Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 12/31
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 #5 (DC)** Continues to be the most exciting Bat-book around. Wrapping up the first arc in a way that I enjoyed more than I expected; this was a breath of fresh air after the less than steller conclusion to I Am Suicide. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Detective Comics #947 (DC) – Wow. This is how you handle smaller arcs during a longer one where you can call back to things you set in place earlier. James Tynion IV has masterfully pulled off the ending of The Victim Syndicate and set up something big for the future. Instead of giving us a big bad in the already impressive Batman villain section, he instead hands us someone who has good points about the bad side of Batman, and who has direct ties to heartbreak which may or may not have happened directly because Batman exists. This is one of DC’s best titles, and one of my favorite comics in general of 2016. We also get another massive tease at the end of the issue. It is hard to remember that while it ships bi-weekly, this comic only costs $2.99, and it is a massive value. Each issue packs so much into it. Also, I love this version of Clayface. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Hulk #1 (Marvel) – After all of the amazing Jeff Dekal cover teases, the first issue is finally here. This issue focuses mostly on Jen as a lawyer starting at a new firm, and fighting the monster that lies just under the surface. While we get some setup to something big, I felt this issue didn’t give quite enough of a story for a character that deserves it after Civil War II and what she went through. That being said, it was decent, and I want to see where it goes. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Teen Titans #3 (DC) – This was a solid issue, with many of the characters getting to know each other, and Robin better. We get the usual shadowed past character in Robin fearful he cannot truly be good, with the usual positive reinforcement by the rest of our bunch as they empathize with him now instead of not trusting him. It may be somewhat cliché, but it works well, and I enjoyed it. So far, this has been a fun book. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Civil War II #8 (Marvel) – I am torn on this comic. At one hand, we get a resolution, and the event has ended. On the other hand, we get more complications from the ending, and really just an unknown to what this all means. I am okay with leaving things in the dark, but after buying these more expensive issues, and the idea that the creators said it needed an extra one (which is this one), I am a little perplexed at where we are now that it is over. Especially with the advertisement for Civil War 2: The Oath #1 in the back of the book. While I am sure it is just extra things or transitioning things into the new Marvel 2017 status quo, especially Carol’s solo title coming, I am just a bit lost at all of it. Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass (Unless you are a collector like me and own the others).
Mother Panic #2 (Young Animal) – I had to re-read this issue before I appreciated it fully. I read it quickly the first time, and this is a comic to take your time with. You may miss subtle things in the panel or what the story is doing if you do not pay attention. That being said, I enjoyed it. It is a very dark issue and we see more into Violet’s very rough past as a child and her relationship with her father and mother. We also see her find her target and deal with him as Mother Panic. Also, there is a short cameo from one of Gotham’s best heroes, and I hope we get more from that in the future. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read
Black Hammer #6 (Dark Horse)** – This issue really put the nail in the coffin for me. The plot, which is far too thin, just kept getting in the way of the Madame Dragonfly story, which could have been darker and richer and stranger if Jeff Lemire would have let it. The resonances are only there for people like me who grew up on the Alan Moore Swamp Thing and used it as a gateway to the Wein/Wrightson oeuvre (hence this issue’s hat tip to Len and Bernie), the House of Mystery/Secrets, and back to the EC horror hosts. Unlike Moore, Lemire doesn’t build anything on this foundation, he just leans on it. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Skip
Superf*ckers Forever #5 (IDW)** – I had higher hopes for this one, Like, that it would be more dumb and vicious and hit harder on the dumb superhero tropes. But it was a fairly standard escape from Dimension Zero, and although we were treated to a page of Princess Sunshine going dark (thanks, it would seem to the power of Omnizod), it didn’t go full-on Dark Sunshine. There’s a difference between punk and just bratty, and at the end of 2016, I need more f*cking punk in comics like this. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip
Descender #17 (Image)** – Unfortunately, we have come to the end of Lemire and Nguyen’s beautiful run of character portraits and are back to the dull plotline. All I have to say about this issue is that it got really good as soon as it activated silent mode. Dustin Nguyen’s art is so expressive and breathtaking that Lemire’s dialogue just takes up unnecessary space. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: read
Saga #41 (Image) – I keep coming back to something Howard Chaykin once said in an Amazing Heroes interview, about how people thought he overplotted, but really it was just that everyone else underplotted. Saga is like this: overwhelmingly underplotted, with large panels that don’t convey large emotion or information. Case in point: this issue has three full-page shots, two of which occur in the last three pages. But the emotion that, to my mind, should be driving this story, the ticking timebomb that is the temporary home of our family, isn’t front and center, but diluted by the very size of the panels depicting it. As a consequence, time isn’t as graphically tight as the narrative says it should be, and the spring is too loose to really pack a punch when it is sprung. Overall: 7 Recommendation: read
Black Panther #9 (Marvel)** – Well, whaddya know. An issue of this series that I actually nearly liked. Will wonders never cease? Certainly having Brian Stelfreeze back on art for the final four-issue arc helps, but the characterization and dialogue from Ta-Nehisi Coates seem to have taken a modest step forward here, as well, as the once-disparate subplots begin to coalesce into something vaguely resembling a concerted opposition force against T’Challa and his regime. Still far from essential reading, and still so serious and self-important that it makes even Don McGregor’s run on The Panther look subtle by comparison, but on the whole a perfectly readable comic. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read
Infamous Iron Man #3 (Marvel)** – Ditto for this one. After two decidedly sub-par introductory issues, Brian Michael Bendis finally lays out some of the dubious “reasoning” behind Victor Von Doom’s decision to take up the mantle of Iron Man, and in its own way it makes a kind of — sense? Alex Maleev seems to be doing his best to match the somewhat better material he’s given here, as well, and we’re treated to some seriously nice double-page spreads in the second half of the book. This title is still on a very short leash with me, but for the time being, it’s at least still on it rather than being cut loose. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #7 (DC)** : Am I detecting a trend this week? After six issues that consistently plumbed new depths of worthlessness, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, and Klaus Janson give us the first remotely readable installment of this (let’s face it) naked cash-grab, as some genuinely surprising developments that may inject some new life (both literally and metaphorically) into the so-called “Dark Knight Universe” propel the story toward what could be, at least in theory, a reasonably interesting conclusion. I still think this will prove to be a mirage rather than a trend, but what the hell — I didn’t want to pluck my eyes out after reading this issue, and the Frank Miller-drawn mini-comic insert actually looks, dare I say it, pretty good for a change. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read
All-Star Batman #5 (DC)** – Scott Snyder, John Romita, Jr. and a veritable army of inkers put the wraps on the opening Two-Face arc of this series with the most satisfying and well-drawn issue yet, but it’s probably too little, too late, as the first four parts were such a clusterfuck of bad ideas, half-assed subplots, and surprisingly off-target characterization. All of the purported “mysteries” you’d forgotten about from earlier chapters are wrapped up, and there are some nice emotional “beats” hit in the dialogue between Batman and Two-Face and Batman and Alfred, but on the whole an average issue isn’t nearly enough to save a lackluster story that was crushed under the weight of its own self-indulgence way too early. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
Rocket Raccoon #1 (Marvel)– When it comes to beloved characters within the Marvel Universe, it is usually because they strike a chord with each of us. Within the Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 movie ,the whole world pretty much fell in love with the relationship between Rocket Raccoon and Groot. In this series , we find Rocket on his own in New York and on the run from the authorities, where he meets up with the Human Torch. By issue’s end, we find that Rocket is in even more serious trouble than when he began.
Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Spider-Man/Deadpool #12 (Marvel)– what happens everyone’s favorite webslinger and everyone’s favorite mercenary with a mouth join forces ? Probably one of the best comics Ihave ever read. In this issue, they have a guest writer and artists to write a special Xmas story. We find Spider-Man and Deadpool enjoying Xmas with friends and creating mayhem where they traverse. By issue’s end, they fight the originator of Xmas and show him that it is more than he ever imagined. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
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 (**).