action lab
Tag Archive


God of Comics – Tomboy #12

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 28, 2017

Tomboy #12 (Action Lab Comics)

Quietly, over in a corner that needs more light, Mia Goodwin has been writing a tragedy that is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Tomboy is a story about corporate greed and political corruption in a small town rocked by the murder of a high school girl and the girl’s best friend, Addison, turning into a literal magical girl that is more than even what that entails. Her family life is complicated as her grandfather uses her power like a weapon to weed out evil and corruption, but the process is making her less gray and more a reflection of what she’s supposed to fight against.

Meanwhile, her cop father is investigating the trail of bodies his daughter is leaving in her wake. His partner died investigating the corruption that he was a part of and now haunts the father, offering what advice and protection he can to Addison’s dad, but we know that protection is as flimsy as ghost-stuff.

That really got driven home last issue, and…


This comic is not for the faint of heart. It’s all bright day-glo colors juxtaposed with gory murder and complex questions about the soul, the workings of the cosmos, ethics as a protective shield against madness, and the bonds of family and friends. It’s vicious and brutal and we’ve loved every page, every panel, every frame. Mia has written this story with the deft skill of a surgeon or a serial killer or both, plying her craft with a scalpel’s precision, and the result is a comic that it is impossible to look away from.

And this is it. This is where the whole story ends and we see the final effect of what’s been wrought, and one can’t help but feel that there’s more going on here than simple ink and color on canvas.

When James O’Barr wrote the Crow, A.A. Attanasio compared it to ritual work, essentially calling that story out as a magical working. The same should be said about Tomboy – it is a chthonic working, the sort of ritual that comes from the oldest parts of the mind and rails against destiny and fate and what we have become. It turns a town into a killing field and uses the final price of life to try and make the world better, answers nihilism with a reminder that bright colors do not equal emptiness.

Depth is where you find it, and we’ve found it in the pages of this comic. So should you.

Read article


God of Comics – Tomboy #11

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 13, 2017

Tomboy #11 (Action Lab Entertainment)

Intended for mature audiences. No shit. Let us count the ways.

Tomboy is a comic about a magical girl in the real world fighting government and corporate corruption. It’s a bloody mess that happens to be juxtaposed against a cute bright art style that makes the violence much more horrific on every level. And there is some terrible violence here, as a corporation has poisoned a town and paid off the government and might also have a god on their side because the magical girl is a god and doesn’t know it yet.

This comic is complex, guys. It’s probably the best thing to come out of Action Lab, which is nothing to sneeze at – Action Lab has some amazing stuff and amazing titles, ranging from Miraculous to Archon to Princeless, but Tomboy holds a special place in my heart.

Writer Mia Goodwin has spent her time on this title slowly building a complex mythology and world that feels like ours, only overlaid with some external and subtle force that is only just beginning to creep back into the edges of reality. The few in the know are manipulating forces far beyond their comprehension for their own ends, while other powers quietly move around the world to carry out their own ambitions.

Meanwhile, a mad god has been reborn in the body of a teenage girl and is hunting down the evils around her and exacting a terrible price for that evil but now everything is coming to a head and I need this is trade, Action Lab, I need trades of this comic the same way that I need oxygen or coffee.

Every last character has been expertly drawn out so that we have an emotional investment in everyone, and the art does a masterful job of conveying the passions of this world and everyone in it. We’re working towards what feels like a climactic bloodbath and this is one of those comics you’re going to want to read beginning to end. Hunt down those back issues and crack ’em open; this comic is worth the effort.

Read article


God of Comics: Miraculous #11

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 16, 2017

Miraculous #11 (Action Lab)

Got some weird feedback last week when I covered Medisin, a new horror comic from Action Lab. People seemed to like the review but were weirded out that I’d mention Miraculous in the same sentence, especially when calling on titles like Awake, Herald, and Tomboy.

I thought it weird that the people commenting didn’t mention Princeless, but we’ll get there.

Miraculous is kid’s stuff,” seemed to be the general takeaway.



Steven Universe is kid’s stuff. Avatar, both the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. Adventure Time. My Little Pony. Hell, comics are considered kids’ stuff by far too many people, an entire medium relegated away for reasons I’ve never understood.

But, let us discuss the concept of kids’ stuff: the idea that something is meant for young children doesn’t mean that it has to be bad, simple, or even unpalatable for adults. Grimm’s Fairy Tales was kids’ stuff. All kids’ stuff implies is that it is (a) meant for children, and (b) understandable by children.

Stories written by kids’ stuff can be more adult than the adult fare we’re regularly served up, often talking about difficult concepts and breaking them down into component ideas that are easier to discuss and digest. They give us a greater breadth of language by which to communicate and become the bedrock from which we can form identities. This is important, as this becomes the basis of what we will make of our lives going forward.

Miraculous is startlingly good at this. It builds a world that is familiar enough to our own and introduces characters that are recognizable, dealing with different classes within the context of western society and dealing with the negative connotations of that society: the monster-of-the-week villains are victims of abuse whose pain allows the actual villain to take advantage of them, empowering them to destroy themselves to further his ends. Defeating them involves finding the source of the abuse and dealing with that source, not just taking care of the symptoms.

For example, this part of the story features a young girl scared to play her part in a horror tale who runs from the mockery she faces. This one moment allows the villain to seep into her life and turns her into a monster that will save her from the fear she feels by inflicting that fear on everyone around her, a monster that feeds on fear and becomes more powerful as it spreads terror. Our heroes, the Miraculous Ladybug and Chat Noir, will have to help her find her courage instead of just putting the monster down.

Heady stuff in a very simple, easy to digest package… and that’s why I like it. All delivered to you by Zag Entertainment.

Read article


God of Comics: Medisin #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 9, 2017

Medisin #1 (Action Lab)

Action Lab keeps putting out comics I really like – not classic superhero stuff, but weird mixtures that shouldn’t work but then do; Awake, Herald, Miraculous, Princeless, and especially Tomboy are all really good stuff that play with genre and have interesting takes on familiar tropes. It’s why I tend to scour the releases from Action Labs, looking for some new favorite thing to sink my teeth into, and Medisin looks like the sort of thing I’m going to love.

The set up is simple enough – health care for super villains. Sure, the company that’s publishing Nazi America: Nazi Empire flirted with this on the heroic side of things with Night Nurse, but Night Nurse never got an ongoing and this is dealing with the darker end of the spectrum. When villains get beat up they need someone they can trust to handle their hurts and sow them back together for round two, and it’s not like villains can just go in to a hospital and get treatment without being arrested.

One criminal mastermind has channeled his inner Rick Sanchez and decided that he can make a buck off this by being less scrupulous than a Republican Healthcare Plan: his plan is to kidnap and blackmail down-on-their-luck doctors into providing health care for his contemporaries and then charge those contemporaries. It’s kind of brilliant.

Told from the perspective of those doctors, we get to watch as these professionals handle injuries that no one could ever imagine being possible while struggling with their own ethical codes and/or lack thereof. They’re led by a brilliant physician named Ethan Sharp, whose genius will be put to the test by every patient that shambles through the door of his facility.

Issue one promises to show us the consequences of listening to conscience when you’re working for super villains. Sounds like the sort of thing that should feel familiar for some of us…

The writing comes from Jeff Dyer and Mark McKeon, who’ve done some writering over at Boom Studios and Dynamite Entertainment when they’re not writing for Action Lab, so we’ll see what they bring to the operating table. Artist David Brame has a proven track record for a dirty sketchy style that should work perfectly here, and colorist Joaquin Pereyra has done awesome work in the past for political titles like Fake Empire and Liberator. His presence speaks highly as to the quality of this book, and I can’t wait to cut in and get into the guts of this thing.

Read article


God of Comics 2015-12-09

Culture, God Of Comics

December 8, 2015

All-New Hawkeye #2All-New Hawkeye #2

The previous version of Hawkeye is one of the better comics that Marvel has ever published – pretty much the whole run of individual issues were either top five winners or honorable mentions. This follow up is a little odd, hopping between different timelines and employing different aert styles for both, and highlighting a conflict between the Hawkeyes that feels a little forced. It’s pretty, but is a serious contrast from the previous series. Worth checking out.


Batman #47Batman #47

DC Comics is getting ready to deliver Bruce into the waiting arms of the Bat-God that rules him, so we’re going to be paying attention to that to watch how that plays out. Bat-gum Crisis – Jim Gordon in a hard suit – continues to be the GCPD-friendly version of Batman, and is getting in a little over his head. This is Gotham, though, so that should shock no one. These comics are, generally speaking, fun, but it’s clear the creative team is ready to do something amazing.


Batman and Robin Eternal #10Batman and Robin Eternal #10

It’s interesting that the limited Batman series – this and Batman Eternal – have had a stronger narrative drive than the titles they revolve around. It might be because there’s a finite story involved, one that adds to the mythos while still having a definitive beginning, middle, and end. Jason and Tim are teaming with Bane, while Dick and Harper go to meet a person that can craft personalities in people. That’s kind of horrifying, and Bruce had history with these people…


Batman - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

You know, I don’t even care how ridiculous this sounds. Not one whit. IDW’s TMNT is one of the strongest comics being published today, and DC Comics can do amazing Batman stories when they feel like it. This crossover starts with the Foot coming to Gotham and the TMNT following, and I’m hoping this is before Saki died because I need – I need – to see Batman take on that version of the Shredder. This can, should, and must be fantastic.



Birthright #12Birthright #12

Imagine your pre-teen child goes missing, and a year later re-appears as a hulking thirty year old warrior. That would be troubling, right? And then his very pregnant winged girlfriend – she looks like a freaking angel – shows up looking for him, saying that something has gone wrong. What would you do? How would you react? This is one of the most original fantasy stories period, a tale full of consequence and weight, and if you like fantasy at all you should read it.


Black Knight #2Black Knight #2

Marvel continues to push some of it’s lesser known characters in the wake of Secret Wars, so at least hat unholy quagmire has that going after it. Dane Whitman has a cursed sword that makes him powerful while devouring his morality, which makes him a perfect for a world where nonsense rules and everything is chaos. He’s finally home, in a world where he fits, so naturally the Uncanny Avengers show up to bring him home. This should be fun.


Catwoman #47Catwoman #47

Fuck. I should probably explain that. Catwoman evolved – out of Batman Eternal, we saw Selina grow up, saw her change and evolve and struggle with who she was becoming. It was the most interesting Catwoman has been since Dixon, Loeb, or Brubaker. It was a fascinating study of someone who thinks in terms of solitary tactics being forced to thing about groups and strategically. Now? Now, we’re back to base thievery. Given what came before, my hopes are not high.


Codename Baboushka - The Conclave of Death #3Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death #3

There’s been a boom in spy comics – Velvet, Black Widow, Lady Killer, all that sort of thing. A lot of them feature female leads, and all of them do different things with the concept: Velvet is a serious Bond movie, Black Widow a meditation on morality and cost, and Lady Killer a critique of gender roles and politics. This is very much Burn Notice, a fun send up starring someone who is very good at what she does but works for the other side. Cool beans.



Constantine The Hellblazer #7Constantine: The Hellblazer #7

This comic has managed to strike a happy medium between the old Hellblazer comics and the lighter (comparatively) Constantine comics, which folded John into the main DC continuity. It’s done so mainly through the writing talents of James Tynion IV, though the sharp art stylings also help. John is a terrible person and a worst friend, and we’ve seen him mangle old contacts left and right in this series so far, so it should be interesting to watch him try to screw over Swamp Thing.


The Eighth Seal #1The Eighth Seal #1

We’ve all seen this, right? And we all know what they’re referencing? The New Testament has a book called Revelations, which details the end of the world in Christic lore. There’re seven seals that need to be broken for the world to end, so an eighth seal is sort of intriguing, especially given the political back drop this book is going to have. A woman running for office sees nightmares leech into reality. Is she mad or a prophet? We look forward to finding out.


Giant Days #9Giant Days #9

One of the best slice of life comics we’ve ever read, this comic deals with people doing their best to live their lives while being both exceptional and ordinary. It’s what Archie aspired to be before Archie got Mark Waid writing, only this is written by the guy who wrote Scary-Go-Round and Bad Machinery, which are weird web comics about being exceptional and ordinary. Adorkable defined. Hunt it down and mount it in front of your eyes.


Gotham Academy #13Gotham Academy #13

DC Comics has two major Bat-things going on right now – Batman and Robin Eternal, which we covered above, and Robin War, which spins out of We Are Robin. Basically, imagine if Anonymous was a bunch of kid vigilantes who ran with a Robin motiff, and you end up with that comic. Various police incidents have led to the corrupt government making Robins colors illegal, which got one of the Robins sent to Gotham Academy, where she’ll be safe. Or not.


Guardians of the Galaxy #3Guardians of the Galaxy #3

Gamora returns to her team book but still hasn’t been given her own solo book when everyone else has – even the Tree gets a solo series, but the most dangerous woman in the galaxy? Nah. About eight months have passed in-world since Secret Wars was inflicted on us, and she’s returned to let us know where she stands on, well, everything. There’s a lot of everything. Quill’s a Star King, for instance, and married, and we’re in the middle of a Bendis Build and you know the climax is going to be intense.


Monstress #2Monstress #2

Buy this comic. Go out, grab a copy, and buy it. The first issue was one of the most beautifully horrific things we’ve ever read, a tale mired in a post-apocalyptic steam-punk Victorian utopia, where gods are created and science~! is capable of anything and also there are kaiju maybe. This took the breath of everyone in the office away last week, so to say we’re looking forward to this is an understatement. First comic we’re reading this week, and it should be yours, too.


Ninjak #10Ninjak #10

Shadowman was important but terrible. It assumed too much, explained too little, and introduced some important concepts to Valiant comics that have been touched on a few times since, like the Deadside. British Intelligence tried to go exploring the realm of the dead and had things go, well, poorly, and so the sole survivor of that expedition teams with Ninjak to head into the world of the dead. This should end well, perhaps strongly enough to resurrect Shadowman in the process. Fingers crossed.


Scarlet Witch #1Scarlet Witch #1

Here’s a character with an ill-defined set of powers who is nonetheless interesting because of who she is as a character and what she means to the Marvel Universe in general. She’s a mutant, a magician, the daughter of Magneto, an Avenger, a villain, a hero… and the best person this side of Stephen Strange or Illyana Rasputin to fix the broken magic of the Marvel Universe, and maybe even figure out why it’s broken. This is either going to be incredible or awful.


Snow Blind #1Snow Blind #1

This sounds like it could be fascinating – a kid in Alaska posts a picture of his dad on Facebook, because what’s the harm in that, right? Social Media FTW. Well, turns out dad is in the Witness Protection Program, and there are people looking for him and now they’ve found him and put out a hit. Dad’s got some explaining to do, the FBI goes into panic mode, and there’s a hitman coming to this sleepy little burg in the middle of nowhere. If you like noir, this is worth a look.


Spider-Gwen #3Spider-Gwen #3

Back in Spiderverse, the various spider-people realized that dimension hopping was a thing. Some of them kept transporters so that they can move from one dimension to another, and Gwen’s feeling a little out of sorts so she’s going to go visit Jessica Drew. No, not that one, the other one. 616 Jessica Drew, who was in a damn interesting comic before Secret Wars. You’d think Ultimate Jessica would be more interesting in this instance, but in Latour we trust.


Star Wars Annual #1Star Wars Annual #1

Marvel’s Star Wars comics have been some of the best comics they’ve put out in a long while – and this is saying something, considering the strength of, say, Loki, Thor, Angela, Uncanny X-Men, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Punisher… and it’s those last three this comic is going to draw on, as a deep cover agent for the Rebels has to move a host of sympathizers from the Empire as the senate is dissolved and Palpatine claims all the power. That’s a hell of a set up.


Tomboy #2Tomboy #2

Action Lab, what are you doing to me? First, you nabbed my attention with Exit Generation, which had me giggling and enthralled. This is more the latter than the former, as a literal magical girl gets to deal with corruption on corporate and political levels after police murder her best friend and his father to sate the greed of the oligarchy. This is, simply put, amazing comics and incredible storytelling with art like you ain’t never seen and it’s likely going to be in the top five. Again.


Ultimates #2Ultimates #2

Okay, this? This right here? This is awesome. Black Panther. Spectrum. Blue Marvel… the team here are all a-list powerhouses, and they’re starting off their series by approaching Galactus with intelligence and respect and a plan to actually actively fix a problem. The only thing that kept this from a top five spot last time was some weird art and pacing issues, but they’ve had a month to settle in and get everything in order. This could be incredible. Fingers crossed.


Unity #25Unity #25

Valiant is ending their team-book with a bang… following the events of Book of Death, the members of Unity are going their separate ways. For now, at least. But now that the team is done, some of the more secret missions of the team can be disclassified, like that time they went on mission with Quantum and Woody. Or that time Faith helped them fight United. Or Bloodshot did between Armor Hunters and the Valiant. This is gonna be a lot of fun, peoples. Read it.

Read article