Bruce Willis is one of those actors whose presence onscreen is one of reassurance. He’s now known mostly for his tough-guy roles but that not has always been the case. As was shown in The Movies That Made Us, when he madeDie Hard, most test screen audiences laughed at his very presence, because they remember him as the guy from the television show, Moonlighting. He would go on to make movies that straddled the line between tough-guy and comic relief, but most of his fans love his action movies.
Even Sylvester Stallone saw his bankability to put Willis in one of his Expendables movies before their offscreen tiff. One of my favorite movies by him was a period drama called Last Man Standing where he played a rogue gunman in the middle of a turf war. His character, no matter what he did, got pulled in deeper before he had no choice but to pick sides. In the second issue of Cage, our protagonist finds a bird in a hand, and looks to live up to the title of Hero for Hire.
We find Luke in a conversation with a dirty cop that knows about the case he just took and the implications that would occur if he gets close to the truth, giving him fair warning before trouble is headed his way. A warning that Luke doesn’t take heed, but looks to make money from. Soon Luke plots The Italian Mob, against the gang that controls Harlem, to the dirty cops that run the neighborhood, with none the wiser. By the issue’s end, a miscalculation by Luke leads to a vital witness being fatally shot which changes his plans completely.
Overall, an engaging issue that plays out like some of the best crime noir thrillers of yesteryear. The story by Brian Azzarello is electrifying. The art by the creative team is gorgeous. Altogether, an issue in this story that ramps up the action.
Story: Brian Azzarello Art: Richard Corben, Wes Abbott, and Jose Villarubia Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy
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 #86 (DC) It is always darkest before the dawn. After the up and down fest that was Tom King’s historic Batman run we get a much welcomed change of pace here. James Tynion IV does not waste any time getting Bruce into costume again. This is a good thing because Tony Daniel draws such a great Batman. I am loving the Bruce and Lucius dynamic ala The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight rises movies. Bruce is still very much touched by his grief over losing Alfred and is not on all cylinders yet (something I can very much relate to having lost my father last year) I like how Deathstroke knows this and chooses to strike when Bruce is off his game. In addition to drawing an awesome Batman, Daniel draws one hell of a Slade and I always enjoy these two at each other more and more. Seeing the other side characters was cool but just fodder. We get new bat vehicle and gadgets and lots of cool toys this issue and Lucius is very much the Q to Bruce’s James and I want much more of it. So only a first outting but Tynion studied under the tutelage of Scott Snyder and if he keeps this up we are in good hands for short term. For the love of God though, no more fucking BANE. Let that character languish for a long while. I’d like to see what Slades bigger plan is. We all know he has one. Score: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy
Excalibur #5 (Marvel)– Excalibur #5 is an up and down comic for me. I love how Tini Howard writes Rogue so powerfully and Southern and Marcus To’s clean linework when she is trapped in Otherworld. However, the majority of the comic is a mess of explosions, crystals, magic, and Apocalypse being more of an overt villain. There is definitely something primal cooking in Howard’s overarching story, but at this point, I don’t know if I’m interested in as she and To switch characters perspectives and juggle plots each issue. Basically, Excalibur #5 has some entertaining moments (And it’s nice to see Rogue play an active role in the proceedings.), but doesn’t work together as a coherent unit of story. Overall: 5.8 Verdict: Pass
New Mutants #5 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis are back with the “old school” New Mutants in space on a mission that’s, well, complicated by Shi’ar politics. This issue balances space and superpowered action with humor, characterization, and a dash of political intrigue. Hickman gives each New Mutant something to do whether it’s Chamber and Mondo sharing a toast to pacifism while their teammates fight the shit out of some Shi’ar Death Commandos, or Magik showing off her leadership (and flirting) skills with the Death Commando boarding party. Reis has been my favorite artist on the Dawn of X books, and he’s back with more expressive faces, lush colors, and Heavy Metal-inspired spaceships and stations meets Bob McLeod’s classic character designs. He’s also an economic storyteller. For example, one panel with a flatline tells more about Magik’s ruthless and combat abilities than five pages of protracted action. I didn’t mind the Ed Brisson/check with some underutilized mutants from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men interlude, but New Mutants #5 returns this book to elite status. A must read for anyone who likes their mutants in space and flirtatious. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
X-Force #5 (Marvel)– Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara’s X-Force #5 brings the gory and gruesome black ops action while also considering of the implications of these battles on the team and their antagonists. With Wolverine mostly out of commission, Domino takes center stage in the fight against Xeno, the organization that blew up a Krakoa gate and assassinated Charles Xavier. Percy and Cassara drive home the effects of the torture Xeno unleashed on her, and she returns it on kind. Percy also takes a moment to humanize a member of the team they’re fighting against, but not too much as he pivots to Beast undermining the utopian world of Krakoa through very human things like mental and physical torture and off the books operatives. X-Force is a book about the secret sins that nations commit to preserve themselves and shows this through words as well as sometimes revolting, sometimes stylish action. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy
Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 (Titan)– The numbering is weird, but Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 presents some absolutely bonkers Tank Girl, Jet Girl, and Sub Girl stories from the early 1990s by creators Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett with some stories drawn by artists Glyn Dillon and Philip Bond. Hewlett’s character design is fantastic, but he’s a great storyteller too as evidenced in the first story where he homages different film genres when Tank Girl and Booga take on every bounty hunter in Australia. His panels are crammed full of fun litle details and background jokes while Martin’s dialogue is easygoing and filled to the brim with double entendres. One thing I liked about this comic is that it also focused on Tank Girl’s supporting cast like a story where her kangaroo boyfriend Booga’s dad is a yeti, or a MAD-meets-Behind the Music parody of Morrissey and The Smiths that Sub Girl narrates. (Dillon draws a hilarious Morrissey Fat Elvis caricature.) Along with the original strips, this comic is packed full with photos of the creators and pinups from Hewlett, Bond, and Dillon and provides a window into the creativity of British comics and Deadline in the early 1990s. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
SFSX #5 (Image)– Jen Hickman joins SFSX as both artist and colorist, and they and Tina Horn tell an exciting heist story as Avory and her crew of sex workers from Dirty Mind try to break out her husband George from the Party’s reeducation camp. This comic is a bullet in the head of purity culture as Horn and Hickman systematically dismantle kink shaming. (Chasten Buttigieg would be appalled ;) ) Hickman’s character acting is amazing, and they add some clever touches like having characters’ knowledge of rope bondage and harnesses get them through vents and air ducts like some kind of BDSM John McClane. Add one incredibly (and actually) monstrous bad guy that has an emotional connection to the main characters, and SFSX #5 is another great chapter in this series. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy
Steeple #5 (Dark Horse)– Billie finds her inner darkness in the conclusion of John Allison and Sarah Stern’s miniseries. Allison sets the tone hilariously by Billie finding Satan a bit buff and attractive and hanging up a John Wick poster in the rectory. This issue is compelling because it’s centered around the relationship between Billie and Maggie as they basically swap places/religions. A heart to heart at a coffee shop reveals that Maggie is a good person with a sensitive conscience who joined the Church of Satan so that she could forget about her activism and thirst for justice through hedonism. And Billie just wants to be “bad”. Allison goes the ending with a big character change route while leaving the door ajar for more stories in the Steeple world. His art continues to be a delightful treat as he makes possessed vacuum cleaners and the extinction of the water vole hilarious. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Rising Sun#1 (IDW)– In a feudal tale of Ninjas fighting monsters, we get this comic book serialization of the popular video game, as someone who has never played the game, I felt lost for a good part of the issue, something that should never happen to any comic book reader. Hopefully, a second issue will do more to give more back story. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Borrow
Black Widow Prelude #1 (Marvel)– An adequate primer, nothing more, nothing less. Overall: 6.7 Recommendation: Borrow
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).
(W) Ta-Nehisi Coates (A) Ryan Bodenheim (CA) Daniel Acuna Rated T+ In Shops: Jan 22, 2020 SRP: $3.99
“THE INTERGALACTIC EMPIRE OF WAKANDA” WAKANDA UNBOUND part 2 THE DJALIA UNDER ASSAULT – FROM ITS KING?!
To unite the two empires of Wakanda, the Black Panther must destroy a vital piece of his own nation – the plane of all Wakandan memory and home to the griot spirits who have guided him throughout his rule as king. Can he do it? Can T’Challa banish his own father’s spirit? And will the cost be worth the gain?
(W) Frank Tieri (A) Stefano Landini, Angel Unzueta (CA) Gerardo Sandoval Rated T+ In Shops: Jan 22, 2020 SRP: $4.99
To the men and women of the Marvel Universe, Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane appeared to be a hospital devoted to the rehabilitation of society’s most violent offenders. But appearances can be deceptive, and — as Captain America learned the hard way – some secrets have teeth.
(W) Al Ewing (A/CA) Juan Cabal Rated T+ In Shops: Jan 22, 2020 SRP: $4.99
Once, they were a team of misfits. Now they’re a family, and they’ve earned their peace. But the universe is not a peaceful place — and it’s only getting worse. The Great Empires are in turmoil. The rule of law is dead. And amidst the chaos, the Gods of Olympus have returned — harbingers of a new age of war, reborn to burn their mark on the stars themselves. Someone has to guard the galaxy – but who will accept the mission? And will they survive it? Al Ewing (IMMORTAL HULK) and Juann Cabal (FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN) bring you in on the ground floor of a whole Marvel Universe of action and suspense!
(W) Greg Pak (A) Ario Anindito (CA) Rock-He Kim Rated T+ In Shops: Jan 22, 2020 SRP: $3.99
WAR WITH THE WATER KINGDOM!
The armies of ATLANTIS face ATLAS in a showdown destined to shake allegiances and break hearts! AMADEUS CHO, SILK, WAVE, SHANG-CHI, and all the heroes of the Atlas have bonded with each other after the challenges of WAR OF THE REALMS. But when a terrible secret incurs the wrath of KING NAMOR, who’s the true friend — and who’s the true enemy? A titanic tale of love and betrayal, heroes and monsters, gods and underdogs — plus the shocking return of JIMMY WOO and the original AGENTS OF ATLAS!
(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail
Price: $29.99/Available: Spring 2020)
Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH BLACK WIDOW figure, inspired by the character from the MARVEL comics. This figure features premium design, detail, and articulation for high poseability and display in any action figure collection. The figure also includes a clear, flexible action stand which can hold it in a perfect action pose and features peg holes to attach accessories. Includes figure, stand, and 12 accessories. Available for pre-order at Walmart.com, Best Buy, Entertainment Earth, Big Bad Toy Store, and Hasbro Pulse.
NERF POWER MOVES MARVEL BLACK WIDOW STINGER STRIKE NERF DART-LAUNCHER
(HASBRO/Ages 5 & up/Approx.
Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2020)
Inspired by the BLACK WIDOW movie, this NERF POWER MOVES MARVEL BLACK WIDOW STINGER STRIKE NERF DART-LAUNCHER offers exciting MARVEL action and adventure. With this role-play toy, kids can imagine taking a swipe at TASKMASTER and other evildoers! Boys and girls will love pretending to be BLACK WIDOW, holding down the button on the launcher and performing the STINGER STRIKE move to launch a NERF dart! Includes blaster, 3 NERF darts, and instructions. Available at most major retailers.
MARVEL BLACK WIDOW TASKMASTER STEALTH SLASH SWORD AND SHIELD
(HASBRO/Ages 5 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2020) TASKMASTER is armed with the ability to mimic an enemy’s every move. Imagine the masked assassin TASKMASTER suiting up and carrying out deadly missions with this MARVEL BLACK WIDOW TASKMASTER STEALTH SLASH SWORD AND SHIELD, inspired by MARVEL’S BLACK WIDOW movie. The calculating and formidable TASKMASTER always has a surprise for enemies. Pull the sword from the shield and imagine surprising other combatants in battle! Slide the switch on the shield and it retracts into a gauntlet or opens up. The shield also includes an elastic strap that fits easily on most fans’ wrists. Includes sword, shield, and instructions. Available at most major retailers.
The new era of X-Men books continues this April with Children of the Atom, a new ongoing series from writer Vita Ayala and artist Bernard Chang!This thrilling new team book will debut a new squad of superheroes that will turn the X-Men’s world upside down and you can get your first glance at these new young heroes in R.B. Silva’s stunning cover below! Further details surrounding the cast remain a mystery but it’s no secret that these teens have been inspired by your favorite X-Men. But don’t let their admiration fool you, their adventures will be far different and you won’t believe the twists and turns that await you from the very first issue!
Just who are these new kids?
Written by Ayal, with art by Chang, the first issue’s cover is by R.B. Silva with color by Jesus Aburtov.