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Hillbilly #1

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

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

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

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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Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1

Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Travel Foreman
Publisher: Marvel

Spoilers ahead for Civil War II #1

Following the cliffhanger in Civil War II #1 with Rhodey’s death and She-Hulk on the hospital bed in critical condition, the first tie-in comic in this series is a bit lighter in tone. In it, Spidey teams up with newcomer Ulysees, the precognitive Inhuman and catalyst for this superhero conflict, for a night of crime-fighting. After Ulysees’ visions lead to him and Spidey preventing a murder from taking place, the web-slinger takes his new future-seeing friend to Parker Industries for a visit. After introducing him to Harry and ex-nemesis Clayton Cole, Spidey proposes that with Ulysees’ help they could take the company to new heights. Yet it isn’t long before Peter Parker’s bad luck catches up with him, and Ulysees has a vision of a presumed ally going bad.

First off, in addition to the main Civil War II comic, I would highly recommend reading Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl before delving into this book. Based on this first issue, it reads like a sequel to that series, as well as a continuation of Dan Slott’s run in general. Christos Gage captures the nuances of Spidey well, from his quick-witted remarks to his moral struggles with utilizing Ulysees’ powers. While the first main issue in this crossover established the basic philosophical debate of whether or not to stop crimes before they happen, here we see the racial profiling allegory brought to the forefront in an early scene. When Ulysees sees a man whom he had a vision of murdering people, Spidey is hesitant at first to pursue him, unsure of whether a possible glimpse of the future is enough to justify capturing this guy. Gage is able to explore this idea in several instances without beating it over the bush, while also incorporating a substantial amount of Spidey-esque humor. A scene with Johnny Storm and Peter is especially great.

Foreman’s pencils also do a nice job of coinciding with the tonal aspects of the story. It’s different enough from that of Humberto Ramos’ and other longtime Spidey artists, but still feels like a nice homage to all their work. Also since we’ve still seen very little of Ulysees so far, both Gage and Foreman do a great job of exploring who he is as a character in this issue. In spite of his extraordinary and in many ways dangerous powers, he’s still just a kid who’s not even out of college. This provides a nice gateway for a student-mentor relationship to foster between him and Peter. I’m generally hesitant/apathetic about event spin offs, but this is one that just feels like a good, organic Spider-Man story.

-Kevin Schaefer for Ultimate Comics

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Tales From The Darkside #1 (of 4)

Script by Joe Hill
Adapted by Michael Benedetto
Art by Gabriel Rodriguez
Colors by Ryan Hill
Published by IDW

Joe Hill had some ideas for a relaunch of the horror anthology television show, Tales From The Darkside. It didn’t make it to series, but when you have gotten awards and recognition for your work with scary novels and the Locke And Key comics, when life hands you lemons, you make a limited series with IDW.

This series is going to be a collection of independent tales with a connective underlying mythology of The Darkside, a supernatural phenomenon that hits people who have been very, very bad or very, very good. And in this issue, teenage loser Ziggy has not been good at all. He parties all night, sleeps all morning, and naps in the lifeguard stand at the local pool instead of doing his job. But when his negligence leads to tragedy, he falls into a Darkside event and returns to the real world with a terrible poetic curse. A good-looking guy tries to explain everything, but the curse makes that impossible. Readers can only watch as Ziggy tries to make amends for his naughty naptime, and it’s a tense thrill.

This would have made an excellent episode of television, with a straightforward plot and a theme of justice that reminds us all of being on both sides of a big mistake. The curse is scary but wouldn’t have needed too much for a special effect budget. The hint at a larger, unifying Darkside mythology is captivating, and it would get me back for next week’s story. This issue has gotten me hooked for the rest of the miniseries, and I hope it can get back on a producer’s desk.

Also, the back of the issue has an ad for an October hardcover release of Joe Hill’s script ideas for the Tales From The Darkside show. Fans of Hill’s horror work are going to be in for a treat, so preorder this one now – just talk to the person at the register at Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill or Raleigh.

-Matt Conner for Ultimate Comics

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The Punisher #2

Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Steve Dillon
Publisher: Marvel

Story: Frank Castle pursues a mercenary outfit turned drug cartel called Condor. This organization has manufactured a drug called EMC, which enhances its users with superhuman abilities. In this issue, he encounters their big bad hitman Face.

Thoughts: This is an action-packed read which has the feel of a 90s action movie, particularly with Steve Dillon’s cinematic art style. While nowhere near as grim and brutal as the Garth Ennis material, it’s definitely not a kid-friendly comic either, much like Greg Rucka’s run. Becky Cloonan’s script keeps the momentum going and allows the visuals to tell the story, while also providing an interesting concept and a worthy antagonist for Punisher. If you’re a Punisher fan or want to learn more about the character, definitely check it out.

-Kevin Schaefer for Ultimate Comics

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #1

Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Story: Kimberly Hart, the original Pink Ranger, has retired from the team and is now a world-traveling gymnast. When her mom and stepdad don’t meet her in Amsterdam as planned and she can’t reach them, she travels to their home in St. Moineau, France. Upon arrival, she discovers that the place is a ghost town, and that a force of sea-monsters has taken the citizens captive. She learns this from a French native whom she rescues and who helps her locate where the people are being held. Suspecting Rita and Zedd’s involvement, she uses an emergency communicator to contact Zordon. Though he informs her that the Rangers are currently off-planet battling Zedd, he tells her that with the Sword of Light he can restore her powers temporarily. She agrees and sets off to save her mother. Upon locating her and the other citizens, she discovers that an old nemesis is behind this.

Thoughts: This is an excellent follow-up to the main Rangers comic, and gives Kim more depth than ever before. She’s clearly more independent now, and despite being without powers for the bulk of the issue, she still kicks ass. In one panel she throws a stack of gold coins at a sea-monster like they’re batarangs. We also see her knock out goons with her bow and arrow, do some crazy martial arts moves, and ride her bike down the streets of France like someone from the Mad Max universe. She’s slick, smart, resourceful, and her story here feels very organic. I love that she has to do this mission on her own and is confident about it. Writers Brenden Fletcher and Kelly Thompson offer a fresh and exciting story within the Rangers universe; and artist Daniele Di Nicuolo delivers top-notch work, giving the book more of an espionage aesthetic. Colorist Sarah Stern also plays a huge role in separating this comic from the traditional Rangers look. This is a must-read for any Rangers fan.

-Kevin Schaefer

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Aquaman: Rebirth #1

Written by Dan Abnett
Art by Oscar Jiminez
Published by DC Comics

Aquaman has been a long-running joke, that guy who summons fish you saw in that parody on Family Guy or some other late-night pop culture fest. One of the strengths of DC’s New 52 relaunch was Geoff Johns on Aquaman, working the joke into continuity but making a strong case for Aquaman as a great character. He fights crime in seaside locations, but what makes him interesting is that he has a human father but grew up as the future king of a world we can’t understand. Johns had a great run on the book, but subsequent writers had a hard time winning fans over, and as Rebirth approached, people just weren’t talking about Aquaman.

This is the book to bring him back.

Aquaman’s Rebirth issue opens with him fighting a group of Atlanteans dedicated to eradicating contact with the surface world. Topside, his fiancee Mera runs the mission from the Atlantean embassy. But all along, they’re being watched by one of the king’s most iconic villains, quietly plotting revenge.

Dan Abnett has made a name for himself writing believable heroes in vast cosmic settings, and he applies the same skills here, to a man audacious enough to claim rulership over most of the planet, living in a world as strange as space itself would be. In describing the Atlantean terrorists, Abnett’s narration casually drops how hard it would be for us to understand their culture, world-building with efficient grace. And, like Johns did so well before him, the writer works “Aquaman is a joke” into the story for the characters to deal with head-on. This version of Aquaman owns the problematic parts and makes them into draws – yes, Arthur Curry is not welcome on land or sea, but it’s much more interesting to put him between as a protector, keeping the anger of the sea people and the greed of the land people at bay.

Come back to Aquaman. He’s not a joke, he’s not embarrassing. He’s a complicated science fiction character who doesn’t conform to the expectations of the typical superhero, and that can make him better. This is a team that loves him as much as Geoff Johns loved him, and terrific books came out of that love.

And I made it through an entire Aquaman review without making a fishing joke.

-Matt Conner

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Ultimate Comics Exclusive: ROM #1 Tommy Lee Edwards Variant

We’re super excited to officially announce our exclusive variant cover for the hotly anticipated ROM #1 from IDW! This breathtaking variant features art from the immensely talented Tommy Lee Edwards and features a modern take on ROM with green accents as an homage to the original Mattel packaging.

The print run on this book will be super limited, so we’re only offering 50 copies at our special pre-sale price of $9.99. The price will go up when the book is released so make sure not to miss out on this deal!

ROM #1 Ultimate Comics Exclusive Tommy Lee Edwards Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016

ROM #1 Ultimate Comics Exclusive Tommy Lee Edwards Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016

Pre-Order the other incentives today!

Rom #1 1:25 Sal Buscema Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016
Rom #1 1:25 Sal Buscema Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016
Rom #1 1:50 Michael Golden Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016
Rom #1 1:50 Michael Golden Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016
Rom #1 1:100 P Craig Russell Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016
Rom #1 1:100 P Craig Russell Variant IDW 2016 PRE-SALE Ships 7/20/2016