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.
Oliver #3 (Image)** – An action-centric issue from Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson that doesn’t offer much by way of story or character development aside from our protagonist naturally stepping into a “heroic” or “leadership” role, but damn — what a visual storytelling clinic this is! The project’s origins as a screenplay are readily apparent as this is a very cinematic installment, and who knows? Maybe a movie might happen yet. Until then, we’ve got a gorgeous series of storyboards here to “oohh” and “aahh” over, don’t we? Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Black Badge #9 (Boom! Studios)** – A fun issue from Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins that takes us back to late-Cold War East Berlin before segueing back to the present day, the two segments joined by an event that will apparently have big repercussions. Can’t say enough about the art and colors on this series, it really fits the story to a proverbial “T” and makes even “side-step” chapters like this one well worth your time and money. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Batman #69 (DC)** So that’s it for the “Knightmares” storyline, huh? In with a whimper and out with much the same, this is arguably the weakest of a weak bunch, the Bat/Cat stuff coming across as way more flat and emotionless that writer Tom King apparently thinks it is, and Yanick Paquette turning in an uncharacteristically rushed-looking job on the art. Whatever comes next surely can’t be worse than this — can it? Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass
Meet The Skrulls #3 (Marvel)** – Family secrets from the past come to the fore and old wounds are re-opened in Robbie Thompson’s lightning-paced script for this issue, and Nico Henrichon’s art is getting more individualistic and distinctive with each passing month. Could this be the long-awaited successor to “The Vision” in terms of “prestige” Marvel projects? It sure seems like it might be. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
War Of The Realms: Punisher #1 (Marvel) In what plays out like Frank Castle in ” Assault On Precinct 13″, plus monsters is a fun debut issue. As we find Punisher having to defend the city by himself, as the Avengers are otherwise engaged. As the Dark Elves and Frost Giants have invaded the city and Frank has to get creative in order to defend the city and see tomorrow. By issue’s end, he somehow pulls the city together, and gained some allies but the fight is far from over. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy
Star Wars Age of Rebellion Special (Marvel)– We get three distinct Tales with 3 different creative teams. In the first story,” The Long Game”, we find IG-88, the robotic bounty hunter, as the reader finds out how he possesses bloodlust. In ” The Trial Of Dagobah”, we find Yoda as he is going stir crazy in exile alone until fate gives him a young Jedi to train whose last name just so happens to be Skywalker. In ” Stolen Valor” Biggs Darklighter and Jek Porkins go on vacation and find trouble hidden in paradise. Overall, an entertaining collection of stories which shows when you have superfans create stories like these, their love for the source material certainly shines through. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy
Star Wars TIE Fighter #1(Marvel)- We meet the pilots of Shadow Wing, the Empire’s elite fighter Squadron and who Vader believes can put down the Rebellion. As we meet each pilot, we find out just how much they’re like the rebels, just fighting for the Dark Side. As they soon hear whispers of some Intel of Rebellion fighters close by. By issue’s end, the Intel proves to be incorrect, it’s worse than they thought. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy
Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter #1 (Aftershock)– Adam Glass, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, and Hayden Sherman combine Gothic horror with alternate history and a side of progressive feminism in Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter. The story is told from Mary’s POV as she believes she has a purpose beyond being the mother of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s child. An opportunity arises in a horror story writing contest, but then Gothic fiction becomes her new status quo. Glass and Cuartero-Brigg write a lovely pastiche of Universal Horror and the legends of Byron, the Shelleys, and Claire Clairmont’s journeys while Sherman has a scratchy horror style with strong reds and blacks in the color palette. The character movements and expression could be clearer though. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read
Spider-Man Life Story #2 (Marvel)– It’s the 1970s where Peter Parker works for Reed Richards’ Future Foundation, his wife Gwen Stacy works for the kinda creepy Miles Warren, and Mary Jane and Harry Osborn (who has a drug problem) are married. Mark Bagley still has his classic weakness of drawing women looking the same, but he and Chip Zdarsky tell a heart rending story of how Peter wallows in guilt because he feels he is responsible for both the death of Uncle Ben and Flash Thompson in Vietnam. He also lets ethical dilemmas get in the way of him being a great scientist and has some interesting conversations with Reed. Also, Zdarsky and Bagley pull off the Clone Saga somehow in this issue, and it makes sense and has high emotional stakes. I also liked the scene where Mary Jane calls out Peter’s bullshit before doing a disco DJ set. Zdarsky, Bagley, inker Drew Hennessy, and colorist Frank D’Armata soak up the drama in Peter Parker’s personal life to create a compelling second issue even if it’s not as visually interesting as #1. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4 (BOOM!)– Jordie Bellaire and Dan Mora have done an excellent job differentiating this new reboot of Buffy from the original TV show, and it continues in issue 4 when Giles tells Buffy and the Scoobies to take a night off from slaying and training. This comic also focuses on Xander a little bit, who is probably the Buffy characters that has aged the least well as a “nice guy”. Bellaire and Mora go deep into his feelings of being left out and why he could potentially go “dark”, and it’s refreshing to him not written as a self-insert character. Another throughline in this episode is the idea of lying to people we care about from Buffy not letting her mom know about her being the Slayer to Willow, who is openly lesbian and kicks ass at magic and combat, not telling her girlfriend Rose. It’s a weakness that could definitely be exploited by this arc’s Big Bad. And yeah, this comic gets so much right from skipping the boring Master and making Spike and Drusilla the main villains to having modernist vampire Spike be adept and texting and yeah, the final page. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: 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 (**).