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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 8/8

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Joe Hesh

Batman #96 (DC Comics)** Wow. I knew Tynion was planning something good, but I didn’t think it would be THIS good. This is shaping up to be the Joker story for the ages. He has really got to Batman this time and he’s not F$%&@*%g around. Not only is he using all of Bruce’s tech and toys, the psychological warfare is leveled up so severe I don’t want it to stop. This needs to be the last battle between these two at least for a long long while (or until Three Jokers) I really dug the effects of Bruce on the toxin seeing his version of a perfect Gotham and the Mr. Freeze children were just so cool! (Yeah it’s an ice pun, sue me) The story keeps escalating at a frenetic pace which is what these events should do. Also that last closing scene. WOW. Chills for that. The art by Jorge Jimenez is so dynamic and ever improving I feel a bit of Greg Capullo in the visuals. That can only be a good thing. I’m loving this team. Loving this book. It shouldn’t be a shock what the verdict is. Overall: 9.6 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Vampire: The Masquerade #1 (Vault Comics) – An interesting adaptation of the classic roleplaying game. It gets the setting of the world down but is to focused on clans and in-game terminology. For fans of the property, it should be interesting but for new readers, it might be a bit difficult to get in to. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights #1 (DC Comics) – There’s some really solid stories in this anthology. For those that aren’t really tied into the main event and just having fun, they work really well riffing on the concept. The one story that’s really tied into the main event, it feels like maybe it’s info should have been in the main event somehow. Still, there’s a lot in here that fans not paying attention to Dark Nights will enjoy and make it worth the price of admission. Bat baby! Overall Rating: 7.95 Recommendation: Buy

Far Sector #7 (DC’s Young Animal) – One of the best series DC is putting out right now. Though this issue might not have the socio-political aspects of the previous six issues, it’s much deeper than its cyberpunk/jacked into the net story might seem. It throws out some really interesting concepts and deepens this interesting world even more. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Strange Adventures #4 (DC Black Label) – This series has been an interesting one shifting its focus from Adam Strange to the man investigating him, Mr. Terrific. His investigations take him to Rann where it’s pretty clear things aren’t what Strange is claiming and there’s a whole conspiracy going on. Hopefully, that conspiracy really pays off beyond “good PR.” Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Young Justice #17 (DC/Wonder Comics)**– Young Justice #17 is an aftermath after a huge battle/Brian Michael Bendis hangout issue. (But co-written by David Walker and drawn by Scott Godlewski.) With the exception of Teen Lantern and John Stewart, this comic slows down the pace a little bit and lets the members of Young Justice spend some time with their mentors in the Justice League while also showing their world from the POV of Yolanda Chan, the daughter of a food truck owner outside the Hall of Justice. Godlewski gets some good acting and facial expressions out of his artwork while using a lot of double spreads to show how superheroes bond like Wonder Girl and Wonder Woman lifting a truck together and talking about leadership, and Impulse and The Flash having a chat about living in the moment in super speed. The issue has the heartwarming effect of getting a genuine compliment from a mentor and adds a dimension of heart to the knock ’em, sock ’em, mediocre storyline in Action Comics with the JL, Young Justice, and Legion of Doom. These are characters I definitely want to spend more time with even if the overarching plot grinds to a halt in Young Justice #17, and it sometimes seems like Bendis and Walker are doing Action Comics damage control. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1 (Marvel)– Rod Reis channels Bill Sienkiewicz (Think New Mutants/Elektra Assassin era) and turns in career best work in Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1, which is basically just Fantomex pulling misdirections on hapless “superteams” ranging from Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos to the Hellfire Club and, of course, Grant Morrison-era New X-Men. This is basically Jonathan Hickman’s biggest acknowledgement to that run yet as he and Reis build an arc for Fantomex showing how he’s changed over the decades with Reis’ art shifting to match his personality from more abstract collage to his usual pencils-to-colors style. Beneath the flashiness, Hickman and Reis pop under the hood to explore a man whose entire life is a fiction. (The Commandos’ jokes about which flavor of Western European he is are priceless.) It’s the best Giant-Size issue since the silent Emma/Jean one and is a flawless marriage of visuals and character study. Maybe, Hickman is at his finest when riffing off Grant Morrison… Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Bad Mother #1 (AWA)– With a different artist, Bad Mother #1 could be a middling vigilante exploitation story with a house wife lead. However, Mike Deodato is the artist and combined with Christa Faust’s writing, the book is like a Lifetime movie with a little more violence and “fucks” thrown in. Deodato’s work is stiff and lifeless like the suburb the protagonist lives in, and his usual bag of tricks, such as inset panels muddle his storytelling even more. Plotwise, Faust blows her big reveal pretty early on, and her characters easily come across like caricatures. I’m a total ACAB guy and think that most cops totally mishandle any kind of domestic violence/sexual assault situation, but even I felt bad for how poorly the police were written in Bad Mother #1. Overall: 4.0 Verdict: Pass

The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1 (DC/Black Label)– Featuring a queer, blue haired nightmare named Ruin cut loose in the waking world, a English Lit PhD student named Lindy, and the Shakespeare authorship hour, G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, and Mat Lopes’ The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1 is really my cup of tea. Robles’ art is gorgeous and filled with humanity; you can see the sadness in Lindy’s eyes when her dissertation advisor says she has nothing original to add to Shakespeare scholarship, and on the flipside, he can do horror and fear when Ruin switches places with Lindy in the Dreaming. (Lopes adds the deepest blues to this sequence.) The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1 gives each character an introduction and makes them three-dimensional before dropping a Sandman-connected plot hook. But Wilson and Robles aren’t weighed down by lore and use the expansive canvas of The Dreaming to tell a love story of an angel and a nightmare while digging into why we love certain authors and works of art. It’s also beautifully laid out, colored, and has funny bits too. (See the interactions with Shakespeare and his “writer’s room”.) Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy. I purchased a copy from Comixology.


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 and Recommendations For The Week Ending 8/1

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Brett

Empyre: Captain America #1 (Marvel) – There’s something just pure about this comic which is very ra-ra in fighting the evil invading forces. It’s simple and a bit of a throwback to war comics of old and it really works because of that. There’s also a nice attention to detail to the area (which GP HQ is actually not far from) which is fun to see. A nice addition to the Empyre event that delivers a little more as to what’s going on. Overall: 7.75 Verdict: Read

Logan

X-Factor #1 (Marvel)– In X-Factor #1, Leah Williams and David Baldeon have crafted a fun addition to the X-Men line with quirky dialogue, a procedural plotline and tone, and plenty of connections to Krakoa and resurrection protocols. From page 2 on, Williams and Baldeon dig into the implications of resurrection on the community of mutants, and it’s very much like waiting in line for the newspaper or trying to get coverage on healthcare.gov. X-Factor isn’t just an arbitrary super team, but fits a role in Krakoan society to bring closure and the possibility of new life for many mutants. Williams and Baldeon establish this through humor and a mini-mystery with Daken getting most of the best lines and his “disaster bisexual” on full display. X-Factor #1 is a fun read with comedic, expressive art from David Baldeon, who is working in the vein of Amanda Conner, but much less detailed, and the ensemble has instant chemistry. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Spider-Man Noir #2 (Marvel)– Margaret Stohl and Juan Ferreyra continue the globe-trotting adventures of private eye Peter Parker and mysterious museum curator Huma Bergmann as they try to figure why a cicada gemstone means so much to everyone from rich patrons of the arts to Nazis. Spider-Man Noir is really a style over substance book. I definitely read for the dialogue that sounds like it came straight out of Nicolas Cage mouth in Into the Spider-Verse, and Ferreyra lush monochromatic visuals, especially in a London chase scene and not the plot per se. But it has a lot of momentum and dash of wit from Stohl, who gets a lot of comedy out of Queens boy Peter Parker trying to hob nob with the rich, famous, and probably fascist at a London soiree. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Lost Soldiers #1 (Image)– Ales Kot, Luca Casalanguida, and Heather Moore tell a harrowing story of two Vietnam vets that have been through shit and continue to wallow in it as part of a clandestine CIA unit that fights for US interests across the Mexico border. This first issue is less about plot and more about establishing the psyche of the characters from flashbacks with different line weights from Casalanguida that fade in and out with a topping of red spot colors from Moore, who calibrates each panel to the emotional state of the character. Kot’s dialogue and captions shifts from the technical (Mission briefs) to poetic as he really tries to capture the spirit of a man who killed a man and can’t stop killing. He and Casalanguida do an excellent job with this non-linear narrative showing how these men progressed from a couple of youngsters shooting the shit about Superman and John Wayne to hardened killers crossing the border. Lost Soldiers #1 is a war comic with a holistic view of its characters instead of hammering home well-worn points or being an action book in realism’s disguise. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

That Texas Blood #2 (Image)– In That Texas Blood #2, Chris Condon and the excellent Jacob Phillips shift perspectives from Sheriff Joe Bob to Randy Terrill, who has left the town for work as a writer elsewhere, and whose brother Travis is the murder victim from the previous issue. The dark underbelly of the town starts to get poked just like the buzzards on Travis’ body. Mundane activities like checking into a hotel and getting a sandwich and coffee at a diner turn into melodrama. And this is where Phillips’ gift with faces comes in handy. By playing with a few lines on a face, he can really convey an emotional state from Randy’s steady emptiness to a waitress’ pure rage and more mysterious look on others. Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips make That Texas Blood #2 a much more interesting read by adding to its narrative tapestry and showing the murder from the victim’s surviving family’s perspective as well as just from the investigator. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy


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

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

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 7/25

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Joe Hesh

Batman #95 (DC) Wow. The war is officially ON. Joker has all of Bruce Wayne’s money and all his toys, but he’s playing for keeps. Clearly he knows Bruce is Batman but doesn’t want to tip his hand yet. We’ve never seen Batman at a complete disadvantage like this before. I got to say it is FUN. Not to mention the Joker buying the theater in Crime Alley where the Wayne’s were murdered is just evil. No quick fix for this jam and I’m really enjoying the inclusion of Punchline. She is getting some good scream time and not a Harley clone. The art by Jorge Jiminez is gorgeous and spectacularly crisp. He’s going to be a superstar for sure. We leave Batman in quite a precarious position at the end and I can not wait to see where it goes. First event in a long time that has already lived up to the hype. Overall: 9.8  Verdict: BUY

Brett

Bliss #1 (Image Comics) – An intriguing start which looks to explore addiction, crime, and what we’d do for our children. It’s visually impressive with a world that’s slightly different but at the same time familiar. The story’s framing is interesting in that it seems to defend the actions of one of the main characters in a trial. This is one that has you stopping to think a lot about it’s themes and world and delivers more than enough to get you to want to come back and explore more. Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

X-Men/Fantastic Four #4 (Marvel)– Of course, the battle between the X-Men and Fantastic Four over Franklin Richards wanting to be a part of Krakoa is chalked up to one big misunderstanding, and they end up fighting against Dr. Doom. And for a minute, Chip Zdarsky and the Dodsons indulge in fun, simple superheroics with epic moments like Nightcrawler teleporting across panels to take out Latviathans, and Kitty Pryde and Franklin Richards sharing an empowering moment. The semi-interesting stuff comes in the clean-up where Xavier and Magneto show how far they’ll go to protect Krakoa and the mutant nation. The Illuminati are no more; it’s all about the mutants. Having Xavier and Magneto work in concert instead of being ideologically opposed is one of the best concepts that Hickman has introduced to the X-line, and Zdarsky does a nice riff of it in X-Men/FF #4 even if most of the book/miniseries conclusion is paint by numbers. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Die #12 (Image)– I don’t know if it’s my unfamiliarity with table top RPGs or what, but Die is starting to become one of my least favorite Kieron Gillen comics although Stephanie Hans’ art is still glorious and horrific as she skillfully riffs and leaps from genre to genre. Die #12 is about a big, fantasy war and is trying to subvert the usual tropes, but it ends up reading like a rulebook than a narrative. The bits with Angela, Matt, and Chuck are a bit more compelling as Angela is confronted by the shade of her daughter and has to figure out what to do with this revelation within the rules of Die. I was pretty bored with this issue, but then Gillen and Hans trot out yet another famous author to spice up the narrative. I don’t have as deep a connection with HG Wells as with J.R.R. Tolkien, but hopefully, his appearance will make the story more interesting and less clinical a la Tolkien’s appearance in Die’s first arc. Overall: 5.8 Verdict: Pass

Decorum #3 (Image)Decorum #3 is less metaphysical and more Morley finally taking her shower-resistant, shorts and noodles obsessed ward Neha Noori Sood to the Sister of Man assassin school. Jonathan Hickman’s dialogue informs character as Morley sees small talk and niceties as a kind of dance to keep the social contract alive while the Sister of Man headmistress uses her words for verbal abuse and making sure only the most hardened of sociopaths join her school. Mike Huddleston channels Ralph Steadman during her moments of beration using sketchy sparse linework before cutting to digital paintings of this more murderous Themiscyra complete with a statue of Zeus popping out of Athena’s head in a reversal of the famous myth. The first two issues of Decorum have been filled with disparate world-building plus the data pages that Hickman loves. On the other hand, Decorum #3 advance the plot of our two leads in a middle chapter that made them even more endearing. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy


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

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

Those Two Geeks Episode Sixty Seven: Are You Buying More Comics Now?

Alex and Joe try to talk about whether you’re going to be buying more or less comics once shops are open (if they’re not doing curbside pick up already), again, and actually do for a bit. For a bit.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Those Two Geeks Episode Sixty Five: We Had A Topic, But We Mostly Ignored It

Alex and Joe try to talk about whether you’re going to be buying more or less comics once shops are open, but get entirely distracted by something else.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Those Two Geeks Episode Sixty Three: Tangents Galore!

Alex and Joe talk about…. uh… I really need to write the descriptions sooner. DC, probably.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Those Two Geeks Episode Sixty Two: What Day Is It?

Alex and Joe talk about…. uh… I really need to write the descriptions sooner. CGC, I think.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Those Two Geeks Episode Sixty One: I Don’t Even Know What We’re Talking About. Probably Comics.

Alex and Joe talk about…. well if you thought last episode was disjointed, just wait till you hear this.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Those Two Geeks Episode Sixty: Wait, We’re Recording?

Alex and Joe talk about Wrestlemania, Jay And Silent Bob Reboot, the impact of COVID-19 and a bunch of other stuff in one of the most disjointed and tangent filled podcasts yet.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Those Two Geeks Episode Fifty Nine: Diamond’s Aren’t A Nerd’s Best Friend

Alex and Joe talk about Diamond no longer shipping to comic stores, and what that means for publishers and comic shops.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

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