Comic artist Edvin Biukovic died fifteen years ago this month at just 30 years old. His death was obviously a terrible loss to those who knew and loved him. It was also a terrible loss to the comic industry; Biukovic never received the level of lasting acclaim or recognition that his talent deserved, and produced relatively few works. Yet he was one of the finest comic artists of his generation.
Biukovic published several works in his native Croatia that have sadly never been translated. His finished English-language works include a couple of Star Wars stories published at Dark Horse, and the first of Peter Milligan's Human Target stories for Vertigo. One work stands as his masterpiece; Devils And Deaths, written by his long-time friend and collaborator Darko Macan, and published by Dark Horse, is a science fiction story about a country torn apart by ancient grudges and tribal conflicts, and of the desperate people trying to eke out a purpose in the midst of war.
David Walker and Bilquis Evely have teamed up at Dynamite for the first-ever comic adaptation of Ernest Tidyman’s ‘Shaft’ character, delivering an exhilarating, game-changing opening issue to a series that should make stars of the entire creative team.
Surprisingly, the book deftly skips away from the John Shaft seen in film and TV, instead dialling back in time to look at the young Shaft, just out the military. The original books talk briefly about this time in the character’s life, mentioning his brief stint as a boxer; this is where Walker chooses to focus as his series starts off. The story of the first issue sees Shaft just getting started as a boxer when he's asked to take a dive, and that hook is all Walker needs to create a solid sense of place and character. The story gives us a look at a confident but less seasoned John Shaft, still feeling out his place in the world and deciding what kind of mark he wants to make.
Hey, have you folks heard about this Hellboy character? It's okay if you haven't -- there's a big #1 on the cover of this comic I just read, so I assume he's pretty new. Trust me, though, he's a character you're going to want to watch, because despite a name that seems pretty lousy the first time you hear it, this is pretty good stuff.
Seriously, though, as much as I love Hellboy and the world of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), I'll admit that I haven't been keeping up with the ongoing adventures over the past few years. I'm sure they're good -- I'm sure they're great, because it's rare that Hellboy isn't, and Hellboy In Hell is viewed very favorably here at ComicsAlliance -- but it's one of those situations where I've fallen behind and it's at the point where there's so much I've missed that it's hard to get back into it.
And that's exactly why I was looking forward to Hellboy and the BPRD: 1952. On sale now, it tells the story of Hellboy's first assignment with the BPRD, which makes it the perfect jumping-on (or in my case, jumping-back-in) point, and not only is it ridiculously good, but it feels fresh and new in a way that's almost impossible for a 20 year-old franchise to pull off.
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.
Annuals get a bad rap. I'm pretty sure it's because they formed the core of some truly terrible crossovers starting in the '90s -- lookin' at you here, Bloodlines -- but there's nothing congenitally wrong with them. In their purest form, annuals are just extra comics, and since we all like comics, that ought to be something to get excited about. And in the case of Dynamite's Flash Gordon Annual 2014, we've got something worth getting excited about.
Flash Gordon is already one of my favorite books on the stands, and this week's Annual continues that trend by providing a fantastic roster of great stories -- including a solo tale for Dale Arden that needs to be made into an ongoing series yesterday.
Who doesn't love a good postmodern murder mystery? Boring people, that's who. Dull, uninspired, abandoned buildings pretending to be human beings who prefer their detective stories to be streamlined and logical, with a series of clues that can be interpreted to lead to a definite answer, and no funny business with fragmentation, parallel narratives, or the sudden appearance of the author in their own story.
If, however, you're an interesting, exciting, attractive person with an undeniable elan, Vertigo's Bodies might be more your style. Written by Si Spencer and drawn by a team of four artists, Bodies takes place in four distinct time periods ranging from the 19th century to the far future, where four detectives investigate four identical murder cases. Not just identical in that it's the same M.O., with the exact same injuries and found in the exact same spot throughout time; identical in that, over a span of 160 years, it's the same body.
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.
There are a lot of great things about the Batman '66 ongoing series, but I think my favorite is how it's been expanding the Dutch-angled, pop-art universe of the original TV show beyond its three-season run. There have been new adventures for the show's roster of special guest villains, new locations, and even new characters in the form of additions like the Arkham Institute's Dr. Holly Quinn and the massive, atomic-powered Bat-Robot.
On top of all that, the not-at-all surprising success of the Batman '66 revival has expanded the universe in one of the most interesting ways by finally giving us one of the biggest missed opportunities in the character's history: A full adaptation of Harlan Ellison's unproduced Two-Face story.
I've known that this story was out there for a while because it always comes up in discussions of great superhero stories that never happened, and finally getting to read it in this week's Batman '66: The Lost Episode was a fantastic experience -- not just because the story itself was fun, but because the way it was presented was amazing.
I've been a fan of Fred Van Lente's comics work for almost ten years now, and the one thing that I love more than anything else about his work is that every time he starts up a new series, it almost always feels like something completely different. You can draw parallels between books like Incredible Hercules and Archer & Armstrong, of course, but neither one of those feels quite the same as G.I. Joe or Taskmaster. The one thing that really unites them, and the one thing that comes through pretty clearly if you ever interview that that guy about his work, is that there's a lot of research that goes into everything he writes, and it's research that comes through in very strange ways.
Case in point: Resurrectionists, a new ongoing Dark Horse series from Van Lente, Maurizio Rosenzweig and Moreno Dinisio that provides a pretty amazing vehicle for delivering that research directly to the reader, and does it with one of the biggest, weirdest high concepts I've seen in a long time.
A few years back, when there was first talk about a TV show based on The Flash, I remember hearing people say that the character could get a stronger foothold with the American public in a time when shows like CSI were so popular. The argument was that people would have an easier time getting their heads around the idea that Barry Allen was a police scientist, and that blew my mind. I mean, is the day job really the thing that people should be interested in when they're watching The Flash? Isn't the part where he can run super-fast and fight guys with ice guns the more important part of that whole franchise?
Besides, I think we can all agree that it was way better back in 1991, when the Flash worked for the IRS as the world's first superhero taxman.
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