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Jackson Hyde Makes Waves in Aquaman: The Becoming

Jackson Hyde finally has it all. Mentors who support him, a community that loves him, an honest relationship with his mother, a cute new guy in Amnesty Bay who’s caught his eye, and access to Aquaman’s private training facility in Atlantis. Well, he had it all—until that training facility and half of the Atlantean palace got blown to kingdom come with Jackson in them. Now Jackson stands accused of wrecking the life he worked so hard to build. Aqualad’s going to need all of his skills, wit, and cunning just to prove his own innocence, let alone graduate from sidekick to Aquaman!

Written by Brandon Thomas and drawn by Diego Olortegui, along with artists Wade von Grawbadger, Scott Koblish, Skylar Patridge, and Adriano LucasAquaman: The Becoming is a six-issue miniseries that will shine the spotlight on the DC Universe’s newest Aqualad for the very first time! Take a look into the first issue and, to be sure you get a copy at launch, preorder Aquaman: The Becoming from your local comic shop before August 29! Aquaman: The Becoming #1 arrives wherever comic books are sold on September 21.

Throughout the new series Jackson will have to confront his past (including a visit to the destroyed and abandoned West Coast Titans Tower!), survive the fight of his life with the mysterious new villain DELUGE, and much more! Is this Aqualad ready to become Aquaman?

Jackson Hyde officially arrives and will headline Aquaman: The Becoming #1 on September 21, but before his big first issue hits shelves, his journey will kick off in Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1 on August 31 with a short story by Thomas, Olortegui, von Grawbadger and Lucas! Stay tuned!

Aquaman: The Becoming by Brandon Thomas, Diego Olortegui, Wade von Grawbadger, Scott Koblish, Skylar Patridge and Adriano Lucas will be available in print and as a digital comic book. Lettering for the series will be by AndWorld Design’s Deron Bennett. Covers are by David Talaski and variant covers are by Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez. Francis Manapul’s variant cover for Aquaman: The Becoming #1 connects to his variant cover for Black Manta #1 (on sale September 7).

Vault Announces World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw, a Vampire: The Masquerade Event

Vault Comics has announced World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw, a multi-property World of Darkness event that spins out of Vault’s smash hit Vampire: The Masquerade comic book series. In World of Darkness, there is more lurking in the shadows than just vampires, and this event will shine a light on just what else hides in the night.

The World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw event will be told by a murderers row of the best comic creators working today. The series is written by Jim ZubTim SeeleyBlake HowardTini Howard, and Danny Lore, drawn by Julius Ohta, colored by Addison Duke, lettered by Deron Bennett, and designed by Tim Daniel. The series will feature covers from legendary horror artists Aaron Campbell and Joshua Hixson.

In World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw, Cecily Bain has become everything she never wanted as The Prince of the Twin Cities. But her rule over a fractured, backbiting vampire court is interrupted by an intruder—something big, hairy, and full of teeth. For over a century, werewolves of the Twin Cities have protected their blessed places from threats both physical and spiritual. When vampires under Cecily rule move in on one of these precious sites, it’s a declaration of war, one that Tyrell ‘the Stainless’ Stinar and his ferocious pack will avenge at any cost.

The three-issue event will launch in September 2021. Making the series even tastier for fans of Vampire: The Masquerade, each issue of World of Darkness: Crimson Thaw will include exclusive gaming material for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition of the tabletop RPG from Renegade Game Studios, allowing players to actually play the events of the series in their own games.

Summoners War: Legacy #3 Goes to Battle in a First Look

Image Comics and Skybound, in partnership with game publisher Com2uS, have unveiled a look at Summoners War: Legacy #3 from writer Justin Jordan and artist Luca Claretti with colors by Giovanna Niro and lettering by Deron Bennett. The battle for the land of Alea continues on June 23.

After last issue’s stunning turn of events, Abuus Dein faces off against rogue summoner Voss Ayers in a battle for the ages!

Summoners War: Legacy takes place 35 years before the universe-shattering conflict at the original mobile game’s center. The comic series features fan-favorite monsters, explores the fate of Durand’s parents, and expands on the mystical land of Alea and its colorful characters including Abuus, Rai, and Tomas. This riveting addition to Summoners War canon brings a rich lore to the franchise and draws new connections to the upcoming and existing Summoners War games that fans know and love.

Review: Harley Quinn #2

Harley Quinn #2

DC Future State debuted a neon Gotham protected not by Batman but a fascist police force. In the current pages of the various Bat-family comics, we’re seeing the first steps toward that bright but dark future. Harley Quinn was an interesting take on the character focused on her degrees in counseling and PhD in psychology. This wasn’t the clownish Harley but one with quips and using all of her abilities. With it’s debut, Harley Quinn also showed us some steps towards that take with Harley in Gotham attempting to make amends for her crimes. Harley Quinn #2 continues her growth and delivers fun action and a foe for her to focus on.

Stephanie Phillips has knocked it out of the park with her take on the character. Balancing physicality, laughs, and smarts, this Harley Quinn is the complete package and not just a comedic foil to whomever she’s with. Harley Quinn #2 focuses a bit on her next steps and goals as she has decided she wants to help “The Clowns”. But, Hugo Strange has been “rehabilitated” to do the same, except he has city backing. And to Strange, Harley is the ultimate clown to rehabilitate.

Phillips gives us a fun Harley but one that’s about growth. She still acts out and doesn’t quite get how to act around people, but you can tell she wants to do good. That’s helped with her new sidekick Kevin. Kevin joined the clowns during the “Joker War” committing a crime and clearly wants to make amends. He delivers a character you actually want to hug. He’s the clay by which Harley can mold some good.

Phillips does an amazing job of balancing everything in the comic. We have Harley acting out with some hilarious results. There’s some solid action. Then there’s Kevin who makes you want to say “awe” and squeeze him. One issue in and I actually care for the character. And the comic pulls it all off with a sort of glee.

That’s helped by the art. Riley Rossmo delivers his kinetic style to the comic and it fits so well. Ivan Plascencia‘s colors pop as well. The combination is an impressive duo that nails down the character and tone of the series so well. There’s an energy about the comic that oozes from the page. Deron Bennett does an amazing job of packing in so much dialogue at times and with it keeps the chatter flowing and never once distracts from the art. This team, along with Phillips’ scripts, is an amazing one that’s firing on all cylinders.

Harley Quinn #2 is such a fantastic issue. It takes you on a ride and ranges of emotions. The fact I already love Kevin as a character and am cheering for him says everything. Sadly, I’m already attached so fully expect something terrible will happen. For now though, like Harley, I want him, and this comic, by my side.

Story: Stephanie Phillips Art: Riley Rossmo
Color: Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Harley Quinn #1

Harley Quinn #1

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Harley Quinn. I always felt the character was more interesting (for me) as part of an ensemble and not the center spotlight. I’m also not a fan of the more slapstick take, instead, I like the bit more goofy but very intelligent version that’s torn between different worlds. DC Future State delivered a take I hadn’t seen before, focused on her background as a psychiatrist as she took on Gotham’s worst. She still delivered laughs and a bit of manic self and very interesting insight into others. Harley Quinn #1 kicks off a new volume for the character set back in the present and a Harley who’s attempting to make amends for her past misdeeds.

Stephanie Phillips continues to guide Harley on her adventures giving us a character who’s still a bit out there but also one you can relate to a lot more. Harley has made mistakes, being the sidekick to a mass-murderer will do that. She now has a clean slate due to her work with the Suicide Squad and she wants to make things right. But where to start?

Phillips gives us a Harley with a mission. She has a clear focus now and it’s not random adventures. She wants to do the right thing but she’s not completely sure how to go about that. She’ll also need to face her past. It’s a solid direction for the character who has been an anti-hero for so long after her villain roots. Harley Quinn #1 has the character really making her “face” turn as she attempts to be a hero. And to me, that’s really interesting.

The debut issue has Batman who is rather skeptical of her abilities and intent. She has to now deal with not having income as a hero (this seems to be a popular topic lately). She’s starting over. Harley Quinn #1 is a woman who has finally broken away from an abusive relationship and life and is starting over. There’s a lot of potential in that. Most importantly, it entertains too.

Riley Rossmo helps deliver a kinetic punch to Phillips story through the art. It’s in Rossmo’s distinctive style with color by Ivan Plascencia and lettering by Deron Bennett. Rossmo’s art is perfect for the character as it captures the energy she has. It matches her energetic personality. The colors pop adding to it all and Bennett’s lettering often delivers the punchline in dialogue delivery. The trio come together to capture and create the feel of the comic and character. It’s a perfect mix of humor, action, and some more grounded emotional moments. You get the sense of the highs and lows of Harley throughout.

Harley Quinn #1 is the first Harley comic that has me hooked in to really check out what’s next. I like Phillips’ take on the character and mixed with the art, it has a fun punch to it all. It’s a fresh start for the character and is a solid jumping-on point for new readers and a pivot point for long-time fans.

Story: Stephanie Phillips Art: Riley Rossmo
Color: Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.35 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Batman: Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1

As seen in The Lego Batman Movie, the Arkham video games, and the Batman comics of the 1990s and early 2000s, Batman’s strength is in the world and characters that he creates access to. Whether that’s his allies, villains, nooks and crannies of Gotham, or even police officers that he either works with or against, these personalities and settings are why I continue to return to the Batman side of the DC Universe. The creators of Batman: Urban Legends #1 understand this and flesh out different Batman-adjacent characters and even sometimes explore their relationship to the Dark Knight while also telling action, romance, and crime stories.

First up in this Gotham-themed anthology is the beginning of a six part Batman and Red Hood serial where Batman and his former protege-turned-killer vigilante (He’s switched to rubber bullets for the moment.) investigate a source of a hallucinatory street drug tackily called Cheerdrops. Writer Chip Zdarsky has a firm grasp on Jason Todd’s voice, including the darkness inside his soul and his hunger for justice, especially for Gotham’s beleaguered working class. Artists Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas nail the grit of the city with explosive linework and jagged layouts to go with a color palette that has had all the light sucked out of it. However, Excalibur’s Marcus To does the art in the flashbacks, which features brighter colors as well as simpler, cleaner lines with a more traditional superhero feel even though one of the scenes is set during “Under the Red Hood” when Jason Todd came back from the dead and started killing criminals.

“Batman and Red Hood” is also a study in contrasts in how two very different crime fighters deal with the same crisis. Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and is super methodical with Barrows and Ferreria drawing him looking at the chemical makeup of Cheerdrops CSI-style, and his All-Star Superman-esque moment with a jumper is less feel-good and more evidence collection. On the other hand, Jason fights crime with his guts and heart and even admits in a wry line from Zdarsky that he’s not a great detective as he struggles to find a Cheerdrop stash house. However, he does find a boy named Tyler, and of course, Jason is great with kids and even lets him wear part of his mask while he looks for his dad in a dodgy part of Gotham. Zdarsky, Barrows, and Ferreira create something truly heartwarming between Jason Todd and Tyler.

There’s a throughline between this and the flashbacks where Batman (Portrayed as more of an action figure than man by To) struggles being a father figure to Jason, and Alfred does the job perfectly because he sees him as a human being and not an obstacle in his war on crime. Chip Zdarsky writes Alfred Pennyworth as the perfect parent to the Bat-family, who isn’t afraid to tell Batman that he’s full of shit and chooses compassion over a closed fist. And speaking of Batman, I love how Zdarsky doesn’t give him an inner monologue and depicts him more as a force of nature than a gun toting, broken man like Jason Todd, who agonizes over every decision and whose interaction with Tyler bring back memories of his mom who died of a drug overdose. Also, he’s not afraid to go a little dark, and Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira jagged layouts and emotional poses are along for the ride.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

The second story in Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an eight page Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy one-off from writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Laura Braga, and colorist Ivan Plascencia. Plascencia is this story’s secret weapon that shows the happy, hilarious times of Harley and Ivy’s first dates and the bleak current times for Harley as she has moved back to Gotham in her solo title and as a recurring character in Batman. Braga’s art is expressive and high energy for both the good times (Harley and Ivy smooching and snapping selfies) and bad times (A sudden bolt of lightning shattering their pictures), and she is a good fit for a story that isn’t centered around a heist or fight against a superhero, but a relationship. She and Phillips tap into the depth of feelings that Harley has for Ivy, and through some handy plant symbolism, they create hope for the relationship that has become very popular for fans in the past decade. “Harley and Ivy” is a nice, nearly slice of life oasis in the midst of the three other stories, which have more moving parts.

The third story in this comic is a 10 page “Outsiders” feature by Brandon Thomas, Max Dunbar, and Luis Guerrero starring Black Lightning, Katana, and an interesting take on Metamorpho. Thomas turns in kind of a mystery plot with the story starting with Black Lightning and an unseen Metamorpho in a Japanese prison before cutting to a bonkers, two page spread of a speedboat chase. Unlike the previous two stories in Batman: Urban Legends #1, Thomas and Dunbar go for a action over character focus, and honestly, I’m here for it. Dunbar uses arrows from their pursuers to act as eye-lines to follow the high speed chase, and he and Thomas have a clever moment or two up their sleeve, especially in regards to Metamorpho’s first appearance. The story isn’t particularly deep, but it has the vibe of a James Bond cold open with superpowers as Guerrero really makes Black Lightning’s abilities sizzle. Finally, Brandon Thomas’ plotting really kept me engaged with thinking about why characters were acting a certain way, and the the mini mystery box structure has me intrigued for the upcoming issue.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Grifter is a character I didn’t really know a lot about except for some random comics like the New 52 Team 7 and JLA/WildCATs, but Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela have made this anti-hero/rapscallion and his various pratfalls quite lovable and hilarious Batman: Urban Legends #1’s final story. Grifter is like that guy who bluffs at poker, but never has a good hand. And until maybe the penultimate page of the comic, he’s either screwing up or making a joke about it beginning with his mad rush towards supervillain fire during his Team 6 days with a lot of characters with familiar names from Wildstorm comics. (I’m not an expert on these characters, and you don’t have to be to enjoy the story.) Grifter uses his sense of humor to detract from his mediocre performance as Lucius Fox’s bodyguard or to avoid getting his ass kicked by Batman, but he also has a mystery side that is revealed when he has a “date” at one of Penguin’s bars. The mystery starts to really unfold towards the end of the comic, but Rosenberg hints at every time, he talks on a headset with what I assume is his older brother.

The comedy in “Grifter” isn’t just limited to Matthew Rosenberg’s delightfully smartass dialogue. It shows up a lot in Ryan Benjamin’s visuals, which range from G.I. Joe or Authority homages (When the superheroes clean up Team 6’s mess.) in the flashback to pure slapstick. For example, Grifter spills a drink at a party Lucius Fox is meeting a client at and spills a drink on a woman. In this situation, Benjamin doesn’t just show a simple facial expression, but throws in some growlixes and makes you know that she’s furious that the soaking wet guy in Converse and blue jeans is even in the same room with her. This playfulness extends to the fight between Batman and Grifter, which starts as a serious throwdown and ends up in a total cat and mouse situation with Grifter finally getting enough self-awareness to call it quits. However, their paths will cross, and you can tell that Batman understands he’s a wildcard with his connections to Lucius Fox, the criminal underworld, and probably those Wildstorm guys. All in all, Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela turn in a hilarious action-comedy set in DC’s weirdest and (sometimes) dourest city and also slowly unveil what seems to be a master plan to merge the worlds of Wildstorm and Gotham.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an absolute win for the anthology format that DC Comics has been trying out with all of the four stories in the comic being entertaining and shedding light on a unique cast of characters. The longer stories that bookend the comic are especially noteworthy thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s pitch-perfect handle on the fascinating character of Jason Todd in “Batman and Red Hood” and Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s skill with verbal and visual humor in “Grifter”.

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Stephanie Phillips, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Marcus To, Laura Braga, Max Dunbar, Ryan Benjamin
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, Antonio Fabela
Letters: Becca Carey, Deron Bennett, Steve Wands, Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Overwatch’s Tracer’s Comic Series is Collected in Hardcover

Overwatch: Tracer—London Calling is being collected in its entirety in a 112-page hardcover from Dark Horse Comics with a brand-new cover by series cover artist, Bengal. From acclaimed Eisner and Harvey award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki and kinetic artist Babs Tarr, joined by exquisite colorist Rachael Cohen and letterer extraordinaire Deron Bennett, Blizzard Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics present Overwatch fans with an exciting new addition to Overwatch’s unique universe!

Overwatch may be disbanded, but Tracer’s time in “retirement” is up . . . After a punk-rock omnic named Iggy shows Tracer the dire living conditions forced upon London’s omnics, Tracer vows to help. But things might not be so easy, especially with larger forces sowing conflict between humans and omnics in London.

Overwatch: Tracer—London Calling hardcover will be in comic shops on September 15, 2021 and in book stores on September 28, 2021. It will retail for $24.99.

Overwatch: Tracer—London Calling

Review: The Next Batman: Second Son #1

The Next Batman: Second Son #1

DC‘s Digital First series have been knocking it out of the park. The digital comics have been engaging, intriguing, and feel like they’re comics we might not otherwise see on the printed page. They give creators a new avenue for their voices to be heard and generally allowed them to do so without having to worry about continuity. The Next Batman: Second Son #1 kicks off the newest series that interestingly has some major ramifications for Batman’s pocket of the DC Universe.

Tim “Jace” Fox is the estranged son of billionaire Lucius Fox and man of mystery…what has the eldest son of one Gotham’s premiere families been up to for these ‘missing’ years and how does he find himself getting shot at in the jungles of Vietnam? The Next Batman: Second Son #1 kicks off a series that’ll have some repercussions and part of a dark future for Batman.

Writer John Ridley is absolutely brilliant. He’s known for so many thought-provoking releases, he’s a creator that I’ll read or so whatever he’s involved in. In “Future State” Ridley has driven Jace’s story and his role as the future Batman. The Next Batman: Second Son #1 gives us the pieces to that path and kicks things off with a James Bond-esque adventure.

Ridley doesn’t tell us a ton about the who or the why, instead of focuses on Jace’s abilities, actions, and personality. The opening chapter is the opening 15 minutes of a Bond film dropping our hero into the middle of the action without explanation. We just accept the direction and the cool and overlook what we don’t know. It’s a ride that sets the tone. By the end of the issue we get a good sense of who Jace is and what we should expect as far as the character going forward. It plants the flag as to who our protagonist is.

The art by Tony Akins, with breakdowns by Ryan Benjamin, is interesting. There’s such a fantastic sense of action in the comic that really feels like a solid Bond adventure. Mark Morales provides inks, with Rex Lokus on color, and lettering by Deron Bennett. It all comes together for a sense of cool but subtle visual details let us know that Jace is still learning. There’s one glaring issue for me in the final two panels of the digital comic as Jace returns to his apartment and finds a visitor. The panels should be flipped going Jace then visitor not visitor then Jace. That might have been an issue with my digital copy but it’s something that stands out taking the wind out of the up to that point excellent ride.

The Next Batman: Second Son #1 is an intriguing series as it looks to have some major implications for the print comics of Batman. It’s a digital series that’s going to be a “major player” and one to keep one’s eye on. Luckily, it’ll eventually make it’s way to print but this is one you won’t want spoiled for you.

Story: John Ridley Art: Tony Akins Breakdowns: Ryan Benjamin
Ink: Mark Morales Color: Rex Lokus Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.75 Art: 7.95 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Excellence Gets a Deluxe Hardcover Version on Kickstarter

Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph, Deron Bennett, and Emilio Lopez’s Skybound and Image Comics action fantasy series Excellence is getting an exclusive deluxe hardcover, available exclusively through Kickstarter. Comic book enthusiasts can order starting on February 23, 2021.

Excellence: Book One will encompass the first nine issues of the magic series, with additional never-before seen content. The deluxe hardcover is the first release from Skybound Signature, a line of graphic novels debuting on Kickstarter.

Excellence Deluxe Edition Book One

Nominees for the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards Announced

GLAAD Media Awards

GLAAD has announced the nominees for the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards. The awards honor media for “fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues”. The awards began in 1990 and this year features 198 nominees in 28 categories.

Award recipients will be announced during a virtual ceremony scheduled for April 2021.

Below are the nominees in the comic category. You can get the full list of nominees at the GLAAD website.

The Old Guard, based on the comic series by Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández, Daniela Miwa, and Jodi Wynne was nominated for “Outstanding Film – Wide Release“.

Harley Quinn, the HBO MAX/DC Universe animated series based on the DC Comics character created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini was nominated in “Outstanding Comedy Series“.

Supergirl, based on the DC Comics character, Wynonna Earp based on the character created by Beau Smith, and The Umbrella Academy based on the comic by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá were nominated for “Outstanding Drama Series”.

Outstanding Comic Book

  • Empyre, Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling, Empyre: Aftermath Avengers, written by Al Ewing, Dan Slott, Chip Zdarsky, Anthony Oliveira, Valerio Schiti, Manuel Garcia, (Marvel Comics)
  • Far Sector, written by N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell, and Deron Bennett (DC Comics)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, written by Al Ewing and Marcio Takara (Marvel Comics)
  • Juliet Takes a Breath, written by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote (BOOM! Studios)
  • Lois Lane, written by Greg Rucka, Juan Cabal, and Mike Perkins (DC Comics)
  • The Magic Fish, written by Trung Le Nguyen (Random House Graphic)
  • Suicide Squad, written by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo (DC Comics)
  • Wynd, written by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas (BOOM! Studios)
  • X-Factor, written by Leah Williams and David Baldeon (Marvel Comics)
  • You Brought Me the Ocean, written by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh (DC Comics)
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