Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/19
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.
Euthanauts #5 (IDW/Black Crown) – The first arc of Tini Howard and Nick Robles’ series on death and the afterlife has ended and I hope it isn’t the last. With Circe dead, our intrepid heroes struggle to find the answers to why. With a final broadcast from Mercy, the issue takes us through an exhilarating ride though Deathspace to tie up loose ends while also setting up for potential later issues. By the time I was finished with the issue, I immediately went and preordered the trade because I am not ready for this series to end. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Die #2 (Image) – Since I never got into D&D, I never expected to be so into a comic that plays so heavily with the lore. But Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans pulled it off that I’m am completely engrossed in the comic and mad about it. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Captain Marvel #1 (Marvel) – New Year, New Movie, so that means New Comic for Carol Danvers. Which, as it turns out, is super fun! The comic features Carol Danvers returning to the Avengers full time after nearly two years in space and time away to take care of her brother in The Life of Captain Marvel. Most of the issue shows Carol adjusting to life back in New York and juggling a million different balls. Suddenly, the issue takes a turn and leaves a hell of a hook for future issues. Kelly Thompson’s writing is quick witted and sassy, making her the perfect successor to Deconnick and Stohl, and Carmen Carnero and Tamra Bonvillain are probably the best art team for Carol since Kris Anka and Matt Wilson. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
The Wicked + The Divine #41 (Image) – So much of everything since issue #5 has been building up to this issue. With as much shocks and heartbreaks the series has had over the years, having an issue that has this much payoff is practically euphoric. Along with being masterfully written by Gillen per usual, McKelvie’s art plays the emotions of the scenes with such subtlety and grace. There were panels in this issue that made me tear up with facial expressions alone. Overall, this was one of the most satisfying issues of WicDiv so far. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Days Of Hate #12 (Image)** – Ales Kot and Danijel Zezelj close out their year-long series with another installment that continues the downward trajectory this thing has been on from issue two onwards. More an epilogue than a conclusion, Kot here uses some admittedly effective emotional “beats” to less-than-cleverly disguise that he hasn’t actually wrapped up a damn thing. Gorgeous art from Zezelj, as always, but this entire series was a complete waste of time and money. Overall: 2 Recommendation: PassR
Gideon Falls #10 (Image)** – Moving in exactly the opposite direction, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino continue the upward trajectory that they’ve been on from issue two onwards with their most visually and conceptually stunning issue yet, one which sees the two competing plotlines finally converge in a very literal, and memorable, sense. This is a book that just keeps on getting more coherent and more confident month after month. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Evolution #13 (Image/Skybound)** – The second-best horror series at Image begins its final arc with a pretty breakneck piece of convergence/dovetailing of its own as the threat, and the action, begins to center firmly in the Los Angeles area. Joe Infurnari’s Eurocomics-style art continues to be absolutely breathtaking, and the small army of writers — James Asmus, Christopher Sebela, and Jospeh Keatinge — produce yet another script that feels so seamless it could fool you into thinking it was written by one person. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Deadly Class #36 (Image/Giant Generator) **– Rick Remender and Wes Craig revive their series after a long hiatus on the very same day the TV show premieres (just a coincidence, I’m sure) with a very “new-reader-friendly” issue that sees Marcus struggle with his internal demons and plot a bold course forward. Lots here for veterans and newbies alike to enjoy, and the art in this book has seriously never been better. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Star Wars Age Of Republic Special #1(Marvel)-In a trio of short stories, we find some popular side characters take the forefront. In one tale, we find Mace Windu taken but it is his first lesson as a Padawan which enables him to best captors. In the second tale, Asajj Ventress empathy for a pair of street kids leases to her to act as the hero for once. In the last take, we find Rex and Jar Jar, outgunned but not outsmarted. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy
Conan The Barbarian #2(Marvel)- In what can be best explained as Conan’s ” Dances with Wolves” experience, we find the Cimirrian becoming part of a tribe he once swore was his enemy. We find Conan prisoned by this warring tribe and eventually becoming one of them. As a final battle against a greater evil, proves he can change.Aaron’s storytelling in this series is masterful as he is at his best in this story. Overall: 9 Recommendation: 9.5
Conan the Barbarian #2 (Marvel) The second issue of Marvel’s Conan improves upon the first by including a more nuanced looked at the Picts, a culture Howard used as an analog for the stereotypical version of native Americans found in most westerns. Conan must help them to defeat the ghost snakes. In the end je must choose between living with them as an equal or returning to the Aquilonian frontier where he is considered only marginally more civilized. One of the things I find interesting about Conan is that while he does enjoy some degree of privilege within his society he is still a member of a marginalized. It was good to see Aaron play with this dichotomy as it added a lot of depth to what otherwise could have been a shallow story. It was also nice to read an issue that largely stands on its own. This is another good introduction to the character for those who may have missed the debut. Asrar’s art is as on point as ever. If the creators can maintain this level of quality this will be one of the best books of the year. Rating: 9 Recommendation: Buy.
Goddess Mode #2 (DC/Vertigo) My opinion is still divided on this series. While issue two adds some much needed exposition as Cassandra learns who the Tall Poppies are and what it means to be an Oracle, the story still seems to stutter in places. It feels like Zoe Quinn and Robbi Rodriguez are playing a riff on Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. Quinn and Rodriguez may have the talent but lacking the experience the product of their effort is missing the polish I expect from Vertigo. Still there is still a lot of potential for an interesting story about how virtual worlds and coping with trauma sometimes move hand in hand. It’s a difficult book to read but it may well be worth it in the long run. Only time will tell. Rating: 6. Recommendation: Skip
House of Whispers #5 (DC/Vertigo) Too much happens in this issue for a summary to do it justice. Suffice to say Nalo Hopinkson brings the threads she’s been weaving since Sandman Universe #1 together and the glimpse we get of the tapestry being created is magnificent. If you’ve been reading The Dreaming but avoiding this title, go out and get caught up; House of Whispers is proving to be just as essential and just as good. I do hope that Dan Watters writing credit is there because Hopkinson need assistance turning out the extra-large installment; hers is a powerful and unique voice that comics need more of. DOMO Stanton’s art remains superb. Rating: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Superman #7 (DC) Brian Bendis’ run on Superman has been a mixed bag. While he does a really good job of teasing revelations that make you want to read the next issue, the impact of those revelations never quite lives up to the expectation you build upin your head. This is a good case in point as we learn a bit of what Jon Kent has been up to in the seven years he’s been exploring outer space with Jor El. And it turns out to have been kind of boring. There are times when Bendis’ decompressed style works wonders but this is not one of them. He’s had over a year’s worth of issues between this and Action and very little to show for it. The sight of Lois Lane wearing the super-suit might almost be worth it if not for her milk toast demeanor and the fact that the pages drawn by fill in artist Brandon Peterson, while competent, are not up to the standard we’ve come to expect from Ivan Reis. This book is a regrettable waste of talent. I expect more from everyone involved. Rating: 6. Recommendation: Skip.
Goddess Mode #2 (Vertigo) Bookended by frenzied, colorful action from artists Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi, Goddess Mode #2 digs into the personalities of the “Tall Poppies” aka the witch, cyberpunk oracle things that rescued the protagonist Cassandra in the first issue. Zoe Quinn and Rodriguez use things like a group chat cut between scenes of the Tall Poppies doing their favorite activities to give insight into them while frantically trying to exposit the nature of their world. Goddess Mode has a very fever dream quality to it, but at least, we now (sort of) have a cast of characters to follow and latch onto in their epic, magical battles. It’s a strong book on the visual side, but there is room to improve. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read
Invaders #1 (Marvel) Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno, and wonderful WWII flashback artist Butch Guice focus on Namor in the first issue of the new Invaders series. Guice’s work is visceral and heartbreaking in the opening sequence where for all his great powers, Namor is unable to save his soldier friend, Tommy, from the Nazis in World War 2. This continues to the present day where Namor has been behaving erratically and is planning a giant invasion of the surface world. Instead of just forcing a team-up, Zdarsky and Magno add psychological depth to the relationships between Captain America, Bucky, Namor, and Jim Hammond along with an air of mystery to the time between the Golden and Silver Age of Comics when Namor was an amnesiac. Moral ambiguity in war is the through-line of this book as Cap goes against Tony and the Avengers to talk and empathize with Namor instead of punching him. I’m really excited to see what Zdarsky does with Namor’s character as he is more than just a villain and has unique connections to all corners of the Marvel Universe from the Golden Age era heroes and even the X-Men. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy
Black Widow #1 (Marvel) So, Black Widow’s current status quo is that she is cloned from the one killed by HYDRA Cap, who was the really Captain America, or maybe not. Yeah, it’s a little complicated, but except for the first scene, none of that matters in Black Widow #1 by horror film directors the Soska Sisters and artist Flaviano, who brings the cartooning and can lay out an action scene. Basically, because she’s “dead”, Natasha has gone no holds barred and leaves her buddies in the Avengers, including Cap, to fight and potential kill some messed up criminals in Madripoor while rocking an eye patch like Wolverine in his Patch days. Having Natasha almost completely give into her bloodthirsty instincts is a compelling moral narrative, and the Soskas give her plenty of snarky, deadpan one-liners and roast Secret Empire while paying homage to the Russos’ action filmmaking in Captain America: Winter Soldier. She still has spy skills, but this story takes a turn into becoming a psychological thriller towards the end. It’s nice to see creators from other mediums do something different with Black Widow and explore in dark side in a more fun way that dreary grim darkness. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
Invaders #1 (Marvel) What a great first issue, and a pleasant surprise from Zdarsky and Magno. I love Zdarsky as a writer, but usually he shines in the comedic styles his books are usually shown in, but as he had shown in moments of Marvel 2 In 1, he can get serious, and this book was very serious. I am a big Namor fan, and I bought all of the dialogue and all of the big moments between Cap, Namor, Bucky, the original Human Torch, and the soldiers. This is really a war book, and it was awesome. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Fantastic Four #6 (Marvel) I am a big Aaron Kuder fan, and I am so happy he is on this book. He drew Mr. Fantastic and company so well, and I already love his version of Doom. Speaking of Doom, Dan Slott gives us classic campy mega bad Dr. Doom and I couldn’t be happier. The dialogue from his evil metal masked mouth just drips with that classic Marvel Lee/Kirby charm. This book has been solid, but this issue took it to the next level. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Uncanny X-Men #10 (Marvel) – The book is overpriced, released too frequently, and the $8 #1 and #11 issues are silly, as is the annual coming next week after 10 weeks of the book being out. That being said, Rosenberg, Brisson, and Thompson have done a solid job so far, and I enjoyed Perez’s art. Now while I have liked this so far, we are in the Age of X-Man officially, so it could get good or bad from here. I will say the final panels of the book have me hyped! Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
The Batman Who Laughs #2 (DC) – Scott Snyder and Jock on Batman are fantastic, and this is no different. I will say he really likes to punish Bats and the DC heroes (Metal anyone?), and you can tell he REALLY loves The Batman Who Laughs, and making it seem like the bad guys win a lot. Jock on art is of course fantastic on this book, and Snyder does a great job of only teasing The Grim Knight as the issues go on. This is shaping up to be a classic tale, and I have high hopes. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Detective Comics #996 (DC) – This was another great Bat-book this week. With only three issues in, Mankhe and Tomasi are doing such a great job on this story. I cannot wait to see where we are with The Arkham Knight and everything else that has happened by issue #1000 which isn’t far away. I highly recommend you jump on this series now, as it’s just going to get better. Overall: 8.5 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 (**).