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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 05/21/2021

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

Nightwing #80 (DC)– One of the Dick Grayson’s strengths is that he has a network of friends and allies in the DC Universe that he gets help from on missions, and he’s making new friends. Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and a literally electrifying Adriano Lucas lean on this character trait in Nightwing #80 as he, Tim Drake, and Barbara Gordon try to find a serial killer who’s taking out the hearts of homeless people. Redondo uses soft lines and open facial expressions to show how sad Dick is that a kid named Elliott, who he helped get food and hotel room last issue, had to see his father murdered and his heart removed. However, Bruno Redondo can also do comedy and action too drawing a frustrated chibi Oracle when Tim starts to pry about their relationship status, and he and Lucas are a true Bash Brothers team in the fighting video game-worthy choreography of Dick and Tim taking down a couple of Blockbuster’s henchmen. Empathetic scripting from Tom Taylor, kick-ass action sequences from Redondo and Adriano Lucas, and a cute dog to top things off, and Nightwing is back to being one of my favorite DC titles. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Wonder Girl #1 (DC)– Wonder Girl #1 is part character intro, part table-setting intrigue, and 100% a visual tour de force from Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire. Jones handles the writing duties too, and she gives Yara Flor just as much charisma and personality as she had in Future State. However, her place in the DC Universe (As seen in a truly breathtaking splash page from Joelle Jones.) isn’t set in stone, and Wonder Girl #1 shows various Amazon and divine factions maneuvering and trying to get her while Yara just wants to have a nice trip to Brazil. Wonder Girl hits a range of tones from jarring scarlets from Bellaire and intense visuals during Yara’s “origin” sequence to breezy fun as she dresses down a vlogger. My one qualm with the book is that the scenes with the different factions don’t flow as well as the scenes with Yara and feel like teaser trailer rather than compelling foreshadowing. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Wonder Girl #1 (DC)– Wonder Girl #1 is part character intro, part table-setting intrigue, and 100% a visual tour de force from Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire. Jones handles the writing duties too, and she gives Yara Flor just as much charisma and personality as she had in Future State. However, her place in the DC Universe (As seen in a truly breathtaking splash page from Joelle Jones.) isn’t set in stone, and Wonder Girl #1 shows various Amazon and divine factions maneuvering and trying to get her while Yara just wants to have a nice trip to Brazil. Wonder Girl hits a range of tones from jarring scarlets from Bellaire and intense visuals during Yara’s “origin” sequence to breezy fun as she dresses down a vlogger. My one qualm with the book is that the scenes with the different factions don’t flow as well as the scenes with Yara and feel like teaser trailer rather than compelling foreshadowing. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #2 (BOOM!)– Another intelligent, emotional issue of what is turning into a potential modern classic from Ram V and Filipe Andrade. V focuses on class differences, the curiosity of a child, and a goddess experiencing mortality yet again with the help of Andrade’s bendy figure work, grids, and flat colors. The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #2 is centered around the idea that death isn’t physical death, but when the person with the last memory of you passes away. The idea of Death herself experiencing a funeral is a poignant one, and this is definitely a comic to sit with and pore over Ram V’s beautiful words and Filipe Andrade’s beautiful compositions and color palettes. Overall: 9.4 Verdict: Buy

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #3 (Oni Press)– Jonna #3 features the same high energy line work and layouts from Chris Samnee as Jonna continues to bound from rock to rock looking water, for her and Rainbow’s dad, or maybe just a monster to fight. However, he and co-writer Laura Samnee use this issue to supply much-needed backstory about this post-apocalyptic world and introduce Jonna and Rainbow to some fellow survivors. There’s a real dissonance between Jonna making shapes against the cave wall and talking about punching monsters, and the rest of the survivors’ very serious discussions about who they’ve lost. The Samnees and skilled colorist Matthew Wilson do a good job of showing how Jonna is really just a kid who thinks this is one big adventure instead of not how the world should be. After the previous action-driven two issues that focus mainly on Jonna and Rainbow’s relationship , the time is perfect for expanding the world of this comic. The Samnees time each piece of information very well and also throw in a killer cliffhanger. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Fantastic Four: Life Story #1 (Marvel)– Mark Russell, Sean Izaakse, and Nolan Woodard’s Fantastic Four aging in real time kicks off with a retelling of their classic origin. However, Russell and Izaakse immediately throw spanners in the work by having Reed Richards have a vision of Galactus while he’s bathed with cosmic rays and becomes Mr. Fantastic. This is definitely an oversimplification, but the 1960s in the United States were defined by fear whether of the USSR and “communists”, fear of people with a different skin color than you, or even fear of that guy down the street, who had longer hair and listened to different music than you. Russell and Izaakse tap into this existential fear in Fantastic Four: Life Story between all the parades, superhero montages, and celebrity cameos. Basically, the universe is chaotic and doesn’t give a shit about us, but we can still care about helping our fellow human beings and being good people. Finally, I really enjoyed how Mark Russell wrote Ben Grimm as truly having an antagonistic relationship with Reed Richards and only pretending to like the team for the cameras because the accident ruined his life and relationships. Overall: 8.3 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 05/15/2021

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

Children of the Atom #3 (Marvel)– Vita Ayala, Paco Medina, and David Curiel take a break from the superhero fights and cameos in Children of the Atom #3 to help readers get to know the characters underneath the costume. They predominantly focus on Carmen aka Gimmick in this issue, and her struggles with finding value in what she does rather than who she is as a person. This extends from her cosplay tutorials and streams to helping her family with chores and childcare as well as her role on the team. Medina draws a lot of wistful glances between her and Buddy aka Cyclops-Lass and uses a fairly pedestrian escape from a spaceship to build that romantic tension between them. Carmen’s arc is definitely the best part of Children of the Atom #3, and I love the emotionally resonant way that Ayala writes her. However, Children of the Atom #3 also sets up the story’s villain and ties this into the very relatable event of using someone for what they can get you, or in this case Cole’s access to Krakoa. After a high-wire, yet uneven beginning, Children of the Atom is finding its footing even with the art shift from Bernard Chang to Paco Medina. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Joker #3 (DC)– Joker #3 is like a more psychologically compelling and less focused on shock value Killing Joke meets David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Street and Anthony Bourdain’s oeuvre with just a dash of the Batgirls comic I wish was an ongoing. James Tynion, Guillem March, and Arif Prianto are firing on all cylinders as they show how deep Joker has gotten into Jim Gordon’s psyche. This is tempered with salt of the Earth narration of Gordon’s detective techniques and gift for conversation and empathy that turns totally chaotic by the last few pages with the book switching to yet another genre. March’s art is a little Neal Adams and Kelley Jones by way of Brian Bolland, but his ability to carry the main plot while Tynion focuses on character development is all him. They are doing special work in Joker, which has escalated from a focused character study to gonzo action by the end. And the Punchline backup from James Tynion, Sam Johns, and Mirka Andolfo is the best it’s ever been as Andolfo gets to draw a physical confrontation between Punchline and Orca and dig into the messed up mind of her old roommate Aiden. Poor Harper Row, and apologies to all you true crime fans out there! Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

The Silver Coin #2 (Image)– This genre-bending, writer switching anthology turns its sights to the slasher genre with Kelly Thompson and Michael Walsh telling the story of a young girl who goes off to summer camp, gets bullied, and finds revenge with the help of the titular silver coin. The Silver Coin #2 is derivative of classic horror films, and it knows it with its retro VHS filter opener as Fiona watching a video nasty might actually come in handy in summer camp. Walsh hits all his paces as a storyteller from the sickly, wholesome palette he uses when Fiona arrives at camp to the various and sundry ways she gets her revenge. He and Thompson have a lot of fun turning the victim into the baddie, and The Silver Coin #2 is a very cathartic and nostalgic read in the end. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

X-Corp #1 (Marvel)– I didn’t hate X-Corp #1, and Tini Howard creates some good chemistry between board members Monet, Angel, Multiple Man, and Trinary, but this book’s initial public offering (I had to!) is a little tepid. Some of that comes from the Alberto Foche’s visuals, which are middle of the road Marvel house style with Sunny Gho adding some flourishes with the color palette. They definitely pale in comparison to David Aja’s bleeding edge cover and don’t fit the tone of a book about disrupting tech sectors, intense business negotiations, and yes, flashy gadgets and abilities. Howard’s script isn’t that bad, especially her dialogue, but the first issue’s climax breaks a rule of suspense as she treats readers (who have more knowledge) with the in-universe characters who have less. With Trinary “selling out” and going corporate, Monet suppressing her rage during constant meetings, Angel trying to be a good rich guy, and Multiple Man as the wild card, X-Corp has potential and fills a gap in the X-line. However, this issue is more like smelling something yummy at another diner’s table than having your own meal. Overall: 6.0 Verdict: 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 (**).

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 05/09/2021

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

Batman #108 (DC)– My enjoyment of James Tynion, Jorge Jimenez, and Tomeu Morey’s Batman continues to rise post-Future State, and issue 108 is no exception. In this comic, Batman is placed between the forces of surveillance capitalism and anti-capitalism all augmented with cyberpunk style technology and a candy color palette. The anti-capitalist side is represented by flashy new character Miracle Molly, who sees beneath Matches Malone’s facade, and offers a critique of Batman even though they’ll probably fight down the road. Tynion’s other plot thread is basically Blue Lives Matter with cybernetics, and Jimenez draws the hell out of some robots. The Ghost-Maker backup from Tynion and Ricardo Lopez-Ortiz is delightful as he fights laser tigers, a manga themed assassin named Kid Kawaii, and the mysterious Madame Midas. Pure sugar rush comics. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Hellions #11 (Marvel)– Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia take old X-baddies and use them in a creative way in Hellions #11. Thanks to Mastermind, the Hellions are in their worst nightmares with psychic Kwannon and John Greycrow trying to hardest to fight out of it while Arcade blackmails Sinister (Who’s missing a few teeth) to make clones for him. It ends up being a little more complicated than that with Segovia and colorist David Curiel getting to draw some intense psychic duels between Kwannon and Mastermind, and Wells continues to give Sinister the funniest lines. Even though he puts on a good show for the Quiet Council, Sinister is still irredeemable, and part of the enjoyment of Hellions is watching the extents he goes to cover his crimes against genetics while hoping for the Hellions to eventually expose him. It’s like Breaking Bad, but with capes, clones, and psychic ninjas. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #20 (Marvel)– This issue is all about how great Storm is with various Marauders telling stories of cool or touching things she has done while also guessing how many knives she’s had. Storm’s leaving the team so Gerry Duggan and Stefano Caselli give her a fitting send-off set in a variety of locales as we see her reform Hate-Monger by kicking his ass, rescue a powerful young mutant in India and be used as bluffing tool. Of course, we get to see her close friendship with Kate Pryde, and how Storm helped her get through the crisis of possibly not being a mutant. Caselli does comedy as well as action in this book with a hilarious montage of Storm pulling knives out from various parts of her costume as well as a great panel of Lockheed driving the ship while the team and its allies feast. Wisely, Storm’s exploits and character is the focus of Marauders #20, but Duggan sets up a little bit of intrigue for the upcoming Hellfire Gala that could reshape this team’s role for better or worse. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Die #16 (Image)– After the fantasy geopolitics of the previous arc, Die is back in quest and cosmic horror mode as Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans have the party traveling to the center of the world. Gillen portrays everyone at their worst: drinking and struggling and hoping it’s all going to be over. Hans gets to tap in her range as an artist going from big sea journey landscapes to intimate conversations between Sol and Ash (The “baddies” of the party) and finally turning into pure horror mode towards the end. With the comic about to reach its end, it’s nice to see Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans focusing of the main cast and interrogating why characters like Sol found escape in fantasy and roleplaying worlds. Plus there’s a real doozy of twist at the end. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

The Good Asian #1 (Image)– Pornsak Pichetshote, Alexandre Tefenkgi, and Lee Loughridge use the noir genre to explore racism against Asian-Americans, respectability politics, and the effect of policing in society through the character of Edison Hark. Hark is a Hawaii police detective who is transferred to San Francisco’s Chinatown where there are rumblings that the Tong gangs have returned, and the Chinese maid of a prominent wealthy businessman has gone missing. Pichetshote and Tefenkgi deftly balance a whodunnit, crime thriller, and use flashbacks to flesh out Edison’s character drawing parallels between him and an older Irish-American cop as breaking the racial glass ceiling. Loughridge’s flat colors are a treat exploding for sequences of racialized violence, fading out for flashbacks, or turning pink when Edison thinks about one of his vices: white women. Featuring wonderful compositions from Alexandre Tefenkgi and punchy dialogue from Pornsak Pichetsote, The Good Asian #1 is a solid crime comic that also sheds light on the anti-Asian racism that is baked into the core of the United States. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Nocterra #3 (Image Comics) – A really good third issue that balances showing and telling. We get to see more of Val’s history with her parents and learn more of what it means to turn into a Shade. There’s also a lot of action as Bill is in the pursuit of Val and her group with hints as to history there. What really stands out are the colors that pop from the page and really emphasize the darkness of the world. Overall Rating: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #2 (DC Comics) – I was down on the first issue. It felt like it was geared too much towards fans of the video game. The second issue is an improvement as Batman must figure out what’s going on if he hopes he can escape. It takes us through his process as he has 22 minutes before the game resets and he starts all over. It’s a really interesting concept and as a puzzle for him to solve, it’s great. It also could be a trap by anyone and not so much Fortnite focused. The art is pretty good with small details being added with each reset to tell a bit of what has happened. This has me much more interested in what’s to come after being generally turned off from the debut issue. Overall Rating: 7.95 Recommendation: Buy

Crime Syndicate #3 (DC Comics) – Such a great concept just squandered. The art is dodgy and story choppy at times. There’s a lot of potential in the series and concept but it never really focuses on the right things. This is one where some a lack of details hurts it. Overall Rating: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Green Lantern #2 (DC Comics) – The first issue was good but this issue is where things really take off. The first one had me generally willing to come back. This issue I’m all in. It has a shocking ending as the Guardians restructure the Green Lantern Corps with their inclusion to the new cosmic structure being set up. Now I can’t wait to see what’s next. Overall Rating: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Man-Bat #4 (DC Comics) – This series has been really solid. Kirk and Francine are under the control of Scarecrow and the dual narrative they’re experiencing is some great stuff. The art really nails down what’s happening and brings a bit of sadness to it all. Just a fantastic issue and overall this is a series I want to see more of. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Suicide Squad #3 (DC Comics) – We’re getting a crossover with Teen Titans Academy as the Squad needs to get Bolt. The series has been a pleasure to read with the dysfunction on full display. The personalities of the team is really what stands out as they squabble, be smart-asses, or just want to run for their lives. The series has no problem delivering a body count and have this Squad screw up. It’s a fun series where the bad guys are really… bad at what they do. 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 05/02/2021

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

Robin #1 (DC)– Joshua Williamson and “Big” Gleb Melnikov team up to kick off Damian Wayne’s new solo series as he fights to be a part of the League of Lazarus aka Mortal Kombat (Not vs.) DC Universe edition. Because it’s a tournament arc, there’s a couple expertly choreographed fights from Melnikov, but we also get to see his flaws, arrogance, and how much he misses Alfred and how much the Bat-family cares for him. Williamson and Gleb Melnikov create a new character who cuts through his bullshit and is a real challenge for him, and I’m excited to see more of them going forward. It’s been ages since a proper Robin solo title, and this one is the perfect fusion of Bat-family and shonen manga. (Melnikov even creates an in-universe manga.) Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Cable #10 (Marvel)– Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto continue to build up the return of old man Cable to help fight Stryfe storyline, but that plot mainly stays on the backburner for some father/son bonding between Kid Cable and Cyclops. The Arrakii mutants have been causing trouble in a London pub, and they break it up in a showcase of cool powers, tender love, and loathing of one’s past self. The Stryfe plotline has gotten a little elongated and timey wimey for its own good (See the one scene with old Cable), but I enjoyed the tension between what Cyclops wants for his son and what Kid Cable wants for basically his future. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

New Mutants #17 (Marvel)– Vita Ayala continues to keep lots of plates spinning plot-wise and explores the nooks and crannies of Krakoa while Rod Reis brings the kick-ass, and in Otherworld’s case trippy visuals in New Mutants #17. Ayala is the master of the check-in as they resolve Mirage and Karma’s journey to Otherworld and see what some of the younger mutants are experimenting with, have Anole talk about not being able to pass as human, and have Wolfsbane confide in Shadow King. (Uh oh) The data pages act as a kind of verbal check-in. Reis goes all out with different textures, palettes, layouts, and even plays with perspective to show the danger, adventure, and magic of Otherworld, and although this storyline seems to have wrapped, I would like to see more of his take on it. New Mutants has a pretty big cast, but Ayala always take time to showcase individuals’ perspectives on the mutant experience and what Krakoa is like, which is why I keep reading it. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy

Destiny, NY #2 (Black Mask Studios)– Destiny, NY #2 is like an emotionally mature and queer as hell continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a New York setting from Pat Shand and Manuel Preitano. Preitano brings clean, beautiful lines to his present day art and grey scale fuzziness as our protagonist Logan tells her current fling, Lilith, about how mundane saving the world was. And, of course, Lilith is the ultimate evil in the universe, and there are wheels in motion to take her down. However, what makes Destiny, NY a good read is how attuned Shand and Manuel Preitano are to their characters’ emotions with an extended sequence of Logan being told by her ex that she has narcissistic personality disorder that turns into a giant argument and makes you really feel for this book’s protagonist. Destiny, NY #2 has the right blend of slice of life, supernatural intrigue, and relatable and charismatic characters, and I definitely look forward to future issues at Pat Shand and Preitano are only scratching the surface of this complex, urban fantasy world. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Shadowman #1 (Valiant)– Shadowman #1 boasts gruesome, eye-catching art from Jon Davis-Hunt, and that alone makes it worth checking out as he, writer Cullen Bunn, and colorist Jordie Bellaire go deep into a world where the barrier between our world and the supernatural is quite thin. This comic introduces Jack Boniface and his loa-derived powers in an exciting way as he teams up with his frenemy Baron Samedi to investigate an Eyes Wide Shut death cult. Bunn takes a heavy touch with the narration, but he and Davis-Hunt use this first issue to show Shadowman in action rather than going blow by blow about his lore and backstory. They also use the Deadside as a source of monthly monsters and create a little bit of intrigue for upcoming issues while Shadowman banishes blood eating locusts from our plane of existence. As seen on his work on Clean Room, Jon Davis-Hunt is a gifted storyteller who isn’t afraid to gaze into the abyss of human depravity, and these talents make him well-suited for Shadowman #1, which is one of the best looking superhero books of 2021. Hopefully, less of the issue will be covered by frankly repetitive text boxes. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Witchblood #2 (Vault)– Witchblood #2 is a big improvement from its previous issue, but I don’t think I’m in love with this fantasy Western as much as the rest of the comics Internet seems to be. I do enjoy Matthew Erman’s southern fried dialogue, Gab Contreras’ candy color palette, and Lisa Sterle’s general aesthetic for the series. It has a sense of humor featuring vampires who have feelings about country music and get into crystals, but I feel like all the reasons I should care about plot developments are happening off panel. Witchblood is a cute, sassy comic, but it hasn’t found its footing yet. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

Brett

Teen TItans Academy (DC Comics) – There’s some solid twists and turns in the issue, especially the ending. The series is doing a good job of introducing the students while building a mystery. There’s some drama, and it’s evenly split between the students and teachers. This feels like a nice successor to classic X-Men stories. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Black Widow #2 (Marvel) – Fantastic visuals and action-packed story. After a hell of an opening story arc, this issue kicks off the next one and is able to keep up with the high bar and high expectations. There’s a solid setup of a villain for Black Widow to take on but it’s the visuals and fun attitude that really pop in this issue. A great starting point and those already reading will be more than happy. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shadowman #1 (Valiant) – The debut issue is fantastic with a solid mix of horror and action and some great visuals. I actually felt bad about a demon! The series is a solid introduction to the character and I think universal praise from the GP team says it all. Overall Rating: 9.0 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 04/24/2021

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

SWORD #5 (Marvel)– Untethered from King in Black, Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti are free to explore mutant space politics in SWORD #5 with the Snarkwar (a war of succession for the Zn’rx aliens) sharing time with a buck naked Fabian Cortez trying to make murder legal in front of the Small Council. Cortez’s testimony is a masterclass in how power structures keep being devious and unethical, but don’t say the quiet part (For example, wars are for resources not just causes.) out loud. In a hilarious juxtaposition between his nudity and his far-from-subtle sentiments, Cortez calls humans “flatscans” and says their existence is a living death while trying to legalize the original crime. Ewing’s dialogue is delicious, but Cortez’s buffoonery is really driven by Schiti’s art like when he whines about only getting $100,000 and some real estate in Florida from his colonizer scion parents in front of Storm and Magneto, who is a Holocaust survivor and rocking his old school red costume courtesy of colorist Marte Gracia. The space stuff with the Snarkwar is less engaging, but Schiti draws some gorgeous vistas and bursts of violence. These scenes show that Cortez is expendable and also act as connective tissue between cosmic and mutant Marvel. (I gotta go back and read Al Ewing’s Guardians of the Galaxy.) Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Nightwing #79 (DC)– Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Adriano Lucas provide that good home cooking in Nightwing #79 with a wonderful blend of high wire action, humor, and socioeconomic commentary. Given a huge windfall from Alfred’s estate, Dick Grayson struggles in a direction to focus his wealth, but he realizes that he can basically be a social safety net for Bludhaven. Sure, some of the wording and connection to his past as a circus acrobat is a little cheesy, but Taylor and Redondo are positioning Nightwing as a socially aware superhero. He cares more about ending the stranglehold of the corrupt Maroni crime family than some kids stealing his wallet while he was buying pizza for the neighborhood. And that’s not all that’s great about Nightwing as Tom Taylor writes fun, warm-hearted banter between Dick and Barbara Gordon, and Bruno Redondo’s layouts capture the athleticism of his fighting style with freeze frames and other tricks that capture non-stop motion across a spread. Throw in some glorious pinks and blues from Lucas and some fun Easter Eggs, and you’ve got a comic that is both a love letter to Nightwing’s past and sets him up as a true hero of now. Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Alice in Leatherland #1 (Black Mask)– Fairy tale and BDSM tropes collide in Iolanda Zanferdino and Elisa Romboli’s sweet, slice of life comic Alice in Leatherland. The titular Alice just wants to live a nice, quiet life and write children’s books in her small California town, but after her girlfriend cheats on her, she decides to move to San Francisco with her friend Robin. The rest of the comic is all about the drama of finding a place to live, especially in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Romboli’s art is adorable and hilarious, and there are a lot of silent sequences that capture Alice’s state of mind at any given period. I’m really excited to go down this leather daddy-meets performance art-meets cute fairy tale rabbit hole with her in upcoming issues. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #2 (Oni Press)– Chris Samnee, Laura Samnee, and Matthew Wilson go for the heart strings in Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #2 with plenty of flashbacks of the sisters Rainbow and Jonna in the before times. Wilson’s palette is lush and verdant compared to the current drab, post-apocalyptic world even though there are pops of colors every time a giant monster shows up. In very few words and mainly using body language, the Samnees show how Rainbow and Jonna have grown apart over the past year. This comic continue to be a masterpiece of visual storytelling with all kinds of great little touches like Crank!’s sound effects and Samnee’s facial expressions for Rainbow alone conveying a monster battle. It’s all about finding love and belonging at the end of the world, and I look forward to finding more about how the apocalypse happened. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #1 (BOOM!)– Another hit from Ram V as he and artist Filipe Andrade go into Vertigo mode in a story where the god of Death gets fired and put in the body of a dead girl in Mumbai. Despite the dark subject matter and tragedy of it all, V has a sly, Pratchett-esque sense of humor that especially stands out when Death’s boss is talking about how eternal life is leading to good ol’ “corporate restructuring”. This sets up a conflict between death and immortality, but Laila Starr #1 chooses the human over the epic and meditates on these things in hospital rooms with regular, every day people. Then, Ram V adds a bit of a twist, and the stories off to the races. Filipe Andrade’s scratchy inks and vivid colors capture the flaws in all-powerful beings and the beauty in mortals. This is a clever series and continues to show that V isn’t afraid to tackle the big questions while telling fun genre stories. Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Ultramega #2 (Image)– The second installment of Ultramega is much different than the previous with James Harren exploring life after the death of the Ultramega when his blood flowed in the street. A prologue with gorgeous colors from Dave Stewart alludes at hope for another host of this force and is pure tokusatsu goodness, but the rest of the issue is really a drag. Noah takes up his dad’s mantle by fighting Kaiju Klan members with remote control Ultramega drones, but this ends up bringing more harm than good. Things continue to get worse and worse as Harren’s art becomes more bleak even if there is less large scale destruction than Ultramega #1. This series still isn’t a runaway hit for me and has a fridging problem, but James Harren and Stewart’s visuals are big and propulsive showing the real impact of kaijus and Ultramegas on the landscape and ordinary people. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Eternals #4 (Marvel)– Yeah, a superhero/cosmic being murder mystery is overdone at this point, but it’s really just Kieron Gillen, Esad Ribic, and Matthew Wilson’s Trojan Horse to get readers to learn more about the Eternals’ personalities and relationships. Although there are some sidebars featuring Sersi and Phastos as well as Ikaris protecting his human charge, the focal point is Kingo and Thena interrogating Druig, who has just become the next in line to be ruler of the Eternal city of Polaria. Flashbacks show how these beings manipulate human history from the sidelines, and Ribic’s take on the Mongol conquest is suitably epic. There’s really a majestic quality to his art that comes out in both conversation and fight scenes. Gillen’s humor in his script continues to be a delight and flesh out characters I was unfamiliar with. Eternals is my new cosmic soap opera, for sure. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Women Of Marvel #1 (Marvel)– This anthology kicks off with a hilarious one pager from Mariko Tamaki and Peach Momoko about Lady Deathstrike getting manicure followed by a thrilling Peggy Carter as Captain America story from Elsa Sjunneson and Naomi Franquiz where she teams up with a Black, disabled spy named Lilliane to kick Nazi ass. Tamaki returns with Nina Vakueva, Rachel Stott, June Brighman, and Marika Cresta for some funny slice of life one pagers where Emma Frost uses her telepathy to make cut-offs and a tee look like her White Queen get-up, Medusa multitasks with her hair, Jean Grey starts to care for a succulent, and Hela struggles with insomnia. Next is a Natasha Alterici/Joanna Estep story where Mystique acts motherly and sabotages a young Rogue’s field trip to get her to join the Brotherhood while dealing with Stegron and reanimated dinosaurs. Anne Toole and Kei Zama tell a Misty Knight story where she helps the daughter of a technopathic find a new start with richly detailed art and a fun cameo for readers of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Captain America. After that, Nadia Shammas and Skylar Partridge tell a damn near perfect She-Hulk story that involves being lost in the Natural History Museum, a big brawl against the Rhino, and some legal humor. I really miss She-Hulk being written that way. Sophie Campbell and Eleonora Carlini craft a Marrow and Feral story with manga-style battles even though they eventually bond over being fellow outsiders in Krakoa. Finally, the anthology goes out on a high note with a hilarious Bachelor parody from Zoraida Cordova and Maria Frohlich as Gamora goes undercover to take down an extraterrestrial trafficker with Rocket feeding her lines on the other end. Women of Marvel #1 is a true showcase of female comics talent, and I loved seeing the different sides of character whether through the Tamaki one-pagers or more substantial stories. Overall: 9.3 Verdict: Buy

X-Force #19 (Marvel)– Quentin Quire gets some help fighting his inner demons in a horror-tinged issue of X-Force from Benjamin Percy, Garry Brown, and Guru eFX. Like its companion book Wolverine, X-Force has so many plots going on, but Percy and Brown wisely focus on Quentin Quire hunting down his evil doppelganger that is trying to take his flesh DNA with the help of Jean Grey, Domino, and Phoebe Cuckoo. As fellow omega mutant telepaths, Jean and Quentin have had similar life experiences, and she trains him in some new techniques like seeing each mind as a door and opens up about how this has burned her in the past. (The Scott/Emma affair). X-Force #19 is like a slasher flick with a pink color palette from Guru eFX. The bad guy, Xeno (I think), is pretty boring, but Brown’s art and the unique interactions between Quentin and Jean kept me interested and X-Force on my books to check out. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read.

Brett

Children of the Atom #2 (Marvel) – There’s something fun and charming about the series. The issue ties in nicely with the Outlawed storyline that Marvel hasn’t really taken advantage of. There’s also some intriguing debate about mutants and the law outside of Krakoa. The issue shows off the potential of the series and is just a lot of fun. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Radiant Black #3 (Image Comics) – The series hasn’t really clicked for me so far, but this issue is bringing me around. The inclusion of Nathan’s story and focusing more on him trying to get his life together brings a bit of a grounded aspect to the character and also we finally get a glimpse of him trying to do some good with his powers. The art too feels like a step up with some really solid page layouts and one moment that feels a bit “positive”, a nice change from the often times downer the series has been. This feels like the real start to everything. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Way of X #1 (Marvel) – I’ve been generally down on the current X-Men line as they’ve crossed from true “heroes” to having a lot of problematic areas. Way of X feels like it’s addressing some of my misgivings with a series focused on Nightcrawler who has become a skeptic to the mutant nation’s promises. It’s a key addition to the line that admits not all is right and some of what is presented is downright bad. The art too delivers some great visuals that play off of what Nightcrawler has issues with, emphasizing his doubt. Overall Rating: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

You Promised Me Darkness #1 (Behemoth) – A comet gives people powers and this is the story of the being who is murdering to suck that power up and making it its own. The story has a lot of potential but its presentation is odd in both narrative and art. The comic is dark, really dark, which at times makes it difficult to make out what’s going on with its black and white art. The story too is mostly voice over narrative up until the last few pages making it feel a little clunky. It stretches the set-up out a bit too much and doesn’t get to the point quick enough. 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 04/11/2021

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.


Joe H

Batman #107 (DC)** So having read nearly every contemporary Batman comic in existence, it is hard for a run to feel fresh in it’s mid stride but somehow this team has done it again. We open with Bruce in the clutches of Scarecrow dripping in paranoia and fear. We the reader are lead to believe that Scarecrow has access to Bruce’s thoughts and Bruce is desperately trying to push that out of his brain. He forces himself to remember and retrace the steps of this case and figure out his next move.
Here we are shown a few flashback scenes with Batman and Barbara operating as Oracle. I must say I really dig when Barbara is used in this fashion, it puts her above and beyond the rest of the caped Bat Fam and really puts her on par with Bruce. She lays out some cool new plans for a new transportable Bat Signal to let Gotham know that Batman is still watching out for them.
We also get a nice little scene of Harley Quinn dishing out some unhinged vigilante justice and I loved that as well.
One this book has in abundance is style. The art by Jimenez has so much flare to it and makes the panels feel like they are moving. It reads along so nicely and is a visual treat. He keeps improving every issue. The colors by Morey are so outstanding and bring these icons to life in spectacular fashion. At times it is the the best book on the market in coloring quality. Lastly Tynion IV keeps slowly adding to his Batman mythos without just throwing stuff at the wall to make it stick. Gotham feels so rich and deep with him at the helm. Even characters I was not crazy about at first like Ghostmaker is winning me over.
All in all another fun issue and I’m loving this direction of new but familiar at the same time. I am not in any rush to have a new team jump on this title and just want to see where it goes. “Just how will Bruce get out of this one?”
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Batman #107 (DC)– James Tynion, Jorge Jimenez, and Tomeu Morey draw pretty clear parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and Scarecrow’s creeping threat on Gotham in Batman #107. He hasn’t pulled a fear gas attack just yet, but Gothamites are stocking up on gas masks while the mayor is announcing a curfew. Jimenez’s visuals touch a strong techno-horror note that complements Morey’s graffiti color palette and Clayton Cowles’ glitched out letters as an underfunded Batman, kind of Harley Quinn, and Oracle fight a war on many fronts against Scarecrow, the future creator of the Magistrate, and the Unsanity Collective, a kind of ecoterrorist utopian group. Batman #107 gives a good feel of the fear and paranoia pervading Gotham while taking the plot in a fun direction that involves subterfuge, not fisticuffs. Tynion and Ricardo Lopez-Ortiz’s Ghostmaker backup is pure enjoyment featuring garishly dressed assassins, a MMF threesome, stealth action, and one-liners. Ghostmaker is a bi, anti-billionaire James Bond, and I know that the Bat-books are overexposed, but I wouldn’t mind him having his own mini. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

The Swamp Thing #2 (DC)– Ram V, Mike Perkins, and Mike Spicer have Levi really come into his own as Swamp Thing in the second issue of this maxiseries. They explore hope and fear through this character and also look into the past when he became connected to the Green after he visited his dying father in India. Then, The Swamp Thing #2 adds the layer on top about the character and his title serving as a vehicle for contemporary anxieties like old straight white men being afraid of a new, multicultural world or the usual battle between corporations and the environment that has been its trademark in most Swamp Thing comics. However, Perkins and Spicer depict these through gorgeous art and layouts from double page spread montages with poetic narration from V to almost painted panels as the narrative reaches his climax, and Levi feels like Swamp Thing and not just some guy having nightmares in New York. Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer match their art style and color palette to each situation in The Swamp Thing #2 with Perkins’ usual photorealism making a comeback in the conversations between Levi and his friends that remind her of a certain botanist from Louisiana. The Swamp Thing #2 definitely has its nods to the previous volumes, but Ram V, Perkins, and Spicer are putting their own spin on the title with new sets of visual language as well as a fully developed arc for Levi. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Casual Fling #3 (AWA)– I think I’m really enjoying Jason Starr and Dalibor Talajic’s Casual Fling because it’s a rare erotic suspense story in the medium of single issue comics. Casual Fling #3 introduces us to Matt’s hacker friend Sensei, who gets the funniest lines in the issue, and definitely moves the plot along as they work together to find the masked man who had an affair with his wife Jennifer and then blackmailed her with a sex tape. However, there’s still for emotional moments with Jennifer trying to make things right and repair their damaged relationship as Matt wrestles with the fact that she was unfaithful and was a victim of revenge porn. Most of this comes out through Talajic’s facial acting during quiet scenes at Matt’s mom’s house between sequences of frenetic Hollywood style hacking and facial recognition software. Casual Fling #3 has all this plus ends on a twist/cliffhanger. It’s the thriller where you wish your flight/commute was just a little longer. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Project Patron #1 (Aftershock)– What if Superman actually died in the “Death of Superman” storyline? Steve Orlando and Matthew Piazzalunga explore this idea with the serial numbers filed off in Project Patron #1. They go for full, straightforward superheroics in the beginning of the book with lantern jawed figure work from Piazzalunga before showing behind the curtain of the illusion that keeps the iconic hero going. This first issue mostly sets up the players o f Project Patron and their personalities as well as potential enemies. It didn’t hook me completely, but overall, Project Pactron #1 is a solid psychological look at superhero iconography. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Nocterra #2 (Image)– Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, and Tomeu Morey’s Nocterra #2 isn’t a particular deep comic, but it’s an enjoyable post-apocalyptic road story meets family drama. Daniel gets to draw creepy monster, biker gangs, and of course, plenty of vehicle, but Nocterra also has flashbacks about its protagonist Val so he gets to showcase his improving skill with facial expressions and less blockbuster moments. The relationship between Val and her brother Emory really becomes meaningful in this second issue as she lies to him about things like heaven and hope when he’s a kid and keeps him more in the loop as an adult. The overrarching concept of this comic continues to be as wacky as ever (Darkness bad, literal light good), but Nocterra #2 is starting to build suspense and also contrasts Val and Emory’s relationship with their mysterious passengers. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy

The Silver Coin #1 (Image)– The Silver Coin is a new anthology series from artist Michael Walsh and a rotating cast of writers. Chip Zdarsky is up first, and their issue is about the guitar player of a struggling bar band who starts using a mysterious silver coin as a pick. Of course, the band starts to sound good, but he becomes overwhelmed with hubris and the rest is history. The story of guitars and deals with the devil is almost as old as the genre itself, but Walsh brings a new level of emotion and intensity to the page with his linework, color palette, and hand lettering. Zdarsky adds the conflict between rock and disco while keep the narrative grounded. The band sounds good, but they don’t find fame and glory or anything. The Silver Coin is off to an auspicious start, and I’m excited to see Michael Walsh and his collaborators’ takes on different genres and the connections between them in the months to come. Overall: 9.0 Verdict Buy

America Chavez: Made in the USA #2 (Marvel)– Kalinda Vazquez continue to provide insight into America Chavez’s past and show her strained relationship with her adoptive family, the Santanas of Washington Heights. America’s memories about her moms and the Utopian Parallel all return in one elementary school crayon drawing, and the flashbacks show her early vigilante activities as she wants to embrace that part of herself. This strain continues to the present day with America’s adoptive dad Javi confronting her and saying she wants to be there for everyone except for her family. The family stuff in America is really engaging, but the mystery stuff: not so much. We do get to see Kate Bishop eat a very spicy taco and coach America on her P.I. technique as Gomez finds delight in both big family gatherings and interdimensional superhero curb stomps. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #19 (Marvel)– Marauders finally lives up to its roots with Morlocks and Reavers fighting in the streets of Madripoor. If you’re a Marrow, Callisto, or Masque fan, then you’ll really enjoy this issue of Gerry Duggan and Stefano Caselli’s series as the Marauders are grounded by potential UN sanctions so they send in the Morlocks to do their dirty work. (Bishop gets involved though.) There’s a lot of action (and a little bit of drinking) in this issue, and it’s all very cathartic for the “Mutant Massacre”. Nothing beats rich kids getting their asses handed to them, and it’s nice to see the Morlocks play an active role in the new status quo. However, with the exception of Callisto, they’ll probably be sidelined. Even in a so-called utopia, class distinctions exist, and Marauders #19 is a reminder of this as the Morlocks clean up the Marauders’ mess in “Lowtown”. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Crime Syndicate #2 (DC Comics) – There’s a lot of potential in this series which takes us to the Earth where heroes are evil versions of the ones we know. But, these first two issues that have an attack by Starro has been a bit lackluster. The art hasn’t been inspiring and the comic has a bit of a comedic tone which feels rather off for this type of story. This is one that’s just not clicking for me. A backup story featuring the origin of Owlman though is pretty good and much more of what’s expected, it’s the second time the backup story has outshined the main feature. Overall Rating: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

Far Sector #11 (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal) – The series begins to wrap up with a rather convoluted and a bit too complicated series of double-crosses and agendas clashing. This issue and the previous one have a bit of a stumble for what has been an amazing series up to this point. As soon as the series shifted from its amazing discussion of social issues and politics, its shine wore off a bit. Still good, but this is one that’ll come together in the 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 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 (**).

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