Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Leaders of the Free World #1

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Writer: Corey Pruitt

Penciler: Elijah Isaiah Johnson

Colorer: Ross Hughes

Letterer: Toben Racicot


Those folks that have read a few of my reviews know that I typically stick to the Big Two of DC and Marvel. It’s just something that I’ve always known. Recently, thanks to my friends here at the Legion, I’ve been branching out and reading more comics from companies such as Image, Doom, Dark Horse, and many indie books. So when I saw that Corey “TASK” Pruitt was putting out his own book, I knew that I had to get a copy and give it a review. I enjoy interacting with TASK on Twitter and talking smack about many various topics. We all know that he doesn’t read comics, but he does write them! 

The Leaders of the Free World issue one. Open the page and we are greeted with our heroes having already formed their team. But how did we get to this moment? Well, that’s what this first issue is for! I’m not going to give away too much of the story because I really want readers to experience everything for themselves. However, in this first issue, we get to meet a few members of the Leaders. Chief among them is Surreal, a teenager who gets thrown into this situation where he has to use his powers for the good of the populace instead of worrying about his homework. Surreal behaves just like a teenager from our society would if they had powers, complete with an inner soundtrack monologue. Also introduced are four other members of the team: diffident Brotha Nature, the multi-tasking technokinetic Tech-No, powerhouse party-girl Moonshine, and good boy Doohickey. Doohickey is hands-down my favorite character and he needs his own series immediately. How can you go wrong with a dog that can create all sorts of weaponry? 

I am in love with this artwork. It absolutely fits with the story that is being told. The style is just really fun to look at. There is a mix of character simplicity and background detail that just blends so well together. To seamlessly move from creating people to vast alien armadas to incredible backgrounds takes a lot of talent. Additionally, Johnson’s mastery of facial expressions is pretty exceptional. I especially love the Black kid’s face on page 1. That face just kills me every time I look at it! Don’t overlook Ross Hughes’ work on the colors. They really pop off the page and complement Johnson’s work. Lastly, I think the panel layout is very apropos. The reader’s eyes can glide over the pages and not have to worry about the reading order. 

All in all, I’m ready for issue 2. I’m excited to see how the story continues. I have several questions though. Where are the other three members? What is the threat they are facing? How will the team form? Have we seen the last of Florida Man? This issue was a great jumping point for a brand new world. It brought me a story that is unique and enticing and paired it with some great art. I really feel that this is an Image book in the making. Hell, it’s got better art than a lot of the indie books that I see out there. 

Section Zero #1

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Writer: Karl Kesel

Art: Tom Grummett

Colors by: Ben Dimagmaliw

Letters by: Richard Starkings

Release Date: April 3rd, 2019

Section Zero #1 continues my journey into books that are not from the Big 2 of Marvel and DC. I have to say, I chose VERY WELL this week. This book was initially released under Gorilla Comics, which was an imprint of Image, back in 2000. Creators Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett worked tirelessly for 18 years to bring it back…and that they did! I was a fan of their work during their Superboy days in the 90s and that continues with Section Zero. That continues to be the case with Section Zero and I hope it sticks around for a bit. 
Section Zero is a 1950s B-movie come to life and spliced with a little bit of Planetary and the X-Files. Imagine encountering Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or an alien ship. Who do you call? Section Zero! A secret section of the United Nations’ Charter, Section Zero is a team of experts that are called on “to explore and investigate unexplained phenomena worldwide.” The team consists of team leader A.J. Keeler who doesn’t see much time in the field for what I think are mysterious reasons, Doctor Titania “Tina” Challenger the last of a family of scientific adventurers, her ex-husband and the team’s field leader Sam Wildman, and Tesla an alien with the mentality of a child. 
This first issue introduces us to what will become the five members of the Section Zero team as they investigate reports of a monster in the jungles of Siatok. That turns out to be future member Thom Talesi…the 24 Hour Bug, a kid who can morph into an insect when he touches the strange tattoo on his right arm. The team goes from one paranormal investigation to another and Kesel sprinkles in some great introductory character development along the way. So far my favorite character is Tesla. I enjoy his child-like mentality and how much excitement he brings to the group. Plus…he drives a sweet alien flying saucer with a tractor beam. Can’t go wrong with that!
Grummett’s artwork does a fantastic job of bringing the story to life. As I previously mentioned, I am a huge fan of his art from his days on Superboy. Seeing his art in Section Zero brings back those fond memories. His attention to detail cannot be understated. Every panel is full of incredible artistic facets from U.N. office buildings to the jungles of Siatok, and finally the Australian Outback. He is very meticulous when it comes to his character illustration. Grummett really gets the grime and dirt on Sam Wildman just right. The same with the insect details on Thom Talesi or the light that emanates from Tesla when he gets excited. Lastly, I rarely talk about letterers, which is a shame in and of itself, but I really have to give Richard Starkings some props for the lettering done at the beginning of the issue. It really set the food of a science-fiction mystery. I’m a little disappointed that this font wasn’t used throughout the rest of the book. 
I am really interested and curious to see where the story goes from this first issue. Will it have deep mysteries like Planetary did? Or will the issues be more like an episode of the X-Files, where the case is solved in a single issue? The secrets that A.J. Keeler has regarding his true allegiances are reason enough for me to purchase issue two!

Rocko’s Modern Afterlife #1

Published by: Kaboom!

Written by Anthony Burch

Illustrated by: Mattia Di Meo

Colors by Francesco Segala

Letters by Jim Campbell

Release Date April 3rd, 2019

That’s right ladies and gentlemen! Our favorite wallaby that we grew up watching on Saturday mornings with a bowl of cereal is back in comic form! Rocko’s Modern After Life doesn’t skip a beat jumping back into the game with its risqué humor that we’re all familiar with.

Right off the bat the comic is already tackling modern day issues, I mean it can’t still be called Rocko’s Modern (after) Life if it was pretending it was still the early to mid-90s. The comic sets the tone right away by throwing shade at a certain obnoxious website (Number 6 will blow your mind!) coming from a character I couldn’t believe I forgot! The character I’m referring is none other than Ed Bighead, Rocko’s grumpy toad neighbor. Of course, he isn’t the only returning character, obviously Rocko is here but he is also joined by one of my favorite dogs ever Spunky! His buddies Filbert and Heffer are back as well! Things are little complicated for Heffer though. As Rocko’s careless and dumb friend, Heffer has conformed hard into a certain modern lifestyle…. As in he has become an obsessive video game streamer! Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but that has distracted him from the ongoing zombie apocalypse! Did I mention the zombie apocalypse? Yes, Rocko now has a zombie apocalypse to deal with, I think that might be a little more stressful than his work life or his angry neighbor.

All in all, reading Rocko’s Modern Life #1 almost felt like I was watching the show. The artwork of course is a little sharper now, but it is definitely that same style that we all know and love. and it gave me an amazing dose of nostalgia. But this comic doesn’t just rely on nostalgia alone, the characters’ personalities are just like I remember but now they are applying their attitude and logic to the technological advancements we have today, and well zombies of course. The tone of the comic obviously has a lot of humor, but it does change to a more serious tone when Rocko is forced to snap at Heffer for an important life lesson and not only was it very well done but it was an intriguing change of pace. Overall this comic series debut had an amazing writing performance and loveable artwork to match!

The Warning #5

Published by: Image

Written by Edward Laroche

Edited by Donald Hodges

Colors: Brad Simpson

Letters: Jaymes Reed

Release Date: March 20th, 2019

The Warning #5 is the most recent issue in this fresh young series, and I have to say, it has delivered from the very start. For those of you who are not familiar with The Warning Series, well first I need to tell you that missing out on this storyline is a huge mistake, but anyways to give you some background information this is a military vs unknown threat comic. Obviously, it wouldn’t be very exciting if events were peaceful, to be more blunt the military is struggling to fight back let alone even identify what is currently the world with deadly explosions and mysterious individuals. Things are not completely hopeless they do have talented and enhanced agents to fight back with. Such as Gladiator Two Six a solider who has undergone extensive upgrades and despite being close to a cyborg, he is still barely maintaining his humanity. His internal dialogue is very poetic, and it goes to show this character had so much depth and potential and I cannot wait to learn more about him.

For the most part the dialogue taking place during the series is very professional and a lot of military lingo so if you enjoy those kind of conversations then this is for you, I am extremely enjoying because if it is well done I feel so much more immersed in to the comic and I can assure it is well done. I am aware I haven’t given much information about the events taking place but that is because the comic has been keeping almost everything shrouded in mystery and because of that I was almost always anxious to get to the next page. That does not mean this is all suspense, far from it because close to every single page has been action packed with explosions, airstrikes and an ongoing dogfight that is a definite nail biter. The events of the comic are shown in a very interesting order. It is has no hesitation to take you on a visit several months in the past to give you more background information. Issue #5 continues the momentum this series has built and to say this installment is worth reading is an understatement.

The artwork for this comic continues to be impressive and will highly likely earn praise from any avid comic book reader. After reading The Warning #5 I immediately checked the date of release for The Warning #6 and was kind of disappointed it wasn’t today! Anyways actually the publication date is April 24th, 2019 so be sure write that down on your calendars!

Bad Luck Chuck #1

Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Written By: Lela Gwenn

Artist: Matthew Dow Smith

Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick

Letters: Frank Cvetkovic

Bad Luck Chuck #1 marks the beginning for the adventures of Tashi Charlene “Chuck” Manchester, a self-employed master of disaster. For this comic the main character isn’t the owner of the typical super powers we are used to. She is the owner of bad luck, any environment becomes hazardous just by her mere presence (watch out for goats falling from the sky). To most people this would be a curse, but Chuck has turned her misfortune into financial gain, offering her services to those who are looking to make money off an insurance claim or any other mischievous deed without actually getting their hands dirty.

After burning down a laundromat Chuck is hired to destroy a cults’ compound in order to save a customers’ daughter, but things are never that simple. Chuck shows up and to no surprise it doesn’t take long for a fire to bring down the whole place, soon after the daughter, Fayola (which means lucky in Yoruba) informs Chuck that she is being followed by men most likely hired by her mother to kill Fayola and frame Chuck for the purpose of getting her hands on Fayola’s inheritance from her Grandfather. These two goons were not prepared for Chucks’ dangerous power and the new duo of unlucky and lucky escape safely.

Starting off the series has already created many possibilities for Chuck, or should I say created enemies as in the detective who has Chuck as the main suspect in several “accidents”, the crazed cult leader and the devious mother. The artwork is solid and easy to love but pacing of the story seems a little off, I felt like the events were a little rushed. Despite the pace the story is still an exciting new series that has a high level of creativity in regard to the main character and her unique superpower.

Transformers #2

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Written by: Brian Ruckley

Art by: Angel Hernandez/Cachet Whitman

Colors by: Joana Lafuente/Josh Burcham

Letters by: Tom B. Long

Release Date: March 27th, 2019

Oh IDW, what am I going to do with you? We didn’t even last one issue before we experience our first death in the new Transformers universe – the Autobot Brainstorm. As we left off from the first issue, newly forged Rubble is traveling with Bumblebee and Windblade to visit Brainstorm. While the latter two are investigating a break-in, Rubble stumbles across Brainstorm’s corpse. 

Issue two opens with a monologue from Rubble as he thinks about what he has seen in his short life, including this murder. We learn that something like this hasn’t happened in a long time…and for Cybertronians, that’s saying something. Readers are introduced to several new characters – at least new to the reboot – Chromia and Prowl. Prowl is still his same know-it-all, annoying self while we learn that Chrome has a new role that bodes well for more character development – head of Cybertronian security. Chromia seems a more personable option as security chief over Prowl. She still maintains a by-the-book approach to things, as we see present during her conference call with Orion Pax. She holds firm to her belief that Autobot security is stretched too thin to add more people to the protest rally. At the end of the day, she does what her commander orders, which is as by-the-book as you can get. 

The focus on Rubble continues as he is introduced to Wheeljack and gets a hands-on experience working in engineering with him. Wheeljack feeds his curiosity by talking about one of the moons of Cybertron and how it was converted to an energon absorber. Readers are reminded just how different this world is from an organic one. Where else could a world’s inhabitants construct an energy harvester out of one of its moons? Before we end Rubble’s arc in this issue, we are treated to a touching moment of him sitting with Bumblebee as the energon harvesting moon opens. 

Lastly, we are taken to Tarn for the Ascenticon rally. I noticed that the storytellers make a point to tell us the location of Tarn in relation to another district – Kaon. Those readers that are well-versed in Transformers lore will recognize Kaon as the seat of Decepticon power in the early days of the Civil War. I doubt this mention was purely coincidence. At the rally, Megatron gives an embolden speech about purpose and equality for all Cybertronians. At the same time, I can detect a hint of superiority as he uses this phrase, “We are unique, we Cybertronians. There is nothing, and no one, in all the known universe in which we see our own nature reflected.” Superiority was always at the forefront of Megatron’s Decepticon ideology. Before the issue ends, an unknown assailant takes a shot at Megatron and he flies into a rage. He discovers no one and makes a vow to get to the bottom of this attack. 

I continue to enjoy the dual artists as it relates to the individual stories that are being told. The hues that Hernandez and Lafuente have decided on really suit a story that’s being told on a robotic, alien world such as Cybertron. The purple and blue from the Autobot characters blend great with the Cybertronian backdrop. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I feel like these colors also help set the mood with the fact that the Autobots are investigating the death of one of their own. When we come to Wheeljack’s addition to the story, Chromia had it right by saying “Wheeljack’s the sort to put some light back into the world.” There’s a lot of light in all of the panels in this section of the story – from the buildings to the sky, and culminating with Cybertron’s energon gathering moon. I’m already in awe of all the art by the time I get to the last few pages – Megatron’s arc. I love Whitman’s use of angles and detail when it comes to Megatron and Soundwave. You can really see the anger on Megatron’s face as he gives his passionate speech to his followers or as he deals with the attempt on his life. I’ll definitely be in the market for some of this original artwork!

This second issue doesn’t really answer any questions that arose from the first issue. If anything, it created more. Who killed Brainstorm? What is Megatron’s ultimate goal? Is the attempt on his life the spark that will bring forth the Decepticon movement? Who is behind it? While I am enjoying this glimpse into Cybertron’s past, I am left wanting a bit more. The pace almost crawls along. I don’t feel like anything is happening. Yes, I enjoy the new character of Rubble and the sense of wonder that he brings. However, I want things to progress just a bit faster. Additionally, I want more of Megatron’s story! I want to see the politics of Cybertron and learn how the Civil War starts. The book has potential though and the good far outweighs the bad. I would still recommend it to any Transformers fan and it’s going to stay in my pull list. 

The Magic Order #1

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Written by: Mark Millar

Art by: Olivier Coipel

Colors by: Dave Stewart

Letters by: Peter Hoherty

Release Date: June 13th, 2018

I just know I will take a lot of flack for this next sentence. I typically stick to reading titles from the Big Two and rarely branch out to other publishers. So when my friend gave me this series and told me I HAD to read it…I was a little skeptical. Well, now that I have…I prepared a freshly cooked meal of crow to eat. This book was so good that I read it three times before writing this review. THREE. TIMES. 

Our story opens with a murder. Now that might seem a bit cliche, but this is a murder that might even make a villain like Voldemort cringe. Black magic of the darkest type was used to commit this foul deed. From there, we are introduced to a dysfunctional family – the Moonstones: the talented, but troubled Cordelia; patriarch Leonard; hot-headed Regan, yet is the good son; and the magical black sheep of the family, Gabriel, a man who wants nothing to do with his family’s world. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but there is a lot of character development filled in just over 20 pages. At the same time, readers are left with so many questions. Why is Gabriel done with magic? Who is Madame Albany? Most importantly, who is the murderer?

Olivier Coipel’s art really suits the gritty murder mystery that Millar is presenting to readers. I’m used to seeing his work on majestic characters like Thor and the other Avengers or in shadows like Batman. Here…Coipel shows us that there is a world beneath the normal one. A world that is filled with wonder, grime, and gore. His work shows that detail on a level that rivals Gary Frank.

I definitely recommend this title. I’m trying to finish this review as quickly as possible so I can start issue two! All six issues are out, so there is no excuse why you’re not reading this book. Don’t wait for the Netflix show!

Assassin Nation #1

  • Written by: Kyle Starks
  • Art by: Erica Henderson
  • Letters: Deron Bennet
  • Published by: Image Comics
  • Release Date: March 13th,2019

I have to admit I had very little background information going into reading the new series Assassin Nation, but once I had found out it was written by the veteran Kyle Starks, who has delivered fan favorites such as Invader Zim and Rick & Morty, I was practically shaking with excitement! Assassin Nation follows a roster of Assassins all coming to a head, but no this isn’t your typical last man standing story, no sir.

Assassin Nation violently grabs your attention from the very start with the former #1 hitman in the world “Chekhov’s Gun” interrogating a bloody mess of a man about who is trying to kill him. As with almost any interrogation in comics, it does not go well in an explosive way. Shortly afterwards many interesting characters are introduced all at once, characters such as Smoke, Wistful Stan, Fernando, The Mamba Twins, F@#* Tarkington and Dave. This list of colorful characters is full of danger, badassery, nonchalance and most importantly…. Sarcasm. Hilarity ensues when all of these hitmen are brought together in a single room. As expected with a room full of Assassins, it doesn’t take long for this group of individuals to focus less on quick witted banter and more on interactions of the violent nature that’ll leave your eyes wide and your jaw on the floor, and yet despite the inevitable shootout, the comedic values are never abandoned. After having a short look into the personality and the capability of each character you should have no trouble finding yourself a favorite, just hope that they survive the events to come because this series didn’t have any hesitation to send the message that no one is safe.

In addition to the impressive clash of hitmen, the artwork has a charming and classic feel that everyone can enjoy, no surprise in quality there with an experienced artist such as Erica Henderson, who is most well-known for her work on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl issues. I personally cannot wait to see what happens next with the unique characters I’m already starting to grow fond of (team Dave all the way!) and I will be impatiently waiting for the next issue to drop.

Transformers #1

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Written by: Brian Ruckley

Art by: Angel Hernandez/ Cachet Whitman

Colors by: Joana Lafuente

Letters: Tom B. Long

Release Date: March 13th, 2019

I like to preface this review by saying that I have a lot of bad opinions. Haha, not really. More like, unconventional opinions that are often rooted with what I grew up with. That’s definitely the case with anything related to Transformers. I LOVED the original cartoon and the Marvel comics. I was right there when the movie came out and our hero, Optimus Prime, fell in battle. Over the years I continued with my love interest through all its myriad of forms: Beast Wars/Machines, Armada, Prime, Michael Bay’s milquetoast franchise, Generation 2 comics, and Dreamwave’s series. Finally, I got to IDW and their Generation 1 reboot. Now, these were some great stories and definitely what I needed after Dreamwave folded. There was just the right amount of classic G1 feel to the portrayal of characters with a twist off in a new direction. However, all good things must come to an end. Over the course of a few years, the stories got very outlandish and had no real unity or continuity between them. Plus…they killed major characters right and left with no reasoning behind it! Some repair work was needed on this franchise. 

Now we come to IDW’s new Transformers series. This is a true reboot that takes place on their home planet of Cybertron, millions of years before the Transformers’ exodus from Cybertron to Earth. Megatron’s formation of the Decepticon movement is in its early stages. The word Decepticon doesn’t even exist yet. As what

The story opens with a new Transformer named Rubble. He’s newly forged – their form of being born – and has begun to take in all the sights. His sense of awe and curiosity is quite endearing. Readers are introduced to two well-known Transformers – Bumblebee and Windblade – as they lead him to his destination. We have a brief interlude where we see a crowd belonging to Megatron’s Ascenticon movement. The ever stoic Ironhide escorts Megatron to meet with Orion Pax, the future Optimus Prime, regarding public safety around Megatron’s movement. We go back to Rubble’s story for more jovial interactions before the issue ends on a cliffhanger. 

The art definitely fits what readers are used to with Transformers titles. I love the fact that IDW used different artists for the two separate storylines that are in this first issue. Angel Hernandez’s pseudo-cartoonish style is befitting of the story of Rubble and the youthful attitude he has. Cachet Whitman was in charge of the interlude story. I have to say, I really enjoy her work! Her character designs have that IDW feel and style with a unique twist. Let’s not forget Joana Lafuente’s use of colors. Everything blends very well together while at the same time drawing eyes to specific areas of the panels. I’m absolutely on board for more art from this fantastic team of creators. 

This book is a must-buy for me and I think for any fan of Transformers. I was able to immerse myself into the story. I felt like I was watching new stories of my classic G1 cartoon. This opening issue made me want to know more about the backstory between Orion Pax (Optimus Prime) and Megatron. I felt connected to the new character of Rubble. Most importantly, I want to know what happens next and how things go from peace to war. 

Dark Red #1

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Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artwork: Corin Howell
Colours: Mark Englert
Lettering: Marshal Dillon
Release Date: 26th March 2019

  

Admittedly, I’m not the target audience for vampire books. Let’s just say the genre is not in my wheelhouse. With that being said, when I heard that Tim Seeley was writing a book about vampires set in the country and it would be published by Aftershock. Well, you have my attention!

Charles ”Chip” Ipswich is a regular guy from a rural town in the middle of America. Where he works a dead-end job as a gas station clerk. Here’s the kicker. Chip is a vampire! 
  Let me tell you this book did not disappoint. One thing I truly enjoyed was the dialogue. At times it was comical. The interactions between the characters that Seeley created captivated me. They just felt so real. Assisting in my enjoyment of the book was the lettering, by Marshall Dillon. The placement of the word bubbles helped the flow of the story. 
 

Now, for the art. I enjoyed countless amounts of panels Corrin Howell created. If I had to choose my favorite part of it would be the facial expressions of each character. It really enhanced my experience. Speaking of enhancing that’s what Mark Englert color palette did for the art. Overall, this would a great execution by a fantastic team. 
 

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