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Review: Armorclads #5

Armorclads #5

It’s Alphan Armorclads vs. the Legionnaires’ guerrilla tactics with the Ironclads caught in the crossfire in Armorclads #5! With the Citadel under assault from all sides, it’s going to take more than luck to rescue Peris and escape in one piece. With the Legionnaires unveiling their secret weapon, will the Citadel fall before the Ironclads can fight their way out?

The last two issues of Armorclads have effectively just been a rather large combat scene with giant mechs battling it out with humans and monsters; writers JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccalleto are more than capable of pulling something like this off, and do so while leaving enough threads hanging for the second arc/series that will inevitably be hitting in the future.

The plot in the comic is pretty simple, with the Iron Clads aiming to rescue Peris from the director amidst the chaos, which does end up with one of the more eyebrow raising moments in the series as Peris seems to have developed some form of Stockholm Syndrome with the director – though this is largely based around the ancient mech that they had discovered might work for the captured youth (at this point the mech has basically become another Chekov’s gun situation). This marks one of the downsides of the series as the dialogue around the exchange seems a little hokey compared to what we’ve seen in the series already, but ultimately it’s not enough to really break your immersion in the story.

I’m going to repeat what I said last issue, about the artwork, because it’s still just as relevant given the setting hasn’t shifted locations at all; “The artwork, once again, is wonderfully suited to what you’re seeing on the page. Gone are the lush vistas and vibrant colours, however, replaced with a harsh rock and urban landscape bathed in greys and browns, lit primarily by explosions and missile blasts. The comic’s artistic team, penciller Manuel Garcia, inker Raul Fernandez, colourist Rex Lokus, and letterer Dave Sharpe, deliver yet another visual experience that grabs you by the collar and shakes your tired self for attention. There are a lot of names credited to this book, and each one of them deserves praise.”

Armorclads #5 isn’t the conclusion I had hoped for, given the number of threads left dangling, but it’s still going to be a satisfying enough ending to the first trade; here’s hoping the next part won’t take too long to turn up.

Writers: JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Manuel Garcia Inker: Raul Fernandez Colourist Rex Lokus Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 7.8 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

SDCC 2022: Dynamite and Immortal Studios Announce Publishing Partnership

Ahead of San Diego Comic-Con, Dynamite has announced a new publishing partnership with Immortal Studios, to bring the Los Angeles-based publisher’s shared universe of Wuxia martial arts-fantasy comic books to the broader marketplace. Through the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, the Los Angeles-based publisher Immortal Studios has to date successfully funded three comic book series as part of a larger shared universe. Now Dynamite is set to bring these action packed titles to the direct market comic stores, digital vendors, bookstores, and beyond in multiple formats, with more releases and titles to come.

Immortal Studios’ Storyverse is spearheaded by the company’s Founder and CEO Peter Shiao, who is collaborating with a team of comic book storytellers to bring a modern sensibility to the Wuxia genre that has influenced contemporary pop culture, including Marvel’s Shang-Chi, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Matrix, and Star Wars, as well as countless anime and manga like Naruto. Wuxia, pronounced “woo-sha,” is a long running genre born from China that depicts the adventures and trials of martial arts heroes, often but not always in historical settings and with fantasy elements. The Immortal Studios’ Storyverse is inspired by the storytelling of one of the foremost authors in the Wuxia genre, Peter Shiao’s father Shiao Yi, whose novels have been adapted into film and television more than thirty times, including films by the Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest. 

Immortal Studios’ titles include:

  • The Adept by writers Tasha Huo, Charlie StickneyAlison Norrington, and Peter Shiao, artist Yishan Li, and letterer Deron BennettThe Adept tells the deep and personal story of a young woman on a journey to master an ancient martial art that was thought to be long lost. Filled with action, transformation, and mystery, the key theme is about homecoming and redemption. Two action-packed chapters have been produced to date, featuring kidnapped pop stars, arcade brawls, and more.
  • Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsman by writer Peter Shiao, artists Pop Mhan and Jheremy Raapack, colorist Rex Lokus, and letterer Deron Bennett. In this series, protagonist Phil Du escapes his struggles through parkour and online gaming. But when he’s suddenly pulled into an ancient order of supernatural warriors amidst a civil war and cataclysm, he will have to step up to his destiny.
  • Fa Sheng: Origins is created by Peter Shiao, written by Rylend Grant, illustrated by Dexter Wee, colored by Omi Remalante Jr., and lettered by Deron Bennett. The tale chronicles the humble beginnings of a great Shaolin Master. The series is written by Rylend Grant, a screenwriter, author, and Ringo Award-winning comic book creator who is also an ordained Soto Zen Buddhist monk.The series is recommended for fans of films based on the story of Ip Man, including the eponymous series and The Grandmaster.
  • Assassin G by writer Jen Troy and artist He Tao, featuring coloring by Hi-Fi Design and lettering by AndWorld Design. This summer Immortal Studios will launch a Kickstarter campaign for this new series, from the CW’s Supergirl TV series writer Jen Troy, about the deadly saga of vengeance between warring factions in the martial underworld in the early 1980s. The novel that inspired Assassin G by Wuxia master Shiao Yi, 甘 19 妹 (Gan the 19th Sister), is known as one of the preeminent IPs in the Chinese speaking world which has been adapted for television four times, and this new series will mark the story’s first comic book and English language adaptation. The Assassin G Kickstarter pre-launch page for the campaign is now live

Immortal Studios feature a range of variant covers from the likes of Gene Ha, Jim Cheung, Ming Doyle, Gian Gulang, Joyce Chin, and more. Other talents and staff behind the curtains include former longtime DC Comics editor Brian Cunningham and team members with experience at Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, 20th Century Fox, and more.

More details to come!

Review: Armorclads #4

Armorclads #4

The only thing standing between the Ironclads and rescuing their kidnapped friend, Peris, is the Citadel, the most heavily-fortified location on Xeru, the army of Armorclads guarding it, and the battle raging between the Citadel’s forces and an army of Legionnaires. Is this the end of the line, or have they come too far to turn back now? Find out in Armorclads #4!

Writers JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccalleto know how to write a good battle, and because that’s essentially what this entire comic comprises of (or at least 90% of it), you’re in for a treat. There’s no real world building in this issue, not a huge amount of characterization, but there is a lot of destruction. It’s just the kind of book that you should be looking for when you don’t want to think a whole lot – of course the reason you don’t need to think too much is because O’Connor and Buccalleto have spent the previous issues building to what we’re seeing here, which means Armorclads #4 is the payoff we’ve been waiting for since the first issue hinted that mechs will battle mechs. Being the penultimate issue means there’s no need to force loose ends to wrap up, and instead we can just enjoy the chaos and explosions as the young group of Ironclads try to rescue their kidnapped friend.

The artwork, once again, is wonderfully suited to what you’re seeing on the page. Gone are the lush vistas and vibrant colours, however, replaced with a harsh rock and urban landscape bathed in greys and browns, lit primarily by explosions and missile blasts. The comic’s artistic team, penciller Manuel Garcia, inker Raul Fernandez, colourist Rex Lokus, and letterer Dave Sharpe, deliver yet another visual experience that grabs you by the collar and shakes your tired self for attention. There are a lot of names credited to this book, and each one of them deserves praise.

Armorclads #4 begins to bring the story to its conclusion, but after this issue all I can say is I want more. More mech battles, more details on the world’s history that we’ve only begun to scratch into, and more of the spunky Ironclads who are too stubborn to know when they’re outclassed. Thankfully there’s another issue next month.

Writers: JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Manuel Garcia Inker: Raul Fernandez Colourist Rex Lokus Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.2 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Armorclads #3

Armorclads #3

The Governor reveals his plans for Peris but what does it have to do with the ‘Lost Suits’? Meanwhile, the remaining Outpost 12 Ironclads realize they’ll need some upgrades if they’re going to free Peris — and their entire planet — from the Alphans. This revolution will not be televised but you can read about it in Armorclads #3!

Writers JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccalleto explore the world beyond the remote planet that the first two issues were based on as Peris is taken to meet the Governor. With the name has some somewhat sinister connotations in the comic sphere thanks to The Walking Dead, O’Connor and Buccalleto play up to the association of the name. Through the Governor, we get a bit more exposition on this sphere of the Valiant Universe; there are brief glimpses of the Alphan’s planet, and an all-to-brief dip of the toe into a deep history that we’ll probably see teased out in future issues. Armorclads #3 doesn’t fall into the pattern we saw in the previous issues of untrained kids in non-combat mechs taking out enemies that trained soldiers in combat mechs couldn’t fight, which is a plus, though those same kids do feature in the pages of this comic as they make some changes to their mechs.

When it comes to the artwork, I said this about the artistic team’s work in the first two issues;

“The comic’s artistic team, penciller Manuel Garcia, inker Raul Fernandez, colourist Rex Lokus, and letterer Dave Sharpe, really give the book a visual identity that emphasizes the alien nature of Xeru whilst keeping it oddly familiar at the same time. Armorclads #1 looks like a dream; there’s really nothing I can say about what the artistic team have delivered that is anything less than positive. There’s lush vistas, technological backgrounds that aren’t overly flashy or beyond comprehensive, and creatures that are equal parts alien and familiar in their buglike creepiness.”

That paragraph is still true and consequently still applies to this issue. That said, rather than leaving it there, because we got to see a new locale with the story’s progression, I wanted to reiterate just how wonderful the team are here. There’s a brilliant that’s remarkably simple when you look at what is included in the backgrounds – Garcia has kept things relatively minimal and Lokus doesn’t over fill the blank space with shading and various colours; he keeps things minimal which allows you to focus on what’s being shown on the page.

Armorclads #3 is good; it’s really good. The setting isn’t something I would usually aim for in my reading, and if it wasn’t for the fact it was a Valiant book I’d probably not have read it. If nothing else, the series is helping this crotchety old man expand his reading horizons.

Writers: JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Manuel Garcia Inker: Raul Fernandez Colourist Rex Lokus Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.2 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Armorclads #2

Armorclads #2

What happens after a mission goes completely FUBAR? With Sam and SGT Troy dead, the Major is determined to get to the bottom of what went wrong in Outpost 12. With the Outpost split up, the fates of several Ironclad workers hang in the balance as the mystery of Alpharon continues to build. In Armorclads #2, can our disenfranchised heroes claim agency and take back some measure of control?

I had a distinct feeling of familiarity when reading the first few pages of this book, and it wasn’t until I opened the first issue that I realized why; I’d forgotten I had read the first five or so pages on a free preview. That said, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience getting the refresher (it just wasn’t my most observant moment, honestly was it?). Despite my constant claim of not preferring sci fi/space based stories in comics, I find myself enjoying the opening of Armorclads quite a bit. JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccalleto are consistent from the previous issue, and carry that comic’s spirit of a middle finger raised in an anti-corporate salute. This issue sees the lowly Armorclads at the mercy of military justice after they left their commanding officer to die (in their defence the officer’s unwilling sacrifice did allow the others to survive), and they end up facing a not entirely dissimilar situation – while it makes sense within the context of the comic, I’m hoping that the pattern doesn’t repeat for a third issue because that could easily lead to a predictability in the series that I’d like to see it avoid.

Last issue, I said this about the artistic team;

“The comic’s artistic team, penciller Manuel Garcia, inker Raul Fernandez, colourist Rex Lokus, and letterer Dave Sharpe, really give the book a visual identity that emphasizes the alien nature of Xeru whilst keeping it oddly familiar at the same time. Armorclads #1 looks like a dream; there’s really nothing I can say about what the artistic team have delivered that is anything less than positive. There’s lush vistas, technological backgrounds that aren’t overly flashy or beyond comprehensive, and creatures that are equal parts alien and familiar in their buglike creepiness.”

I was going to rewrite that paragraph, or rephrase it, because it is still true and still applies to this issue (and because my brain is tired and I can’t think of anything more to write about the art…. I’m taking the easy way out).

Armorclads #2 remains a happy diversion from life for the ten or so minutes it’ll take you to read. Ultimately, I can’t ask for more than that.

Writers: JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Manuel Garcia Inker: Raul Fernandez Colourist Rex Lokus Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: DC vs. Vampires #6

DC vs. Vampires #6

Who is the Vampire King!? We’re at the halfway point and DC vs. Vampires #6 delivers action, tragedy, and reveals as Batman and his team are hunted and we find out who is calling all of the shots. DC vs. Vampires might seem like a silly concept but each issue has delivered in every way making it one of the most fun, and one of my, most anticipated comics each month.

DC’s vampire nation has had enough and has made moves to finally become the top of the food chain. Someone has taken over and is calling the shots, slowly recruiting heroes and villains and turning them to the cause.

Written by James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg, DC vs. Vampires #6 continues the brilliance of the series that keeps you guessing as to who’s a vampire and who can be trusted. Each comic is infused with paranoia that leaves readers unsure as to where it’s all going to go.

As a standalone series, Tynion and Rosenberg are free to do whatever works which means heroes and villains being killed and we’re talking some pretty high profile names. No one feels like they’re safe in this series which just adds to the fun. The creators leave it so you truly have no idea what’s coming next.

And that’s especially true for DC vs. Vampires #6. Not only do we get the reveal as to who the Vampire King is but the issue also leaves us with an idea of the greater plan. With those last few pages and panels, we get an idea of the enormity of the story and what felt like a low level “street fight” that was seeing escalation quickly turns into something much grander.

The art continues to be solid. Otto Schmidt, Simone Di Meo, Daniele Di Nicuolo, and Rex Lokus work together to deliver a style that fits both it’s superhero roots as well as its horror genre. It balances things perfectly and captures every detail with flair and excitement. There’s also something about the art that nails down the tragedy and desperation of this issue. There’s some iconic moments that are memorable and it all stands out. Tom Napolitano‘s lettering stands out as well. There’s a lot of dialogue as heroes beg and plead with their turned friends in hope of getting through to them. There’s also a hell of an emphasis on a certain page when the Vampire King is revealed. The art and lettering are perfect.

DC vs. Vampires #6 is another fantastic issue for the series. It keeps you guessing and when events play out or things are revealed, it’ll leave your jaw hanging open. It has me excited to see where the latter half of the series goes as the issue is clearly the low point that our heroes will need to climb out of to save the day… if they can.

Story: James Tynion IV, Matthew Rosenberg
Art & Color: Otto Schmidt, Simone Di Meo, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Rex Lokus Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Armorclads #1

Armorclads #1

As warring nations in a different solar system are locked in a continuing battle for supremacy wielding advanced exoskeletal known as Armorclads, a new rebellion is about to be sparked when one of the genetically engineered workers in construction-class mechs called Ironclads is killed. Now, by taking the fight to their oppressors, the Ironclads including Peris, Lela and Jac will soon discover a destiny defined by legacy.

I’ll be completely honest here – I always think that I am not the biggest fan of sci fi stories, armoured suits and the like generally don’t do it for me, but almost every time I read a comic set off planet I find myself enjoying it. Whether that’s because it’s a new flavour for my palette or I am a secret sci fi fan I honestly have no idea, but almost every time I come across a sci fi comic book I find something to like about it. With Armorclads #1 it’s not the art (which is fantastic), or the plot of the comic, but rather the very subtle middle finger to authority that writers JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccalleto have simmering just behind every page.

There’s a sense of rage and rebellion to the pages, and much to my surprise, it has transformed what I assumed (hoped?) would be a good comic into a really damn good one. Given how both the US and Canada (I’d say “the world” but honestly I’m not sure I want to make such a broad claim) seems to be learning that not only do workers have rights, but that in some cases if you lose those workers then you’re a little screwed on your bottom line, Armorclads #1 is a remarkably timely comic. As I hinted at earlier, the story of the comic is also really good, and will easily hold up on future readings in years to come, and focuses on a group of miners on a distant planet named Zeru who are about to become embroiled in a more than they would ever bargain for.

O’Connor and Buccalleto embue the characters with a sense of camaraderie that doesn’t feel forced at all, and will likely be familiar to any who have at least a passing familiarity with working in the trades or friends who do; the miners are a tight knit group, and it shows. The closeness of the characters drives the story, with everything that flows from the opening pages making complete sense within the context that we’ve been shown over the 20 odd pages of the comic.

The comic’s artistic team, penciller Manuel Garcia, inker Raul Fernandez, colourist Rex Lokus, and letterer Dave Sharpe, really give the book a visual identity that emphasizes the alien nature of Xeru whilst keeping it oddly familiar at the same time. Armorclads #1 looks like a dream; there’s really nothing I can say about what the artistic team have delivered that is anything less than positive. There’s lush vistas, technological backgrounds that aren’t overly flashy or beyond comprehensive, and creatures that are equal parts alien and familiar in their buglike creepiness.

Armorclads #1 is a rush, and serves to remind us all of why Valiant should always be on your radar whenever they’re releasing a new series.

Writers: JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Manuel Garcia Inker: Raul Fernandez Colourist Rex Lokus Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Armorclads #1

Armorclads #1

Written by JJ O’CONNOR & BRIAN BUCCELLATO
Art by MANUEL GARCÍA
Inks by RAÜL FERNÁNDEZ
Colors by REX LOKUS
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by BAGUS HUTOMO
Variant Covers by MARCO MASTRAZZO & JEREMY ROBERTS
Pre-order Cover by KAEL NGU
Distressed Metal 1/250 Variant by LIVIO RAMONDELLI, designed by TRAVIS ESCARFULLERY
On sale March 23rd | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Explore a brand new corner of the Valiant Universe!

In a different solar system, advanced mechs known as Armorclads are used to fight wars and build worlds. On Xeru, genetically engineered workers live out their short lives mining a valuable mineral called The Pure in construction-class mechs known as Ironclads. When one of their own is killed, the Ironclads’ world is turned upside down and they defy their oppressors. Along the way, they’ll discover they’re embroiled in a mystery dating back centuries that could change the world forever—as long as they band together.

Armorclads #1

Review: I Am Batman #5

I Am Batman #5

I love John Ridley‘s work. His run with this new take on Batman has been fantastic delivering something new and different. We know, Jace’s Batman will be heading to New York City to start a whole new direction, so, does the end of this arc leading up to that stick the landing? Sadly no. I Am Batman #5 has some historic moments but overall those fall a bit short in an issue that feels too rushed and missing Ridley’s usual character focus.

Jace is up against the next iteration of the Magistrate’s program which is being helped by his father’s technology. Things don’t look good and the issue does a solid job of delivering a fight where Batman feels overpowered. But, it all feels like beats to get us to the latter part of the issue where the real impact is meant.

Up to this point, Jace has generally kept his lower mouth covered. He was Batman not “Black Batman”. Removed only once (might be twice) this was a series about a hero attempting to find himself and doing things his way, not the way of Bruce Wayne’s Batman. Here, the fight is a tough one causing his lower mask to be shattered revealing his skin color to his pursuers, including his father.

This should be a moment with a lot of heft to it. Ridley is amazing at delivering that punch and forcing the reader and viewer to dive deeper than the initial moment. In this case, a police force is the cause of this sort-of unmasking. White officers revealing the identity of their Black suspect feels like it should be more of a thing, but it sort of putters. It feels like there should be deeper meaning or a deeper moment to that, but it doesn’t land.

That moment is saved for later as Jace and his father Lucius have a discussion each with cards on the table. There we get the statement of the impact of a Black Batman, what that means and how powerful it can be. The reader is told this is important instead of it being shown to be important. It deflates the moment in some ways taking what should be an iconic image and making it something a little less. There’s almost too much thrown in as Lucius also discusses his own struggles and how he himself can help raise awareness and remove the stigma of mental health. It’s important but like the face reveal feels kind of thrown in.

Things aren’t helped by the art. Christian Duce, Juan Ferreyra, and Laura Braga all contribute to the art. Unfortunately, their styles are so different the switch stands out. It’s jarring and there’s no reason storywise for it to happen. While I read, it took me out of the story the three are so different in their delivery. None really nail down those “moments” either. The art isn’t bad and the series has generally staid away from the typical Batman poses but this is an issue where it could have really been used and used in poetic ways to visually have Jace standing up as Batman who happens to be Black not Black Batman. The trio are joined by Rex Lokus on color and Troy Peteri on lettering.

I Am Batman #5 unfortunately falls short of what it could be. This is an issue that could plant a flag that there’s a Batman that’s not Bruce Wayne and not White. This is a new Batman going off in his own direction and who is an icon for multiple reasons. Instead, the issue feels rushed attempting to wrap up its initial storyline, giving us an important moment between father and son, and setting up the next arc. None of that really gets the amount of time it needs. It’s an unusual stumble for Ridley and hopefully one that lasts just this one issue.

Story: John Ridley Art: Christian Duce, Juan Ferreyra, Laura Braga
Color: Rex Lokus Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Valiant Reveals Armorclads

Join the battle to restore the flame of honor, justice and order. Valiant Entertainment has revealed Armorclads, an epic boundary breaking new series. Armorclads is created by JJ O’Connor and co-written with Brian Buccellato. It features art by Manuel Garcia, colors by Rex Lokus, and lettering by Dave Sharpe.

Armorclads introduces a grand sci-fi rebellion waged with advanced mechs, promising to uncover long buried secrets of the Valiant Universe and fulfill a destiny defined by legacy. 

In a different solar system, advanced mechs known as Armorclads fight wars and build worlds. Genetically engineered workers on Xeru use construction-class mechs to mine a valuable mineral called The Pure. When one of their own is killed and their world is thrown into chaos, the workers defy their oppressors… and may discover a mystery dating back centuries that could change the world – as long as they band together.

Armorclads is a blockbuster series about the everyday champion. The highly anticipated Year of Valiant delivers the first new launch with Armorclads #1 set to release on March 23rd, 2022 and features covers by Bagus Hutomo, Kael Ngu and Marco Mastrazzo

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