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Review: Infinite Frontier #0

Infinite Frontier #0

Dark Knights: Death Metal is over and we’ve seen a possible future timeline in “Future State”. Now, DC begins to chart its path with the first crumbs teased in Infinite Frontier #0. The issue serves as a guide as to the various series and status-quo that awaits them. With a new omniverse to explore, anything is possible and the comic does its job to remind us of that.

The comic’s story is delivered in a narrative driven by two characters as our guide. It’s a spin on the classic Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Wonder Woman believes a threat is looming and wants to witness the state of things before making a major decision about her role in the DC Universe.

With Wonder Woman and Spectre as our guide, we’re taken on a tour of the characters highlighting the comics to come. The Justice League, Batman, Wonder Girl, Alan Scott, Teen Titans Academy, Superman, Green Arrow and Black Canary, Star Girl, Green Lanterns, and the Flash all get a moment to show off where things stand. All of it is good and interesting though few of what’s presented really excites. It feels like an extended teaser and preview. It takes its concept as a guidebook almost too seriously. The comic feels a bit more like the extension of the ending of Dark Knights: Death Metal where we saw many of these ideas initially teased.

Infinite Frontier #0 credits

But, what’s intriguing is what’s presented and doesn’t have a comic attached to them. Infinite Frontier #0 teases more than what’s already announced giving hope as to what we’ll see in July and beyond. There’s also teases through artwork of the various series DC teased at the recent ComicsPro. It’s interesting in that way that the stories feel less like the exciting first 15 minutes before the credits to get you pumped. Instead, the stories are a bit dry and more to lay out where things stand with the concepts thrown out being the hooks. The action isn’t the hook, the ideas are.

The art of the comic is solid. Each segment flows into the next and with a few exceptions, the styles work well together. There are some fantastic spreads with Wonder Woman as she talks to Spectre about what she’s witnessing. There’s a few panels and pages that’ll leave you lingering to stare at. The colors really pop on pages delivering a sense of energy that really fits the new status of the DC Universe.

Infinite Frontier #0 isn’t bad but it doesn’t quite excite. By the end of the issue I found myself more excited about concepts than the comics themselves. Very few of the segments left me wanting to immediately find out what happens next. Instead, it the comic feels like a short ashcan, teasing what’s to come with a few pages and back material to fill things out. It shows what’s to come but it never quite puts things over. Instead, it nails its role as a guide, a way to browse what DC has to offer.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis, James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Joëlle Jones, Tim Sheridan, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Joshua Williamson, Geoff Johns, Geoffrey Thorne
Art: David Marquez, Jorge Jimeez, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, Joëlle Jones, Stephen Byrne, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Jamal Igle, Alex Maleev, Todd Nauck, Dexter Soy, Howard Porter, John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson
Color: Tamra Bonvillain, Tomeu Morey, Emilio Lopez, Jordie Bellaire, Stephen Byrne, Alejandro Sanchez, Hi-Fi, Alex Sinclair, Brad Anderson
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Get a Look at Saladin Ahmed & Sami Kivelä’s Abbott: 1973 #3 from BOOM!

BOOM! Studios has revealed a first look at Abbott: 1973 #3, the latest issue of the new series from Miles Morales: Spider-Man mastermind and Eisner Award-winning writer Saladin Ahmed and acclaimed artist Sami Kivelä, with colorist Mattia Iacono and letterer Jim Campbell. This new five-issue series returns to the Hugo Award-nominated world of Abbott, as the eponymous unstoppable reporter tackles a new corruption taking over Detroit in 1973 and the supernatural threat behind it, available in March 2021.

The dark forces terrorizing Detroit have struck Elena Abbott where it hurts most…and she’s going to strike back. But even after pulling together an uneasy alliance with the last people she expected, Abbott is about to learn her enemies are one step ahead of her… and it might cost her the person she loves most.

Abbott: 1973 #3 features cover art by Taj Tenfold, Raúl Allén, and Dani with colors by Tamra Bonvillain. It will be available for sale on March 17, 2021.

ABBOTT: 1973 #3

Stare into the Face of Evil in Proctor Valley Road #1

BOOM! Studios has revealed a first look at Proctor Valley Road #1, kicking off a star-studded new horror limited series from visionary writer Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Franquiz, and Tamra Bonvillain about the mysterious monsters that haunt Proctor Valley Road – and the four misfit teenagers who must stop them. Proctor Valley Road #1, developed in partnership with UCP Graphic, is available on March 3, 2021.

August, Rylee, Cora & Jennie have organized a Ghost Tour with their classmates on the most haunted, demon-infested stretch of road in America to fund attending the concert of their dreams. But when their visit turns deadly, these four friends race to rescue the missing students…before the town tears them limb from limb. Now they must slay the evils roaming Proctor Valley Road…along with the monsters lurking in the hearts of 1970s America.

Proctor Valley Road #1 features main cover art by Franquiz, along with variant covers from superstars Chris Wildgoose, Christian Ward, and Peach Momoko.

Proctor Valley Road #1

Review: Future State: Harley Quinn #2

Future State: Harley Quinn #2

The debut of Future State: Harley Quinn is a comic that caught me off guard. It used Harley’s background in a take on Silence of the Lambs in this new Gotham. Future State: Harley Quinn #2 wraps up the story in a nice two-issue twist that leaves us wanting more.

In this future Gotham, the Magistrate has outlawed masks hunting down some of the biggest names. Black Mask is still out there and Harley is in prison and being used to try to capture him. Playing Clarice to Harley’s Lecter is Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow.

Written by Stephanie Phillips, Future State: Harley Quinn #2 is an interesting take on the character playing off of her smarts more than her wackiness. It’s a Harley I like a lot more making her more than a comedic foil. While the exact details about Crane and Black Mask don’t get too far into the weeds, what’s presented is really interesting. We get to see Harley as she works the system to get her out of the mess she’s in. Black Mask is really a “fill in the slot” role whose more of a means to tell the story Phillips wants to tell. That’s the back and forth between Harley and Crane of who’s smarter.

This is a world and series I want to see more of. The concept of Crane having gone legit and working for the Magistrate is intriguing and something I want to see more of. But, it’s the dance with Harley that’s really intriguing. It’s a more cerebral superhero comic with Harley giving just enough to meet her goals. But, also staying a few steps ahead of Crane.

The art continues its anime inspired and neon infused visuals. Simone DiMeo and Toni Infante team up with Tamra Bonvillain on color and Troy Peteri on lettering. The future Gotham plays well to Harley’s visuals highlighting her bright colors and look. The neon really makes the character pop and though the story is “dark” overall, taking place at night, the art and color still feel bright with a visual punch. There’s a solid visual punch to it all that really plays to all of the strengths of the story and character. Black Mask, Scarecrow, and Harley all look solid with a slight anime look to them all but not quite fully diving into that style.

Future State: Harley Quinn #2 is a great second issue that wraps up the story quite nicely. It’s a solid read that builds upon this new Gotham nicely. It’s nice to see a story more focused on Harley’s smarts and background in psychology than just her goofy sense. The comic still delivers some solid humor despite the setting and world bringing the laughs and leaving us wanting more.

Story: Stephanie Phillips Art: Simone DiMeo, Toni Infante
Color: Tamra Bonvillain Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Your First Look at Once & Future #15

BOOM! Studios has revealed today a first look at Once & Future #15, continuing a new story arc in the critically acclaimed series from New York Times bestselling writer Kieron Gillen, Russ Manning Award-winning artist Dan Mora, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Ed Dukeshire, about retired monster hunter Bridgette McGuire, her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, and their intrepid ally Rose who protect their nation from legends and myths risen from the grave to battle for dominion over the land.

Bridgette and Duncan return to a familiar place to pick up Lancelot’s trail, while Rose comes face to face with another member of the McGuire family she was not expecting to see…

Once & Future #15 features main cover art by Mora and variant cover art by Eisner Award-nominated artist Matías Bergara and a black and white variant of Mora’s main cover. It comes to store shelves on January 20, 2021.

Once & Future #15

The true star of The Next Batman is Derington and Bonvillain’s Gotham City

For a DC Comics first, the publisher’s first black Batman as part of its official cannon and multiverse, Future State: The Next Batman #1 is somewhat underwhelming. That’s not to say it’s a bad comic, but given its short runtime and the fact this was to be a momentous occasion, this first entry of the miniseries set within the world of Future State is not the statement on the future of DC I thought it would be.

But these observations largely concern the new Batman’s character development and plot progression domains. I believe writer John Ridley could’ve gone for a more explosive opening rather than the more subdued and slow-paced intro he settled for.

Future State: The Next Batman #1

Fortunately, Future State: The Next Batman #1 is very much a two-sided coin, with the other side belonging to Nick Derington’s kinetic and vibrant illustrations and Tamra Bonvillain’s pop-like colors. What this team achieved with their share of the storytelling goes above and beyond what the words accomplished, giving us a new and truly different take on Gotham City.

Future State is presented as a dystopian version of the DCU in which a private police force called The Magistrate is cracking down on masks in the name of law and order. As such, this short jump into the future feels more science fiction than the usual superhero comic. There are traces of cyberpunk and classic police state imagery coursing through the majority of the Future State stories. Derington and Bonvillain take full advantage of this to give a masterclass on worldbuilding through their version of Gotham while still honoring the city’s past iterations.

In a surprise twist on the traditional Batman formula, Derington and Bonvillain decide to bathe Gotham in colors. Whereas artists such as Greg Capullo, J.H. Williams III, Frank Miller, and Jim Lee have gone for more of a modern gothic look for their Gothams (all unique in their own way), Derington and Bonvillain aim at altering the city’s very identity with more lights, which means less shadows to hide in.

Future State: The Next Batman #1

Whereas the artists gave us a city defined by dark alleyways and towering symbols of moral corruption, Derington and Bonvillain opted for a Gotham that’s wide awake and somewhat paranoid. It’s hard to escape the sensation that Batman is being watched from all sides and that Gotham is playing against the hero’s strengths. As consequence, Future State Gotham becomes a living trap that forces Batman to do his bidding while being completely exposed to the police force that patrols the city.

Bonvillain’s colors excel at creating this effect. Even when in an alley, nothing is entirely drenched black. There’s a light source in every panel, as if a spotlight were always trained on Batman. It creates a sense of inevitable surveillance and raises the stakes in each action sequence because of it.

Future State: The Next Batman #1

Derington’s line work is full of movement and fluidity, taking a step away from the brooding and inky settings Gotham is known for. For a dystopian version of iconic city, the comic prefers to keep things from looking too futuristic. In fact, it’s in the Magistrate’s security officers and gadgets that The Next Batman finds its science fiction elements. Batman’s mouth covering does give the character a semi-futuristic look and sets him apart from the previous Batman, but Derington and Ridley put him in a future in which architectural and technological change has come slowly.

Despite that, the comic emits an almost neon glow that remind readers that the new Gotham is no longer the hunting ground of Bruce Wayne’s Batman. It seems to demand a new Batman take to patroling its streets. It adds to the comic’s sense of discovery and strangeness. This Gotham doesn’t belong to the New Batman yet. It has to be tamed. As a result, this turns the caped crusader into a candidate for the title of city protector. As of yet, he’s merely in the running for the position.

Future State: The Next Batman #1
The Next Batman #1

Fans of Batman Universe, written by Brian Michael Bendis, will have a lot to look forward to in Future State: The Next Batman series as well given Derington’s already impressive interpretation of Batman and his world in that book. In Batman Universe, colored by Dave Stewart, Derington goes for a more Brave and the Bold vibe that highlights Batman’s visual versatility. He gets to play with more fantasy elements here than in Next Batman, but the sense that he’s talented enough to make Batman his own is already present there.

The visual quality of Future State: The Next Batman #1 guides Batman’s character development down less conventional paths. That the city is so new as well means we as readers are also testing this Batman out. He has to win our hearts and our hard-earned money come new comics Wednesday. So far, Derington and Bonvillain are making a strong case for it on visuals alone.


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Review: Future State: The Next Batman #1

Future State: The Next Batman #1

With John Ridley writing the main story, there’s no way I wasn’t going to read Future State: The Next Batman #1. A new Batman in a fascist Gotham written by Ridley is a combination that’s right up my alley. And even with a high bar to cover, I was not only pleased, but excited to read the next issue and wishing we were getting more than two.

In this future Gotham, a militaristic police called The Magistrate has taken over pushing the Gotham P.D. to the side. “The Bat” and masks are outlawed and hunted down. A new Batman is in town not just stopping crime but attempting to save masks from a fate at the hand of the Magistrate.

Ridley delivers such a strong opening and familiar but different take on the character. There’s a classic Batman vibe to it all going back to the basics of a man in a costume with his grappling hook and smoke. It’s theatrical in many ways and feels like a cross of the early years of the character and Batman 1989. Ridley also spins things a bit with layers on the fascism and vigilantism. Some take Batman as an extension of a rightwing agenda as far as justice but to see him rail against an overreaching government is a nice and different spin. It makes me want to see Ridley release a maxi-series further exploring the concepts touched upon here.

The art by Nick Derington is top-notch. There are so many panels and pages that evoke classic Batman with a few paying an homage to classic imagery. Derington is joined by Tamra Bonvillain on color and Clayton Cowles on colors. The combination creates a look and feel of a “classic Batman” story and some of the modern classics that use the shadows to evoke fear and excitement for what’s to come.

Future State: The Next Batman #1 is one of the expanded “Future State” issues featuring two other stories.

Outsiders” is written by Brandon Thomas with art by Sumit Kumar, ink by Kumar and Raul Fernandez, color by Jordie Bellaire, and lettering by Steve Wands. We get to see a new crew of Outsiders as they attempt to take down The Magistrate. It’s a great extension of the world in the main story showing more of the resistance against the fascist police. There’s a lot packed into the story really setting things up and creating a world out of a dozen pages or so. It feels in a way two short stories itself but is such a strong entry that expands the world and compliments the main story. The art is fantastic as well delivering some great action.

Arkham Knights Chapter 1 Rise” is written by Paul Jenkins with art by Jack Herbert, color by Gabe Eltaeb, and lettering by Rob Leigh. Much like the other story, this one also adds a lot to this new world. The Arkham Knights is a squad of Batman villains who have come together to take on The Magistrate. There’s a Suicide Squad vibe about it but the concept and how it’s presented is really interesting. It’s the specifics of the concept that really stand out. The art too is great with updates to classic characters.

Future State: The Next Batman #1 is a winner of a comic. I wanted to read more immediately and now I want an entire series exploring this world. There’s some great concepts here and an interesting exploration of the line between justice and fascism. Where the line is drawn is a great concept to dive in to and this comic dances around it with some fantastic writing and characters. A lot is packed into the extended issue and it’s such a welcome addition to the DC and Batman mythology.

Story: John Ridley, Brandon Thomas, Paul Jenkins Art: Nick Derington, Sumit Kumar, Jack Herbert
Ink: Sumit Kumar, Raul Fernandez Color: Tamra Bonvillain, Jordie Bellaire, Gabe Eltaeb

Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands, Rob Leigh
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Future State: Harley Quinn #1

Future State: Harley Quinn #1

Future State: Harley Quinn #1 is the first comic I read as part of DC’s Future State and if it’s any indication, we’re in for a treat of two months. With the multiverse saved in Dark Nights: Death Metal and a world of possibility now open, DC has taken that opportunity to take two months to tell stories about possible futures. New creative teams with new concepts breathing some fresh air into a line that has been all over the place.

In this future Gotham, The Magistrate has come in getting rid of Batman and the outlawing of “masks”. A high-tech police state, the world feels like the futuristic takes we’ve seen in so many anime, neon yet dark.

Writer Stephanie Phillips delivers a very interesting start of things in Future State: Harley Quinn #1. Harley has been captured by a reformed Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow. Instead of being executed, she’s tasked with providing her expertise and knowledge in how to capture other villains still loose in the city. It’s a spin on a concept we’ve seen so many times before and near perfected in Silence of the Lambs. Harley plays Hannibal Lector’s role to Crane’s Clarice.

It’s a very interesting spin on the character and one we’ve only seen here and there. Phillips lays heavily into Quinn’s previous experience working with inmates in Arkham and that expertise is what’s on display. It’s a welcome change to the dynamic moving away from the wacky jokes and off the wall energy and instead giving us something familiar but new. This Harley still makes cracks and goes on tangents but is less of a Looney Tunes character. It’s one I personally enjoy reading a lot more and hopefully this is what we can expect when her regular series returns.

Phillips also really digs into the drive of some of Batman’s rogue gallery. It’s something that’s not explored enough and to see this solution of dealing with them makes you question what’s been done before. Harley points out what’s driving these villains and uses it against them to capture them.

The art by Simone Demeo, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Troy Peteri pops. As I described above, the style reminds me much more of manga and anime with brighter colors highlighted by pinks, purples, blues, and reds. There’s a dayglow aspect about it all that catches the eye as it looks so different than what DC regularly publishes. The character designs too are fantastic with an animated/anime style about them. It’s visually fantastic to go along with a solid story.

Future State: Harley Quinn #1 is a hell of a start and I world I want to see more of. There’s so much teased and hinted at, I want more! Two issues are not enough! The look and story are fantastic and such a change from what we’ve seen so often with the character. While some aspects are familiar and been done, the overall package is fresh and new. It’s a fantastic comic with Harley Quinn and that’s coming from someone who’s not the biggest fan of the character. If I’m recommending it, it’s a solid buy.

Story: Stephanie Phillips Art: Simone Dimeo
Color: Tamra Bonvillain Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Take a Trip Down Proctor Valley Road with Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Franquiz, and Tamra Bonvillain

BOOM! Studios has announced Proctor Valley Road #1, kicking off a star-studded new horror limited series from visionary writer Grant Morrison, Alex Child, Naomi Franquiz, and Tamra Bonvillain (Once & Future) about the mysterious monsters that haunt Proctor Valley Road – and the four misfit teenagers who must stop them. Proctor Valley Road, developed in partnership with NBCUniversal, debuts in comic shops on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. NBCUniversal’s UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, will also adapt the series for television and will shop the adaptation to networks and streaming platforms.

August, Rylee, Cora, and Jennie have organized a “Spook Tour” with their classmates on the most haunted, demon-infested stretch of road in America to fund attending the concert of their dreams. But when their visit turns deadly, these four friends race to rescue the missing students…before the town tears them limb from limb. Now they must slay the evils roaming Proctor Valley Road…along with the monsters lurking in the hearts of 1970s America.

Proctor Valley Road #1 is for mature readers and features main cover art by Franquiz, along with variant covers from superstars Chris Wildgoose, Christian Ward, and Peach Momoko.

Get a First Look at Once & Future #14

BOOM! Studios has revealed a first look at Once & Future #14, continuing a new story arc in the critically acclaimed series from New York Times bestselling writer Kieron Gillen, Russ Manning Award-winning artist Dan Mora, colorist Tamra Bonvillain, and letterer Ed Dukeshire, about retired monster hunter Bridgette McGuire, her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, and their intrepid ally Rose who protect their nation from legends and myths risen from the grave to battle for dominion over the land. It comes to store shelves on December 16, 2020.

Gran, Duncan and Rose are on a new quest to learn more about Merlin’s plan when they come face-to-face with … the fearsome Green Knight! But if they want to track down the powerful Nimue and stay one step ahead of their enemy, it seems that the unlikeliest member of the trio will need to play this knight’s twisted game… even if it means facing certain death.

Once & Future #14
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