Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best of 2015, Part VI



"At the beginning of 2015, Marvel Comics relaunched Star Wars as a monthly series and I was finally able to come home to my own roots in comic book reading. I was 11 years old when I picked up my first monthly title: the original Star Wars series from Marvel (issues 73!). The stories were filled with what we would now call fan fiction because those stories were never coordinated with the movies and lacked creative input from Lucasfilm. But I will always have a special place in my heart for those comics. They are still some of the most inspired comics I have ever read.

Coming back to January 2015, Disney is at the helm of the movie franchise and Marvel Comics (another recent Disney acquisition) is tasked with creating a new line of Star Wars comics. Marvel made an obvious and incredibly wise decision: they made the original trilogy characters the heroes of the book! Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca are back… and in their prime! Their story picks up shortly after the Battle of Yavin and chronicles the events leading up to the Rebel’s new base on Hoth. Star Wars the comic delivers on every level, from Luke’s earliest days learning the ways of the Force, he manages to take on Darth Vader in one issue and Boba Fett in another; and then there’s Han Solo piloting an AT-AT walker on a daring escape from the rebels latest strike on an Imperial stronghold! And did Han Solo just say he was married?! He did! You have to read it to believe it! Jason Aaron captures the characters perfectly, there is a love for these characters that comes through in each scene and considerations are given to each character’s place in the galaxy. John Cassaday originally led the charge in illustrating the book and Stuart Immonen picked up the reigns around issue 7, this book is never lacking in visual talent.

Marvel didn’t stop there as other Star Wars books also spawned including: the Darth Vader ongoing series, as well as (so far) three 5-issue miniseries: Princess Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca. In truth, I was originally going to name the Lando mini-series as my favorite, but I knew I would be ignoring the “Bantha in the room” if I didn’t mention the greatness of the flagship title first.

The Lando miniseries was simply excellent, and everything you expect from Star Wars and especially Lando Calrissian. With charm and intrigue, Lando is a self-made man who uses his wits to better most opponents, but isn’t shy about using a blaster when words fail. And when Lando and company discover dark secrets of the Empire, secrets no one but the Emperor knows; Lando handles it all in stride. He is the ultimate cool. And kudos to the creative team for making Lobot the talkative and interesting character I knew he could be! Writer Charles Soule and artist Alex Maleev capture force lightning with this one and put it to the page.

The best part of this new era of Star Wars movies is that all the subsequent books, comic books, cartoon series, etcetera, now have a role in the galactic story of Star Wars: They fill in the gaps between the movies. With this new era, every story matters and everything is considered “canon”. And sometimes the stories that take place off screen are the ones to remember."

Scott "Duke" Hedlund, artist and co-host of Comic Book Pitt




"As a company, Image killed it this year with a lot of great original content and compelling series. However as a fan of the big two, and of classic superhero mythos, Image lacked something I was seeking in comics.

Enter Michel Fiffe’s COPRA.   COPRA is satisfying on every single level for me.  The writing is great and straight forward.  Fiffe pays homage to his favorite works in the Marvel and DC universes without being tied down by continuity or editorial demands.  COPRA gives me the stories I wish I could read with classic characters I love.  It also helps that I’m a huge fan of John Ostrander’s run on Suicide Squad, which COPRA feels like a love letter to.

The fact that Fiffe does every aspect of the book is something to be applauded as well.  Every page and panel is a work of art that I would hang on my wall. I get more excited for COPRA single issues and volumes than anything else being published. Seek out the first three volumes (Round 1, Round 2, Round 3) published by Bergen Street Press, or find/order it monthly, and thank Mr. Fiffe for making comics that are FUN."

Michael Witherel, owner, Coffee Buddha




"My best comic book of 2015, hands down, is Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour. Jason Aaron has this uncanny ability to write comics like Thor God of Thunder and Star Wars, with characters and adventures that make me feel like I'm 13 years old again. Then he writes a book like Southern Bastards, which pulls no punches in showing the awful, depraved, sadistic depths that men will sink to.

One might think, "Why read such a comic?" and I think the answer is I read Southern Bastards for the same reasons I watched shows like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and Mad Men. Despite the most of the characters in Southern Bastards having absolutely no redeeming value, being morally bankrupt, or just plain pathetic, Aaron's level of storytelling somehow manages to make us care about them even though we all know that there is no redemption waiting, that there is no happy ending to be had."

Dan Greenwald, co-host of Comic Book Pitt

Monday, December 28, 2015

Best of 2015, Part V


"My favorite book of 2015 is PREZ from DC Comics.  With its sharp, biting satire of pop culture deftly balanced with insightful, heartfelt drama and a healthy dose of political intrigue this book never fails to disappoint.  Hands down the best thing to come out of DC Comics in a good, long time."

Jared Catherine - co-host, Comic Book Pitt/creator, Incrediman




"When I sit back and think about it, 2015 was a hell of a year for comics. So, when Dan asked me to choose my favorite, I got taken aback, because it was gonna be rough. Do I go with Kyle Starks’ powerhouse Sexcastle, do I go with the final issue of Jeff Parker/Doc Shaner’s Flash Gordon, but then it dawned on me.

I’ve been following Chip Zdarsky and Kagan McLeod for a while now, or at least since they were studio mates in Toronto, during Chip’s weird and off putting run for mayor, Kagan putting out Infinite Kung Fu, Sex Criminals, Prison Funnies, the whole 9.

So when I found out about Kaptara, I was fully in. It’s basically the strangest, yet most interesting take on scifi comics I’ve seen in years. Basically imagine a regular guy, fresh off a breakup with his partner, getting rocketed to some absurd He-Man land, learning about a danger to earth and...not really caring about that danger at all. He’s more than happy to be where he is, which is nowhere near earth.

But I also mentioned that there was a He-Man aspect to this entire thing, and that’s where one of the best parts of the book kicks in. Kaptara came mainly from the sketchbook of random stories from Zdarsky, McLeod, Ben Shannon and Cameron Stewart’s shared studio, which focuses a lot on “who can make the funniest character imaginable”, which as a character design guy, is the best. There’s whole characters and races who are named and created after terrible puns, fleshed out and three dimensional and interacting with each other, which excites me to no end.

So, if you were a kid that loved mashin’ together He-Mans and wished there was a comic, somewhere, that took that concept to a place that was extremely self-aware, Kaptara is your deal."

Chris Brown - Animator



"My favorite comic of the year was The Multiversity. It was Morrison at his best, letting his.imagination go omniversal and the result was the most interesting and fun thing from him in years. Honorable mentions go to Ed Piskor 's genius Hip Hop Family Tree, Space Riders, Astro City and Squadron Sinister."

Jim Dietz - Host, Legion of Dudes podcast

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Best of 2015, Part IV


"My favorite comic of 2015 was Superman American Alien #1. I loved watching the young Kent family as they begin to guide young Superman into his powers and adolescence. My favorite part was learning the story of Jon and Martha Kent via the scrapbook style spread in the back. As a reader raising two young sons I found this comic true to life and super touching."

Aleasha Monroe, New Comic Book Day




"It's such an amazing year for comics. You're asking me to decide between Spider Gwen, Jem and the Holograms, Howard the Duck, and Squirrel Girl. It's not an easy thing to do. That being said, I'll have to go with Squirrel Girl. It's a solid series, and I've been a longtime (ok, shortly after I started reading comics in 2009) fan of the character. I never would have suspected she got her own page. The comic is smart, great for all ages, and goes the extra mile to make every page count. From the humorous footnotes on the bottom of each page to the fake twitter feed in the intro to the amazing lettter's page full of young kids finding a new favorite superhero to dress as for Halloween... it's the shining example of what a superhero comic should be, fun, entertaining, full of hope, and enjoyable for all ages, and I can't recommend it enough."

Brandon Link Copp-Millward




"My favorite comic was Chew.  I picked it up on a Humble Bundle and read the first volume over Christmas break, and continued through Omnibus 3.  A wonderfully odd alternative universe where the bird flu led to an epidemic and poultry prohibition.  The FDA is a powerful government enforcement agency and people have food-based super powers like the empathy from eating, writing so well someone can taste the food review, and a cyborg fighting chicken from hell.  So great, fun, and surprising the whole ride."

Michael Sorg, Sorgatron Media

Friday, December 18, 2015

Best of 2015, Part III

Bitch Planet, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine DeLandro (Image)

"Bitch Planet, hands down. Issue #3 is still my favorite,  but the comic reminds me of why Feminism is so great, all of the comradery with minimal hate, the essays in the back are also what rank it as my #1. I feel like Bitch Planet managed to bring a lot of readers together, and even sparked a tattoo trend before the second issue was even out."

Caitlyn Copp-Millward


Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

"2015 was a great year to be a comic book fan. Between The rise of Creator Owned, Marvel bringing their A game and even DC producing compelling content, the contenders of Years Best Comic are more plentiful than ever. But for me, the best comic of 2015 has to be Saga. It's funny and filthy and violent and emotional and, for a book about aliens it's remarkably human. It's wonderful AND it's drawn by Fiona Staples. That fact alone puts it in the top 10. It's like a very specific kind of magic and I can't wait to see where they go next."

Will Rutherford, Panel Riot podcast


Batman, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (DC Comics)

"My pick has to be Batman #40 by Snyder and Capullo. Sure, Batman has fought the Joker plenty of times, but never like this and never TO THE DEATH! Snyder's joker is brutally maniacal and doesn't hesistate to do things like... bury a hatchet in Jim Gordon's chest?! What!?! The big twist about the Joker in the issues leading up to this final battle was really great. No spoilers! You should pick it up for yourself. Capullo's run on Batman is a masterclass of visual storytelling. It's a must own, especially if you can score a first printing."

D.J. Coffman, The God Child

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Best of 2015, Part II

We Can Never Go Home #1 by Hood, Kindlon, and Rosenberg (Black Mask)
"We Can Never Go Home #1 from Black Mask, by Matthew Rosenberg & Patrick Kindlon. Art by Josh Hood.

This is a fun story of marketing working out beyond anyone’s dreams. Black Mask Studios started with a few books, the main one being 12 Ways to Die written by one of the members of the Wu Tang Clan. It was fine, but not my cup of tea. And it didn’t sell. They had a few other books that didn’t really do anything. I never gave them much thought. I would order a copy or 2 and hope to break even on them.

One day in the mail there’s a copy of We Can Never Go Home #1. Ok. That’s interesting. I threw it in my bag to take it home and read when I had a chance. Now the reason I say interesting is that most previews I get are PDFs. Which is fine. Cheap and easy, but that’s also how I look at it. Its not a ton of effort to mass email something. I am not a big fan of reading on the computer. I’m old school. I like a comic in my hand to be read on the sofa. It also depends on when I see the email (if I see it at all.) “Hey look at me. I’m some guy you never heard of. Read my book on your screen!” Meh. Maybe I will, more likely I’ll forget and move on. It’s not like I don’t have a million things to do and comics to read as it is.

But they sent me a physical copy. It ended up in my stack. Interesting cover. Ok. When it came up I dug in. Solid art (which is good for some of these things. Quite often the effort is there, but they need refining.) I’d never heard of Josh Hood, but he has caught my eye now. So I start reading. Two kids. A popular girl and a nebbish guy in high school. OK. I can relate to that. I keep going. Interesting characterizations. Interesting situation. Then an ending I didn’t see coming. And the feeling of ‘More please.” Which doesn’t happen often enough. Too often I’ll read a book and go, ok. I read that. I love the “What happens next! I want it now!” books. I don’t want to oversell the ending. It wasn’t a super mind blowing twist or anything. But it was a solid story with an ending that created the desire to see what happens to these two.

So I email the writer, Matthew Rosenberg. To say thanks for the advance copy and say that I am upping my order on it because I know I can hand sell this. As a thank you, I got a bunch of signed posters and stickers. Just a ton of effort from him.

But then something else happened. I sold out. And Diamond sold out. Hmmm. Always a problem. I can’t sell what I don’t have. And I didn’t up my order on #2 and I sold out of that. But wait. What’s this email? It’s from Black Mask saying its sold out from Diamond and they have copies left that they will send me for less than Diamond and free shipping. Well. That is often a problem. Sure I can order direct from a small publisher, but the shipping will often equal what I was saving off of the cover price making the whole thing kinda moot. But they were willing to go above and beyond to get me this book.

So Mayday comes along. It’s also from Black Mask. I’ll give it a try. Issue #1 was good. Push it in the store. Young Terrorists same thing. Clandestino. X’ed. Now I am a big Black Mask supporter. They stepped up huge on Local Comic Shop Day with 2 exclusive hardcovers and a special box set. But I had to order them direct from them because the Diamond shipping window was closed. No problem. I trust you guys. Just about sold through. And the We Can Never Go Home HCs were all signed. Then they put out the first trade at $9.99 for 5 issues. Excellent. Just about sold through the big initial order I made.  I just placed another order for more of the Space Riders TP (sold out at Diamond) and more We Can Never Go Home to fill in the issues I am missing.

All because they sent me an actual advance copy of a book."

Colin McMahon, Pittsburgh Comics

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Best of 2015, Part 1

Even though CBP is on a recording hiatus, that doesn't mean we stop talking about comic books. In fact, since we're coming up on the end of the year, we've enlisted a bunch of friends of the show to give us their top comics of 2015...


Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol 3, by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)

"My favorite comic of 2015 was HIP HOP FAMILY TREE, VOLUME 3. It's beautiful and smart and larger than life and still all at ground level. It's a work the creator has been building toward for years."

Marcel Walker, Hero Corp


The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III (DC Comics)

"For me it has to be SANDMAN: OVERTURE. It's an absolutely beautiful piece of work. Technically the first issue was released in 2013 but it just wrapped up in September so, hopefully it counts."

Mikey Wood, Space Monkey Comics

Thursday, November 5, 2015

#223 - The B-Team


HOSTS: Jared and Shawn

NEWS/TALK: Ash Vs. Evil Dead, The Flash

COMICS: Prez #5, Art Ops #1, Batman Adventures #1, Batgirl Vol. 1: Batgirl of Burnside