Tag Archives: black mask studios

Explore How America Reacts to a World Where Only Black People Have Superpowers in White

How does America react when only black people have superpowers? In the sure-to-be-controversial six-part comic book series White, co-creators Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3, Inkpot-Award winning artist Jamal Igle, and cover artist Khary Randolph reunite for the sequel to their acclaimed graphic novel and Kickstarter sensation, Black.

How does a nation struggling with a history of racial inequality cope in a world where only black people have superpowers? Our story asks: In a time of supposed inclusion and diversity, how far will those in charge push back to retain the status quo?

Kwanza Osajyefo

In White, Theodore Mann, whose family exploited empowered blacks for centuries, is now President of the United States. Mann’s administration has exacted controversial measures to deal with the empowered he’s deemed terrorists and is stoking national tensions to win public support for Mann First, a cybernetically-augmented soldier program. The main person standing in the President’s way is X –  once known as Kareem Jenkins – who has become a symbol of resistance against the Mann Administration.

For White, the original Black creative team―Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, Sarah Litt, Derwin Roberson, and Dave Sharpe―will return for the second part of a planned trilogy, and will be joined by inker Juan Castro. If funded by Kickstarter, White will be a 6-part, ad-free periodical comic book series. The first printing – with variant covers – will be exclusive to  Kickstarter backers. Comic book retailers will be able to order standard editions directly from Black Mask Studios after rewards are shipped.

The number of backers of White will unlock Kickstarter exclusive variants by comic book industry legends: Ashley A. Woods, Jamal Igle, Jeremy Love, ChrisCross, Sanford Greene, and Denys Cowan.

Issue one of White is estimated to be delivered to backers October 2019. The limited edition variant of the graphic novel and comic book shop retailer bundles will ship to backers in early 2020.

The White Kickstarter campaign is live as of March 4, 2019.

White

Review: Sex Death Revolution #3

Sex Death Revolution #3

Magdalene Visaggio, Kasia Witerscheim, and Harry Saxon get pretty damn personal in Sex Death Revolution #3 as our protagonist, Esperanza continues to use magic, rituals, and just talking to people to figure out how her memories are being screwed up with, especially a big one about her meeting her ex, Shannon. After last issue’s focus on our bastion of white male toxicity, Marcus, this one narrows in on how Esperanza is feeling and is pain and vulnerability in a single slice of comic book.

Sex Death Revolution #3 deals with some pretty weighty topics, including the conflict and anxiety of transitioning (Which Visaggio explored in an excellent 2018 Twitter thread) and the overall nature of gaslighting. It’s emotional powerful stuff that is conveyed through impressive character acting by Witerscheim and ever changing colors from Saxon that depend on what state in the ritual that Esperanza, Shannon, and later Annie are at. They use the famous “No, I am your father.” sequence from Empire Strikes Back as a pop cultural metaphor for gaslighting and maybe the amazing life you used to live and how people feel about you is all wrong.

It’s scary and leads to plenty of awkward questions as Esperanza and Shannon go door to door basically and try to figure out where Esperanza “changed” for the first half of Sex Death Revolution #3. Some of the responses are downright heartbreaking (Especially when Esperanza is dead named.), and it makes you realize how little people follow or care about your own personal journey, your character arc. Thank goodness for people like Shannon that chase you through the park and remind you of better times even though the darkness still lingers because this is a middle chapter.

Sex Death Revolution #3 is proof that it’s sometimes okay to spend a chapter of a comic book miniseries away from plot twists and that nonsense and really hone in on your protagonist. Openly asking people how they feel about you is a spicy kind of taboo, but it’s something that Esperanza gets to do in this issue with not the best results. And this is mirrored in Kasia Witerscheim’s art as she goes from grid layouts to something more fluid when Esperanza does a ritual with Annie before the utterly screwed up ending. And along the way, she and Magdalene Visaggio take potshots at the kind of arrogant, monologuing liberal arts major (I was one, myself, oops.) that is Marcus, and what he is trying to make Esperanza remembered even though she is trying to change.

Sex Death Revolution #3 is an empathy inducing read about dysphoria and gaslighting through the lens of magic as Magdalene Visaggio, Kasia Witerscheim, and the trippy when he needs to be, silent grey at other times Harry Saxon craft a fantastic personal narrative in the midst of an apocalyptic occult thriller.

Story: Magdalene Visaggio Art: Kasia Witerscheim
Colors: Harry Saxon Letters: Zakk Saam
Story: 7.9 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

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

Preview: Black [AF]: Devil’s Dye #2

Black [AF]: Devil’s Dye #2

Writer: VITA AYALA (The Wilds, Livewire, Marvel Knights)
Artist: LIANA KANGAS
Letterer: DAVE SHARPE
Cover: MAIKA SOZO
Editor: SARAH LITT
BLACK Created by: KWANZA OSAJYEFO & TIM SMITH 3

Indigo, Waters, and X have traced the supply of VANTA to a single source – an old nemesis, SAVAGE, who has re-branded himself a businessman and is running the drug from his nightclub. The trio arrive in style and get to work, managing to get to Savage and getting the name of his supplier. That name triggers a reaction in Indigo that is more dangerous that VANTA ever could be, and her partners may not be able to keep her from going past the point of no return…

Black [AF]: Devil's Dye #2

Preview: Snap Flash Hustle #2

Snap Flash Hustle #2

Writer: PAT SHAND (Breathless)
Artist: EMILY PEARSON (The Wilds)
Letterer: JIM CAMPBELL (Calexit)

As Haley navigates the pitfalls of her new job as an alt-model / middleman, Coral sees a chance to earn a promotion… and all it takes is one dead rival to get her to the top. The subversive hit series from Pat Shand (Breathless) and Emily Pearson (The Wilds) heats up every issue!

Snap Flash Hustle #2

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2018

Without further ado, these are my favorite comics of 2018. This was the year I fell back on series that I had been checking out for years and found some new faves in the worlds of newspaper comics, symbiotes, gamma irradiated beasts, and maybe even a choose your own adventure game. Marvel seriously did a 180 this year, and I went from picking zero of their comics on my last year end list to three so well done on their part, and Donny Cates and Al Ewing should receive hefty bonus checks. But, honestly, this list should show you that visual humor, character driven narratives, and weirdness are my things, and I can’t wait to read more comics in that vein in 2019.

Honorable Mentions: Sex Death Revolution (Black Mask), Runaways (Marvel), Assassinistas (IDW/Black Crown), Punks Not Dead (IDW/Black Crown), That one really good issue of Peter Parker, Spider-Man that Chip Zdarsky wrote and drew (Marvel), Gideon Falls (Image)

10.Modern Fantasy  (Dark Horse)

Modern Fantasy is a miniseries about a data entry worker named Sage of the Riverlands, who secretly wants to epic hero or maybe just a curator at a cool museum, and has a penchant for smooching handsome elves. Did Rafer Roberts and Kristen Gudsnuk have access to my most secret thoughts while writing this book? In all seriousness, this comic marries millennial angst and struggles (Dead end jobs, mooching friends, annoying co-workers) with all kinds of fantasy tropes, including urban, high, and good ol’ Lovecraftian. Gudsnuk’s art is both humorous and touching and filled with background details and jokes that reward a close reading. But what makes Modern Fantasy a great comic is the awkward friend group dynamic that Roberts and Gudsnuk craft filled with drama, jokes, a touch of romance, and a final showdown with a fire demon.

9.The Wicked + the Divine (Image)

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson’s story of young gods and fandom hit some dark bits in 2018 and had plenty of surprises to go with the formalism and “glimpse behind the curtain” of the “Mothering Invention” arc. However, at its best, WicDiv is the story of the girl, who thought she wanted something, and then painfully realized that she didn’t really want it. That girl, of course, is Persephone whose personal journey along with McKelvie’s amazing facial expressions, Gillen’s clever quips, and Wilson’s majestic color palette keeps me returning to this series as it is about to hit its fifth year. Also, the specials were spectacularly glorious in 2018 from the illustrated prose story/murder mystery in 1923 to 1373’s dark piety. Then, there was the absolute bonkers nature of The Funnies  where we find out the origin of Laura’s cracked phone and the Pantheon gets to solve a Scooby Doo mystery courtesy of Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris.

8.  Nancy (Go Comics)

I’ve been doing year end comics lists for five years, and this is the first time I’ve put a newspaper strip on one. However, Olivia Jaimes’ work on Nancy is one of the most hilarious things to come out of 2018. There are her “millennial” gags (Even though Nancy and Sluggo are definitely Generation Z.) about Nancy’s overuse of the Internet or swapping streaming service passwords with Sluggo, who is also “lit”. But she also has a firm grasp on meta-gags and the uniqueness of the comics medium like playing with panel layouts, lettering styles, reusing panels, and then having Nancy make a joke about it. Nancy is truly a ray of sunshine in a dark landscape while still being sarcastic and self-deprecating as hell and shows that even the proverbial old dog of the newspaper comic can learn some new tricks.

7.  “Milk Wars” (DC Comics/Young Animal)

“Milk Wars” really brought the best of DC Rebirth and Young Animal together and was the only Big Two crossover I kept up with in 2018. The series brings together the Doom Patrol, Mother Panic, Shade the Changing Girl, and Cave Carson to fight warped versions of DC Comics heroes, who are under the control of the Retconn corporation. The story is a literal metaphor for how corporations sanitize characters and go for the retread instead of taking risks with iconic characters as Wonder Woman becomes a submissive housewife in her tie-in story from Cecil Castelluci and Mirka Andolfo. “Milk Wars” shows that it’s okay to be a little weird as milk goes bad if it’s left in the bridge past its expiration day. It also features some gorgeous layouts from Aco in the crossover’s first chapter, which was co-written by Gerard Way and Steve Orlando, and he and the artists did an excellent job of melding an indie and mainstream sensibility throughout “Milk Wars”. Also, the story had a real effect on Mother Panic, Cave Carson, and Shade in their solo titles and introduced Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew’s wonderful, yet depressed Eternity Girl character.

6.Venom (Marvel)

Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, and Iban Coello’s Venom ongoing series is filled with all the fun excesses of the 1990s (Especially in the Venom Annual where James Stokoe shows him going toe to toe with Juggernaut.) and none of its toxicity. The first arc of the series is about Eddie Brock and his symbiote going to war against Knull, god of the symbiotes and a symbiote dragon. This has a terrible effect on him, and Cates carefully uses the symbiote as a metaphor for PTSD while freeing Stegman to draw unhinged heavy metal battles. And this series wasn’t just a one arc wonder as Cates, Coello, and Stegman explore the after effects of the battle with Knull on Eddie’s symbiote and have him confront his father. Plus one of the most underrated Marvel villains, Ultimate Reed Richards aka the Maker pops up for a little bit. This series work because it explores the psychological effects of the symbiote as well as the oozy, shoot-y violent bits.

5.Crowded (Image)

Crowded is a wicked bit of satire with a side of mismatched buddy adventure from the beautiful minds of Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell. It is about an obnoxious woman named Charlie, who has a $2 million price on her head on an app called Reapr that is basically crowdfunded murder. Luckily, there’s an app called Defendr where Charlie hires a badass, meticulous, and noble woman named Vita to protect her. Stein and Brandt fill each page with oodles of panels, but you are able to follow every action scene, conversation, or Charlie ending up at the club or a bachelorette party even if she has a price on her head. The bounty hunting drives the plot while Sebela uses the quieter moments to develop the personality and relationships of Charlie and Vita as well as some of the “professionals” hunting them. Crowded is a thrill ride, but also looks at the dark, not so altruistic side of human nature through the Internet and constant connectivity.

4. You Are Deadpool (Marvel)

Al Ewing and Salva Espin’s You Are Deadpool was some of the most fun I had reading a comic book in 2018 beginning with Kieron Gillen showing up in the “tutorial” brandishing a sandwich as a weapon. It’s a combination spoof of different eras of Marvel Comics along with a pretty damn fun and addictive Choose Your Own Adventure Game. In some cases, you don’t even read the issues in order. Ewing and Espin also take cues from some not so table top RPGs and have the moral choices that Deadpool makes effect your reading and playing experience. Having Deadpool interact with both heroes and innocent passerbies during the Silver Age, horror/kung fu/blaxploitation, the edgy 80s, and of course, the good ol’ 90s is hilarious and shows Espin’s versatility as a cartoonist.

3. Archival Quality (Oni)

Archival Quality is a spooky graphic novel by Ivy Noelle Weir and Steenz about a young woman named Cel, who gets a job as an archivist at a medical museum. The comic tenderly explores Cel’s anxiety and depression and unexpected connection with a woman named Celine, who was a patient at the sanatorium that preceded the museum. It isn’t caught up in a fast paced thriller plot, but slowly unveils the mystery while focusing on Cel’s interactions with her boss Abayomi, super rad co-worker Holly, and her declining relationship with her boyfriend Kyle. Archival Quality has real atmosphere, and Steenz creates some fantastic spaces as Cel begins to explore her workplace with its skulls and lack of cellphone service. It is a fantastic story about mental health and relationships through the mystery genre.

2. Giant Days (BOOM! Studios) 

Giant Days continues to be one of life’s true blessings thanks to John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, Julia Madrigal, and Whitney Cogar. At this point, we know the characters and their quirks are on fully display, especially when Sarin draws the title because she is a real pro at expressive eyes and touches of surrealism to break up the slice of life. 2018 was full of drama to go with the Giant Days’ comedy as Daisy broke up with her a little too footloose and fancy free girlfriend Ingrid, and Esther missed her shot at being in a relationship with Ed when he begins a romance with Nina, a girl he met while recuperating from a pub related injury. Nina being Australian is the subject of this year holiday’s special, which was a special treat drawn and written by Allison as Ed fends for himself Down Under. Giant Days shows that it’s one of the pre-eminent slice of life comics as it enters its fourth year, and Esther, Daisy, and Susan’s relationships continue to ebb and flow.

1. Immortal Hulk  (Marvel)

I will preface this by saying that the Hulk is one of my least favorite Marvel characters because he’s often used as a simplistic Jekyll/Hyde metaphor. Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Lee Garbett, Martin Simmonds, and Paul Mounts blow that up in Immortal Hulk, which resembles an intelligent horror story rather than a superhero beat ’em up. It’s a road story with Bruce Banner on the run from the monster that comes out, wrecks, and kills when the sun goes down before morphing into a government conspiracy thriller and something more malevolent towards the end. Through cutting narration, Ewing reveals exactly what is going through Banner’s head while Bennett’s art shows the often gruesome effects of his rages. I also like how Ewing humanizes the supporting players from Walter Langkowski, who is struggling with his own monstrous nature to honest reporter Jackie McGee and even his opponent the Absorbing Man.

Immortal Hulk is the best comic of 2018 because it has a compelling plot, is a searing character study of an American pop culture icon, and is an homage to Jack Kirby and Bernie Wrightson while breaking new ground. (See issue 10’s final page.)

Devil Within #1 Has Sold Out and Gets a 2nd Printing with a Tula Lotay Cover

Black Mask Studios has announced that Devil Within #1 has sold out and is getting a second printing with a new cover by Tula Lotay.

Written by Stephanie Phillips, with art by Maan House, color by Dee Cunniffe, and lettering by Jim Campbell, the series is a new paranormal horror comic.

Paranormal entities.

Demonic possessions.

Or is it madness?

When newly engaged Michelle and Samantha move into an old house, Michelle starts experiencing disturbing events… rogue reflections in mirrors, strange apparitions, and an eerie voice only she can hear. Samantha doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the alternative might be even more terrifying in this hauntingly paranoid thriller.

Preview: Devil Within #1

DEVIL WITHIN #1

Writer: STEPHANIE PHILLIPS
Artist: MAAN HOUSE (Witchblade)

Paranormal entities.
Demonic possessions.
Or is it madness?
When newly engaged Michelle and Samantha move into an old house, Michelle starts experiencing disturbing events… rogue reflections in mirrors, strange apparitions, and an eerie voice only she can hear. Samantha doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the alternative might be even more terrifying in this hauntingly paranoid thriller from new writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Mann House (Witchblade), colorist Dee Cunniffe (The Dregs, Eternal), and letterer Jim Campbell (Calexit) with an awesome b-cover by Meghan Hetrick (Red Thorn).

Preview: Oh S#!t It’s Kim & Kim #2

OH S#!T IT’S KIM & KIM #2

Written by: Magdalene Visaggio
Illustrated by: Eva Cabrera
Colored by: Claudia Aguirre
Lettered by: Zakk Saam
$3.99 | full color | mature
IN STORES 9/19

After striking an uneasy alliance with the deadly Xue Peng, The Fighting Kims head to Furious Quatro’s Giant Orbital Death Platform for some Ocean’s 11 style hijinks! The fun doesn’t last though as Kim Q.’s secret puts them all in peril. Will Kim D. ever trust Kim Q. again?

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/15

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

CemetaryBeach_01-1Wildstorm: Michael Cray #11 (DC/Wildstorm)** – This series has been an up-and-down ride, but with one issue to go, writer Bryan Hill and artist N. Steven Harris (with assists from Nelson Blake II) are ramping up toward what should at least be an interesting conclusion, as the Cthulhu-esque entity that’s been “sharing” protagonist Cray’s mind makes its presence fully felt. The finale will determine whether or not sticking with this one all the way through was a smart move, but for the time being it looks like it may just prove to be. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Cemetery Beach #1 (Image)** – The “Trees” team of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard re-unites for this sci-fi mystery thriller, and while I’m hesitant to get too wrapped up in this series given that their last one was essentially abandoned at the midway point, I have to admit that everything you want in a first issue is here : an inventive premise, strong characterization, crisp and dynamic art, plenty of action, and even some laughs. If they see this one through,who knows? This might just be something special. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

MCMLXXV #1 (Image)** – Blaxploitation meets kung-fu/ninja hijinks in this wildly fun debut from Joe Casey and Ian MacEwan, and while slowing down to think about what’s happening here reveals plenty of holes in the book’s internal logic, the good news is that the fluid, action-packed story — complete with some seriously great fight scenes — doesn’t give you a chance to even catch your breath, much less exercise your gray matter. A fantastic protagonist and an authentic mid-’70s New Tork “vibe” round out this impressive opening shot across the bow from two consistently-interesting creators. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

The Wicked + The Divine #39 (Image)** – I’d been really cool toward this arc in Kieran Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s long-running series, feeling that it marked the point at which style finally overtook substance in the proceedings, but the last two issues — particularly this one — represent a complete 180 as surprises and consequential events aplenty are thrown at us fast and furious. Suddenly, I can’t wait for the final chapter in this saga, and everything going on between the comic’s covers feels new, fresh, and important all over again. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

catwoman_3_5b993db5572f27.31025934.jpgCatwoman #3 (DC)– In Catwoman #3, Joelle Jones and guest flashback artist Fernando Blanco spend a little time on the backstory of the series’ villain, Raina Creel, who runs the town of Villa Hermosa. It’s tragic and filled with sex, lies, and power as Raina is a great counterpoint to Selina using her status as a “trophy wife” to run the town behind her husband’s back. The rest of the comic shows Selina pushing herself to the limit falling through broken glass onto a sports car and then still being able to prance on rooftops to make a mysterious appointment after a quick dip in the tub. Jones’ art continues to be the real draw of the series, and she can convey strength, weakness, or innocence (I think Selina’s host Carlos has a little crush on her.) through a glance, facial line, or body twitch. There’s something about Catwoman and crime thrillers that is just exciting, enjoyable, and a little tragic. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Cemetery Beach #1 (Image)– Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s new series Cemetery Beach is all action and no bullshit as a fast talking, should be faster running pathfinder and his badass assassin companion are on the run from a secret offworld colony’s goons and guards. Howard’s cartooning is splotchy and dynamic, and Ellis lets him cut loose with all kinds of shoot outs, explosions, and vehicular chases. There’s a bit of worldbuilding via witty banter at the beginning, but this is minimalist action storytelling at its most bombastic. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Patrick

Mage: The Hero Denied #12 (Image)** – As the series progresses, I find myself zeroing in on just what it is that isn’t working for me, and it’s this: Kevin Matchstick doesn’t know MageTheHeroDenied_12-1what he wants to fight for. If what he really wanted was to have a quiet life as a family man, he’d completely ignore the Questing Beast and say that a King doesn’t Quest. If what he really wanted was to save his family, he would be tracking down his wife and kid with unstoppable relentlessness, marshalling every iota of power at his command. If he really was a King, he would be moving heaven and earth to save his kingdom and his family and his people. I would hope, after the end of this issue, that the powers that be will smack Matt Wagner upside the head with a copy of The Hero With A Thousand Faces and get this book on some kind of track. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip

Proxima Centauri #3 (Image)** – After the last page of last issue, I was ready for Farel Dalrymple to go deep. Alas, I was sorely disappointed with the ease with which Parasol and Sherwood dispatched of the little blue bots. And just when I thought that the kind of slacker vibe of this series was going to take a turn into something more interesting and powerful. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Skip

The Seeds #2 (Dark Horse/Berger Books)** – In this installment of Ann Nocenti & David Aja’s near-future SF noir, intrepid reporter Astra gets over the Wall and into the Zone to where tech isn’t allowed… except for a price. The revelation of this chapter is handled so casually that it actually enhances the creepiness of this book. Every page is like a trigger warning for people suffering from environmental collapse anxiety, and there is a panel on page 27 that almost made me burst into tears on the subway. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Hey Kids| Comics! #2 (Image)** – Howard Chaykin continues to frustrate me with his BD à clef about the American comics industry. On the one hand, as someone who, as a young writer, couldn’t square my love for comics and my disgust for the comics business, I appreciate Chaykin showing how casually and cruelly people got utterly fucked over. On the other hand, Chaykin’s scattershot approach doesn’t get us deep enough into any one character to really make these fuckings-over the kicks to the balls I want them to be. It may be that this betrays my desire for a certain kind of justice, whereas Chaykin may just be able to square (or at least tolerate) his desire for justice with his intimate knowledge of how the businesses of both comics and movies work. Either way, if Chaykin would straight up put out a book about Gil Kane, that’d be swell with me. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Leage of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest #2 (Top Shelf/Knockabout)** – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill are not playing around. Jimmy B., the new M, hums a certain famous theme song and is everything horrible about the British Empire; Hugo Danner gets headbutted into oblivion on page 3; we get a double-page spread of Nemo’s Lincoln Island; and at the end, another casual holocaust. We are heading for a confrontation between the white supremacy of Bond and the diverse coalition of Nemo, and I can’t help but worry that the former are in the driver’s seat. Overall: 8.5 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/8

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.


Logan

cover 1.jpgCover #1 (DC/Jinxworld) – With authentic, yet understated dialogue, gorgeous visuals that flow from water color to line work with a side dish of collage, and a fantastic spy mystery hook, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack turn in their first creator owned hit for DC Comics. The protagonist Blake Field is obviously a David Mack stand-in, and the story draws from his experiences as a comics creators beginning with the press of con life until a mysterious woman named Julia drops in on his life. Mack uses a different art style depending on her role in the story that keeps the story moving, and in a metafictional touch, we get to see the gorgeous samurai comic that Blake is working on. Fortune and Glory is one of Brian Michael Bendis’ most underrated comics, and it’s nice to see him and one of his finest collaborators dip into that pool again with a pinch of international intrigue to get you to pick up issue 2. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Batman #54 (DC) – With the help of Nightwing, Batman finally almost has time to emotionally deal with being left at the altar by Selina in this emotional and sometimes kookily fun character study by Tom King and Matt Wagner. Wagner’s old school art style works well with the flashbacks to Dick’s first days in Wayne Manor as he comes to terms with the death of his parents and thinks that he’s just another shiny toy to Batman/Bruce and not an adopted son. In a colorful way, King and Wagner show that Batman would much rather punch inconsequential villains like Crazy Quilt (Who can’t sew) and Condiment King than have a heart to heart conversation or lunch. However, Dick understands Bruce’s competitive side and finally gets him to break “brood mode” for a split second panel that shows the importance of his levity and optimistic outlook in spite of great tragedy to the Bat-family. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

 Bully Wars #1 (Image)– With an over the top art style and heavy helping of low brow humor, Skottie Young and Aaron Conley usher Edith, Edward, and Spencer into their first day at Rottenville High. Conley has a fun MAD magazine meets Garbage Pail Kids style of art and goes for the gross out gag or face every time showing a nice gift for caricature. There are some truly funny moments in this book like when the middle school bully Rufus gets his butt handed to him by the high school bully Hock in a scene similar to the climax of Jurassic Park. But the book doesn’t really have anything going for it beyond Conley’s art and goes for cliched prank war jokes instead of more character driven ones.I got a real Dav Pilkey (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Man) vibe so this might be worth handing to your 10 year old sibling/relative/kid… Overall: 5.5 Verdict: Pass

Immortal Hulk #5 (Marvel)– In Immortal Hulk #5, Al Ewing and Joe Bennett finally reveal the monster behind the monster that even Hulk fears. But, first, there’s a giant, uncontrolled throwdown between Hulk and Sasquath, who is definitely not being driven by Walter Langkowski. Bennett and inker Ruy Jose’s fight choreography is ponderous and ungraceful as these two monsters don’t care for human life. However, the Hulk comes across in a sympathetic life for the first time in the serious and uses his abilities in a uniquely positive way. Ewing and Bennett have settled down to tell an American kaiju story about a monster with uncontrollable powers that protects humans from other monsters and causes great direction in his wake. Arguably, the monster boils down to daddy issues, but Bennett sells the story with his EC-esque style art. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Kim Reaper: Monster Island #1 (Oni) – The cutest, raddest queer Goth romance series returns with a twist. Kim, the Grim Reaper in training’s girlfriend Becka has gotten super into watching vampire dramas with her roommate Tyler and really wants to go to an actual vampire island when she finds out that they exist. Sarah Graley’s art style continues to be adorable and twisted, especially when the vampires go berserk. I love Graley’s writing of relationship dynamics as Becka desperately tries to get Kim and Tyler to like each other, but it doesn’t really work. Spookiness and slice of life is such a fun combo, and I’m so glad this sadly underrated title is back from Oni. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Ryan C

BM_Cv54Batman #54 (DC) ** Tom King’s current Bat-run probably doesn’t deserve Matt Wagner, but since they got him for this fill-in issue, it has to be said that at least they make full use of his skills. Yeah, this is a fairly heavy-handed little “then-and-now” comparison of the Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson relationship, but it hits all the right emotional notes and the art, as you’d expect, elevates what would otherwise be an average issue to something fairly special. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

The Dreaming #1 (DC/Vertigo) **- I dunno. There’s nothing wrong with Simon Spurrier’s script for this debut issue, and Bliquis Evely’s art is actually quite nice, but the parameters for what this series is going to be focusing on were already established in “The Sandman Universe” #1, and it’s not like this comic, perfectly competent as it is, really expands on what we already knew in any appreciable way. Worth a look, but it’s not necessarily going to leave you feeling compelled to stick with the title. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Cover #1 (DC/Jinxworld)** – The idea of a superstar comic artist being recruited by the CIA may seem like a bit too much “fan service” — and it is — but what the hell, Brian Michael Bendis’ script for this issue grabs you right away with its premise, the characterization is strong, and all in all it’s just plain fun to read. As for David Mack’s art, it’s a stunning as always, with pitch-perfect colors that accentuate every panel on every page. A genuinely solid debut. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

United States Vs. Murder Inc. #1 (DC/Jinxworld)** – On the other end of the spectrum, the opening salvo of this sequel to a series that really didn’t deserve one is truly lackluster stuff, little more than another tired take on the already-tired “kid assassin” trope. Michael Avon Oeming’s art is quite good, of course, and the dark color scheme really works, but the script feels like Bendis purely going through the motions — which, I suspect, is exactly what he’s doing. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Shean

Asgardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel)– In what feels like the Dirty Dozen but in Thor’s world, we get a rip Roaring adventure from many sidelined characters in the Marvel Universe Overall including Thor’s half sister,Angela.As we get introduced to new character, and an archeologist who may hold the key to finding out exactly what Nebula is looking for. They must also figure out why Nebula is trying to start another Ragnarok. By issue’s end, the team is ready to defeat anyone looking to harm their people.
Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

BullyWars_01-1Come Into Me #3 (Black Mask) ** – Becky and Sebastien struggle for control of the flesh, calling into question who is the host and who is the visitor. Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler continue their creepy Cronenbergian story, interweaving the interior and the exterior as whatever this new creature is lurches and shambles through its transformation, with both Becky and Sebastian alternately driving the story, sharing memories as each looks to offload the other into whatever body is convenient. One of which is Becky’s corpse. Piotr Kowalski well depicts both the “normal” world outside and the glitchy, nightmarish world inside, no easy feat. Another excellent issue. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Bully Wars #1 (Image) **- The new series from Skottie Young, as writer only, and Aaron Conley on art. Ernie, Edith, and Spencer are off to their first day of high school, still being picked on by Rufus, who’s been their bully since kindergarten. But now Rufus has to face the even bigger, badder bullies of high school. Aaron Conley’s art has a fun vibe of over-the-top grossness with lots and lots of gags. But Skottie Young’s story has a huge central problem: Rufus, the bully who’s now in over his head, should be the main character, and he isn’t. He’s the one who has to win the Bully Wars, but it’s geeky Ernie who is our hero, and who utterly inexplicably decides to help Rufus out. It’s all a bit lazy where it could have been a nice reversal of the usual tropes. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip

Stray Bullets #38 (Image/El Capitàn) **- As much as I’m a fan of the series, the one thing that bugs me is when David Lapham goes into Amy Racecar/Lil’ B mode. After last issue’s car crash, Beth struggles to get back into the real world – you know, one of those “trying-to-wake-up-from-a-coma” issues that people pull on you every now and again. One of Lapham’s rare missteps, an issue that should have started on the last page. Overall: 6 Recommandation: Skip



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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