Tag Archives: justin birch

Comics Deserve Better Episode 12: Beyond the Demon, The Sea by Ben Goldsmith, Davy Broyles, and Justin Birch/Burning Tree by Nuna

On this week’s Comics Deserve Better, Brian, Darci, and Logan discuss a couple of horror one-shots from Source Point Press. The comics are the maritime scarefest Beyond the Demon, The Sea by Ben Goldsmith, Davy Broyles, and Justin Birch and the almost-silent Gothic horror book Burning Tree by Nuna. They also chat about indie comics news like Heavy Metal‘s Magma Comix imprint, Abbott 1973, TKO‘s third wave of graphic novel, and Dark Horse Comics‘ Halloween sale. Other comics mentioned on the show include Culdesac, Blood on the Tracks, Die, Bitter Root, Death of the Horror Anthology, and Maids. (Episode art by Nuna)

Review: Villainous #1

Villainous #1

Villainous #1 is an interesting comic. With the popularity of shows like The Boys, the timing of a story about the good/bad nature of heroes and the corruption of groups can be good or bad. It’ll most likely get compared by many. Villainous #1 is a solid debut with a direction that’s not quite as straightforward as expected.

Written by Stonie Williams, Villainous #1 follows Matilda “Rep-Tilly” Anderson, a wannabe superhero who joins the Heroes of the Coalition. Rep-Tilly is a new recruit who’s being paired with a superhero to learn the ropes and train to become one herself. Anderson is paired with Showdown an arrogant full of himself hero who’s the powerhouse of the team.

To go from there as to what really works in the comic would spoil it. We know there’s more to the heroes and villains of the story and that Rep-Tilly will be forced to make a choice between the two. We know that because it’s part of the description of the series. But, the details and where Williams takes the series is unexpected. I fully expected it to go in one direction but the steps are ramped up a bit in a way I wasn’t prepared for. It also changes up some of the aspects of where I thought the series would be going. Defying my expectations is a good thing.

Jef Sadzinski handles the art with Joana Lafuente on color and Justin Birch lettering. I like the designs of the comic which is a mix of familiar and new. There’s also a bit of comedic aspect to it that sucks a little of the seriousness from the storytelling. It could easily have gone that route. It’d then be another deconstruction of the superhero and villain dynamic and be measured by how well it knows its subjects and what it says. Or, it could have fun with this popular direction for series. Fun is something we don’t seem to find too often with it.

There’s also something fun to see what the team comes up with for the heroes. There’s a “spot the homage” at times but for the most part, the characters and designs are very unique. And, some of them by themselves get you to chuckle. You can tell everyone was having fun with things as they put in small details and tell side stories in the background or with a design.

The comic feels like it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Villainous #1 is another comic that has the basic of superheroes aren’t all that super. What makes it stand out is it comes at that concept from a direction we don’t really see too often, with humor. It’s an interesting dance the comic does and it pulls it off quite well.

If you’re tired of spandex from the big two but looking for a superhero fix, Villainous #1 might fill your needs.

Story: Stonie Williams Art: Jef Sadzinski
Color: Joana Lafuente Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.4 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Mad Cave Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleMad Cave Studios

Preview: Villainous #1 (of 5)

Villainous #1 (of 5)

(W) Stonie Williams (A) Jef Sadzinski (C) Joana Lafuente
(Letters) Justin Birch
In Shops: Oct 14, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Tilly, one of the newest super-powered people to join the Coalition of Heroes, is doing her best to navigate the dizzying world of superheroes. Working with her idols should be a dream come true, but when she learns the truth, Tilly’s dream quickly becomes a nightmare. Now, Tilly has to make a choice – Get in line and stand with her heroes, or take a stand and risk becoming something more… Villainous.

Villainous #1 (of 5)

Review: Hollywood Trash #1

Hollywood Trash #1

There’s a lot to like about Hollywood Trash #1. It’s a debut issue that’s full of potential and some entertaining moments. But, it also feels like a story I’ve come into about a quarter of the way. The series follows to garbage men who have picked up something that an evil cabal of Hollywood celebrities want and need. We don’t know what that is. We don’t know how they did it. We’re just thrown into the story with “go get them” and then the attempt to kill these two sanitation workers. It also leaves a lot to question like why someone doesn’t just tell them they grabbed something they shouldn’t have and ask for it back.

Stephen Sonneveld delivers a story that could use a bit more setup to start but as the issue gets rolling it turns into a Looney Tunes fight. While the details are a bit scant, Sonneveld focuses on the attempt to retrieve the MacGuffin and kill these two workers. The how just gets crazier and crazier as the story rolls on. By the end, it feels like this is a spin on Wile E. Coyote attempting to capture or kill the Road Runner. The garbage men are blissfully unaware and their pursuer might as well have credit at acme.

That over the top nature feels like it’s the draw of the series. The villains are rather thin. It’s a cabal of celebrities and we don’t know what their deal is other than being famous in their spaces. What they do and why doesn’t really seem to matter. They’re just the setup for the explosions and plots to get whatever was taken back in over the top ways.

That over the top nature is driven by the art of Pablo Verdugo. Verdugo is joined by Jose Expósito on color and Justin Birch on lettering. Like those Looney Tune cartoons, there’s a calm about the story up until there’s not. It’s almost a build-up to the insanity just like those classic cartoons. And that’s what works the most of the comic. It’s driven by the crazy nature of it all and the draw will be to see what crazy plan is concocted next.

There’s definitely potential for the series after reading Hollywood Trash #1. The entertainment feels like it’ll mostly be derived from the situations and attempts to get back whatever it is that needs to be returned. It’s a debut where you just need to go with the flow of it all and get lost in the absurdity of it all. Think too much, and it falls a bit short.

Story: Stephen Sonneveld Art: Pablo Verdugo
Color: Jose Expósito Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 6.75 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.8 Recommendation: Read

Mad Cave Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyMad Cave

Mad Cave Studios Goes Maverick with a New YA Imprint

Maverick logo

Mad Cave Studios has announced its all-new young adult graphic novel imprint, Maverick! The lineup, which will kick off Fall 2021, includes bi-monthly releases from industry veterans and talented newcomers, featuring titles: Nightmare in Savannah; World Class; Needle & ThreadGood Game, Well Played; Of Her Own Design.

Mad Cave’s very own Editor-in-Chief, Chris Sanchez, will be overseeing every Maverick title and working closely with the editorial staff as well as the creatives behind each title.

Check out what’s coming to comic store shelves soon!


Nightmare in Savannah

(W) Lela Gwenn (A/CO/CA) Rowan MacColl (L) Micah Myers 

Football is a religion where Adrian “The Colombian Cannon” Molina comes from, and thanks to his wicked right leg he has a clear shot at the promised land of the European Junior Leagues. But when a football scout offers him a full scholarship to an elite prep school in London, the news seems too good to be true. His enrollment hits a snag upon meeting the team’s star striker, Titan Evans. Titan is everything Adrian is not — rich, powerful, and connected. Most of all, Titan possesses a hunger to dominate the pitch no matter who or what stands in his way. The constant fighting, teasing, and bullying intensifies Adrian’s crippling anxiety as he is constantly concerned for his spot on the team. All of that changes the day Luciano DeSilva, the team’s star midfielder, takes him under his wing and gives Adrian the confidence to be himself and value not only his position on the team but in the world.

Nightmare in Savannah

World Class

(W) Jay Sandlin (A/CA) Patrick Mullholland (CO) Rebecca Nalty (L) Justin Birch

Football is a religion where Adrian Molina, aka The Colombian Cannon, comes from, and thanks to his wicked right leg, he has a clear shot at the promised land of the European Junior Leagues. But when a football scout offers him a full scholarship to an elite prep school in London, the news seems too good to be true. His enrollment hits a snag upon meeting the team’s star striker, Titan Evans. Titan is everything Adrian is not — rich, powerful, and connected. Most of all, Titan possesses a hunger to dominate the pitch no matter who or what stands in his way. The constant fighting, teasing and bullying cause Adrian to experience crippling anxiety as he is constantly concerned for his spot on the team. All of that changes the day Luciano DeSilva, the team’s star midfielder takes him under his wing and gives Adrian the confidence to be himself and value not only his position on the team but in the world.

World Class

Needle & Thread

(W) David Pinckney (A/CO/CA) Ennun Ana Lurov (L) Micah Myers

Choosing between living the life you want and living the life your “supposed to” is not always an easy choice. Noah, embracing his truest-self, wants to pursue a career in costume design, something his loving, but traditional, parents would never approve of. Azarie, the perfect, model daughter of a very stern, political family, dreams of embracing the hobbies she secretly loves, hobbies her social circle would never abide by. The two live different lives and their social statuses keep them from ever crossing paths until they have a chance encounter that exposes some common ground: the desire to live the life they’ve chosen for themselves. Together, the two set out to put it all on the line and show everyone who they really are and what they want to achieve through the unlikely medium of cosplay. Their friendship will be tested and their faith in themselves and each other will be tried, but by staying true to themselves they discover that they truly need each other.

Needle & Thread

Good Game, Well Played

(W) Rachael Smith (A/CO/CA) Katherine Lobo (L) Justin Birch

It’s 2005, and Sienna is really not looking forward to flying back into her hometown to say goodbye to one of the people she called family. Though that feels like a lifetime ago.

It’s 1999. And Sienna is looking forward to what is shaping up to be the Perfect Summer in her Perfect Life. She has a job working in the local video game store, Game Champ, with her four best friends, and that’s how it was going to be forever… At least that’s what they thought, until Jason Silver, the money-hungry landlord threatened to shut down the store. Now, the kids must work together to save Game Champ, but with Art’s huge crush on Sienna, Jo’s crippling self-doubt, Sid’s obsession with his band, and Hope’s mysterious living situation getting in the way… how likely are they to succeed?

Good Game, Well Played

Of Her Own Design

(W) Birdie Willis (A/CA) Jess Taylor (CO) Stephanie Palladino

In the small town of Holden, sixteen-year-old Brie Page has been struggling with a tremendous bout of writer’s block. And that’s a problem. One of many she has, actually. Parents that constantly fight, her former best friend/current bully Viv Kinsley, and the gorgeous new girl Kay Ardiger are causing a bit of stress. Brie used to hide from it all by creating her own fictional worlds and stories, but all of that seems so far away now.

All of that changes when an unexpected encounter with a mischievous bookseller, Ambrose Chance, leaves Brie with a magical pen. One that breaks through her writer’s block and causes her stories to flow onto the page… Too bad the whole town of Holden had to get caught up in it too when her stories come to life. Now, when the most important people in her life are stuck in fantastical tales, Brie needs to save them by diving into her worlds and facing her worries head-on. Which would be fine… if only she was better at writing endings.

Of Her Own Design

Review: Stargazer #1

Stargazer #1

For me, one of the most overlooked sci-fi films is Fire in the Sky. The film is based on a book recounting one man’s alien abduction experience. In the story, he’s taken by aliens while logging with co-workers leading to a mystery if he was really abducted or in fact killed. For those that haven’t seen it, it’s well worth viewing. Stargazer #1, a new series from Mad Cave Studios, delivers a similar concept mixing the abduction story with a little bit of IT and Goonies and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Writer Anthony Cleveland seems to play with the familiar in this debut issue. It opens with a twist on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and from there weaves a story of the past and present day. Where Stargazer #1 stands out is leaving the reader with doubts. What’s real? What’s false? Is it all a bad acid trip.

The story revolves around a group of kids who have an experience one day that involves discovering acid and possible aliens. Were the aliens due to the drugs? Were they real? It’s unknown exactly what’s going on even by the end of the first issue which seems to take you in a certain direction. There’s so many fakes and twists, what “the facts” are remain unclear and unknown. It’s exactly what a good alien abduction story should be.

Antonio Fuso provides the art with Stefano Simeone on colors and Justin Birch lettering. The art is solid clearly jumping through it’s three segments and tying the latter two together in a reddish/purpleish color haze. The choice of colors is striking and with Fuso’s art style, it creates trippy visuals where the paranoia of it all is enhanced.

Where Stargazer #1 really stands out is the small details. There’s so much to relate to here as readers. One can just go into it appreciating the pressure of having to take care of an unwell family member. Many will relate to the aspect of having to keep a secret. And some will latch on to the emotional toll or the fantastical. The team delivers all of that and more in a story that perfectly mixes dialogue and visuals to flesh out characters and the story. We learn about a character from a photo. We also get a sense of the tough decision being made from a pamphlet. These are details that enhance the story without breaking the flow.

Those details too are perfect for this type of experience. As readers, we’re going into the story skeptical. Is this an alien abduction? We don’t know. But, it feels like the creative team have made sure to focus in on tiny aspects for us to put together that mystery and so much more. If you’re a fan of alien abduction stories or mysteries, Stargazer #1 is a definite buy.

Story: Anthony Cleveland Art: Antonio Fuso
Color: Stefano Simeone Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

Mad Cave Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review. Mad Cave is also a paid advertiser on the site.


Purchase: comiXology

Review: Stargazer #1

Stargazer #1

For me, one of the most overlooked sci-fi films is Fire in the Sky. The film is based on a book recounting one man’s alien abduction experience. In the story, he’s taken by aliens while logging with co-workers leading to a mystery if he was really abducted or in fact killed. For those that haven’t seen it, it’s well worth viewing. Stargazer #1, a new series from Mad Cave Studios, delivers a similar concept mixing the abduction story with a little bit of IT and Goonies and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Writer Anthony Cleveland seems to play with the familiar in this debut issue. It opens with a twist on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and from there weaves a story of the past and present day. Where Stargazer #1 stands out is leaving the reader with doubts. What’s real? What’s false? Is it all a bad acid trip.

The story revolves around a group of kids who have an experience one day that involves discovering acid and possible aliens. Were the aliens due to the drugs? Were they real? It’s unknown exactly what’s going on even by the end of the first issue which seems to take you in a certain direction. There’s so many fakes and twists, what “the facts” are remain unclear and unknown. It’s exactly what a good alien abduction story should be.

Antonio Fuso provides the art with Stefano Simeone on colors and Justin Birch lettering. The art is solid clearly jumping through it’s three segments and tying the latter two together in a reddish/purpleish color haze. The choice of colors is striking and with Fuso’s art style, it creates trippy visuals where the paranoia of it all is enhanced.

Where Stargazer #1 really stands out is the small details. There’s so much to relate to here as readers. One can just go into it appreciating the pressure of having to take care of an unwell family member. Many will relate to the aspect of having to keep a secret. And some will latch on to the emotional toll or the fantastical. The team delivers all of that and more in a story that perfectly mixes dialogue and visuals to flesh out characters and the story. We learn about a character from a photo. We also get a sense of the tough decision being made from a pamphlet. These are details that enhance the story without breaking the flow.

Those details too are perfect for this type of experience. As readers, we’re going into the story skeptical. Is this an alien abduction? We don’t know. But, it feels like the creative team have made sure to focus in on tiny aspects for us to put together that mystery and so much more. If you’re a fan of alien abduction stories or mysteries, Stargazer #1 is a definite buy.

Story: Anthony Cleveland Art: Antonio Fuso
Color: Stefano Simeone Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

Mad Cave Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review. Mad Cave is also a paid advertiser on the site.


Purchase: comiXology

Sea of Sorrows #1 Gets a New Release Date and an Exclusive Cover

Plunge headfirst into the icy waters with a historic tale of terror from writer Rich Douek and artist Alex Cormack, in their all-new series from IDWSea of Sorrows

In the aftermath of the Great War, the North Atlantic is ripe for plunder by independent salvage crews. When a former naval officer hires the SS Vagabond, he leads the ship to a sunken U-boat, and a fortune in gold. Tensions mount as the crew prepares to double cross each other, but the darkness of the ocean floor holds deeper terrors than any of them have bargained for!

Sea of Sorrows hits shops November 18, 2020. Retailer incentive cover by Katie Sawatsky and a retail incentive cover by Erica Rose Levine. Colors by Alex Cormack, letters by Justin Birch.

Preview: Birds of Prey: Sirens of Justice #2

Birds of Prey: Sirens of Justice #2

Purchase

Disguises” by Robert Venditti, Isaac Goodhart, Chris Sotomayor, and Travis Lanham

Harley reluctantly agrees to meet with an old roommate from med school and finds herself considering the paths not taken. Turns out, she wasn’t missing much.

The Killing” by John Layman, Cully Hamner, Dave McCaig, and Justin Birch

Huntress is on the trail of a mobster on the lam, but her mission turns into a race when another bounty hunter joins the fray. And it’s no ordinary gun for hire—it’s none other than Deathstroke!

Birds of Prey: Sirens of Justice #2

DC Reveals this Week’s DC Digital First Releases

DC’s Digital First continues this week with another installment of Shazam: Lightning Strikes, plus the return of Birds of Prey: Sirens of Justice and a new story in Superman: Man of Tomorrow! These three, plus today’s Batman: Gotham Nights featuring a story by Tom Taylor and Daniel Sampere, give fans even more choice of characters while expanding DC’s digital publishing line with original stories.

And don’t forget to watch for the fifth chapter of Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red on Friday, July 24!

Monday July 20

Superman: Man of Tomorrow #12

Superman’s Day Off” by Robert Venditti, Scott Hepburn, Ian Herring, and Dave Sharpe
Purchase

Metropolis is without the Man of Steel for a day and villains are coming out of the woodwork to take advantage. Can the city stand against the many threats? And where is Supeman?!

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #12

Tuesday July 21

Batman: Gotham Nights #14

Purchase

Bad News” by Tom Taylor, Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, Adriano Lucas, and Tom Napolitano.

Deathstroke is hired to take out the only witness to a corrupt politician’s mob ties, but his newest mark has some friends in high places…

Monster” by Frank Tieri, Tyler Kirkham, Arif Prianto, and Tom Napolitano

A surprise during a bank robbery brings back old memories for Killer Croc. But he’s not that bullied, defeated kid from the freakshow anymore…he’s something much worse.

Batman: Gotham Nights #14

Wednesday July 22

Birds of Prey: Sirens of Justice #2

Purchase

Disguises” by Robert Venditti, Isaac Goodhart, Chris Sotomayor, and Travis Lanham

Harley reluctantly agrees to meet with an old roommate from med school and finds herself considering the paths not taken. Turns out, she wasn’t missing much.

The Killing” by John Layman, Cully Hamner, Dave McCaig, and Justin Birch

Huntress is on the trail of a mobster on the lam, but her mission turns into a race when another bounty hunter joins the fray. And it’s no ordinary gun for hire—it’s none other than Deathstroke!

Birds of Prey: Sirens of Justice #2

Friday July 24

Shazam: Lightning Strikes #2

Purchase

On the Job!” by Louise Simonson, Bret Blevins, Chris Sotomayor, and Marshall Dillon

Pedro takes his new crossing guard responsibilities very seriously. But when disaster strikes, can he keep his Shazam Family identity a secret and keep his classmates safe?

Destroying Eugene Choi” by Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, David Baron, and Marshall Dillon

A mysterious glowing artifact proves to be the perfect power source for Eugene’s robotics project—until it grants his robot a life of its own! Now Eugene must dismantle the rogue battlebots before they destroy Fawcett High…and to do it, he’ll need the helpof his greatest rival!

Shazam: Lightning Strikes #2
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