Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Denver Moon #2

My favorite police procedural movies are when the undercover police officer is so deep in, they barely know who they are any longer. One of the prime examples, is a show I’m currently watching that comes on the BBC, called No Offence. One of the main storylines follows a detective who’s undercover in a Islamic hate group. She breaks off all contact with her superiors and becomes embroiled in the group to almost not knowing what her true purpose is.

The storyline and the way it plays out reminds me of my two favorite movies from the 1990s , Deep Cover and In Too Deep. It’s just pure coincidence that both movies features characters who gets lost in their undercover persona, to the point it is hard for them to disrupt their learned behavior. This obsessive behavior also extends to when characters walk the grey line in order to solve their cases. How far will you go if saving lives will cost you, your moral scruples? In the second issue of Denver Moon, our titular character looks within the tunnels of Mars for any breadcrumbs which may lead to our scythe wielding killer.

The key to cracking the case lies buried in the deepest tunnels of Mars. Denver Moon will stop at nothing to unearth the truth, even if it means digging up the demons of her past. As Denver walks the streets following a lead, she quickly lets the reader know that she’s like most private investigators where a majority of her cases involve infidelity. It’s a nice tip of the hat to a trope of the genre. But everything else is anything but. It involves religious cults and miners and leads to a very powerful climax.

Overall, this issue serves as the turning point for the series and it more than serves the story. The story by Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola, is action packed and intelligent. The art by Aaron Lovett, Brandon Bendert, and Matt Von Scoyk is vivid and elegant. Altogether, it’s another excellent installment in the sci-fi crime noir series which looks to keep readers glued to their seats to the very end.

Story: Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
Art: Aaron Lovett, Brandon Bendert, and Matt Von Scoyk
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Cemetery Beach #1

Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, the creators of the critically acclaimed Trees (currently being adapted for television), bring a high-speed, mind-bending new series in Cemetery Beach—launching this September.​

In Cemetery Beach, a professional pathfinder, his only ally a disaffected young murderess, breaks out of a torture cell in pursuit of his worst extraction scenario ever: escaping on foot across a sprawling and secret off-world colony established a hundred years ago and filled with generations of lunatics.

Review: Batman: Damned #1 Has Gorgeous Visuals, Overwrought Narration

Batman: Damned #1 is 50 pages of glorious and sometimes creepy Lee Bermejo as well as 50 pages of John Constantine yapping about theology, heaven and hell, religious things, and the like and occasionally displaying his snarky wit courtesy of writer Brian Azzarello, who returns to the character almost two decades after being the first American to write Hellblazer in 2000. Batman: Damned has the tailor made for an elevator pitch premise of the Joker mysteriously being wounded, and Batman mysteriously having no idea what happened to him and teaming up with John Constantine to get to the bottom of things. It’s equally parts gritty and Gothic thanks to Bermejo’s art and works best when it’s reveling in its spookiness and disorienting atmosphere instead of trying to be deep or give Bruce Wayne a screwed up childhood before his parents were murdered.

At times, Azzarello and Bermejo seem to be working at counter purposes in Batman: Damned #1. The comic is filled with brilliant and sometimes shocking imagery from Bermejo and then kind of ruined with the overwrought narration from Azzarello. Brian Azzarello definitely is having a fun time writing Constantine narration, and the lettering has a nice storybook flow to it, but it undercuts the art sometimes by describing what is on the page instead of creating an interesting juxtaposition or adding layers to characterization like in Watchmen or Kingdom Come, for example. Azzarello and Bermejo do nail Constantine’s character in a single panel when he’s smoking and refers to himself as “the unreliable narrator”, which fits the non-linear, yet non-confusing nature of Batman: Damned’s plot whose supernatural elements keep it from being a cut and dried “What If Batman killed the Joker” story.

Honestly, the most unsettling part of Batman: Damned #1 are the flashbacks to Bruce’s childhood that go beyond the typical Zorro, pearls, Crime Alley, Waynes getting shot, and I’m not talking about Lee Bermejo’s creepy girl from The Ring take on The Enchantress. There’s a scene where young Bruce is out with his father Thomas and his mistress and entertaining himself by spitting off a tall building and counting, and he almost falls off the building when his dad throws a penny for his spit to “race”. A lot of orphan superhero’s parents were at least some kind of moral paragon, like Uncle Ben or Battlin’ Jack Murdock refusing to take a dive for a mob boss, but despite being super rich, Thomas Wayne doesn’t come across as a great dad or husband. Having a near death experience while your dad is cheating on your mom is definitely traumatic and adds more tragedy to the Batman mythos.

Batman: Damned #1 is at its finest when Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo go away from the theological narration and hurl the reader forward in a story about Batman being on the ropes with a gritty, supernatural tinge to it like Zatanna being a street musician or an eerie, invasive take on the body possessing Deadman. The comic’s opening sequence is a perfect example this beginning with a nine panel grid of an EKG and cutting to a full page image of Batman bleeding out before having him beat up cops, EMTS, and random passerbys while being disoriented and falling into the open arms of Alfred, er, John Constantine. There’s a real feeling of peril like the guy who has extensive notes and solutions for each Justice League member’s weaknesses has finally screwed up and could actually die or fail. It reminds me a lot of the Batman: Arkham video games when your health is dwindling, and the world is all cloudy and blood filled.

As shown in a scene where he’s crouching naked in front of a Batsuit (A page or so after the famous full frontal nudity.), Batman is definitely in pain throughout Batman: Damned #1 as he spends the entire comic trying to retrace his steps and figure out if he’s responsible for killing the Joker. Brian Azzarello’s incessant John Constantine is both parts annoying and hilarious, insightful and overbearing, but Lee Bermejo’s gorgeous image composition and aforementioned Gothic grit make the first DC Black Label book worth a read.

Story: Brian Azzarello Art: Lee Bermejo
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher

Story: 6 Art: 9.5 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics/Black Label provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: 30 Miles of Crazy #2

There’s nothing like walking through a major metropolis at night. You’ll never see the city the same way. I remember growing up in New York City with my cousins. We used to take the train at all times of the night. This was when you used to see things that would rattle most folks. But not us. It wasn’t because we were tough or knew exactly what was going on. We were just used to it. It was part of being a city dweller.

What made our trips so interesting were the people we met. Most of them were regular dayworkers just trying to get home. Others were homeless just trying to stay warm and fed. Needless to say, when I eventually traveled the world, I saw that most cities were like ours, just with different flavors. In the second issue of Karl Christian Krumpholz’s sensational series, 30 Miles Of Crazy, readers gets another peak into what looks like a wild night.

In “An Awkward Late-Night Conversation” a man takes a taxi only to find out he is about to hear one of the most gripping stories of his life. In “Just One Man’s Opinion,” one lush, as most of them do, pushes his opinion about Alice Cooper to everyone he sees. In “A Cajun Baptism,” a friend of the author tells an embarrassing story about the first time they met. In “Tequila Sunrise,” one bargoer becomes infuriated when he wrongly assumes how a strong a certain drink is. In “The Second Date,” we find how the author’s second date with his wife to have told him everything he needed to know about her. In “The Scottish Goodbye,” one bargoer explains what the term means leading to hilarious epiphany. By issue’s end, the reader gets a more personal comic from the writer. It’s one which makes you understand the man behind the pen.

Overall, the second issue gives you not only more about the city but the man behind the words. The story by Krumpholz is both fun and hilarious. The art by Krumpholz is beautiful and vivid. Altogether, it’s an excellent installment which should pull more readers into this world.

Story: Karl Christian Krumpholz Art: Karl Christian Krumpholz
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Shadowman #7

SM2018_007_COVER-A_ZONJICWho is Shadowman? It’s a question Jack Boniface has asked himself ever since he was called to protect our world from the demonic forces that lie beyond… Now, as he rides backseat in the body of a Paleolithic hunter, eons before his own birth, he will finally learn the shocking true identity of the loa spirit bound to his soul! And, as a shadow begins to spread across West Africa, Jack must defend his fellow tribesmen…or else be trapped in 40,000 B.C. forever!

This issue holds the distinction of being both the concluding part of a two issue arc, and also the fourth part of a longer story. That sounds more confusing than it is, honestly. Jack Boniface is in the middle of a multi-part arc, and while his consciousness is piggybacking with a Paleolithic hunter we see the origin of the shadow loa first bonding with a human being, which is told as a two part story (and is honestly a must read for any Valiant fan remotely curious about Shadowman). This two part story opens a vast array of possibilities for the character going forward, something that Jack seems to be aware of, and after the barrage of revelations about the shadow loa, Andy Diggle has opened the door of possibility. Dead and Gone  is poised to give Valiant fans a new era and direction for Shadowman, and I can’t wait to see where we’re taken from here.

Not all the revelations will be immediately apparent to a reader unfamiliar to the history and lore of Shadowman, but pay attention closely and you’ll notice some of the more nuanced tidbits that Diggle dangles just out of the periphery of your vision – in fact you should notice them about the same time Jack does.

But as good as the story is in this issue (and it really is), Renato Guedes is utterly fantastic in bringing the script to life. His art is haunting, and the body language and facial expressions of his figures bring forth an emotional response as you realize that the people you are reading about feel far more lifelike than most other comic characters.

Shadowman #7 is the kind of comic that you should show to new readers as an example of what can be achieved within the medium.

Story: Andy Diggle Art: Renato Guedes Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.1 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Quantum And Woody #10

QW2017_010_COVER-A_SMARTWhen most people go on a journey, they bring back a souvenir…but most people usually stick to t-shirts and keychains, not unearthly creatures like the ones Quantum and Woody brought back from the “Otherverse”! Now, a giant monster is wreaking havoc on Washington D.C., and another anomaly – known only as “The Screaming Man” – is slowly getting acquainted with our reality. Is the world’s worst superhero team going to do anything about it? Hopefully, or this would be a really weird comic!

I have really been enjoying Quantum And Woody since Eliot Rahal took over the scripting duties on the comic, and it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to say that this has become one of my most antcipated comics each month.

This issue has the brothers facing off against what is basically Godzilla, and as they aren’t exactly the biggest powerhouses in the Valiant universe we get some inventive uses of their powers as they come to save the day. It’s moments like these that Rahal shines; he isn’t writing in way that tries to be funny (or at least it doesn’t come across that way), but rather he’s got an effortless way of bringing humour into the book without ever making it the focal point – but that won’t stop you from having a good chuckle all the way through. Quantum And Woody #10 captures the essence of a what we remember early Marvel comics to be; fun, with decidedly subtle (or not so subtle) undertones that you may or may not pick up on.

Rahal questions reality in this book, and how one’s perspectives can change based on what you are and are not aware of. And he does this while showing that even the worst of us can be heroes, no matter who writes you off as useless – which seems to be an underlying theme of the series since Rahal has taken over. Maybe that’s why I love this issue so much, or maybe I’m over thinking things. I suppose it depends on my perspective, eh?

Story: Eliot Rahal Art: Joe Eisma
Colours: Andrew Dalhouse Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: DC Comics: Anatomy of a Metahuman

When most people who don’t read comics think of the genre and the culture they often think of iconic figures of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. One of my favorite movies is Justice League: Doom which is based on the storyline “Justice League Of America: Tower Of Babel,” which I read first and then years later saw the animated movie. I had the same question, both times, how did Bruce Wayne collect all this intelligence on each of his friends? Thankfully, I wasn’t the only person thinking this, as the good people at Insight Editions have put together a behind the scenes look at what goes on in the mind of Bruce Wayne. We get a chance to discover his notes on every major metahuman, friend and foe, in Anatomy Of A Metahuman.

Concerned about the threat that so-called “metahumans” may pose to the world, Batman has begun compiling a detailed dossier on their incredible physiology and abilities. From villains like Killer Croc, Bane, and Brainiac, to Batman’s own comrades, including Superman and Cyborg, the file brings together the Dark Knight’s fascinating personal theories on the unique anatomical composition of these formidable individuals. This unique book delves into the incredible abilities of DC Comics characters like never before. Using beautifully illustrated anatomical cross sections depicting twelve different DC characters.

In “Introduction,” the reader gets a handwritten note form Bruce Wayne himself, as he lays out the very reason he has put these files together in the first place and how they can help when all the good has gone. In “Superman,” Bruce breaks down his friend and sometimes adversary, as he dives into how Kryptonian anatomy differs from human, though they look humanoid on the surface, as the most fascinating section focuses on his brain and how it is both superior and similar to humans. In “The Cheetah,” the reader get insight into her and Wonder Woman’s relationship and what Steve Trevor initially thought of the subjects. In “Aquaman,” the reader learns about Atlantis and how Atlanteans function almost like most sea creatures except with some rather unique abilities. In “Cyborg,” we learn about Victor Stone’s connection to the Mother Box, and though he may be human he is equally robot. In “Martian Manhunter,” we learn how Jonzz and Martian morphology, and how his need to fit in as human is both fascinating and mystifying. In “Swamp Thing,” we get a deep dive into how chlorokinesis works in his case and how it affects both his powers and his ability to rejuvenate himself. In “Darkseid,” we find out about the New Gods and though they are aliens, they also have deity-like qualities. In “Bane,” we learn how Bane became so strong and how this same elixir has made some foes unusually invincible including one former protege. In “Doomsday,” we find just how dangerous this creature is and why Superman and most Kryptonians both fear and revile him. In “Killer Croc,” we find out how a skin disorder made him into who he would become.  In “Bizarro,” we find the only true irregularity amongst the file,s as his whole physiology was due to defects that could only happen to Kryptonians. In “Killer Frost,” we get an in-depth look at cryokinesis, and just how it works with heat absorption. In “Conclusion,” Wayne laments the attention to detail he wished he gave each subject but wishes to go more in depth, with a promise to release more files.

The book is a deep dive into the characters as the Bruce Wayne gives the readers and painstaking look at each character and also into the mind of Bruce Wayne AKA Batman. The narration and notes by writers S.D. Perry and Matthew K. Manning are very entertaining and capture the character’s voice perfectly. The art by Ming Doyle can easily be in a sketchbook as well as an art museum. Altogether, an entertaining coffee book that can satisfy both comic book fans and pop culture fans equally.

The book is outnow.

Story: S.D. Perry and Matthew K. Manning Art: Ming Doyle
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.0 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: 20th Century Boys Perfect Edition Vol. 1

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got a new edition of the modern classic manga, 20th Century Boys.

20th Century Boys is by Naoki Urasawa and this “perfect edition” contains two complete volumes of the original 22-volume epic manga series in a deluxe omnibus edition featuring new cover art and select pages in their original color presentation.

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFW

 

VIZ Media provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies 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 Best of Don Winslow of the Navy

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got a collection of classic comic strips.

The Best of Don Winslow of the Navy is edited by Craig Yoe and published by Dead Reckoning and collects the classic comic strips by Frank V. Martinek.

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFW or Dead Reckoning

 

Dead Reckoning provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies 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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