Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.
These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.
Batman #25 (DC Comics) Batman #25 is a prologue to Tom King, Mikel Janin, and June Chung’s anticipated “War of Jokes and Riddles” storyline. It’s told in flashback by Batman himself and shows both the Joker and Riddler at their peak spreading chaos and crime through their humorous and puzzling M.O.’s respectively. I enjoyed King’s characterization of the Riddler as a kind of twisted tutor, who helped the GCPD with their homework, er, cases while using his personal knowledge about them to escape. Janin’s panels featuring him are symmetrical and occasionally look like prison bars because he feels like Batman’s the only riddle he can’t solve. The ones with Joker are much freer flowing and help set up an arc-long personal mystery of something Batman has done in his past that he regrets and hasn’t told anyone until now. This continues Tom King’s tradition of telling epic stories while remaining grounded in Batman’s own psyche. Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
Lobo/Road Runner Special #1 (DC Comics) In Lobo/Road Runner Special #1, Bill Morrison, comics legend Kelley Jones, and Michelle Madsen fit the classic Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons into an interconnected mythology that involves mad scientists and secret experiments. Then, Lobo shows up for the Road Runner and blows it all to hell. Seeing Lobo’s hopeless attempts to kill Road Runner with the annoying “Beep beep” in his ear as he regenerates over and over again is super hilarious. There’s also a B-plot where Wile E Coyote hunts down Kilowog for Lobo’s employer, and it’s nice to see him be competent and not just a punching bag for Road Runner. Jones’ take on Wile E is a little freaky, and he looks just like a mutated science experiment. Throw in a Morrison written and drawn backup where Lobo tries and fails to hunt Road Runner in the “kid-friendly” (Cartoon violence is more than okay.) Looney Tunes universe, and this is another excellent addition to the DC/Looney Tunes crossovers. Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy
Life with Kevin #4 (Archie) Life with Kevin is back with plenty of pratfalls, smooching, and Veronica drama courtesy of writer/artist Dan Parent and inker J.Bone. Kevin has to deal with the social media fallout of his going on a prom date with a young gay high school student and uses this as an opportunity to call out networks for exploiting this touching moment for ratings. Young queer kids aren’t commodities. In the second half of the story, Kevin runs into his cheating ex Michael, who has become the star of a Spanish language soap opera. Parent pokes fun at soap opera tropes in the middle of a comic that has become one while still bringing the emotion because Kevin pines for Michael even though he know he’s bad for him. Life with Kevin #4 is super adorable, super funny, and has just the right amount of the feels to go with Parent’s great Archie house style art and baby blue palette. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Royal City #4 (Image)** – Another fine, character-driven installment in Jeff Lemire’s beautifully laconic series, this issue probably would have benefited from having an editor give things a look as some of the internal monologues veer toward being overblown, but on the whole this book’s artfully-constructed humanity continues to impress and inspire. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Black Hammer #10 (Dark Horse)** – If you thought Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston unloaded a whopper of a cliffhanger on readers last issue,wait until you see this one! My sole (and very slight) concern is that they may have given away just a bit too much about what’s really going with their jaw-dropper this time out, but they’ve consistently surprised me so far, and there’s probably no reason to doubt that they have further surprises up their sleeve. Consistently magnificent stuff that really does reward folks who read it in singles. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
God Country #6 (Image)** – A superb wrap-to Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s heartbreakingly humane cosmic drama, this is a beautifully-scripted paean to love and loss between fathers and sons that will leave a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, amazingly illustrated by Shaw and even more amazingly colored by Jason Wordie. The one and only strike against it is that it reduces the previous few issues of Kirby-esque space battles to a mere redundancy and once you regain your composure, you’ll realize this whole thing could have been told just as — perhaps even more — effectively in three or four chapters rather than six. Still, this is agonizingly powerful stuff, especially for those of us with aging parents who we want to say a lot to while they’re still with us. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Batman #25 (DC)** – A fairly solid start to the new “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” storyline that doesn’t “wow” by any means, but is definitely a continuation of the recent quality uptick we’ve seen on the book. Tom King seems to be easing into something of a “groove” with the scripting on this series, and Mikel Janin’s artwork is simply stunning, and whileI’m a bit concerned about the fact that this is yet another journey back into Batman’s past rather than a story that will move the narrative — and the character — forward, what the hell? So far, so (pretty) good. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
I Hate Fairyland #13 (Image) – You know you’re onto something when you can start handing over your creator-owned series to guest artists and know that they won’t skip a beat. Dean Rankine handles the art on the story of Larry’s dream of a Gert-less life and he absolutely kills it. From the opening shot of fly maternity (which cannot be unseen), to the dung mines, to his ultimately meltdown on the Ellfen Show, every page is a wicked delight. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
The Old Guard #5 (Image) – Greg Rucka & Leandro Fernandez conclude their tale of immortal soldiers with many, many prices paid. Nothing earth-shaking here; it’s loud and fast-moving, but the action is solidly driven by the desires of the characters and everything actually makes dramatic sense, which is more than I can say for most action comics and movies. I think I’ve said it before, but if these two want to make more war comics I will buy them all. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).