Fell Volume One: Feral City – Detective Richard Fell is transferred over the bridge from the big city to Snowtown, a feral district whose police investigations department numbers three and a half people (one detective has no legs). Dumped in this collapsing urban trashzone, Richard Fell is starting all over again. In a place where nothing seems to make any sense, Fell clings to the one thing he knows to be true: Everybody’s hiding something.
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Ben Templesmith
One thing I appreciate about Fell: Feral City is the pacing of each issue. When you read Fell, you may start to notice that each issue of Fell seems to fly by, and that’s not just because it’s a great read—although, that is a big part of it. Another part is that each issue of Fell is actually shorter than your average comic. It wastes no time because it has no time to waste. Fell drops you right into Snowtown and the city immediately starts to seep into your brain hole.
Fell is one of these rare series that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about it on Page One. I don’t mean this as an oversimplification, but as a compliment. It may be an exaggeration to say it tells you everything you need to know in one page, but the first page is a pretty strong indication of what you’re in for. So let’s just say that if you don’t at least begin to fall in love with this book by page five, I don’t know if we can be friends.
The first thing you’re likely to be struck by is the distinct art style of Ben Templesmith, which couldn’t be more perfectly matched to the tone of Fell. Realistically, not everyone is going to love it as much as I do, because I love it a lot. And if you’re looking for another artist like Alex Ross or Jim Lee, you’ll just have to keep looking. Templesmith’s style is entirely his own and I think it is fantastic. The line work may seem unsophisticated, but so can the pattern of a tapestry that took a year to weave. Even if you’re not satisfied right away with the penciling, don’t worry about it, because the pencils are only one part of Templesmith’s art style. Each page has numerous layers that lie on top of one another adding a richness that can be easily overlooked if you don’t take the time to really look at it.
Faced with fewer pages, Fell has hustle. It doesn’t take long to get a feel for Detective Richard Fell or the real star of the show: Snowtown. This is one messed up place. It’s dark, it’s dirty, it’s dangerous. And this portrayal of the city is nicely balanced by a dark, yet nonchalant sense of humor expressed by many of the characters.
Fell makes for relatively light reading because each issue tells a complete story, but Warren Ellis still manages to string together an overarching story through the series as a whole. This may sound easy, but lots of series miss the mark when it comes to finding the perfect balance between its short-term and long-term stories.
In just a few issues, Richard Fell solves the case of the butthole murder, faces a suicide bomber, and gets held hostage by an incel. It’s a wild ride, and one that I highly recommend to anyone; especially if that one wants to read a story about a detective who is trying to save a city that is almost literally trying to kill him.
Fell and Casanova were released by Image Comics at around the same time, in the same format: 16 pages of story with eight pages of backmatter, at one low, low price. This was a great format for Warren Ellis to share his creative process in the backmatter of each issue of Fell. This is the first Ellis work that I ever read, and because of it, he instantly became one of my all-time favorite writers. His mind is extraordinary, and the backmatter featured in the single issues of this series was a window into that mind.
Feral City doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or anything, but Fell definitely had more story left to tell. Sadly, there is no sign that either of the creators will return to it any time soon. On the one hand, yeah, it’s disappointing, but on the other hand it’s kind of beautiful in its brevity. Like the format of the comic itself, this series is short and sweet. And personally, I like a great story that’s over too soon more than a good story that goes on for way too long. If you’re looking for an outstanding comic that lets you hit it and quit it, Fell: Feral City is a great choice.
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Okay, boys and girls, here’s the news! Don’t touch that dial.
JPM Comics & Games will open for in-store shopping on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m., starting this Saturday, June 13. In-store shopping will also be available by appointment on Thursdays and Fridays, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Unfortunately, this does not mean everything is back to normal.
The L.A. County Health Department has issued guidelines which JPM Comics will follow in order to keep customers and employees as safe as possible.
First and foremost, if you are sick, do not come to the shop. Stay home. Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, upset stomach, diarrhea, it doesn’t matter. If you are unwell, you will not be allowed on the premises. This is for your safety as well as everyone in the vicinity.
Here is a brief summary of our in-store shopping rules:
Rule #1: Wear your mask.
Rule #2: Stay at least 6 feet away from employees and other customers.
Rule #3: No more than 3 customers will be allowed in the store at the same time.
Rule #4: Each customer will be allowed in the store for only 20 minutes.
The back issue bins are currently off-limits to customers. If you would like to purchase back issues, simply ask for assistance, and we will get you the back issue(s), as they are available.
We also ask that customers avoid unnecessarily touching anything in the store. (Try thinking of it this way, “You touched it, you bought it.” This is an exaggeration for comedic effect, but seriously, please try not to touch anything unless you intend to purchase it; this includes display cases, spinner racks, etc.)
JPM Comics will also allow in-store shopping by appointment, Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Call us at (626) 857-0718 to schedule your appointment. Customers will be allowed to shop one-at-a-time by appointment. The above rules and the L.A. County Health Department guidelines will apply to appointments as well.
We also have some recommendations for customers, which we hope will help make your shopping experience efficient and safe:
- Use our curbside service.
Unless it is essential that you come into the store, we still recommend that customers use our curbside pick-up service. Simply contact us with a list of items you would like to purchase, and we can ring you up over the phone. Once your transaction has been completed by phone, you can swing by for curbside pick-up during our regular business hours.
(For a weekly list of new releases we have in stock, check our Facebook, or visit PreviewsWorld.com for the complete list.)
2. Call ahead to put items on hold.
If you know what you want ahead of time, but still wish to come into the store, call ahead and request to have prospective purchases set aside for you. JPM Comics will hold unpaid items until the end of the business day.
If you are unable to collect your unpaid items before closing time that day, those items will be returned to the shelves for sale.
3. Bring a list of what you want to buy.
If you bring a list of what you want, not only will that help you to get in, get out, and get on with your life, but it will also help you to make sure you don’t miss anything.
We hope to be able to adjust the rules as we go, but in the interest of public safety, we have chosen to take a gradual approach to reopening. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we all work through this trying time together.
52 – After the Infinite Crisis, the DC Universe spent a year without Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. This weekly series covers “the missing year” with stories by a superstar team of writers and some of comics’ top artists.
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Breakdowns by Keith Giffen
Backup features by Waid and various
Covers by J.G. Jones
This is one of my favorite comics for several reasons. First, it features four of the best comics writers–not just among those working for DC at that time, but of ever.
Second, they had great artists on this series, including J.G. Jones who drew all 52 covers.
Third, the release schedule for this series was ambitious to say the least, and it paid off. 52 issues came out for 52 weeks in a row with zero delays. None. Not once was this book late for the entire year that it came out. And that just doesn’t happen. Every book gets delayed at some point, that’s just part of the nature of comics, but 52 never made us wait. I’m sorry to be repetitive, but I feel it’s important to emphasize just how big a deal that is.
On a related note, you may wonder, “Why release a weekly comic book series for a year?” Great question! As the synopsis indicates, 52 came out right after Infinite Crisis to reveal what happened during “the missing year.” This may get a little confusing, but let me try to explain it.
Shortly before Infinite Crisis wrapped up, several ongoing series jumped forward in their timelines by one year with “One Year Later” storylines. For example, Batman #651 started the storyline, “Face the Face,” which takes place one year after the end of Infinite Crisis. So let’s say that the events featured in Batman #650 take place in 2006, Batman #651 would have taken place in 2007. This leaves you with a “missing year,” and if you wanted to know what happened between now and this One Year Later story, you would have to read 52. You may call that gimmicky, and you may be right, but even if it was a gimmick, it was a pretty cool gimmick. And that’s not even the coolest part. The coolest part is that 52 was told in real time! 52 #25 was released October 25, 2006, and it’s Halloween in that issue. In issue #33, released December 20, 2006, it’s Christmas time. And each issue starts on a Wednesday. So yeah, call it what you will, but I thought it was awesome.
And I haven’t even gotten to the content!
52 takes place in the aftermath of Infinite Crisis. As is the tradition of the DC Crises, Infinite Crisis had a massive impact on the DC Universe. The most important thing to know before you read 52 is that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, for individual reasons, are out of the game. The Justice League is also a little wonky, but that doesn’t matter much because 52 isn’t really about any of them.
The main cast of characters for 52 includes (in a somewhat particular order): Animal Man, Starfire, Lobo, Adam Strange, The Question, Rene Montoya, (a new) Batwoman, Black Adam (and his new family), Dr. Will Magnus (creator of the Metal Men), Steel and his daughter Natasha, Booster Gold & Skeets, Rip Hunter, Ralph Dibney the Elongated Man, and Doctor Fate.
Take a look at that list and you probably recognize most of the names, but you probably haven’t read many stories about them. This was a theme of 52: This story is about the C- and D-Listers. The Trinity is gone, but that doesn’t mean we go to the second-string. We go much farther down the list than that. To me, this makes 52 all the more ambitious. Keep in mind, this was 2006. Batman Begins didn’t have any sequels yet. New episodes of Smallville were still on airing on the recently rebranded The CW network. Pop culture had not become bloated with superhero content the way it is today. The general population knew little and less about superheroes back then, and this line-up would have been fairly obscure. So, unless you were already a longtime comics fan or you happened to watch a lot of Justice League Unlimited on Cartoon Network, chances are this series would have been your introduction to most of these characters. And today, if this is your introduction to these characters, you are in very good hands.
As I mentioned before, the writers of this series are some of the best. They know the material, they know how to write, and best of all, they were fans first. The love these guys have for these characters helped shape this story into what I consider a monumental achievement in the comics medium.
Another thing that is great about 52 is that since it is so vast, it has something for just about everyone. It has an interstellar adventure for Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange. Batwoman, The Question, and Rene Montoya’s story is a street-level crime story. Black Adam’s storyline is filled with political intrigue. A mysterious conspiracy unfolds in Dr. Magnus’ story. You’ve got thrilling superheroics with the Steel storyline, a sci-fi/timey-wimey story as Booster Gold and Skeets’ story try to track down Rip Hunter, and you have your supernatural storyline with Ralph Dibney and Doctor Fate.
I won’t blow smoke and say that you will love every single panel of 52, and if you read the whole thing it will change your life for the better (even though it really might), but I will say that holding an audience’s attention for a year using more than 1,000 pages is no easy task. And 52 is a great read.
52 is similar to Identity Crisis in that it introduces readers to lesser-known characters, but it is different from Identity Crisis because it contains more of the traditional superheroics we are accustomed to. If you already read Identity Crisis and liked it, there is a good chance you will also like 52. If you like Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison, then you will probably like 52. If you like all four of those guys, you will love 52.
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This time we’re going to shake things up a bit, and recommend a comics creator. Comics are much like other art forms: when you find a creator that you like, you can start to follow their work. And if you want to follow a writer whose entire catalog is worth reading, Brian K. Vaughan is a winner.
Brian K. Vaughan has written characters like Batman and Swamp Thing, Doctor Strange and Captain America for DC and Marvel. He also wrote for ABC’s hit TV series LOST, and was the executive producer and showrunner for the CBS series, Under the Dome, based on the Stephen King novel.
What is especially notable about his career is that he has made a name for himself by carving out his own space in the comics landscape. With collaborators like Pia Guerra, Tony Harris, Niko Henrichon, Fiona Staples, and Cliff Chiang, he has won numerous Eisner Awards and other industry awards, all for original creations. BKV has a writing style that is smart, intriguing, and emotional, which adds up to stories that are undeniably compelling.
(We may come back to unpack some of these series a bit further in future blog posts, but for now we will just highlight some of BKV’s most renowned works.)
Y: The Last Man – It’s the saga of Yorick Brown–the only human male survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. He and his monkey, Ampersand, search the world for his lost love, Beth, and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.
Art by Pia Guerra
Y: The Last Man is arguably what put BKV on the map. It’s essentially a really cool Twilight Zone episode in the form of a 60-issue comics epic. And since Yorick Brown isn’t just the last man on earth, but also the last man on an earth that is now run entirely by women, this story is able to address some social issues in interesting ways. It is also, at its heart, a coming-of-age story. Yorick must come to terms with the fact that, as the last man on earth, it is imperative that he finally becomes a man.
The setting of Y may be vaguely familiar, since it starts with a mysterious global event that kills half of earth’s population and the story proceeds in the aftermath. Even though our current situation isn’t quite that drastic, it is probably more relatable now than ever before.
They have been trying to adapt Y: The Last Man pretty much since the series wrapped up in 2008, and a TV series is finally underway. If you want to get a head-start on being the one who knows all about the story before it comes out, you can get your copy today.
Lastly, another thing you might appreciate about Y is that it is a globe-trotting adventure. So if you had vacation plans that are no longer happening, get started on Y: The Last Man, and you can see the world vicariously through Pia Guerra’s artwork!
Runaways – At some point in their lives, all young people believe their parents are evil…but what if they really are? Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico–whose lives are about to take an unexpected turn. When these six young friends discover their parents are all secretly super-powered villains, the shocked teens find strength in one another. Together, they run away from home and straight into the adventure of their lives–vowing to turn the tables on their evil legacy.
Art by Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyagawa
Runaways speaks to the teenager in everyone. When you’re young, you’re trying to find your identity and establish yourself as an individual. For many people, that means looking at your parents and making a solemn vow to never become them, and the Runaways have better reason than most for doing just that.
You may already be familiar with Hulu’s adaptation of Runaways, and if you are, you will get further insight into the story by reading the source material. If you haven’t seen the show or read the comic, you would be doing yourself a favor by checking out Runaways. One thing that stands out about Runaways is that it is firmly planted in the Marvel Universe, but it isn’t tied down by it. (Classic adolescence, right? All benefits and no consequences.) The story is full of easter eggs and guest appearances that Marvel fans can appreciate. If you are pining for the days of your youth or want to glamorize how you remember your teen years, Runaways is a fine choice.
Pride of Baghdad – In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escapes from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, Pride of Baghdad raises questions about the true meaning of liberation–can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live in captivity?
Art by Niko Henrichon
There is a fair chance that you have never heard of Pride of Baghdad, and if that is the case, you should really check it out. If your tastes don’t allow for talking animals, Pride will likely change that. I have followed Niko Henrichon as a fan since Pride of Baghdad, and I would argue that this is his best work; but even if I’m wrong, it is definitely my favorite. I cannot imagine any artist doing a better job with this comic than he did. Top to bottom, cover to cover, this book is absolutely gorgeous. He totally nailed it.
BKV deals with the themes in this story beautifully as well. From the mouths of lions, birds, bears, and tortoises, he is able to discuss the nature of concepts like freedom, possessions, borders and boundaries in a meaningful way. And even though it has a lot of heart, this story has some dark and brutal moments.
With the world of big cats being all the rage right now, maybe try a story from their perspective!
Saga – Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults.
Art by Fiona Staples
You’ve probably heard of Saga. You’ve probably heard that it is beautiful and funny and sad and sexy and heartfelt and violent and clever. It is all these things and more. There probably isn’t an adequate pitch for this book because it is so versatile and brilliant. Fiona Staples brings this world and its characters to life with incredible finesse and innovation.
All you really need to know is that the hype on this book isn’t just hype, it is fact. Everything you could possibly want from a story, Saga will undoubtedly cover. If you like sci-fi or if you like fantasy, you will love Saga.
Private Eye – Years after the digital cloud “bursts” and exposes all of our worst secrets, The Private Eye is set in an inevitable future where everyone has a secret identity. Following an unlicensed P.I. who is thrust into the most important case of his life, this sci-fi mystery explores the nature of privacy with frightening prescience.
Art by Marcos Martin
Colors by Muntsa Vincente
We’ve all had that moment. You say or do or buy something online privately, and you think, “Man, if anyone found out about this…” Private Eye takes place in a world where everyone’s online history has been made public. All of it. As a result, the world has to adopt a solution: everyone assumes a new identity in the real world to get their privacy back. In the same way that you choose an online persona, now you choose an avatar to represent yourself in person. And that’s just the preface!
Marcos Martin really crushes it with this book. His dynamic style and futuristic aesthetic choices combined with Muntsa Vicente’s colors breathe life into this story. Originally conceived of as an online-only comic book, at first, Private Eye was only available as a pay-what-you-want comic at PanelSyndicate.com, but today it is available as a wide-format hardcover. Even if you get a digital copy and read it, I have a feeling that it would only make you want to own a print copy even more.
Paper Girls – In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.
Art by Cliff Chiang
Before you even start–Paper Girls came out before Stranger Things. Yes, there are a few similarities–and if you like Stranger Things, there is a good chance you will also like Paper Girls–but these stories are very different.
Erin, KJ, Mac, and Tiffany are four girls from different backgrounds that sometimes struggle to find common ground, but are nonetheless friends. Paper Girls has some of those Goonies or E.T. elements to it, but it isn’t predicated on nostalgia. Actually, one might even say that Paper Girls is about whatever the opposite of nostalgia is. Along with time travel and aliens, these girls are confronted by the future; their future. And their future selves are faced with their pasts and the seemingly limitless potential their youth held for them.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for your younger self to meet your present self, if you’ve ever thought about the journey we all take through life and how each decision we make has unforeseen consequences, get yourself a copy of Paper Girls.
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Casanova – Casanova Quinn, a decadent thief and black sheep to the most famous family in global super-espionage, gets kidnapped across parallel dimensions where survival means masquerading as the greatest secret agent the world has ever known…Casanova Quinn. Casanova is the final word in science fiction spy psychedelia.
Written by Matt Fraction
Art & covers by Gabriel Bá
Matt Fraction is best known today for his award-winning run on Hawkeye, and his hilarious and heart-felt creator-owned series, Sex Criminals, but before all that, my first encounter with Fraction was in another creator-owned series called Casanova. Those who have read the comic-book-turned-Netflix-series, Umbrella Academy, may recognize the artwork of Gabriel Bá. His interiors and cover art drive home the ‘60s psychedelic tone of Casanova.
This series is what happens when you take James Bond, add some depth, and give that a sci-fi treatment and a sense of humor. It’s got interdimensional travel, sentient robots, covert military organizations, it’s even got hints of the phenomenon that George R. R. Martin has popularized: twincest.
Over the years, I have struggled to put together a coherent pitch for Casanova, and one reason for that is that it’s not that easy to summarize. The details of the narrative are a bit complicated, however the themes are familiar. One difficulty in summing up Casanova is that there is so much to it. It isn’t obvious from the start what you’re in for with this book. It hits the ground running, and it’s up to the reader to keep up. I appreciate it when a story invites you to get on its level. Once it gets going, the relatable inner struggles of Casanova Quinn carry the reader through the stylized sci-fi/paranormal elements that may obscure what the heck is actually going on in the story.
Volume One of the series is called Luxuria, and it kicks off when Casanova Quinn gets kidnapped by Newman Xeno, leader of the terror network, W.A.S.T.E. Xeno blackmails Cass into working for him as a double-agent in the global spy organization, E.M.P.I.R.E., run by Cass’ father, Cornelius Quinn. Caught in the middle of this battle between “good” and “evil,” what Cass really wants is the freedom to be his own man again. Beneath the surface, Cass spends much of Luxuria figuring out what kind of man that would be. Should he follow the tradition of honor and duty like his father, or revel in chaos and destruction like Xeno?
It’s so poignant because it’s the same struggle we all face. Except that for us, the opposing forces trying to control our lives are within us as well as without. Similar to Cass, it’s not always easy for us to tell the difference between good and evil. Sometimes this is because good and evil can be hard to parse out. And sometimes it’s because what we are actually stuck dealing with is a choice between bad and worse. “No man can serve two masters.” We all have to choose a path, and so does Casanova Quinn.
Fraction pulls off this archetypal story with the flare of a bona fide nerd, and a sharp wit. Gabriel Bá’s artistic choices and overall style are shockingly perfect for Casanova. From super spies to sex robots to triple-decker-Krang-like characters, Bá’s character designs are remarkably fresh, and his approach to the various other-worldly elements in the story really knocks it out of the park.
(Fun fact: Bá and his twin brother, Fábio Moon, trade off art duties for each subsequent volume of Casanova!)
If you want to get away from capes and tights, but don’t want to sacrifice the absurdity of that setting, give Casanova a shot. It’s smart, it’s sexy, it’s fun as hell.
Even though the collected editions that are currently available for Casanova have been modified, I want to mention the original format for the single issues of Casanova, as well as Fell (oh, trust me, we will get to Fell). This format was a big selling point for me at the time: 16 pages of story with eight pages of backmatter, all for $1.99. The price point helped, but it wasn’t that drastic a difference. At that time, you could get new issues for as little as $2.50. The use Fraction made of the backmatter really stood out to me. The story spoke to me in a different way than anything else I was reading at the time, but I also connected with the backmatter in Casanova. Fraction would often share personal stories and really kind of bare his soul to the readers. There were some serious, private life events that he shared, and as a reader it made me feel a bond with the guy.
I also found the monochromatic coloring by Bá gave Casanova that “indie comic” or almost ‘zine feel. It made you feel like you were getting something that was less processed or superficial than in the mainstream. It felt like a hidden gem, “one of the best comics you’re not reading.” Almost none of these aspects are likely to come through by reading the collected editions, most of which have been recolored and do not reprint the backmatter. These are just some of the fine details about this series that made it a favorite of mine. Details like these are what stuck with me years later and brought Casanova to mind when I took a moment to think of what to recommend.
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Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction – During the final days of World War II, the Axis Powers make a desperate attempt to turn the tide of the war by teaming with occultists to summon a demon. Their plan works, but the demon, only a small child, is found instead by the Allied Forces and raised by the army in America. Named Hellboy, he joins the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense and becomes the world’s greatest paranormal investigator!
Created by Mike Mignola
What do you get when you cross the aesthetic of the classic Universal Monster movies, the themes of H.P. Lovecraft, and the archetypal protagonist of classic Hollywood noir films? Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, one of the most distinct comic book characters ever created! I first discovered Hellboy in the fourth grade, when I rented the graphic novels from my local library. As a lifelong fan of both comic book superheroes and horror films, this mixture of the two genres blew my mind. Mignola injects atmospheric, eerie settings with a sense of pulp storytelling and superhero action that satisfied everything I looked for in a comic book.
Hellboy as a character is perhaps the ultimate update of the classic pulp heroes of the 1930s and ‘40s, such as the Shadow, the Phantom, the Lone Ranger, and the Green Hornet. Those characters were often gruff, stoic, individualistic heroes that played by their own set of rules and often conflicted with the more straight-edged, by-the-book characters in their stories. Hellboy follows in this tradition because when situations go south (as they often do), he disregards the wishes of his B.P.R.D. superiors and improvises his own solutions.
Mignola has said that his goal with the comic was to create a world in which he could write every type of story he was interested in. You can feel his passion in every page, where his gothic art and sense of storytelling weave a fascinating tapestry of stories that include everything from hellish demons to inter-dimensional cosmic monsters, ghosts, vampires, and everything else a horror fan could ask for. Whatever sub-genre of horror you are into, there is a Hellboy story for it.
One of the greatest aspects of the Hellboy universe is just how extensive it has become. A new reader can start with the main title, and as their interest grows, they can branch off into the numerous spin-offs including B.P.R.D., Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, and more. The best place for a brand new reader to start is Volume One, titled, “Seed of Destruction.” The story tells the origin of Hellboy and then follows him as he, along with Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman, investigates the mysteries of a remote, haunted mansion. As they uncover secrets about the lives of the mansion’s inhabitants, they uncover a supernatural threat far more sinister than they had expected.
This first volume reads like an excellent, low-budget, director-driven horror movie. Mignola’s art evokes the mood of classic gothic horror, and well-versed horror readers will recognize thematic allusions to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. Like all of the best first installments, comic book or otherwise, Seed of Destruction provides the reader with just what the title says: a seed of a much larger universe. Although it is a self-contained story, Seed of Destruction sets the stage for much larger events that are eventually covered in subsequent volumes, and it introduces us to one of the most distinctive comic book universes in the medium. Mignola creates a universe that matches those of Marvel and DC Comics in its depth and remarkability.
The Hellboy comics manage to combine multiple, differing genres and story types in a way that is cohesive and intelligent. Whatever a reader may be looking for in a comic book, whether it’s superhero action, science fiction, or horror, I guarantee that you will find it in the pages of Hellboy.
Contact JPM Comics & Games to place your order for curbside pick-up:
Identity Crisis – Sue Dibney has been murdered, and she was only the first target. Someone has their sights set on the family and loved ones of the DC Universe’s costumed crime fighters. Now the JLA, the JSA, the Teen Titans, The Outsiders, and others will have to work together to track down the killer before more innocent lives are lost.
Written by Brad Meltzer
Art by Rags Morales
If you aren’t instantly on board with this story based on the summary above, don’t worry. That’s perfectly natural. If you are like me, your first question is, “Who the hell is Sue Dibney?” And your follow-up question is, “Why should I care?” I imagine that most people who picked up Identity Crisis #1 back in 2004 had little-to-no idea what they were getting into. But that is precisely what makes Identity Crisis so brilliant! It makes you care about characters that most of us barely know by humanizing them and showcasing what makes each of them extraordinary.
Brad Meltzer has something that has sadly become a commodity in the comics industry: a lifelong love of comic books. And this love shines through in his approach to these characters. Rags Morales draws his characters with an emotionality that I don’t think I’ve seen since this book. Blend these factors together and wrap them in incomparable cover art by the late Michael Turner, and you have a good time on your hands.
This mini-series played a huge part in making me a DC fan for life, and it signifies a kind of milestone in my comic fandom. A big part of what I found appealing about it was the fact that it was about obscure characters. I’ve always liked Batman and Spider-Man and most of the other household names, but I also have a fascination with stories and characters that exist on the fringes and are—often unjustly—overlooked. If you’re like me and you dig the minutiae of superhero comics, Identity Crisis may be for you, but if that isn’t your style, don’t sweat it. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and all the big guns are involved in this story, and there is plenty of quality violence to be had as well.
I wasn’t drawn to this story solely by the characters that were new to me, but also by the dynamics between these obscure characters and their better-known peers. Identity Crisis establishes a world where these characters don’t just exist, they coexist. They don’t just crossover, they share in each other’s lives. They come together for birthdays and weddings and funerals and holidays. They have inside jokes. They have rivalries. They have a shared history just like a family does; just like we do. Because in this story, Justice League members aren’t just heroes. They’re people. These characters are real. And by making characters like Firestorm, Dr. Midnite, and Elongated Man (and Captain Boomerang and Calculator and Dr. Light) real to me, this story got me invested in the death of a character I had never even heard of.
Identity Crisis is a murder mystery, and that in itself isn’t remarkable. What makes it special is that it goes to the trouble of making you care about the victim and those who loved her. At its heart, this is a story about family, and everything that goes along with such an enterprise. It is about the need we feel to protect our loved ones, the obligation we have to be honest with them, the pain of losing them, and how we should treat the ones we’re lucky enough to have left.
If you’ve read this far and aren’t intrigued yet, maybe I should mention that there is a fight where Deathstroke takes on six Justice Leaguers. By. Him. SELF.
There are high-tension scenes as the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place. As Sue Dibney’s killer is slowly revealed, so too are some of the skeletons lurking in the JLA’s closet. And the revelation of those secrets has consequences. That was another thing that blew my teenaged mind: DC, for a time at least, had a cohesive universe. Identity Crisis has a decent body count, alliances are broken, trust is lost, and it’s not like the slate was wiped clean a year later. (That didn’t happen for another seven years…) Elements of Identity Crisis went on to shape the DCU for years to come.
It is a common criticism of superhero comics that death is meaningless because the characters that die can always be brought back. That might be a fair criticism in another medium, but since we all know that superheroes don’t stay dead, the lack of finality is no longer relevant. What is relevant is the impact a death has on characters and their story. And that’s one thing Identity Crisis does well: it makes you feel the weight of what the characters are going through.
Identity Crisis deals with significant themes like relationships, justice, freedom, and morality. But I find that the most important thing it deals with is the unavoidable tragedy of existence and how we must carry on in spite of it.
It’s the best story about the murder of a character-you’ve-never-heard-of’s wife that you’re ever likely to read.
Contact JPM Comics & Games to place your order for curbside pick-up!
If Aquaman riding Cthulhu isn’t enough to kick your SDCC FOMO into high gear, consider checking yourself for a pulse.
Full article available at Comic Book Resources: http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/sdcc-exclusives-from-hasbro-gentle-giant-more
In case you haven’t been paying attention to announcements coming out of ComicsPRO up in Portland this past week, here is a list of the upcoming Specials and #1 issues DC Comics plans to release as part of its Rebirth event:
DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH Special
(an 80-page special priced at just $2.99)
Written by Geoff Johns
Featuring Art by talents including Ethan Van Sciver, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis, and Gary Frank
AQUAMAN REBIRTH #1
BATMAN REBIRTH #1
THE FLASH REBIRTH #1
GREEN ARROW REBIRTH #1
GREEN LANTERNS REBIRTH #1
SUPERMAN REBIRTH #1
TITANS REBIRTH #1
WONDER WOMAN REBIRTH #1
New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
THE FLASH #1
GREEN ARROW #1
GREEN LANTERNS #1
WONDER WOMAN #1
New Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
ACTION COMICS #957
DETECTIVE COMICS #934
BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY REBIRTH #1
HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS REBIRTH #1
THE HELLBLAZER REBIRTH #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE REBIRTH #1
NIGHTWING REBIRTH #1
RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS REBIRTH #1
New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):
BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY #1
THE HELLBLAZER #1
RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #1
THE SUPER-MAN #1
BATMAN BEYOND REBIRTH #1
BLUE BEETLE REBIRTH #1
CYBORG REBIRTH #1
DEATHSTROKE REBIRTH #1
EARTH 2 REBIRTH #1
SUICIDE SQUAD REBIRTH #1
SUPERGIRL REBIRTH #1
TEEN TITANS REBIRTH #1
TRINITY REBIRTH #1
New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
HARLEY QUINN #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #1
SUICIDE SQUAD #1
New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):
BATMAN BEYOND #1
BLUE BEETLE #1
EARTH 2 #1
GOTHAM ACADEMY: NEXT SEMESTER #1
SUPER SONS #1
TEEN TITANS #1
More details, including specifics on creative teams, their assignments, new titles, new characters, and the overall direction of DC Comics, are available at the usual spots, such as BleedingCool.com, ComicBookResource.com, and the rest.
Netflix Original: Marvel’s Jessica Jones
As you surely are dialed in to the comic book culture at this point, you’ve surely heard of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, the Netflix Original series that dropped today. Reviews are coming in, and they bode well. And considering the fact that this series will be unavoidably compared to the recent Netflix Original series, Daredevil, the praise is high. Pull quotes!
This is by far the best superhero show we’ve seen in a long time, mostly because it isn’t really about superpowers or catching villains.
And another literate publication:
Marvel’s success in comics, film and TV has always come from showcasing superheroes with world-class abilities struggling to handle human-size problems. Netflix’s Jessica Jones is a proud addition to that pantheon, wrapping one of the best TV shows of the year in a woman’s struggle to defeat the abuser who nearly ruined her life.
– Eric Deggans, NPR.com
Those are just a couple opinions from trained professionals. Check it out and decide for yourself if Jessica Jones is a totally badass show/character.