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Review: Jesusfreak

Jesusfreak

The year is 26 C.E. A young Nazarean carpenter is having some trouble adjusting to the violent world around him-and finding his place within it. He knows he’s different, but he doesn’t know why. Not yet, anyway.

Take some kung-fu, mix in a little 70s exploitation films, stir some of the Bible, and you get Jesusfreak, a gonzo take on Jesus Christ.

The comic is a mix of over the top insanity and sort of “grounded” Biblical tale that mixes into a comic that feels like it’s not quite sure what it wants to be.

Writer Joe Casey and artist Benjamin Marra go back and forth between a story that’s a spin on the Biblical story we know and something else. That something else is a kung-fu infused action/adventure featuring giant lizard people and a style that’s a bit 70s exploitation. It never quite commits one way or another and without doing so never quite gels in a way that makes sense. Aspects seem to come out of nowhere and never quite explained like there’s pages missing to the story.

Marra’s art, with color by Brad Simpson and lettering by Rus Wooton is good. The art style really helps deliver that retro feel to it all. There’s some odd art here and there (one panel has Jesus’ finger looking like they’re broken as he performs kung-fu) but there’s a charm to it all that makes it entertaining. One also can’t overlook the fact that Jesus isn’t white and those depicted are of a darker complexion as they should be.

There’s a lot of potential here but the comic never quite commits as to what it wants to be. It’s entertaining in a pulp/grindhouse sort of way but at times it feels like it wants to be serious and other times it wants to be something like a John Carpenter film. With a bit more focus, the story would be amazing and a lot of fun. As is, it feels like it’s unsure as to what it wants to be much like the Jesus it depicts.

Story: Joe Casey Art: Benjamin Marra
Color: Brad Simpson Letterer: Rus Wooton Design: Sonia Harris
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Die!Die!Die! #6

Die! Die! Die! #6

I read the first issue of this series and while I enjoyed it, it also felt like it was an over the top violent series whose violence is the draw. It was Bond mixed with Tarantino where it’s not enough to dispatch the enemy, it’s about how you do it. Does the head explode? What instrument do you use to stab?

Die!Die!Die #6 had an opportunity to bring in new readers in a week where there’s not much on the shelves and instead of a solid entry point, we’re delivered an issue deep into the story with a rather confusing plot and too many references not explained. Die!Die!Die #6 is for those already in the know and reading the series.

Robert Kirkman and Scott M. Gimple deliver an issue that’s an origin of sorts but has so many sidetracks it’s hard to stay focused an interested. Instead of just delivering on an origin, that’d be a draw, it meanders through the grand conspiracy that only really makes sense if you’ve read the previous five issues.

There is a lot that’s great here though and that’s what’s frustrating. Instead of just focusing on one or two aspects the issue packs too much in with too little explanation. We get the “origin” of the “Beatles kids” and that alone should have been the focus of the issue. But, we also get agents in the field and bits about political jockeying. There’s a bit too much and the comic comes off as unfocused.

The art by Chris Burnham with color by Nathan Fairbairn, and lettering by Rus Wooton is solid. There’s brothers involved, quadruplets actually, and each is given a style unto themselves to differentiate them. There’s the expected blood and gore and all together the art creates a stage that defies the violent and twisted content within. And that seems to be part of the point. It comes together as if classical music is played during a murder scene and the scene itself is rather calm and serene.

The issue is a fine one if you’ve been reading the series put it comes off a bit as a bit unfocused with the wrong lessons taken from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s work. All violence and flash and little more. An issue that just told one or two aspects of everything covered within would have not just been more of a winner but also a better entry point, and hook, for a week when there’s so little on the shelf and higher chance folks will check the series out.

Story: Robert Kirkman, Scott M. Gimple Art: Chris Burnham
Color: Nathan Fairbairn Lettering Rus Wooton
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Die!Die!Die!

Die!Die!Die! bills itself as a blood-soaked, no holds barred, action-packed, irreverent story. The series focuses on a world where evil people do evil stuff all the time. A secret cabal within the United States government influences world matters through targeted assassination. The world around us is manipulated right under our noses, mostly for the better… but sometimes for individual gain, and sometimes for the fun of it.

Written by Robert Kirkman and Scott M. Gimple, Die!Die!Die! feels like the creative team channeling Garth Ennis with over the top torture, blood, copious amounts of drugs, and some nudity. The story too feels very Ennis with a secret cabal sending out killers to… well kill.

The story itself is over the top and feels like a departure in a way from what I’d expect in the more character focused Kirkman series like The Walking Dead and Oblivion. That’s not the focus here, it’s clearly the action, and that’s not a bad thing.

The bloody action is presented by Chris Burnham with colors from Nathan Fairbairn and lettering from Rus Wooton. And boy is that bloody action presented. Things are over the top in an almost comedic fashion that turns it from gross to something almost mocking the genre in a way. The characters are interesting and action decent but again, like the writing, the art is a reminder of Ennis’ partnership with Steve Dillon, in particular their work on Preacher.

There’s a clear reader who will absolutely enjoy this debut issue, fans of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. There’s an over the top aspect of it all that desensitizes the violence in a way that makes it comedic. The comic was a surprise for fans and retailers and what’s inside too is surprising as it’s a departure from Kirkman’s other current series. If you like a little bit of ultraviolence to the point of borderline spoof, this is one to check out.

Story: Robert Kirkman, Scott M. Gimple Art: Chris Burnham
Color: Nathan Fairbairn Letterer: Rus Wooton
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Skybound Announces a Surprise Release with Die!Die!Die! Out Wednesday

In a shocking move, Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment dropped the first issue of an all-new series by comics titans Robert Kirkman, Scott M. Gimple, and Chris Burnham, with colors by Nathan Fairbairn and lettering by Rus Wooton, titled Die!Die!Die! which will be available for sale tomorrow.

Die!Die!Die! promises to be a blood-soaked, no holds barred, action-packed, irreverent story that fans won’t be able to rip their eyes from. We live in an evil world where evil people do evil stuff all the time and Die!Die!Die! lifts the veil on a secret cabal within the United States government that influences world matters through targeted assassination. The world around us is manipulated right under our noses, mostly for the better… but sometimes for individual gain, and sometimes for the fun of it.

So if you’re hurting people, somehow making the world worse than it already is, or even just standing in the way of something good happening… someone could right now be giving the order for you to… DIE!DIE!DIE!

Die!Die!Die! #1 is available in stores tomorrow. Don’t miss it!

Review: The Walking Dead #177

Meet Officer Mercer, the newest individual we’re introduced to living in the “New World Order” that is the Commonwealth. The Walking Dead #177 is broken up into a few parts and while each segment varies greatly, each emphasizes the focus on the living with the series.

Rick is with Mikey who is working through issues through poetry an interesting aspect in a world where danger is around every corner and the dead have risen. There’s a focus on addressing loss and trauma of what’s going on and with Rick involved he is of course still dealing with the loss of Andrea. It’s an interesting an important segment as it shows that things are relatively stable but there’s still emotional turmoil. A segment with Maggie as well shows this aspect of stability. After everything that has happened, this is a time when you can let your guard down and enjoy things a bit.

Emotion is the name of the game of this issue as Michonne is reunited with her daughter Elodie. We learn Elodie’s story and are reminded of the horrible things everyone has done or had done to them to survive. It’s emotional and writer Robert Kirkman as usual does a solid job of focusing on the human aspect of the story. The series isn’t about surviving the dead, it’s about living in a world of the dead.

We’re also introduced to Mercer and Governor Milton’s son. This is the first sign that things aren’t perfect in the world of the Commonwealth and indicates where the next bit of turmoil is coming from. The series has done a good job of keeping the crazy hidden but we readers know there’s no way this new community can be as good as it’s presented. The cracks are visible here and it’s hard to know who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation. Unlike with other communities, the sides are a bit grey. Kirkman gives us something familiar but changes it up just enough to keep it interesting.

The art by Charlie Adlard, with ink by Stefano Gaudiano, and gray tones by Cliff Rathburn is excellent as always. Each new character has so much personality and the emotion of the story is driven as much by the art as it is by the story itself. That’s equally impressive since the story is in black and white which changes up how we “read” the scenes a bit more. It emphasizes Adlard’s line work and the detail, or lack of, added to each scene and character. The lettering by Rus Wooton too adds to the emotion of it all making it a bit clearer how dialogue is delivered. Slight bolding helps emphasize a word.

This new arc has been a slow but solid build introducing us to this new world and letting the malice (or expected malice) build. Is it in our minds considering the series history? Or, is there something up with these new characters and community that spells trouble for our heroes. Is it all too good to be true and this is the quiet before the storm? Kirkman and team know how to build to a cathartic explosion and this latest arc feels like it’s building to something, I just don’t know what.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard Cover: Charlie Adlard Cover Color: Dave Stewart
Ink: Stefano Gaudiano Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Letterer: Rus Wooton Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Robert Kirkman Talks Oblivion Song and How He’s a Comic Book Kind of Guy

A decade ago 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia were suddenly lost in Oblivion. The government made every attempt to recover them but after many years they gave up. Nathan Cole… won’t. He makes daily trips, risking his life to try and rescue those lost, alone and afraid, living in the apocalyptic hellscape of Oblivion. But maybe… Nathan is looking for something else? Why can’t he resist the siren call of the Oblivion Song?

Oblivion Song is the new comic series from writer Robert Kirkman, artist Lorenzo De Felici, colorist Annalisa Leoni, and letterer Rus Wooton being published by Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics.

The series follows Nathan Cole as he goes into another dimension, the Oblivion, looking for survivors, a sci-fi story that’s unique in many ways, not just on the page but also the lead up to its release on March 7, 2018.

Kirkman and De Felici have worked on the comic for over a year allowing them to polish the story which included adding pages to earlier issues after reading later ones. The lesson is not to rush to market, it can help make a much better comic. With a sibling Kirkman felt the

The core concept of the series is the guilt the main character feels and his search for his brother. Unlike Kirkman’s Walking Dead and Invincible, this series is about two brothers as opposed to father and son. There’s unique aspects to the relationship and there’s dynamics there that don’t exist elsewhere due to that relationship. It’s an area that yields to a lot of story potential.

Nathan is an aspirational character who see injustice and wants to do something about it. In an interview roundtable, Kirkman said it was fun to write a character who’s willing to make sacrifices. A character, that can be put on a pedestal and be admired.

De Felici has been in comics for a long time, and Kirkman was directed towards him by Cory Walker about three years ago. The style is unique that lends itself well to a monster heavy series. He has a background in science that is being brought to the series. The series needs someone who can do a scene in a cafe over coffee and an entire alien ecosystem. He’s able to juggle both worlds.

We were able to participate in a roundtable discussion of which you can find our questions below.

Graphic Policy: With your success in other media, has it changed your approach to this at all?

Robert Kirkman: It’s something I try to ignore but I can’t but think the kind of things that get translated into other media have universal appeal. The kind of comics that seem to have universal appeal. The kind of comics I like to do have universal appeal.

It’s not like I sit around with artists thinking about things that can easily be translated into a cool movie or television show.

It’s a goal of coming up with something that entertains yourself. That entertains a lot of people. It could lend itself to another medium. As long as you strive for something as interesting as possible or as cool as possible it somehow is tailor made for this kind of thing.

This doesn’t seem like it’d lend itself to another medium, but we’ll see. It’s always in the back of mind just because I’ve had success in the past. But, I’m a comic book writer first and foremost.

When I sit down to come up with an idea for a comic book it’s really about if it’s something that I’d enjoy doing? Does it excite me? Will it make a cool comic book? Any thought about another medium is secondary.

I’m a comics first kind of guy.

GP: The first issue strikes me as something that reflects a lot on the years after the United States and Vietnam? There’s the wall, not leaving someone behind.

RK: That’s all there. That’s a perfect example of a time in our history of these themes. That’s something I drew from because it’s all there. It’s a perfect example of how people reacted so it’d be foolish for me to not acknowledge that.

GP: The first issue touches on PTSD with a few characters. How much is that explored in the series?

RK: That’s a big part of the first year of the book. What they would have gone through. How they would have survived. And that I think is the aspect that most resembles The Walking Dead. This is the type of Walking Dead story where someone could have lived in a zombie apocalypse for ten years and then somehow could have gone home. I think that’s really exciting because it changes the story dynamic up from what I’ve been doing with The Walking Dead. It’s also a great minefield for story development. How does someone survive in another dimension? Scavenge for food? Fighting for survival? And then one day go through a portal and Starbucks is down the street and rent’s due. You have to get back to life. There’s a great bit of potential there.

That’s something we’ll be exploring with Duncan and newer characters that are being rescued that have to acclimate to life on Earth.

GP: You tackled a bunch of different genres and now sci-fi. How’s it feel to you as a writer to go in a whole new direction.

RK: I’ve done a lot of horror and there’s some horror aspects to this but to have new tools in the tool box and to be able to expand what you can do with your storyline is really rewarding. I think the thing that keeps me energized in comics, that gets me to want to write me, is the fact that you can do a wide range of things. I do have freedom to do whatever I want. To be able to bounce between genres and expand what I’m known for is a great opportunity. TO be able to dive into a whole new genre and tell all sorts of different stories is really excited for me. I’m happy to do it and hopefully I’ll be able to do it all kinds of times on all kinds of books going forward.

GP: There’s a memorial scene in the first issue that’s very interesting and there’s a poem on it. Is there any significance to the poem?

RK: Yeah, there’s significance behind everything. I’m not going to get into where that’s going. There’ll definitely be focus put on that in the future. You were meant to notice it.

GP: The series is heavy sci-fi, how much thought towards the tech of the world have you done?

RK: That’s crazy sci-fi fun. There’s not too much basis in reality there. We try to think of pseudo-science things that sound logical to a certain extent. We talk about molecule vibration and tuning into one dimension or another. As far as functionality of things, we wanted to play up the aspect that this is busted beaten up technology that’s been used for ten years. A belts malfunctioning in the first issue. We wanted it to feel like duct tape and ripping wires apart to get it to work. We wanted it to feel real world but taken for granted.

I’ve always loved George Lucas’ concept of “used future” that he did in THX and then Star Wars. That these are lived in and not being used for the first time. This is not clean in a way that some sci-fi things are clean.

We wanted everything to be used, dirty, and functional. You’ll see this is a guy who’s been doing this for ten years and lost his funding and trying to make it work somehow and often times it doesn’t work.

GP: So, you have one series that hasn’t dealt in the “why” of it. Will this one, will we find out the “why” as to all of it has happened.

RK: Yes, absolutely, we’ll find out. We’ll slowly pull back the layers as to what occurred and how it occurred as the series progresses. There’ll be various different stages along the way. We’ll get a piece here and a piece here. This will be a fun mystery as it comes together. This is not a story where I won’t be answering how it has happened. It will be revealed as the series goes on.

Review: The Walking Dead #176

The “New World Order” is here as Michonne and her group has made contact with a new community and things are definitely no longer the same. The Walking Dead #176 picks up right where you’d expect with Michonne distraught over the discovery that her daughter may be alive and has been looking for her.

That emotional ride is the driver of this issue as writer Robert Kirkman plays with that moment extending the tension, fear, hope, and more of the group throughout the issue.

What Kirkman does that’s really interesting is call back to a meeting with another Governor that eventually went off the rails. Like Michonne and our protagonists, we too are weary based on what we know.

Helping Kirkman is the art by Charlie Adlard with ink by Stefano Gaudiano, gray tones by Cliff Rathburn, and lettering by Rus Wooton. There’s a cleanliness and orderly sense of it all that’s emphasized through the art, not just the words. That order ups the tension as things progresses through the story. We get glimpses of reality at times but it’s the small detail in the art that provides more clues as to the world than what’s delivered in the dialogue. The images tell as much of a story as the dialogue.

This issue, while simple, is all about that emotional journey and build up to the cathartic end. It’s an emotional roller coaster that pays off in a build up throughout the issue. Kirkman is a master of this type of storytelling and here’s a prime example of setting the mood, building tension, and letting it build to release.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard
Ink: Stefano Gaudiano Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Lettering: Rus Wooton Cover Colors: Dave Stewart
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Walking Dead #175

New friends. New enemies. New threats. It’s a whole new world as “New World Order” kicks off with The Walking Dead #175.

175 issues and it’s kind of hard to surprise us anymore but write Robert Kirkman has managed to do exactly that with the first part to the new story arc “New Wold Order.” The Walking Dead #175 is impressive in that it not only creates some tense moments but also delivers something that generally feels new and interesting. It also leaves us with an ending that’s a bit shocking.

It’s hard to really review this issue because saying why it’s so good will ruin the fun and surprise.

The issue focuses on Michonne’s group that has been traveling to meet a mysterious individual they’ve only talked to through radio. The last issue ended with them making contact and this new community may or may not be friendly.

Kirkman uses the issue to play with that keeping the interaction tense and leaving the reader to constantly question what’s going to happen. We meet new individuals, and the glimpse of a new community and possibly way of doing things. What’s revealed is intriguing and absolutely lives up to the title of the arc. But, it’s that last few pages where your heart races and what’s revealed is game changing.

The art as always is great. Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn take Kirkman’s script and presents it in a way that enhances the tense nature of it all. New characters too are instantly recognizable with personality. The art especially helps to the story in a way beyond what’s said. Each piece of armor, how characters look, it all allows the reader to get a better idea of what might be going on.

A fantastic issue that has me excited to see what’s next.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard Ink: Stefano Gaudiano
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Lettering: Rus Wooton
Story: Art: Overall: Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Image and Skybound’s Gasolina is Sent Back to Print

Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment have announced that Gasolina #1—by creators Sean Mackiewicz and Niko Walter with colorist Mat Lopes and letterer Rus Wooton—will be rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand.

Set south of the border, Gasolina #1 follows newlywed fugitives Amalia and Randy on their journey south from El Norte. They have played many roles in order to survive, but now, they must become unlikely leaders in the fight against a new cartel who uses inhuman tactics to ignite the most monstrous war Mexico—and the world—has ever seen.

Gasolina #1, 2nd printing (Diamond Code AUG178485), Gasolina #2 (Diamond Code AUG170651), Gasolina #2 The Walking Dead tribute variant (Diamond Code AUG170652) will be available in stores on Wednesday, October 25th. The final order cutoff deadline is Monday, October 2nd.

Image and Skybound Release a Sneak Peek at Gasolina

Creators Sean Mackiewicz and Niko Walter team up with colorist Mat Lopes and letterer Rus Wooton for an all-new crime/horror adventure, Gasolina, from Image/Skybound Entertainment and reveal interior pages for a sneak peek into the new story.

Fugitives. Rebels. Newlyweds. Gasolina follows Amalia and Randy on their journey south from El Norte. They have played many roles in order to survive, but now, they must become unlikely leaders in the fight against a new cartel who uses inhuman tactics to ignite the most monstrous war Mexico—and the world—has ever seen.

Everything burns in this new series where love and devotion can only be measured in fire and blood.

Gasolina #1 Cover A (Diamond Code JUL170702) and GASOLINA #1 cover B by Felici (Diamond Code JUN178586) will be available in stores on Wednesday, September 20th. The final order cutoff deadline is Monday, August 28th.

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