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Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/15

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.


Ryan C

CemetaryBeach_01-1Wildstorm: 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

Logan

catwoman_3_5b993db5572f27.31025934.jpgCatwoman #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

Patrick

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 MageTheHeroDenied_12-1what 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/8

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

cover 1.jpgCover #1 (DC/Jinxworld) – With authentic, yet understated dialogue, gorgeous visuals that flow from water color to line work with a side dish of collage, and a fantastic spy mystery hook, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack turn in their first creator owned hit for DC Comics. The protagonist Blake Field is obviously a David Mack stand-in, and the story draws from his experiences as a comics creators beginning with the press of con life until a mysterious woman named Julia drops in on his life. Mack uses a different art style depending on her role in the story that keeps the story moving, and in a metafictional touch, we get to see the gorgeous samurai comic that Blake is working on. Fortune and Glory is one of Brian Michael Bendis’ most underrated comics, and it’s nice to see him and one of his finest collaborators dip into that pool again with a pinch of international intrigue to get you to pick up issue 2. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Batman #54 (DC) – With the help of Nightwing, Batman finally almost has time to emotionally deal with being left at the altar by Selina in this emotional and sometimes kookily fun character study by Tom King and Matt Wagner. Wagner’s old school art style works well with the flashbacks to Dick’s first days in Wayne Manor as he comes to terms with the death of his parents and thinks that he’s just another shiny toy to Batman/Bruce and not an adopted son. In a colorful way, King and Wagner show that Batman would much rather punch inconsequential villains like Crazy Quilt (Who can’t sew) and Condiment King than have a heart to heart conversation or lunch. However, Dick understands Bruce’s competitive side and finally gets him to break “brood mode” for a split second panel that shows the importance of his levity and optimistic outlook in spite of great tragedy to the Bat-family. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

 Bully Wars #1 (Image)– With an over the top art style and heavy helping of low brow humor, Skottie Young and Aaron Conley usher Edith, Edward, and Spencer into their first day at Rottenville High. Conley has a fun MAD magazine meets Garbage Pail Kids style of art and goes for the gross out gag or face every time showing a nice gift for caricature. There are some truly funny moments in this book like when the middle school bully Rufus gets his butt handed to him by the high school bully Hock in a scene similar to the climax of Jurassic Park. But the book doesn’t really have anything going for it beyond Conley’s art and goes for cliched prank war jokes instead of more character driven ones.I got a real Dav Pilkey (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Man) vibe so this might be worth handing to your 10 year old sibling/relative/kid… Overall: 5.5 Verdict: Pass

Immortal Hulk #5 (Marvel)– In Immortal Hulk #5, Al Ewing and Joe Bennett finally reveal the monster behind the monster that even Hulk fears. But, first, there’s a giant, uncontrolled throwdown between Hulk and Sasquath, who is definitely not being driven by Walter Langkowski. Bennett and inker Ruy Jose’s fight choreography is ponderous and ungraceful as these two monsters don’t care for human life. However, the Hulk comes across in a sympathetic life for the first time in the serious and uses his abilities in a uniquely positive way. Ewing and Bennett have settled down to tell an American kaiju story about a monster with uncontrollable powers that protects humans from other monsters and causes great direction in his wake. Arguably, the monster boils down to daddy issues, but Bennett sells the story with his EC-esque style art. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Kim Reaper: Monster Island #1 (Oni) – The cutest, raddest queer Goth romance series returns with a twist. Kim, the Grim Reaper in training’s girlfriend Becka has gotten super into watching vampire dramas with her roommate Tyler and really wants to go to an actual vampire island when she finds out that they exist. Sarah Graley’s art style continues to be adorable and twisted, especially when the vampires go berserk. I love Graley’s writing of relationship dynamics as Becka desperately tries to get Kim and Tyler to like each other, but it doesn’t really work. Spookiness and slice of life is such a fun combo, and I’m so glad this sadly underrated title is back from Oni. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Ryan C

BM_Cv54Batman #54 (DC) ** Tom King’s current Bat-run probably doesn’t deserve Matt Wagner, but since they got him for this fill-in issue, it has to be said that at least they make full use of his skills. Yeah, this is a fairly heavy-handed little “then-and-now” comparison of the Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson relationship, but it hits all the right emotional notes and the art, as you’d expect, elevates what would otherwise be an average issue to something fairly special. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

The Dreaming #1 (DC/Vertigo) **- I dunno. There’s nothing wrong with Simon Spurrier’s script for this debut issue, and Bliquis Evely’s art is actually quite nice, but the parameters for what this series is going to be focusing on were already established in “The Sandman Universe” #1, and it’s not like this comic, perfectly competent as it is, really expands on what we already knew in any appreciable way. Worth a look, but it’s not necessarily going to leave you feeling compelled to stick with the title. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Cover #1 (DC/Jinxworld)** – The idea of a superstar comic artist being recruited by the CIA may seem like a bit too much “fan service” — and it is — but what the hell, Brian Michael Bendis’ script for this issue grabs you right away with its premise, the characterization is strong, and all in all it’s just plain fun to read. As for David Mack’s art, it’s a stunning as always, with pitch-perfect colors that accentuate every panel on every page. A genuinely solid debut. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

United States Vs. Murder Inc. #1 (DC/Jinxworld)** – On the other end of the spectrum, the opening salvo of this sequel to a series that really didn’t deserve one is truly lackluster stuff, little more than another tired take on the already-tired “kid assassin” trope. Michael Avon Oeming’s art is quite good, of course, and the dark color scheme really works, but the script feels like Bendis purely going through the motions — which, I suspect, is exactly what he’s doing. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Shean

Asgardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel)– In what feels like the Dirty Dozen but in Thor’s world, we get a rip Roaring adventure from many sidelined characters in the Marvel Universe Overall including Thor’s half sister,Angela.As we get introduced to new character, and an archeologist who may hold the key to finding out exactly what Nebula is looking for. They must also figure out why Nebula is trying to start another Ragnarok. By issue’s end, the team is ready to defeat anyone looking to harm their people.
Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

BullyWars_01-1Come Into Me #3 (Black Mask) ** – Becky and Sebastien struggle for control of the flesh, calling into question who is the host and who is the visitor. Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler continue their creepy Cronenbergian story, interweaving the interior and the exterior as whatever this new creature is lurches and shambles through its transformation, with both Becky and Sebastian alternately driving the story, sharing memories as each looks to offload the other into whatever body is convenient. One of which is Becky’s corpse. Piotr Kowalski well depicts both the “normal” world outside and the glitchy, nightmarish world inside, no easy feat. Another excellent issue. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Bully Wars #1 (Image) **- The new series from Skottie Young, as writer only, and Aaron Conley on art. Ernie, Edith, and Spencer are off to their first day of high school, still being picked on by Rufus, who’s been their bully since kindergarten. But now Rufus has to face the even bigger, badder bullies of high school. Aaron Conley’s art has a fun vibe of over-the-top grossness with lots and lots of gags. But Skottie Young’s story has a huge central problem: Rufus, the bully who’s now in over his head, should be the main character, and he isn’t. He’s the one who has to win the Bully Wars, but it’s geeky Ernie who is our hero, and who utterly inexplicably decides to help Rufus out. It’s all a bit lazy where it could have been a nice reversal of the usual tropes. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip

Stray Bullets #38 (Image/El Capitàn) **- As much as I’m a fan of the series, the one thing that bugs me is when David Lapham goes into Amy Racecar/Lil’ B mode. After last issue’s car crash, Beth struggles to get back into the real world – you know, one of those “trying-to-wake-up-from-a-coma” issues that people pull on you every now and again. One of Lapham’s rare missteps, an issue that should have started on the last page. Overall: 6 Recommandation: Skip



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 9/1

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.


Ashley

Euthanauts-2-Cover-600x923Euthanauts #2 (IDW/Black Crown) – This book… this book. The second issue picks up where the first issue left off as we begin to see what Mercy left behind. We get to know some of the characters briefly introduced in the last issue such as Circe, Guillame, and Indi. Indi is especially fascinating in his introduction because of his involvement in the world of the Euthanauts, but also his hesitation. I’m curious to see where that goes as the series goes on. Nick Robles’ art is beautiful as usual and is given extra flair by Eva de la Cruz on colors as she injects new color into Thalia’s strange new world. While the scary things out in death space abound, I think what resonates with me the most in this issue is how Tini Howard writes relationships and touches on what it means to be left behind on the mortal plane. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Edge of Spider-Geddon #2 (Marvel) – Welp, this is a depressing one. The sequel to Edge of Spider-Verse #5, we see Peni Parker back to her usual life as SP//dr. However, she is approached at school by a new girl named Addy Brock who knows her identity, and… well… it goes off the rails in terms of teen/superhero angst from there. The story is by Gerard Way with the script by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson. The team is very good at writing Peni as the conflicted 14 year old she is, but there’s a punchiness/lyricism to Way’s writing that seems to be missing here in the follow up. Nadler and Thompson do make up for that in complete gutpunching sadness by the end though that makes me want to see more of where Peni goes from here. Of course, Rafael Albuquerque’s art is fantastic as usual. What it misses in being 90s anime, it makes up for in complete horror with Ven#m. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Runaways #12 (Marvel)– Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson turn in a classic issue by having a laser focus on the character pairings of Nico and Karolina and Victor and Gert. They expertly weave together continuity from Runaways Vol 1 and Vision with romance and real emotion. Anka is both the master of fashion and a slow burn conversation, and Wilson’s palette is straight up beautiful. Runaways #12 is a master class is character relationships with a tasty side dish of romantic pairing off. Overall: 10 Verdict: Buy

rick and morty dndRick and Morty vs. Dungeon and Dragons #1 (IDW/Oni)- Jim Zub, Patrick Rothfuss, and Troy Little’s crossover comic is a tale of gatekeeping, puns, and thirst about podcasters. Morty wants to learn DnD so he can impress a worker at his local comic book store, who invited him to a game so, of course, he turns to his grandpa Rick to give him some knowledge. A game with a bunch of Gary Gygax contemporaries ensues, but then the real crossover starts. Like the show itself, Zub and Rothfuss aptly balance slice of life/school drama with fantasy realms, VR, and general craziness. Little’s art is bright and cartoony like the show, but also a little gross like Rick’s constant alcoholism induced belches. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Lex Luthor/Porky Pig Special (DC)– Mark Russell and Brad Walker take aim at cryptocurrency, big pharma, Twitter, and the billionaires that use them in the deliciously satirical and wise Lex Luthor/Porky Pig Special. After his PorkyBux goes under, Porkytakes a job with Lex Luthor to help run a social media network whose first audience is people who got kicked off other social media platforms. (This is probably the first time incel has been used in a DC comic.) Walker’s art is wrinkly and jowly with all the Looney Tunes charm sapped away even though there are some of funny faces. It’s really a tragic story of moral compromise and “soul renting”, and that some rich, evil men will always get away with it. Jim Fanning and John Loter’s backup story is cuter and more cartoonish story of good versus evil, and xenophobic Lex Luthor drawn in the Looney Tunes house style makes for a great villain. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

Ryan C

Brothers Dracul #5 (Aftershock)** – A ho-hum ending to a ho-hum series that started out reasonably promising, but quickly devolved into a tinkering-at-the-margins revision of the Dracula origin story. This issue isn’t helped by the fact that the normally-striking art of Mirko Colak is, uncharacteristically, as dull and workmanlike as Cullen Bunn’s script. Decidedly uninspired stuff. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass

bone parish 2Bone Parish #2 (Boom! Studios)** – We’ve got “Bad Bunn” and “Good Bunn” this week, and this is the good one. Two issues in, this is shaping up to be a damn good little horror mini-series, and the insertion of a third competing gang in the trade revolving around the remains-of-the-dead drug known as “Ash” is upping the tension considerably. Striking, moody art from Jonas Scharf completes a very impressive package. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

House Amok #1 (IDW/Black Crown)** – Christopher Sebela is doing all kinds of good stuff these days — see “Shanghai Red” and “Crowded” — but if this first issue is any indication, this five-parter may be the best of his current projects. Twin girls share an elaborate fantasy world that the rest of the family weaves into an elaborate QAnon-on-bad-acid-style conspiracy theory and uses as a crutch to justify heinous crimes — but now one of he twins is waking up and smelling the bullshit? I’m all in, and veteran artist Shawn McManus illustrates the proceedings in an entirely different style than the slick, “cartoony” look he built his career on — with amazing results. Do not miss this one under any circumstances. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

 Euthanauts #2 (IDW/Black Crown) – The first issue of this series was just oblique enough that it seemed to offer near-endless possibilities for a re-interpretation of death on a conceptual level, but now that the parameters of what writer Tini Howard has in mind are becoming more concrete, a good deal of the mystery and ingenuity are reined in considerably. A truly lackluster cliffhanger doesn’t help matters, either. Still, I’m not ready to throw in the towel justl yet and will give this one more installment to win me back; certainly the art by Nick Robles is pleasingly “cosmic” and “trippy,” and makes it worth hanging around to see whether or not this chapter was an unfortunate hiccup, or the start of a downward trend. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Elana

The Wicked + The Divine 38 (Image)** How is there anyone not reading this yet? The latest delves in to the anthropology of religion via an infamous historical figure who absolutely belongs in the series. Art and colors are gorgeous as ever. PS if you aren’t WickedAndTheDivine_38-1listening to Steven Attewell’s WicDiv podcast on SoundCloud. Check it out https://graphicpolicy.com/…/godscast-issue-2-gods-as…/ Overall: 10 Recommendation: Read 

Adventure Time: Beginning of the End #1-3 (Boom) With the beloved cartoon series wrapping up I decided it was time to dip my toe back into the Adventure Time comics. I’d always liked them but I hadn’t been able to keep up with how many were out. This 3-part miniseries is an excellent stand-alone for lovers of the show. The creature design is fabulous and the story highlights the character growth of so many favorites from the cast. Creative team (W) Ted Anderson (A) Marina Julia (CA) Victoria Maderna have absolutely got me excited to catch up with Adventure Time comics again. Overall: 9
PS if you love the show be sure to check out this week’s episode of Graphic Policy Radio where we’ll discuss the finale with Oliver Sava and Jameson Hampton

Patrick

Mage: The Hero Denied #11 (Image)** – The cover is the best thing about this issue: a powerful image of father and daughter, hand in hand through the woods, in silhouette: his icon a lightning bolt, hers a heart. It brought up my own feelings about fatherhood and what we pass on, what we hope our kids turn out to be, what they want to be, how we help them dream, the magic we weave, the magic we leave. None of this, unfortunately, has anything to do with the story inside, which continues from last issue without really revealing anything more about any of the characters or why they are in danger. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip

proximacentauri_03-1Proxima Centauri #3 (Image) – Farel Dalrymple is just so good at capturing a certain kind of adolescent boyhood. I think Sherwood is pretty rad, but of course he’s also trying too hard to impress a girl who isn’t really there. The adults around him, like Scientist, are so busy trying to give him advice that they don’t realize he doesn’t understand any of it. He treats his best friends like shit because they’re closest to him, and then has to find a way to apologize without losing face. He goes on adventures to stave off the boredom (Dalrymple’s take on the Spielbergian flying BMX’s is very welcome here), and then gets in real, serious trouble. The last page was a gut-punch and I’m terrified to see what happens next. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack #12 (Boom|) – The final issue of this romp is on firm par with the rest of it. John Carpenter & Anthony Burch’s script is full of twists and turns and sharp dialogue, and what more can I say about the awesomeness of Jorge Corona’s art? The action is comic, the comedy is active, and there’s even a happy ending for good measure. I’m going to miss this series showing up at my LCS. Overall: 8 Recommendaton: Buy

Shean

Venom: First Host#1 (Marvel)– Venom is one of those characters you either liked or hated, but as of recent, he has been gaining favor with the Marvel faithful. This new book proves why as we get an origin story but not about Eddie Brock but about the first person to Don the symbiote. As we get dropped in the middle of the Kree / Skrull war, where the species was more weaponized for good. Fast forward to present day, and venamEddie gets attacked by a Skrull which is where things gets really interesting. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

 Web Of Venom: Ve-Nam #1 (Marvel)– In this one off story, before Eddie Brock, we find out that SHIELD. Had knowledge of the Venom symbiotes before Brock got his. As the reader gets treated to a story that is a cross between The Predator, Leviathan and Punisher Platoon, as we get dropped into the Vietnam War and SHIELD has been busy trying to create a different supersoldier since Captain America was frozen. Eventually the program is no longer under their control, so they ask Wolverine to help find them. By book’s end, he finds a way to control them and Nick Fury recruits one of his first agents.  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 (**).

Five Days of Books

Everyone’s heard of Comic Con be it the San Diego or New York editions, for the non-comic geeks or book nerds there’s ReedPOP’s other pop culture offsprings Book Expo America and Book Con. These two events combine over five days, May 30th to June 3rd, in New York City to give readers a glimpse at upcoming books and a chance to meet their favorite authors.

To be clear the first three days, Book Expo America or BEA, are more for industry folks, giving them a chance to chat and politik, like I did, look for upcoming book reviews as soon as I get a chance to power through my book haul. The last two days, Book Con is for the fans to get a chance to grab autographs and also learn about books on the horizon, and snag some discounted books, I spent a bit more than I needed too.

What follows are my 3 highlights, which can different from someone else’s, so please be kind as I went to panels that sparked my interests.

Day 1 is more for signing in but I was able to squeeze in my first panel, The Graphic Novels You Can’t Miss of 2018, moderated by Publishers Weekly’s Calvin Reid gave me a heads up on a gang of graphic novels that cover several genres; a memoir by David Small (Home After Dark), a new take on food by Blue Delliquanti (Meal), sports stories by Ngozi Ukazu (Check, Please!) and more sci-fi from the mind of Tim Fielder (creator of Matty’s Rocket).

 

On day 2, for whatever reason, odds are my Mom and her politicking, I’ve been in rooms with Congress people and Mayors before, but never a living legend like Congressman John Lewis and I was one of the lucky ones to meet him, Afua Richardson, and Andrew Aydin as they signed samplers of their new book Run.

My last panel for the Con on day 5 was PBS’s The Great American Read with authors Glynnis MacNicol, Yahdon Israel, Veronica Roth, Daniel Jose Older, and host host Lindsay Ellis. This literary showdown pitted American classics against each other in preparation for the eight-part series that explores 100 best-loved American novels chosen from a national survey. I still can’t believe that Harry Potter was the winner of our panel event. To vote or for more information go to PBS.

Of course there were other great panels, filled with authors who were gracious with their wit and insight in a carnival like space with a few Cosplayers, but if you’re a book lover like me you need to find your way to one of these amazing gatherings of book nerds.

 

George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, lifelong comic geek and book lover. He is also the author of  DC Super Friends Joke Book from Penguin Random House. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on twitter at GCarmona3.

Underrated: A Once Crowded Sky

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: A Once Crowded Sky


It’s no secret how much I love comics. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

While most pretty much all of the comics I read can, to varying degrees, be placed on the superhero side of things, sometimes I’ll pick up the odd non-superhero comic.  I’m a big fan of the modern comic book re-imaginings of the early pulp heroes such as The Black Bat, The Spider, and The Phantom, although one could argue their closeness to the superhero genre renders the example moot, so let me be blunt; the point I am poorly trying to make is that I love superhero stories (of all varieties) in my comics more than any other type of story. 

Amazingly enough, I also read books.

If you look at my book shelf you’ll see a lot of fantasy, sword and sorcery, and historical fiction. There isn’t much set within the last one hundred years or so that I tend to pick up and read. I can think of, maybe, twenty books (or series) that I’ve read in the last fifteen years or so that are set within the last century, and only a handful of them were based around superheroes. One was an average Wolverine tale I read on Kindle, one is the hugely enjoyable Dresden Files series and another was A Once Crowded Sky by some dude named Tom King, which  is the subject of today’s column.

Although the story wasn’t quite mind blowing, it was remarkably well told, and had some incredible ideas within its pages. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is actually the way it is told. In a book with multiple point of view characters, each character’s point of view is laid out like a comic book; the book is set up like a text version of a collected comic book tie-in event across multiple issues. It’s a brilliant way to tie in the obvious influence and homage to the four colour medium, as is the occasional comic book page within the book itself.

A Once Crowded Sky is a relative anomaly for me; it’s a superhero story that I read, and enjoyed, that wasn’t in a comic book. Now, my sample size of superhero books is obviously incredibly small compared with that of superhero comics, but the thing I must stress here is it isn’t that I’ve had no access to superhero books, it’s that I simply have no desire to read about superheroes in any other medium that isn’t a comic book, and I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s because up until A Once Crowded Sky every superhero book I’ve looked as has been hard to justify the price tag. I found A Once Crowded Sky for $3 on a table of reduced hardcover books at a chain book store – it’s easily worth four times that amount, but would I have looked at it for more than $3? Seeing as how it took me two days to decide to pick the book up even for about the price of a comic, well, then probably not. Maybe I don’t like superhero books because they lack the visual nature of comics, which probably does have something to do with it, but I’m more then happy reading the Dresden Files novels and graphic novels, but then the Dresden Files and superheroes occupy two different genres. Maybe, and most likely, it’s because there simply hasn’t been much buzz about any superhero books.

So what’s A Once Crowded Sky about, and why should you read it?

“The superheroes of Arcadia City fight a wonderful war and play a wonderful game, forever saving yet another day. However, after sacrificing both their powers and Ultimate, the greatest hero of them all, to defeat the latest apocalypse, these comic book characters are transformed from the marvelous into the mundane.

After too many battles won and too many friends lost, The Soldier of Freedom was fine letting all that glory go. But when a new threat blasts through his city, Soldier, as ever, accepts his duty and reenlists in this next war. Without his once amazing abilities, he’s forced to seek the help of the one man who walked away, the sole hero who refused to make the sacrifice–PenUltimate, the sidekick of Ultimate, who through his own rejection of the game has become the most powerful man in the world, the only one left who might still, once again, save the day.”

Tom King’s debut novel has some lofty ideas, and some great presentation ideas that more than out weigh the at times overly wordy moments as King at times loses himself in backstory and internal monologues. There are flashes of his later brilliance in this 2012 novel, and it’s fascinating to see how he’s grown as a writer since this book. Despite having some rather interesting names for his characters (no, that’s not food – that’s my tongue in my cheek), it’s not hard to identify where their inspiration came from. Soldier of Fortune and Captain America do bear more than a slight similarity, after all.

But by using his own versions of these characters we’re all so familiar with, King is able to tell the story he wants without worrying about the guiding hand of either of the big two publishers impacting his story.

What we’re left with at the end of the day is a solid, and very enjoyable superhero novel written by a man who would go on to write some utterly fantastic comics. This book isn’t on that level, but it’s still well worth checking out should you come across it.

Someday, hopefully soon, superhero books will have their own section in the book store and when they do, that’s where you’ll find me.

The Best Comics of 2017 – Pharaoh Miles’s List

2017 was one of those years where for most of us in America, it feels like we are living in a really screwed up version of DMZ. As the virtues of Marcus Welby, MD and Hawkeye from MASH, no longer seems too idealistic for us mere mortals but more a goal, because at the end of the day, most of us hope we are on the side of the angels. The only reprieve most people had was entertainment, and I am going to recap some items that should have been on everyone’s “ must get to” list for 2018 categorized into : comic books, books, documentaries, all which are comics related,( I will leave the movies and tv shows to compatriots on the site, as there are too many that I watch to recap, LOL, but please do watch Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, though it lasted only 2 seasons, both were thoroughly and weird and brilliant) some of these things most fans know about but others may have flew under the radar, and I am pretty sure I have left off a few items, but please charge it to my head and not my heart, either way, please read and make your own list!

COMICS

Mister Miracle: a hero from the bygone era of the New Gods, Tom King and Mitch Gerads has elevated this mostly unknown hero into the same conversation of all-time greats at DC.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters: This particular book form Fantagraphics, is a game changer, part memoir, part biography of a time, part murder mystery and a love letter to monster movies. Emil Ferris proves that she is one to watch, the sequel coming in 2018 is one to watch.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack has made this book with too few issues a must read when it does hit your pullbox.  The last issue got into the Witch War arc, something I feel the new tv show at Netflix will probably tap into.

Love and Rockets: the Hernandez Brothers are always in top form with this book, their run has proven them to be masters everything sequential art.

The Best We Could Do : Thi Bui tells her heartbreaking story of her family and their trek to America as well as her trials and tribulations of own motherhood.

California Dreamin’: Penelope Bagieu is one my favorite cartoonist right about now, and her story of Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas fame, doesn’t disappoint, entailing every detail of her journey, one that is sure to entertain.

4 Kids Walk Into A Bank: what sounds like a tagline more than compelling hard boiled book about a bank robbery, is probably what Mathew Rosenberg and Tyler Bass, what shooting for and this exactly what they have accomplished and more.

Pashmina: Nidhi Chanani tells a harrowing story of secrets surrounding love and loss affecting mothers and daughters and a magical item which transports them.

Is This Guy For Real: Box Brown, an established cartoonist, has a special way to make his sequential art in tune with emotion, and he does it so well with his subject, Andy Kaufman. I suggest people read this book and then go watch the excellent and eccentric documentary, Jim and Andy, on Netflix. (this is being released in 2018 with review copies out in 2017 – ed)

Punisher Platoon: with the popularity of the Punisher tv show on Netflix, it would look like be great timing for this book, but this book far exceeds the TV show in multitudes, as we get a peak into this Frank Castle who commanded a platoon in Vietnam, an exciting book that is part spy thriller and part character exploration.

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands: Tony Isabella and Clayton Henry, has made this hero contemporary, and his villain as well as relevant issues like Black Lives Matter, up to date as well, which is something the TV show premiering on 1/16, probably will be handling.

Black: Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith III has written a story which raises questions  about medical eugenics and racial genocide , a book which is very much on time.

Black Panther and The Crew: In one of the best books to come from the House of Ideas, this book brought new light to a cast of characters, that was at once dated, but became instantly pertinent, with its storyline of government payoffs, gerrymandering and policing, too bad they cancelled it.

In Shards Volume 1: a book which proves that indie comics is where the real talent lies, as every creator at this burgeoning comics house is on their way to prove that they will be the ones to watch in 2018.

Sons of Fate: Revolution: Jean=Paul Deshong masterfully ends his epic tale set in Japan in this supersized finale which will break the hearts of most readers but will more than satisfy every reader, one to check out if you are fan of great stories especially ones involving Samurai, Ronin and some ninjas.

Kindred: John Jennings and Damian Duffy adapt one of the masters (Octavia Butler) of science  fiction’s greatest works, and gives the world an equally engrossing work, which visualizes what most thought could not be virtually conscribed and does what good adaptations do, makes the reader want to read to the source material.

Imagine Only Wanting This:  A beautiful book about heartbreak and one’s own mortality told through relationships and modern ruins, both allegorical and true to life.

 

BOOKS

Neverwhere: This re-release of Neil Gaiman’s book, is illustrated by Chris Eidell, and is must for any fan of this Twilight Zone-ish book from the contemporary master of prose.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook: An interesting retelling of Steven Speilberg’s  classic film.

The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia: In an thorough book, that is no mere rehash, Steven Jay Rubin, delves deep into every episode, giving fans and novices alike, mostly unknown facts about the show.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View: Thirty different tales of some known and unknown characters and events within the Star Wars Universe, which will intrigue every Stars Wars fan, absolutely my favorite book about Star Wars in a while.

Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor: As a fan of  Bruce Campbell, who has watched every thing he has been in, including Burn Notice, it is always nice to read his entertaining thoughts on everything, and this book more than entertains.

A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic: As this is still is the holiday season, as of me writing this,  I wanted to give a nod one of my favorite Christmas movies, Die-Hard, which is adorably told by Doogie Horner.

The Refrigerator Monologues: An interesting “point of view” book which gives the reader the view of “usual bystander” or damsel in distress”, as the genesis of Gail Simone’s coinage of the term” refrigerated” as the mere advancing of a storyline by the befalling of tragedy on the leading female character, as in this brilliantly written book, they get their just due.

The Encyclopedia of Black Comics: I incidentally found this book at the 2017 BookCon In New York, and felt instantly as if I found a secret treasure, as this book, though small in size, is quite comprehensive, and should be on every comic reader’s list.

 

DOCUMENTARIES/DOCU-SERIES

Batman and Bill: A documentary that follows Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Batman & Bill, as we follow his crusade to restore the name of Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman, and after watching this documentary, you will be giving side-eye to Bob Kane, as we get to find out how everything transpired and what a tragedy Finger’s life ended.

Superheroes Decoded: A different look at comics, as they definitively categorize heroes into two categories, “Legends” and Rebels” and how they relate to the American zeitgeist.

Floyd Norman: Animated Life:  although it was released in 2016, many viewers did not get to see these movies until 2017, and what an interesting life, Mr .Norman has lived, being one of the first black cartoonists at Disney, blazing a trail, that has opened doors for countless others.

Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics: Definitely one of the most absorbing series about some of the world’s best-known superheroes and the creators behind them, I certainly knew all of these stories beforehand, but still is pretty cool to see it dramatized.

Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously: Another documentary which came out  in 2016, but really became required viewing, once the world got see the Starz adaptation of American Gods and wanted to understand the mind of one of the world’s greatest story weavers.

Marvel Weekly Graphic Novel Review: Rocket Raccoon & Groot: Steal the Galaxy

It’s Wednesday which means new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. Instead of comics, today we’re looking at Rocket Raccoon & Groot: Steal the Galaxy written by Dan Abnett.

Find out about the book and whether you should grab yourself a copy. You can find it in comic stores May 10 and bookstores May 23.

Get your copy now. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Rocket Raccoon & Groot: Steal the Galaxy
Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

HER: An Interview With Malachi Bailey

malb2.jpgI first met Malachi Bailey nearly sixteen years ago through the magic of the internet, and he quickly became one of my closest friends; we’d sit up through the night talking about comics, life, the mysteries of the universe and, more often than not, writing fan fiction together. Although we did lose touch for almost a decade, through the magic of the internet our paths crossed again. I tell you this in the interest of full disclosure because Malachi Bailey has a way with words that will leave your jaw firmly on the floor. I’m not saying this because he’s an old friend, but because he’s a fantastic writer who has just published his debut novel Her.

And it’s good.

Graphic Policy: First things first, tell us a little about yourself?

Malachi Bailey: Hello, I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. I was that kid reading novels and comics up in trees. I loved reading about science fiction and fantasy, but it was the X-Men cartoon and comic book that would set me on the course. Their action-packed stories made me want to write. My siblings encouraged. So I’ve been writing since I was 9. I haven’t stopped and don’t plan to!

GP: I hope you don’t! What can you tell us about HER without giving too much away?

herMB: I am afraid you guys are stuck with me. But yes if you love sci-fi and fantasy, if you are into action and self-empowerment, then HER is your story! What is it about? Imagine an immortal woman with so much to learn, has reincarnated for a millennia. A new face, new skillset, and sometimes a special power. But when she Awakens in her new life, her memory is scrambled. The thing is her memory holds incredible power. She must remember who she is because there is an ancient evil that is tracking her through time…

GP: Where did the inspiration for the book come from?

MB: My siblings and I have always had the most fertile imagination growing up. We’d weave these engaging, dramatic stories involving our toys.  Then we fell in love with the X-Men from Marvel Comics. I became utterly obsessed with Storm. Strong. Black. In charge. A true Nubian queen.  She was the genesis for Her. I wanted a superheroine to have those qualities and attributes.

GP: How long had you been thinking of HER before you put pen to paper?

MB: Would you believe my mentor put the idea in my head?  I was her editorial assistant intern and she told me that I would be published so think of a book idea by the next time we had a meeting. The next time, I gave her rough breakdown of the HER novel. Hr face lit up. She was beyond excited.  She told me to have it finished by October 31st 2015. Um, I was given the assignment in May! But I did it. I put pen to paper on Memorial Day and finished the manuscript two months ahead of schedule!

motherone.jpgGP: That’s awesome. You self-published the novel initially; what made you decide to take that path?

MB: Originally I was going to publish through Brown Girls Books. I’d been interning with them at the time. But after much thought and soul-searching, I felt it was beneficial for me to self-publish my first novel. So I did.  Also, I created my own publishing house, Mother One Publications.

GP: Well you certainly jumped in at the deep end, eh?

MB: You could say that. It’s all or nothing. And HER deserves everything I’ve got!

GP: Which brings me to me to the Indiegogo campaign. You’re relaunching the book? 

MB: Yup! I am re-releasing HER through a crowdfunding website called Indiegogo. Frankly, I wasn’t thrilled with the typos I found in the book and, well, also I’ve been itching to showcase a new cover. Doing all this isn’t cheap.  So a month into it, I’ve been blessed to have donations after the campaign launch.

GP: After the relaunch, what’s next for Mal Bailey and Mother One?

MB: I’m just getting started! HER is only the beginning of a series I’m working on. I’m thinking right now there will about 5 books.  I’m also publishing other books through Mother One Publications. I have two different novel ideas floating around in my head that NEED to come out!

GP: Anything else you want to add before I let you go?

MB: I just want to thank you for taking the time to interview me. It truly means a lot. Also, I am very glad the campaign has been going well and I cannot wait until HER is back on the shelves. Still touched by the overwhelming wave of support.  This is only the beginning and I don’t intend to stop writing!

GP: Any time!


You can find Malachi on Facebook @MalachiTheWriter.

Check Out an Excerpt from Apocypha Now by Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell

Two-time Eisner award winning New Yorker cartoonist and Too Much Coffee Man‘s Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell (you should read his Prez) have teamed up again in a follow up to their tongue-in-cheek but respectful retelling of the Bible, God Is Disappointed In You? They’re back and working together again, because every bestseller has a sequel, even the Bible.

Apocryhpha Now, on sale now from Top Shelf Productions, is a faithful-yet-irreverent take on the best bits left out of the canonical Bible. Just like its predecessor, Apocryhpha Now is destined for the nightstand drawers of hipster hotels worldwide. Follow familiar characters like Cain and Abel, Mary Magdalene, and Judas through the stories the Bible never told you, the Midrash, the Apocrypha, and Gnostic Gospels, and read The Song of the Three Jews as a rap. Apocryhpha Now tells you what the Bible didn’t, only with LOL cartoons and smart and insightful prose.

ApocryphaNow-CVR

Preview: Apocrypha Now!

Apocrypha Now!

Mark Russell (w) • Shannon Wheeler (a & c)

Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler’s faithful-yet-irreverent approach to the Bible made their book GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU a modern cult classic. Now, by popular demand, they turn their attention to the best parts left out of the canonical Bible, including the Midrash, the Apocrypha, Gnostic Gospels, and more! And if you thought the BIBLE had some weird stuff in it…

TP • FC • $19.99 • 208 pages • 5” x 8” • ISBN: 978-1-60309-369-9

ApocryphaNow-CVR

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