Well, file this under “we knew you when!” The Beat’s former New Media Editor/Managing Editor Alexander Lu has just announced his first graphic novel! Goodbye to All of You will be drawn by Tara Kurtzhals with colors by Maarta Laiho and it’s coming from Abrams in 2022.
This middle grade graphic novel follows two Chinese American siblings who feel untethered by the death of their mother. The night of her funeral, they wake up in a place that looks like Chinatown but is actually a space between Earth and the afterlife, populated by animal spirits. Terrance and Delilah must adapt to a new world while learning to make peace with their mother’s passing—and with each other.
The deal was repped by Inkwell Management’s Charlie Olsen and Jessica Mileo.
This sounds totally awesome and we couldn’t be happier for Alex!
Since leaving the Beat last year, Alex has been very busy working on this and also editing graphic novels for First Second — including the multiple award winning Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang. In fact it’s definitely Alex Lu Week since you can also listen to him talk editing on the podcast Portrait of an Editor!
Feeling a little teary here — Alex was such a huge support for me and the rest of the team as an editor, contributor and friend during his time at the Beat — we’ve shared so many ideas, convention adventures, and spicy Chinese soups. I knew immediately on meeting him that he was a comics lifer, and seeing his career take off is no surprise — his talent and dedication guaranteed that.
I’ve said this many times in interviews and podcasts and panels, but seeing talented people forge their creative journey, and being a part of it, no matter how large or small, is the best thing about being in comics for me, and the main reason I keep doing this.
Congrats, Alex, Tara, and Maarta! I’m sure there will be much more to come from them all.
Tomorrow it’s Comic Arts Brooklyn from 11-7 at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and as is Beat tradition, we are here to presentn the 2019 CAB Debuts! These are by no means the only new books debuting at the show, but it’s a parade of fresh faces, fresh books and fresh looks, and perhaps something here will tickly your comics reading fancy.
An absurdist, art brut rumination on society’s structures presented in Patrick Kyle’s singular style.
After the sudden death of a beloved patriarch who promised eternal life to his followers, a topsy-turvy society attempts to reconcile the deluded teachings of their late leader with the harsh reality he left behind.
Hands Up, Herbie! follows the author’s father, Herb Perr, from a mob-linked Jewish family in Brighton Beach of the 40s and 50s, through the studios of Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko, Reagan-era art activism, and a reckoning with the responsibilities of raising a family.
This book is the product of Kriota’s artists residency at the New York Academy of Medicine Library, and it includes a graphic memoir and her images of embroidery based on historical medical illustrations.
16 year-old Justin wants to forget a humiliating robbery while his father is hell-bent on getting even, so they embark on an ill-conceived, all-night manhunt that exposes glaring differences in their attitudes toward conflict, violence, and masculinity.
VENOMYTHS 00 is an arts and culture mag from the underground intergalactic resistance at least three hundred years in the future. When every thought and even biological minutia are regulated via a vast digital network, a printed book is an act of rebellion in and of itself.
In five short stories Anna Haifisch blurs the boundaries between humans and animals in a subtle way: carnivores and herbivores meet at a nerve-wracking congress, we get to know a merciless, art-collecting lizard, meet dancing ostriches and a melancholy meditating octopus.
In the second installment of this quirky, heartfelt LGBTQ adventure comic, war is brewing across the thirteen planes, and as always, haunted house attraction (and portal to hell) Dead End is right at the center of it.
Boutique Mag #4 is a community newsletter written for these, our end-of-empire times. Steeped in a half-hearted nihilism, and geared towards a community that may or may not even exist, this mag is packed full of plenty for it’s hypothetical audience to pour over!
A book edition with work by over twenty artists from across the world. The theme centers around ambiguity in spiritual encounters, religious icons or worship imagery.
Ron Rege Jr.
Juli Majer & Cristian Hernandez
Enormous Face/Kalan Sherrard
Joel Skavdahl/Seagull Invasion
Hayley Dawn Miur
Is there anything better than the heartache of a good romance story? Whether it’s unrequited love or young love or enemies-to-lovers, romance comes in all flavors and it’s dealer’s choice when it comes to perusing the genre on Webtoon. As one of its largest genres, it can be hard to pick from the plethora of offered stories (even if you limit yourself to the Originals) but I’ve compiled the following list. From the supernatural to slice-of-life, here is a look at some of my favorite romantic Webtoons to make you fall in love.
After falling in love with Aerial Magic, I found myself checking into other works by walkingnorth and found myself reading Always Human. Set in the high-tech future where people can use nanobots and genetic engineering to “mod” themselves, Sunati, a frequent modder who is always altering her appearance, develops a crush on a girl named Austen, who always appears the same. On top of walkingnorth’s fantastic artwork, nearly every episode of Always Human has a fantastic backing soundtracking. The is a completed series with 78 episodes.
Brass and Sass by antlerella Editor: Bre Boswell; Colorists: Achjayel, Fatherrjo
As a former band geek, Brass and Sass holds a special place in my heart (and has a claim over my Webtoon coins). When newcomer Camilla joins the school band, whatever she lacks in skill she makes up for in passion and eagerness. Bumping up against the serious and buttoned-up virtuoso Victor, the two personalities clash. A delightful story about young love with adorable art from antlerella, this story keeps me coming back week after week, hungry for more. It currently has 69 published episodes, with 4 locked under Fast Pass (take my coins!!)
After a five-month hiatus, I was overjoyed to see this Webtoon return last year in August. Set in a fantastical kingdom, Empyrea is not just a romantic story but a supernatural story with mystery and action elements. With inspirations from fairytales and steampunk, there is so much to enjoy when it comes to Empyrea, but what takes the cake is OHKATES’ art nouveau-inspired style that makes every panel enchantingly beautiful. It currently has 50 published episodes, with 5 locked under Fast Pass.
Gourmet Hound by Leehama Flat Colors: Kelsey Kato, Sydney Brunzell
While this does eventually become a romance between the supertaster, Lucy, and the chef she befriends, Graham, Gourmet Hound is primarily an emotional tale that talks about loss and forgiveness and the passage of time. Throughout its 166 episode run, Lucy encounters all the chefs who once looked up to her grandmother and her cooking school. As a food lover, Gourmet Hound is a treat. As a romance lover, the slow burn between Lucy and Graham comes to a satisfying end (even if it takes the whole series!)
House of Stars by saltacuentos with art by Lion Illustration Editors: Dayna Broder, Paul Jun; Art Assistant: Mai Martin
At 26 episodes, this is one of the shortest completed series on the list but deserves a high place of honor for the mythic inspiration and absolutely stunning artwork reminiscent of Studio Ghibli. House of Stars is the story of a girl named Lily, who is pulled into a quest that takes her to a strange world with an evil queen. But everything is not as it seems and what unfolds is a story about love and loss with a healthy injection of fairytale magic to boot.
The Kiss Bet by Ingrid Ochoa Editor: Breanna Boswell; Flats: Paulina Klabacka, Monica Sivayavirojna, Erika Vasquez
Just turned 18, Sara Lin is worried about her first kiss. Goaded by her friend Patrick into a bet, the two inevitably fall into problems when Patrick catches feelings and while Sara crushes on another boy in their class. Flashback reveals plot twists and side characters enter the fold in this cute (and sometimes infuriating) story about young love. The current story is on its second season with 71 published episodes and 3 locked under Fast Pass.
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe Copy Editor: Christina Anton; Art Assistants: Jaki Haboon, Lissette Carrera
No list would be complete without Lore Olympus. With just under 150 episodes published since March 2018, this retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone has been a fan favorite for years. Not only is this a myth that fans have gravitated to for years, but Smythe’s artistic take on your favorite Grecian gods is bursting with life and color. With an upcoming television show in the works based on the Webtoon, it’s hard to imagine this flying under anyone’s radar.
Midnight Poppy Land by Lilydusk Editor: Paul Jun; Art & BG Assistants: Lester G., Kent E., Kuro.Mono, Sander B.
Who doesn’t love a bad boy? When it comes to mafia member Tora, he is the definition of bad news. As the bodyguard of a mafia prince, Tora is tough and deadly. Until he comes into contact with Poppy, a book editor who bumps into Tora in a series of meet-cutes. There is an obvious dark edge to their relationship, with their meetings attributed to a key piece of evidence that Poppy has in her possession. But Poppy manages to get beneath that broody exterior and soon her and Tora’s stories become one. This series is currently on hiatus after completing its first season at 58 episodes.
The soft-spoken and kind Doctor Andreas Marino gets his life turned upside down when he meets Miss Abbott. She’s wild, she’s funny, she’s weird, and it isn’t long before the doctor ends up totally smitten. Set in Victorian times, Miss Abbott and the Doctor is a light-hearted rom-com for the casual reader. Villar’s sketchlike art style and small-town storylines can be refreshing to those who might not want the dramatic convoluted storylines of other romances. This is a completed series at 173 episodes currently and participating in Daily Pass.
My first official obsession when it came to Webtoon stories. Set in a fictional kingdom, one day Kihara Mei’s life changes when she becomes entangled with the famed Blood King. With an art style reminiscent of josei manga, lifelight paints stunning landscapes and swashbuckling adventure alongside torrid romance and court intrigue. Full of twists and turns, this 161 episode keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end and you’re sure to need a conspiracy connection board to keep all of the plot lines straight.
Spells from Hell by WmW/Silke Tara Flats & Background by Leni Lee; Concept, Writer, Producer: Sarah Wang; Concept & Storyboard: Maria Li; Editor: David Lee, Quinn Sosna-Spear
A part of the Webtoon Greenlight program from last year, I was eager to see this Webtoon finally come to life beyond the three episodes. While still in its infancy, only 6 episodes down with 3 under Fast Pass, this was easily one of my favorite of the lot when it came to the Greenlight series. With a story based on the East Asian nine-tailed fox spirit, Spells from Hell features the fox spirit, Scarlet, who suddenly appears in hard-working and practical college student James Chao’s room, forcing him to not only reckon with the existence of magic but also this intriguing new person in his life.
SubZero by Junepurr Editor: Paul Jun; Assistants: Yingcha, Whalesharkollie, Tanvikun
Arranged marriages? Enemies to lovers? People who can turn into literal dragons? Sign me up. I’ve been following SubZero since its Discovery days and despite sometimes feeling pretty frustrated by the story, I am addicted to finding out the ending. Princess Clove has agreed to marry Prince Kyro of a rival dragon clan after years of bloodshed between the two peoples and what starts as a begrudging peace accord obviously develops into something so much more. Come for the dragons and angst, stay for the art and plot twists. This series is currently on hiatus after completing its first season at 91 episodes.
Suitor Armor by Purpah Editor: Eunice Vaik; Color Assistant: KeylligraphyInk
I’ll admit I’m a recent convert to Suitor Armor. After being recommended the Webtoon a dozen times by a friend, I finally started reading it and now I’m hooked. It tells the story of a lady-in-waiting named Lucia who ends up developing a crush on an animated suit of armor named Modeus. Yes, Modeus is literally an empty suit of armor, and yet the ship works. There is obviously more beneath the surface, and with only 25 episodes published so far (with 3 under Fast Pass), we’re all poised to learn about Lucia and Modeus together!
The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh with art by SilvesterVitale Writer/Producer: Stephen Lamm; Editor: David S. Lee; Art Asisstant: Jean; Storyboard: Maria Li; Inks: Madeline C.B.; Backgrounds: ITSURYUU
Based on the book series of the same name (which is a reimagining of 1001 Nights), the concept is a familiar one. Shahrzad is the new bride to Khalid, the Caliph, who has killed all of his previous brides after just one night of marriage. In order to stave off the Caliph’s killing spree, she spends her night telling him stories that lead to inevitable cliffhangers that ultimately keep her alive. An expansive story, Ahdieh takes the classic story and stretches the narrative out and fills in the gaps between the frame narrative in an addictive read. This series is currently on hiatus after completing its first season at 67 episodes.
Your Throne by SAM Additional Assistance: DD, Bakbak, Ssal, Sewoo, Delico, Ma-Bongchu
Does this technically fall under romance? Maybe not. Romance is hardly the main topic in the dramatic world of Your Throne, and yet it serves as a main catalyst to some of the most impactful events of the story. Set in a Game of Thrones esque world of backstabbing and subterfuge, the Lady Medea Solon is eager to reclaim her position beside the Crown Prince Eros. But when her plans go awry and a magical spell it put on her and her rival, Psyche Callista, both must wrestle with new changes and struggle to survive in their cutthroat world. The series currently has 54 published episodes, with 5 locked under Fast Pass.
It’s Saturday once again, and that must mean it’s time for Weekend Reading 49!
As usual, we’re holing up in Stately Beat Manor to spend the weekend lost in a good book. What will you be reading this week? Let The Beat know in the comment section or on social media @comicsbeat!
AVERY KAPLAN: Thanks to a trip to Torpedo Comics inspired by last weekend’sPokémon GO Kanto Tour event, I’ve not got 3 issues of the current Power Pack run to read by Ryan North, Nico Leon, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Travis Lanham. And as far as prose goes, I’ll be reading Mind of my Mind, the second novel in the Patternist series by Octavia E. Butler. The first book in the series, Wild Seed, was my introduction to Butler’s writing, and I subsequently took a detour into The Parable of the Sower, The Parable of the Talents, and Xenogenesis. However, now that I have Seed to Harvest, an edition collecting all four of the Patternist novels, I’m excited to read the next entry in the narrative that kindled my interest in one of the greatest favorite speculative fiction authors.
THERESE LACSON: With the coming release ofNetflix’s Shadow and Bone, I have been making my way through Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels. After finishing the first book in her series, Shadow and Bone, on audiobook. I’m excited to move on to the sequel Siege and Storm. Although it looks like the first season of the show will cover the first book, it also will include characters from Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. Bardugo has a richly descriptive prose and I’m excited to explore more of the world she’s created. Given that the Grishaverse has a plethora of books, a trilogy and two duologies, I’ll have plenty to keep me busy by the time April rolls around.
TAIMUR DAR: It’s the last weekend of Black History Month so I’d be remiss if I didn’t include some Dwayne McDuffie work for Shut in Theater duringFebruary, particularly with the Milestone relaunch news. Seems fitting then to check out some of Dwayne’s original Milestone works such as Hardware, Icon, and Static. And even though I already ready it within the last year, rereading Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool for good measure!
BILLY HENEHAN: I’m really getting my money’s worth from the Libby app (just kidding, it’s free). This weekend, I’m reading the final two volumes of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Guadiano and Cliff Rathburn. I don’t know why it took me so long to sit down and finally read these last two volumes of the series. I think the longer I put it off, the longer it felt like there was still new The Walking Dead out there for me to read.
DEAN SIMONS: This weekend I am reading Jack Katz’ stunning The First Kingdom (Titan Books) which reminds me of reading 1970s Fantasies (especially the Moorcock variety) but with immensely detailed artwork. Some might blanch at the cleavage and nudity but once you overlook that, you are reading a dense epic work of comics storytelling. Oh and i am also reading the Pokemon manga in celebration of Pokemon Day. It is a very fun aside.
Last September Nickelodeon announced a new live-action puppet series from Drew Massey and Mike Mitchell. Previously titled Brendar the Barbarian, now titled The Barbarian and the Troll, today Nickelodeon not only revealed the first trailer but announced that the show would premiere on Friday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
Check out the trailer and details below.
The quest is yet to come in Nickelodeon’s all-new live-action puppet comedy series, The Barbarian and the Troll (previously Brendar the Barbarian), premiering Friday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The series follows Evan, a bridge troll in search of adventure, and Brendar, a fierce female warrior on a quest to defeat the evil demon who has imprisoned her brother.
In the premiere of The Barbarian and the Troll, Evan the troll decides to burn his bridge and venture out into the world of Gothmoria for the first time to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a singer. He soon meets Brendar, who had been expelled from the Royal Order of Warrior Princesses and is now known as a “feared and revered” barbarian. After Evan convinces Brendar to bring him on her quest to vanquish the evil demon, they cross treacherous terrain to confront bizarre and magical creatures and encounter an eclectic puppet cast of wacky characters.
The series stars Spencer Grammer (Rick & Morty) as the voice of Brendar, Gothmoria’s most feared and revered warrior; and Drew Massey (Mutt & Stuff, Sid the Science Kid) as Evan, a bridge troll with a dream of becoming a singer. Joining Massey as puppeteers and voice talent are Colleen Smith, Allan Trautman, Sarah SarangOh, Nicolette Santino, Peggy Etra, James Murray and Jeny Cassady. The series also features the voice of comedian Gina Yashere.
The Barbarian and the Troll is co-created and executive produced by Mike Mitchell (Trolls, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part) and Massey. Mitchell also serves as the show’s primary director. Production of The Barbarian and the Troll for Nickelodeon is overseen by Zack Olin, Senior Vice President, Live Action; and Shauna Phelan, Senior Vice President, Live-Action Scripted Content.
After unveiling the upcoming Bad Batch Wrecker action figure earlier this week, Hasbro has once again revealed some new Star Wars action figures this time from the Vintage Collection line. Fans of the The Mandalorian will be delighted to hear that former bounty hunter turned nurse droid IG-11 is getting another figure. Sadly no Baby Yoda Grogu included. Meanwhile hands down the most suave character in the Star Wars universe Lando Calrissian (played by Billy Dee Williams) is also getting the Vintage Collection figure treatment. Naturally, Lando is sporting his look with stylish cape as he appeared in The Empire Strikes Back.
Check out the images and details below and be sure to keep an eye out for these figures when they hit shelves this fall.
STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION 3.75-INCH LANDO CALRISSIAN Figure
(HASBRO/Age 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $12.99/Available: Fall 2021)
Featuring premium detail and design across multiple points of articulation, original Kenner branding, and inspired by STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, this collectible STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION 3.75-INCH LANDO CALRISSIAN Figure makes a great gift for STAR WARS fans and collectors. Highly articulated with fully poseable head, arms, and legs, this 3.75-inch-scale figure can be displayed in action figure and vehicle collections. Includes figure and accessory. Available at most major retailers.
STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION 3.75-INCH IG-11 Figure
(HASBRO/Age 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $12.99/Available: Fall 2021)
Featuring premium detail and design across multiple points of articulation, original Kenner branding, and inspired THE MANDALORIAN live-action series on Disney+, this collectible STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION 3.75-INCH IG-11 Figure makes a great gift for STAR WARS fans and collectors. Highly articulated with fully poseable head, arms, and legs, this 3.75-inch-scale figure can be displayed in action figure and vehicle collections. Includes figure and 2 accessories. Available at most major retailers.
Only a week after the last Nintendo Direct, one of the company’s most important partners aired a presentation of its own with some big announcements. The first Pokémon Direct of 2021 shared additional information about New Pokémon Snap, which arrives in April, as well as the reveal of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes and what very much looks like the first open-world Pokémon. Here’s everything we learned from the 2021 Pokémon Direct.
Fans have a lot of choices in today’s media landscape. Too many choices, honestly. The streaming wars are upon us, with Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, the old giants, continuing to triumph, and newer services like Disney+ coming to meet their challenge. Then you have services like HBO Max, that make you wonder, “Is it HBO, or is it HBO Max?” CBS All Access is rebranding to Paramount+ on March 4th, because a streaming service dedicated to the oldest viewer per capita network just made sense. Peacock exists. Apple TV+ is starting to get quite the acclaim with shows like Ted Lasso and Dickinson — nd personally, I love their sci-fi show For All Mankind, too.
But piracy is still massively active during these days, with shows like The Mandalorian, The Boys, and Westworld claiming the top three spots for 2020, according to TorrentFreak. It’ll be interesting to see what 2021’s top three will be—I’m guessing Marvel will dominate: WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki are all sure to captivate fans, but will they be willing to pay the Disney+ price tag? Some fans I know say yes, and some will say hell no, preferring to pirate every piece of media they view, not wanting to give money to controversial corporations like Amazon, Disney, and Apple.
How will these streaming wars end? Netflix learned the hard way that overloading on content can mean un-renewing shows, making them gone too soon — RIP, GLOW and several others. We’ll see if Amazon’s $250 million The Lord of the Rings gamble pays off, or HBO’s gradual transition to HBO Max. Will CBS All Access being renamed Paramount+ actually get more eyeballs? Paramount is still a movie studio, but it’s mostly known in popular culture for Star Trek, which ViacomCBS appears to be banking on (see below).
Disney+, which earned the most eyes for a show this January with WandaVision, appears to be on pace to eventually be in the same ring with Netflix and Amazon Prime. Netflix still dominated how many hours on average people were on a streaming platform, but that Disney+ claimed the top spot for the show that was watched the most is nothing to sneeze at.
Premium services are getting absorbed, too; Cinemax’s library began the transition to become HBO Max’s as of June 2020. Nearly every premium service has become an add-on to streamers like Amazon, Hulu, and Apple. You can add Starz, Showtime, and Epix (and much much more) for an added fee for various amounts of money — essentially, their libraries have become a part of the pre-existing streaming services.
This boom is similar to the “prestige TV” boom — which to some extent, is still going on. It was a boom that started with AMC sinking their teeth into the HBO market with Mad Men and Breaking Bad. It opened the floodgates for many, many basic cable networks and premium services, which formerly were spaces for reruns and movies, to become spaces for shows like The Americans (FX) and Homeland (Showtime).
Each streaming service also has its own vibe, so to speak. CBS All Access/Paramount+ has become the place for Trek; HBO Max is the space for edgy dramas and fantastic movies (much like its predecessor, HBO); Peacock has The Office; Netflix has all the different types of shows you could imagine (which they like to cancel).
But if you were only allowed to take one of the streaming services with you to a deserted island, which one would it be? I think mine would be HBO Max — if only for all of the TCM, The Criterion Collection, The West Wing, and Westworld. But, oof, leaving behind Apple might be hard for me. And if you had to keep one streaming service from this era to carry into the next era of television, whatever that may be, which one would you spare? Because as we’ve seen, nothing lasts forever in the media landscape. Remember Blockbuster?
The Beat’s Gregory Paul Silber has been accused of having a bit of an… obsessive personality. Each week in Silber Linings, he takes a humorous look at the weirdest, funniest, and most obscure bits of comics and pop culture that he can’t get out of his head.
I love Swamp Thing, especially Saga of the Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore, drawn primarily by Steve Bissette and John Totleben (with several guest artists throughout), colored by Tatjana Wood, and lettered by John Costanza. It’s one of my favorite Big 2 runs, right up there with Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Daredevil or Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s Animal Man. Issue after issue is a stunning achievement, balancing horror, humor, and heart for a transcendent epic from 1984-1987.
That’s why today, we’re talking about that time Swamp Thing had sex.
Waitwaitwait hear me out: 1985’s Swamp Thing #34, “Rite of Spring,” is sincerely one of the most beautiful, poetic comic book issues of all time. That’s not a joke, and I don’t mean it in a creepy or gross way either.
It’s important to contextualize Swamp Thing’s (Alec Holland) relationship with his long-running love interest, Abigail Arcane. Abby had been a prominent figure in Swamp Thing comics since her first appearance in 1973 by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson (the duo who also created ol’ Swampy himself). By 1985, Moore had been seeding (pun intended) Alec and Abby’s romance for over a year throughout his run, not to mention the groundwork laid by previous writers like Wein, Gerry Conway, and David Michelinie.
“Rite of Spring” finds Abby at a pivotal moment of her life. Her husband, Matt Cable, had just died following a series of horrifying misadventures (Swamp Thing is primarily a horror title after all). Abby and Matt’s relationship had been turbulent, to put it mildly, as Matt succumbed to madness and developed frightening, abusive powers. “She felt an ache, but not of mourning,” the narration reads. “She knew who she wanted to be with.”
Who else but the sexiest swamp stud in Louisiana? Swamp Thing may not be my type—the kind of women I’m attracted to, at minimum, are made of human flesh rather than sentient plant matter—but within the context of a series about a sweet yet scary-looking plant elemental who uses his powers to fight evil monsters, save innocents, and advocate for environmentalism, it’s easy to see why an old friend of Swampy’s might start to catch feelings. Besides, what’s more romantic than a boyfriend who could grow fresh flowers out of his body just for you?
The creative team does an excellent job making the Beauty and the Beast-like love story plausible, but as Abby confesses to Alec that she’s had feelings for him, the text acknowledges the inherent absurdity of their romance. “I mean, it’s just so ridiculous, right? It’s impossible, it’s bizarre, it probably isn’t even legal…” Abby says tearfully. “Oh hell. There’s something wrong with me. I build things up in my mind… I read things into the way you look at me, kid myself that maybe you feel the same as I do, but… you’re a plant, for God’s sake! Just saying it out loud, I mean, it’s just so funny! How could you love me?”
“Deeply… silently… and… for too many… years,” Swamp Thing answers, Casanova that he is.
There’s no question that what follows is essentially a sex scene, but upon first glance, one wouldn’t recognize it as anything so literal. In fact, most questions about how the mechanics of sex between a human woman and plant man would work are left blessedly ambiguous. Even Abby may not have been fully aware of how they “did it,” as their foreplay starts with Swamp Thing offering her a gourd, imbued with mysterious psychedelic properties, that he grew from his chest. After eating it, she didn’t just have sex. She had the wildest trip of her life.
From there, Bissette and Totleben’s art becomes increasingly abstract, complimented by Moore’s lyrical prose poetry and Costanza’s inventive blending of the two lovers’ caption boxes. In a breathtaking sequence, the pages shift from standard horizontal orientation to vertical, forcing the reader to experience the story in an unusual manner that reflects Abby’s transforming consciousness. The next several pages are so beautifully strange that it’s impossible to describe precisely what happens in them.
It’s a surreal experience that needs to be had firsthand, in its entirety. As you’re reading, please don’t focus so much on trying to make sense of Moore’s words that you overlook what Bissette and Totleben say through their art. It deserves to be seen and studied like the expressionist masterpiece that it is.
I should add that I’m constantly disappointed by how rarely Tatjana Wood is mentioned in the conversation about great colorists, because in this issue and throughout the run (as well as in other Bronze Age gems like Steve Gerber and Gene Colan‘s Howard the Duck), she gifts the series with a unique visual identity that pushed the limits of what could be accomplished with the limited palette offered to colorists before the advent of digital coloring. Recent editions of Saga of the Swamp Thing have been recolored, so if you can, please avoid those in favor of older printings with Wood’s original colors. Her palette is just as impressive as ever, and these comics deserve to be read with all the magic they had in the 1980s.
If you’re still weirded out—and hey, I get it—keep in mind that “Rite of Spring” reads more like the piece of psychedelic pop art that it is than as a comic book about monster-fucking (even if that is literally what happens). The “sex” itself is less about that physical act than it is Abby’s expanding consciousness. Even Guillermo Del Toro‘s The Shape of Water presented its woman-on-monster sex more explicitly, and that’s a movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Abby is not just making love to Alec Holland/Swamp Thing; she’s communing with the natural world that he represents. Her journey, as she develops a closer relationship with the plants and animals around her, is certainly erotic (perhaps the most telling image of this sequence is of Abby straddling the globe), but it’s not strictly sexual. It’s spiritual.
Silber Linings is a humor column, and I realize how incongruously heady this may sound for a DC comic about a lady who has sex with a swamp man. Yet the creators knew exactly what they were doing. Moore’s reputation as a mad-genius magician who writes “dark” and “literary” comics rich in theme and political complexity often undercuts his keen grasp of how to write a fundamentally entertaining story, with a sense of humor to boot. As Abby comes down from her trip and gets dressed, she shares a tender moment with Alec that reads like Moore and company welcoming us back to a more familiar world.
“Does this… uh… does this mean we’re going out?” she asks. Swamp Thing answers with a passionate kiss.
Capital-R romance comics have a rich and important history, although I haven’t read many myself. I’m not drawn to romance, as a genre, the same way that I gravitate towards other genres that Swamp Thing tends to occupy like horror and superheroes. I don’t know if romance fans would place “Rite of Spring” in the canon of great romance comics. All I know is that it’s the most romantic comic I’ve ever read.
Welcome to The Beat’s crowdfunding round-up: a collection of some of our favorite campaigns from the week including one-shots, on-goings, anthologies and everything in-between. This week, we’re checking out sever debut series, including the boy-and-dinosaur story of Nil, the dark fantasy world of The Nekros, and more.
Let’s get started!
Planet Comics – issue #2!
Creators: Jeff McClelland (writer), Andrea Schiavone (artist), Rafer Roberts, Mike Norton, Marissa Louse, Crank, Dani Grew, Larry Franks Goal: $3,000 End date: March 29, 2021 Goodies: Grab a PDF for $8, get the physical version for $12, or pledge more for back issues, variants, and more.
The retro sci-fi comics anthology returns for a big second issue!
Planet Comics is returning for more golden age sci-fi adventures. Paying homage to the original 1940s pulp magazine, this collection will continue a few storylines from the debut issue, as well as introduce a some new ones in a 40+ page, full-color comic. This time around, stories will follow a Kirby-esque adventure through a black hole, the continued The Old Man and the Sea of Love, and not one, but two stories each with their own unique good dogs.
But I’m A Cat Person – Master’s Edition complete boxset
Creators: Erin Ptah (author) Goal: $9,900 End date: March 26, 2021 Goodies: Get all three digital volumes digitally for $25, or get the physical version for $120 along with an exclusive min-print, digital wallpaper set, and more.
Broke queer millennials accidentally adopt a magical shapeshifting battle monster. Big beautiful omnibus edition of the full series!
But I’m a Cat Person is a familiar story – it follows two queer millennials, recently graduated, down on their luck and looking for work. They find a pet and the usual problems arise: it’s an immortal shapeshifting battle monster whose presence pulls its owners into a magical war against the rich and powerful. This campaign will bring all three volumes of the series to print, collecting 9 years of the acclaimed webcomic in nearly 1,000 (yes, one thousand) pages.
Creators: DC Burton (writer), EMax (artist), Gitizee (colorist) Goal: $1,200 End date: March 24, 2021 Goodies: The digital version is $5, the physical is $10, and higher tiers include prints in signed or metal varieties.
Clash of the Titans meets Alien in this epic tale of man vs. beast.
The Nekros is set in a dark fantasy world where – in most cases – the titular creatures are battled for survival and honor. For Mathias, though, it’s something more. His father was killed by the Nekros six years ago, and it’s that weight he carries that spurs him into learning more about the link between the gods he and his people worship and the demons that kill them. This first entry is nearing completion, and will be the first of a planned eight-part saga.
Creators: Aaron Sullivan (writer), Tadd Galusha (artist), Mikael Hankonen (colorist), DC Hopkins (letterer) Goal: $7,000 End date: March 26, 2021 Goodies: Grab the digital version for $5, go physical for $10, or pledge more for decals, enamel pins, and more.
The survivor of a decimated tribal nation battles his anger and grief as he integrates into modern society with his dinosaur companion in Nil.
It’s tough enough being a teen and figuring out how to navigate things like school. It’s much more difficult when you feel isolated and that your only real friend is an endling dinosaur with whom you have an empathic connection, and is also one of the last remnants of your culture. That’s life for Nil, the title protagonist of this upcoming series. Jump on board this first issue of Nil for 24-pages of full-color content, and the introduction to this story of anger, grief, and growing up.
Creators: Marcel Dupree (writer), Alti Firmansyah (artist) Goal: $4,800 End date: March 16, 2021 Goodies: Grab a digital version for $5, go physical for $10, or pledge more for additional comics, prints, and more.
Tech prodigy Marco Martinez creates a team of teen superheroes to prevent an apocalypse that they’re supposed to create.
Young Rebels is the next all-ages story of super-powered teens. It follows an over-ambitious boy genius who dreams of creating a viable means of time travel – and predictably ends up in a huge mess. It’s up to his new friends, an alien, a wizard, a gladiator, and a psychic, to help him and save the world. This debut issue will be 32-pages and fully colored. For a look at character bios and a preview, head over to the campaign page.
It’s here! After being announced over two years ago, we have got our first official look into the Grishaverse through the new teaser trailer of Shadow and Bone. Based on the first book in the Grishaverse, Shadow and Bone is helmed by show creator Eric Heisserer with author Leigh Bardugo as one of the executive producers on the project.
Heisserer is probably best known for being the writer for 2016’s Arrival. Bardugo played as an advisor for the series, as the creator of the Grishaverse, which is probably a relief for book loyalist who might be afraid the series could be misrepresented. Although much of this season looks like it will take place in the kingdom of Ravka — where the first book in the initial trilogy finds its setting — the series has also taken the opportunity to introduce characters from the Six of Crows duology, so we are likely to see Kerch as well.
In their panel during IGN Fan Fest, Heisserer and Bardugo explained that the Six of Crows arc in the story would be new and they would be pulling from flashbacks in the duology to fill in some of the gaps for where Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are in this timeline of the story.
For the cast, we have Jessie Mei Li as the protagonist Alina Starkov; Ben Barnes as General Kirigan aka The Darkling; Archie Renaux as Malyen Orestev; Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker; Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa; and Kit Young as Jesper Fahey.
Check out the official teaser trailer below:
Based on Leigh Bardugo’s worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone finds us in a war-torn world where lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov has just unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her country free. With the monstrous threat of the Shadow Fold looming, Alina is torn from everything she knows to train as part of an elite army of magical soldiers known as Grisha. But as she struggles to hone her power, she finds that allies and enemies can be one and the same and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. There are dangerous forces at play, including a crew of charismatic criminals, and it will take more than magic to survive. Shadow and Bone is a Netflix production from 21 Laps Entertainment, starring Jessie Mei Li (Alina Starkov), Archie Renaux (Malyen Oretsev), Freddy Carter (Kaz Brekker), Amita Suman (Inej), Kit Young (Jesper Fahey), and Ben Barnes (General Kirigan).
Shadow and Bone will be released on Netflix on April 23, 2021.
A Superman reboot written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and produced by J.J. Abrams under the Bad Robot label is currently in development, according to a report from Deadline.
Few details are currently available regarding the Superman reboot, which has Hannah Minghella serving as a producer.
Coates is currently attached to Wrong Answer, a drama directed by the very busyRyan Coogler (Black Panther). An accomplished, award-winning writer with a resume that includes several books and an a national correspondent position at The Atlantic, Marvel Comics fans may be most familiar with Coates through his stellar runs writing Black Panther and Captain America.
And while there is no news regarding possible casting for the Superman reboot, Deadline has previously reported that Henry Cavillhopes to return to the role. However, some are hoping the reboot is accompanied by a new actor in donning the cape as well as a new creative team.
Who do you hope to see in the role of Superman in the reboot? Just what is it about the robot in the logo that makes it so bad? And how many people are making the same uninspired lens flare joke at the same time? Let us know on social media @comicsbeat or in the comment section.
Today DC Comics released the digital edition of Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0, the expanded version of the comic that originally debuted at the Fandome event last year. Along with new story pages, the issue also features ads for the three forthcoming new Milestone Returns titles – Static, Icon & Rocket, and Hardware – that reveal their creative teams. The house ads also reveal that each series, announced as digital-first earlier this month, will be available same-day on the DC Universe Infinite service.
Check out the house ads featuring the newly-announced Milestone Returns creative teams, along with the descriptions for each series from DC Comics:
The new six-issue Static series will be written by Vita Ayala, with art by ChrisCross and Nikolas Draper-Ivey. Khary Randolph will provide covers for the series, which debuts in April.
In this monthly miniseries (20 pages per issue), bullied nerd Virgil is gifted with incredible electromagnetic powers in the wake of the Big Bang. Now he finds himself caught between an over-militarized police response to Black kids getting special abilities and some of those kids who are using those powers in dangerous and destructive ways. But when the bullies who terrorized him before the Big Bang show up with powers of their own, can Static be the hero that Dakota needs?
The new Icon & Rocket series, arriving in June, will be written by Reginald Hudlin & Leon Chills, with art by Doug Braithwaite and covers by Taurin Clarke.
What happens when superheroes actually make a difference? When Raquel Ervin broke into the home of a wealthy Black lawyer, she didn’t expect to learn that he was a nearly omnipotent alien, lost in despair of ever returning home—and he didn’t expect that she would inspire him to emerge from the shadows and become a force for change on the planet he’s trapped on. What starts out as a simple request to stop the drug trafficking in her neighborhood turns into a mission to eliminate the drug trade worldwide. However, this act of heroism has unexpected consequences, making the pair the two most wanted criminals in the world when actually stopping crime leads to the collapse of the global economy!
The third series, Hardware, will come from the creative team of Brandon Thomas, Denys Cowan, and Bill Sienkiewicz. Artist Mateus Mahanini will provide covers when the series arrives in August.
All his life, young prodigy Curtis Metcalf was told he was special, and that he would save the world. But it turns out that Alva Industries wanted his beautiful mind for something a lot less noble than that—and his technology has made him the fall guy for the tragedy of the Big Bang. But Curtis is smart enough to not go out like that—and smart enough to steal his inventions back from Alva and start the process of remaking the world his way.
The creative teams feature a mix of new talent and returning Milestone creators, signaling that the Milestone Returns initiative will be as much about pushing the imprint forward as celebrating its history. The decision to release each series same-day on DCU Infinite is also a bold one, and, along with today’s earlier news about the Batman/FortNite crossover also being available same-day on the service, is further incentive to drive new subscribers to the service.
The first issue of the new, monthly six-issue Static miniseries arrives digitally and on DC Universe Infinite on Monday, April 12th.
One of the most highly anticipated sequels of 2021 is Coming 2 America, and just in time for the release, we spoke to Wesley Snipes about his debut as General Izzi!
Directed by Craig Brewer, Coming 2 America takes place decades after the original and introduces King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) not only to an elevated crown and new kingly responsibilities, but also a son, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), he never knew existed. This takes him back to New York City, but not before a run-in with General Izzi, the man whose sister, Imani (Vanessa Bell Calloway) was left at the almost altar by Prince Akeem, who fled their arranged marriage to follow his quest for true love.
Watch The Beat’s exclusive chat with Wesley Snipes and all things General Izzi, from wardrobe to choreography and collaboration with comedic icons and legends.