Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Undone by Blood or The Shadow of a Wanted Man #5

With her family’s killer under the muzzle of her gun, the only thing standing between Ethel and revenge is a head full of bad memories. Undone By Blood #5 wraps up the first story arc.

Story: Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson
Art: Sami Kivelä
Color: Jordie Wordie
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Kindle
comiXology
Zeus Comics

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Join the Future #4

Clementine is still attempting to save her rural town of Franklin from being terraformed by the futuristic City. Join the Future #4 continues to explore the battle with modernity.

Story: Zack Kaplan
Art: Piotr Kowalski
Color: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Kindle
comiXology
Zeus Comics

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Empyre: Captain America #2

Empyre: Captain America #2
Empyre: Captain America #2

Phillip Kennedy Johnson gave his Captain America Empyre tie-in one of the toughest parts of any global conflict to deal with: American military policy. Ol’ Cap had his hands full in issue one trying to convince high ranking officers of providing support to the other countries of the world also fighting the Cotati. America refused, even when told they could inspire international allyship. Empyre: Captain America #2 is an exploration of that decision’s consequences.

Illustrated by Ariel Olivetti, Empyre: Captain America #2 continues to keep the bar high as a tie-in comic. It’s a great example of what these types of comics should be: short incursions into the event that can result in some fun worldbuilding mechanics. To use a music metaphor, good tie-in books can be rip-roaring guitar solos to the hit song that is the event. Johnson and Olivetti’s Empyre book is precisely that.

What makes this comic an essential read within the larger event is that its discussion on the politics of war on Earth feel epic and high stakes. Should Captain America fail at bringing together the international community to fight the Cotati as a singular force, Earth will have its hands full with an enemy that will never fall to the efforts of an individual country.

Captain America makes this point throughout. He speaks to soldiers and world leaders on the dangers of putting too much weight on heroics and not enough on the soldiers and people that are involved in every aspect of war. In one particular instance, Captain America tells a story about a Nazi ambush during World War II that incapacitated him and forced his fellow brothers in arms to take lead and salvage what they could out of the situation. Half of those soldiers died so that Captain America could live.

Empyre: Captain America #2

These types of stories help explain the comic’s focus on military action and how it can be used for good. It also falls in line with Empyre’s main story, where we see the idea of heroism clashing with the idea of practicality. Should heroes put their lives on the line when a less dangerous approach exists? What does this say about war? What should we be asking of soldiers when faced with the extreme realities of combat?

Olivetti’s art does an amazing job of showing the Cotati as a lethal invading force that is undoubtedly alien but also eerily similar to Earth’s vegetation. If the story were about our own vegetation rising up and trying to eradicate humanity, it would still work. The Cotati can infect humans with living seeds that turn them into Cotati themselves. For these sequences, Olivetti takes a very gruesome body horror approach that adds to the lethality of the invaders.

Empyre: Captain America #2 is an impressive exploration of the Cotati invasion and its forays into military policy basically hold up a mirror to America’s Army and how it could be doing more than it usually does.

Story: Phillip Kennedy Johnson Art: Ariel Olivetti
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg Letterer: Ariana Maher
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0
Recommendation: It’s Captain America. Why wouldn’t you buy it?

Review: Big Girls #1

Big Girls #1

Science fiction can often hold a mirror up to society delving into socio-political issues delivering an allegory by which we can learn. These stories are often layered and deep where a deep analysis can be made to understand what the story is a reflection about. Then there’s comics like Big Girls #1 that wears its thoughts on its sleeve and bashes you over the head with them.

Men are the problem and only women can stop them.

In the future a weird mutation turns men into giant monsters and the only thing standing in their way from destroying civilization are giant women who battle them like organic mecha. The concept is interesting if it didn’t feel familiar an despite it’s less than subtle leaning and thoughts, there’s something potentially there.

Written by and with art by Jason Howard, Big Girls #1 is an entertaining debut. It also might have a bit more to say than what’s on the surface. Howard gives us a world of what we need to know. There’s monsters and giant women to battle them. The women protect a walled off city that’s a safe zone compared to the utter destruction on the outside. The women are also managed by a no-nonsense man which is where the comic finds its most interesting aspect.

As the comic repeats over and over, men are the problem and women are the solution. It rings of Pacific Rim’s voice overs concerning kaiju and jaegers without the veiled layers. But, if men are the problem and the women answer to men, isn’t their boss part of the problem? And what about the monsters? They seem to be controlled by a woman? There’s clearly more here to what Howard lays out bluntly, enough to make future issues intriguing. If there’s something there, all the better. If that’s not addresses, it kind of undercuts the message a bit.

The art by Howard is interesting and fun. There’s a very clear vision to it all and a reliance on the art to build the world we’re being introduced to. Backgrounds, buildings, damage scenery, it all helps tell the story and informs us as to what might have happened to get to this point. It’s very much a show and not tell storytelling. The action from Howard is solid and at times shocking. Moments of victory are then compounded with a snap that catches the reader off guard. Battles with giant monsters deliver a blunt battle lacking you’d expect with creatures this size foregoing the finesse of smaller statures. It’s the battle between giants you’re expecting and we’ve seen many times before.

Big Girls #1 is an interesting debut. It’s either much smarter than initially sold or might undercut itself. It’s hard to say with one issue but it’s something that’s worthy to explore further. It might be a bit blunt in its messaging but it features a lot more than its giant battling women might have you believe.

Story: Jason Howard Art: Jason Howard Letterer: Fonografiks
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation:
Read


Purchase: comiXologyZeus Comics

Review: Seven Secrets #1

Seven Secrets #1

Seven Secrets #1 is a hell of a debut. The issue is full of action that clearly has a manga influence. It’s also a lot of fun and at the same time drops in tragedy. For centuries, the Order has trusted Holders and Keepers in protecting seven secrets with the power to change the world. Now, a new force has arisen to gain the secrets and has no issues killing whomever is needed to do so.

Writer Tom Taylor nails the first issue. The start is full of action and could easily have entertained with just that. But Taylor delivers more. Instead, he dives into the tragic backstory of the narrator leading to… something. It’s interesting in that what seems like a main character is only briefly seen as a child delivering a viewpoint about the situation and our two initial main characters instead. The issue is truly a set up of what’s to come, the 15 minutes before the credits roll for the film that’s about to be viewed.

Taylor also doesn’t dive too much into what’s at play. We know the secrets are powerful things. But what exactly? That remains unclear and in that way the issue builds mystery along with its world. It throws you into the action teasing what’s to come and never quite showing its hand.

Daniele Di Nicuolo‘s art is top-notch. There’s a manga influence to it in some of the action sequences and character designs. Along with Walter Baiamonte and Katia Ranalli‘s colors and Ed Dukeshire‘s lettering, the visuals pop from the page. The character designs are all interesting with a style that’s reminiscent of the fantasy series Skullkickers. That’s not a bad thing at all as I loved that comic in every way. The art team brings a kinetic visual energy about the comic. You can “hear” the action like a big screen explosion and visualize the over the top moments. It’s a big budget debut in comic form (at least the first 15 minutes of the film).

If you can’t tell, I loved Seven Secrets #1. Taylor and the team knock it out of the park with a story that’s full of action but doesn’t forget the heart. There’s some tragedy there that a parent and a child can relate to, even if just understanding the horror, which makes the comic so much more than cool stunts and cool fights. It’s a series that was already at the top of my list of ones I was excited to read and this start makes it one of my favorite debuts of the year.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Color: Walter Baiamonte, Katia Ranalli Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Empyre #5

Empyre #5

Empyre as an event has been a bit deeper than your usual summer popcorn. There’s been debates on war and what is an acceptable loss and sacrifice. Both sides have experienced this and the philosophies are pretty bleak and far too similar. Empyre #5 though takes the series into soapy drama as the truth about Hulkling is revealed and it’s exactly as expected.

Al Ewing and Dan Slott deliver the story, with Ewing on script in a chapter that is full of reveals but none of them are really all that surprising. The big one is utterly head scratching in the logistics make little sense. Empyre #5 is that expected battle as the Kree/Skrull empire turn on their human allies putting Earth in the middle with no one to help.

Empyre #5 isn’t a bad chapter to the epic. It’s just rather predictable. There’s an almost trope-ish Bond-like villain aspect to it as the timer begins ticking in multiple ways. It’s the moment and issue where the story walks back some of the smarts and depth shown in previous issues. It shifts to a more expected event focus of battles and action.

And that shift is interesting as artist Valerio Schiti continues to forgo splash pages. Instead the art is more at the page and panel level. We don’t get two page spreads with images leaping from it. There is a more interesting use of panels in some parts of the comic. The layouts are more interesting than they’ve been but again, the art isn’t as splashy as one might expect for a bit event. Schiti’s art is enhanced by Marte Gracia’s colors and Joe Caramagna’s lettering. It all comes together to create visuals that are interesting and engaging but at the same time sort of conservative and muted in a way. It’s not over the top where the art becomes the most interesting aspect of the story.

Empyre #5 is a bit of a letdown in that it brings the event down to the level that was expected. It’s an issue that’s about the over the top action in some ways betraying the more insightful previous issues. It is a lowest common denominator in some ways walking back what was an interesting event. Hopefully, as the event wraps up, we’re treated to more of what was and not just more of this issue.

Story: Al Ewing, Dan Slott Script: Al Ewing Art: Valerio Schiti
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.85 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Bloodshot #7 Fully Loaded Edition

Bloodshot #7 Fully Loaded Edition

Valiant’s supersoldier must hunt down monsters, aliens, living weapons, and other terrifying threats after they’re set loose from a top-secret facility in “The Burned” Part 1 – plus exclusive new content, and commentary from Kevin VanHook! All in the Bloodshot #7 Fully Loaded Edition!

Note: The story hasn’t changed at all in the Bloodshot #7 Fully Loaded Edition, and you’ll find the review for that below. This update is specifically talking about the added content to the comic.

Content that is designed to pull those who have already purchased the comic back to buy another one with a half dozen pages of extras, but is it enough? Eh… maybe. If you’re a super fan, or somebody who loves to learn about the history and the behind the scenes of comics, the answer is obvious, just as if it is if you haven’t read the book at all: Absolutely.

But if you’re more interested in the story? Well that can get a bit trickier. There’s a page with scenes from the comics that inspired the movie, which honestly, is two thirds a crock of shit with two panels taken from this series, which was released after the movie had finished filming, but before it hit cinemas. It feels like that was thrown in as filler, with panels that look kinda similar, so why not try it?

The next two pages of the extras are worth reading as Bloodshot co-creator Kevin Van Hook takes you on a tour of the character’s origin. It may be a story some are familiar with, but if you’re not then it’s a worthy read, followed by Tim Seely taking us on a quick look inside a certain page.

After that we get a breakdown of the characters in the series, which is great for new fans, but maybe less exciting for some.

Is the Bloodshot #7 Fully Loaded Edition worth buying if you’ve already picked up the story the first time it came through? Maybe – it depends on your interest in the character. For me, it’s a book I’ll be picking up when I hit up my LCS, but I’m one of those fans who loves the history of comics, and Van Hook’s section is worth the price of admission for me alone.


Original Review:

What better way to release a comic featuring the first character to appear on the big screen than by having it start with a new jumping on point? A first issue, you could say, and you wouldn’t be wrong – but with the comic already having had seven issues released (including Bloodshot #0) it would have been a touch disingenuous to renumber the series with the story still ongoing. Nobody would ever do that. Certainly not.

If you are looking to check the character out ahead of the movie, or you’re reading this after having seen the Sony Pictures Bloodshot movie starring Vin Diesal, then you’ll be happy to know that Bloodshot #7 is fairly new reader friendly. Cleverly paced dialogue that flows without feeling like forced exposition tells you everything you need to know.

Bloodshot has been one fast-paced and frenetic issue after another. It has been a great ride for the last seven issues. I’ve certainly enjoyed the series for what it is; a popcorn comic that has a depth to it that’s revealed further with each issue. Tim Seeley gives you a little more of his plan with each release. There are moments in this issue that change or enhance your idea of the characterizations of some characters inbetween the action. It’s this balance that allows you to fly through the book while still feeling like you’ve read more than the twenty-odd pages.

Seeley is joined by artist Marc Laming, inker Adelso Corona, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe. All of whom combine for an aesthetic that appeals enormously to me. The style gives me a sense of nostalgia for the comic art I read growing up; it’s dynamic, clean and yet full of life and vibrancy.

If the above paragraph feels familiar to you it’s because I copied it from the review of the last issue. It was as true then as it is for this issue, and I didn’t feel like I should try and craftily rewrite the same thing when my feelings on the visuals haven’t changed. Personally, I love how this book looks. The lines are clean and it’s very easy to discern what’s happening on every page.

Bloodshot #7 isn’t the most original story. It won’t shake you to your core or have you asking yourself deeply introspective questions. But not every comic needs to do that. What Bloodshot does, it does very well. Seeley, Booth, and co have been remarkably consistent issue to issue, and I can’t really find any fault in an issue that does exactly what it says on the tin (that may be an obscure reference for you – it’s from a UK add originating in the late 90’s from a company called Ronseal).

Bloodshot remains one of the series I look forward to reading each month. This wasn’t the best comic I’ve read this week, but it still comes with a big fat stamp of approval from me.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Marc Laming
Ink: Adelso Corona Color: Andrew Dalhouse Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.


Purchase: comiXology

Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal #3

Dark Nights: Death Metal #3

Dark Nights: Death Metal #3 is an interesting issue. With its “rock” aesthetic, the issue is one that’s more about hope. It’s the moment in the story where the heroes rally and their plan is laid out for the reader. It also, much like the previous issue, isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. There’s a lot of silliness in the issue that feels like it clashes with the “death metal” title. But, is it really “death metal” in attitude? As we learn in this issue, and as expected, nope, the title has a different meaning than pitched.

Written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo, Dark Nights: Death Metal #3 has our gang of heroes rushing to Apokolips to free Superman and turn the tide of battle. As we learn, there’s much more than Superman being focused on when it comes to the plan in this issue. And that’s a good thing keeping the event from another “Trinity” focused event where Batman is the center of things. Instead, Wonder Woman has taken center stage and in her rallying speech, we can see why as she represents the hope that the heroes need.

But, the issue has a weird tonal issue. It wants to be “death metal” in its visuals but then gives us the silliness that is a giant robot, a time travel gun, yet more colors of Kryptonite, and a certain scene. It all ties into things from the past so fits. There’s nothing new, it’s a lot of winks, nods, and celebrations of what has come before. But, there’s a goofiness about it all that betrays the “hard” rock and roll style Capullo and Snyder pitched in the lead up. Spikes on a shoulder pad doesn’t create “death metal.” There’s also some big questions as to the why as far as The Batman Who Laughs’ actions. There’s some wide open aspects where you question his genius and cunning. For a ruthless Batman who has killed who knows how many, he’s left a lot of opposition alive.

Capullo’s art continues to be interesting. Much like the story, there’s a mix of attempting to deliver a serious metal look and the jokes within. Visually the comic feels like the “Rebirth” DC Universe breaking through the doom and gloom of the past. It also makes me think that this series and its previous chapter would have been the bridge from the New 52 to Rebirth that was needed. The dark seriousness transforming to the hope. In some ways visually, the comic feels like that might be the point, especially weighing in on Wonder Woman’s speech. This may be that final chapter to really transition from what was to what is. Capullo is joined by Jonathan Glapion on inks, FCO Plascencia on colors, and Tom Napolitano on lettering. As has been, everyone does a solid job and there are a certain excitement and energy about it all.

I’m still not sold on Dark Nights: Death Metal #3 and the series as a whole. I get a feeling I can see the meta at work but won’t know until the series wraps up. It really does feel like a final chapter in the New 52 aspect of the DC Universe putting the final nails in that chapter. But, there’s still issues to go and a lot of directions the series can take. While the individual issues have had a sense of entertainment, this may be a series to truly judge as a whole instead of its individual parts.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Greg Capullo
Ink: Jonathan Glapion Color: FCO Plascencia Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.95 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 8/8

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman #96 (DC Comics)** Wow. I knew Tynion was planning something good, but I didn’t think it would be THIS good. This is shaping up to be the Joker story for the ages. He has really got to Batman this time and he’s not F$%&@*%g around. Not only is he using all of Bruce’s tech and toys, the psychological warfare is leveled up so severe I don’t want it to stop. This needs to be the last battle between these two at least for a long long while (or until Three Jokers) I really dug the effects of Bruce on the toxin seeing his version of a perfect Gotham and the Mr. Freeze children were just so cool! (Yeah it’s an ice pun, sue me) The story keeps escalating at a frenetic pace which is what these events should do. Also that last closing scene. WOW. Chills for that. The art by Jorge Jimenez is so dynamic and ever improving I feel a bit of Greg Capullo in the visuals. That can only be a good thing. I’m loving this team. Loving this book. It shouldn’t be a shock what the verdict is. Overall: 9.6 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Vampire: The Masquerade #1 (Vault Comics) – An interesting adaptation of the classic roleplaying game. It gets the setting of the world down but is to focused on clans and in-game terminology. For fans of the property, it should be interesting but for new readers, it might be a bit difficult to get in to. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1 (DC Comics) – There’s some really solid stories in this anthology. For those that aren’t really tied into the main event and just having fun, they work really well riffing on the concept. The one story that’s really tied into the main event, it feels like maybe it’s info should have been in the main event somehow. Still, there’s a lot in here that fans not paying attention to Dark Nights will enjoy and make it worth the price of admission. Bat baby! Overall Rating: 7.95 Recommendation: Buy

Far Sector #7 (DC’s Young Animal) – One of the best series DC is putting out right now. Though this issue might not have the socio-political aspects of the previous six issues, it’s much deeper than its cyberpunk/jacked into the net story might seem. It throws out some really interesting concepts and deepens this interesting world even more. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Strange Adventures #4 (DC Black Label) – This series has been an interesting one shifting its focus from Adam Strange to the man investigating him, Mr. Terrific. His investigations take him to Rann where it’s pretty clear things aren’t what Strange is claiming and there’s a whole conspiracy going on. Hopefully, that conspiracy really pays off beyond “good PR.” Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Young Justice #17 (DC/Wonder Comics)**– Young Justice #17 is an aftermath after a huge battle/Brian Michael Bendis hangout issue. (But co-written by David Walker and drawn by Scott Godlewski.) With the exception of Teen Lantern and John Stewart, this comic slows down the pace a little bit and lets the members of Young Justice spend some time with their mentors in the Justice League while also showing their world from the POV of Yolanda Chan, the daughter of a food truck owner outside the Hall of Justice. Godlewski gets some good acting and facial expressions out of his artwork while using a lot of double spreads to show how superheroes bond like Wonder Girl and Wonder Woman lifting a truck together and talking about leadership, and Impulse and The Flash having a chat about living in the moment in super speed. The issue has the heartwarming effect of getting a genuine compliment from a mentor and adds a dimension of heart to the knock ’em, sock ’em, mediocre storyline in Action Comics with the JL, Young Justice, and Legion of Doom. These are characters I definitely want to spend more time with even if the overarching plot grinds to a halt in Young Justice #17, and it sometimes seems like Bendis and Walker are doing Action Comics damage control. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1 (Marvel)– Rod Reis channels Bill Sienkiewicz (Think New Mutants/Elektra Assassin era) and turns in career best work in Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1, which is basically just Fantomex pulling misdirections on hapless “superteams” ranging from Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos to the Hellfire Club and, of course, Grant Morrison-era New X-Men. This is basically Jonathan Hickman’s biggest acknowledgement to that run yet as he and Reis build an arc for Fantomex showing how he’s changed over the decades with Reis’ art shifting to match his personality from more abstract collage to his usual pencils-to-colors style. Beneath the flashiness, Hickman and Reis pop under the hood to explore a man whose entire life is a fiction. (The Commandos’ jokes about which flavor of Western European he is are priceless.) It’s the best Giant-Size issue since the silent Emma/Jean one and is a flawless marriage of visuals and character study. Maybe, Hickman is at his finest when riffing off Grant Morrison… Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Bad Mother #1 (AWA)– With a different artist, Bad Mother #1 could be a middling vigilante exploitation story with a house wife lead. However, Mike Deodato is the artist and combined with Christa Faust’s writing, the book is like a Lifetime movie with a little more violence and “fucks” thrown in. Deodato’s work is stiff and lifeless like the suburb the protagonist lives in, and his usual bag of tricks, such as inset panels muddle his storytelling even more. Plotwise, Faust blows her big reveal pretty early on, and her characters easily come across like caricatures. I’m a total ACAB guy and think that most cops totally mishandle any kind of domestic violence/sexual assault situation, but even I felt bad for how poorly the police were written in Bad Mother #1. Overall: 4.0 Verdict: Pass

The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1 (DC/Black Label)– Featuring a queer, blue haired nightmare named Ruin cut loose in the waking world, a English Lit PhD student named Lindy, and the Shakespeare authorship hour, G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, and Mat Lopes’ The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1 is really my cup of tea. Robles’ art is gorgeous and filled with humanity; you can see the sadness in Lindy’s eyes when her dissertation advisor says she has nothing original to add to Shakespeare scholarship, and on the flipside, he can do horror and fear when Ruin switches places with Lindy in the Dreaming. (Lopes adds the deepest blues to this sequence.) The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1 gives each character an introduction and makes them three-dimensional before dropping a Sandman-connected plot hook. But Wilson and Robles aren’t weighed down by lore and use the expansive canvas of The Dreaming to tell a love story of an angel and a nightmare while digging into why we love certain authors and works of art. It’s also beautifully laid out, colored, and has funny bits too. (See the interactions with Shakespeare and his “writer’s room”.) Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy. I purchased a copy from Comixology.


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 (**).

Review: Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Seven

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Seven

DC Comics has upped its digital game with DC Digital Firsts. The digital comics have allowed the publisher to try new formats and take risks. So far, it’s been a success for readers. A crown jewel in the line is Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red. The digital anthology series features a new creative team each issue delivering a new self-contained experience. Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Seven has Erica Henderson showing us what she’d do with the character in a very cute story fit for an animated short.

Harley is done with Mr. J. She wants to show her independence by burning up the gifts he’s given her. But, Ivy has other things to focus on, like the latest caper with Harley. The comic is just a spiraling of issues as Harley’s new focus on doing good for herself lands them both into trouble.

Henderson uses Harley’s toxic relationship with the Joker to drive the humor of the story. This isn’t an examination of their twisted romance or a look at Harley’s abuse. Instead, it’s a means to get us to the action and get us some laughs. Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Seven is interesting compared to many of the previous chapters. The rest have dived a little more into Harley’s trauma. Here, it’s a plot point whose greater purpose is to create some friction between Harley and Ivy. It’s another example of not just how the same character but even the same character aspect can be used in such a different way by creators.

It’d be easy to go down a serious road and a dour take on Harley when it comes to the Joker. It’s not a healthy relationship and the Joker has abused her psychologically. Henderson doesn’t ignore that but more so that’s not the focus of the comic. Some of their issues are danced around but the comic is more about a woman burning her memories to move on, then causing a fire by accident while doing so. There’s also that nice addition as to Harley’s choices being wide open without the Joker to hold her down.

Part of the success of this comic is Henderson’s art. There’s a lot said in body language and facial expressions and they drive so much of the back and forth between the characters. Ivy delivers Harley a look that says everything she’s thinking when Harley declares she wants to try crime-fighting to see what that’s like. It really shows the power of the comic medium and how much it differs from prose novels. The lettering by Gabriela Downie too is key. It adds such emotion to some of Henderson’s dialogue and really sets a panel and scene.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Seven is the great build-up to the joke that gets you to laugh when it’s all over. I fully expected to hear a rim shot at the end as the “sketch” ended along with some audience laughter. And, it got me to actually laugh. It’s really cute and another solid addition to the digital series. Again, it’s a prime example as to how flexible the character is and awesome to see what another creator brings to the character.

Story: Erica Henderson Art: Erica Henderson Letterer: Gabriella Downie
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXology

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