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Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 1/9/2021

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.


Logan

Future State: The Next Batman #1 (DC)– In the lead story of Future State: The Next Batman #1, John Ridley, Nick Derington, and Tamra Bonvillain paint a picture of Gotham run by private security who shoot masked vigilantes or villains on sight. Ridley uses this first issue to introduce the new Batman, Tim Fox, and show a variety of POVs on this future Gotham from the Fox family to two young kids in Little Santa Prisca who want to join the Banelitos and a cop and an ex-cop and cop, who trade barbs more than banter. The hook for this lead story is Derington’s fluid visuals and Bonvillain’s smooth colors that feels like Batman: The Animated Series with a tougher edge. I also like seeing the contrast between how Tim is seen as a deadbeat by his more outwardly successful brother, Luke, and his cool efficiency in the field.The second story “Outsiders” by Brandon Thomas, Sumit Kumar, Raul Fernandez, and Jordie Bellaire is a tightly plotted fight comic where Duke Thomas gets some kids away from the Magistrate’s domain, and Katana faces an old foe. This is easily one of the coolest Katana comics I’ve read, and Kumar and Fernandez’s loose pencils and ink-slinging plus electric colors from Bellaire show how tenacious a fighter she is even as she still misses her husband Maseo. The sequence everyone is going to be talking about is a double page, multi-staircase fight scene. Add a cool guest star that really progresses the plot, and I’m very excited for the next installment.The third story “Arkham Knights” by Paul Jenkins, Jack Herbert, and Gabe Eltaeb is about Astrid Arkham with armor and plenty of chivalric posturing leading an army of former villains against the Magistrate. It’s Robocop meets Arkham Asylum as Jenkins digs into the psyche of characters like Two-Face, Zsasz, and Clayface, who have all been given different names by Arkham as part of their rehabilitation. Her behavior is definitely weird and cultish, but with a touch of empathy as she makes sure they’re going to therapy. Herbert’s art is photorealistic and chunky, which works for the armored protagonist and antagonist , but not the tone of the story so much. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Eternals #1 (Marvel)– I didn’t really know much about The Eternals before reading this comic, but Kieron Gillen, Esad Ribic, and Matthew Wilson do an excellent job explaining their mythos and also setting up a family drama/murder mystery/battle of the gods narrative. Gillen and Ribic focus on Ikaris and Sprite in the first issue: a powerhouse and trickster type and shows them go about a “typical day” before running into the first of two series hooks. This issue’s secret weapon is Gillen’s narration via The Machine, a device that lets the Eternals teleport around the Earth, which is witty and adds context and exposition in an entertaining way like comparing Deviants to Mogwais from Gremlins. On the visual side, Ribic and Wilson channel their epic work on Thor, but with a degree of removal for humanity. However, Ribic’s facial expressions on close-ups are superb, and when the Eternals interact with each other, it’s like a family reunion with weirder costumes and the archetypal inspiration for world deities. Many creators have aspired to doing the whole “gods with feet of clay” story in the Marvel Universe, but Gillen, Ribic, and Wilson have pulled it off balancing worldbuilding with genuinely funny and cool moments. Also, picking the big guy who likes to hit things is the best kind of POV character to have in a new, complex world. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Future State: Harley Quinn #1 (DC)– Hannibal Lecter (sans cannibalism) and anime meet in Stephanie Phillips, Simone Di Meo, and Tamra Bonvillain’s Future State: Harley Quinn #1. Much of this comic is Dr. Jonathan Crane (He’s put aside his Scarecrow identity.) and Harley Quinn basically having a therapy-off while coming up with psychologically interesting ways to capture various villains in Gotham for the Magistrate. To keep the story interesting and to avoid talking heads, Phillips and Di Meo show Quinn’s schemes to capture characters like Pyg and Firefly in action while she relates them to Crane. However, it’s not all smooth sailing as the Magistrate’s mooks see Crane and Harley as “freaks”, and there’s a little jump scare with his old identity. The animation influenced art with garish, futuristic colors from Bonvillain and focus on Harley Quinn’s knowledge of the human psyche (She has a PhD, folks.) to take down baddies makes for entertaining reading as Phillips and Di Meo set up the real threat in the final pages. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Getting It Together #4 (Image)– Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Jenny D Fine, and Mx Struble’s slice of life goodness wraps up with Grace taking on interior art duties as Lauren moves to L.A. to start a solo career. After the tumultuous events of previous issues, Getting It Together #4 is all about growing up and finding your own path with Sam and Jack rekindling their friendship, and Jack using his art skills to help the queer community instead of just troll for dick. But Lauren and her reactions to LA is the main focus of this final issue as she deals with writer’s block, deadlines, mixed signals, and just the general difficulty of moving to a new, strange place. I love the contrast in Grace’s clean line versus Fine’s more chaotic approach, and he and Struble make a great tag team to show creativity and music visually. Plotwise, Grace and Spahi leave some threads open like the results of Lauren’s first solo show, the new lineup of Nipslip, and of course, Sam and Jack’s relationship so I hope we get more of this relatable and visually soothing series. Overall: 9.2 Verdict: Buy

Hellions #8 (Marvel)– Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia’s Hellions #8 is a tour de force in moral dilemmas, fights against racist robot fights, and draws a dark parallel in how humans treat mutants with how mutants treat A.I. But before the big questions get asked, there lots of blasting, Cameron Hodge monologues, and cheeky Wells-penned one-liners. I love how he gives the “Hodgemind” A.I. a mini character arc as their language changes through their interactions with Havok so the inevitable betrayal hits a little harder in the end. Visually, Segovia’s work is the extreme 90s meets Marvel house style, which personally isn’t my cup of tea, but works with this kind of story and cast of characters. His homage to an early 90s blockbuster via Empath’s abilities is pretty fun and made me like the team asshole if only for a panel or two. Hellions continue to be the most consistent ongoing X-book with its entertaining blend of humor, explosive action, and ongoing moral quandaries. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy

X-Factor #6 (Marvel)– Leah Williams and David Baldeon showcase some fun character interactions and creative use of powers (Together, Eye-Boy, Daken, Rachel Summers, and Prodigy are an unstoppable lie detector), but I’m not really connecting with the “mystery” of Siryn’s multiple deaths in X-Factor #6. It’s like they expect you have to tons of background knowledge about previous X-Factor comics to be emotionally hooked instead of setting it up in the current comic so the “big reveal” with Siryn comes across as a Diet Caffeine Free Phoenix situation. (Because apparently Phoenix belongs to the Avengers office now.) However, X-Factor #6 isn’t a total wash, and the team’s interactions with the British CSI techs is actually pretty funny like a parody of Broadchurch. Speaking of humor, Baldeon does draw some fun facial expressions like Northstar’s reaction to Prodigy wanting to start a body farm so he can basically pioneer the scientific field of mutant decomposition. I really enjoy how Williams writes Prodigy with a thirst for knowledge that matches his abilities and with a dark secret to boot that gets relegated to a data page instead of the main plot, which I honestly have seen before and wish was over. Another criticism I have is that Baldeon draws Polaris and Siryn way too similar, which isn’t good because the big final scene hinges on an interaction between them. I really like the cast of characters in X-Factor, but this storyline is turning out to be skippable. Overall: 6.3 Verdict: Pass

Happy Hour #3 (Ahoy!) Peter Milligan and Michael Montenat give readers our first look at Landor Cohen’s unhappiness commune, and it’s a total shithole with colorist Felipe Sobreiro even using lots of browns. So, yeah, Jerry and Kim aren’t going to find a utopia at the end of their road trip. What they do find is Gleesville, a town that was home to racial unrest and violent incidents, and now executes visitors who aren’t up to par on the level of happiness. Jerry avoids execution by having a genuinely happy moment, and the relationship between him and Kim gets a little tenser as Milligan and Montenant veer away from the dark jokes and into the complicated nature of human interactions. Their relationship is easily the best part of Happy Hour along with its satirical assault on extreme emotions and call to just be a human being and not tell other folks how they should or shouldn’t feel. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Shang-Chi #4 (Marvel) – The series has been good so far and this issue delivers some twists and turns that throw the future into question. Things aren’t quite as clear as if Shang-Chi’s mission is a good thing or not but we get a lot more of the new history the team is crafting and the pacing and action continue to be solid. It’s just been a solid ride so far and a great relaunch of the character. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

X-Men #16 (Marvel) – The series starts its post X of Swords direction with some interesting concepts that don’t quite make a lot of sense for what’s been set up so far. This is one that really plays for the long-time readers, new ones might shrug their shoulders over it. But, the art continues to be nice, so there’s that. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Taskmaster #2 (Marvel) – It’s Taskmaster vs. Hyperion in the start of his mission. The series is a lot of fun with great pacing, humor, and action. This takes a match that’s clearly lopsided and gives it some twists that makes it realistic. I didn’t know I wanted a series with this character but now I want even more. It just nails that entertaining aspect. Overall Rating: 8.5 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: Tokyo Ghost: The Atomic Garden

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:  Tokyo Ghost: The Atomic Garden.


I had never heard of Tokyo Ghost: The Atomic Garden. until I saw the cover of the trade at my LCS, which doesn’t really mean much other than sometimes I miss things. Something about the cover caught my attention as I was putting it on the shelf. There was something about a motorcycle rider stuck full of arrows that made me stop and wonder what the hell I was putting on the shelf, so I flipped the book and read a synopsis that was just curious enough to be immediately interesting, saw Rick Remender’s name and immediately purchased the book.

It never made it to the shelf.

The synopsis that helped to hook me in: The Isles of Los Angeles 2089: Humanity is addicted to technology, a population of unemployed leisure seekers blissfully distracted from toxic contamination, who borrow, steal, and kill to buy their next digital fix. Getting a virtual buzz is the only thing left to live for. It’s the biggest industry, the only industry, the drug everyone needs, and gangsters run it all. And who do these gangsters turn to when they need their rule enforced? Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay. This duo is about to be given a job that will force them out of the familiar squalor of Los Angeles to take down the last tech-less country on Earth: The Garden Nation of Tokyo. You can check out the first issue on Image’s website from this link if you’re curious.

The promise of a story that deals with the dangers of technology wasn’t lost on the person who works with technology every damn day across two jobs and sees the impact of it on another as digital comics are an always present conversation piece at the shop (usually in how they don’t compare, but then that’s to be expected given the people in the conversation are literally buying physical comics at the time).

Remender takes our current obsession with technology to an extreme with Tokyo Ghost, imagining a world that reminds me of the dystopian future of the Matrix with the worst of a Hollywood drug den spread across LA. If Snake Plisken was here, he’d be trying to escape. Through the haze and horror of a tech addicted world, Remender focuses on a Constable, Led Dent, and his tech-free partner Debbie Decay. We see Debbie try to break Led’s all encompassing tech addiction by forcing him to detox… it’s an oddly uncomfortable story that’s all the more powerful by the striking nature of the addiction.

Look, I know you’re reading this on your phone, tablet, laptop or whatever. But this is a book that’ll remind you to go outside in an oddly non-preachy way. It doesn’t hurt that the art is perfectly suited to do what it needs to do; whether in the hell of LA or the relative paradise of Japan… this is a book that you really should be reading.

That the story is good is a byproduct of it’s message – and that’s one we probably all need to listen to (he says as he goes back to surfing the interwebs, where, incidentally, I discovered this is volume one of two, so maybe technology isn’t all bad…).


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

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 8/15

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.


Logan


Big Girls #1
(Image)
– Big Girls #1 is a fun surprisingly socially conscious, and occasionally hilarious take on the kaiju genre from cartoonist Jason Howard. The comic’s basic premise is that some men have a gene that causes them to grow to Godzilla-esque sizes and go on rampages; women have a similar gene, but don’t lose their humanity so some of them get recruited to be “big girls”. (Think Ultraman or the jaegers from Pacific Rim, but less mecha.) Howard’s dialogue spoofs the overly pseudo-science of almost every monster movie while his art is full of energy, and at times, emotion as he is in full ink slinger mode through the whole book. He balances moral dilemmas with cheeky humor and big can of rage-turned-into whoop ass expertly in the protagonist, Ember, who wants to take a more nuanced approach to her job. This all fits into Big Girls’ monsters as a metaphor for toxic masculinity narrative. It’s a bit on the nose, but come on, this a book where a ten foot tall woman unloads a full clip into a giant monster so leave nuance for your Philosophy 101 class. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #11 (Marvel)– After what seems like forced emotions, Gerry Duggan and Stefano Caselli bring the Kate Pryde is having issues with resurrection arc to a close. There are complications along the way, and I hope some of this gets unpacked in future issues and not tossed to the side for X of Swords. Sure, there are Viking funerals, heartfelt tributes from Nightcrawler and Professor X, and even some longing looks from Magik and Rachel, but it seems like they want to jump to the good stuff: all out war against Sebastian Shaw. In probably the most interesting part of the issue, there is a small subplot with Storm getting some Krakoan meds to an X-Desk agent in DC to her mom with dementia. It makes Storm a bit of a wild card in a very pro-mutant society as she strives to help people even if they’re not Krakoan. But, yeah, this was just a pause before all-out war and maybe a bit of a parody of superhero funerals? Who knows, this series has seen better days. Overall: 6.0 Verdict: Pass


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 8/8

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.

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