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.
Once and Future #7 (BOOM!)– Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain provide some more thrills and delve into other parts of British legends/folklore in Once and Future #7. The tension between Duncan and his grandmother continues to be the big elephant in the room, but Mora and Bonvillain still have the opportunity to draw some badass fight scenes set in the picturesque British Museum. Duncan is still in that middle area between total nerd and action hero so it’s fun to watch him check out the exhibits and then caught in a fight against a skeleton knight that he’s totally unprepared for. But the final few pages are where Gillen and Mora truly shift this comic’s status quo, widen its mythical scopes, and provide a bit of fanservice for anyone who took a History of the English Language course. Once and Future continues to be the gold standard as far as old school-style adventures stories go. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
Amethyst #2 (DC/Wonder Comics)– Amethyst #2 is all about our perception of things as a kid not being reality beginning with a hazily colored flashback from Amy Reeder showing Gemworld as a utopia before a jarring cut into the present where Lord Sapphire scoffs at Amethyst and basically saying it’s a realm of nothingness. As far as form goes, Reeder continues to play with space and draws on cartoon physics to craft a wonderful chase and escape scene. She also uses this issue to deepen the lore of the series and make Amethyst’s quest a little bit more on the epic side. But there’s also time for fun interactions and comedy too like Amethyst and Phoss roasting Earth for using electricity for everything and being unable to harness the crystals. (Except for the New Agers.) I love how Reeder never forgets that Amethyst is an awkward teenager even while raising the stakes of the series and doing visually inventive things like showing the world from the inside of a crystal. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Eve Stranger #5 (IDW/Black Crown)– David Barnett and Philip Bond close the door on the Black Crown print in the big reveal-filled Eve Stranger #5. The central plot point is Eve finding a cure for her amnesia, and there’s lots of running around and flashbacks. Bond’s art is sublime as usual, especially in the action scenes and dramatic reaction shots. And Barnett even adds a little sweetness to the proceedings with Eve basically having a found family at the end. Because it has to wrap up so many plot threads, Eve Stranger isn’t as clean or elegant as previous issues, but it’s still a lot of fun. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Fantastic Four: Marvels Snapshot #1 (Marvel)– Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Benjamin Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire serve up an homage to the Human Torch’s solo days as defender of Glenville, New York in Fantastic Four: Marvels Snapshot #1. They tell the story from the POV of Johnny’s first girlfriend, Dorrie, and it’s a sweet meditation on celebrity, growing up in a small town, and the idiosyncrasies of Silver Age comics. (Whatever happened to Asbestos Man?) Dorkin and Dewey flesh out Johnny Storm and reveal that he’s really a good guy, and the whole hothead celebrity thing is just an act so he can basically hang out with his old friends incognito. Benjamin Dewey’s art is photorealistic without being stiff, and the flashback scenes are Jack Kirby meets old yearbook photographs. With this tale of Johnny Storm looking back and not forgetting his roots, the Marvel Snapshots series is 2 for 2. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy
X-Men/Fantastic Four #3 (Marvel)– I think the greatest part of this crossover is that it casts the X-Men’s activities and the founding of Krakoa in the light of a third party. Chip Zdarsky and the Dodsons cast the Invisible Woman and Dr. Doom of all people as moral arbiters with Sue telling Magneto that she helps people because it’s the right thing to do and not just because they’re mutants before they attempt to rescue Latverian mutants being held against their will. X-Men/Fantastic Four #3 has a loud/soft, action/science structure. For example, we get a Cyclops vs. Ben Grimm dog fight, and then we get a heart rending conversation between Doom and Reed Richards that he’s failed his son by not actively looking for a cure for his dwindling powers. Zdarsky understands these character’s voices, puts them in an increasingly stressful situation, and lets the magic work. I like his take on Dr. Doom and how it organically flows from his criminally underrated Marvel Two-in-One run, and how he treats him as a character who plays both sides instead of just being a heavy for the X-Men and FF to team up and fight. That might still end up happening as the concluding events of issue 3 come across as a classic crossover comic fake out, but the ride has been enjoyable so far. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 (Marvel)– Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 is less a Nightcrawler and more of an Alan Davis showcase as from what I can tell, he plotted out the story and drew it while Jonathan Hickman added dialogue. He basically answers a burning question for some fans: what has the X-Mansion been up to since Krakoa? And the answer includes alien bounty hunter hordes, telepathic manipulation, and a surprise guest star. But, fanservice aside, this comic functions as an entertaining haunted house story with marvelous layouts from Davis and some trippy art once things get extraterrestrial. It’s also a bit of a deconstruction of the old X-Men standby, the mansion blows up, with Kurt, Magik, Cypher, and Eye-Boy sometimes accepting that the past’s past, and it’s time to move on from old ways and try something new. And all this is happening while Davis draws in an very “old school” art style. But, honestly, I’d argue it’s timeless like the techniques and layouts he uses to tell this story. Lockheed going all flame-on on aliens, Nightcrawler teleporting between the gutters while his friends watch, and Magik swinging a big sword will always be cool. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy
Hellions #1 (Marvel)– With X-Force as basically the CIA, there’s room for some black ops activity on Krakoa, and that lot has fallen to the Hellions. Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia create a team of B-list X-Villains plus Havok, Psylocke, and Mr. Sinister, who are allowed to take a violent approach to various missions. Most of Hellions #1 is vignettes introducing readers to the team from Empathy creating chaos with his X-gene induced sociopathy to Havok taking things a little too far going after anti-mutant activists and even Scalphunter viciously defending himself from Morlocks, who are out to avenge the Mutant Massacre. Wells makes sure that these are mutants, who really have no place in a society like Krakoa, and uses the Hellions team as an outlet for them to be themselves. But with Mr. Sinister involved, is this really a good idea? Segovia’s art is nothing unique, but he’s upped the violence showing that maybe these characters really do need to be on the Krakoan suicide squad. The idea is a little derivative, but Hellions #1 does a good job highlighting underutilized mutant characters and their personalities. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read
Wolverine #2 (Marvel)-Benjamin Percy’s captions and dialogue and Adam Kubert’s artwork sing in Wolverine #2 as they explorer the animalistic side of Logan’s psyche. He’s chasing an enemy that can’t really be caught, but can seriously fuck with both mutants and humanity’s mind. And bodies are starting to pile up. Percy and Kubert have effectively whittled down Wolverine’s list of allies with both X-Force and Marauders being taken out as well as his unlikely FBI team-up. The brutality of the raging ocean wave backdrop that Kubert draws in the narrative matches the starkness and matter of fact nature of Percy’s prose, and both creators have done a good job ramping up the ol’ threat level in issue two. And this is all while not going to the Resurrection protocols bag for once. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy
X-Men #9 (Marvel)-Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Yu have turned enemies that originated as a ripoff of the Xenomorphs in Alien into the centerpiece of a damn good space saga in X-Men #9. (They’re also a metaphor for predatory capitalism too.) They go full Prometheus in the prologue of the issue and cast the Brood as yet another weapon in the Kree’s goal to overpower their rivals and rule the galaxy. This hubris gets some immediate comeuppance later in the issue as Hickman is in full Infinity/New Mutants form with Gladiator punching things to impress his son, who he is sadly distant from. Fathers and sons are present in the both the foreground and background of this comic with the conflict between the Kree, Shi’ar, and mutants smashing together with a Summers family reunion. This issue nicely balances the space opera politics and action with Yu and colorist Sunny Gho providing a cascade of colorful explosions, parasite-eaten space whales, and an ending featuring one of the most underrated X-Men supporting characters that turns this book on 180. As a title, Hickman and company’s X-Men has been either super entertaining and thought provoking or high on concept, low on entertainment value, but luckily issue nine is the first! Overall: 9.0 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 (**).