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Review: Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run

Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler's Run

As far back I can remember I have always loved Star Wars. As the original movie came out on the year of my birth. I took it as a sign as me and the universe would forever be entangled. As me and my cousins grew up buying the toys from the franchise and dissecting the original movies more than a hundred times.

We were also part of the generation who grew up frustrated for years without new content onscreen. We would find solace in the books released b the Lucasfilm Story Group. As many of the stories would re-imagine many of our favorite characters in ongoing adventures, even some between the movies.  In Greg Rucka and Ingo Romling’s brilliant Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run, our two favorite scoundrels find themselves go on a secret mission which has more than a few bumps along the way.

We are taken to Yavin 4, where Han and Chewie are loading supplies onto the Millennium Falcon and we find Leia and Han arguing about this mission she is ordering him on. As Han immediately infers that it’s a “suicide mission”, as the must go to Cyrkon to find a rebel spy , Ematt, whose team was murdered and he was the lone survivor and may be the key to the rebellion surviving the war. Of course , they are not the only ones looking for him as Commander Beck  from the Imperial Security Bureau , is looking to finish the job she start when she assassinated his team. As ouCyrkon, r heroes and Beck land on Cyrkon, Han and Chewie run into some bounty hunters hired by Jabba the Hut to get the money owed, but Han uses his cunning to trick Beck into providing him cover fire so he can escape. Once Beck realizes what happens, she forces the bounty hunters to help track down our heroes. Han and Chewie eventually find Ematt but get captured by Beck before they could flee Cyrkon. Thankfully, their friends, Delia and Curtis, come to their rescue, giving them a way out but the Imperial Fleet is nipping at their heels. By the book’s end, our heroes escape, Beck relents at losing them and the Rebellion lives to fight another day.

Overall, Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run is a nice adventure which doesn’t get too swept up in canon, and remembers to have fun. The story by Rucka is exciting. The adaptation by Worley is brilliant. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run is a story that is escapism at its finest.

Story: Greg Rucka Translation: Edward Gauvin Adaptation: Alec Worley Art: Ingo Romling and Amauri Osorio
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Rise Of The Djinn #1

Rise of The Djinn #1

The beauty of humanity does not lie in the good deeds we do, but in our daily fight within the beautiful struggle. As we go about our daily lives, it’s the choices we make along the way. It is often small acts like “being slow to anger” or “owing someone your absence”. These are not mere acts of good will, but often an act of self care.

Remembering this fact is often difficult when dealing with life’s many trials and tribulations. It is hard to remain steadfast when you are in the middle of the storm. Only wisdom can show us it is within those trials and tribulations which shape your character. In the debut issue, Rise of The Djinn #1, our protagonist is in the midst of one such “storm”, until some family history suddenly comes to light.

We’re taken to modern day Southern Iraq, where a man is on the run from a pair of Djinn, who is trying to warn him of an oncoming war, that is completely unavoidable, and sides must be taken. The reader is transported to the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington DC, as we meet our protagonist, Detective Tamara Brazile, as she is about to enter a hostage standoff alone, but nothing is what it seems, as a Djinn awaits her in broad daylight, leading to a tragedy where her husband, a fellow police detective gets killed on the scene and to make matters worse, her doctor tells her a few days later, she has stage four breast cancer. As she tries to find meaning in her grieving, she starts to see otherworldly things, like when she saw the Djinn at the hostage standoff, leaving her more bewildered than ever before, leaving her blindly searching for the serial killer who killed her husband that fateful day. To keep her distracted, her Captain puts her on special assignment, with two FBI agents looking for stolen relics from Persia. As they chase down clues, she becomes victim to a tripwire bomb, leaving her body mostly burnt,  and mostly dead, until something g miraculous occurs, her body starts to heal b  itself, unexplainable to any reason modern medicine can provide. By the issue’s end, Tamara realizes she has powers, what she is seeing is real and a new mysterious ally comes to her aid when a pair of Djinn try to ambush her.

Overall, Rise of The Djinn #1 is a fun issue which proves how excellent a storyteller, Kevin Grevioux , really is. The story by Grevioux is action packed. The art by artist Elmo Bondoc, colorist Jorge Cortes, and letterer Taylor Esposito is elegant. Altogether, Rise of The Djinn #1 is a story that comic book fans will enjoy if you like your crime noir with a dash of high fantasy.

Story: Kevin Grevioux Art: Elmo Bondoc
Color: Jorge Cortes Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Scarenthood

Scarenthood

As a fan of Supernatural, I enjoyed the show for most of its entire run. I enjoyed the dynamics between the brothers and how they sacrificed themselves for each other. Season after season, the love between them and for those who they call “family”, made their adventures more than your typical procedural. At its core, it was really a show about family. The recently collected comic series Scarenthood has that same building block at its core.

I often wondered what kind of life the siblings of Supernatural would have if their lives were more stable. We saw a bit of this in the series finale, as one meets their end during a job while the other goes on to live a “normal” life. I secretly wanted both of them to find peace in the series conclusion. In a similar iteration, Nick Roche and Chris O’Halloran gives us a spin on this very question with their deceivingly biting Scarenthood.

The comic focuses on a group of parents, Jen, Cormac, Rhona, and Flynno, as they commiserate over what they will do when they don’t have their kids. From there the story spirals into an investigation concerning the schoolhouse the kids go to. Scarenthood delivers a flipped dynamic of what we’d expect. Instead of the kids investigating the haunting and what goes bump in the night, it’s the parents while the kids are away.

The series delivers its strength in the setup but then getting the reader to question what’s real, if anything. Is this just parents breaking down and losing it? Is there really an evil force out there. The series does a great job leaving you guessing as it builds. But, no matter what, the series focuses on the relationships between the parents and the parents and the kids to build a group of characters you care about.

Overall, Scarenthood an eerie and relatable story. The story by Roche is scary. The art by Roche and O’Halloran is gorgeous. Altogether, an excellent comic collection that is a fine addition to the horror genre.

Story: Nick Roche Art: Nick Roche and Chris O’Halloran
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Jewish Brigade

The Jewish Brigade

As a fan of Quentin Tarantino, I have loved just about all of his movies. There is definitely no denying his understanding of cinema and his deep knowledge of movies. His love for movies can be seen in his best movies, Kill Bill Volumes I & II.  His appreciation for Hong Kong cinema is embedded in every celluloid of those movies and employing Gordon Liu and Sonny Chiba in pretty memorable roles.

But like every one of his fans, I have my favorites. One of those movies is the extraordinary Django Unchained, a hybrid of the Spaghetti westerns and Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s. The other favorite movie of his, is the epic Inglourious Basterds. In that epic movie we follow a group of Jewish soldiers who were more than happy to fight the Germans. That story has its loose bit of history based on the infantry in Marvano’s The Jewish Brigade. In that graphic novel we follow the exploits of one of the most heroic regiments of WWII.

In the first story, we are taken to June 1945 Poland, where we meet two British soldiers, Leslie and Ari, who just so happens to be Jewish, and can be easily identified, as they get to wear the Israeli flag on their uniforms. As their mission is to hunt Nazis hiding and Leslie finds one disguised as a priest, gains an ally, in Safaya, a former concentration camp survivor and rescue survivors of a nearby concentration camp. As the reader son finds out, that many of the Holocaust survivors would end up staying in months in the camps that they formally were imprisoned while awaiting transit somewhere else, most of them wanting to go to Palestine. In the second story, it is now July 1945, the war rage son in the Pacific, while Europe remains in utter shambles, as the continent tries to pick itself back up, sitting on the cliff of civil war and the boys are searching for a secret network which smuggles Nazis into South America. Meanwhile Ari gets tasked with moving the Jewish survivors in Graz while they were being detained by Russian troops. As Leslie discovers just how insidious the network is, when he comes face to face with the most notorious Nazi name connected to it. As Leslie and the reader find out, that even though thousands of lives were rescued when the concentration camps finally were closed, many would die months later from the torture and malnutrition the suffered all that time. In the final story, we are taken to April 1948 and Leslie is on a new mission near the Lebanon border, where his plane gets shot down. He meets Safaya, much more grown up from the last time he saw her, and the partitioning plan that was created by the United Nations Resolution 181, splitting the country into Israeli and Arab. As the reader and Leslie find out just how far back these hostilities between Arabs and Jews go, as Safaya would go on a combat mission, to save a Jewish settlement. By the story’s end, Leslie goes on one last all out mission, saves Safaya and starts a new life by her side in Palestine.

Overall, The Jewish Brigade is a different look at World War II, that shows that most of the time, heroes are in plain sight. The story by Marvano is glorious. The art by Marvano is beautiful. Altogether, The Jewish Brigade is a graphic novel that illuminates these great men’s heroics and the bravery of doing what’s right no matter what.

Story: Marvano Art: Marvano Color: Bérengère Marquebrueco
Translator: Montana Kane Letterer: Sylvain Dumas
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dead Reckoning provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat

Four Fisted Tales: Animals In Combat

Animals have been part of the human experience for tens of thousands of years. If you look around someone you know owns an animal or you may even see animals as strays in your neighborhood. We all are participants in the experience of living, humans and animals alike. The criminally under watched Warhorse details the connection between a young man gone off to war and the horse from his farm, who would see war on the frontlines as well. It made me wonder then, how often something like this has happened?

There are stories of people and animals that became turning points in different conflict all throughout the world and many of them have never been told. Ben Towle in his new book for Dead Reckoning, Four-Fisted Tales: Animals In Combat, seeks to change that narrative by introducing readers to four animals who fought as bravely as their human counterparts.

In the first tale, we find the Harlem Hellfighters camped in Argonne during WWI, finding a momentary distraction in the simplicity of glow worms. In the second tale” Jack”, we get a story about dog who fought along Union soldiers during the Civil War and was captured twice before being traded for a human Confederate soldier. In “Ships Cats”, we get a concise history of the ship’s cats of the Royal Navy, which is surprisingly is long and distinguished. In “Dolphins”, we find out about the little known secret program that the US Navy had for dolphins, using them to carry out covert missions. In “Mascots”, we find out about instances through modern warfare where animals were used as symbols of intense pride. In “Satan”, we find out how one dog not only carried messages but saved a whole infantry in France. In “Seagulls”, we find out how the Royal Navy used seagulls to find German submarines.  In “Mine Detecting Rats”, we find out the Vietnamese use pouched rats to seek out landmines from the Vietnam War, which still kill inhabitants to this day. In “Wojtek”, we find out how one Syrian Brown Bear kept a Polish infantry safe and from attacks in Iraq. In “Slugs”, we find out how scientist used slugs to detect mustard gas before troop movement.  In “Horses”, we get the prolific history of these majestic beasts which stretches back more than 5,000 years. In the final chapter “Carrier Pigeons”, we find out about the storied use of these animals dating back to Julius Caesar to even the Gulf War, proving their indispensability.

Overall, Four-Fisted Tales: Animals In Combat is a great graphic novel which shows how integral animals are to the war effort. The stories by Towel, is well researched, enthralling and heartfelt. The art by Towle is beautiful. Altogether, a book that will not only enlighten readers but will make you wonder why these stories have not seen the light of day until now.

Story: Ben Towle Art: Ben Towle
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Dead Reckoning provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Rivers

Rivers

The power of social media lies in creating an artifice. Everyone you know is somewhere on social media. They have Facebook , Instagram or Twitter, or even Tiktok. The original premise was to connect online with family and friends and that has morphed into creating whole new realities.

One of the original platforms, Myspace, sought to connect with people across the World Wide Web. Now those platforms are used for commerce more so than connection. It makes you wonder if anything real. In David Gaffney and Dan Berry’s Rivers, through the power of technology three strangers connect through, dreams.

We’re taken to 1992, in the north of England, where two boys are enjoying their favorite comic, The Ghoulor Hunters, which is where we meet Gideon, fast forward to present day, and he is a game developer, whose work is primarily solitary but he has a work friend in Lisa, whom he confides in. Then there’s Heidi, who has not left her home in days or weeks, as she works from home and hadn’t found a reason to leave, as much of her trauma, is tied to her relationship with her father. Then there’s Peter, who delivers classic cars all throughout England, but despite that, his life is mostly mundane. Everything changes for these three strangers as they use the Dreamr app, and realize that they are dreaming about each other. As a chance meeting between Gideon and Heidi, leaves both befuddled, wondering is this all crazy coincidence or kismet, as Gideon reveals he has found Heidi’s father who disappeared from her life 20 something years ago. By the graphic novel’s end, Gideon confesses his love for Lisa and the reader finds out Peter is Heidi’s father, giving them the reunion they have both longed for.

Overall, Rivers is a story that melds science fiction and slice of life into a beautiful tale. The story by Gaffney is heartfelt and relatable. The art by Berry is gorgeous. Altogether, an excellent story that understands the need for human connection.

Story: David Gaffney Art: Dan Berry
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Death of Doctor Strange #1

The Death of Doctor Strange #1

As a lifelong comic book fan, I can honestly say, I love living in the times we are now. Growing up, the only thing we had to see onscreen were the cartoons from Marvel. Eventually, we would see the Japanese version of Spider-Man, which doesn’t quite hold up. Then there was the Incredible Hulk TV show, which actually showed a complex superhero, before the modern explorations we’re able to enjoy now.

Then came the Blade movies, and we not only got to see action in the horror genre but watch comic books start to become part of the mainstream. Fast forward to now, and we have comic book superheroes in live action and animated TV shows and movies. The recent hit MCU TV show What If..? proves you can tell complex compelling stories using animation. In the debut issue of The Death Of Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme has finally met his mortality, leaving the world defenseless without him at guard.

We open on Stephen as he awakes in the Sanctum Sanctorum, as he goes on  a walk with Bats, he recount show his gift for surgery came back and how he has at least returned to it , part time.  Of course, his job as Sorcerer Supreme takes paramount, as he stops a police shooting a man who was possessed b the Seven Sons of Cinnibus, thereby severing a connection to the evil lords, whilst saving the man’s life.  Later, we find Stephen teaching a class at the Strange Academy, where Dole, Dormammu’s son , sense his father’s presence nearby, alerting Stephen to spring into action, with Illyana by his side,  as he encounters the Crimson Bands Of Cyttoraki  who have entered his dimension. Then everything gets titled on its head, when one night as he sits in the Sanctum Sanctorum alone, a malevolent force is at their doorstep and has Stephen at a disadvantage. By the issue’s end, all his allies feel his life-force leave the astral plane, the mystery of who killed lies at the center, Mordo is not the culprit and multiple extra dimensional invasions are happening all over Earth.

Overall, The Death Of Doctor Strange #1 begins a crackling murder mystery that proves anyone can be the villain. The story by Mackay is exciting. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, a thriller worthy of Dashiell Hammett.

Story: Jed MacKay Art: Lee Garbett
Color: Antonio Fabela Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Last Annihilation: Wakanda #1

The Last Annihilation: Wakanda #1

The recent MCU series What If?, is one of the studio’s best projects to come out in recent years. As the stories they have told thus far, has transcended what they have done in the movies. As the latest episode as of this writing, asks the question, if Killmonger used his intellect to outsmart Iron Man and Black Panther, how powerful could he become? These types of questions would only be asked before, only in the comic books.

The show posits possibilities that if one took a different road or made a different decision, just how drastically different things would be. The aspect I loved about the show thus far is how much it has delved into the world of Wakanda. As it has become increasingly apparent that the Wakandans are at the center of whatever is going on in the MCU. In this one –shot we find Black Panther and M’Baku as the join forces to fight Dormammu in The Last Annihilation: Wakanda #1.

We open on M’Baku , as he reminisces about his friend, Nakia, and wonders the meaning of life , after he fought with T’Challa against the Emperor N’ Jadaka, and raising N’Jadaka’s daughter, Zenzi, who is being trained with the Dora Milaje. T’Challa is soon contacted by the Shiar Imperial Guard, as they have intel that the forces of Dormammu is carrying out a galaxy wide invasion , which forces him to ask M’Baku to help, with the assistance of Shuri, Manifold and Vibraxas. As soon as they arrive on Shiar home world, the discover a planet overrun by Dormammu’s forces, pushing Manifold to seek the guidance of Zawavari, one of Wakanda’s most powerful mystics, who uncovers the villain’s main motive, to have power over fear. M’Baku returns our heroes to Planet Bast, to retrieve a KouKou Array a device which can shake a whole planet to death, but can be repurposed to protect the planet from magical energy from Ego. By issue’s end, T’Challa and Storm arrive to help, giving them another weapon to use and proving M’Baku can be more than he ever saw himself to be.

Overall, The Last Annihilation: Wakanda #1 is an excellent one shot comic which adds dimensions to these characters we have come to love. The story by Narcisse is layered and thrilling. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, a great book which highlights one of the MCU’s favorite characters.

Story: Evan Narcisse Art: Germán Peralta
Color: Jesus Aburtov Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1

The minds at the Disney understood the world of Star Wars before they even owned Lucasfilm. They had been minding the wonder of magic for decades. They knew how to feed their fanbase before they even knew what they wanted. I dare anyone to walk through one of their parks, and not be pulled in by how enchanting the whole place is.

So when they acquired Lucasfilm, they already knew how they wanted to approach the franchise and how to expand it. The continuation of The Clone Wars and the two seasons of The Mandalorian proved just how committed the were to keeping fans interested. Where they really shine is in finding those stories within the universe, like in Rogue One. In one of the first standalone stories about the Bounty Hunters within Star Wars, we get the backstory to a minor character whose origin is much more complicated in Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1.

We are taken to Ord Mantell City in the Bright Jewel System, where find Boushh and his crew just took back a stolen vehicle for a boss from the Black Sun. We soon find out Boushh had been banned from his home planet Uba IV and often take dangerous jobs to keep fed. As they take on a job form a duplicitous character named Margo, where they must eliminate the executive board of the Tagge Corporation. We soon meet Lady Domina, the head of the corporation who took out most of her family members to rise to the top, and the family’s insidious plans makes The Emperor’s ruminations infantile in comparison. Boushh’s crew finally invades the ship they are, taking out most of the corporation’s security, but they several underestimated Domina. By the book’s end, though Boushh and his guys were defeated, they instead find a compromise, and join forces with Domina to extinguish her enemies.

Overall, Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1 is a story I didn’t expect much from and was pleasantly surprised to find an action packed sidewinder. The story by Alyssa Wong is exciting. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, an excellent story that will excite long time fans of Star Wars.

Story: Alyssa Wong Art: David Baldeon
Color: Israel Silva Letterer: Ariana Maher
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Star Trek: The Mirror War #0

Star Trek: The Mirror War #0

In anepisode of Hollywood Masters, the Farrelly Brothers spoke at length about how the wrote characters and how they develop motive. It was quite compelling and offered an interesting way to examine characters as well as stories. The brothers also gave some insight about how gray fictional characters are, but also people in general. It’s the story the determines how certain characters respond. This doubly true when you talk about Star Trek and anything dealing with the Mirror Universe.

That’s what makes Star Trek so compelling. The show delivers so many motivations for characters and even the same character depending on which universe it takes place in. In Star Trek: The Mirror War #0, we catch up with the crew of Enterprise-D shortly after their defeat in the Prime Universe. And that defeat may spell their doom.

Star Trek: The Mirror War #0 opens up on the Enterprise-D crew as the away team is about to board an empty freighter. The crew believe the ship to be automated and easily cannibalized for supplies. What they soon realize is that they’ve fallen into a Cardassian trap barely escaping. It’s a solid opening full of action and makes you believe things can’t get any worse for the Enterprise and her crew. But, they’re called by to Earth to appear before the Emperor setting up an issue full of machinations, assassination attempts, and betrayal.

Overall, Star Trek: The Mirror War #0 is an excellent story set in the Mirror Universe. It’s a debut that’ll have Star Trek fans remember why that setting works so well for the series. The story by David Tipton and Scott Tipton is enthralling. The art by Carlos Nieto and DC Alonso is gorgeous. Altogether, Star Trek: The Mirror War #0 begins a story which ratchets up all the melodrama we have come to expect from these stories.

Story: David Tipton and Scott Tipton Art: Carlos Nieto
Color: DC Alonso Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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