Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2022

If you’ve followed my writing this year, you can definitely tell that 2022 was the year I had serious issues keeping up with new comics even though I opened up my first pull list in six years (Shout out to Rick’s Comic City!) However, I still believe it’s the greatest storytelling medium, and the stray moments I had re-reading old favorites or finding new works were some of the best I had in 2022. I don’t really have the attention span to keep up with crossovers or sprawling shared universes any more, but I love my five issue minis or soft, queer OGNs.

So, without further ado, here are my ten favorite comics of 2022.

10. One-Star Squadron (DC)

Mark Russell and Steve Lieber’s One-Star Squadron follows a group of C and D-list superheroes who are part of an organization called Heroz4U that tries to help find heroes “meaningful” work whether that’s sales for the company, personal appearances, or even actual search and rescue work. The comic satirizes all aspects of modern employment culture, including corporate restructuring, gig work/side hustles, and the cavalier/cutthroat nature of hiring/laying off folks. NFTs and “girlboss culture” even come into play with the Russell’s take on Power Girl. There’s plenty of jokes and comedic beats and visuals from Lieber, but One-Star Squadron also has a strong emotional throughline in the relationship between Red Tornado and his employees as he tries to go to bat for characters like Minuteman and Gangbuster while trying to provide for his family and make the higher-ups at Heroz4U happy. One-Star Squadron is a must-read for fans of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs, r/antiwork, and obscure DC heroes.

9. Rockstar and Softboy (Image)

Rockstar and Softboy is a breezy, fun one-shot ode to queer friendship from cartoonist Sina Grace and also acts as his triumphant return to doing interior art. Even though they have completely opposite personalities, Rockstar and Softboy have a lovely friendship that survives the ups and downs of the increasingly surreal house party that is the main setpiece of the comic. Beneath the super sentai battles and dick jokes, Grace also explores the nature of creativity, collaboration, and friendship through his two lead characters as the real motivation for the house party is creating great music and video games as well as getting laid. Rockstar and Softboy is definitely one of the more fun and chaotic comics I read in 2022.

8. Sabretooth (Marvel)

As mentioned earlier, I’m a bit behind on the current X-books, but enjoyed a lot of what I read from them in 2022, including the first arcs of X-Men Red and Immortal X-Men. However, my favorite comic from that editorial group was the Sabretooth miniseries from Victor LaValle and Leonard Kirk. It’s basically Paradise Lost with Sabretooth playing the role of Milton’s Satan and trying to make a heaven of hell with his fellow Krakoans that were thrown in the Pit for various reasons. LaValle and Kirk fully explore the dark side of a utopian society and also provide social commentary on the prison system in the United States using various B and C-list mutants. Plus it ends on a killer sequel hook that enhances Victor Creed’s role in the X-books.

7. Doughnuts and Doom (Top Shelf)

Doughnuts and Doom is a (literally at times) sweet and magical queer romance graphic novel by cartoonist Balazs Lorinczi. It’s full of all the fun, relatable tropes like missed signals, enemies to lovers, and most importantly, slow burn with Lorinczi using most of the story to shape the relationship between witch/online potion seller Margot and musician/donut shop employee Elena. I also like how Lorinczi focuses on Margot and Elena’s lives outside their relationship, like Margot struggling to get her magic license, or Elena’s conflict with a local Visually, Doughnuts and Doom has a bubblegum punk aesthetics with plenty of pastels and spot blacks and different panel layouts any time magic, music, or romance happens that makes the comic even more immersive and heartwarming.

6. Spider-Punk (Marvel)

Spider-Verse denizen Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk gets his first solo miniseries in five issues of anticapitalism, antifascism, antiracism, and head cracking from writer Cody Ziglar and artist Justin Mason. Ziglar and Mason’s passion for classic punk music shines in characters like a Devilock-sporting alternate version of Taskmaster, and they also create memorable riffs on other Marvel characters like Daredevil being a female punk drummer from Philadelphia or Captain America (Renamed Anarchy, of course) being a queer and indigenous man. Mason’s energetic art and Jim Charalamapidis’ colors create spectacular fight scenes as Hobie and his makeshift band cross the United States in a quest to take out the relatably fascist president of the United States. Spider-Punk shows that superhero comics can be subversive and call out the status quo while still being fun as hell, and it’s always interesting to see anti-corporate art being put out by one of the world’s biggest and most smothering corporations.

5. Joe Hill’s Rain (IDW)

Rain is a post-apocalyptic comic miniseries adapted from one of Joe Hill’s short stories in his 2017 Strange Weather collected and is scripted by David Booher with art by Zoe Thorogood. Though originally written years before the COVID-19 pandemic, it captures some of the feelings of fear, terror, and in some cases, coming together as found family of this time period as protagonist Honeysuckle tries to survive and eventually figure out why crystal nails are raining down from the sky. Rain is part road story, part tragic queer romance and a showcase for Thorogood’s skill at conveying character acting and emotions in life and death situations. Rain is definitely a dark read, but has several great moments where humanity shines even at the end of the world.

4. DC Pride 2022 (DC)

DC Pride 2022 was one of my favorite reads of this year, and the most memorable story in the volume was by the late Kevin Conroy and J. Bone that explores Conroy’s life as a gay man in the 1970s and 1980s, how he dealt with discrimination while trying to break into the acting business, and how getting the role of Batman in Batman: The Animated Series changes his life and the lives of millions of folks who enjoyed the show. In addition to this lovely short story, DC Pride 2022 serves as a showcase for interesting LGBTQ+ comic book characters, and more importantly, LGBTQ+ comics creators. There’s Jon Kent’s first Pride done in a beautiful (and sassy when Damian Wayne is involved) way by Devin Grayson and Nick Robles, a Jo Mullein story from Tini Howard and Evan Cagle that explores the nuances of bisexuality in a space detective story, an action-packed Connor Hawke story from Ro Stein and Ted Brandt that digs into his experience as an asexual man, and much more. These big Pride one-shots are starting to be a nice tradition from DC and hope they continue indefinitely.

3. Catwoman: Lonely City (DC)

Cliff Chiang writes, draws, colors, and letters the definitive Selina Kyle story in Catwoman: Lonely City, a Black Label miniseries that wrapped up in 2022. Catwoman: Lonely City is a touching, suspenseful story about legacy, resisting authoritarianism, and finding family in unexpected places that explores an aging Kyle pulling off one last heist in a Batman-less Gotham. It has a colorful cast of supporting characters from all over the DC Universe and is one of the most gorgeous books of 2022 with Chiang nailing everything from romantic banter between Catwoman and Riddler to a color palette that straddles neon and noir as well as some very acrobatic fight choreography. It’s truly the Catwoman book you can recommend to anyone who’s remotely interested in the character and is Cliff Chiang’s magnum opus up to this point.

2. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (Drawn and Quarterly)

Ducks is a graphic memoir about cartoonist Kate Beaton’s (Of Hark! A Vagrant fame) experience working various jobs in the oil fields of Alberta to pay back her student loans from art school. Beaton doesn’t shy away from showing the difficult work conditions there and the terrible treatment of women, especially in the work camps and later explores how the oil fields affect the wild life and the indigenous people who originally owned the land. Ducks unpacks the trauma that comes from trying to make money under capitalism and being woman in a field where reports of untoward behavior and even sexual assault get a blind eye. All of this is done in Kate Beaton’s trademark cartooning that punctuates the difficult moments with bits of dark humor and insights into her upbringing in Cape Breton, Canada although she uses a more detailed style for establishing shots and the inner workings of the tool area she works at . Personally, I feel like I learned a lot more about other parts of Canada beyond Ontario and the Vancouver area, and that the country isn’t some kind of Great Northern utopia even though it feels like that some time living in a right to work state where healthcare is dependent on your employer.

1. It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth (Image)

Zoe Thorogood is easily one of the most exciting writer/artists working in comics, and her experimental, brutally honest graphic memoir It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth was my favorite comic of 2022. Thorogood effectively uses anthropomorphization to visually represent different parts of her personality as well as her friends and folks she comes in contact with throughout the memoir and gives an unfiltered look about how she feels about being a comic book artist, the response to her previous comic The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott, and her relationship with her friends, family, and an ex-lover. It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth can definitely be a difficult read at times, especially when Thorogood brings up her inability to connect with other people and negative self-talk. But it’s a masterpiece because it uses the tools and tricks of the comics medium and page to bring her inner world to life and ends with a powerful call to the reader that their existence matters as she dances in the streets of London to a nine panel grid.

Underrated: The Amazing Spider-Man

I drastically overslept today, so rather than the planned column, we’re revisiting one from 2017 when I went to bat for one of the more maligned Spider-Man movies.


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 Amazing Spiderman


Today I wanted to talk about the first reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise from waaaaaaaay back in 2012. After the Sam Raimi trilogy which, lets be honest, didn’t exactly end on a high note, Sony would eventually decide to relaunch the Spider-Man movie franchise, and it’s the result of that reboot that I wanted to talk about today.

If you’re surprised that this is the movie we’re focusing on today, then you may have missed that the Marvel Studios/Sony collaboration Spider-Man Homecoming is in theaters  (and the MCU!) now; and you may also have been unaware of the amount of people who are now complaining about this movie (or maybe that’s just the people I hang out with?) – or you may have never really enjoyed this movie. But regardless of where you sit, I’ve always really enjoyed this movie, and feel that it’s stronger than a lot of people give it credit.

Why? To the bullet points!

The chemistry between the leads
One of the strongest aspects of the Amazing franchise is the relationship between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. Their interactions on screen approach poetry in some scenes, and without a doubt these two actors elevate the film beyond what a typical pair of romantic leads can do.

 Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man
Garfield may have been to cool to genuinely pull off a nerdy Peter Parker, but his Spider-Man was top notch; his boundless energy and fast mouth was unlike anything we had seen before in live action, and Garfield pulled it off spectacularly. This was a Spider-Man whose failures were a palpable weight on his spandex clad shoulders, and in the quiet moments throughout the movie you can genuinely sense that through Garfield’s body language.

 The webswinging
The effects team did a wonderful job guiding Spider-Man’s journey through the skies in what is, for my money, the most realistic depiction of a man flying through the air on super strong glue to date.

 The costume
I’m kidding. I wasn’t exactly fond of this movie’s Spider-Man look. The orange lenses weren’t my thing, and the way the red came down the legs weren’t my favourite.

 The lack of the actual words “With great power there must also come great responsibility”
I know this is probably a contentious point to make, but loved that Peter learned this lesson throughout the film without having the quote used just for the audience who feel they must hear those words in the movie. It was far more powerful for Peter to learn it through his actions and reactions than have the lesson spelled out in what could have been an awkward and stilted scene. Plus, it lent a much heavier weight to Uncle Ben’s voice message at the end.

There are quite a few aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man that I thoroughly enjoyed, more than I should probably talk about in this article, but I’m aware that this isn’t a flawless movie – it’s not even the best Spider-Man movie- that honour is reserved for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Yes, The Amazing Spider-Man  did have its issues; the Lizard wasn’t the most compelling villain, and his design was somewhat weak, but he isn’t the weakest in any of the Spider-Man movies (Topher Grace a Venom will hold that title for quite some time). His rationale is still just understandable enough when you break it down for yourself, but you do need to be aware of his misguided, yet deeply hidden altruistic thought process. And only a few years removed from Spider-Man 3, did we really need to see Uncle Ben die again? Not really.

I’m aware that it had it’s problems, but I don’t care; I love it anyway. For years, this was one of my favourite Spider-Man films, until we got the two Tom Holland flicks. I’ll always enjoy this movie, but it won’t be the first Spider-Man movie I reach for.


There we have it. Are there other comic book related stuff out there that is, for whatever reason, underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

Because of that, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is. In the meantime, though, if you do get a chance check out the characters in thisUnderrated, then you may need to hunt through the back issue bins for some, but others do have some stories collected in trades.

Until next time!

Underrated: Scarlet Spider (2012)

Scarlet Spider has always been one of my favourite Spier-Man sub characters, and even more so when his former enemy (and clone) Kaine took up the mantle. However unwillingly. I recently reread the series, and so, as you can see, wanted to revisit an old column.

The series more than holds up.


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_1

I have always enjoyed stories about villains becoming heroes, struggling to atone for or come to terms with their actions; I’m a sucker for a good redemption story, I’ll admit. There’s something about somebody striving to earn forgiveness when surrounded by people who don’t believe in them I’ve always enjoyed.

With 2012’s Scarlet Spider we get almost the exact opposite of that. A man who just wants to disappear surrounded by those who inexplicably believe in him.

I originally added this to my pull list with its first issue way back in 2012, 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 in that sense, but I was wrong about who was wearing the costume. So I settled in to enjoy a story about Spider-Man’s clone, and as I hoped I ended up loving the series.

But not for the reasons I expected. Instead of a heroic story featuring Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider delivered something I wasn’t expecting – and ended up loving more than I thought I would given my initial expectations of who I was going to be reading about.

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 – though Kaine still pops up as the Scarlet Spider from time to time, and I will always try to grab those issues as and when I can. 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. However reluctantly.

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.

Underrated: The Wolverine

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 Wolverine.


A little while ago on Underrated, I took a look at one of the most reviled movies in the X-Men Franchise, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This week I wanted to take a look at the sequel to that movie because, ending aside, I think it’s a pretty good movie – no, really, take that cyborg thing out of the equation, and I’d give the movie a sold 8.5 or so out of 10. Obviously the cyborg drops the rating some, but I still really enjoyed the movie. And yes, I did see the movie recently.

The funny thing about The Wolverine, at least for me, is that I only recently realized that people weren’t quite as fond of it as I was. Whether that’s because I was so desperate for a great Wolverine movie that I overlooked a lot of the flaws when I first saw it, or that I just simply enjoyed it more than the folks who had a bone to pick with the film. Obviously, I watched this after having seen Logan, which was exactly the Wolverine movie that I, and many others, have always wanted. Does The Wolverine still hold up after the sequel, or is it really as average as people have been saying?

I genuinely don’t think it is, so allow me to give you a few reasons why.

  • The Opening Sequence
    In this case I’m talking about the entire sequence set in the Canadian wilderness. Hugh Jackman pulls off the broken former hero role incredibly well, and much like the prequel I could have happily watched an entire movie centered around a broken Logan on the outskirts of society. Wait.
  • It’s a great homage to Wolverine’s first solo series
    Look I know that the ending is butchered almost entirely by the mechanized Silver Samurai, but once you get beyond that The Wolverine is a brilliant homage and reinterpretation of the Claremont/Miller series from the 80’s with an updated twist. The hallmarks of the series are there, albeit in a slightly modified form in most cases, as the movie does its level best to pay tribute to that classic four issue miniseries.
  • The choreography
    With this movie having a softer rating than its sequel, you’d be forgiven for wanting more of the brutality from that movie to show up in The Wolverine, but considering the rating I think the choreography of the fight scenes is done very well – yes, a lot is left to your imagination regarding the results of said action, but this is still a movie about a violent mutant and you do get a sense of that… even if it is done in a PG13 way.
  • The story 
    Despite struggling at the final hurdle, the movie’s plot is actually better than a lot of popcorn action flicks. It’s certainly no Logan but it’s a better overall product than both of its immediate prequels.

Yes, the movie has its problems, especially with how it fits (or used to fit depending on who you’re talking to) into the X-Men movie franchise, and how it treats certain characters, but when you look at it as a standalone movie that follows one character after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand… it’s actually pretty good; like I said, I’ve always enjoyed this movie, and that’s why it’s the subject of this week’s Underrated. Plus, without this movie then we’d never have had James Mangold back for the sequel

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 4/16/2022

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Brett

X-Men ’92: House of XCII #1 (Marvel) – The continuation of the X-Men animated series mixes things up with the modern Krakoa status quo for a result that doesn’t quite completely jive. The comic has fun with the fact the original material was in the 90s with some of the design and layouts but the rather complicated Krakoa story mixed with the original animated series feels like it’s two concepts that don’t quite come together. There’s no real setup in how it all came together and in the end the issue just generally feels like a condensed HOX/POX with a look from the animated series and a slight twist at the end. It does a good job of using the characters it had access to but overall it doesn’t feel like it captures the original animated series and misses the point of HOX/POX. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Pass

The Wrong Earth: Fame & Fortune #1 (AHOY Comics) – Mark Russell dips his toes into the series about the same “hero” on different Earths. In this case, each version wants to build a stadium in their city and have it named after the real life name. Each takes their own path showing off their nature. Russell makes them really the same side of a coin just with one smiling while they screw you over and the other snearing. There’s some funny moments and Russell brings his usual interesting commentary. The art is pretty solid from Michael Montenat and Andy Troy and how the comic lays out bouncing between the two heroes is really interesting. The comic features the usual extras packed in that adds a little value to the overall package. The comic isn’t bad but also doesn’t quite nail down the usual inciteful commentary from Russell. There’s something there, it’s just pretty bleak and jaded. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Batgirls #5 (DC Comics) – Another fun issue. The art, the story, the color, everything comes together with every issue. There’s such a kinetic energy about every release that puts a smile on my face. It’s always an entertaining read and one I regularly look forward to. If you haven’t read this series, dive into the pop entertainment. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Logan

Joe Hill’s Rain #4 (Image)– Even with the world ending around them, homophobic bigotry is still alive in Joe Hill’s Rain #4. Honeysuckle’s finally reaches her girlfriend’s dad’s house in Denver and isn’t greeted by the prettiest sight. Hill, David Booher, and Zoe Thorogood slow down the pace to show how angry loss has made Honeysuckle as trauma has made her violent and vengeful. Thorogood continues to excel at show the gruesome imagery of people and animals while her close-ups show the aimlessness of Honeysuckle since her reason for traveling for to Denver is over. Although some familiar faces show up towards the end of Rain #4, the series continues to descend into total post-apocalyptic bleakness. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 4/10/2022

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Spider-Punk #1 (Marvel)– From the first Stooges quote to a Misfits-inspired take on a classic Marvel villain, Spider-Punk #1 is a love letter to classic punk and superhero comics from Cody Ziglar, Justin Mason, and Jim Charalampidis. Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk, a queer Native Captain America, and Ironheart fight the forces of fascism, gentrification, and ultimately capitalism in a fast, frenetic style. Charalampidis’ palette explodes like street murals, and Mason adds a DIY vibe to the classic Marvel archetypes of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Iron Man while having them better reflect our current society. He also creates different fighting styles for the heroes, and the punches, shield swings, and blasts are easy to follow with Ziglar adding quips, song references, and political commentary on top. Like the game Tony Hawk Underground did back in the 2000s, Cody Ziglar and Justin Mason re-purpose classic punk songs and iconography for a new audience that is ready to rage at capitalism through the metaphors of superheroes and 3 minute, 3 chord tracks. Overall: 9.3 Verdict: Buy

One-Star Squadron #5 (DC)- This installment of the D-list superhero/capitalist/gig economy satire series One-Star Squadron is more tragedy than comedy with a little bit of mystery thrown in. Mark Russell, Steve Lieber, and Dave Stewart hone in on the key figures of the series (Red Tornado, Power Girl, Gangbuster, Minuteman) and show that doing the right thing can be a bit grey at times due to things like bills and needing a pill to maintain your sanity/have superpowers for a minute. There are still some humorous moments featuring a silly take on a A-list DC character, but Lieber’s talent with facial expressions is mostly used to show how dejected Red Tornado feels and whether he’s worthy to be a hero again. One-Star Squadron #5 has a real air of desperation to it, and I’m excited to see how the mini wraps up. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

Alex

Spider-Punk #1 (Marvel) I’m pretty far behind in my Spidey reading, but could resist picking this one up. Logan’s given a great little write up already, so suffice it to say that going in knowing very little about the character beyond what I’d seen in the PS4 game’s write up on the costume, I enjoyed the ever-loving hell out of this. Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Review: Marauders #1

Marauders #1

Steve Orlando, Eleonora Carlini, and Matt Milla inject new life into the team Marauders in the first issue of their new series. With introductions out of the way, they get right to the adventure, drama, and messiness of it all as the team and their newest, most genocidal member Cassandra Nova blast into space to find the remaining members of the first generation of mutants. Along the way, Orlando continues to show his talent for excavating characters from the Big Two’s past while putting his own spin on staples like the Shi’ar Empire. Seriously, the first scene features a character that debuted in Inhumans; not the well-loved Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee series, but the Rafael Marin and Jose Ladronn one from 2000. However, Marauders #1 isn’t just cameos and throwbacks, and Steve Orlando and Carlini create an adventurous team dynamic with a bit of a dark side that sets it apart from the other current X-teams.

Eleonora Carlini’s manga-infused approach to the art in Marauders plays up the emotions and action up to 11. She combines traditional superhero figures with cartoonish faces and high energy layouts culminating to a double page splash of the Marauders’ new ship in flight. Carlini’s cartooning especially works in tense moments like a reaction shot to Kate Pryde introducing Cassandra Nova as the final Marauder. Even though it’s been obvious that she’s joining the team (Plus the justifications in the data pages.), we get to share in the surprise and even get a laugh from Somnus, who doesn’t know who she is until reading her mind and then going all glowstick on her. Along with the intense facial expressions, Milla goes big and loud with his color palette in a matter befitting a team with characters who project psychic energy into daggers, absorb it and throw it back, or phase through it to name a few. However, there’s a lot of red from Jean Grey confronting Cassandra Nova to the big finale of the issue that blows the series’ status quo up big time.

Like any good superhero book, Marauders has a lot of action from its first page to a space battle where Kate Pryde tries to phase into the mental equivalent of adamantium. However, in the gaps between missions and team construction, Steve Orlando and Eleonora Carlini continue to build up the personalities of the various Marauders. As the newbie, Cassandra Nova is the focus of Marauders #1 with everyone from psychics Jean Grey and Psylocke to team leader Kate Pryde trying to get a read on her and see if she’s actually cured. There are all kinds of panels of her looking at the reader basically saying that putting her on the team was a bad idea even if she’s connected to the mystery box that Kate found.

However, other characters get their moments in the sun like Akihiro and his relationship with his ex Somnus and current partner, Aurora, who are trying to help him overcome the pain of being tortured by Brimstone Love in the previous issue. Carlini turns in a splash showing that this torture and a desire for revenge is the first thing on Akihiro’s mind, and he plays a secondary role in the action with Psylocke and Bishop leading the way in the space fight. However, Somnus and Aurora play roles on the Marauders beyond being there Akihiro. For example, Somnus is making up for literal lost time by going on adventures with the team, and his face close-up on the glass watching Earth fall back in the distance reminds me of the first time I read a comic with the X-Men in space. Orlando also uses the data pages to add depth to the characters without detracting from the story and mystery and brewing space opera even though it would have been even more entertaining to see Dr. Nemesis and Mr. Sinister debate Cassandra Nova’s mutant-ness on panel.

Marauders #1 is full of adventures, flawed, yet badass queer characters, and also features intrigue and deep cuts from the Marvel universe in a nice action mystery package. The team has a focus, but Orlando and Carlini aren’t afraid to explore interesting rabbit trails along the way.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Eleonora Carlini 
Colors: Matt Milla Letters: Ariana Maher
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.5  Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology/KindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 4/2/2022

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Immortal X-Men #1 (Marvel)– Kieron Gillen writing Sinister and Hope Summers again is a delight. He and Werneck show just how fragile and ego-driven the Krakoan experiment is and the jokes and the Utopia references are spot-on. Sinister’s ongoing sassy commentary sheds light on the different personalities of Krakoa and matches the chaos of the post-Inferno status quo. Immortal X-Men is soapy, messy, and intrigue-filled and is a true flagship for the line continuing the momentum after Hickman’s departure. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Season of the Bruja #1 (Oni Press)– Aaron Duran and Sara Soler’s Season of the Bruja has a cool, compelling premise (A witch descended from the Aztecs is the last line of defense from an underworld god and his demons.), but is structured in an awkward way. It starts in the middle of an action scene with furries (?) that introduces the protagonist Althalia and her associates, but not really as we only really get to know Althalia by the time the issue wraps up. Soler’s art has energy and flashy colors, and the interactions between Althalia and her grandmother (Who is also a bruja) are heartwarming and the real heart of the comic. She and Duran explore themes of imperialism through a visit at a museum with Aztec artifacts and the appearance of a racist priest type that immediately escalates to cops and heart attacks and action. Season of the Bruja has lots of good ingredients, but is bad at transitioning from scenes, creating context, and introducing characters. But its art is damn good. Overall: 6.2 Verdict: Pass

Brett

Amazing Spider-Man #93 (Marvel) – The Beyond Era wraps up setting us up for what should be some solid Spider-Man adventures to come. Ben Reilly has always been a character that felt like there wasn’t a complete idea as to how he should be handled but here’s an interesting direction that feels like it makes sense and a nice organic direction. Overall Rating: 8.0


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 3/19/2022

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #1 (DC)– Mark Waid, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain turn in a high energy, high emotion team-up book in World’s Finest #1. Set in the earlier days of Batman and Superman’s crime fighting career, the book has them working as a well-oiled machine until Metallo injects Red Kryptonite into Superman’s heart causing him to transform uncontrollably. Mora and Bonvillain go into almost body horror mode showing the effects of the injection on him, and they and Waid bring in the Doom Patrol to figure out to cure and counter it. But the greatest part about World’s Finest #1 is that Batman and Superman have a genuine friendship as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent that’s established in a flashback sequence and echoes into the main plot with Batman trying to pry him loose mentally. World’s Finest #1 has an old school vibe with modern visual storytelling techniques, and honestly it’s just nice to see the Doom Patrol in something comics related again. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy

Joe Hill’s Rain #3 (Image)– Joe Hill’s Rain continues to explore the dimensions of grief, loss, and the apocalypse while still having strong thriller elements. David Booher’s narration works well with Zoe Thorogood’s art and Chris O’Halloran’s flat state to get in the head of protagonist Honeysuckle as she, a new friend, and eccentric kid Templeton travel to Denver to tell her girlfriend’s father about his daughter’s death. The introduction of a cop character adds tension and some context about what’s going on in the world outside of Colorado while Thorogood probes at the depth of loss with wide panels of people being skewered by this deadly rain. The bond between the three travelers grows in Rain #3, but even in the face of tragedy and loss of life, some humans continue to be assholes adding another dimension of conflict beyond avoiding the rain. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Nightwing #90 (DC)– Tom Taylor continues to revisit the strong relationships that Dick Grayson has with the various denizens of the DC Universe in Nightwing while weaving into the larger plot of Blockbuster trying to take out Dick Grayson. Geraldo Borges is the artist on this issue, and he and regular colorist Adriano Lucas bring an action movie flair to Nightwing #90 with explosions, flying devris, and finally Wally West running into a hail of bullets. Taylor and Borges remember that Wally and Dick are best friends, and Wally helps save the residents of Dick’s apartment building while offering him a safe place to crash in Keystone City. There are a lot of down beats in Nightwing #90 (the kidnapping of Barbara Gordon, Dick’s apartment building’s destruction), but Tom Taylor finds a lot of humor and warmth in the bond between Wally West and Dick Grayson before springing them into action. Nightwing continues to have its cake and eat it too with strong guest stars that logically make sense in the story, showing Dick’s desire to improve Bludhaven no matter the cost, and exciting art especially in the action scenes. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Eternals: The Heretic #1 (Marvel)– In his last comics work before his passing, Ryan Bodenheim brings genocidal Eternal and patriarch Uranos to life with Kieron Gillen, Edgar Salazar, and Chris O’Halloran. This issue delves into such evil that the Machine takes a break from sassy narrator duties while Uranos and Thanos bond over efficient ways of committing genocide and contempt for their families. Uranos snarks at Thanos for only killing 50% of the universe in a full page spread that shows the sheer force of his power, but they end up being kind of buddies by the end of the one-shot. Bodenheim and Salazar give Uranos a cragginess in his appearance to go with Gillen writing him as utterly believing in his principles. He might be behind bars, but Eternals: The Heretic establishes as a true, very behind the scenes power player in the Marvel Universe. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 3/5/2022

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Radio Spaceman #1 (Dark Horse)– Mike Mignola, Greg Hinkle, and Dave Stewart craft a world that’s a little steampunk, a little sci-fi, and of course, a little cosmic horror. Hinkle does an admirable job bringing Mignola’s designs to life, and this story has all kinds of cool shit like malfunctioning rayguns, eccentric inventors, attack frogs, and best of all, an astronaut with a skull for a head. Mike Mignola keeps the story simple and focuses on things like atmosphere and letting Hinkle’s art breathe as the story goes from a decrepit satellite to Forbidden Planet meets the Nostromo. It’s nice to see Mignola back doing sci-fi, and Greg Hinkle, and of course deity-tier colorist Dave Stewart, are well-matched collaborators for this new world. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy 

A Thing Called Truth #5 (Image/Shadowline)– Iolanda Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli’s road trip/romance wraps up with sweeping gestures, dramatic arguments, and love at first sight. It’s like turning back time to when the mid-budget romcom ruled the box office, but queer this time. The incompatibility between Mag and Dorian’s personalities and approaches to life goes from the backburner to boil in A Thing Called Truth #5, and they get into a big argument. Romboli uses gutters between their angry faces and pointing fingers to hint that maybe they won’t work out as a couple. But A Thing Called Truth isn’t that kind of story. It’s more of a fairy tale about living life in the moment instead of being overwhelmed by things like jobs and capitalism. It’s yet another hit from Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli, who revive the romance genre with humor, passion, and queerness. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

One-Star Squadron #4 (DC)– One-Star Squadron is another compelling installment of this work place comedy meets satire of hypercapitalism from Mark Russell, Steve Lieber, and Dave Stewart. This issue focuses on Red Tornado attempting to lay off half of Heroz4U’s employees so they can slash payroll and sell the company. Lieber’s skill with facial expression comes in handy during the comedic bits (A page long riff on the “Coffee’s for closers” speech in Glengarry Glen Ross.), but he also does a great job conveying the tension that Red Tornado feels between being a good person and having a job support his family. Because as Maxwell Lord’s audiobook says, having a conscience isn’t an asset in 2022. Russell and Steve Lieber also spend some time with supporting characters like Power Girl, Minuteman, and in a truly tragic sequence, Gangbuster and show what they’re up to with the layoffs and sale impending. Their take on Power Girl is a picture perfect takedown of “girl boss” culture from the white suit to the lack of empathy. On top of being a timely, emotionally compelling story, One-Star Squadron continues to be loaded with background gags satirizing different aspects of contemporary society through a superheroic lens. Overall: 8.1 Verdict: Buy

Loaded Bible: Blood of My Blood #1 (Image)– Tim Seeley returns to Loaded Bible (I haven’t read the original comic) with Steve Orlando, Giuseppe Cafaro, and Josh Rodriguez. They check into a world where vampires and Catholics have teamed up to make the world a theocracy ruled by the Red Pope Dracula, and anyone not in keeping with the church’s teaching hangs out in the ruins of an old missionary space trip with a clone of Jesus. It’s high concept and has shades of late 90s Top Cow books, but is less heterosexual gazey. Clone Jesus is a compelling character, and Orlando, Seeley, and Cafaro spend their time fleshing out the utopia he has created and defended before overturning it. Blood of My Blood #1 has a schlocky, B-movie tone, but the art is nothing to right home about with the exception of a few memorable moments like one of the church’s ships dwarfing some survivors or any time Dracula makes an appearance. Overall: 7.3 Verdict: Read

What If?: Miles Morales #1 (Marvel)– Although it features a very predictable “twist”, Cody Ziglar and Paco Medina turn in an interesting riff on both Miles Morales and Captain America in What If?: Miles Morales #1. It’s awesome how closely Ziglar adheres to Miles’ origin all the way back in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 with a star-spangled twist, and he writes the dynamic between Miles, his family, and his girlfriend Falcon in a fun, banter-heavy way. It’s not as off the wall and “What If” as it could be, but the glimpses of upcoming issues seem to be more off-beat with this universe/issue as the base level. Overall: 7.6 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 (**).

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