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Preview: The Power of the Dark Crystal #4 (of 12)

The Power of the Dark Crystal #4 (of 12)

Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artists: Kelly and Nichole Matthews
Cover Artists:
Main Cover: Kelly and Nichole Matthews
Subscription Cover: Sana Takeda
Variant Cover: Jae Lee and June Chung
Price: $3.99

While Jen and Kira deal with the chaos the Skeksis have wrought on the castle, Thurma and Kensho are out in the wilds of Thra on the run from the Crystal Guard, unaware that something far more treacherous followed their trail: the Chamberlain.

Preview: The Power of the Dark Crystal #3 (of 12)

The Power of the Dark Crystal #3 (of 12)

Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artists: Kelly and Nichole Matthews
Cover Artists:
Main Cover A: Kelly and Nichole Matthews
Subscription Cover B: Sana Takeda
Variant Cover C: Jae Lee and June Chung
Variant Cover D: Jae Lee and June Chung
Price: $3.99

While Jen and Kira deal with the chaos the Skeksis have wrought on the castle, Thurma and Kensho are out in the wilds of Thra on the run from the Crystal Guard, unaware that something far more treacherous followed their trail: the Chamberlain.

Preview: The Power of the Dark Crystal #1 (of 12)

The Power of the Dark Crystal #1 (of 12)

Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artists: Kelly & Nichole Matthews
Cover Artists:
Main Cover: Jae Lee and June Chung
Subscription Cover: Sana Takeda
Incentive Cover: David Petersen
Foil Incentive Cover: Jae Lee and June Chung
Price: $3.99

In celebration of the 35th anniversary of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, return to the world of Thra in an official sequel to the beloved fantasy film.Discover an all-new race of creatures called Firelings that live in a realm near the planet’s core, based on official character designs by Brian Froud.

Discover an all-new race of creatures called Firelings that live in a realm near the planet’s core, based on official character designs by Brian Froud.

Years have passed since the events of the original film, and though Jen and Kira have ruled Thra as King and Queen, bringing Gelfling back to the land, they have become distracted by power and can no longer feel or see the needs of the world the way they once did.Thurma is a young

Thurma is a young Fireling tasked with stealing a shard of the Dark Crystal to restore power to her realm. Along the way she’ll befriend the young Gelfling Kensho, accidentally bring back the Skeksis and Mystics, and embark on one incredible adventure.


Review: Batman #13

bm_cv13_ds“I want to break your damn back.”

“I Am Suicide” comes to a close in Batman #13, and it has been an interesting arc. It did a good job of keeping me guessing throughout the story, and it has a great bait and switch with the last issue and this one. I really liked what they did with Catwoman and Batman’s relationship in this arc, and it comes full circle in this issue. The small scene where they kiss after everything was done was great. They have always had a really deep relationship, and though they are on opposite sides of the law, they are more alike than they are different. Tom King recognized that, and really explored it throughout this storyline. I loved the personal letters between The Bat and The Cat in previous issues, and it was really cool to see both of their flaws and how much they opened up to each other. It looks like the next arc will go deeper into their relationship, and I am really excited to see where King takes us, as he has shown, especially in this arc on the meaning of “I Am Suicide”, that he will make provocative choices with the characters.

The way this issue ties things together is well done. We get to see Bronze Tiger, Punch and Jewlee, The Ventriloquist, and especially Catwoman play major roles in what we realize is now Batman’s master plan to take Bane down. As Bane is pummeling bats, he is telling him how after he got off the venom, he realized he was a weak man, much like him. He tells Batman he will be the monster he seeks, because like the “I Am Suicide” title plays with, according to Bane, Batman is seeking death in another’s arms. He goes as far as to say they are both too weak to put the gun to their own head and end their lives. It is an interesting idea, and a very controversial one, but I like how King has Bane say this, and not Batman himself. Bruce however, did say that he tried to take his own life after his parents died in the last issue, and that he died himself that day, but I took that as more of Bruce Wayne spiritually died when Batman was born. Either way it is an interesting premise to show us that Batman is human, and has flaws.

batman-13_4Mikel Janín is a fantastic artist, and I have loved his work on this series. He does a great job in this issue of balancing the panels between the set up and our characters pulling everything off. The way Janín draws The Ventriloquist is creepy and perfect. I feel like he is looking at me with his little beady eyes behind those glasses. He also does an excellent job with facial expressions. The look on Psycho Pirate’s face as he attempts to control The Ventriloquist is a fantastic moment. I shouldn’t mention the art without mentioning how well he draws Batman and Catwoman, and I have said that before, but I will say it again. I love his version of Batman. It feels new, but still very classic. He is brooding, angry, and hard to read like the Batman we know, but he is also vulnerable, and at times can show emotion. Catwoman is very similar, and has an old school charm to her that I really like. I feel like I am seeing a little Michelle Pfeiffer and a little Julie Newmar in her, but that may just be what I see. The colors are also well done, as June Chung has been very consistent throughout.

I do see that this run so far has been a little polarizing, but I really have enjoyed it so far. Tom King has done a great job on giving us something different for Batman, and that is what I want. Sure, I want familiar things and tone to this book, but I also want a new take on the character, and that is exactly what we are getting. A lot of this issue, and this story overall had some over the top moments, but that is what makes it fun for me. We see him take on hundreds of guards and survive, we see him seemingly have his back broken and snap it back into place, and we see Punch and Jewlee blow bubbles into a raft they all escape on. I think that is what Tom King is doing best on this series, marrying the ridiculousness of a being a superhero, with the flaws of being a human being.

Story: Tom King Art: Mikel Janín Color: June Chung
Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batman #12

bm_cv12_dsWhen I first finished Batman #12, I was left wanting more. After the twist at the end of the last issue involving Catwoman, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen with the Bat, the Cat, and Bane. Instead, we are given an issue where Batman fights his way through hundreds of men again to get to Bane and Psyco Pirate, who is now joined by Catwoman. I did enjoy the issue when I finished it, but I enjoyed it so much more after I had thought about it. That’s what Tom King does. He is giving us a layered version of Batman, and I am really enjoying that.

We get another letter told throughout the comic, but instead of it being from Catwoman, this time it is from Batman. I really enjoyed the raw look at the man behind the mask. With how vulnerable he was in opening up to Selina, you would think this is more from Bruce than Batman. However, it seems that he is saying he is Batman, because the ten-year-old boy, Bruce died the day he promised to avenge his parents. We are given the line I am suicide, which is not just the name of this arc where Batman forms his own Suicide Squad, but also pointing to the fact that he died that day, and now lives as the face of vengeance. This was great writing, and it is not the first time I and many other people have said this about Tom King this year.

bm_12_2-3The one thing we’ve seen over and over again from Batman, is his parents, and how he deals with it. It’s at the core of who he is. But Tom King finds an angle I haven’t seen before. Bruce reflects on his parent’s laughter, and how he wishes he could laugh. It is such a simple thing people take for granted and it was very interesting to see him hoping for the day where he can find joy in something, and simply laugh. Bruce and Selina have always had a very interesting relationship, and he sums up why in this issue. They are the same thing. They are both dead. When they are together, and they kiss, they see each other’s deaths. Now, of course, they are not truly dead, but this shows that it isn’t Bruce being Batman, it is Batman being Bruce. He and Selina open up for only each other. That is very powerful coming from he hero of few words, and with her seemingly betraying him, you really feel for Bruce (or Batman) by the end. As much as he says he’s dead to the world, it is obvious Selina matters to him, because she makes him feel.

The art by Mikel Janín is nearly flawless. I am glad he is on this title, and I hope he stays around for awhile. Like Tom King, he is a super talent. Hugo Petris and June Chung do a nice job on inks and colors as well. Most of the comic is filled with large page filling panels with Batman either fighting a ton of henchmen or making his way through and outside of the prison. It is strangely beautiful and is a nice contrast to the dark nature of Batman’s letter, the betrayal he is feeling, and the prison itself.

While I wanted a conclusion and a final showdown between the Bat, the Cat, and Bane, this was still a great issue. It may feel like a filler or unnecessary issue to some, but either way, we learn more about Batman here, and Tom King is doing a great job at showing the humanity, the flaws, and the heart of the Caped Crusader. He is doing this to help Gotham Girl. That is what being dead is to Batman, to give his life for the city and people he has sworn to protect.

Story: Tom King Art: Mikel Janín Ink: Mikel Janín/Hugo Petris Color: June Chung
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

The Dark Crystal Gets a Comic Book Sequel

Archaia and The Jim Henson Company have announced The Power of the Dark Crystal, a new comic book series that serves as a sequel to the beloved 1982 film, The Dark Crystal.

Based on the screenplay by David Odell, Annette Odell, and Craig Pearce that was written for a planned feature film, the 12-issue monthly limited series is adapted by Eisner Award-nominated writer Simon Spurrier and illustrated by rising artists Kelly and Nichole Matthews. The first issue of The Power of the Dark Crystal debuts on February 15, 2017.

Countless decades have passed since the events of the original film. Though Jen and Kira have ruled Thra from the Crystal Castle peacefully as King and Queen, bringing Gelfling back to the land, they have become distracted by power and can no longer feel or see the needs of the world and its people the way they once did. Enter Thurma, a young Fireling girl tasked with obtaining a shard of the Dark Crystal—by any means necessary—to restore power to her realm. This sets in motion an incredible adventure in which Thurma will attempt to steal a crystal shard, befriend the young Gelfling Kensho, and accidentally bring back the Skeksis and Mystics.

The story of The Power of the Dark Crystal is that of reconciling the inner and the outer worlds—perhaps even the unconscious and the conscious.

The main cover to issue #1 is illustrated by Eisner Award-winning artist Jae Lee and June Chung. Variant covers are illustrated by Sana Takeda and David Petersen.


Review: Batman #10

bm_cv10_dsTom King likes his Batman vulnerable. That is the biggest takeaway I have noticed so far from this series, and I love it. From the first issue where he is trying to stop a plane that is going to crash into Gotham City and face his own demise, to realizing that having other heroes like Gotham and Gotham Girl around to help isn’t such a bad idea. Even the lengths of physical pain he is willing to endure to save someone show that the caped crusader is the true definition of a hero. Batman has no super power. His super power is his heart. Sure the dark knight may act cold at times, but his purpose now as an older and wiser hero is to keep not only the citizens of his city safe but the members of the bat family as well. That family now includes Gotham Girl.

Bruce has always wanted to make things right. That is part of the brilliance of his character. His whole reasoning behind being a hero in the first place is to not only avenge his parent’s death, but to make them proud of him. His honor and pride are his greatest strengths and simultaneously his greatest weaknesses. Is Batman trying to help Gotham Girl for her, or because he has to make things right? It’s something I’ve always loved about the character, because as much as he has it together, he is also somewhat of a mess. Tom King gets that, and shows it in this issue.

bm_10_1In Batman #10 we return to Santa Prisca prison, the birthplace of Bane. It was fun seeing the Batplane in a dogfight with Bane’s soldiers, and then having him take on the army in hand to hand combat once he was shot down. Once he was finally beaten to the point of crawling, Batman enters the prison to be greeted by the man who broke the bat, Bane. We don’t get the venom induced version who broke Batman’s back in Knightfall many years ago, but we do still get a very menacing version who pulls no punches.

There is a very cool storytelling technique used throughout the book where we are reading narration in what appears to be passages from a letter. I won’t spoil anything, but by the end it made me smile when I realized what was going on. It was clever, and I enjoyed being surprised by the end of the book. I cannot wait to see where “I Am Suicide” goes and why Batman picked the members he did for his team. We know he does everything for a reason, and seems one step ahead of his enemy most of the time. So it is interesting that we get an issue where he goes in fists swinging first. Batman is up to something here, and I cannot wait to see what it is.

Mikel Janin does a great job on art, and he covers a lot of distance. Whether it’s the Batplane in a dogfight ripping over the water and through the clouds, or the inside of the prison where Bane dwells in the shadows. The art is fantastic. June Chung on colors does a nice job of switching between the dull shades of the prison and the bright scenes outside.

There are some things that happen in this book, especially one, where I had to question the logic. That isn’t a bad thing because it happened in a comic book. A Batman comic book to be exact, where I find the book to be at its best when it is just a little over the top in its action and violence, and this issue certainly exceeds at both. Once I read Vision, I knew that Tom King had earned the right to make me be patient and wait to see where a story goes. I trust him on this book, and I am just along for the ride.

Story: Tom King Art: Mikel Janin Color: June Chung
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batman: Rebirth #1

b002_-_batman_rebirth_bmreb_cv1Batman Rebirth #1 is a standalone adventure as Batman and his new protegé (But not a Robin.) Duke Thomas take on a slightly creepier version of the Calendar Man, who is most famous for helping Batman catch a serial killer in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s seminal Batman: The Long Halloween. The use of this villain and a plot featuring the seasons in Gotham changing in a day thanks to Calendar Man’s biological weapon is a comment on the cyclical nature of superhero comics as well as the passing of the torch from writer Scott Snyder to Tom King, who collaborated on the issue. Snyder and King establish the new dynamic between Batman and his supporting cast as well as making him and Bruce Wayne sharp and confident as he saves Gotham and becomes an active part of Wayne Enterprises as well.

“Sexy” is another adjective that could be used to describe Bruce Wayne as artist Mikel Janin makes him radiate handsomeness while using big panels and spreads for action and give the Batcave and Gotham a dark, cluttered atmosphere. It isn’t even the first issue, and his visual imprint is already on the series while colorist June Chung gives his pencils a painter-like feel without making his art feel static. And she adds important pops of color like yellow on Duke’s new superhero costume, which isn’t a Robin one as Duke is more of a junior partner in Batman’s crime fighting enterprise than a sidekick to be lectured and berated.

The plot of Batman: Rebirth #1 is a pretty straightforward as Batman and his allies take down a villain with a gimmick with few surprises except for a haunting, ambiguous final page. But what this comic lacks in thrills, it makes up for it in setting a thematic groundwork for King’s upcoming run. This version of Batman is full of swagger and life-like he was at the beginning of Grant Morrison’s run (But without the James Bond references.) or in Neal Adams’ run in the 1970s where he was challenging Ra’s al Ghul to single combat and solving every case with intelligence and tenacity. (Janin brought back the chest hair too.)

BatmanTraditionOne page (or image) really encapsulates Snyder, King, Janin, and Chung’s Batman, and it features Bruce Wayne, not Batman as he dangles from a helipad doing one-handed pull ups when it’s 100+ degrees outside while a sharply dressed Lucius Fox helps him get his company in order. Batman is a thrill seeker and in his physical prime, and his defeat of Calendar Man includes holding his breath underwater more than is humanly possible as Duke protests. But he is also responsible for Gotham and swallowed up in its fate, and this is why he is so tiny in comparison to the skyscraper, buildings, and body of water around him.

The line of dialogue “I’ve never been much for tradition” has just a tinge of irony as Bruce and Lucius have just had a self-aware conversation about the revolving door of Bruce’s interest in his company throughout 76+ years of Batman comics, and Snyder and King have restored Alfred and Jim Gordon to their traditional roles as Batman’s allies and confidants. But this is where Duke Thomas comes into play as in We Are Robin, he has proven that Robins can exist without a Batman to watch over them and help the ordinary people of Gotham, who might be neglected as Batman focuses on the colorful costumed freaks. And Batman has broken with tradition by not making him a Robin, but by giving him a costume that is an expert palette swap of his own courtesy of June Chung. Duke isn’t Batman’s equals and has a lot to learn, but Batman is training him to be a hero in his own right and not be the latest iteration of a legacy. Their relationship and dynamic is the strongest part of Batman: Rebirth #1 as Snyder passes a character that he created, and Lee Bermejo forged and strengthened in We Are Robin to Tom King for the next step in Duke Thomas’ heroic journey.

Batman Rebirth #1 establishes both a new visual identity and character dynamic in the Batman title that is a little old (Alfred/Gordon) and a little new (Duke Thomas, more formidable Calendar Man) taking a cue from DC Rebirth, but while telling its own story and focusing on its own relationships. Mikel Janin also continues to be one of DC’s finest storytellers as he melds the epic photorealism of Jae Lee’s recent work with quick cut panels to avoid any stiffness with a side of beefcake that works in favor of Snyder and King’s open, optimistic characterization of Batman. The final page twist (if it is twist) could be delineated a little better, but demonstrates Janin and Chung’s skill to work with the dark chaos of Batman stories as well as his more charming side.

Story: Scott Snyder and Tom King Art: Mikel Janin Colors: June Chung
Story: 7.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Wolf Moon #1

wolfmoon - covVertigo and the supernatural go almost hand in hand, but after years of werewolves being of interest in popular culture, it offers more of a challenge for stories featuring the creatures of the night to be relevant and compelling.  This series from Vertigo attempts another look at the creatures, this time from a slightly different outlook.  Much of the somewhat canonical background of the characters is gone, replaced by something a little bit different.  The story focuses on Dillon, a man with a reason to hunt the werewolves, as he ventures to Kentucky after putting together the telling evidence from a recent attack.  As he faces the beast, he comes to an interesting conclusion, one which he had not really considered before, and one which forces him towards an unconventional solution.

Throughout this issue there are different elements at play.  Dillon has to deal with Cayce, who seems at first to be a romantic interest, but then might be something else.  When confronting the beast Dillon has some realizations about himself, but they are left somewhat ambiguous as well.  This ambiguity is meant to build tension, but it is almost too ambiguous as not enough is yet known to really draw in the reader.

Those interested in werewolves and the supernatural genre will probably find enough to draw them in here, but for outsiders the genre, there is far less here of much value.  Story is often shunted for the benefit of gore, and the characters are not developed enough in this initial issue to provide enough to grasp on to.  It is a shame too, because the cover by June Chung is one of the most visually captivating covers that I have seen in a long time, and while it draws in the reader, there is nothing inside this issue which matches the eloquence of the exterior.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Jeremy Haun  
Story: 7.0  Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Pass

Preview: Django/Zorro #1

Django / Zorro #1

Quentin Tarantino, Matt Wagner (w)
Esteve Polls (a)
Jae Lee, June Chung, Francesco Francavilla, Matt Wagner, Brennan Wagner (c)
Fans & retailers, order the cover of your choice!
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen+
Francesco Francavilla “Virgin Art” retailer incentive cover
Matt Wagner Black & White Art retailer incentive cover
Jae Lee Black & White Art retailer incentive cover

Featuring a story by Oscar Award-Winning Writer/Director, and Django creator Quentin Tarantino, and award-winning writer/artist/creator Matt Wagner! The official sequel to Django Unchained in the first-ever comic book sequel ever done of a Tarantino film!  Set several years after the events of Django Unchained, Django/Zorro #1 finds Django again pursuing the evil that men do in his role as a bounty hunter. Since there’s a warrant on his head back east, he’s mainly been plying his trade in the western states. After safely settling his wife, Broomhilda, near Chicago, he’s again taken to the road, sending her funds whenever he completes a job. It’s by sheer chance that he encounters the aged and sophisticated Diego de la Vega – the famed Zorro – and soon finds himself fascinated by this unusual character, the first wealthy white man he’s ever met who seems totally unconcerned with the  color of Django’s skin… and who can hold his own in a fight. He hires on as Diego’s “bodyguard” for one adventure and is soon drawn into a fight to free the local indigenous people from a brutal servitude, discovering that slavery isn’t exclusive to black folks. In the course of this adventure, he learns much from the older man (much like King Schultz) and, on several occasions, even dons the mask and the whip… of The Fox!


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