Saga: Book One

I was at this year’s ETSU Buc Con when I stumbled across an amazing artist with a totally badass piece for sale. I complemented her on her unique ability to create one hell of a character. She quickly informed me that the eight eyed, eight-legged spider banshee queen wielding double-barrel shotguns  was actually a bounty hunter character: The Stalk, from a popular graphic novel. As the producer of Comic Kingdom I naturally jumped at the occasion to stumble into something new and awesome. This graphic novel was called Saga.  Saga is described as a space opera/fantasy, and is wonderfully written by Brian K. Vaughan and accompanied by the spectacular illustrator Fiona Staples. After some online research and a quick scroll through amazon I realized that I might as well go for broke and buy the compendium: Saga: Book One. Book One contains issues #1 – 18. At first I was wary of making such a huge investment, but after reading the reviews on Amazon it seemed clear this story was going to have me wanting more after every issue, plus it saved me a good bit of money to go ahead and buy the Book One! I think you guys would love this funky new graphic novel!

saga collection

Synopsis – So this plot is absolutely jammed packed with witty dialogue and entertaining plot twists embedded into the entire story arch, but overall the story plot is rather simple (and its not a bad thing). Alana and Marko are both from different worlds, as Alana is hails from the technologically advanced society of the Landfall Coalition, as the inhabitants of Landfall claim the largest planet in the galaxy as their home. Landfall has one single satellite moon called Wreath, which is where Marko is from. The two are star crossed lovers as Landfall and Wreath have been at war for centuries. The two fall in love as Alana is Marko’s prisoner guard, and the two elope. The drama of the story kicks up as it is reveals that the two have unprecedentedly  had a child together. This action of treason resonates as a mystical rumor that has the entire galaxy one edge. Thus, many factions have many reasons for either capturing or killing these two and their half-breed child. The entire series is about the two making their way through the galaxy avoiding bounty hunters and perilous obstacles that get in this oddly formed family’s way of happiness. The rest of the main story plays out very similarly to Romeo and Juliet. The amazing work of the series shines through as the main story is so familiar while the details and character developments are so unique and fresh.

Reader Reference (1-5)

Story/Plot – 3.75

Artwork – 4.5

Dialogue – 5

General Concept – 3.5

Overall – 4.5

Basic Info

Publisher – Image Comics

Publication Date – November 25, 2014

Page Numbers – 504

Pricing – Sticker Price – $49.99

                 Online – $33.37

Identity Crisis

Today in the Comic Kingdom we will be discussing one of my favorites: Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, and accompanied by Rags Morales and Michael Bair. Yes of course this is one of my favorites as it is DC and furthermore features the Justice League (my favorite), but the reason I’m wild about this one in particular is due to the depth and insight this graphic novel takes into the human side of our caped crusaders. Identity Crisis is appropriately named as it explores a darker side of what these superheroes and their families have to go through just for the Justice League to do their job. What is the risk and potential dangers awaiting anyone brave enough to use their powers to vanquish evil. Identity Crisis explores the depth of the main theme of sacrifice. I love what Meltzer has done and I think you will too!

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Synopsis – (As always I will not ruin the ending, but if you prefer your graphic novels to be a blank slate of entertainment going into the book I suggest you skip the synopsis and jump down to the reader reference). Identity Crisis begins with a horrific murder of a JLA member’s wife. The ensuing action lies within the inability for the Justice League to identify the killer as they appear to have left no trace. Even Batman and Miracle Man have difficulty applying their beyond impressive detective skills to make much sense of the murder at all. The drama kicks up as the first funeral of the victim is proceeded with another murder of another Justice League member’s wife. The confusion builds as the clues just keep throwing the League off on a wild goose chase, and worst of all Superman gets highly involved as the pattern of murdered wives points to the big man with the S on his chest as Lois Lane receives a death threat. The rest of the plot deals with identifying and capturing the serial killer(s) and the horrific threat of everyone’s loved ones placed in imminent danger. The real reason Identity Crisis has made ripples throughout the comic community is how enthralling the insight of exploring this crisis displays the very human side of the characters we have grown to know as almost invincible. Identity Crisis shows that even the mightiest of warriors are still human or display similar emotions and face problems that we all face.

Reader Reference (1-5)

Story/Plot – 4.5

Artwork – 3.5

Dialogue – 4 (Considering the gravity of the situation at hand the dialogue for these characters really sells the story)

General Concept – 4.5

Overall – 4.25

Basic Info 

Publisher –  DC Comics

Publication Date – June – December 2004 (Graphic Novel – February, 9 2016)

Page Numbers – 288

Pricing –   Online – Paperback – $10.87

                                  Hardcover – $19.76

The Death of Superman

Ahhhh feels so good to be back in the realm of DC comics! I couldn’t think of any better way to dive right back into my favorite publisher than to tackle one of the most iconic/famous graphic novel stories possibly of ALL TIME! In fact, it once held the title for the best-selling graphic novel of all time. I, like many, if not most comic book/superhero lovers, am familiar with the story of the first time Superman was vanquished in battle, but I am sure there are plenty out there who are oblivious….*crickets*. Ok, so in 1992 a string of writers came together to work on this collaboration dream any comic book writer could imagine: a chance to kill Superman. Now I normally would use a spoiler alert when talking about the novel before the synopsis, but unfortunately the title does not leave much to mystery. Now this was originally 7 separate issues back in 1992 and only the last of the 7 was named “The Death of Superman.” So in comes my first critique: DON’T name the compilation after the one issue that gives away the most crucial point in the story arch just to make it easier on the consumer-low blow if you ask me. Like I said, most people are aware of the story, but for those who might not be so familiar with Superman or  comic books in general it can really suck to have the title of the book the climactic event. However; I am being nit picky and will shut up so we can get the review on! Here you go Comic Kingdom: The Death of Superman.

 

Death Superman

Synopsis – (This may be one of the shorter synopsis Comic Kingdom ever sees.) The novel /issues starts out with a menacing character attempting to break free from his containment deep underground on Earth. As the creature breaks free, and the novel progresses, this ungodly creature labeled as “Doomsday” appropriately reeks complete and total havoc as he leaves a trail of utter destruction in his path with power and raw force greater than any other even the Man of Steel has never bare witnessed to. The Justice League, lead by Superman, attempt to stop Doomsday and surprisingly show little to no resistance against his unrelenting force. The story comes to a close after a very long drawn out battle leads to a final showdown between Superman and the most worthy opponent he has ever faced, Doomsday. Obviously the title gives away what happens to Superman, but as for Doomsday: you will just have to read to find out!

Additional Comments – So as I said before, this story arch is one of the most famous in all of the comic universe for obvious reasons. As far as the content and story itself, one could wonder with such a short synopsis that practically summed up ALL of the novel (except Doomsday’s fate I tried to salvage for you guys), is this just famous for the affect of Superman’s demise and just that alone. Well my answer is: kinda. In the moments I was wanting more story and depth or explanation, I was quickly subdued by the amazing action going on from panel to panel. The artwork was exceptional in the fact that it is JAMMED packed with great shots of Superman and the Justice League going all out with Doomsday. It is also important to note that this series was not intended for a graphic novel but actually they were individual issues meant to build suspense and mystery throughout the story arch from month to month. However; for many reasons and in any format I can most certainly understand the appeal of this action packed saga.

Reader Reference (1-5)

Story/Plot – 2

Artwork – 4  (The artwork is pretty standard pro work for the time period but it receives a 4 for the action packed content the artwork brings).

Dialogue – 2.5

General Concept – 5 (This is where the novel obviously excels. I mean Superman DIES! thats a must read for most).

Overall – 4  (Of course you know by now my numbers don’t add up mathematically. Well thats because every overall review has the X-Factor played into account).

Basic Info

Publisher – DC Comics

Publication Date – February 26, 2013 (Compilation Graphic Novel)

                                      The original series was released in individual issues throughout 1992.

Page Numbers – 160

Pricing – Sticker Price – $9.99 (I don’t believe it!)

                   Online – $ 12.99 (Now you see why I don’t believe the sticker on the back haha!)

Nemesis

Today’s Comic Kingdom graphic novel review has me absolutely stoked! So as I always do, I was scrolling the internet reviews for interestingly alternative Super Hero/ Anti-Hero novel premises. When I read that there was a novel based around the general concept: What if someone had the insane physical combat training, gadget accessibility, and general badassery of Batman mixed with the unlimited financial backing as Bruce Wayne…but was a ruthless cop killer? Nemesis has a uniquely refreshing approach as the co-creators, Mark Miller (writer) and Steve McNiven (artist) take on a psychopathic cop killer on a egotistical rampage for raising total and utter chaos. This is even more refreshing and odd to see as I was completely surprised that the publisher was actually Marvel, especially considering the mature/graphic content both visually and conceptually.

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Synopsis- Nemesis is renegade on the loose. The man who’s true identity is shrouded in a mystery and a multitude of aliases. The being of the book gives you a perfect feel for what to expect: a bloody, gore fest of a anti-establishment cop killing maniac. Quickly you learn that the man known as Nemesis is more than just an angry guy with a dark past and some badass arsenal of weapons. The book shows his mastermind global sway in the world of developing mass chaos. We learn that Nemesis has a direct killing fetish for offing police chiefs. This book mainly focuses on Nemesis’s next target: The President of the United States. So Nemesis starts wrecking havoc in Washington D.C. as he ensues “Joker-like” chaos amongst the city all in the name of finally capping his desired target: Blake Morrow Police Chief.

 Additional Comment: The meat and value of the graphic novel certainly comes from its dark twisted nature. Seeing a gruesomely, blood lusted, witty main character in a Marvel production is all too sweet!

Reader Reference (1-5)

Story/Plot- 3 (has plenty of dark twists that really give the story some much needed shock value)

Artwork – 3.5 (nothing special here, but certainly not bad by any means. I would normally give it a 2.5-3, however the blood plastered scenes are SO well done and visually appealing that I figured a 3.5 was fair.)

Dialogue- 3

General Concept – 4 (really loved this story, if you are looking for something within in the superhero world but want a majorly alternative spin I highly recommend)

Overall – 3.75

Basic Info

Publisher – Marvel

Publication Date – September 26, 2012

Page Numbers – 112

Pricing – Sticker Price – $14.99

                    Online – $9.60

The Undertaking of Lily Chen

Today Comic Kingdom has its very first independent graphic novel: The Undertaking of Lily Chen. As I have stated before, I heavily gravitate towards DC Comics as my main publisher of choice. With this new blog endeavor of  Comic Kingdom has come a urge to read outside my comfort zone. After grazing the numerous great Amazon reviews talking about the phenomenal artwork, I was sold. In an attempt to leave my comfort zone: here is another Comic Kingdom Review.

Undertaking Lily Cover.jpg

After reading this one you will understand why I put emphasis on this fact: Danica Novgorodoff is not only the writer but the amazing artist as well. She literally paints a beautifully creative story in front of your eyes. When reading the initial reviews before I ordered this graphic novel, I was overwhelmed with talk about the spectacular artwork that this story held. The reviews were not misleading as I was absolutely blown away with the artwork. Novgorodoff provides us with a maculate mixture of classical Chinese water color dominating the colorful backgrounds and a modern digital graphic design to well define her characters. I figured it was only appropriate to explain how powerful the artwork is in the book as it may be the most driving force behinds the book’s awesomeness!

undertaking-lily-art

Synopsis – Deshi Li is a young man in China who is working late night on the military air base when he receives a surprise visit from his brother Wei. One thing leads to another and a horrible accident occurs that leads to Wei’s death. Deshi is then forced to face and explain to his parents how the family’s pride and joy has untimely passed away. Deshi knows this will not go over well as Wei was always  viewed by the family as the star-child. Furthermore, the graphic novel touches on a factual problem that faced rural China known as “ghost marriages”- the Chinese tradition demands that husbands and wives always share a grave. Sometimes, when a man died unmarried, his parents would procure the body of a woman, hold a “wedding,” and bury the couple together. This was the very burden that Deshi’s family was happy to spitefully bestow upon him. The story then tells a twisted tale of Deshi’s search for his brother’s corpse bride. Deshi will follow these orders to the ends of Earth to prove his worth to his family. Along the way he will discover much about the world around him and even more about his true self.

 Reader Reference (1-5)

Story/Plot -4

Artwork- 6

Dialogue- 3

Overall- 4

Basic Info

Publisher – First Second

Publication Date – March 25, 2014

Page Numbers – 432 – (However, due to the book’s content being art/image heavy with dialogue sprinkled in, this may seem like a large page count, but it is probably a 30 min read).

Pricing-  Sticker Price- $29.99

                   Online – $19.22

Batman: Year One

Alright, here we are back at another Comic Kingdom graphic novel analysis. Today I am going to be talking about Batman: Year One, wonderfully written by Frank Miller, and beautifully illustrated by David Mazzucchelli. Finally, a chance to delve into my favorite comic producer: DC comics, and what better way to get started than a modern reinterpretation of the origin of Batman! DC’s dark knight (a.k.a. Bruce Wayne) is an iconic hero with endless depth awaiting in the shadows for any eager reader to explore his story in the dark city of Gotham. The reason I am excited for today’s review: Whether you are a long time fanboy, or don’t even know who Batman is, Batman: Year One will serve as a spectacular read!

Batman Year One.jpg

Synopsis- So as mentioned above, Batman: Year One is a reinterpretation of the origin of Batman. The story is all too familiar, however Frank Miller finds a way to keep the reader wondering what is going to happen next. So, the story still unveils Bruce’s parent’s untimely death, and sure enough Bruce’s rage/concern for a world that allows such behavior, fuels his call for justice. Bruce Wayne, the richest man in town, decides to take it upon himself to fight crime in his corrupt city of Gotham. As a vigilante, Bruce Wayne decides to model his costume after a bat (a symbolic token of Bruce’s ability to overcome and harness what once was a great fear)  stirs up some trouble in the local police department. Largely due to the department’s own internal corruption, the Gotham Police department don’t take kindly to this masked man dressed like a bat harassing their city. Even though Batman is only beating up the criminals there is major resistance from the police department and the media as well. This is really where I notice the main difference in origin: Frank Miller provides what I believe to be a more realistic vibe of how Batman’s emergence into today’s world would go. The law enforcement took a jaded stance on this winged newcomer. It is also important to note that half of the story is focused in on Lt. Gordon who is having his own struggle just making honest work in a corrupted police department who is pitted against his “do-gooder” attitude. There is also a much appreciated cameo appearance from Catwoman as well. For the most part the story is going to feel familiar, but the dark tone, intensity building dialogue, and the more than fitting artwork all make this story one amazing interpretation of the origin of possibly DC’s greatest hero. I HIGHLY recommend this one!

Reader Reference (1-5 Scale)

Story/Plot- 5

Artwork- 5

Dialogue-5

Overall-5

Basic Info

Publisher- DC Comics

Publication Date- January 2007 (November 1986 original story revamp)

Page Numbers-136

Pricing- Sticker Price- $14.99

                  Online- $10.00

 

NightCrawler: Homecoming

Hello Comic Kingdom! Here comes the first graphic novel review of the year! Today we will be diving into a great character: Nightcrawler (a.k.a. Kurt Wagner). I grew up watching, reading, and loving the X-Men, and honestly Nightcrawler may be one of my favorites. As a kid I loved him purely for his blue demonic look, and badass powers. Now, as an adult (I guess), I was curious to find out wether or not the character had enough depth to turn into a decent graphic novel or not. My first instinct said: no way, I mean first of all its Marvel (not the biggest fan, more of a DC guy), and second of all its a brand new story line they are pushing (I usually prefer old story lines like The Dark Knight, The Killing Joke, and Infinity Gauntlet). However, my optimistic thirst for one of my favorite characters prevailed and I ordered the first volume: Nightcrawler Homecoming . So here we go!

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So as I said before, this is my very first graphic novel review, so I am going to try and give a synopsis without ruining anything as well. However, if you are one of those that doesn’t want to know ANYTHING before reading (completely understandable if you are) I highly suggest skipping the synopsis and heading straight for my graphic novel info and overall review.

Synopsis- So the novel starts off with Nightcrawler training with Wolverine, who apparently has lost his ability to rapidly heal or “Healing Factor” (news to me, but after some online research I found out it was not completely lost just slowed down by a robotic parasite given to him by Viper) and obviously indicated by the lack of Wolverine’s power, the Charles Xavier School being renamed “Jean Grey School for Mutants”, as well as Storms ridiculous new haircut, its safe to say this novel is set sometime in the future/new story line of X-Men. Also apparently Nightcrawler himself refers to his resurrection, as apparently he was dead and just now has come back to life, hence the name “Homecoming.” (Nightcrawler apparently came back from the dead as he voluntarily exiled himself from Heaven, so that his evil Demonic Father could not have direct access). In this oddly new shaped X-Men world, nightcrawler is also reunited with his non-blood related foster sister, who was raised with him in the circus. Her name is Amanda Stefton, and she is known as Daytripper, and/or the second version of Magik. Daytripper and Nightcrawler obviously have some left over feeling to sort out, but before the two have time to even catch up a vicious  assaulter by the name of Trimega bust in and the disordering event ensues. The majority of the novel consist of dealing with this extremely powerful opponent, and they even run into Nightcrawler’s old Circus Mutant buddies: Gummi, Haus, Feuer, and his and Amanda’s foster mother Margali Szardos. Between the X-Men, his circus troupe, and his lover Amanda, Nightcrawler is able to thwart off the forces of Trimega, but not before learning the most abysmal truth [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT]: Nightcrawler and Amanda’s foster mother Margali Szardos was behind the assault the whole time! In fact, Margali’s powers/plans where so strong that she was casting a spell that was strong enough to rip the fabrics of space and time threatening to deystroy the world Kurt and Amanda knew so well. SO in a last minute heroic attempt, Amanda uses her powers to seal off the spell, however in doing so she sacrificed herself, to Nightcrawler’s dismay.

The next two chapters in the book seem to be a lead in towards graphic novel volume 2: Nightcrawler: Reborn. The premise is around training new recruits as Kurt becomes a teacher. All to fast kurt has to put his teachings into action as he and his students are suddenly faced with a band of pirate mutants looking for total destruction. Like I said this seems like a lead in to the next novel, or if anything is at least introducing some characters that may be relevant in the series.

Reader Reference (1-5 Star Scale)

Story

Artwork4 (modern vibe)

Dialogue- 2.5 

Overall – 3 

Basic Info

Publisher- Marvel

Publication–  November 25, 2014

Page Number/Length- 136

Pricing- Sticker Price – $16.99

                  Amazon/Online- $10.89 Amazon Prime

Next in Series- Nightcrawler: Reborn. Vol. 2

My Favorite Comic Character: Spawn

So, to get things started here in Comic Kingdom, I feel it is only fair I give you guys some personal information about me, and what could be more valuable  or personal than my favorite comic book character, of all time! So watch out, here comes Comic Kingdom’s very first character bio/analysis: Spawn.

I will never forget the day I became captivated by this dark menacing hero/character. When I was about ten years old, I was watching the feature film classic  “Spawn” (released in 1997, directed by Mark A.Z. Dipped’) with my dad. As I saw this devilish looking protagonist, I asked my dad “So Spawn is the good guy, right?” He responded: “Eh, not quite.” Appropriately enough for a ten year old, I responded “So he is the bad guy then?” He answered with: “No not the villain either.”  I said   “That doesn’t make any sense”, “It will when you get older” he fittingly replied. This thoroughly  confused me at the time, but little did I know, my dad’s response had implanted a seed, rooted in my desire to unravel this confusion, that would later grow and develop into a life long passion for the greatest comic book Anti-Hero of all time!

Anti-Hero– A central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.

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Creator/First Appearance- Todd McFarlane released the very first issue of Spawn in May of 1992: Spawn #1. 

Background Info and Origin-  Before he was known as “Spawn”, the man behind the mask was Lt. Colonel Albert “Al” Francis Simmons, USMC. Al Simmons was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Clearly indicated by his Lt. Colonel status, Al was a total badass well before his “Spawn” days. He was an extremely proficient Force Recon Marine, who had even saved the President from  an assassination at one point. This impressive feat landed him a job within a highly classified unit within the CIA devoted to black ops. That being said, he was a no role model by any means either, as his lust for kicking ass and taking names for  the good ole’ red, white, and blue  led to the inevitable deterioration of his morality.  Over time however, Al eventually began to question his agency and those pulling the strings of these missions dipped in immorality.

This sense of doubt and resistance led to his demise, as Jason Wynn hired Bruce Stinson, Simmons’ friend and partner, to kill him. In a blazing inferno, Simmons was killed and his soul sent to Hell, because he had knowingly killed innocents while working for the CIA.

Simmons made a deal with an evil being known as Malebolgia: in exchange for his soul, he would get to see once again his wife, Wanda. However, when Simmons returned to the human world, five years had passed, and he had been transformed into a demonic creature with little memory of his former life (hence the name Spawn, short for HellSpawn). After regaining his memories, he sought out his wife, only to find she had moved on and married his best friend, Terry Fitzgerald, and that they now had a daughter named Cyan.

Powers/Ability  Origin- Spawn’s powers might just be the most fascinating part about my favorite character. Not for the sheer power of his powers and abilities, (not to say they aren’t quite fierce) but more over how his powers function. As most deals with demon lords go, there were plenty of “fine print” details Al Simmons failed to see or expect. Spawn’s powers are limited use, as in the more he uses his powers the closer he gets to exhausting the tank, and when the tank runs dry Al’s soul is officially damned forever. Thus, Malebolgia was more than happy to explain its a win win for him, as Al/Spawn can either keep using his powers to defeat the evils of both the human world, as well as vanquishing demons or he can sits idly by as he watches the world crumble before him.

Powers/Abilities- Al Simmons is not the first Hellspawn, as the series explains, and they all are special enforcers or potential generals that could one day assist leading the legion of Hell in battle. The source of power for all Hellspawns comes from necroplasm. It is the necroplasm which gives them their strength and durability. His strength is capable of lifting an entire building and throwing it with ease. Necroplasm was originally dubbed by humans as Psychoplasm, but later in translation has become the green goo we’re all more familiar with. Each Hellspawn is given 9:9:9:9 units of necroplasm and when that is gone they go straight back to Hell. Spawn’s main weapon however is his symbiotic suit. His suit is called Leetha of the 7th House of K or K7-Leetha.

The suit is connected to his central nervous system which allows him to control all parts of the suit, but at times the suit has protected him even if he is unconscious. He uses the suit to create his chains, spikes and to animate his cape to attack his foes, even cutting and dismembering limbs. The costume feeds off the necroplasm in Spawn’s body however the suit can also feed off evil from humans, certain animals such as insects, bats, etc and even from different parts of the city itself. Spawn’s power is only truly limited by imagination and his units of necroplasm. However due to Spawn retaining his military training he often uses firearms instead of his powers.

Reader Reference- Yet another reason I love Spawn- Only one story line to follow! Todd McFarlane is the one and only creator and owner of Spawn and the entire series. So is only one main story for Spawn. This makes the Comic kingdom Reader Reference an easy one. GET THE COMPENDIUM ITS WORTH IT!!!

The Spawn Compendium 1 includes issues #1-50! However it is in black and white, but honestly I was very cautious about buying myself, as I usually LOVE color, especially in graphic novels; however, Spawn’s dialogue  is the main attraction here so it was no problem for me to soar through all 1,136 pages!

spawn_compendium_01

Reader Reference Rating: 10 out of 10

(I realize I might be biased, but I promise its for good reasons!)

Welcome to Comic Kingdom!

Welcome one and all to Comic Kingdom! Appropriately enough, I would like to kick things off by introducing the general theme and overall goals our site: Here in Comic Kingdom we love anything and everything to do with comic books, superheroes, villains, the DC and Marvel universes, and any other variety of alternatively produced characters and stories that comprise the graphic novel realm. Comic Kingdom focuses primarily on graphic novel reader reviews, with a few superhero/villain features sprinkled on top. I created Comic Kingdom in hopes to provide an open environment/forum to discuss and share our thoughts and opinions on various graphic novels and the amazing, or not so amazing characters who comprise them.

As I said earlier, Comic Kingdom does love all comic books, but just for sake of review and application I tend to religiously stick to graphic novels, unless I can find an issue #1, or a complete set. I myself fell in love with comic books as a kid reading individual copies of a larger series at summer camp (Mainly Justice League and Avengers). Thankfully, the comic book community has evolved and power has graciously shifted towards the graphic novel format in the last decade. STOKED to have the site up and running feel encouraged to leave comments and any positive or negative feedback!

IF YOU ARE NEW TO GRAPHIC NOVELS, NO WORRIES, JUST CLICK THE LINK BELOW FOR SOME GENERAL INFORMATION!

https://www.bustle.com/articles/58138-4-things-everyone-gets-wrong-about-graphic-novels-and-the-people-who-read-them