Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Yowamushi Pedal Vol. 1

yowamushi-pedal-coverFor the love of all things otaku–anime, video games, figures, you name it!

Power-pedaling Sakamichi Onoda has long been conquering the steepest slopes and regularly making the ninety-kilometer round-trip to Akihabara on a mommy bike!! But when his bike commute to his new high school lands him in a confrontation with the serious first-year road racer Imaizumi, Onoda has a major showdown on his hands! Can this meek geek really out-pedal the future ace of the school road-racing team?!

A manga about bicycling? Wataru Watanabde gives us Yowamushi Pedal a fantastic series that delivers in a hell of a lot of ways.

Focused on Sakamichi Onoda the first volume is a simple tale of a young boy who heads to high school where he feels like he can finally fit in by joining the anime/manga club, but it’s canceled. For a long time now he’s been heading to Akihabara to get the latest releases and due to the distance and the bike he’s been using he’s really good at biking. Challenged by a die hard bicyclist Imaizumi, this is a chance for Sakamichi to prove he’s more than an anime/manga otaku.

The series is a fun that’s relatable as it dives into the geek vs. jock dynamic so many of us are familiar with. But, it also has a lesson that appearances can be deceiving and even though he might look like a stereotypical geek, he’s really good at biking.

The first volume is a hell of a setup giving us reasons as to why Sakamichi is so good and more than enough to relate to him as well. Watanabe nails it as far as story and art drawing us in.

The art is fantastic with a great mix of action of quieter moments, but all of them in a way that’s engaging. What I personally really enjoy about this particular volume is that some of the translations and explanations of the original Japanese are in the margins on the page as opposed to being in the back of the manga (though there’s some of that too). So, you can spend a bit more time on the page appreciating everything and helping to understand some of the details.

While the lessons and themes of this first volume or simple, they’re also familiar, and due to that it makes this series relatable and one I can’t wait to read more of.

Story: Wataru Watanabe Art: Wataru Watanabe
Story: 8.85 Art: 8.85 Overall: 8.85 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Alien vs Predator: Life and Death #3

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The Alien hordes descend in a desperate attempt to repossess their fetus queen from the escaping Colonial Marines. Even with the help of the Predator clan, survival for the humans doesn’t look likely.

Writer Dan Abnett gives us a situation that’s growing desperate for both sides in Alien vs Predator: Life and Death #3. Chris’ alien queen wants out of her, as both her human and Predator protectors attempt to keep the Xenomorphs from getting to her. The colonial marines haves yet to arrive, which leads to Chris something suicidal to attempt to save everyone. Will her plan work?

There is a lot of action going on, and a lot of fire- power and all of it is beautifully rendered by Brian Thies. The predator group is doing a lot of up close fighting with both their trademark spears and claws and Thies captures the awesome detail. In contrast to this, the humans are using a more modern version of firepower. Despite the contrasting forms of combat, Thies’ art shows off that neither side are to be trifled with.

Story: Dan Abnett Art: Brian Thies
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batwoman: Rebirth 

batwomanrebirthcoverBatwoman: Rebirth starts off sweetly enough, Kate Kane headed out for birthday waffles and chocolate with her mother and twin sister. That’s where the sweetness ends.

James T. Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett serve up a story that brings the pain, the struggle, the strength and, the fire. We are treated to a back story for the ages complete with a rescue mission, a lesbian love affair, a fall from grace and, a triumphant return from the ashes to turn her into the hero that Batwoman becomes. There is passion in the pages that draws the reader into the fire behind Kane’s fight, telling the story of a woman who loses her family, finds herself, loses herself and, becomes reborn. We get to see first hand the struggles, the pain, the heartache and, the love that drives her.

Bennett and Tynion serve up Kane’s past on a silver platter, we watch the moment that made her want to fight, the love affair that sent her into exile, the year out of sight that showed her the demons that haunted her and, how Batman came into her life and trained her to be his equal in every way. This story focused on Kate Kane and nothing more, she retained her agency, her goals and, her dreams. Everything that made her an equal to the man in black and,  everything that made her unique is laid out in the pages of this issue. Because of the source material, this could have easily turned into the story of how Batwoman was lost and found by Batman and made her everything she was. The writers could have made this just another Batman spin-off but, luckily for us, they chose to go another way.

Bennett, known for being an out queer writer, handles Kane’s sexuality flawlessly carrying over her talented portrayal of the character from Bombshells. She showcases her sexuality with great care making it part of who she is without making it all that she is. There is never a feeling that she is only a lesbian for shock value which is refreshing and makes her a multifaceted character in her own story instead of a sideshow. The reveal of her sexuality so early on in issue one helps in the character development and informs the reader about the things that drive her, by the discrimination and slick side comments she’s faced.

Steve Epting and Ben Oliver‘s artwork is sleek and stylized without being overly sexual or adding a male gaze to the character. You can tell she is a woman and you can tell she has relationships with other women, without it feeling cheap or unnecessary. Each panel is detailed and well thought out drawing you into the story and there’s a genuine feeling of involvement in Batwoman’s life. The art makes you feel like a fly on the wall in a good way.

Overall between the storytelling and the art, this issue felt sincere, smart, well thought out, and engaging. There wasn’t a lot of action but, there didn’t need to be, it was about human connection, the things that drive us and, make us into what we become.

Story: James T. Tynion IV & Marguerite Bennett Art: Steve Epting & Ben Oliver
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/18

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Alex

godcountry_01-1God Country #1 & 2 (Image) I missed the first issue when it came out last month, but when I found out that Donny Cates was the series writer I made a point to go back and find the first issue – and bot am I ever glad I did. God Country  has got to be one of the most well narrated stories I’ve read in some time, with such an interesting idea behind it; a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is cured when holding a giant sword. The two issues I’ve read have both been fantastic in every way a comic should be. Overall: 9.25 Recommendation: Buy

Kill Or Be Killed #6 (Image) After reading the first issue of this series on the recommendation of a fellow member of the Graphic Policy team, I’ve been constantly surprised at how gripping this series has been. The creative team have been producing such a fantastic story that evokes the feeling of the old pulp vigilante novel with a distinctly modern reinvention. Highly recommended. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Old Man Logan #18 (Marvel) You’re probably going to want to read this twice just so you can take in the phenomenal art work courtesy of Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo. Jeff Lemire is also on top form here, too, making this a fantastic comic to sit down with. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Venom #4 (Marvel) While I love the relationship between the symbiote and host, I care less for the rest of the comic. It’ okay, but only worth reading if you’re into the series already. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

The Wild Storm #1 (DC) Having never read any Wildstorm before I had no idea what to expect going it to this comic, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Ben has a bit more detail below, so I’ll let you read his review now. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Ben

The Wildstorm #1 (DC): Despite never having read the Wildstorm imprint, I was excited the-wild-storm-1about this comic because the idea of Warren Ellis world-building an entire superhero universe makes me squeal with joy. The result is an audacious beginning for what could be one of the most impressive imprints in DC since Gerard Way launched Young Animal.

Jon-Davis Hunt is on art duty here. I love his work with Gail Simone on Clean Room, modern and polished yet with an unnerving supernatural horror atmosphere. The Wildstorm is geared to science fiction, however that doesn’t stop Hunt from excelling, particularly when it comes to scene decompression and panel layout.

I didn’t know what to expect from Ellis’ writing as I’m more familiar with his blatantly political and brutally mean-spirited indie work. However, his approach here seems to be inspired by cyberpunk, particularly Ghost In The Shell and The Matrix. It may be a superhero story, but Ellis is much more centered on powerful corporations, conspiracies, and the continually dysphoric nature between man and machine in the modern world.

There’s a lot of audacious, big-idea concepts going into this book, best of all without the sacrifice of character development. Each character comes in with their own personalities, goals, and complex morality. I have no idea what’s in store next, but I’m excited to find out. Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5

Patrick

killorbekiled_06-1Kill or be Killed #6 (Image)** – Not sure how I feel about the abrupt switch of focus away from Dylan and his demonic vigilante spree. Much as I like NYPD detective Lily Sharpe, the sheer hard-driving intensity of this series gets diluted here. For me, this is just too much setup and a bit of a placeholder. Hopefully next issue will return to the suffocating, sweltering atmosphere I’ve gotten to love from this series. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy if you’re following, but this isn’t a good point to jump on.

Sex Criminals #16 (Image)** – Oh hey, this series is still going on! It’s been so long since last issue that Fraction & Zdarsky have to give us 8 PAGES of recap. I will stand by what I’ve been saying lately about Sexcrims: the plot is boring and getting in the way of my enjoying the hell out of two characters just trying to figure out how to be in the world together. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles Adventures #4 (IDW/DC)** – Picking up right where we left off, with the Scarecrow giving New York a dose of fear gas, and the Joker and Harley giving the hyenas (I’d forgotten they were called Bud and Lou!) a dose of mutagen. Pity this series will only go 6 issues, both my inner 5-year-old and my actual 5-year-old are loving it (even if this ish is a bit of a 4th-issue placeholder). Whatever Matthew K. Manning and Jon Sommariva have cooked up next, I’m down. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy.

Freelance #1 (Chapterhouse) – I’m not really sure what’s going on in this series – I’m not sure who Lance/Freelance is, what he’s about, what he wants, what his plans and goals are, who his friends are, and there is absolutely nothing in this comic to help me want to know more. What we’re really given is a continuation of the Aurora Dawn cult from the other Chapterhouse comics, which I guess is supposed to be the glue that holds the Chapterverse (nice name!) together. But feels more like a narrative sunk cost fallacy – does anyone really care about these guys? Jim Zub & Andrew Wheeler are pro writers and Vaneda Vireak’s art is OK enough, but it just doesn’t have a beating heart all its own. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass.

Agents of PACT (Chapterhouse) – One more time for the people in the back: if you don’t know Quebec French, get somebody who does to check it! This may seem like a quibble coming from a fluently bilingual Montrealer, but it’s a flaw that shows the other flaws in Kalman Andrasofsky and Blake Northcott’s characterizations. As for the plot, you really have to be invested in what’s been going on in Captain Canuck and Northguard to get who’s who and what’s what. And while it’s kind of nice to see the North given such focus, would it kill these guys to show us more of Canada than ice and snow? Anyway, Federica Manfredi does a good job on the art, but this is nothing to write home about. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Pass.

Ryan C

Kill Or Be Killed # 6 (Image)** – A bit of a curious issue, as Ed Brubaker’s script abruptly switches perspective to a new character, whose actions are related via semi-omniscient narration provided by — our usual protagonist, who doesn’t even know who this woman is yet? Sean Phillips’ art is uncharacteristically askew as well, with people drawn in bizarre and almost miniaturized proportions. I don’t get it, but events do, at least, still move forward in various and interesting ways. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Read if you’re following this series, pass if you aren’t.

bm_cv17_open_order_varBatman #17 (DC)** – After an issue that marked something of an uptick last time out, Tom King reverts to his now-customary disappointing form with this one, as a lackluster forthcoming confrontation with Bane is set up in lackluster and obvious ways. Alfred once again comes off as much more confidently-written than his boss, which is likewise becoming the norm, and David Finch’s art is — well, what it is. If you like it, you still will — if you don’t, you won’t. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass.

Dead Inside #3 (Dark Horse)** – John Arcudi and Toni Fejzula ramp their superb prison-murder-themed noir toward its conclusion with some truly surprising plot twists, painfully human character interactions, and the kind of quietly-omnipresent tension that makes for truly memorable reading. This series isn’t even done yet and I’m kinda missing it already. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Mother Panic #3 (DC/Young Animal)** – Jody Houser’s storyline is really gathering steam, with effective action scenes delivered with an economy of words deftly balanced against solid plot progression that shows Violet Paige/Mother Panic’s long-range plans coming into place while dropping more revealing hints about her tragic backstory at the same time. Tommy Lee Edwards’ sketchy art style serves the material on offer incredibly well, and one really gets the sense that this creative team is on the verge of hitting a serious — and potentially memorable — stride. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Black Panther: World Of Wakanda#4 (Marvel)– The team behind this book have brought issues to the forefront that rarely get dealt with in this medium.In this issue, the nations is steal dealing with the fallout of the death of Queen Shuri , this leads to a splinter groups of those who still oppose TChalla. Anneka and Ayo get sent to sea with Village Chieftain super-sons-1who is imposing sex slavery on the village women. By issue’s end, an unexpected death occurs while a long hidden secret is revealed. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Odyssey Of The Amazons#2 (DC)-The Giants our heroines were fighting at the end of their last chapter have turned out to be Trolls. After a successful fight, they find refuge in a village full of Vikings. Their commander soon find dissent amongst the ranks and even starts his question her own decisions. Before the end, we find out the Trolls’ intention for the Amazons they kidnapped. Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Doctor Strange Monsters Unleashed #1 (Marvel)– Marvel’s most recent silly universe event, Monsters Unleashed feels more like a filler than anything canon changing, with no real death toll to even be seen. In this one-shot, we catch-up with the Sorcerer Supreme in the middle of a fire fight. Strange is less powerful and actually more cunning as his magic seems to be waning at this point. By issue’s end, an unusual team up occurs that shifts the edge on the side of the good guys. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Read

Super Sons#1 (DC) Robin and Superboy have always been footnotes in a very crowded hero universe , serving more as gimmicks than actual heroes with stakes. This all changed when DC decided to introduce Damien, as he not the typical Suitor to the Robin mantle, as he isn’t only Bruce Wayne’s actual son but he brings a whole new attitude and set of the skills to the job. So when Damien’s Robin seeks help from Jon’s Superboy , not only teen angst sets in , but their unusual circumstances pervade their assemblance of a life. By issue’s end, their famous fathers intervene in what seems like a hair brain plan.
Overall: 9 Recommendation: Read


 


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Review: Sink #1

sink_001-coverAccording to the press release, Sink will be a series of standalone offbeat crime stories all linked by the location; that of Sinkhill, a forgotten East End district of a warped funhouse mirror vision of Glasgow, Scotland. Sinkhill is a hive of crooks, deviants and killers, and ordinary folk unfortunate enough to live among them.

There’s something refreshing about reading a standalone story that’s somewhat exhilarating, especially one such as this because you don’t know if you’re ever going to come across these characters again in another story, or if this is their one and only appearance, and that adds a genuine level of tension to the story in the series debut issue.

Sink #1 isn’t typically the kind of comic that I’d normally gravitate toward, but there was something about the setting that drew my attention, and I’m glad that it did.

John Lees crafts a fantastic story that touches on the twisted underbelly of Glasgow, with some characters that feel just like they walked off the streets (well in some cases, at least). Alex Cormack‘s art couldn’t be better suited to this comic, and his ability to bring forth the grim uneasiness that pervades Sinkhill’s streets really gets the comic under your skin.

If you’re looking for an excitingly fresh, albeit brutal, story then you need look no further than Sink. 

Story: John Lees Art & Colours: Alex Cormack
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

ComixTribe provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Kingsway West #3

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The Chinese gunslinger Kingsway Law just wants to escape the winged Buffalo Scout Strode and find his long-lost wife, Sonia. But today he finally meets the mysterious community that the swordswoman Ah Toy has sworn to protect—and learns their terrifying secret. Now the fate of the West lies in Kingsway’s hands as he chooses between love and destiny.

The action-packed Kingsway West continues onward in this third issue. Writer Greg Pak creates great internal conflict in Kingsway as he debates becoming a killer once more, or if he should attempt to find his wife. I’m curious to see if Kingsway’s conflict will impact him given how the world around him seems to be forcing his hand.

The series seems to be getting increasingly dark as more issues are released. Artist Mirko Colak creates a heavy contrast in the art, as the overall atmosphere darkens. While I won’t spoil the terrifying secret-guarding the red gold, they are well done. It all gives way to a colorful firefight as they are released.

Story: Greg Pak Art: Mirko Colak
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review : Super Sons #1

459428-_sx1280_ql80_ttd_After originally being solicited for release back in September, one of the most-eagerly-anticipated DC Rebirth titles is finally here — Peter J. TomasiJorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez‘ “kid-friendly” Super Sons #1. Methinks the delay, while admittedly somewhat aggravating, makes sense — after all, Jon “Superboy” Kent and Damian “Robin” Wayne needed to be teamed up elsewhere first to establish some sort of prior relationship, and a recently-concluded two-parter over in the pages of Superman managed that task of “groundwork-laying” quite successfully indeed. With all pretext and preamble out of the way, then, now is as good a time as any to strike while the iron is hot and turn things over to the next generation of heroes who are about to embark on what promises to be a decade or more of being stuck at right around 12 years old. Sigh, if only the real world worked like comics, lemme tell ya —

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Light-hearted action and adventure — a Tomasi specialty — are clearly the order of the day here, or rather, they will be, but the debut issue issue of this series is more concerned with establishing the particulars of these youngsters’ character interaction, and I can’t fault that decision in the least : Jon is the bright, perhaps naive, eternally optimistic one, while Damian is the overly-serious, “all-business,” self-appointed “leader” of the duo, and simple as that may be, it really does work — they play off each others’ strengths and foibles in equal measure, and both clearly like each other far more than either (especially Damian) is willing to admit. Jon’s powers are still developing, and are far from a consistent presence in his life, so that gives Damian the chance to play, at least in his mind, both mentor and protector, and during a snowball fight with school bullies, this actually does come in handy — during a bus ride where a disguised Damian inserts himself as driver, though, his presence is a potentially dangerous one.

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It all works out in the end, though, and that’s probably going to be the usual order of business for this series — and why not? “Outreach” titles aimed at cultivating a more youthful readership are a standard fixture over at Marvel these days, but DC is just sort of starting to get in on the act; fortunately for us all, they’ve chosen a pitch-perfect creative team to begin their efforts. Tomasi writes children extremely well — something we knew already — and Jimenez has a high-energy, easy-on-the-eyes art style that conveys both character expression and action equally nicely. Nothing about Sanchez’ colors especially stands out, per se, but they’re vibrant and smartly-chosen, so they do what they need to do. The kids are in good hands, and should be placed in exciting situations (as they are in this issue’s cliffhanger, when their first “case” leads them directly into the lion’s den facing the ultimate “baddie”) that fall short of being directly life-threatening a la too many Spielberg productions to mention.This is wholesome entertainment minus any unpleasant and ethically/morally questionable undertones, which isn’t exactly the easiest thing to pull off when you’re talking about something that screams “call child protective services!” as loudly and clearly as the idea of children going into battle against super-powered villains.

All in all, I have no problem putting my cynicism — and $2.99 of my money every month (for the record, I purchased this issue) — aside to enjoy material this lovingly-crafted. Super Sons is hardly revolutionary stuff by any stretch, but that’s not its intention. It’s a comic you can read with your kids that you’ll enjoy every bit as much as they do. Not only is there “nothing wrong with that,” there’s a whole heck of a lot right with it.

Story: Peter J. Tomasi  Art: Jorge Jimenez
Story: 8  Art: 7  Overall: 7.5  Recommendation: Buy

Review: Alien vs. Predator: Life and Death #2

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The Alien horde is coming, but before they face that enemy, the Colonial Marines and Ahab, their Predator ally, have to win the help of a newly arrived Predator clan. Acceptance by the tribe means Ahab must fight their champion—to the death!

The arrival of the Predator clan in Alien vs. Predator: Life and Death #2 is a clear shift in what the story can do. Yet at the same time, it raises a lot of questions. Will the USMC and the Predator clan forge an alliance against their common enemy? How will they strike? Will reinforcements for either group arrive? Dan Abnett entertains as this new factor is introduced and leaves things up in the air as to what it’ll all lead to.

The hand to hand combat scene is a clear standout for this issue. While it flows well, it does show the combative nature of the Predator species. Yet I imagine the upcoming issues will be filled with fire-fights and action. Artist Brian Thies continues to nail it as far as the art in the series bringing Abnett’s story to life and full of action.

Story: Dan Abnett  Art: Brian Thies
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Night’s Dominion #6

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As the demigod Grael emerges from legend to fight Uhlume’s army, Emerane enters their stronghold to find the source of their power. Aided by the Umber Knight and the Magus, she fights through to the tower’s icy heart in search of the necromancer whose magic commands the undead soldiers. But even as the city is overwhelmed, as the Asp falls to arrows, and the Acolyte prays to gods that may have never been there to listen, it’s Emerane herself who faces the most devastating horror. For the bloodthirsty necromancer behind it all may be the one person in the world she can’t bring herself to fight.

Night’s Dominion #6 features an action packed ending for the first story arc of this series. The mysterious old man freed from the debtor’s prison finally gets a name, a name from myth and song, of heroes long since past as our heroes realise who he is. Yet, the identity of the necromancer who is behind all of this is someone who was mentioned before just not seen. Who it is will surprise is you, and you’ll want to go back and check things out.

Like the previous issues, the art is solid by Ted Naifeh (who also is writing the series). Naifeh brings in a lot of contrast between the city of the tower of Uhlume, and the conflict going on in the city. The action scenes have a nice flow and make this a quick read.

Story: Ted Naifeh Art: Ted Naifeh
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Alien vs. Predator: Life and Death #1

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Battle Lines Are Drawn!

The Predators arrive on LV-223! The question is: are they here to finish the fight with the Colonial Marines, or will they join the marines in the battle against the Aliens? And who will Ahab—the Predator from the Fire and Stone story cycle—side with?

Things get interesting as the final part of the “Life and Death” story arc begins in Alien vs. Predator: Life and Death #1 written by Dan Abnett. The issue brings in a large amount of Predators with tensions already high from the previous parts of the story arc. I sense things will get worse before things conclude. Who will survive till the end?

The art by Brian Thies takes a violent turn as things escalate in the issue. The issue brings back the strange energy weapons, the Predators are well known and Thies depicts them fantastically. Both in story and art it creates a great contrast to the weapons used by USMC, in both color and lethality.

Story: Dan Abnett Art: Brian Thies
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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