Category Archives: Reviews

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead S2E13 Date of Death

fear-the-walking-dead-posterRefugees flood into the hotel, include an unexpected refugee from the group. Meanwhile, Madison struggles to cope with the situation.

Fear the Walking Dead is an interesting episode as we open up with refugees (or whatever you want to call them) attempting to get into the hotel. The fence is rather flimsy so the fact it was holding up feels a little silly. But, the scene is really to set up the return of Travis, who appears in the crowd.

The episode is really about parents and what they are or aren’t willing to do for their kids. The episode flashses back and forth between the present and past as we see Travis trying to talk sense into his son who is in with a group of kids.

That’s one of the most interesting things of the entire series so far. Seeing the anguish Travis goes through in this episode where he realizes he needs to let his son go, it’s heartbreaking. He feels like he’s actually breaking down and has had to make a horrible decision. It’s some of the best acting of the series.

It’s also a very slow episode. It just really focuses on Travis recounting his story to Madison, which then gets Madison to reveal the truth about something to her daughter. The episode emphasizes this show really is about family, parents trying to protect their kids.

There’s just one expanded episode left and a lot of ground to cover, so it’ll be interesting to see what next episode brings as the second season wraps up.

Overall Rating: 7.65

Review: Carver: A Paris Story

carver_trade_frnt_cvr_superfanNotorious gentleman of fortune Francis Carver returns to the City of Lights in 1923 after an absence of five years. He’s come back to aid Catherine Ayers, the wife of a wealthy Parisian socialite and the only woman he’s ever loved. Her daughter has been kidnapped by the leader of a crazed anarchist gang, a man named Stacker Lee. In order to bring the girl home, Carver will have to crawl through the underbelly of the city while confronting the demons of his past, before being faced with a final choice: succumb to the man he has become, or take that mask off and be the hero he always wanted to be.

Written and drawn by Chris Hunt, Carver: A Paris Story has vibes of Paul Pope, which makes sense as Hunt is a protege of Pope. Published by Z2 Comics, the story, now collected, is an entertaining read which definitely feels like the heartfelt homage to Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese that it presents itself as.

Carver is a war hero who has a heart of gold, though doesn’t feel that he is, and the story itself presents itself as a noir with a bit of 70s/80s action film thrown in. Taking place in the 1923, the setting of time helps shape a story devoid of modern technological distractions. Phones aren’t pinged, emails aren’t sent, things aren’t Googled, the lack of technology feels like it enhances the story. It also makes the weapons more low-key, knives, pistols, bottles, there’s a bit more of a rawness to it because of that.

CARVERThe overall story has some hiccups. Like the vigilante films of the 70s/80s, not everything is explained, you just going with the flow of bad guys that need to die. Also, the story taking place in Paris, it doesn’t feel like the location is used enough. Speaking of, the character of Stacker Lee, I always heard speaking with a Southern accent, no idea why. None of that causes major issues, because with this type of story I want brutal fights, bullets to fly, and blood to flow. It all happens here in entertaining presentation where Hunt uses the art to give us glimpses instead of details. That allows us the reader to fill in some of the specifics with our imagination, and anything we imagine will likely be so much worse than if Hunt showed every bullet entering or every stabbing location.

The art matches the story well with a nice grittiness to it that enhances it all, especially those action sequences. Things happen quickly in flashes which helps with the flow of the story and also keeps us focused on the characters as opposed to what they do. Hunt wants us to focus on Carver the person.

I finished the trade wanting to find out more about Carver. There’s lots of history that are barely touched upon like his past love interest, his time in World War I, his experiences after the war. All of it leaves so much to be mined in further adventures and it sounds like we’ll get more. Speaking of more, we also get two short stories featuring Carver done by Paul Pope which are both entertaining.

If you’re a fan of noir/revenge tales this is a great comic to pick up and enjoy. The setting and character feel like an excellent homage to the past, something that could have been done then and being reprinted now. A solid entertaining read and one that probably flew under your radar.

Story: Chris Hunt Art: Chris Hunt
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Z2 Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/24

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

bm_cv7_open_order_varBatman #7 (DC)* I’m not usually a fan of crossover stories, but I’m going into this with an open mind as this issue sees the start of the Night Of The Monster Men, and I can’t help but compare it to the excellent 2006 six issue mini Batman And The Monster Men. That being said, this is an interesting start to the story. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Judge Dredd #10 (IDW) I don’t remember the last issue of this comic that I read, but that didn’t impact my ability to follow the story here. This is a fun issue that feels like it’s just moments away from taking the piss out of itself every couple of pages. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Nightwing #5 (DC) And here’s the second chapter of Night Of The Monster Men. We get to see a little more Nightwing this issue than last (which is to be expected given that this is a Nightwing comic), and there’s an unseen threat that permeates this issue, which leads us a almost horror-esque feeling to the proceedings. Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read


revolution01_cvrri_bRevolution #1 
(IDW) Even without knowing anything  about the comic universe, this first issue knocked my socks off. It was chaotically awesome, and the stakes are certainly set pretty quickly. I’m going to be diving into the tie-ins pretty soon, because IDW’s crossover is looking fantastic. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Vote Loki #4 (Marvel)* The ending shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anybody, but the journey to get there was quite entertaining. Vote Loki was a fun diversion that may not hold up in the years to come, but right now it’s worth a read. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Antony

Black Hammer #3 (Dark Horse Comics)**: Barbalien, or Mark Markz, takes centre stage in this issue of Black Hammer. We get to see a glimpse into Markz’s past on Mars and where his ideology of solving problems through “words over sword” began, leading to his moral black-hamer-3struggle once he journeys to Earth. Once again, Lemire writes out some very insightful conversations, especially a heated moment shared between Markz and the sheriff. Ormston and Stewart capture these multiple emotional conversations by focusing on what can be felt about these characters through their eyes, almost not needing dialogue at times to get more of an impact on what is being said. The issue ultimately focuses on the questioned idea of unwarranted, cowardly fear of people like Markz, whose choice to keep to himself causes those skeptical of his interiority to form him and others like him as an enemy. It paints those, like the sheriff, in a light guided by their own insecurities to turn to questionable methods of ‘finding one’s self’ through Christianity (presented in a great opening sequence), forming truths that justify a hurtful, judgemental understanding of the world around them. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy.

Brett

Justice League #5 (DC Comics) – A ho-hum comic wraps up a ho-hum story arc. The story overall felt like a Michael Bay film in comics. Lots of action, but not much else. The story itself also makes little sense at this point. Hopefully there’s a long game here, but for being DC’s top tier team, the comic itself feels anything but. Overall Rating: 6 Recommendation: Pass

ga_cv7_dsGreen Arrow #7 (DC Comics) – A one shot for the must part. The comic does a lot to shed some info on Emiko. It’s really entertaining and the art continues to shine. The series as a whole has stood out and shown you can echo the live action without being a direct copy or continuation. Overall Rating: 7.9 Recommendation: Read

Batman #7 (DC Comics) – The first part of the first crossover in Rebirth, “Night of the Monster Men” is Batman and his allies fighting kaiju. It’s interesting so far with solid art and good pacing. It’s definitely not typical Batman, and that’s not a bad thing. Overall Rating: 8.05 Recommendation: Read

Nightwing #5 (DC Comics) – The second part of “Night of the Monster Men.” It’s the Bat-team versus kaiju part two! Like the first part this is all entertaining and it feels like something new to Bat-fans. It’s also nice to see Nightwing continue his independent streak established in his series. Plus, Batcycles! This is building into a nice mini-event. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

I Hate Fairyland #9 (Image)**: In which, in order to welch on a gambling debt, Gertrude descends deep into the Hat of Holding and is forced to reckon with all of the stuff she’s dropped in there over the years. Imagine Skottie Young cleaning out the pockets of that jacket you wore that one time a couple of years ago to go bar-hopping in that Central European country you backpacked through because some improbably hot girl told you to meet her in that bar whose name you promptly forgot. And that bar-hop lasted thirty years. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

superf_ckers_02subSuperf*ckers Forever #2 (IDW)**: SuperDan has returned! And that means it’s time for Princess Sunshine and Jack Krak to fight for his attention. Meanwhile, Vortex lies in a couch full of Jack and Ultra Richard’s piss (“Pee free and live easy, that’s my motto!” says Richard) while Grotessa attempts to cheer him up with a lamp made of a skull she found in a dumpster. Meanwhile, Orange Lightning joneses for some Grotus and the lamp turns out to be Omnizod. What I love about James Kochalka’s work here is that he a) absolutely nails superhero comics and b) totally messes with them. All this Silver Age Legion fan needs is more super-pets and some hero club auditions and I’m good to go for a long time. Overall: 8 Recommendation: buy

Weird Detective #4 (Dark Horse)**: In which Sebastian dons a white Miami Vice suit and discovers the true identity of the Juice Box Killer. Don’t get me wrong, I like Fred Van Lente and I love me some Lovecraftian horror, but, as I’ve said before, the detective part of the mashup is interfering with the weird part, not boosting it. I’ll stick with this till next issue’s conclusion, but I really wish it would get weirder. Side note: DC, if you’re paying attention, this is your path to a new Martian Manhunter series. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: skip

Ryan

Batman #7 (DC) *- “Night Of The Monster Men” kicks off with a decent-enough opening salvo featuring fun and stylish art from Riley Rossmo and a thoroughly readable script from Steve Orlando and Tom King that, truth be told, is better than King’s solo stuff on the Nightwing #5book has been. A weird amalgamation of Kaiju and the current story arc from the “Gotham” TV series, this is by no means super stuff, but is a step above what we’ve gotten from this series so far. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Nightwing #5 (DC)* – Steve Orlando and Tim Seeley continue “Night Of The Monster Men” with bog-standard art from Roge Antonio. An amusing and relatively light-hearted romp that moves the story forward and has sharp, on-target dialogue and cool monsters. Far from “must-read” storytelling, but solid fun. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Karnak #5 (Marvel)* – This series has been a victim of its own shipping inconsistency more than anything else, and an art change after issue two didn’t help matters much, but Roland Boschi has stepped into his role well and Warren Ellis’ story is a thought-provoking, action-packed psychodrama. This issue sets up for the conclusion, and moves the pieces into place in a manner our protagonist himself with no doubt approve of. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

The Vision #11 (Marvel)* – I miss Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s series already, and it’s not even done yet. This penultimate chapter starts out feeling like it’s going to be a bit “quieter” than the battle royale we’d been expecting, but then we get an ending that — damn. Seriously, just damn. Another issue certain to stick with readers for a good, long time. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

britannia_001_variant_guinaldoBritannia #1 (Valiant): When it comes to the catalog of books at Valiant, most of their stories at most , elegant like Doctor Mirage. So when I heard that they were putting a historical epic , I was interested, and then when I found out it was set in Rome, I was very interested, as I was a fan of Spartacus and Rome. This story leans more towards the much touted HBO series, as our protagonist is a centurion who goes about investigating rumblings in one of the empire’s farther regions. What plays out is more than palace intrigue with the story flipping back and forth between Nero and Antonius, it is a power play told from opposite ends. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

From Hell HC (IDW): When I watched the 2001 movie adaptation of this seminal masterpiece, words cannot surmise the disappointment I felt , as it made me question why so many true crime fanatics are still so obsessed with this infamous crime spree. So when I got around to finally reading the original source material for the movie, I finally saw why Alan Moore hates all of the adaptations of his work to celluloid, as not one has come close to satisfying the scope and depth his writing brings . So when IDW re- released it in Hardcover format, not only did they capture what made the book so special in the first place, but they give the whole story in one huge omnibus. This is must buy for true crime fans and the master, Alan Moore. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write.

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 1831

tumblr_ocb81o7dst1rp6eo5o2_r1_1280So far in The Wicked + The Divine, most of what we know about past pantheons is from hearsay or little tidbits of information from those who have studied past pantheons. In fact, the pantheon in this particular issue was hinted at as far back as issue 2 when Laura went to meet with Cassandra about freeing Lucifer.

After The Wicked + The Divine 1831, we don’t have much more to go on, but there’s a bit more background about one of the past pantheons, how the celebrity of the Gods changes in each era, and maybe how Ananke manipulated the gods to meet her own goals.

The issue gorgeously illustrated by Stephanie Hans takes place mostly at Villa Diodati, the mansion by Lake Geneva where Frankenstein and The Vampyre were developed. In fact, a quick bit of research reveals that the pantheon of 1831 was completely composed of the Romantics. Never mind that many of them were already dead by 1831. It’s an alternate history though where the Romantics were given the powers of Gods by a mysterious old woman, so a little wiggle room can be made for such things.

For most of the issue, the story is narrated by Inanna, who was Claire Clairmont in this era. This is where the universalness of the story really plays, since it becomes less about the gods and their fates, but rather the interpersonal issues as the clock nears midnight on their time. In this story, there is only four left: Inanna, Lucifer, Morrigan, and Woden. There are hints of who the other gods were, but that almost doesn’t matter in this context. Writer Kieron Gillen and Hans instead weave a story about old friends and family gathering together, airing their grievances in the only way they know how: horror stories.

What’s especially interesting about this issue is that it seems like Inanna may have brokered a deal for her godhood, playing the role of the jealous sister when her sister Mary Shelley became Woden. It’s not unheard of, since it’s implied that’s how Baphomet gained his powers in the modern pantheon, but the ways in which Inanna went about it seem much bloodier. If it hasn’t occurred by now, 1831 will make you realize just how deep the world of The Wicked + The Divine really runs. Oh Kieron, what wicked things are you planning for the future of this series?

Something that Hans doesn’t get a lot of credit for with her art is how expressive it is. You see this a fair amount in 1602: Witch Hunter Angela, but it’s on full display here. Especially with Inanna and how subtly her face can change from contempt to seductive in just a matter of seconds. Mixed with the use of a more sketchy style for the flashbacks within the story that recalls back to illustrations of the era, and Hans rightly deserves all the applause for this issue.

Besides the shenanigans of the Romantics (because who else would be the celebrities of this era), this issue raises a lot of questions about what Ananke’s endgame was. Especially regarding the hand of Hades. While we’ll never know from the woman herself now, you have to wonder just how the end of this issue might come back to haunt the modern gods later.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Stephanie Hans
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provides Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Summerland

summerlandSummerland is the story of Santana and her cousin Gwen who work on a play with Chucho while all three are vacationing, created by the animator Paloma Dawkins, who works in a riotous color palette.

Paloma Dawkins has created a comic that’s visually a stunner in Summerland, published by Retrofit Comics. The story is pretty simple taking us through some of the life of Santana and Gwen, but it’s the visuals that draw the reader in.

The colors especially jump from the page in a trippy colorfest that reminds me of my childhood watching 3..2..1… Contact. There’s this weird retro-art thing going on. It’s unique, and really stands out.

I’d say the colors visually assault you, and that may sound like a bad thing, but I don’t mean it that way. The colors are bright in a technicolor rainbow that changes as the comic progresses through the story. From yellow and green to blue to purples to red to orange and back again the colors are as cyclical in what they’re saying as the story is. It’s just amazing to look at and no review will do it justice the visuals matter that much. If you look at the cover you’ll get an idea as to what to expect.

What strikes me about Summerland is that the colors that Dawkins chooses to use say as much about the story as anything else. Where each color is placed, what hue to use, it’s all worth examining and you’ll want to.

Summerland is a visual treat and if you’re into indie comics or love a colorful visual, it’s a comic well worth checking out.

Story: Paloma Dawkins Art: Paloma Dawkins
Story: 7.5 Art: 10 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Uncanny X-Men #13

uncanny-x-men-13-coverThe X-Men join The Hellfire Club?! To investigate a string of violent attacks perpetrated by mutants, the Uncanny X-Men ally themselves with their (former?) foes. But what they’re about to uncover may be too much for even their combined might to handle…

For his X-Men run, Cullen Bunn has been mining a lot of recent classic characters from the X-Men universe (think 90s characters). His run kicked off with the return of the Dark Riders and in this issue we get the return of another character that I personally think not enough has been done enough with… but I’m not spoiling who.

The issue has a whole lot of action as Magneto’s X-Men team up with the Hellfire Club to figure out what the deal is with mutants going into cryogenic sleep. And of course there’s something up and they come into retaliation and have to fight before getting some answers eventually leading us to the reveal at the end.

It’s a pretty entertaining comic and definitely has a bit of a feel of the 90s considering the characters involved. But, even though Bunn is mining a lof the 90s he gives us a lot of new too. Magneto having a big picture game plan going on is the most interesting thing of the series and I want to see what he has up his sleeve. The fact the X-Men and Hellfire Club are teaming up is interesting. We’re getting a greater look inside the world of the Club and it’s entertaining to say the least. The new leadership is fascinating. Bunn is playing the long game here.

Greg Land‘s art is decent. I’ve usually had issues with his art as I feel his characters tend to look a lot alike, but things are a bit better here. You know Land art when you see it and while I used to think it was pretty bad, there’s been improvements so that it’s not as much of a distraction for me.

The issues really gets things rolling as far as Bunn’s next story arc and we get some answers. On it’s own it’s ok, but like a good X-Men story it’s the big picture that’s what really matters for me.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Greg Land
Story: 7.4 Art: 7 Overall: 7.35 Recommendation: Read

Review: Green Lanterns #7

gls_cv7_dsJessica Cruz and Simon Baz have saved Earth from the Red Lanterns, but now they must deal with an even more fordable foe, Simon’s mother.

The issue is a cute one with a more relaxed atmosphere that acts as the quiet before the storm with what also feels like a lot of foreshadowing. Simon is back home attempting to have a normal time and being forced to bake cookies for his mother who’s visiting. The issue is he’s never told her that he’s a Green Lantern.

Writer Sam Humphries really focuses on Simon’s issues here as Baz and Cruz bond over baking and family. It’s something we haven’t seen yet for the two partners and something that’s needed. They don’t have an urgent threat right now, they need down time to talk. It adds some depth to the two of them and the way Humphries handles it is solid.

There’s also a sense of coming out, as someone might do with their family too. Simon has clearly been living a double life and that weighs on him, so he needs to reveal himself to his mother. I have no idea if Humphries meant that, but it’s an easy parallel to see.

The art by Ronan Cliquet is decent. It’s a step back from some of the other Green Lantern artists, but it’s still good overall. Some of Simon’s facial expressions feel a little off, but I think that’s due to his wearing a mask and not as much to work with in theory to really show emotions. A couple of panels really stand out, for instance, a scene with Rami meditating that has some cool details.

The issue is the quiet before the storm as a new baddie for Simon and Jessica to deal with is right around the corner. I just worry that Humphries has given is a bit too much foreshadowing and what I expect to happen will. The comic feels like the part of the story where the partner cops share something and one of them then gets shot and killed. Hopefully, I’m wrong and it’s not that predictable, but we’ll see.

Story: Sam Humphries Art: Ronan Cliquet
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Civil War II: Choosing Sides #6

choosingsides6coverIn the final installment of this anthology tie-in series, Civil War II: Choosing Sides #6 offers up three distinct perspectives on the conflict between Captain Marvel’s predictive justice side and Iron Man’s conventional justice faction. There is a Jessica Jones story from writer Chelsea Cain (Mockingbird), artist Alison Sampson (Genesis), and colorist Jordie Bellaire as the superpowered P.I. looks into the precog Inhuman Ulysses’ life before his powers. It is followed by a story featuring White Fox, a South Korean secret agent and superhero from Al Ewing’s Contest of Champions, written by Christina Strain (Runaways colorist) and drawn by Sana Takeda (Monstress). The final story in the comic is this conclusion of Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire’s Nick Fury Jr. saga.

Chelsea Cain, Alison Sampson, and Jordie Bellaire’s Jessica Jones story is the kind of story fans have been waiting for since Alias wraps as Jessica hits the road to get some background info on Ulysses. Cain really gets Jessica’s trademark sarcasm and cynicism as she is convinced that Ulysses is hiding something beneath his average college freshman posters and books. The comic is really funny too, and Sampson nails the disdain on Jessica’s face when she has to interact with Ulysses’ Civil War reenactor parents. (They named him after Ulysses S. Grant and are tour guides at his birthplace in Ohio.)

choosingsidesjess

Sampson also puts her own visual stamp on Jessica Jones using Post-It Notes in her layouts to follow Jessica’s investigation of Ulysses’ bedroom. (And porn stash.) She uses a lot of close-up shots of toads, dragonflies, and other critters to show how out of sorts the Hell’s Kitchen based P.I. is in the rural Midwest. The small town setting gives Bellaire a chance to work with an idiosyncratic color palette, like a disgusting green when a dragonfly flies into Jessica’s windshield or an equally disgusting pink when she runs over the toad. The interiors of Ulysses’ childhood home are muted and mundane showing his utterly average nature. This story is an anti-mystery mystery as Ulysses is just a normal kid with no dark secrets and even got a friend to hide his porn stash in case he went missing. This absolute normalcy causes Jessica to conclude that maybe Captain Marvel was right to trust his visions. Without her appearing or a mention of Carol’s friendship with Jessica, this story makes the world cop, borderline fascistic Captain Marvel seem slightly sympathetic.

If the Jessica Jones story made Captain Marvel a tiny bit sympathetic, the White Fox story is the complete opposite as Christina Strain and Sana Takeda combine Korean mythology with espionage in a story that goes completely against Captain Marvel and her predictive justice. Strain also connects this to American interventionism as White Fox tells off Abigail Brand by saying that South Korean delegates weren’t even allowed in the room when the Korean War armistice was signed. To go with this anti-imperialism, Strain and Takeda also make White Fox a part of the kumiho stories where a nine tailed fox can transform into a woman and seduce and kill men. Except White Fox’s grandmother could control her powers and so can she.

choosingsideswhitefox

In eight pages, Strain and Takeda craft a smart, savvy, and fiercely independent heroine, who definitely deserves her own miniseries. The climax of the story is a sparring session between White Fox and Abigail Brand, which is fluidly choreographed by Takeda as she switches angles and uses speed lines to show both character’s agility and competence culminating in one powerful strike. The comic ends in a poster worthy image of White Fox with her bird familiar soaring above her defiantly saying that she and South Korea will make their own choices about being involved in Civil War II. And hopefully, we’ll see more of her soon.

The final chapter of Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire’s Nick Fury arc is more reflective than action packed, but truly sets Nick Fury Jr apart from his father as he burns the rogue LMD of Nick Fury and sets aside the eye patch for his own look and unique role in the Marvel Universe. The combination of burning and walking away wearing sunglasses reminded me a lot of Nick Fury’s final scene in Captain America: Winter Soldier, but Shalvey and Bellaire make this iconic scene their own as Fury Jr is returning to SHIELD and not going on the run as a fugitive.

choosingsidesfury

Nick Fury Jr is part of SHIELD, but he only trusts himself after Maria Hill sent him on a suicide mission after one of Ulysses’ visions said that killing Nick Fury would save SHIELD. This individualism in the midst of a twisted system has kind of defined what Nick Fury is for better or worse, and over six chapters, Shalvey and Bellaire have built Fury Jr up as a viable solo threat and not just lipservice to the Marvel movies.

Also, each chapter has been a masterclass in comics storytelling, and Choosing Sides #6 is no exception. Red is the most prominent color in Bellaire’s palette, and she brings it to bear as Shalvey slows down time and spends a page having Fury ponder his next move. This kind of decompression doesn’t feel like padding, but lets the reader into Fury’s head as he struggles with returning to SHIELD when he could pull a James Bond in Skyfall and relax far away from the world of HYDRA, spy games, and superheroes. Ultimately, the comic ends with a close-up on a pair of sunglasses and a one-liner as Shalvey and Bellaire have returned Nick Fury to his proper place as the coolest, cold blooded spy in the Marvel Universe.

Choosing Sides #6 has three solid stories from three talented creative teams that fall all across the Civil War II “ideological” spectrum. They also fit in three different genres: small town mystery, a superhero story grounded in both spy stories and Korean mythology, and a straight up espionage thriller.

Choosing Sides #6 is a testament to the range of stories that can be set in the Marvel Universe. Hint: they don’t all have to be superhero slugfests.

Story: Chelsea Cain, Christina Strain, Declan Shalvey Art: Alison Sampson, Sana Takeda, Declan Shalvey Colors: Sana Takeda, Jordie Bellaire
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #10

hellcat10coverPatsy literally goes to hell in Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #10 as she confronts the spectres of her past in an issue featuring reality shattering art and colors from Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson and heartfelt, yet continuity driven writing from Kate Leth. Most of the comic is set in the hell dimension that Patsy’s ex-boyfriend Daimon Hellstrom (Aka Son of Satan) has sent to her, but Leth and Williams don’t neglect her friends along the way as they fight to rescue her. There is also time for mirth and romance, especially when it comes to a couple adorable supporting characters. (Yes, Ian and Tom Hale finally kiss in this issue.)

Patsy might end up squaring up against a bright red demon (With the Hebrew Bible deep cut name of Belial.) by the end of Hellcat #10, but the two problems she battles against are ones that many young people struggle with. They are not making the best choices in who we get romantically involved with and not living up to our “potential”. Belial taunts Patsy for marrying Mad Dog (then Buzz Baxter) and Daimon Hellstrom, but along the way, she realizes that these past choices don’t define her present, and Leth and Williams use these hell dimension scenes to help Patsy work through some of her issues. The scenes featuring She-Hulk are the most emotional as Williams cuts from a happy costume wearing Jen to a cold, comatose body as Patsy isn’t in control of her reality. But she gains more and more control as the comic progresses as she owns her past mistakes and takes the fight to real world and her friends.

Hellcat #10 has some of Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson’s most inventive visuals as her “hell” doesn’t look like the cover of a metal album or a Gustav Dore woodcut, but a classic Patsy Walker romance comic from 1950s with a burnt newsprint background. These crosshatchings from Williams and plenty of red from Wilson keeps the plot on its toes as Patsy must get out of hell on her own. And Williams really nails the sad eyes and forlorn looks of classic romance comics to make these scenes feel “real” for Patsy. Along the way, Kate Leth pokes fun at the cheesy dialogue of these old comics, and how they absolutely failed at depicting real teenage problems or struggles. (And everyone had perfect skin.)

hellcathighschool

Patsy’s mom exploited her high school struggles for her stories, but Patsy has decided to move on, and Williams shows this through a panel shattering punch as the fight goes from hell to the real world. And it’s all about the power of friendship as each member of Patsy’s friend/ex-boyfriend group gets a decent lick on Belial. Williams’ cartoonish style complements the fierceness of Jubilee as she is determined to get her new boss out of hell even if she has to turn Daimon Hellstrom into a vampire along the way. Ian also gets a big moment using his telekinesis on Belial showing that his confidence in his personal life (Kissing Tom.) has extended to his superpowers too.

Hellcat #10 balances inner conflict with action and comedy as Daimon Hellstrom and Mad Dog still fighting over Patsy is the height of farce. Kate Leth also subverts the “heroes fighting each other just to fight” (See Civil War II.) trope and has Jubilee explain to Daimon and Mad Dog why Hedy Clarke is manipulating them in a single, logical page. Add the ever-shifting backgrounds and color palettes from Brittney Williams and Megan Wilson, and Hellcat #10 is a milestone issue in Patsy Walker’s journey to cast off the shackles of her past and help the young superhumans of New York.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Brittney Williams Colors: Megan Wilson
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Refugees Book 1

cover_v2Refugees tells the true stories of people migrating from Latin America into the United States, and why anyone would take such a risky journey. Immigration affects everyone, and things aren’t as simple as “just go home.” There’s always a story behind them.

Self-published by Pablo Leon, Refugees was one of my “must gets” at this year’s Small Press Expo. When I grabbed my copy from him at the convention, Leon warned me that this wasn’t a “happy” story, and I should be prepared for the brutal content within. Leon made it clear this comic’s purpose wasn’t to entertain but to educate.

Within it’s pages it does that and then some painting a bleak and depressing story, three in total, of the situations that would drive individuals to make the journey to the United States. But Leon explores more than that. He shows us how brutal that journey truly is and the danger one faces when making it. Gangs, bribery, rape, torture, they’re all shown and explored as families attempt to be reunited and a better life is attempted to be reached.

But Leon also explores the policy that impacts immigration. From the rise of gangs like MS-13 and Barrio 18, to death squads, to the drug war, it’s all touched upon with brutal honesty.

Leon also provides the art. The combination of narrative and art creates almost like a poetic vibe about it all, but that also creates some flaws. There’s some issues with the lettering in the comic where it’s too small and the narrative at times jumps around being told in first person and third. That might be due to the fact it was a webcomic turned print, but it’s enough that I noticed and those issues stick out.

As a whole, this comic is powerful, even with it’s flaws. It creates a first person narrative and experience that lays things out in an honest and brutal way. This is the type of comic you wish was handed out so individuals could learn more about the situation and reality of it all. As it says, “immigration affects everyone,” and it’s not simple at all. Leon demonstrates that perfectly.

You can read the comic online, it’s updated every Friday.

Story: Pablo Leon Art: Pablo Leon
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation Buy

« Older Entries