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.
Batman #3 (DC)* Better than the last issue, honestly. I’m starting to appreciate the more human take on Batman that Tom King is giving us, and his exploration of the effect that the legend of the Dark Knight has on Gotham (the city, not the character) is getting interesting. A solid read that’s an improvement over last issue.
Superman #3 (DC)* Something strange is happening to me; I’m becoming a Superman fan after decades of ignoring his comic series. Focusing more on Superman’s family, this series is one of the better ones to emerge from Rebirth so far.
The Hellblazer Rebirth #1 (DC)* Awesome fun. A great one shot comic that’s highly enjoyable. Serving as a great introduction to the character, Hellblazer Rebirth is a blast to read.
Betty and Veronica #1 (Archie) Even though Adam Hughes’ pinup style artwork is delightful, Betty and Veronica #1 is far from it. His dialogue is a mix of 1950s teenage slang and modern “hip” terms as if he wasn’t sure to make the comic a period piece or a companion to Mark Waid’s trying to hard to be cool with the kids Archie series. And it seems like 70% of the comic is Archie and Jughead’s forced banter as the word balloons cover his art and the page. Betty and Veronica seem like they’re in the comic just to be attractive, and Hughes even takes a break at the end to draw them in bikinis delivering exposition for no discernable reason. He doesn’t even let them narrate their own giving that job to Jughead’s dog Hot Dog, who I liked better than a zombie. Hughes is a fine cover artist, but he really should’ve gotten someone else to write and plot Betty and Veronica #1. At least, we get Marguerite Bennett’s Josie and the Pussycats in the Fall.Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass
Black Hammer #1 (Dark Horse)**: Nice concept: world’s greatest heroes are stuck in a normal small farming town after saving their world ten years ago. Meanwhile, back in that world, everyone thinks they’re dead. Dean Ormiston provides a suitably dark American Gothic art style to Jeff Lemire’s script. I think Lemire could have gone further with his original Justice League analogy characters, but that’s a quibble (as is my ongoing problem with his tendency to generic dialogue). Intriguing enough to come back for more. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read.
Casanova: Acedia #6 (Image)**: There’s a scene in here, only two pages long, but I kind of wish it was the entire book: just two guys with guns behind their backs hashing it out. Maybe that’s my theatrical background talking, but I’ve been feeling lately that Fraction is trying to cram too much strangeness into the plot when there is plenty, and I mean plenty of strangeness within the characters. (Also there’s the ongoing Metanauts backup, which exists for some reason) Overall: 7 (because Fabio Moon) Recommendation: Read if you’re following.
I Hate Fairyland #7 (Image)**: Another delightful installment from the sickness of Skottie Young. I love how he brings up the flaws in his own storytelling and then basically says “fluff that” and just keeps motoring on. Also hilarious: the vehicle to get from Fairyland back to Earth is a 70s van with an airbrushed wizard riding a unicorn. That runs on dragon piss. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Lazarus #23 (Image)**: This one opens with one of the best fight scenes ever. Michael Lark brings so much emotion and intensity you can practically smell the sweat. And then just as much intensity in a walk-and-talk with Carlyle and Johanna. “Nicely done, Ma’am” indeed. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Velvet #15 (Image)**: Brubaker and Epting at their peak for the conclusion of a great 70s spy/revenge tale. I think this might just be the series Steve Epting was born to draw – like, the doctor who delivered him may have been reading a bunch of Modesty Blaise comics and they were the first thing little Epting saw. The end of this kind of story is always hard to pull off, and Brubaker doesn’t quite manage it, but since close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, I’ll take it. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Weird Detective #2 (Dark Horse)**: I liked where this occult detective story started, but this issue is a bit of a sophomore slump, grinding away a little too long in the police procedural department and not just letting the weirdness rip! Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read.
The Hunt #1 (Image/Shadowline)**: I went into Colin Lorimer’s new mini-series with precisely zero expectations, only knowing his work from “Burning Fields,” and was pleasantly surprised to find him adopting a unique and confident voice as both writer and artist on this Irish folk-influenced contemporary horror tale. The dialogue is crisp and authentic, the premise intriguing, the characters immediately relatable, and the artwork darkly horrific and expressive. I’m very interested to see where this one goes. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy
The Hellblazer Rebirth #1 (DC)*: Finally! John Constantine seems like John Constantine again! And he’s back in London! Sure, this issue was a bit heavy on the recapping, and the plot involving JC tricking the demon who banished him from the UK into letting him come back is paper-thin, but Simon Oliver shows a solid handle on the character immediately and Moritat’s art has that Vertigo-era flavor and style to it. Would I like it better if Constantine were taken out of the DCU “proper” and brought back to where he belongs? Of course. But this is the closest approximation to that classic “Hellblazer” look and feel that we’ve seen since he was hijacked by all that “New 52” nonsense. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy
Second Sight #6 (Aftershock)*: David Hine delivers a rushed and largely unsatisfying conclusion to what’s otherwise been a fine series, and I have to wonder if things weren’t initially slated to go on a bit longer given the number of loose threads left dangling. Loved
the final-page cliffhange-style ending, though, and Alberto Ponticelli’s art is, as ever, amazing. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Buy if you’ve been following the series, pass if you haven’t
Batman #3 (DC)*: Tom King and David Finch continue to underwhelm with their introductory story arc. We finally get a little (derivative as shit, it must be said) backstory for Gotham and Gotham Girl this time out, and it’s nice to see the Matches Malone persona back for the first time in far too long, but all the Hugo Strange stuff seems to be running out of steam before it even gets started, and I don’t even care who or what the “Monster Men” are at this point. Overall: 3.5. Recommendation: Pass
Bigfoot: Sword of the Earthman TPB (Action Lab): The myth of Bigfoot has always been treated in pop culture as one where they’re either a mystery of the week or Harry as in Harry and the Hendersons. This take is some I believe Edgar Rice Burroughs would love, as he is a strange adventurer on a distant world we know as Mars. We follow Bigfoot and his alien sidekick, Cantor, as they caught up in one scuffle after another. By volume’s end, they are not only hunted by a Mad Max type villain but an army the size of Kublai Khan, but our heroes still find a way to triumph in the eyes of hopeless danger, great book !!
Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
King Conan: Wolves Beyond the Borders TPB (Dark Horse): The Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of this rugged warrior are a must have for any action film cinephile. While the world waits for a new film , those movies always started from the viewpoint of him as a King reminiscing from his throne.This miniseries aims to answer some of those questions as we join King Conan as he is visited by an old friend who advises him of an oncoming invasion. He endeavors on a road trip to squash the invasion while I the meantime bring captured, seeing an old lover and doing some good along the way. 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 (**).