Category Archives: Reviews

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/22

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.


Logan

X-Men #6 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Matteo Buffagni build off the Orchis space mission plot thread from House of X to tell a Mystique-centric story, show that Orchis is still a threat, and make Krakoa even a more morally ambiguous place. Basically, Xavier and Magneto have made Mystique a one woman Suicide Squad, who spies on Orchis and their new technology for the hope of getting her wife, Destiny back. Buffagni is a wonderful artist choice for this issue with all of its tech floating around, and he uses skinny panels to nail the emotional beats between Mystique, Xavier, and Magneto as they continue to manipulate her. But she has sort of an ace up her sleeve that could be the downfall of Krakoa as Hickman brings back the multiple timelines in this issue.Finally, X-Men #6 is another example of Hickman forsaking the multi-issue arcs of modern, mainstream comics for single issue stories that help convey the larger tapestry of life on Krakoa. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

New Mutants #7 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis wrap up the old school New Mutants in space arc in an experimental and occasionally abrupt fashion. Hickman definitely is having a ball writing the relationship between Sunspot and Cannonball and opens the issue with Sunspot breaking the fourth wall to complain about how the series has been broken up. Then, because they ran out of room or something, the climactic fight scene is decided by you, the reader, rolling D6’s. (In my case, the Shi’ar Imperial Guard won, and Mentor was the last one standing.) The intergalactic politics thing ends up just being a joke and an excuse for Cannonball and Sunspot to hang out more and banter. However, Rod Reis’ art and colors continue to be lush and emotive, perfect for the space-scapes and scenes of conflict between the New Mutants and Guard. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Wolverine #1 (Marvel)– Logan returns to solo comics is suitably guilt-ridden, claw-slashing, and bloody fashion in a pair of stories penned by Benjamin Percy and drawn by Adam Kubert and Viktor Bogdanovic. Both are crafted around his role as Krakoa’s last line of defense, the man of the wall, who will do whatever it takes to keep mutants safe. He might open the comic playing hide and seek with mutant children in a brightly colored sequence, but he probably has more in common with Omega Red in the 2nd story or the visions of his actions in the Old Man Logan comic in the first one. The 1st story basically throws Wolverine into a Narcos-like situation where he’s trying to figure out who is using the Krakoan flowers to whip up a human cult that wants to literally drink mutant blood. It’s solid, but the second story featuring vampires, the Paris catacombs, and the story of Catholic saints is much more exciting and pure pulp goodness. Percy and Bogdanovic work in tandem knowing when to cut between panels and when to open up and let Logan or Omega Red cut loose. The Vampire Nation is a powerful threat for Krakoa as well as its twisted mirror. Finally, the real highlight of this excellent, yet overpriced comic is Magneto using the CIA as an example of why Wolverine, and by extension, Krakoa, will never have the moral high ground. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #8 (Marvel)– This is the big reaction issue to the death of Kate Pryde with some Sebastian Shaw maneuvering in the background. Most of the comic is Gerry Duggan and Stefano Caselli turning Iceman loose as he’s less Northstar and more Midnighter in the violence spectrum of queer characters because of his friendship with Kate. Caselli brings the big screen, elemental action showing the effects of Bobby’s power before showing his emotional reaction to Kate’s death. It’s cathartic and bookends nicely with Storm and Emma Frost’s interactions as this issue really drives home how much Kate meant to the X-Men and her Marauder teammates. Throughout the series, Duggan and Caselli have been able to pull off these kind of *water cooler* moments in Marauders, and this issue is no exception. Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

 Bang! #1 (Dark Horse)– The new comic from Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres is a spy thriller that starts as an overt deconstruction of James Bond and then becomes much more metafictional. Think “fiction suits” from the works of Grant Morrison. Bang #1 is that fan theory that James Bond isn’t one man, but a codename given to different men (For now) written larger than life. Wilfredo Torres’ art is smooth and perfectly fit for both sleek action, pop culture/pulp homages, and something a little more mindbending. He uses grids for the hand to hand combat and splash pages for the big reveal. Nayoung Kim keeps the colors reasonably flat because this is pop reality, not reality. Bang! has an interesting concept and examines the misogyny and imperialism of pulp paperbacks while also indulging in its best tropes. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

 Valkyrie: Jane Foster #8 (Marvel)– Norwegian writer Torunn Gronbekk joins Jason Aaron and Cafu on the issue of Valkyrie: Jane Foster, and they tell a middling, disaster movie-esque, guest star heavy story of Valkyrie, the Avengers, and Thor against the forces of anti-life that were guarded by the All-Father and are now released. The best part of this comic is the two pages that Jane and her friend Lisa get to chat and talk about their lives until the ground opens up. I honestly don’t blame Gronbekk choosing the biggest toys in the box to play with in her first Marvel outing, but with the exception of the aforementioned two pages and the end of the comic, it feels more like an Avengers comic than a Valkyrie one. Also, this issue’s villain is a little bit of a retread of the last arc’s, but with more of a connection to Norse mythology. However, Cafu has a nice photorealistic style that isn’t stiff and makes for pleasant reading. Overall: 5.8 Verdict: Pass


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: Day of Judgement #5

Day of Judgement #5

For fans of superhero movies, the films are extensions of the heroes we grew up reading. I never in a million years would believe I would see a faithful adaptation of any of our heroes. Tim Burton’s Batman was iconic and drew from the source material but also served the Hollywood machine. Then there was the film version of Daredevil, which felt both sincere and yet struggled to find that happy medium.

The closest we came became before the MCU was the film adaptation of Watchmen, which was very faithful and gave audiences a page by page recreation of the book. So when the Avengers movies introduced the Infinity Gauntlet saga, it gave fans a rare element in these movies until then, sentiment. Fans across the world felt the snap of Thanos when many of our favorite heroes were gone. In the fifth issue of Day Of Judgment, our heroes face their final battle for control of the Spectre.

We find Neron facing off Superman and the Sentinels of Magic, as his powers are so immense it temporarily stops Superman. We also find Hal Jordan pleading the case to embody the Spectre, as his past sins give him cause. Asmodel grants him the power of the Spectre, where he defeats and cages Neron to face his family. Neron would have his title stripped and be imprisoned forever by Asmodel. By story’s end, the city has been brought back by Hal, as he quietly acclimates to his new role.

Overall, an issue that shows why so many people still love this story. The story by Geoff Johns is perceptive and electrifying. The art by the creative team is extraordinary. Altogether, a final chapter that gives a sentimental tribute to the hero’s journey of Hal Jordan.

Story: Geoff Johns
Art: Comicraft, Matthew Dow Smith, James Sinclair,
and Steve Mitchell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: LOUD

Loud

What people usually call ‘silent comics’ is often entirely the opposite. The absence of words, of text, does not automatically rob a comic of sound. In fact, it can bring other sounds to the forefront, making it even louder in the process. María Llovet’s LOUD is a perfect example of this, a comic that attacks every sense imaginable with minimal text but with all the sound it can muster.

LOUD plays out like a kind of living anthology of stories all taking place inside a music bar/strip club. These stories range from full erotica to horror, from romance to crime. One story sees two lovers flirting around the fact neither has forgotten their last sexual encounter from two years previous while another story looks at a potential hit job on a man with a seriously sinful sexual history. It even goes as far as to dabble in the supernatural to explore violence between certain guests that prefer blood over alcohol as their preferred beverage. And that’s on top of some of the other stories, which are driven by erotic pure erotic energy and raw emotion.

What’s interesting about the stories is that they’re not divided by chapter breaks, nor do we get individual story titles. Everything feels like it’s happening simultaneously, and it unfolds seamlessly. What does give each story its uniqueness is its ‘sound’ design.

Loud

Stories that take place in the strip club part of the bar are flooded with onomatopoeias sounding out musical beats and their accompanying dance moves. Whenever we see characters escaping into other parts of the bar looking to satiate their lust, for instance, we can expect them to create their own sounds. It’s expertly synchronized and well-orchestrated.

Llovet’s art style is perfectly suited for this type of story. Her characters, environments, and sound effects all feel dream-like in parts, hallucinatory in others. Colors bleed into each other, forcing the reader to be a more active participant in their interpretation of them. Action sequences, dance sequences, and sex scenes are all very lively and wonderfully kinetic. You really have no choice but to see it all in motion. It’s an impressive feat.

As stated earlier, the comic isn’t entirely textless. There are some dialogue exchanges but they never take up more than two or three panels. What’s there is carefully selected and minimal. Character development and story progression come less from this and more from the characters’ bodies themselves. Llovet showcases a masterful approach to body language, and it’s not just the face or the upper body or even the hand gestures. Each character is a story unto itself and it takes all their individual parts to move the narrative forward.

LOUD is a statement on visual storytelling, both in terms of erotica and on sound in comics. Few wordless comics manage to tell their stories with such intensity. It genuinely feels like Llovet created her own imaginary soundtrack for the book. There’s nothing quite like it out there. It quite literally demands to be seen and heard.

Story: María Llovet Art: María Llovet
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy and display!

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Going to the Chapel TPB

Going to the Chapel TPB

Going to the Chapel is the type of comic that when you finish, you immediately dream of it being on the big screen. It’s the type of story that’s a hell of a wild ride. Writer David Pepose delivers a story that’s Tarantino in nature with twists and turns that are off the wall on a Looney Tunes sort of way.

Going to the Chapel focuses on a wedding that’s broken up by a robbery that goes wrong. Of course, there’s more to it than that and that’s part of the fun. Over the four issues, the situation gets more out of hand as the police surround the church and the guests decide they’ve had enough. A wedding gone wrong is an understatement as to the experience.

Pepose delivers winks and nods throughout the series making sure the story never gets too serious. With some solid banter and jokes throughout, the comic will put a smile on your face. There’s absurdity throughout and so much coming out of the blue. It catches you off guard and hits the right notes. It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Gavin Guidry nails it on the art. With colors by Liz Kramer and lettering by Ariana Maher and Colin Bell the art ups the humor of the situation. The style and art nail the moments and adds to the absurdity. Looks on faces and the body language is at times is all it takes. The situation and the visuals combine to get you to laugh. It’s the small details that really help and deliver the jokes. Pepose’s writing is solid but the art is what makes the pacing of some of the dialogue delivery. Everything is just so over the top it’s hard to not have fun and just smile at the chaos.

Going to the Chapel is a mashup between Kevin Smith and Tarantino and the result is so much entertainment. I often joke that it seems like very comic is now optioned and in this case, I want this story to be. It’s a great comic and would be a fantastic fun film. If you like the heist gone wrong genre, this is a must get. If you just like a damn good comic, you can’t go wrong with this.

Story: David Pepose Art: Gavin Guidry
Color: Liz Kramer Letterer: Ariana Maher, Colin Bell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Action Lab provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Velocity

The Spider-Man video game saga continues! Why does Spider-Man’s Velocity Suit exist? Find out in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Velocity! Spider-Man must deal with a villain and a mystery as the Gamerverse story continues!

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum
Art: Emilion Laiso
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering: Travis Lanham

Get your copy in comic shops now and bookstores on March 3! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Review: Godkillers #1

Godkillers #1

I wasn’t expecting to read Godkillers #1 until the preview text caught my eye. The concept sounded interesting so I decided to give it a read.

Abdul Alhazred is an Arab-American folklore professor turned soldier whose fear of death stems from uncertainty about the existence of an afterlife. He joins The Godkillers, a special forces unit tasked with fighting insurgents who use mythological creatures as weapons of mass destruction. Now that he knows the supernatural exists, he’ll have to decide which is worse—death or the nightmarish monsters he thought were mere legends.

Now in all honesty Godkillers #1 wasn’t a book I enjoyed all that much. Th that’s largely because I’m not exactly a fan of the setting. But, I understand why the story has to be framed the way it is. I wanted to like this book, and some aspects I genuinely enjoyed, but it’s just not a comic for me. It’s not a comic I’d typically pick up or review. I am trying to keep that in mind as I write this review.

Because I want to be as fair to the book as I can be, I’m going to break with a typical review style and just give you a set of bullet points.

Pros

  • The art is gritty, dark and moody when it needs to be. It never quite lets you get comfortable, which fits the story’s style very well.
  • Abdul Alhazred feels like a fully fleshed-out character who we’re only seeing glimpses of. His narration bubbles really flesh out his thoughts on the world. The gradual reveal of his motivations makes me want to learn more about the character. His lack of understanding of the events coincides nicely with the lack of information given in the book itself. You really feel like you’re in this with him.

Cons

  • Without having read the preview text I probably wouldn’t have known what the hell was going on in the comic.
  • The art made it a little difficult at times to decipher what was going on on the page. The caveat here is that for some reason the review PDF didn’t scroll as well as others which also played a part in my difficulty in reading the book.
  • There’s a lot of vagueness as to the events of the book, which is mostly a good thing until you realize that without the preview text you’d have been totally lost.

Conclusion
Godkillers #1 really wasn’t my cup of tea. At the same time, I know that just because it didn’t resonate with me doesn’t mean it’s a bad comic. The opposite is also true sometimes, as well. It just means it didn’t strike a chord. I can still appreciate the art, and the idea behind the story without being unfairly harsh to the comic. Objectively, there isn’t anything bad about the book as far as I can tell, and I hope that if you read it then you’re going to enjoy it more than I did. I won’t be scoring the story because I don’t think I can do it objectively or fairly.

If nothing else, I think you need to read this book.

Story: Mark Sable Artist: Maan House
Colorist: Hernan Cabrera Letterer: Thomas Mauer

Story: (N/A) Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Aftershock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy #2

Guardians of the Galaxy #2

Things wrap up quick in Guardians of the Galaxy #2. In what could have been a drawn-out four or five-issue arc, instead, we get things shaken up after just two. And wow, things are shaken up.

Writer Al Ewing keeps things moving at a frenetic pace. This rag-tag version of the Guardians of the Galaxy are up against the gods of Olympus. Things aren’t looking good. They’re outnumbered and outclassed and taking heavy losses. But, these are the Guardians of the Galaxy and that’s what they’re generally up against.

What Ewing delivers though is heart. There’s some events in the comic that are sure to be fake outs. But, there’s emotion on multiple levels. There’s the desperation of the team. There’s the hurt of the battle. Finally, there’s the loss of a team member. Guardians of the Galaxy #2 has a flair for the dramatic and pulls it all off with highs and lows.

The art by Juann Cabal helps a lot. With color by Federico Blee and lettering by Cory Petit the art delivers some of that emotion. There’s shocking horror moments delivered just through visiuals. But, it’s how each character acts and what’s on their faces that really delivers the punches to the gut. Beyond that, there’s some beautiful art with one particular page being absolutely beautiful and had me lingering to take it in.

Guardians of the Galaxy #2 wraps up a quick story arc. In those two issues it delivers a rollercoaster ride of a story. There’s some shocking moments and a true feeling of desperation throughout. It captures that underdog essence that makes Guardians of the Galaxy a great team and series.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Juann Cabal
Color: Federico Blee Letterer: Cory Petit
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation:
Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Visitor #3

The Visitor #3

The Visitor’s origin revealed in The Visitor #3!?

As the unkillable assassin continues hunting his targets, the fate of the future begins to come into focus.

I really wanted to love The Visitor #3 because the first two issues were fun reads. This is as well, but less so than the first. If I’m honest, the plot feels like it’s dragging its feel here; we had a few pages revealing some backstory for the Visitor, and aside from the scenes showing what the Visitor is capable of, the rest seems a rehash of most of the previous conversations had between the same characters that effectively boils down to “we’re so smart doing this [unrevealed] thing right under their noses! We have to stay here [inexplicably] so protect us!”

I’m ready to know a little more about anything and everything within this story. There’s more treading water than furthering the plot beyond what we’ve already seen in the past two issues.

The Visitor #3 is written by Paul Levitz and features artist MJ Kim, colorist Ulises Arreola, and letterer Simon Bowland. I previously wrote that “[the comic] follows the titular character as he’s trying to eliminate something that the Japanese scientists he’s hunting are working on and the UN Security agent Dauber assigned to protect them. Levitz keeps things entirely believable when the scientists keep frustrating Dauber’s efforts to keep them safe by insisting on their secrecy as they all underestimate the Visitor.” It’s still true. I’m leaving it here because I don’t need to update the summary from the second to the third issue.

I still enjoyed the issue. The backstory to the Visitor was certainly interesting. The art of Kim with Arreola’s coloring is for the most part very solid. I say for the most part because there were hiccups that aren’t worth highlighting. The way the pair capture the fluidity of the Visitor’s movements amidst the flying bullets seems effortless. The art really stands out when you notice how the other characters seem to struggle to catch the Visitor. It’s very much showing the excellence by focusing on the mundane.

Despite my misgivings about the shallowness of the plot, this was still a very enjoyable book. I’d be lying if I said The Visitor #3 is a bad comic. It’s just not as good as the first two issues in the series. Hopefully, it’s the weakest of the series, because if this is as bad as The Visitor gets then I’d consider this a solid miniseries that’s well worth picking up.

Needless to say, where the plot falls a little in The Visitor #3 the comic is still a strong entry in the series. The art remains top notch. There’s enough here that you won’t feel robbed when it comes to the plot progression. It just feels like the comic is longer than it needs to be.

Story: Paul Levitz Art: MJ Kim
Color: Diego Rodriguez Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.1 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: On the Stump #1

On the Stump #1

On the Stump #1 kicks off a wild first issue and world. Politics has evolved from the shit-show we have no to an even wilder reality. Politicians no longer debate issues with speeches. Legislation no longer gets up and down votes. Decisions are now decided in the ring with their fists. And it’s a spectator sport one can bet one. It’s just as corrupt as the current reality though.

Written by Chuck Brown, the comic is a frenetic introduction that takes the issues of today and amplifies them past 11.

The comic is brutal in every way taking things in an almost comedic level. Faces are caved in. Eyes pop out. People get stabbed as if nothing is odd about it. On the Stump #1 is almost at parody level it takes things so far.

But, Brown also seems to have something to say. The comic underneath the surface seems to address real-world issues plaguing us today. There’s a wink and nod towards the reality television place we’ve wound up at. The corruption is clear and acknowledged. How politicians are screwing the masses is there as well. There’s a very deft commentary just below the punching.

The art is provided by Prenzy with lettering by Clayton Cowles. The art style adds a comedic style about it. While Brown’s story is to the extreme, the visuals take it to a whole other level. The gore and brutal nature is gratuitous. But, it’s so over the top, it’s hard to not laugh at the absurdity of it all.

On the Stump #1 is over the top insanity. The concept is so out there and a hell of a lot of fun. It pokes fun at the current political climate while also recognizing where we’re at as a society. It’s a funhouse mirror reflection of our reality. It’s also a debut we’re casting a ballot for.

Story: Chuck Brown Art: Prenzy Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bloodshot #0

Bloodshot #0

Artist Mac Laming unleashes eye-popping artwork as the truth behind Bloodshot’s mission is revealed in Bloodshot #0!

After reading Bloodshot #0 part of me wondered why the comic hadn’t been released in sequence. This comic bridges the gap between the end of Harbinger Wars II and the beginning of the current Bloodshot series. It addresses how the events of Harbinger II and how he dealt with what he was forced to do.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is not well.

The comic opens with Bloodshot in hiding. He’s trying to disappear and avoid the killing machine he once was, working on a pipeline in northwestern Siberia. Writer Tim Seeley takes a step back from the frenetic pace he’s been using in the six issues so far. He really delves into the psyche of a man who has been used and abused by friends and enemies alike.

Not only does Seeley explore Bloodshot’s broken soul, but he also shows us how he ends up doing what he’s doing at the beginning of Bloodshot #1. There’s a lot of story in this issue. It still doesn’t feel like you’re trying to fit seventeen eggs into a twelve pack.

Under Tim Seeley’s pen, Bloodshot has been one of the more consistent series that Valiant is currently publishing. It’s often a fast-paced action comic with enough hidden depths in each issue to stop it from being overly shallow. With the zero issue, Seeley has shown what he can do with the character when he slows the pace down. And it makes me hopeful that we’ll get more moments like this in the future.

Seeley is joined by artist Marc Laming who handles the art for the first time this series, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe. Laming’s style acts as a visual bridge between Doug Braithwaite’s art at the end of Bloodshot Salvation and Brett Booth’s take on the character in the latest volume. The cold desolation of the comic’s setting is evident in the shades of blue and grey used when the scenes take place outside.

There’s a great full-page around the middle of the comic that emphasizes Bloodshot’s view of himself; a weapon to be used.

But who gets to use the weapon?

The comic does a great job of asking the question and offering an answer that we’ve been reading for the past six issues.

Bloodshot #0 is probably the best comic in the series so far. It is successful as a bridge between stories, as a single issue standalone story and as an introduction to Bloodshot #1 and the character as well. All in all, that’s a home run for the zero issue, which is far more than I expected from an issue which has often been little more than a stop-gap between the numbered issues.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Andrew Laming
Ink: Adelso Corona Color: Andrew Dalhouse Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

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