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Review: Stray Dogs #5

Stray Dogs #5

I love how Stray Dogs #5 wraps up the comic series but at the same time, I’m not sure I love the issue as a whole. It’s an issue that’s full of action, tense moments, and sadness. But, it also feels a bit “short” and too much of a quick read. The contents of Stray Dogs #5 feels like it’d have been fine in an extended fourth issue than merits an issue on its own. But, it also means the series will likely be a fantastic read once it’s collected.

With a story by Tony Fleecs, the dogs know the truth and the Master is clearly a murderer. They need to escape or they’ll likely meet a deadly fate as well. This means they have two options to fight and to flee. What Fleecs does with this issue is fantastic. It’d be so easy to turn this final issue into a “Home Alone” like battle with the dogs tripping master or setting up obstacles so they can get away. Instead, Fleecs keeps it all grounded. They run and they fight. No tricks, only panicked attempts to escape. It also delivers a sadness to it all in the fact that they’re dogs. They’re boxed in by fast moving cars they don’t know what to do with and have to face a world they don’t know at all.

A lot of that emotion is delivered in the art by Trish Forstner with colors by Brad Simpson. Featuring layouts by Tone Rodriguez and Chris Burnham and work by flatter Lauren Perry, the art continues its amazing Don Bluth-like style. The look and colors creates a sweetness about the dogs it’s hard to not feel bad for them. Their fear and panic ooze off the page. There’s also an interesting bit of reserved quality about the finale. It’d be easy to have gone over the top in the blood and gore. Instead, what’s shown is minimal emphasizing the aspect just enough to make it clear where things stand.

Stray Dogs #5 is a solid ending to the series. It wraps things up nicely with an emotional rollercoaster that at times tugs at heartstrings. But, the issue doesn’t quite stand on its own. It feels like returning to a film “after the break” and in ways is a little unsatisfying as a stand alone issue. Yes, it’s part of a single story but it’s a single story broken up in issues and in this case the issue itself feels a little thin. But, it works so well as part of the whole. If you haven’t read the single issues, it’s a story that sticks the landing and will be a collection that’s well worth picking up when released.

Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner
Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodrigeuz, Chris Burnham Flatter: Lauren Perry
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Stray Dogs #4

Stray Dogs #4

The previous issue of Stray Dogs had me guessing as to whether “Master” was really a killer or the dogs’ memory made it seem that way. Stray Dogs #4 gives a pretty definitive answer as the house of horrors is revealed. I’m not sure how you can explain away what’s revealed.

In the previous issue, Victor tried to call for help and Earl ratted him out to Master. Victor was then taken out behind the shed where we were left with a “bang”. Stray Dogs #4 picks up on that as panic sets in and the dogs attempt to figure out what happened to Victor. The revelations are a spiral of gross and sickening as the issue just builds and builds until its final moment.

This is house of horrors level of crazy and it’s been impressive that writer Tony Fleecs has kept readers guessing up to this point. But, with all that’s shown in this issue, it’s hard to dismiss any of it. This is a level of crazy that just builds and builds with one horrible thing leading to the next in a series of shocking revelations. Fleecs masterfully builds it all up using the dogs’ reactions to drive home to escalation. He also brilliantly sows dissension among the dogs. Sophie and Rusty attempt to make their case with Earl not wanting to accept the truth.

And that’s part of the brilliance of the issue. We’re not quite sure what is the truth until this issue. You can understand Earl’s reluctance to accept reality. He’s been treated well from what he remembers. But as things build, the panic that sets in is felt and reverberates from the page. It’s everything that works for horror stories in a cute package.

That “package” is delivered through the art of Trish Forstner. With color by Brad Simpson, layouts by Tone Rodriguez, and flatter Lauren Perry, the art continues to be beautiful. The style is classic animation with the dogs being their adorable self. What’s amazing is that mix of tones with this “cute” art juxtaposed with the very horror driven plot. The revelations keep the style but add a sense of terror. The mix is interesting and works really well.

Stray Dogs #4 is a fantastic issue that lays the cards on the table. You find yourself yelling “get out of the house” much like you would a horror film. The build up of revelations is perfectly executed delivering a punch in that last page. This is the issue where the truth is clear and will make you want to see what happens next immediately.

Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner
Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodriguez Flatters: Lauren Perry
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Stray Dogs #3

Stray Dogs #3

There’s certain combinations out there that works well despite them being opposites. Stray Dogs feels like an example of that. The series delivers a style like Don Bluth that hides the dark interior. Stray Dogs #3 is another instance of that with an issue that has the dogs on edge as they’re convinced their new owner is also a serial killer.

Written by Tony Fleecs, the issue features debate and discovery as the dogs attempt to figure out what’s going on. As readers, it’s clear something isn’t right. The “owner” has a secret and what that is can still be debated. Is he a killer? Is there something more innocent and the dogs are misremembering? Fleecs keeps readers guessing as the dogs themselves struggle to remember what’s going on and what happened in their past.

We’re given some hints and the dogs come across another clue but all of it together can also point to something else going on. As a reader, I think the owner is a killer but at the same time, there’s other explanations as to what has been discovered. It’s easy to see why the dogs are coming to the conclusions they are and part of that is the innocence and cuteness of the art. There’s a combination of the visuals and the story that comes together in weird ways like that.

Those visuals are courtesy of Trish Forstner. They’re beautiful as always. The dogs are cute as can be but there’s a darkness about the comic. There’s a dread that exists. Part of that is helped with the color by Brad Simpson. The color is bright and doesn’t pop. It delivers a slightly darker tone to it all. Tone Rodriguez provides layouts and Lauren Perry is the flatter. The visuals are an interesting one in two instances of the comic (which I don’t want to spoil).

The dogs discover something that’s really head scratching. One thing is hinted at but it doesn’t quite make sense. Visually, it’s done really well hinting at what might be going on but, wouldn’t dogs be able to smell things? There’s also the final scene where there’s a fantastic choice to allow the reader’s imagination to fill in the blank. It’s far worse than anything can be drawn and adds a sense of horror about it all.

Stray Dogs #3 continues the cute dog meets murder mystery. It does so with tension and excitement that builds through the issue. It’s another fantastic entry that’ll keep readers guessing what’s true and what’s not and where things are going from here.

Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner
Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodriguez Flatter: Lauren Perry
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Stray Dogs #2

Stray Dogs #2

The first issue of Stray Dogs was fantastic delivering a familiar mystery but in a way and from a perspective that’s so new and different. Stray Dogs #2 continues to build on the mystery of what happened to Sophie’s owner all in Don Bluth style visuals.

Written by Tony Fleecs, Stray Dogs #2 is an interesting comic that delivers fear and emotion in unexpected places. The readers can feel for Sophie who feels lost and at the same time something bad has happened. It’s an interesting story in that it’s a murder mystery from a dog’s perspective but it also delivers characters readers can connect to. Every dog has a very distinct personality but it’s Sophie and her new friend Rusty that stand out. Sophie is scared in an unknown place and wants to find out the truth. It also happens Sophie has a horrible memory. Rusty is her one real friend in the bunch and so far has shown a friendship so many long for.

But what Fleecs does that’s truly amazing is keeps the readers guessing. It’s not clear as to what has happened to Sophie’s former owner. Was she murdered? Is Sophie living with the murderer? Is there something else going on? Fleecs teases just enough to keep readers guessing. It also helps build the creep factor into it all.

That’s helped by the art of Trish Forstner. Along with color by Brad Simpson, layouts by Tone Rodriguez, and work by flatter Lauren Perry, the series looks like classic animation, a beautiful almost innocent style that belies the more sinister undertones. Looking at these cute dogs and their antics, you almost forget it’s possible they’re living with a serial killer. The art style disarms the readers in some ways. The art also helps drop Fleecs’ hints. You’re forced to linger on pages and panels looking for the clues as to what has happened.

Stray Dogs #2 is another solid issue that builds upon the mystery. It teases hints and answers but leaves readers guessing. It also builds a dread throughout that you’re not quite sure about. A fantastic series with a familiar concept but a whole new perspective.

Story: Tony Fleecs Art: Trish Forstner
Color: Brad Simpson Layouts: Tone Rodriguez Flatters: Lauren Perry
Logo/Design: Lauren Herda Pre-Press: Gabriela Downie
Story: 8.25 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Time Shopper is a Slacker Sci-Fi Comedy Epic Through History

Time Shopper is a sci-fi/comedy about a regular guy who gets a job time traveling. He’s supposed to go back in time and fix history’s biggest disasters (the sinking of the Titanic, the assassination of JFK, kill baby Hitler), but when he gets to the past he immediately gets distracted by how crazy affordable everything used to be. So… he starts shopping through time. And then obviously, hijinx ensue. There are historical celebrity cameos, killer robots, etc.

Written by Tony Fleecs, Time Shopper features art by Christian Meesey, layouts by Tone Rodriguez, colors by Brad Simpson, and a cover by Meesey.

Retailing for $14.99, the 48-page comic will be out soon and published by Action Lab Entertainment.

Time Shopper

Preview: M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #8

M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #8

Brandon Easton (w) • Igor Lima (a) • Tone Rodriguez (c)

Determined to end the threat of Ore-13 radiation poisoning, Matt Trakker and the M.A.S.K. team go on a mission into the depths of the Earth where they discover much more than they could have imagined—a race of powerful mutated creatures borne from the strange Cybertronian energy source. Are these monsters too powerful even for the technology of M.A.S.K.?!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #6

M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #6

Brandon Easton (w) • Juan Samu (a) • Tone Rodriguez (c)

THE ORIGIN OF V.E.N.O.M.,” part one. As the M.A.S.K. team constructs a new headquarters in Miami, Matt Trakker goes on a solo mission to identify new recruits. Along the way, Trakker crosses paths with Dr. Mindbender who instructs him on the art of leadership and manipulation. But Trakker quickly uncovers Mindbender’s twisted goals and learns the true history of his former teammates who became members of V.E.N.O.M.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Review: Dead Vengeance HC

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It’s 1940, and a phony body on exhibit in a carnival sideshow suddenly springs to life and shambles away. Not so phony after all: he is John Doe, radio commentator and archenemy of Detroit’s notorious Purple Gang. But why did he disappear in 1930, and why did the mayor, the mob, and the cops all want him dead? This collects Dead Vengeance #1–#4.

Dead Vengeance is supernatural noir at its finest. Taking the premise of a man who has lost his wife after, he has threatened to expose the corruption of the mayor, and his cronies. Adding a solid twist, as the real culprit of the murder is put in jail, preventing John from getting his vengeance. Bolstering the solid noir inspired story, as John gets murdered himself by a circus freak. Yet John, lives in state of un-death as his dead body floats in a traveling circus. As his spirit waits to return to take his vengeance.

If the story wasn’t already noir enough, the art work bolsters that atmosphere. The action scenes are gorgeous, and explosive at times. I love how they drew historically accurate clothes for the characters. It manages to make the world feel authentic, yet fictional.

Story: Bill Morrison Art: Bill Morrison, Tone Rodriguez
Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.75 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Halloween Nightmares Come To Life with John Carpenter’s Tales for a HalloweeNight

Storm King Comics has announced a horror comic anthology entitled John Carpenter’s Tales for a HalloweeNight that has been put together by the King of Darkness himself, John Carpenter. The anthology includes an epic line up of artists and writers including John Carpenter, Steven Hoveke, Sandy King, Steve Niles, James Ninness,Trent Olsen, David Schow, Tim Bradstreet, Buzz, Federico DeLuca, Leonardo Manco, Darick Robertson, Tone Rodriguez and more. The book will be full color 100+ pages and will be released by October 31st 2015. Fans can get sneak peak at the book Saturday October 17th at 2pm at Barnes and Noble at The Grove 189 Grove Drive K30, Los Angeles, CA 90036. John Carpenter will be signing advanced copies of the book in time for Halloween!

Fans should be able to pick up the title at their local comic shops as well as the Storm King Productions booth at New York Comic Con. The second graphic novel in the Storm King Comic’s series John Carpenter’s Asylum will be out in early 2016.

From the man who brought you the movie, “Halloween” and all the scares beyond, here comes the ultimate graphic novel anthology of tales to warm your toes by on a dark and stormy night in October.  Carpenter brings together story tellers from the world of movies, novels and comics and in these pages lie tales of graveyards, sunken ships, creepy crawlers and ghosts to haunt your dreams at night.

Writers:  John Carpenter, Steven Hoveke, Sandy King, Steve Niles, James Ninness, Trent Olsen, David Schow and Duane Swierczynski.
Artists:  including…Tim Bradstreet, Buzz, Federico DeLuca, Leonardo Manco, Darick Robertson, and Tone Rodriguez
Edited by Sandy King

John Carpenter's Tales for a HalloweeNight

Exclusive: Read Liftoff Takedown from the Bizarre New World Kickstarter

Today we have an exclusive story from the Bizarre New World Kickstarter running now. Bizarre New World started production on October 10, 2005 and was originally released by Ape Entertainment as a critically acclaimed 3 issue mini-series in 2007, followed by a mini-graphic novel sequel in 2008. These books totaled 140 pages. Work on the rest of the tale and short stories never stopped and was completely finished on February 5, 2015. The final project clocks in at 503 pages. That’s the 278 page graphic novel and a 225 page short story anthology.

Now Skipper Martin is partnering up with fellow Ape Entertainment creator Troy Dyeto to release their books through their new publishing imprint called Fractured Entertainment.

The anthology features a massive amount of creators, the full list you can find below. But we have an exclusive short story, a prime example of what you’re going to find in the anthology. Liftoff Takedown is written by Wilfredo S. Duran, with pencils by Dexter Wee, colors by Michael Spicer, lettering by Bernie Lee and edited by Skipper Martin.

Credits for the main book include:
Writer/Creator: Skipper Martin
Line Artists: Christopher Provencher and Adam Huntley
Colors: Wes Dzuioba
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski and Ed Dukeshire

Credits for the anthology:
Writers: Corinna Bechko, Neal Bailey, Mike Blaylock, Dino Caruso, Joey Cruz, Wilfredo Duran, Troy Dye, Ellen Everett, Micah Farritor, Dan Hill, Dan Adams-Jacobson, Skipper Martin, Nick Miceli, Raphael Moran, Chuck Moore, Maxwell Patterson, Tone Rodriguez, Michael San Giacomo, Michael Woods, Greg Thelen
Line Artists: Cale Ajioka, Atul Bakashi, Daniel Panero Bertucci, Tielman Cheaney, Danielle Ellison, Micah Farritor, David Hedmark, Adam Huntley, Roberta Ingranata, Allan Jefferson, Rick Leonardi, Megan Levens, Brent McKee, Tradd Moore, Mado Peña, Chris Provencher, Bob Rivard, Tone Rodriguez, V Shane, Connor Willumsen, Dexter Wee
Colors: Wes Dzioba, Ellen Everett, Teodoro Gonzalez, Simon Gough, Kyle Latino, Mado Peña, Michael Spicer, Eddy Swan, Julie A. Wright
Lettering: Ed Brisson, Ed Dukeshire, Bernie Lee, Tom Orzechowski

Almost American
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