Author Archives: pharoahmiles

Review: Green Lantern: Mosaic #1

Green Lantern: Mosaic #1

When it comes to comics, the big two usually makes carbon copies of each other’s characters with slight tweaking. Look at the actual names of Deadpool and Deathstroke, two characters who are universally loved by everyone who follows them. They both have the same occupation but their personalities are where the differences begin to splinter. Eventually, comic fans make their own mind up on which version is superior.

Another such “coincidence” is the Green Lantern Corps and the Nova Corps. Both are galactic space forces ensuring the safety of the universe. I never quite caught on to the allure of the Nova Corps but definitely loved the Green Lantern Corps and the various men and women who wielded the Lantern Ring. One of my favorite Green Lanterns is John Stewart, a daunting hero in his own right and one which I wished had his own book. Fortunately, he did have a series back in 1992, Green Lantern: Mosaic.

We find John Stewart as he introduces the reader to the wonders of the Mosaic world, where everything is and is not what it seems. As John protects this world, he is also very much part of it, as he reveals that his also an alien within these confines. As we find out a bit of history behind the character and the struggles he endured while on Earth. By issue’s end, this new world of his own making is more than he could ever have dreamt of.

Overall, a fascinating almost psychotropic trip that both the reader and the character go on to understand what we have stepped into. The story by Gerard Jones is enigmatic and captivating. The art by the creative team is alluring. Altogether, an excellent story which feels like Star Trek with superheroes.

Story: Gerard Jones
Art: Brian Stelfreeze, Albert De Guzman, Cully Hamner, Dan Panosian, and Steve Mattson
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Blossoms 666 #1

Blossoms 666 #1

When it comes to teens and supernatural stories there’s few films that are much better than The Craft. The movie was more than ahead of its time in terms of characterization. The themes it dealt with and how it portrayed teens overall stands out. I was around the same age as the characters in the movie and was tired of seeing the tropes of the John Hughes era being recycled.  So, when I when watched the film, I joined in the collective sigh of finally seeing something close to what the high school experience had been for most of us.

Fast forward to today. Some of those same lessons learned from the movie have been used in today’s portrayal of teens. Many echoes from the film can be seen in shows like Pretty Little Liars and the Archie Comics based Riverdale. Both shows, even though they did not employ any genre themes, have inklings bubbling underneath. In the debut issue of Blossoms 666, we find two classic Archie characters taking a horror turn.

We are reintroduced to Cheryl and Jason Blossom, a pair of wealthy kids living in Riverdale, the same town as Archie and Jughead, and who is throwing a party where everyone from school is invited. Although everything seems normal, these two harbor some duplicitous intentions. As the siblings force a game of truth or dare, one where they to get the gang to do evil deeds to each other. By issue’s end, Cheryl pushes Dilton to exact revenge on Reggie for all the evil that he does.

Overall, an excellent beginning to an alternate take on an already established world. The story by Cullen Bunn is captivating and smart. The art by Laura Braga is beautiful. Altogether, another stalwart book added to the stellar pantheon of horror comics that Archie Comics has set a new standard to.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Laura Braga
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Cemetery Beach #1

Cemetery Beach #1

One of the most intriguing series I have ever watched was The Prisoner. For those uninitiated, it is about a man who resigns from his job, and is knocked unconscious. When he wakes, he’s in an exact replica of his apartment in London, but he is no longer in London. He’s been transported elsewhere, to a place where every move he makes is monitored, and his place in a town called The Village where its population, on the surface, look like happy normal people, that is until you realize everyone that lives there, is not of their volition.  The show only intensifies after that, blending different genres, making more than palpable but scintillating, a true masterpiece of storytelling.

It would be remade once again in 2009 with some interesting revisions to the source material. The eeriness that haunted the series was ever present. As many shows since then has sought to replicate that edgy atmosphere and degree of mystery throughout its plot. As very few creators can take a similar concept and make it even better? Warren Ellis is one of them as he and Jason Howard have crafted a thriller set on a colony in Cemetery Beach, one where the protagonists can lose their lives at any point.

We meet Michael Blackburn, a professional pathfinder, who has stripped naked and being interrogated as to how he ended up on Cemetery Beach, as he eventually kills the interrogator and finds his way out.  He soon realizes he doesn’t know his way out, which is when we meet, Grace Moody, a disaffected young murderess, who may spell trouble for Michael, more than he knows. As they escape, they board a transport ship under fire from the prison guards, leading it to crash and for Michael and Grace to find alternate means to escape. By issue’s end, their actions have caught the attention of the leader of prison planet, who is keen on not anyone knowing what is really going on in the planet.

Overall, an action-packed debut that feels like a rollercoaster and blows the doors off of everything literally. The story by Ellis, is funny, well developed and pulse pounding. The art by Howard is beautiful. Altogether, a great introduction to a world that looks familiar but is nothing like anyone has ever seen.

Story: Warren Ellis Art: Jason Howard
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Nick Fury: Deep-Cover Capers

Nick Fury

When it comes to polarizing figures in the Marvel Universe, there is none more iconic than Nick Fury. He’s effectively an operator in this world dominated by superpowers and galactic forces. He’s never in awe nor is surprised by their abilities but knows almost as much as they do and do all of this despite being a human man. The best analogy for him is a man amongst giants but just so happens to be a super spy.

As the one spy within this world that operates in the shadows and wields as much political power as he does, it truly is baffling to comprehend why more books have not been done about the character. It can be said that Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of the character has made him somewhat popular. As the last MCU movie, Captain Marvel, the character was portrayed as an agent who is looking to leave the agency until this superpowered being enters his life making him realize that the universe is even bigger than he ever realized. In this set of stories by James Robinson and ACO we find our protagonist before he became who we know him to be. Nick Fury: Deep-Cover Capers, gives us a different take on the character showing an even more exhilarating life before he became director of SHIELD.  

We first meet him on a mission in the French Riviera, as he meets his first nemesis, Frankie Noble, an agent of HYDRA and someone who looks to be more than his match. His next mission would send him to the Moon, to dismantle a mining colony ran by the Yakuza. As each mission gets dangerous, the stronger his skillset would become, as his next mission sees our protagonist prevent a high-ranking dignitary on a train trip in Mexico from being assassinated. As he would also have to blend into certain places like he did when he went undercover in Atlantis, to stop a HYDRA spy from stealing intel, all under Namor’s watchful eyes. Also, he would go on excursions he assumed were R&R but became a battle royale with the townfolk in a seemingly sleepy town. In the last mission, the creative team switches genres here, to tell crime story where Fury solves a mysterious death, a twist that no one saw coming.

Overall, an excellent set of stories about the beginning of one of the MCU’s most enigmatic figures. The story by Robinson is action packed, pulse pounding, and well developed. The art by ACO is gorgeous. Altogether, an excellent set of stories which will keep readers in the edge of their seats for every blockbuster of a story.

Story: James Robinson Art: ACO
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: American Gods: The Moment of the Storm #1

American Gods: The Moment of the Storm #1

Anyone who has read Neil Gaiman can reasonably ascertain why his writing is so magnetic. His prose can be at worst lyrical, at best heavenly. His development of characters gives you more than intimate look at these figures. The first book I read by him that drew me instantly was Neverwhere. It’s a rather ubiquitous and weird tour of those places not on the map, and hiding some of the most bizarre characters in London.

Then there was his run on Sandman. The comic series is a true masterclass in how to write an epic story while doing a deep exploration of character. The one work that has catched the public’s attention is American Gods, a tale of old and new gods right here in America and its popularity has only expanded with the television show. The show is currently in its second season and has made new fans of his work. While espousing on a variety of issues it shows audiences just how relevant the story is. In the debut issue of American Gods: The Moment Of The Storm, we find the Gods in the midst of war, burying an old friend.

We find the Old Gods transporting the body of Wednesday to his proper burial site, as a war between the old and new Gods are at its peak, and this burial offers a temporary truce. As Shadow, Anansi and Czernobog, enter Media’s house, the fragile cease fire leaves all especially Shadow uneasy. As he gets a visit by Mr. Wednesday through a dream, where his old employer warns him of the impending consequences of this meeting. By issue’s end, Anansi and Shadow share some air as Anansi lets him know of the slight the New Gods have sent the Old Gods direction.

Overall, a story that is both eccentric and compelling. It’ll both satisfy new and old fans. The story by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell is charming and intelligent. The art by the creative team is serviceable. Altogether, a story that dips the reader right into the world which is both familiar and mysterious.

Story: Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
Art: Scott Hampton, P. Craig Russell, and Glenn Fabry
Story: 9.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Monsterella #1

Monsterella #1

As an avid cinephile I’ve always been a fan of one particular decade, the 1970s. Though many of those movies don’t hold up in various ways, they makes up for it in level of quality in storytelling. The decade gave the world some of cinema’s celluloid classics. One of them being Easy Rider. Though made in 1969, the film defined the 1970s and is the one movie that all biker movies are compared to. Then there’s The Godfather. It’s a movie about Italian Americans made by an Italian American and the gold standard for gangster movies.

As I liked those movies my guilty pleasure were the exploitation movies made by Roger Corman and Jack Hill. The one movie that made fall in love with Pam Grier was The Big Bird Cage. The movie, though exploitative to women, was both entertaining and was part of its own subgenre, women prison movies. In the first issue of Monsterella we’re taken back to that world in the form of a comic. The story takes place on a prison planet holding the universe’s worst monsters and the warden is one of the baddest women in the galaxy.

In the first story, named after the protagonist’s namesake, we meet Montross Rella AKA “Monsterella,” the warden of prison planet Doormu and her comrade Zorgo. She thinks it’s going to be a normal day until a prison break occurs which happens to be a normal occurrence. In “Dungeon Of The Necromancer,” Monsterella and a pair of elves fight off a hoard of zombies. In “The Stork,” a mother feels the unease of harm coming her baby’s way. It’s a doom she’s helpless to stop. In the last story, “The Space Siren Of Sector 13,” one spaceship captain plays out his very own version of Beowulf.

Overall, an entertaining and diverse set of stories that will truly astonish any reader who is lucky enough to get their hands on this comic. The stories by the creative team are eerie, fun, and captivating. The art by the creative team is gorgeous in every iteration. Altogether, a great book that feels like an old issue of Heavy Metal.

Story: Nevin Arnold, John Rathiganthan and Josh Kully
Art: Nevin Arnold, Dan McKinnon, Eugene L., Sean Rinehart, A. Shay Hahn, Josh Kully, Andrew Fryer
and Gareth Gaudin
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Star Wars: Solo Graphic Novel Adaptation

Star Wars: Solo Graphic Novel Adaptation

When it comes to characters who exude the art of cool, there is one that stands out in science fiction, Han Solo. Harrison Ford’s portrayal of the smuggler defined what we think of the hero. He has become the prototype for what we believe all heroes start off as, reluctant. He’s basically every man and what the audience felt was their window into this expansive world.

No one necessarily wants to go against the grain. and neither did Han Solo. He just wanted to make some money by transporting Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, R2D2 and C3PO. Little did he know he would get caught up in an intergalactic uprising which would change the course of his life. He’s a major part of why the franchise is so popular. Fans everywhere have become ensconced in the movies’ mythology.  In Star Wars Solo: Graphic Novel Adaptation, we find out how this fabled character became who he is, legendary.

We meet Han, as he steals a speedster, with his childhood friend, Q’ira, but before they could leave, they are shake down by the local gangster. This leads Han to take matters into his own hands, as he provides a distraction, giving way for their escape, where they head to the closest spaceport, and where Q’ira is snatched while Han finds his escape, vowing to find her. This is when Han decides to become a cadet in the Imperial Army, so that he can learn to become a pilot. Fast forward three years later, Han is charged with being a deserter, and thrown in a pit, where he meets Chewbacca. Chewie provides their way out, where we our heroes meet Beckett and his band of marauders. They are recruited to do a job, one that can get them killed, as they are pulled into a train heist, where they lose someone on the crew. Han, Chewie and Beckett meet with their employer, which gives Han, an unexpected reunion with the one person he though he would never see again, Q’ira. This leads the crew to another job, to steal coaxium where we are introduced to Lando Calrissian, as he has the perfect spacecraft for the heist, the Millennium Falcon. When they get to the planet, they are imprisoned and from within, Han and Chewie incite a full-on slave rebellion. This leads to our heroes getting into a dogfight with Imperial fighters while Han races the Millennium Falcon through Kessel in twelve parsecs. They finally arrive in Savareen, where they are met with resistance, and someone long thought dead, is alive. By book’s end, a few double crosses leave the crew a little lighter, Han a little smarter and Q’ira, powerful.

Overall, a concise adaptation of this excellent origin story, one that will make fans love the character even more. The adaptation by Alessandro Ferrari hits all the right marks, while remembering who the adaptation is for. The art by Roberto Santillo is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that feels epic even in short page count.

Story: Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan
Adaptation: Alessandro Ferrari Art: Roberto Santillo
Story: 10 Adaptation: 9.0 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood has been one of my favorite authors for a very long time, and this was before every media outlet decided to adapt her work for television. Her ability to convey hurt, despair, and triumph despite circumstance, is what makes her a unique storyteller. The way she portrays her protagonists, you not only fall in love with them, you hope to be as brave as them.

I found about her, years before the famous adaptations, through a girl I was dating. It was through her love of Atwood’s work that I became enamored as well. The way she described each book, made me feel like these were places you had to visit. The first book, that she introduced me to was The Blind Assassin, a complicated murder mystery shrouded in family history and forbidden love.

I always wondered how her books would translate to comic form. She gave us an original story in Angel Catbird but it was her prose novels that deserve even further examination. For the first time, fans of hers will get to see how the world of Offred is brought to life via comic form in The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel.

We are dropped in the Red Centre. What was a gym, has now become the sleeping quarters for hundreds of women, all whom are silenced and their names taken. We meet Offred, a young lady who is less than a prisoner, as she becomes beholden to the man of the house, The Commander. We soon find out that in this world women are slaves. In this America, men hold power absolutely. We also meet the Commander’s wife, a wretched woman who sees Offred as another in a long line of women who will fail to bear the Commander a child. We also meet Nick, the Commander’s chauffeur, and someone Offred falls for. There’s Aunt Lydia, an austere warden of the women who bare children and a strict disciplinarian of any woman who gets out of line. Soon Offred gets into dangerous territory, an illicit affair with the Commander beyond the function of child bearing. The Commander also becomes infatuated with her.

Overall, the graphic novel is a skillful exploration of how humanity can turn on its own and the evil that can be resurrected when the dark recesses are left to wander in the minds of men in power. The story by Margaret Atwood is scary, heart wrenching, and unforgettable. The adaptation and illustration by Renee Nault are articulate and gorgeous. Altogether, if you loved the book and the television show, this interpretation is paramount to your understanding of this world.

Story: Margaret Atwood Adaptation: Renee Nault Art: Renee Nault
Story: 10 Adaptation: 9.5 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons Director’s Cut #1

Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons Director’s Cut #1

The first time I was exposed to Dungeons & Dragons was when I was in middle school. One of my friends asked if I wanted to play. I didn’t quite understand the game or even its allure at the time. It seemed to me that it was just pretending to be someone you weren’t, which I found was what made it so compelling. The next time I’d see anyone play it was when I was in the Navy.

The game itself is steeped in lore and contained hundreds of characters which explained why some of the smartest people I knew played the game in the first place. The negotiation and social skills one would learn from the game is something one would never think you can get from roleplaying. Fast forward to today and RPGs are some of the best kind of games you can play in person, on game consoles, and even on your mobile device. This what made Patrick Rothfuss’ collaboration with Jim Zub for the crossover between D&D and Rick & Morty so appealing. We get a deluxe edition of the first issue in the series, Rick And Morty VS Dungeons & Dragons #1: Directors Cut.

We find Morty on the school bus, as he listens in on two kids who play D&D, who are deep into a game, one which intrigues Morty enough to want in. As he ends up going to hobby store to pick up a handbook and ends up flirting with a girl working there. As he starts reading, he soon realizes that he is out of his depth and asks Rick to teach him. As he shows him how he learned, which is far out of date for nay player, which forces Rick to step his game up. This leads to him creating a machine where both of them can build characters and play the actual game within a game.

Overall, an excellent tale that imbues the love of the game and of the people that play them, as this edition gives readers extra scenes and an excellent behind the scenes of the book. The story by Rothfuss and Zub is hilarious, action packed and well developed. The art by the creative team is pretty much gorgeous. Altogether, a joy ride for fans of the game and the TV show and this special edition is for fans of the creative team and the astounding work they did on this book.

Story: Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub
Art: Troy Little, Leonard Ito, Robbie Robbins and Alex Cormack
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing and Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Rocko’s Modern Afterlife #1

Rocko's Modern Afterlife #1

One of my favorite movies of all time is the zombie movie, Shaun Of The Dead.  It stars my two favorite actors, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Their collective talent alongside Edgar Wright is something comedy fans have been enjoying for years. Each of their movies have found a way to connect to every type of genre.

What made me connect to Shaun Of The Dead is that it made it relatable to movie fans. Their characters were normal guys. It even made fun of many of the tropes that the genre usually transfixes on to hilarious results. It made me wonder how the zombie apocalypse would affect some of our favorite characters? In the first issue of Rocko’s Modern Afterlife we find our what happens when zombies hit our favorite neurotic dog.

It has been two weeks since people have started to act strange, particularly Mr. Bighead, as a zombie virus has hit Rocko’s city. For the first time, in a long time, he gets holed up in his house and a little bit stir crazy, as we also catch up with Heff, who now makes a living by playing video games. Before long, the zombie hoards, invade his house which now includes his dog, Heff. By issue’s end, he and his dog, Spunky, must find refuge, with his remaining uninfected friend, Filburt.

Overall, a story that feels equal parts Shaun Of The Dead and The Walking Dead while still remembering that this is for kids. The story by Anthony Burch is funny, and action packed. The art by the creative team leaps off the pages. Altogether, a story that will make you feel for these characters and will make you fall for them .

Story: Anthony Burch Art: Mattia Di Meo, Francesco Segala, and Ian McGinty
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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