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Euro Thursday Review: Hook Jaw

hook_jaw_2_cover-aIn the troubled waters off Somalia, a rag-tag group of marine scientists studying a pack of female great white sharks find themselves caught in a conflict between pirates and the might of the US Navy. But why is the CIA so interested in the work of the scientists? And just how will they face up to the shadowy terror of the legendary great white – HOOK JAW?!

Published by British publisher Titan Comics, written by Si Spurrier, with art by Conor Boyle, at two issues in, Hook Jaw went from silly to silly fun really quick.

I was completely unfamiliar with anything that came before, so when I went into the first issue, it honestly felt a bit like a Jaws rip-off with some CIA/Navy SEALS guys thrown in. The second issue embraces all of that calling out the fact it’s a goofy Jaws cash-in and just completely makes fun of the tough guy CIA/Navy SEAL leader who keeps repeating the same phrase over and over while his machismo is mocked.

Spurrier has embraced the goofy here and it totally pays off. I read the first issue with some interest and it was good. It’s the second issue that really brings me in because it decides to not take itself seriously. At that point the comic embraces the fun and silly premise. It’s a shark with a hook coming out of its front! It uses the hook to stab people! How can that not be funny!? When the comic doesn’t take seriously, it shines and hooks me.

Boyle’s art too is over the top embracing the gore when he can giving us a bloody mess that I remember from all of those movies this comic pays homage to. What’s interesting is the art doesn’t change really, but Spurrier’s tone reflects in it. If it’s goofy, the art comes off as goofy. If the writing is serious, the art is serious. But, the art doesn’t change at all, which is fascinating.

Hook Jaw #2 is where things really take off for me. I’m looking forward to more and sitting back and embracing the utter ridiculousness of it all and enjoying every page of it.

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Conor Boyle
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Few #1

the-few-cover_The Few #1 is an aptly named straight-forward post-apocalyptic story that excels by focusing on exactly what it means to be. There is no convolution, attempts to break the genre. It hits the ground running and by committing to simplicity in its debut issue delivers the promise that it knows how to capture the fear and threat other such stories miss.

The story follows Edan Hale as she feels masked-men ordered to kill her and the baby she’s been entrusted to her. The biblical themes, such as a refugee baby, mass-murder and ruler named Herrod, would be confusing if it the story lingered on them even a few moments longer. However, they create a more familiar story so that this one can focus on moving forward.

What is truly appealing about this book is it’s minimal color scheme, sepia tones against a faded red. The color choices by artist Hayden Sherman create a style that allows it’s take what would be an exceedingly recognizable beginning and causes it to stand out, adding to the drab grit of the world. The line work is dynamic and engaging and creates a more involved read.

The story moves quickly and instead of making it’s debut-issue front-heavy with exposition, it demonstrates what people can expect in terms of violence, stakes and pacing. Keep in mind, it’s very difficult to do a first issue. Sean Lewis crafted this premiere to be a strategic bit of entertainment and pulled it off nicely.

Fans of The Walking Dead will love this fast-moving, bloody story. Not just for the familiarity but how it uses brevity to keep the reader moving. This is 48-pages that race by.

Story: Sean Lewis Art: Hayden Sherman
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick Healy makes pins, writes stories and distracts people from working. Check out more of his work here.

Review: Harbinger Renegade #3

hr_003_cover-c_paloszReunited, but once again torn from the lives they’d carefully rebuilt, the Harbinger Renegades have found themselves attacked on all sides by a vicious new enemy – a radicalized army of psiot zealots determined to bring the system down by any means necessary. Can this band of former friends become the fighters they once were, or will they succumb to the temptation of a new power that’s more vicious than anything they’ve ever faced before? With Torque and Faith in mortal jeopardy, Peter Stanchek and Kris Hathaway must put the past behind them…and embrace their chosen destiny in what lies ahead.

Of all the comics Valiant released this week, this was the one that surprised me the most.

Rafer Roberts has the unenviable task of following the man who has been guiding the Harbinger story for 50 odd issues, Joshua Dysart, and although Roberts has been subject to some criticism simply because he’s a new writer taking on the property, I’ve been enjoying what he’s been doing with Harbinger Renegade thus far. And honestly? I think this is probably the best of the three issues so far.

Apologies for the minor spoilers to follow. If you don’t want to read past this point, then all you need to know that issue is worth buying.

Alright, so this issue we finally get to see Peter Stanchek arrive back on earth with a fresh new beard and hair style (that of the Unkempt Spaceman) that almost invokes a saviour like image when we first see him actually on earth, except… you can almost see the weight of the world on his shoulders in that first panel. It’s a brilliantly subtle piece of visual story telling from Darick Robertson, but it adds a lot to the rest of the comic as events unfold.

Harbinger Renegade is a departure in tone and style from the other book Roberts was writing for Valiant, the dearly departed A&A, but it’s every bit as good as you want it to be, and then some.

Story: Rafer Roberts Art: Darick Robertson Inks: Richard Clark
Colourists: Diego Rodriguez and Brian Reber
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Spider-Gwen #16

spidergwen16coverIn Spider-Gwen #16, Miles Morales learns that there are many differences between Earth-65 and his home Earth-like sodas using real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and that  Daredevil is evil and has an army of ninjas. (Thank goodness he was in the Ultimate Universe for Shadowland, or Miles would’ve gotten some bad flashbacks.) He’s still  too young to get into clubs on most worlds in the multiverse, but this doesn’t prevent him from having a little team-up fun with Spider-Gwen in this bouncy second chapter of the “Sittin’ in a Tree” crossover where writer Jason Latour focuses on building the relationship between the two young heroes instead of skipping straight to the smooching like Brian Michael Bendis did in Spider-Man.

Miles Morales is a great fit for Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi‘s brighter, animation-meets cool indie band poster art style. The red and black adds some new hues to Renzi’s usual pink, green, and white world, and Latour writes Miles as completely out of his element the whole time. He’s freaking out about being in an alternative universe while simultaneously freaking about his dad going missing while on a mission for SHIELD. This is why he sounds like he’s hopped up on caffeine and fear, and where Gwen comes in with some much-needed empathy. They bond over their love for their dads, their superhero lives, and the weirdness of other worlds with Rodriguez’s full page spread of them hugging showing how much they’ve already bonded.

The colors and art pop even more once Spider-Gwen hits the Scorpion Club, and this leads to the spidergwen16interiorfunniest joke in the issue, which is 16-year-old Miles being left behind. He has a superhero costume, but no fake ID. The short fight scene inside the club featuring Earth 65’s Dr. Octopus is weird, yet fun and shows off Miles’ “other” powers, like venom stings and invisibility, as well as the fact that he has yet to be able to rattle off one-liners in battle like Earth 616’s Peter Parker. Renzi uses a lot of flashing yellows for the club fight scene to show characters getting their “lights knocked out”, or just how disorienting this environment is for both Gwen and Miles. And then the cliffhanger blows their minds even more.

The parts of Spider-Gwen #16 that resonated with me were when Gwen and Miles were becoming friends in an organic way. Because she keeps her secret identity from her bandmates in the Mary Janes and her dad is in jail, Gwen doesn’t really have anyone to talk to about her life as a superhero. Now, she has Miles, and they talk about how Earth-65 is like a sad pop song, and how it’s okay to be afraid even though they’re superheroes. (And is kind of visually designed that way.) Gwen is in a dark situation where the source of her superpowers is controlled by the Kingpin so it’s nice to have Miles pop up and bring some light and empathy to her comic even though his dad is in a terrible situation.

With its focus on building a connection between Miles and Gwen instead of multiverses and annoying supervillains, Spider-Gwen #16 is superior to the opening chapter of the “Sittin’ in a Tree” crossover. The final night club scene also ups the intrigue as Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi continue to (web) sling out the cool visuals.

 Story: Jason Latour Art: Robbi Rodriguez Colors: Rico Renzi
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set – Basic Action Dice Part 2

keywordsThis February sees the newest release for WizKidsDice Masters, Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set. The first starter set has an Iron Man focus introducing new mechanics.

I’ll be reviewing a group of cards a day until the whole set is completed and then general thoughts on the whole set. But, beyond discussing the cards and how they fit into the Dice Masters game, I’ll also focus on the characters themselves and if the card reflects their comic history.

Up today is the rest of the set’s Basic Action Dice

surprise-attackSurprise Attack

Art: Gabriele Dell’Otto, Secret War #1

Card playability: For a card like this I’m not as impressed by the ability as the cost. To pay 2 energy to then be able to get 2 energy down the road is helpful, though if that’s your goal there’s some Basic Actions that only cost 1 to do that.

Generally, there’s a lot of cards that are similar and are either the same cost, or cost 1 die more and do much more.

“Shocking Grasp” which costs them same does 1 damage and if it KOs a character that die then goes to the Prep area. I like that a bit more than this, but there’s a chance of dealing 2 damage.

Overall, this card may become a bit more important once set rotation becomes the norm, but as is, there’s better options out there. This could become more valuable the more we see “Iron Will” crop up in the game.

 

upgrade-fortificationUpgrade – Fortification

Art: Greg Land, Iron Man #1 variant

Card playability: I feel like there’s something missing when it comes to this Starter Set and the cards marked “Upgrade.” I’ve looked in the rules and there doesn’t seem to be anything specific regarding this wording. My gut says “Upgrade” basic action dice are meant to stay on the table like we saw dice being equiped with the D&D sets… but that’s another discussion.

“Iron Will” is a pain in the but ability in this game. The short version is a die needs to be damaged twice to be KO’d. So, to be able to give a character die that is pretty solid. But, looks like you’ll need to make sure it’s a SHIELD character or you’ll lose some life.

I like the idea of these upgrade Basic Action cards, I just want to see them actually be like equipment we’ve previously seen.

upgrade-proton-cannonUpgrade – Proton Cannon

Art: Lan Medina, Iron Man: Rapture #4

Card playability: The card “Hulk Out” is the same ability and the same cost except that it’s until the end of the turn, but there’s no KO chance.

With that being said, that makes me think the “Upgrade” Basic Action cards are meant to stay on the board much like equipment in D&D.

If this card does stay on the table then it’s an improvement on “Hulk Out” and I might go with it over that card instead. Overcrush can be a big deal in this game, so to have a die that “permanently” gives the ability like equipping a character die that could be a pretty big deal.

I’d expect a clarification over these “Upgrade” Basic Action cards.

 

upgrade-smokescreenUpgrade – Smokescreen

Art: Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata, Iron Man 2.0 #10

Card playability: Again, a cheap Basic Action die and if this is meant to be like equipment, then I like it a lot more than if it’s just for one turn.

This is a pretty cheap way to give a character die a little bit of a boost for the attack and there’s the bonus of getting them through unblocked if they’re a level 1 MASK character die.

I like the concept, but again it’s a big deal if this die stays out there or goes away at the end of the turn. At a minimum at least you’ve got a die that has some uses and also can get you two generic energy.

 

upgrade-unibeamUpgrade – Unibeam

Art: Roberto de la Torre, Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #26

Card playability: Similar to the card above, this one gives +2A instead of the +1A for the same cost. Instead of the possibility of bein unblockable this one possibly can give “Fast.”

Quite a few of the characters in this starter set are geared towards going on the offensive, so this is a die that adds to that focus.

Again, it’s not clear if this is supposed to be like equipment or not, but we’ll see if there’s further clarification. If it does stay like that, I’m much more gung-ho about this Basic Action card. If it’s for one turn only, I’m not quite there.

 

Final Thoughts: I expect “Upgrade” Basic Action card to get clarification or to be changed down the road to be like equipment which is something that’s not quite as present in the Marvel/DC aspect of the Dice Masters game. If so, the worth for all of these will increase.

 

WizKids provided Graphic Policy with FREE product for review.

Wednesday Graphic Novel Review: The Flash Vol. 1 and Justice League Vol. 1

Three weeks into the new year and three weeks of new comic days! We’ve got two more first volumes to two DC Comics “Rebirth” trade paperbacks!

The Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice collects issues 1-8 and the Rebirth issue by Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, and Ivan Plascnecia.

Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines collects issues 1-5 and the Rebirth issue by Bryan Hitch, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, and Tomeu Morey.

Find out what each trade has in store and whether you should grab yourself a copy. You can find both in comic stores January 11 and bookstores January 18.

Get your copies 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.
The Flash Vol. 1 Amazon/Kindle/comiXology and TFAW

Justice League Vol. 1 Amazon/Kindle/comiXology and TFAW

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies 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.

Wednesday Comic Rally: Mayday #3

mayday-3It feels like all too often we’re lamenting how our favorite comic series got canceled due to lack of sales and interest. That’s where Wednesday Comic Rally comes in. The point is to spotlight comics that we as a community should be rallying around and most importantly purchasing to make sure they’re here for quite some time.


Three issues in, it’s not too late to check out Mayday by writer Alex De Campi and artist Tony Parker.

A Cold War action-thriller like no other. It’s 1971, and two young Soviet operatives are sent to California to kill a defector and recover top-secret information. As the mission falls apart into a mess of good sex, bad drugs, and ugly violence, the young Russians are faced with a dilemma: they need to rely on each other to escape America, but they must betray each other to survive Russia.

Mayday isn’t just a slick Cold War comics, it’s also a period piece in a time that you just don’t see too many modern comics set. That creates a unique experience that’s currently like no other monthly comic on the market. Parker’s art is fantastic as well giving us at times trippy visuals that nail the vibe and feel of the time period.

It’s a combination that comes together for a fun time and entertaining read that you won’t find anywhere else.


This is where you come in. You can buy Mayday #3 now! It’s available at local comic shops and you can find yours. For those without a local shop you can buy it digitally through comiXology, Kindle, or physical copy at Things From Another World.

Have a comic you think we should be rallying around? Send us a message and maybe it’ll be featured in an upcoming post.

 

 

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: Kill or Be Killed #5

killorbekilled_05-1It feels like too long since we have followed the nail-biting and tense adventures of Dylan. Thankfully, Kill or Be Killed #5 gives us a new entry in the fantastic crime drama from the best team in the business. If you have not read the first four issues, this week also gives us the release of the first volume, collecting those. So if you have not caught up yet, you should, because this series is fantastic.

This issue is good, I just do not think it was as good as the first four. That isn’t a bad thing, as it does a lot to set up the next arc within the overall story, and it does cover some solid ground. The story is moved ahead a few months, and we see Dylan training to defend himself, how his relationships have changed with his friend and the girl that he loves, an old flame, and his next target. Overall, this issue is a solid entry in the series and moved things forward a bit. We will see how much that pays off, but I trust Brubaker as a storyteller.

The story is told by Dylan as the narrator as if he was telling a friend everything that had happened the last few months. There are a lot of oh and then this happened moments that makes the story hop around, and I felt it didn’t have the usual flow of the comic that I enjoy. Again, it isn’t a bad thing, it just felt different, and I had gotten used to the intensity and the craziness that Ed Brubaker has given us so far. That isn’t to say there isn’t any of those moments because the book-ending moments of this comic left me with my jaw hanging open. Things ramp up very quickly for Dylan, and you get left with a cliffhanger. I need to know what happened here, and I do not want to wait.

killorbekilled05-review3Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser continue the rock solid artwork in their pulp style which surprisingly really works well in this modern setting. The layout is fantastic too, as there are pages that allow Brubaker to write some prose down the sides of the artwork. It is a nice detraction from how the traditional comic page can be and makes the book stand out aside from the fantastic story. The panel work is also fantastic and helps show emotion or action from our characters sometimes without the need for dialogue or narration. It is effective storytelling and compliments Brubaker as they have so many times before.

Kill or Be Killed is a series that you should check out. If you like crime dramas, thrillers, and gritty street justice, then this book is for you. You are following the story of a man who is figuring everything out as he goes along, and you feel like you are on the journey with him. He makes mistakes, especially in this issue, and the reader can vicariously live through him. How long can he keep this up? And if he stops, will he truly die like the demon told him? If that last question makes no sense to you, then you should buy the first volume that releases the same day as this issue and catch up.

Story: Ed Brubaker Art: Sean Phillips Color: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #14

patrsy-walker-14Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #14 is a flash grenade fast end to the Black Cat story arc as writer Kate Leth, artist Brittney Williams, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg show the final battle between Hellcat and her Hellkittens and Black Cat’s girl (and gay ginger) gang. Ian Soo and Jubilee play major roles in the final action sequence while Leth shows that Ian is better being himself around his new boyfriend Tom than walking on eggshells around his ex, Zoe.

Teaming up with an enemy is an old-as-the-hills Marvel superhero trope with heavy hitters, like Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Rogue starting out as a bad guys. Except Leth and Williams add a personal touch with Zoe trying to seduce Ian to join her in his bedroom, and there are the awkward feeling of being exes combined with the fact that she didn’t care about her bisexuality. Zoe had romantic feelings for Ian, but she minimized his bisexuality and the fact he didn’t want to dress in a traditionally masculine way, which made him feel low. Even though they are fighting together against Black Cat, Leth is clear to say that they aren’t friends. Williams also cuts the “ex-reunion” close with a panel of raised hand while Rosenberg replaces the cool night colors with the pink and yellow pastels of a Jubilee morning donut run.

The mind control mechanics starts to wear a little then in Hellcat #14, but Williams makes up for it with some strong aesthetic choices, like everyone in Black Cat’s gang wearing matching pink and black cat jackets. This includes Tom Hale, whose dialogue while under mind control is hilarious and pathetic. Everyone calls Black Cat, “Ms. Cat” for some reason, and there is no way for her to have any kind of real relationships because they are all based on her scratching them with magic claws. She may get to do snow angels in bank vaults, but Felicia ends up alone in the end. Williams’ art is super funny when she shows Black Cat enjoying her powers between muttering about Spider-Man, who she still kind of has a crush on.

Leth makes Ian Soo and Jubilee integral parts of the plot in Hellcat #14. With the arc wrapping up, Jubilee’s vampire abilities, which seemed to be just played for laughs in previous issues, come in handy in the final fight. (You can’t scratch incorporeal clouds.) Ian’s telekinetic abilities have also come a long way since he was failing at robbing armored trucks back in Hellcat #1 and instead blasts with large swathes of pink from Rosenberg taking out Black Cat’s henchpeople. Jubilee and Ian are a pair of badasses and also happen to be great allies and friends to Patsy. Not even a girl gang can keep them down.

Although the plot was dependent on mind control, Hellcat #14 is a strong end to the comic’s third arc as Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, and Rachelle Rosenberg give Hellcat a personal connection to Black Cat’s gang through Ian and his ex and add plenty of physical comedy, smooching, and fierceness to see this story to the finish line.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Brittney Williams Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Divinity III Stalinverse: Aric, Son Of The Revolution #1

div3-aric_001_cover-b_bernardReturned to Earth from the stars with the ultimate nuclear deterrent – the indestructible X-O Manowar armor – the champion of socialism has single-handedly consolidated the state’s military and political superiority at home and abroad. But when a surprise attack from the Deadside shines an untoward light on the modern-day Soviet Union’s darkest secret, will Aric pursue his mission…or justice for the quiet dead of an empire’s oppression?

The first question you’re probably going to want answered is whether this tie-in is going to be essential reading if you’re loving the Divinity III main series thus far, or if it’s merely a pleasant distraction?

The good news is that it’s a bit of both.

We get quite an interesting take on X-O Manowar, complete with some scenes lifted straight from the fourth issue of X-O Manowar, that allows us some insight into Aric of Dacia’s state of mind in the Stalinverse. Although it remains to be seen how much of an impact this comic will have on the remaining three issues in the main series, getting the peek into his mind via the narration boxes we get is still interesting.

If you’re an X-O fan already, you’ll probably really enjoy this comic’s alternate take on one of comicdom’s most underrated characters – I did. Likewise, if you’re loving the overall Stalinverse.  However, it’s unlikely that unless you’re already reading Divinity III or you’re already a fan of X-O Manowar, that you’ll actually find anything here beyond an enjoyable story – which isn’t anything to turn your nose up at.

You’ll notice I purposely avoided talking about the story because I don’t want to give anything away when it comes to the plot that has an incredibly interesting moment midway through that will make several Valiant fans happy.

For X-O fans this is bordering on a must-read comic, for those reading the main series, you’ll want to check this out for the moment mentioned above, and for the rest of you? Well, that’s on you. This is a well written, wonderfully illustrated one-shot comic from one of the most exciting publishers around right now.

Story: Joe Harris Art: Cafu Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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