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Preview: Lucifer #1

Lucifer #1

(W) Dan Waters (A) Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara (CA) Goni Montes
In Shops: Oct 17, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Lucifer is missing. Having embarked on a dangerous journey to find the mother of his abandoned son, the Prince of Lies finds himself imprisoned and crippled by mysterious forces who seek to torment him for their own terrible ends. Meanwhile: a car is crashed, two witches blind themselves, a tumor speaks its first words, and a perfectly good bowl of oatmeal is left to go cold.

Review: The Sandman Universe #1

With a flourish of alliterative narration from Lucien the Librarian, the return to the Dreaming commences in The Sandman Universe #1, a one-shot with a story credit to original Sandman creator Neil Gaiman that sets up four separate books set in this universe. Each creative team gets an opportunity to set up their stories in this comic. Gaiman, Si Spurrier, and Bilquis Evely use the fluid and ever changing nature of The Dreaming to visit the settings of the other Sandman Universe titles in a more urban fantasy and mythology driven version of all those intriguing fake trailers shown in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature. However, The Sandman Universe #1 also has an overarching narrative and final page cliffhanger and isn’t just a sampler platter.

There is Spurrier and  Evely’s The Dreaming that focuses on supporting characters of The Sandman and their hunt for Daniel, the Dream of the Endless as his realm cracks and shatters. It also acts as the framing story of Sandman Universe with Matthew the Raven traveling between physical, spiritual, and dream dimensions in his quest to find Daniel. There is also Kat Howard and Tom Fowler’s reimagining of Books of Magic featuring the boy wizard Tim Hunter and his mysterious teacher Rose, Nalo Hopkinson and Domo Stanton’s House of Whispers that introduces the New Orleans Voodoo religion to The Dreaming and has a young African-American lesbian couple as protagonists, and finally, Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, and Sebastian Fiumara‘s tortuous and twisting take on Lucifer, who must suffer to find his son and not be a absentee father like Yahweh. The framing story and three interludes have a strong narrative continuity thanks to the consistent, yet versatile colors of Mat Lopes and Simon Bowland’s Eisner-worthy letters as he takes over for the legendary Todd Klein.

Spurrier and Evely’s story that is set in The Dreaming has big ideas, humor, tragedy, and even horror as they reintroduce familiar denizens like Lucien the Librarian and Cain and Abel and introduce a new character in Dora, a female monster who can jump between dreams. Her agility is evident when Evely draws her multiple times in one panel, and Spurrier makes her a fast talker. She also has a dark side and isn’t a fan of the realm of the Dreaming because Morpheus lied to her a long time ago. The heavily inked flashback is some of Evely’s best work, gave me chills, and is the only time any members of the Endless speak in Sandman Universe. Like telling the story of a dream to a friend after the night you’ve had it, The Dreaming is all about setting chaos to order, but this seems like a tall order even though the epic quest format is pretty conventional.

After being unable to jump into the waking world via the food-laden dream of a woman with esophageal cancer, Matthew enters it via the dreams of Tim Hunter. While Bilquis Evely’s work is well-rendered and exquisite like a novel that is a masterpiece of both craft and plot, Tom Fowler’s work is messier, yet still highly detailed. Warts and all, t’s perfect for the story of an adolescent wizard, who suffers the second worst nightmare of any teen on the first day of high school. Kat Howard’s plot for this short glimpse into Hunter’s world is more Agatha Christie than JK Rowling, and it looks like Hunter will have to fend for himself for the most part even though she does give him a friend in Ellie.

Following Books of Magic, Matthew jumps into New Orleans and into a queer love story between Latoya and Maggie. However, Nalo Hopkinson and Domo Stanton immediately throw them into world of conflict between gods and goddesses, boundaries between worlds, and magical items. The Louisiana Voodoo goddess Erzulie is introduced in this story and is quite the mystery. Hopkinson and Stanton craft a true urban fantasy story as the life of a family and two young lovers intersects with forces beyond their control. There’s a lushness and beauty to Stanton’s art, and he and colorist Mat Lopes create a wonderful effect that turns the bayou into a scrying mirror.

The last story that Matthew wanders into before reaching the “end” of his quest for Daniel is Lucifer’s, and it’s told in horror tinged, nine panel grid severity by Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, and Sebastian Fiumara. The Fiumaras strip away the David Bowie Lucifer that left his kingdom to open a club in L.A. and play piano and strip him down to something more malevolent with images that evoke more contempt than sympathy for the devils like starving ravens. Lucifer is on a journey again, but it’s not a fun field trip and more of a bloody vision quest. Along the way, Watters, Fiumara, and Fiumara riff off Lucifer’s first appearance in The Sandman where Morpheus defeats him in battle using the embodiment of hope. But hope might not win this time…

With carefully crafted artwork, writing that is both intelligent and down to Earth, and stories that have a distinct feel yet are connected through the wonderful device that is the Dreaming, The Sandman Universe #1 is a fantastic return of comics’ greatest creations as its creator, Neil Gaiman, hands off the torch to other skilled creators just like Morpheus did to Daniel over two decades in the first volume of Sandman. It’s a wonderful blurring of lines between reality and fiction.

Story: Neil Gaiman, Si Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters
Art: Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Domo Stanton, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara
Colors: Mat Lopes Letters: Simon Bowland 

Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: The Sandman Universe #1

The Sandman Universe #1

(W) Si Spurrier, Nalo Hopkinson, Kat Howard, Dan Watters (A) Bilquis Evely, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Tom Fowler, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara (CA) Jae Lee

From the mind of New York Times #1 bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a new world filled with dreams, nightmares and wonderful characters living together in a shared universe for a new story unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
A rift between worlds has opened, revealing a space beyond the Dreaming. Meanwhile, a book from Lucien’s library is discovered by a group of children in the waking world where it should not exist. Lucien calls for Matthew the Raven to seek out their master, Daniel, Lord of Dreams.

As Matthew flies across the Waking World and others, he finds a young boy named Timothy Hunter who, in his dreams, has become the world’s most powerful magician-but in his nightmares he is the world’s greatest villain. A new House has appeared in the realm of the Dreaming: the House of Whispers, with its proprietor, a fortune-teller called Erzulie. And elsewhere, Lucifer has fallen again, only this time he might be trapped in a Hell of his own design.

Spiraling out of this special issue will be four all-new series set in the Sandman Universe. It all starts here!

Preview: Detective Comics #982

Detective Comics #982

(W) Michael Moreci (A/CA) Sebastian Fiumara
In Shops: Jun 13, 2018
SRP: $2.99

“The Cursing of Gotham City!” The abduction of a child by a strange, militant, religious sect of Gotham’s homeless takes Batman into the city’s darkest subterranean tunnels… and into the upside-down world of the vicious spirit Deacon Blackfire!

The Sandman Universe Gets Its Artists

Today Vertigo announced the incredible artists who will be bringing the Sandman Universe to life! Bilquis Evely, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara, and Tom Fowler will join the imprint as series artists for the recently announced Neil Gaiman-curated line of books. The Sandman Universe will kick off with the oversize special The Sandman Universe #1, followed by The Dreaming and House of Whispers in September, then Lucifer and Books of Magic in October.

Here are the creative teams behind these new series:

  • The Dreaming—written by Si Spurrier with art by Bilquis Evely

  • House of Whispers—written by Nalo Hopkinson with art by Dominike “Domo” Stanton

  • Lucifer—written by Dan Watters with art by Max Fiumara and Sebastian Fiumara

  • Books of Magic—written by Kat Howard with art by Tom Fowler

All writers and artists will collaborate on The Sandman Universe #1, available August 8, 2018. Check out artwork from all four artists, with colors by Mat Lopes above and below.

Review: All-Star Batman #14

Batman is put to the ultimate test! Faced with either losing his future as Batman or the person he loves most, the Dark Knight must decide which ultimate price he is willing to pay.

The First Ally” wraps up in All-Star Batman #14. The issue bounces back and forth focused on Alfred’s training when he was younger and the present where Alfred must rescue Bruce from Briar and his Knight. It’s an interesting story with some twists until the end that are good but when thinking about them feel rather too predictable and an attempt to be in your face introspective. It’s like those times when the hero must face the evil version of themselves. It can work, but at the same time maybe the metaphor doesn’t have to be literal?

Writer Scott Snyder does put together a solid tale though and together with the previous thirteen issues he has crafted a story that’s a solid breakdown of Batman as a character and this last arc has done an excellent job of adding depth to Alfred. I’d love to see more of his history explored.

The art by Rafael Albuquerque is amazing as expected and there’s one moment that’ll stand out and get readers to scream “hell yeah.” Albuquerque is one of the best artists out there and the art is as awesome as expected.

Albuquerque does double duty joined by Rafael Scavone in writing in a back-up story that actually dovetails into the main story nicely. It’s a cool twist and a great way to bring the stories together. That story’s art is provided by Sebastian Fiumara and it works well with Albuquerque’s main story art. The two styles feel like they’re part of the same comic and I’d like to see more of Fiumara on Batman (as well as Albuquerque).

This is a solid finale that has some really solid moments and Snyder has pulled off an impressive thing in adding depth to characters in a way that feels natural. Overall, this series has done a great job of exploring Batman in a way that we get to think about the themes of the character but at the same time it’s done in stories that are entertaining from beginning to end.

Story: Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Rafael Scavone
Art: Rafael Albuquerque, Sebastian Fiumara
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.65 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: All-Star Batman #14

All-Star Batman #14

(W) Scott Snyder (A) Sebastian Fiumara (A/CA) Rafael Albuquerque
In Shops: Oct 04, 2017
SRP: $4.99

“The First Ally” finale! In the final issue of Scott Snyder’s high-octane run on ALL STAR BATMAN, he and superstar artist Rafael Albuquerque put Batman to the ultimate test! Faced with either losing his future as Batman or the person he loves most, the Dark Knight must decide which ultimate price he is willing to pay.

Review: All-Star Batman #13

As painful secrets from the past are revealed, Batman must face down a nemesis unlike any he’s seen before-or risk the horrific consequences of the Genesis Engine falling into the wrong hands!

In the fourth part of “The First Ally” we get even more of Alfred’s history as writer Scott Snyder adds layers to a character that has played the sidekick for much of his existence. In All-Star Batman #13 we see more of Alfred’s past as he trains to take on his role as a British version of Batman in the past while at the same time the ghosts of the past haunt him and Batman in the present.

What Snyder does that’s really interesting in this story is that with this new page in Alfred’s life it puts his wisdom in an even more interesting context where he knows Batman’s pain in more ways than he’s let on. We know that he served in the military but this new story makes his story much more of a mirror to Bruce’s. His advice takes on a deeper meaning in that it’s from his own experiences as opposed to wisdom.

All of this is impressively presented with tons of action and a pace that never lets up.

That’s helped by the art team that includes Rafael Albuquerque on pencils and inks and Cris Peter on colors. The art is amazing as I’d expect by Albuquerque but Peter’s colors pop in a dayglow style that reminds me of the twinkle of Gotham’s city lights. The color choice somehow enhances this as the fever dream it feels like.

In a back-up story we get even more history of Batman in the fourth part of “Killers-in-Law” that sees Batman trying to stop a gun shipment into Gotham. Written by Rafael Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone with art by Sebastian Fiumara, the story is the type of one that adds some more depth to Batman without massively rewriting his history. It’s an entertaining story that’s perfect as a back-up and beyond entertaining with its action and small details.

All-Star Batman continues the series’ impressive streak of adding rich character to Batman’s world without rewriting his past in any major way. It shows you can add to a character who’s been around for decades without rewriting the past. Snyder continues to impress and the entire series has benefited from a truly all-star creative team of artists. Easily one of DC’s best releases with each issue and I look forward to what’s to come.

Story: Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Rafael Scavone
Art: Rafael Albuquerque and Sebastian Fiumara (A/CA) Rafael Albuquerque
Story: 8.35 Art: 9.0 Overall: Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: All-Star Batman #13

All-Star Batman #13

(W) Scott Snyder (A) Sebastian Fiumara (A/CA) Rafael Albuquerque
In Shops: Aug 30, 2017
SRP: $4.99

“THE FIRST ALLY” part four! As painful secrets from the past are revealed, Batman must face down a nemesis unlike any he’s seen before-or risk the horrific consequences of the Genesis Engine falling into the wrong hands!

Preview: Superman Vol. 3 Multiplicity

Superman Vol. 3 Multiplicity

(W) Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason (A) Joe Prado, Ryan Sook, Clay Mann, Ed Benes, Jorge Jimenez, Tony S. Daniel, Sebastian Fiumara, Sandu Florea (CA) Oclair Albert (A/CA) Ivan Reis
In Shops: Aug 02, 2017
SRP: $16.99

All around the Multiverse, Supermen are going missing- someone is collecting them! Joining forces, the collective of Men of Steel must find a way to escape their cells and defeat their captor. Plus, Superman meets Swamp Thing! Collects SUPERMAN #14-17 and ANNUAL #1.

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