DC tempts Wonder Woman fans to comics with 4 worthy Diana-centric offerings

Contrary to what people might think, the recent boom of comic book movies and television shows hasn’t come with a corollary increase in people buying comics. The industry is enjoying a relative resurgence overall, but sales don’t map the characters and franchises that are showing up on screens. The problem certainly…

For a striking sci-fi mystery, take a trip to the Spill Zone

As the graphic novel market continues to grow, the medium is increasingly popular for established novelists who want to add a visual component to their stories. Writer Scott Westerfeld has already dabbled in comics with graphic novel spin-offs to his best-selling Uglies YA book series, but Spill Zone (First Second) is…

Two new superb indie offerings highlight the power of—and need for—marginalized voices in comics

Starting a new superhero universe is a risky endeavor in a comic book marketplace crowded with superhero titles, but Lion Forge Comics has put a lot of thought into the development of its Catalyst Prime line. Edited by Joseph P. Illidge III, a former editor for DC Comics’ Batman line and Milestone Comics imprint,…

Letters For Lucardo is both vampire love story and explicit erotica

Monsters in pop culture are cyclical, with media fixating on a particular type long enough for audiences to get sick of it before moving on to the next one. For a while it was vampires, and for the most part creators are hitting the tail end of zombies as a reasonable plot device. Soon it will be aliens again, or…

If Labyrinth and Inception had a love child, it might look something like the comic Black Cloud

The flexibility to form and reform comics creative teams is both one of the genre’s biggest strengths and longest-running frustrations. A shift in writer or artist can change the tone and direction of a book enough to make inconsistency a problem, but different combinations of new team members can also lead to…

Marvel just doesn’t know what to do with its group of young, horny X-Men

The first X-Men Prime was released in May of 1995, on the heels of possibly the best-received crossover in franchise history, the Age Of Apocalypse. That story was so well received that it became a problem for the books themselves, caught slightly off-guard by the runaway success of the alternate universe crossover.…

Savage Things crafts a Bourne-like story of intrigue that’s subtle instead of silly

Unwilling soldiers aren’t exactly a new idea in comic books. Marvel especially enjoys mining that story over and over again, from Wolverine(s) to Black Widow to the Winter Soldier. But there are all sorts of stories that revolve around people forced into horrific training to do the unthinkable. With Savage Things #1

Meet the man who brought us zombies in The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

Best known as the man that popularized the word “zombie” in the English language, William Seabrook is a tragic figure that lived a fascinating life. He befriended Muslim Bedouins in Lebanon, engaged in voodoo rituals in Haiti, and spent time with cannibals in Ivory Coast. He was a popular, well-regarded author that…

For female heroes written by actual women, look beyond Marvel and DC

Nadia Pym is Marvel’s latest attempt to make its comic-book universe resemble its cinematic universe, and while she’s not exactly the same character as Ant-Man’s Hope Pym, she fills the same role as Henry Pym’s daughter that takes on the Wasp mantle. (In Slavic, Nadia means hope.) Nadia takes the spotlight in the new

A tone-deaf Marvel doubles down on Civil War II’s Nazi agenda

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: In the aftermath of a civil war between two gangs of superheroes, the victor is elevated to a place of authority at the cost of the respect of the gangs’ peers, while the vanquished enjoys a moral victory in death. That was the ending of the original Civil War in 2007 and also…

To catch up with modern times, The Flash needed to borrow from its past

The Flash is a friendly guy. It’s part of the character that comes with wearing the red suit. Barry Allen is bland and pasty but he smiles a lot and is handsome in the generic way that every comic book character from that era is. He’s now saddled with an awful angsty retcon origin bestowed by Geoff Johns, because…

Civil War II will make you yearn for the time when bad comics were good fun

Bad comics used to be fun. The first Civil War, 10 years in hindsight, had charm—a well-made piece of hokum that falls apart the moment one looks away. It was a fun book to flip through and pick out weird or awful or (occasionally) interesting sequences. It doesn’t hold up, not proportionate to the weight Marvel…

Meet the newest female protagonist in the Star Wars comics universe

There’s a lot riding on Doctor Aphra #1 (Marvel). Launching a new series for a character native to the comics seems significant. Given widespread criticism from long-time fans over the wholesale erasure of two decades’ worth of characters native to the old Expanded Universe (Mara Jade, we hardly knew ye), it makes…

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A Wuvable Oaf gets into some Blood & Metal in an adorably vicious comic

Ed Luce’s Oaf Jadwiga is a study in contrasts, a hulking teddy bear of a man with a sensitive soul and a love for kitten cuddles, who also delights in destroying opponents in the wrestling ring as the Satanic-themed Goteblüd. In his foreword for Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal (Fantagraphics), Luce writes about how his…

Remembering one of the most gifted draftsmen from a golden age of comics

Few creators exemplify the promise and disappointment of the early decades of comic books as fully as Wally Wood. One of the great talents who flowered at EC in the early 1950s, he spent the rest of his career following that company’s implosion working across the industry as a cartoonist and occasional publisher, and…

Roxane Gay’s Black Panther prequel gives women a story in the World Of Wakanda

Wakanda is experiencing a well deserved resurgence in interest. Between excitement for the Black Panther movie and the good press around Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s comic, it’s a smart move for Marvel to expand the franchise. It’s even smarter to recruit Roxane Gay to helm a new title in keeping with…

The essential Becoming Unbecoming is a harrowing journey through misogyny

Becoming Unbecoming (Arsenal Pulp Press) is not an easy read, but it is an essential one. This graphic memoir by Una took seven years to create, and its pages are overflowing with raw emotion, channeling the cartoonist’s immense pain and frustration over the misogyny and violence women face on a regular basis.…

15 years ago, the prescient X-Force used mutants to explore the dangers of fame

Back Issues discusses a major comic of the past, reevaluating its strengths and weaknesses while exploring the cultural context of its creation and how it has impacted the future of the comic-book medium and industry. This week: Peter Milligan and Michael Allred’s X-Force, a series published from 2001 to 2002 that