Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/11
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.
All-Star Batman #7 (DC)** Scott Snyder writes a very interesting Poison Ivy story that just happens to feature Batman and tie in to the previous issue a little. I really enjoyed the main part of this comic, although the back up story hasn’t won me over yet I have faith in Snyder. Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy
Black #4 (Black Mask) I really wanted to like this series set in a world where only people of colour have superpowers. The concept is fantastic, but the execution not so much. A real shame. Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass
Detective Comics #950 (DC) The big anniversary issue, and the start of a new arc, so what better place to attract new readers, right? With a bumper sized issue that fleshes out some of the quieter, or lesser known, members of Batman’s new team we get on of the most easily accessible issues in a long time. Each story within is solid, and despite the comic ringing in at $3.99 instead of it’s usual $2.99 this is a must read (at the very least) for all Batman fans.. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
The Unworthy Thor #4 (Marvel) A solid, if unspectacular issue. If you’re reading the miniseries already you’ll enjoy this quite a bit, but it’s not going to draw new readers in this close to the end. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy it if you’re already invested, otherwise wait for the trade.
A Land Called Tarot HC (Image Comics) This very French comic is rich and dense without saying a word, literally. All the storytelling is visual and it leaves the reader (viewer?) with more questions than answers. We follow the Knight of Swords as he moves through this realm apparently called Tarot. He meets others from the tarot, like the Hierophant and the Magician, and adventures to do… something. What all this is accomplishing isn’t clear or explained but that’s a part of the beauty of it. The reader/viewer is free to fill in their own blanks. The art here falls somewhere between Moebius and Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. If you enjoy curious visual storytelling and don’t mind teasing out details in panels, this might be one for you. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Not everyone’s thing but I’d pick it up.
Black History In Its Own Words (Image Comics) I honestly am not sure how to feel about this. The collection of quotes and portraits of figures from many different points in Black history is definitely interesting. But I feel like too many lack the context needed to really drive the quotes home and it feels pretentious. The creator hopes this gets you to read more about the people but, for me, they simply fall a little flat sometimes. The art isn’t the sort of thing I normally pick up but I definitely appreciate the bold and graphic style very much inspired by pop art and an assortment of comics styles that improves with later portraits. This isn’t a comic in any kind of traditional sense, however, so don’t look for a narrative structure here. If you want to get a crash course in Black history this February beyond the standard fare, pick this up and have a search ready in your browser. Overall: 7 Recommendaion: Grab it if you want a jumping off point for further learning and reading.
Dept H. #11 (Dark Horse Comics) The mystery continues to pile up as the crew struggles among themselves. As Mia attempts to figure out what could motivate someone to kill her father and sabotage the underwater base. The watercolor art style still works well for this series. Creating a lot of contrast in both the environments and the flashbacks. Overall:9
Jessica Jones #5 (Marvel) It’s kind of nice that the heroes of Earth-616 are finally being held responsible for the destruction of the multiverse, and that Jessica Jones might even investigate it in the future. But this solid plot hook is trapped in a giant web of nihilistic bullshit dialogue from Brian Michael Bendis as he again goes to an interrogation scene when Jessica confronts the murderous husband of her client in the first issue. He can still write the hell out of Ben Urich though, who tells of Luke Cage for his public destruction and arguments with Jessica and basically being out of character. However, most of Jessica Jones #5 is confirming and repeating information from previous issue and setting up a confrontation between the mysterious Ms. Greene and Captain Marvel. Hopefully, something cool will happen. In spite of this issue’s other failings, Michael Gaydos does well on the art front delving into Jessica’s panic attack about the whole multiverse thing by using a collage panel layout. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Black #4 (Black Mask) – The premise is compelling: “What if only black people had super-powers?” The execution, not so compelling. Writer Kwanza Osajyefo gives an extremely standard story of competing super-conspiracies, assuming that there is, or could be, a secret, technologically-advanced, and above all, very wealthy black super-underground. The writing also suffers from dual protagonist syndrome: although Kareem Jenkins is nominally our guy, the series actually starts with police officer Ellen Waters, which just confuses things. None of the characters are really defined, motivations are unclear, and the plot is mechanical. Jamal Igle’s art is standard super-hero, but although it’s black and white, it looks like it was drawn for color and just printed gray, giving the book a graphic murkiness to go along with the narrative murkiness. To paraphrase the late Leonard Cohen, I want it darker. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: skip.
God Country #2 (Image) – All I have to say is, for a god of war, Aristus sure does a lot of walking and talking. The idea of these gods as iconic creatures and ultimate representations (Valofax, the sword, is every Magical Sword) is a bit done. Geoff Shaw’s art is gorgeous, but Donny Cates’ script is banal – as a final message to the King of Always, I expected something less drab coming from Texas. But maybe that’s just coming from a guy who’s read too much Joe R. Lansdale. Overall: 7 Recommendation: skip.
New Teen Titans vol. 6 (DC Comics)** – This collection takes us into 1984 and a couple of seminal stories from Marv Wolfman and George Perez. “Who Is Donna Troy?” is about as good as it gets from this era of superhero comics. The relationship between Dick Grayson and Donna Troy is strong and deep, and I remember how wonderful it was to actually see Dick doing detective work. This is immediately followed up by “Crossroads”, in which Dick gives up being Robin. More than 30 years later, I have to admit still being touched by his taking off the red tunic. It’s not hard, in retrospect, to see New Teen Titans as Dick Grayson’s coming-of-age story, and it’s nice to have it all in one place. Overall: 8 (there’s a couple of filler issues that start the volume) Recommendation: buy (because “Crossroads” is also a full story of George Perez inking himself).
Foolkiller #4 (Marvel)** – An obligatory guest appearance from Deadpool is played entirely for laughs for the first 3/4 of the issue, then we get thrust out of nowhere into abrupt wrap-up mode courtesy of this title’s impending cancellation after next issue. Max Bemis and Dalibor Talajic have played this doomed hand to the best of their abilities, but now they’re forced to simply run out the clock. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
Justice League America: Rebirth #1 (DC)** – Uhhhm, yeah. This team’s line-up makes no sense, the manner in which they’re recruited/conscripted by Batman makes even less, and at the end of the day Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis serve up nothing here so much as the opening salvo in a clusterfuck-in-the-making. You kids have fun with this one, I’m jumping ship before it gets three more of my dollars. Overall: 2. Recommendation: Pass
The Wicked + The Divine #26 (Image)** – Is it just me, or is the current “Rising Action” arc a far cry from the higher standard of previous stories? Half the comic is a boring fight against the emerging Deus Ex Machina known as “The Great Darkness,” the other half is the gods sitting around a table talking, and generally acting petulant. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are capable of soooooo much better. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass
Moonshine #5 (image)** – It took me a little while (three issues, to be precise) to warm up to Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s latest, but now that I’m in, damn — I’m all in. Events spiral in breakneck fashion to what I assume will be the conclusion of the first arc next month, and while the last few pages showcase some seriously disparate events, you just know they’re all going to collide violently sooner rather than later. Every panel looks flat-out gorgeous, too — but you already knew that much. Overall: 8 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 (**).