Tag Archives: Comics

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2020

2020 definitely felt like a year where I embraced comics in all their different formats and genres from the convenient, satisfying graphic novella to the series of loosely connected and curated one shots and even the door stopper of an omnibus/hardcover or that charming webcomic that comes out one or twice a week on Instagram. This was partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down comics’ traditional direct market for a bit so I started reviewing webcomics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels and nonfiction even after this supply chain re-opened. I also co-hosted and edited two seasons of a podcast about indie comics where we basically read either a trade every week for discussion, and that definitely meant spending more time with that format. However, floppy fans should still be happy because I do have a traditional ongoing series on my list as well as some minis.

Without further ado, here are my favorite comics of 2020.

Marvels Snapshots: X-Men #1 – But Why Tho? A Geek Community

10. Marvels Snapshots (Marvel)

Curated by original Marvels writer Kurt Busiek and with cover art by original Marvels artist Alex Ross, Marvels Snapshots collects seven perspectives on on the “major” events of the Marvel Universe from the perspectives of ordinary people from The Golden Age of the 1940s to 2006’s Civil War. It’s cool to get a more character-driven and human POV on the ol’ corporate IP toy box from Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway exploring Namor the Submariner’s PTSD to Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Benjamin Dewey showing the real reason behind Johnny Storm’s airhead celebrity act. There’s also Mark Russell and Ramon Perez’s take on the classic Captain America “Madbomb” storyline, Barbara Kesel’s and Staz Johnson’s sweet, Bronze Age-era romance between two first responders as the Avengers battle a threat against the city, and Saladin Ahmed and Ryan Kelly add nuance to the superhuman Civil War by showing how the Registration Act affects a Cape-Killer agent as well as a young elemental protector of Toledo, Ohio, who just wants to help his community and do things like purify water. However, the main reason Marvels Snapshots made my “favorite” list was Jay Edidin and Tom Reilly‘s character-defining work showing the pre-X-Men life of Cyclops as he struggles with orphan life, is inspired by heroes like Reed Richards, and lays the groundwork for the strategist, leader, and even revolutionary that appears in later comics.

9. Fangs (Tapas)

Fangs is cartoonist Sarah Andersen’s entry into the Gothic romance genre and was a light, funny, and occasionally sexy series that got me through a difficult year. Simply put, it follows the relationship of a vampire named Elsie and a werewolf named Jimmy, both how they met and their life together. Andersen plays with vampire and werewolf fiction tropes and sets up humorous situations like a date night featuring a bloody rare steak and a glass of blood instead of wine, Jimmy having an unspoken animosity against mail carriers, and just generally working around things like lycanthropy every 28 days and an aversion to sunlight. As well as being hilarious and cute, Fangs shows Sarah Andersen leveling up as an artist as she works with deep blacks, different eye shapes and textures, and more detailed backgrounds to match the tone of her story while not skimping on the relatable content that made Sarah’s Scribbles an online phenomenon.

8. Heavy #1-3 (Vault)

I really got into Vault Comics this year. (I retroactively make These Savage Shores my favorite comic of 2019.) As far as prose, I mainly read SF, and Vault nicely fills that niche in the comics landscape and features talented, idiosyncratic creative teams. Heavy is no exception as Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter tell the story of Bill, who was gunned down by some mobsters, and now is separated from his wife in a place called “The Wait” where he has to set right enough multiversal wrongs via violence to be reunited with her in Heaven. This series is a glorious grab bag of hyperviolence, psychological examinations of toxic masculinity, and moral philosophy. Heavy also has a filthy and non-heteronormative sense of humor. Donovan and Peter bring a high level of chaotic energy to the book’s visuals and are game for both tenderhearted flashbacks as well as brawls with literal cum monsters. In addition to all this, Bemis and Donovan aren’t afraid to play with and deconstruct their series’ premise, which is what makes Heavy my ongoing monthly comic.

Amazon.com: Maids eBook: Skelly, Katie, Skelly, Katie: Kindle Store

7. Maids (Fantagraphics)

Writer/artist Katie Skelly puts her own spin on the true crime genre in Maids, a highly stylized account of Christine and Lea Papin murdering their employers in France during the 1930s. Skelly’s linework and eye popping colors expertly convey the trauma and isolation that the Papins go through as they are at the beck and call of the family they work almost 24/7. Flashbacks add depth and context to Christine and Lea’s characters and provide fuel to the fire of the class warfare that they end up engaging in. Skelly’s simple, yet iconic approach character design really allowed me to connect with the Papins and empathize with them during the build-up from a new job to murder and mayhem. Maids is truly a showcase for a gifted cartoonist and not just a summary of historical events.

6. Grind Like A Girl (Gumroad/Instagram)

In her webcomic Grind Like A Girl, cartoonist Veronica Casson tells the story of growing up trans in 1990s New Jersey. The memoir recently came to a beautiful conclusion with Casson showing her first forays into New York, meeting other trans women, and finding a sense of community with them that was almost the polar opposite of her experiences in high school. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Veronica Casson’s art style during different periods of her life from an almost Peanuts vibe for her childhood to using more flowing lines, bright colors, and ambitious panel layouts as an older teen and finally an adult. She also does a good job using the Instagram platform to give readers a true “guided view” experience and point out certain details before putting it all together in a single page so one can appreciate the comic at both a macro/micro levels. All in all, Grind Like A Girl is a personal and stylish coming of age memoir from Veronica Casson, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

5. Papaya Salad (Dark Horse)

Thai/Italian cartoonist Elisa Macellari tells an unconventional World War II story in Papaya Salad, a recently translated history comic about her great uncle Sompong, who just wanted to see the world. However, he ended up serving with the Thai diplomatic corps in Italy, Germany, and Austria during World War II. Macellari uses a recipe for her great uncle’s favorite dish, papaya salad, to structure the comic, and her work has a warm, dreamlike quality to go with the reality of the places that Sampong visits and works at. Also, it’s very refreshing to get a non-American or British perspective on this time in history as Sampong grapples with the shifting status of Thailand during the war as well as the racism of American soldiers, who celebrate the atomic bomb and lump him and his colleagues with the Japanese officers, and are not shown in a very positive light. However, deep down, Papaya Salad is a love story filled with small human moments that make life worth living, like appetizing meals, jokes during dark times, and faith in something beyond ourselves. It’s a real showcase of the comics medium’s ability to tell stories from a unique point of view.

4. Pulp (Image)

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (with colorist Jacob Phillips) are two creators whose work has graced my “favorite comics” list many times. And this time they really outdid themselves with the graphic novella Pulp about the final days of Max Winters, a gunslinger-turned-Western dime novelist. It’s a character study peppered with flashbacks as Phillips and Phillips use changes in body posture and color palette to show Max getting older while his passion for resisting those who would exploit others is still intact. Basically, he can shoot and rob fascists just like he shot and robbed cattle barons back in the day. Brubaker and Phillips understand that genre fiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is informed by the historical context around it, which is what makes Pulp such a compelling read. If you like your explorations of the banality of evil and creeping specter of fascism with heists, gun battles, and plenty of introspection, then this is the comic for you.

3. My Riot (Oni Press)

Music is my next favorite interest after comics so My Riot was an easy pick for my favorite comics list. The book is a coming of age story filtered through 1990s riot girl music from writer Rick Spears and artist Emmett Helen. It follows the life of Valerie, who goes from doing ballet and living a fairly conservative suburban life to being the frontwoman and songwriter for a cult riot girl band. Much of this transformation happens through Helen’s art and colors as his palette comes to life just as Valerie does when she successfully calls out some audience members/her boyfriend for being sexist and patronizing. The comic itself also takes on a much more DIY quality with its layouts and storytelling design as well as how the characters look and act. My Riot is about the power of music to find one’s identify and true self and build a community like The Proper Ladies do throughout the book. Valerie’s arc is definitely empowering and relatable for any queer kid, who was forced to conform to way of life and thinking that wasn’t their own.

2. Getting It Together #1-3 (Image)

I’ll let you in on a little secret: slice of life is my all-time favorite comic book genre. So, I was overjoyed when writers Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, artist Jenny D. Fine, and colorist Mx. Struble announced that they were doing a monthly slice of life comic about a brother, sister, and their best friend/ex-boyfriend (respectively) set in San Francisco that also touched on the gay and indie music scene. And Getting It Together definitely has lifted up to my pre-release hype as Grace and Spahi have fleshed out a complex web of relationships and drama with gorgeous and occasionally hilarious art by Fine and Struble. There are gay and bisexual characters all over the book with different personalities and approaches to life, dating, and relationships, which is refreshing too. Grace, Spahi, and Fine also take some time away from the drama to let us know about the ensemble cast’s passions and struggles like indie musician Lauren’s lifelong love for songwriting even if her band has a joke name (Nipslip), or her ex-boyfriend Sam’s issues with mental health. I would definitely love to spend more than four issues with these folks.

1. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott (Avery Hill)

My favorite comic of 2020 was The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott , a debut graphic novel by cartoonist Zoe Thorogood. The premise of the comic is that Billie is an artist who is going blind in two weeks, and she must come up with some paintings for her debut gallery show during that time period. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott boasts an adorably idiosyncratic cast of characters that Thorogood lovingly brings to life with warm visuals and naturalistic dialogue as Billie goes from making art alone in her room to making connections with the people around her, especially Rachel, a passionate folk punk musician. The book also acts as a powerful advocate for the inspirational quality of art and the act of creation. Zoe Thorogood even creates “art within the art” and concludes the story with the different portraits that Billie painted throughout her travels. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott was the hopeful comic that I needed in a dark year and one I will cherish for quite some time as I ooh and aah over Thorogood’s skill with everything from drawing different hair styles to crafting horrific dream sequences featuring eyeballs.

Those Two Geeks Episode Eighty Seven: Captain Ginger and I Was The Cat

Alex is without Joe this week and talks to himself about Captain Ginger and I Was The Cat, two cat themed comics that he read this week from 2018 and 2015 respectively.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Underrated: I Was the Cat

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: I Was The Cat

I don’t know how I missed this book when it first came out, and after having a conversation with the owner of my LCS, it turns out she wasn’t entirely sure how she missed it either. I Was The Cat is an autobiographical tale about a cat who has, through his various lives, lived thousands of years through history trying (and failing) multiple times to take over the world.

Burma, the cat in question, can talk. And seems to be an incredibly wise and influential animal who wants the world to know his story. To that end he invites Allison Breaking to begin writing his memoirs so that he can reveal to the world just who he is… and that it’s totally normal that a can had been trying to take over the world across centuries, and failing every time because… well because he’s a bloody cat.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is how Paul Tobin structures so many different tales within Burma’s history, and never once explains how Burma can change his appearance with ease – it lends the character a mystical aspect that’s never really explored, and I think the story is strong for that because this book is what Burma wants to tell us, not a historical accounting of his accomplishments.

Yes, I am aware that Burma is fictional.

I Was The Cat is probably one of the most interesting comics/graphic novels I have read in some time; it’s an engaging and entirely light hearted affair with only a handful of gorier moments (in a story set across history, there’s a lot that’s alluded to, but only one real moment where you see an animal get injured, and it’s such an ordinary occurrence that you’re going to wonder what kind of person you are that it doesn’t really phase you.

Perhaps one of my favourite things about the book is how Tobin gently critiques our current society through the eyes of a cat. It’s amusing without being deeply hilarious, and yet just unsettling enough to make you really think when you close the final page. Burma is easily one of the most interesting feline characters in comics, and I’d love to read more, but at the same time, this is a complete story and it doesn’t need a sequel.

This came out in 2015 or so, and went far below my radar for several years. It’s a lot of fun – and that’s why it’s a great candidate for today’s Underrated column. Check it out if you ever get a chance.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 10/17

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.


Rorschach #1 (DC/Black Label)– First, I have to give kudos to Tom King for digging into the “pirate comics” of Watchmen and their creators. Also, to Jorge Fornes for working with a 12 panel grid and not just a 9 panel one. But, it’s safe to say that Rorschach #1 was a snooze of a read. There are some interesting ideas floating around like eccentric superhero collectors, actual real world comics creators doing seances, and political rivalries, but King and Fornes fail at giving readers a character to latch onto for future issues. They riff and tease, but don’t really do anything with the venerable Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons source material. Plain and simple, Rorschach #1 is boring, not controversial, and honestly, that’s worse in my book. Overall: 5.0 Verdict: Pass

The Vain #1 (Oni Press)– Eliot Rahal, Emily Pearson, and Fred Stresing turn in a funny, sexy 1940s riff on vampire stories in The Vain #1. Rahal and Pearson give the four leads a shit ton of charisma and big queer energy as they cross the United States stealing blood and finding a place where they can live the good life. This is in contrast with the milquetoast FBI agent trying to track them down. Vampires robbing banks is a fun enough premise, but the conclusion of issue one reveals this series’ real, historically connected premise. And it’s even better. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Grendel, Kentucky #2 (AWA/Upshot)**- Grendel, Kentucky #2 has visually striking art and letters from Tommy Lee Edwards and John Workman, but Jeff McComsey’s script is a bit sluggish. More so, since this comic is set to wrap up in two more issues. McComsey and Edwards establish the scale and frightening nature of the monster on the outskirts of the motorcycle club/weed baron’s land, mostly, through the effects of his actions. There’s some half-assed X-Files stuff with police investigating the patriarch Clyde’s death and a cast of supporting characters that are introduced and immediately offed. Edwards’ visuals definitely transport Beowulf to Appalachia (Sadly, the drug the family would sell/produce would be meth or heroin, not weed though.), but there isn’t much of a story to go with them. Overall: 6.0 Verdict: Pass

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1 (Marvel)– This was my first experience with anything Warhammer 40K-related, and Marneus Calgar #1 was a definitely accessible take on this popular franchise from Kieron Gillen and Jacen Burrows. They introduce a totally dystopian world with big combat armor, buckets of blood, frightening monsters, lots of religious references, and dark humor around the edges. (I chuckled every time they mentioned certain planets’ life expectancy.) Plotwise, Marneus Calgar #1 is part origin story, part cosmic horror tale showing the titular character’s rise from rich kid to hardened Ultramarine. As a newcomer to the world, I liked the focus on a singular character. Finally, I would be remiss without praising Burrows’ versatile art as he nails everything from the details of weapons to some space marines-in-training’s joyful, yet terrified reactions to their beyond-hard-ass drill instructor’s sayings. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Hellions #5 (Marvel)– Hellions #5 throws a spanner in the fetch quest-y works of the X of Swords crossover. Zeb Wells and Carmen Carnero set Mr. Sinister and his Hellions (With a newly grumpy and resurrected Empath) on a suicide mission to retrieve all the swords and avoid the tournament with Arakko. The utter dysfunctionality and eccentricity of the team has made Hellions an entertaining read, and the higher stakes of X of Swords brings it to another level. Mr. Sinister constantly commenting on cuts of capes will never not be hilarious, and he and the team get to match wits with Jamie Braddock in this issue. With the exception of a gross resurrection scene in the beginning, Hellions #5 is more backstabbing and blackmailing than out and out violence. But that’s okay because Carnero is great at showing the quick glances, side eyes, and groans from more upright characters like Psylocke and Havok that fill this darkly funny and downright hopeless take on the typical fantasy quest narrative. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy

New Mutants #13 (Marvel)– Doug Ramsey already has his sword (It’s his buddy, Warlock) so Ed Brisson and the always impressive Rod Reis spend this issue looking at his fears about participating in the tournament as well as his relationships with Magik, Warlock, and Krakoa. The sparring sessions between Magik and Doug have a wonderful energy to them while still showing that Doug’s skill will always be with languages and not combat. Reis uses a welcoming, green palette to show the close relationship between Krakoa and Doug and demonstrate that the mutants would go from being in harmony to basically parasites if he was to die in the tournament. Brisson also continues some of the scheming from Hellions as Exodus is skeptical both about Sinister’s mission and Doug’s chances in the tournament. All in all, New Mutants #13 is a strong character study for one of the most underrated mutants and has gorgeous art, especially when Reis evokes Bill Sienkiewicz in his depiction of Warlock. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Cable #5 (Marvel)– In Cable #5, Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto send the Summers family to space to deal with a figure of cosmic terror that has wiped out all of SWORD agents at The Peak space station. There’s a chance for Noto to flex his horror muscles, some family bonding, and lots of various types of energy blasts. Also, Scott gets to have some important conversations with Cable about how maybe he’s too inexperienced to wield a sword in the upcoming tournament. So far, everything in both love and war has gone Cable’s way, and it seems like Duggan is setting him or his family up for a big setback in the upcoming tournament. You know something’s off when Cyclops is utterly confident. Even though this comic has a very “side quest” vibe to it, Duggan and Noto do succeed in creating some tension for the upcoming tournament and showing that Jonathan Hickman doesn’t totally have the market cornered on the Summerses. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: 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 (**).

Rick and Morty are Worlds Apart in 2021

Oni Press and Lion Forge have announced a brand-new Rick and Morty comic miniseries— Rick and Morty: Worlds Apart, coming February 2021.

Based on the hit series and Emmy-winning fourth season of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty™, it’s going to get crazy for the Smiths and Rick Sanchez as new favorite characters collide in Rick and Morty: Worlds Apart. Catch the outrageous Balthromaw and his band of dragon adventurers in an all-new, tantalizing adventure where only Morty can save them. And when Teddy Rick shows up and ruins Rick’s ultimate vacation plan, no one is safe!

The four-part miniseries will feature the creative team of Josh Trujillo, Tony Fleecs, Jarrett Williams, Leonardo Ito, and Crank! They’ll bring to life, including perhaps the kinkiest team of super-villains to ever grace a comic-book page!

Rick and Morty: Worlds Apart joins other Rick and Morty comics as they hit the shelves in 2021, including new issues in the Rick and Morty Presents series, Rick and Morty: Ever After, and more.

Rick and Morty: Worlds Apart is slated to launch February 3, 2021.

Rick and Morty: Worlds Apart

Review: The Vain #1

The Vain #1

The concept of a bunch of individuals robbing blood banks intrigues me. The idea is clearly vampire-related but how it’d spin out of the basic idea, it could go in many directions. The fact writer Eliot Rahal is the writer, it instantly becomes one for me to check out. The combination of the two, I’m all in. The Vain #1 is such a comic and… it’s not what I expected at all.

Rahal has written some awesome comics like The Paybacks, Quantum & Woody, and a whole lot more. He’s a writer that I will immediately check out what’s being released. The genres Rahal has dipped in to has varied but generally fall into the action category with a nice dash of humor. The Vain #1 feels like something a bit different for me. The story revolves around four vampires who travel around the country robbing blood banks. It also follows the FBI agent investigating their crimes. Did I mention it takes place in 1941?

The Vain #1 is a period piece vampire story. Yeah, I missed some of that leading up to me reading the comic. And, it’s all good as Rahal delivers a really interesting debut. What I particularly like about this start is, where it begins is definitely not where it ends. The direction the series will likely go is unexpected and not as simple as cops vs. robbers. And that’s a good thing! Rahal does a solid job of delivering layers and twists to known genres and tropes and it looks like he’s going to do something similar here.

Rahal is joined by Emily Pearson on art. Fred Stresing and Macy Kahn handle the colors while Crank! does the lettering. I can’t comment on the outfits and designs of the time. I don’t know it well enough to talk accuracy. But, it felt like the 1940s to me, so the art team does a solid job of sucking in readers in that way. There’s also a great job of mixing the supernatural and the more grounded aspects.

With vampires, things can lean heavily in gore as blood is drained and they seek their victims. Here, the gore is minimized and used to surprise and shock. Most importantly it makes sense for the story. A bunch of robbers who splash blood all over will attract a very different investigation than robbers who don’t. That aspect is clearly thought out and even hinted at. The lack of gore becomes an aspect to the story which is interesting. It also forces the creative team to explore different aspects of the characters than the fact they’re just vampires. It’s done here in their design and sexuality and the comic delivers some solid visual details like reactions to the latter aspect.

The Vain #1 is not what I expected at all. I really thought the comic would be a more cut and dry cops and robbers story. It just so happens the robbers are vampires and the targets are blood banks. The setting and where the comic goes surprised me in a good way and has me wanting to come back. Rahal is known for delivering twists and different takes on popular genres and it looks like we might be getting some more of that here.

Story: Eliot Rahal Art: Emily Pearson
Color: Fred C.Stresing Color Assistant: Macy Kahn Letterer: Crank!
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonZeus Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Commanders in Crisis #1

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.

Commanders in Crisis #1 (Image Comics) – The last survivors of the Multiverse live among us under new, superheroic identities, five survivors of doomed worlds…taking a second chance to ensure our world lives on. Our review was a glowing one, you can check it out here.

Concrete Jungle #1 (Scout Comics) – A rogue telepath hijacks minds to commit crimes. The conept just sounds awesome.

Rorschach #1 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – If you’re a fan of crime/noir comics, this is a must. Forget the Watchmen tie-in, it’s just a solid start to a crime mystery.

Seven Secrets #3 (BOOM! Studios) – The series has a been a lot of fun so far. The first two issues were not what we were expecting so very interested in seeing where this all goes.

Strange Adventures #6 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – This issue is the best of the series so far. There’s some raw discussions here about being a parent as we learn more about the death of Adam Strange’s daughter and Mr. Terrific’s wife and unborn child.

Vain #1 (Oni Press) – Eliot Rahal is an amazing writer and we’re here for anything new from him. Add in Emily Pearson on art and we’re beyond excited for this new series about a robbery at a blood bank.

Villainous #1 (Mad Cave Studios) – A new superhero is working with her idols but her dreams turn to nightmares and she has to make a choice about standing with heroes or becoming… villainous.

Warhammer 40K: Marneus Calgar #1 (Marvel) – The world of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 comes to Marvel. A solid start that’s good for long-time fans of the property and new readers.

We Live #1 (AfterShock) – If you’re not in tears by the end of the issue, you have no heart. Just a heart-wrenching sci-fi series.

Yasmeen #3 (Scout Comics) – One of the best comics out there, it explores a young woman dealing with the trauma of being tortured by ISIS as she attempts to get settled in the United States.

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 9/12

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.

Joe Hesh

Amazing Spider-Man #48 (Marvel) It doesn’t matter how many issues or how many volumes, one thing remains: Peter Parker is still Peter Parker. That means Peter Parker is Spider-Man. This issue dealt with Peter frontline and all his tremendous guilt and weight he carries with him. He is in constant battle between his wants and his morals. He wants to make the right choice always but the right choice is never easy. His conundrum? Does he let his old foe The Sin Eater who has returned from the dead with a holy crusade using new powers to clear sins away, cleanse Peter’s greatest enemy: The Green Goblin aka Iron Patriot aka Director of SWORD aka The Red Goblin aka Norman Osborn, or does he save Norman from this fate? Issues like this make me love Spider-Man so much. He really is the worlds most altruistic hero. No matter how much pain you put him through or what you take from him, he is always unwaivering in his principles. Peter leans on his web friends for some internal guidance and it is here the issue shines. Miles, Gwen, Spider-Woman all take a stab at the Parker psyche and we get some very cool and fun moments. If you’re a long time reader you have a good idea on what Peter’s choice is and thats where the fun begins leading us right into the big 850th issue next. Art chores were done by the amazing Mark Bagley and the scribe was Nick Spencer who is finally making Spidey something worth reading again. All the while here I’m waiting for something Goblin to come. Next issue should be a blast. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman: Three Jokers #1 (DC) We’ve waited so long for this one and wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. It did not disappoint. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work with three possible Jokers and what not. I thought some multiverse shenanigans or such but after reading this, I think not. The story plays out brilliantly pacing all kinds of lush character developments at the same time as a jog down memory lane. The Joker has always been so fascinating as there is so many interpretations of him. I’ve always been a fan of Grant Morrisons metamorphosis portrayal where he amps up to meet whatever Batman is putting out at the time. In other words the better Batman is, the worse Joker becomes. However after reading this and a very different direction my thoughts might change. I know we are only on issue one but this could be the story of the year for me. An all around gorgeous presentation. Speaking of which, the art. The freaking art man. It’s breathtaking.  I know Jason Fabok might have started as a Jim Lee clone but to me, he has surpassed Lee. The line work, the difference of character design, the bombastic large fight scenes, it is really too impressive to quantify. Now Geoff Johns the man who has brought us the best and worst DC has to offer (I.E. Green Lantern and Infinite Crisis) he crushes it this time. Right out the gate, grand slam on first pitch. I don’t know where he is going with this yet, but I cannot wait. Not only does he handle the mystery well but he gives Jason and Barbara some of the best character work they’ve had in years. I loved it. So if you weren’t planning to read this book, you better change that. Canon or no canon this is an amazing story. Don’t sleep on it, lest a stray crowbar wake you to your senses. Score: 9.8 Reccomendation: Buy


Vampire the Masquerade #2 (Vault)- In Tim Seeley and Devmalya Pramanik’s A-story, most of the big plot points are dashed out via exposition, but the real draw is the relationship between Cecilia and her vampire “childe” (She was sired and left for dead actually) Ali. They demonstrate that the life of a vampire in this world is full of moral dilemmas and bureaucracy in contrast with the pure survival instincts of the Anarchs in Tini Howard, Blake Howard, and Nathan Gooden’s backup story. Pramanik’s art and Addison Duke’s soul-searing color really get into Ali’s head as she makes her first kill while Seeley’s dry, clinical dialogue for Cecilia nicely unwraps the moral implications of her action. Vampire Masquerade is definitely a slow burner, but Cecilia and Ali are a great duo to build this story around. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Aggretsuko #6 (Oni Press)– The first volume of Aggretsuko wraps up with a competition-driven story from Black Mage’s Daniel Barnes and DJ Kirkland with the employees at Retsuko’s office competing for 1 day of PTO in various sports. Kirkland’s video game and manga influences come to the forefront especially in a couple climactic events straight out of Slam Dunk or Mario Kart. He does this all while staying on-model and pumping up the energy and emotion. Barnes’ script is creative and full of trash talk, and he throws in some fun moments featuring the fan-favorite relationship between Retsuko and Haida making it integral to the main story. Aggretsuko #6 is an enjoyable supplement to the Netflix anime series and kind of is a vision of the show if it was a 22 episode American-style sitcom instead of a tightly focused 10 episode one. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #12 (Marvel)– After all the shit she’s gone through, Marauders #12 is a pure celebration of Kitty Pryde, her friendships and relationships with various X-Men, her revenge, and also her finally coming out as bisexual via smooching a tattoo artis tafter decades of speculation and subtext. Writer Gerry Duggan takes a beat in his “Kill Shaw” plot to have Kitty enjoy life with Lockheed permanently snuggled up on her neck, and artist Matteo Lolli’s old school art style that reminded me of Paul Smith or Howard Chaykin is perfect for this kind of character-driven story. They deal with the implications of the resurrection process while also showing Kitty’s comfort with certain characters like Magik, Storm, and Nightcrawler and discomfort with being the belle of the ball when all she wants to get is knuckle tats and vengeance. Marauders #12 re-establishes Kitty Pryde as the lead and heart of this series, and I’m rejuvenated and ready to see her take down Sebastian Shaw. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy


Dryfoot #1 (Mad Cave Studios) – The debut issue is interesting and fun about a bunch of kids who decide to rob a drug dealer in 1980s Miami. It’d be a bit more interesting if 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank hadn’t already tackled a similar idea and done it with a far better debut. Still, a nice diversion from other things out there. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Empyre: Aftermath Avengers #1 (Marvel) – The wedding celebration has a lot of solid moments and drama. But, the comic feels like it could have been a few pages in an expanded final issue. Its really goal is to set up the next major story arc and never quite feels completely satisfying for some reason. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Empyre: Fallout Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel) – The issue is very cute and potentially sets up a lot for the Fantastic Four. Out of the two Empyre follow up issues, this is the one to really pay attention to. It really feels like much more of an ending than the Avengers version. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marauders #12 (Marvel) – The art isn’t for me and I don’t get the tension at all. You know who killed Kate… so? It’d be one thing if it was a mystery but much like the whole concept of resurrection, the real drama is no longer there. Overall Rating: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

Rise of Ultraman (Marvel) – I don’t know the classic property at all so was excited to dive into the series. The first issue is fun and a nice build into the world. It also feels a little generic though. An entertaining comic and one I want to read the second issue but it’s not one I’m super excited about anymore. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Transformers: Galaxies #9 (IDW Publishing) – The series wraps up its latest arc delivering a nice morality tale. The focus is on self-determination and free will, a concept a bit deeper than robots than change into things. As usual the comic is more than meets the eye. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Vampire: The Masquerade #2 (Vault Comics) – The comic series continues to impress though might be a bit more enjoyable for those who really know the world. The exploration of choice when it comes to vampirism is an interesting one and there’s a bit of a Training Day vibe about the issue. This is a series to keep an eye on. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Web of Venom: Wraith #1 (Marvel) – There’s a solid western vibe about the issue. It also dives into Wraith’s history a bit which is nice for those who don’t know the character like myself. Still, it’s really a comic to just warn Eddie Brock that Knull is coming and set up King in Black. A must-read? No. But, an entertaining one. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

X-Factor #3 (Marvel) – The series continues to be a hell of a lot of fun and the return of Shatterstar has so much potential. This is an X comic that’s just full of winks, nods, and laughs and quickly rising to be the best of that corner of the Marvel Universe. Overall Rating: 8.5 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 (**).

SDCC 2020: Oni and Lion Forge’s Comic-Con@Home Panels

Wednesday, July 22

New Kids Comics from Eisner Award Publishers

5:00 – 6:00 PM PST | LINK to Panel

Jerry Craft (Class Act, New Kid) and Faith Erin Hicks (One Year at Ellsmere) join exciting comics artists Robin Ha (Almost American Girl), Derick Brooks (Bright Family), and Jonathan Hill (Odessa) in a discussion about new kids graphic novels. Moderated by Candice Mack (YALSA) and sponsored by the CBC Graphic Novel Committee.

New Kids Comics from Eisner Award Publishers

Saturday, July 25

Inspired: Personal Stories in Graphic Novels

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PST | LINK to Panel

Whether biography or memoir, the comics medium has proven to be one of the most compelling formats for personal stories of triumph and tragedy, with numerous books having shown up on the most prestigious of bestseller lists. However, personal triumphs don’t only have to find their way to the page through true life stories, and Oni Press hosts a conversation with creators whose work has both represented and been inspired by the lives behind them.
Join Oni Press creators Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer: A Memoir), Joel Christian Gill (Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence), and Katie Green (Lighter Than My Shadow) for an empowering discussion on therapeutic nature of the creative process. Moderated by Shawna Gore (Oni Press, editor).

Inspired: Personal Stories in Graphic Novels

Sunday, July 26th

Invader ZIM Conquers Everything!
with Oni Lion Forge Publishing Group and ABRAMS Books

2:00 – 3:00 PM PST | LINK to Panel

DOOOOOM! Celebrate Invader Zim with an exciting panel of authors and creators behind the most recent art books and comics from the hit series. Join author Chris McDonnell (The Art of Invader Zim, ABRAMS Books), Eric Trueheart (Invader Zim show and comics, Oni Press), Drew Rausch (Invader Zim #41, Oni Press), and Aaron Alexovich (Invader Zim show and comics, Oni Press) as they discuss the origins of the show, the creativity and originality that made it the cult classic it is today, and never-before-seen art from Invader Zim books and comics coming this summer, including the Invader Zim Quarterlies with Gir’s Big Day! Moderated by Jeff Spry (SYFY Wire).

Invader ZIM Conquers Everything!

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 6/6

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.


Aggretsuko #3 (Oni Press) – In Aggretsuko #3, a staff member (Fittingly named Karen.) from the company’s Canada office visits Retsuko’s job in Japan to see why their employees scored so low on a moral survey and to increase “workflow synergy”. Writer/artist Brenda Hickey expertly satirizes corporate speak, sticky notes, and outside consultants who babysit you all day so that you get no work done. However, as the story progresses, Hickey fleshes out the character of Karen and finds out that she and Retsuko have a lot in common, and she takes some of her feedback to not jump down everyone’s throats. This comic is cathartic for anyone who has had a terrible boss that has made them to do tasks unrelated to their job, and Hickey’s art has a great energy that fits into the show’s aesthetic. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Youth #4 (Comixology Originals) – Curt Pires, Alex Diotto, and Dee Cuniffe’s Youth wraps up with a bit of a bang and a bit of a whimper. Even though he’s a Nick Fury expy, Youth #4 shows how much a badass Thunder is as he survives being gutted by one of the posthumans and returns to wreak vengeance. This fits in with Diotto and Cunniffe’s visceral approach to superpowers with abilities having intense bodily effects on both their users and recipients. Probably, the best part of this comic is showing how River and Frank met and a conversation that shows that they really care about each other. There’s a bit of symbolism to one of the character’s names. The bad part of this comic is that the story and final battle feels rushed, and I feel like I don’t know the characters beyond River and Frank. Pires quickly adds powers to wrap up the story/set up the new one and superhero cliches like a secret hideout instead of subverting them. Frank does get some funny lines roasting his friends’ attempts at starting a super-team. It really seems like a story device to extend the run of the comic/upcoming Amazon Prime TV show instead of something organic and naturalistic. Overall: 6.8 Verdict: 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 (**).

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