Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/3
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.
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #2 (Black Mask) So. Good. This is far from the kind of comic that I usually pick up and read, but I can’t get enough of this series. It’s charming, honest, and packs a real sense of the bonds of friendship among the four kids. And the opening to this issue is just as brilliant as the last. Certainly a series to pick up, this may end up being one of the best series you’ll read all year – it is absolutely fan-bloody-tastic. Overall: 9.75 Recommendation: Buy
Judge Dredd #7 (IDW) When a man who is the living embodiment of the Law is left in a lawless world with no idea how he got there, or what happened, then we’re in for an interesting story. Judge Dredd has been a tale of a man out of time in a post apocalyptic world that reads like a western with a lot of green. This has been a really enjoyable, crazy, and quite violent, series so far; this issue tones down the violence but not the craziness that’s expected of the series. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters Of Midtown #2 (Dark Horse) A solid, if unspectacular comic. It’s not bad, but it’s not going to blow your socks off either. I don’t regret reading the issue, which is always a bonus, but I don’t know if I’d rush to reread it, if that makes sense. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Tribute: Prince (Storm Entertainment) I have a hard time slagging something of that’s trying to pay tribute to such an amazing musician, but this is either a genuine attempt at tribute that falls short, or a poor attempt to cash in. The sad thing is, I’m genuinely not sure, but I hope it’s the former. Cover is great, however, and is worth you checking out the comic alone. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
Will Eisner’s The Spirit #12 (Dynamite) I’ll be honest here – I have no idea if this is a 12 issue series, or an ongoing one. All I do know is that for the past year this has been one of my favourite series. If it is coming to an end, then this a suitable ending for the series; wrapping up just enough loose ends to feel complete while simultaneously giving you enough to come back for more – if indeed this is an ongoing series. Certainly worth picking up as a trade, if nothing else. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Daredevil Punisher #2 (Marvel) – Charles Soule’s writing is quick and blunt in this series. I’m not a fan of the Blindspot sidekick character, since he doesn’t add much to the story; but otherwise the action is non-stop with the Punisher and Daredevil fighting each other to get to the Russian Gangster Antonov first. Also, Kudranski’s gritty art stands out in Charalampidis’ dark colors. Overall 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Deathstroke Annual #2 (DC) – Phil Hester, together with Mirko Colak on pencils, borrows a page from Leone’s Man with No Name Series pitting Deathstroke against two warring drug clans in the fictional Middle-East country of Rhapastan. I was pleasantly surprised with this entertaining self-contained western like story; and Colak’s art, presented in a golden desert hue, is dazzling. Overall 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Delete #3 (Devil’s Due) – Absolutely nothing new in this four issue pulpish sci-fi mini series written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey, with art by John Timms. Set in a not too far future, the dim-witted protective janitor regains his memory, and surprise: he’s a badass assassin with a troubled past and a lost love. Yet I love it. Timms bright digital art explodes with action, as our hero, with deaf cub in tow, sets out to protect her, and avenge her parent’s death. Overall 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
East of West #27 (DC)* – The Word and his followers go psycho, as the end times come to an interesting turn. Hickman and Dragotta keep the story going, with the chosen refusing to settle and sit in place on their written path as set forth in the ‘Message’. This dense and brutal series is a must read; but if you want to give it a go, you have to start at the beginning. Overall 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Grayson Annual #3 (DC)* – Grayson does some cognitive house cleaning, bringing in Harley Quinn, Constantine, Simon Baz, Azrael, and Detective Jim Corrigan, all together in one room, to retell their past encounters with Agent 37. Not a bad read, with a potpourri of guest artists. Overall 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Legend #2 (Z2) – Only Z2 could have dared to put out a comic about warring cats and dogs, and make it interesting. Written by Samual Sattin (art by Chris Kohler), this series is a magical blend of canine-feline science fiction and mythology, with detailed world building. Overall 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Nighthawk 1 & 2 (Marvel)* – On the recommendation of fellow reviewers I picked up the latest two issues this past Wednesday, and I have to say I was impressed. Yes, there is no question as to who inspires this character; but Kane, aka Nighthawk, dishes out pain to those most deserving. Taking place in modern day Chicago, the series tackles today’s issues of racial unrest, perhaps not in the most satisfying manner, but through violent means that some of us can only fantasize about. Overall 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Teen Titans Annual #2 (DC) – A light read. The Teen Titans take a break, and of course trouble follows. If you missed it, move on. Overall 6.0 Recommendation: Read
Bitch Planet #8 (Image)**: This is hands-down one of the most important, must-read series out there. The rage that boils under every page is refreshing and essential. The injustice that powers Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing is all-pervasive to the point of casual banality. Valentine De Landro’s drawing is clear and expressive and deftly manages the trick of portraying nudity without titillation, bodies with inner lives and weight. My only quibble/worry is that, like Sex Criminals, the book doesn’t always realize that its own plot is fairly secondary to what really makes it great. Overall: 8.5. Recommendation: Buy.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (Dark Horse)**: All of my favourite Neil Gaiman things are self-contained, shorter pieces, and I don’t think I have to say anything more about Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s art than has already been gushed over. This is stunning and wonderful and lovely and yes sir may I please have another? Overall: 10. Recommendation: buy.
Plutona #5 (Image)**: Very disappointing ending to what I thought could have been a really great story about hero worship and kids. I think Jeff Lemire copped out on this one. Emi Lenox’s art was fine here, but did not much more than hit the beats the story laid down. I’m interested to see what she does next. Overall: 6. Recommendation: Pass.
Pretty Deadly #10 (Image)**: I’m writing this on the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, so I may be somewhat biased here, but I have a feeling that this series has gotten swept up in its own internal mythology and become disconnected from its outer world. No doubt that Emma Rios’ art is breathtaking, but Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing seems a titch overwhelmed by its ideas. Looking forward to the next story, which is set in early Hollywood. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Read
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #5 (DC)*: At this point, I have no one to blame but myself. It’s been blindingly obvious since at least issue three that the creators are mailing it in on this one, and yet, pathetic completist that I am, I find myself still shelling out six bucks a pop for this substandard garbage. Superman comes back to life this time around by means of the most absurd method possible, and now they’re taking the fight to the Kandorians — a fight which will, presumably, be stretched out to fill the next three issues when, in all honesty, one would do it. Anything faintly resembling drama or tension has long since left the building, and Brian Azzarello and Andy Kubert aren’t even bothering to fill their page count anymore as, for the second installment in a row, we’re “treated” to some pin-up art and “process pages” to pad things out here. They obviously don’t care anymore, nor should you. And nor should I. Overall: 2. Recommendation: Pass – I purchased my copy, like a dumbass.
Black Panther #3 (Marvel)*: Speaking of books that I’m stupid for still spending hard-earned money on, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze serve up another heaping helping of morose, self-important nonsense here as that heavy fucking crown on T’Challa’s head gets even heavier and more quasi-mystical mumbo-jumbo is inserted into the proceedings to add yet another layer of short-handl gravitas. On the letters page, Coates promises that things are only going to get “darker” from here on out. Oh, joy. I really thought he’d be able to piece together a coherent comics narrative by now, but when you have to rely on the opening recap pages of the book to EXPLAIN what you even read last month rather than simply REMIND you of what went down, things have fallen pretty far off the rails, indeed. All I know for sure is that no one in the book is having any fun — and neither is anyone still reading it. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass
Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 (Marvel)*: The cop-out we all saw coming hits in full force, and it’s every bit as depressingly unimaginative and obvious as we figured it would be. Kobik, the living Cosmic Cube, screwed around with Cap’s mind and those Hydra memories are implanted fakes. Marvel’s pumping those two words with everything they’ve got, though, with “Hail Hydra” in bold letters on the cover and another “Hail Hydra” cliffhanger page at the end that has precisely none of the impact that last month’s did. Both Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz seem to be going through the motions here as we get a full issue of nothing but dull explanation. Given this is an ongoing and not a mini-series, my completist urge doesn’t compel me to keep on keeping on with this four-color abortion, though, so I’m out. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass
Starve #10 (Image)**: Brian Wood and Danijel Zezelj put the brakes on this one ultra-prematurely when sales kept cratering, and it’s too bad as this had all the makings of a semi-classic. As it is, things get wrapped up fairly nicely for all parties concerned and I have no real gripes about the story or art apart from the fact that things felt every bit as rushed as I’d expected them to, but on a purely economic level I think it’s a crock that we only get a slim 20-page comic for our $3.99 here. I get that they want to keep production costs low because they’re closing down shop, but come on — every other Image book issued in a bare-bones 20-page package (“Injection, ” Trees,” and “They’re Not Like Us”) costs a buck less. Way to give your readers a “fuck you, suckers” on the way out the door. Overall: 6. Recommendation: Buy if you’ve been keeping up with the series, otherwise pass.
Cryptocracy #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – A fun comic about conspiracies and the folks behind them all that run the world. While we’ve seen the topic and idea many times before, this still feels original in many ways. Well worth checking out this indie that’ll probably fly under folks’ radar. Overall Rating: 7.8 Recommendation: Read
East of West #27 (Image Comics) – Holy crap, such an amazing issue. There’s a hell of a lot that goes on in this Jonathan Hickman future wild west series with a mix of religion. The issue just builds and builds and builds with tension until it blows up and all hell breaks loose. Fans of the series will love this while new readers may be confused. Overall Rating: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy (if you’ve been reading, go back and catch up if not)
Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 (Marvel)* – The big reveal just two issues in as to how Rogers is a member of Hydra and it’s exactly as expected. This is 20 something pages of the villain rambling about their plan as the hero is threatened by a slow-moving mechanism he’ll escape. The logic presented is baffling and it all somehow diminishes not just Captain America but makes Red Skull no longer a threat but a caricature and a joke of a villain. The subtitle should be “how to destroy two characters in two short issues.” Overall Rating: 5 Recommendation: Pass
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #2 (Black Mask Studios)** – It’s been a bit since the first issue, but the second issue also knocks it out of the park. Absolutely fantastic and shaping up to be the best new series of 2016 and maybe one of the best of 2016 period. Overall Rating: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Jade Street Protection Services #1 (Black Mask Studios) – A really solid debut for Black Mask’s first all-ages comic. The art is a little uneven, but I loved the story and think this is a series that’ll find a solid following. Overall Rating: 7.9 Recommendation: Read
X-O Manowar #47 (Valiant Entertainment)** – This feels like the beginning of an action disaster film. Epic on so many levels and a solid start to the end of X-O. Overall Rating: 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 (**).