Tag Archives: graphic novel review

Shadowman: Book One by Cullen Bunn & Valiant Comics Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

As terrifying forces begin to tear at the very fabric of reality, Shadowman rises to face a growing and sinister new threat in writer Cullen Bunn and Valiant Comics new collection, “Shadowman: Book One”.

The Synopsis

The forces of darkness are awakening and they are hungry for life.

Jack Boniface, a.k.a. Shadowman, faces the terrors that tear at the fabric of humanity’s world. As the forces of darkness pry open doorways across the nation, the Shadowman will make a cross-country descent into horror… as something far more sinister emerges from the shadows.

From the bestselling master of horror Cullen Bunn (Venom) and bone-chilling artist Jon Davis-Hunt (Clean Room) comes a shocking supernatural odyssey!

Collecting SHADOWMAN (2020) #1–4.

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The Review

Such a brilliant reintroduction into the world of Shadowman for both newcomers and longtime fans of the character and Valiant’s universe overall. The balance that the collection found between visceral and gritty artwork and layered mythology building and character growth was amazing to watch unfold. The way the author wrote the narrative to showcase these self-contained battles in each issue, each representing a battle within humanity itself, while also alluding to an all-connecting source that is growing out of control was so well executed and kept me as a reader invested greatly.

The almost muted tones of the scenery in each panel did a great job of highlighting the horror and carnage these creatures left behind as the Shadowman worked to seal these breaches in the veil. What was great to read through was Jack’s evolution as a character, seeing him being thrust into new situations as the rules of these battles and the creatures he is facing seems to be changing before his eyes, giving the hero a new challenge that reinvents the character’s arc overall.

The Verdict

A chilling, heart-pounding, and action-packed volume of comics, author Cullen Bunn and Valiant Comics’s “Shadowman: Book One” is a must-read book of 2021, and the perfect read for fans of both graphic novels and the spooky/Halloween season. The tone and atmosphere seemed to be a blend of Ghost Rider, Buffy the Vampire Slayer mythos building, and Blade’s maturity all rolled into one ass-kicking horror thriller, and I cannot wait to dive into the next volume. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Cullen grew up in rural North Carolina, but now lives in the St. Louis area with his wife Cindy and his son Jackson. His noir/horror comic (and first collaboration with Brian Hurtt), The Damned, was published in 2007 by Oni Press. The follow-up, The Damned: Prodigal Sons, was released in 2008. In addition to The Sixth Gun, his current projects include Crooked Hills, a middle reader horror prose series from Evileye Books; The Tooth, an original graphic novel from Oni Press; and various work for Marvel and DC. Somewhere along the way, Cullen founded Undaunted Press and edited the critically acclaimed small press horror magazine, Whispers from the Shattered Forum.

All writers must pay their dues, and Cullen has worked various odd jobs, including Alien Autopsy Specialist, Rodeo Clown, Professional Wrestler Manager, and Sasquatch Wrangler.

And, yes, he has fought for his life against mountain lions and he did perform on stage as the World’s Youngest Hypnotist. Buy him a drink sometime, and he’ll tell you all about it.

Visit his website at www.cullenbunn.com

Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera (Illustrated by Steph C.) Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One of DC Comics best and most beloved characters of the past decade takes center stage in an original story that puts her in the midst of the immigration debate as she struggles with whether or not to stay in the United States and strange visions of Aztec gods in author Lilliam Rivera’s “Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story”.

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The Synopsis

Acclaimed author Lilliam Rivera and artist Steph C. reimagine one of DC’s greatest Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz, to tell a story about immigration, family, and overcoming fear to inspire hope.

Jessica Cruz has done everything right. She’s a dedicated student, popular among her classmates, and has a loving family that has done everything they can to give her a better life in the United States. While Jessica is a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing her to go to school and live in the U.S., her parents are undocumented. Jessica usually worries for her parents, but her fears and anxiety escalate as a mayoral candidate with a strong anti-immigration stance runs for office.

As the xenophobia in Coast City increases, Jessica begins to debate whether it’s worth renewing her status to stay in the U.S., or if her family would be safer and better off moving back to Mexico. And despite her attempts to lean on her friends and family, she finds herself constantly visited by visions of Aztec gods, one pulling her towards hope and the other towards anger.

But when her father is detained by I.C.E., Jessica finds herself being pulled into an abyss of fear. With her father gone and feeling helpless, Jessica must find her way out of her fears and ultimately become a voice for her community. 

The Review

What a powerful and engaging new take on the iconic Green Lantern character. This was a fantastic story that really captured the struggle and strength of the Latino community, especially when the debate over immigration has never been higher in recent years. Jessica Cruz is the perfect character to bring this fight for justice and equality to light, as her DC Comics history played into the battle between fear and hope that her character has embodied since her introduction. As a half-Latino man whose late grandfather came to this country as a young child and built a family of his own through dedication and hard work, the cultural element and the familial bonds that Jessica had not only with her parents but her community as a whole really spoke to me, as these core values are something I was taught at an early age.

The fantastic blend of DC Comics character mythology, history, and Aztec mythology was amazing to see come to life here. The visions that Jessica had really did a great job of highlighting the inner-struggle of her character between fear and hope, and seeing things like side character John Stewart come into play and her father’s lessons really made this story shine brightly. The artwork itself was so engaging, striking amazing contrasts between the light and darkness that Jessica struggled with and which settled over Coast City as immigration and politics took more and more of a prominent role in the community. The warmth that the artwork seemed to invoke really spoke to me and helped convey the message clearly.

The Verdict

A brilliant, heartfelt, and refreshing new take on a personal favorite and iconic DC Comics hero, author Lilliam Rivera and artist Steph C.’s “Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story”, is a must-read graphic novel and a contender or graphic novel of the year. DC Comics showcases a brilliant eye for talent as both the artist and the author did an incredible job of relaying a new take on some fan favorite characters and their history while also bringing an important topic and theme to life in a way that can highlight the issues without sacrificing entertainment and relatability. If you haven’t yet, grab your own copy of this amazing story today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning author of children’s books including her latest Never Look Back, a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice set in New York by Bloomsbury Publishing. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Elle, to name a few. Lilliam lives in Los Angeles.

https://www.lilliamrivera.com/

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About the Illustrator

Steph C. is a Mexican artist and illustrator mainly know for  her stylish characters that evoque a vibrant sensation within story and design whit a sense of geometry and sharp compositions. My goal is to inspire others through the power of creation!

https://thestephc.weebly.com/

https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/steph_c/

https://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/unearthed-a-jessica-cruz-story

Villainous by Stonie Williams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman looking to become the newest recruit into a group of superheroes discovers a dark and sinister secret, and discovers that sometimes the only way to become a true hero is to be the villain in author Stonie Williams graphic novel, “Villainous”.

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The Synopsis

Tilly, one of the newest super-powered people to join the Coalition of Heroes, is doing her best to navigate the dizzying world of superheroes. Working with her idols should be a dream come true, but when she learns the truth, Tilly’s dream quickly becomes a nightmare. Now, Tilly has to make a choice – Get in line and stand with her heroes, or take a stand and risk becoming something more… Villainous

The Review

Wow. Such a fun and engaging graphic novel, the author finds the perfect balance in the tone of the narrative immediately, settling somewhere in-between a more mild version of the Boys meet Marvel’s X-Factor and DC Comics Suicide Squad. The author does a great job of building the world early on as well as the mythos of the world of Villainous. 

The theme of the line between hero and villain is blurred or gray has been around for a long time, but the author brings a fresh voice and the illustrators bring a dynamic artwork to the pages that make this story feel fresh and original. The characters pop off the page, from the meathead hero Showdown to the hopeful hero turned forced “villain” and protagonist Tilly and even the world itself, which allows the shadowy figures behind the scenes to perpetuate the lies of the “heroes” are telling. 

The Verdict

A memorable, visually stunning, and entertaining read, author Stonie Williams and Mad Cave Studios “Villainous” is a fantastic work of comic book and graphic novel magic. The action is fast-paced and the characters are multi-layered and complex, and by the first volume’s end, the story takes a dramatic turn that sets the pace for the rest of the series. Be sure to grab your copy on May 4th, 2021!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Stonie grew up in the back of a comic book shop in Tulsa and played guitar as a teenager. Both comics and music nurtured a passion for storytelling. Now he looks to create his own stories

instagram.com/baldbeardedbard/

https://campsite.bio/baldbeardedbard

https://www.youtube.com/c/madcavestudios/featured

Snarc 2 by Bruce Olav Solheim Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An alien adventurer from another world must come to Earth and warn them of an impending invasion from his home world in author Bruce Olav Solheim’s graphic novel, “Snarc 2”.

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The Synopsis

Welcome to Snarc 2, the continuing adventures of Snarc, our favorite intergalactic traveler, and his Cosmic Staff. Snarc must find a way to save humanity from the reptilian inhabitants of his home planet, Maron.

The Review

This was a truly entertaining read. This graphic novel captures the artistry and depth of classic comic books, with detailed character growth and brightly colored pages that really capture iconic 40’s and 50’s era comic book artwork. 

While a newcomer to the series, the author does a great job of bringing this story to life for newcomers and fans of the series alike. The author manages to tackle serious struggles such as war and climate change while also integrating the threat of his homeworld into the narrative. While protagonist Snarc and his trust sidekick, the talking Cosmic Staff, are the true heart of this story as their adventures take flight, but the introduction of Dr. Jekyll is an inspired choice into the narrative, as her role as Alien Hunter has taken her to face a growing alien threat and the alien who has come to help her. 

The Verdict

A fun, adventurous and entertaining graphic novel, author Bruce Olav Solheim’s “Snarc 2” is a must-read. The story is well developed and the artwork is both original and classic all at once. The narrative immediately draws fans in and captures the essence of iconic sci-fi stories that have come before it, from Star Trek to DC Comics’s “Adam Strange”. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Bruce Olav Solheim was born on September 3, 1958, in Seattle, Washington, to hard-working Norwegian immigrant parents, Asbjørn and Olaug Solheim. Bruce was the first person in his family to go to college. He served for six years in the US Army as a jail guard and later as a helicopter pilot. He earned his PhD in history from Bowling Green State University in 1993.

Bruce is currently a distinguished professor of history at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He also served as a Fulbright professor in 2003 at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway.

Bruce founded the Veterans Program at Citrus College and cofounded, with Manuel Martinez and Ginger De Villa-Rose, the Boots to Books transition course—the first college course in the United States designed specifically for recently returned veterans. He has published five books and has written seven plays, two of which have been produced.

Bruce is married to Ginger, the girl of his dreams, who is a professional helicopter pilot and certified flight instructor. He has been blessed with four wonderful children: Bjørn, Byron, Caitlin, and Leif. He also has a precious grandson, Liam. Bruce, his brother, and his two nephews still own the family home in Åse, Norway, two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle.

https://www.bruceolavsolheim.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Y89QMDX/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F57423525-snarc-2&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody and Manuela Soriani

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A beautifully crafted and illustrated world brims with life and death in author Nathan Peabody’s Boylord: Genesis. Along with illustrator Manuela Soriani, these two amazing creators bring to life the story of Ettan the Boylord, a child born into an alien race gifted with special abilities. Here’s the synopsis:

The genesis story of Ettan the Boylord, and his mystical journey to become part god, part cat. Born into an alien race with advanced powers, Ettan is abducted by a demon lord, and has his soul tossed into hell. His family rallies to save him in an epic adventure. The story is original, and full of surprises.

This book 1 contains a mixture of space opera and fantasy genres. Float away into a new world with 200 pages of gorgeous, full color, art by Italian artist, Manuela Soriani. Book 1 is the genesis of Ettan’s superhero powers, when a war-goddess enlisted to help find him in hell unwittingly endows him with powerful abilities. In book 2, Ettan starts to discover these powers. In book 3 and beyond, Ettan starts to use these powers to turn evil infested humanoid planets into good, and healthy, planets. 

An exciting blend of science fiction, fantasy and even at times horror, this adult graphic novel features some of the most creative storytelling I’ve seen in the graphic novel realm in years. Blending demons with alien races, distant galaxies with hell dimensions, and the lengths not only a kingdom but a parent is willing to go to in order to save a child is explored wonderfully in this story.

The definite highlights of this book are the wonderful world building done by the author and the gorgeous illustrations done by the artist. When blended together these two elements help bring a whole new mythos to life in ways you wouldn’t expect. The special blend of magic and technology in this story reflects in the blend of illustration and story that the creators went through in this novel.

Overall I loved this book. The characters are exciting and adventure seeking, and the worlds in which the writer and illustrator mesmerize the reader with are so full of light and darkness that it’s impossible to look away. With an open ended final chapter that leaves readers wanting more, this reviewer can only hope we get to see a book 2 in the near future. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody and Manuela Soriani today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1719105995/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1719105995&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

www.boylord.com

artist: Manuela Soriani

manuella

Manuela lives in the same small town in northern Italy where she was born in 1979, in the heat of summer and fog in winter, near the river Po. Manuela studied to become an accountant, but Art asked to be part of her life. So she answered the call, found a teacher (and later, friend), and became an artist. After six years in comic books, Manuela began creating both traditional paper books and animated apps for electronic devices. Around 2013, she added comic book projects back into her daily job, alongside children’s books and cover arts. She uses cutting edge technology to deliver the most brilliant artworks she can, adding details to make her illustrations full of life.

Follow her on Facebook and Patron.

View her latest work on Deviant Art.

creator/ writer: Nathan Peabody

Nate photo

Nathan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has recently embarked upon a new career in teaching. In Nathan’s spare time he has been writing the story Boylord, which has been rattling around in his brain for quite some time. In elementary school he was obsessed with comics, Dungeons and Dragons, and Star Wars. In undergrad at UC Berkeley he was infused with a variety of spiritual beliefs, including nonviolence. His passions include insects (his PhD was in Entomology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa), Chi Kung/Kung Fu (which he practiced in a Chinese cemetery in Hawaii), and hiking in ancient sequoia forests.

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B&N Exclusive Collectible Edition Books – Buy 2, Get the 3rd Free

The Wall – Volume One by Some Guy Review

I received a free copy of this book from Book Reviews 4 You in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A brutal look into the mindset of lifelong soldiers and the destructive road to villainy and bloodlust that can overcome the best of humanity comes to fruition in the hit graphic novel The Wall – Volume One by Some Guy. Here’s the synopsis:

A fast paced, sci-fi / fantasy graphic novella that explores the grey areas of the human conscience as it relates to honor, relationships, spirituality, and moral code. Forge (a.k.a. Gunns), the former leader of the UN’s elite task force now finds himself and his devoted crew doing “muscle” work for the current President of the United States. Things get complicated when he meets a man who challenges his current motivations and Gunns must choose between his team or what he believes in. Which wall will fall first? Read volume one to find out…

This intense novella explores the morality of war and the soldiers who fight it. What happens when a lifelong soldier is reduced to a mercenary, fighting not for honor or glory but for himself and his crew? Forge must navigate the corrupt halls of power he finds himself in as he works for a now corrupt President who has built a massive wall on the Mexico/US border, (sound familiar?). This story shows both the good and bad of being a soldier during times of war, and how doing the right thing can come with extreme consequences.

The story was well written, giving audiences a deep dive look into the horrors of war while implementing fun supernatural and horror based elements to create a one of a kind story. The imagery and graphic novel twist on the novella are unique and vivid, and is reminiscent of the graphic novels such as Outcast or Preacher. This is a must read novella that everyone should check out, so if you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of The Wall – Volume One by Some Guy today!

Rating: 7/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079Q7S4XJ/ref=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B079Q7S4XJ&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

The New 52: Futures End, Vol. 1 Review

A horrific future filled with mechanical bugs and cyborg heroes terrorizing the world lead one man to take the fight into the past in DC Comic’s very own The New 52: Futures End, Vol. 1! Created by  Brian AzzarelloJeff LemireDan JurgensKeith GiffenPatrick Zircher (Illustrator), Aaron Lopresti (Illustrator), Jesús Merino (Illustrator), the first volume shows the groundwork for this apocalyptic future where the evil program Brother Eye has decimated the DC Universe as we know it, and the fight for the future rests on the shoulders of everyone’s favorite future Batman, Terry McGinnis. Here’s the synopsis:

Five years from now, the DC Universe is reeling from a war with another Earth, leaving the world unprepared for an approaching evil that threatens to destroy the future. As heroes are turned into mindless villains, the planet as we know it is no more. The only salvation lies in the past, where this future apocalypse must be averted. Can a time-traveling Batman Beyond help a massive cast of the DCU’s finest avert the impending apocalypse? 

Written by a cast of the industry’s best talents, including Jeff Lemire, Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens, this new epic series will expose the secrets of the New 52 universe!

Collects issues #0-17.

The artwork and story of this DC Comics event is both breathtaking and haunting all at once. The first pages hit the reader hard with a monstrous future. Seeing the likes of Wonder Woman, Constantine and other beloved heroes transformed into mechanical cyborgs programmed to kill or assimilate the heroes of the world, seeing these iconic heroes bodies torn asunder by these machines is heartbreaking to watch, and really sets the stage for this life or death fight that Batman Beyond has to make.

The trip back to the past shows a world torn apart by politics, war and conflicting ideologies. A more relevant reflection of our current society, this story shows what happens when people fear refugees that hail from the same region as known enemies, and the hardship these refugees face because of narrow minded politics. We also see the beginnings of a major conspiracy, with a new Superman who wears a mask and becomes more and more violent, a Firestorm divided amongst themselves and Frankenstein traveling into space to find the cause of a superhero team’s demise. It’s everything you want in a huge DC Comics event, exploring both the cosmic and mystical realms of the DC universe.

Overall this was a fantastic start to an intense comic book event. By the first volumes end, the true enemy will be revealed, and the fight for the future will truly begin. Can Terry stop Brother Eye from gaining power before it’s too late? Will the heroes of the DC universe be able to stop the coming threat? Find out by picking up your copies of The New 52: Future’s End today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/New-52-Futures-End-Vol-ebook/dp/B00MV1O02U/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523852018&sr=1-10&keywords=The+New+52

Forever Evil (Justice League, Volume II) by Geoff Johns Review

For this installment of comic book reviews, we are diving head first into the DC Comics event Forever Evil by writer Geoff Johns. A story of a world without it’s heroic protectors, and the people who rise above themselves to battle a world conquering evil. In a world filled with villains, will a hero arise? Here’s the synopsis:

The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! In a flash of light, the world’s most powerful heroes vanish as the Crime Syndicate arrives from Earth-3! As this evil version of the Justice League takes over the DC Universe, no one stands in the way of them and complete domination … no one except for Lex Luthor. By New York Times #1 best-selling creators Geoff Johns and David Finch, FOREVER EVIL is the first universe-wide crossover of The New 52.

Collects FOREVER EVIL #1-7.

This was a truly unique story. Exploring the DC Comics universe without a Justice League to protect it was a marvelous story for the writer to explore here. Are there villains strong enough or willing enough to step up to the plate and become heroes when the OG heroes are gone or worse, dead? The big highlight of this story to me are the characters Lex Luthor and Captain Cold. Luthor is a fantastic character because he showcases selfish motivations throughout his criminal career, and the beginning of this tale is no different. However we also see another side to the villain when a new life is bound to his, and the fate of the world hangs in his hands. Captain Cold meanwhile is the perfect anti-hero, as he is a Flash villain with a code of honor, not willing to sacrifice the fate of innocent people for his own needs. Going up against the ruthless version of the Justice League, these two and other villains rise to face the Syndicate, which showcases the mirror image of our favorite heroes.

The artwork for this collection was amazing, showing the gritty and brutal nature of the Syndicate and the real life or death stakes that these characters face against this all powerful enemy. The shocking deaths of certain characters and the heroes that work from the shadows to fight the enemy make this an incredible read, but the beautiful use of color in this story highlights the shocking turn of events this DC Comics event represents.

Overall this was an amazing story. Filled with humor, action and unbelievable character development, the story of Forever Evil is one that deserves to be read over and over again. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Forever Evil by Geoff Johns today!

Rating: 10/10

Infinity: Volume 1 by Jonathan Hickman Review

In honor of the upcoming blockbuster event of the year, (Avengers: Infinity War), it’s time to check out one of the influences for the film, Infinity by writer Jonathan Hickman. The story explores a major Marvel event, where Thanos begins a galactic war as the Avengers fight both in space and on Earth. Here’s the synopsis:

The year’s most anticipated blockbuster cosmic event is here, as the Marvel Universe marches towards Infinity! The mad titan Thanos makes his world-shattering return, and his armies fire the opening shots of a galactic war that will be fought both on Earth and in deep space – with our heroes caught between both battles! As Thanos’ secrets are revealed, the Inhumans’ city of Attilan falls, and the Illuminati find themselves on the front line! And as every Origin Site on Earth goes active, the Builders enter the Marvel Universe. But can the Avengers return to Earth in ti me to save it, when betrayal in the Galactic Council has left them prisoners of war? Galactic empires will fall as Thanos’ crazed plans come to fruition!

Collecting Infinity #1-3, Avengers #18-20, New Avengers 9-10.

The graphic novel does an excellent job of bringing the larger than life scale of the threat of Thanos to life. The story of Thanos and his Black Order is a unique addition to the Infinity saga, adding new threats and a much more powerful army to Thanos that the Avengers must face. The artwork is beautiful, integrating the various factions of the Marvel Universe. We see the beginning of the fall of Attilan, the Inhumans Kingdom after Thanos begins his conquest of Earth. We get a taste of the influences for the upcoming film in the MCU, and got to witness the ruthlessness and villainy of Thanos.

Overall I loved this comic book. The maturity and graphic nature of this particular story kind of helped establish the stakes of the fight between the Avengers and Thanos. A story of manipulation, power and hope, this was an amazing story to read. If you guys haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Infinity: Volume 1 by Jonathan Hickman today!

Rating: 10/10