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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 Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1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 Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1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 Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 kicks off a new DC digital series, this one a current exclusive to the new DC Universe Infinite digital app.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 Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 kicks off with a story from writer Jim Zub and artist Tradd Moore featuring the Suicide Squad.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 Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 is exactly that.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 Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 is bookended with segments featuring Ambush Bug who introduces the concept of the comic.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 Unpublished Tales From the DC Vault #1 is a solid read and start.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

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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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

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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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

DC Comics 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 MetalZeus Comics

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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Preview: Sweet Heart #4

SWEET HEART #4

Writer(s): Dillon Gilbertson
Artist Name(s): Francesco Iaquinta (Pencils/Inks), Marco Pagnotta (Colors), Saida Temofonte (Letters)
Cover Artist(s): Francesco Iaquinta and Marco Pagnotta
26 pgs./ M / FC $3.99

Maddie gets wrapped up in a risky plan to save a child’s life. Is it worth the price? Or is it destined to fail?

SWEET HEART #4

Get a First Look at DCeased: Dead Planet #3

The sequel to the bestselling miniseries continues in DCeased: Dead Planet #3! The new Justice League is trapped on Earth, and they’ve discovered that life still survives on this dead planet! Survival is precarious, though—and with billions of anti-life-infected still roaming the surface, death lies around every corner.

In September’s DCeased: Dead Planet #3, a mysterious second “garden” has been located on the other side of the planet, and John Constantine and Swamp Thing lead a mission to investigate…but what they discover will fundamentally change everything! The road to “Earth War” begins!

DCeased: Dead Planet #3, written by Tom Taylor with art by Trevor Hairsine, Gigi Baldissini, Rain Beredo, and Saida Temofonte hits shelves on Tuesday, September 1 with a main cover by David Finch, a card stock variant cover by Francesco Mattina, and a card stock movie homage variant cover by Ben Oliver.

DCeased: Dead Planet #3

Preview: Sweet Heart #3

Sweet Heart #3

Writer(s): Dillon Gilbertson
Artist Name(s): Francesco Iaquinta (Pencils/Inks), Marco Pagnotta (Colors), Saida Temofonte (Letters)
Cover Artist(s): Francesco Iaquinta and Marco Pagnotta
26 pgs./ M / FC
$3.99

In this issue, Maddie goes hunting, catches up with an old enemy, and visits a family friend. 20 years after she was first chosen by the Stringer, she’s doing everything she can to fight back against the creatures the town of Ellicott City has long since surrendered to.

Sweet Heart #3
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