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Review: The Resistance #1

THE RESISTANCE #1

The show Smallville is probably one of the best fresh takes on a well-worn tale. Superman is probably one of the most prolifically adapted comic book adaptations of all time. DC Comics has had great success with him and Batman but has only recently started to explore the rest of their pantheon on television and movies.  What made the show so appealing was how he struggled with both growing up and having superpowers.

One of the biggest storylines throughout the show is the meteor shower that brought Kal El to Earth. It gave powers to hundreds of people, some who used them for good and some for bad. What that revealed is that everything is a choice. In the debut issue of The Resistance, a similar event happens like in Smallville but more catastrophic results.

We descend into a world where a virus much like COVID has ravaged masses, leaving world leaders at no intelligible way of conveying what is happening. As we meet one young child who suffers from this retrovirus that her parents seemingly have moments left with her before she passes. We go to Moscow and Beijing, where their political leaders frustrate and ruminate of how to self-quarantine, with no cure in sight. Eventually, riots break out worldwide, followed by months of panic and deaths, in surprisingly, jubilation, as a cure was never produced, but the virus simply stopped attacking. We meet Lisa, one of a pair of twins who survive the virus, but whose sister dies from unforeseen circumstances, but who has gained powers maybe because of it. America also gets a new president, an independent, whose claims seem more of a true center than real politicians on the surface, but is actually a plan for a fascist government. By the issue’s end, an important person in the president’s circle is taken by men in black masks, which can mean impossible times for the survivors.

Overall, an excellent debut issue, that re-contextualizes the times we are in and adding a superhero twist. The story by J. Michael Straczynski is relevant and is very well developed. The art by the creative team is breathtaking. Altogether, a story that will be relevant for a very long time.

Story: J. Michael Straczynski Art: Mike Deodato Jr., Frank Martin Jr., and Rahzzah
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Read The Resistance #1 by J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Deodato Jr. for FREE

AWA Studios is a new comic publisher with the first issue of a few of their series dropping in the last month. With COVID-19 spreading, AWA sped up their digital release of their comics with the first issues being free to read.

In The Resistance, J. Michael Straczynski returns to comics teaming with Mike Deodato Jr. Together they plant the flag for a new universe of heroes and villains. A global disaster leaves hundreds of millions dead in its wake. Shortly after, a few thousand suddenly manifest superhuman powers. Are they harbingers of more perils to come…or Earth’s last hope?

You can read the first issue below, for free.

AWA Studios Launches their Digital Program Early Due to COVID-19. Read The Resistance #1 Here.

With the spread of COVID-19, businesses are scrambling and changing their plans to meet a new landscape. Newly launched comic publisher AWA Studios is adjusting their digital program in hopes to keep interest for themselves and stores and make sure “readers will still have access to new and exciting comics over the coming months.”

The publisher is fast-tracking an upcoming initiative that was to launch next month. AWA has released The Resistance #1 digitally in an innovative vertical scrolling format (similar to WEBTOON or Tapas), for free on their website and across the web.

Given the timeliness of the story and the limited access to get the physical copy at retail due to COVID-19, J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Deodato Jr.’s The Resistance #1 is the first of their stories to premiere in this new format, beginning with Part One this week. Other AWA comics are in the process of being released in a similar way.

AWA is encouraging retailers to embed the digital reader versions to build interest in the series and for consumers to buy them when things return to “normal.” This also will help fight piracy (AWA estimates The Resistance #1 has over 10,000 views so far) by delivering a better reading experience.

The Resistance #1 is available on the sites below or read it right here:

Preview: Vengeance of Vampirella #6

Vengeance of Vampirella #6

writer: Tom Sniegoski
artist: Roberto Castro
covers: Lucio Parrillo (A), Ben Oliver (B), Buzz (C), Lorraine Cosplay Variant (D)
Buzz (RI-Virgin), Lorraine Cosplay Variant (RI-Virgin), Ben Oliver (RI-B/W), Ben Oliver (RI-Tint), Icon Edition Cover: Mike Deodato Jr. (RI), Icon Edition Cover: Julie Bell (RI), Lucio Parrillo (CGC-Graded Cover), Ben Oliver (CGC-Graded Cover)
FC | 32 pages | Horror | $3.99 | Teen+

Still recovering from her recent resurrection, and near fatal injuries sustained from her battle with Hemorrhage, Vampirella remembers a mission which threatened her humanity, and aroused the blood-thirsty creature that she could be if she did not remain in control. Why has a primordial jungle begun to grow, and spread around the small town of Belaine, Virginia? And what world threatening horrors does it contain? The Danse Macabre wants to know and has sent Vampirella to find out.

Vengeance of Vampirella #6

Review: Berserker Unbound #3

Berserker Unbound #3

In Berserker Unbound #3, the warrior known as the Mongrel King, trapped in a modern world with no one but a sympathetic homeless man to keep him company, finds himself confronted by new dangers and old threats from his homeland.

Berserker Unbound #3 is an odd comic. The majority of the issue revolves around the Mongrel King and a homeless man drinking at night in Central Park. Each talks to each other in a language that neither can understand. You would think that this would leave the comic a mess with little progression. The two men essentially have separate conversations with the other, making an assumption as to what the other is saying.

You’d think that this would lead to the comic taking itself in a circle. There’s an oddly endearing feeling to the two men’s dialogue. Jeff Lemire allows a natural flow to the two conversations. It does more to develop the characters than one would expect. The barbarian and the homeless man reveal their vulnerabilities to the audience and themselves. Though because of the language barrier, not to each other.

Berserker Unbound #3 rebounds from the slower pace of the previous issue as the story finds a direction. I’m not going to say “once again” because I don’t think it ever lost its direction. The direction wasn’t as obvious at the end of the second issue as it is at the end of the third. This brings me back to a point I made in last month’s review; that Jeff Lemire is one of the preeminent writers in comics. His ability to twist expectations with the way he commands a story and the dialogue used can be some of the most exciting things in a comic book – when he’s on form.

And holy shit, is he ever on form.

Mike Deodato Jr.‘s artwork captures both the feel of the Silver Age sword and sorcery comics without ever feeling dated. Put simply, this is a gorgeous book. But it’s also more than that; with the characters essentially talking to themselves for the entire issue, what we have, for all intents and purposes, is a silent issue. While the characters can’t understand each other verbally, their body language is plain as day, allowing the Mongrel King and Joe Cobb the communicate visually. Deodato Jr. is able to show his storytelling chops with a powerful scene near the climax of the comic that will hit you with an emotional gut-punch all with barely a handful of words on the page.

It’s a great sequence and one of the many joys that readers of this series will get to experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed this comic, with its mixture of fantasy and the modern world working together in a way that adds a unique twist to a well used trope. I’d expect nothing less from a writer of Lemire’s caliber.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Mike Deodato Jr. Color: Frank Martin
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided a FREE copy for review. I’ve added this to my pull list.

Review: Berserker Unbound #2

Berserker Unbound #2

Ripped from a savage world ruled by magic and dropped at the outskirts of a modern city, feared warrior the Mongrel King is found and rescued by a homeless man who guides him through a new land with new vices and hardships in Berserker Unbound #2.

There should be little doubt by now that Jeff Lemire is one of the preeminent writers in comics. His ability to twist expectations with the way he commands a story and the dialogue used can be some of the most exciting things in a comic book – when he’s on form.

Berserker Unbound #2 seems to be a comic where Lemire isn’t on form. It’s an issue that is almost completely at odds with the one before it. Whereas Berserker Unbound #1 had some balls-to-the-wall action and more gore than a horror convention, the second issue is basically two men talking at each other. I say at each other and not to each other because neither the Mongrel King nor the newly introduced Joe Cobb has any idea what the other is saying. It makes for some interesting moments, but ultimately the comic ends in almost the same place it begins.

Or does it?

Through the course of the second issue the homeless Joe Cobb introduces the Mongrel King to life on the streets of New York City, the struggle for food, safety and shelter (and alcohol) for the most unfortunate of the city’s inhabitants, with Cobb assuming that the Mongrel King is another lost soul like himself. Conversely, the barbarian is trying to find his way home, and having no idea what Cobb is saying, is trusting him to find the wizard he needs to transport him home.

The pace of this comic is glacial in comparison to the first issue, mirroring the frustration and impatience of the title character in a world he doesn’t understand.

Mike Deodato Jr.‘s artwork captures the essence of sword and sorcery comics and book covers from the Silver Age, and he’s able to give the giant Mongrel King a subtle gracefulness to his movements that belies his size. As the issue progresses, you can see the changes in the barbarian’s posture as his new surroundings confuse and anger him further and further. But perhaps the largest key to sussing out the Mongrel King’s emotions is in the coloring of Frank Martin. Shifting colors from a vibrant hue to a muted grey and blue tone as the characters move into a setting where their individuality is swallowed by the masses; where they become one with the masses for a brief moment. Two faces in the crowd.

When it comes to any story written by Jeff Lemire, I usually find there’s a slower start to where the writer establishes his setting – that wasn’t the case last issue, and with the slower pace in Berserker Unbound #2 I can’t help but feel that this is a deliberate choice to illustrate the mundanity and hopelessness of the Mongrel King’s new situation – Lemire is the kind of writer that has a long game in mind, and I have every intention of sticking around to find out what that is.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Mike Deodato Jr.
Color: Frank Martin
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided a FREE copy for review. I’ve added this to my pull list.

Review: Berserker Unbound #1

Berserker Unbound #1

In Berserker Unbound #1, a merciless sword and sorcery warrior finds himself blasted through a wormhole to a modern-day metropolis where he must protect those around him from an evil wizard determined to send him to hell. 

There were two or three main reasons I picked this book up. One was because it was written by Jeff Lemire, one of the most exciting writers in comics today, the second was the premise of a barbarian warrior being dumped in our world in the present day really interested me and the third was simply the cover. It is wonderful. It told me everything I needed to know about the comic in all of five seconds. It’s also very indicative of the art style within the comic, as Mike Deodato Jr. provided the art for both the interior and exterior (though Dave Stewart provides the colors on the cover, with Frank Martin taking care of the interiors). I’m always happy when the interior artist also produces the cover art because it helps avoid a cover selling a book to a customer based on the art style only to have a totally different artist on the inside.

Berserker Unbound #1 opens with a fairly standard fantasy trope as the Mongrel King trudges across a barren badlands-esque landscape reminiscing over past battles and revealing his reason for the continuous fighting; his wife and daughter. Lemire crafts a compelling tale and weaves a lot of characterization into the Mongrel King during the first issue, helping him stand apart from the inevitable comparison to Conan and others of that ilk. With this being a Lemire book, my expectations were already high going into this series. Lemire took an axe to those expectations and left them bloodied in the dust. The story seems simple enough as a premise, and indeed the first issue ends pretty much where you would expect it to so there’s little surprise plotwise, but it’s how Lemire takes you to his destination – the narration, the pacing – and the way he toys with how you expect things to turn out? It’s wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful things, the artwork of Deodato Jr. is another such thing in this issue. The bleakness of the world, the savagery of the inevitable action.. everything about the artistic presentation of this book is phenomenal. Credit also should go to Martin’s coloring work, of course, which elevates the already great visuals to the next level. Colourists often get the short end of the stick when it comes to the credit they deserve. They shouldn’t. Berserker Unbound #1 is a prime example of a comic where both artists’ work elevates the book a step above anything else I’ve read so far.

When it comes to any story written by Jeff Lemire, I usually find there’s a slower start (though that doesn’t mean I’m not normally hooked within the first issue or two), but that’s not the case here. The opening salvo to this story grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and screamed: “READ ME!” So I did. And I’ll continue to read this series until it’s over.

Join me, won’t you?

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Mike Deodato Jr.
Color: Frank Martin
Story: 9.1 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided a FREE copy for review. I’ve also added this to my pull list.

Savage Avengers #1 Sells Out and is Getting a Second Printing

What do you get when you assemble a team that includes Venom, Conan The Barbarian, Wolverine, Punisher, Elektra, and Doctor Voodoo? Savage Avengers, an epic new adventure from best-selling writer Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato! The first issue features a cover by David Finch.

Since debuting in comic shops May 1st, Savage Avengers #1 has amassed critical acclaim from comic fans and critics alike – and Marvel has announced that the first issue will return to comic shops for a second printing!

Savage Avengers #1 2nd Printing

Review: Savage Avengers #1

Savage Avengers #1

The most savage, most unkillable team of characters in the Marvel Universe is assembled! Wolverine! Venom! Elektra! Punisher! And in their midst – Conan the Barbarian! Conan has returned to the Marvel Universe and his new adventures begin here. What is the City of Sickles? Who is the Marrow God? How is the Hand involved?

There’s a lot to like about Savage Avengers #1 but also a lot to shrug about as well. Written by Gerry Duggan, the first issue brings Conan in the Marvel Universe after his re-introduction in the recent event Avengers: No Road Home. Stuck in the Savage Land, Conan does what he does and as presented the comic generally feels like a Conan comic but just with other Marvel characters and settings.

The debut issue feels like it breaks away from expectations in a way dropping the reader into what feels like any Conan comic but just with a different setting. As the issue progresses new layers are added folding in the Marvel Universe and blending Conan into the Marvel world that we know in a way that’s not jarring. It works because it attempts to create a natural progression instead of something like Conan is just recruited.

The story itself is beyond familiar with Conan wanting treasure and Wolverine on the hunt to stop something the Hand is familiar with. It takes elements we’ve seen multiple times and blends them together the further the story goes along. Throw in some Lovecraftian elements and the result is a weird and fun experience that generally works more than expected.

Mike Deodato Jr.‘s art is the highlight of the issue with coloring from Frank Martin and lettering by Travis Lanham. There’s a fantasy like quality about it all that really feels fun as it blends in elements like the Hand, Wolverine, and Brother Voodoo. The action is solid with visual comedic elements to it that change the tone to a bit more lighthearted fun. But, what really works is the blending of so many different elements into a situation that visually doesn’t look at of place. It’s a potluck world and yet all the elements work together in their own way.

The issue is a nice start. It’s entertaining and fun though doesn’t quite have the explosive hook that has me completely bought in for the next issue. The comic feels like a regular Conan issue with a different setting. The product feels like a Marvel roleplaying game where the dungeon master has brought together a lot of elements because no one could quite decide the direction to go. But, those stories can still be a hell of a lot of fun and the expectation is the first arc will be an off the rails adventure of which we’re just getting a taste.

Story: Gerry Duggan Art: Mike Deodato Jr.
Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.15 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

ECCC 2019: Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato Jr. Deliver Urban Sword-Wielding Adventure

Writer Jeff Lemire, artist Mike Deodato Jr., and colorist Frank Martin are joining forces once again, this time to bring a modern twist to an epic fantasy in Berserker Unbound. Dark Horse Comics will release this action-packed new series, with covers by both Mike Deodato Jr. and a first issue variant by Hellboy’s Mike Mignola!

Berserker Unbound kicks off with a merciless, sword-wielding warrior thrown through a wormhole to a modern day metropolis. Our hero quickly realizes that he must protect this new world from an evil wizard who will stop at nothing to send him and this new world to hell.

Berserker Unbound #1 (of four) goes on sale August 7, 2019.

Berserker Unbound #1
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