Become an INDYpendent Thinker

I have to start out by saying that I really love comic books.   They don’t rank up there with my wife and kids, but I love them.   I just think that it is a shame that so many people who supposedly love comics stay in their narrow paths and don’t broaden their horizons.   I used to be one of those “comic lovers” until I decided that I was okay with trying something new.   It takes a lot to get people out of their routine.   I myself am a creature of habit.   Every time they do some sort of software upgrade at work I become a wreck until I’m used to the changes.   Disruption of the flow is something that many people just avoid.   

I am by far a Marvel guy.   Even within the Marvel Universe I could narrow it down further and say that I’m an X-Men fanatic; going even deeper than that I would say that I could even be considered an Earth-616 continuity snob.   I don’t’ know how I had become this way.   I didn’t want to become a mindless drone that could only see one perspective, but I had.



Uncanny X-Men #5 was the first comic I ever read.   Finally finding the first 4 books in my dad’s collection I was hooked.   It was the 80’s and comics were not nearly as big as they are now.   But I was introduced to a universe and characters that went through so much diversity everything else in comics just seemed lame.   Over the next 20 years I would only read X-Men related titles primarily, dappling on occasion with an issue or new trend during the 90’s.   (My secret sin is that I love Ravage 2099.)   I just couldn’t find a reason to read anything else.   About that same time there was a new kid on the block that became instantly trendy, Image Comics.

I could see the appeal.   The first book I read was an issue of Spawn where Spawn tracked down a serial killing, child molesting, ice cream man and gave him what he deserved.   I don’t remember the issue but I remember the not that was stabbed into the bloody sack that contained the scum bag:   “He made boys scream, he made girls scream.   So I made him scream and scream and scream.”



This was like nothing I had ever seen before it was fresh, it was violent, it was graphic, and it was definitely new.

The entire comic industry went overboard with just about everything in the 90’s and it was common to see a bunch of titles you didn’t care to read sitting on the shelves because someone would eventually pick them up.   (Or they were recycled into toilet paper… *cough* Super-Pro *cough*.)   The newness of the Image titles died down partly due to the results of internal issues within the company.   I settled back into my comfort zone.   Phalanx Covenant had just ended and Generation X was my new hot read.   C’mon White Queen as a hero!   THAT IS RAD!

This stayed pretty much the same way with me.   If the title didn’t feature the X-Men or a mutant as the title character I didn’t read it.   Then the sickening thing happened.   Fox made a horrible movie and Marvel decided to capitalize by creating the Ultimate Universe.   I still haven’t to this day read an Ultimate comic.   I refused to sell out the rich continuity that I had become accustomed to.   I couldn’t accept the newness and the retelling of everything that I knew.   I know that this if funny considering I read the Exiles and love Mutant X.   But it is the way I have been and will always be about my favorite group of marvelous mutants.

Recently over the last couple years I started branching out though.   I accepted that there could be different things out there, there could be decent stories.   I even stuck with Green Lanter from the beginning of the Sinestro Corpse War to the beginning of Blackest night.   After it is all said and done, I still don’t care much for DC.   Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker got me interested in the Avengers, and that even is hit or miss for me sometimes.   I don’t think I’ll be picking up much after Siege.

One thing did change for me over the last year though.   I discovered the world of independent comics.   Remember Image in the 90’s?   Well the independent titles that I have been picking up are bringing back that newness I felt when I read Spawn or Shadow Hawk 15 years ago.   I have found excellent stories from relative and complete unknowns and also some epic creator owned properties from established writers.   The ideas didn’t follow the trends in Marvel or DC so they went out and found another publisher to print their grand designs.

I now try at least 1 new indie title a week, some I have latched onto, finding a permanent place on my pull list.   I’ve even become acquainted with the owners of a couple of the companies and gotten to know some of the creators and artists.   I’ll be reviewing much of their work on here as I have.  

I want to encourage people to take some stock in my reviews as with anybody else’s with these new titles.   Remember comic-viners, we are comic lovers too.   If we have good things to say about a book, it is probably worth picking up.   I will do my best to present interesting takes on these books.   I still keep everything spoiler free as usual and will always admit that there are books out there that just didn’t sit well with me, but were good for what they were.   Everybody likes something different.   How do you know you like it, if you don’t try it out?

Some of the things that you don’t get with your men in tights general comic flair can actually be some of the most exciting.   Horror, Zombies, Slasher, Suspense, Drama, Barbarians, Boobies, and Gore.   Anybody can find a flavor they like I’m sure.   So along with my reviews I think I’m going to start featuring an indie title a week in my blog as a recommendation for everybody willing to try.

Check out my reviews you'll find a gem for sure, here are 5 excellent books to start with: 
Massive Awesome #001
Publisher 215 Ink.
Writer: Stephen Lindsay
Art: Rolf Lejdegard


  Stephen Lindsay has done it again. The creator of Jesus Hates Zombies and Abe Lincoln Hates Werewolves proves his genius again; and made something that lives up to its title. Massive Awesome is exactly that. As a bonus we are also treated to a one-shot of Jesus Hates Zombies in the back of this book. The story is interesting, the dialogue is snarky and fun, and the art is amazing considering the subject matter. If you need an example, then I could summarize this review in 5 words: Bacon, Pickle, Ninja, Battle-Mech, and Zombie. However, something as massively awesome as MASSIVE AWESOME does deserve a little bit more.

The story opens inside a prison, filled to the brim with felons, one of the most concerning is a pickle that thinks he is a zombie. Sot the action starts as a jailbreak commences and we are introduce to the feature protagonist, BACON!!! This piece of fat laden, porky goodness has more skills than the entire cast of Napoleon Dynamite.

Even though the jailbreak was successful, the powers that be (you know the MAN, the government), force our duo into retirement. The quiet life of retirement doesn’t last long, even after our slice of hog hero gets dumped by his girlfriend, Bacon and his moderately mentally challenged side kick Pickle, get an opportunity to whoop some midget ninja ass.

Pintsize bad guys thrashed, the fight moves out side, where Bacon battles their leader in a huge mech-suit. Sadly he doesn’t last long, getting off two shots before falling in defeat to the razor sharp wit and fighting skills of Bacon. This big bad does leave behind a clue that Pickle discovers, and send the duo to Scotland.

The action in this book is mostly non-stop. The panels flow nicely and the art is unexpected, and excellent, rivaling that of classics like Ninja Scroll. Reading this story was almost like playing fun platform game with the Boss Battle at the end, then an opening for the next level. Then as an added bonus we get some good old Jesus and Lazarus team up.

Jesus Hates Zombies is already an awesome title on its own, getting the cursing Christ-man in here to defeat the Corpse Demon was just fun to read. JC does need to pick up a new wing-man though; the zombie Laz is just killing his game.

5 out of 5 cases of coronary heart disease!        

 Nightmares of the Macabre #3: Judge Jury Executioner
Writer: Josh “Bile” Cantrell
Artist: Thiago F. Castro
Publisher: Creators Edge Press


 For starters this issue of Nightmares of the Macabre is 80 pages of awesome. Instead of breaking up the story into parts you get all the gory details in one graphic novel/trade paperback book. Creators Edge Press and their publishers put out a high quality product that equals and surpasses many of the industry giants. The binding is nice, the cover is awesome to look at, and the page quality is top notch. It is worth every penny of the $16.99 price tag.

When I mentioned in previous reviews that Castro gets better with each issue, Judge Jury Executioner is where it looks like he starts to hit is stride. The gore in this book is unbelievable, the art compliments the story greatly, as some scenes even make you cringe. There are pages of vivid details that include no words, but the images tell all.

The writing from Cantrell is phenomenal as Cantrell takes a step back from his apocalypse niche and tackles something much more. This book is one part Hostel, one part Dexter, one part Saw, and the rest is just sick and twisted.

The story opens with a court case for a scumbag that goes free because the jury was bought off, threatened, and all together fixed. That doesn’t mean there is no justice for the convicted. We are taken to a warehouse with a twisted individual wearing a mask and butcher coveralls. He has picked the scum of the earth and decided to take the role of the story’s title, Judge Jury Executioner.

The things that he does to these people go beyond the gore of the pay to play cast of Hostel. He tries his best to methodically torture and punish these criminals in ways befitting their crime. Making works of art out of some of them, and completely dismembers other and Castro captures every detail.

Cantrell did at least give us a treat in the last panel as our butcher of bad guys is revealed. All in all this is top notch work from this artist/writer team.

4.5 out of 5 Heads in a Duffle Bag         

Wolfskin: The Hundredth Dream 
Writer: Warren Ellis

Art: Mike Wolfer and Gianluca Pagliarani

Publisher: Avatar Press


 Well this is what disappoints me about not seeing a new issue of Astonishing X-Men on the racks for months. Warren Ellis is a phenomenal writer. This new creator owned property, Wolfskin, is proving to be something epic in only its first issue. The narration and story telling is impressive and the art by Pagliarani is astounding. There are such visceral panels in this book that it puts some indy horror books to shame. You know the Prince Valliant comics that you find in your Sunday comics? Well this like those…if they were beyond awesome.

The story opens up with solid narration about the Dark Ages of Earth, a time period when technology has been slowly pushing out magic and mysticism from the world. Basically taking place in Europe the story is going to be following our raiding party on their voyage from what is now Britain to Scandinavia.

Yes I said raiding party. The opening of this story is like a dream team of party members coming together in an epic Role Playing game fantasy. There is the priest, the archer, the fire-mage, the tinkerer, and the title character, a barbarian. The thing that is interesting is that they are setting of on this voyage not for riches and glory, but to be free from a world of technology and just for the sake of adventuring.

The character introductions are interesting and Ellis keeps you involved in the book as you turn the pages. Seeing the monster that they are setting out to face (which reminds me of some recent iterations of the Void over in Marvel’s Siege story arc,) actually makes you wonder how these five men are going to fair any better than the army that has been fighting it.

If you are into D&D or fantasy role playing, a fan of Warren Ellis, like Conan, Hickman’s new S.H.I.E.L.D. series, or just want something that is a truly good read with outstanding art, this is a book to check out.

4.5 out of 5 Savagely Slain Rogues     
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents:Neverland #0 
Publisher:  Zenescope
Written: Joe Brusha 
Art: Jean-Paul Deshong

 I've never read a Zenescope comic before, and on a whim I picked up this first issue of a new story presented in their Grimm Fairy Tales line. The cover art drew me to this book and the art was great throughout. I'm a little sad though that I didn't pick up one of the limited to 250 nude variant covers. Artist Jean-Paul Deshong, his premier work was done back in 2004's Digital Webbing Presents #20, got his big break in 2009 with Zenescope. I have to tell you that his inks pop, they are fluid and go well with both genre's in the story. The art was good enough to draw me in and I think I'm hooked and would like to point him out as an up and comer in the world of comic art.

Joe Brusha Editor at Zenescope picked up the pen to flesh out this story. In Grimm Fairy Tale style there are two different stories going on at once that seem like they will merge together. Having never read a Grimm Fairy tale comic before, I didn't know what to expect. Well now I expect nothing but awesomeness. The opening of the story leads with a somewhat supernatural abduction that is sensed by another sleeping boy in the same town. This young boy we find is little Michael Darling. He lives with his brother Michael and his Aunt Wendy. The names of course have to link up with the classic fairytale. (Note: The Brothers Grimm never penned Peter Pan,that was the work of Scottish novelist and play-write J.M. Barrie.)

Young Michael looks through some old photos of an ancestor that survived the Titanic and asks some questions which may lead us to believe that we will see tie ins to the original Wendy, John, and Michael. Then the story flashes across town and we are introduced to a police crime drama that involves the missing child and his parents. The child moved through locked doors from his 16th Story flat some how. The detective’s only clue that this may not be filicide, residue that the detective says resembles... pixie dust.

We then are introduced to a new character, amputee Nathan Cross. Cross is portrayed as a guy down on his luck bumming some change to make a call. After being refused by Wendy, young Michael gave the man his milk money. Mr. Cross Makes the call to his shrink and sees the missing child poster and informs the doctor that he won’t be coming in today.

Upon turning the page, colors jump and shimmer as the reader is instantly teleported to Neverland. This is a world of dark fairytale fantasy ruled by the king referred to only as “Pan.” He is being offered a deal that will get him the one thing that he is missing, a queen. Last Panel, Pan looking down at a picture.

The story concludes and is a great read and leaves you wanting more. I will definitely be picking up the rest of the series, especially after the additional intrigue of the extra insert pages of Mr. Cross’ psychological records. I have to see how this ties together.
If you like Fable’s, if you’ve read the other Grimm Fairy Tales, are a fan of Peter Pan, or just want something new to look at, I would recommend picking up this book. I’m going to have to look for trades or back issues of other stories, it was that interesting.

4.5 out of 5 Lost Boys 

Bloke’s Tomb of Horror by Virus Comix




 Well This is an anthology book that I also fully reviewed, but I reviewed it a little differently so It doesn't fit in well with everything else as far as formatting. (someday I'll figure out how to make links on the pictures and zap you straight to my reviews or the volume page....ack technology, just more change I hid from.)
Check them out, maybe find something else you think I should be reading and let me know.   (Note: There isn’t much on the indie seen that I haven’t peeked at.”   

Posted by Asymmetrical

interesting, you have some pretty obscure stuff in there, I'm curious to see what kind of reviews you'll be popping out in the future

Posted by hrdwrkngXsoldier

Yeah it is along way from where I was when I was inside my little box.  I wish that I was an html ninja and could make links to my reviews on the books here in this, but I haven't figured that out.  I've been working on it all day.  I give up and I'm just going to edit this post and put the info from my previous reviews next to the pics.

Posted by inferiorego

I can not stand Zenescope. It's my arch-nemesis of comic book companies

Posted by Asymmetrical
@inferiorego said:
" I can not stand Zenescope. It's my arch-nemesis of comic book companies "
maybe if you were a woman things would be different? you know I always saw them as comics marketed towards men but all the contributors to those books say they have a larger female following, I'll have to admit that surprised me but I don't understand women
Posted by hrdwrkngXsoldier

What is your gripe with them?  This was the first thing I ever saw from them.  I dropped The main title after only reading 3 issues.  But the neverland story has been good.
Posted by Fresh0133
Yeah, I've been enjoying Neverland as well, the main Grim Fairy Tales book is just alright, but this twisted Peter Pan thing they've got going has been pretty good thus far. 
I know I've got a review of Massive Awesome somewhere dang it, now I've got to go track it down.
Edited by Icon
Posted by -Eclipse-

Nice blog. 
But I dunno, I'm much more into the 'classic' superhero stuff... The dudes in tights doing good guy things. Not many Indy comics seem to offer that sort of thing, and I'm really not into reading many of the things you mentioned as a part of most Indy comics, i.e. "Horror, Zombies, Slasher, Barbarians, Boobies, and Gore."

Posted by Mutant X
@hrdwrkngXsoldier said:
" ....and love Mutant X.”
Aww thanks buddy.
Posted by Ryonslaught

Great article! so very true :)

Posted by Gylan Thomas

I love the indies myself.
I figure I'm a movie fan but don't always watch action flicks.

Posted by Mutant X

I just recently started checking out some Indy comic myself. I've been getting my hands on as much Spawn as I can. But Haunt started me on Indy comics. I'm a huge McFarlane fanboy. lol

Posted by hrdwrkngXsoldier

I notice that you like reading Batman type stuff.  I don't know how much classic stuff you have really read, or what exactly you are looking for.  But if you like Batman, Kick Ass, or Punisher check these books out: 
By Lambert & Steininger.
Published by APE Entertainment

Or for something a little grittier with some mystical stuff.

By Lichius & Hardman.     
Also by APE Entertainment. 
s o if you like these, I can recomend more along those lines from about 30 different publishers :).
Posted by Mr. Fanboy

I second Scott Pilgrim. That's an excellent comic. I'm not sure where Dark Horse falls on the indy scale, but they have a lot of really great comics that are a bit off the beaten track when compared to the usual Marvel/DC fare (which I'm not dissing, by the way-I like the big two just fine). 
The Goon is an excellent blend of comedy, action, and horror, with a rather deep and epic storyline bubbling just below the surface. A mob enforcer runs an extortion racket in a nameless depression-era town while protecting it from all manner of zombies, ghouls and monsters set with the help of his angry midget sidekick. Great story, and phenomenal art.  The Umbrella Academy is another excellent off-beat kind of story, about  a group of super-powered individuals raised to save the world. Their father figure being a great leader but a crappy caregiver, the group grows up incredibly dysfunctional, but when their father dies, they come together one last time and end uaving to prevent a madman for ending the world with a song. Really unique art, and a great alternate take on the superhero genre.

Posted by CombatCraigFM

I agree about the Ultimate Universe. I always felt like I was missing out not reading Ultimates seeing as how most movie and TV adaptations use a lot from the Ultimate Universe, but I've spent all this time learning one universe and everything in it I don't want to have my whole world changed. Even if I do acknowledge that it's an alternate universe kind of thing I'll always compare it to 616 and get confused and frustrated.

Posted by .Mistress Redhead.
@aztek the lost said:
" interesting, you have some pretty obscure stuff in there, I'm curious to see what kind of reviews you'll be popping out in the future "
Posted by Duncan Idunno

Allow me to be the board cynic and issue a warning though: 
I really enjoy reading many of the indy comics out there, until they go into "hiatus" for MONTHS on end in the middle of 
a story arc or worse, in the case of limited series, with only an issue or two left.  Avatar, Aspen, and Zenescope have been  
the worst about this in my experience. That's an all too common practice with these companies.  I don't really consider 
Image to be 'independent' anymore, but even they've had some lapses in production recently. 
So enjoy these titles - just don't fall in love!

Posted by hrdwrkngXsoldier
@Duncan Idunno: 
 Many people lump Dark Horse, Image, and IDW into this indy territory. Completely misrepresenting what indipendent books are by doing so. Just because they are not the big 2, Marvel and DC, does not make them an independent book. Those three companies have a pretty good share of the market. They have enough of the market share that when the weekly releases are announced they get their own sub-heading for the titles coming out. If a company has 25-35 ongoings and graphic novels coming out a month on a consistant bases, they are not "indy" by any means. Those three companies are just as mainstream as the others, and have the rights to huge properties and franchises.

Dark Horse has Star Wars, Buffy,Turok, Hellboy, BPRD, Conan, Aliens, and Predator.

Image has Spawn and Savage Dragon. They are probably closely called indy becuase they take chances on discovering that next franchise more often than the others.

IDW has run away with the following of the nerd core wiht licenses on clasic franchises such as GI Joe, Transformers, Star Trek, Angel, and Doctor Who.

These publishers have access to more talent than most indi publishers whether it be artists or writers. They also have access to large printing companies and contracts with Diamond Distributions. They have toy lines, movies, and well established fanbases. But INDY they are not. 
What those other companies have started to offer, especially Image, is the oportunity to produce and release creator ownecd content an Ideas, whether it be via series mini, or graphic novel.  that is similar to what the 'Indy" companies do anyway.   This presence of creator owned content does allow these companies to have an independent flavor to their publishing lists.
Posted by -Eclipse-
@hrdwrkngXsoldier: Black Coat looks interesting, I'll look it up. And I'm into Batman not because it's dark, gritty or any of that stuff, it's just because I like the characters. I'm a fan of pretty much all the characters who have been or are currently Robin, Alfred is awesome and Batman has probably the greatest supervillains of any comic. Bruce Wayne himself doesn't really do much for me, funnily enough, lol 
I'm just more into the superhero aspect of comics, and as Marvel and DC own the term superhero, they are the best place to find what I'm looking for :P 
I collect the Pet Avengers, that should give you some idea about the kind of comics I enjoy... xP    
Posted by hrdwrkngXsoldier

I also read the pet avengers.  I'll be reviewing the newest unleahsed costarring Hairball 2 on monday. :)
Posted by MatchesMalone

The Walking Dead. One of the best by far!

Posted by IrishX

Nice write up. I'm mostly a Marvel guy myself but I also read a few other things.


The Neverland series is great and it's cool you added it. Currently from Aspen is a series with tons of potential - Lady Mechanika.