Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/31
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.
Cyber Force #1 (Image/Top Cow) This is the most approachable entry into the Top Cow universe I’ve ever seen. It assumes no familiarity with the characters or continuity and instead builds up an intriguing if not particularly original story that suffers a bit from falling over a couple tropes that could do with a permanent retirement. It’s nice to see Top Cow finally move away from its house style which was honestly starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. Atlio Rojo’s pencils are refreshingly clean and free of cheesecake. I don’t know how the Top Cow faithful will respond to this revision, but I plan on coming back next month. Rating: 7 Recommendation: Read
Dark Nights Metal #6 (DC) I can’t help but shake the feeling that this could have been great. It could have been an amazing story, but it wasn’t. Instead we got a disjointed six issue miniseries with some amazing moments set between average – at best – stretches where you risk falling deeper into indifference. For a series with such promise, the conclusion is largely forgettable. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Doomsday Clock #4 (DC) A much better read than I expected going into it, we get a bit more insight into the new Rorschach, and a comic that elevates the overall quality of the series so far. That said, this isn’t going to make much sense if you haven’t read the other three issues, but if you have you’ll be happy with this Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Nights Metal #6 (DC)– Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo absolutely gonzo event comic culminates in a Plastic Man stretching, Joker dragon riding heavy metal thunder. Sure, most of the book is a giant beat ’em up, but it’s nice to have some light and hope and even humor after treading some grimdark waters. Capullo channels some of his best Batman work in an intimate Mano a mano between the Dark Knight and his Dark multiverse counterpart. And the conclusion of this story leaves the DC multiverse open for more fun adventures and heroic team-ups. Bravo, Snyder, Capullo, and letterer Clem Robins , who adds to Barbatos’ menace, for understanding that the DC multiverse is place of wonder, adventure, and above all, friendship between heroes. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Daredevil #600 (Marvel)- Charles Soule’s plot has plenty of twists and turns, and Ron Garney turns in all kinds of compelling setpieces from a group brawl between the Defenders and NYC’s crime lords to dark, intimate one on one battles between Muse and Blindspot and Kingpin and Daredevil. Soule writes Wilson Fisk as the ultimate chess master, who takes out both his vigilante and villain rivals in one fell swoop before he’s taken surprise in a sequence from Garney that is straight out of a Kurosawa film. This issue connects the plot where Daredevil made a deal with the Hand to get his sidekick, Blindspot’s sight back to Wilson Fisk running NYC in a perfectly legal way and upends the status quo once again. As an actual lawyer, Soule’s run on Daredevil has been all about the vigilante/lawyer’s connection to the legal system, and that also includes blood oaths to death cults. And if this comic couldn’t get any better, Christos Gage and Mike Perkins craft a heartwarming backup showing Matt Murdock and Daredevil’s life from the POV of his best friend/bullshit detector, Foggy Nelson Overall: 9.8 Verdict: Buy
Mother Panic Gotham AD #1 (DC/Young Animal) Trade out the cyberpunk for Victorian decay and an aging Bruce for a homeless, broken Joker, and you’ve got Jody Houser and Ibrahim Moustafa’s Mother Panic Gotham AD. After the events of Milk Wars, Violet and her new hyperviolent sidekick Rosie are in a new Gotham controlled by the Collective (The organization that tortured and ran tests on her.) and looking for a purpose. Moustafa’s art is sharp and unrelenting like Mother Panic herself, but the book lacks a mystery/revenge hook like the previous volume. In fact, the backup story by Houser and a fantastic Pauline Ganucheau does a much better job establishing the series’ villain as a “New Gotham” advertising meeting goes from an Americana-tinged ode to gentrification to geysers of blood. But Houser and Moustafa’s compelling take on the Joker and stripped down no money or toys version of Violet’s crime war make this worth a look Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read
Black Panther #171 (Marvel)** – It’s too bad Marvel isn’t capitalizing on the success of the “Black Panther” film with an accessible — not to mention good — storyline in the comic of the same name, but as is, we’re approaching the conclusion of the 13-part, and decidedly mediocre, “Avengers Of The New World.” This penultimate segment tries its best to be jaw-dropping, but as is, the revelation that the “big bad” is actually a little-used, and decidedly third-tier, villain makes the whole thing barely seem consequential, let alone explosive — and Leonard Kirk’s art matches Ta-Nehisi Coates’ script blow-for-blow in the mediocrity department. Overall: 2.5 Recommendation: Pass
Moon Knight # 193 (Marvel)** – Max Bemis and Jacen Burrows put the wraps on their opening “Crazy Runs In The Family” story arc with a conclusion that seems rushed and anti-climactic, and the idea that Marc Spector has special powers in his DID “craziness” was done earlier, and far better, by Grant Morrison and Richard Case with the far-more-sympathetic character of Crazy Jane in their groundbreaking “Doom Patrol” run. Burrows elevates the proceedings with his crisp and fluid art that really shines during the extended fight scene that eats up most of this issue, but Bemis story is just completely flat, uninvolving, and too conveniently-resolved for its own good. Overall: 4.5 Recommendation: Pass
The Demon: Hell Is Earth #5 (DC)** – Andrew Constant and Brad Walker have one issue to go in their Etrigan mini-series, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how this comic went off the rails so quickly. The first chapter was intriguing, inventive, and offered a fresh take on Jason Blood and his demon “brother,” but it devolved into a rather standard-issue magical dust-up in no time flat, and this installment continues the downward trend. The fate of the entire world is at stake, but somehow this story feels like it’s limping toward the finish line. The art’s brash and dynamic and fun, but that’s really all this book has going for it. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass
The Ruff And Reddy Show #6 (DC)** – Howard Chaykin and Mac Rey continue DC’s trend of doing some really fun and interesting things with their licensed Hanna-Barbera line, and now that this brutal take-down of Hollywood’s shallowness and stupidity is over, I’m actually going to miss it. Chaykin’s satirical script is about as far from subtle as you can imagine, but it’s spot-on and smart, and Rey’s animation cel-style art is pure eye candy. Everything ends on a more-than-satisfactory-note, with the door left open for a future mini-series, not that I expect that to happen. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Old Man Hawkeye #3 (Marvel) We catch up with Clint as he settles old scores, and often finds broken old friends. We also find Bullseye with a razor sharp focus on Hawkeye, as he foregoes his responsibilities as Marshall to take out Clint. Before long, Clint finds a shell of a hero in Atlas, as a belittled sideshow freak. By issue’s end, he shows his old friend a mercy but one that will cost him. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Damnation Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel) Right when Johnny Blaze makes the ultimate sacrifice, fans find him to have survived the fall and separated from his Spirit Of Vengeance side. As him and his Spirit side fight their way through Hell, they both understand the stakes as they’re recruit a bunch of wayward criminals to finish off Mephisto. As they closer, many obstacles lay along the fault lines of redemption and retribution for Johnny and Ghost Rider. By book’s end, Ghost Rider sits on the Throne Of Hell and the world is not the same. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Black Magick #11 (Image)** – It’s one thing to write a series where police officer Rowan Black is a witch with more or less real-world Wiccan practices. But it’s another thing when actual magickal powers (or should that be, Powers) start to show up. i can’t lie: I’m a bit disappointed to see Rowan being revealed as a magical Chosen One with Great Power If She Ever Lets Herself Use It. It reduces what had been, for me, an interesting and original mix of police procedural and fantasy to a very well-worn trope. I’ll stick around for the third arc to see where it goes, because Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott have been doing great work. But this conclusion of the second arc kind of let me down. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Infinity 8 #1 (Lion Forge) – I’ve been reading this series in the original French, so I was curious to see it (and share!) in English. Lewis Trondheim is always good for an interesting take on genre. Here, the deal is this: a spaceliner runs across a giant mausoleum. The captain of the liner has the ability to open a new timeline 8 hours long to sandbox the investigation. Then they can either stay in that timeline or reboot. The captain can do this 8 times. So off we go! Agent Yoko Karen just wants to get herself knocked up by a worth donor so she can retire early. But the discovery of the mysterious mausoleum puts a damper on those plans. Meanwhile, to the scavenger Kornalien species, all those dead bodies means a feast for the ages. Infinity 8 is light and fun, and it’s interesting to see in actual American comic book form (where the French album is divided into three issues). Trondheim & Zep’s script is fast and loose, Jeremy Melloul’s translation is spot on, and Dominique Bertail’s art would not be out of place in an early 80’s issue of Heavy Metal. Nothing earth-shattering, but definitely a good time. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Come Into Me #1 (Black Mask) – As The Dregs was one of my favourite comics last year, I was looking forward to something new from writers Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler. If, like me, you’re a fan of David Cronenberg, you’ll need to get on this. It has the scientist with a God complex, the Toronto setting, and the horror of a new kind of flesh – in this case, the social flesh. Dr. Sebastian Quinn is working on a method to transfer consciousness from one body to another. Becky wants to experience this just to see how far she can go in terms of sharing the flesh, and she’ll pay good money to do it. I’ll be damned if the script doesn’t feel exactly like 80’s Cronenberg, in all the best possible ways. Piotr Kowalski’s art is pretty standard, but there’s something vaguely unsettling about the sketchiness of his inks, like the human beings in the forefront aren’t quite real yet. I’ll be following this. Overall: 7.5 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 (**).