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.
Wildstorm: Michael Cray #11 (DC/Wildstorm)** – This series has been an up-and-down ride, but with one issue to go, writer Bryan Hill and artist N. Steven Harris (with assists from Nelson Blake II) are ramping up toward what should at least be an interesting conclusion, as the Cthulhu-esque entity that’s been “sharing” protagonist Cray’s mind makes its presence fully felt. The finale will determine whether or not sticking with this one all the way through was a smart move, but for the time being it looks like it may just prove to be. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Cemetery Beach #1 (Image)** – The “Trees” team of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard re-unites for this sci-fi mystery thriller, and while I’m hesitant to get too wrapped up in this series given that their last one was essentially abandoned at the midway point, I have to admit that everything you want in a first issue is here : an inventive premise, strong characterization, crisp and dynamic art, plenty of action, and even some laughs. If they see this one through,who knows? This might just be something special. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
MCMLXXV #1 (Image)** – Blaxploitation meets kung-fu/ninja hijinks in this wildly fun debut from Joe Casey and Ian MacEwan, and while slowing down to think about what’s happening here reveals plenty of holes in the book’s internal logic, the good news is that the fluid, action-packed story — complete with some seriously great fight scenes — doesn’t give you a chance to even catch your breath, much less exercise your gray matter. A fantastic protagonist and an authentic mid-’70s New Tork “vibe” round out this impressive opening shot across the bow from two consistently-interesting creators. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
The Wicked + The Divine #39 (Image)** – I’d been really cool toward this arc in Kieran Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s long-running series, feeling that it marked the point at which style finally overtook substance in the proceedings, but the last two issues — particularly this one — represent a complete 180 as surprises and consequential events aplenty are thrown at us fast and furious. Suddenly, I can’t wait for the final chapter in this saga, and everything going on between the comic’s covers feels new, fresh, and important all over again. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Catwoman #3 (DC)– In Catwoman #3, Joelle Jones and guest flashback artist Fernando Blanco spend a little time on the backstory of the series’ villain, Raina Creel, who runs the town of Villa Hermosa. It’s tragic and filled with sex, lies, and power as Raina is a great counterpoint to Selina using her status as a “trophy wife” to run the town behind her husband’s back. The rest of the comic shows Selina pushing herself to the limit falling through broken glass onto a sports car and then still being able to prance on rooftops to make a mysterious appointment after a quick dip in the tub. Jones’ art continues to be the real draw of the series, and she can convey strength, weakness, or innocence (I think Selina’s host Carlos has a little crush on her.) through a glance, facial line, or body twitch. There’s something about Catwoman and crime thrillers that is just exciting, enjoyable, and a little tragic. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy
Cemetery Beach #1 (Image)– Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s new series Cemetery Beach is all action and no bullshit as a fast talking, should be faster running pathfinder and his badass assassin companion are on the run from a secret offworld colony’s goons and guards. Howard’s cartooning is splotchy and dynamic, and Ellis lets him cut loose with all kinds of shoot outs, explosions, and vehicular chases. There’s a bit of worldbuilding via witty banter at the beginning, but this is minimalist action storytelling at its most bombastic. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Mage: The Hero Denied #12 (Image)** – As the series progresses, I find myself zeroing in on just what it is that isn’t working for me, and it’s this: Kevin Matchstick doesn’t know what he wants to fight for. If what he really wanted was to have a quiet life as a family man, he’d completely ignore the Questing Beast and say that a King doesn’t Quest. If what he really wanted was to save his family, he would be tracking down his wife and kid with unstoppable relentlessness, marshalling every iota of power at his command. If he really was a King, he would be moving heaven and earth to save his kingdom and his family and his people. I would hope, after the end of this issue, that the powers that be will smack Matt Wagner upside the head with a copy of The Hero With A Thousand Faces and get this book on some kind of track. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip
Proxima Centauri #3 (Image)** – After the last page of last issue, I was ready for Farel Dalrymple to go deep. Alas, I was sorely disappointed with the ease with which Parasol and Sherwood dispatched of the little blue bots. And just when I thought that the kind of slacker vibe of this series was going to take a turn into something more interesting and powerful. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Skip
The Seeds #2 (Dark Horse/Berger Books)** – In this installment of Ann Nocenti & David Aja’s near-future SF noir, intrepid reporter Astra gets over the Wall and into the Zone to where tech isn’t allowed… except for a price. The revelation of this chapter is handled so casually that it actually enhances the creepiness of this book. Every page is like a trigger warning for people suffering from environmental collapse anxiety, and there is a panel on page 27 that almost made me burst into tears on the subway. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Hey Kids| Comics! #2 (Image)** – Howard Chaykin continues to frustrate me with his BD à clef about the American comics industry. On the one hand, as someone who, as a young writer, couldn’t square my love for comics and my disgust for the comics business, I appreciate Chaykin showing how casually and cruelly people got utterly fucked over. On the other hand, Chaykin’s scattershot approach doesn’t get us deep enough into any one character to really make these fuckings-over the kicks to the balls I want them to be. It may be that this betrays my desire for a certain kind of justice, whereas Chaykin may just be able to square (or at least tolerate) his desire for justice with his intimate knowledge of how the businesses of both comics and movies work. Either way, if Chaykin would straight up put out a book about Gil Kane, that’d be swell with me. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Leage of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest #2 (Top Shelf/Knockabout)** – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill are not playing around. Jimmy B., the new M, hums a certain famous theme song and is everything horrible about the British Empire; Hugo Danner gets headbutted into oblivion on page 3; we get a double-page spread of Nemo’s Lincoln Island; and at the end, another casual holocaust. We are heading for a confrontation between the white supremacy of Bond and the diverse coalition of Nemo, and I can’t help but worry that the former are in the driver’s seat. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).