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.
Meet The Skrulls #5 (Marvel)** – A thorough and satisfying conclusion to Robbie Thompson and Niko Henrichon’s superb mini-series that leaves open some possibilities for the future while delivering that rarest of things in mainstream comics — a genuine self-contained story. Great art, smart and emotive writing, you really can’t ask for much more than this. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Savage Avengers #2 (Marvel)** – Terrific art from Mike Deodato, Jr. still can’t manage to do much to elevate Gerry Duggan’s lazy script. By the end of the second issue we’re really no further along than we were after the first, and that’s just plain inexcusable. Let’s just call it like it is : this book is predicated on a gimmicky premise that’s already running out of gas. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass
Batman #72 (DC)** – Gotta love the Mike Golden variant cover to this one — and the interior art by Jorge Fornes and Mikel Janin is a pleasing one-two punch — but dear God, is this script a mess. It’s meant to be one long “Eureka!” moment that reveals all of Tim King’s run to have been a long-form master plan engineered by Bane, but seriously : it all falls completely flat, and I think that’s true even for the VERY few readers out there who have emotionally “bought into” this inept run. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass
Female Furies #5 (DC)** – The Scott Free/Big Barda relationship as portrayed in this book is a bit too “Cliff’s Notes” for my taste and fails to resonate much for that reason, but apart from that, writer Cecil Castellucci is hitting all the right notes in her “Fourth World as feminist parable” story, which finally starts to deliver some richly-deserved comeuppances here, and Adriana Melo’s Perez-inspired art continues to impress. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5 (BOOM!) Jordie Bellaire and David Lopez definitely “zag” when it comes to the often criticized “nice guy” character of Xander in Buffy #5, who some critics/fans have read as an author avatar for his creator Joss Whedon. Even if it doesn’t stick, the glimpse we get of vampire Xander as an entitled, misogynistic loser is a wonderfully dark bit of subtext becoming text that lands visually thanks to Lopez’s heavy inks and Raul Angulo’s palette that is more noir and last pastel than the previous issues. Lopez’s take on Willow and Buffy are weirdly malformed compared to Dan Mora’s stylish art in the previous issues, but he definitely nails an air of psychological unease as Drusilla’s threat to Sunnydale continues to ramp up. Buffy #5 has plenty of snarky dialogue, Jenny Calendar/Giles cuteness, and mystical objects for fans with nostalgia for Buffy Seasons 2 and 3, but its smarter writing of Buffy, Willow, and Xander are what keep it fresh and worth reading. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Giant Days #51 (BOOM!) John Allison and Max Sarin deal with the fallout of McGraw’s father’s untimely passing coupled with Esther finding luck through winning a writing prize for an essay completely typed on her phone and getting an interview at bank because they have money. Allison and Sarin take a nuanced approach to grieving that’s in-step with the stoic character McGraw, who tries to avoid conversation and talking about his dad until he has one powerful emotional moment after playing checkers with Ed’s girlfriend. For this scene, Sarin uses a rush of extra lines and Whitney Cogar greys out her color palette to emphasize McGraw’s words about how moving away from his dad made him think that he was immortal. Giant Days #51 earns its pathos and shows the comic can look at the sad as well as the funny side of being a twentysomething in Sheffield, UK. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
Fallen World #2 (Valiant) I didn’t read 4001 AD and am not super steeped into the Valiant Universe, but I found Dan Abnett and Adam Mollina’s Fallen World #2 a fairly enjoyable post-apocalyptic tale of cults, archetypes, and ruthless AI. It’s more action-driven than cerebral although Abnett makes a smart move by centering the narrative around the father/son relationship between the evil Father (Who is in the body of Bloodshot) and his son, the pacifist/Messianic figure Rai. Underneath the weighty lore, there is a core of a survival story at Fallen World’s heart, and I enjoyed Mollina’s creative, fluid visuals for the Father’s different form like the red pteranodons he morphs into to purse the main characters. If you have a tolerance for dense worldbuilding with a side of futurism, Fallen World #2 is a fairly okay read. Overall: 7 Verdict: Read
Shazam #6 (DC) Geoff Johns’ plotting in Shazam is the opposite of decompressed as he and artists Santucci, Dale Eaglesham, and Scott Kolins juggle four plots and one flashback this issue. Splitting up the Shazam family was a smart idea because we get to know Gene and Pedro a little bit more as they try to get out of the Ready Player One-esque realm, The GameLands. Gene using his skills at video games to escape the “real world” is sad, yet resonant and connects to the overall theme of escapism and fantasy that pervades the Captain Marvel mythos. Even though Johns hasn’t resolved the plots featuring King Kid and a fight between Sivana and Mr. Mind and Black Adam, he dumps another one featuring Billy and his real dad C.C. Batson that is beautiful and realistic compared to the New 52-esque over rendering of the Black Adam fight. Honestly, Johns really needed a Shazam and a Shazam family book to tell all these stories and do this kind of world building, but I’d rather having a book full of content than a threadbare one. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: 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 (**).