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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/27/2021

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

The Next Batman: Second Son #1 (DC)– Writer John Ridley and artists Tony Akins, Ryan Benjamin, and Mark Morales tell the story of Tim Fox’s pre-Next Batman days as he and the unseen tech guy Vol try to take out a Vietnamese human trafficker. This first issue is all action, or attempts at action, highlighting Tim’s inexperience as he gets lured into a trap and does some stupid stuff like throwing his melee weapon right at his opponent. You can definitely see the passion in Tim’s face and in Ridley’s dialogue and passion, but he’s not even close to Batman or Batwing yet. On the visual side, Benjamin’s layouts are simple, yet effective using 2 or 3 panels a page to show how deep the shit Tim is getting in. The final page is a weird angle/choice from him and Akins though, but it connects him to the context of Future State and the larger DC Universe. Second Son #1 is a pretty, straightforward riff on Batman Year One with an international setting and focus on hacking as well as hand to combat. It’s not spectacular, but it’s solid. Opening with an extended action sequence is always a good move. Overall: 7.5 Verdict: Read

Future State-Superman: House of El #1 (DC)– House of El #1 is a glimpse at a far-flung future where the descendants of Superman from various planets band together to defend Earth from the Red King and his minions. Philip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski craft a world where Superman and his fellow heroes are practically a myth and where hope is all but lost. Theand’r, who is Kryptonian and Tamaranean, even thinks Superman never existed, and that he was a story to inspire Kryptonian immigrants who found a home on Earth. Johnson throws a lot of interesting ideas that could sustain a mini, but he and Godlewski condense it down to one double-sized comic with plenty of action and an enemy that is a metaphor for white supremacism. Godlewski’s compositions during the fight scenes fill up the page as the remnants of the House of El fight Parademons, Black Racer, and multiple Doomsdays. He draws blockbuster superhero action and interpersonal moments equally well adding a level of vulnerability to these warriors. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6 (Dark Horse)– Jeff Lemire and Toni Zonjic’s commentary on child sidekicks, violent vigilantes who were formerly child sidekicks, and 1990s Frank Miller art concludes in Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #6. Zoncic’s art is definitely the highlight of this final issue with a contrasting red and blue palette as Skeleton Boy struggles between choosing a life of violence with Skulldigger or something more stable with Officer Reyes and her partner. He also does some striking black and white work for the big emotional beats and also for Skulldigger’s kills. Storywise, Lemire creates a parallel between Skulldigger’s strained relationship with his mentor when he was the young sidekick Alley Cat, and his similar trauma bond with Skeleton Boy as he’ll probably end up getting Skeleton Boy hurt or killed. The actual ending of the issue seems like an anti-climax, but Lemire and Zonjic create a wonderfully redemptive moment for Matthew (Formerly known as Skeleton Boy) while lingering on a couple images of a lonely Skulldigger, whose vigilante crusade and vendetta against Grimjim (Think the Joker plus immortality.) will never end. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Crossover #4 (Image)– Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Ready Player One comic book edition continues in Crossover #4. Wisely, they’ve sidestepped their feeble attempts at real world relevance or commentary on the medium and gone for all out action in this issue with the standout being a Ben-Day dot filled double page spread featuring Madman, a yo-yo, and a nostalgic color palette from Dee Cuniffe. The lead characters Ellie, Ryan, and Ava are just ciphers taking the reader from Easter Egg to Easter Egg with Cates’ ominiscient narrator seeing more as a cover his ass situation than adding anything substantial to the series. As co-creators of the series, Cates and Shaws are well within their rights to make God Country a critical part of Crossover’s plot, but it really cheapens the resonance of a series that was their most emotionally honest work. Unless you’re a hunt the Easter Egg enthusiast, this one is worth skipping along with their prose and TV medium relatives, the aforementioned Ready Player One and Stranger Things Season One. Geoff Shaw and Dee Cuniffe’s visuals are very pretty though. Overall: 5.3 Verdict: Pass

Department of Truth #6 (Image)– James Tynion and guest artist Elsa Charretier peel the table behind the Department of Truth a little bit in a flashback story as a fresh off killing JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald learns about the conspiracies of 1000 AD. Compared to the series’ usual style, Charretier’s art has an earthiness that works for the medieval setting, and she even riffs on tapestry as the hag in the woods/Julia Augusta spins basically the origin story of the Illuminati featuring the Julian Calendar, monks, and fake Charlemagne. Tynion and Charretier explore the underlying theme and purpose of Department of Truth, which is to make sure a certain narrative is a dominant one and places it in the wider context of medieval European history. The Roman empire has fallen, Islam is on the rise, and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church are about to break apart so why not create the fiction of something that is neither an empire, holy, or Roman to hold things together. It will be interesting to see the ideas introduced in Department of Truth #6 echo down the road and see some of the recurring imagery and themes. It’s definitely my favorite issue of the series so far. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Future State: Batman/Superman #2 (DC Comics) – The art shines a bit more than the story itself which just feels like a way to add more flavor to this new Gotham and the Magistrate. It has some great themes I’d love to see explored more but overall, it feels like the end of a filler arc that touches upon bigger things elsewhere. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Dark Detective #4 (DC Comics) – The issue makes me want more of this future Gotham and story direction. The first story features the showdown between Batman and the Magistrate’s leader and it’s a hell of a battle. The art is fantastic with some amazing spreads and awesome action. The second story featuring Jason Todd delivers some solid twists and turns leaving the reader with a lot of questions that’ll be answered in the future. This was the Future State I wanted and it left me begging for it to continue. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 (DC Comics) – I really don’t know the Legion of Super-Heroes and this disconnect had me shrugging my shoulders with this one. This comic feels a bit more for the die-hards with knowledge. The art is solid with a very unique style so that was at least entertaining for me. Overall Rating: 6.5 Recomendation: Pass

Future State: Suicide Squad #2 (DC Comics) – The Suicide Squad portion of the comic is fanastic. The ending is something I didn’t see coming and it just feels like a solid mission for the team on another world. The art is really good delivering entertaining action with some subtle things here and there that really stand out. The Black Adam story is interesting but since I’m not into the whole magic aspect of the DC universe, it just didn’t quite pack the punch for me. The ending was also solid but the art stands out with some pages packed in with action and characters. You’ll need a bit to take it all in. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #2 (DC Comics) – Writer Mark Russell delivers the humor and satire I’d expect in a story where Lex Luthor rules over an entire planet. There’s some solid digs and concepts in here and it gave me a good laugh. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Generations Forged #1 (DC Comics) – There’s a lot of talent with this comic which really should have been released as individual chapters digitally. Seeing different heroes from different times together is fun and there’s a nice retro feel to it all, story and look wise. The comic also opens up the concept of the Linearverse which feels a bit odd and clunky with the current reset of the DC Universe and expansion of the Omniverse. Overall, great concept with an ok execution. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Batman: Black & White #3 (DC Comics) – I’m loving this anthology series and just want more of it. The stories and art is varied with John Ridley’s opening standing out. This is a fantastic buy and exactly what DC should be putting out more often. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Black Widow #5 (Marvel) – The best series on Marvel’s shelf right now. This wraps up the initial arc delivering some unbelievable action and amazing art. There’s so much to take in and just nails everything I’d want in a Black Widow comic. This is the series I have to read with each release. Overall Rating: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Chasing the Dragon #1 (Heavy Metal) – An interesting fantasy series that mixes in a concept of addiction to dragon’s blood to it. The opening is a little choppy with some good ideas that I want to see where it goes. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Crossover #4 (Image Comics) – I’ve really been enjoying this series which dips between great concepts and nostalgia. This issue feels a bit heavy on the nostalgia end of things as the creators reference one of their own creations. It feels a bit like autofellatio. There’s some solid art though which really stands out. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #3 (Marvel) – It’s M.O.D.O.K. versus Gwenpool a character I normally dislike. She works here in this over-the-top issue and series that features other organisms designed for killing. A silly, action-filled comic, that’ll leave you laughing. It’s delivered every issue with great jokes and solid art. It’s Looney Tunes type fun. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Nailbiter Returns #10 (Image Comics) – The latest volume wraps up and it’s a hell of an ending. Though it’s a little choppy it feels very appropriate for a horror sequel. There’s also a bit I don’t want to spoil. For those that have followed this series, you’ll be happy with the finale. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Stray Dogs #1 (Image Comics) – A hell of a debut featuring a dog with memory problem that winds up in a new home. The art is amazing and the build-up to the comic is gasp-inducing and also heartbreaking at moments. This is a must-get and must-read. Just fantastic in every way. Overall Rating: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #5 (Marvel) – The issue wraps up the miniseries with a showdown between Marneus and the Chaos forces. It brings things together in the two storylines and art is decent as usual. It ups the blood and guts a bit and overall is a satisfying though not exciting finale. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: 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 (**).

First! Get Rewarded as The First ENIAC #1 Customer at Your Comic Store

First Copy Reward Program

ENIAC #1 – the anticipated FIRST ISSUE 48-page spectacular from Matt Kindt, Doug Braithwaite, and Diego Rodriguez– will drop in comic stores around the world on March 3rd and officially launch Bad Idea. To celebrate the launch of their first series, Bad Idea, has announced the First Copy Reward Program.

Beginning with ENIAC #1, and continuing with select releases, they will be sending each BAD IDEA Destination Store location a mysterious and bewildering gold metallic pin. These pins of lore, known to the song singers as the One Pin, were forged by the Dark Lord Josh Johns – between the time when the hordes descended on The Hero Trades and the rise of the comics of the launch wave – to give the first buyers dominion over anyone too sane to wait outside a comic shop before it opens.

You see, these pins are strictly to be awarded only to the first customer to purchase a copy of ENIAC #1 at each Bad Idea Destination store location. That’s right, the first customer to walk in during official store hours and pick up a copy – that includes early-bird Wednesday Warriors buying at the counter, someone picking up a pre-order, a random making a purchase, even the guy who really needs the restroom but then locks eyes with ENIAC – you just have to be the first.

These pins are badges of honor and should be worn proudly and with much pageantry! Each pin will arrive in a sweet (super not collectible so you better wear them!) pin backing that brandishes the BAD IDEA logo and is inscribed with the following:

You will ABSOLUTELY want to be the very first to get a copy of ENIAC #1 at your local comic shop the second it opens on March 3rd. Remember, if you’re not first…you’re last. That’s just math.

If you manage to secure an illustrious pin make sure to post about it on social and tag @badideahello so that its crack social media team can amplify it and spread the word.

Preview: BRZRKR #1

BRZRKR #1

(W) Matt Kindt, Keanu Reeves (A) Ron Garney (CA) Rafael Grampá
NOTE: This is for Mature Readers
In Shops: Mar 03, 2021
SRP: $4.99

Discover the next blockbuster action franchise from the iconic KEANU REEVES in his Must Read comic book writing debut alongside New York Times best-selling co-writer Matt Kindt (Folklords, Bang!) and acclaimed artist Alessandro Vitti (Marvel’s Secret Warriors) in a brutally violent new series about one immortal warrior’s fight through the ages.

The man known only as Berzerker is half-mortal and half-God, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity.

But after wandering the world for centuries, Berzerker may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else.

In exchange, Berzerker will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence… and how to end it.

BRZRKR #1

Preview: Runaways #34

Runaways #34

(W) Rainbow Rowell (A) Andres Genolet (CA) Kris Anka
Rated T+
In Shops: Mar 03, 2021
SRP: $3.99

• Wolverine and Pixie guest-star in RUNAWAYS and answer what Runaways fans have been asking for months: With the X-Men’s opening of Krakoa, the island-nation that welcomes mutants in existence, will Molly go?
• You may think you know the answer to that or what is going to happen here, but this comic is like its stars: They never do what they’re told or expected to do.

Runaways #34

Celebrate 30 Bloody Years of Deadpool with Deadpool: Black, White, and Blood!

Wolverine is currently slicing and dicing his way through his bloodiest adventures yet in Wolverine: Black, White, and Blood and soon Carnage will show readers why he’s Marvel’s most terrifying villain in Carnage: Black White, and Blood. Come August, it’ll be Deadpool’s turn.

Deadpool will be starring in a brand-new series just in time for his 30th anniversary celebration. Deadpool: Black, White, and Blood will be packed with Deadpool’s wildest stories to date, all depicted in a prestige black and white format—with a heavy splattering of blood all over! Each action-packed issue will have an all-star lineup of creators teaming up to honor the character’s incredible legacy with the kind of chaos and violence that Wade Wilson loves!

Check out artwork from Declan Shalvey below and stay tuned for more information on this exciting series coming your way in August 2021!

Deadpool: Black, White, and Blood Declan Shalvey art

Preview: Power Pack #4 (of 5)

Power Pack #4 (of 5)

(W) Ryan North (A) Nico Leon (CA) Javi Garron
Rated T
In Shops: Mar 03, 2021
SRP: $3.99

• Hey guys, what’s up? Jack “MASS MASTER” Power here, and I’m narrating this issue of Power Pack, so they also let me do the solicit! JULIE narrated the last issue, and we all saw how well THAT went (aw, just kidding, Julie) (…unless?), so it’s time for the big guns! Let’s master some mass in this thing!!
• Anyway, bad news, Massheads – in this issue I get PLAYED by my HATERS into FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE against someone who is trying to MESS UP MY ENTIRE FAMILY, so let’s just say: Things get a little TOO real!
• Also there’s a special guest star…WOLVERINE!! He’s on the cover. I tried to get them to add a red arrow to it, pointing toward him with a circle around his claws, but they said that was “clickbait,” and I said, “Lol, I know.”
• And remember: Real heroes don’t forget to like (this comic) and subscribe (to this comic through their local comic book store).

Power Pack #4 (of 5)

Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans’ Die Wins a British Fantasy Award

The bestselling series Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans was honored this week with the 2020 British Fantasy Award in the “Best Comic/Graphic Novel” category.

The award has been handed out annually by the BFS beginning in 1972 (first named The August Derleth Fantasy Awards until 1976), with the society’s membership deciding on the initial shortlist, before turning the nominees over to juries for a final deliberation. This is the fourth time in five years that an Image Comics series has won in the category. Previous Image titles that have taken home the award for this category include Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress volumes one and two, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine DeLandro’s Bitch Planet, and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga.

Die has consistently held a seat as one of the top-selling Image Comics series with multiple sell-outs at the distributor level and regular reorder activity that’s skyrocketed with each new installment’s release. Perhaps best described as Jumanji with goth sensibilities, the series has stolen headlines since its launch for ushering in a new trend in RPG-themed storytelling.

The series enters its final story arc—titled “Bleed”—this May with the release of Die #16. Now is the perfect time for new readers to pick up Die volumes 1-3 available in trade paperback and catch up in time for the highly anticipated new story arc.

Die #16 Cover A by Hans (Diamond Code MAR210062) and Die #16 Cover B by Alberto Varanda (Diamond Code MAR210063) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, May 5.

Die #16

Preview: Avengers: Mech Strike #2 (of 5)

Avengers: Mech Strike #2 (of 5)

(W) Jed MacKay (A) Carlos Magno (CA) Kei Zama
Rated T+
In Shops: Mar 03, 2021
SRP: $3.99

The Biomechanoid menace is growing exponentially, and the only line of defense for the Earth? The Avengers! While the team scrambles to fight Biomechanoids across the globe with the aid of their new mech suits, Iron Man and Black Panther try desperately to uncover the hidden enemy behind this new global crisis. But when they do, they realize that the threat is far greater than they had previously imagined… and the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance.

Avengers: Mech Strike #2 (of 5)

A Cinematic Horror Makes its Marvel Debut. Watch the Alien #1 Trailer

ALIEN is coming! Marvel’s first venture into the iconic—and terrifying—world of the ALIEN franchise arrives next month. This exploration of never-before-seen corners of the Alien universe will entertain both longtime fans and newcomers to the legendary horror/science-fiction saga as writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson, artist Salvador Larroca, and colorist GURU-eFX tell an all-new tale of the titan of horror and science fiction that has scared audiences for decades.

The new series will introduce readers to Gabriel Cruz who years ago almost literally gave his life to Weyland-Yutani when he barely survived an alien attack. Recently retired, Cruz is trying to patch things up with his abandoned son with the help of his friend, a Bishop-model android, but his re-entry into civilian life is not going smoothly…and his encounters with the deadly Xenomorph are far from over. No one is safe. No one is innocent. And no one can hear you scream. See the terrors in store in this all-new thrilling trailer, featuring never-before-seen artwork from the highly anticipated issue.

Don’t miss this historic addition to the Alien legacy when ALIEN #1 arrives on March 24th featuring a cover by InHyuk Lee.

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