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Graphic Breakdown: The ‘A’ List

Welcome back to Graphic Breakdown!

This is one of my favorite weeks for comic books ever!

Why? Read on!

 

Mage III: The Hero Denied #1
Written and Illustrated by Matt Wagner
Published by Image Comics

Matt Wagner’s epic begins its final chapter right here!

This is a story that’s been 33 years in the making! It’s so damn cool to see Kevin Matchstick back in comics. The first series was about a hero starting up. The second series was about a hero in his prime. The third series seems to be about Kevin as a hero who doesn’t want to do it anymore.

It’s been some time since we’ve last seen Kevin and since he last used his powers. He seems reluctant to be the hero. Dark forces are gathering of course that won’t let him be.

The first issue sets this all up and away we go!

The writing is top notch. I never know where Wagner is going, and the same holds true here. It always ends up being satisfying. The art is awesome.

Wagner is one of those rare creators who I don’t mind dubbing as “a master of the comic book form.”

RATING: A

 

The Other Side: Special Edition HC
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Cameron Stewart
Published by Image Comics

This is the book that was the breakout book for writer Jason Aaron. He has gone on to huge success with Marvel and DC. It all started here with this tale of the Vietnam War. It’s a magnetic book that you won’t be able to put down.

The story focuses on two men from two different opposing sides. One is Bill Everette, a man from Alabama who lives on a farm. Bill gets drafted into the Marine Corps. We see the war through Bill’s eyes and the horror he experiences

We also see the war through the eyes of a Vietnamese soldier named Vo Binh Dai. We see him come from his farm life to become a soldier. The contrast between the two lives of these soldiers is incredible. Aaron handles it like a pro from the very beginning. It’s unflinching.

The book is also responsible for bringing Cameron Stewart to prominence as an artist. His work here is incredible as well as emotional and well done.

Pick this up. One of the best re-releases of the year. You need this in your collection.

RATING: A

 

Motor Crush, Vol. 1 TPB
Written by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr
Illustrated by Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr
Published by Image Comics

Speaking of Cameron Stewart, one of the best new series of last year is collected here. And of course, one of the people involved is the great Cameron Stewart! It’s a great adrenaline fueled book with amazing art.

It’s reasonably priced as well and deserves to be in your comic book collection.

Domino Swift is our main character here. She is a racer during the day. She competes, in fact, with a worldwide racing league. At night however things change for Domino. She becomes a vigilante trying to get a rare form of contraband: it’s an engine-boosting “machine narcotic” known as Crush.

With this concept, the creative team takes off with gusto.

It’s hard to tell who does what here (writing, art etc) because it’s everyone working on everything.

The storytelling is fantastic. It moves like no other comic book you have read. That’s all well and good but the team has created one hell of a compelling book as well. Pick this up. It’s comic book excellence.

RATING: A

 

Sexcastle TPB
Written and Illustrated by Kyle Starks
Published by Image Comics

This is a new edition of the cult classic comic book. I had never read it before so I was pleased to read it. It had a wonky story and some really excellent storytelling. It fell a little short for me at the end but it’s a decent read overall.

This book deals with a 1980s kind of hero named Shane Sexcastle.

Shane used to be the world’s deadliest assassin. He has since retired after killing the Vice President. He decides to leave that life behind and settle down and sell flowers in a quiet town. He won’t put up with any fools so when some of the townspeople cause problems he’s ready to lay down the law.

Starks is a wonderful creator. Everything here is well paced. The setups are fun and full of invention and most pay off. It also gets surprisingly deep and emotional.

This is a great book. Pick it up.

RATING: A-

 

Loved & Lost Anthology
Written by Tyler Chin-Tanner and Illustrated by Various
Published by A Blue Wave World

Wow this book is good. This was a Kickstarter book that I wish I knew about so I could throw support their way. This book is one of the highest quality books I’ve seen that has been produced in a long time off that fundraising site.

The stories all involve the theme of falling in love. Some end up happier than others.

Tyler Chin-Tanner writes all of these stories with passion. It’s clear he loves the form. There are nine stories in total and each story has incredibly well developed characters.

Some of the artists on each story are better than others. The two stand out artists are Ayesegul Sinav on the second chapter (who is reminiscent of J. Scott Campbell) and Jeannette Langmead on the final chapter.

An excellent book through and through and one hell of an accomplishment.

RATING: A-

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