Saturday, February 9, 2019

Comics Lust 2/9/2019

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/reluctant rain runner Tulip. Thank goodness the rain let up for a few hours so my puppy executive team and I could go for a UCSB walk and discuss our plans for maintaining our standing as a Fortune 325,000 company as well as future topics of “Comics Lust” and for finally releasing the second volume of Tulip the Superpowered Boston Terrier. Exciting times.  Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, treat your friends to some tacos (which we can't eat except for the meat and veggies), keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!


*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.


Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Under the Sea: Adventures Below the Waves (Part 1)



With all of the rain we have received over the past few months and after seeing the turbulent waves of the Pacific Ocean while taking Tulip for a walk, I got to thinking about comic books that focus primarily on what occurs below the water’s surface. Of course, I could go the route of Aquaman or Namor the Submariner, but you could easily go multiple entries on each of those characters alone. Today, I want to focus on less widely known comics which showcase underwater worlds that can be as spectacular as they are nightmarish.


Low

(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, colored by Dave McCaig, originally published in 2014 by Image Comics)
After the Earth’s surface was irradiated to the point of being uninhabitable, humanity retreats to the depths of the ocean after sending countless probes out into the universe to find new hospitable worlds. Now, many millennia later, a probe has returned and crashed upon the land and it is up to Stel Caine to brave pirates and monsters to find it before the once oxygen-rich waters also turn toxic.
Despite many delays over the past four and a half years, the tremendous Low is slowly approaching the end of the series. Focusing primarily on Stel Caine and her daughters, it is a story of the struggle to remain optimistic when tragedy after tragedy attempts to drag everyone down. Beautifully illustrated by Tocchini with what looks to be painted colors by McCaig, the pair gives us a lovely yet terrifying submerged world with unique character and creature designs that are certain to captivate new readers and old—I especially like the designs of the immensely powerful Helm Suits, and of the oh-so-lovely leading women. No matter how long it takes for this series to play out, I will be there with the hope that the Caine family can finally persevere their countless obstacles to finally succeed; I can’t wait to see how it all eventually ends. Thankfully, you can catch up on the—as of this writing—20 issues via the four trades (Issues 1–19) or the first hardcover (issues 1–15). No need to dip your toe, just dive in!


The Wake

(Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, originally published in 2013 by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint)
My main problem with this series is that it is only 10 issues long. This was a bummer to me as I fell in love with the world Snyder and Murphy had created in the second half of the series. But what about the first half of the series?, you ask. That’s the thing about The Wake, each five issue chunk is practically its own tale. The first half sees marine biologist Lee Archer being transported to the Arctic Circle and down to an underwater oil rig which houses a captured creature that looks to turn the oil rig into the researchers' watery tomb. The second half switches gears by jumping two hundred years into the future to a predominantly flooded Earth with new character Leeward as she faces threats from both land and sea as the genre shifts from mostly horror to mostly science fiction. This second half is where I wanted to see more: more of the characters, more of what occurred in between the jumps in time, and more of Murphy’s stunning character work and cityscapes. If you want a quick read that will give you shivers while making you hesitant to get in the bathtub, then this is the real deal! You can read the done-in-one hardcover or the done-in-one trade if tracking down the individual issues is not your scene.


Atlantis Chronicles

(Written by Peter David, illustrated by Estaban Moroto, originally published in 1990 by DC Comics)
It has been a while since I read this epic, seven-issue series about the history of Atlantis. Yes, this is the same Atlantis where Aquaman currently resides, but I am sticking true to not talking about that green and orange costumed superhero. In fact, Arthur Curry is barely mentioned throughout the entirety of this remarkable series. Atlantis Chronicles has much to offer for fans of Game of Thrones and fictional history buffs as it begins 50,000 years in the past to follow the rulers of Atlantis both before the fabled city’s descent beneath the waves and up to the point of Aquaman’s beginnings—at least his beginnings according to the ’90s. Each issue is extra long with tons of material both historical and action-packed as politics and intrigue bring about the rise and fall and rise again of this great empire. Atlantis Chronicles is a damn fine read that you can do in issue form or through the recently released deluxe hardcover


Undertow

(Written Steve Orlando, illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov, originally published in 2014 by Image Comics)
Usually, stories focus on humans initially delving into the depths of the opaque blackness of the ocean but in Undertow, it is a society of fish-men who take exploratory missions to the surface world where Neanderthals roam the lands. Traveling via watertight exploratory vessels and wearing battle suits filled with water, Ukinnu and the commander Anshargal set out with a rapidly dwindling crew to find the mythical “Amphibian” a once water dweller who has someone adapted to breathing air and who is said to rule early man as a cannibalistic god. This short, six-issue series is a trippy joy to read especially given Trakhanov’s Warren Magazine-esque style of art that keeps things good and creepy. You can also find Undertow in trade form.


Sea Devils

(Originally written by Robert Kanigher, originally illustrated by Russ Heath, originally published in 1960 by DC Comics)
I know very little about this series other than I really want to read it—I might be on the older side of things, but I’m not THAT old. What I do know is that Sea Devils originally appeared in Showcase Presents #27–29 in 1960, before graduating to their own series Sea Devils #1–35 from 1961–1967. The books follow a team of underwater adventurers as they face off against monsters and sea spirits and all sorts of undersea mysteries. There is an out-of-print Showcase Presents: Sea Devils phonebook-style collection, but that is black and white and only has about half of the series. Here’s hoping we someday get a Silver Age collection of the whole enchilada because individual issues are REALLY expensive and hard to come by.


That’s it for this installment, keep dry and stay away from any sea serpents that might be lurking in your nearest body of water. See you next week.



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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Comics Lust 2/2/2019

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/rain-hater Tulip. Dang, the rain got pretty crazy this morning and, like last year, the 101 freeway was shut down for at least a few hours. Now, it’s all clear blue skies and my puppy executive team is out enjoying it while it lasts…which will only be a few hours until the pounding storm returns. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, treat your friends to some tacos (which we can't eat except for the meat and veggies), keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!


*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.


Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Chocolate and Peanut Butter: Cross-Company Crossovers (Part 2)



It’s no secret that I love Marvel’s cosmic characters and comics, especially when it comes to Jim Starlin’s work with Adam Warlock and Thanos. I straight up love that stuff. But right around the comic implosion of the mid-’90s, I threw in the towel on comic books after the blatant money grab that was Infinity Crusade (I don’t blame Starlin for this), which saw the event spreading across practically ever comic book Marvel had to offer. I was done. Gimmick covers, continuously late titles, the “extremification” of most superhero comics, polybags, trading cards, rushed products, and wallet-busting event after event chased this diehard Donist away from all comics for about three or four years.
Many companies folded during this time, many were acquired, and little did I know that my much loved Adam Warlock had gotten into some cross-company shenanigans that I only became aware of a few years ago.
Cool.
I had heard of Malibu back in the day, and I was aware of some of their properties, but what I did not know was that Marvel had acquired Malibu Comics and for a few years Warlock became part of Malibu’s “Ultraverse.” I know next to nothing about the Ultraverse, and will be focusing today on the character of Rune, a vampire of sorts who ended up crossing paths with Warlock for a bunch of issues and who supposedly got his greasy talons on the Infinity Gauntlet itself. Let’s see how this unfolds.


Rune #0–9

(Written by Barry Windsor-Smith and Chris Ulm, illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith, originally published in 1994 by Malibu Comics)
Alrighty, Adam Warlock does not appear in this run, but it is the first main appearance of Rune, a vampiric alien in possession of the Star Stones, a magical necklace that grants him tremendous power but afflicts him with a terrible, vampiric blood lust. Immortal and nigh indestructible, Rune has tormented Earth for hundreds of years. A perfect example of why I fled comics in the ’90s was the #0 issue that required readers to clip coupons from 11 Malibu comics that were to be mailed to Malibu in order to have the comic mailed to them. The #0 issue came with a poster, a trading card, and a temporary tattoo. Or, you could read eleven three-page stories in each of the individual comics, or get the Rune Spin Special which collected eight of the essential three-page stories in one easier to find comic. WTF?! As irritating as all that is, having Windsor-Smith as the creative force behind this character definitely has my interest peaked.


Curse of Rune #1–4

(Written by Chris Ulm, illustrated by Kyle Hotz and Mitch Byrd, originally published in 1994 by Malibu Comics)
Here we go: Adam Warlock appears in the Ultraverse…or at least the Soul Gem does. Hot off the heels of Infinity Gauntlet (1991), Infinity War (1992), Warlock and the Infinity Watch (1992–1995), Warlock Chronicles (1993–1994), Infinity Crusade (1993), and Silver Surfer and Warlock: Resurrection (1993), Warlock somehow ends up in the Ultraverse and he loses his soul gem to none other than Rune. As for how this all goes down and how everything gets put back in order I have no idea, but I can definitely say I am intrigued. A six-month delay between the releases of the first and second issue doesn’t bode well for the series, and neither does bringing in a second artist on the fourth and final issue, but whatchagonnado? It looks like the first issue came out at the same time as issue #5 of the first series.


Godwheel #0–3

(Written by Dan Danko and Chris Ulm, illustrated by Mark Pacella and Jason Moore, originally published in 1994 by Malibu Comics)
No idea exactly what this one is all about, but Thor is in it, Rune is in it, and a whole other mess of Ultraverse characters are in it. I guess we’ll just have to back issue bin dive for these and see what it’s all about.


Giant Size Rune #1

(Written by Barry Windsor-Smith and Chris Ulm, illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith, originally published in 1995 by Malibu Comics) Not quite sure what the hell this one is about, but the cover depicts a blood-drenched Rune wailing into the night as he holds what looks to be some poor chaps spinal column. Whatever. Put me down for this one for sure.


Rune/Silver Surfer #1

(Written by Chris Ulm and Dan Danko, illustrated by Henry Flint, originally published in 1995 by Marvel Comics)
This is a flipbook, which means you have two comics in one that requires you to flip the physical comic over in order to read the other comic. No idea what goes on here other than Rune and the Silver Surfer fight while you get Marvel character guest appearances up the wazoo.


Rune Vs. Venom

(Written by Chris Ulm and Len Kaminski, illustrated by Mark Pacella and Gabriel Gecko, originally published in 1995 by Marvel Comics)
Although Venom was a hot commodity in the ’90s, I never really cared about the character—not until Donny Cates got ahold of him in his current incredible run—but if you’re thinking of chasing down everything relating to Rune, then you might as well jump all-in on this 48-page beast of comic.


Conan #4

(Written by Larry Hama, illustrated by Barry Crain, originally published in 1995 by Marvel Comics) Rune appears in a Conan comic from the ’90s!


Conan Vs. Rune #1

(Written by Barry Windsor-Smith, illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith, originally published in 1995 by Marvel Comics)
Wait…what?! How the hell did I not know about Windsor-Smith returning to the character that made him a household name in the ’70s and pitting that character against a new character of Windsor-Smith’s creation over two decades later?! Whatever. 36 pages of comic’s favorite barbarian warrior squaring off against a vampire god? Yeah, I really need to get this. Dang.


Rune #Infinity

(Written by Len Kaminski, illustrated by Kyle Hotz and Jason Moore, originally published in 1995 by Malibu Comics)
Sporting an all-black cover and a blood-red logo, this series looks to not only kick off the new Rune series that follows, but it also makes Adam Warlock a major character for the series. Yes, it will one day be mine. This was part of a company-wide initiative called “Black September.”


Rune #1–7

(Written by Len Kaminski and later Paul O’Connor; illustrated by Kyle Hotz, Jason Moore, Patrick Rolo, Jeff Whiting, Steve Ellis, Pav Kovacic, Tony Akins, Gabriel Gecko, Terry Pallot, John Cleary, Norm Rapmund, and Stephen Baskerville; originally published in 1995 by Malibu Comics)
Okay, what the malevolent maelstrom is going on with this comic?! Did you get a load of how many artists were involved with this seven-issue series? Criminy! Even if some of the people on this book were penciller/inker teams, that is still a truckload of people working on a few measly issues. Anyhow, Adam Warlock features prominently and Annihilus—yes, that bug-man from the Negative Zone and scourge of the Fantastic Four—is causing problems for all as well. Even with soooooo many people involved, I totally want to see what happens and if the sheer volume of creative team switches can help pull this series together.


Ultraverse Unlimited #1

(Written by Len Kaminski, illustrated by Gabriel Gecko (who is Gabriel Hardman) and Andrew Wildman and Stephen Baskerville, originally published in 1996 by Marvel Comics)
This 48-page beast of a comic looks to be the final appearance of Warlock in the Ultraverse, so if you’ve been following this cross-company, crossover extravaganza, then you will need this book to see how it all ends.


Rune Hearts of Darkness #1–3

(Written by Doug Moench and James Felder; illustrated by Kyle Hotz, The Pander Brothers, and Tim Bradstreet; originally published in 1996 by Marvel Comics)
Okay, despite some gimmicky gimmicks and sinful shenanigans involving flip covers, I totally want to read this series given that Doug Moench was involved. From what I can tell, there is the regular story featuring Rune and the secondary story that features Rune fighting against a villain that readers of “Wizard” magazine voted into being. What the heck?! Bah...I guess we’ll just have to go with the flow on this one, too.


Man, that was beyond complex. Oh, my stars and garters, Denizens, I feel faint. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for a Rune fan at the time to actually follow their favorite space vampire (after Vampirella, of course). That said, I have not read a single one of these comics, but I fully intend to change that if I can get ahold of them…for the right price. Until next time, you can find me in the bargain bins.



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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Comics Lust 1/26/2019

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/crime stopper Tulip. After hearing the news and seeing the video (awesome!) of a longstanding, lying criminal getting arrested at his home for being a longstanding, lying criminal, we thought what better time to return to the crime comic genre. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, treat your friends to some tacos (which we can't eat except for the meat and veggies), keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!


*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.


Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

The Scene of the Crime (Part 2)



There are a fair amount of crime comics out there and admittedly, there are only a few that I have actually read, which is something I am in the process of remedying for a “Part 3” and a “Part 4” in the near future. For the past few years I have been riding the wave of great crime Podcasts like The Last Podcast on the Left, Serial, My Favorite Murder, Up and Vanished, and many others, which have led the way to some great television shows. Comics, however, are my first love and crime comics have been around for a good long while and I took notice of them way before the podcasts and television shows re-sparked my interests. As a timely aside, a recent newsletter from none other than Warren Ellis reminded me of the Paradox Press titles from the ‘90s that I never read and I am now plotting a course to collect them all. At the tail end of the “The Scene of the Crime (Part 1),” I teased there was a must-read, must-own series that demands all crime enthusiasts, art lovers, and/or those looking for an introduction to the comic medium to experience, so we open with…


Parker: The Hunter

(Everythinged by Darwyn Cooke, originally published in 2009 by IDW Publishing)
There are soooooo many reasons to read this brilliant masterwork from Cooke: Cooke’s oh-so-gorgeous art that was tailor-made for a noir comic; Cooke’s flawless adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker novels through the storytelling of the art and the placement of the dialogue; the perfectly suited design and production of the actual book from dust jacket, to hardcover material, to form factor, to the simplistic embossing on the cover, to the two-color print job, to the interior lettering, to the interior lead-in design; and the fact that Cooke did everything. The Parker novels were written by Donald Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark, who was supposedly quite hesitant to allow his name to be attached to any sort of adaptation, but Cooke’s respect for the work and his willingness to listen to Westlake’s feedback is what garnered the author’s approval. Unfortunately, Westlake died in 2008 before being able to see the first volume. Thankfully, we were blessed with four editions before Cooke’s untimely passing in 2016 at the age of 53. Here are the books in order:


After all of that lead-up, what is the first book about? Well…Parker may very well be the best heist guy there is. He pulls off a robbery, lives off the gains in luxury hotels for as long as he can, and then moves on to the next job. Only this time, he’s betrayed by his woman and double-crossed by his best friend. Unfortunately for those who wronged him…Parker is alive and he wants what’s his. All four of these OGN adaptations are just too damn good to miss. Read while sitting in a smoke-filled room and drinking bourbon on the rocks.


Blacksad

(Written by Juan Díaz Canales, illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido, lettered by Studio Cutie, originally published in 2010 by Dark Horse Books)
I often hear of people disliking anthropomorphic animal stories, which is so very limiting considering the treasure that is Blacksad. Yes, the main character, private investigator John Blacksad, is a bipedal feline, but by the time you make it to page three you quickly forget that he is a cat, and instead see a man who just found the woman he once loved (another cat) murdered, and who vows make the killer pay. Now, I have a soft spot in my heart for painted comics and Guarnido’s work is nothing short of heavenly. Whether he is capturing all of the drama of a scene through the expressions of animal characters (few can successfully do this, by the way), or showing exactly why Blacksad is so irresistible to the ladies in this book (hint: he’s one helluva tall drink of water, if you get my drift), or showing just how stunningly gorgeous his animal women can be, I promise that you have not seen anything like this book—don’t even get me started on his cityscapes, oh my goodness. Equally strong are the three stories contained in the first volume, which deal not only with murder and crime in ‘50s America, but also with racism and even the “Red Scare” amidst conspiracies and political maneuverings. Once you read the first volume, you best be scrambling to get the other two. Here are the hardcover books you need:


You know you want to jump on these!


Satellite Sam

(Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, originally published in 2013 by Image Comics)
In New York City, 1951, America’s television darling, Carlyle White, star of the hit show Satellite Sam, is found dead in a secret flophouse with an impressive assortment of scandalous photographs in his collection. When Carlyle’s rarely-sober son, Mike, explores the room, he begins to suspect foul play and suddenly recognizes one of the women in the stacks of his father’s lascivious photographs. This 15-issue series has a robust cast of characters all brought to life in black and white by Chaykin—including all the lovely women and handsome men you can expect in one of his books—all while providing a fascinating look at the seedy side of the Golden Age of television. Fraction gives fans of Mad Men, crime tales, period pieces, sex scandals, and the television biz all they could hope for in this thrilling and titillating ride. You can read in issues, three trades, or in one glorious hardcover.


Detectives, Inc.
(Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Marshall Rogers and Gene Colan, originally published in 1980 by Eclipse Comics)
Ted Denning and Bob Rainier make up the private detective team Detectives, Inc. In their first appearance, “A Remembrance of Threatening Green,” illustrated by Marshall Rogers, the detectives, whose personal lives are falling apart as their business teeters on the brink of collapse, take a case to help a woman bring her lesbian lover’s killer to justice. In the second volume, “A Terror of Dying Dreams,” printed directly from Gene Colan’s pencils, sees Denning and Rainier investigating a wife-beating millionaire at the behest of a concerned social worker. Both story and art alone make for a fantastic read for crime junkies, but what is equally important is that “A Remembrance of Threatening Green” is the first mass-market comic to feature a lesbian character, and “A Terror of Dying Dreams” is to be commended for dealing with the subject of domestic violence. The sadly short-lived series can also be praised for its take on race relations and abortion in addition to being a straight-up thrilling read. Unfortunately, the publication history is somewhat complex, so here goes:

  • Detectives, Inc.: A Remembrance of Threatening Green (Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Marshall Rogers, published in 1980 by Eclipse Comics) Where it all began. Printed in black and white.
  • Detectives, Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams (Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Gene Colan, published in ???? by Eclipse Comics) Supposedly there was a black and white graphic novel of this before the three-issue series debuted, but I cannot find anything about it.
  • Detectives, Inc. #1–2 (Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Marshall Rogers, published in 1985 by Eclipse Comics) A color reprinting of “A Remembrance of Threatening Green” spread over two issues.
  • Detectives, Inc. #1–3 (Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Gene Colan, published in 1987 by Eclipse Comics) A sepia-tone wash version of “A Terror of Dying Dreams” spread over three issues.
  • Detectives, Inc.: A Remembrance of Threatening Green (Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Marshall Rogers, published in 1999 by Image Comics) A black and white reprint of the original graphic novel.
  • Detectives, Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams (Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Gene Colan, published in 1999 by Image Comics) A black and white reprinting of the original graphic novel (of which I can find no evidence of). (Head scratching)
  • Detectives, Inc. HC (Written by Don McGregor, illustrated by Marshall Rogers and Gene Colan, published in 2009 by IDW Publishing) Now THIS is the way you need to read this monumental detective series. In black and white and both chapters in one beautiful hardcover will get you the whole shebang.

Now, it looks like I need to put on my detective hat and see if I can actually find if there is indeed a 1985 graphic novel or not.


There you have it, Denizens, enough crime comic reading to keep you busy until the next installment. Happy reading!



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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Comics Lust 1/19/2019

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/Real Food Challenge trooper Tulip. We are in the deepest pit of the Real Food Challenge, Denizens, and we have been without dairy, corn, gluten, sugar, peanuts, and a few other things since Monday morning. It ain’t easy. If that wasn’t difficult enough, we are only allowed grains once per day, and beer…well, beer is a strict no-no. Thus, we suffer. Six days are down with 24 more to go. Thank goodness, my puppy executive team and I have plenty of great comics to help pass the time. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, treat your friends to some tacos (which we can't eat except for the meat and veggies), keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!


*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.


Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Otherworldly Wonders (Part 2)



As readers, comics guide us to other places whether it is a character’s life of relative normalcy or the most extreme of the fantastic. They take us somewhere new, somewhere different. That’s a given. But sometimes these stories deal with new worlds that intersect our own, whether the characters are the travelers or the characters are dealing with visiting/invading strangers—or some combination of both—is what we are looking at today. The main point is that the planet Earth is central to the story. So, what better way to celebrate other worlds than to open by re-experiencing one of the best comic book series of the past couple years.


Black Hammer

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dean Ormston and David Rubín, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Todd Klein, originally published in 2016 by Dark Horse Books)
As I have said before, I didn’t jump on this series right away, and it was a grave error on my part that I quickly remedied; thank goodness I did. Black Hammer is the story of a group of superheroes who upon succeeding in stopping a world-ending threat are seemingly destroyed in the aftermath of their victory. This not the case. Ten years have passed and the heroes, despite most of Earth believing them dead, are alive and well (relatively) on a farm in a rural town from which they cannot escape. One is dead, most desperately want to leave, and a few seem to enjoy their new life, but when a newcomer travels to this otherworldly version of Earth, she discovers all is not right in this odd town.
Lemire brings to life multiple amalgamations of the finest Gold, Silver, and Bronze Age heroes from The Big Two while injecting a grand mystery as to what exactly is keeping the heroes stranded and whether or not they are even on Earth at all. Ormston’s fine lines are a bridge between Lemire’s style of illustration and that of traditional superhero comics and his work truly shines when it comes to the character acting which lets the reader know exactly what the characters are feeling even when their words might suggest otherwise. Stewart’s muted color palette beautifully sets the tone for each moment, while the two issues illustrated by Rubín create a vibrant cross between traditional comics and the cartoony—and subsequently left me scrambling to read everything, like Ether, that Rubín has ever illustrated.
Lemire and Ormston kicked off not just one of the best comics of the past decade, they also created a Black Hammer universe that has branched out to side stories, one-shots, and even a new series, ALL of which you need to be reading. Here are the releases to date:


Not only these titles, but there will be a Black Hammer ’45 four-issue miniseries (Co-written by Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes, illustrated by Matt Kindt) releasing March 2019 and who knows what other goodies are heading our way in the future given that there will one day be a Black Hammer movie and television shows coming our way soon. Whether or not you have read the books in this ever-expanding world, you owe it to yourself to pick up the impressive Black Hammer Library Edition Volume 1, which contains Black Hammer #1–13, the annual, a whole mess of bonus material, and is greatly oversized so you can enjoy the finest Ormston and Rubín have to offer. Dang, I can’t wait to finally dive into my new Black Hammer: Age of Doom trade next!


Paper Girls

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, originally published in 2015 by Image Comics)
Nostalgia for the ‘80s? Yup. Love of sci-fi, time travel, monsters, and four paper girls trying to make sense of the madness that has engulfed their lives? Double yup. A story that will complete after five more issues with issue #30? Heck, yeah…although I will definitely be sad to see it go. Vaughan, Chiang, and Wilson brought us this fantastic series of what happens when a rip in time/space brings monsters and weirdos from the future into a Cleveland suburb in the ‘80s and it’s up to a team of kids on bikes to set things right. Sound kind of familiar? I’m sure it does, but know that this fine comic came out before the great Stranger Things Netflix series. A thoroughly entertaining story and gorgeous art await you and can be bought in trade or glorious hardcover.


The Micronauts

(Written by Bill Mantlo; illustrated primarily by Michael Golden, Pat Broderick, and Jackson Guice, originally published in 1979 by Marvel Comics)
I told you I can’t go longer than a few months without mentioning the Donist World Darling that is The Micronauts, and with good reason: it’s one hell of a damn fine comic in both story and (usually) art. But what makes it relevant to today’s installment is the tagline “They Came From Inner Space.” This team of heroes struggling to thwart the diabolical Baron Karza’s attempts to dominate what is known as the Microverse. The Microverse, however, is right here on planet Earth, only it exists at the subatomic level. Commander Rann, Princess Mari, Bug, Acroyear, Biotron, Microtron, and a whole host of others find themselves crossing between their world and ours in an effort to put an end to Karza’s reign. Exciting, thrilling, and at times devastating this series is forever on my top-five list. Unfortunately, a licensing nightmare prevents this must-read series from getting the omnibus treatment it so richly deserves. To the back issue bins with you!


Kill 6 Billion Demons

(Everythinged by Tom Parkinson-Morgan, originally published online beginning in 2013 at killsixbilliondemons.com, and originally published in print in 2016 by Image Comics)
Angels and demons, gods and devils, none of the above is what you want to come calling when you are…you know…doin’ it for the first time with your college boyfriend. Then suddenly, WHAMMY, an angel/demon or whatever shows up gets kilt and sticks a magical key type thing into your forehead immediately after the things that kilt the angel/demon thing grab your boyfriend and vanish into another dimension called Throne. We’ve all been there, right? Anyhow, the magic doohickey in Allison Ruth’s head blows her away...literally...and dumps her in the bizarre world of Throne.
Now, although this series first began appearing digitally one page at a time in 2013, it is definitely new to me. I freaking love it. You have a true everythinger delivering a trippy as hell story with trippy as hell art to match. In this wonderfully developed world, there are no two creatures alike and, trust me, there are TONS of creatures to see in this vibrant, funny, thrilling, highly imaginative series that strikes me as what you would get if Hayao Miyazaki was a bit more twisted and developed a story for adults. I’m currently on the fourth chapter and loving every page of this comic. Check it out online, but this is one you will want to ultimately get in print and have on your favorite shelf.


The Stuff of Legend

(Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, illustrated by C.P. Wilson III, designed and colored by Jon Conkling and Michael De Vito, originally published in 2009 by Th3rd World Studios)
What if traveling to another world, one in which your favorite toys were alive and walking and talking with one another, was only a matter of stepping into your darkened closet. That would be nice, but in this instance, the Boogieman is very much real and has abducted the toys’ boy into the realm known as The Dark. Now, it’s up to the boy’s favorite toys to venture into the closet and into The Dark to rescue him from the clutches of the wicked Boogieman. I positively love this comic and although there are brutal delays between issues, it is very much worth checking into not only for the fascinating and oftentimes harsh story from Raicht and Smith, or for the fantastic character designs and beautiful storytelling skills of Wilson III, but also for the book’s unique and gorgeous production and design. These black, white, and sepia-colored comics, trades, and hardcover collections have a square form factor and mimic the look of old children’s books from the ’40s and ’50s. I just hope the creators are able to finish it someday soon, as this one is something special.


That’s it for this installment and I hope you get to travel to many magical worlds over this three-day weekend. All the best. See you next week.



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