Category Archives: Reviews

TV Review: The Flash S2E2 Flash of Two Worlds

The Flash Season 2A mysterious man has a warning about an evil speedster intent on destroying The Flash; a determined officer wants to join Joe’s meta-human task force.

The second episode The Flash moves past the morose vibe of the first episode, returning to the fun, red hued vibe of the first season.

The big thing of this episode is that it lays out the reason that DC Comics and Warner Bros. may win the live action battle being waged against their competitor in the long run, and the reason is multiverse. This episode goes over that the DC television universe exists in a multiverse where there can be multiple Flash, multiple Green Arrows, multiple Superman, etc.

The episode properly introduces us to Jay Garrick of Earth 2, where he’s that world’s Flash, and his nemesis Zoom is on a mission to kill Earth 1’s Flash, Barry Allen.

The introduction of the multiverse opens up the possibilities and opportunities to do some amazing things in the DC live action world. The scarlet speedster and crimson comet team up to stop a villain from Earth 2, and it sets up Zoom as a real threat.

The episode returns to the fun of the first season, even with a bit of a darker cloud looming. Through all the action the episode also has heart, and gives us all sorts of new hints as to things coming down the road, like what’s happening to Cisco. It’s a nice change from the season’s debut rather depressing vibe, and helps us zoom along in the season getting us on track with a continuation of the best superhero show on television.

Overall Rating: 8.75

Movie Review: Momentum

momentum_ver3_xlgThe success of films such Liam Neeson starrer Taken (2008) and Scarlett Johansson starrer Lucy (2014), has led to a sudden rise of action driven films without much character & story going for it. This Stephen S. Campanelli directed film falls in the same category of films. Honestly I had no idea what I was getting into or what to expect from this film. I had not heard of this film and had never seen the trailer either. Luckily for me, the film was good enough to keep me hooked for 96 minutes. Leaving the lack of creativity and choppy action aside for the sake of argument – which you really shouldn’t do with this sort of movie – it’s at least put together nicely.

The directorial debut of Stephen Campanelli has characters packing heat, and is packed with a few familiar faces. Director Stephen S. Campanelli has spent many years as an in-demand camera operator for films such as Tomorrowland, American Sniper, The Maze Runner to name a few , but most notably as Clint Eastwood‘s “A” guy, & and he certainly shows the expected good eye, adding the occasional flourish to the film and setting scenes nicely enough, and while the South African-based production is not elaborate, it never looks like corners have been cut. The story is pretty standard, we have our tale of a thief/femme fatale, who has a major slip-up and ends up getting her friends killed for making such a careless mistake, and then vows to get revenge. Then we have a trench-coat wearing villain who’s as ruthless and efficient as they come, complete with his own philosophy of violence and necessity, as well as his sadistic pleasure with his line of work.

momentumThe story follows Alex Faraday (Olga Kurylenko), one of the four people involved in a robbery at a Cape Town bank. In order to stop one of her partners from killing a hostage, loses her disguise, the result of which she is forced to go underground. Before she really has a chance, her partner and ex-boyfriend Kevin (Colin Moss) attracts even more unwanted attention, as the safety deposit box they stole from belongs to a U.S. Senator (Morgan Freeman) which contained important data along with a few million diamonds. He sends a cleaner “Mr. Washington” (James Purefoy), head of a presidential-themed squad, to take out everyone who might have seen the contains of the box, right down to Kevin’s wife Penny (Lee-Anne Summers) & his young son. Thus begins a cat & mouse game between Alex & Washington. Armed with her own set of lethal skills, Alex looks to exact revenge for her murdered friends while uncovering the truth. A simple plot, perhaps, but it gets the job done for Stephen Campanelli’s South African thriller that largely eschews massive action set-pieces in favor of intricate plotting and smaller scale battles between mere handfuls of people. Competently made, the film doesn’t really bring anything truly original to the table other than Purefoy’s turn as Mr. Washington. Hands-down one of the most compelling villains I’ve encountered so far this year, he blows Kurylenko out of the water, overshadowing her with effortless charisma propelled by a single-minded love for his murderous line of work.

The bread-and-butter action scenes satiate the appetite but never blow the mind. As expected some of his camerawork is pretty good but his directorial work unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. And the story too actually, which starts off looking pretty cool and leads you on into thinking you might be in for something interesting but then as the minutes pass you find out there’s nothing special coming up. There were even moments where I felt that some of the scenes were completely unnecessary. One that quickly comes to mind – during a car chase through a parking facility and about to exit it there’s a scene where the car Alex is driving suddenly drives over a security car, there’s no preceding shot to show where she came from in order for her to drive over this security car she just does it. Campanelli almost fumbles the car chase sequences with overly frenetic editing and camerawork. But mercifully they never reach the absurd extremes of Olivier Megaton. Some of the plot twists stretch the audience’s suspension of disbelief, particularly one sequence where it’s revealed that Alex planned on getting a) clumsily captured, b) tortured, and c) allowed to live by the nearly sociopathic Mr. Washington so that she could lead him into a trap. Revelations like these demonstrate a common failing in modern action movies and thrillers: filmmakers believing that their work will only be remembered if they can pull the rug out from beneath their audiences like The Usual Suspects (1995) or any of the Joker’s Gordian Knot-esque plans from The Dark Knight (2008).

Momentum14Thankfully, even with this egregious twists the film keeps you engaged. Olga Kurylenko who first gained attention when she starred in Hitman (2007) and then fame when she starred alongside Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace (2008), she was also in Oblivion (2013) with Tom Cruise playing Julia the pilot he discovers in the hibernation pod and even with Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner (2014). So you know she’s got talent if she can act with those guys. Olga Kurylenko is quite able to hold things down on her end, looking pretty capable physically and playing well off her action chops. James Purefoy, though, who chomps through the script, seeming to be having a grand old time. He really took on the antagonist role and made it look good. He seemed very comfortable playing it, even looked like he was enjoying it immensely. I thoroughly enjoyed his work. He definitely gave the character life in my opinion. Why do British actors make such good villains? Where does Morgan Freeman fit into all this? He plays an American Senator who hired Mr Washington to get the thing that Alex has on her. Yes, Morgan Freeman plays a bad man in this movie! A role so beneath him. Don’t know how successful the makers think this film would be to guarantee a sequel, as ahead of its ending there is a plot hole that led to the “cliffhanger”.

On the whole, Momentum is a one time watch action flick – fast-paced, straightforward and to the point, but you have to decide if you’re willing to spend your time with it and enjoy the ride. Momentum seems like a film that would go entirely unnoticed since it won’t be getting a huge release, and will only be viewed by those who took the time to actively keep up with the film’s development. Fans of lesser known action-thrillers might find the film somewhat satisfying and enjoyable since the action is frantic and non-stop.

Overall Rating: 6.5

Directed – Stephen S. Campanelli
Starring – Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy, Morgan Freeman
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 96 minutes

Review: Super Mario Maker (Wii U)

Super_Mario_Maker_ArtworkSuper Mario is to video games as David Bowie is to, well, everything. They’re both icons in their respective fields, they, they’re both timeless, and they’ve both had movies that have done terribly in the box office. Sure Labyrinth is a considered a cult classic while people try really hard to forget the Mario movie, but needless to say, both Bowie and Mario have inspired several to follow in their footsteps.

Nintendo helped shape how video games are commonly made today, be it a 2D platformer, to expanding into the Third Dimension with our Italian-Japanese hybrid plumber. Sure the general consensus now is that Mario titles are geared more towards a younger audience, but at the core, Nintendo has achieved more with Mario that any other video game company has with their respective titles (no offense, other video game companies).

So you can imagine my sadness to see that Nintendo has fallen short in the console wars ever since the debut of their Gamecube console. Now hold on just a sec, Nintendo fans. I’m in no way stating that the Gamecube is a terrible console or that there aren’t great titles on there, but that was the point where Nintendo began prioritizing creating their own original games rather than allowing others to help them like they did with their previous consoles. Sony (the only other competitor at the time) was fine with allowing their console to be handled by whatever designer had a good idea, while Nintendo seemed to have more integrity saying: “Hey, I can do this myself. Just watch.” And it somewhat backfired.

Sure the Wii’s sales were off the charts, but once the appeal died down, people began to realize that Sony and Microsoft had all the games people really wanted to play, because there were simply more titles. I have a lot of respect for Nintendo, as they’ve produced some of my favorite series, but I can definitely see where they’ve made some mistakes. I’m desperately hoping things improve for them, as I would love to use my Wii U more often.

Sidetrack aside, Mario has been one of my favorite video game series for a long time now. Super Mario World was my first game, and continues to remain on my top ten list of games (Mind you, Super Mario World, is quite old now and the levels are a bit predictable after playing the game a thousand times, but I still love it!).

As a child, my biggest wish was that I could one day work for Nintendo to help design a Mario game for others to play. Since I don’t speak Japanese, have any real programming skills, or possess that special creativity they’re looking for, Nintendo decided to do me a favor and spare my feelings over a rejection letter, and gave me and everyone else the opportunity to be a part of the team with their latest title Super Mario Maker, and it’s amazing.

The title pretty much says it all. You have the ability to create your own levels that can contain whatever you want them to in your favorite 2D Mario platform titles. The styles vary between the original NES version of Mario, Super Mario 3, The New Super Mario Bros, and Super Mario World. The tool list has essentially every single obstacle you can get in those titles to allow creativity to flow through you as you make revisions to the classic levels you’ve always enjoyed, but want more from. Or you can devote yourself to designing levels of pure rage and despair. You can even submit your levels online for others to play, and try out levels others have created! Nintendo smartly implemented a system that forces you to beat your own level before submitting them for others to play, so nobody can be the ultimate troll. Needless to say, that doesn’t stop people from trying though.

While the game doesn’t start out with all of the tools or styles right away, through the use of the level creation, or simply waiting, one can eventually unlock all the tools to help expand their arsenal. One of the big things I wish Nintendo had added to the game however, was the ability to create more than just levels for others to play. Creating your own version of a world map with several levels to go through would have been another exciting way for Nintendo to help players get their creative juices flowing. Hopefully this is something they can eventually add to the game later, as I think it would only help expand the game’s awesomeness even further.

Since this is a title that focuses solely on the user’s inspiration, the lack of a story is perfectly fine, as you’re mainly purchasing this title to create an endless amount of levels, or play them. One can just imagine they’re trying to save the Princess from Bowser, rather than actually needing to see it. This also makes side-quests nonexistent too, as you’re tasked with creating secrets within your own level to help others get through them.

The fact that you can make as many levels as you want, or play as many levels as people have submitted, gives this title a high re-playability factor, as it’s essentially a Mario title with an unlimited amount of levels.

While I don’t own any Amiibos, because I think the market for them is ridiculous, I have seen that players have the option to utilize those to play as other characters. Allowing people to play as different characters is fantastic addition to the game. Sometimes you need a break from being a plumber!

I’m in love with the title and really hope Nintendo finds a way to expand this through DLC, as they wouldn’t need to make any additional versions of this. One of the other things I really wished for was the ability to dive into Mario 2 or even Yoshi’s Island. While both of those titles are completely separate from the traditional Mario platforms, and rely on a whole different kind of architecture in terms of programming, it’s still something that could definitely benefit Nintendo. If at all possible, I think Nintendo could also benefit from adding a handheld version of this game as well. Whether it simply allowed players to go online and download levels, or maybe a limited version of the home console version, it could give players the desire to take their creativity on the go, rather than just keep it at home.

So all in all, I would definitely recommend this game to others, and it’s a great game to play when you’ve got company over too. Any thoughts on the title? Please leave a comment and thanks for reading!

Gameplay: 10 Story: 0 Re-playability: 10 Side-quests: 0 Overall Score: 9

Review: Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max

Lumberjanes_v2_CoverLumberjanes: Friendship to the Max is the second trade paperback volume of the series, and throws readers right back into the outlandish adventures of the hardcore lady-types at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s seemingly magical summer camp. Volume 2 includes issues 5-8 and resolves some pressing questions from Volume 1, such as: Who is that magic bear lady? What the Annie Smith Peck going on in that lighthouse? And just what the junk is up with that boys’ camp, anyway??

One of the most enjoyable things about Lumberjanes, which delivers richly on the themes of friendship, feminism, solidarity, and the balance of self-sufficiency and cooperation, is that there are no real antagonists (at least none that I could find in the issues collected here nor in Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy). While there are obstacles galore – Raptors! Mythical creatures! The boredom of making lanyards! – there are no true enemies amongst the Lumberjanes. This is not to imply that the Lumberjanes live in a dull world or that every interpersonal relationship played out on the page is without strife – existing readers know this already. But as a newbie to the series, I was unsure of what I would be getting into, and I’ve found that what impresses me most is the authors’ commitment to keeping the overall relationships between characters civil without sacrificing any of the drama or excitement. Conflict between Lumberjanes and the people (and creatures!) they encounter typically takes shape in the form of banter-filled cartoonish fighting, or a character being possessed or otherwise controlled by outside forces. At each character’s core, with little exception, there is goodness. Even those revealed to be the “bad guys” by the end of the collection are really just misguided brats.

I especially enjoyed watching Jen’s character develop over the course of these four issues. As the Roanoke cabin’s scout leader, Jen spends most of her time trying to keep scouts Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley out of trouble. While her prudence is often scoffed at by her scouts, as well as camp supervisor Rosie, the story arcs of Friendship to the Max help readers better understand that Jen’s cautionary attitude comes from a place of intelligence and care, not paranoia.

Young readers are likely to learn some great lessons about trust and communication, power, and decision-making thanks to the adventures of the Lumberjanes, and adult readers – even curmudgeonly skeptics like myself – will find it hard not to love the spectrum of personalities that make up the Roanoke troop.

Story: Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis Art: Brooke Allen
Story: 10 Art: 8 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

TV Review: Gotham S2E4 Strike Force

Gotham Season 2Barnes forms a task force with help from Gordon; Penguin is kept busy trying to fulfill a favor for Galavan; and Nygma asks Kringle out on a date.

Gotham‘s fourth episode has gotten better, but that’s not that difficult considering the season has been rather poor overall.

To correct the stumbling direction, the writers have decided to do their best Untouchables, with the new head of police forming a strike force of fresh police recruits to take the battle directly to those committing crime. There’s an outright reference to the “broken window” theory of crime.

This leads to some scenes that might as well have been out of the movie of the cops heading down alleys in idiotic gun fights.

The episode also continues the illogical plan by Galavan to run more Mayor to take over the city. The convoluted plan now pits the GCPD against the Penguin, instead of just rigging the election, a much more straightforward plan.

The series is more focused on cops versus criminals, and like last year this was the strongest episode, but still, the plot is just so out there, it’s kind of hard to take serious.

Overall Rating: 6.75

Movie Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

me earlBased on the novel by Jesse Andrews, its easy to dismiss this film as wanna be of 2014’s The Fault in Our Stars (which is a pretty good movie in my opinion), but with its good blend of comedy and drama, the film ends up being irresistible and infectious. This film from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who has made a name for himself directing episodes on the 4th season of American Horror Story and the very enjoyable remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, is more heartfelt and inventive than The Fault in Our Stars ever was. And most of this has to do with the brilliant screenplay written by Jesse Andrews. Full credit to screenwriter Jesse Andrews for crafting a story so charming and heartfelt that you cannot help but feel connected in and drawn to these characters. The dialogue is witty and clever whilst never falling into cliches, rather it remains very self aware, especially during Greg’s numerous (and hilarious) monologues. There is something so real and natural about the script that really enable us as the audience to fully become immersed in the film and it’s world. A rare cinematic outing like this film engages with the consideration of loss and death, but provides discussion points about life. One of the key queries that comes out is what we choose to do with the gift of life? Jesse Andrew‘s screenplay of friendship is woven together with a confronting evaluation of life, even life after death. This is brought to a head with a dialogue between Greg and his teacher, Mr. McCarthy, that challenges the teen to understand more about the life we live and the life that is left behind for others to remember. Throughout the darkness of death, this film provides an opportunity to appraise the gift of life. The story follows high school student Greg (Thomas Mann), an every-man kid who enjoys making amateur parody films of classics with his ‘co-worker’ Earl (RJ Cyler) and his relationship with the eponymous dying girl Rachel (Olivia Cooke). Upon learning that Rachel has contracted leukemia, Greg’s mother (Connie Britton) forces him to spend time with Rachel, the two soon begin to bond and become friends, a friendship that goes deeper once Earl introduces Rachel to their amateur films and the duo are persuaded to make a film for her.

meandearl_001A friendship that would take him through the best of times, the worst of times, and eventually shape him into the person that he will become. Greg is someone I could relate to because I was basically the same person at that age. A bit of an insecure individual who’s trying to make himself invisible and blend in with the crowd. The message is: make sure no one notices you and use humor, sarcasm and funny one-liners as a defense. Greg’s way of demarcation is to avoid everyone or to maintain superficial contacts. These extreme bad films are shown sporadically and made sure I had a few spontaneous laughs. Not because of their probably ridiculous content, but because of the quirky fictional titles such as “Raging Bullshit”, “A sockwork Orange” or “Vere’d He Go?”. The first ten minutes of the film are stiff and awkward and trapped in teen movie hell, but it’s supposed to be that way, so hang in there. The strange beauty of the film comes from the authenticity of the characters, and the brilliant portrayal of the complexities of terminal illness. In most movies you’re forced to endure a sick person who essentially becomes a passage of philosophy for everyone in their lives, offering wisdom and guidance and poetry and a few well-timed coughs before they sputter away to the sobs and wails of everyone around them. This movie shows what cancer truly is: miserable, with a lot of people offering ridiculous canned sentiment over and over again, who only want to make themselves feel better about what they’re witnessing. Writer Jesse Andrews has pulled off a gorgeous book and screenplay, and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon also deserves props for graceful direction and imagination. Every character is given room to be unique and fully-formed, and retains their humanity to the very end. It also brilliant captures what people miss about others when they remain guarded and unobservant of what lies beyond surface examination — or remain too preoccupied of what others think of them to realize that other people are thinking about a whole lot of different things — not them. It manages to do this without being so heavy-handed about it.

In it’s essence, this is a sweet, sincere and brutally honest portrayal of a coming of age teenager, who has to deal with something that no one quite knows how to handle. We see Greg in constant denial, unable to deal with the fact that Rachel is most likely going to pass away. He is even unable to tell us, the viewers, that this is what will happen. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon lets us watch a big share of this movie through a lens of optimism by specifically stating that Rachel will get better. Thus we take our guard down, letting ourselves really indulge and start deeply caring for Rachel. This is in no way a suspense move in a way to spear the viewer from crying for a 100 minutes. It is genuinely a state of mind that any teenager of Greg’s age would have in a similar situation. Any human maybe. It is in our nature to hope for the best, constantly. Greg heroically and willingly becomes a friend to Rachel, he genuinely thinks that she will get better, even during her last moments.

XXX EARL DYING GIRL MOV JY 5386 .JPG A ENTHowever this turn of events also makes us pay attention to small details, that otherwise would have been ingrained in trying to cope with a death of a teenager. We deeply analyze how hard this situation is for Rachel’s mother, we can focus more on the relationship between Earl and Greg as well as nostalgically listen to Mr McCarthy’s life stories and lessons. The performances in this film are all magnetic. Every single one of these actors were able to hold their own on screen. The parents in the film, played by Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, and the always delightful Nick Offerman, all do fantastic work. Their relationships with their children are all very grounded in reality and realistically portrayed. Jon Bernthal is incredibly funny as Greg’s history teacher, and is able to depict the “generic cool teacher who understands the main protagonist” in a different, refreshing light. However, the three leads all steal the show. RJ Cyler serves as a foil to Greg’s character. Instead of BS-ing people in order to avoid any direct confrontation, Cyler‘s Earl is very frank with his language and emotions, and gets right to the core of the problem with Rachel. Olivia Cooke gives a very heartfelt and understated performance in this film, and watching her suffering through this sickness that’s eating her up is truly heartbreaking to watch. However, the whole film rides on Thomas Mann‘s shoulders. His detached performance, and the way he handles Rachel’s sickness is so realistically somber. He does a fantastic job with the darker comic moments in the film, and the way his character develops throughout the film is nothing short of stellar.

On the whole, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is little gem of a film which is accessible, honest and humorous. This is a truly beautiful film that is equal parts sad and uplifting. This film won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, and it’s not hard to see why. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film filled with heartbreakingly realistic performances, quirky direction, gorgeous cinematography, and spectacular writing. Whether your an art-house fan, a fan of cinema in general, or just the casual moviegoer, there’s something in this film that everyone can relate to.

Overall Rating: 9.2

Director – Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring – Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 105 minutes

Early Review: The Shield #1

TheShield#1Reg-WilliamsMuch buzz has been made about the NBC show, Blindspot, as it revolves around a woman, who has lost her memory, and has tattoos all over her body which leads to her uncovering a huger mystery about not only herself but ultimately a great evil. This concept, although interesting, is not wholly original; in fact, it has been replayed in movies and TY many times. As this same concept I heard about at the Archie Comics booth at New York Comic Con last year, when they were talking about The Shield, as this was about a superhero that has no idea who she is or why she is doing what she is doing. I remembered thinking then just how interesting the concept was and how excited I was. So when Archie Comics imprint, Dark Circle, finally announced the release of The Shield, I admittedly had to Google exactly what the plotline was.

Apparently, this character is a reboot, for a golden age comic, which I have not heard, which really is not a big deal, as I had not heard of the Green Turtle, before Gene Luen Yang, revived the character and introduced them to modern comics fans. Kudos to Archie comics, for reviving the character but also rebooting it by making the Shield, a woman. Apparently, the character was originally conceived to be based off of Captain America, but from the first few pages, she seems to a grittier and darker hero.

As the solicitation says:

Since the dawn of the republic, whenever her country faces its blackest days, she returns: a spirit of the revolution sent to fight for what is right. But when she reappears for the first time in a generation with no memories—not even of her own identity—and encounters an evil force expecting her arrival, all the Shield can do is… run!

The comic begins with the Shield on a mission during Revolutionary War, decimating a camp of British soldiers, before finally being defeated, and despite her state, looks at her captors, with defiance to the end and utters the words, “I am nobody, I am nothing, nothing but a soldier, nothing but a shield of the revolution”. Fast Forward to modern day Washington DC and modern version of the Shield is on the run from some government agencies and shadowy individuals while suffering flashbacks of her many incarnations over 200 years. She eventually realize who she is and what her purpose in this world is, which a government agent eventually confirms. By issue’s end, it seems as though she is concerned and defeated, but much like the opening sequence, I have a lingering feeling, that she overcomes.

In conclusion, an excellent story that by far, is a way better concept and story than what the show Blindspot, has shown us so far. The story by Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig, unfolds a spy thriller, hurling the reader the reader into a world of high stakes politics and secret identities. The art by Drew Johnson is luminescent and drawn with realistic tones, which serves this action packed narrative. Overall, probably the best comic to come out of the Dark Circle imprint and one that is long overdue.

Story: Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig Art: Drew Johnson
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Shadow Vol. 2 #3

ShadowVol2-03-Cov-A-GuiceThe Shadow is one of those characters that have been around a long time, longer than most other characters appearing in comics these days, although the character first appeared in the pulp magazines of the early 30’s even providing Bill Finger with a bit of inspiration when he wrote the first Batman story. Unlike Batman, however, The Shadow never returned to the same levels of popularity as he did during his early years.

But he’s just as compelling a character, and this series is a great place to find that out.

The prolific Cullen Bunn has delivered another blinder of an issue here, one that I really enjoyed. As you may or may not be aware I’m a little partial to the older pulp heroes, none more so than the Shadow (except maybe the Phantom), and luckily for me The Shadow Vol. 2 #3 lived up to my expectations.

With The Shadow Vol. 2, Cullen Bunn has been exploring the fascination with life after death, and the possibility of transferring knowledge from the afterlife. The story thus far has been focused on the Shadow tracking down a cabal of magicians desperate to find out what secret the legendary Harry Houdini passed on from beyond the grave. A secret that nobody except the Shadow knows.

Unlike the slower paced second issue, the third installment of the series opens with a bang. There is a stunningly rendered action sequence by series artist Giovanni Timpano that shows off the skills of our hero, both physical and mental, and the work of Mario Lesko really enlivens the scene. There’s a lot for me to love this issue, and the pacing of issue 3 juxtaposes wonderfully against the slower, more story focused second issue. It’s a nice balance that prevents the arc from dragging out. That’s not to say that there is nothing but action here, that’d be wrong, but the comic feels to move faster.

Dynamite‘s current series may not propel him back into the public eye (at least not over night), but it is a series that you should be reading if you’re at curious about the character. This series has been improving with each release, and although I’d suggest you start with the first issue, even picking up issue 2 would give you a fair idea of what’s happening here. The Shadow Vol. 2 just keep getting better and better.

Story: Cullen Bunn  Art: Giovanni Timpano
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Dynamite provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review.

Review: Bitch Planet Vol. 1

Bitch Planet Vol. 1Growing up watching movies with my Dad and uncles, they introduced me, to the movies of their era, which they loved, and back then I did not know, they were considered “grind house”. The only thing I knew is that I was in love with Pam Grier, in just about everything she did back then, from Foxy Brown to Greased Lightning, as she was this screen siren, which I still have an affinity for. The movies I believe most men my Dad’s and Uncle’s ages are the “women in prison “ movies that were a staple of 70s movies. There were so many during that era, and many of them objectified women, with mostly highly unrealistic plotlines in third world countries.

When I heard Kelly Sue DeConnick of Captain Marvel fame, was writing a new series for Image, which revolved around a women’s prison in space, I basically thought about two Pam Grier movies, “Women in Cages” and “ Big Bird Cage”. Although were highly exploitive , were for the most part, entertaining of course, wondered just how she would make this work, as I had never read any of her prior works, but the only thing that I heard was she often had a “ feminist” strand throughout her stories. As a parent of two beautiful girls, I was truly enamored with the possibilities of doing a progressive story in an exploitive setting within the science fiction genre. As this blended what I want and hope for the comics industry to push as far as diversity and inclusion goes as well as the understanding that comics should always be fun.

Within this first story arc, women are sent to a prison, which encapsulates a planet once they have been deemed “Non-Compliant”, where the “crimes” include not following the laws including adultery and the only prisoners are women. Within each issue, especially the first one, you are introduced to a different character, as you learn about each of the prisoner’s personal history but also what each of them have to endure from violence to abuse by the prison guards. As a fan of Orange is the New Black, I wanted to compare this book to the series, but more I read, there were echoes of OINTB, but really it is Wentworth. The most entertaining part of the book is really, the essays, as this has become something that’s sets the Image brand apart from everyone else, as they aim not only to entertain but educate, as the immortal KRS One used to day, ”Edutain”.

Altogether, a tightly wound intense, story arc, that very much pushes the boundaries that comics are one thing, but clear as the day is bright, this comics team shows it can be a excellent medium for every story. The story by DeConnick, proves that she is more than talent to watch, and makes me wonder just how much Marvel held her back. The art by Valentine De Landro, is a mix of old school comics’ art and new school aesthetics. Overall, if you are not reading Bitch Planet, you are ‘Non Compliant.”

Story: Kelly Sue DeConnick Art: Valentine De Landro
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

TV Review: The Walking Dead S6E1 First Time Again

walking-dead-5 photoRick and the others have a difficult time assimilating into Alexandria; a new threat arises that could bring the group closer together or drive them further apart.

The Walking Dead kicks off the sixth season with a debut that is as much the usual character study as well as something we haven’t ever really seen, visuals that are truly a spectacle.

The episode jumps back and forth between the past and present as the townsfolk of Alexandria not only have to deal with the fallout of the fifth season’s finale, but also a new threat that can only be described as a spectacle. Seriously, I though of other ways to describe it for 15 minutes, but the visuals of this threat had my jaw drop.

All of this includes the usual heart of the show, the characters that populate this world. The Walking Dead isn’t about the dead who shamble across the ground, it’s about the living trying to find sanity in this insane world. In this case Rick and his group are still dealing with the residents of Alexandria, some of who don’t like their new neighbors.

What’s really interesting is the episode writing to its characters, and the fandom they have. Rick has his moment spouting off a line that’ll become as memorable as some of his past ones. Daryl rolls onto screen on his motorcycle. The writers know what’ll get pops from the audience and are giving them fan service. That can be good and bad, and hopefully it doesn’t become a regular thing as it can quickly become parody of itself. Though, some of that fan service also served as easy ways for new viewers to quickly learn personalities.

Through all the visual spectacle, it’s the quieter moments that really make the episode as we learn some much more about the characters we’ve come to know, and each receives their moments to give them more depth as characters.

The Walking Dead is back, and if this first episode is any indication of what we should expect, this season is going to be the best yet.

Overall rating: 9

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