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 – 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 – King Tiger #1

22470Script: Randy Stradley
Artist: Douglas Wheatley
Colors: Rain Beredo
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Douglas Wheatley and Rain Beredo
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

King Tiger is on the scene, a mystic warrior able to combine combat and sorcery to take on supernatural foes and worlds. Or at least that’s the general idea, our first issue takes us to Nevada with a cult on the move and lingering tales of false hope sedating our true instincts flow as Milo and Tiger prepare for their next challenge.

While some have super mysterious lairs and otherworldly escapes, Tiger calls Rikki’s place his home base. Her large mansion / villa in Nevada plays host to pools, cars and incredible space. It pays to run around as a supernatural warrior these days, Rikki is a laid back, independent and handy to solve her own troubles while also tackling the needs of Tiger and she has the cashflow to handle anything else that comes up. We learn little bits about Milo including his experience on the streets and that he’s frankly seen some stuff in his time so he feels reliable. The story on Tiger isn’t so easy to come across, he prefers to hide his origins and details of his powers, after coming to America he spent a bit of his time gaming casinos and using his powers in a less noble fashion until facing a lynch mob from the casino staff.

King Tiger has a refined delivery, the pacing highlights multiple timelines and situations while able to keep a parallel storyline. Tiger and his friends operating in their latest situation while evil deeds run deep within the desert and brew for them. Characters come with their own quirks and the art delivery helps match up the script just right, the way we experience characters like Milo and Tiger, seeing their expressions and gestures after this storm that precluded the issue. It’s a unique blend of story and illustration as many pages carry dialogue along instead of landscapes or action and speedy moments.

Douglas Wheatley goes to work on illustrating the world of King Tiger, the mansion, the portals to other worlds and times and all the perks that come for Tiger when living with Rikki. Rain Beredo works to help complement this with careful choices in ambience, the world does not simply glow, it uses focal points throughout the pages to help direct the reader from their eyes just wandering. In simple daily life scenes and especially in action we see a careful hand guiding the experience along by pencil and brush.

Overall, King Tiger #1 delivers on a promising story arc for readers to enjoy, certainly there’s a mix of mysticism, supernatural and just plain messed up scenarios that should capture readers of the genre.

Links: Preview | Pre-Order
Release Date: August 12, 2015

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

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 

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:★★★★☆ 

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 

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.

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 

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:★★★★☆ 

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:★★★★☆