Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 11/7
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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.
These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #4 (DC/Black Label)– G. Willow Wilson and Nick Robles turn in a strong middle chapter and undercut moments of triumph and insight with horror and literal nightmares. The references to the original Sandman are free flowing in this one as the version of Shakespeare that put on a play for Dream shows up, and The World’s End plays a key role in the plot. However, Wilson and Robles continue to put their own spin on the narrative with our protagonist Lindy and Shakespeare navigating parenthood, and Ruin realizing he’ll miss the mortal world very much. Mat Lopes’ colors are gorgeous when he illustrates the boundaries between the Dreaming and waking world, but they are soon replaced by sheer horror as Ruin and Lindy realizes that returning to the Dreaming and waking world aren’t as easy at it seemed. Overall: 8.1 Verdict: Buy
Crossover #1 (Image)– Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s premise of a superhero comic crossover breaking out in the real world is pretty fun. But what’s not so fun is their portrayal of comic book fans as oppressed minorities. However, even this might be tongue cheek with Crossover’s mask and cape wearing protagonist Ellie snarking at the gatekeepers and their ironic Frederic Wertham tees at the local sanctuary/comic book store. Shaw’s storytelling is smooth, and Dee Cunniffe’s colors seamlessly transition from the comic book world to the real world. Cates definitely seems to be making his big statement about superhero comics, and for now, it seems like he’s embracing them all: the good, the bad, and the Extreme studios. For better or worse, he’s a hyperactive fanboy with an audience of 100,000+, but at least, he’s creating his own characters and worlds instead of being a corporate IP parasite like Geoff Johns. He definitely comes across as a less edgelord-y and more centrist Mark Millar in Crossover #1 down to this book really being a showcase for the immense art talents of Geoff Shaw getting to cut loose with blockbuster action and intense conversations. Overall: 6.9 (Nice) Verdict: Read
X-Men #14 (Marvel)– No sword fighting yet, just more back story for Apocalypse, his ex-wife Genesis, Arakko, and the Summoners of Amenth, who are on the prowl. Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar, and Leinil Yu are laser focused on giving more information on the X-Men’s foes and the potential consequences to Apocalypse if he loses his battle with a big ass sword. But the information could have easily been shown in some kind of handbook instead of breaking X of Swords’ narrative flow. I really hope the book regains momentum as it’s shifted from being about to mutants to Arraki even though Krakoa and the life Apocalypse has made for himself is mentioned a lot. Overall: 5.9 Verdict: Pass
Marauders #14 (Marvel)– This issue is slightly more exciting than X-Men and has a quirky side with Gerry Duggan, Benjamin Percy, and Stefano Casselli showing a formal dinner party featuring Opal Saturnyne and the sword bearers of Krakoa and Arakko plus some Otherworld leaders like Mad Jim Jaspers. Many jokes are made at Pogg-Ur-Pogg’s expense, and the scenes where Magik and Gorgon size up their opponents’ weaknesses are really fun. There is an air of tension that you cut with a knife that leads to a raucous final page with Wolverine playing the wild card. Finally, Duggan and Percy continue Storm’s story from the previous issue of Marauders with Casselli drawing a gorgeous sequence of her dancing with death. There is definitely a “thumb-twiddling” quality to the plotting, but Marauders #14’s amusing moments make it not a total wash. I’m excited to see what kind of carnage Magik and Gorgon cause. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read
Red Atlantis #1 (Aftershock)– Stephanie Phillips and Robert Carey combine old Cold War fears with practically ripped from the headlines fears of vote tampering in swing states in the timely Red Atlantis #1. Some issue with cellphones and electricity triggers normally peaceful voters to turn on each other and literally rip each others heads off as Phillips lets Carey and colorist Rosh do the heavy lifting and show the mundane turn to violence. They also introduce our protagonist Miriam, a college student originally from Russia, and a couple of sharp FBI agents that aren’t looking too sharp by the end of the issue. And the cherry on top is that the story was originally created by an ex-Russian intelligence agent named Jan Neumann with Phillips, Carey, and Rosh executing his vision. Red Atlantis is a blood and guts conspiracy thriller and definitely worth checking out. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy
U.S. Agent #1 (Marvel)– Everyone’s favorite knockoff Captain America, John Walker, gets his own miniseries courtesy of Priest, Georges Jeanty, and Karl Story. Priest’s trademark non-linear narrative, snarky sociopolitical commentary, and tongue-in-cheek humor is fully intact as he puts Walker through his paces in his new role as basically a babysitter for the U.S. government. This is while setting up a plotline featuring a town in W. Virginia where a mine closed, was replaced by an off-brand Amazon distribution center that was actually a front for SHIELD to maximize the absurdity. However, the real find of U.S. Agent #1 is Morrie, an elder Asian-American pizza delivery driver, who’s great at martial arts, quips, and calling out John’s racism as well as being an enigma. He and Jeanty and Story’s straight-up parodying of traditional elements of Captain America comics/stories keep this story moving until it takes a soapy twist. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read
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 (**).