Tag Archives: justin birch

Review: Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion

Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion

I’ve never played a game of Gloomhaven. I’ve heard good things about the legacy dungeon crawler but it’s a commitment I don’t have time for. Beyond the fantasy setting, I know little of the world and after reading Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion, I’m not sure I know all that much.

Welcome to the City of Gloomhaven. A city we don’t get to see much of as a lot of the comic takes place within a bar. The Jaws of the Lion are a the top of the hierarchy of the city, but their latest job goes sideways. Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion takes us through the group’s adventure in segments told from a different member’s perspective.

I’m not sure if it was high-hopes for a new comic series based on a board game or the interest in a “new” property being expanded to comics, but the potential of the debut issue feels squandered. Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion is one that feels more focused on fans of the property than an introduction to that property for all, that also is entertaining for fans.

Written by Travis Mcintire, the comic has a fine concept, a band of adventurers talking about a job gone wrong. But, there’s little setup and little to make us care about the characters. The adventure is just that, a fairly generic adventure with a different set of characters. We’re not given much background on any them, their powers, race, really anything. Unless you know the world or the specific characters, it all feels a bit lost. There’s some personality in each but beyond one’s unique dialogue they’re all pretty basic fantasy characters with a different look.

The teaser text for the comic hinted at punk bands, drug dealing street gangs, and a dark God sleeping underneath the city. None of that’s really here at all. There’s some things danced around but as far as the city, we see the inside of a bar and the direct outside of it again leaving us with a very generic premise of a comic.

With art by Tyler Sowles and lettering by Justin Birch, the art too is interesting but doesn’t quite click for me. The design, class, and race of the characters are something that appealed to me. But the action itself felt a little lackluster and the scenes within the tavern outright boring. With a story that doesn’t give much background about the characters, the art needed to deliver a bit more to clue readers in. Birch’s lettering stands out a bit for its unique style concerning one character made of bugs. That was the most intriguing design of the entire comic.

Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion had a lot of potential as a comic. Something different such as an introduction to the game and its elements might have stood out. But, as presented, this is a pretty boring presentation of the world and its characters. Any interesting elements feel sucked out leaving us with a generic fantasy story that’s been done so much better elsewhere.

Gloomhaven created by Isaac Childres
Story: Travis Mcintire Art: Tyler Sowles Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Source Point Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Source Point PresscomiXology

Review: Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion

Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion

I’ve never played a game of Gloomhaven. I’ve heard good things about the legacy dungeon crawler but it’s a commitment I don’t have time for. Beyond the fantasy setting, I know little of the world and after reading Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion, I’m not sure I know all that much.

Welcome to the City of Gloomhaven. A city we don’t get to see much of as a lot of the comic takes place within a bar. The Jaws of the Lion are a the top of the hierarchy of the city, but their latest job goes sideways. Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion takes us through the group’s adventure in segments told from a different member’s perspective.

I’m not sure if it was high-hopes for a new comic series based on a board game or the interest in a “new” property being expanded to comics, but the potential of the debut issue feels squandered. Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion is one that feels more focused on fans of the property than an introduction to that property for all, that also is entertaining for fans.

Written by Travis Mcintire, the comic has a fine concept, a band of adventurers talking about a job gone wrong. But, there’s little setup and little to make us care about the characters. The adventure is just that, a fairly generic adventure with a different set of characters. We’re not given much background on any them, their powers, race, really anything. Unless you know the world or the specific characters, it all feels a bit lost. There’s some personality in each but beyond one’s unique dialogue they’re all pretty basic fantasy characters with a different look.

The teaser text for the comic hinted at punk bands, drug dealing street gangs, and a dark God sleeping underneath the city. None of that’s really here at all. There’s some things danced around but as far as the city, we see the inside of a bar and the direct outside of it again leaving us with a very generic premise of a comic.

With art by Tyler Sowles and lettering by Justin Birch, the art too is interesting but doesn’t quite click for me. The design, class, and race of the characters are something that appealed to me. But the action itself felt a little lackluster and the scenes within the tavern outright boring. With a story that doesn’t give much background about the characters, the art needed to deliver a bit more to clue readers in. Birch’s lettering stands out a bit for its unique style concerning one character made of bugs. That was the most intriguing design of the entire comic.

Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion had a lot of potential as a comic. Something different such as an introduction to the game and its elements might have stood out. But, as presented, this is a pretty boring presentation of the world and its characters. Any interesting elements feel sucked out leaving us with a generic fantasy story that’s been done so much better elsewhere.

Gloomhaven created by Isaac Childres
Story: Travis Mcintire Art: Tyler Sowles Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Source Point Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Source Point Press

Review: Children of the Grave #1

Earth has been reset. Now known as Terra, the populace lives in blissful ignorance of the centuries of unrest that plagued mankind. They’re taken care of by the “Providers”. Daniel is determined to find the truth.

Children of the Grave #1 kicks off a new series delivering a solid blend of psychological horror and sci-fi.

Story: Sam Romesburg, Ben Roberts
Art: Gioele Filippo
Color: Marco Lesko
Letterer: Justin Birch

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Scout Comics

Preview: Knights of the Golden Sun #8

Knights of the Golden Sun #8

(W) Mark London (A/C) Mauricio Villarreal (L) Justin Birch

The Archangels are back! With Metatron on the run, and Lucifer nowhere to be found, the Archangels must scour the Earth for the pieces of God’s Armor in order to prevent them from bringing destruction upon the world the likes of which have only been hinted at through the annals of history!

Knights of the Golden Sun #8

Review: Sea of Sorrows #1

Sea of Sorrows #1

The team behind the horror series Road of Bones is back with Sea of Sorrows #1. Moving from the frozen tundra of Siberia, the new horror setting for the duo of Rich Douek and Alex Cromack takes us to the deep sea. With the Great War over, the North Atlantic is filled with riches. The story focuses on a former naval officer who hires a crew to retrieve gold on a sunken U-boat. With riches within reach, tension builds leading to double-crosses while a terror below awaits them all.

Douek and Cormack have put together a hell of a start that feels like a solid period piece. The build throughout the issue adds tension with each page until it’s clear by the end this is a where few can be trusted and most likely few will make it out alive.

But, what’s interesting about this debut is its underlying theme of corruption and an attempt to escape horror. Some of the individuals are haunted by what they did during the war. Others have history with each other that’s at play. And some prefer the icy waters and the peace they bring. There’s a haunting melancholy about it all and the comic can easily be imagined on the big screen.

Some of that is helped by how the comic is presented visually. There’s something more cinematic about it in its more grounded look. Set in a post Great War, Cormack’s art has a lived in look to it with small details emphasizing a real world. That’s helped by the color which Cormack also did with an assist by Mark Mullaney. There’s a gritty dirtiness about it all. Visually, and even storywise, the comic reminds me of Jaws where our trio of heroes recount stories of being hurt and the recounting of the Indianapolis in World War II. The sadness felt in that scene extends to this comic delivering a mature beginning that’s more about haunting tension than actual scares. Justin Birch‘s lettering is solid and stands out when needed to emphasize the supernatural and horror elements that are peppered through the issue.

Sea of Sorrows #1 is a solid debut delivering a period piece of horror. The comic is more focused on building tension for what’s to come than deliver scares. It’s a psychological angle than cheap thrills. Like Road of Bones‘, Sea of Sorrows #1 is a hell of a start and perfect for those who are looking for a cold frightening chill in these fall and winter months.

Story: Rich Douek Art: Alex Cormack
Color: Alex Cormack, Mark Mullaney Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus Comics

Mad Cave Studios’ Knights of the Golden Sun plus Honor and Curse Are Back for a Second Arc!

Two first wave titles that put Mad Cave Studios on the comics map are making an exciting return! It was an easy decision for writer Mark London to bring the second arc of Knights of the Golden Sun—now blending even more history and fantasy with biblical elements, all perfectly captured in the intricate and detailed art by Nicolas Salamanca with an exclusive variant by Adam Gorham—as well as the return of Genshi, the Tengu, Akemi, and the rest of the Iga back shinobi thriller, Honor and Curse, featuring art by Mauricio Villarreal.

Knights of the Golden Sun #8

(W) Mark London (A/C) Mauricio Villarreal (L) Justin Birch
Release Date: December 2, 2020

The Archangels are back! With Metatron on the run, and Lucifer nowhere to be found, the Archangels must scour the Earth for the pieces of God’s Armor in order to prevent them from bringing destruction upon the world the likes of which have only been hinted at through the annals of history!

“To be able to continue working on Knights of the Golden Sun is exhilarating,” said Mark London. “Not only because I can continue working on a story that we have set out to do from the beginning, but because I’m in love with these characters and I truly enjoy working with Mauricio. It’s  a story about the archangels and their struggles as a family. It’s about facing doomsday scenarios that are bigger than anything the world has ever seen. It’s going to be a wild ride… just like everything Mad Cave does.” 

“I’ve always loved being a part of this project because I love epic stories that take place in amazing worlds, and that is exactly what Knights of the Golden Sun is,” said Mauricio Villarreal. “In volume two, we are going to explore a much larger world filled with all sorts of fantastical creatures as well as even more historical figures than the last volume.”

Knights of the Golden Sun #8

Honor and Curse #7

(W) Mark London (A) Nicolas Salamanca (C) Tekino (L) Miguel Zapata
Release Date: January, 6, 2021

Left reeling after the murder of Lord Haruki, Genshi makes his way to the Jade Caverns per Nishiro’s instructions. Meanwhile, Akemi took control of the Iga and is training like never before to defend her clan from potential threats… like the rival Koga clan who are looking to seize the opportunity presented by Lord Haruki’s death. 


“When I first came up with the idea for Honor and Curse, it was supposed to be a straightforward ninja tale with some historical elements and tons of action,” said Mark London. “However, once I started diving into the research, I became fascinated by all of the mythology surrounding the era and the story morphed into what it is today; a story about a talented ninja possessed by an evil mountain spirit known as a Tengu. With the fantastic art that Nicolas and Tekino bring to the table, I can’t wait for the fans to see what we have in store for Genshi, Akemi, and the rest of the Iga clan.”

Honor and Curse is a comic that I have a lot of affection for, not only because of the fact that it is set in feudal Japan, but it has allowed me to grow as an artist,” said Nicolas Salamanca. “I definitely consider it an honor and not a curse to continue working with Mark and Tekino on this incredible story.”

Honor and Curse #7

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

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