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Posts Tagged "Comic Book News"

NEWS BULLETS

Presenting: Joss Whedon’s (not Christopher Nolan’s) Scarlet Witch.

AGE OF ULTRON. By the time this movie comes out, we’re going to know everything about it. That’s why I hate the internet. It’s also why I love it. Sam Jackson and Anthony Mackie, the only black Marvel superheroes to hit the screen, both say they don’t have much to do in the Avengers sequel. I can’t say I’ll miss Nick Fury, but I would have loved ot have seen some Falcon. Of course, if they gave Falcon his own film—or a TV show—that would more than make up for it. And there can’t be any doubt that A3 will have Black Panther, right?

QUEEN AND COUNTRY UPDATE. The movie adaptation of Greg Rucka’s brilliant black-and-white secret agent comic book finally has a director attached, Craig Vivieros (he hasn’t done much—don’t bother IMDBing him). Mostly, I’m writing this item to keep hope alive for the film. Ellen Page is attached to star as the lead, Agent Tara Chase of the Special Operations Section of Britain’s SIS.

SIXTH GUN 2. And speaking of Oni, their hit supernatural Western comic by Cullent Bunn and Brian Hurtt will get a prequel. Also, Bunn’s “Helheim” project with Joelle Jones will get a sequel. That one is about Vikings. Bunn apparently likes to do period pieces.

OCCUPY COMICS VOLUME ONE. A collection of the anthology series has hit the shelves. In addition to a new story by Amanda Palmer and David Mack (and a new cover by Mack as well), it features the work of too many legends to count, but I can name drop these: Mike “creator of the X-Men’s Doop” Allred, Alan “I created everything ever worth reading—just ask me” Moore, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joseph Infurnari (the team on the great indie comic, “The Bunker”), veteran author J.M. DeMatteis, Charlie “Walking Dead” Adlard, Joshua Dysart (writer of the criminally under-read and underrated Vertigo reboot of The Unknown Soldier), Art “Maus” Spiegelman, Ben “30 Days of Night” Templesmith, and many many others. If you like short stories told in comic book form, it’s a damn fine one to get. From Black Mask Press.

AMY ACKER: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Actually, girlfriend of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She’ll play a former lover of Agent Coulson, who she thinks is dead. Amy is another member of Joss Whedon’s traditional ensemble, having had a major role on Angel and appearing in his recent Shakespeare film (which was great, by the way).

FAST AND FURIOUS #7. Yes, I’ve seen every single FnF movie, several more than once, and I love them in all their loud, stupid fury. #7 will include Jason Statham and Kurt Russell in the cast. How can that be bad?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 WILL FEATURE SINISTER SIX. I hated the first movie. I really, really want to like the second one.

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MY RANT OF THE WEEK, AND OTHER NEWS

I’ve got my opening weekend tickets….Do you?

As usual, February was a slow month for comic sales.  But it was also an unusually slow one.  Batman #28 was the best-selling book of the month, and the only one to crack sales of 100k issues.  That’s bad.  And speaking of bad, DC’s horrendous Forever Evil miniseries was the second biggest seller of the month.  Wolverine #1—at least the sixth “first issue” of a comic with “Wolverine” in the title in the last three months—was the bestselling Marvel title, selling a meager 88k units.  The last Wolverine relaunch sold over 100k, as I recall.

Perhaps Marvel’s “slap the #1s on every six months” strategy is starting to show some wear?  It certainly hasn’t boosted sales of #2 issues.  Other examples: Fantastic Four #1 was the seventh best-selling book, underneath two issues (not #1s) of Superior Spider-Man, and Punisher #1 barely sold more than 50k—and both of these were exceptionally mediocre, if you’ll pardon the oxymoron.  And despite a huge media push including a feature in USA Today, Ms. Marvel #1 barely made it into the top 25.  Other disappointing #1s: X-Force (which sold far less than the two (TWO!) X-Force #1s that came out in the prior year), New Warriors, She-Hulk, Loki: Agent of Asgard, Winter Soldier…And the Walking Dead’s issues #121 and 122 both placed in the top 10.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Walking Dead is a damn fine book and most of the aforementioned books felt like rushed imitations of Hawkeye or, in the case of Loki and Winter Soldier, plain old cash grabs.

But there is a silver lining: Night of the Living Deadpool sold a paltry 3,000 copies.  Yes, you read that right: In the entire country, there are still 3,000 people who want to read that shit.

Part of the problem, of course, is that comic books aren’t really collectible anymore.  That ended with the huge print runs of the late 1990s, followed by tons of reprints, variant covers, etc.  The issues themselves don’t feel “special” anymore.  And by not having continuous numbering, Marvel is losing the obsessive-compulsive crowd of collectors, like me, who just feel like we have to read every issue of a series.  There may not be a lot of us, but right now the industry needs every reader it can grasp.

It’s important to note that paper sales don’t include digital sales, which may be the only way that comic books have a future (at least in their current form).

But really, branding is a big problem.  Remember when everyone thought comic books were all pulpy trash (because mostly they were pulpy trash)?  It took a Stan Lee to be the flag waver, the cheerleader, the spokesperson for the entire industry. Who do we have doing that now?  On a small level, we have people with strong internet presences and followings, like Kelley Sue DeConnick, but they tend to speak for their own art, not for the industry.  Who speaks for the comics as an art form?  No one, really.  At least not a nationally recognized person or group.

And that’s inexcusable.  Just about every blockbuster movie nowadays is based on a comic book.  Why aren’t comic books IN THOSE MOVIES?  Show Captain America reading an issue of Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.  Maybe at the end credits show the trade paperback that the movie was based on.  In press, suggest to movie fans where they can read more about the characters.  This isn’t rocket science, it’s basic cross marketing.

There’s my rant.  Now the news, and there’s lots of it:

AVENGERS CONFIDENTIAL: BLACK WIDOW AND PUNISHER.  No sooner do I advocate cross-promotion than I hear about a new DVD cartoon that shoehorns an Avengers reference into a feature about Black Widow and Punisher.

OTHER SALES NOTES.  As a side note, separate from my rant, I’m disappointed that more than 10,000 people didn’t buy The Bunker #1, a reprint of the digital comic, because it was terrific.  Other books you should be buying but aren’t: Mind MGT and Sex Criminals (both sold under 5k).
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED.  Soon DC will have as many JLA books as Marvel has Avengers books!  Another new one is arriving soon, helmed by Jeff Lemire and Mike McKone.  Lemire’s indie work (Sweet Tooth, e.g.) has always been strong but his commercial properties have been up and down.  He had a nice little run with Superboy for the “old 52” and his current Green Arrow is pretty good, but Justice League Dark never found its footing and Animal Man was ponderous.  Still, this series has potential and just the right mix of eclectic and established characters: Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Supergirl and Green Arrow balanced by Adam Strange, Animal Man, and Stargirl. Plus: He promises lots of Canada references.  So maybe this will be the Alpha Flight of the DCU?
iZOMBIE.  The CW TV show based on the brilliant Mike Allred Vertigo comic will not be an adaptation of the comic—it will vary dramatically from the source material, according to Rob Thomas (who also created Veronica Mars).  It’ll be more of a police procedural show than the slice-of-(undead) life character study that was the comic.  I still have high hopes.
STARLIGHT.  Finally, some good Mark Millar comics!  Millar is one of those guys who can get away with writing pure crap (Hit Girl) based on some of the stuff he’s done that’s been either fantastic popcorn comics (Ultimates, Kick Ass) or really cool gimmicks (Superior), and about every fourth series or so he strikes gold.  Starlight looks like it just might be that.  It appears to be a mix of a tribute to the old Flash Gordon strips mixed with an old man as  a protagonist (think: “I’m too old for this shit” meets Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days).  Oh, and art by Goran “Garth Ennis’ Punisher” Parlov doesn’t hurt a bit.
POWERS THE TV SERIES.  Looks like Brian Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s long running Icon comic about police officers who investigate homicides involving super powers will finally be made…For Sony Playstation.  The show will be the first original media programming on the platform, taking a cue from Amazon, Netflix, and others.  Not a good sign, frankly.  This will be a tough series to do right even for a seasoned pro, but for first timers?
INCREDIBLES 2.  It’s (finally) a go.  Incredibles was one of the best superhero movies of all time.  Seriously.  And Brad Bird will be creating the sequel as well. 

THUNDERBOLTS.  This comic hasn’t mattered in a long time.  I know lots of folks liked Jeff Parker’s run, but in my book the last time this series was good was in the Warren Ellis days.  But the latest “red” reboot, which featured Red Hulk leading a team that included Elektra, Deadpool and Punisher, was the worst.  The concept alone wasn’t true to the characters it featured (a team of loners and leaders, all subordinate to Thunderbolt Ross?) and the execution was worse than bad: It was boring.  But “author” Daniel Way has moved on, and the series will now be at the hands of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, known mostly for TV and live theater.  I’m willing to give it a shot based on the title of the opening arc: “Punisher Vs. Thunderbolts.”  But please, don’t make it suck.  The new Punisher series butchers the character, the last thing we need are more bad Punisher comics.

PATTON OSWALD, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.  He’ll be playing Agent Eric Koenig, another guy who has appeared in the comics but nobody has ever heard of.  Including me.  I had to look him up.

DC’S STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES.  A war comic is coming in July (for Independence Day, naturally).  It’ll be another comic that nobody reads by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. who also co-write All-Star Western, hoping to bring their success with genres outside the regular superhero story to the war. The series will star “G.I. Zombie,” a character who fights for his country throughout war after war. He’ll be fighting domestic terror in what sounds like a modern day story. No art was released yet, but Scott Hampton will provide for the series.

FANTASTIC FOUR AND WOLVERINE SEQUELS ANNOUNCED FOR 2017 RELEASE.  This of course will follow the first Fantastic Four movie, coming in 2015, and X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016.  I guess Fox isn’t in any hurry to let Marvel Studios get these properties back and actually do a proper F4 movie.  Or a proper Wolverine movie.  I didn’t hate the prior films, but I can’t say I loved them, either.

TAKEN 3.  And finally, speaking of sequels, Liam Neeson will return to the Taken franchise again next January.  That has to be better than Non-Stop 2, right?

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NINE PIECES OF COMIC BOOK NEWS

Just 9. Not a lot of interest to me this week…

RETURN OF LONE WOLF AND CUB. Perhaps the most well-known, and most critically acclaimed, Japanese comic book of all time, is returning with a new, 11-volume series by creators Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori. Dark Horse also plans an Omnibus treatment for the first 28 volumes of the title, which is one of the best-selling Manga of all time.

LIFE WITH ARCHIE. Big news from Archie Comics. First, Emmy Award winning Lena (“Girls”) Dunham will write a four-issue story arc in 2015 about a reality TV show being filmed in Riverdale. Second, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a well-established comic book writer and playwright, and author of the recent (and excellent) zombie comic “After Life with Archie,” has been put in charge of the whole line of books. Clearly, Archie is trying to be hipper and appeal to the new teens and tweens. One successful zombie book does not a rebranding make; we’ll have to see how it all continues to develop.

THE ARROW. Is introducing Suicide Squad. I feel like I should care. But I … Don’t.

MARVELS PLATINUM EDITION. The five issue (including the “zero” issue) series by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross was great. But is it worth $200? Marvel Comics thinks so. This special edition arrives in stores on August 19.

MILES MORALIS: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1. As all the Ultimate books get rebranded, the only one that’s always been worth reading will have a cover by Fiona “Saga” Staples. It’s her first work for Marvel.

NO NEW DC CARTOONS. Beware the Batman never came and already went—the computer-animated Cartoon Network show no longer appears on their slate for 2014-2015. In fact, there’s no new DC cartoons at all. I guess they are focusing on their “live action” programming (promising another season of Arrow, to be joined by Flash, Gotham, and Constantine in the near future).

CAPTAIN AMERICA 3. The sequel ain’t even out yet, but Joe and Anthony Russo have been re-hired for the threequel.

NEW STEVE DITKO COMIC. The legendary, reclusive creator is looking for Kickstarter funding for a comic called #9 Teen.

DYNAMITE/DC CROSSOVER. DC Digital First title Batman ’66 will cross over with Dynamite’s Green Hornet in a 12 issue biweekly web-comic written by Kevin Smith and Ralph “Family Guy” Garman and illustrated Ty Templeton. So if DC and Dynamite can team up, can we get a new DC/Marvel crossover? Please?

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DOCTOR STRANGE MOVIE CONFIRMED…AND OTHER NEWS OF THE COMIC BOOK WORLD

One of the “phase 3” Marvel Studio movies will definitely be about the Master of Mystic Arts. I’d venture to say that this is the riskiest Marvel movie yet. The Iron Man/Cap/Avengers and sequels were no brainers. Thor was a little bit of a reach, but not that much. Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly a risk, as it marks something beyond standard superheroics and it will undoubtedly be compared to Star Wars. But this one, a movie about a magician who is virtually unknown outside of the comic book world is a tremendous risk. Magic movies usually don’t do well. They usually suck, in fact, because they’re usually mired down in Christian/Devil mythology that either doesn’t make sense or simply isn’t interesting. It’s also a little disappointing, in that Marvel is forgoing the opportunity to put a more inclusive film on their roster (i.e., one fronted by a female or a person of color). But I do admire the way Marvel keeps trying to broaden their genres instead of going with the same thing over and over. They’ve moved ahead with a James Bond type of film (Iron Man), a period piece (Cap), the epic myth (Thor), blockbusters (Avengers 1&2), science fiction (Guardians), gritty street-level (the Netflix Defenders show), and the quirky supercomedy (Ant Man). It makes sense to stake out the occult—and to do it with a character who isn’t damaged by previous crappy installments (Ghost Rider). And really, they’ve only failed once, with Agents of SHIELD. And that’s hardly a failure, since it gets solid ratings with the best demos. That’s the kind of failure NBC dreams about.

COMICS AND COLLEGE DON’T MIX. South Carolina’s College of Charlestown included Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical, Eisner-winning GN “Fun Home” as required reading for freshman, and may lose funding as a result. The book is about her experience as a lesbian. If you live in SC, contact your State legislators and let them know that you’re not a small-minded bigot.

SPIDER-MAN YEAR ONE. A miniseries titled, “Spider-Man Year One: Learning To Crawl,” to be written by the only guy who writes Spiderbooks these days (Dan Slott) and drawn by Eisner winner Ramon “Tale of Sand” Pérez, will explore the first two months Peter Parker spent as Spider-Man, i.e, the time between the end of Amazing Fantasy #15 and the first three issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Slott promises it won’t retcon those classic four comics, but rather will take place around them. Sort of like the X-Men: First Class books Marvel did several years ago. Slott has done nothing but earn my trust on Spider-Man books, so this is a must buy for me.

WALT SIMONSON RETURNS TO NORSE MYTHOLOGY. But not Thor. IDW is backing Simonson’s interpretation of Norse legend in a book called, “Ragnarok,” coming in 2014.

AND SPEAKING OF ANCIENT GODS: WONDER WOMAN UPDATE. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have been on the Wonder Woman title since the first new 52 issue, and for the most part they’ve been doing a very good, and sometimes great, job. This is the only run ever on Wonder Woman where I’ve actually looked forward to the next issue coming out. Granted, there haven’t been too many great WW books ever in the history of the character, but Brian and Cliff’s run has been extra-interesting because it has stayed away from the rest of the DC line—giving Diana a true shot at solo stardom. Their run will end this summer after a “Battle for Olympus” event. And frankly, after three years on the book they are starting to show a need to move on. Still, their run will make for a great omnibus some day. Perhaps bigger news is the person coming on board to write and draw Wonder Woman next: David Finch, one of the biggest names in comics. Looks like DC is taking Wonder Woman seriously, which gives credence to the rumors of a possible movie.

NEW WARREN ELLIS COMIC. Image Comics, who are proving time and again that they are the best at innovative, not-capes-and-costumes comics, will be publishing “Trees,” written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Jason Howard. It’s about aliens who have been living among us for years but never made contact because “that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive.”

AMAZING X-MEN #7. I haven’t been thrilled with the X-books lately. Bendis started strong, but it quickly became clear that there wasn’t enough story to carry two Bendis-X books each month, let alone all the other mutant books out there. But Marvel solicits show Kathryn Immonen, one of the best underrated writers out there, and Paco Medina, the best Deadpool artist ever, are reuniting Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (Iceman and Firestar) in an upcoming issue of Amazing Z-Men. I think I’ll have to be there.

GAIL SIMONE AT MARVEL. And speaking of too many mutant books, Gail Simone—fresh from being taken off Batgirl and DC cancelling The Movement—is returning to Marvel to write a Savage Wolverine one-off about the titular hero having a really, really bad day. It costars Jubilee, who seems to me like the kind of character Simone could write the hell out of.

HEROES RETURNS. Remember that “save the cheerleader” show that was really good first season and then became Young and the Restless with powers? Well, it’s coming back to NBC next year as a 13-episode miniseries that will take place some time after the old show ended.

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NEWS OF THE WEEK: SALES FIGURES, MARVEL’S NEW #1 STRATEGY AND THE DC REBOOTS OF REBOOTS

Batman #27 was the best-selling comic. No, not this Batman #27. But I would totally love to read this issue.

The first month of 2014 found only one #1 in the top 10 comic books sold (according to Diamond Comic Distributors): Avengers World, which came in at #3. Topping the list were Batman and Detective Comics’ respective #27s, with the rest of the list being the usual suspects…Except that Harley Quinn #2 is still right in there in the top 10.

Here’s the list:

1. Batman #27
2. Detective Comics #27
3. Avengers World #1
4. Justice League #27
5. Superior Spider-Man #25
6. All New X-Men #22.Now
7. Superior Spider-Man #26
8. Harley Quinn #2
9. Avengers #25
10. Justice League of America #11

Imagine that: A girl (and villain) centered book in the top 10! I can’t say the book really resonated with me personally, but I love that it’s there. And also noteworthy: Detective #27 cost a whopping eight bucks—and still cracked the top 10.

With a “second issue” in the top 10, it’s worth nothing that last year’s 10 bestselling comics were one issue of The Walking Dead (#115), and nine #1s from DC/Marvel. But the issues after #1 of all those series, which Justice League of America, Superior Spider-Man, Superman Unchained, and Guardians of the Galaxy, sold about the same as the last-issue-before-the-new #1-issue. This can mean a couple things: First, #1 issues only really sell #1 issues, so if a publisher is looking for a spike, it’s good tactic, but if they’re looking for overall increases in readership, it’s not working. Second, if there are people who buy #1 issues because they see them as a way to start reading a new series from the beginning, then just as many loyal readers of the “old” series are dropping it when it reboots.

I think there’s one conclusion to be made: Branding series as “new” for each major arc or creative team is a way to create an episodic, trade-paperback-like reading experience. But as a sales tactic, it seems they could create sales spikes just as easily through other mechanisms, like “event” books and spin-offs, stunts (e.g., the Obama issue of Spider-Man outsold every other comic that year), variant covers (DC’s 3-D covers last year sold like gangbusters), etc. That said, I don’t begrudge anyone trying to sell more comics—whatever it takes, guys—but you have to admit: It’s hilarious that all the #1 issues were bested by a #115.

Other news…

MS. MARVEL. And speaking of #1s…The first issue of the first mainstream Muslim hero was both critically praised and the bestselling issue on Marvel’s direct-sales digital app. That means it’s beating Wolverine #1 and Loki #1. (I have to note: Taking away Wolverine’s healing factor and then putting him a suit of armor kinda defeats the whole purpose of it all, doesn’t it?)

On a personal note: I read this issue and it’s terrific.  A perfect (yes, perfect) “origin” book that has the same story beats as the greatest origin comic book of all time (Amazing Fantasy #15) but is informed by the greatest re-telling of an origin story of all time (Bendis and Bagely’s revamp in Ultimate Spider-Man).

Anyway, good sales on ComiXology are a good indicator that when Diamond releases its figures for the month, Ms. Marvel will be fairly high on the list. We’ll see if (ahem) Ms. Marvel has legs.  And speaking of legs, look who used his to walk away from Marvel….

JOHN ROMITA, JR, GOES TO DC! No name is more closely associated with Marvel than Romita. Both Sr. and Jr. have almost exclusively worked for the publisher, and neither has ever (to my knowledge) worked on anything for DC. So it’s big news that JR JR will be drawing the main Superman comic for DC this summer. Equally as important, Klaus Janson will be doing the inks. Who will write the scripts for this powerhouse team? Geoff “I’ve been phoning it in for years” Johns. Still, this has to be a big blow to Marvel—Romita is one of the biggest, most Marvel-associated names in comics. And speaking of Superman…

Everything old really is new again. Look at this news post: Batman #27. Ms. Marvel #1. Death of Superman. I could have used “old covers” for practically every story on this list!

THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN 2. DC’s Super-Event this year will be Doomsday and The Death of Superman. See, this is one of the big problems with the new 52: We’ve already seen this, we’ve already been there. I have no interest in revisiting it. I do have to eat my words about one thing, though…

BATMAN BY SCOTT SNYDER IS GOOD. Now that the Year Zero first arc is done, I went back and re-read it and…It’s actually damn good. I was wrong. I think it’s just hard to follow as a monthly serialization. And speaking of serialization…

PREACHER ON AMC. It’s official. Seth Rogen is part of a team developing Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s “hard R” rated Vertigo comic for an AMC series. If you’ve never read it, trust me when I tell you that if Walking Dead makes you squirm, Preacher will make you projectile vomit. I have no idea how they’ll bring this to TV, but I do know that a long-form format will be better than a one-shot movie. In other long-form TV news…

DMZ TV. Members of the “Mad Men” creative team are working on a pilot for Syfy of Bryan Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s 72-issue epic about a journalist in a version of Manhattan that’s a lot like the one from John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York.” The Vertigo comic was critically praised and had a realistic spin on the “nihilistic future” genre. I liked it, but I always thought it would make a better TV show than comic. Maybe I’ll finally get to see if I was right. One thing is for sure, they couldn’t tell this kind of extended, decompressed story in a movie. But some things are better as movies, speaking of which…

GOTHAM HAS IT’S JAMES GORDON. The TV police procedural about Gotham City before Batman came along (i.e., when it was just a regular city) will star Ben McKenzie (of Southland and the voice of Batman in the animated Batman: Year One straight-to-video movie). Is anyone excited about this show? Someone close to the project told The Hollywood Reporter that: “We will follow Bruce Wayne right up until the point where he gets interesting.” And they thought that was a good thing!? It seems like DC is, once again, failing to learn from Smallville: We want the capes, not the characters. Marvel doesn’t seem to have learned that, either, based on its TV show, but as for its movies….

AVENGERS 2 HAS VISION. The voice of Jarvis in the Iron Man movies, Paul Bettany, has won the role of Vision in the next Joss Whedon fists, hammers, shields and blowing upping epic. Makes sense: Tony Stark “destroyed” Jarvis at the end of Iron Man 3, so he’ll likely jump into a robot body. Also makes sense that he’d be a little pissed off at Tony’s rejection, so making him an ally to Ultron (at least in the beginning of the story) would work. Plus, this paves the way for future robot sex with Elizabeth “Scarlet Witch” Olsen. Speaking of non-human superheroes….

THE LEGO MOVIE. It’s got Batman, so it’s a comic book movie, right? It kicked butt at the box office opening weekend ($70 million!), and I plan on seeing it soon….Maybe next weekend, because God knows I have no interest in the Robocop reboot. And last but not least…

CHEW/REVIVAL CROSSOVER. Image Comics will cross its popular “Chew” comic (by John Layman and Rob Guilory) about a detective who eats stuff like brains with the newer “Revival” horror comic by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton about a town where the dead are revived but they don’t eat stuff like brains.

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