Welcome to Comics Wire, SYFY WIRE's weekly comics column that gets at the pulse of what's going on in comics right now. We've got what you need to know about huge crossovers, real-life issues facing the industry, cool first looks, the week's hot new comics, and everything in-between.
Mike Mignola is one of the most fascinating creators working in comics right now, an artist who built a reputation with his distinctive style and then parlayed his fascination with folklore and monsters into a supernatural storytelling empire that persists to this day. Mignola's one of those guys whose name alone can sell a comic, and his gift for storytelling has made not just a beloved creator to legions of fans, but an inspiration to both his peers and creators who've followed in his footsteps. Now, all of that will be chronicled in a new feature documentary.
Earlier this week Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters lauched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the remainder of its production and bring the film to distribution by next year. Directed by Emerald City Comic Con founder Jim Demonakos and Clockwork Girl filmmaker Kevin Hanna, the film will combine new interviews and drawing demonstrations with Mignola himself with footage from comics conventions and never-before-seen interviews with Mignola's collaborators, friends, and admirers. Check out the trailer below:
Among the big names contributing to the documentary: Adam Savage, Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar, Sandman creator Neil Gaiman, Hellboy collaborator Duncan Fegredo, comics creators Vita Ayala and Joe Quesada, and, as Demonakos announced Tuesday, Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro. It's a stellar list of interview subjects, as well as a major testatment to just how big of an impact Mignola's work has had on the landscape of not just comics, but fantasy storytelling in general over the last 30 years.
Honestly, the news of this documentary took me slightly by surprise, because Mignola hasn't always been the flashiest guy in comics and therefore perhaps didn't strike me as someone who'd want a film made about himself and his work. He's happy to talk about his work, but one of the reasons I'm a fan is the way he seems so devoted to the work itself beyond the branding built up around the work. That he's willing to open up to fans like this, and that so many of his peers are coming along for the right, is both surprising and delightful to me, and I'm eager to see the final product.
What doesn't surprise me is that the film has already pulled in more than three times its fundraising goal on Kickstarter in just two days, so this is absolutely happening. If you want in on the project, head over to Kickstarter and back it. You can get a digital copy of the film for 30 bucks, and a whole host of other goodies (including art) if you're willing to spend more.
Deadpool celebrates 30 years with a new series
Deadpool turns 30 this year, and you had to know that Marvel was going to go bigger for Wade Wilson's celebration than just a few fun variant covers. Over the course of the 30 decades, the Merc with the Mouth has proven himself to be one of the most versatile characters in the publisher's arsenal, able to go as light or as dark as the situation requires with ease, provided the creative team was willing to commit to his particular quirks. Now, Deadpool's versatility will be on even greater display as he stars in a brand-new anthology series.
Marvel announced late last week that Deadpool: Black, White, and Blood will join the ranks of the Black, White and Blood line that already includes a Wolverine series and will soon include a Carnage series. Each issue of the book, which is set to drop this summer, will feature all-star creative teams turned loose on Wade Wilson's unique set of talents, resulting in what could be the wildest collection of Deadpool stories you're ever likely to read. So far we don't have any contributor names (apart from Declan Shalvey, who drew the cover art above), but we'll likely hear more about that soon.
There's been no shortage of great Deadpool stuff at Marvel over the last few years, but I'm particularly excited about this series because it seems like a tailor-made format for Wade to shine in. He's a character who really can fit into just about any story if given the chance, and the anthology format means that all manner of creators will get to just go for broke with their idea of what a Deadpool adventure can be. I'll be ready to read when Deadpool: Black, White, and Blood debuts in August.
More news: Infinite Frontier expands, Out of Body, Vault's distribution deal, and more!
- We've already seen a lot of announcements for DC's just-launched Infinite Frontier era, including everything from a new creative team on Justice League to a new Swamp Thing series to Titans Academy and Gotham, but on Tuesday alone DC revealed two more major pieces of what's to come. The publisher announced that the high-powered team of writer Tom King and artist Bilquis Evely will launch Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, an eight-issue series that marks the first major solo outing for Kara Zor-El in quite some time, and is particularly interesting considering what Supergirl was up to during Future State. That arrives on June 15, and hot on its heels will be Infinite Frontier #1, the first part of a six-issue series spinning out of the events of this week's Infinite Frontier #0 from the team of writer Joshua Williamson and artist Xermanico. If you haven't read Infinite Frontier #0 yet (and as you'll soon read, you really should), then you might not realize it yet, but big things are happening with the overarching story laid out there, and I can't wait to see how they all play out this June.
- If you're after cool new comics news outside of the Big Two, AfterShock Comics has you covered with the announcement of Out of Body, a "weird, occult detective thriller about life, death – and whatever lies in between" from writer Peter Milligan (Happy Hour) and artist Inaki Miranda (We Live). That creative team alone is enough to sell me, but then we get to the concept: A man clinging to life who can't move or talk but can astrally project himself sets out to discover who tried to kill him before his life support is turned off and he loses any chance at solving the puzzle. Oh, and there's a demon who might be Dorian Gray? Out of Body launches June 2, and you can find out more right now at AfterShock's website.
- Shifting away from new series and into broader publishing news, this week also brought with it the announcement that Vault Comics — publisher behind hits like Vagrant Queen, Money Shot, The Autumnal, The Plot, and more — has launched a global distribution agreement with Simon and Schuster, basically ensuring their acclaimed genre comics will be more widely available at bookstores around the world. Direct market comics distribution will still be handled by Diamond, but this means that if you've been trying to convince your local bookseller to stock Vault trades, they'll be able to start ordering them through S&S beginning May 1. It's a great expansion for a great publisher.
- We don't always dig super deep into the Inside Baseball of comics publishing here at Comics Wire, often because we're busy talking about the stories themselves, but it's still very much worth digging into whenever possible, particularly when you can hear from experienced people who've seen how the sausage is made. That's why I was fascinated by this new ComicsXF piece from Undone by Blood co-writer Lonnie Nadler, who laid out how he sees the current comics market as it pertains to long-form storytelling, the increasing popularity of "anthology" comics, and how it's affected his own work and the work of his peers. If you're curious why certain comics are releasing the way they are right now, it'll definitely scratch that itch, and it might get you thinking a little more deeply about how you're shopping for the books you're reading.
New comics this week: Infinite Frontier #0, Nocterra #1, and more!
That's the news. Now let's talk about some of the comics I got excited about this week.
Infinite Frontier #0: At long last, the much-hyped Infinite Frontier era of DC Comics is here, and with it comes this oversized introductory issue that, we now know, is also the launching pad for a new Infinite Frontier miniseries that will expand on the elements laid out in this single issue. Perhaps because of that looming miniseries, with Infinite Frontier #0 we get something that feels, happily, much less like an exposition-laden primer for new readers and more like a real story with real stakes.
A roster of DC all stars led by heavy hitters like Joshua Williamson, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joelle Jones, David Marquez, Jorge Jimenez and more set out to do something truly ambitious with this issue, providing not just a framework for what's to come but a sense of real narrative direction. The issue as a whole functions as a kind of guided tour of DC's new, constantly expanding multiverse, with Wonder Woman as the audience anchor point. Centering Diana, particularly after the events of Dark Nights: Death Metal, makes a lot of sense, and while there are certainly chunks of exposition laced throughout the issue, it also adds a layer of heart that only she could provide, something each writer and artist weaving through this narrative feels quite aware of and eager to capitalize.
Even beyond Diana's place at the core of this story, though, the most successful part of Infinite Frontier #0 might be how clearly the respective creative teams lay out the sense of an actual frontier forming at the vanguard of the DC Universe. So many issues of this kind are so focused on catching readers up or laying down boilerplate guideposts that they forget to create a sense of honest narrative momentum. Here, whether we're talking about the future of The Flash or Alan Scott's fate as an elder statesman of the DC Universe (something I was particularly invested in) or Jon Kent's place in the House of El or what exactly those mysterious new planets are all about, there's a sense that something is not just being set up, but built as you read. We don't have to wait for the frontier because the frontier is already here, and if the rest of the issue doesn't convince you of that, the last page definitely will.
Nocterra #1: Sometimes you come across something with a great concept that takes a few issues to really get a good grip on its story. Other times you find something with a good story that takes a few issues to really get a good grip on its worldbuilding. Getting it all right from the jump is a tough balancing act, but Scott Snyder is one of those writers who always feels like he can pull it off, and Nocterra is yet more proof of that. Scripted by Snyder with art by Tony S. Daniel, Nocterra is a combination of high-concept genre bombast, tension-laden road story, and deeply emotional survival horror that beautifully balances each of those elements for a dynamite first-issue.
Set in a world where the sun's been out for a decade and exposure to the unending darkness turns any living thing into a monster, Nocterra follows Val Riggs, a "ferryman" who's become adept at transporting people from outpost to outpost in a world that feels increasingly overrun with dark creatures known as "shades." Val is very good at what she does, but the job's not getting any easier. In fact, Val's just landed the drive of her life, one that could put her in the dark for good if she makes a wrong move.
Snyder's script establishes all of this with a sense of tremendous narrative economy in an issue that practically flies by from cover to cover. There are no rest stops on this hard ride through the dark, and yet he somehow still manages to make time for flashbacks and narration and a few emotional gut punches along the way without ever losing the sense of tension persisting through the book. And as for the art...well, years of drawing Gotham City has honed Daniel's gift for visible darkness, and he's at the top of his game here. From his monster designs to his layouts of human cities turned into hubs of artificial light, he's nailed this world. This is one 2021 debut you don't want to miss out on.
America Chavez: Made in the U.S.A. #1: As a Young Avengers fan, I'm always happy for more America Chavez, but even with her recent appearances in mind there's been a sense that she could be doing more. With Made in the U.S.A., writer Kalinda Vazquez and artist Carlos Gomez are given that opportunity in the form of a solo series that zeroes in on not just what America can do, but who she is.
What I was immediately struck by reading this comic is how well-balanced it is, both tonally and in terms of structure. Very often first issues will focus so much on the hook, on the big cliffhanger final page that gets you to buy issue #2, that they lose a little bit of the emotional resonance later issues will pick up on, but that doesn't happen here. Vazquez's script moves deftly from past to present, inner life to outer turmoil, as it charts the course of America's emotional and physical battles. We see a hero struggling, but we also see a hero maintaining her swagger. We see a young woman who knows exactly who she is and a young woman who feels like she's perhaps lost a part of herself. It's a delicate dance, but the issues maintains it throughout. Gomez's art, which packs some of my favorite panels of America in action ever, is equal to the task of this tonal balance. There's great comedy on the page, but also great emotional resonance, and by the time the issue is over, there's sense of genuine narrative tension setting up what comes next. Longtime America fans and newcomers alike should be picking this one up.
BRZRKR #1: The comic that set Kickstarter records last year is finally here for the general public to pick up, which of course begs the question: Does BRZRKR live up to all the hype that drove its massive campaign? The short answer is yes, whether you're a Keanu Reeves superfan or just someone craving an ultraviolent comic that's as much about incredible action storytelling as it is about the persistence of violence throughout the human condition.
The first issue of BRZRKR features almost no dialogue, and instead relies on a persistent narration from our protagonist, the titular Berzerker, as he powers through yet another mission on behalf of masters who've promised him that if he just keeps going, keeps pushing through the brutality a little longer, he'll finally get answers for why his life has been so long. Writers Matt Kindt and Reeves choose their words carefully, building a John Wick-style emotional lattice on which to hang the various action sequences unfolding through the book, painting a grammatically lean but emotionally devastating picture of a man who only wants to lay down his arms one day.
The rest of the issue, beyond this effective emotional backdrop, is a showcase for artist Ron Garney to just run wild on the page just as the Berzerker runs wild through his latest series of targets. Despite what the history of comics might have you believe, laying down 30 straight pages of brutal action is not just a shortcut to get readers to pay attention. There's an art to it, a sense of character and tension that you need to maintain no matter how good the violence itself actually looks, and through a combination of clever pacing and well-timed action inventiveness, Garney pulls it off. The result is a thrilling, brutal book that's primed for something bigger in issues to come.
Undone by Blood: The Other Side of Eden #1: The crime series Undone by Blood returns this week with a new volume and a new story that's rooted in the same narrative principles and passions as the first volume. This time around, writers Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson and artist Sami Kivela are taking us to Texas in the 1930s, where a postal worker is plotting a heist centered on the first skyscraper in the state while simultaneously delving into a pulp novel starring gunslinger Solomon Eaton, a novel about a heist gone wrong...
Once again, Nadler and Thompson's script beautifully juxtaposes the world of Eaton's fictional exploits (another of his pulp tales was front and center in the first Undone by Blood volume) with the "real" world of Silvano, the postman who's plotting the job that, if properly executed, will solve his problems. It's a narrative technique that's less about comparing the two heists as they unfold and more about the relationship between fiction and our own emotional states as humans, something that's very difficult to convey when half of the juxtaposition is, in fact, another piece of fiction. Somehow, they once again pull it off, and the result is a phenomenal exploration of how stories shape us. Throw in Kivela's gorgeous art, which moves seamlessly between eras, characters, and tones, and you've got another must-read installment of Undone by Blood.
And that's it for Comics Wire this week. Until next time, remember what John Custer told his son Jesse in the pages of Preacher:
"You gotta be one of the good guys, son: 'Cause there's way too many of the bad."