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.
Action Comics #1037 (DC)– Philip Kennedy Johnson and a new art team of Miguel Mendonca and Adriano Lucas majorly put Superman and the Authority through the wringer as the United Planets look on and do nothing. Mendonca’s layouts are like the blades that Mongul and his Warzoons use, and he has an answer for everyone on Superman’s team. The lead story is sad, depressing, and has an air of hopelessness as Superman’s drive to be a hero doesn’t payoff with the inhabitants of Warworld cheering on Mongul, and a member of his team having grave injuries. There might be some kind of metaphor about American interventionist foreign policy here, but it’s kind of lost under the fisticuffs. Action Comics #1037 also features a Martian Manhunter backup story from Shawn Aldrige and Adriano Melo with an intriguing start and charming take on the character. However, it ends up being a shapeless, generic superhero story in the end. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read
Nightwing Annual 2021 (DC)– Nightwing Annual 2021 explores the brotherly relationship between Dick Grayson and Jason Todd and will definitely go down as one of the highlights of Tom Taylor’s Nightwing run. The issues features two different artists (With an inking assist from Raul Fernandez) and colorists with Cian Tormey and Rain Beredo handling the grittier present day scenes where Jason Todd has been framed for the murder of an FBI agent while Daniel HDR and John Kalisz do the cleaner flashbacks featuring a team-up between disco collar era Nightwing and Robin. Even though they have different temperaments and past trauma, Taylor, Tormey, and HDR show that Jason and Dick have something in common as they both struggle to live up to Batman’s expectations for them. Also, unlike Bruce, Dick sees the best in Jason and immediately starts clearing his name and enlisting him in a final explosive showdown. Cian Tormey and Daniel HDR do a good job of making the action sequences in Nightwing Annual fluid and easy to follow while differentiating between Jason’s more brutal fighting style and Dick’s acrobatics. The banter that Tom Taylor pens between them is the icing on the cake, and this book is a true celebration of the best Robin and Dick Grayson. Overall: 9.3 Verdict: Buy
Wonder Woman: Historia #1 (DC/Black Label)– Wonder Woman Historia #1 is a fucking masterpiece from Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, Arif Prianto, Hi-Fi, and Romulo Fajardo. This one is worth picking up in physical format for Jimenez’s intricate designs for the Amazons and Greek gods and goddesses alone that are laid out on a myriad of double page spreads. Even though it pays homage to the classic George Perez arc “Gods and Mortals, DeConnick and Phil Jimenez craft a counterstory for the Amazons and root their creation in the ways non-men are left out of narratives, history, and social structures. Jimenez conveys that by riffing off Greek figure pottery before bringing the various goddesses to glorious life using digital painting and other techniques. His and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s take on Hera is definitive, and she plays a pivotal role in the narrative as the one goddess who didn’t contribute to the birth of the Amazons. Having said all this, the true emotional heart of Wonder Woman: Historia #1 is Hippolyta, who is the furthest thing from queen in the story, but rages and fights to protect life and marginalized folks. DeConnick’s script sets up Phil Jimenez to chronicle the first steps of an excruciating journey told through memorable layouts and anguish-filled close-ups of her face with just enough words to add context and majesty. I’d recommend this to anyone who appreciates the art form of comics, and even non-comics readers interested in feminism, mythology, classical civilizations, and visual beauty. Overall: 9.9 Verdict: Buy
Amazing Spider-Man #80 (Marvel)– Trippy, identity-searing, Ditko-esque visuals from Michael Dowling and Jesus Aburtov aside, Amazing Spider-Man #80 is much more interesting when dealing with Ben Reilly and his girlfriend Janine’s conflict/relationship with Beyond Corporation than yet another retread of Kraven’s Last Hunt. Cody Ziglar and Dowling bring in some of the tone of Jed MacKay’s .BEY issue with pages cutting to Beyond employee’s trying to cure Ben in very creative ways or dealing with a truly empowering Janine and their take-no-shit boss Maxine Danger. Beyond ends up saving Ben’s life which adds some nuance to their relationship between do-gooder legacy superhero and evil corporation. But the real good stuff is yet to come with cameos from Spider-Man favorites from the distant past and the more recent past that will be significant to the ongoing narrative. Overall: 7.3 Verdict: Read
Venom #2 (Marvel)– Venom #2 focuses on Dylan Brock’s life as a fugitive with his symbiote dog Sleeper. He’s lost his connection to his dad and has bonded with Venom and only has a voicemail to lead him on his way. Ram V builds off the heart of Donny Cates’ run on Venom and writes some truly tender dialogue about the relationship Eddie has with his son while Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, and Alex Sinclair turn in yet another installment of blockbuster action. Because he causes such mayhem and the symbiotic powers can be used and counteracted in creative ways, Hitch’s widescreen approach to storytelling is a perfect match for Venom. He also nails the quieter moments like Dylan hitchhiking to Sacramento with the art carrying the plot while V does the father/son heart strings thing. Venom #2 also adds elements of political intrigue with the reappearnce of a classic Venom antagonist, and Ram V and Bryan Hitch take a page out of the X-Men handbook and make symbiotes a metaphor for marginalized folks. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy
Justice League Incarnate #1 (DC Comics) – With the DC Universe’s reach expanded to the omniverse, a new team of heroes has gathered from across the multiverse to deal with Darkseid and whatever he has planned. The issue is a decent debut with a style in both storytelling and art that feels a bit like a throwback in some ways. It does a decent job of introducing the heroes who are stepping up to stop Darkseid but the issue feels a bit too much like “lets do alternate takes on characters *wink* *wink*”. Hopefully, the series delivers more than that as it’s clear it’ll be key to whatever big event its story is building to. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
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 (**).