Tag Archives: idw

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/26

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.


Joe Hesh

Superman #7 (DC) This is a week late but flu and such is life. This tale comes to you by the hyperbole filled mind of Brian Michael Bendis and the power pencil of Ivan Reis. The book opens with a returned from space Jon Kent and Clark clutching his sontight in mid air over Metropolis. It’s a touching scene and any father who missed his kid can identify. I love moments like this where Superman is shown his humanity. However Jon has come back aged several years and begins to tell his story. Here we hear about Lois, Jon and Jor-El and their time in the cosmos. It was pretty cool to see Lois in a Superman suit and it was beautifully rendered by Ivan Reis. They go to a near by planet and while they are walking Lois is revered as royalty because of her marriage to Kal El. Its a pretty slow issue and not too much but it is the set up for the big story to come. We get a quick pass through with Lobo encountering Jon and it is entertaining. The rest is just Jon filling in the blanks for his folks as the next task is they need to stop Grampa Jor-El as everything depends on it. Like i said the issue was pretty light but it was still enjoyable in parts. Overall: a quick pitstop on the next adventure but still well done. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Logan

Crypt of Shadows #1 (Marvel)– Al Ewing and artists Garry Brown, Stephen Green, and Djibril Morrissette-Pham revive Marvel’s classic horror tradition in a pretty messed up one-shot about man, who has a phobia of dogs, marriage problems, and his therapist isn’t super helpful. They successfully turn some of the world’s cutest creatures into bloodthirsty hellhounds beginning with the first page, a ferocious nine panel grid of dogs with teeth bared. These images continue as the protagonist (almost) literally digs a hole for himself, and the comic’s best scenes happen at the titular crypt. Crypt of Shadows is more nostalgic and less groundbreaking, but is an excellent bit of psychological horror with a fucked up twist that should really be a monthly title. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Blossoms: 666 #1 (Archie) Jason and Cheryl Blossom join the Archie Horror family as initiates of a Satanic cult in Blossoms: 666 #1. Laura Braga’s depiction of Cheryl exudes evil as she seduces the timid Dilton and tries to get him to act more confidently and stand up for himself. But she’s really using him. Jason’s scheme is not so memorable, and Cullen Bunn and Braga’s comic doesn’t have the immediate hook of Vampironica or Jughead: The Hunger. However, Braga does a nice job showing the contrast in space between the crowded, mundane halls of Riverdale High and the wide, mysterious environs of the Blossoms’ mansion. It’s a cool setting, and Cheryl shines visually and personality-wise, but it’s just a standard Archie comic with hoods and pentagrams in the end. Overall: 7 Verdict: Read

Shazam #2 (DC) Marco Santucci’s art is pretty generic house style stuff, but Geoff Johns does an excellent job creating a new story for the Shazam Family in a modern setting while expanding Shazam’s lore like he did with Green Lantern and Aquaman. In this issue, the Shazam family take a magical subway ride to Funlands, which is the border between super fun and super creepy. There’s an ease to the interactions between the family and stealthily this is a team, not a solo book. And Johns and Santucci don’t skimp on the bad guys either and slowly reintroduce one of the best classic Captain Marvel villains and connect him to the new lore. There are lots of plates spinning plot-wise and the art doesn’t stand out, but Shazam #2 is magical family fun for the most part. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

Ryan C

Batman #63 (DC)** – Always nice to see Mikel Janin back on art, but Tom King’s scripting is still falling flat, especially in this “Batman’s worst nightmares come to life” arc. Plus, what is it with his obsession with killing or otherwise destroying the women that his protagonists love, in this case repeatedly? Something’s not right there, and it’s becoming a very problematic pattern in King’s work. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass

Freedom Fighters #2 (DC)** – I must be a glutton for punishment, because the first issue of this 12-parter was embarrassingly bad, yet here I am, back for one more round. And you know what? It’s no better, and may even be worse. Problem number one is that the cover features a battle from LAST issue, not THIS one, and problem two is — everything else. Nothing much happens in Robert Venditti’s script apart from one long fight that sees the new Freedom Fighters beat a giant Nazi police robot, and we get to witness the sudden potential rebirth of Uncle Sam, who apparently resides in the Alan Moore-esque “extradimensional realm of ideas.” Where the fuck did that come from? A lame cliffhanger rounds out another “Razzie”-level comic, but at least Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira turn in art that’s up to their usual high standard here. That’s worth a point right there, but that’s it. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass. I purchased my copy, which was a really stupid mistake.

The Wild Storm #19 (DC/WildStorm)** – Really nice to see this series back after a bit of a hiatus, and it’s back with a bang — yeah, Warren Ellis’ script is something of an “info-dump,” but it’s a gripping and intriguing one that finally fills in so many of the blanks with just five issues to go. Jon Davis-Hunt turns in his best art to date, which is high praise indeed (there’s a double-page spread early on that will positively knock your socks off), and all in all everything is really ramping up for a memorable “third act.” Not to be missed under any circumstances! Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

American Carnage #3 (DC/Vertigo)** – A high-octane installment in this promising new title that sees writer Bryan Hill, artist Leandro Fernandez, and colorist Dean White all running like a finely-tuned machine, as the momentum of the script kicks up a notch without sacrificing on the action, the illustration ups the ante on dynamic fluidity, and the colors — well, they’re just plain spectacular. This is a fun, reasonably thought-provoking series that seems to be hitting a nice stride very early in what will hopefully be a nice, lengthy run. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

War Is Hell #1 (Marvel) In a return to the old War Comics the House of Ideas became famous for, thus one shot serves fans a book that suffice this comic book fan. in the first story ” Swing Verboten”, Howard Chaykin gives us a story about a Jazz loving Nazi pilot whose love for the music outweighs his patriotism to Nazi Germany. In ” War Devil”, we get a touch of the supernatural as an evil spirit inhabits different people only to survive another day. Overall, a great book that evokes those old comics like The Nam, but with a modern update. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Joe Ryan

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel) – I have been hyped for this since Cates/Shaw were announced as the creative team. It’s the God Country team for crying out loud! One of the best series in the last few years, and Cates does wild and fun better than most anyone. This issue didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but it didn’t have to be. It was an awesome action packed wild ride with Beta Ray Bill, Cosmic Ghost Rider and Silver Surfer all hanging out, I mean what more does one need!? This book is only going to get better. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Crypt of Shadows #1 (Marvel) – I have been going off about Al Ewing ever since he started his run on Immortal Hulk, and loved him back on Ultimates as well. He has been underrated for too long, but not any longer. Between this and Hulk, he has shown he is a master at writing classic horror. We get different artists teaming up with Ewing for a classic horror tale that felt straight out of the old horror comics Marvel themselves produced. This was absolutely a great representation of Marvel’s 80 years!. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #63 (DC) – I loved seeing Constantine walk into King’s world, and after we get more answers as to what is happening in this issue, I may change my score. I enjoyed the issue, and have been pleasantly surprised at these “filler” issues, which feel like they aren’t filler at all, while Williamson prepares to take over and we resume the “main” story a few issues later. Janin kills it on art as usual, and overall this was a decent entry and added a bunch of mystery to the series. King does have an odd thing for imagining bumping off his heroes significant others between this and Superman #7 Giant size though. Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Buy

Naomi #1 (Wonder Comics) – The opening spread of Superman vs. Mongul drawn by Campbell is jaw dropping. I love his layouts and panel work on this book. It’s creative, and so is this story. It was fun to step into the perspective of a young girl who keeps missing the most famous hero save the day in her small town where nothing happens. The end gives us a nice cliffhanger and a fun ending to a good first issue. I loved the optimism in this comic, and it was a nice change of pace. Walker was made for this book. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

War is Hell #1 (Marvel) – We get two stories in this nod to Marvel’s 80 years, and an nod to the old war comics that share the same name. The first by Chaykin was interesting, and gave another perspective to WW2 and a fan of jazz, while Phillip KennedyJohnson and Alberqueue give us a prose driven dark tale in Afghanistan that fits the title of this book. I did enjoy the book for the most part, and it was a solid one shot. Overall: 7.0 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/19

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.


Ashley

Euthanauts #5 (IDW/Black Crown) – The first arc of Tini Howard and Nick Robles’ series on death and the afterlife has ended and I hope it isn’t the last. With Circe dead, our intrepid heroes struggle to find the answers to why. With a final broadcast from Mercy, the issue takes us through an exhilarating ride though Deathspace to tie up loose ends while also setting up for potential later issues. By the time I was finished with the issue, I immediately went and preordered the trade because I am not ready for this series to end. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Die #2 (Image) – Since I never got into D&D, I never expected to be so into a comic that plays so heavily with the lore. But Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans pulled it off that I’m am completely engrossed in the comic and mad about it. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Captain Marvel #1 (Marvel) – New Year, New Movie, so that means New Comic for Carol Danvers. Which, as it turns out, is super fun! The comic features Carol Danvers returning to the Avengers full time after nearly two years in space and time away to take care of her brother in The Life of Captain Marvel. Most of the issue shows Carol adjusting to life back in New York and juggling a million different balls. Suddenly, the issue takes a turn and leaves a hell of a hook for future issues. Kelly Thompson’s writing is quick witted and sassy, making her the perfect successor to Deconnick and Stohl, and Carmen Carnero and Tamra Bonvillain are probably the best art team for Carol since Kris Anka and Matt Wilson. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

The Wicked + The Divine #41 (Image) – So much of everything since issue #5 has been building up to this issue. With as much shocks and heartbreaks the series has had over the years, having an issue that has this much payoff is practically euphoric. Along with being masterfully written by Gillen per usual, McKelvie’s art plays the emotions of the scenes with such subtlety and grace. There were panels in this issue that made me tear up with facial expressions alone. Overall, this was one of the most satisfying issues of WicDiv so far. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Days Of Hate #12 (Image)** – Ales Kot and Danijel Zezelj close out their year-long series with another installment that continues the downward trajectory this thing has been on from issue two onwards. More an epilogue than a conclusion, Kot here uses some admittedly effective emotional “beats” to less-than-cleverly disguise that he hasn’t actually wrapped up a damn thing. Gorgeous art from Zezelj, as always, but this entire series was a complete waste of time and money. Overall: 2 Recommendation: PassR

Gideon Falls #10 (Image)** – Moving in exactly the opposite direction, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino continue the upward trajectory that they’ve been on from issue two onwards with their most visually and conceptually stunning issue yet, one which sees the two competing plotlines finally converge in a very literal, and memorable, sense. This is a book that just keeps on getting more coherent and more confident month after month. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy


Evolution #13 (Image/Skybound)** – The second-best horror series at Image begins its final arc with a pretty breakneck piece of convergence/dovetailing of its own as the threat, and the action, begins to center firmly in the Los Angeles area. Joe Infurnari’s Eurocomics-style art continues to be absolutely breathtaking, and the small army of writers — James Asmus, Christopher Sebela, and Jospeh Keatinge — produce yet another script that feels so seamless it could fool you into thinking it was written by one person. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Deadly Class #36 (Image/Giant Generator) **– Rick Remender and Wes Craig revive their series after a long hiatus on the very same day the TV show premieres (just a coincidence, I’m sure) with a very “new-reader-friendly” issue that sees Marcus struggle with his internal demons and plot a bold course forward. Lots here for veterans and newbies alike to enjoy, and the art in this book has seriously never been better. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Star Wars Age Of Republic Special #1(Marvel)-In a trio of short stories, we find some popular side characters take the forefront. In one tale, we find Mace Windu taken but it is his first lesson as a Padawan which enables him to best captors. In the second tale, Asajj Ventress empathy for a pair of street kids leases to her to act as the hero for once. In the last take, we find Rex and Jar Jar, outgunned but not outsmarted. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Conan The Barbarian #2(Marvel)- In what can be best explained as Conan’s ” Dances with Wolves” experience, we find the Cimirrian becoming part of a tribe he once swore was his enemy. We find Conan prisoned by this warring tribe and eventually becoming one of them. As a final battle against a greater evil, proves he can change.Aaron’s storytelling in this series is masterful as he is at his best in this story. Overall: 9 Recommendation: 9.5

Jon

Conan the Barbarian #2 (Marvel) The second issue of Marvel’s Conan improves upon the first by including a more nuanced looked at the Picts, a culture Howard used as an analog for the stereotypical version of native Americans found in most westerns. Conan must help them to defeat the ghost snakes. In the end je must choose between living with them as an equal or returning to the Aquilonian frontier where he is considered only marginally more civilized. One of the things I find interesting about Conan is that while he does enjoy some degree of privilege within his society he is still a member of a marginalized. It was good to see Aaron play with this dichotomy as it added a lot of depth to what otherwise could have been a shallow story. It was also nice to read an issue that largely stands on its own. This is another good introduction to the character for those who may have missed the debut. Asrar’s art is as on point as ever. If the creators can maintain this level of quality this will be one of the best books of the year. Rating: 9 Recommendation: Buy.


Goddess Mode #2 (DC/Vertigo) My opinion is still divided on this series. While issue two adds some much needed exposition as Cassandra learns who the Tall Poppies are and what it means to be an Oracle, the story still seems to stutter in places. It feels like Zoe Quinn and Robbi Rodriguez are playing a riff on Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. Quinn and Rodriguez may have the talent but lacking the experience the product of their effort is missing the polish I expect from Vertigo. Still there is still a lot of potential for an interesting story about how virtual worlds and coping with trauma sometimes move hand in hand. It’s a difficult book to read but it may well be worth it in the long run. Only time will tell. Rating: 6. Recommendation: Skip

House of Whispers #5 (DC/Vertigo) Too much happens in this issue for a summary to do it justice. Suffice to say Nalo Hopinkson brings the threads she’s been weaving since Sandman Universe #1 together and the glimpse we get of the tapestry being created is magnificent. If you’ve been reading The Dreaming but avoiding this title, go out and get caught up; House of Whispers is proving to be just as essential and just as good. I do hope that Dan Watters writing credit is there because Hopkinson need assistance turning out the extra-large installment; hers is a powerful and unique voice that comics need more of. DOMO Stanton’s art remains superb. Rating: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Superman #7 (DC) Brian Bendis’ run on Superman has been a mixed bag. While he does a really good job of teasing revelations that make you want to read the next issue, the impact of those revelations never quite lives up to the expectation you build upin your head. This is a good case in point as we learn a bit of what Jon Kent has been up to in the seven years he’s been exploring outer space with Jor El. And it turns out to have been kind of boring. There are times when Bendis’ decompressed style works wonders but this is not one of them. He’s had over a year’s worth of issues between this and Action and very little to show for it. The sight of Lois Lane wearing the super-suit might almost be worth it if not for her milk toast demeanor and the fact that the pages drawn by fill in artist Brandon Peterson, while competent, are not up to the standard we’ve come to expect from Ivan Reis. This book is a regrettable waste of talent. I expect more from everyone involved. Rating: 6. Recommendation: Skip.

Logan

Goddess Mode #2 (Vertigo) Bookended by frenzied, colorful action from artists Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi, Goddess Mode #2 digs into the personalities of the “Tall Poppies” aka the witch, cyberpunk oracle things that rescued the protagonist Cassandra in the first issue. Zoe Quinn and Rodriguez use things like a group chat cut between scenes of the Tall Poppies doing their favorite activities to give insight into them while frantically trying to exposit the nature of their world. Goddess Mode has a very fever dream quality to it, but at least, we now (sort of) have a cast of characters to follow and latch onto in their epic, magical battles. It’s a strong book on the visual side, but there is room to improve. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

Invaders #1 (Marvel) Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno, and wonderful WWII flashback artist Butch Guice focus on Namor in the first issue of the new Invaders series. Guice’s work is visceral and heartbreaking in the opening sequence where for all his great powers, Namor is unable to save his soldier friend, Tommy, from the Nazis in World War 2. This continues to the present day where Namor has been behaving erratically and is planning a giant invasion of the surface world. Instead of just forcing a team-up, Zdarsky and Magno add psychological depth to the relationships between Captain America, Bucky, Namor, and Jim Hammond along with an air of mystery to the time between the Golden and Silver Age of Comics when Namor was an amnesiac. Moral ambiguity in war is the through-line of this book as Cap goes against Tony and the Avengers to talk and empathize with Namor instead of punching him. I’m really excited to see what Zdarsky does with Namor’s character as he is more than just a villain and has unique connections to all corners of the Marvel Universe from the Golden Age era heroes and even the X-Men. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Black Widow #1 (Marvel) So, Black Widow’s current status quo is that she is cloned from the one killed by HYDRA Cap, who was the really Captain America, or maybe not. Yeah, it’s a little complicated, but except for the first scene, none of that matters in Black Widow #1 by horror film directors the Soska Sisters and artist Flaviano, who brings the cartooning and can lay out an action scene. Basically, because she’s “dead”, Natasha has gone no holds barred and leaves her buddies in the Avengers, including Cap, to fight and potential kill some messed up criminals in Madripoor while rocking an eye patch like Wolverine in his Patch days. Having Natasha almost completely give into her bloodthirsty instincts is a compelling moral narrative, and the Soskas give her plenty of snarky, deadpan one-liners and roast Secret Empire while paying homage to the Russos’ action filmmaking in Captain America: Winter Soldier. She still has spy skills, but this story takes a turn into becoming a psychological thriller towards the end. It’s nice to see creators from other mediums do something different with Black Widow and explore in dark side in a more fun way that dreary grim darkness. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Joe Ryan

Invaders #1 (Marvel) What a great first issue, and a pleasant surprise from Zdarsky and Magno. I love Zdarsky as a writer, but usually he shines in the comedic styles his books are usually shown in, but as he had shown in moments of Marvel 2 In 1, he can get serious, and this book was very serious. I am a big Namor fan, and I bought all of the dialogue and all of the big moments between Cap, Namor, Bucky, the original Human Torch, and the soldiers. This is really a war book, and it was awesome. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Fantastic Four #6 (Marvel) I am a big Aaron Kuder fan, and I am so happy he is on this book. He drew Mr. Fantastic and company so well, and I already love his version of Doom. Speaking of Doom, Dan Slott gives us classic campy mega bad Dr. Doom and I couldn’t be happier. The dialogue from his evil metal masked mouth just drips with that classic Marvel Lee/Kirby charm. This book has been solid, but this issue took it to the next level. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Uncanny X-Men #10 (Marvel) – The book is overpriced, released too frequently, and the $8 #1 and #11 issues are silly, as is the annual coming next week after 10 weeks of the book being out. That being said, Rosenberg, Brisson, and Thompson have done a solid job so far, and I enjoyed Perez’s art. Now while I have liked this so far, we are in the Age of X-Man officially, so it could get good or bad from here. I will say the final panels of the book have me hyped! Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy


The Batman Who Laughs #2 (DC) – Scott Snyder and Jock on Batman are fantastic, and this is no different. I will say he really likes to punish Bats and the DC heroes (Metal anyone?), and you can tell he REALLY loves The Batman Who Laughs, and making it seem like the bad guys win a lot. Jock on art is of course fantastic on this book, and Snyder does a great job of only teasing The Grim Knight as the issues go on. This is shaping up to be a classic tale, and I have high hopes. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy


Detective Comics #996 (DC) – This was another great Bat-book this week. With only three issues in, Mankhe and Tomasi are doing such a great job on this story. I cannot wait to see where we are with The Arkham Knight and everything else that has happened by issue #1000 which isn’t far away. I highly recommend you jump on this series now, as it’s just going to get better. Overall: 8.5 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 (**).

Alex’s Best Comics of 2018

Now that 2018 is in the history books, it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics, movies and events that really stood out for me during the year. Remember that this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, it may be because I may not have read it, not because I didn’t like it.

Now that 2018 is in the history books, it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics, movies and events that really stood out for me during the year. Remember that this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, it may be because I may not have read it, not because I didn’t like it.

In a break from last year, we’re just looking at comics (ongoing or miniseries). Eight of them in fact, that for one reason or another rocked my socks off.

 Eight

Black Badge (Boom) The only reason that this book is number eight and not higher is because I’m trying to be cautious of Recency Bias – that phenomenon where the most recent thing you’ve read swiftly becomes the best thing you’ve read. Although this series is six issues deep, I only started reading after the end of 2018 (which puts this in a grey area anyway, but the majority of the issues out thus far were released in 2018, so I’m counting it). In short, the two things that sold me on this was the short blurb from Brett “boy scouts being trained as assassins” and the fact that Matt Kindt is the writer.

Seven

Grumble (Albatross Funny Books) Although only a relatively new series, Grumble has captured my imagination and numbers highly on my anticipation list each month. Whether it’s the talking pug, the urban magic or the brilliant visual and verbal humour I don’t know. But I do know I can’t get enough of it.

 Six

Ninja-K (Valiant) The easiest way to describe this series is as a blending of James Bond and Batman with a liberal dose of ninja flavouring (which should be obvious by the title). Christos Gage’s run on this series delved into the back story of MI6’s Ninja Programme and exposed the manipulation and programming the agents (Ninjas A through J) had been subject too; often in the most subtle of ways, all to keep them as more effective weapons. Ninja-K, or Ninjak, gets thrown through the emotional gamut, and it’s fascinating reading.

 Five

The Immortal Hulk  (Marvel) I’m not generally a horror fan, nor do I regularly read Hulk comics with any real regularity, but there’s something about this series that struck a chord with me. This is how Hulk should be handled. As a monster barely constrained, ever deadly and with a massive presence.

 Four

X-O Manowar  (Valiant) A series that was really good in 2017, but swiftly became the best thing I was reading. Even with Valiant’s stumble with Harbinger Wars II didn’t affect the series despite the character featuring heavily in the story, and the series returned with a pair of arcs that went from strength to strength as Matt Kindt redefined what it means to be a hero and a superhuman (emphasis on human).

 Three

Old Man Logan (Marvel)  Old Man Logan was never going to live forever, especially not with the younger Wolverine returning at some point in the next year or so. We’ve known for awhile that there wouldn’t be much chance Marvel would keep both around (aside from an interesting interaction or two, I’m hoping there was a lesson learned from bringing the Original Six X-Men to the future), which has meant that the battles Old Man Logan has found himself in have been genuinely tense – a rarity these days in comic books.

 Two

The Highest House (IDW) Were it not for the fact that my top pick also had my favourite issue of the year, then The Highest House would have been much more likely to peak. A book about slavery, and how one’s circumstances don’t have to stay one’s circumstances, this is a hauntingly beautiful book that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the high middle ages. The collected edition is one of those books that I’ll recommend to people over and over as an example of what comics are capable of, and will in time, I believe, be held in (almost) as high esteem as Maus and Watchmen.

 One

Quantum And Woody (Valiant) When Daniel Kibblesmith was writing this book it was good, but when Eliot Rahal took over with issue 6 it was like the lights had come on. His take on the brothers was funny without ever feeling forced; I have never read a better take on Quantum and Woody. Plus, this series had my absolute favourite issue of the year. Which was also the final one. The series was continually, and consistently, of a high quality in every aspect every issue, but it’s the third that was the high point with a superb interview sequence interspersed with one of the greatest two page spreads of the year, only to culminate in perhaps the most emotional scene in any comic as one character talks to another about  his fears that due to the altered timeline he may forget his wife ever existed. Without the context of the preceding issues, one would expect that the emotional impact of the scene would be lost. I assure you, it isn’t. 

Review: DuckTales #1

DuckTales01_cvrA-copyDuckTales #1 makes up for allllll the flaws of Uncle Scrooge. It continues the work of the rebooted TV show: establishing the triplets as three separate characters rather than one run-on sentence. The humor that the boys exude perfectly extends from screen to page–the unique humor that makes the show literally laugh out loud funny is inside the pages of DuckTales #1, as well.

The only flaw with DuckTales, which was a problem with Uncle Scrooge as well, is the mistreatment of Donald as a character. His anger seems weirdly under contol. Compared to the Donald that fans know and love, DuckTales Donald spouts less expletives and suffers more slapstick. The series is more about the boys, anyhow, which is where the book (and the new show) really shine.

DuckTales #1 is broken up into two stories: “The Chilling Secret of the Lighthouse” and “The Great Experiment of the Washing Machine”. Both were written by Joe Caramagna, who has an outstanding grasp of DuckTales both old and new. “Lighthouse” reflects a more classic television DuckTales story, with an ancient legend debunked by the triplets exploring “uncharted” territory. “Washing Machine” is a little more modern, with iPhones used for distraction tactics, and the boys displaying their individual personalities. Huey in particular gets to shine as the inventor of the group.

Donald Duck # 1 IDW DT

They’ve come a long way from the original depiction of “the triplets”

The stories have different artists, but  both Luca Usai (“Lighthouse”) and Gianfranco Florio (“Washing Machine”) continue the tradition of pulling from 1940s Donald Duck comics. It’s one of my favorite things about the reboot, and I’m thrilled to see it continue on both show and book. The short tales are great, but I hope that an overarching plot emerges before long. Based on the teaser of issue #2, which features Della Duck on a quest with Donald and Scrooge, readers probably won’t have to wait for clues to a much larger mystery.

WooHoo indeed.

Story: Joe Carmagna Art: Luca Usai, Gianfranco Florio
Color: Giuseppe Fontana, Dario Calabria Letterer: Tom B. Long Editor: Joe Hughes

Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/7

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.


Alex

Moon Knight #10 (Marvel) Uh… yeah. I  want to love this, I really do. But Jeff Lemire’s take moon_knight__10on  Moon Knight seems to have lost me somewhere along the way, and I have no idea why. That said, if you’re enjoying the series, then there’s no reason you won’t enjoy this comic. Overall: 7.75  Recommendation: Read

Old Man Logan #16 (Marvel)** If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to read a story with Wolverine in the Alien universe, then pick this issue up. It’s an atmospheric tour de force with some amazing artwork from Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Mialo – well worth checking out. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

The Unworthy Thor #3 (Marvel) A series that started out very promising takes a bit of a stumble here. Although this wasn’t a bad issue, and will probably work very well when sandwiched between #2 and #4 in trade, it just failed to grab the goat by the horns and ride off into the sky. The art is spectacular, the story less so, but if you’ve been following Jason Aaron’s run on the Thor comics he’s been writing, then you’ll still find enough here to enjoy. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Joe

Superman #14 (DC) – I really liked how crazy this issue got so quickly. We get multiple Supermen as well as other heroes from different earths as a new threat chases the Russian Superman (nice call back to Red Son), Chinese Superman, Earth 23 Superman, and more. We realize they are keeping all of the Supermen captive, and our Superman decides he wants to help Earth 23 Superman and his team rescue the others. It was a solid first issue of this short arc. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #14 (DC) – Many of this run of Batman by Tom King has been controversial, and there are some who do not enjoy it. I get that. I have enjoyed the run, and I think he is playing the long game here and setting up quite a bit. I was shocked a little at this issue, and how far it went into the Bat and Cat relationship, but King further doubled down on the vulnerability of Batman. He is showing him giving more into impulses, and he bm_cv14_dscertainly does that in this issue. We also get Batman saying that Catwoman did not kill all of those people, so I am hoping for a payoff there as this series continues forward. Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

The Unstoppable Wasp #1 (Marvel) – This was a fun comic filled with a lot of positivity and optimism. Nadia is fun and charming as heck. I liked the exchange with her and Ms. Marvel, as well as her and Mockingbird. There is a touching moment between them about Bobbi’s past that as she says, most forget about. Also, science! The tone and art style reminds me very much of a classic Archie book. This was a good first issue for a semi new character that we haven’t yet learned a ton about. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

Big Trouble in Little China/Escape From New York #4 (IDW)** – I should be loving this way more. On one level, I’m enjoying Greg Pak & Daniel Bayliss’ romp through the Plisskenverse – but deep in my Canadian soul, I’m all “enough with the Multiversal Snakes, let’s see post-apocalyptic John Carpenter Toronto already!” Also, there’s something that’s so awesome about Jack Burton’s dumb luck that I was disappointed to see it codified so neatly. I would like to see more disorder and chaos in a series like this. Overall: 7 Recommendation: read

Ryan C

Batman #14 (DC)** – Nice to see the creative team from “The Sheriff Of Babylon” reunited for this two-part “extended intermission” between arcs, and Mitch Gerads’ art is truly gorgeous — unfortunately, Tom King’s story is a four-pager spread out to cover 20, and Batman and Catwoman calling each other “Cat” and “Bat”? I’m sorry, but that’s just plain ridiculous. Worth looking at for the pretty pictures, but they tell the tale better than the actual script does. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Pass

The Flintstones #7 (DC)** – Mark Russell’s script for this one is a notch below his usual flint_7_dsstandard, but he still takes aim at the commercialization of religion with typically glorious results and greedy bosses come under fire, too, so — all in all, it’s still a very worthwhile read. Rick Leonardi (there’s a name you don’t see often anymore) and Scott Hanna fill in for Steve Pugh on the art, and it’s — okay, I guess, but far from the near-greatness we’re used to. Even a sub-par issue of “The Flintstones” is still better than just about everything else out there, though, and I’m very intrigued by next issue’s promised exploration of the origins of agriculture. Could Russell be transitioning from an anti-capitalist/anti-consumerist critique to an anti-civilization one? The prospect certainly seems exciting, and fans of “Green Anarchist” authors/philosophers like John Zerzan would do well to pay attention to where this book is going. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy

Unfollow #15 (DC/Vertigo)** – It’s nice to see Mike Dowling back on the art after a couple months off, but his style looks to have taken a turn for the “scratchier” and less defined, and Rob Williams appears to be moving into rather abrupt wind-up mode with his storyline. I haven’t heard anything about this book being cancelled (not that I pay a ton of attention to what passes for “news reporting” in today’s comics scene), but we go from 86 survivors at the beginning of this issue to 40 at the end with no explanation (as of yet), and events appear to be steamrolling toward a conclusion that I still hoped was a long way off. Overall: 6. Recommendation: Read.

Nailbiter #28 (Image)** – Speaking of books in wind-down mode, Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson are concluding their long-form horror series in just two months (of their own volition, they both insist) which means that this issue has to move things along quickly — and it does, perhaps to its detriment, as the destruction of the entire fucking town of Buckaroo, Oregon feels forced and falls curiously flat. Consequently, what should have been a seismic read ends up registering barely a blip. Hopefully they close out with a couple of chapters that are much stronger than this one. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Pass

Shean

The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #1 (DC) – When it comes to misunderstood superheroes, captamfr_cv1_open_order_varmany do not come more tragic than Captain Atom. In this series , we find a hero still searching for who he is while at the same time trying to change public perception. He saves a cruise ship from sinking but catches the attention of the Justice League. By issue’s end, his struggle becomes harder, and the reader finds a fight more human . Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Guardians of The Galaxy Volume 2 Prelude (Marvel) – Popular culture has clung on to Comics like it has never done before and it looks like nothing will change soon.This never more evident when one talks about Guardians of the Galaxy. In this Prelude tot he upcoming movie, the reader pretty much pickups from when Peter Quill loses his mother. From what this first issue sets up, I think anyone familiar with their most popular storylines, will know now what the upcoming film will be about. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Read

Deadpool The Duck#1 (Marvel )- What happens when you put three of Marvel’s fan favorites in one space together? Seems to be a lot of crazy crap happening. In this series, Deadpool and Howard the Duck both get a call that a High value alien target is no its way to Earth . What they don’t know is that target is Rocket Raccoon, and he definitely isn’t himself, as he wreaks enough Havoc to mess with Deadpool’s teleportation device. By issue’s end, we find our heroes conjoined telling each other’s story. Overall: 10  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 (**).

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2016

Some amazing comics came out in 2016 from both the Big Two and the indie ranks. This was the year that I had a lot of fun reading the books that came out in the “margins” of Marvel and DC that didn’t feature their top characters, but had idiosyncratic, top notch visuals, or just a good sense of humor. Black Mask continues to be my go-to for hard hitting indie work, and the whole BOOM! Box imprint continues to be as fun as ever.

Without further ado, these are my personal favorite comics of 2016, the ones that stimulated and entertained me the most in this difficult year.

kimandkimFI

10. Kim and Kim #1-4 (Black Mask)
Writer: Mags Visaggio Artist: Eva Cabrera Colorist: Claudia Aguirre

Kim and Kim was a super fun sci-fi miniseries with some wild and wacky worldbuilding, rollicking action scenes, and lots of hilarious interactions between the two leads, Kim Q and Kim D. Writer Mags Visaggio put their friendship front and center giving the comic a strong emotional through-line between bounty hunter shenanigans. Also, Eva Cabrera excels at drawing attractive humans as well as strange aliens, and I enjoyed Claudia Aguirre’s pastel-filled color palette. It was also nice to have a story starring two queer women not end in senseless death.

jonesy #2 featured

9. Jonesy #1-8 (BOOM! Studios)
Writer: Sam Humphries Artist: Caitlin Rose Boyle Colorists: Mickey Quinn, Brittany Peer

Every year, the BOOM! Box imprint seems to churn out a new title that captures my heart. Jonesy is a fire cracker of a comic starring a teenage girl, who can make anyone fall in love with anything. Unfortunately, that power doesn’t work on her personally, and it gets her into a lot of trouble. Sam Humphries’ writing has as little chill as his protagonist, and Caitlin Rose-Boyle’s art evokes the zines that Jonesy loves to make about her favorite pop star, Stuff. The hyper-stylized plots and faces that Jonesy pulls kept me laughing while Jonesy’s struggles with finding someone to love her and her strained relationship with her mom in the second arc gave me the feels. Her and her friends’ unabashed passion for life is kind of inspiring too.

ultimates2fi

8. Ultimates #3-12, Ultimates 2 #1-2 (Marvel)
Writer: Al Ewing Artists: Kenneth Rocafort, Christian Ward, Djibril Morrisette-Phan, Travel Foreman Colorist: Dan Brown

Ultimates and Ultimates 2 were the gold standard for team superhero book at both Marvel and DC, and not even Civil War II could stop this title’s momentum. The Al Ewing-penned comic was more of a science fiction saga that happened to star a diverse cast of superheroes than a straight up team book as they tried to find productive solutions to problems like Galactus and the Anti-Man instead of just punching things. And like all good team books, there’s some great interpersonal tension like when Black Panther puts Wakanda before the team, Ms. America defies Captain Marvel, and Spectrum and Blue Marvel start smooching. Ultimates also has some wonderful tapestry-style double page spreads from artists Kenneth Rocafort, Christian Ward, and Travel Foreman that match its multiversal scope. It’s an entertaining and esoteric comic.

 

deadman-2-featured

7. Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1-2 (DC)
Writer: Sarah Vaughn Artist: Lan Medina Colorist: Jose Villarrubia

In 2016, DC really stretched its wings genre-wise with the Young Animal imprint and comics, like a satirical take on the Flintstones. But, the best of this quirky bunch was a Gothic romance take on Deadman from Fresh Romance‘s Sarah Vaughn, Fables‘ Lan Medina, and atmospheric colorist Jose Villarrubia. The main character, Berenice, can see ghosts, including Deadman, who are trapped in a haunted British mansion. There are secret passageways, mysterious backstories, and an epic, bisexual love triangle, but mostly, Deadman is a meditation on mortality and relationships, both platonic and romantic with some jaw-dropping scenery from Medina and Villarrubia.

Hellcat7FI

6. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #2-13 (Marvel)
Writer: Kate Leth Artists: Brittney Williams, Natasha Allegri Colorists: Megan Wilson, Rachelle Rosenberg

Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat is a comic that acknowledges how annoying getting your life together can be for twenty-somethings, who live in the city. Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, Megan Wilson, and Rachelle Rosenberg also throw injourneys to Hell, guest appearances from Jessica Jones and Jubilee, telekinetic bisexuals quoting Hamilton, and nods to the old Patsy Walker romance comics to a quite relatable comic. Brittney Williams’ Magical Girl and Chibi-inspired art is great for comedy purposes, but she and Leth also had some emotional payoffs throughout Hellcat thanks to the relationships developed between Patsy, Ian Soo, and She-Hulk, especially when she reacts to She-Hulk’s injury in Civil War II. Hellcat is fierce, high energy comic that is the best of both romance and superhero comics with the occasional trippy scene shift from Williams, Wilson, and Rosenberg.

mockingbirdyas

5. Mockingbird  #1-8 (Marvel)
Writer: Chelsea Cain Artist: Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, Ibrahim Moustafa Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Mockingbird was experimental, unabashedly feminist, pretty sexy, and just happened to star a former West Coast Avenger and be published by Marvel Comics. Thriller novelist Chelsea Cain plotted a pair of mysteries, involving cosplay cruises, doctor waiting rooms, corgis, and Marvel Universe deep cuts that were engaging thanks to detail filled art from Kate Niemczyk and inker Sean Parsons. Loaded with background gags and subtle foreshadowing for future issues, Mockingbird certainly has “replay” value as a comic and is triumphant, messy, and funny just like its lead character, Bobbi Morse and was a coming out party for Marvel’s next great colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg.

love-is-love-featured

4. Love is Love (IDW)
Writers: Various Artists: Various

I just reviewed this comics anthology a few days ago, but Love is Love is the 2016 comic that affected me personally the most as it showed the effects of The Pulse shooting on the LGBTQ community in a variety of ways. I latched onto stories about the vibrancy of the queer community in Orlando, the sanctuary effect of gay clubs that provided some of the anthology’s best visuals from Jesus Merino, Alejandra Gutierrez, and Michael Oeming, and the use of superheroes like Batman, Midnighter, and Supergirl as simple analogues of hope in the middle of heartbreak. Love is Love saddened me, but it also inspired me to continue to uplift my LGBTQ siblings as the racist, sexist, homophobes Trump and Pence take the office of president and vice president. It was also cool to see so many talented creators using their gifts to help raise money for Equality Florida.

WicDiv18FI

 

3. The Wicked + the Divine #18-24, #1831 (Image)
Writer: Kieron Gillen Artists: Jamie McKelvie, Stephanie Hans, Kevin Wada Colorist: Matthew Wilson

In WicDiv‘s third year, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson went a little blockbuster with big battles, splash pages, and an unexpected character death. But, the comic is still about the journey of Laura (Now Persephone.) from fan to artist, and how it has changed her life and relationships. And, in time honored tradition, WicDiv wasn’t afraid to get experimental with an issue featuring a Pantheon of Romantic poets and writers, like Mary Shelley and Lord Byron with lavish guest art from Journey into Mystery‘s Stephanie Hans, or the magazine issue with professional journalists interviewing Kieron Gillen roleplaying as Fantheon members with beautiful spot illustrations from Kevin Wada. As WicDiv enters its “Imperial Phase”, McKelvie and Wilson’s art is both opulent and disarming while Kieron Gillen has started to expose the personalities behind the explosions and drama of “Rising Action”.

giantdaysfi

 

2. Giant Days #10-21, Holiday Special #1 (BOOM!)
Writer: John Allison Artists: Max Sarin, Liz Fleming Colorist: Whitney Cogar

Giant Days is funny, true, shows the value of a good inker in Liz Fleming to nail a face or gesture, and reminds me of a weekend I spent in its setting of Sheffield over two years ago. John Allison and Max Sarin have developed the personalities and mannerisms of the three leads: Susan, Esther, and Daisy that any situation that they’re plugged into from music festivals to housing selections and even cheating rings is pure entertainment. Allison, Sarin, and the bright colors of Whitney Cogar nail the ups and downs of college life with a touch of the surreal, and the series continues to be more compelling as we get to know Susan, Esther, and Daisy better as people.

midnighterandapollofi

1. Midnighter #8-12, Midnighter and Apollo #1-3 (DC)
Writer: Steve Orlando Artists: David Messina, Gaetano Carlucci, ACO, Hugo Petrus, Fernando Blanco Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Steve Orlando’s run on Midnighter and Midnighter and Apollo has the most bone breaking action, the coolest panel layouts from David Messina, ACO, and Fernando Blanco and yes, the hottest kisses and other sexy stuff as Midnighter and Apollo are back in a relationship. Orlando shows his passion for the DC and Wildstorm universes by bringing in obscure or neglected characters, like Extrano, and making them instantly compelling or frightening in the case of Henry Bendix. Watching Midnighter skillfully take down opponents from the Suicide Squad to subway pirates or demons is an adrenaline rush, and Orlando tempers these action scenes with plenty of romance and personal moments. Midnighter and Midnighter and Apollo aren’t just the best superhero comics of 2016, but the best ones period. Come for the one-liners and shattered limbs and stay for the self-sacrificing love.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 4/2/16

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.


Alex

elasticator 1.jpgElasticator #1 (Scout Comics) I was pleasantly surprised by this comic, which may sound good, but I didn’t expect much, honestly. That being said what is here has me interested enough to come back for the next issue; issue #1 takes the shape of an interrogation of Elasticator that enables the telling of an origin story combined with some exposition without either feeling forced. A good start to a new series. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Judge Dredd #4 (IDW) Despite really enjoying this series, I don’t have much to say about it other than if you’re a fan of Judge Dredd go read it! Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Godzilla: Oblivion #1 (IDW) Nothing stunningly original here, but if you’re a fan of giant monsters then this brilliantly illustrated comic should be right up your alley. I’m typically not a fan of big monsters, but I still enjoyed it. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

 

Ryan C

Black Science #21 (Image)**: Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera wrap up their five-part “Godhead” storyline with a more “dialed-down” conclusion than we’re used to seeing from this title in terms of its scale, but its impact? As jarring as ever, and then some. Apparently some major upheavals are coming our way in the next arc, but shit — major upheavals have been this series’ stock in trade from day one. 50 miles of bad road in every issue, at minimum. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy.

Suiciders+Kings+of+HELL 1Suiciders: Kings Of HelL.A. #1 (DC/Vertigo)**: I found the first arc of Lee Bermejo’s “Suiciders” to be a lot more enjoyable than I expected it to be. Clearly he’s seen flicks like Joe D’Amato’s “Endgame” and “2020 Texas Gladiators” more than once, but what the heck? Dystopian-future bloodsports worked like a charm at the Italian box office in the early 1980’s, and if I’m not mistaken that’s where (and when) Bermejo grew up.New artist Alessandro Vitti brings something of a sketchier, more loose-flowing style to this second series, and while it’s nice enough in its own right, it feels like a step back from what we’re used to — as does the story, as we move from the arena to the streets for a so-far -pretty -standard post-apocalyptic street gang story. Whaddya know, I guess our guy Lee has seen “1990 : The Bronx Warriors” and “The New Barbarians,” as well. I guess I can give it one more issue, but it’ll need to show me a lot more than this one did to keep me around after that. Overall: 5. Recommendation: Read —for now, I guess.

Postal #11 (Top Cow/Image)**: Keeping up the darker and more character-focused storytelling that’s been in evidence since Bryan Hill took over as solo writer on this title a few months back, the fucked-up tension in this issue is nearly off the charts as postman Mark finds himself sucked ever deeper into the web of a new “friend” who’s anything but. He knows it, and it’s not even that he can’t help himself — it’s more like, if he does decide to do the smart thing and get away from his femme fatale, everyone he knows, loves, and cares about will be dead. It seems someone hasn’t read “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” Isaac Goodhart’s art continues to look like the very best of 1980s indie comics, which means that I love it. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.

The Omega Men #10 (DC)**: The final shape of Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda’s intricate cosmic puzzle begins to take shape, and could it really be so simple as — Kyle Rayner and his new allies/”friends” being played for suckers by an irresistible alien woman? Wheel out William Shatner if you wanna go any further down that well-worn road, Mr. King. Still, the art’s great, and there are still two issues left to prove it was always about something more than this. Overal: 6. Recommendation: Buy if you’re following the series, pass if you’re not.

 

Shean

LanternCity-001-A-Main-415d3Lantern City Volume 1 (Archaia): Steampunk is a genre that has berthed several alternate versions of our favorite properties including Battlestar Gallactica and Green Hornet and have created interesting heroes of their own, such as Lady Mechanika.Another original property is Lantern City , which already had a huge following online, and from this first volume , one can definitely see why so many readers are entranced by this premise. Within the steampunk world of Lantern City, we are introduced to Sander Jorve, who lives in the depressing lower section , where only the underprivileged dwell, as his brother in law, Kendal , convinces him to infiltrate the police force better known as the Guard. By the end of the first volume, the stakes have never been higher, as the issue of class has never been examined better in dystopian fiction than in Lantern City. Art: 9 Story: 9 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 (**).

Review: Danger Girl Renegade #1

dgr001Danger Girl is to most a misunderstood comic book franchise.  Many judge the book by its cover and dispel it before reading a single panel and give it the same criticism that many other female led comics get -it is labeled as silly or exploitative and never really given a chance.  It is true that it is silly, but it is designed as a parody of the spy franchise and any parody has to contain some level of humor.  What is not understood is the exploitation, which is evidently there but not to the degree that most assume.  The female characters are sometimes treated as caricatures of female characters in espionage films, but the male characters are actually far more over-the-top.  Johnny Barracuda could be easily considered to be more offensive to male readers than Sydney or Abbey could be to female ones.  Furthermore, while the Danger Girls are drawn in revealing clothing, it should also be noted that their costumes are actually far less revealing than most comic book superheroines.  The entire franchise could then be said to be one which is somewhat misunderstood and underappreciated.

Because of that the series has never really caught on, although it does have its fans.  There have been a few ongoing plot elements that have never really been explored, but chief among those is Abbey’s background.  As is evident in this first issue, it is not as though Abbey is an amnesiac and cannot remember anything from her younger years, rather it is just that she does not understand what the events of those early years signify.  There have been other developments that have been hinted at in previous series, but there have never really been any answers.

There are no real answers here either, but they are ready to be explored, or so it would seem.  The setup to revealing Abbey’s past is handled well here as there are no immediate revelations, but rather true to the life of a spy, her secrets have secrets, and the introduction to her past in this issue is thus handled well, giving a glimpse, albeit a short one, into her past and how she is tied to the others.  The only drawback one could identify from this series is that the other members of the Danger Girl team are missing, though that doesn’t seem to be something that will continue through the series.  At the moment this is a fun introduction to a question that fans of the series have always had and it will be interesting to see what the creators have in store for the remainder of the series.

Story: Andy Hartnell Art: Stephen Molnar
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

IDW provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

Review: Jem and the Holograms #6

jem006Jem and the Holograms has been one of the nicer surprises in comics in the past year.  As an update of the 1980s animated television series, there was some expectation that it would meet certain standards in terms of entertainment, but there was not really much of a sense as to how the television would merge with the comics to create something sustainable.  While Kelly Thompson is somewhat of a newcomer to the medium of comics as a writer, she proved that a basic approach could and does work with these characters, by focusing on the characters before the outlandish plots, she proved that the series can work with a different outlook in a different medium.  The artwork by Sophie Campbell captured the same overall approach as the characters despite being over-the-top in appearance are full of a contagious energy.

The previous issue featured fall out from the sabotaged stage equipment and resulted in a huge food fight.  With the instigators of the food fight brought before the concert organizers, Jerrica and her colleagues soon find themselves on the wrong side of the blame and are promptly kicked out of the concert.  Jerrica also has to deal with the ongoing concern of Rio as to the absence of Jem at crucial times, feeling that she has forsaken the band at a crucial moment when they needed her help, and this continues to be a fresh take on the usual superhero secret identity cliche in the medium.

There might be those that think that the approach for the new series is somewhat simplistic.  After all after the first six issues, there has not been a lot of development in terms of plot as the character’s have played out the battle of the bands story.  It is true that the story could be considered a bit bare, but stories have to succeed on either their characters or their concept, and while the concept is played out slowly here, the characters are so full of life, thanks to both the art and the script, that it more than compensates for the slow-ish development of the plot.

Story: Kelly Thompson  Art: Sophie Campbell
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.4  Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

IDW provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

 

Review: Jem and the Holograms #5

Jem and the Holograms 005Jem and the Holograms has thus far been one of the unexpected surprises of recent comic releases.  It focuses on concepts closely related enough to the romance genre of comics, but also incorporates a plot element with Jem/Jerrica which is close enough in spirit to that of the more traditional superhero comics.  Although the plots available to the tales of an all-girl band might seem to be somewhat restrictive, the creative team has been effective at creating a series which is engaging and fresh, and has proven that there is a demand for such titles on the comic market.

The story here follows on that of the previous issue.  With the battle of the bands still looming, the competition is heating up between the two competitors, to the point that sabotage was in the works for Jem.  Obviously the series can’t do without its leading character, but surprisingly the repercussions of this attempt to take Jem out of the competition are not as evident as they might be expected to be.  Instead once again the issue focuses on the developing relationship between Kimber and Stormer and between Jem and Rio before things get back to being pretty serious.

Some might see it as a huge challenge to create fictional material which is designed to be approachable to all ages.  Part of the problem is that the stories have to be relevant enough for the adult market but also fun enough for a younger audience.  Such is the challenge facing Jem and the Holograms, and while at times it veers off into a territory which is perhaps a bit too sedate, it gets back those moments by throwing in the unexpected.  Such is the case here, as the suggested food fight from the cover gets underway towards the end of the issue, although the issue itself was a bit slower paced than previous issues.  Nonetheless the series maintains the same level of approachable fun which has let it makes its mark thus far, and presumably which will keep it going for a long time to come.

Story: Kelly Thompson  Art: Sophie Campbell
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5  Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

IDW provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

« Older Entries