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 reviews of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full one for.
These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.
Minor Threats #1 (Dark Horse) – Minor Threats #1 is a “the Rogues/other B-list villains hunt down the Joker” with the serial numbers filed off comic from Patton Oswalt, Jordan Blum, Scott Hepburn, and Ian Herring. But it’s still delightful. The story is told from the POV of Frankie (Formerly Playtime), who used to be a supervillain, but now is a bartender that caters to bad guys. Through flashbacks and looks at her work and whatever passes as her home life, Oswalt and Blum paint a portrait of a woman who is desperate to move on from heists and gadgets and wants to be a mom to her daughter. However, that part of her life will always be seductive. Minor Threats‘ setting, style, and palette of the comic is very Bronze Age-meets-Dark Age with an inset panel-filled page showing the injuries that Insomniac has inflected on a villain a la the “This is an operating table” scene in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Hepburn and Herring add all kinds of fun background details in the art from the remnants of a kaiju battle in Frankie’s neighborhood to the Hoarders meets Silver Age supervillain decor of Frankie’s mom’s house. All in all, Minor Threats #1 has a hell of a hook and humanizes characters that are usually punching bags for the guys who get the toys and movies and Netflix shows and fills that Superior Foes-sized hole in my heart. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy
Amazing Fantasy #1000 (Marvel) – Marvel celebrates one of their biggest cash cows with a homage featuring lots of creators who haven’t worked on the character. (And one who I wish never did.) Anthony Falcone and Michael Cho‘s first story follows Spider-Man’s annual arrest of a two-bit crook in a retro style with flat colors and references to past adventures. It has a slightly mean-spirited tone, but reminds readers of Spidey’s role as the ultimate neighborhood protector even when aliens/space gods are invading. In the second story, Dan Slott and Jim Cheung tell a heart-warming story of Spider-Man at age 60 while drawing some parallels to Uncle Ben and having him share some sweet moments with MJ and the rest of New York. Cheung’s visuals hit the right balance between dark and light, and I love how Slott writes the relationship between MJ and Peter.
The third story by Veep‘s Armando Iannucci and Ryan Stegman goes away from the legacy/homage stuff to introducing a farcical supervillain that uses hallucinogenic ink to have all Daily Bugle readers believe their favorite conspiracy theory, including the newspaper loving Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson winning an expose for his hit-pieces about Spider-Man. It ends up being very Scooby-Doo, but Iannucci gets in a few good jokes and kudos to him and Stegman for creating something new instead of coasting on older stories. After this, Rainbow Rowell and Olivier Coipel tell a simple story about Peter Parker taking pictures of non-Spider-Man things (Except for Spidey getting ice cream on his costume.) on the perfect New York day while inner monologuing about not having enough money to take Betty Brant on a date. Coipel brings some incredible composition work on the photos, and colorist Matthew Wilson gives everything a sunny feeling.
Amazing Fantasy #1000‘s fifth story is a horror yarn from Ho Che Anderson, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Klaus Janson, and Jordie Bellaire. It’s set around the death of Gwen Stacy and captures the darkness of that era from the POV of a mental hospital patient, who feels and sees spiders under her skin and suffers from unmentionable trauma. Spider-Man plays a smaller role in this story, but he listens to the patient and provides hope and healing, his reds and blues dancing against the flames. The sixth story from Kurt Busiek and the Dodsons wholeheartedly engages in nostalgia and creates a sequel to another story in Amazing Fantasy #15 with mixed result. The Dodsons’ art style is a good match for the pulpy battle between an early career Spider-Man and the Witch Queen, and Busiek finds some humor in an interdimensional conqueror experiencing 1960s New York, but this story is really just an exercise is knowing way more about old comics than you.
For the penultimate story, Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto trot out one that is both intimate and multiversal in scope. Through the lens of a new Spider-Man, they parse out the suffering, love, and heroism that makes the friendly neighborhood web-slinger as well as the sense of humor. Having Spider-Men from different universes crack wise and swap war stories in a nine panel grid makes for entertaining, fulfilling reading. Plus it’s nice to see Jonathan Hickman doing something salt of the Earth and not high concept for once. Speaking of high concept, Amazing Fantasy #1000 wraps up with a semi-autobiographical story from Neil Gaiman and Steve McNiven about Gaiman reading Spider-Man as a boy in Sussex and then meeting Steve Ditko later in life. McNiven inks himself for this story and does a great job blurring reality and fantasy while Gaiman’s script conveys his love for, yet distance from Spider-Man. (This is his first time writing him.) All in all, the story captures the essence of what makes the character great because he has great power, yet relatable problems (“Rent!”), but still perseveres no matter the odds. Overall: 8.2 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 (**).