I can't think of a more appropriate title for the fourth episode of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead video game's second season than "Amid the Ruins."
After an unyieldingly intense end to the previous episode, there were few places this new episode could go in terms of upping the ante. So it doesn't even try. Instead, the game's writers and developers offer a chapter about people trying to dig out from the debris left behind by a major disaster, and forging ahead with their lives.
Listen folks, I want to like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a lot. I have a huge amount of childhood nostalgia caught up in those characters, and as an adult, I can recognize TMNT as arguably the single most important independent comic book of all time, a cornerstone that paved the way for a revolution of creator-owned books that continues today. I want them to be good, but there's so much of it, spread across so much media, that it's hard to figure out what to get into if I want something that's going to live up to those high hopes.
Fortunately, Comixology celebrated the release of the latest Ninja Turtles movie with a sale on the current run of comics from IDW Publishing and gave me exactly the opportunity I was looking for. Since I had only heard good things about those comics -- and since everyone I asked about them told me to just get it all -- I took the plunge ad bought up everything they had, and I've been spending the last few days reading through. And seriously?
Each week, ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims and Matt Wilson host the War Rocket Ajax podcast, their online audio venue for interviews with comics creators, reviews of the books of the week, and whatever else they want to talk about. ComicsAlliance is offering clips of the comics-specific segments of the show several days before the full podcast goes up at WarRocketAjax.com on Mondays.
This week, Chris and Matt start off by gushing about Grayson #2 by Tim Seeley, Tom King, and Mikel Janin. Then, they do pretty much the opposite to Genius #1 by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman and Afua Richardson. Then, it's back to gushing about Moon Knight #6 by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire!
When I was a kid, there was about a year where I got really into building models, mainly because I didn't have many friends and that was the easiest way that you could get a giant Darth Vader with a glow-in-the-dark lightsaber. It didn't last too long since the enjoyment that I got from putting things together moved back into LEGO sets, but it was enough that I get a little twinge of nostalgia from it -- especially when I see something like Bandai's new line of Sprükits Action Figure Model Kits.
The deal with them is that they're not just models, they're kits for building fully poseable action figures with accessories that require no scissors, glue or paint. You just snap it all together, and judging by the Arkham City Batman figure that I just put together, they're actually pretty cool.
Constantine is not modelled on the disappointing 2005 Keanu Reeves movie, also called Constantine. Nor is it an adaptation of DC Comics' current superhero comic book, Constantine, set in the rebooted New 52 DC Universe. The TV show very clearly goes back to the source material, the 1980s DC/later-Vertigo comic series Hellblazer, written initially by Jamie Delano and based on the character John Constantine created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Ridgway in the pages of Swamp Thing. The leading man looks just as he does in the comics, with his familiar trenchoat and tie, and he acts broadly the same way too. Just as crucially, his backstory draws heavily from Delano's Hellblazer run. This Constantine is riddled with guilt and fearful for his soul because he failed to save a girl named Astra in Newcastle from the demon Nergal.
This means that the the TV adaptation of the comic is actually more faithful to the source material than the current version of the comic -- but only in broad strokes. In actual execution, this TV show is not the mature affair that the Vertigo comic offered. This is not a cable television supernatural show. This is more like... a Supernatural show.
While at Comic Con, Grant Morrison dropped several enigmatic hints and subliminal messages to ComicsAlliance about his next mega-event, Multiversity, broke down the divisions between fictional universes, and even proclaimed that he thinks that he's made the world's first real superhero. He says things like that. Some people like him, many love him, and some people straight up hate him. With Multiversity starting up in August, you can be sure that there will soon be legions of detractors proclaiming that Morrison is the most overrated writer in comics, and nothing he's ever done has ever made any sense.
The release of DC's Doom Patrol Omnibus finally equips us to give these people the bludgeoning they deserve. (Metaphorical bludgeoning. ComicsAlliance does not condone actual bludgeoning.)
If you've read my recaps of The CW's Arrow, then you likely know I've been pretty hard on it. Yet I ultimately think the show accomplishes what it has brazenly set out to do since it started: be a television version of the Christopher Nolan Batman films.
The CW's new series The Flash, which spun off from Arrow and even features a guest appearance from Arrow star Stephen Amell in its pilot episode, takes much the same approach, but the movies it attempts to emulate aren't the dark, brooding Batman films. It's chasing after the Spider-Man franchise. And for both better and worse, it nails it.
This week, Chris and Matt gush about the amazing work Matt Fraction, David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth and Chris Eliopoulos do on the highly experimental and enjoyable Hawkeye #19. Then they talk about the Brian Buccellato-written Detective Comics Annual #3, which features collaborations with a whole slew of artists. Speaking of big groups of artists, they then pivot to talking about the new Vertigo series Bodies, which is written by Si Spencer and has art by Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ormston, Tula Lotay and Phil Winslade.
With the possible exception of those Sailor Moon toys that I dropped two hundred bucks on, Transforrmers vs. G.I. Joe #1 was the most exciting purchase I made last weekend at San Diego's Comic-Con International. It was pretty much guaranteed to be that way, too -- the #0 issue that came out on Free Comic Book Day and set up the ongoing story that Tom Scioli and John Barber would be telling was easily one of my favorite comics of the year so far. It was bright and engaging and weird, in exactly the way that a comic based on taking two toy properties and smashing them together to make one big story should be.
As far as weirdness goes, though, this first issue outstrips it by a long shot, and it does it by taking the high concept that I think we all expected from another Transformers vs. G.I. Joe story and turning it upside down, launching it into an entirely new echelon of strangeness. And it is great.
When discussing the oeuvre of David Lapham, the comic that comes up again and again is obviously Stray Bullets. As great as Stray Bullets is, though, it tends to overshadow the rest of Lapham's body of work rather unfairly in some cases. Despite the several very good comics that Lapham has produced besides his most famous title – including the incomplete Young Liars, the raucous Juice Squeezers, and of course WWF Battlemania – none can match the near-mythic level of quality and reputation of Stray Bullets, and tend to just get left out of the conversation.
The new trade paperback collection of Murder Me Dead, available July 23 from Image Comics, could help change that trend. A dark, stirring, and emotionally manipulative noir about self-destruction, lies, and guilt, it may be the best “other” Lapham comic in his catalog.
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