Author Archives: Allie Bustion

Review: WWE #6

Dean and Sasha’s Epic Road Trip between cities on the road to Money in the Bank continues and the creative team of Dennis Hopeless, Serg Acuña, Doug Garbark, and Jim Campbell are back and delivering once more. This time, we spend a little less time in the ring and a little more time on the road. We get a glimpse into what a Superstar does on their days off. Or, well, at least within the fabric of the ever-sprawling story of WWE.

Without giving about too much away, this issue gives us a deeper look into what Dean Ambrose likes to do when he’s not in the ring as well as a little of what Sasha Banks likes to do to unwind. If you follow them on Twitter or Instagram or even watch Dean on Total Divas, you know that this isn’t exactly the truth but a construction of kayfabe that makes perfect sense in context. Dean and Sasha’s downtime escapes are exactly what you’d expect from their characters.


Hopeless’ writing paired with the expressions of Acuña and the mood set by Garbark and Campbell really sells this sharing of pastimes on the road. The ending is one that definitely has my interest piqued for what comes next.

If you haven’t already read the interview with writer Dennis Hopeless from earlier this week, definitely go check it out. There’s some more insight on the ongoing series straight from one of the sources.

The backfill this time around is a short about John Cena called “Ten” by writer Mairghread Scott, illustrator Max Raynor, and colorist Jeremy Lawson. While Cena’s recent story has never been terribly interesting to me, this frames it in such a way that I’d be willing to give things a second look. And that is something important in storytelling.

Overall, I still really enjoy this ongoing and the story presented and I’m, as always, looking forward to the next issue. And, I’ll be honest: if I were to get a single variant cover ever, it would probably be the Finn Bálor one for this issue. Just saying.

Story: Dennis Hopeless, Mairghread Scott Art: Serg Acuna, Max Raynor
Color: Doug Garbark, Jeremy Lawson Letters: Jim Campbell
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5
Recommendation: Look, I can only say buy this so many times in a row…

Win That War! Preview

Insane Unity’s Win That War! is, on paper, a “massively multiplayer retro sci-fi RTS crossover”. Normally for me, that’s just a bunch of meaningless SEO keywords that rarely get delivered on. This time, however, you get what it says on the tin.

Gameplay in Win That War! is an interesting mix of classic RTS elements with an almost 4X aspect. It plays like the love child of Blizzard’s Starcraft 2 and Sid Meier’s Civilization series or the Endless Legend or Endless Space games from Amplitude Studios. You click, you build, you wait, you attack, you retreat, you hopefully take out all the enemies bases and there’s no turns to worry about slowing down that high APM. At least, that’s how it worked out in quick play and it felt comparable in length to an SC2 match.


Controls are pretty intuitive and straightforward once you go through the tutorial and get a feel for how they function. As someone who is not great at RTS games, this felt good compared to SC2’s myriad of keyboard shortcuts and confusing menus and sub-menus. The tutorial does a very good job of teaching you how to access just about anything you’ll need in normal play.

I wasn’t able to take a look at two of the modes: the massively multiplayer “Galactic Campaign” and multiplayer matches. In the case of online multiplayer, there’s not a large enough player base yet to provide lobbies for play. There is also LAN and custom matches as an option. The Galactic Campaign is tied to non-custom online multiplayer in a similar way to For Honor’s faction wars but on a larger and longer scale. Insane Unity promises a large-scale experience with factions vying for control across multiple planets but it’s simply not an experience that can be judged yet. You can read more about the Galactic Conquest system from the source here.


It’s hard for games like this to really have a story and lore but Win That War! does a fair job of setting the scene fairly well. The 50s-esque vision of the future of planetary conquest is tempered by today’s knowledge. The earth tones with rounded corners and sleek UI all come together to make a fun and playful package that’s different from other games in the genre that have harsher and more pointed aesthetics. The UI and visual design work well together to give the mechanics of the game set dressing and purpose. In a game like this, they don’t need much else and that won’t affect your gameplay experience.

Final Verdict: great for RTS and SC2 fans especially; keep an eye out if this sounds like your jam. It’s still an unfinished game but it’s fairly far along in its development. Win That War! is available on Steam Early Access now for $19.99. Currently, there’s no For more info, check out the official site.

Review: Spell On Wheels TPB

Best friends. Road trips. Fighting the patriarchy. Found family. Magic. Really, what more can you ask for? Dark Horse’s Spell On Wheels was one I picked up the first issue of then completely forgot about in the mess of life. Definitely a mistake that I wanted to correct with this trade and I’m glad I did.

The overall plot architecture of set forth by Kate Leth is a pretty similar one to early seasons of Supernatural, Buffy, or Charmed: monster-of-the-week with a metaplot that strings it all together like beads on a necklace. In the case of Spell On Wheels, it’s more of an item-of-the-week. Our protagonists, a trio of Northeasterner witches, have their house broken into and looted for the tools of their trades. When they can’t find who’s responsible, they track down the buyers for their stuff on a road trip to make sure they aren’t the last witches out there.

It’s not all adventurous romps though. Jo, Andy, and Claire help where they can and correct some of the wrongs they end up running into along the way. We see a world where, even though the supernatural certainly exists, it’s not the only thing people ever care about. It makes the world as a whole feel far more real than it would otherwise. The charming and often rounded art of Megan Levens is a good fit for this story. The characters and words here aren’t sharp and aggressive, they’re inviting and open. The colors of Marissa Louise provide just the right amount of pop to the frames, pulling the eyes exactly where they need to go.

Overall, Spell On Wheels is definitely a trade to grab then continue with individual issues if you’ve enjoyed it. It really takes those first five issues to suck you entirely into the slow burn. This story wouldn’t be the same without the creative team that it has and it shows.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Megan Levens
Color: Marissa Louise Cover: Jen Bartel
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0
Recommendation: Buy, especially if you’ve been binging Charmed or The Magicians lately

Dennis Hopeless Talks Body Slams, Kayfabe, and WWE

The current run of WWE comics has been great so far, a peek into the in-character lives of wrestlers the meshes far better than other attempts at WWE ongoing series. Graphic Policy got a chance to chat with writer Dennis Hopeless and get a little insight on the series, where it’s headed, and of course pro wrestling.

Graphic Policy: First things first, how did you get pro wrestling to mesh so well with comics this go ‘round? Comics and wrestling seem like an obvious fit, with the larger-than-life personalities, but previous attempts didn’t click as naturally. What sets this ongoing apart and just how did you capture lightning in a bottle?

Dennis Hopeless: To start, artist Serg Acuña is absolutely crushing it every issue. He somehow manages to capture the humanity of the WWE Superstars while also nailing the likenesses and giving us super exciting action sequences. On top of that, our editorial team is fantastic. It was obvious to me from our first conversations about the project that BOOM! and WWE had a very clear vision. They understood that the comics needed to be something different from what fans see on Raw and Smackdown, but the tone and voice also needed to remain consistent.

So, instead of trying to make the Superstars more comic book-y, we’re telling the character-driven stories that take place behind the scenes. Our focus is on character motivation and making the Superstars even more relatable. That exact sort of character work is my bread and butter as a writer. It’s what I love to do and what I’m known for. It’s great to see that fans are responding. I’m just writing what I’d want to read with an incredible team of collaborators who always make us look good.

GP: One thing I really loved from Seth Rollins’ arc was that you didn’t just handwave away his recovery but instead had him cope with and process it. That humanity, for me, makes him more relatable as a character. It’s something that was also shown in his WWE 24 episode. Is that where you got the inspiration?

DH: I didn’t actually watch Seth’s WWE 24 until after I’d written that issue, but yeah, I can definitely see the parallels. Seth’s character arc was so brilliantly paced just as it happened; I didn’t have to do a lot of plotting. Betrayal. Rise. Injury and fall. The road back. And redemption. It was already right there. All we had to do was dramatize the behind-the-scenes beats and tie it all together. It was such a fun arc to write and served as the perfect gateway point for fans. Anyone who had been following Seth’s story on television since the breakup of The Shield now gets to see his journey from the other side of the curtain.

GP: Speaking of Seth’s recovery, making sure that the New Day were pretty consistently there to help Seth when he needed it was pretty brilliant. Any chances we’ll be seeing them around more in Dean and Roman’s stories?

DH: I love the New Day so I certainly wouldn’t put it past us, but Dean’s arc takes place in a wholly different corner of the WWE Universe. Dean spends a lot of time with Sasha Banks and a few other superstars while he’s on the road. It’s a really weird and fun story that couldn’t be much more different from Seth’s arc… but New Day still very much ROCKS so we’ll see.

GP: So the current arc is about Dean Ambrose and seems to be focusing first on his feud with Brock Lesnar. However, it doesn’t look like a lot is going to be in the ring at the moment. Is this going to be Dean and Sasha’s Road Trip Adventure or will they be heading for the next arena for a showdown with Brock?

DH: Almost all of Dean’s story takes place on the road. Both Dean and Sasha have a sort of Road to Money in the Bank thing going on by the end of issue #5, so we decided to lean into that. Superstars spend a lot of time driving from city to city. It’s a fact of their lives that we all sort of know, but rarely gets addressed in the stories. Dean seemed like the perfect character to takes us there… And I’m not sure what possessed me to team him up with Sasha Banks, but that might have been the best decision of my career. Those two together are an absolute blast. The weirdest (plutonic) odd couple ever.

GP: Any chance of the women’s divisions coming more into play? I loved the scene between Sasha and Charlotte as well as other glimpses of them in backstage bits but, as this is about Dean primarily, was this more of a cameo than an ongoing thing?

DH: Sasha plays a huge roll in this arc. It’s more or less a buddy road trip story from the end of #5 on. You’ll also be seeing more of Charlotte as we move forward, as she’s Sasha’s primary rival in this. Now that I think about it, this whole arc might be my backdoor pitch for a Women’s Revolution series.

GP: If you’re still keeping to the plan of three arcs about the Shield, the only one that’s left is Roman Reigns. He’s got a very complicated relationship with the WWE Universe at the moment. Does that play into how you’ve chosen to write him so far at all? Could that change once he’s the focus?

DH: Roman’s will be another very human story. I want to show you what makes the Big Dog tick. We’ll be dealing with his family legacy, rage issues, and unique relationship with fans. I’m not ashamed to admit that Roman Reigns fascinates me. I can’t wait to dig in.

GP: Once the Shield’s stories have been told, who would you like to tell the story of next if you could pick and would it be in the same kayfabe-as-life style? There’s a lot of supernatural stories and weirdness in WWE but there’s also the latest influx of superstars from the indies and Japan, like DIY in NXT, Finn Balor, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Anything particularly stand out?

DH: Like I mentioned before, I’d love to tell a Women’s Revolution story of some kind. Bayley is my favorite wrestler and I think the Women’s Division is just crazy stacked with talent right now. That will be my first pitch for sure. Beyond that, I think there’s a lot of fun stuff to be mined right now. Both Finn and Shinsuke are fascinating characters. I’d tell their stories in a heartbeat.

As for tone, I don’t expect any wild shifts. This slice-of-life thing seems to be working and we love doing it.

GP: One last question: if you could have an on-screen storyline with any one WWE wrestler, team, or stable, who would it be?

DH: All time: Probably Razor Ramon or Early NOW Hall and Nash. I was the perfect age for that stuff and it holds a special place in my heart.

Right Now: The Miz. I just love everything Miz and Maryse have been doing lately. He’s a killer on the mic and isn’t afraid to dig in and be hated. It’s perfect.

GP: Thanks for chatting!

Review: Quantum Teens Are Go #4

A lot has happened in a very short amount of time for Sumesh and Nat at this point in Black Mask StudiosQuantum Teens Are Go. Underground super science clubs, conspiracies, mystery, intrigue, and of course high school and their own personal complications. But with this issue we eke out a few sorely needed answers as the first arc comes to a close.

Magdalene Visaggio’s writing, though I had my qualms about it before, comes together really nicely in this issue and gives the payoff and release that felt so sorely lacking in #3.

Again the art and colors of Eryk Donovan and Claudia Aguirre compliment the frenetic pacing of the writing well and reminds of zines with slight misprints and unavoidable ink splatters left behind. Now that we’ve got the full arc, I can definitely say this reminds me more of Pacific North Weird a la Life is Strange than Weird Science.

I do still question the decision to release this as monthly issues but the story overpowers my qualms. If you’re missed any of the issues up until now and can’t find them, a trade is slated for released on August 30th. All around, I do definitely still think this is one to pick up.

Story: Magdalene Visaggio Art: Eryk Donovan
Colored: Claudia Aguirre Lettered: Zakk Saam
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Grab it for reasons that would be a bit of a spoiler

Review: Little Nightmares #1

Little Nightmares by Tarsier Studios is a strange, dark, and heavy little indie game experience for Windows, PS4, and XBox One. The comic tie-in from Titan Comics is no different. If you can’t play it yourself, you can check it out on Twitch. The comics don’t venture quite into the same story as the game, which follows a little girl in a yellow raincoat named Six. Instead, we find Six tumbling into a room of other children much like her who have found themselves trapped by the grotesque adults bent on snuffing them out. The others encourage Six to share her story lest she forget it. When she can’t, they instead tell their own in order to help her remember. That is the meat of the story in these comics, if you’ll pardon the pun. If you don’t get it, well, you will after watching or playing the game. And trust me, the context will be necessary.

The visuals here are a good meshing between the game team’s concept art and their final on-screen product, striking a balance of strange and grotesque body diversity in the monstrous adults that the game often couldn’t achieve in the end. While John Shackleford’s writing mixed with Aaron Alexovich’s art and Thiago Ribeiro’s colors are a great combination, it’s definitely notable for me that none of the team from Tarsier Studios seems to have been listed as involved in the comic. The creative team decidedly had a vision for Little Nightmares and specifically Six that I feel played out to the game’s detriment at times. The comic team doesn’t shy away from that vision but instead works around it to create something that works well with the medium.

Overall, this comic is interesting and weaves a haunting story but it runs into the same problem that the game does: it may be too vague and understated for its own good. It leaves the reader and/or player unsatisfied with the few scraps they’re given in terms of lore and world building. However, this comic does give me some hope for the comic shedding more light onto the game for second playthroughs.

Story: John Shackleford Art: Aaron Alexovich Color: Thiago Ribeiro
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0
Recommendation: Grab it if you’re invested, Pass otherwise

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: WWE #5

I don’t often read summaries of upcoming comics. I try to pick out what I’ll read and review based on previous experience and the cover. And Boom Studios’ WWE has had semi-unrelated covers before. After the last issue I was fully expecting to come back to the conclusion of Seth Rollins’ arc that would lead him up to now. To say I was a little surprised to open up and find the start of an arc about Dean Ambrose would be an understatement. A surprise but not an unwelcome one.

For those that don’t know, the Lunatic Fringe Dean Ambrose is one of the two members of the Shield that Seth Rollins stabbed in the back to make his frantic scramble to the top. That’s something neither Dean nor Roman Reigns have ever forget or totally forgiven in the kayfabe storyline on TV. Dean is the most obvious about it when their paths cross. As far as personality goes, Dean has a penchant for not staying down, hardcore matches with few rules that stretches back to his start with indie promotions and being the relatable everyman. It’s something that’s become core to his character and, as a result, this arc.

Just as before, writer Dennis Hopeless weaves a story the pulls the actual events and kayfabe of WWE on the night of Extreme Rules 2016 with Dean Ambrose front and center as we transition away from the story of Seth Rollins. Dean does what he does best and makes some questionable decisions that leave him on the bad side of one Brock Lesnar. You’ve probably heard of Brock Lesnar even if you don’t follow wrestling or haven’t for a long time. Within WWE, he tends to be a silent angry force that leaves destruction in his wake with Paul Heyman as his advocate and mouthpiece.

I’ve said this in my reviews before and the creative team here hasn’t changed. Artist Serg Acuña and colorist Doug Garback are still two great tastes that taste great together and Jim Campbell’s lettering is a great way to top it all off. The backfill this time is a continuation of the New Day’s antics through space and time. If you look closely, you might find a few good references in there.

Yet again, this is one I would pick up even if you aren’t a wrestling fan. Especially with a new arc starting up, you don’t need to have watched the events unfold on TV and pay-per-view to enjoy this.

Story: Dennis Hopeless Art: Serg Acuna Color: Doug Garback
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.25
Recommendation: Buy if you’re into late nights, questionable decisions, and back alley fights.

Review: Night Owl Society #1

We’ve all seen this story before and some of us have written it ourselves: teens see the ills of the world and want to do something about it. It’s been in Gotham Academy, Runaways, and Young Avengers. To a lesser extent, there’s also Suburban Glamour, the Wicked + the Divine, and Morning Glories. Beyond comics, the same story appears over and over again in media like Power Rangers. So what makes IDW Publishing‘s Night Owl Society different? So far, absolutely nothing. In fact, it doesn’t have the little twists and nuances those other titles offer.

So what does Night Owl Society offer? This is the story of a boy who saw a kingpin trying to take over the whole town. And he’s barely there in photographs but you’ll… probably not like him at all. There’s nothing intriguing about David that’s been shown so far. He’s such a blank slate and so unattached, ostensibly so the readers can step into his shoes, that he becomes like a Persona main character: a vessel with choices fed into them. But the reader doesn’t feed in the choices in a comic and we’re left with little to invest in. To be fair, things can improve and start looking up but this, for me, is an off-putting start.

More than that, the dialogue and writing of this ragtag group of teenagers is stilted and uncomfortable. Everyone speaks incredibly formally and with none of the colloquialisms or speech patterns one would expect from any group of people under 30 who are around each other at least five days a week. Writer James Venhaus could use a reminder of what it’s like being under 18. Pius Bak’s art and Marshall Dillon’s lettering work for the most part but aren’t memorable for me.

Story: James Venhaus Art: Pius Bak
Story: 5.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: There’s Nothing There #1

Celebrity is a weird thing in the current day and age. So is fame. An awkward mix of privacy invasion and cult following with a healthy dash of myth and unrelatability. Throwing some straight up occultism into that mix can really muddy the waters and it’s unclear if it’s for the better.

That’s the unusual conundrum that There’s Nothing There from Black Mask Studios finds itself in by the end of the first issue. We take the strange and impersonally personal world of celebrity in a big city and throw in… something. An occult ritual that takes place at a party for the rich and ostensibly famous has some unforeseen consequences for our socialite protagonist Reno.

Maybe the problems with There’s Nothing There start in Patrick Kindlon’s writing. We don’t quite know the rules and norms for this world like ours but clearly not quite. Everyone knows about celebrity, sure; but not everyone experiences it in the way Reno does. On top of that, there’s a niggling sense that the writer has at least a little disdain for Reno and her ilk in a way that makes everything about her come off as overly pretentious. The premise feels like The Simple Life mixed with Supernatural or maybe more Two Broke Girls plus Teen Wolf but with none of the fun those could have, taking itself far too seriously to be truly enjoyable.

The art of Maria Llovet, while gorgeous and fashion flat-inspired, is just too loose to do the writing any favors when it comes to holding everything together and making it work. It does fit the socialite setting and add a certain floatiness to the weirdness we see though. A perfect fit married to an imperfect partner.

Long story short, it’s going to take a bit for this series to prove it’s worth the time and money to pick up. Even for someone who like horror thrillers of the rich and famous. With so little to work with, it’s near impossible to tell if it will be worth it in the end.

Story: Patrick Kindlon Art: Maria Llovet Cover: Maria Llovet and Alexis Ziritt
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Stall for more issues and maybe a trade

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: WWE #4


After the slower emotional ride that was BOOM! Studio’s WWE #3, this issue does a wonderful job of throwing us right back into the action. Seth wants back into the ring, he wants his title back where it belongs, and nothing Hunter can do to stand in his way will stop him from laying his hands on Roman Reigns. Their former friendship means nothing when the top gold in the company is on the line. Every point along this path is hit like a perfected action movie.

Curiously enough, the actual time frame on this issue is incredibly short with most of it taking place over a single pay-per-view night. Again, the creative team of writer Dennis Hopeless, artist Serg Acuña, colorist Doug Garback, and letterer Jim Campbell collectively show their chops in executing a well-told and paced story. They not only understand how wrestling works but also how to convey a story on the page in a compelling way. Even with all the silly and over-the-top moments in this issue, we as an audience are never made to feel like we’re meant to laugh at rather than with them. Very little here drags and, when things slow a bit, it’s always to ramp it back up.

The back matter of this issue focuses on Bray Wyatt, the weird southern gothic bayou horror cult leader of WWE. Penned by Ryan Ferrier, I could have easily mistaken this for one of Wyatt’s actual promos. Though the art of Clay McCormack isn’t a favorite of mine, it serves the dialogue and writing well along with the colors of Dee Cunniffe.

This is kind of weird to say about a comic about wrestling but this issue was such a wonderful and raucous romp that knows exactly what it is and what it’s about with no qualms. If you haven’t been reading, you can still pick this one up as it’s the start of a new mini-arc and covers Seth Rollins’ return to the ring. If you’re a WWE fan, keep an eye out for some familiar heel superstar faces.

Story: Dennis Hopeless and Ryan Ferrier Art: Serg Acuña and Clay McCormack
Color: Doug Garback and Dee Cunniffe Lettering: Jim Campbell
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy if you like action movie sequences and/or wrestling

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

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