Category Archives: Reviews

DC Weekly Graphic Novel Review: Batman The Dark Knight: Master Race

It’s Tuesday which means it’s new comic book day for book stores, both physical and digital, all across the world. Today we’ve got Frank Miller and Batman!

Batman The Dark Knight: Master Race by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson.

Batman The Dark Knight: Master Race is in book stores today and comic stores Wednesday September 20th.

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

Batman The Dark Knight: Master Race
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: Uncle Scrooge #30

Uncle Scrooge #30 collects two international stories in one book, reprinting one story from 1981 and another from 2011. The book will likely pique interest in those who are jumping on the Duck Tales revival train—myself included—and if you’re just here for classic Duckburg humor then you’re in the right place.

It’s hard for me to recommend purchasing the book, however, as it’s arbitrarily reproduced stories from older books. I can’t help but compare my reading experience to Duck Tales, which may not be fair, but it’s not to be helped, either. The television reboot is original, clever, and seamlessly blends classic Donald Duck comics with the cult-hit 90s cartoon.

In comparison, Uncle Scrooge is the same joke dragged out ad nauseam, which makes the story predictable. Where the new show works hard to give each of the triplets their own personality, and Donald his own meta-twist where his speech is only understandable about 60% of the time, the older stories feel dismissible in comparison. Donald uses complete sentences, Scrooge has no accent, the boys are referred to as clones (with good reason), and Scrooge is so cheap he charges interest on bus fare.

Maybe I’m coming down hard on the book because I hold Duck Tales and Donald Duck so very dear. I don’t like to see them mistreated. But Uncle Scrooge does just that. If the book used the older comics as bookends, like the newer Archie books, I would be much more inclined to return to “Uncle Scrooge” in the future. As it stands now, I think I’ll pass.

Story: Carlo Chendi, Daan Jippes, Jonathan Gray Art: Daan Jippes, Giorgio Cavazzano
Cover Art: Giorgio Cavazzano
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Sink #1

sink_001-coverAccording to the press release, Sink will be a series of standalone offbeat crime stories all linked by the location; that of Sinkhill, a forgotten East End district of a warped funhouse mirror vision of Glasgow, Scotland. Sinkhill is a hive of crooks, deviants and killers, and ordinary folk unfortunate enough to live among them.

There’s something refreshing about reading a standalone story that’s somewhat exhilarating, especially one such as this because you don’t know if you’re ever going to come across these characters again in another story, or if this is their one and only appearance, and that adds a genuine level of tension to the story in the series debut issue.

Sink #1 isn’t typically the kind of comic that I’d normally gravitate toward, but there was something about the setting that drew my attention, and I’m glad that it did.

John Lees crafts a fantastic story that touches on the twisted underbelly of Glasgow, with some characters that feel just like they walked off the streets (well in some cases, at least). Alex Cormack‘s art couldn’t be better suited to this comic, and his ability to bring forth the grim uneasiness that pervades Sinkhill’s streets really gets the comic under your skin.

If you’re looking for an excitingly fresh, albeit brutal, story then you need look no further than Sink. 

Story: John Lees Art & Colours: Alex Cormack
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

ComixTribe provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #14

Julie and Shawna Benson serve up a girl powered romp through the woods and the streets of Gotham in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #14. The Bensons tell a fun tale of Batgirl holding down the fort while her teammates supervise a field trip. Things are quite mundane on both ends until the Birds have to fight off an ancient spirit and Batgirl needs an assist from Poison Ivy and Catwoman to break up a gang turf war. The Birds and Batgirl both end up missing each other but find pleasure in knowing they can handle things on their own.

Marcio Takara‘s low key, throwback-esque art style adds an interesting element to the storytelling structure. There isn’t a hint of male gaze in the work. The panels are rich and inviting and they really help to move the story along.

The Bensons serve up a fun story about the women being able to handle things alone but they’re stronger together. There’s also some extra girl power points given to them for having Catwoman and Poison Ivy be Batgirl’s first choice when she needs back up. It’s a nice message to send that when you’re in trouble you can lean on other women first.

I truly enjoyed this issue. It wasn’t as intense or story arc driven as the things I’m used to but it was a nice change of pace. The issue focused on the simpler and fun campy things about the Birds of Prey. Things are tense enough in the real world so having a mellow, pure, low key fun issue to read was nice escape.

Story: Julie Benson, Shawna Benson Art: Marcio Takara
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Vudu Legends Vol. 1

Growing up a child of immigrants, the existence of evil spirits is something deeply embedded in both culture of my mother and my father. In the Filipino culture, the existence of evil spirits is as common as finding Filipinos who are Christians and most believe in both.  In the West Indian culture, there has always existed the Voodoo religion, which came over with some of the slaves, as it is was used to exorcise demons. Both cultures showed to me that although there’s good in the world, there is also evil.

That is why when I watched movies like the Exorcist and The Serpent and The Rainbow, these legends I heard from both side of my families, made those special effects real to me. As they were not fairy tales that were used to put us kids to sleep but actual warnings. As an adult now, and with all the skepticism in the world, I find my self-torn to believe these warnings from family and what I can actually prove. In Ashleigh Davenport’s VuDu Legends Volume 1, the reader is taken on a tour of the spiritual world of New Orleans.

In the opening pages, we meet Stephen, a man whose strong bond with an evil spirit, leads him to find a Damu, which is a person who has powers of healing and exorcism.  The reader gets to know this subculture, as there seems to be a few people who possess this power, Marie Laveau’s family being the most prominent. Stephen ends up finding them, Cassandra, KC and Momo, who definitely sense what is going on with him. By book’s end, Casandra ends up in a battle with the demon, ultimately winning, but a greater evil awaits them all.

Overall, an interesting take on the supernatural genre is explored with a new set of characters. The story by Davenport weaves the story well, introducing some very different concepts into the canon, absolutely making it better. The art by Michael Natividad brings together these otherworldly elements into breathtaking sequential art. Altogether, a great comic which will make you look at the supernatural genre in a wholly different way.

Story: Ashliegh Davenport Art: Michael Natividad
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/16

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.


 

Alex

PESTILENCE_04Old Man Logan #28 (Marvel)** The last Marvel comic on my pull list these days, and were it not for a very sentimental attachment to Wolverine I’d have likely dropped it awhile back for no other reason than I’ve largely stopped reading Marvel. That said, I’m still really enjoying this series, and seeing Old Man Logan back with Hawkeye again as they confront the Hulk Gang is a nostalgic throwback for the reader (and possibly Logan). Ultimately, a really solid book – and one I don’t regret picking up in the least. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Pestilence #4 (Aftershock)** There’s something to be said about reading about zombies in the medieval times. Frank Tieri has always been hit or miss for me (though truthfully far more hit than miss), and this series one of the hits. The covers are always brilliantly well done and the interior art, to me at least, has an almost Mignola feel to it. If you want something a bit different from the spandex and capes of the Big Two then you could do a lot worse than this medieval zombie story. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #4 (Dark Horse)** – Brian Wood and guest artist extraordinaire Vanessa R. Del Rey (way to leave her name off the cover, Dark Horse) deliver a stunning stand-alone story about a teenage girl looking to get off “The Land” to have an abortion that depicts the topic with the intelligence and sensitivity that it deserves while eschewing any sign of preachiness. Highly skilled stuff, wonderfully illustrated, with no easy answers provided. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Harrow County #25 (Dark Horse)** – Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook celebrate a milestone issue in their rural horror series with a story that not only moves, but downright propels, the narrative forward into dizzyng new territory. I’ve been “on the harrow county 25.jpgfence” about this book for some time despite Crook’s utterly gorgeous art, but as of now, I’m “all in” again, no question. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Action Comics #987 (DC)** – Lenticularize me, baby! Or, ya know, don’t, since the first issue of the much-hyped “The Oz Effect” storyline is the very definition of comic book mediocrity. Viktor Bogdanovic’s art has a little bit more personality (and a little bit less technical proficiency) than most “Rebirth” stuff, but Dan Jurgens’ script is rote and predictable in the extreme, even if “Mr. Oz” doesn’t turn out to be exactly who you assumed he was. In addition, they seem to have laidall their cards on the table with their “big reveal” on the final page of this issue, and it’s hard to see where they go from here — as well as why I should care. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Mister Miracle #2 (DC)** – Tom King and Mitch Gerads settle things down a bit after their “Mulholland Drive”-esque first issue, but it’s still fairly obvious that all is not quite as it appears here. Orion is running the show on New Genesis now, Granny Goodness apparently ain’t so bad, and Barda doesn’t really get killed even though it looks like she does for a minute there. Certainly interesting stuff, but I’m not sure “dialing back” the high weirdness was the right call (hey, time will tell), and Gerads’ art, while certainly damn good for the most part, is so murky in the final two panels that it’s hard to discern what’s even going on in the big “cliffhanger” ending. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

Mage: The Hero Denied #2 (Image)** – I’m up in the air over this one, but I think so is Kevin. On the one hand, he likes his quiet family life, so he’s trying to minimize the threats he’s facing. On the other, he has to take the necessary steps to protect his family. I think that it’s just that Matt Wagner hasn’t seemed to make up his mind yet about what MageTheHeroDenied_02-1Kevin wants most and what he’s prepared to do to get it, so the story is passive and reactive. There are just enough interesting hooks to keep me going, though: I love Mags’ magic crockpot, for instance, and Kevin’s relationship with his son is complex and real. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Kill Or Be Killed #12 (Image)** – This issue is strictly prosaic and procedural, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, coming from Ed Brubaker. Dylan starts hitting back at the Russians, and he and Kira inch closer. But Sean Phillips’ portrayal of Dylan struck me: he looks ten years older and seriously haunted, especially sitting next to Kira at the movies. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy.

Time & Vine #3 (IDW)** – The mystery – that of Megan’s Aunt Alice – kind of… meanders along here. Three issues in, I’m starting to wonder what this story is really about and what’s driving it. The historical vignettes are interesting – we go back to 1863 and a meeting of the Emancipation Society of New York to talk about slavery, suffrage, and economics – but I’m starting to lose the emotional connection. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Christopher

Dept H #18 (Dark Horse) Writer and Artist: Matt Kindt Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they give you a view of the surface world as a tease. Showing how they have reacted to the H-virus, as it spreads. As what may be their last hope for surfacing falls short. This series continues to draw me, as it progresses. Hopefully, with only two issues scheduled to remain after this, we will be shown how things end. 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: Æther & Empire #2

When the movie, Inglorious Bastards, came out a few years ago, it reminded of those movies much like Seven Samurai and Dirty Dozen, where it focused on solely and man and purpose. In Seven Samurai, the protagonists were there to save a village which needed help from marauder invasions. In Dirty Dozen, these crew of roughnecks into a mass genocide of German Officers. In the aforementioned movie, their mission was more direct, they were there to kill Hitler.

Each of these examples, always showed a couple of men, who did not necessarily want to go on these missions/jobs, some had no choice, but each showed fortitude in their bravery nonetheless. Each of these characters all came to the realization, that doing something for someone else was bigger than they were was worth it. This grit is what make most members of the military serve especially when it is scary. In this episode of Aether & Empire, Captain Bristow andhis crew’s mettle is challenged as take on a dangerous missio.

Bristow and his crew return to London to a hero’ welcome but the upper echelon of the fleet is no only there to greet him but to entrust a new mission with his crew. He soon finds out about a secret mission in space, as a crew of scientists have stopped communicating with London, and he must escort another group of scientists to their space station. As the crews get acquainted with each other, a am awkwardness ensues between the two. By the end of the issue, the airship is closing on Mars, and even closer to finding out what happened to the first crew.

Overall, this issue mixes political intrigue with murder mystery in a story arc that is starting to remind of movies like Leviathan and The Thing. The story by Horan, is rife with suspense and makes the 19th century sound interesting. The art by Dazo, is beautiful. Altogether, an excellent issue, which only proves this creative tea is rewriting how an action adventure should play out.

Story: Mike Horan Art: Bong Ty Dazo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Love From the Shadows

I recently re-watched the gone too soon tv show, Terriers, which was on FX. For those who are unfamiliar, it is about a pair of private investigators, one ex-cop and ex-con, who undertake several different odd cases. The over-arching storyline reminded me of watching Robert Towne’s and Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown, about a mass conspiracy involving some big land barons and a bunch of coverups. This reminded of those old pulp novels I grew up reading some involving crime, some about deceit amongst individuals, but each story just as juicy as the other.

In comics, Ed Brubaker has been one of the individuals, who is also ardent about this genre as is evident in his books, Velvet and The Fade Out. Traces of the genre can also be seen in Jason Aaron’s underrated tome Scalped. Rarely have adaptations of some of the films have ever been undertaken, as a lot of these movies were gems and inspired movies like Far From Heaven. This lead me to Gilbert Hernandez’s (Love and Rockets) solo outing series of books, which explores Luba’s (character from Love and Rockets) sister, Fritz’s movies and one of the most prominent ones being, Love from The Shadows.

In this adaptation of this faux movie, Fritz portrays Dolores, a well to do woman who enjoys the lush life as the concubine of a supernatural scam artist. Eventually Dolores, is called home as her father’s health deteriorates and some old family wounds are reopened. A chance encounter leads her to the film business where she runs into a series of “abusive people”, which use her for their pleasure as a betrayal allows this descent. By book’s end, Dolores takes control of her situation and exacts revenge in the worst way.

Overall, an excellent story which proves that Hernandez is quite a cinephile capturing the tone and driving themes that were prominent in most of these movies, much like the Pam Grier movie, Coffy. The story by Hernandez, is lithe, complex, and entertaining. The art by Hernandez is reminiscent of his work on Love and Rockets but with few subtle differences. Altogether, a book that will give smiles and cringes, but will entertain nonetheless.

Story: Gilbert Hernandez Art: Gilbert Hernandez
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Love Debut

Being a child of the 1980s, I remember when love songs pretty much ruled the airwaves. There were a ton of songs that talked about all the aspects of relationships in all their glory as well as their uneven mess. Some were unflinchingly honest, like the classic song by Slick Rick, “Teenage Love”, which encapsulated the fluctuation of feelings when teenagers and hormone are involved. Then there were the songs that captured the mystery of love, like Paula Abdul’s “When opposites Attract”.

There were many things about that song that stood for anyone who has heard it, but for those who of us who have seen the music video, can attest, it was pretty entertaining, as it came a few years after Who Framed Roger Rabbit? What stood out for me, was also the messages the song was trying to convey, as no matter how many differences one can find not to be attracted to someone, sometimes nothing can resist that raw magnetic pull. Songs, books and moves these days like to intermingle these simple anecdotes about love and attraction with lust and sex often. So when I heard about Nika’s Love Debut, it gave me some hope that there were creators who reminisced about those same love songs.

In the opening pages, we are introduced to Nick Thomas, an aspiring musician and Sara Hoffman, a former child star, currently working as a waitress hoping no one would recognize her. What starts out as innocent interest in Sara’s welfare becomes an actual attraction to her, at first friendly but slowly but surely becomes a full-on love interest. In the meantime, they become interested in music together, leading them to becoming a band getting to know each other. By book’s end, our protagonists have shared more than either ever expected, which ultimately leads to love blooming.

Overall, a book that reminded me of that definitive Paul McCartney song, “Silly Love Songs”, as this book is as endearing as this song and even more moving in many ways. The story by Nika tackles a typical love story in the most unconventional of ways, putting most rom-coms to shame. The art by Nika is alluring and gorgeous. Altogether, a funny, beautiful love story that has already changed the game on how love stories should be told.

Story: Nika Art: Nika
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Movie Review: mother!

mother posterI have another name for this movie.

Yes, it starts with mother! But it ends with a word you can’t say on television that Samuel L. Jackson likes. A lot.

This is one of the most astoundingly ponderous and pretentious films I’ve seen in years. Director Darren Aronofsky can be hit or miss, and this is perhaps his biggest miss ever. It’s like he took the reactions to Noah, in which critics and audiences did not like his retelling of the story of the biblical flood, and said, “Oh, you hated that? Great, well now I’m going to do it to THE ENTIRE BIBLE.”

This is incredibly unfortunate, for a movie that is spectacularly acted and meticulously filmed. The film follows Jennifer Lawrencemarried to Javier Bardem, a poet suffering from writers’ block. When unexpected houseguests Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer arrive, they begin to cause problems, as do their children, played by siblings Domhnall  and Brian Gleeson. But Bardem’s poet can’t get enough of the attention they lavish on him for his talent, and despite his wife’s protestations to send the guests away and the damage they do to their house, more and more guests arrive. There is supposedly a metaphor in here for the biblical Genesis story, which eventually muddles through the arrival of a Messianic child and an eventual apocalypse, but it’s too ponderous and clumsily told that the metaphor collapses under its own weight.

Even the title mother! is pretentious and offputting. It literally shouts at us with its exclamation mark. And then emphasizes its lower-case m so we know this is a Very Serious Important Move about Very Serious Things, like a college sophomore who decides their name shouldn’t be capitalized so they can stand out in the crowd and show off how self-effacing they are.

This film is the textbook definition of laying it on too thick, with a steaming side of heavy hands. And, astoundingly, at the same time, it is hella confusing for the first two-thirds of the film! As an audience member coming in, you’re left wondering exactly what is going on or what you’re supposed to be taking away from this.

The themes are all over the place. Is this movie about the erasure of the divine feminine from Christianity? Is it about the lack of respect for women and the creative, nurturing force? Is this about the environment and Mother Earth / Gaia? Is this about the creative process and the relationship between artist and audience? Is it a horror movie? Are the events depicted on screen actually happening, metaphor, or some sort of surrealistic nightmare?

Apparently the answer to all of these is yes. And no. To quote Janeane Garofalo in the cult classic Mystery Men, You’re not well-liked. You’re abrasive and off-putting. You try and say pithy things, but your wit is a hindrance and so, therefore nothing is provocative.It’s just mixed metaphors.”

When you take a classic, beautifully woven epic with multiple themes like Les Miserables or Anna Karenina or The Godfather, whether the medium is the page, the stage, or the screen, the skilled autuer will fully develop those themes and make them accessible at multiple levels.

With mother!, Aronofsky doesn’t fully develop any of them, and so the film in trying to say everything, in fact, says nothing. This leaves even the most ardent lover of film confused is not a sign of brilliance. It is a sign of failure.   

And where the film really strikes out is in its attempts to have a message of feminism, it mostly just ends up glorifying violence towards and erasure of women. I’m sorry, but you can’t be a feminist movie if you can’t even pass the Bechdel Test. It’s a fairly low bar, and they didn’t even manage to get over that.

Even more creepy is the way the camera follows Jennifer Lawrence throughout the movie. Wearing an incredibly sheer nightgown and no underwear for much of the film, she is intentionally lit to repeatedly show off her nipples. The camera follows her from behind with more shots of her butt than a Michael Bay movie. (And can we point out that the movie would be 40 minutes shorter if it didn’t incessantly follow her movement throughout the house, padding an already ponderous picture?)

And then in the final climax of the film, she is brutally attacked, her clothing ripped, exposing her bare breasts. . .  in a rape scene. No. No. No. No. NO.

Aronofsky has publicly stated that we have been destroying our mother earth with our presence– message received. But to take it a step further to depict it on screen as an actual rape contributes to rape culture by not only seemingly glorifying/fetishizing the moment but also by lessening the impact of the epidemic of sexual assault in our country. I even bristle at the too-easy-to-make metaphor of pollution, climate change, etc “raping Mother Earth.” It doesn’t elevate a call to action, but it does lessen the impact of actual sexual assault. That being said, mother!’s final fiery apocalypse fueled by combusting oil and coal is a metaphor worth exploring– it’s just unfortunate that it is too glibly conflated with violence towards women that its impact is lessened.

It’s arguable that mother! wants to teach us something about the important place for women, but all we’re left with is a glorification of her erasure, abuse, and ultimate place as an adjunct to the man. And [spoiler alert, but IDGAF] at the end of the film, we also find out that her special, sacred role is ultimately replaceable, and she can be consumed in apocalyptic destruction and the ultimate in self-effacement and annihilation, and just as easily replaced by another woman.

Nice job, Darren Aronofsky. You took a movie about women, put your girlfriend in it, and made it all about you– the ultimate in white male “feminism.” And you bet those quotation marks are ironic.

And if you were trying to make a message about the environment, you absolutely failed– showing that our earth is completely replaceable. It isn’t. As an environmentalist myself, that implication goes beyond being problematic to dangerous.

What’s most infuriating is I really really really wanted to like this movie. It has some amazing elements in it that, if properly developed, could have made something cool. The environmental message is absolutely necessary and poignant, especially given the events of the last few weeks. A message about art and audience would have been cool. Something that was actually feminist would have been amazing. And Aronofsky’s visual sense is right on point here. He masterfully uses his setting to create an emotional response. I can name only a handful of other films that came out this year as competently shot/composed as this. (Detroit, Your Name, Get Out, Dunkirk) But someone needed to sit him down and tell him he was being self-indulgent and an idiot.

This is that Jerry Seinfeld joke that the original title for Tolstoy’s novel was War: What is it Good For? If Tolstoy had published that joke draft instead of War and Peace, we would laugh about how terrible that book is. mother! is that underdeveloped potential with an epic that deserves to be told in a more cogent fashion.

1 out of 5 stars

« Older Entries