By Brian Azzarello, Nick Floyd, Simon Bisley and Ryan Brown

First issues are sort of a risk for comic book collectors. On the one hand you may end up spending money on a book that didn’t meet your expectations. On the other hand you may end up with a new monthly addiction. Either way, it’s budgeting for your comics that sometimes keep us from taking that risk. Even if the writers and artists are familiar names, or you’re already a fan of their work, you may for one reason or another pass on a new title anyway. Then, over the course of the following week, your fellow collectors begin talking about a new book they picked up and how great it is. Maybe it starts with a side comment from someone, then you see the title mentioned online somewhere and before long you just have to go back and see what you missed.

It happens and it’s nothing to be ashamed of especially with a book like Alpha King written by Brian Azzarello and Nick Floyd. Azzarello is more than established in the comics industry with acclaimed titles like Batman: Broken City, Superman: For Tomorrow, and 100 Bullets, to name a few, but the buzz here (no pun intended) is his co-writer Nick Floyd, owner of Three Floyds Brewing Co. In this case the beverage preceded the comic, making this the first comic book based on a craft beer of the same name.

As if that wasn’t reason enough to at least give Alpha King #1 a try, then consider Simon Bisley’s amazing art. Bisley is known for his work on such titles as 2000 A.D., Judge Dredd, and Heavy Metal, which more than makes up for the aforementioned risk of purchasing a first issue. Essentially, you can’t afford not to have some of Bisley’s accomplishments in your collection, which have achieved the same level of cult status that Three Floyds’ craft beers have obtained.

This hardcore D&D style comic is further enhanced by the colors, provided by master of horror Ryan Brown. With this new book, Brown only continues to back up his reputation as an expressive artist with chops that go well beyond comics. His bold palettes fittingly render Bisley’s style, making for a true artistic collaboration.

And, for your money, you get a bizarre and hilarious back up story by Rob Syers called “Gumballhead the Cat on the Missouri River”. The short story is at once both out of place and neatly fitted in this particular comic book. The cat in the main story is named Gumball, otherwise this short has nothing to do with Alpha King except that the raw art style and madcap story somehow work as a companion piece, which I hope we see more of next issue.

Alpha King is the story of a gruesome group of hellish warriors who fulfill the prophecy of the “Alpha King”, by way of drowning a home-brew craftsman of Earth in a vat of his own beer. It’s a wild and bloody comic that doesn’t take itself too serious, and it is just enough fun to dismiss the novelty factor of a comic book based on a craft brew. More than that it sets up a storyline that leaves the protagonist in a new world, confused and trapped inside of a monster’s sword-wielding body. In an industry dominated by superhero comics, it’s refreshing to see books like this on the new release rack. Demons, blood and guts, and beer!



About The Author Matthew Strackbein

Matt Strackbein was born and raised in Maryland but has called Colorado home for the last 17 years where he lives happily in Longmont with his wife. He began reading comic books at the age of seven after discovering a silver age stash in his grandparents’ attic. Comic books inspired Matt to start drawing, which lead to a successful career as a commercial artist. He has worked in the apparel industry for many years as a production artist and designer. His accomplishments include designing backcountry skiwear for world-class athletes as well as downhill ski race suit designs for the 2014 Winter Olympics for the United States and Canadian national ski teams. Matt currently works as a freelance textile-print designer, but still dedicates time to his first love – comics. With over 200 letters to the editor published, Matt is a known letterhack. He self-publishes autobiographical comics about his struggles to break into the industry, which finally paid off when Dark Horse asked him to produce 2-page back up stories in recent issues of B.P.R.D. Besides his own comics, Matt collaborates on independent books as a colorist and letterer. He also teaches the art of making comics to students of all ages.