Tag Archives: Boom

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For December ’19

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: Comics not in Diamond’s top 100 sellers for December 2019


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Ether: Disappearance of Violet Bell #4 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 338/2,700
Why You Should Read It:  
I will never apologize for raving about Matt Kindt. The third volume of Ether, a story about a modern scientist in a fantasy world, has Boone Dias solving a magical mystery using science. It is a magical combination – poor pun intended.

Rai #2 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 267/5,823
Why You Should Read It: 
There’s something magical about a story that helps you to ask questions about your place in the world, what it means to be human, when you should resort to violent recourse and how easy it can be to touch the lives of those around you. This comic does all of that.

Middlewest #13 (Image)
Rank/Units Sold: 209/8,488
Why You Should Read It: 
A young adventurer, a carnival of magicians a destructive tornado and some utterly fantastic artwork. This isn’t your typical coming of age story, and that’s only one of the things that makes it special.

The Last God #2 (DC/Black Label)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 144/12,858
Why You Should Read It: 
A comic with two stories being told concurrently – the present and the past, with only 30 years in the difference. The book examines what happens when the legends you believe aren’t entirely true, whilst also dealing with how we came to believe in those same legends. Plus, violence, corruption and a lost innocence and naivety.

Folklords #2 (Boom)
Rank/Units Sold: 186/9,613
Why You Should Read It: 
A comic that rewards close attention; far from predictable, this is another Matt Kindt story that you’re going to wish you read.

Once and Future #5 (Boom)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 133/14,330
Why You Should Read It: 
Reimagining King Arthur as something other than the hero we’ve all come to know and love growing up is an interesting wrench to throw into the mix, but then when you add in the modern elements to the tale whilst centering on a main character who has no idea what’s happening… it’s fantastic stuff. Truly brilliant.

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Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 12/7

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman #84 (DC) SPOILERS -So here we are the penultimate issue before the end of City of Bane arc and its two steps forward and one step back. This issue opens with Bruce and Thomas squaring off in the dining area of Wayne Manor, as we are quickly whisked in many many time jumps showing us Thomas’s activities since rejoining us on our Earth. While there are some cool beats there are also many confusing ones. For example we get a Selena Kyle who joins Thomas on his cruade as his Robin but she refers to him as Dad? Its never apparent which Selena this is, is another Selena in the multiverse or is it our Selena and she’s been manipulating Bruce all along. I’m not sure which one. We then see Thomas hunt down everything and anything he sees as a threat to Bruce including shooting our Oswald Cobblepot in the head. (that was interesting) We also get Thomas’s version of Bruce’s famous vow which was cool. I have been a big fan of Thomas Wayne Flashpoint Batman and feel The Button arc is one of the best comics I’ve ever read but the way that King has used him in this is so convoluted and way beyond tough love that it makes any chance for redemption ridiculous. Any outcome other than Bruce killing Thomas for what he has done is not acceptable. King only has one issue to wrap this all up and I have little faith he can accomplish that feat. So once again, the pictures have been grand and I get the impact he’s going for but its just so muddled that it becomes so hard to see Thomas as anything other than an Arkham psycho. This is a character that started so rich and deserves so much more. Like Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” One issue left lets hope King and Co. give us the ending we deserve.
Score: 7 Recommendation: Read

Logan

Thor: The Worthy #1 (Marvel)– In Thor: The Worthy #1, Marvel rustles up some of the greatest creators of Asgardian comic content to tell stories about heroism and perserverance even if your dad isn’t Odin. Legendary Thor writer Walter Simonson teams up with artists Mike Hawthorne, Sal Buscema (Who is 83!), and Tamra Bonvillain to tell a Kirby-esque of Beta Ray Bill, Sif, and a rock troll threatening Asgard. It doubles as an homage to his run, a great Young Thor tale story, and a look back at the underrated relationship between Sif and Bill. The second story by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz is a day in the life of The militarized cop supporting cast hasn’t aged well, but Frenz’s muscular linework and Eric’s salt of the Earth heroism is timeless. There’s even a a fantastic Secret Wars homage, and it reminds readers that the late Eric Masterson was a great, relatable hero in the “extreme” era of the 1990s. The final story from Kathryn Immonen and Tom Reilly is a fantastic Sif and Thor (Jane Foster) team-up as Sif shows Thor the ropes of Asgardian diplomacy, and Thor realizes that she is truly worthy of wielding Mjolnir. The art has a great Kirby meets Simonson vibe to tie it into the first story, and Reilly’s explosive pencils complement Immonen’s witty dialogue nicely. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

James Bond #1 (Dynamite)– The first chapter of Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, and Eric Gapstur’s James Bond ongoing series is relatively Bond-lite, but provides an intriguing look into the world of art forgeries and thefts. After an explosive sex and violence filled cold open with a Will Eisner-esque title page, the comic has the feel of a slick procedural as claims investigator Brandy Keys tries to figure out how a priceless Rothko was forged/stolen. Ayala and Lore assume readers already know Bond so they spend this issue building up Keys as a character and crafting a playground of fine art and ultraviolence. And this issue is a true thrill ride with a conclusion that definitely piqued my interest into seeing how Bond fits into this story. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Die #10 (Image)– The final issue of the “Split the Party” arc definitely lives up to the title as Ash and Izzy take over the fantasy realm of Angria, which was revealed as a creation of a young Charlotte Bronte, in a previous issue. Ash’s descent into evil and authoritarianism has been fun as she has progressed from wanting to exit the world of Die to wanting to play the game. Kieron Gillen falls into some RPG nerdery in this issue (As he has throughout the whole series to be honest), but Stephanie Hans’ art makes concepts like godbinding and dictators compelling and cool. However, some of her best moments happen in muted flashbacks to Dominic Ash finally seeing his wife become pregnant before cutting to Ash taking over Angria. The first arc of Die ended with the game-maker Sol imprisoned, and the party desperately wanting to go home to the real world. However, in the second arc, Gillen and Hans have replaced him with an equally compelling villain as the protagonists (and antagonists) immerse themselves in fantasy quests and realpolitik. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Men #3 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman indulges his weird side and turns in the most entertaining issue of the X-Men ongoing with artists Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. Basically, some 70 and 80-something female botanist and agrochemists called Hordeculture hack Krakoa in the Savage Land and totally put the mutants’ new utopia out of wack so Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Sebastian Shaw investigate and get their asses handed to them. This is a serious problem, but creates some amazing opportunities for comedy like Yu’s hilarious beat panel after one of the Hordeculture spit roasts Emma Frost’s fashion sense. Some of the writing here is straight out of an X-Men meme page (For better or worse), but Hickman and Yu do a good job of showing that there’s trouble in paradise, er, Krakoa. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #3 (Marvel)– Wow, Sebastian Shaw is the worst father ever. Gerry Duggan and Michele Bandini continue to put their proverbial “pieces” on the Hellfire Club board with Sebastian Shaw resurrecting his son Shinobi Shaw to serve as the Red King, and when that didn’t work out thanks to Kate Pryde in the last issue, the Black Bishop. Marauders #3 has the vibe of one of those early season episodes of Game of Thrones (When it was decent show.) where characters are plotting and doing morally questionable things to gain power. The theme of a utopia being undermined continues with Shaw as a throughline from X-Men to Marauders. It’s so cool to see the connections between the X-Books as they blossom into SF realpolitik thrillers instead of the usual superhero fare. Marauder #3’s only key blemish is its art, which has some slick character costume designs and landscapes for the Hellfire Bay, but falters in the emotional storytelling department probably due to the biweekly schedule. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #3 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To combine fantasy action (Jubilee’s son Shogo is a dragon in Otherworld.) with some sharp characterization as Betsy Braddock struggles with her new mantle of Captain Britain, Gambit basically misses Rogue like crazy, and Rictor rejects the call to Krakoa, but may end up an unwitting pawn in Apocalypse’s schemes. Erick Arciniega’s colors are the special sauce that make Otherworld look different from the human world or even Krakoa, and there is a tone of derring do, magic, and high drama in these scenes as Betsy fights Brian and sees nothing in his eyes. However, Excalibur isn’t a straightforward magical fantasy book with Howard and To crafting plenty of intrigue towards the beginning and end of the comic as well as in the diagrams leading to a final page that creates another obstacle for the team. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: 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 11/30

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

Girl On Film (BOOM!/Archaia)– Shade the Changing Girl and Female Furies writer Cecil Castellucci tells her winding journey to becoming an artist in Girl on Film with artists Vicky Leta, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagon, and Jon Berg. Castellucci’s passion for the art of filmmaking comes through, and the framing sequences with her scientist father expand upon the fragility of memory in creating a memoir while not undermining the events of the story. Girl on Film has great energy and honesty as Cecil navigates New York’s Performing Arts High School, the city’s art and film scene, and Montreal’s general art scene. There are some fun celebrity cameos, but Castellucci weaves them into the story so they don’t seem like namedropping or grandstanding. In fact, Girl On Film comes across as a profoundly humble work with Cecil coming to terms with her lack of technical filmmaking skills and finding new ways to tell stories whether that’s in various bands, young adult novels, and finally, comics. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Black Canary Ignite (DC/Zoom)– Black Canary Ignite is a middle grade friendly-friendly fusion of Dinah Lance’s superhero origin and her most recent rock star vigilante solo series from writer Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries) and artist Cara McGee (Dodge City). McGee’s art is adorable and expressive plus she dials up the intensity any time Dinah uses her abilities especially early on when she has no idea what she’s doing. In the early going, Cabot’s writing betrays her inexperience in the comics medium as she describes what is shown in McGee’s art, but she adds some cute wrinkles like Wildcat being Dinah’s P.E. coach and some sassy one-liners. She and McGee are at their finest when focusing on the mother/daughter dynamic between Black Canaries, past and present. Dinah’s first villain is a little weak, but Black Canary Ignite’s slice of life elements are enjoyable. This is one worth skipping for adults and older teens, but is worth a shot for tween and younger readers as well as Black Canary fans hoping for solo content. Overall: 6 Verdict: Pass (I checked out a copy from my local public library.)

Conan 2099 #1 (Marvel)– Gerry Duggan and Roge Antonio turn in the equivalent of a classic Conan with some technological accoutrements (Like flying cars) in Conan 2099 #1. All the tropes are here: Conan struggling with being a good ruler, a magical antagonist, and him turning to wandering once again with the help of a Nova corps helmet. The story doesn’t really place Conan in the context of the 2099 world beyond his kingdom having climate change issues, but Duggan and Antonio nail the fighting, hiding, and heroism parts. The ending is especially heroic and worth reading the whole comic for. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Killadelphia #1 (Image) Killadelphia #1 has some cool ideas like connecting vampirism to systemic injustices and John Adams bringing yellow fever back from the Carribbean, but the whole comic feels disjointed. Writer Rodney Barnes jumps from the current detective Sangster to his father and then some letters and tries to connect these two eras and create an atmosphere of tension and class inequity, but fails at making me connect with the characters or even establishing a decent mystery or hook. However, Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT’s visuals are outstanding and remind me of Kyle Baker almost painterly style on Truth: Red, White, and Blue. Alexander’s layout choices are like fragments of memory and work with Barnes’ storytelling style. Eventually, this might be coherent in trade paperback format, but it fails the first issue hook test. Overall: 5.5 Verdict: Pass

Shean

Punisher 2099 (Marvel)– I will keep this one sweet and short, a similar story to Frank Castle in that tragedy propels him to become a hero but add a dash of Black Mirror and you have this story which honestly feels already outdated and not compelling. Overall: 4.7 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 (**).

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.


Joe Hesh

Absolute Carnage #2 (Marvel)** Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman do it again. They bring me the over the top event I didnt need but sure as hell didn’t know I wanted. We get the best Spidey and Venom team up this side of ever and it is rockin! The story moves along simply and brisk with Kletus Casady back in the red symobiote driver’s seat attempting to ascend to dark godhood. The way he makes a second banana out of Norman Osborn is a blast and oh seeing Eddie use his symbiote to sprout freaking bat wings was pure awesome sauce. Tjis comic reads like an armageddon fairy tale and just paints the pages with imagery. Also not to mention the calvary arrives and we are left with such a cool cliffhanger for next issue. Score: 9 Reccomendation: Buy. I got my copy for free but I’m going to purchase. Too much fun. Make mine Marvel madness!

Alex

Marvel Comics #1000 (Marvel)** I honestly thought that I’d think of this as nothing but a cheap gimmick as Marvel plays Keeping Up With The Jones (or in this case DC) by releasing a thousandth issue (we’re going to ignore the fact that they’ve published Wolverine #1000 before), but I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I read. Despite the elevated price tag, this collection is an absolute must for Marvel fans as the cavalcade of writers and artists take us down memory lane – and for many of us it’s a reminder that Marvel’s memory stretches a lot further than our lifespan. Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

House Of X #3 (Marvel)** I’ve been constantly surprised by how much I am enjoying this series, because despite being billed as a Massive Event, so far House/Powers Of X hasn’t even come close to sucking, Now, with the X-Men on their first real mission in the present day since the story started, we’re really starting to feel the tension creep higher. A great comic for those even partially interested in the merry mutants. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Knights Temporal #2 (Aftershock) Time travel has always fascinated me, as has the middle ages. So when a comic comes along that feature a crusader knight being thrust into various different time periods, sometimes with minimal memory of doing so, then I’m going to pick up the first issue. When the first issue is every bit as good as I hoped… then I’ll be back for the second. Which is also just as good as the first. There’s a wonderful sense of intrigue here, with the bigger picture hanging just out of view; Cullen Bunn doesn’t hand anything to you as he tells the story from the time travelling Auguste Rivera’s point of view. My new favourite series. Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Once And Future #1 (Boom)** I’m late to this party, but it was difficult to find this comic in the wild (review copy be damned). Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora are two top notch creators, and reading a comic set in the same part of England that I grew up in was an oddly nostalgic moment. Added to that, it’s a comic about the legends that shaped my childhood, and so I was oddly nervous that the comic wouldn’t live up to the hype surrounding (and the sky rocketing price of the first issue’s first print), but it does. It really does. Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Banjax #3 (Action Lab) Another comic I’m behind on reading. Rilend Grant’s tale about the last crusade of a fallen hero trying to save his city before his cancer claims him blurs the lines between hero and villain constantly. Banjax is a hero because of what he does, not necessarily why he does it – or how. In a world where super heroes are idolized like movie stars and have very little secret identity it’s strange to watch a man who almost turned villain try to save a city with no intent on redemption (I’m not sure if they get paid by the state… or how they make money, but that’s the adult in me and not the comic reader suspending his disbelief). I think this is going to be a sleeper hit in years to come. Overall: 8.1 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 8/17

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

Event Leviathan #3 (DC) This is a miniseries where I’m starting to enjoy the character interactions and Alex Maleev’s art more than Brian Michael Bendis’ plot. There’s a cool fight scene between Jason Todd and the members of Batman’s group of detectives that culminates in an even more fascinating war of words between him and Lois Lane. She sees the big picture, knows what questions to ask, and has a personal stake in the attacks, which makes her dangerous. However, in the big picture, Bendis is no closer to revealing the who and why of Leviathan even if we see the return of another important player on the board towards the end of the issue. The dialogue and art is nice, but if he and Maleev blow the big reveals, this whole thing could end up being a stinker. Overall: 6 Verdict: Pass

Superman Year One #2 (DC/Black Label) Frank Miller and John Romita Jr go way off Superman’s traditional canon in the second issue of Superman Year One focusing on Clark’s time as a Navy Seal trainee and his romance with Lori Lemaris that brings him into direct conflict with Poseidon, King of Atlantis. (Who is also into incest wtf.) Romita’s art does a fantastic job showing Clark’s physical strength in his navy drills, and when he fights Poseidon’s kraken in a duel of superman vs monster. During these tasks, Miller’s inner monologue is basically how easy this is for Superman. He is a god laughing at mortals although in a pivotal action sequence against stereotypical terrorists, we see his unwillingness to take a life. Even though Superman’s relationship with Lori is the crux of this issue and his motivation after leaving the navy, Miller writes her as object to be won and not an equal. Hopefully, he fares better with Lois Lane in issue three, but I’m not getting my hopes up. This was seriously one weird comic with some strong visual moments from Romita, Danny Miki, and Alex Sinclair. Overall: 5 Verdict: Pass

Pretty Violent #1 (Image) I feel like I’ve read this comic before, and it was called I Hate Fairyland. But this one has superheroes and no narrative focus to go with a kid swearing and entrails everywhere illustrated with glee by Derek Hunter. There is something to chuckle at from a superhero utterly fucking up, but Hunter and Jason Young’s comic feels like a series of sketches instead of a coherent, funny story. The time travel and Cable skewering backup story is a pretty great parody, and maybe because it doesn’t feature our frankly annoying protagonist. Overall: 4.7 Verdict: Pass

Powers of X #3 (Marvel) Jonathan Hickman proves that he can pull off a classic X-Men team action sequence, deal with the whole time travel thing a la “Days of Future Past”, and deal with alternate universe versions of characters a la “Age of Apocalypse” in Powers of X #3. Instead of jumping between eras, he, R.B. Silva, and Marte Gracia focus on 100 years in the future with the remaining mutants going on a mission to steal a shard of data from Nimrod, the ur-Sentinel. Gracia’s color are a real highlight in this issue from the bright, flat palette of Nimrod’s HUD to Xorn unleashing a black hole or even a final epic battle between Apocalypse and Wolverine and the Sentinels. Along with the Moira retcon (Which plays a part in this issue), heroic Apocalypse is one of the most memorable moments of Hickman’s run so far, and it’s simply breathtaking to lay his life on the line for the mutants in this comic. It’s pure popcorn storytelling and a great climax to the Powers of X mini. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Jane Foster Valkyrie #2 (Marvel) Jane Foster Valkyrie #2 is an all action issue with a touch of empathy from Jason Aaron, Al Ewing, Cafu, and Jesus Aburtov. Bullseye has the previous Valkyrie, Brunnhilde’s sword, and Jane Foster must fight to get it back before he kills Heimdall and commits mass murder on a mass scale. With eloquent captions, Aaron and Ewing create a strong contrast between Bullseye, a man who only wants to kill and Jane, who sworn an oath as a doctor to do no harm. Cafu uses big panels and detailed facial expressions without being static as the battle rages all over New York, and Jane’s All-Weapon is wonderful for creative fight moves. But this comic isn’t just a beat ‘em up and has some real pathos while also changing the book’s status quo from yet another Asgardian superhero comic. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Ryan C

Batman #77 (DC)** Come on. Seriously? When your comic hinges on a plot twist and nothing more, you’ve got yourself a lame comic. And does anyone think this “major development” is gonna stick? Mikel Janin’s pages look good, I’ll give this issue that much, but Tony S. Daniel’s stuff is lame and boring and Tom King’s script is lazy and atrocious. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass

Superman: Year One #2 (DC/Black Label)** Maybe it’s Danny Miki’s inks, I dunno, but this is the best-looking John Romita Jr. art in years. Unfortunately, Frank Miller’s script lets the side down in a big way. Not as horrifyingly stupid as the first issue, true, but not much could be. Still a long way to go before this thing earns its eight dollar cover price. Overall: 4.5 Recommendation: Pass

Faithless #5 (Boom! Studios)** – Maria Llovet’s art continues to astonish in this series, but Brian Azzarello’s ambitious contemporary take on Dante’s Inferno (plus sex) is still consistently missing the mark and none of the characters have a very distinctive voice yet. An interesting narrative experiment with gorgeous art is hardly the worst thing to spend your money on, but I can’t recommend that you do so on the merits of the work itself to this point. Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Look at it for sure, but don’t bother to read or buy it.

Batman #232 Facsimilie Edition (DC) – Neal Adams. Denny O’Neil. The first appearance of Ra’s Al Ghul. An exact reproduction down to the original ads, letter columns, etc. What more could you possibly want, or ask for? Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Absolute Carnage Vs Deadpool #1 (Marvel) We find Deadpool and Spider-Man running from Spidey’s rogue gallery, as Deadpool eventually annoys Peter. Weeks later, Deadpool finds a note which leads him to a Sanitarium where Carnage has taken over. Before he can get away, Carnage has cornered him, leaving him not much choice on how to move. By issue’s end, Deadpool ultimately escapes but had created something more dangerous than what he evaded. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Ghost Spider #1 (Marvel) We find Gwen Stacy trying to find some semblance of a normal life, as back on her earth, we find her having a squibble with one of her band mates.As she soon realizes that her alter ego as Spider Gwen is her escape from everything that gives her tension in her life, as she chooses to Utilize her powers to transport between worlds as her means of relief. As she looks to be a normal college student on Peter Parker’s world. As she finds her real jot in working with Peter. By issue’s end, her exploits don’t go unnoticed, as the Jackal emerges. Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Joe Hesh

Batman #77 (DC) **SPOILERS FOLLOW** King and Daniels deliver a mixed bag. Stunning art and parts of the script is wonderful. Really dug the rooftop fight with Damian and Thomas, but someone needs to clip Gotham Girl’s wings asap. She is just an annoyance of acharacter as of late. Really still enjoying the villains as the GCPD dynamic. All good there. The slow burn on Selina and Bruce’s return is well done too. Now for the mixed part. So this is the infamous issue where Tom King makes a monumental dynamic change to the Bat family. I’m not sure how to feel about it. One one hand it is shocking and could open the door to some interesting tales now that this anchor in Bruce’s life has been eliminated. One the other hand.. I’m so fucking pissed. Doing this out of shock value is just wrong. The manner it’s done too doesn’t leave room for redemption for Thomas which is a shame because I just loved him and Bruce together in The Button crossover. This though is heinous. Goes wayy beyond tough love. Now for Bane. No question for this storyline Batman has to break his moral code and end Bane. Yes, I mean kill him. Either that or paralyze Bane completely so that he’s never retconned to come back. There better be a big comeuppance but that said I’m still so argghhh.. the feels. We will miss you Alfred. Godspeed Master Bruce and make this right. Overall: get this and sip with some Earl Grey tea. Especially before the last few pages. Score: 8 Reccomendation: Buy. It’s a good book but it’s only going to shoot up in value from here out. Especially if it sticks.


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 8/17

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

Silver Surfer Black #3 (Marvel)** – Tradd Moore is doing such a magnificent job channeling his inner Kirby that it makes this book a joy to experience even with a mediocre, uninspired Donny Cates script. I guess there’s a plot twist at the end here that might intrigue some people, but whatever. It’s not like the story really matters here, it’s a “closed loop” anyway. The art is why you buy this book, and buy it you should. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Gideon Falls #16 (Image) **– Jeff Lemire is mailing in his third-rate “Twin Peaks” rip-off scripts at this point (literally and figuratively), but Andrea Sorrentino just keeps on getting better and better on art — in fact, there are a couple of double-page spreads here that will simply blow your mind. A book worth buying just for the art? Seems to be a theme this week. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy

Outer Darkness #9 (Image/Skybound) **– The best series no one seems to be talking about just keeps getting better. A brutally violent issue this time out gives Afu Chan a real chance to shine on art, and John Layman’s dark AF scripting is really firing on all cylinders. Not for all tastes, but for those who are on a very particular wavelength, comics don’t get a whole lot better. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Detective Comics #1009 (DC) **- Not a bad “rebound” issue this time out, as Peter J. Tomasi’s “Bruce Wayne in a plane crash” script is thoroughly readable if uninspired, Deadshot comes off as a formidable foe, and Christian Duce’s art is sleek and stylish. Nothing overly awesome or anything, but a step in the right direction compared to recent stuff served up in this series. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Logan

Ghosted in LA #2 (BOOM!)– Daphne settles into living with her ghost buddies in Rycroft Manor, and I really love how Sina Grace and Siobhan Keenan give them different personalities depending on which era they passed away in. This plot centers around Daphne going out with a total jerk named Brint, who is pretentious and thinks he’s owed sex, because she saw her ex with a new girl and wants to make her jealous. Ghosted in LA #2 is a great skewering of fuckboys and has some sweet interactions between Daphne and a ghost, who she is supposed to get a new album by his favorite band. Keenan’s expressive art and cute outfit designs plus these little wholesome moments keep the comic afloat in the middle of the melodrama. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Powers of X #2 (Marvel) – This was my least favorite chapter in Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men work as he and RB Silva do a great job integrating the Moira MacTaggart retcon into the foundation of the X-Men, show some strong scenes with Cyclops as a pragmatic leader, and have a similar salt of the Earth pragmatism with Wolverine 100 years in the future. 1,000 years in the future is when it falls apart and feels like a filler issue of his Avengers run with lots of talk about how future societies are like and hives and intelligence. However, it doesn’t have the emotional resonance of the other eras with characters we have gotten to know or just damn cool concepts like Apocalypse leading the X-Men. This is 3/4 of a good comic and the turbulent middle chapter in a series that has been firing on all cylinders up to this point. Overall: 7 Verdict: Read

Collapser #2 (DC/Young Animal) – In the second installment of Mikey Way, Shaun Simon, and Ilias Kyriazis’ series, Liam struggles with controlling his collapsing black hole abilities.
Before the opening credits roll, he’s out there wrecking Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids and seeing visions of cryptids and aliens that no one else can see. Way and Simon focus a lot on mental health in this issue, and Liam’s girlfriend Joss helps him check into a psych hospital because he’s been off his meds. Of course, all the aliens and phenomena are real, but Way, Simon, and Kyriazis take mental health seriously in Collapser #2 and work through what Liam sees and feels before throwing him back into action. Finally, Liam’s black hole abilities allow Kyriazis and colorist Cris Peter to play without layouts and provide different visuals than your usual alien invasion/superhero comic. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Shean

Age of Conan Valeria #1 (Marvel) – In what looks to be probably the best book to come from this niche line at Marvel, we find a character worthy to occupy the same space as Conan. As we find one hero whose childhood has been marred by tragedy. As the death of her parents, leads her to live with her brother, who is ultimately betrayed by someone close to him. By issue’s end, our hero is focused on her goal in mind, as the story instantly brings comparisons to the underrated ” Quick and The Dead” movie, as both stories showcased strong female protagonists with tragic backgrounds.
Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Conan The Barbarian Exodus #1 (Marvel) – In a rather bold move for a one shot, we get mostly vacant of dialogue story about Conan in the wild. As he tests his skills for survival as he fights every dangerous animal. He would soon test his skills against a ruthless oligarch who would get the better of him to have him imprisoned. By story’s end, not only has Conan escaped his Bondage but has killed the man responsible for putting him there. Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Sword Master #2 (Marvel) – We find Lie as he finds out that his father’s enemies have been close to him the whole time, which he also finds out the powers of the sword.. He also catches the eye of another demon hunter, who has been searching for who occupies the title of Sword Master. In the second tale, we find Lie and Shang Chi in the midst of hell and a hand basket. As a fight with Ares army leads to an unfortunate situation that has put both heroes at a disadvantage. Overall: 9.6 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 6/8

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.


Ryan C

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

Logan

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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 3/23

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

High Level #2 (DC/Vertigo) **– Another slice of solid science fiction “world-building” from writer Rob Sheridan and artist Barnaby Bagenda firms up the relationship between our two main protagonists, fleshes out the unique socio-political-economic statusof the “city” of Onida, and throws in some brisk action near the end before leaving this on a very agreeable cliffhanger. Superb art and colors elevates the proceedings a good few notches, cementing this as a series well worth following. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy 

American Carnage #5 (DC/Vertigo) **– The tangled web being woven by writer Bryan Hill and artist Leandro Fernandez becomes even more labyrinthine here, with intrigues aplenty brewing between all the major characters just as the stakes are raised for the American electorate at large. The art and colors continue to improve with each issue, and here approach genuinely “amazing” status, more than making up for the occasional foray into overly-expository or “preachy” dialogue. One of the most interesting monthlies out there right now. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Wild Storm #21 (DC/WildStorm) **– As we near the conclusion of Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s “reimagining” of the WildStorm universe, the chess pieces are all in place, the last few secrets remain tantalizingly out of reach, and the art gets more and more cinematic and breathtaking. You could ask for more from a monthly comic, but you’d be hard-pressed to find it anywhere. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #67 (DC) **-Thank goodness for the sensational artwork of both Lee Weeks and Jorge Fornes, because Tom King’s script for this fifth installment of “Knightmares” is simply a lazy-ass Batman/Joker run-around with little to recommend in its favor apart from a late-inning connection between it and the (much better) “Batman/Elmer Fudd Special” #1. Pretty much a total waste, barring the very pretty pictures. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Look at it, but there’s hardly anything to read

Logan

Spider-Man: Life Story #1 (Marvel)– Chip Zdarsky turns in some of the smartest and most emotionally resonant work of his career in Spider-Man: Life Story #1, the first chapter of a miniseries in which Spider-Man ages in real time. Mark Bagley, John Dell, and Frank D’Armata handle the art chores and excel at both intense conversation sequences between Peter and Captain America, Peter and Norman Osborn, and especially Peter and Gwen Stacy as well as setpieces like a classic showdown between Spidey and the Green Goblin and something more subversive set in Vietnam. In fact, one of the many internal conflicts that Spidey has in this issue is if he’s going to Vietnam or not, especially when he finds out that Flash Thompson’s inspiration for volunteering was Spider-Man. The miniseries format allows Zdarsky and Bagley to introduce stakes and consequences that wouldn’t fit in an ongoing comic as they use the 1960s and Vietnam era not as psychedelic window dressing, but as a source of tension and growth for Peter Parker. And, wow, Zdarsky writes one hell of a Cap. He’s a larger than life figure, but also has extremely mixed feelings about the Vietnam War, especially after what he lost in WWII that still feels recent to him. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Firefly: Bad Company #1 (BOOM!)– Josh Lee Gordon, Francesco Mortarino, and Gabriel Cassata finally tell the “origin” story of Saffron, the artist formerly known as Mrs. Reynolds and also Christina Hendricks’ breakout role. Her life story might be completely made up, but it’s still a tragic story of class warfare, patriarchy, and how the one percenters don’t give a shit about how many they trample on their way to wealth and power. Gordon and Mortarino also do a fair bit of worldbuilding and showing the relationship between the Companions Guild and the Alliance. Mortarino’s art is also bright, expressive, if a little melodramatic at times. If you’re not already a Browncoat, then this one-shot would be a little dense , but it’s worth picking up for the initiated. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

Shean

Spider-Man: City At War #1 (Marvel)– In what looks to be a one do those game interpretation comics, we get quite surprisingly a fun read. We get a world weary Peter Parker and Spider-Man. As his world has been more than hectic and we also get a different origin story for Doctor Octopus. We also see how a post relationship friendship between Peter and MJ is, which also quite mature. Overall, a great read for fans of the game but an excellent story for the rest of the Marvel fans. 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 (**).

Underrated: Brit: Old Soldiers

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: Brit: Old Soldier.


I’m going to assume you know who Robert Kirkman is, and what his two most well known properties are. But before he became known as the creator of The Walking Dead and Invincible, or even after, Kirkman created comics that haven’t garnered the same raving obsession as TWD. One of these is a comic about an indestructible octogenarian who has been the secret weapon of the US government for decades. Set in the same world as Invincible and Wolfman (though the latter is also an underrated book, and you likely haven’t had chance to read it). I’m talking about Brit: Old Soldier.

I picked up the trade from my LCS on a whim. It looked kinda cool, almost had an Old Man Logan vibe to the character, and I was curious about a guy who may or may not be immortal (whether Brit is or isn’t immortal, he’s certainly indestructible), and seeing how Kirkman handled the guy. Plus, this specific volume looked like it was a standalone story as I flipped through it quickly, which is always a good thing when you’re looking to pick up a trade paperback just for the sake of reading. I’ve since realized that Brit has also seen a continuation of the original miniseries, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.

No today, we’re talking about the first trade, a complete story in and of itself that stands alone as a violently humorous and at time darkly funny comic.

Brit: Old Soldier is a comic set in the same world as another of Kirkman’s creations, but you don’t need to be overly familiar with Invincible to enjoy the subject of today’s column. It’ll give you an additional layer to peel away, but the story doesn’t hinge on you knowing Everything.

Like I said, this is a standalone book. A complete story in and of itself.

Brit: Old Soldier is one of those comics that takes you entirely by surprise. You have reasonable expectations going in based on the creative team and the synopsis, but the end result proves to be a sum greater than its parts. There’s an oddly funny and heartwarming soul to this story that rears its head between the other blood drenched pages depicting Brit in action.

Interestingly, we see Brit use his ability in some unique ways; for despite being indestructible, he doesn’t have super strength (although he isn’t constrained by his muscles or bones tearing if he punches and lifts things). This leads to at least one fight where Brit emerges victorious using some rather unconventional tactics that wouldn’t work for most other comic book characters.

Brit is the subject of this weeks’ Underrated because when stacked next to The Walking Dead and Invincible it’s easy to overlook this book on the shelves of your LCS. If it’s even there. Do yourself a favour, the next time you’re looking for a popcorn action comic with heart, look for Brit.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Warhammer: Crown Of Destruction

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: Warhammer: Crown Of Destruction.


It’s often easy to discount Games Workshop based comics as little more than a generic cash in with little appeal beyond those who already play Games Workshop games such as Warhammer. As you may have guessed by this collection featuring in Underrated, that’s not always the case. 

Although I found this in a thrift shop for $2, I was utterly captivated by it from start to finish. I tell you the price I paid more to give an indication of what I was willing to pay based on the cover and blurb on the back, not because I want to brag about my find. Any higher a price and I probably would have left it on the shelf – though seeing as how it was with the kids books I may have at least moved it to the adult section. 

As I may have indicated, I went into this book with pretty low expectations on the story (though oddly I would have been surprised if the art wasn’t at the very least “pretty damn good”). But given that this four issue collection was written by Kieron Gillen, I probably should have had higher expectations than I did. Yes, it’s the third book in the series, no that didn’t bother me any.

Gillen’s story about disgrace, honour and cowardice is pure escapist fantasy, but it is solid and more than enjoyable. I loved the artistic direction of the book. Dwayne Harris, while not to everybody’s taste, encapsulates the visual feel I expected from a gritty comic that had some very loud 2000AD  echoes.

A lot of the folks I talk to at my LCS generally discount these comics as not being worth reading; and while they may not always be the best things you’ll ever read, they’re far better than most (including myself) give them credit for. That’s why I think these stories are Underrated. Next time a Warhammer comic looks interesting to you, check it out. You may find yourself enjoying it more than expected.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

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