Benjamin Bartlett and Jeffrey Homan
Benjamin Bartlett and Jeffrey Homan
Cover Art by Jason Mooers
Interior Art by Marcelo Salaza
Additional Design, Graphics and Layouts by Jeffrey Homan
Special Feature: The continuing story of the Ziffits by Bill Diamond Productions.
Oh, our poor buds of bud! In this third issue of The Toking Dead, Toby and Duke are still infected and they aren’t looking any better, that’s for sure. WAY on their way to full weed smoking zombiehood. The guys, along with Piper (who has remained unaffected), are trapped in their building and still surrounded by pot smoking zombies. Who are desperately trying to get in the place, by the way.
The trio’s goal is to get to their dispensary “Weed B Here” in the hopes that they still have product left. They worry that the store and supply have been looted by the zombies because, remember, pot calms these zombies and chills them out. Lord only knows if they have the amount of product needed to hold these crazy things off. So, they are trying to save their stash, or what’s left of it.
Now, I’m not going to tell you EVERYTHING that happens in this issue because, well, that would be crazy. Talk about being a spoil-sport. However, y’all know me, and there ARE a few parts I want to highlight.
First, Toby constructs this massive, super-steamroller blower machine that would put ANY marijuana smoker straight on their ass. (He tests it on Piper, it’s hilarious!)
Next, we find a more…developed, shall we say, form of the zombies. I wouldn’t call them progressive by any means, they are complete barbarians and full of the most violent of tendencies. (Personally, I think Toby should blow them away with the steamroller blower!)
We have also established a running joke in this series. You have to have read the first two issues to get it of course, but it’s that small addition of real-life humor and reference to laziness that makes me laugh every time. It adds a certain personalization to the series that practically ANY stoner, pot smoker, medicinal users, whatever you want to call them, can relate to. It’s something so common and so minor in thought at the time, yet carries such heavy consequences later. So, adding the real-life struggle and humor of that fits as the realistic balance in the plot to me. It’s part of what melts the fiction with reality.
Piper is becoming more and more feisty as time goes on. She’s the epitome of the wild and brash, smart mouthed hot chick that people love to taunt but never really have the balls to fully push her buttons and make her explode on them. Yeah, that’s Piper.
We also have a few new characters introduced in this issue. No, I’m not going to tell you who they are, that would be giving stuff away, spoilers, hello!
However, as the trio spend more time together and the stress keeps piling up, their smartass jokes, snappy comments and humor that is sometimes dark and other times, delightfully disgusting, are firing out of each other’s mouths like bullets fresh from a gun barrel, fast and hot.
As usual, the guys did not disappoint in this issue. And as usual, I recommend this comic book and the series. Every time I finish an issue, I’m on pins and needles waiting for the next one to get to me! Not to mention that I love it and the guys and their team so much that I was gifting The Toking Dead comics and gear all Christmas. It was definitely a Toking Dead Christmas for a lot of my loved ones. And they thought it was awesome. (There’s something about coming from a smaller area on the outskirts of a metropolis and supporting small and private businesses that really makes me feel like we are helping to make a difference in real people’s lives, helping them with their livelihood, supporting their families, supporting their dreams. That’s how it should be for all us “little guys”. Some of the best restaurants are the little hole in the wall type joints. Some of the most talented people are working regular jobs and pursuing their passions in what little free time they have. Some of the most creative and amazing things are found at flea markets and swap meets. It doesn’t always have to be a big name, a big box store, part of the top 1%. There’s room for everyone in this world. All the skills, all the talents, all the dreams and the passions. And it can be done without hurting a single human being, without hurting a single soul. IF we all make some room and realize there’s enough clients, customers, money, real estate out there for everyone. Yes, NOW, I will step down from my soapbox.)
To get this issue you can visit the Etsy store for The Toking Dead at the link below:
To get updates and news from The Toking Dead you can visit their social media:
The guys have also started a radio show. You can download LIVE365 for free and listen in to Hellfire Radio every Friday and Saturday night at 6pm (CST) to hear the guys on their own show:
“Still Toking With”.
In this three-part series we have what has been determined over time to be the basic formula for good horror.
Teenagers + Sex + Bad Decisions + Drugs and Alcohol+ Road Trip = TRUE HORROR
I mean, we really do have the majority of the key elements to what makes a successful horror story.
In THIS story, a group of six friends embark on a road trip to the mysteriously famed Bridgewater Triangle. According to Massachusetts locals, Bridgewater Triangle is the site of a number of unexplained paranormal activities. Rumored to be overwhelmed with giant snakes, UFO sightings, ghosts and hauntings and just pure evil and vengeful creatures, the six college freshmen set out to seek the experiences they have only heard about.
One of the six is participating in the excursion because he is fascinated by the myths and legends surrounding the Bridgewater Triangle. The others are basically along for the ride and to get high, get drunk and get laid. Tent sex, for all but maybe two people, is top priority.
Once they get there, things start to get weirder and weirder. Naturally, the group starts to branch off into couples to have a little privacy. But tent sex isn’t the only thing going on at these camping grounds. Now, it’s all about myths, truths and survival. Who gets laid and who gets DEAD?
You’ll have to read to find out.
I really enjoyed this three-part mini-series. I think if I had to choose a favorite issue out of the three it would be the third. I like the writing in that one the best, and the artwork is excellent in all three. Yet it is probably the best in issue #2.
I do get a kick out of the use of the basic horror formula and the basic horror rules. That makes it feels like classic horror, especially with the urban legend aspect. All put together, it does have an extra special creep factor that is sure to satisfy you horror fanatics.
RATINGS #1 RATINGS #2 RATINGS #3
Overall 5/5 Overall 5/5 Overall 5/5
Artwork 5/5 Artwork 5/5 Artwork 5/5
Story 5/5 Story 5/5 Story 5/5
Hack/Slash 15th Anniversary Special
Cover A by Tyler Walpole
Cover B by Tim Seely and Carlos Badilla
This issue was a multi-story issue, having three different stories, and funny joke comic section and some very cool extras.
“Your Darlings Kill You”
Written by Tom Seely
Drawn by Dan Leister
Colors by Carlos Alberto Moreno Diaz (p.1-10), Andrew Dahlhouse (11-20)
Letters by Crank!
This story starts out at a Comicon and goes from there. It has murder, blood, gore, action, violence and fantastic sarcasm. The story itself is good as well. But it definitely read very well. It involves Cassie and a villain that wants to replace her.
Written and Lettered by Brian Crowley
Art by Jules Shapiro
This story was short. A quick read and almost sad. Cassie is chilling with Vlad. She’s asking her friend to kill her when she is ready to die. I was like, “WTF?”. How depressing are we trying to get here. Geez.
Written by Sam Eggleston
Art by Jay A. Defoy
Colors by Addison Duke
Letters by Crank!
This was my favorite story out of the three. It had the best comedic value. There was plenty of fabulous bloody gore and action. A quick read with perfect set ups for dirty jokes and dark humor. Cassie and Vlad are a dynamic pair in this story.
Compiled by Jeff Bohn and Gregory Ellner
Deign by Crank!
This is a collection of random facts about the Hack/Slash series. There’s always interesting stuff in those kinds of things.
Compiled by Gregory Ellner
Design by Crank!
This is a timeline from the first Hack/Slash publication through the years up to current, showing special editions and collections, etc.
“Shit My Vlad Says”
Compiled by Jeff Bohn
Design by Crank!
This was a funny section. It’s a section of illustrated Vlad-isms. It’s really short and it’s great for a laugh.
Overall, this was a great special issue. There were good stories and even better sarcastic and dark humor. The artwork varies but overall, it’s good. The artwork for the first and third story is the best. The second story, I’m sorry, it just kind of makes you want to jump off a cliff, especially in the current global and national situation. That’s why I preferred the humor. Story two got all serious and dark. It was like an illustrated Emo journal entry in the middle of a comic book.
This one, I have to say, you really are only probably going to like it if you already read Hack/Slash. It was a slightly more expensive issue than a regular monthly release issue. Still, if you’re a fan, you should check this out.
Daphne Byrne #1
Chapter 1 “Chosen”
Written by Laura Marks
Art by Kelley Jones
Colors by Michelle Madsen
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Cover by Piotr Jabłoński
Variant Cover by Yasmine Putri
Daphne Byrne created by Laura Marks and Kelley Jones
This was an interesting first issue. Daphne is a strange and unique young girl. She is teased relentlessly at school. It definitely makes the days long and lonely for her. It’s just Daphne and her mother. Her father is dead. And this poor little girl…her mother is just totally obsessed with going to some medium who claims she can speak to people in other worlds.
This mother just feeds this medium money and believes everything the psychic tells her. One day she takes Daphne with her. This is where we find out just how different and unique Daphne really is. We also find out how smart this child is.
Daphne challenges the medium to test her validity. A very smart and slick move on her part.
Daphne also figures out that she is the one that can actually speak to and see people from another world.
While this was the first issue, so an introductory issue, it was a good issue. I have a feeling this is going to be a very creepy and eerie series. Daphne is like an Emo version of Wednesday Addams. There is a definite chill factor in the way the art and the story are presented.
I do think this is going to be a series worth checking out. Especially if you like paranormal/supernatural type stuff. All of the stuff that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up…I think this series is going to be chocked full of that and so much more.
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artists: Angel Unzueta & Jose Luis w/ Scott Hanna
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Kyle Hotz & Dan Brown
Variant Cover Artist: Skan
In this issue we get just a little more information. But not a lot.
First off, Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, is not only the Mayor of whatever fine little town this takes place in, but he’s also taken the liberty of making himself Interim Warden. (Ummm, can we say power hungry, inferiority complex maybe?)
What’s worse is his top executive staff:
An entire staff of villains running a prison insane asylum??? No. This won’t go bad at all.
Needless to say, Jameson strongly disagrees with the new staffing arrangements and wants to leave. But Fisk has that covered and blackmails him to stay. It just deflates all of John’s aspirations, like letting the air out of a balloon.
Grizzly is still feeling like a monumental failure because of his beat down at the hands of Ant-Man and then, just to add insult to injury, Ant-Man offered him a job. So not only did he kick Grizzly’s ass but then he pitied him so he offered him a job. So sad. So Grizz is talking about all of this in group therapy sessions. But, some of the other non-conformist type inmates consider him a sell-out and decide he needs to be taught a lesson.
Then, just to throw in an extra special curve ball for good measure, someone named Dr. Kafka appears at the front gate in the middle of the night. Only thing is, she’s supposed to be dead. (Not quite sure they sure offer to let her come inside for tea and scones if you know what I mean…)
So, I expect now that the stage is set, in issue three we will start seeing some action. We better with all these villains locked up together. Does that even logically make sense? Let’s put the worst of the worst all together in one prison and I bet you anything not a one of the will conspire to do anything wrong or break the rules. Not a one.
The genius who came up with this plan, like the geniuses who came up with the bright ideas of Stalag Luft III in WWII and Alcatraz as a federal prison, should probably just be taken out and shot. The bullet will be a lot cheaper than what it’s going to cost to fix all the problems that are about to arise from housing these evil morons altogether in one place. But, what’s the fun in that, right?
The writing and artwork are still very well done in this issue and make it worthwhile to read. I do hope you enjoy these when you pick them up. So far, I am.
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Angel Unzueta
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg, Dono Sánchez-Almara
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Kyle Hotz & Dan Brown
Variant Cover Artists: Kim Jacinto & Rain Beredo, Ryan Brown
This is going to be an interesting series, to say the least. Allow me to demonstrate by creating a mental image for you. Picture this:
Ravencroft (just the name is eerie, is it not?). The mental prison hospital where all the really crazy bad guys and psycho villains are incarcerated. Now, apparently this place has long existed. But something happened and now it has been rebuilt, to the max. No holds barred; no expense spared. Top of the line and state of the art all the way, through and through, top to bottom.
At this psycho sicko pizza party works one Mercedes “Misty” Knight. She’s been a police officer; something called a Daughter of the Dragon and a Hero for Hire. (Sounds pretty positive to me.) Her actual position hasn’t totally been fully defined yet, but she seems to be like some sort of administrator/counselor to the inmates. This job not only allows her to interact with prisoners and staff, she also acts as eyes and ears for whoever it is that is running this crazy carnival.
This includes keeping her sights on Security Consultant Agent John Jameson. Here’s where I get a little confused. Jameson is the Security Consultant but he’s also attending group therapy sessions at the hospital with the other inmates looking for reform. And boy, are they a bunch to behold. There’s this one guy they call Grizzly, he got his ass spanked by Ant-Man and now he’s having some sort of emotional and mental breakdown because of the slam to his ego and his masculinity that follows being whooped on by an insect that people literally flick off of themselves like little specks of disease. So, Grizz is feeling a little down in the dumps.
But it’s not so much the inmates at this prison that are the problem. It’s also the staff.
Amazingly, this was one of those first issues that made you immediately feel the need to read issue two. So, I did. Review for that will be coming shortly. Unfortunately, not a lot happens in this first issue, it’s an intro issue. So, we just get to meet the characters and see where it’s all going to go down. I have to admit though, I think this is gonna be wild. We’ve got some interesting characters making some major appearances here.
I liked this issue. I wish it moved a little faster but it’s an introductory issue, you know how those can go. So, here shortly I’ll have the review for #2 posted and that will give you a little more information about the story.
Now, for the writing itself. It’s great. I also love the way Marvel gives you little reference boxes telling you where to refer to if you want to see when that particular character/plot story line got its first appearance.
The artwork is pretty damn good guys. I like it, I gotta tell ya. The covers are different than the inside artists but they still draw quite the eye. The color palette is fairly muted. The colorists seem to use the more vibrant colors for impact and emphasis, rather than just using them for striking color and flashiness on the pages. I’m really excited to see where this series is heading. A bunch of criminal maniac villains all locked up in one place. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
Story by Rodney Barnes
Artwork by Jason Shawn Alexander
Colors by Luis Nct
Lettering by Marshall Dillon
Main Cover by Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis Nct
Black Friday Cover by Francesco Mattina
LCSD Cover by Jason Shawn Alexander
Okay, as the first issue there really isn’t a whole lot, I can tell you. You guys know starter issues are difficult because they either have a ton of information or very little stretched through twenty-five or so pages. This would be the latter.
What I have deduced thus far is that we have a father and a son. Both are cops in Philadelphia. It’s also very apparent they don’t get along or see eye to eye on pretty much anything. I don’t know why they would go to work at the same precinct. You’d think they would try to distance themselves from each other with the kind of animosity that seems to brew between them, but it also seems like they each feel they have something to prove. To whom, I don’t know.
The father is investigating the possible existence of vampires in Philly due to contraction of Yellow Fever. The thing is, he believes he’s traced the source of the original infection back to former President John Adams.
While yes, this seems like a very outlandish idea, you gotta admit, it’s creative. And farfetched as it may be the writing style is pleasantly unique. This writer is able to use different writing methods to distinguish changes in time and place, between first and third person, seamlessly, letting it all flow together. Though it’s obvious some of the dialogue is narrative and some is present tense, it’s so easy to follow and distinguish between the two that you can blaze through this issue in a matter of minutes.
The artwork is something I also found to be different on an enjoyable level. It IS a bit dark in general in color and hard to identify different characters at times, but the artist is still a talented individual and should be given their due credit for good work when it’s deserved. You can’t ever please everyone with one thing. So, I give them props.
But it’s the story and the dialogue that let you know who is who in each interaction and in each situation brought up as the story progresses.
So far this was an interesting enough first issue that I want to continue the series. I already have the next two or three so I will be reviewing those when I get to them. But this one DID catch my attention and is now on my radar. Well done gentleman.
Writer: Kami Garcia
Artists: Mico Suayan & Mike Mayhew
Letterer: Richard Starkings of Comicraft
Cover by Francesco Mattina
Joker Variant Cover: Mico Suayan
Harley Variant Cover: Mike Mayhew
In THIS series, it’s all about Joker and Harley and their interaction with each other, obviously. Harley holds ill will towards Joker for killing her wife. Yes, her wife. The murder fits the same signature of other Joker murders, one of which was their downstairs neighbor and study buddy.
Five years later she is helping the Gotham PD find and capture the Joker. Now she goes by Dr. Harley Quinn instead of Harleen Quinzel. Even though she is a valuable asset and has helped close a number of cases for the department, Dr. Quinn is laughed at by the department’s detectives. None of them take her seriously and they continue to harass her with insults and demeaning comments. This doesn’t seem to really get to her as she is a tough chick. She’s a criminal psychiatrist and behavior analyst. She’s got hard core independence and a take no shit kind of attitude. And she seems to know her stuff.
The Joker has gone underground, off the grid, having vanished after committing a particularly horrific murder. Therefore, we don’t actually get a Joker appearance in this issue.
However, the artwork in this issue is fantastic!! Some of the panels are black and white and some are in color. The ones in B&W are phenomenal with a shattering spot on use of shading to accent every facial expression, every wrinkle in the clothes, every shadow. The bold contrast has a strong impact when put together with the text in those panels. The color panels, now those look almost like oil paintings and I’m almost certain they used live models for a lot of them.
One small problem I did have with this issue, and yes this might be nitpicking, was that the writer gives the wrong definition for criminal insanity. It bothers me because DR. Harley Quinn is supposed to be really good at her job and she gives this definition while giving a presentation. I feel like it takes away from her credibility as a character. So, we’re gonna have another quick little lesson.
First of all, the term ‘insane’ only exists in the legal profession. Medical and/or mental health professionals don’t use the term ‘insane’. Now, to be declared “legally insane” you must meet one of the following criteria:
You were not capable of determining right from wrong at the time the offense was committed.
You were unable to determine and understand the consequences of your actions at the time the offense was committed.
The author writes that “a person is considered criminally insane if, at the time of the offense, they were not in touch with reality to know they were committing a crime or if they could not stop themselves”. This is not only a gross oversimplification, it’s also incorrect.
So, now, hopefully we’ve cleared that up.
I will say that I did really dig all the true crime references in this issue. Those were pretty accurate which is why the above problem was so annoying to me. But it didn’t make me like the issue any less.
Any Joker and/or Harley Quinn fan will like this series. I’ve already got the next book ready to read. I’ll get the review up once I get through issue two. But this is definitely a series worth getting.
Story and Art by Stjepan Šejić
Letters by Gabriela Downie
Cover and Variant Cover by Stjepan Šejić
This is a series from DC Black Label dedicated to the backstory of Harley Quinn and her first interactions with the Joker.
In this series, we meet Harleen Quinzel, before she is Harley Quinn, before she meets the Joker, before her life becomes a circus.
We find her as a doctor but not yet working with Joker, not yet trying to decipher the code inside the whacked-out mind in the world of the curious clown. It’s a biography of sorts, leading up to where she meets Joker and first gets mesmerized by whatever it is about him that appeals to her.
Is it the psychotic laugh, the creepy grin, the backwards theory on life, the constant need for fun and instant gratification, is it the repeated display of lack of remorse and responsibility, or could it be the challenge? The fact that he is reputed to be incapable of love and yet she strives to and does feel some kind of connection with him that resembles, in her mind, at least something close to love, or as close as she’s ever come…and perhaps the Joker himself.
We see Harleen go through some parts of life where she seemingly makes some not so good and some outright bad decisions. Then, of course, there are some good ones. All lead up to when she begins work at the Arkham Asylum and starts to work with Joker.
So, in this first release, we get a lot of background history on Harleen and then we get the initial introduction and we see the first few meetings. We also see where she starts to fall in love with Joker but tries to deny it to herself, as she is a professional doctor and should never feel that way about a patient.
Being the first book in this series, it does give a lot of background information for those of us who aren’t or haven’t always been HUGE DC Comics fans. It gives great insight into how this doctor turned into a twisted lovesick killer.
Beyond that, the writing is fantastic. There’s an eerie narration atop the story as it plays out. We see Dr. Quinzel in a number of professional, and personal, settings and while each of those situations unfold, we have some brilliant writing letting us into the background and the “behind the scenes” as well. Some of the narration is Harleen recalling memories, some is explaining the current situation, some is just her thought process and her own explanations for her motivation and drive. It really is an amazing way to get the most out of a comic book and I applaud the writer. I feel this was a very creative technique to cram as much info into this series as he could. (I think it’s only a three book series, if I remember right. So it makes sense that the makers would want to pack as much punch in as possible, most bang for the buck, ya know?)
The artwork is also fabulous. The art definitely adds the perfect imagery to the narrative being told. The artist has a genius way of using the color palette to take certain tones to imply particular time frames, albeit past or present, with bright bursts and flashes of color to emphasize the Joker’s presence.
Additionally, with this series being from DC Black Label, it DOES have a darker, more sinister undertone to it. It’s not that it’s outright vulgar, crude or more violent per se, it just has an ominous and disquieting feel to it as you read it. I do, however, recommend this first book. I think the second, which I already have, is going to really get things going and be incredibly packed full with amazing art and some killer action. We’ll see.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover by Andrea Sorrentino
Variant Cover by Kaare Andrews
I have to be honest from the very beginning and tell you right up front I was very disappointed with the first book of this series from DC Black Label. I figured with what I had seen from the Batman: Damned series and the Harleen series that a series on the Joker would be out of this world. But it wasn’t.
Sadly, the disappointment began with receiving the book itself and just kept going downhill from there.
Every comic book I have gotten from DC Black Label so far has been high quality with thick, oversized pages and nice glossy finishes, impeccable artwork and superior writing. The covers of each book immediately draw the eye to the book itself and almost possess you to buy it, just by their cover art.
This book is thin and flimsy unlike the other books in the Black Label series. The cover art is plain in comparison to the rest of DC Black Label covers as well. The paper seems to be of lower quality in general as is the finish on the paper after the work has been done.
Next, you open the book and immediately the artwork looks very elementary in comparison to the other Black Label artists’ work. And the depiction of the Joker is ridiculously tame. They make him look like a normal guy wearing lipstick. It just doesn’t seem like what we are used to as the Joker.
Then, the writing. Or lack thereof. However, you want to put it. It was simple and basic and repetitive. Oh my god, so repetitive. All the Joker seems to talk about is being happy and wanting things to be beautiful, happy and beautiful, beautiful and happy. Over and over and over again. It’s positively annoying. By the third or fourth time I began to silently ask myself, “Is there going to be a quiz at the end of this or something? How many times do we need to be told Joker wants it happy and beautiful?” Beyond that, the writer wastes an entire two page spread on the children’s story one of the characters is reading to his son at bedtime. No, I’m not kidding, I’m being very serious…two…full…pages. Of a children’s book.
Now, the doctor that is reading this children’s book to his kid is the same doctor that, in THIS SERIES, is currently talking with the Joker at Arkham. This is apparently the doctor that comes along AFTER Dr. Harleen Quinzel, after she fell in love with Joker and helped him escape. The authorities at the hospital look at that as “losing” one of their doctors and are determined not to let it happen again.
But, Dr. Ben Arnell thinks, just like every other doctor to ever talk to the Joker, that he is on the verge of a breakthrough. (A breakthrough to what? Observing the mind from totally crazy to completely psychotic? Lofty aspirations, let me tell ya. “Hi there Mr. Joker sir, yes, now I know for a fact you’re a complete nutjob but, my goal here is to find out just how whacky of a nutjob you REALLY are, if any of it is an act AND if you are truly aware of how crazy you are on ANY level at all. Would you like to converse with me and tell me all the deep, dark, horrible and personal things you’ve never told anyone ever in your life? Me. A perfect stranger to you?” I swear, I just have to shake my head at the ignorance of that approach.)
Still, Ben is warned. He has two more weeks and then he will be moving on to work with another subject. Ben is not pleased with this information.
So, there you have it. No action. No witty banter. No amazing artwork to stun you and distract you from the fact that the story so far could have been written in probably five pages. No prison breaks. No love stories. Nothing.
Just the Joker and his lipstick, his love for happiness and beauty and this Dr. Arnell, who seems to think he’s going to have better luck getting through to the funny man than Dr. Quinzel did. Awfully arrogant, don’t you think? We’ll see how it works out for him.