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Review: Shadowman #4

Shadowman #4

The opening arc of Shadowman has kept my interests pretty high. As a reader, we have a Shadowman book where the protagonist can let loose and dive right into the heart of the evil around him. We’ve seen in this series that the Deadside, which is as it sounds, is trying to use the Earth as its own power battery and there are powerful creatures escaping to the Earth. And rightfully so, we’ve seen Shadowman step up and take out whatever threat has arisen. The first three issues have been very enjoyable. Is Shadowman #4 going to hit like the previous three?

Another thing has escaped the Deadside. This is something that spreads a hallucinogenic experience to those it comes in contact with. Its effect is that of a very violent drug trip and that leads Shadowman and Samedi to track it to a crackhouse on the streets of London. Shadowman falls victim and comes face-to-face with his biggest threat; the Deadside is taking on a physical form and has let itself known to Shadowman. After overcoming the effects, Shadowman dispatches his foe but knows something far bigger and sinister now walks the world. He thinks he understands the relationship between the Deadside and the Earth and how he must deal with it.

To me, there was a lot to unravel with this issue. The villain of this issue was downright creepy and what it caused in its wake was really disturbing stuff. People imagining their babies are spawning into grotesque creatures or people hurting themselves because of what they think they see. I thought the way the fight between it and Shadowman went down was interesting. It wasn’t much of a fight but an invitation to see the true culprit. There’s something really interesting building within the pages of Shadowman and writer Cullen Bunn basically makes it sound like the series is going on hiatus to set up some other machinations within the Valiant universe. That part is a really big letdown, as this book has been great for every issue. Jon Davis-Hunt continues illustrating the creepiest, sickest villains around and with Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, have continued to put out one of the better-looking books around.

I think that one key element has been that we see a lot with this series how normal folks have reacted or been treated by the Deadside beings and it really helps ratchet up the threats that Shadowman faces. And Shadowman, while being a hero, isn’t quite a superhero with this take. I hope when the book returns, it’s with this same creative team. They have done no wrongs on Shadowman and honestly, you can argue it’s the best we’ve gotten with the character in many years. Let’s hope that the publishing break isn’t a big one because whether it’s the entire four issues or just this fourth one, these stories are setting up something and should not be forgotten about.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Superman ’78 Takes Off in August and You Can Get a New Look!

Beginning this fall, decades after Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve’s Superman: The Movie introduced generations of fans to a silver screen version of DC’s Man of Steel, DC returns to this beloved property to tell new stories set within this world with the publication of Superman ’78 by writer Rob Venditti and artist Wilfredo Torres!

In this first look preview, Superman ‘78 #1 begins with all the classic elements of Superman: The Movie on full display. Check it out, and then scroll through for more information about this new comic book series launching in print and digitally on August 24!

In Superman ’78, bystanders are surprised and delighted by Superman’s abilities, and Lois Lane doesn’t (yet!) know that Clark Kent is secretly Superman. The sheer thrill of seeing a man fly, leap, or stop a bullet will be reflected in this environment where Superman has just been introduced! Inspired by Donner’s classic, timeless style of superhero storytelling, in Superman ’78 Venditti and Torres will remind fans that a man can truly fly.

Superman ‘78 #1 by Rob Venditti, Wilfredo Torres, Jordie Bellaire, and Dave Lanphear arrives on August 24 with a cover by Torres, plus variant covers by Evan “Doc” Shaner (open to order) and Torres (1:25).

Coming up in the Superman ’78 run:

After a battle with a rampaging robot, Superman enlists an unlikely ally to crack the code behind who sent it. He needs an intelligent technological genius, and that can only mean one person: Lex Luthor!

In order to save Metropolis, Superman must surrender to Brainiac or watch his city burn to the ground! After being taken aboard Brainiac’s ship, Superman finds a shocking piece of his past that changes his entire future! Meanwhile, Lois Lane gets a cryptic message from a mysterious source claiming to have a  way to save the Man of Steel!

Review: Shadowman #4

Shadowman #4

Shadowman #4 finds Jack Boniface in London, England to track down another villain of the week. The way in which writer Cullen Bunn has been telling standalone stories every issue linked by an over arching theme has been a strong feature of the series so far, and I’m loving how the story is coming together.

Before we get to that though I’ve got to mention, once again, how much I love the recap page as told by Samedi. It adds a brilliant flavour to the book and lets you know to look out for the odd dry line here and there which turn out to be far funnier than one would necessarily expect from a horror book. Well, at least far funnier than I would expect, at any rate. Shadowman has been one of the incredibly rare comics that has me reading this page even though I know what happened before, because I enjoy the way it’s retold.

I also love the relationship between Shadowman and Samedi within the comic, too. It’s easily one of the highlights for me every issue.

The comic, written by Bunn, with art by Jon Davis-Hunt and colors by Jordie Bellaire, is by far and wide the best thing Valiant has published in a while, but it’s also among the very best of comics that are coming out right now. For my money (and despite getting review copies, I’m still buying this) Shadowman tops everything being published right now – the only asterisk is Scout Comic’s By The Horns, which is also simply incredible. It’s hard for me to overstate how much I love this book, and even harder to stay away from too much hyperbolic wording.

The combination of Davis-Hunt and Bellaire balance Bunn’s writing with a beautifully vibrant and often grotesque imagery. The art isn’t of the photo-realistic variety, but I wouldn’t change it for a moment – this is how I see Shadowman man now, and I hope we continue to see this creative team together on the character long after the story is concluded.

Shadowman is simply amazing in every way. There’s not much else to be said.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.7 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

Preview: Shadowman #4

SHADOWMAN #4

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by JON DAVIS-HUNT
Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE
Letters by CLAYTON COWLES
Cover A by JON DAVIS-HUNT
Cover B by MICHAEL WALSH
Cover C (Horror Movie Homage) by JUAN GIMENEZ
Pre-order Cover by DECLAN SHALVEY
On sale JULY 28th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Masters of Horror Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt bring Shadowman’s descent into the darkness of London.

Danger is a drug and it’s deep in the veins of mankind. Shadowman’s on a quest to find the source of his hallucinations and Jack has less control than he once thought. The worst has happened… Deadside has arrived.

SHADOWMAN #4

Preview: Wonder Woman #776

Wonder Woman #776

Written by: Jordie Bellaire, Michael Conrad, Becky Cloonan
Art by: Jill Thompson, Paulina Ganucheau

They may look innocent, but the faeries of Elfhame have it in for Wonder Woman! What did Diana do to incur their wrath? Well, it may have something to do with the Roman god who has turned the Sphere of the Gods upside down in pursuit of power. Someone must pay for the damage they’ve caused, and Ratatosk could be the first if Diana doesn’t find him in time! Back on Themyscira, in the days of Diana’s youth, the missing historical texts are close to being completed, but at what cost? Is knowledge of the Amazons’ past worth all this trouble? Find out as the culprit behind it all reveals themselves and shares a truth that will change Diana’s childhood forever!

Wonder Woman #776

Review: Superman and the Authority #1

Superman and the Authority #1

Imagine a world where the Justice League failed in their mission to bring about modern Camelot on Earth, either the King Arthur one or the John F. Kennedy New Frontier one. Both fell any way. Writer Grant Morrison, artist Mikel Janin, and colorist Jordie Bellaire explore this avenue plus an ailing Superman in the first issue of their new miniseries Superman and the Authority. This comic is the perfect distillation of Otto Binder and that other British comic book writer with a beard who was a sex pest. Opening with an earnest chat between Superman and JFK and concluding with a gin-swilling British anti-hero vomiting on (a representation of) the world, Superman and the Authority brings together Silver Age and the Dark Age, but the decent Vertigo/Wildstorm stuff, not Lobdell and Nicieza on the X-Books.

Grant Morrison hits this sweet spot by focusing Superman and the Authority #1 by focusing on two characters, Superman and Manchester Black setting up the thesis for the series before the inevitable recruiting drive in next month issue’s. They bring in plenty of bells of whistles with their script, including edgy dialogue and vomit noises for Black and Silver Age deep cuts for Superman. (Kryptonian Thought-Beasts are so cool, which might be the only thing that Geoff Johns and I ever agree on.) However, what truly brings these two disparate worlds and characters together is the visuals of Janin and Bellaire. Mikel Janin’s clean line style with slight Ben-Day dot expertly conveys the nostalgia of the 1960s (Which happens to be the decade Morrison grew up in.), and his film strip layout of astronauts and Superman leaping on the moon along with JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy waving to passerbys captures an era of youth and optimism.

But this all broken up by distorted line-work from Janin and reds and blacks from Bellaire than come in any time characters are stressed and in trouble throughout Superman and the Authority from Manchester Black taking gunfire in a flurry of grid panels to Superman basically taking a life and death gambit with Phantom Zone prisoners to persuade Black to join his team. For this extended sequence, Janin works from odd angles and emphasizes the agony of a slowly depowering Superman, who can’t fly any more aka the opposite of the smiling Silver Age hero, who could breathe in space and turn a lump of coal into diamond with his bare hands. Again, there are lots of reds and repetition of the word “Die” like it’s a Misfits song or something until Manchester Black reluctantly decides to be a hero, and Jordie Bellaire pours on a bit of telekinetic blue because telepathy doesn’t work on drones. In the spirit of Hitman #34, Superman’s true power isn’t heat vision, X-Ray vision, or flight, but the ability to provide hope and inspire even the most gin-sodden anti-hero.

Speaking of hope, some fans and critics were definitely a little bit taken aback by Superman leading The Authority, a team that in past incarnations had no problem killing and doing other various terrible things in the spirit of proactive superheroing. However, Grant Morrison does a good job of making a case for a collaboration between Superman and them without shying away from action, a bit of mystery (Aka shadowy figures talking about kryptonite), and some big ideas. Even though Superman and the Authority opens with JFK and Superman smiling and laying the foundation for both the Justice League and the moon landing, the rest of the book focuses on the Man of Steel’s vulnerability. For example, instead of flying to Manchester Black’s rescue from helicopter sniper gunfire tearing across the pages, he leaps over a building in a single bound (A la New 52/Golden Age Superman), and Mikel Janin abandons his usual clean style for hazy, black lines. Morrison’s dialogue also alludes to this weakness like lines about Superman hovering over the ground for short periods as a kind of “exercise”.

It’s a far cry from a smiling figure flying into the sun, and it’s why Superman has recruited anti-heroes like Manchester to replace his lost powers and strike from the shadows and the margins because trying to change the world from out in the open leads to the assassination of JFK or MLK or RFK, who are all alluded to in Superman and the Authority #1 along with traditional Superman comic book opponents Intergang, Darkseid, and Doomsday. These baddies’ names evoke corruption, pure evil, and the ultimate defeat as Doomsday was solely created to kill Superman. (And boost sales!) They could definitely kick the current Superman’s ass as evidenced by his struggles with some drones from the Phantom Zone, which is where the new incarnation of the Authority comes in. Superman shows Black a literal Round Table when making his sales pitch, but Manchester Black’s vomiting and the overt mention of anti-heroes in Grant Morrison’s dialogue show that this team is going to be the polar opposite of their JLA.

Superman and the Authority #1 finds a balance of hope and cynicism through the characters of real time aged Superman and Manchester Black. Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire give Black a true arc in this issue as evidenced by inset panels showing him walk away from the Fortress of Solitude and eventually slowly turning back to help him. Although Morrison makes cracks at traditional superheroes like the X-Men and JLA, their writing comes across as healthy skepticism more so than grimdark for the sake of grimdark. This is what Superman and the Authority the natural next step in their take on superhero team books as it captures the spirit of an age where racism, inequality, and senseless suffering continue with an added bonus of a climate crisis despite the social reforms of the 1960s.

To sum it all up, Superman and the Authority #1 is about the failure of the supposed Age of Aquarius as Morrison, Janin, and Bellaire turn from smiling, well-hewn Superman to a half-naked Manchester Black surrounded by detritus and targeted by the mooks of American imperialism. But there’s always hope even the more commercially successful superhero team failed in their mission to make the world a better place.

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Mikel Janin
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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What if Batman was Real? Find out in Batman: The Imposter

This October, Batman fans get a new and different look at Gotham’s guardian as he begins his war on crime in Batman: The Imposter, a three-issue Prestige format series from DC. The series will debut in print and on participating digital platforms (English-language version) on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. In addition, the series will be collected in a hardcover format, available on February 22, 2022.

Localized print versions of the series will also launch day and date in the following territories: Spain, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, France, Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and Argentina.

Director and screenwriter Mattson Tomlin has teamed up with Eisner-winning suspense and horror artist Andrea Sorrentino and colorist Jordie Bellaire to create a gritty, hard-boiled version of Gotham City, where every punch leaves a broken bone and every action has consequences far, far beyond Batman’s imagination!

Bruce Wayne’s mission as the Batman has only been under way for a year or so, but he can tell he’s making a difference. Unfortunately, he’s made some powerful enemies. All the traditional power brokers of Gotham resent the disruption the Batman has brought to town…and it seems one of them has a plan to neutralize him. There’s a second Batman haunting Gotham’s rooftops and alleys—and this one has no qualms about murdering criminals, live and on tape.

With the entire might of the Gotham City Police Department and Gotham’s rich and powerful coming down on his head, Batman must find this imposter and somehow clear his name…but how can you prove your innocence from behind a mask?

Batman: The Imposter #1 a variant cover by Lee Bermejo, and 1:25 “ratio” variant by Kaare Andrews.

Review: The Nice House on the Lake #2

Impressively, The Nice House on the Lake #2 is as good as the debut with an amazing focus on the characters and intensity of the situation.

Story: James Tynion IV
Art: Álvaro Martínez Bueno
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Andworld Design

Get your copy 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.

comiXology
Amazon
Kindle
Zeus Comics
TFAW


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Review: The Nice House on the Lake #2

The Nice House on the Lake #2
The Nice House on the Lake #2

The first issue of James Tynion and Álvaro Martínez Bueno’s The Nice House on the Lake set up an end of the world scenario with a huge cast and a mysterious host at the center of it, all of them weathering the apocalypse inside a well-stocked house. The people who were spared the final moments of human existence are all in shock come issue #2 of the series, and they’re in a mad scramble for answers.

Us readers can only be certain of one thing once the second part of the story has reached its final page: Tynion and Martínez Bueno are still on their way to give us one of the best new comic series of the year.

The Nice House on the Lake #2 puts its cast of characters through the wringer as they try to make some sense of how the world just decided to self-combust and melt almost everyone not on the house with them. Emotions run high and there’s a sense of disconnection among the guests. Reality as they knew it just stopped and anything that comes after the event is now going to be post-apocalyptic. Not an easy realization to come to.

Tynion and Martínez Bueno employ a few different techniques to the storytelling here to shake things up while also building the world their characters inhabit. For instance, the comic contains several pages that unravel as an official log of things said during certain moments immediately after the world seemingly ended. This presents the possibility some kind of secret group or organization is behind it all, perhaps torturing or experimenting with the people at the house for reasons unknown.

This is one of the series’ strong suits, guiding readers to make dark assumptions on what’s actually happening. In a sense, the horror on display in the comic is being driven by elements more commonly found in the Mystery genre. There’s a bit of a “whodunnit” at play here and it helps make the comic an even richer and more complex mystery box in the process.

Martínez Bueno’s art continues to impress in issue #2, presenting everything and everyone in a kind of haze that just deepens the horror being experienced by everyone in the house. It helps that Martínez Bueno also proves to have complete control over the characters’ body language. It’s theatrical, to a point, in terms of making the reader take everything into account to get a better sense of the story.

The Nice House on the Lake #2
The Nice House on the Lake #2

The Nice House on the Lake is an intoxicating read, period. It’s hard to stop pouring over each panel, each line of dialogue trying to figure everything out. Issue #2 gives readers enough story to keep them hooked while also teasing so much more horror to come. The monthly wait is starting to get difficult, and I can only see it getting harder to hold out till the next chapter.

Story: James Tynion, Art: Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Colors: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: DC Black Label
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy, read, read it again, come up with multiple theories, repeat


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Review: Shadowman #3

Shadowman #3

Masters of terror Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt continue their terrifying tour of Shadowman’s world by bringing the supernatural defender to Barcelona where he’ll encounter a sinister undertaker in Shadowman #3.

I often wonder when I read a comic whether the small things that I love are the same things that others enjoy. Case in point, once again, is the recap page. I’m always fond of recap pages in principle because my memory isn’t what it was when I was a kid and didn’t have to remember hundreds of things for work, but when the recap is provided in character by Baron Samedi it really gets me in the right frame of mind for what’s about to come.

I know this is likely going to come as somewhat of a surprise, but Shadowman #3 has some genuinely funny moments within its pages – and almost all of the center around Samedi himself. This isn’t a comedy story, but rather Cullen Bunn injecting small moments of humor into a book you’d not immediately associate humor with. It’s these fun moments that elevate what is otherwise a story steeped in the horror genre – typically not something I would usually be drawn to, but then this is a comic that’s got a lot to offer those who aren’t typically horror fans.

The comic, written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Jon Davis-Hunt and colours by Jordie Bellair, has Shadowman chasing down information from a wonderfully bizarre loa that deals in secrets, before something ends up going slightly wrong. Shadowman #3 continues Bunn’s trend with the series of having an almost self contained story. Though this issue builds on the previous a little more than the second did with the first, you can still enjoy the comic if you haven’t read the other two (though why you wouldn’t read such fine examples of the medium I’m not sure). Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene that had me grinning from ear to ear which is then followed by a panel that is understated and yet completely awesome (pages 19-21 in the comic/after the ad for coffee). That sequence alone was worth my price of admission (granted I read a review copy, but will be buying the floppy when I get to my LCS).

I can’t say enough good things about Davis-Hunt’s artwork. It’s not a super realistic style, but this has become my Shadowman; Davis-Hunt’s design suits the character to a tee, and the way he brings Jack Boniface to life, the expressions on his face and the physicality in the way he moves across the page genuinely brings a smile to my face. The creative team are probably one of the finest that Valiant have pulled together in a long time, and it shows in their work.

As a series, Shadowman is easily one of the best things Valiant has put out in a long time, and for my money is the best thing on the racks right now. This series gets better every issue.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.7 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

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