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Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

The Joker has a secret about Batman and Bruce Wayne and he’ll use Azrael to get what he wants. Batman: Curse of the White Knight is a follow up to the hit Batman: White Knight miniseries.

Story: Sean Gordon Murphy
Art: Sean Gordon Murphy
Color: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: AndWorld Design

Get your copy in comic shops now! 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
TFAW

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 is the follow up to creator Sean Gordon Murphy‘s hit Batman: White Knight. As a follow up, it does it right in that you don’t need previous knowledge. While there are references to the previous volume, there’s little knowledge needed to enjoy the current offering. It’s what comics should be, open to new readers while having a “value add” to long-time readers.

I wasn’t a fan of Batman: White Knight. I felt the concept presented isn’t what was presented. The high concept never was delivered on. Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 seems to correct that problem. It sets up a simple clash between the Joker and Batman involving the Waynes’ history and introducing Azrael to this universe.

Now under the DC Black Label imprint, Batman: Curse of the White Knight is free of the meta concept instead delivering a more classic story. There’s a lot of history building here going back to the early days of Gotham. The intrigue of the first issue is in the story not what it’s trying to do. It’s story first, concept second in this follow-up volume.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 takes through the early history of Gotham. There are ties to the early Waynes’ with implications not just for Bruce but also the origin of the Joker. Its teases make it more than interesting enough to read further. Murphy references the first volume enough to really settle questions for previous readers. What’s presented isn’t vital for new readers. You can focus on the story presented without being bogged down by the previous volume.

There are some issues that Murphy has fallen in to before. The introduction of Jean-Paul Valley goes smoothly until the end. An encounter feels a bit too out of nowhere and disjointed. It’s a “go with it” moment. One that doesn’t derail the issue but feels a little out of the blue as presented. Later issues may make things clearer.

Murphy’s art is the highlight here. Along with color by Matt Hollingsworth and lettering by AndWorld Design, the comic is visually great. The design and choices deliver a world that feels like a mix of the Gotham we know and a steampunk alt-world. That’s due to its grays, browns, reds, and blacks which play heavily into the look of it all.

The comic is an improvement on the previous volume. It delivers an intriguing mystery that goes its own way while building off of the myth we already know. Cures of the White Knight delivers a straightforward Batman story that plays to Murphy’s strengths. It shows growth as a writer and how to create a new volume that’s both new reader-friendly and has a little extra for those who have been along for the ride.

Story: Sean Gordon Murphy Art: Sean Gordon Murphy
Color: Matt Hollingsworth Letterer: AndWorld Design
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Matt Fraction, Elsa Charretier, Matt Hollingsworth, Kurt Ankeny, and Rian Hughes Team for the Three-Part Graphic Novella, November

Image Comics has announced the first in a sequence of three graphic novellas by Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier, with colors by Matt Hollingsworth, exquisitely crafted lettering by cartoonist Kurt Ankeny, and book design by Rian Hughes, titled November.

In November, the lives of three women intersect in a dark criminal underground. As fire and violence tear through their city over the course of a single day and night, they find that their lives are bound together by one man—who seems to be the cause of it all. 

Fraction commented in the announcement:

November is a crime thriller about three women connected by unforeseen and terrible circumstances—the kind of random encounter with chaos and darkness that upends lives without warning, walking the line between accident and catastrophe. As a serialized series of novels, the format of November gives us the space and time to explore who these women were before and after everything changed for them, in a sprawling story of chaos and coincidence where everything happens according to a pattern, but no plan ever goes off without a hitch. It’s the kind of story only comics can tell in the way only a comic can tell them, and I couldn’t ask for better collaborators than Elsa, Matt, and Kurt.

Charretier added:

Characters so alive they draw themselves, scripts that feed my imagination for days on end, November is the most challenging project I’ve worked on, and collaborating with such a talented team has been everything I dreamed it’d be.

November, vol. I hardcover (Diamond Code JUL190077, ISBN 978-1-5343-1354-5) will hit comic shops on Wednesday, November 6 and bookstores on Tuesday, November 12. The final order cutoff for comic shop retailers is Monday, August 5.

November, vol. I

Preview: War of the Realms: War Scrolls #2 (of 3)

War of the Realms: War Scrolls #2 (of 3)

(W) Jason Aaron, Devin Grayson, More (A) Andrea Sorrentino, More (CA) Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Matt Hollingsworth
Rated T+
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $4.99

THE MUST-READ COMPANION TO THE WAR OF THE REALMS!

From the Asgardian Bifrost, Daredevil watches Malekith and his forces lay waste to realms. Jason Aaron and Andrea Sorrentino take Daredevil – the God Without Fear – to places he never believed he would see! Then, Devin Grayson spins a tale of magic and its consequences as Doctor Strange casts a spell that will cost him dearly – and devastate the Asgardian pantheon! All this and more straight from the battlefield of WAR OF THE REALMS!

War of the Realms: War Scrolls #2 (of 3)

Messages from Midgard #5: Cyclops Was Right

Halfway through the “War of the Realms“, and it looks like this is gonna be an event where the tie-ins were more memorable than the core story. War of the Realms #3 dropped this week, and it’s a treat to see Russell Dauterman draw, basically, the entire Marvel Universe including the Fantastic Four and Captain America’s cute little snow jacket for adventuring in Jotunheim. But, it’s just trailers for better, more interesting comics like Bryan Hill and Leinil Yu’s very longwindedly named War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1 and Champions #5 where Jim Zub and Juanan Ramirez once and for all prove that, indeed, Cyclops was right. (But Ramirez’s trolls look like Skrulls, oops.)

War of the Realms #3

After two straight issues of various Marvel superheroes fighting various fantasy creatures, we get yet another issue of Marvel superheroes fighting various fantasy creatures. Sights that Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson subject us to include Daredevil tripping balls and flirting with being an agnostic while having the power of the god of fear, Luke Cage riding a flying horse, Punisher wanting to blow up Ghost Rider’s car, and of course, Thor covered in blue Frost Giant blood. And there are jokes; so many jokes. However, with the exception of the Thor becoming a berserker part and a Venom plot point, the comic feels like a trailer for other comics, namely, the Strikeforce series of one-shots.

Jason Aaron did a fantastic job writing Daredevil in War Scrolls #1, and I was excited to see how he set up the Man without Fear’s transformation. Boy, was I disappointed. Heimdall makes a quip about about creeping on Daredevil while he was on Earth, there’s another joke about Catholicism, and then Daredevil is the God of Fear and defender of the BiFrost. The page where he gains godhood is very trippy with a Dippin’ Dots color palette from Wilson though even if his role is basically Asgardian Scotty from Star Trek until the BiFrost has to be destroyed for plot reasons.

This past weekend, Avengers Endgame showed that spectacular action could be combined with both continuity fun and character arcs. However, War of the Realms #3 is mostly just the spectacular action part with Aaron and Dauterman just moving pieces on the board. Sure, the comic looks cool, and there are some actually funny jokes (Spider-Man’s line about fighting with a shield). But it’s all fights and no substance or emotional tether even with Freya, who is written much better in the Dark Elf Realm one-shot. I also have some little quibbles with it like Captain America and Spider-Man being cool with animal cruelty, and Aaron’s portrayal of Venom not fitting in with Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello’s story for him. War of the Realms #3 is just a skeleton to be filled in with “meat” from its tie-ins so it gets the Overall Verdict of Pass.

War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1

I thought this was going to be yet another Punisher fights Elves shoot ’em up fest. I was happy to be proven wrong as Bryan Hill proves the old Brian Bendis saying that conversations can be fight scenes, and Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Matt Hollingsworth bring grit and shadow to the art of War of the Realms Strikeforce: Dark Elf Realm #1. Basically, this shows how Freyja recruited Punisher, Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Blade to destroy and then defend the Black Bifrost adding context, depth, and resolution to the fight in War of the Realms #3. Along the way, Hill and Yu create some parallels between these heroes (and one not quite hero) and the Black Bifrost itself as they and Freyja embrace their shadow selves to get the job done.

In the space of a single one-shot, Bryan Hill, Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Matt Hollingsworth create some fantastic chemistry between the Punisher and Freyja. Freyja is afraid that she has to dip into the dark, sorcerous side of herself to defeat Malekith so she enlists a man who has been consumed by darkness and revenge to help her. Yu goes very stylized with Frank’s first appearance and in other scenes shrouding him in shadow as he has come to terms that he’s a monster fighting monsters.

This insight extends to the characterization of Jennifer Walters, Ghost Rider, and Blade as they fight their worst fears in powerful one page sequences that involves Jen punching Bruce’s Hulk in the heart, Ghost Rider headbutting Johnny Blaze while he tries to do a Penance Stare, and Blade fighting his older self, a vampire king. Yu uses close ups to give each final blow maximum effect and establishes that even though three of these characters are Avengers, they’re not afraid to act like a black ops team on this mission. But maybe Freyja isn’t ready, which is Frank comes in and talks about how they’re at war and must do everything to get victory.

Bryan Hill makes multiple cases for why he should take over a Punisher or Blade ongoing comic, or even a dark series set in Asgard as that realm (As shown in Aaron and Fraction’s Thor work and the Thor Ragnarok film.) was built on violence and war. He, Yu, Alanguilan, and Hollingsworth serve up dark, fascinating visions of characters (Except for Freyja.)who have been treated like jokes or action figures in the core War of the Realms series so Dark Elf Realm #1 earns an overall verdict of Buy.

Champions #5

Jim Zub and Juanan Ramirez finally give Cyclops the respect he deserves in Champions #5 where he takes a break from the X-Men to defend New York with his younger self’s old superhero team, the Champions. Along the way, Miles Morales and Kamala Khan deal with the guilt of letting someone die on his watch and seeing friends and teammates drift away respectively. It’s an issue that is part introspective and part cartoon-y art from Ramirez as Cyclops and Kamala showcase their tactical skills and fight trolls of the non-Internet variety.

Through Kamala’s narration and with the help of Ramirez’s kinetic fight choreography and confident poses, Jim Zub shows that Cyclops isn’t just a stoic stiff or mutant terrorist, but a great leader, who is cool under pressure. Also, with the tension of the Champions and their shifting and expanding lineup, Kamala needed a hug and a reassurance from an old friend. Zub and Ramirez also use the return of Cyclops to have him interact with Dust, who decided to not rejoin the X-Men because their predilection for violence wasn’t in line with her Islamic beliefs. For example, after a badass sequence where she uses her sand manipulation powers to choke out some trolls, Dust prays and tries to come to grips if her violent actions were necessary for the situation. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that this lineup of the Champions is the first time that two Muslim women have been on a superhero team.

Under Jim Zub’s shepherding, the Champions series has been a template for a modern team of young superheroes with its diverse lineup of characters, social conscience, fun team-up action, and plots that come out of the team’s interpersonal relationships. Yeah, the series is a bit soapy at times, but Champions #5 ably juggles a big lineup of characters while getting in the action beats and doing some soul searching with Miles and Kamala. On top of that, Zub’s work on Avengers No Surrender and No Road Home has served him well in using big events and continuity to tell compelling stories like understanding that the X-Men are in New York at the same time as the Champions and using it to put a little respect on Cyclops’ name. For that, Champions #5 easily gets an Overall Verdict of Buy.


Unless Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman make some second half adjustments, War of the Realms might go down as that event where different Marvel superheroes had cool fantasy inflected designed and had some big battles, but it was mostly empty calories of story. Aaron does hit on some small beats like Jane Foster growing into her role of All-Mother and leading the Asgardians into battle despite having no powers and Thor’s violence addiction. The event has also been an okay frame for more perceptive intriguing stories featuring characters Freyja, Frank Castle, Kamala Khan, Blade, Dust, and surprise surprise, Cyclops!

Panel of the Week

Nothing more refreshing than Cyclops leading a team of superheroes into battle. Plus I love how Juanan Ramirez draws his classic costume. From Champions #5, Art by Ramirez and Marco Menyz.

Preview: War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 (of 3)

War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 (of 3)

(W) Jason Aaron, Chip Zdarsky, Josh Trujillo, Ram V. (A) Andrea Sorrentino, Joe Quinones, Ricardo Lopez-Ortiz, CAFU (CA) Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Matt Hollingsworth
Rated T+
In Shops: Apr 17, 2019
SRP: $4.99

THE MUST-READ COMPANION TO WAR OF THE REALMS!

Gifted the sight of the Bifrost, Daredevil watches all Midgard burn under Malekith’s invasion. How will the Guardian of Hell’s Kitchen…guard an entire Earth turned to Hell? Find out in a story by Jason Aaron & Andrea Sorrentino! All this and more (including a new Howard the Duck story by Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones!), straight from the battlefield of WAR OF THE REALMS!

War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 (of 3)

Review: Little Bird #1

Little Bird #1

Little Bird follows a young resistance fighter who battles against an oppressive American Empire and searches for her own identity in a world on fire.

Little Bird #1 is a comic I’ve been looking forward to reading for some time. The concept of a resistance standing against a religious fundamentalist American empire is a story that sounds intriguing to me. While there’s a lot to like in the first issue, there’s also some stumbling as well in its world building.

Written by Darcy Van Poelgeest, the first issue feels like a cross between Saga, We Stand on Guard, and East of West. A Canadian resistance attempts to take on the evil American empire which works as a story, it’s something we’ve seen before. Where the issue stumbles a bit is in the small details of its worldbuilding which at times feels like weird to just be weird. Bathing in blood with what looks like intestines coming out. Weird baldheaded floating intestine creatures. It’s all visually interesting but with so little explanation we’re expected to go with it. What it winds up being is somewhat of a distraction.

Little Bird is a techno-organic religious world that we’re expected to go with. While the visuals are solid, we’re left wondering about those interesting concepts and it doesn’t help matters. A more straightforward visual would have helped. Getting rid of the weird focuses the story a bit. All of these things might be explained but in the first issue it’s all left hanging.

The concepts though are neat and the story pretty easy to get in to if you’re willing to overlook these open questions. The characters are interesting. The conflict has a lot of potential. The juxtaposition of societies is solid. There’s a lot of set up for what’s to come and a good inclusion on what we need to know of the past.

The art by Ian Bertram is absolutely interesting and as I said above, it can be distracting as well. Joined on colors by Matt Hollingsworth and lettering by Aditya Bidikar, the issue is one that has so many small things for you to linger on the page and stare at. While those visuals absolutely help build the world and hint at what we’re dealing with, they also aren’t explained enough and seem a bit odd for odd’s sake. Those cool visuals also distract without an explanation of the “why” and “what.”

The first issue has a lot of potential and I want to see where it goes. There’s a good chance the miniseries will read better as a whole than it does as single issues and those issues I have with the weird visuals will be explained later. Little Bird #1 absolutely creates and builds an interesting world but leaves too much out there not explained or acknowledged to not distract from the main story.

Story: Darcy Van Poelgeest Art: Ian Bertram
Color: Matt Hollingsworth Letterer: Aditya Bidikar

Design: Ben Didier
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batman: White Knight

The first trade to be released under the DC Black Label imprint, Batman: White Knight is Sean Murphy‘s take on the ongoing battle between the Joker and Batman. Murphy is an amazing artist, but is the story any good? Find out!

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

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

SDCC 2018: Dark Horse Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Hellboy’s First Appearance at San Diego Comic-Con With 3 New Mignolaverse Titles

In 1993, legendary comic book creator Mike Mignola’s most famous creation, Hellboy, first appeared in a four page, black and white story in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2, months ahead of his full issue comic book debut in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. Co-published by Dark Horse Comics, this story introduced one of the most beloved comic book characters in history and launched what would become known as the Mignolaverse — the strange, shared universe of comic books and graphic novels, comprised of acclaimed titles including Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.Abe SapienB.P.R.D.Frankenstein UndergroundLobster JohnsonThe Visitor: How and Why He Stayed and Witchfinder.

25 years later, Mignola is once again returning as a Special Guest to San Diego Comic-Con International, where the convention will celebrate the 25th anniversary of that first 4-page story by including the historic story in their 2018 Souvenir Book. The story, which previously had been published with colors by acclaimed colorist Matt Hollingsworth, will now be colored by Eisner Award-winning colorist and longtime Mignola collaborator Dave Stewart and will appear alongside an all new interview with Mignola and Jed W. Keith. In addition, Mignola and Stewart have created an all new cover for the San Diego Comic-Con International Events Guide.

Ahead of the convention and the planned celebration of Mignola and his creation, Dark Horse Comics is announcing three new Mignolaverse comic books, which further expand and enrich the epic story that has been entertaining fans around the world for two and a half decades.

The three new titles, which Dark Horse Comics will publish in 2018, span the globe and showcase very different corners of the Mignolaverse — the occult cold war escalates in Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956; Lobster Johnson’s biggest foe, the Crimson Lotus, is featured in her first ever, eponymous mini-series; and the annual Hellboy Winter Special features festive and supernatural stories from Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck, Tonci Zonjic, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá.

The three new titles are:

Crimson Lotus five-issue mini series

Mike Mignola (W), John Arcudi (W), Mindy Lee (A), Michelle Madsen (C), Tonci Zonjic (Cover)
Issue 1 on sale date: 11/21/2018
Before she became Lobster Johnson’s biggest foe, the Crimson Lotus was a young girl whose family was caught up in the Russo-Japanese war. Thirty years later, the Lotus exacts her revenge with terrifying international ramifications, and two spies must try to chase her through China before they become flies in her web.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 five-issue mini series

Mike Mignola (W), Chris Roberson (W), Yishan Li (A), Mike Norton (A), Michael Avon Oeming (A), Dave Stewart (C), Dave Johnson (Cover)
Issue 1 on sale date: 11/28/2018
Pressure is mounting within the bureau to uncover the Soviets’ secret plans, but a suspicious cover-up leads one agent off the radar in search of answers. Meanwhile, demonic Soviet occult leader Varvara pushes her team to follow her own whims, and Hellboy is sent on the mission that would lead to his infamous misadventures in Mexico. But even more clandestine plots are at work—both inside the B.P.R.D. and out. Three different storylines are interwoven in this espionage saga.

Hellboy Winter Special 2018

Mike Mignola (W/Cover), Fábio Moon (W/A/variant cover), Gabriel Bá (W/A/Variant cover), Tonci Zonjic (W/A/C), Ben Stenbeck (A), Dave Stewart (C)
On sale date: 12/12/2018
Three wintery tales featuring a Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck team-up about a New Year’s Eve séance gone wrong when Hellboy visits a family’s English home, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá revisit B.P.R.D.: Vampire with a new tie-in story, and Tonci Zonjic returns to write and draw Lobster Johnson.

Fans will be able to ask Mignola about the new titles —and anything else the audience wants to talk about regarding his career —  at the San Diego Comic-Con international Spotlight panel on Mike Mignola on Friday, July 20th at 2:30 PM PT in Room: 24ABC. Mignola will also be signing at the Dark Horse Comics booth (#2615) on Friday July 20th at 4:30 PM and exhibiting at Booth #4901, alongside artists Geof Darrow, Frank Cho and Steve Purcell from Wednesday through Saturday.

The new titles join an exciting Mignolaverse publishing lineup for the year, including the Hellboy Omnibus Collection, which creates the definitive reading experience for Hellboy fans and an ideal entry point for new readers by publishing Mignola’s award-winning Hellboy stories in chronological order for the first time ever.

Preview: Batman: White Knight #8

Batman: White Knight #8

(W) Sean Murphy (A/CA) Sean Murphy
In Shops: May 09, 2018
SRP: $4.99

In the extra-sized finale of Sean Murphy’s top-selling miniseries, Jack Napier’s suspicious seduction of Gotham City comes to its twisted conclusion! With the city on the verge of becoming an icy tomb for the GTO, Batgirl makes a crucial assist and Gordon is forced to reevaluate his judgment of Batman to secure the greater good. As the true Joker’s return becomes imminent, Harley seeks vengeance and reckons with the bleak future that looms for her loved ones.

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