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.
Rorschach #1 (DC/Black Label)– First, I have to give kudos to Tom King for digging into the “pirate comics” of Watchmen and their creators. Also, to Jorge Fornes for working with a 12 panel grid and not just a 9 panel one. But, it’s safe to say that Rorschach #1 was a snooze of a read. There are some interesting ideas floating around like eccentric superhero collectors, actual real world comics creators doing seances, and political rivalries, but King and Fornes fail at giving readers a character to latch onto for future issues. They riff and tease, but don’t really do anything with the venerable Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons source material. Plain and simple, Rorschach #1 is boring, not controversial, and honestly, that’s worse in my book. Overall: 5.0 Verdict: Pass
The Vain #1 (Oni Press)– Eliot Rahal, Emily Pearson, and Fred Stresing turn in a funny, sexy 1940s riff on vampire stories in The Vain #1. Rahal and Pearson give the four leads a shit ton of charisma and big queer energy as they cross the United States stealing blood and finding a place where they can live the good life. This is in contrast with the milquetoast FBI agent trying to track them down. Vampires robbing banks is a fun enough premise, but the conclusion of issue one reveals this series’ real, historically connected premise. And it’s even better. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
Grendel, Kentucky #2 (AWA/Upshot)**- Grendel, Kentucky #2 has visually striking art and letters from Tommy Lee Edwards and John Workman, but Jeff McComsey’s script is a bit sluggish. More so, since this comic is set to wrap up in two more issues. McComsey and Edwards establish the scale and frightening nature of the monster on the outskirts of the motorcycle club/weed baron’s land, mostly, through the effects of his actions. There’s some half-assed X-Files stuff with police investigating the patriarch Clyde’s death and a cast of supporting characters that are introduced and immediately offed. Edwards’ visuals definitely transport Beowulf to Appalachia (Sadly, the drug the family would sell/produce would be meth or heroin, not weed though.), but there isn’t much of a story to go with them. Overall: 6.0 Verdict: Pass
Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1 (Marvel)– This was my first experience with anything Warhammer 40K-related, and Marneus Calgar #1 was a definitely accessible take on this popular franchise from Kieron Gillen and Jacen Burrows. They introduce a totally dystopian world with big combat armor, buckets of blood, frightening monsters, lots of religious references, and dark humor around the edges. (I chuckled every time they mentioned certain planets’ life expectancy.) Plotwise, Marneus Calgar #1 is part origin story, part cosmic horror tale showing the titular character’s rise from rich kid to hardened Ultramarine. As a newcomer to the world, I liked the focus on a singular character. Finally, I would be remiss without praising Burrows’ versatile art as he nails everything from the details of weapons to some space marines-in-training’s joyful, yet terrified reactions to their beyond-hard-ass drill instructor’s sayings. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy
Hellions #5 (Marvel)– Hellions #5 throws a spanner in the fetch quest-y works of the X of Swords crossover. Zeb Wells and Carmen Carnero set Mr. Sinister and his Hellions (With a newly grumpy and resurrected Empath) on a suicide mission to retrieve all the swords and avoid the tournament with Arakko. The utter dysfunctionality and eccentricity of the team has made Hellions an entertaining read, and the higher stakes of X of Swords brings it to another level. Mr. Sinister constantly commenting on cuts of capes will never not be hilarious, and he and the team get to match wits with Jamie Braddock in this issue. With the exception of a gross resurrection scene in the beginning, Hellions #5 is more backstabbing and blackmailing than out and out violence. But that’s okay because Carnero is great at showing the quick glances, side eyes, and groans from more upright characters like Psylocke and Havok that fill this darkly funny and downright hopeless take on the typical fantasy quest narrative. Overall: 8.9 Verdict: Buy
New Mutants #13 (Marvel)– Doug Ramsey already has his sword (It’s his buddy, Warlock) so Ed Brisson and the always impressive Rod Reis spend this issue looking at his fears about participating in the tournament as well as his relationships with Magik, Warlock, and Krakoa. The sparring sessions between Magik and Doug have a wonderful energy to them while still showing that Doug’s skill will always be with languages and not combat. Reis uses a welcoming, green palette to show the close relationship between Krakoa and Doug and demonstrate that the mutants would go from being in harmony to basically parasites if he was to die in the tournament. Brisson also continues some of the scheming from Hellions as Exodus is skeptical both about Sinister’s mission and Doug’s chances in the tournament. All in all, New Mutants #13 is a strong character study for one of the most underrated mutants and has gorgeous art, especially when Reis evokes Bill Sienkiewicz in his depiction of Warlock. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy
Cable #5 (Marvel)– In Cable #5, Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto send the Summers family to space to deal with a figure of cosmic terror that has wiped out all of SWORD agents at The Peak space station. There’s a chance for Noto to flex his horror muscles, some family bonding, and lots of various types of energy blasts. Also, Scott gets to have some important conversations with Cable about how maybe he’s too inexperienced to wield a sword in the upcoming tournament. So far, everything in both love and war has gone Cable’s way, and it seems like Duggan is setting him or his family up for a big setback in the upcoming tournament. You know something’s off when Cyclops is utterly confident. Even though this comic has a very “side quest” vibe to it, Duggan and Noto do succeed in creating some tension for the upcoming tournament and showing that Jonathan Hickman doesn’t totally have the market cornered on the Summerses. Overall: 7.7 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 (**).