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Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse That Laughs #1

Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs

I’ve been vocal in my mixed feelings about Dark Nights: Death Metal. The main event has been mixed in quality and the one-shots, while they used to stand out, are now fumbling themselves. Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs is another stumble presenting four stories with few standing out and most being forgettable.

Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs opens with an introduction introducing the scary stories to follow. Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson, the intro isn’t so much Cryptkeeper as it’s a tease. Juan Gedeon handles the art, Mike Spicer color, and Troy Peteri the lettering and the art is solidly entertaining. But, the tales the Robin Kings aren’t what’s presented, and sadly what is, is far less interesting. A nice introduction to lay out the concept of the comic but it actually hurts what’s really could have been accomplished with some text on the first page.

Patton Oswalt, Sanford Greene, David Baron, and Josh Reed to a twisted take on Zsasz in “Feeding the Beast”. Sadly, the story itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at all. It feels like interesting ideas chopped together without a strong narrative. To say it’s a frustrating start is an understatement and the issue stumbles from there.

The Super-Pets get the spotlight in “The Super-Threats“. Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, the story is a Super-Pets spin on DCeased. Krypto returns from space to find a planet ravaged and all that remains are the Super-Pets. It’s a nice horror short story packed in well and filled with a little bit of humor to make it different and stand out from DCeased. Chad Hardin‘s art with color by Enrica Eren Angiolini‘s color is solid as the animals are filled with emotion as the story unfolds. There’s a slight coloring issue when one infected creature is described as having yellow eyes and red teeth and neither being present. Lettering by Carlos M. Mangual really stands out with the unique speech bubbles that makes the story really fun.

In “Hard-Traveled“, Earth has been taken over by Hal Jordon who’s used his power to bring order to the planet. Standing in his way is Green Arrow. Saladin Ahmed‘s story is interesting in concept but sadly doesn’t get enough pages to really stand out. But, it’s a comic I’d love to read. What does stand out is Scot Eaton‘s art. With Norm Rapmund on ink and Hi-Fi on color, the story builds to a Rocky vs. Apollo ending.

Much like the story leading into it, “The Fear Index” also suffers from not enough pages. Steel has to deal with a planet that has been enveloped by Scarecrow’s toxin. It’s a great idea that we’re mostly teased with. Written by Brandon Thomas, the story itself is the trailer for a film we want to see more of. The art by Thomas Mandrake is solid. With color by Sian Mandrake, it comes off as the twisted fear-induced visions you’d expect. It’s not the over the top trip that has been done before but it’s presented as unsettled. That’s helped by Deron Bennett‘s lettering which enhances the hallucinations from the fear toxin. It emphasizes the situation and world.

There are some things to like about Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs. The idea of an anthology telling stories in this twisted world has potential but few are given the space they’re needed to really be interesting. Instead, they all fall short as teases for something far more entertaining. Both the Green Arrow and Steel stories are worthy of their own one-shots and an entire line could be done like the other Dark Multiverse one-shots releases. But, as is, there’s not a lot here to get excited about.

Story: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Patton Oswalt, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Saladin Ahmed, Brandon Thomas
Art: Juan Gedeon, Sanford Greene, Chad Hardin, Scot Eaton, Thomas Mandrake
Color: Mike Spicer, David Baron, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Sian Mandrake, Hi-Fi
Ink: Norm Rapmund
Letterer: Troy Peteri, Josh Reed, Carlos M. Mangual, Deron Bennett
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Far Sector #8

Far Sector #8

Far Sector has been one of the best series DC Comics has been releasing. The comic has captures the zeitgeist exploring police brutality, social unrest, the right to protest, and racial injustice. It has done all of that with a shine and style that delivers a visually beautiful comic. It’s a story that’s as deep to read as it is jaw-droppingly gorgeous to look at. Far Sector #8 has Jo attempting to make her arrest. But, she realizes that she’s facing similar issues she faced on Earth.

Jo continues her fight in the artificial intelligence world attempting to arrest the assassins who have killed a member of the council that guides the world. It’s a hell of a sequence with popping visuals and such fantastic concepts. The art, story, everything comes together for a treat of a read.

Even with the focus on the arrest/police procedural aspects of Far Sector #8, writer N.K. Jemisin adds small details, and some not so small, focusing on Jo’s past and the abuses she saw and even committed as a police officer. But the issue really shifts on the bureaucracy that she deals with. With a council watching every step she makes and wanting immediate answers, she’s unable to do the job that now faces her, figuring out who murdered an elected official.

Jemisin throughout the series has infused it with commentary about society and especially the police. Jo, in general, feels like a “cop” who’s attempting to do their job but is sucked into the system and in this alien world that’s happening as well. She wants to solve the case but is forced to jump through hoops to do so and do it in a system that is designed to make that difficult.

If that wasn’t enough to sell you on the comic and the series, Jamal Campbell‘s art should be more than enough. The alien world presented is beautiful to look at and the concepts and designs are amazing. But, what stood out to me in this issue is Jo herself. This is the first issue where it really has stood out how non-typical of a character she is. She’s always been presented with curves but in her civilian clothes, it becomes more apparent with a body shape not typically seen in superhero comics. That is literally in your face as she faces the council and we get a better look at her thighs and waist. Not sure why, but this is the issue where that stands out to me.

Deron Bennett‘s lettering too is a nice touch to the issue and series. As this world is made up of alien races, the lettering shifts a bit depending on who is talking. It’s a nice way to make characters and the aliens stand out a bit. While it’s not needed, it’s a touch that really enhances the story.

Far Sector is an amazing series, one of the best of the year. Far Sector #8 delivers another chapter in a police procedural that’s infused with socio-politico commentary. This is a series that’s “in the now,” not afraid to tackle current issues and real-world discussions. Most importantly, it entertains while doing so. With each issue, the series makes the case for “best of 2020.”

Story: N.K. Jemisin Art: Jamal Campbell
Color: Jamal Campbell Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


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Review: Batman: The Joker Warzone #1

Batman: The Joker Warzone #1

DC’s “Joker War” has been a bit of a mixed bag for me as an event. Some of it feels like we’ve seen it before. While it has some good moments, it also feels like it never quite commits to the chaos. What bothers me the most is that the story feels like it’s just a bridge to what comes next. It’s not a story I feel like I can pick up on its own to enjoy. Through the issues of Batman, it never quite feels like a story that is a stand-alone adventure to enjoy. That might be even more pronounced in Batman: The Joker Warzone #1. It’s a tie-in comic filled with creative talent, solid stories, art, and a few “continued in 2021”. It’s also very good.

A Serious House” opens the comic. Written by James Tynion IV with art by Guillem March, color by Tomeu Morey, and lettering by Clayton Cowles it focuses on a confrontation between the Joker and Bane. The story is fantastic with a fascinating back and forth as Joker goes over his issues with Bane and contemplates ending his life. There’s a “play” like quality about the segment and with amazing art it’s the highlight of the issue. It sets up something for 2021 which feels a bit frustrating in that it telegraphs more to come instead of surprising and hints that the Joker survives “Joker War” for that to happen.

Family Ties” features writer John Ridley, art by Olivier Coipel, color by Matt Hollingsworth, and lettering by Deron Bennett. Focused on the Fox family, the story focuses on their receiving information to unlock Bruce Wayne’s fortune. But, Ridley takes that concept and adds so much to it giving us a mini-debate about what good Bruce, and thus Batman, are doing with all of this money. Could they use the money in a better way to help people? Should it go back to Bruce. With an ending that feels ripped from the headlines, Ridley shows why he’s one of the best storytellers in any medium today.

The Symbol” is by writer Joshua Williamson, art by David LaFuente, color by Hi-Fi, and lettering by Gabriela Downie. Orphan and Spoiler are on a mission to get a Bat-symbol where they wind up fighting Hench Master. Hench Master feels like a new character whose job it is to “train” henchmen for various villains. It’s a fun story that feels like it’d fit in any Batman anthology and an entertaining fun distraction that’s a bit cheerier with some good action sequences.

Ashes of Eden” is by writer Sam Johns, art by Laura Braga, color by Antonio Fabela, and lettering by Tom Napolitano. Ivy is dealing with the destruction of Eden. The entire segment is a declaration from Ivy about where her head is at and what’s to come. It’s also another story arc that we’ll see in 2021. What’s interesting, and possibly the most controversial, is Ivy seems to reject all humans and that might include Harley. Whether I’m reading too much into it, I have no idea but the Ivy/Harley stans may get a bit angry about what’s to come for these two.

Wrapping up the comic is “Clown Hunt” by writer James Tynion IV, art by James Stokoe, and lettering by Clayton Cowles. This is our first real story about Clownhunter who has stalked the Joker’s henchman and delivered brutal justice. We don’t know much about the character but we get our first good look at Clownhunter without the mask and better sense of what the citizens of Gotham thinks about him. There’s a lot of potential for a long-term interesting addition to the world of Batman and where this one goes is exciting.

Overall, Batman: The Joker Warzone #1 is a solid one-shot. It adds some stories within “Joker War” without making them vital. There’s a bit too much left to be experienced in 2021 which emphasizes my issues with “Joker War” overall. It doesn’t feel self-contained enough. If you took those segments and left out the “too be continued,” these would be really solid on their own. Even if you’re not reading “Joker War,” there’s enough here to enjoy and worth checking out. It’s the rare event one-shot where you can ignore the actual event.

Story: James Tynion IV, John Ridley, Joshua Williamson, Sam Johns
Art: Guillem March, Olivier Coipel, David LaFuente, Laura Braga, James Stokoe
Color: Tomeu Morey, Matt Hollingsworth, Hi-Fi, Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Deron Bennett, Gabriela Downie, Tom Napolitano
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Resonant Returns in December 2020 with Skylar Patridge Joining the Team

Vault Comics has announced the return of Resonant, with artist Skylar Patridge joining the creative team. The series will return to monthly serialization in December 2020 with issue #6. David Andry and Patridge will be joined by colorist  Jason Wordie, letterer Deron Bennett, and designer Tim Daniel.

Paxton, Claire, and Miki enact their plan to escape Honcho’s island, but they won’t get away without a fight! The arrival of Preacher, Maw, and their followers interrupts Ty’s new life with the Congregation, while Bec struggles to protect the family homestead from other hungry visitors.

Resonant originally debuted from Vault Comics in January 2019 to universal acclaim and multiple sell outs. Resonant‘s new story arc begins with issue #6, hitting stores shelves in December 2020.

Resonant #6

Review: Plunge #6

Plunge #6

Plunge #6 might be the perfect example of a horror story fumbling the finale. I’ve loved this series up to this point. But, that love has also floundered a bit as it became clear the series was rushing to a Cthulhu-like ending. It’s a great concept and amazing ideas looking for a great story to carry them through.

Written by Joe Hill, Plunge #6 feels like a monster movie where they’ve built up to the monster, got to the point, and then said, “let’s blow the budget.” It’s an ending that’s predictable and anti-climactic in so many ways.

For those who’ve gotten to this point in the series, the giant portal has been opened and the intelligent space worms have skittered back through freeing what’s within. That, not surprisingly is yet another Lovecraft inspired being here to destroy reality. Little is explained and we’re just expected to roll with it as our rag-tag group has to figure out how to destroy it and save everything.

The comic feels like Hill had a limited number of issues, ran out of ideas, and needed a way to wrap things up. Where the series leading up to this has been relatively creative and creepy, the finale just delivers things we’ve seen time and time again. The creative of the previous five issues is out the window for a cookie cutter ending.

Hill also leaves so much hanging and unanswered. This being can eat reality, so isn’t the reality of where it came from destroyed then? Why do the worms want to go back? What are they other than other-dimensional beings? There’s just volumes of interesting material to mine and the series feels like it’s hampered by its six-issue run. It needed to wrap up and this was the easiest way to do it.

The art is the usual fantastic. Stuart Immonen delivers sites that truly feel epic and the lookers on do come off as they are witnessing something grand. That’s helped by Dave Stewart‘s colors and Deron Bennett‘s lettering. As a Cthulhu-inspired spectacle, the comic does rock. There’s some inspiring visuals and interesting spins to concepts in the art. But, it also emphasizes this is something we’ve generally seen so many times before. The creep factor of the previous five issues is gone and we’re delivered over the top monsters.

Plunge #6 doesn’t stick the landing. It crashes hard. The series was one full of mystery and such interesting concepts and ideas. The package just doesn’t come together and jettisons all of them for a standard ending that’s been done before so many times. I wanted to see how this series ended but when I got to the end, it actually lessens what comes before spotlighting that it was great ideas with nowhere to go.

Story: Joe Hill Art: Stuart Immonen
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 6.75 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Plunge #6 (of 6)

Plunge #6 (of 6)

(W) Joe Hill (A) Stuart Immonen (CA) Jeremy Wilson
In Shops: Aug 25, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Sixty fathoms below the ocean’s surface, a massive hatch waits to be opened…Something within wants to emerge; wants to be born; wants to rise; wants to feed. The child is coming, desperate to fill its belly-by devouring reality itself!

Plunge #6 (of 6)

Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Deron Bennett, and Will Dennis Kickstart Nocternal from Snyder’s Best Jackett Press

Imagine that tomorrow the sun simply doesn’t rise. You wait. And you wait, but night just continues… 

You can still feel the sun’s warmth – it must be there – but for some reason, light no longer reaches the earth. There’s only darkness. But this new darkness, there’s something strange about it, something terrifying. Because anything – or anyone – that stays in it too long starts to change… 

Bestselling comic book writer Scott Snyder, acclaimed artist Tony S. Daniel, colorist Tomeu Morey, letterer Deron Bennett, and editor Will Dennis are collaborating on Nocternal — a new creator-owned comic book series about humanity trying to survive in everlasting darkness — and launching a Kickstarter campaign for Nocternal Collector’s Edition, an exclusive, behind-the-scenes edition of the series’ debut issue. Starting at 72 pages, Nocternal Collector’s Edition is a one-of-a-kind reading experience, with Scott Snyder’s script displayed alongside Tony S. Daniel’s linework to provide a rare look at the process of making comics. If funded on Kickstarter, Nocternal Collector’s Edition will be released to backers ahead of Image Comics’ release of issue 1 this winter and would mark the first time that one of Snyder’s scripts has been published in its entirety.

Nocternal takes place ten years after the world is plunged into an everlasting night that turns all living creatures into monstrous “shades.” Enter Valentina “Val” Riggs, a skilled “ferryman” who transports people and goods along deadly unlit roads with her heavily illuminated eighteen-wheeler. When an old man promising sanctuary offers Val a job to drive him and his granddaughter up through the Rocky Mountains, she takes it, hoping there might be some truth to his claim. What she finds in the end, though, is something much more horrifying than any shade…

To showcase Daniel’s line art in all its detailed glory, the creators are printing the collector’s edition in black and white, available in two formats: an unsigned softcover and a hardcover signed by Snyder and Daniel. Both editions will only be available to Kickstarter backers. The funding goal of $37K will cover the book printing, rewards production, and fees from Kickstarter, Stripe, and BackerKit. Any funds that are raised beyond the funding goal will help cover production costs for the first story arc, up until issue #6. Additional pledge tiers include a limited edition lithograph, a sketch by Daniel, a master class with Snyder, and more.

Review: Plunge #5

Plunge #5

If you’re a sci-fi horror fan, Plunge is a series that’s a must for you. Plunge #5 delivers a lot more reveals as we get a better idea of what the alien worms want and is full of betrayal and grief. When we last left them, the crew were debating whether to give the worms what they want or if there were other options.

But what’s in the hatch and what do the worms want?

Written by Joe Hill, the issue is claustrophobic in a way as the ship’s crew is locked away debating what to do. With some intelligent moves they use the infected individual to learn more about the worms delivering a reveal to us. While the direction hinted at isn’t quite Earth-shattering and somewhat predictable, it’s a good direction to go in to. What’s lead up to this moment is gone over and it’s full of creepy goodness.

What Hill does that’s fantastic is keep the story focused on the characters. You get a sense of fear and desperation, most importantly anger. There’s anger at what must be done and the sacrifice that happens. Much of the comic has a feel of a condense play in that way with a focus on a small group in a tight location.

As I said, the revelation itself isn’t anything major. It’s somewhat predictable and where I thought the series was going. While I was hoping for something different, this direction in a way keeps the story simple focusing more on the characters instead of a crazy idea.

All of this is helped by the art which focuses so much on the body language and facial expressions. Stuart Immonen and Dave Stewart as usual knock it out of the park. The series keeps it all disturbing without making things gross. It’s just enough to unnerve some readers (like myself). Deron Bennett‘s lettering too is key when it comes to the possessed individuals and their speech. Again, like the art, it adds a bit of unease to everything.

While the reveal in Plunge #5 isn’t original, there is a lot that is in the story. We learn a bit more about the worms and how they’re described adds to the atmosphere of the comic. And that atmosphere is so much of it all. This is a horror story with sci-fi elements but at it’s heart this is about a group of individuals who are presented with a mystery and difficult choices. The series continues to entertain and has nailed it at every issue. For those who enjoy horror, it’s a must get.

Story: Joe Hill Art: Stuart Immonen
Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter 5

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter 5

Adorable is the best way to describe Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter 5. The DC Digital First series has been amazing with each release. This chapter is a prime example of the willingness to just have fun with the series. A digital series anthology, each chapter has featured a different creative team. With that, each chapter has delivered a different take on the character Harley Quinn. For five chapters it has shown how flexible a character she can be. The takes are all different and all are enjoyable. Interestingly enough, despite those differences, they’re all very much “Harley Quinn.”

Riley Rossmo handles the art and script duties for Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter 5. Rossmo is joined by Deron Bennett on letters. In it, Harley tells her version of history, and her own life, in a fairy tale like delivery. And I really do mean the history of the world as the comic begins from nothingness and ends with Harley’s passing. What’s fun about Rossmo’s delivery is the child-like quality of it all. There’s a playful innocence about it. The story is something a young kid would tell with over the top moments and exaggerations that come with a wild imagination.

But Rossmo also dives into the pain and love of Harley. Her relationship with the Joker is touched upon making it clear this was not a healthy relationship. There’s also a focus on the self-care Harley took part in with the help of her friends Catwoman and Ivy touching upon the loving relationship she has with both. There’s a honesty about it all that doesn’t sugarcoat things but at the same time doesn’t dwell and deliver trauma porn. Instead, the negative is turned into a positive as Harley focuses on how show rose above the Joker and what he had done to her to do good. How it’s depicted feels like how one might explain some of these things to a child which is befitting the type of story told.

Rossmo’s art is fantastic as always. There’s an enthusiasm and energy about it that matches Harley’s glee as she tells the story. There’s lots of small details added adding to the narrative beyond the words of Harley. A look by Harley at Ivy tells a thousand stories and a placement of a character or a small detail added gives you so much more than what’s being said.

Bennett’s lettering rocks as well. There’s small details to what’s done. Harley’s “diamonds” are included in dialogue boxes along with small blemishes. The lettering might be at an angle to match the angle of the panel. It’s all done so well and flows perfectly. The lettering “matches” Rossmo’s artistic style.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter 5 is fantastic, though that should be too surprising. There’s a mix of a fun story, fantastic art, great layouts, to deliver a digital experience that makes the price a steal. The digital series has been a home run so far and this latest chapter just adds to what is one of the best releases of the year. Another amazing chapter that’s an absolute must buy.

Story: Riley Rossmo Art: Riley Rossmo Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXology

Summoners War is Coming to Comics in Summoners War: Legacy from Skybound

Game publisher Com2uS is teaming up with Skybound and Image Comics to create Summoners War: Legacy, a brand-new comic book series based on the worldwide mobile phenomenon Summoners War. Revealed during the “Skybound X Summoners War” panel at Skybound Xpo, Summoners War: Legacy is helmed by writer Justin Jordan and artist Luca Claretti, with colors by Giovanna Niro and lettering by Deron Bennett. It serves as an action-packed prequel to the Summoners War mobile game.

Fans who pre-order now will receive a “Con Exclusive” version of Summoners War: Legacy #1 for $10 USD, a special gold-foil issue that also comes with a redeemable in-game reward voucher for 200 Gems and three Scrolls. The con exclusive serves as a sneak preview into the larger Summoners War: Legacy comic book series, which will be published through Skybound and Image in the future.

With 32 pages of story and seven pages of additional material, Summoners War: Legacy takes place 35 years before the universe-shattering conflict at the 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 Summoners War games and the Summoners War: Sky Arena game that fans know and love.

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