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Preview: Cloaks #4 (of 4)

Cloaks #4 (of 4)

Author: Caleb Monroe
Artist: Mariano Navarro

It’s the final showdown in the Cloisters: Evy and her team against Adam and CLOAKS. But with a few tricks (and secrets) up her sleeves, does Adam stand a chance? And what would failure mean for Adam’s future with the organization, and with Blackstone?

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Review: Cloaks #4

cloaks 4 - covWith this fourth issue of Cloaks, the miniseries wraps up, though leaving the readers still guessing somewhat.  After been forced to chase all over for Evy and to stop her plan, Adam finally confronts her in this issue, and while he doesn’t necessarily get the end result that he was after, at least there is some kind of resolution here.  As the action unfolds here, this issue ends up mostly being a series of action sequences, most of which are well paced and fun to read, even though they act as mostly a distraction from the remainder of the story.

The inherent problem with this entire series was that it was too rushed.  Adam is thrown through training montages in what could have been good opportunities for character development, and while Evy as the villainess is sassy and compelling, she ends up being somewhat two-dimensional as character, existing here seemingly only to be bad with little other motivation than that.  So too was magic played into this series, but that too ended up being only touched on, or elaborated in seemingly impossible ways, involving all kinds of excuses and explanations but not much in terms of actually moving the story forward.

To do justice to the ideas behind this series, it would seem like there should have been at least six issues invested in the idea.  It is almost forgotten that in the first issue that Adam was some kind of Occupy-movement Robin Hood type of character, but that has been all but forgotten here, and its role in his own character development is at this stage somewhat pointless.   So too are the action sequences out of place here, or at least in the quantity that they exist.  While it is necessary to show Evy as an equal to Adam in almost every way, the precious space for this series is lost as character development is traded for flash, and it ends up being to the detriment of the story.  As a series, this issue ends up being a good representation of what it did.  It showed some potential and even had some fun moments, but ended up missing out on most of what it was trying to capture.

Story: Caleb Monroe Art: Mariano Navarro
Story: 6.8 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Pass

Boom! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

Preview: Protocol: Orphans TP

Protocol: Orphans TP

Author: Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Mariano Navarro

Grabbed up by the United States government and thrown into training camps, orphans around the country have been raised to become America’s next generation of super-spies. Now, as adults, they live among us, ready for “the family” to call them back into action. Collects the complete four-issue limited series.

Protocol: Orphans is a tense thriller perfect for fans of fun spy fiction like TV’s Alias or Mission: Impossible, with a dash of Teen Titans.

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Review: Protocol Orphans Trade Paperback

ProtocolOrphans_coverProtocol: Orphans tells a fairly common story, especially in the world of espionage.  A group of orphans, otherwise rejected by their family and society, enter into a top-secret training program which turns them into unstoppable agents for a shadowy agency.  There is little different here in this overall series, collected here in one volume.  While the formula might be commonplace, what happens here is a little different.  As I have been known to point out, a story succeeds either on its concept and plot or on its characters.  While this concept (and plot) is fairly mundane, it is the characters that make this a fun read.  The team here is split into six, and although two are easily identifiable as the main protagonists, there are still not really any supporting characters among the team, as each member of the team gets a chance to show off what makes them special, including some well-placed snapshots from their training as youngsters. the plot is not particularly new, but it is presented in a way which makes it new enough, by introducing different plot elements and the possibility of a terrorist attack which is both a little outlandish but also believable, especially once the true villains are introduced.

orphans-001Sometimes I am prone to be a little lazy in my reading, and I just wait for the trade paperback to come out collecting story arcs or miniseries.  Though a lot of people do this for various reasons, I was actually happy in this case that I missed the original series, as this trade paperback flows wonderfully, keeps the energy going through and uses its characters expertly.  In other words, this is an entire reading experience, and while it does leave some trailing plot elements at the end to be developed later, it is a complete story.  Any readers interested in picking this up will have lost nothing from missing the monthly release of individual issues

This was actually one of the few comics that I have started in the past few months that I was not able to stop reading.  Part of that was the exciting artwork from Mariano Navarro that quick the action well-paced and the characters more approachable, but equally the story from Michael Alan Nelson lent itself to the art to flow so well.  Readers willing to branch out from the Big Two publishers will find a hidden gem in this series, and hopefully there is more to come.

Story:  Michael Alan Nelson Art: Mariano Navarro
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.  

Preview: Cloaks #3 (of 4)

Cloaks #3 (of 4)

Writers: David Henrie, Caleb Monroe
Artist: Mariano Navarro

Adam and the Cloaks crew rush to track down Evy before she can convince any of the potential candidates from joining her cause—willingly or not. But has Adam been put into the field too soon by his father figure Blackstone, and could he be in grave danger?

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Preview: Cloaks #2 (of 4)

Cloaks #2 (of 4)

Writers: David Henrie, Caleb Monroe
Artist: Mariano Navarro

After the shocking reveal of what truly happened to his mentor and father figure Blackstone, Adam reluctantly agrees to join the ranks of the CLOAKS black-ops organization and is immediately thrown into his first mission: hunting down his predecessor on the team, someone who Adam can’t help but find familiar…

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Review: Cloaks #2

Cloaks #2 coverCloaks tells the story of a street magician and social activist. In the first issue the character was established as a modern Robin Hood, with a few nice little details making the character have a bit more depth. For instance, after stealing and fencing watches he heads to drop off the money at an orphanage. While this is an interesting take on the character, it ends up being a strange changing act. Not long after the character is introduced he is recruited into a super-secret spy organization and forced to hunt down his first major criminal.

This is a decent enough concept for a series, but there is one fatal flaw in the entire presentation and that is one of length. In the first issue there were as training montage to show how to become a magician, and then in the second issue there is a training montage showing how to become a spy. In the second issue the main villain of the series is revealed, and not surprisingly the character has already been seen before as there is not enough time to get around all the necessary storytelling details of the plot, introduction of the characters, explanation of their abilities, introduction of the organizations pulling the shots, and the unconventional romance that unfolds. Already in the second issue, this series only has two more and it is hard to see that it doesn’t have to keep up this ridiculous pace throughout.

In the end that is the failing of this issue and likely of the series, that way too much is being attempted in far too little time.  This series would have benefited from either going for a smaller concept, or simply more issues. As it is, there is nothing inherently wrong with the plot, the characters or the artwork, only that it feels too crammed together.

Story: David Henrie and Caleb Monroe  Art: Mariano Navarro
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.8 Overall: 7.2 Recommendation: Pass

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE issue for review

Review: Cloaks #1 (of 4)

cloaksThe Occupy protests didn’t seem to have a substantial effect on congress, but it left an admiral impact on culture. Sure, politicians aren’t sticking it to the banks, nor are taxes rising on the super-rich, but stuff like Cloaks exists. This new mini-series, published by Boom! Studios, written by Caleb Monroe, and drawn by Mariano Navarro, follows young Adam, an illusionist who uses his talent to steal from the corruptly privileged Wall Street fat cats and give to the less fortunate. It’s a decent comic, with some clever espionage and feel-good heroics, but it isn’t without its bits of dullness that drags things down.

The protagonist of Cloaks is easy to get behind and like, due to his suave moves and strong, edgy ethical code. A few of the sequences are genuinely exciting in their cleverness, one particular scene taking advantage of Ed Dukeshire’s lettering to deliver a seamless effect that really only this medium can. Other parts are enjoyable in an almost cheap way, like when he sells stupidly expensive and stolen watches to pay for the rent of a favorite orphanage of his. The book does a solid job of juggling action and more down-to-Earth moments.

Unfortunately, Adam’s motivation is glossed over in this first issue, giving his characterization less of a kick. There are hints that his troubled, perhaps poverty-stricken upbringing may have developed his strong devotion to his Robin Hood morality, but it’s vague. On that note, the art works just fine, but is boring to look at. Facial expression and body image are done without issue, but it’s far from memorable.

It’s far from a bad comic, but not something that impresses more than a few times throughout the read. It’s decent.

Story: Caleb Monroe Art: Mariano Navarro
Story: 7.0 Art: 5.5 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

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BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Cloaks #1 (of 4)

Cloaks #1 (of 4)

Writers: David Henrie, Caleb Monroe
Artist: Mariano Navarro

In the Big Apple, a highly skilled street illusionist named Adam blows the minds of crowds with logic-defying acts, while surreptitiously using his artistry to steal from corrupt Wall Street investment bankers and re-distribute their ill-begotten wealth to those in need. He’s a modern-day Robin Hood, but his travails garner the attention of the local authorities. While evading their pursuit, Adam is confronted by three suits and quickly ascertains that freedom has a cost—in order to maintain his liberty, he must join this clandestine Black Ops organization simply known as CLOAKS.

Caleb Monroe (STEED AND MRS. PEEL, Batman) and artist Mariano Navarro (PROTOCOL: ORPHANS) bring you the Robin Hood of Wall Street, combining street magicians with a spy-fi thriller.

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BOOM! Studios Has a Few Tricks Up Its Sleeves with Cloaks

BOOM! Studios sees the September debut of Cloaks, a new limited series that combines the thrills of a good magic trick with a Black Ops twist. This new magical thriller is created by actor David Henrie, who learned a thing or two about magic in his role as Justin Russo on the Disney Channel Original Series Wizards of Waverly Place. Henrie, alongside writer Caleb Monroe and artist Mariano Navarro, have created the Robin Hood of Wall Street, tricking the rich out of their money and inadvertently winding up on the radar of a covert Black Ops organization.

In the Big Apple, a highly skilled street illusionist named Adam blows the minds of crowds with logic-defying acts, while surreptitiously using his artistry to steal from corrupt Wall Street investment bankers and re-distribute their ill-begotten wealth to those in need. He’s a modern-day Robin Hood, but his travails garner the attention of the local authorities. While evading their pursuit, Adam is confronted by three Suits and quickly ascertains that freedom has a cost—in order to maintain his liberty, he must join this clandestine Black Ops organization simply known as CLOAKS.

Cloaks #1 arrives in comic shops on September 3rd with a cover price of $3.99 under Diamond order code JUL140963. The first issue will ship with a main cover by W. Scott Forbes and retailer incentive cover by Phil Noto.

CLOAKS #1 Main Cover by W. Scott Forbes CLOAKS #1 Retailer Incentive Cover (1 in 10) by Phil Noto

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