Author Archives: Alex K Cossa

Advance Review: Rai #2

Rai #2

Can the cyborg samurai Rai and his robot boy sidekick escape a sentient madhouse in Rai #2?!

I absolutely loved the first issue of the current volume of Rai. I think it’s volume three technically, though it’s the second first issue since Valiant relaunched in 2012. Every aspect of the first issue blew me away. I honestly expected this issue to come off a little poorer in comparison due to that.

Spoiler: It doesn’t.

The first issue had Rai and his older/younger brother Raijin confront a semi stereotypical group of post-apocalyptic enemies in a roving gang of gear heads and dinosaurs. It was a backdrop to the more interesting exploration of the evolution of machines. This issue sees Rai and Raijin continue their search for more pieces of Father – the AI who ran New Japan like a god before Rai brought the floating nation down to Earth in a catastrophic confrontation in an attempt to kill him. Rai failed to kill Father, who took control of Bloodshot’s body and needs only a small number of the Offspring to remake himself entirely.

Rai #2 begins with Rai and Raijin in the hunt for one of the Offspring Father needs to absorb. It takes them through a sector of New Japan that fell to earth which bears a strong resemblance to a derelict North American city circa the turn of the 21st century. That strikes quite the dichotomy with a rather idyllic looking model home. It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that Rai and Raijin approach and enter the home. By the time the fourth page is over they’re in the house.

Dan Abnett comes at the artificial intelligence angle from a slightly different perspective in the second issue. Rather than a discussion between two brothers (though the dynamic is a unique one; the chronologically older one is the child, whilst the younger one act much more adult like), Abnett uses the AI within the house to ask whether it is ethical to create artificial assistants with enough autonomy to function and then leave them alone for a significant period of time. For anyone who talks to a Siri, Alexa or Google, I’m sure that you’ve often wanted a physical representation of the virtual assistant to make you a real cup of coffee. What if you were able to get one that eventually fell into disuse?

It’s at this point that the comic distinguishes itself as more than just a follow up to an issue of the year contender. It stands as a fantastic issue in its own right. Dan Abnett two for two when it comes to fantastic issues. If he can keep this level of quality up, Rai will go down as one of the best comic series.

Yes, I think it’s that good.

Joining Abnett is the ever astounding artist Juan Jose Ryp and colourist Andrew Dalhouse. The pair were spectacular last week, and are just as good here. Ryp’s hyper detailed style is superbly suited for a post apocalyptic world, and the way he shifts from the derelict and abandoned streets to the manicured lawn and clean lines of the model home is almost jarring. Dalhouse’s colouring also plays a part in the transition between the two settings. His work is also top notch in Rai #2; the starkness of the streets contrasts powerfully with the model home, as is emblematic of the comic’s soul.

Rai #1 was one of the best comics I’d read all year, and much to my surprise the second issue is every bit as good as the first. Welcome to your new favorite series.

Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe

Story: 9.7 Art: 9.9 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For October ’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 October 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.


Battlepug #1 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 340/5,040
Why You Should Read It:
Mike Norton’s Battlepug is a glorious pastiche of high fantasy that features a fairly straight up barbarian with a giant pug. Think He-Man with a pug instead of Battle Cat and none of the Prince Adam and Cringer crap.

Black Terror #1 (Dynamite)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 300/6,117
Why You Should Read It: 
I’m always partial to pulp heroes, so this approach with the character having been alive since the 30’s without aging is an interesting take on the heroes of that era. That the comic also seems to touch on the addictive nature of super activity is an added layer that I can’t wait to see peeled away as the series progresses.

Bloodshot #2 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 282/6,891
Why You Should Read It: 
A popcorn action comic that does exactly what it needs to do. There’s nothing subversive about this book (yet), but it’s a great comic if you want to see a killing machine do his thing. Highly recommended.

.


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: Roku #2

Roku #2

In order to save a life, the lethal weapon Roku is going to have to kill a lot of people. Plus, the first appearance of the Minister of Blades! All in Roku #2!

Comics featuring a villain as a protagonist can often be a dicey proposition. If the character isn’t in some way sympathetic it can be hard for the audience to find a connection. Roku is the exception to that rule. I say rule, but really it’s just a personal observation. She’s far from a sympathetic character in terms of her motivations, despite her tragic history. That’s revealed to some extent this issue through dialogue and the character’s internal monologue.

The first cliche of the book is that despite Roku being an unscrupulous assassin villain, she seems to be willing to do “the right thing”. Though arguably not for the best of reasons. It’s at this point that we find ourselves rooting for the character. While it may seem familiar to some, Cullen Bunn frames the story and the character in such a way that you’ll never complain that the story has that familiar sense about it.

The book showcases Roku’s skills, as well as the oddly creepy hair powers she has as she cuts through her enemies like cheese wire through a block of cheddar. Her hair powers are one of my favorite things about the character. Though I have to admit at finding it a little creepy at the same time. It’s both an interesting ability for a character and one that still has the ability to take me off guard. It isn’t often you see a character who can use her hair as a weapon.

Bunn’s story seems pretty straightforward, though one can start to see the subtle complexities being teased out to us.

Bunn is joined by artist Ramon F. Bachs and colorist Stephane Paitreau, whose style is clean with enough flare to provide an interesting look to the book. You can tell exactly what’s happening on each page even though there’s frequently some form of swift and brutal encounter between Roku and somebody else.

Roku #2 takes the series firmly into New-Reader-Friendly territory, with the focal point of the story being Roku’s mission rather than the character herself and a deep dive into her past. While her mysterious past is brought up enough to familiarize the unfamiliar, it hasn’t been anything more than characters alluding to what has gone before in a way that doesn’t break the story if you’ve no idea what happened.

At the end of the day, this book is still a fun read. There’s a bit more to unpack for fans of Roku or readers of Ninjak, but either way, there’s more than enough here to pull you back for the third issue.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Ramon F. Bachs
Colors: Stephane Paitreau Letters: Dace Sharpe

Story: 8.6 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bloodshot #3

Bloodshot #3

Break out the popcorn before Bloodshot hits the big screen and witness the supersoldier unleashed in Bloodshot #3!

The origin issue of Eidolon, Bloodshot’s greatest nemesis in the making!

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve seen a popcorn action movie of some kind. The kind where you can walk in and just turn your brain off, munch some snacks and drink a Coke. You really don’t need to think about too much other than just enjoying what’s happening in front of your eyes. You know exactly what you’re getting, and the film delivers in every aspect.

The reason this is relevant is that this comic is as popcorn as they come. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as your expectations are in the right place. Gone is the character-driven series penned by Jeff Lemire. His work is acknowledged within Bloodshot #3. That answers one of the questions I had with this series. That’s surrounding where the book fits in the character’s continuity.

Tim Seeley continues his breakneck pace for the third issue, moving the plot along in a swift manner that allows him to use every page within the comic to further the plot, whilst only barely fleshing out one or two of the supporting cast. The end result of this is a comic that focuses more on the visualization of the writer’s vision and the furtherance of the plot than the characters within the comics pages.

Seeley is joined by artist Brett Booth, inker Adelso Corona, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe, none of who seem to have wasted any energy or talent in moving the book along. The state of Bloodshot throughout this book is wonderfully uncomfortable as we see Bloodshot’s physical degradation reach new highs (or lows) as the character comes face to face with a new enemy who really tests the limits of Bloodshot’s powers. the art work for this sequence is messy (for clarification, I am not saying that messy is a bad thing in the case) and just oozes pain and suffering as you’re reading the comic.

Once again, this is a fairly straight forward and simple comic book story. It’s the epitome of a popcorn comic, but it does its job very well. At entertain rip through another twenty odd pages in the series that’ll likely wrap up eaely next year, conveniently just in time to be released in a trade. If you want some high octane action in your comic books, then you really can’t go wrong with this series. Each issue has been popcorn comics at its finest.

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

Review: Rai #1

RAI #1

Welcome to the 41st century: New worlds, new characters, new adventures await kicking off in Rai #1.
Valiant’s critically celebrated cyborg ronin named Rai embarks on a thrilling quest to save the future.

Every so often, a comic comes along that blows your expectations away. Rai #1 is one of those comics.

This series picks up after the events of Fallen World. It was a mini-series the cynical would suggest only exists in order to launch this series. I enjoyed Fallen World, although I felt it dropped a bit in quality after the first two issues. Though it wasn’t much, there was definitely a downward slope after the third issue. Writer Dan Abnett reversed the slope for the fifth issue to end on a highlight. Whether he knew he was setting up Rai #1 with Fallen World #5 or not, he was able to end the series on a high note. It provided an ending that satisfied the miniseries whilst ramping up anticipation for Rai #1.

Abnett builds upon Fallen World, and indeed 4001 A.D. He delivers what amounts to a buddy-cop comic with two brothers looking to stop their father from enslaving the world. There’s a bit more to it than that. The older brother is the child, and in order to stop their father, Rai and Raijin have to stop him from rebooting his AI system by gathering more pieces of himself scattered across the post apocalyptic Earth of 4002 AD.

The relationship between the two Rai warms the page; the smaller Raijin is a fully synthetic being, unable to grow or age beyond his current stature but is the first model of Rai whereas the adult looking Rai, the Rai of the title, is the newest model – and half human – which leads to some clever dialogue between the two characters, and gives Abnett plenty of room to explore what it means to be human and how we think of AI and robots in science fiction.

Joining Abnett is the ever astounding artist Juan Jose Ryp and colourist Andrew Dalhouse. The pair have delivered one of the best looking comics you’re going to read this week – or even this year. Ryp’s hyper detailed style is superbly suited for a post apocalyptic world where things have been pulled together out of scraps from the previous two millennium, the mechanical advancement and subsequent regression between our time and 4002 is captured brilliantly on the page without it ever needing to be explicitly discussed. And then we have then way that he frames his shots, generally sticking to a horizontal grid until he needs to highlight a character’s actions or choices, which will result in a breaking of the grid as the character soars or needs to take center stage.

Ryp’s grasp of visual storytelling is on point here, and with Rai #1he underlines his name as one of the finest artists in comics today.

Dalhouse is superb in bringing the artwork to life. The vibrant colours and subtle use of clouds in the blue sky early in the comic is beautiful in its simplicity. Post apocalyptic tales often have the reputation of being set in a boring barren brown wasteland, and while that’s still the case here (at least as far as the first issue goes), there’s nothing boring about the way Dalhouse has coloured this book. He adds a vibrant soul to the comic that would be noticed if it was missing – even if you couldn’t put a finger on what you would be missing.

You can read the first eight pages below if you want a taste of the book. They’re perhaps the best opening to a comic I’ve read in a long time.

Perhaps the only “flaw” in the book is that it builds upon around twenty five issues across three series. Yes, having read those will help you (even just the two mentioned previously; 4001 A.D. and Fallen World, though the first volume of Rai is also very good), but if you’re coming in to this volume of Rai unfamiliar with the characters then you won’t be lost. At all. This issue establishes who the two lead characters are, their motivations and their capabilities in an organic way. The review copy I read didn’t have a recap page, but the comic doesn’t need it.

Rai #1 is one of the best comics I’ve read all year. This is a comic that has (almost) everything you could want in a comic. I say almost because there’s always something you can nitpick with any issue, though I have yet to find anything to moan about with Rai #1. I cannot recommend this book enough.

This is going to be something special.

Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe

Story: 9.7 Art: 9.9 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 11/16

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

Far Sector #1

Far Sector #1 (DC/Black Label)*- Hugo winning writer N.K. Jemisin and artist Jamal Campbell team up to tell a Green Lantern story about a utopia gone wrong that is bathed in both the speculative fiction and police procedural dramas. Jo Mullein is the Green Lantern representative to the furthest end of the universe, which is a world called the City Enduring. Ostensibly, the City Enduring is a perfect world, devoid of emotions that is built from the ruins of a genocide that hasn’t had a murder in 5 centuries and calls their cops “Peace Captains”. However, it’s mostly definitely not as Jemisin and Campbell expose the bullshit beneath its sleekly drawn surface. Jemisin definitely plays to her SF strengths in this comic using a serial murder plot to progress the narrative while adding oodles of world-building and a side of snarky humor. Campbell continues to have some of the cleanest visuals in comics with his distinct looks for the three types of inhabitants of City Enduring, but he can do grotesque too. Also, kudos to both N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell for coming up with one of the most creative uses of a Green Lantern ring for comedy purposes. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy.

Morbius #1

Morbius #1 (Marvel) – In the opening 8 or 9 pages, writer Vita Ayala and artists Marcelo Ferreira and Roberto Poggi establish that Morbius #1 isn’t a superhero comic, but a slasher story. Morbius’ philosophical musings about virtue, the greatest good, and curing his hunger and pain don’t pop up until midway in the issue as he stalks a warehouse taking out members of Melter’s crew, who are exploiting his neighborhood. Ayala writes him as a vampire with a conscience, but with the soul of a PhD and the appearance of monster in contrast with angsty pretty boy pop culture vampires like Louis and Angel. Ferreira, Poggi, and colorist Dono Sanchez-Almara’s work goes beyond Morbius’ appearance, and his skill at killing and bloodlust is evident through quick series of panels, lots of red, and veiny figure work although they don’t go full Joe Mad or Stephen Platt. Morbius #1 is a classic horror tale with pseudoscientific trappings of a monster wanting to become human, but outside forces not wanting to give him that chance. (And for good reason.) Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Shean

Punisher Soviet #1

Punisher Soviet #1 ( Marvel)– In this story, Frank Castle is a gun for hire, as he opens the book on a massacre he unleashes, he wonders who’s this new criminal force making a move. Soon his handler puts the dots together and finds out it is a crew he had been targeting last time he was in Russia. As he shakes down one of the goons, we find out just how brutal Frank really is. By issue’s end, he finds the crime boss, who knew eventually The Punisher would find him. 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: 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 (**).

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