Tag Archives: featured

Gotham Weekly Discusses Two Weeks of Batman Comics

This week on Gotham Weekly, our hosts battle some slight sound issues to talk about the past two weeks of Batman family comics.

Included in this episode is:

Batman #16 by Tom King and David Finch
Nightwing #14 by Tim Seeley and Marcus To
Batgirl #7 by Hope Larson and Chris Wildgoose
All-Star Batman #7 by Scott Snyder, Tula Lotay
Detective Comics #950 by James Tynon IV, Marco Takara, Alvaro Martinez, Eddy Barrows
Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey #7 by Julie and Shawna Benson, Chloe Roe
Red Hood And The Outlaws #7 by Scott Lobdell and Miko Colik

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New York Toy Fair 2017: Diamond PREVIEWS Some Exclusive Toys for Comic Fans

New York Toy Fair 2017 is underway and we’re showing off some of the awesome toys you’ll be able to get over the next year. Our first stop is the Diamond booth who showed off a lot of items you can order through their PREVIEWS catalog from Funko, Mezco, One:12 Collective, and more including quite a few exclusives.

Check out some of the sites below and stay tuned for more coverage to come.

Redline Takes Us to a War Torn Mars This March

redline-1MARS. The near future-ish. A bomb takes out a city block on Harrison Station. The media rush to blame the local terrestrials (re:aliens,) however Superintendent Denton Coyle has a feeling that it may not be so simple… or maybe that feeling is Coyle’s hangover gut bomb. It’s unclear… like a 50/50 shot, it’s a mistake or explosive diarrhea. Maybe it’s both? In other words, it’s yet another Tuesday on Mars.

Out this March from Oni Press, Redline is written by Neal Holman with art by Clayton McCormack and Kelly Fitzpatrick.

I got a chance to talk to the team about this upcoming intriguing new series.

Graphic Policy: So where did the idea for Redline come from and how long has this been in the process of being put together?

Neal Holman: Years ago, I was doing research for a police procedural pitch, interviewing anyone who would talk to me online. I stumbled into meeting some people in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), who opened my eyes to a different world of detective stories. The police pitch stumbled and died, but I kept my research thinking I might use it later on. Fast forward a bit, I was working on a Mars colony pitch but couldn’t find an angle that I liked. Everything felt a little too forced. (I did way, way too much research on the soil content of Mars.) It wasn’t until I started thinking of it from a military lens that the pitch began to come together. I dug up my old research, and it was a fairly easy write from there on out.

GP: With sci-fi series, I personally think the look and design can be as important as the story itself. How did you all work together to put together this futuristic world?

NH: I gave Clay and Kelly a bunch of vague and probably contradictory notes to begin with, and they crushed it.

Clayton McCormack: Neal made it pretty clear right away that this was not a sleek, clean vision of the future, but one where technology is constantly busted and bulky. He also presented the Mars colony as being not too different from the way modern desert warfare looks and feels, so what we tried to do was create a future that definitely had more sci-fi leanings, but was also very relatable. So for me that meant making a lot of the weapons, vehicles and uniforms feel futuristic but still plausible.

Kelly Fitzpatrick: As a colorist, I’m typically last to the team equation. I took notes from Clay and Neal and I sent back some pages. We talked a bit about aliens and environment and uniforms, but overall it was a really smooth process- especially after the first issue. :)

GP: The colors are very limited in many ways yet avoids the stereotypical red you sometimes see with stories set on Mars instead going more for browns and even some green. Was this a specific choice to avoid the stereotypical Mars style?

KF: I wanted something dusty and gritty outside to conflict with the sterile environments inside. Mars isn’t super red in reality anyway. Keeping the colors muted helps create diversity when changing between places.

GP: How scoped out is this world that you put together? Is there some bible you created?

NH: I have a loose bible starting at the first Mars landing and progressing through the decades up to the start of Issue One. It is written in my weirdo shorthand and hopefully will never be seen by anyone else.

CM: I’ve seen Neal’s bible – it’s like John Doe’s diary in Se7en but with rocket ship drawings and all done in crayon.

GP: I noticed the military all have American flags on their chest and it’s not some united world government you sometimes see in sci-fi stories. Was there a specific reason you went that route?

NH: I personally don’t believe we will ever be under one utopian (or dystopian) world government. There may be joint task forces and etc, but our power structures are pretty set in stone. In later issues, we will start to hear about other countries getting their own footholds on Mars.

CM: Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I have no reason to think colonizing Mars would be different from any other colonizing in history. Maybe they work together in GETTING to Mars, but once they get there, it’s all countries for themselves.

redline-2GP: What are some of the influences to the series as far as stories or look?

NH: From comics – Queen & Country, Powers, Criminal, Hawkeye (Matt Fraction/David Aja version)
From books – The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Stranger in a Strange Land,
From TV – The Sandbaggers, The Wire, True Detective (Season One), Justified, a billion episodes of Dateline
From Film – Three Kings, The Hurt Locker, Waltz with Bashir, a ton more I’m blanking on.

Working on Archer with Adam Reed has greatly influenced how I think about story and dialogue.

CM: I actually had been thinking about Italian Westerns a lot for the overall feel. Those movies do a great job of really accenting how hot and gross the desert is, constantly dusty, constantly sweaty, and for me that’s Coyle in a nutshell. He’s in a constant state of discomfort. For the more futuristic aspect, I had a little bit of Elysium in mind, as well as Dredd – both futuristic, but still fairly relatable in their designs of tech and buildings etc.

KF: I’m a big fan of Matt Hollingsworth! I love his grit that he’s incorporated into several of his books. I also try and make all of my books look separate with their own identities. I wanted to incorporate something like The Wake meets Pretty Deadly. It seemed more western.

GP: I think some of the best sci-fi is allegories for what’s going on in the world. After reading the first issue, I get the feeling there’s quite a few real world issues this series touch upon. Am I reading too much into it?

NH: There are some definite ties to the present, sure, but honestly, I was really thinking more about world history in general, which is pretty loaded with these types of occupation and conflict. I also started writing it sometime in 2014, so anything that seems topical is a coincidence. My goal, however, was to push these larger themes to the background, while the mystery unfolds in the foreground. That said, our aliens (the Locals) aren’t representative of any group of people or people at all, really.

Lots of sci-fi either goes the Avatar route with sympathetic, human-like aliens or the Aliens route, where they’re more or less hungry sharks. Both of those opposing viewpoints are how colonists in our story view the Locals as well. We have no Teal’c or Seven of Nine to give us perspective. Some of us want peace. Others just want to bomb the Locals off the planet.  The Locals are intelligent. They have a society. They have clothes and technology. They can move rocks with what seems to be telepathy. They may help you…but they also may disembowel your daughter and wear her intestines as a belt. It’s that last bit that gives the war hawks all the ammo they need.

GP: The first issue feels like a sci-fi Sheriff of Babylon in some ways. Both are really crime stories set in a war zone. What is it about a war zone that opens it up to a crime story so well?

NH: Tom King will probably answer that better than I can, but I think it’s that right now, war imagery is something we are very, very used to seeing. It is omnipresent. That familiarity is an easy entry point to story, but rather than focusing on WAR in all caps, we are centered on a mystery.

CM: I also think that there is an inherent sense of lawlessness that comes with a war zone, fewer rules (or at least more rules being broken), power in flux, much more of a world of grey than black and white that really lends itself to that crime/noir genre.

GP: The first issue had some solid comedy to it. Was that something you specifically wanted to add?

NH: Absolutely. I am a huge fan of dramas that have solid jokes, moments of sincere levity – the “peaks and valleys.” My favorite comedies all have dramatic veins. Conversely, anytime I watch a movie or show and it’s all doom and gloom and insanely serious, at a certain point I tap out. Everyone points to The Wire for being this earth shaking series – and rightly so – but I rarely ever see anyone acknowledge the humor in it. There are some solid jokes in that series, and I think that goes a long way into making you care about those characters.

redline-3GP: All of the characters have very unique, diverse, and solid designs about them. These aren’t generic soldiers in their armor. How did you come up with all of the specific characters? Was some of that done in the writing or was it more collaborative?

NH: Thanks! Most of the main cast are based on people I’ve known or a combination of personalities. Design-wise, Clay took the reigns there.

CM: Thanks, I appreciate it! Neal went out of his way to make sure that even background soldiers had some character to them, and I think his description of the main cast, as well as the way he wrote each of them, made my job a lot easier. For instance Coyle read as road-weary and desert-worn, so his gruff beard, constant slouch, and receding hairline felt pretty appropriate. And Simon is more or less the lighter, comic relief character, a little less cynical overall, so I tried to make him brighter and a little more animated when I could (just to name a few).

KF: I’m a big fan of using skin tone to differentiate characters! I actively make sure even the background characters have slightly different skin tones in all of my books. Everyone has a different skin tone in reality- so why should comics be white washed?

GP: Any plans on doing more stories set in this world?

NH: I would love, love to do the next arc (and more,) but we need to see if sales can justify it.

CM: I hope so, if sales warrant it – so as the man once said,  “get your ass to mars!”

GP: Any advice you have for folks wanting to get into comics?

NH: Keep writing and keep being your own worst critic. You have to be brutally objective about what’s working and what’s not and more importantly, why. If you’re on the art side, don’t ever stop going to figure drawing classes, and keep your online portfolio current.

And don’t be an ass. The world has enough.

CM: Don’t let anything stop you from just going out and making comics. I can speak from experience in saying that I wouldn’t be doing this interview right now if I hadn’t decided to start producing and publishing my own book about 8 years ago. I guarantee you you’ll learn a ton, and your work will just keep getting better. There’s never been a better time to get out and there and do it, so get out there and do it!

KF: Use social media! I can’t stress that enough. It’s a great tool to show you are a human being and that you are passionate. Twitter is my preferred go-to.

GP: Any other projects you all want to plug?

NH: Archer Season Eight debuts April 5th on FX, and it’s probably our best looking season to date.

KF: I’m really excited about the newest issues of Bitch Planet, Josie and the Pussycats, Shade the Changing Girl, Rockstars, and Supergirl: Being Super! Go check out my work!

Underrated: Six Comic Book Movies

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Six Comic Book Movies.


You’ve probably noticed that I’ve written an entire column about some movies, but I’m doing something a little different this week and we’re having a brief overview of six comic book movies, although we’re not ruling out revisiting some of these movies in a longer column down the road.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comic book movies may have been well received when released, but may never have garnered as much attention as they deserved. Secondly, some of these movies I’m probably viewing with the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia, and as I haven’t seen many of them in years be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective. Lastly, I am aware that at least two of these movies are borderline comic book movies, but this is my list and I’m including them anyway.

  • phantom-movie-posterThe Phantom (1996)
    This is probably one of the only comic book movie on this list with an actual spandex bodysuit in it, and Billy Zane does admirably well in the roll. I haven’t seen this movie since the 90’s, but not for lack of trying – it is very tough to track down for a reasonable price. The Phantom is a hugely enjoyable movie, so long as you take it for what it is (Guardians of the Galaxy, it is not), you can’t fail to not enjoy it. But do yourself a favour and skip the two part mini series released in 2010.
  • Batman Forever (1995)
    Joel Shumacker ruined the Batman movie franchise with Batman and Robin, that’s no lie, but before he did that he madeBatman Forever. I still enjoy this flick to this day. It echoes the Adam West TV show of the 1960’s, updating the camp foolishness of that time into a slightly more modern and darker time, bridging the gap expertly between Tim Burton’s films and the TV show. The movie stars because of its villains; Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face and Jim Carry’s excellent portrayal of the Riddler.  No, the film isn’t the best batman movie out there, but it isn’t as bad as Shumacker’s other offering.
  • Watchmen (2009)
    Watchmen did have some success, there’s no denying that. But the true brilliance of the movie lies with the version that has the animated Black Freighter edited in to the live action movie. Although it clocks in at around four hours long, this version trumps the theatrical version significantly. If you haven’t, and you have the time, give the full version a try.p8022770_p_v8_aa
  • Solomon Kane (2009)
    Originally character created by Robert E Howard (if that name doesn’t ring a bell, you may recognize another of Howard’s creations: Conan) Solomon Kane originally appeared in 1928 in pulp magazine Weird Tales, but has since then starred in several comics through the 70’s and 80’s, and three miniseries published by Dynamite in the last ten years or so. Solomon Kane is probably one of the best films on this list; starring James Purefoy, the film (intended as the first of a trilogy, but it does stand alone) is a dark action adventure that perfectly encapsulates the characters pulp roots.
  • Fantastic Four (2005)
    Say what you want about the new Fantastic Four movie (and people have, and loudly, voiced opinions – even myself), the first one wasn’t horrible. It was actually quite good, all things considered. The main downfall of the movie lies in the conflict throughout. I was happy just watching the F4 simply be themselves and felt that the Dr. Doom final conflict was shoehorned in to a comedy movie because the superhero movie need A Big Final Conflict. The movie would have been far stronger had they used Doom to set up the second movie; have the first movie be more about the the-crow-salvation-movie-postercharacters finding themselves and maybe foiling a more mundane threat to New York City. This isn’t a great movie, but it certainly isn’t as bad as the sequel.
  • The Crow: Salvation (2000)
    Sequels to the 1994 The Crow movie generally range from absolute tripe, to just a little bit above bad. The reason for this is that they all try to follow the same formula. Well, Salvation is no different, but something here clicks. As far as sequels to the original movie go this is the best of the bunch, but that’s ultimately not really saying much. Not the best Crow movie out there, but if you’re a fan of the first movie it’s worth a rent.

There we have it – six underrated comic book movies. Are there other comic book movies out there that are, for whatever reason, underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

Because of that, expect a sequel to this Underrated at some point in the future. In the meantime, if you do get a chance to look for Solomon Kane do it; it’s probably one of the easier movies to track down (with it being on Netflix) and is well worth your time.

TV Review: Riverdale S1E4 Chapter Four: The Last Picture Show

riverdaleJughead fights to keep the local drive-in open after hearing an anonymous buyers’ plans to tear it down; Betty finds startling information about Miss Grundy’s past; Veronica confronts her mother; Alice finds an opportunity to destroy Archie’s image.

Riverdale answers so many questions in this episode full of so many plotlines it’s impressive. And the impressive part is that even with so much going on everything feels like it has more than enough time devoted to it.

As I said, there’s a lot packed into the episode and all of it’s quality. The revelation that Miss Grundy has a secret past is not only explored, but answered, and the situation between her and Archie goes through a hell of a lot. There’s also a secret with Veronica’s mother that’s explored and answered in one episode. Things not being dragged out? Mysteries being solved! Instead of dragging things out Riverdale is impressively delivering on mysteries instead of just building on them. It feels like a novel idea when it comes to television (when it really shouldn’t be).

But, the episode isn’t just about Betty, Veronica, and Archie. There’s some great moments involving Kevin Keller and Jughead. We get more info on Kevin’s world beyond just what we’ve seen as he hangs out with Betty. That includes an interaction with his father that’s really honest in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on television before. Then there’s Jughead, a character that’s been woefully underused in the series so far. When it comes to characters this episode delivers the most as far as him as his home life situation is fleshed out with some twists I didn’t see coming until the final scenes. The series has shown it can keep us on our toes while delivering at the same time.

Riverdale is absolutely my new guilty pleasure of the tv season and it has delivered with every episode so far and is making its case as the best comic adaptation on tv.

Overall Rating: 9.65

TV Review: Powerless S1E3 Sinking Day

powerlessbigAfter the ream loses a client due to Van’s incompetence, Emily tries to clinch a deal with Atlantis; Van’s father gives him a chance to redeem himself; Teddy and Ron are convinced that new employee Alex is a superhero.

The third episode of Powerless continues to show improvement as the series finds its footing and this third episode brings the funny with a twisted humor mostly at display in the beginning.

I panned the first episode of Powerless. I hated it, really really hated it. That was to a point I almost didn’t watch the second episode. But, like the second episode this third one continues to improve and it’s clear the writers are getting a better sense of their characters and vision for the show.

The core entertainment of the show isn’t Vanessa Hudgens’ Emily Locke, it’s the trio of Danny Pudi, Christina Kirk, and Ron Funches as Teddy, Jackie, and Ron. The trio are nailing it when it comes to the comedy of the show and the writers are giving them solid material to work with. This episode displays a bite with running jokes about race and nationality and does so in a way that’s actually funny. Hudgens does show improvement too as her enthusiasm is dialed back making her character fit in a bit more with the rest of the ensemble.

The episode itself is goofy workplace comedy that mixes the company’s need to get a big client after losing Ace Chemicals (yes the company that created the Joker, with clown joke included), with the new employee who might be a superhero, and jokes about Atlantis. It all comes together and works in a non-groundbreaking but still entertaining way. The show is generally safe, though shows it might not always play it as such in the future.

The third episode improves on the second which was a massive improvement on the first. I’m hoping we see more of this as the show mixes a workplace comedy with nerd cred. While it looks like the writers are getting that down they’re also allowing its actors to begin to shine and doing that by delivering entertainment material to work with.

Overall Rating: 6.95

Trade Waiting: Paper Girls Vol. 1-2

Joe discusses the fantastic Paper Girls Volumes 1-2 from Image Comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chang.

Movie Review: Logan is a Brutal and Emotional Send Off

logan-posterLogan is everything fans of the popular X-Man have been waiting for in an unflinching, brutally violent, send off that’s easily the best Wolverine film and one of the best in the “X” franchise. Taking place in the year 2029, the layered, and at times meta, film features a riff on the “Old Man Logan” comic character made popular by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven and currently starring in numerous comic series from Marvel.

Set in the near future, the film presents a hero no longer wanting that role, instead, he’s trying to retire and run away while not fully coming to grips with his past and deeds. The opening of the film lays out everything you need to know about this Wolverine, played for a possible final time by Hugh Jackman. He has a slight limp, he’s covered in scars, he’s drinking, he just wants to make enough money to run away with his “family,” and he’s going by the name James Howlett. This is a not quite dystopian world where the X-Men are no more and an event has decimated the mutant population.

Directed by James Mangold with a screenplay by Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green, this is the western that The Wolverine thought it was, a genre that fits this lone character like a spandex costume. It’s clear Mangold and the team were going for exactly that with numerous references to Shane the classic novel turned Oscar-winning film then tv series.

Like the weary gunfighter Shane, Howlett wants to settle down, caring for an ailing Professor X (played brilliantly by Patrick Stewart) with the help of fellow mutant Caliban (played by Stephen Merchant). All three have sins in their past and the film is an exploration of that. There’s a focus on character and accepting, or at least coping, with those sins while trying to forge an unknown future. And just like in that classic western, these warriors are forced to act and get involved in a conflict after a mysterious girl Laura (played by newcomer Dafne Keen) comes into their lives. From there the film becomes part road trip, part western, part horror, but what it’s not is a superhero film.

logan-posterFrom the first moments of the film it’s clear that this isn’t your typical X-Men or Wolverine film with swear words thrown around, limbs flying (at times literally), and blood splattering. The bodies, and body parts, pile up in a finale that doesn’t hold back and is let loose with an “R” rating.

It’s a departure from what we’ve previously seen and that departure becomes meta at times where the film debates X-Men comics, their fantasy aspects, their disconnect from the reality of violence, but also recognizing the comics represent hope to many of those who read them. As seen in trailers and ads, X-Men comics are brandished around becoming a discussion within the larger film. Logan having “lived it” sees them as fantasy that glosses over the real violence and death that happened, while some (in this case Laura) latch on to them representing freedom from oppression. That debate rages in the real world today. Some embrace the comic series’ “political” core that’s been present since the characters debuted in 1963 and its not so veiled parallels to the Civil Rights to today’s allegories on LGBTQ+ rights. Others want an escapist fantasy without the message and even others who celebrate the violence. It’s a debate that plays out within the film by its lead characters. That debate is about as “X-Men” as the film gets though there’s plenty of winks and nods for longtime fans. There are numerous references to previous films and comics.

At its core, the movie is a Western, where our hero takes a stand against the evil corporation looking to roll over the average person. This is manifested in a few instances such as a defense of a family farm (with no more mutants, the X-Man takes a stand for an average human family) from corporate farming (with some commentary about corn syrup) to the main plot concerning Laura.

The film is a chase/road trip as Logan attempts to get Laura to safety as she’s pursued by a government-backed genetics corporation called Transigen who is attempting to make Mutants of their own and wield them as weapons. Laura, who comic fans will know as X-23, is one of those experiments broken free with a goal of escaping to freedom. That aspect of the film is interesting in itself as the chase takes place from Mexico to Canada, a cross-country trip that you can’t help but think of today’s debates on immigration and border security (and also something about Wolverine heading back to Canada, the land where he was birthed for what is Jackman’s final film as the character). Other real world issues are touched upon such as copyright and intellectual property over genetics, a topic that ties into corporate farming as well. This helps flesh out the film to be more than fantastical characters.

loganWhile the story has action and flash in the various action sequences, mostly involving Transigen’s bounty hunters the Reavers (classic X-villains and includes Pierce, Bone Breaker, Pretty Boy, and more), there’s so much to it under the surface and the film challenges viewers to piece some of it together. We learn what’s wrong with Professor X over time and his sins, in particular the “Westchester Incident.” But, even that isn’t fully laid out leaving the imaginations of the audience to fill in the gaps and by doing so creating horrors that the director and writers couldn’t begin to come up with.

Even with that layered meta and meaning some things are a bit looser. Transigen’s motivations evolve from capturing Laura to capturing Professor X and/or Wolverine giving viewers a bad guy with loose goals. This could be explained by the overreaching evil corporation who wants nothing but profit and how to obtain that changes over time. But, this isn’t as clear cut as bad guys we’ve seen in the past. And it’s not as black and white either when it comes to good and evil. No Mutants have been born for 25 years at this point and Professor X ailing has been labeled a weapon of mass destruction by the United States government and is a wanted man. Even in Transigen’s evil, there’s still some good intentions masked by their clearly evil goals.

As a chapter ends a new one begins with the introduction of Laura/X-23 played by Dafne Keen a newcomer whose only other work was The Refugees. Her introduction is a punch in the gut and gives viewers no doubt about the character. Mostly mute for the film much of her acting is through body language and grunts. And that’s not easy to do. Due to that Keen is a bit mixed in her role. At times she’s excellent and other moments just so-so. That’s also due to who she’s acting against.

professorxPatrick Stewart delivers a performance we have not seen in an X film. As an ailing Professor X his mind is failing him and through the power of make-up he’s aged to a level I haven’t seen. You believe this is a man seeing his last few years with his mind wandering and not working as it once was. Having witnessed people in this condition first hand, the performance is damn near perfect and full of emotion not just for him, but the audience too. The simplest needs such as his needing help to use a restroom are noted and beautifully shot for the audience to absorb. This is also no longer the loving teacher, but age has given him an edge that comes out over the years. Take note, this is supporting actor level territory.

Hugh Jackman gives us a Wolverine we haven’t seen and his aging is more than some gray hair and scars. A limp, some drinking, squinting, Jackman’s performance is grizzled, worn, and weary. It’s been 17 years since he stepped into the role and this is easily his best performance. He’s able to let loose emotionally and physically. Through his interactions with Laura, even just simple looks, Jackman makes us believe this is a man who is struggling with the concept of family no matter how strange this one is. It’s a trope we’ve seen before in many films, but this is the first time we’ve seen it on the screen for Wolverine to this extent and in a way that makes it believable.

Logan is a finale to Jackman’s take on the character that has spanned 17 years, 9 films, and two video games. To the last moments of the film, this is a movie that reflects on the character’s actions, history, violence, and what that all means. But, the film itself is a departure from the preceding films, until those final moments where we’re reminded of it all. I went into the film with some expectations as to what to what I’d be watching, but from the beginning moments, those expectations were shattered. Logan defies it all and delivered a layered modern western that’s a worthy finale.

Overall Rating: 9.15

Graphic Policy was provided a FREE screening

Retro Review: The Incredible Hulk #404

incredible_hulk_vol_1_404Another dollar bin find a couple of weeks ago, I picked up this comic purely because of the cover. I’ve always been partial to the Juggernaut, so the thought of seeing him with the Hulk smashing some stuff around seemed too good to pass up for the lowly price of $1 (for those curious, the cover price was $1.25 when it was released in April 1993).

Written by Peter David, with pencils by Gary Frank, and inks by Cam Smith and colours by Glynis OliverThe Incredible Hulk #404 was a great read for the price I paid for it. The story picks up with the Hulk seemingly under some form of mind control as he attacks the Avengers (most of whom I don’t recognize) at the Juggernaut’s behest.

The issue takes place at some point in the middle of an arc, which meant that while I had no idea how or why things had evolved to the point they were at, but the nature of the comic – and the fight with – meant that I could enjoy it all the same. There’s also a subplot with Betty Banner, Doc Samson and (I presume) Rick Jones, but it didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me – probably because I haven’t read any of the previous issues.

Artistically, I was a fan. This sort of style is how I remembered comics being when I fist started getting into them (ironic seeing as how it’s from the same era, eh?), so there was a nice throwback for me personally there, but your mileage may vary.

Overall, this issue hasn’t aged too badly; it probably wasn’t a great story when it was initially released, and while it still isn’t great, it was enjoyable.

Story: Peter David Pencils: Gary Frank Inks: Cam Smith Colours: Glynis Oliver
Story: 6.5 Art: 7 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

Review: Archie #17

archie17coverWhile the TV show Riverdale is all about the dark, sexy side of the iconic Archie Comics character, Archie #17 goes the quirky route like the old school comics with a shinier visual presentation courtesy of artist Joe Eisma (Morning Gloriesand colorist Andre SzymanowiczMark Waid‘s script is silly in all the best ways with Cheryl Blossom trying to seduce Archie and get revenge on Veronica because Mr. Lodge bought her father’s company, and she had to move from an exclusive boarding school in Switzerland to plain ol’ Riverdale. She is truly a terrible person as evidenced by a scene where she and Jason push over a homeless person during a walk and talk.

Waid and Eisma’s take on Archie Andrews himself is much clumsier and definitely less sexy than KJ Apa’s portrayal in the Riverdale show or the previous artwork of Fiona Staples and Veronica Fish. He has a nice jawline, but the old crosshatching and freckles are back, and most of the issue is spent with him being a general idiot and somehow ending up rolling down the road in a barrel molasses. Archie #17 is at its finest when Waid goes for screwball comedy, and characters not named Archie sigh and snark about his ridiculousness. For example, Cheryl Blossom has been building our favorite redhead as some kind of hybrid of a male model, guitar god, archie17interiorand with overdramatic dialogue and ends up being very disappointed by the end of the issue.

The comedic tone of Archie #17 extends to a zippy B-plot featuring Veronica, who uses her father’s influence at her school to be able to leave town as soon as she does all her work/finals. It’s amusing to see Veronica’s single-minded focus applied to academic work, and Eisma lays on the speed lines with papers and books flying everywhere until she finally gets to leave town. Not even Mr. Collier, the man who was humiliated by her father in a mayoral election and his draconian final project, can get in the way of her skill with fashion. Like seriously, why would making a simple man’s suit be a challenge for Riverdale’s and maybe comics’ best dressed character? It’s also nice to have Veronica be back with Archie and the gang, and her feud with Cheryl Blossom will be even more fun on Veronica’s home turf.

Even though it occasionally hits on some real teen/young people concerns, like how long is too long to wait to text someone back if you’re romantically interested in them, Archie #17 is mostly stylized wackiness from Mark Waid, Joe Eisma, and Andre Szymanowicz, who uses some overpowering reds in Cheryl Blossom’s scenes. It’s pure comedic melodramatic fun.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Joe Eisma Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics  provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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