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Review: Suicide Squad: King Shark #2

Suicide Squad: King Shark #2

Suicide Squad: King Shark #2 continues to be a funny, gory, and occasionally sexy good time from Tim Seeley, Scott Kolins, and John Kalisz. This book feels a lot like a quirky late-1980s DC comic thanks to appearances of supporting cast members from Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and of course, the titular Suicide Squad, but Seeley brings a modern sense of humor with one of the most annoying songs in recent memory acting as both a running gag and something driving the plot. The same philosophy extends to Kolins’ sturdy, almost deadpan figures that are an inch away from erupting into total violence. Kalisz also eschews the fancy digital effects and goes for bold, trippy tones especially any time mystical power or energy is involved. King Shark is a silly book, but it’s well-crafted and has some great world-building too.

Like in many of his previous DC efforts, like Nightwing and Grayson, Seeley excels at both excavating old concepts and characters from previous DC Comics as well as fleshing his own additions to this vast multiverse. The entire plot of Suicide Squad: King Shark revolves around a tournament of representatives of different species from cockroaches and sea worms to sharks and humans to see which one is the prime evolutionary force on the planet. It’s also connected to the idea of the Red and Parliament of Limbs from Jeff Lemire’s run on Animal Man, but Tim Seeley and Kolins give it a reality TV/shonen manga/pro wrestling flair. It’s fun to watch anthropomorphic animals beat the shit out of each other while King Shark and our POV character, Shawn Tsang (Aka my favorite character from Seeley’s Nightwing run.) work out their anger issues and try to stay one step ahead of Amanda Waller, who wants King Shark to kill for her not his species.

Tim Seeley, Scott Kolins, and Kalisz are quite creative with the fight scenes in Suicide Squad: King Shark #2 and make them weirder, and in many cases, grosser than your usual superhero fisticuffs. John Kalisz colors the hell out of some oozing fluids, and Seeley doesn’t make King Shark’s matchups a cake walk even if he isn’t fighting any recognizable DC characters. However, the highly problematic B’wana Beast is the host and in full sleazy drama-stirring mode. (The fact that Mr. Beast is problematic is commented on by the characters in a quick witted line from Shawn.) This combination of struggles at the tournament plus Shawn (And by extension, the reader) rooting for Man King to ensure that humanity isn’t shark or cockroach bait increases the tension as well as Amanda Waller and a team of seriously cool characters ready to retrieve King Shark from what she perceives as nonsense. Her interactions with King Shark’s divine father are seriously chilling as she doesn’t back down from a character who gets special big lettering font from Wes Abbott because he’s so powerful.

Suicide Squad: King Shark #2 is truly a delight. It’s a deep dive into some seriously underappreciated DC characters, both past and present, with a sense of humor and a brutal approach to fight scenes. Tim Seeley and Scott Kolins also find the gentle humanity in King Shark, and most of the time you’re laughing with and not at him and feeling bad at how he’s manipulated by so many forces, including his father, Amanda Waller, and Shawn Tsang. Maybe, one day he’ll find a human that he can actually trust, but it probably won’t be in this miniseries among the Real Housewives, er, Furries of the DC Multiverse.

Story: Tim Seeley  Art: Scott Kolins
Colors: John Kalisz Letters: Wes Abbott
Story: 8.4 Art: 7.9 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Suicide Squad #5

Suicide Squad #5

With his spotlight in the upcoming The Suicide Squad, it was only a matter of time before we saw Bloodsport join the series. Suicide Squad #5 brings the character into the fold as he takes on a mission for Amanda Waller, one that involves the multiverse.

Bloodsport is on a mission. After a quick “origin” recap for those that don’t know the character we get into the thick of things. Hopping around the multiverse on his own, Bloodsport is looking for new recruits for Waller to join her Suicide Squad. Now on Earth-3 he has to deal with a world where all of the “heroes” are actually villains. There’s a lot of recruitment opportunities there.

Robbie Thompson does a fantastic job of taking us through Bloodsport’s thought-process as he explores a new world and explains his mission. We get a little more about his background and history and Thompson adds some small touches that add some depth to the character. What’s great is the character delivers what feels like a mix of danger, expertise, and a little off. The results are some deadpan humor that keeps the comic from being too serious.

A team delivers the art which isn’t too noticeable. Other than an opening sequence, the comic is smooth in its look and it looks good. Dexter Soy, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, and Joe Prado all provide the art. Suicide Squad #5 features some nice layouts that make Bloodsport look amazing with dynamic poses that you want to recreate with toys. Alex Sinclair‘s colors make the blues, reds, and greens pop on the page. Wes Abbott handles the surprising amount of dialogue and really makes Bloodsport’s journal unique and in his “voice”.

Suicide Squad #5 is a fantastic entry in a series that’s been entertaining the entire time. It almost stands on its own and can likely be picked up by new readers with few issues. What’s better for long-time readers is that there’s some major moments when it comes to the team’s dynamics that’ll have major implications going forward. At the end though, it left me wanting more Bloodsport.

Story: Robbie Thompson Art: Dexter Soy, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Joe Prado
Color: Alex Sinclair Letterer: Wes Abbott
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Robins Reunite in Nightwing #80, and a Heartless New Blüdhaven Villain Arrives!

Longtime Nightwing readers will know that Dick Grayson’s always had a big heart. From protecting those persecuted by bullies in his youth, to combating evil alongside Batman as Robin, to pledging his newly inherited wealth to enriching Blüdhaven as Nightwing—his kindness and generosity have always guided his life. But looking ahead to Nightwing #80’s “Leaping into the Light” part 3 on May 18, a new villain stalks the back alleys of Blüdhaven, removing the hearts of the city’s most vulnerable. Who is this terrifying new menace named Heartless, and will he be able to resist plucking out the biggest heart in all of Blüdhaven? You’ll need to read this (literally) heart-wrenching issue to find out!

On top of all that, creators Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbott are delivering the heart and soul of the DC Universe in every issue! Check out a Robins reunion in Nightwing #80, due to hit shelves on May 18! What is Tim Drake doing in Blüdhaven?

Then in Nightwing #81 on Jun 15, Dick Grayson trades out his escrima sticks for a magnifying glass and a sleuth hat to investigate Blüdhaven’s new mayor, Melinda Zucco, and find out how the daughter of the man who murdered Dick’s parents came to power in Nightwing’s city. But his investigative adventure is cut short when he comes face to face with the most horrendous villain in the history of Blüdhaven—HEARTLESS.

And in Nightwing #82 on July 20, Melinda Zucco’s connection to the man who killed Dick Grayson’s parents wasn’t a surprise to the Blüdhaven hero, but what the former Robin discovers about Melinda’s ties to the Flying Graysons leaves the usually upbeat detective speechless!

Every issue of Nightwing, written by Tom Taylor with art and covers by Bruno Redondo, color by Adriano Lucas, lettering by Wes Abbott, edited by Jessica Chen, has Nightwing “Leaping into the Light!”

Review: Suicide Squad #2

Suicide Squad #2

I loved the debut of this latest volume of Suicide Squad. The issue did a great job of doing its own thing but also tying into what else was going on in the DC Universe. The debut issue involved Peacemaker leading a team to break out William Cobb, aka Talon, from Arkham Asylum. For those who read Batman, you’ll know there was an attack that killed most of Arkham’s inhabitants. Peacemaker and the team found themselves caught in that attack. Suicide Squad #2 keeps things moving as Peacemaker is determined to complete his mission.

Robbie Thompson keeps readers on their toes with Peacemaker focused and overwhelmed. He’s dealing with inmates and guards as he attempts to get his target back to base. There’s a solid action aspect to it but Thompson also does something interesting, you have no idea if Peacemaker will succeed. In the first issue, much of the team were killed. That opening now keeps readers on their toes not knowing who might be offed next. This is a first, I really feel like this is a team that might not make it. Beyond Peacemaker and Superboy, who knows who might die. Thompson keeps things rolling as a new team is sent to help Peacemaker in his mission.

Suicide Squad #2 is solid in that it begins the steps towards the team we see in its Future State issues. It also throws in characters both known and obscure and any can die. But, what it really does is gives us a team where there’s more than team vs. Waller. With the inclusions of Peacemaker and Superboy we have two powerhouses who are going to clash. Peacemaker sees Waller as a method to achieve his goals. Superboy is the reluctant member who wants to do things his way and keep the death toll low. Then there’s a whole bunch of other varied personalities. It’s a solid team and dynamic that’s really entertaining.

Eduardo Pansica‘s art is fantastic. There’s just fantastic action that delivers on every page and looks great. The characters are so varied yet it still looks like they belong together. Julio Ferreira‘s ink, Marcelo Maiolo‘s color and Wes Abbott‘s lettering just adds to the experience. The color and inks make the images pop at times and really takes what easily could be a dark comic but lightens it up in a way. The lettering too just adds to each character’s personality.

Suicide Squad #2 is a solid issue. It’s full of action and sets up the team dynamic well. There’s also the fact that bodies keep piling up. This is a series that you shouldn’t get too attached to characters. They’re going to die. Beyond a few specifics, everyone is on the table as far as that. This is a comic that’s just full of action and personalities with some dynamic art that brings it all together. A fantastic second issue that builds on the excitement of the first.

Story: Robbie Thompson Art: Eduardo Pansica
Ink: Julio Ferreira Color: Marcelo Maiolo Letterer: Wes Abbott
Story: 8.1 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

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Heartless Debuts in Nightwing #79

Coming up in Nightwing #79, in addition to the first appearance of new character Heartless, Dick Grayson has inherited Alfred’s fortune, a puppy, and a whole lot of questions. Who is Mayor Zucco, and what is her relation to the man who murdered Dick’s parents? What sinister plans does Blockbuster have for Blüdhaven? What kind of dog food is best for a three-legged puppy? To answer these questions, Dick’s going to need a little help from his friends—past and present. Take a look at the first few pages of Nightwing #79, due to hit shelves on April 20.

Nightwing #79, written by Tom Taylor with art and cover by Bruno Redondo, color by Adriano Lucas, lettering by Wes Abbott, edited by Jessica Chen, featuring a card stock variant cover by Jamal Campbell, continues the next stage of Nightwing’s evolution as a hero!

Nightwing #79

Review: Nightwing #78

Nightwing #78

Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Adriano Lucas begin their run on Nightwing with a heart-render of a first issue that really shows what makes Dick Grayson tick as a person and a hero. It also sets up some train tracks for future developments in the title and has a cute puppy to boot. Opening with a six page flashback featuring a young Dick and Barbara Gordon, Nightwing #78 pays tribute to the character’s past, but it’s also forward-thinking as well with our protagonist getting an opportunity to improve life in Bludhaven on a larger scale than beating up Orca, Blockbuster, or whatever Metropolis or Gotham villains decide to pay a visit to his city.

Taylor and Redondo wisely sidestep yet another re-tread of Dick Grayson’s origin, but they do spend Nightwing #78 showing how trauma has shaped his life. But, instead of turning him angry or isolated like certain other heroes, Dick Grayson is all about building and maintaining relationships with the people (or animals) he comes into contact with whether he’s dressed up in his Nightwing or Robin costume or just going about his day. We see this in the flashback where he protects one of his classmates from a bully and also gets to duck and weave a little bit and knock the teeth out of the son of one of Gotham’s most corrupt insurance company owners. There’s definitely a little bit of the hero who’s not afraid to stand up against in corruption in young Dick, and Taylor and Redondo even make certain fans happy by having a young Barbara Gordon show up to help. This scene is really sweet and re-establishes the friendships Dick has with Barbara and had with Alfred Pennyworth (He helps him do the dishes!) as well as his generally altruistic attitude. He’s always ready to help out whether that’s standing up to a school bully or punching someone in a killer whale costume.

Tom Taylor structures Nightwing #78 as a study in contrasts between Dick Grayson and Melinda Zucco. Dick is the scion of two good men, Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne, while Melinda is the daughter of a corrupt murderer, Tony Zucco, who also killed Dick’s parents. She has two scenes in the book, and for now, she looks just like a pawn/yes person for the jacked up crime lord Blockbuster, who is the real power in Bludhaven and totally cool with squashing the heads of public officials that don’t play ball with him. Colorist Adriano Lucas bathes her scenes with shadow and dim light while Bruno Redondo draws Blockbuster towering over her while she takes direction from him and doesn’t even react when his henchman disposes of the old mayor’s body like a candy wrapper. However, the whole passive thing might just be an act, and Melinda’s final scene in the comic hints at a character with a thirst for revenge and finishing what her dad started. She’s definitely smarter than the old mayor.

While Melinda Zucco works within the corrupt system of Bludhaven in Nightwing #78, Dick Grayson wants to dismantle it in both big and small ways. He rescues a puppy that is being kicked around by some sadistic men while also trying to figure out how to keep the rent in his apartment complex affordable after losing access to his Wayne Enterprises funds during the events of “Joker War”. This macro/micro approach to Nightwing’s extends to how the comic is written and drawn. During action scenes, Bruno Redondo’s art is super kinetic with all kinds of speed lines and silhouettes while Tom Taylor’s narrative captions add context and look at the bigger picture of what Nightwing is trying to accomplish. We don’t just get him trying to sniff out an intruder in his apartment: Taylor gives the whole backstory behind where he has decided to live. He’s always drawing parallels throughout the events the story like Dick thinking back to how he acted after his parents passed away when his new puppy bites him.

In Nightwing #78, Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Adriano Lucas plot out a familiar, yet new path for Dick Grayson. He’s in Bludhaven and eventually going up against Blockbuster, but Taylor and Redondo add all kinds of lovely bits of characterization like pausing to let him finally grieve over Alfred and bond with a new puppy. From this issue, it seems that they care about Dick as a person just as much as a superhero, and they also start to craft an antagonist that is a shattered mirror of him without being cheesy and putting her in a “Dark Nightwing” costume or something. All in all, this issue is a charming read and worth checking out whether this is your first or 201st Nightwing comic

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Bruno Redondo
Colors: Adriano Lucas Letters: Wes Abbott
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Suicide Squad #1

Suicide Squad #1

With a new film on the horizon, it’s not surprising that the Suicide Squad will be a pretty key role in DC’s plans. Suicide Squad #1 delivers a new start for the team with Amanda Waller back in charge. The issue lays out her new vision and mission for a new team as the Squad attempts to break out a new member of the team from Arkham Asylum.

Writer Robbie Thompson delivers an issue that’s full of action and nails down Waller as a character. She has a mission. She has a vision. And both are just to her no matter what we might think as readers. Thompson also shakes things up delivering pushback to that mission and vision in unexpected ways. But, the bigger thing Thompson does is keep readers on their toes. There’s a body count in the issue and many of those are unexpected. Beyond Peacemaker, who will be in the new film and is getting his own spin-off television show, everyone is apparently on the table for be killed. Thompson makes that clear which makes the series interesting going forward. As long as the cast sticks to C and D-list characters, expect more bodies as characters get offed.

The art is fantastic delivering the action. Eduardo Pansica‘s pencils, Julio Ferreira‘s ink, Marcelo Maiolo‘s colors, and Wes Abbott‘s lettering is top notch. The page flip and panel placement is used really well. Both are used to either shock or show how off-kilter things are. All the while delivering the violence you’d expect from the team. The perspectives at time are fantastic as team members are killed or left behind to die. There’s just a great sense of motion, both physical and storywise.

Suicide Squad #1 also does a solid job of tying into the Batman story in Infinite Frontier #0. The issues shown in Arkham Asylum extend here showing off some of the interconnectedness we might see in the DC Universe and shined in the Batman corner of “Future State”.

Suicide Squad #1 is a solid start with a very intriguing team. Amanda Waller is back in charge and is on a mission. She doesn’t care who is killed to make that happen. Without major names, this feels like a series that anything really can happen and will keep readers on their toes to see who gets offed and how. A really solid (re)start to the series that delivers action and intrigue.

Story: Robbie Thompson Art: Eduardo Pansica
Ink: Julio Ferreira Color: Marcelo Maiolo Letterer: Wes Abbott
Story: 8.45 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

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Get an Early Look at Nightwing #78

Nightwing #78

Story: Tom Taylor
Art: Bruno Redondo
Color: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover: Bruno Redondo
Variant Cover: Skan
On Sale: March 16

Nightwing, with Batgirl by his side, returns to Blüdhaven! Dick Grayson is back after DC’s Future State event—and his drive to keep Blüdhaven safe has never been stronger!

In Taylor and Redondo’s Nightwing run, Blüdhaven has elected a new mayor with the last name Zucco, which can’t be good for DC’s first sidekick and former Robin—but is it good for Blüdhaven? When Nightwing enlists Batgirl’s help in investigating the politician bearing the same name as the man who murdered his parents, she unearths details that will shock and fundamentally change the hero.

And appearing is a potential new sidekick for Dick Grayson—a three-legged puppy that he shields from harm in Blüdhaven’s alleys! Will Nightwing adopt this nameless mutt? And will she warm fan’s hearts as fast as Nightwing kicks her tormentor’s butts? Meet her for the first time on March 16 in Nightwing #78!

Nightwing #78

Review: Future State: Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1

Future State: Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1

Although she made an appearance in Future State: Superman of Metropolis’ lead story, Future State: Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1 checks in on the titular character’s new status quo. Kara is currently the pacifistic protector of Earth’s Moon where she protects outsiders and the disenfranchised, who have fled that violent planet for a new start. She is also estranged from the new Superman, Jonathan Kent, as well as the original one, Clark Kent. In this comic, writer Marguerite Bennett and artist Marguerite Sauvage show Kara mentoring Lynari, a metahuman with great abilities. They have speed, super-strength, shape-shifting, and power-draining powers that are displayed in a visually stunning way by Sauvage and are on the run from family members, who want the jewel that gives these abilities.

Future State: Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1 has many good factors. First, it’s nice to see a hero, like Kara, dedicated to non-violence and using her abilities to help make life easier for the Moon colonist, or in a last resort, for self-defense. (Of course, this rule is broken on the final page when Lynari is nabbed by her evil relatives.) Also, non-binary superheroes are rare in mainstream comics, and it’s cool to see one get to have an arc unrelated to their gender identities and also do flat out cool things like use their shapeshifting to sprout multiple arms and move rocks to make a lake for water, recreation, and other fun stuff. Finally, Sauvage has a gorgeous art style that is rooted in Magical Girl manga/anime as much as traditional superheroes, and she uses beautiful full or double-page compositions to show Lynari training with Kara and building a relationship with her.

Marguerite Sauvage’s color palette also conveys strong emotion like deep reds and blues when Lynari is sad that they weren’t praised by the inhabitants of the Moon for setting up the lake. This leads to a tense conversation with Kara where Lynari says some hurtful things about Kara not being accepted by Earth or her blood family as vertical grids of a “fly and talk” erupt into a full page energy blast. Lynari has obviously been through some tough times in their life and needs a literal safe space as their relatives are on the prowl. Sauvage uses different layouts and palettes depending on the sequence going for rigid and pastels when Lynari and Kara are enjoying each other’s company and flying around the moon and going to the grid and darker shades when there’s any kind of tension. Add her detailed backgrounds with the people on the moon having very different reactions than Lynari and Kara and creativity with Lynari’s powers (The sihouette of a dragon and Kara flying is very charming.) , and this is a story that you could follow without reading the plethora of caption boxes and dialogue.

Future State: Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1

Because, yes, Kara Zor-El Superwoman is a comic that is a little bit overwritten despite Marguerite Bennett’s simple premise of Kara being in exile from Earth on the Moon and Lynari being a metahuman on the run. A lot of Bennett’s dialogue is didactic, and she includes one or two cliches about revenge, kindness, and helping others when showing Lynari helping out Kara around the Moon would get the point across. The monologue and text-heavy nature of the comic is evident from the first page when she eulogizes her deceased dog, Krypto. The fact that one of my favorite comic book canines had passed away already tugged at my heart strings, but Kara goes into great details about the moral lessons she learned from him. They are good, but basic ones like “Be kind”.

Bennett mixes these sayings with actual character-relevant captions dialogue for Kara in Kara Zor-El Superwoman as she discusses about how she was passed over for the mantle of Superman by a relative newcomer, (At least, in comics time.) and how she tries to honor the legacy of the House of El. This creates overt similarities and a natural bond between her and Lynari, who also has a destiny and long heritage that is explained in a page of exposition. Mentoring and diversifying heroes seems to be a throughline in Future State so far, either in the actual stories or in the way they’re marketed, and Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1 fits this mold, especially when Lynari and Kara are training together or having tough conversations about Kara’s non-violence with Lynari’s relatives on the way. (A shock of heat vision is the answer to that.)

When Marguerite Bennett is connecting the larger themes of Kara Zor-El Superwoman to specific incidents in characters’ lives or journeys, her writing sparkles and complements Marguerite Sauvage’s magical visuals that can occasionally be dark or playful depending on the tone of the story. However, when she’s in monologue about good deeds and virtues mode, the book loses steam and feels more like beautifully drawn and colored lecture and superhero comic. However, I love how Bennett and Sauvage craft the character of Lynari, and I hope they have staying power beyond Future State with their cool powers and emotional openness although their backstory is derivative of several characters already in the DC Universe like Amethyst of Gemworld.

Story: Marguerite Bennett Art: Marguerite Sauvage Letterer: Wes Abbott
Story: 6.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo take on Nightwing Starting March 2021

Nightwing, with Batgirl by his side, returns to Blüdhaven in March 2021 when Nightwing #78, by new New York Times-bestselling creative team Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, hits comic book shelves! Dick Grayson is back after DC’s Future State event—and his drive to keep Blüdhaven safe has never been stronger!

In Taylor and Redondo’s Nightwing run, Blüdhaven has elected a new mayor with the last name Zucco, which can’t be good for DC’s first sidekick and former Robin—but is it good for Blüdhaven? When Nightwing enlists Batgirl’s help in investigating the politician bearing the same name as the man who murdered his parents, she unearths details that will shock and fundamentally change the hero.

And appearing in the first issue of Taylor and Redondo’s new Nightwing comic is a potential new sidekick for Dick Grayson—a three-legged puppy that he shields from harm in Blüdhaven’s alleys! Will Nightwing adopt this nameless mutt? And will she warm fan’s hearts as fast as Nightwing kicks her tormentor’s butts? Meet her for the first time on March 16 in Nightwing #78!

Nightwing #78, written by Tom Taylor with art and cover by Bruno Redondo, color by Adriano Lucas, lettering by Wes Abbott, edited by Jessica Chen, featuring a variant cover by Skan, takes Nightwing to the next stage of his evolution as a hero! 

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