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Review: Beasts Of Burden: Occupied Territory #1

Beasts Of Burden: Occupied Territory #1

The eight-time Eisner Award-winning comic book series blending fantasy and humor returns in a historical adventure blending Japanese and Western occult with Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #1!

An elder member of the occult-battling pack of Wise Dogs recalls a harrowing mission–in U.S-occupied Japan after World War II, a mysterious curse creates an army of crawling, disembodied heads which threatens to overwhelm the region. Emrys and a team of canine companions attempt to solve the mystery, bringing them into conflict with shape-changing tanuki, evil oni, and a horde of vengeful demons. 

Beasts Of Burden is one of those series that I was introduced to via my LCS heavily promoting the Neighborhood Watch trade paperback, and the subsequent books. so it is, then, that Beasts Of Burden: Occupied Territory #1 is one of the few entries to the series that I’ve read in single issue form verses the collected edition. While this is a follow up to the previous miniseries, other than the first page or three you don’t need to have read that as Occupied Territory takes places during the Second World War in a flashback told by Emrys.

Written by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, with art by Benjamin Dewey and letters by Nate Piekos, the comic is absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of a painting in many ways and the style works incredibly well with the time period the comic is set in, with the art bringing to the fore the sense of dirt and grime and hopelessness you’d expect in a story that mixes World War Two and the occult. Being a flashback story, Emrys takes the time to frame his story for his audience, which has the added benefit of framing it for us, and especially for folks new to the series (which makes this a fairly good entry point to the world of Beasts Of Burden).

With this being the first issue, there’s a bit of a slow build to the inevitable occult madness, but Dorkin and Dyer set the pace of the comic really well – building slowly toward the following chapters where the shit (and probably blood) will surely hit the fan. Beasts Of Burden: Occupied Territory #1 is another fantastic entry into the series lore, and I cannot wait for the next issue.

Story: Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer Art Benjamin Dewey Letters: Nate Piekos
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus Comics

Apex Legends Expands to Comics with Overtime

Writer Jesse Stern is joined by artist Neil Edwards, inker Keith Champagne, and letterer Nate Piekos for the new comic series from the award-winning battle royale videogame Apex Legends in Apex Legends: Overtime beginning June 2, 2021.

Apex Legends is a squad-based battle royale experience where players select from one of 16 Legends – each with their own unique abilities and playstyles – and the last team standing wins. In the comic series, the Legends find themselves pulled together to rescue the city from Mad Scientists, brutal assassins, and the sudden and sinister grip of The Syndicate, a corrupt cabal attempting to “fix” arena outcomes in their favor. Will the Legends hold up to their celebrity status and be the heroes Solace needs?

Apex Legends: Overtime #1 (of four) arrives June 2, 2021, and is available for pre-order.

Apex Legends: Overtime #1

Nate Piekos Takes You Into the World of Comic Lettering with The Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering

Ringo and Eagle award-winning letterer and founder of Blambot.com—Nate Piekos—shares his insight into the world of comic book lettering in the upcoming The Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering. This informative how-to book will hit shelves from Image Comics this October.

Piekos provides readers with the most in-depth tips and techniques ever published on the subject of digital comic book lettering in this exhaustive guide. He covers everything from creating lettering templates, emotive dialogue, and dynamic sound effects to developing design skills and building a lettering career in the comic industry.

Piekos has provided lettering and design for virtually every major publisher: Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Oni Press, and more. His fonts also appear in video games, movies, advertising, and product packaging. Microsoft, Six Flags Amusement Parks, Charles Schulz & Associates, New Yorker Magazine, The Gap, Penguin Random House, and Sony, are just a few mega-corporations that have licensed designs from Blambot.com.

The Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering trade paperback  (ISBN: 978-1-5343-1995-0) will be available on Wednesday, October 20 and in bookstores on Tuesday, October 26.

The Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering

Review: Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1

Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1

Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 kicks off a new DC digital series, this one a current exclusive to the new DC Universe Infinite digital app. The series is pretty straightforward and something many have wanted for a long time. It’s a digital series that will release comics that have been on the shelf for a long time.

Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 kicks off with a story from writer Jim Zub and artist Tradd Moore featuring the Suicide Squad. The story, “Twenty-Minute Marathon” was Zub’s first script for the big two and done in 2011.

Zub and Moore deliver a simple Suicide Squad as they go on a mission to take out a target on behalf of Amanda Waller. There’s nothing complicated at all in the story. It’s a bit of the ole over the top violence with a nice dose of humor.

I love one and done comics and Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 is exactly that. Zub and Moore deliver a story that could be continued if he chose to or you can just enjoy it on its own as well. What’s really solid is Zub’s use of the unknown in the comic. By the end, you’ll debate what you’d do yourself if you were in Deadshot’s position. Was it the right choice? Was Waller playing and lying to him? I don’t know the right answer to the situation. Walking away from the comic like that actually feels kind of cool and refreshing.

Moore’s art is top-notch. Felipe Sobreiro provides the colors with lettering by Nate Piekos. The art is full of comedic moments and the team captures the energetic glee and craziness of it all. Even the over the top violence brings laughs as to how Moore handles the brains splattering and blood flying.

Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 is bookended with segments featuring Ambush Bug who introduces the concept of the comic. It’s a fun “Crypt Keeper”-like role for the character and it’d be fun to see him being used more to explain more of the history of the comic. We don’t get that here but writer Elliott Kalan, artist Mike Norton, colorist Marissa Louise, and letterer Saida Temofonte deliver some solid moments and more laughs in the issue.

As an unexpected and “free” comic on the DC Universe Infinite app, Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 is a solid read and start. Even when it eventually makes its way to other digital platforms and possibly print, it’s still well worth getting. We’re seeing DC realizing that digital platforms are taking the shackles off of them and opening up their ability to do releases like this. The fact they’re diving into standalone one-and-done comics is even better. It’s exactly what this platform is great at, quickly digestible content you can pick up and enjoy and escape for a little bit.

Story: Jim Zub, Elliott Kalan Art: Tradd Moore, Mike Norton
Color: Felipe Sobreiro, Marissa Louise Letterer: Nate Piekos, Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation Buy

Black Hammer: Visions Opens Up a Playground for Creators

Experience Black Hammer like never before in this exciting reimagining of the Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston created, Eisner-award winning series! Black Hammer: Visions is a series of one-shots bringing some of comic’s most exciting talent into the Black Hammer Universe including Patton Oswalt, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Dean Kotz, Scott Kolins, Chip Zdarsky, Johnnie Christmas, Cullen Bunn, Malachi Ward, Matt Sheean, Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Mariko Tamaki, Diego Olortegui, Cecil Castellucci, and Melissa Duffy, with colors by Jason Wordie, Bill Crabtree, Jordie Bellaire, and Dave Stewart and letters by Nate Piekos!

Kicking off Black Hammer: Visions, Patton Oswalt joins artists Dean Kotz and Jason Wordie to explore the life of youthful super heroine Golden Gail on the Black Hammer Farm before the beginning of Black Hammer#1, and her struggle to maintain sanity as a middle-aged woman trapped in the unchanging body of a superpowered grade-schooler. This 32-page issue also features variant covers by Evan Dorkin with Sarah Dyer, and Gilbert Hernandez with Dave Stewart!

Black Hammer: Visions #1 (of eight) will hit comic shops on February 10, 2021.

Review: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #1

TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS: NATIONAL ANTHEM #1

Set in the world sung about in My Chemical Romance’s fourth studio album Danger Days, True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #1 tells the story of the original Killjoy, Mike Millimeter. He’s been hinted at in concept art since 2008, but finally, writers Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, artist Leonardo Romero, and colorist Jordie Bellaire tell his epic and tragic narrative. In National Anthem #1, Way and Simon juggle twin narratives with one showing Mike at his peak, rocking a cool car, ray gun, a mask, and a crew of Killjoys and the other one showing his life in a dystopia that has homogenized everything from breakfast cereal to Ramones records. And, of course, Mike rebels against “the Man” even if it means his death.

One of Gerard Way’s most underrated talents is artist curation. For example, take a look at the artist lineup for the sadly dormant Young Animal imprint and see how Nick Derington was born to be a star penciler and nail both the adventure of Batman and the weirdness of the Doom Patrol. His curation skills strike again in National Anthem #1 as Leonardo Romero’s storytelling styles perfectly fits the duel between conformity and non-conformity from crashing on the couch and vegging out to nationalistic television to starting a revolution anew. He uses lots of small panels to show little interactions between characters or memorable moments like Mike thinking back to his abusive childhood. Jordie Bellaire’s color palette adds emotion to this and other scenes with strong color choices like yellow pages for the abuses of the past or a vomit green as Mike grows sick of life as stock shelver with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Ramones.

Gerard Way and Shaun Simon go for a drinking at a fire hydrant style of scripting and plotting that is similar to Way’s work on Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol although they predominantly focus on Mike Milligram as a character with supporting players acting as window dressing, obstacles, plot points, or getting him to act. Just like the Danger Days album, National Anthem #1 scratches the surface of a futuristic world that is similar to ours with megacorporations and surveillance states, but a bit quirkier. For example, there’s a gang of books on tape addicts in National Anthem #1, and they are one of several gangs that get into one hell of a shootout in the middle of the comic.

This extended setpiece showcases Romero eye for action as he breaks down each gun fight into manageable chunks using smaller panels before going widescreen for a big plot point or a car chase. For the most part, Bellaire uses primary colors for the Killjoys to make sure that readers can see what they’re up to in the middle of the fray. It matches the yellow pops of their ray guns and the red of blood and guts that streak across the panel and even into the gutters as Mike loses control of the situation. There’s a reason why he’s slumped on the couch while the U.S. National Anthem plays on his television, and Romero and Bellaire use visual similarities to transition to this future timeline like a film editor, who wants to make their cuts memorable and appealing and not give the audience a headache.

True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #1 has futuristic, punk rock worldbuilding with a stellar sense of style. It is also the first chapter of a compelling story arc for Mike Milligram, who goes from revolutionary leader to sad sack cog in a corporate machine. (But there’s yet hope for the masked man with the cool car.) Gerard Way and Shaun Simon’s Burroughs-esque word play, Leonardo Romero’s high energy pencils, and the Jordie Bellaire’s eye popping colors bring it all to life in magical, music video fashion. This one is for the MCRmy, Timothy Leary followers, aging crust punks in cubicle prisons, folks who prefer vinyl to streaming, and anyone who wants to give the middle finger to the current status quo.

Story: Gerard Way and Shaun Simon Art: Leonardo Romero
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Nate Piekos
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus Comics

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #1 Has an Exclusive Variant Comic Bundle on Dark Horse Direct

With it being released this coming Wednesday, Dark Horse Direct has an exclusive variant bundle of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem#1! Forget everything you already knew about The Fabulous Killjoys! Writers Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, along with Illustrator Leonardo Romero, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Nate Piekos team up to present an all-new modern-day Killjoys series as Way and Simon take it all the way back to the original story that inspired My Chemical Romance’s concept album Danger Days and its dystopian comic book series in The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem.

Limited to just 300 total copies, this $49.99 bundle features an exclusive black and white variant cover comic with cover art by Daniel Warren Johnson and also a deluxe limited-edition lithograph colored by Mike Spicer. This lithograph is printed on a high-quality, premier rose-colored paper with hints of white to really make Daniel Warren Johnson’s line art and Mike Spicer’s colors pop off the page!

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #1 Variant Comic Bundle will begin shipping to pre-order customers on October 28th, 2020.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #1 Variant Comic Bundle

Review: You Look Like Death: Tales from the Umbrella Academy #1

YOU LOOK LIKE DEATH TALES UMBRELLA ACADEMY #1

Everyone’s favorite member of the Umbrella Academy, Klaus Hargreeves aka Seance, finally gets his own solo series in You Look Like Death: Tales from the Umbrella Academy #1 from writers Gerard Way and Shaun Simon and the (sadly underrated in the United States) artist I.N.J. Culbard. The book also acts as a bit of a prequel to the main Umbrella Academy series and is set after Klaus is expelled from the Academy for drug use and other shenanigans by his exacting adoptive father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves. But it’s an entertaining story in its own right full of, well, drug use, vampire chimpanzee crime lords, a dash of humor, and clean, evocative art and colors from Culbard.

With a varied power set and a charismatic personality in both the Umbrella Academy show and comics, Klaus’ escapades are ripe fodder for a solo spinoff. Way, Simon, and Culbard spend the first small bit of the book establishing why Klaus is so out of place at the Umbrella Academy and establishing his frenemy-ish relationship with his siblings Luther, Allison, and Diego as well as his enmity-filled relationship with Sir Reginald through zippy, humorous vignettes. Culbard uses grid-like layouts to show how Klaus is trapped in the orderly world of the Academy before opening up the page when he hits the road to The City and beyond with a dream and a cardigan. (And a suitcase for accuracy purposes.) His color choices also match this mood going from neutral tones to basically candy with the ever-present green whenever Klaus uses his abilities, such as possessing people or communicating with the dead.

Something I love about Umbrella Academy is how much it embraces the strangeness of superpowers and the folks that wield them starting in the first issue of the series when the young Umbrella Academy fights Zombie-Robot Gustave Eiffel in Paris. Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, and I.N.J. Culbard continue that tradition in You Look Like Death #1 while maintaining laser focus on the character of Klaus and what he does to keep busy/have fun/keep the talking to dead people pain away while being away from his siblings. The miniseries has been advertised to take place in Hollywood, but the lion’s share of You Look Like Death #1 takes place in The City.

Way, Simon, and Culbard dig into the generic superhero city, NPCs, and all aspect of the setting as soon as Klaus packs his bags. I will probably never stop laughing at a place where you can obtain drugs at a shop with a neon sign that says “Drugs” and is probably part of larger 7/11-esque franchise owned by the aforementioned chimpanzee vampire drug lord. This playful approach to setting persists even when Klaus hits the West Coast, and he goes from standing out to being just part of the scenery. And speaking of the scenery, I.N.J. Culbard adds all kind of wonderful background dressing when Klaus goes out and about, like interesting back tattoos or darkly humorous posters in adoption centers, that add to the liveliness of the world that he, Gerard Way, and Shaun Simon have crafted. I am definitely down to follow Klaus down some dark alleys and into buildings with fun graffiti patterns and even more fun denizens inside.

You Look Like Death #1 is a direct hit to the pleasure-feeling parts of your brain. I got the same feeling from reading this comic as I did driving into cop cars and hapless civilians in the Grand Theft Auto games sans all the unnecessary carnage. Klaus uses his powers for pure hedonism, angers authority figures, and has a good time, rinse and repeat. There’s also a bit of void-filled darkness because what else would you expect from a co-writer, who sang lead vocals on “Helena”. However, that’s background radiation. For now, You Look Like Death is the feel-good party comic with queer lead of 2020, but drink plenty of water and get ready for that hangover in subsequent issues…

Story: Gerard Way and Shaun Simon
 Art: I.N.J. Culbard Letters: Nate Piekos
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-Order: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Early Review: You Look Like Death: Tales from the Umbrella Academy #1

YOU LOOK LIKE DEATH TALES UMBRELLA ACADEMY #1

Everyone’s favorite member of the Umbrella Academy, Klaus Hargreeves aka Seance, finally gets his own solo series in You Look Like Death: Tales from the Umbrella Academy #1 from writers Gerard Way and Shaun Simon and the (sadly underrated in the United States) artist I.N.J. Culbard. The book also acts as a bit of a prequel to the main Umbrella Academy series and is set after Klaus is expelled from the Academy for drug use and other shenanigans by his exacting adoptive father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves. But it’s an entertaining story in its own right full of, well, drug use, vampire chimpanzee crime lords, a dash of humor, and clean, evocative art and colors from Culbard.

With a varied power set and a charismatic personality in both the Umbrella Academy show and comics, Klaus’ escapades are ripe fodder for a solo spinoff. Way, Simon, and Culbard spend the first small bit of the book establishing why Klaus is so out of place at the Umbrella Academy and establishing his frenemy-ish relationship with his siblings Luther, Allison, and Diego as well as his enmity-filled relationship with Sir Reginald through zippy, humorous vignettes. Culbard uses grid-like layouts to show how Klaus is trapped in the orderly world of the Academy before opening up the page when he hits the road to The City and beyond with a dream and a cardigan. (And a suitcase for accuracy purposes.) His color choices also match this mood going from neutral tones to basically candy with the ever-present green whenever Klaus uses his abilities, such as possessing people or communicating with the dead.

Something I love about Umbrella Academy is how much it embraces the strangeness of superpowers and the folks that wield them starting in the first issue of the series when the young Umbrella Academy fights Zombie-Robot Gustave Eiffel in Paris. Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, and I.N.J. Culbard continue that tradition in You Look Like Death #1 while maintaining laser focus on the character of Klaus and what he does to keep busy/have fun/keep the talking to dead people pain away while being away from his siblings. The miniseries has been advertised to take place in Hollywood, but the lion’s share of You Look Like Death #1 takes place in The City.

Way, Simon, and Culbard dig into the generic superhero city, NPCs, and all aspect of the setting as soon as Klaus packs his bags. I will probably never stop laughing at a place where you can obtain drugs at a shop with a neon sign that says “Drugs” and is probably part of larger 7/11-esque franchise owned by the aforementioned chimpanzee vampire drug lord. This playful approach to setting persists even when Klaus hits the West Coast, and he goes from standing out to being just part of the scenery. And speaking of the scenery, I.N.J. Culbard adds all kind of wonderful background dressing when Klaus goes out and about, like interesting back tattoos or darkly humorous posters in adoption centers, that add to the liveliness of the world that he, Gerard Way, and Shaun Simon have crafted. I am definitely down to follow Klaus down some dark alleys and into buildings with fun graffiti patterns and even more fun denizens inside.

You Look Like Death #1 is a direct hit to the pleasure-feeling parts of your brain. I got the same feeling from reading this comic as I did driving into cop cars and hapless civilians in the Grand Theft Auto games sans all the unnecessary carnage. Klaus uses his powers for pure hedonism, angers authority figures, and has a good time, rinse and repeat. There’s also a bit of void-filled darkness because what else would you expect from a co-writer, who sang lead vocals on “Helena”. However, that’s background radiation. For now, You Look Like Death is the feel-good party comic with queer lead of 2020, but drink plenty of water and get ready for that hangover in subsequent issues…

Story: Gerard Way and Shaun Simon
 Art: I.N.J. Culbard Letters: Nate Piekos
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-Order: comiXology

ComiXology Delivers 6 New Digital Comics from Marvel and Harlequin

It’s a new day and there’s new digital comics for you on comiXology. Pick from six new releases from Marvel and Harlequin. Check out the full list here or the individual issues below.

Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty

Written by Cefn Ridout
Art by Charlie Adlard
Cover by Charlie Adlard
Purchase

The murder of a US diplomat kicks off an international crisis that pulls in the likes of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the Russian Mafioso. And caught in the middle of it all is Black Widow…but what part will she play in this conflict?

Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty

The Magnates Tempestuous Marriage

Written by Miranda Lee
Art by Yoshiko Hanatsu
Purchase

When mining magnate Scott walks into his lawyers’ office, he immediately falls for Sarah and vows to put a ring on her finger as soon as possible. They get married just three months later. However, the confident businessman finds himself stumbling when it comes to his new bride.

On their first wedding anniversary, he receives a photograph of Sarah with another man… Hurt by the sudden change she notices in her husband and with suspicions of her own, she runs away from home.

Sarah stays away to be alone with her thoughts, but her body still longs for her husband…

The Magnates Tempestuous Marriage

Marvel Graphic Novel #61: Black Widow: The Coldest War

Written by Gerry Conway
Art by George Freeman
Cover by George Freeman
Purchase

The Black Widow discovers that her husband, the Red Guardian, may be alive! But before she can see him, the Russians demand that she betray America by stealing one of its most precious secrets!

Marvel Graphic Novel #61: Black Widow: The Coldest War

Marvel Graphic Novel #75: Daredevil/Black Widow: Abattoir

Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Joe Chiodo
Cover by Joe Chiodo
Purchase

When Black Widow disappears following the trail of a psychic and sadastic killer, Daredevil will have to find his partner before the killer strikes again.

Marvel Graphic Novel #75: Daredevil/Black Widow: Abattoir

Spider-Man Family: Itsy-Bitsy Battles

Written by Todd DeZago, Kevin Grevioux, Nate Piekos, Paul Tobin, Mark Waid
Art by Derec Aucoin, Ray-Anthony Height, Zach Howard, Karl Kesel
Cover by Salvador Espin
Purchase

Collects Spider-Man Family (2007) #7-9.

A heaping helping of timeless tales of Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man! First up, the Looter! This guy found a meteorite that gave him enhanced speed and strength, and the misconception that he’s a genius. (He’s actually dumber than dirt). So WHY is he such a pain to Spidey and the FF? Well, obviously it…oh, wait. I can’t tell you why. Read and find out! Also featuring Iron Man, Iceman, Nick Fury, Marvel Girl, Dr. Octopus and the Hulk!

Spider-Man Family: Itsy-Bitsy Battles

The Sheikh’s Forbidden Virgin Vol. 4: The Royal House of Karedes

Written by Kate Hewitt
Art by Nanao Hidaka
Purchase

Kalila is the princess of Zaraq, a small country in the Middle East. She’s been destined to marry the king of their allied country since she was a child. When she turns of age, it isn’t her groom who picks her up, but his younger brother, Prince Aarif. How could her future husband leave such an important task to someone else? Devasted by the thought of a life without love, Kalila runs away the first chance she gets and ends up lost in a sandstorm. Aarif chases after her, and the sight of him makes Kalila’s body tremble with passion. Sharing a tent, they must weather the sandstorm together…with Kalila’s heart dangerously shaken up!

The Sheikh's Forbidden Virgin Vol. 4: The Royal House of Karedes

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