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Tag Archive: Robert Kirkman


Review by C.J. Bunce

An overlooked 2018 sci-fi adventure mini-series is making its way to a trade collected edition tomorrow.  The six-issue story arc in Image Comics/Skybound’s Stellar is a mix of good sci-fi concepts and action-adventure imagery.  You’ll find big-eyed aliens similar in design to the villainous hunter Zando-Zans of The Last Starfighter, a rundown future world bent on destruction like in Firefly, fast-paced action and characters like that of Syfy’s Killjoys, and a lead heroine called Stellar who is stuck out of time, with a past and future hidden from her, evoking recent years’ Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel stories.

Writer Joseph Keatinge (PopGun, Shutter) takes on a surprisingly complex idea created by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Marc Silvestri (Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine) and delivers the kind of story that belongs in the graphic novel format.  Stellar moves from place to place, from time to time.  She pursues the evil Zenith, an alien monster she believes to be the cause of destruction in her future.  Or is he pursuing her?  She’s moving through time, encountering those who may be able to help her unravel the twisted time loop she seems to be stuck inside.

The pretty, futuristic stylings and color choices by artist Bret Blevins result in a standout read visually.  And Keatinge pulls elements in from all kinds of sci-fi stories to create uncertainty and doubt.  Readers will ask “what’s going on here?” more than once, with an ending that is both satisfying and interesting.  It’s not the kind of tale that needs a sequel, the complete story is right there.

Here are some preview pages of Stellar, courtesy of Image/Skyborne:

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Heroes is the subject and title of a new gallery show featuring artwork of nationally-recognized artist Ande Parks.  Parks, a professional comic book inker and artist, as well as a comic book writer and novelist, created ink drawings and watercolor works for the exhibit, which showcases some of his own personal heroes, both real and imaginary.  Celebrated for three decades as an inker of superheroes for all the major comic book publishers–he was nominated for the prestigious Harvey Award for his work–Parks has established his own grand, heroic style.  An artist reception for the show is tonight at 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Lumberyard Arts Center in Baldwin City, Kansas.

Expect to see from the imaginary side works featuring Green Arrow (Parks created a groundbreaking run of the famous longbow hunter series with actor/director/writer Kevin Smith and artist Phil Hester beginning with the story Quiver), Uncle Slam (an “out-of-touch patriotic superhero” who, along with sidekick Fire Dog, were both created by Parks in the pages of Action Planet Comics), and Batgirl (Parks and Hester worked with writer Devin Grayson on bat-family tales in the Nightwing series).  Works from Parks’ real life heroes will include icons like Truman Capote (Parks wrote the graphic novel Capote in Kansas, chronicling Capote’s days in Kansas writing In Cold Blood).

We’re speculating the show may (or may not) include characters Parks is also known for, like El Diablo (Parks worked on the origin of the character in The Haunted Horseman with Hester and writer Jai Nitz), Ant-Man (Parks and Hester created a zany series featuring the irredeemable superhero a decade ago with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman), and Kato, Lone Ranger and Zorro (Parks has written comic book series featuring all these classic characters), and maybe even J. Edgar Hoover?  (Parks wrote the historical graphic novel Union Station with artist Eduardo Barreto, featuring a massacre in Kansas City that influenced the FBI director).

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On February 1, 1992, comic book creators Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino came together to form a new comic book company.  The founders emphasized creator-owned comics throughout the years and today Image Comics is celebrating the 25th milestone anniversary with its “Image Day.”

At comic book stores across the country you’ll find Image Comics promotions, giveaways, creator signings, social media events, and more.  One of those is in the Kansas City metro at Elite Comics in Overland Park, KS, where everyone is invited to help celebrate with big sales, The Walking Dead Fundraiser for “KC Zombie Walk for Hunger,” Wednesday’s new comic books, and a special appearance by Image Comics creators Steven Sanders and Megan Levens who will in the store from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.  And there’s cake.

You won’t want to miss out on all the festivities, including a new 25¢ issue of The Walking Dead.  Here is a list of 25¢ comics coming your way from Image this month, all from Robert Kirkman, and the U.S. and international events scheduled for today:

25-cent-c    25-cent-b    25-cent-a

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One-shot comic books—those issues that carry a complete story in typically about 24-30 pages, usually to fill a gap in a publishers current showcase of stories, remind readers of characters of the past, or even introduce a work in its own right with no intention of continuing on in a series—don’t often result in much that is memorable.  A book like Batman: The Killing Joke is an example of the best kind, and the recent Green Arrow Incorporated is an example of one that doesn’t stick with you very long after reading.

But the new series Avengers Origins has started off right with its volume of expected one-shot issues of more obscure Marvel Comics superheroes, beginning last week with Ant-Man & the Wasp.  Like all one-shots, the story must be told quickly and here writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has double-duty with two characters, albeit with an intertwined story.  He is pretty successful with Ant-Man and lesser so with the Wasp.  But the big takeaway from this issue is the almost dream-state painting style of French artist Stephanie Hans.  Her animal and insect work evokes David Petersen’s Mouse Guard work, and her depiction of Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, is both realistic and unreal.  In fact it is her creature drawings and work on Janet that counterbalances the lack of story and character development that Aguirre-Sacasa brings to Janet.

The story encompasses the back story of Dr. Henry Pym, seeking a grant to fund research into shrinking technologies after his wife is murdered, accidentally crosses paths with Janet Van Dyne, daughter of another scientist seeking grant money.  Henry is stodgy and over-focused on his work, Janet is free-spirited.  Their relationship slowly grows and doesn’t actually come together until literally the last panel. What is missing is chemistry…why she falls for him so quickly.  But all this is forgivable for the brief page count, as the rest of the story is packed with action and interesting curiosities.

Pym’s story is straight out of the classic film The Incredible Shrinking Man, although Pym takes a surprising turn at immediately taking toward liking the insects he is confronted with, experiencing no fear of horse-sized ants, and instead bonding with them and working on problems together.  That cornerstone of his character is nicely revealed.

Van Dyne’s story becomes a hurried vengeance origin that forces the reader to remember the Stan Lee school of obtaining superpowers: Sometimes you just have to accept gamma rays for what they are, a quick mechanism to move you along to focus more on character and relationships.  The how of becoming the Wasp is revealed so fast that you don’t really have time to scratch your head and question it.

Ultimately Aguirre-Sacasa and Hans come together to create a really good looking book, and the cover Marko Djurdjevic is a real eye-grabber.

If your only exposure to Ant-Man is the Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Phil Hester (Bionic Man, Green Arrow) and Ande Parks (Union Station, Green ArrowThe Irredeemable Ant-Man short-lived series, this issue is a good flashback to the original Ant-Man story, before the off-the-wall Eric O’Grady sneaked into Dr. Pym’s lab and got his own ant suit.  If you haven’t read The Irredeemable Ant-Man, then there’s no time like the present to check out that funny series, also known for its great covers, showing the little hero actually was present in a previously released, character-packed, Frank Cho cover.  And if you’re missing the other famous little superhero, the Ray Parker Atom character from DC Comics—who inexplicably doesn’t have his own series in the New 52—maybe someone at DC will get some inspiration from Hans’s drawings of a tiny guy in a big world to resurrect that character.