Fri, 22 Jul 2016 21:41:53 +0000 en hourly 1 Batman #3 Fri, 22 Jul 2016 16:02:04 +0000 Writer: Tom King 
Artist: David Finch 
Publisher: DC 

Coming off the heels of one of the most iconic runs of Batman of all time, Tom King and David Finch are doing a stellar job of upholding the character’s legacy. This issue in particular pays homage to Scott Snyder without it feeling like a total retread of what we’ve already seen. Snyder always wrote great narrations that added to the story rather than distracted from it, and here King delivers some really engaging text as Batman describes the inexplicable effect Gotham City has on its residents. It fits given that this issue explores the origins of the new crime fighting duo of Gotham and Gotham Girl.

That said, this one does focus more on their past than it does on the present, which is fine as it provides good subtext for the rest of this arc. Just like Snyder introduced The Court of Owls back at the beginning of his run in 2011, King was smart to kick off the whole Rebirth title with new characters as well. I’m eager to see where Gotham and Gotham Girl’s stories will go and if they’ll remain as heroes. Given Batman’s tendency to develop ideological conflicts and his general reluctance toward working with others, I think this story could go in any direction.

Finch’s pencils offer that classically noir, stylish aesthetic appropriate for the story’s tone. The way in which the art embodies the spirit of Gotham, even in an issue with limited action, is plenty for fans who were disappointed to see Greg Capullo leave along with Snyder. Rest easy knowing that DC picked the right creative team to step into their shoes. Oh and did I mention that Hugo Strange as the villain of this series has me geeking out? So yeah, get on over to Ultimate and pick up this book.

-KEVIN SCHAEFER for Ultimate Comics

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The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:01:05 +0000 Written by Simon Oliver
Art by Moritat
Published by DC Comics

A few days after news leaked that John Constantine may find new life on the CW’s successful superhero shows, DC launches the Rebirth issue for this incorrigible magical con man. This Hellblazer character has a reputation for being among the smartest dark fantasies in comic books, but my only exposure to him has been a couple of guest spots in DC books where the heroes get stuck in bad magic or the first few issues of his New 52 run, which didn’t grab me. So I approached this Rebirth issue hoping for a broad introduction and a clever magical con job.
And that’s exactly what I got.
Simon Oliver knows that readers don’t need to know everything about Constantine to enjoy Hellblazer – the character has been around for decades, with books in DC and Vertigo publishing lines, and it’s going to be a bear to catch up on all of his misadventures. So this writer just assumes you need to know that John Constantine is a magician, a Brit, and an unrepenting jerk. He drops a few hints about tragic family backstory and guilt about a mistake in his early career, but it’s utterly unimportant to enjoying the story.
The plot is that Constantine conned his way out of getting his soul collected a few years ago, and now he’s setting up a game putting every soul in London at risk to get his soul out of danger again. Like any good Rebirth issue, the whole affair wraps up at the end of the issue, leaving the reader feeling satisfied. The mechanics of it all are a little hard to follow, but Moritat’s visuals are lovely, especially the way a stream of red letters weaves around key elements of the spells in play.
This book is a perfect jumping-on point for people who’ve heard of Constantine but are scared to invest so much in getting to know him. Once you’ve finished, ask the staff at Ultimate Comics where to learn more – the store in Chapel Hill has the entire original run of Hellblazer in trade. Best wishes for his television rebirth as well.

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Millarworld Annual #1 Thu, 14 Jul 2016 12:06:25 +0000 Various Creators
Publisher: Image

A year ago, Mark Millar launched a contest which was specifically designed to seek out new comic book creator talents. Thousands of writers and artists across the globe submitted stories set within the worlds of Millar’s creator-owned books like Kick-Ass, Chrononauts, Starlight, etc., and the winners would get theirs published in a special annual collection. The Millarworld Talent Search took the comic book world by storm, and now the book is finally here. And what a beauty it is to behold.

The annual contains six short stories, opening with a delightfully entertaining Chrononauts piece by writer Shaun Brill and artist Conor Hughes. Prom Night features Danny returning to the scene of his high school prom, and trying to get his younger self to hook up with a hot girl. This of course has ramifications which require more time-travel and correction, and Danny interacting with another version of himself. It’s a fun tale which effectively captures the tone of Millar and Sean Gordon-Murphy’s absurdist miniseries, while also exemplifying the uniqueness of the short comic format.

We then move on to a Batman and Robin-esque Kick-Ass story called Blindsided, in which Dave pairs up with a young street-level amateur. Writer Ricardo Mo sets up an interesting dynamic with these characters and keeps the plotting concise, while artist Ifesinachi Orjiekwe delivers exquisitely fluid pencils. It’s another fun, engaging story that fits in well with the Kick-Ass universe, while setting itself apart from John Romita Jr.’s distinctive designs.

Yet after two lighthearted stories, the book takes an ultra-gritty turn with Undeath, a story from Millar and Peter Gross’ seminal supernatural series American Jesus. Written by my buddy Cliff Bumgardner and with stellar visuals by artist Steve Beach, this one is a captivating display of psychological horror. Taking place during the iconic third issue of the series when Jodie saves the life of his priest’s dog, this event causes all death to cease for several moments. Bumgardner examines how this effects people across the globe, and how the horrors that stem from an unexplainable occurrence leave their mark. Beach’s pencils are equally grim and disturbing, and the way this story adds to Millar and Gross’ mythos makes it a must-read for fans of the cult comic.

Next, writer Philip Huxley and artist Myron Macklin give readers a fun Kingsman story with Mum’s The Word. Now, this is the only series on here I haven’t yet read, but I’ve seen the movie and am familiar with its James Bond-esque style. Huxley and Macklin capture the sheer adrenaline of this universe well with a tale about Eggsy visiting his Mom, but having to first take down a bad guy in the middle of their living room while his Mom is fixing dinner in the kitchen. It’s a simple, stylistic short which keeps its momentum going throughout. Huxley’s dialogue is particularly sharp and clever, while Macklin’s pencils are highly cinematic and coincide well with the fast-paced tone of the story.

With its ending beautifully capturing the sentimental nuances of Duke McQueen’s character, the Starlight story Duke McQueen’s Greatest Adventure is the most touching one here. Writer Deniz Camp and artist Pracheta Banerjee chronicle a conversation between Duke and his grandkids as he tells them stories of some of his most daring feats when he was an intergalactic guardian. There are saber fights and narrow escapes, all building up to an emotional climax which I’d rather not spoil. Camp nicely balances the present-day dialogue with the flashbacks, and likewise Banerjee’s gorgeous pencils pay homage to Goran Parlov’s blend of realism and pulpy escapism in the original series.

Finally the Hit-Girl story Mindy’s ABCs executes a humorous, inexplicably clever concept. As Mindy goes through the alphabet, you can imagine that the words she picks to match with each letter are a little different and darker than “A is for Apple.” As she uses words associated with the dismemberment of her enemies, we see the action play out in the same kind of Kill Bill style that you’d expect from any Hit-Girl story. Writer Mark Abnett and artist Ozgur Yildirim give it their own weirdly Disney-esque style, while injecting it with plenty of graphic violence and quippy narration from the titular protagonist.

This is a book you really don’t want to miss, and you can get yours signed at the Ultimate Comics in Raleigh on Saturday by the creators of the American Jesus story.

-kevin Schaefer for Ultimate Comics

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Nightwing Rebirth #1 Wed, 13 Jul 2016 18:40:03 +0000 Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Yanick Paquette
Published by DC Comics

DC Rebirth has been great so far. Ask anyone at the Ultimate Comics register, or read some of my previous reviews. The idea is that DC is going back to the mythology of its legendary characters and making approachable stories about what makes them so remarkable. Batman solved an exciting mystery. The Justice League teamed up to punch a giant bug monster. Aquaman managed not to embarrass himself. But what do people want out of a Nightwing story?

Nightwing is a character in a uniquely DC place. This is a publisher that trades in legacy and sidekicks, and Dick Grayson has done this in inimitable style. The shortest summary I can give is that he’s a circus trapeeze artist who became Batman’s first Robin after her parents were killed. Decades later, he struck out on his own under the Nightwing identity, but he came back to be Batman when Bruce Wayne was unavailable. When he was presumed dead, he hid his identity and became superspy Agent 37. And most recently, he has joined the villainous Parliament Of Owls to save his own former Robin. So his story has been about learning from the best, then incorporating that into your own identity, and maintaining a healthy connection to your past.

So instead of getting the straightforward jumping-on point treatment we saw in Batman Rebirth, Tim Seeley’s Nightwing issue is all about putting the toys back in the box. Spoiler, Nightwing isn’t going to put his costume on until the final page. Instead, we get an issue of him saying goodbye to old continuity. He touches base with beloved supporting characters like Huntress and Midnighter to make sure everything is cool in the spy world before he launches his next adventure, trying to do some good within the organization of the Owls. He has some warm character beats with Bruce and Damian Wayne that pay off open stories there, too.

While the other Rebirth issues have been prologues, this one is an epilogue, and it might be hard to follow for people who haven’t been reading Dick Grayson’s recent appearances. But it’s a thoughtful exploration of what change means to this character, to the way we stay true to our core despite changes in life situations, and it’s a stellar book. Come pick this up, and ask the staff at Ultimate Comics to help you catch up on Dick Grayson. Three quarters of his Grayson title (where he is a spy) have been collected in trade paperback, and if you liked this issue, you’re sure to love them, too.

-Matt Connor for Ultimate Comics

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Justice League Rebirth #1 Wed, 06 Jul 2016 19:22:00 +0000 Written and Drawn by Bryan Hitch
Published by DC Comics

The Justice League punches big monsters. It’s just what they do. And under Bryan Hitch, the Reborn version of the League gets to keep doing what they do best.

The main story of the book is straightforward and classic, holding the main ideas of DC’s Rebirth approach of showcasing what makes their characters so legendary. A giant bug monster descends on New York City and wreaks havoc among a frightened populace, playing to Hitch’s blockbuster reputation. Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Flash fight it as a team, but they’re not sure if they can trust the new Superman (a transplant from another universe, taking a spot after the death of the New 52 Superman) or either of the new Green Lanterns (the former villain Power Ring and the Middle Eastern Green Lantern).

Justice League is the tentpole of the DC Universe, bringing all the icons to the shared table. It needs to be able to tell stories to the people who are only reading that title, but it also has to respect people who are in because they’re already reading the Superman books. Bryan Hitch has a tough time balancing this, even with a decent structure of flashbacks and cutaways from the monster fight to show Diana mourning her boyfriend or Lois Lane encouraging her Superman to take his place on the League and stop trying to get them back to their home reality. The more familiar reader of DC Rebirth will get more out of this book, but a casual fan like me can still follow along and just focus on the punching and zapping.

DC Rebirth has been a great endeavor so far, highlighting the joy and courage of the DC line and shaking off the gloomy muck of the past decade of publishing. If you haven’t dipped a toe in yet, this book is a great start. When you come to Ultimate Comics to get your copy, talk to the staff about where else you can get your favorite characters, as they probably already have their own Rebirth issue on the stands by now. Enjoy this bright new day, DC fans.

-Matt Conner for Ultimate Comics

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Zoe Dare versus the Disasteroid #1 Sat, 02 Jul 2016 02:24:31 +0000 Writer: Brockton McKinney
Artist: Andrew Herman
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

I have to say, when I heard that my friend Brockton McKinney was writing an all-ages book, I was a bit taken aback. After all, this is the same man who brought us the wildly irreverent and blood-soaked sci-fi/horror series Ehmm Theory, as well as the new and equally violent Gingerdead Man comic. Could this master of horror and obscure B-movies deliver a story that kids could enjoy as well as adults? Fortunately, it’s a testament to McKinney’s versatility as a writer that he’s able to do this so flawlessly.

In Zoe Dare versus the Disasteroid, the titular protagonist is a world-renowned daredevil, whose talents lead to her being recruited for a top-secret, world-saving kind of mission. As an asteroid hurtles toward Earth, Agent Tarney Winfield (note: these are the last names of two of the gents who run Ultimate Comics) needs Zoe to alter its course. Eager to follow in the footsteps of her Jackie Chan-acolyte father, and working alongside her sister Danni and a pair of AI robots, Zoe accepts Winfield’s offer. Meanwhile, we also get a glimpse of the extraterrestrials looming in the background, who are the real threat here.

Story-wise, McKinney does a great job introducing us to Zoe and Danni in the first act. Both are characters who we can relate to, and whose interactions with each other feel organic and entertaining. Plus it’s an added bonus that the robots which Danni genetically engineered provide great comic relief; think Gabe’s pet cat Mr. Whispers in Ehmm Theory, but kid-friendly. Then in the second half Agent Winfield enters to set the stage for the rest of the series. Here, we also meet Zoe’s overtly cocky rival Race Thunderbuckler. All of this flows nicely, providing just the right amount of exposition for a first issue.

The art is also really interesting, as there’s a certain level of realism to it. While it’s still very much an adventurous story, with the opening pages even reminding me a bit of Speed Racer, Herman makes these characters more nuanced and detailed with his pencils, a contrast to the cartoonish aesthetic of McKinney’s other books. It’s almost like a cross between an 80s sci-fi movie and a modern one, which works great. If you love a good space adventure comic which combines aliens with Mad Max-esque action, get on over to Ultimate and buy this book.

-Kevin Schaefer for Ultimate Comics

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Hillbilly #1 Thu, 30 Jun 2016 16:20:15 +0000 Writing and art by Eric Powell
Published by Albatross Funnybooks
“There is but two facts of which I am sure. Today is Tuesday, and a witch is gonna die.”

Eric Powell is famous for long-running horror series The Goon, but this week, he’s expanding his publishing line with the dark Appalachian fairy tale, Hillbilly.

In this story, a blind mountain man named Rondel rescues a village boy from the local witch, and the guys swap stories on the way back to town. Young James has a pointedly generic story about a blessed child leading an army, but Rondel has a darker, more personal piece.

Powell’s story is a simple one, a young blind man wronged by witches and vowing revenge. The strength of this comic is in his mastery of the setting and tone. Each character in his book has a distinct voice, but almost all of them use the mountain cadence and word choice that lock this into place. “As sweet as those strawberries you done eat.” “Rondel freed the animal, but turned out, it were no animal. It were Mamie the witch who took the form of a crow.” It’s thoughtful and poetic rather than poking fun at the Hillbillies. It’s a celebration of an old American culture. But this realism is spun just a bit out of the borders as monsters and magic sneak into the panels. A wild hog is absurdly large, a bear can speak, and the townsfolk casually mention flying serpents as garden pests. Powell’s unmistakable art is amazing at normalizing the weird, and that pays off here.

Come over to Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, pick this up, and if you’ve enjoyed the style, check out the selection of The Goon comics, too. Let Eric Powell weird your normal day up a little bit.
-Matt Conner for Ultimate Comics

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The Flash #1 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 13:27:07 +0000 Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Publisher: DC

In terms of selecting the right creative team, DC could not have done a better job with the new Flash title. Between Williamson’s script and Giandomenico’s stellar visuals, this is the perfect modern Flash comic; one that builds on everything that’s come before, and provides readers with an exciting new story.

As Barry Allen wrestles with the idea of being in two places at once, he finds himself torn between saving a group of hostages from a burning building and responding to an armed assault on S.T.A.R. Labs. Meanwhile, he tries to spend more time with the Wally West from his universe, while also being preoccupied with the original Wally being back and the fractured timeline.

Williamson goes for a more classic, simplistic story that makes for an easy jumping-on point for new readers. The great thing about comics is that even with characters that are 75+ years old, creators can still find ways to make a story that’s not bogged-down in continuity. Whether you’re a recent Flash fan through the tv show or a lifelong reader, this comic has something for everyone and sets up a new villain. And as with the debut Rebirth issue, Giandomenico’s pencils are succinct, cinematic and are made all the more engaging by Ivan Plascencia’s gorgeous colors. I know that counting the Rebirth issue we’re only two issues into this series, but I have a feeling this will be one of the best runs on the Scarlet Speedster in years.
-Kevin Schaefer for Ultimate Comics

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Civil War II #2 Thu, 23 Jun 2016 20:16:49 +0000 Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Publisher: Marvel

Following the cliffhanger ending in the first issue of this series, chapter two opens with an emotionally-charged Tony Stark kidnapping Ulysees, thus declaring war on the Inhumans in the process. As the Ultimates and the Avengers negotiate with Medusa so that Captain Marvel can talk with Tony, Ulysees is held captive and interrogated inside Stark Tower. Yet before Iron Man has a chance to go head-to-head with some of his closest allies, Ulysees has another vision which spells doom for all of them.

Being a chapter in a multipart crossover, not a whole lot happens in this issue. The cliffhanger ending is solid, but most of the buildup to that consists of Tony interrogating Ulysees, even though he knows that the kid can’t be blamed for what happened to Rhodey. Still, despite the first issue being more action-packed and layered, Bendis does a nice job here building the tension. Tony’s war with the Inhumans has officially begun, and Carol and the others have no choice but to choose sides. Plus, the ending adds more complexity to the situation at hand, while also bringing a key Marvel character into this conflict.

Like the previous issue, Marquez’ pencils are a major highlight. Considering the amount of close-ups in this issue, he captures each characters’ emotions and anxieties beautifully. Plus, the splash page at the end showcasing Ulysees’ vision is a gem of apocalyptic proportions. Given that Civil War II will have a lasting impact on the Marvel Universe from here on, I’d recommend giving the series a shot.

-Keven Schaefer for Ultimate Comics

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Millarworld Annual issue #1 in-store signing! July 16th, 11am-1pm Ultimate Comics Raleigh Mon, 20 Jun 2016 15:11:13 +0000 July 16th 11am-1pm
The first MILLARWORLD ANNUAL—the result of an international creator search seeking the best new writers and artists to tackle MARK MILLAR’s extensive library of hit characters. From Kick-Ass to CHRONONAUTS, they’re all here in this instant collector’s item. To celebrate the release of the first-ever Millarworld Annual, talent-search winners Steve Beach (The Lost Boys of the U-Boat Bremen) and Cliff Bumgardner ( will be in the Ultimate Comics Raleigh store to sign books and talk shop about their take on Mark Millar’s classic American Jesus and other horrifically beautiful things. All proceeds from the annual go to benefit Hero Initiative, helping comic creators in need!

July 16th, 11am-1pm!


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