Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/29
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.
Finger Guns #1 (Vault)– Justin Richards’ and Val Halvorson’s Finger Guns #1 is the first chapter of a high concept, YA comic about a boy and a girl who have the power to alter the emotional state of people around them through, er, finger guns. The book is peppered with silent panels and almost non-verbal until Sadie and Wes interact and relies Halvorson’s highly gestural art to show Wes’ lonely, day to day existence. Finger Guns understands that metaphor that being a kid is like being in a MMO, but on a lower level, and what if you found a way to level up quickly? This comic focuses on the sweet, sad side of being a teenager, but funny shenanigans do happen along the way. Finger Guns isn’t a runaway hit, but it has a fun core concept, a couple compelling leads, and is well constructed visually. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read
Amethyst #1 (DC/Wonder Comics)**- Amy Reeder writes, draws, and colors this excellent revival of Amethyst of Gemworld where Amy returns to her realm for a big birthday party, but no one is to be found. So, she embarks on an epic quest through Gemworld to find her missing parents/subjects with an air of mystery and tension happening throughout the comic. Reeder’s visuals are a true treat as she plays with panel shapes and uses a candy coated, 80s Saturday morning cartoon palette. Her figures are highly emotive, especially Amethyst, who is the perfect combo of idealism and sadness. Amethyst #1 is a pastel, fantasy comic that somehow takes place in the DCU and is a wonderful showcase for Amy Reeder’s considerable talents. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy
Fantastic Four: Grimm Noir #1 (Marvel)– Grimm Noir #1 is a one-shot from Gerry Duggan, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla where the Thing puts away the family bickering and cosmic threats for more of an internal struggle. Also, there’s rain, trench coats, a lovely chanteuse, and wonderful blue-meets-chiaroscuro lighting from Milla. Duggan doesn’t really provide much plot or mystery, but gives just enough frame for Garney’s composition as Ben Grimm almost literally crumbles to rocks as he deals with the nightmare being D’Spayre, who is the bad guy metaphor for his feelings of loneliness, otherness, and generally waiting for the other shoe to drop with him and his wife Alicia Masters. Duggan and Garney make Grimm Noir a true monster comic with many panels of body horror imagery like Thing’s eyeballs rolling around with rocks as he enters D’Spayre’s realm. It’s both a strong character study of one of my favorite Marvel characters and a good visual change of pace from Ron Garney and Matt Milla. Although, I wish some of the images had more of a storytelling function beyond “This looks cool.” and “Yay symbolism.” Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy
Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1 (Marvel)– Giant Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1 is an homage to famous “silent” issue of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men where Jean Grey and Emma Frost go into Professor X’s brain and find an important secret. Jonathan Hickman lays down a big reveal featuring the heart of the X-Men, Storm and then leaves it up to the imaginative visuals of Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson to tell the story. Wilson’s colors truly enhance the story using more intense colors every time telekinesis is used and being flatter every time Dauterman does a big, widescreen shot to establish setting or conflict. Speaking of conflict, Hickman and Dauterman do a visually memorable job of depicting the “guardians” of Storm’s mind before getting more body horror, and well, Krakoa-y as they get deeper into her psyche. Giant Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost is a great reminder of the way clear, interesting, and character focused visuals can tell a comics story, and the superhero comics can have an interiority to them and not just be a series of external fights. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy
New Mutants #8 (Marvel)– I might have to start skipping the Ed Brisson written issues of New Mutants after yet another stereotyped-filled stinker. However, I love how straight he plays Nova Aquilla with Boom Boom, Armor, and of course, Magma interacting with toga wearing Romans in the middle of the Brazilian rain forest. What follows is a cool powers-featuring action sequence with more Sebastian Shaw wheels spinning and even more cartel stereotypes. It’s not as bad as the previous issues in Nebraska because Shaw would definitely do the imperialist thing with the cartels, but the fictional Latin America country and one-dimensional focus on drugs and assault weapons is straight out of a Chuck Dixon comic from the 90s. On the art side, Marco Failla does have a great energy to his art and definitely nails the effect of Boom Boom and Armor blowing off steam against a (For now.) one-dimensional monstrous enemy while rescuing mutant refugees. Overall: 5.6 Verdict: Pass
X-Force #8 (Marvel)– Benjamin Percy and Bazaldua resolve the Domino flesh factory storyline and escalate Xeno’s threat. There’s also a big fight scene on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and Colossus and Domino bond over shared trauma and pain even though they live in what is technically a utopia. When they leap into combat against Xeno’s “Dominos”, it’s an exorcism, not a mandated fight scene with Colossus tenderizing punches and Domino’s more graceful moves making up for the guilt she feels in the infiltration of Krakoa and the assassination of Professor X. Bazaldua’s art is truly in motion in X-Force #8 as he cuts up panels to provide context for fight scenes and adds little, interesting touches like Sage holding a four leaf clover while she discusses Domino’s luck abilities with her. The plot of X-Force #8 is all about ramping up an external threat, but the chemistry between Domino and Colossus, both in action and conversation, is why I enjoyed this book. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
X-Men/Fantastic Four #2 (Marvel)– X-Men/Fantastic Four #2 definitely has middle of chapter crossover vibes from Chip Zdarsky, the Dodsons, Laura Martin, and some other inkers they got to make the deadline.The introduction of Dr. Doom is a nice touch and a call back to the original X-Men/FF miniseries as he only wants Franklin Richards to reach his true potential. (Or does he?) Also, there’s a great stealth sequence featuring the Invisible Woman infiltrating the Quiet Council that makes this table setting chapter almost worth it before transitioning to generic superhero action. There’s all kinds of cross purposes motivations going on from the FF’s desire just to bring Franklin home to the X-Men trying to protect Krakoa and Dr. Doom’s more complex goal. Zdarsky seems to be having a lot of fun writing him as a chess player instead of an arrogant baddie, and the battle of wits between strategists like him, Reed Richards, Cyclops, and adding the personal element make this crossover worth following in the long run. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read
X-Men #7 (Marvel)– X-Men #7 is Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Yu, and Sunny Gho’s ode to religious ritual: Krakoa style and also deals with the questions of Scarlet Witch, House of M, and if de-powered mutants can live in Krakoa. They frame it as a conversation between Cyclops and Nightcrawler, one of the most religiously devout X-Men, as well as a trial of combat called the Crucible between Apocalypse and Melody Guthrie, one of Cannonball’s siblings, who was depowered back on M-Day. As the fight rages on and violent ritual of death and rebirth ensues, Kurt wonders if the afterlife matters in a world where one can be resurrected and live on Krakoa indefinitely. He and Scott also talk about the idea of the best self and the choice of which version of “you” comes back after the resurrection protocols. Honestly, Cyclops is just happy to be happy for once after the past eight years or so of shit he’s been through in the comics and demonstrates real, blind faith even though that’s usually Nightcrawler’s role. X-Men #7 again shows that my favorite issues of the series are the ones where Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Yu delve into the ideological underpinnings of Krakoa and the new mutant nation with this issue acting as the religion to X-Men #4’s politics. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: 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 (**).