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Review: Dark Ages #2

Dark Ages #2

Tom Taylor is a master of the dystopian comic story. With stories like Injustice and DCeased for DC, he’s shown the heroes we know other fallen from good or struggling to survive. He takes the characters we know and puts them up against impossible odds with no issue having them fail. Marvel‘s Dark Ages is about what happens after that failure. After stopping an immense being called the Unmaker, Earth is enveloped in an E.M.P. that has shut down all of the technology. The first issue left us with a world that had gone dark, Dark Ages #2 shows us what comes after.

Impressively, Taylor subverts some of the expectations going into Dark Ages #2. This isn’t a world that is crumbling with roving gangs battling it out. The heroes and villains that remained eventually found a better way for everyone and worked together. That’s what the issue takes us through, the history and the more hopeful, smaller world that now exists. It’s an interesting twist compared to Taylor’s previous work. There’s absolutely some carnage but all of that is mentioned giving us the history to the now. It’s in the past as the people that remain have moved forward to work towards something greater and better. It’s weirdly… hopeful. But, can you do an entire comic of that? Where’s the fun!? Taylor delivers twists and turns in Dark Ages #2 and by the end the danger and conflict to come is clear.

What’s great is Taylor has really thought about this world. The comic is full of small details that makes it all feel “lived in” and more real in so many ways. Alarm systems and how the heroes and villains use their powers to keep things going are interesting and there’s clearly ideas mapped out in how all of this works. Those small details help add depth to the comic and adds to the enjoyment as we see how the world has adatped.

Some of that detail is due to Iban Coello‘s art. There’s so many visual queues as to what has happened to the world and how it, and the survivors, have changed. Along with color by Brian Reber and lettering by Joe Sabino, the combination of the trio gives us a comic that feels a little bit grimy but in a way you’d expect for a world without technology. There’s a bit of dirtiness about it all that adds to the realism and sucks the reader in. The designs for everyone really stands out though. The changes are fantastic blending classic superhero looks with an almost steampunk flair about it. It never quite crosses over into any one genre instead it feels cobbled together like would really happen.

Dark Ages #2 is a fantastic second issue. The first setup the world to come and this issue gives us the conflict to come while also going over the history that was. Such a solid story that it’s one to not be missed and feels like a classic Marvel alternate future in the making.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Iban Coello
Color: Brian Reber Letterer: Joe Sabino
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Gregg Hurwitz, Mark Texeira, and Brian Reber Get Knighted

KNIGHTED

Story: Gregg Hurwitz
Art: Mark Texeira 
Colors: Brian Reber
Release Date: November 3
Final Order Cutoff: October 11
Cover A Code: SEP211337 
Cover B Code: SEP211338

Heroes never die.

In this action-packed adventure set in the universe of The Resistance, Gregg Hurwitz (Legends of the Dark Knight, Vengeance of Moon Knight), Mark Texeira (Ghost Rider, Wolverine), and Brian Reber (X-Men: Legacy, Spider-Man/Deadpool) introduce a masked vigilante for the 21st Century. Bob RyDee is a hapless bureaucrat whose bad luck streak comes to a crescendo when he accidentally kills the city’s masked vigilante, The Knight. Oops. Now, Bob is forced to take on the mantle of the legendary hero before the city descends into chaos. Good thing he’s got The Knight’s former butler/assistant to show him the ropes.

Knighted

Review: Telepaths #1

Telepaths #1

AWA Studios has been an interesting publisher. There’s a string of releases that have all been worthy checking out at least the first issue and numerous series to dive in and enjoy. J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the creators who have really taken advantage giving us a whole new world to escape into with The Resistance. Straczynski looks like he might be repeating that with Telepaths #1, a new series with an intriguing concept.

A solar flare threatens the Earth with an unknown impact to come. Telepaths #1 lays out the numerous pieces of the puzzle of what that impact will be in both good and bad ways. The issue is a hodgepodge of moments with various characters in numerous situations. Some of it plays out while some of it is just left on the shelf. A Presidential aide, a police officer, a convict, and more all get a snapshot as we’re introduced to their situations. It’s the calm before the storm and it’s the storm that’s the interesting aspect.

The solar flare, it’s clear by the end, has granted some individuals telepathic abilities. But, it’s the moments during impact that are the most intriguing. We see the failure of technology and the chaos it causes as the flare hits the planet. Accidents are plenty as it seems the whole world takes a nap for a little while. The whole world missing some time is a concept that feels familiar but it’s a small aspect of the bigger story. The fallout of it all is what stands out as individuals come to realize what has happened. Telepaths #1 is a solid tease of what’s to come, the opening moments of a big-budget film.

It’s no surprise that Steve Epting‘s art looks great. With color by Brian Reber and lettering by Sal Cipriano, Telepaths #1 has a style about it that ads to the cinematic quality of the story. Other than a couple of characters looking too similar, there’s a grounded aspect to everything that makes it all clicks. In fact, the art could have gone even more over the top in the chaos and it’d still have worked. Epting chooses to give us a big picture of the damage without a sensational aspect that might pull us out of the story.

Telepaths #1 is an interesting start to the series. There’s some aspects that are absolutely great. There’s some aspects that are thrown in there and feel like they don’t go anywhere. It’s clear they will eventually but we have one issue to review right now. There’s a making of a great series within and hopefully with the second issue we get to see the impact of this event with those lingering plotlines. For now, it’s a good start with a lot of potential.

Story: J. Michael Straczynski Art: Steve Epting
Color: Brian Reber Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Dark Ages #1

Dark Ages #1

Going into the comic, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect in Dark Ages #1. Is it some “mini event” that entertains but has little impact? Is it some major event? All I was sure of was it has something to do with technology failing and society starting over, at least that’s the sense I got. With Tom Taylor writing and Iban Coello on art, no matter what was inside, I was pretty sure I’d be entertained.

Taylor has become a master at delivering alternate takes on superheroes throwing them into dystopian worlds like DC’s Injustice and DCeased line of stories. Even in those rather dark and bleak stories Taylor delivers stories that feature hope. He knows how to nail the emotional ride of such stories. By every indication of Dark Ages #1, we’re getting more of that.

Dark Ages #1 is an interesting comic as it’s not quite clear if this is during normal continuity at first or not. After a while, we get a better sense of how it “fits” into Marvel’s universe and as those questions are answered it’s easier to get into the story, especially knowing what those answers mean. And it means Taylor can have some fun. Like his alternate world work with DC, this series hits you in unexpected ways. Heroes die. The heroes fail. And that’s the basis of the story, what if the heroes didn’t save the day? What happens after? But, even in that bleak idea, Taylor delivers a glimmer of hope.

Iban Coello‘s art delivers as expected. Joined by Brian Reber on color and Joe Sabino on lettering, there’s just enough spectacle to nail home how tragic these events are but never overwhelms. We see cities destroyed, buildings collapse, and heroes die, but there’s never a moment so shocking it hits you and takes you out of the story. Instead, there’s just a sadness about it. You get a sense of the scale of the disaster but there’s a focus on key moments and characters to set up the “humanity” of what’s happening. As the issue closes, the art kicks it up a notch delivering hints as to what’s to come and what we can expect.

Dark Ages #1 is a solid start. Taylor is delivering yet another spin on classic characters in a new world and setting. The debut sets the bar as what we can expect and the answer is everything. No one is safe and we’re being delivered a solid spin and direction it seems like. If you like Taylor past similar work, this is a start that’s well worth checking out.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Iban Coello
Color: Brian Reber Letterer: Joe Sabino
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1

Marvel Voices Identity #1

As a child growing up, I yearned to see myself in the entertainment I enjoyed. I remembered watching TV and movies and rarely saw an Asian face. When we did show up, we were mostly background players. Thankfully, I had Kung Fu Theater, but most of those movies came off cartoonish and were made in the 1960s and 1970s.

Fast forward to today and we are getting our first Asian superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while along the way, strides have been made across all media. We have had three Asian centered television shows to grace. We also have a boom of Asian creativity across the Diasporas that have never been seen before. On the precipice of the Shang Chi movie being released, Marvel has released the one-shot, Marvel’s Voices Identity #1, where the House Of Ideas showcase some of their greatest heroes which just so happens to be Asian.

In “What Is Vs What If”, Shang Chi is challenged by the alternate version of himself if chose not defy his father. In “That One Thing”, Jubilee visits her parents’ graves and revisits her childhood through memories. In “Jimmy Woo 1959”, Jimmy uses his genius to help an alien that almost gets killed by an Army battalion. In “Seeing Red”, Kamala Khan while visiting family helps the local hero in Karachi. In “Personal Heroes”, Wave fights a water monster in her hometown with a hero she idolizes, Bishop. In “Singular/Plural”, Silhouette agonizes over the dating scene, blaming her disability for meeting eligible men, but one encounter, leads her to realize she needs to step out of her own shadow. In “Traditional Pink Sushi”, Armor and Silver Samurai, argue over how to make sushi and eventually realizes traditions are something to be renewed. In the last story,” New York State of Mind”, Silk and Amadeus Cho gets their day off interrupted, as they get into a fight the scarecrow on top of the Statue of Liberty.

Overall, Marvel’s Voices Identity #1 is an entertaining set of stories which not only highlight these heroes but also the excellent creators. The stories by the different creators are wondrous. The art by the different artists are beautiful. Altogether, Marvel’s Voices Identity #1 is a comics which introduces readers to these heroes and these talented creators.

Story: Gene Luen Yang, Christina Strain, Maurene Goo, Greg Pak, Sabir Pirzada, Jeremy Holt, Alyssa Wong, Ken Niimura
Art: Marcus To, Sunny Gho, Jason Loo, Lynne Yoshii, Sebastian Cheng, Creees Lee, Brian Reber, Darren Shan, Mashal Ahmed, Neeraj Menon, Alti Firmansyah, Irma Kniivila, Whilce Portacio, Jay David Ramos, Ken Niimura
Story: 10 Story: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Sinister War #1

Sinister War #1

When writer Nick Spencer‘s run on Spider-Man began, it was an enjoyable and fun start that felt pretty welcoming to new readers. An impressive amount of issues later, his run is beginning to wrap up and part of that is Sinister War bringing together various groups of villains for something… along with Mephisto… and Dr. Stange. Sinister War #1 isn’t so much an entry into the event and Spencer’s end-run but the continuation of years of continuity that’s almost impenetrable to new readers.

For those that don’t know the general story, there’s multiple groups of “(fill in word) Six” villains. They all seem to not get along. They either want to fight each other or are pissed about a movie made. For those that didn’t read the Mary Jane miniseries, MJ has made a film and the director is a “reformed” Mysterio. Yeah… Then there’s Mephisto doing his thing which seems like a reference to that so loved “One More Day” storyline. I’m not quite sure. There’s so much packed into the issue that not a lot is explained and there’s just a lot of hints. Then there’s the whole Kindred thing… It’s a jumbled mess.

When events kick off with a miniseries first issue like this, there’s an opportunity to ease new readers in as well as move the story along. A successful issue does exactly that. Instead, this issue just continues everything Spencer has been doing as if it’s just another issue of Amazing Spider-Man. If you’re not caught up, tough luck. It’s the exact opposite of what a solid “event” debut should be and by the end of the issue, I was turned off and resigned to wait for the new creative team to take over in a few months.

Mark Bagley‘s art is… decent. There’s a lot packed into the issue and it’s cool to see Bagley’s take on each of the characters but none of it really pops. I know folks love Bagley’s work on Spider-Man but it’s never been a style that has really hooked me. For me, it’s good, not great. Bagle is joined by Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, and Andy Owens in inks, color by Brian Reber, and lettering by Joe Caramagna. The art is really good at times and at others falls a little flat. It doesn’t help the story is choppy, the art doesn’t pick up the slack making a smooth narrative.

Sinister War #1 had me excited going into the comic. The idea of rival villain groups battling it out sounds like it could be fun and entertaining. But, the story is more a continuation of what’s been going on in Amazing Spider-Man. It’s not a jumping-on-point, just a spin-off to pack everything in and check off storylines. It’s definitely a pass for those who haven’t been reading the series already.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Mark Bagley
Ink: Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, Andy Owens Color: Brian Reber Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 5.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Black Cat Annual #1

Black Cat Annual #1

Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, gets stuck in South Korea and is forced into a team-up with White Fox and Tiger Division in Black Cat Annual #1. Their target? The super-powerful Taegukgi, who is working for a local crime lord. However, it goes from bad to worse when they find said crime lord and all of his henchmen dead, meaning someone else is now in control of a very deadly superhero.

One thing I’ve really enjoyed with the annuals this year from Marvel is that the stories have felt a bit different, from Iron Man being a mentor to Miles Morales in the Iron Man annual to the team-up with Tiger Division in this issue. I do wish these were just a bit bigger. I’m a fan of the old 64-page annuals. Back to Black Cat Annual #1, it’s nice to see some newer characters get a bit more use and if remembering correctly, collectors made a big deal out of Taegukgi’s first appearance. The fact that Black Cat ends up with a bomb planted in her neck and spends large amounts of time complaining about it to White Fox did seem a bit played out. Is there just no other way to get help from someone than by booby-trapping them?

Nick Fury’s story in the second part dealing with the infinity gems has been a better use of pages than some of the stories in the older annuals but to me, this chapter just seemed a bit too brief. Go figure. And if I guessed who the shadowy figure is, then I am a bit more excited to follow where this story goes. However, there’s a part of me that thinks It’s just more of Marvel Comics trying to make all their books feel just like their cinematic endeavors. It’s a little thing but they used to be called the infinity GEMS. If they had any stones, they’d go back to calling them that.

I thought the creative team did a fine job on this book. Jed MacKay wrote both parts of this book and one thing that stood out to me was his characters do “sound” different from one another. I liked Juan Ferreyra’s art better in the second half story. I really thought the style added to the story. And in saying that, Joey Vazquez’s art was good, too. I just preferred one to the other.

You could certainly do worse than buying or reading Black Cat Annual #1. It just didn’t feel like that much of a throwaway story and I’m also glad to see a character like Black Cat getting the much-needed push. I think those that read this issue have probably never heard of the added characters in this issue but that’s okay, you have to start somewhere. This issue was definitely worth a read.

Story: Jed MacKay Art: Joey Vazquez and Juan Ferreyra
Color: Brian Reber Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Exclusive Preview: Black Cat #5

Black Cat #5

(W) Jed MacKay (A) Michael Dowling (C) Brian Reber (L) Ferran Delgado
(CA) Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia (VCA) Carlos Pacheco
Rated T+
In Shops: Apr 14, 2021
SRP: $3.99

THE CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG!
• The Black Fox has sent Felicia and her crew to steal all kinds of items from all the ends of the Marvel U. But why?
• You’ll only find that plan here as there is zero chance you’ve guessed it already.

Black Cat #5

Preview: E-Ratic #4

E-Ratic #4

(W) Kaare Andrews (A/CA) Kaare Andrews
In Shops: Mar 17, 2021
SRP: $3.99

You’re fifteen years old. You’re suddenly granted incredible powers. Cool, right? There’s only one problem: you can only use your powers for ten minutes at a time. What do you do when you have to save the world but only have ten minutes to do it? This is the problem faced by Oliver Leif, a teenager who has just moved to a new town, and a new school, and is having a hard enough time navigating classes and his crush before the inter-dimensional monsters started showing up.

E-Ratic #4

Preview: Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #16

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red (2020-) #16

Written by Frank Tieri
Pencils Tom Fowler
Inks Tom Fowler
Color: Brian Reber
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Digital Release Date December 22 2020

“’Twas The Night Before Quinn-mas”
Harley thought she was doing a good deed by busting up the ring of crooks that stole all of Coney Island’s Christmas presents – but when her Gang gets a little overzealous and the gifts all wind up roasting in an open fire, the task of replacing every single one lands in her distinctly un-Santa-like lap!

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red (2020-) #16
Almost American
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