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Review: The Rise #1

The Rise #1

Night of the Living Dead is an influential film that sparked a genre. It saw imitators and innovators come after but that film remains a classic. The Rise #1 kicks off a prequel to the “Living Dead universe” focused on the “death, destruction, and tragedy that led to the birth of the modern zombie”. It’s an interesting start that feels more 28 Days Later than Living Dead.

Set upon the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Rise #1 introduces us to Dr. Cartwright, a man working on a way to block out fear. As shown early on, that lack of fear creates rage and also the lack of fear of death. It feels like the early steps of “Rage”, the disease that fueled the zombie outbreak in the 28 Days Later franchise.

Writer George C. Romero infuses the story with politics by using the backdrop. It gives a solid reason for such work to be done as the world was gripped by the fear of nuclear disaster. Romero takes things further by hinting at the weaponization of this research, yet another military-fueled idea that ends in disaster for the world. It’s the type of underlying message Romero’s father embraced in his films. How much the series will lean into it is unknown but there’s clear finger-pointing and blame for the destruction of mankind.

Diego Yapur‘s art is fantastic. Along with limited colors by DC Alonso, and lettering by Saida Temofonte, the visuals are top-notch. The comic keeps it simple with the use of black, white, and reds for colors. It’s an interesting color palette that adds some aspects to be debated on. The red could represent the fear that the world is gripped by, the Communist threat, or the pouring of blood to come. It’s a solid artistic choice that adds an exclamation point to generally beautiful art that captures the time period well.

The Rise #1 is a solid comic. It does well to establish why this dangerous work is happening and hints as to the tragedy to come. It feels like a prequel to so many zombie stories though and not sure it really nails down Romero’s father’s work. But, it’s still really good with a build-up of the tragedy we know will come.

Story: George C. Romero Art: Diego Yapur
Color: DC Alonso Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Cold Dead War #1

Cold Dead War #1

Cold Dead War #1 is an intriguing debut that goes in a direction I should have seen coming. Opening in 1950 Kentucky the story focuses on a World War II veteran haunted by his experiences and has a secret. It’s a small town story about a man trying to run from his past and struggling to move on with a normal life. Lance Howard was a pilot during World War II in the Pacific and experienced something while on a mission.

George C. Romero kicks Cold Dead War #1 off with an issue that eventually feels like something we’ve seen so many times. It’s the grizzled veteran being asked to complete one more mission for their country. It takes a while for the issue to get there, then it does. Then you find out more of what’s going on. That twist is something that’s not going to be spoiled. It’s part of the fun and charm of the debut and has me wanting to come back for more.

It’s a story and delivery that’s not surprising in the end but it’s done really well. There’s a quality in the writing and especially the slow build that sucks you in. And it feels like it has a pay off. Romero builds thing to the reveal so when that happens, and it’s unexpected, it feels like a big deal. There’s not really any hints or teases beyond something is troubling his main character.

German Ponce‘s art helps keep the secret. There’s something idyllic and peaceful about the Captain Howard and his small town life. It gets juxtaposed with his war experience and everything gets much more interesting as the war experience feels that much more shocking when we reflect on his now peaceful life. Ponce also handles ink along with Gabriel Rearte with Photobunker on color and lettering by Saida Temofonte. There’s three segments to the comic and the look of each really works as peace and horror are depicted.

Cold Dead War #1 comes together nicely. It’s a solid war debut with a setup that’s familiar but whose twists are unexpected. It has just enough that feels new and different to really pay off and keep things interesting. Overall, it sets up what feels like a entertaining B-movie action story.

Story: George C. Romero Art: German Ponce
Ink: German Ponce, Gabriel Rearte Color: Photobunker Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Batman: Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1

As seen in The Lego Batman Movie, the Arkham video games, and the Batman comics of the 1990s and early 2000s, Batman’s strength is in the world and characters that he creates access to. Whether that’s his allies, villains, nooks and crannies of Gotham, or even police officers that he either works with or against, these personalities and settings are why I continue to return to the Batman side of the DC Universe. The creators of Batman: Urban Legends #1 understand this and flesh out different Batman-adjacent characters and even sometimes explore their relationship to the Dark Knight while also telling action, romance, and crime stories.

First up in this Gotham-themed anthology is the beginning of a six part Batman and Red Hood serial where Batman and his former protege-turned-killer vigilante (He’s switched to rubber bullets for the moment.) investigate a source of a hallucinatory street drug tackily called Cheerdrops. Writer Chip Zdarsky has a firm grasp on Jason Todd’s voice, including the darkness inside his soul and his hunger for justice, especially for Gotham’s beleaguered working class. Artists Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas nail the grit of the city with explosive linework and jagged layouts to go with a color palette that has had all the light sucked out of it. However, Excalibur’s Marcus To does the art in the flashbacks, which features brighter colors as well as simpler, cleaner lines with a more traditional superhero feel even though one of the scenes is set during “Under the Red Hood” when Jason Todd came back from the dead and started killing criminals.

“Batman and Red Hood” is also a study in contrasts in how two very different crime fighters deal with the same crisis. Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and is super methodical with Barrows and Ferreria drawing him looking at the chemical makeup of Cheerdrops CSI-style, and his All-Star Superman-esque moment with a jumper is less feel-good and more evidence collection. On the other hand, Jason fights crime with his guts and heart and even admits in a wry line from Zdarsky that he’s not a great detective as he struggles to find a Cheerdrop stash house. However, he does find a boy named Tyler, and of course, Jason is great with kids and even lets him wear part of his mask while he looks for his dad in a dodgy part of Gotham. Zdarsky, Barrows, and Ferreira create something truly heartwarming between Jason Todd and Tyler.

There’s a throughline between this and the flashbacks where Batman (Portrayed as more of an action figure than man by To) struggles being a father figure to Jason, and Alfred does the job perfectly because he sees him as a human being and not an obstacle in his war on crime. Chip Zdarsky writes Alfred Pennyworth as the perfect parent to the Bat-family, who isn’t afraid to tell Batman that he’s full of shit and chooses compassion over a closed fist. And speaking of Batman, I love how Zdarsky doesn’t give him an inner monologue and depicts him more as a force of nature than a gun toting, broken man like Jason Todd, who agonizes over every decision and whose interaction with Tyler bring back memories of his mom who died of a drug overdose. Also, he’s not afraid to go a little dark, and Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira jagged layouts and emotional poses are along for the ride.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

The second story in Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an eight page Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy one-off from writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Laura Braga, and colorist Ivan Plascencia. Plascencia is this story’s secret weapon that shows the happy, hilarious times of Harley and Ivy’s first dates and the bleak current times for Harley as she has moved back to Gotham in her solo title and as a recurring character in Batman. Braga’s art is expressive and high energy for both the good times (Harley and Ivy smooching and snapping selfies) and bad times (A sudden bolt of lightning shattering their pictures), and she is a good fit for a story that isn’t centered around a heist or fight against a superhero, but a relationship. She and Phillips tap into the depth of feelings that Harley has for Ivy, and through some handy plant symbolism, they create hope for the relationship that has become very popular for fans in the past decade. “Harley and Ivy” is a nice, nearly slice of life oasis in the midst of the three other stories, which have more moving parts.

The third story in this comic is a 10 page “Outsiders” feature by Brandon Thomas, Max Dunbar, and Luis Guerrero starring Black Lightning, Katana, and an interesting take on Metamorpho. Thomas turns in kind of a mystery plot with the story starting with Black Lightning and an unseen Metamorpho in a Japanese prison before cutting to a bonkers, two page spread of a speedboat chase. Unlike the previous two stories in Batman: Urban Legends #1, Thomas and Dunbar go for a action over character focus, and honestly, I’m here for it. Dunbar uses arrows from their pursuers to act as eye-lines to follow the high speed chase, and he and Thomas have a clever moment or two up their sleeve, especially in regards to Metamorpho’s first appearance. The story isn’t particularly deep, but it has the vibe of a James Bond cold open with superpowers as Guerrero really makes Black Lightning’s abilities sizzle. Finally, Brandon Thomas’ plotting really kept me engaged with thinking about why characters were acting a certain way, and the the mini mystery box structure has me intrigued for the upcoming issue.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Grifter is a character I didn’t really know a lot about except for some random comics like the New 52 Team 7 and JLA/WildCATs, but Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela have made this anti-hero/rapscallion and his various pratfalls quite lovable and hilarious Batman: Urban Legends #1’s final story. Grifter is like that guy who bluffs at poker, but never has a good hand. And until maybe the penultimate page of the comic, he’s either screwing up or making a joke about it beginning with his mad rush towards supervillain fire during his Team 6 days with a lot of characters with familiar names from Wildstorm comics. (I’m not an expert on these characters, and you don’t have to be to enjoy the story.) Grifter uses his sense of humor to detract from his mediocre performance as Lucius Fox’s bodyguard or to avoid getting his ass kicked by Batman, but he also has a mystery side that is revealed when he has a “date” at one of Penguin’s bars. The mystery starts to really unfold towards the end of the comic, but Rosenberg hints at every time, he talks on a headset with what I assume is his older brother.

The comedy in “Grifter” isn’t just limited to Matthew Rosenberg’s delightfully smartass dialogue. It shows up a lot in Ryan Benjamin’s visuals, which range from G.I. Joe or Authority homages (When the superheroes clean up Team 6’s mess.) in the flashback to pure slapstick. For example, Grifter spills a drink at a party Lucius Fox is meeting a client at and spills a drink on a woman. In this situation, Benjamin doesn’t just show a simple facial expression, but throws in some growlixes and makes you know that she’s furious that the soaking wet guy in Converse and blue jeans is even in the same room with her. This playfulness extends to the fight between Batman and Grifter, which starts as a serious throwdown and ends up in a total cat and mouse situation with Grifter finally getting enough self-awareness to call it quits. However, their paths will cross, and you can tell that Batman understands he’s a wildcard with his connections to Lucius Fox, the criminal underworld, and probably those Wildstorm guys. All in all, Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela turn in a hilarious action-comedy set in DC’s weirdest and (sometimes) dourest city and also slowly unveil what seems to be a master plan to merge the worlds of Wildstorm and Gotham.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an absolute win for the anthology format that DC Comics has been trying out with all of the four stories in the comic being entertaining and shedding light on a unique cast of characters. The longer stories that bookend the comic are especially noteworthy thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s pitch-perfect handle on the fascinating character of Jason Todd in “Batman and Red Hood” and Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s skill with verbal and visual humor in “Grifter”.

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Stephanie Phillips, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Marcus To, Laura Braga, Max Dunbar, Ryan Benjamin
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, Antonio Fabela
Letters: Becca Carey, Deron Bennett, Steve Wands, Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: DCeased: Dead Planet #7

DCeased: Dead Planet #7

DCeased: Dead Planet #7 wraps up the latest volume of DC‘s now “zombie” epic with an issue that packs a lot into one issue. Not only is the Amazo army attacking but Trigon also rampages threatening to destroy everything.

Writer Tom Taylor has packed in a lot into the issue that wraps up this series and it wraps things up quite nicely. The battle against the Amazo army and the battle against Trigon could easily have been an issue by themselves but the two plotlines are wrapped up and neither feels like they’re given short shrift.

Taylor also delivers something you rarely see in this type of story, a bit of hope.

The heroes feel like heroes in this comic. They stand against evil on both sides. They must stop the Amazo army and at the same time save the infected who have done unknown horrors. There’s something heroic and very symbolic of the issue and their actions.

And that heroism extends to John Constantine. Trigon also is laying waste to the world and someone must stop him. Constantine has stood up gathering the tools he has seen as needed to accomplish his goals. What occurs feels very much in line with the character as he stands up and does what must be done, both good and bad. With this, so many pieces of the puzzle are brought together in a fantastic way. It’s also such a key moment for Constantine that feels very in character.

Trevor Hairsine provides the art along with ink from Gigi Baldassini and Stefano Gaudiano, color by Rain Beredo, and lettering by Saida Temofonte. There’s so much packed into the issue and the team uses every panel and every page. This isn’t a comic of splash pages, there’s something muted in a way about that. The comic could easily have been lots of two page spreads but that would have taken away from what Taylor has laid out in some ways. There’s something a bit more intimate this way and it puts the emphasis on the individual characters working so hard to save the day. And there’s some eye-popping moments at the same time.

DCeased: Dead Planet #7 delivers a fitting conclusion to this chapter but also leaves so many questions out there and directions things could go from here. It does a great job of wrapping up its two major plotlines and does so without feeling like either is cut short. Those reading this series should be happy with the issue, it delivers just the right amount of heroism, which is something we need.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Trevor Hairsine
Ink: Gigi Baldassini, Stefano Gaudiano Color: Rain Beredo Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: DCeased: Dead Planet #5

DCeased: Dead Planet #5

The previous issue left us with dread as we witnessed the destruction and threat to come. DCeased: Dead Planet #5 is blissfully unaware of that though, instead, focusing on another threat set up early on in the series. Trigon is threatening to attack and John Constantine is on a mission to stop him. To do so, he needs to gather weapons and needs a team to help him achieve that. Since it’s Constantine in charge, we know things aren’t going to smoothly.

Writer Tom Taylor reminds us of the second threat laid out in the series, the first being the Anti-Life. Trigon is ready to make his move and honestly, I kind of forgot about that little bit so focused on the previous issue’s reveal. DCeased: Dead Planet #5 snaps us back to that reality with a mission for those left behind on Earth. Trigon is coming, it’s only a question as to when. Constantine knows the threat and does what he does best, use so many to achieve whatever plan he has in his head. Of course, it goes sideways remind us that even in the apocalypse, John Constantine is a shit.

Taylor delivers an issue full of holy crap moments as Constantine’s dirty half dozen makes their way to retrieve weapons they’ll need for the battle ahead. Batman, Rose, Jason Todd, Swamp Thing, and Cassandra Cain, it’s a hell of a team of badasses. They’re also no math for… John Constantine. Of course things don’t go right and by the end of it all Constantine’s on the ground having been decked by his allies.

What’s great about the issue is that though the mission is what’s important, Taylor really focuses on Constantine himself. The man is a manipulative asshole who will destroy whomever to achieve his mission. That even though humanity is on the brink, Constantine is still willing to sacrifice allies to get what he needs. It’s not the action that’s really what’s at the center of the story, it’s Constantine and the still messed up dynamics of the team and survivors. But, it’s been so built up to this point that these are folks working together we forget about that wild card and with that makes his actions even more shocking.

The art by Trevor Hairsine continues to be solid. With ink by Gigi Baldassini and color by Rain Beredo and lettering by Saida Temofonte we get a lot of action without over the top display. It’d be easy to just depict thousands of zombies with lots of gore. Instead we get a lot of enemies at times but it’s not an amount that makes the mission seem impossible and the success a bit silly. It also also allows the team to focus on some really solid moments for each character as they do battle. There’s detail instead of detail-less masses.

There’s also something about the two “pop” moments of the issue. Each is presented clearly without being muddled by too much on the page. It allows us to visually focus in on what has happened and emphasizes each action, which is a bit shocking.

DCeased: Dead Planet #5 is another winner of an issue. It reminds us that there are numerous threats on the horizon and battles to come beyond just finding a cure. There’s not one but two massive threats that are ready to attack and just cause absolute destruction and chaos. It’s interesting that the previous issue got us to think ahead while this issue dials it back to remind us there’s even more to come.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Trevor Hairsine
Ink: Gigi Baldassini Color: Rain Beredo Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: DCeased: Dead Planet #4

DCeased: Dead Planet #4

With the way the world is, the summer movie blockbuster has been missing and the experience of an over the top story full of crazy action and ideas has been lacking. DCeased: Dead Planet #4 fills that gap a bit as the heroes go on a mission to figure out how to unlock the cure for the Anti-Life Equation within Cyborg.

The plan is simple, to get the knowledge as to how unlock the secret within Cyborg, the team needs to steal from a God. To do that, they head to New Genesis where we find out the fate of the New Gods and where they stand in the current world.

Written by Tom Taylor, the issue is fantastic acting as a nice transition to the next act of his story. DCeased: Dead Planet #4 does a solid job of focusing on the impact of what’s happening on quite a few characters. There’s Dinah who is reeling from the loss of her love. There’s some foreshadowing about the possible loss of another hero. But, the real impact is what Mister Miracle, Scott Free has done.

Through all of the zombies and death, there’s an interesting look at fatherhood and parenting and the cycle that Scott has perpetuated with his own family. DCeased: Dead Planet #4 has time for the little moments that makes us care about these characters and more importantly relate to them.

But with that, the issue also has more than enough time for the over the top action and moments. From the “heist” to what’s revealed at the end, this is an issue that gets you hyped for what’s to come… a titanic battle for the future.

The art by Trevor Hairsine, ink by Gigi Baldassini, color by Rain Beredo, and lettering by Saida Temofonte definitely help deliver the emotion and action. What’s interesting about the art of DCeased: Dead Planet #4 are the small details of it. There’s a clash between the fresh heroes returned to save the day and those who have been trying to survive on Earth. There’s subtle things like how Damian’s Batman costume fits him, almost too big and a child dressing up in their father’s clothes. There’s the body language of Scott and Dinah that shows the weight and guilt they’re feeling. And then there’s that ending that you can feel the reverberations. It’s a great rollercoaster of a comic with some fantastic visuals.

DCeased: Dead Planet #4 helps fill the the giant space missing when it comes to summer popcorn films. The comic is a solid mix of focusing on the characters and emotion and delivering those moments that pop. The issue is clearly a transition and set up for the end game to come and it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a fight. While I’ve really enjoyed the series before, I’m beyond excited to see where it goes from here.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Trevor Hairsine
Ink: Gigi Baldassini Color: Rain Beredo Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Sun Eater #1

Sun Eater #1

Ninth century Norway is a land of bloody and civil strife, fanatical religious upheaval, and exploration. At its center is the warrior Kveldulf Bjalfisson, a drug addict and father willing to become a monster in order to save his son from his sworn enemy – King Harald Fairhair. 

I don’t know what I expected when I picked up a comic written by Dylan Sprouse with Joe Harris. It wasn’t a story with dialogue that reads like a Shakespearian play. At first, I felt the character’s conversations were like it was being written in a blend of the traditional pirate style of speech and the English version of Latin from the AMC show Spartacus. It’s slightly off-putting after you realize that it isn’t just being used for the sacrifice that opens the comic. Instead, it’s a conscious choice throughout the book, and then you fall into it. The speech patterns of the characters mean that you have to actively read every word so that you’re not missing the meaning of the words on the page, which helps you understand the story a touch more.

The first issue of SunEater doesn’t do a whole lot more than establishing the ground rules for the story; we learn who the major players are, get an idea what Kveldulf Bjalfisson is motivated by and what he’s aiming to do. And behind it all we see Woten, or Odin, is playing a game entirely his own. You’ll also see a large number of hard to pronounce names that look authentically Norse and are subsequently hard to pronounce (I say look authentic because I’m not well versed in historical Norse names and so won’t pretend that I am), but add another layer of immersion to the comic.

Sun Eater #1 is brought to life by Diego Yapur and D.C. Alonso, responsible for the line work and colors respectively. Yapur’s artwork is decisive and striking; detailed where it needs to be, and barren when you need to focus on something specific. The facial expressions are without a doubt some of the most honest and realistic I’ve seen in a while; it also helps that most characters wouldn’t be seen on a runway – these characters look like a snapshot of the Norse people of yesteryear; grubby, angry, ugly… it’s a grimy looking comic, but Alonso makes it look beautiful. Frankly, the art is some of the best sequential work I’ve seen in a while.

I won’t lie; I picked Sun Eater #1 up because I was morbidly curious what a story created by Dylan Sprouse would be like, and I’m more than happy to say that it left me impressed. As the first issue in a longer miniseries (it was originally billed as nine, but I think it may have increased to twelve now), the creative team has delivered exactly what you want in the opening chapter of a story. Sun Eater #1, published by Heavy Metal, is a fantastic read. Whether you’re just into capes and cowls, or you like to dabble in fantasy, this is a comic you really need to check out.

Story: Dylan Sprouse with Joe Harris Art: Diego Yapur
Colorist: D.C. Alonso Letterer: Saida Temofonte

Story: 8.9 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Heavy Metal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Sun Eater #1

Sun Eater #1

Ninth century Norway is a land of bloody and civil strife, fanatical religious upheaval, and exploration. At its center is the warrior Kveldulf Bjalfisson, a drug addict and father willing to become a monster in order to save his son from his sworn enemy – King Harald Fairhair. 

I don’t know what I expected when I picked up a comic written by Dylan Sprouse with Joe Harris. It wasn’t a story with dialogue that reads like a Shakespearian play. At first, I felt the character’s conversations were like it was being written in a blend of the traditional pirate style of speech and the English version of Latin from the AMC show Spartacus. It’s slightly off-putting after you realize that it isn’t just being used for the sacrifice that opens the comic. Instead, it’s a conscious choice throughout the book, and then you fall into it. The speech patterns of the characters mean that you have to actively read every word so that you’re not missing the meaning of the words on the page, which helps you understand the story a touch more.

The first issue of SunEater doesn’t do a whole lot more than establishing the ground rules for the story; we learn who the major players are, get an idea what Kveldulf Bjalfisson is motivated by and what he’s aiming to do. And behind it all we see Woten, or Odin, is playing a game entirely his own. You’ll also see a large number of hard to pronounce names that look authentically Norse and are subsequently hard to pronounce (I say look authentic because I’m not well versed in historical Norse names and so won’t pretend that I am), but add another layer of immersion to the comic.

Sun Eater #1 is brought to life by Diego Yapur and D.C. Alonso, responsible for the line work and colors respectively. Yapur’s artwork is decisive and striking; detailed where it needs to be, and barren when you need to focus on something specific. The facial expressions are without a doubt some of the most honest and realistic I’ve seen in a while; it also helps that most characters wouldn’t be seen on a runway – these characters look like a snapshot of the Norse people of yesteryear; grubby, angry, ugly… it’s a grimy looking comic, but Alonso makes it look beautiful. Frankly, the art is some of the best sequential work I’ve seen in a while.

I won’t lie; I picked Sun Eater #1 up because I was morbidly curious what a story created by Dylan Sprouse would be like, and I’m more than happy to say that it left me impressed. As the first issue in a longer miniseries (it was originally billed as nine, but I think it may have increased to twelve now), the creative team has delivered exactly what you want in the opening chapter of a story. Sun Eater #1, published by Heavy Metal, is a fantastic read. Whether you’re just into capes and cowls, or you like to dabble in fantasy, this is a comic you really need to check out.

Story: Dylan Sprouse with Joe Harris Art: Diego Yapur
Colorist: D.C. Alonso Letterer: Saida Temofonte

Story: 8.9 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Heavy Metal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyHeavy Metal

Review: DCeased: Dead Planet #3

DCeased: Dead Planet #3

When we last left the world of DCeased, John Constantine and his team were beat while the mystery of the new green was teased. DCeased: Dead Planet #3 picks up on that mystery and adding so much more depth to the story. DCeased as a whole has transcended the concept of zombies in the DC world. This issue is a good example of exactly that. DCeased: Dead Planet #3 adds concepts and ideas that give us more than the shambling “anti-life.”

Writer Tom Taylor reveals there are more survivors. This group is made up of the rich and elite. Unlike Gotham, they’ve created a caste system with haves and have nots. Taylor clearly sets this up not to just create some more tension and a greater threat but also to have us reflect on what has been built by Ivy, Harley, and others in Gotham.

But Taylor has some greater themes going on. The hard-realism and brutal society built beyond Gotham emphasizes the hope that exists with the arrival of our heroes and the promise of a cure. But, Taylor’s story resonates further.

In today’s world, with a pandemic around us and divisions in philosophy clear, Taylor has captured the current zeitgeist. We have those who would be happy to create a society of evil with roles clear and defined. They would deliver a safety predicated on fear. Compare that to the heroes within Gotham. While their plan isn’t clear, the steps not defined, they’ve staked their future on teamwork and an all-in together mentality. Whether Taylor has adjusted his story based on the current reality is unknown but what he’s produced has captured the current real-world situation.

Trevor Hairsine delivers some intriguing visuals that emphasize the desperation of it all. Along with ink from Gigi Baldassini, color by Rain Beredo, and lettering by Saida Temofonte, the art pops on the page. It’d be easy to go the “scare” route but the series has never been about that. There’s some crazy visuals but it’s more along the line of action than scares. But, what stands out to me is the art’s ability to emphasize the wear of it all. There’s a reveal at the end of the issue whose visuals tell you so much of what has happened without spelling it out.

DCeased: Dead Planet #3 adds a lot to the series and world. There’s a concept thrown out that really drives the direction of what’s at stake and what might be coming. There’s so much more than a battle to find a cure and what the anti-life zombies have tipped as far as balance is interesting. The series continues to mix things up a bit delivering ideas and concepts far more than you’d expect in a typical “zombie” story.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Trevor Hairsine
Ink: Gigi Baldassini Color: Rain Beredo Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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