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.
Cover #1 (DC/Jinxworld) – With authentic, yet understated dialogue, gorgeous visuals that flow from water color to line work with a side dish of collage, and a fantastic spy mystery hook, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack turn in their first creator owned hit for DC Comics. The protagonist Blake Field is obviously a David Mack stand-in, and the story draws from his experiences as a comics creators beginning with the press of con life until a mysterious woman named Julia drops in on his life. Mack uses a different art style depending on her role in the story that keeps the story moving, and in a metafictional touch, we get to see the gorgeous samurai comic that Blake is working on. Fortune and Glory is one of Brian Michael Bendis’ most underrated comics, and it’s nice to see him and one of his finest collaborators dip into that pool again with a pinch of international intrigue to get you to pick up issue 2. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Batman #54 (DC) – With the help of Nightwing, Batman finally almost has time to emotionally deal with being left at the altar by Selina in this emotional and sometimes kookily fun character study by Tom King and Matt Wagner. Wagner’s old school art style works well with the flashbacks to Dick’s first days in Wayne Manor as he comes to terms with the death of his parents and thinks that he’s just another shiny toy to Batman/Bruce and not an adopted son. In a colorful way, King and Wagner show that Batman would much rather punch inconsequential villains like Crazy Quilt (Who can’t sew) and Condiment King than have a heart to heart conversation or lunch. However, Dick understands Bruce’s competitive side and finally gets him to break “brood mode” for a split second panel that shows the importance of his levity and optimistic outlook in spite of great tragedy to the Bat-family. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Bully Wars #1 (Image)– With an over the top art style and heavy helping of low brow humor, Skottie Young and Aaron Conley usher Edith, Edward, and Spencer into their first day at Rottenville High. Conley has a fun MAD magazine meets Garbage Pail Kids style of art and goes for the gross out gag or face every time showing a nice gift for caricature. There are some truly funny moments in this book like when the middle school bully Rufus gets his butt handed to him by the high school bully Hock in a scene similar to the climax of Jurassic Park. But the book doesn’t really have anything going for it beyond Conley’s art and goes for cliched prank war jokes instead of more character driven ones.I got a real Dav Pilkey (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Man) vibe so this might be worth handing to your 10 year old sibling/relative/kid… Overall: 5.5 Verdict: Pass
Immortal Hulk #5 (Marvel)– In Immortal Hulk #5, Al Ewing and Joe Bennett finally reveal the monster behind the monster that even Hulk fears. But, first, there’s a giant, uncontrolled throwdown between Hulk and Sasquath, who is definitely not being driven by Walter Langkowski. Bennett and inker Ruy Jose’s fight choreography is ponderous and ungraceful as these two monsters don’t care for human life. However, the Hulk comes across in a sympathetic life for the first time in the serious and uses his abilities in a uniquely positive way. Ewing and Bennett have settled down to tell an American kaiju story about a monster with uncontrollable powers that protects humans from other monsters and causes great direction in his wake. Arguably, the monster boils down to daddy issues, but Bennett sells the story with his EC-esque style art. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy
Kim Reaper: Monster Island #1 (Oni) – The cutest, raddest queer Goth romance series returns with a twist. Kim, the Grim Reaper in training’s girlfriend Becka has gotten super into watching vampire dramas with her roommate Tyler and really wants to go to an actual vampire island when she finds out that they exist. Sarah Graley’s art style continues to be adorable and twisted, especially when the vampires go berserk. I love Graley’s writing of relationship dynamics as Becka desperately tries to get Kim and Tyler to like each other, but it doesn’t really work. Spookiness and slice of life is such a fun combo, and I’m so glad this sadly underrated title is back from Oni. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy
Batman #54 (DC) ** Tom King’s current Bat-run probably doesn’t deserve Matt Wagner, but since they got him for this fill-in issue, it has to be said that at least they make full use of his skills. Yeah, this is a fairly heavy-handed little “then-and-now” comparison of the Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson relationship, but it hits all the right emotional notes and the art, as you’d expect, elevates what would otherwise be an average issue to something fairly special. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
The Dreaming #1 (DC/Vertigo) **- I dunno. There’s nothing wrong with Simon Spurrier’s script for this debut issue, and Bliquis Evely’s art is actually quite nice, but the parameters for what this series is going to be focusing on were already established in “The Sandman Universe” #1, and it’s not like this comic, perfectly competent as it is, really expands on what we already knew in any appreciable way. Worth a look, but it’s not necessarily going to leave you feeling compelled to stick with the title. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Cover #1 (DC/Jinxworld)** – The idea of a superstar comic artist being recruited by the CIA may seem like a bit too much “fan service” — and it is — but what the hell, Brian Michael Bendis’ script for this issue grabs you right away with its premise, the characterization is strong, and all in all it’s just plain fun to read. As for David Mack’s art, it’s a stunning as always, with pitch-perfect colors that accentuate every panel on every page. A genuinely solid debut. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
United States Vs. Murder Inc. #1 (DC/Jinxworld)** – On the other end of the spectrum, the opening salvo of this sequel to a series that really didn’t deserve one is truly lackluster stuff, little more than another tired take on the already-tired “kid assassin” trope. Michael Avon Oeming’s art is quite good, of course, and the dark color scheme really works, but the script feels like Bendis purely going through the motions — which, I suspect, is exactly what he’s doing. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass
Asgardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel)– In what feels like the Dirty Dozen but in Thor’s world, we get a rip Roaring adventure from many sidelined characters in the Marvel Universe Overall including Thor’s half sister,Angela.As we get introduced to new character, and an archeologist who may hold the key to finding out exactly what Nebula is looking for. They must also figure out why Nebula is trying to start another Ragnarok. By issue’s end, the team is ready to defeat anyone looking to harm their people.
Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy
Come Into Me #3 (Black Mask) ** – Becky and Sebastien struggle for control of the flesh, calling into question who is the host and who is the visitor. Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler continue their creepy Cronenbergian story, interweaving the interior and the exterior as whatever this new creature is lurches and shambles through its transformation, with both Becky and Sebastian alternately driving the story, sharing memories as each looks to offload the other into whatever body is convenient. One of which is Becky’s corpse. Piotr Kowalski well depicts both the “normal” world outside and the glitchy, nightmarish world inside, no easy feat. Another excellent issue. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Bully Wars #1 (Image) **- The new series from Skottie Young, as writer only, and Aaron Conley on art. Ernie, Edith, and Spencer are off to their first day of high school, still being picked on by Rufus, who’s been their bully since kindergarten. But now Rufus has to face the even bigger, badder bullies of high school. Aaron Conley’s art has a fun vibe of over-the-top grossness with lots and lots of gags. But Skottie Young’s story has a huge central problem: Rufus, the bully who’s now in over his head, should be the main character, and he isn’t. He’s the one who has to win the Bully Wars, but it’s geeky Ernie who is our hero, and who utterly inexplicably decides to help Rufus out. It’s all a bit lazy where it could have been a nice reversal of the usual tropes. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip
Stray Bullets #38 (Image/El Capitàn) **- As much as I’m a fan of the series, the one thing that bugs me is when David Lapham goes into Amy Racecar/Lil’ B mode. After last issue’s car crash, Beth struggles to get back into the real world – you know, one of those “trying-to-wake-up-from-a-coma” issues that people pull on you every now and again. One of Lapham’s rare missteps, an issue that should have started on the last page. Overall: 6 Recommandation: Skip
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 (**).