Category Archives: Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 8/6

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.

 

Ryan C

Redlands_01-1Redlands #1 (Image)** – Not sure what to make of this one yet. On the one hand, Vanessa R. Del Rey’s free-flowing and expressive artwork is gorgeous, and Jordie Bellaire’s colors are always top-notch. It’s as a writer, however, that Bellaire clearly has something of a learning curve ahead of her — plunging us into the middle of the action right off the bat, we never learn many of the characters’ names, have no clue as to their motivations, and frankly, beyond some sort of siege on a redneck sheriff’s station, we don’t even get much of an idea of what’s going on, never mind why. The creators seem to have an admirable agenda that they’re working towards here, but they have a long way to go to get readers invested in it and at $3.99 a pop, I simply wasn’t given a clear enough idea of the basic premise of this comic to justify sticking with it. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass.

 The Divided States Of Hysteria #3 (Image)** – Whoever’s still left reading Howard Chaykin’s latest will find this installment to be something of a bummer as very little happens by means of plot progression, and all we get is a re-hash of the few particulars we already know. Okay, everyone’s a bastard — we get that much. Beyond that, all this issue does is run in place. Still love Chaykin’s art and Ken Bruzenak’s one-of-a-kind lettering and effects, though. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Buy if you’ve come this far, pass if you haven’t.

Unholy Grail #2 (Aftershock)** – I’m really digging Cullen Bunn and Mirko Colak’s revisionist take on the Arthurian legend, and like the first issue, this one successfully “time-jumps” around to fill us in on all the particulars in a breezy, rapid-fire manner. Colak’s lavish artwork is definitely the star of the show here, but the script does what it needs to in order to maintain your interest, as well. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy.

Grass Kings #6 (Boom! Studios)** – Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins wrap up the first arc of their series in fine style as the showdown between our drop-outs and local law enforcement comes to a head, with potentially far-reaching consequences for all parties involved. There’s some great character development in this issue, and Kindt delivers at least one genuinely touching moment, all aided and abetted by Jenkins’ gorgeous and moody watercolor art. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.

Patrick

 Kill Or Be Killed #11 (Image)** – And here we are, right back where we came in, with the fight in #1. Although our guy Dylan is trying to get his life back together, get back on his meds, catch up on his schoolwork, go to a party with his ex, his demon just won’t let him be. Nothing spectacular, just a solid issue that sets up the third arc quite nicely. Overall: 8 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 8/6

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

Generations Banner Hulk & Totally Awesome Hulk #1 (Marvel) If this is how the rest of the Generations series goes, I’ll happily continue to ignore it. An utterly pointless comic that either suffers from Secret Empire not actually being over or from being the beginning of a poor emulation of DC’s Rebirth. Save yourself some money and walk away from this – I’d have been furious if I’d have plonked down money for this, but instead I’m merely miffed that I’ve wasted my time reading a review copy. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Ryan C

HadriansWall_08-1Hadrian’s Wall #8 (Image)** – Having wrapped up the “whodunnit?” portion of their story in this series’ penultimate issue, Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Bill Sienkiew — sorry, Rod Reis — focus on the personal side of things for their highly satisfying, lavishly-illustrated conclusion. The result? A comic that definitely exits on a very high note indeed. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Black Bolt #4 (Marvel)** – Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward take a side-step with this issue into the backstory of Crusher Creel, as told from his point of view, and it’s absolutely awesome. Gorgeous art, compelling characterization, razor-sharp dialogue, and a gut-punch of an ending that shows just how much of a bastard our ostensible “hero” can be. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #28 (DC)** – You knew the good times wouldn’t last, and with this segment of “The War Of Jokes And Riddles,” Tom King slides back into the kind of rudderless, slipshod writing that’s characterized far too much of his run on this book to date. Gorgeous art from Mikel Janin with innovative layouts and stirring action sequences aren’t enough to save this sorry installment of a storyline that suddenly seems in danger of completely going off the rails. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Elsewhere #1 (Image)** – Jay Faerber and Sumeyye Kesgin appear to have a winner on their hands if the first issue of their immediately-charming “Amelia Earhart washes up in cosmic fantasyland” story is anything to go by. Quick, pacy,and fun storytelling with spot-on characterization and lushly-rendered art makes for a very compelling opening salvo indeed, and I can’t wait to see where this one goes from here. Killer cliffhanger, too! Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

nick fury 5 comic.jpgShean

Nick Fury #5 (Marvel)– Vacation time is usually a signal to most people for some respite and relaxation. Not so much for spies, as their minds stay working most rooms as is the case with Fury in this issue. As he is ordered to take a vacation, everything is not what it seems. As his bosses have sent him to a town where everyone, and I mean everyone is an assassin, even the little kids, as this issue proves despite the faults that Marvel has enacted on other books and characters, they know exactly what to do with Fury and how to do it right. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

Stray Bullets #26 (Image/El Capitan)** – Just like clockwork, when you think that a) things can’t get any worse and b) you can never like these horrible characters, David Lapham comes up with the goods. It never feels forced; Kretchmeyer and Annie really are the worst, but their characters are so clear and they are so obviously in way over their heads that a crazy humanity shines through. Kretch: “I always have this nagging feeling… that I’m doing something wrong.” Annie: “I never feel that way.” OH, DAMN. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

StrayBulletsSNR_26-1Sex Criminals #20 (Image)** – Even when they don’t succeed, Fraction & Zdarsky are always trying something. But I think two things are getting in my way these days: their formal experiments and their plotting. I have the feeling that both of these things are being laid on top of what are very strong and interesting characters and a very necessary theme. What Dr. Kincaid says is, I think, true of this book as well: the creators are spending so much time chasing a “that” when all I really want is for it to be about “us”. When Matt and Chip just spend time with the actual human beings in the book, they are really brilliant. But they can’t seem to resist undercutting their own humanity with corny jokes and their need for “plot” and “action”. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

 Love and Rockets #3 (Fantagraphics)** – And here I thought Jaime had nothing more to say about the old punk days in Hoppers, and now all I want is more stories about Del Chimney and the Island of Lost Souls. His take on superheroes in “Animus” is breathtaking, like old black and white Mara Corday movies. There’s something so weird and pure about it, just moving from one strange confrontation to the next – but his figure drawing is so grounded, his characters have such actual weight, that what could be just cartoonish becomes really horrific. On the Beto side, it looks like all of his Baby and Fritz stories are leading us back to Palomar, and none too soon for my tastes. Where Jaime’s characters are grounded, Beto’s seem to be floating; but that’s not exactly a weakness, either. It feels to me like there’s a cord that’s been cut, that the characters are bereft and mournful – and that the last panel in this issue, Baby and Rosario in silhouette, holding hands and walking away, is the most real thing Beto’s drawn in a while. Overall: 8 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/29

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.

Ryan C

black hammer 11.jpgBlack Hammer #11 (Dark Horse)** – Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston deliver a sparse but hearbreaking/warming tale of Barbalien’s tortured past and Golden Gail’s tortured present, and while this issue lacks the shocking “big reveals” the last few have, it’s nevertheless a very poignant story, beautifully illustrated. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Rebels: These Free And Independent States #5 (Dark Horse)** – Brian Wood and Andrea Mutti wrap up the story of John Abbott in a way that’s so satisfactory, it’s a veritable comic book storytelling clinic. A happy ending never felt so good — and it looks just as good as it reads. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Secret Empire #7 (Marvel)** – Hmmmm, so Miles Morales’ prophetic “vision” finally comes true, a major character is killed off (for now, you know it won’t last), and Sam Wison re-emerges as Captain America. By all respects, this should be a “big” issue, but it sure doesn’t feel like one. That’s no fault of Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis, both of whom do a solid job on art, but damn, is Nick Spencer’s script flat and inherently anti-climactic. Get this thing over with already, please. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass

‘Namwolf #4 (Albatross)** – A solid, if unspectacular, conclusion to Fabian Rangle Jr. and Logan Foerber’s infectiously likable absurdist four-parter ties up all loose ends with relative ease while leaving things open to a potential sequel, should sales warrant it. Fun, colorful, goofy and gory stuff that’s thoroughly predictable, but no less enjoyable for that fact. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

Captain Canuck Season 3 #1 (Chapterhouse) – So Captain Canuck has retired for reasons and returned to a reserve in central Manitoba to be a hero on a micro-local scale. Very interesting and welcome for writer Kalman Andrasofszky to point out the horrible conditions on many Canadian Native reserves, and for suggesting that Tom would be in the running for band leader. More of this, please! But on the other hand, we then have some kind of alien “incursion” or something that’s tearing up Toronto for reasons? I get that you’ve got to do your plot, but I’m more convinced than ever that plot is mostly boring and no substitute for characters being active agents in their own stories. The only choices Andrasofszky leaves Canuck are to resist (unconvincingly) or to accept the mission – but not until after a few first-we-fight-then-we-team-up pages with Northguard. Leonard Kirk’s art is great as usual. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Freelance #4 (Chapterhouse) – So Lance’s past is supposed to be all mysterious and stuff? Yeah, okay, I’ll go with that. Here we get another riff on the old “you were born to rule the humans” trope: superior man-god from a lost civilization/dimension who has fallen in love with humanity, or, in this case, the twist is that Lance is in love with one Fantomah-_1_1024x1024man in particular. Which is nice to see in a mainstream-type comic, of course. But I’d like to see this series be a bit more freewheeling and really deliver on its premise of globetrotting adventure. Vaneda Vireak & Cindy Leong’s art still looks rushed to me and I wonder if they consider that a bug or a feature. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Fantomah #1 (Chapterhouse) – When you decide to serve up a new version of a Fletcher Hanks character, I expect off-the-rails crazy. SPOILER ALERT: This is not, not one iota, crazy. So what are Ray Fawkes and Soo Lee serving up? It looks like an L.A.-based revenge tragedy, with none of the Mystery Woman of the Jungle stuff. Rather, it looks like we’re going to get a take on La Muerte because L.A. and skull-face woman. Or – as next issue is “The Weeping Woman” – is it La Llorona? Some kind of mishmash of the two? In any case, it falls between the cracks for me – there’s not enough going on either externally or, in the case of its main character Paz Gallegos, internally, to be a really effective revenge tragedy. And Soo Lee’s art depicts L.A. as curiously quiet and empty, with figure work that is neither slick enough to be really mainstream nor rough enough to be really alternative. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

 The Pitiful Human-Lizard #14 (Chapterhouse)** – Now this is how it’s done. If you haven’t read #13, go back and get it – the entire thing happens on a streetcar heading home, and our hero is asleep for like, half of it. Amazing. In this issue, we are with Lady Accident, a telekinetic teacher, battling the evil that is Toronto Twittersphere star Eaton Peepers (nice!) – who is trying to keep his henchman Bodyrocks in the fold, though Johnny is looking for redemption. Mayhem ensues. Pitiful Human-Lizard is the best thing coming out of Chapterhouse, and it’s entirely the work of writer/artist Jason Loo, who brings humanity and good humour to the streets of Toronto. Get on this streetcar, people: it’s a delight, like the best old Spider-Man stories. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Time & Vine #1 (IDW)** – Full disclosure, Thomas F. Zahler and I were high school pen pals, like, through the actual mail, sending each other comics stuff. We lost track of each other while he was at the Kubert School and I was abandoning comics for theatre. I was still not back into comics while Love and Capes was coming out (but I’ll fix that soon enough), but I was curious to see what my old pen pal was up to lately. Time & Vine has a really fun premise: time-travelling wine cellar. Basically: there’s a winery in upstate New York where, if you drink from one of Jack Cadell’s special bottles, you go back to the year of its vintage – but always in the winery. His latest companion is teacher Megan Howe, who is dealing with her mother’s recent onset of Alzheimer’s. Zahler’s premise is sweet, the dialogue is sharp, and the characters are charming in a kind of PBS drama kind of way. I would have liked the art to be less cartoony as a result, but your mileage may vary. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: check it out. 

 

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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/22

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.

Ryan C

RoyalCity_05-1Royal City #5 (Image)** – Jeff Lemire wraps up the first story arc of his long-form series with an issue that’s an almost unconscionably quick read given its $3.99 cover price, but the biggest blunder comes with the poorly-executed and clumsy double-cliffhanger, which actually serves up the most surprising revelation first and then follows it up with one that you already saw coming. Still, the art’s lush and beautiful, and the story at least moves all the major plotlines forward. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Winnebago Graveyard #2 (Image)** – The second issue of Steve Niles and Alison Sampson’s fast-moving homage to ’70s cult horror is every bit as masterful an evocation of its various “source materials” as was the first, and while you can predict every beat in the story, who are we kidding? That’s a big part of the charm here. Granted, as sparse as the script is chances are this thing should simply have been released as a 64-page special (or, if you absolutely must pump the public for cash, a graphic novel), but Sampson’s art is so flabbergastingly gorgeous that I’m more than happy to shell out for bucks a pop for it in singles. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

 Jimmy’s Bastards #2 (Aftershock)** – Garth Ennis and Russ Braun are the definition of a “known quantity” creative team at this point, and if you like their brand of irreverent, bordering-on-sick-and-wrong humor and cartoonishly exaggerated, but still very much grounded in reality, illustration, odds are you’ll get a kick out of this story about a James Bond stand-in being hunted down by his literally hundreds of illegitimate kids. Personally, I do like it, and so I’m having all kinds of guilty-pleasure fun here, especially since this issue kick-starts the plot into gear much better than the first did. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #27 (DC)** – It seems pretty early on for “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” to need an “interlude,” as this issue bills itself as being, but whaddya know — once again Tom King shows that his stand-alone stories in this series are so much better than his long-form “arcs.” The origin of Kite-Man is far from the joke one would expect, and King deftly handles some very sensitive and tragic subject matter with genuine skill and compassion — and that double-splash with The Joker saying “good grief” is the biggest laugh we’ve gotten from any Batman book in decades. Fill-in artist Clay Mann, for his part, does a pretty nice job with a style of illustration that falls somewhere in between that of the the series’ two regulars, David Finch and Mikel Janin. All in all a great read that’s nice to look at. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

IHateFairyland_14-1 I Hate Fairyland #14 (Image)** – Skottie Young is back on story and art, sending Gert into the labyrinth of Loveth Lovelord to retrieve the Balls of Redemption. If she succeeds (naturally, defeating the dragon at the centre), she gets her wish to become good. If she fails, she marries the creeptastic LL. Along the way, she also makes any number of marriage deals and indeed faces a dragon. This issue just clocks along with a cocky skip in its step and is great, sour-candy fun. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Lazarus X+66 #1 (Image)** – This is the first in what I take to be a series of standalone issues that explore Greg Rucka’s very complex world. Good idea! In this story, Rucka and artist Steve Lieber deliver the story of Casey Solomon’s training to be an ultra-elite Dagger. It’s a very solid basic training story, and Lieber does a great job on the art, but if you didn’t know it existed in the Lazarusverse, you would think it was taking place in today’s mundane reality. In that sense, although it adds a bit to Casey’s story, it doesn’t follow through on the promise of exploring and expanding the world. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Bitch Planet Triple Feature #2 (Image)** – As I thought, the second issue of this anthology feature finds its feet: as Kelly Sue DeConnick points out, the tone is not “mercilessly bleak” but ROBOCOP. And I will always buy that for a dollar. Real quick: Che Grayson and Sharon Lee De La Cruz bring us the “Miss Tween Neck Competition” – but what price victory? And what other very precise anatomical competitions are also going on?… In “This is Good for You,” Danielle Henderson, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt make a very sharp link between “self-care,” “family values,” and “compliance.” And anchoring the pack, Jordan Clark and Naomi Franquiz’ “What’s Love Got To Do With it” brings us the story of Amaya, a nurse who, upon turning 30, needs to avoid the Old Maid Tax, receiving for her birthday a literal Biological Clock. This issue is the one you’ve been looking for, Kelly Sue. Overall: 6.5, 8, and 9. Recommendation: Buy

 Bettie Page #1 (Dynamite)** – The premise is that we are reading the secret diary of Bettie Page, who in 1951, in exchange for a lift to Hollywood, became a federal agent. Writer David Avallone gives us a tough-as-nails, sharp-as-a-tack Bettie, and Colton Worley nicely captures her look. But otherwise, it’s a bog-standard story of a secret cult plot that takes way too long to develop and does not otherwise require the presence of its protagonist. When you have an iconic character on your hands, I think you can do a lot more with it. Mostly it made me want to go back and watch Mary Harron’s excellent Notorious Bettie Page. Well-made and professional but missing heart and spark. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read 

 

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

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/15

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

SpiderMenII-Turner-aSpider-Men II #1 (Marvel) When the first Spider-Men came out I was reading a lot of Spider-Man comics, but I have since dropped off from the series (a couple years ago, actually). Still, I wanted to see whether we’d finally find out who the Marvel 616 version of Miles Morales is, so I picked this issue up  –  and I’m glad I did. This comic was entertaining, enjoyable, and almost without any real substance. I loved it in the way you like a movie you can turn your brain off and not have to think too hard. Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

X-Men Blue #7 (Marvel) You know sometimes you read a comic, kinda enjoy it, but then you kinda don’t because you don’t give a shit about the event it’s tying into? That’s exactly how I felt about this comic. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

George

DDCAST_Cv1_ds V3Dark Days: The Casting #1 (DC) I was really impressed with the the first part of this storyline, so naturally I was a bit let down with this one just being more of the same plot advancements that could have been put into the first issue. The artwork is still solid and there are a nice couple of bits but DC really just stretched this for another 4.99. I would get it for the art but story wise nothing that wasn’t really covered in the first part.

Christopher

Dept H #16 (Dark Horse) Writer and Artist: Matt Kindt Dark Horse Mia’s early life and her relationship with her father. How she learned more about him through interviews and journals than by spending time with him. Along with revealing how Roger and Mia’s father met in the process. Which does leave one to wonder given how complicated Mia’s relationship with her seems, why is she so intent on catching the killer. Is it to get justice, or to thank them for freeing her from her father’s shadow? Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

dept h 16Grass Kings #5 (Boom! Studios)** – The shit begins to hit the fan in the fifth issue of Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ family drama set in a breakaway, “off-the-grid” community, and while it’s certainly exciting and visually interesting, a poorly-timed composite flashback/present-day “mash-up” scenario at the end that features actions that don’t quite line up with each other dulls the impact somewhat and places this installment just a notch below the previous four. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #2 (Dark Horse)** – Speaking of “off-the-grid,” the second issue of the second arc in Brian Wood and Mack Chater’s long-form series sees the walls begin to close in around the separatist Briggs clan as a de facto hostage situation turns into a lot more than anyone bargained for once the feds get involved. Chater’s art is a bit more generic in its appearance this time out, but it’s still more than solid, as is Wood’s pacy, dynamic script. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

World Reader #4 (Aftershock)** – Jeff Loveness’ script gets out of the way and lets Juan Doe’s amazing, borderline-psychedelic art do the bulk of the storytelling in this issue, as we finally meet a “psychic survivor” of sorts from the genocidal intergalactic force that’s been wiping out all life on one planet after another. The book takes all of about five minutes to read, but it’s worth going back and looking at time and time again to fully absorb the gorgeous images. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Divided States Of Hysteria #2 (Image)** – Howard Chaykin’s been getting more Briggs_Land_Lone_Wolves_2Apublicity than at any point since the early days of “American Flagg!” with this one, and while most of it has been understandably negative (that sickening, since-pulled cover was the very definition of “not a good idea”), it’s also beginning to look like both “camps” in the controversy surrounding this series are wrong. There was no gang-rape of a transgender woman last issue — in fact, she killed everybody trying to abuse her before they could — while at the same time, the right-wingers who were bitching about the cover to the first issue, which featured a Muslim woman in a red-white-and-blue burqa, were eager to defend the aforementioned no-longer-forthcoming cover to issue four, which featured a lynched Pakistani man with his balls cut off.

So, ya know, these fuckheads are pretty much as racist as we always knew they were.

In any case, at the end of the day, it seems that Chaykin played both sides like a fiddle in a move that would make “B-movie” huckster William Castle proud. This time out we finally get to see the ties that bind our disgraced former CIA operative and the various serial/spree killers together, as Chaykin sets up his ultra-violent, non-super-powered “Suicide Squad” premise more fully. The art is noisy, cluttered, and ugly — as it’s supposed to be — but all my fellow leftists who walked away from this comic after last month (assuming they ever read it at all) are missing out on a pointed critique of the privatized, for-profit prison system, the mercenary-for-hire industry exemplified by the likes of Erik Prince’s notorious Blackwater, and the racism and Islamophobia that Trump rode all the way to the White House. This book’s politics are worn openly and proudly on its sleeve, and I have to admit I get a chuckle imagining all the “alt-righters” who have flocked to Chaykin in recent days and weeks having their blood pressure raised when they actually sit down to read his story. There’s some sort of method to all this madness, and while it hasn’t revealed itself fully yet, it’s fascinating to watch it all unfold. And Ken Bruzenak is just plain killing it and earning every dime (and then some) with his awesomely garish lettering and effects.

world reader 4.jpegI can sympathize with those who were offended by that cover that was probably never going to come out anyway (although I do have to wonder what these outraged individuals would make of the work of Johnny Ryan, S. Clay Wilson, Mike Diana, and even Crumb — seriously, people, read some undergrounds, it’ll broaden your horizons!), but there’s a “sweet spot” that’s being hit here for what few left-leaning readers of this comic remain : this is confrontational, in-your-face, unflinching stuff that effectively rebukes every single politically conservative position it takes aim at. In vintage Chaykin style, he’s managed to piss off all his allies and fleece all his true foes. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that I admire that by any means, but his willingness to stand alone takes some guts, that’s for sure. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.

Shean

The Defenders #3 ( Marvel) – We catch up with the gang shortly after an attempt by Diamondback to kill Luke Cage, whose confrontation was disturbed by Punisher. They slowly look for answers on the Punisher’s motivation while Diamondback questions Black Cat’s reason for saving Luke.They soon catch up with the Punisher, who gets close but are stopped by the Defenders. By issues end, Iron Fist gets into a fight with Diamondback and finds a supreme opponent. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

defenders3Black Panther and the Crew #4 (Marvel) – In this issue, we get a flashback and a catch up for readers. In the flashback, the OG Crew, deals with some unsavory characters in Mississippi, as they say struggle with having Northern sensibilities in Jim Crow South. In the present day story, Luke Cage and Misty Knight look for answers about the mysterious corporation who runs Americops and where their true interests lie. By issue’s end, both generations of the Crew meet, and what could happen next probably will be the game changer. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

Kill or Be Killed #10 (Image)** – Following hard on last issue’s massive cock-up, we find out from Ed Brubaker in one simple phrase how Dylan keeps getting away with murder: “They were too busy trying to be super-cops.” What’s fascinating to me about this series is how the noose keeps getting slowly tighter even as the actions of the cast of characters get looser, and good intentions are continually translated into really bad ideas. Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser give us a rainy, grey cemetery of an issue on the art right until the explosion of hellfire-framed-in-white on the last page. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Cinema Purgatorio #11 (Avatar)** – Moore & O’Neill give us a movie musical version of the Black Dahlia murder (and very few comics writers do musical comics as well as Alan Moore). I could go for more of this, as I start to wonder what if Fox had made musicals of its films noir (as, despite the “My Fair Dahlia” title, this is not MGM). In “Code Pru”, we get a good look at the boss, who is even more monstrous than any of Pru’s patients. There’s a mystery brewing as to the circumstances and purposes of Pru’s job, but she seems to be too pissed off at her situation to see it… And over in cinema 3 of this multiplex, “Modded” goes shopping, but Fringe is more chosen than choosing. And just what is chainsaw rhythm reggae action? “… the daemonatrix lingo is more about exciting nouns than actual descriptive content.” But I’ll take exciting nouns over boring adverbs any day. (As usual, I skipped “A More Perfect Union” – if these guys would give me a straight history of the Civil War, I’d be interested – and “The Vast”, which is about boring adverbs in comics form). Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Mage: The Hero Denied #0 (Image)** – Matt Wagner returns to the adventures of Kevin Matchstick for one last series. This is a fun preview (featuring oh-so-90’s skateboarding warrior “The Steeze” – who Matchstick winkingly refers to as “youngblood” before sending him home). I have a weakness for heroes who can just do what they do without a lot of posing and wasted energy (must be my own middle age showing), and if Kevin does have better things to do with his time than fight stone-ogres, I’m very curious to know what they are. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

kajumax s3 1Kaijumax Season 3 #1 (Oni Press)** – Zander Cannon continues to amaze with a heartfelt, humorous, horrible monster story that starts with a cabin in the woods, takes what appears to be a long detour through the story of a poor, put-upon giant goat, gets lost near a mysterious lake in Minnesota and then – oh my Goj – comes together and sets up the rest of the story in a great twist. Get on this. Overall: 9.5 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/8

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.

 


 

Ryan C

unsound2The Unsound #2 (Boom! Studios)** – I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue of Cullen Bunn and Jack T. Cole’s horrific take on Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” but the second sees the story take a rather dramatic leap forward that feels more forced by pacing concerns than it is achieved through anything like a natural transition. We’ll see where it goes, though, since it’s not a “deal-breaker” by any means and Cole’s art remains absolutely gorgeous. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Green Arrow #26 (DC)** – Hmmm — Ollie hits the road with a fellow super-hero in tow : where have we heard this one before? The Flash steps — sorry, runs — into the role formerly occupied by Green Lantern in this one, but lackluster story and art from Benjamin Percy and Stephen Byrne ensure that nobody will be forgetting about Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams anytime soon. Overall: 4.5 Recommendation: Pass

Babyteeth #2 (Aftershock)** – Another agreeable (if far from memorable) installment in Donny Cates and Garry Brown’s new “Teen Mom” meets “The Omen” horror series is equally divided between moving the story forward at a natural rhythm and forcing some long-range foreshadowing into the proceedings, which actually succeeds at what it’s trying to do reasonably well despite the fact that it probably shouldn’t. Brown’s art remains pitch-perfect for the content and Cates’ characterization is strong enough to keep this reader on the hook for at least a bit longer. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Snotgirl #6 (Image) – It took a long time for Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung’s somewhat surreal series to grow on me, given that it sure reads more like what 40-year-olds think 20-something fashion bloggers live like rather than it does anything like how they actually live, but if you can get over the absurdity of both the premise and the protagonist’s economic situation (how many people in the entire country make their living running independent fashion blogs? Maybe three? Yet there are more than that in LA alone according to this book), the cartoony art and intriguing mystery of the story should be enough to keep you around. Some new additions to the supporting cast throw a welcome spanner into the works and despite a lengthy hiatus, it seems that neither of our creators has lost their enthusiasm for this project in the least. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy

Alex

unholy grail 1.jpgBatman #26 (DC) Not a bad issue, when all is said and done, Tom King seems to be building slowly toward what will hopefully be an explosive story. As a build up issue this isn’t bad and carries the momentum of the previous issue (for better or for worse) forward… but all I really want to read is the follow up to Batman #24, not an in-the-past-cstory. . Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

All New Wolverine #22 (Marvel) I don’t read as many things with the Guardians of the Galaxy as I probably should, because I always enjoy when they show up in other comics. Like this one. While I felt that they were the highlight, it was more to do with Gabby and Jonathan interacting with Rocket and Groot. As the first part in a three issue arc, it’s good enough to have me coming back for more. Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Unholy Grail #1 (Aftershock)* I picked this up purely because my LCS told me I may like it, but other than knowing it might be up my alley, I had no idea what the comic was about. King Arthur has always been a good way to hook me into the idea of a story, but I’m often picky when it comes to giving said story a try,so much so that had I known this was a tale based around Camelot I may have skipped it entirely  (I believe Bernard Cornwall has written the definitive take on the legend), but I’m glad I gave it a shot. The art is brilliant, and Cullen Bunn has written a deeply atmospheric tale, the extent of which hasn’t been fully revealed yet. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

Stray Bullets #25 (Image/El Capitan)** – Flashback to a flashback. When heavy Spanish calexit-1Scott tells cool psycho Kretchmeyer “sometimes you’ve got to get your hands a little dirty,” he has no idea what he’s talking about. As always, David Lapham is a master of letting his characters do what’s absolutely worst for them even though they themselves think they’re on top of everything. And as we hit 700 pages (!) of “Sunshine and Roses,” every layer we peel off these characters just proves that old pulp hack Shakespeare right: “The worst is not so long as we can say, ‘This is the worst’.” Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

 Calexit #1 (Black Mask) – Political thrillers and near-future dystopias are really tricky: for me, the barriers to suspension of disbelief are very high. You have to get the details balanced just right in order for the push into fiction to really send us flying off the rails. Push too hard and it means that you weren’t where you needed to be at the start. In short, Matteo Pizzolo has way too much pushing to do to justify the premise of Calexit. I mean, on page 1, he has President Trump speaking in complete sentences using words with two or more syllables. I buy Trump getting re-elected, but his syntax is egregiously mishandled and broke my trust in just a few panels. Never mind that we then get a psycho torturer guy with creepy glasses (who apparently also can order National Guard privates to commit atrocities) and a Steve Bannon lookalike who is not Steve Bannon. Which is too bad, because I think if Pizzolo and artist Amancay Nahuelpan had stuck with the very charming rogue character of Jamil, the amoral courier with a heart of gold, I would have been down for anything. Clearly Nahuelpan loves drawing this guy because he has the only genuine expressions and body language in a book that is full of caricature. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #7 (Archie) – I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this dreadful delight. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack bring us the tale of Sabrina’s father, Edward Spellman – and it is just about as perfect as I can imagine an American horror comic to be, with just the right blend of sly and clever humour (the three witches in the hairdresser salon killed me) and actual horror. Robert Hack’s scratchy art (I take it he colors as well) reminds me of Hammer films and 60’s and 70’s paperback covers. This issue is a great jumping-on point and I am jumping on. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Deadpool_Kills_The_Marvel_Universe_Again_Walsh_CvrDeadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again #1 (Marvel) – In the debut issue of the sequel to one of the craziest series in 2012, returns with Deadpool being mind controlled once again to kill Marvel’s superhero roster. This time, he is being mind controlled by a team of villains that seem to have a few motives in play. His connection as an Uncanny Avenger has given him unfettered access to places where most villains can’t go, so his first victims, are 2 of his teammates. By the end of this first issue, we find out he has enough control to ask for help but not enough to stop killing. Overall: 9 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/1

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.

 


 

Ryan C

namwolf 1 ‘Namwolf #3 (Albatross)** – More goofy, cartoony madness from Fabian Rangel Jr. and Logan Faerber that breezily moves the story along with a minimal amount of dialogue, but plenty of gorgeously colorful art to feast your eyes on. An insubstantial read, but a fun one nevertheless, that sets things up quite nicely for next month’s conclusion. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Read

No Angel #4 (Black Mask)** – Eric Palicki, Adrianne Palicki, and Ari Syahrazad put the wraps on their wildly up-and-down series (at least for now, we’ll see what happens) with another decidedly “down” installment that features a lackluster final battle, trite bow-wrapping, and rushed-looking art — all in service of a limp cliffhanger that sets up a sequel that’s probably not going to coming down the pike anytime soon. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass

Elektra #5 (Marvel)** – Speaking of lackluster concluding chapters that set up sequels few (if anyone) cares about, that’s precisely what Matt Owens and Juann Cabal have served up here. Who’s the real brains behind Murderworld? Prepare to be underwhelmed by that “revelation.” I enjoyed Cabal’s approximation of Jamie McKelvie’s art style, but other than that, shit — this mini-series went very far downhill, very fast. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass

Rebels: These Free And Independent States #4 (Dark Horse) – Protagonist John Abbott has a date with the War Of 1812 in the penultimate chapter of this latest arc in Brian Wood and Andrea Mutti’s “historical epic of America’s founding,” but to say things don’t go particularly smoothly for him is an understatement of staggering proportions. Another superb installment in this gripping, beautifully-illustrated historical drama that will have you on pins and needles waiting for the conclusion. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

beautiful canvas 1Beautiful Canvas #1 (Black Mask)  Okay, this comic has a lot of things I like: a badass take no shit hitwoman as a main character, a queer romance, well-choreographed action from artist Sami Kivela, and a splash of color from Triona Farrell. It’s like eating a dish with great ingredients that don’t mesh into a coherent, tasty eating experience. The main character, Lon, is definitely well-defined, but Ryan K Lindsay and Kivela jump around so often that it’s hard to get a read on the supporting cast. It’s like they’re trying to out David Lynch David Lynch at times. Maybe, I’ll give this one a second try when it’s out in trade. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

 

Patrick

The Dregs #4 (Black Mask)** – Writers Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler and artists Eric Zawadski (pencils, inks & letters) and Dee Cunniffe (colors) wrap up their story as Marlowe crashes the line at La Mancha, Vancouver’s trendiest new restaurant. In true noir fashion, Marlowe knows the truth, the bad guys know Marlowe knows, and it doesn’t make one iota of a difference. Except of course to Marlowe himself. The Dregs is a horror-filled take on gentrification which presents no solutions and no victories, only a kind of madness that makes the quixotic tilt at the windmill the only act of heroism possible. Arnold – Marlowe to me – is crazy, but I love this character and his world, and I would love to see him return. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Black Magick #6 (Image)** – As promised, Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are back to show us who and what Rowan Black is up against. The first issue of the new arc takes us back to Rowan’s 13th birthday ceremony, where she awakens to the memory of all of her past lives – a very long and painful memory indeed. I love a good character study, and it was nice to see Rowan as a kid wrestling hard with the problem of how to do no harm in a world that seems to make special efforts to harm her and her family. Trying to figure out why to live by a code of justice that only seems to apply to her while letting the rest of the world off scot-free. Her mother’s assurances on that score ring absolutely hollow and are immediately proven to be objectively wrong (I won’t give it away) in a way that takes us out of character study and right back into the story we left off. Excellent work all around – I especially adored Nicola Scott’s portrayal of three generations of Black women, all individuals but at the same time clearly mothers and daughters. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

TPP_1_1024x1024True Patriot Presents #5 (Chapterhouse)** – Happy Canada Day, everyone! Chapterhouse serves up the latest installment of their anthology series. Red Ensign is a wartime Canadian hero with no special powers, much like Johnny Canuck. (The red ensign was the name of an unofficial Canadian flag used until we got our own flag in 1965). This is the opening chapter of a black and white movie serial featuring Nazi scientists and atomic secrets. Fun. Arrowhead is my favourite thing in the entire Chapterverse (the Avro Arrow was a 1960’s-era Canadian-made fighter jet, supposedly the most advanced plane in the world, and was never put into production for mysterious reasons). Here, a famous UFO sighting turns out to be a time traveller from the far future. Super fun! Dominion Jack is the daughter of the original (the official name of our home and native land was the Dominion of Canada, and July 1 was Dominion Day until 1982). This is a paint-by-numbers superhero-fights-supervillains-in-superjail story, with a standard melodramatic reveal. Crude is a tarsands monster, but it’s been several issues since we last saw it, and I completely forgot what this story was supposed to be about. Not that it was anything more than a Swamp-Thing-of-Fort McMurray (capital city of the Alberta oil sands). Nothing new, or even horror-genre-standard in either the writing or the art. Finally, the Family Dynamic, which stands out here as the only non-specifically Canadian heroes. They are elemental types in an okay superheroic story – but when they get a forest fire assist from Motor City’s Defender, media speculation abounds as to whether the Canadians are going to merge with their American counterparts. Ain’t that always the way, eh? It’s hard to rate an anthology, but the weak stuff (Dominion Jack, Crude) and the mediocre (Family Dynamic) really drags the good stuff (Red Ensign, Arrowhead) down. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read (I bought mine, but cheap on Comixology).

Shean

 Star Wars Droids Unplugged #1 (Marvel)– In this one shot, what feels like the Star Wars version of Lion King 1 1/2, we get three separate stories about the goings ons around the Empire. In the first one, we find out what the Probe Droids were up to when Darth Maul was not around.In the second story, we find out exactly what R2-D2 has to do to get ready for a mission. In the last story, BB-8 helps two rebels fall in love. Altogether, a fun lighthearted escape from the usual dire circumstances of the Star Wars Universe.
Overall: 10 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/24

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.

 


 

Logan

lobo-the-road-runnerBatman #25 (DC Comics) Batman #25 is a prologue to Tom King, Mikel Janin, and June Chung’s anticipated “War of Jokes and Riddles” storyline. It’s told in flashback by Batman himself and shows both the Joker and Riddler at their peak spreading chaos and crime through their humorous and puzzling M.O.’s respectively. I enjoyed King’s characterization of the Riddler as a kind of twisted tutor, who helped the GCPD with their homework, er, cases while using his personal knowledge about them to escape. Janin’s panels featuring him are symmetrical and occasionally look like prison bars because he feels like Batman’s the only riddle he can’t solve. The ones with Joker are much freer flowing and help set up an arc-long personal mystery of something Batman has done in his past that he regrets and hasn’t told anyone until now. This continues Tom King’s tradition of telling epic stories while remaining grounded in Batman’s own psyche.  Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Lobo/Road Runner Special #1 (DC Comics) In Lobo/Road Runner Special #1, Bill Morrison, comics legend Kelley Jones, and Michelle Madsen fit the classic Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons into an interconnected mythology that involves mad scientists and secret experiments. Then, Lobo shows up for the Road Runner and blows it all to hell. Seeing Lobo’s hopeless attempts to kill Road Runner with the annoying “Beep beep” in his ear as he regenerates over and over again is super hilarious. There’s also a B-plot where Wile E Coyote hunts down Kilowog for Lobo’s employer, and it’s nice to see him be competent and not just a punching bag for Road Runner. Jones’ take on Wile E is a little freaky, and he looks just like a mutated science experiment. Throw in a Morrison written and drawn backup where Lobo tries and fails to hunt Road Runner in the “kid-friendly” (Cartoon violence is more than okay.) Looney Tunes universe, and this is another excellent addition to the DC/Looney Tunes crossovers. Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Life with Kevin #4 (Archie) Life with Kevin is back with plenty of pratfalls, smooching, and Veronica drama courtesy of writer/artist Dan Parent and inker J.Bone. Kevin has to deal with the social media fallout of his going on a prom date with a young gay high school student and uses this as an opportunity to call out networks for exploiting this touching moment for ratings. Young queer kids aren’t commodities. In the second half of the story, Kevin runs into his cheating ex Michael, who has become the star of a Spanish language soap opera. Parent pokes fun at soap opera tropes in the middle of a comic that has become one while still bringing the emotion because Kevin pines for Michael even though he know he’s bad for him. Life with Kevin #4 is super adorable, super funny, and has just the right amount of the feels to go with Parent’s great Archie house style art and baby blue palette. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

black hammer 10.jpgRoyal City #4 (Image)** – Another fine, character-driven installment in Jeff Lemire’s beautifully laconic series, this issue probably would have benefited from having an editor give things a look as some of the internal monologues veer toward being overblown, but on the whole this book’s artfully-constructed humanity continues to impress and inspire. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Black Hammer #10 (Dark Horse)** – If you thought Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston unloaded a whopper of a cliffhanger on readers last issue,wait until you see this one! My sole (and very slight) concern is that they may have given away just a bit too much about what’s really going with their jaw-dropper this time out, but they’ve consistently surprised me so far, and there’s probably no reason to doubt that they have further surprises up their sleeve. Consistently magnificent stuff that really does reward folks who read it in singles. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

God Country #6 (Image)** – A superb wrap-to Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s heartbreakingly humane cosmic drama, this is a beautifully-scripted paean to love and loss between fathers and sons that will leave a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, amazingly illustrated by Shaw and even more amazingly colored by Jason Wordie. The one and only strike against it is that it reduces the previous few issues of Kirby-esque space battles to a mere redundancy and once you regain your composure, you’ll realize this whole thing could have been told just as — perhaps even more — effectively in three or four chapters rather than six. Still, this is agonizingly powerful stuff, especially for those of us with aging parents who we want to say a lot to while they’re still with us. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #25 (DC)** – A fairly solid start to the new “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” storyline that doesn’t “wow” by any means, but is definitely a continuation of the recent quality uptick we’ve seen on the book. Tom King seems to be easing into something of a “groove” with the scripting on this series, and Mikel Janin’s artwork is simply stunning, and whileI’m a bit concerned about the fact that this is yet another journey back into Batman’s past rather than a story that will move the narrative — and the character — forward, what the hell? So far, so (pretty) good. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

IHateFairyland_13-1.pngI Hate Fairyland #13 (Image) – You know you’re onto something when you can start handing over your creator-owned series to guest artists and know that they won’t skip a beat. Dean Rankine handles the art on the story of Larry’s dream of a Gert-less life and he absolutely kills it. From the opening shot of fly maternity (which cannot be unseen), to the dung mines, to his ultimately meltdown on the Ellfen Show, every page is a wicked delight. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Old Guard #5 (Image) – Greg Rucka & Leandro Fernandez conclude their tale of immortal soldiers with many, many prices paid. Nothing earth-shaking here; it’s loud and fast-moving, but the action is solidly driven by the desires of the characters and everything actually makes dramatic sense, which is more than I can say for most action comics and movies. I think I’ve said it before, but if these two want to make more war comics I will buy them all. Overall: 8.5 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/17

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

CATALYST PRIME ACCELL #1Accell #1 (Catalyst Prime/Lion Forge) This was a really fun comic, and one I highly recommend you checking out. There’s quite a few variations on the speedster type hero, but I don’t think I’ve seen the power set done quite like this before – and then when you add in the brilliant nods to video games and gaming culture… then you’ve got a genuinely interesting comic that I want a lot more of. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #3 (Marvel) I can’t say this was bad… but then I can’t really say it was good either. At least Kaine was in it – that’s worth a point on its own. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Noble #1 (Catalyst Prime/Lion Forge) Another solid win for the publisher this week. You could do a lot worse than this comic that’s basically twenty odd pages of well drawn action. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Weapon X #4 (Marvel) Meh… I’ve read worse comics. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read.

X-Men Blue #5 (Marvel) I missed the last couple issues of this series, but ultimately that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of this issue. It was a fairly standard X-Men fight issue, which certainly helped my ease of reading, but there wasn’t a whole lot more than that if I’m being honest. Still, enjoyable for what it was. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

George

DDFORGE_Cv1_Andy_Kubert_varDark Days The Forge #1 (DC) I’ve been staying away from big events but DC goes all out for DARK DAYS THE FORGE #1 and it pays off with a “Dan Brown” historical, super cosmic mystery that only the Batman can solve. Without spoiling anything, Snyder & Tynion take full advantage of their all-star art team who help us follow a dark mystery of the DCU that Batman has been investigating for years. This dark secret has somehow connections to the Guardians and Nth metal. Besides the secret, the team and assets that Batman puts into play has some great twists and turns, bringing back some of my favorite characters. Recommendation: worth the buy.

Christopher

dept h 15Dept H #15 (Dark Horse) -Matt Kindt does an interesting flashback almost continuously throughout the issue. Revealing more of Mia’s past with her father. A romantic past with Alain, and his subtle influence of why she went down there in the first place. Lending a sense of time to the series overall. The watercolor artwork continues to stand out, as the story seems to deepen. Yet given how only a couple issue remain to be released, how will the story end? Will Mia find out who killed her father? Will they return the surface? Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #1 (Dark Horse)** – I guess they’re going the route of starting over with a new first issue for every arc of Brian Wood and Mack Chater’s series, and while I’m not sure how successful that will be in coaxing new readers to “jump on,” the high-stakes drama on hand here certainly will keep those of us who have been reading from the start onboard. A semi-accidental hostage standoff appears as though it’s going to be the focal point of this “new” run, and while I’m still highly dubious (to say the least) about the morals of an admitted serial sexual harasser chronicling the lives of racist white separatists, I have to admit this is addicting stuff, superbly illustrated. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

BlackHood-SeasonTwo_05-0VThe Black Hood #5 (Archie/Dark Circle)** – The final issue of “season” two of this series is the end of the road for it (and, I would assume, the Dark Circle label) altogether, it seems, and while Duane Swierczynski and Greg Scott build to a fairly satisfying climax between our two protagonists and their adversary for the bulk of this installment, the whiplash-inducing last couple of pages do wrap things up a bit too haphazardly — not that it could probably be helped, given that the book’s pink slip had come in. Nice to see things left open for the possibility of a return, though — even if it’ll never happen. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Kingpin #5 (Marvel)** – I was enjoying the heck out of the final issue of Matthew Rosemberg and Ben Torres’ mini-series, which plays on the classic “Daredevil” trope of a fixed fight, but then things get really oblique and ill-defined at the end, and it really does let the side down considerably. Lovely art throughout, though, it must be said. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read if you’ve been doing so, skip if you haven’t.

Copperhead #14 (Image)** – Jay Faerber and Drew Moss put the wraps on the long-awaited return arc for this sci-fi/western amalgamation, and while the murder mystery plotline gets wrapped up a bit too quickly and conveniently for my tastes, the various subplots that have been converging on our sheriff start to bubble to the surface with some serious fervor, and the future for this book looks very exciting indeed — especially now that Moss is really hitting his stride on the art. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Allie

There’s Nothing There #2 (Black Mask) Still very mediocre. Still feels awkward and stilted. Still feels like writer quietly detests women who are socialites and the culture around them. Still no real clues into whatever intrigue is supposedhappening. Still doesn’t really feel like horror because nothing about it feels personal. Still very much a letdown. Recommendation: Hard Pass

Shean

Vision Directors Cut #1(Marvel) In what is truly a “slice of life”, the Vision builds a VISIONDIRCUT2017002family : a wife, Virginia and kids, Viv and Val. As much as the family attempts to be normal, they run into a ton of conundrums which challenge their notion of normal. Eventually, their super-selves catch up with their lives and they have to fight the Reaper. As their daughter gets taken, the Vision goes on a mission to find her. Great book with all the extras you expect from a Directors cut. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

The Defenders #1 (Marvel) In this debut issue of the soon to be Netflix miniseries, we catch up with the gang soon after Jessica gets shot. Apparently Diamondback is alive and well and the Defenders busted up one of his establishments. Meanwhile, Diamondback attempts to forge an alliance with Black Cat. Altogether, a great reintroduction to these heroes in a group dynamic but what is the real buyin to this book is Marquez’s gorgeous art, as he is almost like the second coming of Alex Ross. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Black Panther and The Crew #3 (Marvel) In the first few pages, the reader is taken into a hidden history of how some of the areas where indigenous peoples inhabited, where we find out much like Harlem, they also had their own heroes.Also, In this issue of this superior series, T’Challa and Ororo uncover what seems at first to be a project development to gentrify Harlem but something more sinister is at play. When the reader finds out what happened, a tragedy occurs. By issue’s end, another hero to Harlem shows up, Luke Cage, as Hydra will have their hands full. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

Cinema Purgatorio #10 (Avatar)** Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill crack open the door on cinema purgatorio 10.jpga concept I want so, so much more of: kid investigators and Cthulhu. The idea is so strong (Lovecraftian haunted seaside cinema) that I couldn’t help but be disappointed with the execution, which is constrained by the format of the series. Think I’ll go and dig up some Ramsey Campbell stories. In Code Pru, Garth Ennis and Raulo Caceres dig into Pru’s past with her adoptive parents Annabelle and Alabaster. Maybe not for everyone, but I’m quite enjoying watching Pru try to be normal in a world of relentless horror. Line of the ish: “Mom, I’m not worshipping a thing that f*cks itself in the face.” – “You are or you’re grounded!” And onto Kieron Gillen and Nahuel Lopez’ Modded, which has grown on me, but this one’s a bit of a placeholder, setting up what should be a corker of a next chapter, in which our heroes go shopping for demons. Purgatorio: 8, Code Pru: 8.5, Modded: 8 Recommendation: read but it’s too expensive for what you get

Bitch Planet Triple Feature #1 (Image)**  Interesting spinoff from the main series, letting other creators explore this world. Briefly: “Windows” by Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Maria Frôhlich features an interesting character in Lupe, a nurse on BP who’s hung out to dry and given a “soft landing” as a maid. “Without and Within” by Andrew Aydin and Joanna Estep goes behind the scenes of what seems to be Congress, and a poor secretary’s first day on the job. “The Invisible Woman” by Conley Lyons and Craig Yeung tells the story of a hairdo gone wrong. They were all okay, I guess, but I expected work that was much, much sharper – especially in short story mode. “Windows” felt like it was the only piece that was actually set in the world of BP, as the other two could almost have taken place today. The stories here don’t yet fully complement BP either in style or in substance, but I’m fairly confident that this will improve as the series progresses. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Image‘s statement on Divided States of Hysteria. Having reviewed the new Chaykin last week, I felt compelled to look at Eric Stephenson’s statement about the “conversation”. I couldn’t disagree more with nearly everything in it. This book couldn’t be more escapist, relying on the exploitation of fears of the other (in just about every category: Muslims, POC, trans women) in the name of “rebelliousness” and “not pulling any punches”. But I reiterate: all of the punches are aimed down. The statement relies on a fallacy of false balance, i.e. that people who are factually wrong are just part of “the conversation” (in the way that creationism in science curricula is “teaching the controversy”). Completely absent from Chaykin’s book is, in fact, anyone actually working towards progress and justice, actually striving for “discourse, understanding, and cooperation”, and reducing what has become a life-and-death fight for rights and recognition to “opposing viewpoints.” Hysteria, in substance, is so one-sided, so cherrypicking in its choices of “worst aspects of reality” that it’s hard to see how it can add anything to a “productive conversation about the present state of our society.” Overall: 2 Recommendation: Read, but I sure as hell didn’t buy it.


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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/10

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

shade9Shade the Changing Girl #9 (DC/Young Animal)– Shade attends a Sonic Booms concert. They’re a band from the 1960s that was featured in her favorite Earth TV show Life with Honey, and she is sad and puzzled when they look so old. This leads to a chaotic series of events when Shade de-ages a bunch of Gothamites and looks for the actor who played Honey. Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, and Kelly Fitzpatrick produce an ode to nostalgia and add some heat to the plotline of the Metans looking for her M-Vest. The scenes in Meta are pretty trippy, and Shade interacting with “ancient” computers is quite a rush color-wise. Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Buy

Giant Days #27 (BOOM!)– Esther going “woke” is predictably hilarious, and John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, and Whitney Cogar also manage to skewer performative social justice culture without punching down. To catch the eye of an attractive lad, Esther decides to help protest the opening of a new chain grocery store with the help of lots of yelling, inane slogans, and barring the path of people getting food and necessary supplies for their family. Any time Esther is the center of a plot, the drama and comedy are both on high alert, and Sarin and Fleming produce some of the series’ most hilarious moments when she invites her woke beau into her apartment. The reaction shots alone are worth picking this issue up, and there’s also a simmering subplot with Susan and her ex McGraw, who still have feelings for each other. Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

GA_Cv24_dsDark Knight III: The Master Race #9 (DC)** – Go on, admit it : you knew that Brian Azzaello and Andy Kubert, (and maybe even Frank Miller, assuming his involvement amounted to anything more than a courtesy credit) were going to stick the landing on this one along with every other thing that’s been wrong with it. And they surely do. All this issue proves is that they easily could have wrapped this series up in the originally-allotted eight issues, probably even six. But hey, Batman’s young again, so you know what that means : a “Dark Knight Universe” monthly series is probably on the way at some point. Try to contain your excitement. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass. I purchased my copy, which proves I need a brain transplant.

Batman #24 (DC) – Just as I thought. A stunt. Nothing happens in this issue apart from an over-wrought conversation between Batman and Gotham Girl until — that last page that we all knew about going in, anyway. Tom King just can’ seem to find his usual mojo as writer on this book, and while the fill-in pages by Clay and Seth Mann look really nice, David Finch’s art on the bulk of the comic is as terrible as ever. Overall: 3.5. Recommendation: Pass.

The Flintstones #12 (DC) – If the best book in the DC line had to go, this is the way to do it, as Mark Russell and Steve Pugh deliver a love letter to their characters, readers, and really to humanity in general. I miss this series already, and if you haven’t been reading it in singles, then by all that’s holy, please pick it up the trades! It’s not so much an extension and/or revamp of “The Flintstones” as it is the thematic and spiritual successor to another legendary comic that used prehistoric tropes to talk about then-contemporary (and timeless) issues : Howie Post’s sublime “Anthro.” Yes, this has really been that good. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Green Arrow #24 (DC) – Benjamin Percy and Juan Ferreyra wrap up their “The Rise Of Star City” arc with a reasonably solid issue that leaves Seattle completely fucked and Ollie in a pretty tough little pickle himself. The cliffhanger ending feels more than a bit forced and basically comes out of nowhere, but the gorgeous, vibrant art more than makes up for any story deficiencies. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

George

Bankshot.01Bankshot #1 (Dark Horse Comics) Writer: Alex de Campi, Artist: ChrisCross, Colorist: Snakebite Cortez. I had a major synaptic disconnect this past weekend, I literally had 5 minutes with Alex de Campi (a cool person by the way) at Book Expo America 2017, we talked about her other book Mayday and just never put the name to Bank Shot which I had just finished reading on the train up to BEA. I missed my opportunity to ask her about this latest kick-ass book. And kick-ass it is, from de Campi’s blazing plot and tight dialog, to ChrisCross’s amazing flair for action scenes and ability at drawing a tight fade, coupled with Cortez’s choices for lighting a panel with dramatic flare, Bank Shot is a solid jumping on point for fans of action and adventure. The hero Marcus King is a former US soldier, turned soldier of fortune, imagine a one man A-Team with a James Bond budget. Dark Horse has a track record for gritty comics and Bank Shot continues that legacy with this mini-series.

Patrick

Stray Bullets #24 (Image/El Capitan) – After getting beat up and kicked around and generally treated like a dog, Orson gets his day when the gang takes a detour to New Orleans for a little R&R. One of the things I love about David Lapham’s work is how he can lull you into some deep, quiet moments for pages at a time and then you hit the bottom of the bottle and everything turns upside down and inside out and that’s how the fire in the bar got started. Also: the most terrifying line in this book is “Derek would like his mustache back.” Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy already!

agents of pactAgents of PACT #2 (Chapterhouse) – The moment I’ve been dreading: the meeting of Fleur de Lys and Kebec. But first: more of this incomprehensible plotline and Marla’s inexplicable gold… generating? manipulating? conjuring? Gold-type powers. Back to Manon and Yvette. Uh, Yvette? Really? For a 20something Québécoise? Yvette is a name that hasn’t been given to girls here since about 1957, and it’s easy to find the most popular 100 names for any given year on the internet. Also, for someone as supposedly starstruck as Yvette is by Manon – as in, meeting Fleur de Lys is the sole and entire reason for Kebec to come back to the fold – there is not one panel depicting their meeting. Kalman Andrasofsky & Blake Northcott’s writing is painfully by-the-numbers (including the scene between Redcoat and Marla where R. explains how she had to make the tough call in the field). Federica Manfredi does a solid job on the art, though Caroline Nolasco’s colours muddy it rather than enhance it. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Skip

The Divided States of Hysteria #1 (Image) – Howard Chaykin returns to the present(ish) day with a political thriller designed, by his own admission, to offend liberals and conservatives alike. First things first: master letterer Ken Bruzenak absolutely crushes it here – the relentless noise of internet chatter that pervades the background is both maddening and perfect for not only the tone but for Chaykin’s writing in general. In terms of art, Chaykin’s page design smartly drives the story forward in a dense but crisp televisual style. Now, the story. Really basically, the President and cabinet have been assassinated. Frank Villa, our usual cynical lantern-jawed hero/schmuck, is a CIA field officer now (apparently) in charge of counter-terrorism stuff. Things go wrong and a group of Muslim women set off a bomb in the middle of New York City. Meanwhile, various serial killers are arrested in sordid circumstances. This book is dirty and messy and grimy, bloodshot and cum-stained, every page a crime scene. Which does not mean it’s provocative – rather, it reminds me of Kathy Griffin’s Trump-decapitated photo, where the targets are easy and the punches aimed squarely downwards. Chaykin’s work is, as always, remarkable and unique and relentless. But the politics are too reactionary to be truly provocative, too angry and confused to be really incendiary, and overall so overwrought that I’m left with the impression that what we’re seeing is not so much the state of America as the pure, unadulterated state of 21st-century Chaykin. Overall: 9 and 4 Recommendation: Read

 


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

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

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