Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/3
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.
Cryptocracy #3 (Dark Horse) The series continues to plug along quite nicely but there’s some digital backgrounds that look like they’re about fifteen years old, and that’s not ideal to say the least. Dodgy background aside, the non digital bits are actually well done, which makes the difference between foreground and background that much more noticeable. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Howard The Duck #10 (Marvel)* So this is the penultimate issue of Howard The Duck, and after reading this one gets the sense that Chip Zdarsky is unhappy about that. There’s a funny, yet very sharp, commentary on Marvel’s state of affairs in this issue. It’s worth buying for that alone. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens #2 (Dark Horse) I honestly started reading this series expecting it to be a blood train wreck of a comic. While it’s certainly bloody, it’s far from a train wreck. I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by this series so far, and we’re only two issues in – I’m looking forward to what’s coming next. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Witchfinder: City Of The Dead #1 (Dark Horse) An interesting read that feels very much like a story from the late 1800’s with the colours and the way Mignola writes. I’m not the biggest fan of his work (but that’s simply because I haven’t read much), so I can’t comment on how this compares to his other comics, but this one was better than I hoped for. A solid start to a zombie/mystery story. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Afterlife with Archie #10 (Archie)**: First off, how about that Francesco Francavilla cover! This issue takes us before the zombie plague to the secret origin of Josie and the Pussycats – as an immortal vampire vaudeville act. So it very nicely traces the history of girl groups in America, all thanks to cruel orphanage director Alexandra Cabot. Given my 35-year-plus-history in musical theatre and my almost-literally lifelong cartoon crush on Josie, there is no way I can possibly review this issue objectively. Thank you, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Overall: 9.5 (only because the sentence case lettering annoys the hell out of me) Recommendation: Are you kidding me? Buy it already!
Island #10 (Image)**: Brandon Graham and Emma Rios put together a stellar issue this time around. It kicks off with a new Pop Gun War chapter from the incredible Farel Dalrymple. There’s a bit of dialogue that sums it up for me: “Let it go. Let’s go.” – “But we just went somewhere.” Just go. Next up: A Land Called Tarot by Gael Bertrand – a silent fantasy quest comic that is drawn so absolutely wonderfully that words would have been superfluous. I can’t say that I’ve seen animals drawn so realistically yet with so much character. My only quibble would be wishing that he put the same depth of imagination into the main character’s face, which stays in anime cartooniness and kind of clashes with the style of the rest. Fil Barlow brings us back to his Zooniverse (scanning his original pieces from 1986 and recolouring). In this case, he presents an essay (or rather, “Zoonological Study”) on the Fried Gatcheralis, which we saw being hocked in a back alley last issue. Interesting that it’s his adaptation of the original 1986 piece by Michael Logan and Allister Hardiman. Four pages of delight. Finally, Remy Boydell’s “Pervert Fashion”, a 4-page series of funny animals in galleries and boudoirs and staircases. Would be forgettable except for the last page, which so perfectly captures an attitude that I can’t help picturing nearly any of my LGBTQ friends in exactly that gallery, lounging up against that same table. This issue knocks it out of the park. Overall: 9. Recommendation: buy.
Lazarus #24 (Image)**: The “Cull” continues, moving expertly between a roadside hit and the most manipulative Scrabble game I’ve ever seen depicted. What’s astonishing here is the juxtaposition of huge external stakes in the war between the Families and the internal stakes of Forever discovering, attempting to discover, being prevented from discovering, being led to discovering, the truth about her very existence. The impurity of every single person’s motives get my heart pumping: Johanna does nothing for free, not even play Scrabble. Plus: two sublime pages of Sonia Bittner badassery. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: buy
Northguard #1 (Chapterhouse)**: The newest incarnation of the creation of my buddy Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette’s 1984 creation. The original Philip Wise wasn’t a super-agent or anything, just a kid who stumbled on an alien Uni-Band who, in exchange for working for the government, demanded a super-hero costume. Nice! But here, writer Anthony Falcone goes in another, more cliche’d direction, with super-agent Philip Wise (why the same name?) being told to put on a super-hero costume, which he resents. There’s something interesting in this issue about how the Canadian government is doing CIA a black-ops favour by sending in their super-guy for plausible deniability, but there seem to be storylines here that originate in other books (probably Captain Canuck) that leave me kind of puzzled. Ron Salas’ art is okay. Far more interesting to me is the Gabriel Morrissette backup, which pits what appears to be the original Northguard, who would now be, what, 50 years old or so? against a couple of super-powered cosplayers. Which brings me to a thing in these Canadian comics: the difference between English writers attempting to write Quebecois francophones and actual Quebeckers doing the same. The former is just token and grating, and the latter has a real challenge, since our local dialect is like the Australian of French and kind of incomprehensible to non-locals. Anyway (or as we say here, entékas)… Overall: 6 Recommendation: skip
Saga #37 (Image): I have a hard time with this series. On the one hand, Brian K. Vaughan has a freewheeling sense of adventure spinning out of control, which I love. On the other hand, he does too much on-the-nose political allegory, which I loathe. I often feel with Fiona Staples’ art that there are too many splash pages, diluting their effect (though the double-page splash that ends this book is great). On the other other hand, there are single moments that just knock me out: the devilishly delighted look on Hazel’s face when she says “Sounds like something real bad is happening!” Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: read
Weird Detective #3 (Dark Horse)**: And speaking of the tension between the freewheeling and cliche… Normally Fred Van Lente is an expert at blending genres, but here he seems to be a bit overwhelmed by his Weird Procedural premise. Instead of creating a dynamic spark, each of the two genres seem to cancelling out the other’s fun. Guiu Vilanova’s art is on point, but the writing is a bit aimless. Overall: 6 Recommendation: skip
East Of West #29 (Image)**: As “Year Two” draws to a close, Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta usher in their hopefully-short hiatus with a bang as Babylon and Balloon take down the foes surrounding them in tactical fashion before the most awkward father-child reunion you’re ever likely to read provides the icing on the cake. In short, another absolutely killer issue. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Postal #14 (Top Cow/Image)**: This book has taken a decided turn for the darker — and better — since Bryan Hill took over the writing chores solo, and Isaac Goodhart’s art has gone through a dramatically stylish evolutionary leap, as well. The Eden, Wyoming/Aryan Brotherhood battle is on the way, and some of the moves our principal players need to make in order to ensure their town’s survival are already having profound implications. Gripping stuff, this is. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Sons Of The Devil #10 (Image)**: I don’t know of anyone else who’s still reading this book, and I’m about to join them on the other side of the door marked “exit.” Toni Infante’s sketchy, loose art is still pleasing to the eye, but for a concluding chapter in a five- issue arc where some major shit goes down, Brian Buccellato’s script feels incredibly flat and uninspired. I’ve heard this series is some sort of labor of love, but the writer sure seems to me like he’s just going through the motions. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass
Earth 2: Society Annual #1 (DC)*: A complete waste-of-time-stop-gap measure between the last issue of the series and the next, this is one incredibly — and inexcusably — padded comic where essentially nothing happens other than Dick Grayson gets ready to put on the Batman costume and fight the Ultra-Humanite. A 30-something page story that writer Dan Abnett and artists Bruno Redondo, Diogenes Neves, Juam Albarran, and Ruy Jose could have told in ten, tops. But then DC couldn’t have charged five bucks for it, I guess. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass
Angel Catbird Volume 1 (Dark Horse): In the world of speculative fiction, no author North of The Border has gotten more love than Margaret Atwood.It was a matter of time before she joined the ranks of esteemed authors who came over to expansive medium of comic books. As can be seen I the first volume, the titular character, not only in concept but genetic makeup is anything but run of the mill, as he has an arch villain and love interest, but if you have ever read any of her books, you know she doesn’t stick to conventional story tropes and has more to say than most authors today. The study is amazing and the art pops with chromatic sequences, enough to be compared to the Art Deco Movement. Overall: 10.3 Recommendation: Buy
Carver: A Paris Story TPB (Z2 Comics): The crime thriller is a genre that has enjoyed a resurgence in movies like The Equalizer and Harry Brown , but it’s true heyday was back in the 1970s in the movies of Water Hill and Martin Scorsese. The comics medium has tried to capture the same feeling in books like Human Target and Theive of Thieves, but rarely has one medium distinctly nodded at the other until I came across this book. We meet Frank Carver , a Grizzled war veteran who gets asked back to Paris by an old flame. When he arrives, he finds an old jobber tricked him into coming to France for one more job.As much as I hated seeing these tropes and archetypes revisited, they also made me yearn to rewatch my copy of Mean Streets, which made me realize how entertaining the whole story actually is. Overall:9.2 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 (**).