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Review: King in Black #1

King in Black #1

Marvel’s next event kicks off with King in Black #1, the culmination of years of build-up and teases throughout the Marvel Universe. This even sees Knull, the “god of the symbiotes” attack Earth with the heroes having to make a stand before he brings complete darkness to Earth and all of existence.

Marvel has had numerous events over the recent years and while many have had their moments, for the most part these events have fallen flat. They may start off with a bang but generally fizzle. King in Black #1 definitely launches with a hell of a start. It’s a disaster film in comic form. The heroes must scramble on a grand scale while the comic also focuses in on the micro scale as well.

Writer Donny Cates nails the opening with a little something for everyone. The heroes get their stand. There’s great moments like the X-Men swooping in. But, it’s the focus on Eddie Brock and his son that delivers heart for the series.

Eddie, also known as Venom, is directly tied to Knull and Cates has been building to this event through that series for years at this point. Cates has evolved Brock from the popular anti-hero to a father with concerns for his son. We see that here as he attempts to seek shelter and protect his kid. It’s a human detail that adds so much to this beginning. King in Black #1 could easily have just been battle after battle. But, this small part adds something we can relate to as parents and children. It adds a human aspect to the larger than life event and grounds it in some ways. It also allows us to connect and really care as to what happens.

Joining Cates is artist Ryan Stegman who has worked with Cates through so much of his Venom run. Stegman’s style is very much his with imagery that pops and comes off as larger than life. It’s a look I personally love and here it works so well with such grand-scale moments. Stegman’s style has a certain exaggeration and it helps emphasize the larger than life moments. Stegman is joined by JP Mayer on ink, Frank Martin on color, and Clayton Cowles with lettering. The art could easily fall into a space that’s too dark but despite the black and red, it never gets to a point it feels like a dirge. There’s still something that jumps from the page despite the “dark” nature of it all.

King in Black #1 kicks things off with jaw-dropping moments and unexpected twists. But, it’s the heart of it all where things succeed. Eddie Brock brings a touch to the story that we can all relate to. And, more importantly, he brings a character we can empathize with and feel sorry for. He’s likely sacrificing himself to save the world and his kid and knows it. Yet, he goes through with it. King in Black #1 is the shift of Eddie Brock from anti-hero to true hero willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. It’s the start of an event but also the next step for the character that Cates and Stegman have been adding depth to for years.

Darkness might reign but King in Black #1 shines.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Wolverine: Black, White, & Blood #1

Wolverine: Black, White, & Blood #1

I’m a fan of anthologies. You get a chance to see numerous creators all have fun in the same pool or give their spin on the same character. To see how different creators handle the same character is always interesting in that you can get such varied takes really showing how different voices and perspectives can be. Wolverine: Black, White, & Blood #1 kicks off a new anthology mini-series from Marvel focused on Wolverine from a varied group of writers, artists, and colorists.

Wolverine: Black, White, & Blood #1 features three stories each of which vary a lot in tone and style. They all have one thing in common, they’re bloody. These aren’t Wolverine comics for the kids, the stories are adult, mature, and use their limited color palette really well.

The Beast Within Them” explores Wolverine’s time in the Weapon X program. It’s an appropriate start taking us back to the early days of the character preceding the other two stories within this first issue. Written by Gerry Duggan, with art by Adam Kubert, and color by Frank Martin, the story is interesting as it explores the ongoing struggle within the character. Still known as Experiment-X, Wolverine is sent on tests to see how he reacts and how much he can be controlled. He’s a loose beast fighting other beasts for survival, running on instinct. But, underneath there’s a man. Duggan explores why the program may have had so many issues with Logan. The art is fierce and guttural at times finely depicting the rage and brutal nature of the fights.

I Shall Be a Wolf” is by writer Matthew Rosenberg, artist Joshua Cassara, and colors by Guru-eFX. Focused more on the spy side of Wolverine, he’s capture by Hydra who wants to use him to get to Nick Fury. It’s a brutal story with the bodies piling up and some twists and turns that are unexpected. While it at times feels like a familiar spy story we’ve seen before, where the story goes is unexpected. The end really pays off, though the entire story is a solid back and forth. I gasped with an “oh shit” towards the end as the story wraps up and the exclamation point is delivered.

Declan Shalvey handles writing and art with “Cabin Fever,” the final story. Wolverine comes across a murdered couple and crying baby in a cabin and then must deal with those who killed the couple. It’s a bloody and violent story filled with body parts launched from a simple story.

Clayton Cowles provides the lettering for each story and each has their own subtle differences. It’s interesting to see how each story varies and Cowles handles the lettering for such different stories. You can see the thought given to each, especially in “Cabin Fever”. With that story the lettering shifts to reflect Wolverine’s rage going from white to orange to red and back to orange and then white. It’s subtle but smart.

Each story is different and each creative team delivers. There’s not a stinker in the bunch. Wolverine: Black, White, & Blood #1 shows us such different sides of the same character, the beast, the patriot and soldier, and the man. Each has a common theme of someone struggling with their mission and to find peace. But, that person is driven to do what’s right. Each story is bloody and brutal though. Despite the very human person at the center of it all, there’s a level of violence that’s inhuman.

Wolverine: Black, White, & Blood #1 is a hell of a start for the series. It’s a solid read whether you like Wolverine or not. Each story is full of violent, brutal, action, but also has more than enough to have you pause and think. A solid start to the series that makes the case for more of these types of releases.

Story: Gerry Duggan, Matthew Rosenberg, Declan Shalvey
Art: Adam Kubert, Joshua Cassara, Declan Shalvey
Color: Frank Martin, Guru-eFX, Declan Shalvey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: STAIRWAY Anthology

STAIRWAY Anthology

(W) Kevin Cuffe, Simon Birks, Carlos Giffoni, Joseph A. Michael, Mark Schmidt, Octavio Karbank, Christopher Preece, Austin Allen Hamblin, Omar Spahi, Frank Martin
(A) Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, Donny Tran, Eva Cabrera, Livio Ramondelli, Balazs Valyogos, Andrea Mutti, Atilio Rojo, Christian Dibari

Genetic manipulation, paradox, alternative histories, and much more are included in this 128-page anthology of hard science fiction and genre stories! From some of the best up-and-coming talent in comics comes a mind-bending look at what makes us human.

STAIRWAY Anthology

AWA Studios Announces Year Zero Volume 2

AWA StudiosYear Zero is getting a second volume that begins in November. The first issue drops one month after the first volume’s trade is released.

The new volume explores new characters from other parts of the world affected by the pandemic’s global reboot of the world and tests the ability to survive in this new world order.

Upshot’s hit series Year Zero returns with four new harrowing tales of survival from around a post-apocalyptic world: A grizzled Norwegian sea captain and her two young grandchildren navigate an ocean teeming with undead while eluding the relentless pirates on their trail. A Colombian cartel boss indulges all of his most sadistic whims unaware that a threat far greater than zombies is headed toward his jungle fortress. A Rwandan doctor must overcome the crippling fear that has plagued him all his life as he stumbles through the African bush. And a pregnant woman barricaded in an American big-box store discovers that the greatest threat to her life – and her unborn child’s – might not be undead. Benjamin Percy once again pens this global look at the zombie apocalypse, now joined by artist Juan Jose Ryp and colorist Frank Martin.

Year Zero Volume 2 #1

Review: Wolverine #1

He’s the best there is at what he does and what he does isn’t pretty. Wolverine is back in a solo title that kicks off with this very oversized issue!

Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Adam Kubert, Viktor Bogdanovic
Color: Frank Martin, Matthew Wilson
Lettering: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Venom #21

Absolute Carnage is over! What’s next for Eddie Brock and Venom? Venom Island begins here!

Story: Donny Cates
Art: Mark Bagley
Ink: Andy Owens
Color: Frank Martin, Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Savage Avengers Vol. 1 City of Sickles

The Punisher, Wolverine, Elektra, Venom, Voodoo… and Conan? They’re the Savage Avengers!

Story: Gerry Duggan
Art: Mark Deodato, Jr.
Color: Frank Martin
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Get your copy in comic shops now and in bookstores on Novmeber 26! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Berserker Unbound #3

Berserker Unbound #3

In Berserker Unbound #3, the warrior known as the Mongrel King, trapped in a modern world with no one but a sympathetic homeless man to keep him company, finds himself confronted by new dangers and old threats from his homeland.

Berserker Unbound #3 is an odd comic. The majority of the issue revolves around the Mongrel King and a homeless man drinking at night in Central Park. Each talks to each other in a language that neither can understand. You would think that this would leave the comic a mess with little progression. The two men essentially have separate conversations with the other, making an assumption as to what the other is saying.

You’d think that this would lead to the comic taking itself in a circle. There’s an oddly endearing feeling to the two men’s dialogue. Jeff Lemire allows a natural flow to the two conversations. It does more to develop the characters than one would expect. The barbarian and the homeless man reveal their vulnerabilities to the audience and themselves. Though because of the language barrier, not to each other.

Berserker Unbound #3 rebounds from the slower pace of the previous issue as the story finds a direction. I’m not going to say “once again” because I don’t think it ever lost its direction. The direction wasn’t as obvious at the end of the second issue as it is at the end of the third. This brings me back to a point I made in last month’s review; that Jeff Lemire is one of the preeminent writers in comics. His ability to twist expectations with the way he commands a story and the dialogue used can be some of the most exciting things in a comic book – when he’s on form.

And holy shit, is he ever on form.

Mike Deodato Jr.‘s artwork captures both the feel of the Silver Age sword and sorcery comics without ever feeling dated. Put simply, this is a gorgeous book. But it’s also more than that; with the characters essentially talking to themselves for the entire issue, what we have, for all intents and purposes, is a silent issue. While the characters can’t understand each other verbally, their body language is plain as day, allowing the Mongrel King and Joe Cobb the communicate visually. Deodato Jr. is able to show his storytelling chops with a powerful scene near the climax of the comic that will hit you with an emotional gut-punch all with barely a handful of words on the page.

It’s a great sequence and one of the many joys that readers of this series will get to experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed this comic, with its mixture of fantasy and the modern world working together in a way that adds a unique twist to a well used trope. I’d expect nothing less from a writer of Lemire’s caliber.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Mike Deodato Jr. Color: Frank Martin
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided a FREE copy for review. I’ve added this to my pull list.

Review: Berserker Unbound #2

Berserker Unbound #2

Ripped from a savage world ruled by magic and dropped at the outskirts of a modern city, feared warrior the Mongrel King is found and rescued by a homeless man who guides him through a new land with new vices and hardships in Berserker Unbound #2.

There should be little doubt by now that Jeff Lemire is one of the preeminent writers in comics. His ability to twist expectations with the way he commands a story and the dialogue used can be some of the most exciting things in a comic book – when he’s on form.

Berserker Unbound #2 seems to be a comic where Lemire isn’t on form. It’s an issue that is almost completely at odds with the one before it. Whereas Berserker Unbound #1 had some balls-to-the-wall action and more gore than a horror convention, the second issue is basically two men talking at each other. I say at each other and not to each other because neither the Mongrel King nor the newly introduced Joe Cobb has any idea what the other is saying. It makes for some interesting moments, but ultimately the comic ends in almost the same place it begins.

Or does it?

Through the course of the second issue the homeless Joe Cobb introduces the Mongrel King to life on the streets of New York City, the struggle for food, safety and shelter (and alcohol) for the most unfortunate of the city’s inhabitants, with Cobb assuming that the Mongrel King is another lost soul like himself. Conversely, the barbarian is trying to find his way home, and having no idea what Cobb is saying, is trusting him to find the wizard he needs to transport him home.

The pace of this comic is glacial in comparison to the first issue, mirroring the frustration and impatience of the title character in a world he doesn’t understand.

Mike Deodato Jr.‘s artwork captures the essence of sword and sorcery comics and book covers from the Silver Age, and he’s able to give the giant Mongrel King a subtle gracefulness to his movements that belies his size. As the issue progresses, you can see the changes in the barbarian’s posture as his new surroundings confuse and anger him further and further. But perhaps the largest key to sussing out the Mongrel King’s emotions is in the coloring of Frank Martin. Shifting colors from a vibrant hue to a muted grey and blue tone as the characters move into a setting where their individuality is swallowed by the masses; where they become one with the masses for a brief moment. Two faces in the crowd.

When it comes to any story written by Jeff Lemire, I usually find there’s a slower start to where the writer establishes his setting – that wasn’t the case last issue, and with the slower pace in Berserker Unbound #2 I can’t help but feel that this is a deliberate choice to illustrate the mundanity and hopelessness of the Mongrel King’s new situation – Lemire is the kind of writer that has a long game in mind, and I have every intention of sticking around to find out what that is.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Mike Deodato Jr.
Color: Frank Martin
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided a FREE copy for review. I’ve added this to my pull list.

Review: Absolute Carnage #2

Absolute Carnage #2

Things are looking desperate in Absolute Carnage #2. Venom and Spider-Man are surrounded by Carnage and his horde and that’s even before we get to Miles Morales’ story.

Writer Donny Cates continues to deliver an event that brings a tinge of horror to the Spider-Man universe. Carnage is on a mission to resurrect the symbiote god and he’ll need to kill a lot of people to do so.

What Cates delivers so well is the feeling of desperation. Spider-Man and Venom are outnumbered and know it. That feeling of people overwhelmed is projected to the reader nicely. There’s a sense of drowning concerning it all. That experience is repeated quite a few times within the issue. And that also leads the first problem.

The issue delivers some of the events we see in Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #1. While it comes off as the “Reader’s Digest” version the two stories don’t quite line up in all of the details as far as what’s show in each. Some of that may be chalked up to different perspectives but it stands out. Also, the spin-off’s depiction of events feels a bit superior to this abbreviated take.

The art by Ryan Stegman is pretty solid. With ink by JP Mayer and color by Frank Martin, it looks really good. It’s not all perfect. There are moments where Stegman’s style doesn’t quite match the “horror” vibe of it. And, in one particular panel, Pete’s facial expression doesn’t quite match the moment. Stegman’s style is usually fantastic for Venom and Spider-Man but here it misses the tone a bit. What does hit the vibe is Clayton Cowles‘ lettering which just nails Carnage’s “voice” so well. It stands out and emphasizes the terror in every scene he’s in. It’s a perfect match of a lettering style to a character.

Absolute Carnage #2 is a good entry in the stand out event. The issue has some flaws but those are minor compared to the entertainment.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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