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Critical Role’s Nott the Brave’s Origins Revealed!

The Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins line from Dark Horse Comics and Critical Role continues to grow with Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins – Nott the Brave. Writer Sam Maggs is joined by Critical Role Game Master Matthew Mercer and cast member Sam Riegel, with art by William Kirkby, colors by Mildred Louis, and letters by Critical Role comics alum Ariana Maher for a heartbreaking tale about a halfling’s end and a goblin’s beginning.

Veth Brenatto doesn’t have an exciting life, but she likes it that way. Unlike her childhood, it’s safe. Predictable. And her husband and son love her as fiercely as she loves them. But Veth’s cozy existence is turned on its head when she and her family are captured by raiders. In order to save them, Veth will commit an atrocity that will sever her from all that she loves––maybe forever––and lead her to become Nott the Brave of the Mighty Nein.  

Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins – Nott the Brave graphic novel will be available everywhere books are sold April 6, 2022.

Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins – Nott the Brave

Review: Crush and Lobo #3

“I’m gonna kill you. If you don’t beat me to it.“- “Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers

Crush and Lobo #3 is the middle chapter of a relationship drama writ cartoonishly and cosmically large from Mariko Tamaki, Amancay Nahuelpan, and Tamra Bonvillain. In this issue, Crush arrives at a space prison and meets with Lobo aka Inmate 2981 for Parents’ Day swapping stories with a preying mantis alien, who has witnessed many acts of head eating. Their encounter starts okay, but like most things featuring the Main Man, it goes off the rail quickly. After two issues of mainly Crush (Who is an icon by the way.), we get to be spend more time with Lobo in Crush and Lobo #3, and Tamaki and Nahuelpan toy around with reader expectations by having him extol the virtues of therapy. (It’s mandatory, or you get lobotomized.)

Although Crush and Lobo #3 has the sarcastic asides and action-filled mayhem that Mariko Tamaki and Amancay Nahuelpan excel at, this issue begins a little slower and digs into the annoyance of a parent, who says they’ll improve your relationship, but keeps backsliding. Lobo wants to rebuild his relationship with Crush and even invites her to see a robot therapist at his prison to “break the cycle”, but, of course, he has ulterior motives. As evidenced in her mainstream comics work (See this week’s I Am Not Starfire for an extremely recent example.), Tamaki isn’t afraid to play around with the traditional versions of characters. But Lobo is very allergic to change: his existence basically predicates being a loud, brash chaotic son of a bitch. Mariko Tamaki walks a thin line between deconstructing Lobo and playing him utterly straight milking a lot of comedy out of his active listening to the aforementioned mantis alien. Nahuelpan’s art is almost deadpan, and Bonvillain has a palette suitable for a low lit space prison with little pops of color for the orange jumpsuits and aliens. It’s all to lure readers into a false sense of security, but the series is halfway through and is screaming for a big Lobo moment.

However, as befitting her top billing in the title, Crush, not Lobo, gets the big action sequence in Crush and Lobo #3 as Amancay Nahuelpan gets to cut loose after pages of talking heads. (He draws some fun background squabbles during Crush and Lobo’s heart to heart.) He slices and dices the page, and Tamra Bonvillain adds blues and blacks as Crush springs into combat against the prison guards, who are attacking her no apparent reason and also calling her “little girl”. This is something that Crush hates being called, and she goes berserk. I love this little moment because it gives Crush a strong motivation for her actions instead of “Oh, it’s been a few pages, let’s have a fight scene.”. Tamaki and Nahuelpan continue to portray her as utterly competent and utterly screwed as she is swarmed by more and more security guards and only figures out what the audience knows until too late. If the first issue’s breakup with Katie was rock bottom, Crush and Lobo #3 ends in a more precarious situation. Lobo is walking tall and practically begging to be drawn by Simon Bisley as he walks away from a drama-filled situation chewing on a grenade pin.

Because the focus is more on Crush and Lobo’s relationship, this issue only features one Katie flashback, and it’s when Crush missed meeting her parents. The scene is a little over a page, and Amancay Nahuelpan draws Katie and her parents in a more photorealistic style to show the difference between her normal life and Crush’s superhero/antihero shenanigans. It also shows that Crush is more comfortable doing something that she is good at (i.e. kicking ass) than having an emotionally vulnerable conversation, which is a thread that flows through Crush and Lobo #3. Until overwhelmed by sheer numbers, Crush holds her own against her opponents. You can’t say the same about her angst-filled chat with a Lobo, who is talking more like Bojack Horseman than the Main Man thanks his group therapy sessions.

Crush and Lobo #3 finally gets the two leads of the series in the same room together, and Mariko Tamaki and Amancay Nahuelpan give the two Czarnians wonderful chemistry before blowing it all to hell. The space prison is a fun setting, and this issue has plenty of humor and fisticuffs to go with the attempts at heart-to-hearts

Story: Mariko Tamaki Art: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain Letters: Ariana Maher
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Aliens: Aftermath #1

Aliens: Aftermath

Return to Hadley’s Hope in this special one-shot comic that celebrates 35 years since that deadly event. A group of journalists/revolutionaries discover the hidden moon and head there find out the truth as to what happened to the colony. All records have been wiped out by Weyland-Yutani but things have a way of evolving and becoming deadlier when they’re buried. Aliens: Aftermath adds to the classic science fiction story setting Marvel‘s Alien line of comics up for a wild ride to come.

One of the great successes of Marvel’s Star Wars line of comics is that they’ve been additive to the universe and what has come before. They’ve filled in gaps between stories adding greater depth to characters and fleshed out the world with great characters. So far, Marvel’s Alien comics have taken a similar route delivering a series that is the fine tradition of what has come before and built off of what works best. Aliens: Aftermath, written by Benjamin Percy, does much of the same building off of Aliens to take us back to the doomed colony.

We know generally what happened to Hadley’s Hope at the end of Aliens as Ripley barely escaped with her life. 35 years have passed since that film’s release as well as the events within this comic. Taking place in 2214 a group has been on a mission to screw with the corrupt Weyland-Yutani and find out what happened. Here, they discover that and set things on a path for the chaos to come. The story features generally throwaway characters but it does a good job of tying them into Aliens without it being forced. It also diversifies some of the characters within the Alien world, taking it beyond the usual grunts/military and other victims of Weyland-Yutani. It’s a nice coda to Hadley’s Hope story with some interesting twists that feel like a good piece of the puzzle.

Dave Wachter‘s art is pretty solid capturing the tension of the situation. There’s some good action and the character interactions are good. Christopher Sotomayor‘s colors add a dark but not drab look to it all. The two capture the feel of the world. Arianna Maher‘s lettering adds to the atmosphere playing off the rough communication between teams and members.

Aliens: Aftermath is a good addition to the mythos setting up what’s to come. As a one-shot, the comic feels a bit rushed and packed in and might have benefitted from a second issue to expand upon the characters, their mission, and tension. The issue has some aspects that just aren’t explained enough but are intriguing enough that I want to see what happens next. This is one to read if you’re invested in Marvel’s line of comics but doesn’t quite stand on its own.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Dave Wachter
Color: Christopher Sotomayor Letterer: Ariana Maher
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

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Review: The Joker #5

The Joker #5

The Joker so far has been a very enjoyable and quite surprising comic series. When first announced, I was a bit turned off about a series that would put in the spotlight an “edgelord”, making the Joker “fun” instead of the unrepentant vile force of nature he is. Instead, we got a story about a man full of regrets and unaccomplished goals. The series isn’t about the Joker, it’s about James Gordon and his unfulfilled mission to stop the Joker once and for all. The Joker #5 takes us into the past exploring the dance between these two and their earliest of years.

Matthew Rosenberg and James Tynion IV team up for an interesting “year one” type story. It gives us some of the earliest years of the two’s dance. Arkham Asylum wasn’t yet the facility it is now and Gotham’s crime bosses’ still ruled. What we’re presented is the beginning of a man’s obsession and the Joker’s torment. There’s a Moby Dick aspect to it all and it delivers even more depth to not just Gordon but the Joker.

What’s interesting is that Rosenberg and Tynion show how forward-thinking Gordon is. While others are focused on the likes of Falcone, Gordon sees the new threat that Joker represents. We also see how his obsession splits his focus and ability to be effective. While the Joker has killed, Gordon’s obsession with the Joker has as well.

Francesco Francavilla steps in on art and color and his style is as fantastic as expected. With lettering by Tom Napolitano, the issue has both a horror and noir style about it. It’s fantastic to look at and even simple scenes like sitting in a chair deliver tension and fear. The art nails the mood and feel of the issue perfectly.

The issue also continues Punchline’s story both in prison and outside. We see how the character is still sowing chaos. Writers Sam Johns and James Tynion IV deliver a chapter that feels a bit like a bridge to the next arc for the character after the initial setup. Sweeney Boo‘s art pops as expected with a great style and beautiful neon colors. Ariana Maher‘s lettering emphasizes the interesting back and forth between characters.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg, James Tynion IV, Sam Johns Art: Francesco Francavilla, Sweeney Boo
Color: Francesco Francavilla Letterer: Tom Napolitano, Ariana Maher
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.65 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: TKO Shorts: Dame From the Dark

A detective and spirit have to return a runaway to their family.

Story: Rob Pilkington
Art: Kit Mills
Letterer: Ariana Maher

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.

TKO Studios

TKO Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Legendary Comics Debuts the Cover for New YA Graphic Novel Lupina

Lupina is a two-volume captivating saga about a young girl on a journey of revenge with her wolf companion. In the coastal town of Kote, recently brought under the yoke of the Addalian Empire, four-year-old Lupa spends her days getting bullied by her older sister and hiding behind her mother’s skirts. But when tragedy strikes, Lupa finds herself alone in a new world… alone until she’s found by the she-wolf, Coras, and sets off on a journey of discovery… and revenge. The first volume of the two-piece collection will be available in bookstores and online retailers on September 14, 2021. Both volumes contain three phases, continuing the adventure of Lupa and Coras.

Lupina is from writer James F. Wright, art by Li Buszka, color by Bex Glendining, and lettering by Ariana Maher. The graphic novel is available for pre-order.

Get a Look at Crush & Lobo #1 Including New Covers by Khary Randolph, Sweeney Boo, and more!

Crush & Lobo by Mariko Tamaki, Amancay Nahuelpan, Tamra Bonvillain, and Ariana Maher, spinning out of the pages of Teen Titans Academy, will debut on June 1 with a cover by Kris Anka, a Pride variant cover by Yoshi Yoshitani, a 1:25 ratio variant by Christian Ward, plus an exclusive Dan Hipp team variant for participating retailers. In this new eight-issue miniseries publishing between June 2021 and January 2022, Crush, daughter of the Czarnian bounty hunter Lobo, is in full-on self-destruct mode!

Like father, like daughter?

Scroll down for a first look into Crush & Lobo#1, covers by Dan Mora, Amanda Conner, Bernard Chang, Khary Randolph, Sweeney Boo, and more!

And in case anyone was wondering, Crush is doing just fine, actually. Sure, she recently walked away from her classmates at the Roy Harper Titans Academy and effectively quit being a Teen Titan in a blaze of glory. And okay, her relationship with her too-good-to-be-true girlfriend Katie is kind of on the rocks, if you want to get all technical about it. Oh, and she recently found out Lobo’s in space jail, but that’s cool, because he’s the worst. OKAY, maybe Crush has some STUFF, but that doesn’t mean she’s gonna DO anything about it, like actually go to space and confront her dad and all her problems, because everything is FINE…Right?

And in issue #2 of this new miniseries, if there’s anything Crush knows, it’s that traveling through space is a great time to load up on coffee, catch up on murder podcasts, and definitely not get sucked into a spiral of depression while reflecting on your meet-cute with the ex-girlfriend who just dumped you. When Crush’s trusty travel mug runs dry, a pit stop for caffeine puts Lobo’s daughter face to face with an old enemy whose vicious revenge could put an end to her journey — when it’s only just barely begun! Tick tock, Crush…your father’s waiting.

Add Crush & Lobo to your pull list to see Lobo’s best daughter come face to face with the DC Multiverse’s worst dad! And is ex-girlfriend Katie completely out of the picture for Crush?? Dramaaaaa! All this and more are coming for Crush between June 2021 and January 2022!!

Review: The Joker #2

The Joker #2

The Joker #2 continues the surprisingly strong debut of the series. When announced, the thought of a series focused on the Joker created a cringe reaction. Expectations of a comic was one for the edge-lord crowd. Instead, the comic focused on a worn-out force of good who’s tempted to do one last positive thing before he can truly retire. The Joker #2 continues its focus on James Gordon while also throwing in a few more factors.

James Tynion IV delivers a comic that’s more Nazi-hunter than the spandex and tights stories of Batman’s world. There’s a grounded aspect to the series that keeps the story focused and the fantastical at the minimum. At its core The Joker #2 is a man struggling to decide what to do. Should he do what probably needs to be done, kill the Joker or does he still believe in the concept of the judicial system? There’s a debate within Gordon and not just in his words but the agony on his face do we understand what he’s struggling with.

But, the issue drops so much more.

Tynion taps a little Guy Ritchie and Joe Carnahan and injects numerous other factors into Gordon’s mission. We get glimpses of the other groups and individuals who have the same mission. They all want to kill the Joker. This includes criminal organizations, enhanced individuals, and so much more. The pieces on the board are varied and should make for some entertaining and action-packed moments. It takes some of the grim nature of the comic and adds a little levity through action.

There’s also a revelation within that changes Gordon’s relationship and history with Batman and his allies. It’s something that’ll have individuals going back to re-read key moments in their interactions and what he knows. It adds a layer of trust, respect, and honor to what Gordon is doing and what he did as Police Commissioner. It also could be easily spun that it taints his relationship in some ways as well. Depends how you read into the revelation.

The art by Guillem March continues to be fantastic. With color by Arif Prianto and lettering by Tom Napolitano, the art has a style that evokes the grittier Batman comics of the 1980s. There’s also some additions to the story that creates a less dour feel to the issue. With the various groups also with a similar mission as Gordon, we get the “goofier” aspects of the story. It’s more of the costumed shenanigans that Batman deals with and while it can be action-packed it’s not so much a man trying to close that final chapter in his life and wrong his mistakes. The Joker’s scene too adds a bit of brightness and comedy that’s the trademark of the Joker. The pages are literally brighter in color an interesting contrast to what Joker is experiencing compared to others.

The comic also continues its back-up Punchline story. Tynion is joined by Sam Johns on art. Mirka Andolfo handles the art with Romulo Fajardo, Jr. on color and lettering by Ariana Maher. Punchline as a whole has become a much more interesting character after “Joker War”. This story, along with her one-shot, added a lot to a character who started as a much more serious riff on Harley Quinn. We get an interesting debate on how much of her persona is real and how much is clout chasing and her influence on others. There’s some really interesting aspects to the character to explore and doing so in ways to show how others perceive her is a solid choice.

The Joker #2 is another fantastic issue. The series has begun to balance its serious tones with the lighter aspects of Batman’s world. It also sets up what should be an action-packed series going forward as the various competing groups eventually clash. It continues to surprise me forgoing the expectations I had of it and instead delivering a series that doesn’t celebrate the chaos of the Joker and instead examines the lingering damage that endures.

Story: James Tynion IV, Sam Johns Art: Guillem March, Mirka Andolfo
Color: Arif Prianto, Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Letterer: Tom Napolitano, Ariana Maher
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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The Secret Origins of Critical Role’s Yasha Nydoorin

The partnership between Dark Horse Comics and Critical Role continues to expand with the latest title from the previously announced Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins line: Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins – Yasha Nydoorin. The New York Times bestselling author Cecil Castellucci is joined by artist William Kirkby, colorist Diana Sousa, and Critical Role letterer alum Ariana Maher, working with Game Master Matthew Mercer and cast member Ashley Johnson to shed some light on the tumultuous past of the Mighty Nein’s Yasha Nydoorin.

For Yasha, there has always been a storm on the horizon. 

Maybe it formed with her adoption by the Dolorov people in the harsh lands of Xhorhas. Or perhaps when she fell for her first love, Zuala. Or still later, when grief and madness drove her from her village and out into––somewhere else. Maybe, on the other hand, Yasha IS the storm.  

Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins – Yasha Nydoorin graphic novel will be available everywhere books are sold September 15, 2021.

Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins – Yasha Nydoorin

Review: The Joker #1

The Joker #1

When I first heard DC was releasing a comic focused on the Joker, I rolled my eyes. The concept of a comic with the Joker at the center didn’t appeal to me, as certain iterations of him have attracted a negative edge-lord element. Then I read The Joker #1, and quickly changed my mind. What’s presented is an updated “chase” story with some zeitgeist thrown in.

The “Joker War” is over and the Joker is on the run having left Gotham. Months later, an attack has taken place on Arkham Asylum pinned to him, though not proven it was him. Unknown elements have decided they want the Joker off the playing board and decide to turn to Jim Gordon to do exactly that.

While Joker’s name might be the title of the comic, writer James Tynion IV focuses the comic on a former cop whose nightmare still walks the Earth and haunts his dreams. This is a story about a man’s unfulfilled mission and one last opportunity to change that. While we get an update on the Joker, this is Gordon’s story so far.

And Tynion gives us an interesting flair to it. The comic feels more like Nazi hunters than a detective story. This isn’t so much INTERPOL as it is Wiesenthal. The fact Gordon is focused on taking out such an evil contributes to that, it’s rare that a character is so definitively evil. Gordon feels like the grizzled, tortured individual, who needs to put an end note to what has haunted him, and remove an evil force from society.

The art by Guillem March is solid. Guillem is joined by Arif Prianto on color and Tom Napolitano on lettering. There’s a worn vibe about the comic. Gordon feels like a tortured and weathered individual beat down to a low point and not sure what to do next. There’s a great use of visuals to dive in what haunts Gordon and where Gotham stands in the wake of the latest chaos. An opening sequence involving another officer really hammers home the drive that Gordon is experiencing toeing the line of crossing into shock value.

The Joker #1 also features a secondary story “Punchline” following up on Joker’s latest sidekick’s trial. Tynion is joined by Sam Johns on the story while Mirka Andolfo handles the art, Romulo Fajardo, Jr. is on color, and Ariana Maher handles the lettering. Much like the one-shot featuring Punchline, this chapter has a feel like it’s an examination of our current world. Punchline is the center of the alt-cult she and Joker have spawned. This is a group that rejects reality and social norms, instead bracing chaos as a finger towards others. It’s hard to not think of the MAGA-cult and alt-right when reading this and the comparing the protests to free Punchline as similar pronunciations of innocence for real-world leaders who are clearly guilty though the evidence may be flimsy. How much this story will continue to make that sort of connection will be interesting as it could be a hell of an allegory.

The Joker #1 surprised me. It’s a comic I thought could be good but wasn’t sure what we were getting. With a focus on those hunting the villain, we get a story of one last attempt at justice as opposed to something that might deify or wash a reprehensible individual. It’s a debut that shows a hell of a lot of potential for what’s to come. Hopefully it keeps its focus on the nightmares that haunt us throughout life.

Story: James Tynion IV, Sam Johns Art: Guillem March, Mirka Andolfo
Color: Arif Prianto, Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Letterer: Tom Napolitano, Ariana Maher
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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