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.
Black Bolt #1 (Marvel) Sometimes I find I have very little to say about a comic other than “Yup, I liked it.” Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read
The Damned #1 (Oni Press)** I got the review copy of this, but never read it. Then I saw it at my LCS for $1, and figured why not? It was easily worth a buck. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy
Secret War #1 (Marvel) I wanted to like this, especially after the zero issue, but I just couldn’t find anything positive to say about an issue that seemed to shift story direction too quickly – where the Avengers mindwiped (I hope so) or have they just accepted that Hydra is in charge? I don’t want to say that the potential of the zero issue seems to have been wasted… but… I doubt I’ll read the next issue. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass
X-Men Gold #3 (Marvel) Didn’t I just read issue #2? The second issue in as many weeks concludes the opening three-parter, and signals the end of the controversial artists. X-Men Gold #3 is quite an enjoyable read, that hearkens back to a very classic X-Men feeling story. It’s an enjoyable read, but nothing spectacular – unlike the previous issue. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read
Eternal Empire #1 (Image) Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna’s latest collaboration is a poetically paced deconstruction of “conquering queen” arcs in fantasy stories, especially Daenerys Targaryen’s in Game of Thrones. The issue opens up with a queen meeting a dragon in an almost beat for beat replay of the Game of Thrones Season 1 finale before cutting to the monotonous, terrible life of a worker that grows the crops that supports her army to conquer even more people for her “eternal” empire. Luna’s use of grids helps nail down the routine feeling of our protagonist’s life, and he switches up color gradients when she tries to run for it. There is lots of worldbuilding on the political, religious, and cosmological fronts, but Vaughn and Luna temper it with a hell of an escape plotline and clean artwork.
Worth picking up for any fans of fantasy and especially relevant in the current American climate of authoritarianism and distraction through a variety of high tech versions of “pak wine”. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
The Dregs #3 (Black Mask) This series continues strong, as Marlowe wanders into an uptown coffee shop and finds what he’s looking for in a vintage clothing store. Where “vintage” means the 90’s. Writers Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler absolutely nail the Chandlerian tone, while artist Eric Zawadski and colorist Dee Cunniffe bring us a place we’ve never seen: the ups and downs of Vancouver. And they all manage to show us that the main difference between the scum and the dregs is where they end up in the bottle. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
The Damned #1 (Oni Press) Confession: The Sixth Gun is one of those series I missed but always wanted to get into. So I was happy to see a new series by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt. The premise: Prohibition-era noir, with demons. Interesting enough (although the gangster thing is a bit played out for me, personally). But I found the debut issue muddled, with Bunn giving too much backstory and not enough information being revealed through the story action (a trick at which Chaykin, for example, excels). And I found Hurtt’s artwork is too cartoony to be really terrifying here. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read
Freelance #2 (Chapterhouse) Still not into it. Wrtiers Jim Zub & Andrew Wheeler can’t manage to be specific enough about the threat to make me care about the plot, nor deep enough about the romance to make me care about the characters. Vaneda Vreak & Cindy Leong’s art feels rushed and too sketchy to really get into the action. I don’t know why, but in my head I kept comparing it to William Vance’s art on the spy series XIII (an unfair comparison to just about anyone) and I was out. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Skip
True Patriot Presents #4 (Chapterhouse) I’m a Canadian Forces brat, so the very idea of Jay Stephens’ Arrowhead totally delights me. (That idea being that industrial defense powerfhouse Avro designs a combat armour program that gets mysteriously cancelled, like its Arrow fighter jet) In this issue, further delight as Stephens brings us a 1956 adventure of the original Arrowhead with giant robots and ex-Nazi scientists. More of these, Jay! Then it’s back to the present, and the future – because time travel is real, bro. Great fun! As for Dominion Jack, the less said the better. Especially considering that, as a patriotic hero name, Canada hasn’t been a Dominion since 1982, when they changed our July 1 holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day. Then onto my hometown of Montreal for Meaghan Carter’s Le Fantôme. I was frustrated from the first caption, setting the scene at Montreal’s Ecomuseum, which is actually called the Biodome (yes, for real). I chalk it up to unnecessary artistic licence, but still. Story and art are both rushed and kind of perfunctory. Also, a note on the Quebec French accent in comics: they don’t pronounce “the” as “ze”, but as “de”. Arrowhead: 8, Dominion Jack: 4, Fantôme: 5 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: grab it (it’s digital-only on Comixology) for Arrowhead alone.
Batman #22 (DC)** For all the griping I’ve done about Tom King’s run on this series, things could be worse — Joshua Williamson could be writing it. He does, in fact, write this issue, and it’s loaded with painfully awkward and clunky dialogue that shouldn’t make it past an editor and makes a mockery of a Bruce-Wayne-meets-his-father scene that even a mildly competent author could wring some decent emotion out of. Throw in Jason Fabok’s dull-as-dry-toast “New 52”-style art, and you’ve got yet another incredibly lame chapter in the rancid “The Button” storyline. Overall: 2 Recommendation: Pass
Bane Conquest #1 (DC)** For some reason I can’t explain, there are people out there who miss ’90s superhero comics, but fear not : Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan are on hand here to remind you of just how lousy they were. A go-nowhere story matched with sloppy, dated-looking art makes for a really poor introductory chapter in this long-form story. 12 issues of this? No thanks, I’m out. Overall: 1 Recommendation: Pass
Postal #20 (Top Cow/Image)** The shit hits the fan in a big way in this issue, as Mark makes a big stand, Maggie does likewise, and a series regular I shan’t name meets an ignominious end. A seriously fun, compelling, even jaw-dropping script from Bryan Hill paired up with strong and dynamic art from Isaac Goodhart makes for one terrific read. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Shipwreck #4 (Aftershock)** I’m not sure how Warren Ellis has managed to cover so much ground — both actual and theoretical — with the sparse, economic scripting style he’s employed for this series, but damn if he doesn’t take things even further here while managing to fill in quite a few of the intriguing blanks he’s left along the way. Phil Hester, for his part, continues to deliver the goods with his smartly bleak, richly minimalist art. Terrific stuff all around. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Injustice #1 (DC) We open up the series with Superman being locked up by Batman, for being too dangerous to the world. As Kal El outlines all the casualties both men have suffered from the events in Injustice. Meanwhile, Harley Quinn is hiding out in Arrows former haven, when she gets arrested by Amanda Waller. By issue’s end, the reader and Harley is introduced to the Suicide Squad. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Bane Conquest #1 (DC) There’s no words for this book, I couldn’t stay engaged enough in the story to know what’s going on. Basically just pass on this one. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass
Jean Grey #1 (Marvel) This issue was so much fun, as it shows a whole different side to Jean Grey. We get to meet an X-man without all the terrible history comics fans have gotten to know and find a character more akin to Ms. Marvel ‘s youthful glee. In this first issue, we find Jean stopping a supervillain group known as the Wrecking Crew. By issue’s end, she more than shows her teeth as a superhero but what will follow, is this version still having to face the Dark Phoenix. Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy
Guardians Of The Galaxy: Mission Breakout #1 (Marvel) In this first issue of this brand new series, we find the Guardians held captive by the Collector. What follows is series of witty banter as they plot on how to escape. Of course, the brains of the operation, Rocket, finds a way out. By issue’s end, they not only freed themselves but the rest of the zoo. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Guardians Of The Galaxy: Mother Entropy #1 (Marvel) This series is straight up “Meh”, I wanted to like it but it is trying to be too many things at once. Overall: 5
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 (**).