Category Archives: Reviews

Nuclear Family banner ad

Review: Seekers of the Aweto Vol. 1 The Hunt is On

Xinyue, his brother Qiliu, and their mother are seekers, hunting aweto―a rare, plantlike treasure―along the legendary Silk Road.

Xinyue discovers the offspring of a deity that creates aweto and becomes its caretaker struggling to keep it safe.

Seekers of the Aweto Vol. 1 The Hunt is On is the first of a four volume series.

Story: Nie Jun
Art: Nie Jun
Translation: Edward Gauvin

Get your copy 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 (paperback)
Amazon (library binding)
Kindle

Graphic Universe 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: Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1

The talented artist/colorist duo of Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson dive headfirst into the world of all-ages fantasy comics in Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 with Samnee handing story duties as well with co-writer Laura Samnee. The premise of the story is simple, yet heart-rending. Jonna is an energetic young girl, who enjoys running, climbing trees, and being generally adventurous. However, she runs into a big monster one day and goes missing. The hook for the series is that her older sister, Rainbow, must find her in a landscape that’s gone from pastoral to dystopian. With a knapsack on her back and a feather in her beanie, Rainbow also seems to have that adventurous spirit, but it’s for a purpose: finding her lost sister and family.

The first and second half of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters have completely different tones, and the Samnees and Wilson do an excellent job conveying that through script, art, and color palette. All the dialogue in the first half of the comic comes from an exasperated Rainbow, except for one word from Jonna, “Unpossible”. And, honestly, that’s all that needs to be said about her character and the setup of the comic. Jonna is a doer, not a talker, and Samnee and Wilson fill full pages of her leaping from branch to branch culminating in a triumphant splash page at her leaping at the titular monster. These pages are a showcase for Samnee’s skill at showing action and tension as Jonna’s position changes from panel to panel, and Samnee switches from horizontal to vertical layouts depending on the degree of difficulty of her jumps and flips. The tension comes when a branch almost break, and, of course, when she encounters a monster so Wilson uses red to symbolize fear and danger almost in a similar manner to how he colored Chris Samnee’s work on Black Widow when its protagonist got in a rough spot.

However, the second half of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters swaps out Matthew Wilson’s bright colors for something a little more drab. (The one exception is Rainbow’s shock of blue hair.) Facial expressions and dialogue play a larger role as the Samnees’ story transitions from a little girl running free in the wood to her sister trying to find her. Chris Samnee digs into the hopelessness of this new monster-infested status quo in little ways like Rainbow’s utter surprise when she has a nice conversation with another kid about the feather (From the last bird ever!) in her cap or from a close-up of her kicking rock to show the sheer emptiness of her surrounding. However, he and Laura Samnee find little glimmers of light like through Rainbow’s interactions with the totally adorable Gramma Pat, who wants nothing more than for Rainbow to settle down and stay in the camp for a while. However, she also understands that the potential of finding Jonna or the rest of her family is what keeps her motivated and basically gives her a reason to get up in the morning.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 reminds me a lot of Gareth Edwards’ excellent kaiju film Monsters although the Samnees’ comic has a much more whimsical vibe than the film. The main similarity is in the focus on how these giant monsters have affected human civilization instead of epic battles. (For now.) Rainbow blacks out when she sees Jonna jumping at the monster, and then there’s a page of black with a couple stars that leads into the one year time skip. It shows that these monsters have changed humanity’s way of life and aren’t just gentle giants that young girls can hop around in the woods. These two pages between the first and second part of the comics are a metaphor for having to grow up too fast and sacrifice your childhood and sense of wonder to survive, which is what Rainbow has had to do even though she does keep around relics of the “before time” like her beanie, the aforementioned feather, and her blue hair. These little costume and design choices from Chris Samnee definitely add a hopeful tone to the dark setting of the second half of the comic and hint at a rich world that we’ve only scratched the surface of.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 shows off Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson’s skill at visually depicting both dynamic movement and quiet character moments as they and Laura Samnee set up a world full of danger and things that go bump during the night and day plus a plucky protagonist, who is willing to face them because she loves and misses her family. I can’t wait to see how Rainbow grows as a character and the dangers (Aka monsters) she faces and hopefully overcomes on her adventure with a purpose.

Story: Laura Samnee and Chris Samnee Art: Chris Samnee
Colors: Matthew Wilson Letters: Crank!
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Undone by Blood or The Other Side of Eden #1

It’s the 1930s and Silvano Luna Del Rio works as a postman in Buttar, Texas. Silvano is also planning on robbing the first skyscraper West of the Mississippi.

But, like the previous volume, Silvano’s story is told side by side with an old west novel featuring the gunslinger Solomon Eaton.

Story: Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson
Art: Sami Kivela
Color: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Get your copy 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.

Kindle
comiXology
Zeus Comics
TFAW

AfterShock Comics 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: Nottingham #1

Nottingham #1

The story of Robin Hood has been told many times and in many ways. In my experience, there are three stand out versions and everyone has their favorite. There’s the animated Disney version with the anthropomorphic animals. There’s Prince of Thieves with Costner, Freeman, Slater, and Rickman. Or there’s Mel Brooks’ seminal Men in Tights. Regardless of which version you think is best (*fake cough* Costner), get ready to add a new favorite into the mix. This March, Mad Cave Studios plans to tell Robin Hood’s story in a new and unique way with Nottingham #1.

In Nottingham, series writer David Hazan gives readers a dark, grittier version of the characters with which we’re all familiar. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the first issue. Normally, I save my recommendation until the end of the review, but I just can’t wait. This is a title you’ll want to add to your pull list before it releases on March 3rd. One of Hazan’s many unique spins on the classic Robin Hood tale is that the story is told from the perspective of the Everard Blackthorrne, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The entire first issue had the feel of a detective story and the Sheriff has all the qualities one would expect. He’s astute, stoic, and has a bit of an attitude. He also has a history of dealing with extremists, having fought in the crusades. All of Blackthorne’s skill and clout will be tested as he tries to track down a band of killers called the Merry Men, and their leader the mysterious Hood. The search for Hood and the Merry Men starts off rather slow but by the end of the issue, I was hooked by equal doses of action and intrigue.

Artist Shane Connery Volk’s illustrations truly transport the reader to twelfth-century England. He takes the time to draw every uneven brick in the walls of castles and buildings. There’s a scene set in the pouring rain where the raindrop hatch marks add a level of complexity to what’s drawn on the page. However, the characters’ faces are rather diminutive, especially compared to how richly drawn the comic’s setting is. Many of the faces look carelessly drawn, almost as if they were an afterthought. Colorist Luca Romano rectifies this to some extent by adding shading and shadow to the faces, but most of the time they still look like they were drawn by a child and not a professional comic book artist. These simplistic faces really threw off my reading, pulling my attention away from the scenes themselves.

This March, David Hazan begins a new chapter in the Robin Hood mythos with Nottingham #1. One filled with murder plots, zealous intrigue, and an element of mystery. Although the pacing of this first issue was a little slow, it picks up toward the end and it finishes with an exciting conclusion. The ending left me wanting to know more about this version of Robin Hood’s world. Volk’s artwork hits a lot of high points but the low points, namely the level of detail put into the characters’ faces, make it hard to stay completely engaged in the story. The world Volk draws feels real though, even when the character’s faces look off. Despite my criticisms, this is a series you’ll want to have on your radar, if not in your personal collection.

Story: David Hazan Art: Shane Connery Volk
Color: Luca Romano Letterer: Joamette Gil
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Mad Cave Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comixologyTFAW

Review: The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook

The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook

Screaming “Antifa” is the new crying wolf for the right. Anything they don’t like, the term is raised as if it pulls the strings of everything going on. In reality, Antifa is not an organization or a group, it’s simply a short way of saying anti-fascist. If you think fascism is wrong and dislike fascists, you’re antifa. It really is that simple. Matt Lubchansky decides to have some fun with The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook that takes us into the battle between those evil antifa and local police.

The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook is about Max Marx who gets a big promotion within the group. Marx is upgraded into a supersoldier to battle the police and destroy the American way of life. Standing in the way is Sergeant Paul O’Shea of the Big City PD and right-wing personalities like Adonis Asproulis. Lubchansky has a lot of fun with the concept sending up right-wing fears and probably getting it close to their fantasy of a reality to be honest.

Lubchansky is the Associate Editor of the website The Nib and no stranger to biting political satire. The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook is exactly that taking everything to such an extreme it’s hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

The comic is over the top and nails all the talking points and exaggerations that have gone around concerning ANTIFA. Events like the “Battle of Berkley” are given a send-up. From the story, the concepts, to the art, everything is a joke within the comic. But, the jokes have a slight shred of truth to them.

Lubchansky’s story touches upon some of the absurd powers and programs that have militarized the police and increased their aggression. The comic has a hand guide for those new to the subject and is a good place to start.

The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook is a solid satire that has fun with the absurd reality some people live in. The disconnect from the truth and reality is there and Lubchansky uses that to have fun making a point at the silliness of it all. The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook will deliver laughs for those politically interested and delivers a one-shot comic I hope continues in some way.

Story: Matt Lubchansky Art: Matt Lubchansky
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Silver Sprocket provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Puchase: AmazonTFAWBookshop

Review: Breaklands Vol. 1

Breaklands

The first story arc of Breaklands is being collected in trade paperback for the first time. This genre-bending adventure series, written by Justin Jordan, was developed by Dark Horse Comics and digitally published as a ComiXology Original. The story is set in a dystopian future where people have developed psychic powers. These psychic abilities have become a part of nearly every aspect of life. The most powerful psychics, known as Shapers, are sought after by the new ruling class. This matters very little to the powerless Kasa Fain and her little brother Adam. They live a peaceful and quiet life. That all changes when Adam is kidnapped and Kasa must set off across the world to rescue him.

Jordan puts together a story that pairs lighthearted humor with hardcore action. The banter between Kasa and the warriors she recruits to help rescue Adam is fast paced and witty. Despite these high these high points, I didn’t find the plot to be all that original. Although there is a fair amount of dialogue, a lot of the storytelling is done through visuals alone. Jordan also come up with cool uses for the various psychic abilities. Pyrokinetic powered vehicles alone are a concept I’d love to see explored further in another series.

I never thought I’d write this, but I think Breaklands almost has too much action. The narrative gets lost in between all the high-octane action sequences. Character development falls by the wayside in favor of the non-stop action. In addition, there were several action scenes that either didn’t make a lot of sense or where it was hard to tell exactly what was going on. I also think there’s almost too many characters, introduced too quickly. Some of them don’t even end up mattering to the greater narrative. Little enough attention is given to developing the main characters to begin with, so the added side characters wind up just cluttering the plot.

In Breaklands, artist Tyasseta draws everything with a cool aesthetic. There are many beautiful full-page spreads in which Tyasetta gets to showcase the world he and Jordan have created. Tyasetta injects a mix of cultures into the vehicles, clothing, and the adornment of buildings. He also draws a variety of different action scenes, some more violent than others. The gorier fight scenes look comical since they’re drawn in a very animated style. I don’t mean for that sentence to come off as a negative. This juxtaposition between gore and cartoon styling actually contributes to the comic’s unique look.

When it comes to comic book storytelling, I often feel like writers come up with a cool concept but then struggle to tell a coherent story within the world they’ve created. In my opinion Breaklands suffers from the opposite problem. Jordan weaves together a strong, albeit familiar, narrative but the world he’s created doesn’t do much to support his story. The story has substance, but the concept is mostly flash. Luckily, Tyasetta uses his talents to full effect and illustrates that flash in a visually pleasing manner. All in all, this is a series that’s not going to appeal to everyone. If you enjoyed Justin Jordan’s previous works or are a fan of dystopian adventures, you’ll probably find something to like about this series. If those caveats don’t apply to you, maybe read the first issue before committing to the entire trade paperback.

Story: Justin Jordan Art: Tyasseta
Color: Sarah Stern Letterer: Rachel Deering
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Dark Horse and comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleTFAWBookshop

Review: America Chavez: Made in the USA #1

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1

American Chavez is a character I only know a bit about. She’s been in various comics I’ve read as a member of a team but as far as her origin and the specific details I know very little. I know about her moms, her general powers, and the dimension-hopping but there are absolutely gaps in my knowledge. In a way, America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 feels refreshing as a comic I could step in to and get caught up.

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 drops the reader into the world of America Chavez. The initial battle is a way to catch up on the character delivering a bit of her personality and setting up what’s to come. It teases her families and “origin” in some ways. Though specifics aren’t all laid out, the comic does a solid job of giving the reader enough to feel like they’re not missing anything. Writer Kalinda Vazquez delivers an inclusive comic in that way. New readers shouldn’t feel overwhelmed while long-time fans should be intrigued by what’s new and the direction of the series.

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 has an interesting theme and aspect to it in an exploration of “home”. The comic’s title is “Made in the USA” and it’s that aspect of Chavez’s life that seems to be the focus here. She might be from another world but this is a look at the family that raised her in the USA. If this is all new to the character, that’s news to me, but the direction seems interesting.

Carlos Gomez handles the art with Jesus Aburtov on color and lettering by Travis Lanham. The art is pretty solid delivering a lot of action throughout. This is a comic with a quick pacing as much of it is America doing battle with either giant moles or a mysterious dome. Things look good and the comic has a certain energy about it that feels fitting for the character. There’s a lot packed in with pages filled with so much to check out and look at. But, witht hat, things get a bit cluttered with the visuals not quite delivering a clear message as to what’s going on. There’s a choppiness in both art and narrative at times.

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 is a decent start. While it could have been improved in some ways, it’s a solid introduction to the character for new readers. It sets up an intriguing mystery and has a clear voice about it. With the character about to be in the spotlight, the comic does a solid job as a starting point for people to discover America and her world.

Story: Kalinda Vazquez Art: Carlos Gomez
Color: Jesus Aburtov Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Chariot #1

Chariot #1

The 1980s brought a certain sense of style with a fashion sense distinctive to the decade and a color palette to go along. The entertainment also had a certain flair dominated by macho action films. Chariot #1 delivers that aesthetic with an interesting start revolving around a cool and mysterious car.

For its opening seven pages, Chariot #1 takes us on a chase that befits the crazy action of the 80s. A mysterious enemy fires upon the “cool” car using so much of what they have to stop it. Bullets bounce and the “cool” car does its moves to survive. It’s wordless letting the visuals and display do all the talking.

Writer Bryan Edward Hill focuses on that cool factor. It’s not just the car but also Jim, the down on his luck dad trying to make money to pay for his kid’s cancer treatment. Jim owes money to some bad people and needs more money to continue to help his child. It’s the criminal attempting to do good and put into a shitty position. His is a story we can relate to in some way. He just can’t get ahead and above water. He’s drowning in what he must do and does bad things because he has no other options. It’s a familiar archetype but one that works.

But it comes down to those visuals and the “cool” factor. Priscilla Petraites handles the art with color by Marco Lesko. It all evokes the 80s without completely enveloping itself in nostalgia. The color dips itself in the bright colors of the time without hurting the eye. It uses it is a highlight in many ways without making it the center of attention.

Chariot #1 has a sense of style about it that works. It feels like films like Drive in that the visuals and essence are a driver of its draw. It’s a cool start with an intriguing premise and concept. The latter half is a bit surprising where it goes resulting in an unexpected direction. For those that want a little bit of nostalgia, Chariot #1 is something to check out.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Priscilla Petraites Color: Marco Lesko
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Nocterra #1

Nocterra #1

When Nocterra came to Kickstarter, I happily backed it. I have the full over-sized black and white version on my shelf. I haven’t cracked it open yet because I wanted to experience the comic monthly, issue by issue and in color, like so many others. Reading it in one go is for down the road. After reading Nocterra #1, I had to crack open my Kickstarter version as I wanted to linger on and soak in the artwork even more. The comic delivers an intriguing premise that feels familiar in a world that feels foreign, strange, and fascinating.

The world has gone dark. Enveloped in a pitch black, the surviving bits of humanity must cling to the artificial light because if they don’t, they begin to turn into monsters. There’s constant danger and a rather bleak existance. Enter Valentina “Val” Riggs, a skilled ferryman who transports people and goods along deadly unlit roads with her heavily illuminated eighteen wheeler. Riggs is hired to ferry two mysterious individuals who promise hope.

Written by Scott Snyder, Nocterra #1 feels familiar. The darkness delivers thoughts of Pitch Black while being surrounded by monsters and the focus on a courier has a bit of I Am Legend and The Wilds, among other things. Despite that familiarity, the debut issue is engaging and sucks the reader in. The presentation of the world and build up to the final pages creates a world you become enveloped in.

Riggs being the center of the story, we’re provided a personal experience in this world and her view on it. Snyder gives Riggs some depth, taking us from her childhood to the current situation, ten years after the world has gone dark. We get Val’s perspective on it with a calm acceptance for reasons explained. And we get action, lots of action. Nocterra #1 delivers a hell of a sequence that’s full of entertainment.

That action is delivered by Tony S. Daniel. His visuals, along with Tomeu Morey on color and Andworld Design‘s lettering, get the blood pumping while the action gets going. But, the visuals help flesh out this world telling so much of the story. When Val gets to her town, we’re presented with a new world that packs in details that tell so much more than Snyder’s dialogue provides. You get a good sense of things through Daniel’s art, it’s the small details of the comic. Nocterra #1 also delivers one of the most interesting villains in a long time with a design that sucks you into the void.

Nocterra #1 is a solid start. Though it feels like an amalgam of other stories, it’s entertaining and packed with stunning visuals. We get an interesting world, solid protagonist, and the focus on details that flesh out its characters and world. It’s an amazing start and we’re all in for the ride.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Tony S. Daniel
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Andworld Design
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Demon Days: X-Men #1

Demon Days: X-Men #1

Peach Momoko is a talented Japanese cartoonist who has created many manga-influenced, watercolor comic book covers for Marvel and other publishers. She makes both her writing and interior art debut for Marvel in Demon Days: X-Men #1 where she puts her own spin on Marvel heavy hitters like Psylocke, Wolverine, Jubilee, Venom, and Hulk while placing them in the context of Japanese folklore and yokai stories. She transposes the conflict between humans hating and fearing mutants to humans hating and fearing the oni, like Hulk-maru, whose trees have been cut down so they have to raid the human village to get food for their children. What follows is a fairly simple story about humans and oni putting aside their differences to fight a larger threat, Orochi, or Venom with some fun takes on Marvel characters. For example, Jubilee is now a lazy sorcerer named Juju, and Logan is a wolf instead of a short, hairy mutant.

But the fighting is where Demon Days: X-Men starts to unravel. Momoko has many strengths as an artist, including an eye for design, cool poses, and the ability to match a color palette to a mood. She’s also good at setting a scene like the oni’s forest, Venom’s sanctuary, or the village where Sai (Demon Days’ Psylocke) and Logan travel to and offer their services as a sell-sword. However, choreographing and laying out a fight scene isn’t her strong suit, which is unfortunate because the majority with little interstitials of negotiations between Sai and the oni, various planning (Coaxing in Juju’s case.) sessions, and the ending of the book, which shows that maybe Momoko is better at slice of life than magical/sword slashing/symbiote action.

In brief, the battle between Venom and the villager/oni alliance is hard to follow with Peach Momoko switching up perspective and angles on a dime. It’s kind of like the comic book equivalent of the dreaded “shaky cam” even if it’s cool to see Sai fight gracefully with a katana, or Juju set off fireworks everywhere. Momoko sets up the condition that the oni and humans have to work together to defeat Venom, but there’s no magical weakness or fairy tale comeuppance just hacking, slashing, biting, and smashing until the yokai dissipates. It reads like “mandatory fight scene”, and apparently Logan loses his eye. However, you don’t see this until some post-fight dialogue where Momoko throws an obvious reference to his healing factor. The dynamic between him and Sai as well as the young girl Tsuki is really fun as both a nod to their relationship in the comics as well as a riff on Lone Wolf and Cub with a literal animal.

Demon Days: X-Men #1 has some cool designs (Juju’s was my favorite), fun character interactions, and the story and backmatter are a great introduction to Japanese folklore and yokai stories via American pop culture. However, Peach Momoko’s plotting is predictable, and she is better at drawing landscapes and conversations than fight scenes. But the comic isn’t a total wash, and it’s nice to see an artist whose style is a far cry from most of the “house style” Marvel books get to put her own imprint on iconic characters. Also, the final pages are damn good and made me interested in the nature of this universe that Momoko has created.

Story: Peach Momoko Art: Peach Momoko
English Adaptation: Zack Davisson Letters: Ariana Maher
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus Comics TFAW

« Older Entries