Author Archives: SHAY REVOLVER

Review: Harley Quinn #53

In Part One of the “Minor Disasters” story arc of Harley Quinn, writer Sam Humphries takes us on a fun romp through the world of Harley as she works on maintaining her internet stardom. I wish that my previous sentence was leading somewhere awesome and that wasn’t the whole story but, unfortunately that’s it.

Harley is no longer a social justice warrior, saving the missing homeless, protecting her neighborhood, or any of the good that she’s been doing. Instead, she’s fallen in line with the rest of the basics and is solely concerned with maintaining her internet stardom.

The issue starts off with her saving Coney Island from an Orc while trying to rack up major views on her channel and ends with her being embarrassed by a video where she trashes her fans is accidentally uploaded, possibly ending her internet reign and killing her fan base.

The things that happen in between the pages of these two events is nothing short of mind boggling. The major villain in this arc is Minor Disaster, the isolated and approval seeking daughter of Major Disaster. After a series of unanswered texts and calls to her father she sets out to make her absentee dad notice her she sets her sites on the latest internet sensation, Harley Quinn. Her logic is that her dad thinks Harley is a joke so, the best way to get his (male) attention is for her to take down (another woman) Harley. So, she stalks her and waits for her chance to catch Harley at a weak point , where she is lamenting about the toll pleasing her fans and “management” team are taking on her and use that to destroy her. The big bad in this issue is a female villain who isn’t very good at being a villain and is seeking validation through a mans a approval. Harley’s big mission on this story arc is shaping up to be centered on Harley, restoring her good name with Tina’s help because, despite what the previous issues have told us, Harley’s biggest concern is what others think of her.

For Harley’s part, she finds herself at the mercy of her team who want her to get her already high numbers up, please her fan base and never ever get “real” or emotionally because that’s not what sells. It kind of hurts to see Harley in such a powerless position, especially since the Harley we had gotten used to was all about girl power and being a bad ass and not caring what other people thought. Humphries seems to think the best direction for Harley to go is down to a base level, where pleasing others and giving up herself as tribute to the will others is her biggest concern and only course of action. It’s such a step backwards that, I can only assume that this episode will turn out to be some elaborate dream sequence that we will all laugh at when the arc is over. The issue seems to take pleasure in showing all of the surface boiler plate women in comics tropes and none of the breaking out of the box assigned to us empowerment stories that we had become so accustomed to and rooted for. We got a total of four pages of Harley having agency in a 32 page issue and both times, she was put back into her place by either her handlers or her fear of “exposure” to her fans. The disturbing part was that in her realist and most honest points in the issue, she was told by others that her emotions and feeling were essentially wrong, inconvenient and that they need to be locked away because no one wanted to see them. It was the comic book equivalent of a man telling a woman walking down the street to “smile”.

If I had to look for a positive in this off-putting issue, it would be Lucas Werneck provides the pop centric aesthetically pleasing art work that is full of cuteness and fun while Alex Sinclair makes the art work come to life with his use of sleek, bubble gum colors. Everything from the attention to detail to the way the characters hair color pops makes #53 a pretty little comic. The panels seem to tell a story all their own and are so breathtaking that you can figure out what’s going on by just looking at them. In fact what the artists call on and evoke is what I wished was going on, a real story with Harley as hero, fighting for the little guy and saving Coney Island, or the world.

There are some undertones that call out the cult of celebrity and internet stardom into the foreground and somehow that works with this particular incarnation of the Harley story but, that says a lot about the story that Humphries is telling. With everything going on in the country , I liked knowing Harley was slaying the big machine on the pages of her comic book but, if this issue is any indication, those days are long gone. The start of this story arc isn’t big on girl power or addressing real societal problems like the previous writers focused on, it’s not as bad as it could be Harley didn’t end up back with the Joker, and the artists didn’t use whole panels to perpetuate a male gaze but, that isn’t a very high bar to set. This issue signals a return to a slightly vapid, Harley who finds herself under the control of fame and handlers ,instead of the thumb of the Joker. Basically trading one fickle toxic relationship for another and killing any growth that the past few years have brought her.

Overall this issue feels like a step backwards from the strong independent, bad ass, morally ambiguous but, always down for saving those who have nothing Harley that we had grown to love. While Harley Quinn #53 isn’t a full nail in my Harley loving coffin, it’s not exactly where I thought things were going when the baton was passed. If you take the issue as it is and for what it is, it’s a quick, fun, basic read and nowhere near the page turner , thought provoking Harley we had grown to love and root for. I’m hoping that the arc picks up and, that Humphries gives Harley something real to fight for, instead of her reputation or fame and we get a real taste at the feminist icon we know is hiding in Harley’s newly revamped shell. She’s deserves it and so do we.

Story: Sam Humphries Artist: Lucas Werneck
Story: 5.7 Art: 8.9 Overall: 6.4 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Submerged #1

Vita Ayala‘s new comic Submerged has all the makings of a great series and I can’t wait to get pulled deeper into Ellie’s world. There are some pretty cool mythological undertones that make Ayala’s story seem like a kind of underworld Odyssey and I’m all the way here for it. The family drama between Ellie and her parents and Ellie and her brother Angel, the object of her quest, are spot on in everything from sibling birth order to resentment for responsibilities that are too much for a child to bear. Ayala manages to get us to feel for her protagonist and to agree to go on this creepy, soul searching journey with her in under 24 pages, which is one hell of a feat but, as a reader you get one hell of a ride.

Lisa Sterle‘s artwork is low key but hella detailed. She uses basic lines when showing way back flashbacks which makes them feel more like a dream or a memory more skewed to Ellie’s perspective. The current time settings are heavy and dreary which show Ellie’s despair and isolation and when she descends into the subway, Sterle makes everything look like the world and people are slowly falling apart, things begin to have less and less shine the further down she goes ,which makes the transition to the last panel of this issue less jarring but, more intense.

Submerged is a fun and engaging read and it ends on a cliffhanger that makes you think about what happened before that moment and what could possibly happen after in the interim while you wait for issue #2. Ayala knows how to do character development and she sets a tone that we are sure will guide our heroes journey from this issue forward. The combination of art and story make for a fresh new series that I can’t wait to read more of and, the creative team had the good sense to not only avoid packing too much info into the issue while simultaneously, finding a hook to make sure that readers will return for the next installment.

Story: Vita Ayala Art: Lisa Sterle
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Buy

Vault Provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Black Betty #5

Shawn Gabborin doesn’t reveal much in the newest story arc for Black Betty. Black Betty #5 tells the story of a sweet deaf boy named Noah who gets Betty’s contact info from his dead grandpas’ hand. Noah shoots Betty a text so that sends her on a road trip to Edgeclif, South Dakota to find and fight some monsters. There’s something sinister going on in this town and poor l’il Noah only trusts Betty because his grandpa trusted her enough to be his final call. Gabborin paints the picture of a charming small town with a dark secret so perfectly that even though it’s a classic Body Snatcher story, you find yourself invested.

If the story wasn’t enough to pull you in, Rafael Dantas artwork is chock full of classic tattoo art style that suits Betty and the story well. Dantas makes a clear distraction, style wise, about how much tamer and “normal” the citizens and the town will look versus how Betty appears. Even though Betty is dressed in classic rockabilly style , the 1950s-sequel town she is stuck in for this story arc comes off as a separate character distinct from her, Dantas makes sure that Betty doesn’t look like she fit in.

There’s something to be said about Gabborin’s choice of co-protagonist in the deaf Noah, he’s a town crier trying to bring light to a horrible situation but, just like Noah can’t hear , no one seems to be able to hear him. Noah uses a cell phone to communicate through text and while in most cases his disability would be seen as a downside, there’s something powerful in the reveal that his disability is the thing keeping him alive. This puts Noah in the position of watching the monsters convert, devour and kill at will driving him slowly mad which is horrible for the kid but, great for the story.

This latest story arc seem like it’s going to be an awful lot of fun and I can’t wait to find out how the story ends. I’m looking forward to having my most burning questions answered like, will Betty be saved from the horde? Will Noah outwit the monsters? Why are small towns always so creepy? And, who does laundry on Saturday?

Story: Shawn Gabborin Art: Rafael Dantas
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Action Lab provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Deadpool #2

There’s something really awesome about Skottie Young leaving the fate of known, and some unknown, world in the hands of Deadpool. Deadpool #2 is just as fun as, well almost every other Deadpool comic. It’s s guilty pleasure that gives you the warm and fuzzies on a hot summer day. This issue finds our reluctant hero getting hit with Captain America’s shield, having lunch with some of his mall coworkers, getting sassed by Negasonic , going d-bag to d-bag with Iron Man, trying to save the world solo as a merc for hire and getting into a shootout with Avengers. Young serves up some peak Deadpool awesomeness and even with so much going on, there’s nothing unnecessary to the story or that seems disingenuous to the character.

I’m not a huge fan of what Nic Klein does with the art here most of the time. Most of the time. Panels that take place away from Pool are a bit murky, washed out and lack detail or design, while the panels with him are full of focus which would be hella jarring and disorientating if you’re just thumbing through it a comic store. I think that it would have made more sense to have the world not involving Deadpool be the one that was crisp and the world/panels he exists in be disorientated to showcase his frame of mind. If a reader is going to be pulled out of the story it makes more sense to have them pulled out when our fave anti-hero is already doing exactly that already. It’s an odd artistic choice because it takes some time to get back in when Deadpool’s not on a page. It pulls you from the story .

Overall the writing saves the day, it’s a classic Deadpool story complete with him, and his unicorn, running off half cocked to save the world for cash, because Iron Man is loaded. It’s a quick fun read that stays true to cannon and ends on the perfect panel to get us ready for the next issue.

Story: Skottie Young Art: Nic Klein
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Throwaways #14

It’s a story Abby and Dean know well – a popular politician, a lone gunman, and lives shattered. But that’s where the story they know stops, because when ULTRA is involved, nobody is innocent, dead people don’t tend to stay that way, and Dean is about to meet the Alpha subject who’s been haunting his dreams for months – with earth-shattering results.

The trouble with writer Caitlin Kittredge’s Throwaways #14 is it’s inconsistency. Kittredge’s writing style tries to be clever but comes off tedious, cliched, and overly wordy. The creative team seems to forget that a comic is a collaborative effort where the story and panels complement each other to create something wonderful. This is more tell than show, losing some of the strength of the graphic medium. Kittredge seems to be solely interested in showing how many pop culture references and smart quips she can squeeze on a page, which would be fine if she wasn’t relying on just the words and provided some context or substance to back it all up.

Not only does Kittredge insist on telling you everything every character is thinking, and everything they are doing as they are doing it, the dialogue is also hella wordy and downright boring. The action is few and far between which would be fine except the story is so uninspiring that by the time anything happens you no longer care.

Throwaways #14 is a true waste of an interesting premise with strong female leads who seem to be slowly developing but, instead of giving the characters something to work with, the reader gets stuck with unrealistic dialogue that makes all of the characters come off as a hive mind clone.

The story itself isn’t all bad but, the characters are forced to speak some truly horrendous and unbelievable lines. In a tense scene, a character, who has been drugged and essentially kidnapped, decides to escape his parental characters by engaging in a pages long discussion before trying to leave. When he does this he is immediately shot back down because, as his captor tells him, he is drugged. This would be fine except, less than two pages later he actually just walks out the door and as he leaves he says, “oh, you know what… F*** you both”. Not only is the dialogue ridiculous, the pacing is. How is someone too drugged to leave and then twelve sentences later, perfectly OK? Why would anyone, in any situation, say that?

Steven Sanders art work is basic but probably the most interesting thing about Throwaways #14. Sanders went with lackluster muted earth tones , that were supposed to convey the despair of the situation but, because the dialogue is so bad, it just drains the reader more. Taken on their own, the panels would something fun to look at, unfortunately some of the delicious panels are so filled with dialogue bubbles you don’t get to see a lot of it. This issue focuses on an assassination attempt of this arcs big baddy but there’s a convoluted subplot and some background chaos going on that is supposed to shake things up but, instead adds to the chaos.

Throwaways #14 is a bit of a disappointment which sucks because I had high hopes for this series. It seems that even after a few issue hiatus on my part, things haven’t gotten better and the creative team has doubled down on everything that made this comic draining.

Story: Caitlin Kittredge Art: Steven Sanders
Story: 6.1 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Orphan Black: Crazy Science #1

In Orphan Black: Crazy Science #1, we find Cosima and Delphine being the most brilliant and adorably in love duo while trying to find a cure for 274 Leda clones. Writer Heli Kennedy manages to spend equal amounts of time setting up the current problem and showing the beauty of a loving relationship. Kennedy manages to showcase our heroes intelligence without relying on silly “smart girls” tropes. She also showcases their relationship without stooping to unrealistic or hyper-sexualized lesbian relationship tropes.

Artist Fico Ossio has a simplistic yet sleek art style, reminiscent of early Wynonna Earp comics, that keeps the focus on Cosima, Delphine and the Leda Clones and not their more feminine assets. Ossio is respectful and tender in his depiction of Cosima and Delphine’s relationship and romantic moments. He doesn’t linger on their curves of hold a panel two long on their tongues while they kiss, he treats them like people and not objects , which is refreshing.

The story takes the duo to Brazil , has them rewrite their love story, become more emotionally intimate and play super spy by following the car of a Leda Clone to remote area of Brazil. There isn’t a panel or word wasted and everything helps to move the story foreword with supreme precision. This issue was the definition of a page turner, from the beautiful soft art work to the meaningful romantic and, scientific bedside chats , this inaugural issue of the latest arc is amazing. It is well written, heavy but not convoluted and easy to follow , whether you’ve watched the show or not. Crazy Science could be an arc to suck you into the Orphan Black universe, or at least it could have been,

The only bad thing about this comic is that it ended on a stellar cliffhanger and we might not get to see what happens next. This issue might be the end, IDW preemptively cancelled the series due to low order numbers, so #2 and #3 might never see the light of day. Hopefully, word of mouth will get more people into the shops (preferably) or shopping on line and we can force their hand for the rest. The run was cancelled after the initial printing of issue #1 so, even though 2 and 3 were planned, they might never make it to see the light of day, which sucks because Crazy Science had the makings of one hell of a banger. I hope IDW changes their mind because, they were really on to something with this one.

Story: Heli Kennedy Art: Fico Ossio
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Lowlifes #1

There should be a trigger warning on Brian Buccellato’s inaugural issue of Lowlifes, since IDW Publishing neglected to do so, I am giving one for my review.

Lowlifes #1 has the violence that you would expect from a comic with a dead woman on the cover but it also has scenes and talk about a brutal rape and continued harassment by the victims still free rapist. Lowlifes starts with a flash forward that ends with a literal bang before jumping to introduce us to the world of the characters. Buccellato weaves a story of Richard, a cop set out for vengeance, Leonard (Lenny) who starts the story in a shady gun deal in a car and, and Wendell an unseen force that connects the story.

While this premiere issue clues us in on the three main characters, it doesn’t actually explain what’s going on with the story. The only person who we get to know is Richard and we discover more about his wife than we do about him.

The gritty, muted artwork by Alexis Sentenac goes well with the story that Buccellato aims to tell and the palette choices prepare the readers for the story of rape, murder, and brutal violence that Lowlifes explores. It’s reminiscent of early 80s depiction of Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil. While Sentenac’s style matches the story it isn’t very original and seems kind of stale and derivative. Some of the panels reminded me too much of 80’s comics. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because it serves it’s purpose but it lacks the unique charm, shadows, and ominous tone of the original. Some of the panels seemed like things I’ve seen before. The comic isn’t very pretty, and it shouldn’t because of the story, but usually when this style of art is used the artist attempts to tweak it and make it into another character in the story. Sentenac just misses the mark in that aspect. Considering the material that Sentenac was working with, he does a pretty good and gets high praise from me for the way he frames the rape flashback. It’s not sensationalized and seems rather respectful to the female form and the character.

Overall, the comic isn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. It’s kind of underwhelming. If Buccellato was only going to focus on one character he could have let us into the characters life more. Instead he shows us the age old trope of man seeking revenge for his raped love because he didn’t arrive in time to save her. The scenario is very predictable until it’s ludicrous. Richard doesn’t manage to actually arrest the guy, even though he chases him and the rapist harasses his wife with presents after the attack because he was never charged. While that does happen, the particulars of the way things go down are highly unlikely. You can tell the rape storyline was written by a man because of how he thinks it goes down and what’s worse it appears to be a man who has never watched a crime procedural because, if he had he would have know that there were other ways to catch this guy and, if he knew that then Richard, a cop, would have known that too.

I realize that the story needs something to propel itself forward and explain why a “good cop” would get involved with a criminal but the reasoning doesn’t make sense. I don’t approve of using a woman’s suffering to propel a man’s story as a general rule but the hackneyed, unrealistic and, implausible way that Buccellato writes this scenario makes it a boring story. The story is 20 pages in a 34 page comic and perhaps the issue would have made more sense, been more cohesive, and given more backstory if they had afforded the creative team more pages. I know more about Richard’s wife than I do about him and if he’s a central character, then her story shouldn’t be the driving force in his. It’s cliched and it’s been done before and better.

Even taking the haphazardly rehashing of a sexual assault out of the equation, the story itself is very one dimensional and rather boring, much like the art work it is paint by numbers and tries to contain everything the writer heard that a story like this should contain but lacks the heart , soul and levels that people who have done it before used to make it work.

Story: Brian Buccellato Art: Alexis Sentenac
Story: 5.4 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.9 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Harley Quinn #45

Harley Quinn #45 finds our favorite Brooklyn bad ass on vacation from all the drama back home. Writer Sam Humphries starts his story off with a phone chat between Mamma Quinn and Harley that by the end of the issue proves that sometimes Mamma does know best. We get treated to a cute little one page of teeny tiny Harley proving that she’s always been a bad ass who likes to dish out a good smack down to those who deserve it. We then get a visit from a couple of Female Furies, sent by Granny Goodness, to rain on Harley’s parade, or so she thinks.

John Timms artwork is sleek and on point. As usual, the stylized bubble gum aesthetic works well with the off putting violence, dark story, and blood tinged mayhem. The colors Gabe Eltaeb uses are dark and surround the pop art colored Harley making sure we know the focus of the story. He varies the shade just enough so we know when it’s a flashback, a dream, or the current truth, a simple yet effective technique. It’s a really pretty comic and the artwork alone tells a very compelling, page turning story.

The issue as a whole is brilliantly written, perfectly drawn, expertly colored and doesn’t waste an inch of any panel with erroneous information, fluff, or unnecessary silliness. Everything flows into each other so perfectly that they were to have ended the comic a page before they did it would have been a complete story but I’m not at all mad that they left us with a little something to look forward to. Even the last page is perfect and pulls us further into the story. Humphries and his art crew do a great job at keeping the reader engaged and making sure that even without words you know this is a Harley story and a good one at that.

Story: Sam Humphries Art: John Timms
Story: 9.1 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Catwoman #1

It feels like Joëlle Jones has taken on a lot to make issue #1 of the “Catwoman Copycats” arc happen and all of her work pays off. Jones manages to cram a lot of information into the 24 page inaugural issue and I can’t wait to see where the story goes. There’s not a wasted word or panel and every element Jones uses propells the story forward and made me want to know more.

Catwoman #1 finds Catwoman enjoying herself while a copycat version of her is attacking and murdering two cops. On top of that, a politicians wife seems to be more than a desperate housewife and Selina is poised to take the fall for everything.

Jones’ artwork is simple but also very good. While it’s gritty, it’s also stylized and a sleek canvas for Catwoman to be Catwoman and for Selina Kyle to show us some of her humanity. The art is shiny but understated and serves its purpose wonderfully by providing an adequate backdrop to a pretty interesting story.

The twists aren’t cliched, the reveals aren’t expected, the villain and the motive are appropriately creepy and mysterious and the artwork gives us all the fill in information that the story doesn’t provide without overshadowing the rest. The story Jones tells is pretty straightforward but also very inventive and human. We get to see Selina’s emotions as she goes from bliss, to sadness, to despair, to anger and inevitable discovery during her attempt to clear her name.

Catwoman #1 is a page turner. There’s a sweet slow start that immediately turns up the heat and comes to a full boil by the end. The artwork doesn’t feel like Jones’ best work or feels fresh but it serves the narrative well and complements the interesting story. The great thing about this issue is that even though you know going in what the story is about there are still little surprises and twists and turns that make what could have been a run of the mill arc an actual page turner. The action’s nice, the art is classic but sassy, and the writing’s clever. It’s definitely worth a read.

Story: Joëlle Jones Art: Joëlle Jones
Story: 8.7 Art: 7.9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

Review: Death of Inhumans #1

I will give no spoilers for The Death of the Inhumans, the amazing, well written and soulful story that writer Donny Cates tells with precision bringing you further into the world of the Inhumans. Cates opens this new miniseries with a bit of a history lesson on Inhuman history and evolution before pushing us forward to Black Bolt on his mission to discover more about the 11,036 dead Inhumans that he never knew existed but feels responsible for. There’s a killer on the loose bent on Inhuman genocide and there is no question that war is coming.

Ariel Olivetti and Jordie Bellaire’s art work makes the characters look realistic and human. The mutated hybrids look both ethereal and sympathetic. The art is simplistic yet refined and gives off the feel of reading a movie rather than a comic book, it’s not so flashy that you’re distracted but, not so dull that you’re bored. The present tense portion of the story uses a beautiful blue tint that feels calming and cold, a wonderful compliment to the mission that Black Bolt finds himself on, it’s also a direct contrast to the earth tones and primitive but, detailed art style used in creation story of the Inhumans that fills the early pages of this issue. The palette and tone of the art shifts again to a more muted and realistic tone after Medusa’s pep talk as she and Black Bolt go to speak to their people. Every color change and panel comes off as deliberate , even when the features on the characters is hard to make out, you feel it’s intentionality and get moved by the feeling of despair and confusion which sets up the carnage that follows perfectly especially when the comic panels get tinged with red for the introduction of Vox and continues as a theme for the deaths he causes.

Between Cates compelling and information packed story and Olivetti and Bellaire’s scene and character appropriate art Death of Inhumans #1 is one hell of a page turner. The fact that Olivetti and Bellaire use a different color palette for each change and part of the story could be messy and disorientating but, is done so well that it helps you shift your emotion to whatever is happening on the page now. The creative team mixes what they do so well that it’s more like looking at a movie more than reading a comic book and the story is so riveting that you forget that you’re actually reading and not just watching.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ariel Olivetti, Jordie Bellaire
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

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