Author Archives: Alex K Cossa

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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 4/10/2022

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Spider-Punk #1 (Marvel)– From the first Stooges quote to a Misfits-inspired take on a classic Marvel villain, Spider-Punk #1 is a love letter to classic punk and superhero comics from Cody Ziglar, Justin Mason, and Jim Charalampidis. Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk, a queer Native Captain America, and Ironheart fight the forces of fascism, gentrification, and ultimately capitalism in a fast, frenetic style. Charalampidis’ palette explodes like street murals, and Mason adds a DIY vibe to the classic Marvel archetypes of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Iron Man while having them better reflect our current society. He also creates different fighting styles for the heroes, and the punches, shield swings, and blasts are easy to follow with Ziglar adding quips, song references, and political commentary on top. Like the game Tony Hawk Underground did back in the 2000s, Cody Ziglar and Justin Mason re-purpose classic punk songs and iconography for a new audience that is ready to rage at capitalism through the metaphors of superheroes and 3 minute, 3 chord tracks. Overall: 9.3 Verdict: Buy

One-Star Squadron #5 (DC)- This installment of the D-list superhero/capitalist/gig economy satire series One-Star Squadron is more tragedy than comedy with a little bit of mystery thrown in. Mark Russell, Steve Lieber, and Dave Stewart hone in on the key figures of the series (Red Tornado, Power Girl, Gangbuster, Minuteman) and show that doing the right thing can be a bit grey at times due to things like bills and needing a pill to maintain your sanity/have superpowers for a minute. There are still some humorous moments featuring a silly take on a A-list DC character, but Lieber’s talent with facial expressions is mostly used to show how dejected Red Tornado feels and whether he’s worthy to be a hero again. One-Star Squadron #5 has a real air of desperation to it, and I’m excited to see how the mini wraps up. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Alex

Spider-Punk #1 (Marvel) I’m pretty far behind in my Spidey reading, but could resist picking this one up. Logan’s given a great little write up already, so suffice it to say that going in knowing very little about the character beyond what I’d seen in the PS4 game’s write up on the costume, I enjoyed the ever-loving hell out of this. Overall: 8.8 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 (**).

Those Two Geeks Episode 161: A trip to Galaxy’s Edge and chatting Moon Knight

The two geeks catch up in another relatively short episode and do not stay on any kind of track. There’s Joe’s experience at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, the first episode of Moon Knight and the obligatory toy talk.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on Twitter respectively @karcossa and @FirstRonin4 if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on Twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Music by AlexGrohl from Pixabay

Underrated: Vengeance Of The Moon Knight: Shock And Awe

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

This week: the multi-part crossover event Vengeance Of The Moon Knight: Shock And Awe.


I was actually going to write about a totally different book for today’s column, but when I was recording a podcast yesterday, I spend the best part of an hour and a half playing with a Moon Knight figure from Marvel Legends, which then led me to checking what Moon Knight books I owned. Not many, if I’m honest. My options were either this, the sequel or Midnight Son because I don’t have the Warren Ellis run in trade and I was too lazy to dig through my comic boxes to find it (even if I know exactly where it is).

This is the same image on the trade’s cover, and
I didn’t realize it wasn’t until it was already uploaded…

So, Vengeance Of The Moon Knight: Shock And Awe was the book that I ended up grabbing.

I remember really enjoying it the first time I read the series, ten or eleven issues set right at the end of the Dark Reign era of Marvel Comics which found Norman Osborn as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the “official” Avengers being made up of a group of villains in disguise (Bullseye as Hawkeye, Mac Gargan’s Venom as Spider-Man, Daken as Wolverine and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head). This sits in the background of this story, with Moon Knight’s antics being set to a backdrop of billboards and advertisements for the villains heroes. The real conflict in the book comes, as with so many great stories featuring Moon Knight, from whether he can control his dissociative identity disorder or if his bloodlust will rear it’s ugly head once again.

The book opens with Jake Lockley in control as Moon Knight, gently letting his comrades and friends know that Marc Spector is gone. Moon Knight’s reputation for excessive violence in his vigilante activities is played to great effect in this book – both by the supporting characters being surprised that there’s no blood on his white costume, and be his constant refusal to maim and kill, which adds to his internal struggle as the primary antagonist shows up in the book.

You don’t need to have read a lot of Moon Knight comics in the past to enjoy this book, nor its subtle dig at Batman’s willingness to use excessive force when facing off against multiple criminals, because this is a self contained story about a man looking for redemption on the biggest stage possible for his previous actions.

This isn’t one of the defining runs in Moon Knight’s history, but it is a lot of fun – and that’s why it’s a great candidate for today’s Underrated column. Check it out if you ever get a chance.


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

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 4/2/2022

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Immortal X-Men #1 (Marvel)– Kieron Gillen writing Sinister and Hope Summers again is a delight. He and Werneck show just how fragile and ego-driven the Krakoan experiment is and the jokes and the Utopia references are spot-on. Sinister’s ongoing sassy commentary sheds light on the different personalities of Krakoa and matches the chaos of the post-Inferno status quo. Immortal X-Men is soapy, messy, and intrigue-filled and is a true flagship for the line continuing the momentum after Hickman’s departure. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Season of the Bruja #1 (Oni Press)– Aaron Duran and Sara Soler’s Season of the Bruja has a cool, compelling premise (A witch descended from the Aztecs is the last line of defense from an underworld god and his demons.), but is structured in an awkward way. It starts in the middle of an action scene with furries (?) that introduces the protagonist Althalia and her associates, but not really as we only really get to know Althalia by the time the issue wraps up. Soler’s art has energy and flashy colors, and the interactions between Althalia and her grandmother (Who is also a bruja) are heartwarming and the real heart of the comic. She and Duran explore themes of imperialism through a visit at a museum with Aztec artifacts and the appearance of a racist priest type that immediately escalates to cops and heart attacks and action. Season of the Bruja has lots of good ingredients, but is bad at transitioning from scenes, creating context, and introducing characters. But its art is damn good. Overall: 6.2 Verdict: Pass

Brett

Amazing Spider-Man #93 (Marvel) – The Beyond Era wraps up setting us up for what should be some solid Spider-Man adventures to come. Ben Reilly has always been a character that felt like there wasn’t a complete idea as to how he should be handled but here’s an interesting direction that feels like it makes sense and a nice organic direction. Overall Rating: 8.0


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 160: Twenty Minutes of Unplanned Nothingness

The two geeks touch on the first episode of Moon Knight, the finale of Spider-Man Beyond (with no spoilers for either) and the slap heard around the world.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on Twitter respectively @karcossa and @FirstRonin4 if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on Twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Underrated: The Sixth Gun

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


Published by Oni Press, The Sixth Gun  was written by Cullen Bunn and features art by Brian Hurtt. This week we’re looking at the first 11 issues collected in the hardcover (which would have been two trade paperbacks from what I.m understanding). I picked up the hardcover used for just under $20

So what’s the story about?

During the darkest days of the Civil War, wicked cutthroats came into possession of six pistols of otherworldly power. In time the Sixth Gun, the most dangerous of the weapons, vanished. When the gun surfaces in the hands of an innocent girl, dark forces reawaken. Vile men thought long dead set their sights on retrieving the gun and killing the girl. Only Drake Sinclair, a gunfighter with a shadowy past, stands in their way. But the guns have a power… and a destiny… more terrifying than anyone imagines.

Before we get into the meat of the comic, physically this hardcover is a beast. It’s big enough that it won’t fit into an Ikea Kallax shelf unless you tip it on the side, which should give you an idea (assuming you know the size of those shelves). I went on a pretty strong Western kick over the last year or two, in no small part because of the videogame Red Dead Redemption II, and so I found myself quite excited when I found the first eleven issues of the series in one giant hardcover. Admittedly, I’ll probably continue the series in softcover – not because of the cost of the hardcover, but the size. It’s half an inch too big for my shelves, but that size does make it so much easier to enjoy the art work compared to a regular size comic or trade paperback.

And man, the artwork is good. Brian Hurtt illustrates and colours the first five issues, and is joined by colourist Bill Crabtree for the following six chapters of a fairly fast paced western story with supernatural elements. It’s a story that is perfect for comic book form. I’ve honestly no idea how hard this book is to find because I picked it up in a used store that just happened to have it for $20 (based on the ever reliable Amazon pricing, this was a great price), but if you can find either the trades, the hardcover, or even the floppy issues from your comic shop, then this is a fantastic read.


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. Eventually.

Review: The Harbinger #6

The Harbinger #6

The high flying Faith Herbert confronts her past face to face with the Harbinger himself, Peter Stanchek, as the war for Chicago begins and none other than Psiot City is first in the line of fire! Peter now must learn from the past that had been stolen from him and stand alongside his friends put a stop to The Renegade and Blam. But as the battle just begins with Psiots everywhere being targeted, is it already too late to save the day? 

The Harbinger #6 picks up from where the previous issue left off, with Peter Stanchek being knocked to the floor by Faith, as if there wasn’t a beat missed (when you read this is trade, you’re gonna have a hard time delineating where the issues begin and end, but that’s not relevant here). Co-writers Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing take some time to reacquaint readers with Faith, with Stanchek remembering her love of all things geek culture in his narration boxes. The comic is actually fairly text heavy, which slows the speed a little but oddly give me a nostalgic feeling as the amount of reading in the issue is reminiscent of comics from thirty odd years ago; back when we used to walk to school uphill both ways in a blizzard in the middle of May, comics had a lot more story to them than they typically do today. The Harbinger #6 evokes those nostalgic feels because it is text heavy without it overwhelming the art work.

Robbie Rodriguez and Rico Renzi (artist and colourist respectively) and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou have a very distinct look for the comic, and personally I’m a fan. I enjoy the line work and the detail in the character’s faces and hair; there’s nothing overly complicated about the artwork, but it’s elegant in the scratchiness. With The Harbinger #6. once again the writers make this comic feel interconnected with the rest of the Valiant Universe, giving the book a very uniting sense both in and out of the story as Peter Stanchek tries to pull together Psiot City despite the best efforts of those opposed to him.

Ultimately this is another really solid entry to the series, and while it won’t set the world on fire, it’s checking every box of a good comic.

Story: Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing Art: Robbie Rodriguez
Colours: Rico Renzi Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 3/26/2022

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Saga #57 (Image)– Saga #57 is light on action, but Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples use this installment to have the pain of Marko’s really sink in and also get to know the pirates that Alana, Hazel, and Squire are running with. Plus there’s a full page splash of Ghus, who is still happy and innocent after going through so much trauma. The flashback also shows the extent that Alana has gone to survive in a world without her husband. Along with this, there’s also a B-plot featuring The Will building intrigue and conflict between the Robot Kingdom and Landfall. The war in Saga is pointless, but Vaughan and Staples continue to do an excellent job showing how it impacts the cast of the book. Overall : 7.8 Verdict: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Those Two Geeks Episode 159: Wait, What did Todd say?

The two geeks talk a little more about The Batman because they’re mildly obsessed with the movie, and then move on to talking about a comment Todd McFarlane made in an interview this week.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on Twitter respectively @karcossa and @FirstRonin4 if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on Twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Underrated: Green Valley

Did you read this book yet? Allow us to remind you why you should with a rerun of a column from 2019.


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: Green Valley


Published by Image, Green Valley was written by Max Landis and features art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, inks by Cliff Rathburn and colours by Jean Francois Beaulieu. The wonderful hardcover collection in my hands collects nine issues and will set you back $29.99 (I paid for this out of my own pocket, and happily so, even though I probably had access to the single issue review copies).

So what’s the story about?

GreenValleyHC.jpg

The knights of Kelodia are the finest in the land, but they’ve never faced a POWER like the one that resides in the Green Valley. Now they’re about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—to stop a wizard and slay his dragons—but there’s no such thing as magic or dragons…is there? 

You may have noticed by reading this column that I tend to enjoy stories set in and around medieval times, even though I don’t tend to read that many comics set in that era (or at least I didn’t until this year). So when my LCS suggested I pick this up (it was on the counter and the owner told me I’d like it) I did so without question because sometimes I don’t want to read superhero comics.

One of the first things I noticed was that the hardcover itself just feels utterly wonderful in your hands.  The above image is of the hardcover, with the comic art inset slightly into the gold and green cover of the book itself in an effect that really doesn’t translate as well in the image as it does in person, but it does give you a hint about the nature of the story, which aside from the cover and text on the back I entered utterly blindly – and I fell in love.

green valley interior 2.jpg
green valley interior.jpg

Green Valley is the kind of book that you will want to read in a single sitting – it grabs you right from the start as you’re introduced to the legendary Knights of Kelodia (all four of them) as they face down a barbarian horde in a brilliant sequence that’s full of dry humour, a genuine feeling camaraderie from the knights  and tense knightly masculinity all wrapped up in some beautiful visuals that are some of the nicest pure-comic pages I’ve seen in quite some time. Were I reviewing this here, I’d be giving this at least 9’s across the board and telling you to buy this without question – the story and art genuinely took me by surprise and had me forget that I really should be doing a bunch of other stuff for the hour or so I sat enraptured in this story.

Without spoiling anything, it’s tough to explain why I loved this story, but that won’t stop me from trying. Green Valley is a very intelligently written book, with dialogue that is, at times, so sharp you could loose a finger. There are moments that span the gamut of human emotion for the characters, and will have you laughing out loud and pumping your fist as the story goes on – just as you’ll feel gut-punched at certain other moment. Max Landis has written one hell of a story that deserves a very special place on your shelf.

Now excuse me while I go reread it (no, I’m not saying that for effect – I’m actually going to reread it now).


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.

Zeismic
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