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Review: Green Arrow Annual #1

Christmas is a time for reflection, relatives and…revenge! So says Count Vertigo, who returns to Seattle to send Oliver Queen on a violent, mind-bending journey into his own past and future. The hidden secrets of Green Arrow are laid bare in this oversize special that tests the already tenuous bonds between Team Arrow, featuring the long-awaited returns of Shado, Diggle and the dark archer Merlyn!

Writer Benjamin Percy tests the bonds and mental strength of the various members of Team Arrow. Percy forces them to confront their inner demons and greatest dreams, a fitting tale for the holiday season. But, it being a superhero comic, Count Vertigo is thrown in there too for a bit of action.

The art by Eleanor Carlini has a solid flow to it and smoothly shifts the character viewpoints as the story unfolds. That shifting perspective helps provide insight into Arsenal, Green Arrow, and Red Arrow as they try to figure out what is real, and what is an illusion. Carlini helps keeps you guessing through the art and brings in some interesting visuals in the process. If you pay close enough attention, there’s subtle hints at who the real villain is and what’s real and what’s not.

A solid annual that is a pick up and read for new fans.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Eleanor Carlini Cover: Jamal Campbell
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Imaginary Fiends #2

Melba is assigned to her first case, investigating a series of child disappearances in rural Georgia. As Melba and Agent Crockett uncover clues about the horror gripping the residents, Melba must resist both the temptation to escape into the real world after spending seven years locked up and the terrible appetite of the newly unleashed Polly Peachpit, Melba’s own personal psychic parasite—a massive spider-human only Melba can see, but is far from imaginary.

Rookie agent Melba has a lot to learn about solving child disappearances in Imaginary Fiends #2. By focusing on her bond with Polly Peachpit writer Tim Seely shows that Melba has a lot to offer the investigation. The series does well to emphasize that Melba gets another taste of freedom in exchange for that insight. That creates an interesting dynamic between her, Polly, and Agent Crockett. In this issue we also get the hint that Agent Crockett appears to have more knowledge about the imaginary beings then initially hinted at. We also get a bit more about Melba and her past.

The art by Stephen Molnar merges reality and imaginary as the investigation unfolds. The art gives us a nice view of a frightened small-town in Kentucky and the every day life in the process. The art does an excellent job of blending the fantastical and the grounded.

In two issues the series has given us a nice twist on the police procedural in a world that feels both realistic and a bit scary.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Stephen Molnar
Color: Quinton Winter Cover: Richard Pace
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Gravediggers Union #1

Deadly Class co-creator Wes Craig launches a new series with art by rising star Toby Cypress! The supernatural world has gone crazy! The apocalypse is coming, and only the Gravediggers Union can stop it! How? Well, first their leader Cole has to find his estranged daughter. But is she the one behind the apocalypse? Wild comedic horror with steroid zombies, monster gods, swamp vampires, ghost storms, and space monkeys! OVERSIZED FIRST ISSUE

Crazy is more than likely an understatement, with The Gravediggers Union #1. Writer Wes Craig starts things off with a confusing but intriguing first few pages, before things shift to a modern setting. The debut issue shows a world that’s falling apart at the seams, as supernatural events become increasingly dangerous and frequent. A talking zombie shares a cryptic hint forcing us to question what’s presented and what’s causing these events.

The art style by Toby Cypress and Niko Guardia changes styles as the issue progresses. The issue presents two distinctive art styles from both artists involved. One shows off the darker side of the world while the other shows the everyday lives of those who fight against the supernatural threat to Earth. It’s an interesting way to really emphasize things and does so through the art style.

Story: Wes Craig Art: Toby Cypress, Niko Guardia
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Deadman #2

Hold the cover of Deadman #2 up to the light and the danger that was invisible seconds before will be revealed! Now, any lingering doubt that Deadman was deliberately murdered in cold blood, and not as a test for the Hook to join the League of Assassins, is put to rest once and for all!

Neal Adams delivers another solid issue in series. Much like the first issue, the second manages to bring in a few other DC characters including The Phantom Stranger and Etrigan. And also like the first issue, they’re not the best help to Deadman as he tries to find Hook and his former sensei. Much like the first issue, the inclusion of the characters’ odd arrivals creates an interesting twist in the story as how Adams uses each characters’ particular talents to Deadman’s aid.

The art by Adams is impressive. Adams uses a couple of contrasting settings on Deadman’s journey as well as bringing in some entertaining fight scenes that uses Deadman’s abilities and seeing him fights as himself or as a possessed body.

This is one for Adams fans. If you enjoyed the first issue, the second continues the journey Adams has crafted and the art shows off why he’s considered one of the best.

Story: Neal Adams Art: Neal Adams
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Witchblade #1

“LIFE AFTER,” Part One Gunned down and left for dead on a New York rooftop, Alex Underwood’s life should have ended there—but instead, at the moment of death, she became host to the Witchblade, a mystical artifact that grants the woman wielding it extraordinary powers. But the power comes with a heavy cost, and Alex finds herself thrust into the center of an unseen battle raging on the snowy streets of NYC. Demons are real and walking among humans, and every one of them is intent on taking out the Witchblade’s newest host before she becomes too strong to kill. But the artifact chose Alex for a reason, and she’s not going down without a fight.

Writer Caitlin Kittredge delivers an intense start in a brand new Witchblade, with a brand new host and direction. The new protagonist Alex is driven by a desire for justice and that’s evident through her work within the Witness Aid Service Unit for the police department. Alex’s case involves an abusive police officer which unto itself feels like a statement by Kittredge that sets her Witchblade apart. Corrupt police. Spousal abuse. These are some weighty topics as a backdrop to an issue.

The art by Roberta Igranata delivers a somewhat grounded style to the first issue that incorporates fantastical elements to the experience. Igranata reveals snapshots Alex’s life, death, and her rebirth through flashbacks. And through the art it hints at the supernatural forces that are against the Witchblade. While it’d be easy to recreate what has come before, Igranata delivers a new visual experience that’s clear by the issue’s last panel. This isn’t what we’ve seen before and feels like something new.

It’s been too long since we last saw Witchblade with some false starts, but it’s nice to see any take and especially one that works so well in its debut issue.

Story: Caitlin Kittredge Art: Roberta Ingranata
Color: Bryan Valenza Letters: Troy Peteri

Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Mystik U #1

Leave the world of the mundane behind and step through the magical doors of Mystik U! After a tragic accident, a young Zatanna Zatara, under the guidance of Rose Psychic, enrolls in a mysterious university that teaches its students how to master their unique brands of magic. Will Zatanna fit in with her new classmates (Enchantress, Sargon the Sorcerer, Faust and more!) and unlock her true potential? Mystik U is a new bimonthly miniseries from novelist Alisa Kwitney and Mike Norton!

Mystik U #1 is a great premier issue that serves as a superb introduction to the mystical side of the DC Universe. Think Harry Potter but for superheroes. The first issue brings together a few more well-known characters like Zatanna, and Enchantress, and some lesser known ones, and some older characters like Mr. E and Madame Xanadu, into a school setting where they’ll learn more about their powers. Kwitney introduces us to each character delivering a unique personality for each and still features a mystery to be solved within the first issue. There’s also a major event we get a glimpse at that everything will build towards, think traitor within the group.

The art  by Norton is solid and brings a proper mystical element to the story. His work shows a clear influence from the older Vertigo comics. Norton also redesigns Zatanna in a less revealing and more modern outfit. Finally! Along with all of the school antics, he also delivers the grotesque side of the magical world in a mysterious creature and some of the more ominous aspects presented.

Mystik U #1 is a new take on classic characters in a setting that mines material from a certain popular kid wizard. It’s a combination that works for a first issue and promises interesting things to come.

Story: Alisa Kwitney Art: Michael Norton Cover: Julian Totino Tedesco
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Deadman #1

“Journey into Death” part one! When we last left Deadman, the true story had barely begun! Deadman’s death was unsolved, and his fate was intertwined with that of his parents and siblings. Even the Dark Night Detective couldn’t solve the mysteries of Boston Brand’s fantastic secrets! Now, Batman is back, confronting Deadman about who was really behind his death. Was Boston Brand’s assassination a test for the League of Assassins? Why does Batman think Ra’s al Ghul was involved? And why does Deadman need the help of Zatanna, Phantom Stranger, Dr. Fate and the Spectre to defend Nanda Parbat?

A lot happens as past, and present collide in Deadman #1. Writer Neal Adams throws in a lot in the first issue including Batman, Commissioner Gordan, Alfred, and Ra’s al Ghul into the story as Deadman tries to find our about the truth surrounding his death. The truth thought is not what he expected as an old nemesis returns. Adams packs a lot into an issue that dives into Deadman’s past.

The art is classic Neal Adams. Adams brings his signature style to this character and the world. That includes a lot of settings and events that reveal a quick origin story for Deadman.

The issue does a good job of catching up those that are unfamiliar with the character. Yet it also expands on that origin too. This is one for fans of Adams’ work.

Story: Neal Adams Art: Neal Adams
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Demon: Hell is Earth #1

Jason Blood and Etrigan: the best of enemies, destined to spend eternity bound together. When a haunting vision leads Jason to Death Valley, a supernatural weapon is unleashed, radically transforming not only the land, but also Blood…and the Demon. The worst, though, is yet to come, as hell begins to make its way into our world.

The Demon: Hell is Earth #1 is the start of this horrifying miniseries, where Etrigan and Blood’s relationship will be changed forever!

Written by Andrew Constant, The Demon: Hell is Earth #1 is excellent and proper return for Jason Blood and Etrigan. A prophetic dream haunts Jason, a little girl, and Xanadu foreshadowing what’s to come. Everyone is drawn to Death Valley as the dream connects them somehow. The title of the series makes much more sense once you get to the first issue’s end. While the full connection of everyone is yet to be revealed, I’m curious to see how it all comes together. What makes this little girl so special? What is her role to play here?

The art by Andrew Hennessy and Bradley Walker brings in a proper sense of darkness, magic, and prophecy. The art emphasizes the duality of Jason and Etrigan, with banter and how panels are presented. The artists also have some fun with their settings and the situation working in demonic faces and iconography as the hell is unleashed in the form of a mushroom cloud.

A good start, the series focuses on its two main characters who are tied together while setting up an interesting mystery.

Story: Andrew Constant Art: Andrew Hennessy, Bradley Walker
Cover: Andrew Hennessy, Bradley Walker
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Imaginary Fiends #1

“Polly Peachpit.” Those were the words ten-year-old Brinke Calle said when she was found covered in her own blood by the woods in rural Cannon Falls, MN. Her best friend, Melba, had just attempted to murder her because a spider girl named Polly Peachpit told her to.

Since that day, Melba has spent seven years in a mental health facility. Tomorrow is her eighteenth birthday. Tomorrow, she’ll be transferred to a federal prison. Tomorrow, her real sentence will begin.

That is, until she receives a visit from FBI Agent Virgil Crockett. Crockett explains that there is another world beyond ours, where hungry spectral aliens stalk the minds of the impressionable and weak. These things, called IMPs (Interdimensional Mental Parasites) feed on compliance. They convince hosts to do things for them, and the more they feed, the stronger they become. More IMPs stream into the world each day, invisible to everyone but his or her hosts.

After years of drugs and counseling, Polly and Melba have developed a unique relationship—and to Crockett, this relationship represents something her people can work with. In exchange for release from prison, Crockett asks Melba (and Polly) to serve as IMP hunters. For Melba, it’s a chance to prove that she’s innocent, convinced to murder by a monster…a monster she must now unleash.

Writer Tim Seeley creates a paranormal tale with Imaginary Fiends, filled with mystery, interdimensional beings, and murder. Along with the rather creepy beings, we’re also treated to disturbing nursery style rhymes in the process. Seeley does an excellent job of creating the setting and setting up the story to come with its focus on Melba and her situation in a mental hospital until she’s paid a visit and given an offer she can’t refuse.

The art by Stephen Molnar shifts as the settings shift, and things in Melba’s live go from innocence to incarceration. Molnar brings in a lighter, and brighter color scheme in Melba’s youth which contrasts with various shades of grey as she lives in the mental health facility. This shifts again as she moves into her new role. The art sets up the Melba’s mood in a way.

The first issue delivers an interesting set up that mixes together horror with a more traditional detective setting.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Stephen Molnar Cover: Richard Pace
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Grimm Fairy Tales: Dance of the Dead #2

Trapped in the Shadowlands, Mystere and Jasmine must rely on each other to survive while searching for a way to escape back to Earth. But the evil wizard Gruel has other plans for them and that includes suffering at the hands of his newest ally…The Snow Queen.

Nothing in the Shadowlands is exactly what it appears to be inGrimm Fairy Tales: Dance of the Dead #2. Mystere and Jasmine realize they share a common history and some issues as well. That allows them to bond, as the past of the Shadowlands is slowly revealed by writer Anne Toole.

The art by Enn brings in both past and present with unique visuals. There’s a clear distinction between the two with vastly different color schemes helping delineate which is which.

Despsite the two time periods, each moves the plot forward and action as Jasmine and Mystere try to escape the Shadowlands.

Story: Anne Toole Art: Enn
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Zenescope provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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