Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/1
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.
‘Namwolf #3 (Albatross)** – More goofy, cartoony madness from Fabian Rangel Jr. and Logan Faerber that breezily moves the story along with a minimal amount of dialogue, but plenty of gorgeously colorful art to feast your eyes on. An insubstantial read, but a fun one nevertheless, that sets things up quite nicely for next month’s conclusion. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Read
No Angel #4 (Black Mask)** – Eric Palicki, Adrianne Palicki, and Ari Syahrazad put the wraps on their wildly up-and-down series (at least for now, we’ll see what happens) with another decidedly “down” installment that features a lackluster final battle, trite bow-wrapping, and rushed-looking art — all in service of a limp cliffhanger that sets up a sequel that’s probably not going to coming down the pike anytime soon. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass
Elektra #5 (Marvel)** – Speaking of lackluster concluding chapters that set up sequels few (if anyone) cares about, that’s precisely what Matt Owens and Juann Cabal have served up here. Who’s the real brains behind Murderworld? Prepare to be underwhelmed by that “revelation.” I enjoyed Cabal’s approximation of Jamie McKelvie’s art style, but other than that, shit — this mini-series went very far downhill, very fast. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass
Rebels: These Free And Independent States #4 (Dark Horse) – Protagonist John Abbott has a date with the War Of 1812 in the penultimate chapter of this latest arc in Brian Wood and Andrea Mutti’s “historical epic of America’s founding,” but to say things don’t go particularly smoothly for him is an understatement of staggering proportions. Another superb installment in this gripping, beautifully-illustrated historical drama that will have you on pins and needles waiting for the conclusion. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Beautiful Canvas #1 (Black Mask) Okay, this comic has a lot of things I like: a badass take no shit hitwoman as a main character, a queer romance, well-choreographed action from artist Sami Kivela, and a splash of color from Triona Farrell. It’s like eating a dish with great ingredients that don’t mesh into a coherent, tasty eating experience. The main character, Lon, is definitely well-defined, but Ryan K Lindsay and Kivela jump around so often that it’s hard to get a read on the supporting cast. It’s like they’re trying to out David Lynch David Lynch at times. Maybe, I’ll give this one a second try when it’s out in trade. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
The Dregs #4 (Black Mask)** – Writers Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler and artists Eric Zawadski (pencils, inks & letters) and Dee Cunniffe (colors) wrap up their story as Marlowe crashes the line at La Mancha, Vancouver’s trendiest new restaurant. In true noir fashion, Marlowe knows the truth, the bad guys know Marlowe knows, and it doesn’t make one iota of a difference. Except of course to Marlowe himself. The Dregs is a horror-filled take on gentrification which presents no solutions and no victories, only a kind of madness that makes the quixotic tilt at the windmill the only act of heroism possible. Arnold – Marlowe to me – is crazy, but I love this character and his world, and I would love to see him return. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Black Magick #6 (Image)** – As promised, Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are back to show us who and what Rowan Black is up against. The first issue of the new arc takes us back to Rowan’s 13th birthday ceremony, where she awakens to the memory of all of her past lives – a very long and painful memory indeed. I love a good character study, and it was nice to see Rowan as a kid wrestling hard with the problem of how to do no harm in a world that seems to make special efforts to harm her and her family. Trying to figure out why to live by a code of justice that only seems to apply to her while letting the rest of the world off scot-free. Her mother’s assurances on that score ring absolutely hollow and are immediately proven to be objectively wrong (I won’t give it away) in a way that takes us out of character study and right back into the story we left off. Excellent work all around – I especially adored Nicola Scott’s portrayal of three generations of Black women, all individuals but at the same time clearly mothers and daughters. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
True Patriot Presents #5 (Chapterhouse)** – Happy Canada Day, everyone! Chapterhouse serves up the latest installment of their anthology series. Red Ensign is a wartime Canadian hero with no special powers, much like Johnny Canuck. (The red ensign was the name of an unofficial Canadian flag used until we got our own flag in 1965). This is the opening chapter of a black and white movie serial featuring Nazi scientists and atomic secrets. Fun. Arrowhead is my favourite thing in the entire Chapterverse (the Avro Arrow was a 1960’s-era Canadian-made fighter jet, supposedly the most advanced plane in the world, and was never put into production for mysterious reasons). Here, a famous UFO sighting turns out to be a time traveller from the far future. Super fun! Dominion Jack is the daughter of the original (the official name of our home and native land was the Dominion of Canada, and July 1 was Dominion Day until 1982). This is a paint-by-numbers superhero-fights-supervillains-in-superjail story, with a standard melodramatic reveal. Crude is a tarsands monster, but it’s been several issues since we last saw it, and I completely forgot what this story was supposed to be about. Not that it was anything more than a Swamp-Thing-of-Fort McMurray (capital city of the Alberta oil sands). Nothing new, or even horror-genre-standard in either the writing or the art. Finally, the Family Dynamic, which stands out here as the only non-specifically Canadian heroes. They are elemental types in an okay superheroic story – but when they get a forest fire assist from Motor City’s Defender, media speculation abounds as to whether the Canadians are going to merge with their American counterparts. Ain’t that always the way, eh? It’s hard to rate an anthology, but the weak stuff (Dominion Jack, Crude) and the mediocre (Family Dynamic) really drags the good stuff (Red Ensign, Arrowhead) down. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read (I bought mine, but cheap on Comixology).
Star Wars Droids Unplugged #1 (Marvel)– In this one shot, what feels like the Star Wars version of Lion King 1 1/2, we get three separate stories about the goings ons around the Empire. In the first one, we find out what the Probe Droids were up to when Darth Maul was not around.In the second story, we find out exactly what R2-D2 has to do to get ready for a mission. In the last story, BB-8 helps two rebels fall in love. Altogether, a fun lighthearted escape from the usual dire circumstances of the Star Wars Universe.
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 (**).