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Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 11/4

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

POWER PACK #63Power Pack #63 (Marvel): Damn, this one-shot made me miss Marvel’s other superhero family as Katie Power narrates an adventure of her and her superpowered siblings for a rewrite on a high school paper. It’s a retelling of an older Power Pack comic, but writer Devin Grayson editorializes enough to show how much Katie misses blasting bad guys with her family. The story is also a strong argument for outlandish, standalone superhero stories instead of “realistic” ones, and Marika Cresta’s clean lines remind me of New Mutants’ (and Power Pack fill-in artist) Bob McLeod. It is highly relatable to anyone who is missing a sibling, who has moved far away. Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Batman: White Knight #2 (DC)** – I keep hoping that Sean Murphy has something else up his sleeve other than “look how I’m tweaking Gotham City norms at the margins,” but so far that’s all we’re getting here story-wise apart from some nasty white-washing of fascism. The art’s awesome, no question about it, and there’s a decent cliffhanger on offer here that will have you looking at Clayface in a new and decidedly unpleasant way, but damn — do we really need another story that looks at the most unpleasant aspect of Batman’s character (namely that he’s essentially a vigilante protecting the 1% by beating the crap out of poor people) and tries to cast it in a positive light a la “The Dark Knight Rises”? I think not. So far the only “message” I’m getting from this book is that if poor people get out of line, it’s up to the rich to knock them back down for the “good” of all. Pretty fucking repugnant, really. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass.

BMJKWK_Cv2_dsBatman #34 (DC)** – Another superb art job from Joelle Jones is wasted on another lazy-ass Tom King script. This is the most sumptuous-looking fight you’ll see all week, no question — but that’s still all we’re gejuy6tting here : an issue-length fight. Whatever. Overall: 3.5. Recommendation: Pass 

Crosswind #5 (Image)** – I’m still not sold on Cat Staggs’ heavily-photo-referenced art, being more a fan of actual free-hand drawing myself, but damn is Gail Simone’s darkly comic take on the “Freaky Friday” premise all kinds of fun. Events seem to be converging toward a conclusion of sorts, but hopefully the seeds of a second arc will be planted next issue, because I’d hate to see this book die a premature death. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Paper Girls #17 (Image)** – When it comes to paying homage to Spielberg-style ’80s blockbusters, Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang are getting exactly right everything that “Stranger Things” season two got exactly wrong — and even though this issue is heavy on the exposition, it’s true, these are answers that have been a long time coming and they lead to even more questions, so it’s all good. And the art’s more than good, it’s great. The iron fist 74most quietly consistent series going, and one that’s got all kinds of heart, too. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Iron Fist #74 (Marvel) When Danny Rand returns home to NYC, he finds the Book of the Iron Fist stolen by the Serpent and the Serpent Society. He teams up with Sabretooth to find it while knocking some heads along the way. At the same time, an old villain of The Iron Fist, Choshin is looking to take over Kun Luna do with an army Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

 


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

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

Underrated: Lake Of Fire

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: Lake Of Fire



It is 1220 AD, and the gears of the Albigensian Crusade grind on. When an alien spacecraft infested with a horde of bloodthirsty predators crash-lands in the remote wilderness of the French Pyrenees, a small band of crusaders and a Cathar heretic are all that stand between God’s Kingdom and Hell on Earth.Lakeof-Fire-vol.1.jpg

When the owner of my LCS not so subtly recommended this to me by putting it in my pull box, I figured that she’s never steered me wrong yet, so why not give it a go? A few hours ago I opened the cover to the five issue collection, unsure of what I’d be getting beyond the notion that it was essentially aliens verses knights, and I didn’t stop reading until the story was done.

I devoured the entire tpb in one sitting and immediately wondered why I hadn’t read about this somewhere before. Why had nobody told me about this before the owner of my LCS told me to read it?

lake of fire q.jpg

Published by Image, Lake Of Fire was written, coloured and lettered by Nathan Fairbairn with art by Matt Smith (no, not the guy who played Doctor Who), the comic does have a fairly straight forward knights verses aliens feel to it – not that that is a bad thing as it allows the characters, action and art to really pop.

Yes, there are the fairly standard typical characters within the story, but while Fairbairn does tread familiar ground with the characters, the major players all feel as though they have a weight about them. You have the grizzled old warrior, the naive young knights and the dark priest all present and accounted for, and yes they are popular fantasy archetypes, but they’re well written archetypes which goes a long way in my book. I’d rather a well written archetype than a shallow character for the sake of originality.

That being said, rather than having the characters face off against a supernatural threat Fairbairn instead pits them against a horde of alien predators. I’ve always been partial to seeing how our ancestors would fair against an extraterrestrial threat, and the collected edition of Lake Of Fire scratches that itch remarkably well.

Matt Smith‘s art couldn’t be better suited to the past-meets-future story; the action sequences are easy to follow and once the comic reaches the midpoint the atmospheric art really amps up the threatening feel of the story itself in a case where Fairbairn’s colouring melds so well with Smith’s line art that it’s hard to believe that two people were involved in creating the visuals for the story.lakeoffire-01_cvrb.jpg

It may seem as if I’m being a little harsh on the story for being relatively straight forward, and that’s not my intent. Lake Of Fire is a fairly easy tale to follow from start to finish, but there are a more layers to the characters than you’d initially expect from the story – such as the relationships between some of the characters – and there’s an underlying theme about acceptance and tolerance in a time when neither of these were encouraged or widely practiced.

As far as recommendations from my LCS go, this is one of the more surprising ones; I didn’t expect much more out of this story than to be able to just pop my feet up with a cup of tea and just relax with a half the story before moving on to something else. Instead I ended up finishing the entire trade in one go and immediately start writing this column. Lake Of Fire is a really enjoyable story that surpasses a lot of the comics currently on the racks – and it’s also entirely self contained.

There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to spotlight the comic this week, but chief among them is that I haven’t heard anything about it anywhere – and that’s why it’s Underrated.


That’s all for this week folks. Join us next week when we talk about something else that falls under the Underrated banner in the comic book world.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 10/29

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

BMMERC_Cv1_2PBatman: The Merciless #1 (DC)– What if Batman fought his war on crime as the literal God of War? After Diana is killed in a battle with Ares, Batman picks up his helm and becomes the Merciless. Thanks to Francis Manapul on art and colors, Batman: The Merciless #1 is one of the most visual stunning Metal tie-ins with a plethora of double page spreads and panels that grip the emotions and senses like Batman cradling Diana in his arms, or little evil Robins eating their Court of the Owls counterparts. Sadly, writer Peter Tomasi skimps on the complex relationship between Diana and Bruce, but mostly redeems this gap with a fun bit of Dr. Strangelove influenced satire as the various paramilitary organizations in the DC Universe scramble to fight the Dark Knights. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Black Panther #166 (Marvel)** – A pretty decent revisionist look at Klaw’s origins from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Leonard Kirk’s art is an improvement over the litany of fill-in artists on offer in recent months, but we’re still very much in “competent, but uninspired” territory here. The trend is positive, but not enough to warrant a “buy” recommendation yet. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Action Comics #990 (DC)** – The penultimate chapter of “The Oz Effect” honestly isn’t much better than the previous three, with fairly nice art from Viktor Bogdanovic that has more personality than most “Big Two” illustration frankly wasted on a Dan Jurgens story that feels very rote and “by-the-numbers” indeed. Mostly events just stall here until a terrible, forced, and drama-free cliffhanger finally cuts things off. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass.

GlitterbombTheFameGame_02-1Glitterbomb: The Fame Game #2 (Image)** – Another dreary and non-dramatic installment in what has to rank as the most disappointing return of 2017. I absolutely loved the first run of “Glitterbomb,” but writer Jim Zub and artist Djibril Morissette-Pham seem to be having a tough time shaking off the rust of their long hiatus. Our protagonist basically just does the exact same thing in this issue as she did in the last, and the horror of offer seems both tepid and shoehorned-in. Oh, how a once-mighty title has fallen. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass

Violent Love #9** – Wow, I didn’t see that coming! One of our two protagonists dies this issue, and both are victims of a massive double-cross. The truncated time frame that follows leads me to believe that this series is being rushed toward a forced conclusion, which is semi-tragic because Frank J. Barbiere’s scripting has been solid and Victor Santos’ art is just plain breathtaking. I’ll be sorry to see this one end. High marks to Ryan Ferrier and Jamie Jones for their superb back-up strip, as well. Overall: 8 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 (**).

Underrated: Descender Volume One: Tin Stars

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: Descender Volume One: Tin Stars

 

 

Descender_01-1.pngI picked up the first volume of Descender the other day because of a recommendation from the owner, and seeing as how she’s never really steered me wrong before and that it was written by Jeff Lemire I figured I’d give it a try. So what’s the series about?

The synopsis reads;

“Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. Written by award-winning creator, Jeff Lemire, Descender is a rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey. Lemire pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic. Created by Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Trillium) and Dustin Nguyen’s (Little Gotham) critically acclaimed, bestselling new science fiction series!”

I won’t lie to you, friends, if it hadn’t been my my LCS’ recommendation I would never have read the first volume in this series – and that would have been quite a shame. Y’see even though I frequently say  that science fiction stories aren’t usually my cup of tea, the  more I seem to read the more I seem to enjoy, so either I’m lying or I never really read any good science fiction before form that opinion – either way that’s not the point right now.DESCENDER_1_Letts_17.0.jpg

Upon opening the first six issue volume of Descender – which you can find for $10 at your LCS – you’ll find an art style that won’t appeal to everyone right away (if you’ve read Little Gotham you’ll know what I mean), but allow yourself a couple of pages and you’ll begin to notice that the art style works incredibly well with the story. Indeed the art and the story mirror each other in that just as you notice that there’s a lot more to Dustin Nguyen‘s art than you’ll initially pick up on in those first few pages, you’ll also begin to realize that Lemire’s plot goes a lot deeper than you’d first expect.

Like all good fantasy and science fiction stories, Descender  (or at least the first volume) will have you thinking about the world around you, and how you react to it, without explicitly telling you what Lemire was thinking about when he was writing the series, lending the work a timeless quality.

Honestly, I’m shocked that I don’t hear more people talking about this series; I’d say it’s one of the best things that Jeff Lemire has written but when the man is as prolific as he is with top notch comics, you’ll forgive me for not giving in to full blown hyperbole. What the first volume  of Descender is, however, is simply fantastic.


That’s all for this week folks. Join us next week when we talk about something else that falls under the Underrated banner in the comic book world.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 10/22

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.


dept h 19.jpgChristopher

Dept H #19 (Dark Horse) Writer and Artist: Matt Kindt The story continues to merge in elements of the past, as the surviving crew arrives at the first many substations. Taking a much darker color scheme than previous issues. Creating a heavy atmosphere of desperation as the world may depend on the survival of the crew. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Joe

Batman #33 (DC) While a bit of a slow burn, I have enjoyed Tom King’s run on Batman, and this issue was no different. After the proposal was answered, we see Bruce and Selina in a far away land (I won’t spoil here), on a secret mission that has everyone more than a little worried. It’s a good set up, and a good addition to this series. Also, Joelle Jones is now on art for this arc, and it’s beautiful. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Mighty Thor #700 (Marvel) While there is a lot of awesome art from many of the great Thor artists, and Aaron writes and sets up more pieces to something bigger, I was hoping for something more. I don’t know if that’s on my expectations, but it is issue 700, and I don’t think it should have served as a set up comic, but something bigger. That being said, it’s still enjoyable and looks great. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Invincible Iron Man #593 (Marvel) Riri and Doom are both given plot threads that are sure to connect again soon. Ben still will never forgive Victor, and that makes sense. As CABLE #150for Riri, Amanda, and MJ, they have a company takeover to worry about, oh and that whole what happened to Tony business. There’s a pretty good cliffhanger at the end that sets things up nicely. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Cable #150 (Marvel) This is another nostalgic X-Book like Gold and Blue. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, I just found it to be a by the numbers, elbow nudging, hey remember this comic. We get Shatterstar, Longshot, Doop, and Cable looking into the death of an External. Brisson has done a solid job on Old Man Logan, and Iron Fist, so he’s shown he can do fun action quite well. If you’re looking for more 90s X-Force stuff, then look no further. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Logan

Batman #33 (DC) With sumptuous desert vistas and sultry glances between the newly engaged Batman and Catwoman, Joelle Jones with the help of colorist Jordie Bellaire immediately puts her mark on the Batman title. If you liked Tom King’s work with Tim Seeley on Grayson, this comic will especially make you smile as Batman and Catwoman go undercover while the Robins past and present crack wise at home about their former or current mentor’s descent into darkness. Jones has a great command over BM_Cv33_dsbody language, and King has a killer sense of self-awareness about Batman’s relationship to his “family”. Batman #33 is worth a read to see Jason, Dick, Duke, and Damian’s reaction to Bruce’s engagement alone. Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

The Wild Storm #8 (DC/WildStorm)** An issue heavy on revelations that successfully eschews feeling like an “info dump.” Warren Ellis is definitely starting to tie his disparate threads into an increasingly-seamless whole, while Jon Davis-Hunt continues to just plain kill it on art. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman: The Drowned #1 (DC)** More dull “What If—?” re-imaginings of Batman, this time with a thoroughly mediocre Batman/Aquaman mash-up script from Mr. Assembly-Line himself, Dan Abnett, and thoroughly uninspired, “New 52”- esque art from Philip Tan and Tyler Kirkham. Four dollars of your money and 15 minutes of your time that you’ll never get back. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass

Batman #33 (DC)** Lavish and sumptuous art from Joelle Jones that oozes atmosphere from the page is almost enough — almost — to make you overlook yet another lackluster Tom King script. The interaction between Robins then and now (and hey, we’ve got a Duke Thomas sighting!) is fun, but the Bat/Cat relationship still reads as stiff and emotionless, and the story is clearly “de-compressed” to the point of feeling hopelessly padded. Shooting a horse at the outset is decidedly un-heroic, as well. Overall: 6 LUKE CAGE #166 1Recommendation: Read — or, more specifically, look at it. 

Luke Cage #166 (Marvel)  A reasonably topical and socially-conscious script from the always-reliable David F. Walker kicks off “Caged!,” a new arc that sees our hero back inside prison walls, but Guillermo Sanna’s art is sparse on detail and even downright lazy-looking in numerous panels. The storyline seems like it has the potential to be interesting, but if a $3.99 book doesn’t look good, I can’t in good conscience recommend buying it. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Shean

Black Panther Prelude #1 (Marvel) In anticipation for the upcoming movie, Marvel decided to release a Prelude, which usually takes place before the upcoming movie, thus one does a different take. The reader is actually taken back before Civil War. We are dropped in the middle of T’Challa struggling with his princely duties as T’Chaka is still alive in this book and his role as the Black Panther, his first meeting with Okoye, and some Wakandans are held hostage. By book’s end, one of the hostage takers has gotten their hands on some Vibranium bullets, and T’Challa might be outgunned. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Deadpool Vs Old Man Logan#1 (Marvel) In the debut issue of what looks to monopolize on Marvel’s most popular characters, we find our heroes in the middle of New York. Deadpool literally bumps into Old Man Logan, where a chase/fight ensues riddled with a ton of jokes. Logan is on his way to help a young mutant while Wade is trying to make money. By issue’s end, Sentinel Services shows up, and both heroes must fight their way out. 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 9/30

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.


 

Patrick

BitchPlanetTF_04-1Bitch Planet Triple Feature #4 (Image)** – This is how you do a spinoff series. First: “Life of a Sportsman” by Marc Deschamps and Mindy Lee goes into the toxic patriarchy of Megaton, with a story (and commentators) that are depressingly familiar to any pro sports fan (I’m thinking especially of Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron & Don). Sara Woolley hits us with “Bodymods,” which takes an extreme situation and renders it even more gross via the banality of the dialogue, Finally, Vita Ayala & Rossi Gifford present “To Be Free…” where a master thief breaks into the Archive of Corruptive Materials. Good stuff all around. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack #1 (Boom!)** – I’m always happy to see a new Jack Burton series, and this one is super fun. Basically: ten years ago Jack accidentally helped bring about the apocalypse. As a reward, he was given his very own retirement spot in Florida behind a wall of fire, where he continues to monologue into his CB – which is no longer attached to anything. A call for help comes from a self-described Very Attractive Woman, and he springs back into action. Things don’t go quite as hoped for (for Jack) but pretty much as expected (by me). John Carpenter & Anthony Burch deliver a fun script that doesn’t mess around, and Jorge Corona’s art is energetic and just cartoony enough without scrimping on detail. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

 

Black-Panther-18-2017Black Panther #18 (Marvel)** – I think it’s time I just admitted it to myself : this thing isn’t going to get any better. My respect for Ta-Nehisi Coates has kept me reading this book long after most folks have apparently left the building (sales started huge, followed by a standard attrition period, but lately they’ve been absolutely nose-diving), but as flawed as “A Nation Under Our Feet” was, at least there were some interesting, if overwrought, ideas at its core —the second major storyline, though, “Avengers Of The New World,” is just completely uninspired drivel. Coates seems to have made the quantum leap from struggling to find his footing in a new medium to bored veteran going through the motions without ever passing through the “solid pro storyteller” phase, and the once-reliable Chris Sprouse is turning out the worst work of his career on pencils here, as well (with Karl Story’s lackluster inks not helping matters), while back-half-of-the-book artist Wilfredo Torres’ stuff is just straight-up embarrassing. In theory, an issue that functions as a lead-in to the long-awaited resuming of hostilities between T’Challa and Klaw should at least be interesting, but in practice this issue is just a frigging drag. It took a year and a half for me to finally get it through my thick skull that this series isn’t ever going improve, but finally got the message. I’m out. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass

Action Comics #988 (DC)** – The second part of “The Oz Effect” is as listless as the first, with a rote and workmanlike recap of how Jor-El survived Krypton’s destruction taking up pretty much the entire issue and a big sign reading “Pure Set-Up For ‘Doomsday Clock’ And Nothing More” hanging over the proceedings. Ryan Sook’s art is okay, although nowhere near his usual standard, and Dan Jurgens’ script is a competent enough hawkeye generationsexecution of editorial dictates, but that’s about it. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass

Detective Comics #965 (DC)** – While we’re on the subject of Mr. Oz/Jor-El and “Doomsday Clock” lead-ins, that’s really all that’s happening in part one of “A Lonely Place Of Living,” as well. James Tynion IV hashes out a re-telling of Tim Drake’s life, and the art team of Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira, who did such stellar work on “Martian Manhunter,” cranks out one mediocre page after another here. Really uninspired stuff all around. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass

Kamandi Challenge #9 (DC)** – Yeah, Tom King’s script for this issue is over-stylized and literally begging to be noticed, but it’s still an effective and harrowing portrayal of captivity and uncertainty, and the glorious black-and-white art from Kevin Eastman (!) and Freddie Williams II is the most visually interesting stuff you’re likely to see in a “Big Two” comic this year. I was having (yet another) “Why do I even bother with Marvel and DC anymore?,” and this comic reminded of why I do. Borderline-magical stuff, this is. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Generations: Hawkeye and Hawkeye #1 (Marvel)** – In what is probably the most “Back to the Future” installment of the Generations series, Kate gets sent back in time to when Clint wore the old school pink and blue suit. In what plays out much like the classic movie, Battle Royale, but with superheroes and supeevillains,Kate and Clinton face of a rogues gallery including his former mentor, Swordsman. The best part of the book is Kate’s thoughts of certain people and events, knowing what she knows, which is always hilarious. By book’s end, Clint finds out who’s been pulling the strings in this game, but to everyone’s surprise, Clint nor Kate are the ones who serve the perpetrator justice.
Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DTC_Cv965_dsLogan

Detective Comics #965 (DC) Tim Drake begins his escape from the prison of Mr. Oz, who is keeping him in prison because he’s intelligent (?). Oz’s motivation isn’t the clearest, but James Tynion and Eddy Barrows successfully make an argument for the importance of Tim Drake to the DCU and by extension, Robin to Batman. It’s another example of how Rebirth is restoring the relationships of the DCU, and I love the snapshot style layouts that Barrows uses. Plus two of the smartest characters in the DCU pulling a prison break should be fun. Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Read


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 9/23

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

ViolentLove_08-1Violent Love #8 (Image)** – Frank J. Barbiere and Victor Santos continue to quietly toil away on the best book almost nobody reads, and ya know what? It’s their loss for passing on it. Our two protagonists finally “hook up” in this issue, and it’s well worth the wait as Santos proves that the only thing he’s better at drawing than noir-esque violence is — noir-esque love, hence the title. Some double-dealings are brought to light, as well, all delivered with a heavy (and awesome) sheen of ’70s grindhouse low-fi panache. The backup strip by Ryan Ferrier and Jamie Jones also continues to impress. Overall: 8.5. Recommendation: Buy

Batman #31 (DC)** – So, now we know what all that build-up surrounding Kite Man was for — he’s a convenient plot device that we had to give a shit about first in order for the timing gimmick he’s put to use as to have any impact. Guess what? It still doesn’t — because telling a long-form storyline through a series of disconnected vignettes just plain doesn’t work. Bless Mikel Janin for still clearly giving his all on art, but man, Tom King just straight-up doesn’t know what he’s doing with this book. Overall: 3. Recommendation: Pass. I purchased my copy because I clearly never learn.

unholy grail 3.jpgUnholy Grail #3 (Aftershock)** – If you’re a sucker for Arthurian lore, as I admit I am, this series pretty much has it all — but man, if you’re unfamiliar with the “source material” (a term I will always hate), I can only imagine how confusing this all would be at this point, because Cullen Bunn’s script pre-supposes fairly solid knowledge of the subject and the heavily-compressed timeline more re-interprets events than it does actually explore them. The whole Guinevere/Lancelot tryst takes center stage this time out, with an intriguing new origin for Morgana LeFay rising from it, and Mirko Colak’s art? Hey, it’s just plain gorgeous. DC needs to put these two on their next re-launch of “The Demon” fast. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Unsound #4 (Boom! Studios)** – Speaking of Cullen Bunn, this “haunted insane asylum” mini-series is getting pretty damn trippy, and this time out we’re treated to a group therapy session from hell — or a neighboring nether-realm of some sort — that brings to light some genuinely creepy shit and leads to another pretty solid cliffhanger. Jack T. Cole’s art is the real star of the book, though, and the fact he’s not cut in on the copyright action for this title is a real crock of shit because he’s the best reason to be buying the comic — and buy it you should. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Whoops, my bad, I already gave that part away.

Shean

defenders 5.jpgDefenders #5 (Marvel) We catch up with our heroes shortly after they battle and capture Diamondback, which leaves Danny Rand hurt. On the way to jail,he is locked up with the Punisher,where a short skirmish takes place in the paddy wagon, where he escapes.The gang splits up scouring the city to find him. The reader finally sees he lands at Black Cat’s lair,where he unloads a striking betrayal. Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Luke Cage #5 (Marvel) What started out as way to pay tribute to someone who he thought was a mentor becomes a fact finding mission and an unlikely reunion. As Luke finds out his mentor is not dead and has steadily experimented on dozens of others. We catch up with him and KevLar who has just killed all his friends as he just realized they were turning them into weapons. By issue’s end, everything comes full circle, justice gets served but not everyone gets out of it clear. Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Generations: Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel #1 (Marvel) Another bending of time and space allows Ms Marvel to enter the same Universe as Captain Marvel. She enters vintage Metropolis where Carolina Danvers works for the Daily Planet and Khamala is am intern. The step back in time is not without is troubles, as Nightscream, a Shiar who has a vendetta with Danvers. By issue’s end, a final skirmish ensues between the three,but both Marvels end victorious. Overall: 9.3 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 9/16

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

PESTILENCE_04Old Man Logan #28 (Marvel)** The last Marvel comic on my pull list these days, and were it not for a very sentimental attachment to Wolverine I’d have likely dropped it awhile back for no other reason than I’ve largely stopped reading Marvel. That said, I’m still really enjoying this series, and seeing Old Man Logan back with Hawkeye again as they confront the Hulk Gang is a nostalgic throwback for the reader (and possibly Logan). Ultimately, a really solid book – and one I don’t regret picking up in the least. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Pestilence #4 (Aftershock)** There’s something to be said about reading about zombies in the medieval times. Frank Tieri has always been hit or miss for me (though truthfully far more hit than miss), and this series one of the hits. The covers are always brilliantly well done and the interior art, to me at least, has an almost Mignola feel to it. If you want something a bit different from the spandex and capes of the Big Two then you could do a lot worse than this medieval zombie story. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #4 (Dark Horse)** – Brian Wood and guest artist extraordinaire Vanessa R. Del Rey (way to leave her name off the cover, Dark Horse) deliver a stunning stand-alone story about a teenage girl looking to get off “The Land” to have an abortion that depicts the topic with the intelligence and sensitivity that it deserves while eschewing any sign of preachiness. Highly skilled stuff, wonderfully illustrated, with no easy answers provided. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Harrow County #25 (Dark Horse)** – Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook celebrate a milestone issue in their rural horror series with a story that not only moves, but downright propels, the narrative forward into dizzyng new territory. I’ve been “on the harrow county 25.jpgfence” about this book for some time despite Crook’s utterly gorgeous art, but as of now, I’m “all in” again, no question. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Action Comics #987 (DC)** – Lenticularize me, baby! Or, ya know, don’t, since the first issue of the much-hyped “The Oz Effect” storyline is the very definition of comic book mediocrity. Viktor Bogdanovic’s art has a little bit more personality (and a little bit less technical proficiency) than most “Rebirth” stuff, but Dan Jurgens’ script is rote and predictable in the extreme, even if “Mr. Oz” doesn’t turn out to be exactly who you assumed he was. In addition, they seem to have laidall their cards on the table with their “big reveal” on the final page of this issue, and it’s hard to see where they go from here — as well as why I should care. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Mister Miracle #2 (DC)** – Tom King and Mitch Gerads settle things down a bit after their “Mulholland Drive”-esque first issue, but it’s still fairly obvious that all is not quite as it appears here. Orion is running the show on New Genesis now, Granny Goodness apparently ain’t so bad, and Barda doesn’t really get killed even though it looks like she does for a minute there. Certainly interesting stuff, but I’m not sure “dialing back” the high weirdness was the right call (hey, time will tell), and Gerads’ art, while certainly damn good for the most part, is so murky in the final two panels that it’s hard to discern what’s even going on in the big “cliffhanger” ending. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Patrick

Mage: The Hero Denied #2 (Image)** – I’m up in the air over this one, but I think so is Kevin. On the one hand, he likes his quiet family life, so he’s trying to minimize the threats he’s facing. On the other, he has to take the necessary steps to protect his family. I think that it’s just that Matt Wagner hasn’t seemed to make up his mind yet about what MageTheHeroDenied_02-1Kevin wants most and what he’s prepared to do to get it, so the story is passive and reactive. There are just enough interesting hooks to keep me going, though: I love Mags’ magic crockpot, for instance, and Kevin’s relationship with his son is complex and real. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Kill Or Be Killed #12 (Image)** – This issue is strictly prosaic and procedural, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, coming from Ed Brubaker. Dylan starts hitting back at the Russians, and he and Kira inch closer. But Sean Phillips’ portrayal of Dylan struck me: he looks ten years older and seriously haunted, especially sitting next to Kira at the movies. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy.

Time & Vine #3 (IDW)** – The mystery – that of Megan’s Aunt Alice – kind of… meanders along here. Three issues in, I’m starting to wonder what this story is really about and what’s driving it. The historical vignettes are interesting – we go back to 1863 and a meeting of the Emancipation Society of New York to talk about slavery, suffrage, and economics – but I’m starting to lose the emotional connection. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Christopher

Dept H #18 (Dark Horse) Writer and Artist: Matt Kindt Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they give you a view of the surface world as a tease. Showing how they have reacted to the H-virus, as it spreads. As what may be their last hope for surfacing falls short. This series continues to draw me, as it progresses. Hopefully, with only two issues scheduled to remain after this, we will be shown how things end. 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 (**).

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 200 Sellers In August

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: Comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for June.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher.

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list, but the only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for May’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why tresspasser 2they’re Underrated.

Trespasser #2 (Alterna)
August Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Unknown
The series about a father and his daughter struggling to survive in a post plague world on a farm, or in the rural countryside, when they’re visited by a harmless injured alien (a little green man type of alien to be specific). After starving for so long, once the alien leaves the family have some food again… The comic is a psychologically chilling tale that explores how far you would be willing to go to provide for your family, and whether sometimes a short term gain is really worth the anguish it will cause eventually.

SexCriminals_20-1.pngSex Criminals #20 (Image)
August Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 297/5,691
When the two lead characters have sex they freeze time; the first time this happens they decide to rob  a bank (because why not?). The series has developed into a cult following, and it’s quality far exceeds the sales numbers on show here.

Unholy Grail #2 (Aftershock)
August Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 254 /7,340
Set around the legend of King Arthur and Merlyn, this series reimagines the old wizard as a demon inhabiting an old man’s flesh. Kinda creepy, but a whole lot of awesome. If you’re a fan of comics without superheroes you could do a lot worse than checking this series out.

DIVINITY_ZERO_COVER-A_RYPDivinity #0 (Valiant)
August Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 229 /8,692
Valiant’s Divinity is a fantastic story that spans three four issue miniseries, and four tie-in comics, which could be a little intimidating if you were to dive into them all at once (but it’s totally worth doing, however) which is where this zero issue comes into play. By giving you an in-story overview of the event Divinity #0 will both prepare you for the next chapter in this exciting series and refresh (or bring you up to date) with the story so far.

 


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/9

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.


Ryan C

BM_Cv30_dsBatman #30 (DC)** – It seems we’re getting as many “interludes” with “The War Of Jokes And Riddles” as we are actual chapters, but I probably shouldn’t complain too much since these Kite-Man stories are a lot better than the confused and disjointed main narrative which just can’t seem to gel. Tom King seems to have a real handle for this character, and Clay and Seth Mann’s art is sharp and striking. As a stand-alone, then, this is plenty good, but as part of the larger narrative, it just adds one more ingredient (albeit a better one) to a murky stew of storytelling. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

World Reader #6 (Aftershock)** – A surprising and quite good wrap-up to Jeff Loveness and Juan Doe’s series that features beautiful, “trippy” cosmic illustration and leaves things on a decidedly metaphysical note. A quick read, to be sure, but one that asks some fairly profound questions and provides no easy answers. My kind of thing all the way. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Postal #22 (Top Cow/Image)** – Another strong issue of the most consistently-underrated comic around, as Bryan Hill and Isaac Goodhart build up to what’s starting to feel very much like a conclusion. Or perhaps just a conclusion to this book as we know it before taking things in a whole new direction? Whatever the case may be, big trouble is headed for Eden, Wyoming, and both creators are hitting a nice stride as the tension ramps up. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy.

Outcast #30 (Skybound/Image) – After a nice run where things really seemed to be happening at a breakneck pace, Robert Kirkman has reverted to his dull and laconic storytelling style with this one, and the dialogue is clunky and contrived as shit. It seems Kyle Barnes is welcoming a new addition to his little makeshift army of exorcists and a new “main bad guy” is on the scene, but whatever. This issue is so poorly scripted that I dare you to care about what’s happening in it. Paul Azaceta’s art continues to be nicely moody bordering on the abstract, but in this installment he’s simply not given much interesting stuff to draw. One big yawn. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Logan

giant days 30Giant Days #30 (BOOM! Studios)– The latest Giant Days is a delightful bit of relationship drama stew from writer John Allison with the usual hilarious reaction shots by artists Max Sarin and Liz Fleming. Daisy’s German girlfriend Ingrid is becoming a little too much for her friends Susan and Esther, whose respective affair with her ex-boyfriend McGraw and friendship with his current girlfriend Emilia all come to a head in one of the more serialized issues of the series. And it works thanks to years of character developments, and laugh out loud visual comedy like the goth Esther transforming into witch phase, shower curtain wearing Stevie Nicks as she tries to keep all the drama straight. Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #5 (Black Mask)– Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss’ juvenile crime/80s period piece comes to a close in dark, exciting fashion. There’s plenty of great pop culture references per usual and some fun uses of nine panel grids for heist planning. However, shit gets real about 2/3 through the book, and there are real consequences to Paige and company’s actions Best of all, Rosenberg and Boss avoid the cardinal sin that some heist stories (Reservoir Dogs gets a pass, obviously) and show the bank robbery in all its glory and tragedy instead of just yammering about it. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Patrick

Black Magick #7 (Image) – “Sometimes you need to make a flame.” That is the BlackMagick_07-1understatement of the issue. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott continue their fascinating occult police procedural. What I dig about this series is how totally grounded and un-pulp-y it is (unlike, say, Weird Detective). Its magic has nothing to do with mysticism: it’s methodical and precise and not for nothing is the word “work” used to describe it. I trust this team that, in the image of this issue, the slow burn of the series will get explosive soon. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Lazarus X+66 #2 (Image) – Greg Rucka has created a raft of tortured and compromised characters for the world of Lazarus, and he’s at his best when he’s exploring the themes of “duty”. So it was great to get a look at Joacquim Morray’s return to his family. It’s pretty emotionally messed-up: though they of course created Joacquim as a Lazarus, they make him feel heartless and mechanical as if he had a choice in the matter; though they forced him to betray Forever, they now require him to prove his loyalty to them. Really nice. Mack Chater’s art is, I think, too Lark-like for what I want out of this sidecar series. If Rucka is going to explore the nooks and crannies of his world, I would like to see art that diverges from the mainline as well. It’s not bad, just not bold enough for me. Overall 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Lady Killer Vol 2 #5 (Dark Horse) – DAYUM Joëlle Jones! The first 4 pages of this one are my favourite thing of the week, and a perfect, quiet introduction to the sheer mayhem that follows. Simply impeccable and full of gorgeous brutality. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Stray Bullets #27 (Image/El Capitan) – So Kretch and Annie hit the road and things go badly wrong immediately. David Lapham takes two emotionally damaged people, gives them some pretty serious physical damage, and then finds a way to have them try to have nice things. Spoiler alert: David Lapham’s characters cannot have nice things. Another clusterf*ck issue of a magnificently f*cked up series. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

New Teen Titans TP Vol 7 (DC Comics) – One of the two last great Wolfman/Perez Titans stories, “The Judas Contract”, is reprinted here, along with its weaker coda, “The End of the H.I.V.E.”. What blows my mind about this period is that, while they were closing the loop on the Trigon/Raven story begun in the Preview and NTT #1 in comic shops, at the very same time they were sending Dick Grayson on his new path as Nightwing AND ending the Terminator/H.I.V.E. story begun in NTT #2. All that was left after this was to give Donna Troy her happy ending, which we’ll see in vol 8. Perez’ covers, inking himself, are stunning. I remember when these were coming out and noticing inkers for the first time. Romeo Tanghal left big shoes to fill. Dick Giordano did a great job on the first 3 parts of “Judas” but I always thought Mike DeCarlo’s style just imposed itself too much on Perez’ pencils. Bonus: the Steve Rude one-shot! Overall: 7.5 (the second story is just too GENERATIONS iron.jpgweak) Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Generations : Ironman/Ironheart #1 (Marvel)-In a true example of quantum physics, Riri Williams get sent to the future, one in which Doctor Strange is 126 years old. The Sorcerer Supreme uses his powers to pull her into a battle with Morgan Le Fay. Although they win the battle, the war is far from over. As she consults with an even older Steve Rogers, she soon realizes the power of change is in her hands. By books’ end, she returns to the present, only to find Tony Stark has gone missing. Overall: 9.2 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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