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Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 5/14

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Alex

4001-XO_001_COVER-A_CAFU4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1 (Valiant) – This is a unique comic, because while there’s nothing inherently wrong with the issue, there’s absolutely no reason for me to recommend you purchase it. Yes, it’s good, but it’d be better read as an insert into the collected version of 4001 A.D. rather than as a standalone comic book. It’s a great prologue,  the writing and art are very solid, and there is some interesting backstory revealed here  but at the end of the day I can’t justify recommending you buy the issue outright as what is told here, has been hinted at across a couple of issues (or in previews of the series, I can’t honestly remember how I knew about the story in 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1 before reading the issue) to the point that you don’t really need to worry about reading this comic. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: If you’re budget conscious with collecting the story, Pass/Read. Buy if you’re a completest.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #10 (Dynamite) – If I’m being honest, this series has been one of the highlights of my month whenever I get a chance to read it. It’s fun, but not cheesy, light hearted without sacrificing the emotional connection between the characters… I’m going to go out on a limb and say that in terms of a solid, enjoyable series, then you dn’t have to look any further than …The Spirit‘s consistent quality. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Grizzly Shark Returns #2 (Image) – I don’t know what I just read, but I loved it. Brutally over the top, hilarious, and certainly not for kids, this comic is the kind of turn-your-brain-off fun that you just need sometimes. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

BMTMNT_Cv6Batman #52 (DC)* – As a stand alone comic  this wasn’t bad, but after Batman #52‘s powerful farewell from Snyder and Capullo, this issue felt a little flat. Not a horrible comic, just nothing spectacular, and not really worth your time. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Batman/TMNT #6 (IDW/DC) – It’s always a shame when the final issue of a hugely enjoyable crossover fails to live up to the promise of the other five, and that’s almost what we have here. Ironically enough, the quality of this issue is exactly what I expected from the entire series, and given that this is essentially almost a comic long fight scene, I’m not that unhappy with the final product. If there’s a trade released, check it out, because this is a fitting conclusion to the story, even if it isn’t the best issue in the miniseries (but it was the most interesting comic featuring Batman I read this month, so that’s a plus). Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy (the entire crossover)

Detective Comics #52 (DC)* – Eh, it was okay. Nothing spectacular, and certainly not as interesting as part one. I’m not sorry to see the mech-suit retired permanently. Overall: 5 Recommendation: 5

Brett

4001: A.D. X-O Manowar #1 (Valiant): Valiant promised this tie-ins to their big summer event could be read on their own and they were right. This fleshes out a lot of background as to the world of 4001 and what led up to it. A simple and entertaining comic. Overall Rating: 8 Recommendation: Read

GrizzlyShark_02-1A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #3 (Valiant): Continues to be one of the craziest, and funniest comics out there. I’m so happy these two are back. Overall Rating: 8.1 Recommendation: Read

The Fix #2 (Image Comics): The first issue was amazing and this second one is as well. Damn near perfection in every way. I found myself lingering on pages to get every joke, and laughing throughout. On top of that, a solid crooked cop story. Overall Rating: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Grizzly Shark #2 (Image Comics): As batshit insane as it sounds and I loved every minute of it. Overall Rating: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Rough Riders #2 (Aftershock Comics): Roosevelt continues to get his team together in this weird history comic. I’m completely sucked in due to the interesting story and the fantastic art. Loving this series. Overall Rating: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy

Satellite Falling #1 (IDW Publishing): An interesting new series that’s a sci-fi twist on a few different types of stories. So far it’s a solid start that has me coming back for more. Overall Rating: 7.4 Recommendation: Read

Think Tank: Creative Destruction #2 (Top Cow): I’m a fan of the series due to Matt Hawkins use of real world issues that are well researched. This second issue finally puts some of the pieces of the puzzle together as to what was going on in the first one and as usual Hawkins has me intrigued as to where it’s going. Add in solid art by Rahsan Ekedal who gives everyone such personality. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Javier

PencilHead_04-1Pencil Head #4 (Image Comics) – It’s roughly 1:30 AM Thursday morning, after new comic book day, and I just finished reading Ted McKeever’s Pencil Head #4. Bad choice. Not because it wasn’t good, on the contrary it was excellent; but it’s the most caustic and darkest chapter in the series so far. If it wasn’t clear to you who the cast of oppressive boorish characters mirrored in the real world, all is blatantly revealed in issue #4–which is more of a bleak chronological and autobiographical memoir of McKeever’s roller coaster ride of a career in the comic book industry, than the scathing thinly veiled critiques of past issues. The most compelling scene is when Poodwaddle, losing his friends and job at Cleveland Comics, comes to the harsh realization that his work has become his life, and he laments the emptiness with no future projects. Then, in a rare moment of positivity, soon enough, he is back at it again.

As an aside, if you are holding out for the collected trade, don’t bother. According to McKeever’s blogsite (tedmckeever.blogspot.com) the “publisher has no intention of putting out a trade.” So, if you want to read it, then get the print copies, or look for digital copies online. The art is standard McKeever: black and white grotesque visuals with stark contrasts. I’ve always liked his art, but it’s not for everybody. Read the writing on the wall at your own risk. Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Black Panther #2 (Marvel)* – Against my better judgment, I figured I’d give the second issue of this series a shot, simply because anyone as talented and thoughtful as Ta-Nehisi Coates surely can’t produce two lousy comics in a row, right? Unfortunately, he can, and while last issue I was unsure as to where he was going with this story, with this issue he does give us a much better of where things are headed — and it’s nowhere interesting.
Coates writes T’Challa not as a character but as a walking, talking set of obligations, and when he finally relented to the obvious and used the line “heavy is the head that wears the crown,” I literally laughed out loud. At this point this isn’t just a mediocre comic, or even a bad comic — it’s a lousy comic, and gives Neal Adams’ ” Superman : The Coming Of The Supermen” a solid run for its money in the self-indulgence department — but without any of that title’s accidentally-entertaining bat-shit insanity. This is dour, joyless, heavy-handed stuff that makes “Batman V. Superman” look lighthearted by comparsion. Brian Stelfreeze’s art seems to have taken a big step back into “mailing it in” territory this time out, as well. I know there are plenty of worse comics out there than this — but thankfully I’m not reading any them. Nor will I be reading this one any longer. Overall: 2. Recommendation: Pass. No, make that drop! Swamp_Thing_05

Swamp Thing #5 (DC)* – A guilty pleasure, to be sure, but Len Wein’s “throwback”-style storyline continues to be both painfully obvious yet somehow entertaining at the same time, and when you throw in guest appearances by Deadman, The Phantom Stranger, and The Spectre, well — you’d have to be one heartless bastard not to be having a good time with this book. Kelley Jones’ art continues to bring the Wrightson-esque goodness, as well. A blast from start to finish, Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.

American Monster #3 (Aftershock)* – I’ve been pretty hard on Brian Azzarello lately and deservedly so, but he seems to be saving all the passion and interest so obviously missing from “Dark Knight III” and “Three Floyds : Alpha King” for this absolutely fantastic “small-town noir.” It’s quite obvious there are no “good guys” to be had here, nor are anyone’s motivations anything other than completely self-centered, but shit — that’s life, ain’t it? Our scarred protagonist is a nasty piece of work himself, but he definitely has a plan that involves fucking a lot of people up, and the more we learn about them the more they seem to have it coming — damn if I can figure out how’s it’s all going to come together, though. Juan Doe’s art continues to improve by leaps and bounds with every issue, as well. More than likely the best comic out there that you’re not reading — unless, of course, you are. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy. 

Shean

Gingerdead Man TPB (Action Lab): This bat shit crazy story about a single mother who runs a bakery being harassed by a gang of thugs , comes some very entertaining twists . As a psychopath comes back from the dead as a confectionary, laying waste to those who have done him wrong. The reader follows him as he goes on a murder spree, where some of the scenarios will remind 80s babies of some of their favorite horror movies. By this arc’s end, just when you think the story is finite, the creative team leaves a hilarious back door open.
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write.

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

 

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 19/3/16

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Alex

huck05-cover-webHuck #4 (Image) There’s a sense of something here that you don’t often see in Mark Millar’s work: hope. Now whether that’ll get ripped from under my feet as the series progresses and we head into some darker territory is something I’ve been acutely aware could happen. That Huck that has echoes of Superman is undeniable, but it never feels derivative to me, either. If you haven’t been reading the singles then at this point I’d wait for the trade, because this is definitely worth checking out. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Amazing Forest #3 (IDW) The first two issues in this anthology series were really enjoyable, but this one wasn’t up to the standards of those earlier issues. It’s not bad, and the final story is actually quite good, but the other three didn’t really do it for me. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #9 (Dynamite) This has been one of my favourite monthly series for some time. It has just the right amount of fun, some great writing and art work. A really enjoyable comic each and every month. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read

 

Ryan C

Injection #8 (Image)**: So — now we finally get to see how Warren Ellis’ pair of once-apparently-disparate principal plot elements do, in fact, tie together. And it’s been so deceptively straightforward the whole time that I’m punching myself for not seeing it sooner. Plus, there’s lots of fucking. Of any and all varieties imaginable and a few you probably can’t. Typically fascinating issue with razor-sharp Declan Shalvey art, this series should still be right near the top of everyone’s “must-read” list. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Hip Hop Family Tree 8Hip Hop Family Tree #8 (Fantagraphics)*: Ed Piskor’s meticulously-researched and lavishly-illustrated cultural history reaches a new plateau of significance with the emergence on the scene of — Run DMC! The charge coming off this book is electric right now, as the “new” musical, fashion, artistic, and social sensibilities attendant with the rise of Hip Hop make their way from the streets and clubs of New York to the top of the pop music charts. The most obvious labor of love on comic shop racks right now by a wide margin. Overall: 9.5. Recommendation: Buy

Power Man And Iron Fist #2 (Marvel)*: David Walker’s “caper”-themed script seems ready-made for the Netflix treatment, with one major exception : unlike the “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” TV series, this is “street-level” story-telling that doesn’t take itself soooooo goddamn overly-seriously (anyone else find it more than a touch ironic that the same fans criticizing DC for the “grim” and “somber” tone of their movies praise those same “qualities” in the Marvel shows? But I digress). Sanford Greene’s art continues to impress and two scant issues in it’s safe to say these characters have never been more enjoyable to follow. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy.

Superman: The Coming Of The Supermen #2 (DC)*: I told you it was only a matter of time until the veil of rationality was pierced (hell, shredded) on this book, and with the departure of co-writer Tony Bedard leaving Neal Adams as a solo act on both story and art, the gloves are off and the insanity is, as Adams himself might put it, “on — full— display. On full! Display! Here! It is! Here! It is — it is here! Can’t you see it? You need to see it! Really it must — really — not be missed.” And don’t worry — the art doesn’t make much more sense than the story. Overall: 2.5. Recommendation: Buy. As long as you don’t expect — or even want — it to be good


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write.

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Image Comics announces Previews Catalog magazine: Image+

2000px-Image_Comics_logo.svgImage Comics and Diamond Comic Distributors have announced Image+, an all-new monthly magazine which will feature Image’s upcoming releases, as well as bonus creator-owned comics content. Each issue will be distributed with Diamond’s PREVIEWS Catalog each month, with the first issue of Image+ available in May.

Each of the first twelve issues of Image+ magazine will feature an original, four-page The Walking Dead story concerning Negan’s origins, and created by New York Times bestselling team Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, for a total of 48 pages of backstory.

PREVIEWS has long served as a sales tool meant to guide retailer orders, inspire customer pre-orders with new solicitations, and provide product listings for the months to come.

Image+ will clock in at 64 pages and feature exclusive interviews, spotlight features, bonus never-before-seen preview pages, editorials from industry voices, and more in-depth, insightful and provocative comics coverage curated by David Brothers, Branding Manager at Image Comics.

Image+ will be available for free to customers who purchase a PREVIEWS Catalog each month or can be purchased separately for only $1.99.

The first issue of Image+ will appear in the PREVIEWS Catalog with July releasing solicitations and will be available in stores this May. The standard Image Comics solicitations for each month will continue to appear in PREVIEWS Catalog as usual.

Indie Icons: Savage Dragon #2

Savage Dragon HeaderRemember, when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teamed up with Savage Dragon and fought a giant stone gargoyle? No? Unfortunately, Indie Icons remembered for you. Let’s get strange with The Savage Dragon #2.Savage Dragon CoverOur tale opens, with a large amazon women walking into a police station. It turns out, she is a super hero named Dart, sent to the Chicago police department to cover Savage Dragon because, he left for New York to help solve a crime there. Two main things stick out about this scene. First, her super hero costume rides so high up her butt, there is no possible way it is comfortable or functional when fighting against criminals. There’s a high likelihood something she doesn’t want exposed, is getting exposed. Secondly, every male cop in the precinct has apparently never seen a woman before and freaks out at the sight of her. Jaws drop, coffee mugs shatter on the floor, and old timey cat calls are thrown out. I’ve never been to Chicago but, I can only assume this is accurate and old timey cat calls still happen there all the time.

Savage Dragon DartShe politely tells them all to go to hell. I can’t really blame her for that. She also has darts attached all over her arms and legs. I respect a hero that committed to their name gimmick. A crime comes across the police scanner, sending Dart into action which we never get to see. Instead, we finally get introduced to Savage Dragon. He is standing on a rooftop by a gargoyle with the Ninja Turtles coming up behind him. It looks like the group is all set up for a nice friendly stake out. Then, the Ninja Turtles just start beating the hell out of the Savage Dragon.

Savage Dragon SplashLuckily, he ripped the sleeves off of his suit so he can kick proper ass. Suns out, business casual guns out. The Ninja Turtles jump on Savage Dragon’s back and they are out for blood. These are not your friendly Saturday morning cartoon Ninja Turtles. These Ninja Turtles are not afraid to actually use there weapons. This Leonardo will stab you with his swords instead of just punching you while holding a sword. They do not play around. The only problem is, these are also the Ninja Turtles who all wear the same red masks. In honor of that, let’s play a little game. Which Turtle is the butt-head and which is the pompous jerk?Savage Dragon Butt HeadIf you guessed Michelangelo was the pompous jerk and Donatello was the butt-head… you might be right? I have no idea. I couldn’t figure it out. Back to the story. With the Turtles trying to kill him, Savage Dragon pulls out his comically large gun to start shooting. Leonardo quickly ends this plan and cuts the gun cleanly in two. This doesn’t matter. After being stabbed with a sai and swords, and beaten with nunchuks and staffs, Savage Dragon tosses all four of the Turtles off of the roof and into the alley below. It turns out, the Turtles thought he was the giant gargoyle monster that has been tormenting New York City recently. Savage Dragon actually takes this pretty well and forgives them for the beating they just delivered to him. He is outrageously forgiving. Like, nun level forgiveness.

If you’ve read Indie Icons before, you know I’ve never been in many of the situations I write about. This is just as true here. Surprisingly, I’ve never fought a foursome of Ninja brothers. But, if they tried to kill me, and then I threw them off a roof, I think we would have trouble being friends. Savage Dragon is a much better person than I will ever be. He agrees to help the Turtles find the giant gargoyle monster and then, he is getting the hell out of New York. Luckily, it doesn’t take long to find the creature. He was actually just hanging out a block away from them.Savage Dragon GargoyleIt really makes me wonder how Savage Dragon is a cop in Chicago because, his detective skills seem very poor. I can’t imagine that thing is too hard to see when it’s flying around the city. Another fight quickly ensues. The Ninja Turtles recklessly jump on the monster and just start stabbing away at it. Savage Dragon apparently likes this strategy. He jumps on the gargoyles arm and starts punching it violently in the wrist. The creature is very annoyed by this and casually throws him away. The Turtles continue punching but, they can’t seem to break through the gargoyles hard exterior. It also breaths fire randomly, which is pretty cool. All of this begins to annoy Savage Dragon. He just wants to go home. So, he one punches the entire monster into rubble, making the Ninja Turtles look pretty pathetic in the process.Savage Dragon PunchLeonardo tries to explain to Savage Dragon, that the reason there was a giant stone gargoyle flying around is because of magic. Savage Dragon thinks this is stupid and doesn’t even pretend to believe what he’s saying. Considering he’s a muscular dragon cop who just fought with four talking turtles that know ninjutsu, it’s really strange he finds magic hard to believe. While this is all happening, a scantily clad woman, who may be senior citizen, is watching creepily from around the corner. I wish I could describe her any other way but her large head of spiky gray hairs leads me to believe she’s old. But, her gravity defying bosom says otherwise. I’ll let you guys take a look and decide for yourself.Savage Dragon GrandmaThe Ninja Turtles begin trying to figure out where the creature came from. Savage Dragon doesn’t care. He just want to head back to Chicago. They say their goodbyes and Savage Dragon goes on his way, happy that he got to punch a statue to death and even happier to be heading to his own bed. But, before we can celebrate too much, we quickly cut to a farm in DeKalb, Illinois. A young boy is knocking on the door but, no one seems to be answering. He opens the door to see if anyone’s home…Savage Dragon End…and sees a large puddle of blood. Judging by the rotting corpse, whoever is in that closet is doing something they’re not supposed to. Why can’t Indie Icons ever end nicely?

Indie Icons: Youngblood #1

Youngblood Banner

What happens when Indie Icons looks back at one of the flagship titles from Image Comic‘s creation? Nothing good. Absolutely, nothing good happens. Let’s get into the strange, shall we?

Youngblood CoverThe story opens with a group of heroes in the dark dimension of D’Khay. And, for your guy’s sake, I’m going to get this out of the way right now because they don’t explain it for a long, LONG, time. Each superhero in this comic is part of the Youngbloods. There are at least twenty separate heroes in this story, all infiltrating something at some point too. It can get pretty confusing. Because of that, nobodies name is actually that important. For example, the man below’s name is Wildmane. I refuse to call him that. He will now be known as feral Wolverine. Youngblood Feral WolverineBy the hounds of perdition’s flames indeed. The team, poignantly named the Death Squad, continues to murder their way through the base they are in. Killing becomes so easy and boring to them that they actually start getting mad when someone doesn’t leave enough people to slaughter for the rest of the class. One person is particularly responsible for killing too many people too quickly and that is one Jackson Kirby. I really hope this is an homage to Jack Kirby. If it is, it is the most over the top interpretation ever. It’s also my favorite. Let’s compare.

Youngblood Kirby RealYoungblood Kirby

Basically, twins. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of Jack Kirby carrying comically large guns the size of his entire torso but, I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere. The Death Squad continues moving through the base, killing everything in sight as they’re known to do. After clearing the hallway, they all jump in unison and become frozen in air. Why you ask? Because, Lord Darkthornn has trapped them in what he calls crash limbo. Who is Lord Darkthornn? I have no idea. He says he wants to conquer Earth but then, we never see him or any of the other characters we just met ever again. I’m sure it pays off at some point in a later issue but, I only just finished the prologue and I’m already getting exhausted. OK, which Youngblood is next?Youngblood NewpaperOh, yes. Shaft. He has no pupils in this picture but, no one actually addresses the reason for this. It seems like he can see so, maybe his power is having really white eyes? I don’t know. We’re introduced to Shaft in the middle of an argument with his super model girlfriend. He is upset because all of the paparazzi are following him around. Then, he sees a man steal a woman’s purse and the hero in him finally comes out. He tackles the purse snatcher and punches him right in the face. That is until he realizes it’s just a young kid. He quickly figure out it’s a set up and spots a sniper off in the distance. Shaft does not play these games. He takes a pen out of his pocket and throws it right into this man’s heart.

Youngblood penI guess he really does have pupils. Maybe, his power is being able to throw office products incredibly accurately? The paparazzi quickly surround him. It seems they were waiting for a moment just like this to make themselves known. They ask a quick question about the man he just killed but, that’s all just to butter him up for the real questions. No one really cares about the random dead guy or public murder they just witnessed. They want to know if there is a classified mission going on in Iraq. Shaft ignores them and runs away while his super model girlfriend laughs psychotically in the background. Now, I’ve never been in one of these situations but, it seems like they best way to get information from someone isn’t to try and trick them while they under a high amount of stress. I’ve also never killed anyone. I just imagine that it’s really stressful. I’ll be honest, I just write funny articles on the internet. Sure, there’s some office products throwing. But, normally, no one dies from it. Let’s look at a fun picture to get Indie Icons back on track. Youngblood CerealThis is Thomas. He is so mad that he doesn’t have enough combos in his video games that he can’t even eat cereal properly anymore. I can’t say I blame him either. Combos are serious you guys. After this, we are quickly introduced to the rest of the main team. I mean, I think they’re the main team. They’re on the cover at least. Next, we have the Die Hard unit who is, what looks like, a muscular robot hanging out in a basement in Arlington, Virginia. After that, comes Chapel. His introduction shows him planning on having sex with the woman in his bed until they both die. I wish I was kidding but this is the actual conversation.Youngblood ChapelMight as well, right? He then puts on his uniform and screams angrily at the woman on the bed, asking her if this turns her on. He seems like a really unstable fellow. We then get a few panels of a woman dressed in purple jumping out of a balcony. Who is she? No idea. And that’s the main team. Shaft arrives at Youngblood headquarters and, on the local news, he sees that the Youngblood operation in Iraq has leaked. They plan on destroying Hassan Kussein’s meta-munitions program apparently. It looks like it’s time for the team we have spent the last few pages to finally get into action and save the day! What? That doesn’t happen at all? There’s another team of Youngbloods still!?

Youngblood IraqAn entire, I can’t believe there’s more, new team of Youngbloods land on Iraqi soil and just start laying waste to everything in front of them. They are looking to rescue a target being protected by Kussein. While making their way through the desert, the large Youngblood wearing a giant golden helmet turns out to be an alien and swears revenge. Revenge for what? Revenge on who? I…I just don’t know. So much is happening right now. I’m feeling overwhelmed and there aren’t anymore fun pictures to save this article. Let’s just keep going.

We cut back to the main Youngbloods still sitting at headquarters and trying to figure out if the leak of information is their fault. They decide to go to the hangar bay for some reason and that’s that. We cut back to our team in Iraq, continuing to murder Kussein’s army. They begin to get a bit paranoid because this seems too easy. That is, until they hit a trip wire energy grid that fries their synapses on contact.Youngblood ShieldThis doesn’t effect psi-fire, whose glowing feet you see above. It just makes him angry. We don’t quite get to see this play out though. We first cut to the White House, where the president is freaking out about the Iraqi mission leak. And, that’s it. Do we finally start wrapping up this comic which, at this point, has about 4000 loose story threads? Of course not. The story returns to the main team who are flying over a prison transport at the exact moment a few super villains begin to try and break the prisoners out. And, being Youngblood, there isn’t just one or two villains. There is an entire team of bad guys because this story needs all the characters it can possibly find. And, finally, we get to see the main team in action. The heroes on the actual cover of the comics. The one’s we bothered to learn a bit of backstory on. Look how promising this action pose is. Youngblood Main TeamIt looks like some serious business is about to happen. It doesn’t. We don’t see the main team again for the rest of the issue. We cut back to Psi-Fire who decides to tell Kussein about how he killed his parents by making their heads explode. He then tells him, and I’m not making this up, it’s “better than sex”. I don’t have any words for whats going on at this point. He eventually makes Kussein’s head explode for what I can only assume is because he is sexually excited by the dictator? It’s really weird you guys.Youngblood Head ExplosionThe rest of the team is not happy about this. They actually start freaking out because he just randomly murdered a country’s dictator but, they quickly get over it. With Kussein and his army out of the way, the Youngbloods can finally grab the target they came for. You never get to see that though. This is where the story ends. Nothing is resolved. I’m confused. I’m tired. Indie Icons will be back next week with a comic that is not Youngblood. Never again Youngblood.

Review: Lazarus #19

lazarus019Lazarus has enjoyed a relatively long run under its publication by Image, and it has done so almost completely through the use of its titular character, the Lazarus protector of the family Carlyle, holding the spotlight for a vast majority of the time in the series.  There have been other moments which have examined the post-apocalyptic world which the character lives in, as well as other asides some as the Lift for the elevation of regular citizens into something more, but Forever Carlyle has maintained most of the focus, whether it be her general appeal as a female superhero or whether it be the questions which pertain to her background.  A little of that changed in the last issue with the closing panels as Forever was shot and presumably killed with a head wound that she did not seem to be getting up from.  The question then becomes exactly what is this series without its main star.

Not surprisingly it is still a lot, and for the first time this gives the other characters time to shine.  With Forever out of commission, the squad questions how to proceed, as after all they were supposed to be a small unit on a covert operation, and without Forever they don’t seem to have much hope for the success of the mission.  Casey, once lifted in Denver and now a soldier, refuses to back down as she takes command and forces the mission to completion.  Meanwhile Michael at the Lazarus compound works feverishly for a solution to the various medical problems, the most obvious of which is Forever’s supposed death.

The change in focus works really well here as the secondary characters get more of the spotlight for the first time in this series.  Of course as the series has a presumably preset path upon which it is going to unravel some of the mysteries of this world, it would be nearly impossible to tell this story focusing solely on the main character.  Her future allies seem set in the discussion of where she is going and only the question is of how she will get there.  In the mean time this was an excellent issue to draw some of the focus away from her only in this series and to put it elsewhere.  It adds another layer of complexity to the series and helps to elevate by doing so.

Story: Greg Rucka Art: Michael Lark
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.  

Review: Manifest Destiny #16

md016Manifest Destiny has been one of the bigger surprises in comics in recent years, and mostly because of its underlying concept.  Comics tend towards a variety of different easily recognizable genres, but this series has mostly defied any single easy definition.  It is an apocryphal anachronistic historical horror that looks at the Lewis and Clark expedition in a completely different light, throwing in zombies, buffalo minotaurs, man eating frogs and a variety of other unconventional threats to the famous duo.  The series has succeeded because of this unconventional approach but underlying the entire experience is that of a complete lack of explanation as to why this happens other than the appearance of the arches.

The previous issues introduced the Fezrons, strange bird like humanoids that also speak English somehow.  The single Fezron was captured but then leads the expedition to a bigger collection of his kind, and they find them ready to eat the expedition’s scout.  A bargain is worked out as the humans agree to help the Fezrons in exchange for the return of their man, but they do so only after having the story of the Fezrons explained to them.  This kind of fits into earlier storytelling of comics, primarily the science fiction anthologies of the 1950s and 1960s when every alien species ever encountered was able to discuss with humans through some form of telepathy or some other convenient trick.  Something similar is alluded to here and perhaps finally giving some actual explanation as to why so much has changed in this version of history.

This series has survived thus far with its fair share of horror, which the crew has either had to fight off or occasionally even had some fun with.  Underlying the horror though was the question of how it was even possible, and with any series built around some underlying suspense or unanswered question, the resolution of that question will probably be the highlight of the series but also its inevitable downfall.  This is the first issue of the series which indicates that there is finally an answer coming to the question of these strange happenings, and true to form, it is of a better quality than previous issue, even if it might also signify the eventual end of the series.

Story: Chris Dingess Art: Matthew Roberts
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.  

Review: Morning Glories #47

mg047Although the initial concept for Morning Glories was one that seemed like it was an easy enough mystery, it was always designed to be one of a run of about 100 issues, and thus at issue #47, the series is approaching the halfway point (or might even be past it) but there are not really a lot more answers now than there ever have been before.  This series has always been a literary hydra, by answering one question another two questions come up in its place.  The series has nonetheless been roughly structured to give it some kind of sense, and this issue is evidently one that will be leading up to a bigger moment, although in itself it is not really shooting off in some strange direction.

The story here is pretty basic, as Ike is determined to help Casey win the election, and he has set up a dance party in order to build interest in her.  As opposed to some issues which focus on primarily one character, this issue focuses on a variety of them, including every member of the original team that is still at the school.  There are some allusions to what is happening elsewhere, but the main focus here is on Casey, the series’ protagonist, who now seems destined to win class president.  This is of course the moment that the readers have been waiting for, as it will potentially mean the freedom of Jade as well, though with this series it can be hard to tell what to expect.

The best part about this series is that it always manages to mix the absurd and the unknown with real human moments.  These are children under great duress as members of the Morning Glories Academy, but they are still ones that sneak out in the middle of the night for a party, and who get nervous when they have to ask the pretty girl to dance.  It is what has made this series a standout even when its plot is inexplicable.  The same is true here, as this issue does not really seem very important to the overall direction of the series, but provides the well-written characters a chance to interact with one another, a relative rarity in this series.  Something big seems to be just around the corner, but in the meantime this issue serves as one of the better intermediate issues thus far in this series.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Joe Eisma
Story: 9.1 Art: 9.1 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Review: Lazarus #18

lazarus018aDuring the course of its run thus far, Lazarus has been a series of slow developments.  Part of this is a necessity, as a comic series it tells the story in a different way, but the course of world building has to take place at a different pace than what one would expect from a novel or a television show.  This makes the pace its own, but as the setting is dystopian, there is also the necessity to build upon concepts which are perhaps more easily identified in a novel format.  The story has focused on Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus for the family Carlyle, but it has also focused on other developments, specifically at the Denver lift, an event were people move from the discarded proletariat to something more in life.  The previous issue hinted at the first time that these sub-plots intertwined, and this issue promised more of the same.

In one location, Michael is introduced to the closest inner circle of the Carlyle family as he searches for a cure to the poison of the family patriarch.  In the other location, and the sub-plot with more of the attention, Forever works side by side with a squad of soldiers, one of whom includes Casey, who unexpectedly also made the lift in Denver.  The story unfolds separately but also together through its previous connections as Forever slowly makes her way through various enemy positions in the stronghold of Duluth.

As part of the ongoing story in this series it is hard to gauge one issue of the series against each other.  It can easily be said though that this issue at least matches what has come before, while slightly shifting the outlook of the series, as has been implied throughout.  At some point Forever will become aware of the lies which are kept from her, but until that point it will be a sequence of slow developments to put all the pieces in the right place.  This issue does that well enough, and manages to find a few ways to shock at the same time.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed, and this issue might be a sign to those who aren’t that they maybe should be.

Story: Greg Rucka Art: Michael Lark
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Image provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.  

Review: Bloodstrike #1

bloodstrikeThough it defies conventional thinking, there are two Rob Liefelds.  One is a relatively talented comic book creator that can put a decent comic together, both in terms of story and art, and the other is the comic book version of Michael Bay, relying on violence and sex to sell stories.  In terms of what he can accomplish he tends to be all over the place, although he has perhaps been best known for his work on superheroes, some of whom he has supposedly “destroyed” and others for whom he provided a decent run on. Blood strike represented something different, as it was his own creation in its own universe, and thus was under his complete control.

It tells the story of a super assassin who has kind of run out luck.  In fact that is an understatement, as it gives the reader one of the strangest introduction to a character in comic history, as he is restrained, chained to a wall, after he has been cut in two.  It is a strange image, but effective in a sense because of its over-the-top nature.  In terms of being over-the-top though, the issue fails.  Doing over-the-top stuff in comics can be fun for a few panels but Liefeld seems to be going at this with the water hose method of restraint.  There are two separate panels here featuring penises (though somewhat in context) and thirteen decapitations.  It makes for both an exciting story from an action standpoint, though also gory, but it also causes that it is harder to take seriously as the actions that led up to the assassin being hanging from a wall are described.

Unfortunately for this first issue, the story and the art get the Rob Liefeld that causes people to roll their eyes, not the one that causes people to be impressed.  It is too bad, because from a contextual point the story is there, and so is the artistic design.  It just seems as though he did not know where to draw the line, and with less creative control as he has often had under the big two publishers, that he went too far with his own concept.  This therefore comes off as more Michael Bay-like than anything, and it is a failed attempt.  It could have been good, but too much of too much makes it fail.

Story and Art: Rob Liefeld
Story: 4.0 Art: 8.0  Overall: 4.0  Recommendation: Pass

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