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Review: American Carnage #4

AMERICAN CARNAGE #4

Edward Norton is one of those actors whose presence on onscreen is understated but resonant. The way he underplays most of his characters makes viewing them a pleasure as he understands the story is what makes the story. Most people don’t know that he co-wrote Frida, the movie about much-heralded and immortal Frida Kahlo. One of my favorite movies by him is Rounders, a movie where he showed his vulnerability.

Where I actually found about him was in American History X. It showed how a reformed Nazi had to reckon with his past. Though the movie had some tough scenes to watch, it showed the power of redemption. In the brilliantly crafted American Carnage #4, Wright finally infiltrates the organization which is much like in American History X, leading to some uncomfortable truths.

We open up on Jennifer Morgan talking to the police, as the detective assigned to the case, trying to assess if this was racially motivated and why. We eventually find out that Wynn might have dissension in the ranks, as what happened to Jennifer, maybe some type of message. Richard eventually reaches out to Sheila, who implores him to agitate the situation By the issue‘s end, someone guns down Richard, as what comes next is only that more complicated

Overall, a grand issue, American Carnage #4 changes the definition of “pulse-pounding”. The story by Bryan Edward Hill is outstanding. The art by the creative team is astonishing. Altogether, a story that may mean the end for one character.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle

Review: American Carnage #3

AMERICAN CARNAGE #3

There is that point in most procedural stories, where there is the line of no return. In the show The Shield, it was an often slippery slope for Vic Mackey and his crew. They not only chased after real criminals but they partook in criminal activities. This led to some close calls and the eventual arrest of this group. It showed that when one does not have remorse they have never really understood morality in the first place.

In the very first episode, they got rid of the very character who could have exposed them. This is where they solidified themselves as something quite different than anything else on the television landscape. It is was that line that Vic Mackey never had a problem crossing that most of us would not. In the brilliantly crafted American Carnage #3, Wright is on the crux of that point of no return.

We open on Wright right as the gang was about to kill a random black Man they found on the street, which due to unforeseen events, becomes messy, leading Wright to kill the man to deescalate the situation. We also find out in a flashback, that Wright during psych evaluation, was questioned about his racial identity and  how we would use it as motivation during this particular assignment. Before he could get his bearings, a masked man shows up to take an uncompromising picture of Richard, which can blow his cover and something the Neo Nazi group may be using as leverage. By Issue‘s end, someone looks to kill Morgan’s daughter, making the whole case even more bizarre.

Overall, American Carnage #3 is a great issue that delivers the story its twist. The issue by Bryan Edward Hill is excellent. The art by the creative team is stunning. Altogether, a story that up the stakes for its protagonist.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle

Review: American Carnage #2

American Carnage #2

Lawrence Fishburne is one of those actors whose presence onscreen gets you right away. Far from the fact that he is magnetic; the tenor of his voice makes him a force to be reckoned with. This is why I was excited to hear that he’ll be narrating the upcoming Audible adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Though these days, he is known more for Black-Ish, he got his start in bit roles for Spike Lee.

Those roles led to bigger roles, one of which was Deep Cover. That film’s is a brilliant procedural movie and an equally excellent character study. There was a point in the story where he had to prove his “worthiness,” a scene which showed Fishburne at his most commanding up to that point. In the second issue of brilliantly crafted American Carnage, Wright must prove his fealty to the Neo Nazis he is infiltrating.

We open on Wright at a party with Neo-Nazis , as he realizes this where he may be able to break the case. While Morgan’s daughter, Jennifer, steps into a conversation, where we find out those larger players are in the game, ones with more power and more legitimacy than Wynn Morgan ever dreamt of. Eventually, someone tries Richard, and he is more than happy to punch a Nazi.  By the issue‘s end, his initiation begins where his morals will be tested.

Overall, a great second issue, that insinuates the reader even deeper. The story by Bryan Edward Hill is first-rate. The art by the creative team is gorgeous Altogether, a sobering looks at a world that hate spawns.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindle

Review: American Ronin #1

American Ronin #1

At times, American Ronin #1 is quite the cathartic read. Basically, a cold, sunglasses wearing asshole takes out rich assholes by psychologically manipulating them in addition to the other, more traditional action hero skills like hand to hand combat and motorcycle chases through Hong Kong. Peter Milligan‘s elegant, yet brutal writing balances Aco’s zoom panels, grids, and decadent, mayhem-filled layouts. And then Dean White’s colors adding a finishing touch of atmosphere along with Sal Cipriano’s stern, straightforward letters. They all team up to tell the story of a day in the life of a very badass assassin.

Unlike his previous work on Midnighter and Nick Fury, Aco, for the most part, doesn’t use his grids, close-ups, and inset panels to show rapid-fire action. Instead, he uses these storytelling techniques to show the protagonist do his social engineering thing on the utterly empty and pathetic corporate billionaire Barrett Cornell and his cheekier counterpart, the billionaire heiress Gigi Lo, whose foot fetish and cheetahs on a leash are straight out of a Lana Del Rey music video. Aco frames Cornell and Lo in close-up as she teases and emasculates him and makes one of the most powerful men in the world suck her toes. Maybe a little kink shame-y, but Milligan and Aco do a good job building on it as they expand on Cornell’s emptiness. He might have wealth, power, sex workers at his beck and call, and an army of highly trained bodyguards, but this is meaningless because he’s just a pawn for a corporation. So, he just wants to die, and our protagonist has every intention of granting Cornell his wish.

For the most part, Peter Milligan and Aco find a happy medium between mind and body, or psychic and traditional action moments in American Ronin #1. Conversation is also a weapon in our protagonist, Lo, and by extension, Milligan’s hands. It’s a nice bit of schadenfreude to see Cornell go from holding court in a mansion or helicopter to falling on the ground in front of Lo, or having a breakdown as the protagonist (With a help of a DNA injection.) whispers his deepest, darkest thoughts at him. Aco channels a psychological horror director in this sequence with all kinds of ghoulish panels of Cornell’s eyes or the sweat and pills that surround him, and the openness of his penthouse that show how lonely he really is. It really works in tandem with Milligan’s dialogue and captions that cast him as a man in pain, who just wants release from his corporate overlords, but without a little psychic push from the protagonist, he would have continued to live his life of luxury.

Although, it is full of violence, both of the physical and mental variety, American Ronin #1 is actually a slice of life comic. The life of a special kind of enhanced and enigmatic assassin though. But, honestly, I give kudos to Peter Milligan for showing the ronin in action before peeling away layers of backstory or involving him in some mystery master plot. He has a simple job: get a very wealthy man to give into his suicide fantasies, and we get to see him execute this job throughout the first issue. It establishes the ronin’s competence and his role as a rugged individualist in a world that’s run by corporations, not nation states. And as far as individualists, our protagonist is more John Wick than John Galt. He’s not afraid to make a quick friend like Lo to get closer to his real target.

Also, it would be a waste of Aco and Dean White’s visual talents to have them draw just talking heads even though some of the dialogue sequences in American Ronin are more intense than the action ones. I do have one criticism of the art, and that is that it seems Aco is holding back as far as the scale and epicness of some of his layouts, especially in the action sequences, but that might just be him holding something in reserve for a big set piece in issue 3 or 4. The ballet of violence and viscera that he throws down in the last few pages are especially promising and show that the ronin isn’t as control of things as he seems.

American Ronin #1 is a fairly visual interesting action/assassin comic from Peter Milligan, Aco, and Dean White that isn’t weighed down by unnecessary exposition. Except for the last few pages, the book is fairly standalone and has a grindhouse (But slicker.) or darkly humorous tone. If you like John Woo movies, but also want to guillotine Jeff Bezos, then American Ronin is worth checking out.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Aco
 Colors: Dean White Letters: Sal Cipriano
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.2 Overall: 7.9 Recommendation: Buy

AWA/Upshot provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: American Carnage #1

American Carnage #1

Hate is one of those things that human beings have felt since the beginning of time. What has changed as of recent is that certain types of hate have become more acceptable. What was abhorred only a few years ago has been encouraged by certain people in power. The 2016 election and what has happened since has shown that America has not made any real progress from the founding of our country.

Certain hate groups have found themselves to be not so much “true” villains anymore. Morals have truly become divided along party lines.  Which brings me to question would someone or anyone who believes in hate be considered a “good person”? In the debut issue of brilliantly crafted American Carnage, writer Bryan Edward Hill and the creative team seeks to explore those lines of divide as an FBI agent goes undercover in a Neo Nazi group.

We open on FBI Agent Curry where she is testifying before an ethics board on the incident which led to her injuries. We soon find out a Neo-Nazi group terrorized a family Curry had befriended as the domestic terrorists firebombed their home with them in it. We also meet a former FBI Agent, Richard Wright, who now works as a private detective. Curry tries to convince Wright that there is something more sinister to a local politician. While it might seem on the surface nothing is there there’s clearly something brewing.

Overall, an excellent debut issue that drops you into a world that is unfortunately way too familiar. The story by Hill is excellent. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a sobering looks at the ugliness hiding in plain sight.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Dawn of X Vol. 1

Dawn of X is well into the launch and Marvel is bundling issues of the new X-Men line of comics in easy to consumer trades.

Dawn of X Vol. 1 includes first issues of X-Men, Marauders, Excalibur, New Mutants, X-Force, and Fallen Angels. Read reviews of each issue at the links.

Story: Jonathan Hickman, Gerry Duggan, Tini Howard, Ed Brisson, Benjamin Percy, and Bryan Edward Hill
Art: Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Matteo Lolli, Marcus To, Rod Reis, Joshua Cassara, Szymon Kudranski
Color: Sunny Gho, Federico Blee, Erick Arciniego, Rod Reis, Dean White, Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Cory Petit, Travis Lanham, Joe Caramagna, Joe Sabino

Get your copy in comic shops now and bookstores on February 25! 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.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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: X-Force #2

X-Force #2

While the first issue didn’t impress me too much, X-Force #2 makes up for it with tight storytelling and addressing issues I’ve been having with Hickman’s X-vision.

Xavier lays dead and Cerebro destroyed. There’s lots of issues with this, the first being that Cerebro was a helmet apparently and not a supercomputer decentralized and backed up. Krakoa and the mutant nation are in a panic and roll into their plan to revive Xavier, resurrecting him like they’ve done so many others.

Writer Benjamin Percy delivers some pathos here. You can feel the fear and anxiety of the unknown. It almost is enough to get you to overlook the flaws presented in how Hickman has created the mutant nation. It also delivers the first real issue with the constant deus ex machina that is resurrection.

But where Percy’s story really stands out is Wolverine and Kid Omega who are on a mission to find the people responsible for Xavier’s assassination. It’s not the action or the update on the classic Reavers that’s interesting. What’s said between the two characters are. Kid Omega expresses mutant superiority of humans, saying this is Xavier’s vision. Wolverine clearly doesn’t agree and dismisses the talk at one point shuffling the philosophy to Magneto instead. It’s the first real schism and rejection of the superior of Homo Superior. It also ties back to my (controversial) interpretation that Hickman’s X-Men are one fighting for supremacy, not just survival. They see themselves as more and don’t want equality.

It’s here we’re starting to see the cracks really form in Dawn of X.

The art by Joshua Cassara is solid. Along with colors by Dean White and Joe Caramagna‘s lettering, the art style matches the morose feel of the situation. There’s also small details throughout the issue that helps build the world further or further emphasizes themes in the issue. It’s a solid combination of art of story. Add in the horror like visuals of the new threat and you’ve got a hell of mix of art and story.

X-Force #2 is a solid comic vastly improving on the first. It doesn’t tip its hand early and instead does the opposite revealing tidbits as the story moves along. It’s a solid mix of reflection on events and action. Though not the traditional team book, this is more the X-Force I was looking for.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Joshua Cassara
Color: Dean White Letterer: Joe Caramagna Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Meet the Mutant World’s Special Ops Team with a limited-time Digital Director’s Cut of X-Force #1!

The high price of a new dawn! X-Force is the CIA of the mutant world—one half intelligence branch, one half special ops. Beast, Jean Grey and Sage on one side, Wolverine, Kid Omega and Domino on the other. In a perfect world, there would be no need for an X-Force. But we’re not there… yet. Creators Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara deliver this impactful series that follows the flipside to the X-Men’s new status quo. And, for a limited time, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at this all-new X-Force!

Those who have preordered or purchased a digital copy of X-Force #1 before 11/20/19, 11:59 PM ET, will instead receive the DIRECTOR’S CUT edition of X-FORCE (2019-) #1!*

This exclusive content will feature a draft of #1’s script, inked pages, color pages, a variant cover gallery and more! Not only will you receive this buzzed-about issue – you’ll see the building blocks of its creation! Limited time offer, act now!

X-FORCE (2019-) #1 DIRECTOR’S CUT

$4.99
Written by BENJAMIN PERCY
Art by JOSHUA CASSARA, DEAN WHITE, VARIOUS
Cover by JOSHUA CASSARA, DEAN WHITE
On Sale NOW!

X-FORCE (2019-) #1 DIRECTOR’S CUT

Offer Details

*Limited time offer. You must purchase or pre-order a digital copy of X-Force (2019-) #1 before 11:59 p.m. ET November 20, 2019 to receive the X-Force (2019-) #1 Director’s Cut. On November 21, 2019, 12:01 a.m. the Director’s Cut is available for purchase at $7.99.  Those who subscribe to the series will receive the standard edition of X-Force (2019-) #1. Offer is limited to one per person. The offer expires on 11:59 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019. Marvel and ComiXology reserve the right to modify or cancel the offer at any time. Offer is valid for one-time use only, is non-transferable and may not be resold. If any of the products or content related to this offer are returned, your refund will equal the amount you paid for the product or content, subject to applicable refund policies. If you violate any of these terms, the offer will be invalid.

Review: X-Force #1

X-Force is back and they’re the mutants intelligence gathering and covert unit. So what threat could get past them?

Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Joshua Cassara
Color: Dean White
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Design: Tom Muller

Get your copy in comic shops 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.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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: X-Force #1

X-Force #1

X-Force #1 kicks off the “CIA” of the X-Men world. The debut issue emphasizes that part of this group’s role is intelligence gathering and part covert-ops. Unfortunately, the issue misses the group part. It’s full of poor foreshadowing. And leaves us with an ending that will clearly be undone. It’s a comic with cool moments and the depth of a summer mindnumbing blockbuster.

Written by Benjamin Percy, the comic is a series of focusing on individual characters as opposed to a cohesive team. While the title is X-Force, you might have called it Black Tom works security. The issue revolves around a few individuals as we learn more about Krakoa’s stance with the world and the threats it faces with its new international standing.

Percy’s writing is a bit forced in that it’s so clearly foreshadowing for the latter part of the issue. It’s a bit too obvious as to what’s going to happen and who it’s going to happen to. That includes the death of a character. But, that death rings rather hollow due to what we know. We know mutants can be brought back. So, the fact there’s fear of death, or really shock of it is rather silly. It also loses jaw dropping value. Deaths used to mean something, even with all of the resurrections. Now, with no implications, the concept when it comes to mutants seems even sillier.

The art by Joshua Cassara is pretty solid. There’s some fantastic moments within the comic. With colors of Dean White and lettering by Joe Caramagna, the comic has the grittiness we’d expect from an X-Force comic but misses the doom and gloom. There’s also a large amount of varied characters involved and each stands out in design and uniqueness. The detail is great.

X-Force #1 lacks the feel of a team book the title implies. Instead, it feels like a guide to Krakoa security using characters to highlight aspects. There’s also just too much foreshadowing to take events beyond eye rolls. It’s got some great concepts but the execution is lacking.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Joshua Cassara
Color: Dean White Letterer: Joe Caramagna Design: Tom Muller
Story: 6.0 Art: 8.25 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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