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My favorites –

Lady Killer vol. 2 (cover art by Joelle Jones)

Black and white and read all over.  With a shock of green in those gorgeous eyes.  Joelle Jones is fast becoming my favorite artist working in comics.  Bloody sexy.

Mr. Miracle #5 (cover art by Nick Derington)

I’m a sucker for these atypical moments that nevertheless convey so much about the characters, in this case Mr. Miracle and Big Barda enjoying a quiet interlude.  The beach, the pier, the setting sun – beautiful.

Mr. Miracle #5 variant (cover art by Mitch Gerads)

A completely different cover, more overt in its conveyance, but still delivering a wonderful moment.  Amidst a backdrop of hearts, our two lovers smiling, gazing into each other’s eyes.  Get a room already!

Astro City: Ordinary Heroes (cover art by Alex Ross)

Kind of creepy.  Kind of funny.  Somehow appropriate given the title.  Alex Ross having fun.

Bug: The Adventures of Forager #6 (cover art by Mike Allred)

I’ve always enjoyed artist Mike Allred’s unique style and, while I have no idea what’s going on here, I appreciate the roll call of Fourth World players including, my favorite, Granny Goodness bottom right.

Detective Comics #970 (cover art by Rafael Albuquerque)

A dynamic instant captures our two heroes in motion, motorcycles streaking, capes trailing in the wind, the sun gold vibrancies of the street and background lending the whole an oil on canvas quality.

Flash #36 (cover art by Neil Googe)

Here it’s all about the composition – Flash foreground about to pull the sheet away to reveal the corpse’s identity; rogue’s gallery background conveying a range of emotions from shock to sadness.  I need to know who’s under there!!!

Suicide Squad #31 (Tony S. Daniel and Danny Miki)

Well here’s an eerie little PSA about the dangers of space travel.  What were they doing in planetary orbit and where do those oxygen hoses lead?  The framing that suggests the answers may lie just out of our eye line.

I.T.: The Secret World of Banking #3 (cover art by Hubert Khan Michael?)

Slick!  The textures, details, and color palette sing.  This is one badass cover.

Falcon #3 (cover art by David Acuna)

Love the use of shadows and light, the framing of our hero laid low, cuffed and captive, the rainfall illuminated by the patrol cars’ flashers.

 

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Join us tonight for a Dark Matter/Stargate tweetfest – 10/9c!

And while you rev up for the big event, check out my favorite comic book covers of the week…

Batman #36 (cover art by Jordie Bellaire)

What a great mid-action shot of two of the biggest badass BFF’s.  A celebration of friendship, sure, but look at the grim determination on their faces.  These guys mean business.

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #2 (cover art by Clayton Henry, Mark Morales, and Tomeu Morey)

Pandemonium reigns in this lightning flash snapshot suffused in cool blues and vibrant whites.  Dynamic.

Cyborg #19 (cover art by Guy Major, Ivan Nunes, and Cliff Richards)

Man down!  Love the composition of this shot, our fallen hero foreground, the ominous antagonist looming large against the background foliage.   Also loving the details on Cyborg’s shell, the tattoos, and the splintered scattered remnants.

DC Universe Holiday Special 2017 #1 (cover art by Brad Anderson and Andy Kubert)

Yeah, I’m a sucker for these seasonal one-offs, mainly because it offers us an atypical glimpse at these oft so serious characters.  I mean, I get it.  Saving the world is grim business.  But look at how much fun they’re having.  Hell, even Batman is smiling.

Superman #36 (cover art by Patrick Gleason and Dean V. White)

Speaking of atypical, Superman is a character that rarely receives the dark treatment and yet his backstory is one filled with tragedy – the death of his parents, his people, his planet.  And this is one of those rare instances where we do see a dark side, though whether its the Superman we know is debatable.  He sits, regal, atop a throne, a fiery-eyed calm amid the death and destruction.

Scales & Scoundrels #4 (cover art by Galaad)

Elegant in its simplicity, its off-center framing.

Black Bolt vol. 1 (cover art by Christian Ward)

Black Bolt’s costume is one with the darkness, the vertical bars foreground of his face suggesting he is a prisoner, perhaps of his very persona.

Black Bolt #8 (cover art by Christian Ward)

And one more Christian Ward Black Bolt cover, this one, in contrast, a kaleidoscope of colors, the pinks and purples of the distant horizon lending it an otherworldly feel.  Front and center, a grounded, sobering image of our hero kneeling, chained down as he awaits execution.  But the eye is drawn to the scintillating flash of the falling blade.  A king laid low.

 

Star Wars: Darth Vader #9 (cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Francesco Mattina)

I’m sure you’ve probably noticed a trend by now: another week, another favored Darth Vader cover.  Again, our character is doing what he does best – looking foreboding as hell.  The detailing on Vader’s costume, the judicious use of color, the play of light and shadows – excellent.

Dreadful Beauty: Art of Providence (cover art by Jacen Burrows)

A special art book showcasing the talents of artist Jacen Burrows.  Beautiful cover.

 

The Consultant #1 (cover art by Simon Fraser)

A superhero-themed take-off of The Usual Suspects.  This one looks like all sorts of fun.  The characters convey so much through posture.  I already know that guy in the pink, second from left, will be my favorite.

See you all tonight!

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In what has become a weekly Wednesday tradition, here are my favorite comic book covers of this week’s newest releases:

Batman: Creature of the Night #1 (cover art by John Paul Leon)

At the heart of the Batman story is Bruce Wayne, an orphan forever driven by the deaths of his parents and this cover neatly encapsulates the theme of innocence lost, the contrast of light and dark with the young child in the foreground in what I assume is his Halloween outfit, the ominous gunman (who bears a striking resemblance to The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus BTW) looming large in the background, tragedy set to strike.

Eternity #2 (cover art by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic)

As a sucker for creature designs, I can’t help but love this portrait of an other-worldly creature with its horn like protuberances, inhumanly narrow chin, shocking white eyes, and affinity for turtlenecks.

Glow #1 (cover art by Anny Maulina and Dia Ja)

I really like the earthy hues of this post-apocalyptic (?) cover – all browns and beiges, grays, and blues, with a tiny shock of teal in the foreground shirt worn by the youngster staring up at the foreboding tower.  I appreciate its elegance.

Heart Throb: Season 2 #5

Now this one is interesting – a classic automobile, its driver his back to us, glimpsed through some opaque filter.  A marked contrast to the hard line candy color displays of some of the younger skewing titles.

Lola XOXO: Volume 2 #5 (cover art by Siya Oum)

Syia Oum’s pencil work is sublime, the details of our young protagonist and the curious backdrop elements (the Hollywood sign, the gas mask) telling a tale in a single static shot.

Old Man Logan #31 (cover art by Mukesh Singh)

Probably the most beautiful covers of the week right here.  The colors are gorgeous and check out the texturing of the red leather outfit, Logan’s jacket, the details of the hair, the serrated blade.

Renato Jones: Season 2 #5 (cover art by Kaare Kyle Andrews)

A moment of clarity amid the violence as our protagonist draws respite, oversized gun still smoking, bullet holes and blood marking the backdrop.

Skies of Fire #4 (cover art by Pablo Peppino)

I have to give it up to artist who creates a gorgeous circa WWI tableau incorporating six distinctly different characters (seven if you count the dog).  Some really nice touches here with the shading, the suggestion of a breeze in the frozen flow of hair.

Beauty #17 (cover art by Jeremy Haun and John Rauch)

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautifully eerie set of covers than the offerings for this unnerving little series, and the latest entry delivers yet another gem.  Contrast the gorgeous textures of the dress with the cracked skin and decaying visage of its owner.

Ghost Butterfly (cover art by Martyn Lorbiecki)

This one is foreboding yet borderline whimsical, reminiscent of water color work of Jeff Lemire.  Very intriguing.

The Ghost Fleet: The Whole Goddamned Thing (cover art by Lauren Affe, Jonah J. Hill, and Daniel Warren Johnson)

Okay, let’s talk composition.  Lonely, cowed figure at the bottom surrounded by a sparse emptiness, a veritable avalanche of destruction raining down in a torrent of mud and metal.

Rosalynd (cover art by Stephan Franck)

Often the simplest of covers are the most compelling.  Who is this lonely figure with the suitcase?  What circumstances have found her in this beguilingly bleak setting?

The Woods vol. 8 (cover art by Michael Dialynas)

Originally, I wanted to cap my selections at single issues, but a few collected editions this week were just too beautiful to overlook.  Like this puzzling snapshot of a windswept warrior on his long drop down.  He’s falling, not flying, but something about his body language, that open-armed acceptance, seems to suggest he knows exactly what he’s doing.

SAM vol. 1-3 (cover art by Shang)

Either of the covers for these three volumes would rank as my favorite of the week, so I include all three (since, appropriately enough, all three were released today).  There’s a wonderful anime feel the proceedings – giant robots, kids, and post-apocalyptic mayhem.  Love the design work.

Injection vol. 3 (cover art by Jordie Bellaire and Declan Shalvey)

Another excellent cover in a long line of excellent covers for this series.  A convergence of tech and nature, and a foreboding sense of the calm before the storm.

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Another Wednesday brings us another vast selection of great comic books to discover and, with it, a slew of fantastic comic book covers worth noting.  These were my favorites –

Black Panther #167 (cover art by Brian Stelfreeze)

The Klaw’s sonic emitter offers a simultaneous yet alternating glimpse at both the murderous master of sound and Black Panther, the Wakandan protector.  Gorgeous yet very clever in its efficiency, I love the in-your-face boldness of this cover.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #9 (cover art by Jim Cheung)

Another week, another Star Wars: Darth Vader cover, this one illustrated by Jim Cheung.  I’ll admit to a certain childhood affinity for the character and this cover, with its stirring blacks and reds illuminated by the blinding white heat of the light saber, reawakens the love I held for this franchise.

God Complex #2  (cover art by Hendry Prasetya)

There’s a slick, stylistic weirdness to Prasetya’s cover art, a surprisingly complimentary melding of disparate worlds: humanity and technology.  Gold and greys mark the sleek cybernetic marriage of realism and alien incongruity.

Gung Ho #1 (cover art by ?)

Representing the small press is this title from Red Fox Comics that offers up a delightful weird amalgamation of gorilla, grenades, and banana.  It all hints at a hyper-realistic over-the-top fun but I’ll be damned if that gorilla doesn’t look mighty peeved.

Heat Vision #1 (cover art by ?)

Echoes of the pulp SF magazines of the 50’s makes this yet another nostalgia-fueled pick.  It’s James Bonds meets Lovecraft by way of Fantastic Magazine.

 

Luke Cage #167 (cover art by Rahzza)

Check out this hypnotic cover by single-named artist, Rahzza, with its center shocks of vibrant colors against a double-hued purple backdrop.

Optimus Prime #13 (cover art by Kei Zama)

Full admission: I have never owned a Transformers toy, watched a Transformers movie, or read a Transformers book in my life, but I’ve got to give it up to artist Kei Zama’s bad-ass low angle shot of our towering heroes.  They are the good guys, right?

Star Wars #39 (cover art by David Marquez)

It’s hard not to see the beauty in this admittedly unnerving character design by David Marquez, another glorious confluence of man, machine, and unknown other.

Swordquest #5 (cover art by Goni Montes)

Love the way this one plays with light and shadow, the advancing primaries bathed in that background darkness.  The blue skin tone is a delightfully creepy touch.

The Beautiful Death #3 (cover art by Mathieu Bablet)

Strange as it sounds, there is a certain sense of comfort in the underlying herbaceousness to Mathieu Bablet’s post apocalyptic vision that contrasts the death of glass and steel with the rebirth of nature.  And, at the heart of it, two lonely figures gaze out on the seemingly empty world.

The Shadow #4 (cover art by Lee Weeks)

This one captures an infinitesimal instant of flow and fury, the train streaking out of the tunnel, The Shadow making the leap to board, guns in hand, his trailing crimson cape the single punctuation of colorful in a world of black and white.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War #4 (cover art by David Sondred)

Big-ass gun?  Check.  Big-ass battle suit?  Check.  Blood red foreground palette backed by the smoked-out greys of destruction?  Check-check.  I’m not exactly sold on that modesty curtain cover…what exactly?  His nuts and bolt?…but otherwise a very cool character design.

 

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It’s Wednesday and you know that means?!   That’s right.  It’s New Comics Day!

I no longer get down to my local comic shop as often as I’d like but, fortunately, my comixology membership allows me to keep up with all of the latest releases (and back issues!), purchase those that catch my interest, and even lets me preview the first few pages of each new issue.

I’ve always loved comic books but, the truth is, with so many titles out there and the oft maddeningly confusing crossovers and big events, it’s hard to keep track. Sure, I have my regular go-to’s but, sometimes, it’s nice to make a new discovery. Usually, this is a result of my wanting to check out an admired writer or favorite character, or, occasionally, being drawn to an intriguing premise.  Every so often, however, it’s the art – specifically the cover art that piques my interest.  I know, I know.  Never judge a book by its cover.  Certainly, appreciate the artwork, let it lead you into a new book and, once you’ve appreciated the whole package, THEN judge.  But if the cover art catches your eye, why not reward the artist with a purchase?

Here is the first installment of what may (or may not) be a regular blog feature. My Favorite Comic Book Covers of the week:

Star Wars: Darth Vader #8 (cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli)

I don’t read Star Wars comics.  Hell, I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since halfway through Return of the Jedi.  But this is one bad-ass cover with our stripped down Vader looking very zen in the face of a fiery planetary object, his dark accoutrements foreground prisoners of gravity.

Aquaman #30 (cover art by Stjepan Sejic)

Squint and slightly blur your perception, and it’s almost like Jason Momoa is staring back at you through the prison-like bars of Arthur Curry’s trident.

The Mighty Thor #701 (cover art by Russel Dautermann)

I like the way this one play with depth and perception, the fuzzy, unfocused background image of the nameless creature walking way; the shockingly crisp image of a shattered Mjolnir lying abandoned on Bifrost.  And, hey, is that blood?!

Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #2 (cover art by Declan Shalvey)

All the action is left justified, our anti-heroes facing off, blades vs. blades, as their turning structure crumbles and gives way to a prevailing stark white nothingness.

Descender #26 (cover art by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen)

Along those same lines, there’s this minimalist cover that nevertheless conveys so much.  Have you ever seen a lonelier looking robot?

Maestros #2 (cover art by Steve Stroce)

On the other side of the spectrum is this audaciously detailed masterpiece that mixes magic, tech, and elements of horror.

The Realm #3 (cover art by Nick Filardi, Jeremy Haun, Kelly Jones, Michelle Madsen)

Speaking of horror, even if you don’t partake in the genre, you have to give it up for this eerie illustration that does a terrific job of evoking a sense of mounting dread through color and light.  And, oh yeah, that skull-sporting dude advancing on us.

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So, yes, in addition to the scheduled general meet and greets, I’ll be teaming up with my friend (and former fellow Dark Matter Executive Producer) Vanessa Piazza to pitch Masked while in L.A.  Editor Lou Anders assembled a diverse selection of tales that focus as much on the individuals behind the masks as they do on the superheroics.  The stories are grounded in character, something I’ve always been a firm believer in, from Stargate straight through to Dark Matter.  I envision the series as an anthology in the vein of Black Mirror except that, instead of studying the influence of technology, the focus will be on the social, political and personal effects of possessing extra-normal abilities – the advantages, the drawbacks, the costs.  Two great examples from established comic lore are DC’s Batman and Marvel’s Spiderman.  Batman – the world’s greatest detective, the dark knight, a masked vigilante who protects the streets of Gotham.  And, yet he is, at heart, an orphan, so scarred by the murder of his parents that tragedy fuels his relentless quest for justice.  Spiderman – the web-slinging, wise-cracking defender of New York is, in contrast, a meek, mild-mannered high school student similarly driven by tragedy to bear the weight of responsibility power and fate have thrust upon him.  Batman and Spiderman, Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, have always been, for me, the pinnacle of engaging, richly textured characters – at once relatable yet delightfully complex.  And that’s what we’re looking to bring through a collection of original superhero-themed episodes scripted by some of comics and genredom’s heaviest hitters.  Tonally, thematically, I want Masked to offer viewers a show that engages and entertains, but provokes as well.

So who is your favorite superhero/alter ego?  And why?

A couple of years ago, Vanessa was featured in a Hottest Canadian Film and TV Talent You’ve Never Heard Of – But Will list.  There’s a great write up on Vanessa (click the link), and an equally great artist’s rendition accompanying the piece –

Hey, you have less than a month left to get your letters in for a chance to win a piece of Dark Matter…well, a piece of Dark Matter.

Details here: https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/september-29-2017-fandom-start-your-blickensderfers/

Some of the items up for grabs:

Android chip and Victor upgrades.

FIVE’s sketches.

FOUR’s imperial ring.

FIVE’s goggles.

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Back in 2009, I was contacted by editor Lou Anders about contributing a story to his forthcoming anthology of superhero fiction.  The collection, he explained, would feature original works from established comic book and SF writers, focusing on grounded, character-driven narratives in the vein of The Dark Knight.  My first reaction was “I don’t know…” for the simple reason that I honestly didn’t think I could pull it off.  I have nothing but respect for authors of prose fiction.  What they do is really, really, REALLY hard.  Scriptwriting, with apologies to screenwriters everywhere, though admittedly challenging, is not even on the same level.  The time and effort required to compose a short story, much less a novel…  Lou, sensing my reticence (I believe I actually wrote “I don’t know…” in my return email to him) suggested he’d leave me time to think about it.  If I ended up writing the short story, he’d include it in the anthology.  If, I didn’t, well then that would be fine too.

So I thought about it.  And came up with a story.  And wrote it.  And rewrote.  And rewrote it countless times until the deadline loomed and I delivered it to Lou.  In the end, it was more of a novelette than a short story.  It took me nine months to write.  In comparison, it takes me about two weeks to write a script.

The critics were kind and, in the end, I was happy with the way my story, “Downfall”, turned out.  On the other hand, I was amazed by the quality of the stories that made up the rest of the collection.  Gail Simone, Bill Willingham, Daryl Gregory, Paul Cornell, and many others delivered some truly memorable tales.

Shortly after the book came out, io9’s Charlie Jane Anders wrote the following article:

This book could teach Hollywood to do superheroes right

Well, seven years later, it looks like it’s going to happen.

Dark Matter EP Producer Vanessa Piazza Sets Multi-Year Producing Partnership With eOne

“Piazza is also developing “Masked,” based on the original super-hero fiction anthology edited by Lou Anders, who will also be involved in the series adaptation. Notable comic and graphic novel writers, including Lilah Sturges, Paul Cornell, and Gail Simone whose short stories appear in the book, will contribute to the anthology series, working with Piazza and executive producer and showrunner Joseph Mallozzi.”

I’m excited to be a part of this for a number of reasons.  First and foremost is the source material, a standout selection of stories that will form the basis of a spectacular superhero-themed anthology series.  Second, is the calibre of the authors I’ll be collaborating with on this one.  Third, is the opportunity I’ll have to re-team with the dynamic and talented Vanessa Piazza.  Fourth is the opportunity I’ll have to work with my old friend, editor and author extraordinaire Lou Anders who will also be involved in the show’s development and production.  To paraphrase Dark Matter’s Wexler: “That’s a win-win-win…win.”

If you’re not familiar Masked, you can just click the icon in the right sidebar.  Or pick yourself up a digital version online or hard copy at your local bookstore.

 

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