art from Pascal Alixe and Aaron Kim Jacinto the final chapter of this book of Thor should be astounding.

At long last we’ve been promised to know what Nick Fury said to Thor Odinson during Original Sin that made him unworthy. The question we’ve been waiting an answer for since 2014 is at hand. Undoubtedly, all the answers we finally get will also pose a few more questions.  Whatever happens next, it’s one of those rare moments in superhero comics where the old lyric, “times, they are a’changin'” feels appropriate.

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War Is Coming In X-O MANOWAR #1

Your favorite new sci-fi epic begins in the pages of X-O MANOWAR #1

Do you like Seven to Eternity and Old Man Logan? Congratulations, the book you didn’t realize you’ve been waiting for is hitting shelves this week from one of the most critically acclaimed publishers in all of comics. From the mad genius of Matt Kindt (Grass Kings, Dept. H, Rai) and featuring the stunning art of Tomas Giorello, comes a new sci-fi western war epic that will enthrall you.

This is a master class in character-driven storytelling and world building. You owe it to yourself to follow the bloody rise of Aric of Dacia, on a world far from Earth, where he will rise up the ranks in a war he doesn’t want to fight in but will escalate with a weapon he swore to never use again.

Aric of Dacia fought against the brutal Roman Empire and became a warrior prince. He and his people were captured by a cruel alien race, made their slaves for what they thought was close to three years. Aric led his people home by bonding with a weapon of mass destruction sacred to his captors: the X-O Manowar armor. When they arrived home, his people discovered themselves trapped in the present, refugees of a forgotten civilization. He grew into a hero for the planet Earth. That was then…

Far from Earth on a new and primitive word, Aric is living a quiet life as a farmer. He’s distanced himself from his violent past and the power of the X-O Manowar armor. But this new world he has exiled himself to has one thing he cannot escape from: War. Conscripted into an army, he will be forced to fight once more and he will give show this world war unlike any they’d imagined…by bonding once again with the armor that made him an unstoppable force. Follow his journey as he begins as the soldier, topples armies to become a general, “unites” warring civilizations to become their emperor, and ignites an interplanetary conflict.

Pick up your copy today!

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Val’s Toy Chest Extra- Who’s Who in the DC Universe- Hawkgirl

This week’s print issue of the Weekly Planet has another Who’s Who entry to commemorate the release of DC Collectibles’ brand new Hawkgirl/Kendra Saunders action figure from the CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. For the previous entry, go here.

Template based on the 1985 DC Comics series: Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe.

Layout: Justin Bacolo

Text: Valentine Chhann

Note: Height and Weight info was researched online for both this entry and the previous one.

HGWhosWho

 

 

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Graphic Spotlight: Britannia

Behold, the world’s first detective is on a case that threatens his very soul…unless he can defy the lore of the gods!

I’m cheating here, a little. Did it come out this week? No. BUT there’s a newer must-read in town and it’s my duty to make sure you know about it. I present to you, dear readers, Britannia from Valiant Entertainment.

Do you love the snarky and dark adventures of anti-heroes like John Constanine? Are you addicted to the political and fantastical drama of Game of Thrones? Do you want a great read for just $9.99 that’ll blow your mind with gorgeous art and smart characters? Then you’ve no excuse not to pick up the tale of Antonius Axia.

In 65 A.D., everything was considered the “will of the Gods.” Rome is at the peak of Nero’s reign. You owned nothing and nothing about you was considered your own. In this time, Antonius Axia serves for the glory of the Roman Empire as one of its veteran soldiers. After an experience that nearly ends his life, Antonius finds himself on the outskirts of Rome when he’s summoned by Caesar himself. He’s to be sent to one of the edges of the known world and investigate reports of abnormal and potentially monstrous events. Now, the world’s first detective will be thrust into a situation where belief and proof collide, where the most basic truths about existence as he’s known it will be challenged, and the lives of everyone on the journey are at stake.

Peter Milligan (Justice League Dark, Hellblazer) brings his comics genius to a world where the power of gods and the prowess of men will be shifted. This terrific tale of terror and temptation jumps off  the page by powerhouse artist Juan Jose Ryp (Clone, Wolverine: The Best There Is). Follow them down this disturbing and fascinating path as they craft a story that will scratch all the darker itches on your pull list.

Collecting BRITANNIA #1-4.

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Bear Witness To American Gods: Shadows #1

Neil Gaiman’s seminal 2001 novel gets its comic adaptation this week!

Why wait for the show on Starz? Sure, Bryan Fuller’s bringing a television series based on Neil Gaiman‘s Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Locus award-winning novel, American Gods. Before it airs though, Dark Horse Comics is beating the pay-channel to the punch with this gorgeous looking comic adaptation of one of Gaiman’s most beloved stories in American Gods: Shadows #1.

Past collaborators P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton will bring the story of Shadow Moon to the page for your eyes’ and soul’s benefit. Shadow Moon is set to be released from prison after spending years behind bars for an aggravated assault and battery charge. Shadow’s luck has turned though, just not necessarily for the better. He’s getting out early…because of his wife’s death. Hitting bottom, Shadow meets and becomes the bodyguard for a certain Mr. Wednesday. Except this is no normal body to guard. Shadow becomes entrenched in a world of the supernatural and a war between Gods of different eras. No one is who they seem and nothing they say they want can be trusted. How will Shadow navigate this new world and survive the impending war? You can begin to find out how (if) this New Comic Book Day!

Without any budgetary or imaginative constraints, there’s a lot to be excited for the lush visuals that have been released in preview pages thus far. Now, when are we going to get the Good Omens adaptation we’ve all been waiting for? Or am I the only one? Who’s with me?

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Women of the DC Universe and More

This week’s new toy releases provides us with a bevy of beauties. DC Comics’ beauties that is. All 5 of the newest DC Collectibles are the heroines and villainesses of the DC Universe. Which ones? Glad you asked!

Ant Lucia has been behind the DC Bombshells line for the past few years now and the statues have proven to be very popular. For those seeking a cheaper Bombshells line to collect, DC has you covered now. Part of their ongoing Designer series which have featured artists like Darwyn Cooke, Greg Capullo and Terry Dodson, the new Bombshells line kicks off with four brand new figures based on Lucia’s artwork. Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn feature the 40’s retro pin-up styling and are fully articulated and accessorized.  If you are a fan of the DC Bombshells, I think this line will be a hit.

If 40’s cheesecake isn’t quite your style, we’ve also got the brand new DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Hawkgirl action figure coming in.  Hawkgirl is based on actress Ciara Renee’s portrayal of the character from last season’s Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow episodes. Though Hawkgirl hasn’t been around this season, she can join your collection of CW DC heroes forever with this release. Kendra features several points of articulation(including her wings), interchangeable hands and a mace weapon. Collect the rest of her teammates(so far) with the recently released Firestorm and last year’s Heat Wave figure.

Other things of note this week:

Mezco’s 1:12 line may be the hottest new toyline of the year and we have restocks on Daredevil and Green Arrow scheduled to arrive, as well as the Flash making his debut in the line.

Power Rangers Legacy Assortments 1 and 2 are back this week as well. If you need any of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, particularly the Green and Red ones, this may be your last chance to get these guys. Series 3 should be hitting in a matter of weeks too.

Star Wars Black are also coming back in with limited numbers of Leia, Obi-Wan, Sabine Wren, Darth Revan, The Empire Strikes Back Snowtrooper and the AT-AT Driver back in store. Leia and Obi-Wan are both scheduled to be in the forthcoming 40th Anniversary vintage collection, but this particular Leia sculpt has been changed for the new line, so if you want this version, the time is now.

Hot Toys’ Chewbacca is in from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and he is pretty cool looking. Fully poseable with a generous amount of fur, Chewie comes with his trademark bandolier and bowcaster as well as interchangeable hands and a base to stand on. If you love the character, this Wookiee is for you!

Anyway that’s all for me this week. Catch you all next time with more toy news.

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The Amazing Spider-Man #25 Plans To Over-deliver!

The “Osborn Identity” begins here!

With the “Clone Conspiracy” now a thing of the past, officially at least, it’s time for Peter Parker’s next chapter to begin afresh from writer Dan Slott and incoming superstar artist Stuart Immonen. To celebrate, the folks at Marvel are attempting to go a couple extra miles by making this issue FORTY pages. Mr. Slott has been crafting one of the most significant runs in all of Spidey’s history and there’re no signs of him slowing down. It’s time for Mr. Slott to bring forth the epic confrontation that all Spider-Man fans know you can count on like death and taxes: Spidey vs The Green Goblin! Well, maybe…This time, Peter Parker’s on the hunt for Norman Osborn. The big twist? This is an Osborn without the goblin serum pumping through his veins that makes him an insane super-villain who revels in killing the people Parker loves and Spider-Man gets close to. How will this next phase of the webslinger’s adventures pan out? There’s only one place to look and that’s in this week’s The Amazing Spider-Man #25.

But wait: THERE’S MORE! I mentioned this was Stuart Immonen’s debut as the ongoing artist for the series? Well, he’s not the only one that’s coming aboard the Spider-Man train. There’s a backup feature written by Mr. Slott with art by Giuseppe Camuncoli. AND Hannah Blumenreich writes and draws a flashback tale to Spidey’s more formative years. AND Christos Gage pens a new tale featuring the classic villain (you know he is) Clash. AND that’s not all but I’m running low on web fluid.

Want to know more? Don’t ask me, ask Dan Slott himself who will be at Forbidden Planet signing the same day The Amazing Spider-Man #25 comes out. Official start time is 6pm. Don’t miss out, or you’ll be missing out.

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Creative Conversation: Ibrahim Moustafa

Welcome to a Creative Conversation with creator Ibrahim Moustafa. Here we give you a chance to get inside the mind, learn some in depth background, and discuss the creative process of some of comics’ best writers and artists. In our first Creative Conversation I had the opportunity to speak with the artist behind Vertigo’s smashingly good new series, “Savage Things.” If the Bourne franchise went down the horror route, you have an inkling of what’s in store for you with this book. Ibrahim gives a better sum up a little further down. We talked about first comics, must reads, stories that stick with us as young comic fans, how this new series came about and who would be on Ibrahim’s own personal Mount Rushmore of comic book artists. Agree? Disagree? Find out!

MK: So let’s start with a little background because in all our conversations I’m not sure I know this: How did your journey lead you to working in comics?

IM: I was always drawing as a kid, and some of my earliest memories are of watching the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies. Not long after that I discovered the Ninja Turtles and Batman 66 TV shows, and was obsessed with them all. I had and read a few comics as a kid and was always drawing the aforementioned. I got much more into collecting and reading comics when I discovered the X-Men cartoon in the early 90s, and I would hoard those Fleer Ultra 93 and 94 X-Men cards sets as a kid.

I fell out of comics for a long time as I got into sports a bit. And then in high school I was heavily into drawing graffiti art and breakdancing. When I was a Junior, “Smallville” had come out and rekindled my love of Superman. Someone gave me a book called “The Complete History Of Superman” and it had a few Alex Ross paintings in it, which completely blew my mind. I had no idea you could do *that* with superheroes.

That sent me down the rabbit hole of “Who is this guy? How is he doing this? What is he painting with? What else has he done?” From there I found “Kingdome Come” and started going to the comic shop, and that ignited my interest in drawing superheroes again. After a short while I realized that people were drawing comics for a living, and I began a very disciplined, regimented plan to make that my reality as well.

It worked (laughs)!

MK: That’s epic! What was your local comic shop when you were getting heavily into it?

IM:The first one I wandered into was a small one-off called Hidden Treasures or something to that effect, but they closed down shortly after. Then a friend that I worked with told me that there was a place called Things From Another World that was literally blocks away from our job. And they became my regular supplier in the formative era of my comics addiction, haha.

MK:They’re a great operation out in the Portland area. Other than Alex Ross, who were some other artists that got you jazzed into drawing superheroes and comics again?

IM: There have been SO many, but the ones that have stayed an influence/inspiration regardless of my changing interests are probably Stuart Immonen, David Mazzucchelli, and Lee Bermejo. As I’ve burrowed deeper into comics and it’s artistic masters, I’d say my Mount Rushmore consists Alex Ross, Stuart Immonen, Alex Toth, and Jorge Zaffino.

MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore.

IM: It is!

MK:I dig it. Before we go too far off topic: Favorite X-Men character?

IM: Cyclops (I know), Wolverine is a close second, though. You?

MK: I feel like Wolverine is everybody’s top one or two but personally, especially since Grant Morrison brought her into the mix I’m an Emma Frost man. Which doesn’t make me a “real” X-Men fan in most folks’ eyes but it is what it is. What is it about Cyclops for you?

IM: 1) You can like whichever X-Person you want and damn anyone who tells you otherwise!

MK: Thank you!

IM: 2) Honestly, I think Cyclops was the most like Superman, aesthetically, and that really appealed to seven year-old me when I discovered the show; he was the do-good leader, he had red blasts from his eyes, and he wore all blue with yellow and red (laughs).

But there was something about the idea that he was encumbered by his power that really hit me as a kid. The fact that this thing he could do made him an outcast and made his life difficult, but he used it to help people anyway…That always got me.

Also, his mutation didn’t cause him to have a drastically different outward appearance, but it was enough to make him an other. And growing up half-Egyptian, I experienced a lot of cultural differences from the kids around me. Questions like, “Why can’t you eat pork?” are a lot like, “Why are you always wearing sunglasses?” So, I think that appealed to me about Cyclops as well.

MK: Take that Cyclops haters! That’s really inspiring how you were able to have that relation to Cyclops. For you, do you think comics has a special place as far as storytelling in a way that movies, TV, theatre, or other mediums don’t quite?

IM: I do, absolutely. I think that there are more opportunities to play with the passage of time visually on a comics page than with other mediums. In comics, for example, you can have a splash page of a scene that is split into four different panels across a single image of say, a park. And each panel can represent the four seasons in a year.

Comics also allow for opportunities to echo imagery from one page or one sequence to another. So let’s say you have a page where a character is a child, and they’re playing, and they fall down and scrape up their knee. Then, you cut to them as an adult in a few chapters and they’re in a completely different scenario, but they go through a similar accident, and you’re establishing that they’re prone to this kind of thing in their life.

In comics, seeing all of those panels in one page as a whole creates a different experience than film or TV where you would see that happen one shot at a time. You’re taking in the gestalt of the moment on a page rather than the disparate parts that make the whole. Symbolism, the efficiency afforded by narration paired with a parallel image to the text, the pacing of a page-turn into a splash. There are tons of cool ways to deliver a moment in a comics page that are unique to the medium, and that’s probably what I love about it the most.

MK: That’s an amazing answer. Thank you for that. To switch gears a little, let’s talk about your new series out which I think definitely displays some of those elements you’ve so eloquently discussed. “Savage Things” which you draw, and is written by the one and only Justin Jordan, hit shelves on March 1st. Did you and Justin know each other much prior to working on the book? Was it an arranged marriage by Vertigo? How did your collaboration come about?

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Savage Things #1

IM: Justin and I had met here in Portland back in 2012 or so at a great indy comics show we used to have here called Stumptown. We’ve bumped into each other a few times since then on Twitter, and I’ve been a fan of his work since I first read “Luthor Strode” but when our editor Jamie S. Rich reached out to me to draw the book he facilitated a wonderful reunion for the two of us. So, pretty much an arranged marriage and the dowry was a super-dope book that I get to draw

MK: I love it when an arranged marriage blossoms into true love and kick ass action sequences.

IM: (Laughs)

MK: If someone asks you to describe “Savage Things,” what’s been your favorite answer to give?

IM: “Savage Things” is what you get when a bunch of Dexters are kidnapped and raised by the government to be Jason Bourne.

MK: That’s maybe the most badass way of summing up a book I’ve ever heard. Here’s a two-parter: What’s been one of the most challenging and what’s been your favorite thing to draw so far for the series?

IM: The book is full of excellent opportunities to create cool action sequences, and I think that’s been my favorite part so far. There have also been a few types of locations I’ve never never drawn before (a hospital, a power plant, a few others) so that’s been a fun challenge.

The most difficult thing has been figuring out how to draw expressive faces on sociopaths (laughs).

MK: That seems like a challenge on several levels (laughs). Can you perhaps tease us about something readers should be super excited to discover in issue two and beyond?

IM: Yes! The next few issues pitt our lead character, Abel, against six of the other sociopathic, trained murderers that he grew up with. So as you can imagine, issue one was just a tease at some of the brutality that these guys are capable of, especially toward each other. By the end of issue three, we pull back the lens and broaden the scope of the battle quite a bit. I’m very excited!

MK: Man, I can’t wait to see how you and Justin up the ante! Final two questions before our time’s up:

1) For someone new to comics, what are five essential must reads you’d recommend?

2) For all things Ibrahim Moustafa, “Savage Things,” and your ridiculously amazing James Bond posters, where can fans keep up with you on social media and the web? (Seriously, his James Bond posters kind of cray cray. Don’t believe me, click here!)

IM: 1) This is a tough one! These are certainly slanted toward things that I love, so your mileage may certainly vary.

Scalped” is my favorite book of all-time. It’s a crime drama a la “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire.” Anyone can dive right into it.

“Kingdom Come”: I read this pretty early on and loved it. There are a ton of references and characters in it, but as long as you know who Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Shazaam are, the rest falls into place.

The Losers” is a great book if you love action movies with fun characters, a cool story/lots of intrigue.

Old Man Logan” is almost a companion piece to “Kingdom Come” in that it’s a look at a possible future, full of cool stuff and references but mainly if you know the X-Men and the Avengers, you’re solid.

Batman: Year One.” One of the greatest comics ever made and a perfect primer for Batman fans looking to give the comics a try.

2) I’m on twitter at: @Ibrahim_M_ and my official site is http://theartofibrahimmoustafa.blogspot.com/

MK: Ibrahim, you’re a class act, thank you for being so generous and gracious with your time in joining me in our first Creative Conversation.

Check out “Savage Things #1” now and get ready for “Savage Things #2,” on shelves Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. Stay tuned for our next…Creative Conversation.

Please send love/hate messages to Matthew via Twitter @matthewklein316 and on Instagram. Matthew loves all things Batman, Valiant, and pro-wrestling related. He’s also pretty sure that it’s not recommended to spend more waking hours watching reruns of “Chuck” than sleeping but hasn’t been able to prove this theory.

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Graphic Spotlight – Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional

Deathstroke‘s rebirth will be his most personal and deadliest yet!

Deathstroke has been a character whose stock has risen in the last few years with exposure on the Arrowverse of shows on television. However, while his profile has spiked that hasn’t always been the case for the quality of his comic book adventures. Fortunately, amidst the plethora of improvements to DC Comics’ line in its Rebirth phase, you can be sure to count Deathstroke as one of those who has benefitted from this breath of creative fresh air.

Finally, the first collection will allow those who’ve trade waited, for whatever reason, to dive in and devour some of the best Deathstroke in too long of a time. Deathstroke the Terminator returns and this time his assassin’s eye is set on saving his daughter Rose a.k.a Ravager.

Slade Wilson will need all of the genetically enhanced strength, reflexes, healing, and intellect after a long thought dead ally resurfaces while on a mission in a war-torn African country. Why is this ally still alive? Why, to provide our anti-hero/ruthless villain/contract killer with a code with the news that his greatest vulnerability, his daughter, is in danger. Now, one of the most feared man on the entire planet will have to break his self-imposed rules of killing, betray those he’s considered trustworthy, piss off his most powerful enemy, and battle against his addiction to violence.

Will Deathstroke be able to conquer the most challenging gauntlet of his life and come through the other side with his daughter and honor having avoided being shattered?

Find out in Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional! This new thrilling chapter of DC’s greatest assassin comes to us from the legendary writer Christopher Priest and artist Carlo Pagulayan. This collections includes issues #1-5 of the well reviewed new series plus the Deathstroke: Rebirth one-shot.

 

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The Final Battle Begins in IVX #6

The White Queen vs The Queen of the Inhumans! Only one will win. Can both survive?

When it was first announced there seemed to be a communal skepticism about Inhumans vs X-Men. It was an event series between two segments of the Marvel Universe that had been having a pretty rough track record as far as readers were concerned. Plus, with the new push for the X-Men in ResurrXion this whole event seemed poised to be just a means to a most certain end. We should have all had more faith in Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule. Now the cataclysmic conclusion has arrived to what has been a far superior series than Civil War II and, I daresay, Avengers Vs. X-Men. It will boil down to one last showdown on the snowy sleeps between Emma Frost and Crystal, the White Queen and the Queen of the Inhumans, in a war where it’s tough to call either side truly good or obviously evil.

The strength of this event has been the evenhanded approach to both sides of the conflict. The mutants want to avoid extinction and several of the Inhumans have switched sides to make that happy ending possible without the deaths of so many of both groups. While the adults have been resigned to slug it out for the “greater good” it’s been younger characters like Moon Girl and Cyclops that have tried to outthink the violent approach of their elders. But no matter how sympathetic both sides may be, there has to be a winner and a loser, right? I mean, at the end of the day one side’s going to lose a little less or gain a little more out of it. This is the part where we find out who will pay what cost for this clash between two groups of characters that Marvel is in need of a giving a good jolt to in 2017.

See how this chapter ends and maybe a tease of how the next one begins inside the oversized conclusion to the Inhumans Vs. X-Men event!

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Toy Fair 2017 Part 3- Wrap-Up

Though Toy Fair was a few weeks back, there was plenty to see and read about with everyone’s favorite licenses like Star Wars, DC and Marvel. I’ve covered DC and Marvel over the last few weeks and Star Wars and more movie-related properties will be part of this week’s column.

2017 is the 40th Anniversary of everyone’s favorite space opera- Star Wars and Hasbro is celebrating with a throwback series of Star Wars Black. Each of the Star Wars Black figures will hail from the original film, A New Hope and come on vintage-inspired cardbacks. The first wave in the series features reissued 6″ versions of Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, the long unavailable R2-D2 and Han Solo as well as a resculpted Princess Leia Organa. If you have nostalgia for the old-school packaging, these figures definitely bring you back to the halcyon days of the 70s. Further offerings will include a brand-new Jawa, A Tusken Raider, The Death Squad Commander, as well as the previously exclusive to Walgreens C-3P0 and a Darth Vader deluxe pack featuring packaging reminiscent of the 1977 Early Bird Kit.

NECA has a ton of horror offerings including a few items to commemorate the 30th Anniversaries of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and Evil Dead 2. Freddy Krueger will have two new figures based on the fan-favorite film. One will be the long-awaited puppet Freddy prop replica while the other is an 18″ Freddy Krueger featuring an interchangeable chest of souls. The Evil Dead 2 gets a brand new two pack featuring Ash and all-new figure of Evil Ed, while sequel TV series Ash Vs Evil Dead gets a brand new prop replica of the Ashy Slashy puppet from the 2nd season. In other NECA horror news, Chucky will make his debut in the retro 8″ figure line along with a new Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3.

NECA continues their Aliens line of figures with a brand new series featuring some Kenner inspired Aliens as well as a figure of Lambert in her spacesuit from Alien with a fully authorized likeness of Veronica Cartwright. There will also be a couple of additional items in the Gremlins line including an ultimate Gizmo and a Mohawk figure.

Though I am not a huge collector of Minimates, I do buy them on occasion, typically if there is a character or license I can’t say no to. This next one is one of those licenses. At Toy Fair, Diamond Select displayed prototypes for their forthcoming 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates, based on the original animated series.  I haven’t heard how these will be distributed yet, so I am unsure if these are going to be individually blind bagged like previous series or if they will be in two-packs like most of the other Minimates sets. Characters in the lineup include all four Turtles, Bebop and Rocksteady, Splinter, Krang in his Android Body, Casey Jones, Baxter Stockman, the Shredder, Foot Soldier and April O’Neil. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have a soft spot for the original TMNT toyline and these minifigures are giving me flashbacks to my youth.

Anyway- that’s all for me this week, hope you enjoyed my look at Toy Fair and I will catch you next time with all the latest news!

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grasskings1_cover

All Hail Grass Kings #1

A new twist on crime and high stakes at a high court from visionary creator Matt Kindt!

Few people bend the genres of crime, suspense, sci-fi, and can play on the line between drama and comedy quite like Matt Kindt. He has a mind for storytelling that is rare to find in any medium. His escalating espionage saga of Mind Mgmt will go down as one of the more gripping and most unique approaches to the spy story in the last two decades, if not longer. His sci-fi epic in the pages of Rai is a mix of Alan Moore and Phillip K. Dick that is not read nearly enough. Now comes a new take on a classic story: the challenge and potential fall of royalty in Grass Kings #1.

Is the kingdom at risk some great vast historical land? Psh, nothing so overdone. This time, Mr. Kindt and artist Tyler Jenkins, from the critically beloved but criminally under appreciated Peter Panzerfaust, brings forth a land filled with the hopeless and lost, of paupers seeking an opportunity in what they hope is a promised land. It just so happens that this promised land, the fiefdom is a trailer park kingdom. And this kingdom has not one but three rulers, three brothers who lay claim to the throne(s).

It begins with a lonely king and a damsel. Eldest brother Robert is a tragic figure despite his standing. He’s the father to a daughter that was killed in a brutal accident. He’s the husband to a wife that has disappeared and whom he presumes will never return. In the midst of this misfortunate life he encounters an enigmatic young woman named Maria. She’s fleeing from her own troubles and seeking shelter, a place to be safe and secure. Robert makes the fateful decision to take Maria in. No decisions come without risk or consequence though. Will Robert’s act of kindness lead to the ruin of the Kingdom?

Welcome to the pastoral mystery that is sure to intrigue fans of Scalped, Southern Bastards, and The Goddamned. Basically, anything Jason Aaron or “True Detective,” season one (it’s better to forget season two). Pick up this oversized debut in its beautiful prestige format on Wednesday.

Long live the Grass Kings!

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