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Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 8/18

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.



Extermination #1Extermination #1 (Marvel)– The grim dark is strong with Extermination #1 where a time traveling figure is gunning for the time displaced, original 5 X-Men. Like its sort-of companion book Death of Inhumans, Ed Brisson and Pepe Larraz have turned in a brutal board clearer to set up future X-books. Larraz and colorist Marte Gracia nails the tone of danger and destruction with their shadow filled artwork and action scenes done in tight close-up instead of stylized team up battles. However, there’s no real depth beyond continuity porn and the young X-Men being in peril beginning with a highly telegraphed character killing. The final twist is a little jazzier though and definitely fits a certain character’s M.O. It’s all very Looper. Overall: 7.2 Verdict: Read

Crowded #1 (Image)– In the future, everything can be crowdfunded, including death. Crowded #1 tells the tale of Charlie, a bubbly, side hustle happy, and slightly obnoxious woman who has an enormous Reapr bounty on her head. Luckily, she has the help of stoic Dfender Vita, who has a low rating on the app and hasn’t killed many people, but has protected all her clients. Christopher Sebela uses conversations to craft this not-so-different from our own world and create the two leads’ personality while leaving plenty of room open for mystery. Artists Ro Stein and Ted Brandt are masters of expressions and body language from Vita’s controlled movements and the austere layouts of her safehouse to Charlie flailing all over the place. They occasionally play with layouts to make the story more exciting like a mid-first issue car chase. Crowded #1 has it all: social satire, inviting art and splashy colors, two well-developed protagonists, and a thriller plot. It has the potential to be one of my new favorite Image series. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Pearl #1 (DC/Jinxworld)– Brian Michael Bendis’ first creator owned work for DC is all style and no substance. There’s lots of banter about tattoos, yakuza gangs, and the main character’s attractiveness, but at the end of the comic, I don’t really know much about her except she’s a good tattoo artists and has a nice apartment. Michael Gaydos’ art still has a refined elegance to it, and his colors hit some intense notes during a shoot out sequence. Still, this issue is a snooze and is definitely dwarfed by the reprint of the clever “Citizen Wayne” story by Bendis and Gaydos. Overall: 5 Verdict: Pass

Batgirl #25 (DC)– Mairghread Scott instantly makes a strong impression as the new Batgirl writer and finds a balance between Gail Simone’s darkness and the cheeriness of the Burnside era. Her first story is all about the emotions as she secretly attends the funeral of a man she saved and was later gunned down by the Joker, and it shows that there can still be hope in the darkness of Gotham. The second story, which is aptly drawn by Paul Pelletier (Tom Derenick on the lead story does weird anatomy stuff.) sets up Scott’s ongoing series plot and shows that Batgirl takes time to think about the humanity of a serial killer’s victims even as she tracks him down. But the real crown jewel of this issue is Marguerite Bennett and Dan Panosian’s Dick and Babs story, which made me an emotional compromise and makes a strong argument for them as a couple. It’s also nice to see characters in-universe processing the events of Batman #50. Also, there’s another backup where Paul Dini and Emanuela Lupaccino have Batgirl fight a copyright friendly Playboy bunny armed with Mad Hatter tech. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Read

Ryan C

BM_Cv53Batman #53 (DC)** – Tom King and Lee Weeks wrap up their little three-part “Bruce Wayne On Jury Duty” story with another well-illustrated (as you’d expect) installment that nevertheless fails to entirely satisfy. Mr. Freeze beats the rap on him, but the villain could just as well have been anyone, while Batman has a mid-life crisis that ends with him returning to his original costume, which seems to be the plot contrivance this whole thing was designed to facilitate. Readable enough, but nothing special by any means. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Batman #53 (DC)** – Tom King and Lee Weeks wrap up their little three-part “Bruce Wayne On Jury Duty” story with another well-illustrated (as you’d expect) installment that nevertheless fails to entirely satisfy. Mr. Freeze beats the rap on him, but the villain could just as well have been anyone, while Batman has a mid-life crisis that ends with him returning to his original costume, which seems to be the plot contrivance this whole thing was designed to facilitate. Readable enough, but nothing special by any means. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

 The Grave Diggers Union #9 (Image)** – The final issue of Wes Craig and Toby Cypress’ supernatuaral horror/comedy wraps up every major and minor plot thread, is loaded with smartly-executed action, and even manages a wry laugh or two. This was a good series, and I’m sorry to see it wrap up so soon. Cypress’ art was the star of the show, of course, and he pulls out all the stops with this one, including an acid-trip/vaguely Lovecraftian double-page spread that will blow your mind and is worth the price of admission alone. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Crude #5 (Image/Skybound) – I’ve really been digging what Steve Orlando and Garry Brown are laying down with their Russian crime thriller, and this penultimate issue delivers a real body-blow of a plot twist that shows both “sides” in the struggle at the heart of the series are being played for suckers and milked for profits. You’ll feel the floor give out under your feet as you read this one, trust me, and Brown’s gritty, back-alley artwork is pitch-perfect for the script. 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 (**).

Unnatural #2 Gets a Second Printing

Image Comics has announced that the second issue in Mirka Andolfo’s romance/thriller Unnatural is being fast-tracked for a second printing in order to keep up with customer demand.

While Leslie’s life begins to unravel after the fateful birthday message from the Reproduction Office, Trish sets off to find out what’s causing Leslie’s unnatural (yet attractive) recurring dream.

Unnatural #2, 2nd printing (Diamond code: JUL188379) will be available on Wednesday, September 12th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, August 20th.

The Weatherman #4 Gets a Cover by Bengal

Image Comics is pleased to unveil a stunning, limited The Weatherman #4 cover featuring eye-catching artwork by Bengal.

In The Weatherman #4, every human left alive wants a piece of Nathan Bright—but there’s only so much of him to go around. Enter the Pearl, a crime lord in the business of making revenge as sweet as possible… and death last forever.

The Weatherman #4 hits stores on Wednesday, September 12th. The final order cutoff for comics retailers is Monday, August 20th.

  • The Weatherman #4 Cover A by Fox – JUL180393
  • The Weatherman #4 Cover B by Martin – JUL180394
  • The Weatherman #4 Cover C by Bengal (Limited) – JUL188356

John Layman and Afu Chan Show Space is Terrifying in Outer Darkness

Eisner Award-winning writer John Layman and artist Afu Chan team up for Outer Darkness, an all-new sci-fi/horror series coming this November from Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment.

In Outer Darkness, humankind has successfully colonized the galaxy. But during our interstellar travels, we discovered a terrifying secret out in the vast reaches of space…

Enter Captain Joshua Rigg and the crew of the starship Charon, who will encounter demonic possessions, hauntings, and cosmic horror as they embark on a desperate rescue mission into the Outer Darkness of space—where everything wants to kill them.

Outer Darkness #1 will hit stores on Wednesday, November 7th.

The Warning Injects Poignancy into High-Concept Military Sci-Fi Action

Writer/artist Edward Laroche will launch an all-new military science fiction series, The Warning, this November from Image Comics.

An enormous machine is slowly materializing in a major metropolitan city on the West Coast. No one knows who sent it, or why—except, perhaps, for the malevolent beings gliding silently through the inky vastness of space toward Earth.

In response, a joint multinational combat brigade called Gladiator Two-Six is deployed. Outfitted with next-generation military science and weapons, they’re tasked with stopping any extraterrestrial threat that emerges.

The Warning #1 will hit stores on Wednesday, November 28th.

The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils in Suits this November

This November, Image Comics will release The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils in Suits: a gloriously oversized one-shot from new Brazilian sensation Arabson, with translation by Eisner Award winner James Robinson.

Elisabeth Dumn is a strong, rebellious girl who’s determined to make her own way. And it’s a good thing, too, because her father promised her to the Devil long ago, and he’s coming to claim what’s his.

The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils in Suits hits stores on Wednesday, November 14th.

Jason Howard Honors Artistic Influences in Cemetery Beach Impact Variants

Image Comics has revealed the first cover in a line of “Impact variants” for Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Cemetery Beach. Each cover will be by Howard, but drawn in the style of an artist who made an impact on his work and influenced his creative career. Cemetery Beach #1 Cover C will kick off the line by paying tribute to the iconic Todd McFarlane.

CEMETERY BEACH #1 will hit stores on Wednesday, September 12th. The final order cutoff for comics retailers is Monday, August 20th.

  • Cemetery Beach #1 Cover A by Howard (Diamond Code JUL180123)
  • Cemetery Beach #1 Cover B virgin cover (Diamond Code JUN188807)
  • Cemetery Beach #1 Cover C “Impact” variant by Howard (Diamond Code JUL188199)

Review: Crowded #1

Ten minutes in the future, the world runs on an economy of job shares and apps, including Reapr: a crowdfunding platform to fund assassinations. Charlie Ellison leads a quiet, normal life until she’s suddenly targeted by a million-dollar Reapr campaign. Hunted by all of Los Angeles, Charlie hires Vita, the lowest-rated bodyguard on the Dfend app. As the campaign picks up speed, they’ll have to figure out who wants Charlie dead before the campaign’s 30 days-or their lives-are over.

Fun with a pop sense of style, that’s my general thought about Crowded #1 that feels like a spoof of both the action genre and the Uber-economy. Taking place in the future, Charlie is forced to have numerous jobs scraping together a living through a few hustles. She babysits, drives a car, rents her card, walks dogs, all through apps that enable her to hop from one thing to another. It’s the on-demand economy that’s front and center in the story written by Christopher Sebela.

Crowded feels like a brilliant commentary about today’s society and with Charlie being targeted for assassination, it also feels like it’s a statement how the Uber-economy needs to die. Sebela and team feel like they’ve put together a story that’s a subtle jab at the subject reminding me of classics like Robocop and Starship Troopers with satire and commentary throughout that needs, and deserves to be, explored. There’s of course something by issue’s end that may shake up that initial take but that seems like it’ll be part of the fun of this series.

Ro Stein provides the art along with color by Triona Farrell, ink by Ted Brandt, and lettering from Cardinal Rae. The style is one that has an Aeon Flux sense about it all mixed with bright colors that creates a pop feel to what is a gritty action story. It’s John Wick with lots of yellows and pinks, full of action and awesome to look at.

The first issue is a winner delivering humor and a flow visually and through the narrative that sucks in the reader and makes you want more. There’s a pacing that takes you through it all and gets you to the other end waiting for more action and wanting more humor as we explore this world and characters. And, with the shiny action outside, there’s an interior depth that begs to explored and debated.

Story: Christopher Sebela Art: Ro Stein
Color: Triona Farrel Ink: Ted Brandt Lettering: Cardinal Rae
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for reviews

Review: The Wicked + The Divine #38

As The Wicked + the Divine #38 begins,the cast of characters that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson has dwindled down, and they’re mostly bad eggs. And the good ones are irreparably damaged either physically or in spirit. Like every issue of this arc, WicDiv #38 begins with a flashback to the 1940s and 1950s where British poet and classicist Robert Graves is inspired by Ananke to write his seminal work The White Goddess about how goddess worship leads to inspiration, poetry, and is the “mother of all invention”. It’s very in much in keeping with the spirit of WicDiv as Gillen and McKelvie uncover more of the inner workings of the Pantheon, Ananke, Minerva, and the world of their story. With its juxtaposition of storytelling mechanics and intense character psyche burrowing, WicDiv  #38 is a pretty strong middle issue, and the the varied color schemes by Wilson are a nice treat.

In WicDiv #38, Minerva has blossomed into a fantastic villain maneuvering plots and manipulations in a manner that would make Ananke crack a smile from beyond the grave. Despite everything going to hell in a hand basket, Woden thinks he’s still in control because he has the Norns in the jail and thinks that he can do whatever he wants. For example, he makes a video of out of context moments of WicDiv painting Urdr as a dangerous rabble rouser just like her old name’s mythological equivalent, Cassandra. But this is definitely not the case as Woden sees the graffiti heavy and disfigured heads of the Pantheon members and freaks out while McKelvie draws Minerva in another panel with a shit eating grin as she knows exactly what is going on. She hides her plans for the endgame behind surprised expressions, childlike wonder, and two face dialogue that Woden won’t get even while he repeats his new favorite word, “subtext”.

Until a foreboding final line of dialogue on the last panel, Persephone and Baphomet’s scenes in the Underground might not seem as connected to the big ur-story of goddess vs. goddess, inspiration, and ritual sacrifice even if Persephone is the Destroyer and locked in eternal combat with Ananke. However, the quiet moments the once and future likable/not likable fans-turned-deities are the most human of WicDiv #38. Baphomet has really been the emotional carotid artery of this story arc and following Morrigan’s sacrificing herself for him after killing, there is definitely arterial spray. Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson finally get to descend into the deepest darkness with a blacker than black color palette and the tragic combined logo of a crow and pentagram and the even more tragic panel of Morrigan, Gentle Annie, and Badb lifelessly levitating in their temple. Although he was resurrected, Baphomet is crippled by grief and wants to stay in the shadows and not play an active role in the plot any more.

This listlessness extends to Persephone, who is pregnant and can’t really get anyone to empathize with her. Kieron Gillen goes full navel gazing, and McKelvie brings in a six panel grid to contain her thoughts and walk back to her and Sakhmet’s old crash pad. The real emotions comes when she picks up her old cracked and cellphone and thinks about how ridiculous Laura Wilson’s dream of godhood was. Her wish isn’t for righting wrongs or redemption, but just oblivion. This whole becoming a god thing wasn’t worth it, and perhaps walking down a dark, never ending tunnel that corresponds with McKelvie and Wilson’s all black panels is her retirement from divinity. Certainly, a panel on the final page echoes that idea, but Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson keep Persephone’s fate ambiguous: a sad, juicy hook for the arc finale.

WicDiv #38, and the whole “Mothering Invention” arc by extension, has been an exercise in looking at the biggest picture possible of Pantheons, past and present, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson. They show how the world works, establish innocents as villains, kill or incapacitate various darlings, and blur the lines between inspirational power and ritual sacrifice. There are lots of flashbacks, sure, but WicDiv #38’s sequences are more straightforward and connected to immediate plot and bigger themes of the series with some room for visual play with Wilson using a faded, almost monochromatic style for the Graves scenes that is like an old photograph.

And, most of all, Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson don’t forget the characters we’ve cheered for, sneered at, and connected to a little too deeply even though it seems that everyone has lost their way. Minerva is great baddie, and in a weird fan crossover universe, is beating Young Avengers Kid Loki at his game over and over again like the eternal battle Persephone and Ananke were locked in.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jamie McKelvie Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.2  Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

First Impressions Featuring: Fantastic Four, Oblivion Song, Red Hood, and More!

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s First Impressions where we take a look at a handful of comics in order to discern just how accessible they are for new readers, because every comic could be somebody’s first – and that’s the first question that’ll be answered with this feature. The second is whether youshould  start there because sometimes a book could be accessible to new readers but the quality could be less than average, and so each comic will receive a score out of ten based upon Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale.

Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far. All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


Fantastic Four #1  (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yup.
Recap & review: There’s a lot of history surrounding the Fantastic Four, and there’s a lot that has been said about why they haven’t been around the past few years, but right now none of that matter (aside from the history, maybe) because the Fantastic Four finally have their own series again. If you’re wondering what’s been going on, there’s a quick recap that covers all you need before diving into the comic proper – and this is a fantastic comic. It’s almst enough to make me want to read all the old stories! Almost (and that’s only because I don’t own them…. but there must be some on Marvel Unlimited, right?)
Rating: 8.9

Oblivion Song #6 (Image)
Can a new reader start here?
Recap & review: 
Nate Cole has been searching for his lost brother for ten years, saving survivors as he comes across them. Last issue he finally found him with the mysterious alternate dimension that swallowed a chunk of Philadelphia, but does his brother want to be rescued? Meanwhile, in our world, Nathan’s activities have drawn the attention of those who want him to stop… I read the last three issues of this series in one sitting, and I can’t get enough of it.
Rating: 8.7

Red Hood and the Outlaws #25 (DC)
Can a new reader start here? Uh….
Recap & review: 
One of DC’s better series for a long time, I inexplicably missed a few issues – one or two of whch would have been key to understanding this a little more than I did. That being said, what wa lost in the plot was more than made up for in the action and choreography – a book that would benefit from prior knowledge, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Rating: 7.1

Hey Kids! Comics! #1 (Image)
Can a new reader start here? |Technically, yes.
Recap & review: As a first issue, there’s no recap needed. As a history, or fictionalized retelling of history, it helps if you’re already intimately familiar with the gentlemen portrayed in this book – of course the names have been changed, which doesn’t help those without an already deep understanding, leading to the first real problem with the book. The next is that despite being hugely interested in comic book history, I struggled to get through this. It felt flat, overly wordy, and remarkably boring.
Rating: 5

Amazing Spider-Man #3 (Marvel)
Can a new reader start here? Yeah, pretty much.
Recap & review: Perhaps one of the most surprising things about Nick Spencer’s run is that each issue feels fresh and accessible to all readers; recap or no, you can enjoy this. And if you want to look for the other two issues, feel free, but they’re not require to enjoy this comic.
Rating: 8

Bloodshot Salvation #12 (DC)
Can a new reader start here? Nope
Recap & review: I’m not entirely sure why I included the finale of Jeff Lemire’s run on this book because there’s a lot to recap, and it’ not really worth doing so for the entire run just so you can red the book. The run is great, and doesn’t deserve a nutshell retelling just for this comic.
Rating: 7.8


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