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Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/22

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.


Logan

Glow #2 (IDW)– I wish to bestow this book with the highest compliment you can give a licensed comic: I wish it was a plotline on the Glow TV show. Tini Howard and Hannah Templer pit the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling against La Prima, who are wrestlers being wrestlers, not actors being wrestlers. This issue is full of attempts at bonding with their opponents as Ruth wants to prove that they’re legit. The best character beat is Carmen sharing a sweet moment and some power bomb lessons with Desdemona, who is from a family of luchadors and is someone she can relate to. As far as visuals, Templer hits that sweet spot between capturing characters likenesses and being expressive for dramatic or (mostly) comedy purposes. Howard has a fantastic handle on all these women’s voices, and this comic is the perfect thing to tide fans over who are waiting for Glow Season 3 as well as a swan song to their Southern California days. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Superman Year One #1 (DC/Black Label)– Woo, the discourse has been spicy about Superman Year One, but Frank Miller’s poetic inner monologue nails Clark’s adolescent discomfort with his abilities and status as an alien on Earth. I got a press copy of the comic, but actually want to pony up the dough to get a physical copy because I want to see how John Romita Jr’s wide open panels and muscular poses look in the prestige format.Also, Clark joining the navy is a smart bit of revisionism because to many young people in rural areas, the military seems to be the best way to escape their small towns and see the world. I might be reading too much into it, but it’s clever foreshadowing at Superman’s future role as a weapon of war/Reagan stooge in Dark Knight Returns. (I would love to see Miller/Romita’s take on Superman and Batman’s 1st meeting.) Rating: 9.0 Overall Verdict: Buy

Excellence #2 (Image)– Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph craft an intoxicating world of magic, consequences, legacy, and daddy issues in Excellence #2. The protagonist, Spencer, has just come into his own as a magic user and earned a rare hug from his dad when his grandmother becomes ill, and there’s nothing he can do. Or is there. Excellence is a comic about breaking boundaries and hierarchies, and the connection between magic and emotion. It perfectly fits Randolph’s high energy art style and Emilio Lopez’s crescendo of colors. I really felt for Spencer throughout this comic as his main fear isn’t losing his powers, but his father’s disapproval. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Elana

Glow #2 (IDW) Can’t wait for more of the humor, warmth, wild 80s wrestling aesthetics and believable women’s community of the Netflix show GLOW? This comic is absolutely for us! Writer Tini Howard perfectly channels the voice of each character in the show. It’s truly uncanny. Is she in the writers room? Can she be? Artist Hannah Templer has a lively style and her take on the costumes and clothes is exuberant, fun and 80s as hell. This month’s issue focuses on Carmen and gives her a chance to succeed in a space where the other women are fumbling. It’s gratifying and fun.
Recommendation: Must read! 

Ryan C

Superman: Year One #1 (DC)** – As bad as you’ve heard. Maybe even worse. Is it okay to hope this version of Clark Kent gets killed in combat when he joins the navy? Also, “Year One”? Huh? This issue alone covers like 18 years of his life. I’m done talking about — hell, even thinking about — this thing. Overall: 0 Recommendation: Pass. I purchased my copy. That was a stupid idea.

American Carnage #8 (DC/Vertigo)** – This series has been great, and with just one issue left, Bryan Hill and Leandro Fernandez are setting the stage for a barn-burner of a conclusion. If you’ve been passing on this in singles, get the trade — and if Vertigo’s going out, as rumored, at least it’s going out with a bang. Not that anyone’s really paying attention. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Clue: Candlestick #3 (IDW)** – Dash Shaw is doing more just-plain clever and inventive stuff with this modest three-parter than mainstream comics have seen in forever. Superb cartooning that I dearly hope gets more folks to pay attention to his small-press work. This guy is the real deal. Overall: 10. Recommendation: Buy

Batman #73 (DC)** – Mikel Janin delivers some astonishing art here, particularly with a double-page spread that’ll knock your socks off. Tom King mails in a lazy script that wastes a rather intriguing “Batman and his dad in the desert” premise. You know the drill by now. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Look at it, then put it back on the comic store shelf.


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 5/25

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.


Ryan C

Assassin Nation #3 (Image/Skybound) **– Probably the most “action-centric” issue yet in a series that’s been NOTHING BUT action, but who’s complaining? Kyle Starks and Erica Henderson are consistently delivering crisp, sharp, expertly-paced fun laden with plenty of “gallows humor,” just as advertised. If your favorite character isn’t dead yet — odds are they soon will be! Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Redneck #20 (Image/Skybound) – I’m really digging what Donny Cates and Lisandro Estherren are doing with this latest arc, as the forced move to Mexico is opening up a lot of intriguing story possibilities. The villain we THINK to be the worst of the bunch turns out to be a front man for somebody who’s probably even nastier, while a figure from the past whose evil we’re damn well familiar with begins to move in from the periphery, looking to finish the job that he thought he already had. This is gripping stuff, supremely well-illustrated — and I say that as someone who usually could give two fucks about vampires. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Freedom Fighters #6 (DC) **– So, the man of the hour, Uncle Sam, is  back — and useless.And if that’s still not stupid enough for you, relax : Robert Venditti works in a ham-handed and groaningly obvious tie-in with Grant Morrison’s “The Multiversity,” as well. Eddy Barrows continues to deliver the goods on art, but this is one of the most lazily-written comics I’ve subjected myself to in a long time. Embarrassingly bad, really, but a train wreck I can’t seem to turn away from. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass

Detective Comics #1004 (DC)** – What could make one of the sorriest story arcs in recent “Bat-history” even worse? How about an issue-long, hopelessly dull and uninvolving “info-dump”? Brad Walker does what he can to add some zip to the proceedings, but even he can’t make Peter J. Tomasi’s atrocity of a script look halfway decent. This is getting beyond pointless. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass

Shean

Star Wars Age of Rebellion Jabba The Hut #1 (Marvel)– In a story that is reminiscent of one of my favorite Coen Brothers films,”Miller’s Crossing”, we find out just how notorious and brilliant the man who imprisoned Han Solo was. As a pair of smugglers which includes Greedo, try to strike a deal with Jabba for Tusken ritual wine, a byproduct which would cause discord amongst the tribes on Tatooine. As these tales often show when malice, avarice and opportunity, the worst of us will still take the bait, as an Imperial officer who owes a gambling debt target Greedo and his partner while they try to ambush a tribe of Tuskens, which doesn’t go well for any of them except the Tuskens. By issue’s end, the Tuskens find out that their wine has been replicated, making them and Jabba, richer than ever. Overall: 9.6 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 4/20

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.


Ryan C

Oliver #3 (Image)** – An action-centric issue from Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson that doesn’t offer much by way of story or character development aside from our protagonist naturally stepping into a “heroic” or “leadership” role, but damn — what a visual storytelling clinic this is! The project’s origins as a screenplay are readily apparent as this is a very cinematic installment, and who knows? Maybe a movie might happen yet. Until then, we’ve got a gorgeous series of storyboards here to “oohh” and “aahh” over, don’t we? Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Black Badge #9 (Boom! Studios)** – A fun issue from Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins that takes us back to late-Cold War East Berlin before segueing back to the present day, the two segments joined by an event that will apparently have big repercussions. Can’t say enough about the art and colors on this series, it really fits the story to a proverbial “T” and makes even “side-step” chapters like this one well worth your time and money. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #69 (DC)** So that’s it for the “Knightmares” storyline, huh? In with a whimper and out with much the same, this is arguably the weakest of a weak bunch, the Bat/Cat stuff coming across as way more flat and emotionless that writer Tom King apparently thinks it is, and Yanick Paquette turning in an uncharacteristically rushed-looking job on the art. Whatever comes next surely can’t be worse than this — can it? Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass

Meet The Skrulls #3 (Marvel)** – Family secrets from the past come to the fore and old wounds are re-opened in Robbie Thompson’s lightning-paced script for this issue, and Nico Henrichon’s art is getting more individualistic and distinctive with each passing month. Could this be the long-awaited successor to “The Vision” in terms of “prestige” Marvel projects? It sure seems like it might be. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

War Of The Realms: Punisher #1 (Marvel) In what plays out like Frank Castle in ” Assault On Precinct 13″, plus monsters is a fun debut issue. As we find Punisher having to defend the city by himself, as the Avengers are otherwise engaged. As the Dark Elves and Frost Giants have invaded the city and Frank has to get creative in order to defend the city and see tomorrow. By issue’s end, he somehow pulls the city together, and gained some allies but the fight is far from over. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Star Wars Age of Rebellion Special (Marvel)– We get three distinct Tales with 3 different creative teams. In the first story,” The Long Game”, we find IG-88, the robotic bounty hunter, as the reader finds out how he possesses bloodlust. In ” The Trial Of Dagobah”, we find Yoda as he is going stir crazy in exile alone until fate gives him a young Jedi to train whose last name just so happens to be Skywalker. In ” Stolen Valor” Biggs Darklighter and Jek Porkins go on vacation and find trouble hidden in paradise. Overall, an entertaining collection of stories which shows when you have superfans create stories like these, their love for the source material certainly shines through. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Star Wars TIE Fighter #1(Marvel)- We meet the pilots of Shadow Wing, the Empire’s elite fighter Squadron and who Vader believes can put down the Rebellion. As we meet each pilot, we find out just how much they’re like the rebels, just fighting for the Dark Side. As they soon hear whispers of some Intel of Rebellion fighters close by. By issue’s end, the Intel proves to be incorrect, it’s worse than they thought. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter #1 (Aftershock)– Adam Glass, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, and Hayden Sherman combine Gothic horror with alternate history and a side of progressive feminism in Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter. The story is told from Mary’s POV as she believes she has a purpose beyond being the mother of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s child. An opportunity arises in a horror story writing contest, but then Gothic fiction becomes her new status quo. Glass and Cuartero-Brigg write a lovely pastiche of Universal Horror and the legends of Byron, the Shelleys, and Claire Clairmont’s journeys while Sherman has a scratchy horror style with strong reds and blacks in the color palette. The character movements and expression could be clearer though. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Spider-Man Life Story #2 (Marvel)– It’s the 1970s where Peter Parker works for Reed Richards’ Future Foundation, his wife Gwen Stacy works for the kinda creepy Miles Warren, and Mary Jane and Harry Osborn (who has a drug problem) are married. Mark Bagley still has his classic weakness of drawing women looking the same, but he and Chip Zdarsky tell a heart rending story of how Peter wallows in guilt because he feels he is responsible for both the death of Uncle Ben and Flash Thompson in Vietnam. He also lets ethical dilemmas get in the way of him being a great scientist and has some interesting conversations with Reed. Also, Zdarsky and Bagley pull off the Clone Saga somehow in this issue, and it makes sense and has high emotional stakes. I also liked the scene where Mary Jane calls out Peter’s bullshit before doing a disco DJ set. Zdarsky, Bagley, inker Drew Hennessy, and colorist Frank D’Armata soak up the drama in Peter Parker’s personal life to create a compelling second issue even if it’s not as visually interesting as #1. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4 (BOOM!)– Jordie Bellaire and Dan Mora have done an excellent job differentiating this new reboot of Buffy from the original TV show, and it continues in issue 4 when Giles tells Buffy and the Scoobies to take a night off from slaying and training. This comic also focuses on Xander a little bit, who is probably the Buffy characters that has aged the least well as a “nice guy”. Bellaire and Mora go deep into his feelings of being left out and why he could potentially go “dark”, and it’s refreshing to him not written as a self-insert character. Another throughline in this episode is the idea of lying to people we care about from Buffy not letting her mom know about her being the Slayer to Willow, who is openly lesbian and kicks ass at magic and combat, not telling her girlfriend Rose. It’s a weakness that could definitely be exploited by this arc’s Big Bad. And yeah, this comic gets so much right from skipping the boring Master and making Spike and Drusilla the main villains to having modernist vampire Spike be adept and texting and yeah, the final page. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: 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 4/13

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.


Ryan C

Wonder Twins #3 (DC/Wonder Comics)** – As ever, Mark Russell keeps it topical and relevant in this examination of the backstory of Gleek the monkey, and Stephen Byrne’s art is competent and functional, if not exactly remarkable. Possibly the weakest issue to date, but still better than 95% of what’s out there. Definitely an enjoyable comic any way you slice it. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #68 (DC) **– Amanda Conner does superb work on this one, as is her custom, but Tom King is back in “pointless run-around territory” in this lame “Knightmares” installment that features Batman imagining a bachelor “party” with Clark Kent that may or may not have been, while Catwoman and Lois Lane have a lot more fun than the guys at the Fortress of Solitude. Nothing special whatsoever, and the running-in-place this purportedly “major” arc is engaging in is really getting annoying at this point. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Detective Comics #1001 (DC) **– The new storyline “teased” in issue #1000 proves to be no more inspiring now that it’s underway than the little into hinted it would be. Dead bats all over Gotham — so what? Which is a fair summation of Peter J. Tomasi’s script in total. Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy’s art is fine, but only that. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass

Invaders #4 (Marvel) **– Talk about a let-down, all the mysterious hints about Namor’s secret past are revealed here and — it ain’t much. To put it kindly. Chip Zdarsky had been crafting some fairly compelling scripts prior to this; let’s hope he gets back on track. The art tandem of Carlos Magno and Butch Guice continue to turn in strong work and each complements the other nicely, but that’s about all I can say in this issue’s favor. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Shean

Age of Conan: Belit #2 (Marvel) In this sequel, Belit comes into her own, taking control of the ship. As she is the only one that possesses the know how to subdue the monster. She leads the crew while drawing dissentions in the ranks. By issue’s end, they reached their destination, but only faces even more atrocities when they arrived. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion: Grand Moff Tarkin#1(Marvel)-In what is a revealing examination of a polarizing character, we find out about Tarkin in a way concise could only convey.As we find about his family life as well as some key scenes that happened in and around the first few movies. As we see his heavy hand as a leader as well as his brutishness when he gets challenged. By issue’s end, the reader finally gets why he was such a formidable and respected leader. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Star Wars Age of Rebellion: Princess Leia#1 (Marvel) I will keep this one sweet and short. As much as I loved all these characters, it was hard to love this story. As this is a solid like only for Karl Story’s art who looks like their actor counterparts featured many of the characters who will be on Episode IX, so this comic serves as simply filler. Overall: 6.6 Recommendation: Borrow

Logan

Infinite Dark #5 (Image/Top Cow) Ryan Cady and Andrea Mutti’s existentialist, end of the world sci-fi saga continues in Infinite Dark #5, which reintroduces the characters and new status quo. Apparently, there’s a lot of unrest among the inhabitants of the not so good ship Orpheus, but this is mostly told via exposition and not shown. However, Mutti and colorist K. Michael Russell craft gritty sequences with an orange palette featuring Deva, the protagonist, teaming up with her old enemy to take down an even more horrific threat. And yeah, this book is straight up horor at the end. Overall: 7 Verdict: Read

Symbiote Spider-Man #1 (Marvel)– Peter David and Greg Land are trying to do some kind of Pulp Fiction non-linear crime narrative meets Kraven’s Last Hunt story with Mysterio and Spider-Man while adding a romantic subplot with Black Cat. (Oops, Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada already did Kraven’s Last Hunt with Mysterio in Daredevil: Guardian Devil.) The quality of the book really fluctuates from clever lines from David about the Power Pack beating Mysterio to generic black suit angst and weak attempts at flirting. This fluctuation continues to the visual department where Land’s weaknesses at faces continues with lots of stiffness for the female characters and a swipe of George W Bush by Bryan Hitch for one of the male ones. He does a good job any time the black suit is in action, but it’s more of a spandex costume and less of a fluid organism in his pencil and Jay Leisten’s inks. If you’re looking for a throwback Spider-Man story, then Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley’s Spider-Man: Life Story is much better option. Overall: 5 Verdict: Pass

Faithless #1 (BOOM!)– Brian Azzarello dips his toe into the world of romance comics with artist Maria Llovet, and the results are pretty fucked up. His good ear for dialogue combined with smooth, sleazy art from Llovet as Faith and Poppy wander around town, day drink, shoot the shit about magic, watch Poppy’s ex boyfriend become street pizza, and of course, end up in bed. Until the last possible moment, Faithless is in no rush to be some kind of plot driven thriller and feels out how Faith and Poppy look at each other, chat, and connect. Faith is a seriously flawed protagonist with money issues, an obsession with magic, and a self centered side, but she’s relatable too. Until the final page when this becomes a much different comic. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Wonder Twins #3 (DC/Wonder Comics) Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne dig into Gleek’s (the Wonder Twins’ pet monkey) tragic past as Sir Lance-little as his poor self has some traveling circus-induced PTSD. This issue also has their climactic battle against the League of Annoyance and some damn great moments between Superman and Jayna. Byrne’s art is smooth and makes for an enjoyable reading appearance as he plays the weird nature of the Wonder Twins’ powers straight instead of spoofing them. The colorful comedy mostly comes from their enemies, and he and Russell hit some strong emotional beats every time Gleek’s past shows up, or Superman gives Jayna advice about being an alien hero on Earth. This comic really hits the right balance between silly and serious, episodic and serialized. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Joe Ryan

The Amazing Spider-Man #19 (Marvel) – I have enjoyed Spencer, Ramos, and company on Hunted for the most part so far. It has been a fast paced and fun mini-event that has been a bit better than I expected. I enjoyed the Gibbon issue quite a lot, and this was a decent follow up. It took a bit to get there, but by the end of the book left it at a solid point. Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Buy

Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1 (Marvel) – This book took me a few pages to get into it, but it finally got it hooks into me. It is a solid set up to what will be a big Absolute Carnage event, and it was good to see John Jameson/Man Wolf front and center in the main characters role, complete with a major part by Misty Knight. I enjoyed the art, though it is cartoony for such a mature title, it worked, and the set up at the end was exciting. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

 Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #3 (Marvel) – I like the idea of this event, and enjoyed some of the earlier issues, but I think it is moving far too slow for how many series it has going on at once. We are 3 issues into this comic, and things are starting to move. The art is solid, and it isn’t bad by any means, I just want it to go somewhere. Uncanny by Rosenberg, and the excitement behind Hickman on X-Men is where my X-Fandom thoughts are, and I am mostly wanting to see how this wraps up. Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dtective Comics #1001 (DC) – With the big anniversary issue, we got a glimpse of The Arkham Knight in #1000, but this book gives us a little more as it kicks off the arc. Tomasi does a good job quickly moving us through the big set up, action, and cliffhanger ending. I am excited to see where this story goes, and at this point feel like I have changed my mind on whom The Arkham Knight is. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Batman Who Laughs #4 (DC) – This was the best issue I read of the big publishers this week, and it really made me miss Scott Snyder on Batman. I am kind of sad this is a mini, because I love Snyder and Capullo on Batman on The New 52. That being said, there is a lot of wacky story in these few issues, and if you like over the top Batman in that style, this book delivers. Between this and Detective, the main Batman book is falling behind both of them in quality in my opinion. Overall: 9.0 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 3/9

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.


Shean

Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys MARVEL History #1 (Marvel) – In what should be a serious iteration on Marvel History, we get quite a different take on Frank Castle and Ghost Rider. As an older Frank visits himself and just like the title says, destroy every major event in Marvel Universe history. In this all too short debut issue, the creative team happens to find a righteous balance between heartfelt and hilarious. Overall, a book which will instantly remind readers of Deadpool but also blazes their own trail. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Age of Conan: Belit #1 (Marvel)– In what is not is your normal Pirate story, we get a tale of privilege and betrayal. As we meet Belit, a young lady who longs to be a pirate just like her father once was. Everything changes for her and her father, when some of his old friends come calling on old debts. By issue’s end, she is sold into slavery but finds her way out of captivity only to face an actual sea monster like in her father’s stories. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

House Of Whispers #7 (DC/Vertigo) **– Just when I was about to walk away from this book, writers Nalo Hopkinson and Dan Watters deliver the best issue, by far, to date, part hallucinatory nightmare, part less-than-subtle treatise in favor of veganism, culminating in the surprise return of — that would be telling. Dominike “Domo” Stanton has been solid on the art with this series, even during the last few months when the scripts faltered, and that remains the case here. Everything finally seems to be coming together. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Outer Darkness #5 (image/Skybound)** – If you’re taking a pass on this book, you’re missing out on a lot. John Layman and Afu Chan are creating an occult take on Jack Kirby’s “Captain Victory And The Galactic Rangers” that’s one of the most page-turning — and eye-catching — comics on the stands. In this penultimate issue of their opening arc, a nasty crash is followed by an even-nastier betrayal, and where it goes from here is anybody’s guess. Magnificent comic book storytelling. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Laguardia #4 (Dark Horse/Berger Books)** – Nothing about Nnedi Okrafor and Tana Ford’s series should probably work — there’s no villain, no particular dramatic tension, and most issues are more like diatribes on political points most readers, myself included, already agreed with going in. And yet, anything this earnest, and this gorgeously-illustrated, will always be worth checking out in my view, and they conclude things in typically-clumsy, but equally-heartfelt, style. I’m going to miss this comic, even though not a whole hell of a lot happened in it. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Wonder Twins #2 (DC)** – As always, Mark Russell finds a way to spin a compelling story around a cogent socio-political message, as Zann And Jayna come face-to-face with a new villain, sure — but also with the harsh realities of the private prison system and alcoholism/addiction. Stephen Byrne’s art is solid, if not especially spectacular, but it gets the job done, and that’s plenty good. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Assassin Nation #1 (Image)– Kyle Starks and Erica Henderson’s new creator owned series Assassin Nation definitely isn’t the deepest comic, but it’s a lot of ultraviolent fun. Like a Tarantino flick without the racial slurs or a Mark Millar comic without the misogyny. Henderson has the ability to make brains oozing out of one’s super hilarious, and her shootouts are well-choreographed and easy to follow. Assassin Nation #1 is a great source of blood, guts, bullets, and well-articulated grids plus there’s a character named Fuck Tarkington. It’s a fantastic guilty pleasure book. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 (Marvel)– Saladin Ahmed, Minkyu Jung, Juan Vlasco, and Ian Herring definitely follow the old Stan Lee adage that every comic is someone’s first in Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1. After an intriguing mega flash-forward, Ahmed and Jung open up with an action scene that shows off her polymorph powers while simultaneously checking in with her current relationships and retelling her origin. It’s been five years since Ms. Marvel first appeared so it’s okay. Jung and Vlasco’s art is a good mix between naturalism and overexaggeration that works when Kamala’s punching werewolf/eagle alien things at the local Circle Q. They can also handle the tough emotional beats like when she has a big conversation with her parents. But Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 isn’t just a “back to basics” issue that strips down Kamala to her essence as Ahmed and Jung throw some sci-fi tinged curveballs around the way. Her journey from flawed, struggling teen hero to Destined One will be fun to watch especially if she gets an actual rogues gallery. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: 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 (**).

Underrated: A Random Selection Of TPBs

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: a somewhat random selection of trade paperbacks..


This week I wanted to highlight books that have either already appeared in this column, or haven’t appeared yet (but that I plan to cover in more detail in the future). There’ll be no real order here, but each book will be a jumping on point of some kind into a series that are each absolutely worth reading.

Voracious: Diners Dinosaurs and Dives (Action Lab) The elevator pitch for this series is pretty simple and immediately interesting; time travelling chef hunts dinosaurs. But as catchy as that is, it does a disservice to Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr’s series. Across two miniseries (or two trades), the pair have created a story with more flavours than a tyrannosaur steak; there’s a cop drama, genuinely funny and heart warming moments, a deeper exploration of the mechanics of time travel than you’d necessarily expect and some straight up action sequences. This is easily one of the most exciting comic series I’ve read in the last five year (the final part of the trilogy launches in the next couple of months).

God Country (Image) The concept for this story is pretty unique and straight forward; a man with Alzheimer’s regains his memory when holding a mysterious sentient sword. The only problem is, the sword apparently belongs to some space gods… God Country is one of Donny Cates finest stories, and one that has the potential to hit a lot of us who have experienced a loved one suffering with this horrible disease. There’s also an undertone about discovering who you once were, who you are, and the question of whether a sentient sword is a possession or a free being. Plus, with this being made into a movie in the future, you’ll want to read this sooner than later.

Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior: Risen (Valiant) Hardly surprising I’d include a Valiant book, and Risen is the introductory story to one of Valiant’s finest fourteen issue runs in recent memory. This chapter tells the story of how the Eternal Warrior comes back to life each and every time he dies – another simple concept, but one that weighs heavier and heavier each time you see him fall later in the series.

Sex Criminals (Image) Sometimes you just really need a good crime story. And despite the title, this isn’t about sex criminals, but criminals who have sex and then commit a crime. Because every time they orgasm time freezes so they choose to rob a bank (or take a shit in their bosses office). As you do.

Letter 44: Vol I (Oni Press) I had very little idea what this was about when I picked up the first trade, but quickly discovered that it tells the story of humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial beings, and the president who chose to keep their existence a secret (all the while perpetuating wars to give his soldiers combat experience and developing incredible technology to combat the potential threat). Equal parts political intrigue and science fiction story, I’m still not sure whether the tension is higher in space than it is on Earth, but the story is freaking amazing.

Ether (Dark Horse) A tale about a scientist who can travel inter-dimensionally, Ether explores what would happen if said scientist arrived in a world where magic, not science is the rule of law – but what is magic but as-yet unexplained science?


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 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.


Elana

Die #3 (Image): An extraordinarily powerful story about uni-directional class war and about fantasy stories about war. Stephanie Hans paints one hell of a god-send and her depictions of trench warfare are devastating. Kieron Gillen gets to the heart of JRR Tolkien’s works as promised on my podcast — http://bit.ly/DieGPpod). More people have made art about Tolkien than almost any other 20th century writer. But this is saying something new. It is poetry and politics on the page. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Joe Hesh

Batman Who Laughs #3 (DC) Snyder and Jock are back at it again and they are putting on a clinic. This mini series has been flat out fantastic. From the idea of the Jokers ultimate revenge through corrupting Batman to all the alternate Bruce Waynes now in our universe. I’ve enjoyed it all. Its not just the grandiose moments that Snyder does well, its the little ones too. I like the idea of Batman being born the day he climbed out of the well. This kind of building on the Batman mythos is exceptional. The Grim Knight is a welcome addition and i hope to enjoy the one shot coming up. Bringing James Gordon Jr. Back is wonderful too as he was a great character and particularly unique. So far we are half way done with this mini series and from what I heard it really hits the fan from here out. The only downside I see is that I wish Snyder and Jock were the regular monthly team on the main book. If you haven’t been on Batman for a while you want to pick this one up. The dark knight at his finest. Overall: Not a qualm at all and awaiting with batted breath for the next installment. Score: 9 Recommendation: Buy 

Shean

Star Wars Age of Republic Count Dooku #1 (Marvel)– In this one shot featuring the still mysterious Count Dooku, we find out more about his duplicitous nature As we meet him as he seeks out an arms syndicate, while accidentally running into a Jedi Knight shortly after Qui Gon Jinn had been killed by Darth Maul. As the reader sees moments where his former self is enough for most including the Jedi Knight they sent to believe that his intentions were pure, as he ponders for a moment, if he had stayed with the Jedi Order, would his Padawan still be alive? By issue’s end, he begrudgingly Kills everyone involved while expanding the Sith’s foothold in the Empire. Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Savage Sword of Conan #1(Marvel)- In this reboot of the series, we find the Cimirrian lost at sea. This is until he is found by a slave ship looking to sell him and his fellow captives, a plan he doesn’t want no part of. Eventually, he finds a way to escape, while discovering that the Captain is more than what he seems, as he becomes the first glimpse of a well known villain in the pantheon of adversaries Conan would face. By issue’s end, he burns the ship, frees himself and embarks on a new adventure. Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Wonder Twins #1 (DC/Wonder)– Zan and Jayna the Wonder Twins try to get the hang of Earth and high school in the new series from Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne. Byrne has a smooth, expressive art style that works for a more episodic, humor driven story even though Superman and Batman’s tales of high school woe are funnier than Zan running around like a dog in heat. Russell writes the Trinity like real people, which takes a while getting used to, and counterbalances this by writing the Wonder Twins themselves with more empathy and less as a SuperFriends joke. Jayna is definitely the more likable one in the easygoing, and hopefully, Zan gets more depth instead of just being a hormonal wannabe bro as the series progresses. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

 Ironheart #3 (Marvel)– Even though Vecchio and Geoffo’s interior art pales in comparison to Amy Reeder’s covers, Eve Ewing’s introspective and character driven, yet action packed run on Ironheart continues with a dark, moody third chapter. Riri is so busy trying to connect the pieces to a cellphone theft/human trafficking ring that she’s neglecting her schoolwork, friends both super and otherwise, family, and also feelings about the death of her friend Natalie. She would rather be getting in headstrong fights with ninja things and playing around with high end technology than opening up. Ewing and Vecchio make Riri a determined and likable character (Who is a stealth sneakerhead), but also give her flaws that make her story even more compelling although she’s struggling in the villain department so far. Overall: 8 Verdict: 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 2/2

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.


Logan

Action Comics #1007 (DC)– With new artist Steve Epting (Velvet, Captain America) onboard, Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Action Comics takes a bit of a subterfuge approach to the Big Blue Boy Scout with appearances from General Lane, Amanda Waller, and Jimmy Olsen infiltrating a cult with the power of smooching. His plotting has been a little predictable, but Bendis has done a fantastic job letting readers get to know members of Superman’s supporting cast in Action Comics. Jimmy takes the spotlight, and his youthful naivete and hunger to get the big photograph are on full display mainly through explosive imagery from Epting and colorist Brad Anderson. Bendis and Epting also provide a big emotional beat in Action Comics #1007 that may prove controversial. I’ve been keeping up with this book and not Superman so much so some of Lois Lane’s characterization is a mystery to me even though it seems like Bendis might be breaking them up, especially after the events of this issue… Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

 Age of X-Man Alpha #1 (Marvel)– Ramon Rosanas’ smooth art and Triona Farrell’s flushed out colors set the scene for this Nate Grey-centric alternate universe X-event. Writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler craft the flip side of Age of Apocalypse: one where Professor X, Cyclops, and Logan sacrificed themselves to create a perfect world. Everyone is happy, but also everything is regimented, and reflection on history is frowned upon. Enough is teased out in this first issue that it makes me want to explore the nooks and crannies of a world where apparently romantic relationships are banned, and Nightcrawler is a movie star. It’s good read if you like seeing the cracks in utopia and even if you’re a bit behind on the current X-books. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Captain America #7 (Marvel)– Steve Rogers is being accused of the murder of Thunderbolt Ross with his vibranium shield while a cabal of (sometimes literal) corporate vampires called the Power Elite run the United States in the vacuum that HYDRA left behind. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Adam Kubert begin this new arc exploring the desecration of symbols that stand for bigger things. Kubert is a veteran artist with a good eye for layouts and choreography and draws one hell of bar fight between Bucky and some goons. But his and Coates’ best visual moments come in a nine panel grid conversation between Steve and Sharon Carter about whether he should turn himself in or not that ends up being a conversation about the American flag really stands for. And the outcome is pretty exciting story-wise too as the final page gave me goosebumps about the future of the series Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Ryan C

Bone Parish #6 (Boom! Studios)** – Cullen Bunn and Jonas Scharf are really putting together a solid little horror series here. Moving the pieces into place for the second-half run they hit all the right notes with solid characterization, intriguing plot developments, and creepy, atmospheric art. I’m really digging what these two are laying down here. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Quantum Age #6 (Dark Horse)** – A more interesting wrap-up to this six-part “Black Hammer” spin-off than it looks to be at first when you consider that what initially appears to be an “easy out” on writer Jeff Lemire’s part actually plants the seeds for all kinds of interesting developments down the road, and Wilfredo Torres’ art is just plain perfect for this kind of fun, energetic, sci-fi yarn. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #1 (Dynamite) – Most everyone knows this is the character that Ozymandias from “Watchmen” is based on, and writer Kieron Gillen uses that to his advantage, playing up the “meta” aspect by springboarding off Ozy’s ultimate mad “interdimensional invasion” plan and revealing a truly surprising hidden hand behind the whole thing. Casper Wijngaard’s art is fairly standard super-hero stuff, but it works just fine for this kind of story. Clever, compelling stuff across the board. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Ice Cream Man #9 (Image)** – It’s great to see this linked horror anthology back after a short hiatus, and writer W. Maxwell Prince appears to be tying the previous stories together, as well as fleshing out his protagonist’s backstory, with this “outer-space western” that gives artist Martin Morazzo plenty to sink his teeth into, as well as providing lots of fuel for your nightmares. This series just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Overall: 9 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 1/26

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 (**).

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