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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 (**).

Haha is a Popular Joke as the Second Issue Goes Back to Print

Breakout success Haha by W. Maxwell Prince has sold out at the distributor level and is being rushed back to print this week in order to keep up with growing demand. Haha #2, second printing will feature new cover art by Zoe Thorogood and Good Old Neon.

Featuring his signature Ice Cream Man style of one-shot storytelling, Haha welcomes readers into the world of clowns—and he’s invited some of the comic industry’s top talent to join him for the ride.

Haha is a genre-jumping, throat-lumping look at the sad, scary, hilarious life of those who get paid to play the fool—but these ain’t your typical jokers.

With issues drawn by Vanesa Del Rey, Gabriel Walta, Roger Langridge, and more, Haha peeks under the big top, over the rainbow, and even inside a balloon to tell a wide-ranging slew of stories about “funny” men and women, proving that some things are so sad you just have to laugh.

Haha #2, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218667) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

Haha #2, second printing

Crossover Gets Two Issues Going Back to Print

The bestselling series Crossover by creative masterminds Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw with Dee Cunniffe and John. J. Hill sizzles with fan frenzy and both Crossover #1 and Crossover #3 will be rushed back to print in order to keep up with the unrelenting customer demand.

In Crossover #3, there are monsters and robots falling from the sky! Mysterious (and familiar??) superheroes joining our intrepid gang on their journey to event ground zero! The story continues with the series’ most explosive and shocking issue to date! Don’t miss this one, folks. If you do, it just might drive you… mad.

Crossover #1, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218668) and Crossover #3, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218669) will both be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

Stray Dogs Scratches an Itch with Readers and Gets a New Printing

Customers were on new series Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner yesterday like fleas on a wet hound and the debut issue of the new thriller mystery has sold out instantly upon release at the distributor. Image Comics is rushing the series back to print in order to keep up with the packs of fans barking for more.

Stray Dogs is a five issue, Don Bluth-style mystery/horror miniseries best described as Lady and the Tramp meets Silence of the Lambs.

It’s scary being the new dog. In this suspenseful new series, readers meet Sophie, a dog who can’t remember what happened. She doesn’t know how she ended up in this house. She doesn’t recognize any of these other dogs. She knows something terrible happened, but she just…can’t…recall…WAIT! Where’s her lady?

Stray Dogs #1, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218693) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

Stray Dogs #1, second printing

The Department of Truth Gets a Triple Sell-Out

The bestselling conspiracy theory thriller The Department of Truth by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds moves closer to total sales chart takeover with its second triple sell-out at the distributor and an accelerated order for reprints on issues #1, #4, and #5.

The series’ heat reached boiling point last week when it was announced that The Department of Truth has been picked up by picked up by Sister, best known for producing HBO’s Chernobyl. Tynion will co-write the script for what at this stage is intended to be developed as a series and both he and Simmonds will executive produce.

The unabated enthusiasm for the popular horror series is a phenomenon that continues after sales of over 100K copies at launch, and multiple previous reprints.

In The Department of Truth readers meet Cole Turner, a man who has studied conspiracy theories all his life—but never prepared to discover that all of them are true. From the JFK Assassination to Flat Earth Theory and Reptilian Shapeshifters, one organization has been covering them up for generations. What is the deep, dark secret behind the Department of Truth?

  • The Department of Truth #1, fourth printing (Diamond Code JAN218664) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.
  • The Department of Truth #2, second printing (Diamond Code OCT209300) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, January 13.
  • The Department of Truth #3, second printing (Diamond Code OCT209301) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, January 13.
  • The Department of Truth #4, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218666) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.
  • The Department of Truth #5, second printing (Diamond Code JAN218665) will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 24.

The Walking Dead Deluxe #13-18 Get New Printings with Dave Rapoza Connecting Covers

The landmark The Walking Dead Deluxe, which presents the Image Comics and Skybound series in full-color format for the first time, has brand new ​connecting variant covers for issues #13-18 by ​acclaimed illustrator Dave Rapoza.

Written by creator Robert Kirkman, with art by Charlie Adlard and colors by Dave McCaigThe Walking Dead Deluxe present the worldwide pop culture phenomenon like never before with new “Cutting Room Floor” commentary, revelations, pinups, and more from Kirkman celebrating the secret history of the series.

The new Rapoza ​connecting variant covers will be released in comic shops beginning in April:

  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #13 Cover D Rapoza(JAN218760) will be available at comic shops on Wednesday, April 21.
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #14 Cover C Rapoza (Diamond Code MAR210240) will be available at comic shops on Wednesday, May 5.
  • The Walking Dead Deluxe #15 Cover C Rapoza (Diamond Code MAR210243) will be available at comic shops on Wednesday, May 19.
The Walking Dead #13 to #18

Oblivion Song will End with Issue 36

Robert Kirkman confirmed the end of his apocalyptic comic book series Oblivion Song in the issue #30 letters page.

If you’ve been paying attention to the buildup of this story from arc to arc, you might have suspected that we were nearing a natural end point…and we are, issue #36 was always planned to be the final issue. When we conceived of this series, I thought of it as a trilogy of 12-issue arcs. Looking back, you can see the time jumps between #12 and #13, as well as #24 and #25, marked definitive chapter breaks along the way. That was by design.

Oblivion Song takes place in an apocalyptic Philadelphia and follows Nathan Cole as he attempts to rescue the citizens lost in Oblivion. The series is co-created by Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici, with Annalisa Leoni as colorist. Issue #31 hits stands this June, and the series will conclude with issue #36. The series is currently in development for a film adaptation at Universal.

Review: Two Moons #1

Two Moons #1
Two Moons #1

War is never short on metaphors for violence, especially in terms of being represented as something that is literally monstrous. John Arcudi and Valerio Giangiordano’s Two Moons #1 is very aware of this, but the monsters that populate their version of the American Civil War seem to have been called in to help carry some deeper metaphors into the story. Surprisingly enough, what makes it through is largely concerned with the violence that always seems to follow identity and assimilation.

Two Moons #1 introduces readers to Virgil Morris, born of the Pawnee Nation and originally given the name of Two Moons. Virgil is presented as an assimilated American, a man that left his roots behind only to see them come back to claim him. Virgil starts seeing monsters, spirits, and dead men who won’t stay quiet as he fights for the Union during the Civil War. The things he sees might be all in his head, but the comic is leaning hard on making them feel very real to him.

Arcudi and Giangiordano appear to be gearing up for a slow burn of a story centered on the resurgence of Virgil’s Pawnee heritage and how it intends to remind him of who he is and who he should be, that is if it’s proven that he can trust both the mystic aspects of his process and himself, for that matter.

Giangiordano illustrates the story’s version of America as a place that’s always thirsty for blood, a place that thrives in war. The characters are presented as forces of nature that, to an extent, make them look like walking manifestations of anger and violence. This extends to the overall setting of the story, which sticks mostly to the American wilderness. Locations come off as unwelcoming and uncooperative, as places eager to be turned into battlefields.

Two Moons #1’s script focuses on introducing Virgil’s struggle with his Pawnee identity to readers, but Arcudi also takes the opportunity to introduce another character that’s coming to terms with identity and what it means to be an outsider in America: Nurse Frances Shaw, an Irish immigrant.

Two Moons #1
Two Moons #1

Nurse Frances is forming her opinion on what America is and what it stands for during one of the most unstable and uncertain moments in its history. The soul of the nation was quite simply fractured. The idea that the Civil War was a bloody and merciless fight between brothers was something people were constantly reminded of.

Negotiating one’s identity in the midst of all this inviting chaos into one’s own sense of belonging. Arcudi’s script is approaching it in a smart and intriguing way. In addition, her inclusion in the story serves as a good counter balance to Virgil’s own journey.

And then there are the monsters and all the other things that roam the wild. Giangiordano imbues each creature design with a considerable amount of storytelling. There’s a lot one can learn about them just by scanning their bodies. On a side note, they also look like they could effectively work in a film adaptation of the comic through practical make-up effects. Their designs are nightmarish but strangely realistic. They’re instantly memorable.

Two Moons #1
Two Moons #1

Two Moons is a new series with a lot of promise. It’s in a position to offer an appropriately confrontational take on what makes an American and if it’s even possible to identify anyone as such. The art is exceptional and it takes command of the story in unexpected ways. The book welcomes questions, demands thought, and values different angles. Come ready into the story or it will sneak up on you with its dark intricacies.

Script: John Arcudi Art: Valerio Giangiordano Colors: Dave Stewart
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and dust off your old Civil War History books!

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

By the Horns

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Batman: Black & White #3 (DC Comics) – The series so far has been fantastic with a mix of creative voices and very different styles and takes on the classic character.

By the Horns #1 (Scout Comics) – Marisan Naso and Jason Muhr are back together for a new series about a woman on an act of murderous revenge against unicorns who trampled her husband.

Crossover #4 (Image Comics) – The series started off as “spot the comic reference” but it has shifted into an interesting story about xenophobia, immigration, and more.

Frank at Home on the Farm #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue was full of mystery and we’re excited to see where this series goes because we’re honestly not sure!

Girl Haven (Oni Press) – Koretris is a haven for girls where no men or boys are allowed. When Ash, a boy, is sent there by a spell a whole bunch of questions are raised. Read our review.

I Breathed a Body #2 (AfterShock) – The first issue was an intriguing mix of horror and commentary about social media and we want to see what else it has to say.

Kaiju Score #4 (AfterShock) – This heist comic during a Kaiju attack has been fun so far but how else can things go wrong and what other double-crosses are left? We want to find out!

Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 (Marvel) – An impressive group of creators come together for this themed anthology. We’re always fans of seeing how different creators handle characters and checking out new voices.

Nailbiter Returns #10 (Image Comics) – The second volume of the horror series wraps up and it’s a bloody doozy.

Nuclear Family #1 (AfterShock) – Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story Breakfast at Twilight, the series is Cold War era science fiction that we’re excited to read.

Paranormal Hitmen #1 (Behemoth Comics) – Two hitmen are hired by a Government agency to hunt and kill ghosts but also need to deal with the mobsters after them.

Savage Circus #3 (Heavy Metal) – The issue begins the pivot from the first two issues of setup getting ready for the action to come. It’s so great and entertaining, read our review!

Stray Dogs #1 (Image Comics) – A suspense thriller starring dogs!? Yeah, we’re intrigued by this one.

Two Moons #1 (Image Comics) – A Pawnee man fighting for the Union during the Civil War discovers horrors worse than combat.

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #5 (Marvel) – The miniseries wraps up as Calgar takes on the Chaos forces!

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