Author Archives: Joe Ryan

Review: The Despicable Deadpool #300

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**POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW**

It cannot be an easy thing to write a character for a long time and consistently come up with unique things, especially when it’s a superhero, but I am happy to say that Gerry Duggan did just that with Deadpool. Wade Wilson has always been a mouthy, hard to kill, merc who has given us stories that are dark but filled with humor, but Duggan took that to a new level with his run. From fighting Dead Presidents, the Uncanny Avengers, the Mercs for Money, to the original way Duggan told stories during Secret Empire, there was always something refreshing and new.

The Despicable Deadpool #300 continues the theme of super violent cartoons, which is basically an adult Looney Tunes (as I have said before adults can watch Looney Tunes too!). It marries violence with dark humor. It’s the jokes you cringe at sometimes, but still laugh. It’s like Family Guy, South Park, but in a comic book with basically an invincible superhero. So often superhero titles are filled with serious plots, and that is fine, and sure others have some humor, especially Marvel titles, but it leaves room for things like Harley Quinn and Deadpool. Titles like these go for the uber-silly, and all bets are off for breaking the fourth wall, and going into territory many of the other titles just can’t.

This comic brings a lot of the running themes and jokes in Duggan’s run to a close in what you can expect in this title. There’s plenty of gross, plenty of ridiculousness, plenty of violence, and plenty of comedy. Even if the jokes don’t always land, it almost seems intentional. Wade isn’t some top level stand up comic, he’s more like a hacky amateur at open mic night throwing out everything that is in his head. It’s also his coping mechanism, as this arc and issue show us Wade wishing to die, by putting a price on his own head. He’s a sad character, but he is also funny. This is reflective of many people we may know in pop culture, and in our own personal lives. These clowns that we watch perform for us, just trying to make us and themselves laugh, while dealing with real pain.

You can’t do a comic book without art, and this oversized issue gives us quite a bit of great varying style pencils Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli, and Mike Hawthorne. The first part of the book deals with the gross, but it still found a way to make me laugh. The way many Marvel characters we know and love show up to deal with Deadpool, but for reasons I wont spoil, vomit all over the place, was creative, and so stupid in that perfect Deadpool way. Miss Marvel’s cheeks growing to a massive size has to be the highlight. The panel work showing all of it was creative and funny. The car chase sequence was also awesome, and quite classic Deadpool. This part of the book was the most traditional for the series, with it bringing a more cartoon style, which fit the action perfectly. For the final sequence, we get some really off the wall sequences as we prepare to wrap the issue up. There’s some really fantastic panel work here as well, showing Wade hook an IV up for himself, all inside of little panels while you see the main “shot” taking up the full page below the panels.

The inks by Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli, and Mike Hawthorne are all as equally varied as the pencils. Each section of the book (which the art is cut into a section by three artists) gives us sharp lines, great shadows, and good depth to our characters. Much like the pencils and colors, there is a lot of inking done in this oversized issue, and the quality never dips. The colors by Nick Filardi, Ruth Redmond, and Jordie Bellaire all range from a more muted tone approach in the first section of the book, where we see everyone vomiting orange and yellow, and as gross as this scene intentionally is, the colors work to not make it as gross as it could have been. The next section gives the brighter colored cartoon approach as I mentioned earlier, and gives us brighter reds, blues, and makes the superhero costumes we know and love pop. In the final section, it is more muted tones again, and gives us a nice colored pencil look to the artwork. The hell sequence in particular is awesome and the fire looks like it could come off of the page.

I would recommend this book to Deadpool fans old and new, and there’s really something special for you if you’ve followed this run. But even if you haven’t, and you want something so dumb, but in a good way, this is the comic for you. Deadpool is about taking your brain off and having a blast, and every once in awhile it gives you a touching moment, but after that, it may give you a fart joke, and I love it for that. Congratulations to all of the talented writers and artists that worked on this run and helped make it so fun and interesting. Now let’s see what the next run brings us for the Merc with the Mouth!

Story: Gerry Duggan Pencils: Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli & Mike Hawthorne Inks: Scott Koblish, Matteo Lolli, Terry Pallot, Craig Young & Mike Hawthorne Colors: Nick Filardi, Ruth Redmond & Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Joe Sabino Cover: Mike Hawthorne & Nathan Fairbairn
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Avengers #1

*MINOR SPOILERS BELOW*

I am happy to say The Avengers are back. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s get into why Avengers #1 is such an awesome thing for Marvel, and Avengers fans everywhere. While the last Avengers story, which introduced the new character Voyager (complete with a big plot twist of who she really is), was a lot of fun, I felt that the core Avengers title was fairly lackluster for a few years. I enjoyed The Uncanny Avengers far more than the main book, and I felt the title that should be Marvel’s biggest and best book was not living up to it’s legacy (pun intended).

So how do you inject life into a title that has had so many good runs over the years while also keeping it somewhat original on the storytelling front? You bring in Jason Aaron. This is the man who has been writing The Mighty Thor for years with both Jane Foster and Odinson and all of the wonderful characters of that world. He wrote Original Sin before that as well as many other titles like Wolverine, and more. It makes a ton of sense to bring Aaron on, since he is easily one of their top writers. I could go on for quite a bit about his awesome work on Southern Bastards, and more of his creator owned work, but let’s focus on The Avengers shall we?

Avengers #1 brings us back to a status quo for some of our big classic heroes like Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. There is even a great joke in this book where Aaron takes a jab at Hydra Cap, Unworthy Thor, and gives us a new name from Tony Stark himself, Coma Tony. It is a great moment where the three of them are in a bar and discussing getting the band back together. It is great dialogue, and something Aaron excels at. You can tell the three of them need this, after what each of them has been through the last few years, even if all of them may not want to admit it yet.

We also get to see Doctor Strange and Black Panther together investigating some disturbances below the Earth. Again we get some fantastic dialogue between Stephen and T’challa, and another great joke from Doctor Strange about his Strange Sense tingling. I loved the dynamic between the characters, and can’t wait to see more conversations as more team dynamics expand. The book also gives us glimpses of Robbie Reyes as Ghost Rider, She-Hulk, and Captain Marvel all in different parts of the world, but by the end, all of them are converging on the massive threat that is hitting Earth, which is pretty awesome, and very epic in scope.

It would be wrong of me to not mention the awesome 1 Billion BC Avengers, because they are also a lot of fun, and a great set up. You may remember them from the Marvel Legacy one shot from last year, if you read it. The team is made up of Odin, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider (with a flaming Mammoth), Phoenix, Black Panther, Starbrand (who is a Hulk), and Agamotto. These characters are great not only because of their design and the introduction of them fighting the Celestials, but because of the legacy they provide to our modern day Avengers. When I first heard about this older team, I had my doubts, but they really pay off in this issue in a very cool way.

The pencils by Ed McGuinness is classic style Marvel. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that it is outdated, but that it really has that old style superhero comic approach where everyone is a bit bulkier and wider. It is nostalgic while also feeling unique. There is a lot to draw in this issue, and McGuiness drew the hell out of it. From the opening pages alone, the 1 Billion BC Avengers look fantastic, as does the Celestials, as well as our modern team. Also, the panel work that McGuiness provides is really interesting and varies quite a bit. On some pages, there’s no panels at all and the scenes just blend together in a very cool one or two page spread, where on others, the panels are done to uniquely move the story forward in different ways. The inks by Mark Morales keep everything crisp and along with the colors by David Curiel help everything pop with awesome shadows and scenes that cover such a wide array of tones.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a classic Marvel fan, a new Marvel fan from the movies, or really anyone who enjoys superhero comics or movies. It’s a great jumping on point for fans of the old and the new. It gives us the heroes we missed, while giving us some other members that I cannot wait to see shine in their new larger roles. It’s been a while since She-Hulk has had big moments, Captain Marvel deserves more of the spotlight and is getting even more popular, especially with her upcoming film, and Robbie Reyes has always been a great character, and also gives us Ghost Rider while also giving us someone new under the hood. Not since Jonathan Hickman’s last run on the book have I been so excited about The Avengers title. Avengers Assemble!

Story: Jason Aaron Pencils: Ed McGuinness
Inks: Mark Morales Colors: David Curiel Letterer: Cory Petit
Cover: Ed McGuiness, Mark Morales, Justin Ponsor

Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Despicable Deadpool #299

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**POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW**

We have one more issue of Gerry Duggan on Deadpool, and it is bittersweet for me. I love what he has done with the character, even at times making him a full on hero with the other book he wrote for awhile, The Uncanny Avengers. He has been a part of The Unity Squad, worked for Hydra-Cap or as Wade refers to him, Stevil Rogers during Secret Empire, and even had another classic battle with his friend and foe, Cable. Duggan has brilliantly kept Wade a hilarious character, but wasn’t afraid to show the darkness in him too.

Deadpool is similar to Spider-Man in that he jokes, even when he may feel uncomfortable. The difference is, Wade is a far darker and more tragic character. Peter Parker is hiding his identity, so he wears a mask. Wade is hiding his horribly scarred face, so that’s why he wears one. He was a lab experiment, and has massive amounts of PTSD, but he just jokes about everything, because life has become a joke to him. However, in this run, he finally had some people that he cared about. He had people he trusted. Now don’t get me wrong, Deadpool didn’t all of a sudden become a saint. He still ran the Mercs For Money, and ripped all of his fellow conmen off, leading them to want to join in on the fun of killing him that many other villains, and now SHIELD agents share.

In The Despicable Deadpool #299, we continue to see Wade double down on his ridiculous plan. He has put out a hit on himself, and many villains, and his former mercs, and some others who he wronged, are out to collect the reward. Again, this is a great joke, but it is also very tragic. Wade wants to die. There’s a part of him who has become a joke because his life has fallen apart. Again, and again, and this time he really seemed to try hard to be as good as he could, and for awhile he was an actual hero. Now he has returned to the why bother anti-hero mentality, but with a bigger disregard for his life than he’s had in recent years. I am not saying Deadpool is Shakespeare, but there is an element to it that reflects those kind of tragedies. There’s just more vulgar jokes mixed in.

The artwork consists of Mike Hawthorne on pencils, Terry Pallot on inks, and Jordie Bellaire on colors, and they give a style you can expect from a Deadpool book. It’s cartoonish, which fits the ridiculous nature of the comic, but also has a hint of a realistic look to it. Sure, all comic books may apply to these styles in some way shape or form, but Deadpool is the perfect comic to walk that line between the over the top style of cartoon violence in something like Looney Tunes and an R-rated action film like John Wick. It’s always been the way the Deadpool books have been drawn, and this title stays to that consistency, and that is a good thing.

I recommend this title for anyone who wants not only a light, fun read that is adult in nature, but also anyone who wants to see how this great run by Duggan and company will come to a close. The next issue is super sized, and this one mostly dealt with a lot of set up. There’s a bunch of pieces in play from throughout Duggan’s plots that are all going to come to what I imagine will be a ridiculous, and awesome head in Deadpool #300. This is going to be a blast, especially with Deadpool 2 hitting theaters soon.

Story: Gerry Duggan Pencils: Mike Hawthorne
Inks: Terry Pallot Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Joe Sabino
Cover: Mike Hawthorne & Nathan Fairbairn
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Mighty Thor #706

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**POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW**

She was The Mighty Thor! She has thunder in her veins!

This may feel like the end, but it isn’t. Jason Aaron will continue writing Odinson in the upcoming Thor #1 which will be the next issue following this comic, The Mighty Thor #706. It is a bittersweet ending, but the legacy of Jane Foster as The Mighty Thor will now be cemented into Marvel lore. There were many detractors of a female holding Mjölnir high into the sky and having the power of a god, but I was not one of them. To describe the amazing world building and storytelling that Jason Aaron has achieved in this comic for the last few years as a simple market ploy or being too politically correct would be an injustice. The way it was done made sense. The respect the to the title and the lore were given were tremendous. Jane was Thor, and she was an awesome Thor.

The brilliance of having a character who questions Gods and their selfish actions, becoming one herself, but still in her heart and soul being a mortal, and a sick one at that, is inspiring. Jane Foster was such a good Thor in fact, that she even got Odinson to notice his own selfishness, and in turn affect his own legacy as The God of Thunder going forward. Even the grouchy and smug Odin had to stand in awe at the bravery Jane showed facing off against the Mangog. She demonstrated to all of Asgard what it means to be a hero, and a super hero at that. Even when she knew it would hurt her more and more each time she donned the hammer, she knew she had to do the right thing, and for that, she belongs in Valhalla.

Thor comics have always married the lore of Norse mythology and the superhero world beautifully. There are some classic runs, and now Aaron and Dauterman belong in those conversations. It was consistently the best Marvel comic every month for years in my opinion, and I am excited to see where Aaron goes with another one of my favorite artists, Mike Del Mundo. Speaking of art, it would be a crime to not talk about the beautiful work that Russell Dauterman and company produce each week. Whether it be the jaw dropping covers, or the interiors that are colored like paintings by Matthew Wilson, this team goes above and beyond. The last issue was drawn so well with a sense of violence, despair, then hope, and just layers of emotion that you could feel jumping off of the page and into your senses. With this issue, it’s a slower pace. It allows us to reflect, to take it all in, to cry if we so wish, and mostly to just say goodbye to a truly special arc and run that is nothing short of epic and iconic.

I love where this book leaves us, and it has a fantastic twist, ending, and set up for the new #1 coming shortly. This will give longtime fans their Odinson back, while proudly ending the book without cancelling it or Marvel listening to so many people telling them how the stories should be written. This comic was a perfect balance of inclusion, while not forcing anything for the reader. It made sense for Jane to be Thor. It made sense for Odinson to go through some tough times and grow. Now because of her legacy, he is a better Thor. I highly recommend this book, and this run. It’s one of my favorite comics in recent years, and Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson should get a standing ovation for what they’ve done. I stopped typing to do one now, they just can’t see it.

Story: Jason Aaron Pencils: Russell Dauterman Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Joe Sabino Cover: Russell Dauterman
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Daredevil #601

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*POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW!*

I came to this run of Daredevil written by Charles Soule a few issues after it had come out. I never expected it to grab me as much as it did. From the intriguing villains like Tenfingers, and Muse, to newer and interesting characters like Blindspot, and how well Soule wove the deep history of friends and foes of Matthew Murdock’s past in with new storylines so well. Fast forward quite a few issues, and this series is still fantastic, and in my opinion, one of Marvel’s best titles.

Now, to have a truly great Daredevil run, you really should have Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin in there, and I am glad to say that’s exactly what this arc has, and lots of him. I like my villains to be layered, and to sometimes surprise you, and what Marvel has done with Fisk lately with the Civil War II miniseries and the other miniseries following that, both showed you another side of the character. Sure he’s violent, unpredictable, corrupt, and menacing, but there’s also an oddly compassionate, forgiving, admiring side there too. He may be a bad guy, but he’s not quite Carnage. Now with Fisk being mayor, we get a balance between both sides. You can see he cares about things, and isn’t pure evil, but if you get in his way, he will run through you like a bull would to red cloth.

I am happy to say that this arc of Mayor Fisk just keeps getting better. From the minute Fisk became the mayor, to the fallout from Daredevil #600, to this issue, I have been loving every minute of it. This is what superhero comics should be. Filled with action, but also give you some unexpected turns, some great dialogue, and set up what comes next. Soule does that masterfully here. Even after this comic has finished, I am wondering where he will go next in issue #602, and that is exciting. Don’t get me wrong, you may have an idea where it will go, but there’s always some new and intriguing development in this arc, and I love it.

Due to a loophole, Matt Murdock is now the mayor of New York City, while Wilson Fisk lays in the hospital from The Hand’s ruthless attack on him in the last issue. He acts immediately, setting into motion a plan to take on the deadly assassins, and free his friends, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Misty Knight, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, and Colleen Wing. I cannot wait to see where this goes next issue, and I am sure we can all guess, it’s going to be all out war. Don’t forget Blindspot, because I am sure he will be there too.

The art by Mike Henderson and colors by Matt Milla are great. The muted and bright reds blend together to give depth and shadows to a not only Daredevil, but The Hand as well. There are some fantastic panels with very little or no text on them, and they flow from side to side perfectly, creating some awesome action sequences. Henderson does an awesome job on pencils with this comic considering the big shoes Ron Garney leaves when he isn’t on it.

If you have never read a Daredevil comic before, but are a fan of the Netflix show, grab this and issue #600 and you will be fine with the story going forward. You may need to figure some things out along the way, but this is a solid jumping on point. If you love Daredevil comics, and aren’t reading this run, or even this arc, do yourself a favor and buy these comics, or wait for the trade. Either way this story and this run will go down as a classic run in my opinion.

Story: Charles Soule Art: Mike Henderson Colors: Matt Milla Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Marvel Superhero Adventures: Spider-Man and the Stolen Vibranium #1

36C1F446-04C1-4E3E-A102-71E55FAD2BA1From the moment I saw the cover of the all ages comic Marvel Superhero Adventures, I was super excited for my children to read it. They are both massive superhero fans, and let’s face it, it’s an amazing time to be a kid with all of the Marvel and DC properties in movie theaters, cartoons, toys, but what about the comics? Sure, they’ve existed, but are many parents giving their children the comic books these awesome characters come from? And do parents know what comics are safe for their children to read? As a parent who grew up reading comics as a kid, and them still obviously being a big part of my life, I love to share the joy of reading them with my children, but I understand the medium can be a little intimidating, confusing, and foreign if you’re not as familiar with it. I will say with great certainty that this comic is great for kids of all ages.

There are already titles that work well for children, like Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and the numerous Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy series, and even DC’s Super Powers which my son adored. The list goes on and on from TMNT, to other wonderful series included in the BOOM! Box line. Marvel Superhero Adventures and the upcoming Marvel Rising are Marvel seemingly pushing these titles more than they have in the past, and hopefully they catch on and give a gradual stepping stone to the other existing titles as children grow older.

The bulk of the comic drawn by Dario Brizuela is something close to Marvel’s own cartoon Superhero Squad. The characters are short and stocky, but it’s a great style that really works and kids will grab onto immediately. It never feels like the characters aren’t themselves, and the action is fun for kids of all ages. This comic is really like stills from a cartoon, and that seems intentional. The beginning and ending pages are a more classic style featuring Spidey telling the story that exists in the book to a criminal he catches. I think the more cartoon like style works better for this comic, but this is still a cool effect, perhaps bridging this comic to a style comic readers are more used to. Also, the cover by Gurihiru is awesome. It is truly t-shirt or poster worthy.

If you are a parent or a kid at heart, this book will have something for you. The story by Jim McCann is a quick action filled tale of Spidey working with Black Panther in Wakanda fighting Doctor Octopus. It doesn’t really feature too many words that show slow young children down, and if it does, well then it will be fun to read with their parents or have it read to them. I am always encouraging parents to bring comics into their children’s lives, and this is a great way to start, or continue. I have added this to my pull list at my local comic shop for my children, and they are very excited to have it in their hands.

Story: Jim McCann Art: Dario Brizuela Cover: Gurihiru
Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Despicable Deadpool #298

F6B941B0-6E78-4459-9135-97409830283DReading Deadpool can feel like a darker, more adult version of Looney Tunes. If you took Wile Coyote, Bugs Bunny, and made them swear more, you’d basically have the Merc with the Mouth. The Despicable Deadpool #298 continues those over the top cartoon moments in a big way, and this title is going to miss Gerry Dugan writing it. The next run of the book is bringing on Skottie Young, who while he may be more known for his art, is no stranger to wacky over the top tales with his own I Hate Fairyland. That being said, I am still sad that Duggan is done in a few issues.

As a series, Deadpool usually doesn’t pretend to portray a kind, caring, or compassionate hero like we usually get with our heroes in Marvel Comics. Sure, he had a moment in this run and when he was on The Uncanny Avengers and aspiring to be better, since he looked up to Steve Rogers so much, but that was short lived. After the events of Secret Empire, and Hydra-Cap tricking Wade to do horrible things, Deadpool has given up the hero idea. Not only has he lost people, and killed people that he regrets killing, Deadpool now also has a bounty on him. This issue brings some great villains like The Juggernaut, Taskmaster, and Bullseye, who are all out to get the $20 million reward on Deadpool’s head.

The pencils by Mike Hawthorne are great throughout the book. He keeps everything moving at a fast and funny pace with non-stop action as Deadpool tries to fight off the villains who are trying to collect the bounty. Juggernaut, Taskmaster, and Bullseye all look fantastic, and so does Wade. The style by Hawthorne walks the line between realism and cartoonish. It balances the ridiculousness of a cartoon style story perfectly with the real world setting, and it works perfectly for a Deadpool book. Jordie Bellaire on colors and Terry Pallot on inks bring the pencils to life. The combination of the three of them really make the artwork standout on the book, and give even more humor to an already funny book. A Deadpool comic has to have funny moments in the artwork, and not just the words alone, and this issue is no different.

If you like Deadpool comics, you will be right at home with this issue. It’s silly comfort food, much like cartoons. Sometimes this book makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me surprised, but it always makes me smile. I don’t need to think of multiverses, or timelines, or anything deep, and while those things are wonderful in other titles, I love that Deadpool is simply unapologetic. You know what you’re getting most of the time in this series, and that’s okay.

Story: Gerry Duggan Pencils: Mike Hawthorne
Inks: Terry Pallot Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Joe Sabino
Cover: Mike Hawthorne & Nathan Fairbairn

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

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Briggs Land: Lone Wolves TPB

*Minor Spoilers Below*

If you are a citizen of the United States, you can own your own land, but what do you really own? What can you do on that land? Can you form your own laws? As most people find out, the answer is no. But what about your own country? This is a concept that has been discussed before. People have discussed Texas leaving the United States, and just recently the same was mentioned regarding California. Everyone knows about The Civil War of course. So the idea of a separate set of ideals and laws inside of the United States isn’t new. But what about a large swath of private land that is within a state forming it’s own nation, instead of the entire state itself? Could they have their own rules, borders, and citizens immune from the greater United States federal laws? These are the questions that Briggs Land ask and begin to answer.

This isn’t a standalone comic series. It is actually the successor to the original Briggs Land comic that ended at #6 from the same creative team that gives us this book, Briggs Land: Lone Wolves. This trade can really be seen as Briggs Land #7-12, but instead, they went with the Lone Wolves subtitle. Perhaps it is the fact that #1 issues sell more, but for whatever reason they decided to forgo the numbering, and take this route. Either way, the story continues and it is excellent.

Brian Wood crafts a tense story that shows a community of multiple generations living off the land, and how the United States government, DEC, FBI, and everyone else has to deal with it. The story mostly follows Grace Briggs, and her three sons who help her run the operation which takes place in Upstate NY, not far from the Canadian border. Grace has been trying to fix the things her husband Jim (who is in prison) have made over the years. The community is attracting the junkies from all over the area, having turmoil within, and is constantly on the watch of the police, ATF, FBI, and more. You can draw similar while not direct correlations to Waco, Texas and the tragedy there, the recent Buddy family standoff in Oregon, and the Montana Freeman in the 1990s. That isn’t to say this story borrows everything from those, but the theme of a tense situation of law enforcement and private citizens has its precedent.

That isn’t to say that Briggs Land is the first form of media to tackle this topic, but it isn’t something you see often in comics. Sure, the medium has changed from just pulp noir and superhero comics over the years, but even for the ever changing scope of comic books, Briggs Land: Lone Wolves feels fresh and new. The show is currently in development at AMC, with the writer of the comic, Brian Wood writing the pilot.

As I have stated in previous single issue reviews that I did for Briggs Land, I am always impressed by the artwork that Mack Chatter creates. He has a very realistic approach, and captures emotion perfectly. I am happy to report that he continues the trend of fantastic work in this book. I found myself looking at the facial expressions of the characters in quieter scenes to try to see if I could interpret what each character was feeling or thinking. Sure I had no way to know if my perception was accurate, but I found it so interesting. Everyone feels real, and layered. He and Brian are a great team, and I look forward to more work from them in the future.

Vanesa R. Del Ray and Werther Dell’Edera also give unique styles with their artwork for the book. While I prefer the book to be Wood and Chatter, these two artists did enough with their material to stand out and be recognizable from the rest of the book. I tend to prefer one artist on a book, as it makes for a seamless reading experience and makes everything seem to flow better, but I liked both of their work, and they both provide something new for the series. Lee Loughridge soars on colors, and I have to mention the excellent use of muted tones like light blues, browns, greens, and more that are used in this book so effectively. Instead of just a deep green for a foliage scene, Loughridge will use different shades of the color to really bring life to whatever the artist has drawn. There are also some very good uses of only a few colors being used in a panel, with one being dominant. For example, the inside of a store the characters are in may seem all yellow, with a little green and blue to give a very indie feel to the scene. It isn’t used all of the time, but when it is, it is done very well.

I recommend this book not just to anyone who has read the first Briggs Land, but to new readers as well. You should read the first trade, Briggs Land: State of Grace not only to know what is going on, but also because it is also excellent. The philosophical questions raised in this book are fun to chew on. How free are we? And how far is a community, or even a private citizen allowed to go before the government intervenes. I am excited where this series goes from here, and have high hopes that the tv show happens and happens soon. It is also exciting to read a story that takes place around where I grew up. Seeing cities like Albany, Malone, Utica, and more bring a smile to my face, even in the dark world that Briggs Land presents.

Story: Brian Wood Art: Mack Chatter & Vanesa R. Del Ray & Werther Dell’Edera Colors: Lee Loughridge Letterer: Nate Pikos of Blambot Cover: Mack Chatter & Brian Wood
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Dissonance #1

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MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

Dissonance is a new science fiction comic series that weaves a complicated web of backstory and plot. The story is set up with a lot of potential, but ultimately, felt like it could have delivered much more. To sum the story up as simply as possible, there is a parallel world to Earth named Terra Fantasme that houses a futuristic people named The Fantasmen. These beings have shed their skin so to speak, and are spirits that lack conscience, or souls. This is where the story sets up the plot device that these beings need humanity as mortal hosts to give these beings a chance to end their war, and achieve prosperity once again.

After combing the galaxies for years, they find Earth. Here is where the desperate species makes a pact with humanity to combine into something new, and in turn, share their technology and their immense knowledge with Earth. This merging is called Dissonance. While these concepts to me are very interesting, the delivery felt like it could have been much better. At the same time, this story does tell a complicated set up, and has to do it in a few pages, so I can understand why it was done this way.

The story is written by Singgih Nugroho and Ryan Cady. After the initial set up I mentioned above, the rest of the comic follows the assassination of a model at the international fashion show. This piece was confusing, and takes the story into government corruption like we’ve seen many times before. I am still a little lost on why this was done, aside from it being something to start a war or chaos with the humans that are protesting those who want to embrace or achieve dissonance, and those who are protesting against it. The book continues to set up what appears to be our villain or villains, while there is some scheming going on with some of the other characters who have their own agenda. We also meet what appears to be our main character, who in my opinion, was introduced far too late into the comic.

The art by Sami Basri has a nice clean look to it, with the colors by Sakai Yuwono popping and bringing the book alive. The art to me is the best thing this book has going for it besides the concept, and there are some panels that look quite fantastic. It shares a similar look with The Wicked & The Divine, so if you like that style, you will like this too.

I would say that this series could improve in the next issue or two, especially with needing so much set up on a complicated story like this, but as of right now, it left me wanting a little more coherent and perhaps slower sci-fi story. You’re mileage may vary, and you may very well enjoy this comic more than I did, I just was expecting a different kind of book.

Story: Singgih Nugroho & Ryan Cady Art: Sami Basri
Colors: Sakai Yuwono Letterer: Jake Ady
Cover: Varsam Kurnia Creator: Melina Curphy

Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Maestros #1

2E6866E8-9BF3-48A3-A836-D3BA7E71304C*MINOR SPOILERS BELOW*

If I had to describe Maestros #1, and I should since you took the time to read this review, I would say it’s part Tarantino, part Big Trouble in Little China, and part fantasy story. That is simplifying what is essentially one of the craziest, and prettiest comics I have read and looked at in recent memory. The only book I can think of that rivals the beautiful art married with a ridiculousness fun story of this level is Head Lopper.

The story starts off with the murder of Maestro, and the rest of the royal family. All signs point to the evil wizard, Mardok, who kind of looks like a Shaman and a flying Monkey from Wizard of Oz combined. We meet Margaret, who is told the news by a talking flower person who lets her know that since she had divorced Maestro, her and her son, Willy were spared. She then realizes she must go to her son to protect him. It’s a fun set up, and from here we see things start to go off the rails from a traditional fantasy plot.

We then meet her son, Willy, who is a wizard who is using his magic powers to enlarge the genitals of an oil salesmen in a seedy bar. He admits to a few of the ladies that he is speaking with that he could use his powers for more, but this is just temporary. Chaos breaks out and the mother and son are on the run from the evil forces of Mardok. It happens very quickly, and it is a lot of fun. The dialogue by Steve Skroce is witty, edgy, and works within the craziness of this world. They actually speak like real people, even though they are inside of a wacky fantasy tale.

I couldn’t finish talking about this book without discussing the beautiful art, which was drawn by Steve Skroce as well, and it is really something to see. Even with some graphic scenes of violence in the beginning, I found myself taking in all of the little details. Skroce is a heck of an artist, as he showed on the Brian K. Vaughn book, We Stand on Guard, and he does a stellar job again here while pulling double duty as the writer. The colors are also masterfully done by Dave Stewart, and really help this awesome book come to life. What would a good fantasy or sci-if story be without an awesome palette? Not very good or full of imagination, and thankfully that isn’t the case here. All bets are off as we see a wide array of color, and it is beautiful.

I recommend this book, as long as you do not mind a little swearing, a little violence, a little nudity, and a lot of craziness. If you like books like Head Lopper, or other out there original stories that are trying to do their own thing, and incredible art, then give Maestros a shot. It’s insane, in all the right ways.

Story: Steve Skroce Art: Steve Skroce Colors: Dave Stewart Lettering: Fonografiks
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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