Tag: joe caramagna

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    I Am Groot #1: I Am, Well, You Know

    Capitalizing on the success of its newest blockbuster, Marvel has given Groot the starring role in his own comic with I Am Groot #1. Like in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Groot is not a full tree; instead, he is an adorable adolescent twig. Unfortunately, his maturity matches his size, and this causes him to get in the way of his fellow guardians. To make up for it, the anthropomorphic tree tries to help. However, he ultimately fails, leaving him stranded at the other end of the galaxy.

    I Am Groot #1

    I Am Groot #1 Features a Strong Creative Team

    Writer Christopher Hastings wisely includes Groot’s teammates in the comic. This addition means that we aren’t constantly inundated with “I am Groot” – though there’s plenty of that. The comic also features new characters as well. One such character is Buddy, a dog-like creature that Groot meets on the other side of known space.

    Flaviano provides the gripping otherworldly artwork. He gets to show off his skills with a variety of scenes ranging from the close confines of a spaceship to the vastness of space to some pretty funky alien landscapes.

    However, it’s colorist Marcio Menyz who really shines in this inaugural issue. Menyz showcases his considerable talent in the space scenes. Some of the standout colors include the glow of rocket engines and interstellar phenomena illuminate the pitch blackness of space. With colorful characters like Gamora, Rocket Raccoon and Drax, Menyz has a broad pallet to work with.

    I Am Groot #1 is only the first chapter of a larger story that hopefully reunites our wooden character with the rest of his team. It’s a story well worth reading and is highly recommend for fans of the character.

    I Am Groot #1, Marvel Comics, Released May 24, 2017, Written by Christopher Hastings; Art by Flaviano; Colors by Marcio Menyz; Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna; $3.99.

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    Ben Reilly: Not The Scarlet Spider You Knew

    Ben Reilly has appeared under many aliases since his introduction in The Amazing Spider-Man #149 (October 1975). Among them are Spider-Man, The Jackal, Spider-Carnage, and The Scarlet Spider. But as a clone of Peter Parker, Reilly was apparently killed at one point, sacrificing himself to save Parker’s life.

    In Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, a resurrected Reilly was revealed behind an Anubis mask, masquerading as The Jackal. By the end of the event, Reilly took back up the mantle of The Scarlet Spider, stealing a costume off a cosplayer and heading off to Vegas.

    Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1

    Peter David is no stranger to writing for the Spider-Family. In Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1, David picks up the story seamlessly right were Clone Conspiracy left off.

    The Controversy Has Only Just Begun

    In a desperate attempt to become the hero he feels Vegas deserves, Reilly tries to recreate Peter Parker’s life. His efforts to find his own versions of Mary Jane and Aunt May are two of the many high points in this chapter. Of course, things don’t quite work out to plan.

    Mark Bagley does a fantastic job creating three distinct looks for the faces of Reilly. The past Scarlet Spider phase has an innocent, bright appearance. His Jackal phase is dark and twisty. The current embattled and confused phase lands somewhere in between.

    Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1 is a great jumping on point for new readers. Unfamiliar readers are brought up to speed nicely with just the right amount of exposition. There’s plenty of meat on the bone for seasoned readers as well. This first chapter flows right out of the previous event.

    FOLLOW BEN REILLY’S ADVENTURES AND PRE-ORDER THE NEXT ISSUES

    Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1, Marvel Comics, Released April 26, 2017, Written by Peter David, Pencils by Mark Bagley, Inks by John Dell, Color by Jason Keith, Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna, $3.99

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    Cap’s New Past as a Hydra Double Agent Continues

    Steve Rogers shocked the world back in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, May 2016. While hurling his friend and ally to his presumed death, he uttered two words that nobody ever believed would come out of Captain America’s mouth. “Hail Hydra.”

    It has since been revealed that Red Skull used Kobik to turn Roger’s memory inside out. In his new recollection of events, Cap remembers learning Hydra’s ideals as a child in a special school. He also remembers befriending a young Helmut Zemo.

    Captain America Steve Rogers
    Captain America Steve Rogers

    In his head, Rogers returned to the United States and then became the first Super Soldier. It was perfect cover for Hydra’s ultimate spy.

    Baron Zemo Steals The Show

    Captain America: Steve Rogers #13 spends most of the chapter developing Baron Zemo’s character. In the buildup to Secret Empire, Nick Spencer delivers a fuller picture of just how highly Cap regards his friendship with Baron Zemo. Rogers will go so far as to stand between Bucky and Zemo in the middle of a firefight to keep them both alive.

    The flashback sequence teases a bigger conflict between Barnes and Zemo in the upcoming Secret Empire. A forced decision with mortal consequences between his two best friends could be the trigger that snaps Cap out of the fugue he’s been living in. We can hope, anyway.

    While this chapter is heavy on exposition, there are a few dynamic action scenes. The artwork is fantastic throughout. Baron Zemo’s arrogant indifference is telegraphed brilliantly, despite being a masked character.

    It’s hard to tell where the pencils of Ro Stein leave off and Ted Brandt’s begin. There is one sequence in particular that has four pages, sixteen panels, and zero dialogue. The artwork tells the entire story, and the reader has no difficulty following along.

    PRE-ORDER CAPTAIN AMERICA STEVE ROGERS #14 AND FIND OUT WHO’S BEEN PULLING ALL THE STRINGS

    Captain America Steve Rogers #13, Marvel Comics, Released March 8, 2017, Written by Nick Spencer, Art by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, Color by Rachelle Rosenberg, Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna, Cover by Arthur Adams and Jason Keith, $3.99

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    Girl. Genius. Hero. Unstoppable.

    Nadia Pym was introduced as The New Wasp in Free Comic Book Day 2016’s Civil War II. The next time she popped up was in All New All Different Avengers #9. In that issue, Nadia arrived at the Avengers’ hangar just as all hell was breaking loose. She claimed to be the daughter of Hank Pym, the original Ant Man.

    The Avengers had their doubts but Nadia quickly gained their trust. There was only one stipulation before she could join the team. Nadia needed permission from Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp, to use her gimmick.

    Science Ladies Having Science Adventures

    The Unstoppable Wasp #1 reintroduces Nadia Pym while she attempts to get her citizenship papers. Having spent her entire life in The Red Room, she has no birth certificate. She will have to prove her lineage to remain in the U.S. legally. Nadia’s citizenship interview will have to wait, however. A giant robot attacks the city just as she finishes spinning her tale to the interviewer.

    Writer Jeremy Whitley (Princeless) serves up a teenage female role model in a new and refreshing way. Nadia Pym is the exact opposite of what you would expect. After everything this kid has been through, you would think she’d be bitter and righteously angry. Instead, she’s this beaming ray of pure, innocent altruism. She’s ridiculously smart, but she’s also a naïve teenager who’s never spent a day in the real world.

    The artwork is fun to look at. There’s a level of whimsy in the script that Elsa Charretier (Power Rangers, Starfire) and Megan Wilson bring to the page. There are a few awesome layouts with brilliant use of subpanels and gutters.

    The Unstoppable Wasp is an outstanding new series full of hope and optimism. Nadia Pym may be superficially aimed at teen girls, but her attitude and capability transcend age and gender.

    SEE WHAT’S IN STORE NEXT FOR NADIA. PRE-ORDER UNSTOPPABLE WASP #2 and #3

    Unstoppable Wasp #1, Marvel Comics, Released January 4, 2017, Rated T+, Story by Jeremy Whitley, Art by Elsa Charretier, Colors by Megan Wilson, Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna, $3.99

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    Batman and TMNT Join Forces

    New Comic Book Day Nov 9 2016

    It’s Wednesday, and that means there are new comic book releases to talk about! Check out our other New Comic Book Day blog articles to see our thoughts on previous new releases. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Batman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1
    By: Matthew K. Manning, Jon Sommariva

    Combining my favorite iteration of Batman with the most fun version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures gives us the ’90s Batman Animated Series combined with the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. What we get is a great sense of nostalgia, combined with the upbeat sensibilities the Turtles are known for. So basically, a good time.

    Matthew K. Manning weaves a plot that sets our two worlds of heroes onto the same case in a way that respects Batman’s detective skills and the turtle’s penchant for always getting themselves into trouble. Jon Sommariva’s art does a great job of combining the very distinctive art styles from both worlds into one that makes it feel like they belong together. Where IDW and DC had these two comic book versions of the characters recently crossover, having the light-hearted and more commercially known versions of these two classic franchises join forces is a great breath of fresh air for the kid at heart. [Mikey N. at TFAW.com]

    PICK UP THE COMIC INSPIRED BY YOUR TOY BATTLES
    VISIT OUR SPECIAL BATMAN PAGE
    VISIT OUR SPECIAL TMNT PAGE

    Flash #10
    By: Joshua Williamson, Felipe Watanabe, Oclair Albert, Chris Sotomayor, Steve Wands, Carmine Di Giandomencio

    Heroics are hard. Having fantastic powers is great, but it doesn’t make one a hero. Barry Allen has been training Wally West how to use his powers, but The Flash #7 shows us that there’s more to heroics than simply running fast.

    Over the decades, The Flash has learned valuable lessons on how to save the people of Central City; he’s now using those years of experience and imparting wisdom upon Kid Flash. It’s as if Joshua Williamson is distilling decades worth of comics into digestible pieces for a new generation of comics fans.

    Williamson introduces two new Rogues, and this story promises to take us to places we’ve never gone before. I am excited to keep reading. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    PICK UP THIS ISSUE OF THE FLASH & DISCOVER OTHER GREAT FLASH BOOKS

    Archer & Armstrong #9
    By: Rafer Roberts, Mike Norton, Brian Level

    A&A #9 serves as a jump on point for new readers. “Andromeda Estranged” kicks off a new arc that sets our heroes in a history lesson. You see, Earth and humans, they’re a strange anomaly within the universe. The “creators,” as we learn, didn’t mean for us to be created. They tried to steer us in the right direction but greed and power (as it always seems to) corrupted us.

    Valiant is known for creating good jumping-on points for new readers and this issue is no exception. Rafer Roberts has been doing an excellent job with this series. Issue #9 is no exception. Penciler Mike Norton and Colorist Allen Passalaqua within the first few pages have a visually striking style that works with the context, (thanks to Ryan Lee) a James Stokoe grit if you will. Once we’re back in our world, however, they go to a more familiar style that Archer & Armstrong fans are used to. [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    GRAB THIS BUDDY COP COMEDY FROM VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT!

    WWE Then Now Forever #1
    By: Dennis Hopeless, Dan Mora, Ross Thibodeaux, Rob Guillory, Rob Shamberger, Derek Fridolfs, Daniel Bayliss

    As a fan of professional wrestling growing up, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this issue from BOOM! Studios new WWE series. WWE: Then. Now. Forever #1. This is a reader’s first introduction to the new comic world that weaves in and out of actual stories from the WWE. This compilation issue collects a story by Dennis Hopeless about Seth Rollins’ rise and fall with his team, The Shield. Along with short stories featuring The New Day, Sasha Banks, and Tugboat. This issue also collects the San Diego Comic Con exclusive one-page stories featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, The New Day, Sasha Banks, The Undertaker, and Dusty Rhodes.

    Headed up by a huge list of creators, this book takes the fandom seriously in some stories, has a whole lot of fun in others, and finds itself incredibly inspirational. The heroes, the heels, the over the top performances, and the drama that fans of professional wrestling have come to love and crave are all found here. If you’ve ever been a fan of any era of the WWE, WWE: Then. Now. Forever is a book for you. [Mikey N. at TFAW.com]

    DON’T TAP OUT GRAB WWE: THEN. NOW. FOREVER TODAY!

    Captain America Steve Rogers #7
    By: Nick Spencer, Jesus Saiz, Joe Caramagna, Stephanie Hans

    Steve Rogers’ reality has been secretly rewritten by a sentient Cosmic Cube known as Kobik. He is now an agent of HYDRA.

    That’s all the background you need to jump aboard Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’s Steve Rogers Captain America. Cap is no longer the bastion of freedom and morality; he’s been corrupted, and this allows Spencer to explore some important themes that his predecessors never have. Steve Rogers Captain America #7 is the start to a new arc, so now’s a good time to join along.

    Saiz’s art is expressive and emotional, particularly when it comes to depicting the book’s tyrants–the Red Skull and the bullies of 1935 that were a part of the machine that gave rise to his HYDRA regime.

    I can’t help but have optimism about the future of this comic and really, really look forward to getting our Steve Rogers back in the saddle again. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    VISIT OUR CAPTAIN AMERICA PAGE

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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    Darth Vader #25: The Force is Strong With This One

    Marvel’s adventures of Darth Vader ends with a bang, not a whimper.

    With many loose threads hanging from the previous two years’ worth of comics, writer Kieron Gillen has his work cut out for him in the the final issue of the Darth Vader series. Vader must deal with personal and professional betrayers and a boss who is still unsure of Vader’s abilities and commitment following the destruction of the first Death Star.

    While Vader’s motivations haven’t always been clear to the reader during the run of the Star Wars: Darth Vader comic book series, it’s now apparent that the Sith master — as well Gillen –- were playing the long game. By the end of the book, Vader has masterfully dealt with his enemies and firmly established himself as the Emperor’s trusted confidant. He’s also clearly now the quintessential bad guy depicted in The Empire Strikes Back.

    In a nice bit of irony, we see Vader choke an incompetent imperial officer and put Admiral Ozzel in command of his flagship. Vader kills Ozzel himself in a scene that’s reminiscent of Episode V. Artist Salvador Larroca’s depiction of every character and setting is spot on, giving the reader the feeling of actually being in a Star Wars movie.

    We leave Vader staring into the cosmos planning for the inevitable reunion with his son, Luke Skywalker. In his imagination, he reaches out to Luke’s hand -– the very one he would sever in Cloud City -– and simply says, “Soon.”

    The oversized issue also includes a coda of sorts, where artist Max Fiumara masterfully depicts Tatooine’s Tusken raiders’ reaction to the Sith Lord. The last page is fitting, with the Sandpeople seen worshipping their enemy. It’s a feeling that many of us have once we close this chapter of Marvel’s Star Wars story.

    SEE DARTH VADER COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
    VISIT OUR SPECIAL STAR WARS SECTION

    EDITOR’S NOTE 10/21/16 (SPOILERS AHEAD):

    If wish to avoid spoilers, wait until you read Darth Vader #25 before you click the above or below links. The Star Wars Classified series has been renamed, and features a fan-favorite character from the Darth Vader series!

    JOIN THE NEW STAR WARS COMIC BOOK SERIES

    Darth Vader #25, Marvel, Released October 5, 2016, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Salvador Larroca, colors by Edgar Delgado, letters by Joe Caramagna; $5.99.

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    Review: Darth Vader #24 — Vader Strikes Back

    Review of Darth Vader #24

    Darth Vader #24As Marvel’s Darth Vader series draws to an end with this penultimate issue, our anti-hero finds himself at the mercy of the traitorous scientist Cylo, who has managed to shut down the cybernetic suit that keeps the former Anakin Skywalker alive.

    Facing death, Vader spends much of this issue reliving his disastrous lightsaber battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi, which led to Vader’s imprisonment in the suit. This is one of the few times in the new series that refers back to the prequels. But even if you hated Episodes 1 through 3, you’ll appreciate the conflict rising with the Dark Lord of the Sith.

    In many ways, Vader’s true fight is not with Cylo, but with the young Jedi he used to be. By the end of the issue, any vestiges of Anakin are banished (at least until Return of the Jedi).

    While light on text, the issue shines a spotlight on artist Salvador Larroca’s drawings. The book makes good use of full pages to reimagine the lightsaber battle on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. Anakin’s rage is just as obvious thanks to the talents of Larroca and writer Kieron Gillen, as it was from the feature film.

    With only one issue left, Gillen and team have a lot to wrap up. When they do, it will be with a bigger badder Vader.

    Darth Vader #24, Marvel Comics, Released August 10, 2016, Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Salvador Larroca, Color by Edgar Delgado, Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna; $3.99.

    Review by Tom Smithyman

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    Review: Mockingbird #5

    Review of Mockingbird #5

    Mockingbird #5Mockingbird is a series that seems to have it all. A butt-kicking, intelligent, funny heroine. Light plotlines with a hint of something more menacing to come. Guest stars aplenty. And now with issue 5, zombies!

    Bobbi Morse’s Mockingbird spends much of this issue battling the undead while trying to escape a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. medical clinic located stories beneath New York’s Chelsea Market. In the process, she runs into the likes of Spider-Man (the Miles Morales version) and Howard the Duck. (The eagle-eyed reader may also spot artist Ibrahim Moustafa’s Hulk-on-a-toilet in-joke.)

    As usual, Mockingbird doesn’t need to wait for a male hero to rescue her. From nearly the first panel, she’s taking matters into her own hands by taking out zombies while trying to understand the mysterious illness that may be threatening her life. In fact, it’s the fighting that takes Morse’s mind off of the rest of her troubled life and gives her something to focus on. She admits that the fighting makes her happy.

    As usual in this series, humor abounds. Writer Chelsea Cain keeps Mockingbird light, cracking more quips in a few pages than are usually crammed into an entire issue of Spider-Man (Parker, not Morales). But the surprising humor comes from studying Moustafa’s artwork. Although it’s a departure from the previous penciler Kate Niemozyk, it’s filled with jokes, from the awful flowered wallpaper in the doctor’s offices to the almost unnoticeable “Stressed out?” sign with a picture of the Hulk.

    The issue ends with somewhat of a resolution to Morse’s ongoing illness – though it’s probably not what you were thinking. The good news is that she will be back for more happy fighting.

    Mockingbird #5, Marvel Comics, Released July 27, 2016, Written by Chelsea Cain, Art by Ibrahim Moustafa, Color by Rachelle Rosenberg, Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna; $3.99.

    Review by Tom Smithyman.

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    Review: Captain America: Steve Rogers #3

    Review of Captain America - Steve Rogers #3

    Captain America #3The Captain America: Steve Rogers title had made a lot of news lately with the seemingly impossible revelation that Cap has been a sleeper agent for the evil Hydra organization. Having learned the reason for this improbable transition previously – that ended with Cap pushing an ally out of a plane while declaring, “Hail Hydra” – this issue picks up with the Captain reporting in to Red Skull, the founder of the evil empire.

    Cap goes so far as to draw a multi-armed hydra on his ripped chest and kneels before the crimson baddie to show his dedication. It’s disturbing for this symbol of America to bow before what’s essentially a Nazi, and to have him taking order from his arch enemy.

    The artwork from Jesus Saiz is straightforward and doesn’t distract with extraneous details. But its colorist Rachelle Rosenberg who brings the issue to life. When we flash back to young Steve and his mother being indoctrinated into Hydra in the 1930s, we’re haunted by a shade of red. From a red sky to a crimson scarf to blood-red water, the specter of the Red Skull constantly casts a shadow across the family’s history.

    It’s a remarkable storyline that writer Nick Spencer is taking us
    through. Cap has been through a lot over the years (suspended hibernation, the death of multiple colleagues, rapid aging, his own death) but never has he had to fight the evil within himself.

    That’s a fight worth watching.

    Captain America: Steve Rogers #3, Marvel Comics, Released July 27, 2016, Written by Nick Spencer, Art by Jesus Saiz, Color by Rachelle Rosenberg, Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna; $3.99.

    Review by Tom Smithyman

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    Review: Mockingbird #4

    mockingbird #4 coverReunited – and it feels so good. Well, mostly good. For a while anyway.

    That’s the sentiment in the newest issue of Mockingbird, which reteams the troubled SHIELD agent with her one-time husband, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. As Bobbi Morse’s Mockingbird is researching the mysterious illness that is threatening her life, she comes across a not-so-secret underwater base teaming with evil scientist-terrorists. As well as a certain bow-wielding Avenger.

    They are reminded why they were such a good team – and ultimately why they split. Writer Chelsea Cain nails the dynamic between the lovers. It’s never too serious, but you always know they care about each other. She even sprinkles in a little backstory to humorously help move the pair out of a sticky situation.

    Cain also adds plenty of lightheartedness to the series. Instead of SHIELD’s usual menace, Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), Mockingbird and Hawkeye battle Total Idea Mechanics (TIM). “So basically you’re AIM but in a different color suit,” says Mockingbird, who apparently is in on the joke.

    What’s also refreshing about the series is that this character, despite having no super powers, can hold her own with the big boys (emphasis on boys). She rescues the gentleman in distress, not the other way around. She’s the one cracking jokes while beating up the baddies and as a scientist, she’s not waiting for some deus ex machina for a cure. She’s doing the research herself. There’s little doubt, when her life is saved in a future issue, she’ll only have herself to blame.

    Mockingbird #4, Marvel Comics, Released June 29, 2016, Written by Chelsea Cain, Art by Kate Niemozyk, Color by Rachelle Rosenberg, Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna; $3.99.

    Review by Tom Smithyman

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    Review: Darth Vader #22

    Review of Darth Vader #22

    darth vader #22When we last left Darth Vader, he was left to deal with a monster from the original Star Wars trilogy – the dreaded Rancor. Lured into a trap by the traitor Cylo, Vader must deal with biomechanically enhanced Rancor – a similar beast that Luke Skywalker had to defeat in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi.

    Darth Vader #22’s fundamental conflict, though, pits religion versus science. Can Cylo pawn Tulon Voidgazer’s Rancor defeat Vader and his reliance on the Force? It echoes the classic scene from Episode IV, when Admiral Motti challenges Vader’s “sorcerer’s ways,” right before Vader uses the Force to choke him. This time, though, the Rancor uses science to stymie Vader’s Force choke. But since this is a series with a Force user as the main character, you can probably figure out how things turn out.

    The series, which is coming to an end with issue #25, has been a high point for the Marvel titles, which were re-introduced in 2015 (and now considered canon). Faced with the embarrassment of losing the Death Star at the battle of Yavin, Vader has scheming to get back into the good graces of the Emperor.

    Familiar faces like the Rancor hearken back to what we loved about the movies. And unique characters like the murderous droids Triple-Zero and Beetee have turned our expectations on their head. There’s no doing things for the good of the Rebellion here. These droids love to murder humanoids.

    With only three issues left in the series, we’re left with a cliffhanger. We know that Vader will survive, but the seeing him deal with new characters and situations make us wish for just a little bit more Force in our lives.

    Darth Vader #22, Marvel Comics, Released June 29, 2016, Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Salvador Larroca, Color by Edgar Delgado, Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna; $3.99.

    Review by Tom Smithyman

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