Arvid Nelson

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Advanced Review: Warlord of Mars #35

“Pain like that knows no distance of time and space,” John Carter says, and he is right.

Warlord of Mars #35 brings to a close one of the most adventurous, one of the most personal, and one of the most painful storylines writer Arvid Nelson has spun in this great SF tapestry.

It all started issues ago with the seeming return of Deja Thoris’ grandsire and the abdication of power by Carter. Right away, even fast for comic book time, things began to smell like three-day-old fish. Suddenly, all the fence-mending and diplomacy Carter had done was for naught as Mars began to bubble with racial strife and tension.

Nelson has taken a very personal tact in this story, as seen through mainly the eyes of Dejah Thoris, who must choose between tradition and marriage, husband and grandfather, red and white. The fact that she did accompany John Carter in his escape as she defied the villain posing as her grandfather said volumes. And as once happened in Frank Miller’s Daredevil,  our hero is suddenly depending less on those friendly ties of today and more on the villains of yesteryear to see him through the falsehood and siege.

In #35’s bombastic yet emotionally quiet conclusion to the tale, our Warlord toddles into a trap just waiting to spring. What is he thinking? But there is method to his seeming madness as a secret – and weakness – is revealed that just might save Barsoom … and the family of John Carter.

I will not brag on how lush or detailed the art of Raphael Lanhellas is, because it is not. But it does dramatically carry forward Nelson’s brilliant script and is dramatic enough to produce some pulse-pounding panel arrangements that left my jaw swinging. It is not Turok, but it is good storytelling, enhanced by the colors of Inlight Studios.

This has been a wonderful tale of survival, and above all family. The ending justifies all the adventure and steps taken toward that conclusion in a story well told. 

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Advanced Review: Warlord of Mars #34

Writer Arvid Nelson continues his sword and sorcery mystery of the return of the ruler of Mars, placing both Warlord John Carter and the future of the Red Planet in jeopardy.

At first believed to be who he appeared to be, John Carter and Deja Thoris have discovered her “grandfather” is actually the long-missing Xerius, leader of the Orovars of long ago. Finding life in a seed pod from the Tree of Life, a legend which is credited for giving rise to all life on Mars, Xerius took Carter’s power as warlord … and almost his life!

Xerius has kidnapped and is torturing his “grandson,” Carthoris, using the lad’s psychic emanations to lure Carter and Deja Thoris out of hiding. But Carter is determined to discover Xerius’ secret and, with the aid of an old ally, looks deep into the mind of history, into the “Mind of Issus.”

Nelson gives us a rare peek into the psychic powers of John Carter in this issue, as he delves into the brain of a dead person to discover the reasoning behind the rise of Xerius to power and how he came to be in the seed pod, returning to today’s world. Not only is this a great review of Carter’s Barsoom history but actually important to the back story as a whole.

Artist Rafael Lanhellas brings Nelson’s script to life with vivid scenery and alien landscapes. His panel arrangements and facial expressions, even on aliens, convey the drama and levity of this complex book. We even feel sorry for Xerius for a moment. And oh, poor Carthoris!

Warlord of Mars remains a dependable monthly sampling of great sci-fi, racial strife and strong character. What else could a reader want?

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Advanced review: Warlord of Mars #33

A major discovery of Barsoom antiquity, the answer to the mystery of the two towers (and the real whereabouts of Dejah Thoris’ grandfather), plus a shocking climax no one will expect!

Writer Arvid Nelson brings it all together in this chapter of the ongoing “Tyrant of Mars” arc wherein a returning Tardos Mors has seized power from John Carter and suddenly brought war to the races of Mars.

Meanwhile, with the help of friends and enemies alike, Carter, Deja Thoris and Carthoris have arrived at the Otz Mountains, near the Antarctic circle of the Red Planet. They seek the knowledge of the ancient white-skinned Therns, something to explain what is happening around their world (including Tardos Mors’ return) but it appears the new Warlord has gotten there first.

John Carter makes a deal with the devil to learn the answers he seeks, and one of his own pays the price!

Artist Wagner Reis carries Nelson’s script panel for panel, with some breath-taking views of Barsoom and its alien landscapes. The beauty and sheer weirdness of some of it conjures the loneliness and the unknown of space travel and planetary exploration.

Nelson always gives great action, fantastic science fiction in the Burroughs tradition, and that touch of mystery and character that keeps readers satisfied and coming back to Warlord of Mars.

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Exclusive: Arvid Nelson talks 100th issue of Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars

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On the heels of today’s announcement by Dynamite Entertainment that it will be putting out a special commemorative edition of Warlord of Mars (numbered #100) to celebrate the nearly one hundred issues which have been released to date by the comic book publisher, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer got on the horn to the Red Planet and exclusively got the skinny from the horse’s mouth: regular series writer Arvid Nelson.

As we understand, Dynamite will be releasing a special celebratory Warlord of Mars#100 as a special squarebound issue with multiple stories. Featuring a who’s who of today’s best comic artists inside, Warlord of Mars #100 features covers by Joseph Michael Linsner, Jay Anacleto, Fabiano Neves, Emanuela Lupacchino and Stephanie Buscema.  Also featuring special bonus material, this comic can be found in stores and also can be read digitally this coming April.

Now, for the real story, straight from Barsoom!

Cosmic Book News: Arvid, you have been with Warlord of Mars since the very beginning. As a writer, what does this collection of work mean to you?

Arvid Nelson: I’m surprised and pleased it’s had such a storied run. Above all, Warlord of Mars has come to mean a tremendous deal to me on a personal level. I poured my heart into every single issue, and I feel like it’s on par with any other title on the racks. I can’t claim full credit – or even most of the credit – because I owe so much to Joe, my editor, and to all the wonderful artists who’ve contributed. But yes, I’m proud of what we accomplished.

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CBN: Tell us about this very special issue of Warlord of Mars.

Arvid Nelson: It’s a big, fat, explosion of Warlord of Mars, with contributions from most of the writers who’ve worked on Warlord and its related titles. All the stories are going to focus on Woola, John Carter’s Martian “hound”. When Molly at Dynamite approached me with the idea of Woola-centric stories, I immediately punched myself in the face, because I wish I had thought of it.

CBN: What will these Woola concern? Will it involve individual stories or a continuing tale done by many writers?

Arvid Nelson: Robert Napton – he’s the writer of the Dejah Thoris series – and I are doing a two-part story. Robert’s half is set 400 years before Carter’s arrival, and my half takes place during Carter’s reign as Warlord. More than that, I dare not say!

CBN: Besides Robert and yourself, sir, tell me about the writing talent involved on this great book.

Arvid Nelson: Well, there is Robert Napton, of course. I finally met him last year, and we’ve become fast friends. It’s weird, we share a lot of interests outside of Warlord of Mars. Robert’s working on a YA novel, which he showed to me, and it’s awesome. I’m working on a novel, too, and get this – we both, independently, decided to work with the same editor! [Mark Rahner also writes for #100.]

CBN: Ha! And the art?

Arvid Nelson: The best thing about Warlord of Mars, for me personally, has been collaborating with so many talented artists from all over the globe. Brazil, the Philippines, Germany, the United States… you name it. Each artist brings their own unique set of strengths to the story. Writing to an artist’s strengths is a big part of being a good comic book writer.

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CBN: Is this part of John Carter’s regular continuity?

Arvid Nelson: Yeah, it’s part of Dynamite Warlord “canon”.

CBN: Arvid, what makes John Carter a character that you and other scribes want to write?

Arvid Nelson: For me, and I’ve said this before, it’s about finding Carter’s vulnerabilities and flaws. His shyness and clumsiness, especially around women, is what makes him interesting.

CBN: Oh yeah, who is the big-bad that is taking John Carter through this special issue?

Arvid Nelson: One of the things that occurred to Robert and me is that Woola really needs to be the “star” of our story. So Carter plays a central role, but it’s really about loveable, homely old Woola. And for our story it’s not so much a person Woola is up against – it’s a thing. A sword. Doh! Said too much.

CBN: (laughs) Don’t you think it would be nice if John Carter appeared on the cover of Warlord of Mars #100 instead of a nude Dejah Thoris? (laughs)

Arvid Nelson: Hah, yes! In fact, we do Carter covers from time to time. Steve Sadowski, the artist of the first two issues of Warlord, did some great covers featuring Carter solo. I especially love the one of Carter kneeling in chains, and the one of his son, Carthoris, being pulled at by dozens of green Martian hands.

CBN: All the die-hard fans of Warlord of Mars (like me) hope you have a lot more in store for us in the regular book?

Arvid Nelson: I really hope so, Byron! All things must come to an end, including Warlord of Mars. But we’ve got some surprises in store. All I can say is “stay tuned,” so please do!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Arvid Nelson for answer our questions during his busy schedule. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci who helped make this timely interview possible.

“Warlord of Mars” #100 hits stores in April!

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Advanced Review: Lords of Mars #6 (of 6)

Arvid Nelson’s gripping Burroughs team-up of Tarzan and John Carter in Lords of Mars comes to its exciting conclusion Wednesday, and as a reader I have had an excellent time.

Nelson had a big job in bringing the characters together while staying true to the mythos of both, and he did so successfully. I never thought it would work, but the Ape Man did well in a sci-fi atmosphere. Makes me want to see it more, actually.

Issue #6 brings things to a close as the escapees, Carter and Tarzan, battle against Jagati Khen, the Holy Father of the Therns, Carter’s long-time enemies. Khen has a secret weapon capable of mass destruction, but his son has befriended the Lord of the Jungle on the Red Planet and is having second thoughts about his father’s warped schemes.

Will the two Lords of Mars be able to trip up the Therns, and what will that mean for Tarzan’s wife, Jane, also on Mars courtesy of the Therns? Will a little child lead them, or be caught in the aftermath of destruction?

Nelson’s vivid handling of these characters and their worlds makes me believe he can write anything and stay true to its voice. And Roberto Castro’s vivid visions of the Red Planet and the humanoids who do battle are enthralling. Facial expressions add to the story and the panel arrangement makes Nelson’s tale flow easily along.

More mini-series should be like this. A fun read!

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Advanced Review: Warlord of Mars #31

John Carter rules all of Mars, but what happens when  the rightful (and believed dead) king of Helium returns, spit out of a mysterious ruby egg? What will that mean to John Carter and his herculean efforts to unite the races of Barsoom? Not to mention his throne?

Whatever the answer to those questions, you will not find out in Warlord of Mars #31.

What you will find is some fine character-building, Deja Thoris in the spotlight and a lot of neat monster-whoop-ass action! (C’mon, it’s a new John Carter chapter, let’s have fun!)

Besides relations on Barsoom and the return of Deja’s grandfather, the star of this issue is the art of Wagner Reis!

Reis’ panel arrangements during the action scenes are spot-on, and his character studies are refreshing and bring life to our cast. Oh sure, there may be a little hippy angle here or an undue hand twist there, but these for the most part are aliens anyway. And his monsters and creatures of Barsoom burden are top notch!

This is a book those who love sword and sorcery as well as smash-‘em-up Godzilla fare will enjoy. A great hop-aboard issue for those valued new readers!

Again, a fun read! 

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Review: Warlord of Mars #30

Arvid Nelson’s tale of racism, subterfuge, personal betrayal and genocide ends here with the closing chapter of “Savages of Mars.”

A moving and action-packed conclusion awaits the reader as John Carter and his buddy, the suffering Tars Tarkas, battle elements, demons and former friends (Et tu, Talu?) to discover the secret behind what exactly has been going on with the Greens of Barsoom.

There is some funny dialogue in the adventure, but as usual Nelson keeps it straight and carries the saga in true Burroughs style.

Artists Rafael Lahelleas and Marcio Abreu do an incredible job at supporting Nelson’s script and actually adding to it with superb panel designs. In some scenes, really, these are truly spectacular! (John and Tars Tarkas’ initial revving through the waters and the bombastic beast’s appearance come to mind immediately.)

As a whole, “Savages of Mars” is one of the book’s more successful forays into Burroughs pulp sci-fi. As an issue, #30 represents one of Nelson’s (and the book’s) best issues to date.

Ya gotta love Tars Tarkas! Fun and involving adventure.

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Advanced Review: Warlord of Mars #29

Betrayal. It always stings.

Even though you might have seen it coming, in this chapter of Warlord of Mars’ “Savages of Mars” arc there is a terrible discovery that leads John Carter to question everything he has done on the Red World.

Betrayal most foul, and even the suspecting and critical Tars Tarkas is caught unawares by the answer John Carter and he have been seeking since the beginning of the storyline.

As usual, writer Arvid Nelson manages to take the obvious and familiar and wrap it with a mystery inside an enigma. Warlord of Mars is not only a great sci-fi and pulp salute to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ immortal Carter, it is swiftly becoming a deeply involving mystery/detective mag of a sort. It is very “interactive” with its sleuthing, as they say today.

Nelson has each character’s voice, and even the same species of Martians are as distinctive as the characters in your favorite episodic TV drama. Wonderful characterizations amid discoveries, betrayals and murder most foul.

Rafael Lanhellas does a fantastic job with the art, and it is truly a feast for the mind and eye. The techniques used by the artist – from panel arrangement to body design – carry Nelson’s story fluidly and it is a great combination to behold.

Carter may be the ultimate winner at the end of this arc, but in #29 the readers are the winners as this penultimate episode winds towards a climax.

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Advanced Review: Lords of Mars #4 (of 6)

One is the Lord of the Jungle. The other, the legendary Warlord of Mars. Together, they are on a collision course of cosmic proportions as writer Arvid Nelson weaves a modern canvas for these pulp giants that just might lead to the destruction of two worlds.

It has been exciting to watch these two diverse worlds created by Edgar Rice Burroughs come together on the comic book page in this six-issue mini, and Nelson has not missed a beat in bringing the lush elements of both characters’ environs alive with a wondrously cosmic Barsoom and a fertile jungle courtesy of the brilliant art of Roberto Castro and the deep (but not overpowering) hues of Alex Guimaraes.

While at some points it may seem characters are interchangeable, Nelson keeps the story on a steady pace and hardly relaxes as the action goes hot and heavy. Castro has shown himself adept at depicting both slam-bang galactic action biz as well as facial expressions and body movement to carry the plot. And Jane …!

Tarzan has found himself among the Therns and thus set himself on an opposing course than John Carter. But the Therns are about to say hello to the Warlord of Mars, and this will bring Carter and the Ape-Man head to head. Meanwhile, Jane seeks to prove the treachery of Tarzan’s otherworldly allies and bites off a bit more than she can chew.

Nelson’s mixing of these two mythologies has been nothing short of enticing, showing the scribe’s ability to work within the parameters of Burroughs while still churning out one great modern fable.

Warlords of Mars #4 is just the latest testimony to the greatness of these two pulp properties, and Nelson and Castro prove themselves a team able to handle almost any type of action!

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Exclusive: Arvid Nelson discusses adapting the Martian world of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter

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One of the happier successes of interpretation and adaptation of literary materials and fan satisfaction in science fiction has been Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars and its spin-off books.

Blasting off to find the secret behind the success of John Carter, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer booked the first rocket ship to the Red Planet and talked exclusively with writer Arvid Nelson.

Cosmic Book News: Arvid, you have a real affinity for this kind of sci-fi. Tell us about your love of John Carter and his Martian adventures.

Arvid Nelson: I shamefully admit to complete ignorance before Dynamite approached me for the Warlord of Mars series. But I was hooked the minute I started reading the first of Burroughs’s Mars novels.  Burroughs has a genius for stringing the reader along, and he’s unrivaled in creative genius and imagination. I honestly think he was making up the Mars novels as he went along, which is pretty incredible.

CBN: For the uninitiated, tell us who John Carter is and a little about his complex world.

Arvid Nelson: Carter was a rebel captain during the American Civil War. After Appomattox, he went west looking for gold, and he was, as the saying goes, “mysteriously transported to Mars”, a dying planet where only the strong survive and savage tribes hunt in the ruins of ancient necropolises.

CBN: Do you prefer adapting the existing John Carter stories or using his characters and situations for original stories?

Arvid Nelson: I prefer writing my own stories, although it’s a little bit scary. Original stories have to feel genuine, true to the spirit of the classic material. No easy task!

CBN: Dejah Thoris seems a favorite of fans and creators alike. Tell us about this complex woman and the role she plays in John Carter’s life.

Arvid Nelson: In the books, Dejah Thoris is noble and brave, but she’s also a little helpless. We tried to make her more lively, more active, without straying too far from the original character. Of all our accomplishments with Warlord of Mars, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

CBN: I love how we explore Mars and its diverse peoples through Carter’s adventures. Are there any more secret peoples or hidden communities left to discover?

Arvid Nelson: The possibilities are endless! But there’s still so much original material left to explore that it’s the last thing we’re thinking about, for the foreseeable future.

CBN: Arvid, I am enjoying the “Savages of Mars” arc ongoing. Any hints as to who or what may be behind the savagery of the Green Martians?

Arvid Nelson: I’m afraid you’ll just have to read the story – a magician never reveals his secrets!

CBN: So, any new big-bads in John Carter’s future?

Arvid Nelson: Again, that would be telling! Carter upset thousands of years of tradition and social order when he arrived on Mars. There’s no shortage of people (and things) who’d like to see him roasting on a spit.

CBN: May we see some off-world sci-fi adventures for Carter? Or some non-Martian or non-Terran aliens here?

Arvid Nelson: My only concern is that we keep the series feeling authentic. If we stray too far from the source material, we risk losing focus on the appeal of Warlord of Mars. That said, anything’s possible!

CBN: Talk about the artists with whom you have worked. Who captures the quintessential John Carter?

Arvid Nelson: It’s impossible for me to pick any one artist, because I’ve been blessed with so many talented co-conspirators. But Joe Jusko’s covers are just fantastic. He is a true master, and the explosion of original Mars art from him makes Warlord of Mars a worthwhile endeavor by itself.

CBN: Arvid, any projects current or future you would care to discuss?

Arvid Nelson: Lords of Mars, Dynamite’s John Carter/Tarzan crossover debuted earlier this month, and I’m really excited for readers to see where this story is going. We have lots of great adventures in store for the two greatest heroes of pulp fiction, and I hope we get to tell them all!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Arvid Nelson for taking time from his busy schedule of adventures on Mars to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

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Exclusive Interview: Arvid Nelson Brings Two Lords Together Across A Pulp Universe For Dynamite Mini

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Having two “lords” in their publication stable wasn’t enough for the folks at Dynamite Entertainment, so in August the Lord of the Jungle and the Warlord of Mars, both created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, will be featured in a six-issue limited series, Lords of Mars, written by Arvid Nelson with art by Roberto Castro.

Interested in the unusual team-up, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively met with Nelson in the only thatched hut with palm trees on the Red Planet and quizzed him about this dream meeting of heroes.

Cosmic Book News: Two great pulp heroes, Arvid. Where did the idea come from to team them up in a mini-series?

Arvid Nelson: It was the first thought I had when I started writing Lord of the Jungle! It started out as a crazy dream, but now it’s becoming reality, and I’m so thrilled. It’s funny – when I approached Nicky with the concept, he’d been thinking about exactly the same thing.

CBN: You have contributed story to both heroes’ books. How is it different blending the atmospheres of the jungle and the Red Planet?

Arvid Nelson: I found it’s an either-or proposition. Either Tarzan must go to Mars, or Carter must go to Earth. Any story that switched back and forth between the two felt phony and forced to me.

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CBN: OK, so let’s get the elephant out of the room: Does Carter come to Earth, does Tarzan go to Mars or is this indeed the kind of tale where the teamed duo really do not meet?

Arvid Nelson: The two will meet! I think it’s sort of unfair to sell a “crossover” and then never force the characters to meet. More than that I dare not say, because it would be a little bit of a spoiler. I’ll just say “yes” – one of the two scenarios you mentioned does indeed happen.

CBN: How would you compare Carter and Greystoke, their similarities and differences?

Arvid Nelson: First of all, they are both heroes. They’re not rebels or outlaws or whatever. They always associate themselves with what they know is right. But there are differences. Tarzan is, if anything, the more powerful of the two – quicker, stronger. But it’s not as simple as that. Tarzan is also a lot more conflicted than Carter. He’s more naïve, more vulnerable in other ways. That’s the wedge that could drive the two apart.

CBN: How about Jane and Dejah Thoris?

Arvid Nelson: Finding personalities for these two was more difficult, but if you dig deep enough into the original stories, they are there. Jane is a little terrified of Tarzan at times. Tarzan is a little terrifying, period. Both Dejah Thoris and Jane are moderating influences on their respective husbands, Jane more so than Dejah Thoris. Tarzan really needs Jane, the way Sherlock Holmes needs Watson.

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CBN: Do you have any favored Burroughs stories involving your protagonists?

Arvid Nelson: It’s the second novel, for both characters – The Return of Tarzan and Gods of Mars. Return of Tarzan takes a little while to find its footing, but when it does, it’s brilliant. Gods of Mars is pure joy cover-to-cover.

CBN: What can you tell us about the challenges our heroes will face? Any new big-bads?

Arvid Nelson: Again, I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that Carter’s old adversaries, the Holy Therns, will be important.

CBN: How accessible will this tale be, say, for those vaunted “new readers” publishers seek? Any previous Tarzan or John Carter reading required?

Arvid Nelson: I don’t think accessibility is so much a question of forsaking a character’s history or coming up with a “new beginning.” For me it’s more about finding human, relatable predicaments for characters – getting the reader to identify with them. If you can do that, you’ll take anyone along with you. But I always try to make everything I write as accessible as possible, by including recap text at the beginning, and by peppering little reminders about what’s come before throughout the dialog.

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CBN: Why is artist Roberto Castro right for this limited series?

Arvid Nelson: I’ll let Roberto’s art speak for itself. It’s simply the most amazing work I’ve seen from him.

CBN: Arvid, any projects current or future you’d like to discuss?

Arvid Nelson: I’m always working on a half dozen things, but I need to wait for the go-ahead from my publishers before I start blabbing. It’s very hard! But you can follow me on twitter, @arvidthetwit, for all the latest. I try to keep the shameless self-promotion to a minimum. Dynamite’s twitter feed is great, too!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Arvid Nelson who took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, and also Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

“Lords of Mars” #1 (of 6) will hit shelves in August!

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Review: Warlord of Mars #5

picWriter:  Arvid Nelson

Artist:  Lui Antonio

Colorist:  Adriano Lucas

Publisher:  Dynamite Entertainment

Release Date:  March 16h, 2011