Category Archives: Reviews

A Cup Tea & A Few Comics Issue Three: The Marvels Project

In what may or may not become a new feature – although with this being the second post under that tagline, it’s looking more likely that it will be – I decided to make a cup of tea (PG Tips again) and sit down and read a comic or two whilst I drank said cuppa. My intention isn’t to read review copies, or digital copies if I can help it, but either graphic novels, TPBs, or floppy comics because I much prefer to relax with a physical comic. I may have read them before, or they may have been on my To Read pile for far too long.  Whether this happens monthly, weekly, daily… never again… will depend entirely on the time I have.

This week, I sat down with Marvel’s The Marvel Project graphic novel.

 

I should probably switch up my cup for these pictures sooner or later, eh?

Anyway, I really enjoyed this. It’s told from the perspective of The Angel, a long forgotten hero from the Golden Age of superhero comics, and set in the year or so before the U.S.A. entered into WWII. Despite Captain America featuring on the front cover, this isn’t a Captain America story. It’s a tale of the time during which Americans were aware of the war in Europe but had yet to enter the fray. The Marvels Project is a genuine page turner – I devoured the entire trade in a single sitting, bar a bathroom break, and never actually touched my tea until I was several issues in.

Reading about superheroes and vigilantes from the late 30’s to the 50’s or so has always been a (not-so) guilty pleasure of mine. I love the that time period in American history, and as most of the pulp novels and superhero stories set in that time are typically based in New York or Chicago, it’s always a win-win for me. But with my misgivings about Hydra-Cap prevalent in my head as I finally decided to read this TPB, I was worried that I’d not enjoy the story – and I’ll admit they did cloud my judgment initially when Steve Rogers appeared in the comic, but after a few pages I was reminded just how great a character he is when written well, and consequently I was able to enjoy Captain America’s presence in the remainder of the comic.

For me the highlight was the way the story was presented; by having The Angel as both the narrator and the closest thing to a central character in the comic. The story telling style was very reminiscent of Hollis Mason’s autobiography snippets in Watchmen adapted to comic form. Every page was a joy to read, and thankfully the TPB is a completely standalone story.

I picked this up for $5 at my LCS. It’d be a bargain at twice the price.

Writer: Ed Brubacker Art: Steve Epting Colourist: Dave Stewart

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Review: Spell On Wheels TPB

Best friends. Road trips. Fighting the patriarchy. Found family. Magic. Really, what more can you ask for? Dark Horse’s Spell On Wheels was one I picked up the first issue of then completely forgot about in the mess of life. Definitely a mistake that I wanted to correct with this trade and I’m glad I did.

The overall plot architecture of set forth by Kate Leth is a pretty similar one to early seasons of Supernatural, Buffy, or Charmed: monster-of-the-week with a metaplot that strings it all together like beads on a necklace. In the case of Spell On Wheels, it’s more of an item-of-the-week. Our protagonists, a trio of Northeasterner witches, have their house broken into and looted for the tools of their trades. When they can’t find who’s responsible, they track down the buyers for their stuff on a road trip to make sure they aren’t the last witches out there.

It’s not all adventurous romps though. Jo, Andy, and Claire help where they can and correct some of the wrongs they end up running into along the way. We see a world where, even though the supernatural certainly exists, it’s not the only thing people ever care about. It makes the world as a whole feel far more real than it would otherwise. The charming and often rounded art of Megan Levens is a good fit for this story. The characters and words here aren’t sharp and aggressive, they’re inviting and open. The colors of Marissa Louise provide just the right amount of pop to the frames, pulling the eyes exactly where they need to go.

Overall, Spell On Wheels is definitely a trade to grab then continue with individual issues if you’ve enjoyed it. It really takes those first five issues to suck you entirely into the slow burn. This story wouldn’t be the same without the creative team that it has and it shows.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Megan Levens
Color: Marissa Louise Cover: Jen Bartel
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0
Recommendation: Buy, especially if you’ve been binging Charmed or The Magicians lately

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/24

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

lobo-the-road-runnerBatman #25 (DC Comics) Batman #25 is a prologue to Tom King, Mikel Janin, and June Chung’s anticipated “War of Jokes and Riddles” storyline. It’s told in flashback by Batman himself and shows both the Joker and Riddler at their peak spreading chaos and crime through their humorous and puzzling M.O.’s respectively. I enjoyed King’s characterization of the Riddler as a kind of twisted tutor, who helped the GCPD with their homework, er, cases while using his personal knowledge about them to escape. Janin’s panels featuring him are symmetrical and occasionally look like prison bars because he feels like Batman’s the only riddle he can’t solve. The ones with Joker are much freer flowing and help set up an arc-long personal mystery of something Batman has done in his past that he regrets and hasn’t told anyone until now. This continues Tom King’s tradition of telling epic stories while remaining grounded in Batman’s own psyche.  Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Lobo/Road Runner Special #1 (DC Comics) In Lobo/Road Runner Special #1, Bill Morrison, comics legend Kelley Jones, and Michelle Madsen fit the classic Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons into an interconnected mythology that involves mad scientists and secret experiments. Then, Lobo shows up for the Road Runner and blows it all to hell. Seeing Lobo’s hopeless attempts to kill Road Runner with the annoying “Beep beep” in his ear as he regenerates over and over again is super hilarious. There’s also a B-plot where Wile E Coyote hunts down Kilowog for Lobo’s employer, and it’s nice to see him be competent and not just a punching bag for Road Runner. Jones’ take on Wile E is a little freaky, and he looks just like a mutated science experiment. Throw in a Morrison written and drawn backup where Lobo tries and fails to hunt Road Runner in the “kid-friendly” (Cartoon violence is more than okay.) Looney Tunes universe, and this is another excellent addition to the DC/Looney Tunes crossovers. Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Life with Kevin #4 (Archie) Life with Kevin is back with plenty of pratfalls, smooching, and Veronica drama courtesy of writer/artist Dan Parent and inker J.Bone. Kevin has to deal with the social media fallout of his going on a prom date with a young gay high school student and uses this as an opportunity to call out networks for exploiting this touching moment for ratings. Young queer kids aren’t commodities. In the second half of the story, Kevin runs into his cheating ex Michael, who has become the star of a Spanish language soap opera. Parent pokes fun at soap opera tropes in the middle of a comic that has become one while still bringing the emotion because Kevin pines for Michael even though he know he’s bad for him. Life with Kevin #4 is super adorable, super funny, and has just the right amount of the feels to go with Parent’s great Archie house style art and baby blue palette. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

black hammer 10.jpgRoyal City #4 (Image)** – Another fine, character-driven installment in Jeff Lemire’s beautifully laconic series, this issue probably would have benefited from having an editor give things a look as some of the internal monologues veer toward being overblown, but on the whole this book’s artfully-constructed humanity continues to impress and inspire. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Black Hammer #10 (Dark Horse)** – If you thought Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston unloaded a whopper of a cliffhanger on readers last issue,wait until you see this one! My sole (and very slight) concern is that they may have given away just a bit too much about what’s really going with their jaw-dropper this time out, but they’ve consistently surprised me so far, and there’s probably no reason to doubt that they have further surprises up their sleeve. Consistently magnificent stuff that really does reward folks who read it in singles. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

God Country #6 (Image)** – A superb wrap-to Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s heartbreakingly humane cosmic drama, this is a beautifully-scripted paean to love and loss between fathers and sons that will leave a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, amazingly illustrated by Shaw and even more amazingly colored by Jason Wordie. The one and only strike against it is that it reduces the previous few issues of Kirby-esque space battles to a mere redundancy and once you regain your composure, you’ll realize this whole thing could have been told just as — perhaps even more — effectively in three or four chapters rather than six. Still, this is agonizingly powerful stuff, especially for those of us with aging parents who we want to say a lot to while they’re still with us. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #25 (DC)** – A fairly solid start to the new “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” storyline that doesn’t “wow” by any means, but is definitely a continuation of the recent quality uptick we’ve seen on the book. Tom King seems to be easing into something of a “groove” with the scripting on this series, and Mikel Janin’s artwork is simply stunning, and whileI’m a bit concerned about the fact that this is yet another journey back into Batman’s past rather than a story that will move the narrative — and the character — forward, what the hell? So far, so (pretty) good. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

IHateFairyland_13-1.pngI Hate Fairyland #13 (Image) – You know you’re onto something when you can start handing over your creator-owned series to guest artists and know that they won’t skip a beat. Dean Rankine handles the art on the story of Larry’s dream of a Gert-less life and he absolutely kills it. From the opening shot of fly maternity (which cannot be unseen), to the dung mines, to his ultimately meltdown on the Ellfen Show, every page is a wicked delight. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Old Guard #5 (Image) – Greg Rucka & Leandro Fernandez conclude their tale of immortal soldiers with many, many prices paid. Nothing earth-shaking here; it’s loud and fast-moving, but the action is solidly driven by the desires of the characters and everything actually makes dramatic sense, which is more than I can say for most action comics and movies. I think I’ve said it before, but if these two want to make more war comics I will buy them all. Overall: 8.5 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 (**).

Review: El Peso Hero #1

Mexico and its war on crime has been a sore subject for many years now and has come back into the spotlight because of the presidential election.  What many people don’t understand about the drug trade, that it is not one sided, in fact, there is many sides that most people, especially politicians do not understand. In addition, there is a cost to be paid in blood most of the time. This a hard lesson that is being learned in the Philippines right now, as the body count has risen to an all-time high there, as the President is determined to stamp out shabu, a low-cost version of amphetamines.

The complex narrative has rarely been told in the varied narratives that it deserves. The show, Kingpin, came pretty close showing it from, the drug cartel’s, DEA’s and politician’s point of views Another show that has come close, is the current running Queen Of the South, which gets into just how dangerous and cutthroat that world is. So, when I heard about Hector Rodriguez III’s El Peso Hero, I was excited, to see a different narrative about the drug trade with a superhero twist.

The reader is introduced to Dr. Salas, a brilliant scientist, who gets kidnapped by the local military, to lead them to a cave discovery of some superpowered crystals, where the doctor takes his own life to keep the location a secret. Fast forward, years later, two cousins, one of them whose name is, Ignacio and accidentally finds this same cave, where one of them gets trapped. It just so happens their grandmother is the head of one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico, and leaves her grandson for dead but he survives as he gained a superpower from the crystals. By the end of the first issue, Ignacio is all grownup and fighting crime as superhero, but little does he know, someone else survived the cave.

Overall, some great introductions to these characters and to this vast world where this excellent story takes place. The story by Rodriguez is intricate, fun and takes turns where the reader does not expect to go. The art by Guillermo Villareal is gorgeous and makes the characters pop off the page. Altogether, a great book, which will keep the readers coming back for this very different story in a very familiar world.

Story: Hector Rodriguez III Art: Guillermo Villareal
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation:Buy

Review: On the Camino

Life is full of pilgrimages, in one way or the other. If you joined the military, every deployment feels like a pilgrimage as, you have to go a thousand miles away from home. Religions have their own pilgrimages, in Islam and there is Mecca and in Christianity, there is Jurasalem. If you are a music fan, it depends on your taste, it could be Graceland, if you love Elvis Presley and if you love Prince, then its Paisley Park.

Then there are physical ones that are legendary, like the Appalachia Trail, which more than a few thousand people have tried and never finished. In the book and movie, Wild, a woman, who lost everything, roughs the Pacific Cres Trail, a journey that is hard even with company. Each person, who has braved these journeys, have one thing in common, sheer will. Just as Jason, who wrote I Killed Adolf Hitler, hit a birthday milestone of 50 years, he decided to brave the Camino trail in Spain, which he documented in On the Camino.

Jason sets off on this journey by himself, meeting different people, who are headed the same direction but not quite on the trail, as each stranger asks him why he is doing it. The reader follows him and he goes form hostel to hostel, meeting different people from different countries, all traveling and exploring themselves. He even meets another cartoonist, giving her advice on how to find a publisher. By book’s end, Jason’s and the reader’s feet are sore, as this was truly a walk to remember.

Overall, another excellent book by Jason as he tells a story like no other and even makes this well-worn genre all its own, even more interesting. The story by Jason, is full of life love and twists and turns. The art by Jason feels more human than he may have intended to draw it. Altogether, a journey worth taking, as this master storyteller, makes you feel every heartbeat.

Story: Jason Art: Jason
Story: 10 Art 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

A Cup of Tea & A Comic Issue Two: Commando 5017

In what may or may not become a new feature – although with this being the second post under that tagline, it’s looking more likely that it will be – I decided to make a cup of tea (PG Tips again) and sit down and read a comic or two whilst I drank said cuppa. My intention isn’t to read review copies, or digital copies if I can help it, but either graphic novels, TPBs, or floppy comics because I much prefer to relax with a physical comic. I may have read them before, or they may have been on my “To Read” pile for far too long.  Whether this happens monthly, weekly, daily… never again… will depend entirely on the time I have.

This week, I sat down with one of the issues of Commando I picked up in the UK.

As big as my cup is, Commando is half the size of a regular sized modern comic.

Commando is an incredibly long running bi-weekly series that tends to feature a standalone story in each issue (though I could be wrong), with multiple issues being released each month. I actually picked up two different issues, but I only sat down and read #5017 today.

Despite having lived in England for near twenty years (at least ten to twelve of which I would have been capable of reading this series) I had never read, or really even heard of, Commando until I saw it pop up in a feature in the British magazine Comic Heroes – but I couldn’t tell you which one at this point. Needless to say when I saw the issue on the shelves of a newsagent, I grabbed it.

commando 5017 interior

The comic itself was finished long before the tea, as although it had 60 plus pages of black and white artwork that has, on average, two panels a page. Because the artwork isn’t as crisp as some of the larger size comics, there was a little more narrative description than you would typically see in comics today, instead echoing back to the 60’s where comics were heavier with the narration text boxes. This issue focused on the exploits of a German tank crew during the second World War, and I’ll admit to being unsure of how I should feel reading a story that positioned the side of the conflict that has traditionally been positioned as The Enemy in almost every WWII story I have ever read, watched, or played. At the end of the day, however, not every member of the German army during that time was complicit in the horrific crimes perpetrated by the Nazi party, and I think stories such as these will do their part in reminding us of that.

The story itself was pretty decent, nothing special, but still worth the two pounds (roughly $3.50 Canadian) I spent on it. Had I known that the story focused on the characters it did prior to purchase… I don’t know whether I’d have picked it up. It wasn’t until I got a couple pages in that I figured out where the story was going.

Overall, not a bad comic to sit for a cup of tea with, and certainly not one I would have typically picked up had I not been trying to grab some British comics on my trip over back in May.

Story: Colin Watson Artist: Vicente Alcazar

Marvel Weekly Graphic Novel Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: Epic Collection: Kraven’s Last Hunt

It’s Wednesday which means new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. Out in book stores now is The Amazing Spider-Man: Epic Collection: Kraven’s Last Hunt.

The epic collection features Amazing Spider-Man #289-294, & Annual #20-21, Spider-Man versus Wolverine, Web of Spider-Man #29-32, and Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132.

Find out about the book and whether you should grab yourself a copy. You can find it in comic stores and book stores now!

Get your copy today! 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.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Epic Collection: Kraven’s Last Hunt
Amazon or Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies 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: My Favorite Thing is Monsters

Monster movies are making a comeback of sorts, as the recently released The Mummy has, put those films back into the public consciousness. Showing my age, I still remember a time, when these characters were very much a part of popular culture, and for the most part, it has always been, as Count Chocula has never gone away as a cereal, so too these characters have never left. Then there is Adam Sandler’s Hotel Transylvania series, which has brought these characters to a new generation. I guess what has eluded these characters, even though they have been connected to the horror genre since their introduction, is that they are not as scary.

Penny Dreadful, the TV show and comic, tried to bring this element back to these characters, and although it was an excellent tv show and comic book, they never quite brought back that fear factor. What Penny Dreadful, did remind audiences of these characters, is that the source material, were well written stories. They thrived and become legend, because the writers behind these books, wrote well, and understood what was entertaining about these characters. Emil Ferris understands this about her character in My Favorite Thing is Monsters Volume 1, which makes it so amazing a read.

In the opening salvos of this book, the reader is quickly acclimated into a world where monsters are commonplace, and a little girl by the name of Karen Reyes is being hunted by a mob, just for being a werewolf, but it was all a dream if not an eventuality. In a book that unfolds as part memoir/ part sketchbook, about a young artist who loves drawings monsters, in a familiar tale of family and loss which unfolds in the most gorgeous pages any reader would see combined with a strange tale about a string of murders in 1960s Chicago. Karen plays private investigator, attempting to solve these murders on her own while struggling with the pains of growing up. By the end of the book, which is part wish fulfillment, part slice of life memoir, part art worship, the reader appreciates Karen’s journey, while reminiscing of their own.

Overall, probably one of the most essential books every reader who loves a great story must have in their collection. The story by Ferris, feels like the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but with monsters, and keeps the reader moving forward. The art by Ferris, will leave the reader floored by how beautiful and luminous it is. Altogether, a great book, for anyone who love a great story, an if you love monster movies and MAD Magazine, it would help but not necessary, as a good story like this, will always shine through.

Story: Emil Ferris Art: Emil Ferris
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Batwoman #3

Three issues into the first arc of Batwoman and just like the series previous issues, the third is pure fire. Each issue of this arc, so far, manages to build upon the previous issue and serve as a standalone issue worthy of praise on its own. Batwoman #3 shines as a dark jewel in the Batwoman crown. Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV start the issue off in a pretty dark place. There are hints of an unseen assault of a youth, followed by an attack of the perpetrator, and the saving of the child. This one page intro was one hell of a way to kick off an issue. The actual abuse isn’t actually seen but portrayed using a moist fruit, word bubbles and context. We may never know what triggered the murder in that alley but we know the perpetrator had it coming and before we even see the aftermath Steve Epting‘s stellar art work conveys enough imagery to bring us in to he dark side.

We find ourselves pulled out of the darkness of the opening sequence to Kate on a mission. She seeks to infiltrate the sinister Kali Corp. With shipside backup , plots are revealed, frenemies resurface and creepy villains reign with well conceived yet, unnecessary elaborate plans that make them seem like rogue cells of Project Mayhem. Luckily, Bennett and Tynion know how to make the insane interesting and believable and Epting knows how to stage a scene without word.

The writing is solid and the art and story are intense. There are no lags, dull moments or even any placeholder scenes, the creative team keep the heart of the story beating rapid fire like the action scenes that come out at the end of a slow burn. There aren’t a lot of action scenes or fights in this issue but, the ones that appear seem more relevant because of the tension that the story overall creates. As a reader, I found myself so wrapped up in the story that I forgot I was reading, I was so engaged and drawn into to story that I could hear, see, feel, smell, taste, flinch, recoil, and dread every moment as the panel or page called for a reaction as if I was there. The way the creative team frames the story, it creates an instant connection with the characters that make you feel involved and invested.

Usually the third installment in a story arc is filled with exposition and erroneous background info, that is not the case here and I’m grateful to the creative team for going for homeruns with every issue that I’ve read so far. Overall, this issue is not only on par with the previous ones but it builds on the momentum created in the previous issues but, connects them adding layers to the story and allowing for some top notch entertaining reading.  Bennett and Tynion raised the stakes and, gave us full fire awesomeness that has me fully primed to check out the next issue because, I need to know what happens next.

Story: Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV Art: Steve Epting
Story: 9.1 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Plague #2

plague 2 coverIn Plague, the bubonic plague that ravages Europe in the 1370s is actually a biological weapon created by the Catholic Church to kill off the magical creatures of the world: fairies, trolls, sprites, etc.  One man, Warbishop Jean de Moray, has made it his personal mission to spread the plague, but an unlikely trio rises up to oppose him: Twylyth Tegg, the brash new King of the Fey, Danann Atreyu, a refugee fairy who still harbors hope for the goodness in humankind, and Robb Aubert, a country friar who can’t believe his church is behind this horrible disease.

The above description is actually from the solicitation of the first issue, but I included it here to give you a general sense of the comic’s direction. I quite enjoyed the first issue, and due to a sorting snafu on my end, I only read it a few days ago so it’s still pretty fresh in my mind – which is good  because this issue picks up right where the first one left off.

Zach Brunner remains consistent throughout the series; his art certainly has a unique flavour to it that blends well with the alternate history take on the origins of the Black Plague. With Brunner handling full duties here, he shines brightest during the scene that is shown on the cover above. Just like the first issue, the art is once again the highlight of the comic, but unlike the previous issue the quality gap feels a little more pronounced.

The promise shown in the first issue hasn’t materialized quite yet, held back by dialogue that doesn’t have a natural feel about it, with the same thing often being said in a slightly different way which has a knock on effect to the pacing of the issue which suffers a little as a result. Of course, you may feel differently, and if you do then I hope you feel I’m being overly harsh; Plague has a really awesome concept behind it, but as yet the comic isn’t quite as good as I wanted it to be.

That being said, when reading Plague #2 you’ll notice narration text boxes throughout the pages which lend a nice throwback feel to the comic’s story telling, and also reminded me of how much I enjoy a well placed narration box which is something that works well in this issue.

I wanted to enjoy this comic more than I did, so while it didn’t quite leave me desperate for more, I’m still not done with the series yet; the aforementioned promise still feels as though it’s lurking just behind the next tree.

Story: Dennis MaGee Fallon, Jason Palmatier
Art: Zach Brunner Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Graphic Policy was provided with a FREE copy for review

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