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Preview: Stone Star Season 2 #4

Stone Star Season 2 #4

Written by Jim Zub
Art by Max Dunbar
Colored by Espen Grundetjern
Cover by Max Dunbar
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Purchase

The nomadic space station called Stone Star brings gladiatorial entertainment to ports across the galaxy. Inside this gargantuan vessel of tournaments and temptations, foragers and fighters struggle to survive. A young warrior named Dail has been drawn into the ring and is trying to prove himself in the Grand Arena, but there are forces on the station determined to see him destroyed as revenge for his father’s fighting legacy.

Stone Star is an action-adventure spectacle bursting with colorful characters and pulse-pounding action! Grab your weapons, gritters, and join the fray!

Stone Star Season 2 #4

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 2/20/2021

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

Future State: The Next Batman #4 (DC)– John Ridley, Nick Derington, and Laura Braga’s four part “Next Batman” serial concludes as one of the killers that Tim is trying to bring to justice turns on him. This cliffhanger is quickly resolved, and we’re onto a chase scene with a suburban instead of a Batmobile. Derington and Braga continue to be nimble with the action scenes picking interesting moments to focus on like the brake slam before the Peackeeper’s motorcycles come and using grids for hand to hand combat. Theme-wise, Ridley shows Fox’s struggles as Batman, especially with the no-killing rule, and that he has no friends among the GCPD before wrapping everything up with a strained, yet slightly tender family moment. Seeing a Batman who has a living family that thinks he’s a loser is an interesting dynamic, and I look forward to seeing more of it in the upcoming Tim Fox digital series“Batgirls” concludes with a glorious prison break story that also sets up the status quo in Future State Gotham going forward. Writer Vita Ayala uses time stamp captions based on the time of the prison riot started by Stephanie Brown to create tension and also show what’s going on in Cassandra Cain’s hacking/rescue mission. Aneke varies her layouts using double page spreads for the big prison brawl featuring Stephanie and various supervillains and using precise, diagram-style ones for Cass’ break in. And then she and Ayala spring the big emotional moment: a big reunion with Barbara Gordon aka Oracle that changes the tone of the whole story for good and shows that heroism can still exist even in a fascist state as they also show that the paradigm of hero/villain has changed in this new setting. “Batgirls” has excellent action, but Vita Ayala and Aneke especially nail the little reunion moments at the end between Steph and Cass and Oracle and a slightly too pragmatic Nightwing. They are a true dynamic duo and really understand the Bat-family’s relationship even in a dark, crappy futurePaula Sevenbergen, Emanuela Luppacino, and Wade von Grawbadger’s tonally all over the place “Gotham Sirens” wraps up with a mix of darkness and girl’s night out antics. This is a comic where a tech billionaire but the the consciousness of a dying teenage girl into his sex-bot and also one where the eggplant emoji is used to describe Bruce Wayne. Luppacino’s art captures the sparkling personalities of Selina, Poison Ivy, and Dee as well as the mayhem of the Peacemakers, but the story doesn’t know if it wants to be a fun romp or a serious story about consent, cyber ethics, and what it means to be human. It’s definitely the weak link of the bunch even though it has some fun ideas like Poison Ivy opening a speakeasy and talking about how she turns to cause instead of people because she’s afraid to get vulnerable. Sevenbergen definitely has a good handle on her character, but she makes the underdeveloped, plot device, borderline trauma porn original character Dee the focus of the story, which makes it less effective. Overall: 8.1 Verdict: Buy

Snow Angels #1 (Comixology Originals)– Jeff Lemire and Jock combine their storytelling sensibilities to tell the story of a dad and his two daughters, Milliken and Mae Mae, who live in a post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland called the Trench. This is a world where clouds cover the sky, children learn how to ice skate before walking, and folks cower in fear before the mysterious Snowman. Jock uses a lot of negative space to show the sheer bleakness of the landscape using pencil and ink to make wind, ice, and snow cover everything. During more tense scenes, like the hunting of a wolf, he adds reds and blacks to create tension and shifts to a more radiant palette when the dad gives Milliken a birthday present: a relic of the “before times”. He and Lemire have the task of establishing a world and a family dynamic, and they do that by having everything center around a coming of age hunt/road trip. It’s refreshing to see sibling squabbles still happening in the midst of the apocalypse, and Lemire’s skill combining interpersonal relationships in genre setting is a perfect fit for this comic. Throw in an air of mystery and a refreshing subversion of traditional gender roles in a society that is definitely in patriarchal, hunter gatherer mode, and Snow Angels #1 is a solid start to a series that fits in with my current icy, living-in-a-pandemic reality. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Barbalien: Red Planet #4 (Dark Horse)– Tate Brombal, Jeff Lemire, and Gabriel Walta look into the background of Luke/Barbalien’s lover, Miguel using grids and minimal captions to trace the life of this Puerto Rican activist, who has AIDS and lost his boyfriend to the virus. It gives context to his passion and creates distance between them when Luke tries to “come out” as Barbalien, which he eventually just does in a full page spread that comes after 17 pages of build-up. Also, Brombal goes after the Catholic Church in this issue and shows the homophobia and hatefulness of many Christian organizations (Especially at that time), and how they contributed to the stigma towards AIDS and HIV and hindered finding a cure or treatment for these diseases. With the conflict building between the predominantly Black and Latinx queer community of Spiral City and their police department, the serial killer plotline featuring Boaz isn’t as compelling even though it’s interesting that he probably gets away with his crimes because he’s disguised as a police officer. Barbalien: Red Planet #4 features a big moment in Barbalien’s life and also shows him struggling with his various identities: Martian, superhero, cop, and gay man. There is emotion and a darkness to Walta and Joride Bellaire’s visuals that is only broken up by the growing scope of the conflict as this mini goes into its final issue. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Hollow Heart #1 (Vault)– Paul Allor and Paul Tucker turn in a pretty good slow burn queer romance between a cyborg El and his mechanic Mateo. Allor’s philosophical, at times tangential narration fleshes out the profound empathy that Mateo shows to people, and why he wants to set El free from the base that he’s at and would rather die than spend another day there. Tucker’s art is hit or miss for me with the opening pages being a little unclear to follow, and Allor’s dialogue setting up the context that El is running away. However, I love his color choices, especially the pink for El’s face, and the mood lighting at the bar where Mateo tries to build a rapport with a coworker and at an apartment where he tries to empathize with a hook up, but really only cares for El. Hollow Heart is definitely centered around their relationship, and Tucker builds it with glances between them while Allor adds precise dialogue to build their romance like El immediately starting to speak when Mateo says he respects him. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Once and Future #16 (BOOM!)– Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain return to the Brexit-y, Grail myth trappings of the early issues of Once and Future in this action-packed middle chapter. With Bridgette and Duncan holed up and stuck between the proverbial fire and frying pan (Lancelot and a dragon), the walls between myth and the real world are dangerously thin. There is just as much political conniving and maneuvering as gun and sword play in Once and Future #16, and Mora and Bonvillain are game for either kind of scene going for big reaction shots and even bigger bursts of colors any time Lancelot or Merlin do their thing. By the time the final page rolls around, our main cast seems to be totally screwed, and Dan Mora has fun on a “redesign” of a previous antagonist that we thought was a protagonist. Once and Future continues to be one of Gillen’s more setpiece and plot driven comics, but issue 16 shows that this book still has a bit of a bite with its comment on British nationalism, government bureaucracies, and the ability to twist stories to one’s end. (See what white supremacists have done with Thor’s hammer and Odin’s symbols.) Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2 (Ahoy!)– Mark Russell and artists Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy satirize the commercialization of Christianity by evangelicals, prosperity preachers, televangelists etc in Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2. On a hunt for more disciples, Jesus rolls up up to Bible Safari that instantly brought flashbacks of places like the Creation Museum, Ark Experience, and even church fairs/events as these ancient writings lose context and meaning to make a buck. Pace channels his inner Sienkiewicz and uses a scratchy style for the waves of people at Bible Safari and nails the depersonalization of 21st century life and being a statistic in a mega church. However, Second Coming #2 isn’t all satire and irony, but Russell throws in a touching B-plot that becomes an A-plot as Jesus just *connects* with a man attempting suicide on a bridge aka the polar opposite of the televangelist company he called earlier. I like this book when it’s being sharp, but I love it when it’s being sweet and humanist. (In the nice chaplain at my university sense, not the Bill Maher one.) Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Cable #8 (Marvel)– With the exception of some gorgeous art and colors from Phil Noto and witty banter from Cable and Domino via Gerry Duggan’s dialogue, Cable #8 is really a confusing mess of clones, time travelers, timelines, and Stryfes. Annoyingly enough, it starts like Armageddon with Domino narrating and comparing her powers to asteroids hitting each other. There’s some charm to the Tokyo setting as Domino and Cable enjoy gyoza at a Space-Knight themed eatery, and Noto’s fight choreography is sharp and fun on an aesthetic level. However, there’s no deeper level or reason to care about these characters beyond the “pew pew” of it all as Cable fights copies of himself and has a crisis about his place on the timeline. Maybe, if I read more X-comics from the 1990s, I would get it. Domino’s charisma, and Phil Noto’s portrayal of her powers keep this one from being a total stinker, but it’s still a pass from me. Overall: 5.6 Verdict: Pass

Marauders #18 (Marvel)– Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, and Stefano Casselli show Krakoan foreign policy in action in Marauders #18 as the team buys up property and opens a free clinic in Madripoor to fight back the gentrification of the Homines Verendi. Iceman, Bishop, and Pyro take center stage with some key guest appearances from Professor X, Magneto, and (!!) Proteus, who shows that this clinic is named after his mother Moira MacTaggart. (This is a bit of a tie-in to Powers of X, and I’m curious to see how it’s explored down the road.) However, the real action in Marauders #18 comes from a new take on the Reavers, who are humans that have been maimed by characters like Iceman and Gorgon and are fitted with upgrades to take their revenge. The Reavers combined with the Marauders not being so stealthy puts pressure on the team and shows some consequences to Krakoa’s well-intentioned saber rattling. After the Shaw storyline, Duggan and steady artists Lolli and Casselli are really on a role combining political allegory and superhero team-up action in Marauders. However, Bishop joking about “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” was in very poor taste even if it is one panel in the midst of many. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Bu

Brett

Batman/Catwoman #3 (DC Comics) – An improved issue for me. The narrative is a bit clearer as to the timelines and there’s a hell of a lot of tension throughout the issue. The art is solid though there seems to be a bit of a focus on Catwoman’s ass throughout. A much better issue than the first two and I’m finally interested in seeing where the series goes. Overall Rating: 7.95 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Catwoman #2 (DC Comics) – DC has been running on full cylinders with Batman’s corner of Future State. In this series we see how a captured Bruce/Batman was freed and talks of the Resistance against the Magistrate. It’s a sliver of the bigger picture and works so well building the world. These two issues deliver solid action with Catwoman on a mission to steal from a train and it works so well. The art is top notch showing off the action and creating a fantastic flow that’s befitting a train heist. DC has nailed this pocket universe and every series and issue involved has been a piece of the puzzle creating a hell of a picture. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Future State: Nightwing #2 (DC Comics) – A nice action comic that’s a bit more than one long fight sequence. There’s some interesting bits about technology and the use of media to wage wars and battles. Again, as a piece of the larger story about a Future Gotham, it’s a great piece of the puzzle. There’s some fantastic moments that really hit a solid beat with the art just nailing the action. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Shazam! #2 (DC Comics) – I really like the concept of the comic’s two issues. But, it takes a bit too long before things come together. The ending also is a bit shrug unless you really know the character, which I don’t. The art is solid though I’d like to have seen a little bit more torture in Shazam over what’s going on. A not bad issue that’s so close to being great. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #2 (DC Comics) – The main Superman story has a nice poetic aspect to it with some fantastic art. There’s a Spartacus/World War Hulk vibe about it but the comic makes a fantastic case for Superman’s position and what he’s up to and why. The trio of other stories are a bit mixed. Featuring Mister Miracle, Midnighter, and a new Black Racer, each story has some good and bad about it. They all feel setups for things to come though never giving a complete feel to them. They feel like preludes to something else instead of self-contained stories which feels odd for a self-contained event like this. Still, each is entertaining. The issue as a whole is pretty solid and does a decent job of crafting a “world” revolving around Superman. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2 (IDW Publishing) – The issue is fantastic like the debut. There’s a lot of history laid out here as we get a better sense of the world and what happened to the Turtles. There’s a hell of a lot of tragedy to it that matches the action. This is a must for TMNT fans and those that love stories like The Dark Knight. 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 (**).

Review: Snow Angels #1

Snow Angels #1

One of the most anticipated comics for me in early 2021 is Snow Angels #1. Announced in October 2020, the comiXology Original comic features Jeff Lemire and Jock, two creators whose work I regularly enjoy. A 10-part digital comic series, the debut issue introduces us to a brutal wintery and frozen world.

In the debut issue, we’re introduced to Milliken, Mae, as well as their father. The trio are members of The Trenchfolk, a settlement of people that live in The Trench? What is that exactly? While we’re not quite sure, it’s presented as an endless trench carved into a wintery world. The Trench is endless but it also provides and those living within it must never leave. Outside it lives The Colden Ones, their frozen gods. But within lives a danger in The Snowman, the Trench’s deadly defender.

Snow Angels #1 is an interesting debut that teases much of the world and keeps things very focused. We take the world for what it’s presented as by Milliken, Mae, and their father. There could be a sprawling civilization just outside the Trench but we’d never know. They believe nothing lies beyond it and accept this as fact. So, we the reader does as well. The comic presents itself as one of belief and faith and we the readers are sucked into this narrative religion as we must believe the truth presented by our trio of lead character.

Lemire’s opening introduction to the world is cold and barren. We’re isolated and focused on the trio and the tight focus delivers an emptiness to what’s presented. It’s a bleak existence and you can feel the freezing land through the digital screen.

That’s helped by the work of Jock whose art builds the world. The settings are limited but intriguing. The art and design really build the mystery of the world with small details that beg the reader to explore. There’s only so much you can do with a snowy world, but Jock finds an opportunity to add details to add a lot of character to the snowy surroundings. The lettering by Steve Wands helps build the atmosphere as well. There’s something about the dialogue that feels minimal, a constricted style that befits the tightness one feels enmeshed in snow and surrounded by cold.

Snow Angels #1 is an intriguing debut. We both do and don’t know a lot about this world. We’re presented the “rules” of it all but teased there’s so much more. Then, you get to the end and get a feeling the series is going in a whole other direction. With this creative team, it’s not surprising the debut is so good. It’s a mystery that sucks you in to its wintery nightmare.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jock Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindle

Today’s New Digital Releases Features Over 50 New Comics from DC, VIZ Media, Kodansha, and more!

Batman/Catwoman #3

Today is one of two new comic book days and there’s over 50 new releases for you to enjoy! You can get shopping now or check out the releases by the publisher below!

Andrews McMeel

comiXology Originals

DC Comics

Fantagraphics

Harlequin

Kodansha

Marvel

Seven Seas

Sublime

VIZ Media


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Preview: Snow Angels #1

Snow Angels #1

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Jock
Colored by Jock
Edited by Will Dennis
Purchase

Two of the most acclaimed creators of their generation — Writer JEFF LEMIRE and Artist JOCK — together for the first time in SNOW ANGELS — a 10-part science fiction adventure story set in a brutal world like no other!

Milliken and Mae have never left The Trench — it’s all they’ve ever known. They were born in The Trench, and they’ll die there, just like all their people do. The two girls, eight and eleven, are a part of The Trenchfolk, a sprawling settlement of people living inside the massive ice walls of a vast, seemingly endless frozen trench carved into the surface of an otherwise icy wasteland. The Trenchfolk survive in this hostile world by following The Three Testaments of The Trench — golden rules repeated like a mantra from birth to death…

  1. YOU MUST NEVER LEAVE THE TRENCH.
  2. THE TRENCH PROVIDES.
  3. THE TRENCH IS ENDLESS.

Milli and Mae don’t really know how their people came to live here. No one does, not even their wise and gentle Father. On Milliken’s twelfth birthday, their father takes the two girls on an overnight skate down the trench — a coming-of-age ritual to teach them how to fish the frozen river, how to hunt the wild Trenchdogs that wander its frigid banks, and how to give proper thanks to their frozen Gods — The Colden Ones. It’s the trip of a lifetime until the girls push beyond the borders of their humble land and awaken the Trench’s deadly defender… The Snowman! What follows next is an action-packed story of survival, loss and redemption.

Part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content only available on comiXology and Kindle. Read for free as part of your subscription to comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime. Also available for purchase via comiXology and Kindle.

Snow Angels #1

Today’s New Digital Comics Features Over 50 New Ones from DC, Yen Press, Kodansha, VIZ, and more!

Rorschach #5

Check out today’s new digital comic releases. There’s over 50 new digital comics from DC, Kodansha, Yen Pres, VIZ Media, and more. You can get shopping now or check out the releases by the publisher below.

Abrams Amulets

comiXology Originals

DC Comics

Fantagraphics

Humanoids

Kodansha

Marvel

Seven Seas

Urban Comics

VIZ Media

Yen Press


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Preview: Afterlift

Afterlift

(W) Chip Zdarsky (A/CA) Jason Loo
In Shops: Feb 03, 2021
SRP: $19.99

2020 EISNER AWARD WINNER FOR BEST DIGITAL SERIES!

Ride-share driver Janice Chen has enough to deal with, from annoying passengers to overbearing parents. But when she picks up a pair of mysterious passengers who are pursued by otherworldly forces, Janice realizes that her already-terrible day might be headed straight to hell. This Eisner Award-winning series from Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Daredevil) and Jason Loo (The Pitiful Human-Lizard) features car chases, demon bounty hunters, and figuring out your place in this world and the next.

Collects Afterlift #1-#5 along with all covers and a sketchbook section.

Afterlift

Review: Afterlift

Afterlift

Afterlift, a series that started out as a ComiXology Original, is making its way from digital to print. Thanks to a partnership with Dark Horse Comics, the collected edition of this original series will be available online and in bookstores on February 2nd, and then available in comic book shops on February 3rd. Written by Chip Zdarsky, Afterlift is a coming of age tale with elements of mythology. Zdarsky puts his own modern twist on the underworld mythos of the ancient Greeks.

Janice Chen, having recently quit her job in the finance industry, is content to spend her nights driving for a ride-share service. As the comic opens, things are preceding normally. Janice’s first-generation Mandarin parents want her to get a better job since she’s barely scraping by. However, the basic minimum wage pay doesn’t bother Janice as much the thought of a fare puking in the back of her car. Halfway through an otherwise normal night, Janice picks up a fare named Dumu. Before she knows it, she’s been drafted into service as a psychopomp.

For those unfamiliar with that word, a psychopomp is a being who escorts deceased souls to the afterlife. Think the Grim Reaper, or in the case of the Greek mythology Zdarsky uses for inspiration, Hermes and Charon. There’s also a bit of Christianity thrown into the mix as well. Just as she’s beginning to understand the predicament she finds herself in, Janice is set upon by demon bounty hunters. The demons are hell-bent (pun intended) on claiming the soul Janice is transporting for themselves.

Everything I’ve just described takes place in the first twenty-five pages of the graphic novel. From there, Afterlift becomes a thrill ride of car chases, fight scenes, and joyrides through the realms beyond the mortal plain. In addition, Zdarsky also reflects on faith and what it means to be a believer throughout the emotionally charged narrative. I also love that he chose an Asian woman as his main character. Many writers would be tempted to use a white Christian person. Janice was raised Buddhist and doesn’t believe in a final afterlife the way a Christian would. I found it fascinating to see a character with an understanding of Buddhism navigate (both metaphorically and literally) through and contemplate the implications of the existence of Hell.

Artist Jason Loo does a good job illustrating Afterlift, though his characters don’t look all that realistic. He does a great job drawing the car chase scenes and action sequences, but the scenes featuring characters talking to one another were lackluster by comparison. I did love the character design of the demons. Each is unique enough to tell apart from the others without them all looking like they come from different interpretations of hell.

Colorist Paris Alleyne does a great job of conveying time and setting through her color choices. I didn’t need a character to announce it was nighttime to instantly recognize the time of day in each scene. I also appreciate that Alleyne pays attention to the light source in each panel. For example, the portion of a panel underneath a streetlight is bright, while the other side of the panel is kept darker. Color touches such as these add realism to Loo’s illustrations, making me feel like I’m watching a complete story, rather than reading dialogue and then looking at the pictures.

I enjoyed the concepts and modern adaptations of mythology in Afterlift more than I enjoyed the actual plot. That being said, the story itself is really exciting, though I found it to be a little predictable. The artwork is solid if a bit underwhelming. It’s always easy to tell what’s going on in each panel, though some panels are more visually exciting than others. All in all, this graphic novel was a fun read, but it didn’t really wow me. Even though I wasn’t necessarily blown away, this is a series worth checking out. After all, it did win Eisner, Shuster, and Harvey awards last year.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Jason Loo
Color: Paris Alleyne Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleTFAWBookshopZeus Comics

Today’s New Digital Releases Features Over 60 New Comics

Truth & Justice #5

Today is one of two new comic book days and comiXology has you covered with new releases from DC, Yen Press, Kodansha, VIZ Media, and so many more. Start shopping now or check out the releases by the publisher below.

Andrews McMeel

comiXology Originals

DC Comics

Hermes Press

Kodansha

Marvel

Scholastic Graphix

Yen Press

VIZ Media


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

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