http://ultimatecomics.com Wed, 04 May 2016 15:27:52 +0000 en hourly 1 Renato Jones: The One% http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/05/renato-jones-the-one/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/05/renato-jones-the-one/#respond Wed, 04 May 2016 15:27:52 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=25220 Created, Written, Drawn, and Owned by Kaare Andrews
Published by Image Comics
Kaare Andrews is an enormously creative artist, dazzling in some of the supernatural aspects of New Mutants in the 2000’s or the more recent Iron Fist. With the double-sized first issue of Renato Jones, Andrews turns his flair for the mystic toward the struggle between socioeconomic classes, and the result is an action movie that bleeds dark fantasy.

The story is pretty straightforward at first – Renato Jones is a good-hearted child of unbelivable wealth and privilege. He’s meeting with a scummy hedge fund manager on a yacht when The Freelancer attacks, continuing a violent war on the rich. Quiet moments allow for a collection of heartbreaking flashbacks and twists of identity – some, you are going to see coming because you have ever read a comic book. Others will take you by surprise.

What sets this book apart from the violent social commentary of a Mark Millar book (besides the fact that it isn’t already in pre-production casting) is the artist’s commitment to the visual experience. Kaare Andrews is not afraid to commit six pages to tell three panels of a flashback because he knows that the reader will feel gutted at the third panel. The sequences in present day conform to the lines of real life, but Andrews is adept at color and shadow to pull intense drama from a simple dinner party scene. Flashbacks get distorted in ways that feel so right – the children telling the memory are impossibly small; the bad guy adults are nightmares of proportion. This book is not some bratty liberal arts major whining about paying a student loan and drunk on his own wit as he sticks it to the man with his social commentary – trust me, the man is not reading this. This is an artist who wants to talk about what scares us. Right now, we’re scared of being ruled by rich monsters, and he beautifully ties the hedge fund managers to the creatures under our beds.

Come on down to Ultimate Comics and get started on what promises to be a gorgeous, scary ride. And if you wait until Saturday, any purchase made on Free Comic Book Day comes with a free Ulti-Mite print!
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Micronauts #1 http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/micronauts-1/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/micronauts-1/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:21:46 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=25176 Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by David Baldeon
Published by IDW

The Micronauts were a group of popular action figures in the 80’s, but I was more of a He-Man, Ninja Turtles guy, so my exposure to the characters was from Marvel comics. Much like ROM The Spaceknight, Marvel lost the rights to reprint those books, but IDW has picked them up and is launching new takes on the property. This company recently did an amazing reimagining of Power Rangers, and Cullen Bunn has become one of the most popular writers after gritty series like Magneto, Harrow County, and Uncanny X-Men, so I went in to this book with fuzzy memories and high hopes.

Those hopes were rewarded. Absolutely nothing in this book looked familiar, so don’t worry about continuity. This book is a complete new story and an excellent first issue. The cold open is a terrifying recording of a world eaten by a sentient wave of energy. Most of the book introduces Oz, the leader of a colorful group of smugglers tasked to steal some medical supplies from a battlefront between the vicious Baron Karza and the Ministry Of Science. Because this is a first issue, the mission goes in no way according to plan, and mayhem ensues.

Science fiction, especially space opera, can be off-putting, but Bunn and Baldeon focus on the humanity and charm. This book is less about the robots and spaceships and more about the people piloting them, just trying to pull a job and pay rent. Conversations hint at significant backstory and world-building but the expository monologues that drag this type of book down are completely absent, swapped out for tidy exchanges between richly-realized characters. I still know nothing about the original toys, and I love that I could enjoy the heck out of this book anyway. Bunn and Baldeon work perfectly together, and I am excited to see where this team takes the story next.

Head on down to Ultimate Comics to pick up your copy! Fans of the original toys or comics, let us know how this relaunch holds up to your childhood memories!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Madballs #1 (of 4) http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/madballs-1-of-4/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/madballs-1-of-4/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:18:14 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=25086 Writer Brad McGinty
Art Brian “Smitty” Smith
Published by Lion Forge Comics, Roar imprint

Okay, kids, ask your parents about the Madballs. These toys came out when I was in elementary school in the mid-eighties, a collection of foam balls with gross faces and silly pun names. Your dad would buy them for you hoping it might make you like sports, and your mom would roll her eyes about how disgusting these toys were. Because man, there are few things better suited to preteen boys than a head that drips plastic snot, except maybe throwing that head at your friend at the bus stop.

Because the kids who loved Madballs are old enough to buy lots of comics, the Balls are back in a four-issue miniseries from Roar Comics. In the first issue, the Balls are sorted into two teams to play Bizarro Ball, a strange game where people talk about points or something but mostly, balls bounce around and drip pus and gore on a football field and make puns and play with props and get destroyed in a frenzy of cartoony violence. In a backup sequence by Dan Zettwoch, the Balls travel to an alternate universe where they meet sophisticated version of themselves.

This is not a comic for most grownups. But for people who fondly remember this property, we’ll chuckle and remember Mom’s eye-rolling and ask ourselves what Dad was thinking giving us this. And then we will grab a stack of these comics for our friends’ sons. Because Cool Uncle is a pretty great thing to be.

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Goldie Vance #1 (of 4) http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/goldie-vance-1-of-4/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/goldie-vance-1-of-4/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 17:46:00 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=25043 Written by Hope Larson
Illustrated by Brittney Williams
Colors by Sarah Stern
BOOM! Box, a division of BOOM! Entertainment

I love detective stories. I grew up in Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys, and as an adult I love Raymond Chandler novels and mystery television like Veronica Mars and iZombie. This week, BOOM! introduces a great new amateur sleuth sure to charm adults and children alike.

Goldie is a plucky young woman who works at her dad’s fancy Florida hotel. Officially, she parks cars. In her downtime, she helps the hotel’s resident detective close cases, following her friendships with hotel staff to find everything from a lost child to a priceless necklace. In this issue’s action climax, Goldie has to win a drag race using her knowledge of physics as much as her courage.

Goldie is a terrific new character, and kids are going to love her. I am always happy to see women of color represented as more than best friends to the story’s hero. Sure, she’s sort of a sidekick to the official hotel detective, but he’s out of the spotlight, and both of them are seen as competent professionals. She’s less polished than Veronica Mars, using too-casual language with a client and breaking the law to close a case, but this comes across as exuberant youth and not a character flaw.

Come on by Ultimate Comics in Raleigh or Chapel Hill to pick up the introduction of your new favorite detective! Hide an extra copy for the kids in your life, and see if they can follow some clues to find it – by the time they practice being junior gumshoes, they’re going to be primed for Goldie’s adventures.

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Black Panther #1 http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/black-panther-1/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/black-panther-1/#respond Wed, 06 Apr 2016 14:06:19 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=24882 Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist Brian Stelfreeze
Color Artist Laura Martin
Marvel Comics

The Black Panther has probably never been as popular as he will be next month. His brief appearances in the trailers for Captain America: Civil War suggest the movie version is going to be the kind of powerful charismatic figure that people want to read more about, and Marvel is smart to capitalize on this by relaunching his book under the pen of Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates has written extensively on the topics of race in America through columns in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and several standalone books. How does his first comic book come across?

Well, it’s not a comic book yet. It’s really good, and I think it’s going to get there, but at this point it is wordier than it needs to be with the divine artistic team of Stelfreeze and Martin. And it suffers from some dull storytelling in recent years – the flood, the war with Atlantis, the Doctor Doom miniseries, the Infinity crossover, even the death of Black Panther’s sister have all been cool ideas but duds in the execution. Until I read the recap page of this issue, I had forgotten most of these stories, and they happened fewer than three years ago.

Where this book excels is the promise. The plot is that T’Challa has lost serious credibility and pride by the losses of recent years, so he is trying to reconnect to his people. But a tribe seeking to rebel has a metahuman empath turning more of the subjects against their king, and a pair of the Panther’s personal guardswomen have defected with some high-tech armor, unwilling to support the harsh ways his stepmother has enforced Wakandan law. This is going to boil into a rich political thriller. The characters are wise and the dialogue is arch in a way that fits the regal needs of this plot. Over the next few issues, I predict Coates will shorten his speeches and let his artists move more of the action pieces instead of just illustrating his script. In the meantime, this is a great book on its own. Pick it up now at Ultimate Comics in Raleigh or Chapel Hill!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Ultimate Comics Exclusive: Power Rangers Pink #1 & Power Rangers #3 Pterodactyl Zord and White Tiger Zord Breakdown Variants! http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/ultimate-comics-exclusive-power-rangers-pink-1-power-rangers-3-pterodactyl-zord-and-white-tiger-zord-breakdown-variants/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/04/ultimate-comics-exclusive-power-rangers-pink-1-power-rangers-3-pterodactyl-zord-and-white-tiger-zord-breakdown-variants/#respond Fri, 01 Apr 2016 15:07:01 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=24810 Power Rangers Pink #1 Exclusive Janice Chu Pterodactyl Breakdown Virgin Art Variant PRE-SALE Ships 5/25/16

Power Rangers Pink #1 Exclusive Janice Chu Pterodactyl Breakdown Virgin Art Variant PRE-SALE Ships 5/25/16

We’re excited to announce our exclusive variants for Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #3 and Power Rangers Pink #1!! We LOVED the first two beautiful virgin art covers from Janice Chu that we got two more amazing exclusive breakdown variants!

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #3 showcases the breakdown for the incredible White Tiger Zord, and Power Rangers Pink #1 shows the classic Pink Pterodactyl!

As always, our covers WON’T be obstructed by a messy store logo all over the front, and we’re offering these two for the special UltimateComics.com exclusive price of $9.99. That’s a deal you won’t be able to get on eBay, and act fast because our variant for Pink #1 is strictly limited to 500 copies!!

Complete your set today with our other two MMPR Variants!:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check EVEN MORE Power Rangers variants here!

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Q&A with Robert Venditti By Kevin Schaefer http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/qa-with-robert-venditti-by-kevin-schaefer/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/qa-with-robert-venditti-by-kevin-schaefer/#respond Fri, 25 Mar 2016 16:14:58 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=24754 A noted comic book writer and novelist, Robert Venditti is an unstoppable force when it comes to storytelling. After several creator-owned books and novels, Venditti helped launch the Valiant Comics reboot in 2012 with his ongoing X-O Manowar run, and was later tapped by DC to take over for Green Lantern in 2013. And if that wasn’t enough, he and co-writer Van Jensen took over for The Flash in 2014.

Given that it’s not every day I get to talk with a writer of Venditti’s magnitude, I made sure to grill him for advice, which he did graciously offer. I had the pleasure of meeting him last August when he and artist Robert Gill came for the opening of the Ultimate Comics in Raleigh, just as their Valiant series Book of Death was arriving in stores. Now over seven months later, Venditti took time out of his busy schedule for a Skype interview, in which we discussed everything from his career history to plans for the future. The following is a slightly condensed version of our conversation.

Kevin Schaefer: You’ve written a good mix of prose fiction and comics. Are you able to jump back and forth between these mediums pretty easily?

Robert Venditti: I don’t want to say easily, writing doesn’t come easily to me. It’s something I have to work at and I’m not a super fast writer. If you look at my career I’ve certainly done my fair share of stuff, but haven’t been as hyper-productive the way some writers have been. Because for me to do three books a month, at the most four, is really stretching it. So I don’t tend to do a lot of switching around the way I operate. I tend to like to start something and then finish it. For example, unless something comes up, which in monthly comics stuff does come up and you have to adapt to whatever the schedule is, but I try not to even juggle different comic book issues. Working on Green Lantern this week, I’ll finish that issue and then I’ll start Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. So for the novel it’s a little harder because a novel is obviously something that takes a lot more time than a single issue of a comic book. So what I would do is usually work on whatever comics I was doing during the day, have dinner and those kinds of things and then stay up late at night and work on the novel.

KS: Were there any writers in particular who really influenced you as you were growing up?

RV: I didn’t read comics growing up, didn’t start reading them until I was in my late 20s. For me when I was younger, all throughout like 6th, 7th and 8th grade I read a ton of Stephen King. I think I had read about everything he had written up until that point. But it’s weird because I’ve never done a horror story, and I can’t even watch horror movies now. That’s also when I read the Lord of the Rings books. Watership Down was the first sort of adult novel I had ever read. For me I guess most of my storytelling things that I really enjoyed was more film related at that age, until I got to like high school and college and graduate school when I started diving into a lot of literature.

KS: Were there any space fantasy stories that really captured you? Based on your work with Green Lantern and X-O Manowar?

RV: The other day someone asked on Twitter just a general question to everyone on there- What property would you work on if you had the chance to?- and my answer was SilverHawks. I love SilverHawks. It was very short-lived obviously, and I haven’t even seen it since I was younger when it was on tv. Just something about it. Obviously Star Wars, Blade Runner- which isn’t in space but still sci-fi. So a lot of sci-fi stuff. I wasn’t looking for a kind of cosmic project or anything like that. When Valiant approached me about X-O Manowar I just really liked the historical fiction aspect of it. Just kind of worked out that I did that, and then DC asked me about taking on Green Lantern. And if you look at my career and the different things I’ve done they’re all unique from each other, and that’s by design. I don’t want to be working in just one style of story, I want to challenge myself with something different each time and hopefully get better and grow as a writer. I won’t always succeed and that’s the challenge, but at least I’m always getting outside my comfort zone and pushing myself.

KS: On that note, when you took over for Green Lantern, you were coming on after one of the most iconic runs on the character with Geoff Johns’. What was the pressure like trying to fill his shoes after his near-decade run?

RV: Yeah obviously it was there and I knew that going in so it wasn’t a surprise, and that was part of the challenge I took on. You know I’m never going to outdo Geoff Johns, I’m just doing what I know how to do the best I can and hope people like the result. And it’s been a bit of a tough run in some aspects because a lot of things have happened that are beyond my control. You know I did my first issue of Green Lantern, and I think it was about two months later DC announced they were moving out to Burbank. Not to fault anyone for it because that’s a huge situation. But that was a process for about two years, you had editors coming in and going out, a lot of things going on there. The thing about monthly comics is, at no point can you ever say “let’s just take a pause.” Every 28 days a book has to be ready. It’s definitely been a learning experience for me, but I’m happy to be on the book, and if you had told anyone when I took the book over that I would be here three years later they would’ve said you’re nuts. Cause even after X-O Manowar DC fans didn’t really know who I was.

KS: And did DC give you a fair amount of creative liberty or were you given pretty tight constraints?

RV: I wouldn’t say constraints. I mean I knew there were certain things going in, they wanted to have a lot of crossovers, so I did that. And then when DCU and things like that come up, it’s not really a constraint as it is a publishing plan that is what it is and you have to adapt to those kinds of things. There are definitely some things I’ve done with Green Lantern that I’m super proud of. The villains issue for Relic is probably one of my favorite issues I’ve written. Green Lantern #40 with the Hal/Kilowog fight, where you get to see what their relationship really means to them, is another issue of mine that I’m really proud of. To go ahead and add all this to the mythology has been a lot of fun.

KS: Shifting to your Valiant work, how did Book of Death and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior come about?

RV: Yeah I mean I started with Valiant from the very beginning. X-O Manowar #1 was the first issue they published when they started up again, it was also the first issue of a monthly comic book series I had ever done as well. That’s another instance where the fans had no idea who I was, cause all I had done at that point were a couple creator-owned books. I hoped I would stay on the book for 12 months, high in the sky of 24 issues, and here I am coming up on 50 which when you add in the zeroes and tie-ins it will be about 56 issues. Nobody ever thought that was going to happen, especially in today’s marketplace. So I was at Valiant from the beginning, and from X-O Manowar Valiant wanted its first crossover to be X-O Manowar based, so that’s how Armor Hunters came about. And that went pretty well and we were happy with the finished result. And when they wanted to do Book of Death they asked me if I wanted to do that, and also if I’d be interested in launching a new Eternal Warrior series sort of out of the wreckage of Book of Death. And I was very interested because from the very beginning when Warren Simons approached me about Valiant and I started reading up on the characters, the two that I really liked were X-O Manowar and Eternal Warrior. I was only able to choose one and went with X-O, because I was trying to do something different with every project, and you’re never going to get more different than a 5th century Visigoth in alien armor. But Eternal Warrior was always a character I wanted to come back to, so I was very excited to do Book of Death and also try this concept for Eternal Warrior that I’m super happy with the result. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done, not just in terms of the story but also the collaboration I have. It’s a book I’m really proud of.

KS: Out of the characters you’re writing now, is there any you enjoy the most or is it pretty equal?

RV: Yeah I enjoy them all for different reasons. I enjoy X-O, I feel like I just know him so well and have been able to build his continuity from day one. And I’ve added so much not just to the characters but stuff that’s been put into the Valiant universe in other places. You know the idea that Ginger, this robot I made in Armor Hunters with Clayton Crain doing the design and Doug Braithwaite drawing it in the story, that robot is over in Unity. Then I love the grandeur and the cosmic grand scale of things in Green Lantern. I love that mashup of historical fiction and science fiction in X-O Manowar. And I love the way that Valiant has allowed me to be not as huge and bombastic with Eternal Warrior and really get into some deep character stuff. A hero who’s a father and a husband, which is something you tend not to see in comics.

KS: You mentioned some of your creator-owned work. Do you have any plans to do more creator-owned comics in the future?

RV: Yeah very much so. For a long time my creator-owned were sort of focused on my novels which of course were very time-consuming. But I’ve got pitches written for half a dozen miniseries sitting in a file ready to go, and I’ve never shown them to anybody because it’s just a matter of making sure I have time in my schedule to do them. And it is definitely something I want to swing back around to. Can’t say for sure when that’s going to be but I hope not too long.

KS: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic book writers or just writers in general?

RV: One: don’t ever limit your opportunities. For me I got my start working in a warehouse at a publisher packing boxes, that was how I sort of got into the door. And I would also say you only need one kind of smarts, not even in writing but in life in general: you only need to be smart enough to know what you don’t know. Writing, or any kind of art as I see it, is something you’re never going to know. There are no answers, it’s not solving for X or anything like that. It’s just a constant learning process and you’re never going to have it all figured out, ever. And if there’s ever a moment where you think you have it figured out that’s when you really don’t have it figured out. And that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have moments where you’re really proud of what you did. Those highs you get when you write a scene and you know you just nailed it, those things are going to happen. But as far as art, it’s not solvable. It’s a constant learning process, a constant exploration, it’s always going to be that way. So be aware of that and know that there are always things to learn.

-KEVIN SCHAEFER for Ultimate Comics

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G.I.Joe: Deviations http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/g-i-joe-deviations/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/g-i-joe-deviations/#respond Thu, 24 Mar 2016 13:35:25 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=24751 Written by Paul Allor
Art by Corey Lewis
IDW Publishing

IDW is a fun group of books, especially the ones that deal with licensed properties. When they do crossovers, it’s less about one character teaming up with another and advancing a plot and more about one cataclysm affecting everyone. Like, one time, Mars Attacks aliens took a month and caused trouble in an issue of Ghostbusters, or that time Lovecraftian tentacle monsters popped up in Ninja Turtles. This month, Deviations sees a What If? twist for Ghostbusters, X-Files, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, and this week’s G.I.Joe. The twist for the Joe book is that Cobra finally wins one and takes over the world.

I vaguely remember watching the cartoon when I was six and knowing even then that I hated the bland rah-rah good-guy-bad-guy of it all. But the little sketches about safety were fun – this show taught me how to tread water. Anyway, I approached this book with a pit in my stomach, expecting overwrought angst about beloved heroes forced into Walking Dead survival mode.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The writer on this book clearly loves the source material, but this issue is a comedy that has no problem pointing out how dumb many of the G.I.Joe tropes are. To introduce the book, he writes, “Cobra always loses. Like, every time. Seriously, over and over. You could set your watch by it.” The Cobra victory is done with self-aware bombast, and the meat of the book is about how bored Cobra Commander is with the world he’s made. See, Cobra is really, really good at running the world. There’s a global currency, trains run on time, and everybody fluorishes in the competence of their rulers. Most of the villains turn out to relish their new roles as beaurocrats, and they love having a big staff meeting to go over making enough room in the budget to replace the chairs in the next fiscal year. It’s adorable and got me to laugh out loud at my own office. And Cobra Commander freaking HATES IT. So we readers get to tag along while he tries to undo everything he’s won.

This book was amazing. This was the kind of smart humor we saw in so many of the Secret Wars one-shots, the books that had creative freedom to laugh at the decades of continuity of their characters. You don’t have to be a Joe fan to love this – I am a prime example of this. Trust me, this is the funniest book you’ll read this month. Way to go, IDW. You guys know how to have a good time.

Join in the fun at Ultimate Comics in Raleigh and Chapel Hill!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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Turncoat #1 http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/turncoat-1/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/turncoat-1/#respond Wed, 16 Mar 2016 14:57:18 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=24591 Written by Alex Paknadel
Illustrated by Artyom Trakhavov
Colored by Jason Wordie

I love detective stories, and I just recently saw Blade Runner for the first time at Durham’s Carolina Theater, so this is a great time for me to be reading a sci-fi noir series. I hadn’t expected this book to also tie in to this week’s Primary elections.

In the future, we finally defeat an alien race called Management after three hundred years of subjugation. Marta Gonzalez was a human working for the aliens, but she defected in time to help us send them away. Five years later, no one trusts her and she’s working a small-time detective job. Simple missing person, but something smells funny about it, and as she pieces the clues together, she begins to suspect the alien war isn’t over yet.

Better than the story, and it’s a good story, is the political message. Marta has her boots on the ground. She’s worked for both sides. And for the average person, life under alien rule is about the same as life under human rule. Rich people want to stay rich, and they do; poor people want to survive, and they generally do. Neither side likes the other. I’m unfamiliar with Paknadel’s work, but the attention to world-building is so subversive and wonderful. Cartoons, produced by the rich people, all carry the message of supporting the status quo in clever subtlety. Marta walks into a bar playing a song about war crimes. People debate about whether to pay in the alien currency or the new stuff. Plenty of humans still practice the alien religion, and their school system is still the preferred one for private education. Paknadel understands politics as something that affects all of us, that envelops all of us, but that also distracts us with the flimsy promise of change. The grim world is splayed out in hyperdetail by Trakhanov, summoning the talented grotesque of Last Gang In Town but with a sense of humor closer to the backgrounds in Chew or Ms. Marvel. The aliens themselves are never fully seen, but enough visual motifs show up in the way human culture has developed to help the reader imagine.

As we wrap up our Primaries, as we prepare for a long and hideous battle in national airwaves, we are going to hear each side promise that a vote for the other candidate is dooming us all. Books like this remind us that whether or not our side loses, we are still going to have to set the alarm clock. We will still have to go to work and pay some taxes and share tables with each other. So let’s try to keep perspective. Let’s try to love each other even if we are convinced they are voting for a monster, and let’s make it through November together. I want my side to win. But I want to see you beyond your vote.

Come on down to Ultimate Comics in Raleigh or Chapel Hill and get on board this amazing new miniseries. And even if you hate it, I promise to respect you. But you won’t hate it.
-Matt Conner for Ultimate Comics

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Mockingbird #1 http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/mockingbird-1/ http://ultimatecomics.com/2016/03/mockingbird-1/#respond Wed, 09 Mar 2016 21:02:38 +0000 http://ultimatecomics.com/?p=24403 Writer Chelsea Cain
Artist Kate Niemczyk
Color Artist Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel Comics

I don’t watch Agents Of SHIELD yet (I know, it’s on my To-Do List, I’m not too good for TV or anything), so I don’t yet know why so many people are so into Mockingbird this year. But I am happy about it. Mockingbird was one of my favorite parts of the West Coast Avengers when I started reading comic books, and her return has been so delightfully convoluted, and I love the version of her we’re getting in Chelsea Cain’s new series.

So. Mockingbird. Let’s see, she was a SHIELD agent (Agent 19) and back in the 80s she fought Hawkeye and fell in love with him and got married on a whim and was a big part of the West Coast Avengers but then she and Hawkeye broke up and she came back to serve him divorce papers but got kidnapped by the devil and burned to death. Only she didn’t really burn to death, that was an alien pretending to be her, so she was able to eventually escape and rejoin the heroes. And Hawkeye was all excited to have his wife back, but unfortunately, nope, this version wanted to divorce him, too. And so since returning from alien captivity, Bobbi Morse has been enjoying the superspy game. She doesn’t have powers, but she’s a great fighter and makes lots of bad jokes (how she got the code name). Consider yourself caught up.

This book follows her through a series of medical checkups. It doesn’t sound riveting – she goes in to SHIELD’s clinic a few times and gets bloodwork and fills out forms and occasionally does parapsychological testing proving she’s not psychic but does seem to have the ability to mentally manipulate ping pong balls. And one time, she bleeds out of her ear. And sometimes she hallucinates elderly zombies. And usually she makes great jokes, like asking her new nurse, “If I’m good, can I get a medical marijuana card from you?” And that’s pretty much all you get from this comic.

And it’s all you need from a comic, I promise. It’s this tense little mystery. Every doctor visit, there are subtle changes – what are they checking for? What is with this new ping-pong ball power? The writer leaves a note on the back page that this is a puzzle box: the next three issues will explain why she is wearing the ridiculous costumes to each of her appointments and what is happening with her symptoms between visits, and the fifth issue picks up where this one leaves off. Normally that could sound pretentious, but after a book this funny, a book this empowering, a book that has made clinic paperwork into a series of witty zingers, a book where Tony Stark is in a clinic waiting room tensely reviewing a Gonorrhea pamphlet… This is a book I want to revisit after I have the gaps filled in. This is a book that has suffered not one bit by moving most of the action sequences to the next three issues. This is a book that earns my trust in the writer and art team.

Marvel is flush with amazing women headlining books these days. Squirrel Girl, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen, Silk… I encourage you to make room for Mockingbird in your Ultimate Comics pull list. She’s using the superhero and spy genres to tell the funniest mystery on the stands. And she’s selling the crap out of the Agents Of SHIELD show, if TV Bobbi is anything like the Bobbi we get here.
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics

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