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Preview: Batman: Urban Legends #2

Batman: Urban Legends #2

Written by: Matthew Rosenberg, Brandon Thomas, Cecil Castellucci, Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Ryan Benjamin, Marguerite Sauvage, Max Dunbar, Eddy Barrows
Cover by: Hicham Habchi

The new Batman anthology series continues! In part two of Chip Zdarsky and Eddy Barrows’s epic Batman/Red Hood story, Jason Todd has taken a man’s life, and now his mission is to keep the dead man’s young son safe. But Batman plans to take down Jason before he can make another mistake. Then, in chapter two of Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s senses-shattering tale, Cole Cash earns his pay as personal bodyguard to billionaire Lucius Fox, but what led him to Gotham in the first place? How does the mysterious HALO Corporation play into it all? And which Bat-Family character does he have an unfortunate meeting with in this chapter? And in part two of Brandon Thomas and Max Dunbar’s epic Outsiders story, see Katana’s perspective on what brought the Outsiders to Japan, who wants her dead, and what her ultimate punishment will be for no longer having her husband’s spirit in the Soultaker sword. Plus, Barbara Gordon has identified a citywide system hack from a foe she faced before as Batgirl…but this time around, Babs may have found a way to defeat her for good as Oracle!

Batman: Urban Legends #2

Preview: Stone Star Season Two #5 (of 5)

Stone Star Season Two #5 (of 5)

Written by Jim Zub
Art by Max Dunbar
Colored by Espen Grundetjern
Cover by Max Dunbar
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Purchase

The nomadic space station called Stone Star brings gladiatorial entertainment to ports across the galaxy. Inside this gargantuan vessel of tournaments and temptations, foragers and fighters struggle to survive. A young warrior named Dail has been drawn into the ring and is trying to prove himself in the Grand Arena, but there are forces on the station determined to see him destroyed as revenge for his father’s fighting legacy.

Stone Star is an action-adventure spectacle bursting with colorful characters and pulse-pounding action! Grab your weapons, gritters, and join the fray!

Part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content only available on comiXology and Kindle. Read for free as part of your subscription to comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime. Also available for purchase via comiXology and Kindle.

Stone Star Season Two #5 (of 5)

Review: Batman: Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1

As seen in The Lego Batman Movie, the Arkham video games, and the Batman comics of the 1990s and early 2000s, Batman’s strength is in the world and characters that he creates access to. Whether that’s his allies, villains, nooks and crannies of Gotham, or even police officers that he either works with or against, these personalities and settings are why I continue to return to the Batman side of the DC Universe. The creators of Batman: Urban Legends #1 understand this and flesh out different Batman-adjacent characters and even sometimes explore their relationship to the Dark Knight while also telling action, romance, and crime stories.

First up in this Gotham-themed anthology is the beginning of a six part Batman and Red Hood serial where Batman and his former protege-turned-killer vigilante (He’s switched to rubber bullets for the moment.) investigate a source of a hallucinatory street drug tackily called Cheerdrops. Writer Chip Zdarsky has a firm grasp on Jason Todd’s voice, including the darkness inside his soul and his hunger for justice, especially for Gotham’s beleaguered working class. Artists Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas nail the grit of the city with explosive linework and jagged layouts to go with a color palette that has had all the light sucked out of it. However, Excalibur’s Marcus To does the art in the flashbacks, which features brighter colors as well as simpler, cleaner lines with a more traditional superhero feel even though one of the scenes is set during “Under the Red Hood” when Jason Todd came back from the dead and started killing criminals.

“Batman and Red Hood” is also a study in contrasts in how two very different crime fighters deal with the same crisis. Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and is super methodical with Barrows and Ferreria drawing him looking at the chemical makeup of Cheerdrops CSI-style, and his All-Star Superman-esque moment with a jumper is less feel-good and more evidence collection. On the other hand, Jason fights crime with his guts and heart and even admits in a wry line from Zdarsky that he’s not a great detective as he struggles to find a Cheerdrop stash house. However, he does find a boy named Tyler, and of course, Jason is great with kids and even lets him wear part of his mask while he looks for his dad in a dodgy part of Gotham. Zdarsky, Barrows, and Ferreira create something truly heartwarming between Jason Todd and Tyler.

There’s a throughline between this and the flashbacks where Batman (Portrayed as more of an action figure than man by To) struggles being a father figure to Jason, and Alfred does the job perfectly because he sees him as a human being and not an obstacle in his war on crime. Chip Zdarsky writes Alfred Pennyworth as the perfect parent to the Bat-family, who isn’t afraid to tell Batman that he’s full of shit and chooses compassion over a closed fist. And speaking of Batman, I love how Zdarsky doesn’t give him an inner monologue and depicts him more as a force of nature than a gun toting, broken man like Jason Todd, who agonizes over every decision and whose interaction with Tyler bring back memories of his mom who died of a drug overdose. Also, he’s not afraid to go a little dark, and Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira jagged layouts and emotional poses are along for the ride.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

The second story in Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an eight page Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy one-off from writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Laura Braga, and colorist Ivan Plascencia. Plascencia is this story’s secret weapon that shows the happy, hilarious times of Harley and Ivy’s first dates and the bleak current times for Harley as she has moved back to Gotham in her solo title and as a recurring character in Batman. Braga’s art is expressive and high energy for both the good times (Harley and Ivy smooching and snapping selfies) and bad times (A sudden bolt of lightning shattering their pictures), and she is a good fit for a story that isn’t centered around a heist or fight against a superhero, but a relationship. She and Phillips tap into the depth of feelings that Harley has for Ivy, and through some handy plant symbolism, they create hope for the relationship that has become very popular for fans in the past decade. “Harley and Ivy” is a nice, nearly slice of life oasis in the midst of the three other stories, which have more moving parts.

The third story in this comic is a 10 page “Outsiders” feature by Brandon Thomas, Max Dunbar, and Luis Guerrero starring Black Lightning, Katana, and an interesting take on Metamorpho. Thomas turns in kind of a mystery plot with the story starting with Black Lightning and an unseen Metamorpho in a Japanese prison before cutting to a bonkers, two page spread of a speedboat chase. Unlike the previous two stories in Batman: Urban Legends #1, Thomas and Dunbar go for a action over character focus, and honestly, I’m here for it. Dunbar uses arrows from their pursuers to act as eye-lines to follow the high speed chase, and he and Thomas have a clever moment or two up their sleeve, especially in regards to Metamorpho’s first appearance. The story isn’t particularly deep, but it has the vibe of a James Bond cold open with superpowers as Guerrero really makes Black Lightning’s abilities sizzle. Finally, Brandon Thomas’ plotting really kept me engaged with thinking about why characters were acting a certain way, and the the mini mystery box structure has me intrigued for the upcoming issue.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Grifter is a character I didn’t really know a lot about except for some random comics like the New 52 Team 7 and JLA/WildCATs, but Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela have made this anti-hero/rapscallion and his various pratfalls quite lovable and hilarious Batman: Urban Legends #1’s final story. Grifter is like that guy who bluffs at poker, but never has a good hand. And until maybe the penultimate page of the comic, he’s either screwing up or making a joke about it beginning with his mad rush towards supervillain fire during his Team 6 days with a lot of characters with familiar names from Wildstorm comics. (I’m not an expert on these characters, and you don’t have to be to enjoy the story.) Grifter uses his sense of humor to detract from his mediocre performance as Lucius Fox’s bodyguard or to avoid getting his ass kicked by Batman, but he also has a mystery side that is revealed when he has a “date” at one of Penguin’s bars. The mystery starts to really unfold towards the end of the comic, but Rosenberg hints at every time, he talks on a headset with what I assume is his older brother.

The comedy in “Grifter” isn’t just limited to Matthew Rosenberg’s delightfully smartass dialogue. It shows up a lot in Ryan Benjamin’s visuals, which range from G.I. Joe or Authority homages (When the superheroes clean up Team 6’s mess.) in the flashback to pure slapstick. For example, Grifter spills a drink at a party Lucius Fox is meeting a client at and spills a drink on a woman. In this situation, Benjamin doesn’t just show a simple facial expression, but throws in some growlixes and makes you know that she’s furious that the soaking wet guy in Converse and blue jeans is even in the same room with her. This playfulness extends to the fight between Batman and Grifter, which starts as a serious throwdown and ends up in a total cat and mouse situation with Grifter finally getting enough self-awareness to call it quits. However, their paths will cross, and you can tell that Batman understands he’s a wildcard with his connections to Lucius Fox, the criminal underworld, and probably those Wildstorm guys. All in all, Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela turn in a hilarious action-comedy set in DC’s weirdest and (sometimes) dourest city and also slowly unveil what seems to be a master plan to merge the worlds of Wildstorm and Gotham.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an absolute win for the anthology format that DC Comics has been trying out with all of the four stories in the comic being entertaining and shedding light on a unique cast of characters. The longer stories that bookend the comic are especially noteworthy thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s pitch-perfect handle on the fascinating character of Jason Todd in “Batman and Red Hood” and Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s skill with verbal and visual humor in “Grifter”.

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Stephanie Phillips, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Marcus To, Laura Braga, Max Dunbar, Ryan Benjamin
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, Antonio Fabela
Letters: Becca Carey, Deron Bennett, Steve Wands, Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Stone Star Season 2 #4

Stone Star Season 2 #4

Written by Jim Zub
Art by Max Dunbar
Colored by Espen Grundetjern
Cover by Max Dunbar
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Purchase

The nomadic space station called Stone Star brings gladiatorial entertainment to ports across the galaxy. Inside this gargantuan vessel of tournaments and temptations, foragers and fighters struggle to survive. A young warrior named Dail has been drawn into the ring and is trying to prove himself in the Grand Arena, but there are forces on the station determined to see him destroyed as revenge for his father’s fighting legacy.

Stone Star is an action-adventure spectacle bursting with colorful characters and pulse-pounding action! Grab your weapons, gritters, and join the fray!

Stone Star Season 2 #4

Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides

Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides

The forces of evil are back in Baldur’s Gate and this time, they have some truly heinous stuff planned in Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides. As they try to force the plane of Avernus into the more natural world, a group of heroes will need to rise up and stop them. A group with a good balance of skills. Possibly, one with a miniature giant space hamster. Yes, Minsc and company return to Baldur’s Gate to kick butts.

I feel that there is a lot to like about Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides. It brings back Jim Zub and Max Dunbar. All the creative teams have knocked it out of the park but Zub is a bit more involved with the properties and it just shows in how these tales are delivered. Quickly, you know who is who and what they can do. We see the threat quickly and the story builds them up. But, the one thing I think that might be the most important is that when you have a cast like the one that Infernal Tides has, it’s important to craft their individual voices. Zub makes them feel like a true party and while a character like Minsc has such a strong, outstanding personality, he doesn’t drown everyone out.

Max Dunbar illustrates another great Dungeons & Dragons story. Paired with Sebastian Cheng, David Garcia Cruz, and Neil Uyetake, Infernal Tides features a lot of great character design and action sequences. I thought there was a really great 2-page splash in issue 2. As someone who has been reading these adventures since Evil At Baldur’s Gate, it’s good to have a colorist that I think is perfect for Max Dunbar’s art.

Ultimately, IDW Publishing does Dungeons & Dragons right. I’ve been really happy with all of the stories they’ve done but I do feel there’s something a bit more special, exciting and enjoyable about Jim Zub and Max Dunbar working on a tale set in Baldur’s Gate. Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides ends up as another truly enjoyable tale of Minsc and company that’s sure to keep fantasy readers enthralled.

Story: Jim Zub Art: Max Dunbar
Colors: Sebastian Cheng, David Garcia Cruz Letters: Neil Uyetake
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Dungeons & Dragons Infernal Tides

Dungeons & Dragons Infernal Tides

(W) Jim Zub (A/CA) Max Dunbar
In Shops: Feb 17, 2021
SRP: $17.99

A new D&D® campaign begins as the odyssey following the Baldur’s Gate heroes continues in this graphic novel adventure! Minsc and his friends are caught in the middle of devil-tainted corruption that has taken hold of Baldur’s Gate. Unravelling the secret of its source will take our heroes to unexpected places and threaten the sanctity of their very souls. Even if they survive this perilous journey, there will be hell to pay!

Dungeons & Dragons Infernal Tides

Legends of the Dark Knight Returns in a Brand New Series

Debuting in 1989, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight put Batman in the hands of some of the most talented writers and artists in comics, such as Denny O’Neil, Grant Morrison, Ed Hannigan, Mike W. Barr, Doug Moench, José Luis Garcia-López, Klaus Janson, and others. Their efforts yielded unforgettable story arcs for comic book fans, such as “Shaman,” “Prey,” which redefined the evil and twisted Dr. Hugo Strange, “Gothic,” and “Venom,” the story that introduced the dangerous super steroid to a Santa Prisca prison inmate who would later be known as Bane.

On April 2, this influential anthology returns as a new DC Digital First series, Legends of the Dark Knight. Stories will be released digitally as 10-page weekly “chapters,” with two digital chapters making one print issue; issue #1 arrives in comic book stores on May 18Legends of the Dark Knight will serve as a place for both well-known and up-and-coming creative talent to tell new, evergreen stories, appealing to a wide variety of fans, all based on one of the most beloved and enduring characters in popular culture.

Legends of the Dark Knight kicks off with a six-part weekly/three-issue monthly tale, written and illustrated by Darick Robertson, with colors by Diego Rodriguez and letters by Simon Bowland. In “Bad Night, Good Knight,” a new player has arrived on the scene in Gotham City and is selling deadly chemicals to the worst villains in town: Mr. Freeze, the Penguin, and even The Joker! It’s up to Batman to stop the villains, track down the supplier, and save Gotham City from not only his most vicious foes, but this new mystery villain.

Future stories will showcase the talents of writers Stephanie Phillips, Becky Cloonan, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg, Brandon Easton, Che Grayson, and comics writing newcomer Yedoye Travis.

Contributing artists include Cian Tormey, Giannis Milonogiannis, Karl Mostert, Max Dunbar, Dike Ruan, Belén Ortega, and Nina Vakueva.

The series debut issue features a dynamic cover by Robertson, with a card stock variant cover by David Marquez, 1:25 ratio variant cover by Riccardo Federici, and a special “teams” variant cover by Francesco Francavilla available to retailers ordering more than 250 copies. At the series digital launch on March 28, each digital chapter sells for $.99 on all participating digital platforms. Each 32-page monthly issue sells for $3.99, with the card stock variant priced at $4.99.

Batman: Urban Legends Dives Into the World of Gotham Spotlighting, Jason Todd, Grifter, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, the Outsiders, and more

Explore the world of Gotham in a brand new anthology series, Batman: Urban Legends which launches in March 2021 from DC Comics. Batman may be the biggest name in Gotham City, but there are lots of other heroes—and villains—who will get a turn to shine in a brand-new monthly anthology series highlighting top talent and a mix of new voices making their mark on the city the Dark Knight calls home.

The first six issues are anchored by a Batman/Red Hood thriller from writer Chip Zdarsky and fan-favorite artist Eddy Barrows. Renegade vigilante Jason Todd, a.k.a. Red Hood is investigating a new and lethal drug sweeping through Gotham City. In the course of one night, this investigation will change his life forever – and put him in Batman’s crosshairs.

Future State: Grifters writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Ryan Benjamin continue from the pages of Batman #101, as gun-for-hire Cole Cash is still in Gotham, on the trail of the true motives of the Halo Corporation…and yes, Batman and Grifter go head-to-head again!

In a story set before the launch of the new ongoing Harley Quinn series, writer Stephanie Phillips and Future State: The Next Batman artist Laura Braga team up to help Harley sort out her complicated history with Poison Ivy – but first she’ll have to find her!

This debut issue also launches a three-part tale of the Outsiders, courtesy of Future State: Outsiders writer Brandon Thomas with art by Max Dunbar. This saga reunites team members Black Lightning, Katana, and Metamorpho, but this reunion quickly turns into a confrontation with the appearance of a figure from Katana’s past!

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is a $7.99 prestige format series, debuting on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 with covers by Hicham Habchi (main), David Finch (variant), and Kael Ngu (variant).

Preview: Stone Star Season Two #1 (of 5)

Stone Star Season Two #1 (of 5)

Written by Jim Zub
Art by Max Dunbar
Colored by Espen Grundetjern
Cover by Max Dunbar
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Purchase

The nomadic space station called Stone Star brings gladiatorial entertainment to ports across the galaxy. Inside this gargantuan vessel of tournaments and temptations, foragers and fighters struggle to survive. A young warrior named Dail has been drawn into the ring and is trying to prove himself in the Grand Arena, but there are forces on the station determined to see him destroyed as revenge for his father’s fighting legacy.

Stone Star is an action-adventure spectacle bursting with colorful characters and pulse-pounding action! Grab your weapons, gritters, and join the fray!

Part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content only available on comiXology and Kindle. On release, this title is available as part of comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading.

Stone Star Season Two #1 (of 5)

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1 Gets a “Color Your Own Cover” Variant from Max Dunbar

The action-packed universe of the Warhammer tabletop gaming universe is coming to Marvel Comics this October! Written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by artist Jacen Burrows, Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1 will reveal the untold origin of the legendary Space Marine Chapter Master. Witness Marneus Calgar’s beginnings on the world of Nova Thulium, his campaigns in the Black Crusades, and discover a deadly threat from his past, the mysterious Black Altar. To gear up for this latest mission, hone your design skills with the Color Your Own Variant cover by popular artist Max Dunbar. This special paper stock cover allows you to color Dunbar’s artwork so you can create your very own Space Marine and save the Ultramar system from destruction in this extraordinary chapter of the Warhammer saga!

Prepare for glorious combat when Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1 hits stands this October!

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1
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