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Evan Shaner/Dynamite Entertainment
Evan Shaner/Dynamite Entertainment

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Evan Shaner/Dynamite Entertainment
Evan Shaner/Dynamite Entertainment

Every Wednesday, I highlight the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, Comixology, Kickstarter, and the web. These are not necessarily reviews insomuch as they are me pointing out new comics that are noteworthy for one reason or another. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. Flash Gordon #1

Written by Jeff Parker; art by Evan "Doc" Shaner; colors by Jordie Bellaire
Dynamite Entertainment

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Flash Gordon, Dynamite Entertainment is launching a new series with a rebooted, modernized version of the character. The new book is written by Jeff Parker who has already introduced this Flash Gordon in the pages of the recent Kings Watch mini-series which featured The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, heroes from the pulp era of the '30s and '40s.

This new Flash Gordon is a thrill-seeking, bungee-jumping cast-about who is an embarrassment to his father but adored by his fans (and sought after by reality TV producers). He's surrounded by the familiar supporting cast including Dale Arden, a television reporter on the science affairs beat and Dr. Zarkov, a hard-drinking Russian scientist. The first issue gives us a little glimpse of their backgrounds and their previous lives on Earth but otherwise jumps right into the action on the planet Mongo as the three are pursued by henchmen of Ming the Merciless.

Many Dynamite comics seem to have a particular "house style" with realistic and sometimes over-rendered artwork. For these, the publisher has been upping its artistic game. Evan "Doc" Shaner is a perfect choice for this comic; his style succeeds in balancing detailed realism with a more classic cartooning style that honors the look of old news strips by greats like Alex Toth, Al Williamson, and Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond. Jordie Bellaire, the book's colorist, deserves the same plaudits for straddling that line between retro and new with the color palettes she uses throughout. Even when viewed on screen, they look like they're seeping into newsprint.

Read a preview of the first few pages of Flash Gordon #1 here.

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2. All New Ultimates #1

Written by Michel Fiffe; art by Amilcar Pinna
Marvel Comics

In the aftermath of the recent Ultimate Cataclysm mini-series, Marvel's Ultimate Universe has been greatly altered. The world has been left in shambles after a disastrous attack by the world-devouring Galactus. Major heroes died and the teams that make up this long-running alternate Marvel Universe, The Ultimates and The FF, no longer exist as they once were. The appealing aspect of the Ultimate Universe is that dead is dead and change usually seems to stick, unlike in the regular Marvel Universe. With cities like New York now pretty much disaster zones, crime is running rampant, and a new team of Ultimates is needed.

If the original Ultimates were The Avengers, then this All New Ultimates seems to draw some cues from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's popular but recently ended Young Avengers. This new group is made up of a diverse cast of teenage heroes including: Spider-man (not Peter Parker, who is dead in this universe, but Miles Morales), Black Widow (not Natasha Romanov but a female clone of the dead Peter Parker), Cloak and Dagger, and reformed villain and former X-man Kitty Pryde. It's worth noting that there is not one white, male character on this team.

The creative team for All New Ultimates is made up of two up-and-coming talents: Amilcar Pinna, a Brazilian illustrator who's previously done the mini-comic Banana Frita and Michel Fiffe, a writer who created his own highly acclaimed superhero comic Copra (see the next item on this list), which has been lauded in the indie comics circuit.

Here's an unlettered preview of All New Ultimates #1.

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3. Copra #1

By Michel Fiffe
Self-published

The comic that put All New Ultimates writer Michel Fiffe on the map is a self-published, high octane superhero adventure called Copra. It's about a team of heroes-for-hire that go on the run after their last mission goes horribly wrong and leaves half their squad dead and an entire town obliterated. Inspired by DC Comics' classic Suicide Squad (the series was born out of a Suicide Squad fan-comic Fiffe made called Deathzone), Copra features a similar cast of expendable mercenary types working with a government handler who is very reminiscent of Squad's Amanda Waller.

Fiffe has been writing, illustrating, and coloring a new 24-page issue of Copra every month and selling them on his website. It has developed a huge fan following and has become a critical darling of comic bloggers, making plenty of best of the year lists in 2013. The first issue of Copra, with only 800 copies ever printed, is long sold out but Fiffe recently made it available to read for free as a webcomic. Unfortunately, most of the other issues are sold out as well but hopefully Fiffe will find more ways to get this book out there.

The best part about Copra is the DIY nature of its aesthetic. Fiffe's drawings seem rough at first glance but are wonderfully staged and remarkably dynamic. His action scenes are as good as any you'd see in a comic from Marvel or DC. The best part about it is his unorthodox but sparing use of color on top of cream-colored paper. It brings together the world of superheros and the aesthetics of indie comics in a really enticing way.

Read issue #1 of Copra here.

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4. Lumberjanes #1

Written by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson; art by Brooke Allen
Boom! Box

Boom! Studios recently created an imprint called "Boom! Box" to allow creators working on their licensed properties like Adventure Time to find a place to publish their own stories. The first comic in this imprint was Ryan North's The Midas Touch and this week sees the latest, Lumberjanes, from writers Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson and artist Brooke Allen. Stevenson is a popular webcomic creator known for her award-winning Nimona. Ellis worked with Boom! Editor Shannon Watters to develop this concept, which they have described in terms of mixing elements of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gravity Falls and Scooby Doo.

The series follows a group of girls at summer camp solving mysteries and saving the world from giant yetis, three eyed wolves, and other supernatural threats. Brooke Allen brings a lot of energy to this with her artwork which is very reminiscent of Faith Erin Hicks in its manga-influence.

Here’s a preview.>

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5. Batman Eternal #1

Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV; art by Jason Fabok; colors by Brad Anderson
DC Comics

DC is a big proponent of the weekly comic, having had success with it in 2006 with 52. Lately, with the easy deliverability of digital comics, more and more comic makers are experimenting with a weekly schedule despite the high investment needed from the reader as well as staggering multiple art teams to keep up the pace. This year, DC plans two big new weeklies. The New 52: Future's End, is set five years into the DC Universe's future, and this week they launch the much anticipated Batman Eternal.

Batman Eternal will be a year-long series, shepherded by regular Batman series writer Scott Snyder but written by a team of writers who will alternate story arcs for the duration of the book. This series will start off with a time jump and then work its way towards showing you how things got to that point. The plan is to explore various aspects that make up the vast world of Batman: the "Bat Family", the assortment of villains, and Batman's relationships with supporting characters like Jim Gordon.

Here's a preview of the first issue.

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6. Cosplayers

By Dash Shaw
Fantagraphics

Fantagraphics is typically known for their high-end, bookstore-friendly graphic novels and coffee table collections of classic comic strips, so it's nice to see them release an actual comic book. Cosplayers is a 32-page one-shot by Dash Shaw about two teenage girls who enjoy cosplaying and shooting guerrilla-style YouTube videos.

Shaw is known for his longer comics work like the 700+ page literary tome Bottomless Belly Button or his art comic endeavors like Bodyworld and last year's The New School, but this seems to be a more light-hearted, yet still artistically experimental, effort from him.

Fantagraphics has some preview images here.

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Pop Culture
Cheerleaders and Chicken Suits: Funko is Releasing Several Special Edition Deadpool POPs!

Marvel’s “Merc With a Mouth” is not only getting a sequel—he’s also getting some new swag. Deadpool, the sardonic superhero/villain in red spandex, will soon be immortalized in a new line of special edition Funko POP! vinyl toys.

In keeping with the franchise's eccentric sense of humor, there will be several outlandish outfits to choose from, each one sold exclusively by a different retailer. Among the outfit options Funko lovers will find are a mermaid get-up (complete with starfish bra) at Target; a cheerleader uniform for BoxLunch; a king’s robe and crown at FYE; and a chicken suit for Amazon shoppers. There’s even one of Deadpool holding a chimichanga while wearing ninja gear for 7-Eleven.

These parody dolls seem to be keeping in character with the Deadpool films, which themselves are parodies of the superhero genre. The title character, played by Ryan Reynolds, often breaks the fourth wall in order to poke fun at both DC and Marvel. (The filmmakers also famously signed off on spending $10,000 for a quick shot of the unlikely superhero wearing a tank top with Golden Girl Bea Arthur's face on it.)

The figures will be out this summer following the release of Deadpool 2 on May 18, 2018. Funko also recently released its royal family line of POP! dolls, depicting Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Elizabeth II, and her kin.

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Pop Culture
20 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Locations You Can Visit in Real Life
Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

While most of Marvel Cinematic Universe is magically brought to life on sound stages, the box office-busting superhero movie franchise also makes use of real-world locations around the world to bring its stories to life. Here are 20 Marvel Cinematic Universe movie locations you can visit in real life.

1. WARRIOR FALLS // BLACK PANTHER (2018)

Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Connie Chiume, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, and Daniel Kaluuya in 'Black Panther' (2018)
Disney/Marvel Studios

If you want to be the next king of Wakanda, you have to challenge the current king to ritual combat at Warrior Falls. While close-ups and action footage of Black Panther’s Warrior Falls were filmed on a soundstage in Atlanta, Georgia, establishing and wide shots were filmed at Iguazu Falls, a water system on the border of Argentina and Brazil in South America.

2. STARK INDUSTRIES // IRON MAN (2008)

After three months of being held captive by a terrorist group in Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to the United States and gives a press conference about his ordeal at Stark Industries HQ in Los Angeles. However, the press conference scene was filmed on location at the headquarters for Masimo, a medical technologies company based in the city of Irvine. The company’s offices have also been featured in Transformers (2007) and Dodgeball (2004).

3. CULVER UNIVERSITY // THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008)

In The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is a nuclear physicist and biochemist at Culver University in Willowdale, Virginia. For the film, the campus of the University of Toronto was used for the fictional school, while Morningside Park in Scarborough, Ontario was used for the university’s quadrangle. The park was the main filming location for General “Thunderbolt” Ross’s (William Hurt) attack on the Big Green Guy.

4. RANDY’S DONUTS // IRON MAN 2 (2010)

In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark—in full Iron Man armor—lounges inside the large, iconic donut on top of Randy’s Donuts when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) meets him to talk about the Avengers Initiative. The exterior of the real Randy’s Donuts location in Inglewood, California was used for filming, while the interior of the scene was filmed at Yum Yum Donuts in Playa del Rey, about 20 miles away.

Randy’s Donuts has also been featured in Get Shorty, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, Earth Girls Are Easy, Dope, and episodes of Arrested Development.

5. COUNTY HOSPITAL // THOR (2011) 

As soon as the Mighty Thor arrives on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) immediately hits the God of Thunder with her van. She rushes him to a small county hospital in Santa Fe. The production team used an office building called the Toney Anaya Building in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the hospital’s exterior.

6. PIER 13 // CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)

After small and skinny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is transformed into the tall and hunky Captain America, a HYDRA infiltrator steals the super soldier serum and speeds away through the mean streets of Brooklyn, New York. Instead of filming in the borough, the film crew simply used the exterior of the Titanic Hotel at Stanley Dock in Liverpool, England for the climax of the chase scene at Pier 13.

7. LOKI’S PLATFORM // THE AVENGERS (2012)

In The Avengers, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is in Germany when he delivers a rousing speech about humanity. In real life, the scene was filmed just outside of Tower City Center on Cleveland, Ohio’s Public Square. (You can actually see the city’s iconic Terminal Tower in the background.)

8. NEPTUNE’S NET // IRON MAN 3 (2013)

In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark has a panic attack when he’s signing autographs for fans at a seafood restaurant called Neptune’s Net. While there is a real Neptune’s Net in Malibu, California, the scene was actually filmed at Dania Beach Bar & Grill in Dania Beach, Florida. The production moved from California to Florida because the real Neptune’s Net is located on the Pacific Coast Highway and it would’ve been virtually impossible—not to mention expensive—to shut down the busy highway for filming.

9. OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE // THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)

In Thor: The Dark World, the climactic battle between Thor and the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) takes place at Old Royal Naval College, located on the south bank of the river Thames in Greenwich, London. Thor even asks a confused subway rider how to get to Greenwich after he’s transported away from the fight.

Due to its popularity and cinematic look, Old Royal Naval College has also been featured in Cinderella (2015), Skyfall (2012), The King’s Speech (2010), Les Misérables (2012) and Netflix’s The Crown.

10. THE MALL // CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

When Captain America and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are on the run from undercover HYDRA soldiers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the superheroes hide in plain sight at a mall in Washington D.C. However, the scene was not filmed in the nation’s capital; it was shot on location at Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

In fact, much like The Avengers, most of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was filmed at various locations in “The Land” (Cleveland’s nickname), including the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland State University, the Cleveland Arcade, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and Pilgrim Congregational Church. Even the city’s highways were used to film the movie’s exciting chase scenes, namely the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway over the mighty Cuyahoga River.

11. XANDAR PLAZA // GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

While Guardians of the Galaxy takes place on the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a few real-life landmarks and buildings were used during filming. Most notably, the Liége-Guillemins Railway Station in Liège, Belgium was used for the centerpiece of Xandar Plaza, where the group of alien misfits are arrested at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy.

12. HYDRA RESEARCH BASE // AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

At the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the titular superhero team fights their way through a forest in the fictional country of Sokovia. Their goal is to retrieve a Chitauri Scepter and the Mind Infinity Stone from inside a castle-like HYDRA research base, which was filmed at Fort Bard (or Forte di Bard) in Bard, Aosta Valley, Italy. The old fort was used as an outpost to protect the valley from Napoleon Bonaparte during the 19th century. Fort Bard is currently the location of the Museum of the Alps.

While Fort Bard was used to film the exterior, England’s Dover Castle was used to film the interior of the HYDRA research facility.

13. MILGROM HOTEL // ANT-MAN (2015)

After he is released from prison, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) moves into his former cellmate Luis’s (Michael Peña) apartment at the Milgrom Hotel in Ant-Man. However, the real filming location was the historic Riviera Hotel on Jones Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. It was originally built as a luxury hotel in 1907, but now serves as low-income housing.

14. THE AIRPORT BATTLE // CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)

In Captain America: Civil War, the epic showdown between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America takes place at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Schkeuditz, Germany. The airport was also the location for other movies, such as Flightplan (2005) and Unknown (2011).

15. EXETER COLLEGE // DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

When the villain Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) conjures a dark and mysterious spell from the Book of Cagliostro in Doctor Strange, he contacts Dormammu of the Dark Dimension. He recites it inside of the chapel at Exeter College in Oxford, England to seek revenge on the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

16. DAIRY QUEEN // GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017)

At the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock) and Ego (Kurt Russell) pull into a Dairy Queen in Missouri in 1980. That Dairy Queen is actually the location of BB’s Cafe, a restaurant in Stone Mountain, Georgia, about 20 miles outside of Atlanta.

17. FORESTS OF ASGARD // THOR: RAGNAROK (2017)

In Thor: Ragnarok, Heimdall (Idris Elba) leads a large group of refugees through the forests of Asgard to find sanctuary in the mountains. A majority of the superhero movie was filmed on sound stages in Australia, while Tamborine National Park and Cedar Creek Falls in South East Queensland were used for Asgardian forests and waterfalls.

18. MIDTOWN HIGH SCHOOL // SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) attends Midtown High School in Forest Hills, Queens. The production team for Spider-Man: Homecoming used Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, New York as the exterior for the fictional high school, while Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia was used for its interior.

19. MUSEUM OF GREAT BRITAIN // BLACK PANTHER (2018)

In 2018’s Black Panther, we meet the film’s antagonist Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) while he's viewing African art and artifacts at the Museum of Great Britain, a stand-in for the British Museum in London. Instead of traveling to England, the film’s cast and crew filmed the scene at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.

20. SHAWARMA PALACE // THE AVENGERS (2012)

At the end of The Avengers, Iron Man remarks that he’s never tried shawarma after he spotted a shawarma joint while flying around Manhattan during the Chitauri Battle. During the last post-credits scene, we find the very exhausted superhero team chowing down on the yummy Middle Eastern treat.

Director Joss Whedon filmed the scene at the then-Elat Burger (now Shalom Grill), located at 9340 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. To keep the scene a secret, Whedon filmed it a day after the film’s world premiere, when the entire cast was in Los Angeles.

Fun fact: Sales of shawarma rose in Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Boston following the release of The Avengers in May 2012.

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