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Review: Venom #1

Venom #1

After an “epic” run, it’s always interesting to see the direction a new creative team takes a character and series. Venom has had a hell of a run these past few years putting the character front and center in events like “King in Black” and shaking up Eddie Brock’s life by introducing his son. It’s been a hell of a recent run for the character. So, what’s next? A new creative team plots the course and kicks things off with Venom #1, an issue packed with concepts and ideas that feel like a bit of a mix of so much of what we’ve seen.

Writers Al Ewing and Ram V. team up for Venom #1 and the result is a time-spanning adventure that shakes things up for Eddie and Dylan in so many ways. There’s so much packed in the issue feels like it’s almost too-much but balances a fine line that it doesn’t quite cross.

Eddie is now the new “King in Black”, controlling the symbiotes and guiding them to something. His new role has him disappearing for extended periods of time with his mind literally elsewhere… in space. That leaves Dylan on his own and getting into trouble in school as he’s basically home alone. Venom too is wandering around as Eddie must adjust to his new role and the symbiote is left on Earth to figure out what’s next. There’s also something ominous coming with dire warnings for Eddie and everyone he knows. It’s an epic story that spans time and space and feels much like the much heralded Hulk run Ewing recently completed. The concepts are grand, different, and build off what has come before while plotting a new direction. There’s ramifications of recent events mixed a bit with Venom’s time in space, and some teases of the generally forgettable “The End” series of one-shot comics.

Bryan Hitch handles the art with ink by Andrew Currie, color by Alex Sinclair, and lettering by Clayton Cowles. I’m not usually a fan of Hitch’s art but this debut issue stands out. Hitch brings his own style but at the same time keeps things a bit “classic” in a way too. The characters feel a bit like a mix of the previous art with Hitch’s work. The colors are great with a mix of eye-popping space and darker, more ominous moments on Earth. The lettering as well is key giving each symbiote more of a personality in a way. The art isn’t one that jumps out at you but there’s some solid moments that feel rather superhero heroic and others that really nail the tone of the story.

Venom #1 is an interesting start. There’s some grand concepts and ideas that could be interesting to see how they play out. What’s great is the issue does an excellent job of building off recent events while also charting its own path. It’s both solid for new readers and long time fans as well.

Story: Al Ewing, Ram V. Art: Bryan Hitch
Ink: Andrew Currie Color: Alex Sinclair Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Batman #116

Batman #116

Fear State” continues in part 5 that has everything coming together as Batman and Miracle Molly confront the Scarecrow. Batman #116 is fully of action and drama with some fantastic moments.

James Tynion IV does an excellent job of bringing so much together in Batman #116. There’s really dramatic and “cinematic” moments that highlight an issue that at times feels epic at scale. Balanced well are Batman and Miracle Mommy taking on Scarecrow, some more on Magistrate-01, Ivy, and so much more. It’s an issue that’s bursting from the seems with so much packed in. So, lets take each moment at a time.

Saint’s forces have invaded Ivy’s lair. Standing against them is Ghost-Maker who brings a swashbuckling classic style to the fight. For a character that was a shrug to start, he’s grown into one I really like delivering an over the top style in everything. But, this is all going on in Ivy’s lair. She’s not too happy with it all and the series has hinted that we should expect something big for her in the future. That begins here in a moment that feels like it should be on a movie screen. Epic is an understatement and could be an entire issue and event by itself.

Batman and Miracle Molly’s adventure has them confronting Scarecrow. Tynion delivers a lot of emotion with that as Scarecrow does his thing. But, it also turns into a rather shocking moment as well. It leads to a new confrontation between Magistrate-01 and Batman and a double-page spread of action that’s fantastic. One panel in particular is amazing as a blade gets a bit close to Batman. This has summer popcorn film all about it.

And that’s just a small bit of an issue that feels like a popcorn flick on the printed page.

The art by Jorge Jimenez is fantastic. With color by Tomeu Morey and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the issue’s visuals are everything you’d want from a comic book. It pops in every sense with amazing colors and a great flow to it all. What’s great is that the team gives us some visuals that feel like “traditional” Batman while putting on their own spin. Magistrate-01 confronting Batman is fantastic with two moments really standing out visually. Scarecrow’s mask being taken off feels terrorizing for a brief moment, the madness unleashed. The series has a style that’s all its own blending the past with the neon manga-inspired style of “Future State”.

We also get a backup story by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad with art by Jorge Corona, color by Sarah Stern, and lettering by Becca Carey. Stephanie and Cass are in the tower with Barbara long gone. They’re confronted by Simon Saint’s team who do the unthinkable. It’s a sliver of a story but the impact feels like it’s one that’ll reverberate for years to come. It also sets up an intriguing dynamic for everything to come. It also again shows the extreme that Saint and his forces will go.

Batman #116 is another solid chapter of “Fear State”. There’s an epic scale to it all yet also feels like so much is packed into the issue. None of it feels shorted at all. It’s an impressive balancing act and a highlight of one of the best Batman storylines in years.

Story: James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad Art: Jorge Jimenez, Jorge Corona
Color: Tomeu Morey, Sarah Stern Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Becca Carey
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Darkhold: Blade #1

Darkhold: Blade

As a fan of Vin Diesel, many of his movies are hit or miss. As of recent, he is most known for the Fast & Furious movies. The thing is, he is far more prolific than that, as his resume stretches back almost 20 years ago. The first time I ever saw him in a movie, was a movie I actually heard him in, Iron Giant.

He has made a slew of movies since then, starting a few franchises along the way . One of them being XXX, which made an action hero based on a pop culture trend. The other being Pitch Black, which spawned four movies, the second movie, The Chronicles Of Riddick, offered a different narrative than the rest of the series, something echoing Conan The Barbarian. In the latest Darkhold one-shot comic, we find Blade following a similar path in that seminal film in Darkhold: Blade.

We find Blade, shortly after reading the Darkhold, in an attempt to stop the god, Chthon from manifesting on Earth, instead discovers a much grimmer way. As we find out that Deacon Frost sacrificed himself to the ancient blood demon, La Magra, thereby unleashing the V-Wave, which made every human, a vampire, making super humans, other than, and the gods of men, banished, making those left behind, predator or prey. This makes Blade’s job, even more complicated, as vampires were once the evil he hunted, but now that line, is even more blurry, because of the V-Wave, especially when he meets Amadeus Cho, now a vampire. As Cho clues him in on  what Kingpin got going on, as he  is hoarding a cure to vampirism, one that Amadeus was working on for Fisk,  which leads Blade to recruit Prowler, Citizen V and Silver Sable, which is what is left of the Last Avengers. By issue’s end, he kills Kingpin, and takes a turn, killing the Last Avengers, and becoming the new Vampire King of New York.

Overall, Darkhold: Blade is an excellent dystopian story, which leans in on its “Mirror Universe” vibes. The story by Daniel Kibblesmith is eerie and exciting. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, a story where we see a hero do a turncoat, one which is oddly magnetic.

Story: Daniel Kibblesmith Art: Federico Sabbatini
Color: Rico Renzi Letterer: Clayton Cowles
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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Review: Shadowman (2021) Vol. 1

Shadowman kicks off with a whole new volume that has the character trying to figure out why breaches keep happening around the world.

Collecting issues #1-4 of the 2021 series.

Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Color: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.


Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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The Year of Valiant Begins in 2022 with a Year Long Celebration

The Valiant Universe is about to expand.

The Year of Valiant will be a year-long celebration of Valiant throughout 2022, consisting of new launches with new creators, the return of fan-favorite characters, the formation of new teams, and the Valiant characters exploring beyond traditional publishing methods. To celebrate the announcement, Valiant Entertainment is incredibly proud to showcase its universe with exciting new artwork from acclaimed creators Tyler Kirkham and Arif Prianto.

The Year of Valiant Teaser

The Year of Valiant kicks off with the return of the critically-acclaimed series Shadowman in January. The first chapter of ‘Deadside War’, an epic horror storyline that will see the return of Punk Mambo and other familiar faces from the Valiant Universe, will begin in Shadowman #5 on January 19th from the master of horror Cullen Bunn, rising star artist Pedro Andreo, and Eisner-nominated creators Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles.

Shadowman #5

More announcements about new launches from The Year of Valiant will arrive in the coming months!

Review: Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle #3

Games Workshop’s world of Warhammer 40,000 comes to Marvel comics! Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle #3 continue to balance action, setting this series apart from the previous, and delivering more details about the world of the Sisters of Battle.

Story: Torunn Grønbekk
Art: Edgar Salazar
Color: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Zeus Comics

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

Review: Batman #114

Batman #114

DC’s Batman line of comics has been on a hell of a roll. Post “Future State”, the comics have had a shared focus and vision of where they’re all going while each having their own personality. Batman has been at the center of them all taking us through a build up to “Fear State” the current storyline that connects so many dots and brings so many pieces of the puzzle together. Batman #114 is an issue neck deep into the story as the two Peacekeepers battle it out and we get a clue as to how far Simon Saint will go to cover up his crimes.

James Tynion IV has hit his stride with “Fear State” delivering one of the best Batman storylines in years. Scarecrow is whipping up the people of Gotham while manipulating others to get the result he wants. It’s a giant experiment with the city as his test subjects. It’s a flip from where the story began as Simon Saint was using Scarecrow to get his Magistrate program up and running, striking fear into Gotham so its leaders would turn to Saint for protection. Now, Saint’s Peacekeepers threaten to bring it all down as Peacekeeper-01 is dose by the Scarecrow and killing Gotham citizens in his hallucination while Peacekeeper-X is tasked with stopping the rampage. Stuck in-between is Batman who can only do so much to stop everything going on.

Tynion has done an excellent job of building to this moment as the two Peacekeepers battle it out and we get to see that Saint really will do whatever it takes to gain control. But, what’s more impressive is we really get a sense that Batman is a bit outmatched. The tech Saint has brought not only has an edge but there’s so much of it that there’s little Batman can do. He can slow things down but not stop it. For once Batman is overwhelmed and it feels like it could happen and makes sense.

Batman #114 packs a lot of action with some amazing art by Jorge Jimenez. The fights are brutal. The explosions are huge. There’s so much raw emotion thrown about it’s hard to not feel it looking at the character literally frothing at the mouth. Tomeu Morey‘s colors continue to be amazing delivering a slight step towards the neon-infused Gotham of the future. Clayton Cowles‘ lettering adds so much personality to everyone, especially Scarecrow and Peacekeeper-X. Small details like that adds a lot to the reading experience.

Brandon Thomas, Jason Howard, and Clayton Cowles also deliver a back-up story featuring Clownhunter as he deals with Scarecrow himself. It’s all ok with an ending that leads us to other series. This back-up has been a bit so-so though the visuals are pretty solid. Overall, it just feels like something we’ve seen a lot before (a character tripping because they were dosed by Scarecrow) dragged out over three issues.

Batman #114 is summer blockbuster worthy. There’s a hell of a fight and a lot of surprises in the issue as the Peacekeepers battle it out in Gotham and Batman’s caught in-between it all. This is some of the best additions to the Batman myth in a long time giving opponents who feel worthy to take on Batman and his entire time and also feel grounded in many ways. Where this is going to go remains unknown but it’s a journey I’m all in for. It’s one hell of a ride so far and hoping it to continue to be.

Story: James Tynion IV, Brandon Thomas Art: Jorge Jimenez, Jason Howard
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.35 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Darkhold Alpha

Darkhold Alpha

After what feels like an extended delay, Darkhold Alpha is here kicking off the miniseries that promises to twist and turn some of our favorite heroes. The story focuses on Scarlet Witch who must assemble a team to stop Chthon who’s back and wants to break into our world. Who’s Chthon? Well, the demon has history with Wanda and that’s all you need to know. While I’m sure there might be something more interesting in the comic for those who know the history, it’s not vital. But, of course things can’t be easy and as this debut ends, exactly where this series is going could be interesting.

Written by Steve Orlando, Darkhold Alpha has a bit of a vibe of the 1990s Marvel horror line. The Darkhold played a key roll then, so it’s not surprising that this issue has echoes in that era of comics. What Orlando does that’s solid is set up the challenge as exactly that, a challenge. Dr. Doom is the one who sets things in motion by trying to obtain the Darkhold and through Doom, Orlando makes it feel like our heroes really have a battle ahead. Here is an arrogant but powerful character who can’t stand up to Chthon himself. That choice is a solid one as it doesn’t feel like a character is sacrificed for the hell of it. If Doom is so easily beaten, what chance do our heroes have?

There’s some foreshadowing that is a bit too obvious. Our heroes must prepare to enter the “Other World” to take on Chthon and prepare their minds. Read too much of the Darkhold and they become corrupted. You can see where this is going after the fifth time that’s uttered. It’s a little too obvious but creates a nice hurdle in that the future of this story isn’t as clear. Where one might have expected the heroes to get “powered up” and go and battle, that’s not quite as clear now.

Cian Tormey‘s art is good. There’s some good emotion and cool character designs but there’s also some panels which feel a little odd in reactions. Where Tormey excels is in some small details, a Doombot’s head on fire for example, or Doom himself beaten up. With color by Jesus Aburtov and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the look of the comic fits the horror genre well without being dark and ominous. It keeps its feet planted in the world of superheroes and the magical side of the Marvel Universe and does it well.

Darkhold Alpha is an interesting start. There’s a lot thrown in and it does an excellent job of explaining things. As far as beginnings, it does what it needs to setting things up and keeping the overall story a bit of a guess. While this so far isn’t a miniseries that’s a must read, it does have enough interesting aspects to check out and see where it all goes.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Cian Tormey
Color: Jesus Aburtov Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.65 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Batman #113

“Fear State” is in full swing plunging the various Batman comics into the latest storyline event. But, this event feels a bit different. There’s a self-awareness to it all that feels like its been missing for a long time. Even fatigue has set into the Batman books with one disaster after another and “Fear State” actually addresses that in many ways. In fact, it’s a setup to the plan by Scarecrow. For that alone, it makes what’s going on a bit more interesting. Batman #113 takes some steps back in the story exploring what Scarecrow’s plan is and that includes an explanation of the meta.

James Tynion IV has hit his stride with Batman as the series not just delivers an event that’s self-aware but also one that further ties into the bigger picture story that is “Future State”. Simon Saint’s plan for his police force is underway but Scarecrow has played Saint using the materials gained to run an experiment all his own. Batman #113 has Batman unsure if he’s been compromised so asks Ghost-Maker to dip into his consciousness to see what has been tampered with. It’s all very comic-book in a good way. A little silly but it works. We also learn some history, Ghost-Maker has a past with Crane, aka Scarecrow.

That revelation feels a bit forced if anything. This character who just so happens to have come back into Batman’s life just so happens to have history with the major bad and know their goal/plan. It’s a little silly and a quick way to get to that revelation. Is it a derailed moment? Not really, but it definitely takes me out what has been a very solid story up to this point. For readers, the issue is, the discussion is a reminder of things we’ve learned before and elsewhere. We know Crane’s plan if you’ve read the comics leading up to this. So, this feels like the moment where the character explains everything to the audience so new individuals can catch up. Is it needed? Maybe. Does it take those following out of the story. A little.

The art by Jorge Jimenez is fantastic. With color by Tomeu Morey and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the comic looks fantastic. There’s just enough “horror” in Batman’s mind to keep up the “fear” aspect of everything. What’s been impressive is the story for the past few issues has played off of the classic visual of Scarecrow without rehashing them. They feel like an homage in some ways that way. The comic looks fantastic in every way.

We also get a back-up story featuring Clownhunter from writer Brandon Thomas, artist Jason Howard, and letterer Clayton Cowles. Generally an ok story, the entry doesn’t quite deliver enough. What’s weird is, if the chapters so far were one comic, things would be a bit better. Than serialized nature of this story feels like it’s hurting it a bit. There’s a flow that’s really solid to it all as Bao sinks into his nightmare but that only really works as the flow continues.

Batman has been an excellent series and Batman #113 does a good job giving us a slight break for new readers and laying out the challenge and what might be ahead. It’s a slight pause to the flow but it’s still not bad and does answer at least one issue, how did Scarecrow mess with Batman’s head. As a slice of the overall story, it’s solid. On it’s own, it’s a bit wobbly though.

Story: James Tynion IV, Brandon Thomas Art: Jorge Jimenez, Jason Howard
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1

X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1

I’ve been generally down on the X books since the Hickman relaunch. Gone were the stories of individuals who, despite hatred by so many, stood up to be heroes. They were flawed. They dealt with adversity and hate. And, they often sacrificed themselves to triumph (only to come back later). The new direction for the X-Men was one of nationalism, where death was overcome, and in that, any tension. Where was the excitement when you could throw in your heavy hitters, watch them die, then just bring them back in a religious fervor. These weren’t heroes fighting for equality, these were incredibly powerful individuals who saw themselves as something more, often saying they looked down on humanity. In their cheating of death, they lost their souls and became corrupted. X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 explores that corruption as Nightcrawler continues his search for a mutant “way”.

Written by Si Spurrier, X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 is a continuation of Way of X. Nightcrawler is front and center as so many pieces of the puzzle laid out since the reboot come together. It takes what feels like it should have been an “event” and compacts it to a one-shot comic. That’s impressive in many ways but also creates a read that feels a bit rushed and whose reveals never quite deliver a punch.

Onslaught has corrupted Krakoa and its various processes, building its power and growing. Nightcrawler has gathered a team to stop it and while doing so, also come up with a vision for mutantkind. This isn’t one of supremacy, it’s one of improvement and defense. Nightcrawler has attempted to bring the X-books back to their roots, planting their foot in the side of equality and positivity.

X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 in many ways feels like a repudiation of the X-books of late. It takes on the nationalism and religious fervor that has permeated the reboot. It squarely challenges the “death cult” attitude the series has taken. It admits that the X-Men have lost their “soul”. It’s an interesting build up and for those who felt something was “off” in the reboot, these last few months have played out that we were correct. There was something insidious at the root of it all. But, the shift has begun to return the X-Men to fight for everyone and do what’s right for all, not just their nation.

What’s really interesting about X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 is how much it adds to Fabian Cortez who plays a key role. He’s a character who you could tell there was plans for since his return but always was the sad trombone. This issue puts him front and center in many ways and creates depth for the character that was missing. What was a spoiled rich brat has some pathos we can empathize with and understand his views and actions.

The art by Bob Quinn is interesting. There’s some truly amazing panels and pages are mixed with some just less so. Character designs which should inspire and be jaw-dropping feel like let downs. It’s an issue full of ups and downs visually and never quite hits the reader like it should. Java Tartaglia provides the color with lettering by Clayton Cowles and overall, the colors pop, the lettering adds an ominous feel, but the pencils and page layouts themselves never totally click. Scenes of what should feel like near carnality breaking out feels like a rave in Zion. The tension is built but never quite visually gets there. The designs within Legion’s mind are great but are never memorable.

X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 is the end of one chapter setting up the next. There’s some interesting concepts within and a meta take on the X-books up to this point. It charts a new series to come hinting at a potentially fun team throwing up a lot of question. It most importantly feels like a “you were right” for all who felt something was off about the current X-Men and direction.

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Bob Quinn
Color: Java Tartaglia Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller
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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