Author Archives: Alex K Cossa

Underrated: Your Local Comics Shop

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Your Local Comics Shop


Given the current comics climate, with printers not printing and Diamond not distributing, I wanted to remind us all about one of the things that we’ve all taken for granted at some point or another, and that is the shop you buy your comics from.

I know that some of you prefer to order from DCBS or read digitally, and so don’t have a shop you frequent regularly, but when you want to pick up a board game, statue or toy collectible, then you may go to your LCS rather than Amazon. Ordinarily, at least. Right now, with so many non-essential businesses being closed, going online for our nerd needs is more tempting than ever. But here’s the thing; I know that you’re starving for something to read right now, but this is the time to support the local businesses in your town, city, state/province ahead of a giant company who’s CEO could afford to fund several reading or food programs in our schools.

When all the dust has settled after the Covid 19 pandemic, and it will, you’re going to want to go out and socialize and talk about comics with friends, or strangers, in person and not online. You’re going to want to go to your comic shop.

Right now, you can’t really do that, but there are some idea on how to support your local shop here.

Until you can go back to your LCS, or until you decide to start going to one, spend a minute and think about all small business owners and their employees. Right now they’re worried about lost wages, and potentially a lost business in the future. When this is over, go spend the money you didn’t spend there – if you can.


That’s all we have for this week, folks. Come back next time  when there’s something else Underrated to talk about.

Review: Quantum and Woody #3

Quantum and Woody #3

Quantum and Woody are back in high school – this time to solve a murder!
But are their combined powers a match for the haunts that await them? Find out in Quantum and Woody #3!

When I read this comic the first time verses the second time, a lot had changed. And it changed my appreciation of the comic, too. It went from being a fun diversion to a life raft.

Y’see, because my wife has lung issues, we’re effectively in quarantine already, and so I was in desperate need of a distraction. Even having read this book once, the second time through still allowed me to escape for just long enough to reset myself. So judging this book critically will be tough but then sometimes you just have to judge a book in the moment. And in this moment Quantum & Woody #3 was perfect.

Written by Christopher Hastings, with art by Ryan Browne and colors by Ruth Redmond, this book was everything I didn’t know I needed. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it the first time I read it; this isn’t a comic that went from average to amazing simply because I read it after a tumultuous weekend.

Hastings has once again packed a full story, start middle and end, into a single comic. He has so far given us three complete stories in three issues that have all tied together with elements that are bound to come together in the finale next month whenever the fourth issue comes out. It isn’t often you get as much story in a comic as you have with Quantum & Woody #3 these days, which is a refreshing change of pace and it feels like you’re getting far more than you’re paying for in comparison to other books.

Browne’s art is absolutely perfect for this comic; there’s an energy to his line work that jumps from the page. Whether it’s Quantum punching somebody or Woody running out of a panel this comic has a lot to look at at, and Browne is able to make the art tell a complete story despite how much is happening between the covers. His art flows and makes sense. There’s no need to make a logic jump from panel to panel (you know how when you’re reading a comic and all of a sudden it feels like you missed a panel or two? That’s not here), which is a testament to Browne’s ability to tell a story visually.

Ruth Redmond has the unenviable job of coloring the insanity taking place in this comic, and does so in a way that nothing is lost on the page. Quantum & Woody #3 is a bright book because of Redmond’s vibrant colors as much as the story itself.

I also want to highlight Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou‘s lettering in this book. Hastings has a lot of words in this comic, and Otsmane-Elhaou’s work is so spot on to be almost unnoticeable. I say almost, because once I noticed his lettering because of the sound effects. I realized just how impressive the work is in this comic. Read the book, then read it again paying attention to the lettering and you’ll see what I mean; the font choices, the sizing and the sound effects are perfect for this book.

I don’t know when we’ll get to read the fourth issue at this point, and just typing that sucks. We’re all living in a time that few of us ever expected. Things have changed on us overnight. If you need a moment of brightness, a distraction from the news, then the third issue of this series is ideal for that.

It’s absolutely a perfect way to distract yourself. It’s a pretty stand alone book you can enjoy this without reading the first two issues. I’m going to be reading those three comics a lot over the coming months. Join me, won’t you?

Story: Christopher Hastings Art: Ryan Browne
Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Story: 9.2 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: X-O Manowar #1

X-O Manowar #1

Harvey Award-winning writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallumand breakout star Emilio Laiso unleash Valiant’s most powerful protector in X-O Manowar #1!

Torn from the past and bonded with a living alien armor, will X-O Manowar become the hero the world needs now? As a futuristic force arises to destroy the planet, only this ancient warrior king has the courage to stand against impossible odds!

I have been waiting to read a finished version of X-O Manowar #1 for a long time. I got a chance to read an unfinished copy a month or two ago. Had I reviewed what I’d read then, it would have been glowing even with an unfinished product. The story stood out strongly even when the art was unfinished. Some pages were lacking color and I am sure that the lettering and dialogue have been tweaked here and there. I haven’t done a side by side comparison as yet and probably never will. This is all a long way of telling you that I knew I’d enjoy the comic before I read the final version.

Within the first three pages of this comic, Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum introduces new readers to Aric of Dacia, the 4th century warrior wearing an incredible suit of armour without throwing up exposition in his dialogue. There’s a natural relationship between Aric and the sacred armor of Shanhara born over years of interaction. Hallum injects a fresh and playful level of banter between the two. I love the new voice he has given Shanhara. I love how easily Hallum introduces his version of X-O Manowar to readers new and old.

Hallum takes X-O in a direction we have not yet seen in the modern era of X-O Manowar comics; Aric trying to fit in with regular people. And honestly, if the entire comic was just that, I’d still be as happy as a pig in muck. We’ve seen Aric go from a farmer to an emperor on a distant planet, try and find a home for hundred of time-displaced former slaves and fight against incredible odds, but we’ve never seen him try to play basketball. It’s one of those moments that I didn’t know I needed to see until I had seen it.

The comic has echoes of the Will Smith movie Hancock in Aric’s near clueless way of interacting with the modern world. His only guide is a sentient alien armor.

The story alone sold me on this book when I first read it. Being able to see the finished artwork of artist Emilio Laiso and colorist Ruth Redmond took this to another level.

The opening scenes set in space are beautiful. The colors are crisp, the line work clean, and so incredibly easy to follow despite the sheer amount of debris on the page. The pages immediately after the space sequence have a lot of text on them. Yet letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou strikes a perfect balance between fitting the words on the page and allowing the artwork to shine and help tell the story.

Believe it or not, I’ve really only touched on the first half dozen pages or so of this book at the moment. I won’t delve much deeper into the specific events for spoiler reasons.

This is one of, if not the absolute best issues of X-O Manowar I have read in a long time. It’s also one of the best things from Valiant I’ve read in the last year. If you’re looking for a jumping-on spot for X-O Manowar, then this is going to be the best spot you’ll find without going back to 2012. Hallum, Laiso, Redmond, and Otsmane-Elhaou have created a masterpiece in X-O Manowar #1. It’s only gotten better with each subsequent reading.

Bring on the second issue.

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum Art: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

How Can You Help Your LCS?

Comic Shop Locator

When I first started thinking of writing this article just before lunch, it was going to have a lot of different ideas. But as with all things related to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re all experiencing right now, things have changed quickly. The news about Diamond ceasing distribution will have been shocking for a lot of you. After this week there will be no new comics for an undetermined amount of time.

Which means now, more than ever, you need to think about your local comic shop. As with all small businesses, they’re going to be feeling the effects of the shutdown – especially now that Diamond, the sole distributor of comics, has ceased distributing comics to comic shops for the foreseeable future. We’re certainly experiencing something as a society that hasn’t happened in any of our lifetimes, and so the way we shop and support our local comic shops have to change.

(I know that there are far more businesses struggling than just our LCSs, but as a comic/nerd site I wanted to focus on comic shops).

All of the following suggestions are subject to the health rules in your area/state/province. If you’ve been told to shelter in place, or are in either quarantine or self-isolation, don’t go into your comic shop. Do what you’re told by your government (regardless of its level). However, if you can leave your house, then ask if you can pick up your comics from the side of the road, or if an employee can drop them in your trunk. If the shop can deliver or mail them to you, then do that. If you’re fiscally able to.

That said, how can you help your LCS?

Third Eye Bonds

Pick up your damn pull list. Look, I get that it’s hard to get in to your LCS every week. But if you’ve got months of comics to pick up, pick them the fuck up. Your shop has ordered them in for you. Letting the comics build up over months is bad form. Not picking them, especially now, is really uncool. If you’re on top of your list, and I hope most of you are, then try and stay that way this week. Your LCS is going to need your support, so the least you can do is pick up part or all of your pull list.

Fill your want list. After this week, new comics will be in short supply. But you what they will have? Potentially boxes and boxes of back issues. Send your shop a list of what you want. If you want to save them time and effort, send a priority list of the comics you want and a maximum budget that you’re able to spend. That way the staff aren’t finding your entire list for you to only buy two comics.

Buy that book you’ve been eyeing up. Most, if not all, comic shops stock soft and hardcover graphic novels of various sorts. Whether it’s the classic book you never got around to reading, or something entirely different, now is a good time to pick that up.

Bored? Games. My LCS also has a pretty robust selection of board games, which can be a great way to pass the time. Ever played Zombicide? Elder Scroll? Forbidden Island? Scotland Yard? Many carry Magic: The Gathering. This is probably going to be a good time to invest in a game you and your family can play multiple times.

Pay in advance. So you can’t go and get your books for a couple of weeks. If you can, consider paying for them anyway. Think of it like you’re buying yourself a post quarantine gift of comics, games, toys or whatever other goodies you think you’ll want when this is over.

Waive your discount. There are a lot of shops that offer a discount to certain customers. If you’re one, consider waiving part of, if not all of your discount. It could be a small gesture, but at this time every bit can help.

Don’t shop online. Unless your local shop has an online store, most of us tend to think of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers. Yes, they stock comic book collections and board games. Yes, they’re probably a bit cheaper and are easier to get. But if you spend all your reading money there during the pandemic then that’s not helping your LCS.

Don’t read digital. It’s easy to say, but if you’re stuck for new comics, and publishers are still releasing them digitally… you know what I’m gonna say. Unless you’re the kind of person who will buy digital then buy the physical issues because you’re a collector, try and resist temptation. It will be hard.

This is an unprecedented time. You’ve heard that said a lot, and it’s true, and more than ever we need to find new ways to come together while also staying apart. I want my LCS to still be in operation in a year. I want yours to still be there. With all the months, years and decades of enjoyment, they’ve helped to give us, it’s time for us to help them.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/21

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.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Logan

Bang! #2 (Dark Horse)– If Bang! #1 was Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres stripping the James Bond films down to their essence in metafictional fashion, then Bang! #2 does the same for Die Hard. Or really any of the regular guy saves the day from highly trained terrorists while making one-liners with collateral damage all around him. Kindt comes up with the clever conceit of boiling down an action hero trait into a pill form and turns this issue’s hero, John Shaw, into basically a junkie, whose actions are connected as much to an adrenaline rush as any love for his fellow human. His actions definitely fall into the category of looks cool, but would be horrifying in the real world with the text of the in-universe John Shaw novels hinting at these horrors. And all of these elements are held into place by the smooth storytelling of Wilfredo Torres, who makes each action sequence seamless with colorist Nayoung Kim, who varies the intensity of their palette depending on the scene. Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres alchemize the contrivances, possible sociopathy, collateral damage, and yes, the thrilling action of the Die Hard series into the beauty that is Bang! #2. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite books of 2020 as it is both meta-commentary on and a wonderful example of different action genres/franchises. Overall: 9.6 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #9 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To has the Excalibur team embark on a magical mystery tour to Starlight Citadel, the former home of the Captain Britain Corps and a nexus for the multiverse. And, then, they end up in a huge battle against Saturnyne and her army of, basically, Sailor scouts. Howard and To are starting to hit their tribe as they meld road story tropes with more fantasy elements. There’s also a dash of espionage as Meggan and Pete Wisdom check on what Morgan LeFay’s old cult is up too. Seeing characters like Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee self-actualize (And in Jubilee’s case, discover a new power set) makes for pleasing reading even if Excalibur isn’t the cream of the crop of the X-Books. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Buy

X-Force #9 (Marvel)X-Force #9 begins with some much needed rest and relaxation for the team with Wolverine playing “snikt roulette” with Gabby and Daken, and even Sage finally getting out of the office and chatting with Domino about her resurrection. However, Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara pull the team back into danger as they investigate what’s going on in Terra Verde, a country that had a strained diplomatic relationship with Krakoa. The results are B-movie, and Percy and Cassara know it as Wolverine, Kid Omega, Domino, and a special guest star fight killer plants connected to a bastardized version of Central American mythology. It’s silly fun, and Cassara shows he can do comedy and spreads as well as body horror. Also, Percy continues to brew tension in the background of the main plot with Beast continuing to be extra-manipulative. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

 Outlawed #1 (Marvel)– This one-shot from Eve Ewing and Kim Jacinto is just as advertised: it’s Civil War, but with teen superheroes. The destination is familiar (With one twist.), but the journey works for me. Jacinto and colorist Espen Grundetjern channel the chaos of shonen manga action scenes as the Champions miscommunicate, and Viv Vision loses control and causes collateral damage at a school where a teen science summit is happening. And even though it’s couched in supehero action, Ewing captures a little bit of the zeitgeist and frustration of Generation Z, who is politically active and well-informed, especially about climate change, but is still underestimated by older generations. (See how Teen Vogue’s coverage has changed over the year, for example.) Outlawed definitely is a setup for the new Champions title and various teen-centric Marvel titles, but it’s like a yummy mozzarella stick appetizer, not a bad movie trailer. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Woman #1 (Marvel)– Jessica Drew is back and darker than ever in her solo series from Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez. Having to pay bills and provide for her son has led Jessica to take a corporate security gig for a billionaire daughter’s birthday part that turns into an all out action setpiece. Perez pours on the violent close-ups and explosions showing that Jessica may be starting to lose control even as she “saves the day”. Pacheco brings the sassy quips, but Jessica’s inner thoughts are filled with an overall feeling of “What have I done”. The backup from Pacheco and Paulo Siqueira adds context to Jessica’s money woes, new (and pretty decent) costume, and the ending of the primary story. Siqueira definitely indulges in some ass shots, but the story does wonders for Jessica’s motivation and the series’ ongoing plot. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Woman #1 (Marvel)– Jessica Drew is back and darker than ever in her solo series from Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez. Having to pay bills and provide for her son has led Jessica to take a corporate security gig for a billionaire daughter’s birthday part that turns into an all out action setpiece. Perez pours on the violent close-ups and explosions showing that Jessica may be starting to lose control even as she “saves the day”. Pacheco brings the sassy quips, but Jessica’s inner thoughts are filled with an overall feeling of “What have I done”. The backup from Pacheco and Paulo Siqueira adds context to Jessica’s money woes, new (and pretty decent) costume, and the ending of the primary story. Siqueira definitely indulges in some ass shots, but the story does wonders for Jessica’s motivation and the series’ ongoing plot. Overall: 8.3 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 (**).

Those Two Geeks Episode Fifty Seven: Spec Books

Alex and Joe talk about the elephant in the room and how people are reacting to Covid 19 before delving into spec books, and how they’re both good and bad in the long run. If you want to jump to the spec books discussion it’s right around 18.58 or so.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For February 2020

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comics not in Diamond’s top 100 sellers for February 2020


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Cult Classic Creature Feature #5 (Vault)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 380/1,322
Why You Should Read It:  
I’m usually not drawn to horror comics, but I do tend to enjoy anything Eliot Rahal writes, so I wanted to check this out. Obviously, I’m going to recommend you start with the first issue (or just wait for the trade if you can’t find the individual comics), but this is a great series that (I’m told by friends who do enjoy horror comics) is a great send up to the genre.

Quantum & Woody #2 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 280/4,028
Why You Should Read It: 
Obviously I’m going to be biased toward this, but there’s a very British comics style to the series with the art; the lines, the sheer amount of things occurring on the page (which never once feels overwhelming). There’s a chaotic brilliance to this book – don’t miss this.

Rai #4 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 264/4,900
Why You Should Read It: 
Why yes, I did include this in last month’s version of this comic. And the month before. Because this is frankly the best book on this list (truth be told it was the best one I’d read all month. The series encourages you to ask questions about your place in the world, what it means to be human, when you should resort to violent recourse and how easy it can be to touch the lives of those around you. This comic does all of that whilst still giving you a freaking brilliant book.

Finger Guns #1 (Vault)
Rank/Units Sold: 199/8,418
Why You Should Read It:
What if when you shot a finger gun at somebody you were able to adjust their emotions? This comic throws that into the mix amidst a sense of abandonment and loneliness that we’re all probably familiar with these days.

Ascender #9 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 173/9,970
Why You Should Read It: 
If you haven’t started reading this, then you should. But rather than start with the first issue of Ascender, you really want to pick up the first volume of Descender. You’ll thank me later.

Bang #1 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 159/10,741
Why You Should Read It: 
Matt Kindt once again proves why he’s one of the best writers in the business. There’s a lot to say about this book, but holy moly is it ever wonderful. Go in blind, I did, and it’s worth every moment.

.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Review: The Visitor #4

The Visitor #4

How many people would you kill to change the world? The Visitor continues to strike from the shadows, but what kind of change is he killing to create? The Visitor #4 dives into this very question.

I was a touch let down last issue. There didn’t really seem to be a lot of plot furtherance between the second and third issue. The art remained pretty consistent. There’s a lot more to get your teeth into this issue. Thankfully, as we learn more about the Visitor we can start to piece together what his mission entails. The end goal is still a little murky, which leaves me wondering whether the title character is the antagonist. There was a little more light given on which side the Visitor falls this week. It’s this grey area that I’m both thoroughly enjoying and at the same time unsure of, if I’m honest.

But it’s the uncertainty that’s so much fun about this book.

With the The Visitor #4 we’re given a good look into the who of the Visitor, and a solid glance more of why the Visitor has come back in time to kill some scientists, but the exact details of what the Visitor is trying to prevent from happening remains elusive still.

The Visitor #4 is written by Paul Levitz and features artist MJ Kim, colorist Ulises Arreola, and letterer Simon Bowland. I previously wrote that “[the comic] follows the titular character as he’s trying to eliminate something that the Japanese scientists he’s hunting are working on and the UN Security agent Dauber assigned to protect them. Levitz keeps things entirely believable when the scientists keep frustrating Dauber’s efforts to keep them safe by insisting on their secrecy as they all underestimate the Visitor.” It’s still true. I’m leaving it here because I don’t need to update the summary from the second to the third issue. Or the third to the fourth, really.

I enjoyed this issue more than the previous two; further information on the backstory to the Visitor was very welcome, as was some clarification as to his more than human qualities. The art of Kim with Arreola’s coloring is stronger this issue than the last; the action was kinetic fast and exciting. Watching the Visitor escape helicopters was a joy as the artistic team’s work would have made for an excellent live action sequence.

After the slight slump of the previous issue, The Visitor #4 restores my faith in the series. It’s still not the best thing I’ve read this week, but I sure enjoyed the book. It’s a fun science fiction romp that touches on various different aspects of the question: what would you do to change the future? In the case of the Visitor, murder isn’t out of the question. So whatever he’s trying to change must be something big – and I’m really curious as to what that is.

Story: Paul Levitz Art: MJ Kim
Color: Diego Rodriguez Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Doctor Tomorrow #2

Doctor Tomorrow #2

The universe warping origin of Doctor Tomorrow revealed in Doctor Tomorrow #2!

The menace of Hadrian threatens the entire Valiant Universe!

Doctor Tomorrow is Valiant‘s first all-ages book set within the publisher’s continuity. This issue also reminds people of Valiant’s multiverse, or introduces them to it. We learn more about Doctor Tomorrow and his relationship with Hadrian, a universe destroying being hunting for a mysterious material. The straight forward nature of the plot has been done numerous times before. It’s hero gathers allies to prevent the end of something. Tthere’s still something fresh about this book.

Writer Alehandro Arbona takes a fairly standard plot and injects a level of warmth and fun. The comic embraces the simplicity of the story. The all-ages nature of the book means the comic doesn’t rely on “edgy” cliches to sell a comic. Doctor Tomorrow #2 is a fresh nice deep breath.

There’s an innate innocence to it, which works very well in Doctor Tomorrow‘s favor.

Joining Alejandro Arbona is artist Jim Towe, colorist Diego Rodriguez and letterer by Clayton Cowles, a creative team that seem to be working together in rare synchronicity. The comic opens with a flight scene as Doctor Tomorrow tries to teach his younger self how to pilot the flight suit that they’re wearing. It’s the first honest look we get at the nature of Doctor Tomorrow’s abilities, but it also is one of the most endearing sequences I’ve read in some time. It’s also an example of just how well Towe and Rodriquez come together to illustrate this book.

Doctor Tomorrow #2 also features fan favorite Valiant characters making a long over due return to the publisher’s comics, and that has me just as excited about the story as anything else in this book. It brings the book into continuity, and introduces two of the more underused aspects of the Valiant universe.

Jim Towe’s art seems to fall more toward what you’d consider an “all-ages style”. The art feels like it came from a Saturday morning cartoon aimed toward older kids, which I love. It’s an aesthetic that fits the style and scope of the comic by being accessible without sacrificing visual storytelling. It is never difficult to follow the events of this book, with the story moving at a fair pace and the art having a bright determination that feels effortless.

I’m one of those people who tend to shy away from all-ages comics because they’re usually not part of the main continuity of whatever universe I’m following, but with Doctor Tomorrow being another Valiant book that just happens to be all ages, that excuse to avoid the comic has gone. And I’m happy about that, because if I missed this then I’d miss a slice of fun and brightness that we all need right now.

Story: Alejandro Arbona Art: Jim Towe
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Clayton Cowles

Story: 8.9 Art: 8.9 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/14

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.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.

Shean

Star Wars Bounty Hunters #1 (Marvel)– In an in between story of the original trilogy, we find Boba on a protection job. As we find out that his personal history with the two other Bounty Hunters would conflict. As someone else from Bob’s past resurfaces, we find fan favorite Doctor Aphra looking for a high prized Bounty that puts her in a collision course with Boba. By issue’s end, Boba carrying some precious cargo himself decides to diverge his course, in hopes of meeting this person from his past. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Cable #1 (Marvel) Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto give Cable #1 a really fun, swashbuckling tone beginning with single arena combat between Cable and Wolverine. This young Cable really has a lust for life and marvels at his ability to use weapons, telekinesis, telepathy, and also dating Armor and Pixie at the same time. He’s a classic “superbrat” hero, but Duggan and Noto introduce responsibility into his life with a couple, basically teasers for this storyline and maybe even X of Swords. They’re cool, and Noto uses both a thinner and a more painterly style for the pair of teases. However, they feel a little disjointed to the main story like ending a movie with a trailer for the next one. All in all, Cable #1 has an enjoyable tone, fantastic art and colors from Phil Noto, and introduces a couple of big time threats for the old, grumpy time traveler turned douchey (with a heart of gold) whipper snapper. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Men #8 (Marvel)– X-Men #8 feels like a continuation of Jonathan Hickman’s New Mutants in space arc with art from Mahmud Asrar and guest appearances from the Summers brothers and one of my all time favorite X-supporting characters, the lovable, loquacious Broo. Broo appears in this comic because the mythical Egg King has appeared in Krakoa courtesy of the New Mutants’ space jaunt and has attracted wave after wave of Brood hoard to find it. This leads to the egg getting thrown into space, but not after Asrar ably combines horror and action storytelling in big, damn fight scene as Cyclops and Magik fight off the Brood in Krakoa. Also, there’s a lot of intergalactic politics, but the thread is more difficult to follow compared to New Mutants, and I guess I need to read “War of Kings”. However, it’s nice to see a New Mutants story metastasize into an X-Men story, and Hickman flex those Avengers instead of X-Men muscles. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Adler #2 (Titan)– Lavie Tidhar’s plot starts to unfold in Adler #2 as Irene Adler and Jane Eyre begin their cat and mouse game against Ayesha (From H. Rider Haggard’s She) and Carmilla. Tidhar and Paul McCaffrey go beyond a drawing room and turn this into a sprawling Victorian crime saga, which is its strength as Ayesha takes over Professor Moriarty’s criminal empire while Adler and Eyre search for his murderer. This comic’s weakness is the MacGuffin of “papers”, which appear at the beginning and the end of the book without any real connective tissue to what’s going on in the middle. There’s no suspense because there’s no reason to care about them other than as an opportunity to trot out cameos from Little Orphan Annie (Captured in McCaffrey’s realist style.) and Madame Curie. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

Aggretsuko #2 (Oni Press)– Jarrett Williams plays on one of the strengths of licensed comics and uses it to explore a character pairing that hasn’t showed up in the Aggretsuko TV show, Retsuko and her vapid deer co-worker, Tsunoda. Tsunoda is still a shallow character, but Williams teases out some of her backstory about how she always wanted to be fashionable, glamorous, and doesn’t mind maxing out credit cards to do so. Sarah Stern uses a pastel palette, including plenty of pinks, to make the flashback scenes pop. All in all, Aggretsuko #2 is a great satire of influencer and consumer culture where philanthropic events aren’t there to help people, but to gain followers and “clout”. Plus it has some high energy death metal growl scenes in the Aggretsuko tradition. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Decorum #1 (Image)– The new creator-owned SF comic from Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston has god-tier visuals from a painted, silent prologue basically doing conquistadors in space to a fight scene using a painted diamond as a projectile weapon. Huddleston can go from scratchy inks to full color painted visuals at the drop of the hat while Hickman’s data pages range from the macro (Factions, planets, all-important backstories) to the micro (The makeup of noodle dish the protagonist is consuming). Like most Hickman works, there’s a lot to process in Decorum #1, but he and Huddleston keep things entertaining by having plenty of cool assassins, gangsters, and space shit to go with the granular worldbuilding. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

SFSX #7 (Image)– SFSX’s first arc comes to a close with Tina Horn and Jen Hickman showing the surviving sex workers at Dirty Mind fighting the patriarchy and not winning any kind of permanent victory, but doing a kind of shot across the bow. Oppression and normalcy might still be the ruling party, but there is still room for kink and queerness out there. Hickman’s art and colors continue to match the high energy of Horn’s thriller plot, but there’s also a sadness to her work too. SFSX #7 is a strong end to the first storyline and leaves you wanting a little more. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Hawkeye Freefall #4 (Marvel)– Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt’s Hawkeye Freefall #4 really has it all: dynamic cartooning (The Hawkeye/Spider-Man hand to hand fight is a highlight), body swap hijinks, vigilante action, and awkward interpersonal dynamics. Clint’s motivation to don the Ronin costume shines clearer in this issue as he knows that the Kingpin runs the city so instead of taking him out or the Hood, he’s going to funnel the Hood’s money into a drug treatment center. He’s trying to get to the heart of the problem instead of punching things. There is quite a lot of punching as Daredevil rustles up a task force featuring such varied characters as D-Man, US Agent, Mockingbird, Falcon, and Winter Soldier, but they mostly end up getting duped by an LMD and a Skrull that Hawkeye found breakdancing awkwardly on the subway. Hawkeye Freefall expertly juggles action, comedy, and social conscience, and is easily one of my favorite Marvel releases of 2020 so far. Overall: 9.2 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 (**).

« Older Entries