Category Archives: Mini Reviews

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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/18

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 #86 (DC) It is always darkest before the dawn. After the up and down fest that was Tom King’s historic Batman run we get a much welcomed change of pace here. James Tynion IV does not waste any time getting Bruce into costume again. This is a good thing because Tony Daniel draws such a great Batman. I am loving the Bruce and Lucius dynamic ala The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight rises movies. Bruce is still very much touched by his grief over losing Alfred and is not on all cylinders yet (something I can very much relate to having lost my father last year) I like how Deathstroke knows this and chooses to strike when Bruce is off his game. In addition to drawing an awesome Batman, Daniel draws one hell of a Slade and I always enjoy these two at each other more and more. Seeing the other side characters was cool but just fodder. We get new bat vehicle and gadgets and lots of cool toys this issue and Lucius is very much the Q to Bruce’s James and I want much more of it. So only a first outting but Tynion studied under the tutelage of Scott Snyder and if he keeps this up we are in good hands for short term. For the love of God though, no more fucking BANE. Let that character languish for a long while. I’d like to see what Slades bigger plan is. We all know he has one.
Score: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy 

Logan

 Excalibur #5 (Marvel)– Excalibur #5 is an up and down comic for me. I love how Tini Howard writes Rogue so powerfully and Southern and Marcus To’s clean linework when she is trapped in Otherworld. However, the majority of the comic is a mess of explosions, crystals, magic, and Apocalypse being more of an overt villain. There is definitely something primal cooking in Howard’s overarching story, but at this point, I don’t know if I’m interested in as she and To switch characters perspectives and juggle plots each issue. Basically, Excalibur #5 has some entertaining moments (And it’s nice to see Rogue play an active role in the proceedings.), but doesn’t work together as a coherent unit of story. Overall: 5.8 Verdict: Pass

New Mutants #5 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis are back with the “old school” New Mutants in space on a mission that’s, well, complicated by Shi’ar politics. This issue balances space and superpowered action with humor, characterization, and a dash of political intrigue. Hickman gives each New Mutant something to do whether it’s Chamber and Mondo sharing a toast to pacifism while their teammates fight the shit out of some Shi’ar Death Commandos, or Magik showing off her leadership (and flirting) skills with the Death Commando boarding party. Reis has been my favorite artist on the Dawn of X books, and he’s back with more expressive faces, lush colors, and Heavy Metal-inspired spaceships and stations meets Bob McLeod’s classic character designs. He’s also an economic storyteller. For example, one panel with a flatline tells more about Magik’s ruthless and combat abilities than five pages of protracted action. I didn’t mind the Ed Brisson/check with some underutilized mutants from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men interlude, but New Mutants #5 returns this book to elite status. A must read for anyone who likes their mutants in space and flirtatious. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

 X-Force #5 (Marvel)– Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara’s X-Force #5 brings the gory and gruesome black ops action while also considering of the implications of these battles on the team and their antagonists. With Wolverine mostly out of commission, Domino takes center stage in the fight against Xeno, the organization that blew up a Krakoa gate and assassinated Charles Xavier. Percy and Cassara drive home the effects of the torture Xeno unleashed on her, and she returns it on kind. Percy also takes a moment to humanize a member of the team they’re fighting against, but not too much as he pivots to Beast undermining the utopian world of Krakoa through very human things like mental and physical torture and off the books operatives. X-Force is a book about the secret sins that nations commit to preserve themselves and shows this through words as well as sometimes revolting, sometimes stylish action. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

 Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 (Titan)– The numbering is weird, but Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 presents some absolutely bonkers Tank Girl, Jet Girl, and Sub Girl stories from the early 1990s by creators Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett with some stories drawn by artists Glyn Dillon and Philip Bond. Hewlett’s character design is fantastic, but he’s a great storyteller too as evidenced in the first story where he homages different film genres when Tank Girl and Booga take on every bounty hunter in Australia. His panels are crammed full of fun litle details and background jokes while Martin’s dialogue is easygoing and filled to the brim with double entendres. One thing I liked about this comic is that it also focused on Tank Girl’s supporting cast like a story where her kangaroo boyfriend Booga’s dad is a yeti, or a MAD-meets-Behind the Music parody of Morrissey and The Smiths that Sub Girl narrates. (Dillon draws a hilarious Morrissey Fat Elvis caricature.) Along with the original strips, this comic is packed full with photos of the creators and pinups from Hewlett, Bond, and Dillon and provides a window into the creativity of British comics and Deadline in the early 1990s. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

SFSX #5 (Image)– Jen Hickman joins SFSX as both artist and colorist, and they and Tina Horn tell an exciting heist story as Avory and her crew of sex workers from Dirty Mind try to break out her husband George from the Party’s reeducation camp. This comic is a bullet in the head of purity culture as Horn and Hickman systematically dismantle kink shaming. (Chasten Buttigieg would be appalled ;) ) Hickman’s character acting is amazing, and they add some clever touches like having characters’ knowledge of rope bondage and harnesses get them through vents and air ducts like some kind of BDSM John McClane. Add one incredibly (and actually) monstrous bad guy that has an emotional connection to the main characters, and SFSX #5 is another great chapter in this series. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Steeple #5 (Dark Horse)– Billie finds her inner darkness in the conclusion of John Allison and Sarah Stern’s miniseries. Allison sets the tone hilariously by Billie finding Satan a bit buff and attractive and hanging up a John Wick poster in the rectory. This issue is compelling because it’s centered around the relationship between Billie and Maggie as they basically swap places/religions. A heart to heart at a coffee shop reveals that Maggie is a good person with a sensitive conscience who joined the Church of Satan so that she could forget about her activism and thirst for justice through hedonism. And Billie just wants to be “bad”. Allison goes the ending with a big character change route while leaving the door ajar for more stories in the Steeple world. His art continues to be a delightful treat as he makes possessed vacuum cleaners and the extinction of the water vole hilarious. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Shean

Rising Sun#1 (IDW)– In a feudal tale of Ninjas fighting monsters, we get this comic book serialization of the popular video game, as someone who has never played the game, I felt lost for a good part of the issue, something that should never happen to any comic book reader. Hopefully, a second issue will do more to give more back story. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Borrow

Black Widow Prelude #1 (Marvel)– An adequate primer, nothing more, nothing less. Overall: 6.7 Recommendation: Borrow


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 12/21

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman Last Knight on Earth # 3 (DC Black Label)** So here it is. The self proposed last Batman story that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo ever wanted to create. I must say it has been dark, dark, dark thus far. Good thing it is on Black Label. It was clear from the beginning this road was going to have a very bleak turn. The identity of Omega is finally revealed and I must say I did not see THAT coming. Which is a good thing, because how can you be entertained in comics if you guess everything that happens. See I like to be in the know and like to even spoil the event for myself at times with vaunted intelligence. However every now and then I get truly surprised and when it is pulled off and makes sense, not just for shock value. it is incredible. It is no secret that Snyder and Capullo are my all time favorite creative team. I even call them Batgods. This issue is a perfect example of why. It has everything. Huge world ending stakes? Check. Major crazy epic villain reveal? Check. Over the top meta changing crazy reality defining battle? Check. And… well you will just have to see for yourself. Snyder caps off his Magnum Opus with some of his finest work yet and harkening back to some of his first Batman work in the process. There are easter eggs scattered and hearts shattered. Capullo proves he is just a Green Lantern in disguise with a pen as his art is just magnificent here and the colors by Jonathan Glapion are freaking gorgeous. Once again if you are going in like me and think you got this figured out, you ain’t seen shit. This one will blow your bat lights. Slow clap for the finish gents, well done. Score: 9.9 Recommendation: You have to ask? Buy

Justice League #38 (DC) The final battle between God Lex and the League ensues. Guess I get a double dose of Snyder goodness here. This one is rocking as Lex with all the power more than ever before takes the League head on and dismantles every single one. It reminds me of the classic Justice League cartoon saga when Lex and Brainiac merge. There are some amazing action beats such as Lex using every construct that John Stewart has ever made, against him. Jorge Jiminez does a great job wielding the pencil here and making our heroes have a most difficult time navigating peril. There are some new characters that I was not aware of such as Shayne, who is obviously Hawkgirl and J’onn’s son. I have to read when that happened. For the most part though, this is a Justice League comic and the rules apply so I just let it unfold. Great confrontation with Lex and Batman and a Starro named Jarro who seems to think Batman is his dad, another beat I missed but nonetheless, this was a good book. We get left on a cliff hanger with a big return and I am very down to see how it all concludes. Score: 8.5  Reccomendation: Buy

Batman #85 (DC) After what seems like forever we are here at the end of Tom King’s Batman run. Yes it has had its ups, its downs, its awful and its great, here we get right in the middle. We see Bruce take on Thomas in a battle for Gotham and the cowl, it an issue that jumps around, a lot. Too much at times. I can appreciate what King tried to do with the tough love approach from Thomas and in the process making a shocking enemy but to me I’d have much rather had him as an ally like in The Button (Seriously that crossover was amazing still) than to have this version of Thomas. We get lots and lots of dialogue and flashbacks and flash forwards that it sort of takes you out of the issue at times. At least this is it. No more long sagas to prod through under this era of Batman so for that I am happy. While I really thought this one was going to give us the double sized conclusion we all deserved, it just more or less left me wanting. Not more of this though! I just wanted a neater solution. Well that’s comics. I will say the tease of what’s next at the end was very entertaining though and has my bat ears raised a bit. So we shall see. Mikel Janin did a great job on art chores but his talents are needed elsewhere pronto. So it wasn’t all I wanted it to be, but it was no where near as bat as some of the stuff in the middle. So lets just shine the symbol and see what comes next. Score: 7 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 For The Week Ending 12/14

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman Curse of the White Knight # 5 (DC) Opening with one of the best funeral speeches I have heard in a comic, Sean Murphy kills this one again. His Batman may not be my ideal Batman or his voice but the world around him, he has to a tee. Everyone of the characters he writes is so alive and has purpose and you do not ever just feel like they are talking heads wasting time till the big action sequence.
He has finally crafted a story where you really feel that Batman is in full danger. This one will be a pyrrhic victory for sure at best. No one is coming out all touchy feely here especially not after the death of Jim Gordon.
Harley remains a great character I’m loving the bond with Bruce. It adds something special. Like a more adult version of the classic Batman the Animated Series episode “Harlequinade”. They finally made Jean Paul Valley a worthy wearer of the Azrael mantle. He is so good it’s like this is what the creators should have envisioned all along, but I will take it now.
Murphy also crafts a great mystery of Gotham, a city which has seen almost every mystery possible he found a way to make something new. Suffice to say I think that this is unquestionably the best Batman title going at the moment. No I do NOT WANT DC to put him on the regular title as they would only water him down and ruin all this goodness.
With only a few issues left and Mr Murphy already eyeing a sequel, one has to wonder if their will be anything left? Who cares? I just want more of this now. Please. Score: 9.5  Highly Recommended.

Superman #17 (DC) Boy, Bendis has sure been off and on with this title, but thankfully when all eyes are on this, he is so ON. This is the big coming out issue. Yep I know, I hear ya, hasn’t this been done before? Well definitely not as well. Supes holds a big press conference to spill his secret ID but then we get the handy dandy flashback of why he has come to this momentus conclusion. We get great solo moments with Perry and Jimmy and they make the book worth it alone. No matter what side of the fence you are on this one (Batman I’m looking at you) you can at least see Clark’s justification. Finally not since the Death of Superman, do we have something new and truly Super for the Man of Steel to handle. No Crisis, No Zero Hour, or New Krypton or even sigh.. Leviathan, this has all the potential to be something special we will recall for ages. I just I was wise reupping my subscription to the Daily Planet because I want every single page of this story.
Also Ivan Reis is the best Superman artist since Dan Jurgens. Period. Change my mind. Score: 9  Recommended


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 12/7

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 #84 (DC) SPOILERS -So here we are the penultimate issue before the end of City of Bane arc and its two steps forward and one step back. This issue opens with Bruce and Thomas squaring off in the dining area of Wayne Manor, as we are quickly whisked in many many time jumps showing us Thomas’s activities since rejoining us on our Earth. While there are some cool beats there are also many confusing ones. For example we get a Selena Kyle who joins Thomas on his cruade as his Robin but she refers to him as Dad? Its never apparent which Selena this is, is another Selena in the multiverse or is it our Selena and she’s been manipulating Bruce all along. I’m not sure which one. We then see Thomas hunt down everything and anything he sees as a threat to Bruce including shooting our Oswald Cobblepot in the head. (that was interesting) We also get Thomas’s version of Bruce’s famous vow which was cool. I have been a big fan of Thomas Wayne Flashpoint Batman and feel The Button arc is one of the best comics I’ve ever read but the way that King has used him in this is so convoluted and way beyond tough love that it makes any chance for redemption ridiculous. Any outcome other than Bruce killing Thomas for what he has done is not acceptable. King only has one issue to wrap this all up and I have little faith he can accomplish that feat. So once again, the pictures have been grand and I get the impact he’s going for but its just so muddled that it becomes so hard to see Thomas as anything other than an Arkham psycho. This is a character that started so rich and deserves so much more. Like Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” One issue left lets hope King and Co. give us the ending we deserve.
Score: 7 Recommendation: Read

Logan

Thor: The Worthy #1 (Marvel)– In Thor: The Worthy #1, Marvel rustles up some of the greatest creators of Asgardian comic content to tell stories about heroism and perserverance even if your dad isn’t Odin. Legendary Thor writer Walter Simonson teams up with artists Mike Hawthorne, Sal Buscema (Who is 83!), and Tamra Bonvillain to tell a Kirby-esque of Beta Ray Bill, Sif, and a rock troll threatening Asgard. It doubles as an homage to his run, a great Young Thor tale story, and a look back at the underrated relationship between Sif and Bill. The second story by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz is a day in the life of The militarized cop supporting cast hasn’t aged well, but Frenz’s muscular linework and Eric’s salt of the Earth heroism is timeless. There’s even a a fantastic Secret Wars homage, and it reminds readers that the late Eric Masterson was a great, relatable hero in the “extreme” era of the 1990s. The final story from Kathryn Immonen and Tom Reilly is a fantastic Sif and Thor (Jane Foster) team-up as Sif shows Thor the ropes of Asgardian diplomacy, and Thor realizes that she is truly worthy of wielding Mjolnir. The art has a great Kirby meets Simonson vibe to tie it into the first story, and Reilly’s explosive pencils complement Immonen’s witty dialogue nicely. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

James Bond #1 (Dynamite)– The first chapter of Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, and Eric Gapstur’s James Bond ongoing series is relatively Bond-lite, but provides an intriguing look into the world of art forgeries and thefts. After an explosive sex and violence filled cold open with a Will Eisner-esque title page, the comic has the feel of a slick procedural as claims investigator Brandy Keys tries to figure out how a priceless Rothko was forged/stolen. Ayala and Lore assume readers already know Bond so they spend this issue building up Keys as a character and crafting a playground of fine art and ultraviolence. And this issue is a true thrill ride with a conclusion that definitely piqued my interest into seeing how Bond fits into this story. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Die #10 (Image)– The final issue of the “Split the Party” arc definitely lives up to the title as Ash and Izzy take over the fantasy realm of Angria, which was revealed as a creation of a young Charlotte Bronte, in a previous issue. Ash’s descent into evil and authoritarianism has been fun as she has progressed from wanting to exit the world of Die to wanting to play the game. Kieron Gillen falls into some RPG nerdery in this issue (As he has throughout the whole series to be honest), but Stephanie Hans’ art makes concepts like godbinding and dictators compelling and cool. However, some of her best moments happen in muted flashbacks to Dominic Ash finally seeing his wife become pregnant before cutting to Ash taking over Angria. The first arc of Die ended with the game-maker Sol imprisoned, and the party desperately wanting to go home to the real world. However, in the second arc, Gillen and Hans have replaced him with an equally compelling villain as the protagonists (and antagonists) immerse themselves in fantasy quests and realpolitik. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Men #3 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman indulges his weird side and turns in the most entertaining issue of the X-Men ongoing with artists Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. Basically, some 70 and 80-something female botanist and agrochemists called Hordeculture hack Krakoa in the Savage Land and totally put the mutants’ new utopia out of wack so Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Sebastian Shaw investigate and get their asses handed to them. This is a serious problem, but creates some amazing opportunities for comedy like Yu’s hilarious beat panel after one of the Hordeculture spit roasts Emma Frost’s fashion sense. Some of the writing here is straight out of an X-Men meme page (For better or worse), but Hickman and Yu do a good job of showing that there’s trouble in paradise, er, Krakoa. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #3 (Marvel)– Wow, Sebastian Shaw is the worst father ever. Gerry Duggan and Michele Bandini continue to put their proverbial “pieces” on the Hellfire Club board with Sebastian Shaw resurrecting his son Shinobi Shaw to serve as the Red King, and when that didn’t work out thanks to Kate Pryde in the last issue, the Black Bishop. Marauders #3 has the vibe of one of those early season episodes of Game of Thrones (When it was decent show.) where characters are plotting and doing morally questionable things to gain power. The theme of a utopia being undermined continues with Shaw as a throughline from X-Men to Marauders. It’s so cool to see the connections between the X-Books as they blossom into SF realpolitik thrillers instead of the usual superhero fare. Marauder #3’s only key blemish is its art, which has some slick character costume designs and landscapes for the Hellfire Bay, but falters in the emotional storytelling department probably due to the biweekly schedule. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #3 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To combine fantasy action (Jubilee’s son Shogo is a dragon in Otherworld.) with some sharp characterization as Betsy Braddock struggles with her new mantle of Captain Britain, Gambit basically misses Rogue like crazy, and Rictor rejects the call to Krakoa, but may end up an unwitting pawn in Apocalypse’s schemes. Erick Arciniega’s colors are the special sauce that make Otherworld look different from the human world or even Krakoa, and there is a tone of derring do, magic, and high drama in these scenes as Betsy fights Brian and sees nothing in his eyes. However, Excalibur isn’t a straightforward magical fantasy book with Howard and To crafting plenty of intrigue towards the beginning and end of the comic as well as in the diagrams leading to a final page that creates another obstacle for the team. Overall: 8.5 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 11/30

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

Girl On Film (BOOM!/Archaia)– Shade the Changing Girl and Female Furies writer Cecil Castellucci tells her winding journey to becoming an artist in Girl on Film with artists Vicky Leta, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagon, and Jon Berg. Castellucci’s passion for the art of filmmaking comes through, and the framing sequences with her scientist father expand upon the fragility of memory in creating a memoir while not undermining the events of the story. Girl on Film has great energy and honesty as Cecil navigates New York’s Performing Arts High School, the city’s art and film scene, and Montreal’s general art scene. There are some fun celebrity cameos, but Castellucci weaves them into the story so they don’t seem like namedropping or grandstanding. In fact, Girl On Film comes across as a profoundly humble work with Cecil coming to terms with her lack of technical filmmaking skills and finding new ways to tell stories whether that’s in various bands, young adult novels, and finally, comics. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Black Canary Ignite (DC/Zoom)– Black Canary Ignite is a middle grade friendly-friendly fusion of Dinah Lance’s superhero origin and her most recent rock star vigilante solo series from writer Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries) and artist Cara McGee (Dodge City). McGee’s art is adorable and expressive plus she dials up the intensity any time Dinah uses her abilities especially early on when she has no idea what she’s doing. In the early going, Cabot’s writing betrays her inexperience in the comics medium as she describes what is shown in McGee’s art, but she adds some cute wrinkles like Wildcat being Dinah’s P.E. coach and some sassy one-liners. She and McGee are at their finest when focusing on the mother/daughter dynamic between Black Canaries, past and present. Dinah’s first villain is a little weak, but Black Canary Ignite’s slice of life elements are enjoyable. This is one worth skipping for adults and older teens, but is worth a shot for tween and younger readers as well as Black Canary fans hoping for solo content. Overall: 6 Verdict: Pass (I checked out a copy from my local public library.)

Conan 2099 #1 (Marvel)– Gerry Duggan and Roge Antonio turn in the equivalent of a classic Conan with some technological accoutrements (Like flying cars) in Conan 2099 #1. All the tropes are here: Conan struggling with being a good ruler, a magical antagonist, and him turning to wandering once again with the help of a Nova corps helmet. The story doesn’t really place Conan in the context of the 2099 world beyond his kingdom having climate change issues, but Duggan and Antonio nail the fighting, hiding, and heroism parts. The ending is especially heroic and worth reading the whole comic for. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Killadelphia #1 (Image) Killadelphia #1 has some cool ideas like connecting vampirism to systemic injustices and John Adams bringing yellow fever back from the Carribbean, but the whole comic feels disjointed. Writer Rodney Barnes jumps from the current detective Sangster to his father and then some letters and tries to connect these two eras and create an atmosphere of tension and class inequity, but fails at making me connect with the characters or even establishing a decent mystery or hook. However, Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT’s visuals are outstanding and remind me of Kyle Baker almost painterly style on Truth: Red, White, and Blue. Alexander’s layout choices are like fragments of memory and work with Barnes’ storytelling style. Eventually, this might be coherent in trade paperback format, but it fails the first issue hook test. Overall: 5.5 Verdict: Pass

Shean

Punisher 2099 (Marvel)– I will keep this one sweet and short, a similar story to Frank Castle in that tragedy propels him to become a hero but add a dash of Black Mirror and you have this story which honestly feels already outdated and not compelling. Overall: 4.7 Recommendation: Borrow


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 11/16

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

Far Sector #1

Far Sector #1 (DC/Black Label)*- Hugo winning writer N.K. Jemisin and artist Jamal Campbell team up to tell a Green Lantern story about a utopia gone wrong that is bathed in both the speculative fiction and police procedural dramas. Jo Mullein is the Green Lantern representative to the furthest end of the universe, which is a world called the City Enduring. Ostensibly, the City Enduring is a perfect world, devoid of emotions that is built from the ruins of a genocide that hasn’t had a murder in 5 centuries and calls their cops “Peace Captains”. However, it’s mostly definitely not as Jemisin and Campbell expose the bullshit beneath its sleekly drawn surface. Jemisin definitely plays to her SF strengths in this comic using a serial murder plot to progress the narrative while adding oodles of world-building and a side of snarky humor. Campbell continues to have some of the cleanest visuals in comics with his distinct looks for the three types of inhabitants of City Enduring, but he can do grotesque too. Also, kudos to both N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell for coming up with one of the most creative uses of a Green Lantern ring for comedy purposes. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy.

Morbius #1

Morbius #1 (Marvel) – In the opening 8 or 9 pages, writer Vita Ayala and artists Marcelo Ferreira and Roberto Poggi establish that Morbius #1 isn’t a superhero comic, but a slasher story. Morbius’ philosophical musings about virtue, the greatest good, and curing his hunger and pain don’t pop up until midway in the issue as he stalks a warehouse taking out members of Melter’s crew, who are exploiting his neighborhood. Ayala writes him as a vampire with a conscience, but with the soul of a PhD and the appearance of monster in contrast with angsty pretty boy pop culture vampires like Louis and Angel. Ferreira, Poggi, and colorist Dono Sanchez-Almara’s work goes beyond Morbius’ appearance, and his skill at killing and bloodlust is evident through quick series of panels, lots of red, and veiny figure work although they don’t go full Joe Mad or Stephen Platt. Morbius #1 is a classic horror tale with pseudoscientific trappings of a monster wanting to become human, but outside forces not wanting to give him that chance. (And for good reason.) Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Shean

Punisher Soviet #1

Punisher Soviet #1 ( Marvel)– In this story, Frank Castle is a gun for hire, as he opens the book on a massacre he unleashes, he wonders who’s this new criminal force making a move. Soon his handler puts the dots together and finds out it is a crew he had been targeting last time he was in Russia. As he shakes down one of the goons, we find out just how brutal Frank really is. By issue’s end, he finds the crime boss, who knew eventually The Punisher would find him. Overall: 9 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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