Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/23
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.
Dry County #4 (Image)** – “Ready?” – “Mnn–not really.” Rich Tommaso serves up the penultimate issue of his Florida Noir as Lou Rossi loses his job but gets a step closer to finding Janet. This of course turns out badly for our frankly lousy detective in another excellent installment. I’ll be sad to see this end but happy to have discovered Tommaso. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Mage: the Hero Denied #9 (Image)** – There are times, like at the start of this issue, that Kevin Matchstick actually seems to be worthy of wielding Excalibur. It is great to see him wade into the redcaps and just whale on them like the warrior king everyone tells us he is. But then the stakes return to their weirdly low level and he just kind of goes along with whatever anyone (say, his sister-in-law Isis) tells him. Also: I hate to tell you, bud, but your son Hugo is either one of the dumbest kids in fiction or you’ve raised him to be completely clueless about the world he is living in. Either way, he’s basically a personality-less character with no apparent desires or wants of his own, which makes it easy to not care too much about what happens to him except insofar as it might continue to kick Kevin’s lazy ass into gear. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Skip
I Hate Fairyland #19 (Image)** – Nice to see Gert and Larry together again, united in mayhem – even if it is in Hell and Gert knows everything that’s going to happen. So we get a nice little space adventure with Buster Booster to get us started, and thenDuncan Dragon shows up to bring Gert to the Council to save the Fairyland she despises from Dark Cloudia. Dire times indeed! A bit of a placeholder, it’ll be nice when Skottie Young ditches his plot and returns to simpler and more fun stuff. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Proxima Centauri #1 (Image)** – Hell yes I will buy a new Farel Darlymple series, here is my money thank you very much. Here, he’s doing, uh, it looks kind of like space opera, telling the story of Sherwood from The Wrenchies in his teenage years on a “stupid planet or space station or whatever it is”. First off: a space suit with a cape is cool. Second: Sherwood is a whiny teenager on a mission to save the world. So of course he’s not very good at it, and he’s distracted by trying to impress a girl, saying things that he’s gotten from movies that sound tough but realizing they actually sound stupid, getting mad at himself and laying the blame on the world, just a very regular teenage boy who believes “…the whole world is only what’s happening to you.” I love that Dalrymple never resorts to explaining anything, just keeps us in the action and in our hero’s perception of the action at the same time. Which is a hell of a trick when you think about it. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Man of Steel #4 (DC)– The battle between Superman, Supergirl, and Rogol Zaar is joined, and Brian Michael Bendis’ DC debut miniseries takes a leap in quality thanks to insightful writing and earth shaking action drawn by Kevin Maguire. Maguire can do the big action of Rogol Zaar trying to kill the last two Kryptonians as well as scenes with more character acting and facial expressions like when Hal Jordan shows up, and Bendis writes him as an empathetic space cop. Bendis also takes things like ethnic cleansing and collateral damage seriously in Man of Steel #4, and a lot of the suspense comes from Superman trying to take the fight outside Metropolis and figure out a way to counter this new threat. The cherry on the top of this fine comic book is actual plot development in the short Jon/Lois/Clark flashback sequences that have been threaded throughout the mini. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
Archie’s Superteens Versus the Crusaders #1 (Archie)– Ian Flynn, David Williams, Gary Martin, and Kelsey Shannon turn in a fun, no frill superhero extravaganza in Superteens vs. The Crusaders. When a supervillain reject turned substitute teacher wreaks havoc on Riverdale High, the superpowered Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead must hold him off until the, er, grownups come to town. Flynn, Williams, and Martin don’t bother with origin stories and just throw the gang into action until the cliffhanger comes a little too quickly. Unlike the Dark Circle, everything is played fairly straight, and there are some great jokes along the way like a random student wondering if this giant robot attack is going to be on the test… Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Justice League #2 (DC)– Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez throw about a dozen crazy ideas on the proverbial dart board of this comic, such as Batman and Hawkgirl, piloting Superman and Martian Manhunter’s bodies, and some of them actually stick. This is because they balance blockbuster action with introspective characterization even though the quiet moments get lost in the noise of the big stuff. Honestly, the Legion of Doom is more compelling than the JL at this point, especially a fly off the handle Lex Luthor, who begins the book by blowing up his dad’s country club and continues by giving each of his teammates something they didn’t know they desired. There’s an ease and elasticity to Jimenez’s art work, and he’s well suited to a big time book like this. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read
Runaways #10 (Marvel)– Damn, this comic was emotionally destructive. Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson deal with the fallout of Karolina’s girlfriend Julie Power eating a cupcake that will make her thirteen forever, tell the origin story of the “villain” Abigail,and wrap up this fantastic arc about growing up and life transitions. Wilson’s colors capture the vibe of each scene from a happy go lucky Abigail getting immortality from the Enchantress in the carefree 1960s to the dark car ride home after the Runaways prevent her from ever growing up and watching everyone around her grow old Highlander style. Many superhero story arcs conclude with a “big win”, but Rowell and Anka go for the more relatable “big bummer” and end the book on an interpersonal moment that has been long marinating than a punch fest. There is action in the book, however. Overall: 9.4 Verdict: Buy
Batman #49 (DC)**- Not a bad issue in the scheme of things, as some of the dialogue between The Joker and Catwoman is genuinely clever and interesting, and of course Mikel Janin’s art is spectacular, but Tom King is still basically treading water here, and as a lead-in to one of the biggest events in Bat-history next issue, it’s somewhat lackluster, if competent, stuff. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read.
Days Of Hate #6 (Image)** – A decent enough return to form after a “major” chapter in this saga fell curiously flat last time, but Ales Kot’s script leans a bit too heavy on the preachiness and his imitation of John Smith’s prose — well, it ain’t John Smith, I’ll leave it at that. Danijel Zezelj’s art is superb and enthralling, as always, and there’s a pretty jaw-dropping cliffhanger, so on the whole this was at least worth the time, if not the money. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Deadly Class #35 (Image)** – Rick Remender and Wes Craig wrap up their “Love Like Blood” arc with a huge, action-centric issue that puts its foot right on the gas and never lets up. A major character dies (for real this time), the status quo is shaken to its core, and it really does feel like nothing will ever be the same again. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy
Black Hammer: Age Of Doom #3 (Dark Horse)** – Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston ramp up the revelations considerably this time out, and set the stage for what promises to be a very key issue next month, and manage to poke good-natured fun at “The Sandman” and evoke fond memories of “Sweet Tooth” while they’are at it. What’s not to love, I ask? Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy
Amazing Spider-man: Renew your vows #20 (Marvel) This book both has a dated yet fresh feel at the same time. I have always clamored for a continuity where Annie “May” Parker survived her throw away fate at the end of the first Clone Saga in 90s. The family dynamic of all three Parkers having powers is just fantastic and you don’t see that happen enough in comics. Even MJ having powers I’m fine with. Having little Annie learn the webs was a joy now she’s a moody teen with a mix of her moms spirit and dad’s morals. I am digging this but when they said they would be introducing a Clone Saga for Annie I definitely winced. So far it’s a quick start and any time we get Peter and Logan teaming up is always great fun. Him saying Logan was 500 years old was hilarious. Sure the book has a 90s feel but with way less pouches everywhere. So that isn’t a bad thing. I am enjoying this title and the villain behind this madness might have been a better route to have behind it in the original saga. All in all it feels like a trip down memory road but I’m hoping for a detour or two to have me consult my GPS. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read. It’s fun.
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 (**).