Author Archives: Joe Bones

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Review: Commanders in Crisis Book One: The Action

Commanders in Crisis

In a multiverse, anything is possible. A multitude of Earths, each with its own series of diverging paths. Some of those paths lead to glory, while others are destined only for destruction. In Commanders in Crisis, four superheroes from doomed Earths are rescued minutes before their worlds implode. Together, they are the Crisis Commanders, sworn protectors of the new earth they now call home. The first arc of this series, created and written by Steve Orlando, is as stirring as it is irreverent. The first six issues of this series have been collected into a trade paperback, available now from Image Comics.

This is probably a blasphemous statement, but I don’t think Steve Orlando is a very good storyteller. Don’t get me wrong the guy excels at writing characters. He’s also clearly talented at writing scripts that are easy for the artist(s) to follow, as books he writes always look really good. Unfortunately, a story needs more than flashy concepts and interesting characters. The plot of Commanders in Crisis feels stapled together. The narrative ambles along from one plot point to the next, but never makes a lot of sense. There’s just too much going on within this six-issue story arc. Orlando peppers the story with super heroics, murder mystery, interpersonal drama, existential dread, and domestic terrorism but doesn’t do a good job of connecting all the elements together. Although there are some cool single moments, most of the story ends up being convoluted and confounding.

One thing I did enjoy about Commander in Crisis was the characters. They all have distinct personalities and possess creative powers. They also go through realistic struggles as they strive to understand and control their superpowers. The uniqueness of their powers sets the heroes, and this series, apart from other team superhero books. The Crisis Commanders roster also boasts a high level of diversity. That being said, obviously, any representation is great, but the characters’ diversities felt forced. Each characters’ racial differences and sexual orientations are used to describe who they are on the outside, but then are never really used to define who they are on the inside. By the end of the book, most of the characters felt more like tokens than representations.

As I said above, Orlando’s script and collaboration allow co-creator and artist Davide Tinto’s illustrations to really shine. The narrative’s timeline is easy to visually follow and the action sequences have a dynamic look. I especially appreciated the wide panels used in the page layouts. Using larger panels gives Tinto the chance to showcase the character’s emotions by drawing realistic expressions on their faces. The wide-set panels also makes letterer Fabio Amelia’s job easier, as he often has a lot of dialogue he has to fit in a single panel. Even with expert lettering and spacious framing, there are single panels that look cramped because of everything that is crammed into them.

Commanders in Crisis is the type of comic that doesn’t take itself seriously. Orlando takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the superhero genre, especially enjoyed the cheeky nods to the comic book industry. The story is full of creative concepts and exciting elements but beyond that, a lot of the story itself doesn’t make much sense. Despite its off-kilter writing, the artwork and general wackiness of this series do produce a few entertaining scenes. However, this is a title that readers should first browse before they commit to purchasing this trade paperback.

Creator & Writer: Steve Orlando Creator & Artist: Davide Tinto
Colorist: Francesca Carotenuto Letterer: Fabio Amelia
Story: 4.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Browse 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Venus Rises – Parallels (Part 1)

Venus Rises Series 3 #1

When it comes to Science-Fiction, I prefer sophisticated storytelling over flashy concepts. Space explosions and alien battles are all well and good, but I prefer a story that uses the genre to explore larger themes. This is a sentiment shared by indie comic creator J.G. Birdsall in his Venus Rises series. Birdsall is releasing a new weekly webcomic set in the world of Venus Rises exclusively to Patreon subscribers. The first issue of Venus Rises – Parallels will debut on May 5th.

In Venus Rises humanity has fled a ruined Earth and colonized its neighboring planets. The elites now live on Mars and their resources are supplied by a working class who has been relegated to Venus. At first, this arrangement was necessary for the survival of the human race. Now, tensions between the two groups have reached a boiling point and civil war looms on the horizon.

One of my favorite things about the regular Venus Rises series is that Birdsall is telling an epic story through smaller, more intimate moments. This trend continues in Parallels. The first issue’s narrative takes place across only two scenes, both of which have great pacing. Birdsall makes the most of the page count and pulls readers into the story within the first few pages. It then ends with a cliff-hanger that will have readers excited for more.

Although Parallels – Part 1 is a good jumping on point for current and new reader alike, the plot of this first issue is a bit vague. Taken at face value, the story is entertaining, but I would have liked to see a little more depth. No backstory is given, and the characters are never fully introduced to the reader. Admittedly, this is a first issue, so these aspects are most likely planned for later in the series. Yet, without adequate context, there is no real tension. Since we aren’t truly introduced to the characters, we have no sense of the stakes they face. Nor do we have a reason to care about their fates. As I said, I’m sure these things will eventually be covered, but it would have been nice to see them touched on in slightly greater detail.

Artist Bora Orcal draws the issue in a style that reminds me of the old pulp comics put out by Warren Publishing. The first half Parallels is illustrated with a high level of detail that looks like it has been penciled directly onto the page. Orcal utilizes complex line-work and expert shading. He captures the vastness of space while presenting spaceships and human beings in a believable and realistic scale. The second half of the issue is unfortunately drawn in less detail and lacks the same sense of scope as the first half. Whereas the first half has a refined look, the second half comes across as more abstract. The city in which the scene is set is drawn well but this isn’t always true for the characters. I would have liked to see the same level of detail upheld over the course of the entire issue.

Luckily, there are a few aspects of the art that unify both halves of the story. Although the issue is presented mostly in black and white, there are pops of color throughout. These accents highlight the focus of a single panel without distracting from the overall scene. Birdsall and Orcal also tell the story using creative page layouts. Even though the narrative doesn’t play out within a traditional grid, it’s always easy to follow the flow of a scene. The panels are laid out in such a way that the eye has no trouble following the progression of the story across the page.

If this review hasn’t been enough to get you interested in Parallels, check out this promo video. For those who want to catch up before jumping into this new series, the first two issues are available for purchase. You can also check out my spoiler-free reviews of Issue 1 and Issue 2.

Conceived and Written: J.G. Birdsall Art: Bora Orcal
Color: Elif Kut Lettering: Elif Kut
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Stargazer TPB

Stargazer

Missing person or alien abduction? This is the question Shae must answer in Stargazer. Written by Anthony Cleveland, Stargazer is part mystery and part science-fiction thriller. Published by Mad Cave Studios, this six issue series is due for release as a trade paperback on April 28th. When they were kids, Shae and her brother Kenny witnessed something unexplainable. As the siblings grew up, each sought to explain what they saw in their own ways. Shae chose the path of science while Kenny seemed to dive deep into delusions about what happened that night. Years later, Kenny disappears, and Shae must reunite with their old group of friends to track him down and discover the truth of what they saw when they were children.

Stargazer has a great balance of scenes set in the past and scenes set in the present. Cleveland mixes the two together well, combining them into a straightforward narrative. The story moves at a brisk pace with emotional beats and tense moments sprinkled in all the right places. Like any good mystery or sci-fi thriller, there’s more happening beneath the surface of the narrative than meets the eye. The plot has a lot of moving pieces, but Cleveland does a nice job of fitting them all together.

Antonio Fuso’s artwork is a bit uneven from one panel to the next, but I like how expressively he draws the characters’ faces. The character designs are clear enough for the reader to tell each character apart while being distinct enough to distinguish scenes set in the past from those set in the present. As a result, it’s always easy to visually follow the events of story. Each issue collected in this trade paperback features distinct page layouts. Fuso plays around with the frames of each panel, giving each page a dynamic look. I really enjoyed seeing characters “break the fourth wall,” in a manner of speaking, as they reached past or through the framing of each panel.

Stargazer is an emotionally charged and thrilling science-fiction adventure. I try not to use this phrase, but this graphic novel warrants an exception: once you start reading, you won’t be able to put this book down. It’s a fast paced read with as many loud action beats as it has quiet emotional moments. The artwork is unique, even though the quality of the linework varies in spots. Fans of sci-fi comics will want to add this book to their collections.

Story: Anthony Cleveland Art: Antonio Fuso
Color: Stefano Simeone Letterer Justin Birch
Story: 9.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Mad Cave Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Backtrack Vol. 2

Backtrack Vol. 2

Backtrack returns in the second volume of this full-throttle action series. Written by Brian Joines, the story follows a group of professional drivers from all walks of life. Each has been offered the chance to right their life’s greatest mistake. All they have to do is enter a race and be the first to cross the finish line of the final leg. Of course, there’s a catch. The drivers find themselves racing through time and fighting for their very survival with each subsequent leg of the course. There have also been hints that there is more going on than meets the eye, but the drivers have been too preoccupied with avoiding gladiators, earthquakes, and dinosaurs to do much investigating.

At the end of Volume 1, the drivers decided they needed to work together if any of them were to survive to the final leg of the race. As Backtrack Volume 2 begins, we see that some of the surviving drivers have taken this to heart, while others are still only out for themselves. After focusing mostly on Alyson during the first story arc, Joines widens the scope and gives readers more insight into the other racers’ pasts. I personally enjoyed this character development. It’s an addition that was largely missing from the first arc in the series. Use of flashbacks to break up the action scenes really helped to give the racing sequences more of a punch. Joines also uses these flashbacks to reveal further details of the motivations that lie at the heart of the each driver and the mysteries of the race itself.

Artist Jake Elphick does a great job of drawing the characters when they are shown in close-ups. He expertly conveys the emotions the characters are feeling in any given panel. I wasn’t as impressed with his skills when a panel is drawn from a wider angle. Some of the nuance is lost and it can be hard to tell the characters apart from one another. This is puzzling as Elphick draws the races at an appropriate scale, using combinations of wide and close-up panels to help readers follow the drivers’ progress along the course. The cars and their relative positions remain clear throughout the races, though at times it is tough to tell which driver is speaking or which car they are driving. Luckily, the settings of each race are extravagantly drawn, so even when a reader can’t tell exactly which driver is in peril or in the lead, there’s always other cool imagery they can take in.

While the first volume of Backtrack mainly focused on action and setting up the series, the story arc collected in this second volume feels much more flushed out. Readers are treated to the same high-octane action while also enjoying solid character development. The artwork hits a lot of high points though sometimes clarity becomes an issue. I recommend memorizing the type and color of car each character is driving. This would be unnecessary if things were drawn with greater detail in panels with wider perspectives. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. The second volume of Backtrack, published by Oni-Lion Forge, is out now and available for purchase. Pick up your copy today to see the thrilling conclusion to the series and find out which of the drivers ends up winning the race.

Story and Created: Brian Joines Art: Jake Elphick
Color: Doug Garbark Letterer: Jim Campbell
Story: 9.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Kingdom Kong

Kingdom King

Before there was a rivalry between Team Edward and Team Jacob, two different monsters polarized audiences, forcing them to choose which force of nature they were going to cheer on. Those monsters are King Kong and Godzilla. These two giants are set to face off on the big screen once again in “Godzilla vs. Kong” and Legendary Comics is providing the pre-game commentary in two new graphic novels. This review will focus on Kingdom Kong but be on the lookout for my review of Godzilla Dominion.

Kingdom Kong, written by Maire Anello, sets up Kong’s side of the conflict. This original graphic novel is a sequel to Skull Island: Birth of Kong, but as far as I can tell, you don’t need to have read it to understand this book. I’ve never read Birth of Kong and it didn’t stop me from enjoying Kingdom Kong. Anello gets the exposition out of the way at the beginning of the story. Quickly catching the reader up and setting the stage for the story that is about to play out. There are an unexpected number of science-fiction elements introduced during the setup. Although a cool addition to the Kong mythos, I felt a little bogged down by these details. Luckily, the pacing and action both take off soon after.

Once the setup is out of the way and the action begins, the storyline is very exciting. Between the exhilarating action scenes and the character’s emotional beats, Kingdom Kong is a real page turner. In addition to the compelling character work and stellar action, I also enjoyed the plot points obviously inspired by classic Eldritch horror. In addition, the story features a diverse cast of characters. Audrey Burns, the comic’s main human character, is especially well developed. Anello does a great job of making all the characters believable. They come off as actual people and not just players in an action comic.

The realism of the characters is further enhanced by Zid’s artwork. I always appreciate when an artist pays attention to the light source in each panel. This is something that Zid excels at throughout the graphic novel. He also expertly scales the kaiju. It’s easy to tell the size of figures relative to one another. This provides clarity to the scope of characters featured in each panel and gives the reader a real sense of the size and power of the kaiju.

Kong is illustrated very well. In every panel in which he appears, his might and majesty are readily apparent. He doesn’t look much like an actual gorilla but luckily, he also doesn’t look like a guy in a gorilla suit. One complaint I have with the artwork is that there are a few points in the story where it’s hard to tell the flashbacks from events in the present. Each is colored the same and time stamps are rarely used, so there are times when it’s hard to tell the difference between a character’s memories and the scene playing within the current storyline.

Members of Team Kong will definitely want to read Kingdom Kong. It’s probably not a bad idea to also check out the companion graphic novel Godzilla Dominion too. After all, it’s always best to know your opponent. Even if the contenders are giant kaiju monsters.

Story: Marie Anello Art: Zid
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Legendary Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Godzilla Dominion

Godzilla Dominion

I have loved Godzilla for as long as I can remember. As a kid I was drawn to Godzilla because he is the perfect mix of dinosaur and monster. As an adult, I appreciate the social and historical commentary often applied to Godzilla stories and films. As big a fan as I am, I’ve fallen behind on the more recent Godzilla remakes. I just haven’t had the time or the funds to see the newest movies. I’m hoping to change that, and the first step is reviewing Godzilla Dominion.

Published by Legendary Comics, Godzilla Dominion is an original graphic novel due out on March 30th. Written by Greg Keyes, the story is follow-up to the 2019 film “Godzilla: King of Monsters.” It is also a prelude to the upcoming movie “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I’ve already reviewed the King Kong tie-in comic Kingdom Kong; now it’s time to jump into Godzilla Dominion.

The plot unfolds entirely through narration and no in-scene dialogue is used. The narrative text is artfully written in a beautiful prose. The story is told from Godzilla’s perspective and drawn from a third-person perspective so that the reader can take in all the action. Although there are plenty of fight scenes, my favorite parts of this graphic novel were the moments of reflection upon Godzilla’s life and history. Keyes does an amazing job of imagining Godzilla as an actual living creature and not solely a freak of nature. He really gets inside Godzilla’s head and gives the reader a sense of what life must be like for the apex predator.

Artist Drew Edward Johnson draws Godzilla with a great sense of scale and scope, though I wish the depth of the ocean was communicated a little better. It always bugs me to see Godzilla swimming while completely immersed in water one minute and then suddenly standing in that same water moments later. Godzilla is expertly drawn, especially when he’s the only character in a panel. There are many full-page splashes and two-page spreads that truly showcase Godzilla’s elegant ferocity. Unfortunately, in many of the action scenes it is very hard to tell what is going on. Godzilla’s opponents and their actions become unclear, making it hard to follow the fight sequences. Unexpected changes in perspective between connected panels further confuse the imagery.

Those who haven’t seen the movie “Godzilla: King of Monsters” shouldn’t be worried. You don’t need knowledge of that film to enjoy Godzilla Dominion. There’s plenty of action in this original graphic novel but the main draw is the focus on Godzilla himself. Within the pages of this book is a very well-done character study that casts Godzilla in a new light. The art isn’t perfect but still manages to hit a lot of high notes while shining a spotlight on Godzilla. Godzilla Dominion is an incredibly unique book and well worth the time of both casual and longtime fans of kaiju films and comics.

Story: Greg Keyes Art: Drew Edward Johnson
Story: 10 Art: 7.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Legendary Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Elle(s): The New Girl

Elle(s): The New Girl

I love stories that feature characters with multiple or split personalities. It’s a trope that works in nearly every genre. Demonic possessions in horror, crazed killers in crime thrillers, unreliable narrators a la Fight Club. They all make for compelling stories. The coming-of-age story is one genre where this trope is seldom applied. That’s about to change thanks to Elle(s): The New Girl.

Released in the states by Europe Comics, Elle(s): The New Girl follows the titular character as she adjusts to life at a new high school. It’s hard enough for a single kid to move to a new school. Such difficulties would be exponentially tougher for a student with Multiple Personality Disorder. This is the plight Elle faces in this original graphic novel, written by Kid Toussaint.

Considering that the narrative revolves around Elle, Toussaint does a great job of developing her character. Even while her new friends come off as a little silly at times, Elle is always grounded and comes across very realistically. Toussaint also gives the reader a chance to get to know Elle before any of her split personalities are introduced. This is a smart move on the writer’s part, as it keeps her disorder from becoming gimmicky. I was very impressed with the strength of the English translation. All the dialogue makes sense and none of the context appears to have been lost. Although the narrative is straightforward, this heartwarming story does have a few interesting and unexpected twists.

Aveline Stokart’s artwork immediately catches the reader’s eye. It has a digital quality to it, almost like a two-dimensional Pixar film, yet it still leans closer to realism than animation. Stokart’s color choices make the tight line-work of her illustrations even better. She uses a bright color palate, giving each page a warm look. She also utilizes a fun mix of fonts that separate the regular dialogue from visual onomatopoeia and representations of text message conversations. My only complaint about the art is that there were a few panels where the placement of the speech bubbles made it hard to tell who was speaking. Beyond that minor and rare issue, the rest of the artwork is on point.

Elle(s) is an incredibly cute story about friendship and learning to be true to yourself. I really enjoyed reading a graphic novel that demystifies a common mental illness. Elle is relatable and the reader cannot help but root for her. The compelling story is made all the better by the near-flawless artwork. This title will keep the attention of readers of all ages but would be especially appropriate for a young adult audience.

Story: Kid Toussaint Art: Aveline Stokart
Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Europe Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Hazards of Love Vol. 1 Bright World

The Hazards of Love Vol. 1 Bright World

It’s the start of a new year. The time when people set resolutions in order to better their lives and themselves. The quest to become a better person is the central theme of The Hazards of Love. This original graphic novel, published by Oni-Lion Forge, is due out on March 31st. In what’s becoming a rarity in the modern comic book industry, this book is the product of a single creator. Stan Stanley does it all in this graphic novel. She’s the writer, artist, colorist, and letterer. The graphic novel, subtitled Book 1: Bright World, collects the eleven issue first arc of the marvelous and creative series.

In The Hazards of Love, Amparo makes a deal with a talking cat, hoping to be made into a better person. Instead, the cat steals Amparo’s body and sends them to a strange realm known as Bright World. One of my favorite things about this graphic novel is that Amparo is a queer non-binary character. Amparo is very dynamic and defined by more than just their gender. Their tough attitude, infectious charm, and bold tenacity makes them relatable and fun to read.

One thing I find endearing but far fetched was that all the characters are immediately accepting and cognizant of Amparo’s neutral pronouns. One random girl misgenders Amparo in a single panel. Every other character, from the school bully to the magical denizens of Bright World, uses the correct pronouns. It’s a great inclusion as far as representation goes and I for one hope to one day live in a world where such understanding is as common in our world as it is in The Hazards of Love.

All of the dialogue in this graphic novel is light-hearted and humorous. Stanley crafts an interesting and multi-faceted love story. I’m not usually the biggest fan of romance, but if I’m going to read the genre, this is the type of love story I want to read. On the other hand, I do read quite a bit of YA fantasy. So I can say with confidence that Stanley’s story hits all the high points that I want out of that particular genre. All of the characters are unique with their own distinct personalities. Just when I started to get bored with a particular situation or locale, Stanley changed things up and introduced a new setting, scenario, or character.

Stanley mixes illustrative styles throughout the graphic novel. Her characters are drawn in a way that reminded me of The Magic School Bus. Her title pages and narrative text is all drawn and colored so that it is reminiscent of Dios de los Muertos decorations. Whether they’re more realistic looking or the bright pastels inherent from Mexican culture, Stanley’s color choices work together to connect all of the imagery together. She also uses visual onomatopoeia to creatively illustrate sound effects. These are drawn and colored in such a way that they practically pop from the page.

There are occasional discrepancies between how the characters are illustrated. Amparo is drawn much more animatedly than Iolanthe, even when they’re together in the same panel. Iolanthe stays realistic and natural-looking while Amparo looks very much like a cartoon, complete with bugged-out eyes and elastic features. This animated illustration style works better when Amparo is paired with the anthropomorphic animal characters in Bright World than it does when paired with Iolanthe or other human characters. Having said that, Bright World is drawn and colored so intricately and beautifully that these slight deviations can be easily forgiven.

As we move into 2021, all of us are hoping for a better year. The Hazards of Love is both something to look forward to and a reminder of the risks one must occasionally take in order to become a better person. The story is full of excitement, humor, and touching moments. The artwork, especially the colors, is spectacularly done. There are a few minor flaws, but they aren’t enough to detract from the greatness of this graphic novel. Upon finishing the book I was immediately excited to find out what happens next.

Story: Stan Stanley Art: Stan Stanley
Color: Stan Stanley Letterer: Stan Stanley
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Godzilla Dominion

Godzilla Dominion

I have loved Godzilla for as long as I can remember. As a kid I was drawn to Godzilla because he is the perfect mix of dinosaur and monster. As an adult, I appreciate the social and historical commentary often applied to Godzilla stories and films. As big a fan as I am, I’ve fallen behind on the more recent Godzilla remakes. I just haven’t had the time or the funds to see the newest movies. I’m hoping to change that, and the first step is reviewing Godzilla Dominion.

Published by Legendary Comics, Godzilla Dominion is an original graphic novel due out on March 30th. Written by Greg Keyes, the story is follow-up to the 2019 film “Godzilla: King of Monsters.” It is also a prelude to the upcoming movie “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I’ve already reviewed the King Kong tie-in comic Kingdom Kong; now it’s time to jump into Godzilla Dominion.

The plot unfolds entirely through narration and no in-scene dialogue is used. The narrative text is artfully written in a beautiful prose. The story is told from Godzilla’s perspective and drawn from a third-person perspective so that the reader can take in all the action. Although there are plenty of fight scenes, my favorite parts of this graphic novel were the moments of reflection upon Godzilla’s life and history. Keyes does an amazing job of imagining Godzilla as an actual living creature and not solely a freak of nature. He really gets inside Godzilla’s head and gives the reader a sense of what life must be like for the apex predator.

Artist Drew Edward Johnson draws Godzilla with a great sense of scale and scope, though I wish the depth of the ocean was communicated a little better. It always bugs me to see Godzilla swimming while completely immersed in water one minute and then suddenly standing in that same water moments later. Godzilla is expertly drawn, especially when he’s the only character in a panel. There are many full-page splashes and two-page spreads that truly showcase Godzilla’s elegant ferocity. Unfortunately, in many of the action scenes it is very hard to tell what is going on. Godzilla’s opponents and their actions become unclear, making it hard to follow the fight sequences. Unexpected changes in perspective between connected panels further confuse the imagery.

Those who haven’t seen the movie “Godzilla: King of Monsters” shouldn’t be worried. You don’t need knowledge of that film to enjoy Godzilla Dominion. There’s plenty of action in this original graphic novel but the main draw is the focus on Godzilla himself. Within the pages of this book is a very well-done character study that casts Godzilla in a new light. The art isn’t perfect but still manages to hit a lot of high notes while shining a spotlight on Godzilla. Godzilla Dominion is an incredibly unique book and well worth the time of both casual and longtime fans of kaiju films and comics.

Story: Greg Keyes Art: Drew Edward Johnson
Story: 10 Art: 7.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Legendary Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Kingdom Kong

Kingdom King

Before there was a rivalry between Team Edward and Team Jacob, two different monsters polarized audiences, forcing them to choose which force of nature they were going to cheer on. Those monsters are King Kong and Godzilla. These two giants are set to face off on the big screen once again in “Godzilla vs. Kong” and Legendary Comics is providing the pre-game commentary in two new graphic novels. This review will focus on Kingdom Kong but be on the lookout for my review of Godzilla Dominion.

Kingdom Kong, written by Maire Anello, sets up Kong’s side of the conflict. This original graphic novel is a sequel to Skull Island: Birth of Kong, but as far as I can tell, you don’t need to have read it to understand this book. I’ve never read Birth of Kong and it didn’t stop me from enjoying Kingdom Kong. Anello gets the exposition out of the way at the beginning of the story. Quickly catching the reader up and setting the stage for the story that is about to play out. There are an unexpected number of science-fiction elements introduced during the setup. Although a cool addition to the Kong mythos, I felt a little bogged down by these details. Luckily, the pacing and action both take off soon after.

Once the setup is out of the way and the action begins, the storyline is very exciting. Between the exhilarating action scenes and the character’s emotional beats, Kingdom Kong is a real page turner. In addition to the compelling character work and stellar action, I also enjoyed the plot points obviously inspired by classic Eldritch horror. In addition, the story features a diverse cast of characters. Audrey Burns, the comic’s main human character, is especially well developed. Anello does a great job of making all the characters believable. They come off as actual people and not just players in an action comic.

The realism of the characters is further enhanced by Zid’s artwork. I always appreciate when an artist pays attention to the light source in each panel. This is something that Zid excels at throughout the graphic novel. He also expertly scales the kaiju. It’s easy to tell the size of figures relative to one another. This provides clarity to the scope of characters featured in each panel and gives the reader a real sense of the size and power of the kaiju.

Kong is illustrated very well. In every panel in which he appears, his might and majesty are readily apparent. He doesn’t look much like an actual gorilla but luckily, he also doesn’t look like a guy in a gorilla suit. One complaint I have with the artwork is that there are a few points in the story where it’s hard to tell the flashbacks from events in the present. Each is colored the same and time stamps are rarely used, so there are times when it’s hard to tell the difference between a character’s memories and the scene playing within the current storyline.

Members of Team Kong will definitely want to read Kingdom Kong when it releases on March 30th. It’s probably not a bad idea to also check out the companion graphic novel Godzilla Dominion too. After all, it’s always best to know your opponent. Even if the contenders are giant kaiju monsters.

Story: Marie Anello Art: Zid
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Legendary Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: AmazonBookshop

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