Robert Venditti’s X-O Manowar Volume 1 Review by Eugene Alejandro

For anyone that want’s to start reading X-O Manowar (Valiants flagship title), Robert Venditti’s run is the perfect start. It is a brilliant revival of the character, and an awesome way for Valiant to come back to the comic book industry (along with the other titles they revived).

The first volume of Robert Venditti’s X-O Manowar run (which the story is named By The Sword) collects issues 1-4, and is a good first story arc to his entire run on the character.

The story begins in Italy 402 A.D., as we see the Visigoths fighting against the Romans in order to prevent them from taking over their land. The Romans prove to be too powerful for the Visigoths, so the Visigoths decide to retreat by order of their King (and Uncle to the primary protagonist).

Aric of Dacia (the primary protagonist of the entire X-O Manowar series and heir to the Visigoth throne) decides to disobey orders, and he (along with a few soldiers and his father) began fighting the Romans. While Aric is fighting the Romans, he see’s his father get stabbed by one of the Roman soldiers. Aric then decides to save his father, and retreat to the Visigoth camp. While at the camp, Aric’s father dies from the stab wound.

Afterwords, Aric hears news that the Romans are at the Western Barricade, and decides to join in on finding and destroying the Romans that are there in order to avenge his father. While Aric and the group of Visigoth soldiers make it to the Western Barricade, they see a transport ship and soldiers that they mistaken for the Romans. The Visigoth Soldiers and Aric attack the unknown soldiers, but end up losing due to the enemies advanced weaponry. Aric and the rest of the survivors are then taken to the transport ship and arrive at the colony ship in outer space.

Aric and another Visigoth break free and try to escape. While they are looking for a way to escape the colony ship, they see a ritual in which the beings that kidnapped them have chosen one of their own to wear “The Armor of Shanhara”. It seems to work at first, but the armor ends up killing the host. Aric and the other Visigoth are then caught by the strange beings, and are taken to a prison cell. 

Two days have passed, and Aric and rest of the Visigoths have been used as slaves by the strange beings in order to work in the gardens that the colony ship has. Aric tries to fight one of the unknown beings in order to help one of his friends, but ends up getting his left hand chopped off. Years have passed since then, and Aric has made a plan from him and the other Visigoth’s to escape the colony ship. The plan works, and Aric and the Visigoth’s begin fighting their way to freedom. Aric ends up encountering “The Armor of Shanhara”, the armor beings merging with him, it looks like he dies at first, but he wakes up now wearing “The Armor of Shanhara”.

Aric easily learns how to control the armor, he starts to understand the language of the extraterrestrial beings, and his left hand grows back. While the escape seems to be going even better now that Aric is wearing the Shanhara armor, the enemy detonate some bombs that end up killing all the Visigoth’s that were with Aric. This angers Aric.

Aric does what he can to fight off the beings that kidnapped him and the Visigoth’s, but he ends up taking too much damage from the enemies power. Before it seems like he’s going to die, Aric ends up teleporting to earth (specifically Rome, Italy). The Italian government see’s Aric as a threat, so they send their army to take him down. Aric of Dacia easily defeats the soldiers. After fighting the army, Aric discovers that he’s been aboard the colony ship for 16 centuries. He then flies off to somewhere else in the hopes of finding the answers he needs. I will not spoil the ending for it’s an excellent way to set up the next volume.

Robert Venditti has done a spectacular job on redefining X-O Manowar for the modern comic book readers as he has shown that a forgotten character can be brought back in the best way possible.

The art by Cary Nord is very detailed and fits the story well.

Robert Venditti writes Aric of Darcia as a very human character as the readers can sympathize with him as he has lost what he truly cared about. Which is why I think that Robert Venditti is a very good writer to be writing this character. He’s also done a great job on making X-O Manowar a truly awesome and memorable character that will be remembered in the comic book industry.

Robert Venditti’s run on X-O Manowar is a series that should never be missed, and X-O Manowar Volume 1: By The Sword is a good start. If your a fan of the old X-O Manowar series, a fan of the old Valiant comics in general, or someone that never read any Valiant comic, please start reading Robert Venditti’s X-O Manowar. You won’t be disappointed. 

I give Robert Venditti’s X-O Manowar Volume 1 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

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The Autumnlands Volume 1: Tooth and Claw Review by Eugene Alejandro

If you are someone that wants to read a good fantasy comic, look no further. Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey’s The Autumnlands from Image Comics is a good example of a phenomenal comic book series in the fantasy genre for it has well-written characters, great artwork, and an amazing story. The Autumnlands Volume 1: Tooth and Claw is a six issue story, and is an overall brilliant first story arc for the entire series.

The story in The Autumnlands Volume 1: Tooth and Claw is that in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, also exists magic. The magic in the world of The Autumnlands is fading which will cause the world to die. In order to prevent this from happening, a group of wizards summon “The Great Champion” to help their world from facing destruction. I would like to explain more, but I don’t want to because I really want people to read this series without being overly spoiled about it.

What makes The Autumnlands an amazing comic is how well of a job it does at establishing it’s own universe (especially in the first volume).

Benjamin Dewey’s artwork is very detailed, and it show’s amazing work from someone that’s new to the comic book industry.

Kurt Busiek’s writing is very top-notch, and allows the story to be incredible with amazing characters, good twists, and lot’s of creativity. His writing is also very good because he allows The first volume of The Autumnlands to succeed in being a brilliant beginning to the entire series as it the characters and story are well-developed.

My one problem with The Autumnlands is the lettering. While the lettering itself is done well, the speech bubbles don’t have black lines around them. This means whenever there’s a panel with a white background, the speech bubbles blend in and it causes confusion for the reader as it looks like the characters are speaking in their mind rather than from their mouths.

What I really appreciate about the Autumnlands is the fact that a big name well-established writer like Kurt Busiek has allowed a rising talent such as Benjamin Dewey to collaborate with him. Hopefully this series will allow Benjamin Dewey to become the superstar artist that he deserves to be.

The Autumnlands is a brilliant fantasy comic and Volume 1: Tooth and Claw is a phenomenal first story arc. 

I give The Autumnlands Volume 1: Tooth and Claw Two Thumbs  Up, and 5/5 Stars.

Fairy Tail: The Manga Volume 1 Review by Eugene Alejandro

For anyone that wants to start reading manga, Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail from Kodansha is one of the many manga series that I recommend.

Fairy Tail is a fun fantasy story with great artwork, brilliant writing, and great humor that makes it perfect for everyone to enjoy. In order to start reading Fairy Tail, the best (and obvious) choice is start all the way from Volume 1.

Volume 1 of the Fairy Tail Manga collects the first 4 chapters of when it was being serialized in the Weekly Shonen Magazine, and is an overall great beginning for the entire series. What makes Fairy Tail Volume 1 work is how well it sets up the main protagonists, and how each chapter ends with the reader wanting to immediately read the next chapter (which is what almost all the chapters do).

Fairy Tail Volume 1 (and the whole series in general) is filled with brilliant comedic moments that add to the fact that it’s a story that doesn’t need to take itself seriously. It does however, have times when the story gets serious, but it happens so that the story can be engaging.

As I mentioned earlier, the artwork for Fairy Tail is really good and is very impressive for the first volume (later on, the artwork starts to become slightly even better with future volumes). I’ll go as far as to say that Hiro Mashima is the Frank Cho of manga as his art shows that he’s skilled at drawing Animals, Voluptuous Women, and Muscular Men.

Fairy Tail Volume 1 also has a very huge easter egg from Hiro Mashima’s earlier Manga Rave Master (I can’t spoil it. You have to read it to know what I’m talking about).

Before I forget to mention, the English language translation by William Flanagan is one of the best and proper translations I’ve ever seen in a manga, and I’m happy to see that this man is getting the work he deserves.

The bonus features at the end that volume 1 includes are very interesting with one of them showing that one of the main characters Natsu Dragneel was originally suppose to be a horned spirit instead of a human fire wizard.

Fairy Tail Volume 1 is a fabolous beginning for the whole series, and a start to a brilliant fantasy manga. 

I give Fairy Tail Volume 1 Two Thumbs Up, and 5/5 Stars.

Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s Glory Volume 2 Review by Eugene Alejandro

Glory Volume 2: War Torn which collects issues #29-#34 is a good continuation of Glory Volume 1: The Once and Future Destroyer, and is a brilliant conclusion to Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s whole run on Glory.

The reason why this Glory series only lasted for 12 issues (#23-34) is because it sadly didn’t sell well enough to keep going on. It does have a really good and surprising ending though (I won’t spoil the ending because I really want you to read this series).

The plot of Glory Volume 2: War Torn is that It’s discovered that Glory has a little sister named Nanaja. Nanaja hates Glory because she left to Earth many years ago. Nanaja decides to go to Earth in order to find Glory. Glory and Nanaja come face to face, and they begin fighting each other to a bloody pulp. They both recover from fighting each other and decide to put their difference’s aside so that they can stop their father Lord Silverfall from taking over the Earth. Glory, Nanaja, Riley Barnes, and the rest of Glory’s team find Lord Silverfall. But before they can stop his goal, he explains that he really doesn’t want to take over the Earth. The only reason why he did what he had to do was because he wanted to protect his family from a giant space monster called The Knight. Glory and the gang understand the situation and decide to help Lord Silverfall stop The Knight from destroying Earth.

With this volume being the last story of the entire series, Joe Keatinge does a fantastic job at ending his and Sophie Campbell’s run on the character of Glory.

Sophie Campbell’s artwork is still spectacular as we get to see her draw not only Glory and the supporting characters, but she also draws almost every other character that Rob Liefeld created.

The list includes Supreme, Suprema, Avengelyne, Diehard, Blue Shaft, Cabbot, Chapel, New Shogun, Red Shaft, Lethal, New Deadlock, Cougar, Sea Hawk, Battlestone, New Fourplay, New Tag, Even Newer Fourplay, Brahma, Doc Rocket, Byrd, Stass, Johnny Panic, Sharpsmooth, Seoul, Combat, Bloodwulf, Rubble, Psilence, Exit, Kodak, Wylder, Dash, Badbear, Kaya, Twilight, Troll, Dash, Thermal, Vogue, Badrock, Photon, Big Brother, Kaboom, Masada, Rein East, Coldsnap, and Riptide 5000.

I forgot to mention this in my previous review of the first volume of Joe Keatinge’s Glory, which is that even though it’s a phenomenal comic, it contains high amounts of graphic violence to which it’s not suitable for all ages.

Glory Volume 2: War Torn is an excellent conclusion to Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s Glory Run, and the series as a whole is a good example of how to re-define a character. 

I give Glory Volume 2: War Torn 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Devilman Manga Review by Eugene Alejandro

Devilman is a true masterpiece of manga literature, and it’s one of the greatest manga that I have ever read in my life.

Being a huge fan of Go Nagai, I consider Devilman to be his best manga ever. The reason why I love the story of Devilman so much is because of how complex, ambitious, and metaphorical it is.

The art is also amazing and even though this manga was made in the 1970’s, the artwork still holds up.

The plot of Devilman is about a teenage boy named Akira Fudo who merges with a powerful demon named Amon which causes him to become none other than Devilman. Now that Akira Fudo has the powers of Amon, he must protect those he loves, and humanity from the demons that want to destroy the entire human race. What makes Devilman an awesome manga is that it’s not your typical superhero horror story at all. Instead, it’s a anti-war story. Allow me to explain.

The reason why Devilman is a work of anti-war is when Go Nagai himself said “There is no justice in war, any war. Nor is there any justification for human beings killing one another. Devilman carries a message of warning, as we step toward a bright future.” In order to help show this, Devilman has lot’s of symbolism that relates to war, and why war is bad. An example is when the story shows that demons have the ability to merge with humans (this is symbolic to people being drafted), and the death of a supporting character happened in order to symbolize the end of peace. While these are the two main examples for why Devilman is a work of anti-war, I was able to find more examples of it being an anti-war story.

Devilman volume 2 is the debut of Sirene, a bird demon that’s bent on killing Akira Fudo in the hopes of bringing back her lover Amon. I saw this as symbolism because it shows the idea of someone trying to free their friend, family member, or lover from the draft as Amon being merged with Akira Fudo is symbolic to someone being drafted, and for Sirene to want to kill Akira Fudo in order to bring back Amon is perfect symbolism of trying to free someone from the draft. Akira evens feels pity for her as he understood why she wanted to kill him.

In Devilman volume 3, the turtle demon Jinmen appears. Jinmen has a ability to have the faces of his victims grow on his shell after he’s eaten them in order to gain satisfaction from their pain and suffering. Akira Fudo transforms into Devilman in order to fight Jinmen, but it turns out to be a difficult fight because Akira is trying his best not to kill the faces that are on Jinmens shell. Jinmen even taunts Akira about his victims as a way to manipulate Akira’s emotions. Akira Fudo soon gains to courage to kill Jinmen by tearing off his shell, but ends up also killing the people that Jinmen ate in the process. This results in Akira living with guilt after the battle.

The reason why this is another example of Devilman being a story that’s anti-war is because the faces of the victims on Jinmens shell are meant to symbolize the suffering of innocent war prisoners, and them dying along with Jinmen also symbolizes innocents of people being killed during a war. For Akira Fudo to feel guilty after his fight with Jinmen because he also killed the victims that were on Jinmens shell is a metaphor for when soldiers go through psychological torment when they kill people (especially when they are forced to kill innocent people).

As for the ending of Devilman, I really do not want to spoil it, but I am certain that lot’s of people will have different opinions on it. As for me, it’s a good ending because it helps establish the anti-war message very well. The story also doesn’t pander about it being anti-war (which is a good thing because it allows the story to be fun, interesting, entertaining, and engaging).

What also makes Devilman a great manga is how much of an impact it had on Japanese culture. Without Devilman, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Berserk, Hellsing, Parasyte, and Bastard would not exist, and the way manga’s and anime’s are now wouldn’t be possible.

Go Nagai created Devilman because he wanted to show the world why war is awful, and Devilman truly succeeds in showing that message without it being pandering about it.

Devilman is not for everyone though because it contains gore, nudity, and religious themes which means it can only be read by a mature audience.

The Devilman manga has also not been officially licensed in English. It can only be read in English by going to scanalation sites, and it’s 5 volumes long (update about that actually. Seven Seas Entertainment got the license to publish this Manga in English for the USA. This review was made prior to that).

Overall, Go Nagai’s Devilman is truly a work of art, and is a manga that deserves to be read by everyone and remembered forever. 

I give the Devilman manga 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s Glory Volume 1 Review by Eugene Alejandro

Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s run on Glory which is published by Image Comics is a perfect example of how to re-define a character.

For those that don’t know, Glory is a character that was created by none other than Rob Liefeld (one of the founders of Image Comics) during the 1990’s. In 2011-2012, Rob Liefeld came back to Image Comics for a somewhat “Extreme Studios” revival where he brought back his creator-owned properties to the company. He even allowed other creative teams to work on some of those properties. The Glory revival (which I will be reviewing right now) was written by Joe Keatinge, with artwork by Sophie Campbell (who back then, went by the name of Ross Campbell).

Glory Volume 1: The Once and Future Destroyer is a very good beginning for Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s work on the character as it does a fantastic job of changing the character’s appearance and origin in a very good way.

Your probably asking “What’s the big difference between Joe Keatinge’s version of Glory, and Rob Liefeld’s verison of Glory?” The answer is simple. Rob Liefeld’s Glory had a super model appearance, and was the offspring of an Amazon, and a Demon. Joe Keatinge’s Glory has the appearance of a very tall and muscular albino whose skin is covered in battle scars, and while her origin of being an offspring between a Demon and an Amazon is the same as Liefeld’s version of the character, Joe Keatinge added a twist to it. The Demons and Amazons are Aliens, thus making Glory herself an Alien.

The plot of Glory Volume 1 is that long time fan of Glory Riley Barnes is invited to a french island where she finds Glory after many years of not being seen. The reason why Glory is in hiding is because her father Lord Silverfall wants her dead. Riley is then recruited to help Glory stop her father, but Riley soon discovers that Glory may not be trusted.

What makes this version of Glory so unique is how much effort Joe Keatinge put into a character that he never created by making great changes to her story. Sophie Campbell’s artwork for this series is great and helps with Glory’s new appearance.

Another thing to let you know is that when this new Glory series first came out, it continued the numbering from the old Glory series (which was 22 issues long). Meaning that this Glory series starts with #23. Which is why I recommend reading the collected editions because those are properly numbered, and make it easy for people to read the new series without having to worry about reading the old series.

Glory Volume 1: The Once and Future Destroyer collects the first six issues of the new Glory series which is #23-#28.

Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell’s run on Glory is a brilliant example of how to re-define a Rob Liefeld character, and is an awesome comic that should never be ignored.

I give Glory Volume 1 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.

Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 3 Review by Eugene Alejandro

Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 3 published by IDW starts off from Volume 2’s ending as we see Titanosaurus, Gezora, and Manda attacking a fleet of ships on the ocean (one of them has the Kaiju Watchers on it). Godzilla then appears out from the water, and begins to fight Gezora, Manda, and Titanosaurus. While this is happening, one of the members of the Kaiju Watchers Lucy Casprell, ends up falling from the ship that she and the rest of the Kaiju Watchers were on, and washes up on Infant Island where she meets the Shobijin. The Shobijin allow her to be welcomed to the Island, and show her cave drawings that are meant to foreshadow a prophecy.

The drawings in the cave show Kaiju’s such as Gorosaurus, King Caesar, Mothra, Megaguirus, Varan, Megalon, Battra, Baragon, Ebirah, Manda, Kamacuras, Kumonga, Gezora, Titanosaurus, Kamoebas, and Anguirus. The Shobijin explain that there will be a monster that will try to destroy the world, but one will try to save the world. The reason why all of this is in the story is because it’s meant to set up a big major event that will happen in the story’s future. Afterwords, Lucy Casprell is given a necklace from the Shobijin, and is teleported out of Infant Island, and ends up waking up on a life boat.

After that, Godzilla is seen chasing after the Gargantuas Gaira and Sanda in the ocean, and all 3 of them end up in Australia. Sanda and Gaira then proceed to fight Godzilla. Steven Woods and the CKR (Counter-Kaiju Reaction forces) then show up to stop all 3 of them from fighting in order to save Australia from destruction. Gaira get’s knocked out by Godzilla’s tail, Sanda manages to hurt Godzilla, and Godzilla then retreats to the ocean. Steven Woods calls for two helicopters with nets so that they can take Sanda and Gaira to Monster Island. 

Afterwords, a Devonian shows up to a bunch of fisherman, and warns them about the Devonians plan. After that, Baragon appears from the grounds of Paris, but Kiryu (The Millennium Era MechaGodzilla) then appears in order to take Baragon to Monster Island. Baragon uses his fire breath to attack Kiryu, but Kiryu has the upper hand and knocks Baragon unconscious, and takes him to Monster Island. A character named Dr. Allison speaks with the Devonian that is on the humans side so that he can get answers.

The Devonian explains to him that the Devonians are going to use Manda, Titanosaurus, Gezora, and Destroyah to destroy humanity because the Devonians see that the humans are polluting the ocean. Godzilla is later seen in the pacific ocean, and his ambushed by Destroyah, Titanosaurus, Manda, and Gezora. The government has submarines use sound waves to lure all 4 monsters into the main Devonian base so that they can destroy the base, and the monsters at the same time. The sound waves however, cause Destroyah to split into multiple aggregate versions of himself, and attack the ship that Steven Woods, and Kaiju Watchers are currently on.

The people on the ship are able to fight off the aggregate Destroyah’s, but they retreat back to the ocean so that they can form back to Destroyah’s final form. Before Destroyah can destroy the ship, Jet Jaguar appears and fights Destroyah. Jet Jaguar decides to shrink to human size so that he can pilot Kiryu that’s on the ship. Jet Jaguar get’s Kiryu working, and activates Kiryu’s Absolute Zero Cannon to freeze and destroy Destroyah. Afterwords, Jet Jaguar goes into the ocean to try to save Godzilla from being buried in the ocean grounds by the missiles that were launched to destroy the monsters and the Devonian base. And not to spoil the ending, the ending does a phenomenal job at setting up the events and will happen in Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 4, and future stories to come.

Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 3 collects issues #9-#12 and is another really good addition to the series. Chris Mowry’s writing continues to be spectacular as ever, and the story his helped by the awesome artwork by Jeff Zornow and Matt Frank.

As I said earlier, the ending for Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 3 is a brilliant way to get people anticipated for Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 4 so that they can see what happened after the events of Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 3.

It’s also really cool to see The Gargantuas Gaira and Sanda officially fighting Godzilla for the very first time. If your a fan of comics, Godzilla, or both, and have read and enjoyed the previous 2 volumes of Godzilla: Rulers Or Earth, you will not be disappointed with Volume 3. 

I give Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth Volume 3 Two Thumbs Up, and 5/5 Stars.