Tag Archives: black mask studios

Preview: CalExit Vol. 1


Written by: Matteo Pizzolo
Illustrated by: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colored by: Tyler Boss
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
$14.99 | full color | mature | 160 pages

What if California refused to be ruled?

Preview: Survival Fetish #3


Written by: Patrick Kindlon
Illustrated by: Antonio Fuso
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
$3.99 | b&w | mature

Running for the wrong people will get you killed, a fact Saheer pushes out of his mind as he does a job for the Punchbowl’s resident gangster. Trapped on the 40th floor with a madman, none of the paths to the ground are very appealing.

Preview: The Wilds #4


Written by: Vita Ayala
Illustrated by: Emily Pearson
Colors by: Stelladia
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
Cover by: Natasha Alterici
$3.99 | full color | mature

Waking in the belly of the beast – Medical Central – Daisy finds herself reunited briefly with Heather. Their time together is cut short when Heather is taken away to undergo “treatment.” Unable to rescue her partner on her own, Daisy is able to flee Medical with the help of a mole, vowing to return with every ally she has at her back. The only thing standing in her way: the people she has sacrificed everything for, the people of the Compound.

Review: Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim #1

Summer time means that it’s time for more rad bounty hunter adventures featuring Kim Q and Kim D, and they have a new (Ongoing this time.) title from Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre. After the events of Kim and Kim: Love is A Battlefield, the Fighting Kims have gone corporate with all the requisite perks, including insurance, stable pay, and even a spaceship. However, they have cost their boss Kathleen a lot in collateral damage and have crazy high premiums on that insurance. In Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim #1, Kathleen gives the Kims a basic assignment to wear fancy dresses and watch legendary art thief, Xue Peng, while she steals a painting from Peng’s vault. But it’s never that easy, and by the time the final page rolls around, Kim Q and Kim D are on yet another wacky adventure: this time of the Belinda Carlisle variety.

Kim Q is the narrator of Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim, and Visaggio and Cabrera frame many of the scenes in the book from her POV while also planting the initial idea of the “Heaven Is A Place on Earth” job within a job heist into Peng’s head. However, before she starts fights with pool cues (Her trademark bass is sadly taking the issue off.) against guys with guns and cybernetic probability machines, Kim Q does get a splash of cold, hard reality.  Even though she’s in a stable bounty hunter position with an email address of all things, Kim Q still treats her life like she and Kim D are still on the van living from job to job and barely scraping by. In a kind of sad inset panel from Cabrera, Kathleen also draws attention to the bandages and bruises that Kim Q has gotten in her line of work that might not reflect best on her organization.

However, Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim isn’t all workplace performance reviews, and when the Fighting Kims reach the Planet Ballarat, the book is back to its looser flow with plenty of fighting, flirting, and scheming. Kim D is a little overwhelmed by the magnetic presence of Xue Peng, who definitely know she’s being tailed, and that Kim D is town for business, not pleasure. She’s like the person who goes to Vegas for the business trip part, not the high rolling and bad decisions part. Speaking of high rolling, Eva Cabrera choreographs one hell of a fight scene in the casino and  gives it a slick Casino Royale feel. It starts out with a sedate grid as Kim D starts to hash out the terms of their partnership with Xue Peng and then tilts and erupts into a shower of pinks and yellows from Claudia Aguirre as the action kicks in. It finally builds to a crescendo of a group brawl, and Xue Peng having instant chemistry with the Fighting Kims using her whip to restrain a guy, who uses a cybernetic probability machine to overtly cheat at cards.

My favorite sequence is this almost triptych of three panels of Kim Q, Kim D, and Xue Peng doing their things with a two handed pool cue beatdown, gun shot, and big time kick. Cabrera is really good at conveying motion in her panels, and Visaggio knows when to let the violence do the talking or throw in a pre or post ass kicking one liner. The big casino action scene also tells a lot about Kim Q’s character as she feels restrained by going corporate and wants to cut loose sometimes and beat up some guys while wearing a fancy dress and plan a score without a real plan. This whole responsibility thing is lost on her, but sometimes pop music recordings and personal revenge are a little more fun. However, Visaggio doesn’t introduce the whole personal angle to the heist until the last page, and it definitely complicates what was already an increasingly complex babysitting job.

Even though they’re technically corporate, Kim Q and Kim D still have big personalities and get into bigger scraps in the super fun ode to arrested development that is Oh S#!t It’s Kim and Kim #1. The classy casino setting allows Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre to make some wonderful fashion choices in the midst of the carnage while Magdalene Visaggio introduces the Fighting Kims to a new character that might be a little much for even them. Xiu Peng has instant chemistry with our two leads, and I look forward to this power trio’s insurance premium increasing crimes and misdemeanors.

Story: Magdalene Visaggio Art: Eva Cabrera
Colors: Claudia Aguirre Letters: Zakk Saam

Story: 8.7 Art: 9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

SDCC 2018: Calexit: All Systems San Diego Raises Money for Immigrant Families

As the lines between fictional dystopias and our actual reality continue to blur, critically acclaimed comic book Calexit is making a difference for real families at the Mexican border. Profits from the brand new Calexit: All Systems San Diego #1 will be donated to San Diego Rapid Response Network, an organization dedicated to aiding immigrants and their families in the San Diego border region. Writer Matteo Pizzolo teamed with artist Carlos Granda, colorist Lauren Affe, and cover artists Ben Templesmith and Tyler Boss to create the new Calexit story, which goes on sale this week at San Diego Comic Con. The comic book, a story within the Calexit world, features all new characters in a San Diego-based adventure.

Preview: Black [AF}: Widows & Orphans #2

Black [AF}: Widows & Orphans #2

Created by: Kwanza Osajyefo & Tim Smith 3
Written by: Kwanza Osajyefo
Illustrated by: Tim Smith 3
Colors by: Derwin Roberson
Lettered by: David Sharpe
Edited by: Sarah Litt
$3.99 | full color | mature

After surviving an attack from empowered black ninjas in Tokyo, Anansi receives clue which takes his human trafficking investigation to Russia. There, he infiltrates a grandiose mafia party which turns out to be an auction of empowered black children. The soiree is interrupted by another ninja attack! Are these ninja friend, foe, or something else altogether?

Preview: Oh S#!t It’s Kim & Kim #1

Oh S#!t It’s Kim & Kim #1

Written by: Magdalene Visaggio
Illustrated by: Eva Cabrera
Colored by: Claudia Aguirre
Lettered by: Zack Saam
$3.99 | full color | mature

The Fighting Kims are back! Kim & Kim trade their denim vests and spiked chokers for tuxes and gowns as they infiltrate the glitzy space colony of Santa Palma to try and con a master thief. But, as usual, everything goes to hell… and it’s definitely Kim Q’s fault. Come on, Kim. Get your life together. A brand new ongoing series from writer Magdalene Visaggio, artist Eva Cabrera, colorist Claudia Aguirre, letterer Zakk Saam, and editor Katy Rex, the original creative team behind the GLAAD & Eisner nominated Kim & Kim!

Around the Tubes

We’re gearing up for San Diego Comic-Con but we still have lots on tap for the week including a new podcast and more! While you wait for all of that, here’s some news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

AV Club – The modern era of the superhero movie begins in earnest with X-Men – Agree? Disagree?

L.A. Weekly – Black Mask Studios Is Dragging the Comic Book Medium Into the Politically Aware Era – A publisher that’s shaking things up.

IGN Comics – Warcraft Director Duncan Jones Reveals Comic Book Movie Rogue Trooper – More comics coming to the big screen.



Talking Comics – Superman #1

Review: We Are the Danger #1

In their new series We Are the Danger, writer/artist Fabian Lelay and colorist Claudia Aguirre channel teenage angst and uncertainty into pop rock magic. Jules is the new girl in town and having the usual issues making friends and finding her niche that all people who have moved from place to place can relate to. But, then, she gets invited to a gig by a super cool, pink haired drummer named Tabitha, and the rest is pretty thrilling from there. Lelay’s candid captions and hyper-expresssive art, Aguirre’s power pop color palette, and Taylor Esposito’s livewire letters recapture a time when meeting a new, cool friend could open a world of potential to you whether that’s learning about a new band, going to a gig, or best of all, starting your own.

Fabian Lelay dual wields the proverbial weapon of conflict in We Are the Danger #1 centering it mainly on Jules’ very real desire to have friends and belong somewhere and awkwardness of being in a new place while also introducing some external conflict between Tabitha and her old bandmate, Logan, who seems like a more diva-ish version of CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry. (In design, at least.) So, when Tabitha and Jules start their new band with bassist Scooter and a stylish girl with black and white guitar, who is pretty and tense and can definitely shred, it’s not just about the music; it’s also to spite Logan. Tabitha may play the drums like a slightly less deadpan Kim Pine, but she immediately puts a target on the band’s back. She’s a character who is cool and quick witted on the outside, but she definitely has some problems. However, Tabitha was the first person that reached out to Jules at her new home and invited her to do something fun so they have a real bond.

We Are the Danger #1 is just a slice of life teen band book, but Lelay’s art and especially Aguirre’s colors make it look magical. Any time music is being played, whether at a quick acoustic jam session at Jules’ place or the gig that opens up the comic, Aguirre uses vivid background colors, and Lelay draws closed eyed close-up of the characters to show how much music means to them. Or there’s a giant mosh pit that allows for manga-esque pratfalls like Jules basically swooning for Tabitha’s bishonen (She finds out about this later.) brother. There’s an air of wonder to everything seen through Jules’ eyes, and her friendship with Tabitha is easy. Maybe, a little too easy, and the origin of the interpersonal conflict between Logan and Tabitha is definitely a subplot to pay attention to going forward.

Even if the story is set in the present, and subtweeting is a major plot point, Fabian Lelay gives We Are the Danger a great retro vibe in some of his art and layout choices. This makes sense when artists like Paramore, who weren’t even alive when New Wave ruled the charts, are making albums in homage to that period or Janelle Monae’s new single “Make Me Feel” seems like a forgotten B-side to “Kiss” by Prince to name two of many. Lelay uses a mixtape shaped layout to tell Jules’ “origin story” with the “track titles” foreshadowing future plot developments and doubling as good song names. This style choices combined with clean, emotion filled artwork make We Are the Danger a breezy, pleasurable read with quips and melodrama to boot. Plus Claudia Aguirre really knows how to light up a stage with cool Photoshop effects to go with her colors.

We Are the Danger #1 has all the raw emotion and passion of your favorite summer pop single that happens to feature some distorted guitars to give it a little edge. Fabian Lelay and Claudia Aguirre take two relatable situations: feeling like an outcast at a new place and loving music with every ounce of energy and turns into yet another hit for Black Mask Studios.

Story/Art: Fabian Lelay Colors: Claudia Aguirre Letters: Taylor Esposito
Story: 7.8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 5/12

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.

Ryan C

eternity girl 3Eternity Girl #3 (DC/Young Animal)** – Magdalene Visaggio seems to get a bit lost in the intricacies of her own plot with this issue, which is a bummer because the first two chapters were so good, but Sonny Liew gets a chance to draw all kinds of cool Kirby-tech, so that (mostly) makes up for the story’s big step back. I’m confident things are still headed in the right direction overall given the fact that the cliffhanger here is solid, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see — and make no mistake, this series is worth a look for the art alone, even if it turns out that the narrative doesn’t recover. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Analog #2 (Image)** – Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan’s look at a post-internet world takes a turn for the more comical with this second issue, and results are pretty good as we get to see our protagonist’s family and romantic life fleshed out considerably. The art seems to be getting better and better with each page, as well, which is really saying something given that it was pretty damn strong to start with. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Port Of Earth #5 (Image/Top Cow)** – It’s nice to see Zack Kaplan and Andrea Mutti’s sci-fi take on nativism and xenophobia back for a second arc, but the TV interview vignettes are becoming lazy info-dump crutches, and frankly distract from a plenty compelling main narrative thrust. Mutti’s grim and gritty art is stunning as ever, but it’s time for Kaplan to up his game and match his collaborator’s efforts. Overall : 7. Recommendation : Readhere are still seven issues to go, but I’m missing Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s pulp sci-fi masterpiece already. This is more a self-contained story focusing on the doomed McKay marriage, but ties into the overall narrative quite nicely and the art, as always, is spectacular. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Hungry Ghosts #4 (Dark Horse/Berger Books)**– Joel Rose and Anthony Bourdain’s lackluster horror anthology limps to a conclusion with two insipid tales that are considerably elevated by absolutely stellar artwork, which has been the pattern here from the start. Kudos, then, to Irene Koh and Francesco Francavilla for making a gorgeous silk purse out of a couple of sow’s ear stories. Overall: 6. Recommendation: Read


Justice-League-No-Justice-1-Cover-600x923Venom #1 (Marvel)– This was my first time reading a Venom comic, and it was pretty good work from Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, J.P. Mayer, and Frank Martin. Cates relies a little too heavily on dueling narrative captions, but leaning on the horror elements in both a Lovecraftian and a very real horrors of war way is a smart move. There is a jagged, heavy metal edge to Stegman’s art, and Mayer brings out the little details like the beads of sweat on Eddie Brock’s face when he loses control of his symbiote while Martin enjoys spraying black everywhere. It’s very early McFarlane in the best way, and I’m intrigued by Cates and Stegman’s millennia spanning cosmic symbiote melodrama. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Justice League: No Justice #1 (DC)– With lots of superheroes (and supervillains), big tapestry like spreads from Francis Manapul, and big explosions, Justice League: No Justice #1 is a summer popcorn movie of a comic book. The book starts traditionally enough w/ the JL, Suicide Squad, Titans, and Teen Titans fighting Brainiac, but then Scott Snyder, Josh Williamson, and James Tynion make the villain an unlikely ally and point man for the new Justice League strategy. No Justice #1 tries to be clever, but ends up turning into Captain Planet/Attack on Titan crossover fanfic. The team lineups are pretty fun though with a particularly tense encounter between Lex Luthor and Martian Manhunter being the highlight of the book. Overall: 7.2 Verdict: Read

Eternity Girl #3 (DC/Young Animal)– Mags Visaggio, Sonny Liew, and Chris Chuckry make Eternity Girl #3 very cosmic and very Jean-Paul Sartre. The more abstract and occasionally metafictional concepts of being and nothingness and death and rebirth are grounded in Caroline just wanting to die by any means possible. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic book where the protagonist represents despair, and the antagonist represents hope. Kudos to Visaggio and Liew for bringing deep, sad, and self-destructive emotions we sometimes feel to the forefront. Liew’s visuals span the gap between the cosmic and the mundane, and it is a real treat to have such a talented cartoonist on a “mainstream” comic. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy


nuclear-winter-9781684151639_lg.jpgNuclear Winter vol 1 (Boom! Box) – I actually just read this in its original French (as Hiver Nucléaire), so I was happy to see Cab’s delightful and charming post-apocalyptic Montreal in English. It’s been perpetual winter ever since the nuclear accident (who builds a nuclear reactor in Montreal anyway?, as one character points out), and Flavie is a ski-doo courier who would rather stay home knitting. When she takes a shift for a friend and has to get bagels for a temperamental hipster chick, things get a bit crazy. Cab’s cartooning style is generous, warm, and fun, and so is Flavie. I love the way she just accepts all of the mutants at the diner, is friendly to the arctic raccoons, and loyal to friends old and new. Cab depicts my Plateau Mont-Royal and Mile End neighbourhoods with similar good humour and style. The translation (for which I can’t seem to find any credit!) is excellent, with one minor quibble: it’s just Mile End, no “the”. Nuclear Winter is an excellent addition to the Boom! Box stable. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy.

Come Into Me #2 (Black Mask)** – The Cronenbergian creepiness continues thanks to writers Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler and artist Piotr Kowalski. As Sebastan tries to maintain control with the mind of a dead woman inside him, he also has to come to grips with the advantages of having a second personality who is more articulate, empathetic, and likeable than himself to interact with VC’s and family. Meanwhile (did I mention Cronenbergian?) his now-shared flesh is morphing and changing into something new. Chilling and thought-provoking, Come Into Me is one of my favourite series right now. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Sex Criminals #24 (Image)** – I am thinking about something Fraction wrote in the latest newsletter: “Comics mimic the way we remember, the way we dream, not as fluid constants but in pulsing recreations of sound and space and time, interrupted by gaps where the memory stops.” The more Fraction & Zdarsky’s comic actually does this, the better I like it. Anyone can write banking conspiracies and dick jokes, but only SexCrims can really dig into the messiness of how we work out our dreams and impulses with the people around us. I must admit, I did really enjoy the roller disco setting (and the joke of the name “Roll! You Pretty Things”). Overall: 8ish Recommendation: Buy

Stray Bullets #34 (Image)** – “Now everybody’s killin’ everybody”. You said it, Roses. Annie and Vic hit Baltimore and have to look for Rose’s son Joey before killer Spanish Scott finds out. And just how should junkie Vic find this kid? “Use your druggie instincts.” As usual, Annie is an absolute fountain of the worst possible advice. Advice that, in true David Lapham style, leads to blackly hilarious mayhem. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy 


VENOM2018001_CovVenom #1 (Marvel) In a case of following a creator (or two) rather than a character, I took the plunge on this comic solely because of Don Cates and Ryan Stegman writing and drawing it; I wasn’t disappointed. Of course the last time I had read a Venom comic, some dude named Lee Pace had the symbiote – obviously not the case anymore as Eddie Brock has the giant tongue again (which I’m sure has nothing to do with a movie later this year). Cates takes the interesting route of exploring the symbiote’s history and emotional story rather than Eddie Brock’s, and it lends a unique lens over how the two coexist in their anti-hero life. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know Venom (but really, who doesn’t know a little about him?); this is a good comic and it will pull you back for more. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

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