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.
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.
Maneaters #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
Heroes 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
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 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 (**).