Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 8/13
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.
All-Star Batman #1 (DC Comics)*: Well, whaddya know? A very pleasant surprise on the artistic front, with John Romita Jr. turning in some of his best work in years and a superbly-illustrated backup feature by Declan Shalvey. Scott Snyder’s scripting is a bit uneven with his Two-Face coming across as genuinely menacing but his dialogue unusually clunky and exposition-heavy, even by his own previous standards. Overall a promising start on the whole, though, and I’m very curious to see where it all goes from here. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
The Flintstones #2 (DC Comics)*: Mark Russell continues to knock it out of the park by turning Bedrock into a microcosm of modern-day America’s socio-political ills, this time with a strong and none-too-subtle (but still decidedly clever) critique of rampant consumerism taking center stage. Steve Pugh’s art remains more solid than the granite in Fred’s quarry, as well, and overall this series continues to be perhaps the year’s most pleasant surprise. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Ringside #6 (Image)*: Great to see Joe Keatinge and Nick Barber back in the ring — literally — as their quietly superb wrestling series returns after a lengthy hiatus between arcs. The story seem to be kicking into another gear as our protagonist reluctantly accepts a new gig as a low-level mob enforcer, and the art is gaining a more distinctive appearance as events progress, as well. A very solid, character-driven work that deserves a wider audience than it’s apparently managed to attract so far. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Black-Eyed Kids #4 (Aftershock)*: Szymon Kudranski is absolutely killing it on the art in this book, with every panel of every page creating a distinctively dark and creepy tableau of dread-fueled unease, but it would be nice if Joe Pruett’s script quit running in place and actually managed to propel events forward a bit more than it has so far. This series has been plagued by jittery, start-and-stop pacing from the outset, and this issue feels like more of the same. The potential for greatness is there, but so far remains largely unrealized. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Read
Briggs Land #1 (Dark Horse): Especially during times of great change, like right now with the elections, people are always threatening to leave the country, but what would happen if a part of the country actually seceded from the Union? This is exactly why people who actually watched Free State of Jones responded so strongly. Briggs Land opens up with the patriarch of the ruling family behind bars , leaving his wife in charge , leaving the rest of the oligarchy in a state of unrest. So far, this series comes off as a cross between The Path and The Outsiders , but with more grit. Story: 10 Art: 7 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy
Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Originals #1 (BOOM! Studios): When it comes to a show with such a strong following as SOA, any reinterpretation of the canon can be met with different criticism. So when BOOM! decided to tell the backstory of Jax , soon after his father dies, we can only hope they can do it justice. This story pickups rift after John dies and Jax still is trying to find his way. By issues end, you have Jax pulling off his first job, with the blessing of Clay, as this is a refreshing look at such a revered character , showing their target audience that he was also a boy once, but this till doesn’t feel quite good enough to buy. Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read
Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)*: Christopher Priest’s return to comics made me pick up this issue. The comic is a brutal as you’d expect. It establishes exactly the kind of evil piece of work Slade Wilson is and it places him in a world that is explicitly political. The US role in geopolitics is a key part of the story as is toxic masculinity in general.
Trigger Warning for child abuse and realistic depictions of war. But it is entirely in-character for this sort of series.
The art is in line with modern DC’s house style but it is certainly high quality. There aren’t any women visible so I can’t say if he knows how the female body works but he definitely knows how to draw men with realism and dynamic action.
Bad men doing bad things in a fucked up world. Politically conscious and intriguing. Priest is back! Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Cirque American: Girl Over Paris #2 (Jet City Comics)*: I’m definitely not the audience for this series and that’s totally ok. The comic reminds me a bit of Scooby Doo, but with a female tightrope walker as the lead. It’s an entertaining read, and I can see Tweens loving this series. Overall Rating: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
Black Science #23 (Image)*: I like this book and I’m frustrated by it – I really enjoy Matteo Scalera’s go-anywhere-draw-anything art, and I’m digging the science-in-a-sword-and-sorcery world that Rick Remender’s currently got going on. I also kind of like Grant McKay’s way of being totally narcissistic at all times and never learning anything. The way he messes everything up even more when he tries to fix his own mistakes. Here, we get a cabin in the woods and a kindly old woman who turns out to be exactly what you’d expect in this kind of story. This kind of predictability is a tightrope – luckily, Scalera’s art is really charming, so I’m willing to keep going. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Stray Bullets #17 (Image/El Capitan)*: As much as I love just watching David Lapham work, I am also anxious to keep moving forward with the current story, so this flashback issue was a bit frustrating. Not sure where it fits in or what it’s doing. That said, the Queen of Palm Court is another great winner of a loser character, and a prime example of how great a story can be when someone just plain wants something as ridiculous as a Chanel purse and is willing to do anything to get it. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy it because you love David & Maria Lapham and want their kids to go to a decent school, and also to produce the next bloody issue.
Kill or Be Killed #1 (Image)*: And here we go with the next Brubaker/Phillips/Breitweiser jam. This is a very interesting take on the Urban Vigilante genre – and as a kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s with movies like Death Wish and so forth (Abel Ferrara’s Ms 45 being one of my all-time faves), this is right up my seedy back alley. But then they put the Hamlet twist in there – when our loser Dylan is visited by something that may or may not be an actual demon who makes him a deal – a life for a life. The usual excellence – and Phillips and Breitweiser are on absolute fire with the gorgeous horribleness of New York City winter. I don’t think this one knocks it out of the park, but it’s a good stand-up triple. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy if only so Shane Black can make a movie out of it.
All-Star Batman (DC)* Scott Snyder returns to Batman with a new monthly(?) comic. As one of my favourite Batman writers in recent times, I’m was actually quite apprehensive about this series because usually I’m not a fan of John Romita Jr.’s art work because I find it too blocky and square. I don’t know if I care less about the art than the story, or that I don’t despise Romita Jr.’s art as much as I once did, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Old Man Logan #10 (Marvel)* I have wanted to love this series since it launched, but I’ve found it a little hit and miss as the issues have ticked by – more hit than miss, in all honesty, though. The art has been consistently brilliant, however, and the series has been worth reading for that alone, but the new arc seems to be taking Old Man Logan into an intriguing story line. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
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 (**).