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.
Deathstroke #28 (DC): This is probably the best starting place you’re going to get on this series as Slade Wilson deals with the fallout from last week’s annual. Unfortunately it feels a bit like watching a random episode of an ongoing soap opera. Christopher Priest is one of our best writers but he’s not one to hold the hands of new readers. There’s plenty of action and a few good character bits. Diognes Neves’ art is good but not particularly remarkable. You’re better off starting with the first trade if you haven’t been reading from day one. Rating: 7 Recommendation: Buy.
Swamp Thing Winter Special (DC): I’ve never understood the appeal of Tom King and the late Len Wein. I don’t dispute that they’re good writers but they’re just not my thing. That said I love Swamp Thing so I was interested to read this especially after the attrocity that was Young Monsters In Love. It’s okay but it doesn’t come close to touching Alan Moore or Scott Snyder’s run or even Wein’s seminal work on the character with co-creator Bernie Wrightson. Nothing really grabbed me about either King’s story of Swamp Thing in a blizzard or Wein’s final script presented as he left it without dialog and illustrated by Kelley Jones (one of the few artists who could possibly hold a candle to Wrightson). It’s not bad but it’s not particularly memorable either. Rating: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Vs #1 (Image): Since there’s nothing particularly original about the concept (war as entertainment) execution is key and fortunately it’s pretty good. Ivan Brandon is a solid writer but the real star is Esad Ribic’s art. He delivers some really interesting, quirky designs in his signature style that give Vs the feeling of a Euro-comic or a Heavy Metal feature. Letter Aditya Bidkar completes the illusion with square balloons and some night digital effects meant to simulate the pop up text that appears on screen during a broadcast. There’s a lot of fun to be had here and a lot of potential for more as the series progresses. Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy.
Twisted Romance #1 (Image): Reading Twisted Romance is a bit like visiting a modern art museum. It’s so defiantly different from what mainstream comics are that just looking at what Alex DeCampi, Katie Skelly, and Sarah Horrocks put on the page challenges your perception of what comics can be. There’s also a text feature by Magen Cubed. This isn’t a comic for everyone but if you like the idea of a horror romance comic with LGBTQ themes rendered in the visual tradition of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon then it just might be for you. Rating: 8. Recommendation: Buy.
X-Men: Red #1 (Marvel) Whatever bad taste might have been left in my mouth from last months end of Phoenix Resurrection this first issue has pretty much purged. Tom Taylor does a great job of wrapping the newly restored Jean Grey up in the trappings of a messiah for mutant kind and it only makes sense seeing that she’s come back from the dead not once but twice. More importantly he understands how these people should talk. I’m really looking forward to where this one is going especially once the identity of the shadowy villain of this first arc is revealed. Mahmud Asrar’s art is great as usual.
Rating: 7 Recommendation: Buy.
Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock (Marvel) With Avengers: Infinity War part one opening in a few months it only makes sense that Marvel would prepare for another Infinity themed event in the comics. Surpassing the original Infinity Gauntlet is a tall order but writer Gerry Duggan has me intrigued with this first one shot leading up to…something with a series of time hops engineered by Kang. Mike Allred is so perfectly matched to the character of Adam Warlock that it’s surprising he hasn’t more with him in the past. Rating: 8 Recommendation: Buy.
Abbott #1 (BOOM!) is such a great example of a comic that lives in a genre I’m hungry for in the medium— a bi black woman doing investigative work in an urban fantasy setting. And it does it one better: it’s in Detroit in 1972, and deals with all the sociopolitical context surrounding that moment in time. Ahmed is one of the most exciting new voices in comics and he’s done his homework here. Kivelä’s art has page compositions that fit in the retro genre setting and his 1972 works for me (a major 70s obsessive even if I didn’t live it). Wordie’s colors are soft but saturated— extra painterly, warm like vintage film.
Rating 9 Recommendedation: Buy
For more on Abbott listen to our podcast interview with Saladin Ahmed: https://graphicpolicy.com/…/saladin-ahmed-podcast-abbott/
Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #2 (DC)** – Another fine issue from Mark Russell and Mike Feehan that seems a bit confused and disjointed from a story standpoint at first — but all comes together brilliantly by the end. Not really sure what purpose Brandee Stillwell’s backup strip serves, but it’s more “okay” than it is “bad,” and the main feature is strong enough to carry the weight with or without it. As good as “The Flintstones” was, this is shaping up to be even better. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Dastardly & Muttley #6 (DC)** – Garth Ennis and Mauricet wrap up their six-parter with a genuinely surprising and smart finale that will give the best of Grant Morrison’s mind-benders a run for their money in the “meta” department, and while this comic won’t blow you away with its art, truth be told it’s been solid, if unspectacular, throughout, while the scripts have been uniformly clever and funny. A really solid conclusion to a really solid series. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy
Batman #40 (DC)** – Tom King pulls back from the idiotic idea his last cliffhanger flirted with, but he’d put himself in such a “no-win” situation with it that backing off feels like a cheap cop-out. Better just to not have even gone there. As for the rest of the issue? It’s pretty slight, and the choppy dialogue style is seriously starting to grate. Seriously, everyone sounds almost exactly the same. Joelle Jones’ art is lush, dynamic, and captivating, though, so the whole thing’s not a total loss. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Read. Or at least look at.
Monstro Mechanica #3 (Aftershock)** – Paul Allor’s take on Leonardo da Vinci is certainly unique — seldom is he portrayed as a calculating and entirely unsympathetic asshole like he is here — but the supporting characters, including our ostensible protagonist, are considerably less developed, as is the historical setting itself, replete as it is with intricacies that are never even close to fully explained. Chris Evenhuis’ art is nice and sleek and reasonably crisp, but not enough in and of itself to keep me hanging around at four bucks a pop. I think I’m out after this one. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass
X-Men Red #1 (Marvel)– Another day, another superhero hit for Tom Taylor. With Jean Grey back from the dead, Taylor and artist Mahmud Asrar portray as filled with empathy and ready to make mutants a player on the global stage not through battle or isolation, but integration. It’s cool watching her get T’challa and Namor to back her play for mutant nation. The team assembled around her is fantastic blend of heart, ferocity, and comic relief from Nightcrawler, Wolverine (Laura), and Honey Badger (Gabby) respectively. Toss in some wide screen and occasionally touching visuals from Asrar and a great surprise villain, and it’s strong launch for the new team. Overall: 8.6 Verdict Buy
Twisted Romance #1 (Image)– Katie Skelly, Alex De Campi, and Sarah Horrocks do genre in a very indie way in this mini-anthology. Skelly and De Campi’s incubus story is sleazy and jazzy like the clubs Mackie prowls and is chased nicely by Magen Cubed’s prose story about human and vampire monster hunters in love. It’s easily the best of the trio with its sexual tension, queer romance, and Stevie Nicks karaoke. The CW should cancel Supernatural and option it immediately. Horrocks’ Red Medusa is the weakest narratively of the three, but her art drips with anguish and impotency. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Black Panther: Sound and the Fury #1 (Marvel)– This last year, Comics fans have had their share of great books about Black Panther to choose from, as the bar of excellence had been set. So when I heard that the House of Ideas was giving us a new book right before the movie comes out and it is written by the co-screenwriter of the movie, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, this book spends a good amount of time reintroducing readers to who T’Challa is and who Black Panther is as a hero, which in its delivery, feels vacant and insincere.This debut issue falls flat on its face, I hope the second issue takes readers somewhere. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
Rise of the Black Panther #2 (Marvel) – We get deeper into the abductions of Wakandans from two different points of view. We see all the trouble Syan, T’Challa’s uncle dealt with while he was the Black Panther, including the abductions that were rampant during his rule. Fast forward, to when T’Challa has taken the mantle, and the abductions have become worse which leads T’Challa into a confrontation with the Sub -Mariner, as he searches for the traitors, where both men forge an uneasy alliance. By issue’s end, T’Challa and Namor find what they are both looking for, in a neighboring country nation, where Wakandans gain their freedom and The traitors who tried to overthrow Namor are punished. Overall: 9 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 (**).