Comic books and graphic novels


Twitter Suspends Marketing Account for Marvel Punisher Writer Mike Baron

Private American Cancelled by Twitter

Veteran comic book writer Mike Baron (Nexus, Punisher, The Flash) is no stranger to pushback when it comes to his creator-owned comics. His earlier graphic novel, Thin Blue Line, which followed police officers navigating a violent protest in their city, had ads on Facebook cancelled, and any mention of the book on Reddit's comic book forums summarily deleted.


Who are the Most Beloved X-Men Characters?

X-Men by John Byrne

image: John Byrne

The X-Men are one of Stan Lee’s and Jack Kirby’s most popular creations. Created as a metaphor for the civil rights movement of the 60s, a lot of the greatest X-Men stories deal with discrimination, racism, xenophobia, and fear of the other.

With a history spanning over 60 years, and an ever-changing team roster, the X-Men have produced some of Marvel Comics’ most popular and fan-favorite characters. In this article, we are going to take a look at just a few of the most popular X-Men ever to grace the pages of Marvel Comics.


Remy LeBeau, aka Gambit, is a charming, gambling, wandering mutant, with the ability to manipulate kinetic energy. The way he most often utilizes this ability is by charging playing cards with kinetic energy, and throwing them as powerful explosives.


Mike Baron Spins New Vigilante Out of Thin Blue Line: Private American

Private American

Marvel Comics has emasculated their fan-favorite vigilante, taking away the Punisher’s guns and replacing his skull emblem to make him kinder and gentler for modern readers, but fans of writer Mike Baron’s acclaimed five year run on the street-level sentinel can revisit his no-nonsense, gritty take on vigilante justice with Baron’s newest hero, partially inspired by Gerry Conway’s creation.

Mike Baron’s upcoming graphic novel is Private American and it marks a return to form for the Eisner winning writer of brooding, complex, and often violent protagonists. Hot on the heels of his hilarious Florida Man comics (American Mythology), Private American is a Cuban American living on the US southern border, whose frustration with the migrant crisis turns to retributive violence when its consequences touch his family circle.


Why Adam West is Secretly Everyone's Favorite Batman

Adam West Batman

In 1939, the world was forever changed by the creation of the caped crusader. Batman debuted in the 27th issue of the comic book Detective Comics and soon evolved into the vigilante with a stringent moral code as well as a sense of justice.

The name Batman truly became a household name in 1966 with the creation of the live-action television series starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. This series managed to bridge the gap between teenage and adult fans as the show gave something to everyone.

Despite only having three seasons and a few spin-off movies, Adam West’s portrayal of Batman is still beloved today with many people still claiming that he is their favourite Batman. Ultimately, this begs the question of why this campy version of Batman favoured over the darker portrayals.


Edison Crane Meets His Moriarty in Prodigy: The Icarus Society

Prodigy Icarus Society 1

Mark Millar is the living object lesson about throwing things against the wall and seeing what ultimately sticks. The differentiating factor here is that Millar seems to have an inexhaustible supply of ammunition and a target wall with uncanny adhesive properties.

Prodigy: The Icarus Society sees the return of Edison Crane, a man who processes information at an almost quantum level. The information flooding his brain would concievably drive someone insane, but no doubt Crane takes weekly therapy appointments with one of his subconscious selves to ensure he works out any and all psychological issues. Because he needs constant stimulation, the billionaire inventor, daredevil, and mystery solver routinely seeks out challenges to overcome -- and sets them up for himself if the world won't oblige.


The Radiant Sight a Modern Cinderella Korean Drama

The Radiant Sight #1

Mild-tempered Kim Bit-na is used to being overlooked. But her destiny is about to change in this modern Cinderella story from Martin Fisher, inspired by romantic Korean dramas.

Bit-na is a young girl who lives in the slums with her roommate, the strong and confident Chloe. Both struggle to make ends meet and pay the rent.

Their life is a stark contrast when compared to that of Thomas Gould, the young director of the Gould Foundation, who lives a life of modern royalty. When Thomas's parents decide to throw a formal party to celebrate his recent financial successes, he sees it for the trap that it is: a scheme for him to meet eligible women and settle down.


The Rabbit's Out of the Hat! Pocus Hocus Exposed in Issue 3

Pocus Hocus 3

Pocus Hocus made a deal with a demon: his soul in exchange for unlimited magical powers. But now his stage assistant, Emily, has uncovered his secret, as well as just what she's been assisting with!

In this world created by Allen Dunford and Will Radford, souls are currency for demons -- and demons use that currency to gamble. When the demon Pocus dealt with finds himself in debt to other demons, he strongarms Pocus into adding a new trick to his act, one in which he would deceive volunteers from the audience into signing over their souls. When Emily finds this out, she confronts Pocus -- and that brings us up to Pocus Hocus #3, the issue currently at hand.

At Emily's insistence, the two take a trip into Hell to win back the innocent souls she unwittingly helped send there. Naturally, upon arrival, the first thing they do is feed a cat -- and that gets the ball rolling toward wanton death and destruction!


Humor and Adventure Partner in Kesel and Hahn's Impossible Team-Up 2B

Impossible Team-Up 2B

Springing out of the Impossible Jones / Holly Daze collaboration that was the crux of Impossible Team-Up A comes the next chapter in the life of our favorite not-quite-a-superhero. Impossible Jones is still trying to figure out what happened to her to give her her amazing set of super abilities. But that's secondary to balancing the very tricky predicament of her life since she gained her powers -- being mistaken for a superhero when she is actually a thief!


Millar Gives Wizarding World a Kick-Ass Treatment with The Magic Order Volume 2

Magic Order Volume 2

The Magic Order protects the world from, not so much the things that go bump in the night, but the things that bump into the night and send it shrieking away in terror leaving a town or two full of dessicated bodies in its wake. It's as though writer Mark Millar does to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter what he did to the genre of superheroes: given it a "kick ass" boost.

Ever since Cordelia Moonstone became the head of The Order at the conclusion of the previous volume, things have been getting more hectic, possibly due to the way Cordelia rose to power. And Cordelia's leadership is about to be tested like never before.


Have Insurance? No Batman for You!

Batman: The Fortress 1

For over 80 years, Gotham City has been protected by The Batman, a crimefighter unique among a pantheon of superheroes because he's a human being. For decades he has patrolled his city stopping criminals large and small alike.

But that changes in the latest DC Comics release of Batman: Fortress. While the Earth is in chaos from an invasion, with Earth's greatest champion missing, Batman finds himself overwhelmed in his mission to defend the citizens of Gotham -- and save the world.


Marvel & DC Comics Writer Gives Proceeds from Comic to Help Police, Families

Thin Blue Line B

Thrilled By Outpouring of Police Support, Eisner Winner Mike Baron Donates Thousands to Law Enforcement Programs and Charities before National Police Week 

After quickly raising the needed funds to self-publish his latest comic 'Thin Blue Line,' a police-focused graphic novel coming out next month, Eisner-winning writer Mike Baron and his creative team wanted to give back to law enforcement and remind his readers about this week's National Police Week. 

Among comic book readers, Mike Baron is best known for writing The Flash, Nexus, Star Wars, and The Punisher for Marvel Comics, but this graphic novel is one of the only comics he's written that will not be available at comic shops, chiefly because every publisher Baron submitted it to responded that making street cops the heroes did not align with their business model. 


The Lucent a Bright Spot on the Indie Comics Scene

The Lucent, Michael Bancroft

The Lucent, written and drawn by Michael Bancroft, takes readers on a compelling journey not just into the life of the main character, Ella Forsythe, but also the invisible world around her. It's our world, and yet it's occupied by the otherworldly.

When we first meet Ella, she's a mere six-years-old. A fearsome hunter, seemingly human but perhaps much more, pursues her, but settles for her father when the girl is mystically hidden.


Pitt Returns: Creator Dale Keown Announces Phillip Diaz as New Series Writer

Pitt Returns

When the Image Revolution of the 90s took place, it spawned (pun fully intended) a plethora of titles, many of which were flashes in the pan or team books that were indistinguishable from each other, only to note they all vaguely looked like Marvel's X-Men. But there were a handful of standout characters that made a greater impact with readers and the entertainment industry: Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon, Sam Keith's The Maxx, and Dale Keown's Pitt. Pitt saw a 20 issue run which ended on a cliffhanger and right as all the series' foreshadowing seemed to be coming to a payoff.

When Keown came back to the independent comics scene, he joined up with Ethan Van Sciver's All Caps Comics to distribute a new run of the popular comic. But details of how that would happen were still kept under wraps.


Dark Wonderland: Alice Ever After from Boom! Studios

Alice Ever After #1

In the arena of all things Alice, I consider myself something of, if not an expert (although I've had published one researched book in that subgenre), then at least an experienced connoisseur. And I can be quite judgmental as to whether things strike the right chords for me, or if they miss the mark entirely. I have a number of printings of the books, Dodgson's own published letters, and a selection of interesting spinoffs such as Jeff Noon's Automated Alice and Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars; and I will forever hold fond E. Nelson Bridwell's comic miniseries Captain Carrot and The Oz-Wonderland War.

So when I saw pictures from Boom! Studios' Alice Ever After, I was intrigued. Enough so that it sent me to my local comics shop for the first time in a number of months just because of this book.

The book has been found, held, and read. So now comes the judgment.


Pow! Best Comics Artist of 2021 Scores with Perfect 10

Pow Rodrix Best Comics Artist 2021

Critical Blast wraps up it's Best of 2021 awards announcements with the Best Comics Artist of 2021. (But we're not completely done -- we still have our Bombshell of the Year to announce later!)

Among the notable nominees this year, David Hahn brought in 4.35% of the vote for his work on Impossible 2 with Karl Kesel. Marco Maccagni stepped up with 7.25% of the vote for Monster M.D. while Clint Hilinski took 8.70% percent with Pirate Queen, and Tim Lim garnered 11.59% for Kamen America.

Which brings us to the top three artists among this year's awards. In third place, we have Brian Balondo with 14.49% of the tally for his work on Bad Bug Media's Pocus Hocus. Just ahead of him, it's Alexia Veldhuisen in second place with 18.84% of the vote for her work on anthropomorphic samurai squirrel epic, 47 Furious Tails.


Entrepreneurs Dominate Best Comics Writer Category, Led by Perfect 10's Dave Brink

Perfect 10's Dave Brink

The 21st century indie comics renaissance has introduced readers to a plethora of writers and artists that, were it not for the self-publishing opportunities afforded by the technologies of digital printing and online crowdfunding, might have otherwise gone unnoticed. The response to this year's Best Comics Writer poll -- and indeed all the comic book related categories this year -- speaks to a hunger in the market for new material by fresh voices.

Tonic Mole, with his Ghostworld-like comic, Saving the World, is the first to break onto the chart with 4.35% of all ballots cast. Ahead of him is comics veteran Karl Kesel, for his work on Impossible 2, the team-up book between his characters Impossible Jones and Holly Daze.

Monster M.D.'s Von Klaus tied with Pirate Queen's Mandy Summers, with each garnering 8.70% of all votes cast.


Crowdfunders Squeeze Out Mainstream Comics in Best of 2021 Competition

Perfect 10

The nominees for Best Comic of 2021 was a lengthy list, and picking through it to pick the best of the best was a lot like being asked to name your favorite child. But in the end, there were winners and losers and, for the first time in the history of Critical Blast, DC Comics had no position in the rankings.

Indeed, Marvel Comics only had one title bubble toward the top with King in Black, which tied with the Dave Sim crowdfunded hardcover, The Strange Death of Alex Raymond at 5.41% of all votes cast. From that point forward, the indie comics led the charge, with How to Die and Monster M.D. taking 6.76% each. 

The much acclaimed fan-favorite, Kamen America from Iconic Comics, took third place in the polls with a respectable 10.81% of the ballot, while there was a tie for second between 47 Furious Tales from Sinopa and Pocus Hocus from Bad Bug Media, each having a strong 17.57% of the vote.


Facebook Throttles, Reddit Censors References to Mike Baron Comic "Thin Blue Line"

Thin Blue Line Censored

The advent of crowdfunded comics has opened a door that had been closed to so many for so long. Now, if you wanted to make a comic, you had an opportunity -- a real opportunity -- especially if you had the talent to prove to a prospective audience that you deserved the shot.

But having a crowdfunding campaign, either on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, isn't the end of the matter. You have to market the thing so that your prospective audience knows the project exists. This is an arena where the creator runs the risk of having yet another door slammed in the face.


Marvel's 'The Punisher' Writer Giving Proceeds from New Comic to Help Police & Their Families

Thin Blue Line

Delighted By Outpouring of Police Support, Eisner Winner Mike Baron Launches Second Campaign on Kickstarter

After quickly raising more funding than needed to self-publish his police-focused graphic novel Thin Blue Line, Eisner-winning writer Mike Baron and his creative team are moving the project to Kickstarter today to give others a chance to become a backer and get involved in supporting law enforcement in the US.

Among comic book readers, Mike Baron is best known for writing Star Wars, The Flash, Nexus, and The Punisher for Marvel Comics, but this graphic novel may turn out to be one of the only comics he's ever written to not be available at comic book shops, primarily because every publisher Mike reached out to said that making street cops the hero didn't align with their business model.


Vote for the Best of 2021

Best of 2021

It's a brand new year, and no doubt there nothing anyone wants to do less than to look back at 2021, the year that looked at 2020 and said, "Hold my beer."

But in terms of entertainment options, 2021 had a better turnout than its predecessor, due in part to the reopening of movie theaters (although a good number of great stories were told through streaming services as well). Likewise, there was many good things in broadcast and streaming series to capture the attention, and a swell of wonderful stories in the comic book industry, largely bolstered by a rise in indepently produced products.

So we urge you to take a deep breath for one more last look at the year, and select the best among the nominees below to determine which ones deserve a Critical Blast Best of 2021 trophy.

This voting also includes the voting or our annual Bombshell of the Year, selecting among the twelve cosplayers who were each spotlighted in our monthly Bombshell of the Month feature.


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