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God of Comics – Eugenic #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

October 3, 2017

Eugenic #1 (BOOM! Studios)

In case it wasn’t clear, we’re kinda fans of the horror genre.

Horror as a whole slides under the radar of a lot of people, who dismiss it as meaningless drivel, but the genre as a whole speaks candidly about the era from which it comes. From fear of nuclear annihilation to crime to death, horror tackles the cold sliver that works its way into every world, every time, and it looks unblinking into the eyes of anyone that dares to look into it.

Yes, horror is scary. It’s full of dread, a sick sense that something has gone very wrong. When done well, it pokes holes in the lying morality of the world and murders the illusions we use to make ourselves feel better. Horror tackles every shadowed corner we don’t want to look at and spits at our fear of doing so. It has no time for polite society, and less for the quiet deceits we use as security blankets in our daily lives.

The trick in writing horror well is to stay true to the story and the theme. Original flavor Death Note, for example, works because the villain is the charismatic leader of his school, the well-adjusted cop’s son that everyone looks up to and expects great things from. The Netflix version fails because it takes that villain and reduces him to an outcast, then deduces him further by taking away his brilliance and agency and giving it to someone else.

It’s an excuse. It’s a lie. It’s the sort of failure you’ll never get from a story written by James Tynion IV.

James has a close relationship with horror: he’s written tales steeped in the chilling shivers from the very start. We’ve waxed long and deep on the Woods, an utter masterpiece in storytelling, but also on his work with UFOlogy, Constantine, Detective Comics, Batwoman… horror seeps its way into everything he writes, gropes with terrible intent through his stories towards the reader, and Eugenic looks to be the next step in that strange labyrinth.

Here, we are given a world ravaged by plague. People the world over are dying, helpless before a microbe that renders all humankind has wrought to nothing… until a single scientist comes up with a cure. He distributes his findings and humankind is saved, but then the people who took the cure have children and the children, well, the children are born different.

Mutants, but not the kind with powers. Disfigured and horrific, the cure has changed humanity into something it was never meant to be.

James brings artist Eryk Donovan over from his time on Constantine, inviting him to dig deep into the disturbing, the troubling, the monstrous. We’re going to get into some serious body horror here, kids, so this is not for the squeamish, but if you dig, say, American Mary, you’re going to love this.

Get in now, and remember: Happy Halloween.

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God of Comics – Batman: White Knight #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

October 2, 2017

Batman: White Knight #1 (DC Comics)

It’s interesting. The Joker, I mean.

He’s nearly as old a character as Batman, debuting only a few years into Batman’s run as a character. He started as a sneaky killer who could get to people anywhere back in the early days, when Batman was as much a killer as the criminals he hunted. As the Bat solidified as a character and stopped killing and using guns, so the Joker also solidified into something more and, like the Bat, something easy to write badly or to write well by accident.

We’ve said this before, but the Bat isn’t about revenge – if he was, he would have stopped after finding his parent’s killer. The Batman is about protection, about making sure that no one else ever has to suffer the trauma that a young child suffered when his parents were murdered in front of him. He is, in a very real well, trying to instill order on a broken world. He tries to build and has a goal, a nigh impossible but achievable one.

The Joker works as his antithesis because the Joker is complete and utter entropy.

He’s chaos for its own sake, the destruction of systems for no reason other than to kick them over. He doesn’t even care what happens afterward, he just wants to destroy everything for the sake of casual destruction and because the world is a joke. Through the eyes of the Joker, civilization itself is a game of make-believe that we delude ourselves into playing, and anarchy is the truth that he pushes. His sanity is insane.

And he’s easy enough to twist and turn regardless of what society demands of him. He survives the comic code authority and retains his character because he doesn’t care about dignity, morality, or what anyone thinks – his only concern is the man in the cowl and dragging that man down to a place where he, too, sees the stark raving truth that is the heart of the character: every single thing that we imagine ourselves to be is a lie.

The Joker languishes in that place where the very worst human impulses deny everything we build. He’s patient zero, an infection more than a man, as inhuman as the Batman himself.

We’ve seen a few places where the Joker tries to be good, or someone takes the name and tries to do good with it. Some of them are better than others. But this…?

This might work.

Here, writer and artist Sean Murphy presents a Joker that has been cured of his madness while still keeping his perspective. He sees the joke of things but is now working to fix the damage he sees, but he’s still cracked and tainted by his vision. He’s trying to make amends and do better, facing down the mind-shattering horror he once embodied, and a big part of that is pitting himself against a Batman that has lost all compassion, all reason, all mercy…

Batman stories are, at their core, tragedies. Bruce can fight with everything in him and never win, not really, because he’s facing the force the Joker embodies. But if that champion changes than the Bat can as might, the symbols becoming muddied until the only thing that can purify either of them is the other. Sean’s got some experience with that kind of story – witness his work in Punk Rock Jesus – and it could be aces here.

It will be aces here. We’re in the midst of a Bat renaissance right now, with all the Bat-comics being about the best they’ve ever been, and this title is going to bring something fresh and new to the table. Do not miss it.

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God of Comics – Songs for the Dead #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 29, 2017

Songs for the Dead #1 (Necromancer Press)

Necromancers get a bad rap.

It’s that whole death thing. People get weirded out by it, scared by it. The inescapable knowledge that, someday, you will die. Necromancers have power over death, over this strange force that one day takes every living thing.

Asimov used to do these thematic anthology collections and one of them was for wizards. He started the book with an original essay in which he looked at the word wizard and what it meant. Wiz, obviously, is wise, but the suffix -ard is tricky. Its use shows up in words like coward or drunkard, and there are variants like braggart. They all mean to do something to excess.

Given this definition, a wizard is someone who has taken wisdom to excess. A person who can control the world and reshape it to his or her whims. People fear wizards because of that. Apply that same thinking to necromancers, though – a wizard who specializes in the realm of death – and you’re looking at someone who is going to be shunned and hunted for what they know and what they can do.

But necromancy isn’t bad, per se. It’s no more intrinsically evil than any other kind of magic. A politician can use charisma and words to build laws that save lives or destroy them. An economist can use their knowledge of trade and currency to build a better world or ruin it. The use of a discipline says more about the user than the discipline.

And that brings us to Songs of the Dead.

Songs for the Dead is an independent comic about a necromancer who doesn’t believe that she’s evil. She was shunned by her parents for her power and left her village, and all she wants to do is be a hero like the ones she’s read about. She’s naive and sheltered and more than a little clueless, but the power resides within her and she could do great things… provided she survives long enough or isn’t enslaved first.

Her name is Bethany and she’s a lone traveler looking for work and to make a name for herself. She decides that taking a job to find a missing noble’s son is the best way to go about doing that, but she’s still learning and still alone and the world is a little more vast and complex than she knows it is. She’s going to need help to do the things she wants.

That help is going to come from an unexpected source.

Songs for the Dead was created and is written by Michael Christopher Heron and Andrea Fort, with art by Sam Beck and covers by Nick Robles. It is definitely worth hunting down, and you can find out more about it and Necromancer Press by clicking here.

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God of Comics – Rat Queens Orc Dave #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 28, 2017

Rat Queens Orc Dave #1 (Image Comics)

A big part of fantasy writing these days is taking expectations and either subverting them or expanding upon them. Standard fantasy is old hat; we all know what an orc is and what a dwarf does, and we can recognize them from one world to the next. Authors take those concepts and need to do different things with them – and those things are almost always playing against type (a smart orc!) or expanding upon it (dwarves are also inventors and miners with a deeply artistic culture and history).

The very best fantasy writers do both.

Look at Terry Pratchett, for example. Pratchett took a standard fantasy world and over the span of thirty-something books turned it into one of the most expansive mythologies that spoke more to humanity and what it is to be a person than any other body of work I can think of off hand. At the same time, he subverted expectation at every turn; his elves are monstrous, his dwarves complex, his vampires bored, his orcs and goblins people capable of great things.

I mention this because Kurtis Wiebe has done much the same thing with Rat Queens. It started as a subversion of standard Dungeons & Dragons tropes, a foul-mouthed group of female adventurers that seemed hellbent on subversion that has veered into expansion as time went on, and then started weaving both qualities together.

And that brings us to today’s comic. The Rat Queens were initially only one of a number of adventuring parties working within the city of Palisade. We were introduced to the others and, of them, the Four Daves looked to be most respectable rivals the Queens had on tap: four adventurers all named Dave who looked like a mid-boss battle waiting to happen.

Instead, we got to see the Daves and the Queens become friendly with one another, and the dwarven fighter who leads the Queens fell hard for the orc druid who was the magical expert for the Daves. The two of them had a pretty complex thing going on, what with Violet definitively being the more bloodthirsty of the two, and it seemed like a cute side part to the larger whole.

A couple of things happened, then, one in the world of the comic and one in the real world. Rat Queens went on hiatus for a number of reasons and the story and characters were abandoned. When they came back, we learned about the latter: something had happened to Orc Dave and Violet was pretty upset about it. About the only thing we know is that the two of them did not break up.

Given how the past tends to haunt these characters, however, it seems likely that we’re going to peel back the layers and see something new and different. The Story of Orc Dave. The Saga, maybe? Fable? Tale? Epic?

This is what we know: Orc Dave grew up somewhere ideal that had a problem with monsters, but it was nothing that his family and the other druids could not handle. The world was lovely, idyllic, serene. And then came a force that could not be stopped or reasoned, a force that could not be fought: a collection of warriors known as the Rat Queens.

Kurtis takes is through the veil and into the murky green depths of Orc Dave’s past and the more sordid history of the Queens, accompanied by artists Max Dunbar and Tamra Bonvillain. This is the sort of thing that proves that there is still good in the world. Pick up this comic and you’ll see what I mean.

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God of Comics – Dishonored: Peeress and the Price #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 27, 2017

Dishonored: Peeress and the Price #1 (Titan Books)

What what? Another video game comic? We seem to be doing a lot of these. Is Dan Watters writing this one, too? No? Who is… it’s Michael Moreci? The dude from Hoax Hunters and Roche Limit? I love it when comics give me reason to talk about other comics that I keep meaning to talk about – the other two are titles that were recommended to me by Big Pete a while back and they’re all sorts of great.

They also tie nicely into the world of Dishonored.

Hoax Hunters is a tale about a group of highly trained professionals hunting down and covering up legit supernatural events and making them look like hoaxes. Remember that guy in Hellboy who has to explain away whenever Hellboy slips up and someone catches him on camera? It’s a team of that guy, only they’re likable and doing a thing that is necessary because humans are nervous violent animals who cannot handle anything they’re not expecting. It’s awesome stuff and you should be reading it.

Roche Limit is one of the best high-concept science fiction comics that needs to be a high-concept science fiction series done by someone with an appreciation for story and character. It’s about a space station where humanity is just managing to hang on and the weirdness that happens out there, far away from anything humankind might know. The first volume is subtitled Clandestiny and it’d be worth your time to track down and read to give you an idea of what Michael Moreci brings to the table.

Because what he brings to the table is amazing.

Dishonored is a video game story about a royal bodyguard who failed and was dishonored and had to put the rightful heir back on the throne, uncovering murky conspiracy and unlocking arcane power. A tale of vengeance turned to one about justice and was all the better for it, and the sequel saw the rightful princess become a queen and then have it all stolen from her, forcing her to reclaim what was hers.

Conspiracies and crimes and cover-ups and arcane lore, all lurking about in the halls of power. Fates decided, destinies murdered, and complex characters forced into situations they never expected. There’s drama here. Madness. Chaos. A threat to the crown and the kingdom and the world, secrets to be uncovered and justice to be found.

Emily and Corvo, royalty and bodyguard, return to Dunwall after the events of the second game. There, they run into a dangerous rival in the form of Archibald Dufrane, a man only mildly less dangerous than the serial killer that is haunting the city… and whose presence is made all the more deadly when the arcane might that keeps Emily secure starts to crumble.

It’s good times, is what we’re saying. High political drama with danger, magic, and enough shades of gray to fill a shadowed kingdom. Michael Moreci is the perfect writer for this.

He’s joined by Andrea Olimpieri and Mattia Iacono handling the carved lines and woven colors that bring his tale to life. The former you might know from the Evil Within or Dark Souls, another couple of video game adaptations that are worth your time to track down. The latter has been right there with him on the Evil Within and Dark Souls, so you’re going to be looking at the work of a team that know and bring out the best in one another.

For those of you that don’t know the game, this will make a hell of an introduction. For the rest of us, what can we do other than make our way to our comic stores of choice and grab what we need? Because – trust me – you need this. Like oxygen.

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God of Comics – Detective Comics #965

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 26, 2017

Detective Comics #965 (DC Comics)

A Lonely Place of Living.

That’s the name of this story arc. It’s a play on A Lonely Place of Dying, the tale that introduced us to Tim Drake as Robin, and though the art can be a little iffy in places the writing is spot on: a kid figures out that Dick Grayson and Jason Todd were Robin, so Bruce Wayne must be Batman. He’s proven to be a genius and has noted the Bat is acting crazier than usual – he gets Dick involved in trying to help Bruce, but Dick is firmly Nightwing at this point and Bruce needs a Robin. It’s awesome stuff, full of psychology and pathos and some excellent Joker / Two-Face villainy, and it’s an easy recommendation.

And then all of that was tossed aside in the nu52. “Tim Drake” was no longer his real name, but the name he was given as a part of the Witness Protection Program after hacking the Penguin (and the government moved him to Gotham because nothing made any sense at all in the nu52). That Tim was never a Robin, adopting Red Robin from the get-go because he thought that would pay homage to Jason without stepping on any toes – and the name Red Robin wasn’t going to trigger any guilt or anger in Bruce, not with the name graphically illustrating a certain crowbar-related incident.

The real reason for Red Robin was that black and red are cooooooooool colors that are also exxxxxxxxxxrtreme and they match the nineties aesthetic that makes so much of the nu52 unreadable.

But this? This feels like the last vestiges of the nu52 are being washed away. Tim Drake is back, and his reason for becoming Red Robin is because he’d moved on and become a hero in his own right, having helped Bruce come to terms with Jason’s brutal death.

Of course, things aren’t so cut-and-dry.

In an earlier part of James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela’s run on this title, Tim sacrificed himself for Gotham. Everyone thinks he’s dead, but in truth he was taken by people good enough to fool Batman. He’s been stuck wherever he is, information about his captors and their reasons doled out slowly. We don’t know what’s about to happen but James has been laying an ever-increasing complexity in this tale, one that raises the stakes with every arc and makes every previous arc better in retrospect.

What’s even more impressive is how good those story arcs are to begin with. Carmen Carnero and Ulises Arreola are a large part of that, bringing light to Gotham and the world while keeping the Bat in shadows, working a variety of inks and vibrancies to a title that is all the stronger for it. We don’t mention letterers much these days, but Sal Cipriano’s work on this title has been exquisite and has given immediately recognizable textures to the voices of Gotham. It’s a heady mix of darkness and light, silent sounds and voices that seep off the page, mingled with strong story-telling and interesting characters.

It is very much everything you could want from a Batman comic, and you should read it.

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God of Comics – Black Magick #8

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 25, 2017

Black Magick #8 (Image Comics)

It’s getting hard to imagine cops being heroes, or even good people.

Like, I get it: some people get into police work because it is a calling and they want to protect and serve. That’s cool. That’s admirable. It just seems like more and more cops get into the profession because you get to carry a gun and a badge and you get a license to be a dick. And maybe some people get into the profession to try and change that, but they have to deal with the corruption in command and the eroding trust of the people around them and there’s going to be very few people that can maintain themselves under that kind of stress.

Being a good cop is hard. Being a good cop when no one trusts you because the thin blue line protects bad cops is impossible. And that’s why we are where we are: in a place where we cannot trust cops because they have tendency to shoot innocent people for no reason, to convict innocent people because someone had a gut instinct and damn the evidence, to double down on mistakes made and destroy the lives of the people they’re supposed to be protecting and serving.

Taking all that into account makes this comic fascinating.

Greg Rucka is exploring the idea of traditional guardians – the priests and priestesses of the old and wise faiths – getting into police work because, for them, it is a calling and not just a career. Yes, they have to deal with the shades of gray and terrible bullshit that comes from working for a corrupted part of a corrupted system, but it is the best they can do and they manage as best they can.

And this is Greg Rucka – a writer who adds depth and meaning to every line of dialogue with the same skill that some fish swim. Words and story come naturally to him and he lives in this ocean of faith and dogma, the ebb and flow and pull of magic and purity and corruption, and it’s hard to think of a story that he’s written that embraces all those qualities the way this one does.

There was a murder and the old wise guardians moved to do what they can, but find themselves confronted by zealots from a dogmatic church and zealots from a perversion of their own practices. There’s a lot going on here, the strain and stick of human consciousness and relationships brushing with the divine. This comic is a touchstone for where the thinking ape meets the wandering angel. It’s beautiful.

A good chunk of that beauty must be laid at the feet of Nicola Scott, whose incredible artwork makes this impossible to look away from. Soft lines and graying sepia give way to color only when magic touches the world, hard shades used to express nuance and emotion. Every frame in this comic is gorgeous.

If you like your noir tinged with a touch of something distinctly other, this is your story. Do not miss it.

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God of Comics – Wonder Woman / Conan #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 22, 2017

Wonder Woman / Conan #1 (DC Comics)

We stumbled across the announcement for this title about a month back and could scarcely believe it – it’s not a crossover that has happened before but you’d think it would have. These are two characters that compliment one another quite a bit, though their origins and creators are vastly different.

William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, was a psychologist involved in a polyamorous relationship back in the twenties and invented the lie detector. He was a fascinating man who gave us one of the most enduring characters of the medium and one of the cornerstones of DC Comics as a whole, even though a lot of the people that have written her since haven’t gotten what she’s about.

And what she is about is Truth and Mercy. We go on about this quite a lot, I think, but we go on about it because so many writers don’t seem to get it, but occasionally someone does and the character just clicks. Gail Simone is one of those writers. She gave us a seminal run with the character that has informed pretty much everything that came afterward, the equivalent of the Walt Simonson run on Thor.

Both of those runs – Simonson’s Thor and Simone’s Wonder Woman – have been collected in trade and they are well worth hunting down and reading. They’re pretty much the best way to get a feel for either character.

Robert E. Howard, on the other hand, is the guy who pretty much invented the sword and sorcery genre. He published anthology stories and invented Conan the Barbarian as his central character, a wandering warrior who was as much about clever trickery as swordplay. He also had some… well, his views on race and gender were pretty standard for their time, but they haven’t aged well.

Interestingly, his stories have. Like the best writers, his characters took on a life of their own and Conan often seemed to oppose the views the author held – he was as much liberator as conquerer. It’s interesting that while Robert espoused views that denigrated civilization as a whole, Conan himself took for granted the social cues of civilized society and Robert was a massive patron of the arts in general and writing in particular.

For example, Robert was a huge fan of Lovecraft and helped develop the Cthulhu mythos. Conan existed within that world, too… and so did Red Sonja. To the best of my knowledge, Gail Simone hasn’t written Conan in the past, but she did write one of the best runs on a Red Sonja comic you’ll ever read and that gives us some pretty high expectations going into this title.

So, it’s with all this in mind that we see these two character crossover – the Amazon princess who works with philosophy as much as strength of arm and the barbarian savage who whose philosophies serve his own aims in all things. There’s a lot to work through here and Gail immediately seizes the throat of her narrative by asking what makes these characters legendary? Why do they endure when other characters fall by the wayside and are forgotten? Is it the will of their in-world gods that they succeed or is it in spite of them, and does that spite make them who they are?

We don’t know yet. We haven’t read the comic, but we’re going to.

And we know it’s going to be gorgeous – Aaron Lopresti and Matthew Ryan are on art duties. The former has done some incredible work with Wonder Woman in the past, and this project sees him reunited with Gail Simone to further that aforementioned legendary run. Matthew Ryan is another Wonder Woman alum with both Simone and Lopresti, and he’s done some incredible color work that should serve this story well.

This has been a really good week for comics, and this title is the one we’re most looking forward to.

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God of Comics – Wolfenstein #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 21, 2017

Wolfenstein #1 (Titan Books)

Feels like we were just talking about writer Dan Watters last week. What was he working on? Little Nightmares? Assassin’s Creed? No, no, it was the Shadow.

I want you to take a look at that list, though. Those three comics and what the narratives of those games deal with. Little Nightmares is about the grotesque rich and an all-consuming gluttony resulting in the loss of soul and eventual destruction. Assassin’s Creed is about a war through time between religious zealots and those that have sought to stop them. And, of course, the latest iteration of the Shadow deals with finding out what evil lurks in the hearts of men and causes greater degrees of evil, the root causes of the symptoms that are killing every living thing on our planet.

Combine the darknesses inherent in those three villains and you have Nazis, which means that Dan is well equipped to deal with the horrors of this comic.

For those of you that don’t know, Wolfenstein is a video games series about a Jewish soldier named B.J. Blazkowicz who was captured by Nazis, taken behind enemy lines, and then killed his way through every last bastard that wanted to make the Fatherland Great Again, because you cannot talk to people who are advocating for genocide. Ask anyone that spoke with the Nazis about peace treaties how well that went… or take a look at the American South, and the cancer that is now killing the American Dream because someone decided they did not want to hurt the feelings of fascists and slave owners.

It’s interesting: the Nazi party borrowed some of their ideas and culture from the American Confederacy, those traitors that went to war to keep slaves and who used the slave trade to bolster their economy. The Nazis then used the inertial constancy of European antisemitism to advocate for genocide and made the world complicit in their action when they offered to send the people they were going to exterminate to anywhere that wasn’t Germany.

Germans know about this. They’re taught about it in school. They learn about their history, the good and the bad – and there is good there, a manic genius that has informed much of the world for the better. Americans do not because they edit out the parts of their history they don’t like. This is why Neo-Nazis are allowed to exist, why people think the Confederacy turned traitor for reasons other than slavery, why Republicans are the way they were – if you don’t understand where you come from you cannot control where you’re going.

Recent Wolfenstein games have been brutal on this point. They dig into the horror of Nazism, the sheer vicious inhumanity of it and still come up short because it’s hard to fully capture the degradation that genocide entails. Still, they try as best they can and the most recent version decides to expose the horror in a whole new light:

Makes your skin crawl, doesn’t it?

This is the world that Nick Spencer and his ilk are fighting for, the one that moderate liberals will let happen because they would rather talk when someone is calling for the execution for African-American and LGBT+ and Romani and Jewish and Hispanic lives, among others. This is the world that Dan Watters will look at unblinking, and ask you to do the same. It is not an easy task, or a pleasant one. We do not want to fight but there is little choice when you have actual Nazis pushing actual genocide into the public discourse.

Dan is working with the art team of Piotr Kowalski and Ronilson Freire, the former a resident of Poland and the latter a resident of Brazil. Poland was the home of Auschwitz and the worst of the Nazis’ offenses, while Brazil is next to a place where many of the Nazi leadership fled after the war. Both countries have suffered the taint of that evil, and both of them understand the importance of this comic.

This war should be over but it isn’t. Look into what America being made great again by Trump and his ilk looks like. Take a good long look by reading this comic and decide of that sort of fear and murder is something that you can stomach. And then, for the love of the morality you claim to love so much, go out and punch a fucking Nazi.

It’s up to us.

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God of Comics – The Wild Storm #7

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 20, 2017

The Wild Storm #7 (DC Comics)

There’s got to be something immensely satisfying about giving Warren Ellis the keys to your kingdom.

We’ve read what he can do with forgotten characters and concepts (Nextwave), read what he can so with meta-narratives (Supreme: Blue Rose), read how he can take old characters and modernize them (Injection), even taken established characters and rebuild them into something recognizable-but-new (Moon Knight). We’ve even seen how he can take a bare-bones video game story and turn it into something awesome (Castlevania). It’s Warren Ellis. No one can touch him.

So, let’s talk Wildstorm. The imprint was the embodiment of the nineties – flashy and kind of stupid but groping towards maturity and surprisingly deep. There were some very serious questions about god and mortality, some quiet meditations on personhood and evolution and the true nature of power, on expectation meeting reality. Some of the very best comics spilled out of the Wildstorm imprint (for Emp’s sake, read Sleeper).

The nu52, with its weird nineties obsession, tried to marry the Wildstorm imprint in with the DCU – and this didn’t work. The DCU is about opera and all that entails, while Wildstorm evolved into stories about shades of gray and conspiracy. The two could crossover with one another (and frequently did!) but not co-exist because they are so thematically different.

When the powers-that-be at DC Comics decided they wanted readers again, they rebooted their world with Rebirth, and that ended up being an insanely wise decision that has seen their whole line meet widespread acclaim. Good for them. The Wildstorm imprint got left to one side, though, its characters and mythos abandoned in that moment.

I like to imagine Warren Ellis as more of a force of nature than a mere mortal. I have pretty wild head-canon about how Nextwave came into being and I’ve got a similar head-canon for this comic: the DC Comics editorial board gets ready for a meeting against a window sunset. The room is locked, protected, sealed – and yet, when they gather, a single chair slowly turns around. The chair is empty.

The door closes. Warren Ellis is behind them.

I have an idea,” Warren says, and the whole room panics. They catch glimpses of the unknown realities that dance in the frame of this one man. They fear him, the small hairs on their arms standing up from the sheer electric creativity he brings with him.

So do I,” says Jim Lee, the lightning infecting him. “You should re-write the whole Wildstorm universe.”

And Warren smiles because the idea he had has permeated reality. He is an ascended being, you see. He, along with a very few masters, has loved the written word so much that he has become the very spirit of Writer.

He’s gone slowly with this, introducing the complexities and concepts of the Wildstorm he’s envisioned. We’re just now getting into the aliens that circle the world and live within it, devoured the concept of covert action teams and the human division of heaven and earth. A small cast thus far, but a promise of more to come as the story demands them. This is what the Wildstorm imprint looks like all grown up, building to the sword of Damocles hanging lightly overhead.

Artist Jon Davis-Hunt has a knack for expression and structure that serves this story well, underlining the underlying text with subtle cues. He’s plotting out soul architecture here, and it brings a sense of realism to the ground-level identity this comic craves. Colorists Steve Buccellato and John Kalisz work with varying shades of being, painting a world into hues that seem light but bleed shadows.

This comic is the perfect echo of the nineties having found the maturity a decade spent groping for. It’s immaculate, quick and lethal and thoughtful, prone to eerie revelation, terror, and resignation mingled with a chance that things might be okay again someday, if only we are willing to fight right now. Find your halo, pick up this comic, and get ready for the war to come.

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