Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Category: comics

LONG RAIN – A Study of Mood In Art

You need to buy LONG RAIN by Artyom Topilin – BUY IT NOW

This one-shot comic is an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story, and the art in it is delicious. You get a sense of location instantly, which is perfect because it’s set on a planet that hasn’t stopped raining ever, and the astronauts [?] wandering about looking for salvation are starting to show mental fatigue. It doesn’t help that there are weird flower things in the ground that seem, well, they seem about as deadly and certain as time itself.

Just looking at the cover above, you can see the style and tone being laid out. My main complaint is that this is digital, and I want to own this as a beautiful hardcover in my hands.

The opening panel sets up everything by showing us that nothing is what we would think of as normal, the colours are close, but just off. The red shows us danger, but it’s obscured, it’s maybe not clear and present danger, it’s just the natural danger that lurks for us all. We can either chase it, or we can hide from it. But it’ll always be there.

This is a comic that needs you to think deeply, and reflect even deeper, and come to your own conclusions.

If anyone buys it, I’d love to hear your take on anything within its pages. It’s certainly a personal fave for me already, and it’s nice to pay a little money directly into a creator’s pocket.

SHE – Simone Guglielmini Pin Up

Simone Guglielmini: Noir Master

I’ve loved Simone’s work for longer than I can remember. He makes some of the most beautiful and haunting crime comics. I reached out to Simone because he’s a mate, but I wasn’t sure if he’d have the time to contribute, or the desire considering the sci fi bent of this story. Thankfully, he saw the crime angle of this bounty hunter tale and steered heavily into that skid.

You know Simone’s working on something when it’s beautiful and deadly at the same time. His figures and composition are always A+, and I love his design flair here of the falling body down the page. This is as much a poster and a cover as it is a pin up. It’s beyond gorgeous.

This original piece of art will be available for purchase through the Kickstarter for She this week before the campaign ends!

If you or a friend need this art, or just to see it within the oversized hardcover comic it’s assisting, make sure you don’t miss this link below, we are in our final days:

SHE: AT THE TOWER OF ALL THAT IS KNOWN on Kickstarter NOW!

SHE – Sami Kivela Pin Up

Sami Kivela: Art Beast

I mean, he’s just so damn good at *everything*

Sami’s pin up will appear in the SHE HC, on Kickstarter right now!

Sami has been someone I’ve been making comics with for over half a decade. We’ve put out many stories together over the years, and Sami also has a habit of doing me the honour of seeing other characters come to life through his lens.

He’s been insanely busy of late – illustrating ABBOTT at Boom, and MACHINE GUN WIZARDS at Dark Horse and UNDONE BY BLOOD at AfterShock – but he’s such a capital B Bloke, he still found time for this, and I’m so insanely glad he did.

The colours are the first thing that pop out on this pin up, that space sizzle is gorgeous. Then I look to She, and Sami has given her mystery and introspection and a sense of power against the unknown endless before her. Shoulders up, leaning forward, not caring – yep, that’s our bounty hunter.

Sami will always be one of my favourite modern artists of all time, and this piece is just another reminder of the power of comics collaboration, and friendship, and why so many of us make comics.

If you or a friend want to see this pin up in its final state within a gorgeous oversized hardcover comic, clickn the link below and back us on Kickstarter before the week is over:

SHE: AT THE TOWER OF ALL THAT IS KNOWN on Kickstarter, Final Days!

SHE – Alfie Gallagher Pin Up

Alfie Gallagher: so damn fine.

Alfie’s pin up goes up for sale on the SHE Kickstarter campaign soon – be ready!

I love Alfie’s work. Ever since we made EIR together, I’ve wanted to work with him again. And again. His art always comes out so expressive, so fluid, like there’s a real world busy living behind every page he inks. This pin up makes me smile because he’s found the character of She so well in there, and he’s given her motion and location and life.

The way he brings design into things – that sun behind her head – always makes me smile.

This week, the inks for this piece will be available on the Kickstarter page. If you’re a backer, you’ll get an email when the Update goes live, and you can get this piece of art for your home and make me and Alfie happy comic making people.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, or you know a friend who needs more gorgeous oversized hardcover sci fi bounty hunting comics in their life, hit the link:

SHE: AT THE TOWER OF ALL THAT IS KNOWN, on Kickstarter for One Last Week

SHE – Louie Joyce Pin Up

Asked Louie Joyce for a pin up and instead he delivers this face-melting masterpiece.

Just one reason Louie Joyce is an absolute boss, a great mate, and a titan of Australian art. Go scope his entire brain of art on his site!

SHE is a comic series from Chris Panda and myself that’s a sci fi espionage smash-and-grab about an intergalactic bounty hunter. It’s being published by ComixTribe and is running a Kickstarter to get the printing presses fired up – check it out here!

Alongside offering this die-cut hardcover graphic novella, we’re putting some extra special stuff in and this Louie Joyce pin up is a crucial part of that. You can get it as a metallic print in the Bounty Bundle pledge tier, but cruise along and see what’s right for you!

CLICK HERE TO BROWSE THE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN FOR SHE!

I want to take a moment to bask in the glow of Louie’s spectacular work here. The action and motion at play is so awesome, and is so well conveyed through the diagonal composition. The fact She is cutting left across the page, going against the grain, rushing into the action, is completely on point for who she is.

And those colours. The foreground/background balance is wizard level. I always love seeing Louie Joyce artwork, but there’s an extra kick when it’s in league with a project I’m creating.

SHE Live on Kickstarter! Get your sci fi hardcover now! 🚀

SHE: At The Tower Of All That Is Known

My latest comic is a collaboration with Chris Panda, and is it now live on Kickstarter – CLICK HERE TO GO SCOPE IT OUT!

This sci fi espionage comic is about She, an intergalactic bounty hunter who’s sent on a wild mission that becomes very personal, very quickly. If you’re here, and you’ve dug my stuff before, then this book is for you. If you hated my previous stuff, this is nothing like it, this is totally fresh, so it’s definitely for you! :]

This comic is completely done, which is why we’ve spent time getting it ready to print, and as such Tyler James at ComixTribe has organised something special: this will be an oversized hardcover, with a die cut cover. This means it’s bigger than your average comic, and the cover has a hole in it where overlays and art will sit, and the effect is so damn gorgeous.


There are a variety of pledge tiers, but I think if you’re getting in on day one you’ll want to scope out some of the Collector Tiers – where you can get your hands on extra swag, prints, and such, although our one-of-a-kind premiur tier already sold, sorry.

But there’s also a Lego Minifig of She. I’ll post details later, no time to sleep on this now.

This is not a drill. Go back SHE on Kickstarter now and let indie comics know they’re still alive in 2020

I’m really excited about this comic succeeding, so I hope you’ll join us for the ride. If you’re so inspired, please share the link with people you think would dig it, or on any social media places where you push out the good word!

Click here to go see She, and let’s make some great creator owned comics!

#sheiscoming

Thinking About Miller’s Composition on Daredevil

Annotations on a page from Daredevil Vol. 1 #179 by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson

I’m always trying tot hink about comics. When you make comics, you find yourself constantly trying to figure out how to make the magic happen. Not just how to make it happen, or anything happen, how to make the magic happen.

I find this works best when I just leave my brain powered on, eyes open, and seeing/thinking about the world. Which is why I found myself staring at this page from Frank Miller’s first run on Daredevil and just seeing the simple beauty of the layout/composition.

To best tap this knowledge into my brain, I quickly wrote about it, as seen above. I thought about the jagged composition, and what it meant for the scene, and for the characters. It’s not too intricately thought out, just a depth charge to get your brain spinning, and to hopefully make you appreciate comics, or get inspired to make comics, or just go dig out your old floppies and have an afternoon with them.

Or in my case, maybe all three.

I try to think about comics a lot.

You can support me on Patreon where I store a bunch of this stuff.

Or you can sub to my newsletter, THE TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE, where I often turn my brain inside out and shake loose this kind of semi-helpful detritus.

May it find you well.

Top 10 of the Decade 2010-2019 – Comics

It’s been an awesome decade in many respects, so I wanted to look back and see some of the stuff I’ve really enjoyed the most. As such, here’s a post of my thoughts and lists of some top times I had imbibing some content that gave me inspiration and joy.

May it find you the same, or remind me of that which you already got.

The following is very much in absolutely no order, I just couldn’t :]

Comics:

It’s been a high quality decade for reading comics, and quite the comic reading journey for myself, so here are the highlights – may they provide you with something new to add to your wish list.

In 2010, I was reading a lot of comics for two reasons. I was writing for The Weekly Crisis, and later for CBR, and about to write a book about Daredevil for Sequart, so I was reading with an eye for extrapolating analysis. Around this time, I was also writing a whole mess of scripts that were going nowhere, and I was reading comics with an eye to imbibe, digest, and internalise in a way that would make me a better writer.

It’s a decade later, and I’m still reading comics to better understand them and as such myself and the place I occupy in making them, but just last month I wrote two critical/analytical essays about comics, so I guess not a lot has changed.

I’m thankful to have had a decade where I’ve published my own comics [no, none appear on this list, that’s gauche] and I’m thankful to have been around to see so many amazing comics spring to life. My reading appears to have steered away from cape comics and into the indie, and I’ve no idea where I’ll venture as time rolls on, but I heavily vouch for every comic on this list.

So, in no particular order, and with a write up of whatever thoughts I blasted out when I thought it was pertinent, here…we…go…

HAWKEYE

I didn’t even plan to buy this comic when it launched. I have no specific reason for that decision at the time, I think I was just a little burnt out on Marvel books in general, and I just really don’t dig Clint Barton. At all. I still don’t, but that didn’t stop me loving this run for every single issue as it came out.

The level of craft and sheer awesome in this book still blows me away. If this was about Matt Murdock I’d probably hail it as one of the greatest comics of all time, as it is, about Barton, I rate it as one of the finest entries into the craft from this decade.

DEADLY CLASS

I loved this comic from the very first issue. I dig Rick Remender’s work, and I wanted this comic long before it launched. How exciting to then note how good it was, and continues to be. Though fair play, much of this is on Wes Craig’s shoulders as he brought the thunder with his art layout skills on each page.

A wild and violent ride, this comic is always an emotional truth bomb and that’s what I love the most about it.

KILL OR BE KILLED

I mean, maybe my #1 of this decade. Maybe the comic most personally designed just for my brain. Maybe the comic I’ll remember the most after another decade has gone.

This comic is also everything I want to make myself, so maybe there’s that. It’s 20 issues, a killer size, it’s experimental in some page layouts, but it’s also just crystal clear storytelling. It’s a weird violent crime comic with strange devil shenanigans. It’s beautiful and dark and so so damn good.

CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT

CRIMINAL might be the best overall collection of stories and pages from this decade, and I’ll choose THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT as the one present here because it’s just so dark and fantastic. This twist on Archie as if he’s living out a noir story is so much more than the high concept it might present as. This is an emotional journey, a haunting tale, and one that just makes you feel a whole mess of thoughts after the final page kicks you.

Okay, I’ll also add in BAD NIGHT just because I love this storyline, too. It’s the one that’s probably my favourite, even though TLOTI is most likely the one I’d identify as “The Best.”

THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS

Hoo boy, bleak. This comic is such a dark affair, and it’s so intricately put together. Stunning is another word, but jaw dropping is all I can really offer. The concept of this comic is that money is power, and power can be manifest. The people in this comic are horrible, all of them, and watching them stumble and stab in the dark is quite the tragedy.

ODY-C

I love the reach of this comic. The sheer audacity to take THE ODYSSEY and toss it into space, with a gender-flipped cast, and Christian Ward’s insane artwork. Everything about this comic hits me in the inspirational space where I want comics to do new things and be amazing.

UNCANNY X-FORCE

You might think this is another X-book, but it’s not, no, not at its heart. This is a heartbreaking tale of toxic relationships, and second chances, and mental health. This is a cape book that steps above every combat trope and delivers true character exploration and growth. It’s a comic that got me to care about Deadpool, and Wolverine, and that’s not often a thing that occurs.

Raina Telgemeier – SISTERS

Raina Telgemeier basically took over comics this decade, but I had to pick just one of her masterpieces for my list and I went with my instant reaction – SISTERS. This cross-country road trip about family and a changing future is beautiful, and it uses the comic form well, and it’s the one that’s stuck with me the longest.

But, honestly, go buy every single one of her books, and just enjoy yourself and the future of comics.

PARKER books

Darwyn Cooke did something special with these books. Adapting Richard Stark’s pulp paperbacks into small graphic novels that were gorgeous and still packed their punch. These 4 hardcovers will always be something I want to return to.

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK

I often think about this comic. An insanely talented level up from nascent Matthew Rosenberg and a wild intro to Tyler Boss, this comic looks like it oozes style, but really it’s craft. This crime comic about some kids and a bank is such a love letter to the things you can do in comics and I wish more books were this smart, I wish more books aimed this high, and I wish more books played with the form like this one.

Rosenberg and Boss have become instant Must Buy creators and I eagerly await their next collaboration at Image Comics.

SINK

This indie sensation from mates Alex Cormack and John Lees makes me smile with every issue I read. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the content is horrific, but the fact a comic this good is being made by two mates who are blowing up, at ComixTribe, a publisher I love, fills me with hope for the medium and all our places in it.

SINK is a horror comic, and it doesn’t skimp on the horrific, and it’s also a great structural lesson as they make it a series of one-shots, with a two-parter played to maximum effect, and I’m constantly in awe. If you haven’t sampled this comic, you really need to get onto it.

PAPER GIRLS

Enjoyed this from first issue to the last. I trade waited this, and mostly wish I hadn’t. The characters were all so well written I’d have preferred to spend time with them monthly instead of having huge gaps away from them.

GREEN WAKE

I really dug this weird downbeat horror comic from Riley Rossmo and Kurtis J. Wiebe. It was grim and ugly in the most beautiful ways, and I got excited before it was released and got even more excited when it was as good as I wanted it to be. Exactly the kind of comic that felt like it was created specifically for me and my tastes.

Also doesn’t hurt that it formed and built a lifelong friendship between me and Kurtis.

ELEKTRA

This particular Volume, from Mike del Mundo and W. Haden Blackman is a perfect encapsulation of what I want from an Elektra comic, and what I dig about 12 issue maxiseries. Here, Elektra is unpacked and used in a really character driven way, through some insane plot, and by the end of it all she’s been more fully fleshed out.

This book had the very best covers, and is an instant modern Big Two classic from me.

HILDA books

I can’t remember how I got onto these, but I’m so glad I did. I devoured the first 3, and then the Netflix show got announced, and I got excited for that, too. This comic is pure kids’ comic energy! It’s fun and short and well illustrated. This should be a perennial gift to any child in your life whenever you get invited to a friend’s kid’s party.

THE UNDERWATER WELDER

This comic is wild and emotional and like a real piece of literature, if you can believe it, COMICS: BIFF, POW, CHIN STROKE, HRMMMM.

This is like The Twilight Zone in all the right ways and it cemented Jeff Lemire as a writer in my mind I wanted to study and think deeply about and learn how to appreciate.

THOR

Jason Aaron’s epic multi-year run, with many artists, has been a truly monumental achievement. I’ve kept up in trades, and haven’t finished it all yet, but just from what I know he’s managed so far, this is an evergreen example of a superhero comic/story done right.

MONSTRO MECHANICA

This Da Vinci centred comic featuring a killer female partner in Isabel, and a really cool robot, is just the right balance of history, and action, and character work I love. Chris Evenhuis’ art is perfect, and Paul Allor knows exactly how to plot and pace things to bring out the best on the page.

LOCKE & KEY

Not only a genuinely scary horror comic, also a masterclass of form. Between Gabriel Rodriguez’ steam cleaned art to Joe Hill’s beautiful characterisation, this comic is the kind of thing you can recommend to anyone new to comics and who digs a bit of genre malarkey.

SCALPED

Crime comic on the Indian Reservation. So well done, so much heart, so much breaking of that heart, near about perfection, and a fine example of what Vertigo Comics always did right.

CLUE

This superb take on the old property from Nelson Daniel and Paul Allor was exactly what I wanted and never realised. It’s so well structured, deliciously carving out space for every character, and the whole conclusion has stuck with me ever since.

CASANOVA

I just love this comic. It’s 100% my jam. Uberweird spy-fu stuff, constantly trying to utilise the comic form and page, and make readers think.

THE CAPE

Holy hell this miniseries hit me like if someone dropped a bear on me. Read the comic and you’ll understand the concept. Based on a short story by Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella took it further, and made better, and I’ll forever want to push this into the hands of others.

TIGER LAWYER

I still think about Ryan Ferrier’s anthropomorphic crime comic he made with Matt McCray, Vic Malhotra, and Adam Metcalfe. It’s all I ever wanted, and pushed me to making my own Deer Editor. In a perfect world, both comics went for very long runs, crossed over, and spawned more anthropomorphic working class heroes.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF D.B. COOPER

An alternative history comic from Brian Churilla that’s still pinging around in my head years later. It’s fun, and gorgeous, and completely and totally insane. Everything certain good comics should be.

SOUTHERN BASTARDS

Come for the American Football backdrop, stay for the crime and nasties, and fill your guts with the Southern BBQ recipes.

STUMPTOWN

This one billed itself as The Rockford Files, but now, and a woman, and a comic. It is, indeed, all of those things, and it is those things perfectly.

THE VISION

Taking a C-List character from the bench and putting them into a funky genre choice – suburban horror, of a kind – and dialing it up to 11. The result was an astounding success.

CEMETERY BEACH

An 8 issue chase/action comic. It really shouldn’t work, but every issue pulled me in further.

HEATHEN

Really stunning self-described Lesbian Viking comic, and it’s so well illustrated, and paced, and it has me thoroughly intrigued and engaged.

SAGA

Some see this as the #1 thing, some see it as the cliche choice that’s okay but not amazing, and some hate it. YMMV, but personally, overall, I think this comic is an absolute bruiser. It hits, and it hits you harder than nearly anything else out there. When BKV comes gunning for my tear ducts, he comes with buckets. After all of the highest highs, I will follow this comic anywhere until it wraps its run.

BLACK MIRROR

Scott Snyder has done some great work with Batman, but my heart always comes back to his debut. This story in Detective Comics, with Jock and Francesco Francavilla, was very much a detective story, with some huge fantastical elements, and it hit that right tone of street level and nasty which I usually dig a little more. Dick Grayson as Batman was superb, and the storyline with Jim Gordon was so well executed. This was a promising debut from someone who just kept smashing it out at DC for the next decade.

Sharing Scripts

I still remember when I started writing comics, it wasn’t even that long ago, not like I started in the 80s or anything, but I remember trying to find examples of what they looked like and could not for the luife of me find many quality examples.

The best one I found showed me the structure, and also happened to be from my favourite writers run on my favourite character:

I printed that page out and had it over my desk since last decade. It helped me find my flow with structuring the page. at first, and you should always be looking for ways to improve your scripting. I know I’ve worked with two comic publishers who had specific formatting rules with scripts, and I stole ideas/layouts from them.

I also remember reading a script Greg Rucka graciously posted on his blog that helped me add the “NO COPY” tag into panels where there was no dialogue so you could consciously see it was my choice to have a silent panel and there wasn’t anything missing – kind of like the comic script equivalent of the “This page has been left blank intentionally.”

I’d hunt down scripts wherever I could find them, because they were showing me what I, a writer, should be putting into my scripts. Over time, I’ve amassed a decent library of scripts, and I share with a crew of mates when we find good ones, and so it’s a natural fit that I also want to share my own scripts.

Why not? Come see how bad I used to do it, and how my words still ended up as gorgeous panels. Come see, come learn.

As such, on my Patreon, where I share my writing and nerdery I recently posted the pdf of my script for FATHERHOOD.

This was my very first published comic; illustrated by Daniel Schneider, coloured by paulina Ganucheau, lettered by Brandon DeStefano, it was my debut onto the scene.

I still dig this comic, I feel like it holds up. It’s not perfect, it never was, nor have I ever been, but it’s a good one-shot. So I’ve shared the script with people on my Patreon in the hopes maybe it’ll help someone on there who is also writing their own stuff.

As an added incentive, I’ve also posted the entire pdf of the comic, so for $3 this month you’re getting a one-shot comic, the script for it, plus the other stuff: two flash fic pieces, one D&D random character history, and I wrote a little something about LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME, and I also have my best of the decade lists going up over the coming weeks.

I want people who step into my Patreon to feel like they’re getting enough, and I think this month is a banner month to dip a toe. All money from the Patreon helps me fund a lot of comic pitches with colours and letters and such. It also helps me allow myself guilt-free time to be creative, which I absolutely love and appreciate so much.

So, if you’ve ever been curious about this comic, smoething that’s been out of print from me on the con circuit for the last few years, here’s your chance.

JOIN ME AT MY PATREON AND SUPPORT MY CREATIVE WRITING LIFE

I thank you dearly for it!

The RKL List of #1 Issues

I was recently asked to pick my Top 10 Comics Issues with a #1 on them. It proved a difficult and very interesting task. It told me a lot about myself. [NOTE: between the time I initially wrote this and this publication date, I changed one element, s one comic came in, and one went out. Such is the fickle nature of lists.]

You can read a complete rundown of the overall vote/list I contributed to over at Shelfdust!

I had to really stew on this and consider a lot, so here is some of my thought process, followed by my Top 10, with a little commentary!

Daredevil/Matt Murdock is my favourite character, but I couldn’t find a #1 I cared about to go into this list. I own his first appearance, it’s signed by Stan Lee, it’s awesome, but it’s not exactly an amazing comic. It’s also nowhere near the first Daredevil I ever read, nor the reason I fell in love with him. But I couldn’t pick either Frank Miller runs on the main title because neither start with a #1. Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada relaunched well, but it wasn’t in my top 10. If the Lark/Brubaker issue was a #1 it would have been HIGH on this list, but it’s not.

Then I thought about old comics I loved, and while my childhood was spent in Spider-Man territory, and on to Venom, with some X-books amidst it all, it was rarely a #1 that led me there, Venom was in the Spidey titles, and whatever numbers they were up to, and Venom: Lethal Protector might have gotten a #1, but that’s not gonna make the list [though I would be interested to reread that mini, I still have all the issues here in my office]. Same with the X-books, they were floating in whatever numbers they were at – though did AGE OF APOCALYPSE have a #1 issue? Was it an Alpha? Does that count? Either way, close, but most likely just off the list.

I will say, BARTMAN #1 nearly made the list based on how many times I read and reread that issue [and mini] in my youth, but it just got squeezed off. As did THE WALKING DEAD #1, because it might have been instrumental in getting me back into comics as a young professional – shout out to my brother for buying me that trade for my birthday – it was the first trade and the end it landed on that made me a huge fan, not just the first issue.

So, without further ado, here’s my actual list, each served with a little reason why. Enjoy.

10. VAULT OF HORROR #1

This one was a reprint. It collects a variety of stories from other issues. But this was one of the very first comics bought for me, and it started a long-standing tradition of loving everything EC had once put out.

The stories themselves aren’t the absolute pinnacle of what EC could offer, but this issue is one I’ll remember forever because I remember where I was when it was bought, I still remember its cover, I remember reading it over and over throughout the years, and I know it was the first building block of my own comic collection and the place where I forged my own path as a lifelong comic reader.

10. VAULT OF HORROR #1

This one was a reprint. It collects a variety of stories from other issues. But this was one of the very first comics bought for me, and it started a long-standing tradition of loving everything EC had once put out.

The stories themselves aren’t the absolute pinnacle of what EC could offer, but this issue is one I’ll remember forever because I remember where I was when it was bought, I still remember its cover, I remember reading it over and over throughout the years, and I know it was the first building block of my own comic collection and the place where I forged my own path as a lifelong comic reader.

9. LOCKE & KEY #1

The effective hooks of a first issue are many: deliver characters we can connect with, make the premise simple and enticing, have knock out art, have 1-2 moments that grab our collars and shake, do it all with economical use of pages/scenes with no fat. Yep, it’s gotta be all thriller, no filler.

Gabriel Rodriguez & Joe Hill effortlessly bring us into this world they build through really strong character interactions and a hook that’ll catch you for days. It almost seems simple how well they did it, but don’t be fooled, this is arcane alchemy. And it was so good I bought the #1 issue again when IDW offered it with a full script in it. Absolute brain fuel.

8. THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST #1

This is the book that brought me all in on Danny Rand. I previously dug him for the loose Daredevil connection, and the killer yellow threads, but this run from David Aja and Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction locked me in for life, and the foundation is all laid here in this issue.

Danny Rand is a kung fu master, and there are few better equipped to show that than David Aja. The early double page splash of Iron Fist fly kicking some HYDRA goons in the rain is just stunning [and mirrors the same trick Brubaker pulled over in Daredevil with Michael Lark, and both times they are just as effective].

The whole mythos then gets a little tweak with the introduction of Orson Randall, and the stakes go up, and the tone is set. It’s part superhero story, part gritty 70s action flick, and all billionaire kung fu.

7. CASANOVA #1

I’ve come back to this issue a whole bunch of times, usually when I’m writing my own #1 issue. Maybe it’s because I love Matt Fraction’s writing, maybe it’s because Gabriel Ba builds a whole world in one go, or maybe it’s because this issue covers so much ground and uses so many comic skills that I find it inspiration fuel every time.

I do appreciate the cyclical nature of this issue, and the fourth wall breaking captions, and by the end I know Casanova Quinn, and his job, and his problem. And I know I will read this comic for the rest of my life, no matter what schedule it comes out on.

6. THE IRREDEEMABLE ANT-MAN #1

This is a book no one was asking for. Phil Hester and Robert Kirkman go about building a new super, which is hard enough yakka, but then they make him not very super, and very barely heroic. In fact, he’s a scumbag and by the end of this first issue you want to keep reading because you really want to see Eric O’Grady’s house of cards fall down around him.

And yet I still kind of love him, and have enjoyed reading him elsewhere, but that’s due to the way his character grows over time. In this debut, he’s absolute pond froth. But you just can’t look away at this seedy underside of what goes on behind the Marvel superheroics.

5. SLEEPER #1

Okay, now the list hits the real tour de forces. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips here start something truly special, and I think it’s their second collaboration, and it’s one of the first comics I bought when getting back into comics and it was the one that completely solidified my fall back into things.

This is a phenomenal debut: it gives us a character we can’t look away from, it surrounded them with other people who are interesting and will help/hinder him along the way, and it slowly unpacks why we should care for our character through the main complication of the text.

A spy comic by way of some superpowers, this is hard hitting action and a slew of characters you’ll follow to the grave and beyond. I’ve read this entire series more than once and it only gets better.

4. ELEKTRA #1

I love Elektra. Frank Miller introduced her, he told the best story with her, and he buried her. That really could have been her entire catalogue in story, but I’m glad it’s not because Mike del Mundo and W. Haden Blackmen did something special with her in this maxiseries, and it all starts in this character focused debut.

Elektra has history, so it’s unpacked here in gorgeous detail, and this builds context, which they then quickly move away from. This isn’t yet another story of Elektra circling her boyfriend Matt Murdock. This is her story they want to tell, and she will be the centre of it, so she thinks about the past right before moving forward and taking a bounty hunter style job to find someone. It’s all fairly simple in summary, but the way it’s told is so exceptionally fluid, and it’s juxtaposed against Bloody Lips, a new villain invested here who is truly fascinating.

And then we get the final splash of Elektra descending into Monster Island.

Yes, Elektra, our leading lady/ninja/bounty hunter jumps out of a plane and descends towards Monster Island in her wingsuit. Comics! When they’re this good, they’re better than anything else out there.

3. UNCANNY X-FORCE #1

I’ve not been an X-mark since the cartoon when I was in primary school, so I initially slept on this book. I don’t really follow Wolverine or Deadpool, I knew little of Fantomex, Archangel didn’t feel like anything that had been interesting in a while, and I dig Psylocke but not enough to buy into this comic. But then I started hearing things, so I dug back and got the first issue and didn’t stop pulling it monthly until the run ended.

This issue not only makes me care about an X-team, but it invested me in characters I had little connection with, and made me have to come back to see how it would all unfold over time. The wild adventure style storyline is certainly something a little different, and Jerome Opena elevates it beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. There are funny moments, but also some gore, and the cast selection shows itself to be genius for what is being set up. This run is an absolute titanic force of how good it can get when someone plays with the toys, and it all began in this debut issue I roundly ignored until I realised I had it wrong, and I’m so glad I realised my error.

2. KILL OR BE KILLED #1

Okay, maybe my favourite comic from the past decade, and something so incredibly my specific jam, and the pinnacle of what I’ve enjoyed about what happens when Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker collaborate.

This debut issue is a masterclass.

Brubaker carries us through this all with a resonating first person caption voice that’s captivating. We see Dylan try to kill himself, and then we rewind to build context, and then we shift again to showcase other pertinent information. It’s all dripped out at a delicious pace, but one that constantly gives us something else to add to the pile to astound us.

Phillips uses gutters to isolate characters, and guide the eye, and make us feel the emotional scope of this character and the world around him he feels so constantly attacked by. I’d love to map out how this issue gives up information, and how it does it. Putting something like this together, giving us so many character interactions alongside our leading man’s state of mind and motivation moving forward is a masterclass in how to give an audience everything they need without them ever seeing it coming or having a moment to feel bored.

Every comic writer should read this issue to see why we should never rest on our laurels. We can always do better.

1. Y: THE LAST MAN #1

This is the cliche choice, the one people are told to read, to seek out, to study. And there’s reason for that.

Yes, this issue is that good. You might not dig the story [I guess, I don’t know how, but that’s cool], but there’s little denying this issue does everything it should and does it with the most simplistic style. If you step back, this issue looks so easy, and doesn’t do much, but it really just pushes information into your brain through conversation and dialogue and that’s not easy to do without making anyone feel like a James Remar Exposition Machine.

Every character for the series gets time here, they all get moments that shine, and by the end of this issue you know them all and have cast your lot in with the right or the wrong ones. The hook in this issue isn’t that all the men on Earth die, that’s just doing what it says on the tin, the masterful magic here is in how much you love the characters and need to know what will become of them all.

In a world where most comics end their #1 issue by revealing the hook that’s already been in all of the solicit/prepress material, this comic goes another route. Knowing that Yorick wanted to propose to his girlfriend at the worst moment and got interrupted is the key to this series. Brian K Vaughan never sells this book as a post-apocalyptic tale of every man on Earth dying, bar one. He sells it as the story of the last boy on Earth becoming the last man on Earth. A great reminder than your story isn’t your hook, your hook is there to make people give your story their eyes. Then your job is to make them care.

Reread this issue, see how BKV does it, especially with the world’s finest work from Pia Guerra, and marvel at how he does it. One tip: he has 40 pages, so he’s got that working for him. Good luck to you!

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