Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte by Joe Benitez

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Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte by Joe Benetiz proves beyond a doubt that this is Benetiz’s character and he has a firm handle on developing Lady Mechanika into one of the few Steampunk characters that will transcend into the mainstream. Whether that be in comic form only or in all literature.

Reeling from the death of her closest friend and confidante, Lady Mechanika leaves England for a small town in Mexico where she can hide away and find solace. She needs time to grieve and deal with the guilt she feels. She finds that she has arrived just in time for a festival and though she would like to stay alone in her room, she is enticed by the family she is staying with to take part in the celebration for the Dia de los Muertos. The festival for the dead. It seems just the thing to ease her pain.

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But the festival turns into a time of horror as a young bleeding boy wanders into the town. He is the lone survivor of the Jinetes del Infierno, the mythical Hell Riders. They are on their way to take thier payment from the village. They cannot be opposed but Lady Mechanika cannot sit back and allow them to pillage the small town. But can even she stand against these supernatural creatures?

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One of the more put together and well plotted stories so far from Benitez and crew. Lady Mechanika flows seamlessly into Mexican culture and takes the helm as the Lady of Death during the time of Day of the Dead. Benitez has actually humanized her more than ever for this book, allowing her humanity to outshine her mechanical attributes for this tale.

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The villains are well constructed and evil beyond reproach. The horror they do to the weaker townspeople is repugnant and even more so as we learned their past and their secrets. This is an old west kind of comic, with the lone hero protecting the village from the oncoming marauders. Benitez has adapted this tale well into his comic and Mechanika is terrific.

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Another well written and beautifully drawn series.

X-O Manowar: Soldier

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X-O Manowar (2017) Volume 1: Soldier by Matt Kindt is another example of what makes Valiant one of the better comic book publishing houses around today. There is such a commitment to the integrity of the character and the story; it is unyielding to the trends of the marketplace. That may have hurt them from time to time, but overall it has resulted in some of the best comic book stories you may have never read.

Aric of Dacia was born under the rule of the Roman Empire and was taught the art of war from an early age. It was during this time he was abducted by an alien race and forced into slavery. He escaped from bondage with the aid of a weapon of immense power. The X-O Manowar armor. With the armor he returned to modern day Earth.

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But that was long ago and Aric has tired of war and battle. He has left Earth and the begun a new life as a farmer on a faraway world. With the armor put aside he believes he has found peace. But war once again finds him and he is taken into slavery to fight for a new and tyrannical regime. The peace Aric has sought eludes him and once again he takes up the armor and once again he becomes a weapon of power. They thought they could control him and make him battle for them but they were terribly wrong. Aric was a weapon, but now he is the embodiment of war.

Created in 1992 by Jim Shooter, X-O Manowar is a character that is far to intricate for the larger publishing houses to carry and is one of those brilliant and detailed characters that can only come from an independent publisher.

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Soldier is a good starting point for new readers to get to know Aric and with such strong writing and classic artwork, one they will not only follow but hunt down back issue tales!

A really good comic!

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Old Man Logan #25 – Days of Anger

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The original tale of Old Man Logan, written by Mark Millar, first came to light in June of 2008. It told the story of Wolverine, now turned pacifist, living out his remaining days farming with his wife and children. He has vowed to never release his claws again or to cause anybody harm. Haunted by his actions during the takeover of the world by the supervillains. But farming is a rough life and Logan is finding it tough to make ends meet and soon enough the rent is due on his farm. Due to Bruce Banner and his descendants. The Hulk Gang. He takes one final mission, with his old friend Hawkeye and they set out on a quest across the wasteland that was once America. When he returns, with enough money to pay the rent due, he finds his family horrifically slaughtered. The blood on the hands of the Hulk Gang. This drives Logan to finally unleash the Wolverine and what follows is perhaps one of the greatest Hulk vs Wolverine battles ever to hit the comic book page.

Now to the current rash of Old Man Logan books. After the confusing dimension hopping of Marvel’s latest Secret War, Old Man Logan finds himself awake in the current time, the X-Men still alive and a young female Wolverine having taken his mantle. That is fine with Logan, it is a new opportunity for Logan to put right what he lost in the Wastelands. Another chance at a family.

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But in Old Man Logan we find out that Logan is not the only thing to make the leap across dimensions and to his horror, he finds that the Hulk family from his time and his desolate world, have followed. Now Logan knows what he must do. For the Hulks, they are hiding until they become strong enough to take on the world. They know they are hunted, having just seen Bruce Banner of this time murdered by the Avenger known as Hawkeye. But for some of them, the opportunity to exact vengeance on their nemesis is too much to let go.

Now the battle will begin. Now are the Days of Anger.

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Wow, really freaking wow. This is one of those books that most comic book fans will miss. But for those of us who recognize the genius of Millar’s Old Man Logan, we recognize this as the first in what is hopefully a series of books that will bring this character back.

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Then add to the Hulk Gang. A gang of vicious rampaging Hulks.

Yeah, get ready for a bloody damn war!

Silver Sable

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Silver Sable was created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz back in June of 1985 and first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #265. Sable is often an ally to Spider-Man but occasionally, her methods and who is paying her will put her at odds with Spidey and the other heroes of Marvel Universe.

Silver Sable, born Silver Sablinova, is a mercenary, war criminal hunter, leader of the Wolf Pack and CEO of Silver Sable International. She witnessed the killing of her mother by her father’s enemies. Her father, Ernst Sablinov, was a Nazi hunter. After her mother’s death she trained her body and mind into that of an elite assassin.

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Sable’s activities as a mercenary, along with her team the Wolf Pack support the European state of Symkaria, her homeland. Symkaria is bordered by the country of Latveria, the home of Dr. Doom. Sable is known for her ice cold persona and absolute control over her emotions. Sable has worked not only with her own team but alongside such notables as Spider-Man, the Punisher, Captain America, Luke Cage and the Daredevil. As well as having formed unlikely alliances with Venom, Sandman and Deadpool. Outside of mercenary work, Sable continues her father’s work and hunts down war criminals. The very kind of people who murdered her mother.

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After the Avengers are defeated by the Sinister Six, Sable recues Spider-man and the Black Widow, but is drowned in a final battle with the Rhino. But this being comics, she is later discovered to be alive and using her death as a cover so that she can hunt war criminals in anonymity.

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Upon a closer look, Silver Sable is actually the closest Marvel has come to Batman. No superpowers, dead parent and an obsessive need to punish evil doers. A highly skilled fighter who is also a CEO of a major conglomerate with funds to wage a personal war.

A movie is in the works from Sony right now called Silver and Black. It is to go along with the Spider-Man film franchise that is kicking off and will feature Silver Sable and the Black Cat. That should be fun!

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Clean Room, Volume 1: Immaculate Conception by Gail Simone

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Clean Room, Volume 1: Immaculate Conception by Gail Simone is an acquired taste and one that is well worth nurturing. Simone, one of the more successful female comic book writers around, having delivered some of the better Batgirl stories brings her own twist of horror/sci-fi to the Vertigo label with Clean Room. A tale of cults and fame and things that go bump in the night.

Astrid Mueller was a young child, walking with her family on the way to church when the truck ran her over in front of everyone. And then everyone watched as the driver purposely backed up and ran her over one more time. The accident that nearly crippled the child, also, in addition to the physical pain, changed Astrid in other ways as well.

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Chloe Pierce was a journalist or had been at one time. That was before she had come home and found her fiancee Philip dead, half his face blown away by a bullet to the head. Self-inflicted. Three months before, Philip had picked up a self-help book by a guru, the new leader of a cult like group that had been gaining popularity. Frequented by celebrities and society elite, the guru, promises to help with her clients problems and stress and gain them an inner peace. But some of her clients cannot live with the enlightenment she shows. Some of her clients, like Chloe’s fiancee Philip, end up violently dead.

The guru is a fully grown, Astrid Mueller.

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Now Chloe is determined to learn the truth behind Astrid and her organization and the suicides and the secret whispers she has heard of a place, where your darkest and deepest fears come to life. Where your worst moments are revealed. Your secrets exposed and laid bare. A place they call the Clean Room.

But is Astrid Mueller the truly evil person Chloe suspects her of being, or is Astrid the only thing that stands between the world and true evil?

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I loved this graphic novel and has me pining to read the rest of these comics. Simone fills her book with characters that are intricately woven with emotions. Pain, grief, angst, and desire leap off the pages and the artwork of Jon Davis-Hunt blends these thoughts and words seamlessly. The plot grabs the reader and in no rush, builds in tension and horror as layers are peeled back. Clean Room, like the best comics, reads like a book. With really good artwork. It honors the genre of graphic novel but in no way accepts being limited by it. It is a book, if missed, that demands to be found and read.

This is what Vertigo was made for. The stories that steered just this mad side of mainstream comics. What Image has picked up and is currently doing so well. Only Vertigo has been doing it all along.

A terrific read!

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Moonshine by Brian Azzarello

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Moonshine, Vol. 1 by Brian Azzarello is another in a line of terrific Image Comic titles that remind us of what makes the smaller distributors of comics (not Marvel or DC) so great. Years ago, a tale like Moonshine would have been relegated to the back rows of comic books, hidden behind doors and stacked under a sign depicting age restrictions and stamped with adult themes of sex and violence. And the supernatural. Or worse, so heavily censored that it would have lost its very soul, and soul is something Azzarello infuses into his storytelling. Soul. Dark and gritty yes. Violent and lustful yes. But soul none the less.

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Its the Prohibition era and mob pretty boy, Lou Pirlo is sent from New York City by Mob Boss Joe Masseria to the backwoods of Appalachia, to find and deal with the best Moonshiner in West Virginia, Hiram Holt. Lou has always been a pretty boy, brought in to make the room look good but never ever given any thing real to do. This is the first time the Boss has given Lou any responsibility. The first time he’s put any faith in Pirlo. Lou figures this for an easy job. Just drive up into the hills and make a deal with some back wood hillbillies.

What Lou finds is a family that is as dark and violent as the mob he represents. A man in Hiram Holt who is not ready to give up control of the moonshine operation that he built. What Lou finds is that there is far more in the hills of Appalachia, far greater secrets than the moonshine. What Lou finds is the stuff of nightmares and children stories. What Lou finds in himself, caught in the crossfires of a violent war with no way out.

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The team of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Russo, who brought us the Eisner award winning 100 Bullets, team up again for this crime noire horror tale that is sure to delight old fans and raise the eyebrows of new ones. This is storytelling. This is comic books at its finest. You don’t need tights or robotic suits to tell a good story, you don’t need Infinity Wars and Clone Sagas. Sometimes all you need is a gangster, a dark night in the woods and a secret that nightmares are made out of.

And some moonshine.

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