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.
Royal City #5 (Image)** – Jeff Lemire wraps up the first story arc of his long-form series with an issue that’s an almost unconscionably quick read given its $3.99 cover price, but the biggest blunder comes with the poorly-executed and clumsy double-cliffhanger, which actually serves up the most surprising revelation first and then follows it up with one that you already saw coming. Still, the art’s lush and beautiful, and the story at least moves all the major plotlines forward. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Winnebago Graveyard #2 (Image)** – The second issue of Steve Niles and Alison Sampson’s fast-moving homage to ’70s cult horror is every bit as masterful an evocation of its various “source materials” as was the first, and while you can predict every beat in the story, who are we kidding? That’s a big part of the charm here. Granted, as sparse as the script is chances are this thing should simply have been released as a 64-page special (or, if you absolutely must pump the public for cash, a graphic novel), but Sampson’s art is so flabbergastingly gorgeous that I’m more than happy to shell out for bucks a pop for it in singles. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Jimmy’s Bastards #2 (Aftershock)** – Garth Ennis and Russ Braun are the definition of a “known quantity” creative team at this point, and if you like their brand of irreverent, bordering-on-sick-and-wrong humor and cartoonishly exaggerated, but still very much grounded in reality, illustration, odds are you’ll get a kick out of this story about a James Bond stand-in being hunted down by his literally hundreds of illegitimate kids. Personally, I do like it, and so I’m having all kinds of guilty-pleasure fun here, especially since this issue kick-starts the plot into gear much better than the first did. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Batman #27 (DC)** – It seems pretty early on for “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” to need an “interlude,” as this issue bills itself as being, but whaddya know — once again Tom King shows that his stand-alone stories in this series are so much better than his long-form “arcs.” The origin of Kite-Man is far from the joke one would expect, and King deftly handles some very sensitive and tragic subject matter with genuine skill and compassion — and that double-splash with The Joker saying “good grief” is the biggest laugh we’ve gotten from any Batman book in decades. Fill-in artist Clay Mann, for his part, does a pretty nice job with a style of illustration that falls somewhere in between that of the the series’ two regulars, David Finch and Mikel Janin. All in all a great read that’s nice to look at. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
I Hate Fairyland #14 (Image)** – Skottie Young is back on story and art, sending Gert into the labyrinth of Loveth Lovelord to retrieve the Balls of Redemption. If she succeeds (naturally, defeating the dragon at the centre), she gets her wish to become good. If she fails, she marries the creeptastic LL. Along the way, she also makes any number of marriage deals and indeed faces a dragon. This issue just clocks along with a cocky skip in its step and is great, sour-candy fun. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Lazarus X+66 #1 (Image)** – This is the first in what I take to be a series of standalone issues that explore Greg Rucka’s very complex world. Good idea! In this story, Rucka and artist Steve Lieber deliver the story of Casey Solomon’s training to be an ultra-elite Dagger. It’s a very solid basic training story, and Lieber does a great job on the art, but if you didn’t know it existed in the Lazarusverse, you would think it was taking place in today’s mundane reality. In that sense, although it adds a bit to Casey’s story, it doesn’t follow through on the promise of exploring and expanding the world. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Bitch Planet Triple Feature #2 (Image)** – As I thought, the second issue of this anthology feature finds its feet: as Kelly Sue DeConnick points out, the tone is not “mercilessly bleak” but ROBOCOP. And I will always buy that for a dollar. Real quick: Che Grayson and Sharon Lee De La Cruz bring us the “Miss Tween Neck Competition” – but what price victory? And what other very precise anatomical competitions are also going on?… In “This is Good for You,” Danielle Henderson, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt make a very sharp link between “self-care,” “family values,” and “compliance.” And anchoring the pack, Jordan Clark and Naomi Franquiz’ “What’s Love Got To Do With it” brings us the story of Amaya, a nurse who, upon turning 30, needs to avoid the Old Maid Tax, receiving for her birthday a literal Biological Clock. This issue is the one you’ve been looking for, Kelly Sue. Overall: 6.5, 8, and 9. Recommendation: Buy
Bettie Page #1 (Dynamite)** – The premise is that we are reading the secret diary of Bettie Page, who in 1951, in exchange for a lift to Hollywood, became a federal agent. Writer David Avallone gives us a tough-as-nails, sharp-as-a-tack Bettie, and Colton Worley nicely captures her look. But otherwise, it’s a bog-standard story of a secret cult plot that takes way too long to develop and does not otherwise require the presence of its protagonist. When you have an iconic character on your hands, I think you can do a lot more with it. Mostly it made me want to go back and watch Mary Harron’s excellent Notorious Bettie Page. Well-made and professional but missing heart and spark. Overall: 7 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 (**).