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Review: Darkhold Alpha

Darkhold Alpha

After what feels like an extended delay, Darkhold Alpha is here kicking off the miniseries that promises to twist and turn some of our favorite heroes. The story focuses on Scarlet Witch who must assemble a team to stop Chthon who’s back and wants to break into our world. Who’s Chthon? Well, the demon has history with Wanda and that’s all you need to know. While I’m sure there might be something more interesting in the comic for those who know the history, it’s not vital. But, of course things can’t be easy and as this debut ends, exactly where this series is going could be interesting.

Written by Steve Orlando, Darkhold Alpha has a bit of a vibe of the 1990s Marvel horror line. The Darkhold played a key roll then, so it’s not surprising that this issue has echoes in that era of comics. What Orlando does that’s solid is set up the challenge as exactly that, a challenge. Dr. Doom is the one who sets things in motion by trying to obtain the Darkhold and through Doom, Orlando makes it feel like our heroes really have a battle ahead. Here is an arrogant but powerful character who can’t stand up to Chthon himself. That choice is a solid one as it doesn’t feel like a character is sacrificed for the hell of it. If Doom is so easily beaten, what chance do our heroes have?

There’s some foreshadowing that is a bit too obvious. Our heroes must prepare to enter the “Other World” to take on Chthon and prepare their minds. Read too much of the Darkhold and they become corrupted. You can see where this is going after the fifth time that’s uttered. It’s a little too obvious but creates a nice hurdle in that the future of this story isn’t as clear. Where one might have expected the heroes to get “powered up” and go and battle, that’s not quite as clear now.

Cian Tormey‘s art is good. There’s some good emotion and cool character designs but there’s also some panels which feel a little odd in reactions. Where Tormey excels is in some small details, a Doombot’s head on fire for example, or Doom himself beaten up. With color by Jesus Aburtov and lettering by Clayton Cowles, the look of the comic fits the horror genre well without being dark and ominous. It keeps its feet planted in the world of superheroes and the magical side of the Marvel Universe and does it well.

Darkhold Alpha is an interesting start. There’s a lot thrown in and it does an excellent job of explaining things. As far as beginnings, it does what it needs to setting things up and keeping the overall story a bit of a guess. While this so far isn’t a miniseries that’s a must read, it does have enough interesting aspects to check out and see where it all goes.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Cian Tormey
Color: Jesus Aburtov Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.65 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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The Immortal Hulk #50 Captures Immortal Moments in Variant Covers

The end of one of the most critically-acclaimed comic runs in recent history arrives next month with Immortal Hulk #50, a special giant-sized issue that will present the epic conclusion to years of buildup, mystery, and Gamma-powered additions to the Hulk mythology. To celebrate the end of this groundbreaking journey, some of the industry’s top artists have delivered outstanding ‘Immortal Moments’ variant covers that depict some of the highlights of the last 49 issues.

These eight covers will allow readers to relive the following breathtaking moments from throughout this incredible saga:

  • Ron Lim and Israel Silva immortalizes Hulk’s discovery of the gamma-irradiated father of Del Frye from IMMORTAL HULK #2
  • Ed McGuinness and Laura Martin immortalizes the brutal brawl between the red Absorbing Man and Hulk from IMMORTAL HULK #9
  • Gary Frank and Brad Anderson immortalizes the climactic moment of the “Hulk in Hell” arc where Devil Hulk lets Bruce know he’ll always protect him from IMMORTAL HULK #13
  • Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, and Marcio Menyz immortalizes the debut of the Rick Jones/Abomination hybrid from IMMORTAL HULK #17
  • Creees Lee and Jesus Aburtov immortalizes Hulk’s initial confrontation with Betty’s new manifestation of her Red Harpy persona from IMMORTAL HULK #19
  • Sanford Greene immortalizes the glimpse of Hulk’s potential future as the Breaker of Worlds from IMMORTAL HULK #25.
  • InHyuk Lee immortalizes Hulk squaring off against his Roxxon-backed replacement, Xemnu, from IMMORTAL HULK #31
  • Jen Bartel immortalizes the reveal of the Devil Hulk’s true look from IMMORTAL HULK #38

Check out all eight now and be there for the end to this historic run when Immortal Hulk #50 hits stands on October 13!

Marvel Celebrates Latinx Heroes with Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades #1

This October, Marvel presents Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades #1! This latest one-shot in the Marvel’s Voices series will continue the tradition of highlighting the cultural richness of Marvel Comics and uplifting new voices in the comic book industry. The comic turns the spotlight to Latinx heroes and creators from the Marvel Universe.

These all-new stories will feature thrilling adventures of some of Marvel’s most popular heroes while celebrating the range of their cultural heritage as told by fan-favorite writers and artists and those making their Marvel Comics debut.

  • Writer Terry Blas introduces a brand-new hero in an action-packed adventure spinning out of his acclaimed Reptil series.
  • New York Times best-selling author Daniel José Older revisits the legacy of Marvel’s first super hero of Latino descent, Hector Ayala aka White Tiger, in an inspiring story rooted in real history.
  • Catch up with the current White Tiger, Ava Ayala, when author Amparo Ortiz has the young hero confront the dark nature of her powers.
  • Travel to the past with writer Juan Ponce to witness Nina the Conjuror, the Brazilian Sorcerer Supreme of the 1950s, battle the raging nature spirit known as Anhangá.
  • Plus an introduction by renowned comics scholar Frederick Luis Aldama about the history of Latinx heroes and creators in the comic book industry.

Stay tuned for information on the other stories in this collection including works by Karla Pacheco, Alex Segura, Leo Romero, Edgar Delgado, Nico Leon, and more! Announced artists include Enid Balám, Vanesa Del Ray, Adriana Melo, Leonardo Romero, Nico Leon, Alitha E. Martinez, and more. It features a main cover by Joe Quesada and variants by Mateus Manhanini, Maria Wolf and Mike Spicer, Nabetse Zitro and Jesus Aburtov, and George Pérez and Java Tartaglia.

Marvel’s first Latino super hero, White Tiger, was created by writer Bill Mantlo and artist George Pérez in 1974’s Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #19. Since then, Marvel has introduced many heroes of Latino-descent from a multitude of different backgrounds including current stars such as Miles Morales, America Chavez, and Reptil. Join us in celebrating these heroes and many more when Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades #1 hits stands on October 20th!

An All-New Bounty Hunter Enters the Fray in Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt #1

A new bounty hunter character will be making their first appearance on July 21st in Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt #1. Created by writer Justina Ireland and artist Iban Coello, Deva Lompop will be recruited by Jabba the Hutt to succeed where Boba Fett has failed and bring him Han Solo! Equipped with an array of unique weaponry and sporting a killer design, Deva is set to have a major impact on the action-packed crossover and will appear in all four upcoming War of the Bounty Hunters one-shots.

And while Deva may be new to fans, she’s been causing trouble in the Star Wars galaxy for a very long time. A member of the alien species known as the Shani, Deva’s long lifespan has allowed her to operate in the underworld since the High Republic era, and readers can expect to see her in works set during that time in the near future!

Don’t miss the debut of Deva when Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt #1 hits stands on July 21st! Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt #1 is written by Justina Ireland with art by Luca Pizzari and Ibraim Roberson, colors by Giada Marchisio and Edgar Delgado. It has variant covers by Iban Coello with colors by Jesus Aburtov and Bernard Chang.

Review: Fantastic Four #29

Fantastic Four #29

The Fantastic Four find themselves in the middle of all of the King In Black’s business in Fantastic Four #29. Sue is spying on Johnny and his soulmate, Sky.

Generally, I think crossover issues kinda stink. Characters are thrust into some no-nonsense event, jobbing for someone else’s villain, and nothing that matters ever really happens. Here, as Reed and company are making sure everything is good with Valeria and the gang at the Forever Gate, the black symbiotic dragons of Knull, God of symbiotes, just start raining from the sky.

I’ll give Dan Slott a bit of credit in that I’m surprised at how much he can pull off with such a huge cast of characters in tow. He does make it work and give everyone their space. It’s not the FF is there’s no family drama and the entire Sue-Johnny-Sky situation reeks of typical FF drama. Oddly enough, it’s more interesting to me than when it just became a no-nonsense fight against symbiotic dragons that no one can harm or hurt.

The art was pretty good from Ze Carlos but I’m ready for them to return Reed to his more traditional look and away from looking like John Krasinski. We get it. We’re over it. Besides that, I do like his style, which reminds me a bit of a looser style Mike Wieringo. Also, he illustrates a killer Thing.

One thing you don’t normally see is a bunch of heroes just popping up but this issue had them all over in the backgrounds, which in a way isn’t the norm with event tie-ins. Usually, it’s a more secluded setting for whoever’s book it is and then it brings them in near the end of the main series. Sadly, I felt like the end twist in Fantastic Four #29 happened off-panel and it was a letdown. That said, if you are an event completist, you’ll not want to miss the Fantastic Four’s involvement in King In Black.

Story: Dan Slott Art: Ze Carlos
Color: Jesus Aburtov Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.5

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Venom #31

Venom #31

A tie-in to King in Black, Venom #31 is going to irritate some readers while others will praise the interesting direction of the comic. As the opening issue of King of Black ended, Eddie Brock had his symbiote ripped from him and thrown from the top of a buildng. This issue… is just Eddie falling. That’s it. Seriously.

Titled “Thirty-Two Seconds“, writer Donny Cates spends the issue chronicling Eddie falling to his possible death. We know as readers the likelihood of that isn’t going to happen but as pages flip we’re expecting a miraculous save and some action and are delivered… falling. Seriously. That’s it.

It’s an interesting issue and it has a key goal. For those who are new to Venom and started King in Black with its first issue, Venom #31 acts as a way to catch individuals up. The issue takes us through some of the history of the character reflecting how this is an event years in the making and setting up the difficult battle ahead.

But, what’s truly amazing about the issue is that it never delivers what you expect it to.

Eddie falls. That’s it.

There is not miraculous save. There is no symbiote to the rescue. This is an issue that never delivers what you expect and leaves the reader waiting for something that never happens. In that way, it’s an amazing issue. It’s also sure to piss people off.

Cates pulls off the audacious issue with art by Iban Coello. Along with Jesus Aburtov on color and Clayton Cowles on lettering, the art is fantastic as expected. Coello and Aburtov are a great combo for art. With panels delivering but seconds, the duo use it to show the terror as Eddie falls. We’re taken through the motions of fear, attempts at finding a solution, and then acceptance. Much of this is conveyed through Eddie’s face as he falls. His body language delivers a sense of someone out of control. His eyes tells us as much as to what he’s thinking as does the dialogue. Cowles lettering takes advantage of some of the page layouts delivering an almost poet like text during Eddie’s plummeting.

Venom #31 is a gutsy issue and I’m not sure what to think honestly. I want to read it again and as a single issue, there’s something amazing about it. But, little happens. It’s a non-story. We get taken through the steps of grief and are never delivered to our expectations. In that way, it stands out, but it’s also an issue that’s sure to anger some readers at the same time.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Iban Coello
Color: Jesus Aburtov Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.75 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Marvel Celebrates Black History Month with Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 and Variant Covers by Ernanda Souza

Black Panther. Storm. Blade. Falcon. Ironheart. Luke Cage. Spectrum. And so many more. Marvel’s incredible legacy of Black heroes will be celebrated this February in Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1.

This thrilling special will feature a dazzling array of stories by both new and established creators. Eisner Award-winning writer Nnedi Okorafor pens a Venom story highlighting the importance of heroes who fight for the downtrodden. Explore Blade’s legacy – vampiric and heroic – in a story by writer Danny Lore. And in their exciting Marvel Comics debuts, Ho Che Anderson brings Luke Cage fans an old-school story about the choices that make a hero, author Tochi Onyebuchi tells an action-packed tale of a wild night in Madripoor with Domino, and writer Stephanie Williams highlights family in a light-hearted Monica Rambeau story! See these outstanding writers and more take on their favorite heroes in tales designed to inspire and uplift, featuring art by Ken Lashley, Sean Damien Hill, Valentine de Landro, Chris Allen, and more!

The Marvel’s Voices program continues to showcase that the Marvel Universe truly is the “the world outside your window.” Don’t miss this latest installment honoring Black History Month when Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 hits stands in February!

Marvel Comics has also announced a series of Black History Month variant covers by renowned artist Ernanda Souza. Also making her Marvel Comics debut, Souza brings to life your favorite black heroes in stunning variant covers coming in February.

Check out rising star Taurin Clarke and Jesus Aburtov’s cover for Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 below along with the first three Black History Month variant covers featuring Storm, Blade, and Black Panther.

Review: Fantastic Four #25

Fantastic Four #25

In Fantastic Four #25, an otherworldly being of incredible power is looking for an omnipotent power than Reed Richards has locked away many, many years ago (but never mentioned). Separate, none of the Fantastic Four can stop this villain. Combined with the might of the FF and a bunch of their friends and family, they are able to defeat the bad guy and save the day.

Let’s be honest: that’s the synopsis of many Fantastic Four stories. These plot pieces make up your typical FF story. What separates the good and bad stories is how you put those pieces together. The Fantastic Four are not quite the superheroes that many others in the Marvel Universe are. They are adventurers and explorers and the bizarre and unknown are their backyard over most anyone else. So having a story where the plot isn’t exactly original, it helps that the writer puts pieces in place that makes it a bit more interesting.

Writer Dan Slott makes the FF feel like the FF.  In my opinion, there’s a lot that Slott does with these characters. Fantastic Four #25 features a strong family dynamic and the threat is certainly a deadly one. I’ve been a fan of the FF since I was a child and while I haven’t been reading it much in the last two years, the first story in the 25th issue did feel like a classic. That said, the other story in this issue, between a newly-reborn Uatu and the original Nick Fury felt a bit off and unexciting. You can’t win them all, true believers.

For being the Fantastic Four, it’s Fantastic a-whole-lot-of-people. Doom and his servant, another set of jobbers in the Baxter building, Ben’s adopted-ish kids that he has with Alicia. There’s a lot of people in the story so there’s two ways to look at it. Too many moving pieces that take away a bit of focus from Reed and Co. Or, it enhances the family dynamic, another quality of what makes the FF who they are. I personally felt it was maybe too many people for a single issue. Ben and Johnny do not contribute much to this, which was a bummer.

Holy cow! The art in Fantastic Four was pretty…fantastic? I am new to the art team of R.B. Silva and Jesus Abertov but they blew me away. They totally nail the character looks and there were some pages, like the one of Reed and Valeria working in the lab, that stood out. One thing I enjoyed visually was the scene with Reed and Valeria in the lab, totally looking like something out of the Kirby era. The action sequences stand out with both high marks in detail and panel work, not skimping on backgrounds.  Great lettering all around from Joe Caramagna. And I think it makes a huge difference on a book to have an eye-catching cover and I thought the Mark Brooks cover was top-notch.

Dan Slott has been on this book for a few years and from the few issues I’ve read of his FF run, I’ve really enjoyed it and wished that I kept up in a better fashion on it. R.B. Silva and Jesus Abertov crushed the visuals. I think for a new reader, Fantastic Four #25 would not be the most friendly issue to pick up but I do think this was a pretty good issue of Fantastic Four and definitely worth the read.

Story: Dan Slott Art: R.B. Silva, Paco Medina, Will Robson
Color: Jesus Aburtov, Marcio Menyz Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Maestro #1

Maestro #1

I remember many years ago when Maestro debuted and getting those issues. It was an interesting take on the Hulk. At the time he was a character I didn’t really care for. The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect gave us a “possible future” story when those felt rare and special. All these years later we get Maestro #1, the origin of the brutal future version of the Hulk. When it was announced I immediately wondered if this was a story we really needed. After reading the first issue, I want more. There’s so much there and I and fully expect spin-offs in the “Old Man” sort of way.

Created by ‎Peter David‎ and ‎George Pérez and debuting in 1992, Maestro was a future version of the Hulk coming from a world where the heroes have been wiped out. It’s been almost 30 years so the original story is a fading memory but the debut was huge as this was a brutal version of the Hulk unlike anything seen at that time. Mixed with the popular trope of “alternative futures” the character was a hit. Over the years, the Hulk and Bruce Banner have evolved as characters adding depth to a level that didn’t exist back in the early 90s.

David returns to write one of the characters and runs he’s known for with Maestro #1. He delivers an emotional opening of shock and loss. While it falls into a bit of a trope-ish space and the plot is one we’ve seen before, the result when layered on to the Hulk works and works really well.

It’s hard to really dive into the first issue and why it works without really spoiling it. It’s a rabbit hole of a story that gets more and more intriguing as the layers are lifted and we learn more of what is happening and what happened. Where the issue gets interesting is in the current run of the Hulk and his outlook on life and death. He’s currently a destroyer of worlds and that evolution to the Maestro and where that begins gets complicated with that. But, at its heart, the story is about loss and family and where a person goes when they lose everything. We’re left with the question as to how the Maestro is born but we get to see the first steps.

The issue has some layers in a Matrix-like way. Dale Keown handles the art in the opening with Jason Keith on color. Germán Peralta handles the art from there with Jesus Aburtov on color. The transition from one artist to the other works and works really well. It’s used in a way as the story shifts and the two styles are close enough it’s not jarring going from one to the other. While a lot of the history is explained, there’s still a lot left for readers to pick up on visually. The characters, the background, everything tells a bit of the mystery. It fantastic to see Keown back on the Hulk and the art pops taking us into the opening spiral.

Maestro #1 is a comic where I cringed at first. I didn’t think it was a story we needed to know, the mystery worked. But, after reading the issue, it’s a solid opening that has a lot of potential as to where it takes us and goes. While much of it is familiar it’s a perfect start and base to see the further evolution of the Hulk as a character.

Story: Peter David Art: Germán Peralta, Dale Keown
Color: Jesus Aburtov, Jason Keith Letterer: Ariana Maher
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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Review: Weapon Plus: World War IV #1

Weapon Plus: World War IV is… something. We’re just not sure what.

Story: Benjamin Percy, Ryan Cady
Art: Georges Jeanty, David Baldeón
Ink: Wayne Faucher, Marc Deering
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg, Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Sabino

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
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