Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/28
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.
A Walk Through Hell #3 (Aftershock)** At first I couldn’t make sense out of this comic. Now it doesn’t make sense — in a way that makes sense. If THAT makes any sense. Hell, I don’t know. I only know that it’s getting SERIOUSLY dark and creepy and that the art is really nice and that I can’t wait to see where it all goes — whether it makes sense or not. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Brothers Dracul #4 (Aftershock)** Generally speaking, I’m still enjoying Cullen Bunn and Mirko Colak’s slightly revisionist take on the Dracula mythos, but I have to admit that’s mostly down to the lush, gorgeous art. The story is pretty slight and while it has some definite plot momentum, not a great deal actually happens in most issues, this one included. Worth ogling over for the pretty pictures, though, that’s for sure. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read. Or, more specifically, look at it.
Bone Parish #1 (Boom! Studios)** Speaking of Cullen Bunn, he’s back with yet another Boom!-published horror mini-series, and this one is off to a great start : New Orleans crime family that manufactures a hallucinogenic drug from the bones of the dead finds itself fighting to survive against the mob’s “offers that can’t be refused”? I like it. And I REALLY like Jonas Scharf’s moody, atmospheric as all HELL art. Get on board with this one now! Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Royal City #13 (Image)** – Two issues in two weeks? Well, despite my reservations about the last one, at least this instalment is really good. With just a chapter left to go, Jeff Lemire is bringing every individual character’s “arc” to a head, and while the family may be on the cusp of yet another huge tragedy, the possibility of a happy ending for everyone is also dangling out there. I’m feeling a lot better about this title than I was just seven short days ago and the art, as always, is really nice. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Action Comics 1001 (DC)- Brian Michael Bendis gets back to his street level roots and finally does something with the whole arson subplot and shows how “regular” criminals operate operate in Metropolis. He also has a lot of fun with the cross talk and backstabbing in the Daily Planet centered around the missing Lois Lane all leading into an actually pretty shocking cliffhanger. While this is all going on, Patrick Gleason continues to show why he is one of the greatest modern Superman artists creating moral certainty in every panel that he shows up beginning with a double page spread of him dodging bullets. But with the help of colorist Alejandro Sanchez, he can do shady and noir as well as bright and hopeful. It looks like Superman is gonna be the broad strokes, big action book while Action Comics is its sharper, more secretive cousin. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Mr. and Mrs. X #1 (Marvel)– Kelly Thompson and Oscar Bazaldua go through a full gamut of tones from emotional to sexy then action packed and just plain weird in their Rogue/Gambit team up book, Mr. and Mrs. X #1. Bazaldua is one of Marvel’s new star artists with his cute, sweet, and highly expressive art that definitely works for a book centered around romance. He’s no slouch in the action department either with colorist Frank D’Armata, who brings the red explosions when, of course, Rogue and Gambit’s honey moon turns into a mission. Thompson’s script is mainly flirting in snark, but she hits a strong emotional beat when Rogue and Mystique have a heart to heart giving them a strong mother/daughter dynamic although Mystique has to watch the wedding from afar. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
Punks Not Dead #6 (IDW/Black Crown) The first arc of David Barnett and Martin Simmond’s Sid Vicious co-starring occult conspiracy draws to the close with Simmonds doing all kinds of trippy, Grant Morrison-friendly layouts as our protagonist Fergie and Sid go on the run from basically everyone. Fergie’s mom Julie also plays an active role in this issue providing crucial info about his background and even fighting off some creepy crow cops with a golf club. As a series and even with its lipservice to young love and dysfunctional families, Punks Not Dead is more style than substance and relies heavily on Simmonds’ Vertigo painted book meets total anarchy art style. But with the whole running away from home and possible demon spawn angle, Barnett has finally found an interesting plot to go with the ghostly banter and cool visuals. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read
The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (Marvel) – Spencer and Ottley have brought a lot of fun to a series and character that welcome it. As a massive Spidey fan, after two books I am satisfied and on board. Seeing Peter and Mary Jane back together is awesome, and they better not mess with it again (please!). Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Infinity Wars Prime #1 (Marvel) – This was a solid start to Marvel’s big event, but seeing them spoil it just days later doesn’t sit with me very well. I am never one for self hype by a company, and that’s what their social media post did. For the comic itself, Deodato is a great artist and Dugan is a great writer. There’s some fun setup and a “whoa” moment at the end, I just wish Marvel didn’t fully spoil it, but I guess their hope is everyone rushes to read it. Also $4.99 for this and next weeks #1 is a trend that is getting a little old. Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Buy
Justice League Dark #1 (DC) – James Tynion IV is a great writer, and his run on Detecitve Comics was fantastic. This book seems like it will get the same awesome treatment where he can take some underrated or underused DC characters and bring them to the front. He did it with Azrael, Spoiler, Clayface and more in Detective, and now he plans to do it with Detective Chimp and Man-Bat among others. Awesome debut. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Action Comics #1001 (DC) – It’s so far so good for me for Bendis on Supes. I was actually surprised by this issue, and how well it flowed, and how well they captured Superman and what he means. We get a new big bad, some setup for the future, and some old school Superman interacting with kids and everyday citizens. It felt great, and I’m on board, especially with Gleason’s art. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Proxima Centauri #2 (Image) – Farel Dalrymple keeps on rocking this 6-part series. The plot is quite beside the point here, just like I like it these days, so that I can just immerse myself in this jittery, scratchy world where everyone is basically just trying to be cool while they go about their business of questing and killing. My high school self appreciates that in this world they’re still playing the circle game, and that it comes in handy at saving lives from time to time. This is really lovely comics. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Mage: The Hero Denied #10 (Image) – Sometimes I wonder if Matt Wagner reads his own previous issues. Like, when we last saw Hugo, wasn’t he chowing down on forbidden fairy cakes? I guess we’ll have to wait to see if this has any consequence. Maybe it’s a symptom of the general problem of the series, which is that none of the characters really have a lot of agency. They’re all pretty passive and reactive, Kevin more so than the others. So, in a series that’s conventionally plot-driven, it makes for a very thin plot with very little action or intrigue. And there isn’t enough going on in terms of style, poetry, and personality to make up for these flaws. It has neither breadth nor depth; it’s not warm enough or cool enough; and the plot isn’t thickening at all. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Skip
Dry Country #5 (Image) – Rich Tommasso wraps up his 5-parter in a way that’s a bit of a downer. I guess the impulse was to subvert the usual film noir tropes in terms of Lou Rossi’s investigation into his missing sort-of girlfriend Janet, but it just turned out very anticlimactic and kind of a copout. I still like Lou, and I’m glad to have discovered Tommasso, and I’d buy another Lou Rossi adventure, even if I turned out not liking the final issue as much as I liked the previous ones. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest (Top Shelf/Knockabout) – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill begin the end by picking up where Century: 2009 left off, with Mina and Orlando bringing Emma Night to rejuvenate in Ayesha’s pool in Kor. Then a lot of stuff happens — and I mean a LOT. As expert as Alan Moore is with all of the various forms of comics, and the languages of adventure fiction, I think that his plotting ability is underrated. Indeed, when he just lets himself off the leash of tongue-in-cheek formal references, his stuff can be like several runaway trains all hurtling off the rails towards an apocalyptic collision. That said, for my money, the black-and-white daily newspaper James Bond strip is the unquestioned highlight of the book, paying off not only the radical idea of the “J-Series” Bond clones (all looking like certain movie actors, including a nebbishy reservist), but the horrific potential of the James Bond character himself. I feel like this book, coming out as it is during the Brexit fiasco and the resurgence of fascism in the UK, is less of a swan song for the fictions of the British Empire and more of a death knell. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Action Comics #1001 (DC)** Thus starts off the next 1,000 issues of DCs longest running title. I must say it is so nice to have Bendis at the helm for this one. He has a great handle on the street level aspect of Clark Kent that few writers get and keeps that classic Superman charm. When fire chief Melody Moore says to Superman “I thought fires were beneath you” and Supes replies. Metropolis is my home, I live here too. THAT is Superman. No danger too big or too small. Take notes people. Superman is the most simplistic hero to write and when it is done correctly it is almost elegant. This is how it can be done. Having Patrick Gleason on pencils is a great touch as he captures the magnitude of the action as well as the quieter beats in the book. I also like the skepticism of some of the Planet staff as to Clark and Lois. I mean c’mon they don’t know he’s S Superman so why wouldn’t it seem odd to them. Also the setup for the bigger mystery has me intrigued. All in all a fantastic first outing. Words, pictures, colors were all top notch. Keep me on for more truth, justice and this way. Bring on the next ish. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
X-Men: Wakanda Forever #1 (Marvel) In this continuing story, this second chapter proves to be where the action catches steam. We get a full back story on Nakia, definitely a different look than the movie and this time somewhere scarier than her previous incarnations within comics. We also get a battle in the middle of modern day Brooklyn, where the creative team pulls from the current makeup of the borough. Lastly, the fact they have changed the duties of the Dora Milaje may be this book’s boldest move, as Black Panther without them, makes him like every other superhero. Overall: 9
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 (**).