Undiscovered Country #2 continues the wild ride writer Scott Snyder and Charles Soule set up in the first issue. It’s a hard issue to describe as our group of explorers mainly try to figure out what to do next as we the reader get a better idea about everything.
Snyder and Soule use the issue to focus on worldbuilding delivering wild ideas and concepts that are unexpected. And that’s part of the enjoyment of the series, it truly is undiscovered with wild ideas.
The comic has a Mad Max feel to it all, except if a group from our world stumbled upon it. Mashed together vehicles are mixed with mutant animal steeds for a world that’s a little bit of everything. That’s part of the fun of it all. You don’t know what to expect and what wild idea is next to show up on the page. Add in the fact that the “mission” might all be a lie to start and you have a blank page in so many ways.
That craziness is brought to life by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini. Matt Wilson provides color and Crank! the lettering. The designs are as crazy as the concepts with a look that feels part Burning Man, part Mad Max, and part junkyard find. There’s a mish-mash of designs and concepts that at times feels familiar and that plays off a bit that this is America, the land of consumer consumption. That’s emphasized a little in backmatter material adding more color to the world.
Undiscovered Country #2 is insane in a positive way with a look that’s just so over the top. Add in a story where everything is open at this point and we have a series where anything and everything feels possible, like a vivid fever dream.
Story: Scott Snyder, Charles Soule Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini Color: Matt Wilson Letterer: Crank! Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation:Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Far Sector #2 is a hell of a detective story. Though it takes place on an alien world and involves a Green Lantern, at its heart, it’s a crime tale. It’s also fantastic.
Writer N.K. Jemisin keeps the story grounded in numerous ways. Though there’s aliens and a fantastical world, Jemisin focuses on the main characer Jo. It’s an interesting story that cares as much about giving its main lead depth as it does the action and mystery. But that extends beyond Jo. Jemisin makes sure we learn about the world and the alien races it inhabits.
What’s most interesting is Jemisin keeping the story familiar. There’s the relationships and interactions between characters that stands out. But, there’s also familiar concepts like drug abuse and use. It’s sci-fi being used to mask real-world issues.
The art by Jamal Campbell is amazing. Joined by Deron Bennett on lettering, the comic is as amazing visually as it is to read. There’s a style to it all that feels fresh and fantastical. The designs are hauntingly beautiful and reflect the concepts presented. They invoke emotion but at the same time feel devoid of it. Underneath that beauty something feels sinister about it all. The art evokes an emotional read adding to Jemisin’s detailed dialogue.
Far Sector #2 is a fantastic follow-up. It adds depth to characters and the world while moving the murder mystery forward. Only two issues in a twelve-issue series, I’m already saddened there’s an endpoint. This is a world I already want to see more of.
Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child is Frank Miller‘s latest entry into his world of Batman. Following up on The Master Race, the comic feels like a bunch of ideas jotted down but not fleshed out. It’s a mess of a result.
The story revolves around Lara, Carrie Kelley, and a young Jonathan Kent. Miller sets up some interesting dynamics between the three. Lara struggles with humanity and Carrie devolves into her cold role as Batwoman. Jonathan is caught between the two. With godlike power he’s conflicted as to what it means to be human and compassionate. That could be a story unto itself with an easy conflict. It’d play off of themes Miller has previously addressed in other volumes. Instead, we get his take on the current state of political affairs and interference in elections. The result is a jumbled mess of a result.
Miller decides to make the villain of the story a combination of Darkseid and Joker whose initial gambit is meddling with an election. Donald Trump is their candidate and they manipulate the masses through computers and protests. It all feels rather odd for the pairing and with motivation unclear it comes off as lazy writing. It’s a plotline and two character that didn’t need to exist for an interesting follow up.
The end result is a comic that feels like Miller is attempting to say something but he’s unsure of how to do that and maybe even what it is he’s trying to say.
Rafael Grampá handles the art duties this time around. Jordie Bellaire joins on color with John Workman and Deron Bennett handling lettering. The art style is interesting with some scenes looking fantastic and at other times characters looking like distorted beings. There’s times it all works but at others it’s hard to not be distracted by giant foreheads.
There’s something interesting in the Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child but the end result is a mess of a result. The story comes off as if it thinks it’s an intelligent take on the current state of affairs. But, then the dialogue betrays all of that with such memorable lines like “I’ll rip yuh gonads off.” The dialogue at times is laughable, and not in a good way. It’s a frustrating comic with flashes of Miller’s brilliance but a final result that’s a chaotic mess.
Story: Frank Miller Art: Rafael Grampá Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: John Workman, Deron Bennett Story: 5.0 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
In Doctor Mirage #5, how will this speaker of the dead keep her place in the land of the living?
Doctor Mirage #5brings MagdaleneVisaggio’s five-issue run on the character to a close. For this first time since reading the first issue, I felt the balance of real-world grounding and the supernatural tip away slightly from the wonderful dichotomy she had developed as the book embraced the supernatural aspects that fans know and love about Doctor Mirage. When you dig deeper you’ll realize that Vissaggio’s story still has very real-world relatable relationships at its core. It’s only as the story comes to a close that it becomes as evident in the series finale.
Nick Robles and Jordie Bellaire have been consistent throughout the book. The visuals are what I can only imagine be similar to what the Beatles were seeing at the height of their most experimental phase. It’s a glorious look for the comic. The artist and colorist getting the freedom to explore what the Deadside is like through some flowing layouts and imagery. I scrolled through the comic in the review PDF. When done quickly you get a sense of the comic melting into your mind up until the final pages. This isn’t going to be a book that everyone enjoys as fully as I have. Tastes differ and all. It’s another series from Valiant that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did.
The unique visual style and storytelling of the artists combined with Visaggio’s story struck me in just the right way. Magic in a bottle? Maybe – all I know is that I want more of this. That surprises me because typically I tend to stay away from anything not grounded on earth. I always enjoy when I’m reminded that a great story is a great story no matter the setting.
On the whole, Doctor Mirage #5 wraps up a story with themes that – for me at least – focused on depression, grief and loneliness. The brightly psychedelic visual style didn’t take away from the journey that Shan Fong took. As she traversed the Deadside she came to grips with the silence of the ghosts that had been her companions for so long. ThatVisaggio could bring the elements of the character, her journey and our relationship with Doctor Mirage together in a way that allows us to relate to her in a way that’s very human. Loss is loss, and that’s always going to be a powerful feeling – regardless of what stage of grief you’re in.
For a comic I didn’t expect to enjoy all that much, Doctor Mirage has become one I’ll return to time and again.
Can the cyborg samurai Rai and his robot boy sidekick escape a sentient madhouse in Rai #2?!
I absolutely loved the first issue of the current volume of Rai. I think it’s volume three technically, though it’s the second first issue since Valiant relaunched in 2012. Every aspect of the first issue blew me away. I honestly expected this issue to come off a little poorer in comparison due to that.
Spoiler: It doesn’t.
The first issue had Rai and his older/younger brother Raijin confront a semi stereotypical group of post-apocalyptic enemies in a roving gang of gear heads and dinosaurs. It was a backdrop to the more interesting exploration of the evolution of machines. This issue sees Rai and Raijin continue their search for more pieces of Father – the AI who ran New Japan like a god before Rai brought the floating nation down to Earth in a catastrophic confrontation in an attempt to kill him. Rai failed to kill Father, who took control of Bloodshot’s body and needs only a small number of the Offspring to remake himself entirely.
Rai #2 begins with Rai and Raijin in the hunt for one of the Offspring Father needs to absorb. It takes them through a sector of New Japan that fell to earth which bears a strong resemblance to a derelict North American city circa the turn of the 21st century. That strikes quite the dichotomy with a rather idyllic looking model home. It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that Rai and Raijin approach and enter the home. By the time the fourth page is over they’re in the house.
Dan Abnett comes at the artificial intelligence angle from a slightly different perspective in the second issue. Rather than a discussion between two brothers (though the dynamic is a unique one; the chronologically older one is the child, whilst the younger one act much more adult like), Abnett uses the AI within the house to ask whether it is ethical to create artificial assistants with enough autonomy to function and then leave them alone for a significant period of time. For anyone who talks to a Siri, Alexa or Google, I’m sure that you’ve often wanted a physical representation of the virtual assistant to make you a real cup of coffee. What if you were able to get one that eventually fell into disuse?
It’s at this point that the comic distinguishes itself as more than just a follow up to an issue of the year contender. It stands as a fantastic issue in its own right. Dan Abnett two for two when it comes to fantastic issues. If he can keep this level of quality up, Rai will go down as one of the best comic series.
Yes, I think it’s that good.
Joining Abnett is the ever astounding artist Juan Jose Ryp and colourist Andrew Dalhouse. The pair were spectacular last week, and are just as good here. Ryp’s hyper detailed style is superbly suited for a post apocalyptic world, and the way he shifts from the derelict and abandoned streets to the manicured lawn and clean lines of the model home is almost jarring. Dalhouse’s colouring also plays a part in the transition between the two settings. His work is also top notch in Rai #2; the starkness of the streets contrasts powerfully with the model home, as is emblematic of the comic’s soul.
Rai #1 was one of the best comics I’d read all year, and much to my surprise the second issue is every bit as good as the first. Welcome to your new favorite series.
Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan Jose Ryp Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe Story: 9.7 Art: 9.9 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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White Collar was one of those shows that USA Network had on for a few years which both charmed and beguiled viewers. It followed a unique relationship between an FBI agent and a former grifter as they investigate white-collar crimes. Its starred Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Tiffani Thiessen, and the immortal Diahann Carroll, in a show which explored both sides of the line of the law, often referring to Bomer’s character’s past and previous proclivities. It really elevated the buddy comedy genre in ways that many shows have tried to imitate since.
What was fascinating was how the show delved deep into the criminal underworld and gave viewers a deep dive into con artist tradecraft. As a writer I often wondered about the roads not taken in stories, and one of those within the show was the backstory of Carroll’s husband, who was also a con man. I felt it would have been better to show this story than to allude to it as the show did through its entire run. The idea of a family of thieves was something I wished W.E.B. Griffin would have tackled in his prolific career. Roxane Gay and Ming Doyle’s beautifully woven The Banks gives us a family whose business is about the next big score and they live by one code, don’t get caught and don’t get greedy.
We’re taken to 1972 Evanston, Illinois, where we meet Clara Banks, a shrewd robber whose skill set as a safecracker has made one of the best in all of Chicago. She develops a family business which is far from your typical. The story weaves through the past to the present delivering an interesting family of thieves and eventually leading to a score and revenge.
Overall, an excellent and intricately told story about a family whose business is more than ill-gotten gains, as love and legacy is paramount to everything. The story by Gay is immense, heartfelt, and harrowing. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a story that does more than add sepia tones to the crime noir genre but elevates it a new standard of storytelling.
Story: Roxane Gay Art: Ming Doyle, Jordie Bellaire, Ariana Maher, Jared K Fletcher, and Jeff Powell Story: 10 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy
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.
Batman #84 (DC) SPOILERS -So here we are the penultimate issue before the end of City of Bane arc and its two steps forward and one step back. This issue opens with Bruce and Thomas squaring off in the dining area of Wayne Manor, as we are quickly whisked in many many time jumps showing us Thomas’s activities since rejoining us on our Earth. While there are some cool beats there are also many confusing ones. For example we get a Selena Kyle who joins Thomas on his cruade as his Robin but she refers to him as Dad? Its never apparent which Selena this is, is another Selena in the multiverse or is it our Selena and she’s been manipulating Bruce all along. I’m not sure which one. We then see Thomas hunt down everything and anything he sees as a threat to Bruce including shooting our Oswald Cobblepot in the head. (that was interesting) We also get Thomas’s version of Bruce’s famous vow which was cool. I have been a big fan of Thomas Wayne Flashpoint Batman and feel The Button arc is one of the best comics I’ve ever read but the way that King has used him in this is so convoluted and way beyond tough love that it makes any chance for redemption ridiculous. Any outcome other than Bruce killing Thomas for what he has done is not acceptable. King only has one issue to wrap this all up and I have little faith he can accomplish that feat. So once again, the pictures have been grand and I get the impact he’s going for but its just so muddled that it becomes so hard to see Thomas as anything other than an Arkham psycho. This is a character that started so rich and deserves so much more. Like Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” One issue left lets hope King and Co. give us the ending we deserve. Score: 7 Recommendation: Read
Thor: The Worthy #1 (Marvel)– In Thor: The Worthy #1, Marvel rustles up some of the greatest creators of Asgardian comic content to tell stories about heroism and perserverance even if your dad isn’t Odin. Legendary Thor writer Walter Simonson teams up with artists Mike Hawthorne, Sal Buscema (Who is 83!), and Tamra Bonvillain to tell a Kirby-esque of Beta Ray Bill, Sif, and a rock troll threatening Asgard. It doubles as an homage to his run, a great Young Thor tale story, and a look back at the underrated relationship between Sif and Bill. The second story by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz is a day in the life of The militarized cop supporting cast hasn’t aged well, but Frenz’s muscular linework and Eric’s salt of the Earth heroism is timeless. There’s even a a fantastic Secret Wars homage, and it reminds readers that the late Eric Masterson was a great, relatable hero in the “extreme” era of the 1990s. The final story from Kathryn Immonen and Tom Reilly is a fantastic Sif and Thor (Jane Foster) team-up as Sif shows Thor the ropes of Asgardian diplomacy, and Thor realizes that she is truly worthy of wielding Mjolnir. The art has a great Kirby meets Simonson vibe to tie it into the first story, and Reilly’s explosive pencils complement Immonen’s witty dialogue nicely. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy
James Bond #1 (Dynamite)– The first chapter of Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, and Eric Gapstur’s James Bond ongoing series is relatively Bond-lite, but provides an intriguing look into the world of art forgeries and thefts. After an explosive sex and violence filled cold open with a Will Eisner-esque title page, the comic has the feel of a slick procedural as claims investigator Brandy Keys tries to figure out how a priceless Rothko was forged/stolen. Ayala and Lore assume readers already know Bond so they spend this issue building up Keys as a character and crafting a playground of fine art and ultraviolence. And this issue is a true thrill ride with a conclusion that definitely piqued my interest into seeing how Bond fits into this story. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Die #10 (Image)– The final issue of the “Split the Party” arc definitely lives up to the title as Ash and Izzy take over the fantasy realm of Angria, which was revealed as a creation of a young Charlotte Bronte, in a previous issue. Ash’s descent into evil and authoritarianism has been fun as she has progressed from wanting to exit the world of Die to wanting to play the game. Kieron Gillen falls into some RPG nerdery in this issue (As he has throughout the whole series to be honest), but Stephanie Hans’ art makes concepts like godbinding and dictators compelling and cool. However, some of her best moments happen in muted flashbacks to Dominic Ash finally seeing his wife become pregnant before cutting to Ash taking over Angria. The first arc of Die ended with the game-maker Sol imprisoned, and the party desperately wanting to go home to the real world. However, in the second arc, Gillen and Hans have replaced him with an equally compelling villain as the protagonists (and antagonists) immerse themselves in fantasy quests and realpolitik. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
X-Men #3 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman indulges his weird side and turns in the most entertaining issue of the X-Men ongoing with artists Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. Basically, some 70 and 80-something female botanist and agrochemists called Hordeculture hack Krakoa in the Savage Land and totally put the mutants’ new utopia out of wack so Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Sebastian Shaw investigate and get their asses handed to them. This is a serious problem, but creates some amazing opportunities for comedy like Yu’s hilarious beat panel after one of the Hordeculture spit roasts Emma Frost’s fashion sense. Some of the writing here is straight out of an X-Men meme page (For better or worse), but Hickman and Yu do a good job of showing that there’s trouble in paradise, er, Krakoa. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy
Marauders #3 (Marvel)– Wow, Sebastian Shaw is the worst father ever. Gerry Duggan and Michele Bandini continue to put their proverbial “pieces” on the Hellfire Club board with Sebastian Shaw resurrecting his son Shinobi Shaw to serve as the Red King, and when that didn’t work out thanks to Kate Pryde in the last issue, the Black Bishop. Marauders #3 has the vibe of one of those early season episodes of Game of Thrones (When it was decent show.) where characters are plotting and doing morally questionable things to gain power. The theme of a utopia being undermined continues with Shaw as a throughline from X-Men to Marauders. It’s so cool to see the connections between the X-Books as they blossom into SF realpolitik thrillers instead of the usual superhero fare. Marauder #3’s only key blemish is its art, which has some slick character costume designs and landscapes for the Hellfire Bay, but falters in the emotional storytelling department probably due to the biweekly schedule. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy
Excalibur #3 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To combine fantasy action (Jubilee’s son Shogo is a dragon in Otherworld.) with some sharp characterization as Betsy Braddock struggles with her new mantle of Captain Britain, Gambit basically misses Rogue like crazy, and Rictor rejects the call to Krakoa, but may end up an unwitting pawn in Apocalypse’s schemes. Erick Arciniega’s colors are the special sauce that make Otherworld look different from the human world or even Krakoa, and there is a tone of derring do, magic, and high drama in these scenes as Betsy fights Brian and sees nothing in his eyes. However, Excalibur isn’t a straightforward magical fantasy book with Howard and To crafting plenty of intrigue towards the beginning and end of the comic as well as in the diagrams leading to a final page that creates another obstacle for the team. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: 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 (**).
The toxic culture of masculinity has lead to society swiftly blaming the victim. Media pundits and social media always focus on the “extenuating circumstances.” The sheer ignorance and closed-mindedness show how severe the degree of devaluation of women, and even more so female victims, that society at large has accepted. What makes it worse is that many of the detractors are also women. This blind devotion to the patriarchy is distressing. As was illustrated in 2016 in politics, it’s chronically symptomatic of a societal attitude, as many women voters during the last presidential election questioned whether Hillary Clinton was fit to be President. Many voters cited an outdated reason, “She would let emotions rule her decisions” as a reason to not support her.
This philosophy only aggregates the belief that women should not speak up. Progress much like the arc of justice that Dr. King spoke about is slow but sure. Platforms such as social media have continued to spotlight these atrocities. Men like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein are being exposed while the actions and behaviors like those of Louis CK and Kevin Spacey are now being pronounced as unacceptable. Genre fiction like Handmaid’s Tale shows the effects of ugly patriarchal beliefs. The Twilight Zone‘s recent “Not All Men” took a horror take on how evil this behavior is. In the Simeone Brothers’ Eve Of Extinction, they make a similar take, but this time the ugliness of toxic masculinity turns men into actual monsters.
The story leans into some horror tropes as women are pursued by monsters, in this case men who turn into them. It’s an extinction type event as every man has changed attacking those around them. It’s a fight for survival in this allegorical and timely tale. It’s familiar but has a nice layered spin to it.
Overall, an outstanding entry in the dystopian horror genre, one that is unique and compelling than any in recent memory. The story by the Simeone Brothers is pulse-pounding and well developed. The art by the creative team is awe-inspiring and kudos to them for drawing a realistic description of Vitiligo, a common condition that is rarely depicted in comics. Altogether, a timely and exciting story that gives readers protagonists they would fight alongside any day.
Story: Salvatore A. Simeone and Steve Simeone Art: Isaac Goodheart, Nik Virella, Ruth Redmond, Maria Nguyen, and Ariana Maher Story: 9.7 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy
As powerful a behemoth the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, it cannot be understated how much it has changed the way we look at heroes. The mere reverberations that Avengers: Endgame has had on our collective consciousness is both heartbreaking and eye-opening. The movie showed the world that heroes may be superpowered but mortal. The movie killed three of the most impactful entities of the MCU to that point, leaving audiences in a gasp and many in tears.
This was not the first time the MCU had fans in tears and it probably won’t be the last. It’s the first time I remember seeing a heartfelt story onscreen was Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow. The movie centers around the children of the Avengers in a dystopian future. It’s a world where Ultron has killed all their parents. The movie asks a very important question, “Have you prepared your children for a life without you?” Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta’s thought-provoking Sentient is a similar premise to that animated movie and explores that very question.
We’re taken to the USS Montgomery a ship that houses a crew and their family along with artificial intelligence, Valeria, that watches over them. Separatists dissent on the Earth colony has the Space Navy and the Montgomery sees betrayal among its own. Post tragedy, the story shifts to one of survival as the surviving children of the Montgomery must learn to function in a ship without their parents and adapt to their new situation. It’s a story of survival in the physical and emotional sense.
Sentient is a truly original science fiction story that borrows traces of Lord of the Flies and Bicentennial Man infused with the human journey to beat insurmountable odds. The story by Lemire is heartfelt, harrowing, and redemptive. The art by Walta, Wands, Fletcher, and Powell is superb. Altogether, a story that shows the answer to the question, that if you can ever prepare your children for the unthinkable and to trust that you that your nurture leads to their better natures.
Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Gabriel Walta, Steve Wands, Jared K Fletcher, and Jeff Powell Story: 10 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy