Category Archives: Reviews

TV Review: Broad City S4E8 “House-Sitting”

Even though it featured the return of wealthy, privileged youngster Oliver (Of “Yas kween” fame.) for a short cameo, guest stars Mike Birbiglia, and has an amazing running laundry gag, “House-Sitting” is probably one of the worst episodes of Broad City ever. Writers Kevin Barnett and Josh Rabinowitz, for the most part, move away from the political comedy of the previous two episodes while keeping the fish out of water theme from “Florida”. The plot of the episode revolves around Abbi, Ilana, Jaime, Lincoln, and Abbi’s high school English teacher-turned-Bumble-date Richard (Mike Birbiglia) housesitting one of Ilana’s very wealthy, former employers while she goes off to the Hamptons with her son in an Uber helicopter. (Apparently, that’s a thing.)

But “House-Sitting” isn’t all negative. When director Abbi Jacobson isn’t extending a fart noises as hand guns gag to an unbearable length, she, Barnett, and Rabinowitz find some sweet and funny moments in the relationship between Lincoln and Ilana. (After a little bit of hesitation, she calls him her boyfriend.) Hannibal Burress and Glazer have great chemistry and share some fun moments, especially trying on fancy golden outfits and tuxes from the spacious rich people closets. They get to be part of the episode’s best gag, which is various characters losing their damn minds that the super fast and spacious multiple washing machines in the house’s basement that apparently the owner herself doesn’t even know about. Broad City is at its best either when it’s in “It’s funny because it’s true” mode or doubling down on Abbi and Ilana’s friendship, and this running joke with a twist ending definitely fits into the first categories for users of weird, shaking washing machines or have had one too many quarters eaten at laundromats/rooms.

The bad (and gross) comes from Abbi’s plotline, which has her going on a really awkward date with her old English teacher, Richard. Birbiglia plays the role of sleazy wannabe intellectual very well, especially in his tweed jacket, making the most of an uncomfortable part where he admits to masturbating to his students. He still sees Abbi as his student and not a woman in her late 20s, and did I mention that Jaime is watching the whole thing behind stuffed animals in Oliver’s bedroom. Obviously, Barnett, Rabinowitz, and Jacobson portray Richard as a terrible person, but seeing the whole ingenue/mentor forbidden romance thing for the millionth time isn’t really funny.  They really lean into some darkness in Ilana’s long monologue where she basically says that teachers jerking off to students is better than having sex with them. Ilana has said plenty of problematic stuff in Broad City, but this is honestly one of her worst moments.

The way Barnett, Rabinowitz, and Jacobson handle the end of the Richard/Abbi storyline is just plain weird as they start by Abbi telling him off and then turn into a half-assed Breakfast Club parody complete with the most overused 80s teen movie song of all time. (At least, they use the original and not the bad pop punk cover like Easy A did.) The storyline comes across as gross and pointless and just an excuse to give Abbi something to do while Lincoln and Ilana define their relationship and healing from adult circumcision Jaime tries to avoid getting a boner, which is adorable as much the Abbi B-plot is disgusting. I guess it reinforces that Abbi isn’t relationship material, but it’s mostly just frightening.

A bottle episode inside a palatial New York City mansion is a fun premise, and Abbi Jacobson seems to have a good time playing with the opulence of the interiors while Kevin Barnett and Josh Rabinowitz’ bidet setting jokes really cracked me up and fit the characters of Abbi and Ilana. However, this fun and some sweet Ilana/Lincoln material is unfortunately overshadowed by the appearance of a creepy pedophile character played by a pretty good comedian that also takes down Ilana with him in a painful bit where she hopes that Lincoln and her theoretical children are jerked off to by their teacher.

After writing that last sentence, I have to take a shower in the opposite of the setting of this episode…

Overall Verdict: 6.0

Review: Shoplifter

It seems like ages ago, when the show, Mad Men, aired on television, as it brought back a certain sophistication to the television landscape, reminding everyone that after a certain age, every man should at least have two good suits. Don Draper, certainly had more than two, and had his own indulgences. The show had great acting and great writing going for it, where they not only showed the world the glamorous side of those yesteryears but also gave the world reality of how it was for women and minorities.

The most prominent character who embodied this struggle, was the character played by Elisabeth Moss, Peggy Olson. She was the viewer’s entry into this world and the many rules that governed who climbs the corporate ladder. Each season, showed how any woman in her position, would subvert perceptions, challenge the status quo, and elevate herself because of her talents and not what society expected of her. In Michael Cho’s brilliant Shoplifter, we meet a woman, much like Peggy, with her own set of struggles, who eventually become the hero of her own story.

In the first few pages, we meet Corinne, a millennial, who has found herself stuck in the same job for the past five years, dreaming of a world where she could have used her degree. As, she is no part of the Boys club, like Peggy Olson, she finds her vices in other places, through shoplifting, a local convenience store several times a week. She endures her day to day, through shoplifting ang socializing with her friends after work, until one day, the local shop clerk, confronts her, which makes Corinne take stock on who she is and what she needs to do move forward with her life. By book’s end, Corinne leaves her, at peace, in full breath, ready to go to the next stop in her journey.

Overall, Cho takes the reader on a journey, that feels melancholy at first, but leads to place where the protagonist is the captain of her own destiny. The story by Cho feels like a procedural, but beautifully develops into a coming of age tale. The art by Cho is gorgeous. Altogether, ultimately Cho gives the reader, a protagonist, who is a mixture of Peggy Olson and Don Draper, making her a force of will.

Story: Michael Cho Art: Michael Cho
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Warframe #1 & 2

Warframe, the free game for PC and console, has a pretty simple surface premise: be a robot space ninja with guns and do cool parkour tricks. It’s free and, honestly, it serves the game well. You don’t have to care more about what’s going on that that if you don’t want to. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like Overwatch in that respect: lore is meant to enhance the experience of the gameplay but isn’t entirely necessary. It’ll definitely make things clearer however, especially as you get deeper into the game’s story missions.

The Warframe comics from Image and Top Cow also help to fill in some of the lore of the world of Warframe where Tenno, Grineer, and other factions are constantly at war over the solar system and the secrets of the Orokin hidden within the Void. The first arc thus far seems to come before the start of the game and details how a Tenno came to be in the hands of the Grineer Captain Vor. If you’re curious about how what’s supposed to be a great warrior ended up a prisoner of war, #1 and 2 fill in the gap well.

Warframe_02-1

Fans of the game will recognize several faces (or, in the case of Warframes, “faces”) like the Lotus, Vor, Excalibur, Mag as well as locations like the Ostron village of Cetus introduced in the latest major patch of the game, Plains of Eidolon, and an Orokin vault. But other characters will be a new vector of storytelling from the ideas of Steve Sinclair and the writing team of Matt Hawkins and Ryan Cady. My favorite bits thus far have been the expletive substitutes used in #2. It’s always interesting to see how writers choose to navigate language in sci-fi settings.

The art by Studio Hive works well with this, stylizing the lush worlds created by developer Digital Extremes in much the same way as final concept art to help draw you in deeper. Alongside the lettering of Troy Peteri that makes it easy to follow along with who exactly is speaking when, this comic is a well communicated and smooth read.

If you’re a fan of the game or have become one, this comic is definitely one to pick up to dive even deeper into the lore of a game that already has a ton to offer. And hey, the game is free.

Story: Matt Hawkins, Ryan Cady Art: Studio Hive
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0
Recommendation: Keep up with it if you’re invested in Warframe’s lore or want to be

#1 was obtained as a convention exclusive, #2 was provided to Graphic Policy.

Review: Roughneck

When I was in grade school, it was the first time, history class caught my attention. I was not like most students, who gravitated towards classes like Math or gym, as I did enjoy those as well, but history was my first obsession. It was something instilled in me from an early age, as the stories I heard from both sides of my family, always triggered my need to find out more. I even remembered when I read a book about anything history related, I would eventually look up the books that are referenced in the book.

The one part of history, that got me to hate an American President, was the trail of tears.  From what I read, I could not believe an American president would subdue America’s own indigenous peoples to such a grave injustice. As I eventually found out through my research, is that he was not the only one, and America is not the only country to treat their native peoples like second class citizens. The long-term effects of this history, can be seen on their descendants, which is the story Jeff Lemire lays out in Roughneck.

In the town of Pimitamon, a county in the wilderness of Canada, mostly populated by Canada’s indigenous tribes, we meet Derek Ouelette, a former professional hockey player, who is an alcoholic with an anger problem and who feels his best days are behind, as he works as a janitor, for the local ice rink. His sister, Bethy, comes back to town, running away from an abusive boyfriend, who is a drug addict, and whose life doesn’t seem to have shaped the way she thought it was going to. As this brother and sister, deal with their own personal demons, and trying to support each other in some semblance of what they feel a family is, they eventually hide out in a cabin, as her boyfriend is getting closer to where she is. By book’s end, a fight between Derek and Bethy’s boyfriend happens, but Derek is saved by the local police before things get dire.

Overall, a tear-jerking and enthralling book that will have the reader rooting for Derek and Bethy to love each other and love themselves. The story by Lemire is powerful and heartfelt. The art by Lemire is beautiful. Altogether, a book that although the world is unfair, love still finds a way.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jeff Lemire
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation : Buy

Review: WWE #9-11

WWE_009_PRESS_3

Between getting very busy, feeling I couldn’t do a proper review of the Roman Reigns arc from BOOM! Studios’ WWE comic series without the whole story in front of me, and some real world wrestling problems, it’s taken a while to sit down and actually write out these reviews. Roman Reigns is an interesting character within the WWE Universe, reviled through no faults of his own. The man can seem to do no right and the comics reflect this in his arc.

Starting immediately after Dean Ambrose winning the Money in the Bank briefcase in #8, Reign’s arc covers from his loss in the championship match at the 2017 Money in the Bank PPV and Ambrose’s contract cash-in right after through his coping with the loss of his title. The comic paints the World Heavyweight Title as his one big accomplishment amidst a sea of boos that can (and has) drowned out his blaring entrance music on occasion. This isn’t a story that’s finished yet but I’m looking forward to the moment everything wraps as neatly as sports entertainment and comics can manage.

WWE_010_PRESS_6

Yet again, the way writer Dennis Hopeless weaves real life events with the kayfabe of the comics is always a delight, such as Reign’s suspension in #10. He also captures the characters of other WWE Superstars well, like John Cena’s preacher-esque sermon in #11. For this trio of arcs about the former Hounds of Justice, there isn’t a better person to hold the pen.

WWE_011_PRESS_7While I still love the art of illustrator Serg Acuña and think it’s a perfect fit for the action of the WWE comics, the moments where Tim Lattie steps in pull me out of the action with the slight style dissonance. Though Doug Garbark’s color work goes a long way to prevent that, it’s still there for me.

The back matter for these issues are just as strong as the others with stories like the birth of Goldust at WrestleMania XII, Becky Lynch’s wonderful pun-venture, and Randy Orton’s reminder that not everyone takes to the ring the same way.

Story: Dennis Hopless Art: Serg Acuña, Tim Lattie Color: Doug Garbark
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.5
Recommendation: A good entrance into the world of wrestling or a perfect ongoing piece of side media if you’re already a fan.

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 11/18

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.


Ryan C

TheWickedAndTheDivine_33-1The Wicked + The Divine #33 (Image)**  We were promised a big cliffhanger this time out, but that’s not exactly true : we’ve got two or three of ’em, depending on what surprises you. Lots more questions than answers, which is good, and while Kieron Gillen’s “too cool for school” highly-stylized writing style still grates on me at times, Jamie McKelvie’s art is, as ever, absolutely superb. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #35 (DC)** Tom King and Joelle Jones wrap up their little Catwoman-vs.-Talia al Ghul three-parter with probably the best installment of the bunch, featuring some quite nice character moments between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, some dynamic fight sequences, and some stunning art. Nothing too terribly awe-inspiring, by any stretch, but better than what we’re used to from this series. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

The Wild Storm #9 (DC/WildStorm)** Another solid installment from Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt that features a tighter focus around a smaller cast of characters than most previous issues, and the result is a brisk, at times breathtaking read with one of the most superbly-delineated fights you’ll see in any book this year. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ringside #13 (image)** Don’t look now, but Joe Keatinge and Nick Barber seem to be putting some serious effort into this series again after mailing it in for a good six issues or so. Keatinge’s wide-ranging script is beginning to see its multiple plot points begin to converge, and Barber’s art is looking more polished and determined. We’re nowhere near the heights achieved by the first few installments yet, but it’s good to see that things are on an upward trajectory. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

dept h 20.jpg

Christopher

Dept H #20 (Dark Horse)The tension continues to increase as the surviving crew of Dept H still struggle to get to the surface. Like previous issues, this one does reveal a backstory. This time it is Q’s one of the few characters whose backstory hasn’t been heard. The are continues to darker in the present then it is the past, keeping this issue consistent with previous issues. Writer and Artist: Matt Kindt Overall.:8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

The Batman Who Laughs #1 (DC)­­ The Batman who Laughs is a fantastic tie-in to DC Comics’ Metal event that examines the nature of evil through the lens of the classic BMWL_Cv1_r1_ds-1rivalry between Batman and the Joker. Riley Rossmo’s art is seriously messed up, and his layouts mirror the funhouse mirror chaos of the Joker, who is killed by Batman and then infects him with his madness. (Rossmo also successfully executes a jump scare in a comic book.) There have been a bunch of evil Batman Elseworlds stories over the years, but James Tynion and Rossmo go deeper psychologically and show how breaking bad affects Batman’s relationships with his family and Superman. If this was the last Batman/Joker story ever, this would be a good way to go out . Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

The Punisher #218 (Marvel)** Frank Castle and Nick Fury Jr. are a match made in hell in Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova, and Lee Loughridge’s new Punisher series. Rosenberg’s script is fairly humorous as a bureaucracy bound super spy trades wits with a single minded killing machine. Frankly, Fury is using the Punisher to cover his own ass and realizes that maybe letting Frank steal the War Machine armor was a terrible idea. Vilanova’s art is gritty and draws Frank with a stoic demeanor that masks a psychopath underneath in a similar way to Steve Dillon’s work. Some of his fight scenes are crowded and hard to follow, but weird numbering aside, Punisher #218 is a darkly violent, way too many guns toting, international take on the classic vigilante/anti-hero/villain. Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Read.



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: The Wicked + the Divine #33

“Are you a demon or a fucked up girl?” is the question posed by Urdr to Persephone in a pivotal scene in The Wicked + the Divine #33, and in true WicDiv/real life fashion, there is no clear answer to this query. The “Imperial Phase” comes to a close in with a flashback/plot twist, a harrowing conversation that doubles as a character defining moment for both Urdr and Persephone, and let’s just say, one hell of an ending. Visually, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson continue to embrace the shadows and show another Pantheon transformation sequence with an eight bit twist. In his writing, Kieron Gillen does a “Once more we return” and dives into the connection between fans, artists, and fame with a healthy helping of death and sacrifice

Unlike certain formerly-known-as-prestige TV shows, Gillen connects both his twists and character deaths to WicDiv‘s overall themes. David Blake is one of the few non-Pantheon members, who has stuck around/lived throughout the series, and it makes so much sense that he has been Woden all along.  He is also the ultimate fanboy of the Pantheon and willing to do whatever it takes to be connected to that power including his own, honestly super nice and curious son as both a free labor force and a power battery. There are shades of manipulative stage parents, like Joe Jackson, Joe Simpson, and in the sports world, Lavar Ball, in the way that Woden is disappointed in Jon while using him to have the kind of power and fame to be in a very exclusive club that he’s always wanted to be in. Gillen goes deep cut with Norse mythology and makes Jon, Mimir, a god whose head that Odin carries around to see other realms and get wisdom. Mimir’s Well is located by the World Tree Yggdrasil so hence the weird connection between Urdr and Woden.

The fan/artist/power conflict also extends to Persephone whose conversation with Urdr while Jon is basically hanging is the heart of WicDiv #33. Persephone has been all action, recklessness, and rebellion in year 3 of WicDiv and in some ways is trying to forcibly be the Destroyer. But she’s really wracked with guilt about her family’s death, which she blames on her desire to get anything to be in the Pantheon. Jamie McKelvie’s talents as an artist of empathy and character acting comes in handy during this sequence. He depicts Persephone from the side holding her knees as she tries to process what has happened to her during the past few arcs and uses a lot of close-ups in subsequent panels. McKelvie’s take on Urdr has a lot of anxiety as she swings from being afraid of the possibly Destroyer, Persephone and trying to be a good friend to the young fangirl, Laura. This is WicDiv so their conversation doesn’t end in hugs and reunions, but with an aphorism type line from Urdr and a little side head turn from Persephone. It’s a real of point of no return moment when Urdr calls her Persephone and not Laura, which results in tears and a tense beat panel.

In the context of the whole series, Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson codify sacrifice again as a big theme of WicDiv. Instead of the old preying on the young like Ananke killing Luci, Inanna, and Tara in previous issues or more recently, Woden completely draining Dionysus: a young person is the one making the sacrifices. Minerva has been through some shit throughout “Rising Action” and “Imperial Phase”, and her new role as the head removing Ananke is sad, yet wonderful payoff for her character as she looks to take a more active role in the series going into its fourth year. She understands the idea of “necessity” in warding off the Great Darkness even if that means the death of someone close to her. But it is incredibly sad to see the one, real innocent member of the Pantheon be corrupted like this.

In the spirit of Urdr, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson get to the truth about who Woden is and the Great Darkness in WicDiv #33 using the shadows and claustrophobic spaces of Valhalla with splashes of eight bit menace to provide an emotionally draining reading experience. There are a decent amount of cards still on the table, but the chess board has turned into a pit of hot lava lorded over by an entitled abusive fanboy as Gillen and McKelvie cross the proverbial Rubicon and make Woden the literal patriarchy.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 9.2 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.3  Recommendation: Buy 

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Vietnamerica

Being a second generation American, is both an interesting and sometimes ostracizing place to be. There are universal to all families, no matter, the culture, or language barriers.  Then are unique to your own culture, that may seem odd or interesting in a tourist way, to outsiders. This becomes even more confusing, if you ever get to go back to places where your parents are from.

I was extremely fortunate to have grown up in two different cultures as well as to live in America, which has its own cultural idiosyncrasies.  I was also able to go to both countries, which is as far apart on the map as in they are in cultural differences, but despite this, my parents still fell in love. So when, I went back, I was not necessarily looked as their countryman, but as an American, which is hilarious and confusing. This what I identified with in GB Tran’s Vietnamerica, his family’s history intertwined with his own self-discovery.

We Meet GB and his parents, on a plane trip back to Vietnam, as his grandparents on both sides of the family pass away. As his mother tells him part of the family history, which could be told to total strangers, it is what is painful and what makes his parents cringe, is what interests him. As he starts to visit the places where his family grew up, he stats learning parts of his parents’ past, especially his father would rather not talk about. By book’s end, GB gets a better understanding of his parents and the rest of his family, and suddenly his own struggles seem somewhat minuscule to theirs.

Overall, a moving portrait of a family who will do anything and everything for each other. The story by Tran is another fine addition in what it is to be second generation Asian American, right alongside The Namesake and The Joy Luck Club. The art by Tran is as affecting as the stories told in it, as he the way he draws his family, the reader feels the love he has for them. Altogether, a memoir that will take you on a journey, which will  make you understand the true meaning of  family secrets and the love of a family.

Story: GB Tran Art: GB Tran
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Lizard Men #1

Many movies over the years have taken swipes at people in power, either in dramas or comedies.  They are even more ridiculous, when they’re comedies, as they rarely pull no punches. Who can forget Jack Nicholson’s superb performance as President Jack Dale in Mars Attacks. Then there is Kevin James portrayal as both a relatable but strong president in Pixels.

There is Kevin Kline’s excellent work as doppelganger to an actual president alongside Sigourney Weaver in Dave. Then there is my favorite movie, which draw some real-life parallels to some existing oligarchies, Moon Over Parador, starring Richard Dreyfuss and immortal Raul Julia, where Dreyfuss occupies a similar doppelganger situation but is humorously controlled by Julia’s iron-fisted chief of staff. The line between reality and these films, are becoming ever increasingly slimmer, as the current political climate looks more like a schoolyard.  This is why the debut issue of Lizard Men, was almost too real to read, as certain reactions of the protagonist reminded so much of a certain orange colored glutton.

We are introduced to Dylan Zamani, a washed up former rock star, who seems to be always on the right side of luck.   As he becomes the Prime Minster of Great Britain, a race he could not believe that he would have won. As he takes office, he soon realizes that many of things that comes with the new job, are not what they seem. By the end of the issue, the power he thought came with the job, comes from somewhere more insidious.

Overall, a excellent first installment which combines, melodrama, with comedy and science fiction, into something highly enjoyable. The story by Steven Horry is hilarious and surreal. The art by the Catia Fantini, Chiara Bonacini, and Ken Reynolds is visceral, smooth and gorgeous. Altogether, a good debut for a miniseries, which will make you wonder, can any of this be real?

Story: Steven Horry Art: Catia Fantini, Chiara Bonacini, Ken Reynolds
Story: 9.0 Art: 9 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Anne Bonnie #2

I can say that when it comes to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, II have a love/ hate relationship with them. I loved the first movie, and my disdain with the series increased with every movie since. Most filmgoers love these movies simply, because of Johnny Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow. Then, there is the chemistry between Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley, who don’t all appear in all the movies, but they make for some memorable scenes.

I initially watched the movies because of the Disney World attraction, it was my favorite, every time me and my family would go there. Even within the attraction, there was magical elements to the ride, as you were transported to a world where anything can happen. The one thing that the movies did well, was the melding the supernatural elements with the many legends associated with seafaring. In the second issue of Anne Bonnie, our heroine, finds out exactly how supernatural the Crimson Dawn really is.

We catch up with Ariana, as the Crimson Dawn is in a firefight with the Royal Navy, out maneuvering the two ships, leaving the naval vessels in ruins. She eventually pulls in to a port, which is an evil plot is unfurling, and the Crimson Dawn’s arrival may be the difference. Ariana, also recruits her first crew member, a runaway slave. By issue’s end, an old friend shows up, and her world is about to get a little more complicated.

Overall, an excellent installment to a series that opens this world to all walks of life, as this book shows what inclusivity is. The story by Tim Yates is pure fun. The art by Tim Yates and Tony Vassallo feels like an animated feature. Altogether, an issue that never lets off that gas, making this a book that is all adventure.

Story: Tim Yates Art: Tim Yates and Tony Vassallo
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

« Older Entries