When asked what the best comic covers are, I think most people try to choose something by one of the classic artists: Neal Adams, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, etc. But for me there is only one choice: Bill Sienkiewicz. I first noticed his art on the Moon Knight comics I was buying from quarter bins when I was eight years old. He was the first comic book creator whose name I knew.
Much like waiting for the trade I decided to combine my reviews of the first four issues of VALIANT’s Divinity, the Matt Kindt written introduction of a new character into the VALIANT universe, and as an aside, one of the best comics of last year. Why should you care? Well, I’m pretty smart so you should read my reviews. Actually, I’m actually not smart at all but I do actually try to give my thoughts and convey my experience from reading the comic and not just summarize them, and I enjoy people who do the same so you might too. Or you might hate it, and that’s totally cool too. I should remind people that I did these as the single issues came out, so if I look dumb with some, well to be honest most, of my guesses it’s because I didn’t just read a trade and review all of the issues as if it was one sitting, but instead combined 4 separate reviews I did.
To pick a favorite comic book cover isn’t easy– we’re bombarded with tons of new great images every week on the fronts of our favorite comic books. Even after I write this, I’ll go into my comic shop in a day and find just incredible artwork and new artists to look into on this weeks’ comics. So I’ll be biased this time, and pick a cover from one of my favorite artists, James Jean. To pick a favorite James Jean cover is a crime in itself, but his run on Umbrella Academy really stands together wonderfully as a set and beautiful individually. The covers were so narrative, and the characters had such personality, the world was so Mignola-esque. I loved the stylization and musical influence, you can tell Jean was having great fun working on these, and it showed through in the work.
This is a really hard one to answer, I was surprised HOW hard. I don’t want to pick something TOO obscure in an attempt to be original, I just want to focus on what a comic book cover is really all about; which is A) standing out on the comic rack beside a hundred other covers, and B) something on the cover that makes you want to pick up the comic and read it. A lot of “runs” came to mind when I was trying to figure this out: Dave McKean’s run on Sandman, James Jean’s run on Fables, John Cassaday’s on X-Men, Frank Quitely’s on All Star Superman, and Frank Miller’s 300 covers. But at the end of the day I have to go back to what I initially said, and that’s what is the ONE cover that froze me in my tracks when I walked in to the comic shop? And I’d have to say that was Brian Bolland’s cover for The Killing Joke.
THIS is what I’m talking about right here. Couple this with how much I enjoyed IMAGE’s Island and I’m having a damn good comics week.
I LOVED VALIANT’s Legends of the Geomancer #1 and to a lesser extent enjoyed Book of Death #1 but I wasn’t all in on the execution and presentation for the latter as I was the concept for an event level comic, and The Fall of Bloodshot offers up more of everything what I liked and was just more clean of a book overall and stands as my favorite issue of Bloodshot perhaps ever, which oddly is something I’ve had quite the opposite reaction to in that I’ve thought the execution of his series, Bloodshot Reborn, has been terrific but in premise it wasn’t really my personal preference.
I’m a big fan of Jeff Lemire though so I know he has it in him to turn on a dime. This is that Descender guy.
Three years have passed. Not in The Sandman, but here between these meditations. Within only a few installments of finishing the central series, I couldn’t go on. I read chapter two of The Wake and could think of nothing to say. Characters from all the books were coming back, congregating, ready to pay respects. I wasn’t ready.
What has changed? Everything. Nothing. Years have passed. Can I think of something to say now? Perhaps. Is it worth saying? I don’t know. (But then, I never know.)
Some more VALIANT comics reviews and thoughts, this time in the form of Ninjak, and much like how I collected separate issue reviews of VALIANT’s Divinity and collected them in one post (which I guess could work as a review for a first trade). Like Divinity, Ninjak is written by Matt Kindt where he joined by artist Clay Mann. Just a note, for the first issue I did more of a page by page brief bullet point stlye w/ my thoughts while the next 4 issues are more traditional style reviews. Enjoy.
Sometimes, the English language plays along. A god-like king of dreams has died, and so there is a wake. Dreams, in the literal sense at least, die upon the dreamer’s waking, and so, too, in The Sandman when Morpheus is no more: the dreamers wake.
There is a sense of quiet throughout this chapter, a quietude. And more so: gravity. Not for lack of words; there are plenty of words throughout these pages. Instead, the quiet, grave, pensive sorrow filling each panel seeps from the pencil lines and muted hues, the scored shadows along most of the edges, and all the downcast eyes. Though the chapter is not rich with plot, it gives an inescapable sense of motion, an undercurrent — the characters are all drawn toward the last page, the last panel. It’s the greatest, grandest view of the Endless we’ve yet seen, but also in many ways the coldest, for they look like stone monuments against a slate sky. “They are the family,” a character says.
Joshua Dysart has been the architect of the Harbinger corner of the VALIANT relaunch, and while there is and always has been a science fiction beat to the VALIANT Universe, the story of Toyo Harada, even in this issue with a robot at his side, is to me one of heroic fantasy gone awry.
The King is dead. Long live the King.
Those sentences have been rattling around in my mind’s ears ever since I finished reading the thirteenth, and final, chapter of The Kindly Ones. They’re traditionally said at ceremonies of monarchical accession, but mostly they remind me of E.M. Forster’s distinction between a story and a plot. In Aspects of the Novel, Forster maintained that “The king died, and then the queen died” is a story, while “The king died, and then the queen died of grief” is a plot. A story is a narrative of events; a plot is a narrative with causality.