How DiNK Offers A Different Style of Comic Con

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 9, 2018.

DiNK Comics Convention

DiNK, the Denver Independent Comics & Art Expo, will be held on April 14-15. This is the event’s third year and it has proven itself to be an invaluable new gathering for creators and fans of the comics medium. In a convention scene packed with celebrities, DiNK emphasizes the individuals who create comics, zines, and other related artforms. This weekend celebration, complete with awards show and workshops, has a lot to offer anyone who enjoys comics.

One of the most obvious attractions of DiNK is their list of exhibitors. They run the gamut from some of today’s most talented cartoonists to a burgeoning array of up-and-coming artists. Individuals like Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, Dept H.) and Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer, Sweet Tooth) have made their mark on both superhero comics and the creator-owned scene. Whether you love Lemire’s mind-bending take on Moon Knight or can’t get enough of Kindt’s watercolor odysseys, they will both be in attendance to meet fans and share wisdom. They’re far from the only stars attending either. Charles Forsman, creator of the Netflix-adapted The End of the F***ing World, Box Brown (Andre the Giant), and Joe Kelly (I Kill Giants) will also all be in attendance, along with plenty of other beloved creators.

DiNK has more than 250 total exhibitors including artists of every style, shape, and fashion. The show offers a fellowship to help 13 creators facing financial hardship attend each year, helping fans and creators who might not connect otherwise. That fellowship is intended for newcomers and established artists alike. It’s intent is to attract a more diverse array of artistic talent and ensure creators facing hard times are still given opportunities to build their fanbase and visit the great comics community of Colorado.

There are also the annual DiNKy Awards, a new awards show designed to promote great comics art based purely on merit. It emphasizes small press publications and a diverse array of entrants in an awards show that goes much more quickly than the Oscars. Winners receive an ink pot-shaped statue and should be placed on every comics fans must read list for 2018.

The location of DiNK is another attraction. Based in the heart of Denver, DiNK provides great options for hotel, shopping, and recreation after hours. Denver’s thriving arts community and restaurant scene offer plenty of reasons to stay an extra day and avoid sleeping during the weekend. There’s simply too much to take in both at the convention and beyond its walls. The show also features some unique packages for visitors coming from outside of Colorado.

No matter how tempting the rest of Denver may be, the number one attraction of DiNK remains obvious: Comics. It’s a word that is tossed around a lot in conventions today, but DiNK is one show where comics are still king. Attendees can expect to meet some of today’s greatest talents and discover plenty of work from cartoonists just starting to make their mark. Everything about DiNK, the panels, workshops, awards, and more, is focused on the art. Whether you’re an aspiring creator, dedicated fan, or someone who’s just curious what comics are about, then there’s no better convention in the Great Plains to attend than DiNK.

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The 8 Greatest Green Arrow Allies Ever

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 9, 2018.

Green Arrow Allies - Family

This week Green Arrow reaches the climax of “Tale of Two Cities” and its story since the Rebirth relaunch in a special oversized issue. As Oliver Queen takes on Merlyn to foil his master plan, he’s relying on the dependable set of allies, sometimes affectionately referred to as Team Arrow, to keep him out of trouble. Even before the current run by writer Benjamin Percy, Green Arrow has always functioned as a de facto teambook. It’s something that some of the character’s best known writers, like Kevin Smith and Dennis O’Neil, have known for a long time. This is a character who works best when surrounded by people.

That’s why we’re taking a look at the many friends, family, and other assorted allies who have given Green Arrow the most support in the past and present. They range from introductions as early as 1941 to this very decade, and come from all across the world of DC Comics. Green Arrow has been around for a very long time and his stories reveal a great set of teammates. These are the 8 greatest allies to join “Team Arrow” in the comics so far.

Roy Harper

Created by: Mort Weisinger and George Papp

First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73

No one has been by Green Arrow’s side longer than Roy Harper. He’s a superhero now best known by his real name due to the number of alter-egos he has maintained over the many years. Roy was introduced as Speedy, a ward and sidekick in the early tradition of Robin, and would appear regularly in Green Arrow-related comics, as well as become a founding member of the Teen Titans. Following an infamous story in which Roy is addicted to heroin, the character took a turn for the dark side. He has since used the aliases of Arsenal and Red Arrow, becoming a more violent hero and sharing a more contentious relationship with his mentor. That relationship appears to be on the mend as the two see one another more as peers after so many years spent together.

Black Canary

Created by: Mort Weisinger and Carmine Infantino

First Appearance: More Fun Comics #86

There are few superhero romances that have lasted as long as the one between Green Arrow and his “pretty bird”. The two have been dating for decades and were even briefly married. No matter how many other relationships they might have, superhero fans always expect them to wind up together. That shouldn’t imply their road has been an easy one. Black Canary and Green Arrow have always been a contentious pairing, fighting just as passionately with as they care for one another. In spite of any conflicts, they see the hero at the heart of their companion and are dedicated to their dearest friend (and sometimes lover) when the chips are down.


Created by: Kevin Smith and Phil Hester

First Appearance: Green Arrow (vol. 3) #2

The second Speedy came from a much tougher background than the first. Mia Dearden had an incredibly difficult childhood when she first encountered Green Arrow. Yet under his tutelage she found a family of her own and a calling as a new superhero for Star City. Due to past experience with abuse the trust formed between her and her teammates was hard earned, but her loyalty has proven to be one of her most lasting characteristics. Mia also stands out as one of the few HIV-positive superheroes in comics.

Connor Hawke

Created by: Kelley Puckett and Jim Aparo

First Appearance: Green Arrow (vol. 2) #0

Given all of the wards Oliver Queen has adopted over the years, it came as a surprise when he discovered that he had a biological son. Connor was raised far from his father’s influence, but is still inspired by the legacy of Green Arrow and is more committed to his dad than his dad was to him. He has picked up the Green Arrow legacy more than once and was the featured marksman of JLA for a time. There are few characters on “Team Arrow” as noble as Hawke and he makes his father and teammates proud on a regular basis, no matter what superhero name he carries.

Emiko Queen

Created by: Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino

First Appearance: Green Arrow (vol. 5) #18

Emiko is another recently revealed member of the Queen family, a half-sister to Oliver hidden from him and his father by her mother, the assassin Shado. Emiko was raised to be an incredibly deadly young woman, bearing some resemblance to Damian Wayne. However, after initially trying to kill her half-brother, Emiko came to accept their familial bond and care for the superhero who refused to hurt her. After lots of hard work, Emiko has taken the title of Red Arrow and become another member of the extended Arrow family in addition to the Queen family.


Created by: Mike Grell and Lurine Haines

First Appearance: Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #1

Emiko’s mother began her career in comics as a new antagonist, but was quickly revealed to play the role of anti-hero. Since first appearing in “The Longbow Hunters”, Shado has regularly returned, sometimes as friend and sometimes as foe. In spite of her more deadly methods, the years have revealed Shado to have a strong sense of honor and to care deeply for the people she loves. Those characteristics have made her an invaluable ally to Green Arrow on more than one occasion.

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

Created by: John Broome and Gil Kane

First Appearance: Showcase #22

The Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams run of Green Lantern/Green Arrow served both to bring Oliver Queen back to the spotlight and cement one of the great superhero friendships of all time. The pair served as an odd couple in which Hal Jordan was the straight man who Green Arrow had to bring out of his shell. While these stories have not aged as well as others, the bond between heroes has survived death and all other sorts of travails.

John Diggle

Created by: Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim

First (Comics) Appearance: Green Arrow (vol. 5) #24

John Diggle may become a rare example of a superhero character introduced in movies or television who becomes even more successful in comics. He made the jump when introduced by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino in their stunning run on the series. Just like in Arrow Diggle is a reliable friend who offers a wide array of skills and dedicated work ethic. It’s clear from the television series that Diggle is one of the best allies Oliver Queen has encountered, and his comics career has only just begun.

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Review: Oblivion Song #1 Presents Robert Kirkman At His Best

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 07, 2018.

Oblivion Song Review - Cover

As creators in comics become more established, we as readers pick up on their tics and traits. We come to understand what to expect from their work and the potential of a new #1 issue offers just a bit less luster. There are few writers better established in comics than Robert Kirkman. The Walking Dead and Invincible, his behemoth works at Image Comics, have established exactly what sorts of story Kirkman writes and how he writes them. The former has even spread many of those tendencies to one of the largest television audiences of today. It’s this expectation that makes Oblivion Song #1 not necessarily a surprise, but an invigorating new vision from Kirkman and exciting newcome Lorenzo De Felici.

The premise is relatively simple, although it suggest layers of complexity to be revealed. A large portion of Philadelphia has been sealed away after being overrun by extradimensional monsters. The Oblivion, as its known, has been largely forgotten with monuments raised for those lost, with the exception of a small group who continues to explore it and rescue increasingly rare survivors. They are led by the resilient Nathan Cole.

De Felici immediately differentiates this world from what fans might come to expect from a post-apocalyptic landscape. There are crumbling buildings and poorly garbed survivors, but the landscape is far more surreal. The closest points of reference would be the work of James Harren in series like Rumble and B.P.R.D., both of which also deal in monsters that are outside of Earth’s ecosystem. Fungus-like growths boil out of brick walls and even the sky seems contorted, as if torn between two realities. The first issue is bookended with trips to Oblivion and the few examples of monsters and deformities revealed are enough to make this series stand out from seemingly similar entries.

The brutal world of Oblivion provides half of the focus of Oblivion Song. It is the driver of drama and action. The ever-present danger presents it as a largely quiet world in which Nathan works silently, even when sprinting from creatures or firing his rifle. An occasional exclamation is all that can be expected as De Felici concisely connects cause and effect between panels. The opening sequence of the series is a real attention grabber with new elements being smartly added through the use of shadows or other small details.

Yet Oblivion is still only half of the thematic focus in this debut. The heart of the drama stems from arguments occurring in Washington, D.C. There is a tension between those that want to confront the existence of Oblivion, like Nathan, and those ready to memorialize and forget about it. That conflict between dealing with a dangerous issue and accepting its existence without hope of change could not have come at a more politically potent moment. It’s easy to draw connections between the arguments had in Oblivion Song #1 and national discussions over gun control, foreign wars, and other politically wrought issues. While Kirkman’s series typically strive to remain apolitical, especially The Walking Dead, Oblivion Song finds its greatest strength here. It also establishes the arguments not as a simple right-wrong opposition, but as two approaches grounded in human nature. Even if one is truly right, there are characters on both sides of the conversation providing a sympathetic grounding.

Oblivion Song #1 is likely to exceed the expectations of readers across the board. It reveals De Felici as an artist well worth watching as he crafts setting and characters in equally fascinating degrees. It also pushes Kirkman beyond his comfort zone. The character archetypes and despair-laden premise are familiar, but their presentation and execution are far different than many of his other titles. There is an engagement with the present that makes it read as a comic for 2018, rather than one that was just released this year. It is grappling with issues that provide no easy solutions, and excels at blending them with horror and action. There are both the makings of something familiar and entirely fresh within Oblivion Song #1, and together they make this a series worth watching.

Published by Image Comics

On March 7, 2018

Written by Robert Kirkman

Art by Lorenzo De Felici

Colors by Annalisa Leoni

Cover by Lorenzo De Felici

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Review: Infinity Countdown #1 Delivers Big Event Action (And Laughs)

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 07, 2018.

Infinity Countdown #1 Review - Cover

Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder have been flying under the radar as one of the best creative teams working in superhero comics today on Guardians of the Galaxy. The suspension of that series was a temporary disappointment—temporary because their return on Infinity Countdown #1 provides a slamdunk of an event. In spite of various, unclear plot threads involving infinity stones and characters from every corner of Marvel Comics, this issue delivers a great starting point packed with action and comedy.

Almost everything in Infinity Countdown #1 is about the Guardians and their dual climactic battles to protect the Power Stone and defeat The Gardener. The issue is bookended with a handful of pages engaged with other mysteries, but Duggan’s script emphasizes the resolution of these battles and makes for a much more focused comic. The looming threat of Thanos and the capture of stones is understood, but this issue is more focused on the story at hand and delivering a narrative that will keep readers returning. Ambition never exceeds craft, and that alone makes it stand out from other recent first crossover issues.

While there are plenty of splash pages and twists, this is a comic driven primarily by character. Drax, Rocket, and Groot are the stars of the issue, changing the tide of battle in a manner that fits their nature and recent changes perfectly. There’s a natural sense in seeing some of the strangest Guardians so prominently featured, as they most easily blend comedy and action. Duggan’s script easily moves between both, capturing the tonal dexterity that has made their film adaptations so charming. It’s easy to be worried for Rocket as he behaves foolishly, while simultaneously smiling at his bravado. This is the balancing act that made the same creative team’s work on Guardians of the Galaxy so enjoyable, and it has never been better than here.

While Duggan continues to deliver great work, Kuder kicks it up a notch and offers some of his best work in comics to date. That means a lot coming from an artist who has offered incredible turns on Superman and X-Men in the past couple of years. His ability to humanize even the most bizarre aliens (see again: Drax, Rocket, and Groot) allows comedy and banter to play as easily as it might in a romantic comedy filled with handsome Hollywood elites. Kuder can offer a subtle emotion as an individual hesitates or play up extremes in the mad jabberings of The Gardener. His emotive range is the key tool that allows Infinity Countdown to play blockbuster action and comedy side-by-side so well.

It’s in the splashes at the end of Infinity Countdown that Kuder really distinguishes himself though. Entire pages shift action in surprising directions and reveal new threats. Kuder integrates his detailed line work with lush painterly strokes that help focus readers on the most significant elements of characters and setting, while providing a very full page. Even as the pace of action increases, these pages entrance readers with singular moments and the majesty or horror of what is being shown. The work at the end of this issue sets an incredibly high bar for the rest of the series. It is here that the stakes and scope of an event are established, and they feel every bit as great as they ought to.

Infinity Countdown #1 emphasizes just how important craft is when constructing a great event series. No matter how big or important a story is made out to be, it’s still the telling of said story that matters most. This is how Kuder and Duggan make the issue click. They are doing exactly what they did in Guardians of the Galaxy, but now on a grander scale. Character, humor, and twists push the plot forward and each moment is delivered every bit as well as one could hope. Infinity Countdown #1 is not a revelation, except that it reminds us as readers how enjoyable these sorts of series can be when well told. Creators and readers alike ought to look at it as a standard and not an exception for the future.

Published by Marvel Comics

On March 7, 2018

Written by Gerry Duggan

Art by Aaron Kuder

Colors by Jordie Bellaire

Cover by Nick Bradshaw and Morry Hollowell

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Mini Reviews for 03/07/2018

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 07, 2018.


Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #3

Written by Mark Russell
Art by Mike Feehan and Mark Morales
Cover by Ben Caldwell

The third issue of Exit Stage Left gets off track as it abandons its ongoing plot to engage with a variety of historical touchstones. Even for a reader who can easily pick up on references to Arthur Miller or The Stonewall, these elements serve primarily as distractions. There are so many introduced in such quick order that no conversation has room to become real. In a series where that is grounded in ludicrous, yet intensely human characters, that gets far too far away from the central strength. It’s a game of Where’s Waldo with the early 1950s. There’s still plenty of wit and charm to be found, but this issue feels like a misstep.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Shade, The Changing Woman #1

Written by Cecil Castellucci
Art by Marley Zarcone
Cover by Becky Cloonan

The second volume of the Young Animal adventures of River a.k.a. Shade are embracing their strange side right from the start to wondrous effect. Her existence outside of reality is depicted in sprawling panels and splashes that emphasize the unreality created by the coat. It’s easy to become lost in the new forms crafted by Zarcone. The setup for a new ongoing plot is almost as exciting as it directly addresses the status of being an outsider and immigrant in America. Shade, The Changing Woman #1 takes all of the lessons from its predecessor and reveals a confident new start that’s better than ever.

Rating: 4 out of 5


The Amazing Spider-Man #797

Written by Dan Slott
Art by Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger
Cover by Alex Ross

“Go Down Swinging” comes out swinging in its first chapter. Norman Osborn marks his return by instilling fear into readers throughout the issue as he delivers a deliciously villainous monologue to an unknown listener. Immonen frames his new powers in silhouettes and suggestions, making him all the more frightening. In the meanwhile all of Peter Parker’s closest friends and loved ones are documented as Osborn’s threat looms ever closer. So many details and suggestions are woven into this web that it requires a second reading to appreciate the ample irony. Amazing Spider-Man #797 is a thrilling first chapter that sets the stage for Slott’s big finale wonderfully.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Rise of the Black Panther #3

Written by Evan Narcisse
Art by Paul Renaud
Cover by Brian Stelfreeze

After three issues it’s clear that Rise of the Black Panther should not be read as an introduction or adventure. While it reestablishes the origins of the comics character, laying a clear foundation for the current ongoing series, much of what occurs relies on knowledge of that series. An aside featuring Changamire and Ramonda makes no sense without outside knowledge of multiple comics storylines. The tie-in elements are not winks and nods, but the driving force of this plot. Even the action between Black Panther and Winter Soldier feels perfunctory against a background of non-stop chatter. As a source for other tales, this mini-series offers some useful components, but it is not an entertaining read on its own.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Ballad of Sang #1

Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Alessandro Micelli
Cover by Shari Chankhamma

Sometimes a great premise is all a comic really needs. There’s plenty of ideas flying in the debut of Ballad of Sang worth a read: classic revenge plot, an intriguing, young protagonist, ultra violence to spare. It’s a solid pitch, but one that stumbles a bit in execution. Much of the action is implied and this isn’t always effective, sometimes creating the impression of a forgotten panel. The dialogue of gangsters quickly falls into cliches. There’s ample charm to the depiction of Sang and the brutal fights of this story though, enough to overcome its shortcomings. Ballad of Sang #1 may be a mixed bag, but it’s filled with more good than bad.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Green Hornet #1

Written by Amy Chu
Art by German Erramouspe
Cover by Mike Choi

Comics can pack a lot of information into very little space, which makes it disappointing when an issue like Green Hornet #1 only provides exactly what can be found in its own solicit. The issue announces its premise on the cover, but then drags its feet to arriving at that point until a final splash page that cannot even function as a surprise. There’s little purpose for reading this except to garner a few names and details of subplots. Even a forced action sequence reads as being workmanlike. This is more prologue or advertisement than exciting, superhero storytelling, and it’s a disappointing start to a series capable of accomplishing much more.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Koshchei the Deathless #3

Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Ben Stenbeck
Cover by Mike Mignola

The tragedy of Koshchei is familiar. Bad decisions mount and there is no taking back their terrible consequences. Seemingly every choice presented is intended to make readers cringe. Stenbeck’s presentation of fantastical creatures and landscapes makes the neverending tidal wave of death all the more effective. The sadness surrounding the demise of a dragon or slaughter of a kingdom are transformed into epics in a few pages. Yet what really sets Koshchei the Deathless apart is the positioning of Hellboy as reader, groaning and kidding on behalf of the audience. Somehow the horror is made a bit more palatable through his eyes and the story all the more enjoyable for it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Rasputin: Voice of the Dragon #5

Written by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson
Art by Christopher Mitten
Cover by Mike Huddleston

The final issue of Rasputin: Voice of the Dragon falls prey to a common trap of prequels as it tells a story that is only validated by knowledge of what comes next. Rather than offering a satisfying conclusion on its own, the focus remains on the origins of Hellboy and “Seed of Destruction”. Even a seemingly notable death lands with little weight, revealing this to be a slight installment in the consistently excellent Mignola-verse. Ink splattered illustrations of a phantom pharaoh are outstanding and there’s still some lore worth gleaning in these pages. The overall effect is muted and marks this as a lesser work for all creators involved.

Rating: 3 out of 5

The Wicked + The Divine #34

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie
Cover by Jamie McKelvie

The final quarter of The Wicked + The Divine begins as the series returns to pick up the pieces and explore the many twists from the finale of “Imperial Phase”. It’s a story that has become as complex and laden with conspiracy as almost anything in mainstream comics and this issue is a testament to how well prepared Gillen and McKelvie are in handling this plot. New mysteries are introduced as others are provided context and solutions in a feat of exposition that could be compared to Lost. Even with so many conversations, McKelvie’s characters still remain sharp and affecting. The series appear to be all set for a satisfying conclusion.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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How Chris Samnee Boosted Marvel Comics

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 07, 2018.

Chris Samnee Marvel Comics - Cover

Chris Samnee recently announced that he was leaving Marvel Comics after years of work under an exclusive contract. The shakeup came as a shock to many fans. Samnee’s work at Marvel has been among their most critically revered in the modern era with many runs already adapted into omnibuses or Artist’s Editions. In many ways Samnee was the iconic artist for the publisher across the past decade. His style and approach to storytelling were an excellent fit to every Marvel superhero he approached, and it hooked plenty of new readers along the way.

Now Samnee is leaving for parts unknown. Whether he heads to a competing superhero publisher or decides to join the creator-owned movement, fans ought to be excited for whatever comes next. That excitement is built on years of work at Marvel Comics though and it’s worthwhile to reflect and celebrate his impressive body of work there before a new announcement steals headlines. Samnee has contributed a great deal to the Marvel mythos and their characters have helped him grow as a comics creator. A lot has changed along the way and it’s a good time to look back at how Chris Samnee boosted Marvel Comics.

Stellar Series

There are no minor Samnee works. Every series he touched at Marvel Comics delivered a definitive turn for the characters involved, no matter how short or long their stories may have gone. Just consider the 8 issues of Thor: The Mighty Avenger Samnee worked on with Roger Langridge. While the all-ages spin on Thor’s earliest adventures was cancelled far too soon, the collections have become immensely popular years after the series concluded. It has garnered a reputation as one of the best modern takes on the character, only dwarfed by the titanic runs of creators like Walt Simonson, Jack Kirby, or Jason Aaron.

Similarly short spins with characters like Black Widow and Captain America have received similar praise. Black Widow has never held an ongoing series for too long, but the 12 issues co-created by Samnee offer one of the best starting points for any interested comics reader. His crafting of chase scenes and spycraft showed just how adaptable superhero comics can be, and his new villains may soon be featured on the big screen. Individual issues of the current Captain America series have quickly rejuvenated the character after a dark period as well.

Yet not run is more impressive than his long stint on Daredevil with writer Mark Waid. Their collaboration rivals the daunting legacy of legendary creators like Frank Miller and Brian Michael Bendis. Its size is only exceeded by its quality, delivering one of the best takes on Marvel’s most consistently impressive series over the decades. Whether it was for a few issue or for a few years, Samnee’s presence on a comic book guaranteed a stellar run.

Chris Samnee: Storyteller

As Samnee’s star rose at Marvel Comics, the narrative of his career began to shift. Nowhere is this more evident than in his collaboration with Mark Waid on Daredevil. In interviews the pair spoke about one another in glowing terms and they soon altered their credits on the series to the shared title of “storytellers”. That might seem like a minor adjustment, but it reflects a change from the mainstream in how both publishers and readers view the people who make comic books.

For a long time the conversation has centered on the idea of writers and artists being two distinct categories with clear roles. That wasn’t the case in Waid and Samnee’s partnership and its rarely the case with other successful collaborations. In crafting scripts, refining stories, and realizing the best possible ideas on the page, this pair worked closely together. Waid helped to promote Samnee (and the role of a comics artist) as a storyteller in a genre where many readers commonly perceive artists primarily as illustrators. This evolution continued on Black Widow where Samnee took even more of a guiding role in plotting and shaping the story. It’s because of this change that many fans expect Samnee to announce a series in which he is the sole cartoonist.

Daredevil was not the first series to use the “storytellers” credit, but it is one of the most prominent and the team did make a point of using that term. That helped to change how readers view their comics as well. In the era of #ArtCred, Samnee’s prominence at Marvel Comics was key in helping everyone understand that there is no comic without an artist. While many readers may still follow writers between series, there’s no doubt that many will follow Samnee, the artist, wherever he goes next.

Style And Substance

It’s easy to see how Samnee is appealing as a storyteller in superhero comics. He can pull off a  silent chase sequence that lasts an entire issue and make blind martial arts appealing in fascinating new ways. His action and character design have always been top notch, delivering all the thrills you could want from Marvel Comics. Yet that is only part of the appeal when it comes to Samnee as a storyteller.

His work on Daredevil, and most other Marvel comics, was about far more than the newest villain to be defeated. These series grappled with serious topics through the aesthetics of the superhero genre. In Daredevil the bright and swashbuckling tone of many adventures was used to contrast the depression Matt Murdock was battling. When Daredevil fell into his darkest moment while battling the Purple Children, Samnee beautifully rendered the experience of depression in four, almost entirely black panels. His instincts for when to go small are every bit as defined as those on going big. Character work, like small romantic exchanges between Thor and Jane Foster or an inspiring commitment from Steve Rogers, is a key component of Samnee’s repertoire and it brings the big ideas in his comics to life.

That combination of style and substance is what makes Chris Samnee a consummate comics storyteller. In a multi-faceted medium where every page can be broken into dozens of different elements, Samnee is someone who grasps each and every one of them. It’s how he has consistently delivered so many great superhero stories over his many years at Marvel Comics. Not only does he deliver plenty of action and fun, but he fuses these actions and experiences with themes. Oftentimes readers may not even realize just how much they are gaining from a single Samnee comic until they turn the last page. That’s the magic of comics as realized by a master magician: Chris Samnee.

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Who Holds The Infinity Stones In Marvel Comics

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 06, 2018.

Infinity Stones - Cover

The next mighty Marvel Comics event kicks off this week in the pages of Infinity Countdown #1. It’s an epic adventure that starts with the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting a war on two fronts as the Infinity Stones reappear throughout the universe. Thanos is preparing his Infinity Gauntlet once again and plenty of other foes loom large behind him. It’s arriving just in time to pair with similar threats in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but offers a unique spin and a lot more characters.

If you’re looking to dive in to the new adventure from writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder, then you need to know what’s happening with the Infinity Stones. These incredible sources of power will be driving the action forward as heroes seek to protect them and villains seek to use them. They’ve been slowly appearing throughout the last year and are now all in place for what comes next. We are here to help you catch up for Infinity Countdown #1. Just click ahead to discover where each Infinity Stone is, who holds them, and which ones are in imminent danger.

Soul Stone

The Soul Stone faced a major shakeup in the pages of Infinity Countdown Primer #1. It had previously been held by Magus, the evil future self of Adam Warlock, until Ultron arrived. Ultron killed Magus and took the Soul Stone for himself. It is in a particularly precarious position due to Ultron’s current state, merged with his creator Hank Pym. There have been hints that the Soul Stone could help differentiate between the two beings and free Pym from his soulless construct. It is also being actively sought by two figures who possess a long history with the stone. Adam Warlock, its typical possessor, reawoke in Egypt and Gamora has been questing for it in order to find a piece of herself she believes is buried inside.

Mind Stone

The Mind Stone only reappeared in the pages of Infinity Countdown Primer #1 and its location has proven to be a bigger surprise than any of its five siblings. Turk, a minor gangster who operates in Hell’s Kitchen, possesses the Mind Stone and it remains a mystery how he discovered it. He is currently wielding the gem on top of a cane, using it to order free drinks and win games of chance. While there’s no indication that anyone is aware of its current whereabouts, the upcoming Infinity Countdown: Daredevil mini-series suggests that a certain superhero is likely to find it. Turk has been a long time supporting character in the Daredevil mythos and it’s rare that more than a few months go by without the pair encountering one another.

Power Stone

The Power Stone was discovered in the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy when a contingent of the team went to support members of the Nova Corps. They discovered that the Novas had remained on a planet in order to hide and protect the Power Stone, now an enormous boulder too large to move even with their extraordinary powers. Drax the Destroyer remained behind with the Novas to help protect the stone from outside forces. Its secret has been revealed now and two armies are marching to seize it. The Fraternity of Raptors, led by the villainous Talon, seeks to take it and empower their own conquest. A rogue faction of Chitauri led by Warbringer are seeking it as well in order to overthrow Thanos and take back control of their people.

Space Stone

The Space Stone was one of the first Infinity Stones to be revealed, appearing in the claws of Wolverine during Marvel Legacy #1. No one knows yet how Wolverine returned to life or came into possession of the Space Stone, but the two are undoubtedly interconnected. So far Wolverine has kept a low profile, using his new power to bounce around the Marvel universe and make guest appearances in the back of many popular titles. A conversation between Logan and Loki in Infinity Countdown Primer #1 suggests that the hero doesn’t trust himself with the stone, especially considering how many others may be seeking it. There’s a chance this stone could change hands very soon.

Time Stone

The Time Stone has been revealed to be the source of the planet Sakarr’s resurrection. This once annihilated globe was revealed to be rejuvenated in the story “Planet Hulk II”, but the return of so much flora and fauna was a mystery until now. Kl’rt, the Super-Skrull, dug into the planet’s core and seized the Time Stone for his own means in Infinity Countdown Primer #1. Seeing what the stone did for Sakarr, he now intends to use it to revitalize the Skrull Empire. After so many cosmic events, the Skrulls are a shell of their former selves, orphans without a homeworld or empire. The Super-Skrull has proven himself to be a powerful and cunning leader in the past and may use the stone to make the Skrull’s a big threat in Marvel Comics once again.

Reality Stone

The Reality Stone has been cleverly hidden in alternate realities until it was recently discovered by Captain Marvel. In addition to Carol Danvers from the main Marvel Comics universe, it has been suggested that the many variations of Captain Marvel across the multiverse also possess their own realities’ versions of the Reality Stone. Captain Marvel has kept her knowledge of the stone secret so far, but as the leader of Alpha Flight and a major figure in the universe, it’s difficult to imagine the Reality Stone staying hidden for long.

The Infinity Gauntlet

When the Infinity Stones are revealed, Thanos can never be far behind. The Mad Titan was recently returned to life in his own series and has been accumulating power. So far he has punished former allies, conquered the Chitauri, and begun to use their resources for his own means. Thanos is currently set in a far future where Thanos has conquered the entire cosmos, fulfilling his destiny. In the pages of Infinity Countdown Primer #1, he was shown to be back in the present and plotting the reconstruction of the Infinity Gauntlet. It feels like only a matter of time until he gets his gloved hand on one or all of the stones.

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The 8 Best Hellboy Villains Ever

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 06, 2018.

Best Hellboy Villains - Cover

This week we will see the release of two new Hellboy comics, both focused on some of the biggest bad guys in his universe: Grigori Rasputin and Koshchei the Deathless. As much as fans have come to love Hellboy and the heroes of the B.P.R.D., the villains of Hellboy comics have been just as important in making the comics and films successful. Afterall, what’s the point of a horror story or fable if there’s nothing going bump in the night? Only a handful of the many villains fought by Hellboy in the comics have been adapted to film so far. Rasputin and his underlings featured prominently in the first Hellboy and Nimue has been promised as the big bad of the upcoming 2019 reboot. What other evil doers still await Hellboy on the big screen though?

We’ve assembled a list of the 8 best Hellboy villains ever in the comics for fans interested in seeing what is left to explore. These are all Hellboy villains too, leaving out many of the villains primarily fought by the B.P.R.D. like the nefarious Black Flame. They are all individual villains too, which excludes the plague of frog monsters and other swarms of werewolves or vampires. These are the cruelest and most dedicated monsters to be stopped by Hellboy in his 25 years of stories so far, and they are a gruesome lot.

Grigori Rasputin

Created by Mike Mignola and John Byrne

First Appearance Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1

Rasputin has long since faded from his leading villain role in the comics after multiple defeats, but it’s impossible to forget the first great bad guy in the Hellboy story. It was Rasputin who summoned Hellboy to Earth and set much larger events into motion when he almost unlocked the Ogdru Jahad in “Seed of Destruction”. As a foil Rasputin reflects how inhuman a man can become and just how human Hellboy is, making him the perfect starting point for the saga.


Created by Mike Mignola

First Appearance Hellboy: Wake the Devil #2

Hecate is currently bound, but there are many suggestions in the comics that her story is not quite finished. She is the goddess of witches and bound to Hellboy as another important figure in apocalyptic prophecy. Within the comics she has proven to be just as vexing as a manipulator and combatant, taking the form of an iron maiden as well as a tremendous snake-creature. Hecate plays Hellboy’s opposite as a mythical figure who has embraced her terrible destiny, rather than engaging with humanity. Both appear monstrous, but reveal that appearance isn’t necessarily character.

Baba Yaga

Created by Mike Mignola

First Appearance Hellboy: Wake the Devil #5

Baba Yaga is much older than the version found in Hellboy comics. She is an updated character from Russian mythology who still lives inside a house with chicken legs, rides a pestle about the countryside, and enjoys the taste of children. In the comics she has proven to be one of the most powerful and ambiguous enemies faced by Hellboy. While she has often lost against his gigantic fist, she has also turned the tables and forced Hellboy to surrender an eyeball on one occasion. Baba Yaga doesn’t see herself as a force of good or evil, and her role in the stories has not quite come to an end. Whatever comes next for her, it’s bound to be interesting.

Herman Von Klempt

Created by Mike Mignola and John Byrne

First Appearance Comics Buyer’s Guide #1070

Most minor villains in Hellboy are killed in their first appearance, which makes the constant returns of Herman Von Klempt hilarious for readers and infuriating for Hellboy. Von Klempt was a Nazi scientist who primarily experimented upon primates to create super soldiers, including his beloved gorilla Kriegaffe. He has lost his corporeal body, but transferred his head to a jar where he continues to run experiments and control mechanical monstrosities. His wild design and many returns have transformed Herman Von Klempt into a fan favorite.


Created by Mike Mignola

First Appearance Hellboy: The Corpse and The Iron Shoes #1

Gruagach is rumored to appear in the new Hellboy film, which suggests some connection to Faerie. In the comics he is a vengeful member of that realm who despairs at its fall and misguidedly blames Hellboy. While not as powerful as many other foes on this list, his cunning and persistence make him a favorite villain. Even lacking the support of the fading world of Faerie, Gruagach does everything in his power to trick and battle Hellboy, providing himself with some sense of justice.

Vladimir Giurescu

Created by Mike Mignola

First Appearance Hellboy: Wake the Devil #1

Hellboy has fought his fair share of vampires over the years, but none stack up against Count Vladimir Giurescu. His deadly family of bloodsuckers helped to restore both Giurescu and his plans to summon far deadlier monsters to Earth. While he has not been a leading villain since “Wake the Devil”, his actions have created a waterfall of events leading to the release of Hecate and eventual rise of Nimue. He’s an example of how evil begets more evil, and just how terrible those consequences can be.

Nimue a.k.a. The Queen of Blood

Created by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, and Guy Davis

First Appearance Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #2

Nimue was the climactic villain of Hellboy’s story before his death and the beginning of Hellboy in Hell. She is a twisted version of the Lady of the Lake, given all of Merlin’s wisdom, but devoid of his morality. Nimue was a great evil in the past and unable to be killed forever due to her power. When resurrected she posed a threat to the entire world so great that even Hellboy barely managed to defeat her. She is one of the greatest threats from his saga and it will be very interesting to see how she is adapted to film.

The Ogdru Jahad

Created by Mike Mignola and John Byrne

First Appearance Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1

There is no villain more powerful or more deeply connected to Hellboy than the Ogdru Jahad. They are the Lovecraftian set of dragons imprisoned deep in space who will bring about the end of the world and whose prison can be unlocked by Hellboy’s right hand. While they were rarely seen in the pages of Hellboy, their presence posed a constant threat and even left readers questioning whether Hellboy was a threat. Without the Ogdru Jahad, it’s difficult to understand the cosmic importance of this seemingly blue collar sort of hero.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Poison Ivy

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 05, 2018.

Guide to Poison Ivy - Cover

Poison Ivy is back and in a big way. The start of a new story in Batman #41 revealed that Ivy had been able to expand her power beyond controlling nearby individuals to the entire world with her plant-based pheromones. With only Batman and Catwoman safe from her influence and the entire Justice League at her command, things are looking very bad.

It’s a substantial expansion of Poison Ivy’s role in DC Comics, transforming her from a local threat to a global one. Whatever comes next, this story seems bound to heighten Ivy’s stock. That also makes it seem like the perfect time for a refresher course on one of Batman’s greatest foes. So read ahead for a beginner’s guide on the origins, history, and best stories to feature Poison Ivy.

Her Creation

Poison Ivy first appeared in the 1966 story ”Beware of — Poison Ivy!” in the pages of Batman #181. Her first appearance lacked many of the key characteristics fans know today, but did pose her as a plant-based femme fatale. In her initial appearance Ivy was based on the appearance of Bettie Page and her narrative on “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, a Nathaniel Hawthorne story in which a woman becomes toxic to the touch. The most notable items of Poison Ivy’s first appearance were the duo who co-created her.

Writer Robert Kanigher was one of DC Comics’ stars of the Silver Age, having helped to start it with the creation of Barry Allen. He was also known for his work with Wonder Woman on a run that lasted more than 20 years and led to him introducing more women to DC Comics, like Poison Ivy. Artist Sheldon Moldoff is known as the primary Bob Kane ghost artist, drawing many of the stories that Kane would take credit for. His contributions to the world of Batman were enormous. In addition to Poison Ivy, Moldoff is credited with co-creating the likes of Bat-Girl, Batwoman, Mr. Freeze, Ace the Bathound, and a whole lot more.

Her History

Poison Ivy was originally name Dr. Lillian Rose. She was brought into the schemes of another professor who later poisoned Dr. Rose after believing she might reveal their theft. Dr. Rose survived the poisoning and found herself now immune to plant toxins and reimagined herself as a temptress who could take revenge on the man who betrayed her and others.

The villain remained a minor foe of Batman throughout the Silver Age until she was reimagined following Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 1986 Neil Gaiman conceived a new origin and set of powers for Poison Ivy in Secret Origins #36. Ivy was renamed Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley and her background was based in botany. She had been raised by distant parents and took solace in gardening. Before her transformation, Ivy was associates with both Alec Holland (who would later become Swamp Thing) and Jason Woodrue (who would become the Floronic Man). Gaiman recast the character as someone who felt more affinity and trust with plantlife than mankind.

This transformation would continue as Poison Ivy became an increasingly sympathetic character in stories like “No Man’s Land”. Her interest in conservationism became more central and her hatred of mankind was focused on adults and scientists who spoiled the planet. Ivy would take on an anti-hero role when teaming up with Harley Quinn and Catwoman. More than once Ivy has sought peace by leaving mankind behind only to have her paradises spoiled. Her powers also expanded, providing her with influence that bordered on mind control and an array of deadly plants that could move and act like monsters.

Recent changes made in the New 52, like the addition of a skin condition and an abusive father, have been ignored in the wake of Rebirth and appear to play no role in the newest Batman stories.

Her Best Stories

Any readers seeking out Poison Ivy comics to get a better grasp of the character would be well served by checking out the selections below:

  1. “Pavane” in Secret Origins #36: This is the story in which Neil Gaiman reasserted Poison Ivy’s place in DC Comics and initially tied her to the Suicide Squad. It works as both an origin story, as she tells her life story, and a source of sympathy, with her jailers revealing themselves to be untrustworthy and cruel. Gaiman’s reimagination of the character transformed her into an A-list member of Batman’s rogues gallery, complete with tragic origin and understandable motives.
  2. “A Walk in the Park” in Detective Comics #751-752: This two-part story followed the events of “No Man’s Land” in which Ivy transformed Gotham City’s parks into a refuge for orphans following the earthquake. She has been caring for her plants and innocent people alike, but now the police are seeking to take the children back and burn down her deadly jungle. It highlights her sympathetic connections to humanity and how this leads to persecution by outsiders.
  3. “Hot House” in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #42-43: This is the story of Batman’s second encounter with Poison Ivy. After being rehabilitated, Ivy is taken advantage of by a male scientist who transforms her discoveries into a designer drug, dooming them both in different ways. It focuses on how Ivy’s fate as a villain has often been determined for her and features some striking artwork by P. Craig Russell.

Her Best Adaptations

Poison Ivy has received a wide variety of adaptations to different media. She has been seen in almost every single animated series starring Batman, as well as DC Superhero Girls, Teen Titans Go!, and Young Justice. Her best features appeared in the critically beloved Batman: The Animated Series in episodes like “Pretty Poison” and “House and Garden”.

Ivy has fared less well in the arena of live-action adaptations. She most recently appeared in multiple seasons of Gotham, played by Clare Foley, Maggie Geha, and Peyton List to mixed reviews and some unfortunate sexualization. She was played by Uma Thurman in the derided Batman & Robin, but Thurman’s performance in the film has received acclaim for its fun camp qualities.

Ivy has also been portrayed in a wide variety of Batman-based video games, but none have received the same accolades as the Batman: Arkham series. In these games she is generally a loner who Batman attempts to avoid. Her focus on plantlife and her own happiness make her a character that more conversations than fights occur with.

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7 Reasons We’re Psyched For Ryan Ottley On Spider-Man

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 05, 2018.

Ryan Ottley on Spider-Man - Cover

Even before the announcement of the Fresh Start initiative from Marvel Comics, the question on every superhero comics fans mind has been: Who is taking over Amazing Spider-Man? Dan Slott’s presence on the title has been as much a constant as anything can be in the ever-changing world of caped crusaders. His departure left a major gap in Marvel’s consistently best-selling title and a difficult one to fill. Slott has regularly delivered new characters, big events, and great stories, leaving a giant legacy behind. That made it all the more surprising when an artist led the buzz behind the Amazing Spider-Man shakeup in July.

After more than a decade of work on the Image Comics series Invincible, Ryan Ottley is joining Marvel Comics to draw the adventures of Spider-Man. While Ottley has only done a handful of work outside of his collaborations with Robert Kirkman recently, the skill of his work on Invincible has garnered him a big reputation. Going to work on Marvel’s most popular superhero ensures that his reputation will only grow bigger and more fans will see what made so many of us fall in love with Invincible.

If you’re not already familiar with Ottley as an artist, then here are 7 big reasons why we are psyched to see him work on Amazing Spider-Man and why you should be too.

A Change From Invincible

As much as we’ve loved Ottley’s work on Invincible, he has been the series regular artist for more than a decade. That’s a lot of time to remain focused on one story and it’s very exciting to see what Ottley will do when removed from this familiar world. His first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man presents a fresh slate for new ideas and takes on comics storytelling. It will also mean a dramatic change in tone, if not style. In Invincible, it was a common occurrence to see characters ripped in half and pummeled until their eyes popped out. Spider-Man stories contain some gore, but nothing approaching the levels found in Invincible. He will also be working with new editors and writers on the series, providing opportunities for new ideas and forms of collaboration to occur. We don’t know exactly what his work on Amazing Spider-Man will be like, but it will certainly be unlike anything that has come before it.

Ottley Can Carry A Series

For as much as we enjoyed Invincible, every 144 issue run is bound to have some weak issues, even the Kirby and Lee Fantastic Four did. What longtime readers of both series know is that even the weakest issues were worth showing up for due to how they were presented on the page. When Invincible went down a less than satisfactory rabbit hole, Ottley’s art still delivered thrills, laughs, and plenty of excitement. If there are any concerns over the new Amazing Spider-Man team, it’s hard to doubt that Ottley will single-handedly make the series worth checking out. His delivery of action and spot on character reactions are simply too good to miss.

New Villain Designs

Perhaps the single most underrated element of Ottley’s work on Invincible is that he created almost all of it from scratch. While many of the villains, like Angstrom Levy or Dinosaurus, would reappear over years, Ottley also created batches of c-list bad guys who only appeared in a handful of panels. The real shocker is that almost all of these barely existing foes were fully conceived and could easily join a more consistent rogues gallery. That reveals a level of dedication and craftsmanship almost unheard of in superhero comics today. There is no better artist to tackle Spider-Man’s incredible set of villains and add new ones worth repeating in the many decades of Spidey stories to come.

Ottley Has The Energy For Spider-Man

Spider-Man is a study in contradictions. When swinging between New York City skyscrapers he has to be lithe and graceful. When pummelling The Rhino or lifting steel girders he has to be consumed with muscles. He is a multipurpose tool of a superhero and that can be difficult to capture within the skill set of one artist. Ottley has those skills with some to spare. His early drafts of Spider-Man reveal the necessary grace with muscles sleekly outlined beneath the spandex. The figure captures everything that Spider-Man can be as well as any artist’s rendition since Todd McFarlane. It’s clear Ottley isn’t just a great superhero artist, but a great Spider-Man artist.

Allowing Space For Character Beats

Spider-Man isn’t all about webslinging and punching bad guys though. His title contains one of the best supporting casts in superhero comics history. If you can’t make conversations at the Daily Bugle or a visit to Aunt May in the hospital click, then you’re not a good fit for The Amazing Spider-Man. That’s not a worry with Ottley though. Over the years Invincible has balanced its ultraviolence with lots of chats and household predicaments. Ottley delivers these just as well as a punch. His characters are expressive making the drama and comedy of everyday life work as well as supervillain beatdowns. It’s a necessary skill for tackling Spidey’s world.

Cliff Rathburn On Inks

Cliff Rathburn has become the premiere inker of Skybound Entertainment, working on Invincible, The Walking Dead, and Green Valley. He is now joining Ottley on their expedition to Marvel Comics. Rathburn is one of the most underrated inkers in the business today and he has brought depth and polish to Ottley’s work for years. Rathburn is also an accomplished penciler and artist in his own right, a necessary element in any great inker. Their continued partnership is a guarantee that Ottley’s work will remain every bit as good, if not better, than it was on Invincible.

One Of The Best In The Business

The bottom line of this announcement is that Ryan Ottley is the biggest talent obtained by Marvel Comics in the past year. No matter what series he was joining to work on would be cause for excitement. However, his placement on The Amazing Spider-Man could not be more perfect. He’s perfect for the small things (e.g. everyday conversations) and big things (e.g. big supervillain battles). He can blend the grace and strength of Spider-Man’s form just as well as the comedy and tragedy of his best stories. Ryan Ottley is a dream come true for Spider-Man fans nervous about the change on the title. We can’t wait to see what he does with it.

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