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I Wanted This To Be Dangerous: Black Mask’s Matt Pizzolo Talks ‘Godkiller’ And Pushing The Limits Of Comics [Interview]

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Since co-founding Black Mask Studios with 30 Days Of Night writer Steve Niles and Epitaph Records owner (and legendary punk musician) Brett Gurewitz in 2012, Matt Pizzolo has established the company as a home for all manner of genre-busting, boundary-pushing comic books – their initial slate included the all-star Occupy Comics project, Darick Robertson and Adam Mortimer's hyper-violent sci-fi series Ballistic, Matt Miner's animal-liberation vigilante yarn Liberator, and Matthew Rosenberg and Ghostface Killah's 12 Reasons To Die.

Black Mask is now in the process of launching their second wave of titles, and first out the gate is Pizzolo's return to the role of comic creator, collaborating with artist Anna Muckcracker Wieszczyk on a new incarnation of his dystopian multi-media Godkiller project. Upon its release last month, Godkiller: Walk Among Us #1 became Black Mask's first ever title to go to a second-printing, and with #2 hitting comic shop shelves this week, we sat down to talk to Pizzolo about the inspirations for the series, his collaborative process, and his vision for Black Mask as a creative and commercial endeavor.

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Ask Chris #223: Prepare For Trouble, And Make It Double

Ask Chris #223 art by Erica Henderson

Q: Why aren’t there more heroic duos or “tag teams?” -- @awa64

A: Friend, I don't usually like to start off these columns by specifically denying the premise of the question, but there are a lot of heroic duos in the world of superhero comics. I mean, even if we're just limiting ourselves to the most famous superheroes out there, the top of that list is going to include both the World's Finest and the Dynamic Duo, and you don't have to look much harder to find other pairings further down the list.

Unless, of course, you're specifically asking why there aren't more actual pro wrestling tag teams that have taken up crime-fighting when they're not busy in the ring, in which case I have no idea, but rest assured that is something I want to see.

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Urban Legend: How Shalvey And Bellaire Cast New Light On Marvel’s ‘Moon Knight’

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Marvel’s recent relaunch of Moon Knight saw the white-clad vigilante pare things down to a bare minimum as he stalked the streets by night, taking down gangs, gunmen, and anything else that posed a threat to innocent people. In the hands of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, the character was reinvented, stepping away from past characterizations to form a new identity. Across just six issues the creative team stamped a brand on the book that may mark how people approach the character and concept from here onward.

From The Dead collects the entirety of Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire's run on the book. It features a series of deft action sequences, and builds a convincing new world for Moon Knight to walk in, though Ellis's sparse and low-key scripts effectively cede the floor to the artists, allowing penciller Shalvey to create that world and colorist Bellaire to establish the tone. The series is a methodically structured exercise in comics storytelling, with Shalvey excelling in his depiction of a run-down, black and white world of straggling criminals.

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Ask Chris #222: This City Hates You

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Can a setting, location, or place actually be "a character," as people often say about Gotham City or Bioshock's Rapture, and if so, what exactly does that mean? -- @Jon_Ore

A: Technically, no. No matter how well-developed or intriguing a setting is, no matter how many good stories have been set there or how characters and creators have talked about it, it's still just that: A setting. The action and development, even if they're a reaction to the setting or have effects on the setting, are all things that happen to characters. The setting just provides the backdrop.

Practically, though, they can be close enough that for all intents and purposes, they might as well be characters, with everything that comes with it.

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Putting The Sidekick In The Suit: Black Captain America, Female Thor, And The Illusion Of Progress

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I'm not excited for Sam Wilson as Captain America, and I'm not excited for a female Thor.

Now, I don't think these are totally wrongheaded things to do. I admire the impulse behind these changes, and I believe they come from a good place. In the abstract sense, I love the idea of Marvel featuring, in big, bold style, the adventures of a black man and a woman against the hordes of iniquity. I believe at least part of the motivation behind these changes is genuine in its altruism, and that it is not entirely invalidated by profit-seeking impulses. I want to believe in this initiative. I want to be excited. I do not want to be the curmudgeon in the corner, needlessly nitpicking everyone else's good time to pieces.

But it feels like a gimmick, and functions like a gimmick, and that’s because it is a gimmick. I give it perhaps two years — two years that only the most hard-core aficionados will end up able to recall, alongside their recollections of the foil covers era and that one time Doc Ock was Spider-Man.

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Cinder And Ashe: José Luis García-López’s Nearly Overlooked Masterwork

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Originally published by DC Comics in 1988, Cinder and Ashe is a comic by Gerry Conway, José Luis García-López, and Joe Orlando about two mercenary/detective friends who are unable to escape and reconcile with the horrors of their shared past in Vietnam -- a past which has become actualized with the returning of a mad killer who they both thought was long dead. The story takes place in New Orleans with flashbacks to Vietnam, and some stops in Washington, DC and Iowa.

Now available in a collected edition, the book is a well preserved testament to the artistry of one of comics' best storytellers.

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You Are Now Leaving Paradise Island: Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang Discuss Their Epic ‘Wonder Woman’ Work [Interview]

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Azzarello and Chiang's Wonder Woman has been praised for putting forth an epic, cohesive and narratively self-contained superhero drama with flourishes of the urban fantasy that once defined DC's Vertigo imprint, but has also been criticized for the changes it made to Wonder Woman's core myth. What's not in dispute is that the pair have created the most memorable and talked about Wonder Woman story in years -- maybe in decades -- and to mark the conclusion of their work, we caught up with Chiang and Azzarello to look back at their run and talk about their novel take on the feminist icon.

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Jiro Kuwata’s ‘Batmanga’ Is A Superhero Comic Unlike Any You Have Seen

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Readers demand a lot from superhero comics: consistency, continuity, adherence to the rules of the universe, compelling heroes, magnetic villains, satisfying endings, and the list goes on.

But those of us who have been reading for years (if not decades) are chiefly looking for one big thing above all else: novelty. We want to see something we’ve never seen before; characters we recognize as the heroes and villains we love being put into scenarios and settings wholly unlike what’s come in nearly 80 years of superhero comics.

That’s notoriously hard to do. Many times, stories end up being very similar to what’s come before, and when creators do try something new, they elicit complaints from readers who don’t like particular changes or decisions. But what if you could strip away those pressures and build a superhero comic that’s so strange and unique that it’s a must-read?

That’s what Jiro Kuwata’s 1960s Batman comics, currently being republished as the DC Digital Series Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, are. A strange combination of classic Batman comics, the 1960s Batman TV-show, Marvel-Age science-based storytelling, mysticism, cartoon physics, Tokusatsu, and of all things, Scooby-Doo, it isn’t like any comic I’ve ever read. It’s endlessly surprising, and I love it.

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We’re Defining This New Wave Of Comics For Ourselves: A Conversation With Noelle Stevenson [Interview]

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Noelle Stevenson is the future. Nimona, her celebrated and fantastical webcomic about a villain's shapeshifting sidekick, will be published as a graphic novel by HarperCollins in 2015; Lumberjanes, the Boom Studios series about a group of girl adventurers that she co-writes with Grace Ellis, has been promoted from miniseries to ongoing; Marvel has just announced that she's writing a story for the upcoming Thor Annual #1; and she's a writer on Disney’s Wander Over Yonder cartoon.

You're going to see a lot of Noelle Stevenson in the coming year. She's an outspoken, accomplished, and driven talent, and it's no surprise that everyone is suddenly taking notice. To better understand one of the industry’s most promising talents, ComicsAlliance sat down with Stevenson to talk about the indie scene, going legit, and the trials of a changing industry.

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Why Are Christopher Nolan Fans So Intense?

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The last time Christopher Nolan released a movie, film critics got death threats. That was back in 2012, when Nolan released ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ and the first writers who dared to stray from the positive consensus about the film received waves of overwhelming backlash. After Marshall Fine published his pan, his site and his page on Rotten Tomatoes were both bombarded with angry comments politely requesting he “die in a fire” and hoping someone would beat him into a coma with a “thick rubber hose.”

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