Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Runaways #4

Marvel’s Runaways airing on Hulu has started a renewed interest in the already interesting Runaways brand. There’s something to be said about a series where the strongest member is a little girl, expressing a cute and gender role critiquing exterior with a stronger than the hulk interior strength. Runaways #4 starts off with a look into the reinvention and reanimating of the fallen Victor Mancha. Mancha exists as a sentient head in lab, mid reconstruction. Gert, Nico, and Chase take Mancha’s head on a road trip to see Molly who is the center of this issues’ part of the arc. The team is incomplete and Molly misses her pseudo-family even while living with her actual grandmother. After a hug-filled reunion and celebratory grilled cheeses, Chase lies out his plan to restore Victor to Molly and her grandma and reveal to Molly their intent to take her home which Molly is not keen on.

Writer Rainbow Rowell does an excellent job of writing the characters, giving them personality and giving just enough to make the readers connect to the story. When Gert makes her decision about Molly at the end of the episode it’s as surprising to the reader as it is to the rest of the team.

Kris Anka ‘s art work on this saccharine laced filler issue is pretty and muted matching the tone of the story. Anka manages to give the characters detail and keep the art sweet yet have a lingering shadow of ominous darkness portrayed. The facial expressions highlight real emotions, even in Victors’ severed sentient head.

Overall, this issue was a sweet well written part of the story and leaves on a “To Be Continued” cliffhanger that leaves the future of the team up in the air. The promise of a good next turn based on this issues cliffhanger is enough to make you want to continue reading the this story and see where the road leads.

Story: Rainbow Rowell Art: Kris Anka
Story: 8.1 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

Review: Action Comics #993

As Superman struggles to cope with Mr. Oz’s true identity, the Man of Steel turns to the only “hero” he knows who can prove once and for all if Oz’s story is true: Booster Gold! But a massive power doesn’t want our heroes venturing through time, and will do anything it can to sabotage their journey!

Fun and retro, that’s the best way to describe Action Comics #993 written by Dan Jurgens who also provides the pencils for the issue (with ink by Joe Prado and Cam Smith). Superman is off the try to figure out if Jor-El is really Mr. Oz and what he’s learned is true or not and that means heading to the past with the Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill. And Booster Gold shows up just too late to stop him because of course this isn’t going to go well.

Booster Gold has been absent during Rebirth so to see the character and his bit of fun introduced and in such a way is beyond welcome but Jurgens does it all in a way and style that feels like it’s a story that could have been written in the 80s or 90s and that includes the art in some ways too. That’s not a bad thing at all as the story is time travel crazy that only comics can deliver and it does in that “shocking” sort of way that you can tell Jurgens is in on it all and writing it a certain way on purpose.

The art helps with Jurgens taking the helm and a look that looks like DC of the past. That’s not a bad thing at all but Jurgens and others from his era have a different style than artists from the last decade. So, art wise, it looks more like the Superman comics I read growing up as a kid. The panel layouts and flow have more in common with those comics than those of today.

Story and art combine to create an experience that feels like a bit of a throwback in a good way. It’s turn your brain off fun that you want to see where it all goes from here. Experiencing this issue, I feel like I was my 10 year old self reading comics appreciating the shocking reveals and page turns. To get a comic to make you feel like that again is something that’s a bit special and is another example of why Jurgens’ run on Superman has been a highlight of the year.

Story: Dan Jurgens Art: Dan Jurgens Ink: Joe Prado, Cam Smith
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: X-Men: Blue #17

Lost in time, Jean Grey and her team of X-Men must survive long enough to fix what is wrong with the timestream… which isn’t easy with the teens stranded in the not-too-far future. If only there were a similar group of mutant heroes to help them out. Oh, wait! There totally is, the X-Men of 2099!

I generally enjoyed the last issue, the first part of “Cross Time Capers,” but something is off with X-Men: Blue #17 in both story and dialogue. Writer Cullen Bunn has brought back the X-Men of 2099 in an unexpected twist that had me excited as the last issue ended. I remember loving that series back in the day (and the entire 2099 line) though I’m sure if I revisited it I’d be a little let down. So, X-Men 2099, cool. The story that’s presented a bit also cool. There’s something with Alchemex which was taken over the X-Men at some point and honestly I don’t remember much of the original run so it all feels like a new and interesting concept that has me wanting to dare and go back and read the original material. The concepts thrown out there are really neat, but how they’re presented feel a bit choppy with dialogue that is beyond stilted at times.

Bunn has the two teams regroup to asses things and then they’re attacked and there’s a battle with Alchemex but all of it has a flow of an ADD kid who’s missing just enough detail to make things a bit clearer and enjoyable. That isn’t helped by the fact there’s panels of dialogue that feel like they come out of nowhere and just doesn’t fit with what’s going on. The last issue flowed well and this has just way too many bumps on the road to make it as enjoyable and too much thrown out there without enough explanation to really appreciate anything. A dialed back issue with less conflict might have been a better way to go.

The art by R.B. Silva is good but again is missing something compared to last issue. There’s at times too much going on with the scenes too panned out to get a good amount of detail or much emotional oomph from anyone talking or even some of the action.

The issue had so much potential with the re-introduction of X-Men 2099 but things feel squandered and rushed. It’s clearer at the end of the issue that we shouldn’t expect depth instead we’re sort of getting a “this is your life” tour of X moments throughout the decades. That could work as a whole but as individual pieces it misses something until the end is near. Not enough focus creates an issue that’s more nostalgia than anything interesting.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: R.B. Silva
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.4 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Suicide Squad #31

The “Secret History of Task Force X” arc has been an journey of exploration surrounding the OG Task Force X and the parallels tp our favorite villains, the Suicide Squad. There has been a lot to unpack emotionally, and story wise, but writer Rob Williams as usual rises to the challenge. He sets the writing bar high and not only hits the mark but passes it with his superior story telling. This issue continues to track the ramifications of the OG TFX mister with the Red Mask, Karin is still in space, Suicide Squads’ Rick Flagg still in the Phantom Zone, and everything is spectacular.

This issue shows off Williams’ range as a writer, not only do we get his always well played action but, we get some nice sensitive, well thought out emotional moments. Williams’ is a master a writing realistically when it comes to his female characters in thoughts, he has a earl knack for making their motivations and emotions realistic and genuine. There was a moment where I actually felt so deeply about some of the female characters emotions and motivations that I started to tear up. The way this issue juxtaposes Harley Quinn and Karin’s relationship and feelings for OG Flagg and Suicide Flagg is sweet, and beautiful. He touches on all of the intensity and grey areas of intimate relationships while managing to have each of them maintain a sense of agency. There is a nuanced and self aware portrayal when Harley ponders her relationship with The Joker that hits the gut especially when she parallels it with her relationship with Flagg. There are so many wonderfully written moments that evoke so much emotion that they could fill a whole issue on their own, yet Williams’ manages to distill a myriad of thoughts and actions into a 21 page issue arc segment without sacrificing story or realism. Williams’ writing is superb, believable, and so real that the emotional moments in his script pack just a big of a punch as his action filled let’s save the world moments do.

The amazing writing in this issue of the story arc was accompanied by Barnaby Bagenda futuristic yet muted art work. Bagenda provided a well drawn backdrop to an intense story and his palette choice added an extra character to the story without detracting from Williams’ poignant words. The art was so well crafted that you could actually see emotions on the characters faces and pain in their bodies.

Suicide Squad #31 is beautifully written, brilliantly crafted, and a perfect combination of art and story that draws the reader in and immerses them so fully in the drama that you forget that it’s a comic book. If you want to feel real feelings about imaginary characters, this is the issue to read.

Story: Rob Williams Art: Barnaby Bagenda
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review 

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #792

Spider-Man finds himself between Eddie and a mysterious new figure! And Black Cat and her gang find themselves face-to-face with an amped-up villain named Maniac that might just rip those faces right off.

Amazing Spider-Man #792 gives us the second part of “Venom Inc.” the first story in a while pitting Spider-Man and Venom together. While I wasn’t too blown away by the first issue, I still found it to be entertaining enough with entertaining moments peppered throughout and a set up that had me interested in seeing where things were going.

This second part is much of the same with an issue that again has cool moments but is lacking something that puts it over the top. It’s competent but at the same time feels too familiar and like it’s going through the motions.

Writer Dan Slott has guided Spider-Man for a while now and there’s a familiarity and ease there that few writers get to with a character but at that same time there’s an excitement that has been missing for some time. I enjoyed the Doc Ock body swap and what came after but for a year or two now things have been puttering with ideas that are better than the execution and that seems to continue here.

It’s not bad, it’s just missing something to make it special.

Artist Ryan Stegman continues to be the highlight with art that’s entertaining and full of action. Stegman’s art has been something I’ve enjoyed for some time no matter what he’s done and this is no different. Scenes which could be dull are given a bit of a boost with their presentation and at the same time Stegman avoids the over the top presentation of Spider-Man we’ve seen other artists deliver.

There’s nothing bad here, there’s also just nothing that has me super excited to where things are going. We’ve seen this before in some ways and none of it feels new enough to really get me wanting to see where it all goes. This is entertaining yet forgettable and feels like it’ll be going down as a rather mediocre Spider-Man story when it wraps up.

Story: Dan Slott Art: Ryan Stegman Cover Art: Alex Ross
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.85 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Giants #1

A cataclysm of unknown origins unleashed a race of gigantic monsters whose presence has driven humanity underground.

There, two orphans discover that the most dangerous monster is ambition, which unchecked, will grow until it devours you!

I don’t know the Valderrama brothers, at least nothing jumps out at me, so their “first American work” isn’t much of a draw on that alone, but it did get me interested enough to check Giants #1 out. Written by Carlos Valderrama with art by Miguel Valderrama this series is familiar in a way that it feels like something I’ve read or seen before but its presentation is entertaining enough that I don’t care about that at all.

A combination of giant monster story and post apocalyptic gangs, the first issue introduces us to two young kids who want to be a part of one of those gangs and in their mind protected in a way. It’s a harsh reality of what would drive someone to join a gang, simple, yet the reality for many. They have a mission though where they need to get a valuable material to bring back and that sends them on their adventure where things go sideways.

The reader is thrown into this world without much as far as explanation but the way everything is presented in both story and look of it all, nothing seems out of place or odd enough to question anything. Carlos’ writing flows well and while everything feels familiar, there’s still something interesting about the presentation and our two main characters. That’s partially due to Miguel’s art style which has an almost anime aspect to it all and creates a sense of flow that’s exciting along with entertaining.

Giants is a mash-up of familiar genres and tropes and in the first issue doesn’t present anything new as far as that but what it does is present that familiar in a way that’s beyond competent and entertaining. This is just solid writing and solid art together to create an entertaining experience.

Story: Carlos Valderrama Art: Miguel Valderrama
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Black Panther: Long Live The King #1

As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T’Challa has had to save the world time and again — but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda. As the nation rebuilds in the wake of revolution, T’Challa finds his people besieged by a massive monster tearing through the country, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake!

Novelist Nnedi Okorafor and artist Andre Araujo tackle the latest comiXology Original digital series in a comic that’s a fun read and set up. The digital series so far have all been fun, though none stand out, and this debut continues that with a story that creates a nice mystery while emphasizing what makes Black Panther and Wakanda stand out.

A monster has caused an earthquake that seems to have sucked the energy out of the Vibranium used for the power grid leaving the nation in a blackout. But, does the monster exist? T’Challa seems to have been the only one who witnessed the creature and he, and we the readers, are left to question its existence. That aspect is really fun and creates a mystery that I have no idea where it’s going.

Okorafor has a solid handle on the world of Black Panther with an emphasis on the technology and T’Challa as its ruler. There’s also a good focus on the action with earthquakes destroying some of the city and it presented in a way where it feels like the vibrations are flowing off of the screen. The comic is also a perfect entry point for new fans interested in dipping into the world of Black Panther. Okorafor also teases diving into a part of Wakanda not really explored and in a way expanding the world of Black Panther too.

The art by Araujo is solid and looks good on a screen. It’s more of a cartoonish style (not a bad thing) but what particularly stands out is the earthquake sequences which are rendered in a way where it almost feels like the vibrations are coming through the screen. It’s simple but makes the extended sequence work in a lot of ways.

The first issue is good though not great but it impressively serves to be easily accessible for new readers while expanding the world for long time fans. It’s also solid enough I want to see what’s next. The focus on the technology of Wakanda has me very interested in seeing where it’s going and what we’ll see, there’s a lot of potential there and that aspect has me excited to see what’s next.

You can purchase this digital comic now through comiXology or read it for free as part of comiXology Unlimted.

Story: Nnedi Okorafor Art: Andre Araujo
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel and comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bloodshot Salvation #4

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This is the story of two brothers, who were born into nothing and reaped an inheritance of anger… This is the story of Rampage – an imperfect reflection of Bloodshot’s potential, one enhanced by the very same nanite technology, but fueled by an inextinguishable furnace of hate… This is the story of the Valiant Universe’s most terrifying new villain, and a preview of the pain he has yet to inflict on an unsuspecting world…

After last issue’s cliffhanger ending, Bloodshot Salvation #4 takes a different track as it fleshes out the backstory of two major players in the series, the Scarred Man and Rampage, which means we’ll have to wait until at least issue five to get some form of resolution to the aforementioned cliffhanger. It’s almost enough to make a person feel a little miffed, or it would be if Jeff Lemire didn’t produce a compelling, if slightly telegraphed, story as he and artist Mico Suayan take a brief but welcome look into the antagonists of the series.

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The story itself, although not the most complex, or original if we’re being honest (but then you show me an entirely original origin type story these days that’s still of a high caliber) is both engaging and well told; you may suss out the ending by the midpoint, but you’ll still enjoy the journey as told by a writer at the top of his game. But just because I could see where the story was heading didn’t mean that there wasn’t a couple of smaller, more character based surprises for me toward the end of the comic.

Mico Suayan is, once again, on utterly brilliant form as the brings the story to a visceral presence as you read the comic. The underlying sense of dread as the tale unfolds, and the very palpable fear of the young characters wouldn’t be half as effective were it not for Suayan’s art and colourist Diego Rodriguez. 

Bloodshot Salvation #4 is a bit of a break from the story running though the first three issues, but it’s one that teases out the cliffhanger of the previous issue with a fleshing out of characters that, ultimately, needed a bit of fleshing out. How this will play into the rest of the series, well we’ll find out sooner or later, eh?

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Mico Suayan Colourist Diego Rodriguez
Story: 8.75 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided a FREE copy for review. I will purchase my copy anyway.

Review: Mister Miracle #5 (of 12)

How do you spend your last night on Earth? Why, with the one you love, of course! Having been condemned to death by the new Highmaster, Mister Miracle is going to have to return to New Genesis for his execution. Before he does, he and Big Barda go on one last date. But if Scott Free truly is infected by Darkseid, as Orion says, you can bet some dark force will intervene-only to what end?

Mister Miracle for four issues (and now a fifth) has been a bit of a puzzle. Is this all a dream? Is this some alternate reality? Is this Scott dreaming while he escapes from his suicide? It’s been a fascinating read no matter as it’s a prime example of how amazing individuals can come together to create an even more amazing whole.

Writer Tom King keeps up the questions and goes meta in Mister Miracle #5 as Scott attempts to enjoy his last day alive with Barda and the result is a touching issue full of meloncolly. Reading an issue during the holiday season, I have to say, I’m glad I’m no longer single, because it’s depressing.

The fact King is able to deliver such an emotional punch so effortlessly and with such cliches shows his strength as a writer. The issue is sad, depressing, and tense as the pages turn like a clock counting down until the final minute. But, through that desperation, and helplessness he also delivers so much love on the page. I never quite got Scott and Barda other than they’re two abused individuals who found each other in the madness, but this issue, I really felt their love for each other. You feel Scott’s helplessness over it all but what’s stronger is Barda’s desperation and not wanting it to end, to somehow see Scott escape once again and survive his fate.

And part of that emotion is to also get the reader to think what they would do in the same situation. Who would you spend your last day with? What would you do? Through Scott we ponder our own mortality and choices.

Mitch Gerads‘ art is part of that emotion. Beyond the interesting glitches we see, Gerads masters storytelling through small details like body language. A tilted head, the way someone stands, a certain movement, it all are details that add to whatever the writer is doing. And that addition helps bring a lot of that emotional impact as it conveys exactly is being felt without the need for words. There’s panels that are wordless with just a look and the position of a head to tell the reader everything they need to know.

I can’t say I completely get what’s going on with this series but there’s no ignoring that this issue is full of emotional weight with the expected amazing art. The series continues to be a head scratcher but it’s a head scratcher I look forward to reading every month and one of the best of the year.

Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads Cover Art: Nick Derington
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

DC Rebirth: Recap and Review Comics Released 12/6

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s DC Rebirth: Recap And Review where we take a look at the comics released under DC‘s Rebirth banner and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers – we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in.

Each comic will receive a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly based on how easy it was for new readers to pick them up; the ratings are based solely on the issues released in the post-Rebirth ongoing series. More consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. You’ll also notice that each comic will get a rating that falls on Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

Not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I  sometimes forget to read them  (although that doesn’t happen often), or I really can’t bring myself to pic up the issue. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


BM_Cv36_dsBatman #36 Batman got engaged to Catwoman. That’s all you need to know about perhaps the best issue of this series in a LONG time. Needless to say, this Friendly issue is a must read for anybody who enjoys the relationship between Batman and Superman. 9.25/10

Cyborg #19 An interesting, and ultimately Friendly, story that has the cybernetic hero far out of his usual environment. Unfortunately it’s entirely forgettable after Batman #366.75/10

Deathstroke #26 Deathstroke has been captured (four days ago) and his team of young heroes, Defiance, are unsure if his disappearance is another of his tests (as he is wont to do to assess their effectiveness) or if he’s genuinely in peril – though the young team aren’t overly sure how smart you’d have to be to kidnap Deathstroke. This series is best read in solid chunks (think trades), and picking up the series randomly tends to leave you hovering around the Friendly/Unfriendly line. Generally, the series has been at the very least worth reading. 7.25/10

Green Arrow #35 Ollie Queen has been accused of  a murder he didn’t commit (the supposed victim was kidnapped and held underground for sometime before being rescued in a catatonic state – and now Ollie doesn’t want to put her through more trauma so he’s facing trial for her murder… it’s a noble yet foolish gesture), and he’s also broke. In order to secure some evidence he needs, he needs to head underwater… the issue is relatively Friendly at this point. 7/10

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Green Lanterns #36 This issue is actually pretty Friendly all by its lonesome, even if it is the second in a two part story. Not the best, honestly, but enjoyable nonetheless. 6.75/10

Justice League #34 Pretty sure this is a standalone story, and as such it is Friendly, but once again not the best representation of the characters with as we follow what is essentially a day-in-the-life tale. Not a bad story to pick up, and  nice breather after several long arcs. 6.75/10

Nightwing #34 I’ll be completely honest with you: aside from the very basics I don’t remember too much about this series. Thankfully, there’s a recap given through the narrative on the first page that will get you right up to speed. It’s a Friendly, and very enjoyable twenty odd pages, but it’s also the end of an arc. Whether you start here or next issue, that’s up to you. 7.5/10

Superman #36 Look, I won’t beat around the bush. This is an Unfriendly mess at the best of times, and a convoluted waste at others, so if you want to start on this series, wait for the next issue. You’ll thank me. 5/10

 


That’s a wrap for this week folks. I’ll see you next time!

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