Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Join the Future #5

Clementine is out for revenge, will she get the justice she seeks? Join the Future #5 wraps up the sci-fi western series.

Story: Zack Kaplan
Art: Piotr Kowalski
Color: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Get your copy now! 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.

Kindle
comiXology
Zeus Comics

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Review: Dead Day #3

Dead Day has been fantastic with intriguing worldbuilding and the ability to pack so much into each issue. Dead Day #3 ups the action while continuing to deliver more about the holiday.

Story: Ryan Parrot
Art: Evgeniy Bornyakov
Color: Juancho!
Letterer: Charles Pritchett

Get your copy now! 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.

Kindle
comiXology
Zeus Comics

AfterShock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy 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: Winterman Comics #1

Winterman Comics

Who doesn’t like to read about new heroes, people that capture our imagination?As most heroes are simply extensions of their creators. As their imaginations lead them to some fun places. Though we have enjoyed the many different created universes throughout comics, it is alarming, the marginalization of POC creators.

The mere absence of the many creators who could have crafted worlds we would have enjoyed for years is simply sad. Even the most well known Black comic book character right now, Black Panther, was created by 2 white creators.  As we never saw the mainstream vision of Black heroes by black creators until 1993, when Milestone Comics was founded. Geoff Thorne unleashes a new universe of heroes starting with a fierce water-friendly hero in the first chapter to his book, Winterman Comics.

We are taken to a place called Other Country, where our hero is looking for some R&R. We find her in her natural habitat and spending time with old acquaintances. She finds out that her once peaceful home has come under attack from one of her neighbors forcing her into action and a search for vengeance.

Overall, a great first issue that shows heroes are also needed at home. The story by Thorne is mesmeric. The art by Thorne is graceful. Altogether, a story that boils with excitement.

Story: Geoff Thorne Art: Geoff Thorne
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall:9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn #1

The Wrath and The Dawn

When it comes to agency and the role of women during any time of history it is usually largely absent. It’s illustrated in the epic Game Of Thrones. The show has many faults in its portrayal of certain characters and largely of certain archetypes. Examples are the women and people of color, where one was mostly at a disadvantage and the other mostly nonexistent.

Of the two, the women within the show had a mixed bag of results of whether they gained agency or suffered because due to the lack of it. We saw Daenerys rise because men usually misunderstood her or underestimated her, where she rose to power unequivocally. We also saw how the sand Snakes meet their demise because of their lack of agency. In a beautiful graphic adaptation of Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and The Dawn, we meet another female protagonist, who looks to end another tyrant’s rule of terror.

We meet General Al Khoury, as he ensures the killing of another bride, of the Caliph. As we soon find out that the Caliph, Khalid, is cursed for the kill 100 hundred women for the one whom he took unjustly.  We also meet Shahrzad, a young lady who is the first to volunteer to be one of these brides, who is getting prepped to meet Khalid. Her father visits her for what might be the last time they see each other, he tries to impart something memorable of their home, but it soon dissipates, leaving to make one last plea to her to withdraw her betrothal. By issue’s end, we find out about Shahrzad’s reason for volunteering as she looks to end Khalid’s killings.

Overall, a wonderful heroine who does not despair and does not waver. The story by Ahdieh is engaging. The art by SilvesterVitale is breathtaking. Altogether, a harrowing tale of the sheer power of one woman’s fury.

Story: Renée Ahdieh Art:SilvesterVitale
Story: 10 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 9/19

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Iron Man #1 (Marvel)– Color me interested in an Iron Man comic for the first time since Matt Fraction left the title. Christopher Cantwell and Cafu craft a comic that is both vintage and forward-thinking with Tony Stark leaving the Stark Unlimited, selling his penthouse, moving to New York, and street racing and fighting Silver Age villains with Hellcat in tow. Cantwell cleverly uses social media as a snarky Greek chorus to dog all of Tony’s moves in this comic as he tries to be humble and reinvent himself, but ends up falling back on his old tricks. With the help of Hellcat’s snark and take no bullshit attitude, Cantwell pushes back on Tony’s privilege and usually way of doing things. We’ll see if he ends up breaking the mold with his run. Finally, Cafu’s visuals makes everything look sleek and old school like a classic car show and makes Alex Ross’ redesign/throwback design look gorgeous in action. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy.

Overwatch-Tracer: London Calling #1 (Dark Horse)– I’ve played Overwatch once, but this digital comic from writer Mariko Tamaki and artists Babs Tarr, Heather Danforth, and Hunter Clark is more punk rock than video game with a simple, yet charming tale of human/robot conflict. With Overwatch disbanded, Tracer is getting restless stopping petty crime in England having noodles with her girlfriend. However, Tamaki lobs an obstacle in the forms of the Omnics, who are in conflict with humanity, but they both like old punk bands? Tarr’s art brings maximum cuteness for the smooching and finding common ground in tunes while Clark sets up her nicely for the zippy fast action scenes that are capture the speed of the multiplayer video game. But more cartooning. Tracer London Calling isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a charming licensed comic with top-notch visuals. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Excalibur #12 (Marvel)– Tini Howard does some big moves on the ol’ plot board, and Marcus To gets to draw better versions of characters envisioned by Rob Liefeld, namely, the Externals in this issue of Excalibur. Most of the focus is on Apocalypse and his coven and the sacrifices they make while Rogue and Gambit have to deal with the consequences. Betsy Braddock is also out here trying to prove that she is the real Captain Britain to Saturnyne, and yes, Excalibur #12 has a lot of plots. But mostly it’s nice to see Apocalypse go back to his own ways, albeit, in a more magical/paving the way for a big crossover event way. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Brett

Batman #99 (DC Comics) – The best issue of the “Joker War” so far as Batman finally assembles his crew to take things on. It’s a bit slow as far as action but it’s that key moment when Batman gets his head out of his ass building off last issues “get up Rock” moment. It’s a piece of the bigger puzzle but a vast improvement on an event that has been relatively underwhelming. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Hellions #4 (Marvel) – While it’s gotten away from the concept of restorative justice, this is still one of my favorite two X-books right now. The series has nailed a nice action/horror vibe to it but also underneath the action there’s some great concepts of society’s abuse of “criminals” and their being exploited. It’s surface might be more of the classic X-Men but it also has the heart of exploring real world issues underneath the kick-ass visuals and fun dialogue. Overall Rating: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy

Seven Secrets #2 (BOOM! Studios) -The second issue of the series is an interesting one as it kind of feels like a first issue. While the debut focused on Caspar’s parents, this issue now shifts things to Caspar. It’s a very different start of a comic and very unexpected as you’d expect the second issue to really pick up from the action of the first issue. The playing with that expectation makes this an intriguing series just for that but it’s a good story, interesting characters and world, and great art… all of that helps too. Overall Rating: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Slaughterhouse-Five (BOOM! Studios/Archaia) – I’m not much of a prose reader by Kurt Vonnegut is a writer who I have read multiple of his books and enjoyed them all. Sadly, it’s been over 20 years since I’ve done that… so I don’t remember this one at all beyond the war and time travel. How it compares to the classic book, I couldn’t say, but I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation which is full of the humor I remember and the interesting anti-war message. Add is some great visuals which adds to the laughs, it’s a solid read no matter how close they got to the original material. Overall Rating: 8.25 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: Haxor #1

Haxor

Isaac Asimov is one of the greatest architects of science fiction and his influence has grown exponentially. AS what he dreamt almost a century ago now, is so relevant today that you must be blind not draw the comparisons. His visions of the future are truly the present we live in now, and in some ways, our reality is much grimmer than he ever imagined. Where he saw robots go, the world saw it go further.

As the most recent in memory adaptation of his work, I, Robot, revisited some of those classic tropes, which only Asimov could evoke so hauntingly. Will Smith’s character represented the viewer, it showed how we struggle with technology, especially when we benefit from it. As it can be true that sometimes too much technology is too much. In Walter Ostlie’s excellent Haxor, we find a protagonist dealing with this very dilemma.

We meet our protagonist, Iso, who is being awakened by an alarm clock, which will not go off no matter what she does. As she lives in Shi-Bu City, where its inhabitants play games for a living, and where one corporation owns the game and practically all Shi Bu’s inhabitants. We also meet Wire, a grizzled veteran gamer whose disdain for the game and the corporation has made him cynical and reckless. By the issue’s end, Iso enters the game, where something already doesn’t seem right.

Overall, an interesting introduction to a world not so distant from ours, with a brand new protagonist whom we can cheer for. The story by Walter Ostlie is fun and engaging. The art by Ostlie is gorgeous. Altogether, a story that introduces a universe both familiar and still nascent.

Story: Walter Ostlie Art: Walter Ostlie
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Hotell #4

HOTELL #4

There is a reason why everyone who has watched any of Alfred Hitchcock’s films calls him the master of suspense. As his deft use of tension and silence allowed the one thing viewers usually hope for, relief. As you unconsciously hope the good guys win and the evil incarnate perishes. This is where Hitchcock both excels and cruelly tricks the viewer, as this si where he usually twists the knife.

As the terror that usually we spend the whole film waiting, for is equally unanticipated and worse than what the viewer expected.  Take, for example, Psycho, where we find out who is the villain in the film, as they are both tragic and inexorably malevolent. As the materialization of said sinister force, makes the payoff, that much more rewarding.  In the final issue of Hotell, the Pierrot Courts finally have their reckoning.

We are taken back for the last time, to the Pierre Courts Hotel, where the front desk clerk, as our narrator, feels the agitation and knows we are asking to leave, from the frights that lie within. We meet David, a man traveling with a priest, Father Villalobos, who just kidnapped his son, Cody, believing he was been possessed by a dark spirit, prompting David to commit an exorcism. Before long, the spirit overtakes him, destroying the hotel and a long-dead secret which leads the spirit to the hotel in the first place, leaving the place overtaken by the fire. By the story’s end, every occupant gets their comeuppance, in the most unsettling ways.

Overall, a more than satisfying conclusion to a collection of stories that has redefined nightmare fuel. The story by John Lees is shocking. The art by the creative team is spectacular. Altogether, a story that more than induces fear, it remixes it for the modern era.

Story: John Lees Art: Dalibor Talajic, Lee Loughridge, and Karen Andrews
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Slaughterhouse-Five OGN

Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five is one of my favorite books, and is hands down my favorite of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels. I happened upon it in college, with no prior knowledge of its content and no awareness of who Vonnegut was. Something about the book cover just drew me to the novel. I ended up missing class the next day because I stayed up all night reading it. Then once I’d finished, I turned right around and read it again. I may not have learned anything in class the day after buying the book, but Slaughterhouse-5 taught me a lot about what good fiction can deliver to the reader.

Published by Archaia, a division of Boom! Entertainment, Slaughterhouse-Five has now been adapted into an original graphic novel. Vonnegut’s classic anti-war allegory disguised as science-fiction is presented by writer Ryan North as it never has been before. Presenting the story, and its purposely non-linear narrative as a graphic novel is brilliant. Linking visuals to Billy Pilgrim’s time displacement fills out the storylines in a satisfying way. This adaptation is pretty faithful to the original novel. North uses much of Vonnegut’s prose and includes nearly every scene from the novel, even those small scenes casual readers may have forgotten. North does leave out one detail, however, the narrator from the novel, who is meant to represent the voice of Vonnegut himself.

Instead, North provides a bit of his own narration and exposition via text boxes placed throughout the story. In essence, he inserts himself as the narrator. Although these asides occasionally leaned toward humorous, I don’t feel like they added much to the narrative. To be frank, it felt to me like adding lines to a production of Shakespeare. In trying to retell one of Vonnegut’s stories, North effectively cuts him out of the narrative completely, and the representative character out until the very end. There are also some asides during scenes in the German prison camp where North points out Vonnegut (who was actually captured by the Germans during the war). Altogether, I think these asides are meant to mimic Vonnegut’s technique in the novel. Unfortunately, what is a sophisticated meta-textual literary device in Vonnegut’s hands feels more like pandering under North’s.

Along those same lines, I could have done without the seven pages of illustrated introduction. If a reader picks up this graphic novel, and has no idea it’s based on a Vonnegut novel, they should be allowed to enjoy it without pretense. North also gives a timeline of Billy Pilgrim’s “journey” through time, which basically amounts to a huge spoiler for a story that hasn’t even started yet. Plus, illustrating this introduction just felt unnecessary. One page of printed introduction, as is common in other graphic novels, would have sufficed. Or the illustrated introduction could have been tacked on to the end. The context it tries to impart would have had more impact after a reader has finished the graphic novel. Place at the beginning, it seemed like a waste of time for fans of Slaughterhouse-5, and wasn’t a good way to engage new readers.

Albert Monteys artwork is but not spectacular. The best way to describe my feelings of the illustrations is with the phrase “missed opportunity.” Slaughterhouse-five offers an artist the chance to draw battlefields, prison camps, flying saucers, an alien zoo, and the ward of a mental institution. Although Monteys renders all these settings well, they all look too similar. His linework rarely changes and the result is the exotic settings have the exact same look as the mundane ones. He does change his style at a few points, producing some cool visual effects, including: several underwater panels where the reader can see the ripples in the water, the scene where Billy Pilgrim watches a documentary on the war is drawn like a storyboard, and the pages of the Tralfamadorian book are appropriately abstract and psychedelic.

Luckily, Monteys’ use of color compensates for his uniform illustrative style. His color deviations accurately depict the settings within the story. Even without reading Vonnegut’s prose, the reader can instantly distinguish Germany during WWII from Billy Pilgrim’s optometry office in the 1950’s. The colors Monteys uses not only visually sum up the setting, they also convey the tone of each scene.

This graphic novel presentation of Slaughterhouse-Five is a great adaptation, but not necessarily a one-hundred percent faithful one. The story and most of the dialogue and text are purely Vonnegut. Unfortunately, North’s artistic liberties and literary additions don’t add to the quality of the story. In my opinion, North’s additions are actually more of a distraction then a quality accompaniment. Monteys’ artwork is a bit uniform despite the varied settings within the story, but all of his illustrations clearly covey the life of Billy Pilgrim to the reader. For those who have never read Slaughterhouse-five, I highly suggest starting with the novel, then checking out this graphic novel adaptation. Fans of Vonnegut’s work will probably want to add this graphic novel to their bookshelves, moreso to add to their collections than for the quality of the product.

Story: Kurt Vonnegut Written: Ryan North Art: Albert Monteys
Story: 10 Adaptation: 3.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.2 Recommendation: Read

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1

Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1

I’ve heard for so many years how great John Byrne’s Superman work was. He took over post-Crisis and redefined the character for the (then) modern age. Not an easy book to collect, with various out-of-print volumes. DC Comics has finally released a hardcover collecting the first part of Byrne’s work in Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1. I hold his X-Men, Fantastic Four and even his Alpha Flight stuff in pretty high regard. I’m not a huge Superman fan or DC fan. Would I feel the same way with Supes?

The story is one we’re all familiar with: A scientist on a doomed planet sends his only son across the universe to an alien planet in an attempt to save his life and to spare him from his home world’s destruction. Upon crash-landing on Earth, he’s found by your typical Earth couple who adopt him and raise him as their own and in doing so, he discovers his amazing abilities and decides to use those to help do the right thing and save others. From there, tales with Braniac, Darkseid, the Phantom Stranger and others round out the volume.

John Byrne’s Superman work ends up being pretty stellar to someone like me, who gets to read it for the first time so many decades later. For one, I feel that for one who doesn’t love the decompression of storytelling that everyone has embraced, the pacing is quite enjoyable. The Man Of Steel mini-series would take well over a year by the new standard if done today. I felt like Byrne understood the characters. He wrote a truly amazing Superman and put him through the ringer, so to speak.  And in saying that, Superman comes off truly relevant to the world he exists in. Art-wise, I have always enjoyed John Byrne’s pencils/art and so I knew what I was getting into with this. I knew that part would not disappoint.

Any problems? Mostly that I’m not a huge Superman fan. It feels odd to like this as much as I do. I’m sure a more traveled Superman/DC Comics fan could pick this apart but from what I know, this is one of the most sought-after comic book runs to get collected again. For me, it’s great to know that something that I’ve heard be so enjoyable actually held up over time, at least for me. This first volume maintains its look by having the art being done by Byrne and by Jerry Ordway in some spots. Terry Austin is one of the inkers involved with this and he’s probably the best inker Byrne worked with. The Adventures Of Superman issues are written by Marv Wolfman and also included. It’s great to see the other books of this era included.

Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1 ends up collecting Byrne’s Man Of Steel mini-series, Superman 1-4, Adventures Of Superman 424-428, and Action Comics 584 through 587. Some extras included are some Who’s Who ‘87 entries. It has a cover price of $49.99 and feels totally worth the price. Also, if DC Comics had released this a few years ago, it would most-likely just have a plain hardcover design underneath the dust jacket. This collection has a very nice art-on-book cover under the DJ. DC Comics has started to put some real quality on the collected editions that get released. If you are a Supes fan, this is one for you.

Story: John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway Art: John Byrne, Jerry Ordway
Ink: Dick Giordano, Terry Austin, Jerry Ordway, Mike Machlan, Karl Kesel
Color: Tom Ziuko Letterer: John Costanza, Albert DeGuzman
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: A definite read


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Review: Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Thirteen

HARLEY QUINN: BLACK + WHITE + RED CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Just when you think that this series can’t get any better, this chapter drops. Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Thirteen is one of the funniest comics I’ve read in a long time. I actually laughed out loud. Multiple times. For those who don’t know. Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red is a DC Digital First anthology series. Each chapter sees a new creative team and new story. These are generally stand-alone tales with only a couple referencing other series. Through it all, we’ve seen how much the writers and artists bring to the story with so many different takes on Harley Quinn in both the narrative and the visuals.

Patrick Schumacker is the Executive Producer and a writer for the Harley Quinn animated series and he brings his talents to the digital page with this chapter. The story has Harley being recruited by the Legion of Doom and doing what she can to impress her potential new boss, Lex Luthor. What follows is a smart, humorous, touching story that’s more about “Q rating” than villainy. The Legion of Doom is plagued by leaked emails, henchmen strikes, and public perception. And with all of the references within, there’s still moments that are sweet and cute.

Schumacker adds some heart as Harley bonds with Bane who provides her with advice about her potential new job. The scene is one of subtle visual jokes but some tenderness as well. Within the villainous group there’s “decent” people it would appear and some justification of the job (dental!).

Eleonora Carlini provides the art with Tom Napolitano‘s lettering. The style is an interesting one reminding me of something but I can’t quite put my finger on it. There’s a kinetic energy about the style though. Even though much of the comic takes place around a boardroom table, there’s something that pops. The style really emphasizes Schumacker’s jokes. Napolitano’s lettering is so important as well as there’s a bit of dialogue to deliver the punchlines but at no point does it feel overwhelming.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red Chapter Thirteen delivers rapid-fire jokes. There’s just so much there for so many people. Jokes cover everything from Michael Cohen to leaked emails to the NFL to the Joker’s former tattoos. Every bit of dialogue is packed with a set up and delivery of a punchline. This is hands down my favorite chapter of the anthology series so far. It got me to laugh and keep laughing throughout with a style that departs what has come before and delivering smart, joke-filled commentary.

Story: Patrick Schumacker Art: Eleonora Carlini Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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