Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/30
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.
X-O Manowar #16 (Valiant)** A tale set in Aric’s youth as the character features heavily in Harbinger Wars II, this story faces the same problem all stories set in a character’s past do; you already know the outcome. But it’s the journey that matters most, and this journey is at least pretty to look at and gives us, oddly, a better look into the armour as it narrates the book. Probably not essential reading, but enjoyable nonetheless. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read
Pestilence: A Story Of Satan #2 (Aftershock)** There’s a warning on this book that indicates it is for mature readers only. It’s not bloody wrong. But underneath the tream of profanity from Satan’s mouth, underneath the gratuitous nudity and a rape scene that’s not explicitly shown (but there is no doubt about what happened), underneath these things that seem to be trying to draw your attention away, there is a little bit of plot movement that could be summed up in two lines. For that reason more than anything, this isn’t really worth picking up. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Multiple Man #1 (Marvel) An oddball of fun and chaotic humour, this is the kind of book that you can pick up and just have a laugh with from start to finish. Overall: 8,2 Recommendation: Buy
Man Of Steel #5 (DC)** – It’s always nice to see Adam Hughes do non-cheesecake art, but who are we kidding? Brian Michael Bendis’ script is dull and hopelessly padded. This thing is limping toward the finish line, and the “new era” of Superman looks very far from promising, indeed. Overall: 3. Recommendation: Pass
The Wicked + The Divine #37 (Image)** – I griped about last issue being lazy, but this one has it beat. A ten-page yearly “countdown clock” of all-black panels? Please. Jamie McKelvie makes up for it with a stunning battle sequence toward the end, but Kieron Gillen mailed in half his script for this issue, and that’s simply inexcusable. Nice cliffhanger, though, I’ll give him that. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass
Brothers Dracul #3 (Aftershock)** – Cullen Bunn joins the lazy brigade, as well, turning in a script that probably took all of 20 minutes to write, and takes less than five to read. Some stuff happens in terms of the story moving forward and that’s all well and good, and Mirko Colak’s art is stunning as always, but four bucks for this thing? Be serious. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass
The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine #3 (Titan)** – Last issue had a stunning cliffhanger, but Peter Milligan takes the easy way out to resolve it, which is a bummer — still, he comes close to earning complete forgiveness with the rest of the installment, which moves events along at a nice, smooth clip and he leaves us with a terrific cliffhanger that promises a hum-dinger of a finale is in store. Colin Lorimer’s art is, as we’ve become accustomed to/spoiled by, flat-out amazing. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Man of Steel #5 (DC) Adam Hughes doing interiors is a real treat beginning with the outer space beatdown between Rogol Zaar and Superman even if he has some issues with the current designs for the Justice League. Unfortunately, Rogol Zaar has proven to be the most generic of villains, like Darth Maul in Phantom Menace without all the mystique factor. Brian Michael Bendis’ writing is up and down in this one from fantastic moments featuring Jon Kent and a chance to get into Supergirl’s head to The Flash saying “caca poo poo” not once, but twice. Honestly, the Superman/Lois/Jon Kent sub-story could have been the main story, and Man of Steel would be a much more interesting miniseries. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Multiple Man #1 (Marvel) Matthew Rosenberg’s zippy scripting, Andy McDonald’s clean art, and Tamra Bonvillain’s murky, yet bright colors make a comic centered around clones, er, duplicates and time travel a breezy read. Jamie Madrox is back from the dead, but he’s also dying and will do anything in his power to stay alive, include punch Bishop in the face. Rosenberg and McDonald have a lot of fun with the classic X-Men tropes of death and time travel all culminating in a “Wtf” type battle sequence. Kudos to them for throwing readers straight into the action and not getting hung up on reintroductions and exposition. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read
Modern Fantasy #1 (Dark Horse)– Rafer Roberts and Kristen Gudsnuk combine three of my favorite genres (crime, fantasy, slice of life) into a pleasing package as data entry worker Sage yearns for some kind of great, epic quest to give her life meaning. Adventure does come her way, but in a very unexpected manner. But, before the plot really gets moving, Roberts and Gudsnuk dive head first into world building, romantic pairings, and of course, some drug use. Until the crime part kicks in, Modern Fantasy #1 has a really casual pace helped my the chill, comedic art style of Gudsnuk. The book reads like a slice of life fantasy webcomic you’d idly click through during breaks from work, but with a little more urgency. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Kill or Be Killed #20 (Image)** – The final issue of Brubaker, Phillips & Breitweiser’s ode to 70’s vigilante movies (and, apparently, Spider-Man stories). Although the art is gorgeous as ever, the story is something of a let-down, focusing on narrative tricks rather than really digging down to the core of its central theme. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Stray Bullets #36 (Image/El Capitan)** – Somehow David Lapham manages, nearly 1000 pages (!) into Sunshine and Roses, to introduce a great new character. Love Yourself is a samurai, a poet, a lover, a feeder of pigeons, a fighter of monsters – and, most importantly, a fighter of Monster. Where this is all going, I have no idea – the wheel just keeps turning and all of the pieces keep moving, the plot doesn’t thicken, it just keeps swirling and swirling and I like it just fine that way. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Blackwood #2 (Dark Horse)** – Evan Dorkin and Veronica and Andy Fish continue their trot through the Magic School genre. Gotta say, if it wasn’t Evan Dorkin I would never have bothered, and even though it is Evan Dorkin – you can tell in the sharp dialogue and the fun details (two-headed monkey!), the story is pretty paint-by-numbers. Okay if you’re into this genre, but I’m not, so I’m dropping out. Overall: 7 Recommendation: skip
Sex Criminals #25 (Image)** – Well, here we are at the last issue of what Fraction says is the next-to-final arc, and now that Suzie’s house has burned down… what? What is happening? Is nothing happening? Some sort of plot or “plot”? As usual for me, the most intriguing and interesting stuff is happening off the page while Fraction and Zdarsky contnue to insist on the dull mechanical grind of their “story”. What’s maddening is how great even those few panels or pages are where it’s just about how these humans are figuring out their humanity in relation to the other humans figuring out their humanity. That’s what keeps me here. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer #1 (Titan/Hard Case) – I’m a bit of a sucker for Hammer and will always fall for a Robert McGinnis cover. It’s based on an unproduced script by Spillane, adapted for comics by noir expert Max Allan Collins. So this should have been a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty lackluster effort. Artists Marcelo Salaza and Marcio Freire serve up a world that is too delicately-painted for Spillane’s postwar New York, a Hammer that’s too pretty, dolls that are too plastic and fragile. The danger of Hammer walking into that bar isn’t palpable, nobody seems to sweat or stink, and Collins’ narrative captions need to tell us a lot because we’re not being shown enough. Do yourselves a favour and go read Max de Radigues & Wauter Mannaert’s excellent Weegee instead. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip.
Old Man Hawkeye #6 (Marvel) Clinton and his old partner catch up with each other but not on the best of times. As the Army of Venoms are banging on the doors of Kate’s fortress. Clint and Kate lead time away into a trap, which decimates the Venoms. By issue’s end, an old friend is resurrected and Bullseye is still hot on Clint’s trail.
Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy
Amazing Spider-Man: Wakanda Forever #1 (Marvel) I was hoping for this book to be as cool a team up as it sounds, but sadly it stumbles out of the gate. Hopefully, the next book in this series will make up for it. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Lando: Double Or Nothing #2 (Marvel) I will keep this one sweet and short, if you enjoy Donald Glover’s portrayal of Lando, you will like this book but if you prefer yours Billy Dee Williams, stay clear, as it’s full of quips that are not quite the Colt 45 man.
Overall: 9 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 (**).