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.
Kill or Be Killed #16 (Image)– A copycat vigilante is on the loose and causing all kinds of havoc plus there’s a real mind screw of an ending, but what Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser do best in Kill or Be Killed #16 is show the haze of being on medication. Dylan has come clean about the demon telling him to kill people so he gets put on meds to block out the voices in his head. Most of the issue is him stumbling about with Phillips tightening up his art when Dylan’s sense of justice returns. Even though he’s a murderer, Dylan thinks he’s better than the guy haphazardly running around shooting low level drug dealers and cops. The moral compass of the series continues to be shattered and adding the psych hospital elements is a nice wrinkle. Overall 8.6 Verdict: Buy
Archie #28 (Archie)– Full disclosure: I’m only still reading this title for Audrey Mok’s beautiful art as she and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick lends some energy Mark Waid and Ian Flynn’s repetitive slapstick gags and give Betty and Veronica sizzleworthy chemistry. It’s like Waid and Flynn don’t know what to write with the Betty/Veronica/Archie on ice for the time being. Some fun is coaxed out of Reggie’s pure villainy including being on his cellphone for an entire movie based on Archie’s Dark Circle comics and then spoiling the post credits scene. Overall: 6.7 Verdict: Read
Kick-Ass #1 (Image)– There’s a new Kick-Ass in town, and it’s not some annoying, immature nerdy kid. Patience is an Army vet whose husband ran off on her and left her in debt to the gangs who run her neighborhood. She wants to get the money back while also playing Robin Hood and giving some of it to the people who need it. Patience’s motivation might be practical, but John Romita Jr’s art is stylized as hell with action scenes that pack a punch. Mark Millar’s writing is a little more mature than the earlier Kick-Asses even if he paints things like poverty, racism, and terrorism with a very broad brush for an excuse to show a now-single mom kick bad guys in the balls. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Deadman #4 (DC)** – The brain-melting insanity from Neal Adams continues unabated, with the added bonus of the plot making as little sense as the dialogue at this point. To his credit, Adams is still capable of the occasional dynamic composition, but by and large his artistic prowess seems to be skewing toward finding a level with whatever writing ability he may possess (which, admittedly, isn’t much). All of which means this is about the most fun you’re gonna have reading a comic book this week. The absurdity is all right out in the open, not pretending to be anything else, and the idea of grown-ass adults putting on costumes to fight crime? It’s as absurd as it gets.Neal Adams cuts right through the layers of bullshit and denial super-hero fans have constructed around themselves and is creating work that explodes conventions by laying them bare. He may be doing it all by accident while actually trying his level best to create a “good” comic here, but some things leave the entire critical spectrum behind by dint of their sheer indifference to it. Adams is making comics for an audience of one — himself. You know who else they say that about? Genuine iconoclasts as varied as Gerald Jablonski, S. Clay Wilson, Chester Brown, and the late Jess Johnson — pretty good company to be in. Overall: 0. Recommendation: Buy. You did not read that wrong.
Grass Kings #12 (Boom! Studios)** – It feels like things are moving faster in Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ quiet-but-tense opus, and with the Feds about to rain down holy Hell on the so-called “Grass Kingdom,” the stakes are considerably raised. This series could use a stronger editor — Kindt’s scripting repeats words and phrases in short order and with poor rhythm, and points already made are frequently re-iterated — but that’s about the only gripe I’ve got, and Jenkins’ watercolor-infused art is more than enough to make up for any slack in the narrative act. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Slots #5 (Image/Skybound)** – Dan Panosian’s story of a down-on-his-luck prizefighter attempting an ill-advised comeback for dubious reasons had been flagging a bit over the last couple of issues, but with only one left to go, he rights the ship quickly and lines up all the pieces on his board for what promises to be a humdinger of a conclusion. I was getting a little nervous about this one, now I’m not. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy
Shade, The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1 (DC/Young Animal)** – The first few pages of this comic, which feature Wonder Woman laying around naked in a milk bath wearing a blindfold, should appeal to any number of fetishists out there, but beyond that the appeal of the issue quickly fades — the allegories about women fragmenting themselves into different roles that others “need” them to be, while certainly true, are here entirely too obvious and frankly not even clever, which sets the tone for an uncharacteristically predictable yarn from the usually-surprising Cecil Castellucci. I liked Mirka Andolofo’s art — hell, I liked it a lot — but, as with last week’s “Mother Panic/Batman Special,” it’s asked to stretch itself pretty think in order to pad what should be a standard-length story out by an extra 10 or 12 pages. I dunno, the whole “Milk Wars” thing was kinda fun at first, but my interest level is fading quickly. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass.
Dept H #23 (Dark Horse) With humanity’s hope riding on Mia, she puts things into perspective to put her mind off her limited air supply. Revealing what may be the cause of her father murder. Along with hinting at what may have caused the plot to murder her father began. Being subtle at who she believes is responsible both directly and indirectly. With only one issue remaining, will the full truth be revealed? Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
I Hate Fairyland #16 (Image)** – Gertie has gone to hell and is not having any of the devil’s muffin fluffing nonsense. So he sends her back home – in a sequence that, as a parent of a somewhat fussy eater, is terrifying and hilarious. I would actually have liked to see more of Gert and the devil squaring off – seeing Gert vulnerable and emotional is kind of off-putting. But as usual, Skottie Young’s art is stellar and well worth any story quibbles. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy.
Kill or be Killed #16 (Image)** – With a copycat vigilante on the loose in New York, Dylan’s claims to be the original while in Bellevue are met with heavy medication. I don’t know if anyone else has thought of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” meets “Death Wish” before but I am down with this. Ed Brubaker could go darker for my money (even though he is setting up some pretty dark stuff), but artists Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser continue to do brilliant work. Breitweiser’s colors here – muted grays and browns and institution green – are perfect. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Koshchei the Deathless #2 (Dark Horse)** – Mike Mignola continues the story of Baba Yaga’s hired man and his mission to rid the world of the last dragon. The folk tale style of the story really pleases me – even though we are on a definite quest, there are any number of interesting side tracks and they don’t all feed into the plot as such. But Mignola is such a good writer that as soon as we do get back to the main plot, things get intense very fast. Ben Stenbeck’s drawing perfectly straddles the line where realistic adventure and great monsters meet, and Dave Stewart’s colors capture the banality of a long walk through the woods and the brutality of dragon-fighting. Very entertaining. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Stray Bullets #32 (Image)** – Orson, Beth, and Nina have taken the money and run. But as Orson quickly points out, “We did all this robbing and stealing to be free, but we aren’t free at all, are we?” So Beth sends Orson back home to Baltimore. After checking on the motley crew we’d left behind, we settle in with Chandra from the strip club that started this whole ordeal. Predictably, there are drugs and fires. But in the end, Orson pulls one of his signature moves – what I now think of as Laphamian – a great idea that is also at the same time a terrible idea. Stray Bullets is all about terrible people trying to convince themselves otherwise by occasionally doing the right thing, and that’s just the way I like it. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Mage: the Hero Denied #6 (Image)** – As is by now usual, Kevin Matchstick does nothing but wait for signs and trails to follow. As a main character who is supposed to be the Pendragon, he is merely passive and reactive – which makes his wife Magda far and away the most dramatically interesting character in this series. Her quest for the Perfect Home is simple and clear, and the stakes – the lives and happiness of her children – are very high. More of this and less of Questing Beasts and the Fisher King until Kevin can actually figure out why he’s in this story. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Lazarus X+66 #6 (Image)** – In the final issue of this spinoff series, the Hunter goes to kill the Dragon aka The Zmey. As usual in the world of Lazarus, things are much more horrible than they initially appear to be – which is really saying something. Making this origin story a kind of Russian folktale is perfect for the utter brutality and fatalism involved, and Greg Rucka pulls it off nicely. I wasn’t thrilled Tristan Jones’ artwork here, something in the sketchiness of his lines muddied the storytelling for me, with all details given the same weight. But that Michael Lark cover! Very much looking forward to the return of the main series. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Star Wars Thrawn#1 (Marvel) In probably one of the better origin stories to come out of Marvel, we get one about Timothy Zahn’s most elusive villains. We meet Thrawn as squadron of Storm troopers, but unfortunate for him, he gets captured and has a proposal for the Emperor, one that is easily accepted. We soon see how manipulates everyone around him to gets what he wants. By issue’s end, he undertakes his 1st mission , one that will change his fortune. Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy
X-Men : Grand Design #1 and #2 (Marvel) I will keep this one short and not because this book is bad, in fact this book is pretty spectacular, but this book covers the whole history of the X-men and in probably the most enjoyable digestible version, asthese first 2 issues exemplifies the benefits of this type of compression combined with Pistons art knocks this out of the park. Overall: 10 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 (**).