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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 04/03/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Brett

Witchblood #1 (Vault Comics) – I can see why a lot of people are enjoying this one but it doesn’t quite click for me. I like the concepts and where things are going but overall the story feels a bit choppy and too random of a setup. The art too is a little all over. While relatively solid, there’s some panels here and there where it feels like the detail drops. It’s a fun comic and definitely worth checking out but for me there’s a roughness around it I had issues getting over. Overall rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

The Other History of the DC Universe #3 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – Not quite as good as the first two issues. This issue focuses on Katana and tells more of a story about her as opposed to a reflection on the DC Universe she witnesses. There’s some commentary but this is a very different focus, more about loss of family and the family found through superheroes. There’s some solid commentary though and the reminder that Soultaker isn’t special and Katana is more about how she presents herself is an interesting take. The art continues to amaze with its retro look and fantastic layouts. A good read though very different focus. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Beta Ray Bill #1 (Marvel) – A fantastic debut about a character who has always been second tier. That’s part of the point of it as there’s a sadness about the character who has always been in the shadow of others. The art too is solid emphasizing his unique look. Can’t wait to see where this goes. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #2 (Dark Horse) – The series has been fun pulp adventure. There’s not too much to really go into, it’s a classic sort of style with dinosaurs and magic on a mysterious island. It’s a throwback to things like The Shadow, Flash Gordon, and Tarzan, those comics where it was over the top situations and threats. Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Silk #1 (Marvel) – Silk is a character I don’t know a ton about. I’ve read her adventures here and there and have enjoyed it so far. This debut feels a bit like Spider-Man from a different perspective but it still works well. Good art an intriguing use of Silk being a reporter, it’s a good setup for what’s to come. Overall: 7.95 Recommendation: Read

Logan

X-Men #19 (Marvel)– After last issue’s Darwin, Synch, and X-23 return to Vault setup, Jonathan Hickman and Mahmud Asrar deliver all payoff in X-Men #19. They get to indulge in grotesque visions of post-humanity while telling a story of survival and love as the team’s knowledge of the species that will eventually replace mutants and humans grows. Hickman’s data page do a good job of creating the plot skeleton while he gets to dig deep into the relationship between Darwin, Synch, and Wolverine. There are hugs, kisses, tears, and pain, and after not even knowing who the character was until Hickman’s X-Men run, I truly care about Synch and cared about his survival. This two part storyline is an excellent sci-fi survival story, fleshes out some fantastic side characters (Although Wolverine has carried her own title in recent years.), and best of all, sets up a true foe for the Krakoans as the X-Men don’t defeat the Children of the Vault, but barely escape with their lives. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Beta Ray Bill #1 (Marvel)– Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer’s Beta Ray Bill #1 is heavy metal thunder with a soft, vulnerable heart. Johnson leans into Beta Ray Bill traditionally playing second fiddle to Thor in the book. The All-Father steals his victory in battle, gets the praise from the Asgardians, and is responsible for destruction of Stormbreaker and more importantly his inability to revert to his humanoid form. Beta Ray Bill #1 is full of epic spreads of monsters, machinery, blood, and thunder, but Johnson also includes moments of sadness like when Bill’s hookup with Sif goes badly or all of the flashbacks in the issue. Even though it’s initially connected to the continuity of Donny Cates’ Thor and King in Black, Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer bring a big, damn indie sensibility to the house of ideas with hand lettering, a gonzo color palette, and set up a journey that will hopefully be filled with more monsters and epic moments. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Witchblood #1 (Vault)– I definitely liked the aesthetic and visual look of Matthew Erman, Lisa Sterle, and Gab Contreras’ Witchblood #1 than its actual content. Erman’s writing is the book’s weak point as he inconsistently flirts with a non-linear narrative, ends the first quite abruptly, and his dialogue is cutesy for the sake of cutesiness. Witchblood is bursting with ideas and settings like diners in irradiated Texas town, vampire gangs named after Kate Bush songs, and witches on motorcycles, but it’s really a case of throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick. However, Sterle’s visuals singlehandedly save Witchblood from being in the “Pass” category with her high energy layouts, inset panels, and facial expressions really showing the no holds barred nature of this Western-meets-urban fantasy. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 03/21/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Barbalien: Red Planet #5 (Dark Horse)– Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, Gabriel Walta, and Jordie Bellaire really stick the landing in Barbalien: Red Planet #5. They cleverly use a nine panel grid and cross-cutting to show the parallels between Miguel fighting for queer rights and the government to do something about the AIDS crisis on Earth, and Barbalien fighting for his life on Mars. Barbalien Red Planet #5 is a true paean to queer rage as Lemire, Brombal, Walta, and Bellaire show that the riot is the language of the unheard while Barbalien finally gets to cut loose in word and deed on Mars turning his chains into a weapon. While wrapping up Barbalien/Mark Markz/Luke’s struggle with identity as well as Miguel’s activist arc, Barbalien Red Planet #5 also acts as a huge recontextualization of the superhero and sword and planetgenres taking the latent queer subtext of these stories and making them text. Barbalien Red Planet is easily my favorite of the Black Hammer spinoffs, and it functions on many levels as an emotionally honest character study, genre exercise, and an homage to Black and Latinx activists who fought for LGBTQ rights during a really scary time period. It’s also basically “No Cops at Pride” the comic. I definitely plan on revisiting Barbalien Red Planet many times in the years to come. Overall: 10 Verdict: Buy

Detective Comics #1034 (DC)– Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, and Jordie Bellaire explore the storytelling potential of Batman being (relatively) broke in Detective Comics #1034, which true to its title is a murder mystery set in the world of the upper crust of Gotham. There’s a satirical edge and a dash of humor and mischief to Tamaki’s writing with the comic’s inciting incident being an attack on Gotham’s very style over substance mayor Nakano. He’s portrayed as being utterly incompetent in everything from getting a power point to work to protecting his wealthy donors. Mora and Bellaire nail the chaos of the very on the nose Party Crashers’ fight against Batman with speed lines, jagged panels, and punches and kicks that explode off the page. However, Mora also excels at the quiet scenes as Bruce gets to know his (first ever) neighbors that also introduces the players in this murder mystery. You can tell each person’s opinion of Bruce from their facial expressions alone. In the backup story, Joshua Williamson and “Big” Gleb Melnikov wrap up their Damian Wayne serial and set the stage for his shonen tournament ongoing series. Melnikov has a real gift for using body weight, lighting, and layouts to make a fight exciting and suspenseful so it should be a fun book, and these backups in Batman and Detective Comics have introduced the premise while throwing in some new wrinkles in Damian’s life. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Harley Quinn #1 (DC)– The new Harley Quinn series is a bit of mixed bag and definitely feels like an ancillary book to Batman instead of being its own wacky, independent thing in previous volumes. That being said, Riley Rossmo’s anarchic, cartoon-y art style is perfect for Harley and her hijinks, and he makes jumping from fire escape to fire escape look entertaining. Ivan Plascencia’s colors pair well with his line art bringing a Sour Patch Kid on acid palette to drab, gritty Gotham City. Harley Quinn #1’s weakness lies in Stephanie Phillips’ writing where she ends up focusing on Batman a little too much and makes him drive Harley’s action and the scope of the book instead of its actual protagonist. She does write good one-liners, and the first arc villain she introduces on the last couple pages is the perfect foil for Dr. Quinzel. I’m surprised no one else has used this character as an antagonist for Harley in the past. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

Stray Dogs #2 (Image)– Stray Dogs is the equivalent of a pop song with bright sound, but dark lyrics. Tony Fleecs, Trish Forstner, Tone Rodriguez, and Brad Simpson deliver a haunting story to go with the high concept premise of a serial killer story told from the POV of his victim’s dogs. Forstner’s art for the different dogs is adorable, yet heart-breaking when she and colorist Simpson revisit the protagonist Sophie’s trauma as her owner was strangled in front of her. This issue goes deeper into the dogs’ owner’s twisted psyche and also shows that he treats animals as terribly as humans. Stray Dogs is like a twisted Disney cartoon, but with heart and suspense not juvenile edginess. Overall: 9.1 Verdict: Buy

Cable #9 (Marvel)– Cable #9 deals with the whole “missing the old man Cable” criticism that’s been levied at it from the beginning of the series head on. Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto put their protagonist through the wringer as he can’t find Stryfe despite help from a parade of guest stars like Wolverine, Magik, and all of the Summerses except Alex and Vulcan. Cable #9 has its humorous moments like Cable calling Wolverine Patch even though he’s blown his cover, but Noto’s facial expressions dig into the rage and responsibility that Cable feels with letting his clone run around and kidnap mutant children. Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto turn a labyrinthine 1990s character into a solid character motivation for Cable, and to top things off, the comic has a cool ending that definitely breaks the Krakoan rules. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #19 (Marvel)– This whole Psylocke/Captain Britain/Betsy Braddock body swap/energy arc is really starting to drag on in Excalibur #19. Tini Howard and Marcus To have made the book seem like more of a Captain Britain or Psylocke solo title than an ensemble piece with the actual members of Excalibur watching from the sideline. The omniverse and different aspects of Captain Britain are interesting, if very nationalistic, but Howard and To have abandoned it to tell an overlong body swap story. There’s a new bad guy in the end, but it’s a case of too little too late. Hopefully, this series can move onto better things. However, Erick Arciniega colors are gorgeous especially when Betsy’s violet emanation is streaking through Otherworld. Overall: 5.0 Verdict: Pass

Carnage: Black, White, and Blood #1 (Marvel)– Carnage joins the black and white/spot color anthology with decent results. The first story is Bonnie and Clyde with Carnage and Shriek that takes a trippy detour into ancient Rome. Tini Howard’s script is imaginative, and Ken Lashley and Juan Fernandez’s depiction of the battle between Carnage and Shriek and Cloak and Dagger is quite elemental. However, Lashley’s rubbery 1990s art style doesn’t really fit with the monochromatic, and the splashes of red don’t fit the story like the other two. Benjamin Percy and Sara Pichelli definitely understood the assignment in the second story, which is a Western about a sheriff who is corrupted by the Carnage symbiote. Mattia Iacono uses the red to symbolize his corruption, and Pichelli’s art for the gun fight is visceral in all the right ways. Plus it’s a clever use for the character as the hunter becomes the hunted. Carnage #1 wraps up with its best story as Al Ewing and John McCrea do an ultraviolent “choose your own adventure” story, but with Carnage. It’s like a mini, more gore-splattered version of Ewing’s You Are Deadpool, and McCrea’s experience doing black and white, satirical comics in 2000 AD comes in handy in this story. I definitely wanna go back and try to get the “good” ending if any such thing exists. Overall: 8.4 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 (**).

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 03/21/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Orphan and the Five Beasts #1 (Dark Horse)– Orphan and the Five Beasts is James Stokoe’s martial arts epic as Orphan Mo must avenge her master who was ripped off by five “beasts” that used his techniques for evil, like stealing, murder, and animal abuse. There’s a lot of setup and narration in this initial issue, but Stokoe brings his eye for detail as well as some expressive lettering that is almost like another character in the comic. Also, after the backstory of the Beasts is told, he cuts loose with entrails flying, overly vein-y bandit kings, and of course, gorgeous fight scenes. Orphan and the Five Beasts showcases a very talented artist putting his own spin on a fun genre and should only get better as Orphan Mo encounters the various beasts. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Catwoman #29 (DC)– After a couple months off for Future State, Ram V, Fernando Blanco, and the always spectacular Jordie Bellaire hit the ground running with plenty of close quarters action, a little bit of drama, and some big time guest appearances. V continues to build up Catwoman as the guardian of Gotham’s, shall we say, less sociopathic villains while Blanco continues to draw her exuding total swagger to go with his intense close quarter fight scenes. This issue isn’t a stone cold classic like some of the previous ones and Father Valley’s Biblical assassin shtick is starting to wear then, but Ram V starts to thread the needle between Catwoman being a good crime comic and a good Bat-family comic in Catwoman #29. Selina’s an anti-hero and a crime boss, and it’s fun to see the way she acts in each role. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Ultramega #1 (Image/Skybound)– Ultramega is a bleak, horror-tinged take on the sentai genre from writer/artist James Harren and colorist Dave Stewart. The first issue follows a “Warrior” named Jason, who ends up being terrible at his job because he didn’t kill his wife and unborn child with his Ultramega abilities even though they did have the Kaiju virus. There are literally big consequences to this in this 60 page first issue filled with blood and guts, kaijus cool powers, and moments of regret. Harren nails the scale of these fights, both in the moment, and in their effects on the average people cutting away to show the destruction of battle. He also spends some time doing some social commentary-via-basically Astro Boy on how automation has led to unemployment or taking riskier employment like Jason being an Ultramega and never getting to see his wife and son while being “on call”. Harren’s commentary gets muddled in the last third of the comic as he takes aim at not just automation and the surveillance state, but also collectivism. However, the sentai genre is all about extraordinary individuals fighting monsters, and Ultramega chronicles their failure in all their gory detail with the highlight of the book definitely being the large scale battles drawn by Harren and Stewart. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

SWORD #4 (Marvel)SWORD #4 is straight up competency porn with Abigail Brand, Wiz-Kid, Frenzy, and Manifold with an assist from Mentallo and the Five orchestrating a resistance to Knull and Knullified Cable before the symbiote threat spreads even more. The cast continues to sprawl, but Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti give each SWORD team member a couple moments in the (at times literal) sun with Manifold demonstrating that his power goes beyond teleportation, Wiz-Kid’s ingenuity and penchant for melodrama paying off in a fire fight, and Magneto and Brand showing they’ll protect mutantdom and Earth, respectively, no matter the cost. Marte Gracia adds a summer event sheen with his color palette with the fight between Knullified Cable and Manifold being particularly gorgeous. SWORD is a book that handle ethical debates and killer setpieces with skill and ease, and with its varied cast of characters, it brings new perspectives to the current Krakoan status quo. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

X-Force #18 (Marvel)– X-Force #18 is the slightly more creepy, but slightly less impactful sequel to last month’s Quentin Quire-centric issue. The opening scene sets the tone of the comic with artist Garry Brown channeling Swamp Thing as “veg” whisperer Black Tom Cassidy is consumed by a psychic nightmare, which is the recording baddie for this issue and preys on different X-Force members during times of contentment. Evil psychic forces are a dime a dozen, but Benjamin Percy and Brown smartly tie it to specific character traits with Quentin Quire deep down still being a little shit and Beast’s knowledge of Krakoa’s secrets making him the most vulnerable target. Finally, there’s Sage, who has been drinking more to keep the relentless spread of information in her brain now, but she’s starting to have gaps in her calculations. Percy uses both the on-panel interactions and data pages to show these vulnerabilities and that she’s more than just some kind of plot resolver/info giver. The team definitely feels exposed and vulnerable after this issue. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Catwoman #29 (DC Comics) – I’ve generally enjoyed the new team and direction for Catwoman and this first issue of Infinite Frontier keeps the momentum rolling. The issue features a new villain, a possible ally, and a reveal that’ll probably anger a certain group of fans. The art is solid as well delivering some good action and sexiness without going over the top. This is a good spot to start and hints at an intriguing first arc. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Eternals #3 (Marvel) – I’ve generally enjoyed the series with an intriguing set of characters and re-introduction mixed with beautiful art. Three issues in and the series feels like it’s dragging a bit as more characters are introduced and more mysteries dropped. It’s a slice of the big picture but it needs to pick up the pace or risks decompressing things a bit too much. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #1 (Marvel) – I don’t know a ton about the character but he’s about to get the spotlight in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first issue is a good introduction to the character delivering an ass but one you want to follow and see what happens. And that ending… that was… interesting. Overall Rating: 7.85 Recommendation: Read

Orphans and the Five Beasts #1 (Dark Horse) – James Stokoe’s kung-fu epic is beautiful to look at but it’s a lot of style without much that’s new. The story is familiar though some details do stand out. Overall, it’s a comic that’s definitely more flash than substance. But, it’s a lot of fun. Overall Rating: 7.5 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 03/14/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Joker #1 (DC)– Don’t be fooled by the title, but Joker #1 is actually a Jim Gordon solo comic. James Tynion, Guillem March, and Arif Prianto spin the tale of an old man, who has looked evil in the face and just wants to retire. However, he can’t wash the Joker’s face out of his mind, which is the hook as he comes out of retirement not as a cop, but as a hitman. March tries a new art style in Joker #1 taking a horror approach to the Clown Prince of Crime that’s strongly informed by classic Batman artists like Neal Adams, Kelley Jones, and his take on Gotham is straight out of the Frank Miller playbook with colorful Punchline-themed youth gangs and an overall sense of decay. To go along with the strong visuals, Tynion uses a lot of narrative captions to set up Gordon’s state of mind and relationship to the Joker along with his financial struggles as a retiree. He’s definitely a protagonist worth rooting for, and there’s a bit of mystery as he sets out on his mission. Joker #1 also has a Punchline backup, and it has beautiful art from Mirka Andolfo plus the return of an underrated Batman supporting cast member/Tynion co-creation that should shed light on this villain. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Children of the Atom #1 (Marvel)– Vita Ayala, Bernard Chang, and Marcelo Maiolo do a straight up teen superhero comic in Children of the Atom #1 that starts with Cherub, Marvel Guy, Cyclops-Lass, Gimmick, and Daycrawler holding their own against a team of depowered mutant criminals. There’s some struggles with collateral damage and teleporting far away enough, but they’re definitely on Krakoa and some heavy hitters’ radar. Really, the best part of this comic is when Ayala and Chang do a scene of Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm shooting pool and having a lively conversation about whether they should go after these young mutants or let them be. Chang and Maiolo even add a cool frosting effect every time Jean is speaking telepathically. It’s nice to see these iconic characters be regular people for a bit before the main cast geeks out over them. Kudos to Vita Ayala and Bernard Chang for adding new mutants to the X-book pantheon and also providing a glimpse at mutant youth culture through things like fan wikis, live streams, and even cosplay. Children of Atom #1 strikes a nice balance between slice of life and superhero, and features colorful art. I look forward to learning more about these young heroes. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Factor #8 (Marvel)– Leah Williams and David Baldeon’s X-Factor is a little bit procedural, a little bit horror, and has lots of dying in it. They use Eye-Boy as a POV character to bear witness to the deaths of most of the team and also see every bit of dust and trace of scent on the page. Baldeon’s layouts are bold, especially when Morrigan or Eye-Boy get involved, and there’s a reason she cut through the team with ease. While also focusing on the main plotline, Williams takes all kinds of cute and interesting sidebars like Eye-Boy bonding with Rachel Summers’ pet Amazing Baby or Prodigy continuing to investigate his own resurrection. X-Factor #8 does wrap up with oodles of text box exposition from Leah Williams, but it’s quirky cast of characters and creative use of their power sets keeps it afloat. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Proctor Valley Road #1 (BOOM!)– With a large cast of characters and heavy dose of 1960s nostalgia, Grant Morrison, Alex Child, and Naomi Franquiz’s Proctor Valley Road definitely comes across as a proof of concept for a Netflix show. However, it’s a fun little creature feature based on real life urban legends around a road between Chula Vista and San Diego. The main cast of girls have distinct personalities and a shared passion for ghost stories and Janis Joplin, and it’s nice to see a regular plotline threaded in between all the darkness and disappearances that colorist Tamra Bonvillain enhances with a shadowy palette that contrasts with the faded out desert colors for the rest of the book. Throw in anxieties about the Vietnam War and racism in the United States, and Morrison, Child, and Franquiz really start to thread the needle between cryptids and the real fears of the time. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

The Autumnal #5 (Vault)– Daniel Kraus and Chris Shehan small town horror tale continues to build to terrifying crescendo in The Autumnal #5. They alternate between the story of child murderers, killer leaves, and equinoxes being a myth pitting a kindly small town mayor and a drug addict against each other as sources of information. But, in between the investigations and occasional creepy moments, Kraus doesn’t skimp on showing the relationship between Kat, her daughter, and new boyfriend as they adapt to life in comfort notch. Sheehan’s art nails the rhythm of conversation in his paneling while he and colorist Jason Wordie continue to make warm fall days and colors menacing. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Rorschach #6 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – On its own, Rorschach #6 makes absolutely no sense at all. It’s a small piece of a larger puzzle focused on Laura and Wil and a back and forth of letters. It’s the setup of the latter half of the series dropping some hints as to how things have played out but in a picture that’s not clear. The art as always is a bit confusing in what time period it’s supposed to be giving a 70s vibe for what is a more modern story. It’s an intriguing issue but one that’s a bit frustrating on its own. Overall Rating: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Superman #29 (DC Comics) – It’s a new era for Superman and a new creative team. The issue is really solid with a focus on Jon and how he sees his dad, as well as the knowledge he has of the future. It’s an interesting issue that examines the child and parent relationship as well as Jon’s burden. We also get a decent threat that can hurt Superman delivering an issue where there’s some heart, emotion, and stakes. A back-up story focused on Bibbo is interesting delivering a more traditional action focused story. Overall, a solid debut that has me wanting to see what’s next. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Wonder Woman #770 (DC Comics) – Wonder Woman was the key to the new DC Universe and as she has rejected her knew role she has been thrust back into the life of a superhero… but where? No longer on Earth, Diana finds herself on Asgard, yes that one, where she’ll do battle over and over. What’s going on? We’ll find out! There’s a backup story featuring a young Diana as well that has a very cute art style and story to it. It’s so different from the main story it’s a bit odd and feels more at home in a graphic novel geared towards young readers. Still, it’s an intriguing start for the series. Overall Rating: 8.0 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 03/07/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Infinite Frontier #0 (DC)– Infinite Frontier #0 is a lot to take in, but I came out of it with mostly positive vibes. (Although, I had similar feelings about DC Rebirth.) In almost line-wide way (Especially in the stories penned by Joshua Williamson), Infinite Frontier is embracing legacy heroes, the DC multiverse/Elseworlds, and DC Comics’ 83 year old history for better or worse. Some of the highlights of this one-shot are Philip Kennedy Johnson and an always fantastic Jamal Igle showing that Jon Kent is just as much as a hero as his father, and James Tynion and a chameleon-like Jorge Jimenez focusing on the Bat-family (Especially the Batgirls past and present) while grafting in some of the status quo from Future State, which worked best when dealing with the Gotham stuff. Also, Alan Scott coming out as gay in the main continuity, Nubia becoming queen of the Amazons, Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance reuniting, and even Wally West becoming the main Flash show the heartwarming side of the DC Universe. As an artist, Howard Porter (He did the Flash story.) has gotten better with age. The only real stinkers of the bunch are Geoff Johns and Todd Nauck doing a text-heavy, bad cover version of Bendis and Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man in their Stargirl story, and Geoff Thorne continuing to show that his take on the Green Lantern characters is a bit disjointed even if Teen Lantern can’t help but shine through. I didn’t really follow Death Metal or Generations to get why the DC Universe is like this, but Infinite Frontier is a great primer on characters, books, and creators to follow going forward in 2021 and is a reminder that DC Comics has a deep bench of worlds, heroes, and villains that are dying to be fleshed out and explored. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

The Swamp Thing #1 (DC)– Ram V, Mike Perkins, and Mike Spicer kick off their ongoing Swamp Thing series with parallel stories. A monster in the Arizona desert (Rumore to be around since the 1860s) kills with no respite, and an Indian man named Levi Kamei has nightmares of the Green while returning from India back to New York. Perkins’ horror chops continue to be evident in any sequence featuring the Pale Wanderer and are at its finest in a double page nightmare sequence where Swamp Thing emerges from Levi’s body (and eyes aka ick!) causing the plane to crash. V doesn’t reveal a lot of information about Levi’s connection to Swamp Thing instead focusing on introducing him as a character. He came to New York when he was a teen to study biology at Columbia and has a strained relationship with his family in India, yet still wants to make amends. Mike Perkins uses nine panel grids to capture the natural conversational flow between Levi and his colleague Jennifer Reece in the quieter moments between the nightmares. He’s a smart, vulnerable protagonist who from the final page seems utterly prepared for the Western-meets-horror story going on in the other side of the country. Like Alan Moore and various artists in the famous “American Gothic” arc, Ram V and Mike Perkins are using Swamp Thing as a vehicle to comment on the nature of America using the horror genre from an outside perspective (Ram V is an Indian writer who now lives in London) and succeed at setting that up in their first issue. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Chariot #1 (AWA)– Although it sometimes seems like it came right out of an after school special and the premise is straight out of Knight Rider, Priscilla Petraites’ art and Marco Lesko’s colors giving Chariot #1 that extra push that’ll make give issue 2 of the series a shot. Writer Bryan Edward Hill lets them cut loose over the first 10 pages of the comic in a gorgeous, thrilling car chase with pastel, synthwave colors from Lesko, who is easily the book’s MVP. The protagonist’s love for cars comes out in how nicely he treats this special prototype even though it confuses him initially. Also, having him struggle with medical debt makes him really relatable for our day and age. If the characterization matches the setpieces that open and close this comic, Hill, Petraites, and Lesko could have a hit on their hands. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: read

Nocterra #1 (Image)– Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel craft a high concept world in Nocterra: a universe where the sun has gone out. People live on secondary light sources, like bulbs and lanterns, or risk being turned into shades. The idea is a little silly, but it works as a metaphor for a world-ending. Nocterra #1 explores life after everything goes “PM” from the perspective of Em, who was child when it happened, and now works as a truck driver taking humans to sanctuary cities. Daniel inks himself on this comic, and he and colorist Tomeu Morey bring a naturalistic approach going stylized for when the shades attack or a scary opponent pops up towards the end of the issue. Snyder also builds the plot around Em needing to find a way to reverse the darkness in her brother Emory, and this justifies any risks she might take. Also, the final page stage cranks up the stakes big time. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

America Chavez: Made in the USA #1 (Marvel)– America Chavez finally gets a solo series worthy of her star turns in Young Avengers, Ultimates, and West Coast Avengers courtesy of Kalinda Vazquez and Carlos Gomez. Even though there’s plenty of punching and one-liners, America Chavez #1 keeps its ambitions terrestrial with plenty of flashbacks of America with her adoptive family, the Santanas, who found her when she washed up on Jones Beach. Vazquez and Gomez set up this miniseries to be set up around her Washington Heights root and Latinx heritage while also telling a more traditional loss of powers stories. Gomez’s art is a little on the house style side, but his depiction of America and Kate Bishop punching giant moles made me smile. This issue provided a lot of insight both into America’s past as well as how she’s feeling currently, and I look forward to the rest of the mini. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Hellions #10 (Marvel)– Arcade has upgraded from murderous pinball games and Snake (If you played Marvel Ultimate Alliance.) to psychological horror in another excellent issue of Hellions from Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia. His motivation is trying to get Mr. Sinister to provide him clones, which is quite easy, but he still makes the Hellions go through their worst nightmares anyway. This ranges from Kwannon not knowing her name to Empath being confronted by everyone he’s ever mentally manipulated to and Havok having some weird, horny thing with Madelyne Pryor. Segovia and David Curiel do an excellent job setting up a different tone for each room, and we really get to know each team member as Arcade ramps up the scenario. Also, Mr. Sinister roasting Arcade at the beginning of the book is quite hilarious. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Batman #106 (DC Comics) – Batman’s Future State storyline was fantastic and the seeds to that possible future are being planted here. Gotham is in chaos (is it not?). Arkham has been destroyed and so many issues are cropping up. Batman’s doing what he can with his new situation and his new headquarters. There’s a solid mix of action, setup, and letting new readers know what’s up. It’s the most solid issue of James Tynion IV’s run so far. The art is really solid as well with some fantastic visuals that pop, especially for the action sequences. This is what I’ve been hoping and waiting for. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Man-Bat #2 (DC Comics) – The first issue was solid with an exploration of Langstrom’s addiction and drug use resulting in his becoming Man-Bat. This issue? Not so much. The Suicide Squad is after him resulting in an entertaining but overused battle trope. There’s also a reveal of the big bad. An entertaining issue but the first is so much better. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

BRZRKR #1 (BOOM! Studios) – The high profile comic is here in its first single issue. It’s pure action and quite clearly a vehicle for actor Keanu Reeves whos’ one of the co-writers/creators. The story of an immortal who wants to die has a lot of potential and the tease at the end of the comic is really solid but as is, it’s a lot of flash with little substance. But, that flash looks great on the page. Overall Rating: 7.85 Recommendation: Read

Dead Dog’s Bite #1 (Dark Horse) – A girl is missing and that’s about what we got in this interesting setup of a mystery. The characters and location has potential but the comic doesn’t quite hook. It starts off with an interesting narrator but then gets into a fairly typical murder mystery laying things out. Overall Rating: 7.0 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/27/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

The Next Batman: Second Son #1 (DC)– Writer John Ridley and artists Tony Akins, Ryan Benjamin, and Mark Morales tell the story of Tim Fox’s pre-Next Batman days as he and the unseen tech guy Vol try to take out a Vietnamese human trafficker. This first issue is all action, or attempts at action, highlighting Tim’s inexperience as he gets lured into a trap and does some stupid stuff like throwing his melee weapon right at his opponent. You can definitely see the passion in Tim’s face and in Ridley’s dialogue and passion, but he’s not even close to Batman or Batwing yet. On the visual side, Benjamin’s layouts are simple, yet effective using 2 or 3 panels a page to show how deep the shit Tim is getting in. The final page is a weird angle/choice from him and Akins though, but it connects him to the context of Future State and the larger DC Universe. Second Son #1 is a pretty, straightforward riff on Batman Year One with an international setting and focus on hacking as well as hand to combat. It’s not spectacular, but it’s solid. Opening with an extended action sequence is always a good move. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Future State-Superman: House of El #1 (DC)– House of El #1 is a glimpse at a far-flung future where the descendants of Superman from various planets band together to defend Earth from the Red King and his minions. Philip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski craft a world where Superman and his fellow heroes are practically a myth and where hope is all but lost. Theand’r, who is Kryptonian and Tamaranean, even thinks Superman never existed, and that he was a story to inspire Kryptonian immigrants who found a home on Earth. Johnson throws a lot of interesting ideas that could sustain a mini, but he and Godlewski condense it down to one double-sized comic with plenty of action and an enemy that is a metaphor for white supremacism. Godlewski’s compositions during the fight scenes fill up the page as the remnants of the House of El fight Parademons, Black Racer, and multiple Doomsdays. He draws blockbuster superhero action and interpersonal moments equally well adding a level of vulnerability to these warriors. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6 (Dark Horse)– Jeff Lemire and Toni Zonjic’s commentary on child sidekicks, violent vigilantes who were formerly child sidekicks, and 1990s Frank Miller art concludes in Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6. Zoncic’s art is definitely the highlight of this final issue with a contrasting red and blue palette as Skeleton Boy struggles between choosing a life of violence with Skulldigger or something more stable with Officer Reyes and her partner. He also does some striking black and white work for the big emotional beats and also for Skulldigger’s kills. Storywise, Lemire creates a parallel between Skulldigger’s strained relationship with his mentor when he was the young sidekick Alley Cat, and his similar trauma bond with Skeleton Boy as he’ll probably end up getting Skeleton Boy hurt or killed. The actual ending of the issue seems like an anti-climax, but Lemire and Zonjic create a wonderfully redemptive moment for Matthew (Formerly known as Skeleton Boy) while lingering on a couple images of a lonely Skulldigger, whose vigilante crusade and vendetta against Grimjim (Think the Joker plus immortality.) will never end. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Crossover #4 (Image)– Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Ready Player One comic book edition continues in Crossover #4. Wisely, they’ve sidestepped their feeble attempts at real world relevance or commentary on the medium and gone for all out action in this issue with the standout being a Ben-Day dot filled double page spread featuring Madman, a yo-yo, and a nostalgic color palette from Dee Cuniffe. The lead characters Ellie, Ryan, and Ava are just ciphers taking the reader from Easter Egg to Easter Egg with Cates’ ominiscient narrator seeing more as a cover his ass situation than adding anything substantial to the series. As co-creators of the series, Cates and Shaws are well within their rights to make God Country a critical part of Crossover’s plot, but it really cheapens the resonance of a series that was their most emotionally honest work. Unless you’re a hunt the Easter Egg enthusiast, this one is worth skipping along with their prose and TV medium relatives, the aforementioned Ready Player One and Stranger Things Season One. Geoff Shaw and Dee Cuniffe’s visuals are very pretty though. Overall: 5.3 Verdict: Pass

Department of Truth #6 (Image)– James Tynion and guest artist Elsa Charretier peel the table behind the Department of Truth a little bit in a flashback story as a fresh off killing JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald learns about the conspiracies of 1000 AD. Compared to the series’ usual style, Charretier’s art has an earthiness that works for the medieval setting, and she even riffs on tapestry as the hag in the woods/Julia Augusta spins basically the origin story of the Illuminati featuring the Julian Calendar, monks, and fake Charlemagne. Tynion and Charretier explore the underlying theme and purpose of Department of Truth, which is to make sure a certain narrative is a dominant one and places it in the wider context of medieval European history. The Roman empire has fallen, Islam is on the rise, and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church are about to break apart so why not create the fiction of something that is neither an empire, holy, or Roman to hold things together. It will be interesting to see the ideas introduced in Department of Truth #6 echo down the road and see some of the recurring imagery and themes. It’s definitely my favorite issue of the series so far. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Future State: Batman/Superman #2 (DC Comics) – The art shines a bit more than the story itself which just feels like a way to add more flavor to this new Gotham and the Magistrate. It has some great themes I’d love to see explored more but overall, it feels like the end of a filler arc that touches upon bigger things elsewhere. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Dark Detective #4 (DC Comics) – The issue makes me want more of this future Gotham and story direction. The first story features the showdown between Batman and the Magistrate’s leader and it’s a hell of a battle. The art is fantastic with some amazing spreads and awesome action. The second story featuring Jason Todd delivers some solid twists and turns leaving the reader with a lot of questions that’ll be answered in the future. This was the Future State I wanted and it left me begging for it to continue. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 (DC Comics) – I really don’t know the Legion of Super-Heroes and this disconnect had me shrugging my shoulders with this one. This comic feels a bit more for the die-hards with knowledge. The art is solid with a very unique style so that was at least entertaining for me. Overall Rating: 6.5 Recomendation: Pass

Future State: Suicide Squad #2 (DC Comics) – The Suicide Squad portion of the comic is fanastic. The ending is something I didn’t see coming and it just feels like a solid mission for the team on another world. The art is really good delivering entertaining action with some subtle things here and there that really stand out. The Black Adam story is interesting but since I’m not into the whole magic aspect of the DC universe, it just didn’t quite pack the punch for me. The ending was also solid but the art stands out with some pages packed in with action and characters. You’ll need a bit to take it all in. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #2 (DC Comics) – Writer Mark Russell delivers the humor and satire I’d expect in a story where Lex Luthor rules over an entire planet. There’s some solid digs and concepts in here and it gave me a good laugh. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Generations Forged #1 (DC Comics) – There’s a lot of talent with this comic which really should have been released as individual chapters digitally. Seeing different heroes from different times together is fun and there’s a nice retro feel to it all, story and look wise. The comic also opens up the concept of the Linearverse which feels a bit odd and clunky with the current reset of the DC Universe and expansion of the Omniverse. Overall, great concept with an ok execution. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Batman: Black & White #3 (DC Comics) – I’m loving this anthology series and just want more of it. The stories and art is varied with John Ridley’s opening standing out. This is a fantastic buy and exactly what DC should be putting out more often. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Black Widow #5 (Marvel) – The best series on Marvel’s shelf right now. This wraps up the initial arc delivering some unbelievable action and amazing art. There’s so much to take in and just nails everything I’d want in a Black Widow comic. This is the series I have to read with each release. Overall Rating: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Chasing the Dragon #1 (Heavy Metal) – An interesting fantasy series that mixes in a concept of addiction to dragon’s blood to it. The opening is a little choppy with some good ideas that I want to see where it goes. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Crossover #4 (Image Comics) – I’ve really been enjoying this series which dips between great concepts and nostalgia. This issue feels a bit heavy on the nostalgia end of things as the creators reference one of their own creations. It feels a bit like autofellatio. There’s some solid art though which really stands out. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 (Marvel) – It’s M.O.D.O.K. versus Gwenpool a character I normally dislike. She works here in this over-the-top issue and series that features other organisms designed for killing. A silly, action-filled comic, that’ll leave you laughing. It’s delivered every issue with great jokes and solid art. It’s Looney Tunes type fun. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Nailbiter Returns #10 (Image Comics) – The latest volume wraps up and it’s a hell of an ending. Though it’s a little choppy it feels very appropriate for a horror sequel. There’s also a bit I don’t want to spoil. For those that have followed this series, you’ll be happy with the finale. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Stray Dogs #1 (Image Comics) – A hell of a debut featuring a dog with memory problem that winds up in a new home. The art is amazing and the build-up to the comic is gasp-inducing and also heartbreaking at moments. This is a must-get and must-read. Just fantastic in every way. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #5 (Marvel) – The issue wraps up the miniseries with a showdown between Marneus and the Chaos forces. It brings things together in the two storylines and art is decent as usual. It ups the blood and guts a bit and overall is a satisfying though not exciting finale. Overall Rating: 7.0 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/20/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Future State: The Next Batman #4 (DC)– John Ridley, Nick Derington, and Laura Braga’s four part “Next Batman” serial concludes as one of the killers that Tim is trying to bring to justice turns on him. This cliffhanger is quickly resolved, and we’re onto a chase scene with a suburban instead of a Batmobile. Derington and Braga continue to be nimble with the action scenes picking interesting moments to focus on like the brake slam before the Peackeeper’s motorcycles come and using grids for hand to hand combat. Theme-wise, Ridley shows Fox’s struggles as Batman, especially with the no-killing rule, and that he has no friends among the GCPD before wrapping everything up with a strained, yet slightly tender family moment. Seeing a Batman who has a living family that thinks he’s a loser is an interesting dynamic, and I look forward to seeing more of it in the upcoming Tim Fox digital series“Batgirls” concludes with a glorious prison break story that also sets up the status quo in Future State Gotham going forward. Writer Vita Ayala uses time stamp captions based on the time of the prison riot started by Stephanie Brown to create tension and also show what’s going on in Cassandra Cain’s hacking/rescue mission. Aneke varies her layouts using double page spreads for the big prison brawl featuring Stephanie and various supervillains and using precise, diagram-style ones for Cass’ break in. And then she and Ayala spring the big emotional moment: a big reunion with Barbara Gordon aka Oracle that changes the tone of the whole story for good and shows that heroism can still exist even in a fascist state as they also show that the paradigm of hero/villain has changed in this new setting. “Batgirls” has excellent action, but Vita Ayala and Aneke especially nail the little reunion moments at the end between Steph and Cass and Oracle and a slightly too pragmatic Nightwing. They are a true dynamic duo and really understand the Bat-family’s relationship even in a dark, crappy futurePaula Sevenbergen, Emanuela Luppacino, and Wade von Grawbadger’s tonally all over the place “Gotham Sirens” wraps up with a mix of darkness and girl’s night out antics. This is a comic where a tech billionaire but the the consciousness of a dying teenage girl into his sex-bot and also one where the eggplant emoji is used to describe Bruce Wayne. Luppacino’s art captures the sparkling personalities of Selina, Poison Ivy, and Dee as well as the mayhem of the Peacemakers, but the story doesn’t know if it wants to be a fun romp or a serious story about consent, cyber ethics, and what it means to be human. It’s definitely the weak link of the bunch even though it has some fun ideas like Poison Ivy opening a speakeasy and talking about how she turns to cause instead of people because she’s afraid to get vulnerable. Sevenbergen definitely has a good handle on her character, but she makes the underdeveloped, plot device, borderline trauma porn original character Dee the focus of the story, which makes it less effective. Overall: 8.1 Verdict: Buy

Snow Angels #1 (Comixology Originals)– Jeff Lemire and Jock combine their storytelling sensibilities to tell the story of a dad and his two daughters, Milliken and Mae Mae, who live in a post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland called the Trench. This is a world where clouds cover the sky, children learn how to ice skate before walking, and folks cower in fear before the mysterious Snowman. Jock uses a lot of negative space to show the sheer bleakness of the landscape using pencil and ink to make wind, ice, and snow cover everything. During more tense scenes, like the hunting of a wolf, he adds reds and blacks to create tension and shifts to a more radiant palette when the dad gives Milliken a birthday present: a relic of the “before times”. He and Lemire have the task of establishing a world and a family dynamic, and they do that by having everything center around a coming of age hunt/road trip. It’s refreshing to see sibling squabbles still happening in the midst of the apocalypse, and Lemire’s skill combining interpersonal relationships in genre setting is a perfect fit for this comic. Throw in an air of mystery and a refreshing subversion of traditional gender roles in a society that is definitely in patriarchal, hunter gatherer mode, and Snow Angels #1 is a solid start to a series that fits in with my current icy, living-in-a-pandemic reality. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Barbalien: Red Planet #4 (Dark Horse)– Tate Brombal, Jeff Lemire, and Gabriel Walta look into the background of Luke/Barbalien’s lover, Miguel using grids and minimal captions to trace the life of this Puerto Rican activist, who has AIDS and lost his boyfriend to the virus. It gives context to his passion and creates distance between them when Luke tries to “come out” as Barbalien, which he eventually just does in a full page spread that comes after 17 pages of build-up. Also, Brombal goes after the Catholic Church in this issue and shows the homophobia and hatefulness of many Christian organizations (Especially at that time), and how they contributed to the stigma towards AIDS and HIV and hindered finding a cure or treatment for these diseases. With the conflict building between the predominantly Black and Latinx queer community of Spiral City and their police department, the serial killer plotline featuring Boaz isn’t as compelling even though it’s interesting that he probably gets away with his crimes because he’s disguised as a police officer. Barbalien: Red Planet #4 features a big moment in Barbalien’s life and also shows him struggling with his various identities: Martian, superhero, cop, and gay man. There is emotion and a darkness to Walta and Joride Bellaire’s visuals that is only broken up by the growing scope of the conflict as this mini goes into its final issue. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Hollow Heart #1 (Vault)– Paul Allor and Paul Tucker turn in a pretty good slow burn queer romance between a cyborg El and his mechanic Mateo. Allor’s philosophical, at times tangential narration fleshes out the profound empathy that Mateo shows to people, and why he wants to set El free from the base that he’s at and would rather die than spend another day there. Tucker’s art is hit or miss for me with the opening pages being a little unclear to follow, and Allor’s dialogue setting up the context that El is running away. However, I love his color choices, especially the pink for El’s face, and the mood lighting at the bar where Mateo tries to build a rapport with a coworker and at an apartment where he tries to empathize with a hook up, but really only cares for El. Hollow Heart is definitely centered around their relationship, and Tucker builds it with glances between them while Allor adds precise dialogue to build their romance like El immediately starting to speak when Mateo says he respects him. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Once and Future #16 (BOOM!)– Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain return to the Brexit-y, Grail myth trappings of the early issues of Once and Future in this action-packed middle chapter. With Bridgette and Duncan holed up and stuck between the proverbial fire and frying pan (Lancelot and a dragon), the walls between myth and the real world are dangerously thin. There is just as much political conniving and maneuvering as gun and sword play in Once and Future #16, and Mora and Bonvillain are game for either kind of scene going for big reaction shots and even bigger bursts of colors any time Lancelot or Merlin do their thing. By the time the final page rolls around, our main cast seems to be totally screwed, and Dan Mora has fun on a “redesign” of a previous antagonist that we thought was a protagonist. Once and Future continues to be one of Gillen’s more setpiece and plot driven comics, but issue 16 shows that this book still has a bit of a bite with its comment on British nationalism, government bureaucracies, and the ability to twist stories to one’s end. (See what white supremacists have done with Thor’s hammer and Odin’s symbols.) Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2 (Ahoy!)– Mark Russell and artists Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy satirize the commercialization of Christianity by evangelicals, prosperity preachers, televangelists etc in Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2. On a hunt for more disciples, Jesus rolls up up to Bible Safari that instantly brought flashbacks of places like the Creation Museum, Ark Experience, and even church fairs/events as these ancient writings lose context and meaning to make a buck. Pace channels his inner Sienkiewicz and uses a scratchy style for the waves of people at Bible Safari and nails the depersonalization of 21st century life and being a statistic in a mega church. However, Second Coming #2 isn’t all satire and irony, but Russell throws in a touching B-plot that becomes an A-plot as Jesus just *connects* with a man attempting suicide on a bridge aka the polar opposite of the televangelist company he called earlier. I like this book when it’s being sharp, but I love it when it’s being sweet and humanist. (In the nice chaplain at my university sense, not the Bill Maher one.) Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Cable #8 (Marvel)– With the exception of some gorgeous art and colors from Phil Noto and witty banter from Cable and Domino via Gerry Duggan’s dialogue, Cable #8 is really a confusing mess of clones, time travelers, timelines, and Stryfes. Annoyingly enough, it starts like Armageddon with Domino narrating and comparing her powers to asteroids hitting each other. There’s some charm to the Tokyo setting as Domino and Cable enjoy gyoza at a Space-Knight themed eatery, and Noto’s fight choreography is sharp and fun on an aesthetic level. However, there’s no deeper level or reason to care about these characters beyond the “pew pew” of it all as Cable fights copies of himself and has a crisis about his place on the timeline. Maybe, if I read more X-comics from the 1990s, I would get it. Domino’s charisma, and Phil Noto’s portrayal of her powers keep this one from being a total stinker, but it’s still a pass from me. Overall: 5.6 Verdict: Pass

Marauders #18 (Marvel)– Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, and Stefano Casselli show Krakoan foreign policy in action in Marauders #18 as the team buys up property and opens a free clinic in Madripoor to fight back the gentrification of the Homines Verendi. Iceman, Bishop, and Pyro take center stage with some key guest appearances from Professor X, Magneto, and (!!) Proteus, who shows that this clinic is named after his mother Moira MacTaggart. (This is a bit of a tie-in to Powers of X, and I’m curious to see how it’s explored down the road.) However, the real action in Marauders #18 comes from a new take on the Reavers, who are humans that have been maimed by characters like Iceman and Gorgon and are fitted with upgrades to take their revenge. The Reavers combined with the Marauders not being so stealthy puts pressure on the team and shows some consequences to Krakoa’s well-intentioned saber rattling. After the Shaw storyline, Duggan and steady artists Lolli and Casselli are really on a role combining political allegory and superhero team-up action in Marauders. However, Bishop joking about “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” was in very poor taste even if it is one panel in the midst of many. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Bu

Brett

Batman/Catwoman #3 (DC Comics) – An improved issue for me. The narrative is a bit clearer as to the timelines and there’s a hell of a lot of tension throughout the issue. The art is solid though there seems to be a bit of a focus on Catwoman’s ass throughout. A much better issue than the first two and I’m finally interested in seeing where the series goes. Overall Rating: 7.95 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Catwoman #2 (DC Comics) – DC has been running on full cylinders with Batman’s corner of Future State. In this series we see how a captured Bruce/Batman was freed and talks of the Resistance against the Magistrate. It’s a sliver of the bigger picture and works so well building the world. These two issues deliver solid action with Catwoman on a mission to steal from a train and it works so well. The art is top notch showing off the action and creating a fantastic flow that’s befitting a train heist. DC has nailed this pocket universe and every series and issue involved has been a piece of the puzzle creating a hell of a picture. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Nightwing #2 (DC Comics) – A nice action comic that’s a bit more than one long fight sequence. There’s some interesting bits about technology and the use of media to wage wars and battles. Again, as a piece of the larger story about a Future Gotham, it’s a great piece of the puzzle. There’s some fantastic moments that really hit a solid beat with the art just nailing the action. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Shazam! #2 (DC Comics) – I really like the concept of the comic’s two issues. But, it takes a bit too long before things come together. The ending also is a bit shrug unless you really know the character, which I don’t. The art is solid though I’d like to have seen a little bit more torture in Shazam over what’s going on. A not bad issue that’s so close to being great. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #2 (DC Comics) – The main Superman story has a nice poetic aspect to it with some fantastic art. There’s a Spartacus/World War Hulk vibe about it but the comic makes a fantastic case for Superman’s position and what he’s up to and why. The trio of other stories are a bit mixed. Featuring Mister Miracle, Midnighter, and a new Black Racer, each story has some good and bad about it. They all feel setups for things to come though never giving a complete feel to them. They feel like preludes to something else instead of self-contained stories which feels odd for a self-contained event like this. Still, each is entertaining. The issue as a whole is pretty solid and does a decent job of crafting a “world” revolving around Superman. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2 (IDW Publishing) – The issue is fantastic like the debut. There’s a lot of history laid out here as we get a better sense of the world and what happened to the Turtles. There’s a hell of a lot of tragedy to it that matches the action. This is a must for TMNT fans and those that love stories like The Dark Knight. Overall Rating: 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/13/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Future State: Dark Detective #3 (DC)– The lead story of Future State: Dark Detective #3 definitely lives up to its title as Bruce Wayne discovers just how much of a surveillance state Gotham has become under the Magistrate and begins to fight back against it. Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, and Jordie Bellaire (Who brings the neon cyberpunk color palette) shows Batman using his mind and deductive skills over gadgets and physical combat to solve a billionaire’s murder and connect it to the Magistrate and Peacemakers. On the visual front, Mora and Bellaire give Bruce a world-weariness complete with stubble, a minimalist costume, and very mid-1990s approach to hacking that adds to his transformation from establishment billionaire to anti-authoritarian hacker. Tim Fox’s Next Batman makes an appearance in this issue, but Tamaki and Mora subvert the hero vs hero tropes having Bruce wish he had Fox’s suit and tech. However, he makes a crack about his inexperience. Mora uses symmetrical layouts that show half of Bruce and Fox’s cowl to make a contrast between them before returning to his drone snatching/hacking and murder solving mission. With the stakes becoming bleak, there’s really no room for Batman’s alter ego, Jeff, to be developed, and Tamaki nails Bruce’s obsessive focus on a mission while capturing a little of the sadness that he can’t be open around his roommate’s daughter.What starts as a straightforward chase/explosion comic with Huntress driving the motorcycle with Grifter behind her and Luke Fox in the side car turns into a never ending series of double crosses and blackmail. Matthew Rosenberg and Carmine Di Giandomenico really capture the spirit of this two part serial’s title, “Grifters”, with Fox, Huntress, and Grifter wheeling and dealing for a way to get out of Gotham, make some scratch, and keep the Magistrate off their back. There aren’t a lot of quiet moments in the book so it’s good that Di Giandomenico is a master of blur and speed lines and is a good match for Rosenberg’s dark, deadpan sense of humor like when Grifter tries to take out a big ol’ drone with guns akimbo. Funny bits and lines aside, “Grifters” is really a comic about screwing people over and compromising morals for safety, security, and maybe a paycheck. Matthew Rosenberg connects this theme to the big plot twist making it more satisfying as Cole Cash ends the story in a similar place as the beginning, but with a nice smidgen of growth. He’s a devilish outlaw gunfighter, who’s a bit of asshole, but is loveable nonetheless, and I’m glad that Rosenberg gets to write him in Batman: Urban Legends Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Black Hammer Visions #1 (Dark Horse)– The Black Hammer universe is full of homages, re-workings, and deeper psychological explorations of superhero characters, archetypes, and comics. However, in Black Hammer Visions #1, Patton Oswalt, Dean Kotz, and Jason Wordie do a pastiche of Daniel Clowes’ ode to adolescent misanthropy and general weirdness: Ghost World. Most of the story centers around Eunice and Barbara (Who are dead ringers for Enid and Rebecca) as they sit at a diner on the last day of high school, being quirky, and reminiscing about a classmate of theirs, Gail Gibbons aka Golden Gail. Golden Gail used to be a 50 year old who said a magic word and was transformed into a 10 year old superhero, but now she’s stuck as a 10 year old and it sucks. Oswalt and Kotz mine a lot of comedy out of Golden Gail’s foulmouthed and bleak sense of humor like when she does her science project about death. However, there is a sweetness in her (and her “cousin” Windy) bond with Eunice and Barbara as she assures them that sometimes friends move apart, and that it’s okay to march to the beat of your own drum. Thus, Black Hammer Visions #1 is a much more hopeful story than Ghost World. With the exception of one scene with guests from the original Black Hammer series, Dean Kotz’s art and Jason Wordie’s colors have a subdued, indie vibe with little flashes of detail to make the story richer and more humorous. In keeping with his comedian persona, Patton Oswalt and Kotz craft a comic that embraces the weird and offbeat and hits a sweet spot between the emotional vulnerability of indie comics and emotional bombast of superhero comics with a side of biting sarcasm. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Future State: Green Lantern #2 (DC)– Geoffrey Thorne and Tom Raney handle the conclusion of Future State: Green Lantern #2’s lead story, and it sputters to the finish line despite gladiator John Stewart and the New God Orion making a cameo in his new souped up form. Thorne’s script reads like a bad mashup of Star Trek science-speak and a 2000 AD war comic (Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog etc) with neither of the franchises’ smarts, sense of humor, or satirical edge. Two issues doesn’t give readers enough time to care about the large cast of former Green Lanterns around John Stewart, and Thorne also adds in loads of alien races and guest stars that are mainly used as plot devices. To go along with the story issues, Geoffrey Thorne really leans into the militaristic side of the Green Lantern Corps and basically turns them into space versions of American troops overseas while not exploring this dynamic and having Orion give contradictory, rah rah speeches. On the visual side, Raney’s art is serviceable: a mixture of DC’s 90s house style with the edgy violence and armor of the New 52 books. Michael Atiyeh does bring bursts of color and energy to Tom Raney’s line art, but he could have used a more imaginative script. Just like issue one, Future State: Green Lantern’s backups outshine its lead story. First up, Josie Campbell and Andie Tong tell an odd couple/team-up story of Teen Lantern and Mogo going to meet with Jo Mullein for training. Campbell and Tong show that even if she doesn’t have an actual power ring, Teen Lantern has courage and willpower that she uses to help her new planet-sized friend in the depths of space. The interactions between Mogo and Teen Lantern are super cute, and colorist Will Quintana nails the palette of utter nothingness. However, the second backup from Robert Venditti and Dexter Soy is only slightly better than the lead story and is a glorified montage of Hal Jordan fighting through the universe and looking for the Green Lantern Corps. I love how Soy varies his line weight and art style beginning with a Hal that looks straight from an artist in the early 2000s that I don’t want to mention by name to channeling Jamal Campbell clean, sleek style when this issue’s epic guest star shows up at the end. Venditti’s plot isn’t so much a story, but a thesis about why Hal Jordan is irrelevant when there are so many other Green Lanterns with more complex personalities and diverse backgrounds. I can definitely get behind that sentiment, but his story doesn’t really defend and saves the “alternative” for an upcoming Green Lantern storyline that I don’t think Venditti is even writing. Overall: 6.3 Verdict: Pass

Commanders in Crisis #5 (Image)– Steve Orlando and Davide Tinto turn in a classic split the team up so they can be better fleshed out issue. They also dig into the underpinnings of the series. In a world where empathy is dead, why would anyone be a superhero? Commanders in Crisis #5 is full of bits and bobs of cool ideas even if some of them don’t connect like the first superheroes wearing mask because they’re both queer and covering for each other, or TV show algorithms and social media posts turned physical and evil. Tinto’s animation-tinged art style continues to make Orlando’s high concepts flesh, and they introduce a new villain for the cool, yet fractured Crisis Command team to face. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Brett

Casual Fling #1 (AWA Studios) – Definitely a different comic than most of what’s on the shelves. The series seems to take a bit of inspiration from films as the story focuses on a woman who has an affair. The end of the comic teases rough times ahead including stalking and maybe some blackmail but we’ll see what the next issue brings. It gets a lot of points for originality for comics but it feels like a story we’ve seen before elsewhere. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Justice League #2 (DC Comics) – Two stories that aren’t bad but also didn’t quite hook me. Both also leave things wide open making them feel like chapters in an ongoing series that we’ll get more of. I kind of hope we do as each has a lot of potential but as is I felt like I was left hanging. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #2 (DC Comics) – A more interesting Future State comic. It feels in some ways a discussion not just of Superwoman but how she differs from Superman. This manifests in their legacy and how they pass that along. While the first half of the comic had me shrugging my shoulders, the second half was poetic and really beautiful. The art too is amazing and stunning. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Robin Eternal #2 (DC Comics) – There’s a lot of potential built in here and hopefully we get to see more of this Robin. Wacked out on Lazarus Resin, Robin and his team still have a goal of stopping the shipment to help Gotham. The art really helps up the issue as Robin begins to lose his grip on reality on the Lazarus Resin and we as readers have to guess what’s what with what he’s seeing. There’s a good setup for an ongoing and I hope to see it but as is it feels like a decent start but with what’s to come likely being even better. Overall Rating: 7.15 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Teen Titans #2 (DC Comics) – This issue feels epic and though it doesn’t completely wrap up the story, I still am left satisfied. There’s a lot of hints and dancing around the past but it looks like we’re going to get some of that in the upcoming Teen TItans: Academy. There’s really good action, really fantastic art, and most of all, it hits the right emotional notes. The comic feels like superheroes being superheroes and sacrificing themselves. There’s also a nice magical moment to wrap things up. While it’s a small piece of the puzzle, it still works and has me really exciting to see what’s to come. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Rorschach #5 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – As a piece of the puzzle, the comic is great. It gives us an interesting look at Turley, the candidate running against Redford and the target of a failed assassination. As a politician and candidate, I feel like I have a better sense of that. Like a lot of what Tom King writes, this is but a sliver of the bigger picture. It doesn’t stand on its own but it’s really good. While the series as a whole works better as a political thriller than tie-in to Watchmen, it can be enjoyed on its own without that distraction. The art continues to be interesting, not quite clicking with the time period it takes place in. But, as another chapter in the mystery, I’m hooked to see how it ties into the bigger picture. Overall Rating: 8.0 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/6/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Future State: The Next Batman #3 (DC)– In the third installment of “The Next Batman”, John Ridley and Laura Braga showcase Jace’s naivete as he still thinks that he can somehow work inside a legal system that would shoot him on sight. Also, he trusts the two killers he’s holed up with a little too much. Even with Derington only on layouts, his instincts for action choreography sing through, and Braga executes the figures and moves beautifully showing that Tim is truly an analog Batman by having him finish off a high tech drone with a rock. Changing Batman from a rich white billionaire to a Black man, who may have a rich family, but he’s despised by them gives the character a certain underdog quality, and I’m really rooting for Jace to succeed as a hero. He has solid values even though that might not be the best personality aspect to have in a city run by the Magistrate. My only quibble with this story is the character of Lucius Fox, who has gone from being a heroic figure, to being okay with shoot on sight robocops, but maybe he’s like Colin Powell and Joker War is his 9/11. I really hope Ridley explores his character more in the upcoming Tim Fox Batman digital series. Brandon Thomas, Sumit Kumar, Raul Fernandez, and Jordie Bellaire’s epic “Outsiders” story concludes with Duke Thomas showing he’s Gotham’s true protector in both word and deed while Katana and Black Lightning battle an old foe. Thomas’ captions for Duke’s speech are a little wordy and draw attention from Kumar and Bellaire’s rapid-paced action, but it does establish him as a leadership figure, who has been mentored by Batman and the Outsiders and now stands up for his city. The most creative part of “Outsiders” is Thomas and Kumar’s take on Black Lightning, who is living in Soultaker, and enhances its abilities with his metahuman powers. He can also show up as a blue, less eerie Dr. Manhattan figure too, and he adds literal energy to every fight scene, especially when Duke strolls around Gotham in the end with a yellow and black jacket and a huge sword on his back. He’s cursed, but he’s still a hero, and there for his friends. When Sumit Kumar and Jordie Bellaire are doing their thing with vibrant colors, speed lines, and clever layouts, the “Outsiders” a great story; when there are walls of text or a boring villain is monologuing, it’s subpar. However, I’m mostly here for the beautiful storytelling and Duke Thomas coming into his own as a hero. Unlike the first installment of “Arkham Knights”, Paul Jenkins and Jack Herbert focus more on action than characterization with the exception of Astrid, who narrates the issue, Dr. Phosphorus, and to a lesser extent, Harvey Dent, who sets their little hope heist into action. Astrid still has that Azrael-esque delusional streak as she compares herself to a Kushite queen that never paid taxes to the Romans. However, Jenkins gives her a bit of a heart like when she comforts and tries everything in her power to save Dr. Phosphorus and speaks up for Dent went Zsasz threatens him during their strategy meeting. Most of the story is fighting with Herbert going for a clean, house style of storytelling, but swap superheroes for villains and the Bat-signal for something else. I do like how he draws the Arkham Knights more expressively compared to the cold, fascist Magistrate, who get the most sterile dialogue from Jenkins. “Arkham Knights” wasn’t great, but I didn’t hate it, and it’s a slightly above average look at the other elements of the anti-police state resistance in Gotham Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

King in Black: Marauders #1 (Marvel)– What starts as a rescue mission/event tie-in transforms into commentary on the refugee crisis, but with mutants, alien dragons, and symbiotes. Gerry Duggan and Luke Ross, for the first time in a long time, assemble the full Marauders team and have them going to New York to rescue the “Knullified” Storm and Cyclops. However, they end up saving a boat of humans instead that Bishop (Thanks to his instinct and knowledge of Morse code.) finds out is a front for human trafficking. The comic starts out as an all out action spectacular with Pyro blazing and cursing at symbiotes, Bishop shooting them, and Lockheed doing his thing “like a chihuahua in a dog park”. However, it ends up exploring several moral dilemmas with arguments over the treatment of the traffickers, what to do with the refugees, and finally, Bishop having a special mission from X-Force. Duggan and Ross show the Marauders doing the right thing and having the refugees (Who wanted to go to Canada, not in the United States, in a barb at the United States’ immigration policy) settle on Island M. However, the conclusion of the comic shows that they are treated like second class citizens there and not allowed to go to certain areas. Luke Ross nails the disdain in Magneto’s face as he reluctantly allows homo sapiens to settle on his “sanctuary”, and Duggan writes him with a touch of pragmatism as he sees this moment as a great propaganda victory for Krakoa. King in Black: Marauders #1 has fun mutant on symbiote action and also shows the ideological differences between the various Krakoans. Having Bishop narrate the issue is a nice touch as he is more of a soldier compared to Kate Pryde and Iceman’s superhero roles. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Future State: Wonder Woman #2 (DC)– Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire conclude the story of a hero’s journey, and sadly, failure in Future State: Wonder Woman #2. Yara Flor successfully makes it to the Underworld to rescue one of her Amazon compatriots, but let’s just say it doesn’t work out. Along the way, Jones threads in narration about the roots and nature of hero stories that perfectly complement her action-packed and emotion-filled artwork. She slices and dices the page when Yara fends off spiders, distracts Cerberus, or stares down Hades himself and goes for the close-up when Yara comes to terms with her loss. Bellaire’s palette is full of both brilliant and dark hues making Hades a total absence of light while Persephone is quite radiant. I love how she embellishes the Amazon armor and accessories too. All in all, Future State: Wonder Woman is a both Greek and Brazilian mythology tinged introduction to the charismatic, headstrong, and potential-filled hero, Yara Flor, and I look forward to seeing more of both Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire’s take on her in the Wonder Girl ongoing series. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Man-Bat #1 (DC)– Damn, Dave Wielgosz, Sumit Kumar, and Romulo Fajardo with the aid of jagged letters from Tom Napolitano make Kirk Langstrom one compelling character in Man-Bat #1. Wielgosz goes beyond making him a chemically powered, flying werewolf and goes into Langstrom’s psychology, addiction, and strained relationship with his wife. There’s very much an unreliable narrator feel to it all with Kumar drawing Man-Bat with swooping, Gothic hero poses while Batman is a little more mundane. His best work comes in the close-ups of a transformed Langstrom when Batman tells him that there is too much of the serum in the blood, and he’s going to kill him. As a scientist, Langstrom understands Batman is telling the truth, but Man-Bat won’t let him spend the rest of his days in Blackgate Prison. So, more destruction and chaos ensues. Man-Bat #1 is both a compelling character drama and action set-pieces gone wrong as its titular character is the worst vigilante character with Wielgosz writing Batman is a steady, even tone as he relates the casualties of Man-Bat’s foolishness. Kirk Langstrom comes across as a premium cable villain protagonist a la Walter White with wings, especially in his interactions with his wife, and you want him to find redemption even thought that’ll probably never happen. Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Luna #1 (BOOM!)– With sex, weird blood pacts, flowing skirts, and trippy visuals, Marie Llovet has captured the essence of hippie cult in Luna #1. She paces her comic naturally beginning with a tarot-influenced, double page splash that turns into a journey around the cult’s area going from desert to sing along to cave and weird sex ritual. Even though this issue is more of an experience and light on backstory, Llovet’s character designs provide hints into their personalities from our existential crisis suffering protagonist to the Jared Leto-meets-Charles Manson cult leader. Marie Llovet’s use of archetypal imagery is a teaser for the storyline to come, and her color palette and sound effects are nice icing on top of the story cake. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #2 (Ahoy)– Dragonfly (Think Ben Affleck’s Batman) and Dragonflyman (A dead ringer for Adam West) finally meet on Earth Zeta with the minions of their arch enemy, Number One looking to take them out. What follows is a roast-fest of a script from Tom Peyer as well as study in grittiness meets campiness from artists Jamal Igle and Juan Castro. Igle has a ball drawing the different random gadgets on the Dragonwagon, and the real comedy comes from the body language that Dragonfly has when he reacts to the repair button, the anti-acid button, and the one that makes the flipped over car right side up while his tank of a vehicle melts away. The overarching plot doesn’t progress that much with Peyer and Igle savoring the moment of these superhero’s first meeting with plenty of bickering and commentary on each other’s methods. Aka long speeches don’t play well these days, but also lethal force isn’t the answer. I look forward to seeing more arguments and escapades from this not so dynamic duo going forward, especially with the way Jamal Igle lays out and attacks the page. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Future State: Superman of Metropolis #2 (DC Comics) – Overall, this entry in Future State has been… ok. All three stories come together to flesh out an interesting world and ties together but the overall story with Jonathan Superman taking on a Brainiac knock-off feels like filler issues between more important arcs. This issue has a bit more of a focus on Jonathan as Superman, which is interesting, and legacy. But, overall, it’s an interesting but forgettable read. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Future State: The Flash #2 (DC Comics) – I’m not quite sure who thought it was a good idea to put Wally West in the position he’s in with this comic but.. it feels oddly timed. The story itself gets dark and depressing and while there’s some interesting concepts here the overall story doesn’t click. It feels like a miniseries for a bigger event. Overall Rating: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Far Sector #10 (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal) – The big picture is finally coming together and this is a comic that has me wanting to go back and re-read all of the previous issues. While the “villain” isn’t surprising where the comic goes is. This has been a series that’s been so relevant and on the nose of today’s zeitgeist it’s frightening and this issue is another example. Overall Rating: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Star Wars: The High Republic #2 (Marvel) – With the second issue, the series is getting a bit better for me. The Star Trek vibe is diminished and it feels a bit more like a more traditional Star Wars story. The new characters are intriguing and I’m digging where things are going. While it doesn’t blow me away, it’s an entertaining read and direction for the franchise. Overall Rating: 7.5 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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 1/30/2021

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Excalibur #17 (Marvel)– We get to see Otherworld go wonky, get a glimpse of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (Braddock) III of England, and even more fun, Pete Wisdom returns in Excalibur #17 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, and Erick Arciniega. Arciniega’s color palette is a special treat in this issue as he differentiates between alternate universe England that has a mutant queen and PM and the main universe’s England where the Clan of Akkaba wants to discriminate against mutants and especially not have one taking up the mantle of Captain Britain. The main plot concerns Betsy’s return to the main universe, and while the destination is predictable, the journey is quite fun. We get some great conversations between her and Angel and especially her and Kwannon about changing bodies, their relationship, and the role she’s played both as a mutant and prominent British figure over the year. Unfortunately, this skill doesn’t extend to action sequences which are muddy and not well-blocked with To and Arciniega covering everything in explosions and energy, even in a one on one bout between Kwannon and Betsy. However, the humor that characters like Pete Wisdom and Gambit bring to the issue as well as getting a glimpse of what happened to Betsy Braddock after she was shattered into pieces in “X of Swords” make this book worth reading even if it’s not the cream of the X-Book crop. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Future State: Dark Detective #2 (DC)– Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, and Jordie Bellaire’s main “Dark Detective” story shows how Bruce Wayne “died” and his current living situation as he fights a one man war on crime from the basement of a conspiracy theorist. Mora and Bellaire depict a stripped down, anti-corporate Batman, who still is cool, featuring lightning detective work, rooftop chases, and a neon palette that captures the futuristic tone of the story. However, the best moment of the story comes when Bruce Wayne is about to embrace his death at the hands of Peacemaker-01 before getting lucky at just the right minute. Mora cuts up the page to show that he’s lost a step, and that his mind is still sharp while his body is a little behind and can’t keep up with all the surveillance tech. Bruce (Or Roommate Jeff in this issue’s funniest gag) really needs a Terry McGinnis, but for now, he’ll settle for anti-tap water, yet pro-TV activist Noah and his daughter.With cool Akira-style motorcycles, a minimalist visual approach from artist Giannis Milonogiannis, and a despondent Jason Todd, “Red Hood” is a breezy, semi-depressing look at those employed by the Magistrate to hunt vigilantes. Joshua Williamson and Milonogiannis capture the pure sadness of Todd hunting down a vigilante who looks like the original “Red Hood” in a soup kitchen until with the help of Ravager, he discovers there’s more to this than meets the eye. Until he begins his unfortunately forced flirty repartee with Ravager, Todd stays pretty quiet, and Milonogiannis’ big, clean shapes and Jordie Bellaire’s flat colors tell the story. There’s definitely a real Copra, but corporate vibe to everything, and Williamson hits the cliffhanger just as Jason Todd starts to get in touch with his ol’ anti-hero roots. I definitely look forward to seeing more of Giannis Milonogiannis’ artwork and motorcycles whether or not that features Jason Todd. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

New Mutants #15 (Marvel)– Writer Vita Ayala really flexes their skill at balancing a large, ensemble cast of original New Mutants plus the young mutants they’re training along with a few fun guest stars like Daken. Add colorful and impressionistic art from Rod Reis, and a baddie (Shadow King) hiding in plain sight, and the creative team has really found a rhythm in New Mutants #15. Ayala writes both conversations and training/battle senses with purpose and honesty while Reis uses evocative visuals to drive their point home or add context to a continuity-driven scene like Wolfsbane being sad her son can’t be resurrected just yet. Her emotions are conflicts as she wants to party with the rest of the mutants at Bei and Doug Ramsey’s wedding reception, but she also wants to do everything in power to make sure her son experiences Krakoa. With the exception of the always amazing, yet a little awkward Gabby Kinney, I feel like I don’t know the younger mutants as well. However, Ayala writes a really powerful scene where Cosmar, who has nightmare abilities and is physically transformed by her powers, berates Dani for not understanding her when she wants to fight in the Crucible and be “changed back”. It’s a reminder that mutants see their abilities as curses, not gifts, and this is what makes these young characters vulnerable to Shadow King. If you like a big cast of characters, memorable conversations, and distinct visuals, Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’ New Mutants is worth taking a look at. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Wolverine #9 (Marvel)– Wolverine #9 has a lot of heart and some strong, refined storytelling from Benjamin Percy and Adam Kubert as Logan goes to an underground auction in Madripoor where his old Team X ally, Maverick, is up for sale. (Also, Wolverine’s severed hand and the tombstone from Kraven’s Last Hunt; there are Easter Eggs galore.) Even if you haven’t read those 90s comics, Percy and Kubert show their connection in wind-swept flashbacks as Logan and Maverick tried to keep their connection to humanity while Sabretooth indulged his bloodlust. Kubert slices and dices the page to show the gaps in Logan’s memory when he was only a killer, which makes The Merchant’s (Madripoor auction guru and source of dark comic relief) brain washing of Maverick hurt that much worse. Wolverine #9 has connections to an older era of comics, but Percy’s poetic writing, Kubert’s strong art, and an added layer of psychological depth make me feel for Maverick, a character I know from one issue of X-Force and an even more. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Department of Truth #5 (Image)– James Tynion and Martin Simmonds’ “all the conspiracy theories are true” (Or are they) thriller continues to be a bit of a mind-bender in Department of Truth #5. Our protagonist, Cole, takes a break from reptilian hallucinations, videos of mass slaughters, and star-shaped men to rest at his apartment while his husband goes out to drink with colleagues. (Cole has killed some of these other colleagues.) He runs into Black Hat, who is supposedly the series’ antagonist and weaves a story about how he’s not actually the bad guy, and it’s rooted in how the Department of Truth really isn’t keeping conspiracy theories just theories, but creating a favorable narrative about the United States. One thing that I love about this series (Except when you get to the QAnon stuff, which gets harshly rebuked for good reason.) is that after each issue, I come out in a haze and don’t know who to believe. Also, I enjoy how Tynion and Simmonds root the conspiracy in paranoia, imperialism, and control not racism or anti-semitism. Speaking of Simmonds, his Ralph Steadman/Bill Sienkiewicz style art continues to be a treat with its shifting backgrounds, caricatures of American exceptionalism, and at times, pure horror as he crafts imagery that connects to the next mystery/rabbit hole. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Future State: Aquaman #1 (DC Comics) – An intriguing comic that’s a lot of setup. There’s a new Aquaman who’s role is to not just defend the oceans but also teach Aqualass as well. Things go sideways when they’re pulled into the Confluence resulting in a world hopping adventure. There’s something that’d be great to this but there’s not enough time spent in each world, so it’s a lot of short hits and not enough depth. By the end, things really get going but the lead up feels a bit choppy for the most part. But, with the interesting concept and art, it’s enjoyable and I want to see what comes next. The comic would do better as a series to give it time to grow instead of a compact miniseries. But, it’s good in concept and has so much potential. Overall Rating: 7.95 Recomendation: Read

Future State: Batman/Superman #1 (DC Comics) – One of the best things to come out of DC’s Future State is the Magistrate and the new Gotham. It’s a great new take on Batman and when this is all over, to get more in this world would be great. This series brings Superman into the fold of that world in an intriguing story involving a drug that masks one’s look, perfect to protest against the Magistrate. From there, things get really interesting. It’d be great to get a better idea as to when this happens compared to other series but overall, it’s a great piece of the puzzle. The art too is solid with fantastic colors that both embrace the neon/dark look of Gotham but things still pop. Future State has had amazing worldbuilding and this is a great example. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Dark Detective #2 (DC Comics) – Bruce and Batman are dead… or at least that’s what everyone thinks. So, how is Bruce and Batman alive? This issue dives into how that happened in another fantastic issue of the series. Beyond the intriguing story and great details, the art pops delivering a neo-Gotham that looks like something out of anime. We also get another story featuring Red Hood who has taken up the job of bounty hunter bringing in masks which our outlawed in Gotham. Yes, it’s a betrayal to his friends but it adds another interesting layer to this new take on Gotham. Top notch stuff I want to see more of when Future State wraps up. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics) – I’ve tried to get into Legion of Super-Heroes multiple times and it’s a comic that’s never clicked for me. The same thing is here with character I could care less about and a situation that has little interest to me since I don’t know the source material. Riley Rossmo continues to rock his unique art style which is fun to see in this futuristic setting. But basically, if you’re into the comic before, you might dig this. If not, this isn’t one that’ll suck you in. Overall Rating: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Future State: Suicide Squad #1 (DC Comics) – That’s a hell of a debut. With two stories, the comic is full of twists and will leave you wanting more for each. The first follows the Justice Squad, a new team made up of some questionable members as they attempt to bring peace to their world. Sound familiar? Yeah, I’m not going to ruin it but the ending is fantastic. The second story follows Black Adam as evil returns to create destruction. There’s a lot here that’s unexpected as well. Again, not going to spoil it. Just two top-notch stories with solid art. Each features things I didn’t see coming. I want more! Overall Rating: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1 (DC Comics) – What if Trump ruled a planet and his bullshit started to sputter? That’s what you get in this series which takes some solid digs at his schtick and the complete chaos it’s caused. There’s a lot to chew on here and it’ll be fun to see where it all goes from this debut. Overall Rating: 8.0 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 (**).

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