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Review: The Immortal Hulk Vol. 5 Breaker of Worlds

The Hulk’s battle with Shadow Base comes to a brutal end. Gamma Flight, the Hulk, and General Fortean’s forces collide in this volume of The Immortal Hulk!

The Immortal Hulk Vol. 5 includes issues #21-25.

Story: Al Ewing
Art: Joe Bennett, Ryan Bodenheim, Germán García
Ink: Ryan Bodenheim, Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, Marc Deering, Roberto Poggi, Germán García
Color: Paul Mounts, Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Cory Petit

Get your copy in comic shops now and in book stores on December 3! 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
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel 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

The Infected: King Shazam! #1 Gets a First Look

The Infected: King Shazam! #1

Written by Sina Grace
Art by Joe Bennett
Inks by Belardino Brabo and Matt Santorelli
Colors by Hi-Fi
Cover art by David Marquez
In Shops: Nov 06, 2019
Final Orders Due: Oct 14, 2019
SRP: $3.99

Billy Batson is a good kid. Well… he was. Following the events of Batman/Superman and “Year of the Villain,” Shazam is now one of the Infected! One of DC’s greatest heroes has seen his soul turned black by the Batman Who Laughs—and Shazam’s on a journey to punch a bunch of so-called “gods” in the face and show the establishment exactly what the future looks like. The Infected: King Shazam, from writer Sina Grace (Iceman, Go Go Power Rangers) and artist Joe Bennett (Immortal Hulk), is the first spotlight one-shot focusing on the heroes infected by the Batman Who Laughs, leading the way to the December-debuting Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen!

The Infected: King Shazam! #1

Review: X-Men: Black – Magneto #1

MAGNETO IS BACK!
…and so is Chris Claremont! For years, Magneto has done everything he can to achieve his goals for mutant domination. But now Magneto has declared that enough is enough. So what revolutionary plan does Magneto have that will change the face of mutantkind? And will anyone be able to stop him? Will anyone want to?

The villains of the X-Men are getting the spotlight in a series of one-shots whose purpose, not quite sure of that After reading X-Men: Black – Magneto, I’m still not sure.

Magneto has been a character for me whose history is complicated in every sense and that extends to his vision of his role for the world. The character’s youth and experiences during World War II are vital to appreciate him and has been used in interesting ways to help build sympathy and take a simple villain and make him something a bit more.

Writer Chris Claremont takes us to the basics of the character throwing in the current real world xenophobia and abuses by the Trump administration. Claremont reminds us that even when it comes to the villains, the X-Men are perfect vessels to explore our real world and its politics. In this case Magneto is forced to take action when the United States government places mutant children in detention camps. We’re reminded of the dark times throughout history, including multiple in the US, this has happened and left to wonder if we’ll ever learn.

There’s also a debate as to how to fight. Should these mutants flee to sanctuary, or should they use their power to prevent further abuses? It’s an interesting moment and one that hopefully is explored more in X-Men comics.

And that left me wondering, what’s the point of it all? The story is good and gives Magneto even more of a focus, bringing him back to the villain who has some valid points. But, with a muddled time frame it’s hard to place when this happens and thus what its impact, if any, will be. It’s a one-shot but is it anything vital?

Things aren’t helped by the art of Dalibor Talajic which includes inks by Roberto Poggi and Belardino Brabo, colors by Dono Sánchez-Almara, and lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The art is pretty sub-par in every way to the point that outside of his costume it’s difficult to even recognize Magneto/Erik. Even when presented with dynamic scenes, the art fails to deliver never giving us that visual “holy crap” moment we’d expect and have seen elsewhere.

The issue also has a back-up story written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, with art by Geraldo Borges, color by Rachelle Rosenberg, and lettering by VC’s Cory Petit. Following Apocalypse I again have to ask “why?”. The first part of a story that’ll run through all of the X-Men: Black releases, it’s neither good or bad and feels like a bit of a throwback in look. We learn more about Apocalypse and his powers placing him into a situation that may be difficult for him to deal with. But, is it necessary? Do we want to see vulnerable villains? The art too like the main story never quite clicks with design that seems to lack the style we’d expect from a high profile comic today. It looks like something out of the 90s, and even then a secondary miniseries from the main event.

The whole release is a bit of a head scratcher never quite making the case as to why it exists. There’s nothing terrible about it but it’s also not a comic that’s a must read either. It features two characters who have polar opposite views of the world in some ways and their dynamics are never explored. Magneto has one of the most interesting histories of any comic villain and while it’s touched upon the depth is barely mined giving us just an inch deep surface exploration. Potential is never reached.

Maybe when this is over the need for these comics will be apparent, but as is, it feels like a one-shot that didn’t need to happen.

Story: Chris Claremont, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler
Art: Dalibor Talajic, Geraldo Borges Cover Art: J. Scott Campbell
Ink: Roberto Poggi, Belardino Brabo
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg, Dono Sánchez-Almara
Lettering: Cory Petit, Joe Caramagna

Story: 6.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the return of Jean Grey!

Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey collects issues #1-5 by Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Joe Bennett, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Ramon Rosanas, Belardino Brabo, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Travis Lanham, Sunny Gho, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Marte Gracia, Nolan Woodard, Christina Harrington, Chris Robinson, Darren Shan, and Mark Paniccia.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores May 1. 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/Kindle/comiXology or TFW or TFW

 

 

Marvel​ provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #4

NJKVS_004_COVER-A_LEVELHis allies have turned against him. His last options have been exhausted. And there is nowhere left to run. Now, Ninjak – the rogue super-spy turned against his former masters by the cunning assassin called Roku – must face the final revelation of his no-holds-barred showdown with the heroes of the Valiant Universe. Bloodied but unbowed, Colin King’s gauntlet ends here…and Valiant’s first-of-its-kind crossover between live action and the comic book page is about to come to an explosive finale that will leave you stunned!

Alright so I’m not to try to sugar coat anything, but in an effort to refrain from an angry rant, I’ve used bullet points to gather my thoughts about Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #4.

  • This four issue miniseries is set in a separate universe from the rest of Valiant’s comics. If you read this prior to anything else, expect to be a little confused when things aren’t the same (but happy that the writing is better).
  • If you consider a “first-of-its-kind” crossover to be an adaptation of live action and comics, you’re behind a couple decades. This may be the first crossover from webseries to comics, however. Maybe  that’s what they mean.
  • Expecting the typical quality that you would ordinarily get from a direct tie-in comic (and not an adaptation like, say, the Bloodborne comics are adapted from the videogames) will leave little room for dissapointment.
  • Eliot Rahal is a much better comic book writer than he’s showing here, because at the end of the day he’s only got so much to work with. You can only polish a turd so much, really, and even then it’s still a turd.
  • The art by Joe BennettBelardino Brabo and Ulises Arreola remain the only saving grace for an issue that caps off perhaps the worst thing Valiant have published in the last three years.
  • If you want a better story starring all the Valiant characters read The Valiant. If you want a better Ninjak story look up Ninja-K or Bloodshot Salvation to get a small dash of Ninjak with Bloodshot.

I am oddly relieved this series is over, because it wasn’t really all that good (if you enjoyed it then fair play to you. I’m not saying you’re wrong, only that we hav different opinions). I tried to find the good in it (the art, mostly), but the pervading sense I got from the entire series was that it was a poor adaptation of another story. This doesn’t read like the kind of comic Valiant, or Eliot Rahal are capable of putting out, nor like the story was ever written for comics. It’s shoehorned into the four colour medium and it doesn’t work. Hopefully the webseries that this is adapted from will be better than the series, but after having read the comics I’m not holding out much hope of anything more than a brief diversion.

Screen story: Aaron Schoenke
Screenplay: Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Joe Harris and Andrew Rowe
Comic Script
: Eliot Rahal Art: Joe Bennett
Ink: Belardino Brabo Color: Ulises Arreola
Story: 4.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 5.0
Recommendation: Read it if you’ve come this far. Don’t start if you haven’t.

Thankfully, Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #3

“The pulse-pounding expansion of Valiant’s upcoming, live-action digital series wages its most dangerous gambit yet as Colin King – aka the international super-spy codenamed Ninjak – battles his way through his former friends and allies! Ninjak’s arch-nemesis – the deadly and cunning assassin Roku – has manipulated MI6’s most dangerous asset into turning on his former masters and stealing an object of immeasurable power. So who can MI6 send to stop him? EVERYONE! The bone-cracking showdown of a lifetime continues here as Ninjak battles X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Livewire, Archer & Armstrong, and all of Valiant’s most formidable heroes!”

Despite the live action version of this story having been faced with multiple delays, Valiant have published Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe as an alternate universe story with no real bearing on the other comics in the publisher’s line up.  Being an adaptation, there’s a few hands in the creative pot steering the series with Eliot Rahal adapting Aaron Schoenke‘s screen story (the screenplay itself credits Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Joe Harris and Andrew Rowe) with often mixed results; the first issue wasn’t great although the second was a step up. The third… is neither a step up nor a step back. Once again this remains the comic equivalent to a  popcorn fueled action movie, but this time the charm isn’t holding as strongly as you would hope.

The story has the unique honour of limping along in a disjointed shambles and yet moving with the speed of a track runner. Think a zombie running the hundred meters without any hint of the humour that should be present and you’ll not be far off.

Joe Bennett (pencils),  Belardino Brabo (inks) and Ulises Arreola (colours) are on art duties again, and provide a comic that is presumably close to the visual style of the web-series, but doesn’t really do anything to wow you completely. Visually the comic is solid, if unspectacular, and you won’t feel short changed by the art. But unfortunately Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #3 is an exercise in mediocrity. It’s not bad, but it’s just not that great, either.

Ultimately, although this series isn’t going to be winning any major awards, it’s not bad as a primer for the web-series.

Story: Eliot Rahal Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Belardino Brabo Colours: Ulises Arreola
Story: 6.7 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #2

NJKVS_002_COVER-A_WADA“He betrayed his friends. He betrayed his country to save us all… In advance of NINJAK VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE’s stunning digital debut – coming soon to digital devices everywhere – get the full story behind the head-to-head showdowns, hero-on-hero collisions, and epic consequences that await as Ninjak goes it alone against a gauntlet of the Valiant Universe’s biggest and most beloved icons! Watch the live-action, episodic series… Then follow the action directly onto the comics page with extra-added action, intrigue, and revelations behind Ninjak’s grueling firefight against Valiants’ most indelible heroes – with red-hot creators Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks) and Joe Bennett (Deathstroke) calling the shots!”

The preview text above is a bit of a misnomer; the live action version of this story, having been faced with multiple delays, has still not been released yet. Which means that for many of us, the first taste we get of the Bat In The Sun produced web series is this comic adaptation. Being an adaptation, there’s a few hands in the creative pot steering the series with Eliot Rahal adapting Aaron Schoenke‘s screen story (the screenplay itself credits Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Joe Harris and Andrew Rowe), but unlike last issue’s mediocre start, Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #2 isn’t entirely unfortunate – especially when you remind yourself that this isn’t the normal Valiant Universe. Think of it more as an Elseworlds story or an Ultimate Marvel production.

Everything about this comic is a step above the previous issue. The fast paced action hides the relative lack of plot developments, although there are a few things established for the following issues as the series hurtles toward its conclusion, but for the most part this is the comic equivalent to a  popcorn fueled action movie. And that’s not a bad thing.

NJKVS_002_003Admittedly I went into this comic with lowered expectations after the first issue, but I’m happy to say that Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #2 is substantially stronger than said first issue. The story has evolved from a hastilly cobbled mess that does little more than explain why Ninjak has betrayed Unity into a fun diversion from the main Valiant universe. Honestly, you get just as much of the whys from reading the recap text in the front of this issue as you will from reading #1. Another thing going for Ninjak Vs #2 is that Valiant have released  it in a week where we don’t have Ninjak appearing in another comic (last month had Ninjak stealing the show in Bloodshot Salvation #5).

Despite the long list of people contributing in one way or another to the writing of the story, artistically there are only Joe Bennett (pencils),  Belardino Brabo (inks) and Ulises Arreola (colours) providing the visual direction, which again is a step above the previous issue. The action is clear and easily discernible on the page, with Ninjak’s eyes conveying a vast array of emotion on the close up shots, and the occasional explosive moment coming across with vivid detail.

Ultimately, this is a much better representation of the quality the creative team are capable of and a far more interesting entry in the story than the debut issue. It’s still not perfect, but if the series follows this trajectory then we may just get there in the end.

Story: Eliot Rahal Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Belardino Brabo Colours: Ulises Arreola
Story: 7 Art: 7.8 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #1

NJKVS_001_COVER-A_SUAYAN“Colin King is Ninjak, MI-6’s deadliest intelligence operative and weapons expert. When the ruthless assassin Roku exploits his greatest weakness, Ninjak will be forced to betray his closest allies. Now, on the run, he must face off against the most powerful heroes known to man for a high-octane, take no prisoners trial by fire more perilous and more unpredictable than any he’s faced before. In 2018, the world’s most dangerous super-spy goes to war with the Valiant Universe…”

The first thing you should be aware of when opening this comic is that it has nothing to do with Valiant’s shared universe the company has been publishing comics in since 2012, and everything to do with the Bat In The Sun produced digital-first live action series that is coming to a screen near you eventually (the project has been hit with delay after delay, possibly to do with something behind the scenes in a legal and/or character rights type situation, but the rumours and speculation are that we’ll see a general release soon). Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe is a tie-in comic to the upcoming webseries, and it feels like it.

Written by Eliot Rahal, the art is provided by Joe Bennett with Belardino Brabo, who are joined by colourist Ulises Arreola – who continues to provide a vibrant life to artwork that struggles between finding its own voice and maintaining a likeness to the actors in the upcoming webseries, much like the comic itself. The art is at least mostly solid, other than a few panels that feel as though they had less time spent upon them than others (it’s entirely possible that I’m unfairly comparing this to Ninja-K‘s art, which is never going to end well for this comic), but for the most it does it’s job and gets you from point A to point B.

NJKVS_001_003

Ninjak Vs has a pace to it that mimics its title character, with the action and plot points coming at you like a shuriken in the dark. Rahal wastes no time in getting the plot going, which ultimately is little more than an excuse to set up a fight between Ninjak and everybody else in the next few issues.

There are several things going against this comic, one of the more notable ones is that with this series, Valiant have stated that it takes places out of the typical continuity of the main Valiant universe which should, in theory, allow Rahal to weave a compelling story about Ninjak without any worry toward the consequences of the conclusion. Unfortunately he’s forced into creating some inane reasons for Ninjak to betray everything and everyone in order to obtain something, and so the comic never feels like a natural read, instead we’re left with a situation where we know what’s going to happen, and the “why” feels more like an after thought; honestly, had the intro just said “Ninjak has to fight the Valiant Universe” I’d have been happier. Possibly because it is a tie-in, companion piece and/or adaptation of a live action adaptation and has to follow the pacing of said story. On top of that there’s the obvious comparisons to the excellent Ninja-K that Valiant launched in November – and unfortunately, Ninjak Vs doesn’t come off looking too favourably in that comparison.

Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #1 is part of an ambitious project that crosses multiple different media, and perhaps should be taken as such – knowing that there would have been a clear direction for Rahal (because frankly he’s capable of a much higher standard than is on display here), and to a lesser extent Bennett and Brabo, to follow editorially does provide a bit of leeway when judging the issue – but not much. Without an accompanying live action series, one must judge this issue on face value; and on face value, this isn’t the finest example of what Valiant, or the individuals who have created this comic, can produce, and it’s a struggle to honestly recommend this issue to you to face value.

If you want to read a great comic starring Ninjak, then you should look at Ninja-K. If you want to read a story about one Valiant character facing off against Unity, then pick up the first two issues of Book of Death. Both these comics do what Ninjak Vs tries to do, only they succeed.

Not every book from Valiant is a winner, and this is one of the rare misses.

Story: Eliot Rahal Art: Joe Bennett with Belardino Brabo Colourist: Ulises Arreola
Story: 5.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Deathstroke Vol. 1 The Professional

Deathstroke Vol. 1 The Professional

Written by: Christopher Priest
Art by: Belardino Brabo, Mark Morales, Joe Bennett, Jason Paz, Carlo Pagulayan
Cover by: Aco

Confronted by his own troubled past and challenged to reinvent himself before he loses everything and everyone in his life, Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke, finds himself and those he values most in the crosshairs—stalked by an unseen enemy. Collects DEATHSTROKE #1-5 and DEATHSTROKE: REBIRTH #1.

Preview: Deathstroke #3

Deathstroke #3

Written by: Christopher Priest
Art by: Belardino Brabo, Joe Bennett
Cover by: Aco
Variant cover by: Shane Davis

“The Professional” part 3! After Slade discovers that someone has put a contract out on his daughter, Rose Wilson—a.k.a. The Ravager—Deathstroke reluctantly travels to New York City to save her from a deadly ambush.

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