Review: Afterlife with Archie


Story by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artwork by Francesco Francavilla
Lettering by Jake Morelli

“All hell breaks loose when a fateful accident sets a series of events in motion that will threaten the town of Riverdale like never before! When the dead begin to rise, craving human flesh, it’s up to Archie, Betty & Veronica to fight for their lives against the zombie hordes led by their former pal, Jughead…”

“This is how the end of the world begins…”

The cover exclaims “All new chilling tales!” and this description couldn’t be more spot on. Aguirre-Sacasa throws us right into the action which, of course, begins ‘in the dead of night’. From the outset the narrative is powerful and engaging, we’re immediately set on a tumultuous path. A path paved with witchcraft, necromancy and ultimately, the undead. It had to be difficult for Aguirre-Sacasa to envisage a way to introduce this chilling tale, as the title of the book is a huge giveaway to the premise. Despite this, Afterlife with Archie #1 is compelling and exciting and manages to be unlike any zombie fiction I have seen or read before. It has all of the conventions to make it a zombie book but none of the flavourlessness that tends to accompany the genre. Aguirre-Sacasa injects life into an age old tale. The narrative has tremendous pace, it carries the reader from start to finish seamlessly. There are no dull or lackluster moments, only moments filled with tension and suspense.

Francavilla’s artwork was a deciding factor in my reading of this book. His style is ideal for a book called “Afterlife with Archie”. Both his regular cover and his awesome variant are creepy, dark and perfect for the kind of thing this book is going for. With Francavilla, I always think I can know what to expect, being such a huge fan of his work. However, as with every other book bearing his name, he manages to surprise and excite me. Francavilla was meant to draw horror. If you follow him on Twitter you’ll have probably seen his posters for various classic horror films, now imagine a comic book filled with that dark, perfect artwork and you get Afterlife with Archie. The colour palette used in this book is really something to marvel at. The oranges really give the book a spooky, Halloween feel. He uses so few colours, yet manages to appear to use the whole spectrum. You could describe his work as minimalistic but then you would be overlooking the fact that to make something look so beautiful and perfect, it takes a certain degree of genius and a whole lot of time.

As my first venture into the world of Archie Comics, I never felt like I was missing something. Both Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla have done a great deal to make this book accessible to those who don’t usually read Archie Comics and that in itself is a huge achievement. There’s a great balance of suspense and humour which will bring me back for the next issue. It has all of the makings of a great comic and hopefully it has the readership too.



Skottie Young Signing

So, today was a pretty great day. I met Skottie Young at a signing at my LCS, Travelling Man. We got there fairly early because I was looking for something to buy (in the end I didn’t get anything because I was feeling indecisive). The signing itself was awesome, Skottie did sketches, free of charge, for anyone who asked. One of the main things I took away from meeting Skottie is that he’s such a nice, genuine guy who is also amazingly talented. Here are the covers I got signed. Thanos Rising #1, FF #1, Infinity #1 and Thunderbolts #1.


I also had a few prints that I wanted to get signed. I had Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Infinity and I managed to grab a Superior Foes of Spider-Man one. Here they are.


While I was extremely chuffed to have all of my stuff signed the icing on the cake was the sketch Skottie did for me. After hearing that he did some sketches at the Newcastle signing I had been racking my brain trying to think of what I wanted to get. I was stuck between Batman, Adventure Time and Captain Marvel. In the end I decided on Captain Marvel and I’m so glad I did, check out this sketch.


Review: Fashion Beast


Script: Alan Moore
Story: Alan Moore & Malcolm McLaren
Sequential Adaptation: Antony Johnston
Artist: Facundo Percio
Colours: Hernan Cabrera

“Fashion Beast follows Doll Seguin, a sassy coat-checker who escapes into the carefree lifestyle of fashion, music and decadence while the world outside fears an oncoming nuclear war. It’s a re-telling of the classic fable Beauty and the Beast that immerses readers in the rich, living characters of of its dystopian future setting.” 

Originally written as a screenplay, for a film never realised, in 1985, Fashion Beast is a collaborative piece from the minds of Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren. In a long, yet interesting foreword from Moore we learn a lot about the inception of the story and how the two came to work with one another. I often skip over introductions such as this one but having so little knowledge of this project, I was intrigued to learn more. Learning the history of this story only fascinated me more. Moore’s introduction could be conceived as long winded or unnecessary by some. As a younger member of society, I’m only vaguely aware of who Malcolm McLaren is, so, for me, it was important to learn more about this man. Not only his work on this book but the impact he has had on society. 

It’s important to remember that Fashion Beast was written around the same time Moore was writing Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I say that it’s important to remember this fact because these stories are all social commentaries and all share similar themes despite the fact that the three books are inherently different. Although it is called a “re-telling” of Beauty and the Beast, I would call it more of a re-imagining. McLaren and Moore have taken the classic tale and shook it about, the outcome is something altogether unique. As always Moore’s writing is stellar. His dialogue is powerful and his characters dynamic and realistic. All of the characters have motives, dreams. They are layered and deep, the characters are what truly bring this story to life, the world they live in is a mere coincidence. The protagonist, Doll, is a woman that was once a man, a transexual. Moore never turns her into a cliche or a joke, she is a human being, and that is important. Moore leads you to believe that the story concerns one thing when in fact, that’s not the case.  Fashion Beast is a tragic tale, everything from the dystopian setting to the decrepit characters screams hopelessness. Even the ending, which you are made to believe is a promising one is tainted with the darkness that often comes with a book featuring the name of Alan Moore.

The darkness that is ever present in this story’s narrative is reflected beautifully through the artwork. Percio’s dystopian world is a bleak and unforgiving one. One extremely important decision in terms of artwork was to have the pages behind the panels black instead of the usual classic white. This makes the book literally dark as well as metaphorically so. Artist and colourist have worked together in beautiful harmony to translate Moore’s screenplay. Regardless of my love for cinema, a film would not have done this story justice. However, Percio and Cabrera have not only done it justice, they have stolen the spotlight. They make you forget that this is another Alan Moore book, they stake their claim to it, they make it their own. The dialogue-less pages of Fashion Beast are the easiest to appreciate, the beautiful artwork is left to tell the story and it doesn’t disappoint. The detail of the artwork is something to be marvelled at. Backgrounds are often just as interesting as foregrounds in many of the panels and the little intricacies are what make this book.

Fashion Beast should be a classic. It should have been released as a graphic novel a long time ago. The story is deep and meaningful and everything I have come to expect from Alan Moore. The artwork is beyond phenomenal and truly brings this story to life. I only wish this book had been released sooner. However, its messages are as important and meaningful in todays world as they were 30 years ago when this story was born. An absolute delight to read.

Q&A With David Brown

David Brown is a comic book writer whose upcoming collaborative project The Wisdom of Fools: A Graphic Novel Horror Anthology is currently being Kickstarted, you can check it out here. David wrote the short comic The Magician, which I reviewed recently. The Magician will feature in The Wisdom of Fools alongside 9 other stories and can be read on the Kickstarter page.

How long have you been making comics?

I’ve been making comics since I was about eight years old or so. Granted, they weren’t very good but I was making them! I continued making them through high school and it’s just something that has never left me. No matter what’s going on in my life, I’m either thinking about story ideas or actually writing…I’m addicted!

What do you enjoy most about making comics?

I’d say what I enjoy most about making comics is bringing things to life that otherwise would have never existed. The comics medium is so unique in that you can literally do anything without fear constraints. If you can dream it, you can put it in a comic book. I love the endless possibilities.


What is the hardest part of making comics?

The hardest part of making comics for me is knowing when a script is finished. I’m constantly going over scripts and re-writing, editing, moving stuff around, playing with dialogue, etc. At some point you have to just put it down and convince yourself that it is complete. Then you hand it to an artist and they move stuff around anyway so really it’s futile. So yes, I’d saying being satisfied with a script is the hardest part for me.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration is sporadic. Sometimes I’m void of inspiration for weeks and then i’ll see something out in the world that will inspire me in the strangest ways. I’ll give you an example. I was in the grocery store shopping for cereal (because that’s the most important food) and this little old frail man comes roaring down the aisle, hunched over his cart. He’s grabbing items from the shelves with surgical precision without slowing down. And the best part, he’s muttering to himself the whole time. I went straight home and wrote ‘The Magician’! Just taking that situation and running it through my brain’s filter provided one of my favorite stories.

Is there anyone that you admire in the comic book industry?

Yes, there are several people in the business that I admire the hell out of. Alan Moore for his Swamp Thing work, Greg Capullo for his attitude and Batman of course, Terry Moore for his flawless story telling, Matt Kindt for his willingness to step well outside mainstream style to deliver the stories he wants to tell and George Perez because he’s George Perez! There are lots more creators I look up to but those guys I mentioned are tops on my list.

What is your favourite story in ‘The Wisdom of Fools’?

I get asked this a lot and the answer changes regularly. Right now it’s a tie between ‘The Magician’ and ‘Sweat’. ‘The Magician’ is special to me because it’s the first tale I wrote under the 5d Comics banner. ‘Sweat’ is a really cool tale that actually occurred to me in a nightmare. I was having a very lucid, horrible dream and I kept telling myself to write about this when I wake up. Basically I kept waking up from one nightmare into another nightmare and the idea of being caught inside a world made of nightmares stuck with me for weeks afterwards!


How long did it take to put this project together?

Well, the seed of the idea has been with me for years but specifically, it’s been a solid couple years in the making. The art and production part of it has been happening for the last year or so. It’s really satisfying to see something you’ve worked on for so long finally come to fruition! I feel like I’ve watched my child grow into a man!

Why did you choose to Kickstart this project?

A couple reasons for Kickstarter. Firstly, we simply could not afford to publish the book on our own. Off set printing is very expensive and crowd funding was really the only option. Secondly, there seems to be a lot of comics fans hungry for independent work right now, mostly due to the big two becoming a little stale. Kickstarter is the place most people think off to find some quality indie projects so that’s where we wanted to be!

What can readers expect from ‘The Wisdom of Fools’? 

Readers can expect ten quality stories, incredible art, and a book that is completely packed from cover to cover with professional level content. We poured our hearts and souls into this book and I know you guys will love it! Thank you so much!

Review: Devil May Cry: The Chronicles of Vergil


Writer: Izu
Artist: Patrick Pion

Based on the re-imagination of Capcom’s stunning Devil May Cry™ videogame, the series divulges the shocking secrets behind this world-famous saga.

Set against a contemporary backdrop, Devil May Cry depicts a duplicitous world where nothing is ever as it seems and the line between good and evil is constantly blurred. This comic prequel reveals the crucial backstory of the franchise’s hero, Dante, and his twin brother Vergil; with never-before-told revelations about these iconic game characters!

I have to admit, I was slightly apprehensive before reading this graphic novel. In my experience, comics based on video games, films, etc. can be a bit hit and miss at times. Also I’m not too familiar with the Devil May Cry games. I was pleasantly surprised upon reading this comic, it’s a prequel to the games so a vast knowledge of the world was not essential. The narrative is clear and easy to follow throughout the book. The story is intriguing and had my attention from the beginning. Despite my lack of Devil May Cry knowledge I genuinely enjoyed this book and while I didn’t jump to play the game, it certainly made me want to know more about the characters and the story.

The artwork in this book was a highlight for me. There’s some beautiful juxtaposition created through expert colouring. From the cover alone you can see the quality of Pion’s artwork, the interiors are even more impressive. There are beautiful splash pages and some excellently creative panel layouts. The art was unlike a lot of the artwork you see in mainstream comic books but by no means is it any less remarkable.

I didn’t believe this book would be to my taste before reading it but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whether you’re a fan of the games or just looking for something good to read The Chronicles of Vergil is what you’re looking for.

Review: Satellite Sam #3


Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Howard Chaykin

“Mike reaches out to the only woman he recognizes in his dead father’s collection of personal girlie snaps, and not only does she have stories about the old man would curl your hair, but she sees a method to the old man’s madness. What if there’s a picture of his killer somewhere in the room where he died?”

Up until this issue I’d found it difficult to care about this comic, the first two issues failed to grab me. I’m happy to say that my faith in Matt Fraction was rewarded with this issue. I found that this issue was much easier to follow than the previous two issues and not once did it lack the wit and intelligence that has become the signature of Fraction’s work. The pacing of the narrative was perfect and the whole thing flowed seamlessly from beginning to end. As a fan of Fraction’s dialogue, it was nice to see it being used to full effect in this issue. I was glad for the absence of the live television aspect of the story, it made for a welcome change in my opinion. Non-linear storytelling can be difficult to pull off but Fraction does so flawlessly in this issue. This appears to be the taking off point of Satellite Sam, if future issues follow suit then this could quite easily become one of my favourite current series.

I have to admit, Chaykin’s black and white artwork has grown on me. I was unsure if it was going to work for me in the first couple of issues but this issue blew me away. Chaykin’s use of textures is something to be marvelled at and his panel layout is sophisticated and classy, two things that this book is on so many levels. The colouring (or lack thereof) really immerses you in this post-war 1950s world of black and white television. There is a beautiful scene in a jazz club that has just made me fall in love with this comic. Chaykin clearly understands what Fraction is going for with his narrative and, from it, is creating some visual masterpieces. I’m also really enjoying the cover work that Chaykin is doing on this series and I certainly look forward to more.

This issue has revealed more than the previous issues and I feel that was really necessary for this series. Fraction appears to be playing the long game, which is fine as long as I’m kept interested. I see this issue as a massive improvement on the two previous issues and personally, I cannot wait to read more. This issue is what the series really needed: a kick up the arse to get it going.


Preview: Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol


Issue Number #3 (of 5)
Full Color
Publisher: Titan Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release date: September 11 2013
Writer/Artist: Stuart Jennett

Synopsis: Trapped in the past, surrounded by starving velociraptors, and liberally daubed in blood, the Sarge and his squad are in their tightest spot yet!

But there’s no time to linger on their slim chance of escape – they’re sharing the Cretaceous with the Nazi time crew who’ve stolen an Allied Chronosphere – a piece of tech that could tilt the Time War in the Nazis’ favor! It’s up to the Sarge to take it back – or die trying!

Pulse-pounding painted pulpcore action, just like Mama always made!