Tag Archives: Image

October 2023 Independent Comics I Love


I neglected my articles last week. Grades were due for the first quarter at school. I stayed home on Wednesday with a migraine. So, I focused on keeping the podcasts and videos going instead of the articles. But, I’m back this week with the comics reviews as promised. I start with October 2023 independent comics. Last month brought some uneven quality with the Spawn titles, but Ninja Turtles redeemed the month.

Gunslinger 25

Writer: Uncle Todd, Artist: Brett Booth. They dial up the ultraviolence and the naughty words in this one. As far as I can tell, this is a one shot (or maybe part of another ongoing) because only Gunslinger stars in this one. Typical revenge family. My verdict: Decent.

King Spawn 26

Writer: Sean Lewis, Artist: Javi Fernandez. Also a trail of bodies left in his wake. But, we are spared most of the gore in this one. He searches after an entity known as “The Visage”. Asks her for help in preventing Cog from ascending to the throne. I like this approach much more than the Gunslinger in your face. My verdict: Good.

Scorched 22

Writer: Sean Lewis, Artist: Stephen Segovia. She-Spawn is back and she’s different. Or, is she just all that she was ever meant to be? In any case, she’s pissed at just about everyone, especially her team that she blames for her death. This isn’t over. My verdict: Great

Spawn 346

Writer: Rory McConville (with Uncle Todd on additional script), Artist: Carlo Barberi. They keep building this story. I just noticed that it’s the big 350 in 4 months. So, that makes sense. While a bit of a slower issue this time around which mostly focuses on the machinations of each faction, it does give Spawn a reason to care with a slaughter of several of his allies. My verdict: Good.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 144

Writer: Sophie Campbell (with Kevin Eastman as story consultant), Artist: Gavin Smith. I wrote several times during this story that I worried about a drop off in quality from the Armageddon Game. Obviously, that happened (you can’t keep up that pace forever), but not as much as I feared. Campbell built this story with a compelling narrative and sympathetic characters. She finishes it off with a thrilling conclusion. She also expertly sets up the next story. I, for one, hope she writes this book forever. My verdict: Great

The Verdict

October 2023 independent comics brings us a more consistent Spawniverse (good thing because I heard they want to add books to the line up?!) and the consistent awesomeness of the turtles. I need to expand this section and I’ll take some of Chris’s suggestions from the Spooktober discussion in 2 Guys Gaming. See you next month!

Spawn images taken from the mothership. TMNT from IDW.

June 2023 Independent Comics I Love


As mentioned several times in articles and podcast episodes, my wife, Liam, and I went to Germany for Liam’s high school graduation. I got the idea from talking to a student who went to Disney for theirs. I thought, why not give our kids a chance at a trip of their choice when they graduate. Well, he immediately knew that he wanted to go to Germany. In spite of the length of the trip, I kept the page going with the “From the Vault” series in which I reposted a few articles from our past. And, now, I return live with June 2023 independent comics I love.

But, before that, I enjoyed the trip very much. We traveled to three countries, saw countless historical and natural wonders, and already started to plan the next trip. We either intend to travel to other countries in central Europe or finally cross the UK off our list. I think it will be the UK and then the other countries in five or so years. We plan to go domestic and then overseas for about 5-9 years until we can work for the Department of Defense and live over there for a bit. But, none of that has to do with comics. So, on with the reviews.

Just one of the many post card quality photos I took during our time there.


These indpendent articles usually only contain Spawn and, on occasion, a random independent comic that accidentally got sent to me or one that I ordered on a whim. Every now and then, I remember one of Chris’s recommendations and order that. Well, this (and future) articles are only different in that I put all four of the Spawn’s Universe comics on my pull list. I also added TMNT after Armageddon game. Hey, I’m branching out!

Note: Spawn pictures taken from Image Comics.

Gunslinger Spawn #21

Writer: Uncle Todd, Artist: Brett Booth

I think when I mentioned to Chris that after I learned about the new Spawn related titles, he said something about enjoying Gunslinger. If so, then I 100% agree. I broke my X-Men rule for these books and just dove right in without any backstory. This issue captured me from the first page. Gunslinger and his accomplice ride dinosaurs into battle against Maelbolgia and Vindicator. Hell yes. The rest of the book tells the story of how they arrived at that battle. I’m looking forward to this one next month. My verdict: Great.

King Spawn #23

Writer: Sean Lewis with Uncle Todd as additional script, Artist: Kevin Keane

I recognized immediately that this book’s story follwed the “Dark Horror” arc from the main title. That’s my favorite Spawn arc of the last decade and is in my top 10 for comics arcs since I started collecting again. I might even say top 5. Quick analysis and I can’t think of many more that I enjoyed as much as that one. While this arc only peripherally contains story elements from that arc, it still gave me enough of that story to push it into the top tier for these books. My verdict: Great.

Scorched #19

Writer: Sean Lewis with Uncle Todd as additional script, Artist: Stephen Segovia

She-Spawn is dead. What the hell? We’re only 19 issues into this thing and one of the cover characters is already dead? Well, okay, let’s see what it’s about anyway. The book is fine. I like the characters on the team and look forward to seeing how they interact when they’re not stressed out because one of them is “dead”. I figured that out pretty quickly. Also, the story felt kind of lukewarm and a bit to obvious for me. Overall, a decent introduction and I’ll read the other issues to see how we got here and if it changes my mind at all. My verdict: Good.

Spawn #342

Writer: Rory McConville with Uncle Todd as additional script, Artist: Carlo Barberi

I think I mentioned in a previous article that the new focus on the war between Heaven and Hell leaves me underwhelmed. I get that’s the main theme behind the book. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ll admit that this issue added a wrinkle that made it more interesting. Having bought nearly an entire run of the book 3 times, I intend to keep collecting and reading. I just hope they give us a different arc soon. My verdict: Good.

TMNT #140 (After Armageddon)

Writer: Sophia Campbell with Kevin Eastman as story consultant, Artist: Gavin Smith, Image from Previews World.

I thought the book might suffer from a bit of a let down after such a long an ambitious even. While there is some of that, the book sets us up nicely for the next arc. I can’t think of a reason I never collected the Turtles before this, but I think it had to do with the book being called “gritty” or some such nonsense. I do remember Chris wanting to go off on the podcast when they teased “killing” one of the turtles several years ago. But, I’m glad they hooked me with the event and I plan to keep collecting and fill in the back issues that I can. My verdict: Good.

The Verdict

Those are the June 2023 independent comics I love. Overall, the future of all of these series looks bright to me and I look forward to filling in some of the back stories. When I said earlier that I fell into a Spawn rabbit hole, that means that I tried to track down all of the back issues of those books. I succeeded in finding all but maybe 3 or 4 of them. Now, as I say, my focus becomes The Turtles. Tell me about some of the June 2023 independent comics you love in th ecomments.

Image Comics in the 1990s


I already wrote articles for Marvel and DC in the 1990s. Well then you might think, that’s it. You’re all done. Oh, you silly person. You have clearly forgotten the indy comic book scene. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. You need to establish your mainstream cred first before you branch off into the lesser known aspects of a culture. To be honest, you probably didn’t say any of that. But, as long as we are being honest, I didn’t even know of any comic companies other than Marvel and DC until I got introduced to Image Comics.

I got introduced to Image when Image introduced themselves to the world. Yep, I was there from the beginning. I knew nothing about the story of disgruntled Marvel and DC talent leaving the companies to start their own company. I just walked into the comic book store and saw these shiny new books. Sure, they were more expensive than the Marvel and DC books, but, shiny.

And we all know how I feel about shiny.

Which of these shiny new books did I buy? Initially, all of them. Every single one. That’s not an exaggeration. Understanding that the number 1 is a very special number in comic books, I got every first issue of the Image comics that came out. For some books, those were the only issues that I bought. Others, I kept buying in hopes that they’d grow on me. Not many did. There were only a few that I collected on a regular basis.

Image Comics in the 1990s

First was Pitt. I like Dale Keown’s art and I collected the book mostly for that. Chris and I have talked a few times about the book and I mentioned how it was one of the Image titles that I kept collecting and even replaced in my collection a few years ago. More recently, I had to admit to him that I’ve only ever read the first issue. Shame! Shame the nerd!

But, that art,. Like I’m the first nerd to be bamboozled by a pretty face.

The second book that I collected regularly (and continue to collect to this day) is Spawn. There seems to be a lot of hatred for Todd McFarlane in the community, but Chris and I both agree that he is one of the artists who helped to usher in the modern era of comic book art. Like many of the early Image books, his writing isn’t as strong as the art, but the Spawn story is fun enough for me to keep reading. Also, as he has grown, he’s been more willing to give up writing duties to more established writers and that has helped.

Finally, we come to probably my favorite comic book ever created. I had never heard of Sam Kieth before his work at Image, but I have become a life long fan. In fact, I recently also became a fan of John Layman as a result of Sam Kieth doing the art for his mini series Eleanor and the Egret. This all started with a comic book about a homeless man’s delusions of being a hero. The Maxx was unlike anything that I’d ever read in a comic book before. Considering the current comic book environment, it was just ahead of its time.

Image Comics in TV and Movies

We’ve already established that unlike Marvel and DC, I discovered Image through the comic books. However, it did not take long for popular culture to catch up and put the independent guys on televisions and movie screens. In some ways, these movies and TV shows helped to usher in a more modern era in much the same way that Image Comics pushed the comic book industry. Chief among the ones that I remember are the Spawn and Maxx animated series and the Spawn movie.

I just found out that a DVD exists of The Maxx. Time for a search.

HBO commissioned the Spawn cartoon, allowing for all of the dirty bits to be included. While it has been too long for me to remember specifics, I do remember that I enjoyed the cartoon very much at the time. A quick search confirms that assessment. The show won an Emmy at the time. Not to be outdone, Hollywood hitched their wagon to the Spawn money train and released a movie.  Again, I don’t remember specifics, but I don’t remember it being very good. It wasn’t bad, either, just one of those forgettable movies from my childhood. One thing that it did was show that comic book movies could be successful. We are a bit spoiled today, but there was a time when all comic book movies were as bad as current DC movies. (*cheap shot*)

Finally, I want to talk about The Maxx animated series. This one was on MTV during the first wave of people complaining, “Remember when MTV showed music videos?” The cartoon was just as weird and wonderful as the comic book. Additionally, it was part of an animation revolution that reverberates today.

The Verdict

I haven’t gone back to revisit these comic books as I have with some of the other entertainment that I enjoyed in my teenage years to see if they hold up. When I read The Stand again (well, I listened to the audiobook) a few months ago, I made the comment to Kevin that the story is so multilayered that I’ve been able to find a new way to enjoy the book; once as a teenager, once as a twenty something, and finally as a 42 year old father. The exact same can’t be said for The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the Dragonlance novels that I’ve reread, but I do still enjoy them both just as much as then.

I even picked up my old 2099 books in anticipation of recording the podcast with Chris tomorrow. While not as entertaining as some of the others, it’s still been a fun trip down memory lane. Reading them has made me think about reading Spawn and maybe even The Maxx with new eyes. Part of me is afraid that it will ruin the memory as Chris and I will discuss happened with him and the 2099 series when he read it recently.

Besides, if this is to be believed, I’ll have all new The Maxx to enjoy soon ™ enough.

Comic Hunters 001 – Our Comic Book CV


We start the series by talking about what got us into comic book collecting. There is also a surprise reunion at one of our favorite comic book and gaming stores!

We love 90s Comic Books (15:50)

We continue to reminisce by taking about one of our favorite decades in comics, the 1990s. Spawn, 2099, and X-Cutioner’s song, oh my! Look for a deep dive on this topic in a future episode.

Comic Books as Therapy (22:50)

We talk about what comic books mean to us as a social hobby and an escape from reality.

Comic Books as Collectors (26:22)

A visit to a local comic book show inspires us to organize and inventory our collections, which then inspires us to go to Midtown and eBay to buy more comic books. We talk about which books we’re looking for and why.

Nerd Rage? (36:33)

A brief memorial to 2099 leads to both of us trying to figure out where all of the nerd rage and hate comes from. Why didn’t you like the new Marvel heroes? What is wrong with rebooting the numbering every few years? We have some theories.

More Comic Books as Collectors (46:45)

Another brief discussion of books that we’d like to collect. X-Men Volume 1 and Marvel Team Up are prominently featured.

Diversifying Nerddom (51:00)

A chance meeting during Free Comic Book Day leads us to consider why nerds aren’t as welcoming as they could be and a way to possibly remedy that situation. (Spoiler Alert: Just be nice!)

Comic Hunters
Comic Hunters
Comic Hunters 001 - Our Comic Book CV



Comic Round Up: The Little Guys

(Editor’s Note: We said something about plans in our previous article and how they easily go awry. We planned to do a Comic Round Up on Marvel next, so enjoy this article about few independent titles that I’ve (re)discovered since coming back to comic books again.)

It feels weird calling this article the “little guys” when I’m reviewing 2 Image books. I mean, they have some comics that have a definite “little engine that might” quality, but they also have the old gray mare in Spawn and the 900 lb. gorilla that is The Walking Dead. Still, they are considered independent, and with the rate I’m picking up titles, “the little guys” might soon outweigh even that 900 lb. gorilla, so I’m sticking with the title.

Chris and I were talking a few weeks (maybe a month) ago about our newly found interest in comics. I was still in my Wonder Woman trades only, Batman, and only books that had the Secret Empire flag on them phase. One of us mentioned that there were so many good books to read right now. If it was me who said that, I followed up with the following. If it was Chris, then it was my reply. In either case, I said, “I know, and I have barely even touched DC comics and haven’t even considered any of the independent books.”

Side note: I was still reading Spawn, a book that will be included in this independent book review. What can I say? I didn’t consider Spawn an independent book then and I’m changing my mind now to suit the theme. As if there’s no precedent for that around here.

Well, I’ve now ventured into the world of independent comics outside of Spawn and my poor budget is about to take even more of a hit. Similar to my adventures into both Marvel and DC, I have really enjoyed both of the new books that I’ve read and that will most likely lead to me spending more time with the independent rack. It’s either the best of times or the worst of times, too, as August promises to be light on volume each week due to the “extra” Wednesday. Oh well, more fodder for the next article!

When I picked up the latest issue of Spawn, the woman who owns the store that I’ve adopted as my LCS remarked something about a new Spawn in my pull.

Side Note: I’ve only started the pull, am not sure that I set it up the way that I wanted to get all of the issues I want, and am a little embarrassed by my “mainstream” tastes. The comic book store is in a very eclectic city and I always get the sense that the town itself is judging me for my comic book tastes.

Nonchalantly and trying not to let my embarrassment over my comic choices show, I replied, “Yeah, Spawn is a relic from my reckless youth.” It must have worked on some level because she chuckled and said, “Yeah, we all have those, don’t we.” Whew, crisis averted. She also continued the conversation by saying, “It’s about the art,” to which I nodded and then she continued, “and this cover is so cool.” That’s the cover up there and yes, it is cool.

As far as the story goes, it’s been a bit hit and miss. The first issue that I read felt very familiar as if it’s all been done before. I know that the book has been around for over 20 years, is about 2 years short of #300, and hasn’t experienced a full reboot or crisis in that time. So, it’s gotta be tough to keep coming up with new stories. Still, it was slightly disconcerting to come back to such a ho hum issue. I even considered just jettisoning Spawn to the trash bin of history. I did so with The Walking Dead and while I’ve recently considered a return, Chris talked me off of that ledge.

But, Spawn and I have history, Man. I was there from the beginning. I bought issue #1 off of the rack when it was released. I replaced the first 150 issues (because I threw them out during one of my moves) 20 years ago when I got back into comics again for the Civil War event. The Walking Dead was part of a phase. It was a college thing. I was curious, okay?! Spawn will have to get a lot worse for me to abandon the book completely. So far, that hasn’t happened. It’s actually steadily increased in quality as far as the writing goes. The latest arc, that’s starting with 276, isn’t great, but it’s good enough to keep me interested at least in the short run.

The Good – The art quality for this book has always been great and some amazing artists have worked on the book. That hasn’t changed. Todd McFarlane has an eye for what works visually on this book.

The Bad – The writing is uneven and was almost enough to turn me off from the book, but it has shown signs of improving.

The Ugly – I called Spawn the old grey mare. While she isn’t as long in the tooth as some of the Marvel or DC books (and they’ve even tried changing some of those books to loud and angry nerd shouts), but it is one of the longest running books not published by one of those two. It is showing it’s age.

The verdict: If you’re a fan, you know what you’re getting. If you’re not, there’s not really much here to recommend over some of the other books out there. I will say that if this current arc doesn’t pan out and I’m crunched for money, this will be the first book to go.

I was in line at the comic book store, waiting to pay for my latest haul of Secret Empire tie in books, when I overheard the guy in front of me talking to the owner of the store about Sam Kieth. I’ve already mentioned that I feel weird about not having as many “offbeat” comics in my reading list and Sam Kieth is as “offbeat” as they come. I’ve been a fan of his since discovering him during my first discovery of comic books as a teenager. Like Todd McFarlane, I wasn’t aware of Sam Kieth’s work with Marvel and DC. I found him through his Image book, The Maxx.

Side note: See, I used to be much more hip and with it. Image probably never was the “fringe” of comics, but it was alternative in a time when that word had a much more positive meaning. I suppose that I’m just getting safe in my old age, falling into patterns from my youth.

The Maxx was, and probably still is, my favorite comic book of all time. Like most Image books, it suffered from delays, but I always looked forward to every new issue. Also, like Spawn, I trashed my Maxx books, but bought the entire run again. Unlike Spawn, or any other book for that matter, all of the books are in a binder for safe keeping. I loved the weirdness of The Maxx and how it wasn’t typical comic book stuff. Now I might need to go back and read it again.

And, back to the present. After a casual conversation about the books in my hand, that ended with an awkward admission (as an attempt to gain some cred) by me that I thought Ultimates has been a really good book lately, I quickly changed the subject. “What’s Sam Kieth been up to?”The owner’s eye’s lit up, she mentioned the title, and took me over to the rack. Only issues 2 and 3 were available, but she said that she would try to get issue 1 for me. She was great about getting me issue #5 of Secret Empire, so I have no doubt that she will make good on it.

It might just be the bias of having read The Maxx, but similar themes run through Eleanor and the Egret. It is nowhere near a carbon copy of it, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t notice the similarities. Strong female protagonist accompanied by a non human ally. Weird creepy man in black. Flash backs (though in The Maxx, it was not always clear if they were flashbacks, flash forwards, or alternate realities) that serve to drive the story. Okay, so maybe there aren’t as many similarities as I thought and I’m just reaching here.

In any case, the book is very good. I don’t know the writer, but apparently he’s very well known for something that he did while I was away from comics. I will say that I’ve enjoyed this book so much that I might have to go back to read that series one of these days. Eleanor is not your typical comic book stuff, even more so than The Maxx wasn’t. It revolves around an artist turned art thief and her pet bird, who seem to have a bit of a bone to pick with another artist for some reason. They steal this other artist’s paintings and the bird eats them. I know. It sounds weird. And it is weird. In my opinion, it’s very good, too.

The Good: Sam Kieth’s art takes me back to the beginning and reminds me again why I love comic books. It isn’t always just about the beautiful photorealistic art. Sometimes, the fuzzy lines and muted colors work just as well, if not better.

The Bad: It’s not a book for everyone. If you are super hero only, avoid this book. There isn’t anything for you here.

The Ugly: As with any of these indy companies, I wonder how long they will last. I know that it isn’t the wild 1990s anymore, but I’d hate to get invested in a book only to see it killed due to low sales or delays.

This past week was light on the main books. There was no Secret Empire, only one or two tie ins, the Hulk generations book, and a new Batman. Instead of putting away the rest of my budget for next week, I started to wander through the independent titles. At first, I thought I might get suckered back into The Walking Dead, but the book just doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. I also found myself looking at Kirkman’s other book, Outcast. That looked really good, but I had already committed to my new obsession. Maybe next time.

While looking at the racks, I noticed the name “WARREN ELLIS” on one of the books. I know him best from his insane super hero book Nextwave: Agents of HATE followed shortly after by my discovery of his work on Thunderbolts at the same time. He was somewhat restricted by the characters in Thunderbolts. However, at that time, it was a book with completely bonkers Green Goblin, off his rocker Venom, nutso Penance and Bullseye, and slightly less crazy, but still perfect for Ellis’ off the wall writing style, Moonstone, Radioactive Man, Songbird, and Swordsman. He faced less resistance from the roster in Nextwave, as it was mostly 3rd and 4th tier characters that nobody ever heard of and he could be much crazier with them. I read his Thunderbolts, but I loved Nextwave and it put Warren Ellis on my must buy list.

While checking out, I remarked what a slow week it was for books and the owner replied, “Going to be that way all month because of the 5 Wednesdays. Need to spread it out.” I talked about picking up Injection to fill the void because of my undying love for Warren Ellis. She said that she loved the book, but it could get a little hard to follow because it is vintage Ellis. And, boy is it ever. If you thought I had a tough time explaining the plot of Eleanor, this one is beyond words.

The Good: Nextwave was Warren Ellis with minor restrictions. This is Warren Ellis with the gloves completely off. She said that it might be difficult to follow. I didn’t find that to be true, but the story is absolutely insane in the best way possible.

The Bad: I blew through the first two TPB volumes in no time at all. That leaves only 4 issues and then I think I have to wait until October for Issue #15. Bummer.

The Ugly: It took me until the end of Volume 2 to realize that he’s writing the series to focus each 5 issue story arc on one of the 5 main characters. I’m not sure how he will handle it if it goes beyond 25 issues, but that was a bit embarrassing.

Okay, I’ve branched out and bought a few other DC books. I’m now entrenched into two independent books. I’ve admitted to Chris that I may go hunting for the Dale Keown variant cover for the Hulk Generations book even though I already bought the main cover. I’m deep into comic books again and there isn’t much hope for me now.