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Review: Incursion #1

Limited event series! A new villain approaches!

Incursion #1

Beyond the margins of human reason lies a realm known as the Deadside, where the souls of the dearly departed linger – and where demons wait for us in the dark. For countless ages, Earth’s chosen protectors have guarded the veil between both worlds – but there are other doors to the Deadside, through which gruesome terrors from galaxies untold can trespass… With the planet’s freedom at stake, can the reigning Geomancer and her steadfast Eternal Warrior stand together against an invasion unlike any they’ve ever witnessed?

The book that finally sold me on Valiant‘s comics was the 2016 Book of Death four issue mini series that focused primarily on the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer as the former sought to protect the latter from a mystical threat. The story still holds up today. Needless to say, when I saw the blurb and art for Incursion, I was excited to see the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer facing another threat – although this time slightly more alien in nature.

Andy Diggle, fresh of his run on Shadowman, takes the scripting helm here with Alex Paknadel  and wastes no time in establishing the threat and setting the tone for the following three issues. We don’t know a lot about the antagonist, yet, but what we do know is just enough to tantalize. The preview text (the first paragraph above) hints at an epic confrontation between the Geomancer, a person with the ability to commune with and utilize the powers of the Earth, and the Eternal Warrior, the Earth’s immortal champion, and a newly introduced antagonist who seems to hunger for life force in a way not too dissimilar to Marvel’s Galactus. However, by the time you’ll make the comparison, you’ll notice a very specific, and perhaps more horrifying, difference; where Galactus takes moments to devour a planet, Virago seems to take years (this is only a minor spoiler for the first few pages, which have been previously revealed in the back of other Valiant books or preview pages).

The writing duo have set up the following story wonderfully with a well paced opening that doesn’t fall into the familiar trap of too much exposition and not enough story progression. Instead we have a comic that’s about as complete a comic as any first issue can be; that is to it checks every box it needs to.

Speaking of checking the boxes, the comic is very nice to look at.  Doug Braithwaite‘s art seems to have very minimal inking, and based on the comic’s credits at the beginning, that’s because he penciled the book and Jose Villarrubia and Diego Rodriguez were on colour art duties. There’s no specific mention of an inker, nor is Braithwaite credited with anything other than penciling the book. I mention this because there’s a very soft edge to the art that works really well. With the definition feeling far more… I don’t want to say classical/high art style, but that’s exactly what it feels like.

I’m normally hesitant when it comes to multiple writers on the same project as in my experience aside from Eliot Rahal and Donny Cates on The Paybacks, the results are usually average at best. At best. With Incursion #1, however, Diggle and Paknadel have delivered a comic that’s every bit as good as I hoped it would be, if not more so. For some context, the series I’ve read featuring the Eternal Warrior as a prominent character (Book of Death and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior) are some of my absolute favourite so my expectations are naturally higher for any comic with the character as a focal point. And yet, I loved this issue, and am happy to say that Incursion #1 is a great comic.

Story: Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel
 Pencils: Doug Braithwaite 
Colours: Jose Villarrubia and Diego Rodriguez 
Letters: Marshal Dillon 
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Review: Incursion #1

Limited event series! A new villain approaches!

Incursion #1

Beyond the margins of human reason lies a realm known as the Deadside, where the souls of the dearly departed linger – and where demons wait for us in the dark. For countless ages, Earth’s chosen protectors have guarded the veil between both worlds – but there are other doors to the Deadside, through which gruesome terrors from galaxies untold can trespass… With the planet’s freedom at stake, can the reigning Geomancer and her steadfast Eternal Warrior stand together against an invasion unlike any they’ve ever witnessed?

The book that finally sold me on Valiant‘s comics was the 2016 Book of Death four issue mini series that focused primarily on the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer as the former sought to protect the latter from a mystical threat. The story still holds up today. Needless to say, when I saw the blurb and art for Incursion, I was excited to see the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer facing another threat – although this time slightly more alien in nature.

Andy Diggle, fresh of his run on Shadowman, takes the scripting helm here with Alex Paknadel  and wastes no time in establishing the threat and setting the tone for the following three issues. We don’t know a lot about the antagonist, yet, but what we do know is just enough to tantalize. The preview text (the first paragraph above) hints at an epic confrontation between the Geomancer, a person with the ability to commune with and utilize the powers of the Earth, and the Eternal Warrior, the Earth’s immortal champion, and a newly introduced antagonist who seems to hunger for life force in a way not too dissimilar to Marvel’s Galactus. However, by the time you’ll make the comparison, you’ll notice a very specific, and perhaps more horrifying, difference; where Galactus takes moments to devour a planet, Virago seems to take years (this is only a minor spoiler for the first few pages, which have been previously revealed in the back of other Valiant books or preview pages).

The writing duo have set up the following story wonderfully with a well paced opening that doesn’t fall into the familiar trap of too much exposition and not enough story progression. Instead we have a comic that’s about as complete a comic as any first issue can be; that is to it checks every box it needs to.

Speaking of checking the boxes, the comic is very nice to look at.  Doug Braithwaite‘s art seems to have very minimal inking, and based on the comic’s credits at the beginning, that’s because he penciled the book and Jose Villarrubia and Diego Rodriguez were on colour art duties. There’s no specific mention of an inker, nor is Braithwaite credited with anything other than penciling the book. I mention this because there’s a very soft edge to the art that works really well. With the definition feeling far more… I don’t want to say classical/high art style, but that’s exactly what it feels like.

I’m normally hesitant when it comes to multiple writers on the same project as in my experience aside from Eliot Rahal and Donny Cates on The Paybacks, the results are usually average at best. At best. With Incursion #1, however, Diggle and Paknadel have delivered a comic that’s every bit as good as I hoped it would be, if not more so. For some context, the series I’ve read featuring the Eternal Warrior as a prominent character (Book of Death and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior) are some of my absolute favourite so my expectations are naturally higher for any comic with the character as a focal point. And yet, I loved this issue, and am happy to say that Incursion #1 is a great comic.

Story: Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel
 Pencils: Doug Braithwaite 
Colours: Jose Villarrubia and Diego Rodriguez 
Letters: Marshal Dillon 
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninja-K #14

NINJA-K_COVER_BFINAL ISSUE! England’s top spy has gone rogue!

After going back on his word to find and apprehend his former lover, the super-powered fugitive called Livewire, Ninjak is now on the run from MI6 himself! So, what on earth could force him to travel to the very heart of London?

When your time is coming to an end, what do you do? If you asked Christos Gage what he planned to do with the final issue of Ninja-K I’d like to think he’d smile. I don’t know him, so consequently I didn’t ask him, but if I wa writing a series like this and wanted to wrap it up in style, I’d consider myself lucky if I did it half as well as Gage did with Ninja-K 14 in what is essentially a standalone story that wraps up all of the loose ends that I can think of (or rather all that I care about) in a remarkably neat package.

The plot itself is relatively simple, but the insights we get into Ninjak as he narrates the simple, action packed evening adventure are fascinatingly revelatory when it comes to  Gage’s run on the character. Storywise, you really couldn’t ask for a better cap to a fantastic run. Artistically? It could have been better.

Roberto De  La Torre has a very unique style that I’ve struggled with during his time on this series. Ninja-K #14 is a comic of two halves; there are moments of pure brilliance that are off set by sequences where you really have no bloody clue what’s going on. However. There’s a very good chance that in print (or on a non-watermarked digital copy) that the art will be less muddled – and because I won’t be able to pick up my print copy for almost a week after publication date, I’m willing to give the art the benefit of the doubt based upon the previous issue holding up better in person than on the review copy I read at first.

Ultimately, despite some questions on the art, this is a book that is well worth reading, and fans who have read thus far are going to be very happy with the final product. Whether it’s worth picking this up just for the standalone story, well personally I think it is. This comic give you enough context (yay recap page!) that you are more than capable of enjoying the story within without any fear of feeling lost or confused as the events unfold across the page. We’ve already said “so long” to another Valiant series this month as Quantum And Woody gave us perhaps the best farewell issue I’ve ever read, but Christos Gage and Ninja-K #14 sure gave it a run for its money.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Roberto De La Torre
Colours: Jose Villarrubia Letters: A Larger World Studios
Story: 9.5 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Ninja-K #13

NINJA-K #13

Written by CHRISTOS GAGE
Art by ROBERTO DE LA TORRE
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBIA
Letter by DAVE LANPHEAR
Cover A by KANO
Cover B VIKTOR KALVACHEV
Ninja Programme Variant by MARC LAMING
Pre-Order Edition by JIM MAHFOOD

Betrayal looms!

At long last, Ninjak’s finally got the Dying One in his crosshairs! But as the two deadly warriors prepare to do battle for the fate of the Eternal Warrior’s body, another threat looms on the horizon… MI6 is closing in on their master spy with another covert operation – one that will force Ninjak to forsake the woman he loves!

Pulse-pounding writer Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil) and senses-shattering artist Roberto de la Torre (THE DEATH-DEFYING DOCTOR MIRAGE) tighten the screws as “FALLOUT” reaches an unforgettable turning point!

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale NOVEMBER 14th

Review: Britannia: Lost Eagles Of Rome #4

BRITANNIA3_004_COVER-B_GILLDeep within the heart of Egypt, there is unrest…and Antonius and Achillia have stumbled right into the middle of it! On the hunt for the Roman Empire’s missing banners at the behest of Emperor Nero, history’s first detective and his fearsome gladiatrix companion find themselves on the brink of many revelations: Who is responsible for the plagues threatening their Roman brethren? And who is this new revolutionary calling himself Pharaoh?

And like that, another Britannia miniseries comes to a close. Another four issue toe-dip into the live of Antonius Axa and his friends, colleagues and enemies that ends with a satisfying conclusion that never once feels rushed. It does wrap things up in a way that leaves little a room for for a sequel without any loose ends dangling annoyingly as the fourth issue closes.

In a series that has, across the previous eleven issues, established a precedent for gorgeous artwork, brutal violence and a smattering if dark humour, Peter Milligan‘s script for Britannia: Lost Eagles Of Rome #4 once again delivers on the hallmarks of the series. And, once again, the art is spectacular. Robert Gill (with Juan Castro) has a deft hand when it comes to realising the emotions of the faces of his characters as well as the bloody swordplay they will inevitably engage in seemingly every issue. One could argue that each comic follows a basic formula of “Talky Bit, Fighty Bit, Talky Bit, Revalation!, Talky Bit”, and to some extent that’s true, but it’s an oversimplification of the plot and comic book itself. After all, can’t we break every comic down to that same basic formulae?

As a concluding chapter to the third Britannia series, I was impressed. Milligan kept the story a relatively simple affair that didn’t stray as deeply into the supernatural as it has in the past, instead allowing the characters to shine.

There’s a scene in which Nero’s growing madness is visible, and though he’s still a few year from burning Rome to the ground, you can see the emperors slow descent into the madness that we’ll continue to witness in the background of future installments to the series – something history aficionados and fans of the series will enjoy getting to witness in comic book form.

Lost Eagles Of Rome may be the third series under the Britannia  banner, but it can be read independently of the others  without giving the reader any real trouble when it comes to understanding the plot (though  I’m sure you know the blurb about getting the most out of the story, read it all, etc.). But whether you have read the first two volume or not, there’s plenty to enjoy with a detective story set nearly two thousand years ago spanning several countries wrapped up in a powerseizing conspiracy story that a gladiator and the detectioner tackle together.

I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and hope that Milligan and Valiant have another in the works for us.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Robert Gill with Juan Castro Colours: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8.1 Art: 9 Overall: 8.4 Overall: Buy if you’ve bought the rest

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Britannia: Lost Eagle of Rome #4 (of 4)

BRITANNIA: LOST EAGLES OF ROME #4 (of 4)

Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by ROBERT GILL
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBÍA
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by DAVID MACK
Cover B by ROBERT GILL
Variant Cover by RAFA GARRES

At last, the mystery of the lost eagles revealed!

Deep within the heart of Egypt, there is unrest…and Antonius and Achillia have stumbled right into the middle of it! On the hunt for the Roman Empire’s missing banners at the behest of Emperor Nero, history’s first detective and his fearsome gladiatrix companion find themselves on the brink of many revelations: Who is responsible for the plagues threatening their Roman brethren? And who is this new revolutionary calling himself Pharaoh?

Legendary writer Peter Milligan (Detective Comics) and visceral artist Robert Gill (BOOK OF DEATH) close Antonius Axia’s most incredible case yet as the final chapter of “LOST EAGLES OF ROME” is revealed!

$3.99 | 32 pgs. |  VALIANT PRESTIGE | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 31st

Review: Ninja-K #12

NINJA-K_012_COVER-A_KANOWith the fate of the Eternal Warrior hanging in the balance, Ninjak has tracked The Dying One – a being who reemerges in a new human body whenever they die – to a small town outside of Chernobyl. But Colin King is about to uncover secrets more unsettling than the loss of his friend Gilad. Abandoned in the wilds of the Russian wilderness, the world’s most dangerous super-spy must now survive against an unthinkable onslaught of science experiments from the twisted mind of his immortal foe!

I’m going to start off by saying I have read Ninja-K #12 twice, and both times  I found the art a little tough to penetrate, which I both enjoyed and didn’t all in the same breath. Roberto De La Torre‘s line work is very reminiscent of the 2000AD comics I read as a youngling where some of the strips would be much darker and far more murky than others. It had the effect of lending a very horror-esque atmosphere to the panels, drenching each page with an atmosphere that you would struggle to achieve otherwise. Conversely, it also meant the art was a little harder to read at first glance which encouraged the reader to really take in each page.

Likewise, Ninja-K #12.

The art is also hampered by, or enhanced by depending on your preference, the nearly monotone colouring of Jose Villarrubia. For the most parrt it worked for me, but there were moments when I found it took me a few moments to properly process what was happening during a fight scene. It is a dark and murky issue, which does fit with the theme of the story, but may turn some away from being able to fully enjoy the comic.

Which is a shame, because Christos Gage has written a really interesting issue. With the Dying One inhabiting the Eternal Warrior’s body, and having committed untold atrocities whilst doing so, we finally get to see Ninjak face off against his friend’s body after having cut his way past the henchmen of the Dying One. What I quite enjoyed is that never once is Ninjak focused on stopping the Dying One and saving thse he has manipulated verses saving his friend. It’s an interesting development for a character that has frequently been portrayed as having troubles connecting with people, because this isn’t a mission Ninjak is being paid to undertake we’re seeing the character’s genuine motivations.

Ninjak-K #12 has the potential to be a divisive comic based on the art, and while I enjoyed the visuals of the comic I can understand why you may not. Fortunately, the story more than makes up for any shortcoming you may see in the art. If you’ve been reading the arc so far, then there’s no reason for you to stop.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Roberto De La Torre
Colours: Jose Villarrubia Letters: A Larger World Studios
Story: 8.8 Art: 7.9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Marvel Knights Fantastic Four: 1 2 3 4

Celebrating twenty years of Marvel Knights, Marvel is releasing trades collecting the imprint’s releases. Fantastic Four 1 2 3 4 collects the four issue series as well as Marvel Knights Double Shot #2 by Grant Morrison, Jae Lee, Jose Villarrubia, Wes Abbot, and Manuel Gutierrez.

Marvel’s First Family is divided with each having their powers used against them and old foes behind it all.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores on October 9. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: Ninja-K #12

NINJA-K #12

Written by CHRISTOS GAGE
Art by ROBERTO DE LA TORRE
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBIA
Letters by DAVE LANPHEAR
Cover A by KANO
Cover B KOI TURNBULL
Ninja Programme Variant by ADAM GORHAM
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 10th

Catch me if you can!

With the fate of the Eternal Warrior hanging in the balance, Ninjak has tracked The Dying One – a being who reemerges in a new human body whenever they die – to a small town outside of Chernobyl. But Colin King is about to uncover secrets more unsettling than the loss of his friend Gilad. Abandoned in the wilds of the Russian wilderness, the world’s most dangerous super-spy must now survive against an unthinkable onslaught of science experiments from the twisted mind of his immortal foe!

“FALLOUT” continues as renowned writer Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil) and celebrated artist Roberto de la Torre (THE DEATH-DEFYING DOCTOR MIRAGE) lead a manhunt for the ages!

Review: Britannia: Lost Eagles Of Rome #3

BRITANNIA3_003_COVER-A_MACKAntonius Axia has survived the wilds of Britain and witnessed the horrors of his own homeland…and now, the trail of Emperor Nero’s stolen eagles relics has led him and gladiatrix Achillia to the newly annexed province of Egypt! But, those who once held power in the Fertile Crescent might not be so quick to welcome them…or any other nosy Romans, for that matter!

There’s something strangely refreshing about reading a comic that is effectively a police drama set in the first century AD. Unlike the previous two issues, there’s no hint of the supernatural elements that featured in the previous two minieries (nor the titular island), but I find the lack of these things add an interesting element to the story – Antonius is waiting for, or at least aware of the possibility that these things exist in the world, but hasn’t yet come to the conclusion these things are the only solution.

Peter Milligan is joined by a host of talented artists this issue (full credits below), and once again delivers a comic that maintains the consistent quality established from the outet of this miniseries and avoids any of the pacing issues that can plague four issue story arcs. Contrary to what you’d expect, there is a definite feeling at the end of this issue that the story can be wrapped up in the following 22 odd pages; most four issue miniseries I’ve read lately seem to spend two and a half issues setting up the story only to rush it’s conclusion in the following issue. No, instead we get a well paced comic that balances the proceedural aspects of a detective show with the swordplay you’d hope given the timeframe of the story.

Artistically, the comic is another win as Robert Gill (with Juan Castro and Brian Theis)’s line work is clean, concise and oh-so-easy to read. The choreography during the fight scenes highlights our heroes’ skills without diminishing the threat of those they’re facing, and the scenary has a beautifully ominous feel about it. Surely the sense of forboding within these pages comes from Jose Villarrubia (with Andrew Dalhouse)’s colouring work.

Britannia: Lost Eagles Of Rome #3  has this miniseries on pace to be the best yet of the three in Peter Milligan’s story – and was the first in which I wasn’t waiting for the cameo of another Valiant character. Ultimately, if you’re already reading this series then you’re going to be happy with this issue. If you’re not partaking in Britannia, why not?

Story: Peter Milligan
Art: Robert Gill with Juan Castro
and Brian Theis
Colours: Jose Villarrubia
with Andrew Dalhouse Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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