REVIEW: Powers of X #1 casts an intriguing shadow upon House of X

By Zack Quaintance — I absolutely loved House of X #1 last week, giving it a perfect 10 out of 10 score and describing it as ‘a landmark comic.’ Keep that in mind as I tell you now that this week’s companion comic, Powers of X #1, makes House of X #1 look safe by comparison. I don’t mean this as praise or criticism. In a story as dense and assured as the big one being told now in the X-Men comics by Jonathan Hickman, good or bad doesn’t quite factor in. It’s all good, it’s all fascinating and ambitious. Still, Powers of X #1 is the almost-objectively more experimental and less predictable of the two books.

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REVIEW: House of X #1 is a landmark comic

By Zack Quaintance — Last July at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski announced the company was bringing back its beloved Uncanny X-Men title. The news was vague, with just a glimpse of a familiar Uncanny X-Men logo on a projector screen (eliciting ravenous howls). Cebulski, however, was announcing more than just a comic revival. To me, what happened in that room was an announcement that after roughly a decade-plus of corporate isolation, the company was bringing the X-Men back into the creative fold.

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Welcome to the Age of X-Man Round-Up: Your Guide to Age of X-Man

By Allison Senecal — So! The 10-part weekly series X-Men: Disassembled came, brought Legion and X-Man back to us, and then went, seemingly leaving an X-Men-less Earth-616 in its wake. Regardless of whether you think all ten issues were necessary (I’m on the fence, myself), they certainly succeeded in setting up a comparably more enticing, new era of X-Men comics.

I’m talking specifically about the Age of X-Man event, which started last week and runs through this summer, and Matthew Rosenberg’s new run on the flagship Uncanny X-Men title! AOXM, which consists of six five-part mini-series happening in the same alternate reality, includes a fantastic and diverse slate of rising creators, such as Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, who are showrunning the whole thing. AOXM looks to be a weird, wild riff on Age of Apocalypse, with its own unique aesthetic and premise. As for Uncanny, I’m largely into it because THE NEW MUTANT LADIES (and Havok, I guess) were announced for the main team, but even if you don’t love them as much as I do, I think there will be a lot to love in these comics. I’m hoping even fans disappointed by Disassembled will give one or both a go.

These round-ups, which will be running once a month, will serve as both reviews and as actual honest-to-god round-ups! So you, yes you, don’t have to read absolutely everything if you don’t want to, or maybe you’ll just be titillated enough to try a new series. Either way.

Oh yeah. Cyclops and Wolverine are back, or something! Let’s get the gang back together, eh?

Previously on Age of X-Man

Age of X-Man: Alpha #1
Writers:
Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Released: 1/30/2019
Imagine a pastel-tinged perfect world populated only by mutants, where the X-Men are revered, the religion is Hope Summers, and every mutant child is cultivated from an early age to value themselves and their powers. Too good to be true, right? Yep. Thompson and Nadler ace plopping us right into this mutant Utopia and following up the warm fuzzies with an immediate sense of unease. Sculpture of the Original Six X-Men? Check, and you heard that right! Six! What? Did you also forget Nate Grey was a founding member of the team? To top this off, the art team perfectly nails the cozy yet sterile Mid-Century Modern vibe, which always makes me at least think of repressed sexuality and TV dinners. Color palette: perfection.

Besides the opening, where we see the new Marvelous X-Men team in action, this is a delightfully quiet world-building issue, which fits the setting and adds to the general atmosphere of cultivated peace, punctuated only by a (purposely) jarring Bishop arrest scene. This is where things get truly gnarly. Jean is re-educated as a result of her and Bishop’s forbidden romance, and X-23 is brought into the team as his replacement. Sense of cultivated peace successfully shattered. Let the Age of X-Man truly commence.

Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/6/2019
Characters: Jean Grey, Storm, X-23, Magneto, Nate Grey, Nature Girl, Colossus, Nightcrawler

Much like Alpha, Marvelous opens on several scenes of serenity, this time domestic and not out in the larger world. Magneto cooking, Nate meditating, Jean reading. Blissful. Even the emergency alerts are tightly managed and seemingly non-taxing for our Marvelous X-Men. There are a few cracks in the facade, though. Nate again appears where he most definitely should not (since when was he a member of Multiple Man’s X-Factor team?) Colossus is painting, but it seems to be Lockheed. Noodle on that heartbreaker. The lowkey best part for me is the palette stays consistent from Alpha to this, and I hope that continues into all the minis. Really lends a cohesive and beautifully muted aesthetic to everything.

Of course, things begin unraveling on what appears to be an otherwise routine mission. Looped throughout the entire sequence is a PA system’s litany of “being alone is harmony“ (and other Nate Grey-isms) and slowly Jean begins to hear a psychic undercurrent of “it’s okay to love “ woven in. Once again, there’s a jarring scene that completely breaks the illusion, but this time it’s X-23 confronting Nate about her mission-interrupting memory of…a sister? After some bonding, Nate admits this is true and they had to be separated, and Laura attempts to attack him before being mind-wiped. During the next day’s leisure activities, Jean again hears the voice from the earlier mission, which turns out to be a psychic resistance rallying call sent by Apocalypse. *Jaws music*

Meanwhile on Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men #11
Writer:
Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Salvador Larroca (main), John McCrea (“Wolverine Returns”), Juanan Ramirez (“The Last Blindfold Story”)
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg (main and “The Last Blindfold Story”), Mike Spicer (“Wolverine Returns”)
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/6/2019
Characters: Cyclops, Wolverine, Blindfold, Multiple Man, Layla Miller, Callisto, Chamber, Velocidad

“This is forever.”

This is, simply put, a haunting opening issue. I don’t use that word willy-nilly, but I was in bed for a good half hour thinking about this last night. I tend to dislike the device of telling the same story via different points-of-view, especially back-to-back, but they do it in this issue and it creates a feeling of ever-tightening tension and isolation. All three linked stories are fantastic,  building on each other. I will advise that anyone with suicide triggers should be careful. I feel Rosenberg didn’t make his decisions lightly (though one death was a bit of a throwaway), and I’ve had a couple ugly cries over it, but my two cents are it’s not my business to tell people how to feel when characters die, especially two who are likely favorites to some.

Cyclops is back! And he’s searching for other mutants to join his cause (finding the missing X-Men and fixing everything, because of course), because a world without X-Men is pretty dank. Blindfold eventually finds him and gives a warning. “This is forever.” It echoes through the rest of the issue like a pipe drip you can’t quite pinpoint. Scott hits up other known mutants, including a Chamber-led group in the sewers, and is found by Multiple Man. Jamie warns him about bothering Blindfold, who Scott then finds dead in her home, with the words “this is forever” scrawled next to her. A death-wish leads Scott to an anti-mutant rally and scuffle with Cap, after which he calls attention to himself on national TV and sends a message to other mutants to meet him “where this all began”. Of course he’s ambushed, and saved by Wolverine, leading to a little chills-inducing greeting.

In the next story, events then start from the beginning, this time with Wolverine watching everything from the shadows, and Kid Cable telling him to keep an eye on Scott. Layla Miller tells Logan to find Blindfold if he wants help so he heads down to the sewers where he comes across a rapidly aged Velocidad who tells him Blindfold doesn’t want to be found, of course right before she tracks Logan down and hits him with some ominous conversation. We see the altercation at the end from Logan’s perspective, and his decision to intervene and reveal himself to Scott.

The last story loop belongs to Ruth/Blindfold. We find out she’s won the lottery, getting her out of the sewers, but her powers have been shorting out since the events of Disassembled and she keeps having violent visions. She seems to no longer have a clear concept of past, present, or future. After the previously mentioned exchange with Logan, she draws herself a bath and kills herself, stating she sees she no longer has a future.

Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 provided some STELLAR hooks for the six AOXM miniseries so let’s take a look at what might be next…..

Next Time on Age of X-Man

NextGen.jpg

Age of X-Man: NextGen #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Release Date: 2/13/2019
What is up with that slow zoom-in on Glob’s very haunted gaze? What happens when a bunch of teens and young adults find out not everything is as it seems?

Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Release Date: 2/20/2019
NATURALLY, the handsomest (even without his beard) X-man is a famous actor in this perfect reality. The Cuckoos are his agents. Magma is his stunt coordinator. What could go wrong?

Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Leah Williams
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Release Date: 2/27/2019
Hey, what’s a utopia without a secret police force? *ominous music* Just how much policing do they need to do? Who exactly is Moneta, this new mutant? Why is Bobby wearing suspenders?

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Release Date: 3/6/2019
So where did Bishop go? Here, apparently! What are his fellow inmates in for? What’s up with Dani Moonstar, who is almost definitely in two places at once (here and Uncanny later this month)?

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Tim Seeley
Artist: Salva Espin
Release Date: 3/13/2019
Apocalypse?! A GOOD GUY? Basically seems that way….and working with Kitty Pryde? I guess….what the #$%& is going on? Why is he sending subversive psychic messages to everyone?

Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.

Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — This week could maybe be looked at as DC Strikes Back, or something...if it weren’t for Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men #1, which in spite of its $7.99 price tag is still likely to sell more copies than any other title this week. Still, the slate of new DC and indie books is strong, with the former launching Electric Warriors, concluding Mister Miracle, and re-orienting Wonder Woman with a new creative team of G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Cary Nord (The Unexpected).

The real highlight of the week, meanwhile, comes from David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene, as the team launches their long-awaited familial Harlem Renaissance monster-hunting book, Bitter Root. This was on our Most Anticipated Comics of 2018 list waaaaay back last January, and now it’s finally here. Obviously, Bitter Root lands as our featured books for the Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018. Oh, and look for a review later this week, but for now….

Let’s get to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018

PICK OF THE WEEK
Bitter Root #1
Writers:
David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorists: Rico Renzi & Sanford Greene
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
In the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance is in full swing, and only the Sangerye Family can save New York-and the world-from the supernatural forces threatening to destroy humanity. But the once-great family of monster hunters has been torn apart by tragedies and conflicting moral codes. The Sangerye Family must heal the wounds of the past and move beyond their differences... or sit back and watch a force of unimaginable evil ravage the human race.
Why It’s Cool: David F. Walker and Sanford Greene have teamed up before, specifically on a brief Power Man and Iron Fist run that if there was any justice in the corporate comics world would have run for 50+ issues. And now they’re back together! Transferring the creative alchemy they found at Marvel to the creator-owned vision described above. Simply put, this has the potential to be a MAJOR comic.

Electric Warriors #1
Writer:
Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Years after the Great Disaster, the Earth has started to rebuild and rejoin the universal coalition. In order to prevent a galactic war, different worlds throughout the known cosmos have created a new system of competitive combat to give each participating planet their own voice in the intergalactic struggle. Each world has one diplomatic gladiator, chosen to possess the Electric Seed and fight for their homeland as the Electric Warrior! Each fighter forsakes their personal life in the name of peace. So what happens when Earth can't choose a single combatant and sends two instead? The bruiser War Cry represents the humans of Earth, while Deep Dweller, a shape-shifter from the Octopus Tribe, represents the animal kingdom. Can they maintain one common goal, or will they tear Earth's tenuous coexistence to shreds and destroy the rest of the universe with it? Oh, and War Cry also has a powerful relic from Earth's past: Superman's cape!
Why It’s Cool: This book features one of the wildest and most original visions we’ve seen from either of the Big 2 in sometime, especially as it pertains to Travel Foreman’s artwork. Paired with Hi-Fi’s colors, the wispy shades of neon in this book really differentiate it from any other superhero universe fare on the market. Meanwhile, writer Steve Orlando is perhaps DC’s foremost continuity explorer, fearlessly drawing from his own deep knowledge of the publisher’s history. He’s right at home here crafting a compelling narrative within Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster Era.  

Lone Ranger #2
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Tonto and the Lone Ranger go to Austin to foil a plan to cover the Texas panhandle in barbed wire. They are discovered and have to fight their way out of the city. Tonto devises a new strategy based on trick plays he learned from playing football at the Carlisle Indian School and Silver knocks a man unconscious with a wooden post.
Why It’s Cool: We’ve been heaping all kinds of praise on this book, most recently in our Best New #1 Comics of October 2017, and we’re not going to stop any time soon. This book is as smart as it is well done, and if you like great comics, you should be reading it, even if you care as little about the Lone Ranger character as I did coming into this.

Mister Miracle #12
Writer:
Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
It'll be a miracle if you can get through this mind-bending conclusion with your sanity intact! After his epic battle with Darkseid, Scott Free sees life a whole new way: he's the new Highfather of New Genesis, and he's madly in love with his wife and child. But what if it's all a lie? Did Mister Miracle really escape death way back in issue #1? No one really knows but Tom King and Mitch Gerads!
Why It’s Cool: Mister Miracle is one of the smartest and most poignant comics that DC has published in many, many years, and this issue marks its conclusion. This is, simply put, the sort of finale that not only sticks the landing but does so in a way that validates all of the creative choices that came before it, making the already-strong previous acts of this story even stronger. This was one hell of a comic.

Uncanny X-Men #1
Writers:
Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson, & Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Mahmud A. Asrar, Mark Bagley, & Mirko Colak
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $7.99
THE CHILDREN OF THE ATOM ARE BACK! New ongoing series kicking off with a 10-part weekly epic, the flagship X-Men series that started it all is back and better than ever! Starting with a mysterious and tragic disappearance, the X-Men are drawn into what might be...their final adventure?! X-Fan favorite writers Ed Brisson (EXTERMINATION), Matthew Rosenberg (PHOENIX RESURRECTION) and Kelly Thompson (MR. & MRS. X) and all-star artists Mahmud Asrar (X-MEN RED), R.B. Silva (X-MEN BLUE), Yildiray Cinar (WEAPON X) and Pere Pérez (ROGUE AND GAMBIT) join forces to bring you...X-MEN DISASSEMBLED?!
Why It’s Cool: In one sense, Marvel is back on its old cash grabbing bull*#$@, relaunching one of its most-popular titles of all time with a $7.99 first issue. Not only that, but this is the start of a 10-part weekly series. Marvel, simply put, knows readers will get this comic regardless, and so they’re going to take them for every last penny. Capitalism! That said, in between the cash grabbing Marvel has been providing really strong stories, and—carping about the cost aside—there’s no reason to believe this one will be any different. The X-world has been on the rise as of late (now that Marvel has its film rights back...ahem) led by a group of young writers who clearly grew up fans of the comics. Brisson, Thompson, and Rosenberg are chief among them, and we can’t wait to see what they do with this series. But also, did we mention it costs $7.99??!

Wonder Woman #58
Writer:
G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Cary Nord
Inker: Mick Gray
Artist: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Far below Themyscira, Ares, the God of War, has been imprisoned for generations, repenting his past sins. But his new cellmate Grail may have an unexpected effect on him...and the plan they've come up with will change Themyscira-and the world- forever! When Wonder Woman rushes to Eastern Europe to rescue Steve Trevor from a mission gone wrong, she'll find herself face-to-face with a very new, very different God of War!
Why It’s Cool: G. Willow Wilson is a big get for Wonder Woman, a smart and thoughtful writer, Wilson has built the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel character into one of the most exciting teen concepts in comics. This is a whole other challenge altogether—building on decades of continuity within a much-loved and venerable franchise. We very much think that Wilson and her artistic collaborator Cary Nord are up for it.  

Top New #1 Comics

  • Black Order #1

  • Bloodshot: Rising Spirit #1

  • Comics Comics Quarterly #1

  • Firefly #1

  • Infinity Wars: Infinity Wraps #1

  • Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against The Devils in Suits One Shot

  • William Gibson’s Alien 3 #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Amazing Spider-Man #9

  • Avengers #10 (#700)

  • Cemetery Beach #3

  • Captain America #9

  • Cosmic Ghost Rider #5

  • Euthanauts #4

  • Fantastic Four #3

  • Friendo #2

  • Gideon Falls #8

  • Hawkman #6

  • Infinite Dark #2

  • Ms. Marvel #36

  • Murder Falcon #2

  • Oblivion Song #9

  • Proxima Centauri #6

  • Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #4

  • Thor #7

  • Skyward #8

  • Supergirl #24

  • Superman #5

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.

Thirsty Thursdays: October’s Hottest Comics Art

By Allison Senecal — Superhero comic art has evolved at a really impressive rate in recent years...so much so that sometimes it can be a lot to handle. First there’s excitement, obviously, but then that excitement turns into something else...which is why each month we’re running our Thirsty Thursday rankings, a new and different way to look at our favorite comic art. Welcome to a sporadic examination of (as the kids say) the month’s thirstiest comics.

Enjoy!

The Thirstiest Comics of October 2018

Daredevil #609 & #610 — Elektra is back in Matt’s life, and back in her classic costume!! Phil Noto draws the most beautiful Elektra since Mike Del Mundo. I guess Matt was in his own series this month, but I don’t even remember.  
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Ummm, Matt Who? (Art by Phil Noto.)

Domino #7 — I don’t know which is better…art nouveau Dom or cranky early morning pug-slippers wearing Dom. (DID SHE SEND TO ONE OF THOSE COMPANIES THAT WILL MAKE STUFF THAT LOOK LIKE YOUR PETS? BECAUSE… CUTE.)
💦💦💦💦 out of 5

A-DORABLE! (Art by David Baldeon.)

Fine, but don’t make me pick which Dom is thirstiest.

Justice League Odyssey #2 — This was a very Starfire-centric issue, which is a glorious thing since it’s also Stjepan Sejic’s last interior work on this series. Kory’s compassion is what I love most about her, and it shines in the last few pages, really softening her face and creating some truly lovely panels. I’m really going to miss Sejic drawing her hair.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Starfire is also fluent in the language of IMPOSSIBLY LUSCIOUS hair. (Art by Stjepan Sejic.)

Extermination #4 — Mutant dudes just don’t wear shirts during X-crises, and that’s valid.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5 (One sweat droplet for every shirtless man.)

Clearly, mankind has evolved past its need for t-shirts. (Art by Pepe Larraz.)

Euthanauts #3 — Off the top of my head, I absolutely can not think of anyone, barring maybe Coipel, who draws the human figure (in ALL of its figures) better than Nick Robles. It’s just so marvelous to open this comic every month and see a full range of the human aesthetic. And this was a very sexy issue.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

This book may be about death, but, WARNING, it’s going to do things to your pulse. (Art by Nick Robles.)

Wonder Woman #57 (The Witching Hour, part 4) —  This entire event has benefitted from some great artists, but this was probably my favorite chapter. Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy’s Constantine and Zatanna are hottttttttttttttttttt (and cute, dear Lord, this issue was sad). You don’t need dialogue to see the chemistry, which I love.
💦💦💦💦 out of 5

The end of the world has never looked so thirsty. (Art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy.)

X-Men Black: Emma Frost — EMMA FROST IS BACK. IN BLACK. I screamed. I love her. She deserves this. When Miss Frost is in a comic, expect that comic to be in this feature that month. 👑 💦💦💦💦💦 👑 out of ….. what? Emma Frost is the ratings system.

Hell-ooo, indeed. (Art by Chris Bachalo.)

Bonus: Have you SEEN this Jeff Dekal Variant for Uncanny X-Men #1????? Have you had it lasered into the backs of your eyelids or transmogrified into sound and pumped into your ears? HAVE YOU?? Now thank Laura Kinney for giving us all the time of day.

Sorry in advance for November.

Check out The Thirstiest Comics of September.

Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.

Top Modern Superhero Artists: The Sultans of Style at Marvel and DC

By Taylor Pechter — In comics, there’s always debate over what is more important: writing or art. These discussions can go either way, but they almost always conclude that both are equally important in different ways. Writers give characters their personalities, desires, and struggles, while the artists give motion and create a flow to the story. Artists also give characters different body types, faces, and ticks that writers can’t show with words alone. They are, simply put, storytellers in their own right.

Through the many decades of comics history individual artists have helped inform the style of the time. From legends like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby in the Golden and Silver Ages, to the sleek photorealism of Neal Adams in the Bronze Age, to the incomparable detail of George Perez that helped usher in the Modern Age of comic art. However, in the past 20 years, a handful of artists have helped push the medium forward, while defining the company they belong to. This has been dubbed house style.

Exactly what is considered house style has changed during the past few years, but, even so, what I’d like to look at today are the artists who who have helped define their respective superhero universes.

DC

1. Jim Lee — Arguably the most popular artist of the 1990s, Jim Lee rose to fame drawing the X-Men for Marvel in the early years of the decade before breaking away to form Image and his company, WildStorm Productions. In the late 90s, he sold his company to DC, bringing his signature style over to the brand. Lee’s style contains heavy linework, chiseled jawlines, extreme detail, and dynamic action. This style has helped define the look of the modern DCU by making it grander and more epic in scale. Currently, Lee serves as Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment.

Notable Works:

  • Batman: Hush

  • All-Star Batman and Robin: The Boy Wonder

  • Justice League: Origin

  • Superman: Unchained

2. Ivan Reis — Coming to American comics all the way from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ivan Reis has quickly become the go to event artist for DC of the past decade. Combining the sleekness of Neal Adams, the cinematic flair of Bryan Hitch, and the sheer scale of George Perez, Reis is a defining artist of the current generation. He’s also a notable collaborator with modern DC architect Geoff Johns, and his delicate-yet-cinematic style has helped bring new prominence to characters like Green Lantern and the Teen Titans. He’s currently drawing Superman, which is written by Brian Michael Bendis.

  • Infinite Crisis (With Phil Jimenez, George Perez, and Jerry Ordway)

  • Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War

  • Blackest Night

  • Teen Titans: Titans of Tomorrow

3. Gary Frank — English superstar Gary Frank is a roughly 23-year veteran of the business. Frank got his start at DC helping co-create the Birds of Prey team with legendary Bat-scribe Chuck Dixon. He later honed his craft at Marvel, drawing the Incredible Hulk and also collaborating with J. Michael Straczynski, but he eventually returned to DC to become one of, if not the defining Superman artists. With his keen eye for detail, simple-but-effective panel layouts, deep shadows, and expressive faces, Frank has become a favorite of mine and of many others.

Notable Works:

  • Superman: Brainiac

  • Superman: Secret Origin

  • Batman: Earth One

  • Doomsday Clock (currently ongoing)

4. Alex Ross — Arguably the most recognizable artist of this bunch, Chicago-based painter Alex Ross combines the photorealism of Norman Rockwell with the grandeur of the DCU. Ross depicts superheroes the way they were always meant to be seen: standing taller than life in the face of adversity. Using vast landscapes, strong postures, and smiles galore, Ross has become a multimedia sensation, not only drawing comics but also creating posters for film and video games.

  • Kingdom Come

  • The World’s Greatest Super Heroes

  • Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come

5. Jason Fabok — The newest artist on the DC block, Canadian Jason Fabok rose to prominence during DC’s New 52. While starting on smaller stories in Detective Comics, he later became popular via the mega Bat-event Batman Eternal followed by a run on Justice League with Geoff Johns. With his blend of realism, glossy texture, cinematic layouts, and brutal action, Fabok has fast-become one of the most acclaimed DC artists of the decade.

  • Batman Eternal

  • Justice League Darkseid War

  • Batman/Flash: The Button

  • Three Jokers (upcoming)

Marvel

1. Joe Quesada —  Coming from New York City, Joe Quesada, much like his contemporary at DC Jim Lee, had a hand in crafting Marvel’s signature style coming out of the 90’. With inker Jimmy Palmiotti, Quesada redefined what street-level Marvel meant, fueling the creation of Marvel Knights. Quesada’s use of overly exaggerated proportions, dense and heavy shadows, and cartoony-yet-expressive faces is part of the blueprint for Marvel to this day. He now acts as Chief Creative Officer for Marvel Entertainment.

  • Daredevil: Guardian Devil

  • Spider-Man: One More Day

2. David Finch —  Another comics superstar hailing from the Great White North, David Finch started drawing in the late 1990s for Marc Silvestri’s company Top Cow before moving to the House of Ideas in the 2000s. An early collaborator with a young Brian Michael Bendis, Finch’s heavy shadows, musclebound heroes, and cinematic action helped Marvel craft a denser and darker universe. He now works as a freelance artist and is husband to writer Meredith Finch. Most recently he has drawn issues of Tom King’s ongoing run on DC’s Batman.

  • Avengers Disassembled

  • New Avengers: Breakout

  • Moon Knight: The Bottom

  • Ultimatum

3. Steve McNiven — This is the last Canadian artist on this list, I promise. McNiven has been a Marvel mainstay since the early 2000s, when he did many covers for the publisher. His big break, however, came in 2006, when he was tapped for Marvel’s biggest event of the decade, Civil War. After that, McNiven started a partnership with Mark Millar. He is a king of rendering, using different styles of fabric and metal to do so. He adds many layers of texture that help lend to his somewhat stylized photorealism. His explosive panel layouts and eye for epic moments have led him to become one of Marvel’s blockbuster exclusive artists.

  • Civil War

  • Wolverine: Old Man Logan

  • Death of Wolverine

  • New Avengers: The Sentry

4. Olivier Coipel —  Magical, mythical, grandiose...these are all words that have been used to describe French artist Olivier Coipel’s work. Rising to prominence as a frequent collaborator of Brian Bendis, Coipel helped tear down and rebuild the Marvel Universe many times over. With his delicate linework, his characters move with a certain grace along with detailed architecture and lush landscapes that help create truly stunning comics.

  • House of M

  • Thor (2007)

  • Siege

  • Unworthy Thor

5. Leinil Francis Yu —  Last but not least we come to Filipino artist Leinil Francis Yu, who got his start his start in the late 90’s, his claim to fame being a major stint on Wolverine and other X-Men titles. His style is much looser than the others on this list. Yu uses many different lines to add intricacies. During Marvel’s big resurgence in the 2000’s, he became, much like Coipel and McNiven, a go to artist for the blockbuster events and headlining books. His action is frenetic and that helps greatly set the pace for the books that he draws.

  • Wolverine

  • Secret Invasion

  • Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk

  • Captain America (currently ongoing)

In the end, these artists have all been mainstays of certain universes with styles that while influenced by many great artists before them, are still uniquely their own. They have all played significant roles in creating the house styles that differentiate the two superhero universes, with DC having a more detailed, almost photorealistic look, while Marvel features a more exaggerated, cartoony, and fantastical aesthetic. These artists have helped redefine their universes; they are true sultans of superhero style.

Taylor Pechter is a passionate comic book fan and nerd. Find him on Twitter @TheInspecter.

Best New #1 Comics of August 2018

By Zack Quaintance — I love any month wherein indie publishers sweep our top five best new #1 comics list, and this is (obviously) one of those months. I’m not sure how often this happens, but it’s always a treat. This month, simply put, brought one of the best crops of new creator-owned debut issues I’ve ever seen...two of which were even by the same writer!

What’s also great is the diversity of publisher among our top 5 best new #1 comics of August 2018, with books coming from usual suspects like Dark Horse and Image, and from other sources too, including AfterShock Comics, Scout Comics, and IDW’s Black Crown imprint. Yes, not only do we have a top 5 consisting entirely of indie books, we also have a list that features five different indie comics publishers!

The state of comics is strong, friends, strong indeed. We are truly lucky to be fans of this storytelling medium in such exciting times. Now then, let’s get to the list!

Quick Hits

It's been a while since I've enjoyed a big Marvel event as much as the first two issues of Infinity Wars, both of which came out this month. I attribute this to killer Deodato art and an increasingly strong overall state of affairs within the Marvel Universe.

The DC/Looney Toons specials were a delight, yet again. The Lex Luthor/Porky Pig Special #1 and the Catwoman, Tweety, & Sylvester Special #1 don’t hit Batman/Elmer Fudd levels of greatness, but they’re both quite good.

In my Extermination #1 review, I wrote about liking it because it seemed like minor cleanup of X-continuity in preparation for November’s relaunch of Uncanny X-Men. If that’s what this series ends up being, count me in for all five issues.

After what he did with Mike Allred in Silver Surfer, Dan Slott has 100 percent of my trust when it comes to nailing the family dynamic at the heart of the Fantastic Four. The first issue did nothing to change that.

I’m currently working my way through the original Sandman for the first time (I know, I know), one issue per night, and the reason why is because I found the Sandman Universe #1 teaser issue so intriguing.  

I loved Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ recently-concluded series Grass Kings. They’re back now, with a completely new book, Black Badge, and I’m all in. Read my review of Black Badge #1.

I have a new rotating gig writing the DC Round-Up for my favorite comics website, The Beat, and I got Pearl #1 with my first crop of books...and I loved it! Read my first DC Round-Up, in which I discuss Pearl.

Cold Spots #1 was appropriately chilling, promising more horror to come and living up to its title.

Leviathan #1 is one of those new books that brings together a creative union so perfect it seems like it's been going on for years.

West Coast Avengers #1 is a perfect use of every character in it, and a natural evolution of this franchise. I’m glad it exists.

Top 5 Best #1 Comics of August 2018

Crowded #1 by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Farrell, & Cardinal Rae

As someone currently working a full-time job, plus three other work-for-hire writing side gigs that involve logging keyboard time fairly regularly at all hours (nights, weekends, etc.)...this late capitalist horror story about a young woman targeted by a crowd-sourced assassination app who subsequently contracts a defender via another separate app...well, it hit close to home for me.

My own economic and professional perspectives aside, Crowded #1 is simply a well-done comic. The pacing spares no tension, giving us just the right amount of info before throwing us into rapid action, and the bits Sebela and team reveal about their two lead characters are equal parts relatable and fascinating. What this book excels at most, however, is emphasizing the absurdity of what it’s like to work in 2018, extending the gig economy to a logical-yet-horrific extreme that should make every reader afraid, or at least introspective the next time they call an Uber.

Hot Lunch Special #1 by Eliot Rahal, Jorge Fornes, & Taylor Esposito

Hot Lunch Special, as I’ve said on Twitter, blends a generational American immigrant story with Midwestern crime noir evocative of Fargo. The result is a comic unlike any other on the stands today. Essentially, you come to this book for the mafioso murder/extortion plot line, and you stay for the touches of sincere graphic memoir—or maybe vice versa.

Even with severed appendages inside sandwiches appearing pretty near the story’s start, it’s to Hot Lunch Special’s credit it feels understated, as a good Midwestern story should. This is due in large part to the impressive work Rahal and Fornes do building character, particularly with the younger members of the family. An organized crime story is just so much more compelling when you start to tangle up those who are born into it, who maybe don’t realize the extent of the dirt and certainly didn’t ask for it. Rahal and Fornes know this well, and it makes for a great comic.

House Amok #1 by Christopher Sebela, Shawn McManus, Lee Loughridge, & Aditya Bidikar

Annnnnd here we have another entry from writer Christopher Sebela, this time via IDW’s en fuego Black Crown imprint, which landed a book in last month’s Best New #1 Comics with another favorite of ours, The Euthanauts. The hits will likely keep coming for Black Crown too, what with the Laphams rolling out a crime noir book this fall about a nefarious shape-shifting travel blogger (I know, right?! sounds amazing). But I digress.

House Amok is visually rich with the work of veteran artist Shawn McManus, colored so effectively here by Lee Loughridge, one of the industry’s best at using different tones to establish flashbacks and mood. In addition to the stellar art, Sebela deploys a precocious narrative voice, a child writing about her literally crazed family in an innocent diary, trying to parse her own little healthy reality amid the violence the older relatives she’s supposed to trust continue to justify are perpetrate. Lyrical and dark, I’m all in on this comic.

Long Lost Book 2 #1 by Matthew Erman & Lisa Sterle

Speaking of lyrical and dark, our next new #1 is more of a continuation than a pure debut, but we like it so much we had to include it. And, hey, isn’t more of a continuation than a pure debut an accurate summation for nearly every new superhero #1 of the past two or three decades? Anyway, Long Lost is everything that’s healthy about indie comics right now rolled into one brilliant sequential graphic story.

In this book, readers find experimentation with form, effective-yet-subtle visuals that convey mood, patient characterization, and ideas that are mysterious and haunting. By design, much of the nature of this book is still to be revealed, yet the ride we’ve been on now through seven total issues has been thoroughly engrossing, incorporating ideas about the past, moving on, and sisterhood. Do yourself a favor: find and binge every issue of this comic. And do it while spending a long and quiet weekend somewhere, nostalgic and alone.

Seeds #1 by Ann Nocenti & David Aja

Ann Nocenti and David Aja’s Seeds #1 is the type of comic that will bug your eyes, expanding your consciousness and giving you occasion to slow down and run your hand over its pages and pages of stunning and provocative visuals. This book is probably best classified as near-future science fiction, a genre thriving in comics right now. Something about Seeds, however, feels different; as if these creators were given an actual glimpse of a future, complete with logical societal changes that are as of now impossible to predict.

Maybe that’s what makes Seeds feel so obviously brilliant—its world feels realistic, yet very much the product of the creators’ minds, sharp and visionary as they are. This is a four-part series, and after one issue I’m unequivocally on board for all of it. Nocenti and Aja are both towering talents who’ve contributed seminal works to mainstream superhero comic books, and now they’ve gone off-map. Be excited and afraid.

Check out more of our monthly lists here.

Zack Quaintance is a journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.