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 “I Didn’t Even Have to Use My J.K.”

Old grudges never die as Dr Devizo and the Injustice Club emerge to find a new base of operations. While they’ve taken a back seat since their virtual assault they’ve clearly been trying to get their act together. We see the stress of living underground and in the streets taking a toll on their general behavior as they all carry a little more angst along with them.

The League of Freedom in the meanwhile has a new gimmick to develop better social relations and a shift in their ranks as Robobot returns to their roots after an awkward reunion with its creator and their love for sci-fi religious pursuits. Sometimes it’s just better to cut out of a bad scenario and Robobot adapted to that in a hurry thankfully.

Rex’s group faces a new challenge as fame enters the picture, Saturn develops a deep sense of jealousy, Ranger can’t stand or trust actors, Rex has no interest in playing nanny and tour guide to a shadow and Portia just doesn’t care, she wants to legitimize the group and put all this damage behind the group so she can start putting some success on the board.

The Injustice Club faces challenges as the group fights over beds, broken furniture and general space. It’s a revolution within the group and democracy starts to emerge as Lex moves to take control of the group and become the latest leader to the gang. The only thing is, Devizo has been doing this for a long time and he knows a few things about running a gang of restless criminals so he’s not just going to fade away so easily.

As a whole “I Didn’t Even Have to Use My J.K.” continues a weird trend of Rex playing a secondary role in Season 2, each episode has had some random absent-minded move or decision and show of weakness that bites him and leaves Portia or the rest of the team to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately in this case it really opens up a very damaging future for the team and casts doubt on if Rex really can keep this team together when he can’t even keep his own house in order.

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

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 

Review – SuperMansion S2 “School Me Once”

With Dr Devizo out of the picture for now and Rex’s secrets secured it’s on to new business for The League of Freedom. School Me Once drops everyone into a flashback of Rex and his younger years working with Zenith The Earth Mother. Flash forward to present day and Portia / Zenith is ripping him a new one.

Season 2 really has no love for Rex and the rest of the members are feeling the sting of the public pressure in School Me Once. We see tales of manipulation, mythical creatures, tales of yesteryear and Jewbot studying the stereotypical college experience. The cast moves to spring back from their downward spirals including Cooch who breaks off from her depression over Brad and discovers a new role to explore.

Even with such a splintered storyline the SuperMansion team allocates enough time for almost everyone to navigate their adventure in the episode. Saturn and Jewbot seem to take a hit on their story as suddenly things go from Thousand Island to flag pole butt in a hurry. Ranger falls into the like minds of his era with the college conservatives and mostly re-lives his youth through the episode.

 

The animation team does a solid job with modeling and gestures but they do manage to shine well with the team action sequence. The camera sweep along with the action create a sequence that goes beyond the norm for the show and it’s a rewarding experience as it’s not static while it goes on.

School Me Once is obviously an important step in the storyline but the Saturn section feels forced, having Jewbot wanting to understand and experience a frat makes sense because of his nature but the rest doesn’t hold well. It’s a short segment though and the rest of the episode holds the experience up to introduce a new key character in Portia /  Zenith.

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

Review – Dragon Age Adult Coloring Book

Artist: Pablo Churin, Juan Frigeri, Gabriel Guzman, Fernando Melek, Facundo Percio
Writer: Bioware
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Fans of Dragon Age looking to another way to pass the time get a treat this month. Rolling in at 96 pages the book carries quotes and images from characters throughout the Dragon Age Universe including Alistar, Morrigan, Varric and more. The artists on the book worked to deliver iconic images from the trilogy in detailed black and white pages.

Observing the 45 pages of art the pages range in difficulty for details, some approach landscape and worlds with a generous freedom for those coloring while others are incredibly detailed down to some of the finest points with contour lines to navigate every fold of clothing or tapestry. While at first glance it’s easy to appreciate heavy detail, it does take a finer touch to fill in those areas as they carry such tight-knit accents.

For fans with an itch to color it’s worth checking out, for those just interested in the art and owning pieces of the Dragon Age universe though, it’s a unique entry that’s pleasant to view and read quotes through and just own as part of a collection, the artists brought drama and power to their work placed into the book.

Currently I’m still navigating my action page with Leliana, being able to get the colors and shading right easily occupy hours at a time and it’s an image at the very start of the book. For those seeking a detailed authentic experience I’d suggest investing in a wider range of pencils, markers or if you’re going digital, a tablet to make sure you get the depth you’re looking for.

Release date: February 8, 2017
Preview: Dark Horse Comics

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #4

  • Script: Christos Gage
  • Pencils: Georges Jeanty
  • Ink: Dexter Vines
  • Colorist: Dan Jackson
  • Cover Artist: Steve Morris
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

Mystical creatures, the destruction of San Francisco and government internment camps. It’s Buffy Season 11 and it’s only getting messier as Buffy, Spike and Willow touch down in the federal camps for otherworldly powered and born inhabitants. After having a showdown with past slayers now turned government contractors the team decided to stop coming to clash with the law and see what they could do within the system. Tired of running and tearing apart the lives of everyone involved we saw Buffy take a stand to give Dawn and Xander a shot at their life as they took care of the reborn Giles.

Issue 4 “Desperate Times” takes readers under the veil of the safe zone with Buffy as she makes her rounds and learns the landscape. With a tiny camp stuffed to the brim with monsters what could go wrong? We learn about the strain showing in Spike and Buffy as they adapt to this new world and see how confinement and neglect can really turn problems up to 11.

Christos Gage tells a story of hardship and struggle for the demons and monsters in the safe zone, some problems never go away even if they’re under “guard” until the situation improves. Tidbits of Willow, Dawn and others come about and give light to the growing storyline. It’s bleak and tensions are only getting worse for Buffy and her friends, something has to give if they’re going to make it through this.

The shift to Georges Jeanty happens in this issue, with Rebekah Isaacs leading the style out of the gate the shift was easy to catch as the two artists approach gestures, character design and their worlds with their own sense of flair. The change to Jeanty makes sense as the story takes a darker turn into what inhabitants of the safe zone face. Hopefully Dark Horse is able to continue shifting between the duo through the series as they both bring so much to the books.

That said, unfortunately Buffy and the crew have their work cut out for them, Desperate Times is a fitting title for the issue given the challenges ahead in this story arc.

Release date: February 15, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
Preview: Dark Horse Comics

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

Review – Angel Season 11 #2 – Out of The Past Part 2

  • Script: Corinna Bechko
  • Artist: Geraldo Borges
  • Colorist: Michelle Madsen
  • Cover Artist: Scott Fischer
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

Season 11 of Angel kicked off with a mess, hard disturbing flashbacks / visions, inter-dimensional infestations and the fragile balance of working with Fred / Illyria created a whirlwind of trouble in just a few pages. Angel looks to face his past as Angelus and find out where the visions are directing him, but only if things play out well with Illyria as she’s the resident time traveler.

Issue 2 drops the duo out of the vortex and back…. way back into the past. The duo (trio) must face an entirely new set of challenges including finding some shade for our resident vampire. Goals get a bit mixed and a flowing theme of past mistakes fills the story, Angel isn’t the only one lugging around some heavy baggage from their past and since he’s not the one wielding the power of time and space the journey will get a bit longer with a new detour.

The upshot for fans and new readers is the continued character development of the new group, Angel and Faith had a good run which developed their characters and now we’ll see this dynamic with Fred and Illyria come around with Angel and see how much they can get solved while working together. Given how guarded Illyria is about her past and just her presence in general there’s no doubt some good stories are awaiting readers as the group battles to tackle her past in this journey too.

Corinna Bechko has some relatively fast pacing even if unintentional for the book, with the challenges brought about by issue 2 the story passes in the blink of an eye. Part of that pacing comes by Geraldo Borges art, panel designs and direction for the read, Michelle Madsen continues to play with the temperatures to create interesting focal points and set the general mood of a given scene.

Angel Season 11 #2 continues a wild spiral of action and dark secrets and it hasn’t even touched on the original investigation yet. For fans of the series it’s worth the read as the group digs in deeper for the road ahead.

Release date: February 15, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
Preview: Dark Horse Comics

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

Review – Angel Catbird Vol. 2: To Castle Catula

  • Story: Margaret Atwood
  • Illustrations: Johnnie Christmas
  • Colorist: Tamara Bonvillain
  • Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
  • Editor: Da Niel Chabon
  • Published by: Dark Horse Comics

When worlds collide… well you get something like Angel Catbird. Margaret Atwood is at it in the latest volume of Angel Catbird with another dose of chimera antics as the group try to seek refuge in Castle Catula.

Volume 2 brings readers into the forests as they seek shelter from the crazed Professor Muroid and his rat armies hunting them seeking only their destruction. It’s a wild situation to say the least and when a half-cat, half-bat vampire are in your squad it really puts the pressure on to get to safety before the sun rises and starts cooking away.

With the group thinning to find backup they face new troubles as the landscape eats away at their momentum and challenges emerge. New pacts begin, romances start to flourish and super rats of all sorts start to make trouble as they desperately seek sanctuary. A.C. finds himself in a triangle that even he can’t seem to navigate out of and the stability of it might be enough to create a turning point for the group.

The book brings in backstories to help pass the pages and give depth to the character ensemble, we get interesting twists and origin tales while Muroid goes through various levels of insanity trying to exterminate them while dabbling in fantasies of his victory life. As they close in on sanctuary the stakes get higher and the raw instincts of the team are tested, their biggest foe yet steps onto the stage and everything gets complicated in a hurry for cats and allies alike.

Angel Catbird Volume 2 has a general campy tone, it pokes fun at itself and tries to carry a lighter read. The characters face waves of situations and leap to action, swinging claws and some one liners. The volume also carries footnotes for facts on cats, birds, rats and other animals and where to read more, many of the items do manage to tie in so it’s not a total detour from the storyline.

With a bit of a crazy storyline it seems Johnnie Christmas and Tamara Bonvillain had their work cut out for them. With Castle Catula, cat traps, new hybrids and new experimental teams of military grade rats it certainly tested the imagination but the duo were able to meet the call and deliver some fun artwork that holds a strong level of consistency, a very controlled color palette and some very well placed facial and body expressions.

For fans of Volume 1, there’s much more to explore in the latest installment, for those on the fence, check out the preview pages and get a feel for the Angel Catbird world to see if matches up in taste. It’s certainly an interesting pursuit by Atwood with this series but it feels like Volume 2 is coming into a better pacing and development.

Release date: February 14, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
P
review Pages: Dark Horse Comics

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

Review – Empowered and the Soldier of Love #1

  • Story: Adam Warren
  • Artist: Karla Diaz
  • Cover Artist: Karla Diaz
  • Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
  • Editor: Chris Warner
  • Publisher: Mike Richardson

Adam Warren brings Empowered back to fans. The latest series brings some complications to Cape City and it’s heroes. When a new wave of love and hook-ups hit the scene, Cape City starts to spiral into turmoil. It’s up to Empowered and Ninjette to help figure out the messes and what exactly is going on.

The issue goes through a swing of internal hero drama, humor and important details about what’s causing the sudden influx of heroes losing all inhibition and hooking up across the city. There’s a slew of crazy moments and fan service but Warren holds it together well throughout the issue as we discover aspects of the Soldado Del Amor and her experience and opinions with Cape City. There’s a darker force at work in this sudden and mysterious season of love and everyone is too caught up in a wave of hormones to even care to know why.

Karla Diaz captures the spirit of the story with strong character art, the gestures, expressions and atmosphere help compliment the tale and bring another layer of depth to the story. The personality that Ninjette and Empowered bring to the pages mimic reader response very well and carry a consistent energy to the work. Characters sing with emotion through their expressions, it’s easy to tell the swings from discomfort to bliss as things roll on.

With the vivid colors, excellent art balance and comedic timing the issue is a great way to kick off the mini-series and bring new fans into the Empowered universe. It’s easy to look forward to what Adam Warren brings next issue and the wave of art that Karla Diaz graces readers with.

Release date: February 08, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW

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