Tag Archive: Phil Hester


Ant Lucia

In addition to great creators from outside the Midwest, like Black Widow artist Phil Noto (as we mentioned here at borg.com yesterday), the great thing about returning to a Con year after year is running into all our friends who write, sketch, or paint incredible works for a living.  Planet Comicon 2015 was no different.

Take for instance Des Moines artist Ant Lucia (pictured above).  Three years ago Ant was just beginning to put together great genre characters like DC superheroes and Star Wars characters in a unique retro style of poster art.  Flash forward to 2014 and an entire month of cover art at DC Comics was devoted to his creations, and statues based on his DC Bombshell designs are selling off the shelves in every town across the country.  Ant’s beautiful designs are second to none, and there’s not a more deserving guy to achieve such success from his ideas.

Other creators at Planet Comicon this weekend with national success included Jason Aaron, who had his own rock star sized line of fans getting his new Star Wars series autographed, as well as artist Freddie Williams II, drawing sketches for fans and signing copies of his Legendary Starlord series, among other works.

Jordan and Fyffe

Pictured above are artists Damont Jordan and Bryan Fyffe.  Damont had a new “spirit fox” print available that blew us away, and he churned out sketches for fans all weekend long.  And we noticed other artists at the Con were coming to Bryan’s booth to buy his framed art for their own homes.  Bryan has the best eye for design of anyone we know, and creates a variety of inspired multi-media works.  His most recent commercial illustration was for some major franchise properties, as well as the cover of John Renehan’s new novel The Valley.  Check out some of his work at his website here.

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Planet Comicon banner 2015

The biggest pop culture and comic book convention ever in the region begins today.  It’s the third annual Planet Comicon to be held in its new venue–the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  This year is even bigger than last year’s show, with more vendor space and more creators in Artists Alley.  Set-up began yesterday morning and continued until late last night.

We discussed some of the media guests previously here at borg.com.  You can get a current line-up at the Con’s website here.

Don’t know where to begin?  Start here, with this short list creators and attractions to check out:

  • Amanda Lynn Chainmaille Creations, Booth 812
  • Elite Comics, Booth 2214 at the Pillar
  • Kansas City Costume Company, Booth 928
  • Wildman Drinking Horns, Booth 1017
  • Writer Jason Aaron, Booth 153
  • Artist Rob Davis, Booth 1036
  • Author Kevin Dilmore, Booth 323
  • Artist Bryan Fyffe, Booth 2740
  • Artist Greg Horn, Booth 2730
  • Writer/Artist Phil Hester, Booth 536
  • Artist Damont Jordan, Booth 2739
  • Artist Ant Lucia, Booth 2745
  • Writer Jai Nitz, Booth 540
  • Artist Phil Noto, on the wall past Booth 2745
  • Writer/Artist Ande Parks, Booth 538
  • Writer Seth Peck, Booth 139
  • Artists Nathen and Keven Reinke, Booth 1436
  • Artist Greg Smallwood, Booth 542
  • Author Dayton Ward, Booth 323
  • Artist Freddie Williams II, Booth 2776
  • Artist Darryl Woods, Cosplay Showcase

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Six Million Dollar Man Season Six trade paperback

Following on the heels of the exciting espionage and intrigue-filled series The Bionic Man, this year’s The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six unfortunately didn’t pack the same punch needed to continue the series beyond its first six issues.  It begs the question of whether five seasons really was enough, or whether it’s just too difficult to grab a modern audience with the story of a cybernetic human from the 1970s and 1980s when technology has moved so far past that era.

The reboot via Dynamite Comics’ license for Steve Austin began with a script by Kevin Smith that was then taken over by Phil Hester and wrapped with Aaron Gillespie.  Their series retold Steve Austin’s story of a test pilot crashing and being saved from death via cybernetics in the modern day.  It was a great read that blended the best of the TV series with technology of today.  The mistake may have been discontinuing that series for a reboot aimed to leverage the current marketing hook that worked so well for other TV series continuing in comic book form, the best being Dark Horse Comics’ multi-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons Eight through Ten, and IDW Publishing’s The X-Files Season Ten.

SMDM6 interior A   SMDM6 interior B

Why weren’t readers pulled in for the Bionic retro-fix?  The fact the story was necessarily planted in the past?  The lack of photo-real interior artwork?  With a new Bionic Man movie in the works with Mark Wahlberg, it may be the next time we see a Steve Austin comic book series is an adaptation of that movie.

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Green Arrow issue 100 cover   Green Arrow 101 cover

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

It’s a line by Alexander Pope in his 1709 poem, and Oliver Queen played out the saying fully in Arrow’s mid-season finale.  Unwisely confronting the League of Assassin’s far more powerful Ra’s Al Ghul and covering for sister Thea by posing as the killer of Sara Lance, Oliver met his end.  “Where Angels Fear to Tread” is also the title of the story arc that took the original run of DC Comics’s Green Arrow one hundred issues to get to–the original fall of the Emerald Archer.  In the mid-season TV finale it was literally a fall–off a cliff after a pretty undeniable death via Ra’s Al Ghul’s sword.

But we all know that the death of a superhero is short-lived 99 percent of the time.  In Issue #101 of DC Comics’ long-running Green Arrow monthly series Ollie met an untimely death in an exploding airplane, and yet the series continued for 36 more issues–without Oliver Queen.  Series star Stephen Amell may have given a clue to a similar direction for the return of the series in January via a Facebook post after the show:

“Despite the title, our show is bigger than any one character.  We’re going to prove that to you.”

Death of Green Arrow

The original, explosive death of Oliver Queen.

So we may see a period during the last half of Season 3 without Ollie.  But a note to the show writers: just don’t take it too far.

It feels like the series has barely begun and the writers have taken the big leap.  Where can we go from here?  Taking a superhero book forward without the title superhero in the 1990s comic book series was a risk, and split those fans who were loyal to the classic Green Arrow and those willing to accept a second Green Arrow–Connor Hawke, Oliver Queen’s son, as a new Green Arrow.  Three years was a surprisingly long run without Ollie, but ultimately the series was cancelled.  Oliver was to be resurrected years later by Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks in a second successful Green Arrow series.

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The Flash Season Zero regular cover issue 1   The Flash Season Zero issue 2 cover

If you’re not watching The Flash on the CW Network there’s no time like tonight to join in and get caught up.  All the DC Comics fans who grew tired of the dark and gloomy nature of the DC Comics universe as realized in television (like Constantine) and the movies (like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy) have the alternative they have been looking for from this spin-off of CW’s Arrow.

Grant Gustin plays Barry Allen against all prior types.  He’s more like Peter Parker than the Barry Allen of the Silver Age or more recent New 52 incarnations, and little like the older, more serious scientist in The Flash television series from the 1980s starring John Wesley Shipp.  He’s cheery, funny, friendly, and generally a happy guy despite his obsession with his mother’s death years ago, having to deal with his father in prison for her murder, and the fact that his life has been turned upside down by a bolt of electric current from a particle accelerator.

Phil Hester art on The Flash Season Zero

And if the series isn’t enough for you, check out the tie-in comic book series The Flash Season Zero.  Season Zero provides a supplemental story to the TV show but also is a jumping-on point for those who may have missed the first few episodes.  Now only two issues in, you can get these back issues easily from any comic book retailer.  The best reason to check out Season Zero?  The return of artist Phil Hester to the part of the DCU he drew for many years as penciller on the monthly Green Arrow series.  With multiple crossover episodes this season between The Flash and Arrow, hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Hester’s take on drawing Stephen Amell’s much younger version of Oliver Queen.

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Six Million Dollar Man Season Six cover 1

The new Dynamite Comics series that is intended to take over where season five of The Six Million Dollar Man TV series left off hits comic book stores next Wednesday.  We’ve previewed the book and are eager to see how the story develops over the coming year.  Written by James Kuhoric with art by Juan Antonio Ramirez, The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six wastes no time before featuring Maskatron–a great retro idea–in its first story arc with Issue #1.

The best feature of Issue #1 is undeniably the cover by Alex Ross, which is just beautiful.  Ramirez’s interior pages feature well done composition and backgrounds, outer space imagery and technology.  His character faces, however, could be improved with more detail so readers can follow who’s who.  Since this is supposed to be a continuation of the series featuring Lee Majors, it’d be great to see Lee Majors come through in the visuals.  It’s only Issue #1 so we’ll wait to see what future issues have in store for us.

Ramirez interior art Six Million Dollar Man Season Six issue 1

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Miss Fury Dynamite Comics

We tried on for size almost every new book that was released from comic book publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Archaia/BOOM!, and Image.  We tried to sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics had to offer, too, and although we didn’t have enough time to review everything we did try to put out there for your consideration those titles we thought our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro bent.  Our pull list included issues from Afterlife with Archie to Django Unchained, from Liberator to Larfleezeand from Velvet to The X-Files.  This past month we have reviewed the year-long run of the best of these titles, as we narrowed our selections to 21 of the very best entries in genre entertainment outside of TV and movies, which we revealed here yesterday.  So here are the rest of our picks for the Best of 2013.

Kane Starkiller borg by Mike Mayhew

Best Borg Appearance — Kane Starkiller, The Star Wars.  Borgs showed up everywhere this year, from the lead characters on Almost Human, to Doctor Who, to countless comic book series including Justice League and RoboCop.  Our favorite appearance came from the young mind of George Lucas as he created the original script that would later be edited into the original Star Wars trilogy.  And through Dark Horse Comics’ The Star Wars monthly comic book event we learned one of his best ideas was merged into other roles and one of his best characters entirely cut.   That character was Jedi Kane Starkiller, who would reveal his cyborg chest implants that kept him alive, later to heroically give up this life-saving technology to save his friends.

MissFury001-Cov-Renaud

Best Comic Book Series — Miss Fury, Dynamite Comics.  A uniquely crafted tale, a compelling and seductive superhero, great action panel after panel, sourced in a long-shelved classic character of the Golden Age of comics.  Rob Williams and Jack Herbert’s Miss Fury is a carefully rendered update that rings true to the edgy spirit of the world’s first female superhero.  Beautiful panels set up an ever-changing time and place and pull readers along for the ride.  And stuck-out-of-time Marla Drake and her alter ego Miss Fury could not have looked better, whether carving out her place in the 1940s or as she was teleported into the future.  It’s a series no one should miss.

Clint Barton Hawkeye by Fraction

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Fraction, Hawkeye.  Last year revealed one of the best comic book series we ever read, focusing on that “other” superhero archer, the second tier Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye.  Matt Fraction gave us the most interesting set-up and look into the daily life of a superhero who isn’t Captain America or Iron Man.  This year he kept up the momentum in his Hawkeye monthly series, providing stories that challenged readers, each issue taking a different peek into Clint Barton, another costumed superhero called Hawkeye, and their trusty dog.

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Bionic Man Issue 20 cover by Mayhew

If you like action-centric stories then in 2013 you couldn’t get much better than Dynamite Publishing’s Bionic Man series.  Beginning first as co-writer with Phil Hester then continuing the series as solo writer, Aaron Gillespie quickly made Steve Austin his own, bringing forward the best of the 1970s TV series and updating Austin, O.S.I. chief Oscar Goldman, and Bionic Woman Jaime Sommers for a new generation of fans.

The Six Million Dollar Man, and Austin’s experiences as the world’s first real-life cyborg, is a great franchise for today, and Gillespie has taken advantage of modern technologies in his Issues #12 through this month’s Issue #26.  The Bionic Man has encountered everything from good uses for bluetooths to unexpected side-effects of cyber-hacking, and the introduction of hacker Floyd was one of Gillespie’s great updates to the franchise.  He knows his characters and story, enough to play with the characters in a light-hearted way, while keeping with the spirit of the original source material.

Bionic Man 15 cover

Some of the best additions to Austin’s story include Floyd hacking into his brain computer and appearing as a pink My Little Pony inspired avatar that keeps perplexing the cyborg spy.  It’s a great (and hilarious) device to allow the characters to give jabs at each other, and it provides a relaxed moment for Jaime Sommers’ lost memories of her relationship with Steve to slowly begin to return.

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I-CON 2013 poster

The Iowa Comic Book Club’s annual I-CON convention will be back this Saturday, October 19, 2013, at Forte Banquet and Conference Center at 615 3rd Street in Des Moines, Iowa.  I-CON has been around for more than a decade and grows each year with more creators and guests.

Oddly enough I-CON has been one great way to access creators of favorite borg.com icons Green Arrow and the Bionic Man.  Past attendees have included Green Arrow writer/artist Mike Grell and classic Green Arrow writer Denny O’Neil, and this year two writers of the Bionic Man series are in the line-up.

Ant Lucia Superman and Lois Lane

Ant Lucia print.

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MarsAttacks-Obliterated-pr-1-9aba0

No franchise is safe from IDW Publishing’s Mars Attacks.  So far mars Attacks has had mash-ups with Mars Attacks Popeye, Mars Attacks the Ghostbusters, Mars Attacks Judge Dredd, Mars Attacks KISS (yep, the band), Mars Attacks Miss Fury, Mars Attacks Spike (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and even Mars Attacks Strangers in Paradise (Terry Moore’s long-running series).

Today, IDW Publishing releases a parody of the classic comic book series about classics themselves–Classics Illustrated–with its new title Mars Attacks Obliterated.  Issue #1 takes on three classics:  Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.  Below we’re previewing today’s release, courtesy of IDW Publishing.

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