Tag Archive: IDW Publishing


 

Review by C.J. Bunce

Six have been chosen by their clans.  New dangers have arisen, and they must work together and learn to fight for each other to achieve their mission, ridding the land of new threats.  Unfortunately none of these chosen warriors trust each other.  We meet the cast of characters in the first chapter of Rising Sun, a new comic book series from IDW Publishing set in 12th century Japan, based on the 2017 CMON Limited tabletop board game Rising Sun, where clans must use politics, strength, and honor to rule the land.  The story was created by Skylanders writers Ron Marz and David Rodriguez.

Readers follow Chiyoku of the Koi Clan as she confronts a dragon who fells a fellow warrior.  The introductory issue paints Chiyoku like a cross between the DC Comics character Katana, Disney’s Mulan, or China’s Lotus Rong on a journey Red Sonja might take–It’s drawn in the style we’ve seen of Red Sonja on her bloody adventures with similar sweeping action.  Artist Martin Coccolo (Star Trek: Year Five) renders characters that are lifelike and recognizable from panel to panel.  The costumes and vibrant color work by Katrina Mae Hao bring along a realistic, historical vibe to the world of the game (check out the core Rising Sun game and expansion packs here at Amazon).

 

Readers encounter a similar pantheon of color-styled clans as we met in the movie The Great Wall, this time the red Koi clan, the orange Fox clan, the purple Lotus clan, the gold Bonsai clan, the blue Dragonfly clan, and the green Turtle clan.  As a bonus for gamers, the first issue includes an appendix with suggested game modifications.

It has vivid action and beautiful characters, presenting a good beginning for the series.  Here is a preview of the first issue of Rising Sun, plus some cover art (above) for the first three issues, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

We first met Rom the Spaceknight in 1979 in the pages of his own Marvel Comics series.  Rom’s first foes were the Dire Wraiths, evolved descendants of the same Skrulls from the Avengers stories.  Since 1979 the Wraiths have faced all sorts of familiar Marvel superheroes, including S.H.I.E.L.D., the X-Men, Silver Surfer, Power Man and Iron Fist, the Fantastic Four, and Doctor Strange.  Now, thanks to co-publisher IDW Publishing, Rom: Dire Wraiths–a new mini-series brings astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins at the launch of the Apollo 11 in 1969 face to face with the Wraiths.

But where’s Rom?  That’s covered in a back-up story by Chris Ryall (writer of previous Rom stories),  featuring art by Guy Dorian (Rom, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero) and comics legend Sal Buscema (The Incredible Hulk, Spectacular Spider-Man).  The primary story by Ryall features a vist from Earth Command, and it includes artwork by Luca Pizzari (Marvel’s Weapon X).  Some particularly striking variant covers are available for the first issue, drawn by Luca Pizzari, Corin Howell, and a collaboration between Guy Dorian and Sal Buscema.  The Wraiths, in both stories, are rendered with incredible detail, some of the best sci-fi/alien designs we’ve seen–one panel in the back-up story featuring the claws is almost three-dimensional.  Brilliant work.

You might recall Men in Black III took a similar approach, an alternate timeline with a visit to the day of the Moonshot, bringing that series’ Agent J back in time to meet a young Agent K at the Apollo 11 launch and face an alien threat, as Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who also accomplished in the episode “Day of the Moon.”  As with these other genre close encounters, in Rom: Dire Wraiths humans apparently knew more than the public was made aware back in 1969.  In as many crossovers as we’ve found that featured an appearance by the Dire Wraiths, this story also references the G.I. Joe universe via reference to cyborg Mike Power (and did they refer to The Ruby Files’ Rick Ruby?).

This is a science fiction story for fans of monster comics from the 1950s through the 1980s.  The artwork is truly top tier sci-fi.  Here is a preview of the first issue and look at some nicely creepy future covers from Rom: Dire Wraiths:

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Our borg Best of 2019 list continues today with the Best in Comics.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2019 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2019 here, and the Best in Television 2019 here.

We reviewed comics from every major publisher this year, and were pleasantly surprised with all the new characters and content available.  You’ll find both some new creators on the list this year and some fan favorites who keep making better comic books each new year.

Here are the best comic books for 2019:

 

Best Limited Comic Series (tie) – Sara by Garth Ennis and Steve Epting (TKO Studios) and Goodnight Paradise by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli (TKO Studios).  The new publisher TKO Studios began with a bang with these two incredible stories.  Sara is what every fan of war comics hopes for, and Goodnight Paradise brings the realities of life in the 21st century to the comics page in a story that will stay with readers a long time.

Best Ongoing Comic Book SeriesGhost Tree by Bobby Curnow and Simon Gane (IDW Publishing). Haunting, mythic, and sweeping, this story of a man reflecting on his past and coming to terms with the present combines with Asian legend tropes to form an emotional and curiously funny tale. Sure to leave readers begging for more.

 

Best Sci-Fi Comic Series, Best Comic Book WritingAscender by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics).  Lemire owned this category with two fabulous science fiction tales, both with strong female lead characters. Runner-up: Sentient by Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta (TKO Studios).

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Few comic book stories this year presented both a unique idea and a perfect pairing of writer and artist.  Previewed here earlier this year, IDW’s limited mini-series Ghost Tree is coming to comic book and book stores this week for the first time in a single, collected, graphic novel edition.  Prepare yourself for a refreshingly slow-paced supernatural journey into the past for a young Japanese expatriate.  His name is Brandt, and he is returning to the home of his youth because of a promise made to his grandfather a decade ago.  He is drawn from the U.S. to his grandmother’s home in Japan, and a fated meeting in the woods nearby.

Evoking folk tales like Momotarō and Bao, writer Bobby Curnow (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and artist Simon Gane (Godzilla) painted a touching, engaging, and haunting snippet from Japanese culture, bridging two generations, with a tale steeped in the otherworldly realm of so many Asian legends.  Like Kim Eun-hee’s Kingdom, it bridges genresThis is not horror, despite some mildly shocking imagery, but a story of possibility, connections, and learning from the past.  It’s a journey of self-discovery for grown-up Brandt, but what more can he learn from his grandfather now that his grandfather is gone?  Who is waiting for him in the woods and what does his grandmother know of it?  Learning from mistakes and regret, a haunted tree, and an assembly of souls that are drawn to it, plus monsters, an old girlfriend, and disembodied samurai?  It sounds strange, but it works.

  

The great color work is provided by colorist Ian Herring.  If shades of green are your thing, this series is for you.  Herring’s choices make for a great combination with Gane, whose artwork frequently pulls readers into a myriad of fascinating cultural settings.  Herring’s limited palette of colors is the perfect soothing addition to Bobby Curnow’s story–all three combining to make a perfect book.  Gane’s beautiful style is his own, but it evokes works we’ve seen from great comic artists like Moebius, Milo Manara, and 1980s Frank Miller.

Here is a preview of the new trade edition of Ghost Tree, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Fans of CBS All Access’s Star Trek Discovery have a new series interlude to check out, and it follows the continuing exploits of a fan-favorite character.  IDW Publishing launches the new comic book mini-series Star Trek Discovery: Aftermath this Wednesday.  The series follows the ongoing exploits of Captain Christopher Pike.  The “aftermath” of the title?  The story looks into the crew of the Enterprise in the aftermath of the season two finale, featuring other series regulars including young Spock and Number One.

The three-part story is written by Star Trek Voyager novelist Kirsten Beyer and IDW’s longest-running Star Trek writer, Mike Johnson, with artwork by one of IDW’s top Star Trek artists, Tony Shasteen (his likenesses of Rebecca Romijn as Number One in particular are excellent) and colors by JD Mettler.  Old Federation rivals the Klingons take center stage in a bit of an homage and callback (call forward?) to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “A Matter of Honor.”  The art of Angel Hernandez is featured on the standard covers for the series, with an alternate cover for the first issue by George Caltsoudas, plus a photo cover.

 

Here is a preview of Star Trek Discovery: Aftermath, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Before Walter Simonson and Tom Palmer collaborated on their stunning adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, they joined forces to create a great run of stories in the pages of Marvel Comics’ original Star Wars monthly, featuring two of the most famous borgs of all time, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.  By some kind of miracle the original page art from the 1980s was located to come together for IDW Publishing′s sixty-third Art Edition publication.  Boasting the 1:1 scale, original comic page art sized, pages in a deluxe hardcover edition, this is another of those books Star Wars fans have always dreamed of.

Just as we saw with Howard Chaykin and Roy Thomas’s earlier Art Edition for Star Wars (reviewed here at borg), Walter Simonson Star Wars Artist’s Edition presents high-quality copies of the original page art.  Unlike many past Artist’s Editions, however, the entire lettering and logos are all present, so readers can re-visit the entire issues (minus ads) for Issue #51 “Resurrection of Evil,” Issue #52 “To Take the Tarkin,” Issue #55 “Plif!,” issue #56 “Coffin in the Clouds,” Issue #57 “Hello, Bespin, Good-Bye!,” and Issue #60 “Shira’s Story,” all written by long-time The Amazing Spider-Man and Action Comics writer and Venom, Carnage, and Scott Lang Ant-Man character creator David Michelinie, with lettering by Joe Rosen and John Morelli.

Take a look at the original inked artwork in these stunning preview pages of Walter Simonson Star Wars Artist’s Edition presented for borg readers courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Jaxxon, the mercenary rabbit, first appeared in the original Marvel Comics Star Wars, Issue #8, published in November 1977.  The issue was written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, co-written by Roy Thomas and inked by Tom Palmer.  Jaxxon was a great character, and fit right in with that Star Wars cantina full of strange aliens in the original movie.  Officially a Lepi smuggler working with Han Solo on an early job, a la Seven Samurai, Jaxxon was a 1970s early dose of snarky and cantankerous, a giant Harvey in a spacesuit with the attitude of Howard the Duck.  He was tough, smart, and funny, and long before the third movie trilogy he was the first character we met who ate background characters (he hated carrots, but liked his dewback steaks).

If you missed last year’s annual for Marvel’s Star Wars Adventures series, you may not know Jaxxon is officially a canon character now.  And he’s back this summer when the next comic book annual arrives from IDW Publishing.  The creators promise plenty of Jaxxon in his next story, and even better, he’s featured on the cover.  And it’s not just any cover, it’s a cover drawn by one of our all-time favorite artists, Stan Sakai, who readers of borg will have seen turn up recently in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo, Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls, and of course the series readers know him best for, the new reboot of his solo series Usagi Yojimbo

 

Every creator at Marvel has seemed to want to bring Jaxxon back, from Jason Aaron to John Tyler Christopher, to Chip Zdarsky, with the artists featuring him on their variant covers for the main monthly series and tie-in titles, plus he made the recent non-canon Star Wars, Issue #108.  The new, second annual story for the cartoony, young adult-focused Star Wars Adventures comes from the same team to bring Jaxxon back to the Marvel Comics pages last year, writer Cavan Scott and artist Alain Mauricet, this time pairing Jaxxon with Lando Calrissian on his next gig.

Here are just a few of those covers in case you missed them, and a preview:

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If you enjoy Batman and especially if you read Batman comics, there’s one series you should be reading right now.  And if you’re a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, there’s one event you can’t miss this year.  It’s Crisis in a Half Shell, the third crossover/team-up series of writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II.  We previewed the series here at borg back in April.  It’s the most fun extension–after a lot of creators have tried–to the actual Crisis on Infinite Earths, with a Batman-centric tale including a host of Bat-villains.  Two issues into the series with a third issue arriving at comic book stores today, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III also has that classic space fantasy look from its multiverse plot, stirred by ultimate villain Krang.

Fans of original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman should take note–Tynion and Williams have cleverly tied original Eastman artwork created for this series into the story.  It works seamlessly and has a great Outer Limits/Twilight Zone impact.  As we expected from seeing the first images of the new character concept drawings of Batman, the Turtles, and the villains back in April, this series is both classic Batman and classic Turtles.  Fans of either–and fans of both–franchises will be impressed with every inch of each page, including Jeremy Colwell‘s coloring that makes for a perfect partnership with Williams’ vibrant, dynamic, wall-to-wall action layouts and painterly style.  And Tom Napolitano‘s lettering takes different turns to emphasize voices, with a great, evocating type especially for this new world’s Joker counterpart.

Today’s new cover art by Williams and Colwell just can’t be beat.  It’s flat out one of the year’s best covers.  Take a look at this big preview of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Issue #3/Part 3 of the Crisis in a Half Shell story, plus previews of the cover art to Issues #4 and #5, courtesy of DC Comics and IDW Publishing:

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This past February we reported writer/artist Stan Sakai would be bringing his world of the swordsrabbit Miyamoto Usagi to IDW Publishing with stories old and new.  That begins tomorrow with the first issue of the new three-part, full-color series–yep, the black and white comic will be in full color for the first time, written, drawn, and lettered by comics legend Sakai with colors by Tom Luth (Groo the Wanderer).  Readers will catch up with Usagi caught-up in his own new drama set during the Edo period of 17th century Japan.  The first story, titled “Bunraku,” a word for Japanese puppetry, captures many elements that make the world of Usagi Yojimbo unique: adventure filled with culture, folklore, and history.  IDW also plans to bring all 35 years of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo stories into new collected editions.  So Issue #1 of Usagi Yojimbo: Bunraku is only the beginning.

First published in 1984, Usagi Yojimbo garnered five Eisner Awards for Sakai, the 2014 Inkwell Award, 2007 Harvey Award, 2002 National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Awards, and the Cultural Ambassador Award from the Japanese American Museum.  Haven’t checked out Usagi Yojimbo yet?  The humor is similar to Mike Norton’s Battlepug, or Mike Wieringo’s Tellos, full of action, classic Conan, Tarzan, John Carter-level adventure, with the epic feel of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki.  Note: Another book is now available for pre-order from Sakai’s earlier publisher.  Last week Dark Horse Comics announced Usagi Yojimbo: 35 Years of Covers, a complete hardcover collection of Sakai’s greatest covers (you can pre-order it now here at Amazon).

Usagi Yojimbo #1 will be released in a main cover by Sakai, plus variants by Daniel Warren Johnson–1:10 retailer incentive, Kevin Eastman–1:50 retailer incentive, comics legend Walt Simonson–1:25 retailer incentive, and a two-part Sakai cover that connects with Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim, Issue #1, plus store exclusives from Buzz (500, Legends), Maria Caligari (500, AOD Collectables), J. Scott Campbell (color or B&W, Comics & Ponies), Mike Choi (logo–600, virgin–200, Collector’s Paradise, Knowhere), Chris Johnson (1,000, Brave New World), Alex Kotkin (Excelsior), Linh Nguyen (Incredible Con), Ian Nichols (w/Tick, 500, New England), Tessa Rose (1,000, Jak’s), blank cover from Sakai for use with watercolors, another Sakai cover (500, Other Realms), Julie Sakai (500, Dogū), Mike Vasquez (500, Frankie’s Comics), and the great Charles Vess (color–750, B&W–500, HeroesCon).

Here’s a preview of Usagi Yojimbo–Bunraku, Issue #1, plus previews of the covers for Issues #2 and #3, and all 24 variants for Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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The detective strategy game Clue is making another comeback.  Today IDW Publishing is releasing the first issue of a three-issue comic book miniseries called Clue: Candlestick.  Writer-artist Dash Shaw is also serving as series letterer, bringing his stylized look to the usual suspects: Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, Mrs. White, and Miss Scarlet.  Hasbro’s game turns 70 this year, so Shaw has compiled a new crime wrapped in secrets, lies, and puzzles, including a maze and coded message.  The puzzles can be unraveled by readers as they make their way through the mystery.

The best feature is Shaw’s incorporation of all the elements of the board game, including the familiar map of the house with connecting floor tiles, stone game pieces that serve as useful art on the grounds of Mr. Boddy’s estate, and, of course, the familiar weapons of choice.  To find out who is searching what rooms and when, you’ll need to solve a logic puzzle.  As with the expanded Master Detective version of the game, you may have more than you bargain for in the story’s first issue, including a focus on Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, and Mrs. White.  It turns out those weapons might have had some history.

 

In addition to Shaw’s main cover art, variant editions of each issue will form a triptych of the classic Clue suspects and their legendary weapons of choice.  Illustrator Jed McGowan (Time in Nature) designed a third variant cover for the first issue.  Each issue features additional story content and will feature new, removable Clue game cards on the back cover, based on the comic art in the series.

Here’s a preview of the first issue of Clue: Candlestick, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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