Category Archives: Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/28

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.


Logan

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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/21

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.


Logan

Bang! #2 (Dark Horse)– If Bang! #1 was Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres stripping the James Bond films down to their essence in metafictional fashion, then Bang! #2 does the same for Die Hard. Or really any of the regular guy saves the day from highly trained terrorists while making one-liners with collateral damage all around him. Kindt comes up with the clever conceit of boiling down an action hero trait into a pill form and turns this issue’s hero, John Shaw, into basically a junkie, whose actions are connected as much to an adrenaline rush as any love for his fellow human. His actions definitely fall into the category of looks cool, but would be horrifying in the real world with the text of the in-universe John Shaw novels hinting at these horrors. And all of these elements are held into place by the smooth storytelling of Wilfredo Torres, who makes each action sequence seamless with colorist Nayoung Kim, who varies the intensity of their palette depending on the scene. Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres alchemize the contrivances, possible sociopathy, collateral damage, and yes, the thrilling action of the Die Hard series into the beauty that is Bang! #2. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite books of 2020 as it is both meta-commentary on and a wonderful example of different action genres/franchises. Overall: 9.6 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #9 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To has the Excalibur team embark on a magical mystery tour to Starlight Citadel, the former home of the Captain Britain Corps and a nexus for the multiverse. And, then, they end up in a huge battle against Saturnyne and her army of, basically, Sailor scouts. Howard and To are starting to hit their tribe as they meld road story tropes with more fantasy elements. There’s also a dash of espionage as Meggan and Pete Wisdom check on what Morgan LeFay’s old cult is up too. Seeing characters like Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee self-actualize (And in Jubilee’s case, discover a new power set) makes for pleasing reading even if Excalibur isn’t the cream of the crop of the X-Books. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Buy

X-Force #9 (Marvel)X-Force #9 begins with some much needed rest and relaxation for the team with Wolverine playing “snikt roulette” with Gabby and Daken, and even Sage finally getting out of the office and chatting with Domino about her resurrection. However, Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara pull the team back into danger as they investigate what’s going on in Terra Verde, a country that had a strained diplomatic relationship with Krakoa. The results are B-movie, and Percy and Cassara know it as Wolverine, Kid Omega, Domino, and a special guest star fight killer plants connected to a bastardized version of Central American mythology. It’s silly fun, and Cassara shows he can do comedy and spreads as well as body horror. Also, Percy continues to brew tension in the background of the main plot with Beast continuing to be extra-manipulative. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

 Outlawed #1 (Marvel)– This one-shot from Eve Ewing and Kim Jacinto is just as advertised: it’s Civil War, but with teen superheroes. The destination is familiar (With one twist.), but the journey works for me. Jacinto and colorist Espen Grundetjern channel the chaos of shonen manga action scenes as the Champions miscommunicate, and Viv Vision loses control and causes collateral damage at a school where a teen science summit is happening. And even though it’s couched in supehero action, Ewing captures a little bit of the zeitgeist and frustration of Generation Z, who is politically active and well-informed, especially about climate change, but is still underestimated by older generations. (See how Teen Vogue’s coverage has changed over the year, for example.) Outlawed definitely is a setup for the new Champions title and various teen-centric Marvel titles, but it’s like a yummy mozzarella stick appetizer, not a bad movie trailer. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Woman #1 (Marvel)– Jessica Drew is back and darker than ever in her solo series from Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez. Having to pay bills and provide for her son has led Jessica to take a corporate security gig for a billionaire daughter’s birthday part that turns into an all out action setpiece. Perez pours on the violent close-ups and explosions showing that Jessica may be starting to lose control even as she “saves the day”. Pacheco brings the sassy quips, but Jessica’s inner thoughts are filled with an overall feeling of “What have I done”. The backup from Pacheco and Paulo Siqueira adds context to Jessica’s money woes, new (and pretty decent) costume, and the ending of the primary story. Siqueira definitely indulges in some ass shots, but the story does wonders for Jessica’s motivation and the series’ ongoing plot. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Woman #1 (Marvel)– Jessica Drew is back and darker than ever in her solo series from Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez. Having to pay bills and provide for her son has led Jessica to take a corporate security gig for a billionaire daughter’s birthday part that turns into an all out action setpiece. Perez pours on the violent close-ups and explosions showing that Jessica may be starting to lose control even as she “saves the day”. Pacheco brings the sassy quips, but Jessica’s inner thoughts are filled with an overall feeling of “What have I done”. The backup from Pacheco and Paulo Siqueira adds context to Jessica’s money woes, new (and pretty decent) costume, and the ending of the primary story. Siqueira definitely indulges in some ass shots, but the story does wonders for Jessica’s motivation and the series’ ongoing plot. 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 For The Week Ending 3/14

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.

Shean

Star Wars Bounty Hunters #1 (Marvel)– In an in between story of the original trilogy, we find Boba on a protection job. As we find out that his personal history with the two other Bounty Hunters would conflict. As someone else from Bob’s past resurfaces, we find fan favorite Doctor Aphra looking for a high prized Bounty that puts her in a collision course with Boba. By issue’s end, Boba carrying some precious cargo himself decides to diverge his course, in hopes of meeting this person from his past. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Cable #1 (Marvel) Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto give Cable #1 a really fun, swashbuckling tone beginning with single arena combat between Cable and Wolverine. This young Cable really has a lust for life and marvels at his ability to use weapons, telekinesis, telepathy, and also dating Armor and Pixie at the same time. He’s a classic “superbrat” hero, but Duggan and Noto introduce responsibility into his life with a couple, basically teasers for this storyline and maybe even X of Swords. They’re cool, and Noto uses both a thinner and a more painterly style for the pair of teases. However, they feel a little disjointed to the main story like ending a movie with a trailer for the next one. All in all, Cable #1 has an enjoyable tone, fantastic art and colors from Phil Noto, and introduces a couple of big time threats for the old, grumpy time traveler turned douchey (with a heart of gold) whipper snapper. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Men #8 (Marvel)– X-Men #8 feels like a continuation of Jonathan Hickman’s New Mutants in space arc with art from Mahmud Asrar and guest appearances from the Summers brothers and one of my all time favorite X-supporting characters, the lovable, loquacious Broo. Broo appears in this comic because the mythical Egg King has appeared in Krakoa courtesy of the New Mutants’ space jaunt and has attracted wave after wave of Brood hoard to find it. This leads to the egg getting thrown into space, but not after Asrar ably combines horror and action storytelling in big, damn fight scene as Cyclops and Magik fight off the Brood in Krakoa. Also, there’s a lot of intergalactic politics, but the thread is more difficult to follow compared to New Mutants, and I guess I need to read “War of Kings”. However, it’s nice to see a New Mutants story metastasize into an X-Men story, and Hickman flex those Avengers instead of X-Men muscles. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Adler #2 (Titan)– Lavie Tidhar’s plot starts to unfold in Adler #2 as Irene Adler and Jane Eyre begin their cat and mouse game against Ayesha (From H. Rider Haggard’s She) and Carmilla. Tidhar and Paul McCaffrey go beyond a drawing room and turn this into a sprawling Victorian crime saga, which is its strength as Ayesha takes over Professor Moriarty’s criminal empire while Adler and Eyre search for his murderer. This comic’s weakness is the MacGuffin of “papers”, which appear at the beginning and the end of the book without any real connective tissue to what’s going on in the middle. There’s no suspense because there’s no reason to care about them other than as an opportunity to trot out cameos from Little Orphan Annie (Captured in McCaffrey’s realist style.) and Madame Curie. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

Aggretsuko #2 (Oni Press)– Jarrett Williams plays on one of the strengths of licensed comics and uses it to explore a character pairing that hasn’t showed up in the Aggretsuko TV show, Retsuko and her vapid deer co-worker, Tsunoda. Tsunoda is still a shallow character, but Williams teases out some of her backstory about how she always wanted to be fashionable, glamorous, and doesn’t mind maxing out credit cards to do so. Sarah Stern uses a pastel palette, including plenty of pinks, to make the flashback scenes pop. All in all, Aggretsuko #2 is a great satire of influencer and consumer culture where philanthropic events aren’t there to help people, but to gain followers and “clout”. Plus it has some high energy death metal growl scenes in the Aggretsuko tradition. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Decorum #1 (Image)– The new creator-owned SF comic from Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston has god-tier visuals from a painted, silent prologue basically doing conquistadors in space to a fight scene using a painted diamond as a projectile weapon. Huddleston can go from scratchy inks to full color painted visuals at the drop of the hat while Hickman’s data pages range from the macro (Factions, planets, all-important backstories) to the micro (The makeup of noodle dish the protagonist is consuming). Like most Hickman works, there’s a lot to process in Decorum #1, but he and Huddleston keep things entertaining by having plenty of cool assassins, gangsters, and space shit to go with the granular worldbuilding. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

SFSX #7 (Image)– SFSX’s first arc comes to a close with Tina Horn and Jen Hickman showing the surviving sex workers at Dirty Mind fighting the patriarchy and not winning any kind of permanent victory, but doing a kind of shot across the bow. Oppression and normalcy might still be the ruling party, but there is still room for kink and queerness out there. Hickman’s art and colors continue to match the high energy of Horn’s thriller plot, but there’s also a sadness to her work too. SFSX #7 is a strong end to the first storyline and leaves you wanting a little more. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Hawkeye Freefall #4 (Marvel)– Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt’s Hawkeye Freefall #4 really has it all: dynamic cartooning (The Hawkeye/Spider-Man hand to hand fight is a highlight), body swap hijinks, vigilante action, and awkward interpersonal dynamics. Clint’s motivation to don the Ronin costume shines clearer in this issue as he knows that the Kingpin runs the city so instead of taking him out or the Hood, he’s going to funnel the Hood’s money into a drug treatment center. He’s trying to get to the heart of the problem instead of punching things. There is quite a lot of punching as Daredevil rustles up a task force featuring such varied characters as D-Man, US Agent, Mockingbird, Falcon, and Winter Soldier, but they mostly end up getting duped by an LMD and a Skrull that Hawkeye found breakdancing awkwardly on the subway. Hawkeye Freefall expertly juggles action, comedy, and social conscience, and is easily one of my favorite Marvel releases of 2020 so far. Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/6

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman #90 (DC) This book has been a breath of fresh air since the new creative team of Tynion IV and Daniel and March right from the jump. The pacing and art and story just breeze right on by The backstory in this issue with Selena explaining to Bruce the meeting between herself and the other Bat Villains and the new villain The Designer was fantastic. I definitely want more of him, he seems to be a welcome addition to the ever-growing rogues gallery. Let’s hope so. I always like when backstories can provide never before seen new facets to the mythos. The art has been great rotation between the talents of Tony Daniel and Gulliem March. I think the trade off on ever other book is a fantastic one two punch. Tynion IV has done a great job of keeping this book fresh and exciting which is not easy to do (looking at you Tom King) and keeping the Bat – Cat dialogue almost non existent. Still can’t wait to see what Deathstroke is up to in the long run and I’m already awaiting next issue. Score: 9. Recommendation: Buy.  

Superman: Villains #1 (DC) I was extremely looking forward to this book after the Superman: Heroes one shot but this was not what I expected. It was one of those books with tons of creators and short stories from many POVs but it just didn’t work here. I wanted nothing but all of Superman’s greatest villains reactions but we only got a few and then lots of shameless plugs and set ups for stuff coming down the pipe. The writing was alright and some of the art was okay but this just wasn’t what I expected. Superman’s ID reveal is monumental to DC Universe and this fell so flat in capitalizing on that moment. More time should have been dedicated to Lex’s reaction than the few throwaway pages we got. I hope they follow up much better in Superman’s main titles. Overall this was not what I expected in the least and big time miss on my end. Score: 6 Recommendation: Pass.

Logan

Strange Adventures #1 (DC/Black Label)– In Strange Adventures #1, Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan Shaner deliver a deconstruction of the space pulp hero genre through the lens of (Of course) the War on Terror and 24 hour mass media as well as an intense character study of Adam Strange. Gerads handles the earth sequences, and there is vulnerability and vitality to his figure work and use of grids. On the other hand, Shaner does the Rann flashbacks and does it in his trademark clean line, classic pulp style while using a darker color palette to show that Adam wasn’t 100% a lantern jawed, upright hero or even the perfect family man. King probes at the connection between war and heroism and sets up *yet another* murder mystery plot, but takes it in an interesting direction with the series’ unlikely deuteragonist investigating Adam’s actions, both at home and abroad, and holding him accountable. Their interactions in future issues are a big reason why I’ll continue to check out this book. Overall: 8.1 Verdict: Buy

 Billionaire Island #1 (Ahoy!)– The Flintstones’ Mark Russell and Steve Pugh hit satirical gold again in this skewering of the 1%. They take things the ultrawealthy have, such as private islands, offshore bank accounts, panic rooms, and eugenics programs, and turn it up to eleven. Russell’s plot doesn’t kick in until the last few pages, but Billionaire Island #1 does a fairly good job of setting up the comic’s premise and various locales. Pugh’s artwork exaggerates the right bits and goes deadpan at the right times too with some memorable imagery. The panel of a former tax accountant drinking from a hamster cage water bottle while waiting for a billionaire to give him the time of day is one that will be seared into my brain. Basically, Billionaire Island makes class warfare entertaining. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Man Noir #1 (Marvel)– From its opening action scene featuring pulp magazine cover-style art and monochromatic palette from Juan Ferreyra, Spider-Man Noir #1 exudes old school cool. Margaret Stohl’s dialogue stumbles at times when she tries to combine superhero platitudes with world-weary, gumshoe detective one-liners, but she nimbly shifts genres from a noir mystery to an adventure serial. She and Ferreyra immerse you in this world of violence, mystery, and conspiracy where a Nazi or a gangster is just around the corner. As an added bonus, Stohl and Ferreyra give Spider-Man Noir’s female characters agency and substantial time with Dr. Huma Bergmann basically kickstarting the plot, Mary Jane throwing punches and reminding Peter of his mission and basically to stop being mopey, and Aunt May running a community center. This comic is definitely worth picking up for fans of Into the Spider-Verse who wanted to see more of Nicolas Cage’s Spider-Man Noir or see a different visual or genre approach to the familiar environs of the Marvel Universe. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #8 (Marvel)– An issue-concluding conversation between Rachel Grey and Betsy Braddock almost turns Tini Howard, Victor Santos, and Marcus To’s Excalibur #8 from an okay to good/great comic. The Warwolves/Cullen Bloodstone storyline is wrapped with some incoherent action scenes and some flirting from Rictor and Cullen. It’s frustrating to hear about the cool things that Rogue, Gambit etc are doing from Howard’s exposition instead of seeing it in Santos, To, and way too many inkers’ art. Thankfully, she doesn’t pad out the storyline, and the aforementioned Rachel/Betsy conversation and a chat between Rictor (Love his new Druid design!) and Cullen about being gay in the Marvel Universe are the standout moments. Excalibur has a lot of potential as a series, especially when Marcus To is the artist, but it hasn’t reached it yet in issue 8. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

Marauders #9 (Marvel)– This is the second straight week with good Emma Frost content as the Marauders finally discover that Yellowjacket has been spying on them via Pyro. To counteract this, Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli introduce several doses of psychic fantasies as Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos quickly try defuse the situation. The illusions work because Lolli doesn’t switch up his art style except for maybe turning up the violence a little bit when Yellowjacket shoots his way past Emma and Bishop. In the big picture, Marauders #9 contributes to the ongoing issue of Krakoa having leaks of various kinds, and the actual player aka Sebastian Shaw doesn’t even make an appearance in this issue. Marauders #9 isn’t this series’ finest moment, but it’s a solid piece of connective tissue that also tapers off the Homo Verendi plotline. Duggan and Lolli should also be applauded for their creativity with the psychic powers. Overall: 8.0 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/29

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.


Logan

 Finger Guns #1 (Vault)– Justin Richards’ and Val Halvorson’s Finger Guns #1 is the first chapter of a high concept, YA comic about a boy and a girl who have the power to alter the emotional state of people around them through, er, finger guns. The book is peppered with silent panels and almost non-verbal until Sadie and Wes interact and relies Halvorson’s highly gestural art to show Wes’ lonely, day to day existence. Finger Guns understands that metaphor that being a kid is like being in a MMO, but on a lower level, and what if you found a way to level up quickly? This comic focuses on the sweet, sad side of being a teenager, but funny shenanigans do happen along the way. Finger Guns isn’t a runaway hit, but it has a fun core concept, a couple compelling leads, and is well constructed visually. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Amethyst #1 (DC/Wonder Comics)**- Amy Reeder writes, draws, and colors this excellent revival of Amethyst of Gemworld where Amy returns to her realm for a big birthday party, but no one is to be found. So, she embarks on an epic quest through Gemworld to find her missing parents/subjects with an air of mystery and tension happening throughout the comic. Reeder’s visuals are a true treat as she plays with panel shapes and uses a candy coated, 80s Saturday morning cartoon palette. Her figures are highly emotive, especially Amethyst, who is the perfect combo of idealism and sadness. Amethyst #1 is a pastel, fantasy comic that somehow takes place in the DCU and is a wonderful showcase for Amy Reeder’s considerable talents. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy

 Fantastic Four: Grimm Noir #1 (Marvel)– Grimm Noir #1 is a one-shot from Gerry Duggan, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla where the Thing puts away the family bickering and cosmic threats for more of an internal struggle. Also, there’s rain, trench coats, a lovely chanteuse, and wonderful blue-meets-chiaroscuro lighting from Milla. Duggan doesn’t really provide much plot or mystery, but gives just enough frame for Garney’s composition as Ben Grimm almost literally crumbles to rocks as he deals with the nightmare being D’Spayre, who is the bad guy metaphor for his feelings of loneliness, otherness, and generally waiting for the other shoe to drop with him and his wife Alicia Masters. Duggan and Garney make Grimm Noir a true monster comic with many panels of body horror imagery like Thing’s eyeballs rolling around with rocks as he enters D’Spayre’s realm. It’s both a strong character study of one of my favorite Marvel characters and a good visual change of pace from Ron Garney and Matt Milla. Although, I wish some of the images had more of a storytelling function beyond “This looks cool.” and “Yay symbolism.” Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1 (Marvel)– Giant Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1 is an homage to famous “silent” issue of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men where Jean Grey and Emma Frost go into Professor X’s brain and find an important secret. Jonathan Hickman lays down a big reveal featuring the heart of the X-Men, Storm and then leaves it up to the imaginative visuals of Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson to tell the story. Wilson’s colors truly enhance the story using more intense colors every time telekinesis is used and being flatter every time Dauterman does a big, widescreen shot to establish setting or conflict. Speaking of conflict, Hickman and Dauterman do a visually memorable job of depicting the “guardians” of Storm’s mind before getting more body horror, and well, Krakoa-y as they get deeper into her psyche. Giant Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost is a great reminder of the way clear, interesting, and character focused visuals can tell a comics story, and the superhero comics can have an interiority to them and not just be a series of external fights. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

New Mutants #8 (Marvel)– I might have to start skipping the Ed Brisson written issues of New Mutants after yet another stereotyped-filled stinker. However, I love how straight he plays Nova Aquilla with Boom Boom, Armor, and of course, Magma interacting with toga wearing Romans in the middle of the Brazilian rain forest. What follows is a cool powers-featuring action sequence with more Sebastian Shaw wheels spinning and even more cartel stereotypes. It’s not as bad as the previous issues in Nebraska because Shaw would definitely do the imperialist thing with the cartels, but the fictional Latin America country and one-dimensional focus on drugs and assault weapons is straight out of a Chuck Dixon comic from the 90s. On the art side, Marco Failla does have a great energy to his art and definitely nails the effect of Boom Boom and Armor blowing off steam against a (For now.) one-dimensional monstrous enemy while rescuing mutant refugees. Overall: 5.6 Verdict: Pass

X-Force #8 (Marvel)– Benjamin Percy and Bazaldua resolve the Domino flesh factory storyline and escalate Xeno’s threat. There’s also a big fight scene on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and Colossus and Domino bond over shared trauma and pain even though they live in what is technically a utopia. When they leap into combat against Xeno’s “Dominos”, it’s an exorcism, not a mandated fight scene with Colossus tenderizing punches and Domino’s more graceful moves making up for the guilt she feels in the infiltration of Krakoa and the assassination of Professor X. Bazaldua’s art is truly in motion in X-Force #8 as he cuts up panels to provide context for fight scenes and adds little, interesting touches like Sage holding a four leaf clover while she discusses Domino’s luck abilities with her. The plot of X-Force #8 is all about ramping up an external threat, but the chemistry between Domino and Colossus, both in action and conversation, is why I enjoyed this book. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Men/Fantastic Four #2 (Marvel)X-Men/Fantastic Four #2 definitely has middle of chapter crossover vibes from Chip Zdarsky, the Dodsons, Laura Martin, and some other inkers they got to make the deadline.The introduction of Dr. Doom is a nice touch and a call back to the original X-Men/FF miniseries as he only wants Franklin Richards to reach his true potential. (Or does he?) Also, there’s a great stealth sequence featuring the Invisible Woman infiltrating the Quiet Council that makes this table setting chapter almost worth it before transitioning to generic superhero action. There’s all kinds of cross purposes motivations going on from the FF’s desire just to bring Franklin home to the X-Men trying to protect Krakoa and Dr. Doom’s more complex goal. Zdarsky seems to be having a lot of fun writing him as a chess player instead of an arrogant baddie, and the battle of wits between strategists like him, Reed Richards, Cyclops, and adding the personal element make this crossover worth following in the long run. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

X-Men #7 (Marvel)X-Men #7 is Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Yu, and Sunny Gho’s ode to religious ritual: Krakoa style and also deals with the questions of Scarlet Witch, House of M, and if de-powered mutants can live in Krakoa. They frame it as a conversation between Cyclops and Nightcrawler, one of the most religiously devout X-Men, as well as a trial of combat called the Crucible between Apocalypse and Melody Guthrie, one of Cannonball’s siblings, who was depowered back on M-Day. As the fight rages on and violent ritual of death and rebirth ensues, Kurt wonders if the afterlife matters in a world where one can be resurrected and live on Krakoa indefinitely. He and Scott also talk about the idea of the best self and the choice of which version of “you” comes back after the resurrection protocols. Honestly, Cyclops is just happy to be happy for once after the past eight years or so of shit he’s been through in the comics and demonstrates real, blind faith even though that’s usually Nightcrawler’s role. X-Men #7 again shows that my favorite issues of the series are the ones where Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Yu delve into the ideological underpinnings of Krakoa and the new mutant nation with this issue acting as the religion to X-Men #4’s politics. Overall: 9.5 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 For The Week Ending 2/22

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.


Logan

X-Men #6 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Matteo Buffagni build off the Orchis space mission plot thread from House of X to tell a Mystique-centric story, show that Orchis is still a threat, and make Krakoa even a more morally ambiguous place. Basically, Xavier and Magneto have made Mystique a one woman Suicide Squad, who spies on Orchis and their new technology for the hope of getting her wife, Destiny back. Buffagni is a wonderful artist choice for this issue with all of its tech floating around, and he uses skinny panels to nail the emotional beats between Mystique, Xavier, and Magneto as they continue to manipulate her. But she has sort of an ace up her sleeve that could be the downfall of Krakoa as Hickman brings back the multiple timelines in this issue.Finally, X-Men #6 is another example of Hickman forsaking the multi-issue arcs of modern, mainstream comics for single issue stories that help convey the larger tapestry of life on Krakoa. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

New Mutants #7 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis wrap up the old school New Mutants in space arc in an experimental and occasionally abrupt fashion. Hickman definitely is having a ball writing the relationship between Sunspot and Cannonball and opens the issue with Sunspot breaking the fourth wall to complain about how the series has been broken up. Then, because they ran out of room or something, the climactic fight scene is decided by you, the reader, rolling D6’s. (In my case, the Shi’ar Imperial Guard won, and Mentor was the last one standing.) The intergalactic politics thing ends up just being a joke and an excuse for Cannonball and Sunspot to hang out more and banter. However, Rod Reis’ art and colors continue to be lush and emotive, perfect for the space-scapes and scenes of conflict between the New Mutants and Guard. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Wolverine #1 (Marvel)– Logan returns to solo comics is suitably guilt-ridden, claw-slashing, and bloody fashion in a pair of stories penned by Benjamin Percy and drawn by Adam Kubert and Viktor Bogdanovic. Both are crafted around his role as Krakoa’s last line of defense, the man of the wall, who will do whatever it takes to keep mutants safe. He might open the comic playing hide and seek with mutant children in a brightly colored sequence, but he probably has more in common with Omega Red in the 2nd story or the visions of his actions in the Old Man Logan comic in the first one. The 1st story basically throws Wolverine into a Narcos-like situation where he’s trying to figure out who is using the Krakoan flowers to whip up a human cult that wants to literally drink mutant blood. It’s solid, but the second story featuring vampires, the Paris catacombs, and the story of Catholic saints is much more exciting and pure pulp goodness. Percy and Bogdanovic work in tandem knowing when to cut between panels and when to open up and let Logan or Omega Red cut loose. The Vampire Nation is a powerful threat for Krakoa as well as its twisted mirror. Finally, the real highlight of this excellent, yet overpriced comic is Magneto using the CIA as an example of why Wolverine, and by extension, Krakoa, will never have the moral high ground. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #8 (Marvel)– This is the big reaction issue to the death of Kate Pryde with some Sebastian Shaw maneuvering in the background. Most of the comic is Gerry Duggan and Stefano Caselli turning Iceman loose as he’s less Northstar and more Midnighter in the violence spectrum of queer characters because of his friendship with Kate. Caselli brings the big screen, elemental action showing the effects of Bobby’s power before showing his emotional reaction to Kate’s death. It’s cathartic and bookends nicely with Storm and Emma Frost’s interactions as this issue really drives home how much Kate meant to the X-Men and her Marauder teammates. Throughout the series, Duggan and Caselli have been able to pull off these kind of *water cooler* moments in Marauders, and this issue is no exception. Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

 Bang! #1 (Dark Horse)– The new comic from Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres is a spy thriller that starts as an overt deconstruction of James Bond and then becomes much more metafictional. Think “fiction suits” from the works of Grant Morrison. Bang #1 is that fan theory that James Bond isn’t one man, but a codename given to different men (For now) written larger than life. Wilfredo Torres’ art is smooth and perfectly fit for both sleek action, pop culture/pulp homages, and something a little more mindbending. He uses grids for the hand to hand combat and splash pages for the big reveal. Nayoung Kim keeps the colors reasonably flat because this is pop reality, not reality. Bang! has an interesting concept and examines the misogyny and imperialism of pulp paperbacks while also indulging in its best tropes. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

 Valkyrie: Jane Foster #8 (Marvel)– Norwegian writer Torunn Gronbekk joins Jason Aaron and Cafu on the issue of Valkyrie: Jane Foster, and they tell a middling, disaster movie-esque, guest star heavy story of Valkyrie, the Avengers, and Thor against the forces of anti-life that were guarded by the All-Father and are now released. The best part of this comic is the two pages that Jane and her friend Lisa get to chat and talk about their lives until the ground opens up. I honestly don’t blame Gronbekk choosing the biggest toys in the box to play with in her first Marvel outing, but with the exception of the aforementioned two pages and the end of the comic, it feels more like an Avengers comic than a Valkyrie one. Also, this issue’s villain is a little bit of a retread of the last arc’s, but with more of a connection to Norse mythology. However, Cafu has a nice photorealistic style that isn’t stiff and makes for pleasant reading. Overall: 5.8 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 For The Week Ending 2/8

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman Pennyworth RIP #1 (DC) In the aftermath of a terrible tragedy, the Bat family come together to mourn the life of their most faithful compatriot: Alfred Pennyworth. Nothing has been the same since Bane broke Alfred’s neck and took his life back during City of Bane. Bruce has been going solo and pushing the candle at both ends harder than ever before to drown out the pain. He has dedicated himself to rebuilding Gotham, both physically and spiritually. However thanks to a reading of Alfred’s will there was but one demand: That the whole family take one night off from crime fighting. Naturally Bruce made arrangements for the city to be looked after so they may all honor this one wish. In a secluded location, they gather to toast Alfred and one by one trade stories about who he was and what he meant to them all individually. As a collective it is clear that Alfred was the glue that held them all together. Each of the family is at a different point in their lives and careers. Damian is with the Titans, Tim is off solo, Barbara is mostly in the city and Dick, doesn’t even remember who he truly is, other than Ric Grayson. Not the particular ideal scenario, but all agree beyond doubt that Bruce is broken. Typical Bruce is stoic as usual and tough demeanor, but they all see right through it. Writers James Tynion IV and Peter J. Tomasi do a fantastic job here of crafting a tale of loss and celebration of life through many perspectives. There is barely a punch thrown in this whole issue other than emotional gut ones. I love these types of stories. They are the kind that get to the hearts and minds of the people underneath the capes and cowls. The art by the collective efforts of Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Chris Burnham, Marcio Takara, Diogens Neves, David Lafuente & Sumit Kumar also do a great job of illustrating everyone’s pain and loss and at the same time providing a hint a of optimism. The panels whisk by breezily but never failing to capture the appropriate emotion from each storytellers perspectives. It really is a wonderful read. THIS was the issue I’ve been waiting for ever since the fateful last page in Batman #77 some time back. This was a fantastic tribute to the character of Alfred Pennyworth and I really enjoyed all the extra treats they put in to make this issue pop even more. Only of my favorite moments was when Alfred broke into GCPD as a cat burgler to retrieve Tim Drake’s Red Robin weapons that he thought he lost. It’s stuff like this that enhances the reading even more. It might be too soon to say but this is my favorite single issue of 2020 thus far. Overall: I give this a 10. For the emotion, art, and tribute. Reccomendation: Must buy. As a Bat fan, how could you not?

Logan

Gwen Stacy #1 (Marvel)– This is a fairly wholesome “Untold Tales” type story from Christos Gage and Todd Nauck telling the 1960s Amazing Spider-Man stories from Gwen Stacy’s POV. Gage writes Gwen as a whip smart, loving high school student, who doesn’t take guff from anyone whether that’s her dad’s corrupt police colleagues or creepy guys at her high school. Gage weaves a fairly complex, organized crime-centric plotline, but still has some time for some cute moments like Gwen and her boyfriend flirting at the public library while a pre-spider bite Peter Parker reads a science book. Nauck is definitely more of a superhero artist than a slice of life one, but his storytelling is easy to follow. Plus there are a couple fun backup stories for Gwen fans. Overall, this is a great book for Silver Age aficionados or folks who like Marvel Universe stories from a civilian POV. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Alienated #1 (BOOM!)- What if 3 high schoolers with the same name (Sam), but 3 different personalities were all the psychically linked? This is the high concept premise of Si Spurrier and Chris Wildgoose’s Alienated. They craft a world not too dissimilar from our own where a YouTube type platform is the main type of entertainment for youngsters and conformity is the main point of education. Spurrier gives all 3 leads distinct personalities, and Wildgoose throws in some fun storytelling tricks like triptych panels that heighten the telepathy scenes compared to school scenes. And letterer Jim Campbell is Alienated’s secret weapon as he creates three (and later four) distinct word balloon types for the main characters. Alienated #1 is a good coming of age story with a little political satire and sci-fi thrown in to spice things up. Overall: 8.6 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 For The Week Ending 2/8

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.


Logan

 Marauders #7 (Marvel)– Marauders #7 feels more like a collection of scenes than a coherent whole, but it’s another intriguing and humorous chapter in the series from Gerry Duggan and Stefano Casselli. In this issue, we get to see what the Morlocks have been up to in the Dawn of X era, and it’s worth picking up to alone to see Callisto verbally and physically snipe with Storm and Emma Frost while apparently Masque has picked up golf. In comparison to the Callisto/Emma scenes, the rest of the book seems like plot housekeeping with the Marauders picking up more intel on the Homo Verendi and vice versa. Plus the shocking events of the previous issue slowly start to bear fruit. Casselli’s art is solid even if it’s a little house style for my taste, but he does draw some hilarious reaction shots like mutant fashion designer Jumbo Carnation’s reaction to Callisto’s new “do it herself” look. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel)– X-Men/FF #1 is a coming of age tale meets beat ’em up superhero crossover. Chip Zdarsky, the Dodsons, and Laura Martin showcase an ethical debate between Professor X and Reed Richards, Invisible Woman putting Magneto in a forcefield bubble, and of course, an Iceman/Human Torch throwdown among other spectacles. But this comic is really about a father not letting his son grow up and try new things. Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben really care about Franklin’s well-being, especially with the slow loss of his powers and reassure him that it’s okay if he’s just “human”. But, then, there’s the allure of the X-Men and Krakoa where he can be around a found family that understand what he’s going through. The pairing of Kate Pryde and Franklin Richards in a big sister/little brother found family way is a genius move from Zdarsky and the Dodsons as well as a shout out to the first X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover mini. Zdarsky writes her with great empathy while not skimping on the action beats, which is sure to ramp up in the following issue. One critique I did have with the comic is that the art sometimes isn’t up to the Dodsons’ usually standards with some weird framing of the Krakoa gates and facial expressions from Sue Richards that don’t match up to what she’s doing in the story. This might be due to the presence of two guest inkers as well as Rachel Dodson. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

 Crowded #11 (Image)– In the penultimate issue of the second arc of this fun social media dystopia/love story from Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell focus on Charlie and Vita’s new life in a cult-ish compound in New Mexico. They’re connected to Vita’s past (Of course.), and Sebela does a great job of toeing the line between them being just a little weird and overly family friendly and totally messed up. There’s a muted, sanitized feel to Farrell’s colors after glitz, glam, and ultraviolence of Vegas and L.A. However, the intensity of Charlie and Vita’s relationship (They’ve been sleeping together the past couple issues.) reaches new heights in this issue as they try to be open and vulnerable, and it doesn’t really work out. The table is definitely set up for wild story arc conclusion with plenty of guns and sexual tension. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

After Realm Quarterly #1 (Image)– This is an oversized fantasy comic from Michael Avon Oeming and Taki Soma about an elf named Oona, who is too clever for her own good and wants to go on adventures in a world bereft of them. The book is setting after Ragnarok in which the Elven realm decided to isolate itself from the other eight and act as a prison for Loki. Loki’s preying on Oona’s outsider status is the key conflict of After Realm as she doesn’t quite fit in with the other Elves and is always getting kicked out of the ranks of the Elf rangers. Oeming working in fantasy adventure mode is a real treat, and Soma’s color palette sings any time magical powers are used bringing light and intrigue to this grim, post-apocalyptic world. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Elana

X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel)Queer and Jewish themes abound in this new crossover series. As Steven Attewell pointed out on twitter https://twitter.com/StevenAtte…/status/1225117205647581194 — Magneto shows up in the Jewish Homeland (the Lower East Side) telling Franklin to go on Birthright (the Zionist propaganda program that enables Jewish young adults to visit Israel for free— but not Palestine of course). Meanwhile, Sue and Reed are conspiring to suppress their son’s identity and freedom as a mutant. He can “come out when he’s older” more or less. Sounds like a lot of unsupportive parents of queer kids. Damn Chip Zdarsky is good! The Dodson’s art is okay. I don’t love how they do the kids faces but their Kate Pryde is tender and wise. Really excited by this series. Recommendation: Buy it!

Shean

Conan: Battle For The Serpent Crown #1 (Marvel)– In probably the most exciting and funny story to come from the House Of Ideas, is this fish out of water story starring everyone’s favorite Cimmerian. In a story that unfolds like a mix between Birthright, and the movie version of Masters Of The Universe, Conan gets thrown into modern day Las Vegas. Here he gets into some shenanigans with a cat burglar named Nyla who recruits the Barbarian into a dangerous score and run into another skilled thief, Blackcat. By issue’s end, another player may be involved, as we find out they have captured the interest of Mephisto. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Star Wars Darth Vader #1 (Marvel)– I must say, the comic books from The Marvel Star Wars Universe, has been fun and even has given us more than we could have ever asked for in some cases( Doctor Aphra) but it seems the original trilogy has been treated as consecrated grounds until now. In the hands of Greg Pak, he gets to tell a story very reminiscent of Shadows Of The Empire.As we find Vader searching for Luke, shortly after revealing he was his father. By issue’s end, his search takes him to Tattoine and eventually Coruscant, where a person from his past surprisingly reappears. Overall: 10 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 For The Week Ending 1/25

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.


Joe Hesh

Justice League #39 (DC)** This is it. Scott Snyder’s final issue of his JL run and finally after all the build up and all the agony battling the God Perpetua, the league finally… loses. This here was very interesting to me. We have a scenario where the heroes emphatically lose. Perpetua let the humans decide and out of fear they chose her over Earth’s protectors. The League is in utter disbelief until multiple God like beings (Highfather, Hera, Guardians, Phantom Stranger and The Spectre confirm the results. In fact it is only by their divine interference that the League even have their lives at the moment because Perpetua wanted them dead.
Aquaman notes that all things rise and fall with the tides and perhaps this time is not their’s to win. Perhaps this is it. Clark and Bruce and Barry cannot accept this and believe another way where Diana asks them to think is it worth it? Maybe if they try more it will be even worse. The people of Earth have spoken.To me this was interesting as it was very reminiscent of the plot of Batman: Last Knight on Earth where the heroes let it be up to the heroes and the people ended up turning and killing all the heroes brutally for their trust. Now since Snyder wrote both of these I can’t help but wonder if there is a link there.  It’s nice when time to time you have these demigods doubt their own and humanity’s intentions. It adds a layer of believability to them. It really beefed up the content of this story for me here.
As for art chores, the combined efforts of Jorge Jimenez and Daniel Sampiere and Juan Albarran really put forth some gorgeous art making the book flow wonderfully. I’m not sure who is jumping on the title as of next issue when Snyder hops off, but I would not mind at all if Jorge Jimenez stayed on. He just fits brilliantly.
Of course the issue ends in very ambiguous fashion with our heroes rushing into the unknown. Presumably to undo what has been done.
Now I think Snyder has done a really good job on the title and not since Grant Morrison has the League been so readable. That being said I welcome a new team. I’m excited to see where this goes next.
Score: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

X-Men #5 (Marvel)– This is a very Jonathan Hickman issue of X-Men as they send a special team of Synch, Darwin, and X-23 against the Children of the Vault, who live in a base that messes with time. The Children of the Vault remind of some previous Hickman concepts like the Builders, Alephs, and Black Swan. It’s cool on an abstract level, especially with the sleek art and colors from RB Silva and Marte Gracia, but I haven’t really latched on it yet. However, what saves this comic from being a total wash is the interactions between Logan and X-23, who is still Wolverine to him, and Cyclops’ reaction to his maybe not so smart decisions that may have endangered the whole Krakoa/resurrection protocols situation. Overall: 6.5 Verdict: Read

New Mutants #6 (Marvel)– Ed Brisson and Flaviano’s arc where Beak, Angel Salvadore, Boom Boom, Armor, Glob Herman, Maxime, and Manon deal with anti-mutant activists comes to a satisfactory close in New Mutants #6. The Bohem cartel are generic “gang banger” types and more straw men than well-developed villains, but they provide an opportunity for Boom Boom to get her rage out and Glob to show his restraint and honestly the first real character development for him in almost two decades. Also, the story contributes to growing tension between Krakoa and the human-run countries. But where the story really gets good and morally ambiguous is when Maxime and Manon manipulate Beak, Angel, and their family’s memories so they thought Beak’s parents died years ago instead of recently. This establishes Maxime and Manon as powerful, yet irresponsible wildcards in the world of mutants, and one that will bear consequences down the road. Finally, Flaviano and Carlos Lopez’s visuals are downright cathartic during the action scenes, and I especially enjoyed Lopez’s use of flat colors when Angel acid vomited on the men who threatened her and her family’s peaceful existence. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics #1 (IDW)– Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics reprints the first two chapters of Stan Sakai’s seminal rabbit samurai series, Usagi Yojimbo. The story begins with a nearly silent duel between Miyamoto Usagi and a warthog warrior before going into flashback and showing his training with his lion sensei. Sakai is a master of using the montage to show passage of time in this comic as well as using grid to show a part of the story featuring pain or great effort like Usagi struggling to hit his sensei with a practice sword. He can do slapstick comedy too like Usagi’s sensei kicking a bunch of upstart students from another fencing school’s asses as they sprawl and splay across the page. After the color reprints, there is a black and white story introducing (presumably new readers like me) the complex world of Usagi Yojimbo with many factions and alliances, friends and foes. 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/25

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.


Logan

Once and Future #6 (BOOM!)– The first arc of Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain’s riff on Arthurian legends and the Holy Grail comes to an action-packed conclusion. Duncan has truly transformed from a nerdy academic to a pure of heart hero and fulfills the archetypes of these legends while also putting his own stamp on it. The story’s emotional crux is the dysfunctional relationship between Duncan and his grandmother who used him in a pawn to get the Holy Grail. Mora draws some harsh glances, and Gillen adds some harsh words when they interact between the sword slashing, skeleton killing, and Celtic, er, white supremacist pearl clutching. Once and Future really works as a self-contained miniseries, but Gillen and Mora dangle some delightful elements from the legendarium for arc two. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #6 (Marvel)– Ooh, this comic got good. Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, and Mario Del Pennino show the battle between the Marauders and the Homo Verendi that is some good racist ass kicking content. Storm gets to kick a guy in the face. However, Marauders #6 doesn’t stop here, but twists the knife even deeper with the mutant political intrigue and Kate Pryde’s status of being unable to go to Krakoa. Sebastian Shaw demonstrates why he’s a fantastic villain, and Duggan, Lolli, and Del Pennino score some big emotional blows in the issue’s third act. Marauders has really leveled up as a comic in issue six with high emotional stakes to go with its cleanly rendered action and sense of humor. (Apparently, Pyro enjoys LITs and Rick and Morty.) Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #6 (Marvel)– Some of the previous issues were little rough, but I think I’ve come around to liking Tini Howard and Marcus To’s Excalibur. This issue is full high fantasy with evil witches, death and rebirth, a duel to the death, and dragon fire. Howard and To also relish in Apocalypse’s plotting as everyone, including Morgan Le Fay and Jamie Braddock, have a role to play as he expands Krakoa into Otherworld. However, Excalibur #6 balances this big picture plotting with warm moments like Rogue and Gambit discussing their relationship in a hot tub, and Betsy and Brian Braddock talking about heroism and their commitment to the Captain Britain Corps. These scenes with pairs of characters are something Tini Howard really writes well and restored my interest in this title. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Shean

Atlantis Attacks #1 (Marvel)– As someone who read the original 1989 crossover event, I can definitely say that the only connection is Namor. As we find the Agents of ATLAS building the Portal City of Pan, as the businessman who built it holds a dark secret, that’s it is powered by a dragon stolen from Atlantis unbeknownst to the Agents. This of course comes to the knowledge of Namor who sees this as another slight against his rule. By issue’s end, we find our heroes battling against the Submariner, which is the reason why he is probably one of Marvel’s most complicated anti-heroes. Overall: 9.3 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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