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Review: Home Sick Pilots #2

Home Sick Pilots #2

The Old James House has lost its ghosts. With her new powers, it’s up to Ami to bring them back…whether they want to come home or not. Even when they’re really big ghosts wrapped in metal, with lots of sharp edges and things. Home Sick Pilots #2 continues the intriguing horror series giving us a better idea as to what to expect going forward.

Picking up where the debut issue left off, Ami attempts to retrieve a lucky horseshoe in Home Sick Pilots #2. The horseshoe seems to have an agenda of its own not wanting to return to the house. The issue delivers a tragic tale of someone who has experienced nothing but good from the haunted horseshoe. What will her life be without it and does she want to return to that existence? Writer Dan Watters delivers a story that feels almost like a parable mixed with a little ghostbusting.

The issue hints a bit more as to what we can expect with the series. Its focus isn’t a missing Ami, presumably killed by the house. Instead, the house is using her to gather these items and ghosts, we assume. It’s a house with a mission and something on its mind apparently as it’s also not being clear with Ami as to what it’s done and what it wants.

The artwork by Caspar Wijngaard and letterer Aditya Bidikar continues to impress. The art delivers an intriguing visually intertwined narrative of Ami and her friends. We get the story around the Old James House which doesn’t seem as much of a horror story but that’s juxtaposed by the blood covering her friends as they attempt to figure out what to do. We also get a look at the ghost Ami captures in multiple ways and each is a fascinating design well worth examining.

Home Sick Pilots #2 moves the story along as well as delivering the backstory of Ami and her friends. It’s a solid horror story that feels like some classics in the genre. It’s not completely clear what’s going on but what has been presented is surely interesting and well worth checking out.

Story: Dan Watters Art: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar Designer: Tom Muller
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: S.W.O.R.D. #2

S.W.O.R.D. #2

S.W.O.R.D. began with a solid issue introducing us to this new aspect to the world of the X-Men. We were left with some intriguing questions and a direction I really wanted to dive in to. But, the second issue pivots. It’s distracted a bit by the events of King in Black playing out through numerous titles in the Marvel Universe. S.W.O.R.D. #2 had to do it in some ways but like so many new series that dive into an event, it feels a bit like a distraction. It’s a sidequest to the main event we want to see.

Al Ewing does his best with the situation by having the issue somewhat organically slide into it all. They’re on a mission, cut off from Earth. With no communication, a team needs to be assembled to help their fellow X-Men and see what’s going on.

The concept makes sense and it works. But, it feels a bit jarring as the Knull’s “victory” has just happened, there’s no lead up to it as if this group has been doing little to stop Knull and help up to this point.

But, Ewing focuses on the characters and their personalities to make the comic interesting. Like some other X-series involved with X of Swords, S.W.O.R.D. #2 keeps the focus on the characters and their being dumped into the situation. This isn’t a situation first sort of comic where characters are forced into the story.

But Ewing is even smarter focusing on just a few members of the cast. Clearly some of the personalities who will play a big role going forward. Wiz-Kid, Frenzy, and Abigail Brand get their moments but it’s Cortez, Random, and Mentallo that stand out. Mentallo and Cortez especially are the highlights of the comic as one plays a big role in Brand’s plan and the other schemes in classic ways. Those three characters should make long time X fans happy as the comic dances around their personalities hinting at the chaos they all will likely cause.

Valerio Schiti‘s art is top notch. Marte Gracia joins on color and Ariana Maher on lettering and together, the trio delivers a visually entertaining comic. Ewing delivers a script that has great moments but the art is the exclamation point that really makes it pop. Body language and face reactions are key in nailing the tone which feels more comedic than anything else. There’s a light and entertaining tone to the art instead of the dire situation you’d expect concerning what’s going on.

S.W.O.R.D. #2 feels a bit like a distraction from the main show but the team makes it work. Along with strong visuals, the story overall helps build what’s coming by focusing on a few characters who clearly will shake things up in upcoming issues. They make the best with what they’ve got and overall, it doesn’t completely derail the series too much. While I’d have liked to see it continue with the seeds laid by the first issue, S.W.O.R.D. #2 does a solid job of laying even more for machinations yet to come.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Valerio Schiti
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Ariana Maher Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Wolverine #8

Wolverine #8

Wolverine #8 celebrates 350 issues of Wolverine in solo adventures and for such a big number, the issue is rather… normal. Marvel has apparently decided to play things a bit conservative with an issue that’s pretty much a normal issue. There’s not a bunch of guest creators doing short stories or celebrating creators of the past. Instead, Wolverine #8 is a solid jumping-on point for those who haven’t been reading the series and want to check it out.

Writer Benjamin Percy, artist Adam Kubert, and colorist Antonio Fabela kick things off with a story featuring Wolverine and CIA operative Jeff Bannister. “War Stories” features the two soldiers sharing some of the scars they carry with them. It’s a solid opening and sets up things down the road but an entire issue of just this could have been an amazing anniversary issue.

There’s some real emotion and pain danced around with the opening and a full issue could have really delivered an amazing end to the year. The idea of these two soldiers sharing their pain and haunted past could make for a very interesting read. Mix it in with the very real world issue of PTSD in our soldiers and there’s potential magic. This would have been a very interesting way to “celebrate” 350 issues.

Wolverine #8‘s main story, also written by Percy, is a bit more traditional as Wolverine is tasked to continue the battle against Xeno and others attacking various facilities. In this case, the path leads him back to his Team X partner Maverick, a character whose use over the years has been rather mixed. It’s a pretty standard story but it at least delivers a jumping-on point for new readers. Most is explained and done well enough that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

Percy is joined by artist Viktor Bogdanovic and colorist Matthew Wilson. Along with letterer Cory Petit, the art is solid though feels a bit reserved in some ways. This isn’t a story with flashy splash pages or really panel breaking layouts. The panels are mostly boxes and the images are kept within. It’s an odd artistic choice in that the art looks good but it’s also not splashy.

For an anniversary issue, Wolverine #8 feels pretty average as far as issues. It’s a good issue and a good starting point for readers but this isn’t one that really celebrates anything. It seems to do that by just telling a solid and entertaining story.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Adam Kubert, Viktor Bogdanovic
Color: Antonio Fabela, Matthew Wilson Letterer/Production: Cory Petit Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Home Sick Pilots #1

Home Sick Pilots #1

I was not expecting that. That’s the main thought after reading Home Sick Pilots #1 an interesting ghost/horror debut. The first issue delivers some twists and turns and does it with a certain flair and style. It’s one of the more intriguing starts of the year.

Written by Dan Watters, Home Sick Pilots #1 centers around a punk band and its lead singer Ami and a haunted house. It’s 1984 and in its opening, a house strides across the suburban landscape like a wooden kaiju delivering restorative destruction. At its center is a woman who seems to be controling the constructed behemoth. It’s an unexpected start to the series teasing the reader with what’s to come and then delivering the steps of how we get there.

There’s a certain sense of style and cool about the world Watters has put together. The issue revolves around punk bands and their outsider status, a plot point that works and enhances the story. Like the house at the center of the story, the kids in these bands are broken a bit and rejected by society. The house and each character have much in common in how they’re perceived by society. They’re present and neither knows what to do with them.

Caspar Wijngaard‘s art brings a haunting eeriness to the series. Along with lettering from Aditya Bidikar, Home Sick Pilots #1 delivers a calm before its shocking moments drop. That calm helps to enhance and emphasize the crazy which is a literal house of horrors. Characters are murdered with almost glee widdling them down to a few to care about. It’s unexpected twists as to this point Watters’ story and dialogue had set up an interesting rivalry between groups making for an entertaining team-up. But, the house has a different direction to take it.

Home Sick Pilots #1 is a solid debut setting things up before pulling the rug out from under the reader. It takes us into a haunted house and delivers bodies without taking things over the top and making it about the gore. It focuses on the mystery of it all and like its victims, catches the reader off-guard. In what was expected to span out over a few issues, the body count is quick and swift hooking the reader and getting their attention. For those into horror and mystery, this is a debut to check out.

Story: Dan Watters Art: Caspar Wijngaard
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: X of Swords: Creation #1

X of Swords: Creation #1

X of Swords: Creation #1 kicks of the “first” major X event since the line’s revamp. Taking place across the various series and a few one-shots, the story focuses on Otherworld and a threat to Krakoa. The story dives deep into Excalibur lore and history, an interesting direction and choice for a first event. That X-history is weaved in with new deeper takes on characters. This is especially true of Apocalypse a character who has become a center of X-architect Jonathan Hickman’s X-vision.

For those who have read Excalibur’s past series, you might be a bit more excited for the event as it focuses on a threat for Otherworld and the Starlight Citadel, and Saturnyne. The story is a deep cut in some ways to past plot points and concepts that have felt shelved for years but have taken a prominent role in the current X-continuity. There’s so much more to discuss of this, along with news of the upcoming S.W.O.R.D. series, that points to a “mutant manifest destiny.” But, that’s only danced around in this event kick-off.

Instead, we get prophecies and an oncoming hoard with death and destruction. And in many ways, X of Swords: Creation #1 points to the current flaw in Hickman’s vision. With death no longer an obstacle for mutants, there’s little reason to not meet threats with overwhelming force. Any losses can be regenerated and brought back. You might as well send your heavy hitters every time and just subscribe to “shock and awe” to any and all threats. Instead, a small contingent is sent that we know will be overwhelmed feigning a true threat. But, writers Hickman and Tini Howard tease just enough mystery to make things interesting.

A gate must remain open between Krakoa and Otherworld for unknown reasons. The “sword” in the title is the traditional weapon but also points the the heavens with S.W.O.R.D., something we now know will expand mutantkind’s influence and reach. While the hoards march to Krakoa isn’t totally clear. There’s just enough to see what’s next in what amounts to a sword and sorcery/fantasy story meets X-Men plot. While it doesn’t quite excite, it also doesn’t fall flat.

The art by Pepe Larraz with color by Marte Gracia delivers. The design of characters have a nice horror meets Egyptian quality to them. They hearken to Apocalypse’s four horsemen quite well giving us a more traditional take on the Biblical concept. Scenes are packed with battle and action without being overwhelming and the colors add in a nice “death and destruction” quality about them all. The lettering by Clayton Cowles adds to the genre with a style that feels a bit more “fantasy” than other lettering styles and Tom Muller packs in a lot of information with reports and FAQs as been a signature aspect of “Hickman’s run.”

X of Swords: Creation #1 isn’t a bad start to an event. It does beg readers to explore more of the history touched upon, some of which is obscure for newer X-readers. The comic does do a job of catching readers up though. It explains what’s needed but there’s an emotional connection that’s not there. It also shows one of the major flaws with this X-direction, there’s little real threat when anyone can be resurrected and there’s little reason to not send overwhelming force against threats beyond showing restraint. It’s a start to something and what’s teased at the end indicates what comes after may be more interesting than what gets us there.

Story: Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard Art: Pepe Larraz
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Clayton Cowles Design: Tom Muller
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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We Take a Ride with Chip Mosher to Talk Blacking Out

Blacking Out

Comics industry veteran Chip Mosher and legendary artist Peter Krause have launched the Kickstarter for Blacking Out, a 56-page graphic novel presented in the hardcover European album format. Colorist Giulia Brusco, letterer Ed Dukeshire, and designer Tom Muller join the pair in this sucker-punch tale of a disgraced ex-cop, Conrad, unraveling an unsolved murder during Southern California’s fire season. 

In Blacking Out, Conrad follows a lone clue—a discarded crucifix—to unravel the death of Karen Littleton, whose body was found amid a blaze that scorched 10,000 acres. Conrad’s search leads him to clash with the victim’s father and prime suspect, Robert Littleton, as well as hostile former colleagues on the local police force. All the while, Conrad combats his alcoholism and fading faculties.

We got a chance to talk to Mosher about the comic, how his career influenced the release, and how you need to trust your collaborators. You have about one day to back the Kickstarter.

Graphic Policy: The comic has been worked on for four years, since 2016…

Chip Mosher: Yeah, the final version of it.

GP: I know you’re a fan of noir and crime stories but where did the idea for this comic come from?

CM: When I moved to California, about 20 years ago, I was struck by a lot of different things. The difference between growing up in Texas, where you have hurricanes and tornadoes. Everyone was freaking out at how I was going to deal with the earthquakes. I moved out and there was a 6.0 earthquake and I looked out at the palm trees swaying and the pool waves. Then I moved out here and the real thing is the fire season. Being a crime fan, there’s no real great story about crime and fire. I wanted to do something with that. There was a fire on 5, so I got in my car and took my camera to take some pictures. I wanted to take photos of the post-apocalyptic beauty. After a few hours of doing that, much longer than I should have, the story hit me like a ton of bricks and it went from there.

Blacking Out

GP: The town that it takes place in is a small town and it reminds me more of small town middle America than California…

CM: The thing about growing up in Texas, especially Houston, there are more miles of freeways in Houston than there is in Los Angeles. I grew up loving to drive and exploring. There are tons of towns like Edendale around the greater LA area and San Diego. I envision it like that area with a bunch of small towns with long stretches of nothing in between.

GP: The town and the town are characters in a lot of ways. When you designed the story, how much of that is that you, and how much is the art team?

CM: The script that Peter Krause worked from initially is fairly descriptive of the places and the car. But, the photography I did, there’s a photobook at the $15 level, it’s a bunch of collages I did. I drove around Southern California. One of the characters is a mechanic the garage, so I took photos of that. Anita’s house, the bar, the liquor store, photos of the car, the look at feel is a great alchemy of my work going into Peter’s head and it coming out on the page. Some of it is what I envirioned and some of it different but very cool. I gave Peter a lot of freedom the freedom of the storytelling and the look and feel of the book.

GP: Is there anything about that particualr car that stood out or mattered? I read it and I can’t picture any other car being used. It just wouldn’t feel right.

CM: That’s a testament to Pete’s style. Pete has a love of old advertisements. I was looking through some files he shared. He found an old 70s ad for the car. I think the testament that you can’t imagine the story with any other car is Pete and Giulia Brusco who helped sell it.

GP: How did the team come together?

CM: Pete was the first domino to fall. When I decided to pull the trigger on this, I really wanted to work with someone in the deepest way. A really collaborative nature. I finally convinced Pete, he thought the story it’s way too dark for him. I approached Tom Mueller really early on and get the feel of what we were doing. I contacted Tom once Pete started working on it and I’d send Tom things periodically. Giulia is someone I’ve been a fan of for a long time. I was a fan of her work on Scalped. So I pulled her in. Ed Dukeshire is amazing. Ed was my ride or die at BOOM! Letterers these days don’t get any time to do their work.

Blacking Out

GP: You’ve been on all sides of the business.

CM: I have.

GP: Did that influence you at all? How did the story change? The presentation?

CM: I’m a little bit long in my career, though the least prolific comic creator the world has ever seen. I wanted a book I could pull off the shelf in 30 and 40 years and say “that’s great.” I’ve been lucky enough in my day job to got to France and fell in love with that European 40-page format and knew it’s what I wanted to emulate. The storytelling is different. The panels are longer the pages taller. More a widescreen format. I think I have the confidence to work with people who have great track records and tell them to take their time. I didn’t give anyone a deadline. My deadline was how long would it take? They’re professionals who deliver all the time. So I had honest conversations and being in the place I am in my life and career and have the faith it’d show in these products.

GP: Did you change anything at all with digital? It’s become a greater thing in the industry and I’ve been fascinated to see how that impacts the creative process.

CM: I find reading digital comics so easy and there are so many different ways to approach it. I’m a comiXology Guided View partisan but I don’t think there were any changes because someone was going to read it digitally.

GP: I’ve read European format and haven’t really thought if there’s a difference between that and American styles being formatted digitally. Nothing jumps out about the experience.

CM: It just works. There’s different pros and cons on the approaches and certainly optimize for digital reading but first and foremost but it’s an oversized BD book.

GP: The color reminds me a lot of 70s noir film. Did you have input?

CM: My approach is hire the right people and get out of the way. You have to trust people. If you pick the right people, it’s easy to get out of the way and let them do their best work.

Blacking Out

GP: The discarded curcifix stands out to me in the comic. It not just ties into the death of Karen but the fall of Conrad from grace. Are these things you think of as a writer?

CM: All of that is in there. I don’t want to spoil it. I picked her last name subconsciously. Her last name is Littleton, which is a reference to the Colorado town. There’s a lot of that.

GP: Same with the name of the town?

CM: Edendale was the name of Hollywood before it was called Hollywood.

GP: I don’t know that.

CM: You’re giving away my moves. There’s some subtext with the town being what Hollywood was named…

GP: Is there anything with the population of the town? Is it a random number?

CM: I forget. I might have pulled that from somewhere. There’s a bar I like in Silver Lake called Edendale. It was known as the home of the most major movie studios. I don’t want to give too much away. When I’m picking character names and titles, I always have double and triple meanings. Spoiler, if you read Left on Mission, the main character is Emma and if you listen to the Hot Chocolate song, it’ll spoil the whole story for you. Recorded by Sisters of Mercy.

GP: I don’t think I know that song.

CM: It’s a great song.

GP: I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for chatting and looking forward to getting the book in my hands.

Review: Cable #1

Dawn of X” is upon us and other than figuring out his relationship with his father, what’s Cable up to in this new status quo? That begins in Cable #1!

Story: Gerry Duggan
Art: Phil Noto
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Design: Tom Muller

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Review: Wolverine #1

He’s the best there is at what he does and what he does isn’t pretty. Wolverine is back in a solo title that kicks off with this very oversized issue!

Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Adam Kubert, Viktor Bogdanovic
Color: Frank Martin, Matthew Wilson
Lettering: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: New Mutants #2

New Mutants #2

New Mutants #2 shifts the focus of the series a bit. The team is still busted by the Shi’ar but it feels less like a team comic. Instead, it feels like Roberto da Costa and the New Mutants. Much of the issue is told from his perspective. It makes sense as the mission of the New Mutants is focused on Roberto getting back his best friend in Sam Guthrie.

The comic is the Roberto show as Jonathan Hickman dives into the character and his relationship with his team. We get the loveable and entertaining arrogance on full display as he brags about his lawyers, homes, and how good looking he is. There’s a charm in Hickman’s writing which is good since it’d be so easy to make the character so unlikeable.

But, Hickman has time for other characters as well. Many of them get their moments, much of it full of humor. Out of all of the Dawn of X series, this one displays the most fun and carefree attitude of the bunch. There’s a youthful fun about it all that makes it stand out. That fun extends off the page as it’s hard to not enjoy reading the comic. The flow, style, humor, the whole package deliver an entertaining read.

The art by Rod Reis is great. With lettering by Travis Lanham, the comic features Reis’ unique style that’s hard to describe. It’s almost painted in a way and gives the series a unique design. There’s not quite as much detail as other artists but the style has a flair about it and fits a space adventure like this quite well.

New Mutants #2 continues the fun adventure. While the focus shifts a little, the comic is still all about the team and character interactions. There’s a lot of humor to the comic and everything is with a wink, smile, and a nod. There’s a charm about this series that’s infectious and makes it stand out.

Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Rod Reis
Letterer: Travis Lanham Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: X-Force #2

X-Force #2

While the first issue didn’t impress me too much, X-Force #2 makes up for it with tight storytelling and addressing issues I’ve been having with Hickman’s X-vision.

Xavier lays dead and Cerebro destroyed. There’s lots of issues with this, the first being that Cerebro was a helmet apparently and not a supercomputer decentralized and backed up. Krakoa and the mutant nation are in a panic and roll into their plan to revive Xavier, resurrecting him like they’ve done so many others.

Writer Benjamin Percy delivers some pathos here. You can feel the fear and anxiety of the unknown. It almost is enough to get you to overlook the flaws presented in how Hickman has created the mutant nation. It also delivers the first real issue with the constant deus ex machina that is resurrection.

But where Percy’s story really stands out is Wolverine and Kid Omega who are on a mission to find the people responsible for Xavier’s assassination. It’s not the action or the update on the classic Reavers that’s interesting. What’s said between the two characters are. Kid Omega expresses mutant superiority of humans, saying this is Xavier’s vision. Wolverine clearly doesn’t agree and dismisses the talk at one point shuffling the philosophy to Magneto instead. It’s the first real schism and rejection of the superior of Homo Superior. It also ties back to my (controversial) interpretation that Hickman’s X-Men are one fighting for supremacy, not just survival. They see themselves as more and don’t want equality.

It’s here we’re starting to see the cracks really form in Dawn of X.

The art by Joshua Cassara is solid. Along with colors by Dean White and Joe Caramagna‘s lettering, the art style matches the morose feel of the situation. There’s also small details throughout the issue that helps build the world further or further emphasizes themes in the issue. It’s a solid combination of art of story. Add in the horror like visuals of the new threat and you’ve got a hell of mix of art and story.

X-Force #2 is a solid comic vastly improving on the first. It doesn’t tip its hand early and instead does the opposite revealing tidbits as the story moves along. It’s a solid mix of reflection on events and action. Though not the traditional team book, this is more the X-Force I was looking for.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Joshua Cassara
Color: Dean White Letterer: Joe Caramagna Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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