Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/27/2021
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 Next Batman: Second Son #1 (DC)– Writer John Ridley and artists Tony Akins, Ryan Benjamin, and Mark Morales tell the story of Tim Fox’s pre-Next Batman days as he and the unseen tech guy Vol try to take out a Vietnamese human trafficker. This first issue is all action, or attempts at action, highlighting Tim’s inexperience as he gets lured into a trap and does some stupid stuff like throwing his melee weapon right at his opponent. You can definitely see the passion in Tim’s face and in Ridley’s dialogue and passion, but he’s not even close to Batman or Batwing yet. On the visual side, Benjamin’s layouts are simple, yet effective using 2 or 3 panels a page to show how deep the shit Tim is getting in. The final page is a weird angle/choice from him and Akins though, but it connects him to the context of Future State and the larger DC Universe. Second Son #1 is a pretty, straightforward riff on Batman Year One with an international setting and focus on hacking as well as hand to combat. It’s not spectacular, but it’s solid. Opening with an extended action sequence is always a good move. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read
Future State-Superman: House of El #1 (DC)– House of El #1 is a glimpse at a far-flung future where the descendants of Superman from various planets band together to defend Earth from the Red King and his minions. Philip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski craft a world where Superman and his fellow heroes are practically a myth and where hope is all but lost. Theand’r, who is Kryptonian and Tamaranean, even thinks Superman never existed, and that he was a story to inspire Kryptonian immigrants who found a home on Earth. Johnson throws a lot of interesting ideas that could sustain a mini, but he and Godlewski condense it down to one double-sized comic with plenty of action and an enemy that is a metaphor for white supremacism. Godlewski’s compositions during the fight scenes fill up the page as the remnants of the House of El fight Parademons, Black Racer, and multiple Doomsdays. He draws blockbuster superhero action and interpersonal moments equally well adding a level of vulnerability to these warriors. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy
Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6 (Dark Horse)– Jeff Lemire and Toni Zonjic’s commentary on child sidekicks, violent vigilantes who were formerly child sidekicks, and 1990s Frank Miller art concludes in Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6. Zoncic’s art is definitely the highlight of this final issue with a contrasting red and blue palette as Skeleton Boy struggles between choosing a life of violence with Skulldigger or something more stable with Officer Reyes and her partner. He also does some striking black and white work for the big emotional beats and also for Skulldigger’s kills. Storywise, Lemire creates a parallel between Skulldigger’s strained relationship with his mentor when he was the young sidekick Alley Cat, and his similar trauma bond with Skeleton Boy as he’ll probably end up getting Skeleton Boy hurt or killed. The actual ending of the issue seems like an anti-climax, but Lemire and Zonjic create a wonderfully redemptive moment for Matthew (Formerly known as Skeleton Boy) while lingering on a couple images of a lonely Skulldigger, whose vigilante crusade and vendetta against Grimjim (Think the Joker plus immortality.) will never end. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Crossover #4 (Image)– Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Ready Player One comic book edition continues in Crossover #4. Wisely, they’ve sidestepped their feeble attempts at real world relevance or commentary on the medium and gone for all out action in this issue with the standout being a Ben-Day dot filled double page spread featuring Madman, a yo-yo, and a nostalgic color palette from Dee Cuniffe. The lead characters Ellie, Ryan, and Ava are just ciphers taking the reader from Easter Egg to Easter Egg with Cates’ ominiscient narrator seeing more as a cover his ass situation than adding anything substantial to the series. As co-creators of the series, Cates and Shaws are well within their rights to make God Country a critical part of Crossover’s plot, but it really cheapens the resonance of a series that was their most emotionally honest work. Unless you’re a hunt the Easter Egg enthusiast, this one is worth skipping along with their prose and TV medium relatives, the aforementioned Ready Player One and Stranger Things Season One. Geoff Shaw and Dee Cuniffe’s visuals are very pretty though. Overall: 5.3 Verdict: Pass
Department of Truth #6 (Image)– James Tynion and guest artist Elsa Charretier peel the table behind the Department of Truth a little bit in a flashback story as a fresh off killing JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald learns about the conspiracies of 1000 AD. Compared to the series’ usual style, Charretier’s art has an earthiness that works for the medieval setting, and she even riffs on tapestry as the hag in the woods/Julia Augusta spins basically the origin story of the Illuminati featuring the Julian Calendar, monks, and fake Charlemagne. Tynion and Charretier explore the underlying theme and purpose of Department of Truth, which is to make sure a certain narrative is a dominant one and places it in the wider context of medieval European history. The Roman empire has fallen, Islam is on the rise, and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church are about to break apart so why not create the fiction of something that is neither an empire, holy, or Roman to hold things together. It will be interesting to see the ideas introduced in Department of Truth #6 echo down the road and see some of the recurring imagery and themes. It’s definitely my favorite issue of the series so far. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy
Future State: Batman/Superman #2 (DC Comics) – The art shines a bit more than the story itself which just feels like a way to add more flavor to this new Gotham and the Magistrate. It has some great themes I’d love to see explored more but overall, it feels like the end of a filler arc that touches upon bigger things elsewhere. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Future State: Dark Detective #4 (DC Comics) – The issue makes me want more of this future Gotham and story direction. The first story features the showdown between Batman and the Magistrate’s leader and it’s a hell of a battle. The art is fantastic with some amazing spreads and awesome action. The second story featuring Jason Todd delivers some solid twists and turns leaving the reader with a lot of questions that’ll be answered in the future. This was the Future State I wanted and it left me begging for it to continue. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy
Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 (DC Comics) – I really don’t know the Legion of Super-Heroes and this disconnect had me shrugging my shoulders with this one. This comic feels a bit more for the die-hards with knowledge. The art is solid with a very unique style so that was at least entertaining for me. Overall Rating: 6.5 Recomendation: Pass
Future State: Suicide Squad #2 (DC Comics) – The Suicide Squad portion of the comic is fanastic. The ending is something I didn’t see coming and it just feels like a solid mission for the team on another world. The art is really good delivering entertaining action with some subtle things here and there that really stand out. The Black Adam story is interesting but since I’m not into the whole magic aspect of the DC universe, it just didn’t quite pack the punch for me. The ending was also solid but the art stands out with some pages packed in with action and characters. You’ll need a bit to take it all in. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy
Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #2 (DC Comics) – Writer Mark Russell delivers the humor and satire I’d expect in a story where Lex Luthor rules over an entire planet. There’s some solid digs and concepts in here and it gave me a good laugh. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read
Generations Forged #1 (DC Comics) – There’s a lot of talent with this comic which really should have been released as individual chapters digitally. Seeing different heroes from different times together is fun and there’s a nice retro feel to it all, story and look wise. The comic also opens up the concept of the Linearverse which feels a bit odd and clunky with the current reset of the DC Universe and expansion of the Omniverse. Overall, great concept with an ok execution. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Batman: Black & White #3 (DC Comics) – I’m loving this anthology series and just want more of it. The stories and art is varied with John Ridley’s opening standing out. This is a fantastic buy and exactly what DC should be putting out more often. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Black Widow #5 (Marvel) – The best series on Marvel’s shelf right now. This wraps up the initial arc delivering some unbelievable action and amazing art. There’s so much to take in and just nails everything I’d want in a Black Widow comic. This is the series I have to read with each release. Overall Rating: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Chasing the Dragon #1 (Heavy Metal) – An interesting fantasy series that mixes in a concept of addiction to dragon’s blood to it. The opening is a little choppy with some good ideas that I want to see where it goes. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Crossover #4 (Image Comics) – I’ve really been enjoying this series which dips between great concepts and nostalgia. This issue feels a bit heavy on the nostalgia end of things as the creators reference one of their own creations. It feels a bit like autofellatio. There’s some solid art though which really stands out. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 (Marvel) – It’s M.O.D.O.K. versus Gwenpool a character I normally dislike. She works here in this over-the-top issue and series that features other organisms designed for killing. A silly, action-filled comic, that’ll leave you laughing. It’s delivered every issue with great jokes and solid art. It’s Looney Tunes type fun. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Nailbiter Returns #10 (Image Comics) – The latest volume wraps up and it’s a hell of an ending. Though it’s a little choppy it feels very appropriate for a horror sequel. There’s also a bit I don’t want to spoil. For those that have followed this series, you’ll be happy with the finale. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Stray Dogs #1 (Image Comics) – A hell of a debut featuring a dog with memory problem that winds up in a new home. The art is amazing and the build-up to the comic is gasp-inducing and also heartbreaking at moments. This is a must-get and must-read. Just fantastic in every way. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #5 (Marvel) – The issue wraps up the miniseries with a showdown between Marneus and the Chaos forces. It brings things together in the two storylines and art is decent as usual. It ups the blood and guts a bit and overall is a satisfying though not exciting finale. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: 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 (**).