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Crypt of Shadows #1 Review

Writer: Al Ewing

Artists: Garry Brown, Stephen Green, Djibril Morissette-Pham

Colorist: Chris O’Halloran

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Cover: Kyle Hotz and Dan Brown

Amid a sea of superhero titles the Marvel horror one shot, Crypt of Shadows, is a distinct read that is fun and gratifying, harkening back to horror anthology comics and TV shows like Tales from the Crypt and Creep Show. Readers not familiar with the vast Marvel superhero universe (or perhaps who just want something different) can pick up and enjoy this singular issue with a small cast of characters unique to this story. Even though there is not much gore, the issue is sufficiently creepy as a psychological thriller.

The story is told in narration through a therapy session between a psychiatrist and patient. As the patient recites the tales that have fueled his cynophobia, (fear of dogs) we bounce back and forth between the relative calm of his therapist office and the spooky scenes that he sees drawn out in his head. The beautiful artwork drives chills as the story unfolds and the coloring is suitably dark without making the story hard to follow. As we’re taken through various accounts we get the sense that the protagonist is captivated with ghost stories, which is appropriate for a horror comic but drives understandable skepticism from his therapist. As his story comes to a climax we see how the dramatic tales lead back to the source in a satisfying twist.  

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Iron Heart #1-2 Review

Writer: Eve. L Ewing

Artist: Kevin Libranda and Luciano Vecchio

Colorist: Matt Milla

Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles


Tony Stark…genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Riri Williams…. genius, college student, awkward nerd, concerned citizen.

After a run in Invincible Iron Man, Riri Williams gets a new suit and a new title; Ironheart. Though she is a superhero in her own right, Riri still struggles with feelings that she doesn’t belong. In her first bout, the villain Clash antagonizes her with deliberate mockery against her age calling her Barbie Dreamhouse Iron Man and suggesting that she is from the “JV squad”. Even in her community, she is constantly correcting people who reference her as Iron Chick and Little Iron. As the only undergraduate student at MIT with her own lab she is subject to the spontaneous and uninvited visits from the Dean as he brings in spectators, affirming that her space is not really her own. Unlike Tony, she doesn’t have a billionaire inheritance and the dean reminds her that her innovations have costs.

Writer Eve Ewing brings relatability to the character by giving a realistic sense to Riri’s introverted and geeky nature making references to her Star Trek cosplay and her love of hip hop music. From her internal musings to her conversations with an old friend from home, Riri feels like someone we could know (or perhaps someone we do know). And with her successes, we also get to see Riri stumble as she works through making updates, enhancements and repairs to her suit. She develops a self learning artificial intelligence to assist her on missions and, to her surprise, it manifests itself as a version of her childhood best friend who was shot and killed and with whose death Riri is still struggling.

Ironheart is a great read so far with two solid issues that would appeal to pre-teen to adult readers.


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Modern Fantasty Trade Review

Writer: Rafer Roberts

Artist: Kristen Gudsnuk


Roll for entertainment and relatability. Modern Fantasy is set in the D&D-esque world where instead of traveling on fantastic adventures with your gang of chronic good (and bad) pals, life is just as ours is- crappy desk job, annoying coworkers, and lazy roommates. Sage, a human girl, works a mind-boggling desk job and dreams of the adventures bestowed in fantasy novel where she would decapitate goblins and win over her love interest Darquin, a struggling elvish actor trying to get away from the stereotypical elf roles. However, her real life is upturned when her roommate’s dark-elf thief boyfriend, Fentax, steals an amulet needed to preform a ritual to bring a destructive fire demon to their world, from a mobster. Sage must find herself a group of bad-ass warriors to kick ass and save the world… but makes do with her rag-tag group of semi-lovable friends and hopes they don’t die.

Modern Fantasy provided a new take on the fantasy world of titles like Rat Queens Scales and Scoundrels, introducing new perspectives to the age-old tales of Dungeons and Dragons. I found Sage to be personally relatable with the crap she puts up with in her life and with her friends, and her companions being funny and realistic. Modern Fantasy not only had a fun story line with quirky characters, but also had real daily problems more than one of us probably face.

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Conan the Barbarian #1

Writer: Jason Aaron

Penciler: Mahmud Asrar

Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Cover: Esad Ribic


By Crom, Conan is back, and at Marvel no less! This month you’re going to notice that Marvel is going all in on Conan. Marvel’s launching two new ongoings with Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan done by Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney, an Age of Conan mini-series done by friend of the store Tini Howard and Kate Niemczyk, and a full month of Conan True Believers! For those new to the character that may seem like a lot, but Conan was once a Marvel Comics staple. With Marvel celebrating its 80th anniversary, bringing Conan back to the fold feels right.


Now I will fully admit that my Conan credentials may seem light. My dad was a big Conan fan. I remember reading through some late 70’s Conan as a kid, but I always preferred Thor. I was, however enthralled by the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan movies. In those movies, Arnold succeeded in making Conan larger than life and while a bit silly at times, the sense of adventure always kept me coming back for more. Besides, the sequel had Grace Jones as a badass warrior and Wilt Chamberlain…nuff said. Despite my eternal disappointment that Conan the Destroyer’s ending teaser was never followed through, I had never been motivated to check out the comics until now.


It was writer Jason Aaron’s enthusiasm for the source material that got me excited to give Conan a try. When the series was announced, he tweeted a photo of his bookshelf filled to the brim with Conan novels and comic collections. Since his Thor is one of the best comics coming out right now, I knew I had to give Conan a try. This issue did not disappoint.


Aaron’s love for the character radiates off of the pages. The book opens with a beautiful two page spread with art from the original Marvel era of Conan. It was nice to see the homage, but Aaron makes sure to deliver his take on the character. Similar to his Thor run, we aren’t seeing a story from just one period of Conan’s life. The Life and Death of Conan starts off while Conan is still just an adventurer but threads into his life as King Conan of Aquilonia. Aaron delivers a fast-paced and bloody first issue, filled with the brawls, and pulpy dialogue you’d expect from a Conan story.


Mahmud Asrar’s art more than keeps up with the pace of the story. Conan is the statuesque and legendary figure of myth, but the art remains kinetic and energetic. Matthew Wilson sticks with a heavy red and brown color palette helping set the tone, underscore the violence, and build the world.


This issue was a great start to the series, perfect for long-time Conan fans and new readers. I’m excited to see the rest of the new Conan line. If you’ve been jonesing for a fun fantasy romp, don’t miss this issue.

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Batman #50 (SPOILERS)

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin and Other Special Guests
Colorist: June Chung
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC

Thanks to the New York Times, a reviewer spoiled the ending to one of the most anticipated
comic book issues of our time four days ahead of its release. The bleeping headline spoiled it!
Many fans, and Tom King, understandably expressed their anger on Twitter.
Alas though, here we are. The seminal issue of King’s Batman run is on stands today, with
many shops hosting special events to celebrate the much-anticipated wedding of Batman and
Catwoman. And since America’s finest news source already ruined the twist ending for
countless readers, I’ll also be diving deep into spoiler territory here. At least I have the decency
not to do so in the headline.
The wedding of the century didn’t happen.
After months of build-up and presenting the possibility that Batman might actually find
happiness once and for all, King crushed everyone’s hopes by having Cat leave him at the altar
(or in this case, the rooftop).
It was a sobering, gut-wrenching conclusion to one of the most fascinating storylines in the
character’s nearly 80-year history. Was it a bad move to destroy the hopes of many readers out
there? Maybe, but I would still argue that King, Mikel Janin and the long list of guest artists like
Mitch Gerads, Joëlle Jones, Tim Sale and even Frank Miller delivered a pretty remarkable comic
with this issue.
Coinciding with the more cerebral tone of King’s entire run, Batman #50 delivers plenty of great
emotional scenes, my favorite being when Bruce asks Alfred to be his witness at the wedding
and the two share a heartfelt father and son embrace. Likewise, King delivers some rather
poetic prose to coincide with splash pages by the various guest artists. There are just some
genuinely beautiful moments throughout this issue, which will move readers regardless of how
they feel about the ending.
Ultimately, it’s a very King ending. Part of me does wish he had committed to something so bold
and unconventional, but at the same time I am excited to see where the story will go from here.
The ending also paves the way for the new Joëlle Jones Catwoman series, which debuts today.
Perhaps the Bat will always be broken, as Bane puts it here. Yet if King’s run does go a hundred
issues as planned, then there are still plenty of possibilities and potential storylines.

If you’d like to continue this discussion, hit me up on Twitter at @kwschaef, and be sure to pick
up the Ultimate Comics Nick Derrington exclusive cover.

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Deadman #1

Title: Deadman
Written, Drawn and Colored by Neal Adams
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: DC

 It’s a pretty big deal to have a comic in 2017 written and illustrated by the legendary Neal Adams. The man who helped revitalize characters like Batman and Green Arrow in the 1970s alongside writer Denny O’Neil is back with a bang. His newest work brings back one of the weirdest and most interesting characters in the DC universe.

Not unlike the equally psychedelic Mister Miracle book by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, Deadman #1 is about our hero coming back from the dead and the mystery surrounding his assassination. In order to discover the full truth of what happened to him and the connection to the League of Assassins, Boston Brand will need the help of Batman, Zatanna and Doctor Fate.

Back when Deadman was first created in the 1960s by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, Adams played an instrumental role in popularizing the character. The first arc he contributed to as a penciler also dealt with Brand coming back from the dead, so it’s only fitting that he’s helming the new reboot.

It goes without saying that this is a gorgeous book from start to finish. Adams’ bombastic and wildly surreal style coincides perfectly with the story’s supernatural elements. Not only that, but it’s a compelling narrative as well. Even if you haven’t read the last Deadman miniseries, Adams does a nice job making this one an easy jumping-on-point, with little ties to anything else going on in the DC universe right now. Now if Warner Bros. and DC could just get Guillermo del Toro to make a Deadman movie I’ll be really happy.

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Ragman #1

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Inaki Miranda
Colorist: Eva De La Cruz
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC

Even for longtime DC fans, Ragman is a pretty obscure character. He showed up on Arrow in season five and is set to return in the new season, but in terms of the comics he’s remained mostly absent for a while.

This new limited series by writer Ray Fawkes and artist Inaki Miranda provides a revamp of Ragman’s origin, and could potentially lead to a more prominent role for him in Rebirth. For now though, this is a nice self-contained comic perfect for the Halloween season.

Ragman #1 tells the story of Rory Regan, an army veteran who returns home to Gotham after a failed mission to raid an ancient tomb in an Israeli desert. During the mission, Regan encounters a supernatural force which eventually transforms him into the creature Ragman. As memories of these experiences and fallen comrades haunt him, Regan faces even more demons when a new evil shows up in Gotham.

I knew next to nothing about Ragman’s origin or mythos coming into this issue, and I found it quite enjoyable. The character first appeared in 1976, and Fawkes and Miranda do a great job capturing the tonal aspects of 70s supernatural horror, while also giving the book a modern context. This issue is part war drama and part horror fantasy, with both genres nicely balanced. Fawkes does an especially good job with the pacing, allowing the readers to get a feel of Regan’s character before showing him in the Ragman costume.

Likewise, Miranda and De La Cruz deliver a subdued, grim style that feels like a John Carpenter movie. There’s a great double splash page-spread about midway through which showcases Ragman and the villain with Gotham looming in the background. If you’re into anything to do with Swamp Thing, Constantine or Justice League Dark, you’ll love this comic.