Posts Tagged ‘Francesco Francavilla’

Two New Sensation Comics Covers By Francesco Francavilla And Michael Zulli

February 10, 2015

We tend to get Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman covers at odd times. For some reason, several times now the book was solicited with interior art instead of the cover. The digital books are their own little world, it seems. It’s like the Wild West over there. But now, thanks to Comics Alliance, we’ve got two Sensation Comics covers at once.

First up is Francesco Francavilla’s cover for Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #9, coming in April, which was originally solicited with some Mike Maihack interior art. Here’s Francavilla’s cover:

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I love Francavilla, and his covers are usually amazing, but this is just okay for me. I’m not a big fan of a skinny tiara, or of having forehead between the top of the tiara and her hair. Aesthetically, that look is just not my jam. Plus it’s weirdly busy with that odd background and the stars in her hair and such. It’s all just a bit over the map for me.

We’ve also got the cover for Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #10, coming in May, which hasn’t been solicited yet. It’s going to have a story by Sara Ryan and Christian Duce and another written and illustrated by Aaron Lopresti. Here’s the cover, by Michael Zulli:

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I don’t love this one either. This is kind of a downer of a post, really, but this cover doesn’t do much for me at all. Wonder Woman looks sad and haggard, and her bloody sword looks more like a large knife. Also, that’s a weird outfit. I really don’t like anything about this. I’m predicting a situation where someone buys the April issue for the cute, hilarious James Tynion IV and Noelle Stevenson story and thinks, “This was fun, I’ll totally get the next issue,” and then they show up at a comic shop next month for the May issue and it’s THIS and they just full on recoil away from the shelf.

Sensation Comics’ slogan should be “The covers are hit or miss, but the stories are quite good!” I love the diversity of enjoyable stories we’re getting out of this book, but the inability of the covers to at all match what’s inside the book, and the straight up unattractiveness of several of the covers, seems like a poor publication strategy to me. It’s just going to confuse people.

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Wonder Woman’s April 2015 Covers And Solicits

January 22, 2015

April is going to be a little different for Wonder Woman comics, with the “Convergence” event pre-empting her usual New 52 titles. While she’s got two books every month in the New 52, there will only be one Wonder Woman “Convergence” book. However, we’ve got two digital-first books to look forward to, so that’s a plus. Let’s dig into the solicits, starting with Convergence: Wonder Woman #1:

aprilww1

CONVERGENCE: WONDER WOMAN #1
Written by LARRY HAMA
Art and cover by JOSHUA MIDDLETON
Variant cover designed by CHIP KIDD
On sale APRIL 22 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 2, $3.99 US • RATED T
STARRING HEROES FROM CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Diana Prince is in the grip of a Domesday cult when Steve Trevor leaps into the fray! But can he save Etta Candy from vampires of Red Rain?

This solicit is a lot about Steve Trevor and not so much about Wonder Woman, which I don’t love. But on the plus side, I do enjoy Joshua Middleton, and I’m very excited to see him do two issues of Wonder Woman interiors.

“Convergence” brings together a multitude of DC Comics’ universes, and this one look to be pre-Crisis. Giving Larry Hama’s writing it, I’m guessing the characters will be from the 1970s, Bronze Age era of Wonder Woman, but given the universe mashing each character may well be from a different time period. We’ll have to wait for April to find out.

Next up, we’ve got the print version of the Wonder Woman ’77 digital first series:

aprilww771

WONDER WOMAN ’77 SPECIAL #1
Written by MARC ANDREYKO
Art by DREW JOHNSON and MATT HALEY
Cover by NICOLA SCOTT
1: 25 Variant cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
One-shot • On sale APRIL 29 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Don’t miss this digital-first special based on the classic TV series starring Lynda Carter! Travel back to the sizzling ’70s as the undercover Amazon Princess joins forces with special agent Steve Trevor to defend America against Cold War-era criminals. A search for an escaped Soviet scientist brings Wonder Woman to the hottest disco of the day, Studio 52. A live stage act might prove more of a threat to Wonder Woman than the Russian Roller Derby girls out to bring the scientist home.

I’ve been enjoying the digital issues, and I think this print collection of the comics will work even better. The story seems better suited to be read all at once than in installments. It’ll look really nice too; Drew Johnson and Matt Haley have been doing a really good job with the art.

It seems that they’re going with a publication method sort of like Legends of the Dark Knight, where a bunch of stories are collected in a bigger volume instead of regular issue size. The solicit only mentions the current arc, which is just three issues long and thus should only take up 30 pages or so, and so I assume a second arc is on the way.

Finally, we’ve got another issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman to look forward to as well:

aprilsensation

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #9
Written by CECIL CASTELLUCCI and LAUREN BEUKES
Art by CHRIS SPROUSE, KARL STORY and MIKE MAIHACK
Cover by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA
On sale APRIL 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • DIGITAL FIRST • RATED T
It’s a “Girls’ Day Out,” and Lois Lane doesn’t do “puff piece” interviews, which is fine, because Diana of Themyscira is not interested in being treated as fluff. But when they’re attacked by croco-aliens and robots, the situation really gets heated! Then, in “The Problem with Cats,” Wonder Woman has been summoned to the Isle of Cats to rescue her Justice League teammates, but can Diana save the day?

The art above looks to be a page from the Mike Maihack story and not the cover, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the reveal of Francesco Francavilla’s cover in the future. It’s sure to be lovely; the man is epic at covers.

Both of these stories sound fantastic! I am all about a Wonder Woman and Lois Lane team up, especially one involving aliens and robots, so that should be a fun a fun. And Mike Maihack is drawing a story! He’s great, as is Lauren Beukes, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve put together. I think it should be an excellent issue all around.

The solicits also include the upcoming Jae Lee designed action figure line, which has a very cool looking Wonder Woman.  They’ll be available in August 2015.

Look for all of these comic books this April in comic shops everywhere!

Have Some Spooky Halloween Fun With Afterlife With Archie And The Comics Code Authority!

October 31, 2014

afterlife1

It’s Halloween today, and what better time to do some spooky reading about the history of comic books? Just in time for the creepiest day of the year, I’ve got a review of the first volume of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife with Archie up over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. I look at the zombie-filled series as the death knell of the Comics Code Authority, the content guide first introduced in 1954 to counter accusations that comic books were leading to juvenile delinquency.

When the code was being developed, Archie Comics’ publisher John L. Goldwater was heavily involved and patterned parts of the code on Archie’s own in house guidelines. For decades, Archie Comics clung to the code, publishing harmless and unobjectionable family friendly comics, but recently Archie left the Comics Code behind. Now, free of its limitations, Archie is going to town with a variety of titles in an assortment of new and more mature genres.

Afterlife with Archie is a gleeful celebration of everything the Comics Code stood against. The code banned horror and bloodshed, and Afterlife with Archie revels in it. The code promoted respecting one’s parents, and Afterlife with Archie has a character kill his zombified father. The code expressly forbade depictions of the undead, and Afterlife with Archie blew past that one the moment that the series was first conceived. Plus, it’s a fantastic comic book!

Head on over to the Los Angeles Review of Books for my full essay. It’s a spooktacular way to spend your Halloween!

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)

2013ck1

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

2013fbp

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!

My 11 Favourite Comic Book Things of 2011

December 30, 2011

I know that “favourite comic book things” is pretty vague, but more specific lists are irksome to make.  You set out to do the top five writers and you get three right away, have to think for ages to get the next two, and always feel like you’re forgetting someone.  Then, you go to do your top five books, and they’re all written by your top five writers, so you’re writing about the same things twice.  And then thrice, when you do your top five artists list too.  So I think vague is the way to go.

Here are my top 11 very favourite comic book things of 2011, in order.  I’ve undoubtedly forgotten some and will kick myself later on, but I for sure love the following 11 things AND I’m not writing about anything twice:

11. Terry Moore’s Art On Rachel Rising

Not that the writing isn’t good too… it’s a super well written book and is enjoyably bizarre and disturbing.  But the art is fantastic!!  These days, when comics have killer digital colours and everything is all bright and shiny and fancy, Moore’s gorgeous artwork really stands out.  It’s literally black and white… “black and white” usually means various shades of gray, but Rachel Rising is just Moore’s impressive pencils and inks.

10. The New Animal Man

I’ve never liked Animal Man, at all.  I found the Morrison stuff gimmicky, and I never really got into any other depictions of him that followed.  He was mildly interesting in 52, I suppose, but then he got outshone by bad ass Adam Strange.  So I didn’t pick up Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman’s new Animal Man this September, and then everyone said it was AMAZING and I reluctantly gave it a try.  Everyone was right.  It’s a crazy good book, and a really pleasant surprise.  It’s one of my favourites each month.

9. Detective Comics With Scott Snyder, Jock, And Francesco Francavilla

This is the old Tec, not the DCnU Tec that sort of sucks and that I’m probably going to drop soon.  Snyder’s run on the book was one of the best Batman stories in years, and made me not completely hate the then Bat-status quo with Dick as Batman and all the annoying Batman Inc. stuff.  That’s no small feat.  Plus the art was fantastic, and I loved how Jock and Francavilla’s art worked together in certain issues… they have very different styles, but it was very complementary.  I miss Jock and Francavilla on Syder’s also very good DCnU Batman.

8. Batwoman Is A Series Now, And It’s REALLY Good

I really enjoyed Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman stories in Detective Comics, and was excited she was going to get her own series.  Then it was delayed and delayed and it turned out that Williams was going to write it… Rucka is a hard act to follow, and artists writing doesn’t always work out so well, so I was a little nervous.  Now we have a regular Batwoman series in the DCnU, and it’s GREAT!!  The art is as amazing as ever, and the writing is really solid… it’s one of the best books in the DCnU by far!!

7. Kelly Sue DeConnick

Lots of new writers had big years in 2011, but Kelly Sue DeConnick is the creator I’m most excited about.  Her Osborn: Evil Incarcerated series with Emma Rios was spectacular and so not what I expected it to be (in the best way possible), and made me want a Nora Winters series.  Her short run on Supergirl achieved the rare feat of making Supergirl interesting and fun, plus it had Lois Lane… every book is better with Lois Lane.  I very much hope that we’ll see DeConnick on some more minis and series in 2012.

6. Hark! A Vagrant, And Kate Beaton Generally

If you’re not visiting Kate Beaton’s site regularly to read her hilarious historical comics, then you’re really missing out.  And if you don’t have her new book yet, then you’re just a crazy person.  Beaton is ridiculously funny… her ideas are fantastic and weird, and then she completely sells them with her spectacularly expressive artwork.  AND she’s from Nova Scotia, where all the coolest people in the world come from.

5. David Lopez, Alvaro Lopez, And Nathan Fairbairn’s Artwork On Mystic

G. Willow Wilson’s writing and Amanda Conner’s covers were great too, but the art in Mystic was SO GOOD.  It felt almost like a Disney movie, but with a slightly harder edge.  Everything was so expressive and ornate and beautifully designed, and I was so sad that it was only a four issue mini.  The pencils and inks were killer, and then Fairbairn’s colours took it up a notch, especially using different colours to outline things instead of the usual black.  They definitely need to do a sequel!!

4. Volstagg In The Mighty Thor

Thor and the rest of the gods were busy fighting Galactus and the Silver Surfer, so it was up to Volstagg the Voluminous to defend Asgard from the angry hordes of Broxton, Oklahoma.  And he did so in hilarious fashion.  Since Fraction took over Thor, Volstagg has been comic relief but also one of the most practical of the gods, taking care of Earthbound matters while Thor and Odin were busy elsewhere.  Along the way, he became one of my favourites characters of the year.

3. Skottie Young On The Oz Books

Skottie Young has been drawing Marvel’s Oz adaptations for over three years now, and he’s just getting better and better.  This year, Ozma of Oz wrapped up and now we’re into Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and I don’t think I can recall such a consistently amazing run of artwork.  Young fits the world of Oz so well, or rather he has the unique gifts to so perfectly construct the world of Oz.  Along with Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s gorgeous colours, Young is in the midst of one of the best art runs in the history of comics.

2. The Painfully Brilliant Casanova: Avaritia

Holy cats people is this a good book.  Casanova has always been great, and the recent Icon reprints of Luxuria and Gula in colour were fantastic, but Matt Fraction has outdone himself with Avaratia.  We’re only two issues in, and I have a sneaking suspicion that when it’s done it might be the best comic story I’ve ever read in my life.  After wiping out entire universes in the first issue, Avaritia turned from genocide to suicide when Casanova killed a Fraction analogue at a comic convention in the second issue.  It’s so dark and depressing that it almost hurts to read it, but it’s SO GOOD.  Fraction is just bleeding over every page, and Gabriel Ba’s art captures everything so beautifully… I can’t wait to read the rest.

1. Brian Azzarello And Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman

I decided to do only one entry per book for this list, because otherwise the vast majority of the list might have been Wonder Woman related.  Here are the various things I would have put on the list:

  • My favourite character in all of comics, Hermes.  He’s got bird feet!!  He’s the coolest looking dude, plus he’s just chilling out ALL the time.
  • My second favourite character in all of comics, Strife.  Best new villain I’ve seen in ages… she’s just a terrible, terrible person and I LOVE her.
  • The expressions Cliff Chiang puts on Zola’s face… they’re just priceless. 
  • Azzarello building something epic.  You know when Azzarello builds something, it’s going to be goooooooooooooooood.
  • All the hilarious lesbian jokes in Wonder Woman #2.  So funny.
  • That me and my best friend STILL argue about the Hippolyta/Zeus sex scene in Wonder Woman #3.
  • Matthew Wilson’s gorgeous, evocative colours.  He nails every scene.
  • CLIFF CHIANG.  He’s just the best, in every way.  And his Wonder Woman is classy and powerful and beautiful.

I could go on.  When Azzarello and Chiang were announced as the creative team for the new Wonder Woman, I was over the moon excited, and I’m ridiculously glad that the book has turned out so well.  While I’m inclined to enjoy Wonder Woman, as you can tell from my site, my love for the character results in ridiculously high expectations, and they totally blew my socks off.  It’s a spectacular book, and far and away my favourite comic book thing of 2011.

The end of one year obviously means the start of another, so here are some things I’m looking forward to in 2012:

  • Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga.  It’s been WAY too long since BKV’s put out a comic, and an alien space adventure sounds like a fantastic time to me.
  • The new books from Vertigo, Paul Cornell’s Saucer Country especially.
  • The second wave of DCnU titles.  It looks like a bunch of the New 52 might get axed soon, and I’m excited to see what comes next.
  • The continuation of some new series I’m digging, Fraction and the Dodson’s Defenders in particular.
  • The Dark Knight Rises AND The Avengers… it’s going to be a good summer!!  It looks like 2012 might be kind of cool for comics all around, really.

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