Tag Archives: cry havoc

Review: Cry Havoc #4

cryhavoc_04-1With each issue of Cry Havoc, writer Simon Spurrier has the task of balancing three narratives that, while separate, are directly related. So far readers have met Louise Canton at three points in her life, denoted by location: London, Afghanistan, and the Red Place, with each place falling in this order, chronologically. The story isn’t as confusing as it’s made out to be, kept distinct by Ryan Kelly’s illustration and a legion of colorists.

By now, it’s clear that London was the first part of Louise’s journey, as she grappled with control over her inner monster. Afghanistan has been framed in the context of getting rid of the monster, and the Red Place would appear to be a mission gone FUBAR. The events leading up to the Red Place are still an unknown, but the first three issues ended with images of Lou, pregnant and locked in a cage. This is largely playing catch-up on the series, but it all bears relevance to #4.

With Cry Havoc #4, Spurrier finally discusses the elephant in the womb. (I’d say I’m sorry about the pun, but I’m not.) Lou was decidedly pregnant in issue #2 (and in #1, upon closer examination of the last page) something on which that the villainous Lynn Odell clearly means to capitalize.

Given that the only relationship Louise has been in was with a woman, it certainly seemed possible that the pregnancy was the result of unspeakably awful circumstances. However, Spurrier deserves the faith readers have invested in the story so far. While the events surrounding the pregnancy aren’t ideal, the way in which it’s handled brings the narrative into a clearer time frame.

The story also continues to make some interesting points about how, culturally, stories are valued and told. Other characters continue to develop while the world of inner demons, for lack of a better term, develops.

As usual, one of the highlights of the story is the art. Kelly’s illustration is highlighted in different ways by each of the three colorists, and the palettes begin to blend a little more as each place comes closer to the next in terms of the timeline. Lee Loughridge emphasizes the characters in red hues more than any other aspect of the Red Place, giving the sense that Lynn and Lou are the most important players in the game. Nick Filardi’s London colors but equal focus on the characters and their surroundings, which are most often portrayed in colors that have an underlying blue tone. Matt Wilson’s Afghanistan is a blend of the two–most often neutral, but with some spectacular pops of color that highlight each mythical being in a unique way.

Cry Havoc is still a fun and engaging read four issues in, with solid pacing that reveals enough to both move the story forward and to keep readers feeling like they’re not waiting forever. That said, the endgame largely remains a mystery, as does the fates of many of the characters.

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Ryan Kelly Colorists: Lee Loughridge, Nick Filardi, Matt Wilson
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Cry Havoc #2

cryhavoc_02-1Cry Havoc #2 is out (coincidentally, one of two werewolf-related comics published by Image this week) and it’s just as good as the first issue. However, as much of a presence as werewolves have in popular culture, Cry Havoc has twice proved itself to be something more than its monsters, so to speak.

Writer Simon Spurrier pushes the boundaries of traditional werewolf stories by incorporating shapeshifters from all backgrounds and cultures. In Cry Havoc #2, readers are introduced to more Hydes than Jekylls, as the plot of each place in the story progresses. More of Lou’s dramatic life as a shapeshifter is revealed, giving some potential hints about where her story is going and how she landed in The Red Place. Readers also get to meet other shapeshifters of different nationalities.

Spurrier has clearly done his homework, and while not all of his research makes it into the story, the backmatter for issues #1 and #2 consists of writer’s notes on each page of the story. He also includes information regarding the geographical background of each shapeshifter, something that doesn’t necessarily belong in the story itself, but makes for incredibly interesting supplemental reading.

The story itself is also notable for its threefold plot, with the reader seeing the main character, Lou Canton, at three different points in her life. Each “place” in the story (London, Afghanistan, and The Red Place) would seem to be relatively close in terms of the character’s life, though it hasn’t been formally stated. Despite having three narratives running parallel, the story is fairly straightforward. The time jumps are easily navigated by paying attention to the distinctive color scheme and panel structure of each place.

As with Cry Havoc #1, each place was colored by a different artist (Nick Filardi on London, Lee Loughridge on The Red Place, and Matt Wilson on Afghanistan). Though each place is denoted by a different color panel border, each artist’s style is distinctive enough that it’s not totally necessary. It is a unique concept though, and each color scheme highlights a different aspect of Ryan Kelly’s art. Kelly is a versatile artist, and the emphasis on varied color schemes is an innovative concept that really shows how the art can evoke a specific mood in relation to the writing.

All in all, the team on this book works extremely well in terms of art and writing. The idea of a threefold narrative colored by different people is a concept that could come off as gimmicky if done poorly, but this comic is not done poorly. It’s engaging and fresh in both its writing and structure, and it’s definitely worth a read.

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Ryan Kelly, Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, and Matt Wilson
Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/2/16

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.


johnnyred4Johnny Red #4 (Titan)** I love this series; it’s a fantastic WWII era story about a British fighter ace fighting for Russia (but do the Russian brass really want him there?) that tugs on my fondness for war comics, my respect for those who fought in the war, and my love of high quality stories. That this just happens to be one of my top two comics released this week, is just a happy accident. While this isn’t an ideal point for new readers to jump on – what with it being right in the middle of the series – it’s worth hunting the back issues down. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Surviving Megalopolis #2 (Dark Horse) I was surprised by this series. It has a slight flavour of Irredeemable but with enough of an original twist to the “Justice League’s gone bad” that it should pique your interest, because it’s well worth reading. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Cry Havoc #1 (Image) I finally got around to reading a couple of the last week or two’s comics, and this was fantastic. I should have read this when it came out, because the mix of the supernatural, an awesome lead character (or two) and some brilliant art make this a must read. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

europa 3Batman: Europa #2, #3 & #4 (DC)* I found the differences in the art style issue to issue jarring – at first. Then I realized that whether intentional or not (and I think it was) it absolutely makes sense given the nature of the story. I devoured the three remaining issues that I hadn’t picked up in less than an hour. Truly great stuff. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Amazing Forest #1 & #2 (IDW) Are a pair of fantastic anthology comics. You don’t need to read the first to enjoy the second, but both issues have some brilliant short comic stories within them that are – at times – out of this world, but are all fantastically entertaining. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Doc Savage: The Spider’s Web #3 (Dynamite) Meh. It’s okay, but just doesn’t do it for me. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read, maybe?

The Precinct #3 (Dynamite) I wasn’t that impressed with the last issue, but this one was a lot better. It definitely drew my interest much better, and felt like a much more complete installment in this story. Plus, the steam punk aspects are fantastically understated. This comic would be just as good without them, but why would you want that? Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Cage Hero #4 (Dynamite) While I have enjoyed the issues so far, I’ve enjoyed them as I would the Sharknado movies; Cage Hero is good because it knows exactly what it is, and it celebrates it with every cheesy bit of dialogue, every been-there-read-that scene. The thing is, it does those things almost well enough to be worth buying, but does fall a lttle short. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy


Mr H

Spider-Man_1_CoverSpider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)* Whooo Miles is finally here in the Prime Universe! This issue was great. I didn’t enjoy an issue like this from Bendis since his first story arc on Ultimate Spider-Man. Miles is having trouble balancing hero life and school responsibilities. What makes the issue though is when he swings into action. Spidey takes it right to Blackheart and even wields Captain America’s shield! Just a whole lot of fun and it ends with a great cliffhanger. Bendis and Pichelli have another win. I already can’t wait for the next issue. Overall: 9 



Vision #4 (Marvel) * – This is the best book about robots that needlessly stars robots. There’s really nothing about the book so far that would prevent an editor from taking out the fact that it stars androids and replacing them with a racial or religious minority family and telling the same story. If the point of the story was to humanize the Vision, why is it being injected with this daytime soap plot? I was so glad they acknowledged the Vision had previously been married to the Scarlet Witch because the whole book began to feel like it took place in a pocket universe. Tom King is amazing and I keep reading to see what he’ll do. Gabriel Hernandez Walta is a tremendous talent and I’ll often by a book just because I enjoy his dark tones and the way he captures human emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this book. The characters just haven’t meshed with the story yet. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

PaperGirls_05-1Paper Girls #5 (Image)– It saddens me to only be writing a shortened review but I don’t want to spend the time being negative about one of my favorite writers in a luscious and gorgeous book. The issue mostly resolves its own tangential distraction this issue and writes two characters who we didn’t really know super well in the first place. I have re-read every issue since it came out and I still have to go back and figure out the names of the four central characters. I like that this issue ends with them literally somewhere else (as it’s beginning to feel like they have just been bouncing back and forth between the same locations accomplishing nothing). The story… I like to start with a summary of what’s happened. You can usually tell how good a book is by how much the summary changes from review to review. I’d be writing the same summary if I did a full review.  Overall: 7 Recomendation: Read

Detective Comics #49 (DC)*– The best part of Jim Gordon-Batman is still just watching him roll with the punches and really do his best. Bruce Wayne-Batman is always treated like a dark god that somehow stands toe-to-toe with everyone from Darkseid to street-pushers. Jim Gordon’s Batman wakes up the whole neighborhood with a blimp spotlight trying to conduct an investigation and fails to get anyone turn it off before just breaking it. I also like some of the darker imagery (for a mainstream DC comic) which helps me balance out the idea that all Batman and his team are doing is watching statues. Seriously, someone’s probably being assaulted in the alleyway adjacent to one of the statues, Batman. Can you think big-picture for a second? Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

Spider-Man #1 (Marvel)* – This book follows Miles Morales integration into the mainstream universe following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths (right? I didn’t read Secret Wars, I already had the trade for the original Crisis so I just read that). Honestly, Miles Morales is far more like Peter Parker than Peter Parker has been for a very long time which helps me to understand why this issue ended with me thinking, “Oh, yeah… it’s that red-and-blue rip-off Spider-Man! Oh, red-suit Venom!” Bendis’s best work comes when he is not writing every book with the Marvel logo printed on it (so, essentially everything from before ten years ago), however Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor own Miles Morales as far as I’m concerned. There’s something about Pichelli’s angles that make the formerly ultimate Spider-Man so dynamic. I’ve seen static shots of Spider-Man web-slinging for years, but Pichelli’s renditions always make me stop and admire her work. Overall: 6.5 Recommedation: Read

Uncanny X-Men #3 (Marvel)– I miss this book when it was drawn by Rob Liefeld. I miss this book when it was drawn by Mike Allred. I miss this when it was written by Rick Remender. Am I making my point? I struggle with subtly. My point is that it’s sacrilege to have the Uncanny X-Men title be a clone of one of its own spin-off. (I also struggle with perspective.) Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass



vision 4Vision #4 (Marvel) * Still, in my opinion, the best All New All Different title that I’m reading. Vision still has no idea what his wife has been up to and what she’s hiding; and Virgina comes face to face with her blackmailer and the meeting does not end well. I could feel for her in this issue, and her situation; feeling helpless and things spinning out of control, thanks to King’s writing and complemented beautifully by Walta’s dark tones in the art. I look forward to this title every month and you should be too. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy 

Uncanny Avengers #5 (Marvel)* Well here’s a surprise…I didn’t hate it! Rogue, Deadpool, Human Torch and (briefly) Cable are on the hunt for the Red Skull, or more accurately, Professor X’s brain in Red Skull’s head. They do some good cop/bad cop and get a lead on where to find him. The trio (no Cable) break into where they are told they will find Skull and instead find none other then Gambit. He and Rogue have a brief litte reunion and Red Skull slips right past the team…literally. This isn’t a bad stand alone issue coming off the end of the debut story arc. The action was good and I’m sure the search for Red Skull will be explored in more depth as the series goes on.  Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read 


Ryan C

Providence #7 (Avatar Press) *: The best book on the stands by a country effing mile keeps getting better as hapless protagonist Robert Black finds himself thrown into the Lovecraftian underbelly of America’s physical and psychological horror-show and constructs the most bizarrely effective means for rationalizing his experiences, and coming out the other side more cheerful and optimistic, that I’ve ever witnessed. Thrown in themes of class division, loneliness and isolation, and the terrible burden of keeping secrets and this is “Pickman’s Model” as you’ve never seen it before. Alan Moore’s most compelling “major work” in decades combined with Jacen Burrows’ flat-out breathtaking art makes me feel genuine pity for the folks out there who aren’t reading this. Much as I love any number of current comics series, the simple fact is that right now there is “Providence” — and there is everything else.  Overall: 10. Recommendation: Buy

unfollow 4Unfollow #4 (DC/Vertigo) *: Rob Williams’ fiendishly clever social-darwinism-disguised-as-charity premise goes from “gettign warmer” to “heating up” with this issue, and I can only imagine what “boiling” is going to be like. Somebody we’ve gotten to “know” a bit dies in this issue, and it appears we’re going to get a murder mystery added to the mix here, as well. On art, Mike Dowling seems to be stepping out of his self-imposed Frank Quitely shadow and developing his own, more organic style, so that’s good to see, as well.  Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy

The Sheriff Of Babylon #3 (DC/Vertigo) *: Another strong and compelling series of wrinkles is added to our layer-cake of corruption and rat-fuckery in Occupied Iraq — and speaking of fucking it turns out that two of our protagonists are doing just that — but while Mitch Gerads’ art continues to impress with its grittiness and authenticity, the script by “ex-” CIA operative Tom King (yeah, lots of folks quit the CIA and go into low-paying freelance writing) is taking on a more blatant neo-colonialist tone that seems very much of a piece with the right-wing themes on display in the author’s other high-profile works such as “Grayson” and “The Omega Men.” King hasn’t earned the right to be compared to Ditko, but both are examples of people in comics whose work I admire despite finding their politics anywhere from questionable to downright nauseating. If there’s any doubt in your mind as to where King stands, I’ve seen him say that he’s “proud” of the work he did in Iraq. I’m sure his “former” bosses are proud of the work he’s doing, supposedly of his own volition, to spread their worldview in our entertainment media. Troubling material to say the least, but I can’t deny its quality.  Overall: 7. Recommendation: Buy, but know the writer is probably supplementing his income with a check from Langley.

Swamp Thing #2 (DC)*: Len Wein and Kelly Jones’ “back-to-basics” take on the character continues to showcase both the best and worst aspects of 1970s horror comics — the best being Wein’s deliriously OTT purple prose and Jones’ heartfelt stylistic homage to the art of Bernie Wrightson, the worst being the lame-ass, easily-resolved plot (that could, I suppose, work as a one-or two-parter in a monthly ongoing, but feels downright bizarre in a six-issue mini-series) and the shoe-horning in of guest stars for no apparent reason. The Phantom Stranger I could see, sure — but what possible point does plugging Shade from “Starman” into this story serve? Nice little epilogue/cliffhanger at the end, though, and I’m still loving the ride for the most part. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Buy.



Shaft: Imitation of Life#1 (Dynamite Ent.): The adventures of John Shaft continues in this new miniseries as we catchup with him right before he becomes a successful private investigator. All it took was one case of a mobster’s missing daughter to propel his business. As he enjoys the fruit of his success, David Walker proves that it has not changed the man, as he takes on another missing person’s case , finding trouble at every turn. Altogether, a strong first issue to an already entertaining series. Overall:9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write.

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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/1/2016

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.


dredd 2coverJudge Dredd #2 (IDW) This is one of the more interesting Judge Dredd stories I’ve read in  a long time; by taking the urban judge, jury, and executioner out of his most well known setting, we get to see a fish out of water as Dredd tries to enforce the law in a lawless land. Although far from a comedy book, there are some laugh out loud one liners here – frequently at Dredd’s expense. And before you ask, you don’t need to be a fan of Mega City One’s most famous citizen to enjoy this comic. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Victorie City #1 (IDW) This comic has a brilliant raw aesthetic to that you can’t help but love, and that compliments the gritty dectective fiction so very well.. So far, this issue is what DC’s Gotham tv series wishes it was. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read



TFSOTW_03_cvrATransformers: Sins of the Wreckers #3 (IDW Publishing) – Not the strongest Transformers series. I think this one is for folks who have read the previous Wreckers stories, which I haven’t. Still, some interesting stuff here that expands the Transformers IDW Universe. Overall: 6.8 Recommendation: Pass

Superman #48 (DC Comics) – We’re getting closer to a return of the Superman we know, but I’m still not sure where they’ll go with his Clark persona. There’s a stealth epic story here, it’s just no one seems to know about it. It’s all interesting and a different take, but still not completely enjoying it. Overall: 6.9 Recommendation: Pass

Cry Havoc #1 (Image Comics) – A fantastic debut that’s a hell of a read and sets up a very interesting world. Looking forward to seeing where this all goes. Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

East of West #24 (Image Comics) – An interesting issue that seems to be really moving us towards some confrontation. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

The Fuse #17 (Image Comics) – If you’re a fan of police procedurals, this is one to check out, especially if you enjoy a sci-fi twist. Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Read

Ringside03-coverMonstress #3 (Image Comics) – Just when I don’t think this series and world can get more interesting, it somehow does. This is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Revival #36 (Image Comics) – Still no idea where this series is going, but there’s a hell of a conspiracy building. Still a favorite of mine and look forward to seeing where each new issue takes us. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Ringside #3 (Image Comics) – This series has been nothing of what I expected at all. It’s been solid so far, more like a less gritty revenge tale. There’s not a ton of wrestling like I expected, but holy crap is it good. Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Southern Bastards #13 (Image Comics) – This issue shows why this series is one of the best out there. This is Boss’ series completely and has been an amazing build since the beginning. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel) – Holy crap was this a good first issue. It captures the feel of the Western genre the original story evoked mixed with a great revenge story. So fantastic. Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Faith #1 (Valiant) –  An absolutely fantastic debut for a series that’s tons of fun and a character who looks like an actual person. So much fun and I’m really hoping this becomes an ongoing. Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy


Mr H

superman 48.jpgSuperman #48 (DC Comics)* – So we can tell we are getting to the end of the line with the great Clark Kent experiment as he continues on his quest to regain his powers. So far it’s taken him to friends, foes, amazons and now the last thing you thought you’d ever see is kryptonite. While this story arc has done wonders for revamping Vandal Savage, the rest has fallen severely flat. Of course I’m more than excited for Superman to be back in full force, but I’m weary of the writing. You want a great Superman title? Read Lois and Clark monthly. The countdown to issue 50 is on. Will the launch be successful? Time will tell. The cliffhanger here was interesting though. Multiple artists on this issue dragged it down a bit for me visually however. The sooner we get Superman back. The better. Story: 7 Art: 6 Overall: Read



All-New All-Different Avengers #4 (Marvel)* – The new team of Avengers assemble to take down a mercenary named Cyclone who can create, yup, cyclones, who was hired to destroy casinos on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Ohhh where to begin with this. Well it definitely is all different, but not in a good way. The book opens with Jarvis sighing and showing how little he is looking forward to be joining the newest team of Avengers…which is totally out of character for Jarvis! Turning his nose up at the facility, the accomodations, the technology…which is NOTHING like the Jarvis we’ve seen over the many years. I’d be checking this Jarvis to see if he was a Skrull. And on the flip side, we have Thor flying off on her own, not listening to anything the others have to say, so sure she can handle the problem on her own..which she can’t..and drops a few hints to the others which gets them questioning that maybe an asgardian is not under that helmet. This is a completely different Thor then what we see in the pages of The Mighty Thor, and I am not a fan. And then we have the junior members who, like the first 3 issues of this book, do nothing but bicker and fight and squabble. Ok we get it, they’re teenagers…can we maybe break the mold and show them do something else? For the MAIN Avengers title, I am not terribly impressed, but compared to Uncanny and New Avengers, it is the better title out of the 3…but not by much. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read (if you have some time to kill)


Ryan C

SouthernBastards_13-1The Twilight Children #4 (Vertigo)** – Something of an underwhelming finale to Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke’s otherwise-exceptional series, nothing is explained here so much as it’s simply concluded. Certainly plenty of food for thought here and Cooke turns in arguable the best single issue of his entire career (which is saying something!), but I honestly don’t know how much of what’s left hanging is as a result of Hernandez deliberately channeling his inner David Lynch, or if he just couldn’t think of any explanations for the phenomena he was presenting and gave up trying. An intriguing way to wrap things up, for sure — but perhaps for the wrong reasons. I have a feeling this series will have a small but loyal cult attach itself to it in the years to come, while everybody else will just sort of scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about. Story: 6 Art: 10 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Southern Bastards #13 (Image Comics)** – It feels like we’re getting away from the stand-alone “character vignettes” and back into traditional plot progression territory as the Jasons (Aaron and Latour) prepare to put the wraps on their “Homecoming” story arc. Coach Boss may be well and truly fucked at this point — but do we still hate him enough to kick back and watch his demise with glee, or are we hoping he’ll fight his way out like a cornered dog, as he’s done in the past? I admit I don’t rightly know myself — and that’s one of the very best things about this series. Story:9 Art: 7 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy



Insufferable Volume 1 (IDW Publishing) –  what happens to your favorite heroes when they retire? Some would make you believe some scenario like “Kingdom Come”, I believe it would be something like this. Mark Waid has done a different spin on the Batman and Robin myth is much like Image’s “Sex”, but even more tongue in cheek. This goes the way of If Robin had a huge ego after they retire and he has to team up with Batman for one last case. An enjoyable book from start to finish. Art: 8 Story: 9.5 Overall: 9.6


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write.

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 : Cry Havoc #1


What’s the old saying again — “cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!” or something? Yeah, I think that’s it — except in this case we can substitute dogs with their nearest evolutionary relative, wolves, and be a small step closer in the accuracy department.

Or will we? I mean, sure, the promotional blurb for writer Simon Spurrier and artist Ryan Kelly’s new Image Comics series, Cry Havoc, definitely states that “It’s not about a lesbian werewolf going to war — except it is,” so perhaps “definitely” is a piss-poor choice of words on my part given that, ya know, there’s (supposedly, at any rate) very little going on here that one can state is “definite” in nature.

All of which is kinda funny because I found Cry Havoc #1 to be a fairly straight-forward read. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because it was an engrossing and fun one, as well, but the conceit of splitting the story of busker-turned-lycanthrope Lou Canton up into three distinct times and places — London, Agfhanistan, and the mysterious “Red Place” — and then employing three different colorists (Matt Wilson, Lee Loughridge, and Nick Fialrdi) to handle the hues on each in order to give them a more distinctive individual look is frankly old hat to anyone who’s read, say, Bodies, where different artists altogether were utilized for the same purpose, or even to anyone who’s seen a Tarantino flick, where jumping back and forth along any given character’s timeline is a matter of course.


All of which leads me to believe that CryHavoc desperately wants to be more “far out” than it is — which is pointless, really, because it stands pretty darn well on its own, no gimmicks required.

I’ve long been of the opinion that Spurrier is on the verge of the ever-elusive “something big” in his writing career : certainly he’s done the best one can possibly hope to following-up Alan Moore on Crossed + One Hundred and his soon-to-be-completed eight-part series The Spire is a fascinating exercise in world-building (also featuring, it should be noted, a lesbian protagonist) that perhaps sees his fine script overshadowed by the truly spellbinding art of Jeff Stokeley, but let’s be brutally honest here — when you’re stuck playing second-fiddle to either the person who came before you or to your monumentally-talented collaborator, it almost doesn’t matter how good the work you’re doing yourself is, because you’re still stuck in the “bridesmaid” role.


Could this, then, finally be Spurrier’s chance to step to the forefront as the cliched “emerging talent” with a “distinctive voice” that he actually is? Time will tell, but so far all the signs look good : the characterization here is strong, the Abu Ghraib-esque subplot is still reasonably topical, his writing evokes a strong “sense of place” in each of the locales employed, and his only-semi-convoluted story structure serves its purpose of mystifying what’s actually a pretty simple plot that can be reduced, basically, to girl gets bitten by werewolf, then conscripted against her wishes into a mercenary force of other “differently-abled” folks, and finally finds herself (spoiler alert!) captured by the same person she’s been tasked with tracking down — and with whom she appears to share a rather unique bond. That’s certainly plenty to pack a debut installment with, and the breakneck-if-disjointed-by-design pace of Cry Havoc #1 doesn’t really slow down to give you much time to think — which is just fine in my book, especially given the fact that the backmatter at the end more than ably demonstrates that Spurrier has indeed done his homework here, most notably as it relates to werewolf legend, and that there’s more going on beneath the surface, as promised, than one would initially suspect given the rapid-fire rate at which events are occurring.


So, yeah — all good in that department, then, and all good as far as the art goes, as well. Kelly’s always been an under-valued talent on the various projects he’s been involved with, but now that he’s got plenty to (sorry in advance) sink his teeth into, I expect him to continue the trend established here of leaving readers saying “wow, I never knew the guy was this good” in subsequent issues. The “multiple colorists” trope works really well, too, it must be said, flavoring each time/place with a little different metaphorical “spice” while not upsetting the “main course”(do I need to eat dinner or what?) to any noticeable degree. Wrap it all up under either Kelly’s main cover or Cameron Stewart’s uniquely-designed variant, and the end result is a comic that looks as good as it reads.

So, what the heck? Count me in for the foreseeable future, barring a drastic and unexpected drop in quality. I’m a little bummed that Image is joining Marvel and DC in sneaking more of their books up to $3.99 (and I paid for this one myself, no digital freebie here), but I guess it was probably inevitable, and I certainly feel like I got every penny’s worth in this case, since subsequent re-reads have revealed more than I caught the first time through. Maybe this will prove to be the Simon Spurrier-penned masterpiece he’s been hinting that he’s capable of?

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Ryan Kelly
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

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Old_Man_Logan_1_CoverIt was new comic book day yesterday! Did folks have luck picking up their new comics? Anyone impacted by the snow? For those that weren’t, what’d you like from this week’s releases? What was a clunker?

Around the Tubes

Huffington Post – Diversity in Comics: Defining Afrofuturism, Afro-Blackness and The Black Fantastic – A good read for those that might know about these things.

A.V. Club – A California college is offering a free online course about comic books – Who’s signing up?

Atoll Comics – Listening to Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6 – Read about why you should check out this series now that its wrapped.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – All-New, All-Different Avengers #4

Talking Comics – Cry Havoc #1

ICv2 – DC Comics: Secret Hero Society #1

Comic Vine – Deadly Class #18

Comic Vine – Deathstroke #14

CBR – Faith #1

Talking Comics – Ghostbusters International #1

Comic Vine – Grayson #16

Talking Comics – Old Man Logan #1

Comic VIne – Old Man Logan #1

Talking Comics – Tomb Raider #1

The Beat – Up Down Clown

Talking Comics – Victorie City #1


Around the Tubes (Video Game) Reviews

Kotaku – LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

Review: Cry Havoc #1

cry havocNot new but fresh, Cry Havoc brings a story of using monsters for militaristic means. It’s a premise we’ve all seen before, but the feminine tone and perspective prevent the story from being stale.

Louise was young, a bit irresponsible and very much in love with her girlfriend. That was before being attacked in the street by a werewolf (hey, it’s tough being a street musician). Now she volunteers with a special forces unit, hunting down monsters in the hopes of being cured from her affliction.

What really brings this story to life is the insight writer Simon Spurrier breathes into his characters through their dialogue and insights. Louise’s girlfriend’s first appearance takes place at the zoo where a fair amount of time is spent discussing hyenas. Specifically, the topic of matriarchal practices and pseudo-penises lends itself to this feminist lens, usurping the dominant status of males while placing the power and ferocity in our central character without the demand of actually demonstrating it within the first issue.

Louise and her group of militants are seeking out another werewolf, rogue commander Lynn Odell. In this regard the story also manages to set itself apart from Marvel’s Legion of Monsters and DC’s Creature Commandos by taking its feminist approach to Louise’s human experience. Instead of her lycanthropy being gimmicky, it serves as an effective metaphor for her inner power and emotional complexity. Further, the sororal conflict allows more of a cultural review than similar stories that feel more like they were written by an eight-year-old boy playing with his action figures.

Most interestingly, this comic employs three different colorists, each tasked to one of the distinct time periods in the story. This is a fantastic choice by Emma Price and most effective in tying the chronology of the stories wandering narrative together. With zero confusion and little to no explanation, the reader jumps through Louise’s life without needing to reorient or seek out context clues. All three colorists are very talented, but Matt Wilson stands out with his attention to Ryan Kelly’s line-work. Wilson’s warm tones provide great dimensionality and awareness as to where the light falls in each scene. The mundane details to the supernatural glowing bring the Afghanistan-portion of the story to life all thanks to his skill.

Though the rest of Louise’s mysterious team will surely be important in later issues, they serve largely as a distraction here and, in a way, even undermine how special she is. If she were the only character with powers or special circumstances, the lycanthropy would seem to really make Louise stand out as a powerful woman. If all the characters were werewolves, it would seem to be a metaphor for the hidden power within everyone. That so much time is spent establishing that everyone else is a bit different but not really getting into how really distracts from what is, so far, the story of a woman coming into her own strength. The rest of the team confuse the metaphor.

The tone is on-point which makes it easy to believe these observations will be resolved going forward. In fact, it’s the book’s voice that makes the next issue so enticing. Now, would anyone like to place bets on whether or not Louise killed her girlfriend?

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Ryan Kelly
Story: 7 Art: 6 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Cry Havoc #1

CryHavocCoverCry Havoc #1 is yet another innovative creator owned masterpiece in the making from Image Comics. Writer Si Spurrier, artist Ryan Kelly, and three distinct colorists Lee Loughridge, Nick Filardi, and Matthew Wilson team up to tell an intense and occasionally frightening story about Louise “Lou Canton” London, who is a lesbian busker (street musician) and gets bitten by a werewolf in a dark alley. Somehow, she ends up joining other people with special abilities as part of a consortium of independent military contractors to take out a civilian, who killed CIA operatives at an “enhanced interrogation” facility in Afghanistan. Spurrier, Kelly, and colorists Loughridge, Filardi, and Wilson combine the real life horrors of the War of Terror along with a new twist on the werewolf story. There definitely aren’t any new moons involved.

Spurrier takes a non-linear approach to plot in Cry Havoc #1 starting literally with “the end” as Kelly and Loughridge show a woman behind bars completely consumed by the monster within with elongated limbs and lots of shadow space. The dialogue from an unnamed speaker establishes Lou as a wildcard in the series with her lack of control over her abilities. This opening page also establishes a type of visual coding for Cry Havoc. Loughridge colors the scenes set in prison called “The Red Place”, which has red in the gutters, Filardi colors the scenes from Lou’s past in London with her zookeeper girlfriend with blue in the gutters, and Wilson colors the scenes in Afghanistan with green between the colors. This ensures a smooth transition between storylines and matches a situation to a color like when Lou uses her werewolf senses to track down Lynn Odell, the civilian who killed the CIA personnel, and is also a monster of some type.

Each colorist also captures the overall feel of the various settings. Loughridge does stark mystery and terror with his use of shadows and hints of red. These pages are set in the future, and the identity of the people keeping Lou locked up are just barely revealed and definitely not expanded upon because they are the main antagonists of the series. Filardi’s pages range from soft and romantic with Lou’s blue hair shining the light of the London sky as she kisses her girlfriend on her lunch break to shocking as the blue mixes with shadows when Lou gets bit. Kelly’s pencil work gets a little more fragmented when the attack happens as the pretty people and buildings jumbles into blood, horror, and jagged panels. In keeping with the desert setting of Afghanistan, Wilson’s color palette is mostly muted browns and greens (for military uniform) except when one of the contractors uses their abilities, like Tengu, who spots the American black site with a blue eagle or the yellow glow of the unit’s mysterious, taciturn commander, Adze. All three colorists unleash a bolt of blue, yellow, or red when something supernatural happens to show how jarring it is to the slice of life story in the past or the war comic in the present.

But Cry Havoc #1 isn’t just well-crafted visual storytelling and visceral shocks from artist Ryan Kelly. Writer SiCryHavocInterior Spurrier fully develops his lead character, Lou, using the non-linear structure to strengthen her arc while adding intrigue with the first and last page. Like all good monster stories, the scariest monster is within Lou as she gives into her inner wolf while playing violin for a local band calls Squids of Forbearance. (Spurrier rivals Kieron Gillen in his turns of phrase sometimes.) Kelly and Filardi stain the page with blood and bold reds to go with the soft blue light of the club as Lou maybe likes her werewolf side, which she had vehemently denied earlier (But plotwise in the future.) on the helicopter in Afghanistan. She doesn’t want to kill goats much less insurgents or Lynn and is a little scared by a “shoot first” monologue delivered in a Southern drawl from combat veteran Stig. There is a battle between Lou London, who even shudders at hyenas at the zoo and loves music and beautiful things and women, and the werewolf, who is pure primal urge and literally twists Lou’s body on the first page.

Writer Si Spurrier takes the ugliest spectre of the probably neverending War on Terror, including torture and black sites, and combines them with the ancient, persistent myth of the werewolf through a personal story about a woman, who must fight against the worst of human nature and probably ends up losing. Cry Havoc #1 has a protagonist, but not a hero just a victim. This, along with the shadows and grit of Ryan Kelly’s art and the ability of  of colorists Lee Loughridge, Nick Filardi, and Matthew Wilson to go from neutral and restrained to chaotic and terrifying at the drop of the hat, is what makes it such a dark story. And it’s a tough read because Spurrier’s dialogue for Lou and her girlfriend is incredibly natural with sarcastic wit, rude humor, and normal activities like going to a kebab shop and kissing substituting for overwrought melodrama.

Cry Havoc #1 is the full package with a three dimensional protagonist, revisionist take on the well-worn werewolf horror genre with a dash of real world metaphor, and innovative use of colors as Lee Loughridge, Nick Filardi, and Matthew Wilson show that they are masters of that aspect of comics.

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Ryan Kelly Colors: Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, Matthew Wilson
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Monstress03_coverWednesdays 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!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

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


Top Pick: Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel) – To say I’m looking forward to this book would be like saying Thanos isn’t a nice person. Aside from All-New Wolverine #1, which was a great first issue (although the series quickly lost my interest after that) it’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a comic featuring one of my all time favourite characters. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the old coot now that Secret Wars has brought him back around (although I’m still not convinced we won’t see the younger version back sooner or later), and I have been counting down the days until this debut issue is going to be released. Can. Not. Bloody. Wait.

Bloodshot Reborn #10 (Valiant) – Thirty years from now, something apocalyptic has happened, and water is a precious commodity. The beginning of  new arc is always touted by Valiant as a new jumping on point, and they’re not wrong here. If you’ve ever been curious about the nanite infested super soldier, this is as good a place as any to jump onto the ongoing series.

Faith #1 (Valiant) – If you had superpowers you’d enjoy them, right? Faith does. She’s a brilliant, fun character that originated in another Valiant series (that I haven’t read yet), and despite her backstory you don’t need to know it all. Valiant are extremely good about giving you only what you need to know to get to know the character and nothing more (so when you read that other series it won’t be spoiled for you). A superb comic. Why isn’t it on your pull list?

Negative Space #3 (Dark Horse) – This series has been on my radar since I got the first issue in a Comic Block some months ago. It’s a beautifully crushing look into the effects of depression, and a very compelling story. You NEED to read this book – honestly in any other week this would be my top pick, but my inner Wolverine fanboy wouldn’t shut up.



Top Pick: Prophet Earth War #1 (Image Comics) – From Brandon Graham and his crew,  loved the relaunch of prophet when it started and still do. This book makes me feel like singing Sinead O’Connor, Nothing  compares 2 U, when prophet is on a hiatus, or Brandon is doing other projects i count the days it is missing. The harmony between writers and artists is such a relief, they all on the same page with this and it’s fantastic.

Hip Hop Family Tree #6 (Fantagraphics) – Ed Piskor has basically perfected his style here, the fact that this resonates with the individuals portrayed is testament to its greatness. Do you really need more reason to pick up the best hip hop inspired comic on the stands?

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3 (Marvel) – I really want this book to succeed and then DD take over the marvel cinematic universe. Also my kids love dinosaurs, as they should.

Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel) – I can’t follow why this version of Wolverine is now in the main universe and Jeff Lemire can be hit or miss but with Andrea Sorrentino art? Gotta check it out and see what the story is.

Saga #33 (Image Comics) – I’m not a regular reader, just love looking at Fiona Staples artwork from time to time, but I don’t care for her Archie comics thing at all.



Top Pick: Faith #1 (Valiant) – This first issue is fantastic as Valiant’s breakout star gets her own ongoing series. Faith as a character is positive and finding her place in the world, and that’s on top of the fact she’s not the skinny unrealistic shape of so many other comic characters. Relateable in so many ways, Faith is going to be huge in 2016.

Dreaming Eagles #2 (Aftershock Comics) – Garth Ennis’ latest war comic just caught me by total surprise. It’s was so high quality, and really looking forward to seeing what the second issue is like.

Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel) – I loved the original “Old Man Logan” storyline. The return was kind of meh. Now, this older version of Wolverine gets his own series. His inclusion in the new Marvel U doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but the character itself captures the broken down western hero that fits the character so well.

Southern Bastards #13 (Image Comics) – The best comic on the stands, hands down.

Superman: Lois and Clark #4 (DC Comics) – If you want the look and feel of a more classic Superman, here you go. This comic has delivered with every issue and it’s one of the comics I look forward to the most each month from DC.



Top Pick: Monstress #3 (Image Comics) – Few comics have made a major artistic statement as quickly as Monstress has. Dense, lush, beautiful, terrifying and bloody– it is the best fantasy comic of the year. In it, a young woman wrestles with both the monster within her and the monstrous society she faces. Hear our interview with writer Marjorie Liu.

Angela Queen of Hel #4 (Marvel) – One of Marvel’s best. Painted art by Stephanie Hans is the most beautiful on the stands. Our narrator Sera is worldly, funny, fourth-wall breaking but not at all in the Deadpool way we’ve grown bored of and she’s a trans woman of color and in love with Angela. Sera is the best new Marvel character since Kamala Khan.

Black Magick #4 (Image Comics) – They call it a Witch Noir. Rucka is an ace writer of complex female detectives. The art is Nicola Scott’s best and the story stands very well on its own as an interesting mystery. Here’s what I said about issue 1.

Cry Havoc #1 (Image Comics) – I’m not usually in to war comics. But lesbian werewolf musician war comics?! That’s at least worth a first issue.

Ryan Kelly is a really accomplished comics artist and the kids seem to like Simon Spurrier too. The buzz has been strong.

Faith #1 (Valiant) – Meet the first plus-sized super-heroine to star in her own comic! And it’s a lot of fun! Even if you’ve never read a Valiant comic book before this is a welcoming read. This mini-series works great on it’s own and stars a comics geek. Fantasy sequences drawn by Marguerite Sauvage are especially beautiful. It’s great to see a character who is drawn as big and beautiful. Listen to our interview with writer Jody Houser.



Island #6 (Image Comics) – Even with the ever so slightly reduced page count, you can still count on Island to be the greatest anthology out there in terms of casting its net far and wide to bring attention to new and unheard of comics talent on a monthly basis. The highlight this month is the story “Badge of Pride” featuring a group of young anthropomorphic guys as they navigate the social minefield of their local Pride event. Having followed his work on and off for years now it’s thrilling to see Onta’s work shown to a more mainstream audience and I was fortunate enough that he had time to answer a few of my questions last week about his new, more personal and story driven outing for Island.

This month also presents work from Gael B as well as a recolored, reprinted sci-fi classic in the form of Fil Barlow’s Zooniverse.

Saga #33 (Image Comics) – Thirty Three issues in and Vaughan and Staples sci-fi epic shows no signs of slowing down as it continues to shock, thrill and delight in equal measures. Staples beautiful cover shows that the adorable journalistic couple Upsher and Doff are back after being warned off reporting on the story of Marko and Alana way back in the books second arc. While only briefly touched upon I look forward to seeing how Vaughan develops the relationship between the pair as they become embroiled deeper in conflict and conspiracy. It’s been briefly hinted that the pairs society doesn’t look kindly on same sex couples and it will be fascinating to see what the writer has to say on the subject in a series that really pulls no punches with its social commentary.



Top Pick: Southern Bastards #13 (Image Comics) – I love southern fried chicken, so it’s no surprise I’ve taken a liking to Jason Aaron’s and Jason Latour’s complex, bleak, and brutal self proclaimed “Southern Fried Comic.”  The writers are taking their sweet tea time fleshing out each installment.

Cry Havoc #1 (Image Comics) – With a tagline that reads … “this is not the tale of a lesbian werewolf who goes to war. Except it kind of is” … you have to check out what it’s about.

Deadly Class #18 (Image Comics)– It’s finals week at Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts. Rick Remender’s dark depressive writing pulls you in deep into the violence.

Six #3 (451 Media) – In the last issue we took a step back to get the background story on Sarah’s coffee business, so I’m excited to hopefully see the team in action in this issue. The tension is building up slowly.

Wild’s End: Enemy Within #5 (BOOM! Studios) – I really hope they make this into an animated sci-fi feature. It’s H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in a Watership Down bucolic setting, with a wide cast of animal characters.



Top Pick: Monstress #3 (Image Comics) – If you, like me, are trying to diversify your reading this year, Monstress would be a great start. Image’s website describes it as “steampunk meets kaiju,” and both the story and the art are absolutely beautiful.

Black Canary #7 (DC Comics) – I absolutely adore Annie Wu’s art, and I’m always here for kick-butt lady characters. Black Canary is always one of the first comics I read on Wednesdays.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 (Marvel) – I love Unbeatable Squirrel Girl partially because her narrative voice is very similar to how I speak in real life. I also love Unbeatable Squirrel Girl because it’s adorable (I mean have you seen Erica Henderson’s art? Have you seen it.), upbeat, and hilarious.


Mr. H

Top Pick: Superman: Lois and Clark #4 (DC Comics) – Out of all the post Convergence titles, this one has been the sleeper for me. An in continuity tale with the REAL Superman. Good to see the marriage in tact and not magically wished away to a demon. I like the idea of Clark working from the shadows but can’t wait till he meets the New 52 Kal-El at some point. For now a very fun book that has long time fans buzzing.

Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel Comics) – The old (literally now) Canucklehead gets his own series. He’s trying to write the wrongs of his past. It’s Logan channeling Clint Eastwood. Ummm count me in!

Superman #48 (DC Comics) – The journey for Superman to get his powers back continues. This time he resorts to.. kryptonite? Ok I’ll bite but Vandalia Savage has been the highlight here so far. Guess I need to see where it’s going. So it’s time to up up and glow?



Top Pick: Extraordinary X-Men #6 (Marvel) – Been loving this title from issue #1; great team, great art and a great ride so far.  This issue has the team responding to a distress call from Weirdworld….sure ok.  I only know of this Weirdworld from seeing solicits for the book, so this will be an interesting read.

All-New Inhumans #3 (Marvel) – I am liking this title; a ship of volunteers traveling the world offering inhumanitarian aid (clever, I know) to those affected by the terrigen cloud released by Black Bolt.  The current storyline is a rehash; government taking advantage of the situation and using inhumans as weapons for their cause, but it works for this new climate.  And I am really enjoying Crystal in this leadership role. I always thought she could be more bad ass, and she’s really showing it here, but also showing some of it is a front and she needs her family.

Around the Tubes

We’re still digging ourselves out at GP HQ, but that doesn’t mean we’re not planning for this week’s comics. We’ll have our picks up in a little bit.

Until then, here’s some comic book news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tube

Panels – What Is the Golden Age? – A look back at the dawn of modern comics.

The Tampa Tribune – ‘Live action graphic novel’ melds radio play, comic books at Tampa show – One that’d be fun to see.

CBC – On this day in 1974: CBC investigates the fast-changing world of comics – Some cool history.

The Salt Lake Tribune – Promising sign emerges that Salt Lake, San Diego Comic-Con are close to settling  – Good they’re trying, but lets be honest, they wouldn’t settle unless they gain more than they lose.


Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – 750 Years in Paris

CBR – Cry Havoc #1

Comic Attack – Faith #1

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