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Review: Shadowman #4

Shadowman #4

Shadowman #4 finds Jack Boniface in London, England to track down another villain of the week. The way in which writer Cullen Bunn has been telling standalone stories every issue linked by an over arching theme has been a strong feature of the series so far, and I’m loving how the story is coming together.

Before we get to that though I’ve got to mention, once again, how much I love the recap page as told by Samedi. It adds a brilliant flavour to the book and lets you know to look out for the odd dry line here and there which turn out to be far funnier than one would necessarily expect from a horror book. Well, at least far funnier than I would expect, at any rate. Shadowman has been one of the incredibly rare comics that has me reading this page even though I know what happened before, because I enjoy the way it’s retold.

I also love the relationship between Shadowman and Samedi within the comic, too. It’s easily one of the highlights for me every issue.

The comic, written by Bunn, with art by Jon Davis-Hunt and colors by Jordie Bellaire, is by far and wide the best thing Valiant has published in a while, but it’s also among the very best of comics that are coming out right now. For my money (and despite getting review copies, I’m still buying this) Shadowman tops everything being published right now – the only asterisk is Scout Comic’s By The Horns, which is also simply incredible. It’s hard for me to overstate how much I love this book, and even harder to stay away from too much hyperbolic wording.

The combination of Davis-Hunt and Bellaire balance Bunn’s writing with a beautifully vibrant and often grotesque imagery. The art isn’t of the photo-realistic variety, but I wouldn’t change it for a moment – this is how I see Shadowman man now, and I hope we continue to see this creative team together on the character long after the story is concluded.

Shadowman is simply amazing in every way. There’s not much else to be said.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.7 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

Preview: Shadowman #4

SHADOWMAN #4

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by JON DAVIS-HUNT
Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE
Letters by CLAYTON COWLES
Cover A by JON DAVIS-HUNT
Cover B by MICHAEL WALSH
Cover C (Horror Movie Homage) by JUAN GIMENEZ
Pre-order Cover by DECLAN SHALVEY
On sale JULY 28th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Masters of Horror Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt bring Shadowman’s descent into the darkness of London.

Danger is a drug and it’s deep in the veins of mankind. Shadowman’s on a quest to find the source of his hallucinations and Jack has less control than he once thought. The worst has happened… Deadside has arrived.

SHADOWMAN #4

Get a First Look at Batman ’89 #1 out on August 10

Step back into the Gotham of Tim Burton’s seminal classic Batman movies on August 10! Batman ’89 by screenwriter Sam Hamm and artist Joe Quinones will pull on a number of threads left dangling by the prolific director in an incredible new six-issue comic book miniseries!

Gotham City is being torn in two as citizens dressed as Batman and The Joker duke it out in the streets! As D.A. Harvey Dent tries to keep the city together, he targets the one problem tearing it apart: BATMAN! And he’ll get Bruce Wayne’s help in taking down the Dark Knight!

DC has released a first look at the series including some of the variant covers coming and a look at some of the upcoming covers too!

Batman ’89 #1 by Sam Hamm, Joe Quinones, Leonardo Ito, and Clayton Cowles arrives on August 10 with a cover by Quinones, plus variant covers by Jerry Ordway (open to order) and Quinones (1:25):

Several comic shops will also be offering either a Batman ‘89 #1 team variant by Ken Taylor and Taurin Clarke, or their own shop-specific cover alongside the standard Batman ‘89 covers and variants:

Batman ’89 #1 variant cover by Francesco Mattina, available from Comic Kingdom of Canada

Batman ’89 #1 variant cover by Mico Suayan, available from Big Time Collectibles

Batman ’89 #1 variant cover by Mico Suayan, available from Big Time Collectibles

Batman ’89 #1 variant cover by Carla Cohen, available from Comics Elite

Batman ’89 #1 variant cover by Carla Cohen, available from Comics Elite

Coming up in the Batman ’89 run:

Review: Ordinary Gods #1

Ordinary Gods #1

The idea of gods living among us isn’t a new concept but it seems like one that has found a new wave of popularity. New comics, books, and television shows seem to have multiplied in recent years and each takes on the concept in its own unique way. Ordinary Gods #1 kicks off the latest example of that delivering two worlds that feel like they’re on a crash course.

Kyle Higgins delivers an opening chapter with Ordinary Gods #1 that packs in a lot. Not only do we get the “here and now” but also the background of the story and characters. Some of the progression of each is a little odd but on the whole by the end of the first issue everything is clear and the story has been set.

Higgins allows us to get to know some of the characters a bit, mainly focusing on the center of it all. That results in a slight disconnect and almost Terminator “come with me if you want to live” aspect to the debut. Mix that with a fairytale recounting of an uprising and banishing and Ordinary Gods #1 feels like an interesting blend of genres.

As I said, it’s not all smooth. The issues jumps back and forth between the setup and the now. It makes for some awkward transitions and it might have been better to focus on the setup and then transition into the present like an almost dream. It’s not bad but makes for a slightly choppy reading at times.

Felipe Watanabe‘s art is fantastic. Along with Frank William on color and lettering by Clayton Cowles, Ordinary Gods #1 has the difficult task of taking three settings and making them all work together. There’s the fantasy setting of the gods with each region having its own distinct personality that still needs to feel like the same world. Then there’s some action elements that feel right out of John Wick. Finally, there’s the focus of a young boy and his family in suburbia. And, impressively, it all works together for a look that feels like one world.

Ordinary Gods #1 is a solid debut that has a bit of a Terminator quality about it. A mystery person shows up to protect an individual who’s needed to lead the rebellion. It’s a concept we’ve seen many times before but the settings and characters make it all feel new and unique. It’s a solid start for a potentially very intriguing series.

Story: Kyle Higgins Art: Felipe Watanabe
Color: Frank William Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Batman #110

Batman #110

The highlight of DC’s “Future State” was its Batman line of comics. It featured a neon Gotham under the watchful fascist eye of a new security force that has cracked down on “masks”. In the current Batman line of comics, we’re seeing the seeds of that possible future laid out and what turned Gotham from a grimy city to a futuristic fascist state. Batman #110 has Batman confronting Peacekeeper-01 and the city inching further towards its dark future after an attack on City Hall.

James Tynion IV has really come into a groove when it comes to this series. The current focus has a great mix of action, tension, and political maneuvering. It also has some small bumpy moments I have trouble getting over. The issue really comes down to Simon Saint’s plan coming into focus. The attack on City Hall and threat of Scarecrow have the Mayor forced to get into business with Saint. We, the reader, know that Saint is behind all of this creating unrest so he can gain influence and power. What the actual end goal for Saint isn’t quite clear beyond having his Magistrate program launched. Even in Future State Saint’s ultimate goal wasn’t clear beyond just being a rich asshole.

Where the issue is bumpy is Batman himself. In his battle, Peacekeeper-01 admits to everything. Batman has the evidence in a confession that Saint and Peacekeeper-01 are behind all of the current issues. So, being Batman, wouldn’t he have a way to record this and release it? It feels like when a villain confesses he probably should use that. It’s a hole I kept coming back to.

But, Tynion does a fantastic job of making Peacekeeper-01 Batman’s equal if not better in some ways in Batman #110. It feels like an actual tough fight. There are moments I’m really unsure if Batman will win and if he does, how? We’ve got a new villain who can go toe to toe with one of the best DC has to offer. And, it doesn’t feel unrealistic as to why or how. Tynion keeps it simple in some ways and it works all the better for it.

The art by Jorge Jimenez is amazing. With color by Tomeu Morey and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the action and tension is perfect. The issue blends those shocking reveals and desperate moments for a comic that ups the stakes and really moves the story forward. What’s great is that Batman’s wearing down is a slow progression. There’s no quick blow, it’s an actual fight and brawl and we get to see what Batman’s up against as that progresses. As the issue goes on, we see that slowly wear on Batman as he realizes what he’s up against and what he needs to do resulting in a breathtaking escape beautifully rendered.

The issue also continues the “Ghost-Maker” backup story also written by Tynion. It’s another fantastic entry that has me liking this new character more and more with each chapter. It features art by Richard Lopez with color by Romulo Fajardo, Jr. and lettering by Clayton Cowles. Each chapter has been fantastic with villains recounting their encounter with the hero. And we get to learn more about his abilities and why he’s such a great foe. But, there’s a question building as to where this character was in “Future State” and if he could take on Peacekeeper-01?

Batman #110 ups the action and really gets the ball rolling even more. It’s a hell of an issue where the cards are laid out on the table and we can see the “fall of Gotham”. We get a villain that feels like Batman’s equal but left with questions as to how stupid people are, because it’s clear as to who’s behind everything. Still, it’s a fantastic chapter as this latest arc of Batman is one of the best in a while.

Story: James Tynion IV Art: Jorge Jimenez, Richard Lopez
Color: Tomeu Morey, Romulo Fajardo, Jr. Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: X-Men #1

X-Men #1

Because it centers around a team of mutant heroes teaming up to beat up a giant villain, X-Men #1 could definitely be described as “meat and potato” superhero comics. But those meat and potatoes happen to be your older relative’s Sunday roast recipe. Plus it’s a damn superhero comic: fights are a staple of the genre, and Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz, and Marte Gracia turn in a good one that builds on the strengths of the different members of the Krakoan X-Men team and features visual flourishes like inset panels to show the scale of the monstrosity their fighting as well as different color palettes for different kind of energy discharges (Psychic etc.) This fight also ties into the current throughline of the X-Books that is basically the mutants are flexing their superiority over humanity whether that’s terraforming Mars or building a treehouse in Central Park as their new headquarters. This leads to jealousy and enemies as the main antagonist of X-Men is more like Elon Musk than a cannon fodder robot.

X-Men #1 flows nicely from Duggan and Larraz’s work on Planet-Sized X-Men #1 beginning with yet another large building project, the Treehouse and Seneca Village in Central Park. Seneca Village was home to free Black landowners in the 19th century before it was razed to make Central Park so this move shows Krakoa’s opposition to oppression and reinforces the Civil Rights themes that have been a part of X-Men comics for decades. Or it could just be a symbolic gesture like naming a street after Martin Luther King Jr., but doing nothing to fight systemic racism in a lasting way. With the way the Krakoans have treated folks like the Terra Verdeans, I think it’s the 2nd thing. It’s a drone strike presided over by a Black/South Asian woman, who also has a thing for putting trans women in men’s prisons.

However, for the most part, Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz portray the X-Men as classic heroes saving the day and using the abilities in such an efficient way that they did this day-saving before the Avengers, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four arrive on the scene. (Duggan continues to write great dialogue for Ben Grimm in cameo appearances.) Even the usually arrogant Sunfire fits right in, and his solar fire powers the X-Mech that takes down the villain of the month. But, like a lot of the mutants’ actions during the Krakoa era of the X-Books, there’s something a little off about their actions, and investing billions of dollars in pharmaceutical money in Manhattan real estate is something a corporate baddie would do, not a team of heroes.

This critique of the X-Men comes from Ben Urich, who enjoys the vibe of Seneca Village and the Treehouse, but whose questions about the original death of Jumbo Carnation back in New X-Men are deflected by Cyclops. Cyclops also tells Jean Grey that he’s a little uncomfortable around the press. Urich’s dialogue and short data page article seems to show he has a positive view of the X-Men. However, the abruptness of Cyclops’ movements around him as well as Pepe Larraz using his glasses to hide Urich’s facial expressions show that maybe he doesn’t completely trust his new neighbors. Urich’s appearance in X-Men #1 grounds this new team in New York City almost as much as the Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Spider-Man cameos from afar and coupled with the confidence of the narrative captions as well Jean Grey and Cyclops’ dialogue shows that they’re ready to be the main superhero team in the city that’s the heart of the Marvel Universe.

From this review, you might think that the X-Men are more like X-Force in X-Men #1. This is actually the opposite of how Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz portray them in the majority of the comic. Although they’re caught unaware initially by their opponent, they are a smooth, adaptive fighting team. Duggan and Larraz establish Synch as the team’s glue and ideas man even before the battle as he uses Forge’s abilities to tinker around the Treehouse before turning his talents towards the X-Mech. I like how Pepe Larraz doesn’t show the X-Mech in a splash page, but also spends the page before showing the team using their powers in, well, sync to build something to stop the baddie. He can do busy multi-panel pages as well as more wide screen work like Rogue flies into the heat of battle as the X-Men’s tank, and Gracia is there to give each panel a distinct mood like colder colors for the psychically affected bystanders while the X-Men put together a plan. Larraz’s work screams big, damn superhero book, and he has fun with some the science fiction elements towards the end of the book.

On the tin, X-Men #1 is a team of badass mutants saving New York City from a creepy alien being with blockbuster visuals from Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, who make the Treehouse as gorgeous and utopian as the team’s opponent is dark and cold. But Gerry Duggan still nudges at the cracks of the Krakoan experiment through remarks by side characters, data pages, and in time-honored genre tradition, the issue’s Big Bad, who is definitely a billionaire I would want to stay stuck in space. It has loads of action and few thought-provoking ideas and is overall just a lot of fun. I mean, in addition to the X-Mech and Cyclops geeking out way too much over the treehouse, there’s space Vegas that use black holes to simulate the “always day” casino feel plus Larraz nails Wolverine aka Laura Kinney’s physicality throughout the issue.

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Pepe Larraz
Colors: Marte Gracia Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Shadowman #3

Shadowman #3

Masters of terror Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt continue their terrifying tour of Shadowman’s world by bringing the supernatural defender to Barcelona where he’ll encounter a sinister undertaker in Shadowman #3.

I often wonder when I read a comic whether the small things that I love are the same things that others enjoy. Case in point, once again, is the recap page. I’m always fond of recap pages in principle because my memory isn’t what it was when I was a kid and didn’t have to remember hundreds of things for work, but when the recap is provided in character by Baron Samedi it really gets me in the right frame of mind for what’s about to come.

I know this is likely going to come as somewhat of a surprise, but Shadowman #3 has some genuinely funny moments within its pages – and almost all of the center around Samedi himself. This isn’t a comedy story, but rather Cullen Bunn injecting small moments of humor into a book you’d not immediately associate humor with. It’s these fun moments that elevate what is otherwise a story steeped in the horror genre – typically not something I would usually be drawn to, but then this is a comic that’s got a lot to offer those who aren’t typically horror fans.

The comic, written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Jon Davis-Hunt and colours by Jordie Bellair, has Shadowman chasing down information from a wonderfully bizarre loa that deals in secrets, before something ends up going slightly wrong. Shadowman #3 continues Bunn’s trend with the series of having an almost self contained story. Though this issue builds on the previous a little more than the second did with the first, you can still enjoy the comic if you haven’t read the other two (though why you wouldn’t read such fine examples of the medium I’m not sure). Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene that had me grinning from ear to ear which is then followed by a panel that is understated and yet completely awesome (pages 19-21 in the comic/after the ad for coffee). That sequence alone was worth my price of admission (granted I read a review copy, but will be buying the floppy when I get to my LCS).

I can’t say enough good things about Davis-Hunt’s artwork. It’s not a super realistic style, but this has become my Shadowman; Davis-Hunt’s design suits the character to a tee, and the way he brings Jack Boniface to life, the expressions on his face and the physicality in the way he moves across the page genuinely brings a smile to my face. The creative team are probably one of the finest that Valiant have pulled together in a long time, and it shows in their work.

As a series, Shadowman is easily one of the best things Valiant has put out in a long time, and for my money is the best thing on the racks right now. This series gets better every issue.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.7 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

Review: Shadowman #3

Shadowman #3

Shadowman #3 sees the Shadowman bounce from Haiti to Barcelona, still trying to figure out who is trying to cause the blights from the Deadside to break through. Shadowman meets his match in the Pallbearer, a supernatural threat who is killing those associated with loas, the spiritual interm

I’m not sure what I like more on Shadowman, Cullen Bunn’s writing or John Davis-Hunt’s artwork. With Jordie Bellaire’s colors and Clayton Cowles’ letters, they really do make for a special creative team for Shadowman. The approach seems to be single-issue stories, driven by a central threat to the overall arc, and for me, it totally works. Cullen does horror really well and his approach appears more like a horror story than a superhero one. This issue also saw Josef, who was in Cullen’s Punk Mambo series, pop up to assist Shadowman and Baron Samedi. Speaking of Samedi, he certainly comes off as an untrustworthy ally but he doesn’t chew the scenery much and ends up offering small bits of humor. I hope for the series that he’s more like an ally and less of the untrustworthy variety.

There’s a lot of dark and creepy creatures that John Davis-Hunt has to illustrate and lots of dark, eerie settings and this issue wasn’t any different than the last couple but he has a style that really helps build on the dark atmosphere of Shadowman. He might be responsible for the best-looking Shadowman. I just think his version looks the coolest. That said, he does a grand job drawing lots of disgusting things for Shadowman to face.

Shadowman #3 is a continuation of outstanding single issues. This relaunch has been absolutely fantastic and I’m excited about where this is going. The creative team is doing some big-time work on the book and after reading this issue, I want more. Shadowman’s story is beautiful, dark and disturbing, and every bit captivating. If you are looking for something a bit different than your typical fare, Shadowman is that book.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: John Davis-Hunt
Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Shadowman #3

SHADOWMAN #3

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by JON DAVIS-HUNT
Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE
Letters by CLAYTON COWLES
Cover A by JON DAVIS-HUNT
Cover B by TYLER KIRKHAM
Cover C (Horror Movie Homage Variant) by ERICA HENDERSON
Preorder Cover by ROBBI RODRIGUEZ
On sale JUNE 23rd | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Masters of terror Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt continue their terrifying tour of SHADOWMAN’s world by bringing the supernatural defender to Barcelona where he’ll encounter a sinister undertaker…

SHADOWMAN #3

Review: Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1

A new Supergirl comic in the current “age” of DC is full of potential. With the changes concerning the rest of the Superman line of characters, Supergirl is primed for the spotlight and an opportunity to stand out. Compared to Superman’s unflinching stance for good and Jonathan Kent’s needing to learn, there’s space for a hero who bridges the gap between the two and shows it’s not a boys club. But, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 is an unexpected detour from that potential. Instead, we get Supergirl channeling drunk Superman from Superman III and it works, just not as a Supergirl story.

Written by Tom King, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 isn’t a bad start. It just doesn’t feel like a Supergirl story. Off on an alien planet to support her birthday she comes across a young girl who wants revenge against the man who killed her father. Drunkenly, Supergirl rejects the plea and is later forced into the situation. With a red sun on the planet, this is a weakened Supergirl lacking much of what makes her super. There’s an interesting concept there and potential but as the opening story for the next great chapter, it doesn’t feel all that super. It’s rather dark and everyone comes off as a dick.

The idea of Supergirl fighting on a medieval-ish planet without her powers sounds interesting. It forces the character to use more than her flight and strength, and other abilities, to get things done. That’s present and is the more interesting aspect of the issue. There’s also Supergirl drunk and hungover which itself also has potential. She comes off as a little… well, a drunk I don’t want to be around. She’s not likeable and the most likeable character, Krypto, isn’t given much to do beyond adding drama to the mix.

The art by Bilquis Evely is solid. The alien world has an interesting look to it and Supergirl too looks fantastic as her messed up self. But, the opportunity to really deliver something strange and different is lost at times. It looks really good but there’s just a level of detail that it never quite reaches. It’s a world that kind of feels empty for some reason. The color by Matheus Lopes and lettering Clayton Cowles helps bring together the comic and again, it looks really good but it never quite amazes.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 is an interesting comic. It’d be fine as a miniseries on top of an ongoing. It’d be fine as an arc in an ongoing. But, as the first issue to establish the character, it kind of fails. Supergirl comes off as an ass here. She’s not a hero I want to be around but instead a female Guy Gardner. There’s little super in this Supergirl unless the creators were going for super-asshole.

Story: Tom King Art: Bilquis Evely
Color: Matheus Lopes Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 6.8 Art: 7.6 Overall: 6.95 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

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