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.
Eternity Girl #3 (DC/Young Animal)** – Magdalene Visaggio seems to get a bit lost in the intricacies of her own plot with this issue, which is a bummer because the first two chapters were so good, but Sonny Liew gets a chance to draw all kinds of cool Kirby-tech, so that (mostly) makes up for the story’s big step back. I’m confident things are still headed in the right direction overall given the fact that the cliffhanger here is solid, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see — and make no mistake, this series is worth a look for the art alone, even if it turns out that the narrative doesn’t recover. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Analog #2 (Image)** – Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan’s look at a post-internet world takes a turn for the more comical with this second issue, and results are pretty good as we get to see our protagonist’s family and romantic life fleshed out considerably. The art seems to be getting better and better with each page, as well, which is really saying something given that it was pretty damn strong to start with. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Port Of Earth #5 (Image/Top Cow)** – It’s nice to see Zack Kaplan and Andrea Mutti’s sci-fi take on nativism and xenophobia back for a second arc, but the TV interview vignettes are becoming lazy info-dump crutches, and frankly distract from a plenty compelling main narrative thrust. Mutti’s grim and gritty art is stunning as ever, but it’s time for Kaplan to up his game and match his collaborator’s efforts. Overall : 7. Recommendation : Readhere are still seven issues to go, but I’m missing Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s pulp sci-fi masterpiece already. This is more a self-contained story focusing on the doomed McKay marriage, but ties into the overall narrative quite nicely and the art, as always, is spectacular. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Hungry Ghosts #4 (Dark Horse/Berger Books)**– Joel Rose and Anthony Bourdain’s lackluster horror anthology limps to a conclusion with two insipid tales that are considerably elevated by absolutely stellar artwork, which has been the pattern here from the start. Kudos, then, to Irene Koh and Francesco Francavilla for making a gorgeous silk purse out of a couple of sow’s ear stories. Overall: 6. Recommendation: Read
Venom #1 (Marvel)– This was my first time reading a Venom comic, and it was pretty good work from Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, J.P. Mayer, and Frank Martin. Cates relies a little too heavily on dueling narrative captions, but leaning on the horror elements in both a Lovecraftian and a very real horrors of war way is a smart move. There is a jagged, heavy metal edge to Stegman’s art, and Mayer brings out the little details like the beads of sweat on Eddie Brock’s face when he loses control of his symbiote while Martin enjoys spraying black everywhere. It’s very early McFarlane in the best way, and I’m intrigued by Cates and Stegman’s millennia spanning cosmic symbiote melodrama. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Justice League: No Justice #1 (DC)– With lots of superheroes (and supervillains), big tapestry like spreads from Francis Manapul, and big explosions, Justice League: No Justice #1 is a summer popcorn movie of a comic book. The book starts traditionally enough w/ the JL, Suicide Squad, Titans, and Teen Titans fighting Brainiac, but then Scott Snyder, Josh Williamson, and James Tynion make the villain an unlikely ally and point man for the new Justice League strategy. No Justice #1 tries to be clever, but ends up turning into Captain Planet/Attack on Titan crossover fanfic. The team lineups are pretty fun though with a particularly tense encounter between Lex Luthor and Martian Manhunter being the highlight of the book. Overall: 7.2 Verdict: Read
Eternity Girl #3 (DC/Young Animal)– Mags Visaggio, Sonny Liew, and Chris Chuckry make Eternity Girl #3 very cosmic and very Jean-Paul Sartre. The more abstract and occasionally metafictional concepts of being and nothingness and death and rebirth are grounded in Caroline just wanting to die by any means possible. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic book where the protagonist represents despair, and the antagonist represents hope. Kudos to Visaggio and Liew for bringing deep, sad, and self-destructive emotions we sometimes feel to the forefront. Liew’s visuals span the gap between the cosmic and the mundane, and it is a real treat to have such a talented cartoonist on a “mainstream” comic. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy
Nuclear Winter vol 1 (Boom! Box) – I actually just read this in its original French (as Hiver Nucléaire), so I was happy to see Cab’s delightful and charming post-apocalyptic Montreal in English. It’s been perpetual winter ever since the nuclear accident (who builds a nuclear reactor in Montreal anyway?, as one character points out), and Flavie is a ski-doo courier who would rather stay home knitting. When she takes a shift for a friend and has to get bagels for a temperamental hipster chick, things get a bit crazy. Cab’s cartooning style is generous, warm, and fun, and so is Flavie. I love the way she just accepts all of the mutants at the diner, is friendly to the arctic raccoons, and loyal to friends old and new. Cab depicts my Plateau Mont-Royal and Mile End neighbourhoods with similar good humour and style. The translation (for which I can’t seem to find any credit!) is excellent, with one minor quibble: it’s just Mile End, no “the”. Nuclear Winter is an excellent addition to the Boom! Box stable. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy.
Come Into Me #2 (Black Mask)** – The Cronenbergian creepiness continues thanks to writers Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler and artist Piotr Kowalski. As Sebastan tries to maintain control with the mind of a dead woman inside him, he also has to come to grips with the advantages of having a second personality who is more articulate, empathetic, and likeable than himself to interact with VC’s and family. Meanwhile (did I mention Cronenbergian?) his now-shared flesh is morphing and changing into something new. Chilling and thought-provoking, Come Into Me is one of my favourite series right now. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Sex Criminals #24 (Image)** – I am thinking about something Fraction wrote in the latest newsletter: “Comics mimic the way we remember, the way we dream, not as fluid constants but in pulsing recreations of sound and space and time, interrupted by gaps where the memory stops.” The more Fraction & Zdarsky’s comic actually does this, the better I like it. Anyone can write banking conspiracies and dick jokes, but only SexCrims can really dig into the messiness of how we work out our dreams and impulses with the people around us. I must admit, I did really enjoy the roller disco setting (and the joke of the name “Roll! You Pretty Things”). Overall: 8ish Recommendation: Buy
Stray Bullets #34 (Image)** – “Now everybody’s killin’ everybody”. You said it, Roses. Annie and Vic hit Baltimore and have to look for Rose’s son Joey before killer Spanish Scott finds out. And just how should junkie Vic find this kid? “Use your druggie instincts.” As usual, Annie is an absolute fountain of the worst possible advice. Advice that, in true David Lapham style, leads to blackly hilarious mayhem. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Venom #1 (Marvel) In a case of following a creator (or two) rather than a character, I took the plunge on this comic solely because of Don Cates and Ryan Stegman writing and drawing it; I wasn’t disappointed. Of course the last time I had read a Venom comic, some dude named Lee Pace had the symbiote – obviously not the case anymore as Eddie Brock has the giant tongue again (which I’m sure has nothing to do with a movie later this year). Cates takes the interesting route of exploring the symbiote’s history and emotional story rather than Eddie Brock’s, and it lends a unique lens over how the two coexist in their anti-hero life. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know Venom (but really, who doesn’t know a little about him?); this is a good comic and it will pull you back for more. Overall: 8 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 (**).