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 #62 (DC)** – Not so much a stand-alone issue as a sidebar that connects into the current ongoing storyline, this is a pretty gruesome and unrelenting yarn, superbly illustrated by Mitch Gerads and featuring a (who thought we’d be saying this anytime again?) stunning Frank Miller variant cover, but all the pretty bells and whistles can’t hide another lackluster Tom King script. Points for trying, though. Overall: 5.5. Recommendation: Read. Or, more specifically, just look at the pictures
Martian Manhunter #2 (DC)** – Another terrific installment from Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo that adds depth and mystery both to J’Onn J’Onzz’s past on Mars and his more recent past on Earth. Two issues in, you already get the distinct feeling that this is shaping up to be something well and truly special. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
The Green Lantern #3 (DC)** – Grant Morrison is getting a bit more ambitious with his scripting here, but it’s still well below his usual standard. Hal Jordan confronts a God-like being who bought the Earth at a cosmic auction and then gets — uhhmmm — overzealous with some bad guys. That’s about it. Nicely-detailed, very crisp art from Liam Sharp elevates the proceedings a bit and truly magnificent colors from the great Steve Oliff elevates them even more, but it’s still a pretty average read at the end of the day. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Cemetery Beach #5 (Image)** – No one seems to be talking about this brisk, relatively high-concept science fiction barn-burner from Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why as it’s both fun and, believe it or not, coming out right on schedule. This is another breakneck chapter that doesn’t give you time to slow down and think, with magnificent, dynamic art. Might be a better read in trade as each “single” only takes a few minutes to read, but that’s a very solid and entertaining few minutes, indeed. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Die #2 (Image)– Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans bring more of the fantasy and RPG elements to the forefront in Die #2 as the main cast of characters are a little frightened to see their long lost friend ruling a fantasy world and also have a good timesettling into their old roles as Godbinder, Neo, Dictator, (especially) Fool, and more. They want to get back and return to their normal lives, but doing spells, fighting, and melding the cyberpunk aesthetic with fantasy can be pretty cool. These contradictions extend to Hans’ art, which ranges from majestic landscapes to maggot ridden corpses. At times, the book feels like Prince Caspian with horror elements, and seeing the heroic quest through jaded adult eyes is both sad and fascinating. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 (Marvel)– Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal’s new Spider-Man book is refreshingly street level and not in a crime sort of way, but in a Spider-Man/Peter Parker interacts with his roommates and neighbors, which drives the book. Sure, there’s a fantastic action scene towards the beginning, but Taylor and Cabal immediately connect it to a father and daughter moving to Peter’s area. And until things get weird, psychological, and property damage-y towards the end, this is a very location driven, slice of life book where Spider-Man helps people in his community instead of fighting animal themed villains or ninjas and dealing with awkward Marvel superhero cameos. The backup drawn by Marcelo Ferreira and Roberto Poggi is even more emotionally resonant because it’s told from Aunt May’s POV. This book is the perfect purchase for readers who want their superheroes a little more character driven, and Spider-Man to be involved in his community than whatever jet setting he was doing at the end of Dan Slott’s run. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Martian Manhunter #2 (DC)– Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo craft an emotional tour de force as J’onn is outed as a Martian to his partner, who completely and totally freaks out. With an almost gooey art style, Rossmo shows the painful effects of fire onthe Martian physiology that leads into a flashback of J’onn as a beat cop on Mars with a wife, kid, and an interest in the planet Earth. Orlando does some crazy worldbuilding with the Martian culture by giving the Green Martians a social shape they show around society and a private one for the closest people in their lives. Character comes before the mystery in this pulp detective story, and this is what makes it successful. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy
Barbarella / Dejah Thoris #1 (Dynamite) Writer Leah Williams (guest on my next episode of Graphic Policy Radio) and artist: Germán García weave together pulp heroines of two very different eras — the swinging-est of sixties and the birth of pulp fiction in the 1910s — and transform them into a hard scifi story. The art is pleasantly trippy. The science is robust. The ladies are flirting with each other. It’s good! Verdict: Buy
Die #2 (Image)** On its own merits the first issue of Die was my favorite debut of 2018. This second episode fulfills its promise as we get our first real look at the magical world of Die. Writer. Kieron Gillen is on point, wasting nary a panel or word of dialog to excess. Gillen conjures thrilling action and bizarre horrors with equal aplomb. Stephanie Hans’ artwork comes into its own,rendering Gillen’s visions in expressive lines. I wasn’t completely sold on her style before but now I can’t imagine any other artist taking her place. Die might be the best comic of this year. It also might be one of the best comics ever. Overall Rating:10. Recommendation: Buy.
The Dreaming # 5 (DC/Vertigo)** Si Spurrier and Bilquis Evely’s run on The Dreaming has been the best of the four titles in Vertigo’s Sandman Universe line. This issue is the best yet. Everything starts coming to a head as Judge Gallows reign of terror begins to fracture and Dora prepares to take a stand against his tyranny. Spurrier understands what made Gaiman’s Sandman unique was not just the plot and characters but the deeper themes that united. Evely’s artwork is as magnificent as ever though there are a few fill in pages that are not up to the high standards she has set for this book. Overall Rating: 8. Recommendation: Buy.
The Green Lantern #3 (DC)** Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern may well be one of the most insane comics I’ve ever read…and one of greatest. Morrison has a tendency to outpace his audience and write at a level most mere mortals can’t grasp. Here he manages to avoid that trap nicely producing a fun sci-fi adventure comic with hints of pulp. If you’ve never read a Morrison comic before this is a great one to start with. Every issue has been better than the last and this one is no exception. I never knew I wanted to see Hal Jordan punch God in the face with the giant green boxing glove until Liam Sharp showed it to me. Sharp is the perfect fit for this series. If you loved his work on Wonder Woman this is even better. His lush, hyper detailed style makes you feel like this should be hidden your mattress in an issue of Heavy Metal. The Green Lantern is so good waiting for the next issue hurts. Overall Rating: 10 Recommendation: Buy.
Star Wars: Jango Fett #1 (Marvel) In this one shot we get Marvel’s version of Batman and Damian. As Jango takes Boba on his first job with a crew. A double cross shows the young prodigy’s aptitude for the job. By issue’s end, this one story I would love to see continued. Overall: 9:3 Recommendation: Buy
Young Justice #1 (DC) Another book thats been away a minute that i was looking forward to. Bendis, Gleason no brainer. Well its not quite the bombastic return i was hoping for. Sure its great to see Conner, Cass and Bart back in the fold but it doesn’tfeel quite right. This doesnt feel like a homecoming as much as it does an awkward blind date. Now i love Damian Wayne but without careful observation I almost thought i was reading Tim Drake in a Robin costume again. Also the alien menace come to Earth and everyone bands together has been done to death. Also much better. I love all these characters but the magic is when they are on their downtime and being themselves. This just felt like a generic super team of teens taking on another menace. I’m sure this is just a building issue as all Bendis writing is. He does the long game but it didnt grab me out the gate. I think that is something he forgot how to do. It happened with the first issue of Superman and it happened here. Sure building the danger is great, but it doesn’t have to be boring right at the jump. I will chalk this up as one month and return for the next one but I am certainly not going to be long on this title if this is the tempo. Shame too given the talent that is on it. Overall: What should have felt like seeing long lost friends after many years just felt like a chore and not quite inspired. Score: 5 Recommendation: Pass
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 (**).