An Interview with Artist Zak Kinsella

meet zak
Ink and watercolor #MeetTheArtist piece

Fresh from Denver Comic Con, we met up with Denver comic book artist Zak Kinsella about his work, what inspired him as a kid, his views on how Denver is changing, and what’s next for him. Artist and writer on books like Midspace,” King Maul, and Outré Veil,  Kinsella’s wit, expression and honesty is what draws readers to his work. He has also worked for the Westword and The New York Times and has some exciting news about where he might be headed next.

Hush Comics: What made you want to be an artist?

Zak Kinsella: I think it really popped into me in junior high. I was always drawing beforehand. My mom’s an artist… Mostly it was just getting back into comics when I was in junior high, like X-Men. That really popped for me. I thought, “I’m going to start drawing these things. These comic books.”

HC: Did you start with drawing those characters?

ZK: Yeah. I had been used to drawing before so drawing outside in the real world, like life drawing, [I thought] “well, let’s try drawing some muscly dudes.” And then I realized I love it.

HC: How did you get started doing that professionally?

ZK: I decided I wanted to. I started putting out my own books and before I was an illustrator— a pretty successful one, too— and I’m a pretty successful one right now, too, but you get to a point in the road where you think, “Man, illustration’s really cool and I’ve done cool work but it’s still not comic books.” They have this really weird grasp on you. They’re really the road less taken and they’re way more fun than drawing for Men’s Health or something like that or even New York Times, which I’ve done before. I mean, that’s big name stuff but it’s still not [as] fun [as] comics. I didn’t want to be one of those people that was stuck in what they hated doing.

HC: What about comics inspires you most? What about X-Men inspired you as a kid?

ZK: I moved around a lot as a kid, but we grew up in Texas and I don’t like football, I don’t play sports [except for] swim team… so that’s kind of like the outcast. If you’re not playing football, you’re not accepted. [Reading] the X-Men as a kid it was like, “These guys are always getting crapped on while they’re trying to do a good job at something.” And that was like, “I’m on the swim team!” “Oh, great job. You don’t play football. Let’s punch you…” A lot of those themes are repeated throughout the X-Men, plus, with those comics they’re exciting because they’re not like a lot of the other mainstream comics. They deal with a lot of progressive feminism and acceptance and love and stuff that’s just really cool while all at the same time [there’s] dudes in tights punching each other. It made progressive-ism accessible to a young man. It’s not your typical power struggle fantasy. It straddles those boundaries but if you look at their best character Storm. I mean, she was punk rock Storm.

HC: Is she your favorite character?

ZK: No, I was actually more of a Nightcrawler [fan] and more than anything else I was a Cyclops fan. Everyone’s like, “Okaaaay,” but I love that guy. He gets the job done. Everyone thinks he’s a tool but tools get the job done.

zak kinsella
Zak Kinsella at Denver Comic Con

HC: You seem to illustrate for a lot of projects in the science fiction vein. What do you like most about that genre that keeps you coming back for more?

ZK: It’s what I grew up on. X-Files was a big thing for me, but also growing up as a kid I used to read these things called, Time Life’s Mysteries of the Unknown. They were just these dumb books about the outer limits. Twilight Zone was a big thing [for me and so was] In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy. All those things and then, a healthy dose of British science fiction on PBS. I lot of these things came from my mom, honestly. We’d watch Doctor Who thirty years before anyone followed it. [We thought,] “Oh, Doctor Who sounds pretty cool.” [I also liked] the obvious stuff like Star Wars. A lot of that stuff is influential. Science Fiction does such a great job of critiquing humanity while being like, “Hey, this takes places with robots in outer space.” It’s just cool.

I feel like [in my own work] I feel like I have much more of a creative license. I can make stuff up. “I have no idea what this planet would look like. Let’s just make it up. What the hell.” I also find space to be a very romantic backdrop. Like in The Final Frontier, there is so much space unexplored. You can’t even believe what we’re going to run into out there and that leaves infinite possibilities for storytelling.

HC: What’s it like working with a comic book writer? Can you explain that collaborative dynamic?

ZK: I’ve had a couple of good experiences and a couple of bad experiences. Sometimes their excitement can bleed into anxiousness and then they’re always bugging you…

HC: Kind of feels like they’re nagging you?

ZK: Yeah. I mean, it’s exciting and it’s something we’re both stoked to work on together, but I have to balance the book I’m working on right now with freelance work… But it has to be a collaboration or that sort of thing just sort of starts to grow like a cancer in a friendship and kills it. I had a really trying experience with that last year. I had to walk off a book, and I have no regrets about that. It was just too much for me.

HC: It’s a lot to deal with. You both are sort of demanding on each other.

ZK: Well, yeah because you want it to be the best and put your best foot forward, otherwise what’s the point? But, you have to set boundaries. I’ve left a couple of books like that where I’ve said, “Look, this isn’t working unless we figure this stuff out. We gotta put our big boy pants on and deal with this.” I generally like working with writers, but I’ve also come to realize that I’m pretty good at writing myself, so that’s why I’ve started branching out. I wouldn’t not recommend [working with a writer.] “Never work with a writer,” that’s dumb!

HC: What’s your favorite type of collaboration? What dynamic do you prefer?

ZK: Last year when I worked on King Maul I worked with a guy who used to be an editor for Marvel and it was a great experience because he knew when to lay off and when to put the pressure on… Someone who knows what they want to do and is free to let me experiment a little and find my own voice in the mix [is what I prefer] because I find that if it starts off as collaboration and then ends up with me just getting told what to do then it’s like, “Well this kind of sucks. I don’t have control over how the story’s going to look. I’m not trying to change plot parts of it really, but I like to have some sort of input into where it’s going.” That’s really the best part of it. If you’re just going to be a gun for hire, then I don’t see the point. You need to have room to spread your wings. I’ve known a lot of guys who get in there and do big books for big companies and it just leaves them emotionally drained and they’re like, ‘I want time to do my own book but I can’t afford that,’ so they kind of paint themselves into a corner. But it’s changing, so that’s good.

HC: How do you feel like it’s changing?

ZK: I can kind of trace it to Image [Comics], really. All that Walking Dead money? They’re like, “Yeah, let’s put out some cool stuff and get some real big creators in to do it.”

HC: They do a lot of indie stuff.

ZK: [Laughing] But not like “sad-bastard-depressed indie.” To put it subtly. That kind of indie is good too, but… They’re like a television station that’s not like Syfy… You’ve got a variety of things.

HC: There’s an Image comic for everyone.

ZK: I’d say so.

HC: You say on your website that you sketch and ink by hand and color digitally. Why do you prefer that method?

ZK: I like to make a mess. No Wacom stylus is ever going to give me the same feeling that a brush does. Really with art, whatever tool works for you, good, you know? If you’re going to use Manga Studios to make your comics, cool. That’s awesome. It’s just not for me… I use a lead holder and that helps give me brush lines with my pencil. My pencils aren’t too tight anymore, either. The brushes do the heavy lifting. I would have to change my pencil style if I ever got an inker. I just love the feel of the brush. That’s honestly all it is. With coloring digitally, I’ve been using a lot of watercolor lately and ink wash and graphite. You can manipulate those in different ways to get different types of texture with your digital coloring as well… Digital also allows me a physical piece I can sell to someone afterwards and I do sell a pretty decent amount of work at conventions and online.

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HC: I love your “Disappearing Denver” piece. What struck you personally about Five Points that inspired you to draw that?

ZK: When I first moved there a couple of years ago it was still pretty grim and gritty, if I can relate it to comic book terminology. But the thing about that place is it had so much class. A lot of the buildings are just beautiful. It reminded me a living in the South.

HC: How so?

ZK: Just the architecture style and the fact that’s it’s not all white washed [but] now it’s becoming gentrified.

HC: I really hate a lot of modern architecture.

ZK: I do as well. I find it to be absolutely ugly, lego, Chipotle architecture with only mutual colors. I think a bigger part of it is people come in and they don’t respect the culture of the area. I chose that neighborhood because the rent wasn’t too expensive at the time and… I used to go to a lot of warehouse shows and Larimer Lounge shows. Monkey Mania was over there. That place was cool. I was so sick of being in Highlands Ranch or Littleton and the only person of color you’d see if mowing a lawn, you know? It’s like, “Dude this place f***ing sucks, man.”

Now…it’s just a breeding ground for violence with people coming out of the Rockies games drunk… My neighbor’s been there since 1942. His family has been in that house next door and some of the stories he has of the neighborhood changing over the last 60 years is just gonzo. So, you start to lose that sense of history and love and culture. That’s what brought it around for me. I just thought it was sad… And that’s the cool part about comics is that I can make a comic about that and have it speak as loud as anything else out there… Art should be a pipe bomb… A lot of people who complimented that strip said, “Wow, this is what’s going on. This is exactly what’s going on.”

HC: I read an article in Westword that mentioned your involvement with a comedy show called “Picture This.” Can you talk a little bit about that collaboration?

ZK: It was really cool. They’re a touring comedy troupe. They’ll do a set of standup comedians and have an artist pair up with each of them and they animate their set live. I did really quick sketches. I had the opportunity to work with Adam Cayton-Holland… I love standup. It’s awesome. I think comic book artists and comedians share some of the same— not saying great qualities but— we love this and it doesn’t pay a lot… but it’s what we’re going to do… A comedian has a totally different set of tools [than I do] and they have to be up in front of people doing it, which is…[ He shakes his head, his eyes wide with faux fear.] Nope, nope, nope…. Adam did like ten minutes of standup while I was drawing right behind him to kind of mimic that. We were rifting off each other. It was pretty cool. We have very similar senses of humor and tastes…

HC: Was that nerve-racking to be in front of people?

ZK: No, I was off in the corner. He would point out to me and he’d ask me [something] and I’d draw in response. It’s so cool because [Holland] has a TV show on True TV now… and he’s from here. It’s freaking awesome… That was a lot of fun. I can’t wait to do it again, actually. It was a little nerve-racking but at the same time it was pretty cool. I just worked at Rock Comic Con drawing live in front of crowds so that doesn’t bother me anymore. [It’s the] same thing with conventions. I’ll do commissions while talking to people. I have no problem drawing anywhere at any time anymore.

HC: Why do you think most of your audience is female?

ZK: I’m not afraid to talk to people without that judgmental tone, like “You haven’t read Superman #238 where he rides a robot?” Like, who cares?

HC: I feel like a lot of nerds try to play gatekeeper. Like, “shut up. There was a time when you didn’t know anything about this, that or the other thing.”

ZK: Right, and that’s the thing with gatekeepers… [There was] that kid who had [a] Doctor Strange thing who was saying, ‘Oh man! They’re making a Doctor Strange movie! Awesome!’ and the dealer kicked him out of his booth because he didn’t know anything. Like, what kind of a short sighted dipshit are you to say [that?] Instead, “Oh, you want to know more about him? I’ve got 40,000 books about Doctor Strange. Dip in on this, bro.” [He said something like,] “Ugh. Get out of my booth you unworthy maggot!”… If I was at that convention I would have gone and taken a dump in that guy’s booth. “F*** your elitism.” Right? I won’t deal with it.

Outre veil

HC: I’ve been told you have some exciting news. What’s next for you?

ZK: [He hesitates.]

HC: Are you not allowed to give away any big news yet?

ZK: I guess I can talk about my experiences with what I’m working on right now. I went to Emerald City Comic Con and Vertigo was giving out appointment times. They were like, “Hey, come pitch to us. We’re looking for new people,” basically. I got one by the end of the show and at the end of the show I went there and I pitched something that I’m working on right now called Outré Veil… and they liked it a lot so they gave me their card to follow up with them. For the last three months you can go through a workshop process with the pitch. Ends up Vertigo decided not to do Science Fiction. They were like, “We’re going to pass on this. However, we might want to use you as an artist here soon, and we’re open to more ideas from you.” So I’m working on another one with them right now. But I’ve got some buddies who want to do some books for me as well, too so I’m working on a pitch for another company right now and that one I definitely can’t talk about. That one’s pretty exciting. It’s going to be really cool.

I just want to get Outré Veil done and I’m working on a book about my uncle, too… I had never done comics [that are] autobiographical because I was like, “This is a bunch of sad sack of shit.” I respect it, but it’s not for me. And then I went through- it wasn’t a bad breakup but it was really tough because it kind of came out of nowhere. I was like, “This sucks.” So, I started going to Denver Drink and Draw and one of my buddies there was like, “Why don’t you make a comic out of this?” and it just came out of [that.] I love that group because we challenge each other. And it’s always an open environment. There’s no real shaming [or] judging… So I put out a short comic just trying to work out my feelings and it went over really well. If you think putting your artwork out there that’s about chimpanzees in space… it’s nothing compared to putting something out about someone you have a breakup with… It was a huge, huge thing to do. But when I put it out, I got a lot of, “Wow, this is awesome. What’s next?”

And then it just kind of hit me, “Man, I should make a book about [my uncle] Dan.” You’re just trying to suss out your feelings about things. Growing up, he had a lot of issues like ADHD and drug addiction, you know? And finally, as he was cleaning up his life- spoiler alert- he dies in a motorcycle accident. He died instantly, which was kind of nice. I always decided to do it in a sketchbook format. It’s tiny. I come here [to City ‘o City] and I work with Noah Van Sciver a lot. He’s been doing all his comics that size so I thought, ‘Why don’t I do them like that?’ It’s been really good.

HC: I feel like creative non-fiction affords a lot to both the author and the reader.

ZK: Yeah. I’ve been thinking of doing more personal ones not so much about death as well but dating right now is such a shit show with all the apps and being broken up with over text and stuff like that. Are you all just devolving? What’s going on? I’m trying to make it so it’s not whiney and awful.

HC: Honest but not “Woe is me!”

ZK: Right, because you read so many comics that are like that on the alternative press. It would be nice to have something that’s indicative of the times right now that someone can look at 50 or 40 years back and think “Alright. That’s how it was.” Separating the ego from the artist can be an uphill battle. It’s like reading a Hemingway novel. It can be like walking through mud, reading that guy’s prose. It’s just tough.

HC: A lot of literature romanticizes pain. A lot of authors don’t have a bullshit detector. That’s why I like stuff like The Fault in Our Stars or Juno. It talks about heavy stuff but it doesn’t romanticize it.

ZK: There’s nothing romantic about this. It just kind of sucks. How do you make this point of “this is hurting. This sucks,” but also to be optimistic? To be like, “Look, it’s not always like this,” and I’m having a lot of fun [drawing about pain] but holy shit, this can be draining. And that’s how comics are. This is tough, man.

You can find out more about Zak Kinsella and his work on his website, Facebook page, tumblr and DeviantArt page.

All art and photos belong to Zak Kinsella.

Comic Book Reviews 12-03-14

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

Detective Comics #37
Detective Comics #37

Detective Comics #37 – A

It could be the name, or the silly costume he had in the 80’s, but Anarky has never been taken seriously as a villain. That all changes in Detective Comics #37, thanks to a great set-up story by Francis Manapul and phenomenal artwork by Brian Buccellato. This creative team has completely resurrected the series and their work is just as morbid and suspenseful as it is visually stunning. There’s also a bit of Gotham Central flowing through its veins, as a large chunk of the story follows Harvey Bullock – a heavily misused character in the New52. This is the perfect jumping on point for a new reader, so if you’re willing to take a gamble that you might actually enjoy a Batman book that doesn’t have Snyder or Capullo on it, this is the one to bet on. – Sherif

Other Reviews: 

Dark Horse Comics:

Hellboy and the BPRD #1 – B

Sadly, the prequel to the Hellboy we should all know and love left me unsatisfied. While I’m sure this series will really find its roots and become grounded, I am not so impressed, but still pretty interested. The first issue moves slowly, which I understand is necessary for exposition, it just didn’t quite grab me the way I wanted it to, being a big fan of Hellboy. There were definitely some hints of way more interesting things to come, what with conspiracies and the origins of why Rasputin summoned Hellboy, and some sort of big bad down in a Brazilian prison. I’m sure this series will take off, and I’m very excited to see which beasties present themselves, the first issue just didn’t hook me. Perhaps that is because Hellboy himself had barely any “page time.” Panel time? He was barely in the book and he said almost nothing. It was kind of disappointing, to say the least. Either way, I still have mostly fond feelings for this book, but that could be because of my existing love of the character and possibly a fool’s faith that I know this will turn out awesome. – Keriann

Aliens vs. Predator: Fire & Stone #3 – C

It took approximately 10 issues for a so-so issue of Fire and Stone to hit comic book shelves. Now that the shock value of witnessing the after effects of direct contact with the mysterious, black alien-goo has passed, there’s a little more room to scrutinize the other aspects of this very well-conceived story arc.   First off – this issue is solid! I liked it. It lives up to its predecessors well and continued to hold my attention. The only reason I graded it the way I did is because none of this seems to fit anymore. I could be missing something, but it seems like the events occurring on the Geryon aren’t apart of the Fire and Stone storyline anymore. Yes – the accelerant is crazy. Yes – you all want to kill each other. I’ve got all that down already. I wanted more surprises and twist and continuity. Like I said – it’s still wildly entertaining, but feels pretty aimless. There’s only one issue left in the AVP portion of Fire and Stone. It undoubtedly will be a gory and unsettling bloodbath. High five!!! – Taylor

DC/Vertigo: 

Secret Six #1 – B+

(B+) Gail Simone is back, and not only is she working on another DC title, but it’s the New52 reboot of one of the best titles out. Gail Simone’s Secret Six was extremely revered by the entire spectrum of comic book fans, so when I heard that it was being rebooted, I couldn’t wait to read it. The team is a bit different than in the original, although Catman makes a return. The rest of the misfit team is rounded out by other obscure characters that hope to add some flavor to the mix; Strix from Simone’s Batgirl run also makes an entrance. The first issue doesn’t reveal much, but there’s a Suicide Squad vibe, as well as a little Saw thrown in for good measure. If this can prove to deviate from what’s already out there, I have no doubt that Gail Simone will do great things with Secret Six. – Sherif

(B-) Color me intrigued. I can’t help but feel like the general set up is a familiar one (Is this a B-List Suicide Squad?), yet I’m pulled in just the same. This comic is mostly plot set up, a touch of story, and absolutely no character development. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and hope the story and characters will come later this being a serialized medium and all. The art is a little involved for my taste but that’s more personal preference than anything else. I must admit: I never followed the original Secret Six. As such, I have no idea who these characters are, but I’d definitely like to know more. – Moke

Batman Eternal #35 – B-

Through nearly nine months of Batman: Eternal, one thing has become abundantly clear – this book does not need 52 issues. More of a drunken ode to the Dark Knight, Eternal has rolled more eyes than heads. Finally though, we’re getting to the juicy stuff. Jason Bard is more than meets the eye, and it seems like we finally get to find out what that is. Maybe, eventually. It sounds very promising but I don’t know that we won’t continue to get jerked around for another dozen issues before we figure out what’s really going on because there are just too many convoluted storylines taking place on top of one another. I’m still convinced this mega-story can shock and awe, but less convinced that they needed 52 issues to do it in. – Sherif

Gotham Academy #3 – B-

While this book can get very tweeny, the art is incredible, and the reason for the high grade this month.  At times it feels like Thomas Kinkade may be going under a pseudonym and drawing/coloring this book.  I cannot get over the scenery from panel to panel.  It really never misses a beat.  The colorists, Geyser, Msassyk and Serge LaPointe, should be HIGHLY commended on their contribution to the art of Karl Kerschl.  And while I do find the story more apt for a 12 year-old girl rather than a 27 year-old woman, I also have to realize that I am a 27 year-old woman who is still reading comic books.  That being said, the story involves a lot of boy problems, but I like that this group of misfit teenagers is like a Scooby-Gang, and who doesn’t love a Scooby-Gang?! – Adrian

Wolf Moon #1 – C

(B) Personally, I liked this book.  Because it is a Vertigo title, it gets the DC flavor, but with an “Image” twist, if you will.  Wolf Moon follows Dillon who is on the hunt for a werewolf.  But not just any werewolf; this one jumps from host to host from month to month.  I have never been too big on the werewolf story, but this one intrigues me, particularly because Dillon was infected himself once.  Hence his mission.  The art, particularly the coloring, was clean and crisp.  This is a mini-series, so if you are looking to get into comics, but don’t want a big commitment, I suggest starting here.  Plus it feels like a mix of Buffy/Angel/and Supernatural.  – Adrian

(D) Eh, the art really sucks. Sorry to be such an ass about it. Everything is so vague and quickly drawn that I can’t really get a feel for the environment, the setting, or the characters. I can’t even really see what the character reactions are to one another. Just disappointed. The cover art was amazing, but the rest of the book doesn’t live up to it. And the story isn’t much better. Trite, cliché, and boring. It kinda reads like a bad spin off episode of Supernatural. I almost gave up on it after four pages. It does get better towards the end, the story that is. But I don’t know if I’ll have enough cares to read the next one. – Jené

Dynamite Entertainment:

Shaft #1 – A-

I won’t lie; when I first heard that Dynamite Entertainment was coming out with a Shaft series, I was worried that it would be just like the recently-resurrected IDW comic book, Black Dynamite, only not funny. Well, Shaft proved that it doesn’t need to rely on simple-minded humor to make a story. And it’s easy to forget that Shaft was one bad man in the days of pulp movies and Blaxploitation that his courage to stand up for himself and fight had more of an impact than a Whorefanage ever could. This is the origin of John Shaft, and you should care because it’s not only entertaining, but inspiring. – Sherif

Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 – D

I don’t get the point of modeling the comic off the 1970’s version of Battlestar Galactica at all. Maybe I just can’t appreciate the retro feel to it, but I’ve always liked the newer version of Apollo compared to his previous counterpart. Whether it’s my thing of yours, it does still capture the essence of a throwback comic, and for that, I have respect for what the authors are doing with it. At first it seems that fleet haven’t been in contact with the Cylons for a while, and everyone is enjoying a level of peace, which is until, dunt, dunt duuuuhhhh they’re still being hunted by them. The title and the trite dialogue between Starbuck and Apollo give the plot away and with it takes my interest. This comic was meh. A take it or leave it read. – Jené

IDW Comics:

X-Files Season 10 #19 – B-

A new artist and a new story arc come into X-Files this month! I have to say I absolutely love Tom Mandrakes style of art from the get-go, but it does change drastically from panel to panel where the likenesses of people very easily disappear if he draws them from a certain angle. As far as story, we get lots of the Cigarette Smoking Man, Some daddy issues with Mulder, and a super drug created by the government called G-23 and of course Langley from the Lone Gunmen wants to try it. This sets up what could be an insane story and be exactly like they say in this issue, “…stranger than the plot of any Cheech and Chong movie.” I would definitely try and pick this issue up as it is a good place to jump into this series and will likely be the craziest arc yet. – Jacob

Image Comics:

Nailbiter #8 – A

The last issue of Nailbiter eluded to there being bees this month and they did not disappoint. There were bees, but I was kind of expecting some new serial killer who kills people with bees! But what I got was a weird old man in a basement dissecting bees to learn their secrets while singing a children’s song to himself. Insanely creepy, but not quite what I was expecting, and yet still good – as always. Nailbiter is a book that, so far, has not let me down when the new issue comes out. The main storyline was hashed out a little more this month as Finch continued his quest to find out what happened to Carroll, and the townspeople of Buckaroo begin to band together in a false fashion against whatever it may be that makes serial killers out of its residents. It was not the most action packed issue, and this time around there was basically no gore which to me is just a testament to how great the writing really is. Joshua Williamson keeps me captivated, what can I say? Well, I guess I can say this series is great and you should be reading it. – Keriann

Birthright #3 – B+

The third issue of Birthright all but makes up for the slower pace of the last issue. This time around, I got completely hooked again. There was finally a face to face introduction to one of the bad guys that Mikey must face in Terranos, and some terrifying fantastical beasts. I began to worry about this series because I found myself not so interested in the Terranos story, the characters seemed kind of unlikeable and I just kind of felt bad for poor basically kidnapped Mikey. I still feel bad for Mikey, but the Gideon kids seem less like cliché jerks and the universe in itself just feels much more exciting. I really like the way the book is split between the modern reality and flashbacks to Mikey’s life in the alternate realm, the transitions are really well timed within the storyline. I could ramble on, but it may be easier to just sum things up with this: Birthright is awesome, and I’m excited to read it. – Keriann

The Humans #2 – B

The Humans, for being a book about a bunch of murderous drug-addled biker chimps screwing each other, is charming. It clearly smacks of 70’s animation, particularly the Ralph Bakshi variety, that featured animals as human analogues in all their boozing, drugging, sexing glory in a way that makes it feel like 70’s noir, if such a thing exists. Not just that, its use of colors and lines sticking to Earth tones and an economy of line where just enough is given to make the chimps emotional and relatable. It manages that balance struck by things like Godfather and Vikings where you care about beings who are, by all accounts, garbage people. Issue 2 was a good read; we don’t really know who Johnny is or his significance to the group, but he’s back from Vietnam and he’s miserable. And what’s the deal with the chimp that, apparently, carts a human sex slave with him? There’s some subtle horror buried there. – J.H.

God Hates Astronauts #4 – C

(B) I will be really, really sad when this series is over. God Hates Astronauts has been and continues to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. From cover to cover, I wear a gigantic smile. On the pages were I’m not smiling I’m laughing hysterically. Even the goofy advertisements and the “fan” content at the end are great. There are a few consistency flaws in the story – maybe not flaws – more like grievances. Some of the character storylines have nothing to do with the events of the upcoming war. In fact, most character storylines seem to have no connection to the greater event at hand. The part of my brain that generates laughter hopes this means spinoffs and continuations! And ultimately, it really doesn’t flipping matter (I think I said that last review). Even if these events and people are just randomly sewn together, it still makes for a very entertaining read. I can’t wait to read the next issue titled “All Out War!” I never thought I’d say something like this but, I’m actually really looking forward to this war. – Taylor

(D) Ugh. What the hell, God Hates Astronauts? What the hell? I feel like Ryan Browne has written a comic that’s review-proof. I can’t help but feel 2 things: 1. Browne is desperately trying to be Axe Cop without the five year-old writer that makes Axe Cop interesting. Without that, I feel like this book is full of the world’s worst commentary on… nothing? 2. I know the current releases are a sequel, or at least a second volume. Does the first explain anything about what’s happening to me? Does anyone read this and get it or think it’s funny? Please for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus say something! Convince me why this deserves an A and not an F! Because as good as the art can be, and as close to funny as the writing gets (without ever really crossing over), I can’t help but feel this book deserves a D, at the most. – JH

Marvel:

Angela – Asgard’s Assassin #1 – A

 I love bad-ass things. I also love women. Hence, I was quite smitten with the premiere issue of Angela – Asgard’s Assassin. I picked up this comic this week for no other reason than because the word “Assassin” is in the title – honestly! I had no idea who Angela was or where she came from or what her abilities were. But after reading just one issue, I can tell you she is a very infection character. Her past is rich (of which we get a brief glimpse) and she has impressive skills. She’s no nonsense, very lethal and has a very rigid mind-frame. The bounty hunter/highest bidder angle she wears on her sleeve (if she wore sleeves) is way cool and adds depth to her character. I generally enjoy Thor & Loki based stories; I mean, who doesn’t?! But after strong reflection I, personally, have a new top contender for favorite Asgardian (just one issue!!). This one is a solid read people. – Taylor

Deadpool #38 – B

Well, good ol’ Zenpool, as he is being called, is helping everyone and politely asking for names and writing them down on a list. Yeah, not the normal Deadpool you are used to but it sure gives us an interesting take on The Faux-Men, Shikla, the evil X-Men and Avengers, and Deadpool himself – being the most at peace while the planet is in utter chaos. In this issue, we see Deadpool trying to escape the X-Mansion with the Faux-Men and trying to get them to safety and also trying to work on things with his wife, Shikla. The latter of which is really not working out with the whole save the world without violence Deadpool we have. Mike Hawthorne does a great job on the art and the vintage cover done by David Nakayama is awesome! I would say definitely pick this one up as this story arc is definitely proving to be another great one by Posehn and Duggan. – Jacob

Thanos vs. Hulk #1 – B-

Let’s get to it already!!!! Ok, ok, ok, I get it; the big rumble probably won’t come until much later, but I’ve got to say… I really don’t care too much about the setup of this story. I just want to see them fight!!! The grown up in me really wants to understand how these two are going to match up evenly, but my inner twelve-year old really just wants to see the carnage. Nothing bad to say about the art, and the panels between Maria Hill and Tony Stark are sure contenders for funniest panels of the week…. But who cares!? I only signed up to see Hulk smash!!! – Moke

Legendary Star-Lord #6 – C-

Star Lord is the new Indiana Jones – and not just in what he does, but in popularity, too. That is the only reason Marvel can pull off an entire episode where Quill is on a date with Kitty Pryde’s hologram and must make all the moves while ducking various mercenaries trying to collect a bounty on his head. Or at least they can try. This issue was so fluffy and boring, and the humor is laid on thicker than the frosting on a grocery store white cake. It’s sad because I actually dig the relationship between Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde, but it’s one that doesn’t need to be forced – and one that is served better as a side story in a team book (ala Guardians of the Galaxy or All-New X-Men). – Sherif

Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3 – C-

I have not been the biggest fan of this series at all; although, it does seem to be getting better with each issue. We are following a group of super-powered being made to try and recreate Wolverine and in this issue they are trying to track down Sabretooth to get information and maybe some help. Ultimately, we get some insight into the characters you still don’t know or care about, but it finally brings the story to a point where I would say you should try and read this issue if you want the whole Death of Wolverine story; still, I would not recommend it to anyone not trying to read every Wolverine thing now. – Jacob

Funniest Panel:

Secret Six #1
Secret Six #1

 

Panel with the Most Awesomeness:

Birthright #3
Birthright #3

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Oni Press, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.