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.
America #11 (Marvel)– Writer Gabby Rivera is really starting to hit her stride on this book as America Chavez balances life at college and finding info about her home planet. Artist Stacey Lee nails the warmth of the relationship between America and her abuela as well as some fierce portal punching action. My favorite bits involve the college campus where Prodigy exhibits some character growth and speaks out against the surveillance state. Rivera’s writing has finally caught up with America’s always strong art, which is sad in light of its impending cancellation. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy
Justice League #37 (DC)– The Justice League battles one of their biggest fans while trying to clear their extralegal activities on an international in another clever issue from writer Priest and artist Philippe Briones. The issue is non-stop action with narration telling the Fan’s origin, and Priest also uses the story to address racist superhero fans, who don’t like anyone other than straight white males fighting crime. Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz take center stage and basically rip to shreds the idea that only the original (He’s not.) Green Lantern Hal Jordan should have the title. But to keep things interesting, Priest pokes some holes in the morality of the JL’s actions. Briones’ art (Especially poses and anatomy.) and Gabe Eltaeb’s colors are a little too much mid-90s Wildstorm for my taste, but it doesn’t hinder the momentum another excellent chapter of Priest’s run on Justice League. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Batman #39 (DC)** – They almost had me with this one. Joelle Jones’ art is superb, and Tom King’s story has a simple and nifty premise for teaming Batman and Wonder Woman up. Everything’s going along swimmingly, really, until the last-page cliffhanger, and then — come on, DC. You don’t wanna go there. You really don’t. Did you learn nothing from the Superman/Wonder Woman “romantic” debacle? Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
Superman #39 (DC)** – Barry Kitson’s art on this issue is really just sort of “meh,” but Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason deliver what is probably the most charming and un-ironically sentimental Superman story in just about forever. Everything you love about super-heroes but never get to see anymore is packed into this slim, quickly-read little comic. Magical enough to melt even this hardened cynic’s heart. Buy Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Assassinistas #2 (IDW/Black Crown)** – This ain’t deep, but it sure is fun. Tini Howard has cooked up some compelling, if not exactly complex, characters, they move through absurd situation with ease, and Gilbert Hernandez’s art is — well, Gilbert Hernandez’s art. Which means, of course, pretty much perfect. This isn’t a book that’s up to “Love & Rockets” quality by any means, but it’s not really even trying to match that standard. It’s comfortable simply being the enjoyable, kinda stupid, throwaway yarn that it is. I’ll take it. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Jimmy’s Bastards #6 (Aftershock)** – More trademark sick-and-wrong fun from Garth Ennis and Russ Braun as our James Bond stand-in cracks when he finally realizes he’s had literally hundreds of illegitimate kids and that some of his “girlfriends” over the years were actually — uhhhmmm — yeah, anyway, the less said the better. You’d lose your marbles, too, trust me. Depraved shit, even by this creative team’s standards — and yes, I mean that as a compliment. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Dept H #22 (Dark Horse) The survival of humanity depends on who manages to get to the surface. Revealing that Mia’s father had the cure in locked away in the same room he was killed in. Bringing in an important point, was he saving for humanity, or was he protecting it from humanity? Overall: 8.5
Mage: The Hero Denied #5 (Image)**: This is getting a little frustrating. On the one hand, Kevin’s little family life is pretty charming. On the other hand, five issues in, he hasn’t goten around to addressing the real problems in his world. He’s foreverwaiting for people to show up, whether they’re gods, monsters, good guys or bad guys. He sings his wife Magda’s praises for being heroic, yet isn’t doing any of the really heavy lifting. For a hero who’s supposed to be the Pendragon, Kevin isn’t assuming the role of the next phase of that journey and becoming a king. Matt Wagner’s art is lovely, his writing of domestic scenes is pitch-perfect, but the story doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Read
Mage: The Hero Defined (book 2, vol 3) (Image)**: This trade collects #1-8 of the second part of Matt Wagner’s trilogy. There is a lot of fun to be found here – especially for me when the story moves to my hometown of Montreal (where, indeed, there is a giant illuminated cross on top of the small mountain in the centre of the city.) We meet a fun cast of mythical characters – speedy trickster Joe Phat, herculean Kirby Hero, bumbling mage Wally Ut. The action moves along fairly sprightly, the dialogue is nice, and I enjoyed the creative use of its setting. What’s missing is the sense of “why”: why is Montreal the nexus for all this mythical badness? What is Kevin fighting for? Why is the universe suddenly creating all of these vessels and warriors? The work stays firmly – and lightly – on the surface, grazing its themes but never truly digging in and getting to an emotional or visceral core. Fun, playful, yes – but at the same time Mage aspires to be a more meaningful and serious work that, for me, never manages to really challenge and transform its hero. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Read
Kill or Be Killed #15 (Image)** – Brubaker, Phillips & Breitweiser kick off the next arc by taking us to group therapy in the institution where Dylan is trying to get away from his family demon. So we’re really getting into the question of whether this is an actual demon from the spirit world or madness. As always, Dylan’s girlfriend Kira is trying to do the right thing the wrong way, erring on the side of normalcy and not helping in the least. Dylan spends the issue trying to talk about the demon and being shut down time and again, and the pills aren’t helping either. Then, when he finally does share in group… well, let’s just say that, contrary to what he says, Dylan is not taking back control of his life. Excellent. 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 (**).