Mini Review For The Week Ending 6/11
Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.
Howard The Duck #8 (Marvel)* Even though I had very little idea who Howard’s ally/friend was this issue, and while that probably impacted my connection to the issue a little, Zdarsky still packs enough here to get you in the feels. Howard The Duck is one of the best surprises for me each month, because just when I start thinking about trimming my pull list, there’s an issue like this that reminds me why I shouldn’t drop this comic. It’s fun, kinda goofy, and it never shies away from pointing out just how ridiculous comics can be sometimes. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Souls #2 (Titan) Dark Souls is one of my favourite video games I’ve played in years, and so while I want to enjoy this comic… it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the game for me. Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read it if you’re curious, pass it by if you’re not.
Dresden Files: Wild Card #3 (Dynamite) A solid issue that offers a bit of clarity on the villain, but doesn’t do much for the series in general. This series certainly has that Dresden feel from the books, but showing other character’s points of view is throwing me off a little (the books are all first person from Dresden’s perspective). Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Assassin’s Creed: Templars #1 (Titan) It’s a solid issue – certainly not the worst comic I’ve ever read, but not the best from either Van Lente or Calero either. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Vision #8 (Marvel)*: It’s a shame that Tom King’s run on Vision is slated to end at issue 12. This series has proven to be one of the best Marvel books out there right now; I am not looking forward to the end. Issue 8 brings in Vision’s brother into the storyline with a surprise (and copious references to Cervantes). King’s writing continues to build up the dystopian tension of the synthezoid family, and Walt’s art well captures the odd ordinariness of the doomed family’s attempt at normal suburban life. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy
Wacky Raceland #1(DC)*: Another attempt by Warner Bros to cash in on their stable of cartoon properties. To be fair it wasn’t half bad. The writing is rushed, but the fully reimagined racers (Sergeant Blast is now transgendered) set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland racing to the death, merges the best of Mad Max and Death Race 2000. DC didn’t skimp out on the art either, with Manco’s realistic pencil renderings. The crews are handpicked by a yet to be fully revealed A.I., to compete for a chance to gain entry to a promised utopia. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Read
House of Penance #3 (Dark Horse)** Tomasi and Bertram team up to craft a gritty and surreal western horror story about guns and redemption, based on the legendary Winchester Mystery House. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.
Big Trouble in Little China #25 (Boom!)**: Sad to see this crazy ride come to an end. Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel like a finale so much as an extended coda. Returning Jack Burton to the events of the movie could have easily been much, much more insane, especially coming from Fred Van Lente. Nice to see Dan McDaid back on art, even though I’ve really been digging Victor Santos’ cartoony approach. Having a variety of artists on a story is always challenging – but for me, it only works when each artist has a clear chapter to work with, which isn’t the case here. The result is a kind of wandering last issue that rummages around for loose ends. Overall: 6. Recommendation: buy to complete the set.
The Baker Street Peculiars #3 and #4 (kaboom!)**: I have been utterly charmed by this Roger Langridge & Andy Hirsch all-ages comic. The fun they’re having with this tale pours out of every page. 1933 London comes to life, the three kid adventurers (working for Sherlock Holmes for a shilling a week) are great characters and a great team, the final battle with the famous statues (who’ve been turned into golems by cockney golem boss Chippy Kipper) is a riot. And bonus points for Langridge’s Holmes limericks on the back cover. More, please! Overall: 9 Recommendation: when this comes out in trade, buy.
Midnight of the Soul #1 (Image)**: I love to see a new Howard Chaykin comic, and especially one set in the 1950’s. I was happy to see him dealing with one man’s fallout from WWII. And then it kind of turned into almost a tired parody of a Chaykin noir comic where it could have been deeper, richer, and more complex. Overall: 5. Recommendation: pass.
Island #8 (Image)**: This issue of Brandon Graham & Emma Rios’ science fiction anthology kicks off with a gorgeous wordless mega-spread from Spanish artist Xulia Vicente, who I’m seeing for the first time here. Then Canadian indie comics star Michael DeForge absolutely kills it with a story about Americans reincarnating on Saturn that starts out quirky and charming and takes a much more sinister turn. There’s a couple of nice double-page spreads from Ben Sears. But the entire last half of the book is devoted to the conclusion of Simon Roy’s “Habitat”. And after the first half of the book, a last half that is so completely conventional (not badly done, just conventional) was a let-down. Overall: first half 8, second half 5. Recommendation: read the first half.
The Sheriff Of Babylon #7 (DC/Vertigo)**: Love Tom King or hate him, he gets points for being impossible to peg and always keeping readers on their toes. After the pro-torture/pro-brainwashing viewpoints expressed in “The Omega Men,” he goes and serves us this, the most blunt and frightening depiction of “enhanced interrogation” we’ve probably ever seen in a comic book. Mitch Gerads’ art pulls no punches in driving the unpleasantness home, either. Vital, necessary work that’s most certainly not for the faint of heart, this issue gives “Providence” #6 some serious competition in the “Most Disturbing Comic Of The Year” sweepstakes. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy.
The Dark & Bloody #5 (DC/Vertigo)**: Perhaps no other comic on the shelves right now has shown as much consistent improvement as Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlewski’s rural horror opus. With one issue left the nature of the evil stalking our protagonist and his family is coming into view, and its implications will no doubt have life-changing consequences for all parties involved. Confident, bold, topical terror with strong characterization and superb art, this is one series that I’ll hate to see end next month, even though I’m dying to know how it all wraps up. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.
Second Sight #5 (Aftershock)**: I admire what writer David Hine is trying to do here in terms of showing that his protagonist is a deeply flawed and in some ways even despicable individual, but the dialogue this time out was a bit clunkier than usual and the death of a key supporting player is handled in an almost cavalier manner, all while an anti-domestic-violence message that I’m sure we can all agree on is (sorry to say it, but) hammered home in uncharacteristically clumsy and heavy-handed fashion. Alberto Ponticelli’s art continues to impress, though, and I’m confident this issue represents more a bump in the road than an actual trend. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Buy if you’re reading the book, pass if you aren’t.
Back to the Future Volume 1 (IDW): The 30th anniversary of Back to The Future, made many fans revisit the original films, but what most of us wanted was a another movie, so IDW came up with the next best thing, a comic continuation. This volume focused onalternate dimensions including ones explored in the movies.We get some origin stories of Doc Brown and some different takes on how Marty would handle alternate worlds. By this volume’s end, you will be clamoring for more. Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy
Limbo TPB (Image): Just when I thought the last masterful melding of Genres would be Blade Runner , this piece of art shatters all expectations. In this miniseries, you are introduced to a private detective who goes by the name of Clay, who has no memory but suffers from a form of PTSD. In this world surrounded by Gangsters who are dressed by Lucha Libre and cyberspace blurs reality, lies the city of Dedande. As he searches for the facts on a case, he discovers truths about himself. By book’s end, you find a man reminiscent of the main character from Memento. Overall: 10 Recommendation:Buy
Ghoul Scouts#1 (Action Lab): When a town called Full Moon Hollow has a missing persons numbers 10
Times its size, there is definitely something wrong. In the first few pages a troop of wilderness scouts run into trail of zombies. In a smashing of tropes, a converted Girl Scout troop, who now hunt Ghouls, save the boys from impending doom. Soon the woods are infested with more than both groups bargained for. The issue ends with a cliffhanger, that will bring this reviewer back for the next issue. Overall:8 Recommendation:Read
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write.
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).