fred van lente



The Comic Book History of Comics
By: Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey
Type: Graphic Novels
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Pub. Date: May 23, 2012
UPC: 978161377197652199

Pencils down, True Believers!

As the The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture edX course winds down, my extra curricular activities have not stagnated.

In fact, I’ve dusted off a few academic books about comics to further my station (in an audited class—I was never one for impressing actual teachers).

A few weeks ago we talked The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics.  This week, I completed Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s illustrated Comic Book History of Comics and am still processing what they’ve done.

By breaking down the history of comics in the selfsame sequential art medium, they have achieved nerd nirvana.

Not since Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics have I felt such a connection with the books I love so much.

I was lucky enough to speak with the ‘Evil Twin Studios’ artist Ryan back in 2013 for the debut of Action Presidents #1(George Washington).



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The classic Gold Key line of comics returns at Dynamite, and first up is Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 from Greg Pak (Batman/Superman, Code Monkey Save World) with art from Mirko Colak. This issue is Turok vs. Man Eating Thunder Lizards! … Read the VERY early origin of Obadiah Archer as a member of Project Rising Spirit in Archer & Armstrong #0.2014. … Numbers mean practically nothing to a Marvel book these days, so strap on this new Wolverine #1, written by Paul Cornell and featuring new X-Costume by fan favorite Spidey artist Ryan Stegman! Picks today from!

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Triple Shot With a Digital Chaser: UNITY #2, G.I. JOE #11, BRAIN BOY #0 plus CODE MONKEY SAVE WORLD #2 at FORCES OF GEEK

Christmas comes a little early this year with some amazing comics this week!

In fact, paring this list down to four was hard for the first time in a while.

The Valiant Universe crossover continues in Unity #2, our friend Fred Van Lente takes two spots with his last G.I. Joe #11 and an early adventure in Brain Boy #0.

On ComiXology, Code Monkey get pants and more in his origin, Code Monkey Save World #2

WRITER: Matt Kindt

ARTIST: Doug Braithwaite
Publication Date: December 11, 2013
Price: $3.99
Publisher: Valiant Comics
UPC: 85899200312300211
Buy it HERE

The struggle against X-O Manowar continues this week in the Valiant crossover Unity #2.

Toyo Harada’s first wave of infiltrators, a team of Harbingers was largely unsuccessful, and Ninjak got himself captured by the Visigoth and is now trapped in the Vine ship in Romania.

Does none of that make sense to you?

Don’t worry, with only two issues in, you can start from the beginning and get a sense of story.

Valiant, by design, is making their second wave of comics great jumping on points for new readers, and are attracting more with consistent five-star reviews for this Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) written crossover limited series.

In issue #2, Livewire, Eternal Warrior and Harada infiltrate the ship and tap into the virtual controls, in attempt to rescue Ninjak and save the planet from Aric’s invasion. 

The virtual reality fight scenes drawn by Doug Braithwaite ramp the action up to eleven, making for a true page turner.

I’m telling you, drop event comics from the big two and hop on Unity. Valiant is doing it right.

Explosive action with real consequences to characters you’ve just met makes for the best kind of comics.

Not sure quite yet? Wait for the reasonably priced trade in a few months.





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While some might be inclined to be tongue-in-cheek about learning and American History, I am not!  I am unapologetically a nerd about the words of our forefathers.  What better way to celebrate and honor Veteran’s Day this week than to pay tribute to the ultimate veteran himself, the first President George Washington in the bombastic comic book stylings of our friends Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente (Action Philosophers!, Comic Book History of Comics).

These gentlemen were kind enough to give us a preview of their new series, Action Presidents! and Ryan joins us to tell us how the book got going!

The inimitable style and humor of Action Presidents is the first Evil Twin Comics venture to be released as a digital first and was originally commissioned by the nonprofit Reading with Pictures organization that advocates the use of comics and comic book storytelling to promote literacy. How many of us got excited about reading with Archie or The Avengers as a kid?

Consider reading up about what RWP is up to, especially if your child has trouble with traditional books.

Action Presidents: Washington will be released on Wednesday, November 13th on ComiXology. Ryan’s cartooning paired with Fred’s well research and oftentimes hilarious writing educates children of all ages about our first President and even Washington’s definition of ‘freedom’ which may surprise you!

There’s even a panel on the last page that references “Spider-Man No More!”.

What more can you ask for out of a text book, really?




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DigBoston and LeaguePodcast Comic Book Picks of the Week for September 11, 2013



We’re still in the Summer of Valiant for a couple of weeks! This week shows the debut of the immortal soldier in Eternal Warrior #1 written by Greg Pak (Planet Hulk, Batman/Superman) and drawn by Valiant exclusive artist Trevor Hairsine. … Fred Van Lente launches a new title at Dark Horse with Brain Boy #1, reviving a short lived ’60s comic about a psychic working for the secret service. … Martians invade Mega-City One in Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #1. … Picks this week from


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DigBoston and LeaguePodcast Comic Book Picks of the Week for August 28, 2013


Aw Yeah, Hellboy! We’ve missed Superman Family Adventures and Tiny Titans, now we can get our fill of cute heroes in the Aw Yeah style at the popular Dark Horse character, Itty Bitty Hellboy #1 from our pals Art & Franco. Its an all ages funny book, from hell! … The Joes amp up to take on Cobra and defend Manhattan in Fred Van Lente’s G.I. Joe #7. Yo Joe! … Grant Morrison ran out the clock on his two volume end cap to an epic run on Batman with Batman Incorporated. Superstar co-creator on the series, artist Chris Burnham leaves the series with an all-star special in Batman Incorporated Special #1. DC Publisher Dan DiDio and Ethan Van Sciver (Flash Reborn, Dark Knight) spin off a BatCow backup! … Picks this week from

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Before another Summer of Valiant comes screeching to a close, new portals are opening up in the Valiant Universe introducing Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, Frankenstein: Agent of Shade) to the characters in Bloodshot #0 and November’s Unity. Aric of Dacia (X-O Manowar) faces former brother-in-arms Eternal Warrior in modern day Romania in X-O Manowar #16. The second year of Valiant is just as exciting as the launch, with some of the industry’s top talent.

Matt Kindt’s Valiant debut, with Chrisscross on art, in Bloodshot #0 explores the origin of our favorite nanite-covered super soldier. Narrated by the scientist put in charge of throttling back the killer instincts of the nanite-driven soldier to give him a conscience, the story spans several decades of the government-run Bloodshot program. We’re taken through Vietnam, the Reagan assassination, and up to the unfortunate soul chosen for the 1993 Project Rising Spirit experiment.

The Man Who Would Be Bloodshot - Chrisscross Art

The Man Who Would Be Bloodshot - Chrisscross Art

This is the true origin of Bloodshot that you may have been waiting 25 years to read.

Bloodshot #0 - Matt Kindt Variant

As with the previous issues of Bloodshot, we’re treated to some truly horrifying violence and horrors of war. The Vietnam version was in improvement, physically, with self-repair built in, but, like the real soldiers in the war, lines were blurred and unnecessary casualties were par for the course. It was not until the ’90s when the nanites were infused with the memories of dying men, a step closer to garnering a conscience for the killer.


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We’re at a year into the relaunch of popular ’90s comic book publisher Valiant Comics and just in time for another Summer of Valiant. We’ll try not to get any water on these comics as we sit by the pool, drink in the sun and follow the adventures of Archer and Armstrong and Shadowman in our summer series that celebrates successes on our first birthday of our cherished Valiant Comics. Also, we take a look at their cool 8-bit variant covers and Harbinger Wars: Battle For Las Vegas free retro video game for iOS andAndroid.


A look through the Earth Prime Time Archives will show you what we have an affinity for, and that’s the story of an independent publisher rising from near obscurity. Valiant was fortunate enough to have a loyal fanbase to rebuild on their properties long thought lost to many die-hard comic fans. It is the underdog story that Bostonians write about ad nauseam and tend to wear on our sleeves. This column was only a few months old when X-O Manowar #1 hit the shelves, and naturally we have covered most major events in the universe since then.

What can we say a year in?

There is likely a better reaction to the Valiant books, on a whole, than after the first twelve months of DC’s New 52initiative.


Marvel NOW! reaction from fans seems to be split between both positive and negative, with a varied selection of titles appealing to different kinds of fans.

Valiant’s strength lies in not relying on a 75 or 50 year history to complicate matters.


Over at the new publisher, they can make the same kinds of superhero and supernatural books with the industry’s top talent and a completely clean slate. There certainly are nods to the previous continuity as fan service, but with low-numbered issues and trades, the appeal to a new audience without being intimidated by continuity allows for an easier entry point.

As far as the old characters go, Valiant has paced the introduction of new books, concepts, leading heroes and villains, and background information on the shared universe in a way that paints a lush tapestry but does not rely on throwing everything at you at once.


Let’s take a look at two books that are coming out today, Archer and Armstrong #10 and Shadowman #7.

Both books ship with an 8-bit variant cover that ties into their cool 8-bit side scroller Harbinger Wars: Battle for Las Vegas (Storm City Games).


DigBoston and LeaguePodcast Comic Book Picks of the Week for June 5, 2013


One sign of summer is the #summerofvaliant, and more time for video games like Valiant Comic’s Harbinger Wars: Battle for Las Vegas for iOS and Android. This week the company releases two more 8-bit variant covers for our heroes. … Archer and Armstrong #10 written by Fred Van Lente is a mystery wrapped inside a puzzle inside an invasion of Area 51. … In NOLA, our pal Shadowman alongside Doctor Mirage take on Master Darque as the dead are screaming in Shadowman #7. … Daredevil: End of Days ends it’s limited run at Issue #8. We finally get the reveal of what Matt Murdock’s final words, “Mapone” mean, as this supergroup of a creative team (Bendis, Mack, Janson, Maleev, Sienkiewicz) give Daredevil his Dark Knight Returns future tale. … Picks this week from


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It’s a numbers games as we dip into the 36 Chambers of Death with Ghostface Killah in the new book Twelve Reasons To Die.  Travel back in time with Archer and Armstrong #0 and take a dark turn with Dark Horse and Duane Swierczynski punishing the criminal bosses in city of Arcadia for a new number #1 of cult anti-hero, X. 

CONCEPT: Ghostface Killah, Adrian Younge
WRITER: Matthew Rosenberg, CE Garcia, Patrick Kindlon
ART: Breno Tamura, Gus Storms, Kyle Strahm, Joe Infurnari, Dave Murdoch
Publication Date: May 8, 2013
Price: $3.50 
Publisher: Black Mask Comics in association with Soul Temple Entertainment LLC
UPC: 045778022014
Buy it HERE

“Up from the 36 Chambers…it’s the Ghostface Killah”, these lyrics from Clan in Da Front weren’t what I expected to yell when I went into the LCS on Wednesday, but I did, scaring some kids there getting some leftover Free Comic Book Day swag.

As you can tell from the credits, this hip-hop comic comes to you from a creative team that goes all the way up to the executive producer RZA.

Accompanying this book is a record and tour of the same name by hotshot producer Adrian Younge and Ghostface. 

The comic starts off with words like ‘pussy’ and ‘motherfucker’ and that sets the tone for the book.

Like Ghost’s lyrical flow, the comic references gangster history going back to the 40s through the 60s, and it isn’t too long before we are introduced to his alter-ego and star of the book, gang enforcer, the “other” Antony Starks. From La Costa Nostra to modern day nightclub drug deals, it’s grim and gritty. The artwork, benefitting from different artists in the first issue is dark and breaks off chapters well. Just like a RZA beat, nothing here is extraneous. All tells the story.

From the solicit as we find out that Anthony Starks is an enforcer for the DeLuca crime family in the 1960s. The family murders him after he falls in love with the kingpin’s daughter. You won’t know this from the first issue, but it is helpful background.

Starks remains are pressed into a dozen vinyl records and when played, the record invokes the spirit of Ghostface Killah, exacting revenge on his murderers.

High concept, great art and all accompanied by a soundtrack album that is already highly regarded? I am so down. This really is the summer of Ironman.

I didn’t even get to tell you about Black Mask Comics, a new publishing company from creator Steve Niles. We’re expecting great things from this new venture as well.

X #1
WRITER: Duane Swierczynski
ART: Eric Nguyen
Publication Date: May 8, 2013
Price: $1.99
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
UPC: 76156822527300111
Buy it HERE

Just last month, we re-introduced you to X from Dark Horse Comics.

Yes, another reboot. No, we don’t care.

Yes, we’re buying it. No, it’s not a cash grab.

Wait, am I answering questions in my head again? No? Good.

The masked vigilante has more in common with a Punisher of the MAX variety than any other character. He’s a strong, smart and capable vigilante that sits like a snake and plots his attack before doing so. His enemies are tipped off when he sends them a picture of themselves with a red giant X over their face. Most don’t take it seriously, or try to protect themselves from the vigilante when they know he is coming. Good luck, pal.

X has a particularly bloody streak, bloodlust and determination for meting out justice in his hometown of Arcadia.

Unlike Frank Castle, little is known about this cold killer’s origin. Hopefully Swierczynski will tap into that as the series rolls on.

The book opens on a warehouse full of corpses. Investigating detectives and officers on the scene prop up the heads of two of the dead laying in a nearby Caddy. The ominous red X from the photos is mirrored on their flesh, accompanied by multiple nails from a nail gun. Yeouch, X does not mess around!

As police check out the scene, a young blogger, screenname Muckracker aka Leigh Furgeson is poking around, tipped off by an old drunk about the massacre near his home. He flees Arcadia and leaves the detective work to Muckracker. 

Leigh opens her mailbox to find a message from X, crossed-out photos of some bad dudes including one of Leo Pietrain, the unfortunate villain locked in his panic room in issue #0. Ambulances take Leo away as Muckracker gets to the crime scene to see Leo’s piehole bleeding a red X through his ambulance stretcher sheet. 

In the third act of the issue, reader’s adrenaline levels spike as X springs into action once again. Though, this time it appears he’s been set up by the police. 

After a firefight and explosion, X and the snoopy Muckracker find themselves in an alley together. This might be the time for Leigh to either expose X or to lend him a hand. Tune in next issue for more pulse pounding action.

This book has the feel of a Batman: Year One, and obvious nods to the Frank Miller story in the art by Eric Nguyen are not off-putting but set a familiar tone. The action and blood is definitely more mature (not for kids) than your average Punisher story but all of the tropes here work really well to acclimate the fan to a newly rebooted, but never wildly popular anti-hero vigilante.

Swierczynski is on some great books right now with tough dudes as the lead roles. Check out his take on IDW’s Judge Dredd for more rugged justice!

WRITER: Fred Van Lente
ART: Clayton Henry
Publication Date: May 8, 2013
Price: $3.99
Publisher: Valiant Comics
UPC: 85899200306200011
Buy it HERE

Valiant Comics started the whole ‘prequel’ comics numbered “Issue #0” way back in the nineties.  Since then, companies have copied their style and in fact, DC’s New 52 had a whole series of “0” issues incorporated into their relaunch. It should come to no surprise to fans, speculators and collectors of the classic Valiant characters that Valiant has started to release prequels to their relaunched books as well.

Fred Van Lente (Spider-Man, G.I. Joe) brings his humor and well researched historical references to the latest, Archer and Armstrong #0.

Archer is a teenager, raised by extreme religious freaks on a compound. He escapes to find the truth about his parents. Armstrong is a nigh-invulnerable immortal warrior that is centuries old. This issue deals with Armstrong’s past through a retelling (reboot!) of the classic tale of Gilgamesh. How do we get there? Armstrong was part of the story and recounts it firsthand! Raised a poet among warriors with brothers Gilad (Eternal Warrior) and Ivar (Timewalker).

Some Vine-like tech is discovered in ancient Mesopotamia and the brothers go to investigate. They are greeted by men in robes who introduce them to the Boon device, the supernatural tablet that grants Armstrong his immortality. There’s dinosaur fighting, alien tech and ancient history rolled up into a delicious story that’s way better than junior high history and literature classes. 

This issue is part Jurassic Park, part Rome and equal parts the origin of pizza in G.I. Joe Yearbook#3 — My Dinner With Serpentor.



G.I. Joe #1 Cover B: Steve Kurth (p); Allen Martinez (i); Joana Lafuente (c)

Comic books are moving toward the television model in a number of ways. Season numbering has taken over and we are proud to put the footwear references aside to give you an exclusive interview with writer Fred Van Lente as he puts on his battle helmet for Season 3 of G.I. Joe from IDW Publishingon shelves today.

DIGBOSTON: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today about your new number one G.I. Joe issue from IDW.

FRED VAN LENTE: Thanks for having me.

Last summer we saw the Summer of Valiant and your take on Archer and Armstrong. Tell me, what are the first things you think about when relaunching popular characters. Is it like when you get to jump on an arc of Spider-Man, or is there more pressure on you?

Spider-Man was a fairly unique situation, just because I was writing with six other people. When flying solo, I guess I try to get to the essence of the property, which is pretty easy with G.I. Joe — it’s an archetypal “war” story, with an eternal battle between two opposing forces, one representing democracy, the other tyranny.


Fred Van Lente - Writer at Large

G.I. Joe fans are a particular breed. For example, I saw more toy fans than comic fans when Larry Hama was in Boston for a signing last year. 
I’m signing with Larry for the book’s release date in February—I can’t wait!

Are you getting “YO JOE!” a lot when you walk down the street these days? Are people asking you to sign their H.I.S.S. tanks? I can almost guarantee someone is working on a Fred Van Lente custom figure for the next JoeCon.
Not on the street, but definitely on Twitter.

It’s a really great fan community I’m thrilled to be a part of.

So in recent years we’ve had such great writers on G.I. JOE the likes of Chuck Dixon,Mike CostaChristos Gage and of course the Admiral Larry Hama. Will your Joeverse acknowledge the IDW G.I.Joe vs. Cobra run, wherein a coup for the Cobra Command was at the forefront and a Cobra Commander was killed?

I don’t think so… To be honest, there’s been so many books and I’ve been trying to read as many as I can, but I’ve only been on the job since July, so it’s been a bit of a challenge… Our run is a continuation of Dixon’s G.I. Joe run, but we also reference G.I. Joe Origins heavily.



DigBoston and LeaguePodcast Comic Book Picks of the Week for February 20, 2013



YO JOE! Clay’s so excited about the release of this book, and a recent conversation he had with scribe Fred Van Lente that he got the Arashikage tattoo on the 27th anniversary of his first G.I.Joe comic book (#46!). Dig favorite comic writer Van Lente puts the team in the public eye in the age of WikiLeaks and Twitter combat in G.I.Joe #1. It’s an extra-sized extra-wierd Action Comics #17 from Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. Morrison’s New 52 Superman run ends here, as Kal-El must save all of creation, natch! … Billy Martin of Good Charlotte enters the ring of spooky comic writers with his debut book, Vitriol The Hunter from IDW. Knowing our soft spot for guitars and vampire comics, it’s a safe bet we’ll stake this one out for at least a few issues. … Picks this week from


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DigBoston and LeaguePodcast Comic Book Picks of the Week for September 5, 2012



Aww Yeah, ape talk. Set eight years before Taylor and crew landed on the Planet, Doctor Zaius fights a mad monk hell bent on awakening the Alpha Omega bomb from the Dark Side of the Moon. It’s finally here, a simian jumping on point for Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm #1 written by Corinna Bechko. . … Moving trucks don’t mean it’s the end of summer! The Summer of Valiant continues, if even for a few more days! Last month EARTH PRIME TIME told you about Fred Van Lente & Clayton Henry’s Archer and Armstrong #1. Issue #2 is here as we follow Obadiah and Armstrong into decrypting the ugliest secrets on Earth like the Masonic crypt of Wall Street’s 1%. Occupy the LCS to support creator-driven comics! … It’s almost unfair for us to keep picking Chew but who said we needed to be fair? Chew is funny and bizarre and drawn well. What other comic has a secret agent cock-fighting chicken special agent? Chew #28 shows Tony getting kidnapped—again! Special furry-bait cover, natch. Picks this week from


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DigBoston and LeaguePodcast Comic Book Picks of the Week for August 8, 2012


Last week at EARTH PRIME TIME, we primed you about the immortal strongman and the faithful Obadiah Archer teaming up for the reboot of Archer & Armstrong #1 from the reinvigorated Valiant Comics. Writer Fred Van Lente (Spider-Man, Cowboys and Aliens) apparently loves us now! Yay for the Summer of Valiant! … Issue #2 of the well received Punk Rock Jesus from Sean Murphy has the media circus focused around the Christ clone’s first miracle. … Jericho Season 4, #1 at IDW picks up where the Season 3 comic left off. Fans loved the short-lived series and can now watch as Jake and Hawkins take on what their town has to offer in this post nuclear strike world. … Picks this week from


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Archer and Armstrong by Mico SuayanValiant Comics return to the shelves this summer with the launch of four great action books, with more on schedule for the fall. Returning to the industry with a renewed vigor and beloved strong characters, the company wants to fill your summer with the fun kind of summer reading. The relaunch, retelling and rebooting the stories of the likes of Bloodshot, X-O Manowar along with Fred Van Lente’s take on Archer & Armstrong close out your “Summer of Valiant”.

Let’s talk comic book history to introduce you to mainstays of the Valiant Universe, Archer & Armstrong. The company was originally founded in 1989 by former Marvel Editor-In Chief Jim Shooter. By 1992, the first versions of the books mentioned previously were launched. Issues numbered at #0 provided origin stories. Shooter paced the stories in real time and comic fans enjoyed a new interconnected universe that was brand new to fans.

Though not causing as big of a stir as The Image Revolution, The Valiant Universe was popular among fans and critics in the early nineties.