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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 06/12/2021

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.


Excalibur #21 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To use the Hellfire Gala setting to advance several plots in their own series, including the dissolution of the tenuous UK/Krakoa alliance, Rogue leaving the team to join the Krakoan X-Men, and all kinds of blood magic/Arthurian stuff. The British/magic stuff continues to be inconsistent as ever, but Howard continues to nail the interpersonal moments between characters like Gambit being proud of his wife becoming an X-Man again, Rictor and Shatterstar struggling to get back together, and Rachel Grey and Captain Britain sharing a dance away from the folks that would ply them for information. I don’t know if it’s because the book is an event tie-in, but Excalibur #21 does have several reversal and twists that act as the perfect canvas for Erick Arciniega’s bright blasts of color and To’s wide panels for scenes of magic. Excalibur is still a mid-tier X-Book, but I feel like the overall story has real momentum again and feels like a team book instead of Captain Britain and her Amazing Friends. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

X-Men #21 (Marvel)– The final issue of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men volume is up and down. For the most part, the visuals are brilliant from Nick Dragotta’s manga-infused and heavy shadows take on Namor, Russell Dauterman getting to unveil the new X-Men team and bask in his fashion brilliance, and Sara Pichelli showing everyone a good time. (Lucas Werneck is stuck with the photo-tracing celebrities gig.) However, the story fluctuates from clip show to teaser trailer in both the selection of the new X-Men team and the Sinister Secrets data page and finally some actual good stuff as Namor reminds Professor X and Magneto that, yes, he controls 70% of the world. Hickman has a good ear for writing him as evidenced by his work on New Avengers, and I hope he figures in future storylines. The rest of the story shows Krakoa at what seems to be its “peak” as it flexes its muscles before the fall alluded to in Marauders #21. The art’s great, but there’s too much montage and not enough story. Overall: 7.0 Verdict: Read

Marjorie Finnegan: Temporary Criminal #2 (AWA Studios)– Garth Ennis and Goran Sudzuka’s self-indulgence continues in Marjorie Finnegan #2, which opens with its protagonist saying Jesus was just a guy, chasing Henry VIII with a strap on, and shitting on Donald Trump’s head. Edgy, sophomoric stuff cleanly rendered by Sudzuka with flat background colors by Miroslav Mrva. The plot sort of starts to take out with this one with Marjorie fighting her sister, the time cop Harriet while the bad guys go around her flat looking for a book that could change human history. The satire might be a little Maher-esque, but Ennis’ dialogue is earthy as ever and Goran Sudzuka’s art is easy to follow. The fight between Marjorie and Harriet is overlong, and the villains are underdeveloped so this issue is worth skipping or waiting for the full narrative in trade. Overall: 6.0 Verdict: Pass

Children of the Atom #4 (Marvel)– Centering around Wolverine/general fanboy Benny Thomas aka Marvel Guy is a smart move from Vita Ayala and Paco Medina, but this little team of mutant wannabes (Except possibly Carmen.) is starting to annoy me. The fandom stuff is interesting and kudos to Ayala for crafting a diverse cast of characters, but this issue is pretty weak and honestly creepy with the team using their friend Cole’s DNA off his basketball jersey to try to crash the Hellfire Gala. And, of course, it goes badly, and they’re caught by mutant hunters. The narration with Benny is okay, but it doesn’t really connect to the overall plot and just ends up being the pre-requisite internal drama before they fight the bad guys. The issue ends on a star-studded splash page, but it is definitely unearned and comes across as a sales-boosting gimmick. Children of the Atom is a middle of the road teen superhero team comic, and fans looking for a more interesting look at young (actual) Krakoans with better visuals would be better off checking out Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’ New Mutants. Also, this issue has nothing to do with Hellfire Gala if you just picked it up for that. Overall: 5.7 Verdict: Pass

Die #17 (Image)– Die #17 is a Lovecraftian dungeon crawler (Guest starring the actual H.P. Lovecraft) from Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, and the series turns to horror in its endgame. There are some meditations on games, dreams, and death as Matt sees the face of his dead mother and the tubes she’s hooked up in Cthulhu. At this point, Gillen has a strong command on the characters’ basic personalities and use an out of character moment to great effect like Chuck behaving seriously, or Isabelle paying off her debts as a godbinder. He and Hans also reveal more about the underlying mechanics of Die connecting it to the imagery of many-angled gods in the works of Lovecraft. And speaking of Stephanie Hans, her work is majestic, spacious, and full of chaos and fear as she delves into dreams and nightmares. Die’s final arc has been quite excellent so far. Overall: 9.1 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 (**).

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