Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/18

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman #86 (DC) It is always darkest before the dawn. After the up and down fest that was Tom King’s historic Batman run we get a much welcomed change of pace here. James Tynion IV does not waste any time getting Bruce into costume again. This is a good thing because Tony Daniel draws such a great Batman. I am loving the Bruce and Lucius dynamic ala The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight rises movies. Bruce is still very much touched by his grief over losing Alfred and is not on all cylinders yet (something I can very much relate to having lost my father last year) I like how Deathstroke knows this and chooses to strike when Bruce is off his game. In addition to drawing an awesome Batman, Daniel draws one hell of a Slade and I always enjoy these two at each other more and more. Seeing the other side characters was cool but just fodder. We get new bat vehicle and gadgets and lots of cool toys this issue and Lucius is very much the Q to Bruce’s James and I want much more of it. So only a first outting but Tynion studied under the tutelage of Scott Snyder and if he keeps this up we are in good hands for short term. For the love of God though, no more fucking BANE. Let that character languish for a long while. I’d like to see what Slades bigger plan is. We all know he has one.
Score: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy 

Logan

 Excalibur #5 (Marvel)– Excalibur #5 is an up and down comic for me. I love how Tini Howard writes Rogue so powerfully and Southern and Marcus To’s clean linework when she is trapped in Otherworld. However, the majority of the comic is a mess of explosions, crystals, magic, and Apocalypse being more of an overt villain. There is definitely something primal cooking in Howard’s overarching story, but at this point, I don’t know if I’m interested in as she and To switch characters perspectives and juggle plots each issue. Basically, Excalibur #5 has some entertaining moments (And it’s nice to see Rogue play an active role in the proceedings.), but doesn’t work together as a coherent unit of story. Overall: 5.8 Verdict: Pass

New Mutants #5 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis are back with the “old school” New Mutants in space on a mission that’s, well, complicated by Shi’ar politics. This issue balances space and superpowered action with humor, characterization, and a dash of political intrigue. Hickman gives each New Mutant something to do whether it’s Chamber and Mondo sharing a toast to pacifism while their teammates fight the shit out of some Shi’ar Death Commandos, or Magik showing off her leadership (and flirting) skills with the Death Commando boarding party. Reis has been my favorite artist on the Dawn of X books, and he’s back with more expressive faces, lush colors, and Heavy Metal-inspired spaceships and stations meets Bob McLeod’s classic character designs. He’s also an economic storyteller. For example, one panel with a flatline tells more about Magik’s ruthless and combat abilities than five pages of protracted action. I didn’t mind the Ed Brisson/check with some underutilized mutants from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men interlude, but New Mutants #5 returns this book to elite status. A must read for anyone who likes their mutants in space and flirtatious. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

 X-Force #5 (Marvel)– Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara’s X-Force #5 brings the gory and gruesome black ops action while also considering of the implications of these battles on the team and their antagonists. With Wolverine mostly out of commission, Domino takes center stage in the fight against Xeno, the organization that blew up a Krakoa gate and assassinated Charles Xavier. Percy and Cassara drive home the effects of the torture Xeno unleashed on her, and she returns it on kind. Percy also takes a moment to humanize a member of the team they’re fighting against, but not too much as he pivots to Beast undermining the utopian world of Krakoa through very human things like mental and physical torture and off the books operatives. X-Force is a book about the secret sins that nations commit to preserve themselves and shows this through words as well as sometimes revolting, sometimes stylish action. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

 Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 (Titan)– The numbering is weird, but Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 presents some absolutely bonkers Tank Girl, Jet Girl, and Sub Girl stories from the early 1990s by creators Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett with some stories drawn by artists Glyn Dillon and Philip Bond. Hewlett’s character design is fantastic, but he’s a great storyteller too as evidenced in the first story where he homages different film genres when Tank Girl and Booga take on every bounty hunter in Australia. His panels are crammed full of fun litle details and background jokes while Martin’s dialogue is easygoing and filled to the brim with double entendres. One thing I liked about this comic is that it also focused on Tank Girl’s supporting cast like a story where her kangaroo boyfriend Booga’s dad is a yeti, or a MAD-meets-Behind the Music parody of Morrissey and The Smiths that Sub Girl narrates. (Dillon draws a hilarious Morrissey Fat Elvis caricature.) Along with the original strips, this comic is packed full with photos of the creators and pinups from Hewlett, Bond, and Dillon and provides a window into the creativity of British comics and Deadline in the early 1990s. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

SFSX #5 (Image)– Jen Hickman joins SFSX as both artist and colorist, and they and Tina Horn tell an exciting heist story as Avory and her crew of sex workers from Dirty Mind try to break out her husband George from the Party’s reeducation camp. This comic is a bullet in the head of purity culture as Horn and Hickman systematically dismantle kink shaming. (Chasten Buttigieg would be appalled ;) ) Hickman’s character acting is amazing, and they add some clever touches like having characters’ knowledge of rope bondage and harnesses get them through vents and air ducts like some kind of BDSM John McClane. Add one incredibly (and actually) monstrous bad guy that has an emotional connection to the main characters, and SFSX #5 is another great chapter in this series. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Steeple #5 (Dark Horse)– Billie finds her inner darkness in the conclusion of John Allison and Sarah Stern’s miniseries. Allison sets the tone hilariously by Billie finding Satan a bit buff and attractive and hanging up a John Wick poster in the rectory. This issue is compelling because it’s centered around the relationship between Billie and Maggie as they basically swap places/religions. A heart to heart at a coffee shop reveals that Maggie is a good person with a sensitive conscience who joined the Church of Satan so that she could forget about her activism and thirst for justice through hedonism. And Billie just wants to be “bad”. Allison goes the ending with a big character change route while leaving the door ajar for more stories in the Steeple world. His art continues to be a delightful treat as he makes possessed vacuum cleaners and the extinction of the water vole hilarious. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Shean

Rising Sun#1 (IDW)– In a feudal tale of Ninjas fighting monsters, we get this comic book serialization of the popular video game, as someone who has never played the game, I felt lost for a good part of the issue, something that should never happen to any comic book reader. Hopefully, a second issue will do more to give more back story. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Borrow

Black Widow Prelude #1 (Marvel)– An adequate primer, nothing more, nothing less. Overall: 6.7 Recommendation: Borrow


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 (**).