Review – Malefic #4

  • Writer: Dan Schaffer
  • Artist: David Miller
  • Lettering: Chris Crank
  • Published by: 1First Comics

After experiencing a high note, Doctor Freust gets the wind knocked out of her sails as inmate eleven discloses she’s unleashed a threat insane the building. With a murderer on the loose, it’s going to get rough in a hurry. Good fortune only lasts so long in that place.

Issue 4 heads right into the mess and takes little time to unveil the latest star of the issue. While shaken, Doctor Freust still has her wits and confidence going on and faces off with an inmate atop the building. It’s an interesting exchange with a sign that our Doctor is leaving bits of her reluctance behind and instead embracing the madness her father pioneered. Unfortunately, chaos was still alive and well throughout the facility leaving Doctor Freust to navigate the maze inmate eleven was working on.

Seeing inmate eleven resume the mind f… un with the Doctor is a strange series of encounters, we learn that anything Doctor Freust thought she figured out about eleven is completely wrong. While some inmates are easily decoded and sedated, eleven is completely on another level and that message is delivered with shocking clarity and so little mercy to Freust and the readers as well.

The art throughout issue 4 is on par with the series so far, conveying emotion through gestures, body position and other accents. Readers learn new workings of the building and the landscape surrounding it. While it feels confined, it’s actually a wider experience of what the world in Malefic has to offer, at least within that limited landscape.

I take my hat off to Dan Schaffer and David Miller, that closing section genuinely had me take a long pause.

Link: Order (Digital)

Release Date: Out Now

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★★ 

Review – Malefic #3

  • Writer: Dan Schaffer
  • Artist: David Miller
  • Lettering: Chris Crank
  • Published by: 1First Comics

Malefic gave a dose of the inmates in the last issue, showing some of the more paranormal skills and oddities surrounding the asylum. Doctor Freust learned a bit more about herself as well, practical approaches and being dismissive of the powers that exist are an easy way to meet her end. As we enter the third installment of the series, things pick up as our dear Doctor starts to enter her stride and takes a new approach with open eyes to the inmates that surround her.

Conventional approaches take on a new twist, Doctor Freust starts to feel at home with the mad science of her father mixed along with her own blend of psychology. It’s a new vibe in the storyline for issue 3 and a welcome shift since no one likes seeing the protagonist get beaten physically and mentally throughout a series. The high note brings new twists to the inmates and their situation, instead of an atmosphere of chaos and defeat it’s a little glimmer of hope that some sense can be made of this mess.

David Miller continues to draw out a unique atmosphere within Malefic, creating interesting reactionary facial expressions while dabbling in some wildly erratic bodily gestures. The story actually gets wildly detailed in ways one wouldn’t expect while reading the issue and it’s interesting to see it executed upon when so many would venture away or sidebar the imagery. Malefic takes chances and explores things outside of normal convention and it does it with a control that ensures it’ll work for the read.

Overall the third installment changes the pace, explores some new behaviors and depth of the inmates and gives us a little more insight into what’s going on with Doctor Freust as she attempts to not end up as a splatter on the wall.

Link: Order (Digital)

Release Date: Out Now

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★★ 

Review – Malefic #2

  • Writer: Dan Schaffer
  • Artist: David Miller
  • Published by: 1First Comics

Malefic left readers off with a bit of trauma, our dear new Doctor Freust took a walk into the supernatural, viewing largely that which could not be unseen. After a brief encounter with Inmate Eleven, things went south in a hurry. Issue 2 picks up from there as our dear doctor takes another stab at life in the throne atop a madhouse.

We see relationships develop along with the staff and some new faces step into the scene, notably the introduction of Eric who plays tour guide into the facility as new inmates are interviewed during these rounds. Doctor Freust does her best to balance the reality she knows against this new world of powers and insanity. If her best is enough to survive is another story, with inmates that make a lifestyle out of obliterating others it’ll take a mix of that knowledge with a side of madness to stay a step ahead.

The story direction for issue 2 falls into a bit of chaos, Doctor Freust is losing the training wheels and going head-on into what this place is really about. Coming to realize she’ll need to be constantly on her toes and even then coming to terms with the fact that some of these inmates are a million leagues above her at this point. She’s not incompetent but there’s definitely a chip that’s going to do more harm than good with this class of company.

Dan Schaffer brings an eclectic mix of art and story to this second installment, moments, moods, and happenings all fall into sync across the pages as Doctor Freust bounces from confidence to confusion and into the depths of madness. It’s a solid continuation of the first issue, building on that pacing while retaining the mix of thriller and horror storyline.

Link: Order (Digital)

Release Date: Out Now

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Spent

Director: Lisa Mikitarian
Produced by: Sam Mikitarian
Screenplay: Lisa Mikitarian
Studio: Indie Rights

Mortality is a strange thing for people, the power of it can send someone down near infinite paths, in the case of the Schumacher family it’s a little bit of fantasy and exotic wonder as they face one of their family with brain cancer in the final stages. What they weren’t prepared for as they packed their bags and said farewell to the lives they once knew is a sudden twist by Herbert of his terminal diagnosis.

Lonnie is Herbert’s son, a theater worker basically with low ambition, awkward social cues and high hopes for a car saleswoman and the vehicle she’s slinging his way. Evelyn is Herbert’s beloved wife, dabbling in so many luxuries once denied in her life with Herbert behind the wheel with fantasy for beaches and pampering. The duo arrives on screen with their lives ahead mapped out until it all takes a massive detour, the shift causes turmoil for them and their established significant others who find these changes unacceptable to the pampered lives they were anticipating. Bad taste in partners seems to be a running theme between Lonnie and Evelyn, they easily fall into the pressures of their partners and really get the storyline running.

The whiff of half a million dollars in savings upon Herbert’s death drives all four characters in the story into dark and dastardly deeds to get their payout. The future once so certain unfolds in new ways with twists that force Herbert’s family to face the darkness they’ve fallen into. While they want this future they’ve painted so brightly, is murder really an option? The struggle consumes and twists and turns them to really face what it is they’re actually doing and acting on.

Overall the story and delivery are interesting with their own twists and angles, Nick Nerangis plays the unassuming Herbert who takes this second chance with new optimism and light. A light that draws a fair amount of empathy from the audience as his wife and son work their angles in the background, each with such selfish desire. Connie Lamothe and Darren Barzegar both play their family roles with distress, fed up with the status quo and completely unaccepting of the new hand life has dealt out to Herbert. The cast has a very unassuming air to their characters, devious but honest in their inexperience to something like affairs and seducing potential inheritance boyfriends to run away.

Overall the pace of the story could pick up speed but it’s not something that kills the experience, it’s a story of miracles and greed and murder mixed with a dose of love and sometimes that’s messy, actually… it’s probably always messy, that just seems like something that probably would never go well. There’s certainly plenty of twists, guilt, and frustration throughout Spent that make the story such an interesting and entertaining dark tale.  For those looking to take a stroll for something different, Spent delivers with dark comedy and constant surprises from life itself to the Schumacher family and their significant others.

Release Date: December 15, 2017
Platform: VOD and Theatrical (Trailer)

Cast:
Sally Anderson
Darren Barzegar
Erin Harth
Sonya Kalian
Connie Lamothe
Janna Livingston
Nataly Martin
Joe Mayes
Nathan McDonald
Madeline Mikitarian
Nick Nerangis
Hannah Overholtzer
Anna Grace Padgett
Tony Villa

Review – Malefic #1

  • Writer: Dan Schaffer
  • Artist: David Miller
  • Published by: 1First Comics

Stories of insanity always have their own surprises and twists, Malefic is an interesting and modern take on such a tale. A young aspiring doctor, a past tarnished with a bit of shame, cannibalism and a dash of attempted murder. This is the life of our Doctor Freust in Malefic, it’s ugly, gritty and fascinating at once as the young doctor kicks off their debut issue right in the lion’s den without a second thought.

This first issue is a casual introduction that slowly drags Doctor Freust and readers deeper and deeper as events unfold. Having a lead with no issue about bearing it all in their back story with no issue is a welcoming, they know what happened, what it did and they’re not paralyzed by it. It’s just the larger machine and inmates of the facility that do manage that state later on once Doctor Freust realizes what her father was really up to and buried in.

Complimenting this intricate story are pages of art from David Miller, delivering expressionistic styling throughout. From the first pages of Doctor Freust talking in her cell to cannibalistic seductive murder, faces and gestures in these pages are creative and expressive giving life to each scenario. We get a detailed grand picture of the facility, the dark halls and chambers within it and a bit of extreme detail when it comes to inmate habits. But it all acts as a support to the story and the atmosphere of Malefic, even more so when adding in the Diagnostic Spectacles which are just an interesting twist on the real inner demons waiting to make their way out later in the series.

Malefic #1 delivers a bit of everything out of the gate, interesting back story, a horrifying granny figure, devastating loss, an asylum to end all asylums, super-secret religious organizations and more. It’s just packaged so well and delivered in the right portions that it makes for an interesting read especially as we stroll into Halloween season. Can it get much worse for Doctor Freust? Undoubtedly and it most likely will which is a good hook for readers looking for something to tickle/scar their brains.

Link: Order (Digital)

Release Date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Pitchfork

Director: Glenn Douglas Packard
Produced by: Glenn Douglas Packard, Darryl F. Gariglio, Noreen Marriott
Associate Producer: Shaun Cairo
Screenplay: Glenn Douglas Packard, Darryl F. Gariglio
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment

Horror is a touchy genre, so much focus on visuals, shock and awe leave viewers almost always expecting something to pop out right at them all the time, with such a high level of anticipation it’s interesting when films play around with the inner workings to deliver something out of the norm. Pitchfork follows a group of carefree college kids as one of their friends faces their parents after coming out to them.

There’s a mix of favorability within the cast, people pulling dirty deeds on each other and generating a sense of wonder on who falls prey first to this beast of the night. Most of the cast are blissfully ignorant of the troubles lurking on the farm, throwing a farm rave of sorts while everything goes down. Oddly enough Pitchfork runs with a long lead into the damage and even when it goes down it’s not a rapid-fire affair, instead, it’s methodical and downright cruel in some delivery but it’s what helps shape the experience.

Pitchfork uses the classic teen slasher experience and twists it around while also dousing the story with a blast of psychological shock on top of all else, it’s what helps define the movie as the events layer into a bloody mess. I can’t say I completely expected the twists and turns the movie took and efforts it made to defy classic staples of horror movies in the mainstream. It’s campy and violent while carrying disturbing twists which grab curious fans from across the spectrum.

While I came into Pitchfork expecting bodies to start dropping in typical fashion, it was anything but that. The film develops its own pacing and general structure that leaves viewers waiting for what lands next.

Cast:
Daniel Wilkinson
Lindsey Nicole
Brian Raetz
Ryan Moore
Celina Beach
Keith Webb
Sheila Leason
Nicole Dambro
Vibhu Raghave
Rachel Carter
Andrew Dave-Collins
Carol Ludwick
Derek Reynolds
Addisyn Wallace
Anisbel Lopez

DVD / Blu-ray release date: May 2nd, 2017

Review – Mom & Me

Writer & Director: Ken Wardrop
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment

Mothers day is around the corner and a new limited release movie is landing early to remind many of us about those unique relationships with the mothers in our lives. Mom & Me joins Joe Cristiano in his pursuit for motherly stories from Oklahoma, deemed one of the manliest states in the US. It’s a mixed series of emotion, hearing tales of childhood discipline, discovering later in life friendships and growth and more.

Just over an hour in clips and stories the experiences sweep across the board, while generally upbeat the tales do have darker periods which adds a unique dose of honesty to the film. While there are segments of love and respect from many, there are also tales of frustration and rebellion and the realizations that eventually came from those conflicts which brought about new appreciation and growth.

Young or old there’s an interesting crossover of experiences throughout Wardrop’s film and the cameos that highlight the interactions between those callers and their mothers. Not everyone has a happy ending, some had bouts of violence, drugs and other life struggles that they faced but the unique theme is, in the end, their mothers persevered and came back when their kids still needed them most and those moments etched themselves into the minds of those men.

Overall Mom & Me brings viewers back to their own memories with their mom or significant parent in their life. The reflections bring smiles and pull a tear or two out while listening to stories of care, persistence, struggle and forgiveness. For Oklahoma listener’s there is little doubt about the impact and position their mothers had in their lives and how it’s shaped them after realizing the power the relationship brought to their lives. It’s hard to say it’s specifically a feel good piece, there are so many windows for viewers to reflect on the past, the present and the future and where they stand themselves.

The filming highlights multiple dynamics of those relationships told while cutting itself short enough to not overstay its welcome. As a VOD title or a casual film to catch it would deliver a worthwhile experience and that’s what makes it stand out given the timing of the release, allowing viewers to take a moment to let it all soak in after it’s all said and done.

Review – Liberty: Deception Volume #1

Creator, Producer, Writer: Travis Vengroff
Co-Creator, Storyboards: Adam Cartwright
Sketches and Ink: Raymund Bermudez & Art Shaft Team
Colors: Joana LaFuente
Letters: Eduardo Camacho
Cover Art: Dave Dorman, Eirich Olson

A Terraformed world gone mad, sounds like another day in the dark voids of sci-fi storytelling… or is it? Liberty: Deception drops readers into the shoes of Tertulius Justus, a figure with a uniquely manufactured past that lives in the hearts of the citizens of Atrius.

While Justus doesn’t get a common introduction, his life and reputation are anything but that. Combat Medic and Senior Investigator for the Bureau, Justus takes on the worst of the bunch that want to harm Atrius. Unfortunately, his legend is built on a government propaganda machine that seeks to create new heroes on the front lines that aren’t actually on the front lines at all. Kind of complex but so is Liberty.

Volume 1 throws readers into the depths of Atrius, well within their prison system we find the darkest of offenders or at least it once seemed that way. The story fills with confusion and some levels of deception, soon the story starts to come together through a series of flashbacks to quickly build depth to the story and get a better understanding of Justus and his place in the world. Given the reach of the story there are few if any slow moments through the first issue, pacing keeps readers guessing what comes next and where Justus is going with such a troubled situation.

The issues that follow in the volume continue with character introductions, back story and development so the cast doesn’t feel like a handful of fodder thrown in for cheap drama. Consideration flows through every page to highlight the struggle, the character flaws in their core and physically while bringing together a perfect storm as Justus comes into his own. Readers also learn how those overseeing Atrius have painted a twisted narrative and hold their own vanity in such high regard they’d sacrifice anything to retain it. Enemies of the empire are painted in mutant form, alien from anything they’d know as a complete misrepresentation, the mass manipulation of the media runs so strong the citizens blindly trust anything that comes to their lap.

Unfortunately, there’s a large cliffhanger with Volume 1, while tons of work has gone into the project and talent came from around the world to make it happen, there’s a desire for more and one has to worry when the next bit will come. The story has supplements running in other mediums but with the artistic quality and stylization directing the narrative, it’s hard to just swap mediums and take in the same energy.

One of the biggest things to take away from Liberty: Deception is how refined the read is and how familiar or comfortable it feels even though it’s a completely different piece from what’s come before it. The action, dialogue, and sequences are all well executed and illustrated to tell just the right tension, emotion and direct the narrative along. Given the size of the group behind the project and the distance between everyone, the result shows a remarkable level of consistency throughout. The Liberty: Deception team does note the challenges they had to face but it really did create a much stronger product once it was all said and done. For those looking to explore beyond the everyday book, Liberty: Deception presents an interesting cyberpunk, dystopian future full of twists, turns and of course, deception.

Links:
Kickstarter | Amazon

Release Date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

 

Extended Credits

Continuity, Conway Flashback, Map, ABI Advert: Casey Bailey
Character Design: Eirich Olson
Twitch Flashback: Colin Lorimer
Aemos Flashback: Danielle Otrakji
Reeve Flashback: Deon De Lange
Tales from the Tower Advert: George Kavallines
Atrian Adverts: Arianna Westerfield
Citizen Guide Cover: Sean Thornton
Reeve Endures Poster: Michael Lee-Graham
Motion Comic Production: Brian Stabile & Astro Crow
Soundtrack Composer & Producer: Steven Melin
Concept Design, Creative Consultant: Laurie Thomas
Symbol Design, Chapter Border Design: Matthew Bailey
Digital Renderings, Writer for the Liberty Podcast: Kaitlin Statz
Matte Painting: Dylan Peirpont
Liberty: Deception Logo Design: Stacey Baldini

Review – SuperMansion S2 “The League of Cheesedom”

In the ongoing battle to redeem the league in the eyes of the public we see Rex and Portia take some drastic moves to appeal to a wider audience and monetize their celebrity status. But what would you expect from the endless spending from The League of Freedom when you combine it with a media tycoon like Portia? Sadly the events that follow take a sharp dive in classic SuperMansion form, but at least there are some silver linings.

The League of Cheesedom brings about a long arc for the episode using Rex and Portia, what it also does is introduce an origins story for Jewbot. While there have been many teasers about their origin and mechanics there was never anything terribly in-depth until now. From the start it seems the curious and pacifist minded Jewbot always held a reputation as being an anomaly, as our bot learns of their unwanted origins they take an emo turn for the episode until they stumble across some unique relatives.

The episode is part of a string of missteps and failures for The League of Freedom in establishing new trust and confidence with the public. They’re so thirsty for a break they’re often diving head first into anything they can get and having Portia on their side means everything gets thrown against the wall until it sticks. While that section was entertaining in itself, seeing Jewbot turn emo and struggle with a Five Nights at Freddy’s crew that plays Nine Inch Nails inspired tracks and wants nothing but death was pretty rewarding.

As a whole The League of Cheesedom was a consistent episode for season 2 that delivered on all fronts without jumping too far off the scales. Having Jewbot get some extra closure was a nice moment that also carried a few nice twists and put a nice bow on his messed up life story.

Story:★★★★½ 
Animation:★★★★½ 
Acting:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Trekker: Rites of Passage

  • Story: Ron Randall
  • Art: Ron Randall
  • Colors: Ron Randall
  • Lettering: Ron Randall
  • Cover Art: Ron Randall with Jeremy Colwell
  • Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Intergalactic politics are never easy, getting caught in the black-ops dirty deeds of a big political storm is even more problematic. Trekker takes readers into the shoes of Mercy St. Clair, a Trekker / Head Hunter that doesn’t mind tangling with the worst the galaxy has to offer. The TPB edition is a full collection that covers a rough dance with the larger world that Mercy has put aside, seeking a simpler isolated lifestyle it’s not long before everything breaks down and her past emerges again.

Trekker spins off into secret government military operations, overthrows of outside territories and a rough ride through space with intense action and gun battles.

Ron Randall creates a complex web of relationships through the pages of Trekker, following Mercy through the pages there’s a huge struggle within as she fights constantly to shut the world and everyone in it out of her life. Creating a character that isn’t ice-cold but carries that on their shoulders because it’s what they know of the world is an interesting read, there’s sympathy and encouragement even while knowing it could all lead to dreadfully bad situations.

The art syncs up perfectly with the scenes, conveying careful energy and gesture to sell just the right read. From Mercy and her partner having some drinks (a few too many actually) to her expressions fighting predators in the wild with everything on the line. When you’re writing and illustrating that’s certainly a unique perk to have. Ron Randall creates momentum in the panels and emotion that helps keep characters alive and readers engaged.

Few moments ever manage to fall out of the constant friction in the story. The characters are flung from one bad scenario to the next all while holding on for dear life, Randall makes sure it’s not an easy ride and even in the most secure of moments, the floor falls right out from underneath Mercy and the reader. It’s unique in the mixture of cultures and a sci-fi manifest destiny gone wrong. Readers see the good and the bad not just in the shadowy government actions but in the people and their inherent desire for more.

Trekker is an interesting read, the art lands on point with carefully crafted pages that blend with the words on each page and give an expanded  understanding of the characters and world. For those looking to mix up their sci-fi experiences Trekker delivers, the character development is a very strong suit for the book and Ron Randall keeps a firm grasp on everything he wants readers privy to during the ride which makes it all the more interesting.

Preview: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★½