Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

First Impressions Featuring: A Marvelous Selection!

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s First Impressions where we take a look at a handful of comics in order to discern just how accessible they are for new readers, because every comic could be somebody’s first – and that’s the first question that’ll be answered with this feature. The second is whether you should  start there because sometimes a book could be accessible to new readers but the quality could be less than average, and so each comic will receive a score out of ten based upon Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale.

Where possible we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in, assuming we’ve read any part of the story thus far. All comics were provided for review purposes unless otherwise noted.


 

X-Men Black: Magneto #1 (Marvel)
Can you start here?
Yes
Recap & Review:
I’ve been terribly lax with my X-Men reading over the last few years, and as such I really have no idea what Magneto has been up too lately. However, that’s ultimately irrelevant as this comic contains one of the most powerful and timely stories you’ll read in a long time. Bonus, the back up story (that contnues across the X-Men Black series is also well worth reading).
Score: 9.1

Cosmic Ghost Rider #4 (Marvel)
Can you start here?
Yes
Recap & Review: 
So Frank Castle is the Cosmic Ghost Rider? What rock have I been living under that I didn’t know that? A big one obviously. Without recapping the entire comic, because I can’t, this is still an awesome read. And one that’s good enough for me to want to read the previous three issues.
Score: 9.0

Superior Octopus #1 (Marvel)
Can you start here?
Yes
Recap & Review: 
There’s a lot happening in the Spider-Verse lately, and this is just another comic that could get lost in the shuffle. Which would be a shame for any who enjoyed the Superior Spider-Man series. Yes, there’s a lot of Secret Empire references here, but you don’t need to have read that series to be able to enjoy thi. I didn’t.
Score: 8.9

Shatterstar #1 (Marvel)
Can you start here?
Yes
Recap & Review: 
Eh, it wasn’t bad. A lot of words and narration in this issue which actually serves very well in setting the stage for what’s next, but it didn’t really strike my fancy.
Score: 7.2

What If? Spider-Man #1 (Marvel)
Can you start here?
Yes
Recap & Review: 
As with all What If? stories, the only prerequisite here is you know Spider-Man’s origin. That way you can enoy this otherwise largely forgettable story.
Score: 6.2

What If? X-Men #1 (Marvel)
Can you start here?
Yes
Recap & Review: 
As with all What If? stories… yeah. This isn’t worth your time. It’s kinda like the Matrix, but not as fun as the sequels.
Score: 5.2

Underrated: Scarlet Spider (2012)

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: The 2012 Scarlet Spider run.



Scarlet_Spider_Vol_2_1I have always enjoyed stories about villains becoming heroes. With 2012’s Scarlet Spider we get exactly that. When I originally aded this to my pull list, I had assumed that the Scarlet Spider in question was Ben Reilly in a new costume, and not Kaine. I’m sure had I been reading the Spider-Man comics at the time I’d have known better, but I figured this was a good place to jump on board – and I wasn’t wrong.

But not for the reasons I expected. Instead of a heroic story featuring Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spiderdelivered something I wasn’t expecting – and ended up loving more than I thought I would.

The story starts with Kaine trying to get to Mexico, having recently been cured of the cellular degeneration he was suffering as a clone (it’s a whole thing that’s explained in multiple stories and other resources), he’s seeking a chance to finally live his life free of the constant agony he used to suffer. But, as with any good story featuring a Spider, things inevitably get in the way of that and Kaine gets stuck in Houston, quickly becoming the city’s own resident super hero. The series was written by Chistopher Yost, who was joined by a variety of hugely talented pencillers, inkers and colourists throughout the series 25 issue run (there were also  couple of specials and tie-in issues that bulk up the issue count if you want the whole story).

The full run remains one of my favourite Spider stories, in part because of the redemptive nature, but also because it’s just really good. But like all series that features a lesser known character it was cancelled because of low sales. Scarlet Spider is a brilliant alternate to Spider-Man as we see a hero with, as the tag line so eloquently puts it, “all of the power, and none of the responsibility.” But Kaine is still a Parker, and as he begrudgingly accepts the responsibility of being the Scarlet Spider, we get to see a villain slowly change into (well, almost) a hero.

This is a fantastic run, easily one of my favourite parts of my collection, but it’s one I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


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

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 9/29

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

damned 1.jpg Batman: Damned #1 (DC Comics)** So lets see.. um damn. Not because of the story because it’s pretty basic. Not because of the art because its gorgeous as all Lee Bermejo’s work is. No I say damn because of the sheer attention this book has got due to one”member” of the cast. That’s right all hail the debut of the mighty “Batcock”. Yes that is right after 80 years of printing we get little Bruce in all his painted on cardstock glory. Honestly. Like [Graphic Policy’s Blogger-in-Chief] Brett pointed out this was complete marketing genius here. Could the book have gained such fan fare on it’s own? Possibly. However thanks to Batman’s rod, this thing has become a magnet for collectors and readers alike. Rumor is the next printing will not even feature this new guest. Now I applaud DC for putting this out. It distinctly separates the men from the boys of who is collecting comics. I just hope DC don’t stop here. I want to see Black Label really push the boundaries. We’ve gone too far to come back now. Bring on #2. Score: 8 (9.9 for the historical significance and shock value) Recommendation: Buy. Seeing is believing and this will be sought after. We live in crazy times.

Ashley

ManEaters_01-1Maneaters #1 (Image Comics) – Dammit, Chelsea Cain. I love her run on Mockingbird and my heart absolutely feels for the Vision cancellation, but this book is quite frankly uncomfortably gender essentialist. The idea of a society where something has caused young girls to shapeshift into large cats is a fun idea, especially when Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine Delandro have been doing biting and funny commentary on Bitch Planet and it feels like it should be a natural extension of Mockingbird #3. In some ways, it is. However, when that idea revolves around the menstrual cycle, that’s when I turn off. I am a cis woman who experiences periods, yes, but the idea immediately turns into the cheap type of feminism that revolves around the uterus as womanhood when I know plenty of men and non-binary people who have uteruses as well. Not to mention the random bit at the beginning ragging on prostitutes that is especially tone deaf in the era of sex workers speaking out against FOSTA-SESTA. The art and colors by Kate Niemczyk and Rachelle Rosenberg respectively is great and there is still a humor there that existed in Mockingbird, the first couple of pages are genuinely funny and Cain shows that she has a real knack for writing teenage girls that makes me wonder what she could have done with Viv Vision, but it’s not enough to save it from the essentialist language. I hope future issues can only improve on some of the ground work laid here. Score: 3 Recommendation: Skip

The Wicked and The Divine 1373 (Image) – I have read a lot of heavily Catholic influenced books, but this one, where Lucifer of the cycle of the Black Plague is a nun, takes the cake. Back in issue #36, we saw a bit of Ananke during this period, but we have a greater idea here as Gillen writes Lucifer taking her final confession. The Lucifer here is unlike any previously shown in the comic, replacing the swagger of 1831, 1923 and 2013 with piousness. The anger stays consistent though and the tension here might just be the greatest the comic has seen, and that’s saying a lot considering the levels “Mothering Invention” reached. The best part though has to be the level Ryan Kelly and Matthew Wilson are working at together on art and colors. Just by her eyes alone, Lucifer tells you her whole story about the kind of person she was even before divinity. Does it answer any questions of the upcoming final arc? I’m not certain, but it does at least feel explosive. Score: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Captain America Annual #1 (Marvel) – I meant to review this last week and usually I am 100% okay with just letting that go, but this book is legitimately so good that I can’t stop singing its praises. Tini Howard wrote a story about Cap and Bucky that takes place during the war, but it couldn’t feel more timely. While fighting Nazis behind enemy lines, the duo encounter three concentration camp escapees. They decide to help them out and it leads to an emotional story that gets to the core of what Captain America is and should be: the good hearted kid from Brooklyn who was made for punching Nazis and fights for everyone, even those who are nothing like him. Not to mention Chris Sprouse and Ron Lim’s art is to die for, especially on that last page. This story is the epitome of “No, you move” and should be essential Captain America reading. Rating: 10 Recommendation: Buy

The Life of Captain Marvel #3 (Marvel) – You guys, Margaret Stohl just completely changed the game here. The story always promised to get at Carol’s backstory and shake things up in a much needed way, but I honestly did not expect what Stohl pulled out of her hat for this one. Also, any negative things I said about Carlos Pachecho’s art before, I would like to take back. The further he gets into drawing this series, the more the characters seem to come naturally to the page and it leads to some truly emotional and shocking moments in tandem with the writing. It’s hard to talk about this issue without spoiling, so all I’m going to say is make it your mission to find this book. Rating: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Redneck_15-1Heroes In Crisis #1 (DC)** – So, you figured that the “A-list” creative team meant this would be better than the average clusterfuck “Big Two” crossover “event”? You thought wrong. Clay Mann’s art is slick and easy on the eyes but utterly free of personality, while Tom King’s script is bog-standard stuff: this “Sanctuary” we’ve been hearing so much about is already (REDACTED) at the start of the story, and the “major deaths” of (REDACTED) are sure to be un-done, probably before this thing is even over. As for the minor characters, who knows? Maybe they’re actually dead, but who cares? All the action is “off-screen” here, and King’s characters in this comic, as is the case elsewhere, all sound exactly the same. A complete waste of four bucks. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass

 Redneck #15 (Image/Skybound)** – A nice change-of-pace issue, as the Bowmans get a little bit of a breather, and even a chance to enjoy themselves a bit. The R and R won’t last, though, Donny Cates’ script makes that clear, but it’s fun while it lasts — and some folks get to have even more fun than others. As always, Lisandro Estherren’s art is compelling and stylish, and he handles a “non-horror” issue just as well as he does everything else. A really fun read that regular readers are going to absolutely love. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Wicked + The Divine: 1373 AD One-Shot Special #1 (Image)** – Continuing the recent uptick in this series after it hit its nadir midway through the last arc, this final stand-alone “special” features lush and darkly gorgeous art from Ryan Kelly, a crackerjack script from Kieron Gillen, and a uniquely revisionist take on the origins of the Black Plague — as well as some terrific characterization and a couple of genuinely horrific scenes. Very solid stuff all around. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Bone Parish #3 (Boom! Studios)** – A brisk and action-centric installment in this intriguing horror mini-series sees Cullen Bunn in top form delivering a sharp and concise script, with atmospheric and suitably “creepy” art from Jonas Scharf that really hits the mark — especially when it comes to the jaw-dropping cliffhanger on the final page. Trust me — you won’t see this one coming! Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

Domino Annual #1 (Marvel) – In what plays out as a fan letter to the character, we get a duo of stories that reminds fans how whimsical the character has always been. In the first story, we get to see how Domino puts a team together by chance. In the second story, we find Domino and Cable trading war stories. By issue’s end, we get quite an appreciation for a character who should grab more of the spotlight. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

heroes in crises.jpgJon

Heroes in Crisis #1 (DC Comics). I was not impressed. Tom King is a perfectly capable writer and the art by Clay Mann is good but I just couldn’t bring myself to care. Even though a character I loved as a kid is found dead, the moment felt hollow because there is no real set up to deliver a proper emotional punch. Instead of making me examine any real pain (as a book about trauma should ideally do) I just kept getting flashbacks to Identity Crisis. I hope this story is better than that but I see unrevealed sexual assaults and mindwipes on the horizon. Rating:5 (8 for art). Recommendation: 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 (**).

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For August ’18

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 August


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, 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 100 for July’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


 

 

Valiant High #4 (Valiant)
August Sales Rank/Units Sold: 405/2,100
Why You Should Read It:
Do you like Archie Comics? Are you a fan of reimagined superheroes? Then this is a series you’ll want to check out. Obviously familiarity with Valiant will help, but this four issue mini (or the trade) is still enjoyable if you’re new to the company’s comics. And you get a great idea as to who they key characters are if you don’t know, too.

Walt Disney Showcase #6 (IDW)
August Sales Rank/Units Sold: 366/2,693
Why You Should Read It:
Sometimes, you just need a little bit of something different in your comics reading. Especially if you’re more inclined to longer, darker stories the likes of which you don’t get here because it’s Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Plus the Disney comics are just fun.

Ninja-K #10 (Valiant)
August Sales Rank/Units Sold: 314/3,608
Why You Should Read It: 
Because the standalone (relatively) nature of this story is a great intrduction to the characters within and the nature of the story that’s unfolding. Plus, there’s all the high tech ninja action you could hope for in a comic that also tells a quality story.

Terminator Sector War #1 (Dark Horse)
August Sales Rank/Units Sold: 201/7,626
Why You Should Read It:
Are you a Terminator fan? If you are, then this comic is a must read. Sarah Connor wasn’t the only target of Skynet in the 80’s. There was another target – a police officer – who also gives birth to an important resistance leader.

Multiple Man #3 (Marvel)
August Sales Rank/Units Sold: 144/14,462
Why You Should Read It: 
Because Mathew Rosenberg’s writing is perfectly suited to this style of story. As a five issue miniseries, you may want to wait for the trade at this point, but there’s nothing stopping you from hunting the back issues if you want to experience this story. And you should. Because it’s awesome on multiple levels (see what I did there?).



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 9/15

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.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Joe Hesh

WOLVERETURN2018001_DIGITAL_covAmazing Spider-Man # 5 (Marvel) Ok. I love Dan Slott and is still probably my favorite Spider-Man writer but Nick Spencer’s run is just plain fun. We have Pete and MJ back. A Spider-Man that cracks jokes and a mystery villian to top it all off! Great art by Ryan Ottley and no slowing down. The Peter/Spidey dynamic has been awesome for this arc and the resolution was priceless. I’m on for this thrill ride. Of course the fact that I picked up Spider-Man for PS4 helps a bit with Spidey Fever. It’s a good time right now. Not momentous issue but not cringe either. Right in the middle. Overall: Good read, plain fun. Score: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Return of Wolverine #1 (Marvel)* Well nothing stays dead forever in the Marvel U, especially if it’s short, angry and can pop claws. Logan is back and the journey is fixing to be fun. Everything about this book grabbed me. The art by Steve McNiven is always crisp, the colors were vibrant, the script by Charles Soule and of course the violence. Logan is once again a man out of mind and he needs to find his way back. Sure he’s alive but how? Why? Well we are going to find out. Also if that wasnt enough we get a cool explanation for his classic yellow and blue and a new uniform to boot. Buckle up bub it’s going to be a bloody ride! Score: 9 Reccomendation: Buy 

Ryan C

Black Hammer: Age Of Doom #5 (Dark Horse)** – This is it, the issue when Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston reveal all — for now. Some nice surprises, and a jarring shift in the overall narrative through-line, promise to keep the momentum going here, and you may as well enjoy Haspiel’s always-terrific art, since he’s taking the next couple of months off. bhaod.jpgNormally I’d complain, but with Rich Tommaso stepping in, we’re in more than capable hands. We always are with this book. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Batman #55 (DC)** – Tom King is joined once again by Tony S, Daniel on art, and the results are no more satisfying than their much-maligned Booster Gold/Batman team-up storyline. Batman and Nightwing beat up some zombies and an evil Pharaoh-wannabe, while some Russian bad-ass starts cutting a bloody swathe through Gotham for reasons that remain as unknown as the answer to the question “why the hell am I still reading this book”? Decidedly mediocre stuff. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass

Mister Miracle #11 (DC)** – With one issue to go, it looks like Tom King and Mitch Gerads are about to wrap things up quick and clean here — but behind Darkseid’s throne there lies an even more malevolent power that Scott and Barda (and me, I admit it)never saw coming. We all should have , though, because it all makes perfect sense — even if we don’t know what’s happening. Best art of the series so far in this installment, as well. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Days Of Hate #8 (Image)** – The art of Danijel Zezelj continues to impress, even to inspire awe, while the scripting of Ales Kot does anything but. I swear, it’s like he’s just stretching out a one-issue finale to fill up six issues. This series looked like it had some real potential at the outset but looks, as always, were deceiving. I don’t even think I’m gonna bother riding this one out to the end. Overall: 3.5 Recommendation: Pass 

Shean

Infinity Wars: Soldier Supreme #1 (Marvel)– In an amalgam of two heroes, we find ourselves in an alternate universe where we get a cross between Dr Strange and Captain America during World War II. In this universe, we meet Stephen Rogers, who is picked to become a super soldier, instead become a powerful Sorcerer what happens to be a soldier. We follow him through a very familiar origin story but with a few twists. By issue’s end, he faces an old foe, who works for Hitler. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Captain America Annual #1 (Marvel)– Tini Howard makes a fantastic Marvel debut with a story of Bucky and Cap rescuing 2 Romani women and a gay Soviet man from Nazis along with artists Chris Sprouse and Ron Lim, who provide some old school shield throwing, Nazi punching escapades. From the opening sequence set in the forests of Germany to the final iconic splash page, the comic is a tribute to Cap’s never ending fight against genocide and hatred. Along the way, we get to know Marta, Volya, and Iskra and have a real stake in their safety as Cap and Bucky hatch a plan to get them away from the pursuers. I will never forget the image of Marta wielding a pistol and defending herself; dtdoashe also has a sense of humor and roasts Cap’s costume. These small bits of humor are a good relief from the heavier subject material. Overall: 9.8 Verdict: Buy

 Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (Marvel) Saladin Ahmed, Garry Brown, and Lee Loughridge kick it old school in a story set in the 1980s from the POV of the alien symbiote. The symbiote sees that Spider-Man is a confident hero (“Full of meat”) while Peter Parker has anxiety about his job and personal life so it decides to “drive” for a while and fight crime as just the symbiote while Peter sleeps his life away. What follows is pretty chilling, body snatcher type story of the alien symbiote taking down Hammerhead’s organization sans the humanity of Spider-Man. He still has a little bit of a heroic side showing that Peter’s responsibility is still in there somewhere. Brown’s art is scratchy and fluid just like the symbiote, and Loughridge goes for a darker palette than the usual bright superheroics. This comic is evidence that continuity can lead to great stories. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Venom #6 (Marvel)– Venom fights the symbiote god himself in the conclusion to Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s arc on one of Marvel’s best current series. It opens up with a 20 panel grid and doesn’t put on the brakes once as Eddie and SHIELD vet who is totally consumed by his symbiote host Rex push themselves to the breaking point to defeat a seemingly insurmountable threat. This book has all the man pain filled inner monologues and insane splash pages that characterized Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane’s work in the 90s without all the misogyny and terrible takes on human anatomy. And towards the end of the battle royale, there’s a surprising amount of character growth and emotion connected to Eddie Brock. I can’t wait to reread this in trade paperback Overall: 10 Verdict: Buy

Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive #1 (IDW)– Lee Allred, Mike Allred, Rich Tommaso, and Laura Allred turn in a refreshingly retro take on the classic comic strip crime fighter in Dick Tracy #1. He’s fighting corrupt politicians at every turn with old school sound effects and a bright pop art palette from Laura Allred in his wake. Tracy experiences several victories in the first issue, but corruption isn’t something you can take out with a well aimed shot of a tommy gun or an electric chair. This is great Prohibition Era period piece. Overall: 8.2 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 (**).

Review: Jessica Jones: Blind Spot #2

In Jessica Jones #2, the new creative team of Kelly Thompson and Mattia De Iulis bring a great new energy to one of Marvel’s best characters by simply giving her a compelling case to solve and letting her do her P.I. thing as she follows the trail of a serial killer, who is offing “D-list” female Marvel superheroes and supervillains. Like the previous issue, Jessica Jones #2 is divided into two parts with the first chapter being more about physical ass kicking and tracking down leads and with chapter two being more personal and psychological. Artist Mattia De Iulis is game to draw both kinds of plots, and he excels at everything from Elsa Bloodstone and Jessica Jones using axes to kill green blood oozing sea monsters to more subdued, noir scenes like Jessica snooping around Dia Sloane’s house, who was the first “victim” of the serial killer and has an incredibly power set that is both and blessing and a curse.

Kelly Thompson understands that Jessica Jones has such an engaging and complex personality, and her skills as a private eye and background as a superhero and strained relationships with them and more traditional authority figures like the NYPD add emotional stakes and sometimes dark humor to a murder mystery case. Thompson creates an immediate bond between Elsa Bloodstone and Jessica as they are both no-nonsense ass kickers, who protect people while not being particularly good at interacting with them. However, in the flow of action, Jessica learns more about Elsa’s connection to Dia while also trying not to get all navel gaze-y with Elsa thinking about how all humans are monsters.

Sticking an edged weapon into a squicky, gross thing over and over as your job probably gets repetitive so self-reflection keeps things interesting, I guess. And having an exciting action scene with acrobatic poses and panels from De Iulis is a way more entertaining way to do an “interrogation” scene than reusing panels and using a grid with talking heads and placing all the storytelling weight on dialogue, which is really fun too and gets a little poignant as Elsa really had a great bond with Dia. Elsa Bloodstone has some creative ways of swearing, and the pulpy, horror vibe meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned cynic would make a great Marvel MAX book.

But Jessica Jones #2 isn’t all guest stars and ass kicking even those make a great garnish for this story. Kelly Thompson and Mattia De Iulis craft an original, new villain that gets his power by siphoning it from women because he has no powers of his own. He’s not like Killgrave; it’s all just murdering them and bringing them back to life, and towards of the end of the comic, there is a real Tyler Durden/Narrator thing going on with him. Because this is a second act, Thompson and De Iulis don’t reveal everything about him, but just enough that he is the power of toxic masculinity in relationships weaponized. He is the guy who will lash out at a woman and then build her back up, but add a Marvel twist on that. Thompson and De Iulis also deal with this theme of toxic masculinity in a more true to life way when Jessica is doing her investigation at the Menagerie, the bar of the murdered female supervillain White Rabbit. She’s pumping the bartender for info, and a guy hits on her and then grabs her butt because he thinks he is entitled to her body because she is wearing leather pants. Of course, she sends him flying and walks out, but it is s ad and painfully realistic to see real world harassment in a Marvel comic and a benefit of having a female writer on the book, who writes one of Jessica’s best lines yet, “I’m goddamn sick of dudes just putting their hands wherever they want. Dudes thinking they can do whatever they want”.

In that scene and others, De Iulis is fantastic at drawing Jessica’s strength and tenacity, and an almost successful “superhero landing” seems like visual character development for a character whose secondary power is that she can fly, but not land. The aforementioned bar scene has a whoosh of wind as Jessica clocks the creep, and that same energy continues when she runs out to chase a new lead on Dia and get away from Misty Knight while almost “breaking the sidewalk” outside Alias Investigations in a hilarious scene. Like Michael Gaydos before them and in a more visually sharp manner, De Iulis has a certain skill for keeping his art in Jessica Jones grounded in a detective story while adding more fantastical elements in a matter of fact way like a big time superhero showing up in the second chapter to not team up and fight bad guys, but having an emotional breakdown. He handles that scene so well, and it’s a reminder that what makes the Marvel superheroes great is their flaws and humanity.

The first arc of Kelly Thompson and Mattia De Iulis’ Jessica Jones run has been a master class in three act storytelling with issue one introducing Jessica’s case, premise, and putting in her dire straits, Jessica Jones #2 doling out information about the serial killer revel and putting her even more dire straits, and who knows what issue three will bring. As well as being a compelling mystery, Jessica Jones #2 explores its title character’s guilt, acumen for detective work, and continued fight against toxic masculinity that happens to involve superpowers. It also has enjoyable scenes of humor and action, especially when Elsa Bloodstone is involved.

Story: Kelly Thompson Art: Mattia De Iulis Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Fantastic Four #1

After a three year absence, the book that kicked off the Marvel Universe is back sort of in Fantastic Four #1. Dan Slott, Sara Pichelli, Elisabetta D’Amico, and Marte Gracia’s first issue doesn’t have Marvel’s First Family fighting Mole Man or the Trapster just yet and creates a slow build to the reunion. However, there is plenty of sweetness, comedy, and a little of bit of familial strife along the way as Slott and Pichelli play in-universe with reader expectations about the team reuniting and the oil and water dynamic of the Human Torch and the ever loving blue eyed Thing. They do have a quite funny flashback to a “forgotten” adventure of the Fantastic Four that asks as a proof of concept that shows that Slott call pull off all the voices of the bickering, yet loving sitcom family with superpowers. In addition to this, Slott, Simone Bianchi, and Marco Russo craft a Dr. Doom backup story that is a little more traditionalist than his recent appearances in Invincible Iron Man and Marvel Two-in-One,  and there’s also a super fun and quite metafictional one page backup drawn by Skottie Young and colored by Jeremy Treece.

For her work on Fantastic Four #1, Sara Pichelli brings a looser, almost more playful art style that still shows emotions and body language in a fluid way with the help of inker Elisabetta D’Amico and colorist Marte Gracia. Even though he’s made of rocks, Pichelli’s take on The Thing is lively and utterly human. Beneath his ungainly movements, he’s a loving man, and the scene where he proposes to his long time girlfriend Alicia Masters is sentimental without being sappy. Dan Slott writes The Thing as maybe giving up on seeing Reed, Sue, Valeria, and Franklin ever again, but he still has a family in Alicia and Johnny. However, The Thing and the Human Torch aren’t always loving BFFs, and Gracia shows the subtle difference in the Torch’s flame when he’s going off in action and when he flies off the handle after Ben asks him to be his best man. This scene shows that there’s still tension in Ben and Johnny’s relationship in an organic, not drama for the sake of drama way and even builds off the way that Chip Zdarsky has written them in Marvel Two-in-One where Ben knows that Sue and Reed are lost forever while giving Johnny a false sense of hope that they’re somewhere in the multiverse.

Johnny still believes the Fantastic Four will reunite and immediately flames on to where their sign shoots off in the sky with a flare gun like in the original Fantastic Four #1. Of course, it’s just a prank, but it’s foreshadowing to a grander, earned moment all overlaid in a beautiful blue by Marte Gracia like hope in the midst of despair. And hope and family are major themes throughout Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli’s story in Fantastic Four #1. Even if Ben and Johnny don’t interact with Ben and Sue, they share plenty of moments with the “extended” Fantastic Four family, including Wyatt Wingfoot, Jennifer Walters, and the aforementioned Alicia Masters. Johnny and Wyatt take in a Mets game, and Slott engages in what is either queer subtext or queer baiting using the stadium kiss cam while Jen pops up later to flirt with Wyatt and also legally represent the Yancy Street kids who set off the false Fantastic Four flare. Slott modernizes the relationship between the Thing and what was formerly known as the Yancy Street gang making him kind of a community leader instead of the participant in an endless Itchy and Scratchy situation.

Other than the poetic ending, the best moment of Fantastic Four #1 is the flashback sequence where the Fantastic Four and supporting cast find their way back to New York City through the power of Johnny singing the Wayne Newton standard, “Danke Schoen”. It’s funny, cheesy, heartwarming, and adventurous all at once like the best Fantastic Four stories. This is thanks to some little details emphasized by Pichelli like the way Reed cranes his neck when explain the quantum science or whatever of this karaoke journey home situation and then immediately retracts when he doesn’t want to out and out say that Sue isn’t the greatest singer. There’s also time for some transcendent beauty in the midst of screwball comedy: a Marte Gracia colored cosmic flame in the deep blue night sky that even Alicia, who is blind, can see. This little adventure shows the Fantastic Four are about science as well as deep human wonder through the vessel of a family ensemble.

Slott, Simone Bianchi, and Marco Russo’s Dr. Doom backup story creates a different kind of wonder, and the baroque severeness of Bianchi’s art easily contrasts with the cosmic smoothness, yet expressive cartooning of Sara Pichelli and Elisabetta D’Amico. It’s a back to basics Doom story as one of his former subjects pays a visit to the half-abandoned Doomstadt (There’s lots of Doombots per usual.) and asks him to liberate Latveria from one of the many stop gap authoritarian regimes that have been in place since he left them to play hero/Iron Man. And the way Slott writes Doom and Bianchi draws him is the complete opposite of the “Infamous Iron Man” as his face is no longer pretty, and he’s ready to rule with an iron grip and an iron mask. Like the main story of Fantastic Four #1, the Doom backup is about hope and symbols, but it’s a dark and twisted mirror to Marvel’s First Family.

Fantastic Four #1 is nothing short of a triumphant return for Marvel’s first superhero team. Dan Slott hits a nice balance between tearing heart strings, broad humor, and the wonders of the universe in his script while also crafting an aura of mystery and terror in the Dr. Doom backup story with Simone Bianchi and Marco Russo. In the visual department, Sara Pichelli shows why she is one of Marvel’s best and versatile artists hitting all the smaller, yet very important character beats as well as the big spreads and “Flame on!” moments.

Whether you’ve been reading the title since 1961 or this is your first FF adventure, Fantastic Four #1 is definitely worth your $5.99.

Story: Dan Slott Pencils: Sara Pichelli Inks: Sara Pichelli with Elisabetta D’Amico
Colors: Marte Gracia Backup Art: Simone Bianchi, Skottie Young
Backup Colors: Simone Bianchi and Marco Russo, Jeremy Treece Letters: Joe Caramagna
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For June ’18

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 June


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, 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 for June’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Punks Not Dead #3 (IDW)
June Sales Rank/Units Sold: 370/2,639
Why You Should Read It: 
If you like, or are at all interested in or curious about punk music then this is a comic you need to be reading. Although there’s a touch more backstory this issue rather than the forwarding of the plot, you’re missing out if you leave this on the shelf.

Fence #7 (Boom)
June Sales Rank/Units Sold: 369/2,369
Why You Should Read It: 
The generally friendly world of a boys boarding school hides an evil and competitive… nah. This is genuinely a fantastic book that deals with teenagers trying to make it onto a fencing team. It’s as interesting and as well written as this description is boring.

Ether: Copper Golems #2 (Dark Horse)
June Sales Rank/Units Sold: 263/4,925
Why You Should Read It: The sequel to one of the most fantastic miniseries of the last year, this should be a contended for Something Of The Year come December. Read this in floppies or in trade, but whatever you do, read this.

Ninja-K #8 (Valiant)
June Sales Rank/Units Sold: 224/6,613
Why You Should Read It: 
Ninjak has assembled a team to take on a deadly set of immortal enemies, because the last time he tried to do it alone, he was overwhelmed. This issue is a solid twenty odd pages of pure action as we see the conflict between the immortals and the rag tag group of “heroes.” Spoiler: It’s fantastic.

Stellar #1 (June)
May Sales Rank/Units Sold: 143/16,236
Why You Should Read It: 
Impressive world building, an intriguing setting and a first issue from Image? Why aren’t you checking this out?


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 May ’18

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 April.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, 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 for April’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Sword Of Ages #4 (IDW)
May Sales Rank/Units Sold: 326/3,816
Why You Should Read It: 
A five issue space fantasy miniseries that tells the story of a young woman wielding the titular sword as champion for her world. With four of five issues out already, I’d probably trade wait at this point in the game, but keep this on your mind if you can find the previous four issues at your LCS.

Quantum & Woody #6 (Valiant)
May Sales Rank/Units Sold: 267/5,390
Why You Should Read It: 
Eliot Rahal gives fans one of the best tie-in comics in recent memory – because it doesn’t rely on the event comic it ties in with (Harbinger Wars II) to tell a compelling story, focusing more on the relationship between Quantum and Woody. One of my favourite books of the year.

Pestilence: A Story Of Satan #1 (Aftershock)
May Sales Rank/Units Sold: 263/5,534
Why You Should Read It: The sequel to a miniseries that re-imagined the Black Plague of the 1300’s as a zombie outbreak, this series hints that Satan was responsible for the plague. Expect a violent reaction from the lead characters.

Black Hammer: Age Of Doom #2 (Dark Horse)
May Sales Rank/Units Sold: 159/11,690
Why You Should Read It: 
Because Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston have created a brand new superhero universe, that both looks and feels as if the story we’re seeing is only the tip of the iceberg. Plus, it’s freaking fantastic.

True Believers: Wolverine Vs Sabretooth #1 (Marvel)
May Sales Rank/Units Sold: 143/16,236
Why You Should Read It: 
Marvel’s True Believers line is a wonderful way to sample some classic stories for a low price point. You can’t argue with $1.


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: Age Of Apocalypse

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: Age Of Apocalypse. And no, not the movie.



aoa.jpgThe year was 199-something, and Charles Xavier had been murdered by his son, Legion, who had attempted to go back in time to kill Magneto before he became a villain. When he was still Xavier’s friend. That obviously didn’t turn out so well. In this reality Apocalypse attacked ten years before he did in the “main” Marvel Universe and conquered North America, although he is opposed by various mutant groups, he ultimately succeeds in instituting his Survival Of The Fittest mantra within his realm.

For four months Age Of Apocalypse took over the regular X-Men books, replacing the likes of Uncanny X-Men with Astonishing X-Men, Wolverine with Weapon X and so on across the board. I won’t list all of the series substitutions because you can find that on Wikipedia, and I’m lazy. No, today I’m not talking about the story told in a comic, but rather the way the story was presented to us, the readers. You see too often these days a major event spanning 6-10 issues in an entirely separate miniseries that will vaguely tie in to the ongoing series. No, instead Age Of Apocalypse replace the current ongoing series for four-ish months, only for those to pick back up again at the conclusion of the story.

In a rather shorter Underrated than normal (maybe? I don’t track the length as much as I should), I wanted to talk about this method of delivering an event story. What was essentially a collection of miniseries that each told a piece of the story replacing the comics you would be buying anyway is, to my mind, a genius idea. In theory, you have those buying the monthly comics already picking up the event as a continuation of the series they read and collect as well those who are curious about the event diving in and, hopefully, sticking around after it ends.

Obviously the opposite is equally true; the temporary cessation of the X-Books would have allowed those to ignore Age Of Apocalypse only to resume when the X-Books returned with their regular numbering (Wolverine #91*  would have been released in February, with Wolverine #92* appearing in July – *exact numbering may be different). This is something that I’ll be looking into in the future and exploring further outside of this column. In the meantime, I still maintain that the idea of stopping the monthly series is, at the very least on paper, an underrated idea.


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

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