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Review: Avengers: Tech-On #2

Avengers: Tech-On #2

Every once in a while you come across a comic that’s just fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It might recognize everything it riffs off of. But, those comics mostly just cut loose with crazy ideas and imagery you can only see on the page of a comic. Avengers: Tech-On #2 continues that type of series as the newly armored Avengers first take on a powered up Red Skull and then a powered up Venom. Its over the top images and ideas nail the manga feel it takes its influence from.

Written by Jim Zub, Avengers: Tech-On #2 continues the battle for the struggling Avengers. Red Skull has used shards of Infinity Stones to gain more power and stripped the heroes of their powers. This forces Iron Man to equip the team with their own suits of armor also powered by the same energy as the Red Skull.

Zub is mining a lot with the comic. There’s a clear manga influence in the action scenes and art but it’s the “tie-in” aspect that stands out. I grew up in the age that began toys having their own tv shows and comics to go along with them. G.I. Joe, Transformers, these were some of the pioneers of the 30 minute commercial. Avengers: Tech-On #2 reminds me of that in some ways with creations that feel like I should have action figures to recreate the scenes. And, that is happening in some ways with collectables based on the characters and armor comic. They aren’t cheap action figures but it recreates some of the “classic” product tie-in.

Zub also makes sure the comic is fun. There’s battles, lots of battles, each with their own style. But, the characters at the center of this all is what matters. There’s some conflict and questioning as the Avengers attempt to figure out what to do next and how to stop Red Skull. This isn’t a simple “go with the flow” type of story. There’s actual questioning of what Tony Stark has built for the team.

But, what really works for the comic is Jeffrey Cruz‘s art. With Travis Lanham on lettering, the art pops over and over again. The colors and style work so well that I felt like I was reading Marvel manga. There’s clear influences throughout the comic and every single one of them work. This isn’t some cheap knock-off manga, it feels like I should be reading this in a small digest format. The only negative is that we get so few pages compared to a volume of manga. I want more. The visuals are fantastic and you staring at the page long after finishing reading Zub’s dialogue.

Avengers: Tech-On #2 is a hell of a lot of fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It’s a comic that just throws crazy ideas out there and you run with it. The art is fantastic and just nails the tone and concept of the series. The designs are a hell of a lot of fun. It’s a comic to just sit back and enjoy, going along for the ride.

Story: Jim Zub Art: Jeffrey Cruz Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Avengers: Tech-On #1

Avengers: Tech-On #1

Marvel over recent years has been launching interesting licensing agreements that have seen their classic characters reimagined in other ways. There was a deal with Bandai that had characters given a Samurai spin. Most recently, superheroes armored up with mechs they could pilot. Now, we get another version, with collectible figure tie-in, that has the Avengers getting Iron Man-like armor. Avengers: Tech-On #1 delivers a fun start that feels part manga, part Saturday Morning Cartoon, and part kid playing with their toys.

Written by Jim Zub, Avengers: Tech-On #1 has the avengers facing a powerful Red Skull who has taken dust from the Infinity Stones and harnessed their power. Outmatched, the Avengers must look for solutions to win the day.

Zub delivers a fun and entertaining start that can be enjoyed by long-time fans and new readers. While similar in concept to the recent “mech” miniseries (both using tech suits to win) the style is far different. Zub blends an American style of storytelling with manga for a combination that feels like it’s an homage in some ways. There’s some solid dynamic moments of action but Zub also makes sure to deliver heart as well.

Where the comic stands out is its subtle exploration of what each hero brings and what they stand for in some ways. We’re reminded of their most basic being in many ways as they’re forced to deal with what the Red Skull has done. And, while exploring that, Zub emphasizes what makes many of these characters so special and what also makes them special even without their powers, technology, or weapons.

The art by Jeffrey Cruz takes inspiration from manga but doesn’t attempt to recreate the style completely. It honors the over-the-top moments at times but also keeps the comic squarely in a Western style as well. With lettering from Travis Lanham, the art and style of Avengers: Tech-On #1 pops. It captures the vibe and energy that Zub goes for in his story. The character designs as well really stand out. Red Skull powered up looks like a character straight out of manga. The designs for the characters as the story progresses is fantastic as well.

Avengers: Tech-On #1 is a fun comic. There’s a popcorn entertainment aspect to it that it leans in to. While it’s clearly a tie-in to a toy line, it still delivers a lot of heart and emotion and remembers the characters are what’s important. Add in some solid artwork, this is a series that screams summer enjoyment.

Story: Jim Zub Art: Jeffrey Cruz Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Exclusive Preview: Shang-Chi #3

Shang-Chi #3

(W) Gene Luen Yang (A) Dike Ruan (C) Tríona Farrell (L) Travis Lanham
(CA) Leinil Francis Yu (VCA) David Lafuente, Peach Momoko
Rated T+
In Shops: Jul 28, 2021
SRP: $3.99

• Shang-Chi discovers yet another sibling he never knew he had!
• Even more surprising…she’s a mutant!
• You know what that means…Shang-Chi won’t be the only one looking for her.
• Enter: Wolverine!

Shang-Chi #3

Review: Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1

Fans of Star Wars will know that Boba Fett took the carbonite encased Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, but how did that happen? As it turns out, the events in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi weren’t so smooth. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1 tells that untold tale as we find learn Fett’s trip had a lot of sidequests and distractions.

Written by Charles Soule, the comic feels like it keeps Marvel’s additive focus. The Star Wars comics under Marvel has taken known events and time periods and added depth. They’ve filled in the gaps that we didn’t know and that includes the characters themselves. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1 continues that. We get a bit more about Boba Fett and how he’s perceived. But, we also get that under the cool armor, he’s not always at the top of his game and can get tripped up. His reputation though, is one of a cool, calm, collected bounty hunter. He’s presented as one of the best.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1 is an entertaining comic in its focus on the Fett. But, it’s what’s added that’s surprising. We get an idea of who stole Solo from Fett before he could be delivered. The reveal is an interesting one folding in some Star Wars history and shows another example of how to mine such a vast history and still deliver something new that works. It’s an unexpected addition and one that potentially has a bit ramification for the Star Wars universe. Fans will be excited for this one.

The art is pretty solid. Luke Ross does a good job of depicting the various characters and the worlds. With Neeraj Menon on color and lettering by Travis Lanham it looks like the world of Star Wars. It’s both alien and familiar. The art isn’t completely smooth though. Boba Fett at times looks like he’s gained a bit of weight. It could be the angle but it’s a bit odd and definitely noticeable. Still, there’s a lot of characters packed into the issue and they’re all recognizable and look close to the real-world counterparts.

What’s also interesting is this isn’t a comic that has a ton of action. There’s definitely moments that punch but overall, the issue feels a bit more like a slow Western building up what’s to come. A lot of the comic is Boba being pissed as to what happened. There’s also the introduction to the mysterious group that stole Solo from him. It’s a lot of getting the ball rolling for the action to come.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1 is a solid start to the mini-series. The event overall is massive and it’ll be interesting to see how much one needs to read to really enjoy it. Hopefully, this main comic delivers the goods and now that all the players are on the board, we can really get to the action Boba Fett deserves.

Story: Charles Soule Art: Luke Ross
Color: Neeraj Menon Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Shang-Chi #1

Shang-Chi #1

In Shang-Chi #1, Shang-Chi has toppled his father and his organization. Now, he stands as the head of the Five Weapons Society, he’s using the organization to fix some of his father’s wrongdoings. Easier said than done, as attackers with beast-like hands start to attack, which leads to Shang-Chi locating a shop owner with a mysterious root created from an old Chinese Yeti. Even worse, Spider-Man is after a drug ring and believes both to be connected. Shang-Chi isn’t ready to divulge his association to his father’s old group. It’s only after Spider-Man falls prey to the yeren root that Shang-Chi has no choice but to fill Spider-Man in on everything. The only question that remains is whether it puts Shang-Chi at odds with his superhero brethren.

I’ve never read anything written by Gene Luen Yang before this issue. I know, it’s a total oversight and I know of all sorts of comics that everyone just loves but I just never had the chance until this moment but I left this issue feeling like I am going to just love where he’s going with Shang-Chi. I’m a fan of Shang-Chi, the character, and with this being billed as Shang vs. the Marvel Universe, I’d love to see how he handles some of the other heroes he’s going to run into with this series. He’s called the Master Of Kung-Fu. I hope Shang-Chi gets to prove it.

Now, outside of my own childhood fantasies of characters throwing down, I think the story is intriguing, with the yeren root, which is named after a mythological Chinese yeti. Just having something like that pop up here lead me down the Google rabbit hole of reading all about Chinese yetis. Awesome stuff. Gene’s dialogue feels really fresh throughout the entire issue and he does such a great job making everyone sound so different and really establishes their personalities.

Dike Ruan and Triona Farrell make the art team on Shang-Chi and there’s a good quality dynamic at work here. Dike employs a good amount of detail but doesn’t overdo it. There’s not a lot of wasted linework with his art. Triona Farrell’s colors just come off a hair too dark for me throughout the entire issue but it’s not enough to ruin my enjoyment of what I’m seeing on every page.

In the end, I’m glad one of my favorite characters is finding ways to stay in print and with a movie in the near future. It’s a good time to be Shang-Chi. I love the position he’s in and the fact he’s not going to play nice with others is even better. This first issue is definitely worth checking out.

Story: Gene Luen Yang Art: Dike Ruan
Color: Triona Farrell Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.5

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha

Marvel‘s Star Wars comics are one of the best lines of comics on the market today. They brilliantly tell new stories while expanding upon a world that’s over 40 years old. What works so well is the comics are able to fill in the gaps of the stories we’ve already been told. They weave in and add new details and depth that entertains, gets us to rethink what we’ve seen and read, and also never fails its original material. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha kicks off that sort of story and launches an event decades in the making.

At the end of Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett had gotten his bounty with Han Solo encased in carbonite. In the films, the next we saw them was in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. The bounty was delivered and we’d guess that Boba Fett was paid his bounty. But, what happened between Cloud City and the Hutt palace? Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha starts to tell that story and it’s not as straightforward as we’d expect.

Charles Soule has the awesome job of weaving the story of Boba Fett’s journey to deliver the goods. What we find out is it wasn’t as easy as we might have thought. Fett is good but when there’s enough credits on the line, others will want to get in on the action. Plus, technology can just crap out on you. And that’s where Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha begins things. The carbonite that Solo is encased in doesn’t quite work as we thought and there’s issues forcing Boba to make a stop to fix things, otherwise Solo will die. That stop creates a sidequest and opens things up for the cat and mouse chase for the bounty.

Soule does a solid job of adding in depth to the world of Star Wars. He also uses some great callbacks in Boba’s story. There’s references to Attack of the Clones as Boba must battle in an arena that will make fans smile. It also adds a bit to Boba’s story as he’s clearly traumatized in some ways about what he witnessed happen to Jango.

Soule also has a difficult task ahead. We know that Solo was delivered to Jabba. We also assume Boba Fett is the one that did it. So, how do you tell an interesting, entertaining, and new story when we know the end result? Well, he’s pulling that off by throwing obstacles in Boba Fett’s path.

Steve McNiven’s art is fantastic. The details are great and there’s some subtle choices, especially around Han in the carbonite, that really add to things. Laura Martin‘s colors make the pages pop and Travis Lanham‘s lettering adds an emotional punch. The overall package is wonderful with some great action and emotion. Boba Fett might be behind a mask but you can feel his frustration at times by his body language and the lettering. It’s impressive to pull off.

As a long time fan of Star Wars, Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha is exactly the type of story I want to read. It expands upon the world we know adding to it and not discounting what has come before. It’s additive. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun with great action and humor with some fantastic pacing. Though it looks like this crossover event is pretty expansive, if it keeps up this quality, I’m going to wish it was even longer.

Story: Charles Soule Art: Steve McNiven
Color: Laura Martin Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.65 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Exclusive Preview: M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #4

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #4

(W) Jordan Blum, Patton Oswalt (A) Scott Hepburn (C) Carlos Lopez (L) Travis Lanham (CA) Cully Hamner
Rated T+
In Shops: Apr 28, 2021
SRP: $3.99

M.O.D.O.K.’s search for answers about the mysterious memories of a family plaguing him has lead him straight into the arms of his creator. Will this reunion see M.O.D.O.K. welcomed with open arms or leave him staring down the barrel at his own demise? Only one way to find out, True Believers, you won’t want to miss out on this explosive series finale!!!

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #4

Review: Non-stop Spider-Man #2

Non-Stop Spider-Man #2

There are so many different ways to tackle Spider-Man. You can have a series more focused on Peter and those around him. You can have takes where he takes on global threats. Then there’s the version that’s focused on the action with a kinetic spin to it all. Non-Stop Spider-Man #2 continues that last take with an issue that’s full of energy and over-the-top action.

Joe Kelly keeps up the adventure as Spider-Man is on a personal mission to find out what’s going on with the drugs being sold to smart individuals. As the comic teases, there’s clearly something going on with who the drugs are being targeted but the comic dances around that reveal.

Instead, Kelly keeps the action coming with big explosions and big sequences you can really only do in a comic. Buildings explode from a helicopter attack, a truck makes its way into the sewer, it’s all so insane it’s hard to not smile and just enjoy.

What Kelly also does is give us a Spider-Man that’s off his game in a way. The drug use has hit him close and impacted a friend. He’s working on anger as much as anything else which has the character a little off his usual leading to small mistakes. He’s a half-step off and makes things more of a challenge.

Chris Bachalo‘s art is the draw. As much as Kelly’s story is entertaining, it’s the insane visuals that really draw the reader in. Bachalo is joined by Tim Townsend, Al Vey, and Wayne Faucher on ink, Marcio Menyz on color, and Travis Lanham on lettering. The situations Kelly concocts are so insane but Bachalo delivers it all with an energy and style that only he can pull off. You can hear the explosions. The page layouts continue to impress as well with a flow and look that’s so unique.

Non-Stop Spider-Man #2 is a lot of fun. The art pops from the page. The story is interesting. It’s a second issue that delivers as much excitement as its debut, not an easy thing to do. There’s debates as to how many series are too many for characters but when they’re as unique as this, bring more on!

Story: Joe Kelly Art: Chris Bachalo
Ink: Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Wayne Faucher Color: Marcio Menyz Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.85 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Exclusive Preview: Conan the Barbarian #20

Conan the Barbarian #20

(W) Jim Zub (A) Cory Smith (I) Roberto Poggi (C) Israel Silva (L) VC’s Travis Lanham (CA) Geoff Shaw
Parental Advisory
In Shops: Apr 07, 2021
SRP: $3.99

• CONAN must escape the Khitai royal guard while stalking through an uncharted land and battling the forces of nature that would see him fall!
• But is his new comrade MEIWEI everything she seems?
• And what secrets do HENG THE INSURGENT and his roving bandits hide?

Review: Non-Stop Spider-Man #1

Non-Stop Spider-Man #1

There’s a certain kinetic flow that can happen with Spider-Man comics. When the writer and artist click, you get a comic that flows with energy and excitement. Non-Stop Spider-Man #1 is that type of comic nailing the chaotic and energetic nature of Spider-Man.

Joe Kelly handles the writing which has Spider-Man taking on a grounded issue that’s a bit fantastical as well. In this debut issue he’s up against drug dealers while a drug called A-Plus is causing college students to overdose. His opponents are a little unclear other than bad guys with tech and tricks but it’s all about the action and visuals.

Chris Bachalo‘s art is over the top. With Tim Townsend on ink, Marco Menyz on color, and Travis Lanham handling the lettering, the comic is a visual treat. What stands out isn’t the contortion that Spider-Man displays and is a standard. What really stands out is the use of panels of the comic . Peter Parker’s life is on display in your standard squares and rectangles, though the page layouts still stand out with that. What jumps is the use of angles. Spider-Man’s action is on full display with comic pages that beg you to turn the page so everything is upright. White space is plentiful and emphasizes the action. It’s a display you rarely, if ever, see in comics today.

There’s a visual brilliance that goes with, and emphasizes, the action and flow of the comic.

But everything isn’t just in the action and visuals. Kelly and the team makes sure to keep things grounded as well. There’s tragedy with individuals overdosing and dying from drug use. It’s a detail that drives the comic but brings a sense of urgency and makes the comic more than a visually amazing fight comic. There’s something more than the action.

Non-Stop Spider-Man #1 feels like non-stop action. It’s a solid debut that visually stands out. There’s nothing (that I know of) that’s on the comic stand that looks like it. Its use of angled panels, really angled pages, is unique and memorable. It exudes enthusiasm and energy about it that fits Spider-Man. You might eye-roll at yet another Spider-Man comic on the shelf, but when it’s this good, it’s worth it and the wait.

Story: Joe Kelly Art: Chris Bachalo
Ink: Tim Townsend Color: Marco Menyz Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 8.0 Art: 10 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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