Tag Archives: featured

Review: Southern Bastards #5

So here we are, back in Craw County after a brief hiatus. We come back to a little bit of a breather. A little bit of place setting. And that’s okay, because we learn a lot this episode too.

One of the big questions about the first arc was who exactly is Coach Boss? Earl said they played football together, but past that we knew nothing. How did he become so powerful? How did he become comfortable enough to kill a man in the street, in front of plenty of witnesses, and think he could get away with it? (He even went to the funeral and gave the sheriff the business!) While we don’t learn that, we do learn a lot about the man himself.

Coach Boss is ordinary, except for one defining trait: he doesn’t give up. In flashbacks he’s told that he’s terrible at football, and that he should quit. His family is insulted, and he’s told he should quit. He’s sexually assaulted, and he’s told he should quit. But he gets right back up and makes for the tackling block, like nothing even happened. So we learn that he’s an average player with an unhappy childhood, which is not a unique history, but he’s also the most stubborn man in Craw County. He makes it work. And he wants people to remember it, which is why he tempts fate and puts Earl’s stick (the weapon Boss used in the murder) right up on the wall of his barbeque joint. Fair enough.

Through a few wordless panels we also learn a lot about present day Coach Boss. His home is modest; he’s the only one sleeping in his bed; the empty half of his closet, and the one high heel on the floor that he hasn’t picked up, imply that he used to be married or be in some kind of relationship, which in turn implies a gloomy former life. These panels are drawn in pale, muted colors, which make the scene stand out from the red, heat soaked panels of the flashbacks. It gives the scenes of his home life a sterile feel; it makes him seem lonely.

The rest of the book is given to the funeral, which is okay, as well as the introduction of presumably major players who will soon be introduced/play a large role, which is much more interesting. We get a reference to a hunter who lives in the woods, twin young women who own the bank, maybe a reference to the Dixie mafia, a sick mayor and his wife (who most likely wields the power), as well as a panel solely focused on the sheriff, who was introduced in the last arc. Earl’s daughter is finally given a name (Berta), and I hope she comes to town really soon. She ought to bring Hell with her.

All of these pieces of story are pulled together by the once again incredible artwork. I already mentioned the coloring choices, but this issue proved again that Jason Latour is just as deft with quiet scenes as he is with violence. The scenes at the funeral lose none of their grit just because there’s a lot of talking.

Now that we know a little bit more about Coach Boss, and the table has been set, I’m really excited for what will hopefully be a big next issue. Bring the pain, Berta!

Story: Jason Aaron Art; Jason Latour

Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

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TV Review: Arrow S3E4 The Magician

arrowOn this episode of Arrow, Nyssa and Oliver join forces to go after the Dark archer. Yeah, that pretty much sums up the episode. There’s a lot of “who killed Sara” in the episode, enough to keep us the viewers wondering who’s telling the truth, and who’s lying. At the end of the episode I’m still not sure.

This is a pretty straightforward episode that brings the fact Malcolm Merlyn is still alive to front and center. Overall, the episode brings up a lot of interesting stuff. First there’s Thea and Oliver’s relationship. They’ve promised to be open to each other, but clearly they’re both keeping something back. Second, you’ve got Nyssa running around and trying to get vengeance, and then Oliver’s proclamation to her. Finally, there’s Oliver’s vow to not kill. He struggles a lot in this episode with that. And we see that he’s a lot worse about all of that in his past than we know about… ie his time with Amanda Waller.

The episode overall is pretty mixed. By itself, the episode doesn’t stand too well on its own. But, as part of the build up in the season, it’s a solid episode. In three episodes we’ve had a lot thrown at us, and this episode slows that down some to have us catch up and bring some of those threads together.

It’s a bit weaker of an episode, but that’s partially because the first three were so packed with things. But, the episode was needed as well. Overall, Arrow has learned a lot in it’s first two seasons, and we’re seeing those lessons on full display, in a positive way, so far this season.

And, lets face it, it’s kind of hard to not dig the end of the episode.

Overall rating: 7.25

Review: Harley Quinn Volume 1: Hot in the City

The influence of Deadpool comics is really quite apparent in DC’s current Harley Quinn series; she’s a nutty killer who doesn’t take anything seriously and finds herself talking to both the reader and to herself. Thankfully, however, Harley Quinn, a comic co-written by couple Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner and primarily drawn by Chad Hardin, doesn’t feel overly derivative. There is enough uniqueness to the way this book operates that the Deadpool comparison is easy to forget while reading. It’s also important to note that having something like this, shining a silly light in a cave of grim and gritty darkness, taking place in a modern DC comic is special. The first nine issues of this comic, collected in Harley Quinn Volume 1: Hot in the City, form a great read that offers loads of funny, simple fun, even though it isn’t very consistent in quality.

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While not without the rare instance of groan-worthy, juvenile humor that vaguely objectifies particularly attractive women, Harley Quinn is largely sex-positive and empowering when it comes to its portrayal of sexuality. The titular main character, along with Poison Ivy, a reoccurring character used to pal around with Harley, is sexually playful, but the sense that they are in control and comfortable is always clear. The characters are also ethically complex, but this dynamic is handled with intelligent care; for example, when Harley takes up a part-time therapy gig, she doesn’t do anything offensive that will upset those emotionally invested in issues of mental health.

Fortunately, Harley Quinn’s first volume treads careful ground and offers light-hearted entertainment that is easy-to-read. The characterization of Harley works incredibly well, embodying an infectious, care-free brand of goofy sociopathic behavior with some heart. Harley just wants to have fun, which for her means loads of violence, loads of food, and loads of cute animals. Every now and then that quest for a good time is interrupted by an impassioned tangent from Harley. Often, these little bits manage to be more touching than what one would expect.

The book is all over the place in terms of plot, but this is rarely a cause for concern. Various plot threads are touched upon for just a little while before the book moves on, but at the end of the day, no subplot is particularly substantial enough to need that much attention. A lot is built in this series in terms of supporting cast and activities for Harley to partake in, all carried along with another simple, overarching plot point that ties every issue together. Most issues more or less work on their own, all the while crafting a bigger narrative that is fun in its totality.

To the book’s detriment, the quality isn’t linear either. The first issue, featuring a ton of fourth-wall breaking comedy that ends up incorporating a cavalcade of big name DC artists, is fantastic fun that is never exactly matched by later efforts. Sometimes, a particular issue isn’t as solid as the average attempt, dragging down the pacing. Towards the middle, particularly in a two-issue arc found in issues five and six, certain sequences come off as rushed and to a certain extent, dull. The comedy is usually sound, but every now and then it gets a bit uncomfortable; the most striking example is in the fourth issue, featuring some violence towards a young boy that proves unnerving.

The art style of Harley Quinn is largely safe, but still compelling in its technical proficiency and emotive sense of style. Page layouts are standard, but the sense of movement and display of facial emotion works as good as one would want. While not remarkable in this regard, the book manages to look and feel exciting and energetic. There is plenty of color and detail, with solid background work as well. The medium of sequential art is also put to great work here when it comes to comedy; panels bereft of dialogue that work mainly to get across a character’s facial reaction to something ridiculous are plentiful and end up being hilarious.

All in all, Hot in the City is a load of fun that is easy to enjoy. It doesn’t maintain a consistent quality, but it’s always enjoyable to some extent: generally a great extent. Anyone looking to get a laugh out of something in DC’s lineup would be hard-pressed to find something better.

Story: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner Art: Chad Hardin
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

To check out Matt’s about.me, click here.

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

TV Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2E6 A Fractured House

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoThe world turns against S.H.I.E.L.D. when Hydra impersonates them to attack The United Nations, and an unexpected enemy leads the charge to bring about their downfall.

With Hydra running around pretending they’re S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson’s team decides to head to a weapons dealer who might help them figure out where they enemy is, and stop them. The whole part is a bit odd, but it is what it is. There’s also an issue of a Senator after S.H.I.E.L.D. is Grant’s brother. I snickered when they listed him as a Republican.

I will say, the coolest part of the episode is the increased profile of Daniel Whitehall. This is one character from the comics that might be a bit under the radar for most. Whitehall is also known as Kraken, a relatively new character to the Marvel comic universe who was introduced in a S.H.I.E.L.D. related comic series Secret Warriors. Whitehall doesn’t sport his awesome design, but there’s hope we’ll see it in the future. Also solid in the episode is Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird’s relationship with her ex-husband. Their banter is solid, and we’ve seen something similar in comics with her and Hawkeye.

The action at the end is pretty decent. There’s some nice weapons battles and the inclusion of Morse to the team is very welcome. Seeing her kick-ass with her iconic weapons is great to see and of course May whipping ass too is entertaining.

With what Grant reveals to Skye, the episode continues to build to…. something. I’ve got thoughts, and theories as to where they might go with Skye, especially with her Hydra connections. There’s also the political play, which seems to shift S.H.I.E.L.D.’s standing with the US government. This is an interesting series shifting episode. Where it goes from here? We’ll see though.

Overall Score: 7

TV Review: The Flash S1E4 Going Rogue

theflash_full_costumeThe Flash stops a robbery but the culprits get away after shooting a guard, and The Flash chooses to save the man instead of following the criminals. Joe shows Barry a book of suspects and Barry identifies Leonard Snart as the leader of the group. Snart revises his plan to steal the Kahndaq Dynasty Diamond and gets a boost when he gets his hands on a stolen “cold gun,” which could kill The Flash. Dr. Wells is furious when he finds out that Cisco built the cold gun without telling anyone and now it’s missing. Meanwhile, Iris is getting the silent treatment from Joe because of her relationship with Eddie. Finally, The Flash and Captain Cold have an epic confrontation.

The first that stands out about the episode is the humor of it. With Felicity back for the episode, there’s a cuteness that really grounds The Flash. It’s really cute, and put a smile on my face. That cuteness is balanced out with the seriousness about half-way through as the Flash and his team have to deal with the loss of a life (a civilian, so no big shocks). That mix of serious and lightheartedness really makes the episode, and series, stand out for me.

This episode is the debut of Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold, probably the most iconic of Flash’s rogues. Out of them all Captain Cold is absolutely my favorite, partially due to the fact he’s somewhat sympathetic. He has a clear set of rules, like to not kill unless they have to. But, here he ups the damage compared to previous villains. He goes out of his way to cause damage, and almost kills folks, which flies in the face of his rules.

Even better, the episode ends in a bit of a draw, and sets up Snart/Captain Cold as a big villain for the future. We’ll clearly get the full Rogues in the future, I’m crossing my finger it’s this season, and if the end is any indication, looks like we will! Can’t wait.

Overall rating: 8.5

Chadwick Boseman is Black Panther

As announced at the Marvel event just a bit ago, Chadwick Boseman will be joining the Marvel cinematic universe as Black Panther. We had the confirmation of the film back in January of this year.

The 37 year old actor is mostly known for his break-out role as Jackie Robinson in the movie 42.

Black Panther first appeared in 1966 in Fantastic Four #52. He is the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, and pre-dates the Black Panther Party. The character’s real name is T’Challa, and he’s the ruler of the African nation of Wakanda, a technology rich and advance nation. You can learn more about the character here.

At the event, the below poster was handed out giving us our first idea of what he’ll look like. The film will be out November 3, 2017.

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Benedict Cumberbatch and those Pesky Doctor Strange Rumors

At today’s Marvel event, Kevin Feige was asked about the casting, and who will play Doctor Strange. The question hints at the erroneous reports that Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast.

Feige’s response:

If it was confirmed, we would have announced it today.

 

Yesterday reports came out that Cumberbatch had been cast, while the original report says that only negotiations were occurring. Once again geek sites are putting the cart before the horse and trolling for clickbait.

We understand the difference between “negotiations” and “been cast.” When the casting is official, we will of course cover the news.

Stay tuned for more Marvel movie news!

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Marvel’s Live Mystery Event. Civil War! Infinity War! Ragnarok! Captain Marvel! Black Panther! Inhumans!

Marvel has brought together fans and media for some mystery announcement. The event is about to kick off and we’ll be updating this post with all the news.

  • We’re catching our info from the live chat since we can’t be there…. too expensive to stream the event?
  • Marvel is showing the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer we’ve already seen.
  • Joss Whedon is at the event
  • Looks like we’re getting some Phase 3 info
  • Captain America 3: May 6, 2016 – it’s called: Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange: November 4, 2016 – Scott Derrickson directing
  • Doctor Strange will “Open up a whole new world for the cinematic universe…”
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2: May 5, 2017 <- the date moved up from the previously announced date
  • Thor: Ragnarok: July 28, 2017
  • Feige explains “Ragnarok means ‘The end of all things'”
  • Black Panther: November 3, 2017 – Chadwick Boseman is Black Panther!
  • Captain Marvel: July 6, 2018
  • “Captain Marvel has gone by many names…this character’s name is Carol Danvers
  • The Inhumans: November 2, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, May 4, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, May 3, 2019
  • Captain America: Civil War is the beginning of Phase 3.
  • Note the lack of Iron Man 4 news.
  • Not lack of Black Widow film – “Like Hulk, her role will be in the Avengers films” “Feige emphasizes that there are plans in which Black Widow is a key, key role
  • Some details on Civil War – “Events of the whole cinematic universe will make all governments in the world want regulation. Not so much about secret identity, but about who reports to who.

Here’s the slate of Marvel films in the order of their release. Seeing as characters getting solo films will likely be introduced in previous films, put on your thinking cap as to who will show up where, and how Marvel’s television slate will fit into it all.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1, 2015
Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016
Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017
Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017
Black Panther – November 3, 2017
Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 – May 4, 2018
Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018
The Inhumans – November 2, 2018
Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 – May 3, 2019

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Review: Purgatori #2

purgatori cover 002Purgatori represents an attempt by Dynamite Comics to revive an almost forgotten character from the bad girl days of mid-90s.  In the first issue the character was roughly introduced, offering enough of a jumping off point for either old fans or new fans to know what was going on.  In this issue Purgatori continues in her mission to free herself from the control of her bloodlust while also trying to figure out what has happened to her.

The issue kind of plays out in two distinctive parts.  The first half is more focused on mostly gratuitous blood and gore, as Purgatori is revealed to have sucked the blood dry out of numerous animals as well as the lecherous truck driver from the previous issue.  While this part of the story is maybe necessary to establish her as a character, it is equally difficult to read as it seems mostly superfluous, especially as some parts of it seem particularly unrealistic, especially as a random family looks at her writhing in pain and only comments something to degree that she is sick.  The second half of the issue finally advances the story, but it is once again with the somewhat unnecessary addition of blood and gore.  After she is rescued, her group is soon ambushed and killed, but the artist would have maybe been wiser to go with the “less is more” approach as the images of exploding heads is not really necessary from a storytelling standpoint.  It is only at the end where the story finally moves forward, but it is too late to save what the issue was after.

The end result of the issue is one that feels mostly unnecessary.  While the story is moved forward, it feels mostly as an afterthought to the gratuitous violence.  For fans eager to see the return of the character, perhaps some of this violence is what they after, but for a new reader, it feels as though this issue missed the mark.  Indeed, an issue two synopsis at the beginning of issue #3 would reveal little more than what transpired in the last three or so pages.  This promise of a story sounds intriguing enough, but the question becomes how long will it take to tell this story with all the other disturbances.

Story:  Aaron Gillespie Art: Javier Garcia-Miranda
Story: 6.5 Art: 6.0  Overall: 6.5  Recommendation: Pass

Dynamite provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

The Bunker #7 CoverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in! Below are ten suggestions of comics, graphic novels, or trade paperbacks you should spend some extra time checking out and think about picking up.

Pick of the Week: The Bunker #7 (Oni Press) – Any release of The Bunker, we’re excited. The series is a brilliant mix of sci-fi, mystery, and even some politics. The time travel aspect is engaging and each issue leaves us wanting more. Easily one of the best comics on the market.

Archer & Armstrong #25 (Valiant) – Valiant consistently puts out one of the best lines of comics, especially for those who enjoy the superhero genre. Archer & Armstrong is comedic action that never disappoints. If you don’t know what you’ve been missing, check out this oversized special issue.

Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations Vol. 2 (Self Made Hero) – The second volume of the acclaimed graphic novel account of the Middle East, written by internationally renowned scholar, Jean-Pierre Filiu and award-winning artist, David B.

This second volume covers Nasser’s Egypt through to the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Iranian Revolution in 1979. An essential read for anyone interested in the history of the region

Deathlok #1 (Marvel)  – Deathlok plays a big role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so Marvel is attempting to do some cross media synergy. Should be interesting to see what they do with this.

Godkiller Walk Among Us #1 (Black Mask Studios) – The comic six years in the making, with a cult following gets a mass release. The epic story of a boy’s quest to save his sister, GODKILLER is a twisted, sci-fi/horror adventure about 16 year old Tommy’s odyssey through a post-nuke wasteland (populated by fallen gods, organ-stealing hookers, and sex-addicted technowizards) as he searches for a new heart to save his dying sister.

I Remember Beirut (Lerner Books) – A graphic memoir of growing up in war torn Beirut.

Rasputin #1 (Image Comics) – The first issue is fascinating with this interesting take on the very real, and rather mysterious Rasputin. The first issue tells us a lot, but not where the series is going. Still, it’s interesting with amazing art.

Southern Bastards #5 (Image Comics) – Southern gothic noir at its best.

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #34 (IDW Publishing) – We love IDW’s Transformers line. Its shaken up the 30 year old brand in a good way leaving us wanting more each month.

Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow (DC Comics/Vertigo) – Awesome anthology with fantastic talent.

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