Tag Archive: Frank Cho


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Our borg.com Best of 2016 list continues today with the Best in Print and a bonus wrap-up of other year’s bests.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Top Picks and Best Movies of 2016 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2016 here, and the Best in Television here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Print:

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Best Comic Book Series – Old Man Logan (Marvel).  With just enough backstory from prior series focused on the future world version of Logan/Wolverine, writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino took us through the struggle of the superhero that survived all his contemporaries, only to be plunged into a parallel world where everything is familiar but nothing is the same.

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Best Graphic NovelWonder Woman: The True Amazon, Jill Thompson (DC Comics).  Writer/artist Jill Thompson is probably the best creator in comics today.  Her origin story of Wonder Woman is vibrant, and she presents a flawed, complex, and ultimately strong and fearless heroine.  The best Wonder Woman book we’ve ever read.

Batman TMNT 1 Williams

Best Comic Book Limited Series/Best Crossover Comic Book Series – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC Comics/IDW).  James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II pulled together an impossible team-up of characters that ended up working great together.  An action-packed, nostalgic fun trip.

DeptH cover 1

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Kindt, Dept.H (Dark Horse).  Kindt pulls together an incredibly nostalgic assemblage of the best action concepts: classic science fiction of the H.G. Wells variety, G.I. Joe Adventure Team-inspired characters, and a fun character study and whodunit that will have you searching out your old game of Sub Search.  We just hope he makes a prequel at some point so we get to see a similar quest with an old fashioned copper-helmeted deep sea diver.  A fun read month after month and the best writing comics have to offer.

After the cut we continue with the best in comics, books, and more from 2016:

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skybourne001covbaltimore-600x910    skybourne001covmidtown-600x923

It’s a useful story tool when used right: The historical talisman presented to a modern character who uses the power of that talisman to do harm or save the world.  We’ve seen it throughout The Librarian, Warehouse 13, Ray Bradbury Theater, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Highlander, Witchblade, Wynonna Earp, The Shannara Chronicles–it’s everywhere, and it’s timeless.  Frank Cho uses the same method to drive the story forward in his new five-issue, creator-owned, limited monthly series Skybourne.

Released this month from BOOM! Studios, Skybourne has what every comic book reader could want–Cho created the covers, the interior art, and scripted the story for a brand new action heroine.  The title character Grace Skybourne has been compared to James Bond–she has Daniel Craig’s Bond’s lightning reflexes and ability to level a room with her little finger.  And she’s an agent every woman wants to be and every man wants to be with.  So the Bond comparison rings true.  Cho used covers originally intended for DC Comics’s Wonder Woman series for this series, and it may very well be true that Grace Skybourne–and Cho’s series–is the Wonder Woman series we all wish he’d write.

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In Issue #1 we meet Grace Skybourne and witness her abilities firsthand as she eliminates one baddie Terminator style and gracefully slips through a cover-to-cover fight scene straight out of John Carpenter’s They Live.  And because this is a Frank Cho project–being tough doesn’t mean she can’t be gorgeous and feminine along the way.  She’s searching for the story’s MacGuffin: King Arthur’s sword Excalibur.  Be prepared for some surprises.  Most of her foes take her for granted, but not all.  Cho’s choreography of combat and layouts are clean, simple, and as superb as you’d expect.  And his humor is back as well.  Color work is nicely rendered by Marcio Menyz. Continue reading

Skybourne Baltimore variant cover Frank Cho     Motor Girl 1 Terry Moore

Two of the big five comic book writer/artists known particularly for their renderings of women are each launching creator-owned series this year.  Eisner and Harvey Award winner Frank Cho, probably the #1 cover artist known for his fantastic women as well as his humor and storytelling, is launching his own mini-series through BOOM! Studios in September, and Eisner and Harvey award-winning Terry Moore, known for his smart and quirky women-focused stories, is publishing a new series through his Abstract Studios imprint.  Both titles will feature strong women characters.

Frank Cho, first recognized for his humor and pin-up art in University² and Liberty Meadows, has gone on to create some of the finest mix of superheroes and classical artwork of any living artist.  As recently as this summer he provided the most beautiful Wonder Woman cover art in years for DC Comics.  We’ve raved about his cover art here five years ago, but he’s created a lifetime of great work since then.  We wait with bated breath for more projects like his cover to cover work on Savage Wolverine, Mighty Avengers, Shanna the She-Devil, and his X-Men Schism arc.  This may be that next series.

His new project, Skybourne, a project we first heard about in early 2015, follows two immortals, Grace Skybourne and her brother Thomas, and their battle against the legendary Merlin of medieval lore.  Here is the description from the publisher:

Skybourne Midtown variant cover Frank Cho     Skybourne cover Frank Cho

* Full of fast-paced action, Skybourne is James Bond with fantasy elements thrown in and is unlike anything Frank Cho has ever done before.
* The legend of King Arthur is alive and well in the modern day world.  Only one man, Skybourne, can stop the evil Merlin from destroying the world.

But we ask again each year:  Whatever happened to the very cool and promising Guns & Dinos, which we first previewed five years ago here at borg.com Skybourne, Issue #1 of 5, written and drawn by Cho, is scheduled for release in comic book stores September 7, 2016.  Check out a preview below.

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B&V Evely    B&V Coover

What if every comic book cover artist also created the artwork inside the cover?  It’s a rare thing.  Cover artists tend to get discovered and begin churning out great cover work for a good rate and find less time for interior work.  Once in a while Alex Ross will take on a labor of love and work the interiors as with the Masks and earlier works like Kingdom Come and Justice.  Same with Frank Cho, as he did with a surprise Savage Wolverine series a few years ago and Mike Mayhew with his The Star Wars series after his cover work became more and more popular.

Adam Hughes is well known for his cover work, especially his DC Comics women renderings.  His Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan mini-series, a rare event featuring his own interiors, was probably the high point of the series.  This summer fans of his artwork and classic Archie Comics characters are in for another rare treat.

B&V Buscema    B&V St Onge

Hughes will be scripting and illustrating interiors for a new Betty & Veronica series.  Best friends and classic rivals Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge will be at each other again, this time over the fate of Riverdale’s hangout, Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe.  Hughes has said he is attempting to make the characters timely and relevant.  It shouldn’t be too hard, as the duo is certainly timeless as seen in the updates–and retro inspired designs–of the characters on the variety of covers.  The standard cover will be by Hughes, featuring the two girls in his distinct style.  Thirteen covers will be supplied by women comic book artists.  And none of them chose the look of the gals from the classic series.

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He-Man print in limited edition of The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Review by C.J. Bunce

Next month Dark Horse Comics releases a must-read for fans of He-Man, She-Ra “Princess of Power,” and the Masters of the Universe world of toys, animated series, magazines, chapter books, posters, comic strips, and comic books.  The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover includes more than 300 pages full-color art, a portfolio featuring an exclusive print by Gerald Parel, a foil-embossed cover, and a die-cut two-piece Castle Greyskull slipcase.  A standard edition of the book will also be available.  Many well-known creators worked with these characters since its inception in the early 1980s, including Ralph McQuarrie, Drew Struzan, Dick Giordano, J. Michael Straczynski, George Tuska, Klaus Janson, Boris Vallejo, Tony Moore, Darwyn Cooke, Geoff Johns, and Tommy Lee Edwards.

Designers from every stage of the creation of He-Man, She-Ra, Skeletor, and the large cast of sword and sorcery heroes and villains, offer insight into character development, decision-making, and the impact on 1980s kids.  The best feature is the inclusion of hundred of pieces of full-color art, concept artwork, page layouts, sketches, storyboards, packaging art, prototypes, never before seen and unused imagery, advertising art, original comic art, and final comic book pages, covers, and animation cels.  It features restored art from master illustrator Earl Norem, as well as interviews with Dolph Lundgren, who played He-Man in the 1987 movie, director Gary Goddard, well-known TV producer/comic book writer Paul Dini, and voice actress Erika Scheimer, among many others.  Captions for photos were written by comic book creators Tim Seeley and Steve Seeley.

The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover slipcase edition

Particularly of interest to toy collectors are the original notes from the development stage of the toy line at Mattel.  Mattel, which had passed on the ground-breaking Star Wars action figure line, developed He-Man as a direct competitor to that toy line.  Mattel drove the look of the characters–this was first and foremost a toy line, inspired in part by the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta.  But it grew beyond that.  Artists and writers and other creators remark with pride about the focus on the stories that went beyond the toy line.

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Sleepy_Hollow_Origins_001_B_WonderCon_Variant   JGSea3-01-Cov-A-Cho

Plenty of new titles are hitting comic book store shelves today.  We have previews for you of four series with good jumping-on points.  From BOOM! Studios, check out the new Sleepy Hollow: Origins series, which takes a look back at the early days of Crane and Abbie (and some other familiar “faces” from the show).  From Dynamite Comics, a new Masks series begins, as well as the Frankensteinian series Reanimator, and the return of Frank Cho’s Jungle Girl with the new Season Three.

Masks2-Cov-A-Guice   Reanimator01-Cov-D-Mangum

Sleepy Hollow: Origins, Issue #1 is written by Mike Johnson with art by Matias Bergara.

Masks 2, Issue #1 is written by Cullen Bunn with art by Eman Casallos.

Jungle Girl Season Three, Issue #1 is written by Frank Cho and Doug Murray, with art by Jack Jadson.

Reanimator, Issue #1 is written by Keith Davidsen with art by Randy Valiente.

You’ll also find some great variant covers for these issues, shown above and below, including Jae Lee covers, a new Francesco Francavilla horror cover, a Tim Seeley cover, and a Frank Cho cover.  Check out previews for all four of these new titles after the break, courtesy of BOOM! Studios and Dynamite Comics:

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Phil Noto Black Widow

The last day of the year is finally here, and with that the last of our reviews of the best content of 2014.

We’ve previewed comic books each month thanks to publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, and Image.  We sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics has to offer, too, and although we don’t have enough time to review everything we review those titles we think our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro angle.  And we read plenty of books–sci-fi and fantasy, pulp and spy novels, movie and TV tie-ins, even Westerns and steampunk, as well as non-fiction books about movies, TV, and other genre topics.  This past month we have looked again at these titles, as we narrowed our selections to what we think are the very best.  So here are our picks for Best in Print for 2014.

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Best Comic Book Series — Black Widow, Marvel Comics.  We were wondering early on what would take the place of Fraction and Hollingsworth’s Hawkeye series for the most satisfying superhero fix.  It didn’t take long to see this other Marvel series looking at another superhero in a similarly personal–but very different–way.  It was a standout in a great year of comics.  Phil Noto’s art and colors were incredible and Nathan Edmondson’s story didn’t let up once.  Full of action, espionage, and intrigue.  A great series to catch-up on in a trade edition.  See our reviews of the series here and here.

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Best Comic Book Mini-Series — Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics.  Who would have guessed someone could make Archie and friends so accessible to any demographic in the 2010s?  And whose brilliant idea was doing it via a horror genre story of zombies taking over Riverdale?  Smart writing by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and spooky atmospheric illustrations by Francesco Francavilla made for a sumptuous series like no other.  Not technically a mini-series, it feels like one because of its staggered release.  See our earlier raves about the series here.

Wilds End issue 1

Best Comic Book Writing – Dan Abnett, Wild’s End, BOOM! Studios.  Abnett’s Wild’s End really caught us by surprise.  An incredible fantasy read that is truly unique from BOOM! Studios.  Anthropomorphic characters with incredible archaic dialogue that’s witty and smart.  A crazy mash-up of War of the Worlds, Christopher Robin’s neighborhood, and the dark edge and high stakes of Revival.  We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of this series.  Check out our earlier review here.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Annual 1

On the comic books shelves this month is Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1–one of those rare issues that matches a stellar cover artist with a stellar interior artist.  In this case both of those people are Frank Cho.  When Frank Cho creates a complete end-to-end book, he always provides something to attract readers, both with his stunning characters, action-packed panels, and subtle visual humor.  We saw this last year with his exciting run on the Savage Wolverine series.  That same quality of artwork is matched here with the comparable writing prowess of Marvel’s Guardians scribe, Brian Michael Bendis.  And the result is a fun, powerhouse read, and a darned-near perfect book.

Often annuals are quick stories that don’t offer much memorable.  They’re gimmicky efforts to sell another issue behind a monthly series.  The Guardians’ first annual is not like that.  It will stick with you as a story you want to know more about, with ramifications you would love to see play out in future books.

Guardians Annual 1 excerpt

The standard Guardians of The Galaxy team is here.  It’s a team both readers of the series and film fans will be familiar with, both in look and via their dialogue and mannerisms: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot.  Added here for great fun is Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers and Spidey-verse superhero Venom.  They encounter a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier in space, which prompts them to meet up with the likes of the classic Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, and a team of other familiar heroes, who introduce a dark menace to the Guardians team.

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SWIsh 1 E Midtown Comics by Mark Brooks    SWIsh 1 P Comixposure by John Tyler Christopher

It hasn’t been released yet, and it is already the #1 best selling comic of 2015.  Forecasted with advance sale numbers at more than one million copies already, Marvel Comics is re-entering the world of Star Wars comics like it’s 1977 all over again.  Written by our friend Jason Aaron with artwork by John Cassaday and colorist Laura Martin, the story continues the adventures of Luke Skywalker after the end of the original Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. 

Marvel Comics is pulling out all the stops with the variety of cover variants readers can choose from.  Most comic book stores will get one of a half dozen basic covers, but those who dig around on the Web will find plenty more available.  More than 30 basic full-color covers will be released in January 2015, plus black and white versions and sketch variants of many of those covers.  And that’s not all, several collectible comic book websites will be releasing signature editions signed by everyone up to Stan Lee, and sketch covers by several artists including Dynamite Comics’ Chris Caniano.  And you can get a logo-only cover to take to your next Con and commission an artist of your choice to sketch you a character.

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Alex Ross, John Cassaday, Mike Mayhew, Frank Cho, David Petersen, Jenny Frison, Stephanie Han, Amanda Connor, Alex Maleev… everyone but Dave Dorman seems to have been pulled into this project.  Click on each image to see the artist and whether the book is only available at a special store.  A few variant images have not yet been released.

SWIsh 1 Y Heroes Haven by Mike Perkins      SWIsh1 R Heroes and Fantasies Daniel Acuna

So check out even more great covers to Marvel’s Star Wars, Issue #1, after the break:

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Ryan Sook Futures End cover 1    Ryan Sook Futures End 14 cover August 2014 release

We’ve delved into some great cover artists at borg.com in the past three years, from Alex Ross to Mauro Cascioli to Frank Cho and Mike Mayhew.  With his cover run on the DC Comics New 52 series Futures End, Ryan Sook is the artist you just can’t miss these days.  His cover for Issue #14 (above right) of Futures End is being solicited for August 2014 already, and it showcases several styles.  If you take a look back over the past few years you can see one of the best artists around developing his style and craft, putting his mark on the covers of some great comic book series.

You can see Sook as the cover artist of choice to start up several new series with the number one issue out of the gates, for series including Robotika (2005), Giant-Size Hulk (2006), Friday the 13th (2007), Batman and the Outsiders (2007), Death of the New Gods (2007), Countdown Specials, Countdown Presents and DC Universe Specials (2008 and 2011), Broken Trinity: Aftermath (2009), Blackest Night: Wonder Woman (2010), JSA All Stars (2010), The Magdalena (2010), B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth series (2011-2013), Victorian Undead II (2011), DC Universe Online: Legends (2011), Kirby: Genesis (2011), Justice League Dark (2011), Lord of the Jungle (2011), Rose & Thorn (2012), Sword of Sorcery (2012), and The New 52 Futures End (2014).

Sook is able to render men and women superheroes equally well, yet his women really stand out.  Here’s his Wonder Woman, showcased in the Blackest Night series:

Ryan Sook  Blackest Night Wonder Woman 1 cover    Ryan Sook Blackest Night Wonder Woman 2 cover

Less stylized than Cliff Chiang’s current angular Wonder Woman look, Sook may have created a modern twist on the definitive look of the classic character for other artists to emulate.

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