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.
4001 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
Batman #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
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
A&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
Pencil 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
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 #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.
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 (**).