Author Archives: Alex K Cossa

Those Two Geeks Special: Release Barabbas

On the docket this week: Alex chats with Liam McKenna, the creator of Release Barabbas, a webcomic detailing the life of Jesus Barabbas after he was release from Roman captivity in place of Jesus of Nazareth. You can find a sample of the webcomic below, and can find the rest at the link above.

Release barabbus 1.jpg

As always, the Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jc_hesh 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 email ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

 

Review: Ninja-K #10

NINJA-K_010_COVER-A_CAMUNCOLIFrom the encrypted files of The Ninja Programme, another secret chapter revealed! The Cold War is in full swing and the United Kingdom’s top-secret intelligence unit has come to a crossroads. As their once-elite collection of secret agents finds itself outmatched by the escalation of the United States’ H.A.R.D. Corps division, the spymasters of MI6 are about to develop a new kind of soldier for their never-ending war of global gamesmanship and international intrigue. Part man, part machine, and bound together with the most extreme technological enhancements that the 1980s have to offer, NINJA-H is faster, stronger, and deadlier than any who have come before…

Ninja-K #10 serves both as a bridge between the last arc and the one that kicks off next issue, and as a fantastic jumping on point for new readers. Christos Gage has penned a fantastic one-shot story that focuses as much on Ninja-H as it does Ninja-K; and by doing this we get a deeper understanding of where Colin King stands after all he has uncovered about MI6’s Ninja Programme. It’s a clever way of advancing the long game in the background as we’re placated with one of the more interesting agents of the Ninja Programme we’ve seen so far.

As far as superhero comics go, this is a remarkably complete offering. We’ve got the tragic story, the brilliant choreography, and a story that holds more emotional revelations than you’d expect given the ninja verses ninja set up.

Larry StromanRyan Winn and Andrew Dalhouse deliver a near flawless offering on art duties (pencils, inks and colours respectively), with only a panel or two containing slightly unnaturally posed or shaped figures. Those figures aside, each page is a masterfully composed piece of art that brings Gage’s script to a vividly brutal life. Oddly enough, the single issue story in Ninja-K #10 really is the best jumping on point you’re likely to find unless you start from the first issue (and really, I’d suggest you do if you have the means and are even a little curious).

Christos Gage has been writing some of the bet Ninjak I have ever read – this issue is a great example of that, and a great gateway to character for new readers.

Writer: Christos Gage Pencils: Larry Stroman
Inks: Ryan Winn Colours: Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 9 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

First Impressions Featuring: Fantastic Four, Oblivion Song, Red Hood, and More!

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s First Impressions where we take a look at a handful of comics in order to discern just how accessible they are for new readers, because every comic could be somebody’s first – and that’s the first question that’ll be answered with this feature. The second is whether youshould  start there because sometimes a book could be accessible to new readers but the quality could be less than average, and so each comic will receive a score out of ten based upon Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale.

Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far. All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


 

Fantastic Four #1  (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yup.
Recap & review: There’s a lot of history surrounding the Fantastic Four, and there’s a lot that has been said about why they haven’t been around the past few years, but right now none of that matter (aside from the history, maybe) because the Fantastic Four finally have their own series again. If you’re wondering what’s been going on, there’s a quick recap that covers all you need before diving into the comic proper – and this is a fantastic comic. It’s almst enough to make me want to read all the old stories! Almost (and that’s only because I don’t own them…. but there must be some on Marvel Unlimited, right?)
Rating: 8.9

Oblivion Song #6 (Image)
Can a new reader start here?
 Yes.
Recap & review: 
Nate Cole has been searching for his lost brother for ten years, saving survivors as he comes across them. Last issue he finally found him with the mysterious alternate dimension that swallowed a chunk of Philadelphia, but does his brother want to be rescued? Meanwhile, in our world, Nathan’s activities have drawn the attention of those who want him to stop… I read the last three issues of this series in one sitting, and I can’t get enough of it.
Rating: 8.7

Red Hood and the Outlaws #25 (DC)
Can a new reader start here? Uh….
Recap & review: 
One of DC’s better series for a long time, I inexplicably missed a few issues – one or two of whch would have been key to understanding this a little more than I did. That being said, what wa lost in the plot was more than made up for in the action and choreography – a book that would benefit from prior knowledge, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Rating: 7.1

Hey Kids! Comics! #1 (Image)
Can a new reader start here? |Technically, yes.
Recap & review: As a first issue, there’s no recap needed. As a history, or fictionalized retelling of history, it helps if you’re already intimately familiar with the gentlemen portrayed in this book – of course the names have been changed, which doesn’t help those without an already deep understanding, leading to the first real problem with the book. The next is that despite being hugely interested in comic book history, I struggled to get through this. It felt flat, overly wordy, and remarkably boring.
Rating: 5

Amazing Spider-Man #3 (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yeah, pretty much.
Recap & review: Perhaps one of the most surprising things about Nick Spencer’s run is that each issue feels fresh and accessible to all readers; recap or no, you can enjoy this. And if you want to look for the other two issues, feel free, but they’re not require to enjoy this comic.
Rating: 8

Bloodshot Salvation #12 (DC)
Can a new reader start here? Nope
Recap & review: I’m not entirely sure why I included the finale of Jeff Lemire’s run on this book because there’s a lot to recap, and it’ not really worth doing so for the entire run just so you can red the book. The run is great, and doesn’t deserve a nutshell retelling just for this comic.
Rating: 7.8

 

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 8/11

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.


 

Ryan C

eg6Eternity Girl #6 (DC/Young Animal)** – Certainly not a bad ending to this six-parter, but not an entirely satisfying one, either. Magdalene Visaggio pulls some Grant Morrison-esque “Lords Of Order/Lords Of Chaos” stuff out of her hat for a quick resolution that actually probably didn’t need the Deus Ex Machina as things were ramping up quite nicely without it, but other than that she wraps things up nicely enough — and Sonny Liew delivers his most eye-popping art yet with inventive page layouts, emotive facial expressions and body language, and some cool “Kirby-tech.” A fun little ride that comes to a fun little conclusion, but nothing like an essential buy. Overal: 7 Recommendation: Read

She Could Fly #2 (Dark Horse/Berger Books)** – The crown jewel in Karen Berger’s new crown so far, this engrossing four-part series is just getting better and better as it goes along. Christopher Cantwell’s complex script sees its disparate components begin to dovetail together this time out, but as intriguing as that all is, it’s the human core of the characters that makes this such a compelling read — well, that and Martin Morazzo’s gorgeously-detailed, crisply fluid art. Stunning stuff. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Lowlifes #3 (IDW)** – This fun little crime/noir series seems to be flying under the radar for the most part, and that’s a shame because it’s really solid, gripping stuff. Brian Buccellato’s crooked-cop drama takes a major twist in this penultimate installment after lots of shoe leather is spent tracking down leads, and Alexis Sentenac’s gritty, street-smart artwork is just plain perfect for this type of material. Can’t wait to see how this one wraps up! Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Daygloayhole Quarterly #2 (Silver Sprocket)** – Ben Passmore’s post-apocalyptic fable is quite possibly the most visually imaginative thing going right now, every page containing a plethora of utterly unexpected, and in many cases hitherto-unimaginable, delights for those with a warped bent to their tastes. This issue definitely has its stomach-churning moments, but that’s all part of the fun, and everything is undergirded with a deliriously deadpan sense of humor throughout. If I said comics got much better than this, I’d be lying. The best six bucks you’ll spend this week, probably even this month. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

 ASM2018003 colAmazing Spider-Man #3 (Marvel) Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley riff off both the original, kind of good Clone Saga and Spider-Man 2 in Amazing Spider-Man #3 where Peter Parker gets hit with a genetic splitter, and his clone gets all his superpowers and possibly more. Sure, Spider-Clone gets to punch a giant robot in this comic, but Ottley gets the opportunity to draw Peter in his civilian life bowling with MJ and some friends. He doesn’t have powers, and he’s okay with because maybe he can live a good life for once, have good relationships, hold down a job etc. Of course, it’s not that easy. Although Spider-Clone has Spidey’s ability to pop culture quip (The Arrested Development revival is his target.) and kick butt, there’s possibly something missing from him, and Spencer and Ottley keep this on lock just enough to hook you for the next issue.Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

 Hot Lunch Special #1 (Aftershock)– In Hot Lunch Special, Eliot Rahal and Jorge Fornes craft a fairly straightforward crime story set in the world of Midwestern prepackaged sandwiches. They don’t really settle on a protagonist just yet darting from different perspectives and make the creative choice of using a kid’s school report as exposition. This aforementioned kid gets caught in the crossfire eventually, and the intersection of mob warfare and ordinary suburban Midwestern life could pay dividends down the road. In his art, Fornes vivisects the page like the bits of bone and meat leftovers that go into the Khourys’ sandwiches and finds some disgusting juxtapositions between mass produced food and human slaughter that sets the book apart from your middle of the road crime yarn. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Titans #24 (DC)– Warhammer novelist Dan Abnetti indulges his fantasy roots in Titans #24 as the Titans face off against a failed fantasy novelist’s, Ernest Hinton’s, former creations. There are plenty of epic battles scenes to be drawn by artist Brent Peeples, including Beast Boy transforming into a unicorn, and FCO Plascencia uses a downright, demonic color palette. But the comic isn’t just hacking and slashing, there is the continued presence of the Titans’ Justice League liaison, er, babysitter Miss Martian, who keeps vetoing the team’s decisions and almost lobotomizes Hinton to take him out. Her pragmatism runs afoul of Raven’s empathy and leads to negative consequence even though the team “wins” the fight. Abnett also includes some great thoughts about escaping into a fantasy world when the real world is tough and the connection between creator and creation all in a fairly good superhero team comic. Oh, and the villain is a bisexual elf lord that hits on Nightwing so that’s fun. Overall: 8.1 Verdict: Buy

Detective Comics #986 (DC)- Detective #986 has a definite middle chapter, but Bryan Hill bolsters it with emotionally honest writing of Cassandra Cain to go with Philippe Briones’ kick ass fight choreography. This comic has a standard, stop the bomb action plot, but the real tension comes from the interpersonal clashes along the way. Barbara Gordon isn’t used to being benched so she lashes out at Black Lightning when he is mad at her at sending Cass to fight Karma. Speaking of Black Lightning, he has one great hero moment in Detective #986, and his metahuman abilities stop a threat that might have been too much for the Bat-family. All the while, Batman himself continues to get his ass handed to him and only escapes with some trickery and misdirection. The brutal, close quarters fights are really good in this comic even when the plot stalls out. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

Patrick

HeyKidsComics_01-1Hey Kids! Comics! #1 (Image) – Howard Chaykin returns with a look behind the scenes of our favourite industry, a subject he knows intimately. Interestingly, he chooses to spin his tale in non-linear fashion, hopping from 1967 to 1945 to 1965 to 2001, covering a lot of ground, starting with Broadway and ending in Hollywood. It is of course graphically sharp, and the storytelling is characteristically brisk, witty, and snarky. It’s also interesting that he chooses to include in what could have a been an all-white male cast a black man and a woman. But this is a roman à clef, and if you didn’t already know the stories of Matt Baker, Flo Steinberg, Gil Kane, Siegel & Shuster, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby et.al., I think you would easily get lost. Without a central protagonist, the main character is the American comics industry itself, which is a pretty big forest to get lost in. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Joe

Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel) – There has been so much hype and waiting for this series that it could have disappointed greatly. Really, the first issue didn’t need to a do a ton, but just give us back the fantastic family so many of us love, and then set up some new wild adventures through dimensions, time, and space. Well, this issue mostly does that, and the ending is wonderful. Slott and Pichelli seem ready to take on the huge task of handing Marvel’s first family with a great set-up and some fun art that works for the FF_COVERseries. This is a fantastic first issue. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

The Sandman Universe #1 (Vertigo) – You always worry about such a classic series continuing without the original writer, but I am happy to say Gaiman has put this universe in some good hands so far. It may be only one issue to set up the four series that are coming, but each one of them left me with mystery and left me wanting more. The main story is such an interesting premise that I won’t spoil, and I am dying to know what is happening, and why the main character made choices he may have made. I am absolutely on board. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Superman #2 (DC) – We are now a few issues into Bendis-Supes (BendiSupes?) and I am enjoying it. There is more set up in this issue that sees the Earth in The Phantom Zone, the return of the new big bad from the Man of Steel mini-series, and Lois and Jon still off somewhere with Clark’s father, with no way to communicate with them. It was really good to see Supes vulnerable, yet so focused on his task in this issue. For a moment you can see a worried father and husband, but he quickly snaps back his attention to fix the massive mess he and The Justice League are in as his friends and all of humanity need him now more than ever. This is when Supes is at his best. A heart of gold, and a fist of steel. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Plastic Man #3 (DC) – I enjoyed the previous two issues more than this one, but it still had some fun moments. As always with Plastic Man, the forms he takes and sight gags are sometimes the best moments, and I am happy to report some of those are ridiculous and fun. The ending sets up something pretty potentially great for the next few issues that should hopefully wrap this mini-series nicely. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: 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 (**).

Underrated: Pride Of Baghdad

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: Pride of Baghdad



Prideofbaghdad.jpgPublished by Vertigo  in 2006, Pride of Baghdad is graphic novel that tells the story of four lions who escaped the Baghdad zoo after an American bombing in 2003. Although the tale is based on a true story, the points of view it is told from trend further toward fiction than truth. Written by Brian K Vaughn, with art by Nico Henrichon the graphic novel actually won IGN’s “Best Original Graphic Novel” award the year it was released, but there has been very little chatter about the book since – though my benchmark for that is the fact I found the book in a thrift shop for $5 and had never heard of it before, and so twelve years after it was released, I wanted to let you know about the book.

I’m a little behind.

Pride of  Baghdad can be enjoyed on multiple levels, making it the rare book that can provide a different story each time you read it depending on what you want to take away from it. If you’re looking for a family’s tale of survival in a strange and barely familiar world then you will find that here. If you want a questioning look at the nature of freedom, war, family, captivity… then you will also be able to experience that. Vaughn and Henrichon were able to deliver a multifaceted book that offers an astoundingly deep story juxtaposed against a survivalist tale that works even if you don’t want to delve further into the commentary on the deeper aspects of the tale – it’s also possible that you simply didn’t pick up on that commentary – no judgement here. I didn’t the first time I read it, which leads me to my final point: the more you read this, the better it gets.

Pride of Baghdad is a phenomenal work, and it’s featured here because I had never heard about it until I saw it in the thrift shop – that’s why this is Underrated.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Review: Bloodshot Salvation #12

BSS_012_COVER-A_ROCAFORTBloodshot has traveled from the depths of the Deadside to the far-flung future of 4002 A.D. to save his daughter’s life…and spare her the murderous inheritance of the nanites that flow through both their veins. Now, stranded at the crossroads of the 41st century with one last mission between them and freedom, the question will finally be answered: Was it all for naught?

That’s a question that you’ll be asking yourself after reading this comic. It’s not that Bloodshot Salvation #12 is a bad comic, but it’s a comic that takes the series out on a half-hearted bang rather than the explosive finale that we as readers were expecting given all the build up and tension layered through the series thus far. Maybe the issue wasn’t long enough, maybe Jeff Lemire had too many loose ends to wrap up fully and still allow room for the action to fully percolate. Maybe I expect more out of Lemire than I do any other writer (which is true) and so when he delivers a comic that’s not as good as some of his other work on the character it’s noticeable. Either way, although this is a good comic, it’s not a great comic.

Reservations with the comic’s plotting aside, there are several scenes that, while they could have benefited from further expansion, are still worth reading the comic for; Doug Braithwaite and Jordie Bellaire send the comic off on a high note, with the action easy to follow with some gorgeously brutal set pieces (or the results of off screen violence) that leave the reader with a moment of satisfaction as one plot thread after another is smoothly wrapped up into Lemire’s Bloodshot tapestry. Yes, there are a couple threads left open for further exploration in the future, but never at the expense of a complete story being told here. The world and the people in it will move on, and whether we get to see their next adventures all depend on the direction Valiant want to take with the next chapter in Blodshot’s life coming later this year.

Ultimately, Bloodshot Salvation #12 just doesn’t have the page count to allow it to end as well as it could have, with the standard number of pages leading to a truncated ending, and the unanswered question of what could have been had Lemire and the others been allowed another five to ten pages.

Story: Jeff Lemire Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

First Impressions Featuring: Spiders, Bats and Hawks, oh my!

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s First Impressions where we take a look at a handful of comics in order to discern just how accessible they are for new readers, because every comic could be somebody’s first – and that’s the first question that’ll be answered with this feature. The second is whether youshould  start there because sometimes a book could be accessible to new readers but the quality could be less than average, and so each comic will receive a score out of ten based upon Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale.

Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far. All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


 

Amazing Spider-Man #2  (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yup.
Recap & review: I enjoyed most of Dan Slott’s run on the character, but I am really loving Nick Spencer’s tenure. Granted, it’s only two issues in, but this is an absolute blast from start to finish. (There’s a much better recap provided in the comic than any I’d give here, so rest assured you’ll be fine going into the comic).
Rating: 8.9

Batman #52 (DC)
Can a new reader start here? Yes.
Recap & review: Bruce Wayne is called to jury duty for a triple homicide committed by Mr. Freeze, and after hearing the evidence the jury are almost unanimous in their decision. Unanimous aside from Bruce Wayne…?
Rating: 8.7

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #22 (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yeah, pretty much.
Recap & review: It has been a long time since I read a Scarlet Spider book, going back to the time when Kaine starred in twenty odd issues as the titular character – a run that remains one of my favourites to this day. For some reason, it took me longer than it should have to pick this up, so I was a touch oblivious going into this. Thankfully, you can pick this up fairly easily based on the recap text and a willingness to just go with the flow.
Rating: 8

Hawkman #2 (DC)
Can a new reader start here? Yeah, pretty much.
Recap & review: Hawkman looks for a key to his past in an oddly intriguing comic that you don’t want to think about too hard; just enjoy the visuals and read with an open mind.
Rating: 7.8

Astonishing X-Men #14 (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yes.
Recap & review: Hawkman looks for a key to his past in an oddly intriguing comic that you don’t want to think about too hard; just enjoy the visuals and read with an open mind.
Rating: 7.8

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/28

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.


 

Ryan C

BM_Cv52Mister Miracle #10 (DC)** – With just two issues to go after this one, Tom King and Mitch Gerads make the curious decision to tread water, basically showing Scott and Barda ruminating over the last installment’s cliffhanger for 22 pages, before they finally launch a fairly basic plan to get out of the jam they’re stuck in that they could have come up with in just a few minutes. This series had a lot of potential at the start, but the downhill trajectory of the story (the art is still great) simply can’t be ignored at this point. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Pass

Batman #52 (DC)** – Speaking of Tom King, he’s doing an okay job milking a clever, if gimmicky, premise with this little arc — Bruce Wayne gets saddled with jury duty and uses it to undo a wrong he committed as Batman — but it feels like a single-issue story spread way too thin. Lee Weeks’ art is more than solid, as usual, especially in the fight scenes with Mr. Freeze, but this isn’t anything more than competently-executed stuff, and with this book now carrying a $3.99 price tag while still coming out twice a month, readers deserve better. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Xerxes: The Fall Of The House Of Darius And The Rise Of Alexander #5 (Dark Horse)** – Thank God this is over. Frank Miller’s health has been poor (although apparently improving recently), and it shows in every confused, sloppy page of this comic. His compositions are haphazard, his scripting lifeless and uninspired, and his figure work slapdash and harried. Dark Horse should have just paid Miller a “kill fee” for this rather than allow him to publicly embarrass himself like this. The whole debacle really reflects more poorly on them as a publisher than it does on Miller’s diminished skills, which really can’t be helped at this point. Overall: 0 Recommendation: Pass

The Quantum Age #2 (Dark Horse) – I’m reasonably impressed by how thoroughly Dark Horse has managed to “franchise out” the so-called “Black Hammer Universe” while maintaining the quality of both the main title and all its various and sundry spin-offs. In the second issue of this futuristic take on the characters and concepts we know and love, call-backs to the present day abound while the main narrative moves forward at a very pleasing clip. Jeff Lemire’s script is simple and tight, Wilfredo Torres’ art is perfect for the material — this is a comic firing on all cylinders. Overall 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

The-Raid-1-preview-2-600x911Justice League #5 (DC)- In easily the best issue of this sadly average series, James Tynion and Doug Mahnke unfurl the curtain on why Lex Luthor went from reluctant heroism in Action Comics/No Justice/other Rebirth appearances to pure villainy in Justice League. It involves a trip to the future, all kinds of daddy problems, and plenty of nods to the Superfriends cartoon. Justice League #5 adds scaffolding and personality to all the crazy concepts in the first four issues of JL, and Mahnke does it in his usual blockbuster fashion. Having a fully engaged, fully evil Lex and Gorilla Grodd at the height of their powers is a pure thrill ride of id. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Batman #52 (DC)– Tom King, Lee Weeks, and Elizabeth Breitweiser continue their jury room deconstruction of Batman in Batman #52 that turns into a confessional when Bruce Wayne admits that sometimes he feels the grief and pain of loss (His parents, Selina etc.) and goes too far. He spends the issue putting his detective mind to work and showing that there’s reasonable doubt in the case, and maybe Batman isn’t infallible. I find it really interesting that King and Weeks portray Batman in the eyes of ordinary Gothamites as a kind of unbeatable badass like he is to many people through pop culture. Weeks continue to excel on the art front from the subtle shifts in body language during the deliberations to the more stylized beatdowns as Batman beats Mr. Freeze to a pulp, and Breitweiser’s palette is just black and crimson. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

The Raid #1 (Titan) Ollie Masters and Budi Setiawan’s comic set in the same universe as the cult martial arts action film has plenty of visceral action, nine panel grids, and an overload of red from colorist Brad Simpson. It’s a pretty cut and dried fight comic. Nothing terrible, but nothing fancy. Overall: 6 Verdict: Pass

Captain America #2 (Marvel) After an action/conspiracy packed first issue, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu slow down a bit and get meditative about Steve’s feelings on the whole Secret Empire ordeal and all the super soldiers springing up after him. The army of Nukes that keep popping up at inopportune times aren’t just cannon fodder to show off Yu’s action chops, but reminders of his not so shiny legacy. In addition to this, Coates gives Steve and Sharon Carter a fantastic chemistry they haven’t really had since the Ed Brubaker days as they deeply care about each other even though they’re on opposite “sides” of an issue. On a more shallow note, Leinil Yu’s take on Steve Rogers is very hot. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Patrick

StrayBulletsSNR_37-1New Teen Titans vol 9 (DC)** – With “The Terror of Trigon” from 1984/85, we see the end of the Wolfman/Perez era, and, as I’ve written elsewhere, the end of the story of Raven and her team. Robin has become Nightwing; Kid Flash has retired; Wonder Girl has found her true identity and gotten married. So what happens when Titans’ Tower is gone and our teen heroes are acclaimed as the saviours of New York? We take a breather, go camping and share their worries and fears as they renew the bonds of their friendship, in a very nice story. Then we are treated to a run with art by the great José Luis Garcia-Lopez where we tie the mysterious Lilith to the Titans of Myth – which could have been a really great run if Wolfman could have just focused on it. Instead, we get the introduction of not one, but two characters who do absolutely nothing for the story: the (so far) unnamed alien angel guy and Kole. Without them, we have an absolutely epic battle of titans and gods that nicely resolves the first Titans of Myth story from NTT #12 and sets up a group of corporate 80’s villains that could also have been quite interesting. I think that Wolfman could honestly have spent the next couple of years just wrapping up and developing all of the storylines and characters from the first five years of the series. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy (you can never have enough JLGL art)

 Stray Bullets #37 (El Capitàn/Image)** – Is this the end for Orson, Beth, and Nina? Orson and Beth hit the road to make a deal to save Nina, and along the way, Beth has to confront her own bad self (who seems to be talking to her through Orson’s car radio). Once they do rescue Nina, Beth knows that it’s only a matter of time before safety turns into boredom, and that the person the gang most needs rescuing from is Beth herself. And that takes everyone literally off the beaten patch and rolling into a ditch. David Lapham, ladies and gentlemen. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy 

Bubba Ho-Tep #2 (IDW)** – Elvis and the team move into their new, and of course haunted, headquarters, and we get a sense of what’s going on and the price that has to be paid. As the King sang, what I needed in this was a little less conversation, a little more action: there is a lot of talk and explanation and setup here, without actually going and exploring this house and everything that has come to nest there. I basically like what writer Joshua Jabcuga and artist Tadd Galusha are doing here, but this issue is too passive and padded for my taste. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Pass

The Seeds #1 (Dark Horse) – Ann Nocenti and David Aja. Oh, not enough for you? Fine then. Astra is a journalist on this side of the Wall, trying to sell enough clickbait to her outlet to finance a trip to the other side. On the other side? They say they’re neo-luddites with no tech. But they may be something else entirely: something collecting the seeds of humanity. Nocenti’s always-remarkable writing here is pure noir: terse and gritty and tense. And David Aja’s art is extraordinary: not only in his signature chiaroscuro style, but his storytelling and character acting are compelling, drawing us into the emotional worlds of the people at the heart of a thousand-ideas-a-minute story. Absolutely compelling and a must-buy. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy.

Mr. H

mrmiracle_10.jpgMister Miracle #10 (DC Comics) I will say it again. Tom King manages to put out masterful work on these pages. The way he is able to make these Gods have every day problems and relate to our humanity, is astounding. Mitch Gerards is so very talented but King’s words really transport me. I love the layout of the book. This is by far my favorite issue yet. You feel like Barda and Scott are real life people and not just all powerful beings. The way they have to choose between relinquishing their only child to stop all out war is heartbreaking. It puts Scott at such a loss that he even opens to a complete stranger behind the counter just to get a possible piece of advice. You really get the sense that it is the hardest choice one would ever have to make. I like how it calls our own humanity into question. If this was your child would you keep him or surrender him so the lives of countless others can be saved? We are all going to have different answers and interpretations here. That’s the hallmark of great comics. It really matters to each one different. I know what choice I would make and would hope God would have mercy on my soul. I love everything about this issue. The dialogue, pictures, little Easter eggs here and there and of course the Batman cake because what kid even that of a god doesn’t like Batman. Overall: This is the book I’m taking on a desert island. Art: 10 Story: 10 Score: 10. There is nothing wrong about this book. Buy it, buy it

 



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 (**).

Underrated: The Death Defying Doctor Mirage

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: The Death Defying Doctor Mirage



dddm.jpgDoctor Mirage real name Hwen Mirage, first appeared in Shadowman #16 during Valiant’s first run at publishing comics, eventually getting an eighteen issue series in the form of The Second Life Of Doctor Mirage that ran from 1993-1995. The character was a parapsychologist along with his wife Carmen Ruiz who ran afoul of Master Darque a few times.   After the relaunch in 2012, Doctor Mirage reappeared, quite fittingly, in Shadowman #5 as Shan Fong, a scientist and paranormal investigator searching for the spirit of her deceased husband Hwen.

All of that is more than I knew going into The Death Defying Doctor Mirage, a trade that I got in a buy one get one deal at my LCS (the one I intended to buy was Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado). I was on the fence with this one as I had tried reading an issue of The Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives but struggled to get into the story (probably because it was the second issue of the sequel story, if I had to make a guess). With a TV series recently commissioned, I figured I’d best give the series another shot.

So what’s the story about?

Doctor Mirage talks to the dead… but the only spirit Shan Fong can’t find is that of her late husband, Hwen. Instead, America’s favorite semi-retired paranormal investigator is haunted and raw, using her gift to solve homicides and bring peace to the recently bereaved. But when a big-time occultist with a classified military past hires her for a special job, Shan discovers a lead that might close the greatest mystery she’s ever tackled – how to get Hwen back! Now, Doctor Mirage must enter the undiscovered country and cross all the realms of the underworld if she has any hope of rescuing the man she loves…or be forever lost beyond the earthly plane.

I was hesitant when going into this book, but I needn’t have been. The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is perfectly suited to  new readers, whether you’re familiar with Valiant or not, and for those of you who  enjoy reading a complete story in one go, you’ll be super happy with this. Although there is room for a sequel, there isn’t one of those obnoxious cliff hanger endings that drive you bonkers in a miniseries.

No, what you get with The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is a really engaging story with a lot of supernatural elements that shouldn’t deter you if that isn’t your cup of tea because they end up allowing Roberto De La Torre and David Baron the opportunity to run absolutely wild with some fantastical colours and environs to bring Jan Van Meter‘s story to life. Shan Fong is a brilliant character, and the glimpses I had seen of her in other issues as she made cameo appearances didn’t prepare me for how much I enjoyed her snark, her heart and an innate sense of Indiana Jones style of gambling and reckless sense of abandon that brings the story together into a crazy mix of the supernatural adventures, a gentle horror element all set against the underlying love story between Hwen and Shan.

I really enjoyed this book – far more than I expected to. So why is it today’s subject? Because I hear very few people talk about Doctor Mirage with the enthusiasm the character deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

First Impressions Featuring: Bones and Romans

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s First Impressions where we take a look at a handful of comics in order to discern just how accessible they are for new readers, because every comic could be somebody’s first – and that’s the first question that’ll be answered with this feature. The second is whether youshould  start there because sometimes a book could be accessible to new readers but the quality could be less than average, and so each comic will receive a score out of ten based upon Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale.

Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far. All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


 

Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #1 (Valiantl)
Can a new reader start here? Yup.
Recap & review: Although this is the third volume of the series, it’s still a good point to jump in. There’s a pretty solid recap page that establishes Antonius as a man who uses logic in an illogical time, which is really the basis of the book. The rest you can pick up as you go along.
Rating: It rounds up to a 9 (which is another way of saying the book grew on me after the initial review).

Bone Parish #1 (Boom)
Can a new reader start here? Yes.
Recap & review: I opened the cover to this without any preconceived idea as to what this was about and was quickly taken off guard by the story. A drug that gives you very real hallucinations, a mysterious manufacturing process and a surprising twist after every few pages leaves this as a must read book..
Rating: 8.7

X-23 #1 (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Sure.
Recap & review: I stopped reading All-New Wolverine shortly after it began and never really went back to Laura Kinney’s story until today. And now I’m wondering why I stopped.
Rating: 8

Mr. and Mrs. X  #1 (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yes.
Recap & review: So Gambit and Rogue are finally married… and the issue is both entertaining and a gives me a reason to start reading X-Men comics again.
Rating: 8.9

Justice League Dark #1 (DC)
Can a new reader start here? 
Without too much trouble, yes.
Recap & review: 
In a nutshell, magic is broken, and Wonder Woman aims to gather a team and find out why. This opening book is solid, and certainly worth a look if you want a bit of a different flavour with your Justice League.
Rating: 8.1

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