Tag Archives: Black Mask

Space Riders #4 Review

SpaceRiders4

by Alexis Ziritt, Fabian Rangel Jr, and Ryan Ferrier

Ziritt and Rangel Jr’s Sci-Fi adventure comes to a close in this issue.

As the villainous Hammerhead seeks to kill Captain Peligro, he attacks the headquarters of the Space Riders to draw him out. Peligro obliges and takes Hammerhead on alone while his faithful crew seek to wipe out Hammerhead’s forces. The good guys win, the Galaxy is safe, and cue inspiring action music.

It’s been so long since I read issue 3 of this series, but I couldn’t care less. Having no idea what was happening just added to the experience of reading the book.

It crystallized with this issue that the creative team is probably Adult Swim fans, the Adult programming block on Cartoon Network that routinely has disturbing/personal/grotesque/imaginative shows that push the boundaries of animation. I could see a comic like Space Riders being an Adult Swim cartoon, with its self-aware writing and mash-up premise. Maybe a cross between Super-Jail and Mary Shelly’s Frankenhole. 

The story plays pretty much like you would expect, with a few touches that make the book stand apart from its inspirations.

The art is the best mix of a six-year-old’s acid trip and old school cartooning. There’s a genuineness to the art, with the folds in the paper and coffee stains in the corner of the pages that make the book feel like a labor of love rather than a mass-produced commodity by corporations to sell merchandise. It feels more real than a book from the Big Two.

The art is rough, but carries a flair with it along with the neon colors and thick ink lines. Instantly retro but somehow fitting with the Post-Post-Modern we see occasionally.

Overall, a fun book that should be looked at by all to see what comics were and could be again; fun, trippy and weird.

Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent

Review of Young Terrorist #1

cby Matt Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan & Jean-Paul Csuka

The Black Mask army returns with another raw, challenging & confrontational poli sci-fi thriller in Young Terrorist by Matt Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan & Jean-Paul Csuka, that goes beyond the assumptions of it’s title for a complex exploration of American power & politics.

Young Terrorist first issue is 81 pages which allows for the creators to build up it’s world and set up the characters & premise. In that way, Young Terrorist is able to move in different directions, being partially a book about New World Order Illuminati covert wars, partially about activism and partially about using new media to disrupt the current system from the inside out. Writer Matt Pizzolo is throwing a lot at the reader, but the books length and measured pace help to flesh that out and creates connective tissue between the various themes of the series. Anybody whose familiar with Pizzollo’s work on God Killer should know that he pulls no punches and is unafraid of looking at humanity most uncomfortable spots; Young Terrorist is unflinching in that way. Within the first half of the book, we see an infant being kidnapped, a suicide bombing at a Starbucks, a teenager being tortured in a CIA black site, a young hitchhiker blowing a truck driver for cash then getting beating by the same truck driver for trying to steal his clothe’s and a cop’s head explode from a close range gun shot. This is not for the faint of heart, but there is substance behinds all that in it’s character studies and how they relate to the world and while at times that can feel heavy handed, that’s partially because the United States military’s interrogation techniques or the way we raise our live stock is pretty fucking heavy. Wherever you fall on the Illuminati conspiracy theory, it’s hard to argue with the reality that Young Terrorist is portraying, even if it’s retrofitted to create science fiction, it’s still very much a mirror to our own world. To match the writings tone, artist Amancay Nahuelpan has a sort of strange and ugly illustration style that helps to accentuate the mood of the story.  His artwork feels very focused on shape and spherical objects in a weird way while his acting hit’s the mark and helps shore up the character work. Colorist Jean-Paul Csuka adds to that mood with his bright and vibrant color work. Young Terrorist covers a lot of ground, the book goes from a prep school, to the middle east, to middle of nowhere Wyoming to a dilapidated Detroit suburb pretty quickly and it feels like Csuka’s color work helps in easing that transition for the reader by establishing a sense of place and environment.

This is not a book for everyone, there are readers that will instantly disagree with it’s politics, others will have a hard time following such a large scope of narrative and others will just find it too disturbing. But if you can stare into that abyss that is Young Terrorist long enough, it really does stare back at you and help you see things about our world in a new way. As Pizzolo writes in the books closing essay “Nothing in this book is true, but it’s all True” Some people will tell you that truth is subjective but that’s only to a point. On some level, we are being sold on a moral ambiguity that is convenient for us to believe in, but ultimately destructive. Young Terrorist feels like it’s searching for an opt out of that and while it means facing some uncomfortable truths about our own culpability & the steep cost at which real change is attainable, it might be necessary. I don’t know how subjective that truth is just yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Young Terrorist has to say about it.

Space Riders #3 Review

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by Fabian Rangel jr, Alexis Ziritt

Captain Peligro and his fellow Space Riders encounter stun rays, dead gods, and space priests in this phatasmogoric issue.

After a brief rumble on a robot ruled planet, the Space Riders learn of the Tomb of the Gods and a book chronicling their history on a hidden planet. As they arrive in search of the book, villains plot their demise, including the killer of Captian Peligro’s father.

The art is electrifying, with garish, neon colors and acid-tinged imagery. Ziritt’s art style is like a lost bridge between Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in his imagination and approach to shape.

Overall, another fun Space romp with our motley heroes. The premise teased for next issue promises more action and all the excitement of running around a Space pyramid.

Rating: Poor, Fair, Good,Great, Excellent

Space Riders #2 Review

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by Alexis Ziritt, Fabian Rangal Jr, Ryan Kelly

“Space Riders” is a special kind of comic. It wears its influences (Star Wars, Voltron, Battlestar Galatica, Starship Troopers, Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin) on its sleeve, but still feels new yet recognizable.

The issue opens with a man named Peligro, from a cadet joining the Space Riders to his eventful battles as a Captain to meeting his current crew mates, a deadly cyborg and religious humanoid Baboon. Captain Pelogro leads them from one scenario to the next, from fighting an alien mob to being captured inside a giant robot-ship after saving a space whale.

The art is pulpy and striking, I could stare at it for hours. The colors are vibrant and flowing, like the best of Marvel comics during the 70s.

Although I love the art, in some panels a lack of contrast between colors had me confused at what I was looking at. Muted red next to pure neon green is not the best combo. Also, the art is perfect for capturing a single scene or moment but feels cramped when depicting a second.

Overall, an entertaining throwback Sci-Fi comic. I thoroughly enjoyed the crazy obstacles and the character interactions, as well as the groovy art. At times the visual story telling doesn’t fully coalesce, but they’re still a treat. Despite being the second issue, this is a great place to start and enjoy two creators jamming on power cosmic.

Review of We Can Never Go Home #2

cBy Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon and Josh Hood

Remember when you were a teenager? Remember when you had a crush on the popular girl? Remember when she was actually freakishly strong and burst into your house while your dad was beating on you and punched him so fucking hard he died…okay maybe this isn’t the typical high school experience. The characters feel so real that this can easily be mistaken for my own memory. However, my own memory did not include fugitive teens on the run.

We Can Never Go Home is one of the strongest titles being put out by a talent filled group over at Black Mask. The story of the outcast and the pretty girl, bonding over a common ground…super powers. After hot girl Maddie kills Duncan’s father, there is nothing left to do but hit the road. This issue has all the classic tropes of a teens-on-the-run story. What makes it special is the honest reaction of the characters. There are a few car scenes where Maddie and Duncan are chatting while hitting the open road. As scary as it would be to runaway, the teens get easily distracted by the excitement and the danger of it all. In one page Maddie goes from wanting to turn herself in to giggling over how they will spend all the cash they just ripped off. It is very enjoyable watching these kids attempt to be outlaws, when basically all they know about being outlaws is what they see in the movies. They don’t rob a bank, that would be stupid, instead they rip off a drug dealer…yes much smarter.

The best scene of this issue and of the entire series so far is when Duncan and Maddie actually go to rip off the drug dealer. It’s a conversation between Duncan and Maddie in square boxes, indicating it is not happening at the same time as what we are seeing. Duncan is explaining how easy it is going to be to rob the drug dealer. While he is explaining we are viewing what actually happened when they broke into the drug house. Let’s just say things didn’t go according to plan. Ever since True Detective used this form of storytelling, where what you hear is not actually what you see, I have been gushing over it. It provides a great moment in this issue.

If you want awkward teen moments, super powered ass kicking and an evening stay at the “No-Tell Motel” then what are you waiting for? We Can Never Go Home is your jam!

– Dean

 

Advanced Review: Space Riders #1

cNo Spoilers

by Fabian Rangel Jr & Alexis Ziritt

Image Comics has created a near perfect system for themselves by having a strong eye for talent and a writer/artist friendly financial model. Years ago they published comics by then unknown creators such as Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender & Matt Fraction, those creators made great comics at Image, Marvel noticed and signed said creators, creators go on to be some of Marvel’s most popular writers, writers go back to Image at height of popularity to publish creator owned work superior to their Marvel work, other famous creators notice and follow suit; and within a few short years Image has a catalogue of ongoing series from creators that have worked on/or are currently working on ultra popular properties such as The Avengers, Batman,  X-Men, Justice League, Star Wars, Superman, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine ect The question then becomes; where do the up and comers level up? Where are we going to find to find the next Hickman, Remender & Fraction if those spots are all filled at Image? Similar imprints like BOOM! & Oni seem content to pick up the creators from the big two that Image doesn’t have room to publish instead of taking chances on up and coming talent while Darkhorse, Dynamite & IDW are still driven by licensed content. So where are the next great comics creators coming up from? Enter Black Mask and the creative talents behind Space Riders, a company and creative team that has upended the circular nature of comics talent.

Continue reading Advanced Review: Space Riders #1

Review of God Killer #1

Godkiller-1-1-600x923by Matthew Pizzolo & Anna Muckcracker Wieszczyk

God Killer #1 is a strange, moody and grimy story about a future urban dystopia that manages to create a haunting and almost surreal narrative about the ambitions of the people at the very bottom of society. Writer Mattew Pizzolo has been working on this comic for the better part of a decade with artist Ann Muckcrack Wieszcyk and it shows in the care and structure of the first issue. It’s very much about feel and mood as the pacing moves at it’s own speed but that also works here as you get a fully formed world, characters and clear mission statement as this is a story about the haves & have not’s. Pizzolo writes something that feels very much like Brian Woods early politicized work but in a way that is more hazy and in the air while Wieszcyk illustrations are hauntingly dream like and atmospheric with a color palate and line work that looks burnt and dusty in the best way possible. God Killer is an exciting debut that promises for an interesting series and while the looseness of it’s structure won’t be for everyone it’s a fantastic comic for all the dreamers who aren’t afraid of a little filth.

Review of Critical Hit #2

CriticalHit-02-previewproof-1-b5938by Matt Miner & Jonathan Brandon Sawyer

Issue 2 of Black Mask studios Critical Hit is a gut punch in the best way possible as it takes a concrete reality look into the consequences of two animal rights activist that might have stepped over the line. Dean has summarized the first issue really well here and where as that debut issue was very much a set up of things to come this one dives right into the heart of the adventure; brutally. It has a casual violence to it that let’s you feel every hit and the impending doom of their situation. Matt Miner’s characters feel fully realized in a book that could just be like “lol rednecks” but instead highlights the huge shade of grey at the heart of this book. His dialogue really pops and gives life to the story while illustrator Jonathan Brandon Sawyer does some fantastic character work in displaying the pain and anger of people inside this comic along with a fantastic full page illustration of the two protagonist rescuing a couple fight dogs as literal fireworks explode in the background. Critical Hit is a huge surprise as it takes a wholly original concept and runs with it in a complex character study about our relationship with animals. There is nothing else like this and it’s well worth reading as Miner & Sawyer establish themselves as two new voices in comics that deserve your attention.