Comics

Comic books and graphic novels

Fri
28
Feb

Drawn to Success: Best Comics Artist of 2019 is Ivan Reis

Ivan Reis Superman Best Comics Artist 2019

In the five years of running the Critical Blast Best Awards, we've never sweated bullets as much as we have over this year's Best Comics Artist category. Every day we peeked in on the results, the top spot would belong to someone different, and the margins were nearly microscopic! And while there was a minor skirmish going on at the lower end of the poll between independent crowdfunding publishers Doug TenNapel and Ethan Van Sciver (who won this award for 2017), the real battle was taking place between Gary Frank (DOOMSDAY CLOCK), J. Scott Campbell (BLACK CAT) and Ivan Reis (SUPERMAN).

Thu
27
Feb

2019's Best Comics Writer: Scott Snyder

Scott Snyder Justice League Best Writer 2019

Looking back over 2019, there were a number of high-profile comic arcs that caught the attention of the fans. Some of those were the annual event or non-canonical runs, like Tom Taylor's DCEASED, which brought a zombie apocalypse to the DC Universe. Geoff Johns' sequel to WATCHMEN, DOOMSDAY CLOCK crossed universes to tell it's tale, while Jonathan Hickman received critical acclaim for his remastering of Marvel's mighty mutants in HOUSE OF X. 

But there were also notable runs this past year in your ongoing series that focused our eyes on the people crafting the latest twists and turns in the lives of our favorite characters. Brian Michael Bendis stunned us by having Superman reveal his identity publicly to the world, while Donny Cates and Kelly Thompson enjoyed the increased readership on their titles, VENOM and CAPTAIN MARVEL thanks to the appearance of their characters in theatrical films.

Tue
25
Feb

Ben McKenzie Takes Best Actor in Broadcast Series in 2019 Readers' Poll

Ben McKenzie Best Series Actor 2019

It used to be that we voted on the best actor of a television series. But ever since the advent of streaming services, we've struggled for what to call the collective shows that are available many different ways. Sometimes we still catch ourselves saying "Best Actor in a TV Series" even if the show, technically, didn't get shown on a traditional television broadcast.

The past year was a surfeit of choices for pop culture fans, especially if you wanted some live action superhero drama. And while some of the streaming shows got a nod, it was still the tradional broadcast media that led the pack this year, with RIVERDALE's Cole Sprouse taking 16 percent of the votes, just trailing Jean Smart for her portrayal of Agent Laurie Blake in HBO's WATCHMEN.

Sat
22
Feb

Ten Potential Suggestions to Replace Dan DiDio at DC Comics

Dan DiDio out as Publisher at DC Comics

There's a power vacuum at the hallowed halls of DC Comics, home to supehero icons such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. On Friday, February 21, a late-day announcement was made that Dan DiDio was no longer the co-publisher of the stable of titles.

Speculation immediately spread throughout the fandom, wondering what this might mean for DC Comics. What was the reason for the sudden departure? Would a replacement be named? What impact would this have on DiDio's pet project, the heavily touted "5G" or "Generation 5" launch coming later in the year?

While those are questions for which we await answers with bated breath, we thought it would be a fun little exercise to look at some of the candidates in the industry that might find themselves suddenly getting a call to interview for the open position.

Fri
21
Feb

Tom Taylor's DCeased Franchise is Unkillable, Launches Sequel

DCeased Unkillables 1

Tom Taylor's DCU Zombieverse marches -- or perhaps, I should say -- shambles on with this new chapter set in the strange new world of the zombie apocalypse...with superheroes!

After Darkseid released a corrupted anti-life equation (which killed him and all of Apokolips), Cyborg became the seed for infecting the rest of the Earth when it broadcast from him to every digital device on the planet. If you looked at a screen, you saw the equation. If you saw the equation, you became a zombie...who could, of course, make other zombies by scratching, biting or otherwise enountering another human being. Or Themysciran. Or Kryptonian.

Fri
21
Feb

Whose (Punch) Line Is It, Anyway?

Punchline, Punchline, Punchline and Punchline

DC Comics' newest character sparks conversation over character usage and marks.

BATMAN #89 was an instant -- and unexpected -- sellout this week when DC introduced a partial profile cameo of a new character, Punchline. Meant to be a female partner/paramour for The Joker, one once wouldn't have expected much from such a character. Except the last time the role was filled, it went to Harley Quinn, whose first comic book appearance can net over $600, and whose media presence has skyrocketed even further after appearances in mainstream films like SUICIDE SQUAD and BIRDS OF PREY.

So it's natural for speculators to hit the streets to pick up what they are assured is the first appearance of Punchline.

But what if they're wrong?

What if I told you the first appearance of Sabertooth wasn't IRON FIST #14, but... THE FLASH #291?

What if I told you the first apperance of Doomsday wasn't MAN OF STEEL #17, but... SILVER SURFER #13?

Tue
18
Feb

Lobdell, Northcott Swing for the Fences with Everglade Angels GN

Everglade Angels

The titular EVERGLADE ANGELS are a girls' baseball team whose trip to the championships leads them into the arms of masked killers deep in the Florida swamps.

It's 1997, and the Everglade Angels have clinched their trip to the playoffs, due in no small part to the outstanding performance of Gemma Walsh, daughter of team coach Abigail Walsh. Gemma's definitely the alpha among the team players, the main ones being Naomi, Lacey, Grace and Portia. The five girls decide to drive themselves to the championship game, and this is where their adventure takes a wrong turn -- literally.

Finding themselves lost in a small town, the girls get diverted to a party -- except there's no party there. Instead, there are masked men with weapons, and a strange chemical. They abduct Gemma, as the rest run off for their lives, only to return later to attempt a rescue.

Sat
08
Feb

With Shades of Hush, is Batman's Latest Epic Planned Too Precisely?

Batman 88 2020

Bruce Wayne's plans for the revitalization of Gotham City get put on hold when five of the deadliest contract killers show up -- among them Cheshire and Deathstroke. (Sorry, Merlyn and the other two forgettables wouldn't have made y radar as the top five DC mercenaries.) Batman quickly captures them and has them put into the "Black Box" at Gotham PD -- a special holding cell designed by Batman and paid for by Bruce Wayne (really, the detectives at GCPD must have gotten their badges in a Cracker Jack box). Yes, Batman now has a "Pipeline" similar to that in THE FLASH, and it's super duper secure, even if Batman does have his own secret built-in entrance to it.

Tue
04
Feb

Comicsgate Scores Expendables IP

Expendables Go To Hell

Sylvester Stallone has confirmed via his Twitter account that the greenlight has officially been given for a comic book extension of THE EXPENDABLES, the action franchise that specializes in reuniting actors from classic action films into the ultimate action team-up adventure.

That, in and of itself, is big news.

What is perhaps bigger news is the venue selected for the venture: an Indiegogo campaign, managed by start-up publisher Richard C. Meyer. If you don't know the name, you probably haven't been following the comics industry online for the past few years. Meyer is one of the most recognizable names in the loose-knit and frequently highly contentious confederation of independent creators collectively known as Comicsgate, an entity that has been attacked from without almost as much as it has from within.

Sat
01
Feb

After Vertigo, Good Horror Returns to DC with The Dollhouse Family

THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is the first Black Label title from DC I've seen that wasn't in a prestige format size. This makes me happy for more than one reason, but mostly because i don't always have to pay the price point necessary for the oversized prestige formatted books.

This comic is also what Andy Khouri should have been courting to the Vertigo line before it became a corpse so decayed it can't even be used for good fertilizer. Or perhaps Chris Conroy should have been given the editor's position earlier. But, it's fruitless to become lachrymose over upturned dairy, so let's take a forward-looking approach, because THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is a positive step forward for DC mature horror.

Fri
24
Jan

Villain vs Villain as Tynion Raises Hell at DC Comics

Hell Arisen 2

The fallout from METAL continues as the evolutionarily perfected Lex Luthor serves as a John the Baptist for the goddess Perpetua, paving the way for her conquest of everything. Only one person stands in his path -- The Batman Who Laughs, the evil Joker-fied Batman from the Dark Multiverse. TBWL has spread the dark infection to six heroes, five of whom attack Luthor at his safehouse -- which turns out to be one of his employee's apartments he long ago modified without her knowledge.

Lex is not only outnumbered, but he's up against the powers of Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), King Shazam (Shazam), Deathbringer (Donna Troy), Sky Tyrant (Hawkman), and Scarab (Blue Beetle). Anyone else would give up, but Luthor -- who was already the smartest man alive before his augmentation -- has already defeated all five of them while they were posturing. It's all over except for the actual doing of it, which proves to be simplicity itself.

Tue
14
Jan

What's in Bettie Page's Head? Giant Alien Wasps Want to Know.

Bettie Page Unbound 9

Bettie Page has seen her share of aliens, both from this dimension and from others.

Now she finds herself up against the Praesepods -- a race of giant wasps looking to take over the Earth (not to be confused with the Vyzpzz, a race of giant wasps looking to take over the Earth in another book). One has taken over the identity of her friend, Agent McKnight, and another has taken on the form of Bettie herself.

Thu
09
Jan

The Best Fight in Comics is in Batman #86 -- And It's All Off-Panel!

Batman 86 2020

It feels like it's been forever in the offing, but BATMAN #86 is a breath of fresh air after the prolonged storyline that bogged down the title for the past few years.

With his longtime confidante and manservant, Alfred Pennyworth, having been laid to rest, Bruce Wayne decides to take on a new mission to honor his friend, a mission presented to him on many past occasions and always turned down: a Gotham that didn't need Batman. To that end, Bruce has dusted of his plans for a revamp of the city and fast-tracked them through all the zoning commissions. With construction already underway, however, there are forces out there that want to see their own plans for Gotham come to light.

Tue
07
Jan

Action Comics 1018 Hits Bottom and Starts Digging

Action Comics 1018

It's been a while since I've poked my head inside the Superman universe of books, and with the news surrounding the impending release of Superman's self-reveal, I thought it might be a good idea to check in on the latest installment of the Man of Steel, by way of ACTION COMICS 1018.

To say the issue was a disappointment is to do a disservice to language.

Let's start with the cover. Advertising a guest appearance by the Justice League pretty much means that, in the background, you see their bodies strewn about as they have been clobbered. But that cover blurb is perhaps the best drawn part of the book's frontispiece. The rest of it is a sketchy mess, featuring Superman front and center and some hastily doodled Justice League members in the background -- plus what looks to be a frozen or electrocuted Starman in the lower left.

That should have been my first warning to back away, slowly, and put my wallet back in my pocket.

Sun
05
Jan

Soule and Saiz Give Fans a New Hope with Marvel's Star Wars #1 Comic

Marvel Comics Star Wars #1 2020

Over the last few years, the foundation of STAR WARS fandom has been a little shaky. We've seen one writer ignominiously ousted from the extended universe, several directors fired from the sequels and ancillary films, and controversy among the fandom over the way the final trilogy was handled from start to finish. Basically, if you're handed the reigns to do something with STAR WARS these days, you stand a good chance of slitting your own throat.

Thu
02
Jan

Voting Open for Best of 2019 Awards

Nominations for Best of 2019

Holy cow, is it 2020 already? 2019 seems to have gone by in a blur, with so much happening in the world of movies, television, and comics. It's hard to believe we've reached the point where we now have the unenviable task of deciding which was the best in every category to recognize the producers of entertainment for their efforts.

So below you will find the voting form, featuring our nominations for the best film, film actor, television series (which includes streaming until we come up with a word to replace television), series actor, comic book storyline, comics writer, comics artist, and -- last but certainly not least -- the selection of our Critical Blast Bombshell of the Year from the list of 2019's Bombshell of the Month candidates.

Mon
09
Dec

Turtles All The Way Down: TMNT's Centennial Issue Changes Everything!

TMNT 100

Many years ago, when the Earth's crust was just beginning to cool (also known as the 1980s), the ground sprang forth with the direct market. Shops that specialized only in comic books began to appear, and with them, access to titles that you simply wouldn't find in the spinner rack at your local 7-11 or discount store. Among those titles was an unassuming black and white title created by a couple of kids with access to a printer. Done as a lark--a spoof on Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL and RONIN runs--probably nobody was as surprised by its success as were its creators: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

Mon
25
Nov

It's a Duel Identity Crossover in Absolute's White Widow #3

Gabby Garcia's problems have only multiplied since her father showed up and injected her with nanites right before being killed. Now the platinum blonde science student and volleyball athlete finds that she can manifest an exoskeletal armor that can alter its appearance at will.The result is, visually, Silver Sable with a symbiote, but the story bears no such similarities.

This chapter finds Gabby trying to find out more about The Group, the agency she believes killed her father, and discovering she has more untapped abilities. But when her solo investigations run into a dead end, her friend Regina talks her into approaching the city's resident superhero, Andromeda, for help. As luck would have it, Andromeda will be appearing at a masquerade ball, to which Gabby had previously found an invitation.

Sun
24
Nov

Nora Fries Finally Free, and Ready to Be a Villain

Detective 1015 Mr and Mrs Freeze Year of the Villain

Of all the DC Universe events to actually start crossing over into the regular titles, it had to be the unfollowably tendrilous merger of DARK NIGHTS: METAL and whatever it is going on in Justice League that involving Lex Luthor becoming "Apex Lex," both of which converge to cause the "Year of the Villain" theme.

In Detective Comics #1015, we find that Victor Fries -- aka Mr. Freeze -- has found a cure for his wife, Nora, freeing her from the cryogenic tube where she's been held in stasis for who knows how long. With her fate no longer a driving force, Mr. Freeze no longer has a reason to be a criminal. And yet, he's training his wife on how to pull heists using his cold weapons. Also, she's just as blue-skinned as he is now, so we can safely assume she is Mrs. Freeze.

Wed
16
Oct

John Carpenter's Spotlight on Mental Illness Brings Jarring Insight to Joker

Joker Year of the Villain

John Carpenter is a master of horror. Getting his name on the marquee of a DC Comic book about the brand's most notorious mass murderer and psychopath should have been headline news. Maybe it was and I just read the wrong headlines.

Regardless, it was enough of an impetus to bring me temporarily out of my comic book malaise to purchase this issue, despite the cover art -- which isn't bad, but which depicts the Joker as wearing bad makeup rather than physically looking the way he does. Red Hood? Ace Chemicals? Vat of acid? Any of that ringing any bells, Philip Tan?

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