Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/6
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.
Batman and the Signal #1 (DC) With a tongue in cheek joke about the overcrowded Batman supporting cast, Tony Patrick, Scott Snyder, and Cully Hamner throw a wrench into the works of Gotham City in Duke Thomas’ solo title. He’s a young hero, who fights by day, has some visually cool powers, and lacks the privileges of other Gotham superheroes. Patrick writes Duke with plenty of personality and self-awareness, and his plot is a bit of a mash-up of Gotham Central and We Are Robin with just a dash of X-Men. Former Blue Beetle/Question artist Hamner is the perfect fit for this book with his background doing bright superhero battles as well investigating and general detective things. Fingers crossed this becomes an ongoing! Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy
Iceman #9 (Marvel) This issue of Iceman had so much potential, including a funny Northstar cameo, some real talk about Bobby’s reasons for leaving the X-Men, and Robert Gill’s sexy depiction of evil Daken. However, even though Sina Grace is a gay writer, the book falls prey to the “bury your gays” trope killing a half-baked boyfriend character to build up the big battle between Iceman, junkie mutant Amp, and Apocalypse Seed Daken. Iceman purports to be a progressive comic, but it leans on the same mind control/love interest getting killed off cliches that have been collecting dust since the 80s and early 90s. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
Black Bolt #9 (Marvel)** Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward are just plain killing it on this book! A moving send-off to Crusher Creel/The Absorbing Man, followed by a cliffhanger that will leave you picking your jaw up off the floor — not to mention art that does the same? Seriously, “Big Two” books don’t get any better than this. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Batman #38 (DC)** I like Travis Moore’s art on this one-part story. In fact, I like it a lot. And I like the fact that Tom King was attempting to do something different with this — uhmmm — sorta-Bruce Wayne story. But his stilted dialogue is starting to make everyone sound the same, his herky-jerk pacing no longer seems stylish or unique, and the story itself is pretty light on substance. They get a couple points (okay, four to be precise) for trying here, but not much more than that. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass
Batman And The Signal #1 (DC)** – This three-part “Metal” spin-off shining a spotlight (sorry, bad pun) on Duke Thomas seemed to come out of nowhere, but it’s probably long overdue given that ol’ Duke’s been around for a few years now and we still don’t have a very firm handle on what his super-hero gig even is, much less why he’s doing it. Scott Snyder gets top billing here but he’s just a co-plotter, the script itself being the work of Tony Patrick, and I guess it’s fine as far as it goes even if the mystery at its core is far less than enthralling. A Story set in Gotham’s daytime hours is a nifty enough conceit on its own merits and the dialogue’s fine, but “serviceable” is about the highest compliment I can give it. Ditto for Cully Hamner’s art, which gets the job done but not much more. I had no expectations about this one going in, and whaddya know — I guess it lived up to them. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Worth a read for serious Bat-fans, but probably a pass for anyone else.
Rock Candy Mountain #7 (Image)** Kyle Starks is quietly turning out one of the best things on comic shops shelves, and anyone who’s passed on this amazingly inventive and superbly-illustrated tale of hobo life seriously needs to pick it up in trade. One issue to go and I miss it already, but Starks really ramps things up for what promises to be a bang-up conclusion. Comics with this much personality don’t come along from the “major independents” like Image often enough. I’m damn grateful for this one. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy
Black Bolt #9 (Marvel) Saladin Ahmed’s captain America is the real captain America. They should give him the title next so that real healing within the marvel U and in the marvel fandom can begin. Ward’s colorful art combines a 1970s high end sci-fi art aesthetic of sculpted figures and shapes and an Impressionist painter’s color pallets with sensitive facial expressions. His Titania is as mighty and as vulnerable as she should be. Overall 9.5 Recommendation: Buy.
Rise of the Black Panther #1 (Marvel). This is the best Black Panther comic of recent years, which is made even more impressive by being writer Evan Narcisse’s comics debut. It is a crash course in Wakandan history (and Stark history) that’s dense enough to make even a Claremont fan feel their dollars are well spent. The political underpinnings are set just right to tell a story of African resistance to colonialism that the world still needs to hear. The art is elegant and detailed, especially colorist Stéphane Paitreau’s soft and lush palette. The story features T’chaka and N’yami’s beautiful romance and a special appearance from a certain Howlin’ Commando made me cheer. Overall 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Cinema Purgatorio #13 (Avatar)** – First up, a history lesson in British music hall and cinema from Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Old Mother Riley was the drag character of actor Arthur Lucan, who was married to the girl who played his daughter in their double act, and died in the wings of a theatre in Hull. Moore’s genius for marrying text and subtext, cabaret and comics, is the show here. Next, in Garth Ennis & Raulo Caceres’ “Code Pru”, an unexpectedly moving gay werewolf story that deepened the mystery of the mole in the police department and deepened Eric’s character. I had a lump in my throat at the end of these 8 pages, and “Code Pru” has become my favourite thing in this anthology. I’ve also come to like Kieron Gillen & Nahuel Lopez’ “Modded”. In this issue, we get an unskippable cutscene about drugs and the abyss. I’ve got a bad feeling about next issue, where we’ll be seeing the effects of Blue Sky on our heroine Fringe. Overall: solid 7 (I’ve given up on both “A More Perfect Union” and “The Vast”) Recommendation: Read
Koshchei the Deathless #1 (Dark Horse)** – I am a sucker for a Baba Yaga story (must be the Ukrainian in me) so I picked this up, having not read the Hellboy stories being referred to. But Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck hit the basics in the first 4 pages and from then on it’s pure excellent storytelling, or rather tale-spinning. “Gods or devils, there’s nothing for it now but to go on.” I’m with that guy. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Cosmo #1 (Archie) – I’m always on the lookout for kid-friendly sci-fi so I checked out this offering from Ian Flynn & Tracy Yardley. Basically: Cosmo is a young Martian who travels the universe for fun & adventure & discovery and comes across a UFO that belongs to Earthman Max Strongjaw. This is a little too winky-wink about its tropes for my taste – my 6-year-old wouldn’t get the jokes, and I’ve heard them all before. The art is fun and friendly, so I might give it another couple of issues to see where it goes. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Check it out if you’ve got kids.
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 (**).