Comic

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Review – Criminal Macabre: Final Night 1 of 4

Story: Steve Niles
Art: Christopher Mitten
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Justin Erickson
Published By: Dark Horse

Cal McDonald in his usual cantankerous way has a feeling that something bad is about to go down, he just doesn’t know what and he is isn’t sure if he cares. As he drowns his sorrows, a cop, Alice Blood, approaches him and asks for his help. Cal, always eager to help, get more details. Barrow, Alaska (home of 30 Days of Night) has been attacked and Alice wants Cal on the case. There has been more than the usual number of attacks (massacres) and Alice believes they stem from one vampire in particular. Meanwhile, Mo’lock and the other ghouls are facing a threat of their own and are on a mission to find the perpetrator. They soon learn that the ghoul attack is very connected to Cal’s new case and something needs to be done…quickly.

Criminal Macabre: Final Night is the first issue in a four-part series crossing over Steve Niles’ other masterpiece, 30 Days of Night. This issue sets up the story nicely and ends with all hell breaking loose. Cal is such an awesome character and for all intents and purposes should be completely unlikable but Niles manages to make him and his toxic personality a great anti-hero that you really root for! Christopher Mitten’s art is amazing. It’s dark and unique and really brings the story to life. Criminal Macabre has so many great elements that it becomes difficult to single any one thing out. I am ridiculously excited about this crossover and can’t wait for the next issue!

Release Date: December 12th, 2012

Links: Preview | Order (Digital) | Order (Print)

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
Tim Seeley Cover

Review – Ex Sanguine #3 – A Romance between a Vampire and a Serial Killer

Script by: Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley
Art by: Tim Seeley
Colors by: Carlos Badilla
Letters by: CRANK!
Cover by: Tim Seeley with Dave Stewart
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Ashley and Saul have a unique relationship, one is a supernatural immortal that thrives on blood of the corrupt of the city and Ashley is a crazed murderer with mother and father issues. While that sounds like a strange pop culture comedy duo, it very much isn’t. Ashley since her introduction has been a thorn to Saul going so far as to frame him for actions he didn’t make in an attempt to validate herself and her legacy pursuit.

Issue 3 of Ex Sanguine continues the struggle and brings in some new blood to the picture, Saul going about his own life now while Ashley continues her streak of mayhem. The difference is that other dark figures have stepped in given the news and have taken interest in what they see as a defenseless city. It’s up to Saul to keep the borders protected and his girl of mayhem in check before something bad happens. Given the streak of the story so far, that sounds like an easy task but it really isn’t as Ashley prefers to only answer to herself.

The city is already in panic as news of her kills spread like wildfire in the paper, the last thing this situation needs is a social nuke drawing in more attention and undesirables to the town. The issue is very much about Ashley’s back story which helps shed some light on what happened to make her this messed up. Fans of the series should give it a read and new readers might want to take a look at the Dark Horse preview pages for a taste of Ex Sanguine.

Release Date: December 12th, 2012

Links: Preview | Order (Print)

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
Juan Cavia Cover

Review – The Untold Tales of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy One-Shot

Story: Filipe Melo
Art: Juan Cavia
Colors: Santiago Villa
Translation: Raylene Lowe
Letters: Pedro Smedo
Adaption: João Pombeiro and Martin Tejada
Published By: Dark Horse

The stories from Dark Horse Presents are all collected here in one handy-dandy one-shot. The story begins with an introduction to the characters. First up, Pazuul, a 6,000 year old smoking, mute demon, who resembles a cute little girl, next is Eurico a.k.a. Pizza Boy, an intern and Dog’s whipping boy and finally Dog, a humble man who calmly tells us he saved the world…twice. Into the story we go. Flashback to 1898 where we get the origin story of Dog himself, which is a tragic tale of death, misfortune and werewolves! In a story that takes place in a brutal disgusting Nazi concentration camp that has been set up for misfits and “monsters”, the story manages to stay both riveting and goofy, which is not an easy feat with this kind of material. The issue is full of Dog recalling stories from his past which are all awesome and far beyond entertaining!

I had never heard of Dog Mendonça before but I after reading this issue I am a fan. The stories are very sad at times with Dog and Pizza Boy breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the reader at times. Their promotions of a fictional product and “selling” panels within the comic to make money added a much needed burst of levity. The dialog is excellent, it manages to hit an array of emotions sometimes running the gammit on a single page. Juan Cavias’ art is out of this world, Pazuul’s looks of boredom, irritation and lack of interest are captured expertly. I can not wait to search out more of this series and I suggest you do the same!

Release Date: October 24th, 2012

Links: Preview | Order (Digital) | Order (Print)

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
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Dark Horse Presents: Conan The Barbarian – Motion Comic

Geek And Sundry have just launched the Conan the Barbarian: Queen of the Black Coast motion comic. Watch Brian Wood’s take of Robert E. Howard’s fan-favorite “Queen of the Black Coast”. As Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling.

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Review – Ex Sanguine: The Hollow Man #1

Script by: Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley
Art by: Tim Seeley
Colors by: Carlos Badilla
Letters by: Joshua Scott Emmons
Cover by: Tim Seeley with Dave Stewart
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Saul Adams is a man who has a long history on this world, what kind of history is a bit of a mystery but it’s there and boiling to the surface in a turn of events to a world which he thought he had pinned for constants and reliability. Unfortunately a new darkness is making his town their new home and his familiars their prey as well. We only get a glimpse at this breach but it’s beyond anything this city and the feds have seen or known and it’s only the beginning.

Seeley and Emmons dive into crime drama, cults and the supernatural and deliver it in a single serving that drives up questions and shock as the story unravels. Saul is a man lost in his own world, not sure what year it is or even who he is but that after eternities have come and gone that he’s still here and getting by. This story may start off with an obvious twist, but it takes all the expectations and hurls them into the garbage bin in an instant. Saul is about to get some company in his life and it’s going to get ugly for everyone in this story, you don’t rock the boat of an immortal with arrogance and attitude and just get away with it.

Tim Seeley delivers excellent style and emotion to the pages of Ex Sanguine, the expressions, gestures and lapses are superb, it’s always rewarding to see artists that take the time to think out facial actions and even eye gestures before just laying it out there. When the mental flashes hit, the examinations and even Saul’s frustrations strike, they’re all executed with that extra bit of thought. My only dispute is that Seeley almost highlights our unexpected other supernatural force because the shift in style that happens. You can’t just deliver a massive change in color and detail and expect it to slide under the radar.

Other than that small issue, Ex Sanguine is something I’d love to see more of and I can’t wait until issue 2 arrives. It’s well restricted and doesn’t move to jump the shark with transformations and spells and random campy features, it’s cold and real and it captures your attention even though the story itself begins so vaguely. Issue 1 delivers many carefully selected mechanics and uses them at just the right time. Personally it’s a bit sad to see Saul suffering after such a long time as an immortal but it’s understandable that his brain would be overflowing with history.

Saul’s next battle kicks off in issue 2 and he’ll be attacking 2 fronts at once, be sure to read up on this story before just jumping ahead and hoping for the best, you’ll only rob yourself of a great story by doing so.

Release Date: October 17, 2012

Links: Preview | Pre-Order

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 
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Review – Uncanny X-Men #18 (AVX)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Colors: Jason Keith & Morry Hollowell
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Ron Garney & Matt Milla
Published by: Marvel Comics

Heads up, if you haven’t read AVX #11 this is going to be a massive spoiler situation. That said, I warned you guys.

Kate Kiloare of Superhuman P.R. fame stands alone, everything shattered, broken and wrecked. Standing at the highest point of the escalation and doing damage control to the human population to explain the insane situations revolving around the Earth and Utopia she now looks at shattered remains. This really helps setup where this has all been going, promise of a new life, a new world, peace and prosperity and yet all that’s really here is war and hell and a massive floating island that looks majestic.

You can’t spin a positive twist on the Phoenix losing its last restraints and going supernova. Try as one might this is heavy. We see final encounters between the Phoenix Duo and key mutants but given the control imbalance there’s going to be a lot of resistance no matter who talks to them. We also see some fallout with Colossus and Magik, unfortunately for Colossus his desire to protect and save Magik has bitten him in the rear. This whole arc with Cyttorak explodes in his face and she reveals her being condemned in the past was likely one of those moves that shouldn’t have been turned over. Unfortunately with no one around and all eyes on the Phoenix she’s unchecked for now.

The madness continues back to AVX #11 influenced panels and we have a look inside the elegance of chaos, the two Phoenix force combatants locked in their own minds as they slug it out and blast their way through a united front. The tension growing, the frustrations developing and then… it comes.

For those hoping to see a really solid side issue to compliment the ongoing AVX story, Uncanny X-Men 18 is a solid bet. It details the attempts for a resolution, the inner thinking before the final tide changes and how Colossus just got screwed out of his mind. Hat’s off to Gillen and Garney for that intense moment, it was probably one of the biggest punches in the issue.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★½☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Batman #0 (New 52)

Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capullo
Inks: Jonathan Galpon
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Greg Capullo & FCO Plascencia
Variant Cover: Andy Clarke & FCO Plascencia
Published by: DC Comics

Leaping back in time from issue #12 we have issue #0 of Batman. Will the origins of Bruce be told? Will we relive his past training and frustrations? No. Not really, this is a comic book after all and not a massive graphic novel where they have that kind of page allowance. We see a young Bruce return to the streets where his life was changed forever.

Instead of a dark emotional tale of flashbacks we get something different, a young rich man in the slums working to infiltrate and break down the infestation that haunts it. He is Bruce Wayne and he’s not exactly prepared for the utter mess he’s about to unleash, he gets shot at, punched around chased and he fumbles  like a newbie. But the important part is, he’s the newbie the city needs and he has the determination and massive fists of cash to make this work.

Issue 0 is a bit embarrassing for Bruce but it’s a genuine tale and honestly it helps place some history in this new beginning for Batman. We see classic figures like Gordon and we see the roots of the Bat family start to plant themselves throughout Gotham without feeling like a forced story of the group. He’s daring and eager and attempting to push himself to be as above the cut as possible so no one gets the drop on him, he’s not exactly Batman yet but he’s sure working to get there fast.

For those who thought 12 was too much of a deviation, 0 makes up for that greatly and it doesn’t just leap back into the Owl’s to put in quick story. It’s a human look at a man who wants to change things and will stop at nothing to do it.

Release date: September 12, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
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Review – Orchid #9

Script: Tom Morello
Art: Scott Hepburn
Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Massimo Carnevale
Published By: Dark Horse

Orchid, who has found strength through herself and strength through General China’s mask has rallied the poor and downtrodden to form an angry, badass army who refuses to sit idly by and allow evil dictator Tomo Wolfe to continue his calculated and inhumane exploitation of them. As the battle of all battles is about to take place, Wolfe is in search of Barrabas, who unbeknownst to Wolfe, witnessed the death of an animal by Wolfe’s command. This was the one and only stipulation that Barrabas had when he agreed to work by Wolfe’s side and I can’t wait for the fallout from Wolfe’s misstep. Meanwhile, Orchid and her (ever-growing) band of misfits get the jump on the first wave of Wolfe’s genocide army proving that a surprise attack was nothing the mindless minions were ready for. An extra treat in this issue comes in the form of the mask’s back story. We learn how it came to be, why it’s so powerful and why only certain people can wear it without being torn apart! Will Orchid and her crew make it to Wolfe and unleash justice upon him or will the bridge people be obliterated before they are able to do anything?

Wow! The story of the mask, freedom fighters, a bunch of wrongs being righted, the poor uniting and fighting back, what doesn’t Orchid have? This issue does a great job building up the tension of the upcoming war and rousing anticipation for the little guy. We also get to see a bunch of the mutated animals drawn with perfection by Scott Hepburn. The awesome feeling of unification and hope this issue arouses is astounding. Yet again, Tom Morello’s writing is on point and just simply amazing. Like every other issue in this series, this one is perfection. It is a great addition to the continuing story and I am SO excited to see what happens next!

Release Date: September 12th, 2012

Links: Order | Preview

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★★ 
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Review – Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 #13 Guarded: Part 3

Script: Andrew Chambliss
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Inks: Nathan Massengill
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Phil Noto
Alternate Cover: Georges Jeanty with Dexter Vines and Michelle Madsen
Created By: Joss Whedon
Published By: Dark Horse

Buffy’s in a standoff with the demon and one time ally Koh who, unbeknownst to Buffy, has turned on her and is in cahoots with Wolfram and Hart. Koh has agreed to kill Theo, creator of TinCan, the social networking site of demons everywhere as long as he is given the information on who imprisoned him a long, long time ago. Buffy, who is doing her best to reason with Koh is having no luck and finds herself in a very tense situation. Theo tells Buffy that she must leave him and destroy TinCan instead of saving him which she reluctantly does. On her new mission, Buffy finds Kennedy who has a big bump on her head courtesy of Koh’s over-exuberance. Some not too friendly words are exchanged between the two women (as well as some punches) before they devise a plan to save Theo. Will they save Theo’s life and will TinCan finally be destroyed stopping Wolfram and Hart’s evil plans (at least for now)? Most importantly, has Buffy found her new calling and will she leave saving the world in the past for the prospect of some fat paychecks?

This issue is good but unfortunately I don’t care for a lot of the main characters. Theo and Kennedy are not particularly likeable or entertaining and Koh has potential but never seems to get there. Buffy needs to find herself quick because this little girl lost act is going on too long (in all fairness she may have figured it out in this issue). Without Buffy’s supporting cast something just feels like it’s missing. There hasn’t even been a mention of Xander or Dawn. I know Spike’s off finding himself, Willow’s trying to restore magic with Angel and his crew but Buffy seems to have no one. She’s pretty much alone and it’s kind of sad. The writing and art are both very good but I think Buffy’s voice has gotten a little lost along the way. I’m not ready to give up yet but I think the comic needs a little tweaking here and there to get back on course.

Release Date: September 12th, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview

Story:★★★☆☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★☆☆ 
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Review – Gambit #2

Writer: James Asmus
Pencils: Clay Mann
Inks: Seth Mann
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by: Mann & Rosenberg
Published by: Marvel Comics

Gambit has stirred a hornets nest, the nest belonging to the money man Borya Cich who has his hands in numerous super villain attacks and plots. Using his current job at the Jean Grey School to sneak into the gala and play around in the riches and depot hidden away he quickly finds himself knee-deep in the heat. Thanks to a quick save from someone enamored with his charm he’s able to break away but the he stays on him. Did I mention he also managed to activate an ancient relic that buried itself in him? Yeah he managed to do that as well.

Gambit #2 “Can’t shake you loose” continues right from the path, he’s trying to figure out what this thing is and how to get rid of it and any option feels like a good start to him. Unfortunately, all roads really do lead to Cich so his future is going get an extra dash of difficulty trying to track down the origins and how to get rid of it before it gets rid of him. The issue is filled with snooping and thievery and Remy running into a familiar face in one of the most inconvenient times possible. Sounds like a wonderful trek right?

Gambit brings his passion for pretty things, messing with the bad guys and swooning the women to the table. It’s entertaining and action packed while retaining elements we’re used to seeing in current X-Men franchises right now. For X-Men fans hoping to see Gambit knee-deep in only trouble he can find, the series is gearing up to deliver on that expectation. Hang in for a few more issues and I think we’ll see some intense moments for our Cajun.

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

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