Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 04/11/2021
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.
Batman #107 (DC)** So having read nearly every contemporary Batman comic in existence, it is hard for a run to feel fresh in it’s mid stride but somehow this team has done it again. We open with Bruce in the clutches of Scarecrow dripping in paranoia and fear. We the reader are lead to believe that Scarecrow has access to Bruce’s thoughts and Bruce is desperately trying to push that out of his brain. He forces himself to remember and retrace the steps of this case and figure out his next move.
Here we are shown a few flashback scenes with Batman and Barbara operating as Oracle. I must say I really dig when Barbara is used in this fashion, it puts her above and beyond the rest of the caped Bat Fam and really puts her on par with Bruce. She lays out some cool new plans for a new transportable Bat Signal to let Gotham know that Batman is still watching out for them.
We also get a nice little scene of Harley Quinn dishing out some unhinged vigilante justice and I loved that as well.
One this book has in abundance is style. The art by Jimenez has so much flare to it and makes the panels feel like they are moving. It reads along so nicely and is a visual treat. He keeps improving every issue. The colors by Morey are so outstanding and bring these icons to life in spectacular fashion. At times it is the the best book on the market in coloring quality. Lastly Tynion IV keeps slowly adding to his Batman mythos without just throwing stuff at the wall to make it stick. Gotham feels so rich and deep with him at the helm. Even characters I was not crazy about at first like Ghostmaker is winning me over.
All in all another fun issue and I’m loving this direction of new but familiar at the same time. I am not in any rush to have a new team jump on this title and just want to see where it goes. “Just how will Bruce get out of this one?”
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Batman #107 (DC)– James Tynion, Jorge Jimenez, and Tomeu Morey draw pretty clear parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and Scarecrow’s creeping threat on Gotham in Batman #107. He hasn’t pulled a fear gas attack just yet, but Gothamites are stocking up on gas masks while the mayor is announcing a curfew. Jimenez’s visuals touch a strong techno-horror note that complements Morey’s graffiti color palette and Clayton Cowles’ glitched out letters as an underfunded Batman, kind of Harley Quinn, and Oracle fight a war on many fronts against Scarecrow, the future creator of the Magistrate, and the Unsanity Collective, a kind of ecoterrorist utopian group. Batman #107 gives a good feel of the fear and paranoia pervading Gotham while taking the plot in a fun direction that involves subterfuge, not fisticuffs. Tynion and Ricardo Lopez-Ortiz’s Ghostmaker backup is pure enjoyment featuring garishly dressed assassins, a MMF threesome, stealth action, and one-liners. Ghostmaker is a bi, anti-billionaire James Bond, and I know that the Bat-books are overexposed, but I wouldn’t mind him having his own mini. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy
The Swamp Thing #2 (DC)– Ram V, Mike Perkins, and Mike Spicer have Levi really come into his own as Swamp Thing in the second issue of this maxiseries. They explore hope and fear through this character and also look into the past when he became connected to the Green after he visited his dying father in India. Then, The Swamp Thing #2 adds the layer on top about the character and his title serving as a vehicle for contemporary anxieties like old straight white men being afraid of a new, multicultural world or the usual battle between corporations and the environment that has been its trademark in most Swamp Thing comics. However, Perkins and Spicer depict these through gorgeous art and layouts from double page spread montages with poetic narration from V to almost painted panels as the narrative reaches his climax, and Levi feels like Swamp Thing and not just some guy having nightmares in New York. Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer match their art style and color palette to each situation in The Swamp Thing #2 with Perkins’ usual photorealism making a comeback in the conversations between Levi and his friends that remind her of a certain botanist from Louisiana. The Swamp Thing #2 definitely has its nods to the previous volumes, but Ram V, Perkins, and Spicer are putting their own spin on the title with new sets of visual language as well as a fully developed arc for Levi. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
Casual Fling #3 (AWA)– I think I’m really enjoying Jason Starr and Dalibor Talajic’s Casual Fling because it’s a rare erotic suspense story in the medium of single issue comics. Casual Fling #3 introduces us to Matt’s hacker friend Sensei, who gets the funniest lines in the issue, and definitely moves the plot along as they work together to find the masked man who had an affair with his wife Jennifer and then blackmailed her with a sex tape. However, there’s still for emotional moments with Jennifer trying to make things right and repair their damaged relationship as Matt wrestles with the fact that she was unfaithful and was a victim of revenge porn. Most of this comes out through Talajic’s facial acting during quiet scenes at Matt’s mom’s house between sequences of frenetic Hollywood style hacking and facial recognition software. Casual Fling #3 has all this plus ends on a twist/cliffhanger. It’s the thriller where you wish your flight/commute was just a little longer. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy
Project Patron #1 (Aftershock)– What if Superman actually died in the “Death of Superman” storyline? Steve Orlando and Matthew Piazzalunga explore this idea with the serial numbers filed off in Project Patron #1. They go for full, straightforward superheroics in the beginning of the book with lantern jawed figure work from Piazzalunga before showing behind the curtain of the illusion that keeps the iconic hero going. This first issue mostly sets up the players o f Project Patron and their personalities as well as potential enemies. It didn’t hook me completely, but overall, Project Pactron #1 is a solid psychological look at superhero iconography. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read
Nocterra #2 (Image)– Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, and Tomeu Morey’s Nocterra #2 isn’t a particular deep comic, but it’s an enjoyable post-apocalyptic road story meets family drama. Daniel gets to draw creepy monster, biker gangs, and of course, plenty of vehicle, but Nocterra also has flashbacks about its protagonist Val so he gets to showcase his improving skill with facial expressions and less blockbuster moments. The relationship between Val and her brother Emory really becomes meaningful in this second issue as she lies to him about things like heaven and hope when he’s a kid and keeps him more in the loop as an adult. The overrarching concept of this comic continues to be as wacky as ever (Darkness bad, literal light good), but Nocterra #2 is starting to build suspense and also contrasts Val and Emory’s relationship with their mysterious passengers. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy
The Silver Coin #1 (Image)– The Silver Coin is a new anthology series from artist Michael Walsh and a rotating cast of writers. Chip Zdarsky is up first, and their issue is about the guitar player of a struggling bar band who starts using a mysterious silver coin as a pick. Of course, the band starts to sound good, but he becomes overwhelmed with hubris and the rest is history. The story of guitars and deals with the devil is almost as old as the genre itself, but Walsh brings a new level of emotion and intensity to the page with his linework, color palette, and hand lettering. Zdarsky adds the conflict between rock and disco while keep the narrative grounded. The band sounds good, but they don’t find fame and glory or anything. The Silver Coin is off to an auspicious start, and I’m excited to see Michael Walsh and his collaborators’ takes on different genres and the connections between them in the months to come. Overall: 9.0 Verdict Buy
America Chavez: Made in the USA #2 (Marvel)– Kalinda Vazquez continue to provide insight into America Chavez’s past and show her strained relationship with her adoptive family, the Santanas of Washington Heights. America’s memories about her moms and the Utopian Parallel all return in one elementary school crayon drawing, and the flashbacks show her early vigilante activities as she wants to embrace that part of herself. This strain continues to the present day with America’s adoptive dad Javi confronting her and saying she wants to be there for everyone except for her family. The family stuff in America is really engaging, but the mystery stuff: not so much. We do get to see Kate Bishop eat a very spicy taco and coach America on her P.I. technique as Gomez finds delight in both big family gatherings and interdimensional superhero curb stomps. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy
Marauders #19 (Marvel)– Marauders finally lives up to its roots with Morlocks and Reavers fighting in the streets of Madripoor. If you’re a Marrow, Callisto, or Masque fan, then you’ll really enjoy this issue of Gerry Duggan and Stefano Caselli’s series as the Marauders are grounded by potential UN sanctions so they send in the Morlocks to do their dirty work. (Bishop gets involved though.) There’s a lot of action (and a little bit of drinking) in this issue, and it’s all very cathartic for the “Mutant Massacre”. Nothing beats rich kids getting their asses handed to them, and it’s nice to see the Morlocks play an active role in the new status quo. However, with the exception of Callisto, they’ll probably be sidelined. Even in a so-called utopia, class distinctions exist, and Marauders #19 is a reminder of this as the Morlocks clean up the Marauders’ mess in “Lowtown”. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Crime Syndicate #2 (DC Comics) – There’s a lot of potential in this series which takes us to the Earth where heroes are evil versions of the ones we know. But, these first two issues that have an attack by Starro has been a bit lackluster. The art hasn’t been inspiring and the comic has a bit of a comedic tone which feels rather off for this type of story. This is one that’s just not clicking for me. A backup story featuring the origin of Owlman though is pretty good and much more of what’s expected, it’s the second time the backup story has outshined the main feature. Overall Rating: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass
Far Sector #11 (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal) – The series begins to wrap up with a rather convoluted and a bit too complicated series of double-crosses and agendas clashing. This issue and the previous one have a bit of a stumble for what has been an amazing series up to this point. As soon as the series shifted from its amazing discussion of social issues and politics, its shine wore off a bit. Still good, but this is one that’ll come together in the 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 (**).