Reviewing Daredevil and the future of Netflix

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Back in 2013, Netflix announced an exciting new deal with Marvel Studios to produce a selection of live action series based on some of the best characters from Marvel’s comic books. Situated in the established Marvel cinematic universe, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones were signed to receive 13 episodes per season, before culminating in a team-up, The Defenders.

The first of these series was scheduled to be Daredevil, a superhero crime drama by showrunner Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods). The show would focus on the blind lawyer known as Matt Murdock, who tackles crime in and outside of the courtroom in Hell’s Kitchen. With his superhuman senses, he attempts to make his city a better place.

The character of Daredevil is synonymous with having some of the best talent in comic book history, and he boasts some of Marvel’s finest work to date. From Frank Miller’s ground-breaking masterpiece, to Bendis/Brubaker’s captivating run and Waid/Samnee’s recent reinvigoration, Daredevil has had it all.

However, he hasn’t had the same luck with movies. The wounds are still sore from Fox’s attempt at Daredevil, which was a cinematic travesty. Despite the fact that the director’s cut was bearable, everyone remembers that park scene. So, Netflix had their work cut out for them to produce something that finally did the character justice.

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Have no fear though, as Netflix qualms any concerns. Casting British actor Charlie Cox (Stardust, Boardwalk Empire) was possibly the best decision they made for the show, as they discovered someone who embodied the charm of Murdock and the vehemence of the horned devil all in one delightful mix.

The same praise can be said for Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), who plays the intimidating crime lord, Wilson Fisk. Known as Kingpin to others, D’Onofrio provides one of the most impressive performances of a comic book villain ever. Alongside these two stars, Daredevil also features Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood) as the vulnerable Karen Page, and Eldren Henson (Mighty Ducks) as Murdock’s friend and associate, Foggy Nelson.

Daredevil manages to seamlessly focus on both aspects of Murdock’s life, with drama and action intertwining with ease. Some fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed, with several sequences that’ll leave jaws agape. One corridor sequence in the second episode – filmed all at once without cuts – is even being commended for its technical achievement.

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It’s worth nothing that Netflix manages to clean the taint that is given to superhero television shows. Due to the high production values of Daredevil, it abolishes any concerns of being likened to cheaper network programmes, such as Arrow or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The cinematography is fantastic, with some moments feeling like they were ripped straight from the pages of a comic book.

Whilst Daredevil hasn’t always been a dark and gritty superhero since his creation, Netflix takes inspiration from Frank Miller and Bendis’ take on the character. For those looking for a swashbuckling adventure, you’ll be left slightly disappointed. Whilst this show doesn’t lend itself to the dark ridiculousness of some other comic book heroes, it is still a series littered with murder, human trafficking and suicide. However, there’s a slight sprinkle of comedy, which mostly comes from Foggy Nelson.

Whilst Daredevil is shared within the Marvel cinematic universe, there isn’t a great deal of references towards other events/heroes. The Battle of NY gets mentioned, but that’s about it. Some keen eyed viewers may recognise some small bits in later episodes, but this is really Daredevil’s story. Not having Frogman at all is a bit unforgivable, though.

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References aren’t necessarily essential anyway, as you’re pulled in with an enthralling story and some superb acting. The bar has now been set for other superhero shows, as it’s beautifully shot, perfectly cast and brilliantly crafted. It might just be the television highlight of the year, which is a mighty achievement regarding other shows that have been on recently, such as Better Call Saul.

General feedback has been positive since the release, and it can be safely said that Netflix’s deal with Marvel Studios will be hugely beneficial. Their new model to create their own content has been their best idea yet, and anyone torrenting Netflix’s content is doing a disservice to themselves and the great product provided. Hell, even if you can’t afford the meagre cost, just sign up for free.

The next comic book property lined up is A.K.A. Jessica Jones, which is currently being developed by Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter). This time round, viewers will follow the story of Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad), who starts up her own detective agency after a tragic end to her superhero career.

The series will be based on Bendis’ Alias, which was the first title to be published under the MAX imprint at the time, allowing it to appeal to an adult audience with R-rated content. It provided Bendis with creative freedom within Marvel, and Jessica Jones soon became an important part the Avengers soon after that.

A.K.A. Jessica Jones will also establish some fan-favourites from Marvel comics, such as Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Patsy Walker ‘Hellcat’ (Rachael Taylor). David Tennant also stars as the evil Killgrave (aka The Purple Man), who might just be one of the most vile villains in Marvel comics. Dr Who fans might be in for a shock with his unique role.

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Following Luke Cage’s introduction, he will be receiving his very own show alongside his team-mate and fellow Hero for Hire, Iron Fist. Each character will be getting the 13 episode treatment too, focusing on Cage’s life as an ex-con with bulletproof skin, and Iron Fist’s life as a millionaire bestowed with awesome mystical powers.

The Defenders will bring all of these characters together for a mini-series, to face their biggest threat yet. Speculation over who they’re facing has begun amongst fans, with ideas ranging from a full invasion from The Hand (evil occult ninjas), to stopping the devastating killing machine known as The Punisher.

With Marvel gaining the rights back for The Punisher, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see news of Thomas Jane being involved with Netflix any time soon. Despite the critics’ response of the 2004 film, Thomas Jane’s depiction of the Punisher was spot on. Just three years ago, he reprised the role in this incredible short film, ‘Dirty Laundry’:

Whether or not The Defenders decides to utilise The Hand remains to be seen. They’re an integral part of Daredevil’s history, and they are closely linked to his love interest Elektra. Therefore, it might be best to implement them at a later date. Nonetheless, these two theories may not even be included at all. For all we know, it could be Stilt-Man making his own empire.

Outside of the Netflix/Marvel deal, a Punisher series based on Garth Ennis’ MAX run would greatly benefit from the freedom of Netflix’s model. At this point there a few characters they could use, such as Blade, Ghost Rider, Cloak and Dagger, Power Pack, Elektra and Hawkeye.

Whilst it might not be worth touching Blade and Ghost Rider any time soon, it would be criminal to leave Cloak and Dagger without a mini-series at least. If Netflix ever decided to include Hawkeye in any form on television, then they should look no further than the most recent Matt Fraction and Aja/Wu run on the character. The possibilities are endless.

It’s an exciting time to be a Marvel fan, with Netflix now gaining traction with their new television series and Marvel’s films now entering the third phase. Hopefully A.K.A. Jessica Jones is also a hit, and that the rest of the series allows for an extended deal for both parties involved. Either way, the future looks bright for this partnership.

The Best Comic You’re Not Reading.

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When it comes to recommending comics, people appear to show a slight disdain for anything Transformers related. It’s understandable really, as the comics haven’t had the best track record and Michael Bay’s movies are complete drivel. Thankfully, publisher IDW manages to shake off that image of greasy objectified women and dull robots, with their ongoing comic series; Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye.

Nearing its 40th issue, Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye is written by James Roberts, with artwork from series regular Alex Milne. Previously, Roberts caught the attention of Transformers fans when he co-wrote ‘Last Stand of the Wreckers’, which was a harrowing tale of sacrifice and betrayal. This attention led to him taking charge of his own title, which is arguably IDW’s finest publication to date.

The concept is simple, and it feels surprisingly fresh for a Transformers comic. A band of Autobots and Decepticons board the Lost Light, a space vessel in search of the legendary Knights of Cybertron, a mythical group that was believed to have once existed on their home planet. Led by the cocksure Rodimus, his merry team of weird, dangerous and sometimes drunk Transformers get involved with whacky adventures in space.

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Of course, not everything goes to plan, even during their departure from Cybertron. Following an unexpected quantum jump, the Lost Light is thrown into the depths of space, where a number of bizarre individuals attempt to overcome a stowaway predator, a fatal zombie plague and one of the deadliest threats in the entire galaxy. Throwing the Transformers into such uncharted territory allows for creative freedom and some innovative storytelling, which reels in the reader with every passing page.

It’s not just the quality of Roberts’ writing, but it’s the sheer quantity of it all. Nowadays, it’s not very common in this industry for comics to be so layered with action and dialogue, but it takes a decent amount of time to finish even a single issue, let alone an entire volume. Readers may even feel obliged to give IDW more money for a single issue, due to how ridiculously dense it always is. If you’re currently reading the title, do not hesitate to reread some panels as you’ll discover some clever foreshadowing throughout.

James Roberts also introduces a selection of fan favourites in More Than Meets the Eye, and he provides character development which hasn’t been witnessed in previous Transformers incarnations. Whilst reading, you’ll witness the hilarious bartender Swerve, the maniacal Whirl, and the Autobot who is almost never amused; Ultra Magnus. There’s a multitude of fantastic and unique characters in this comic and readers are sure to find a favourite amongst them all.

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The series is currently in its second run having undergone a refreshing shuffle of characters, after the events of Dark Cybertron. Ex-Decepticon Megatron is now captain of the Lost Light, and not only are fellow travellers questioning his allegiance, but readers too. That’s the beauty of this comic, as Roberts’ manages to develop an already established character for the old and new readers, whilst maintaining interest.

Meanwhile, the comic has recently introduced a mysterious coffin, time travel hijinks and disappearing objects. It fulfils all the needs of a comic book reader, by utilising all of these fantastical science fiction elements. More Than Meets the Eye likes to keep you on your toes by keeping it fresh and this second run is no exception.

Of course, James Roberts’ script is aided by Alex Milne, who is arguably one of the franchise’s best artists to date. It’s a visual look that hasn’t really been approached before; stylishly cartoonish and colourful, whilst retaining a level of detail that is appropriate for a Transformers title. Milne has previously worked for the doomed company Dreamwave, but it is now IDW that benefits from his talent. He was underutilised previously, but now he’s firing on all cylinders.

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If you’ve not been won over yet, it must be acknowledged that due to not confining to the strict formula of previous titles, More Than Meets the Eye manages to impress diehard fans, and new readers who are unbeknownst to the concept of transforming robots in space. It’s a grand accomplishment, as the transformers themselves don’t necessarily feel like soulless robots.

It certainly feels like an established universe, and whilst readers may have difficulty in differentiating their ‘bots from their ‘cons, they’ll soon be invested in these characters and that’s when the tears will flow.

It’s also due to the themes that it tackles, which really transcends this comic from every other version of the Transformers. There are in-depth debates about religion, politics and identity which appear all throughout the comic, and it is fascinating how rooted these problems are in their society. These themes are displayed heavily in flashbacks, and concurrent throughout.

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More Than Meets the Eye even boasts its first unofficial gay relationship in the Transformers universe, and whilst that might not necessarily feel like new territory for comic readers, it’s worth noting that it’s a first for a franchise, especially for one based on selling toys. It’s a welcome change and yet another reason why this comic is so accessible. Just don’t go visiting some particular 18+ fan sites, unless you’re into that kind of thing.

To put it simply, the characters feel real. They have their own emotions, beliefs and motives. So, be afraid when Roberts’ lulls you into a false sense of security, only to have a horrible twist down the line. It will happen, and it will hurt.

Transformers comics haven’t fared very well in the past, and whilst the Marvel series has a special place in the fan’s hearts, it is More Than Meets the Eye that truly stands as being the finest comic book accomplishment in the Transformers history to date. It succeeds where other series have failed.

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It is a sci-fi adventure that takes the reader for one hell of a journey, which never falters in telling a rich, compelling and emotional story. Milne’s artwork is utterly superb and near faultless, providing the reader with an incredible look into such a great universe.

If you’re still put off by the fact that it’s Transformers, then so be it. Just be aware that you’re missing out on of the finest publications on the shelves right now, in an industry that is run down by mind-numbing event, pointless reboots and average storytelling. Also, those other comics don’t have the ex-Wrecker Whirl, and that’s awful.

JACO The Galactic Patrolman – Manga Review

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Sometimes, it’s hard to come by a manga series which is worth a reader’s time. Entire series usually come in more than 50 volumes, or titles are stretched over extended periods, due to their popularity. It can be argued that there really isn’t that much artistic diversity in popular manga nowadays, which is a pressing problem for avid comic readers attempting to return to the Eastern fold.

However, once in a while there’s something that is relatively fresh and exciting. This month, that new and exciting title is Akira Toriyama’s Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Apart from a few one-shots in Weekly Shonen Jump and some artist collaborations, it is Toriyama’s first new series in years since working on Dragonball and Dragonball Z.

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is a quirky comedy, which focuses on a retired scientist named Omori, who lives alone on his deserted island. Surrounded by a monster shark, Omori rarely leaves his home as he attempts to continue his research into time-travel.

His life is unexpectedly interrupted by the appearance of an alien named Jaco, claiming to be a ‘galactic patrolman’ who has been sent on a mission to eradicate a deadly life-form on its way to Earth. Of course, things don’t go smoothly for Jaco, as his intergalactic spaceship crashes on Omori’s quiet little island. The pair attempts to fix his ship for him, before it’s too late.

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Akira Toriyama’s new book is a refreshing little story, with some superb storytelling throughout. It’s helped with his trademark comedy that is often found in previous series. Perverse and slightly peculiar, the jokes are set up brilliantly, warranting at least a laugh now and then.

It also stands out amongst the shelves with Akira Toriyama’s signature art style. It honestly doesn’t feel like there’s a single panel wasted in this book, as his wonderful artwork is crammed into 250 pages worth of content.

Unsurprisingly, Toriyama excels with the action sequences throughout the book as well. Whilst there isn’t a great deal of them, they’re still engaging without lending to the ridiculousness of Dragonball Z’s later brawls. These sequences are simple, yet effective.

It’s a fine return to form for one of the biggest names in manga and anime. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is engaging and entertaining, providing the reader with some lovely characterisations. Jaco for example, is a vain, powerful and annoying alien, which is a welcome change for a protagonist.

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However, despite these qualities, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman leaves us desiring more. Before we know it, the plot has been wrapped up, we’ve been spoiled with some neat surprises and that’s that. With such unique characters, it feels almost criminal to leave Jaco in such a manner.

It’s not often that this happens with manga, but perhaps Jaco will return with some more adventures in the future. If this book is just utilised as a vehicle for something else, then that’s a shame as Toriyama has successfully managed to get readers invested in these individuals.

Either way, it’s a delightful little treat for fans. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is a refreshing read from start-to-finish. It has that signature art style, which is a welcome change for those in dire need for something different.  Here’s hoping that Akira Toriyama produces some material sooner rather than later, because it’s been a while.

Framed Recommendations – 12/11/14

This week saw the release of two new Marvel comics, Superior Iron Man and Captain America. Unsurprisingly, both comics failed to impress. Superior Iron Man came straight out of the current Marvel event that keeps giving, and Tom Taylor’s script was vastly underwhelming. There’s really no reason for Tony Stark to be written as such a reprehensible character anymore. Axis’ core concept might be switching the alignment of good and evil, but it’s just not interesting or exciting.

Captain America was also disappointing, despite Stuart Immonen being on the creative team. Rick Remender has proven he can be fantastic before, especially with Uncanny X-Force, but Captain America was fairly boring from start to finish. The final reveal wasn’t anything new, as it’s all been done before. Let’s get some new blood into Captain America’s rogues’ gallery already, Marvel.

However, it’s not all bad this week. Cameron Stewart’s Batgirl arrived on our shelves, and here’s hoping this Batgirl is here to stay. It’s such a refreshing read, and the artwork really compliments the script. How long can DC keep it up? Who knows, but here’s hoping it’s a while.

Admittedly, a guilty pleasure of the week was Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. Sure, we’ve seen it all before. Batman conveniently has the upper hand against Superman and the Justice League every time, but it was still a bit of fun. It’s probably helped by Capullo’s artwork as well, making it the nicest looking Batman story for some time now.

Finally, Mark Millar’s MPH had it’s fourth issue this week. Duncan Fegredo’s artwork is always on form, and even though it’s a strong statement to make, his Hellboy artwork was better than Mignola’s. MPH has had a decent build up so far, and it’s strange to think it could be a film worth looking forward to. Ignoring Millar’s Kick-Ass sequels and other nonsense, titles such as MPH and Starlight make you realise he’s got a great deal of talent.

BATGIRL #36 Stewart + Fletcher / Tarr DC
BATGIRL #36
Stewart + Fletcher / Tarr
DC
BATMAN #36 Snyder / Capullo DC
BATMAN #36
Snyder / Capullo
DC
HAWKEYE VS DEADPOOL #02 Duggan / Lolli MARVEL
HAWKEYE VS DEADPOOL #02
Duggan / Lolli
MARVEL
MPH #04 Millar / Fegredo IMAGE
MPH #04
Millar / Fegredo
IMAGE

Framed Recommendations – 29/10/14

There really wasn’t anything worth reviewing last week, as the new comic releases were pretty terrible, save for the final issue of Starlight. The new Deathstroke hit, but that resulted in being typical DC fodder. Arkham Manor showed promise, but that’s about it. Marvel fared even worse last week, as they continued Axis for some reason. It is honestly the worst thing Marvel have put out in a long while, and these new miniseries seem to suffer from Axis‘ poor core concept.

This week however, we’re treated to two magnificent reads; Saga and Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye. Vaughan and Staples further their epic with a new direction, which will hopefully prove to be entertaining for the next part of this series. Vaughan’s on top form in this issue, and Staples proves to be incredible as per usual. It’s just a damn shame that they have both confirmed that we won’t see any new Saga until 2015. That’s like, 2 months away. 2 months too long.

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye has started off with a new arc, focusing on Megatron’s life as a writer. It’s real interesting stuff, and it provides a great insight into the Decepticon cause too. There’s no need going into details with this issue though, as Roberts’ comic has some surprising moments throughout. It is easily the best comic out at the moment, and it’s so ridiculously dense. It’s rare to see a comic that is actually worth its cover price, and then some.

Finally, it appears that DC will be losing a few readers once the new creative team starts on Wonder Woman. Azzarello’s Wonder Woman was a great little treat for readers, as it managed to separate itself from DC’s dark and edgy look. Sure, we’ve had Batgirl and Gotham Academy recently, but this was the case for some time. David Finch has taken over the art duties for Wonder Woman now, and he’s already been successful in turning her into a teenager, who resembles the talentless talking airbag, Megan Fox.

Transformers: MTMTE #34 Roberts / Rojo IDW
Transformers: MTMTE #34
Roberts / Rojo
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SAGA #24 Vaughan / Staples IMAGE
SAGA #24
Vaughan / Staples
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WONDER WOMAN #35 Azzarello / Chiang DC
WONDER WOMAN #35
Azzarello / Chiang
DC

Framed Recommendations – 15/10/14

This week was a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst Marvel released Daredevil and the best Edge of Spider-verse issue to date, they still brought out the second instalment of Axis. Rick Remender has done some fine work in the past, but this event just reeks of horrible, rehashed ideas which will only pave the way for some new titles. Superior Iron Man might turn out to be okay, but if we have to read Axis to get there, it just might not be worth it. It’s the worst event since Age of Ultron, and that’s saying something.

Death of Wolverine ended rather abruptly, having had little to no storyline whatsoever in the three previous issues. It just ended on a whimper, with a death which will probably be reversed somehow. Whether it be magic, Magneto or some super adamantium-healing serum that will help him, Marvel will definitely bring him back when the next Fox movie makes money. It’s unfortunate that one of my favourite characters get such terrible treatment. At least plan a credible, coherent story Marvel.

Anyway, I digress. Onto the good stuff. Waid and Samnee’s Daredevil started off fresh from Original Sin, with an interesting take on the Purple Man. One of Daredevil’s oldest foes made some lovely purple children, and they took it upon themselves to take down Matt Murdock in this week’s issue. Again, Samnee does some fantastic work throughout, and Waid wove Matt’s past torment into the story rather nicely. It’s totally worth checking out, and the same can be said for Gerard Way’s Edge of Spider-verse. It is obviously heavily influenced by Neon Genesis Evangelion, but it read well and it looked pretty. Please Way, write more comics. The industry misses you.

Finally, B.P.R.D., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Prometheus – Fire and Stone all manage to impress. If you haven’t checked out any of the Fire and Stone tie-ins, then do so. They’re actually not bad, and of course, IDW still continue to provide the best comic incarnation of the mutant turtles to date. Get on it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #39 Eastman / Waltz IDW
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #39
Eastman / Waltz
IDW
Daredevil #09 Waid / Samnee MARVEL
Daredevil #09
Waid / Samnee
MARVEL
B.P.R.D Hell on Earth #124 Mignola / Arcudi DARK HORSE
B.P.R.D Hell on Earth #124
Mignola / Arcudi
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Prometheus - Fire and Stone #02 Tobin /  Ferreyra DARK HORSE
Prometheus – Fire and Stone #02
Tobin / Ferreyra
DARK HORSE
Edge of Spider-verse #05 Way / Wyatt MARVEL
Edge of Spider-verse #05
Way / Wyatt
MARVEL

Framed Recommendations – 08/10/14

So, here’s something I’m trying to restart on Sniktbubs.com. Seeing as I read a lot of comics every single week, I’ve decided to frame certain moments from some of my most enjoyable reads of the week. You’ll see a variation of panels from different publishers, and I encourage everyone to pick up these titles (or else), because they’re brilliant. These will probably be numbered randomly in the future, but I’ll try my best to showcase my excellent taste.

This week wasn’t so bad for DC, with Stewart’s eagerly anticipated Batgirl managing to entertain, and Batman finally returned to form after the dismal Zero Year event. Capullo is on form here, and I’ll go as far as to say it’s some of his best looking work to date. With Halloween soon approaching, look no further than Snyder and Jock’s Wytches, and Archie Comics’ new Sabrina title. Snyder excels with the horror genre, and it’s a decent first read. Sabrina is fantastic and it just shows that Archie Comics have really branched out this year. If you haven’t checked out Sabrina or Afterlife with Archie yet, then do so! Horror comics done remarkably well. Oh, and Gerry Duggan shows Bunn how to do a Deadpool miniseries. About time, really.

Sex Criminals #08 Fraction / Zdarsky IMAGE
Sex Criminals #08
Fraction / Zdarsky
IMAGE
Batgirl #35 Stewart / Tarr DC
Batgirl #35
Stewart / Tarr
DC
Wytches #01 Snyder / Jock IMAGE
Wytches #01
Snyder / Jock
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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #01 Aguirre-Sacasa / Hack ARCHIE COMICS
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #01
Aguirre-Sacasa / Hack
ARCHIE COMICS
Batman #35 Snyder / Capullo DC
Batman #35
Snyder / Capullo
DC
Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool #01 Duggan / Lolli + Camagni MARVEL
Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool #01
Duggan / Lolli + Camagni
MARVEL