I’ve recently begun working as an Assistant Editor at ComicBookResources.com, but even more fun — I’m now a contributing writer, too. Huzzah! Mission accomplished! Super pumped for this gig.

Here are intros to my articles with CBR thus far, mostly being coverage of Comic-Con International in San Diego last month and a couple reviews. Click through to the full articles if they interest you.

“Black Kiss II” #1 Review — Click to read entire article

“Black Kiss” couldn’t be any more mature and still considered mainstream — it’s more layered than “Tarot,” but far from Manara. Gratuitously lubing crime noir with erotica and a spurt of horror, “Black Kiss” is Howard Chaykin’s definitive mark on all three genres.

The original “Black Kiss” takes violence to the extreme with a secret undertone frequently implied but never confirmed. It’s great stuff — stuff you should keep in-between your mattress so unsuspecting eyes don’t find it. “Black Kiss II” has a lot to live up to, and while the original is not required reading for newcomers, this issue gives off strong prequel vibes, taking place roughly 70 years before the original.

RetroSTUFFED: Valiant’s 1992 “Harbinger” #0-7 — Click to read entire article

In 1992, Valiant promised a dramatically different alternative to Marvel and DC’s superhero lines. The company aimed to offer readers quality superhero comics sporting top-tier talent with an indie edge. “Harbinger” was one of the company’s earliest releases, and in a sentence, it was a street-level superhero series with a splash of sci-fi, populated by teens who have supernatural abilities and a man who wishes to control them.

In the opening storyline, aptly titled “The Beginning,” writer Jim Shooter and penciller David Lapham began their tale in the just-passed year of 1991. Kids with superior abilities, dubbed “Harbingers,” are encouraged to train under the wing of Toyo Harada at his Harbinger Foundation to learn how to control their powers. A shadier version of the X-Men’s Professor Xavier, Harada has discovered a particular teen with a superior telepathic skill set: Peter Stanchek.

CCI: The Terry Moore Panel — Click to read entire article

Artist and writer Terry Moore, known for his strong female protagonists and bringing women readers into comics, spoke on his properties with a receptive crowd during a panel at Comic Con International in San Diego. Moore, whose original work is published through his own company, Abstract Studios, touched on the future of his currently ongoing title”Rachel Rising,” his last project “Echo,” the 20th anniversary of the Eisner Award winning series, “Strangers in Paradise,”the meaning of life and where he stands in the Creationist vs Evolutionist debate.

Moore opened with a touch of humor before diving into his horror title “Rachel Rising,” “We’re here to talk about my books — ‘Twilight,’ ‘Twilight Part 2,’ ‘After Twilight’ and ‘What to Do After The Next Twilight.’ Surprise! I’m doing a horror series.”

CCI: The Chilling Horror Comics History of the 1950s — Click to read entire article

“The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics ‘Zombies'” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego came on the final day of the event, appropriately scheduled after the CCAS Sunday Devotional and Christian Comics panel in Room 32AB. Focusing on pre-Comics Code 1950s horror comics, the panel was led by Eisner Award-winning comics historian and co-editor of Yoe Books, Craig Yoe, and Steve “Karswell” Banes, host of TheHorrorsOfItAll.comvintage comics blog, which to date has over 1,500 horror shorts posted.

IDW Publishing and Yoe Books recently released “Zombies,” a hardcover collection of 1950s horror comics hand picked by Yoe and Banes. The book is already sold out on the distributor level, and is the duo’s third horror collection through IDW, including “Bob Powell’s Terror” and “Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein.”

CCI: Dave McKean on Dawkins, Christ and “The Magic of Reality” — Click to read entire article

In front of a packed crowd during his panel titled “My Two Years with Dawkins, Christ and a Small Crab Called Eric” atComic-Con International in San Diego, artist, writer and indie filmmaker Dave McKean recounted two recent life events on radically opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum: an all-ages book he illustrated with scientist and Atheism proponent Richard Dawkins called “The Magic of Reality,” and a film he shot starring Michael Sheen in Port Talbot, Wales called “The Gospel of Us,” a modern day interpretation of “The Passion” story chronicling Jesus Christ’s final days of life on Earth.

McKean is a man who is all about the experience. “I’m not cut out for this [business], I don’t have skin thick enough,” McKean said in his British accent. “I make hopelessly uncommercial decisions, I’m terrible at that. But my thought is — if there’s something personal for me to get out of the experience, I can do it.

CCI: Valiant Joins ValiantFans.com Panel, Reveals Upcoming Programs — Click to read entire article

Reminiscent of Valiant Entertainment’s status in the comic market for over a decade, theValiantFans.com: The Unofficial “Summer of Valiant” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was tucked away in the back corner of the Convention Center and played to a small, but enthusiastic crowd, and after the panel had ended, Valiant CCO Dinesh Shamdasani gave CBR exclusive first word on the return of the popular Gold Logo Program.

Brian Wells of Valiantfans.com hosted the fan-run panel for the first time since 2007 — only this year Valiant has a line-up of titles currently being published. “X-O Manowar,” “Harbinger,” the newly released “Bloodshot” and “Archer & Armstrong” in August complete what has been dubbed “The Summer of Valiant.”

CCI: Bill Willingham’s “Fables” Panel — Click to read entire article

A star-studded team of creators joined writer and creator Bill Willingham for the “Fables” spotlight panel celebrating Vertigo Comics’ long running fairytale series at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Editor Shelly Bond, artists Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andy Lanning, Andrew Pepoy, letterer Todd Klein, colorist Lee Loughridge and writers Lauren Beukes and Sean E. Williams were present. Artist Shawn McManus was scheduled to attend but could not make it. As the panel began, Willingham made a surprise announcement, much to the dismay of the jam packed audience: “This will be my last San Diego show for awhile. Only because there are so many good shows now and I had to turn down others to do this and it’s time to give others a shot. We need to mix it up a little bit.”

But that announcement wasn’t the only surprise in store for the crowd, as Willingham unveiled another convention-related piece of information. “We’re going to have a nearly-all ‘Fables’ dedicated con called Fabletown and Beyond — it’s ‘Fables’ and books like ‘Fables.'”

CCI: Ben Edlund Panel — Click to read entire article

To kick off his spotlight panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, “The Tick” creator and “Supernatural”executive producer/writer, Ben Edlund, was granted a 2012 Ink Pot Award — Comic-Con’s achievement award given for excellence overall since 1974.

Nerdist Writer’s Panel host and “The Thrilling Adventure Hour” co-creator Ben Blacker served as moderator for Edlund’s spotlight panel, also joined by actor Shadoe Stevens — who often interjected oddball questions with his deep, booming voice. Surprising the crowd halfway through the discussion with his witty bass was musician and voice actor Doc Hammer, and “The Venture Bros.”creator, Jackson Publick. The group had the appearance of easy going surfers with their long, wavy hair, cool sunglasses and hip hats.

CCI: Oni Press RevolutiONIzes Comics Panel — Click to read entire article

The RevolutiONIze Comics panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was hosted by Oni Presseditor-in-chief, James Lucas Jones, and played to a small crowd of around a dozen when it commenced but filled out over time. The panelists, some of whom arrived late, included a lineup of the company’s hottest up and coming creators: Brahm Revel of “Guerillas,” Matt Dembicki of “XOC,” Scott C. of “Double Fine Action Comics,” Rich Stevens of “Diesel Sweeties” and Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurttthe writer/artist team on the supernatural-western hit,”The Sixth Gun.”

Feeling out the room, Jones asked the crowd what their favorite part of Comic-Con has been so far, to which Stevens set the tone for his words to come, saying, “The giant Power Ranger statue. And his giant package. I got a picture.”

CCI: World Building With Archaia Entertainment — Click to read entire article

Archaia Entertainment’s “How To Tell A Better Story Through World Building” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was not to be missed by up and coming creators seeking to produce their own original stories. Hosted by Archaia Editor-in-Chief,Stephen Christy, the panel featured three experts on the subject of world building: “Mouse Guard’s” David Petersen, “Rust” creator, Royden Lepp, and “Cursed Pirate Girl’s” Jeremy Bastian. The three creators shared their intricate thoughts on what went into creating their unique, rich worlds to a standing room only crowd.

Christy began by citing key elements which go into successful world building and the implementation of those ideas on the printed page: Characters and costumes, culture, history, language and colloquialisms, and location and architecture. Christy said the process is almost theatrical in nature — what goes into making a great world in the sequential format are all elements representative in the best stage productions throughout history.

I’ll post more as they go live. Thanks for checking out my stuff!

-Air #2

by G. Willow Wilson & M.K. Perker, Vertigo Comics

When I reviewed Air #1 in my video blog, I commented that while entertaining, the story is also confusing and convoluted. Unfortunately, not much changes in the second issue. I like the book, but I still don’t have a sense of where it’s going as more questions pop up instead of answers. Like what’s the deal with Zayne and who the heck does he work for?

M.K. Perker does a good job with the art. The main character, Blythe, looks far hotter than she did in issue #1, and the continuity with her bruised eye didn’t go unnoticed. My favorite aspect of G. Willow WIlson’s writing is the developing love story between Blythe and Zayne. It’s very ‘love at first sight’ and I can run with that. …What, I like love stories.

In this issue we get a better look at the supporting cast, which includes an obnoxious punk rocker and a sagacious old woman. And while I still have no idea what the McGuffin is yet, at least I now know who the bad guys are. Hopefully come issue #3 the plot will become clearer and the air more breathable.

“The Highest Emotion is not love. It is longing.” – Mrs. Battacharya

3/5 stars

-Fables #76

by Bill Willingham & Michael Allred, Vertigo Comics

I knew we were in for an overload of exposition following the climactic events of issue #75, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be so lame. Essentially Fables #76 focuses on Geppetto adapting to life in Fabletown and the residents’ reaction to his presence there. It gets tiresome seeing Fables from the Homelands voice their anger at Geppetto for being granted amnesty throughout the entire issue. We also get the exhilerating priveledge of seeing him experience modern day technology for the first time. Make no doubt about it, there is nothing exciting about watching Geppetto learn what a car is.

I didn’t like Michael Allred’s depiction of Pinnochio. He looked too childlike, which is drastically different from what we’re used to, and it was jarring. I also wasn’t a fan of how the major character who died in issue #75 wasn’t even mentioned.

Fables tops my list of titles currently being published, but this issue was flat out boring and did not appeal to me. Don’t let this deter you from getting into the series, however, as this issue was uncharacteristically bad. Plus, now would be a great jumping on point for new readers.

2/5 stars

-Resurrection #6

by Marc Guggenheim & David Dumeer, Oni Press

This title needs a pulse before it dies a slow, disappointing death. Complete in black and white, Resurrection is essentially The Walking Dead except with aliens instead of zombies. The story is about a handful of humans who have survived an eight year occupation of Earth from the alien ‘bugs’. Yes, it sounds cool but this issue was the final in the opening story arc, and it lacked anything that could be considered climactic. I mean, when in the hell are we going to see aliens do some evil stuff? And who is this dude in a cape compete with his own Batcave!?

Ignoring the fact that Resurrection is never released on time, Oni publishes the book on a ‘bi-monthly’ basis, which is a total momentum killer. It’s too easy for the reader to lose interest and forget what exactly is going on… and it allows for more time wondering when we’ll get to see aliens kill stuff!

On the whole Resurrection has been a decent read, despite issue #6. Stick with the title as it is expected to make the shift to color, hopefully making a mass resurrection of readers unnecessary.

2/5 stars

-X-Force #7

by Craig Kyle/Christopher Yost & Mike Choi, Marvel Comics

Let’s end this One Hitter on a good note.

X-Force is wasting no time in becoming one of the best X-Books currently being published. The combined talent of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost make for an engaging story, containing unexpected twists and turns that don’t come off as gimmicky. The dialogue sets the mood for this team of X-Men who need to get their hands dirty in order to preserve the future of the human race. To quote Cyclops:

“We’re entering new territory, and it’s dark. But we’re still the good guys.”

New territory indeed, as Cyclops makes it clear that killing is no longer an option that the X-Men can overlook.

New comer to the title, Mike Choi, provides for some awesome art. He uses a unique blurring effect to put the focus on the primary action of a panel. It is highly effective and comes off in a very cinematic way. To boot, Choi’s characters look their age and he draws his women beautifully, especially their faces.

So what else makes X-Force #7 kick ass? Well, let me run down the list for you: Archangel and Wolfsbane freak out, a handful of former ‘New X-Men’ join the team, someone comes back from the dead, and a villain that first appeared way back in Uncanny X-Men #2 resurfaces for the first time in years. To quote Wolverine:

“Come again?”

Come again indeed. Pick up this series, it’s bad ass.

5/5 stars

It all comes down to this.

After 74 issues of riveting continuity the most anticipated moment for Fables fans has finally come; the showdown between the citizens of Fabletown and the dreaded army of the Emperor and the Adversary. Fables #75 is fast paced and packed with action as the eagerly awaited, story changing battle finally takes place.

Brief plot synopsis:

Commandeered by Prince Charming and Sinbad, The Glory of Baghdad, Fabletown’s flying bomber, is nearly completed with it’s mission of destroying the Adversary’s gates which connect the Homelands with the Mundy World. The use of modern weapons by the Fables has had a devastating impact on the enemy, as armor and arrows are no match for mortars and machine guns. Despite having their backs to the wall, the Emperor and his evil forces have one final plan for victory, and Bigby Wolf’s team (assigned with guarding the last beanstalk to the Cloud Kingdoms) has everything to do with it…

Some thoughts on the issue:

-As expected, writer Bill Willingham creates an engaging story. Everything is meticulously planned out and it shows. The characters he has created throughout the run are original individuals, and it is easy to get connected to any number of them. I do have some beef with him however, as this issue felt very rushed. It seemed like Willingham was trying to cram in everything necessary in order to conclude this major story arc of the series. As a result, the pacing was quick and it cheapened the death of one of Fabletown’s major players in that not enough time was given to deal with the repercussions. Make no doubt about it, I am sad to see this character go, and the way they bite the dust is a fitting tribute to such a likable character.

-Mark Buckingham’s art looks great in this issue. He has been consistently impressive his entire run on Fables, and with this being a landmark issue, he delivers. While his battle scenes are vivid and detailed, the layout of the book doesn’t compliment them very well. This is no fault of Buckingham’s, but the layout is mostly vertical panels which makes for a narrow plane of viewing for the reader. I would have preferred more wide shots in order to depict the battle in a clearer way, showing the full extent of Buckingham’s work.

-Prince Charming and Sinbad’s relationship is highly entertaining. The two are basically the same guy, just from a different land.

-One of the Emperor’s men is named ‘General Petrus,’ and as I am not familiar with this character as a ‘fable’, I wonder if it is a political jab by Willingham as the name is similar to ‘Petraeus’…

-Boy Blue continues his job as narrator as he guides the reader throughout the story. Blue fans will be pleased to know they will have something to smile about once the issue is over… Snicker-Snack!

-Some one liners:

“But just in case things don’t go–you know… in that case tell every woman I’ve ever known it was her in my last thoughts. That should keep you busy for a few years at least.” – Prince Charming

“Howl winds and blow! Scatter my army as you will, but you will never move me!” – The Emperor

-There is nothing like seeing a deer charging into battle with two rabbits riding atop her firing uzi’s. This book is awesome.

The final word: 

There is so much I want to say on this issue but the need to keep the review spoiler free takes precedent, so I’ll refrain myself. Just know that while it is typical for a Vertigo series to end it’s run somewhere around issue #75, Fables is going to continue (thankfully!) but the title will definitely not be the same. The end leaves you with no idea as to what is coming next, and that makes for an exciting read all around. If you’re new to Fables and want to start reading the series, issue #76 may prove to be a great jumping on point. Even so, I highly recommend beginning at the beginning with the first trade. You won’t be disappointed.

4/5 stars

Fables #75