Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Batman: Last Knight on Earth

Batman: Last Knight on Earth

Twenty years in the future, Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum. Young. Sane. And… he’s never been Batman. So begins this sprawling tale of the Dark Knight as he embarks on a quest through a devastated DC landscape. Batman: Last Knight on Earth is finally collected and as a whole the comic is rather… predictable.

Written by Scott Snyder the three-issue series starts off well enough but as it progresses the reveals, for the most part, become rather predictable (who the villain is) or unexplained shock value. The series feels like a shock value read in that the visuals and concepts are enough to entertain. The story itself is rather shallow and in many ways feels like something Snyder has done before.

The story is a journey for Bruce as Batman as he discovers the new DC landscape and attempts to piece together what has happened. A new villain dubbed Omega is the end boss. The identity of the villain becomes fairly obvious early on. In many ways, this all feels like a retread and extension of Snyder’s gonzo Dark Multiverse concept and with it one of the best villains of DC, The Batman Who Laughs.

While the journey Snyder puts Batman through could be interesting in an examination of the character, it instead feels like a reference check list. We’re taken to locations but it never gets too deeps in an examination of our hero and his legacy. It’s flash without depth. Cool concepts that aren’t explored enough. This is the basis of an interesting world and feels like a bunch of ideas on a white board instead of an interesting narrative.

Snyder is joined by his often partner in crime Greg Capullo who delivers his usual impressive visuals. Jonathan Glapion provides ink, FCO Plascencia the color and Tom Napolitano the lettering. The visuals are a whirlwind of cool with interesting takes on characters that much like Snyder’s narrative hints at something so much more. We can guess the crap that’s been seen and battles waged but little is dedicated to that. We get some mentions but little exploration beyond that.

The world itself is one of weird and wonderful as if we’re descending into the different levels of Hell. Much like the story itself, there’s some interesting things that could have been done with the visuals to take it to the next level as far as page layouts and panels but for the most part we’re left with a pretty standard comic in that sense. A sweeping tale didn’t get the sweeping art it needed. But, the detail is fantastic and makes you want to learn more of the how and the why of this world.

Batman: Last Knight on Earth is an entertaining enough story but it doesn’t match what Snyder and Capullo have delivered before. There’s a lack of emotional punch and connection. There’s also the lack of exploration of the impact of what’s presented. It’s danced around but never quite makes its case. It’s a Cliff’s Notes final product of something that could be so much more.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Greg Capullo
Ink: Jonathan Glapion Color: FCO Plascencia Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 6.95 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXology


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Stars and Memories: CANOPUS #1-2 Review

CANOPUS - Cover

Canopus #1-2 is written, drawn, colored and lettered by Dave Chisholm, with color flats by Dustyn Payette and production by Kurt Knippel; published by Scout Comics

Helen wakes up marooned on a lifeless alien planet 300 light years from Earth with no memories beyond a hazy sense of extinction-level urgency to return to Earth. Joined by her robot companion, Arther, she explores the planet to find materials necessary to repair her ship. However, circumstances are not as straightforward as they seem: along their perilous path, Helen’s most painful memories return to her, as monstrous manifestations hellbent on her destruction. In this mind-bending sci-fi adventure, Helen’s story unfolds into her past and future, revealing a poignant conclusion that will leave you speechless.

From Scout Comics’ website

Dave Chisholm is a creator who seems to always be pushing new boundaries. Always trying something new, or doing old ideas in new fashions; always trying new genres, and trying new things with his signature art style. More importantly, he always approaches each project with a thematic goal in mind. He’s not just trying to be all style. There’s always a substantial theme that every artistic and storytelling decision circles around in, exploring every corner that he can before bringing it all together in a satisfying conclusion. For Canopus, his first foray into science fiction, Chisholm delivers yet again, this time with the addition of colors and a theme of letting go of grudges. 

Chisholm’s previous work, Instrumental, was black and white and took full advantage of that aesthetic by experimenting with linework, inking, and the whole plate of comic art basics. He did so much to push the boundaries of what black and white comics could look like that he created a unique, experimental, and surreal style of art that was far above and beyond even some of the great comics done in color. It would take too much time to describe it all, so I’m just gonna leave this image here. I think you’ll get the picture:

Instrumental - Image

In Canopus, Chisholm decides to embrace color, and while the heavy amount of stylistic experimentation from his previous book is absent, he more than makes up for it by just how good the coloring is. I don’t know if these colors were implemented traditionally or digitally, but either way they bring an atmospheric layer to the setting. Purples, blues, and the impenetrable blackness of space pierced only by the blaring whiteness of stars really gives that sci-fi feel. This really becomes apparent when Chisholm does both establishing and long shots in his panels. You really get a real sense of scale and a surprising amount of detail on this mysterious, seemingly empty planet. I think a good chunk of credit also must go to Dustyn Payette whose flats keep the colors clear and distinct without losing its character.

CANOPUS - panel layout

Panel layout is probably the strongest element of Canopus. There are, on average, about 7-9 panels per page. However, never once does it feel cluttered. That’s because the dialogue is straight to the point and lettered in a thinner font than usual; Another aspect is the art itself. It’s kind of like European comics, particularly the works of Moebius and Herge, where panels are drawn so that environments, characters, and action are all able to coalesce without a detriment to any one of these elements. You really do feel like you’re on this planet, traversing it with Helen and Arther, and taking in all the wondrous, natural spectacles around you. It’s so much more absorbing than having an avalanche of mindless action and particle effects that clutter the page just to shove as many trademark characters as possible. At that point, you might as well stare at the sun until you’re blind. 

Chisholm goes to great lengths to make his characters as visually unique as possible. Keep in mind, there’s only three so far and some dudes that show up in the flashback scenes, but I can’t help admiring how distinguishable they all are, particularly how looks match up with personality: Helen’s short, slightly spiky hair reflecting her headstrong attitude; Arther’s large eyes and sock puppet body that are characteristic of his childish sense of wonder. Even more detailed are the mysterious monsters that the duo encounters. These things are straight out of nightmares, packed with metaphor, symbolism, and repressed trauma; Freud and Jung would probably be huge fans. They’re scary, really scary. You’ll probably find yourself both terrified and unable to look away just because of how ingenious their designs are. Even if it doesn’t have the same level of madness as Instrumental, Chisholm still brings a lot of surrealism to Canopus.

CANOPUS - Monster

Don’t let me forget the action scenes! Yes, even though Canopus is a highbrow sci-fi with a focus on atmosphere and character, that doesn’t mean our heroes don’t occasionally bring out the kung fu against their psychoanalytical foes. Thanks to Chisholm’s expert panel layouts, these scenes are very well-paced. Blows are satisfyingly delivered with close-ups used to build up anticipation, then pulling back for a medium shot when impact is made. Even though these action scenes aren’t the main focus, it is incredible how Chisholm can do just about any type of scene.

Probably the cream of the crop of art in this series are the two-page spreads. These occur whenever Helen finds a familiar-looking object that triggers a forgotten memory. It can be a doll, a pair of dentures, or even a pair of socks. From these objects, we’re open to the spread:

CANOPUS - Two page spread

These flashbacks are all four pages long, starting with the object that triggered the memory, and ending on them as well. The spreads might seem like a mess, multiple panels of a particular object in descending order, all over the page like multiple packs of scattered cards. However, there is a deeper reason for this. 

In my interview with Dave Chisholm, he told me that the biggest influence on the formatting for these flashbacks was the graphic novel Asterios Polyp by the legendary David Mazzuchelli. He described to me in a scene from that book where the main character has a flashback triggered by a blistered toe, then something in that flashback triggers another memory, and so on and so forth until the memories become a kaleidoscope of sorts. It’s a visual representation of how memory can be processed sometimes, where we try to put together in order seemingly random sights, sounds, smells, and whatnot into an order so we can recollect. Remember that Helen has amnesia, so every time she recollects a lost memory, it probably hits her so hard that she finds herself transported back to the past and relives an experience. It’s sort of like PTSD, although Chisholm also made it clear to me that such a serious mental illness does not dictate the layouts. He is not trying to visualize PTSD. 

What Chisholm does visualize however, is a genius kind of layout to represent recollection of memory that puts the reader in Helen’s shoes. You might find yourself confused at first, trying to find a recognizable sequence of events.It does not take long though and, again, like Helen, you soon figure out what happened, why this memory is so important and even how these events both led Helen to where she is now and how they shaped her as a person. Another part of this is how each flashback has a unique color palette to it. These palettes are restricted to very few colors, usually with the prominence of two certain colors. I’m not sure there is a deeper meaning to these choices, but hey they look awesome and distinguish each flashback so much that the images will stick in your own memory long after you’re done reading. 

Of course, fantastic art on this scale is nothing without a solid story, especially in comics right now where the science fiction genre has taken off so expediently that it can be hard at times to find the sweet bread amongst the stale white loafs. Chisholm gives us the best kind of sci-fi, or really any kind of genre fiction, where the genre is used to explore deeper themes beyond mere entertainment. Paraphrasing Chisholm, Canopus is about letting go of past hurts, and this all starts with the main character. 

Helen Sterling is an obvious protagonist. She is intelligent, strong, courageous, and determined to save Earth from an unspecified armageddon. This makes her the most likely person to cheer for, however at times she’s not always likeable. She can be stubborn, easily angered, and has a tendency to hold onto grudges. The worst of her tendencies come out in her interactions with the only other person…well, “person” on the journey. 

Arther is a highly advanced robot with a special kind of body. It’s not metal but something of a flexible substance that gives him a cartoonish appearance. The comparison that comes immediately to my mind is Fone Bone from Jeff’s Smith Bone. The difference between the two is that Arthur’s main power, at least so far, is the ability to turn his body from that of a toddler to that of freaking Flex Montello by blowing on his thumb. 

CANOPUS - Cover 2

Temperamentally though he is always like that of a child. I don’t mean that he’s constantly in need of attention or guidance. He’s actually surprisingly mature-minded in a lot of ways. It’s more like he has a sense of wonder to the world. He is programmed to look forward to learning new things and having new experiences. He is also intensely attached to Helen, so far as calling her “Mother”. Arther is loyal to Helen and will protect her from anything. 

Which is why it seems odd that even with their very first interaction, Helen is hostile toward Arther. She will dismiss him, accuse him of slowing her down, and at one point yells at him furiously. Also, his reference to Helen as “Mother” annoys her to no end, so, honestly, it doesn’t shine Helen in a good light. At the same time, Arther is not all that innocent. He seems to be holding back a lot from Helen despite her amnesia. If he was really loyal, you would think he would tell her everything. 

Also, it is revealed that Arther is tied to one of Helen’s memories, a pretty terrible one involving betrayal. Helen is someone that throughout her life has experienced heartbreak, loss, and betrayal at every stage in life. It’s no wonder she has issues with anger. In this way, the sci-fi/fantasy elements come to serve the purpose of Helen’s story, particularly the flashback scenes and symbolic monsters. Helen is not just trying to save the world, she is confronting her past. How this all plays out will have yet to be seen in the next two issues. 

There is also an ongoing motif involving plant roots. Don’t know exactly what that is about yet, but definitely keep your eyes on it. 

There are very few issues that I have with Canopus. One is the amnesia plot. I don’t think it’s bad. In fact, Canopus is one of those rare stories where amnesia is used as a proper story device and not a cheap trick. The only issue is how selective it is. Helen doesn’t remember where she’s at or how she got there, doesn’t remember anything about her life, and yet she immediately knows how to communicate with the ship using the correct terminology. Another issue has to do with the manifestation of an important person from Helen’s past. I won’t spoil it, but Helen, with all her intelligence, falls for it. At first, it seemed reasonable enough since she had no idea what was going on, but even after she deduces that the planet is somehow taking her memories and conjuring monsters from them, she still keeps this person around. She shows a lot more suspicion toward Arther. I’m still trying to figure out why she made this choice. 

Whatever flaws there are in Canopus, they are small. This series is two issues in and already shows so much promise. Art full of atmosphere and color, panel layouts that take full advantage of these qualities, complex and characters that are both complex and uniquely designed. The two-page spread flashback scenes are by far the best part of the series, an ingenious art technique that I hope everyone will consider the highlight by the end. How exactly the theme of letting go of grudges plays is yet to be seen, but already the seeds have been placed, and I am confident they will grow into something spectacular. 

Story: Dave Chisholm Art: Dave Chisholm
Color Flats: Dustyn Payette Production: Kurt Knippel
Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Batman: The Adventures Continue #1

Batman: The Adventures Continue #1

It’s an all-new story based in the groundbreaking animated world of Batman: The Animated Series. The opening chapter of Batman: The Adventures Continue has S.T.A.R. Labs in Gotham City attacked by a giant robot that steals an entire room from the laboratory. Who’s controlling the robot? How will Batman stop the mechanized menace? And what does it all have to do with Lex Luthor’s sudden appearance in Gotham?

Batman: The Adventures Continue #1 is an interesting digital comic and one that might be hampered by expectations. Batman: The Animated Series was an amazing animated series. It’s possibly one of the best cartoons to ever grace the television screen. The success was a mix of so many factors from the stories themselves, to the voice acting, to the animation style. It looked unlike anything at the time with a maturity that was far beyond what else was being shown. A comic, even digital, is already at a disadvantage. It doesn’t have the flow of the animation or the voice acting both being key as to the show’s success.

And for me, the comic is a bit of a disappointment most likely due to that nostalgia.

The story is an interesting one with the chapter opening a story that feels a bit more like Fleischer’s Superman than it does Batman: The Animated Series. There are hints of the more adult leanings of the original animation with dancing around Bruce’s relationships in a scene with Lex Luthor but the antagonist of an alien robot screams more Superman than Batman. It just feels off as if this was an unused script for the Superman animated series that followed Batman’s footsteps.

The style of the comic does well to continue the aesthetic of the animated series with slick design and a mix of retro and modern. But, without the use of some of the animated techniques from the show, the visuals fall short. The lack of shadows for instance, used intelligently in the past, isn’t as prominent and instead things are more in the “open” in the city. It feels a bit more like The New Adventures of Batman than the original Batman: The Animated Series. Both are visually fantastic but there are differences between the two.

At 99 cents, it’s hard to go wrong with Batman: The Adventures Continue #1 but I can’t help but think that excitement and personal expectations created a hurdle the first issue couldn’t meet. It’s not bad but doesn’t capture the magic of the original series it’s based on.

Story: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini Art: Ty Templeton
Inks: Ty Templeton Colors: Monica Kubina Cover: Dave Johnson
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Cold War Vol. 1 Dead Future

Panacea Cryonics promised life after death by freezing clients then reviving them in the future. The corporate pitch was too good to be true as they awaken in a world at war. Who’s the enemy and why are they fighting? That’s the mystery.

Cold War Vol. 1 Dead Future collects issues #1-15.

Story: Christopher Sebela
Art: Hayden Sherman
Letterer: Hayden Sherman

Get your copy in comic shops now in bookstores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: In Vitro

In Vitro

In Vitro is a sweet, funny French graphic memoir by cartoonist William Roy about him and his wife’s quest to have a child via in vitro fertilization. What follows is an emotional, educational, and sometimes downright hilarious look at the IVF process. Guillaume (The protagonist) and Emma deal with all kinds of doctors with weird bedside manners, all kinds of invasive medical procedure, their friends and families, and the comic’s biggest subplot: Guillaume’s strained relationship with his biological father, Jean-Pierre.

In Vitro is rendered with a light, cartoonish touch from Roy, who has a background in documentary filmmaking, and agilely transfers this skill set to comics. This is evident in Guillaume using cinema to make sense of stressful situations like a memory of falling in love with movies when his dad took him to Empire Strikes Back when he was a child to an IVF doctor reminding him of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry.

The cinematic influence is most seen in some of the techniques that Roy uses to tell the story like a kind of Super 8, reel to reel panel layouts to show how he fell in love with his wife Emma, and later on, to show how he lost touch with his father. The color palette is the difference is the scene with Roy choosing a more romantic palette for the love story and a dark, melodramatic one for the father/son story. The shift in panel style also signals to the reader that these sequences add important context and layers to In Vitro‘s key relationships: Guillaume and Emma and Guillaume and his father.

On the flip side, Roy is also a master of storytelling in a single image. Think New Yorker single panel cartoon, not a superhero splash page, or God forbid, Family Circus. He uses a lot of white space on these pages, which boosts the importance of the art in the scene. Sometimes, Roy even drops the dialogue out like when he draws a panel of the sterile container with his semen at the doctor’s office, hoping, that this time it will lead to a viable embryo and then a child. Other times, he uses it to emphasis a plot point, like a cliffhanger in a serial comic, like when his dad sends him an email: his first contact in 20 years.

William Roy’s sense of humor in In Vitro is what endeared me to his work and to this book. His first great gag in the comic is when Guillaume sees a doctor holding something that looks like rosary beads in spectacularly awkward scene at his and Emma’s first IVF appointment. An intern is present so Guillaume is definitely feeling uncomfortable, and that feeling is tripled when he finds out that what he thought were rosary beads is a medical device that is used to measure his testicles. Roy finds the funny, surreal in all of it, and makes quite a few masturbation jokes as Guillaume and Emma deal with rude, incompetent doctors and finally find someone good ones thanks to his surprisingly compassionate boss at the TV network where he works as a film editor. Also, he goes into full cartoon mode every time he explains the medical context of the story and even creates a silly, exasperated doctor character to deliver the exposition in an amusing way.

Speaking of the boss, William Roy, for the most part, avoids stock character types in his storytelling in In Vitro and instead revels in the idiosyncracy of human nature. One gynecologist seems sleazy, not making eye contact while he converses with while an anesthesiologist is a terse, bundle of nerves quickly asking Emma what kind of anesthesia she would like during the IVF process. To go with the cinematic elements again, Roy is a skilled cast director, picking the right character actors to people the halls, offices, and corridors of the clinics and hospitals that Guillaume and Emma find themselves at.

William Roy is vulnerable, funny, and turns in some great sequential storytelling In Vitro showing a real mastery of layout, color palette, and having symbolism tie into the story instead of just having it to make him look clever. He can do both sad (Guillaume looking at the kids with their parents on the playground.) and wacky (Guillaume as a sperm) and is a cartoonist who I would definitely want to see more of.

Story: William Roy Art: William Roy
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Humanoids/Life Drawn provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 4/4

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Joe Hesh

Batman: The Adventures Continue (DC Digital) Ah what brave new world we have this week with solely digital releases due to the current pandemic. I am grateful that the more things change, some still stay familiar. Read this was like reuniting with an old friend. Batman The Animated Series is still my absolute favorite iteration of Batman in any form. The second I laid eyes on the first page (complete with title sequence) I was immediately transported back to yesteryear and the after school days of my youth. All that was missing was the score, which I heard in my head anyhow, The creative team of Paul Dini and Ty Templeton captured everything just right. From Gotham’s blood red sky, to Alfred’s sardonic wit, it was all there.
The dialogue was fantastic as well, especially the exchange between Bruce and Lex. Every dripping word was chock full of Kevin Conroy and Clancy Brown goodness. Truth be told those are the voices I hear when I read any of these characters anyway. Sure the beginning with the Fleischer-esque root was a bit hokey but the characters were so on model and the voices were right there it didn’t matter. 
The story whisked by too fast, which happens to be my only nit pick, as I wanted so much more. I liked the addition of classic Animated Series characters like Veronica Vreeland (DC Collectibles make a fig of her please) and loved her comment to Bruce about, don’t say you’re not the family type as you adopt all these boys and couldn’t they use a mother’s touch? Makes sense. 
Lex being Lex and Bruce being Bruce was such a joy. I look forward to reuniting with more of the Animated Bat World, and seeing new faces that we’ve been teased. With all the uncertainty in the World over the last few months, it is so nice to be able to take a few moments to come home again. Welcome back Batman Adventures. We’ve certainly missed you.
Overall: Read, read, read. Score: 9.5

Ricardo

Ignited (Humanoids- Ignition 1): Humanoids’ first foray into the world of periodical comics came with a familiar superhero story put in a completely different scenario. In IGNITED,a school shooting brings about an event that activates powers for a select few among the student survivors. From there, the comic takes on a delicate balancing act focusing on students discovering the reach of their powers while trying to make sense of the trauma of surviving a shooting. Mark Waid, Kwanza Osajyefo, and Phillipe Briones take what could’ve been another X-Men knockoff and turn it into something special, both dark and energetic at the same time. I know it’s heavy type of recommendation in times of quarantines and uncertainty, but there’s a strange form of hope in this comic that made me feel compelled to keep reading despite the anxiety that comes with life in the context of a pandemic. The art jumps off the page and dialogue is snappy enough to juggle drama and classic superhero action almost to perfection. It’s a lighter read than you might think as well, but it’s considerate and aware of the subject matter. Give it a read. I think you’ll find it as engrossing as it is aware of current problems. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy.

Action Philosophers! (Dark Horse): As a teacher, there’s nothing I appreciate more than having a comic present complex and difficult topics in a fun and engaging way. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s ACTION PHILOSOPHERS! is that and so much more. The concept is simple: apply the more spectacular elements of the comics form and then color it with humor to explain old-school philosophical ideas in as easy a way to understand as possible. Don’t understand Plato? Follow him as a failed wrestler-turned-philosopher, elbow dropping his way through Greek thought. Having trouble following Marx? Perhaps seeing him dressed like Rambo and shouting I KICK ASS FOR THE PROLES might help the point across. What’s truly valuable about the book is just how well Dunlavey’s art supports the admirable accessibility of the text. It’s like the creators became co-teachers in the process, each offering valuable and essential insight in the process. I love getting deep into weighty reads when forced to stay home for prolonged periods of time. During these quarantine days, combine Philosophy and Comics and make the best of a tough situation with ACTION PHILOSOPHERS! Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy


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 (**).

Early Review: Kill a Man

Kill a Man

I’ve been a fan of MMA for quite some time. While my enthusiasm has waned in recent years, I still enjoy turning on the tv and catching the occasional fight. The sport, much like comics, has had a rocky relationship with the “outside” world. Both have been seen as juvenile and corrupting at various times. Both have also been accepted to become drivers in entertainment (ironically, also dominated by a few brands). Kill a Man is the latest comic to bring the world of MMA to the page. Unlike previous attempts, the focus isn’t so much about the punches and grappling but the fighters themselves. It delivers depth in character we haven’t really seen up to this point.

Written by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Kill a Man takes us through a new generation of fighter, James Bellyi, impacted by the in-ring death of his father. James is also gay and not out. In a world of machismo, sexuality is still a touchy subject and when James is outed, his world is turned upside down.

Orlando and Johnson deliver the takedowns and knee kicks but they also focus on James’ journey of being outed and the rejection it brings. Bellyi’s father was killed in the ring as payback for homophobic slurs directed at his opponent. James himself is deeply repressed. He has hidden his sexuality from those closest to him. That’s partially due to the world of MMA that he has trained for his entire life. It’s also due to the homophobic views of his mother who blames a “gay man” for killing her husband.

While I have only been able to read the first half, the two creators have delivered a fantastic graphic novel. As the story progresses they make sure to add layers to James’ character. We get a brutal tale in both the fighting but also James’ world. As his upbringing is revealed we’re given hints as to why he’s hidden his sexuality beyond what happened to his father.

Orlando and Kennedy don’t dive too much into the foreign language of holds and moves of the MMA world. There is more than enough for those who enjoy the matchups. There’s enough detail and focus on moves or even how to fighters compare that there’s an authenticity to it. It’s still accessible for that are not familiar or lacking depth. I don’t need to know what an armbar is. I might understand taking someone to the ground. That’s a difference between being for a wide audience and the MMA diehards.

The art by Al Morgan and lettering by Jim Campbell are fantastic. There’s a gritty dirtiness to it all that fits James’ brutal life. It’s not just the fighting, it’s his upbringing and the world around him. There’s the punch but there’s also the sex which is more carnal than about connection. That aspect of James’ life delivers visuals that make it feel as cold as the fights in the ring about the physical dance than a connection otherwise. There’s a rawness in the fighting and in James’ personal life that the visuals emphasize.

Kill a Man has amazing potential and I’m excited to read the second half of the graphic novel. The first is so good and follows what I liked about the flow of films like Rocky or Creed. Yes, there’s some formula to it but there’s a focus on James as a person that’s missing from so many other stories. By the end of these initial 64 pages, I understand who he was and more importantly, I wanted to see where he, and the story, are going from there.

Kill a Man is set to be released June 3, 2020 and can be pre-ordered from shops.

Story: Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Al Morgan Letterer: Jim Campbell

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Dark Ark: Arc One

We know the story of Noah but did you know there was another boat commanded by a sorcerer named Shrae? He too had a mission and animals… well, more monsters.

Dark Ark: Arc One collects issues #1-15.

Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Juan Doe
Letterer: Ryane Hill, Dave Sharpe

Get your copy in comic shops now in bookstores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: The Last Space Race Vol. 1 Pale Blue Dot

A mysterious object is spotted deep in space and the United States scrambles to put together a mission to intercept it.

The Last Space Race Vol. 1 Pale Blue Dot collects issues #1-5

Story: Peter Calloway
Art: Alex Shibao
Color: Natália Marques
Letterer: Marshall Dillon

Get your copy in comic shops now in bookstores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology
TFAW: https://shrsl.com/26zgq
Zeus Comics: https://www.zeuscomics.com/search?q=last%20space%20race?tag=graphicpolicy

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Review: Killer Groove

It’s 1970s Los Angeles and a tale of music and murder as a struggling musician gets mixed up with a local mob hitman.

Killer Groove collects issues #1-5.

Story: Ollie Masters
Art: Eoin Marron
Color: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Get your copy in comic shops now in bookstores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

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