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.
Action Comics #966 (DC) Superman punches a dinosaur. That’s all you need to know. Overall: 9.25 Recommendation: Buy
Conan The Slayer #4 (Dark Horse) This is just so, so good. The art is fantastic, and Cullen Bunn has such a great grasp on the character that his writing could easily fit the pulp novels of Conan’s origin.Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Detective Comics #943 (DC) As expected after the recent death of an ally, this issue doesn’t shy away from the emotional repercussions that would result from such a loss. I have to say that the new, more human, Batman is a welcome sight – and seeing his emotional struggle, and the pillar of strength that is Batwoman, is going to be an interesting ride. Plus, the new villains look awesome. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Mycroft #3 (Titan) If there was ever any doubt that both Holmes brothers are lovable dicks, then his comic should remove it. Mycroft Holmes is every bit as smart as his more famous brother, and yet just a tad bit less nicer. It makes for a fantastic read from cover to cover. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask Studios) – In the case of full disclosure, I am very biased towards Skeptics writer Tini Howard as a friend, colleague, and a contributor to my recent project “Famous Last Words.” Noting that, that does not take away the fact that The Skeptics is off to a great start, with likable characters who are not the most honest of people, an intriguing plot based around the Cold War, and fantastic character design from Devaki Neogi. Not to mention Jen Hickman’s colors that somehow make the taupe landscape of super secret government research seem vibrant. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read
Saga #39 (Image Comics) – For me, the past couple of arcs of Saga have not quite hit the same resonant notes of the first few arcs. Not to say that it hasn’t been good, but it did feel like it was meandering towards “The War For Phang” in some regard. However, since getting there, it feels like the series is back to its roots, with one makeshift family fighting just to make it. This issue in particular proved to be a very subtle kind of heartbreak as Hazel has to face consequences, mortality and the infinite as a deadly plan unfolds on the other side of the comet. Also, Petrichor might be the best new character in this series.
Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Doom Patrol (DC) is surreal and dream-like but vibrant and actually funny. The Vertigo Era cast and new characters are in the “getting the team together” phase of the story. The tone is exuberantly weird but with a good heart. It feels like classic Vertigo comics of my teen years but I have no idea what a reader looking at this with zero nostalgia would make of it.
I’m just thrilled to see Robotman & Larry Trainor again even though I barely know the original run. The mythology around the series is just that strong and the voices here are just that and the voices here are just that charismatic. Nick Derington’s pencils are fresh and attractive with smart visual humor. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain’s work is beautiful and atmospheric. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Deathstroke 5 (DC): Slade Wilson, deadly mercinary mastermind, is also the worst dad in comics. Deathstroke is a terrible person and Priest never looses place with that unlike many other comics centered on supervillains. His daughter Rose aka Ravager, is still trying to be a horrible person.
It makes for an interesting dynamic when Wilson and his daughter are juxtaposed against Batman and his son in this issue. Batman is majorly overused but it was a blast having him here and a deserved choice. Damian Wayne and Slade verbally sparing is brutal fun. Joe Bennett’s pencils are polished and easy to follow. Nice to see Damian actually depicted as multiracial. Which he is. Overall 8
Civil War #6 (Marvel) – I was one of the people defending Civil War 2 even after issue #3. I liked what Marvel was doing, and enjoy when they take chances. However at this point I just want to see how this event ends. The story seems to be dragging now, and adding an eighth issue puzzles me a lot, especially when I read this issue and felt not a lot happened. I also have an issue with this book costing five bucks. I may be a little more forgiving if it was three or four dollars, but when I am getting more story from books at that price these days, that’s a problem. If you are already reading this series, you may as well continue to see how it ends, but aside from the art, and a cool moment here or there, I cannot really recommend this book. Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass
The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask Studios) – I like a lot of what Black Mask is doing these days, and that is being very different from the other publishers. This continues with this book. It sets up a premise that could prove very interesting, with a classic American vs Russia race to the super weapons, but only with super soldiers with psychic abilities. This series uses an original idea to that premise where there may be more sleight of hand and deception to what is actually happening. I would recommend at least a read, especially if you enjoy espionage, and Cold War antics. Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Skybourne #2 (Boom Studios) – The over the top action and fun continues in the second issue of this series. It is very much an adventure story about a family of immortals that are nearly indestructible. Here we get a peek at The Mountain Top Foundation and their history, as well as what seems to be the main protagonist of the series, Thomas. There are teases of dragons, monsters, magic as this issue explains a bit more of what this series is. I enjoyed my time with it like I would a summer blockbuster film, and it is worth a read. Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Bloodshot U.S.A. #1 (Valiant) – You get a Bloodshot! And you get a Bloodshot! Everyone gets a Bloodshot! This was a very fun first issue, and I have always enjoyed how Valiant embraces their characters and aren’t afraid to go way over the top. This issue has corrupt business men, the other Bloodshots, Ninjak, Livewire, and even a hint that Donald Trump would be a figure head who could be elected when the evil suits raise the Bloodshot army. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Weird Detective #5 (Dark Horse)** – And so we come to the conclusion of this first story, which is a bit of a letdown – like, this could have been 4 issues and rolled a lot harder and weirder. Sana Fayez’ revelation didn’t feel big enough, the climax was underwhelming, and I felt like it was cheating for Greene to remove the madness from Sana’s mind. This series was nowhere near as fun or strange as it could have been. Overall: 6 Recommendation: skip
Betty Boop #1 (Dynamite)** – I love watching Roger Langridge work, and this should be perfect for him… but I wasn’t completely convinced. Mainly, I think, it was the musical numbers: these are never the easiest thing to pull off in comics, and I don’t think they work here. Artist Gisèle Lagacé does a fine job of capturing the style and the fun, but something feels just off for me… A little too paint-by-numbers, maybe. Overall: 6 Recommendation: skip
Black Hammer #4 (Dark Horse)** – Jeff Lemire & Dean Ormiston give us the origin of Abraham Slam, which is a bit on the dull side. These Golden Age characters need more moxie and vim & vigor for me. I’m also not sure about the motivations of all of the characters – the dinner party here, where Abraham invites his new belle Tammy over to meet the “family” has pretty forced drama. Though it was nice to see Colonel Weird step up to save the day. Overall: 6 Recommendation: skip
Descender #16 (Image)**: I really do think that Jeff Lemire is at his best with character studies, and this issue proves it for me. This is the story of Driller, an old driller robot. Funny and poignant, and of course Dustin Nguyen does a great job capturing the darkness of the mines while keeping the story clear. I’m quite enjoying this arc and will be kind of disappointed to return to the plot. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: buy
I Hate Fairyland #10 (Image)** – Skottie Young takes us a hundred years into the future for the Last Battle of Fairyland between post-apocalyptic Gert and her allies, and Duncan the Dragon. I want to give a special shout-out here to colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu: his work on this issue is just stunning, making Duncan a real threat and the end of Fairyland actually terrifying. Another sour candy treat. Overall: 9 Recommendation: buy
Saga #39 (Image)** – This is the best issue in quite a while, bringing back the anything-can-happen sense that brought me on board in the first place. The spring is slowly being coiled and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. Overall: 8 Recommendation: buy
Stray Bullets #19 (Image/El Capitan)** – And yet more horrible people doing horrible things to other horrible people. Beth is in way over her head, but what I love about her character is that she always thinks she can handle it. But Annie is kind of out of her league in terms of sheer craziness. As usual, David Lapham’s work is excellent. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation
The Vision #12 (Marvel)** – A heartbreaking, if predictable, conclusion to Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s superb story that packs an emotional wallop and, in the final panel, signs off with a respectful and subtle hat-tip to, of all people, Alan Moore. Certainly the finest series Marvel has put out in years, this is a title that will be sorely missed — and discussed for many years to come. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy.
Titans #4 (DC)** – For years, fans clamored for the return of the “real” Wally West — but did they ever think he’d be brought back as a sniveling, pathetic coward? Dan Abnett is constructing a travesty of a storyline here that is devoid of anything even remotely resembling intelligence, and Brett Booth’s art is both stylistically dated and, frankly, atrocious. As near to a worthless comic as you’re likely to read. Overall: 0. Recommendation: Pass.
The Hangman #4 (Archie/Dark Circle)** – A rushed and half-assed conclusion to another oft-delayed Dark Circle series, Frank Tieri and Felix Ruiz both clearly mailed this one in even though they curiously decided, probably under editorial duress, to leave things open for a sequel that’s obviously never going to happen. Really lame stuff. Overall: 1. Recommendation: Pass.
Postal #16 (Image/Top Cow)** – An explosive conclusion to the current storyline that wraps things up maybe a little bit too quickly and easily, but nevertheless delivers a real punch to the gut and sets events up to proceed in any number of highly intriguing directions. Bryan Hill and Isaac Goodhart are really hitting a confident creative stride on this series; ignore it at your peril. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy
Batman Beyond #1 (DC)– Sometime in the future, Bruce Wayne is dead and Terry McGuiness is Batman, which is a complete change from the original Batman Beyond origin story. In this story, Terry is raising his kid brother, Matt , while they live in Wayne Manor. This future still has the gang of Jokers terrorizing Gotham, while Terry faces off against Bane-like version of the Joker. By issue’s end , Terry must go undercover in order to infiltrate their organization. Story:9 Art:9 Overall:9.3 Recommendation: Borrow
Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #1 (Marvel): We are introduced to Merlin, who was Sorcerer Supreme in his time fighting against an evil simply known as the Forgotten.Fast Forward a few centuries later, and we find Stephen Strange fighting a who different brand of evil, in Brooklyn. Before our hero could catch his breath, Merlin time travels to recruit him in the return of this same evil. Before issue’s end, we meet several different sorcerers supreme from different timelines, and meet an old friend while saying goodbye to an old one.
Story:9 Art:8 Overall:9.4 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 (**).