Posts Tagged ‘Brian K. Vaughan’

My Top 10 Favourite Comic Books of 2015

December 29, 2015

Now that the year is almost over, it’s a good time to look back at the comic books I most enjoyed this year. Usually I like to do an all new Top 10, focusing on my new favourites, but so many books stayed ridiculously good this year that my pull list hasn’t changed a lot. So we’ll go for a split, with half returning favourites and half new books that I’m all about. We’ll start with the former!

MY FIVE FAVOURITE COMIC BOOKS

It’s been a fantastic year for comics, and several of my best books from 2014 remain at the top of my list here at the end of 2015. My top books, in order, are:

 bestCRIMINALS

5) Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky: The book is hilarious and great and surprisingly heartwarming, but what I love more than anything is the letter column. It’s the funniest thing I read each month, comics or otherwise.

 bestTHOR

4) The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman: The series was a blast all year as Thor, and now that it’s been relaunched as The Mighty Thor the fun continues. I liked the initial mystery aspect of the book, but the reveal of Thor’s identity has led to some interesting angles and new storylines that are even more compelling.

 bestODYC

3) ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward: It’s a gender swapped take on The Odyssey in space. This concept could not be more up my alley, and the execution has been fascinating and gorgeous. And also informative! The essays in the backmatter are great, and are a fantastic compliment to the trippy main story.

 bestBITCH

2) Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro: Feminism in space again. What can I say, I have a type. The Mighty Thor sort of fits that theme too, now that I think about it! Last year, I compared the first issue of Bitch Planet to a punch in the stomach but in the best way, and the series has continued as such throughout the year. While it’s often brutal, there’s a fury to the book that I love and that is much needed.

 bestMSMARVEL

1) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and others: This was my top pick last year, and it’s my top pick this year too. It’s just so good! I LOVE Kamala Khan, I love the world they’ve built around her in Jersey City, and I love that the book is classic superhero fun in a very fresh and new way. And now, Kamala’s made it through Secret Wars and is back in a relaunched title that continues her story in enjoyable new ways. Plus she’s an Avenger! 2015 was the year of Kamala, for sure.

MY FIVE FAVOURITE NEW COMIC BOOKS

The year also saw a bunch of new great books, from multiversal destructions to gals across various eras to a modern day crime lord. These were my favourite new books/revamps of 2015:

 bestSECRETWARS

5) Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic: This book is bananas, and I love it. I’ve been following Hickman since he relaunched Avengers and New Avengers a few years back, and while the buildup was impressive, the payoff is epic. This is the first event series in ages that I’ve really enjoyed, plus it’s also led to some great tie-ins, including A-Force, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, and Runaways.

 bestCATWOMAN

4) Catwoman by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, and David Messina: This storyline began in 2014, but it ran for most of this year and it was ridiculously good. Selina Kyle took over a crime family and tried to keep Gotham from falling into a gang war, with often tragic results. It was dark and tense and an absolutely fascinating new take on the character, and I was so disappointed when DC brought in a new creative team at the end of the year.

 bestPAPERGIRLS

3) Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang: It’s just so gorgeous. Regular readers will know that Cliff Chiang is my favourite artist, hands down, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Plus that Vaughan fellow is pretty good too, and he’s crafted a weird, mysterious story; we’re a few issues in, and I’m still not 100% sure what’s happening. I just know that it’s rad.

 bestLEGEND

2) The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon: The print edition of the book doesn’t start until January, but the digital version has been coming out for weeks and it’s GREAT. It’s a classic take on Wonder Woman and the Amazons but with several new, fun twists, and the first few issues have spent a lot of time establishing Themyscira and introducing us to a young Diana. Simultaneously cute and ominous, this is the best Wonder Woman book in years.

 bestBOMBSHELLS

1) DC Comics Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage, and more: When DC did their World War Two era “Bombshell” variant covers a while back, I thought it was kind of silly and unnecessary. But they were a hit, and now this series fleshes out the story behind the new designs, reimagining the war with scores of DC’s female heroes in the mix, and nary a male hero in sight. It’s so much fun and delightfully bad ass to see DC’s ladies working together to bust up Nazis, and I love how Bennett and her team of artists have added so much depth to what began as a line of pin-ups.

And those are my favourite books of the year! It’s all so much awesome. The comic book industry is an embarrassment of riches right now.

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My Three Favourite Comic Book Panels From 2013, Up Now At Bleeding Cool

December 31, 2013

Bleeding Cool has compiled a list of the best comic book panels of 2013, based on the votes of their columnists and other writers.  And I’m a columnist!  So I’ve got three panels in the list.  It was fun to think back over the year and pick some of my favourite comic moments.  I considered a lot of different panels from a lot of different books, but finally I went with these three:

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BCsaga14

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If you don’t recognize them, head over to Bleeding Cool for the full information and why I chose them as the best of the year.  There are lots of other great panels as well, including some of my almost favourites.

It’s fun to close out the year remembering some of my favourite moments.  It was a great year for comics, with lots of cool, new books and returning gems.  Happy New Year to all of you, and best wishes for a fantastic 2014!

My 10 Favourite Comic Book Things Of 2013

December 10, 2013

These aren’t my favourite comic book series or graphic novels or creators or comic moments of 2013, these are ALL of those categories combined into one list.  There’d be a ton of overlap if I divided them up by category, so listing all of my favourites from the year under the vague heading of “things” is how we’ll roll.

It was a great year for comics, with lots of exciting new titles.  Now, I still love everything from last year’s list; Saga and Hawkeye remain two of the best books out there today, but in the interest of mixing it up I’m trying not to duplicate my past favourites.  So here are my 10 favourite comic book things of 2013:

10) Clark Kent (@CK1Blogs)

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I’m not much for joke Twitter accounts, but this one is amazing.  In current New 52 continuity, Clark Kent has quit the Daily Planet to start his own website, so some genius has set up this account where he mostly talks about Panera Bread and plaintively tries to connect with Lois Lane.  It is completely hilarious, and far and away the best take on Superman from this past year.

9) FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics by Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez

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I was worried about Vertigo after Karen Berger left, but they’ve had a strong year and FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics is my favourite of their new titles.  In a world where physics has gone haywire, a governmental department of rather morally compromised individuals does their past to sort out dangerous fluctuations in gravity.  It’s very different, and very cool, and the entire team (Simon Oliver writing, Robbi Rodriguez drawing, Nathan Fox on covers) is killing it each month.

8) Faith Erin Hicks

2013faith

Faith Erin Hicks has been doing fantastic work for a while now, but this was a huge year for her with some high profile projects.  Her art on the Last of Us comic looked amazing, but what really floored me was her art in the very enjoyable Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.  She just keeps getting better and better, which is rather impressive considering how good she was to begin with!

7) Afterlife With Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla

2013archie

This book shouldn’t work.  It’s a straight up horror comic, too dark and too heavy for the happy go lucky gang from Riverdale.  Some of your favourite characters are killed and become gross, creepy zombies in the very first issue.  It is MESSED UP.  And I LOVE it.  Somehow, it still feels like an Archie comic to me, even though it’s so far outside the realm of what Archie usually does.  They’ve done it just right, and it’s so much fun.

6) The Lying Cat/Sophie Page from Saga #14

2013saga

Oh man.  So good.  It’s just a quiet little moment in the midst of all of the usual Saga craziness, and if it didn’t demolish you than you are a robot without a soul.  The art is perfect, the writing is heartbreakingly beautiful, and the entire idea of the scene and how much it says about these characters in just a few panels is astounding.  Top notch comic booking right there.

5) Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

2013sexcriminals

Do I feel weird buying a book called Sex Criminals?  A little bit, yes.  Does tweeting about it put me on some kind of a watchlist?  Probably.  Is it hilarious and romantic and somehow dirty in a nice, endearing way?  It sure is.  This is a great book, with a ton of jokes and a lot of heart.  It’s very much about sex, but never in an exploitive or gross way, and is more about love and relationships.  Don’t be off put by the title; it’s super good.

4) Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios

2013prettydeadly

Sometimes when you’ve been anticipating a book for a long time, it’s hard for the book to live up to the hype.  But Pretty Deadly launched this year and it is SO GOOD.  Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios are doing the best work I’ve ever seen from either of them.  The book is dark and charming, sort of a weird, Western fairy tale with a sensibility all of its own.  And it’s selling like hotcakes, which is just awesome.

3) Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez

2013marbles

I’ll admit that I’m not super into the Hernandez Bros.’ stuff; much as I respect it all, it’s just not my scene.  This, however, was absolutely wonderful.  It’s a semi-autobiographical story about a kid in the 1960s, and features an eclectic and often hilarious cast of characters.  It perfectly captures the many little joys and heartbreaks of childhood, and the only word I can think of that sums it up is delightful.  Reading this book will make you happy.

2) Brian Michael Bendis’ X-Books

2013xmen

This year, I finally got into Bendis.  His Avengers stuff never did much for me, and I don’t at all care for Peter Parker, and for the past decade or so I just haven’t dug his stuff.  But this year, I caught up on the Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man, which I really liked, and checked out Bendis’ All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, which I absolutely loved.  Bringing back the original X-team could have easily been terrible, but it’s working like gangbusters for me.  It took Bendis a long time to move to the X-books, but I think he’s a fantastic fit there.  The books are funny, action-packed, and exciting, and he brings the most out of each character.  This was a surprise favourite for me.

1) Wonder Woman in Smallville Season 11

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If you read this site at all, you’ve probably seen me going on about this book.  Frankly, I thought it was going to be terrible, but it turned into my favourite take on Wonder Woman in years.  Bryan Q. Miller’s writing was sharp and he brought a whole new angle to the Wonder Woman mythos, and Jorge Jimenez’s art suited the story, and Diana, beautifully.  This book might have been my favourite of the year for young Diana and her pet boy Steve alone, but the rest of story was just as much fun.  The book was such a blast to read.

So there are my favourite comic book things from 2013!  I’ve undoubtedly forgotten some that I’ll remember five seconds after I post this, but so it goes.  Stay tuned for my favourite non-comic book things from 2013 list later in the week!

You Can (And Should!) Get Brian K. Vaughan And Marcos Martin’s New Comic RIGHT NOW

March 19, 2013

privateye

Yesterday we got some teaser images for a new comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, and I was thinking “AWESOME!!  This’ll probably be out from Image this July or so.”  I was wrong.  It’s out TODAY, digitally, through a new service called Panel Syndicate.  You can download a 32 page copy of The Private Eye #1 in various digital forms for whatever you want to pay for it, and own it forever because it’s DRM-free.  It’s a fantastic deal, and you shoudl most definitely pick it up.

First, it’s Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.  These guys are EPIC.  Vaughan did Runaways, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and is currently putting out one of the best comics on the stands right now with Saga.  Martin’s done gorgeous books like Batgirl: Year One, Doctor Strange: The Oath, and Daredevil.  The fantasticness of these two creators teaming up to do their own thing should be more than enough to sell you on the book.

If it’s not, let me assure you that the comic is really, REALLY good.  Here’s a description of The Private Eye:

It’s a detective story set in 2076, when everyone in the United States has a secret identity. Our protagonist is a member of the paparazzi, outlaw private investigators who dig up the kind of personal dirt no longer readily available through search engines. It’s a mystery with lots of masks, but no superpowers. We know how the story ends, and we think it will take about 10 issues to get there.

Detectives in the future!!  How fun is that?  Seriously, get this book.  You’ll love it.

You can get The Private Eye #1 at Panel Syndicate RIGHT NOW for whatever you want to pay for it.  It’s a game changer, folks.  I don’t think anyone’s used this model for comics before, and it could really shake things up if it goes well.  The money goes straight to the creators, with no printing costs or cuts for publishers.  It could be a whole new ballgame!!

My 10 Favourite Comic Book Things Of 2012

December 27, 2012

“Things” is rather vague, I know, but this isn’t a list of my favourite books or creators or moments of the year.  It’s all of those things at once!!  I could do a Top Five of various categories, but the overlap would be huge, so I’m just going to pile it all together into one big Top Ten list.

It was an odd year for comics, with a lot of big events you’re not going to see on this list, but there were a bunch of cool things too.  Let’s get to listing:

10) Gail Simone’s Rehiring on Batgirl

2012simone

I’m not naïve enough to think that Gail Simone’s rehiring on Batgirl signals some kind of big change at DC Comics where they suddenly care about fan reactions and female creators, but it was still a great moment.  Firing Simone was just absolutely ludicrous, and the reaction was strong, to say the least.  I can’t think of another creator who has as much of an association with a company owned character as Simone does with Barbara Gordon.  Simone doesn’t own Barbara, but Barbara IS Simone’s character, really.  And even more so now.  Her return to the book after her inauspicious firing was one of my very favourite moments of the year.

9) Marco Checchetto

2012checchetto

I honestly couldn’t care less about the Punisher, but I checked out the first collection of new series because Greg Rucka is pretty great.  I might have come for Rucka, but I stayed for Marco Checchetto.  While his art is gritty, as befits a Punisher book, it doesn’t have that muddled sort of effect that a lot of gritty, noir style artists have.  Checchetto is a cool hybrid of grit and crisp detail, and I absolutely love it.  I think this dude is going to be big.

8) Noelle Stevenson

2012elk

Noelle Stevenson, aka. Gingerhaze, is a ridiculously good time.  Her webcomic, Nimona, is fantastic, and her “Broship of the Ring” is an internet classic.  My absolute favourite thing she does, though, is her mini-strips after she watches a movie or TV show she’s particularly enthused about.  Right now, I’m loving her Hobbit-inspired Thranduil as an elk-riding dad embarrassing Legolas strips.  Noelle is hilarious and great.

7) Goliath by Tom Gauld

2012goliath

Sometimes you randomly check out a book from the library and it turns into one of your favourite things of the year.  I ADORED Tom Gauld’s Goliath.  I’m always up for a good riff on a Bible story, and Goliath is both super clever and well drawn.  Gauld’s art style fits the tone of the book perfectly.  I usually talk about the Big Two on this site, but do yourself a favour and go grab a copy of this book.

6) Scott Pilgrim IN COLOUR!!

2012scottpilgrim

The first two volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series came out in bigger, coloured editions this year, and they’re just amazing.  The Scott Pilgrim books were already one of the absolute best books of the past decade, and they’re even better oversized and in colour.  Nathan Fairbairn, in close consultation with O’Malley, really takes the books to a whole new level of awesome with his colouring, and they’re an absolute pleasure to read even if, like me, you’ve already read the first editions like fifty times.

5) Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers

2012avengers

This book just launched a few weeks ago, and when I read the first issue I thought “Wow, I REALLY dig this… this might even sneak in at tenth in my Top Ten list!”  The second issue is out now, and here it is at fifth.  Avengers is great storytelling, but even more than that it feels SO epic.  You can tell that Hickman is building something massive and cool and I’m ridiculously excited to get in on the ground floor of what will be years of crazy stories.  Jerome Opena’s art is great, and Marvel’s got lots of other cool artists lined up to meet the book’s bi-monthly schedule.  It’s loads of fun already, and it feels like it’s just going to keep getting better.

4) Diana’s Coat in Wonder Woman #11

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I liked this so much that I now own this page!!  While I’ve had my share of problems with Wonder Woman in 2012 (the Amazons as rapists and murderers, in particular), Cliff Chiang is still killing it on every level with his art.  I spent a full third of my Wonder Woman #11 review going on about this coat and how it represents everything good about this new take on Wonder Woman in terms of modernizing the character with respect for what came before.  This may not have always held true for me with the story, but it absolutely does with the art.

3) Captain Marvel, the Book and the Reaction

2012captain marvel

I’ve been following comics for a long time, and I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic reaction to a redesign of a character.  There was tons of fan art and various custom items months before the first issue even hit the newsstands!!  And when the first issue did hit, it was fantastic.  Kelly Sue DeConnick had a HUGE year, and has done an excellent job relaunching Captain Marvel, while artists Dexter Soy and Emma Rios make the book look great and distinct from the usual superhero stylings.  While a year ago I knew barely anything about Carol Danvers, I’m very glad that she’s now one of my favourite characters starring in one of my favourite books.

2) Saga

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I was over the moon excited for a new Brian K. Vaughan book, and then even more excited that Fiona Staples would be drawing it.  As a huge fan of BKV, I had a rough idea in my head of what the book might be like, and then I got the first issue.  Saga was NOTHING like what I expected, in the absolute best way possible.  It was bigger and more bizarre and more interesting and enjoyable than I ever imagined.  I think it’s the best thing BKV’s ever written, and Staples’ art is a perfect match for the story.  Even the letter column is fun.  Saga is an absolute blast to read each month.

1) Hawkeye

2012hawkeye

When Marvel announced that Matt Fraction and David Aja were teaming up to do a Hawkeye book, I was kind of upset.  They’re two of my favourite creators so I HAD to pick up the first issue, but I didn’t give a hoot about Hawkeye.  At all.  There were SO many characters I’d rather have seen them work on.  So I begrudgingly bought the first issue, and it was AMAZING.  Far and away the most enjoyable, amusing, kick ass superhero story I’d read all year.  Then Hawkeye #2 was even better, as was the next issue after that.  It just keeps getting more fun every month, and I’m astounded to love a book about Hawkeye as much as I do.  It’s unequivocally the best comic out there right now, and I can’t recommend it enough.

So those are my favourite things from this year, but let’s take a peek into the crystal ball and see what I’m looking forward to in 2013:

  • Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark.  A dystopian response to the Occupy movement?  Sign me up.
  • Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios.  Anytime DeConnick and Rios get together, it’s a good time.  I’m very excited they’re doing a Western.
  • Man of Steel by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.  Snyder is doing a great job with Batman, and Jim Lee is always a good time.  I’m jazzed to see what they come up with for Superman.
  • New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting. As I mentioned above, I LOVED Avengers, and New Avengers is poised to be a sort of companion book more than a direct tie-in.  I’m going to be all over it.
  • Movies!!  Iron Man 3!!  Thor 2!!  Man of Steel!!  It’s going to be another big year for cinematic superheroes, and all of these movies look great.
  • Amazon, Allan Heinberg’s Smallville-esque Wonder Woman show for the CW.  It’s still in the early stages, but it would be really fun if this ended up happening, and doubly so if it was good too.  Arrow’s been pretty enjoyable, and Heinberg has skills.  It could be really great, if it happens.

Karen Berger Leaves Vertigo OR Karen Berger Is Why Comics Are Good

December 4, 2012

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Karen Berger, the executive editor, senior vice president, and basically the creator of DC Comics’ Vertigo line is stepping down from her post.  Yesterday, a press release announced that Berger will leave in March 2013 and be replaced by a “new leadership team” likely comprised of current Vertigo editors.  This is a sad day for comics, because Karen Berger is why comics are good today.

Do you remember the 1970s?  I don’t, seeing as I wasn’t alive, but by all accounts it was a mess.  There were some good stories here and there, but the superhero industry faced a massive financial crisis and adjusted to the direct market, and basically just churned out product.  It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, and for a while the 1980s weren’t much better.  No one was breaking new ground or pushing the boundaries like DC did in the 1940s or Marvel did in the 1960s.  Things were sort of stagnant.

But then things got better.  People had bigger ideas, told new and crazy stories that elevated the medium, and this led to old creators upping their game and legions of new, inspired creators eager to take things even further.  This was largely due to Karen Berger.

These are just a few of the books she was involved with:

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There are SO many more.  These ones are just my favourites.  These pictures could go on for pages and pages.

The top row was the beginning of this new era.  Berger worked with Alan Moore on Swamp Thing and V For Vendetta, and with Neil Gaiman on Sandman.  Some of the stories were superhero-esque, but had their own distinct flavour.  They were more nuanced, dark, and adult, and brought in a new audience.  The books were so good and so successful that DC launched a new imprint, Vertigo, just to tell these kind of stories.  Other notable creators were part of this initial wave, like Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Peter Milligan, and many others.

When the rest of the Big Two’s output was overly muscled superheroes with gargantuan weaponry and poorly drawn feet, Berger’s Vertigo offered something completely different.  And its impressive output never slowed down.  As the initial creators moved on, along came Mike Carey and Brian Azzarello and Bill Willingham with their own fascinating series like Lucifer, 100 Bullets, and Fables.  There was also a new generation of creators who grew up on Vertigo, which led to series by younger creators like Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man), Jason Aaron (Scalped), Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth), and Scott Snyder (American Vampire).  Vaughan is like unto a comic god now, Aaron is one of the big writers at Marvel, and Lemire and Snyder are currently two of the biggest players at DC.

Because of Vertigo, the comics industry as a whole is better.  Vertigo has been the model for how good comics are made, and most publishers are reaching for the standard Berger set.  Image, which began as a rebellious group of artists in the overly muscled, gargantuanly gunned vein, is now best known for their darker, mature, and experimental comics.  They’ve basically become Vertigo 2.0.  And the influence of Vertigo on DC and Marvel’s superhero books is obvious, as the past decade or so has seen a turn to more nuanced, character driven storytelling.

Karen Berger not only edited and then shepherded some of the greatest comic book series of all time, her work also inspired countless creators and changed the entire industry as a whole.  Her impact was far more than just the books she worked on.  The quality of Berger’s books made everyone else have to be better, and now we’re enjoying a much more varied and creative comic book market than we’ve ever seen before.

But now Berger is leaving Vertigo, and who knows what will happen with that.  DC has been siphoning off some of their best characters, the brass at DC Entertainment are keen on contracts for Vertigo that most would hardly call “creator owned” so many creators have left for greener pastures, and the general vibe at DC since the relaunch has been “consolidate, consolidate, consolidate.”  Vertigo may not last long in its current form, and the departure of Berger could hasten its new role.

One thing’s for sure, though: Karen Berger is going to be fine.  Whatever she does next, and I hope it’s more comics, it’s going to be fantastic.  She’s been attracting top talent and making amazing, award winning comic books since before I was born, so whatever she does is bound to be a massive success, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for her.  It sounds like DC has been a stifling place for the past few years, and an unfettered Karen Berger could be a very good time.

Come back tomorrow, when we’ll look at Karen Berger and her legacy with Wonder Woman!!

THERE’S A NEW BRIAN K. VAUGHAN COMIC COMING IN 2012!!!!

July 23, 2011

OH MAN I love BKV, and it feel like ages since Ex Machina ended, but now he’s got a new comic coming out in 2012!!  It’s called Saga and it’s from Image, and Bleeding Cool says it’s about “a family thrown together and trying to survive galactic war”.  PLUS Fiona Staples, who is awesome, is drawing it!!  Here is the preview image:

This is far and away the best news to come out of ComicCon thus far!!  BKV writes the most fantastic comics, and there are few things more up my alley than galactic war.  And it’s ongoing!!  I’ll get to buy it EVERY month!!  I love buying awesome things every month!!  I’m so excited… this is almost as awesome as Azzarello and Chiang on Wonder Woman.  HOORAY NEW BKV!!!!

UPDATE: Comic Book Resources has an exclusive interview with BKV!!


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