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Aphrodite IX/Cyber Force #1
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 09:42:51
If you are excited about the IXth Generation coming next month (and you should be), then you should grab this important chapter in the Top Cow Universe story.

Yes, this takes place hundreds of years in the future. Yes, there are Artifacts, and lots of them. Yes, one Artifact in particular has taken the upper hand . . . can you guess which one? And there are some interesting tips and reveals that will satisfy fans of the TCU, especially CyberForce.

We get some more of the Pantheon, the special group of IX generation creations, all named after the gods. For delicious effect, it is the female gods who are clearly in charge and closely tied with the whims of "Mother," who descends from the Cyber Data Chairwoman herself.

The art is terrific, carried through in the "new" style of Stjepan Sejic - this is not his painted work; this is classic sequential art with the style and beauty that Stjepan brings to the table.

And you'll ask yourself . . . how can some of these people survive so many hundreds of years?!?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aphrodite IX/Cyber Force #1
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The Children's Vampire Hunting Brigade
Publisher: Creator's Edge Press
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2014 12:26:14
This is a fun collection for Halloween and mid-Autumn. It's an easy read, a story that captures your attention, and a nice way to reflect the changes in weather and evening darkness.

Although there is a lot of dialogue, it is written in a breezy, conversational style. The reader isn't bogged down with excessive exposition, and the elements of the story flow pretty well.

The art is well suited to black and white, and the storyboarding is particularly good. Panels flow well, and we aren't treated to awkward perspectives or close-ups. The pages are designed to match the dialogue, adding to the accessibility of the writing.

It is not excessively gory, so it's a good seasonal choice for fans of the horror genre who don't require extreme violence. There is plenty of suspense and gore, but all of it supports the tale.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Children's Vampire Hunting Brigade
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Tales of Honor #1
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2014 09:53:36
This book is my first taste of the "Honorverse," and it definitely grabbed my interest. The world created around Honor Harrington is rich and well established in this book. There is much, much more to learn in future issues.

While there is a mix of flashback to tell the tale, it is not crafted in a confusing way. You don't wonder about the time travel or sequence of events, you are just sharing memory as a way to learn the story.

Artwork is a painted style, and is well executed. It's exciting because it's clearly a skilled but relatively new artist that will only get better as the issues progress. The art reminds me of the earliest Witchblade issues drawn by Stjepan Sejic. It was fun to watch his skills evolve, and I expect similar progression with Jung-Guen Yoon.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tales of Honor #1
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Charismagic V1 #0
Publisher: Aspen Comics
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/19/2014 07:22:21
Most of the time, zero issues are a good way to get a taste of the story, characters, and style of a book's creators. Zero issues also get a little more slack than I might give a full issue in a storyline. They are meant as an introduction and a teaser. And usually they come at a nice discount. In this case, Aspen Comics has made the zero issue of Charismagic a free issue.

They start off well by giving us both variant covers. That's essential in a digital copy, and I'm glad to see it here. Particularly since the covers are in differing artistic styles. So, bonus points for even HAVING a variant for a free zero issue.

The next thing I look for in a zero issue is how quickly they can grab me into the story. They do an okay job here, with a panel of exposition starting in a diner booth. The lose points for conversation versus setting a tone, but they gain points with their mystical, obviously magical, woman with a hot neck tattoo. (Okay, I can be superficial - it is comics, and attractiveness isn't necessarily gratuitous).

The book gets high marks for the art, with a unique style that also happens to fit with the Aspen line. It's more angular than, say, a Michael Turner clone artist. The panels flow and are interesting.

The writing is fine, but some of the phrasing isn't natural. A few turns of words wouldn't really be said in real conversation - split sentences work fine while she is telling the background story, but don't work as well in general conversation. (For example, the line "Then maybe you should listen to your own warning, and...don't tell me you can't...feel it inside?" The split between "and" and "feel" is a bit awkward. I know it's a nitpick, but it does describe the style in some other sentences in the book.) But, the story gets across fine so I just chalk that up to my personal peeve and not a big deal.

The main character, I think, is introduced in the last few pages. This is Hank the Magnificient, a Las Vegas magician. We don't see much of him, and he seems likeable. I believe the creator wanted to show the contrast between the dark figures that make up most of the book and this goofy magician who has good confidence and possible good skills. I'd have liked to know more about him.

Even so, it's worth checking out - especially at the price! I will be reading more of this series to see how things unfold.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Charismagic V1 #0
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Aphrodite IX V2 #7
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/14/2014 08:06:02
History is a matter of perspective. Have you wondered about a post-apocolyptic world? In Aphrodite IX, we follow a woman with cybornetic enhancements face an earth hundreds of years after her time.

The Aphrodite IX is on her own, freed from the warring factions of an enhanced religious tribe against an advanced technological tribe. Now, she learns that she is in a time that is a full 6 Aphrodite generations into the future.

Stjepan Sejic has adjusted his art style for this book, and it's fantastic. His characters are expressive, and you can almost read the book once through without dialogue simply to enjoy the art. If you aren't a fan of his painted work, give this a try. He has the same storytelling and framework, but with a style that is more alive to a comic art fan.

One thing is for sure - you get your money's worth with the Aphrodite IX series. No "two-minute reads" to be found in the series!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aphrodite IX V2 #7
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Artifacts #33
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2014 15:02:23
Tom Judge fans be glad! This is a one-and-done Tom Judge/Tilly Grimes story, written by the first team of Top Cow Talent Hunt winners. Kenny Porter and -Rom- were selected from the submission contest that took place at the end of 2012.

The story makes good use of the powers of the Rapture, although Tilly acts as sidekick muscle without any of her numeromancer skills coming into play. The serial-killing villain is twisted and evil, connected with hell itself, which makes the Rapture the proper Artifact to handle the job of bringing him down.

The story has a clever and neat ending. This comes with a reminder that there can be some good in our efforts, even if we can't achieve the perfect happy ending.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Artifacts #33
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Darkness #115
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 19:16:07
It's all coming to a head in the Top Cow Universe. Jackie Estacado's "reborn" world is fractured and nothing like he imagined it could be. In the issues leading up to #115, we see Jackie rendered broken and weak. Even though he has been down before, we have never seen him so helpless, so dominated.

By this issue, we have become familiar with the twisted storytelling of David Hine. Now, Jeremy Haun's artwork truly shines, taking the characterizations of Hine's storyline and giving them life. You could read this book without reading the dialogue and still get close to the intent of the story.

This is a solid example of struggle with supernatural forces, with some intrigue and even zombie-action thrown in!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Darkness #115
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Growing Up Enchanted #3
Publisher: AAM Markosia
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2013 06:53:36
I have to disclose that I am a big fan of the artwork of Alex Serra.

Growing Up Enchanted is a great title, enjoyed by adults but particularly accessible for young readers. It follows a very relatable young girl and her friends as she learns about her special abilities. There are dragons, magical circumstances, and xenophobic villagers. Truly a classic medieval tale that has a very modern sensibility.

The writing is sharp and the story flows nicely. The artwork is a perfect compliment to the story - which evokes elements of Jeff Smith that will connect well with any fan of the Bone series. It is very, very different from that series, but they will appeal to similar readers.

Drive Thru is offering it at an incredible value for such quality work. Buy the first books, and you'll find yourself picking them all up over time!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Growing Up Enchanted #3
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Artifacts #29
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/21/2013 13:16:43
This issue is important in the Artifacts canon. One of the mysteries from the original Artifacts mini-series is "Why did Tom Judge come walking out of the Subway from Hell to start off the series?" We have only been given hints of why or how he got out of hell.

This issue represents a break from the Ron Marz storyline to provide some insight into the Tom Judge and Tilly Grimes relationship. There are many parallels to the Rapture TBP, which first introduced us to both characters. This issue pays homage to the story told in that trade, including bringing in one of the best Top Cow characters ever - the Conductor.

The artwork is solid, the writing is good. Phil Smith puts in plenty of pop culture references and visual gags in hell to make this an enjoyable read.

I wouldn't use it as a jumping-on point for Artifacts, but it's a satisfying read for those of us who have been on the train from the first issue.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Artifacts #29
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The Darkness Compendium Volume 1
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/17/2013 08:11:17
This is what makes digital comics great! The Darkness Compendium collects more than 1,000 pages worth of top notch, professionally produced comics at a cost of less than $1 an issue! This makes for the perfect reading material for your dog days of summer.

You get the beginning of the Darkness saga . . . all the origin and character development you need in this collection. If you are curious about the Darkness, then this is the perfect collection to have for your "jumping on" point.

The Compendium collections are a great place to have several storylines collected in one place. Plus, these high quality stories are drawn by Rock Star comic artists like Marc Silvestri, Billy Tan, and Michael Turner. So you know that this will be the highest quality artwork you'll find. The writers are no slouch, either, featuring the work of the twisted Garth Ennis, the gifted Paul Jenkins, and the solid David Wohl.

If you are a superhero comic fan, you'll feel right at home with this intense and mystical series. While the Darkness is not a superhero, per se, the series matches the sensibilities of solid action titles like Batman and Daredevil. With the Top Cow quality behind it, you can't go wrong!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Darkness Compendium Volume 1
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Aphrodite IX V2 #2
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/14/2013 07:54:03
The deeper I read this series, the deeper I am immersed. There is a lot of conflict at play here, with the main struggle being between the Genetically Enhanced people versus the Mechanically Enhanced people. In this post apocalyptic world, two philosophies fight for dominance.

Aphrodite IX is a remaining creation of the old world. She joins the cause of the Genetically Enhanced people, but she is secretly controlled by her creator who is working with the Mechanically Enhanced people. Grim events are taking place, and both sides are mounting losses . . . the twist is that Aphrodite IX is a key player for advances on both sides.

I recommend this clever story. These first two issues both start slowly and seem too complicated right before the story unfolds and is made crystal clear. This is fun.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aphrodite IX V2 #2
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Deadly Dames: Vile Villainesses
Publisher: Mini-Komix
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2013 07:07:04
Feel like a kid "again" . . . from the 1950s!

This book collects and reprints tales from the Golden Age of comics, with stories themed to exotic femme fatales. The stories chosen are obscure, a little cheesy, and purely fun. The artwork is classic, the storytelling is rudimentary, but the output is great.

If you find yourself watching the B horror movies on Saturday nights, then this comic will be quite enjoyable to you. Plot points can twist in abbreviated ways, but an overarching story stays consistent. Plus, the books display how good comics used to be at telling a complete story in 8 pages.

This is the type of book that would get read again and again. If you have a summer vacation planned, grab this book and make a pledge to read it over and over while you are relaxing. You'll feel like a kid again.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Dames: Vile Villainesses
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Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files #1
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing Ltd
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2013 07:35:44
This book is VINTAGE awesomeness! See the earliest days of Judge Dredd, including an original treatment of him as "judge, jury and executioner" that was adjusted down for the ongoing stories.

This book collects the earliest Dredd stories from 2000AD in the late 1970s. What the stories lack in subtlety they make up for in old-school action. The character is not fully fleshed out, and these early stories have some of the same noir feeling as the Batman stories from the late 1930s.

There are better Dredd books, but this volume is essential if you are relatively new to the character and want to dive into the earliest days.

This book is also worthwhile if you are a child of the 70s and miss some of the straight-ahead storytelling and action from that era.

Plus, be on the watch for early work from well-known creators like Brian Bolland. It's a visible surprise when his work pops up (like Bolland's one-page artwork in Walter the Wobot near the back of the book)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files #1
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Princeless: Short Stories For Warrior Women #2
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/27/2013 09:32:26
The Princeless is a terrific line of books from Action Lab. The stories in this volume are easy to get into, the artwork and storytelling is solid, and the characters are interesting. The Runaway Prince is a fun story about overcoming prejudice and others. The Smiths story centers around the breakup of a family and the choices that are faced by the child who may be in the middle. There's also a preview of the story from the next volume of Princeless, which serves as a pretty good introduction to the personalities of the main characters, Adrienne, Bedelia, and Sparky.

This is a book you can share with anyone, and your kids will enjoy it as well. Don't let the "all ages" moniker fool you, though . . . this is an enjoyable comic to put in your reading pile as a breezy change of pace.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Princeless: Short Stories For Warrior Women #2
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Witchblade #164
Publisher: Top Cow
by John G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/23/2013 18:05:52
Since the Top Cow Rebirth, we have been wanting to see Sara and Jackie "reunite." Not so they can get together, but so that Sara can confront him and put him in his place. This is a satisfying chapter of the Progeny crossover, and it brings plenty of action in the midst of major internal conflict for Sara. What takes place is a classic fight between the Darkness and the Witchblade, only to end with a feeling of "to be continued later."

This issue is notable for Top Cow fans, as a previously unknown event from the ending of the initial Artifacts mini-series is revealed and makes us question everything we have known thus far. The Top Cow Universe continues to crack under pressure, and Sara is beginning to remember what her life held in the past.

Witchblade 164 is a solid chapter following Artifacts 25 and leading nicely into Darkness 111.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witchblade #164
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