Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/24
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.
Batman #43 (DC)** – So that’s it, huh? Poison Ivy takes over the whole world except, for reasons never explained, Batman and Catwoman — then three issues later, one punch and some persuasive dialogue get her to give up her scheme. Poor show, Tom King — very poor show indeed. Clay Mann and Hugo Petrus do their best to elevate a garbage comic with some truly luscious art, but you know what they say about putting lipstick on a pig. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass
Deadman #5 (DC)** – If you thought Neal Adams had gone off the deep end before this issue (and you were right, by the way), prepare to see him completely sink into a veritable ocean of insane nonsense here. Nothing anyone is saying or doing makes any sense from first page to last in this book, and Adams’ art — well, let’s just be polite and say it ain’t what it used to be. Not even close. All of which makes this the most poorly-done comic on the shelves this week — but also undeniably compelling and singular work. Overall: 0. Recommendation: Buy. This is not a typo.
Thanos #17 (Marvel)** – Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw are having so much fun doing this comic that the enthusiasm is downright contagious to readers. This issue is no more substantive than the average 1990s Image rag, but it’s far better-drawn than any of them were, and the story, while straight out of the “dumb jock” school of comics, is actually quite a bit of fun. A lot of cool future versions of fan-favorite characters have been introduced in the first few chapters of the “Thanos Wins” storyline — and they all get killed here. Batshit crazy fun if you’re willing to shut off your brain and go with the flow. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Ice Cream Man #3 (Image)** – The third issue of W. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo’s anthology of stand-alone horror stories falls somewhere between the lackluster first and the stellar second, but the clean, detailed art and the story’s semi-unique take on “fallen star syndrome” make it well worth your time, if not your money. There will be ups and down with any series of this sort, but it would probably be a mistake not to at least keep an eye on what’s being done here. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye #1 (DC/Young Animal) – Jon Rivera, Michael Avon Oeming, and Nick Filardi for another adventure of Cave Carson, his daughter Chloe, and Professor Bartow that is one part psychedelia, another part spacey prog rock, and the mix is completed by “Blackstar” by David Bowie. The team visits Cave’s old friend, Star Adam, the godfather of rock, and they reminisce about the old days until Star finally it’s time to die. Oeming and Filardi’s art is brilliant and has all the glory and madness of the elaborate 80s MTV era music videos where rock stars became gods through sounds and visuals. Cave Carson #1 will make you miss David, Freddie, Prince, and Michael all at once while setting up some pretty crazy adventures in the future and delving into Cave’s backstory in the backup story, which is framed as a podcast. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy
Kill or Be Killed #17 (Image) – Ed Brubaker uses Dylan’s unreliable narration to craft a simple revenge story in the psych hospital where he’s getting treatment. Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser create plenty of claustrophobic spaces with his art and her sterile colors before Dylan ends up wandering in the falling snow, which is as pure as he wishes his motives would be. Again, Brubaker and Phillips make Dylan sympathetic by making his nemesis, Perry, a monster of a human being, who uses the “r” word and has sex with and gropes his patients. The guy had it coming, but this incident shows Dylan’s increasing addiction to vigilantism even when he’s supposed to be getting help. The longer game plotline of Dylan’s roommate discovering his guns in mask might seem more interesting, but this fairly standalone issue showcase the complex mixture of justice, revenge, and power that motivates Dylan to kill. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Runaways #7 (Marvel) – Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson settle in slowly into the new arc and focus on the team/family’s new dynamic by splitting them into pairs. Each character has an issue to deal with from Karolina’s long distance relationship with Julie Power plus college to Chase and Nico becoming parental figures and looking for jobs and Gert working out some body image things not so well with the still headless Victor. There are no villainous plots yet (Except for the last panel of the last page), and Rowell, Anka, and Wilson craft the story through a series of vignettes, including Nico and Karolina chilling at the diner, Nico and Chase slaying a parent teacher conference, and Molly exuberantly enjoying middle school. Anka still has the gift of fashion, and Wilson adds a splash of pastels as Molly does an elaborate BFF handshake. This book is way more concerned with every day family life than any sort of superheroics, and that’s totally cool. I love how Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka show Nico and Karolina’s unlikely friendship. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Mage: the Hero Denied #7 (Image)** – As Kevin gets high and searches out the Questing Beast for Reasons, the real heroine of the book, Magda, is brutally assaulted by something in a man’s suit, also for Reasons. Meanwhile, more monsters take over Kevin’s son’s schoolbus, and another monster destroys his house. Apparently, with neighbours and the school board none the wiser. Just what is going on in this world, and how does it work? Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Skip
Dry County #1 (Image)** – Though Spy Seal caught my eye, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea. So I was really happy to see a new Rich Tommaso series, and a Florida Noir at that. A chance encounter in an apartment laundry room leads to upheaval in the lonely life of a strip cartoonist. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s all in the details. Watching a pretty regular guy who knows not much trying to work things out while drunk is always a good time for me. Tomasso’s writing nails Lou’s inner workings, and his art is cartoonishly stylized without being pretentious. Refreshing to just watch someone go to work telling a story. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack #7 (Boom!)** – This thing is just not slowing down. In this issue, the gang goes to rescue Egg Shen and things do not go exactly as planned – well, “plan” is a strong word. This series is one of the rare ones that actually has a pulp feel to it, like John Carpenter, Anthony Burch, and Jorge Corona are making it up as they go and then go, “it’s almost the end of the issue, we better have a cliffhanger”. But the cliffhanger actually has consequences. This is a really solid, fun ride. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Kill Or Be Killed #17 (Image)** – While things go down badly back in the world, Dylan hatches a plan in Bellevue. Not a plan to get out, but to kill one of the orderlies. And yep, Perry is definitely deserving: abusing patients, getting high at work, calling people “retard”. But Dylan, now demonless and unmedicated, is even more of a mess now that he’s killing people for his own conflicted motives. Brubaker takes us right down that hole in the ice, and Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser give us incredible images of snowstorms and staircases. As for the story going on in the outside world, well, I got so wrapped up in this issue that I completely forgot, too. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Stray Bullets #33 (Image/El Capitan)** – When an entire issue spotlights Kretch’s quest to rid himself of the useless things and people in his life – you know, all the people to whom he has given so much and been let down by so hard – it’s best to maybe take a shot before you crack it open. When you realize that one of those useless things is the guy’s OWN ARM, you might as well just leave the bottle. “We’re the future and I’m letting your lumpy ass in on the ground floor” indeed. Another shot? Don’t mind if I do. David Lapham continues to delight. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Batman #43 (DC) Holey. Shit. No, really, that’s what this is. A comic with a plot full of holes, that is ultimately a turd. A pretty turd, of course, but a turd nonetheless. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Igore and consign to the depths of history.
Weapon H #1 (Marvel) When you have a character that is literally a cross between Hulk and Wolverine you kind of know what to expect here; and yes, you’ll be familiar with the story, but that doesn’t mean it is any less enjoyable. Greg Pak delivers a decent popcorn comic that doesn’t set the world on fire, but is more than entertaining. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
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 (**).