Author Archives: Alex K Cossa

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/17

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

KillOrBeKilled_16-1Kill or Be Killed #16 (Image)– A copycat vigilante is on the loose and causing all kinds of havoc plus there’s a real mind screw of an ending, but what Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser do best in Kill or Be Killed #16 is show the haze of being on medication. Dylan has come clean about the demon telling him to kill people so he gets put on meds to block out the voices in his head. Most of the issue is him stumbling about with Phillips tightening up his art when Dylan’s sense of justice returns. Even though he’s a murderer, Dylan thinks he’s better than the guy haphazardly running around shooting low level drug dealers and cops. The moral compass of the series continues to be shattered and adding the psych hospital elements is a nice wrinkle. Overall 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Archie #28 (Archie)– Full disclosure: I’m only still reading this title for Audrey Mok’s beautiful art as she and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick lends some energy Mark Waid and Ian Flynn’s repetitive slapstick gags and give Betty and Veronica sizzleworthy chemistry. It’s like Waid and Flynn don’t know what to write with the Betty/Veronica/Archie on ice for the time being. Some fun is coaxed out of Reggie’s pure villainy including being on his cellphone for an entire movie based on Archie’s Dark Circle comics and then spoiling the post credits scene. Overall: 6.7 Verdict: Read

Kick-Ass #1 (Image)– There’s a new Kick-Ass in town, and it’s not some annoying, immature nerdy kid. Patience is an Army vet whose husband ran off on her and left her in debt to the gangs who run her neighborhood. She wants to get the money back while also playing Robin Hood and giving some of it to the people who need it. Patience’s motivation might be practical, but John Romita Jr’s art is stylized as hell with action scenes that pack a punch. Mark Millar’s writing is a little more mature than the earlier Kick-Asses even if he paints things like poverty, racism, and terrorism with a very broad brush for an excuse to show a now-single mom kick bad guys in the balls. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Ryan C

Deadman #4 (DC)** – The brain-melting insanity from Neal Adams continues unabated, with the added bonus of the plot making as little sense as the dialogue at this point. To deadman 4his credit, Adams is still capable of the occasional dynamic composition, but by and large his artistic prowess seems to be skewing toward finding a level with whatever writing ability he may possess (which, admittedly, isn’t much). All of which means this is about the most fun you’re gonna have reading a comic book this week. The absurdity is all right out in the open, not pretending to be anything else, and the idea of grown-ass adults putting on costumes to fight crime? It’s as absurd as it gets.Neal Adams cuts right through the layers of bullshit and denial super-hero fans have constructed around themselves and is creating work that explodes conventions by laying them bare. He may be doing it all by accident while actually trying his level best to create a “good” comic here, but some things leave the entire critical spectrum behind by dint of their sheer indifference to it. Adams is making comics for an audience of one — himself. You know who else they say that about? Genuine iconoclasts as varied as Gerald Jablonski, S. Clay Wilson, Chester Brown, and the late Jess Johnson — pretty good company to be in. Overall: 0. Recommendation: Buy. You did not read that wrong.

Grass Kings #12 (Boom! Studios)** – It feels like things are moving faster in Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ quiet-but-tense opus, and with the Feds about to rain down holy Hell on the so-called “Grass Kingdom,” the stakes are considerably raised. This series could use a stronger editor — Kindt’s scripting repeats words and phrases in short order and with poor rhythm, and points already made are frequently re-iterated — but that’s about the only gripe I’ve got, and Jenkins’ watercolor-infused art is more than enough to make up for any slack in the narrative act. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Slots #5 (Image/Skybound)** – Dan Panosian’s story of a down-on-his-luck prizefighter attempting an ill-advised comeback for dubious reasons had been flagging a bit over the last couple of issues, but with only one left to go, he rights the ship quickly and lines up all the pieces on his board for what promises to be a humdinger of a conclusion. I was getting a little nervous about this one, now I’m not. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy

Shade, The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1 (DC/Young Animal)** – The first few pages of this comic, which feature Wonder Woman laying around naked in a milk bath wearing a blindfold, should appeal to any number of fetishists out there, but beyond that the appeal of the issue quickly fades — the allegories about women fragmenting themselves into different roles that others “need” them to be, while certainly true, are here entirely too obvious and frankly not even clever, which sets the tone for an uncharacteristically predictable yarn from the usually-surprising Cecil Castellucci. I liked Mirka Andolofo’s art — hell, I liked it a lot — but, as with last week’s dept h 23“Mother Panic/Batman Special,” it’s asked to stretch itself pretty think in order to pad what should be a standard-length story out by an extra 10 or 12 pages. I dunno, the whole “Milk Wars” thing was kinda fun at first, but my interest level is fading quickly. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass.

Christopher

Dept H #23 (Dark Horse) With humanity’s hope riding on Mia, she puts things into perspective to put her mind off her limited air supply. Revealing what may be the cause of her father murder. Along with hinting at what may have caused the plot to murder her father began. Being subtle at who she believes is responsible both directly and indirectly. With only one issue remaining, will the full truth be revealed? Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy 

Patrick

I Hate Fairyland #16 (Image)** – Gertie has gone to hell and is not having any of the devil’s muffin fluffing nonsense. So he sends her back home – in a sequence that, as a parent of a somewhat fussy eater, is terrifying and hilarious. I would actually have liked to see more of Gert and the devil squaring off – seeing Gert vulnerable and emotional is kind of off-putting. But as usual, Skottie Young’s art is stellar and well worth any story quibbles. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy.

Kill or be Killed #16 (Image)** – With a copycat vigilante on the loose in New York, Dylan’s claims to be the original while in Bellevue are met with heavy medication. I don’t know if anyone else has thought of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” meets “Death Wish” before but I am down with this. Ed Brubaker could go darker for my money (even though he is setting up some pretty dark stuff), but artists Sean Phillips and Elizabeth IHateFairyland_16-1Breitweiser continue to do brilliant work. Breitweiser’s colors here – muted grays and browns and institution green – are perfect. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Koshchei the Deathless #2 (Dark Horse)** – Mike Mignola continues the story of Baba Yaga’s hired man and his mission to rid the world of the last dragon. The folk tale style of the story really pleases me – even though we are on a definite quest, there are any number of interesting side tracks and they don’t all feed into the plot as such. But Mignola is such a good writer that as soon as we do get back to the main plot, things get intense very fast. Ben Stenbeck’s drawing perfectly straddles the line where realistic adventure and great monsters meet, and Dave Stewart’s colors capture the banality of a long walk through the woods and the brutality of dragon-fighting. Very entertaining. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy 

Stray Bullets #32 (Image)** – Orson, Beth, and Nina have taken the money and run. But as Orson quickly points out, “We did all this robbing and stealing to be free, but we aren’t free at all, are we?” So Beth sends Orson back home to Baltimore. After checking on the motley crew we’d left behind, we settle in with Chandra from the strip club that started this whole ordeal. Predictably, there are drugs and fires. But in the end, Orson pulls one of his signature moves – what I now think of as Laphamian – a great idea that is also at the same time a terrible idea. Stray Bullets is all about terrible people trying to convince themselves otherwise by occasionally doing the right thing, and that’s just the way I like it. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Mage: the Hero Denied #6 (Image)** – As is by now usual, Kevin Matchstick does nothing but wait for signs and trails to follow. As a main character who is supposed to be the Pendragon, he is merely passive and reactive – which makes his wife Magda far and away the most dramatically interesting character in this series. Her quest for the Perfect Home is simple and clear, and the stakes – the lives and happiness of her children – are very high. More of this and less of Questing Beasts and the Fisher King until Kevin can actually figure out why he’s in this story. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Lazarus X+66 #6 (Image)** – In the final issue of this spinoff series, the Hunter goes to kill the Dragon aka The Zmey. As usual in the world of Lazarus, things are much more horrible than they initially appear to be – which is really saying something. Making this origin story a kind of Russian folktale is perfect for the utter brutality and fatalism involved, and Greg Rucka pulls it off nicely. I wasn’t thrilled Tristan Jones’ artwork here, something in the sketchiness of his lines muddied the storytelling for me, with all details given the same weight. But that Michael Lark cover! Very much looking forward to the return of the main series. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Shean

ThrawnCoverStar Wars Thrawn#1 (Marvel) In probably one of the better origin stories to come out of Marvel, we get one about Timothy Zahn’s most elusive villains. We meet Thrawn as squadron of Storm troopers, but unfortunate for him, he gets captured and has a proposal for the Emperor, one that is easily accepted. We soon see how manipulates everyone around him to gets what he wants. By issue’s end, he undertakes his 1st mission , one that will change his fortune. Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

X-Men : Grand Design #1 and #2 (Marvel) I will keep this one short and not because this book is bad, in fact this book is pretty spectacular, but this book covers the whole history of the X-men and in probably the most enjoyable digestible version, asthese first 2 issues exemplifies the benefits of this type of compression combined with Pistons art knocks this out of the park. Overall: 10 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 (**).

Those Two Geeks Episode Seventeen: The One Where We Ramble

On the docket this week: The geeks are back after a sickness based absence (flu) and start talking about Batman #40, Superman #39, Gotham By Gaslight and Black Panther.

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.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week in the future!

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 300 For January

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 Diamonds top 100 sellers for October.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, 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 300 in sales.

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list, but the only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 300 for January’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.

fighting american 4Fighting American #4 (Titan Comics)
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 410 /1,838
A continuation of Kirby and Simon’s original series that finds the 50’s heroes (and villains) in the modern day, this series has been an off beat hero-out-of-time style romp that fans of Kirby and/or Simon should be checking out.

Comic Book History Of Comics: Comics For All #2 (IDW) 
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 401 /1,999
What better way to explore the history of  comics than via comics? This well researched and engaging series is a fantastic window into the history of comics; there is a lack of focus on some artist and creators, but as a stepping stone into comic book history then this is as good a place as any to start.

Walt Disney Comics And Stories #741 (IDW)
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 361 /2,863
Innocent, entertaining and a perfect break from some of the more universe spanning multi-part epics from other publishers. A not so guilty pleasure of mine.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit: Corpsemakers #5 (Dynamite)
January Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 314 /3,829
The conclusion to the miniseries that will pull you away from traditional capes and tights and back into the Spirit’s noirish world. It’d be a much better idea for you to pick up the full series, or the eventual trade, than starting with this issue – but then whatever floats your boat, right?


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: Ninja-K #4

NINJA-K_004_COVER-A_CAFU

At the height of 1970s Britain, MI-6’s covert “Ninja Programme” has just activated its first female agent: NINJA-G! As financial instability grips the nation and anarchy brews in the streets, can MI-6’s newest ninja recruit counter a steady tide of double agents, double crosses, and dueling nation states that will take her from the leather-padded corridors of London to the most severe corners of the Soviet Bloc? The life expectancy of a ninja agent is never long…but just how and why are NINJA-G’s missions still impacting Ninjak’s deadly manhunt in the modern day? And could her legacy hold the secret to decoding the murders of the Ninja Programme’s last surviving members – before Colin King is scratched off the list once and for all?

Now that Ninja-K has been told that MI6 has been manipulating his life, and the lives of all previous Ninja Programme operatives, he’s doing what anyone should before reacting with the lethal effectiveness he is known for; obtaining proof. Enter the reclusive Ninja-G and her seventies-set story. Although you’ll want to be familiar with the previous three issues for Ninja-K’s story, you’re still able to pick up and enjoy this issue if you want to read about a capable, kick ass former ninja.

There’s not a whole lot to talk about with the comic itself, honestly. Ninja-K #4 is a solid entry into the series, and meets the high standards set by the first three issues; the main story is a slowly burning flame that rewards patience with an intelligently written script that has refused to rush from action scene to action scene needlessly. Christos Gage knows how to tease a story along without prolonging it needlessly – I’m enjoying the first arc and almost don’t want to see the arc come to a close.

Ninja-K #4 is, to borrow a sports analogy, a solid scoring triple. A few seconds from a home run, but damn close (I don’t do sports much – was that right?)

Story: Christos Gage Juan Jose Ryp Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse
Back Up Story Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bloodshot Salvation #6

BSS_006_COVER-A_ROCAFORT

“Into the Deadside! Years ago, Project Rising Spirit’s cutting-edge nanite technology transformed Ray Garrison into the walking weapon codenamed Bloodshot. Now, those very same microscopic machines have infected his infant daughter’s physiology and threaten to destroy her from the inside out. As the life of an innocent hangs in the balance, Bloodshot will be forced to make an unimaginable decision: to watch the child he loves die, or to confront death itself…and strike a bargain for her safety. Now, with the supernatural heroes known as Shadowman and Dr. Mirage to guide him, Bloodshot is about to undertake an unreal journey into the demon-haunted dimension known as the Deadside to save a life…or sacrifice his own…”

Full disclosure: I have already read Bloodshot Salvation #7 as part of Valiant’s advanced review program to garner some buzz for the issue (it worked, and I loved the concept of that comic). The downside to this is that I already knew where this issue would end up, and if you’ve read any of the previews for #7 then you do too. The downside to this is that I spent the entire comic waiting for something else to happen, and nothing really drew my attention away from that wait. That being said, unless you’ve already read that issue then the above is honestly a moot point, and there’s still a lot to enjoy about Bloodshot Salvation #6.

Jeff Lemire is about as average as he knows how to be here, which is still a damn sight better than at least 80% of the other writers in comic book land. But despite not being a standout issue in a series that has habitually been among the best comic in the week of release, this remains a must read for those invested in the series and for any with a passing interest in the character. Lemire takes Bloodshot through the motions toward the inevitable as he prepares to do anything to save his daughter, there are a couple of cameo appearances from other stars of the Valiant universe that provide some of the stronger character moments.

Visually Renato Guedes is near flawless on this book with art that, at times, borders on photo realism. It’s truly fantastic stuff full of dark atmosphere, tense mood and raw emotion. Honestly, there’s very little here that doesn’t justify the price of admission alone (Guedes art is the only reason I read the physical copy I picked up on Wedesday).

A comic that, through no fault of its own, struggles in comparison to an issue that 90% of you won’t have read yet (but you will next month) is still a very good read nonetheless. Start reading this story now, and be prepared for one of the best issues of the year next month.

Writer: Jeff Lemire Art: Renato Guedes
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

DC Rebirth Roundup: Feb 7th’s Comics

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s DC Rebirth: Recap And Review where we take a look at the comics released under DC‘s Rebirth banner and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers – 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.

Each comic will receive a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly based on how easy it was for new readers to pick them up; the ratings are based solely on the issues released in the post-Rebirth ongoing series. More consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. You’ll also notice that each comic will get a rating that falls on Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

Not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I  sometimes forget to read them  (although that doesn’t happen often), or I really can’t bring myself to pick up the issue. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


 

BM_Cv40_varBatman #40 The conclusion to a two part arc (ignore the “part four” on the cover- the first two parts have nothing to do with the second two other than they share a slight thematic similarity) that saw Batman and Wonder Woman fighting a horde of demons for 37 years in a place where time is frozen while the usual horde fighter, the Gentle Man, takes a rare break to see his wife. The first part wasn’t great, but the arc is redeemed with this issue. It’s sorta Friendly, but another win for Tom King. 8/10

Deathstroke #28 I’d give you a recap if I knew what the hell was going on anymore. This issue is a touch Unfriendly due to it’s reliance on previous events in the story, but  not bad over all. 6.5/10

Green Arrow #37 There’s a lot to get through here so that you get the basis of the story… but it can be narrowed down to this: Ollie Queen is on trial for murder, the victim is in shock from what actually happened to her (she was sold to people traffickers) so Ollie won’t make her stand as a witness. On top of that, his mother who is suddenly not dead, is i league with the people who framed him, the Ninth Circle, and is about to offer them a significant sum of money. Oh, and Malcolm Merlyn just shot Ollie’s sister with an arrow. This may not be too Friendly, but you can still read this comic and enjoy it. 8/10

Green Lanterns #40 A new story line dealing with the trafficking of superheroes starts here, and because it is the first part in the story, the comic is Friendly7.5/10

Justice League #38 I have no idea what’s happening here. Priest is a good writer, but he’s near unpenetrable if you miss a few issues in a row – but when you catch his entire run, then it’s well worth reading (in trade or in floppy as long as you get it all).

Nightwing #38 Nightwing is up against the Judge, a manipulative villain who can make people do almost anything in return for their deepest desires. A man with whom Dick Grayson has history, and feels responsible for every life on the Judge’s hands. The comic is kinda Friendly, and worth reading. 7/10

Superan #40 Another new and subsequently Friendly issue. 7.5/10


That’s a wrap for this week folks. I’ll see you next time!

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/10

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.


 

Jon

DSK_Cv28Deathstroke #28 (DC): This is probably the best starting place you’re going to get on this series as Slade Wilson deals with the fallout from last week’s annual. Unfortunately it feels a bit like watching a random episode of an ongoing soap opera. Christopher Priest is one of our best writers but he’s not one to hold the hands of new readers. There’s plenty of action and a few good character bits. Diognes Neves’ art is good but not particularly remarkable. You’re better off starting with the first trade if you haven’t been reading from day one. Rating: 7 Recommendation: Buy.

Swamp Thing Winter Special (DC): I’ve never understood the appeal of Tom King and the late Len Wein. I don’t dispute that they’re good writers but they’re just not my thing. That said I love Swamp Thing so I was interested to read this especially after the attrocity that was Young Monsters In Love. It’s okay but it doesn’t come close to touching Alan Moore or Scott Snyder’s run or even Wein’s seminal work on the character with co-creator Bernie Wrightson. Nothing really grabbed me about either King’s story of Swamp Thing in a blizzard or Wein’s final script presented as he left it without dialog and illustrated by Kelley Jones (one of the few artists who could possibly hold a candle to Wrightson). It’s not bad but it’s not particularly memorable either. Rating: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Vs #1 (Image): Since there’s nothing particularly original about the concept (war as entertainment) execution is key and fortunately it’s pretty good. Ivan Brandon is a solid VS_01-1writer but the real star is Esad Ribic’s art. He delivers some really interesting, quirky designs in his signature style that give Vs the feeling of a Euro-comic or a Heavy Metal feature. Letter Aditya Bidkar completes the illusion with square balloons and some night digital effects meant to simulate the pop up text that appears on screen during a broadcast. There’s a lot of fun to be had here and a lot of potential for more as the series progresses. Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy.

Twisted Romance #1 (Image): Reading Twisted Romance is a bit like visiting a modern art museum. It’s so defiantly different from what mainstream comics are that just looking at what Alex DeCampi, Katie Skelly, and Sarah Horrocks put on the page challenges your perception of what comics can be. There’s also a text feature by Magen Cubed. This isn’t a comic for everyone but if you like the idea of a horror romance comic with LGBTQ themes rendered in the visual tradition of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon then it just might be for you. Rating: 8. Recommendation: Buy.

X-Men: Red #1 (Marvel) Whatever bad taste might have been left in my mouth from last months end of Phoenix Resurrection this first issue has pretty much purged. Tom Taylor does a great job of wrapping the newly restored Jean Grey up in the trappings of a messiah for mutant kind and it only makes sense seeing that she’s come back from the dead not once but twice. More importantly he understands how these people should talk. I’m really looking forward to where this one is going especially once the identity of the shadowy villain of this first arc is revealed. Mahmud Asrar’s art is great as usual.
Rating: 7 Recommendation: Buy.

 Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock (Marvel) With Avengers: Infinity War part one opening in a few months it only makes sense that Marvel would prepare for another Infinity themed event in the comics. Surpassing the original Infinity Gauntlet is a tall order but writer Gerry Duggan has me intrigued with this first one shot leading up to…something with a series of time hops engineered by Kang. Mike Allred is so perfectly matched to the character of Adam Warlock that it’s surprising he hasn’t more with him in the past. Rating: 8 Recommendation: Buy.

abbottElana

Abbott #1 (BOOM!) is such a great example of a comic that lives in a genre I’m hungry for in the medium— a bi black woman doing investigative work in an urban fantasy setting. And it does it one better: it’s in Detroit in 1972, and deals with all the sociopolitical context surrounding that moment in time. Ahmed is one of the most exciting new voices in comics and he’s done his homework here. Kivelä’s art has page compositions that fit in the retro genre setting and his 1972 works for me (a major 70s obsessive even if I didn’t live it). Wordie’s colors are soft but saturated— extra painterly, warm like vintage film.
Rating 9 Recommendedation: Buy
For more on Abbott listen to our podcast interview with Saladin Ahmed: https://graphicpolicy.com/…/saladin-ahmed-podcast-abbott/

Ryan C

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #2 (DC)** – Another fine issue from Mark Russell and Mike Feehan that seems a bit confused and disjointed from a story standpoint at first — but all comes together brilliantly by the end. Not really sure what purpose Brandee Stillwell’s backup strip serves, but it’s more “okay” than it is “bad,” and the main feature is strong enough to carry the weight with or without it. As good as “The Flintstones” was, this is shaping up to be even better. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: BM_Cv40Buy

Dastardly & Muttley #6 (DC)** – Garth Ennis and Mauricet wrap up their six-parter with a genuinely surprising and smart finale that will give the best of Grant Morrison’s mind-benders a run for their money in the “meta” department, and while this comic won’t blow you away with its art, truth be told it’s been solid, if unspectacular, throughout, while the scripts have been uniformly clever and funny. A really solid conclusion to a really solid series. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy

Batman #40 (DC)** – Tom King pulls back from the idiotic idea his last cliffhanger flirted with, but he’d put himself in such a “no-win” situation with it that backing off feels like a cheap cop-out. Better just to not have even gone there. As for the rest of the issue? It’s pretty slight, and the choppy dialogue style is seriously starting to grate. Seriously, everyone sounds almost exactly the same. Joelle Jones’ art is lush, dynamic, and captivating, though, so the whole thing’s not a total loss. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Read. Or at least look at.

Monstro Mechanica #3 (Aftershock)** – Paul Allor’s take on Leonardo da Vinci is certainly unique — seldom is he portrayed as a calculating and entirely unsympathetic asshole like he is here — but the supporting characters, including our ostensible protagonist, are considerably less developed, as is the historical setting itself, replete as it is with intricacies that are never even close to fully explained. Chris Evenhuis’ art is nice and sleek and reasonably crisp, but not enough in and of itself to keep me hanging around at four bucks a pop. I think I’m out after this one. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass

Logan

X-Men Red #1 (Marvel)– Another day, another superhero hit for Tom Taylor. With Jean Grey back from the dead, Taylor and artist Mahmud Asrar portray as filled with empathy and ready to make mutants a player on the global stage not through battle or isolation, TwistedRomance_01-1but integration. It’s cool watching her get T’challa and Namor to back her play for mutant nation. The team assembled around her is fantastic blend of heart, ferocity, and comic relief from Nightcrawler, Wolverine (Laura), and Honey Badger (Gabby) respectively. Toss in some wide screen and occasionally touching visuals from Asrar and a great surprise villain, and it’s strong launch for the new team. Overall: 8.6 Verdict Buy

Twisted Romance #1 (Image)– Katie Skelly, Alex De Campi, and Sarah Horrocks do genre in a very indie way in this mini-anthology. Skelly and De Campi’s incubus story is sleazy and jazzy like the clubs Mackie prowls and is chased nicely by Magen Cubed’s prose story about human and vampire monster hunters in love. It’s easily the best of the trio with its sexual tension, queer romance, and Stevie Nicks karaoke. The CW should cancel Supernatural and option it immediately. Horrocks’ Red Medusa is the weakest narratively of the three, but her art drips with anguish and impotency. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Shean

Black Panther: Sound and the Fury #1 (Marvel)– This last year, Comics fans have had their share of great books about Black Panther to choose from, as the bar of excellence had been set. So when I heard that the House of Ideas was giving us a new book right before the movie comes out and it is written by the co-screenwriter of the movie, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, this book spends a good amount of BLACK PANTHER SOUND AND FURY #1time reintroducing readers to who T’Challa is and who Black Panther is as a hero, which in its delivery, feels vacant and insincere.This debut issue falls flat on its face, I hope the second issue takes readers somewhere. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Rise of the Black Panther #2 (Marvel) – We get deeper into the abductions of Wakandans from two different points of view. We see all the trouble Syan, T’Challa’s uncle dealt with while he was the Black Panther, including the abductions that were rampant during his rule. Fast forward, to when T’Challa has taken the mantle, and the abductions have become worse which leads T’Challa into a confrontation with the Sub -Mariner, as he searches for the traitors, where both men forge an uneasy alliance. By issue’s end, T’Challa and Namor find what they are both looking for, in a neighboring country nation, where Wakandans gain their freedom and The traitors who tried to overthrow Namor are punished. Overall: 9 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: Animosity Volume One: The Wake

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: Animosity Volume One: The Wake.



animosity.jpgI’ve had this trade sat in my digital to-read pile for quite some time, and this week I finally got around to reading it. I could give you my take on the central premise, but it sounds so much better straight from the horses mouth (because I basically reworded this the first time I wrote the opening):

“One day, for no reason, the Animals woke up. They started thinking. They started talking. They started taking REVENGE. Collecting the first four issues of the best-selling series, plus the special one-shot issue ANIMOSITY: THE RISE. 

The world is plunged into chaos as the newly-intelligent Animals fight humanity, and simply fight each other, for their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. In the midst of the turmoil is Jesse, an 11-year-old girl, and her dog, Sandor, who is devoted to her and her protection. One year after the incident, Jesse and Sandor begin a cross-country journey to find Jesse’s half-brother, Adam, who is living in San Francisco.”

To be honest I actually went into this series knowing only the bare minimum about it, so when the animals woke up I was actually taken aback by the entire thing. I know. The entire premise of the comic caught me off guard when it happened on the opening few pages of the story. It makes me laugh a little, too.

Centering around Jesse and her beloved dog Sandor’s relationship, and his overwhelming desire to protect her because she loves him. He’s one of the few animals not to hate humanity, and others who are still somewhat fond of humans are typically those who weren’t abused or mistreated in any way – and sadly, humans have done far too much of that in our time on this planet. Marguerrite Bennett‘s script is remarkable; she touches on the bigger impact of animals gaining sentience and the political and economical ramifications of this often in passing but with enough detail to answer some of the questions you’ll be having regarding food sources, population control… there’s a lot to set up in this trade, and for the most part the four issues of the main series collected here succeed in doing that.

There is a time jump that some may find jarring, but as with  any time jumps it will give us something to flash back to in subsequent trades and issues.

Artistically, Rafael De La Torre and Rob Schwager deliver. Their animals are able to convey the requisite emotions and atmospheric design needed to pull you from page to gorgeous page. Animosity‘s first volume is remarkably solid and enjoyable – and well worth checking out.

 


Join us next week where there will doubtless be another movie, series, comic or comic related thing discussed that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Advance Review: Bloodshot Salvation #7

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“Master storyteller Jeff Lemire takes the helm for the year’s most terrifying, most memorable special issue – told entirely in PITCH-BLACK DARKNESS!

Deployed into the demonic realm called Deadside in search of a cure for his ailing infant daughter, Bloodshot has lost the one sense he needs most to navigate the land of the dead: his sight. Blinded with only his four-legged ally, Bloodhound, to aid him, Ray Garrison must fight onward as one man against the darkness – even as he is beset from all sides by a horde of inhuman entities that crave only death, suffering, and slaughter…”

It’s hard to understate how excited I was to read this issue (indeed I haven’t #6 yet, but that didn’t stop me from diving in) without resorting to overly enthusiastic hyperbole. The concept of a comic being created entirely in black with minimal art is one that intrigued me significantly, but knowing that Jeff Lemire was going to be writing and drawing it ratchets my anticipation up a little. Okay, so “drawing” may be a stretch as the art is limited to exactly what Bloodshot can see – blackness – and it’s only the creative use of the borders and gutters that give your eye something to look at.

Make no mistake, this stripped down comic is a very ambitious project. Can Lemire carry the story using only words and the creative use of panel lines, or does the comic stumble one time too many?

In terms of the story itself, the review copy didn’t provide any context for why Bloodshot is in the Deadside because it doesn’t really matter in the context of the comic you’ll be reading; just know that he is there, along with Bloodhound and his baby daughter Jessie, and he’s blind. The advantage to this is that because you don’t need to know the whats and whys behind the events of the comic you’re able to appreciate it for exactly what it is (and personally there were no spoilers for the as-yet-unread issue 6 so that was a bonus for me). The story is honestly a very straight forward tale about a man in an unfamiliar situation, and although very well written, would be almost unremarkable in any other medium.

But this is comics, and this comic is remarkable.

In reality the importance of this issue isn’t in the content of the story, as good as it is, but in how Lemire tells it. Bloodshot Salvation #7 is an issue where the sum of what it is, and what it represents, make it worth buying and reading more than the story itself, because as an example of what can be accomplished with how comic books can be used as a  storytelling story telling method. When you read this, spend some time looking at the panel layouts; something as simple as a gutter may be far more significant than it would initially seem – or it might not.

This ambitiously brave comic could easily have fallen flat. After all, you could probably fit all the dialogue and internal thoughts within the issue into a page or two, and so you’re buying what, a comic full of black pages,  a little dialogue and some visual sound effects that combines into one of the most technically impressive comics you’ll ever see.

Whether you’re a fan of Bloodshot, or Valiant, or you’re not,  Bloodshot Salvation #7 is a book you’ll want in your collection as an example of a master craftsman at his very best, producing a seminal work of art that transcends conventional wisdom of what makes a comic work.

Frankly, this is phenomenal.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jeff Lemire
Story: 8 Art: Uh… Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review, but come March I’ll be buying this anyway. At least one copy.

Review: Armstrong And The Vault Of Spirits #1

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“Deep beneath New York City’s seediest dive bar, Armstrong – the hard-hitting, harder-partying immortal veteran of history’s greatest escapades – is hosting an invitation-only affair for his most beloved friends and allies! Archer… Ivar, Timewalker… Faith… Quantum and Woody… And special guests from across the Valiant Universe… All have been offered a seat at the table for a personally guided tour of Armstrong’s most valuable and tightly guarded treasure… From the Great Flood to ancient Greece to the height of the Crusades, raise a glass as Armstrong recounts the true stories of his wine-soaked path down through the ages and the artifacts that reside within his own secret archive!”

I have been partial to stories about the Anni Padda brothers ever since I started reading Valiant comics a few years ago, and there was always something about Armstrong that fascinated me so it should go without saying I was intrigued in this book (it doesn’t hurt that Fred Van Lente is writing it, either).

Armstrong And The Vault Of Spirits is a one shot story that reads as a love letter to the Valiant Universe; while Armstrong opens his vault for an hour each year, the various nefarious elements of the whom Armstrong has run afoul of over the last thousand or  so years are waiting to break into the vault for various purposes that are brilliantly comic-booky, and perfectly explained in their simplicity. Van Lente deftly balances the tender, heartbreaking moments with a comedic infusion that’s never quite too much, but occasionally just subtle enough to be overlooked. This one shot will reward fans of Van Lente’s previous work for Valiant – specifically Ivar, Timewalker and Archer And Armstrong – but familiarity with those series isn’t required to enjoy this. Armstrong’s interactions with the biblical  Noah alone are worth the price of admission alone, and provide an interesting Valiant fueled twist on the story as biblical verses are used, albeit sparsely, throughout the sections.

Artistically the comic is solid, if a little ink-heavy in places (all personal preference), depicting the action with all the aplomb you could hope for in a comic, but the selling point here for Valiant fans is Van Lente’s return to a character (or three) that he wove some utterly fantastic stories with.

Everything else is just the cherry on top of a wonderful sundae.

Story: Fred Van Lente Art: Cafu with Darrick Robertson
Colourists: Andrew Dalhouse with Diego Rodriguez
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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