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Review: Black Cotton #1

Black Cotton #1

Steven Barnes is one of those writers whose world-building skills makes you believe anything. His books has been part of my cognitive edification, including understanding metaphor and character development. His stories truly transport you to other worlds and makes you fall in love with the protagonists within them. The books where I first got to know him was The Lion’s Blood series.

The premise of the series was if Africa rose to prominence and Europe is a failed continent. It revolved around two characters, both of the same age, but one Black and one, white. The series itself was a godsend, as it showed just how inhuman, systemic racism truly is. In the debut issue of Black Cotton, we’re transported to a world where the social order is reversed as in Lion’s Blood, giving way to a bold new perspective.

We’re taken to Virginia, where one sullen night, a lone Black cop, Zion Cotton, stops a White woman in a hoodie, and before wither could comprehend the next few minutes, the young lies in a pool of her own blood. We soon find out that the cop is part of a rich family. As the latest incident makes the headlines, his family secures the services of a high-powered attorney, one that has scary reputation. Soon protests hit the streets, where signs advocating for “White Lives matter’ can be seen everywhere, and family tensions between the Cottons only get worse, as his sister’s far-right mindset only heightens it. By the issue’s end, the Cottons’ lawyer has arrived at the victim’s hospital suite, where she meets their lawyer.

Overall, Black Cotton #1 is a satisfying start that looks to say a lot. Hopefully, it gets its footing in the second issue. The story by Patrick Foreman and Brian Hawkins is bold and revolutionary. The art by Marco Perugini is adequate. Altogether, Black Cotton is a story that shows promise but is hard to say right now if it can fulfill it.

Story: Patrick Foreman, Brian Hawkins Script: Brian Hawkins
Art: Marco Perugini Letterer: Francisco Zamora
Story: 8.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: Scout Comics

Review: By The Horns #1

By the Horns #1

Full disclosure: I am so bloody excited to have read By the Horns #1. The creative team (writer Markisan Naso, artist Jason Muhr, and colorist Andrei Tabacaru) are one of the most underrated teams I’ve ever come across – their first story, Voracious has been firmly lodged as one of my favorite comic stories since the first volume wrapped (there’s three, and each one is better than the last). Needless to say, when the first issue of By the Horns #1 arrived in my inbox far earlier than I expected, I jumped on that like an Englishman jumping for tea.

Elodie hates unicorns. For nearly a year, she’s been hell-bent on tracking down and killing all the elusive horned creatures responsible for trampling her husband, Shintaro. Now, exiled from her farming village of Wayfarer for selfishly neglecting her duties, Elodie and her half wolf/half deer steed, Sajen, search the continent of Solothus for clues to the whereabouts of unicorns.

When Elodie discovers that four ancient wind wizards are abducting unicorns and other mystical creatures so they can extract their magic, she means to go through them at any cost to exact her revenge. But she’ll need to rely on an increasingly reluctant Sajen, a floating-eyeball guide named Evelyn, and two unicorn prisoners – Zoso and Rigby – who grant her the ability to rip off their horns and combine them to form wizard-slaying weapons. Will she use their gifts to save the captured unicorns, or destroy them all?

By the Horns #1 opens with a figure standing over a unicorn, bloody axe in hand with their head out of frame. It’s a scene-setting image, and you know what you’re in for, but Naso’s words over the image hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Normally when I stop reading a comic, it’s not because I need to take a moment to collect myself. By The Horns #1 is not a normal comic.

Khemmis, the name of the village that our lead character is from, is a brilliant nod to one of the most played metal bands on my Spotify (coincidentally, Naso cohosts a podcast about heavy metal, and has recommended Khemmis’ Desolation album – which I highly encourage you to check out). If I’m honest, I reread the book a second time trying to find other references and nods hidden within the comic, and while I caught a few, there are probably others that I missed, but that’s the joy of Naso’s work; this shit’s like an onion – the more you peel away at things the more you’ll find below the layers.

The story weaves between emotional turmoil and a deep sense that something is missing. To be clear, there’s nothing missing in the comic, but rather than the character Elodie is missing a part of who she is after the loss of her partner. Naso doesn’t force feed you this revelation, but rather shows you through the dialogue, and the pacing of Elodie’s conversation with the village elder. It’s a powerful scene, made even more impactful because of the visuals; Muhr and Tabacaru are like poetry in motion in By The Horns #1. This has got to be one of the most beautiful books you’ll see, and a lot of the credit should go to the way Tabacaru brings Muhr’s art to life.

Muhr is good, make no mistake, but Tabacaru’s work is astounding. The warmth and emotional desolation in his colours are breath taking when taken as a whole with Muhr’s facial expressions and Naso’s dialogue.

I remember first reading about this series, though I don’t know where that was (likely social media), and after Voracious I knew I’d be all in. What I didn’t expect was to be shown such an emotional depth in the debut issue; it’s hard for me to reconcile that the creative team hasn’t been working together for far longer than they have been because the synchronicity on display is utterly breathtaking.

By The Horns #1 is another blinder of a comic by Naso, Muhr, and Tabacaru. Get to your shop and make sure to grab a copy.

Story: Markisan Naso Art/Lettering: Jason Muhr Colors: Andrei Tabacaru
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: Zeus ComicsScout Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

By the Horns

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Batman: Black & White #3 (DC Comics) – The series so far has been fantastic with a mix of creative voices and very different styles and takes on the classic character.

By the Horns #1 (Scout Comics) – Marisan Naso and Jason Muhr are back together for a new series about a woman on an act of murderous revenge against unicorns who trampled her husband.

Crossover #4 (Image Comics) – The series started off as “spot the comic reference” but it has shifted into an interesting story about xenophobia, immigration, and more.

Frank at Home on the Farm #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue was full of mystery and we’re excited to see where this series goes because we’re honestly not sure!

Girl Haven (Oni Press) – Koretris is a haven for girls where no men or boys are allowed. When Ash, a boy, is sent there by a spell a whole bunch of questions are raised. Read our review.

I Breathed a Body #2 (AfterShock) – The first issue was an intriguing mix of horror and commentary about social media and we want to see what else it has to say.

Kaiju Score #4 (AfterShock) – This heist comic during a Kaiju attack has been fun so far but how else can things go wrong and what other double-crosses are left? We want to find out!

Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 (Marvel) – An impressive group of creators come together for this themed anthology. We’re always fans of seeing how different creators handle characters and checking out new voices.

Nailbiter Returns #10 (Image Comics) – The second volume of the horror series wraps up and it’s a bloody doozy.

Nuclear Family #1 (AfterShock) – Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story Breakfast at Twilight, the series is Cold War era science fiction that we’re excited to read.

Paranormal Hitmen #1 (Behemoth Comics) – Two hitmen are hired by a Government agency to hunt and kill ghosts but also need to deal with the mobsters after them.

Savage Circus #3 (Heavy Metal) – The issue begins the pivot from the first two issues of setup getting ready for the action to come. It’s so great and entertaining, read our review!

Stray Dogs #1 (Image Comics) – A suspense thriller starring dogs!? Yeah, we’re intrigued by this one.

Two Moons #1 (Image Comics) – A Pawnee man fighting for the Union during the Civil War discovers horrors worse than combat.

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #5 (Marvel) – The miniseries wraps up as Calgar takes on the Chaos forces!

Those Two Geeks Episode 103: Hunting Unicorns (AGAIN) in By the Horns with Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr

Alex and Joe are joined by the author and artist of the upcoming Scout Comics release By The Horns, Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr. They may be familiar to you if you’ve ever heard us rave about his debut series Voracious. By The Horns reunites the Voracious team in a new fantasy setting that follows a new heroine as she hunts down the unicorns the trampled the love of her life.

For more on By The Horns check out the links below:
Facebook: @ByTheHornsComic
Instagram: @ByTheHornsComic
Twitter: @BYTHEHORNScomic

You can reach Markisan at the following:
Twitter: @darthsan
Instagram: @darthmarkisan

You can find Jason below:
Twitter: @JasonMuhr
Instagram: @JasonMuhr

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Review: The Recount #2

The Recount #2

The first issue of The Recount blew me away. The concept was the right amount of “ripped from the headlines” and fantastical. Now, after January 6th, it’s not as fantastical and feels all too real. Somehow, it makes it even better. After The Recount #2, this is a comic that needs to be adapted to television or film. It’s one of the best new comics in recent years and I’m jonesing to read the next issue.

In the debut issue, President Christensen was assassinated during his resignation speech. An organization called “The Masses” has declared open season on anyone that has supported Christensen, from the Vice President down to his voters. It’s revenge for the corruption and crimes of Christensen. The Recount #2 gives us a tease of what Christensen has done and how deep the corruption goes and some of what was unleashed during his Presidency. We also get a tease as to who is behind “The Masses”.

Writer Jonathan Hedrick delivers an action-packed second issue whose pacing is spot on. The issue revolves around Meredith McDearmon, the former Vice President and now President who barely escaped an assassination attempt in the first issue. It’s a race to get her to safety and maybe find out more as to what’s going on.

Hedrick continues to show how thought out the series is with who is being targeted by members of “The Masses”. A voter is targeted and we’re given justifications as to why in a cold opening. Members of the Electoral College are targeted as well. Both show there’s been an attention to detail not just on the reasoning for this uprising and attacks but also who would be targeted. The first issue showed this as well. The series has turned into a close-to-home take on The Purge. After January 6th this over-the-top concept feels a bit more realistic. It’s no longer as much of an exaggeration as it could be a reality.

The art by Gabriel Ibarra-Nuñez is fantastic with such great action sequences. You get a cinematic feel to it all as the various characters interact playing their roles and delivering their lines. It’s not hard to imagine this series on the big or small screen. Sunil Gharge‘s colors and Christian Docolomansky‘s lettering all add to the quality of the comic. Everything is crisp capturing the concept and world in a way that adds to the gritty realism. A page shows various assassinations delivering an exclamation point on what’s happening. Arguments between characters are mixed with action sequences worthy of a blockbuster film. It all works and works really well.

The Recount #2 somehow outdoes the first issue. It ups the action while taking us a bit into the corruption that has gotten the country to this point. The first issue was a bit of a shock to the system with the second issue leading us to jaw-dropping action and excitement. It’s a hell of a series that’ll be a bit too close-to-home for some but if you can get past that, it’s a hell of a ride so far.

Story: Jonathan Hedrick Art: Gabriel Ibarra-Nuñez
Color: Sunil Ghagre Letterer: Christian Docolomansky
Story: 10 Art: 8.75 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: Scout Comics

Review Black Friday #1

Black Friday #1

I’m not a big fan of horror stories. There are rare ones I enjoy but overall, it’s pretty rare for the genre. Black Friday #1 kicks off a new horror series from Scout ComicsBlack Caravan imprint that takes the notorious shopping day and giving it a horror spin.

When you think of Black Friday, you don’t really think about the sales and deals as much as there’s the rush of the shoppers resulting in fights, chaos, and damage. All of it now caught on video for us to consume and be entertained by. It’s the perfect encapsulation of capitalism. Writer Jon Clark uses that already horrific day as the basis for his story.

We’ve seen the injuries and bloody mess that is the real life rush to consume and save but Black Friday #1 takes that up a notch adding a body count in one store. A clean-up crew is at work cleaning up from the day’s chaos when they discover something brewing in the spot where a costumer was murdered. The death and destruction has fed and awaken… something.

Clark does a fantastic job of building up the suspense and tension for the series. The story really progresses as it moves along. At first, we’re treated to a Clerks like story of a big box store employee who hates his job taking us through his life and world. From there, there’s a bit of inspiration from the “ghost hunting” genre of television series that has exploded. And from there, it transitions into a straight-up horror story. And it delivers the creepy.

A lot of Clark’s concepts are helped by the art of Travis Williamson. There’s some disturbing imagery in the comic that’ll unsettle readers. It never crosses the line to distract, instead Williamson focuses on small details that emphasizes what’s happening. Think of the concept of panning out of an image discover something more and then doing it over and over. That’s what Williamson does as he layers the gruesome discoveries by the store staff. Williamson has a Sam Keith style to it all too that exaggerates things in a helpful way. It’s very stylized in a good way.

The lettering choices by April Brown also helps add to the atmosphere of the comic. Narrative dialogue boxes are used heavily forgoing thought bubbles. The choice is important as the latter wouldn’t work with the imagery. It also gives us a running thought process as to what’s going on beyond the dialogue and body language.

Black Friday #1 is a fantastic start to the series. It builds the tension and ups the scare factor as the store progresses right until the final panel. It makes sure to deliver doses of humor throughout and presents the characters enough to connect and care about what happens to them. This is a horror story that’ll keep you bundled up safely in the cold months.

Story: Jon Clark Art: Travis Williamson Letterer: April Brown
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: Scout Comics

Review: Black Cotton #1

Black Cotton #1

Black Cotton #1 is an interesting concept of a comic. The world is similar to ours but the dynamics of race are switched. Whites are the minority in this world. The story dives into race relations and power when a Black police officer from a wealthy family shoots a White woman he thought was armed. It’s a story that plays our far too often in our world with the races reversed. I was hoping Black Cotton would have something intriguing to say on the subject, unfortunately, the debut issue doesn’t seem to.

Entertainment can be a powerful way to explore our world and discuss issues that society must deal with. The exploration of race relations and power dynamics is nothing new and something that has been well done in comics in recent years. Black took us to a world where only Black individuals had superpowers. It showed how that impacted race relations and exacerbated the issues that we deal with in the real world. I was hoping Black Cotton #1 would give us something else to really think about but the story just delivers a similar world where just the skin color of the individuals has changed.

The rich are still rich trying to by silence and skirt justice. The minorities are up in protest over the abuses of the rich and powerful. It’s our real world story just the races of the perpetrators and victim have changed. There’s nothing very new or interesting in that so far. About all that stands out is some scenes of protests where signs are emblazoned with slogans about “white lives”. This could be intriguing is “white lives matter” wasn’t so politically charged as is. Creators Patrick Foreman and Brian Hawkins aren’t delivering anything thought provoking yet. The story they present seems to be making the argument that race is the corruption, money and power are the corruption. It throws out race dynamics as an underlying issue squarely focused on the economic division. It’s a real world debate but as presented is a bit clunky.

The art by Marco Preugini is good. The character designs and world feel realistic and lived in. The characters deliver a lot of emotion in their frustrations, guilt, sadness, and more. The emoting is the highlight of the art and the comic. The comic is in black and white and while interesting in a meta sort of way it hurts the comic a bit as the difference between races isn’t as clear as it would be in color. There’s a lessoning of the impact of the point of the comic.

Black Cotton #1 has potential. It could be a hell of an exploration of race relations. But, the first issue delivers a familiar story with the only difference being the color of the skin. It doesn’t provide anything new or interesting to chew on. In fact, it feels like it distills our real world ills to economic disparity and that’s it. It’s simplistic in its approach. Hopefully future issues deliver a bit more to chew on and contemplate as the story progresses.

Story: Patrick Foreman, Brian Hawkins Script: Brian Hawkins
Art: Marco Perugini Letterer: Francisco Zamora
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.75 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: Scout Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

We Live #5

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Abbott 1973 #2 (BOOM! Studios) – Some solid mystery continues in 1970s Detroit with a tinge of politics thrown in.

Black Cotton #1 (Scout Comics) – In this alternate timeline the social order of “white” and “black” is reversed and we’re all in to see where this series takes the concept.

Black Friday #1 (Scout Comics/Black Caravan) – Years of pent-up negative energy from Black Fridays has built up and unleashed something very evil and dark into a superstore.

Black Widow #5 (Marvel) – The series has been amazing mixing action with some great visuals.

History Comics: The Wild Mustang, Horses of the American West (:01 First Second) – Learn how horses were brought to the Western Hemisphere by Spanish conquistadors and immediately became a crucial part of the American story.

Hollow Heart #1 (Vault Comics) – EL used to be human. Now he’s a jumble of organs in a bio-suit. EL is also in tremendous pain and has been for a very long time. Described as a queer monster love story, the concept seems very unique.

The Immortal Hulk: Flatline #1 (Marvel) – The series of one-shots have done a great job of allowing various creators tell their tales of this version of the Hulk. So far, they’ve been great.

King in Black #4 (Marvel) – It’s an event that’s really be paying off. Can’t wait to see where it all goes.

Michael Jackson in Comics (NBM) – A biography mixing comics and documentary chapters taking us from the Jackson 5 through his solo career.

Mieruko-Chan Vol. 2 (Yen Press) – What other strange encounters await Miko?

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 (Marvel) – The issue has been laugh out loud funny with every issue.

Pepper Page Saves the Universe! (:01 First Second) – Pepper encounters a strange cat named Mister McKittens and stumbles into a volatile science experiment run by a sinister substitute teacher named Doctor Killian. Yeah, we’re in for this.

The Recount #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue blew us away with American citizens taking up the government corruption into their own hands.

Savage #1 (Valiant) – Teenage heartthrob. Feral social icon. Dinosaur hunter? Kevin Sauvage has a taste of home when a mutant dino threat invades England!

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2 (AHOY Comics) – Chaos, weirdness, and corndogs reign when Jesus innocently stumbles into Bible Safari, a profit-squeezing amusement park that trades in his image. That alone has us reading this fantastic take on religion and superheroes.

The Shadow Doctor #1 (AfterShock) – A Black doctor in the 1930s us unable to get work in Chicago’s hospitals and turns to the Prohibition-era Chicago Mafia to make some money.

Steambound #1 (Behemoth Comics) – Hound is a knight of the order’s restricted council while Yaeger is genetically modified and works for the city’s criminal cartels. They’ll force to team up again.

We Live #5 (AfterShock) – Extinction day hits humanity. We’re at the edge of our seats.

White Lily #1 (Red 5 Comics) – Lilya Litvak is destined to become the greatest female fighter pilot of all time, flying for the Russian Army in World War II against the Germans. But first she has to get through the training.

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1 (Dark Horse) – An unknown adventure of a younger Hellboy!

The Impure Comes to Comic Shops in March from Ralf Singh, Hannes Radke, Marc Schmitz, and Scout Comics

Twenty years ago Castor, homeworld to the siblings Nero and Minerva, was destroyed by aliens. Eventually they join the dreaded ITO, the spearhead of the Earth Forces, to ensure something like this will never happen again.

But when Minerva betrays her brother and all they ever believed in, it is up to Nero to stop his sister before she reaches the alien alliance. For what Minerva has stolen may well turn the tides of war and spell humanity’s downfall.

The Impure is a four-book miniseries published by Scout ComicsNonstop! imprint that follows the story of a devoted soldier in an interstellar war, whose world begins to fall apart while he begins to question his own loyalty.

The Impure is out this March from writer Ralf Singh, art by Hannes Radke, colors by Singh, and lettering by Marc Schmitz and Singh. It features covers by Hannes Radke and Ralf Singh, Miki Montlló, and Alexander Artin.

The Impure

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Radiant Black #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Black Hammer: Visions #1 (Dark Horse) – The world of Black Hammer opens up with guest creators. Should be a lot of fun to see what others do with the characters and world.

Casual Fling #1 (AWA Studios) – An affair leads to torment from a mysterious stalker.

Children of the Grave #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue ended with a hell of a cliffhanger. Who’s the mysterious “Mother”?

Eternals #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was fantastic as the classic characters get a bit of an update and reintroduction to the masses before their film drops.

Freiheit: The White Rose Graphic Novel (Plough Publishing House) – The story of the White Rose, an undercover resistance movement in Nazi Germany.

Ginseng Roots #8 (Uncivilized Comics) – The series exploring Craig Thompson’s life around the ginseng community continues to focus on the generations involved and the changing market.

Mapmaker #1 (Scout Comics/Scoot Comics) – Any map he creates comes to life, a power highly desired by King Gus, who will stop at nothing to obtain it.

Morbius: Bond of Blood #1 (Marvel) – A film is coming from Sony so we’re interested in seeing what Marvel does with the character.

Orcs #1 (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!) – Bog and his crew venture out into the world to seek their fortune, and hopefully find their way back home again.

Parenthesis (IDW Publishing/Top Shelf) – A memoir about the creator’s experience with tumor-related epilepsy-losing herself, and finding herself again.

Radiant Black #1 (Image Comics) – A new superhero series coming out of Image, Kyle Higgins, and Marcello Costa. With Higgins writing, we’re really intrigued to see where this all goes.

Rorschach #5 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – As a crime/political thriller comic, it’s been great so far.

Scarenthood #4 (IDW Publishing) – A horror series focused on parents attempting to solve the mystery of the haunted school their kids go to. It’s been an interesting one so far that’s perfect for parents into horror.

Scout’s Honor #2 (AfterShock) – The first issue shook up the whole belief structure the Ranger Scouts have been built on. What will the second issue bring?

Space Bastards #2 (Humanoids) – The first issue was over the top violence in this sci-fi postal service adventure.

Undiscovered Country #12 (Image Comics) – This series has kept us on the edge of our seat. You never know what to expect with each issue which gets us excited to see what’s next.

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