Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 03/21/2021
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.
Orphan and the Five Beasts #1 (Dark Horse)– Orphan and the Five Beasts is James Stokoe’s martial arts epic as Orphan Mo must avenge her master who was ripped off by five “beasts” that used his techniques for evil, like stealing, murder, and animal abuse. There’s a lot of setup and narration in this initial issue, but Stokoe brings his eye for detail as well as some expressive lettering that is almost like another character in the comic. Also, after the backstory of the Beasts is told, he cuts loose with entrails flying, overly vein-y bandit kings, and of course, gorgeous fight scenes. Orphan and the Five Beasts showcases a very talented artist putting his own spin on a fun genre and should only get better as Orphan Mo encounters the various beasts. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy
Catwoman #29 (DC)– After a couple months off for Future State, Ram V, Fernando Blanco, and the always spectacular Jordie Bellaire hit the ground running with plenty of close quarters action, a little bit of drama, and some big time guest appearances. V continues to build up Catwoman as the guardian of Gotham’s, shall we say, less sociopathic villains while Blanco continues to draw her exuding total swagger to go with his intense close quarter fight scenes. This issue isn’t a stone cold classic like some of the previous ones and Father Valley’s Biblical assassin shtick is starting to wear then, but Ram V starts to thread the needle between Catwoman being a good crime comic and a good Bat-family comic in Catwoman #29. Selina’s an anti-hero and a crime boss, and it’s fun to see the way she acts in each role. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read
Ultramega #1 (Image/Skybound)– Ultramega is a bleak, horror-tinged take on the sentai genre from writer/artist James Harren and colorist Dave Stewart. The first issue follows a “Warrior” named Jason, who ends up being terrible at his job because he didn’t kill his wife and unborn child with his Ultramega abilities even though they did have the Kaiju virus. There are literally big consequences to this in this 60 page first issue filled with blood and guts, kaijus cool powers, and moments of regret. Harren nails the scale of these fights, both in the moment, and in their effects on the average people cutting away to show the destruction of battle. He also spends some time doing some social commentary-via-basically Astro Boy on how automation has led to unemployment or taking riskier employment like Jason being an Ultramega and never getting to see his wife and son while being “on call”. Harren’s commentary gets muddled in the last third of the comic as he takes aim at not just automation and the surveillance state, but also collectivism. However, the sentai genre is all about extraordinary individuals fighting monsters, and Ultramega chronicles their failure in all their gory detail with the highlight of the book definitely being the large scale battles drawn by Harren and Stewart. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy
SWORD #4 (Marvel)– SWORD #4 is straight up competency porn with Abigail Brand, Wiz-Kid, Frenzy, and Manifold with an assist from Mentallo and the Five orchestrating a resistance to Knull and Knullified Cable before the symbiote threat spreads even more. The cast continues to sprawl, but Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti give each SWORD team member a couple moments in the (at times literal) sun with Manifold demonstrating that his power goes beyond teleportation, Wiz-Kid’s ingenuity and penchant for melodrama paying off in a fire fight, and Magneto and Brand showing they’ll protect mutantdom and Earth, respectively, no matter the cost. Marte Gracia adds a summer event sheen with his color palette with the fight between Knullified Cable and Manifold being particularly gorgeous. SWORD is a book that handle ethical debates and killer setpieces with skill and ease, and with its varied cast of characters, it brings new perspectives to the current Krakoan status quo. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
X-Force #18 (Marvel)– X-Force #18 is the slightly more creepy, but slightly less impactful sequel to last month’s Quentin Quire-centric issue. The opening scene sets the tone of the comic with artist Garry Brown channeling Swamp Thing as “veg” whisperer Black Tom Cassidy is consumed by a psychic nightmare, which is the recording baddie for this issue and preys on different X-Force members during times of contentment. Evil psychic forces are a dime a dozen, but Benjamin Percy and Brown smartly tie it to specific character traits with Quentin Quire deep down still being a little shit and Beast’s knowledge of Krakoa’s secrets making him the most vulnerable target. Finally, there’s Sage, who has been drinking more to keep the relentless spread of information in her brain now, but she’s starting to have gaps in her calculations. Percy uses both the on-panel interactions and data pages to show these vulnerabilities and that she’s more than just some kind of plot resolver/info giver. The team definitely feels exposed and vulnerable after this issue. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Buy
Catwoman #29 (DC Comics) – I’ve generally enjoyed the new team and direction for Catwoman and this first issue of Infinite Frontier keeps the momentum rolling. The issue features a new villain, a possible ally, and a reveal that’ll probably anger a certain group of fans. The art is solid as well delivering some good action and sexiness without going over the top. This is a good spot to start and hints at an intriguing first arc. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Eternals #3 (Marvel) – I’ve generally enjoyed the series with an intriguing set of characters and re-introduction mixed with beautiful art. Three issues in and the series feels like it’s dragging a bit as more characters are introduced and more mysteries dropped. It’s a slice of the big picture but it needs to pick up the pace or risks decompressing things a bit too much. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #1 (Marvel) – I don’t know a ton about the character but he’s about to get the spotlight in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first issue is a good introduction to the character delivering an ass but one you want to follow and see what happens. And that ending… that was… interesting. Overall Rating: 7.85 Recommendation: Read
Orphans and the Five Beasts #1 (Dark Horse) – James Stokoe’s kung-fu epic is beautiful to look at but it’s a lot of style without much that’s new. The story is familiar though some details do stand out. Overall, it’s a comic that’s definitely more flash than substance. But, it’s a lot of fun. Overall Rating: 7.5 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 (**).