1. I can’t say enough good things about Afterlife With Archie.

    To say that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla were able to do something that people maybe thought wasn’t possible isn’t accurate. I think they did something nobody else thought to do and they are doing better than probably anybody else could. After a brief absence, how could I not choose Afterlife With Archie #6 this week?

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    Picking up, in a way, where issue #1 left off, we finally get to see what has been happening to Sabrina since she seemingly set the events of this series in motion or at least helped complicate and exacerbate what had already happened. Francavilla’s art is stunning. Moody and dark, he finds a way to make each page feel cinematic. While not being overly detailed, he is able to convey exactly what is going on in each panel with a simplicity I’d liken, at times, to the work of Alex Toth. However, for such heavy uses of black, Francavilla maintains a highly saturated color palette that would be difficult to juxtapose for many other artists or artist teams. For me, this is moody visual storytelling at its very best.

    If I admit to having initially picked up Afterlife With Archie for the art I’ll also have to admit that I’m sticking around for the story. Archie! I eagerly await the release of a new Archie Comic! I never would’ve imagined that but this book tops my stack each Wednesday that it’s released. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has somehow managed to modernize these characters and stay true to who and what they are intrinsically. We aren’t losing any of the humor, the innocence, or naivete of this universe. He hasn’t taken a dark turn just for the sake of making it dark. In many of today’s comics, film, and television adaptations, so many properties are simply grim for the sake of being grim without really driving the story. Here, Aguirre-Sacasa has shown what happens to these bright, generally wholesome and good characters, when darkness is thrust upon them. The result is some of the most unique, compelling, and frankly surprising stories on the shelves.

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    I’ve chosen to crack open a can of Modern Times Beer’s Blazing World. This seemed like a fitting pick for today for several reasons. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has managed to bring a comic company that has been around for over sixty years into well……..modern times. That isn’t to ignore the fact that Archie Comics has made some other forward thinking decisions prior to Aguirre-Sacasa’s arrival such as the intorduction of Kevin Keller etc., but with Afterlife they have reached a much more mainstream, possibly jaded, and adult audience. Rightfully appointed as Archie Comics’ Chief Creative Officer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has modernized a decades old property, hopefully exposing it to a new (and wider audience), while reminding longtime comics readers that Archie is still relevant and has a place among today’s top comics.

    Modern Times’ Blazing World is as well thought out and classy as its beautifully well-designed packaging suggests. This 6.8%ABV amber, when poured out of its pint-sized can, has a stunning coppery color and a slightly malty caramel aroma. A shallow head that quickly disappears reveals a perfectly balanced beer that I think nails what hoppiness should be. Maybe I’m being seduced by the almost earthy pine notes but I feel like this beer is a nice summer alternative to the citirusy beers flooding the market this time of year. Brewed in San Diego, this beer seems like an appropriate choice for the week of San Diego ComicCon. If I have time, I may have to swing by their tasting room this week.

    Afterlife With Archie and Modern Times Beer’s Blazing World, two reasons why Wednesday is THE BEST DAY OF THE WEEK!

     
  2. New business cards.

     

  3. The Legendary Star-Lord #1 hit shelves today! When I read about people looking for a good jumping on point for a character or team, this must be the kind of comic they dream about. In one issue, Humphries is able to establish who our hero is, with a balance of backstory and current predicaments, unlike I have seen in many comics since picking this habit back up. The issue reads like a sitcom with well done cut aways and asides that don’t slow or bog down the pace of the story. Oftentimes, I find that many writer’s attempts at humor take you out of the story for a second because the jokes feel forced or too calculated, like they’ve been saving that joke and just plugged it in there. Humphries demonstrates that he is such a perfect fit for a character like Peter Quill because he doesn’t do that. Peter’s dialogue and sense of humor come across naturally and effortlessly which makes him read like a charming lead and not a series of punchlines with a smarmy face. Opening with a flashback and closing with a cliffhanger, the first issue of Star-Lord wraps up quite nicely making me eagerly anticipate the next issue. Humphries seems poised to take on the existing Star-Lord continuity and expand and enrich it in a way that fans of Marvel’s cosmic heroes have wanted and deserved but might not necessarily expect.

    Not to be overlooked is the art team on this book. Cutting his cosmic hero teeth on Nova, Paco Medina delivers some really clean and clear art(that I think could be the best I’ve seen from him at Marvel) which is only enhanced by the tight inks of Juan Vlasco and brilliant color work by David Curiel.

    My beer pick this week is part of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series(quite possibly the best “labeled” beers on the market). Its called Gruit. Yes, Gruit. Pronounced like “Groot.” How could I resist?

    Gruit is great! Funky. But great. It has a lot of the qualities I typically like in a saison which makes it seasonally appropriate as well as appropriate in name for this week’s comic pick. Brewed with a mix of horehound, bog myrtle, yarrow, wormwood, and elderflowers, this beer juggles a lot of flavors and does it quite elegantly in my opinion. And yes, that does say wormwood for any of you absinthe aficionados. I typically like to enjoy my beer with the right food but there is something to be experienced by having Gruit just by its slightly bitter, velvety self. At 6.66% ABV, it comes in a 1 pint 6oz bottle so when you’ve finished The Legendary Star-Lord #1 you’ll have plenty left to enjoy with Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon #1, also out today.

    Something to note this week is that this is the first new offering from SHumphries in a while. The writer has hinted at a few projects coming down the line on his Tumblr and if Star-Lord is any indication of the types of stories he is planning to tell you should probably plan on Sam Humphries dominating your pull list in the coming months.

    Legendary Starlord #1 and New Belgium’s Gruit, two reasons Wednesday is THE BEST DAY OF THE WEEK!

     
  4. T is for Tempus.

     

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    This week…! Image Comics’ Deadly Class #6 by Rick Remender and Wes Craig and Anchor Summer Beer. This is something of an exercise in contrasts.

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    Still in Las Vegas, a lot of what has been building over the previous five issues comes to a head in this final issue of this great new series’ first arc. For having such a dark tone and premise, Remender successfully interjects humor throughout this series that for me is reminiscent of the John Hughes movies of the era this story takes place in(though I doubt Remender would appreciate that comment) while being decidedly modern in its appeal for a contemporary audience. I was won over by Marcus pretty much right away and have fallen for the supporting cast along the way. No spoilers, but that didn’t make this issue any easier to read. I’ve become used to Remender doing things differently with properties I already know and love over the last couple of years and its been a real treat to get back to some of his original creator owned work. Deadly Class really isĀ  something unique among what is out there on the shelves and I am eagerly anticipating issue seven.

    That is in no small part due to the beautiful work of Wes Craig. He has a just-so-slightly gritty quality to his work that works with the dark tone of the book while maintaining a level of youthful energy mirrored by the cast. His subtle, limited color palettes help tell the story almost as much as the drawings themselves. They’re just beautiful. Taking on triple duty, I am in awe of his ability to keep this pace. Its no wonder that, much like a far more traditional type of class, Deadly Class won’t be returning until September. Its going to be a bummer of a Summer without this book. Speaking of Summer……….

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    My beer pick for the week is by contrast, far lighter than Deadly Class. Anchor Summer Beer seemed like an appropriate choice for a few reasons. First of all, this is the first official Wednesday of the Summer. Second, today, while definitely on the warm side, has been intermittently foggy, albeit not quite as foggy as this beer’s “birthplace.” Third, Anchor is brewed in San Francisco, the city where this first story arc of Deadly Class began. And lastly, the first brewing and bottling of this beer took place in 1984, just three years before our story takes place. Seemed like a clear choice to me.

    Crisp and light, Anchor Summer Beer was the first wheat beer to be brewed in the US in something like seventy years. All the yeast has been filtered out leaving this beer clear and crisp, not at all cloudy like the city on the bay. Being a wheat beer it is, you guessed it, pretty wheaty, but give it a minute and you may even get hints of subtle malty banana. At only 4.5% ABV, this dry finishing thirst quencher is a perfect light pick for a warm summer day filled with reading and relaxing. Deadly Class and Anchor Summer Beer, two reasons why Wednesday is the BEST DAY OF THE WEEK!

     

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    The Wicked + The Divine is finally here.

    I have only been back to the comics game for a short time and I have to say I don’t think that I have looked forward to a release as much as this. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the team behind Phonogram and Young Avengers deliver something that I feel to be particularly unique amongst the offerings on the shelves today. Somehow, anticipation and all, this book managed to exceed my expectations. With all of the publicity that Image Comics and the creators themselves applied to this release, Gillen’s story, at least for me, managed to be the most effective marketing tool, at least for subsequent issues. The ambiguous elements throughout the book, not to mention the cliffhanger ending, have sold the rest of the forthcoming issues in my mind. I expected this to be a solid offering from one of the best creative teams in comics but they still managed to surprise me.

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    Jamie McKelvie manages to deliver character depictions with a consistent visual identity that few working artists today are able to achieve. Not only does he tell the story visually with an expressiveness that shows rather than tells, but he does so with a consistency that allows the reader to instantly identify a character regardless of external cues like hair or dress. With his work, it is the FACES that you recognize, and they are incredibly expressive faces at that. There is a clarity that doesn’t sacrifice richness in his work that I find quite admirable.

    I found myself changing my mind for my beer choice this week at the last minute. The vibrancy and richness of Matt Wilson’s color work is just as important to The Wicked + The Divine as McKelvie and Gillen’s contributions, in my opinion. I first became aware of Wilson’s work on Young Avengers and have sine been impressed at his command over mood and lighting. At times, he can use incredibly saturated colors without making things appear plastic or cheap and instead creates rich, vibrant, imagery that I think many colorists today unsuccessfully attempt. At times his color palettes are risky but he always manages to demonstrate how adept he can be at making it work.

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    For that reason I switched to Unibroue’s Ephemere(the apple, specifically). Given the nature of some of the characters in The Wicked + The Divine, I thought the name happened to be rather apt as well. At only a 5.5% ABV this crisp white ale with an incredibly mild effervescence has in hint of granny smith apple and ginger that feels like and appropriate mimic to WIlson’s color palette and good companion for this warmer early summer weather. The bottle is big but this debut issue clocks in at over 30 pages(for only $3.50!) so I managed to make a sizable dent in it.

    Unibroue is responsible for a line of quality beers that set it apart from other labels. There is an elegance to the variety of offerings from them not only in taste but in presentation. A fitting pair for Gillen and McKelvie who often grab you with a pretty presentation but wow you with content (cheesy enough?). They have managed to create something that is both light and bright at the same time mysterious and rich in a potentially ominous and dark way, part of what makes this Wednesday the BEST DAY OF THE WEEK.

    BOTTOM LINE: Pre-order this book and tell all of your friends to do the same. I have a feeling its going to be worth it.(And if you move quickly, you may even be able to snag a great variant cover by Bryan Lee O’Malley)

     

  7. Hello! This week’s comic pick is David Quantick and Shaky Kane’s That’s Because You’re a Robot from Image Comics. This irreverent tale follows two cops, Matt and Jeff, through a strange futuristic version of Los Angeles. We experience our heroes successes and failures while they argue about which one of them is actually a robot. I really don’t want to give away too much.

    I initially picked this up because of Shaky Kane’s bizarre art (think psychedelic Geoff Darrow) but was happy to find the writer was BAFTA winner David Quantick (who has written for VEEP, in my opinion, one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV). To describe Kane’s art as Darrow-esque psychedelia isn’t entirely accurate but its hard to pin down a description for this work. The most honest way to describe his work is to simply say it is fun. Certainly a breath of fresh air amongst mainstream comics. The flat even use of color sometimes makes scenes a bit difficult to read but that extra time is rewarded when you find the comedic nuggets hidden throughout the scenery. His double page spreads (including the bonus pin-up) and splash pages are a particular treat albeit a bizarre one.

    I’ve chosen Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Reboot this week to enjoy along with That’s Because You’re a Robot. Reboot is a reissue of a white IPA they released a couple of years ago. I thought the name and label were a fitting companion to this week’s comic. This is a great beer that I think brings all of the refreshing qualities you want from a beer in warmer months while highlighting some of my favorite elements of food and drink from cooler seasons. Reboot White IPA, with a 7.4% ABV, is a cloudy, yeasty, citrusy treat with (in my opinion) mild clove element that eventually dissipates leaving you with a dry almost lemony finish and lingering mild hops. I know this is a fall season offering but I was lucky enough to find one and I have to say, with the warmer weather this week, Reboot is just as satisfying in the early days of summer as it would be in the fall.

    Image Comics’ That’s Because You’re a Robot from David Quantick and Shaky Kane along with Kansas City’s own Boulevard Brewing Co. Reboot White IPA are two reasons why this Wednesday is THE BEST DAY OF THE WEEK!

     
  8. S is for Sunspot.

     

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    So I figured, why not have a little fun with it. There are so many fantastic beers on the market and with the interest in craft beer the prevalence of single bottle sales makes it so easy to try something without committing to a larger purchase. I’m not claiming that this is a beer pairing segment of my blog per se, but with all of the great beers available I thought that I could at least pick a comic for the week and find some brew that loosly relates to it.

    This week I picked Marvel Comics Amazing X-Men #8. I’m starting something new here with Hops & Heroes so I thought it was only appropriate since Craig Kyle and Chris Yost are joining Ed McGuinness for a new run on what has been a fun series so far. I’m relatively unfamiliar with their work but if this issue is any indication of what they plan to do, I plan to stick around. Plus, I’ll never skip an opportunity to see some Ed McGuinness art.

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    This issue takes our heroes to Canada where Alpha Flight, one of my all time favorite teams, seems to be having a bit of a Wendigo problem. We also see the return of Colossus, another one of my favorites, to the school.

    I thought it only appropriate that I should crack open a bottle of Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Yeti. Established in 1994, Great Divide makes what I consider to be some of the best beers in the country right now. The Yeti is an imperial stout that, true to character, is a roasty, hoppy, and malty treat with an ABV of 9.5%. That might be a little much for some so maybe have a snack handy. This is definitely a big rich beer that never disappoints.

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    Amazing X-Men #8 and Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Yeti Imperial Stout, two reasons why Wednesday is THE BEST DAY OF THE WEEK!

     
  10. R is for Rogue.