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Preview: Adora and the Distance

Adora and the Distance

Written by Marc Bernardin
Art by Ariela Kristantina
Colored by Bryan Valenza
Lettered by Bernardo Brice
Edited by Will Dennis
Purchase: comiXologyKindle

Adora and the Distance is a YA fantasy graphic novel following the epic adventures of Adora, a brave young woman of color who lives in a fantastical world with underground pirates, ghosts, and a mysterious force called “The Distance” which threatens to destroy it all.

Marc Bernardin is a WGA Award-winning television writer-producer who has worked on Star Trek: Picard, Carnival Row, Treadstone, Castle Rock, Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina, Masters of the Universe: Revelations, and Alphas. In an earlier life, he was a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Playboy, and Entertainment Weekly. In comics, he’s an Inkpot-winning writer of Genius, The Highwaymen, and Monster Attack Network.

He’s joined in telling this deeply personal story by Ariela Kristantina, an artist from Jakarta, Indonesia. Since her debut in 2014, she’s best known for her work on Insexts, Mata Hari, Deep State, and The Logan Legacy. She has contributed covers and illustrations to a range of companies including Image, DC Comics, Top Cow, Vault and more. In 2021, Ariela co-created Chain with Scott Snyder.

Rounding out the creative team are colorist Bryan Valenza, letterer Bernardo Brice, and award-winning editor Will Dennis, who shepherded Y: The Last Man, 100 Bullets, and Scalped, among others.

Part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content only available on comiXology and Kindle. Read for free as part of your subscription to comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime. Also available for purchase via comiXology and Kindle.

Adora and the Distance

Review: Home #1

Home #1

I had no idea what Home #1 was about when I opened the review pdf just after midnight on Wednesday. Absolutely none – and while that experience was incredible, it’s going to be hard to talk about the comic without talking about the content of the book, so if you want the same experience then stop reading this review now, because frankly this comic is one that you should read.

Still with me?

Fair enough.

So what’s the comic about? Home #1 is the story of a mother and son who have given up everything to come to the United States, by seeking asylum at the border between the USA and Mexico. Given that this comic is set at some point in the last four years, and given the news that has emerged about the Trump Administration’s policy of separating parents and children, you can probably imagine what happens next. But even knowing that, doesn’t make it any easier to read.

Written by Julio Anta with art by Anna Wieszczyk, colours by Bryan Valenza and lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, the comic takes an unfiltered look at what life had been like for asylum seekers during the last four years (am I being too optimistic in thinking that things have changed? I hope not, but I also know that this isn’t an area that I’m an expert in). Anta’s dialogue will tear at your heart, the hope his characters have turning to uncertainty and fear is heartbreaking, and it hits so much harder because of the art work. There’s a distinct shift from warm colours toward cold and clinical greys and blues as Mercedes and Juan Gomez are faced with the reality of their situation.

Home #1 is not easy to read, but I think it’s a story that needs to be read; just because it’s a fictional story, doesn’t make the emotions within the comic any less vivid. The creative team really knows how to punch you in the gut. There’s a slight drop in the art toward the end of the book as things feel a little looser than before, but after reading the book a few times, I’m inclined to think that the looseness is a choice based on the events on the pages themselves.

But there’s still optimism in the story – well, apparently there will quite a lot based on Anta’s afterward, but I don’t know what to think of that at the moment, but there’s definitely signs of a brighter future… maybe. I don’t know. Obviously I believe the writer of the comic, but I’m not seeing anything like that right now.

All I really know about this book is that you need to read this comic.

Story: Julio Anta Artist: Anna Wieszcyk
Colourist: Bryan Valenza Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided a FREE copy for review, but I also purchased the comic

Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – TFAW

Review: Home #1

Home #1

Fuck our immigration system. Fuck taking kids from their parents. Our system is broken and needs vast reform. This is where I’m coming from going in to reading Home #1, the new comic series published by Image Comics. Home follows a young boy who is torn away from his mother while seeking asylum at the U.S. border. The trauma unleashes something within him, causing him to gain superhuman abilities. Yes, that latter part of the concept might sound familiar but it’s the raw and heartbreaking setting within which it happens that is different, though a reality that’s not new.

Written by Julio Anta, Home #1 opens with a riff on real words from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The address was delivered in 2018. The comic follows a mother and her son as they flee their home of Guatemala in hopes of seeking asylum in the United States. What they don’t know is that policy changed while they were making their journey morphing into the horrible policies under former President Donald Trump. Anta doesn’t name Trump or Sessions but the words used, the hate inflicted, the cages, it’s all clear that the administration is the inspiration for this story.

Anta delivers a heartbreaking story. While we’re given only a bit of the details of why these two, Mercedes and Juan Gomez, are fleeing their country, it’s no less difficult to read. The comic gives an overview of the difficult journey of the two but what’s presented is nowhere near the brutal reality many face. And what’s presented is still difficult to read. We’re also taken through the immigration system with guards and bureaucrats whose racism and hate flows from their mouths at ease. The comic reminds us that due to the election of Trump, far too many in the nation felt it was ok to look at others as less than human. That compassion was something that wasn’t deserved. The hate is present.

Anna Wiesczyk‘s art is really nice to look at. With color by Bryan Valenza and lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou the art emphasizes the emotion of its two travelers. It’s heart is in the looks of fear, sadness, and anger. There’s a dip towards the end of the comic where it dips into a bit of a cartoon look that reminded me of Don Bluth but the visuals overall will stick with you. The big thing that stands out though is things are a bit too “clean”.

There’s a worn-down grittiness that’s missing in the art style which stood out to me. But, depending on where the series goes, that style might not work. We’ll see. If anything, the “lighter” style of the art doesn’t quite match the tone and subject for me. It’s good though and if anything lightens up what would be a very dark and emotionally straining comic otherwise.

Home #1 isn’t perfect and has some bumps in its narrative but it’s an important read. The end of the comic is a bit rocky and doesn’t match the quality of everything up to that point. Some dialogue feels a bit comical in its delivery, an unfortunate distraction. But, the majority of the comic is heartbreaking. Home is attempting to address a wrong that persists and it’s doing so through the long tradition of using entertainment as its messenger.

Story: Julio Anta Art: Anna Wiesczyk
Color: Bryan Valenza Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.45 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonTFAW

Travel to Silver City with Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, Luca Merli, and Dave Sharpe

Silver City #1

Writer: Olivia Cuartero-Briggs
Artist & Colorist: Luca Merli
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Roberta Ingranata w/ Bryan Valenza
Incentive Cover: David Lopez
$4.99 / 32 pages / Color / On Sale 5.12.2021

When a young roughneck lands in Silver City, the gritty, purgatorial metropolis of the afterlife, she must adapt to her new existence, while attempting to uncover how and why she died. Her mission is derailed, however, when she rescues a newly dead girl from a mysterious kidnapping attempt, and discovers powerful, kinetic abilities.

Welcome to the Silver City, where the sun never rises and nothing ever changes…until now.

Silver City #1

Helm Greycastle Mixes High Fantasy and Aztec Mythology

Critically acclaimed writer Henry Barajas teams up with artist Rahmat M. Handoko and colorist Bryan Valenza for the all new Latinx fantasy series Helm Greycastle. This four-issue miniseries will launch from Image Comics and Top Cow Productions this April.

Helm Greycastle will also feature alternative covers by such talent as David Lapham, Tony Parker, and Becky Cloonan, along with a bonus Latinx one-shot RPG (5E compatible) written by Tristan J. Tarwater and showcasing art by Jen Vaughn.

In Helm Greycastle, the last dragon prince has been abducted—kept prisoner by an unknown threat: AZTEC MEXICA! Helm Greycastle and his outsider comrades are here to save the prince—but are recruited by a resistance plotting to overthrow Montezuma. Will Greycastle help save the people of MEXICA…or rescue the dragon prince and flee?

Helm Greycastle #1 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, April 28:

  • Helm Greycastle #1 Cover A Handoko & Valenza – FEB210027
  • Helm Greycastle #1 Cover B Lapham – FEB210028      
  • Helm Greycastle #1 Cover C Parker – FEB210029      
  • Helm Greycastle #1 Cover D Cloonan [limited] – FEB210030
Helm Greycastle #1

Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn #1

Horizon: Zero Dawn #1
Titan Comics

When Horizon: Zero Dawn came out on the Playstation 4 back in 2017, I remember feeling a sense of wonder and relief. It was a post-apocalyptic game of sorts, but it wasn’t the dreary and bleak world we’d grown accustomed to as gamers post-Last of Us. Instead, Guerilla Games gave us a lush and living environment with impressive vistas and mechanical beasts that played with both prehistoric and high-tech notions of life. It made for an unforgettable gaming and storytelling experience.

Now, Titan Comics has brought the Horizon universe to the comics world and I’m happy to say the transition is not only successful but also comes off as an obvious next step for the franchise.

Written by Anne Toole, who worked on the game’s script and counts among her writing credits the Assassin’s Creed: Origins “Cursed of the Pharaohs” DLC, and illustrated by Ann Maulina (who has worked as a video game and environment artist), the new Horizon comic centers on Talanah Khane Padish and her hunt for a single machine as per a contract she accepted. Talanah gets injured, but she fights through the pain to continue in her quest even as she meets new characters that might hint at a coming conflict between tribes.

While previous knowledge of the game’s story isn’t a requirement, having at least one playthrough completed will enrich the reading experience considerably. In the game, Talanah is a potential ally for Aloy (Horizon’s main character) and is crucial to the Hunter’s Lodge missions in the story. She becomes Aloy’s sponsor in the Lodge and even helps out during the final battle of the main story.

Having that background helps readers jump straight into the comic. A familiar face is easy to get excited about and foregoes a lot of the trappings of heavy exposition commonly found in first issues. Toole does a phenomenal job in this front, keeping as much as possible up to the reader to figure out. Nothing is spelled out, but all the narrative elements are there for readers to piece together what the story’s world is about. Thankfully, new readers can also follow Talanah’s story with minimal understanding of the universe. This is where Maulina’s art comes in.

Horizon’s world is nothing short of breathtaking. The contrast between mechanical dinosaurs and human characters designed like they come from a high tech Stone Age is very unique to the PS4 game and Maulina has captured it faithfully in the comic book page. That same sense of wonder and danger that one gets while playing the game transfers over to the comic, with vibrant colors and deadly machines inhabiting a blossoming natural word. Having played the game, I felt as if the story’s energy mimicked that of the game’s. The thrill of the hunt and the adrenaline rush that comes with hunting robo-dinos is as present here as it is in the game.

Titan Comics

Toole’s scripting, on the other hand, also finds ways to incorporate video game winks into the overall design of the story with panels showing characters doing things player can do in-game. Whether it’s Talanah throwing a rock to distract the machines or walking on a tight-rope to cross a river, these instances bring players back to the game if only briefly to link up both experiences.

Whether the Horizon comic will continue to expand upon the game’s universe or simply follow within the lines of an extended side quest remains to be seen. Aloy is a part of the story, but it feels as if Talanah’s the lead. Fortunately, Talanah is well-crafted and can help fans bridge both comic and gaming experiences into a cohesive whole. In all honesty, any excuse to venture back into the world of Horizon is good enough for me–and with Horizon 2 already confirmed for the Playstation 5–this comic does a wonderful job of giving fans enough reasons to continue the journey.

Story: Anne Toole Art: Ann Maulina
Color: Bryan Valenza Letterer: Jim Campbell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0
Recommendation: Replay Horizon and make sure to finish the Frozen Wilds DLC

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus Comics

NYCC 2019: A Wave Blue World’s Exclusives and Signings

New York-based publisher A Wave Blue World celebrates the launch of their two latest titles, Mezo and Dead Legends, at their hometown show, New York Comic Con, held at the Jacob Javits Center from October 3 to 6.

Set up in the Small Press Area, booth #1341, A Wave Blue World will have the first issues of Mezo and Dead Legends available with both the Premier Edition covers as well as the NYCC exclusive variant editions. The Mezo variant features art by Mike Choi, while the Dead Legends variant features art by Al Barrionuevo and Bryan Valenza. Both exclusive covers will be limited to 200 copies and sell for $10 each.

Fans will also have the chance to get these comics signed, as the creators for both titles will be in attendance. This includes Mezo writer Tyler Chin-Tanner, artist Josh Zingerman, and Premier Edition cover artist Claudia Iannicello. For Dead Legends, the writer/artist team of James Maddox and Gavin Smith will be on hand. (See signing schedule below for full details).

In addition, A Wave Blue World will be promoting the upcoming release of their Dead Beats anthology (Oct 16) with a limited edition mini-print to be given away to the first 500 fans. Come get it signed during the event at booth #1341 featuring a number of contributors including Liana Kangas, Cameron DeOrdio, Steenz and more!

Signing Schedule

Thursday, October 3

  • 2 – 3pm: MEZO signing with Tyler Chin-Tanner & Claudia Iannicello

Friday, October 4

  • 1 – 2pm: ALL WE EVER WANTED signing with Ariela Kristantina, Matt Miner, Lela Gwen, Eric Palicki, Wendy Chin-Tanner & more
  • 2 – 3pm: MEZO signing with Tyler Chin-Tanner & Claudia Iannicello
  • 3 – 4pm: DEAD LEGENDS signing with James Maddox & Gavin Smith
  • 4- 5pm: DEAD BEATS signing with Liana Kangas, Cameron DeOrdio, Steenz, Matt Summo, Renfamous, Joe Corallo, Eric Palicki & more.

Saturday, October 5

  • 2 – 3pm: MEZO signing with Tyler Chin-Tanner, Josh Zingerman & Claudia Iannicello
  • 3 – 4pm: DEAD LEGENDS signing with James Maddox & Gavin Smith

Sunday, October 6

  • 2 – 3pm: MEZO signing with Tyler Chin-Tanner, Josh Zingerman & Claudia Iannicello

Portfolio Reviews

  • Sunday, 11am -12pm: A Wave Blue World Editorial Director Joseph P. Illidge will be reviewing portfolios and offering advice for aspiring creators looking to break into the comic book business. Joseph has also served as editor DC Comics on the Batman titles, Senior Editor for Lion Forge Comics, and Executive Editor for Valiant Entertainment.

Panel Schedule

Wonder Women – Female CEOs
Thursday, October 3rd 6:30 PM-Room 1B03 – Javits Center

One day a female comic publisher will be standard – until then we have Wonder Women! All panelists are female-owned and operated comic publishers. These ladies lead by example: Sandy King Carpenter (Storm King Comics), Paula Garces (The World of Aluna), Tina Fine (OffGirl), and Wendy Chin-Tanner (A Wave Blue World) with moderator Lisa Y. Wu (A Wave Blue World).

“Crazy” Talk: Mental Health, Pop Culture, and the Future
Friday, October 4th 9:00PM-Room 1A02 – Javits Center

Does mental health represent the next wave of diversity in comics, or is that just “crazy” talk? Alex Segura (Co-President, Archie Comics), Lisa Y. Wu (VP Sales & Marketing, A Wave Blue World), Heather Antos (Editor, Valiant Entertainment), Jim Higgins (freelance writer, editor, consultant), and Matt Miner (GWAR, DEATH TRAP) join forensic psychiatrists Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., and Praveen Kambam, M.D., (Broadcast Thought) to discuss the state of mental health media representation and how a mental health/pop culture partnership can be a “win-win” for both the entertainment industry and people with mental illnesses. Moderated by attorney Jeff Trexler (The Comics Journal, The Beat).

Super Asian America
Sunday, October 6th 3:45PM -Room 1A02 – Javits Center

From reviving the romcom genre to battling the forces of evil as the Marvel superhero Shang Chi, Asian Americans are constantly pushing the envelope in Hollywood. At the same time, it’s a never-ending battle for us to represent our own American way. Join Racebending for our 4th annual Super Asian America panel at NYCC as we talk Asian American rep with Greg Pak (Agents of Atlas), Keith Chow (Nerds of Color), Lisa Y. Wu (VP, Sales & Marketing, A Wave Blue World), and more.

Humanoids’ Omni #1 Heads Back for a Second Printing

Humanoids is going back to press for the debut issue of Omni, the breakout hit series from the company’s new H1 Ignition shared universe. Omni #1 by writer Devin Grayson, artist Alitha E. Martinez, and colorist Bryan Valenza, with lettering by A Larger World Studios, has received widespread critical acclaim. Both the second printing of OMNI issue 1 and issue 2 will be published on September 25, 2019.

Omni #1 2nd printing

Review: Omni #1

Omni #1

HumanoidsH1 universe really gets ignited with the release of Omni #1. Cecelia Cobbina is a gifted and young doctor who mysteriously acquires superpowers and quickly discovers that she’s not the only one. There are people all over the planet Igniting with powers, but only her power can answer “why”…

Written by Devin Grayson, Omni #1 plants a flag early as to what to expect. It’s blending of the real world and fantastical keeps up the more grounded feel of the H1 universe. In this case, it all revolves around Dr. Cecelia Cobbina. The use of the very real Doctors Without Borders and the situations they find themselves in creates a beginning that’s easier to relate to. This isn’t a world we have to imagine as much as it is the world we live in.

Grayson also delivers an intriguing character who is at both likeable and not. Cobbina is brilliant and she knows it. There’s a bit of arrogance there. At the same time, Grayson delivers a character who’s unsure of herself and what’s happening to her. She can think faster than the speed of light and answer almost any question. And with that comes questions and in some ways overconfidence in one’s ability. It’s all there and subtlely done. We get a layered character right out of the gate.

The art by Alitha E. Martinez is fantastic. Like the character and settings, there’s a grounded sense of design that we can relate to. Bryan Valenza‘s colors helps with that. The detail in body language and a look on a face tell as much of the story as the dialogue does.

Omni #1 is a solid debut that takes superhero stories in a different direction. There’s a scientific focus here and I hope a focus on STEM going forward. This is a dive into the H1 world looking at it as a mystery and puzzle to solve, there’s an attempt to answer questions. It’s a different take on the saturated superhero genre. And it stands out due to that.

Story: Devin Grayson Art: Alitha E. Martinez
Color: Bryan Valenza Letterer: A Larger World Studios
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Humanoids provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Omni #1

Omni #1

Writer: Devin Grayson
Artist: Alitha E. Martinez
Colors: Bryan Valenza
Letters: A Larger World Studio
Cover Artist: Mike McKone
On Sale Date: August 14, 2019

A young doctor mysteriously acquires superpowers and quickly discovers that she’s not the only one. There are people all over the planet Igniting with powers, but only her power can answer “why”…

Cecelia Cobbina is a gifted doctor. Vibrant, compassionate and praised by both her peers and her patients. But that was before the incident in Africa. Before she was forced to leave her job at Doctors Without Borders behind. Before she gained the ability to think faster than the speed of light. Overwhelmed with the power to answer almost every question, she must now overcome her own fears and tackle the one code she can’t seem to break: the truth behind the ignited.

Omni #1
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