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Those Two Geeks Episode Fifty Eight: Comics For Quarantine

Alex and Joe talk about the elephant in the room again, but then start talking about comic book stories that they think you should read that have been released in the last 80 odd years. The recording ends abruptly because we may have talked too long…. which is why there’s no ending.

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 Seven: Spec Books

Alex and Joe talk about the elephant in the room and how people are reacting to Covid 19 before delving into spec books, and how they’re both good and bad in the long run. If you want to jump to the spec books discussion it’s right around 18.58 or so.

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.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For February 2020

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 Diamond’s top 100 sellers for February 2020


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, 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. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Cult Classic Creature Feature #5 (Vault)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 380/1,322
Why You Should Read It:  
I’m usually not drawn to horror comics, but I do tend to enjoy anything Eliot Rahal writes, so I wanted to check this out. Obviously, I’m going to recommend you start with the first issue (or just wait for the trade if you can’t find the individual comics), but this is a great series that (I’m told by friends who do enjoy horror comics) is a great send up to the genre.

Quantum & Woody #2 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 280/4,028
Why You Should Read It: 
Obviously I’m going to be biased toward this, but there’s a very British comics style to the series with the art; the lines, the sheer amount of things occurring on the page (which never once feels overwhelming). There’s a chaotic brilliance to this book – don’t miss this.

Rai #4 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 264/4,900
Why You Should Read It: 
Why yes, I did include this in last month’s version of this comic. And the month before. Because this is frankly the best book on this list (truth be told it was the best one I’d read all month. The series encourages you to ask questions about your place in the world, what it means to be human, when you should resort to violent recourse and how easy it can be to touch the lives of those around you. This comic does all of that whilst still giving you a freaking brilliant book.

Finger Guns #1 (Vault)
Rank/Units Sold: 199/8,418
Why You Should Read It:
What if when you shot a finger gun at somebody you were able to adjust their emotions? This comic throws that into the mix amidst a sense of abandonment and loneliness that we’re all probably familiar with these days.

Ascender #9 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 173/9,970
Why You Should Read It: 
If you haven’t started reading this, then you should. But rather than start with the first issue of Ascender, you really want to pick up the first volume of Descender. You’ll thank me later.

Bang #1 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 159/10,741
Why You Should Read It: 
Matt Kindt once again proves why he’s one of the best writers in the business. There’s a lot to say about this book, but holy moly is it ever wonderful. Go in blind, I did, and it’s worth every moment.

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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 3/14

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.

Shean

Star Wars Bounty Hunters #1 (Marvel)– In an in between story of the original trilogy, we find Boba on a protection job. As we find out that his personal history with the two other Bounty Hunters would conflict. As someone else from Bob’s past resurfaces, we find fan favorite Doctor Aphra looking for a high prized Bounty that puts her in a collision course with Boba. By issue’s end, Boba carrying some precious cargo himself decides to diverge his course, in hopes of meeting this person from his past. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Cable #1 (Marvel) Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto give Cable #1 a really fun, swashbuckling tone beginning with single arena combat between Cable and Wolverine. This young Cable really has a lust for life and marvels at his ability to use weapons, telekinesis, telepathy, and also dating Armor and Pixie at the same time. He’s a classic “superbrat” hero, but Duggan and Noto introduce responsibility into his life with a couple, basically teasers for this storyline and maybe even X of Swords. They’re cool, and Noto uses both a thinner and a more painterly style for the pair of teases. However, they feel a little disjointed to the main story like ending a movie with a trailer for the next one. All in all, Cable #1 has an enjoyable tone, fantastic art and colors from Phil Noto, and introduces a couple of big time threats for the old, grumpy time traveler turned douchey (with a heart of gold) whipper snapper. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Men #8 (Marvel)– X-Men #8 feels like a continuation of Jonathan Hickman’s New Mutants in space arc with art from Mahmud Asrar and guest appearances from the Summers brothers and one of my all time favorite X-supporting characters, the lovable, loquacious Broo. Broo appears in this comic because the mythical Egg King has appeared in Krakoa courtesy of the New Mutants’ space jaunt and has attracted wave after wave of Brood hoard to find it. This leads to the egg getting thrown into space, but not after Asrar ably combines horror and action storytelling in big, damn fight scene as Cyclops and Magik fight off the Brood in Krakoa. Also, there’s a lot of intergalactic politics, but the thread is more difficult to follow compared to New Mutants, and I guess I need to read “War of Kings”. However, it’s nice to see a New Mutants story metastasize into an X-Men story, and Hickman flex those Avengers instead of X-Men muscles. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Adler #2 (Titan)– Lavie Tidhar’s plot starts to unfold in Adler #2 as Irene Adler and Jane Eyre begin their cat and mouse game against Ayesha (From H. Rider Haggard’s She) and Carmilla. Tidhar and Paul McCaffrey go beyond a drawing room and turn this into a sprawling Victorian crime saga, which is its strength as Ayesha takes over Professor Moriarty’s criminal empire while Adler and Eyre search for his murderer. This comic’s weakness is the MacGuffin of “papers”, which appear at the beginning and the end of the book without any real connective tissue to what’s going on in the middle. There’s no suspense because there’s no reason to care about them other than as an opportunity to trot out cameos from Little Orphan Annie (Captured in McCaffrey’s realist style.) and Madame Curie. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read

Aggretsuko #2 (Oni Press)– Jarrett Williams plays on one of the strengths of licensed comics and uses it to explore a character pairing that hasn’t showed up in the Aggretsuko TV show, Retsuko and her vapid deer co-worker, Tsunoda. Tsunoda is still a shallow character, but Williams teases out some of her backstory about how she always wanted to be fashionable, glamorous, and doesn’t mind maxing out credit cards to do so. Sarah Stern uses a pastel palette, including plenty of pinks, to make the flashback scenes pop. All in all, Aggretsuko #2 is a great satire of influencer and consumer culture where philanthropic events aren’t there to help people, but to gain followers and “clout”. Plus it has some high energy death metal growl scenes in the Aggretsuko tradition. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Decorum #1 (Image)– The new creator-owned SF comic from Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston has god-tier visuals from a painted, silent prologue basically doing conquistadors in space to a fight scene using a painted diamond as a projectile weapon. Huddleston can go from scratchy inks to full color painted visuals at the drop of the hat while Hickman’s data pages range from the macro (Factions, planets, all-important backstories) to the micro (The makeup of noodle dish the protagonist is consuming). Like most Hickman works, there’s a lot to process in Decorum #1, but he and Huddleston keep things entertaining by having plenty of cool assassins, gangsters, and space shit to go with the granular worldbuilding. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

SFSX #7 (Image)– SFSX’s first arc comes to a close with Tina Horn and Jen Hickman showing the surviving sex workers at Dirty Mind fighting the patriarchy and not winning any kind of permanent victory, but doing a kind of shot across the bow. Oppression and normalcy might still be the ruling party, but there is still room for kink and queerness out there. Hickman’s art and colors continue to match the high energy of Horn’s thriller plot, but there’s also a sadness to her work too. SFSX #7 is a strong end to the first storyline and leaves you wanting a little more. Overall: 8.3 Verdict: Buy

Hawkeye Freefall #4 (Marvel)– Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt’s Hawkeye Freefall #4 really has it all: dynamic cartooning (The Hawkeye/Spider-Man hand to hand fight is a highlight), body swap hijinks, vigilante action, and awkward interpersonal dynamics. Clint’s motivation to don the Ronin costume shines clearer in this issue as he knows that the Kingpin runs the city so instead of taking him out or the Hood, he’s going to funnel the Hood’s money into a drug treatment center. He’s trying to get to the heart of the problem instead of punching things. There is quite a lot of punching as Daredevil rustles up a task force featuring such varied characters as D-Man, US Agent, Mockingbird, Falcon, and Winter Soldier, but they mostly end up getting duped by an LMD and a Skrull that Hawkeye found breakdancing awkwardly on the subway. Hawkeye Freefall expertly juggles action, comedy, and social conscience, and is easily one of my favorite Marvel releases of 2020 so far. Overall: 9.2 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 (**).

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For January 2020

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 Diamond’s top 100 sellers for January 2020


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, 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. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Uncle Scrooge #53 (IDW)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 338/2,926
Why You Should Read It:  
I will never apologize for enjoying Disney comics. They’re often aimed at kids, but I’ve rarely ever not enjoyed the vibrant four colour pages. Will they ever make my Top Ten Year End lists? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean they’re still not a genuine pleasure to read (I refuse to call them a guilty pleasure).

Rai #3 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 275/5,080
Why You Should Read It: 
There’s something magical about a story that helps you to ask questions about your place in the world, what it means to be human, when you should resort to violent recourse and how easy it can be to touch the lives of those around you. This comic does all of that.

Quantum & Woody #1 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 203/8,958
Why You Should Read It: 
Obviously I’m going to be biased toward this, but there’s a very British comics style to the first issue of the new series. For me, that’s a major plus, but if it’s not a selling point for you, there’s actually a complete story in this comic from start to finish. And I loved it.

Folklords #3 (Boom)
Rank/Units Sold: 189/9,769
Why You Should Read It: 
Thankfully, more people read the third issue than the second, but this is still a criminally underrated comic. It is a book that rewards close attention; far from predictable, this is another Matt Kindt story that you’re going to wish you read.

The Last God #4 (DC/Black Label)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 159/11,967
Why You Should Read It: 
A comic with two stories being told concurrently – the present and the past, with only 30 years in the difference. The book examines what happens when the legends you believe aren’t entirely true, whilst also dealing with how we came to believe in those same legends. Plus, violence, corruption and a lost innocence and naivety.

Once and Future #6 (Boom)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 144/13,548
Why You Should Read It: 
Reimagining King Arthur as something other than the hero we’ve all come to know and love growing up is an interesting wrench to throw into the mix, but then when you add in the modern elements to the tale whilst centering on a main character who has no idea what’s happening… it’s fantastic stuff. Truly brilliant.

.


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 2/8

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.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Logan

 Marauders #7 (Marvel)– Marauders #7 feels more like a collection of scenes than a coherent whole, but it’s another intriguing and humorous chapter in the series from Gerry Duggan and Stefano Casselli. In this issue, we get to see what the Morlocks have been up to in the Dawn of X era, and it’s worth picking up to alone to see Callisto verbally and physically snipe with Storm and Emma Frost while apparently Masque has picked up golf. In comparison to the Callisto/Emma scenes, the rest of the book seems like plot housekeeping with the Marauders picking up more intel on the Homo Verendi and vice versa. Plus the shocking events of the previous issue slowly start to bear fruit. Casselli’s art is solid even if it’s a little house style for my taste, but he does draw some hilarious reaction shots like mutant fashion designer Jumbo Carnation’s reaction to Callisto’s new “do it herself” look. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel)– X-Men/FF #1 is a coming of age tale meets beat ’em up superhero crossover. Chip Zdarsky, the Dodsons, and Laura Martin showcase an ethical debate between Professor X and Reed Richards, Invisible Woman putting Magneto in a forcefield bubble, and of course, an Iceman/Human Torch throwdown among other spectacles. But this comic is really about a father not letting his son grow up and try new things. Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben really care about Franklin’s well-being, especially with the slow loss of his powers and reassure him that it’s okay if he’s just “human”. But, then, there’s the allure of the X-Men and Krakoa where he can be around a found family that understand what he’s going through. The pairing of Kate Pryde and Franklin Richards in a big sister/little brother found family way is a genius move from Zdarsky and the Dodsons as well as a shout out to the first X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover mini. Zdarsky writes her with great empathy while not skimping on the action beats, which is sure to ramp up in the following issue. One critique I did have with the comic is that the art sometimes isn’t up to the Dodsons’ usually standards with some weird framing of the Krakoa gates and facial expressions from Sue Richards that don’t match up to what she’s doing in the story. This might be due to the presence of two guest inkers as well as Rachel Dodson. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

 Crowded #11 (Image)– In the penultimate issue of the second arc of this fun social media dystopia/love story from Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell focus on Charlie and Vita’s new life in a cult-ish compound in New Mexico. They’re connected to Vita’s past (Of course.), and Sebela does a great job of toeing the line between them being just a little weird and overly family friendly and totally messed up. There’s a muted, sanitized feel to Farrell’s colors after glitz, glam, and ultraviolence of Vegas and L.A. However, the intensity of Charlie and Vita’s relationship (They’ve been sleeping together the past couple issues.) reaches new heights in this issue as they try to be open and vulnerable, and it doesn’t really work out. The table is definitely set up for wild story arc conclusion with plenty of guns and sexual tension. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

After Realm Quarterly #1 (Image)– This is an oversized fantasy comic from Michael Avon Oeming and Taki Soma about an elf named Oona, who is too clever for her own good and wants to go on adventures in a world bereft of them. The book is setting after Ragnarok in which the Elven realm decided to isolate itself from the other eight and act as a prison for Loki. Loki’s preying on Oona’s outsider status is the key conflict of After Realm as she doesn’t quite fit in with the other Elves and is always getting kicked out of the ranks of the Elf rangers. Oeming working in fantasy adventure mode is a real treat, and Soma’s color palette sings any time magical powers are used bringing light and intrigue to this grim, post-apocalyptic world. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Elana

X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel)Queer and Jewish themes abound in this new crossover series. As Steven Attewell pointed out on twitter https://twitter.com/StevenAtte…/status/1225117205647581194 — Magneto shows up in the Jewish Homeland (the Lower East Side) telling Franklin to go on Birthright (the Zionist propaganda program that enables Jewish young adults to visit Israel for free— but not Palestine of course). Meanwhile, Sue and Reed are conspiring to suppress their son’s identity and freedom as a mutant. He can “come out when he’s older” more or less. Sounds like a lot of unsupportive parents of queer kids. Damn Chip Zdarsky is good! The Dodson’s art is okay. I don’t love how they do the kids faces but their Kate Pryde is tender and wise. Really excited by this series. Recommendation: Buy it!

Shean

Conan: Battle For The Serpent Crown #1 (Marvel)– In probably the most exciting and funny story to come from the House Of Ideas, is this fish out of water story starring everyone’s favorite Cimmerian. In a story that unfolds like a mix between Birthright, and the movie version of Masters Of The Universe, Conan gets thrown into modern day Las Vegas. Here he gets into some shenanigans with a cat burglar named Nyla who recruits the Barbarian into a dangerous score and run into another skilled thief, Blackcat. By issue’s end, another player may be involved, as we find out they have captured the interest of Mephisto. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Star Wars Darth Vader #1 (Marvel)– I must say, the comic books from The Marvel Star Wars Universe, has been fun and even has given us more than we could have ever asked for in some cases( Doctor Aphra) but it seems the original trilogy has been treated as consecrated grounds until now. In the hands of Greg Pak, he gets to tell a story very reminiscent of Shadows Of The Empire.As we find Vader searching for Luke, shortly after revealing he was his father. By issue’s end, his search takes him to Tattoine and eventually Coruscant, where a person from his past surprisingly reappears. 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: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For December ’19

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 Diamond’s top 100 sellers for December 2019


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, 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. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Ether: Disappearance of Violet Bell #4 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 338/2,700
Why You Should Read It:  
I will never apologize for raving about Matt Kindt. The third volume of Ether, a story about a modern scientist in a fantasy world, has Boone Dias solving a magical mystery using science. It is a magical combination – poor pun intended.

Rai #2 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 267/5,823
Why You Should Read It: 
There’s something magical about a story that helps you to ask questions about your place in the world, what it means to be human, when you should resort to violent recourse and how easy it can be to touch the lives of those around you. This comic does all of that.

Middlewest #13 (Image)
Rank/Units Sold: 209/8,488
Why You Should Read It: 
A young adventurer, a carnival of magicians a destructive tornado and some utterly fantastic artwork. This isn’t your typical coming of age story, and that’s only one of the things that makes it special.

The Last God #2 (DC/Black Label)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 144/12,858
Why You Should Read It: 
A comic with two stories being told concurrently – the present and the past, with only 30 years in the difference. The book examines what happens when the legends you believe aren’t entirely true, whilst also dealing with how we came to believe in those same legends. Plus, violence, corruption and a lost innocence and naivety.

Folklords #2 (Boom)
Rank/Units Sold: 186/9,613
Why You Should Read It: 
A comic that rewards close attention; far from predictable, this is another Matt Kindt story that you’re going to wish you read.

Once and Future #5 (Boom)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 133/14,330
Why You Should Read It: 
Reimagining King Arthur as something other than the hero we’ve all come to know and love growing up is an interesting wrench to throw into the mix, but then when you add in the modern elements to the tale whilst centering on a main character who has no idea what’s happening… it’s fantastic stuff. Truly brilliant.

.


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.

Underrated:Bedlam

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:  Bedlam


I had stopped into my LCS in the middle of a bit of a winter storm on my way home (depending on where you’re from will depend on how bad you’d have found it. I’m in Eastern Canada, and it wasn’t too bad; I could still see across the street and the snow wasn’t super deep), and my friend had just finished reading the first volume of Bedlam written by Nick Spencer with art by Riley Rossmo and colours by Frazier Irving. He suggested I check it out, so I did and started the trek home.

Bedlam was published by Image beginning in 2012 and ran for 11 issues – which was not enough to tell a complete story, but if you stop reading after the first volume you get a solid open-ended thriller comic.

The book focuses on a villain who is essentially the Joker named Madder Red as he tries to navigate the world after being cured of his evil and sadistic desires. We also get to see how the city of Bedlam has moved on since Madder Red’s three year reign of terror, and we join the story just as a new killer begins to haunt the city. Spencer divides the time between revealing more about who Madder Red was whilst also showing who Fillmore Press is now as he tries to help the police capture a killer by using intuition honed by years of being a homicidal maniac himself.

It’s an interesting story that doesn’t shy away from who Fillmore used to be; Spencer never once tries to make Madder Red sympathetic, though we never see Madder Red without his mask during hiss reign of terror or his rehabilitation which left me wondering whether Fillmore was “cured” of the evil, or if he had simply locked it away.

As with any story about a Joker analogue, there is a Batman-like character here called the First (of many) who actually takes a back seat to the police detective Ramirez and Fillmore Press as they attempt to get ahead of the maniac murdering his way across Bedlam. It’s the lack of focus on the superhero that I enjoyed the most, with Ramirez and Press being the focus of the book that gives us a peek behind the curtain of what it would be like working with a reformed villain.

Riley Rossmo and Frazier Irving give the book a haunted horror style presentation, the world shown primarily in monotones or flat grays with only flashes of red standing as the vibrancy on the pages. Almost as if the comic is insinuating that Fillmore Press was only truly alive before his reformation.

It’s an interesting book, and I read both volumes of the trades in one sitting. For me, it certainly started stronger than it ended – but that’s only because I felt it ended in the middle of the story. But such is often the way with comics.

If you see this book when you’re at your LCS, give it a go. It’s a solid read, and I don’t regret the $15 on the buy one get one sale. It’s certainly worth $10 for the first volume alone, so don’t be afraid to grab this when you see it on the shelf if you’re looking for something to read; if you skip it, then you’ll miss an Underrated gem.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For November ’19

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 Diamond’s top 100 sellers for November 2019


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, 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. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Battlepug #1 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 301/3,700
Why You Should Read It:
Mike Norton’s Battlepug is a glorious pastiche of high fantasy that features a fairly straight up barbarian with a giant pug. Think He-Man with a pug instead of Battle Cat and none of the Prince Adam and Cringer crap.

Berserker Unbound #4 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 195/9,382
Why You Should Read It:  
The series as a whole has followed the Mongrel King in his accidental journey to Earth where he came across a homeless man, whom he befriended in the strange lands of New York… it’s a tale of two strangers who find in each other the families they had lost.

Rai #1 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 159/12,332
Why You Should Read It: 
There’s something magical about a story that helps you to ask questions about your place in the world, what it means to be human, when you should resort to violent recourse and how easy it can be to touch the lives of those around you. This comic does all of that in the first issue alone.

The Last God #2 (DC/Black Label)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 141/14,540
Why You Should Read It: 
A comic with two stories being told concurrently – the present and the past, with only 30 years in the difference. The book examines what happens when the legends you believe aren’t entirely true, whilst also dealing with how we came to believe in those same legends. Plus, violence, corruption and a lost innocence and naivety.

Once and Future #4 (Boom) Sales Rank/Units Sold: 101/21,084
Why You Should Read It: 
I usually won’t get so close to the cut off line with this column, so when I am including a book that ranked so high in the sales charts, I hope you realize that’s because it’s an absolutely brilliant story. Reimagining King Arthur as something other than the hero we’ve all come to know and love growing up is an interesting wrench to throw into the mix, but then when you add in the modern elements to the tale whilst centering on a main character who has no idea what’s happening… it’s fantastic stuff. Truly brilliant.

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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 12/7

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.


Joe Hesh

Batman #84 (DC) SPOILERS -So here we are the penultimate issue before the end of City of Bane arc and its two steps forward and one step back. This issue opens with Bruce and Thomas squaring off in the dining area of Wayne Manor, as we are quickly whisked in many many time jumps showing us Thomas’s activities since rejoining us on our Earth. While there are some cool beats there are also many confusing ones. For example we get a Selena Kyle who joins Thomas on his cruade as his Robin but she refers to him as Dad? Its never apparent which Selena this is, is another Selena in the multiverse or is it our Selena and she’s been manipulating Bruce all along. I’m not sure which one. We then see Thomas hunt down everything and anything he sees as a threat to Bruce including shooting our Oswald Cobblepot in the head. (that was interesting) We also get Thomas’s version of Bruce’s famous vow which was cool. I have been a big fan of Thomas Wayne Flashpoint Batman and feel The Button arc is one of the best comics I’ve ever read but the way that King has used him in this is so convoluted and way beyond tough love that it makes any chance for redemption ridiculous. Any outcome other than Bruce killing Thomas for what he has done is not acceptable. King only has one issue to wrap this all up and I have little faith he can accomplish that feat. So once again, the pictures have been grand and I get the impact he’s going for but its just so muddled that it becomes so hard to see Thomas as anything other than an Arkham psycho. This is a character that started so rich and deserves so much more. Like Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” One issue left lets hope King and Co. give us the ending we deserve.
Score: 7 Recommendation: Read

Logan

Thor: The Worthy #1 (Marvel)– In Thor: The Worthy #1, Marvel rustles up some of the greatest creators of Asgardian comic content to tell stories about heroism and perserverance even if your dad isn’t Odin. Legendary Thor writer Walter Simonson teams up with artists Mike Hawthorne, Sal Buscema (Who is 83!), and Tamra Bonvillain to tell a Kirby-esque of Beta Ray Bill, Sif, and a rock troll threatening Asgard. It doubles as an homage to his run, a great Young Thor tale story, and a look back at the underrated relationship between Sif and Bill. The second story by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz is a day in the life of The militarized cop supporting cast hasn’t aged well, but Frenz’s muscular linework and Eric’s salt of the Earth heroism is timeless. There’s even a a fantastic Secret Wars homage, and it reminds readers that the late Eric Masterson was a great, relatable hero in the “extreme” era of the 1990s. The final story from Kathryn Immonen and Tom Reilly is a fantastic Sif and Thor (Jane Foster) team-up as Sif shows Thor the ropes of Asgardian diplomacy, and Thor realizes that she is truly worthy of wielding Mjolnir. The art has a great Kirby meets Simonson vibe to tie it into the first story, and Reilly’s explosive pencils complement Immonen’s witty dialogue nicely. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

James Bond #1 (Dynamite)– The first chapter of Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, and Eric Gapstur’s James Bond ongoing series is relatively Bond-lite, but provides an intriguing look into the world of art forgeries and thefts. After an explosive sex and violence filled cold open with a Will Eisner-esque title page, the comic has the feel of a slick procedural as claims investigator Brandy Keys tries to figure out how a priceless Rothko was forged/stolen. Ayala and Lore assume readers already know Bond so they spend this issue building up Keys as a character and crafting a playground of fine art and ultraviolence. And this issue is a true thrill ride with a conclusion that definitely piqued my interest into seeing how Bond fits into this story. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Die #10 (Image)– The final issue of the “Split the Party” arc definitely lives up to the title as Ash and Izzy take over the fantasy realm of Angria, which was revealed as a creation of a young Charlotte Bronte, in a previous issue. Ash’s descent into evil and authoritarianism has been fun as she has progressed from wanting to exit the world of Die to wanting to play the game. Kieron Gillen falls into some RPG nerdery in this issue (As he has throughout the whole series to be honest), but Stephanie Hans’ art makes concepts like godbinding and dictators compelling and cool. However, some of her best moments happen in muted flashbacks to Dominic Ash finally seeing his wife become pregnant before cutting to Ash taking over Angria. The first arc of Die ended with the game-maker Sol imprisoned, and the party desperately wanting to go home to the real world. However, in the second arc, Gillen and Hans have replaced him with an equally compelling villain as the protagonists (and antagonists) immerse themselves in fantasy quests and realpolitik. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

X-Men #3 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman indulges his weird side and turns in the most entertaining issue of the X-Men ongoing with artists Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. Basically, some 70 and 80-something female botanist and agrochemists called Hordeculture hack Krakoa in the Savage Land and totally put the mutants’ new utopia out of wack so Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Sebastian Shaw investigate and get their asses handed to them. This is a serious problem, but creates some amazing opportunities for comedy like Yu’s hilarious beat panel after one of the Hordeculture spit roasts Emma Frost’s fashion sense. Some of the writing here is straight out of an X-Men meme page (For better or worse), but Hickman and Yu do a good job of showing that there’s trouble in paradise, er, Krakoa. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #3 (Marvel)– Wow, Sebastian Shaw is the worst father ever. Gerry Duggan and Michele Bandini continue to put their proverbial “pieces” on the Hellfire Club board with Sebastian Shaw resurrecting his son Shinobi Shaw to serve as the Red King, and when that didn’t work out thanks to Kate Pryde in the last issue, the Black Bishop. Marauders #3 has the vibe of one of those early season episodes of Game of Thrones (When it was decent show.) where characters are plotting and doing morally questionable things to gain power. The theme of a utopia being undermined continues with Shaw as a throughline from X-Men to Marauders. It’s so cool to see the connections between the X-Books as they blossom into SF realpolitik thrillers instead of the usual superhero fare. Marauder #3’s only key blemish is its art, which has some slick character costume designs and landscapes for the Hellfire Bay, but falters in the emotional storytelling department probably due to the biweekly schedule. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy

Excalibur #3 (Marvel)– Tini Howard and Marcus To combine fantasy action (Jubilee’s son Shogo is a dragon in Otherworld.) with some sharp characterization as Betsy Braddock struggles with her new mantle of Captain Britain, Gambit basically misses Rogue like crazy, and Rictor rejects the call to Krakoa, but may end up an unwitting pawn in Apocalypse’s schemes. Erick Arciniega’s colors are the special sauce that make Otherworld look different from the human world or even Krakoa, and there is a tone of derring do, magic, and high drama in these scenes as Betsy fights Brian and sees nothing in his eyes. However, Excalibur isn’t a straightforward magical fantasy book with Howard and To crafting plenty of intrigue towards the beginning and end of the comic as well as in the diagrams leading to a final page that creates another obstacle for the team. Overall: 8.5 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 (**).

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