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All New Soulfire #1
Publisher: Aspen Comics
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2014 18:30:28

Having no ties to the previous versions of Soulfire, I was excited to jump into this new series featuring one of Aspen’s more popular characters. This incarnation is written by J.T. Krul and Frank Mastromauro with art by V. Ken Marion (pencils) Mark Roslan (inks) and Kyle Ritter (colors).

We learn in the prologue that the world of Soulfire is one in which magic has long since disappeared. It’s now the year 2213 and a young man named Malikai has brought magic back into the world. He is accompanied by a winged woman named Grace (who adorns the cover of this issue) and a group of adventurers.

The first issue of a the series introduces a new female character to the group, and sees the group head to Paris, France for a battle tournament that Malikai’s colleagues are entering. We also see the main villain of the series pondering his past defeats and beginning a new plot to use both technology and magic to reclaim his place of power.

While there is a lot of recapping past events in this issue, it still felt to me like I’ve missed out on quite a bit. For the most part, the main characters are already established and I think the creators are assuming that readers are at least familiar with what has come before. The artwork is great overall, and the world of Soulfire is vibrant and colorful, filled with unique characters that I’d like to know more about.

In order to learn more about that world though, I get the feeling I’ll have to go digging into previous series, as this series feels like it will require that previous knowledge.

Overall, Soulfire #1 is an interesting read, but not necessarily new-reader friendly.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
All New Soulfire #1
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Crimson Society #0
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/10/2014 12:42:02

I’m a big fan of Action Lab’s Danger Zone imprint of horror/supernatural comics, as they’re constantly showcasing books that have a unique take on their respective genres. If the zero issue of Crimson Society is any indication, this book feels like a perfect fit for the Danger Zone line.

Written by Mike Hunau with art by Carlos Trigo and Colors by Andrea Celestini, Crimson Society shows us a future world where humanity and supernatural creatures like vampires, zombies and werewolves have brokered a peace treaty, agreeing to live side by side in peace. Everyone seems happy about the agreement except Jack Crimson, a werewolf who who would rather get rid of his curse than learn to live with it. We flash forward a few years and see a structured society where unregistered supernaturals are treated like illegal immigrants, and Jack once again finds himself in trouble due to his werewolf side.

While the zero issue offers just a glimpse of what’s to come, it does a nice job of establishing the new future that Jack finds himself at odds with. The artwork is larger than life, with the team of Trigo and Celestini really having fun with the creatures in particular. Jack’s werewolf reminded me of the versions from The Howling and American Werewolf in London, which I prefer to the more human looking version from The Wolf Man.

All in all, Crimson Society #0 promises a fun series full of the kinds of monsters we grew up watching in our favorite horror movies. Count me in for the rest of the series.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Society #0
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The Stormchasers #6
Publisher: Unstoppable Comics
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/30/2012 11:22:20

From www.secretidentitypodcast.com:

One of the things that impressed me when I met JayDee Rosario at NYCC last year was his approach to the comics Unstoppable Comics was putting out. Their flagship title The Stormchasers is an Avengers/Justice League type of book, with an international cast of heroes and villains. In addition to the ongoing series, there is a character guide that offers more info on the characters and the world they inhabit, which I think is brilliant (and more creators should be doing).

The world of The Stormchasers has gotten even bigger as we head into issue #6, due to the crisis at hand. One of the old guard Ms. Freedom, enlisted The Stormchasers to help rescue her kidnapped daughter. That team was taken down, and issue #5 saw Ms. Freedom recruit a group of former members to try again. Issue #6 shows Ms. Freedom strategizing with the new team, and putting the plan into action.

In addition to the strong story by writer and creator JayDee Rosario, the art by Russ Leach (who came on board with issue #5) is fantastic. The book has a real Justice League vs. Legion of Doom feel to it, as the cast of characters is constantly evolving.

If you haven't checked out the series yet, I highly recommend it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stormchasers #6
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Robot Coloring Book 2
Publisher: Jason May Publishing
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/21/2011 05:26:26

From www.secretidentitypodcast.com:

Those who were unable to attend New york Comic Con in 2010 missed out on a wonderful coloring book put out by Mr. Jason May. Fortunately, Jason recently put that book up on Drive Thru Comics, so parents everywhere could download some robot goodness for their kids.

He did not stop there however, as Jason debuted a brand new Robot Coloring Book at NYCC this past week, and it’s available right now at Drive Thru Comics.

The 2011 Robot Coloring Book features 19 full-page robot sketches (and 22 sketches in all) that range from cute to surreal. While there is an overall theme to Jay May’s robot design, there a plenty of variations, not just in the robots themselves, but in how they are inked and shaded. Even if you didn’t color these things, you could print them out and hang them on your wall--they are all that good.

In addition to the sketches, there are a couple of kids’ activities included that round out the whole coloring book experience. All in all, the book is easily worth the $5 cover price, and with the digital version, kids will be able to print out and color them again and again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Robot Coloring Book 2
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Drop Dead Dangerous #0
Publisher: Happy Lockjaw
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2011 07:50:27

“Drop Dead Dangerous” #0 is exactly what a zero issue should be. The book sets up the main characters and the world they inhabit, and lays the foundation for where the series will be going in the future.

“DDD” takes place in a version of the Wild West, where a serial killer called “The Raven” has been killing young women and scrawling quotes from Poe in their blood next to the bodies. As the story opens, The Raven is about to take his latest victim, who happens to be the wife of Jack Smith, a deputy sheriff who arrives just in time to save his wife and kill The Raven. After the traumatic incident, Jack quits his job and opens his own private investigation practice, so he can spend more time with this wife, who hasn’t been the same since her near-death experience. Jack’s first case in his new job involves a murder that fits the m.o. of The Raven, who Jack killed one year ago.

As I mentioned above, writer Chad Cabrera sets up the series very well with this zero issue. Artist Mike Banting has a manga style, and he really pulls off the “wild west meets pulp noir” feel well.

“Drop Dead Dangerous” #0 is a great read that has hooked me for the upcoming series. Definitely worth checking out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Drop Dead Dangerous #0
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Impaler Vol 1-01
Publisher: Top Cow
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2010 08:18:57

Wow. After reading the first issue of "Impaler," my first thought was 'How did I miss this?' The series originally debuted in 2006, and it's a great take on both the tired genre of vampires and the mythos of Dracula itself. The story starts out in 1460's Romania, where the army of Wallachia is being overrun by vampires. In a twist to the legend of Vlad the Impaler, the version of Vlad in this story is an agent of church, who goes through a ritual to become a blessed warrior of God and battle the demonic forces assaulting Wallachia.

Fast forward to present time, and a seemingly abandoned cargo ship floats into New York Harbor. Upon closer inspection, police find the murdered crew on the ship, as well as an ancient evil that is now loose on the streets of New York.

Writer William Harms does the improbable here, as he crafts a very unique take on a genre that has been done to death. His dark story is matched perfectly by the art team of Nick Postic and Nick Marinkovich, who depict vampires as unliving shadows that can get to anyone, anywhere at any time.

All in all, a very creepy first issue, and one well worth checking out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Impaler Vol 1-01
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Brimstone and The Borderhounds #1
Publisher: Hound Comics
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/17/2010 17:06:55

If there's one thing I don't want to do after I die, it’s work. But according to the vision of the afterlife in “Brimstone and the Borderhounds,” that's exactly what I can look forward to. In the first issue we see what happens when a jerk of a guy dies and finds himself on the slow boat to Hell, where souls become part of a whole new workforce. Before he can even finish crying about what he's not supposed to be there, a breakout attempt ensues and the jerk makes a break for it with a bunch of other souls. Enter Brimstone and his gang of Borderhounds, a group of pseudo-bounty hunters that bring wayward souls back to Hell.

The main character of Brimstone is based on William Kucmierowski, better known by his professional wrestling name, Brimstone. He, along with fellow writer Marcello Carnevali and penciler Sajad Shah have created a version of hell that is part “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” part prime-time wrestling show, and part Zakk Wylde video. While the first issue doesn’t delve too deeply into Brimstone’s story, it does a nice job of setting up the world and laying the groundwork for the stories to come.

“Brimstone and the Borderhounds” #1 is a fun read that promises to get crazier with ensuring issues. I plan on sticking around to see to where this one goes.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brimstone and The Borderhounds #1
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Bee Sting
Publisher: Alterna Comics
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/24/2010 09:21:24

from www.secretidentitypodcast.com:

"Hello, Do You Work Here?" #1 is a pretty unique anthology project from Alterna Comics. Alterna's Peter Simeti asked people who worked in retail to send in stories about their craziest (but true) workplace experiences. The book containes fifteen different stories, most of which are accompanied by art from a variety of independet artists.

I found the group of stories in this volume to be a mixed bag--some were really funny or creepy, a few were pretty mediocre, and the rest were in-between. Overall though, there were enough high notes to make the book a worthwhile read. Some of the highlights include a law office clerk who deals with a suicidal client on her first day, a Taco Bell cashier who has a borderline stalker for a regular customer, and a copy store clerk who gets accosted by a 70-year old man. The stories are short, quick reads and the art that accompanies them ususally fits the tone of the story well.

"Hello, Do You Work Here?" should resonate with anyone who's ever worked in retail, and it makes a good coffee table book that you can pick up and read through in small chunks. I enjoyed it enough that I'll be picking up the second volume.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bee Sting
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Star Crossed Galaxy 1
Publisher: TwilightPop Productions
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/10/2010 09:14:07

from www.secretidentitypodcast.com:

"Star Crossed Galaxy" #1 features a lot of elements that fans of "Firefly," "Star Wars" and "Battlestar Galacitca" will be familiar with, but the well-paced story and strong artwork make the book more than just a re-tread of what's come before.

In the first issue, readers are introduced to a space-based future where the entire galaxy suffered a great plague some 500 years earlier. Humans are now part of a coalition of spacefaring races that are currently at odds with pirates that operate outside the coalition. The story follows Captain Cull and the crew of the Outlander as they encounter a band of pirates. Despite the protests of his crew, the overconfident Cull decides to board the pirate ship, and the results don't turn out so well.

Wrtiter Ryan Keyworth provides a action-packed story that keeps things moving and also gets readers aquainted with the universe. He gives each of the characters enough personality to stand out without slowing down the pace of the story. There's also an interesting subplot about a mysterious discovery by another coalition group that sets up future stories. The art by Matt Martin is solid all the way through, and he handles the action-heavy sequences and the character dialog scenes equally well.

I enjoyed "Star Crossed Galaxy" #1, and I'm looking forward to learning more about the characters and the universe they inhabit in upcoming issues.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Crossed Galaxy 1
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Creator Reply:
Thanks Brian for the super duper review! Will definitely get the next issues 2u.
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Ex Occultus: Seal of Solomon
Publisher: Saint James Comics
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2010 09:42:58

"Ex Occultus: Seal of Solomon" sees arcane adventurers Francis Wakefield and his sidekick Hollander traveling to Bulgaria, circa 1874. They meet a man named Marko Savanovic, who hires them to track down a ring that was believed to belong to King Solomon, and which possesses the ability to control demons (for those that know how to wield it). Wakefield and Hollander track down the antiques dealer that is currently in possession of the ring, and it seems that he’s begun to tap into the ring’s power. They have to contain the situation, try to get the ring, and then figure out what to do with it.

This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Writer Robert James Russell combines the occult lore, relic hunting and monster fighting aspects of the book well.

The fact that the "Seal of Solomon" is taken directly from Christian legends lends a feel of authenticity to the book. Artist James Emmet captures the dark tone of the story, and his use of color in this issue helps punctuate certain parts of the action and the world.

"Seal of Solomon" is a great "one and done" story, and another solid chapter in the "Ex Occultus" series.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ex Occultus: Seal of Solomon
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Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne
Publisher:
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/03/2010 20:09:09

From www.secretidentitypodcast.com:

With “Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne,” writer David Gaider adds another level of depth to the world that he helped create for the “Dragon Age: Origins” video game.

“The Stolen Throne” is set approximately thirty years before the events of the “Dragon Age: Origins” game. The nation of Ferelden has been invaded and taken over by the Orlesian Empire, whose only major resistance is a group of rebels led by the former Queen Moira Theirin. When the Rebel Queen is killed, her son Maric escapes and ends up meeting a group of outlaws. With the Orlesians on his trail, Maric and an outlaw named Loghain Mac Tir escape into the wilds and eventually meet up with the remaining rebels. Maric then reluctantly takes up his mother's cause and embarks on a mission with Loghain and his betrothed Rowan to try and gather an army to overthrow the Orlesians. Love triangles, spies, Darkspawn and epic battles area all part of Maric's journey to the throne of Ferelden.

By setting this tale well before the events of the game, Gaider is able to focus on the history of Ferelden and some of it's most storied characters and events. While Maric is the lead character, this is Loghain's story as well, and he is a much different character here than the one players will encounter in the game. Reading this book could definitely impact how players approach Loghain in “Dragon Age: Origins.” This story also adds a lot of depth to the world of “Dragon Age,” particularly Ferelden. Locations from across Ferelden are explored in detail, and Gaider continuously imparts bits of each place's history to the reader, making Ferelden feel like much more than just the backdrop to video game.

If you're not planning on picking up the game and are just looking for a good fantasy tale, “The Stolen Throne” can certainly stand on its own. While it's clearly inspired by most of the other pillars of the fantasy genre, the characters are interesting enough to make the story feel unique.

Overall, “Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne” is a good fantasy tale that is highly recommended for anyone interested in the world of “Dragon Age.”



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]

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Robotika
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment LLC
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/29/2010 05:57:21

From www.secretidentitypodcast.com:

With “Robotika,” Alex Sheikman combines steampunk, samurai, cyborgs and sprinkles in some Wild West to create a stunning vision on the future.

“Robotika” starts off following Niko, a samurai in the employ of the queen’s guard, who is sent on a mission through the badlands to retrieve a stolen piece of technology that has potential to change the economic landscape. Along the way he encounters bandits, cyborgs, and Cherokee Geisha, a sword-wielding mercenary that takes a shine to Niko and helps him on his mission. Niko completes his task and returns to the queen, but what she does with the recovered technology makes Niko question why he went on the mission in the first place. He decides to give up his sword, and walks away from the queen.

Niko then falls in with Cherokee Geisha and her colleague Bronsky, as they escort a group of people on a pilgrimage to visit their god. Needless to say, that adventure doesn’t turn out quite as intended, either.

Sheikman writes and illustrates this series, which is a good thing, as I’m not sure anyone else would have been able to convey the world he’s created in Robotika. The visuals are amazing, and Sheikman does an especially great job of fusing organics with technology against the backdrop of the Wild West-like badlands. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before.

The techniques that Sheikman uses to make each character stand out are interesting as well. Niko is mute, and much of his story comes from the characters and the world reacting to him. Cherokee Geisha is also mute, but has a voice modulator that makes her sound…odd. Sheikman conveys this by lettering all of Cherokee’s dialogue vertically. It’s jarring at first, but it also has the effect of slowing you down, making you take in what’s going on in every panel. I actually came to appreciate it by the end of the series, as Robotika is not a read that you can breeze through.

Overall, “Robotika” is a very interesting experience through a completely unique world. I would definitely recommend it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Robotika
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2012: Final Prayer
Publisher: Heske Horror
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/01/2010 10:50:11

from www.secretidentitypodcast.com: I really enjoyed Robert Heske's last anthology “Bone Chiller,” and his latest collection tackles a subject I find very interesting: the predicted end of the world. “2012: Final Prayer” is an anthology that offers a variety of perspectives on 12-21-12, the day the Mayan calendar ends and the apocalypse supposedly occurs.

Over a dozen stories by different writers and artists look at different aspects of the end of the world. Chris McJunkin's “Final Choices” explores the idea that when the world comes to an end, everyone will experience it differently. Jim Alexander and Andrew Dodd's “Manchester” follows a man whose last day on earth turns out to be his happiest. Dino Caruso's “Hollow Victory” sees scientists send a man into the future to see if the apocalypse really occurs. He finds that it has, and ironically his beloved Chicago Cubs won the world series right before the world ended.

My favorite of the bunch though is Arno Hurter and David Edwards' “Bird's Eye View.” The story follows Capitan Gregory Burke, a US astronaut that happens to be in orbit aboard a space shuttle when 12-21-12 hits. Not only does he watch the end of the world from afar, he finds out that the planet was merely a vessel, an incubator for something that is finally ready to hatch. He records his final moments as a record of the last day of humanity.

With “2012: Final Prayer,” Robert Heske has again pulled together an interesting collection of stories from a variety of creative teams. The anthology is well worth checking out if you have an interest in the end times.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
2012: Final Prayer
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Indego Blue #1
Publisher: Saint James Comics
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2009 10:03:52

From www.secretidentitypodcast.com:

“Indego Blue” is an interesting look at a possible future for our world that features a main character you can really root for.

The future world of “Indego Blue” is one where the government’s obsession with creating the perfect soldier results in the fracturing of modern society. Scientists began splicing animal DNA with human beings, creating “transplants”—human/animal hybrids. While the government is creating some promising hybrids, splicing eventually makes its way to the black market, and soon there is an entire section of the population that is some form of “transplant.” The government decides that all transplants should be rounded up and disposed of. That’s when Indego Blue decides to go rogue and help other transplants like himself escape the government death squads. Indego is a dog/human hybrid with a James Bond-type persona, using his former FBI expertise to help those who are now in need. He’s aided by another transplant named Baxter (his ‘Q’) and two scientists who are trying to help him recover the memories he lost when he underwent his splicing.

In Issue #1, writers Robert James Russell and Jesse Young do a nice job of presenting the world and setting the stage for the rest of the series. The story moves along quickly, and even though we don’t know a lot about Indego yet, there’s enough detail that we can identify with what he’s trying to do. Howard Russell’s art gives the book an animated series feel, which actually lends itself well to the action-oriented story.

“Indego Blue” Issue #1 is a strong start to the series, and I’ll definitely be coming back for the next installment.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Indego Blue #1
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Lemuria: Issue #1 (PDF)
Publisher: Phantasmic Tales
by Brian L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2009 07:04:03

In Lemuria #1, creator Adam Prosser introduces us to a world that was once ruled by the might lemurs. That is, until the lemurs all became lazy and directionless and were passed by man on his way up the evolutionary scale, relegating them to a much lower status in society. It’s against this humorous backdrop that Prosser crafts two tales of sword and sorcery that are filled with action and laughs.

In the first tale, a high-school aged sorceress in training daydreams about living a life of adventure. She gets her wish when an overweight barbarian and her lemur sidekick show up at the girl’s school to rob it of treasure. The two end up uncovering an evil cult that was sacrificing students to a demon god (who happens to speak like a surfer dude) and hijinks ensue.

The second story, a warrior rides into town looking for a man rumored to be ‘the bravest in the world.’ Instead he finds an effeminate tailor that sends him on a fetch quest for supplies, which turns out to be much more difficult a quest than it sounds.

Prosser writes great dialogue for the characters in his world, and his art style matches the humor of the book perfectly. It’s clear from just these two tales that the world of Lemuria is filled with colorful characters that all have their own stories to tell. I’m looking forward to meeting more of them in the future.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lemuria: Issue #1 (PDF)
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Creator Reply:
Wow, you guys are incredibly efficient when it comes to reviewing stuff! Thanks, Brian, and stay tuned, there's a lot more on the way!
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