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Min Reviews For The Week Ending 7/23

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.


SM_Cv3_dsBatman #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.


BettyandVeronica1-SDCCBetty 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.

CasanovaAcedia-06_cvrCasanova: 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.

Ryan C

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

HELLB_Rebirth_Cover_1-1The 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_CoverBigfoot: 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 (**).

SDCC 2016: Saturday in Pictures

Saturday has come and gone at San Diego Comic-Con, so check out below for some of the sites from the convention.

Review: Weird Detective #2


Det. Sebastian Greene is on the case to capture the Lovecraftian monster leaving the empty skins of human victims all over New York City and uncover its connection to a blasphemous crime family. At the same time, his partner, Det. Sana Fayez, tries to uncover Greene’s sanity-blasting secret, but can her mind survive learning the weird detective’s true identity?

This Lovecraftian noir gets more intriguing by the issue. It’s all getting stranger in Weird Detective #2 as one more empty body is found. This forces Greene to take some strange measure to find out the truth. This is while other agencies partner up to figure out who the murder is. The better question is, is the murder a who or a what? The writer Fred Van Lente really sets things up as you get to the ending which makes one wonder what will happen next?

Guiu Vilanova‘s artwork shines, despite the darkness of it. The small action sequence in the beginning pages is well done. It all does end sort of anti-climatically as Fayes’ attackers reveal their badges, setting up a new mystery about their ghoulish appearances. Vilanova delivers it all in a style that adds to the weird horror fun of it all.

Story: Fred Van Lente Art: Guiu Vilanova
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

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

Review: Dept. H #4


With time running out, Mia launches a final, desperate attempt to rescue her brother. But the mission is endangered as soon as it begins when the crew encounters the dangers of the ocean floor: earthquakes, lava, and the creatures that lurk in the deep.

In Dept. H #4, an attempt to find her brother Mia uncovers something unexpected in the generator caves. As she searches for her brother, Mia’s mom is brought up sort of. Not in the traditional sense, as it is more of an internal monolog. While the conversation is interesting, it does lead one to wonder if she will show up in physical form. I find it really interesting that writer Matt Kindt went that route when presenting things this way.

I will admit the darkness of the cave is intriguing. Given the skeletal remains that are outside, it makes me wonder if something lurks in the cave, or nearby. Even the cave has an odd sense of color. As always, the art by Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt is beautiful to look at and beyond unique.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt
Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

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

Review: House of Penance #4


The chaotic construction is no longer enough to keep Sarah’s ghosts at bay, so she tries something more extreme to ease her conscience. Peck’s nightmares are growing worse, too. Brought together by their dark visions, the heiress and the outlaw are getting closer, but Sarah’s sister doesn’t like it one bit.


In House of Penance #4 the past returns to haunt the house, as more Sarah’s ghosts haunt her. Both physically and emotionally things get strange, with only two issues left. I will admit I’m curious to see if more of Sarah’s family visits to see if they try to stop her descent to into madness.

Sarah’s descent into madness manages to influence the art, as it gets darker, and a little gruesome at times. While it may not all be dark, there are a few bleak spots of light. They are spread out throughout the comic which manages to give the issue a sense of balance.

Story: Peter Tomasi Art: Ian Bertram
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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

Review: Black Hammer #1

Black Hammer #1 1A new story from the prodigious brain of Jeff Lemire, amazingly realized by Dean Ormston and Dave Stewart!

Once they were heroes, but that age has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City—Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien—now lead simple lives in a timeless farming town. Even as they try to find their way home, trouble has a unique way of finding heroes wherever they are!

Dark Horse is known for their strange tales, and this one is no exception. Black Hammer features heroes of a lost age who begin to question their forced retirement. That is, all but one who seems to enjoy the simpler life of being a farmer. Yet someone from the outside, doesn’t believe that they are dead like the rest of the world. She seems determined to find them, if only to find her father. This is Jeff Lemire‘s latest spin on superheroes and it’s one to definitely check out as Lemire rarely doesn’t deliver.

The art by Dean Ormston has an rich old time style feel to it. The issue manages to showcase the person under the mask instead of the masked part of their life, which adds a bit of mystery to it all. While the art does show some brief flashbacks to that time, they do leave one a little curious as to the individual backstory. I’m curious to see if they manage to bring some of that in both the story and the art as the series continues.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Dean Ormston
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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

Review: Merry Men #2

Merry_Men_2_coverMerry Men #2 is mostly focused on the backstory of Robin Hood, his relationship with King Richard Lionheart, and why the queer Merry Men got thrown out. This is a comic dealing with important and relevant issues like homophobia and Islamophobia under the guise of an alternate history of medieval England. There is a scene where Prince John and his evil ally, the Bishop of Hereford, look at the Bible and use one vote in Leviticus to ruin Richard’s supporters, who are gay and bisexual men, that reminded me a lot of contemporary Republican politicians who take the Bible out of context to justify their hateful legislature.

Writer Robert Rodi has a wicked wit and a bit of a dirty mind during the more humorous scenes, but also gives each character a complex motivation. For example, Robin Hood isn’t just an archer/freedom fighter, but a spurned lover of King Richard, who just wants to be left alone. (Honestly, I want a one-shot of Richard and Saladin romance.) His take on Sir Guy of Gisborne is quite creepy as he is a racist, homophobic, body dismembering pedophile, but his pedophilia is implied through dialogue and frightened facial expressions and not on panel.

Jackie Lewis’ art has a lot of details as far as background and clothing goes but has cartoonish facial expression, which works for a high drama adventure story. It really feels like you’re in the Middle Ages while reading the comic, and Marissa Louise uses lots of browns and greens to go with the whole forest wanderers’ motif. This issue adds much-needed shading to the characters and Robert Rodi’s and Jackie Lewis’ world and also has yet another essay showing that yes, there were LGBTQ people in the Middle Ages, including one ginger king of England.

Story: Robert Rodi Art: Jackie Lewis Colors: Marissa Louise
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

SDCC 2016: Friday in Photos

Saturday is in full swing, but here’s photos from Friday at San Diego Comic-Con.

Review: March: Book Three

MarchBookThree-CoverBy the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: “One Man, One Vote.”

To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television.

March: Book Three is the finale of writers Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell‘s trilogy of graphic novels chronicling the early years of Congressman Lewis’ life and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

As I read the graphic novel from cover to cover, I found myself filled with emotions, as Lewis’ life was there in print for those to see and read. The story is a complicated one, but it’s presented in a way that feels honest and open, both good and bad. This is an inside look at one of the most important, and turbulent times in American history from not just someone that was there, but a leader of the movement. And that’s a fascinating part of this third book, is its focus on Lewis’ role as a leader.

At 25 years old, John Lewis and his friends were looked at as radicals trying to grasp power from the establishment. The graphic novel chronicles Lewis’ meeting with Malcolm X who advised him and the movement to focus on class, not race. And all of that spoke to me like nothing I’ve read before, because over 50 years later, that exact same conversation is being had. The young radicals within the Democratic party (and politics in general) are being dismissed. The idea of focusing on class instead of race is still debated. For all the victories, what was accomplished, so little has changed. From issues of inequality to Black Lives Matter, the themes and struggle of this third graphic novel echo and repeat to today. While the graphic novel book ends itself with the election of President Obama, the graphic novel forces the reader (whether on purpose or not) to think about what that means in today’s society. Where we are from where we’ve been.

This third chapter to makes the whole stronger and for as much as I thought the second graphic novel was an emotional whirlwind, this third one left me fighting back tears at times. The whole is easily one of the greatest graphic presentations of all time, and absolutely some of the best literature to have been produced in recent years. It may seem like exaggeration but this graphic novel again brings real history “to life” in a way that is educational and entertaining. It accomplishes amazing things and will easily find its way on to book shelves as well as the classroom.

This third volume somehow leapfrogs the other two. Whether it’s due to learning or the material within, something about it created an emotional reaction I haven’t felt by any media in quite some time. And most importantly it got me to think about where we as a people and nation have been, where we are, and where we’re going.

This is easily the best graphic novel of the year so far.

Story: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin Art: Nate Powell
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Rai #15

RAI_015_COVER-A_MACKAs Father erects his floating kingdom of New Japan, nothing will stop him from asserting complete control over the millions who now fall under his gaze! And to ensure total subjugation, he will create the greatest “spirit guardian” New Japan has ever known – the fourth Rai! But as Father unleashes his most powerful warrior yet, has even he gone too far in his bid for absolute power?

Well holy moly, 4001 A.D. is one of the best event stories I have read in years, second only to last year’s offering by Valiant, Book Of Death. Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the event is how the tie-in comics don’t have a direct impact on the story as a whole (at least, not yet), but they shed do shed a little bit of light on the time between our present and the time that the story is taking place, nearly two thousand years in our future.

While the Rai of 4001 A.D. is starring in said summer event miniseries, this series has been telling a tale about an earlier version of Rai, close to a thousand years prior to the “present” of 4001 A.D.. Initially, I expected Rai to be telling a series of one-shot tales about different versions of New Japan’s guardian through the ages after issue #13 was a fairly self contained look at the first Rai, but Rai #15 is a continuation of the previous issue, and it’s quite a strong comic in it’s own right.

Echoing [redacted] and [redacted], this is one of the more interesting stories told through the tie in comics to the main event, and I have to say that right now, I’m probably more interested in how this will play out than I am with the main event – although that’ll likely change when I get my hands on  4001 A.D. #3. Rai #15  can probably be read by itself, but if you can find it then pick up #13 as well, because although it’s only a two issue yarn, reading them both will make the second issue so much better.

It’s tough to explain why I enjoyed this issue so much without spoiling the comic as a whole for you, and because I don’t want to do that I’m going to reduce the two issue arc down to an elevator pitch (and a poor one at that):  can humanity be attained by an android questioning it’s programming?

Rai #15 should appeal to many a sci-fi fan, but especially to those who have been following the character’s appearances since Valiant Entertainment debuted in 2012 regardless of whether they’re reading the summer event. Not only are Valiant delivering on fans expectations and giving us a great summer event, they’ve been slaying the tie-in comics as well.  Rai #15 is no exception to that.

Story: Matt Kindt Artist: Cafu Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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