Tag Archives: Nick McCalip

02Feb/21

Silverline Title Spotlight: SilverStorm (vol 1)

There Is No Shelter From This Storm!

A SilverStorm (Volume 1) Retrospective by John Metych, III

A wealthy playboy philanthropist whose father engineered some of the most futuristic technologies of the day now dons a suit of armour to protect both innocents and those he cares about.  Who immediately comes to mind when you read that description?  Yup, me too.  Christopher Kastle, AKA Silver Dollar!

A beautiful woman who overcame extreme poverty and traumatic childhood experiences was blessed, at birth, with the gift of wind manipulation.  Thus far, she has attempted to keep her abilities hidden from the world but eventually must utilize her powers to escape captivity and, later, in public in order to preserve the lives and safety of others.  I know you’re picturing the same model-turned-adventurer / heroine as I am . . . the supermodel who professionally goes by one name . . .Natashia , AKA Tempest!!

And who doesn’t immediately picture the one – the only – cloaked villain, operating behind the scenes while he sends out his agents to do his dirty-work bidding, infatuated with the concept of developing, perfecting, and utilizing a legion of clones to attack the very foundation of assembled government, made up of constituents representing their individual interests and homelands?  You know it! Of course! It is none other than Doctor Fear!!!

Originally published in the Spring of 1990, Silver Dollar, Tempest, and their newly minted arch-nemesis, Dr. Fear, were the main characters in the Silverline packaged, Aircel Comics published, SilverStorm four issue miniseries . . . and what a miniseries it was!!  Further expanding from Cat & Mouse, their buddy, Demon, and the still enigmatic “Chicago Champion”, SilverStorm was the next title, entry, and step in establishing and expanding the interconnected “Silver” universe of characters and stories.

SilverStorm (volume 1) lead off with a strong, character driven autobiography presented by none other than Christopher Kastle himself.  Speaking to his closest confidant, his Uncle Miya, he chronicles his affluent upbringing, though light on responsibilities, his internalized worries regarding how his father viewed him as he grew from youth, to a college student, to an adult and lamented how his life has become empty, unfocused, since his father’s passing and his lingering inability to follow family tradition by swearing an oath to upload the traditions and values of his family, upon a Silver Dollar that has been passed down through family generations.

Kastle’s narration continues through mourning his father, assuming leadership of the Kastle Foundation – a research organization previously lead by his father, through introduction to a specialized suit of armour created by the foundation.  Kastle becomes enamoured with the suit and dedicates himself to the utilization and mastery of this incredible piece of technology!  He also describes the mental and emotional journey he has undertaken in trying to understand his father’s death, when things don’t seem to quite add up but, at the same time, all the powers-that-be insist that there was nothing out of sorts, out of the ordinary, nor nefarious in terms of his father’s passing.

A serendipitous mutual attendance at the Symposium of Earth and Natural Sciences (hosted by the Kastle Foundation) brings Christopher and Natashia into the same venue and Kastle, who had been attendance at one of Natashia’s (Nat for short) model shows several years prior, makes a point to introduce himself to her.  Nat’s external beauty is only surpassed by her intelligence – as illustrated by her deep interest in, and ongoing study of, geology.  (She was way before her time in terms of STEM!)

Invited to accompany her on a modeling gig on a nearby island, Kastle joins Natashia and becomes even more twitterpated with her in all respects.  As the two canoodle during their walk back to their respective accommodations for the evening, they are savagely attacked by a duo going by the names Hunter and Axe.  Kastle is beaten unconscious, which allows Natashia to unleash her mastery of the winds without him bearing witness.  As she attempts to blind Hunter with a face full of blown sand, Hunter responds, in kind, with warning shots bullets and takes her, as well as Kastle, prisoner.

Hunter and Axe deliver the newly romantically linked couple to their employer – Doctor Fear.  Kastle recalls meeting him, long ago while on a business trip with his father, and remembers that Dr. Wilderman (now, FEAR) was once an impressive biochemist on a global scale, nothing close to the scarred, mutated, blistered and disfigured man that stood before them now.  Kastle persuades Fear to reveal what had happened to him . . . a story which consisted of scientific discovery, partner treachery, attempted murder, arson, and a near-death experience culminating in being submerged in an experimental formula designed to grant super-human strength and power.  Though Fear survived, and became physically stronger than ever, he would never recover from the physical or mental scars nor his ever-increasing passion for revenge including against the very world itself!  Information vital to Fear’s forthcoming plans has been in the possession of a man associated with both Kastle and Natashia – from different social and professional spheres – yet intertwining the destinies of all involved!!!

Kastle confides the legacy of his familial Silver Dollar and Oath to Natashia and she not only matches his level of trust and faith during a daring escape from Fear, his henchmen, and their compound.  They encounter several armed guards as they evacuate, noting that each of these guards had identical appearances save different tattooed numbers on their foreheads.

This observation foreshadowed Dr. Fear’s endgame . . . he has expanded his biochemistry interests into cloning, creating and growing a clone army that he utilized to launch an assault on the United Nations building, in New York City, and upon completion of his clones seizing and securing the building, as well as the UN Representatives now held hostage within, Dr. Fear declares his takeover of the world itself!

Nat and Kastle descend upon the battle scene; flanked by reporters and live television coverage, the duo is swarmed and questions fly . . . including if the individual in the suit was the Chicago Champion (it isn’t) and what they call themselves.  Christopher invokes the name of his family tradition and bestowed upon himself the code name SILVER DOLLAR and dubs Nat TEMPEST in honour of her wind-controlling talents.

Collaborating with the government-sanctioned armed forces, Silver Dollar and Tempest battle countless identical, mute, and loyal combatants ‘til death.  Our heroic duo infiltrated the occupied United Nations building, decimating clone troopers along the way, battling (and evoking revenge) Fear’s henchmen Hunter and Axe, leading to a final face-to-face showdown between Silver Dollar and Dr. Fear and with a HUGE detonation and the apparent death of Dr. Fear.  But, in comics, is anyone ever really dead?  This very author may have something to say about that fact in the not-so-distant future, in fact . . . as well as the long-ago planned (and abandoned – nay, “long-hiatused”) Silverline Universe team book . . . also in the works by yours truly!

The cadre of talent that brought these characters, issues, and Silverline’s first mini-series to life was comprised of this most excellent lineup of creative talent:

Roland Mann – the Mann with the Plan! Cat and Mouse writer and Silverline Editorial Director, Roland provided scripting duties on the latter part of the SilverStorm series and served as series editor.  In time, he would become writer, editor and eventually Managing Editor at Malibu Comics.  Roland has been the driving force of Silverline as a publisher, including the current relaunch of the brand and the ringleader of the impressive collective of Silverline talent!

Thomas Fortenberry – SilverStorm’s plotter, writer, and scripter. His Amazon biography notes that he is also an American author, editor, reviewer, and publisher. A Pushcart Prize-nominated writer and history teacher, he has also judged many literary contests, including The Georgia Author of the Year Awards and The Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction. Thomas was the second writer, after Roland Mann, to work on a Silverline title when wrote this very four-issue SilverStorm miniseries!

Steven Butler – Steven, who had already provided stellar inks on the Cat & Mouse series and both pencilled and inked several of the series most dynamic covers, all while serving as Silverline Art Director, contributed his first sequential pencils for Silverline’s on this very title, “SilverStorm”!  Having already cut his teeth on sequential work on First Comics’ “Badger”, Mr. Butler’s artwork on SilverStorm can only be described as “detailed, beautiful, kinetic, and perfect!”  He also provided colours for the series covers and created all the additional promotional art to support the title! Steven’s future projects would include illustrating titles for Malibu, Marvel, and Archie, to name a few. He held notable runs on Marvel’s “Silver Sable” and “Web of Spider-Man” and will forever be favorably remembered for his illustrations of Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider!  Steven recently collaborated with his Silverline friends and colleagues for a special guest artist variant cover for the recently released TRUMPS. He has also recently fulfilled his first Kickstarter campaign for issue #1 of Fianna McCool and the House of Ulster under the Duo Comics imprint in conjunction with his incredibly talented daughter, Lily Butler.  Oh, and Steven is one of the top, all time favourite artists of this author . . . if you couldn’t already tell who I am honored to have come to know thanks to the wonders of the internet!

Roland Paris – the first of two inkers on this SilverStorm miniseries, Roland also providing his inking talents on it’s sister title, Cat & Mouse. Roland later went on to ink many titles at Marvel Comics.

Ken Branch – the second inker over Steven Butler’s pencils on SilverStorm, Ken also provided inks on multiple issues of Cat and Mouse. Ken later went on to ink titles at Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics, Malibu Comics, Valiant Comics, First Comics, and Comico Comics.

Nick McCalip – Nick served as SilverStorm series letter. Nick has also lettered several other Silverline titles including The Mantus Files, Cat & Mouse, The Scary Book, , and Krey.

23Jun/20

Title Spotlight: The Scary Book

Doom! Doom Upon Ye! The world is ending and . . . is that a giant lobster demon?!

     The Scary Book is a story where our heroes must unravel a shadowed mystery involving the dark powers of the occult. Unlike titles with similar subject matter, this story isn’t highlighted by abstract terror and gore, but instead by hilarity. Each issue is packed full of jokes, and references delivered in a consistently impactful tone. This four-issue series is a must-read for fans of dark comedies.

The story starts with Marty Applegate, owner of Applegate books, receiving a delivery of strange books he didn’t order. Even after getting his order fixed by swapping with the intended recipient of the strange tomes, one escapes their scrutiny and finds itself on Marty’s shelves. While Marty isn’t looking, a man named Caduceus purchases the book from the clerk. Shortly after that, pandemonium breaks out. 

As it turns out, that book was actually a book of spells penned by the devil himself, Lou C. Fer. He puts out a new batch of books on occasion so that advanced conjurers can give his demons work on Earth. Turns out Hell is even tiresome for the Demons, which is probably why they got a union organizer. The problem is that this book began making the rounds. All the major demons have been summoned out of hell and there is no one left to torture all the damned souls. Lou needs his demons back and in order to do that, he’ll need Marty to track down who bought the book and stop it from circulating.

In issue 2, we meet Marty’s cadre of book hunters as they travel through a world being torn apart as mass conjurings and spells are unleashed by even the most inept of magical practitioners. The first is Crimson, a cursed soul sent by Lou C. Fer to make Marty aware of his quest and assist him in completing it. Crimson sold her soul for beauty and has been stuck in hell to suffer the punishment for vanity ever since. The chance to work back on Earth finally gives her the opportunity to fully use the boon she received in her pact. The two of them enlist the help of Phillip Chandler, a private eye whose career earned him several films made about him starring himself. Phil proves to be an interesting addition to the team as he is mentally stuck in his role. He speaks as if he is providing narration and dialogue in a voice-over session. The trio follows the first clue to a cult performing a conjuration. 

That encounter sets them on the right trail. They trace the book back through all the hands that have held it since it was initially purchased. On the way, they encounter a whole slew of fascinating characters, unsavory beasts, and what street prophets believe to be the end of the world. Eventually, they get their confrontation with the book’s holder and things only get stranger from there. 

What really sets The Scary Book apart from other mysteries is the tone and voice in which the story is delivered. Even when compared to other comedies nothing really comes across as wholly unique but expected as The Scary Book. It sits in the intersection of three genres, comedy, mystery, horror, and behaves the way you’d expect a story in any one of those genres to behave but because it does all three so flawlessly, it is entirely its own story. It is somehow both paying homage to great assets each of these genres can employ at the same time as being irreverent to all the tropes that can make those same genres cheesy and silly. 

Writer Sidney Williams’s voice really comes across through the three main characters he employs. Marty delivers a classic dry wit that serves to give the perspective of the average person caught up in world ending nonsense. Pair that with Crimson who has experience with both mundane and the demonic and is just tired with it all. The color commentary and banter provided by these two immediately sells the reader on the intended atmosphere and gets them invested in the characters as people. Then there is Phillip Chandler who is a world unto himself. Not only does he only talk through first-person narration as if he were the voice-over of a hard-boiled detective movie, but he brings the same style of Hollywood flair to solving the team’s problems. While this is “the real world” for Marty and Crimson, this is just another shot for Phillip, so of course he attempts to handle every situation as over-the-top and high-octane as possible. 

With characters as loveable and strange as these, it’s no wonder that this universe is being expanded in the near future. Writer Sidney Williams has written a spinoff called Something Big! This story will follow Phillip Chandler and a new host of characters as they tackle a brand new case brought to Phil’s desk. This will, of course, be brought to you by Silverline Comics.

The Scary Book was written by accomplished novelist Sidney Williams, whose recent releases include Dark Hours and Disciples of the Serpent. Sidney has also written comics such as The Mantus Files, Marauder, and Sirens.

The The Scary Book was pencilled by Steve Willhite. Steve has also done work for titles like FUBAR and Jesus Hates Zombies. Steve also inked issue 4 of The Scary Book.

Issues 1 through 3 of The Scary Book were inked by Dan Schaefer who Silverline adepts would recognize from The Mantus Files and Cat & Mouse. Dan has also inked for The Green Hornet, New 52, and Predator.

Nick McCalip lettered issue 1 and pages 1 through 9 of issue 2. Nick has also lettered for The Mantus Files, Cat & Mouse, and Krey.

Debbie Woods lettered pages 10 through 24 of issue 2

Brad Thomte letters issue 3. Brad also lettered Switchblade, Marauder, Silverstrom, Pantheon, and Mouseguard: Tales of The Guard

Mike Belcher lettered issue 4. Mike is perhaps most well known for creating his own title Man in The Mask for AMK Comics.

28Jan/20

Silverline Title Spotlight: Krey,1-5

Oil your sword, and throw on your leather armor for a saga of fast-paced action, forbidden romance, and brutal betrayal set in a world where barbarians rage in an epic struggle with their mutant neighbors across desert steppes. Krey is the tale of a human raised by mutants who pursued battle, glory, and family.

Krey is a unique tale on the Silverline roster. This fantastical tale tells the story of a man born of humans, raised by mutants, called to battle, and longing for a familial relationship that has repeatedly been denied to him. Krey navigates social dynamics in a world divided through the eyes of a twice-orphaned foot-soldier who is driven to greatness. The reader follows Krey as he discovers his place in the world, and finds that his ability to change the world doesn’t just come from his prowess with the blade but also the depth of his convictions.

The legend of Krey begins when he is a babe in the realm of humans. Krey’s village is raided by mutants, the beings who inhabit this world alongside humanity. Years of hate on both sides have bent both factions against each other. While some try to live together, the powerful often find it easy to use the “others” as scapegoats for their wars. The mutant who stumbles across Krey as a babe proves to be compassionate and takes the boy as his own, along with the Krey’s family sword.

Krey yearned to be a warrior from a young age, growing up in the mutant village. He would sneak out to train with his father’s sword. When Krey came of age, he joined the combat games. In these games, the mutant tribesman showed what kind of warrior they were. While he fell short as a marksman, Krey excelled as a swordsman. The games are cut short when the village is attacked by a band of human raiders. Krey watches as all his friends are cut down. Krey rushes to check on his adoptive father, who has been struck down in the attack. His last command to Krey is to run, take up his father’s sword, and never forget what he saw that day. In the surrounding melee, Krey kills his first man before escaping.

The second issue takes us to Tae Steppe in the Realm of the High Priestess. The city has allowed for humans and mutants to live in a stable if uneasy coexistence. Years have passed since Krey fled the annihilation of his human village and Tae Steppe is now celebrating the Time of Rebirth. The festival is divided into three events. Each event is a different test of martial skill. The victor of each will earn an honored posting in the High Priestess’s army. Krey has joined the festival with two other warriors of note, Etedh, and Calican. All of them hoping to use the festival as a way to accelerate their military career so that they might one day join the High Priestess’s elite force, The Red Guard.

He loses the archery competition to Etedh and the melee to Celican, but he quickly earns the adoration of the crowd. The human’s love his charisma and dominating presence. The mutants are proud of him as he was raised as a mutant. This earns him the spite of Etedh, who is revealed to have a strong prejudice against his mutant neighbors. During both of the previous events, a beautiful mutant woman catches the eye of Krey. Not only is he distracted but he is immediately driven to find out what her name is. The night before the final event, Krey accepts the hospitality of a mutant family. He shares their dinner table and sleeps in one of their guest rooms. The father of the family is also able to share the name of the woman Krey spotted, Netanya. Krey defeats Etedh in the last event, the test of swordsmanship, the Steel against Steel. As champions, Etedh, Celican, and Krey are all offered the opportunity to train to join the High Priestess’s army. Krey then offers the prize wreath he earned to Netanya.

Krey and Netanya unite in what becomes a controversial marriage. Krey’s story unfolds as he struggles with balancing his goals as a warrior and having a family after his birth and adoptive families were taking from him. He must also contend with the biases that dominate the world around him when he, himself, does not understand them. The story of this berserker and his family continues throughout the saga in a story of betrayal, rebellion, and revenge.

Krey isn’t just another fantasy sage. It weaves a tale of complex social politics and dynamics through the lens of a man who was molded by two different peoples that have spent their existence trying to put an end to the other.

Krey is a man of strong conviction in a world that challenges his beliefs at every level. Krey holds only love for mutants despite being told that, as a human, he should despise them. Instead, he lives among the mutants as one of them in hopes that they might share the world with humans. He is a skilled warrior who has spent his life seeking battle, yet takes no joy in the act of killing. This conflict gets highlighted in his relationship with the xenophobic Etedh. As these worldly matters tug at the fabric of Krey’s character, Krey finds himself struggling with the balance of family and duty. All he has known of a family is loss, so to Krey, a family is the most precious thing in life. He views his duty as a warrior also as a deep-seated part of his character. The Realm of The High Priestess espouses the idea of cohabitation between mutants and humans. To Krey, that is an ideal he will fight and die for. More than once, these dreams have come into conflict with each other. Sometimes with mortal consequences.

The conflict in Krey’s personality is smartly done and drives the story in ways other fantasy series have fallen short of. Though the action, big swords, and rippling muscles are a large aesthetic plus, the emotional conflict in Krey and the social conflicts of the world are what pulls the reader into the series.

Written by Roland Mann who, besides being my boss, is an accomplished writer and educator. He currently serves and the Editor-In-Chief and Publisher here at Silverline. Roland has also had postings at Malibu/Marvel Comics. Other titles Roland has written include Tiny, Rocket Ranger, Miss Fury, Planet of the Apes, Battletech, and Demon’s Tails.

Krey was originally published by Gauntlet Comics as issues 1-3, and Krey Special Edition.

Art for chapters 1,2, and 3 was done by Steven Butler. Steven is well known for his work on Archie Comics and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Criss Cross also provided art for chapter 3. He is known for working on titles such as Captain Marvel, Firestorm, and Blood Syndicate.

MC Wyman drew the art for Chapter 4. He is known for working on titles such as The Mighty Thor, Daredevil, Silver Surfer, and many others.

Chapter 5 was penciled by Jack Keefer. Jack also inked chapters 2,3,4 and 5. He has also worked on Marvel’s Northstar.

Chapter 1 was inked by Ken Branch who has worked for just about every major publisher including DC, Marvel, Valiant, Image, and Malibu.

Floyd Robinson also contributed ink to chapter 3. He has also worked on titles such as Thor and Batman.

Nick McCalip provided letters for chapters 1 and 3. Nick’s work can be seen in works such as Silverline’s Cat and Mouse and Malibu’s SilverStorm.

Chapter 2 received lettering from Dan Nakrosis. Who has worked on titles such as Archie, Sonic the Hedgehog, Berserk, and the X-Men Manga.
Rik Mayo also contributed letters to Chapter 3. Rik’s work can also be seen in The Mantus Files.

Debbie Woods lettered Chapter 4.