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Murder Falcon Gets Variants by Tyrell Cannon, Ryan Ottley and Lorenzo de Felici

Image and Skybound Entertainment unleash three more jaw-dropping covers in the “Heavy Metal” variant line for Daniel Warren Johnson’s Murder Falcon—this time with artwork by Tyrell Cannon and Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn, and Lorenzo de Felici for issues #3-5 of the series respectively.

Cannon and Beaulieu’s artwork will pay homage to Bolt Thrower’s War Master album cover, Ottley and Rathburn’s to Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power album cover, and de Felici’s to Yngwie Malmsteen’s Trilogy album cover.

Each issue of the head-banging action series, Murder Falcon, features a “Heavy Metal” variant that pays tribute to a different classic heavy metal album cover. A variety of brutally talented artists will contribute to this variant cover line.

Murder Falcon #3 Cover B by Tyrell Cannon & Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Diamond Code SEP188094) will hit stores on Wednesday, December 12th. The final order cutoff deadline for comic shop retailers is Monday, November 19th.

Murder Falcon #4 Cover B by Ryan Ottley & Cliff Rathburn (Diamond Code SEP188095) will hit stores on Wednesday, January 9th. The final order cutoff deadline for comic shop retailers is Monday, December 10th.

Murder Falcon #5 Cover B by Lorenzo De Felici (Diamond Code DEC180265) will hit stores on Wednesday, February 13th.

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 Back to Basics

It’s a new beginning for Spider-Man as Peter Parker and Spider-Man goes back to basics. No more big business and lots of money, this is sad sack Peter we know and love.

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 Back to Basics collects issues #1-5 and Free Comic Book Day 2018 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, Laura Martin, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores on December 11! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle
TFAW

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man #1

An alien invasion hits New York City and the only one who can stop it is…Spider-Man?! But that’s far from all you’ll find here – a revelation from the past puts Peter Parker’s job, relationships, and whole life in jeopardy! And if even that’s not enough, you’ll see a new roommate, new love interests – and a new villain!

Despite by disdain for writer Nick Spencer‘s recent Secret Empire, his writing on Superior Foes of Spider-Man (which if you haven’t read, it’s excellent) had me interesting in reading his debut on Spider-Man with The Amazing Spider-Man #1. After one issue, I already long for Dan Slott. Spencer excels when he focuses on humor but it seems that’s only the case when paired with artist Steve Lieber, his partner in crime on Superior and Spencer’s Image Comics series The Fix. Here, he works with artist Ryan Ottley coming off of his impressive work on Skybound’s Invincible.

Spencer’s first focus? Stripping everything that’s left of Peter Parker really setting him up for basics and to start from scratch. He’s already lost his company but what’s left to take? Spencer finds some things and in that sense the comic is interesting. The issue is that everything is delivered in such quick, rapid, bursts, it’s hard to stay focused. Again, this feels like Spencer’s previous comedic work, but this issue shows that Lieber was a key to bringing the quick hits together into a cohesive narrative.

Ottley’s work looks good. In fact, it looks like Ottley’s previous work in that Peter and MJ look a lot like the characters from Invincible. Ottley has a distinctive style and while characters vary, there’s a familiarity of them that makes them all seem a bit too recognizable. Ottley is joined by inker Cliff Rathburn, colorist Laura Martin, and letterer Joe Caramagna. The art combined with the story creates an ADD-like experience that can’t focus and delivers a lot in a scattershot way. It looks good though, and there’s a lot thrown in there for Ottley and crew to work with as so many heroes are depicted (and since when is Black Cat a good guy again?) doing battle.

The comic sets up a lot and features a return to the more humorous Spencer but something doesn’t click like his previous work. I can only conclude it’s the art which doesn’t gell. There’s some good ideas though, and potential fun. But, when a first issue has you longing for the previous creative team, that’s not a good sign. Spencer had a goal with this issue, strip everything that Peter still has and in that sense, it succeeds in setting up what’s to come with a new direction.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Ryan Ottley
Ink: Cliff Rathburn Color: Laura Martin Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.25 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Walking Dead #177

Meet Officer Mercer, the newest individual we’re introduced to living in the “New World Order” that is the Commonwealth. The Walking Dead #177 is broken up into a few parts and while each segment varies greatly, each emphasizes the focus on the living with the series.

Rick is with Mikey who is working through issues through poetry an interesting aspect in a world where danger is around every corner and the dead have risen. There’s a focus on addressing loss and trauma of what’s going on and with Rick involved he is of course still dealing with the loss of Andrea. It’s an interesting an important segment as it shows that things are relatively stable but there’s still emotional turmoil. A segment with Maggie as well shows this aspect of stability. After everything that has happened, this is a time when you can let your guard down and enjoy things a bit.

Emotion is the name of the game of this issue as Michonne is reunited with her daughter Elodie. We learn Elodie’s story and are reminded of the horrible things everyone has done or had done to them to survive. It’s emotional and writer Robert Kirkman as usual does a solid job of focusing on the human aspect of the story. The series isn’t about surviving the dead, it’s about living in a world of the dead.

We’re also introduced to Mercer and Governor Milton’s son. This is the first sign that things aren’t perfect in the world of the Commonwealth and indicates where the next bit of turmoil is coming from. The series has done a good job of keeping the crazy hidden but we readers know there’s no way this new community can be as good as it’s presented. The cracks are visible here and it’s hard to know who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation. Unlike with other communities, the sides are a bit grey. Kirkman gives us something familiar but changes it up just enough to keep it interesting.

The art by Charlie Adlard, with ink by Stefano Gaudiano, and gray tones by Cliff Rathburn is excellent as always. Each new character has so much personality and the emotion of the story is driven as much by the art as it is by the story itself. That’s equally impressive since the story is in black and white which changes up how we “read” the scenes a bit more. It emphasizes Adlard’s line work and the detail, or lack of, added to each scene and character. The lettering by Rus Wooton too adds to the emotion of it all making it a bit clearer how dialogue is delivered. Slight bolding helps emphasize a word.

This new arc has been a slow but solid build introducing us to this new world and letting the malice (or expected malice) build. Is it in our minds considering the series history? Or, is there something up with these new characters and community that spells trouble for our heroes. Is it all too good to be true and this is the quiet before the storm? Kirkman and team know how to build to a cathartic explosion and this latest arc feels like it’s building to something, I just don’t know what.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard Cover: Charlie Adlard Cover Color: Dave Stewart
Ink: Stefano Gaudiano Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Letterer: Rus Wooton Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Walking Dead #176

The “New World Order” is here as Michonne and her group has made contact with a new community and things are definitely no longer the same. The Walking Dead #176 picks up right where you’d expect with Michonne distraught over the discovery that her daughter may be alive and has been looking for her.

That emotional ride is the driver of this issue as writer Robert Kirkman plays with that moment extending the tension, fear, hope, and more of the group throughout the issue.

What Kirkman does that’s really interesting is call back to a meeting with another Governor that eventually went off the rails. Like Michonne and our protagonists, we too are weary based on what we know.

Helping Kirkman is the art by Charlie Adlard with ink by Stefano Gaudiano, gray tones by Cliff Rathburn, and lettering by Rus Wooton. There’s a cleanliness and orderly sense of it all that’s emphasized through the art, not just the words. That order ups the tension as things progresses through the story. We get glimpses of reality at times but it’s the small detail in the art that provides more clues as to the world than what’s delivered in the dialogue. The images tell as much of a story as the dialogue.

This issue, while simple, is all about that emotional journey and build up to the cathartic end. It’s an emotional roller coaster that pays off in a build up throughout the issue. Kirkman is a master of this type of storytelling and here’s a prime example of setting the mood, building tension, and letting it build to release.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard
Ink: Stefano Gaudiano Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Lettering: Rus Wooton Cover Colors: Dave Stewart
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Walking Dead #175

New friends. New enemies. New threats. It’s a whole new world as “New World Order” kicks off with The Walking Dead #175.

175 issues and it’s kind of hard to surprise us anymore but write Robert Kirkman has managed to do exactly that with the first part to the new story arc “New Wold Order.” The Walking Dead #175 is impressive in that it not only creates some tense moments but also delivers something that generally feels new and interesting. It also leaves us with an ending that’s a bit shocking.

It’s hard to really review this issue because saying why it’s so good will ruin the fun and surprise.

The issue focuses on Michonne’s group that has been traveling to meet a mysterious individual they’ve only talked to through radio. The last issue ended with them making contact and this new community may or may not be friendly.

Kirkman uses the issue to play with that keeping the interaction tense and leaving the reader to constantly question what’s going to happen. We meet new individuals, and the glimpse of a new community and possibly way of doing things. What’s revealed is intriguing and absolutely lives up to the title of the arc. But, it’s that last few pages where your heart races and what’s revealed is game changing.

The art as always is great. Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn take Kirkman’s script and presents it in a way that enhances the tense nature of it all. New characters too are instantly recognizable with personality. The art especially helps to the story in a way beyond what’s said. Each piece of armor, how characters look, it all allows the reader to get a better idea of what might be going on.

A fantastic issue that has me excited to see what’s next.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard Ink: Stefano Gaudiano
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Lettering: Rus Wooton
Story: Art: Overall: Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Underrated: Green Valley

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Green Valley



Published by Image, Green Valley was written by Max Landis and features art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, inks by Cliff Rathburn and colours by Jean Francois Beaulieu. The wonderful hardcover collection in my hands collects nine issues and will set you back $29.99 (I paid for this out of my own pocket, and happily so, even though I probably had access to the single issue review copies).

So what’s the story about?

GreenValleyHC.jpg

The knights of Kelodia are the finest in the land, but they’ve never faced a POWER like the one that resides in the Green Valley. Now they’re about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—to stop a wizard and slay his dragons—but there’s no such thing as magic or dragons…is there? 

You may have noticed by reading this column that I tend to enjoy stories set in and around medieval times, even though I don’t tend to read that many comics set in that era (or at least I didn’t until this year). So when my LCS suggested I pick this up (it was on the counter and the owner told me I’d like it) I did so without question because sometimes I don’t want to read superhero comics.

One of the first things I noticed was that the hardcover itself just feels utterly wonderful in your hands.  The above image is of the hardcover, with the comic art inset slightly into the gold and green cover of the book itself in an effect that really doesn’t translate as well in the image as it does in person, but it does give you a hint about the nature of the story, which aside from the cover and text on the back I entered utterly blindly – and I fell in love.

green valley interior 2.jpg

Green Valley is the kind of book that you will want to read in a single sitting – it grabs you right from the start as you’re introduced to the legendary Knights of Kelodia (all four of them) as they face down a barbarian horde in a brilliant sequence that’s full of dry humour, a genuine feeling camaraderie from the knights  and tense knightly masculinity all wrapped up in some beautiful visuals that are some of the nicest pure-comic pages I’ve seen in quite some time. Were I reviewing this here, I’d be giving this at least 9’s across the board and telling you to buy this without question – the story and art genuinely took me by surprise and had me forget that I really should be doing a bunch of other stuff for the hour or so I sat enraptured in this story.green valley interior.jpg

Without spoiling anything, it’s tough to explain why I loved this story, but that won’t stop me from trying. Green Valley is a very intelligently written book, with dialogue that is, at times, so sharp you could loose a finger. There are moments that span the gamut of human emotion for the characters, and will have you laughing out loud and pumping your fist as the story goes on – just as you’ll feel gut-punched at certain other moment. Max Landis has written one hell of a story that deserves a very special place on your shelf.

Now excuse me while I go reread it (no, I’m not saying that for effect – I’m actually going to reread it now).


 

Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Review: The Walking Dead #173

Jesus is confronted on the road…

When the last issue ended it didn’t look good for Jesus and Aaron as the two were confronted, preyed upon might be a better way to say it, by Beta, the remaining leader of the Whisperers. The Walking Dead #173 kicks off with some action as Jesus and Aaron have to take on Beta and a few followers, fighting for their lives. Writer Robert Kirkman feels like he’s wrapping up this last chapter of the series with this issue. It closes the Whisperers’ chapter in a way as we not only get a solid fight but also a reveal of Beta’s face, and a background in some way.

It’s an interesting choice as it does close a chapter, possibly, but is smart in that it takes care of open ended threads as the series heads into the next announced storyline “New World Order” which looks to be laid out here in this issue. Michonne and her crew have made it to their destination in Ohio and after a few slightly tense issues… well, we’ll leave you to read and find out for yourself.

Charlie Adlard provides the pencils along with Stefano Gaudiano on inks and Cliff Rathburn on gray tones. As always, the art is solid in its depictions and stands out in making every character unique and stand out (even zombies all have their own personalities). This issue in particular uses space and black/darkness to set a tone for both halves of the main story (and the other plots that are touched upon). Space use is an interesting one and emphasizes some of the aspects of each scene. Rick mourning Andrea with lots of space invokes his emptiness and loneliness.

The issue is a decent one and helps wraps some things up but it does so in a way that feels a little rushed and forced in. It’s almost like a “oh crap I need to end this story before we get to the next.” Things easily could have been left open for fans to ponder and never answered, and things would have been satisfying in their own way. With this route a chapter closes and maybe a new one opens through it. It’s an epilogue that’s unexpected and doesn’t feel necessary.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard Ink: Stefano Gaudiano
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn 
Cover: Dave Stewart, Charlie Adlard
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Green Valley #1

greenvalley01_cover“It all began with one mistake…”

These words appear on the bottom of the cover of Green Valley #1. Written in red Old English surrounding a coat of arms made up of the four Knights of Kelodia, a band of merry men who seem to joke their way through battle in a story that seems half King Arthur and half Lethal Weapon. Now before you scoff at that or let your imagination go wild to the point of confusion, this is very much a fantasy tale wrapped in a buddy cop comedy. I was pleasantly surprised at how funny the writing was in this book, not because I doubt Max Landis as a writer, I love his work, but more because when I first heard about Green Valley, I thought this was going to be a very dark and dreary bloody tale. Well, much like real life, it is both light and dark.

The first three-quarters or more of this book is fun, light-hearted, and made me smile. The pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli, the ink by Cliff Rathburn, and the colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu are so breathtaking that it made me feel like I was looking at a gorgeous cartoon that was paused on the best moments. Seriously, the colors in this book are incredible. The art overall makes me feel like it is somewhere between an anime and an old fantasy cartoon like The Hobbit.

The characters feel over the top, but in a good way. The back and forth banter between Sir Bertwald and Sir Ralphus is fantastic. This is where the buddy cop comedy comes into play. Even on the battlefield where they face an army of hundreds with their small group of four, they are cracking jokes and teasing each other. Yes it is silly but is done so well that you want more of it. The other half of the Knights of Kelodia are Sir Gulliver and Sir Indrid. While we see these two knights, this is very much the tale of Bertwald, and Ralphus.

No story would be complete without a villain, and we are given the massive, axe-wielding, self-proclaimed warrior king, Brutus Gargus of Pendergast. We only see Brutus in the beginning of the book, and then again once more, so we still do not know if he is truly the big bad in this book. Then again, there are a lot of things we do not know about Green Valley, but I cannot wait to find out more.

This book went from something I was thinking of picking up eventually simply because of the mention of knights, dragons, and the fantasy setting to an absolute must read. Do yourself a favor, and enter the Green Valley, it is beautiful.

Story: Max Landis Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Ink: Cliff Rathburn Color: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Skybound provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Walking Dead #158

the-walking-dead-158The Whisper War” part two ups the action and balances a hell of a lot in this tension-filled issue from writer Robert Kirkman, artist Charlie Adlard, with inks by Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn on gray tones.

The Walking Dead #158 is the first massive clash between Rick and the Whisperers with bodies piling up and things looking really grim for every side. I say every side because this issue really sets up a lot of sides as help is sent and not sent by Rick’s various allies.

The issue is one bit battle interspersed with cut scenes at what’s happening outside of the battle back in the various camps/towns, the politicking occurring by the various groups. Those scenes are key as they up the tension leaving you wondering if those battling will see help come or if they’ll be overrun by the hoard of walkers and Whisperers.

Then there’s Negan.

In some ways you could call this “All Out War 2: Electric Boogaloo” as the issue revolves a lot around Negan’s actions. Will he betray Dwight and his team? Is he really on board “Team Rick?” Is he still out for himself and doing what he wants? We expect him to turn at any moment and that’s part of the fantastic tension of the issue. Will he or won’t he? Kirkman keeps us guessing until the very end.

The action is brutal and Adlard, Gaudiano, and Rathburn don’t hold back as intestines fall to the ground, heads are lopped off, and folks are stabbed. There’s lots of stabbing. They also do an excellent job of using the walkers/Whisperer shots to enhance the chaos of not knowing who’s human and who’s not. The art drives that part really well and as a reader I caught myself looking into crowd shots trying to figure that out.

The issue is a solid one packed with action and tension and most importantly has me wanting to see what happens next.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard Ink: Stefano Gaudiano Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Story: 8 Art: 8.45 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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