Author Archives: Alex K Cossa

Underrated: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

I may have spent far too much time over the last week watching Disney+. Because of that, I wanted to rerun an older column, and what better column than one focusing on the first chronological Star Wars movie?


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: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace


Star_Wars_Phantom_Menace_poster.jpg

Released in 1999, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Brian Blessed, Ray Park, and Frank Oz. It  is also widely known for being a stonking pile of manure.

Released sixteen years after Return Of The JediThe Phantom Menace was set 32 years before Star Wars, and follows Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they protect Queen Amidala, in hopes of securing a peaceful end to a large-scale interplanetary trade dispute. Joined by Anakin Skywalker—a young slave with unusually strong natural powers of the Force—they simultaneously contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.

Now that you’ve read (basically) the first two paragraphs of the Wikipedia entry, allow me to tell you why this movie is underrated.

Look, I’m not claiming it’s good, just that it isn’t (quite) as bad as you think it is. And it does have good moments. If I can’t convince you, maybe I’ll make you laugh…?

Anyway.

If you’re of a certain age, or your parents are, then you would have been beyond excited to see this movie when it hit the theaters in 1999. I remember watching the lines on the local news back in England being in awe that anybody would care about a movie that much, but nearly twenty years later I can begin understand the level of excitement people would feel surrounding the return of such a beloved franchise – indeed, as I type this I am already planning to line up for the latest Star Wars flick, The Last Jedi, two hours before the screen doors open. But that’s after having two good movies released in the last two years, so can you imagine the excite fans of the franchise would have had in the weeks and months (hell, years) leading up to May 19th, 1999 when the movie finally opened for the masses. It would have been incredible! In the years before the widespread usage of the Internet (in comparison to what we see now), there were conversations in schools, at the water cooler and frankly anywhere fans would gather. The excitement was palpable wherever nerds and fans gathered. It’s hard to overstate how much hype was in the air surrounding the first Star Wars movie in sixteen years.

And then the movie was released.

fanboys.jpg
If you’ve never seen this movie, then you should check it out. It’s a great send up of nerd culture circa 1998 with a touching heart. Rumour has it the movie is based on real events – whether that’s true or not I’m unsure.

Look, without beating around the bush, it’s safe to say that it didn’t live up to expectations. At all. The movie is widely regarded as the worst live action entry into the saga, and rightly so, and fans have often said that the movie is best left forgotten in the deep recesses of history. Which is a touch harsh, but I understand where they’re coming from. But here’s the thing; despite the movie’s obvious flaws, I still feel like it gets the short end of the stick quite a bit.

Why? Well let me break out the bullet points…

  • Firstly, it was the first Star Wars movie in a generation, and as such it was the first time that many of us were able to sit in a chair and experience that title sequence – next time you see a Star Wars movie in the theatre and those titles start to roll with that music… you tell me that isn’t an incredible moment. Almost makes what came after those titles worth watching.
  •  Secondly, you can’t tell me you weren’t grinning from ear to ear with the extensive lightsaber duels. Everything is better with lightsabers.
  •  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there were people for whom this was the first Star Wars movie they’d experienced and as such it served, for those folks at least, as a gateway into the franchise.
  •  How many of you who did see, and loath, this movie in the cinema rushed out to see Episode II – Attack Of The Clones opening night because it couldn’t have been as band as this one, right? It wasn’t, was it? If nothing else, that the first movie was the worst in the new trilogy should be seen as a bright spot.
  • Dual lightsaber! Darth Maul’s dual blades were the first time we had seen a break from the standard style lightsaber from the original trilogy, which opened up a breadth of on-screen options for the iconic weapon going forward.
    darth maul.jpeg

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was always doomed to fail. No movie with as much hype as this one will ever meet expectations. But eighteen years on, while the movie may not hold up visually any more with the advances in digital technology, and Jar Jar Binks is still an annoying fuckwit, I came to realize that the movie isn’t as bad as you would think. Aside from Jar Jar, and a little too much time spent on the pod racing subplot, the movie isn’t bad. Could it have been better? Absolutely – I won’t argue that. But it wasn’t as  bad as you’ve heard, certainly not as bad as its reputation would have you believe.



Next week we’ll return to a more comic themed Underrated. Until next time!

Review: Doctor Mirage #4

Doctor Mirage #4

Doctor Mirage #4 features the first appearance of a terrifying new villain! Enter… the Embalmer! Will Doctor Mirage escape the clutches of the terrifying Embalmer, and return to the land of the living? Danger lurks around every corner in this mind-bending ride by Eisner-nominated writer Magdalene Visaggio and astounding artist Nick Robles! It’s the must-read supernatural mystery of 2019!

Doctor Mirage #4 has a wonderful dichotomy to it, and I genuinely can’t get enough of the comic. Vissaggio’s story has very real-world and relatable relationship/s at its core. It’s easy to miss just how grounded that area of the comic is when you have an artistic approach from Robles and colourist Jordie Bellaire that is straight out of a psychedelic journey. It’s a combination that works very well for the character and the nature of the story. I find myself already wanting this creative team to tackle either Doctor Mirage again, or one of Valiant’s other supernatural characters.

Although this isn’t going to be a book that everyone enjoys as fully as I have (tastes differ and all), it’s another series that Valiant are currently publishing that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I have been. Typically I tend to stay away from anything not grounded on earth. The supernatural and science fiction parts of my collection are pretty sparse. What I’ve learned, and perhaps taken far too long in doing so, is that the setting doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality or thematic approach of the writer and artist/s. Doctor Mirage #4 is a reminder to me not to write a story off before I’ve given it a fair chance. Really, I’m too old to have to be reminded of that, but here we are.

I’ve stayed away from discussing the plot as a whole so far. It’s relatively hard to explain without really giving anything away. Especially in a form that will do justice to Vissaggio’s vision with resorting to broad generalities. Which is also unfair to you, if you’re still on the fence about the comic. This issue finds Doctor Mirage and her young companion on the run from the denizens of the Deadside as they try to escape back to “our” plane of existence. Denizens who aren’t exactly friendly. In the midst of the running, there’s the odd moment of peace. It allows you to deepen your connection to the characters and the story itself.

Vissaggio’s pacing has been great throughout the book. As the penultimate issue in the series, she’s set this book up for a wonderful finale. I can’t wait.

Story: Magdalene Visaggio Art: Nick Robles Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Psi-Lords #6

Psi-Lords #6

Witness a cosmic trial by combat… your monthly dose of surreal sci-fi fun has landed in Psi-Lords #6!

The above text, part of the preview/selling point within the review email is actually remarkably accurate. Not the first half, specifically, but the latter; “your monthly dose of surreal sci-fi fun” is perhaps the best way to describe this book in a seven-word sound bite. It doesn’t quite do the book justice, but then that is arguably a positive thing for those who pick the book up.

I never really know where to start when talking about Psi-Lords. Do I start with the admission that it took me a couple of issues to fully get into the series? Do I start with how much I’ve been enjoying the series? All of it since I reread the earlier comics with new eyes. Do I start with how I can’t quite believe how good the art is in each and every issue?

Or do I start with a summary of the previous arc if you’re a new reader and want to jump on as the next chapter begins?

I think I’ll do that.

Four humans come to awareness on an asteroid/alien planet. They discover they have superpowers and escaped with the help of a mysterious stranger. They find themselves among some pacifist cat-like aliens and defended them against another alien, a Widower, by killing him. Somehow they gain the incredible team name of The Astro Friends. Now, they’re about to face the consequences of those actions in what they assume to be a court of law – of some kind.

The plot of Psi-Lords #6 feels a lot less like the procedural crime drama of the previous issue. It’s more in keeping with a Game Of Thrones-style trial by combat. It’s this free flowing ability of Fred Van Lente to transcend genres with each issue whilst keeping the story rooted in sci fi elements. Although the comic has a higher intensity than the previous issue, there’s still time to further the development of several characters within the action. Van Lente teases out the revelations about the four Astro Friends slowly yet meaningfully amidst the action – I’m not going to say that this is his best work yet, but I’d certainly rank it pretty high.

Of course, credit for the quality of this comic also deserves to be heaped upon the visuals. Renato Guedes is simply stunning here (again). Six issues in, and the artist has never missed a beat. This is an absolute visual masterpiece.

Psi-Lords #6 is an awesome comic book; a story that builds upon the previous five issues without ever overburdening new readers – a delicate place to balance any story, but Van Lente has found the sweet spot here. Psi-Lords has captured me in a way I never expected it too; but when you’ve got a comic that’s as exemplary as this, that should come as no surprise.

Story: Fred Van Lente Art: Renato Guedes Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.9 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 11/10

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman #82 (DC Comics) – So here we are. City of Bane part 8. What started as a very intriguing and entertaining flip flop of the Batman/GCPD/Villains dynamic has now developed into a long winded overused trope. I really enjoyed the villains being deputized as Bane’s police force, but that was a one trick pony. Some it totally made sense, like Scarecrow and Two Face but then others were just ridiculous like the Joker. Still I looked past it as it has given us some very cool story beats such as Bat/Cat on an island and Damian defiant. 

It also gave us our most shocking and heart wrenching story beat, the DEATH of Alfred. This was done in such grotesque and shocking fashion that surely there would be incredible fallout from this heinous act? Yes? Well… nope. That happened back in ish #77 and we’ve got zilch. Here we are 5 long issues later and Batman has his final showdown with evil incarnate: Bane and not one freaking mention of his fallen mentor!
Not only that, the set up for this was totally loony as Bane would never take any chance to fight Bruce without an edge. So this out of character moment exists so Bruce and Selena can get the drop on Bane, only for a half hearted fight with some dreadful dialogue to trudge through the whole issue. Not to mention the way this all ends. 

Unfortunately I am no longer even morbidly curious as Tom Kings inconsistency frustrates to no end.I just want this saga over and done with and hopefully we get some justice for Alfred. Overall: You can skip to the last two pages of this book, you won’t miss much, as King’s Thomas makes Grant Morrison’s Bat-God seem like a novice. Sure there are pretty pictures by Mikel Janin but that doesn’t make up for the shoddy canvas this is painted on. Score: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Logan

Dragonfly and Dragonflyman #1 (Ahoy)- Apparently, this series is a prequel to the Wrong Earth comic, which I never read, but Tom Peyer and Peter Krause’s Dragonfly and Dragonflyman #1 stands on its own as an exploration of the superhero/sidekick dynamic throughout the years as Dragonfly and Dragonflyman and their sidekick both named Stinger follow the trail of criminal, Devil Man. Peyer makes a smart decision to make the Stinger of Earth Omega (The grim and gritty one) the POV character of his storyline, and it reads like if those Post-Crisis Batman comics were written from Jason Todd’s perspective. Or in a less nerdy parlance, it captures the feeling of always being caught in a mentor or friend’s shadow and struggling to become your own person. The Dragonflyman/Stinger story is a lot more ridiculous and humorous with Peyer, Krause, and especially colorist Andy Troy nailing the wack-a-doodle Mort Weisinger era of Superman comics with all kinds of gimmicks and surprises. But what if one of those gimmicks that were waved away as an “imaginary story” were real? The final sequence in Dragonfly and Dragonflyman #1 shows that Peyer and Krause are interested in introspection on both Earths. Also, a final kudos to Peter Krause and Andy Troy, who have the ability to draw and light a scene where two superheroes investigate an abandoned sex dungeon as well as choreograph a kangaroo boxing match that is Adam West’s Batman meets those episodes of Batman: The Animated Series where Batman inexplicably wrestled random wild animals. Dragonfly and Dragonflyman #1 is well-executed pastiche that also doubles as a character study with a lot of potential for Stinger of Earth Omega. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Heist #1 (Vault)– Paul Tobin and Arjuna Susini turn in some grimy crime sci-fi in Heist #1 where notorious criminal and con man Glane is out of prison and ready to pull one big job: stealing a planet literally named Heist from an evil megacorporation. Susini’s art has a kind of faded out quality that works better for cityscapes than human beings interacting so I felt disconnected from the story at times. Luckily, Tobin has an ace up his sleeve in Brady, an over eager street urchin and a great way to back in some introductory exposition and worldbuilding. His reaction to finding out that Glane isn’t a tourist, but a complex, legendary hero is freaking hilarious. Even if the visuals are middle of the road, Tobin and Susini set up a job, a great bad guy, and a few entertaining criminals to hang out with, and I’m interested to see how the story unfolds in future issues of Heist. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

X-Force #1 (Marvel)– Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara, and Dean White’s X-Force #1 answers the question, “What if the utopian paradise of Krakoa was disrupted by the outside?” It’s initially asked by Wolverine wrestling with some kind of animal and then escalated by the issue’s big final fight scene. Cassara’s art has almost a 90s grit to it with lots of details of veins, muscles, and gore, but more clear storytelling. He nails the big scenes like the return of Colossus, Black Tom Cassidy’s attempt to ward off a big assault from the outside, and stakes raiser involving Charles Xavier. It doesn’t have the depth, humor, characterization, or high concept work of the other Dawn of X books, but X-Force #1 is where the action and bleakness are at, for better or worse. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Shean

Yondu#1 (Marvel)- For this magnetic player of the Guardians Of the Galaxy movies, we finally get his back story. As we find him soon after looting a planet but before he gets a crew, as we dive into his his religious beliefs as a Centaurian and his early life. We soon find out that he is more than in a little t of trouble but is soon visited by a family member, whose reason for his visit, has more to do with his destiny. By issue’s end, we find out he has more people in pursuit of him and not all as friendly. Overall: 9.8 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: Your Local Comics Scene

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 Scene


 

In a slightly different than normal entry to this column (read I forgot to write one and am instead repurposing something else) I wanted to take a look at something that most of us either ignore or are blissfully unaware of, and that’s the comics being published in your local area. Obviously your definition of “local area” will vary depending on where you live; New York City may have a much smaller local sphere than my hometown of Exmouth in the South of Devon, England. The local scene there could more reasonably stretch across the entirety of the county of Devon, much like how I’d consider Atlantic Canada to be my current local comics scene now rather than any specific city or province within the region simply due to the volume of independent comics that I come across. But regardless of the size of your local area, my question to you, dear reader, is how active is your local comics scene, and when was the last time you actively sought out local-to-you comics at your Local Comic Shop?

I’ve found a couple of really interesting stories that way (some are also available as webcomics – such as this one), and some… less interesting. But the thing is, because they’re created by people who visit the same shops as I do across the region, I wanted to give them a shot. And I don’t regret doing that with any of the comics I’ve picked up over the years, whether they are from my region or local to an area I have traveled to. 

There’s a chance that your local area may not have anybody actively creating comics for the mass market, but you can probably find a small pamphlet like comic produced locally in a small corner of the shop or a local convention. And if you do find one, then why not check it out? You’ll be supporting local talent, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next favourite series…



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

Review: Livewire #12

Livewire #12

“Hero” reaches its thrilling endgame in Livewire #12!

With the whole country watching, Livewire is targeted by a trusted confidant, will she remain America’s Most Wanted?

The climactic final chapter building since Secret Weapons and through Harbinger Wars 2 is finally here!

With Livewire #12 Vita Ayala makes the bold decision to have the finale be a much more cerebral affair than your typical run of the mill finales. While there is tension within the comic, it’s not of the physical kind; instead, Ayala weaves a level of intensity through Livewire’s internal narration and the dialogue that borders on thriller level as the machinations of certain characters are teased.

Initially, the ending might seem somewhat underwhelming, and I understand that point of view, but I found it more interesting than reading about Livewire fighting her way through security defenses and the like. The wrapping up of the story in this way is immensely satisfying; there are very few loose ends left after twelve issues, and Livewire is positioned very well for the next person to take on the character.

Although Ayala has scripted an interesting and compelling tale about Livewire, there’s no denying that they were left with an… interesting place to begin after the events of Harbinger Wars II. While Livewire’s actions were extreme in that story, it’s refreshing that they weren’t just swept away as the world moved on (while there may be some who choose to ignore Harbinger Wars II, this series will at the very least serve as the epilogue).

I’ve enjoyed the political spin of this comic. When I say that, I’m not saying that no other comics are political, but rather that I enjoyed the way this comic treats politics, politicians and the process of an election. It’s probably not utterly accurate, but at least from my understanding, it’s pretty close (the huge caveat there is that I am an Englishman living in Canada, so I’m not all that familiar with the way senate elections actually work).

This series has served in many ways to recenter Amanda McKee and deal with how her actions have impacted the general public, as well as the psiot herself. With the political background of the final arc, Ayala’s taken an interesting path to Livewire’s redemption – and it’s well worth reading if you like a little bit of the political process with your comics.

Livewire #12 specifically, though, is a strong book. Both as the finale and as a standalone comic. Ayala comes out of this series on a high note, and I am sure that their star will continue to shine in comics.

Story: Vita Ayala Art: Tana Ford
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.6 Art: 7.1 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Killers #5

Killers #5

Superpowered ninjas versus arctic monks versus kill-crazy commandos in the bloody final battle in Killers #5!

Who lives? Will someone die? Who will win the ultimate prize?

The end is just the beginning…

Killers has been a pretty interesting journey for me because I read the outline a long time ago in preparation for an interview with B. Clay Moore. Graphic Policy also published an interview conducted with artist Fernando Dagnino which you can check out here. Because of the former interview, I’ve had a very rough idea what was coming for some time. I’ve made no secret of this. The outline became murkier in my memory as time progressed, whilst still being able to enjoy the ride. It’s an odd feeling, and the first time that I’d experienced it,

As the finale of the miniseries, Killers #5 does its job. It would have been a much better end to an ongoing series’ first arc. I say this because this issue seems more focused on setting up the next chapter than wrapping up this one. This is fine in many ways. It’s a story with a cast of characters I enjoy and want to see more of. I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the conclusion had a smaller bang because of the dual focus.

It’s the dual focus of concluding one chapter and opening the other that gives the book its biggest drawback. Moore’s breakneck pace has been an asset throughout the series, and so it’s ironic that it’s his ability to keep the story moving at such a pace becomes the only flaw in this comic. There isn’t really any breathing room in Killers #5, and it needs it so that you, dear reader, can digest and process the revelations in the story as they come at you one after the other.

Artistically, the book has its missteps. Dagnino and colorist Jose Villarrubia are very solid for 90% of this book. The areas where I found them less than solid were pretty minimal, largely limited to odd facial expressions and from the artists having less room to tell the story in parts than in others. Overall, though, the artistic flow of the book is enjoyable and easy to follow; the action scenes are clear and flow well, and you always know what’s occurring on the page.

At the end of the day, as a finale, this comic isn’t great. It’s good, but it’s not great. It lacks a sense of closure, opting instead to ensure we all know the door is open in the future for the story to continue. As a finale, it’s less than satisfying, but as a bridge book, it does its job very well. How you feel about the comic once you’ve read will depend largely on what you wanted from the final issue of a miniseries.

Story: B. Clay Moore Art: Fernand Dagnino Colours: Jose Villarrubia
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 11/3

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

Batman Annual #4 (DC) **- In years past, the stand-alone Annuals have showcased Tom King’s best writing on this series, and that pattern holds true here with this story told from Alfred’s point of view. It would be nice if we got scripts of this quality consistently, of course, but I guess beggars and can’t be choosers, and “Batman” readers are definitely beggars at this point, myself included. The art is a more hit-and-miss affair, with the pages by Jorge Fornes looking stylish and slick and gritty, while those by Mike Norton are a big come-down to standard-issue superhero stuff. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy.

Batman And The Outsiders Annual #1 (DC)** – I guess if you’re a big Katana fan you’ll have fun with this trip inside her trademark Soultaker sword, but for anyone else, Bryan Hill’s script feels like 15 pages stretched out to fill 40, and Max Raynor’s art looks about as non-descript as is humanly possible. Overall: 2.5. Recommendation: Pass.

DCeased #6 (DC)** – A pretty fun conclusion to a pretty fun, if ultimately disposable, series that sees Tom Taylor put satisfactory, if temporary, bow-wraps on all his plotlines and Trevor Hairsine (and helpers) deliver the goods in fairly impressive “horror comics” fashion on art. The sequel-prep going on is almost painfully obvious, but considering how popular this thing has been, I don’t think too many readers will be complaining about that. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy.

Silver Surfer: Black #5 (Marvel) – The final installment of this series pretty much fits the patterns of the previous four : Donny Cates delivers a serviceable-if-far-from-memorable script, while Tradd Moore blows the hinges off the doors with his unique and stunning blend of Kirby cosmic and Ditko mystic. Yup, you’re gonna want to own this one for the art alone. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy.

Shean

Marvel Zombies Resurrection #1 (Marvel)– Mr Fantastic intercepts a message where he finds out that Galactus is dead. This causes him to assemble the Avengers and destroy what’s left of his body. What they find is worst, as every Avenger who showed up, gets infected with a Zombie virus. By issue’s end, instead of isolating the contagion, they inadvertently lead the body of Galactus to Earth. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Excalibur #1 (Marvel)– As a fan of the original run of this book, I had my reservations about a new iteration of the story. I am so glad to be so relieved, as this story has many moving parts, that all serve the same master. As we are brought back to Otherworld, this time, in a war, where Morgan La Fey holds the seat of power which reactivates Excalibur with a few members of the X-men into play. By issue’s end, a new Captain Britain emerges, and a fight for the Throne of The Otherworld is at stake. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Giant Days As Time Goes By #1 (BOOM!)– John Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar deliver a picture perfect epilogue to the gold standard for slice of life comics. Allison delves into the difficulty of post-college using Esther and her exploitative publishing job as a case study. And Sarin and Cogar bring the over the top facial expressions and surreal elements as Susan walks around with flames over her head when her boyfriend turns down well-paying jobs to stay with her in Sheffield. Oh, and there’s a fantastic Matrix Reloaded homage featuring “executive editorial assistants” and hugs. Lots of hugs between Esther, Susan, and good ol Daisy. Overall: 10 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 (**).

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For September ’19

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 September 2019


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.


Banjax #4 (Action Lab)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 522/876
Why You Should Read It:
I said it last month, and I’ll say it again; selling less than a thousand copies is a criminal shame for this comic. Telling the story of a disgraced hero on a last quest to clear up crime in his city before his body succumbs to the cancer that resulted from the use of his powers, Banjax isn’t a comic with a happy ending, and writer Rylend Grant always seems to have another twisted angle on what could be a straight forward story to keep you guessing.

If you’re not going to read this in floppy format, at least check out the trade (assuming it gets one).

Outpost #13 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 388/1,779
Why You Should Read It: 
It may be the penultimate issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading. Actually, what it means is that this is a great time for you to plan to pick up the collected editions in the near future.

Psi-Lords #4 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 292/4,460
Why You Should Read It: 
An epic space romp featuring some utterly fantastic art, and a story that should be read multiple times, this issue is the end of the first arc (or at least where the first trade will end), and it is also a pretty solid jumping on place for yet another strong book from Valiant. .

The Crow Hack Slash #3 (IDW)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 288/4,656
Why You Should Read It:
As a big fan of the Crow, I will always read anything Crow-related. Usually, I end up with a half decent read, but this crossover has been really enjoyable. I’ve never met Hack and Slash before, but after this story, I’m more than likely going to be reading more about them in the future.

Tommy Gun Wizards #2 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 278/5,240
Why You Should Read It:
An interesting mix of genres, it’s exactly what you think it’s going to be. Urban fantasy based around the era of Al Capone (re-imagined as a bootleg magic operator verses alcohol). It’s something different, but incredibly good – and well worth your time and money.

.


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: Bloodshot #2

Bloodshot #2

Bloodshot’s enemies are closing in. Can he unleash all of his abilities in time to survive in Bloodshot #2?

The supersoldier is no stranger to war, but this is a whole new kind of enemy…

And who is the mysterious masked woman called Eidolon?!

I’m not going to bother writing too much of a preamble to this book. I feel that it would be a disservice to a comic that’s a high octane thrill ride to pad out the review with an anecdote at the beginning.

Well, pad it out any more than I have done.

Bloodshot #2 is as close to an action movie in comic form as you could possibly get. There’s a lot going in this book that propels the plot along far faster than we typically see in a comic today. In comparison to books from twenty years ago when a single issue would often tell a long story. The pace of the book will take you off guard. Tim Seeley just doesn’t give you a chance to breathe. And for the most part that breathlessness works very well. Perhaps the only time where it doesn’t is at the very beginning when Bloodshot is in the air. The previous issue had him bloodied on the ground. Because it’s not integral to the plot as a whole after the second panel, I ended up just enjoying the art in the panel and moving on.

Seeley is joined by artist Brett Booth, inker Adelso Corona, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe. They all seem to follow the principle of moving the comic as swiftly as possible. The artists do this with some very clean and vibrant artwork. There’s a touch of the uncomfortable as Bloodshot seems to melt for a couple of panels. It’s for a reason, thankfully.

We find out precious little about Eidolin, the character teased in the preview text other than her capabilities. That’s pretty par for the course, I suppose. As is the disproportionate amount of action scenes in the book. That’s not entirely a bad thing when you’ve got these artistic chops on the book.

Once again, this is a fairly straight forward and simple comic book story. As one of my most remembered commercials would often say, Bloodshot #2 does exactly what it says on the tin. There are no real surprises here. If you’re looking for a comic that’ll make you rethink your place in life, then this isn’t it. But if you want some high octane action then you really can’t go wrong with this series.

It’s a very fun book, and sometimes that’s all a comic needs to be.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Brett Booth
Ink: Adelso Corona Color: Andrew Dalhouse Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.1 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

« Older Entries