Batman: The World is a first-of-its-kind event featuring stories of Batman from creative teams from around the world.
Story: Brian Azzarello, Mathieu Gabella, Paco Roca, Alessandro Bilotta, Benjamin Von Eckartsberg, Stepan Kopriva, Kirill Kutuzov, Egor Prutov, Ertan Ergil, Tomasz Kolodziejczak, Alberto Chimal, Carlos Estefan, Inpyo Jeon, Xu Xiaodong, Lu Xiaotong, Okadaya Yuichi Art: Lee Bermejo, Thierry Martin, Paco Roca, Nicola Mari, Thomas Von Kummant, Michal Suchanek, Natalia Zaidova, Etham Onur Bilgic, Piotr Kowalski, Rulo Valdes, Pedro Mauro, Jaekwang Park, Junggi Jim, Qiu Kun, Okadaya Yuichi Color: Lee Bermejo, Theirry Martin, Paco Roca, Giovanna Niro, Thomas Von Kummant, Michal Suchanek, Natalia Zaidova, Ethem Onur Bilgic, Brad Simpson, Rulo Valdes, Fabi Marques, Jaekwang Park, Yi Nan Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher, Thierry Martin, Dolores Faraco, Andrea Accardi, Thomas Von Kummant, Michal Suchanek, Olga Varlamova, Aykut Tanay, Tomasz Bratkowski, Eduardo Lopez Castan, Carlos Estefan, Dongmin Baek, Li Xiaobing, Okadaya Yuichi
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
AfterShock Comics 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
I love how Stray Dogs #5 wraps up the comic series but at the same time, I’m not sure I love the issue as a whole. It’s an issue that’s full of action, tense moments, and sadness. But, it also feels a bit “short” and too much of a quick read. The contents of Stray Dogs #5 feels like it’d have been fine in an extended fourth issue than merits an issue on its own. But, it also means the series will likely be a fantastic read once it’s collected.
With a story by Tony Fleecs, the dogs know the truth and the Master is clearly a murderer. They need to escape or they’ll likely meet a deadly fate as well. This means they have two options to fight and to flee. What Fleecs does with this issue is fantastic. It’d be so easy to turn this final issue into a “Home Alone” like battle with the dogs tripping master or setting up obstacles so they can get away. Instead, Fleecs keeps it all grounded. They run and they fight. No tricks, only panicked attempts to escape. It also delivers a sadness to it all in the fact that they’re dogs. They’re boxed in by fast moving cars they don’t know what to do with and have to face a world they don’t know at all.
A lot of that emotion is delivered in the art by Trish Forstner with colors by Brad Simpson. Featuring layouts by Tone Rodriguez and Chris Burnham and work by flatter Lauren Perry, the art continues its amazing Don Bluth-like style. The look and colors creates a sweetness about the dogs it’s hard to not feel bad for them. Their fear and panic ooze off the page. There’s also an interesting bit of reserved quality about the finale. It’d be easy to have gone over the top in the blood and gore. Instead, what’s shown is minimal emphasizing the aspect just enough to make it clear where things stand.
Stray Dogs #5 is a solid ending to the series. It wraps things up nicely with an emotional rollercoaster that at times tugs at heartstrings. But, the issue doesn’t quite stand on its own. It feels like returning to a film “after the break” and in ways is a little unsatisfying as a stand alone issue. Yes, it’s part of a single story but it’s a single story broken up in issues and in this case the issue itself feels a little thin. But, it works so well as part of the whole. If you haven’t read the single issues, it’s a story that sticks the landing and will be a collection that’s well worth picking up when released.
Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodrigeuz, Chris Burnham Flatter: Lauren Perry Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This September, DC takes Batman’s war on crime worldwide in a new hardcover anthology, Batman: The World. This 184-page book is a first-of-its-kind publishing event, featuring Batman stories by top creative teams from across the globe, taking place in their home countries. Batman: The World launches worldwide on Tuesday, September 14, 2021—just in time for Batman Day 2021 (Saturday, September 18, 2021). The complete anthology will be localized to the following international territories: North America, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, China, Korea, and Japan.
Kicking off the anthology is a story from the award-winning duo of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo. In the story titled “Global City,” Batman reflects on his time in Gotham, protecting his city and its inhabitants from all manner of threats. But when he looks beyond the bridges, alleys, and skyscrapers, the Dark Knight realizes that the call for justice knows no borders, as there are wrongs to be righted everywhere. Their story sets off a series of tales chronicling Batman’s past and present, stories told by some of the best-known international voices in comics:
Mathieu Gabella (writer)/Thierry Martin (artist) – France
Paco Roca (writer/artist) – Spain
Alessandro Bilotta (writer)/Nicola Mari (artist) – Italy
Benjamin von Eckartsberg (writer)/Thomas von Kummant (artist) – Germany
Alberto Chimal (writer)/Rulo Valdés (artist) – Mexico
Carlos Estefan (writer)/Pedro Mauro (Artist) – Brazil
Inpyo Jeon (writer)/Jae-kwang Park, Kim Jung Gi (artists) – Korea)
Xu Xiaodong, Lu Xiaotong (writers)/Qiu Kun, Yi Nan (artists) – China
Kirill Kutuzov, Egor Prutov (writers)/Natalia Zaidova (artist) – Russia
Okadaya Yuichi (writer/artist) – Japan
Each international version of Batman: The World will also feature its own unique cover art by the local creative team. International publishing and distribution partners include Urban Comics (France), ECC Ediciones (Spain), Panini (Italy, Brazil, Germany), CREW (Czech Republic), Azbooka-Atticus (Russia), Egmont Polska (Poland), JBC (Turkey), Editorial Televisa (Mexico, Central America), Sigongsa (Korea), Starfish Media (China), and Shopro (Japan).
The previous issue of Stray Dogs had me guessing as to whether “Master” was really a killer or the dogs’ memory made it seem that way. Stray Dogs #4 gives a pretty definitive answer as the house of horrors is revealed. I’m not sure how you can explain away what’s revealed.
In the previous issue, Victor tried to call for help and Earl ratted him out to Master. Victor was then taken out behind the shed where we were left with a “bang”. Stray Dogs #4 picks up on that as panic sets in and the dogs attempt to figure out what happened to Victor. The revelations are a spiral of gross and sickening as the issue just builds and builds until its final moment.
This is house of horrors level of crazy and it’s been impressive that writer Tony Fleecs has kept readers guessing up to this point. But, with all that’s shown in this issue, it’s hard to dismiss any of it. This is a level of crazy that just builds and builds with one horrible thing leading to the next in a series of shocking revelations. Fleecs masterfully builds it all up using the dogs’ reactions to drive home to escalation. He also brilliantly sows dissension among the dogs. Sophie and Rusty attempt to make their case with Earl not wanting to accept the truth.
And that’s part of the brilliance of the issue. We’re not quite sure what is the truth until this issue. You can understand Earl’s reluctance to accept reality. He’s been treated well from what he remembers. But as things build, the panic that sets in is felt and reverberates from the page. It’s everything that works for horror stories in a cute package.
That “package” is delivered through the art of Trish Forstner. With color by Brad Simpson, layouts by Tone Rodriguez, and flatter Lauren Perry, the art continues to be beautiful. The style is classic animation with the dogs being their adorable self. What’s amazing is that mix of tones with this “cute” art juxtaposed with the very horror driven plot. The revelations keep the style but add a sense of terror. The mix is interesting and works really well.
Stray Dogs #4 is a fantastic issue that lays the cards on the table. You find yourself yelling “get out of the house” much like you would a horror film. The build up of revelations is perfectly executed delivering a punch in that last page. This is the issue where the truth is clear and will make you want to see what happens next immediately.
Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodriguez Flatters: Lauren Perry Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Writer: Peter Milligan Artist: Piotr Kowalski Colorist: Brad Simpson Letterer: Simon Bowland Cover: Piotr Kowalski w/ Brad Simpson Incentive Cover: Michael Gaydos $6.99 / 48 pages / Color / On sale 8.18.21
A 19th Century gothic horror of exorcism, demonic worship and epilepsy.
When Aubrey has his first seizure, he’s pulled out of school and hidden away in the family’s remote country estate. His father — a high-ranking English priest — tries to chase the “devil” out of Aubrey — but maybe the devil lurks in the grotesque pagan effigy that dwells on the grounds. And maybe the devil will turn out to be Aubrey’s only ally…
A singular tale of nightmarish terror and creeping enlightenment told against a backdrop of ignorance and brutality, GOD OF TREMORS springs from the fertile imagination of award-winning writer Peter Milligam (OUT OF BODY, Shade the Changing Man, X-Force) with illustrations from Piotr Kowalski (JOIN THE FUTURE, Sex).
Over the last few years, I’d heard about a musical called Hamilton. I’m sure at this point you have too. I knew it was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, that the music was contemporary hip hop, the cast was diverse and that it had something to do with American history, and that people were going batshit crazy about the thing. I had no idea why it was garnering such rabid fans, but I was convinced it wasn’t something I’d be into. I mean, this English metalhead who’s interest in American history has always been pretty much confined to the Wild West/Frontier times could see nothing about Hamilton that tickled my fancy. It was a story set about a hundred years before my interest began, and was about the life of the first treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton. At the time I couldn’t care less about the play.
And so I ignored it when my friend, a musical fan, would bring it up in conversation and suggest that my wife and I listen to the soundtrack. But still, we had no real interest in Alexander Hamilton and his role as a founding father of the United States, so despite repeated entreaties and recommendations to listen to the play, we never pressed play on the soundtrack.
And then the musical landed on Disney +, but we still ignored it.
However after a few months, and mostly spurred by lockdown boredom, my wife decided that we were going to find out what all the hype was about, and so one Sunday afternoon we pressed play and settled in for the show. Honestly, I wasn’t that taken with it. I didn’t hate it, but had no intention to ever watch it again. My wife, however decided to put it on again a few nights later. I sat on the couch with a book and half listened to the music. I’ll admit to enjoying the songs a little more the second time through, and so when my wife sheepishly asked if I minded if she watched it again on the weekend I had no complaints. I picked up my book again and settled in to listen to the music as I read. I glanced up early in the musical (during the first song, I think) and realized she had the subtitles on so she could catch more of the lyrics which turned out to be a game changer.
I didn’t read my book during this viewing, and was glued to the screen as I absorbed the words that bombarded my ears and eyes. The next time she put it on, I didn’t pick up my book (or my phone). I later asked her why she wanted to keep watching it, and she told me that it was partly to understand what was going on but also because the music caught her and so she wanted to watch it again to see whether she’d like it a bit more.
And she did (so did I).
At this point, so many months since we started down the rabbit hole, we’ll often play the soundtrack for background music or have the TV on with Hamilton playing in the background as we clean, read, craft or in my case work. Needless to say, we’re both big fans of the musical. Something that I never expected to happen.
Perhaps an unintended consequence of the musical, is that both my wife and I have become curious about the historical accuracies and story telling liberties within the musical. Over the last few months, I’ve read more about Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr (sir) and Eliza Schuyler Hamilton than I would have ever expected after my first viewing. My wife once spent an entire evening researching Angelica and Peggy after wondering who Angelica’s husband was. Suffice it to say, we’ve spent far more time learning about Hamilton’s place in the American Revolution than either of us would have ever expected.
I’ve come to realize that while the play is a work of genius (from the way the words balance and weave away from each other to the melodies that recur within the play to the choreography – there is so much to take in that there’s no wonder that people fall deeper and deeper into their Hamilton fandom); there’s a few liberties taken with the historical record.
The upside to the obsessive areas of the fandom is that many fans also tend to research the actual historical events and people that we see in the play – my wife and I aren’t unique in having done this.
While Miranda does take some liberties for the most part he gets the essence of the history right (regarding some of the inaccuracies: Angelica was married before she met Hamilton in real life but after in the play; Hamilton met Aaron Burr in 1773 rather than in 1776; there’s more, but if I try and list them then I’ll probably miss one or two and ultimately that’s not the point of this paragraph). But Hamilton, as with so many other movies based on history, was never going to be a one hundred percent historically accurate retelling (it does have to entertain the audience after all) – but it’s close enough so that when you inevitably do decide to do a bit of research you won’t notice any glaring inconsistencies. Given how well the music falls into place the small details he took creative liberty with are more than forgiven in my eyes.
All this is to say that after picking up a few books on Alexander Hamilton, my wife found me a graphic history of the man titled, funnily enough, Alexander Hamilton written by Jonathan Hennessey with art by Justin Greenwood. The reset of the credits includes inking and background assists by Matt Harding, colors by Brad Simpson, and letters by Patrick Brosseau.
The book isn’t a graphic novel or comic in the typical sense, which I found interesting. The majority of the book is told in narration bubbles with the odd supplemental dialogue/speech bubble, which is at odds with modern comics’ tendency to focus on dialogue or internal monologues. The speech bubbles that are in the book tend to be more of an extension What Alexander Hamilton does do is convey the details of the founding father’s life in a very informative and conversational way, and never shies away from depicting Hamilton the man as a less than perfect man. Hennessey puts forward that while Hamilton was a great man, he wasn’t necessarily a good man. He made mistakes, he made decisions that allowed people to take advantage of others, and he was arrogant almost to a fault.
Hennessey’s book gives a lot of context to Miranda’s play, giving more context to lines such as “and the evidence suggests you engaged in speculation.” Speculation was the process of buying the war bonds given to ex soldiers at a pittance hoping the government would pay full value for the pieces of paper that were effectively worthless to the ex-soldiers. With this context, and Hamilton’s position as treasury secretary, it’s much easier to understand why the accusation would be so damning had Hamilton been engaging in the practice. Context such as this would have been hard to include in the play itself, but this is why the book is such a valuable tool – that it’s also easy to read with nice artwork is an added bonus.
Since Hamilton debuted on Disney +, I’ve mentioned to people that I’ve watched it and listened to the soundtrack quite a bit. What they don’t expect is just how much I’ve listened to the soundtrack or watched the movie. I don’t have an exact figure because Disney + doesn’t track it, nor does the old iPod I use in the car and because I’ll use an Alexa device and also Spotify on my phone, I’ve no way to track the exact number of times the songs have played. If I had to guess, I’d wager it’d be close to 500 times between the show and the sound track. Which is crazy when you think about it. Utterly insane.
And yet, I know I’ll watch and listen to it again (probably today).
But I also know that I’ll be going back to that graphic history again because although there’s a lot of truth in the play, I think it’s important to be able to tell where the storytelling takes over – and Alexander Hamilton is a fantastically informative piece of work that taught me new things about the man and his role in shaping America today.
It’s also a really good book, and I’m a sucker for a comic book teaching me history. .
There’s certain combinations out there that works well despite them being opposites. Stray Dogs feels like an example of that. The series delivers a style like Don Bluth that hides the dark interior. Stray Dogs #3 is another instance of that with an issue that has the dogs on edge as they’re convinced their new owner is also a serial killer.
Written by Tony Fleecs, the issue features debate and discovery as the dogs attempt to figure out what’s going on. As readers, it’s clear something isn’t right. The “owner” has a secret and what that is can still be debated. Is he a killer? Is there something more innocent and the dogs are misremembering? Fleecs keeps readers guessing as the dogs themselves struggle to remember what’s going on and what happened in their past.
We’re given some hints and the dogs come across another clue but all of it together can also point to something else going on. As a reader, I think the owner is a killer but at the same time, there’s other explanations as to what has been discovered. It’s easy to see why the dogs are coming to the conclusions they are and part of that is the innocence and cuteness of the art. There’s a combination of the visuals and the story that comes together in weird ways like that.
Those visuals are courtesy of Trish Forstner. They’re beautiful as always. The dogs are cute as can be but there’s a darkness about the comic. There’s a dread that exists. Part of that is helped with the color by Brad Simpson. The color is bright and doesn’t pop. It delivers a slightly darker tone to it all. Tone Rodriguez provides layouts and Lauren Perry is the flatter. The visuals are an interesting one in two instances of the comic (which I don’t want to spoil).
The dogs discover something that’s really head scratching. One thing is hinted at but it doesn’t quite make sense. Visually, it’s done really well hinting at what might be going on but, wouldn’t dogs be able to smell things? There’s also the final scene where there’s a fantastic choice to allow the reader’s imagination to fill in the blank. It’s far worse than anything can be drawn and adds a sense of horror about it all.
Stray Dogs #3 continues the cute dog meets murder mystery. It does so with tension and excitement that builds through the issue. It’s another fantastic entry that’ll keep readers guessing what’s true and what’s not and where things are going from here.
Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodriguez Flatter: Lauren Perry Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
The first issue of Stray Dogs was fantastic delivering a familiar mystery but in a way and from a perspective that’s so new and different. Stray Dogs #2 continues to build on the mystery of what happened to Sophie’s owner all in Don Bluth style visuals.
Written by Tony Fleecs, Stray Dogs #2 is an interesting comic that delivers fear and emotion in unexpected places. The readers can feel for Sophie who feels lost and at the same time something bad has happened. It’s an interesting story in that it’s a murder mystery from a dog’s perspective but it also delivers characters readers can connect to. Every dog has a very distinct personality but it’s Sophie and her new friend Rusty that stand out. Sophie is scared in an unknown place and wants to find out the truth. It also happens Sophie has a horrible memory. Rusty is her one real friend in the bunch and so far has shown a friendship so many long for.
But what Fleecs does that’s truly amazing is keeps the readers guessing. It’s not clear as to what has happened to Sophie’s former owner. Was she murdered? Is Sophie living with the murderer? Is there something else going on? Fleecs teases just enough to keep readers guessing. It also helps build the creep factor into it all.
That’s helped by the art of Trish Forstner. Along with color by Brad Simpson, layouts by Tone Rodriguez, and work by flatter Lauren Perry, the series looks like classic animation, a beautiful almost innocent style that belies the more sinister undertones. Looking at these cute dogs and their antics, you almost forget it’s possible they’re living with a serial killer. The art style disarms the readers in some ways. The art also helps drop Fleecs’ hints. You’re forced to linger on pages and panels looking for the clues as to what has happened.
Stray Dogs #2 is another solid issue that builds upon the mystery. It teases hints and answers but leaves readers guessing. It also builds a dread throughout that you’re not quite sure about. A fantastic series with a familiar concept but a whole new perspective.
Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodriguez Flatters: Lauren Perry Logo/Design: Lauren Herda Pre-Press: Gabriela Downie Story: 8.25 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
AfterShock 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