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Review: Superman: Red and Blue #2

Superman: Red and Blue #2

I loved the debut of Superman: Red and Blue. The first issue was such a fresh take on Superman with a delivery that mixed in socio-political issues and the character’s limits and failures. Mixed with beautiful art, it was a debut that forced you to take notice. Superman: Red and Blue #2 is entertaining in its own way but falls far short of that first issue that soared.

There isn’t anything particularly bad about Superman: Red and Blue #2. There are five stories that are all entertaining in their own way. The stories vary in their focus and art style each delivering its own take on the character and his world. But, none of the stories really stand out. They’re entertaining while you read but I didn’t find the issue sticking with me in the same way as the first. It’s a case of starting out with a debut that’s almost “too good”. It’s difficult to match that level of quality.

Superman: Red and Blue #2 has its highlights. The comic debuts and opens with an interesting and emotional take on Clark’s relationship with his parents. It’s one that takes on negative perceptions about adoption and stamps them down.

An entry that pits Lex Luthor against Superman has a tinge of humor that pays homage to past stories. It’s a cute, fun story that I’d love as a backup feature in a Superman comic.

Where the comic stands out is in its varied subject matter. The anthology features stories focused on Martha Kent, Val-Zod, Lex Luthor, a random young girl, and Cyborg Superman. Each story is good in its own way and are worth reading. Superman: Red and Blue #2 is a frustrating comic in a way. All of the stories would be great as backups to a regular running series. But, as an anthology the stories are a bit too different in their subjects and topics and far too often fall into Superman battling something or they fall into predictable cheese.

Superman: Red and Blue #2 is hampered by that amazing first issue. It hasn’t stuck with me as that debut has. It’s not one that I immediately raved about to others. It’s good. It’s an entertaining read to sit back and relax to. But, it doesn’t challenge or do anything really new or interesting with an iconic character. An anthology feels like it presents a way to try something new, not something we’ve seen before.

Story: Steven T. Seagle, Chuck Brown, Dan Panosian, Stephanie Phillips, Jason Howard
Art: Duncan Rouleau, Denys Cowan, John Stanisci, Dan Panosian, Marley Zarcone, Jason Howard
Color: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Pat Brosseau, Dave Sharpe, Rob Leigh, Tom Napolitano
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2

The lead story in Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2 deals with the actual end of the DC Universe, and it’s brilliant, poetic work from writers Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad and artist Jen Bartel. We get to see the final battle between Superman and Darkseid, and it’s epic as hell. However, it’s not the center of the narrative, which is Wonder Woman traveling the universe looking for signs of life and hope and trying to avoid the Undoing. Except for the ending and little glimmers, this whole issue is Diana staring into the abyss and trying to find purpose in a world that doesn’t need saving anymore and is truly in its death throes.

In the first issue, Jen Bartel demonstrated that she could operate on an epic scale in both linework and color palette, and this extends to Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2. Her punches have true power and weight behind them, the lasso finds the truth in the last few characters it entangles, and the contrast between light and shadow in her color palette is operatic, especially in Wonder Woman’s final moments as well as Superman and Darkseid’s. There’s a kind of glow in her trail as she flies across the void of space, past the ruins of the Daily Planet or Brainiac’s ship, that is in direct opposition of the black tendrils of the Undoing. Cloonan and Conrad don’t go deep into The Undoing’s backstory, but they’re the inevitability personified and wipe out the whole Legion of Superheroes in a single page that establishes their universe ending threat level. They’re like “The End” on the last page of a story, and the final pages of Immortal Wonder Woman #2 definitely take on a metafictional quality and set up yet another myth cycle.

Cloonan, Conrad, and Bartel definitely use the lead story of Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2 to deal with weighty philosophical issues, like the purpose (or purposelessness) of life and the effects of revenge, especially when Spectre comes into the picture. The whole Ragnarok/Twilight of the Gods vibe carries through from the previous issue, but with the Undoing, not Darkseid, being responsible for the end of the universe. In the big picture, he’s just a god, not an unknowable cosmic force. These themes and ideas as well as the general scale of Jen Bartel’s visuals truly makes this story feel like it’s a kind of modern mythology instead of using gods from various pantheons as window dressing, comic relief, or public domain action figures.

However, Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jen Bartel don’t forget what makes these myths and legends endure, and that is these heroes’ flaws and recognizable emotions. (For example, young queer people are making Tik Toks about Achilles and Patroclus just like Alexander the Great was writing fan fiction about them two millennia ago.) Bartel does a wonderful job showing Wonder Woman’s emotions throughout the story with many close-ups of her crying, and those tears floating in space to make these panels even more tragic. She also differentiates sad tears like when she witnesses Superman’s death from happy ones like when she finds the Spectre, the last living being. However, Wonder Woman isn’t all sadness in Immortal Wonder Woman #2. There’s a lot of anger too, especially in her last fight, against the Undoing as Cloonan and Conrad’s narration reveal her last thoughts about how she’s a contradictory figure: a warrior, yet peaceful. This ties into the conclusion of the two part storyline, which is quite satisfying, primal, and touches on the nature of immortality in a very cosmological way.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2’s second story, “Nubia”, definitely plays second fiddle to the lead story with writer L.L. McKinney continuing to cram a six issue miniseries’ amount of lore and exposition in six issues. However, she and artists Alitha Martinez and Mark Morales and colorist Emilio Lopez do show Nubia being a hero and kicking ass against the likes of Grail and Circe, who Grail has summoned to get the last artifact: Nubia’s tiara. This artifact is magical, and Grail is more into science so she needs an assist from a sorceress of her own. However, little does she know, that this crown is imbued with magic from the Yoruba goddess, Oshun, and it only strengthens Nubia. But, of course, there is a price, and Nubia still owns Aunt Nancy a favor. McKinney definitely leaves plenty of plot threads and potential supporting players and goddesses on the table for future stories.

But for most of the pages of “Nubia”, McKinney, Martinez, and Morales focus on the task at hand: a battle royale between Nubia, Grail, and Circe. Grail and Circe definitely underestimate their opponent so it’s quite vindicated when she breaks free from their control in an iconic full page image, and then throws, kicks, and punches them in a double page spread. Instead of going the stiff pinup route, Martinez and Morales use the spread to showcase Nubia’s speed and strength using borderless panels for her battle with Grail and the bordered panels for her fight against Circe. The choreography is gorgeous in this sequence as McKinney, Martinez, Morales, and Lopez are all on the same page and cut to the best moves. For example, Nubia ducks under a magic blast from Circe and switches opponents to throw Grail with her super strength before delivering a gut punch to the sorceress. Alitha Martinez’s layout choices give a real flow to the action while Mark Morales accentuates details like Nubia’s shoulder muscles when she hurls Circe into the sky, and Emilio Lopez uses bright primary colors during intense moments like when Circe and Grail struggle to take Nubia’s crown off.

Although, these characters are highly powered, the fight has a personal feel to it culminating in Nubia reinforcing the fact that she’s Wonder Woman, an Amazon warrior, and you can’t take important artifacts from her. L.L. McKinney gives Nubia some great one-liners to show that she’s becoming more confident as a hero and coming into her own as a “Guardian”. The flashback with the different gods might be a little text-heavy, but seeing Nubia break free from a villain who is literally staring her down and saying “Submit” is well worth it. But she doesn’t get a chance to celebrate in the epilogue of this story, and Martinez and Morales draw her with tense body language while setting up another potential arc down the road. I’ve really grown to enjoy Nubia’s courage and determination as well Alitha Martinez’s fight choreography, and I would definitely like to see more stories with this creative team. Having a Nubia limited or ongoing series would also give L.L. McKinney an opportunity to pace out some of her worldbuilding elements as well as her protagonist’s connection to Yoruba mythology and Akan folklore plus the magical/superheroic side of Atlanta in the DC Universe.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2 wraps up with two very different takes on the iconic DC Comics superhero. Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jen Bartel tell an archetypal self-contained story of life and death, hope and despair, and finding purpose when there’s nothing to live for starring Diana Prince. Plus it really captures the range of emotions one would feel before the inevitable end of the universe. In the second story, L.L. McKinney, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, and Emilio Lopez cram in lore, exposition, multiple villains, and one kick-ass fight scene to lay the foundation for future stories featuring Nubia. It’s like a two-hour pilot screaming for a series order whereas the lead story is a beautiful elegy with career-best interior art from Jen Bartel, who masterfully depicts both the cosmic and human.

Story: Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, L.L. McKinney Art: Jen Bartel, Alitha Martinez with Mark Morales
Colors: Jen Bartel, Emilio Lopez Letterer: Pat BrosseauBecca Carey
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

Some Future State stories have dealt with dark, dystopian futures, but the lead story in Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1 takes it a step further with Diana, the remaining Amazons, and an aging Superman fighting to defend Swamp Thing, the Green, and basically the symbol of life on Earth from both Darkseid and the Anti-Life Equation. Writers Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad and spectacular artist Jen Bartel tell a story about fighting a war with love to the bitter end as Diana doesn’t want to fight for the dying Earth and instead start somewhere fresh with Swamp Thing and her sisters, but is overridden by the warlike Amazons as well as Darkseid popping in for one last chance to conquer Earth.

Cloonan and Conrad’s writing in Immortal Wonder Woman #1 can be described as truly poetic and matches the emotion-tinged visual from Bartel. The opening sequence has Diana interacting with a hologram of Batman and meditating on their relationship as part of DC’s Trinity’s with Batman telling her that she’s a true symbol of hope to rally around. However, Diana is also a realist about what’s going as she wistfully sees a star blink out of existence, and the story cuts to Apokolips where Darkseid realizes the end aka the Anti-Life Equation is near and abandons his empire, son Orion, and follower Big Barda and immediately heads to Earth. Bartel does a great job of contrasting the Amazons’ perspective of Earth with its reality using an almost beach vacation color palette for when the Amazons decide to defend the planet from an unknown threat to using a dark and rusty one for when Darkseid flies through space to the “husk”.

Jen Bartel is known for beautiful character design and capturing deep emotion out of her figures, but she can also draw one hell of a fight scene when Diana and Darkseid finally throw down with again Superman having one heroic moment and then getting flattened. She channels her inner Jack Kirby with colorful explosions and speed lines every time Darkseid lands a blow, or Diana kicks the Apokoliptian tyrant or gets a grip on him with her lasso. Bartel also uses interesting (or heartbreaking) panel shapes like when she lays one out that looks just like Darkseid’s Omega sanction and ends in a stark, panel of skulls on a stark background. On a more macro-level, Cloonan and Conrad keep the objective of the battle high, yet simple, Diana, the Amazons, and Superman have to protect Swamp Thing from Darkseid and the Anti-Life Equation for a chance at filling Earth (or maybe a new planet) with life again. The stakes of this comic are literally life and death.

The first story in Immortal Wonder Woman #1 is a Ragnarok for the DC Universe courtesy of Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jen Bartel, who makes everyone look epic, pretty, and/or war worn while nailing the look and color palette of utter cosmic darkness too. It’s the last of the old gods battling the embodiment of utter evil with only a small chance for rebirth in the form of Swamp Thing, who is given a frail form and halting speech patterns. It’s also a masterclass in pacing with Cloonan and Conrad getting to the emotional breaking point before hitting that “To Be Continued” with literal tears streaming in the last panel that Bartel draws.

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1

The second story in Immortal Woman #1 is written by LL McKinney with art from Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, and Emilio Lopez, is set earlier in the Future State timeline, and features Nubia, an Amazon who has taken up the mantle of Wonder Woman while an off-panel Diana is queen of Themiscyra. Like the lead story, its plot has a world-ending conflict as Grail, the daughter of Darkseid, is stealing parts of an artifact connected to various gods that if put together could rip a hole in time and space. Most of this is explained in many expository text boxes by McKinney, who seems to be trying to fit a 4-6 issue miniseries in two issues.

A feeling of being overstuffed aside, “Nubia” is not without its charms. Martinez and Morales are veteran storytellers, who excel at everything from an exciting bout of close quarters combat between Grail and Nubia with a poster-worthy splash of the protagonist saying, “I am Wonder Woman” to capturing Nubia’s pained facial expressions when Aunt Nancy asks her for a favor in return for helping her solve the mystery behind these artifact thefts. Speaking of Aunt Nancy, McKinney’s background writing YA urban fantasy comes in handy with some of the little world-building touches like having her run a night club called the Ebony Web with a spider on the door and with a (quite handsome) minotaur bouncer. With her punnish name, knowledge of almost everything, and propensity for single malt whisky, Aunt Nancy has a lot of personality and would be an intriguing permanent edition to Nubia’s supporting cast, or the Wonder Woman side of the DC Universe as it’s good to see a god from West African folklore pop up. Also, I think this might be the first time that the wonderful city of Atlanta has popped up in a DC comic that I’ve read.

However, Nubia’s heroism and Aunt Nancy’s charisma don’t completely make up for a story that is mostly telling and not showing with L.L. McKinney basically undercutting the two page vision that Alitha Martinez and Mark Morales draw earlier in the story by explaining it all in a wall of text. On more of a new reader front, she also doesn’t really introduce Grail except that’s she strong (By defeating Nubia in combat.), generically evil, and wants the artifacts. If I hadn’t (unfortunately) read Geoff Johns’ Justice League run, I wouldn’t know that she was Darkseid’s daughter and basically the Anti-Life version of Wonder Woman. I mean, this is the comic book equivalent of a two episode mini Big Bad arc on a CW show so we don’t need a super deep villain, but including this context could deepen the threat against Nubia and reality. I really wanted to like the Nubia story and look forward to McKinney’s graphic novel take on the character, but it was disappointed and definitely felt like a first published comic.

Overall, Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1 has one strong, epic story and another story with potential that it doesn’t fully live up to that also shows the difficulty of transitioning from prose fiction to comics. However, this book is definitely worth picking up for Jen Bartel’s career best take on the final battle between good and evil in the DC Universe with punches that make galaxies trembles and facial expressions that will make you tear up while Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad write a Diana, who is trying to cling onto hope in an utterly no-win situation.

Story: Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, L.L. McKinney
Art: Jen Bartel, Alitha Martinez with Mark Morales
Colors: Jen Bartel, Emilio Lopez
Letterer: Pat Brosseau, Becca Carey
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Jughead’s Diner

JUGHEAD’S DINER (TP)

Script: Dan Parent, Bill Golliher
Art: Dan Parent, Bill Golliher, Pat Kennedy, Pat Brosseau
978-1-64576-977-4
$7.99 US
5 ¼ x 8”
128 pp, Full Color
Digital-Exclusive Release Date: 11/25

Jughead is transported to another dimension where he tries to help the bizarre and eclectic patrons of Dinerville keep their property from the clutches of the dastardly real estate agent Slimy Sal Monella! Grab a magic stool and dive into the quirky world of Jughead’s Diner in this complete collection of the classic ‘90s series!

JUGHEAD’S DINER (TP)

Review: American Carnage #1

American Carnage #1

Hate is one of those things that human beings have felt since the beginning of time. What has changed as of recent is that certain types of hate have become more acceptable. What was abhorred only a few years ago has been encouraged by certain people in power. The 2016 election and what has happened since has shown that America has not made any real progress from the founding of our country.

Certain hate groups have found themselves to be not so much “true” villains anymore. Morals have truly become divided along party lines.  Which brings me to question would someone or anyone who believes in hate be considered a “good person”? In the debut issue of brilliantly crafted American Carnage, writer Bryan Edward Hill and the creative team seeks to explore those lines of divide as an FBI agent goes undercover in a Neo Nazi group.

We open on FBI Agent Curry where she is testifying before an ethics board on the incident which led to her injuries. We soon find out a Neo-Nazi group terrorized a family Curry had befriended as the domestic terrorists firebombed their home with them in it. We also meet a former FBI Agent, Richard Wright, who now works as a private detective. Curry tries to convince Wright that there is something more sinister to a local politician. While it might seem on the surface nothing is there there’s clearly something brewing.

Overall, an excellent debut issue that drops you into a world that is unfortunately way too familiar. The story by Hill is excellent. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a sobering looks at the ugliness hiding in plain sight.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Wonder Woman #759 Gets a Second Printing

This week, the debut of Eisner award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki on Wonder Woman #759 took the comic book world by storm! This breakthrough issue sold out fast, and DC is making sure that anyone that missed getting it the first time around gets another shot, as the book heads back to press for a second printing, arriving at comic book stores Tuesday, August 18.

Tamaki’s compelling narrative and stunning art by Mikel Janin delivered a story combining Hollywood blockbuster-level action with sublime moments like meeting new neighbors (moving into a new apartment never looked so good), plus the return of Maxwell Lord!

This second printing features a recolored version of the original cover with spectacular art by Batman/Superman artist David Marquez; the story by Tamaki and Janin, also features colors by Jordie Bellaire and letters by Pat Brosseau.

Tamaki and Janin return to continue Diana’s new adventures, revealing more of the story behind Maxwell Lord and clues to an all-new villain for Diana to face in Wonder Woman #760, on sale Tuesday, August 11.

Wonder Woman #759 2nd printing

Dead Body Road Drops the Clutch in May for a New Story Arc, “Bad Blood”

Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment kicks the action into gear with the return of fan favorite miniseries Dead Body Road by Justin Jordan, featuring new series artist Benjamin Tiesma, colorist Mat Lopes, and letterer Pat Brosseau. The action-packed, six-issue series—Bad Blood—will hit comic shops this May and feature covers by Matteo Scalera and Moreno Dinisio.

In Dead Body Road: Bad Blood, Bree Hale has left a lot behind in her life. Crime. The military. But she can’t leave behind her own family, and when the local crime boss puts a hit out on her brother, there’s nothing she won’t do to save him. Absolutely nothing.

John Wick meets Southern Bastards in this pulse-pounding action series—set to deliver an explosive tale of revenge like you’ve never seen before!

Dead Body Road: Bad Blood #1 (Diamond Code MAR200042) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, May 20.

Dead Body Road: Bad Blood #1

Take One Last Adventure with Crone this November

Dark Horse Comics invites you on a quest for blood and vengeance that is equal parts Unforgiven and Xena: Warrior Princess.

The Sword Saviour and Champion of Men once known as Bloody Bliss is now nothing more than a reclusive old Crone. When an old enemy returns, Bliss is once more needed to save the Three Kingdoms but does she have the strength to answer the call? Only Dennis Culver and Justin Greenwood know for sure!

Joining Dennis and Justin on this epic adventure are colorist Brad Simpson, and letterer Pat Brosseau. Together they craft a tale never seen before in the fantasy genre.

Crone #1 (of five) reawakens the fierce warrior inside us all on November 6, 2019.

Crone #1

Review: American Carnage #1

DC’s Vertigo is imprint with numerous brand new series and a new vision and direction. American Carnage is one of the new releases telling the story of an ex-FBI agent who goes undercover to infiltrate a white supremacist group.

American Carnage #1 is by Bryan Edward Hill, Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Pat Brosseau.

Get your copy in comic shops now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: American Carnage #1

Out this week is American Carnage #1, one of the new series that’s part of DC ComicsVertigo relaunch.

In this thrilling crime saga, disgraced FBI agent Richard Wright, who is biracial but can pass for white, goes undercover in a white supremacist group believed to be responsible for the death of a fellow agent.

The series is by Bryan Hill, Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, Pat Brosseau, Maggie Howell, and Andy Khouri.

You can pre-order the comic now from your local comic shop now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online.

 

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review

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