Tag Archives: power lines

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 5/1/16

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.


Alex

TEMPLARS_2_Cover A_Chris Thornley4001 A.D. #1 (Valiant) – Valiant’s Summer Event technically kicks off with this issue, but 4001AD #1 is a direct continuation of the events from the last couple of issues of Rai’s solo series. While you don’t need to read them to enjoy this issue (there is a stunning recap page or three) it certainly doesn’t hurt matters. Despite the possibility that some readers may not be as familiar with the characters here, this is a beautiful comic book – or at least it was on my iPhone screen – and I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy (expect a bigger review next week). If you’re Valiant fan, this should be on your pull list, and if you’re not it’s still well worth a read. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Smosh #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Was… kinda interesting, but not really my cup of tea. I’ll probably read the next issue or two, but I can’t justify recommending it yet. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Read it if you’re curious, but it’s more of a Pass

Kings Quest #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Despite being labelled as a first issue I felt like there was more of a back story than was explained (and I don’t think it’s a case of Just Wait Ad All Will Be REVEALED!), but other than that this was a good diversion for ten minutes. There’s some moments that made me laugh, and that almost made up for my disorientation when reading the issue. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Assassin’s Creed: Templars #1 (Titan Comics) – I honestly never expected I’d be rooting for a Templar in the Assassin’s Creed universe, but with this series I find that I am absolutely doing that. Templars is a solid comic; the artwork is appropriately dark and swathed in shadows, deliberately obscuring the Black Cross at times. It’s a nice touch, and one that helps the character come off as the boogeyman that he’s supposed to be. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy if you an Assassins Creed fan, Read it anyway if you’re not.

 

Shean

The Paybacks Vol 1Paybacks Volume 1 (Dark Horse Comics) – When it comes to superhero parodies, Mystery Men, The Tick, and Kick Ass , come to mind , and a few forgettable ones, all come to mind , as they mostly make fun of the genre, with only a few actually honoring it, enter the Paybacks. Just like the Watchmen, touched on the realities of being a superhero, so does this book in rollicking fashion. As we meet a cast of characters, who resemble a few of your favorites much like the way Image’s Sex does, they go about repossessing different superheroes properties as they default on their loans. Within this first story arc, a killer is on the loose, and clues through the story lead the reader right to who it is. Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

 

Ryan

Jacked #6 (DC Comics/Vertigo)* – A very satisfying if thoroughly unsurprising conclusion to what’s been, all told, an excellent little series that’s largely flown under the radar. Eric Kripke’s story has combined super-hero revisionism and mid-life regrets in a manner both seamless and painfully, joyously human, while John Higgins’ art has been a “warts-and-all” feast for the eyes. I’ll miss having this on my monthly pull, and while it’s set up nicely for a sequel that will probably never come to pass, it stands just fine (and then some) on its own. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4 (DC Comics)*  – Only this series could give you an issue where Superman fucking dies (whoops! Spoilers!) and somehow make it feel like a complete waste of time. The story plods along as Carrie Kelly assumes another new identity (this time that of Batgirl), and the former inhabitants of Kandor continue their bog-standard takeover techniques. Brian Azzarello achieves the dubious honor of somehow making a contemporary Frank Miller script even worse via his contributions, while Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson keep on keepin’ on approximating the original “Dark Knight Returns” look to the best of their ability — a task which, at this point, is just getting sad. Overall : 3 Recommendation: Pass

PowerLines02_CoverPower Lines #2 (Image/Shadowline)**  – Jimmie Robinson’s topical exploration of how superpowers (could) affect the urban/suburban and black/white divide certainly continues to be interesting, but while his art remains gorgeous to look at, this issue’s story is perhaps a bit too earnest for its own good, devolving into outright preachiness on many occasions and reducing characters that seemed reasonably fleshed out last time around into mouthpieces for various points of view. Also, no mention whatsoever of the intriguing Native American mythologically-based origins of these powers is anywhere to be found. The whole comic feels like it could’ve benefited from some tighter editing. Still intrigued enough to keep going, but this was a big step back from an excellent debut. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Read

Batman #51 (DC Comics) – So, the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo era comes to a close with an issue that can best be described as an epilogue, but at least it seems a reasonably heartfelt good-bye. There’s no real “threat” on offer here — one is hinted at, but you know it ain’t gonna amount to squat — but as a 22-page victory lap for a couple of creators who’ve had a good run, I can’t fault this book in the least. And it’s nice to see them bid farewell not just to Batman, but to all of Gotham. You’re not going to get choked up or anything, but you’ll probably think to yourself “that was a nice way to go out.” I certainly did. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy


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

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 : Power Lines #1

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Writer/artist/colorist/letterer Jimmie Robinson is a one-man wrecking crew with talent to spare, but in the past your humble critic here has felt like a number of his projects start off well enough, but seem to get sidetracked along the way and fizzle out a bit before — or, perhaps more accurately, instead of— reaching their full potential. With his new Shadowline series Power Lines (published by Image Comics — and full disclosure compels me to inform you that I purchased a copy even though I was also furnished with a digital “freebie,” so hey, the book must be pretty good, right?), my earnest hope is that he’ll buck this trend and give us a series — however long it may last — that exploits its solid-as-hell premise to its fullest and wraps things up in a satisfactory manner when the time comes.

Ya know what, though? I’m in no real rush for that to happen because Power Lines #1 was some seriously good stuff, and this is a story that I’d really like to see take its time developing its characters, fleshing out the nature of their abilities (yes, there are super-powers involved here), and tying together its mythological and contemporary elements into a truly cohesive whole.

Plus, goddamnit, at a time when cops are shooting black kids for no other reason than “he seemed kinda scary to me and his pants were hanging low” (and grand juries are acquitting them for it) and the front-runners for America’s major-party presidential nominations are either tweeting bogus, racist “black-on-black crime” statistics that they got from (I’m not making this up) Nazi websites or trying to back-track on their comments referring to urban youth as “super-predators,” a book about a low-level “gang banger”-type who goes by the street “handle” of “D-Trick” trying to navigate a difficult path through both adolescence and his new quasi-magical abilities strikes me as being an important one, as well.

Toss in the fact that the one other person he encounters who appears to be similarly “blessed” is a racist 48-year-old white widow straight out of Fox “news” central casting, and you begin to see how things could get very interesting very quickly around these parts.

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Shadowline is plugging this one as being “a bold step forward for diversity in comics,” and while Marvel is getting all kinds of credit for the new Ta-Nehisi Coates-written Black Panther series that’s hitting the shelves next week, it should be noted that Robinson has been pounding away in the trenches for a long time and is more than “qualified” to tackle issues of race, class, prejudice, the urban/suburban divide, and related issues given that he’s a veteran, “fifty-something” black creator in a depressingly monochromatic industry. When “D-Trick” and his Oakland-based “crew” hit the all-white suburbs (ostensibly on a “tagging” mission, although one of them appears to have some petty theft on his mind, as well) there’s a palpable sense of tension even before the pigs show up, but the shit doesn’t start to really hit the fan until our protagonist flies away when confronted by the bullies in blue. Things don’t get any easier for him the next day, either, when that racist lady we just mentioned, one Sarah Bellingham, uses an app to track her stolen phone and ventures into Oaktown (do they still call it that?) with her more level-headed ex-Marine son, Kevin, to retrieve her purloined property — only to get “zapped” by a surge of mystical energy herself.

The idea of lines of magical power criss-crossing the globe is a common one in many cultures (the Brits call them “ley lines,” for instance, while the Chinese refer to them as “dragon lines”), but this being California and all, it’s the Native American take on these titular “power lines” that’s at the fore, and a mysterious Shamanistic character, who seems to be able to view events from both afar and up close, is waiting in the wings throughout this issue. So far he appears to be operating strictly in an observer’s role, but you just know that sharing ancient wisdom is his real gig, and  Robinson’s challenge with this so-far-nameless guy going forward will be to both impart some sense of accuracy and authenticity with him as well as to eschew the “info-dumping” that such characters are so often relegated to.  Sure, he’s got a lotta ‘splainin to dooooooo, but let’s hope he does so in a way that doesn’t involve four or five pages of text-heavy “listen, and I’ll tell you a story”-style flashback narration.

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I must confess that I’m already beyond intrigued as to how all these disparate elements are going to coalesce into a singular narrative, and that’s a sure sign that a first issue has done its job. A recent interview on the Image website where Robinson states that his goal with Sarah is to create a real, honest, multi-faceted character who just happens to have some deep-rooted flaws — and, crucially, to explain how and why she came by her “Make America Great Again” mindset — has me eager for more, as well, and shows a welcome (and frankly necessary) willingness on his part to use Power Lines as a tool for dialogue rather than diatribe that a lot of creators, as well as plenty of readers, would do well to take note of. His clean, realistic, unassuming art style further roots these proceedings in a “real world” we can all relate to, and the end result is a fresh and relevant piece of work dealing with weighty themes, weighty truths, and weighty characters in a way that is more concerned with forging an understanding —and hopefully contributing to a resolution — than it is with merely clobbering you over the head with its point of view.

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Which isn’t to say that this book doesn’t have a point of view, though. It clearly does. And while this debut installment could certainly have done with some tighter editing (Kevin is accidentally referred to as Sarah’s “son-in-law” in one panel and information is repeated in two consecutive panels on the second-to-last page), the story here is one that comics — as well as the wider world beyond them — both needs to hear and to understand. Jimmie Robinson seems willing and eager to meet his readership on their “home turf” to start that conversation and to acknowledge the beliefs and opinions of those who disagree with him. That’s both gutsy and mature. And so is the series he’s created here.

Story: Jimmie Robinson Art: Jimmie Robinson
Story : 8 Art : 7 Overall : 7.5 Recommendation : Buy

Around the Tubes

PowerLines01_CoverIt’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for? What can’t you wait to read? Sound off in the comments!

While you await your shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Comics Alliance – Fox Delays Channing Tatum’s ‘Gambit’ Movie – Better to get it right than rush it and get it wrong.

The Beat – Robinson and Barajas join Top Cow – Congrats!

CBR – Flash Crossover Helps “Supergirl” Ratings Soar to New Heights – Not really a surprise.

GamePolitics – Rights groups urge FCC to stop ‘zero rating’ – This could be a big deal.

Jalopnik – This Is The Only Batmobile That Makes Any Sense – Yup, it does make sense.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

ICv2 – Fate/Zero Vol. 1

Newsarama – Best Shots Advance Reviews: TMNT – Deviations #1, Power Lines #1, House of Penance #1

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

School Judgement Vol 2Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Top Pick: Faith #3 (Valiant) – The biggest travesty about this series is that it’s only four issues long. It’s fantastic, and I want more Faith.

Judge Dredd #4 (IDW Publishing) – I never thought I’d enjoy this as much as I did. It’s a cool setting for the urban Judge, and I’m really enjoying seeing him as out of his element as he is.

 

Brett

Top Pick: School Judgement Gakkyu Hotei Vol. 2 (Viz Media) – I loved the first volume which has young kids acting as the prosecutors and defense for school infractions. The first volume ended with the mystery of a magic powder being passed around that’s rather addictive. This second volume continues that with a a new court case defending the person accused of being the one passing out the powder. Fun and entertaining and like no other comic I’ve read.

Darth Vader #18 (Marvel) – Marvel is crushing it when it comes to their Star Wars comics, and I look forward to every single one. If you’re a fan of that world, do yourself a favor and get these comics!

Power Lines #1 (Image Comics) – A particularly politically charged comic by Jimmie Robinson that has an African American kid whose powers only work when he’s in an upscale white community. Potentially interesting and I’m eager to check it out.

Street Fighter X G.I. Joe #2 (IDW Publishing) – There’s nothing deep here. It’s straight up characters from Street Fighter and G.I. Joe fighting. Just brainless fun.

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #51 (IDW Publishing) – The last issue teased the death of a lot of characters after a mutiny and being surrounded by the Decepticon Justice Division. There’s usually a twist and I’m excited to find out what it is.

 

Javier

Top Pick: Six #5 (451 Media) – The team lands in Mexico, and the war with the Cartel begins.

Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire #3 (Image Comics) – Dragons in depression era Brooklyn.  I waited like six years for this arc.

Power Lines #1 (Image Comics) – Interested to see where Jimmie Robinson goes with this one.

Ragnarok #8 (IDW Publishing) – Walter Simonson can do no wrong in my eyes.  Plus I like this new skeletal Thor.