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Review: Star Trek: The Mirror War #0

Star Trek: The Mirror War #0

In anepisode of Hollywood Masters, the Farrelly Brothers spoke at length about how the wrote characters and how they develop motive. It was quite compelling and offered an interesting way to examine characters as well as stories. The brothers also gave some insight about how gray fictional characters are, but also people in general. It’s the story the determines how certain characters respond. This doubly true when you talk about Star Trek and anything dealing with the Mirror Universe.

That’s what makes Star Trek so compelling. The show delivers so many motivations for characters and even the same character depending on which universe it takes place in. In Star Trek: The Mirror War #0, we catch up with the crew of Enterprise-D shortly after their defeat in the Prime Universe. And that defeat may spell their doom.

Star Trek: The Mirror War #0 opens up on the Enterprise-D crew as the away team is about to board an empty freighter. The crew believe the ship to be automated and easily cannibalized for supplies. What they soon realize is that they’ve fallen into a Cardassian trap barely escaping. It’s a solid opening full of action and makes you believe things can’t get any worse for the Enterprise and her crew. But, they’re called by to Earth to appear before the Emperor setting up an issue full of machinations, assassination attempts, and betrayal.

Overall, Star Trek: The Mirror War #0 is an excellent story set in the Mirror Universe. It’s a debut that’ll have Star Trek fans remember why that setting works so well for the series. The story by David Tipton and Scott Tipton is enthralling. The art by Carlos Nieto and DC Alonso is gorgeous. Altogether, Star Trek: The Mirror War #0 begins a story which ratchets up all the melodrama we have come to expect from these stories.

Story: David Tipton and Scott Tipton Art: Carlos Nieto
Color: DC Alonso Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Universe Collection

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Universe Collection

As far back as I can remember Star Trek has been one of those franchises that always been part of the public imagination. Permeating throughout popular culture, leading to even George Lucas admitting the franchise’s influence on his Star Wars saga.  Even though I watched and enjoyed the original series, the movies including the original cast, and the cartoon series, it was definitely before my time. What really got me pulled into this universe was The Next Generation series.

I remembered the first episode where we met the crew, and of course, Data is who stood out. The other aspect of Star Trek, I have enjoyed are the ever-interesting Mirror Universe episodes, which every show that came after the original series got to has enjoyed, except for ST: TNG. As it would have been an interesting endeavor by the show, giving us a different view of our favorite characters. In David and Scott Tipton’s Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Mirror Universe Collection, we get some wish-fulfillment in a trio of comic stories which shows just how menacing our heroes are in the Mirror Universe.

In “Mirror Broken,”, we’re introduced to the crew of the ISS Stargazer and their insidious captain, Jean Luc Picard and belongs to the once-powerful Terran Empire, and where Vulcans are slaves to the powerful Klingon-Cardassian alliance, which gives Picard the perfect opportunity to assemble the crew we know, but more ominous, to take over the Enterprise and give the Empire an advantage over their enemies with a long-dormant weapon. In “Origin of Data”, we get an interesting side story of how Picard recruited Data to his ranks in this alternate dimension. In “Through the Mirror”, the ISS Enterprise crosses over to the Prime Star Trek universe where they meet the heroes we know and looks to conquer worlds in their dimension, while the mirror universe Picard hatches a plan to infiltrate the Enterprise which leads to a tense standoff between both crews. In “Ripe for Plunder”, Data goes on a solo mission to find Emperor Spock, who was thought to be long dead and reveals long-hidden keys to Picard’s plans. In the last story, “Terra Incognita”, one of the show’s long-endeared characters takes a baleful turn as his evil doppelganger infiltrates the Prime Universe Enterprise crew.

Overall, Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Mirror Universe Collection is an exciting set of stories that play with alternate universes and realities masterfully. The stories by the Tiptons are engrossing and exciting. The art by the creative teams is beautiful. Altogether, a collection that gives more than fan service, as it stretches the imagination and the possibilities, infinite.

Story: Scott Tipton and David Tipton
Art: J.K. Woodward, Charlie Kirchoff, Josh Hood, Marcus To, Chris Johnson, Carlos Nieto, Debora Carita, Tony Shasteen, Angel Hernandez
Color: Jason Lewis, Brittany Peer, Jason Lewis, David Garcia Cruz, Fran Gamboa, Jay Fotos, Jo Mettler, Mark Roberts
Letterer: Andworld Design, Neil Uyetake
Story: 9.8 Art: 9.6 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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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

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Review: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Too Long a Sacrifice

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Too Long a Sacrifice

Rene Auberjonois was one of those actors whose calming voice, steady demeanor, and gravitas made him both inscrutable and mesmeric. I remember watching him as a child on the all time classic, Benson. Looking back now, his character of Clayton, was the Squidworth (Spongebob Squarepants)of that show. He would go on to portray even more memorable characters throughout the rest of his years.

One of my favorite characters that he brought to the screen and much more deserving of his talents was Constable Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His keen eye and sharp mind made for a memorable performance as the lone lawman on this classic iteration of Star Trek. The show pushed on the actors’ strengths, even more so with Auberjonois’s talents. In Constable Odo’s solo adventure he uncovers a mystery. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Too Long a Sacrifice, the character unravels his own Murder on the Orient Express aboard the space station.

We open on Garak and Bashir having lunch, when suddenly a bomb goes off in Lavin’s Eatery, leading Odo to arrive on deck, to investigate. Eight dead bodies are found, leading Odo to question everything, even pondering the possibility that Quark may be a suspect and finding a clue in Rodinum darts. Sisko handles the diplomatic fallout, which pushes Odo to find the truth that much more integral. Everyone on board including Worf has their own suspicions about who is at the center of this deadly massacre, but what doesn’t help, is the consistent accumulation of dead bodies, even those who were suspects. Eventually, he gets help in the form of Inspector Retlaw, of Federation Security, who is also a Betazoid, making him an empath, leading to someone who was seen putting together an arms deal, just days before, Vedek Teler. By book’s end, remnants of past hostilities and avarice of others haunt the guilty party, and Odo to both be empathetic yet firm in his decision to arrest them.

Overall, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Too Long a Sacrifice is a searing crime noir that is only upended by its setting, and its excellent characterization. The story by the Tiptons is superb. The art by the creative team is alluring. Altogether, a story that brings us back to the space station, in this fun murder mystery.

Story: David Tipton and Scott Tipton Art: Greg Scott, Ricardo Drumond, Felipe Sobreiro, and Neil Uyetake
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #276

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #276

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #276 kicks off the first part of “Untold Tales”. Scarlett, Snake-Eyes, and the gang drop down in Abysmia to locate a tech dabbling in poison gas and nuclear material. They meet up with their Abysmia contacts, one who is incredibly versatile with a knife, who more or less clears a path for the Joes to get to their target, only to have her own personal vendetta stand in the way of justice.

I can say I don’t know everything about G.I. Joe and I’m not sure how many stories don’t feature COBRA as the antagonists but there was no hint of that organization within the story. Writer Larry Hama, who has written this series for so long, gives them a break and instead it gives the story a bit more realism, I think. This issue felt very wordy. Even more so when you think that issue 275 was a silent issue. My only bone to pick with this issue was the ending felt very rushed but other than that, the pacing is great for such a story.

Netho Diaz is still doing art on G.I. Joe and with this issue, I thought I saw a few times where his art looked better than normal. He’s got a good hand for detail and in my opinion, is one of the best artists working on a licensed book. I’m glad IDW has an artist of this caliber working on the Joes. There are times when I feel like his art draws a bit of inspiration from the likes of Neal Adams, especially in the facial details. Jagdish Kumar’s coloring is used in a variety of different locations throughout the issue and he helps sell what’s going on within the pages.

I don’t know if “Untold Tales” is going to be a bunch of single-issue stories or if this issue will build onto something much bigger but as far as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #276 goes, it works well as a solo issue story comprised of a good team of Joe favorites. One chapter in, “Untold Tales” is shaping up to be another quality story.

Story: Larry Hama Arti: Netho Diaz
Inks: Jagdish Kumar Color: J. Brown Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.5

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #275

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #275

Who doesn’t love G.I. Joe? Well, I guess some people probably don’t but G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #275 is a big deal and I’ve been reading the series off and on for the last bunch of years. Last issue, COBRA kidnapped a man named Sean Collins, who they think might be the original Snake Eyes and they want to brainwash him to work for them. It sounds like something that might have happened in one of the old cartoons.

But wait, there’s a big twist with the issue that I didn’t see. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #275 calls back to another issue from many years ago, issue 21, or, “Silent Interlude”, in that there are no words. No dialogue. No caption boxes. That means we, the readers, have to piece it together from the art. In removing the dialogue and taking out of my mind the voices of these characters that have been ingrained in it, it actually makes for a rather pleasant read…or viewing.

I think one of the most interesting things about this is that series writer Larry Hama continues to do innovative things with these characters. When I picked up this issue, I had no idea it would be silent. But what is lost in words, this issue certainly makes up with in action. Non-stop, no-holds-barred, all guns blazing. You pick it, it’s what it is. All the big Joes and Cobra guys and gals just blasting each other all throughout a hospital. And it was something you could follow. Does it bug me there’s no dialogue? Eh, not really. I do feel that it would add something substantial to the experience, but having this issue be a silent one does also make for a memorable issue.

The art team on this issue of G.I. Joe had to do a lot of work. Tony Atkins and Netho Diaz create a great action sequence of an issue. I think they do satisfying work on the title. But on a silent issue, the art has to do so much more work to keep the reader invested in what they see and I feel it was mission accomplished in that category. And what’s more, I love seeing their renditions of so many classic characters that I grew up with.

Overall, an issue like this can hit a few different ways. I thought G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #275 was one of the better issues with no words I’ve read. It got me from point A to B and sometimes, or in this case, part 9 to part 10, and what a way to wrap a story. It’s not a perfect issue, but it’s a good one that, I think, pays off for those who have followed Hama’s G.I. Joe comic. It’s not one I’d recommend to a new reader.

Story: Larry Hama Art: Robert Atkins and Netho Diaz
Ink: Brian Atkins and Maria Keane Color: J. Brown Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Good for those who follow the series but not for new readers

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Dungeons & Dragons: At The Spine Of The World #1

Dungeons & Dragons: At The Spine Of The World #1

First off, a bit of a confession. I love the Dungeons & Dragons comics that IDW Publishing has put out and because of that, I jumped at the opportunity to check out the debut ot the latest mini-series, Dungeons & Dragons: At The Spine Of The World #1. I was a bit down on the fact that it wasn’t going to be another series starring Minsc and it was not going to be written by Jim Zub. For the last few years, he’s written the adventures of one of D & D’s best characters. But, I still love D&D and I thought the non-Zub story A Darkened Wish was exciting.

At The Spine Of The World, so far, is a tale thick in chardalyn, a magical rock of high power, and the mining expedition at the Spine Of The World go berserk on their travel to Ten Towns and more-or-less wipe each other out. A member of the Uthgardt clan sworn to protect the mountain comes across the wagon dogs. As they come back to the wreckage of the wagons, a Remorhaz breaks through everything, looking to finish what’s left of the expedition.  From there, it’s a trip to Ten Towns and more trouble, courtesy of the chardalyn.

Part of the fun of these books is seeing what locals or beasts are being used in the story. Getting a town set in Icewind Dale is awesome enough. I’m sure with the Icewind Dale: Rime Of The Frostmaiden campaign being fairly new, it may have been a no-brainer for series writers Aimee Garcia and AJ Mendez to put something together that placed a party within Icewind Dale. They’ve put together a very exciting story with the first issue that feels like a random encounter in a campaign.

My favorite moments with the art was due to the battle. Martin Coccolo’s art was eye-catching in this issue. I loved how the fight between the main characters and the Remorhaz went down. I feel like Coccolo’s detail in his art reminds me a bit of both Andy and Adam Kubert and I mean that as a compliment. He implements a good amount of character detail but nothing too heavy. I wasn’t as impressed with the art when it was a variety of characters just standing around talking. The colors by Katrina Mae Hao were very vibrant. I especially thought the snowy mountain scenes had great color. The 1:25 cover was really superb and well worth checking out.

I love the world that Dungeons & Dragons encompasses and IDW Publishing continues to do right by the properties with their comics. Dungeons & Dragons: At The Spine Of The World #1 has me excited for more issues. There’s something for everyone with these kind of stories and they put a spotlight on folks from all sorts of fantasy walks of life. At The Spine Of The World explodes with a rush of adventure from the get-go and is just the sort of tale any hardened fan of fantasy can enjoy.

Story: Aimee Garcia and AJ Mendez Art: Martin Coccolo
Color: Katrina Mae Hao Letterer: Neil Uyetake Edits: Megan Brown
and David Hedgecock
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.5

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Transformers/Back to the Future #1 (of 4)

Transformers/Back to the Future #1

IDW Publishing has been having fun lately bringing together properties you’d never expect. Much has revolved around the Transformers who have had recent comic miniseries featuring My Little Pony and Ghostbusters. And, both of those have been great with a fun spin on the properties and a crossover that works. The latest adventure for the Transformers takes them through time as Marty McFly and Back to the Future takes center stage. Transformers/Back to the Future #1 kicks things off with a story that works, makes sense, and uses the strength of both properties.

Written by Cavan Scott, Transformers/Back to the Future #1 is the setup to the familiar ending where Marty is told he needs to go and fix the timestream to save everything. The debut issue is full of the familiar in both winks and nods and it’s storytelling. There are scenes directly lifted from the original Back to the Future but done in a way that it sets up what happens and helps introduce that classic film to new readers.

What’s interesting is that Scott just blends the two worlds. This isn’t a story where they’re part of a multiverse or some weird portal like the My Little Pony crossover. Instead, it’s 1984 and the Decepticons and Autobots are on Earth like the classic television series and comics. It just so happens Marty and Doc Brown also live on the world as well and doing their thing. It’s just a simple solution to bring the two properties together and avoids a messy explanation. It also plays a bit with what feels like the original crossover with the Transformers and G.I. Joe. They just so happen to be on the same planet.

Scott delivers a straightforward concept for those that enjoy Back to the Future and the direction from the first issue is simple. And keeping it simple is a good thing. With time travel it can get complicated and here it’s not with motivations that make sense for all. We’re left with similar questions from other films, what needs to be done to fix the timestream and how did it get messed up in the first place? That’s all part of the fun to come.

The art for Transformers/Back to the Future #1 is interesting. The style takes its queues from IDW’s Back to the Future comics with a more comedy/comic style to it. Juan Samu delivers exaggerated characters in the humans which creates a cartoon-like quality about it all. David Garcia‘s colors add to that with an end result that feels a lot like the Back to the Future cartoon. That works for the most part but with the more “serious” aspect of the Transformers, it’s at times a weird mix that leads to some tonal issues for the comic. There’s some comedy but then there’s enslavement? It’s a weird mix and clashes in some ways.

I generally enjoyed Transformers/Back to the Future #1. There’s a fun aspect to it all where it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also knows its material and feels like it revels in switching up some of the roles and aspects in Back to the Future to fit the Transformers in. It’s what comics should be, fun. For fans of both properties, it’ll get you to want to buckle up and go back in time.

Story: Cavan Scott Art: Juan Samu
Color: David Garcia Cruz Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: My Little Pony/Transformers #1


Two properties that I’d not expect to crossover are My Little Pony and Transformers. The exception might be the more kid-friendly Transformers: Cyberverse or Rescue Bots. The concept of robots that turn into things and ponies in the same universe just doesn’t quite jive. Not to mention the fact My Little Pony, in my little experience, doesn’t exactly scream intergalactic civil war, lasers, and death. But, despite being so different, My Little Pony/Transformers #1 actually works!

The story is simple. An evil wizard pony wants allies and through a spell accidentally pulls Decepticons and Autobots through their space bridge into the world of My Little Pony. From there, the battle begins as Decepticons attempt to take over Equestria while the Autobots play their best defense and try to figure out what’s going on.

My Little Pony/Transformers #1 actually features two stories but they’re blended together in a seamless transition that makes it so it’s not noticeable at all. James Asmus handles the first story involving the mashing of worlds while Ian Flynn does the second focused on Arcee who takes on Starscream.

Despite the tonal differences between the two properties, the comic works and works well. The strengths of each are played off of each other and the general “wtf” reaction from everyone makes the story feel a bit more grounded. The characters seem to recognize the silliness of it all in a sort of meta self-awareness.

The violence of the Transformers is downplayed a bit and lets face it, the Decepticons would probably roll through Equestria fairly quickly if they wanted. But instead of the violence we get Starscream’s ego being his downfall and logically preventing a genocide of ponies. He wants the adulation and followers, and needs ponies the achieve that.

The art style of the comic is interesting with Tony Fleecs and Jack Lawrence handling the first and second stories. Their styles are really close to each other so there’s a pretty easy transition from one to the other. The Transformers are adapted to be more in the style of My Little Pony and I think that’s the one thing I don’t enjoy. It’d have been interesting visually to have each kept their distinctive look and style. The tone of the series would be different though and it wouldn’t be as kid-friendly as likely. Visually though, it could have been cool.

Fleecs, Lauren Perry, and Luis Antonio Delgado provide the colors for the comic, and Jake M. Wood and Neil Uyetake handle lettering. The art team really set the tone of the series making it much more geared towards younger readers. A shift in look more towards the Transformers could have made the result feel a bit more adult.

The concept might seem like it shouldn’t work but the team pulls My Little Pony/Transformers #1 off. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and seems to know it’s a bit goofy. But, more importantly, it knows it should just have fun. I never mashed up these toys into battle together as a kid but as an adult I get to see what might have been and escape into some innocent and fun entertainment.

Story: James Asmus, Ian Flynn Art: Tony Fleecs, Jack Lawrence
Color: Tony Fleecs, Lauren Perry, Luis Antonio Delgado Letterer: Jake M. Wood, Neil Uyetake
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Ghostbusters: Year One #1

Ghostbusters: Year One #1

We know the story of the Ghostbusters from numerous films, animated shows, and comics. But, what about that first year in business: Ghostbusters: Year One #1 kicks off the untold stories of our favorite paranormal investigators.

Written by Erik Burnham, Ghostbusters: Year One #1 focuses on the “newest” of the original Ghostbusters, Winston Zeddemore. Framed as an interview with a journalist writing a book, we get to learn some details about his experience joining the team.

Burnham adds in details that fit quite well with what we know. It’s a nice “in addition” as opposed to a retcon. We learn about what Winston was doing before joining the team and even get to see some more of the questions he was asked in his interview. But, most importantly, we learn more about him as a person and how he fit into the group and his training. It’s a great example of expanding a known universe.

The art by Dan Schoening with color by Luis Antonio Delgado is unique and stands out. It’s a style you don’t see elsewhere with a cartoon-like quality about it. Schoening’s style is one that you don’t see elsewhere and it’s hard to describe. There’s a slight homage to the cartoon series but at the same time it’s own style. What’s solid is it works for the ghosts. It doesn’t skew to horror but still fits that genre. Delgado’s colors are key with the ethereal popping from the page. Neil Uyetake‘s lettering is also key in giving the ghosts a voice to themselves through the lettering style.

Ghostbusters: Year One #1 kicks off what feels like could be a fun series. I also expect there’s more to what’s presented. The team has a nice grasp of fitting in new knowledge and deliver enough winks and nods for long-time fans. A must for fans of Ghostbusters or want a good chuckle.

Story: Erik Burnham Art: Dan Schoening
Color: Luis Antonio Delgado Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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