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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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 11/30

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

Girl On Film (BOOM!/Archaia)– Shade the Changing Girl and Female Furies writer Cecil Castellucci tells her winding journey to becoming an artist in Girl on Film with artists Vicky Leta, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagon, and Jon Berg. Castellucci’s passion for the art of filmmaking comes through, and the framing sequences with her scientist father expand upon the fragility of memory in creating a memoir while not undermining the events of the story. Girl on Film has great energy and honesty as Cecil navigates New York’s Performing Arts High School, the city’s art and film scene, and Montreal’s general art scene. There are some fun celebrity cameos, but Castellucci weaves them into the story so they don’t seem like namedropping or grandstanding. In fact, Girl On Film comes across as a profoundly humble work with Cecil coming to terms with her lack of technical filmmaking skills and finding new ways to tell stories whether that’s in various bands, young adult novels, and finally, comics. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy

Black Canary Ignite (DC/Zoom)– Black Canary Ignite is a middle grade friendly-friendly fusion of Dinah Lance’s superhero origin and her most recent rock star vigilante solo series from writer Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries) and artist Cara McGee (Dodge City). McGee’s art is adorable and expressive plus she dials up the intensity any time Dinah uses her abilities especially early on when she has no idea what she’s doing. In the early going, Cabot’s writing betrays her inexperience in the comics medium as she describes what is shown in McGee’s art, but she adds some cute wrinkles like Wildcat being Dinah’s P.E. coach and some sassy one-liners. She and McGee are at their finest when focusing on the mother/daughter dynamic between Black Canaries, past and present. Dinah’s first villain is a little weak, but Black Canary Ignite’s slice of life elements are enjoyable. This is one worth skipping for adults and older teens, but is worth a shot for tween and younger readers as well as Black Canary fans hoping for solo content. Overall: 6 Verdict: Pass (I checked out a copy from my local public library.)

Conan 2099 #1 (Marvel)– Gerry Duggan and Roge Antonio turn in the equivalent of a classic Conan with some technological accoutrements (Like flying cars) in Conan 2099 #1. All the tropes are here: Conan struggling with being a good ruler, a magical antagonist, and him turning to wandering once again with the help of a Nova corps helmet. The story doesn’t really place Conan in the context of the 2099 world beyond his kingdom having climate change issues, but Duggan and Antonio nail the fighting, hiding, and heroism parts. The ending is especially heroic and worth reading the whole comic for. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Killadelphia #1 (Image) Killadelphia #1 has some cool ideas like connecting vampirism to systemic injustices and John Adams bringing yellow fever back from the Carribbean, but the whole comic feels disjointed. Writer Rodney Barnes jumps from the current detective Sangster to his father and then some letters and tries to connect these two eras and create an atmosphere of tension and class inequity, but fails at making me connect with the characters or even establishing a decent mystery or hook. However, Jason Shawn Alexander and Luis NCT’s visuals are outstanding and remind me of Kyle Baker almost painterly style on Truth: Red, White, and Blue. Alexander’s layout choices are like fragments of memory and work with Barnes’ storytelling style. Eventually, this might be coherent in trade paperback format, but it fails the first issue hook test. Overall: 5.5 Verdict: Pass

Shean

Punisher 2099 (Marvel)– I will keep this one sweet and short, a similar story to Frank Castle in that tragedy propels him to become a hero but add a dash of Black Mirror and you have this story which honestly feels already outdated and not compelling. Overall: 4.7 Recommendation: Borrow


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 October ’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 October 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: 340/5,040
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.

Black Terror #1 (Dynamite)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 300/6,117
Why You Should Read It: 
I’m always partial to pulp heroes, so this approach with the character having been alive since the 30’s without aging is an interesting take on the heroes of that era. That the comic also seems to touch on the addictive nature of super activity is an added layer that I can’t wait to see peeled away as the series progresses.

Bloodshot #2 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 282/6,891
Why You Should Read It: 
A popcorn action comic that does exactly what it needs to do. There’s nothing subversive about this book (yet), but it’s a great comic if you want to see a killing machine do his thing. Highly recommended.

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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.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For September ’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 September 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.


Banjax #4 (Action Lab)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 522/876
Why You Should Read It:
I said it last month, and I’ll say it again; selling less than a thousand copies is a criminal shame for this comic. Telling the story of a disgraced hero on a last quest to clear up crime in his city before his body succumbs to the cancer that resulted from the use of his powers, Banjax isn’t a comic with a happy ending, and writer Rylend Grant always seems to have another twisted angle on what could be a straight forward story to keep you guessing.

If you’re not going to read this in floppy format, at least check out the trade (assuming it gets one).

Outpost #13 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 388/1,779
Why You Should Read It: 
It may be the penultimate issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading. Actually, what it means is that this is a great time for you to plan to pick up the collected editions in the near future.

Psi-Lords #4 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 292/4,460
Why You Should Read It: 
An epic space romp featuring some utterly fantastic art, and a story that should be read multiple times, this issue is the end of the first arc (or at least where the first trade will end), and it is also a pretty solid jumping on place for yet another strong book from Valiant. .

The Crow Hack Slash #3 (IDW)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 288/4,656
Why You Should Read It:
As a big fan of the Crow, I will always read anything Crow-related. Usually, I end up with a half decent read, but this crossover has been really enjoyable. I’ve never met Hack and Slash before, but after this story, I’m more than likely going to be reading more about them in the future.

Tommy Gun Wizards #2 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 278/5,240
Why You Should Read It:
An interesting mix of genres, it’s exactly what you think it’s going to be. Urban fantasy based around the era of Al Capone (re-imagined as a bootleg magic operator verses alcohol). It’s something different, but incredibly good – and well worth your time and money.

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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 10/19

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.


Ryan C

Batman #81 (DC)** – Woof! Yup, folks, this one’s a dog. Tom King’s Bat-famliy beatdown of old man Wayne sucks, dialogue and narration throughout are awful, and after delivering the goods last issue, John Romita, Jr. is back to his really sorry latter-day type of artwork. One of the biggest “downs” of an up-and-down run that has been saddled with FAR more of the latter. The end can’t come soon enough. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass

Gideon Falls #17 (Image)** – Not digging where Jeff Lemire is going with this storyline so much right now — “Twin Peaks For Dummies” isn’t really getting the job done, sorry — but at least Andrea Sorrentino is just plain BRINGING IT on art. Would be nice if what he was drawing FELT, as well as LOOKED, compelling, though. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Look at it on the shelf, then put it back.

Trees: Three Fates #2 (Image)** – Well, shoot. After a long hiatus, Warren Ellis is really firing on all cylinders here, establishing a tight and uniformly interesting ensemble cast, creating a strong sense of place in his isolated Russian locale, and seriously cranking up the mystery that’s been present throughout this — what do we call it, series of series? Jason Howard’s art continues to be snappy, stylish, and very pleasing to the eye. Even in a crowded week, this book stands as a high-water mark for quality. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Captain America #15 (Marvel) **– Another competent, if unspectacular, script from Ta-Nehisi Coates propels this mildly intriguing story arc forward, and there’s some solid Sharon/Steve dram to be had, but nothing really makes you go “wow!” about any of it. Ditto for the art by Jason Masters, which certainly gets the job done, but doesn’t exactly stick in the memory in any appreciable way. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Logan

X-Men #1 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and a surprisingly okay Leinil Yu show Krakoa in action as they rescue mutant children from the saving humanity organization Orchis before settling down to a Summers family dinner on the blue side of the Moon. Some of Hickman’s writing is really rough early on as Storm and Cyclops seem to have no familiarity with each other and just spout ideology at each other. Yu and Gerry Alanguilan’s action chops drive this opening scenes with some clever applications of Cyclops’ optic blasts and Magneto stealing the show with pure charisma. He’s in pure god mode throughout the comic, and there is something not quite right with the way he interacts with humans and his fellow mutants. (This will probably get the Internet pissed off at me.) However, what elevates X-Men #1 from the Orchis vs. Krakoa schedule, which frankly isn’t super interesting to me personally, is the interactions between the Summers family members. There lots of little great moments like Corsair being wary of the whole Krakoa thing (Include their dish washing techniques), Vulcan’s social awkwardness, and a diagram implying that Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey are a throuple. If X-Men ends up focusing on Cyclops trying to bring some normalcy to the Summers family, it could be a great book. Or it could end up just being an us vs them slugfest with pretentious dialogue from Hickman. Overall: 7.8 Verdict: Read

Steeple #2 (Dark Horse)– John Allison’s funny and weird saga of a young vicar-in-training named Billie and the monster and Satanist infested town of Tredregyn, Cornwall continues in Steeple #2. Allison opens up with a bit of slapstick as Billie forgets to inflate her bike tires and crashes in front of group of teens. Then comes the highlight of the issue, which is the friendship between Billie and Maggie, a motorcycle riding Satanist, who has good advice for getting teenagers into the church. It’s like when my old youth pastor tried to show the appeal of Christian hip hop, but more British as Billie uses “drill” beefs to get teenagers cleaning up garbage and helping the community. However, Steeple #2 isn’t just religious satire, but features some serious sea monster fighting and also the teens making friends with the sea monster’s kid. Maybe, the vicar of Tredregyn’s whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer act is all wrong, and they should be kind and forgive the monsters instead of bashing them with a rock. John Allison’s art style and sense of humor continue to be wonderfully quirky without being twee, and I’m enjoying seeing the world of Tredregyn through Billie’s ancient, innocent eyes. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Cult Classic Creature Feature #1 (Vault)– Eliot Rahal and John Bivens bring an EC Comics meets Stranger Things aesthetic of late horror movies and tweenage and teenage monsters showing their real personalities. Apparently, the color out of the space-type meteorite that made the dinosaurs extinct has returned to small town America and has infected tweens trying out a Ouija board by the lake or rival high school cliques getting into fights at the local fast food drive through. Cult Classic Creature Feature is heavy on atmosphere and light on characterization even though Rahal bakes in some suspense in the last few pages connecting it to the horror host TV show. There are some cool and some clichéd ideas in Cult Classic Creature Feature #1, and it just needs to combined to make a coherent whole. But it’s a book with potential that is drawn the opposite of house style. Overall: 6.5 Verdict: Read


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 For The Week Ending 10/12

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

Event Leviathan #5 (DC Comics) This series has been a fantastic thriller from the beginning but that all has come to an abrupt halt as of this issue. I really dug the two teams of detective’s (Batman’s and Lois’ secret group) but this one had me scratching my head for sure. I know in an event that is large in scope you don’t want the identity to be easily guessed but this one is either going to be so left field that I’m not sure the breadcrumbs lead you there properly OR it will be someone so obscure that “Who cares anyways?” I had a lot of high hopes for this series and thought it would be a resurrected hero or someone who really needed a A list bump up but at this moment my interest has certainly waned. Alex Maleev does a great job on art and I have enjoyed his work since his run with Bendis on Daredevil many moons back. This time though with all the build up, unless Bendis can pull an ace out, this one is an utter dud. Score: 5 (mostly for the art) Recommendation: Pass

Logan

Die #8 (Image)- Die #8 focuses on the Matt the Grief Knight and Ash   the Dictator in the hierarchical land of Angria. Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans’ story isn’t as fun and interesting as last issue’s saga of drinking with hobbit type people and the male gaze applied to the fantasy genre. However, the deep dive into Matt is refreshing as he’s been happy the past 20 years and has a hate hate relationship with the grief blade he chose decades ago. This relationship changes in his big battle against the Knights of Joy when he realize home and family isn’t what it used to be and will be very different if he ever gets out of Die. The fight in the cave has a wonderful sense of atmosphere and a scarlet palette from Stephanie Hans. This isn’t my favorite issue of Die, but the bits focusing on Ash and Matt’s family dynamics both in the real world and Die ring true and a few mysteries are happened upon. Overall: 7.6 Verdict: Read

Ryan C

Detective Comics #1013 (DC) **– Another rather insubstantial script from Peter Tomasi that moves his pervy Mr. Freeze storyline forward just a nudge until a big last-page cliffhanger, at least Doug Mahnke’s art is as sharp as ever, but when that’s all you can say in a comic’s defense, well — that ain’t a whole lot, is it? Not when these things have a $3.99 cover price. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Ice Cream Man #15 (Image)** – Well, this one was creepy AF — -even by this series’ standards. How much we get stuck with by means of genetic inheritance is the question W. Maxwell Prince’s story asks — and the answer, not to give too much away, appears to be “more than we’d probably like.” Martin Morazzo’s art is, as always, crisp, expressive, and pitch-perfect for the material. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Oliver #4 (Image)** – Did you forget about this series? I forgot about this series — and so, apparently, did writer Gary Whitta, who wraps things up (for the arc or for the series? No telling either way)in slapdash and easy fashion — fortunately, Darick Robertson draws the hell out of every line, loads up every panel with stuff worth looking at, and just plain delivers the goods, plus interest. Am I really going to tell you to buy this comic just for the art? Oh, yes I am. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

 Batman Vs. Ra’s Al Ghul #2 (DC) **– The most gonzo book in the “Big Two” publishing schedule ups its game with more nonsensical dialogue, more pointless “talking head” scenes, more lame and uninvolving mystery, more way-off-base characterization, and more weird perspective shots and page layouts that make you realize Neal Adams isn’t just past his prime — he’s gone and left any memories of it in the dust. In other words, this comic will blow your mind, and you pass on it at your peril. Overall: 0 Recommendation: Buy. That’s not a typo.


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 For The Week Ending 10/5

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 #80 (DC Comics)** Having been critical on and off of Tom King, while I have really enjoyed the City of Bane arc and especially the interludes. This one was kind of just … there. The whole issue is essentially an action sequence to set up Batman’s triumphant return to Gotham and the show down with this estranged and deranged father and Bane. So while I certainly love me some JR JR art this was not the case this time as I felt it lacked the punch needed. I really dug the opening with Bruce taking down Bane’s deputies as his Matches Malone persona though.
Him doing the one on one showdown’s reminded me of an old school video game and just going up the tower. Also as much as I love King’s take on Kite Man, this Hell yeah stuff has to stop. It feels like when you knew Snyder couldn’t wait to get to issue #50 just to write the line “Who died and made you Batman?” Only this time it lacked any sort of emotion behind it. I am a very big fan of Bat/Cat relationship (damn the haters) but Selena didn’t do much here.
Since Bruce seems to already know Bane’s plan for Damian with Thomas, I find it doubly hard that he wouldn’t know that Alfred is dead. For me there lies the huge problem. He should not be cool and calm, he should be angry and outraged and ready to break his eternal killing rule. There has been no emotional fallout from Alfred’s death and that is beyond blasphemous. I don’t understand why kill him in such graphic fashion on screen back in issue #77 only to not mention it again?
There is a lot to wrap up here and I know we have a few more chapters but the placement of this issue and its content just seems wacky to me. Normally as of late I would give this rave marks but this one was a very meh of mill for me. Overall: I will be reading to see how this story fills out but this one certainly put a giant penny sized dent in my momentum. Score: 6.5.

Ryan C

The Immortal Hulk #24 (Marvel)** – The most creatively exciting series to come out of “The Big Two” in a good few years keeps on keeping on, with a new and interesting status quo being established by issue’s end while a plot twist NO ONE saw coming — or even fully understands at this point — threatens to complicate matters in some REALLY unexpected ways. Al Ewing is really stepping up his game here, and Joe Bennett’s art is just plain perfect for this kind of “body-horror” material. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #80 (DC)** – With the “City Of Bane” storyline limping toward its anti-climax, Tom King tries his best to redeem another wasted arc with a big cliffhanger, but it’s probably a case of “too little, too late,” and John Romita Jr.’s art really can’t save the proceedings despite looking really nice. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Berserker Unbound #3 (Dark Horse)** – I dunno, Jeff Lemire just seems to be going through the motions with this barbarian-and-homeless-guy “buddy book,”but Mike Deodato Jr;’s art is so innovate and good-looking that it ALMOST makes the book worth a purchase. Notice I say “almost” — as in, not quite. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

DCeased #5 (DC)** – It seems that DC has a legit hit on their hands with this series, but for the life (or should that be death?) of me, I can’t see why : Tom Taylor’s script pulls out every cliche you’d expect in a non-continuity yarn (“You mean I can kill ANYBODY”?), while Trevor Hairsine’s art tries its level best to spice up an overly-obvious story with some gruesomely fun panels that that WOULD be memorable — if they actually mattered to the DC Universe “proper.” Which, again, they don’t. All in all, pretty mediocre stuff. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Logan

Nomen Omen #1 (Image)– This translation of Marco Bucci and Jacopo Camagni’s horror magic story is a little too uneven for me to fully recommend. Bucci’s script never gets a handle over who these young people are supposed to be using shortcuts like social media, birthdays, and mommy problems to establish them. The visuals, especially during the more terror-stricken bits, fare a little better with fragmented panels and a pull away to an image of an overturned 18 wheeler and apples everywhere capturing the fear of being in a crash with a tractor trailer. The ending of the first issue is much more classic slasher, but takes itself too seriously for me to give the next one a try. Overall: 5.5 Verdict: Pass

Copra #1 (Image)– It’s about time I read this super hyped up comic from Michel Fiffe. Copra #1 is a distillation of what made comics like John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad and Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe great, but through a slick auteur lens. What draws me most to this comic is the unique look that Fiffe gives it through his art, layouts, color palette, lettering, and brusque dialogue. It feels like the best old fan comic from 1988, and that’s a compliment. Fiffe also knows there’s a lot of new readers jumping onto the Copra bandwagon thanks to its publication by Image Comics so he does a great job quickly introducing his large cast of characters and then distills the stories of the previous issues (Which I seriously want to read.) at the end of the main story in a way that feels a lot like “Copra Grand Design”. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

House of X #6 (Marvel) Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz conclude the House of X miniseries with a glimpse of Krakoa in action as the Quiet Council creates the first laws and conducts the first trial in the new nation. I love seeing the variety of ethical POVs characters ranging from Jean Grey and Nightcrawler to freaking Apocalypse and, of course, Xavier and Magneto bring to the trial of Sabretooth even though he’s an easy target. Larraz’s grids are perfect for statecraft, and the second part of the comic is a mostly silent celebration of mutantdom complete with Dazzler fireworks and Jean Grey, Logan, Cyclops, and Emma Frost sharing beers. Larraz’s art does the bulk of the storytelling, and he and Hickman get to bask in this new world they’ve created that synthesized X-Men lore as well as acted as a fantastic exercise in speculative fiction, worldbuilding, and even a little statecraft. Overall: 9.5 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/28

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 Age of Rebellion Kylo Ren #1 (Marvel) In an impressive one shot story surrounding Kylo Ren, we get a view of what makes him tick. As he is sent by Snoke to conduct a negotiation, from an uneasy allie. As negotiations turn tense, he kills the leaders of the sovereign state but knows he must kill their deity before it becomes a massacre. By issue’s end, Vader’s legacy still weighs heavy on Kylo, as the shadows of his grandfather has made him the most dangerous man in the universe. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Harleen #1 (DC/Black Label) Stjepan Sejic tells the first chapter of what might end up being the definitive Harley Quinn origin story in Harleen #1. His approach is both operatic and grounded with sequences ranging from a gladiator type battle between Batman and the Joker in the smoky streets of Gotham to meetings that Dr. Quinzel has with Lucius Fox and Harvey Dent about her research into the connection between lack of empathy and sociopathic behavior. Sejic enjoys playing with irony and reader expectations like a full page splash of Quinzel beaming as she’s been transferred to Arkham Asylum to do research complete with sunlight. Harleen #1 is filled with both gorgeous compositions and deep character insights as Stjepan Sejic slowly builds the road from Quinzel seeing Joker as a creature of nightmare to her “Mr. J”. Or in simpler terms, Harleen #1 is Sejic dunking on Paul Dini and Bruce Timm over and over again. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Strikeforce #1 (Marvel) Tini Howard and German Peralta have certainly assembled a team of fun, morally ambiguous characters that work for both action and banter purposes in Strikeforce #1. However, despite the monster baddies, crimson color palette from Jordie Bellaire, and a very Bronze Age Blade flashback, I’m not 100% hooked yet. However, issue one does get the team assembling/expositional heavy lifting out of the way so that hopefully future issues can focus on the monster killing and cool magic shit. Angela and Blade get the best action while Wiccan has the funniest lines. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read

New Mutants War Children #1 (Marvel) Bill Sienkiewicz doing interiors again is a real treat, but this is basically Dark Phoenix Saga with Warlock, and I couldn’t really get invested into Chris Claremont’s script. Overall: 3 Verdict: Pass

SFSX #1 (Image) Tina Horn and Simon Dowling’s comic SFSX is like Bitch Planet with more orgies and vibrators. It’s set in a world of extreme gentrification and repress where one’s sex life can be audited if you’re doing anything other than missionary with a heterosexual spouse. Dowling’s art brings out the emotion in a lead character who tries to conform to this new world order, but honestly it’s not worth it in the end. Overall: 8.6 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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