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Dark Horse and Trackers Earth team for Captain Nick & The Explorer Society – Compass of Mems

Dark Horse Books and Trackers Earth introduce Captain Nick and the courageous and resourceful Explorer Society, as told by the expert outdoor educators and adventurers of Trackers Earth! Based on their popular Captain Nick camp, the book is written by Grey Allison, Michelle McCann, and Trackers Earth co-founder Tony Deis. Pencils are by Thomas Pitilli, inks by Lukas Ketner, colors by Liezl Buenaventura, and letters by Troy Peteri

Trackers Earth is an award-winning outdoor education organization with a mission to inspire kids and families to explore, connect, and care for the natural world. Through their programs and stories, Trackers Earth teaches kids old-school outdoor skills such as wilderness survival, nature awareness, and tracking. These experiences help kids develop resilience, confidence, and independence in all walks of life. Many of their camps teach these skills through fantastic live-action role-playing that takes kids out into the wilderness, including the official B.P.R.D. (aka Hellboy) Camp, which met with widespread acclaim. While Trackers has created non-fiction how-to skills books and short online and printed comics for kids at their summer camps, this is their first graphic novel with Dark Horse Books. 

In Trackers Presents: Captain Nick & the Explorer Society—Compass of Mems, Captain Nick and the kids race to find the mysterious Compass of Mems before their nemesis, the Contessa, gets her hands on it. Can they safeguard this ancient relic and foil her plans to conquer the world? Captain Nick adventures are packed with lost worlds, ancient treasures, time travel, dinosaurs, and butt-kicking girl assassins!

Trackers Presents: Captain Nick & the Explorer Society—Compass of Mems TPB will be available in comic shops June 7, 2023 and will be in bookstores June 6, 2023. It is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local comic shop and bookstore. The book will retail for $14.99.

Trackers Presents: Captain Nick & the Explorer Society—Compass of Mems TPB

Review: Metal Society #5

Metal Society #5

Since it’s first issue, Metal Society has been an intriguing series. While the concept on the surface might seem like a MMA fight between a robot and a human but as you dig deeper, the series delivers far more. The comic tackles castes, slavery, society as a whole, and freedom. There’s been a lot to chew on. Metal Society #5 wraps up the series as our two combatants deliver blows to see which society is the most dominant.

Written by Zack Kaplan, Metal Society has scratched multiple itches for me as I’m both a fan of MMA and a political junkie. The series has been interesting to see how Kaplan not only handles the challenge of a human fighting a robot that can adapt but also the philosophy itself about the fight. Is it even the right thing to do?

Metal Society #5 takes that all further as Rosa battles WOL in the ring in a brutal battle. What does victory look like for each? Does WOL need to kill Rosa? Does Rosa just need to make WOL submit? Is just getting in the ring enough to prove humans deserve more than being a slave cast?

All of that is answered in a conclusion that feels logical and generally where I expected it to go. But, it does so in a rather quick way. The story itself needed a little bit more showing the brutality of the fight and the moments that follow. But, it does wrap things up nicely and the issue features a bit of a bonus at process art.

Guilherme Balbi‘s art continues to look great with color by Marco Lesko and lettering by Troy Peteri. The movement of the fight looks solid as MMA holds and moves are thrown and countered. There’s a fantastic use of page layout that at times turns the fight into a dance between its two warriors. My one criticism is the bruises on Rosa didn’t feel quite as pronounced as one would expect and taking some time to show how beaten she is would have emphasized her actions even more.

As a finale, Metal Society #5 delivers a satisfying ending. The story itself feels a bit short but the fight is brutal and as far as MMA, it’s pretty satisfying. On it’s own, the issue is a bit mixed but as far as wrapping up the series, it ends things in an interesting way.

Story: Zack Kaplan Art: Guilherme Balbi
Color: Marco Lesko Letterer: Troy Peteri
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: Metal Society #4

Metal Society #4

Man vs. robot in a mixed martial arts-like battle. At stake? The future of humankind and the future of robotkind. Taking place in the future, robots are now the dominant lifeform. Humanity had been wiped out but has now been brought back to work in the lowest rung of society. But, some of humankind strives for more. After a robot is put out of work, a fight is set up and that fight has spiraled. Metal Society #4 focuses in on how this bought has grown and what’s at stake at the center of it all.

Written by Zack Kaplan, Metal Society #4 is an interesting story, the quiet before the battle. Each side gives their speeches to their supporters. And, like so many real fights, the rhetoric has gotten out of hand whipping up supporters. In this case, each has incited violence in some way making the fight a powder keg of tension ready to explode. For humanity, the fight is seen as proof that they can do so much more than clean waste and that they are at least equals to the robot society. For the robot society, it’s a way to show off their dominance putting down an insurgent humanity that threatens their way of life. Race. Gender. Workers rights. Castes. You can see how this fight and series as a whole is an examination of so much. The depth to its story runs deep and an examination can go many ways.

But Kaplan also examines how rhetoric spirals. Each fighter confronts their words and what it has caused. We get a better sense of where they see themselves and their role in it all. What are they trying to prove for themselves, not what society has implanted on them. Again, a simple examination brings layers as this fiery rhetoric can be anything from the incitement politicians use in today’s landscape to simple stance taking on mythic proportions and becoming what the individuals want to see it as.

The are by Guilherme Balbi continues to look great. With color by Marco Lesko and lettering by Troy Peteri the series looks fantastic with a society that looks both advanced and rundown. You can see the technological advances but there’s a smoothness about it all that’s missing. The design tells so much about the world. The riots and violence too is captured well giving us a grand picture instead of focusing on too little of what’s going on. We get a broad idea which is exactly what we need as readers.

Metal Society #4 is another fantastic issue. The series might on the surface feel like just a “fight comic” but it features a depth that feels like it goes on and on and begging to be explored and debated.

Story: Zack Kaplan Art: Guilherme Balbi
Color: Marco Lesko Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: 8.5

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1

DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1

DC vs. Vampires has been an epic maxi-series so far. The story has had a world where the superheroes and villains have slowly been turned by the vampire nation until it’s far too late. Now, the vampires have taken over with vampire metas ruling all. All that’s left is a small group of heroes and villains who are broken and desperate to stop what’s going on. The series has been generally contained with a few one-shots and now DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1.

Written by Alex Paknadel and Matthew Rosenberg, the issue follows a desperate Deathstroke as he leads a team in an attempt to resurrect Batman. Of course things go wrong leading to some surprise twists, turns, and losses. And, that’s one of the things that has been great about the series. With it being a story unto itself, heroes and villains can die and be turned into vampires. It leaves you guessing as to who you can trust and who is a threat. It’s fun to read a comic and not be sure who’s turning up and whose side they’re on.

DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1 does a great job of worldbuilding as well. We’re introduced to a new sanctuary for humans. The issue takes us through it all, how it works, what the leadership is like. We get a sense of what the world is like for them and the challenges they face. We also get to see a lot more heroes and villains who we might have wondered where they are. And finally, it creates further tension. The one thing that has hampered our heroes (and villains) is that they’ve been unsure as to what to do. That continues here with more fighting and a fractured front.

The art by Pasquale Qualano is very interesting. Done in black, white, grey, and red Nicola Righi handles the tones with Troy Peteri on lettering. I like the design of the characters, world, and the style fits well with the story and genre. But, at times I had some issues figuring out the details and what’s going on. Still, there’s something that’s really cool about the choice. There’s some great dynamic panels and pages in the issue that really show off the world.

Guillaume Singelin handles the story and art for a bonus story featuring Jim Gordon and what remains of the Gotham PD. It’s a great addition answering some questions. Like the above, you don’t know who you can trust. But, also like the above the art is a bit muddled at times to figure out what’s going on.

DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1 is a solid addition to the overall story. It tackles what else is going on with events that wouldn’t fit in the main series, not just in length but with the narrative itself. It shows a side mission that’s pretty vital to the overall event and answers some questions as well as opening up some intriguing possibilities.

Story: Alex Paknadel, Matthew Rosenberg, Guillaume Singelin Art: Pasquale Qualano, Guillaume Singelin
Tones: Nicola Righi Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.25 Art: 7.85 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Zeus ComicsTFAWcomiXology/Kindle

Review: Metal Society #3

Metal Society #3

The training begins in Metal Society #3. After Rosa has accepted WOL-421313’s challenge which has both fighters beginning to prepare for their fight. They also each get a sense of the importance and impact of the fight which is far different for each. Rosa is fighting for all of humanity to show they should have a seat at the table. WOL is tempted with wealth and upgrades, success dangling in front of it.

Metal Society #3 continues the intriguing series that works on so many levels. Humanity is now a slave caste to robots who genetically engineer them to help build and clean. Rosa is fighting for them, but it’s that fighting aspect that’s intriguing. The chances of her winning are low and there’s debate if fighting is the best course of action. Writer Zack Kaplan delivers an interesting philosophical debate in this issue about human nature and how we fight from the moment we’re born. We fight to survive, to make gains, in pretty much all we do. And, we’ve fought for freedom and progress. Rosa encapsulates that all and in Kaplan’s writing has the reader debate what is in our innate nature.

With WOL, Kaplan takes another route showing the corruption of material. The robot is tempted with upgrades, not just in its own form but also living arrangements and who it may live with. This isn’t so much a fight to prove anything now, it’s a fight for self improvement and the individual. The two fighters together create an interesting dynamic with underlying motivations that are opposites in many ways.

The art by Guilherme Balbi is great. Joined by colorist Marco Lesko and letterer Troy Peteri each robot and human is full of personality. The designs for everyone is unique and tells a story about who they are and their roll in society. What’s also interesting is the issue is the “montage” training in some ways. We get conferences in between training sessions for both. While I’m sure there’s more the visuals feel like they play into that narrative structure we see in these types of stories.

Metal Society #3 is another great entry in the series. It entertains with a futuristic take on MMA but also has an underlying aspect to it that explores so many themes and concepts. It’s a comic that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. For those that enjoy “sports” comics, this is one that’s not to be missed.

Story: Zack Kaplan Art: Guilherme Balbi
Color: Marco Lesko Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: DC vs. Vampires: Killers

DC vs. Vampires: Killers

While we wait for the main series to return, DC vs. Vampires has been getting a series of one-shots to fill in the time, and expand the story. When I think of one-shots to a mini-series or event, I tend to have a negative opinion. The often feel like filler looking to cash in on a character or group. DC vs. Vampires‘ two releases break that mold. They are vital to the main story expanding on the world and setting up what’s to come. DC vs. Vampires: Killers is the second release delivering a glimmer of hope for the darkened world.

Written by Matthew Rosenberg, the one-shots have done a great job of expanding the miniseries event. They focus in on a specific aspect or character shifting the story from what was being told. If they were included in the main series, they’d feel like too much of a break and the flow of the series would suffer. As one-shots, that’s avoided though they fill in the gap as we wait for the series to return.

Harley Quinn has a crew of her own, now the crime boss of the vampire controlled Gotham. She’s presented an opportunity to smuggle out a glimmer of hope for humanity and must make a decision as to what to do.

Rosenberg, like the previous one-shot focused on Damian, creates another amazing chapter of the series. Like that other comic, this one is also pretty vital if you’ve been reading the main series. It gives us what’s likely to be part of the end game for the series and is our first bit of hope that the vampires might be able to be defeated. Like the main series, it keeps readers on their toes, guessing what will happen next and who has been turned into a vampire. But, even with that rather gloomy setting, Rosenberg find the humor in Harley as she does what she usually does.

The art by Mike Bowden and Eduardo Mello is great. It captures the kinetic energy that is Harley Quinn while keeping a look that fits nicely with the main series. They’re joined by Le Beau Underood and Livesay, with Bowden and Mello, on inks, Antonio Fabela on color, and Troy Peteri handles lettering. The comic’s visuals are top notch matching the quality of the series as a whole. There’s some great physical and visual humor to go along with Rosenberg’s, at times, snappy dialogue. To see the fate of Clayface and where that goes and not laugh is difficult. Without the visuals, it just wouldn’t play well at all.

DC vs. Vampires: Killers is a solid addition to the event. It’s another key comic and part of the story that just wouldn’t fit well in the main series. It’s a must for those already reading the series and might get those not interested in checking it out.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Mike Bowden, Eduardo Mello
Ink: Le Beau Underwood, Livesay, Mike Bowden, Eduardo Mello
Color: Antonio Fabela Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Aquaman and The Flash: Voidsong #1

Aquaman and The Flash: Voidsong #1

An unknown alien force has come to Earth enslaving its populace to sing a song and at the same time seemingly freezing time. Only two heroes weren’t impacted, Aquaman and the Flash, opposites when it comes to personality and approach. Aquaman and The Flash: Voidsong #1 kicks of a miniseries that is more about its heroes interactions than the villain they’re taking on.

Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing are together again and bringing with them a duo of heroes who couldn’t be more different. And that’s where the fun is for Aquaman and The Flash: Voidsong #1. The opening of the comic takes the very smart approach as to who Kelly and Lanzing think these heroes are.

The Flash/Barry Allen is a hero who thinks things out and can see the bigger picture but misses the small details. Aquaman/Arthur Curry might be a leader but still feels he needs to get his hands dirty and can’t delegate. Both are a bit headstrong each having an argument with their significant others. The two together of course are going to clash if they have to cooperate to solve this issue as they both see their way as best. I’m sure the answer will come in their working together and somewhere in between the two’s separate approach.

The art by Vasco Georgiev is interesting. With color by Rain Beredo and lettering by Troy Peteri, the art has an animated cell quality about it at times. There’s a cartoonish aspect that’s interesting to see on the digital page. The colors make it all pop in style with solid moments of action as well as some great moments between the two heroes and their spouses. This is one where the body language and a look on the face really tell so much. Small visual details just add everything to the interactions.

Jackson and Lanzing have delivered another fun debut giving us high stakes, lots of action, and some great moments between Barry and Arthur. It’s another example that if you see their names on a comic, it’s one to pick up and give a chance, you’ll rarely be disappointed.

Story: Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing Art: Vasco Georgiev
Color: Rain Beredo Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1

DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1

I have loved DC vs. Vampires. The series has surprised with a lot of twists and turns. It has dived into the deep end bringing paranoia with it. You never know who has been turned and who’s next to be turned or outright killed. DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1 seems to be set between the two halves of the main series acting as a nice reflection on what has happened and hinting at what’s to come.

It’s hard to review this issue without spoilers, so if you haven’t read the series up to this point, don’t go any further.

DC vs. Vampires left us with Nightwing being revealed as the Vampire King and his turned heroes and villains going on the attack and enveloping the world in darkness. Damian had been turned and Batman (among other heroes and villains) killed.

Matthew Rosenberg kicks the issue off with Damian seemingly a vampire on a mission hunting the remaining heroes and villains for the vampire nation. What’s soon revealed is despite his being turned, he’s still on the side of good secretly trying to stop Nightwing.

DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1 is a fascinating issue giving us the resistance to the big bad empire. It’s a situation and concept we’ve seen so many times before but Rosenberg has something up his sleeve… rivalry. The issue plays off the rivalry between Damian and Dick as well as their connection to Alfred. It shows there’s more going on here than just a big bad, there’s something more to Nightwing’s big picture plan. It’s all laid out here creating a key issue for the event that many may skip thinking it’s a one-shot tie-in. No, it’s a pretty important issue!

The art by Neil Googe is good. It’s a bit different than the main series but still works pretty well. With color by Antonio Fabela and lettering by Troy Peteri, it’s strength is its action, humor, and shocking moments. Googe really nails down the framing of scenes and what to focus on to emphasize what’s going on. The rest of the team ups the quality with colors that pop and lettering that really emphasizes the action and emotion.

What stands out about DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1 is its surprises. Much like the main series, the comic never quite goes in the direction you expect. It has shocking moments for sure, and there’s a body count, but it surprises the reader. More importantly, it points to a very intriguing second half of this series.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Neil Googe
Color: Antonio Fabela Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Metal Society #1

Metal Society #1

(W) Zack Kaplan (A/CA) Guilherme Balbi, Marco Lesko
In Shops: May 04, 2022
SRP: $3.99

MINISERIES PREMIERE

PORT OF EARTH writer ZACK KAPLAN teams up with hot up-and-coming artist GUILHERME BALBI in a dramatic new sci-fi miniseries that’s Blade Runner meets Rocky.

In an inverted future, evolved robots have resurrected humans for manual labor. When a tribalistic cultural clash breaks out, a fearless human fighter and a frustrated, displaced robot will square off in a public MMA-style sport fight of epic stakes to determine once and for all who reigns supreme: man or machine.

Metal Society #1

Review: Metal Society #1

Metal Society #1

In the future humanity has been wiped out. Their excess and lack of caring for the planet has destroyed them. Robots have risen in their place to rule and care for the planet. But, even robots have work they don’t want to do. So, humans have been grown to perform the labor the robots no longer feel like doing. But, enslaved individuals strive for freedom. Metal Society #1 pits two warriors, a human and a robot, in an MMA-style battle to prove… something. That part’s not totally clear but the comic’s overall themes and focus is.

Zack Kaplan takes us into another sci-fi world using its setting to explore our own society. Fear of replacement by tools, yearning for freedom, choice, it’s all here in a first issue that’s packed with a lot to chew on and debate about. The comic is both breezy entertainment and dense debate at the same time. It’s rather impressive in that way.

As a fan of MMA, I’m super excited to see the actual fight to come but the first issue is a lot of setup introducing us to the world, the conflict, and the combatants. It does a solid job of building it all up delivering an easy to understand cause and a simple and different outlet to see that play out in. I finished the issue and immediately wanted to read more.

The art by Guilherme Balbi with color by Marco Lesko and lettering by Troy Peteri is fantastic. There’s a futuristic dystopian aspect about it that doesn’t feel depressing. The comic is definitely the future but it doesn’t deliver a neon skyline like so many. Instead, it’s foreign and familiar at the same time. And that futurescape is mixed with the grounded reality of the humans which reminded me a lot of the shanty town in John Carpenter’s They Live. The clash between worlds is clear and interesting and it too adds some depth to the debate and challenges the reader to reflect on our own world and reality.

Metal Society #1 is a hell of a start. It does what good sci-fi does, entertain and also explore our own world. But that exploration is even more interesting in that it takes on so much to reflect upon and forcing the reader to think and chew on their own. Wear a mouth guard, this looks like it’s going to be one hell of a read and fight to come.

Story: Zack Kaplan Art: Guilherme Balbi
Color: Marco Lesko Letterer: Troy Peteri
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

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