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Review: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #1

Gryffen: Galaxy's Most Wanted #1

Ben Kahn, Bruno Hidalgo, and coloring assistant James Penafiel are back with some yummy, fun, and ultraviolent sci-fi as Captain Lyla Gryffen busts out of the prison hold of genocidal space fascists with the help of Elf and resistance fighter Telika and scientific genius/fuck buddy Elliot Dao. It’s space pulp adventures retrofitted for our era of hypercapitalism and white supremacy like Rick and Morty if it had a social conscience filled with equal takedowns of oppressive systems and shit blowing up.

The first page narration sets Lyla Gryffen as some legendary figure, and Kahn and Hidalgo ensure they live up to the legend by making Gryffen #1 all about cleverly breaking out of prisons and laying out their ideals about the world via quippy, eminently quotable dialogue about Bourbons, Bonapartes, the Industrial Revolution, and green Jello. Even though Gryffen is an action adventure narrative, it’s all about finding away to disrupt hegemonic systems instead of just the usual rebel alliance/blow up the small moon sized space station nonsense. Lyla wants to create a world where Admiral Thrawn, clones of the Emperor, and/or Yuuzhan Vong couldn’t rise to power after the second death Star through the power of science. But, also, violence.

Speaking of violence, Bruno Hidalgo’s art hits fever pitch when Lyla is kicking ass up and down the prison with Ben Kahn supplying them with one-liners about a no killing policy. Hidalgo and James Penafiel uses a red color palette to add intensity to the prison riot sequence, and Hidalgo’s uses big poses to draw attention to each action beat. The use of some old school motion lines are great for Lyla’s quick dodges and jabs and also builds up to a mad scientist’s wet dream of conclusion that oddly made me want to revisit the Halo franchise.

Other than the action with a side of political satire and emphatic artwork, Gryffen is a fun comic because of the interactions and chemistry between the three crew members, Lyla, Telika, and Dao. It’s a hotbox of cynicism meets idealism plus the fierce sexual attraction between Telika and Dao. Plus they love science a lot and think it’s the solution to everything, which leads to ingenious solutions, but also has bad side effects like the death cult that Dao influenced back in the day. The ideological clashes and riffing between Lyla, Telika, and Dao keeps the story going between fights, escapes, and chase sequences, and I look forward to learning more about cool scientists and seeing Lyla roast more 21st century Earth politicians.

Gryffen #1 is a sci-fi comic that is both immensely entertaining and sociopolitically relevant. Lyla Gryffen has plenty of attitude, and it seems like Ben Kahn is having the time of their life writing them. Throw in Bruno Hidalgo’s in-your-face colors and pulpy, gory artwork, and this is the summer punk rock sci-fi spectacular that you wish Hollywood had the balls to make.

Story: Ben Kahn Art: Bruno Hidalgo
Color Assists: James Penafiel Letters: Sal Cipriano
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Starburn Industries Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Justice League: Darkseid War: Batman #1

Justice League Darkseid War Batman CoverAs the Darkseid War rages on, Batman’s role in Gotham City-—and the world—alters drastically as he’s forced to accept his new role as a God of Knowledge.

Batman as a know-all God is a fascinating concept, especially considering his role as a detective. Justice League: Darkseid War: Batman #1 squanders most of that potential instead giving us a cross between Minority Report and A Christmas Carol.

The issue is basically two parts. The first has Batman and Gordon debating about Batman’s new knowledge, how he’s using it, and his end goal. It’s interesting to see how much of the concept of Batman changes with something simple as switching his general reactive actions to proactive.

The second part of the issue is the character visiting Joe Chill. Here things are pretty so-so not breaking a whole lot of new ground. Instead just showcasing how unstable Bruce/Batman is, as if it wasn’t clear in the previous half.

The comic very much feels like two short stories mashed together.

The art isn’t bad. It’s not quite as solid as Justice League, but it’s not poor art like we see in Annuals or big event tie-ins. I think my one gripe is that Joe Chill doesn’t look as old as he probably should be compared to Bruce. They look like they’d be about the same age when there’s at least a few years at least.

I give this a read mostly because I don’t know how it fits into the otherwise excellent “Darkseid War” as well as Batman’s story as a whole (though it’s super unclear how this all ties in to Batman considering that series’ current story). Not a bad comic, I was just hoping for something more.

Story: Peter J. Tomasi Art: Fernando Pasarin
Story: 6.75 Art: 7 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Sculptor

Scott-McClouds-The-Sculptor-Cover-2-3-15David Smith is giving hi life for his art-literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought. And discovering the love of his life at the eleventh hour isn’t making it any easier.

An instant classic and utter masterpiece Scott McCloud‘s The Sculptor is an amazing read that reflects on life, love, creativity, and death. The writing is almost poetic, and if you you’re not choked up by the end you have no heart.

With The Sculptor its clear McCloud has something important to say, and the story comes from his heart and personal experiences. From front to end, it reads like an intimate work.

The graphic novel is about realizing a dream, but also living life to the fullest. David is so focused on becoming a world famous sculptor, he overlooks the joy that’s in front of him during his final days on Earth. His choice is to decide how to leave a legacy, and it’s only too late before he realizes that fame might not be the right way to go about that.

The graphic novel is about obsession, and being too focused on something. I guarantee though, that once you pick up the graphic novel, you’ll quickly become obsessed with it, and not want to pick it down. While the graphic novel might be thick, it’s a breezy read, that’s beautiful art, a beautiful story, and a stand out already in the world of comics’ 2015 releases.

Story and Art: Scott McCloud
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

First Second provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review