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Review: The Visitor #4

The Visitor #4

How many people would you kill to change the world? The Visitor continues to strike from the shadows, but what kind of change is he killing to create? The Visitor #4 dives into this very question.

I was a touch let down last issue. There didn’t really seem to be a lot of plot furtherance between the second and third issue. The art remained pretty consistent. There’s a lot more to get your teeth into this issue. Thankfully, as we learn more about the Visitor we can start to piece together what his mission entails. The end goal is still a little murky, which leaves me wondering whether the title character is the antagonist. There was a little more light given on which side the Visitor falls this week. It’s this grey area that I’m both thoroughly enjoying and at the same time unsure of, if I’m honest.

But it’s the uncertainty that’s so much fun about this book.

With the The Visitor #4 we’re given a good look into the who of the Visitor, and a solid glance more of why the Visitor has come back in time to kill some scientists, but the exact details of what the Visitor is trying to prevent from happening remains elusive still.

The Visitor #4 is written by Paul Levitz and features artist MJ Kim, colorist Ulises Arreola, and letterer Simon Bowland. I previously wrote that “[the comic] follows the titular character as he’s trying to eliminate something that the Japanese scientists he’s hunting are working on and the UN Security agent Dauber assigned to protect them. Levitz keeps things entirely believable when the scientists keep frustrating Dauber’s efforts to keep them safe by insisting on their secrecy as they all underestimate the Visitor.” It’s still true. I’m leaving it here because I don’t need to update the summary from the second to the third issue. Or the third to the fourth, really.

I enjoyed this issue more than the previous two; further information on the backstory to the Visitor was very welcome, as was some clarification as to his more than human qualities. The art of Kim with Arreola’s coloring is stronger this issue than the last; the action was kinetic fast and exciting. Watching the Visitor escape helicopters was a joy as the artistic team’s work would have made for an excellent live action sequence.

After the slight slump of the previous issue, The Visitor #4 restores my faith in the series. It’s still not the best thing I’ve read this week, but I sure enjoyed the book. It’s a fun science fiction romp that touches on various different aspects of the question: what would you do to change the future? In the case of the Visitor, murder isn’t out of the question. So whatever he’s trying to change must be something big – and I’m really curious as to what that is.

Story: Paul Levitz Art: MJ Kim
Color: Diego Rodriguez Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: The Visitor #4 (of 6)

THE VISITOR #4 (of 6)

Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by MJ KIM
Colors by ULISES ARREOLA
Letters by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover A by AMILCAR PINNA
Cover B by JON DAVIS-HUNT
Cover C by NETHO DIAZ
Preorder Cover by TONCI ZONJIC

How many people would you kill to change the world?
The Visitor continues to strike from the shadows, but what kind of change is he killing to create?

THE VISITOR #4 (of 6)

Preview: Ronin Island #11

Ronin Island #11

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Colorist: Irma Pak
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover Artists:
 
    Main Cover: Giannis Milonogiannis
    Preorder Cover: Ethan Young
Price: $3.99

The war for the Island rages on—but in the heat of battle, will neither side open their eyes to the true threat bearing down on them, in the form of the Byōnin?

Ronin Island #11

Preview: Killswitch #3

KILLSWITCH #3

Writer(s): Jeffrey and Susan Bridges
Artist Name(s): Walter Geovani (Pencils, Inks), Brittany Peer (Colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
Cover Artist(s): Natasha Alterici
24 pgs./ M / FC
$3.99

Marcella’s captured and a surprising truth is revealed, while the Augurs’ true selves bubble to the surface as they fight for their lives and freedom. Farrell gets a nasty surprise, and Jackson lets his single-minded determination get the better of him.

KILLSWITCH #3

Review: The Visitor #3

The Visitor #3

The Visitor’s origin revealed in The Visitor #3!?

As the unkillable assassin continues hunting his targets, the fate of the future begins to come into focus.

I really wanted to love The Visitor #3 because the first two issues were fun reads. This is as well, but less so than the first. If I’m honest, the plot feels like it’s dragging its feel here; we had a few pages revealing some backstory for the Visitor, and aside from the scenes showing what the Visitor is capable of, the rest seems a rehash of most of the previous conversations had between the same characters that effectively boils down to “we’re so smart doing this [unrevealed] thing right under their noses! We have to stay here [inexplicably] so protect us!”

I’m ready to know a little more about anything and everything within this story. There’s more treading water than furthering the plot beyond what we’ve already seen in the past two issues.

The Visitor #3 is written by Paul Levitz and features artist MJ Kim, colorist Ulises Arreola, and letterer Simon Bowland. I previously wrote that “[the comic] follows the titular character as he’s trying to eliminate something that the Japanese scientists he’s hunting are working on and the UN Security agent Dauber assigned to protect them. Levitz keeps things entirely believable when the scientists keep frustrating Dauber’s efforts to keep them safe by insisting on their secrecy as they all underestimate the Visitor.” It’s still true. I’m leaving it here because I don’t need to update the summary from the second to the third issue.

I still enjoyed the issue. The backstory to the Visitor was certainly interesting. The art of Kim with Arreola’s coloring is for the most part very solid. I say for the most part because there were hiccups that aren’t worth highlighting. The way the pair capture the fluidity of the Visitor’s movements amidst the flying bullets seems effortless. The art really stands out when you notice how the other characters seem to struggle to catch the Visitor. It’s very much showing the excellence by focusing on the mundane.

Despite my misgivings about the shallowness of the plot, this was still a very enjoyable book. I’d be lying if I said The Visitor #3 is a bad comic. It’s just not as good as the first two issues in the series. Hopefully, it’s the weakest of the series, because if this is as bad as The Visitor gets then I’d consider this a solid miniseries that’s well worth picking up.

Needless to say, where the plot falls a little in The Visitor #3 the comic is still a strong entry in the series. The art remains top notch. There’s enough here that you won’t feel robbed when it comes to the plot progression. It just feels like the comic is longer than it needs to be.

Story: Paul Levitz Art: MJ Kim
Color: Diego Rodriguez Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.1 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: The Visitor #3 (of 6)

THE VISITOR #3 (of 6)

Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by MJ KIM
Colors by ULISES ARREOLA
Letters by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover A by AMILCAR PINNA
Cover B by ALAN QUAH
Cover C by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI
Pre-Order Edition Cover by ADAM POLLINA
On sale FEBRUARY 19 | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

The Visitor’s origin revealed!?

As the unkillable assassin continues hunting his targets, the fate of the future begins to come into focus.

THE VISITOR #3 (of 6)

Review: Superman: Heroes #1

Superman: Heroes #1

I’m totally okay with Brian Michael Bendis finally allowing Superman to reveal his secret identity as Clark Kent. It seems like a sales gimmick or one that will be walked back in a couple years. It’s remarkably in-character and makes up for the half-assed “mystery” that was Event Leviathan. Superman: Heroes #1 shows the reactions to the big reveal. It does so from a variety of perspectives from Lois Lane to the Justice League. Drawn by the fantastic Kevin Maguire! to Clark Kent’s high school chemistry teacher in a sweet story by Matt Fraction and Scott Godlewski. Fraction also pens Jimmy Olsen’s reaction to his “pal” losing the secret identity. That features slick, emotive art from his Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen collaborator Steve Lieber.

And wait, that not’s all. After being terse in the Maguire 12 panel grid sequences, Batman gets to open up to Wonder Woman about his true feelings in regards to Superman’s reveal. It’s a powerful story written by Greg Rucka and drawn in atmospheric shadows by Mike Perkins. However, there’s room for comedy too. Booster Gold finally gets to shout that Superman is Clark Kent after keeping it in for so long because he’s from the future. This comic is a true marriage of different tones. Art and writing styles from Bendis and Maguire set up a running Plastic man gag to Batman coming up with legit, devil’s advocate style arguments for why Superman revealing his secret identity to the world is a terrible idea.

Bendis, Fraction, Rucka, Maguire, Perkins, Lieber, Mike Norton, and Godlewski use Superman: Heroes to show how important Superman is to the both the community of heroes in the DC Universe and the superhero genre as a whole. They also show his roots in Smallville, connections to Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, and the consequences of his actions. The best parts of this comic are connected to Smallville. The opening scene features a great conversation between Ma and Pa Kent and young Clark about feeling different or weird and having a greater responsibility to the world because of his abilities.

Superman: Heroes #1

The Fraction/Godlewski Superman and his chemistry teacher scene is really Eisner-worthy. From Godlewski’s clean line and the vivid colors to the underlying theme that it’s been Clark’s work ethic and moral compass that made him a great hero and man and not his superpowers. I also love how he draws Superman’s smile. Even if this means he got a C- in molecular chemistry. Clark Kent is the kid at the end of the bench who hustles for every loose ball, or the student that stays up late and goes to extra tutoring sessions that just happens to have the power of a god. Matt Fraction demonstrates his understanding of Superman’s moral character that pervades the “Truth” storyline as well as his, Rucka, and Bendis’ take on the Metropolis side of the DC Universe.

As evidenced by the “King Superman” plotline brewing over in Superman, Bendis isn’t afraid to look at the negative consequences of Superman revealing his secret identity. That extends to the moral dilemma he’s in as the Daily Planet is owned by Marisol Leone. However, that will be covered in later stories. Maybe Action Comics once the “Year of the Villain” shenanigans are over.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, Rucka and Perkins dig into it immediately in the form of the other 2/3 of the Trinity have a spirited conversation where neither Bruce or Diana is in the right. I really love the panels at the end of scene where Perkins’ heavy shadows lighten, and Diana tells Bruce that maybe he’s jealous that Superman can live his life out in the open and whole. The specters of Tom King’s botched Bat-marriage hang in the shadows of this one. Rucka’s dialogue gets to the core of Batman’s identity issues that have pervaded his best stories. He can’t retire or be a public-facing, but must strike fear into criminals as an archetype of fear.

Superman: Heroes #1 is a high note for Brian Michael Bendis’ current run on the Superman titles. It also features insightful writing from Matt Fraction as well as Greg Rucka reminding readers that he’s one of the greatest Batman and Wonder Woman writers. On the visual side, Mike Perkins shows a conversation can have just as much power as a good fight scene. Kevin Maguire is still the master of the superhero group shot. Steve Lieber’s comedic timing and use of beats works for friends being open and vulnerable together. Even if you aren’t current on Bendis’ Superman comics, Superman: Heroes #1 is worth picking up and dropping $5.99 on. It’s an intelligent and heartwarming take on the first superhero.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka
Art: Kevin Maguire, Mike Perkins, Steve Lieber

Art: Mike Norton, Scott Godlewski Colors: Paul Mounts, Gabe Eltaeb
Colors: Andy Troy, Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: Clayton Cowles, Troy Peteri, Simon Bowland
Story: 9.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Preview: Ronin Island #10

Ronin Island #10

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Colorist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover Artists:
      Main Cover:
Giannis Milonogiannis
    Preorder Cover: Ethan Young
Price: $3.99

With enemies on all sides, Hana and Kenichi struggle to protect the island and themselves. But the Shogun has a more sinister plan brewing, and for anyone to survive this fight, Kenichi will need to rally the island’s forces, and Hana will have to prove to those loyal to the Shogun that his way of life is not worth fighting for.

Ronin Island #10

Review: Adler #1

Adler #1

Adler #1 is kind of a nerdfest for anyone who enjoys Victorian literature with such luminaries as Jane Eyre, Estella Havisham, the vampire Carmilla, and even Ayesha from H. Rider Haggard’s She. Writer Lavie Tidhar and artist Paul McCaffrey let the women of these (For better or worse) long enduring late 19th century British novels have just as much fun as the male characters as they engage in shoot outs, witty repartee, and cloak and dagger scheming.

The story begins in the dark, PTSD-inducing imperalist haze of the Second Boer War in South Africa, which establishes Jane as a capable protagonist, who is relegated to the position of nurse even though she does the work of a doctor. While Irene Adler is much more verbose, Jane is a keen observer with McCaffrey giving he quick glances and facial expressions that look like processing or deep thinking. She is a sympathetic POV character and is much more than the sidekick that Adler monologues to as shown by the last several intrigue-filled pages.

Paul McCaffrey has already worked on the comic adaptation of Kim Newman’s fantastic Victorian alternate history novel Anno Dracula (Seriously, it kept me awake on a 10 hour drive from Washington, DC to Louisville, Kentucky.) so cobblestone streets, corsets, cravats, and steampunk blimps come naturally to him. His art is easy to follow and is naturalistic, but a little messed up just like Steve Dillon’s work. McCaffrey’s one weakness is a case of same face with the female characters who aren’t Ayesha, but thankfully, he emphasizes their different hair colors and fashion choices. Carmilla has a Goth thing going for her, Irene Adler is more steampunk, and Estella is an upper class mad scientist. Fashion and costume choice definitely helps establish character in Adler #1.

Another amusing part of Adler #1 is how minimized, and honestly pathetic, the role of the male characters are in the narrative. Irene Adler trolls Moriarty, who comes across as a villain of the week instead of a conniving Big Bad like Andrew Scott’s portrayal in BBC’s Sherlock that had the Internet shrieking every time he was even hinted to appear on the screen. Also, Holmes himself is a non-entity that doesn’t even appear on-panel because he’s too busy chasing rumors of giant hounds on the moors. Instead Adler #1 is about the extreme competence of Irene Adler as well as Jane Eyre trying to find her place in early 20th century England while Ayesha and Carmilla scheme and hint at plots just beginning to unravel.

With more of an emphasis on action, flashy, yet readable visuals, and character personality instead of mystery, Adler #1 is wonderful first course into Lavie Tidhar and Paul McCaffrey’s female-fronted world of Victorian character crossovers. The relationship between Jane and Adler is intrigued, there’s some gunplay, and Tidhar and McCaffrey definitely left me wanting more. Adler is a penny dreadful for the 2020s. I’m looking forward to see the relationship between Jane and Irene Adler develop just as much as the next cool late 19th century/early 20th century female historical figure or literary character cameo.

Story: Lavie Tidhar Art: Paul McCaffrey Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Lois Lane #9

Lois Lane #9

Written by Greg Rucka
Art and cover by Mike Perkins
Colors by Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by Simon Bowland
Variant cover by Bilquis Evely
In Shops: Mar 04, 2020

“Who, what, why, you know, all of it. Just do that thing you do, ok?” –Lois Lane

In the wake of a second attempt on her life, Lois takes the unprecedented step of…telling Superman to back off! As the Kiss of Death circles for another try, Lois’s search for answers takes her back into the political spotlight, while Renee uses a Gotham connection to find answers to another set of questions entirely.

Lois Lane #9 by Greg Rucka, Mike Perkins and Gabe Eltaeb hits shelves Wednesday March 4th, 2020.

Lois Lane #9
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