Category Archives: Reviews

TV Review: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow S1E4 White Knights

Legends of Tomorrow PosterDC’s Legends of Tomorrow fourth episode has nuclear scientists mysteriously disappear when Vandal Savage retreats behind the Iron Curtain in the early 1980s. The team follows Vandal’s trail in an effort to find his next target, while Ray bonds with a beautiful Soviet scientist.

It’s taken these four episodes, but things are finally starting to click for me with the series. The action is good. The mission actually makes sense. There’s a lot that’s fun.

The episode doesn’t do a ton with the 80s other than some references here and there, but it’s the mission that finally clicks. The team is searching for Savage, finds a document then need to steal the document. From there, it’s trying to stop Savage doing something with a nuclear weapon. That what is a nice twist at the end.

Here we have the team trying to stop Savage a different way, instead of going after him directly. Instead they’re trying to take his weapons away which makes a bit more sense in the big picture (though they should still go back earlier and just kill him).

But the big thing in this episode is it actually moving a lot of characters forward in their personalities and letting each to shine for a bit. Ray is still an arrogant idiot, but gets put in his place a bit by Snart who still is the big draw for the episode. Heat Wave is entertaining as a meat head. Stein and Jackson have their moment as Stein attempts to get Jackson to see the big picture. Kendra goes nuts which leads to Sara attempting to train her.

Everyone is given their time and focus, something I felt was generally lacking in the first three episodes. That, plus the action, are a good mix that create an enjoyable hour. I said in the last review I felt the series was still trying to find its footing, and it looks like it might be finally doing that.

Overall Rating: 7.2

TV Review: Arrow S4E13 Sins of the Father

arrowOliver receives an offer from Nyssa that is hard to refuse. Meanwhile, Thea continues to battle the blood lust; Malcolm steps in to help his daughter; and Laurel has a heart-to-heart talk with Nyssa.

Arrow shifts a hell of a lot around focusing heavily on the League of Assassins. The thrust of the episode focuses on Nyssa having a cure for Thea and she’ll only give it up if Malcolm steps aside so Nyssa can take over the League. There’s also some of Felicity getting to know her father.

The father stuff is rather predictable and as a plot unless there’s more to come, it seems like a bit silly thing to put in the show. Yes there were questions as to who her father was, but introducing him in this plotline just wasn’t a good use of the build up and reveal of who he was. Hopefully this isn’t the end of this story and I’m proven wrong down the road with more to come. As it stands though, it’s a big meh.

What’s interesting with the episode is where it goes with the League of Assassins. There’s a huge shift for the organization and Malcolm and you have to wonder the reason for those shifts behind the scenes, if there are any. Though, I will say where it went is not where I thought it was willing to go, it’s a dramatic change.

The episode has some decent action and a lot of the choreography issues I noticed in past episodes seems to be missing in this episode, which is great. Though some more sword fighting would have been great, there’s a bit too few scenes featuring it.

The episode is much better than the previous week, and there’s a pretty big shift I wasn’t expecting, so that’s great to see. What happened in the episode has me more excited than the episode itself if that makes sense. Overall, not bad just due to how much it shakes up the status-quo.

Overall rating: 7.3

Review: Voltron: From the Ashes #1-5

VoltronAshes01-Cov-A-MilneActivate interlocks, dynatherms connected, infracells-up, mega thrusters are go, Let’s Go Voltron Force! These words resonated through me as a child who grew up in the 1980’s. Even now as an adult Voltron is still one of the coolest things to me and will read and watch anything that has Voltron Lion Force in it. Which brings me to the topic at hand, Dynamite Entertainment joined forces with Cullen Bunn (Deadpool, Captain America, Magneto) and Blacky Shepherd to form Voltron once again with Voltron: From The Ashes, and I for one couldn’t be anymore excited that I got a chance to read these comics.

When I was given this assignment I couldn’t wait to open it up start reading the first five issues of this series. I knew in order for Voltron to be successful with readers who were born in the mid 90’s a new cast of characters where going to have to be introduced or the franchise had to be completely rebooted like Netflix is going to be doing this year,  and Cullen Bunn and the folks at dynamite hit the nail on the head in blending both the old with the new.

Voltron: From The Ashes takes place over 200 years after the Voltron defeats the Drule Empire. Haggar the Witch and her cat Coven have been drifting through the galaxy abandoned, asleep and defeated. She has nightmares about that day, but she is unaware of the outcome between her Robeasts and Voltron. The galaxy has been  in peace for two hundred years, Voltron’s original pilots Commander Keith, Lance, Pidge, Hunk and Princess Allura are long gone but are still flashed back to throughout the series. And the Monks of Arus are now training a new set of pilots to take over Voltron if and when he is needed again. These new pilots are Jayce, Vega, Kirin, Niki and Rei ( no not the same girl from Star Wars The Force Awakens her name is spelled Rey). Haggar is eventually found adrift by Gr’ Rawr and she quickly begins the process of creating new Rrobeasts for her new warlord. Shortly after, Haggar, Gr’ Rawr and his army along with Haggars Robeast attack a peaceful and unaware Planet Arus and has called upon the new Voltron Pilots. After a lengthy hard  fault battle, our fearless Pilots help Voltron defeat the Robeasts and Haggar once again

The plot it’s self was solid, it goes back and forth between the original Pilots and the new Cadets/Pilots. Jayce reminds me a lot of Lance. Lance always seem to go to the beat of his own drum, had a hard time following rules, but when it cam to crunch time he was always there to be a good teammate. Also what is unique to Voltron is not one, but two strong female leads, which is a bit of fresh air and I think this could help Voltron get more females interested in Voltron, just as Star Wars did with Rae and so far it has worked. What’s nice with the new Pilots is the creators didn’t do what a lot of franchises did is they take a new group of people and make them exactly like to predecessors like what Ghostbusters is doing with the new movie with the all female cast, you know who which characters resemble the older cast without even seeing a trailer yet for the movie.

The new villain in this series is weak, Gr’ Rawr is not anywhere near a King Zarkon or Prince Lotor or even Emperor Zeppo of the Drule Empire. His name sounds more like a Klingon, than a fearless warlord of the galaxy. I feel like Cullen Bunn spent more time trying to introduce us to the new Voltron Pilots, than he did trying to build up the new enemies besides Haggar. Haggar needs no build up as she has been with Voltron from the very beginning and we know how she ticks. The series would be much better story wise if they delved more into Voltron’s new found enemy. Overall as big fan of Voltron I am stille very satisfied with the direction of the story to this point and I look forward to reading the rest of the comics.

The artwork for this series is amazing, it is reminiscent of the cartoon I grew up loving and I am very greatful for that and I think readers who also loved Voltron growing up will also be grateful too. The cover art done by Alex Milne is iconic and does a great job of depicting Voltron as being bruised and battered but not out. The artwork inside done by Blacky Shepherd is flat out amazing. It pops, its colorful. He does a great job making the Castle of Lions more modern as it should be since years has passed by and things have changed for the better.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Blacky Shepherd
Story: 7.5 Art: 10 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: New Romancer #3

New Romancer #3 coverNew Romancer #3 picks up the pace and the humor as our heroine, the Romantic poetry loving computer programmer, Lexy and Lord Byron dodge robots named after classical mythological allusions from his poems, and fight Casanova, who is pretty much a sex vampire. Byron also tries to get acclimated to 21st century women, and Lexy’s little lessons in feminism for him are some of the comic’s highlights.

Writer Peter Milligan plots New Romancer #3 like a picaresque novel meets Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (Lord Byron’s famous travel poem.) , but with more jokes and artificial intelligence. Not merely content to have the Byron and Casanova conflict play out for an entire issue, he introduces a Bachelorette-style contest for Byron’s affection that also helps get the New Romancer app off the ground as well as a new character, Mata Hari, an exotic dancer and spy in World War I. (Ada Lovelace, the mother of computer programming, and the originator She has somehow assembled a legion of zombie-like husbands, who have been caught cheating on their wives with online sex bots in a playful riff on the Ashley Madison scandal. However, Milligan’s zippy, rhythmic dialogue and focus on the budding romance and chemistry between Lord Byron and Lexy keeps things in the midst of the plot threads flying from everywhere.

And it is Brett Parson’s art and Brian Miller’s colors that truly the sparks kindling between this 19th century poet and 21st century tech wizard. For example, there is the first splash page as Lexy swings into Casanova’s lodging like a swashbuckling hero. She is willing to risk life and limb to save the man she loves and even stabs Casanova in the eye with a sausage, which turns out to be Casanova’s penis in a funny bit of slapstick. (This comic is pretty strange.) And every time, Lexy’s with Byron, her eyes are open wide like she still doesn’t believe that she is going on adventures with her literary idol. And Byron looks like he’s having fun too in contrast with the six panel grid of speed dates he goes on with various women, who are less than enamored with him. Even after Lexy’s pointers, he still doesn’t get gender equality and feminism, oops. The soft pink backgrounds during the speed dates also pale in comparison with the dark purple fire and cute yellow stars that Parson and Miller use as Byron and Lexy start their “date”. (Which is inevitably interrupted by her still controlling father because what’s a good piece of literature without a healthy dose of daddy issues.)

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New Romancer #3 has wild and wacky art from Brett Parson to match the insane situations that Peter Milligan puts his cast of characters from one of Lexy’s workmates dressing as a “sexy” cupid in an ad for the New Romancer app to the earlier mentioned phallic weaponry and cheater husbands getting decked by their wives. The comic does a decent job balancing the romantic melodrama of Byron’s writing and thinking with modern day wit and sarcasm. It’s a romantic comedy that is actually funny, far from formulaic, and has some clever historical references to boot.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Brett Parson Colors: Brian Miller
Story: 7.8 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Movie Review: Deadpool

deadpool posterThe Merc with a Mouth finally comes to the big screen in Deadpool, based on the over saturated Marvel Comics character created by Rob Liefeld and given personality by Fabian Nicieza and later Joe Kelly.

How do I describe the 1 hour and 48 minutes? Take a Loony Tunes cartoon, throw some spandex, 80s action films, swear words, lots of over the top violence, and then have it do a few lines of coke, mix it all up, and you have Deadpool.

The story of the film isn’t anything special. Wade Wilson, played by Ryan Reynolds, undergoes a process in hopes to cure his cancer. The process is much more than it seems and turns him in to Deadpool. From there, it’s a revenge tale, that for some reason has some X-Men thrown in.

The film is completely on Reynolds shoulders, which makes sense since the actor has spent about a decade trying to make the film happen. If you enjoy is spins in Van Wilder, or Blade Trinity, the motor mouthed smart ass with a line for everything, you’ll enjoy his performance. It’s funny, it’s at times offensive, and it’s pretty quick witted. The film is one I want to see the out takes, because if this is what was left in, I can’t imagine what was left out and it’s pretty clear a lot of the lines were improvised.

The action for the film is over the top like expected, and there were things I had never seen before in a film, so it absolutely has that going for it. It’s a film that looks fantastic, using slow motion at just the right moments to emphasize the ludicrous visuals we see on the screen.

But where’s Deadpool without his supporting cast? T.J. Miller as Weasel is very entertaining, and much more subdued than I expected. Morena Baccarin as Wade’s love interest Vanessa is charming in the scenes she’s in, but she does little other than being a plot device, though she does give as much as she takes when it comes to quips. Leslie Uggams as Blind Al feels like she comes out of nowhere and is rather underused.

Where the movie fails is generally in its bad guys and guest stars. Ed Skrein as Ajax and Gina Carano as Angel Dust are the two bad guys and it’s never quite clear who they’re working for or the bigger picture. It’s all mentioned, but it’s rather silly, and feels like a set-up to just watch Deadpool kill people and be a smart ass. There’s no mention of Weapon X, which is a let down, though it can all easily be put in there in sequels if need be. Stefan Kapicic as Colossus just feels weird in the film and there’s clearly back story hinted at (can you say prequel?). The exception to all this is Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Can we get more of her please? She stole the show in each scene she’s in.

Where the film truly wins is its not giving a fuck attitude. It breaks the fourth wall regularly and Reynolds has no issue with picking on himself and his past film work, which is great to see. The film as a whole picks on itself, its studio, its director, actors, the CGI, nothing is sacred and everything is game. A continuing joke is Reynolds himself, showing off the actors willingness to take punches as much as he can give them.

I went in expecting the worst, and came out wanting more. The film isn’t for kids, and while I find Deadpool beyond irritating in comics, here he’s beyond enjoyable. And it’s all due to Reynolds. He nails it, and the film nails it, in every way there is. If you found the marketing leading up to the film funny. If you want your superheroes a bit more violent, with a bit more swear words, and definitely not for kids, Deadpool is for you.

Overall Rating: 8.1

Review: Elfen Lied

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Some people just really like dark stories. Like really dark stories. Like we’re going to kill your pet puppy because you’re a horned freak dark. Anyway, Elfen Lied is a manga written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto, who has really done anything else big as of yet. It was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump from June 2002 to August 2005. The television show was produced by the studio Arms and was licensed by ADV Films here. The anime ran in 2004 from July to October, before the manga’s end, which means it had a different ending than the source material. For once though, that seems to be a good thing.

The story focuses on a new mutation of the human species, called Diclonius, who have horn like protrusions on the forehead and the ability to summon invisible telekinetic arms. It specifically follows one Diclonius, Lucy, who for a long time has been held captive in an experimental facility. She escapes and ends up with amnesia, due to an all too convenient head injury, under the new name Nyu. From there she meets Kohta and his cousin Yuka who proceed to care for her. And the story only ramps up from there. Lucy has to remember who she is and continue her fight for the Diclonius as their “queen.”

Now, this series is famous. Well, maybe not as famous as it used to be, but back in my day Elfen Lied was how you knew if someone liked grimdark anime or not, if they were hardcore. I remember watching this in a hush hush situation when I was too young to understand why a lot of the themes were a bit too extreme for a fourteen-year-old. Now the reason the series was famous was because it just went all out on nudity, gore, sexual themes, all around dark themes, and otherwise. Lucy escapes nude and spends a lot of time nude killing people in really gruesome ways, often to the point of excess. That isn’t to say that the series is good, because it really isn’t that good, but it was stretching what mainstream anime could be in 2004. Which is saying a lot. In hindsight though, at points, it seemed like it was just trying to be hardcore for the sake of it.

With the main characters I am about to introduce, I’ll focus on the anime as it is the part of the series I have actually seen.

Our lead character is Lucy or Nyu, who is probably the most advanced of the Diclonious. From a young age she was alienated by others and it caused to her to have a very bad outlook on the human race, to the point of having little to know feelings for them at all. She has a sadistic personality, often leaving others to bleed to death because she can, if not murdering them brutally. Lucy may have a past with Kohta, though it takes a while for that to be revealed. However, has Nyu she is very childlike, unable to say many words beyond ‘nyu’ and ‘Kohta.’ She is essentially all that is good in Lucy. However that doesn’t mean she isn’t cringe worthy at times, like nearly all the time.

Kohta is the story’s male protagonist who has decided to stay with his cousin Yuka while he is attending college. He has a bit of memory loss concerning his father and sister, but knows that they died horribly, but not how. He and his cousin find ‘Nyu’ on the beach and take her in. He’s your average bland male character who doesn’t have a lot of depth to him. He’s there for Lucy to have angst over and to be the token male character in what could have easily been a harem anime.

Yuka is Kohta’s cousin, who may or may not be attracted to said cousin. For a lot of the story she appears upset that Kohta doesn’t remember the time they spent together as children, despite the fact his memory loss is caused by horrible trauma. She is the mother character in the series, who essentially takes care of or cares for all the others. She also is there to be jealous of the tension between Kohta and Nyu. She much like Kohta doesn’t have much of a personality beyond these few traits.

Mayu is a young runaway who ends up living with our protagonists, Kohta and Yuka becoming her guardians. Before though, she was living on the beach with a stray puppy named Wanta, having run away from an abusive household. Over time, after moving in with the cousins, she begins going to school and ultimately has cheered up as a person. She acts as the core of the makeshift family, often breaking up fights.

Nana is a diclonious like Lucy, but treated much better, known as number 7. She is used as a test subject at the very same facility that Lucy escapes. However, she is treated as a daughter by the very man attempting to find Lucy, Kurama. This makes her almost the exact opposite of Lucy, as she is warm and has never harmed a human before. Originally, she is sent to capture Lucy, which she fails to do and ends up severely hurt, but alive. After the failure she ends up living with the other protagonists, but not without initial distrust towards Nyu.

There’s other characters, all who have their own arcs and what not, but the story ultimately falls around Lucy. The characters affect her and how she reacts. So, in hopes of keeping spoilers down and interest possibly up, some characters will be shelved for now. The characters, besides the ones stated above, are also not exactly the most interesting.

The art is one that is very dated by its 2004 airdate and it shows, especially in the face of the characters. The facial proportions are extremely off, but comparatively the rest of the body is on point, everything else is fine. The eyes are just too big at times and don’t match with the rest of the face and it hurts to look at sometimes. The faces are awkward and it shows greatly at times, but at other points, especially with Lucy, the faces are beautiful. Especially in the later episodes as the story begins building up.  It also has a problem with the colors, at times seeming to rich and while yes it is animated, that doesn’t mean the color should be so forced and dull. One of the greater aspects of the animation was the opening, which made reference to Gustav Klimt’s painting The Kiss, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, and others with similar styles. The anime is definitely stronger art wise, as the manga seemed to have no aspect of actual anatomy and was at times almost too cutesy to match with its much darker themes. It’s one of those series that tricks you into thinking it’s going to be cutesy by the art, but then really is just a complete bend, like Higurashi. It also doesn’t have the beautiful opening, which accentuates the story perhaps the best within just a short amount of time. The anime was directed by Mamoru Kanbe, known for his work with Cardcaptor Sakura.

The sound for the anime was not the best, at least not the dub. However, it has perhaps, one of the most iconic opening themes in anime. Lillium, composed by Yukio Kondo, arranged by Kayo Konishi, and performed by Kumiko Noma. It echoes a sort of Gregorian chant and really echoes the feel of the story. The ending theme is not that much of note, especially in comparison to the beauty that is Lillium. So far as voice acting goes, the dub was subpar, the only person of note is Kira Vincent-Davis who played Lucy/Nyu, though she’s not much better than the others. The acting in the English dub is just so bad, it’s dry and emotionless, the delivery is just… Sad with what could have been a brilliant dub. Ultimately though, the Japanese is the better choice, especially in a series like this where some liberties were taken with the dub. Still, the series with sound seems to be just meh in general.

The series isn’t good, but it has aspects about it that seems to capture people. It really seems like a fever dream at points. People know about it, something that’s like sharing some secret with your best friend. Honestly, the show isn’t awful to get through, it might be hard at times, but honestly it’s one of the shows that seems to be a guilty pleasure for some. I can’t say much about the manga other than general appearance issues, but maybe it’s worth a try. However, you should only be watching the series if you are of age. This is a series with adult themes, gratuitous violence, and nudity.

Overall Rating: 6.5

Review: Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman

BillTheBoyWonderFrBill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman was released on July 1st, 2012. It was sometime between then and the middle of 2013 that I learned about the book  after I read about it in a comics magazine that I initially thought to be the British Comic Heroes, but after searching through the issues I have, I was unable to locate the article. So regardless of when and where I first became aware of the book, once it was on my radar, I quickly tracked it down on Amazon.

I’m glad I did.

Once I’d read the book I was genuinely impressed by what Mark Tyler Nobleman had done. By gearing the book towards a younger audience, Nobleman ensured that anybody who wanted to learn about the Dark Knights then uncredited co-creator would have a resource, no matter the age of the reader. The great thing about the book is that despite it being geared toward younger readers, this is a book that all ages can enjoy; indeed the afterward, or authors note, detailing a portion of the research done for the book is clearly geared more toward the older reader (but isn’t required reading to get the most out of the book). Although Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman isn’t strictly a graphic novel, it is illustrated wonderfully by Eisner Award winner Ty Templeton, who brings a real sense of history and wonder to the story that Nobleman is telling here.

As a biography of Batman‘s co-creator Bill Finger, this book is lacking a little. But being a complete biography was never the intention behind Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman, no, this book was only ever meant to highlight an unknown legend who did more than we could ever have imagined for Batman and, to some extent, Bob Kane. Because of the all ages target audience there isn’t an in depth look into the writer’s life, instead what Nobleman has done is focus exclusively on the moments surrounding Finger, his contributions to the Dark Knight’s legacy and his incredible lack of credit and recognition for those contributions.

By making this book accessible to all ages, and focusing on several key moments, Nobleman and Templeton delivered a book that, in my mind, was instrumental in getting Bill Finger recognized as Batman‘s co-creator. Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman is more than just a children’s book about a man getting screwed out of his legacy; it’s also the physical encapsulation of one man’s single minded desire to bring awareness to a man who died nearly penniless.

This book is a great starting point for those looking to learn more about Bill Finger, no matter your age, but if you want to read more about the extensive research that went into this book then you should checkout Nobleman‘s blog Noblemania, but more specifically this page where he really lays out a lot of the stories, photographs  and memories of FingerMarc Tyler Nobleman certainly wasn’t the only voice shouting for Bill Finger to get some recognition, but he was one of the loudest, and Bill The Boy Wonder was the result of a huge amount of time and energy that had been dedicated to bringing Bill Finger‘s name out of obscurity.

Writer: Marc Tyler Nobleman Illustrator: Ty Templeton
Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Jem and the Holograms Valentine Special

STK697001Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is in the air for everyone.

Well, in the case of the Holograms and the Misfits, it’s more like a potion induced kind of love.

The Jem and the Holograms Valentine Special continues the IDW Publishing series’s streak of adorable holiday related shenanigans that take place outside of the story without bogging the series down too much. This particular one starts with Kimber visiting a fortune teller, who gives Kimber a tarot reading that’s not the most positive one in the world. Kimber being Kimber, she can’t let that slide and begs the fortune teller for a solution. The fortune teller gives her a potion that will soften resentment, but to only use three drops otherwise it’ll make the recipient fall in love with the first thing they see.

However, Kimber also being Kimber, she misses that last part and pours the entire thing into a jug of water at a meeting between The Holograms and The Misfits. Shenanigans immediately ensue.

This story is wonderfully ridiculous. Making good use of Jen Bartel’s hilarious shojo manga inspired style and Paul Reinwand’s beautiful colors, Kelly Thompson writes a hilarious story about how Kimber’s good intentions also lead to her biggest mistakes. The rest of the Holograms are right to not let Kimber off the hook for this one since it lead to ramen bar fights, some desperate pleas to hardware store workers and baristas, Kimber awkwardly hitting on Rio and Roxy being more in love with bagels than usual? Yeah, Jerrica was right to leave that last one alone.

While not super pertinent to the main story going on right now in Jem and the Holograms, this Valentine Special is still a super cute one off that gives great character moments and humor. Bartel and Reinwand’s art is the especially fun driving force of this issue, playing up the anger, annoyance and infatuation especially hard. The character designs as well were especially great in this one, with demonic looking Jetta being a personal favorite of mine. Between this and Jonesy over at BOOM! Studios, you should be all set to have an especially comic’s themed Valentine’s Day this year. Well, if you’re the type who’s not looking to celebrate by traditional means, that is.

Story: Kelly Thompson Art: Jen Bartel and Paul Reinwand
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninjak #12

Ninjak 12 coverMI-6′s doomed rescue mission into a parallel dimension is in dire peril as Ninjak and Punk Mambo find themselves face-to-face with the one and only Shadowman! But what is the true nature of the man once called Jack Boniface…and has his time trapped amidst the Deadside’s horrors stolen his humanity once and for all? A battle to save the soul of the Valiant Universe is about to begin – but even the good guys can’t be sure if they’re on the right side!

As Operation: Deadside reaches its penultimate issue, this story arc has become one of the most intriguing Ninjak stories I have read in a long time. Certainly the best in his own series, at any rate, a large part of that is the way in which it’s being told. With the narrative text bubbles taking the form of a debrief from Ninjak‘s MI-6 handler Neville and a commanding officer, we get to see how the official events (and the ramifications of certain things after the story) juxtapose with what actually happened during the mission as we read about it in the comic.

And it’s a doozy.

With Ninjak being teamed up with Punk Mambo for the mission, last issue saw them commandeer a living island (no, I’m not kidding, and yes it was awesome) in order to help them get to their directive. The story is really picking up it’s pace, and with only one issue left for the conclusion, I cant wait to see how it turns out because there’s a potentially universe shattering encounter coming up.

What I’ve most interesting about Operation: Deadside is how the back up strip, The Lost Files, is tying into it. While I expected there to be some cohesion between the two stories eventually, after all there was in the previous arc, I didn’t expect the current The Lost Files strip that focuses on the Magpie to be quite as good as it was. It’s honestly waiting to see how Matt Kindt ties the two in together next issue that has me waiting with bated breath. This isn’t a new reader friendly issue, not really, but you can easily start with Ninjak #10 and be just as good as if you’d been reading since issue #1.

Matt Kindt, Doug Braithwaite and Juan Jose Ryp have given us one of the best issues in the current run of Ninjak. Do yourself a favour and read the full arc.

Story: Matt Kindt: Art: Doug Braithwaite with Juan Jose Ryp
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review : The Dark & Bloody #1

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It appears that the success of Harrow County over at Dark Horse has given other publishers the idea to try out this “Southern Gothic” thing for themselves — DC is certainly taking Swamp Thing back in that direction in Len Wein and Kelly Jones’ new six-part series, for instance — and given the “horror-centric” bent to their Vertigo line since its inception, it’s no surprise that the former National Periodical Publications would  want to get that imprint in on the act sooner rather than later, I suppose, as well,  and that they’d have them do so with something of a (red) splash given their relative financial “muscle.” Truth be told, I’m kind of surprised that their big late-2015 don’t-call-it-a-relaunch didn’t include a horror book set “below Tobacco Road,” but no sooner did we flip the calendar over than we were presented with The Dark & Bloody #1, the opening salvo of a new ongoing (or so I’m assuming) series from a relatively “green” writer named Shawn Aldridge and veteran Copperhead artist Scott Godlewski (a portent that doesn’t bode well for that series’ future, I’m afraid). Rounding out the creative team is cover artist Tyler Crook — who provides some direct linkage between this book and the aforementioned Harrow County itself — and steady coloring hand Patricia Mulvihill, so we’ve got some of the old and some of the new here, and the end result is, as you’d probably expect, something of a mixed bag.

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The series is set in the modern day and focuses on the backwater trials and tribulations of one Iris Gentry (that’s a guy, just in case you were wondering), who has returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq to find employment prospects in his small Kentucky town as dim as ever, and so he’s taken to running moonshine for his former CO from his army days. He’s already got one kid and the Mrs. has another “in the oven,” so hey, let’s not judge the man for doing what he’s gotta do to get by. Besides, as both he and his wife agree, it beats dealing in crystal meth or oxycontin. Things seem to be going well enough for our low-grade entrepreneur until a couple of his good ole’ boy customers crash their car after leaving his place and promptly disappear from the face of the Earth, but what Iris doesn’t know is that they were fleeing from a shadowy, winged creature of some sort, and that there might be more to his son’s new little girlfriend than meets the eye. Oh, and the Gentry family seems to have attracted the attention of a couple of separate (as far as we know) strangers, as well —

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I don’t know if Aldridge hails from underneath the Mason-Dixon line or not himself, but the local flavor he injects the proceedings here with seems reasonably authentic enough to the point where one can say that a strong sense of place is the best thing about The Dark & Bloody #1, but he’s coming up short in terms of providing any real chills or thrills so far, and that will have to change in a hurry if they want people — myself included given that I bought this issue with my own hard-earned cash — to keep plunking down $3.99 a month on this title. Realistic characters and an intriguing “hook” intimating that the evil coming Iris’ way might have something to do with his actions while in the military are neat and all, but we’re not out of line to expect this series to be, well, both dark and bloody, and this first issue, at any rate, serves up only diet-sized portions of what we’re promised on the masthead. It’s alright, sure, but that’s really all it is.

Fortunately, Godlewski’s art picks up much of the slack and he seems equally at home in either the Blue Moon of Kentucky or the burning oil fields of Kandahar province. There’s nothing particularly flashy or attention-grabbing about his style of illustration, but it is solid and does have a fair degree of personality. The people all look like distinctive and realistic individuals, the locales are rendered with a solid eye for detail, and the one brief scene of supernatural shenanigans is delivered with just enough aplomb to leave us feeling confident that future “bumps in the night” will knock us around when we’re looking at them — now it’s just up to his creative partner to make sure that the words he pairs with the images leave a mark when we’re reading the book, as well.

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I’m tempted to err on the side of cautious optimism with this one simply because I’ve been reasonably impressed with most of what Vertigo’s had going of late, but I realize that doesn’t make any more sense than expecting another Marvel book to be good just because, I dunno, The Vision is or something. In all honesty, the one-time home of the likes of Gaiman, Morrison, Ennis, and Carey really only has two titles — Lucifer and Red Thorn — among their new batch that are deliberately going for that “old-school Vertigo” feel, and the rest are all over the map as far as theme, tone, and subject matter go. That’s a good thing, to be sure, but it means that not all of these series are going to be to any one reader’s liking. I know that there are hard-core “Vertigo completists” out there who will buy anything and everything that comes out under that label, but for the rest of us, well — we’ve gotta pick and choose, don’t we?

So far, I haven’t seen enough from The Dark & The Bloody to convince me that I want to be swigging from this particular mason jar month in and month out, but what the heck — I’m willing to stick it out for a couple more issues to see if this is particular batch of “white lightning” has the kind of kick that I’m looking for.

Story: Shawn Aldridge Art: Scott Godlewski
Story: 5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

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