Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Gamora #2

gamora__2The Gamora origin story continues its amazing start Gamora #2. Picking up where the explosive first issue left off we find Gamora headed to the wasteland planet of Ubilex in Thanos’ stolen space ship and headed for a crash landing. Klaxon is headed to the planet as well and they are both on the hunt for the half Badoon heir. Things don’t go as planned for either of them and the Badoon princess is more damn hell in a sort of dress than damsel in distress.

In a surprise turn of events, Gamora finds herself face to face with the Vestigal “intern” princess who has no idea who she is and luckily Gamora doesn’t either because they form a quick alliance against the zealot filled Oculus Cult. Things are off to a crazy but, amazing start and the couple of spoilers I just gave you don’t even touch the surface of all the good stuff that goes down in this issue.

Nicole Pelman‘s writing style is quick, clever and purposeful giving a richness to Gamora’s back story. There is clear motivation behind her action and even though the setting for this issue is literally out of this world the story she weaves is realistic and brilliant at its core. Every word and emotion is intense when it needs to be and cavalier when it has to be providing the reader with moments that feel real and current. Marco Checchetto‘s art work adds an extra layer of brilliance and realism to an already rich story. Every line seems to have been placed with great attention to detail from the pained faces in battle to the thoughtful contemplation in more “peaceful” moments, it gives the reader a sense of being in the story.

Overall issue #2 of Gamora is a great read from cover to cover. Even without reading issue #2 you can jump right into the story and feel like you’re not only part of it but, have a sense that you know what’s going on without Pelman dumbing down the content or spoon feeding you the story.

Story: Nicole Pelman Art: Marco Checchetto
Story: 9.1 Art: 9 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Generation Zero #6

genzero_006_cover-b_eismaGeneration Zero managed to survive their first mission, and now duty has called on them to venture deep inside a perilous dimension only known as the Heroscape to see the world through a new set of eyes! They’ll discover their friends’ biggest secrets, their enemies’ darkest fears, and their town’s sinister connection to this imagination-fueled reality. But just because the Heroscape is imaginary, doesn’t mean it can’t kill you… And, from anime-inflected zombie hordes to psychedelic sci-fi warriors, all of Rook, Michigan’s most deeply buried fantasies are about to come roaring out of your daydreams!

Generation Zero is a series that started slower in pace than some would have liked, and with a take on the Zeroes that caught some by surprise. I’ll freely admit that this wasn’t my favourite Valiant book when it came out, but it has grown on me significantly since I read that first issue.

The sixth issue hits us in a week that the publisher has released two other incredibly strong books, and I’d be lying if I said that this was the strongest of them all – oh it’s a good comic, but for me personally the other two offerings this week resonated just that little bit more. That said, this was still better than a lot of other comics I read this week.

Fred Van Lente is building to something fantastic here, and we’re starting to see glimpses of it now. In a series where a slow burn hasn’t always been welcome, we start to see some pay off with the sixth issue.

Story: Fred Van Lente Art: Javier Pulido and Diego Bernard
Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: U.S.Avengers #2

detailI am happy to say that the awesome crazy train of ridiculousness continues in U.S.Avengers #2. This issue starts off with Thanos, and some massive event that has happened in another timeline called Zero Day that sees many of the Marvel heroes dead at his feet. We also get more Dani Cage as Captain America, some great moments with The Golden Skull and his pirate cronies, and one moment that actually made me laugh out loud. Many comics are funny, but few can actually make me laugh out loud, and so far, Al Ewing is two for two for these issues. It is great when a comic with such an odd and seemingly silly premise shines like this. That’s a testament to the writing and the great art on this series. We are only two issues in, but you can already tell that this book is going to be one wild and fun ride. It comes with a patriotic Red Hulk with striped shorts. Nuff said.

Paco Medina continues the fantastic work we saw in the last issue, and I love his Red Hulk. He walks that fine line between the silliness of this series, and just flat out great character design. It works very well with the premise and what Ewing is doing with the story. Also, we get to see the team in suits as they go to a party, complete with Squirrel Girl’s tail sticking out of the back. The Golden Skull is a great villain and has a great design thanks to Medina. He looks part pirate, part gangster, part silly, and part awesome. I also really love his depiction of Dani Cage, as she looks like she is a perfect mix of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The inking by Juan Vlasco and the colors by Jesus Aburtov are also fantastic and compliment Medina’s pencils perfectly. This is a great looking comic. There’s no doubt about that.

I really love this series so far. This is exactly what I needed from Marvel, after the doom and gloom of Civil War II. I am also glad that Al Ewing is getting more comics, as he has shown he can really write not only great stories, but of different styles as well. He also writes Ultimates, and the squared renumbering version of Ultimates, and they are consistently mentioned by most people as some Marvel’s best books. Ewing will also be writing the upcoming Inhumans comic, Royals. Basically, my point is, the more Ewing, the better. You should at least check out U.S.Avengers, because it is different than anything else out there, and I am happy to say that it wasn’t a one hit wonder, and the second issue is great silly fun.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Paco Medina Inker: Juan Vlasco Color: Jesus Aburtov
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Harley Quinn #12

harley-cv12_dsHarley Quinn #12 brought back a lot of what I liked about the direction that the Rebirth team, Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti, were taking with Harley. She’s a lot more autonomous and a lot less Joker prop. Last time around I had some issues with the story direction, this issue was way more cohesive and showed a focus and direction that I could get behind. I still want to know what was lurking behind the mystery door on Red Tool and Harley’s adventure but, this issue was filling enough to tide me over until the next one comes out and clever enough to leave me wanting more.

This issue served up everything I love about the latest Harley incarnation, Conner and Palmiotti served up that wise talking bad ass lady boss we all fell in love with. She gives Tool the business for trying to white knight her with the Joker and, the Joker gets treated to what can only be described as Harley pulling a Reservoir Dogs style torture scene with Mr. J. We also get a glimpse of Madison’s master plan as she unleashes what appears to be her version of a supernatural Kraken from a cargo container on the Red Hook docks.

harley_12_5The writing is on point in this issue, there’s a cohesive story with real dialogue. Harley gets back her agency and we get to see her in all of her glory. The story was easy to follow and gave me hope for the issues to come, it also left me with just the right amount of questions to ponder while I wait for the next installment of what is shaping up to be an interesting story arc.

John Timms’ artwork is full of detail and shows off the emotions of the characters perfectly, it looks more like a storyboard for a movie which helped keep me engaged in the story. Chad Hardin provided a nice art assist in a much needed Harley dream sequence that showed her feelings on the reappearance of the Joker. Harding’ ethereal art style portrayed perfectly the thought process following escape from a toxic relationship. I would also like to acknowledge Dave Sharpe, the letterer for this issue who managed to give each character a unique voice. The Jokers’ bubbles managed to convey actual menace in them.

Overall this was a solid issue and a return to what I fell in love with about the Rebirth Harley. It was a strong read as a stand alone issue and a nice bridge to for what is to come.

Story: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: John Timms, Chad Hardin (Dream Sequence)
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Angel Season 11 #1

stl029890In the final season of the Angel TV show, beloved supporting character Fred Burkle (played by Amy Acker) was animated by the Elder God Illyria after her death. In a similar manner, Angel Season 11 #1 has some familiar faces, like Angel, Fred, and even flashbacks to Angel’s earliest days as a vampire in Ireland, but the comic reads like popular licensed characters going through the motions of a run of the mill horror\mystery\time travel story. Piling up genres and setting the comic in Ireland doesn’t add much to a snooze of a read.

The best Buffy and Angel comics have nailed the ways characters have spoken as well as their relationships and motivations and making changes in line with this. For example, Christos in Angel and Faith had Faith helping Angel find redemption by raising Giles from the dead, and there just happened to be other dimensions along the way. Unfortunately, writer Corinna Bechko just throws Angel and Fred into a haunted hotel in Dublin, has middling artist Gerardo Borges throw up some creepy imagery when he can’t even get Angel’s expressions straight, and adds some gimmicks like time travel to give the plot forward momentum. It seems like there will be a conflict between Fred and Illyria, but Bechko and Borges just use the latter to get them out of any plot snafus. She is like Superman of the Silver Age and gains abilities to fit the plot’s needs with no consequences to speak of so far.

With the exit of Faith as a co-headliner, Angel Season 11 #1 has the task of building a supporting cast, which is a problem that its sister title doesn’t have. Except this whole issue is just Angel and Fred running around a hotel pel-mell, looking in a coffins, and following random spiders. There is no relationship building or real tension between our two leads, and it seems like they are just there to fill the quota of two leads in a supernatural themed procedural. (Mulder and Scully, they are not.) Even when Giles’ immortal aunts Lavinia and Sophie show up, the writing for them lacks its comic relief.

The one positive in Angel Season 11 #1 is Michelle Madsen’s color palette. She uses a grey screen print tone to give the demon that Angel and Fred (Later Illyria.) battle a kind of Wicker Man vibe and uses a similar effect in the opening page with some black to introduce a still brooding Angel. Borges’ character poses and action/magical movements are all over the place, but Madsen’s sparkles of energy are a reminder that the Buffyverse is a place of wonder even if the stories set in it sometimes aren’t the greatest.

Angel Season 11 #1 ends with Angel traveling back in time so maybe figures from his past will pop up and playing supporting roles and help this comic transform from Irish Supernatural-lite to the Buffyverse’s “Days of Future Past.” But, for now, it’s just a mediocre exorcism story with a time travel twist, two stiff lead characters, and uninspiring art. It’s definitely not the best way to launch a new season.

Story: Corinna Bechko Art: Geraldo Borges Colors: Michelle Madsen
Story: 4 Art: 5.5 Overall: 4.7 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Euro Thursday Review: Hook Jaw

hook_jaw_2_cover-aIn the troubled waters off Somalia, a rag-tag group of marine scientists studying a pack of female great white sharks find themselves caught in a conflict between pirates and the might of the US Navy. But why is the CIA so interested in the work of the scientists? And just how will they face up to the shadowy terror of the legendary great white – HOOK JAW?!

Published by British publisher Titan Comics, written by Si Spurrier, with art by Conor Boyle, at two issues in, Hook Jaw went from silly to silly fun really quick.

I was completely unfamiliar with anything that came before, so when I went into the first issue, it honestly felt a bit like a Jaws rip-off with some CIA/Navy SEALS guys thrown in. The second issue embraces all of that calling out the fact it’s a goofy Jaws cash-in and just completely makes fun of the tough guy CIA/Navy SEAL leader who keeps repeating the same phrase over and over while his machismo is mocked.

Spurrier has embraced the goofy here and it totally pays off. I read the first issue with some interest and it was good. It’s the second issue that really brings me in because it decides to not take itself seriously. At that point the comic embraces the fun and silly premise. It’s a shark with a hook coming out of its front! It uses the hook to stab people! How can that not be funny!? When the comic doesn’t take seriously, it shines and hooks me.

Boyle’s art too is over the top embracing the gore when he can giving us a bloody mess that I remember from all of those movies this comic pays homage to. What’s interesting is the art doesn’t change really, but Spurrier’s tone reflects in it. If it’s goofy, the art comes off as goofy. If the writing is serious, the art is serious. But, the art doesn’t change at all, which is fascinating.

Hook Jaw #2 is where things really take off for me. I’m looking forward to more and sitting back and embracing the utter ridiculousness of it all and enjoying every page of it.

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Conor Boyle
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Few #1

the-few-cover_The Few #1 is an aptly named straight-forward post-apocalyptic story that excels by focusing on exactly what it means to be. There is no convolution, attempts to break the genre. It hits the ground running and by committing to simplicity in its debut issue delivers the promise that it knows how to capture the fear and threat other such stories miss.

The story follows Edan Hale as she feels masked-men ordered to kill her and the baby she’s been entrusted to her. The biblical themes, such as a refugee baby, mass-murder and ruler named Herrod, would be confusing if it the story lingered on them even a few moments longer. However, they create a more familiar story so that this one can focus on moving forward.

What is truly appealing about this book is it’s minimal color scheme, sepia tones against a faded red. The color choices by artist Hayden Sherman create a style that allows it’s take what would be an exceedingly recognizable beginning and causes it to stand out, adding to the drab grit of the world. The line work is dynamic and engaging and creates a more involved read.

The story moves quickly and instead of making it’s debut-issue front-heavy with exposition, it demonstrates what people can expect in terms of violence, stakes and pacing. Keep in mind, it’s very difficult to do a first issue. Sean Lewis crafted this premiere to be a strategic bit of entertainment and pulled it off nicely.

Fans of The Walking Dead will love this fast-moving, bloody story. Not just for the familiarity but how it uses brevity to keep the reader moving. This is 48-pages that race by.

Story: Sean Lewis Art: Hayden Sherman
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick Healy makes pins, writes stories and distracts people from working. Check out more of his work here.

Review: Harbinger Renegade #3

hr_003_cover-c_paloszReunited, but once again torn from the lives they’d carefully rebuilt, the Harbinger Renegades have found themselves attacked on all sides by a vicious new enemy – a radicalized army of psiot zealots determined to bring the system down by any means necessary. Can this band of former friends become the fighters they once were, or will they succumb to the temptation of a new power that’s more vicious than anything they’ve ever faced before? With Torque and Faith in mortal jeopardy, Peter Stanchek and Kris Hathaway must put the past behind them…and embrace their chosen destiny in what lies ahead.

Of all the comics Valiant released this week, this was the one that surprised me the most.

Rafer Roberts has the unenviable task of following the man who has been guiding the Harbinger story for 50 odd issues, Joshua Dysart, and although Roberts has been subject to some criticism simply because he’s a new writer taking on the property, I’ve been enjoying what he’s been doing with Harbinger Renegade thus far. And honestly? I think this is probably the best of the three issues so far.

Apologies for the minor spoilers to follow. If you don’t want to read past this point, then all you need to know that issue is worth buying.

Alright, so this issue we finally get to see Peter Stanchek arrive back on earth with a fresh new beard and hair style (that of the Unkempt Spaceman) that almost invokes a saviour like image when we first see him actually on earth, except… you can almost see the weight of the world on his shoulders in that first panel. It’s a brilliantly subtle piece of visual story telling from Darick Robertson, but it adds a lot to the rest of the comic as events unfold.

Harbinger Renegade is a departure in tone and style from the other book Roberts was writing for Valiant, the dearly departed A&A, but it’s every bit as good as you want it to be, and then some.

Story: Rafer Roberts Art: Darick Robertson Inks: Richard Clark
Colourists: Diego Rodriguez and Brian Reber
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Spider-Gwen #16

spidergwen16coverIn Spider-Gwen #16, Miles Morales learns that there are many differences between Earth-65 and his home Earth-like sodas using real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and that  Daredevil is evil and has an army of ninjas. (Thank goodness he was in the Ultimate Universe for Shadowland, or Miles would’ve gotten some bad flashbacks.) He’s still  too young to get into clubs on most worlds in the multiverse, but this doesn’t prevent him from having a little team-up fun with Spider-Gwen in this bouncy second chapter of the “Sittin’ in a Tree” crossover where writer Jason Latour focuses on building the relationship between the two young heroes instead of skipping straight to the smooching like Brian Michael Bendis did in Spider-Man.

Miles Morales is a great fit for Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi‘s brighter, animation-meets cool indie band poster art style. The red and black adds some new hues to Renzi’s usual pink, green, and white world, and Latour writes Miles as completely out of his element the whole time. He’s freaking out about being in an alternative universe while simultaneously freaking about his dad going missing while on a mission for SHIELD. This is why he sounds like he’s hopped up on caffeine and fear, and where Gwen comes in with some much-needed empathy. They bond over their love for their dads, their superhero lives, and the weirdness of other worlds with Rodriguez’s full page spread of them hugging showing how much they’ve already bonded.

The colors and art pop even more once Spider-Gwen hits the Scorpion Club, and this leads to the spidergwen16interiorfunniest joke in the issue, which is 16-year-old Miles being left behind. He has a superhero costume, but no fake ID. The short fight scene inside the club featuring Earth 65’s Dr. Octopus is weird, yet fun and shows off Miles’ “other” powers, like venom stings and invisibility, as well as the fact that he has yet to be able to rattle off one-liners in battle like Earth 616’s Peter Parker. Renzi uses a lot of flashing yellows for the club fight scene to show characters getting their “lights knocked out”, or just how disorienting this environment is for both Gwen and Miles. And then the cliffhanger blows their minds even more.

The parts of Spider-Gwen #16 that resonated with me were when Gwen and Miles were becoming friends in an organic way. Because she keeps her secret identity from her bandmates in the Mary Janes and her dad is in jail, Gwen doesn’t really have anyone to talk to about her life as a superhero. Now, she has Miles, and they talk about how Earth-65 is like a sad pop song, and how it’s okay to be afraid even though they’re superheroes. (And is kind of visually designed that way.) Gwen is in a dark situation where the source of her superpowers is controlled by the Kingpin so it’s nice to have Miles pop up and bring some light and empathy to her comic even though his dad is in a terrible situation.

With its focus on building a connection between Miles and Gwen instead of multiverses and annoying supervillains, Spider-Gwen #16 is superior to the opening chapter of the “Sittin’ in a Tree” crossover. The final night club scene also ups the intrigue as Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to (web) sling out the cool visuals.

 Story: Jason Latour Art: Robbi Rodriguez Colors: Rico Renzi
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set – Basic Action Dice Part 2

keywordsThis February sees the newest release for WizKidsDice Masters, Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set. The first starter set has an Iron Man focus introducing new mechanics.

I’ll be reviewing a group of cards a day until the whole set is completed and then general thoughts on the whole set. But, beyond discussing the cards and how they fit into the Dice Masters game, I’ll also focus on the characters themselves and if the card reflects their comic history.

Up today is the rest of the set’s Basic Action Dice

surprise-attackSurprise Attack

Art: Gabriele Dell’Otto, Secret War #1

Card playability: For a card like this I’m not as impressed by the ability as the cost. To pay 2 energy to then be able to get 2 energy down the road is helpful, though if that’s your goal there’s some Basic Actions that only cost 1 to do that.

Generally, there’s a lot of cards that are similar and are either the same cost, or cost 1 die more and do much more.

“Shocking Grasp” which costs them same does 1 damage and if it KOs a character that die then goes to the Prep area. I like that a bit more than this, but there’s a chance of dealing 2 damage.

Overall, this card may become a bit more important once set rotation becomes the norm, but as is, there’s better options out there. This could become more valuable the more we see “Iron Will” crop up in the game.

 

upgrade-fortificationUpgrade – Fortification

Art: Greg Land, Iron Man #1 variant

Card playability: I feel like there’s something missing when it comes to this Starter Set and the cards marked “Upgrade.” I’ve looked in the rules and there doesn’t seem to be anything specific regarding this wording. My gut says “Upgrade” basic action dice are meant to stay on the table like we saw dice being equiped with the D&D sets… but that’s another discussion.

“Iron Will” is a pain in the but ability in this game. The short version is a die needs to be damaged twice to be KO’d. So, to be able to give a character die that is pretty solid. But, looks like you’ll need to make sure it’s a SHIELD character or you’ll lose some life.

I like the idea of these upgrade Basic Action cards, I just want to see them actually be like equipment we’ve previously seen.

upgrade-proton-cannonUpgrade – Proton Cannon

Art: Lan Medina, Iron Man: Rapture #4

Card playability: The card “Hulk Out” is the same ability and the same cost except that it’s until the end of the turn, but there’s no KO chance.

With that being said, that makes me think the “Upgrade” Basic Action cards are meant to stay on the board much like equipment in D&D.

If this card does stay on the table then it’s an improvement on “Hulk Out” and I might go with it over that card instead. Overcrush can be a big deal in this game, so to have a die that “permanently” gives the ability like equipping a character die that could be a pretty big deal.

I’d expect a clarification over these “Upgrade” Basic Action cards.

 

upgrade-smokescreenUpgrade – Smokescreen

Art: Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata, Iron Man 2.0 #10

Card playability: Again, a cheap Basic Action die and if this is meant to be like equipment, then I like it a lot more than if it’s just for one turn.

This is a pretty cheap way to give a character die a little bit of a boost for the attack and there’s the bonus of getting them through unblocked if they’re a level 1 MASK character die.

I like the concept, but again it’s a big deal if this die stays out there or goes away at the end of the turn. At a minimum at least you’ve got a die that has some uses and also can get you two generic energy.

 

upgrade-unibeamUpgrade – Unibeam

Art: Roberto de la Torre, Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #26

Card playability: Similar to the card above, this one gives +2A instead of the +1A for the same cost. Instead of the possibility of bein unblockable this one possibly can give “Fast.”

Quite a few of the characters in this starter set are geared towards going on the offensive, so this is a die that adds to that focus.

Again, it’s not clear if this is supposed to be like equipment or not, but we’ll see if there’s further clarification. If it does stay like that, I’m much more gung-ho about this Basic Action card. If it’s for one turn only, I’m not quite there.

 

Final Thoughts: I expect “Upgrade” Basic Action card to get clarification or to be changed down the road to be like equipment which is something that’s not quite as present in the Marvel/DC aspect of the Dice Masters game. If so, the worth for all of these will increase.

 

WizKids provided Graphic Policy with FREE product for review.

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