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Review: Action Comics #1000

Celebrate 1000 issues of Action Comics with an all-star lineup of top talent as they pay tribute to the comic that started it all! From today’s explosive action to a previously unpublished tale illustrated by the legendary Curt Swan to the Man of Tomorrow’s future-this very special, oversized issue presents the best of the best in Superman stories!

Action Comics #1000 feels like an end, a beginning, and a celebration of a landmark moment, one thousand issues and almost 80 years of Superman. The issue is full of some top notch talent with numerous stories of varied style and quality. All of it though is entertaining in some way.

The issue opens up with writer Dan Jurgens‘ finale to his latest run with “From the City That Has Everything.” It’s clear from his latest run (and all his Superman material) that he loves the character and this story which features art by Jurgens, ink by Norm Rapmund, color from Hi-Fi and letters by Rob Leigh, is that recognition as Metropolis honors the Man of Steel. It’s a cheesy story but one that is so in a way that a speech from someone honoring someone else might be. Touching and a fine way for Jurgens to wrap up his run.

The second story is a really cool one that weaves a story out of what is essentially pin-ups. It’s a great way to include such a thing in a comic without it just being images. I hope we see more of this and the art is from a who’s who of creators. It involves Superman going through time and gives a way for artists to take advantage to take us readers through Superman’s history, some of his key moments, and different artistic styles we’ve seen. It’s an utterly brilliant story and presentation and a highlight of the celebration.

Marv Wolfman and Curt Swan team up for “An Enemy Within” which feels like a bit of a retro story in both pacing and art. While not bad it’s an interesting reminder of how much storytelling has changed over the years. I don’t want to give too much away but the story has some nice twists involving a hostage situation.

“The Game” sees Superman and Lex Luthor match wits in a game of chess. Paul Levitz and Neal Adams team up for the story and it’s interesting and one you can probably debate about the deeper meaning. It’d be nice to see this story in a longer form as there’s a lot to work but with just a few pages we don’t get a lot of depth, just fun twists that feel like they’re from the 80s and an homage to an Adams classic moment.

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Olivier Coipel come together for “The Car” which has a criminal recounting how his car was destroyed by a mysterious flying man. The art is fantastic and I think some of my favorite work by Coipel who seems to be channeling Frank Quitely. It’s such a simple story but one that really digs into what makes Superman super.

“The Fifth Season” sees Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque come together as Superman and Lex Luthor come together in Smallvill. It’s an interesting story that again explores the relationship of the two characters. Particularly it focuses on Luthor being oblivious to the good that Superman does that he doesn’t acknowledge or is even aware of. It’s another story that can be debated as far as its deeper meaning and themes.

“Of Tomorrow” is Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, and John Workman having Superman revisit Earth one last time before it’s consumed by the sun. It’s a reminder of the loss of the character and a deeply touching entry.

Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway come together for “Five Minutes” which reminds us that Superman has a few jobs, hero and reporter (as well as husband and father). It’s a fun story that plays on the speed of the character and that how he can some times mess up one job due to the other. A funny ending that gave me a chuckle.

“Actionland!” has Paul Dini and José Luis García-Lopez focus on our favorite imp who has it out for Superman. It’s the odd story of the bunch with the focus on the villain but is a reminder that like Superman, some of them have infinite power that they hold back due to… something.

Writer Brad Meltzer and artist John Cassaday honor Christopher Reeve with “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” that has Superman racing to prevent a gun going off and killing a woman. It’s a fantastic story and I had no idea how it’d resolve. Again though, it’s a reminder of some of the things that makes Superman great and boils the character down to his goodness and how he inspires and is inspired.

“The Truth” is Brian Michael Bendis‘ DC debut with art by Jim Lee and what is supposed to lead into the miniseries The Man of Steel which kicks off Bendis’ run. Out of all of the stories, this is the low point of the issue honestly. Maybe it’s the hype but there’s a new baddie who’s out to kill Kryptonians and while Metropolis is getting destroy two civilians are focused on Superman’s underwear? It’s very Bendis and while funny, especially with Lee on art, it doesn’t quite work and honestly lowered my excitement for what he has coming.

There’s a lot packed in here and something for everyone. No matter the era of your enjoyment there’s a story that fits it and this is really a comic that has an amazing amount of talent. It’s truly a celebration of such an iconic character and for the celebration alone it’s a purchase. At times, comics like this are a let down, but this is the exception with every story entertaining in some way and a few that shine. It’s the rare oversized celebration comic that lives up to the occasion.

Story: Dan Jurgens, Peter J. Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Paul Levitz, Neal Adams, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan, Neal Adams, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, José Luis García-Lopez, John Cassaday, Jim Lee
Ink: Norm Rapmund, Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Williams
Color: Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McGaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh, Tom Napolitano, Dave Sharpe, Nick Napolitano, John Workman, Carlos M. Mangual, Josh Reed, Chris Euopoulos, Cory Petit
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Exiles #1

Fan-favorite X-Man Blink once joined a team destined to save not just the world, but the entire Multiverse. And now, her teleporting talents are needed once again! When a mysterious threat begins eating away at the fabric of the Multiverse, the Unseen – the man once known as Nick Fury who now can only observe Earth from a lofty post on the moon – must recruit a champion to save it. But she can’t do it alone. Who will join Blink’s new team – and can they ever go home again?

I tried reading the Exiles back in the day and it never quite appealed to me. And that’s ok. Not every comic is for everyone. Now, with writer Saladin Ahmed taking on Blink and a new team in a new adventure, I thought I’d check it out again.

Exiles #1 brings the band together as Blink is tasked with saving the Multiverse from something that’s destroying it one Earth at a time. Who is this “Time Eater”? We get a view of it at the end of the first issue and out of everything, that has me the most intrigued. The first issue is pretty straight forward as Blink meets Nick Fury, now the Unseen, who sends her along her mission. She recruits two members before the issue’s end and it’s pretty standard stuff. There’s a lot of explanation as to who the characters are, especially Iron Lad, and it’s all… ok. Ahmed has done better with other series but this one feels a bit slow in the start. The issue suffers from story decompression.

The art by Javier Rodríguez, ink by Álvaro López, and color by Jordie Bellaire is good. The characters look solid and there’s some cool takes on some characters but in a comic where you can literally do anything, it all feels pretty mundane and doesn’t push the envelope at all. Each location is pretty standard but they do vary. There’s the standard apocalypse. There’s the standard future tech type location. The visuals are good but not challenging. They don’t take advantage of what can be done.

There’s nothing bad about this first issue but it also doesn’t push the envelope enough… yet. This is a comic where anything can be done, so to stand out it needs to take advantage. What’s presented is a standard get the team together story with half the team gathered. We’ll see what this is like when the entire team shows up as the character interactions will potentially make it stand out but for a first issue, this is pretty standard stuff.

Story: Saladin Ahmed Art: Javier Rodríguez
Ink: Álvaro López Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: David Marque, Matthew Wilson
Variant Cover: Javier Rodríguez; Mike McKone, Jesús Saiz
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort Editor: Wil Moss Associate Editor: Sarah Brunstad
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Despicable Deadpool #298

F6B941B0-6E78-4459-9135-97409830283DReading Deadpool can feel like a darker, more adult version of Looney Tunes. If you took Wile Coyote, Bugs Bunny, and made them swear more, you’d basically have the Merc with the Mouth. The Despicable Deadpool #298 continues those over the top cartoon moments in a big way, and this title is going to miss Gerry Dugan writing it. The next run of the book is bringing on Skottie Young, who while he may be more known for his art, is no stranger to wacky over the top tales with his own I Hate Fairyland. That being said, I am still sad that Duggan is done in a few issues.

As a series, Deadpool usually doesn’t pretend to portray a kind, caring, or compassionate hero like we usually get with our heroes in Marvel Comics. Sure, he had a moment in this run and when he was on The Uncanny Avengers and aspiring to be better, since he looked up to Steve Rogers so much, but that was short lived. After the events of Secret Empire, and Hydra-Cap tricking Wade to do horrible things, Deadpool has given up the hero idea. Not only has he lost people, and killed people that he regrets killing, Deadpool now also has a bounty on him. This issue brings some great villains like The Juggernaut, Taskmaster, and Bullseye, who are all out to get the $20 million reward on Deadpool’s head.

The pencils by Mike Hawthorne are great throughout the book. He keeps everything moving at a fast and funny pace with non-stop action as Deadpool tries to fight off the villains who are trying to collect the bounty. Juggernaut, Taskmaster, and Bullseye all look fantastic, and so does Wade. The style by Hawthorne walks the line between realism and cartoonish. It balances the ridiculousness of a cartoon style story perfectly with the real world setting, and it works perfectly for a Deadpool book. Jordie Bellaire on colors and Terry Pallot on inks bring the pencils to life. The combination of the three of them really make the artwork standout on the book, and give even more humor to an already funny book. A Deadpool comic has to have funny moments in the artwork, and not just the words alone, and this issue is no different.

If you like Deadpool comics, you will be right at home with this issue. It’s silly comfort food, much like cartoons. Sometimes this book makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me surprised, but it always makes me smile. I don’t need to think of multiverses, or timelines, or anything deep, and while those things are wonderful in other titles, I love that Deadpool is simply unapologetic. You know what you’re getting most of the time in this series, and that’s okay.

Story: Gerry Duggan Pencils: Mike Hawthorne
Inks: Terry Pallot Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Joe Sabino
Cover: Mike Hawthorne & Nathan Fairbairn

Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninja-K #6

NINJA_K_006_COVER-A_ZONJICA once-loyal agent has defected from the ranks of MI6’s most elite espionage unit…and Ninjak has been dispatched across the globe to prevent his secrets from plunging the world into chaos. But in the shadows of Mexico City, Colin King is about to discover something far more deadly… The Ninja Programme’s own former sensei, the Jonin, has assembled a conspiratorial circle of enigmatic enemies – the Dying One, Kostiy the Deathless, Linton March, and The United’s Ultimo – for a purpose so sinister that even Ninjak can’t risk engaging them alone. Enter Livewire, Punk Mambo, Dr. Mirage, and GIN-GR – Ninjak’s brand-new black ops team with a very specific set of skills…and a license to kill the unkillable!

If I were a man given to profanity (and I am) then I’d litter the  opening to this review with a couple of choice words to emphasize my enjoyment. (but, oddly enough, I tend to shy away from profanity in writing). I’m writing this with two days and several comics between the review and the reading of Ninja-K #6, and it feels like I only read this comic about an hour ago.

NINJA-K_006_002

Ninja-K #6 kicks off a new arc for the series, and yes it is a place that allows new readers the chance to effortlessly pull on a ninja mask and sneak down the alleys and over the rooftops to live your own adventure as… yeah, that’s  a terrible analogy. My point is that this is a comic that encourages new readers into the series. And what a series.

After the events of the last arc (helpfully recapped, but not enough to spoil the story should you chose to pick up the trade) this issue sees Ninja-K going after a rogue operative of the Ninja Programme. There’s not a whole lot to the plot itself, but there doesn’t need to be because we get a brilliantly action packed comic that has our favourite ninja in way over his head on a mission that should be relatively simple. Christos Gage does all the little things right in this comic, and never over explains or over plays his hand, instead allowing the talents of artists Juan Jose Ryp and colorist Jordie  Bellaire to shine through.

This series has been consistently brilliant, and is one of the jewels in Valiant’s very bedazzled crown. Miss this and miss out on a great action comic.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Juan Jose Ryp Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Despicable Deadpool #297

Despicable Deadpool #297

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Mike Hawthorne
Ink: Terry Pallot Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Mike Hawthorne, Nathan Fairbarn
Editor: Jordan D. White Assistant Editor: Annalise Bissa
Parental Advisory
In Shops: Mar 28, 2018
SRP: $3.99

THE MARVEL UNIVERSE KILLS DEADPOOL!
• Wade is no stranger to gambling with his life…but this time the odds are longer than the bathroom line at a burrito joint with a broken freezer.
• What do you do when half the world wants you dead?
• Start pissing off the OTHER half!

Blink Returns! A First Look at Exiles #1. Out this April!

This April, join Blink, Khan, Iron Lad, Wolvie, and Valkyrie in a tale of misfit fun and adventure from acclaimed Black Bolt writer Saladin Ahmed, artist Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, and Jordie Bellaire.

The series is a classic “misfit” team book powered by the possibilities afforded by alternate timelines. Ahmed describes it as What If? meets classic X-Men, with a but of Quantum Leap. Expect guest stars as well as easter eggs.

Get ready for a wild ride full of twists and new adventures when Exiles returns to comic shops with a brand-new story on April 11! The first issue features covers by David Marquez, Javier Rodriguez, Mike McKone, and Jesus Saiz.

Review: Hawkeye #16

hawkeye16coverThis era of Hawkeye draws to a close as Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, and Jordie Bellaire deliver a story full of punching, trick arrows, and quips that still resonates emotionally. Sure, the clones and time travel might be a little too much, but the light, delightful tone of the story makes it work. Hawkeye #16 is Kate and Clint’s last stand against Madame Masque and Eden Vale, who can use people’s blood to bring them back through time temporarily, including some of the greatest ranged weapon using villains in the Marvel Universe. In a previous issue, Eden told Kate that she could bring her mother back. And to spice things up even more, there’s also Kate’s mental suggestion ability having father waiting in the wings as a wild card. It’s a slugfest of an ending that shows how Kate has built a great, if a little crazy life for herself and still leaves a couple plot threads for Thompson to play with when a book featuring Kate Bishop comes back in August.

Throughout his run on Hawkeye, Leonardo Romero has shown a real knack for connecting readers to the action starting with Kate and Clint with their backs literally up against the wall surrounded by a horde of enemies. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye paid homage to Rio Grande. This is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid transposed to the key of Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. The noir tones of the earlier issue have been replaced with hand to hand combat and sort of siege warfare. The fight scenes really work when Romero draws a sequence from a rooftop vantage point to create an activity and trick arrow filled double page spread or tightens up and shows a one on one battle in a nine panel grid like Clint fighting his former mentor, Swordsman and kicking his ass.

Romero and Jordie Bellaire also capture these nigh flawless close-ups of characters before a big emotional beat like Eden realizing her quest for vengeance is hurting innocent people, like a young girl who reminds her of dead daughter. Bellaire does something beautiful with her palette later in the book using a faded blue to reunite Eden with her daughter for one last moment juxtaposed with a faded pink flashback of  of Romero’s art is clever, fluid,  never boring, and when he trades out arrows with shields, I think he will be a perfect fit for Captain America.

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Humor and sass are two of Kelly Thompson’s greatest strengths as a writer, and the sass level is doubled when Kate and Clint are both together in Hawkeye #16. Honestly, along with Romero’s art, the sass is the reason why Hawkeye is one of my favorite Marvel books. I’m dying to see what goofy thing will come out of Clint’s mouth or a choice portion of snark quip that Kate will deliver. And the best and most adorable parts is when Kate and Clint make the same joke at the same time because they have the best, bad strategy at the same time involving exploding arrows and heart to hearts. Romero and Bellaire’s storytelling skill at drawing the reader’s eye to the main action on the page as well as some great deadpan reaction shots allow Thompson’s jokes to hit and not have to go into narrator mode until the every end because every private eye story worth its salt has to end with an insightful voiceover.

Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, and Jordie Bellaire pull out all the cool archery move/surprise superpower/generally badass stops in Hawkeye #16, which reads like the third act of a particularly thrilling buddy action movie. However, it’s not entirely caught up in the cool, and Kate finds a little bit of closure with her whole supervillain dad/dead (Or not so dead) mom situation thanks to the help of her new friends in L.A. Kate Bishop, the best Hawkeye, might not have the best life, but she does have a pretty good one.

Story: Kelly Thompson Art: Leonardo Romero Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 8.7 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

 

Review: Infinity Countdown #1

The Saga of the Infinity Stones begins!

As the Infinity Stones reappear around the cosmos, the ultimate race for power is on!! Battles will be fought, blood will be spilled, lives will be lost… all as the greatest cosmic heroes and villains vie for possession of the Power Stone, towering over a remote asteroid, somehow grown to the size of a building. Watch as the path to Infinity opens before your eyes and the END lies near…

The sage of the Infinity Stones is one that has been used in Marvel events quite a few times in the past and each has been epic in their own way. A cosmic battle of epic proportions. So, Infinity Countdown #1 has some pretty big shows to fill and unfortunately the first issue fails in so many ways.

Written by Gerry Duggan, this first issue feels like any issue of Guardians of the Galaxy. I know there were some weirdness with that series ending for this event and one wonders the impact of that on this first issue. While there’s a lot about the Guardians defending an Infinity Stone, a lot is focused on their battling the Gardner. What that has to do with the bigger picture, I have no idea as we’re dumped into the first issue with “the battle is already in progress.” While there’s been some run up issues to this event, this official first issue falls short to feel anything special beyond being the average Guardians issue. The run ups felt more having to do with the topic and as first issues than this one. Weirdly, this feels like a spin-off comic from the main series, and those are usually lower quality.

And that’s emphasized but the latter half of the comic. The art shifts and we’re introduced to a character some thought long dead (really people, you got worked up over something that clearly wasn’t the case!?). This is more of what I expected with the returned Wolverine decided to entrust his Stone with someone else. The art is solid in this part and the storytelling mysterious.

The art by Aaron Kuder, Mike Deodato, Jr. and Frank Martin, with color by Jordie Bellaire, and lettering by Cory Petit is just ok. The Guardians’ section is a style I haven’t enjoyed during the series’ run though the latter segment revolving around Wolverine being much more interesting visually. The two styles are so different it’s a clash that’s distracting in some ways.

What’s frustrating is, we’ve seen what a good event from Marvel can be. Currently the Avengers comics with “No Surrender” are knocking it out of the park with both raising the level of action but changing up the storytelling. This first issue feels like any other for Guardians of the Galaxy. One product is so good the other that falls short seems to have fallen even further short of the goal.

Will I check out more? Of course, because I have such nostalgia for the previous storylines and Marvel’s cosmic side of things. Will I expect a lot of it? Nope, this first issue takes the wind out of the sails of a series which had a lot of build up and hype surrounding it.

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Aaron Kuder, Mike Deodato, Jr., Frank Martin
Cover: Nick Bradshaw, Morry Hollowell

Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Jordan D. White Asistant Editor: Annalise Bissa
Story: 5.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: James Bond M One-Shot

James Bond M One-Shot

writer: Declan Shalvey
artist: PJ Holden & Dearbhla Kelly
cover: Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (A)
FC | 40 pages | $4.99 | Teen +

James Bond’s superior, code-named M, scrambles MI6’s secret agents across the globe. Sometimes, he knowingly sends them to their deaths, for the greater good. But a traumatic event from M’s early days in the field returns to haunt him, forcing M to return to the scene of a crime…HIS crime.

An exhilarating spy standalone from superstar DECLAN SHALVEY (Deadpool Vs. Old Man Logan, All Star Batman) and PJ HOLDEN (2000 AD, Judge Dredd).

Evan Dorkin and Veronica Fish’s Blackwood Spins a Supernatural Murder Mystery

From six-time Eisner Award winner Evan Dorkin and artist Veronica Fish comes Blackwood, a supernatural murder mystery set in a school of sorcery.

Blackwood College is far from your average university. Instead of meeting your general education requirements and rushing Kappa Kappa Whatever, you’ll instead find yourself trained in the occult and dealing with an undead dean’s curse, a mischievous two-headed mummy-chimp, and a plague of mutant insects. At least, that’s what happens when four teens with haunted pasts enroll at Blackwood to enhance their supernatural abilities. On top of the pressures of college life, they discover an ancient evil that forces them to undergo a crash course in the occult for the sake of the world!

The first issue of Blackwood features a beautiful variant cover by Becky Cloonan with subsequent variant covers by Tyler Crook, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire.

Blackwood #1 (of four) goes on sale May 30, 2018, and is available for pre-order at your local comic shop. And look for a new hardcover edition of Dorkin’s insanely popular Dork on July 31, 2018.

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