Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:15:37 +0000 en hourly 1 Atomic Robo: The Temple Of Od Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:15:37 +0000 Written by Brian Clevinger
Art by Scott Wegener
Published by IDW

Brian Clevinger has been a longtime friend of Ultimate Comics, making frequent appearances on our convention panels and Free Comic Book Day booths, and the staff here has always recommended his Atomic Robo series. Atomic Robo is a self-aware robot built by Tesla. He has a series of science adventures ranging in time from the Wild West to the Indiana Jones pulp era to the modern day, using knowledge of physics to punch such wonderfully daffy villains as Doctor Dinosaur and his time-displaced Futuresaurus Rex. This week starts the new miniseries, The Temple Of Od, and it’s a great place to jump in to the Atomic Robo lunacy.

This adventure has Robo in 1938 Japan-occupied China looking for a missing scientist and his potential doomsday weapon. The callbacks to Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom are adorable, including a shoe-shine boy dressed as Short Round and a glittery nightclub called Anything Goes. The pulp tone makes the associated gunfighting motorcycle chase that much more fun, and the historical elements ground the story in a part of World War II American media doesn’t usually mention.

Come in to either Ultimate Comics locations and pick up a copy, and make sure you bring it to the next con for a signature with the sweet, witty author we all love. And seriously, ask the staff to show you the collected editions that have Doctor Dinosaur. He is one of my favorite characters in all of comics and may be my next tattoo. You’re going to love him, maybe even more than you’ll love his creator.

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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The Backstagers #1 Thu, 18 Aug 2016 07:46:10 +0000 Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Rian Sygh
Published by BOOM! Box

The Venn diagram of Comics Fans and People Who Have Felt Painfully Different From Most Other People is a concentric circle. That’s part of why conventions are so important – every November, we get together in Durham and find out that we’re not so different after all. It feels great to walk around and bask in the energy of people dropping their labels and just being themselves together.

Well, there’s another couple of Venn diagrams that are complete overlaps with People Who Have Felt Painfully Different From Most Other People. One is Kids With Minority Gender Or Sexuality. Another is Theater People. And James Tynion’s new book, Backstagers, is all about how these categories overlap.

In this story, Jory is miserable at his new all-boys high school. His mom makes him join an after-school activity, so he builds up the courage to try Drama Club. He doesn’t really fit in with the glittery attention-starved actors, but when he meets the stage crew, he finds himself fighting monsters underground alongside boys across the spectrum of sexuality, body type, and race.

Yes, the elevator pitch of this book is, “It’s Lumberjanes. But it’s boys.” And that’s not too far off. Both books are very funny and very much about casual diversity. This book has the wacky magical art that Lumberjanes has made iconic, and the blend of mythology and mundanity in a surreal celebration of friendship and the power of adolescence – yes, you should put these next to each other on the shelf.

But calling it a Boy Lumberjanes (which might just be “Lumberjacks,” but that’s not the point) is getting too lost in the gender. This is also a celebration of the theater, a high-five to the people in black tee shirts who put up with all the crap I gave them when I was in my own high school drama club. In a world that has to select performers based on looks and sounds and charisma, the stage crew becomes a family that loves each other just because they choose to. The Backstagers learn from each other because they don’t have to earn each other’s love. They don’t care who you have a crush on as long as you’re willing to help hang a light and sew a zipper. It’s a beautiful world that never gets enough attention, and this book is a triumph in its representation.

School is starting. There are kids in your town this month unsure of where they’ll fit in. Do some good – come to Ultimate Comics in the Chapel Hill or Raleigh spots (and keep an eye out for the North Raleigh opening!) and grab a copy or two for your local middle school English or Theater classes. The kids are going to eat it up and steal your copy and share it with their friends. And we’ll see those kids at the NC Comicon in three months, finally getting to find their place with the rest of us weirdos. I can’t wait to welcome them.

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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‘NC Comicon the Movie’ world premiere at Carolina Theatre Wed, 17 Aug 2016 15:16:59 +0000 IT’S HERE! Nearly a year in the making, it’s the NC Comicon documentary. Please join us on August 31st at 8pm in the historic Carolina Theatre for the world premiere of newest film from Amazing Studios: NC COMICON the MOVIE.

The official documentary of the NC Comicon. For 3 days the Amazing Studios cameras followed the comicon crew through the madness that comes with putting on a comic book convention. With guests such as Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance, Umbrella Academy, Doom Patrol) and Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead) plus massive events, legendary parties, and a sea of comic book fans, the guys and gals of NC Comicon really have their hands full…

World premiere at Durham NC’s Carolina Theatre in the beautiful Fletcher Hall Theatre
Wednesday, August 31
8:00pm Fletcher Hall

Tickets available here (ONLY 5 BUCKS!): HERE
As well as in both Ultimate Comics stores.

Official trailer HERE

Event page HERE

Executive Producers: Mike Cole, Alan Gill, Tommy Lee Edwards

Produced by: Cliff Bumgardner, Brockton McKinney, Peter Scheibner, Brandon Clarke

Directed and Edited by: Cliff Bumgardner

Shot by: Brian French and Peter Scheibner

Art Director: Dustin Owens

Designer | Animator: Jeremiah Berkheimer

An Amazing Studios production –

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Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth #1 Review Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:49:09 +0000 Writers: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Tony Fleecs
Artist: Tony Fleecs
Publisher: Oni Press

In the first issue of Oni Press’ new Jeff Steinberg comic, the titular protagonist is an average Joe in every sense. He works at a video store, his girlfriend openly cheats on him, and the most exciting thing on his mind is a bet he recently made to see how long it takes him to take a dump. So when a group of idiotic, B-movie aliens select him to be Earth’s champion in a sort of intergalactic olympics contest, you can imagine the hysteria that erupts across the planet.

Based on that description, it should come as no surprise that Oni Press is the same publisher that brought us the beloved cult comic Scott Pilgrim, which was later adapted into the fan favorite film by Edgar Wright. Much like that series, Jeff Steinberg is a delightfully irreverent sci-fi comedy full of lovable characters and quippy dialogue. Creators Joshua Hale Fialkov and Tony Fleecs deliver a story full of intrigue, humor, action, absurdity, all of which are executed in a cinematic fashion. I especially like how they’re able to throw in a few real-world political jokes at the end, and in a way that doesn’t feel forced. The whole book flows great from panel to panel and scene to scene, with nothing feeling out of place or shoehorned in. Especially with the comedy, which is arguably the hardest genre to write within, it’s amazing how the jokes here really made me laugh.

Also, don’t be discouraged by the $4.99 price tag on this one, as the debut issue contains two full length chapters. Trust me when I say that you’re getting your money’s worth here. I’m a sucker for indie-style comedies, but it’s only every now and then that one really jumps out at me. With Jeff Steinberg, I had a blast reading and can’t wait for the next issue. Go ahead and pick it up at Ultimate and add it to your sub-list.

-KEVEN SCHEMER for Ultimate Comics

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All-Star Batman #1 Wed, 10 Aug 2016 17:45:28 +0000 Written by Scott Snyder
Art by John Romita, Jr.
Published by DC Comics

Scott Snyder’s run writing Batman was arguably the best part of DC’s New 52, and fans were crushed to learn that part of the Rebirth relaunch meant that this writer was leaving the book. He was handing the reins over to Tom King, and they collaborated on a transition book that I reviewed for Ultimate Comics, but the sense of loss was still there.

Surprise! Scott Snyder is still here, and he still loves Batman, and he’s still great at it. But now he is writing All-Star Batman, a series that will rotate him through a series of high-profile artists, including some friends of Ultimate Comics.

This first issue teams the writer with industry legend John Romita, Jr. for a story about Batman’s attempt to cure Two-Face. After the lawyer-turned-kingpin unleashes a mutilating attack on Gotham City, Batman resolves to activate an old plan the pair had made when Harvey Dent was still a mostly good guy. But this involves leaving the city Batman knows so well, and Two-Face has some big ideas about how to make sure the hero never comes home.

This is a wonderful issue, with an engaging structure that hops around in time but never to the point of losing the reader. Romita is loving the fight scenes against mech-suited baddies, and the change of location allows a brighter color palette than the cityscape usually does. This is easily as good as his work on the Batman title has been in the New 52. Rest easy, Bat-fans. It’s going to be okay.

Best part of the issue, of course, is the huge one-page ad for this November’s NC Comicon! Yes, everyone reading this book is going to hear about our little show that could! Get this book, get excited, and make sure to come to Durham November 11-13 for the convention!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Suicide Squad Rebirth #1 Wed, 03 Aug 2016 16:23:50 +0000 Written by Rob Williams
Art by Philip Tan
Published by DC Comics

You may have heard about this little summer movie out this week, Suicide Squad, based on a revered 80s book about supervillains forced by the government to take on dangerous missions in exchange for reduced sentences. The version on the big screens is going to include Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jared Leto as the Joker, and Will Smith as Deadshot, and it’s primed to just print its own money. So DC wisely timed the Rebirth issues of Harley Quinn and Suicide Squad for today.

In this jumping-on issue, President Obama finds out about Task Force X and tells Amanda Waller to shut that down. So she recruits decent guy Colonel Rick Flag from his cell at Guantanamo to lead Harley Quinn, Boomerang, and Deadshot against a plot to send superpowered terrorists against the United States. The first mission takes some dark turns, but the team is able to complete the mission and set up for more adventures.

The book already won me over by the end of the third page. See, I didn’t read New 52 Suicide Squad. This was the book that put Harley Quinn in three square inches of fabric and turned Amanda Waller into Halle Berry. The book may have been great, but I couldn’t get past the female objectification on the cover. And this book has restored Amanda Waller to the imposing, powerful, large woman that we just can’t see anywhere else in comics despite the prevalence in our real lives. Harley gets to wear pants and a jacket. The felons of the Squad are bad guys, but they don’t spend too much time trying to make jokes like Deadpool and instead focus on just getting their mission done. It’s a grim tone but not overly so, and the violent twists in the mission are graphic but feel earned and set this book apart from the senseless gore of previous DC titles.

This book is setting up for a great series. Get a copy, and then join Ultimate At The Movies for Suicide Squad this weekend!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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ROM #1 Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:40:41 +0000 Written by Christos Gage and Chris Ryall
Art by David Messina
Ultimate Comics Exclusive Variant Cover by Tommy Lee Edwards
Published by IDW and Hasbro Entertainment

Ultimate Comics is excited to host writer Christos Gage at signing events this Saturday at both Raleigh and Chapel Hill locations, and we’re also excited about his new ROM book!

ROM The Spaceknight has been this funny little legal issue for decades. Based on a Hasbro action figure, ROM was published by Marvel, a space hero of the type that was popular in the 1970s and 80s, and he led a bunch of other Spaceknights against a collection of shapeshifting aliens called Dire Wraiths. Well, Marvel lost the rights to ROM himself but kept all the rest. So when Dire Wraiths killed a prominent New Warrior in the early 2000s, it had to say it was on Earth hiding out from… Somebody… And when Abnett and Lanning revitalized Marvel’s cosmic line and created the Guardians Of The Galaxy that eventually became one of the best-selling comic movies ever, there were some Spaceknights that would wistfully talk about… Their greatest member. That guy. He’s such a great guy. You know him.

Now IDW has the rights to publish ROM himself, and for those of us who couldn’t get ROM outside of diligient hours in the back issue bin, it’s a welcome return. It only helps that Christos Gage, writer of such great properties as the Daredevil Netflix show and the last few years of Amazing Spider-Man, is on board. And local hero Tommy Lee Edwards has dropped an amazing exclusive variant cover, so this book is a winner before you even open it.

And once you do open it, you get a great paranoid science fiction romp. A pair of cops investigate a disturbance and wander into a war between this shiny metal man and a bunch of monsters that can look just like people. Gage is great at getting the tension of the scene ramped up quickly, efficiently establishing an action tone before switching to ROM’s investigation of an infiltrated California town and the last human there, a woman recently back from deployment and struggling to manage her PTSD. His rescue attempt reveals a hideous evolution of the Dire Wraiths. And even if he makes it out of there alive, the final page reveal shows that he’s going to have his hands full with another popular Hasbro toy property in the next few issues.

This was a great comic, even for a reader who only knew ROM by his conspicuous absence. The character is noble and warm, and I’m excited for the rest of his adventures. The book is also an important foundation piece for next month’s Revolution crossover, integrating IDW properties like M.A.S.K., Micronauts, and ROM into a shared universe. You’re not going to want to miss this, and make sure to check the Ultimate Comics Facebook page for details on this Saturday’s signings with Christos Gage!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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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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