Tag Archives: ariana maher

DC Reveals New Details and Cover for Zatanna: The Jewel of Gravesend

There’s more to the mobsters, mystics, and mermaids at the last stop on the D/F/Q trains: Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.

Zatanna’s not your typical New Yorker. She walks her giant rabbit on a leather leash down the boardwalk, lives in a colossal architectural wonder known as the Golden Elephant, had her first kiss in the Haunted Hell Gate ride–and wouldn’t have it any other way.

But the time for having fun in Luna Park comes to an end when a mystic’s quest for a powerful jewel unravels everything Zatanna thought she knew about herself and her beloved neighborhood. Mysteries and magic surround her as she reveals the truth about her family’s legacy, and confronts the illusion that has been cast over her entire life. 

From the bewitching mind behind The Casquette Girls, Alys Arden, and with enchanting artwork by Jacquelin de Leon, comes the story of a girl stuck in the middle of a magical rivalry and forced to choose between love, family, and magic without hurting anyone…or worse.

Zatanna: The Jewel of Gravesend by Arden, De Leon, with lettering by Ariana Maher is out from DC Comics on April 13, 2021.

Zatanna: The Jewel of Gravesend

Review: Maestro #2

Maestro #2

Maestro #2 is an interesting second issue. It’s quite literally a cross-country journey as the Hulk explores what’s left of the United States and ponders the destruction at humanity’s hands. As a stand-alone issue, it’s an interesting read though not all that exciting. As part of the greater story, it’s much more and nice entry into the bigger picture.

Writer Peter David delivers a Hulk who recognizes the destruction before him and feels sad about it. This isn’t the raging Hulk who seeks death himself or rages against those that won’t let him find peace. This is one that’s more philosophical in nature and reflecting on his life and what’s before him.

In what both works and doesn’t, David uses Hulk’s travels to allow us to see more of what’s left. We’re shown the various survivors and what has sprung up, each different from the last. A few bring hope while others bring future conflict. What’s nice is we get a better lay of the land. But, each segment is just that, a quick segment. There’s little exploration of each settlement which hurts the story. It feels choppy and a bit short in depth and worldbuilding. Its’ been years since I read the original Future Imperfect so there’s probably more there but as is, nothing is explored enough.

Maestro #2 reads more like a guidebook to a world as opposed to a full fledge story. Not enough time is spent with each interesting group. And without that, it’s hard to care what happens. There’s a disconnect between the comic’s presentation and making you invested in what might happen to them. It’s a bit cold in some ways. Where moments could deliver hope, they feel a bit disconnected and a bit mechanical. It’s more roleplaying sourcebook without the in-depth information than story.

Some of the issues with the story is the art by Germán Peralta. While none of it is bad, there’s also a lack of detail at the time to add to the story. A discussion about wanting to add nutrients to a soil could have done with more details of the crops telling the story of the struggle of farming. An animal dead in the woods due to radiation isn’t mutated or emaciated enough to really impact. The motions are there without the detail, like the plot itself.

The issue also kicks off the first part of “Relics,” a back-up story with art by Dale Keown and color by Jason Keith. This is a bit more interesting. In just a few pages more is told about the world and also delivers some emotional heft. The short story is itself a quick rollercoaster ride full of hope and then crashing down showing how much society has not evolved after almost destroying itself. It’s the highlight of the issue and the only reason I’m not suggesting to skip it.

Maestro #2 isn’t a bad issue but it also feels like it doesn’t do the world and Hulk’s journey justice. It’s quick hits to give us a tour of “the players” in a single issue. While that can work as part of the bigger picture, it also doesn’t deliver enough interesting aspects or depths to really excite. As a collection though, it’d be fine as you can quickly move on to the next chapter. Sadly, for all of the excitement the first issue delivered, the second lacks the same punch.

Story: Peter David Art: Germán Peralta, Dale Keown
Color: Jason Keith Letterer: Ariana Maher
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Gets a Third Volume

Jump back into the fray with series III of Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins, from the New York Times bestselling team of Matthew MercerJody Houser, Olivia Samson, MSASSYK, and Ariana Maher!

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Series III picks up with Vox Machina enjoying some R&R in Westruun’s lap of luxury. But that costs coin, which has a bad habit of running out. So to keep themselves in the black they agree to join an underground fighting ring. But before they can bash their way to cash, their attention is snagged by the case of a missing child.

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Series III #1 (of six) will be in comic shops on December 9, 2020.

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Series III #1 (of six)

Review: Maestro #1

Maestro #1

I remember many years ago when Maestro debuted and getting those issues. It was an interesting take on the Hulk. At the time he was a character I didn’t really care for. The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect gave us a “possible future” story when those felt rare and special. All these years later we get Maestro #1, the origin of the brutal future version of the Hulk. When it was announced I immediately wondered if this was a story we really needed. After reading the first issue, I want more. There’s so much there and I and fully expect spin-offs in the “Old Man” sort of way.

Created by ‎Peter David‎ and ‎George Pérez and debuting in 1992, Maestro was a future version of the Hulk coming from a world where the heroes have been wiped out. It’s been almost 30 years so the original story is a fading memory but the debut was huge as this was a brutal version of the Hulk unlike anything seen at that time. Mixed with the popular trope of “alternative futures” the character was a hit. Over the years, the Hulk and Bruce Banner have evolved as characters adding depth to a level that didn’t exist back in the early 90s.

David returns to write one of the characters and runs he’s known for with Maestro #1. He delivers an emotional opening of shock and loss. While it falls into a bit of a trope-ish space and the plot is one we’ve seen before, the result when layered on to the Hulk works and works really well.

It’s hard to really dive into the first issue and why it works without really spoiling it. It’s a rabbit hole of a story that gets more and more intriguing as the layers are lifted and we learn more of what is happening and what happened. Where the issue gets interesting is in the current run of the Hulk and his outlook on life and death. He’s currently a destroyer of worlds and that evolution to the Maestro and where that begins gets complicated with that. But, at its heart, the story is about loss and family and where a person goes when they lose everything. We’re left with the question as to how the Maestro is born but we get to see the first steps.

The issue has some layers in a Matrix-like way. Dale Keown handles the art in the opening with Jason Keith on color. Germán Peralta handles the art from there with Jesus Aburtov on color. The transition from one artist to the other works and works really well. It’s used in a way as the story shifts and the two styles are close enough it’s not jarring going from one to the other. While a lot of the history is explained, there’s still a lot left for readers to pick up on visually. The characters, the background, everything tells a bit of the mystery. It fantastic to see Keown back on the Hulk and the art pops taking us into the opening spiral.

Maestro #1 is a comic where I cringed at first. I didn’t think it was a story we needed to know, the mystery worked. But, after reading the issue, it’s a solid opening that has a lot of potential as to where it takes us and goes. While much of it is familiar it’s a perfect start and base to see the further evolution of the Hulk as a character.

Story: Peter David Art: Germán Peralta, Dale Keown
Color: Jesus Aburtov, Jason Keith Letterer: Ariana Maher
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Empyre: Captain America #2

Empyre: Captain America #2
Empyre: Captain America #2

Phillip Kennedy Johnson gave his Captain America Empyre tie-in one of the toughest parts of any global conflict to deal with: American military policy. Ol’ Cap had his hands full in issue one trying to convince high ranking officers of providing support to the other countries of the world also fighting the Cotati. America refused, even when told they could inspire international allyship. Empyre: Captain America #2 is an exploration of that decision’s consequences.

Illustrated by Ariel Olivetti, Empyre: Captain America #2 continues to keep the bar high as a tie-in comic. It’s a great example of what these types of comics should be: short incursions into the event that can result in some fun worldbuilding mechanics. To use a music metaphor, good tie-in books can be rip-roaring guitar solos to the hit song that is the event. Johnson and Olivetti’s Empyre book is precisely that.

What makes this comic an essential read within the larger event is that its discussion on the politics of war on Earth feel epic and high stakes. Should Captain America fail at bringing together the international community to fight the Cotati as a singular force, Earth will have its hands full with an enemy that will never fall to the efforts of an individual country.

Captain America makes this point throughout. He speaks to soldiers and world leaders on the dangers of putting too much weight on heroics and not enough on the soldiers and people that are involved in every aspect of war. In one particular instance, Captain America tells a story about a Nazi ambush during World War II that incapacitated him and forced his fellow brothers in arms to take lead and salvage what they could out of the situation. Half of those soldiers died so that Captain America could live.

Empyre: Captain America #2

These types of stories help explain the comic’s focus on military action and how it can be used for good. It also falls in line with Empyre’s main story, where we see the idea of heroism clashing with the idea of practicality. Should heroes put their lives on the line when a less dangerous approach exists? What does this say about war? What should we be asking of soldiers when faced with the extreme realities of combat?

Olivetti’s art does an amazing job of showing the Cotati as a lethal invading force that is undoubtedly alien but also eerily similar to Earth’s vegetation. If the story were about our own vegetation rising up and trying to eradicate humanity, it would still work. The Cotati can infect humans with living seeds that turn them into Cotati themselves. For these sequences, Olivetti takes a very gruesome body horror approach that adds to the lethality of the invaders.

Empyre: Captain America #2 is an impressive exploration of the Cotati invasion and its forays into military policy basically hold up a mirror to America’s Army and how it could be doing more than it usually does.

Story: Phillip Kennedy Johnson Art: Ariel Olivetti
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg Letterer: Ariana Maher
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0
Recommendation: It’s Captain America. Why wouldn’t you buy it?

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Gets a Library Edition from Dark Horse

Experience the stories of the adventuring party known as Vox Machina before the smash-hit show Critical Role started! Writers Matt Mercer, Matthew Colville, and Jody Houser, along with artist Olivia Samson, colorists Chris Northrop and MSASSYK, and letterer Ariana Maher bring to life Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Library Edition – Series I and II Collection.

 What do a flirtatious bard, a clueless barbarian, a naïve druid, a pair of stealthy twins, a holy cleric, and a vengeful gunslinger all have in common? They’re not sure either, but one day they’ll become the heroes known as Vox Machina! Follow the main characters from the smash-hit series Critical Role as they team up for the first time, facing cults and curses in the revelation of their origins and the path that will lead them to glory…eventually.

Fans of the celebrated series Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins won’t want to miss this stunning, oversized hardcover collection!

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Library Edition – Series I and II Collection collects Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Vol 1 and Vol 2. It will be in comic shops on November 11, 2020 and in bookstores on November 24, 2020. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local comic shop. This 320-page oversized library edition will retail for $39.99.

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Library Edition - Series I and II Collection

DC Reveals a First Look at L. L. McKinney’s Nubia: Real One

Nubia: Real One

Written by L. L. McKinney
Illustrated by Robyn Smith
Colored by Brie Henderson
Cover Colors by Bex Glendining
Lettered by Ariana Maher
On sale February 2, 2021
MSRP $16.99

Can you be a hero…if society doesn’t see you as a person?

Nubia has always been a little bit…different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor’s cat. But, despite Nubia’s similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she’s no Wonder Woman. And even if she was, they wouldn’t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she’s reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can’t deny the fire within her, even if she’s a little awkward about it sometimes. Even if it means people assume the worst.

When Nubia’s best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all––her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class––to become the hero society tells her she isn’t.

From the witty and powerful voice behind A Blade So Black, L. L. McKinney, and with endearing and expressive art by Robyn Smith, comes a vital story for today about equality, identity, and kicking it with your squad.

Nubia: Real One

Review: Going to the Chapel TPB

Going to the Chapel TPB

Going to the Chapel is the type of comic that when you finish, you immediately dream of it being on the big screen. It’s the type of story that’s a hell of a wild ride. Writer David Pepose delivers a story that’s Tarantino in nature with twists and turns that are off the wall on a Looney Tunes sort of way.

Going to the Chapel focuses on a wedding that’s broken up by a robbery that goes wrong. Of course, there’s more to it than that and that’s part of the fun. Over the four issues, the situation gets more out of hand as the police surround the church and the guests decide they’ve had enough. A wedding gone wrong is an understatement as to the experience.

Pepose delivers winks and nods throughout the series making sure the story never gets too serious. With some solid banter and jokes throughout, the comic will put a smile on your face. There’s absurdity throughout and so much coming out of the blue. It catches you off guard and hits the right notes. It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Gavin Guidry nails it on the art. With colors by Liz Kramer and lettering by Ariana Maher and Colin Bell the art ups the humor of the situation. The style and art nail the moments and adds to the absurdity. Looks on faces and the body language is at times is all it takes. The situation and the visuals combine to get you to laugh. It’s the small details that really help and deliver the jokes. Pepose’s writing is solid but the art is what makes the pacing of some of the dialogue delivery. Everything is just so over the top it’s hard to not have fun and just smile at the chaos.

Going to the Chapel is a mashup between Kevin Smith and Tarantino and the result is so much entertainment. I often joke that it seems like very comic is now optioned and in this case, I want this story to be. It’s a great comic and would be a fantastic fun film. If you like the heist gone wrong genre, this is a must get. If you just like a damn good comic, you can’t go wrong with this.

Story: David Pepose Art: Gavin Guidry
Color: Liz Kramer Letterer: Ariana Maher, Colin Bell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Action Lab provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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