Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/24
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.
Black Panther Annual #1 (Marvel)– In time for the hit movie, Marvel pays homage to three classic eras of Black Panther comics and three different sides of his personality. Priest’s lead story sings with humor and banter between T’Challa and Everett Ross to go with the action filled art of Mike Perkins. He still excels at global cloak and dagger stories and should be the lead Black Panther writer in my opinion. Don McGregor and Daniel Acuna’a story is a beautiful tone poem about the love between T’Challa and Monica Lynne. It shows his vulnerable side too with Acuna’s painterly brush strokes. Finally, there’s Reggie Hudlin and Ken Lashley’s future story which meditates on T’challa’s legacy, embrace of conquest, and the sad cost of war. A must read even if you’re not reading the ongoing. Overall: 10 Verdict: Buy
Batman #41 (DC)** – Thank goodness for Mikel Janin, whose art on this issue is absolutely gorgeous, because if it weren’t for him, we’d be looking at one of the all-time worst “Batman” comics here. Tom King’s script is sparse and lazy, his premise makes no sense (if Poison Ivy could take over the minds of everyone all at once, why didn’t she do it before?), and his dialogue is completely interchangeable. This series had been running in place for some time, but now it seems to be actively headed downhill. Overall: 3 (all points earned by the art alone). Recommendation: Pass
Damage #2 (DC)** – I was ready to throw in the towel after the first issue of this series, but I’m glad I hung around for the second, as we get some solid characterization from Robet Venditti this time out, our protagonist’s backstory finally gets some filling in, and Tony Daniel’s art, while not my cup of tea, is at least competent and effective. It’s pretty obvious that this character is DC’s answer to the Hulk in the same way that Sideways is a riff on Spider-Man and The Terrifics look to be an FF-style team, but hey — if Marvel is going to make Marvel-style comics anymore, somebody else is bound to step in to fill the void. Overall: 6.5. Recommendation: Read
Ice Cream Man #2 (Image)** – Another series that I almost gave up on after one issue that rewarded my patience is this one. The stand-alone horror anthology format that W.Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo are employing here is bound to produce some high and low points, and this harrowing tale of a doomed junkie couple is definitely the former. Gripping, gut-wrenching stuff, superbly illustrated with rich and textured detail. One hell of a comic book. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy
Luke Cage #170 (Marvel)** – David F,Walker never really found his footing with this book (his backmatter piece — as well as his stellar track record — makes me wonder if that wasn’t primarily due to editorial interference), but he and artist Guillermo Sana definitely close things out on a very high note indeed here with this touching, dare I even say magical, tale that sees Luke telling his daughter a bedtime story — and her taking over. Simple,poignant stuff that makes me wonder what could have been with this series — but I’m very grateful for what we did get here at the end. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Amazing Spider-Man #796 (Marvel Comics) Dan Slott/ Mike Hawthorne – The countdown to the gigantic 800 is on! As Dan Slotts sun is about to set on his time with Spidey my anticipation for every issue hits a fever pitch. Unfortunately this time it is more like a mild head cold. The issue starts well enough with Spidey and Anti Venom taking on the Goblin Squad with Hobgoblin leading the charge. I don’t know what else to say but everything seems tired. Dan Slott, who is responsible for giving us some of the most creative out the box Spider Stories (Superior Spider-Man anyone??) And some of the worst (Ben Reilly: Jackal *shudders) just seems to be spinning his wheels here. It doesn’t help that penciller Mike Hawthorne is just okay. His art tries to be Stuart Immonen without recapturing what makes him great. The panels don’t seem as kinetic to me. Even Spidey’s quips seem forced. We all know that this is only a precursor to the final arc “Go down swinging” but this was like a weak jab. The issue is not without highlight though as we get Norman Osborn fully bonded with the Carnage Symbiote and now able reintegrate the Goblin serum. Things just went threat level Red for our webslinger indeed! Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read for free if you can find it. You will only want the last few pages
Black Panther Annual #1 (Marvel)– In a rare treat or should I say an embarrassment of riches for longtime Black Panther fans, we get the three writers who have significantly changed the Canon of Black Panther:Priest, McGregor and Hudlin. The first story has the reader following Agent Ross as he deals with the fallout between Black Panther and the White Wolf and Malice, all set in New York. The second story follows an alternate timeline where he falls in love with a different woman named Monica Lynne and how despite the advanced Wakandan technology could not save her from cancer, proving to be the worst heartbreak of his life.In the last story, we find an older T’Challa in an alternate timeline where the Wakandan empire has taken over the world but at a great cost, as we find more a weary warrior than a wise ruler. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Mata Hari #1 (Dark Horse/Berger Books) – I really wanted to like this, I really and truly did. The wonderful and complex story of the woman who was Mata Hari is ripe for a great comic. This is not that comic. Writer Emma Beeby falls between the cracks of telling a linear history and digging into the inner world of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle-MacLeod. Ariela Kristantina’s art works best, I think, in the flashback sequences to Holland – but still in a style that can’t seem to make up its mind whether it’s cartoony or realistic. I kept looking at it and wanting Tardi or Blutch or Kerascoet to bring the European realness. Pat Masioni’s colors are uniformly dull, with no contrast between Paris courtrooms and Mata Hari’s dream world. I also can’t explain Sal Cipriano’s lettering choices: the caption font is generic, the handwriting font off-the-rack. I sound like I’m picking nits all over the place, but in a Karen Berger book I expected something far more substantial and spectacular top to bottom. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip.
Punks Not Dead #1 (IDW/Black Crown) – Shelly Bond’s imprint delivers a book that feels like it dropped straight out of the Vertigo office in 1996. Basically: English public-school teenager is haunted/helped by a ghost who may or may not be Sid Vicious. Meanwhile, British secret service of course has a division related to occult intelligence. David Barnett’s script is all right, Martin Simmonds’ art is fine – it just doesn’t feel fresh and dark and, well, punk. Overall: 7ish. Recommendation: Skip.
Sex Criminals #22 (Image) – Said it before: Fraction and Zdarsky are so on fire just delving into the non-relationship of Suzie and Jon now that all this plot stuff is an unwelcome distraction. The first 10 pages and the last 4 are a deep, dark, complex, and heartbreaking portrait of how sex and relationships weave a messy connection between human beings that can never truly be erased by more sex and more relationships. I eagerly await the moment when Suzie’s mom gets beyond caricature, just as I await the moment when Sexcrims sheds its premise and plotlines and just dives into the humanity that it has always promised. 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 (**).