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.
Kill the Minotaur TPB (Image): This revisionist re-telling of the Greek legend of Theseus managed to hold my interest but I doubt that I’ll remember much about it next week. Co-writers Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamesa show they can craft a good plot and artist Lukas Ketner graces his pages with a nice blend of Ray Harryhausen and H.R. Giger but the characters are largely trope ridden cliches and the team never manages between themselves to do anything that lifts this treatment above any of the hundreds of times you’ve heard this story before. It’s worth it if you find the single issues in the dollar bin or catch a sale on ComiXology or you find it on the shelf at your local library. Rating: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Motherlands #1 (DC/Vertigo): Tabitha Tubach is a bounty hunter trolling a surreal multiverse for wanted criminals and the daughter of “The Scarlet Sylph”, once one of the most renowned stars of the golden age of “huntertainment”, now disabled and retired. When Tabitha brings in a perp with information regarding one of the most wanted people in existence mother and child must team up to bring them in. Motherlands is far from writer Si Spurrier’s best work. The pacing didn’t feel quite right to me and I saw the last page cliffhanger coming about ten pages in advance. That said I’ve enjoyed enough of his other work (his Legion run was fantastic) to give this one at least one more issue to hook me. The characters are strong, there’s a lot of potential in the concept and the art by Rachael Stott is very good. Stott’s elegant style keeps things detailed without being cluttered and her sense of design provides us with a few weird visions that aren’t quite like anything we’ve seen before. There’s also a nifty bit where letterer Simon Bowland uses the shape of the word balloons to help indicate movement between worlds in the chase scene. Rating: 7 Verdict: Buy.
Eternal (Black Mask): Haunted by ghosts both literal and metaphorical shield maiden Vif must make a stand. This is a gorgeous book. Artist Eric Zawadski has a spare style that recalls Becky Cloonan and he adds lots of flourishes to his layout that enhance the story and draw you into the world of medieval Viking village. Colorist Dee Cunniffe assists the illusion with a muted a muted palette that brilliantly recall the spectres of cold and frost. Ryan K Lindsay’s story is good but it suffers from the constant leaps from past to present. This makes it hard to comprehend on a first read. Still it’s rich enough that you’ll want to read it twice. Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Phoenix Resurrection Jean Grey #5 (Marvel) Even coming up with enough to say for a short review is a challenge. The art by Leinil Francis Yu is up to his usual high standard and Joe Bennett’s is adequate I guess. As to Matthew Rosenberg’s story… well, one mutant character I like is back and another is dead (for now) and yet I felt absolutely nothing after reading this. Maybe I would have a different response had I been reading the series straight along from issue#1, but if you can’t manage to eke out some emotion from the climactic moment in your story then you’ve failed in whatever it was you set out to do as a storyteller. The first part of Dark Phoenix Saga I read was the last and that inspired me to go back and read the whole thing from the beginning. This doesn’t do that at all. I’m hoping X-Men Red#1 will rekindle my love for mighty Marvel’s merry mutants because this issue left me cold. Rating: 5 (and that’s mostly because I like Yu’s art). Recommendation: Pass
Animosity #12 (Aftershock)** – I wanna keep loving Sandor, but Marguerite Bennett is making it tough, as the secrets around everyone’s favorite over-protective dog continue to grow. Unfortunately, the suspense surrounding the current main plot — a humans vs. bees war — has been constructed in a bit more slipshod manner. It still makes for okay reading, but only that — okay reading. Fortunately, while the writing on this frankly over-franchised series has been slipping lately, Rafael De Latorre’s art continues to both shine and consistently improve. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read.
Punisher Max: The Platoon #5 (Marvel/Max)** – The penultimate issue of Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov’s “Punisher In Vietnam” mini-series continues to ramp up the high-wire tension without letting up on either the razor-sharp characterization or the pitch-pitch combat writing. Frank’s left in a real pickle at the end of this one, and how it’s all going to play out is anyone’s guess — quite a feat considering that we all know our protagonist and most of the other principal players are sure to get out alive. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Underwinter: A Field Of Feathers #4 (Image)** – Speaking of penultimate issues, there’s just one more to go in Ray Fawkes’ impressionistic horror series, and he sets the stage for what should probably be a terrific finale by giving away just enough of his hand in this admittedly heavily-expository installment — but not too much. The lush and atmospheric art seals the deal, and all in all I have to say that I’m missing this comic before it’s even over with. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Ark #5 (Aftershock)** – Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe put their first arc on this series to bed with an installment that sees an accidental (and frightening) visit to the Ark by a gaggle on angels that ends with our protagonist seeing his mission changing in abrupt, and sure-to-be-fascinating, fashion. Good as the scripting is, though, for my money Doe’s stylish and darkly atmospheric art and colors are the real star of this book. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Jean Grey #11 (Marvel) Dennis Hopeless and company’s solo story of time displaced Jean Grey and a major chapter in the ongoing “Phoenix saga” comes to a close as Jean battles the cosmic firebird in a kind of limbo between life and death. This purgatory-esque framing narrative provides a great opportunity for Victor Ibanez and Alberto Albuquerque to show Jean fighting in various cool locations like Limbo, the Savage Land, and best of all, the fiery pits of the Days of Future Past reality featuring the hound, Rachel Grey. But the comic isn’t just a fight for time, but young Jean coming to terms with who she is as a woman and X-Man without the Phoenix’s interference. Corresponding to the main story in Phoenix Resurrection, Hopeless finishes out his story by creating a reality where two Jeans can interact and learn from each other and not continually have to fight back and forth for the whims of a flaming avian plot device. I look forward to seeing what future writers do with them. Overall: 8 Verdict: Read
Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack #5 (Boom!)** – In the latest issue of this romp through the apocalyptic future that Jack Burton caused, we throw down with the Three Storms. “There will be no popping! This time will be much weirder!” This series is a hoot: John Carpenter & Anthony Burch’s script has a breakneck pace and Jorge Corona’s art is energetic and expressive, with a cartoony style that still really delivers on the action. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
NOW #2 (Fantagraphics)** – I am so, so very happy that this anthology exists! Not only does it give me the chance to regularly see work by artists I know like Dash Shaw and Sammy Harkham, but I get to discover even more work. At 120 pages it’s the perfect size, too, for a week of bite-sized reading. Highlights this time around for me: Tommi Musturi’s “Samuel”, with colourful landscapes that reminded me of a more formally-precise Peter Max, Anuj Streatha’s “National Bird” (with an absolutely brilliant image at the centre of it that I can’t get out of my head), James Turek’s “Saved” (“Let’s remember/Those throw away days/When going nowhere meant so much”) and Ariel Lopez V.’s hipster Twilight Zone piece “A Perfect Triangle” (and now that I’ve said “hipster Twilight Zone” I just want this artist to do more of them). Go give these people your money so they can make more art. Overall: 7.5 (because, after all, anthology) Recommendation: Buy
Star Wars DJ Most Wanted (Marvel)– Having watched the Last Jedi, honestly it was hard to find a reason to care about Benicio Del Toro’s mysterious character. So when I found out they were doing a prequel story,I wanted to give the character another chance, in hopes of finding out what would happen in the next movie.Unfortunately, that potential was never realized in this story. Sad to say, but fans of Star Wars, should keep moving, nothing worth your time here. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass
Punisher Platoon #5 (Marvel)**– We catch up with the Platoon soon after they get deployed into another high visibility area, one which leaves them more open then they know. Ly Quan, Frank’s “mirror” female version, finds her opportunity to pounce and that’s exactly what she does. This quagmire leaves Frank and the boys, in a position where they can neither retreat nor surrender, as Ly Quan has a taste for blood. By book’s end, it seems the Platoon is as good as dead, but as everyone who has read the Punisher knows, Castle has no quit in him. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Moon Knight #191 (Marvel) – After the wackiness of the last few but fun Moon Knight runs, I wondered where Bemis would take this run. I am happy to report that it is so far so good for Mr. Spector and his friends. The art is great, the plot is crazy fun, and the jokes are funny. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Old Man Logan #34 (Marvel) – Marvel has continued it’s Legacy branded nostalgic trend of tapping into past storylines across their titles, as Old Man Logan digs deep into Madripoor, Silver Samurai, and The Hand. This was a fun issue, and I have enjoyed every issue of Old Man Logan, with this being no different. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).