Tag Archives: dark horse

Review: Spell On Wheels TPB

Best friends. Road trips. Fighting the patriarchy. Found family. Magic. Really, what more can you ask for? Dark Horse’s Spell On Wheels was one I picked up the first issue of then completely forgot about in the mess of life. Definitely a mistake that I wanted to correct with this trade and I’m glad I did.

The overall plot architecture of set forth by Kate Leth is a pretty similar one to early seasons of Supernatural, Buffy, or Charmed: monster-of-the-week with a metaplot that strings it all together like beads on a necklace. In the case of Spell On Wheels, it’s more of an item-of-the-week. Our protagonists, a trio of Northeasterner witches, have their house broken into and looted for the tools of their trades. When they can’t find who’s responsible, they track down the buyers for their stuff on a road trip to make sure they aren’t the last witches out there.

It’s not all adventurous romps though. Jo, Andy, and Claire help where they can and correct some of the wrongs they end up running into along the way. We see a world where, even though the supernatural certainly exists, it’s not the only thing people ever care about. It makes the world as a whole feel far more real than it would otherwise. The charming and often rounded art of Megan Levens is a good fit for this story. The characters and words here aren’t sharp and aggressive, they’re inviting and open. The colors of Marissa Louise provide just the right amount of pop to the frames, pulling the eyes exactly where they need to go.

Overall, Spell On Wheels is definitely a trade to grab then continue with individual issues if you’ve enjoyed it. It really takes those first five issues to suck you entirely into the slow burn. This story wouldn’t be the same without the creative team that it has and it shows.

Story: Kate Leth Art: Megan Levens
Color: Marissa Louise Cover: Jen Bartel
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0
Recommendation: Buy, especially if you’ve been binging Charmed or The Magicians lately

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Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/24

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.

 


 

Logan

lobo-the-road-runnerBatman #25 (DC Comics) Batman #25 is a prologue to Tom King, Mikel Janin, and June Chung’s anticipated “War of Jokes and Riddles” storyline. It’s told in flashback by Batman himself and shows both the Joker and Riddler at their peak spreading chaos and crime through their humorous and puzzling M.O.’s respectively. I enjoyed King’s characterization of the Riddler as a kind of twisted tutor, who helped the GCPD with their homework, er, cases while using his personal knowledge about them to escape. Janin’s panels featuring him are symmetrical and occasionally look like prison bars because he feels like Batman’s the only riddle he can’t solve. The ones with Joker are much freer flowing and help set up an arc-long personal mystery of something Batman has done in his past that he regrets and hasn’t told anyone until now. This continues Tom King’s tradition of telling epic stories while remaining grounded in Batman’s own psyche.  Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Lobo/Road Runner Special #1 (DC Comics) In Lobo/Road Runner Special #1, Bill Morrison, comics legend Kelley Jones, and Michelle Madsen fit the classic Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons into an interconnected mythology that involves mad scientists and secret experiments. Then, Lobo shows up for the Road Runner and blows it all to hell. Seeing Lobo’s hopeless attempts to kill Road Runner with the annoying “Beep beep” in his ear as he regenerates over and over again is super hilarious. There’s also a B-plot where Wile E Coyote hunts down Kilowog for Lobo’s employer, and it’s nice to see him be competent and not just a punching bag for Road Runner. Jones’ take on Wile E is a little freaky, and he looks just like a mutated science experiment. Throw in a Morrison written and drawn backup where Lobo tries and fails to hunt Road Runner in the “kid-friendly” (Cartoon violence is more than okay.) Looney Tunes universe, and this is another excellent addition to the DC/Looney Tunes crossovers. Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Life with Kevin #4 (Archie) Life with Kevin is back with plenty of pratfalls, smooching, and Veronica drama courtesy of writer/artist Dan Parent and inker J.Bone. Kevin has to deal with the social media fallout of his going on a prom date with a young gay high school student and uses this as an opportunity to call out networks for exploiting this touching moment for ratings. Young queer kids aren’t commodities. In the second half of the story, Kevin runs into his cheating ex Michael, who has become the star of a Spanish language soap opera. Parent pokes fun at soap opera tropes in the middle of a comic that has become one while still bringing the emotion because Kevin pines for Michael even though he know he’s bad for him. Life with Kevin #4 is super adorable, super funny, and has just the right amount of the feels to go with Parent’s great Archie house style art and baby blue palette. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

black hammer 10.jpgRoyal City #4 (Image)** – Another fine, character-driven installment in Jeff Lemire’s beautifully laconic series, this issue probably would have benefited from having an editor give things a look as some of the internal monologues veer toward being overblown, but on the whole this book’s artfully-constructed humanity continues to impress and inspire. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Black Hammer #10 (Dark Horse)** – If you thought Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston unloaded a whopper of a cliffhanger on readers last issue,wait until you see this one! My sole (and very slight) concern is that they may have given away just a bit too much about what’s really going with their jaw-dropper this time out, but they’ve consistently surprised me so far, and there’s probably no reason to doubt that they have further surprises up their sleeve. Consistently magnificent stuff that really does reward folks who read it in singles. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

God Country #6 (Image)** – A superb wrap-to Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s heartbreakingly humane cosmic drama, this is a beautifully-scripted paean to love and loss between fathers and sons that will leave a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, amazingly illustrated by Shaw and even more amazingly colored by Jason Wordie. The one and only strike against it is that it reduces the previous few issues of Kirby-esque space battles to a mere redundancy and once you regain your composure, you’ll realize this whole thing could have been told just as — perhaps even more — effectively in three or four chapters rather than six. Still, this is agonizingly powerful stuff, especially for those of us with aging parents who we want to say a lot to while they’re still with us. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #25 (DC)** – A fairly solid start to the new “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” storyline that doesn’t “wow” by any means, but is definitely a continuation of the recent quality uptick we’ve seen on the book. Tom King seems to be easing into something of a “groove” with the scripting on this series, and Mikel Janin’s artwork is simply stunning, and whileI’m a bit concerned about the fact that this is yet another journey back into Batman’s past rather than a story that will move the narrative — and the character — forward, what the hell? So far, so (pretty) good. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

IHateFairyland_13-1.pngI Hate Fairyland #13 (Image) – You know you’re onto something when you can start handing over your creator-owned series to guest artists and know that they won’t skip a beat. Dean Rankine handles the art on the story of Larry’s dream of a Gert-less life and he absolutely kills it. From the opening shot of fly maternity (which cannot be unseen), to the dung mines, to his ultimately meltdown on the Ellfen Show, every page is a wicked delight. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Old Guard #5 (Image) – Greg Rucka & Leandro Fernandez conclude their tale of immortal soldiers with many, many prices paid. Nothing earth-shaking here; it’s loud and fast-moving, but the action is solidly driven by the desires of the characters and everything actually makes dramatic sense, which is more than I can say for most action comics and movies. I think I’ve said it before, but if these two want to make more war comics I will buy them all. Overall: 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 (**).

Legends Collide When Wonder Woman and Conan Meet

The wondrous Diana of Themyscira comes face to face with the Cimmerian barbarian Conan in a new miniseries this fall—Wonder Woman/Conan. DC Comics and Dark Horse have teamed up for a crossover of epic proportions, bringing back fan-favorite Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone and Wonder Woman artist Aaron Lopresti for an adventure unlike anything seen before—a collision of legends.

Our tale begins as Conan the Barbarian arrives on the shores of an unknown land, and soon meets the world’s most fearsome arena fighter—Wonder Woman. Ill-fated circumstances force them both into slavery. As they attempt to free themselves from the grips of the rich and powerful slave-owner Dellos, a dark magic descends upon their land, a presence that wants to destroy them both. But who has the might to stop the most talented gladiators who have ever existed?

Wonder Woman has been a pivotal character in the DC Universe for over 75 years as a member of the Trinity and the Justice League, and as a notable icon around the world. Conan the Barbarian, similarly, has long been an important character since his creation 85 years ago. Dark Horse has been publishing Conan stories since 2003, and new and exciting tales continue to hit shelves.

A tale of myths and magic, Simone and Lopresti bring to life a new world for these two heroes—weaving a story of fantasy, mythos and adventure. The six-issue saga begins September 20.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/17

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.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Alex

CATALYST PRIME ACCELL #1Accell #1 (Catalyst Prime/Lion Forge) This was a really fun comic, and one I highly recommend you checking out. There’s quite a few variations on the speedster type hero, but I don’t think I’ve seen the power set done quite like this before – and then when you add in the brilliant nods to video games and gaming culture… then you’ve got a genuinely interesting comic that I want a lot more of. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #3 (Marvel) I can’t say this was bad… but then I can’t really say it was good either. At least Kaine was in it – that’s worth a point on its own. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Noble #1 (Catalyst Prime/Lion Forge) Another solid win for the publisher this week. You could do a lot worse than this comic that’s basically twenty odd pages of well drawn action. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Weapon X #4 (Marvel) Meh… I’ve read worse comics. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read.

X-Men Blue #5 (Marvel) I missed the last couple issues of this series, but ultimately that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of this issue. It was a fairly standard X-Men fight issue, which certainly helped my ease of reading, but there wasn’t a whole lot more than that if I’m being honest. Still, enjoyable for what it was. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

George

DDFORGE_Cv1_Andy_Kubert_varDark Days The Forge #1 (DC) I’ve been staying away from big events but DC goes all out for DARK DAYS THE FORGE #1 and it pays off with a “Dan Brown” historical, super cosmic mystery that only the Batman can solve. Without spoiling anything, Snyder & Tynion take full advantage of their all-star art team who help us follow a dark mystery of the DCU that Batman has been investigating for years. This dark secret has somehow connections to the Guardians and Nth metal. Besides the secret, the team and assets that Batman puts into play has some great twists and turns, bringing back some of my favorite characters. Recommendation: worth the buy.

Christopher

dept h 15Dept H #15 (Dark Horse) -Matt Kindt does an interesting flashback almost continuously throughout the issue. Revealing more of Mia’s past with her father. A romantic past with Alain, and his subtle influence of why she went down there in the first place. Lending a sense of time to the series overall. The watercolor artwork continues to stand out, as the story seems to deepen. Yet given how only a couple issue remain to be released, how will the story end? Will Mia find out who killed her father? Will they return the surface? Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #1 (Dark Horse)** – I guess they’re going the route of starting over with a new first issue for every arc of Brian Wood and Mack Chater’s series, and while I’m not sure how successful that will be in coaxing new readers to “jump on,” the high-stakes drama on hand here certainly will keep those of us who have been reading from the start onboard. A semi-accidental hostage standoff appears as though it’s going to be the focal point of this “new” run, and while I’m still highly dubious (to say the least) about the morals of an admitted serial sexual harasser chronicling the lives of racist white separatists, I have to admit this is addicting stuff, superbly illustrated. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

BlackHood-SeasonTwo_05-0VThe Black Hood #5 (Archie/Dark Circle)** – The final issue of “season” two of this series is the end of the road for it (and, I would assume, the Dark Circle label) altogether, it seems, and while Duane Swierczynski and Greg Scott build to a fairly satisfying climax between our two protagonists and their adversary for the bulk of this installment, the whiplash-inducing last couple of pages do wrap things up a bit too haphazardly — not that it could probably be helped, given that the book’s pink slip had come in. Nice to see things left open for the possibility of a return, though — even if it’ll never happen. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Kingpin #5 (Marvel)** – I was enjoying the heck out of the final issue of Matthew Rosemberg and Ben Torres’ mini-series, which plays on the classic “Daredevil” trope of a fixed fight, but then things get really oblique and ill-defined at the end, and it really does let the side down considerably. Lovely art throughout, though, it must be said. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read if you’ve been doing so, skip if you haven’t.

Copperhead #14 (Image)** – Jay Faerber and Drew Moss put the wraps on the long-awaited return arc for this sci-fi/western amalgamation, and while the murder mystery plotline gets wrapped up a bit too quickly and conveniently for my tastes, the various subplots that have been converging on our sheriff start to bubble to the surface with some serious fervor, and the future for this book looks very exciting indeed — especially now that Moss is really hitting his stride on the art. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Allie

There’s Nothing There #2 (Black Mask) Still very mediocre. Still feels awkward and stilted. Still feels like writer quietly detests women who are socialites and the culture around them. Still no real clues into whatever intrigue is supposedhappening. Still doesn’t really feel like horror because nothing about it feels personal. Still very much a letdown. Recommendation: Hard Pass

Shean

Vision Directors Cut #1(Marvel) In what is truly a “slice of life”, the Vision builds a VISIONDIRCUT2017002family : a wife, Virginia and kids, Viv and Val. As much as the family attempts to be normal, they run into a ton of conundrums which challenge their notion of normal. Eventually, their super-selves catch up with their lives and they have to fight the Reaper. As their daughter gets taken, the Vision goes on a mission to find her. Great book with all the extras you expect from a Directors cut. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

The Defenders #1 (Marvel) In this debut issue of the soon to be Netflix miniseries, we catch up with the gang soon after Jessica gets shot. Apparently Diamondback is alive and well and the Defenders busted up one of his establishments. Meanwhile, Diamondback attempts to forge an alliance with Black Cat. Altogether, a great reintroduction to these heroes in a group dynamic but what is the real buyin to this book is Marquez’s gorgeous art, as he is almost like the second coming of Alex Ross. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Black Panther and The Crew #3 (Marvel) In the first few pages, the reader is taken into a hidden history of how some of the areas where indigenous peoples inhabited, where we find out much like Harlem, they also had their own heroes.Also, In this issue of this superior series, T’Challa and Ororo uncover what seems at first to be a project development to gentrify Harlem but something more sinister is at play. When the reader finds out what happened, a tragedy occurs. By issue’s end, another hero to Harlem shows up, Luke Cage, as Hydra will have their hands full. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

Cinema Purgatorio #10 (Avatar)** Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill crack open the door on cinema purgatorio 10.jpga concept I want so, so much more of: kid investigators and Cthulhu. The idea is so strong (Lovecraftian haunted seaside cinema) that I couldn’t help but be disappointed with the execution, which is constrained by the format of the series. Think I’ll go and dig up some Ramsey Campbell stories. In Code Pru, Garth Ennis and Raulo Caceres dig into Pru’s past with her adoptive parents Annabelle and Alabaster. Maybe not for everyone, but I’m quite enjoying watching Pru try to be normal in a world of relentless horror. Line of the ish: “Mom, I’m not worshipping a thing that f*cks itself in the face.” – “You are or you’re grounded!” And onto Kieron Gillen and Nahuel Lopez’ Modded, which has grown on me, but this one’s a bit of a placeholder, setting up what should be a corker of a next chapter, in which our heroes go shopping for demons. Purgatorio: 8, Code Pru: 8.5, Modded: 8 Recommendation: read but it’s too expensive for what you get

Bitch Planet Triple Feature #1 (Image)**  Interesting spinoff from the main series, letting other creators explore this world. Briefly: “Windows” by Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Maria Frôhlich features an interesting character in Lupe, a nurse on BP who’s hung out to dry and given a “soft landing” as a maid. “Without and Within” by Andrew Aydin and Joanna Estep goes behind the scenes of what seems to be Congress, and a poor secretary’s first day on the job. “The Invisible Woman” by Conley Lyons and Craig Yeung tells the story of a hairdo gone wrong. They were all okay, I guess, but I expected work that was much, much sharper – especially in short story mode. “Windows” felt like it was the only piece that was actually set in the world of BP, as the other two could almost have taken place today. The stories here don’t yet fully complement BP either in style or in substance, but I’m fairly confident that this will improve as the series progresses. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Image‘s statement on Divided States of Hysteria. Having reviewed the new Chaykin last week, I felt compelled to look at Eric Stephenson’s statement about the “conversation”. I couldn’t disagree more with nearly everything in it. This book couldn’t be more escapist, relying on the exploitation of fears of the other (in just about every category: Muslims, POC, trans women) in the name of “rebelliousness” and “not pulling any punches”. But I reiterate: all of the punches are aimed down. The statement relies on a fallacy of false balance, i.e. that people who are factually wrong are just part of “the conversation” (in the way that creationism in science curricula is “teaching the controversy”). Completely absent from Chaykin’s book is, in fact, anyone actually working towards progress and justice, actually striving for “discourse, understanding, and cooperation”, and reducing what has become a life-and-death fight for rights and recognition to “opposing viewpoints.” Hysteria, in substance, is so one-sided, so cherrypicking in its choices of “worst aspects of reality” that it’s hard to see how it can add anything to a “productive conversation about the present state of our society.” Overall: 2 Recommendation: Read, but I sure as hell didn’t buy it.


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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/10

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.


Logan

shade9Shade the Changing Girl #9 (DC/Young Animal)– Shade attends a Sonic Booms concert. They’re a band from the 1960s that was featured in her favorite Earth TV show Life with Honey, and she is sad and puzzled when they look so old. This leads to a chaotic series of events when Shade de-ages a bunch of Gothamites and looks for the actor who played Honey. Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, and Kelly Fitzpatrick produce an ode to nostalgia and add some heat to the plotline of the Metans looking for her M-Vest. The scenes in Meta are pretty trippy, and Shade interacting with “ancient” computers is quite a rush color-wise. Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Buy

Giant Days #27 (BOOM!)– Esther going “woke” is predictably hilarious, and John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, and Whitney Cogar also manage to skewer performative social justice culture without punching down. To catch the eye of an attractive lad, Esther decides to help protest the opening of a new chain grocery store with the help of lots of yelling, inane slogans, and barring the path of people getting food and necessary supplies for their family. Any time Esther is the center of a plot, the drama and comedy are both on high alert, and Sarin and Fleming produce some of the series’ most hilarious moments when she invites her woke beau into her apartment. The reaction shots alone are worth picking this issue up, and there’s also a simmering subplot with Susan and her ex McGraw, who still have feelings for each other. Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

GA_Cv24_dsDark Knight III: The Master Race #9 (DC)** – Go on, admit it : you knew that Brian Azzaello and Andy Kubert, (and maybe even Frank Miller, assuming his involvement amounted to anything more than a courtesy credit) were going to stick the landing on this one along with every other thing that’s been wrong with it. And they surely do. All this issue proves is that they easily could have wrapped this series up in the originally-allotted eight issues, probably even six. But hey, Batman’s young again, so you know what that means : a “Dark Knight Universe” monthly series is probably on the way at some point. Try to contain your excitement. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass. I purchased my copy, which proves I need a brain transplant.

Batman #24 (DC) – Just as I thought. A stunt. Nothing happens in this issue apart from an over-wrought conversation between Batman and Gotham Girl until — that last page that we all knew about going in, anyway. Tom King just can’ seem to find his usual mojo as writer on this book, and while the fill-in pages by Clay and Seth Mann look really nice, David Finch’s art on the bulk of the comic is as terrible as ever. Overall: 3.5. Recommendation: Pass.

The Flintstones #12 (DC) – If the best book in the DC line had to go, this is the way to do it, as Mark Russell and Steve Pugh deliver a love letter to their characters, readers, and really to humanity in general. I miss this series already, and if you haven’t been reading it in singles, then by all that’s holy, please pick it up the trades! It’s not so much an extension and/or revamp of “The Flintstones” as it is the thematic and spiritual successor to another legendary comic that used prehistoric tropes to talk about then-contemporary (and timeless) issues : Howie Post’s sublime “Anthro.” Yes, this has really been that good. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Green Arrow #24 (DC) – Benjamin Percy and Juan Ferreyra wrap up their “The Rise Of Star City” arc with a reasonably solid issue that leaves Seattle completely fucked and Ollie in a pretty tough little pickle himself. The cliffhanger ending feels more than a bit forced and basically comes out of nowhere, but the gorgeous, vibrant art more than makes up for any story deficiencies. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

George

Bankshot.01Bankshot #1 (Dark Horse Comics) Writer: Alex de Campi, Artist: ChrisCross, Colorist: Snakebite Cortez. I had a major synaptic disconnect this past weekend, I literally had 5 minutes with Alex de Campi (a cool person by the way) at Book Expo America 2017, we talked about her other book Mayday and just never put the name to Bank Shot which I had just finished reading on the train up to BEA. I missed my opportunity to ask her about this latest kick-ass book. And kick-ass it is, from de Campi’s blazing plot and tight dialog, to ChrisCross’s amazing flair for action scenes and ability at drawing a tight fade, coupled with Cortez’s choices for lighting a panel with dramatic flare, Bank Shot is a solid jumping on point for fans of action and adventure. The hero Marcus King is a former US soldier, turned soldier of fortune, imagine a one man A-Team with a James Bond budget. Dark Horse has a track record for gritty comics and Bank Shot continues that legacy with this mini-series.

Patrick

Stray Bullets #24 (Image/El Capitan) – After getting beat up and kicked around and generally treated like a dog, Orson gets his day when the gang takes a detour to New Orleans for a little R&R. One of the things I love about David Lapham’s work is how he can lull you into some deep, quiet moments for pages at a time and then you hit the bottom of the bottle and everything turns upside down and inside out and that’s how the fire in the bar got started. Also: the most terrifying line in this book is “Derek would like his mustache back.” Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy already!

agents of pactAgents of PACT #2 (Chapterhouse) – The moment I’ve been dreading: the meeting of Fleur de Lys and Kebec. But first: more of this incomprehensible plotline and Marla’s inexplicable gold… generating? manipulating? conjuring? Gold-type powers. Back to Manon and Yvette. Uh, Yvette? Really? For a 20something Québécoise? Yvette is a name that hasn’t been given to girls here since about 1957, and it’s easy to find the most popular 100 names for any given year on the internet. Also, for someone as supposedly starstruck as Yvette is by Manon – as in, meeting Fleur de Lys is the sole and entire reason for Kebec to come back to the fold – there is not one panel depicting their meeting. Kalman Andrasofsky & Blake Northcott’s writing is painfully by-the-numbers (including the scene between Redcoat and Marla where R. explains how she had to make the tough call in the field). Federica Manfredi does a solid job on the art, though Caroline Nolasco’s colours muddy it rather than enhance it. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Skip

The Divided States of Hysteria #1 (Image) – Howard Chaykin returns to the present(ish) day with a political thriller designed, by his own admission, to offend liberals and conservatives alike. First things first: master letterer Ken Bruzenak absolutely crushes it here – the relentless noise of internet chatter that pervades the background is both maddening and perfect for not only the tone but for Chaykin’s writing in general. In terms of art, Chaykin’s page design smartly drives the story forward in a dense but crisp televisual style. Now, the story. Really basically, the President and cabinet have been assassinated. Frank Villa, our usual cynical lantern-jawed hero/schmuck, is a CIA field officer now (apparently) in charge of counter-terrorism stuff. Things go wrong and a group of Muslim women set off a bomb in the middle of New York City. Meanwhile, various serial killers are arrested in sordid circumstances. This book is dirty and messy and grimy, bloodshot and cum-stained, every page a crime scene. Which does not mean it’s provocative – rather, it reminds me of Kathy Griffin’s Trump-decapitated photo, where the targets are easy and the punches aimed squarely downwards. Chaykin’s work is, as always, remarkable and unique and relentless. But the politics are too reactionary to be truly provocative, too angry and confused to be really incendiary, and overall so overwrought that I’m left with the impression that what we’re seeing is not so much the state of America as the pure, unadulterated state of 21st-century Chaykin. Overall: 9 and 4 Recommendation: Read

 


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

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Preview: Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1

Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1

Story: Kevin Panetta
Art: Paulina Ganucheau

An elite group of teenage girls with magical powers have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests–they re also battling monsters!

After defeating a former ZS member and her mean-girl minions, the girls thought they d get a little break! But a new big bad s come out to play, and demons are starting to overrun the downtown!

Review: Predator Hunters #2

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Two privately owned islands in the South Pacific. One an idyllic paradise overseen by a benevolent doctor, the other a jungle hell where monsters rule. The Predator hunters have come looking for big game, but it’s the traps you never expect that will kill you…

Predator Hunters #2 relies heavily on flashbacks. That focus helps to solidify some of the characters’ backgrounds aboard the ship giving us more depth and an idea of what to expect. It also shows us the various reasons why they decided to hunt the galaxy’s deadliest hunter. There is a big reveal in that a Predator has a hunting sanctuary on Earth. Which does beg one small question, how long has it been here?

The art manages to portray past and present as the plot shifts and makes it easy to determine when we are in the story. There is also some solid short hand to hand combat scenes as the crew preps for its hunt which primes the series for the eventual battle to come. I’m curious to see how that is useful against a Predator.

I am a bit curious to see how useful that is against a Predator.

Story: Chris Warner Art: Francisco Ruiz Velasco
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Dark Hose Announces an American Gods Product Line

Dark Horse is excited to announce its first official American Gods products. Following the successful premiere on STARZ in the U.S. and Amazon Prime Video internationally, the American Gods TV series, produced by FremantleMedia North America, is based on Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel of the same name.  In collaboration with FremantleMedia North America (FMNA), Dark Horse Deluxe will release a slate of collectible products including a sculpted coin replica pin, playing cards, barware, embroidered patches, coaster sets, lenticular cards, journals, and optical illusion products.

The Dark Horse Deluxe first product release with FMNA will include a 2-pack pint glass set and a 3-pack shot glass set commemorating the infamous watering hole of the Gods, Jack’s Crocodile Bar. The American Gods: Jack’s Crocodile Bar Pint Glass Set features the bar’s logo on one side of the glass and “A Great Place for a Beer and a Bite” on the other. The American Gods: Jack’s Crocodile Bar Pint Glass Set goes on sale August 16, 2017, and will retail for $19.99.

The American Gods: Shot Glass Set has one glass for each step of Shadow Moon and the mysterious Mr. Wednesday’s fateful deal: one shot glass is the compact, one is the seal, and one is the charm. The American Gods: Shot Glass Set also goes on sale August 16, 2017, and retails for $14.99.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/3

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.


Ryan C

HadriansWall_07-1Kill Or Be Killed #9 (Image)** – As Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ latest long-form series careens toward the conclusion of its second arc, our hapless protagonist seems well and truly out of his depth and the walls feel as if they’re closing in around him from all sides. A breakneck-paced issue that sees Phillips return to form on the artistic front after a couple of issues where the proportions of his characters seemed uncharacteristically off, and showcases Brubaker’s “dude, you’re so fucked” plotting skills at their finest. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Hadrian’s Wall #7 (Image)** – The penultimate chapter of Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis’ sci-fi murder mystery/brinksmanship thriller sees the identity of the killer (probably) revealed while simultaneously upping the ante something fierce as far as the standoff between Earth and its colony world goes. More superb Sienkiewicz-esque art from Reis is the icing on this magnificently-constructed cake, I honestly can’t wait to see how things wrap up next month! Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Moon Knight #14 (Marvel)** – Not a bad wrap-up to Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood’s year-plus run on this series, although hardly the most memorable one, either. The final conflict between Marc Spector and his “patron” god Khonshu turns out to be something of an anti-climatic Marc vs. himself dust-up — which has been the main storyline here all along — that leaves him essentially right back where he was when this whole thing started. Smallwood’s illustrations are certainly lovely, but the story is kind of a “meh” affair on the whole. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Secret Empire #3 (Marvel)** – Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis certainly deliver the goods as far as the art goes on this book, but damn, Nick Spencer’s story is quickly devolving into pretty standard-issue crossover stuff, with lots of characters getting just a little bit of “screen time,” a number of should-be-moving pieces essentially standing in place as far as the plot goes, and an overall feeling that we’ve seen all this before too many times to count. In fairness, I certainly never expected much from this “summer blockbuster” event — and it turns out that’s exactly what we’re getting. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

 

Patrick

SexCriminals_19-1Kill Or Be Killed #9 (Image) – After a few issues of changing points of view, we are squarely back with vigilante Dylan in the most conventionally-written issue in a while. That’s not a bad thing when the conventional writer is Ed Brubaker, but it’s like the last couple of issues just disappeared. Phillips and Breitweiser crush it as usual. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Sex Criminals #19 (Image) – As a writer of clever burlesque song parodies, I can’t help but nod at how pleased Fraction is with his Wide Wiener Man jingle. However, self-satisfaction (ahem) doesn’t go very far. There’s a nice first date scene, and it was kind of nice to see Suzie trying to get out of the weirdness, but it’s all starting to feel a bit run-of-the-mill, like a dull fourth season. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Skip

Ash vs Army of Darkness #0 (Dynamite) – Much as I love the idea of an Ash-as-substitute-high-school-teacher Evil Dead story, did Chris Sims and Chad Bowers really need an entire issue to set it up? And it’s not like anyone picking up this book needs a recap of the movies. Mauro Vargas’ art? It’s tough in these kinds of adaptations to walk the line between getting a good representation of the real actor and doing good comic art – Vargas, for me, gets into no-man’s-land, neither representative nor cartoony enough. It’s all a bit timid, as if they don’t trust that buyers of an Evil Dead book are going to be totally on board with whatever insanity the artistic team brings. Bring it, baby! Overall: 5 Recommendation: skip and try #1

joe golemGeorge

Joe Golem Occult Detective Outer Dark #1 (Dark Horse) – Writers Mignola and Golden bring their literary hero to the comic page and take us on a weird trip through the looking glass to an alternate Earth where New York City circa 1967 resembles Venice, half submerged this Drowning City is the setting for an occult murder mystery. Our Hero Joe Golem suffering from crippling nightmares must help the NYPD find the murderer with the black eyes full of stars. This book is a great mashup of pulp fiction and alternate history with a dash of magic. Reynolds makes this world accessible and intriguing with a style that harkens to those yesterdays of private eyes. A solid comic worth the read.

Alex

Moon Knight #14 (Marvel) If you’ve been reading the series so far, you may as well read this. If you haven’t been then…. this isn’t the best ending. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass



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 (**).

Flashback Friday Review: The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century

MW1We all know someone who’s never seen Star Wars or doesn’t gets it when you say “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!,” it’s from Jaws by the way. Whenever I meet someone like that I let them know how they have a void in their life that needs filling. When it came to Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons Martha Washington I was the one who had a void to fill, but thanks to Dark Horse Comics for publishing The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century, this trade paperback collects every page of Our shero Martha Washington. My life is complete as I take a flashback to this visionary work from two of comics greatest storytellers.

The late 80’s- early 90’s saw a huge number of creators becoming so disenfranchised with the big comic companies that they struck of on their own or headed to smaller companies to form boutique labels. This new freedom allowed Miller the ability to further his critique on current events and society from the viewpoint of heroine Martha Washington.MW2

Woman, soldier, leader, weapon, protector, explorer, Earth Mother all attributes and details that give you a very broad description of Washington. This black woman born in the slums of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini–Green Homes housing project, a maximum security “home” in this story, becomes the most influential person in history, saving the US and Earth from enemies foreign and domestic. Again the most basic, lay explanation of this book I could think of because Miller and Gibbons create a world that hits a little too close to home with a parody of US international and domestic politics, thankfully Washington is there to help them survive.

MW6This edition collects every appearance of Martha, including the short black and white stories, now fully colored and remastering and has a great crossover with Miller’s other creation, Big Guy from Big Guy and Rusty. The trade is graced by a brief introduction from Miller but the true value is Gibbons insight for each stage of the various story arcs, backstory of the series publishing herstory in addition to pages of concept notes and design ideas.

MW5Sadly the importance of this book is I feel more relevant in today’s world of 45*, ecological disasters on the horizon, Hydra-Cap, the seduction of artificial intelligence and America at a critical juncture for its collective soul. You won’t be able to not compare timelines and you’ll wonder if her version of the 21st century is better than ours, if only Millers crystal ball of social comictary could comfort us in knowing that we’ll make it through the next four years with only minor bumps and bruises.

If you’ve never read it go fill that void in your life like I did.

 

George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, current book lover, and lifelong comic geek. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on twitter at GCarmona3.

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