Category Archives: Reviews

Review: War Mother #3

WM_003_COVER-B_GORHAM“As the only force standing between her tribe and total extinction, War Mother must protect every man, woman, and child…no matter the cost…as she braves the long journey across the mutant-infested jungles and irradiated steppes once known as South America. But when this sworn guardian discovers that the new homeland she seeks might not be the haven it was promised to be, she’ll have to save her people from the one thing she never could have anticipated: themselves!”

Having been sat staring at my screen for the last ten minutes without any idea how to start this review, I figured I’d just start writing and see where we end up. The thing I’m having trouble with is that while I enjoyed the comic, quite a lot actually, there was nothing that stood out to me about it.

War Mother #3 is a brilliant example of the creative team pulling together a really solid book, with everything from the art to the words being on point. The theme of the issue, without revealing too much, is oddly poignant as Ana and her sentient gun Falco share some genuinely well written moments within the panels which is also set to some really wonderful set pieces.

As a four issue miniseries this story has been quite enjoyable – more so than I ever expected – and War Mother #3 continues the quality shown in the last two issues that puts the series on pace to go out with a bang. I just wish I had more to say about this comic.

Story: Fred Van Lente
Art: Stephen Segovia and Roberto De La Torre Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 8 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided a FREE copy for review, but I based this review off the print version I purchased.

Review: Reggie and Me Trade TPB

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*Spoilers ahead for Reggie And Me and Archie #24*

Archie Comics’ mini-series featuring Riverdale’s bad boy Reggie Mantle is now available in trade paperback. Issues one through five of Reggie and Me put the spotlight on Reggie through the narration of his pet dog Vader. But without his canine companion, who keeps insisting Reggie is well-liked and kind-hearted, Reggie has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He spends all five issues trying to get someone else in trouble for the chaos he creates–usually Archie Andrews. Over the course of this series however, he also manages to stir up the ire of not only Riverdale’s rival football team, but also thick-headed Moose Mason, and sweet-as-apple-pie Betty Cooper.

Of all the classic characters, Reggie seems to have gone through the most changes from the old to new Archie universe, but it’s not really for the better. He primarily used to play the role of Archie’s romantic rival, though once he had Veronica or Betty on his arm, he left well enough alone. In Reggie And Me, he has it out for everyone in a more general role of chaotic evil.

Reggie is after Midge, who is happily dating Moose. When Reggie swipes Archie’s phone, he sees an opportunity to simultaneously get Moose away from Midge and Archie into a cast (or two. Reggie ain’t picky). Enter Betty Cooper who apparently spends her entire life discreetly following Reggie around, waiting for him to do something horrible. Throw in a little school rivalry, a quarterback trying to protect his familial honor, and a Principal with a keen ear, and Reggie’s plans fall quickly apart.

Reggie’s existence frustrates nearly everyone in the main gang–not even Jughead has patience for him. However, once Vader is injured, the entire town rallies to support him. Archie forgets the fact that Reggie tried to have him expelled. Midge forgets that Reggie ignored her rejections. And Moose (who, to be fair, has never been the sharpest crayon) forgets everything and even comes to Reggie’s aid.

Perhaps the Reggie and Me miniseries is meant to garner support for its title character as his fate changes in the main Archie series. You may recall that the end of “Over the Edge” saw Reggie in handcuffs, with his father taking advantage of the situation in order to push more papers. But if that is the case, there’s still a long way to go. Arguably, Reggie is a more sympathetic character in just a few panels of Archie #24 than all of Reggie and Me combined.

Vader turns out fine, and despite all Reggie’s efforts, the whole gang winds up on each other’s good sides. Betty even apologizes for potentially misjudging him in their youth. And we end up right where we began, with a devious smirk on Reggie’s face and an aparent storm brewing in his chaotic brain.

So the question remains: why did Reggie get the spotlight? He has been a bully since day one, and while the new Archies are filling him out with a sympathetic backstory, that’s not an excuse for his mistreatment of others. Vader continually defends his owner’s horrible behavior, but the “pranks” he pulls have the potential for very real consequences.

The preview of Your Pal Archie was a palate cleanser at the end of this off-color book.  Especially in today’s political and social climate, Reggie And Me feels tone deaf, almost asking readers to consider that bullies are people too, instead of admonishing bully behavior under any circumstances.  If Archie writers are trying to redeem the long-held Mantle (if you’ll excuse the pun) of Riverdale’s bad boy, Reggie and Me is not a good place to start.

Story: Tom Defalco Artist: Sandy Jarrell Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick Letters: Jack Morell
Story: 4.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Archie provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Kid Lobotomy #1

Kid Lobotomy #1 is the launch title to IDW Publishing’s new Black Crown imprint spearheaded by ex-Vertigo editor Shelly Bond. It is even written by Vertigo alumni Peter Milligan. The book certainly reads like many of the imprint’s flagship titles: familiar genre tropes subverted, an emphasis on dramatic build up over instant gratification, grimy atmosphere, and references to non-comic book arts. Kid Lobotomy is attempting to be an audacious debut. The result is a mixed bag.

The art of Kid Lobotomy is by indie superstar Tess Fowler and industry veteran Lee Loughridge. Fowler gives the book a DIY, punk aesthetic. Characters and environments look rough and grimy. Fowler also shows to be more than capable of drawing horror scenes, mostly larger-than-life insects and humans transforming into ghastly ghouls. Lettering by Aditya Bidikar highlights the intensity of these scenes with striking lettering. Lee Loughridge adds gritty, yet almost neon colors to the art. A common criticism of the early Vertigo books were their constant use of a grainy coloring scheme that made scenes limited in their palettes. However, given the weird, perturbing story Kid Lobotomy is telling, it fits here like a glove. Fowler and Loughridge combined is like a low-budget, artsy grindhouse film, particularly for fans of Subconscious Cruelty (2000) and We Are The Flesh (2016).

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Fowler uniquely designs each character that still share a particular fashion. They have piercings, detailed tattoos, unconventional clothing, and dyed hair with outlandish designs. These are recognizable in various youth groups, particularly those with an emphasis on art, music, and rebellion. It’s a welcoming modern look to a medium where many artists seem unaware of how much fashion has changed. It also works perfectly for Peter Milligan’s writing. He often focuses stories about characters from unique subcultures, referencing their literature, music, film, and other arts. However, in Kid Lobotomy, Milligan sticks to older subculture icons such as Franz Kafka and Derek Jarman. While they’re certainly influences on many modern artists, the lack of references to any of said artists is confusing. What about Screaming Females? The Safdie Brothers? Certainly Milligan can mix what is going on now with what came before. Otherwise, having characters that look modern but only reference 20th-century arts is disingenuous.

The story itself is, also quite typical of Vertigo, a genre mash-up. In every advertisement of Kid Lobotomy thus far, it is described as a combination of Shakespeare’s King Lear and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Like King Lear, the title character is a young man being forced to take over his father’s kingdom except it’s a hotel called the Suites. The elements from Kafka involve giant bugs, mental illness, and metaphors of isolation. There also seems to be a Dexter element going on in which Kid Lobotomy literally performs “new lobotomy” on people to eat the unwanted part of their brains to control his schizophrenic illusions.

The genre mashing, while amusing, doesn’t seem to have a real purpose. A bunch of ideas are introduced, but none of them paint a whole canvas of exactly what Kid Lobotomy is about. Is it a tale of mental illness? Crime? Family drama? Preacher, The Unwritten, and The Sandman are all titles that similarly mash genre together but have a pretty clear picture of what their major themes are. At the moment, Kid Lobotomy does not. It struggles to do a proper introduction of the various story elements and expanding them enough to have a clear, precise goal of what it wants to say. This is the opposite of Peter Milligan’s past work, such as Greek Street where the combination of Greek tragedy and crime drama clearly told a story about how history repeats itself.

The struggle might stem from the unnecessarily convoluted story structure Milligan employs. Kid Lobotomy #1 starts off with a dream sequence, then to where the story is presently, then a flashback, then the series of event that lead to the present, and a few more scenes afterward. That doesn’t sound hard to follow, but Milligan’s narration is all over the place, uneven in how much exposition to drop or keep vague. It reflects a bad habit from Vertigo of stories trying too hard to be clever and becoming confusing for the reader. It’s not bad to challenge a reader to understand the meaning of a story, but they should still have an intuition of what it’s about and learn more by critically thinking. Confusion should not be a tool as such to induce this type of reading because it can prevent an intuitive spark.

What saves Kid Lobotomy’s narrative are the characters. On the surface, the core three characters seem stockish: Big Daddy, the shrewd, “family comes first” father figure; Rosebud, the femme fatale; and Kid Lobotomy, the rebellious young son that wants to be a unique individual. There are unique quirks to each of them. Despite his appearance, Big Daddy doesn’t seem all that bad. He’s more shrewd than cruel, insisting that having responsibility over the hotel will help Kid with his mental illness. In fact, Big Daddy clearly cares about his son to the point he spent a lot of money to save him. His flaw is in not realizing how much Rosebud feels neglected, not to mention ignoring the fact she is by far more qualified to run the hotel.

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Rosebud is quite manipulative, her mission being to drive Kid even crazier so she can take over the hotel. It’s hard to really hate her given how much she has been loyal and helpful to her father. Kid suddenly getting the hotel despite all Rosebud’s hard work is a major blow to her. She at least has a clear motivation beyond evil for the sake of it. Kid Lobotomy isn’t a selfish, annoying manchild as often is the case. Yes, he did drop out of med school to pursue a doomed career in music, but he doesn’t seem to hate his family. Also, he is oddly well read and his obsession with Kafka helps him contextualize his mental illness in order to deal with it. There is also incestual tension between him and Rosebud, often leading to sex acts such as a handjob. From the looks of it, Rosebud is dominating Kid, something he sometimes resists and other times embraces. This will no doubt be the most problematic element of the story, and hopefully Milligan will have good enough sense to at least keep it appropriately complicated. There are several other side characters, but the only two that stand out are a shape-shifting maid and two little girl ghosts. It’s hard to pin point them as characters given they’re either background or just reacting in ways that push forward Kid’s journey.

Two final nitpicks are that Milligan should write a little less dialogue and narration. Fowler and Loughridge’s art is strong enough to visually communicate information to the reader. The cover by Frank Quitely, which good for what it is, is too clean and realistic for the interiors’ gritty punk style. Also, while it is impressive the title logo has a 3D look, it is rather distracting and feels dated, something from a 90s action flick. On the Tess Fowler cover, it is completely out of place for her style.

Kid Lobotomy #1 is a mixed bag of a debut issue. It is visually strong while containing a potentially engaging narrative bogged down by flaws of pacing and development. There is still room for improvement next issue as ideas and characters are expanded upon. At the very least, Kid Lobotomy #1 shows that Black Crown publishing aims for comics that critically engage the reader.

Story: Peter Milligan Art: Tess Fowler, Lee Loughridge, Aditya Bidikar
Story: 7.0 Art: 10 Overall: 8.0

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: X-Men: Gold #14

Brood and Dark Phoenix and Mojo – Oh my! The Mojoverse continues its bizarre invasion of Manhattan! With reality-warping resources at the tips of his gross fingers, Mojo may finally have the upper hand against our beloved mutants…

X-Men: Gold #14 is the third part of “Mojo Worldwide” which celebrates Marvel Legacy by taking us through the “X” history through a series of short segments and scenes as Mojo attempts to challenge them and get ratings.

Written by Marc Guggenheim, the comic feels a little like classic Mojo stories but taking the characters through so many eras of X-Men, the story choice feels odd in that it doesn’t have time to establish each team to new readers and we already saw the different “X” era in Secret Wars in 2015. It feels like we have a retread in story not even two years later. The comic itself is entertaining and there’s a lot packed in as Guggenheim has to balance so many different characters.

The art by Marc Laming is good though doesn’t quite blow me away. There’s some solid looking moments but overall the art doesn’t quite blow me away. It’s good, not great. There’s moments that feel like Laming is doing his best to mimic the stories he’s covering but the original art usually stands out and this falls short due to that.

While “Mojo Worldwide” is decent, it doesn’t blow me away. There’s lots of untapped potential in a story about a bloviating egomaniac crazy about ratings. The story just hasn’t quite gotten there and feels like it won’t commit and go all the way. Even the stunt of killing one character in the storyline feels empty as we’re not given any opportunity to connect up to the point.

While I was enjoy X-Men: Gold #14, Marvel Legacy and the previous event has veered a little and taken some of the shine off. It’s not bad but it’s also not quite exciting enough that it’s one of the first things I run to read like I used to for X comics. Hopefully after this we’ll get a focus on the characters which usually makes the series the strongest. Right now, it feels a bit empty, like Mojo’s shows. All flash, little heart.

Story: Marc Guggenheim Art: Marc Laming Cover Art: Dan Mora
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Spider-Gwen Vol. 4 Predators

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got Spider-Gwen!

Spider-Gwen Vol. 4 Predators collects issues #19-23 by Jason Latour, Hannah Blumenreich, Robbi Rodriguez, Jorge Coelho, Jordan Gibson, Rico Renzi, and Lauren Affe.

Get your copy in comic shops today and bookstores on October 31. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Spider-Gwen Vol. 4 Predators
Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFW

 

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: The Wild Storm Vol. 1

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the first volume of The Wild Storm!

The Wild Storm Vol. 1 collects issues #1-6 by Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt.

Get your copy in comic shops today and bookstores on October 24. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

The Wild Storm Vol. 1
Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFW

 

DC Comics 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: Cable #150

The time-traveling mutant known as Cable has made it his one-man mission to preserve all of time itself.  But when a disturbance in the timestream sends Cable back to the recent past, he’ll find a mutant killer he won’t be able to handle alone. Cable’s led teams of X-Men before and he’ll have to turn to some old allies and new friends to stop this deadly threat. Get ready for the newer New Mutants!

The murder of an time anomaly leads to an investigation by Cable helped by Longshot and from there we’ve got Cable #150. Written by Ed Brisson the issue is a fun start that has a bit of a vibe of the 90s X-Men, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The issue is Cable bringing his team together and you can see some of them in the image to the left. There’s some fun choices here and by the end of the issue it’s only a fraction of the team though.

The issue definitely digs into the 90s with the story revolving around the Eternals (and on again/off again concept it feels like) and while the comic says “Cable” it’s a team book right now.

Brisson keeps the story flowing nicely with a solid build to the eventual action towards the end of the comic. There’s a solid mix of humor and the personalities should mesh quite well.

The art by Jon Malin is really good and definitely has a Liefeld-esque style about it all. There’s only a few panels where the depth of something seemed a little weird (again feels like the 90s and impossibly thin guns). But, it’s some of the best X art I’ve seen in some time.

The backup story by Robbie Thompson takes us through Cable’s history and condenses the convoluted intertwining stories into something that makes sense. The art by Mark Bagley is hit and miss which has been an issue with the backup stories.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of this series since its reboot but this is the shot in the arm it needed. I want to see where it goes now and can’t wait to see where the rest of the team comes from. A solid start that does what Marvel Legacy is supposed to do, get me to want to read more.

Story: Ed Brisson and Robbie Thompson Art: Jon Malin and Mark Bagley
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.45 Overall: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Champions #13

The titanic clash between the Champions and the Avengers continues! Since they were old enough to say the word “Avengers,” the Champions have idolized Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Now the two teams are on equal footing – and the Champs must walk the walk alongside their former mentors! Will their experiences in GENERATIONS help them – or tear the two teams apart?

Champions #13 is the second part to the “Worlds Collide” storyline that began in Avengers #672 and the second issue is a bit more focused on the action and teamwork than how folks get along. Written by Mark Waid the issue isn’t bad but much like the previous story arc issue, there isn’t something that really excites me. The issue isn’t bad at all and is a fun read but it’s not quite exciting enough to get me to really look forward to what’s next. It’s a perfectly entertaining read though.

The various folks need to head around the world to deal with the vibrations going on and there’s some good interactions there. The “you’re a junior Avenger” is gone and instead this is power sets being used together type stuff. We also get a little bit more of the major issue as… well I don’t want to ruin it, but it also feels like we’ve seen this all before with the whole “incursions” that led up to Secret Wars. So, the story feels a little familiar.

There is some really good in the issue in that Waid explores the relationship of Viv and the Vision and along with some of the other interactions there’s a decent injection of humor through all of the action.

The art by Humberto Ramos is pretty solid as would be expected by him. There’s some panels where there’s a lot going on and things are a little muddled but generally I’m a huge fan of the style. Ramos’ style adds to the energy of it all and is great to look at.

Writer Robbie Thompson and artist Alberto Alburquerque provide a back-up story catching folks up on the Champions history and the art is a little blah compared to Ramos’ It’s still a good way to catch up on the history in the big picture view of it all.

The issue is entertaining and while it didn’t blow me away, it was fun enough to have me come back to read what comes next.

Story: Mark Waid and Robbie Thompson Art: Humberto Ramos and Alberto Alburquerque
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Faith And The Future Force #4

FFF_004_VARIANT_CHEUNG“Bloodshot was a bust… Divinity didn’t work… Ninjak was nixed… No matter which of the Valiant Universe’s greatest heroes she recruits to her aid, Faith still can’t save the time stream! With time literally running out all around her, does L.A.’s sky-soaring superhero have what it takes to defend the entire universe…or will the secret key to saving existence itself come from the most darkest and most unexplored avenue of all?”

Well  this was an unexpected conclusion. When the combined might of the Valiant universe fails to save history, Faith, Neela Sethi and Ank try one last hail Mary – and it’s not exactly what you’d expect.

Faith And The Future Force has been a subtly intelligent series that subverts the industry established conventions that bigger and stronger heroes are needed as things get worse and the damage worsens. By having three comics in the four issue miniseries essentially tell the same story Jody Houser both pokes a little fun at the yearly summer events from the “Big Two” publishers while providing her own unique solution in the fourth issue; at some point we’ve got to learn that doing the same damn thing all the time just doesn’t work. To borrow a famous slogan, sometimes we need to think different.

To drive home the shift in thinking from the first three issues to the fourth, the art of Cary Nord (with Brian Thies) brings a different style to the story that is a little noticeable after the relative consistency of the first three issues, but that’s the entire point isn’t it? Although there is a scrappy feeling to the  artwork, it’s still very easy to follow the story –  it won’t leave your jaw on the floor, but there’s nothing inherently bad about the visuals this issue.

Where the comic does stumble is actually in some of the believability of the characters actions as they seem to just accept things without thinking too much about the whys. Granted this could be Houser making a clever point that I’m too dense to follow.

Ultimately the comic, and series as a whole, triumphs over the flaws in this issue – and while this could have easily been another arc within the ongoing Faith series, you’re not going to be lost if you’ve never touched the previous material as Faith And The Future Force stands alone as an entertaining story with a meta message.

Story: Jody Houser Art: Cary Nord with Brian Thies Colourist: Ulises Arreola
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy (the trade)

Valiant provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review – but I’m still buying this.

Review: Maestros #1

2E6866E8-9BF3-48A3-A836-D3BA7E71304C*MINOR SPOILERS BELOW*

If I had to describe Maestros #1, and I should since you took the time to read this review, I would say it’s part Tarantino, part Big Trouble in Little China, and part fantasy story. That is simplifying what is essentially one of the craziest, and prettiest comics I have read and looked at in recent memory. The only book I can think of that rivals the beautiful art married with a ridiculousness fun story of this level is Head Lopper.

The story starts off with the murder of Maestro, and the rest of the royal family. All signs point to the evil wizard, Mardok, who kind of looks like a Shaman and a flying Monkey from Wizard of Oz combined. We meet Margaret, who is told the news by a talking flower person who lets her know that since she had divorced Maestro, her and her son, Willy were spared. She then realizes she must go to her son to protect him. It’s a fun set up, and from here we see things start to go off the rails from a traditional fantasy plot.

We then meet her son, Willy, who is a wizard who is using his magic powers to enlarge the genitals of an oil salesmen in a seedy bar. He admits to a few of the ladies that he is speaking with that he could use his powers for more, but this is just temporary. Chaos breaks out and the mother and son are on the run from the evil forces of Mardok. It happens very quickly, and it is a lot of fun. The dialogue by Steve Skroce is witty, edgy, and works within the craziness of this world. They actually speak like real people, even though they are inside of a wacky fantasy tale.

I couldn’t finish talking about this book without discussing the beautiful art, which was drawn by Steve Skroce as well, and it is really something to see. Even with some graphic scenes of violence in the beginning, I found myself taking in all of the little details. Skroce is a heck of an artist, as he showed on the Brian K. Vaughn book, We Stand on Guard, and he does a stellar job again here while pulling double duty as the writer. The colors are also masterfully done by Dave Stewart, and really help this awesome book come to life. What would a good fantasy or sci-if story be without an awesome palette? Not very good or full of imagination, and thankfully that isn’t the case here. All bets are off as we see a wide array of color, and it is beautiful.

I recommend this book, as long as you do not mind a little swearing, a little violence, a little nudity, and a lot of craziness. If you like books like Head Lopper, or other out there original stories that are trying to do their own thing, and incredible art, then give Maestros a shot. It’s insane, in all the right ways.

Story: Steve Skroce Art: Steve Skroce Colors: Dave Stewart Lettering: Fonografiks
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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