Tag Archives: fernando dagnino

Review: Killers #5

Killers #5

Superpowered ninjas versus arctic monks versus kill-crazy commandos in the bloody final battle in Killers #5!

Who lives? Will someone die? Who will win the ultimate prize?

The end is just the beginning…

Killers has been a pretty interesting journey for me because I read the outline a long time ago in preparation for an interview with B. Clay Moore. Graphic Policy also published an interview conducted with artist Fernando Dagnino which you can check out here. Because of the former interview, I’ve had a very rough idea what was coming for some time. I’ve made no secret of this. The outline became murkier in my memory as time progressed, whilst still being able to enjoy the ride. It’s an odd feeling, and the first time that I’d experienced it,

As the finale of the miniseries, Killers #5 does its job. It would have been a much better end to an ongoing series’ first arc. I say this because this issue seems more focused on setting up the next chapter than wrapping up this one. This is fine in many ways. It’s a story with a cast of characters I enjoy and want to see more of. I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the conclusion had a smaller bang because of the dual focus.

It’s the dual focus of concluding one chapter and opening the other that gives the book its biggest drawback. Moore’s breakneck pace has been an asset throughout the series, and so it’s ironic that it’s his ability to keep the story moving at such a pace becomes the only flaw in this comic. There isn’t really any breathing room in Killers #5, and it needs it so that you, dear reader, can digest and process the revelations in the story as they come at you one after the other.

Artistically, the book has its missteps. Dagnino and colorist Jose Villarrubia are very solid for 90% of this book. The areas where I found them less than solid were pretty minimal, largely limited to odd facial expressions and from the artists having less room to tell the story in parts than in others. Overall, though, the artistic flow of the book is enjoyable and easy to follow; the action scenes are clear and flow well, and you always know what’s occurring on the page.

At the end of the day, as a finale, this comic isn’t great. It’s good, but it’s not great. It lacks a sense of closure, opting instead to ensure we all know the door is open in the future for the story to continue. As a finale, it’s less than satisfying, but as a bridge book, it does its job very well. How you feel about the comic once you’ve read will depend largely on what you wanted from the final issue of a miniseries.

Story: B. Clay Moore Art: Fernand Dagnino Colours: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Killers #4

Killers #4

In Killers #4 it’s kill or be killed as the superninjas meet face to face!
What are they all trying to slaughter each other for? The reason behind the deadly race revealed!

It’s all-out action as the Killers face off against deadly Arctic assassins!

I’ve had an interesting relationship with this series. Not because I don’t enjoy it, I do, but because I’ve had a pretty good idea what will be happening from the first issue. Though that idea has become vaguer as the months tick by. Why, you might ask? Well for the simple reason that I had read the outline to the entire series in preparation for an interview with B. Clay Moore. Graphic Policy also published an interview with artist Fernando Dagnino which you can check out here. But of course, the outline was read some time ago. That has allowed me to transition from knowing the plot to having a rough idea how this’ll end whilst still getting surprised.

The part of Killers #4 set in the present day takes place almost entirely in a mountain pass. Various groups of assassins run into each other with some predictably bloody results. The action is smooth and swift. Dagnino and colorist Jose Villarubria work wonders with a limited color pallet for the cold snowy surroundings. The artists never fall back on pure blank space. Instead, they utilize subtle shades and the terrain to paint a picture for the assassins to play in.

You may have guessed that the comic isn’t entirely set in the present. Flashbacks flesh out the story so that we finally understand the motivations behind the driving force in Killers. The delivery is a little over explained over the course of the first half dozen pages, but not in a way that hammers you over the head with What You Should Know.

Killers #4 is a solid penultimate issue in the Ninja-K spinoff miniseries. While readers of that series will love the expansion of former Ninjas, those who haven’t read that series won’t have any trouble here. Moore has structured this comic along the edge of a blade; he’s got enough here for new readers to enjoy the story, enough for Ninja-K fans to delve deeper into the Ninja Programme lore whilst retaining a pace that’s as sharp as the edge he’s balancing on.

As an action comic, you really can’t go wrong with this issue. The surprisingly positive side is that it’s also pretty new-reader friendly too, assuming you’re okay to accept certain aspects of the characters capabilities.

Story: B. Clay Moore Art: Fernando Dagnino Colours: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Killers #3

Killers #3

The unstoppable marksman, Sights, joins the carnage in Killers #3! But where does his allegiance lie?

Can you trust a superninja with a mind broken by MI6? Just ask the Undisciple.

The high-octane battle royale continues as the Killers tear each other apart in a competition like no other!

For the first time since I began this series, I’ve read an issue with next to no idea what was going to happen. It was an oddly liberating experience. I’ve read the outline to the entire series in preparation for an interview with B. Clay Moore. Graphic Policy also published an interview with artist Fernando Dagnino which you can check out here.

Not knowing, really not remembering, what was going to happen in this book left me able to read it with fresh eyes. The comic was still every bit as exciting as the previous two issue. Perhaps more so since it was an unknown for me.

Killers #3 reveals a touch more about the cast of former ninja operatives. It also introduces a fifth – Ninja E. Moore’s characters are wonderfully colorful. Their personality pulses from the pages despite him giving us only a little information as to who they are. Credit for that should also go to Dagnino’s art. The way he has choreographed the panels and action combined with the body language of the ninja’s themselves helps to build your relationship with characters who may not have said all that much over the course of the series.

The artists deliver an atmospheric book that immerses you into the story with every page turn; there’s something about their work that’s just damn impressive. There are little bells and whistles here, and the comic is all the stronger for it.

Killers #3 is another solid issue in the miniseries that spins off from the revelations in Ninja-K. Though reading that series is absolutely not required to enjoy this one. Moore has left himself two comics to bring the story to a close, and at the rate he’s going I have no doubt that he’ll be able to close this out with a bang. Though I suppose it would be more appropriate to make a ninja related statement there… so I have no doubt that he’ll be able to close this out with a bang of smoke? Yeah, I don’t know either. What I do know is that I am thoroughly enjoying this story and that I cannot wait for the next chapters.

This deserves to be on the pull list of anybody wanting a change from spandex and superheroes.

Story: B. Clay Moore Art: Fernando Dagnino Colours: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Killers #3 (of 5)

KILLERS #3 (of 5)

Written by B. CLAY MOORE
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBIA
Letters by JEFF POWELL
Cover A by JONBOY MEYERS
Cover B by LARRY STROMAN with ROB STULL and ULISES ARREOLA
Cover C by YANNICK CORBOZ
Cover D by CULLY HAMNER
Preorder Edition by WHILCE PORTACIO with RAYMUND LEE
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale SEPTEMBER 18th

The unstoppable marksman, Sights, joins the carnage! But where does his allegiance lie?

Can you trust a superninja with a mind broken by MI6? Just ask the Undisciple.

The high-octane battle royale continues as the Killers tear each other apart in a competition like no other!

KILLERS #3 (of 5)

Review: Killers #2

Killers #2

What’s mightier, the superninja or the rocket launcher? Find out in Killers #2!

Ninjas are virtually fearless, but what can cut straight to their core and make them tremble? Enter: Ninja-F!

Featuring the first appearance of the mysterious woman named Snapdragon!

My exposure to this series has been longer than most. As with the first book, I first read Killers #2 more than a month ago shortly after the first issue came out. I had read the outline to the entire series in preparation for an inter with B. Clay Moore, which you can find here already. Graphic Policy also published an interview with artist Fernando Dagnino which you can check out here. The reason I mention this is because it took me far too long when reading this comic to realize why it felt so damn familiar.

Because I had already read the book, in some form, at least twice.

The funny thing is that despite the book feeling familiar, I never once felt that book was any less exciting.

Killers #2 opens exactly where the first issue left off, with Ninja G plummeting from a five story window after Ninja J pushed her out. What follows is a tense confrontation before moving on to the introduction of another Ninja or two (Ninjas I and F).

What impresses me most about B. Clay Moore‘s story is that he’s able to get so much into the comic without crossing the line into “too much.” In many ways the content he has packed in is wonderfully reminiscent of the comics of yore, when a single issue told a complete story. Now this is obviously the second part in a miniseries, but Moore is able to make the most out of his page count and still give Fernando Dagnino and Jose Villarrubia (art and colours respectively) plenty of room to showcase their visual story telling.

The artists deliver an atmospheric book that immerses you into the story with every page turn; there;s something about their work that’s just damn impressive. There’s little bells and whistles here, and the comic is all the stronger for it.

Killers #2 is a doubling down on the shady world these former Ninja Programme operatives find themselves once again involved in. It’s a story that’s as well-paced as it is visually presented. More people should be reading this than currently are. This is a book that feels oddly free of any encumbrance from continuity. Despite the characters origins in stemming from Ninja-K, Killers can easily be read as a standalone story without any trouble.

This deserves to be on the pull list of anybody wanting a change from spandex and superheroes.

Story: B. Clay Moore Art: Fernando Dagnino Colours: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8.7 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Killers #2 (of 5)

KILLERS #2 (of 5)

Written by B. CLAY MOORE
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBIA
Letters by JEFF POWELL
Cover Aby JONBOY MEYERS
Cover Bby SANFORD GREENE
Cover C by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Cover D by JOHN K. SNYDER III
Pre-Order Editionby WHILCE PORTACIO with RAYMUND LEE
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale AUGUST 28th

What’s mightier, the superninja or the rocket launcher?

Ninjas are virtually fearless, but what can cut straight to their core and make them tremble? Enter: Ninja-F!

Featuring the first appearance of the mysterious woman named Snapdragon!

KILLERS #2 (of 5)

Review: Killers #1

Killers #1 is a book that spins out of Ninja-K, but it can also be read as a standalone story without any trouble.

In Killers #1, five deadly assassins are recruited into a game of cat and mouse by their former sensei, the mysterious Jonin!

But what does the Jonin want from them, and what do they gain out of helping him?

Each of these assassins can channel their ki—the spiritual energy within all beings—in different ways, granting them incredible powers, essentially making them “superninjas”!

I first read this book in script for to prepare for an interview with writer B. Clay Moore, which you can find here. The second time I read the book was to prepare for an interview with artists Fernando Dagnino which you can check out here. The third time I read the book was for this review. Which I honestly thought I had written when we were first sent the preview copies. But I’m apparently an idiot at times.

Each time I’ve had the opportunity to read this comic, I’ve been impressed with how the art is so bloody perfect for the debut issue, setting the story’s scene and establishing a quick pace despite the being packed full of words. I was going to try and pick out my favorite scene to talk about and stick to that to limit spoilers, but the book is so full of great moments (any one of which would be the focal point in some comics) that it’s hard to pick just one. For that reason, I’ll do the smart and/or fair thing and talk about the first few pages.

With the book opening with a former operative being attacked in her kitchen, Dagnino’s grasp of visual storytelling is on full display as he expertly guides you from panel to panel and eventually page to page whilst Moore’s words have almost nothing to do, at least on the surface, with the action. But this is where the multiple readings over the course of several weeks have come to benefit me; Killers #1 is a comic of two sides. The first is the story you’re being told – a damn good story – that you’ll be able to pick up on with no problems. The second, as befits a book about the clandestine operatives of MI6’s Ninja Programme, isn’t as obvious all of the time. You need to read between the lines, find the parallels between the art and dialogue or narration when there doesn’t seem to be any and then put the pieces together yourself.

Killers #1 is a book that spins out of Ninja-K, but it can also be read as a standalone story without any trouble. It’s a comic that has a unique flavor to its art, the work of Dagnino with Jose Villarrubia supporting him on colors is powerful, smooth and enjoyable to read. Without a doubt, it’s the highlight of the book for me.

If you see this on the shelves, pick a copy up. I will.

Story: B. Clay Moore Art: Fernando Dagnino Colours: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8.7 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Killers #1 (of 5)

KILLERS #1 (of 5)

Written by B. CLAY MOORE
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBIA
Letters by JEFF POWELL
Cover A by JONBOY MEYERS
Cover B by DIEGO BERNARD
Cover C by KEN LASHLEY
Pre-Order Edition by WHILCE PORTACIO
Blank Variant Cover also available
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale JULY 31st

Five deadly assassins are recruited into a game of cat and mouse by their former sensei, the mysterious Jonin!

But what does the Jonin want from them, and what do they gain out of helping him?

Each of these assassins can channel their ki—the spiritual energy within all beings—in different ways, granting them incredible powers, essentially making them “superninjas”!

KILLERS #1 (of 5)

Fernando Dagnino Talks bringing out his inner Killers for the New Valiant Series

Killers #1

With art by Fernando Dagnino, five deadly assassins are recruited into a game of cat and mouse by their former sensei, the mysterious Jonin!

But what does the Jonin want from them, and what do they gain out of helping him?

Each of these assassins can channel their ki—the spiritual energy within all beings—in different ways, granting them incredible powers, essentially making them “superninjas”!

Coming July 31st is Killers from writer B. Clay Moore, art by Fernando Dagnino, colors by José Villarrubia, and letters by Jeff Powell.

We got a chance to talk to Fernando about the new series and letting the art tell the story.

GP: Killers follows a cast of characters who haven’t really been seen too much, if at all, before. How much creative input did you have with their design?

Fernando Dagnino: I took the concept art done by AJ Jothikumar for the Ninjas as an initial reference, but then I was given freedom to adapt the designs while maintaining the idiosyncrasy of the characters. My reference was the sort of underworld portrayed in such films as John Wick or Atomic Blonde

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

GP: I’ve never been to Italy, despite having grown up in Europe, but the backgrounds of those scenes were immediately recognizable to me as a Mediterranean setting. How much time do you spend researching the locations in the series?

FD: In fact when I first read the script of #1, one of the things that shocked me most were the settings, in particular, the Italian scene because I had traveled to Burano two years ago. So I knew perfectly well how it looked like and how to render the scene. Burano is a beautiful island near Venice, Italy, where all the houses are painted in beautiful saturated colors and of course it´s crossed by channels just like Venice. I found it to be really original and daring to set a crime scene in such a colorful scenery.

But the constant change from one gorgeous scenery to the next one is an essential part of story and describes perfectly well the lifestyle of these sophisticated killers. In that sense building up well documented settings provides a greater realism to the story.

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

GP: The first issue features quite a few moments where the narration allows the art to tell the story, especially within the opening sequences. As an artist, how do you approach these pages when you see the script?

FD: I’ve felt really comfortable working with B.Clay Moore´s script from the beginning because it allows space for the art to tell the story. I personally prefer to work like that. It makes me feel like I´m part of the storytelling too and I really get more passionate and excited about the story.

GP: Do you know roughly what you want to do for each page before you start the thumbnails and rough layouts, or does it take you a few different tries to find the best choice for each page?

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

FD: When I first read the script I make some illegible thumbnail layouts on the paper on which I have printed the script. I got stuck in the ’90s, I still print and read!

Then, taking those cryptic thumbnails as a reference, I begin drawing on the Ipad an initial layout that would be halfway between a layout and a pencil.

In these layouts I also mark the grey scales so I get a better idea of the composition and the atmosphere of the page. That´s what I send the editors for approval and then I go on to the final art.

Some pages really come out easy whereas others I tend to resolve not so gracefully or rather using mechanical resources, in those cases I like to give a second or third try in order to step out of the way so that something simpler and more direct comes up.

GP: How much freedom do you have with the layouts and page construction with this series? Do you prefer working from a full script, or do you prefer the “Marvel Way”? 

FD: I really must thank the editors Karl Bollers and David Menchel because they have placed total trust on my narrative skills and I have felt part of the storytelling from the beginning.

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

As you´ve mentioned some scenes are left open for a looser interpretation of the narrative, and personally not only do I feel much more comfortable from a creative point of view, but it also helps me get more involved in the story and with the characters. B.Clay Moore is to thank here for understanding the nature of the process in comic books so well. 

GP: You’ve also worked with the Walt Disney Company Imagineers. How does that experience influence your approach to comics, if at all?

FD: That was back in 1998 I was really young when I worked for the imagineers.  It was a wonderful experience being in L.A. (Glendale and Burbank). I had the chance to visit the old studios in Flower street and they even sent me to Disneyland one whole day to conduct research!

It has influenced me a lot professionally as it was my first contact with high level artistic professionals and with a working process full of talent and excellence.

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

But I was already a comic addict by then so my main influence has always been comic book artists and writers.

GP: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the final question; which is better? Ninjas, cowboys, aliens or zombies, and why?

FD: That´s a tricky question. To be honest, the idea of brainless hordes of undead trying to eat the remaining freethinkers of the world resonates to me now more than ever. So I go for zombies.

GP: Thanks for chatting and excited to check out the series!

Early Preview: Killers #1 (of 5)

KILLERS #1 (of 5)

Written by B. CLAY MOORE
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBIA
Letters by JEFF POWELL
Cover A by JONBOY MEYERS
Cover B by DIEGO BERNARD
Cover C by KEN LASHLEY
Pre-Order Edition Cover by WHILCE PORTACIO
Blank Cover Also Available 
On sale July 31st, 2019 (FOC July 8th, 2019) (FOC July 8, 2019)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | Full Color

Five deadly assassins are recruited into a game of cat and mouse by their former sensei, the mysterious Jonin!

But what does the Jonin want from them, and what do they gain out of helping him?

Each of these assassins can channel their ki—the spiritual energy within all beings—in different ways, granting them incredible powers, essentially making them “superninjas”!

KILLERS #1 (of 5)
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