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.
Batman Who Laughs #1 (DC) I have been looking forward to this one since the middle of Metal. One of the only salvageable parts of that crossover (besides Baby Darkseid) was The Batman who Laughs. This version of Batman is one who finally murders the Joker but unleashes a toxin that the Joker had internally as a fail safe, thus creating a Batman with a Bruce Wayne that is devoid of conscience and seeks only to live by one rule: Batman always wins. He becomes an amoral ruthless killing machine and is the rival of any opponent. He was defeated in Metal when the Joker and Batman teamed up, but now he’s back and saner than ever. The issue opens with our Batman on a highway chasing down smugglers and procuring a coffin that was loaded in the cargo. The weird point is that the cargo and the body of the deceased is that of.. Bruce Wayne? We then have Alfred and our Bruce try to solve the mystery of who is this doppelganger and they come to some startling results. Meanwhile the Batman who laughs lays siege to Arkham and brings along another Batman with him. This is one that is armed to the teeth and quickly ends the guards. However we don’t know who he is. Is he another Bruce Wayne? This issue reunites the super team of Scott Snyder and Jock. One of my favorite comics combos. Both brought their A game here. This issue started with a mystery and leaves us with questions abound. Not to mention we get s killer cliffhanger. You don’t need to be told twice. Get this book. Overall: Great return to form for Snyder and very intriguing story here, I cannot wair for this one to unfold. Score: 9.5 Reccomendation: Buy Buy Buy
Goddess Mode #1 (DC/Vertigo)** – Not a bad debut from Zoe Quinn and Robbi Rodriguez, but not an especially stellar one, either. The premise is reasonably intriguing, but Quinn’s tendency toward over-exposition can get downright embarrassing, and she lays it on thick with the overly-obvious analogies of her sci-fi future world to our present-day reality. Rodrigez’ art is stellar, though, and more than enough on its own to convince me to give this at least one more issue. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read
The Quantum Age #5 (Dark Horse)** – Another crackerjack installment from Jeff Lemire and Wilfredo Torres that ratchets things up toward what promises to be a climactic final chapter that ties directly into current events in the main “Black Hammer” title. Torres’ art remains pitch-perfect for this material, and all in all this may just be the most consequential of the various spin-off series set in this “universe” yet. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise #1 (Dark Horse)** – Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox deliver a splendid and heartfelt little one-off here focusing on a very minor character who nevertheless proves she is more than capable of carrying a story on her young shoulders. Gloriously illustrated and sublimely written, this is just great stuff, plain and simple. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Hey Kids! Comics! #5 (Image) – Howard Chaykin, as it turns out, had one more masterpiece in him after all, as the conclusion to this historical take-down of the comics industry for its sleazy ethical and business practices wraps things up in grand style and even with a little bit of guarded, but still starry-eyed, optimism. The final page promises more to come and I, for one, will be anticipating that eagerly. The best thing Chaykin’s done, no kidding, since “American Flagg!” Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Goddess Mode #1 (Vertigo)– In a world that has several similarities to our own, including wealth inequality, targeted ads, and shitty healthcare, Cassandra Price is a skilled coder/hacker, who has great talent, but doesn’t like kissing asses so she’s a low level “code janitor” for the Hermeticorp corporation. But then she discovers the world of Azoth aka the algorithm that runs our world, and there are witches, monsters, and a glittering color palette from Rico Renzi. Zoe Quinn does fall into the first time comics writer trap a few times using blocks of texts instead of Robbi Rodriguez’s dark pop visuals to establish her world and Goddess Mode’s premise, but she makes Cass a likable and relatable protagonist, kind of Dane McGowan from the Invisibles for 2018 with quirks like getting her ad bot to play old ska and cat videos and not targeted programming. And underneath the gaudy art and tech-speak, Goddess Mode is a story about a smart young person with a shitty job joining a potential revolution, which is honestly content I need currently. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise #1 (Dark Horse)- As shown by her work on Plutona, Emi Lenox is an artist that excels at showing the ugly and cruel side of kids and teenagers. And that is fully on display in the Cthu-Louise one-shot that she does with writer Jeff Lemire. Cthu-Louise is the daughter of Cthu-Lou, a former supervillain with powers from the Old Ones that now smokes, drinks, and abuses his daughter all day. Cthu-Louise is bullied in a school that basically teaches superhero propaganda all day in a clever bit of writing from Lemire to make this one-shot seem like part of a bigger story. He and Lenox craft an eldritch fable with wishes, prices to pay, and some maddening greens with Cthu-Louise comes into contact with the Old Ones. Also, supervillain daughters aren’t their dads and have feelings too. Overall: 8 Verdict: Read
Fantastic Four Wedding Special #1 (Marvel)– The FF Wedding Special has one cute story, one unfortunately patriarchal one, and then goes back to cute again. The lead story is Gail Simone and Laura Braga’s tale of Alicia Masters’ bachelorette party complete with She-Hulk and Medusa getting wasted and “making it rain” on strippers dressed like male superheroes and fighting the Mole Man’s obsessed stalker. Braga finds the right medium between humor and action, and this story has a lot of heart too and finds true love towards the end. Plus Mole Man feels. Dan Slott and Mark Buckingham handle the second story which is about the Thing asking for Puppet Master’s blessing to marry Alicia. Pass. And it wraps up in a madcap telling of Alicia Masters’ history through the POV of her manipulative father Mole Man with art by the legendary Fred Hembeck, who pulls off both visual gags and crazy Marvel continuity ones. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read
Star Wars Age of Republic: Darth Maul #1 (Marvel)-In what plays out as a cruel ploy on a force sensitive smuggler, we get a tale where Darth Maul uses his cunning to take out a Jedi outsider. As he goes under cover of night to get close to him. As he uses this task as a way of learning more about Jedi. By issue’s end, he begrudgingly kills the potential Jedi, only to understand why anger is a tool not his master. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Silver Surfer: Best Defense #1 (Marvel)– In this particular issue, we find Silver Surfer playing out what looks to be The Good, The Bad and the Ugly interspersed with the ongoing drama between him and Galactus gives fan a little lull before the very first Defenders issue, as this one I was really hoping for more of a punch but fans only get a fizzle and alot of Surfer feeling sorry for himself. Overall: 6.7 Recommendation: Borrow
Doctor Strange: Best Defense #1 (Marvel)– In what is probably the best story I have read of Doctor Strange in a while, we get Old Man Strange. As he is the last Defender alive as Dormammu has won the war on humankind. We find out how it got this bad and what Strange lost before it got here. By issue’s end, everything is not as glum as it seems, as Strange has a secret weapon and takes the fight back to his arch nemesis with the help of an old friend. Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy
Typhoid Fever Iron Fist #1 (Marvel)– In what feels like a horror movie, Typhoid Mary who goes by Typhoid now, has taken over New York City. As she has every superhero including the X-men tearing each other apart. The only one to withstand her peers long-term is Iron Fist, who defends himself against everyone she sends his wayz By issue’s end, one mistake costs her residual powers become dampened and in turn, she goes mad. Overall: 9.1 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 (**).