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.
Amazing Spider-Man #21 (Marvel) I enjoyed this issue more than I expected, almost entirely because of the fact it focused primarily on Kaine – a character I’ve long been fascinated with. Other than that, though, it doesn’t really do much other than provide a bit of background on Kaine and Spider-Gwen’s actions during the second issue of Clone Conspiracy as the issue acts as a prequel to that issue. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read.
Batman #11 (DC) I’ve read worse issues of Batman, but not for a long, long time. The only saving grace is the art, which 90% of the time is great. The other 10%, a double page spread featuring Catwoman and the Ventriloquist, is a confusing mess of jumbled pipes and lettering that is less than ideal. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass.
Black Hammer #5 (Dark Horse) You’re either going to love or hate the direction of this issue (well, that may be a bit strong; you’ll either love it or you won’t, let’s say). I enjoyed it quite a bit, as we finally got to see an entirely different side to Colonel Weird, as Jeff Lemire asks the question of whether the character is as crazy as we’ve been led to believe. An intriguing character study that doesn’t really move the plot along too much, but is worth picking up if you’re into the series. Overall: 8 Recommedation: Read
Kill Or Be Killed #3 & #4 (Image) Somehow I missed the third issue untill I saw the fourth was out this week (or forgot I read it and reread it this morning, which basically amounts to the same thing, right?). It didn’t take me long to remember why this is such a gripping comic – the Deal With A Devil angle is well done, and while said deal hangs over Dylan, he – and by extension we – is/are never quite sure whether it actually happened, or if he’s gradually losing his mind. You’re not going to find a better comic from Image right now. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Old Man Logan #13 (Marvel) A decent conclusion to a solid story. This would be a read for the story alone, but the artwork is absolutely phenomenal and worth buying the comic for on it’s own. The layouts are intricate, simple and so gut punchingly effective that your jaw will hit the proverbial floor – that’s not hyperbole… I actually turned a page and just tared for a full minute before rereading the page before. This is probably one of the best series that Jeff Lemire is writing right now, and that’s largely down to Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Mialo’s artwork. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Superman #11 (DC) On the surface, a story about Damian Wayne and Jon Kent learning to work together, but there’s a subplot here of Batman and Superman learning, through their sons, to trust each other again. This is a great conclusion to a two issue arc that has one of the best interpretations of the Son Of Batman that we’ve seen in awhile. Overall: 8.5 Recommendtion: Buy
Thanos #1 (Marvel) A well written, beautifully illustrated opening chapter. Although I have no idea where this is going, I’m curious to see where Jeff Lemire takes the Mad Titan. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read
Vampire Hunter D: Message From Mars #1 (Stranger Comics) This is far from my normal style of comic (Mars colonization and vampires), but I enjoyed it quite a bit nonetheless. I have no idea how this stacks up if you’re a Vampire Hunter D fan, but as a person ignorant of his 33 year history, I thought this was a great read. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Mother Panic #1 (DC/Young Animal): The last thing i was looking for was another comic about a millionaire turned vigilante– especially not in Gotham. But Jody Houser is too smart a writer to leave it at that so I just had to take a look at her new Young Animal series.
Look at that costume– real armor! Creating artist Tommy Lee Edwards designed the Mother Panic outfit to look more like a decorative architectural element on the exterior of one of Gotham’s famous Art Deco skyscrapers than a standard female hero in a cape book. It is refreshing to see a female lead who isn’t portrayed as a sex object by any measure– unless your sexual orientation is Chrysler Building and you like getting your head bashed in. And a terrifying tiny white skyscraper fighting really twisted art crimes makes sense thematically. This story is very Gotham.
We don’t learn much in issue 1 but with highly kinetic gothy art and an intriguingly menacing tone I am definitely reading issue 2. I keep getting The Invisibles vibes too and that is usually a good sign. Suggested soundtrack Iggy Pop’s The Idiot. Recommendation: Read
Thanos #1 (Marvel) – Thanos is a badass. That’s an understatement. In many ways, he’s similar to Darth Vader. He’s a cool villain that you love to hate. He’s very confident. And his power, even without the Infinity Gauntlet, is off the charts. Not only do we get Thanos, but we get a cast of characters that have all been big parts of past stories with the Mad Titan. I enjoyed this book, and it gave me what I was looking for in this series. Thanos destroys a ton of people (and a tank), and we see a group of others band against him, and then we get a big twist at the end. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Black Hammer #5 (Dark Horse) – I am so glad to finally get a Colonel Weird issue. Yes all of our characters are weird in this series, but some how the Colonel makes them look normal. It was nice to see the Para-Zone that he mentions in his ramblings and get a glimpse at how it works. Like most of our cast, he is a tragic character that you really feel for, and you can see he wants to do the right thing. It will be interesting to see how the Para-Zone plays into our story and them being stuck on the farm going forward. This book just keeps getting better, and it is one of the most consistent comics coming out every month. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Briggs Land #4 (Dark Horse) – This issue focuses on Caleb Briggs, Grace’s oldest son and a white supremacist. We see him bully a local business owner into selling, and learn a lot more about his character. Long story short, Caleb is scary. We also get more of Grace, and what she is doing to move quicker than her husband who is trying to stop her from inside prison. This series moves slow, but that isn’t bad. You can see why AMC optioned it, as it would work perfect for their network, and the Walking Dead crowd who are used to a slow burn that builds to chaos. That is most certainly where I expect this story to go after this issue, and I can’t wait. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Moonshine #2 (Image) – After the first set up issue, we get to the meat of the story. But then that meat gets ripped apart by a werewolf. We continue the story of a fish out of water city slicker that needs to get the best moonshine around from a family living in the sticks to his mobster boss in New York City. After things go south in the south, our main character is left in a very interesting place. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Black Hammer #5 (Dark Horse)** – In this issue, we go Weird Science for the story of Colonel Weird and his journey through the Para-Zone. As has been the case lately in this series, the plot has been a very slight pretext for what Jeff Lemire is really good at, character studies. Col. Weird being haunted by himself is very nicely done, and Dean Ormiston does a pretty good job at capturing a certain Al Williamson vibe in the science fiction part of the story (though not going nearly far enough into the Ditkosphere for the Para-Zone for my taste). The series doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere, and if that were truly the intention, then I’d be more okay with it. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Read
Lady Killer #3 (Dark Horse)** – Joëlle Jones knocks this issue out of the park. She has always been great with style and sheer drawing, but this time she lets loose with panel structure and page layouts in a really stunning way. Also: the back story of Mother Schuller and her relationship with “Uncle” Irving is a knockout. Props to colorist Michelle Madsen. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Cinema Purgatorio #7 (Avatar)** – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill take on the Westerns in our first reel – or rather, how the idea of the Western was invented and re-created, from sordid reality to tall tale to legend to myth, as we re-enter the OK Corral over and over again. Alan Moore can do more with 8 pages than most writers can do in 80. On to Code: Pru, Garth Ennis & Raulo Caceres’s series that’s really grown on me. Pru is called in to check out a hooker at a murder scene, and of course finds out that the situation is far more monstrous than she’d thought. Ennis’ juxtaposition of the banal and the profane is, as usual, top-notch, and Caceres’ detailed b&w art is perfect for the material. I’m not actually paying much attention to any of the other three features, but it must be said that this chapter of “The Vast” is a reprint of last issue’s chapter. Overall: Cinema – 9 Pru – 9 Recommendation: read but you can also wait for both of these series to be collected, and probably not worth your $6.99
Kill or Be Killed #4 (Image) – “My imagination was being affected by all the shitty old movies I was watching.” Dylan starts to work out exactly how he’s going to take on his demonic vigilante mission, and how to live a double life. Meanwhile also trying to figure out his messed-up relationship with his roommate’s girlfriend. Meanwhile also trying to play white knight. Of course, none of these things go right. Brubaker, Phillips and Breitweiser at their best. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Black Panther #8 (Marvel)** – It may be too little, too late, but Ta-Nehisi Coates is finally starting to show signs of getting a hang on this whole comic-book writing thing — at least when it comes to relaying tales of Wakandan folklore. He still writes T’Challa as a dour, joyless, fairly lifelesss figure literally devoid of personality, but the story feels like it’s creeping back on track after some pointless guest-star-laden issues, and maybe even progressing (or at least lurching) toward a conclusion of some sort. Chris Sprouse does a pretty decent job with the art, but he’s no Stelfreeze, who’s at least on hand to deliver an absolutely amazing cover. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Might as well read it if you’ve come this far, otherwise pass.
The Hunt #4 (Image/Shadowline)** – Nobody seems to be paying much attention to Colin Lorimer’s genuinely creepy Irish horror opus, but that’s their loss. This issue delivers answers to many of the mysteries underpinning the various “big questions” that have been lurking both under the surface and in the foreground of this series, and delivers a genuinely creepy guy-punch of a cliffhanger that borders on the truly unforgettable. Amazingly well-written and even more amazingly well-drawn, this is a truly killer slice of folklore-inspired terror. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy.
Briggs Land #4 (Dark Horse )** – Brian Wood and Mack Chater begin the second arc of their Third-Reich-Meets-“The-Waltons” dysfunctional family drama with another issue more than ready to be adapted for the already-forthcoming TV series.Some bad shit goes down in the mega-hardware-store parking lot that could have serious repercussions for everyone, while Grace continues to play a long game only she seems to understand. Definitely fascinating stuff, even if the political implications of the series (haven’t so-called “White Nationalists” been effectively normalized enough in the age of Trump?) remain dubious at best. Overall: 6.5. Recommendation: Read
Infamous Iron Man #2 (Marvel)** – The point of this series continues to elude me, as do Victor Von Doom’s opaque-at-best reasons for putting on the suit in the first place. Another pointless fight with a second-tier villain gives way to a Ben Grim-centric cliffhanger, so I guess Brian Michael Bendis is looking at this as a way of sneaking the FF back into the Marvel Universe through the back door. We’ll see what happens — or rather, you will, since I’m out. If Alex Maleev’s art were up to his usual standard I might give it another issue or two, but as it’s not, I can’t justify shelling out for bucks a month for a poorly-executed gimmick book. Overall: 3.5. Recommendation: Pass
Uncanny Xmen Annual #1 (Marvel): Within this annual, lies two different stories , one in which we see echoes of the Phoenix Saga and the other , a spy op with an unlikely operator. In the first story, we meet a mutant named Elixir, whose power derives from the Dark Riders, Magneto enlists a few other mutants to find him . In this second story, Domino is on an operation to take out Hydra. Overall, as far as annuals go, a strong book. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy
She-Wolf TPB (Image): when a young teenager named Gabby gets scratched by a wolf, she starts encountering nightmares. Soon they become all too real, and she finds out , that it was no ordinary wolf.What follows is a lot of teen angst with an unhealthy amount of psychedelic visuals. Truthfully, by the end of this volume, I was struggling to finish, as the alchemy between storytelling and sequential art, never seemed to coalesce. Overall: 6 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 (**).