Author Archives: pharoahmiles

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

Review: Revenge of Wonderland

Revenge of Wonderland

Recently, I went back home to the place where my father was from and where I was raised for a portion of my adolescent years. The thing is, the time between when I was last there and when I recently went had been 30 years. As with most places and people you have not seen in a while, it’s not quite the same. In some instances, it definitely is completely different and when you realize that, is when you typically grasp that you have changed as well.

I know certainly this is what I think of when I go back home to New York. I loved my upbringing, my friends, and my family, but really cannot see living there again. What happens when a place you love, is not what you remembered? In the first volume of Revenge Of Wonderland we find out what happens to a place which has turned into the total opposite of what it was originally conceived as.

WE meet Callie and Violet Liddle, a mother and daughter who share more than blood as Violet suffered a similar strange ordeal as her mother, Callie. As Callie ruled as the White Queen in Wonderland for many years until an uneasy truce made her step down. As things change, so has Wonderland, and so has that truce, which has forced the Liddles to come back to bout for the land they once fought for. As we catch up with the Liddles, enjoying their normal lives back on Earth. As Callie meets an obsessive fangirl of her books, whose fixation becomes dangerous for all, opening a door back to Wonderland and trouble headed the Liddles way, in the form of the Duchess. As there is even more trouble as mysterious murders, sightings of large purple cats and child disappearances causes Violet to investigate what is causing all these things and what is their connection to Wonderland. This catches the Duchess’s attention, leading her to unleash the Clubs, her dangerous faceless underlings, who take Violet, which leads Callie back to Wonderland to save her daughter. As we find about the Duchess and how became who she was, as she was not always evil. We also find out about our other villain, one even more insidious, Mr.Monarch, a serial killer who has been trapping members of his community one by one. By book’s end, Callie and Violet battle the Duchess, but eventually win her over by showing how love is stronger than hate, and though their lives go back to normal fr now, a worst foe has been awakened.

Overall, an interesting and well told story that injects the reader in to this magical world and does alternate universes right. The story by Raven Gregory is lavish, comprehensive, and action packed. The art by the creative team is utterly elegant and intense. Altogether, an excellent story which more comic book fans should know.

Story: Raven Gregory Art: Allan Otero, Grostieta, and Maxflan Araujo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Zenescope provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Hellchild: Blood Money #1

Hellchild: Blood Money #1

For anyone who watches Richard Madden’s work, you know he’s one up and coming actor. Most people got introduced to him through Game Of Thrones where he played the heroically tragic Robb Stark, a flawed leader whose bad decisions caught up with him ultimately. Lucky for him, his fate did not go the way of most television actors, in fact, he’s done a few films and starred in a few more shows each one possessing a stellar story. One of his first ones was Medici where he played the oft mentioned bankers for the Vatican, in a rather captivating tale.

Another story that put him front and center was The Bodyguard. In the story he played David Budd, a British Secret Service agent charged with guarding the UK Home Secretary. He protected someone who everyone disliked and had people looking to kill them at every turn. In the debut issue of Hellchild: Blood Money our protagonist while working as a hired gun gets pulled into a wasp nest of pandemonium.

We are taken to the Hollywood Hills in California where Jake, the son of a powerful politician has made a life changing mistake, one that could end life as he knows it. His father’s head of security decides to hire Jessica Blackstone, aka Hellchild, a bodyguard with some otherworldly talents. Meanwhile, the two girls Jake killed worked for a powerful gangster, somebody who wants to be paid for what considered his property.

Overall, an action-packed debut issue that plays into the bigger Grimm Fairytales Universe while setting itself apart at the same time. The story by Ralph Tedesco, Joe Brusha, and Dave Franchini is fun, gory and pulse pounding. The art by Butch Mapa, Taylor Esposito, and Dijjo is magnificent. Altogether, an exceptional debut that deftly blends crime thrillers and genre shows.

Story: Ralph Tedesco, Joe Brusha and Dave Franchini
Art: Butch Mapa, Taylor Esposito and Dijjo
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Zenescope provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Ballad of Sang

The Ballad of Sang

Takashi Miike is one of those movie auteurs whose keen eye for detail and bravura only makes new fans of the art of film. His movies, though eye candy for most, are definitely an acquired taste. He portrays violence so stylized and his characters are so ingrained into their worlds, that sometimes you may think you are watching a documentary. His star making turn in Audition is both unsettling and eccentrically thought provoking.

Then there are those movies which can be considered traditional Japanese movie fare where there are parts where his signature marks pop up. One movie which definitely made me a fan of his was Ichi The Killer. It’s an intense tour de force set in the world of the Yakuza. It functions as a character study and somewhat of a torture fest. His movies explore the underbelly that most people think they know, until he shows just how ugly and gruesome it really is. In the first collected volume of The Ballad Of Sang we find one such assassin whose master has been murdered, and he will stop at nothing, to be the harbinger of justice in his master’s name.

We meet Sang, a mute child assassin whose job is to take out a local Yakuza mob boss. We also meet Thomas, Sang’s master, and coincidental father figure. His understanding of his men is his strongest quality. Sang was more than overzealous with his last job and their boss, Don Minchella, decides to teach them both a lesson killing Thomas and almost killing Sang. Minchella puts out a contract on Sang, leading to every killer and gang to pursue him. The whole city is hunting for Sang, dead or alive.

Overall, a great comic series which will remind some of Zatoichi but definitely feels like a Takeshi Miike movie. The story by Ed Brisson is pulse pounding and fun. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a great story that is gory, entertaining, and electrifying.

Story: Ed Brisson Art: Alessandro Micelli, Shari Chankhamma and Crank!
Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Dial H for Hero #1

Dial H for Hero #1

For as long as legends have existed we have always aspired to be one. This is why we strive to do better than those who came before us. We all in some form or fashion want our names to live forever. That’s how we get epics like The Odyssey. In the modern age of superheroes, in some ways, we still yearn for this.

This is why the comic Shazam! was such a fan favorite when I was growing up. The main character is just a kid who gets powers by saying one word. Who would not want that even just for a few minutes? In the next book from the Wonder Comics line at DC, we get Dial H For Hero, a teenager finds out how it is be a hero for an hour

We meet Miguel, a young man whose life changed the one day he was saved by Superman. It’s an event that would make him a daredevil, often tempting fate, but unfortunately, he feels like his life otherwise is at a dead end living in Devil’s Canyon, California.  Everything changes as he attempts one stunt, and things don’t go as planned as one thing leads to another leading him to fall off a canyon. This is when miraculously a mysterious red rotary phone appears out of nowhere. Someone on the other end of the line says his name and instructs him do dial “H.” By issue’s end he becomes a new superhero, one with superpowers even he could imagine and more than enough chaos in his wake.

Overall, a fun comic book which will pull in readers as it remembers why we love superhero comics in the first place. The story by Sam Humphries is hilarious, keen, and very relevant. The at by Joe Quinones is realistic and magnificent. Altogether, an outstanding debut issue that brings loads of fun to comic books.

Story: Sam Humphries Art: Joe Quinones
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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