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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – April 4, 2018

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Amazing Spiderman #798

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Dan Slott
Art: Stuart Immonen

What it is: GO DOWN SWINGING Part 2 Dan Slott’s final SPIDER-MAN story continues! The GREEN GOBLIN HAS RETURNED – and he’s exacting his ultimate revenge not only on SPIDER-MAN, but on everyone the wall-crawler loves! Norman Osborn’s offering NO QUARTER, an ultimatum that threatens to finish PETER PARKER once and for all! Rated T

Why we love it: The Red Goblin makes his first appearance in the pages of ASM #798. ‘Nuff said.

The Mainstream One: Batman #44

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin

What it is: ‘SOMETHING BLUE’! Follow Batman and Catwoman on two separate but parallel paths as their wedding planning kicks into high gear. Selina picks out her dress, and Bruce starts to make arrangements for their new life together-but this being Gotham City, and they being Batman and Catwoman, you can bet that nothing will go as expected!

Why we like it: We’re only a few months away from the much anticipated Bat/Cat wedding day. I doubt many readers actually believe that they will go through with it and I think we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Writer Tom King excels at infusing the insanity of superhero stories with mundane slice-of-life moments and this Batman run has been his masterpiece.

The Indie One: Spawn #284

Publisher: Image
Words: Todd McFarlane
Art: Jason Shawn Alexander

What it is: The re-creation of Spawn’s arch villain THE VIOLATOR…A NEW LOOK! NEW POWERS!

Why we like it: Spawn creator Todd McFarlane returns to resurrect the most well-known, possibly only-known, character from Spawn’s rogue gallery. And it looks like the Violator will be getting an upgrade. Fracesco Mattina is also back with another stunning cover that alone is worth the price of admission. 

The #1 One: Isola #1

Publisher: Image
Words: Brenden Fletcher
Art: Karl Kerschl

What it is: Childhood friends BRENDEN FLETCHER (MOTOR CRUSH) and Eisner Award-winning storyteller KARL KERSCHL (Gotham Academy) reunite on the comics page with a breathtaking fantasy adventure two decades in the making! The captain of the Royal Guard has fled the capital city with the Queen of Maar, suffering under the effects of an evil spell. Captain Rook’s only hope of returning Queen Olwyn to her throne and saving the kingdom from impending war lies on an island half a world away-a place known in myth as Isola, land of the dead. Featuring lush color work by MSASSYK (Gotham Academy) and letters by ADITYA BIDIKAR (MOTOR CRUSH). Recommended for fans of Studio Ghibli and the work of Hayao Miyazaki.

Why we like it: Cool concept from a stellar creative team.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Deathstroke #30

Publisher: DC
Words: Christopher Priest
Art: Carlo Pagulayan
Cover Art: Francesco Mattina

What it is: ‘Deathstroke vs. Batman’ part one! Beginning this month, a six-issue series-within-a-series featuring the ultimate showdown between DC’s fiercest rivals! When Batman discovers a mysterious package containing DNA test results proving that he is not Damian Wayne’s biological father, the Dark Knight sets his sights on his son’s true father-Deathstroke! But Damian Wayne can’t really be Slade Wilson’s son-can he? And who sent the package-and why? The ultimate custody battle ensues as the World’s Greatest Detective and the World’s Deadliest Assassin clash in this instant classic!

Why we like it: Francesco Mattina joins an exclusive group of creators who have made the Crank File list twice in the same week. He’s making a strong case for being the top cover artist of 2018. The colors and composition of this Deathstroke cover are killer.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – January 17, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Avengers #676

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Mark Waid
Art: Pepe Larraz

What it is: NO SURRENDER Part 2 NOW ON SALE WEEKLY! The Black Order. The Lethal Legion. Two teams of powerful villains bent on destroying each other have arrived on Earth, and they don’t care who gets caught in the crossfire. But who’s pulling their strings? And what is the secret of the lost Avenger? Rated T+

Why we love it: At the end of Avenger’s #675, we were teased with a new character who threatens to tear apart the space-time continuum. Valerie Vector aka Voyager, appears to be a new character but for some reason everyone in the book remembers her as one of the founding Avengers. Hence the amazing, fourth wall breaking, inception-like cover by Mark Brooks which shows a comic collector going through long boxes and pigging out a copy of 1963’s Avengers #1 with Voyager on the cover. It’ a concept so bizarre that it would only work in comics. Looking forward to the reveal for this mystery.

The Mainstream One: Batman #39

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Joelle Jones

What it is: SUPERFRIENDS” part three! Batman and Wonder Woman fight together in an epic battle that will define and then redefine their relationship. What bonds these two pillars of the DCU together? What tears them apart? Find out as Batman continues on his quest for the one thing he’s never had, happiness.

Why we like it: Batman continues his quest to convince his friends that he is not crazy for getting engaged to Catwoman. Superfriends part two was a fun, double-date issue that saw Clark & Lois and Bruce & Selina going toe-to-toe at a funfair. This week, he has a much taller task with winning over Wonder Woman. Writer Tom King has really been on top of his game and the Bat/Cat romance angle has been far more interesting than I had expected.

The Indie One: Ice Cream Man #1

Publisher: Image
Words: W. Maxwell Prince
Art: Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran

What it is: Chocolate, vanilla, existential horror, drug addiction, musical fantasy…there’s a flavor for everyone’s misery. ICE CREAM MAN is a genre-defying comic book series featuring disparate ‘one-shot’ tales of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. Each installment features its own cast of strange characters, dealing with their own special sundae of suffering. And on the periphery of all of them, like the twinkly music of his colorful truck, is the Ice Cream Man-a weaver of stories, a purveyor of sweet treats. Friend. Foe. God. Demon. The man who, with a snap of his fingers-lickety split!-can change the course of your life forever.

Why we like it:  Slow week for indies. This is one of those horror anthology books that sounds a bit like Tales From the Crypt, if the Cryptkeeper was a middle-aged ice cream truck driver. I really don’t know what to expect from this series but it sounds so weird that I’m willing to give it a flip through at the stands.

The #1 One: Damage #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Robert Venditti
Art: Tony S. Daniel, Danny Miki

What it is: Tasked as the government’s own living, breathing, ticking time bomb, Ethan retains no control when the monster takes over. Cheaper than a nuclear warhead and twice as effective, Ethan fights to rein in the damage he unleashes when the beast inside him springs free for one hour a day. With everyone around him in danger, Ethan struggles to contain the DAMAGE he inflicts on the DC Universe. RATED T+

Why we like it: It’s the first appearance of DC’s newest anti-hero, a Hulk analog called Damage. Writer Robert Venditti did a great job re-launching X-O Manowar for Valiant and I think there’s some potential here.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Aquaman #32

Publisher: DC
Words: Dan Abnett
Art: Ricardo Federici
Cover Art: Joshua Middleton

What it is: ‘the crown comes down’ part two! As Aquaman’s resistance against King Rath gains momentum, a new kingpin of crime emerges from the Atlantean underworld-King Shark! But whose side is he on? He could be a powerful ally to the Undercurrent…or a dangerous new agent of evil! RATED T

Why we like it: Josh Middleton is just knocking these cover B’s out of the park. As an added bonus, the actual story inside hasn’t been half bad either. I can’t believe that I’m actually saying this, but I’m enjoying Aquaman.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – January 3, 2018

Happy new year comic book fans and welcome to the first episode of the 2018 Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Batman #38 (Coipel variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Travis Moore

What it is: “THE ORIGIN OF BRUCE WAYNE”! If Mattie could grow up to be anybody, he’d grow up millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. But what would happen if he was forced to relive the worst tragedy of Bruce’s life and his parents were murdered? Batman’s hunt for the killer puts him face to face with a strange mirror version of his own past.

Why we love it: Tom King’s Batman has surpassed Scott Snyder’s New 52 run in regards to expanding the Batman mythos without breaking the character, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. This week we look at Batman’s origin from a new angle, complete with a new villain. This book has been speculated on heavily and both covers are already sold out at Diamond, however villain first appearances typically don’t do as well as heroes in the secondary market so don’t go nuts trying to secure multiple copies on Wednesday.

 

The Mainstream One: Batman White Knight #4

Publisher: DC
Words and Art: Sean Murphy

What it is: Jim Gordon and the GCPD are thrown into disarray when Jack Napier leads a show stopping campaign to become councilman of the politically abandoned neighborhood of Backport. Civic backlash brews as Mayor Hill struggles to find creative ways of criminalizing Napier’s democratic aspirations, and Batman’s interference blooms into a liability for the GCPD’s public image. Through it all, the new Joker plots to derail everything-and new secrets about Harley’s past are revealed. RATED T+

Why we like it: There’s a new Joker in town, and it’s the new Harley… Didn’t follow me? Ok, exposition time.  Batman White Knight takes place in an alternate-ish DC Universe where the original Harley Quinn (aka Harleen Quinzel) left the Joker when she realized Joker couldn’t control his obsession with Batman. The Joker was so engrossed with defeating Batman that he didn’t even notice when a woman named Miriam Drews replaced Harleen as the new Harley Quinn. After being reformed through prescription meds, the Joker, now just Jack Napier, is reunited with Harleen Quinzel and the two start a new, normal-ish relationship, while Miriam Drews, furious at the Joker’s betrayal, assumes the mantle of Neo Joker. That’s her on the cover and the book is awesome, so read it.

 

The Indie One: Walking Dead #175 (Bill Sienkiewicz variant)

Publisher: Image
Words: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard

What it is: NEW STORY ARC ‘NEW WORLD ORDER,’ Part One NEW FRIENDS. NEW ENEMIES. NEW THREATS. IT’S A WHOLE NEW WORLD.

Why we like it: The Walking Dead shambles on with a new arc, which means new characters will be introduced. While the AMC TV show has lost a bit of its shine in the last few years, the series is still hugely popular. If any of the new characters introduced from this week’s issue appear on the show, you can be certain this comic will be sought after.  There’s an excellent Sienkiewicz variant that I will be on the lookout for come Wednesday.

 

The #1 One: Batman and the Signal #1 (of 3)

Publisher: DC
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: Cully Hamner

What it is: Batman may own the night, but with new villains emerging during the day he needs an ally to defend the city when he can’t. Only one teen is up to the challenge, Duke Thomas. After months of training, he’s ready to step out of the shadow of the bat to become his own kind of hero. Meet Gotham City’s newest protector: The Signal! Spinning out of adventures in ALL-STAR BATMAN and WE ARE ROBIN, comics superstar Scott Snyder and newcomer Tony Patrick take our young hero to new heights in this exciting miniseries with artwork by Cully Hamner.

Why we like it: Duke Thomas has been Batman’s protege for a few years but he’s still figuring out his place in the Batman universe. This week we get Duke headlining what was supposed to be his first, solo mini-series. Even the solicit says that he’s ready to step out of the shadow if the bat, so I don’t understand why the editors at DC still felt it necessary to name the series “Batman and the Signal”.

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Black Bolt #9

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Saladin Ahmed
Art: Christian Ward
Cover Art: Christian Ward

What it is: THE MIDNIGHT KING RETURNS TO EARTH PART 2. In an alien prison far from Earth, Black Bolt lost a friend and ally. Such is the life of heroes. But for those left behind, a noble death is little comfort. Far better to seek retribution – and Black Bolt is first in line! But he has more than angry loved ones to worry about. A corrupted version of Steve Rogers imprisoned and tormented his people. Is it time for the Midnight King’s revenge? Rated T+

Why we like it: I don’t know if this was done as an intentional swipe, but definitely getting a Hulk #340 vibe from this cover. Love the details, love the colors and love the composition.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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Comic Shop Talk: December 2017

Comic Shop Talk is a video blog dedicated to Comics, and pop culture talk including movies, television, books, and more.  Ken Lee is the author of our long-running comic blog The Crank File, Rob Goyer is our Cards and Counters game blog author, Tylor Hamel appears in many in-store livestreams and works at Great Stories Comics & Gaming, Wayne Demers is author of our very own The Dope Sheet movie blog, and Chris Mills is the owner of Great Stories. 

Greetings everyone, and welcome to another installment of Comic Shop Talk.

Our first video (Starring Ken, Rob, Wayne, and Chris) covers all things comics starting with DC, before getting into Marvel, and ending with a couple of Indie suggestions.  Check out the timestamps below.

0:00-13:05:  DC talk including Doomsday Clock, Dark Knights Metal, Batman: White Knight, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

13:06-34:48:  Marvel talk including many Legacy titles including Jean Grey, Doctor Strange, Punisher, Moon Knight, Astonishing X-Men, Spirits of Vengeance, and Monsters Unleashed. We also give some commentary on Marvel’s lenticular covers.

34:49-41:15:  Star Wars in Comics including talk about the Mace Windu limited series and the Darth Vader.

41:16-42:52:  A couple of quick Indie selections including Spawn and G. I. Joe for the prospectors.

Our second video covers our Pop Culture Talk, as Tylor joins the discussion!

0:00-14:00: We talk about The Punisher on Netflix.

14:01-16:24:  The immediate future of Marvel/Netflix cooperation and releases.

16:25-24:50:  We then delve into Thor:Ragnarok.

24:51-36:00:  We talk the Justice League movie.

36:01-43:30:  We talk a bit about the approach of DC and Marvel to their cinematic universes.

43:31-47:35:  We talk Marvel’s Inhumans (Disaster…Marvel is human!).

47:36-49:50:  A little talk about Agents of SHIELD.

49:51-51:20: We preview a bit of Hulu’s Runaways series.

51:21-1:01:47: We discuss some 2018 projects that are anticipated for both TV and film.

 

Write in to us with any suggestions you have for comic and pop culture topics for our next video!  You can reach us at [email protected]!  Thanks for watching!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – November 29, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out. It’s the dreaded fifth Wednesday of the month, when the big two phone it in with annuals and minis. You know the drill by now, it’s going to be a slow week for new books. But I’ll take a slow Wednesday over no Wednesday any time. Besides, there’s still good stuff to be read if you know where to look. I’m here to help.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Batman Annual #2

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Lee Weeks

What it is: Travel back in time with us to see the early days of the Bat and the Cat. What was Bruce and Selina’s first date? How did this rivalry blossom into romance, and then go right back to being a rivalry again? Tom King re-teams with his BATMAN/ELMER FUDD collaborator Lee Weeks to show us a little young love with capes and cowls. And a little crime fighting, too.

Why we love it: If you’re a regular here then you might already know that I absolutely adored Tom King and Lee Week’s Batman/Elmer Fudd book. It was hands down the best of the DC/Loony Tunes crossovers, which isn’t saying much in itself but I was raving about it to anyone who would listen. Well, the band’s back together this week with a $5 oversized annual, which isn’t the typical book that makes the list, let alone the top of it, but there is a LOT of buzz about this issue. Don’t expect the first appearance of a hot new character, or a book that skyrockets in value overnight, but be ready for one of the best, single-issue stories of the year. Do NOT sleep on this one.

 

The Mainstream One: Old Man Logan #31

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Ed Brisson
Art: Mike Deodato

What it is: THE SCARLET SAMURAI Part 1 Old Man Logan – the man who was Wolverine – is up against a foe like no other…the Hand! Logan’s past comes back to haunt him when a former love drags him into battle with the Hand, who have bolstered their forces like never before. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, Logan encounters the mysterious Scarlet Samurai! Will Logan be able to discover who she is and take down the Hand? Parental Advisory

Why we love it: Some of my favorite Wolverine stories take place in the Far East. There’s something about Logan’s sense of honor and penchant for blade violence that fits perfectly into the samurai/ninja genre. If you’ve never read an Ed Brisson comic, the best word I could use to describe them is “brutal”, which makes him the perfect writer for OML.

The Indie One: Spawn #280

Publisher: Image
Words: Darragh Savage
Art: Jason Shawn Alexander

What it is: Death. Destruction. And deception. Spawn piles as much pain as he can in his attempt to protect a young girl who very shortly will be a NEW SUPERHERO much stronger than Spawn himself.

Why we like it: I don’t keep up much with Spawn these days, but I always jump back in anytime there’s a new character. There are rumors that the new superhero is Cyan, and that’s reason enough for me to give this a flip through. Oh Spawn, I wish I knew how to quit you.

 

The #1 One: Mystik U #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Alisa Kwitney
Art: Mike Norton

What it is: Leave the world of the mundane behind and step through the magical doors of Mystik U! After a tragic accident, a young Zatanna Zatara, under the guidance of Rose Psychic, enrolls in a mysterious university that teaches its students how to master their unique brands of magic. Will Zatanna fit in with her new classmates (Enchantress, Sargon the Sorcerer, Faust and more!) and unlock her true potential? Find out in this exciting bimonthly miniseries from novelist Alisa Kwitney (DESTINY) and Mike Norton (Revival, Runaways)!

Why we like it: Zatanna is my girl and I believe it’s only a matter of time before she gets the live-action treatment. A Harry Potter-esque tale set in the DC universe sounds a little derivative but I could see this being a fun mini. Big fan of the Julian Tedesco cover.

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Vampirella #8

Publisher: Dynamite
Words: Jeremy Whitley
Art: Andy Belanger
Cover Art: Jorge Fornes

What it is: The perfect jumping on point for anyone who has been curious to try Vampirella! Join brand new creative team Jeremy Whitley (The Unstoppable Wasp, Avengers, Princeless) and Andy Belanger (Southern Cross, Swamp Thing, Black Church) as Vampi and Vicki emerge into a ruined wasteland that hates Vampirella for the unintended consequences of saving them. This Vampirella story has everything: a new adventure, new romance, and the return of a very old evil.

Why we like it: Jorge Fornes apes Jock on this stunning Vampirella cover. Not sure if this counts as a swipe, but I’m getting a strong Detective Comics 880 vibe here. Either way, totally baddass.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – November 1, 2017

Happy Halloween comic book fans! And welcome to an extra spooky episode of the Crank File. Actually I lied, there’s nothing the least bit horrifying out this week. They released it all last week. The only scary thing this week was the number of candy bars I ate while binge watching Stranger Things 2. 3 Musketeers 4 life. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Batman #34

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Joelle Jones

What it is: ‘Dream of Me’ part two! Batman is on a quest in the desert, far from his Gotham City home. His friends and allies think he’s gone crazy, and his mission puts him far outside the law. Waiting for him at the center of the chaos is an old enemy… and plenty of old demons.

Why we love it: Ok, so here’s what’s actually happening. A man is taking his fiance to meet his baby’s mama. Absurd, I know, but once you learn who the players are it sort of works. Joelle Jones’ artwork was brilliant last issue, can’t wait to see how she follows it up.

  

The Mainstream One: Batman White Knight #2

Publisher: DC
Words and Art: Sean Murphy

What it is: Public support for Batman dwindles and Gotham City’s 99 percent rally around ex-Joker Jack Napier’s crusade to expose decades of corruption within the GCPD. A proposition inspires new revelations about Harley and The Joker’s past; and as Jack transforms into a hero of the middle class and takes extreme measures to mobilize a revolutionary army of super-villains, Bruce struggles to stay focused on engineering a technological breakthrough to save Alfred.

Why we like it: Back to back bat books (say that 5 times fast). This is the second issue in a seven issue miniseries and here’s what’s actually happening here. Batman’s gone crazy and Joker’s gone sane and it’s game on. Murphy’s artwork is excellent as expected, his style is perfect for drawing the gritty streets of Gotham. Looking forward to this #2.

The Indie One: Paper Girls #17

Publisher: Image
Words: Brian K Vaughan
Art: Cliff Chiang

What it is: At last, the Paper Girls learn what the hell is going on. By Eisner Award-winning writer BRIAN K. VAUGHAN and artist CLIFF CHIANG, with colors by 2017 Eisner Award-winning colorist MATT WILSON.

Why we like it: So here’s what’s actually going on here… I actually have no idea what’s going on here either. I love that synopsis. What the hell is going on? It’s pure sci-fi bananas and I love it. Did you see that all the creators have won Eisners?? They all won Eisners for their work on this book. So yeah, it’s pretty good.

 

The #1 One: No. 1 With a Bullet #1

Publisher: Image
Words: Jacob Semahn
Art: Jorge Corona

What it is: ‘A sublime piece of futurism that is both entertaining in its absurdity and terrifying in its predictions.’–Clive Barker Her social media, strong. Her variety show segments, a hit. Nash Huang is at the top of her game. But when the iRis Shutter contact lens hits the market, Nash’s life is personally invaded. The latest leap forward in ‘technological progress,’ these contacts not only play video or augment reality…but also record footage. Fighting to keep her life together after a leaked sex tape goes viral, a clingy super-fan is the last thing on Nash’s mind…but that’s exactly when the bodies pile up and the terror begins. From the bestselling team that brought you GONERS, comes NO. 1 WITH A BULLET!

Why we like it: The #1 One is No. 1 With a Bullet #1. It’s actually not, it’s Grave Diggers Union #1 but that “number one” bit was just too good to not use.

  

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Captain America #695
(Ross lenticular variant)

Publisher: Marvel 
Words: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
Cover Art: Alex Ross

What it is: HOME OF THE BRAVE Part 1 HOME OF THE BRAVE begins – and Steve Rogers is back in action in the red-white-and-blue! Steve begins a journey across America to restore his tarnished reputation – and the dangers he encounters along the way are unlike any he’s faced before! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Rated T+

Why we like it: I love the cover art but I have not been impressed at all by Marvel’s lenticular covers.  I really wish they would offer a standard, non-lenticulating version of these Legacy covers because some of the swipes have been outstanding. Alex Ross here with an excellent swipe of Tales of Suspense #39.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – October 4, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Batman #32 (Coipel variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann

What it is: ‘THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES’ finale! This is the finale everyone will be talking about for years to come! In BATMAN #24, we gave you the question; in BATMAN #32, you get the answer. As the Riddler and The Joker desperately fight for supremacy in Gotham City, Batman reveals how far he had to go to end the war. Now, knowing Batman’s greatest sin, Catwoman must make her decision: Will she marry Batman?

Why we love it: 8 issues in the making, everyone’s waiting on edge for Selina’s answer to Bruce’s proposal. I just can’t see her saying yes.  Even if she does I don’t expect their marriage will last. These are comics that we are talking about here after all. I’m really more interested in seeing how the War of Jokes and Riddles plays out. This story arc has been fantastic and is without a doubt the pinnacle of Tom King’s run on Batman thus far.

  The Mainstream One: Batman White Knight #1 

Publisher: DC
Words and Art: Sean Murphy

What it is: In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City. He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ but ‘white knight’? Never. Until now… Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as ‘Jack,’ sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman! Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero-and which the villain?

Why we like it: Yes, you read that correct, the Joker must save Gotham from the Batman. Sean Murphy is one of my favorite comic creators. He’s a unique story teller and as an artist he’s like a man among boys. I haven’t seen much from Sean G since Tokyo Ghost concluded and I expect that he’s been pouring his heart into this twisted tale.

The Indie One: Extremity #7

Publisher: Image
Words and Art: Daniel Warren Johnson

What it is: NEW STORY ARC Thea and Rollo enter the Ancient Dark, where they are hunted by things that dare not live in the light above.

Why we like it: One of my favorite Image titles returns with a new arc. If you missed out on this one, the first 6 issues have been collected in trade paper back. I really can’t recommend this sci-fi, war drama enough. It’s got amazing art, multi-dimensional characters and stories that run you through the emotional gamut. Basically everything that makes for a great comic, Extremity delivers in spades.

  The #1 One: Slots #1

Publisher: Image
Words and Art: Dan Panosian 

What it is: NEW SERIES You can say this about the life of Stanley Dance: he did it his way. Unfortunately, his way never took getting old into account. Now, the former boxer is on his last legs, looking for redemption…but he’ll settle for going down swinging. Roll the dice with superstar artist DAN PANOSIAN as he creates a bold and breathtaking vision of Las Vegas, where everything old can become new, and superstition influences how the chips fall.

Why we like it: Dan Panosian is undeniably an incredibly talented artist. It will be interesting to see how he fares as a writer. After leaving comics for years to work in video games and advertising, Panosian returns to Image with a hard-boiled, crime story that he calls “a labor of love.”

  The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica #1 (Hughes variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Marc Andreyko, Paul Dini
Art: Laura Braga
Cover Art: Adam Hughes

What it is: Free college tuition for all Riverdale residents?! That’s the plan-after the town drains the wetlands that lie between it and Gotham City and then builds a new campus. The only snag? A certain botany-obsessed super-villain. When Poison Ivy enlists her bestie, Harley, to kidnap both Veronica Lodge, daughter of Riverdale’s most important citizen, and her friend Betty, she’s counting on some assistance-and the mayhem that ensues will probably work as well! DC Comics and Archie are proud to present the adventure of a lifetime for all these best pals. Their hijinks are brought to you by the real-life team-up of Paul Dini (HARLEY QUINN) and Marc Andreyko (WONDER WOMAN ’77), with art by Laura Braga (DC BOMBSHELLS)!

Why we like it: It’s no secret that I love me some Adam Hughes covers. It’s a regular price variant so you should be able to snag this beauty in the wild pretty easily on Wednesday. The fact that Paul Dini is co-writing this series is just icing on the cheesecake.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – September 20, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Black Hammer #13

Publisher: Dark Horse
Words: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dan Ormston

What it is: It was the greatest superhero event of all time, a multiversal crisis. Black Hammer, Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Barbalien, Colonel Weird, and even Madame Dragonflythey united to take down Anti-God, the ultimate evil, on the streets of Spiral City. For ten years, the former heroes have been living in exile. But a new arrival from the main timeline brought new hope. And maybe, finally, its time for them to relaunch . . .

Why we love it: Black Hammer has been one of my favorite reads and it’s appearance at the top of the pile has been a long time coming. This is a story of flawed super heroes who are inexplicably transported to a seemingly idyllic rural town. Life there is simple there, and peaceful, but our heroes are unable to leave, ever. How they were trapped there and why they were sent in the first place is still unknown, but the mystery is slowly unraveling and the story keeps getting more and more intriguing as it does. The scratchy artwork may turn some people off, but fans of Jeff Lemire will already be accustomed to it. Although the illustrations aren’t lush, crisp or highly detailed, they are stark and effectively convey the emotional drama which is the core of Black Hammer’s charm. Love the Death of Superman cover swipe too.

  The Mainstream One: Batman #31 (Tim Sale variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin

What it is: ‘THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES’ part five! It’s tough to beat the two biggest puzzlemakers in the world at their own game, and Batman’s gambits have only pulled him deeper into the moral quagmire where the Riddler and The Joker do their dirty work. All of Gotham City hangs in the balance as Batman faces the ultimate conundrum: are brainteasers better than belly laughs?

Why we like it: If you read last issue’s “Ballad of Kite-Man part 2” then you know that this Batman run is unlike any before. Writer Tom King recently stated in an interview that he hopes to do Batman for 100 issues and I’m all for it. The War of Jokes and Riddles wages on but the really surprising thing about this issue is that I’m actually liking the Tim Sale cover B.

The Indie One: Shirtless Bear Fighter #4

Publisher: Image
Words: Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner
Art: Mike Spicer, Nil Vendrell

What it is: With his home destroyed and his spirit broken, Shirtless must join forces with a hated enemy if he hopes to rise against Logger and his loyal army of chainsaw-wielding Lumber Louts! Don’t miss the pulse-pounding penultimate issue of SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER! 

Why we like it: The title pretty much says it all. But in case you needed more explanation for what this book is about, just take a look at that cover. Unapologetic, ridiculous fun.

  The #1 One: Dark Ark #1

Publisher: Image
Words: Cullen Bunn
Art: Juan Doe

What it is: NEW SERIES! The wickedness of mankind has moved the Creator to destroy the world by way of the flood. Noah has been tasked with building an ark to save his family and the animals of the world. But this is not Noah’s story. For darker powers have commanded the sorcerer Shrae to build his own ark and save the unnatural creatures of the world-such as the vampires, the dragons, the naga, and the manticore. But what will happen on a vessel crawling with monsters, where insidious intrigue and horrific violence are the rule of law? From writer Cullen Bunn (X-Men Blue, Deadpool, Venom) and artist Juan Doe (AMERICAN MONSTER, WORLD READER) comes a sinister tale of biblical proportions that HAD to be told at AfterShock Comics.

Why we like it: I had a hard time picking a #1 this week, so I fell back to an old staple: Cullen Bunn writing a horror title for an indie publisher. Love this premise that injects horror elements into a classic tale.

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Infamous Iron Man #11 (Venomized variant)

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Brian Bendis
Art: Stefano Caselli
Cover Art: Adi Granov

What it is: Riri Williams accidentally causes an international incident that may throw the entire world into chaos! So, you know, no big deal. The prologue to one of the biggest Iron Man stories in modern history!

Why we like it: When he’s on, Adi Granov’s covers stand among the best of this generation. Kneel before Venom von Doom! 

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – September 6, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. So long summer of 17, we hardly knew ye. I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Batman #30

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann

What it is: THE BALLAD OF KITE MAN’ part two! In our second ‘War of Jokes and Riddles’ interlude, it’s the making of a super-villain! He’s been pushed by Batman to snitch on The Joker, and cajoled by The Joker to betray Batman-now, the flunky who would be Kite Man finally snaps. He’s lost everything, and a life of crime is the only way to go.

Why we love it: How does a comic that features D-lister Kite Man make it to the top of the pile? Tom King, that’s how. He’s an absolute master at re-interpreting and revitalizing oddball characters and Batman villains don’t get much weirder than Kite Man. Maybe Crazy Quilt.

  The Mainstream One: Venomverse: War Stories #1

Publisher: Marvel
Words and Art: Various

What it is: Sure, you know about some of the adventures All-New Wolverine, Gwenpool, Ghost Rider, Old Man Logan and Deadpool went on with their symbiotes, but what about the rest?! Featuring a star-studded lineup of creators and characters, including – a VENOMIZED PUNISHER story written and drawn by Declan Shalvey! And the awesome adventures of VENOMIZED ROCKET RACCOON by Magdalene Visaggio!

Why we like it: Can I tell you a secret? I’m not that into this Venomverse event. I’m mostly just in it for the amazing Fracesco Mattina covers. The whole thing feels like a tired, retread of 2014’s Spiderverse event. I wonder whether Marvel is trying to catch lightning in a bottle and hoping that one of these venomized, mash-ups will resonate with fans. That’s why I’m picking War Stories this week over the main Venomverse series. Venomverse War Stories is a collection of shorts that each feature a different, venomized character. If one of those characters hits, we could be looking at an Edge of Spider-verse #2 type issue.

The Indie One: Walking Dead #171

Publisher: Image
Words: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard

What it is: FEAR THE PRINCESS: Who is she, and what does she want?

Why we like it: Walking Dead first appearances typically do well in the after market. If she ends up being a main character in the series, this issue could be sought after down the road. I stopped watching the show years ago but I keep reading the comics because it is still a really, really good read.

  The #1 One: Star Wars: Captain Phasma #1 (Mark Brooks variant)

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Kelly Thompson
Art: Marco Chechetto

What it is: As the excitement ramps up for this December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, come back with us to the final moments of The Force Awakens and the destruction of Starkiller Base to learn the fate of Captain Phasma! Captured by the Resistance and thrown into a garbage masher, we follow the chrome-adorned warrior from the site of the First Order’s biggest defeat to the doorstep of this holiday season’s biggest blockbuster! Written by Kelly Thompson (HAWKEYE, STAR WARS ANNUAL 2016) and drawn by Marco Checchetto (STAR WARS: SHATTERED EMPIRE, STAR WARS: SCREAMING CITADEL), Captain Phasma will recondition you to love Star Wars again!

Why we like it: I wasn’t the only one who thought that Captain Phasma was grossly under-utilized in The Force Awakens. Much like Bobba Fett, Captain Phasma showed up with the coolest outfit in the galaxy, spoke a couple of unessential lines before being dumped unceremoniously down a garbage chute. She deserved better, and now she’s getting it. Marco Checchetto is doing the drawing here and he’s quickly become one of my favorite pencilers in the biz. This should give you Star Wars junkies your fix until The Last Jedi drops at the end of the year.

  The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Green Lantern #30 (Brandon Peterson variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Sam Humphries
Art: Carlo Barberi
Cover Art: Brandon Peterson

What it is: ‘OUT OF TIME’ part five! Jessica, Simon and the first seven bearers of green rings face Volthoom in the past as he holds the Guardians of the Universe hostage. As Lantern after Lanten falls, is there any chance of stopping the First Lantern from rewriting reality?

Why we like it: A lot of great cover art out this week but this cover B variant stood out to me. It looks like something right out of a Tool music video. I wonder if Brandon Peterson is also a fan of Alex Grey.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – August 16, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out. It’s looking like a monster week with so many good books out this week. While this is great news to me as a fan, it was not an easy week to make picks. This week’s list required a lot of deliberation and a lot of good books didn’t make the cut. These are the books that did:

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

 

The Top of the Pile: Totally Awesome Hulk #22

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Greg Pak
Art: Robert Gill

What it is: ‘WEAPONS OF MUTANT DESTRUCTION’ PART SIX! The Weapon X program’s twisted head scientists have finally completed their magnum opus! Now BATCH H is awake, and it’s MAD AS HELL. Rated T

Why we love it: Batch H makes its debut in the final issue to Weapons of Mutant Destruction. Reading the solicits for Weapon X, this Hulk/Wolverine/cyborg hybrid could be sticking around for a while even after WMD wraps. We get our first good look at him here with another totally awesome cover by Stonehouse.

The Mainstream One: Batman #29

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin

What it is: ‘THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES’ part five! Batman has done his best to keep the peace, but with neither faction backing down, he may have to choose the lesser of two evils if he wants the violence to end. Will Batman embrace the murderous anarchy of The Joker or the bloody fascism of the Riddler? If he wants to win, he’ll have to choose a side-and either way, he loses.

Why we like it: My guess is that Barman doesn’t embrace either and plays both the Riddler and Joker for chumps and wins. But that’s just my guess. Great series, another of Tom King’s slow burners that is heating up quick.

 

The Indie One: Descender #23

Publisher: Image
Words: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen

What it is: ‘RISE OF THE ROBOTS,’ Part Two The new DESCENDER event explodes as Tim-21 makes his daring escape from the clutches of the Hardwire. Meanwhile Andy, Effie, and Bandit are taken prisoner by the UGC until one of them shockingly turns traitor. And deep below the ocean planet of Mata, the final fate of Telsa is revealed.

Why we like it: Rise of the Robots started off with a blast, throwing us some major league plot twists punctuated by deep space action. I can’t wait for the Harvesters to start showing up, and it seems like we could be seeing them sooner than later.

The #1 One: Dark Knights Metal #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo

What it is: The superstar BATMAN team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo reunite for a massive, universe-spanning event! DARK NIGHTS: THE FORGE and THE CASTING hinted at dark corners of reality that have never been seen till now! Now, as DARK DAYS: METAL begins, the Dark Multiverse is revealed in all its devastating danger-and the threats it contains are coming for the DC Universe! DARK DAYS: METAL is a DC event unlike any other-one that will push Batman, Superman and heroes of the Justice League beyond their limits to take on threats unlike any our world has ever seen! It will take the combined might of the World’s Greatest Heroes as you’ve never seen them before to face what’s coming their way!

Why we like it: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo reunited on Batman and it feels so good. I haven’t been overly enthusiastic about this series outside of the creative team, but recent rumors have been hinting at a crossover with Vertigo’s Sandman universe at the end of issue 1. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was released through Vertigo during the late 80’s/early 90’s and is hands down my favorite book of all time, comic or otherwise, so I’m adequately pumped for Metal. There’s a special midnight release Capullo variant cover that I like better than the regular Capullo cover, so I guess it’s going to be a late night.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Aquaman #27

Publisher: DC
Words: Dan Abnett
Art and cover art: Stjepan Sejic

What it is: ‘UNDERWORLD’ part three! Aquaman lives! Threatened by the return of Atlantis’ natural-born ruler, King Rath accelerates his plan to scrub the sunken city of all its ancient magical treasures-but why is he stockpiling magic? Whatever the reason, Rath will need all the firepower he can get when Mera breaks through the barrier surrounding the city!

Why we like it: In an unexpected twist, Stjepan Sejic’s cover A for Aquaman gets the nod over the Josh Middleton cover B. One of the better Mera covers I’ve seen in a while. With her character appearing in both the upcoming Aquaman and Justice League movies, a lot of eyes will be turning to the Queen of Atlantis.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!