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Review: The Sword of Hyperborea #1

The Sword of Hyperborea #1

The Sword of Hyperborea #1 is the first installment of a four issue miniseries centered around a titular sword that has had an impact on the Mignolaverse from the dawn of time (From its name, I can deduce it’s connected to Robert E. Howard/Conan stuff.) to the apocalypse aka Ragna Rok. On paper, this sounds pretty fucking cool like Hellboy meets Highlander, or like Michael Walsh’s Silver Coin, but sword and sorcery. However, in execution, this new comic from Mike Mignola, Rob Williams, Laurence Campbell, and Quinton Winter is far from it. With the exception of the opening sequence which establishes BPRD Agent Howards’ relationship with Liz Sherman as well as his duty as wielder of the Sword of Hyperborea, this book is a confusing mess that will only resonate with hardcore Mignolaverse fans. There are bits and pieces that are coherent like one of Gall Dennar’s fellow tribe members saying that his strength only comes from the sword and paying the price, but it doesn’t come together into any kind of satisfying whole, or even slice of a story.

And this is a shame because Campbell and Winter’s visuals are damn good. Laurence Campbell’s style is a hybrid between Mignola and Andrea Sorrentino while Quinton Winter’s palette is suitably apocalyptic with clashing pitch blacks and lights. Winter brings an elemental approach to the coloring of the book with lots of green, reds, and whites fitting for a story that is set, for better and worse, around the dawn of humanity. (The one line in Mike Mignola and Williams’ script that I actually smiled at was Liz calling Howards, “Captain Caveman” before he jumps into action.) This works well with Campbell’s thick, sketchy lines that show the struggle to survive in prehistoric times, and how something like the Sword of Hyperborea can turn the tide. On the other hand, Laurence Campbell takes a simpler approach to his monster: all tentacles and straight lines like a kind of end point to humanity.

The Sword of Hyperborea #1 is centered around a simple idea: one day humanity will be destroyed by monsters. It’s hard not to connect to what Mignola and Rob Williams have put in their script with a deadly pandemic raging, income inequality soaring, and the climate rapidly changing. I definitely get that foreboding from Campbell and Quinton Winter’s art, but it doesn’t come through in the story, which is structured like some vignettes (Howards fighting monsters, Gall Dennar’s tribe succession, Howards/Dennar going into a deep dark cave) combined with trailer type images that will either be fleshed out down the road, or are already familiar to Mignolaverse fans. There’s repeated mentions of Chicago and modern imagery juxtaposed with the cave/apocalyptic stuff, and without context, it reads like generic foreshadowing.

Also, I don’t get a feel for either Howards or Dennar as characters beyond they have a magic sword and are going up against monsters that end the world. It looks cool, but I don’t care about these guys at all, sorry. Also, the apocalypse doesn’t have much build up beyond tentacles and lightning. It’s all very vague and reads like a Xerox of a Xerox of Robert E. Howard’s ouevre: all keywords and bad things happening and not even fun purple prose. Honestly, if this wasn’t connected to Hellboy and BPRD in some way, I wouldn’t even tell the hardcore fans to check it out.

Laurence Campbell and Quinton Winter bring some compelling prehistoric and high fantasy settings to life in The Sword of Hyperborea #1, but Mike Mignola and Rob Williams’ script is too bogged down in lore to make Agent Howards or Gall Dennar compelling leads. By the end of the issue, I just know that Dennar is a strong guy with a sword who doesn’t have much of a personality beyond beating his rivals and monsters with the aforementioned sword. If I predict correctly from the ending, subsequent issues are going to jump into different time periods and introduce additional characters, who are hopefully fleshed out more, but that’s a path I would only recommend for the Mignolaverse completionists.

Script: Mike Mignola and Rob Williams Art: Laurence Campbell
Colors: Quinton Winter Letters: Clem Robins
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Sword of Hyperborea #1

Sword of Hyperborea #1

Writer: Mike Mignola, Rob Williams
Artist: Laurence Campbell
Letterer: Clem Robins
Colorist: Quinton Winter, Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Laurence Campbell
Publication Date: January 12, 2022
Format: FC, 32 pages; Miniseries
Price: $3.99

From the ancient warrior Gall Dennar, to Sir Edward Grey, to the B.P.R.D.’s Agent Howards, the iconic Hyperborean sword from the world of Hellboy has landed in many influential hands. And this has been no accident. Trace the sword’s path through the adventures and encounters that finally brought it to Ragna Rok, at the end of the world, and witness the sword’s journey through history.

Hellboy creator Mike Mignola gives us a new tale from the world of Hellboy, cowritten by Rob Williams and featuring the art of Mignolaverse veteran Laurence Campbell to deliver never-before-seen Hellboy lore!

* The story of the Hyperborean blade!

Sword of Hyperborea #1

The Best Comics of 2021

2021 was another strange year for the comic industry which saw a lot of changes in almost too many ways to count.

But, despite all of those changes, there were some amazing comics released.

Here’s 10 that stood out to me from the year.

The full list of everything that stood out from the year!

Graphic Policy’s team’s “best of” lists!

The 10 from the video:

Blue, Barry & Pancakes (First Second)
Story/Art: Daniel Rajai Abdo, Jason Linwood Patterson

Glamorella’s Daughter (Literati Press)
Concept: Jerry Bennett Story: Charles J. Martin
Art: Jerry Bennett Letterer: Charles J. Martin Sensitivity Editor: Brandy Williams

BRZRKR (BOOM! Studios)
Story: Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt Art: Ron Garney
Color: Bill Crabtree Letterer: Clem Robins

Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? (Albatross Funnybooks)
Story: Harold Schechter, Eric Powell Art: Eric Powell

The Other History of the DC Universe (DC Comics)
Story: John Ridley Layouts: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes: Andrea Cucchi Color: José Villarrubia Letterer: Steve Wands

Robin & Batman (DC Comics)
Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Dustin Nguyen
Color: Dustin Nguyen Letterer: Steve Wands

The Recount (Scout Comics)
Story: Jonathan Hedrick Art: Joe Bocardo
Color: Sunil Ghagre Letterer: Christian Docolomansky

Shadow Doctor (AfterShock)
Story: Peter Calloway Art: George Jeanty
Color: Juancho! Letterer/Backmatter: Charles Pritchett

Solo Leveling (Yen Press)
Original Story: Chugong Translation: Hye Young Im
Rewrite: J. Torres Letterer: Abigail Blackman

Stray Dogs (Image Comics)
Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner
Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodrigeuz, Chris Burnham Flatter: Lauren Perry

Review: Batman: One Dark Knight #1

Batman: One Dark Knight #1

Batman: One Dark Knight #1 is a story we’ve seen many times before. A prisoner transport is attacked and then the prisoner and a guard must make their way through hostile territory. That aspect is nothing new but the presentation is so damn good it makes this debut stand out. E.M.P. is being moved from Arkham to Blackgate during a day when tension in Gotham feels like it’s growing and the gangs are restless. Batman is forced to escort the villain to his permanent facility after an attack on the original convoy. But, to add to the difficulty, E.M.P.’s powers have gone off plunging Gotham into darkness and frying electronics.

Jock handles the art and story for Batman: One Dark Knight #1, and the series as a whole, and delivers a debut that’s full of tension. And that’s a lot of what makes this familiar formula stand out. We know what’s going to happen but the way the story unfolds is done at a pacing and in such a style that it builds to that big moment.

But, there’s tension elsewhere that Jock builds that not just adds to the overall feel of the comic but also depth to the characters. While E.M.P. is on the move, a clash between the head of Gotham’s correctional facilities and Jim Gordon play out. There’s a disagreement in how Gotham’s more eccentric villains should be handled and where they should be held. It’s a small detail that adds so much to the story. It creates a debate for the reader to have as far as how these villains should be handled. It makes the comic far more than action and explosions.

The art by Jock is fantastic as expected. Clem Robins handles the lettering adding a lot to the story and tension as electronics fizzle out. But, it’s Jock’s art that helps complete the story. I keep using the word “tension” and it’s hard to describe what the art brings in any other way. It perfectly nails down the mood with art that’s not flashy but so nice to look at. This isn’t about splash pages, it’s about carefully focused panels and pages that slowly build to that moment when everything explodes.

Batman: One Dark Knight #1 is a solid start. The story is familiar but it executes it in such a way that it still stands out. It’s quality at every level.

Story: Jock Art: Jock Letterer: Clem Robins
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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Dark Horse to Publish Mike Mignola and Greg Hinkle’s Radio Spaceman

Dark Horse will publish Radio Spaceman, an all-new two-issue comic book event by legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and acclaimed Black Cloud artist Greg Hinkle. This standalone steampunk space adventure is full of mystery, monsters, and awesome gadgets, and marks the first-ever comic book appearance for Radio Spaceman, based on Mignola’s viral pencil sketches. This all-new series is written by Mignola, with art by Hinkle, colors by award-winning Mignolaverse collaborator Dave Stewart, and lettering by longtime collaborator Clem Robins.

In this two-part story, when a spaceship crashes and lands on a mysterious planet and some of the surviving crew go missing, the mysterious mechanical hero Radio Spaceman is called to investigate. But the planet hides much more than the missing crew, and Radio Spaceman may be stumbling into more than even he can handle.

Radio Spaceman #1, featuring a cover by Mignola and Stewart, will be published by Dark Horse Comics on March 2, 2022.

Radio Spaceman #1

Review: BRZRKR #6

BRZRKR #6

BRZRKR has been an interesting series to read. It feels like a treatment for a movie and television series (which are in the works) but it has also surprised. The story focuses on B, an immortal warrior who seemingly can’t die. He now works for the US government going on dangerous missions while attempting to regain his memory and find peace. The comic is full of action but what surprises is that it also has a lot of heart. Through the action, the series has B reflecting on his past and what he wants in the future. BRZRKR #6 is another issue where B does exactly that as a mission goes sideways and he’s forced to hike to an extraction.

Written by Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt, BRZRKR #6 is another issue where there’s a deep sadness about it. We’re again shown the power of B as he supports a mission but it’s the hike that’s the most interesting aspect of it all. The trip takes him through territory he’s been before having him recollect and think about his past.

Along with a fellow soldier, B talks about how he’s a weapon who attempts to find peace but his nature keeps bubbling up. It’s why he chose to join the US military, so that he could vent that as well as hopefully find a way to beat his nature. It’s a discussion we’ve seen a few times but this one reflects more on “sides” through history and who B has joined. We get hints of who he has fought for and it says a lot not about B but what he sees in those nations. The issue isn’t as much about B’s nature but those of the nations he’s aligned with. It’s one of the interesting aspects of the series. It delivers action, a lot of it, but it’s more of an exploration of humanity and our base self.

The art by Ron Garney continues to impress. With color by Bill Crabtree and lettering by Clem Robins, it all comes together to reflect B’s sadness. What I think stands out more are the subtle details as the issue progresses. B is immortal and regenerates when injured. After a pretty big battle we see him slowly healing as the issue goes on. They’re all subtle changes but enough to really drive home what’s going on and tell a part of the story. As B’s internal hurt is made clearer, his external pain goes away. It’s an interesting juxtaposition and excellent storytelling through visuals. It’s something that plays to the comic storytelling’s strength.

BRZRKR #6 is another solid issue. It again takes us into the hurt that is B’s life but also makes clearer what he wants out of it. It also deepens the mystery of those he’s aligned with and is obvious they don’t have his best of intentions. This is a series that continues to surprise as it delivers more than another action series. It delivers an action series with a lot of heart.

Story: Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt Art: Ron Garney
Color: Bill Crabtree Letterer: Clem Robins
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: BRZRKR #5

BRZRKR #5

BOOM! Studios BRZRKR has been a pleasant surprise in comics. The series spearheaded by Keanu Reeves is a clear pitch for a film or television series (which are coming) but it has wound up being so much more. The story revolves around B, a man who can’t die and has been alive for 10s of thousands of years. He’s a weapon that’s tired of being a weapon and whose memory fails in letting him know his own truth. The series opened with so much action but since it has focused on B, the person. It’s a story of longing and sadness, about a warrior, a weapon, who no longer wants to be one. This is the story of the soldier that wants to retire. BRZRKR #5 continues the focus exploring the many loves of B and the losses throughout his years.

Reeves and Matt Kindt deliver a story exploring B’s love life through the years. We see loss after loss and a bit more why he is the way he is. This is an individual who is trying to figure out his purpose. As he states, if it isn’t to fall in love and have a family, then what is it? While that view has evolved over the years, it’s understandable that someone 80,000 years old would be focused on that. But, what’s important is we begin to question that. Here is an individual that has been created into this perfect weapon. His role isn’t to create but to destroy. So, what happens when he no longer wants to do that? We understand his drifting and confusion as to what’s next.

Much of that sadness is delivered through Ron Garney‘s art. With Bill Crabtree on color and lettering by Clem Robins the art really emphasizes the emotions of the issue. We can see B break as the years go on and he realizes he shouldn’t love and he won’t find happiness. His facial expressions and body language says it all. But, more importantly, the reactions of others is what’s really key. We see the sadness from them. This is a person who has only known being a weapon but he has shown love and kindness to these individuals. While he might be the embodiment of destruction there’s a clear compassion and caring as well. That’s completely conveyed through the art.

BRZRKR #5 is a solid entry in the series. Its focus is learning more about B but really focusing on the sadness he experiences. We as readers emphasize with him more and become attached in a way. It’s surely so that whatever is to come will feel like more of an emotional punch but for an issue we get to forget about the action and instead focus on a person who just wants to find peace. It delivers something completely unexpected from an “action series” and helps makes this series continue to stand out.

Story: Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt Art: Ron Garney
Color: Bill Crabtree Letterer: Clem Robins
Story: 8.45 Art: 8.45 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Dangerous Revelations Jeopardize Everything in BRZRKR #5

BOOM! Studios today revealed a first look at BRZRKR #5, the start of a new story arc in the top-selling twelve-issue limited series by the iconic Keanu Reeves and New York Times bestselling co-writer Matt Kindt, acclaimed artist Ron Garney, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Clem Robins, about an immortal being’s eternal struggle with the hidden truth behind his existence, available in comic book stores worldwide on September 29, 2021. 

What shocking new discovery will bring B. one step closer to understanding his origins? As B. and Diana’s bond continues to grow, B. opens up about a recurring trauma from his past. Will this new revelation jeopardize B. and Keever’s latest mission? Or is it all part of a plan by Caldwell to trigger more memories?

BRZRKR #5 features main cover art by superstar illustrator Lee Garbett and variant covers by acclaimed artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Declan Shalvey.

BRZRKR #5

Review: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957—Family Ties

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957—Family Ties

Hellboy comics can be a hell of a lot of fun. Mike Mignola has created characters and a world that balances a rich and complicated universe but also can deliver stories that can be picked up and enjoyed with little knowledge. Mignola has figured out how to balance the ongoing narrative with the one-shot. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957—Family Ties is example of the comic you can just pick up and enjoy. You have to have little knowledge of the characters but if you do, there’s clearly more to this issue.

Written by Mignola and Chris Roberson, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957—Family Ties has Hellboy and Agent Xiang looking for a book that can summon demons. It takes them to a house where unnatural things are occurring or it could be horrible family relations. There’s not a ton you really need to know to enjoy the comic. It’s a pretty typical “fight demons” type of story. Where it works well is the build up and tension.

Mignola and Roberson keep the readers guessing. Who’s the malignant force in the house? Who is going to be the demon they must fight? Where’s the demon they’ll have to fight? It’s all pretty standard but the way it’s presented will leave you not knowing who can be trusted until that’s revealed. There’s also some solid creepy moments. You get a cinematic feel as the horrors are presented. While it doesn’t deliver scares, there’s a general unease created by the imagery that works really well.

That’s due to the art of Laurence Campbell. Joined by Dave Stewart on colors and Clem Robins lettering, the visuals for the comic are excellent. There are some solid moments that really will make readers unease but never grossed out. There’s the type of visuals you’re not expecting so they deliver a slight punch as they’re revealed. But, it’s all done in a way that doesn’t really scare as opposed to make readers “sick”. With the colors and pencils combined, the art has a vibe about it that is more unease and gross than make you not want to turn a page.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957—Family Ties is a solid start to this series of one-shot comics. It has some details that fans of the Hellboy world will enjoy but those who have never read a story can ignore and not miss anything. It’s a solid horror comic for this Halloween season and one fans of Hellboy or the horror genre should check out.

Story: Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson Art: Laurence Campbell
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Clem Robins
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Mike Mignola to Illustrate His First Full Length Comic in Five Years – Sir Edward Grey: Acheron

For the first time in five years, legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignola is both writing and illustrating a full-length comic book, one which provides the next chapter in the fabled Hellboy Universe. Titled Sir Edward Grey: Acheron, the one-shot story is set following the events of B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know, in which the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense managed to fight off the monsters on Earth long enough for humanity to barely escape underground. The story is Mignola’s first full-length comic book since Dark Horse Comics published Hellboy in Hell in 2016. Here he reunites with award-winning colorist Dave Stewart, as well as letterer and longtime collaborator Clem Robins. Dark Horse Comics will publish Sir Edward Grey: Acheron this winter, featuring a main cover by Mignola and Stewart and a variant cover by acclaimed artist Ben Stenbeck.   

Sir Edward Grey: Acheron will be published by Dark Horse Comics on December 1, 2021.

  • Sir Edward Grey: Acheron
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