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.
Batman #42 (DC)** – Mikel Janin is a comics superstar. Tom King is a comics superstar. Only one of them turns in anything like a “superstar” effort on this book, though — and it’s not the writer. This Poison Ivy story is a complete waste, but damn, is it gorgeous to look at. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass
Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #3 (DC)** – Mark Russell and Mike Feehan serve up what is as essentially a perfect stand-alone comic — smack dab in the middle of a six-issue miniseries. Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, Joe Franklin — all captured perfectly in a truly amazing, lavishly-illustrated story. So why am I not giving this comic a 10? Because Brandee Stilwell and Guz Vazquez’ “Sasquatch Detective” back-up feature isn’t just bad, it’s downright embarrassing. I wouldn’t have signed my name to this shit if I was involved with it in any way, shape, or form. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy
Gideon Falls #1 (Image)** – Folks had been waiting for the debut of this Jeff Lemire/Andrea Sorrentino horror series with baited breath, but one issue in it’s rather difficult to get a feel for. Certainly the art is amazingly rich and dark and atmospheric, but it’s difficult to see how the two main storylines tie in with each other, and the character of the fictitious town itself — a very important factor, you’d think, given its name is also the comic’s title — really isn’t established much at all, which is surprising (and disappointing) given that establishing a strong sense of place is a Lemire trademark going all the way back to “Essex County.” I dunno, I’ll stick with this a bit longer to see where it goes, but there’s not much to grab you in this opening salvo. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Read if you’re a fan of these creators, otherwise pass.
Spread #25 (Image)** – Justin Jordan and John Bivens welcome back original artist/co-creator Kyle Strahm for the final issue of this post-apocalyptic/Cronenbergian take on “Lone Wolf And Cub,” and while the conclusion is in no way surprising, it is good, and leaves things on a satisfying note. Folks who’ve been reading this from the start, like myself, will find nothing to complain about here. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy
Giant Days #36 (BOOM!)– Even though John Allison and Max Sarin conclude the overarching plot of Daisy, Esther, and Susan all going to separate housing after two years together at university in Giant Days #36, the real headliner is Daisy’s breakup with Ingrid. A super wound tight English girl and (a little too) free spirit German girl made for a great meet cute, but this relationship definitely had an expiration date. Sarin’s art and Whitney Cogar’s colors do a fantastic job of showing both the pain and comedy of a breakup including a full page where Daisy moves two inches in a week and Daisy just wrecking things. There’s a subplot with Esther trying harder at school, but it takes a backseat to the high drama of a first breakup that turns slightly nefarious on a final page. Daisy is a little worse for wear, but Allison and Sarin have made her grown up so much since she was a youthful recluse in the early arcs of Giant Days. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy
Shade the Changing Woman #1 (DC/Young Animal)– Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, and Kelly Fitzpatrick jump ahead a few years in Shade the Changing Woman #1 with Shade coming to terms with her new human body and being emotionally connected to every war, famine, and disease in the world. Luckily, Rac Shade, who seems to be playing a more important role in this new series, is there to guide her with poetic advice and a seriously groovy palette from Fitzpatrick. This book runs the gamut from relatable, slice of life situation like Shade getting in trouble with her old friend River’s college RA for staying over too long to philosophical dreamscapes. However, Castellucci and Zarcone hit a note of real world relevance towards the end of the comic with the introduction of an ICE-like organization who is trying to deport aliens from Earth. It looks like Shade the Changing Woman will have a compelling internal and external conflict going forward plus the fantastic visuals of the last series. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack #6 (Boom!)** – What can I say about this that I haven’t said already? This series is ridiculously fun on every level: in this issue I particularly loved the idea of Lo Pan and Jack, in their separate battles, going “What would the other guy do?”. Where so many other comics are over-plotted to the point of being stifling, this one feels freewheeling and improvised, like writers John Carpenter & Anthony Burch and artist Jorge Corona are just trying to crack each other up. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
I Hate Fairyland #17 (Image)** – While it’s nice to see Duncan Dragon again, this issue feels like a placeholder in a series trying to regain its footing and mojo. Still, any time you can get an issue full of Skottie Young art is a good time – and hey, when is the Fairyland Monster Manual coming out anyway? Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy
Koschchei the Deathless #3 (Dark Horse)** – Hellboy’s reaction to Koschchei’s tale about sums it up: “You know that most of that first part was already pretty dark, right?” Turns out that what I thought would be the story for the entire 6-issue series is only the beginning, and Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck take it somewhere even darker. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).