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Review: Black Panther Vol. 3 A Nation Under Our Feet

Black Panther is coming to theaters and we’re reviewing each trade paperback volume of the current ongoing series from Marvel! We continue with the third volume of, “A Nation Under Our Feet.”

Black Panther Vol. 3 A Nation Under Our Feet collects issues #9-12 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Goran Sudzuka, Walden Wong, Roberto Poggi, Scott Hanna, Laura Martin, Matt Milla, Larry Molinar, Rachelle Rosenberg, Paul Mounts, and VC’s Joe Sabino. It also features material from New Avengers (2013) #18, #21, and #24 by Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Sciti, Salvador Larroca, Frank Martin, Paul Mounts, David Curriel, and VC’s Joe Caramagna.

Get your copy. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Review: Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #4

If you’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on for the past three issues, Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #4 lays it all out there. The reveal by writer Matthew Rosenberg is interesting if a bit too literal. Its taken four issues but we’re finally here.

Unlike last issue, this one feels like there’s actual movement in the story with the X-Men now having an idea as to what’s happening and a better idea as to what to do about that.

There’s some solid moments in the issue as well as some clunkers as Rosenberg is hit and miss in the dialogue. Hellion for instance has a line that had me cringe. Some of the statements by characters just don’t flow well. But, there’s also moments that had me laughing. So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag of an issue when it comes to that.

The art by Ramon Rosanas is decent but not exactly earth shattering. Scenes with Jean in her world and things catching on fire are impressive in a way. There’s a horror tinge to it that is intriguing and the idea and delivery is cool. What’s behind her is burning but when she turns it’s not. It’s a subtle idea but a neat one and looks great on a page. The final panel also hit me with a nice “hell ya” moment.

The issue is better than what we’ve been seeing and it feels like we’re finally getting some movement in things. Moments aren’t wasted here but again some of the dialogue and interactions is a bit stilted and silly. There’s a lot of characters but only a few are the focus. So, it’s overall it’s just ok. But, at least we’re getting somewhere.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Ramon Rosanas Cover Art: Victor Hugo
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg Lettering: Travis Lanham
Story: 7.25 Art: 7.25 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Thanos Vol. 2: The God Quarry

It’s Tuesday which means it’s new comic book day at book stores! This week we’ve got Thanos!

Thanos Vol. 2: The God Quarry collects issues #7-12 by Jeff Lemire, German Peralta, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Mike Deodato.

Get your copy. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Review: Phoenix Resurrection #1

Phoenix Resurrection #1She will return, like a Phoenix from the ashes. Years ago, Jean Grey died and the X-Men mourned her. Since then, the world has changed, her teammates have lived without her and died without her. And now, when strange events start happening all over the world, those teammates can only come to one conclusion – the one true Jean Grey is back!

The build up has been going on for a while now and with Phoenix Resurrection #1 we get the first taste of the how. Written by Matthew Rosenberg, Phoenix Resurrection is a fascinating first issue that’s a lot of mystery. The X-Men are scattered around the world to study phenomena with three teams doing the work. Something is going on with what seems like the dead coming back, but not everything is as it seems.

Rosenberg delivers a solid set up in an opening chapter that feels exactly that. We don’t get explanations, nor should we. Instead, things are teased out at a good pace as everyone attempts to figure out what’s going on. There is so minor issues with a briefing room scene going on a bit too long, but we get a lot packed into the first issue. Rosenberg does a solid job of mixing in a lot of characters and each gets a little bit of a moment. But, not a lot is explained who they are. So, as an intro for new readers, this doesn’t work. For long time X-Men fans,  Phoenix Resurrection #1 should get you excited.

Leinil Francis Yu‘s art is fantastic. This isn’t too surprising as Yu is one of Marvel’s best artists. Gerry Alanguilan handles the inks and Rachelle Rosenberg is on colors. All three together create a fantastic visual treat as we’re taken all around the world. Though they’re each very unique locations, each feels like they all fit together and each X-Man looks fantastic, each with their own looks. VC’s Travis Lanham handles the lettering which rounds out the visuals and with a lot of dialogue at parts, lettering is key.

The first issue is a good one. It sets up the mystery well, gives us some action, and has me wanting to see what’s next. I was skeptical going into this but now I’m excited to see where it all goes. When it comes to first issues, you can’t ask for much more.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Rachelle Rosenberg Letters: Travis Lanham

Story: 8.35 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iceman #7

Iceman #7 has Bobby making an Ice-kaiju to use in battle with his old Champions teammates and also has many character defining moments for him. Writer Sina Grace combines the quick banter and pitched fights of old school superhero team fights with some relationship bits like Iceman going a little further in a sexy way with Judah and chatting with the Champions about his overcompensating, macho ways back in the day at a Russian bakery. Robert Gill’s art is serviceable, and he does something interesting things with spacing like making the new X-Men headquarters in Central Park seemed very crowded compared to Judah and Bobby’s nightly walks in L.A. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors are much the same way even though she makes Bobby’s ice powers look extra badass.

Even though the story is chock full of superhero guest stars, Grace and Gill manage to chisel out an image of Bobby as a hero and man. Iceman is comfortable in team settings, making the jokes, and teaching the younger heroes, but he also wants to strike out on his own, date a new cute guy, and knows that the X-Men are in capable hands. The “villain” in this issue are special effects designers who are hoping to impress a Hollywood studio with their almost lifelike Sentinel replicas. Some heroes would throw these women in jail or in The Raft or somewhere, but Bobby realizes their mechanical talents and desperateness to be significant somewhere and helps find them professor jobs. He can make dad jokes and be honest, empathetic, self-aware, and sometimes impulsive like the end of this issue.

Even though the Champions don’t have their own movie or TV show, like the X-Men, Avengers, or even the New Warriors, Robert Gill and Rachelle Rosenberg deliver on a monster setpiece to open Iceman #7 and cash in on the promise of last issue’s cliffhanger. Bobby displays so much swag, creativity, and leadership in this fight and basically wants to get it over with so he can Netflix and chill with his man. Gill also draws some close-ups of Angel because he is sexy and hell and also because he and Iceman have a close relationship. Later, Grace and Gill use him for innuendo and class consciousness purposes when his wingspan can barely fit in Iceman’s New York apartment. Tempting as it maybe to transform Iceman into a slice of life, romance book, Bobby Drake has been a hero since the 1960s (In comic book years.), and he’s not going to stop even if he goes solo for real this time.

It looks like the Champions team-up isn’t going to continue beyond Iceman #7 although Sina Grace did a nice job of using it to set up an L.A. setting, connect Bobby to non-X-Men related parts of the Marvel Universe, and also dig into why he acted like a macho wannabe flirt in older comics. Grace, Gill, and Rosenberg use Ben-Day dot flashbacks from Bronze Age comics to explore and critique Bobby’s toxic masculinity when instead of treating Black Widow like a powerful ally, he hit on her and was immediately cut down to size. However, he has learned his lesson over the years and is starting to come into his own as a gay man. And this whole freedom thing goes into overdrive towards the end of the issue. But not after he roasts each and every X-Man before movie night.

Iceman #7 is a real turning point issue for the series in both sexy and non-sexy ways as Bobby Drake shows that he can do both the self-realization and transforming his body into Godzilla ice shapes thing. Also, it’s nice to have the same artist on two (not so) straight issues.

 

Story: Sina Grace Art: Robert Gill Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Power Pack #63

In a twist of fate, four children gained incredible powers. And in a universe full of war-hungry aliens and terrorizing gangsters, they would need them. Thus Power Pack was born! But when an enemy from the past rears its head again, the youngest Power finds herself in a body-snatching nightmare! Big brother Alex better come around – or Katie is toast! A never-before-told adventure comes to light as Katie Power revisits family history!

I know I have a couple Power Pack comics in my massive collection but I can’t think of any that stand out (though I was weirdly obsessed with playing a Power Pack team in Heroclix). Despite the span of decades, Power Pack #63 seems to attempt to put the team back in the spotlight with this one-shot Marvel Legacy comic that acts to not only wrap some things up but also as a way to gauge interest.

Writer Devin Grayson nails the story as it’s told from the perspective of Katie Powers. Recounting a battle and some family history to her teacher, the issue does an excellent job of introducing the team to new readers and also nailing what a story told by someone Katie’s age would be like.

That’s what really stands out about the comic. This isn’t an adult telling a story about some kids, Grayson channels what it’s like for a kid to tell a story including skipping important parts and details, some incorrect grammar, and a stream of consciousness narrative. If I asked a kid to tell a story about superheroes, this might be the result.

There’s also a solid narrative technique with an initial story told by Katie read back by her teacher where her teacher has one thing in mind and Katie has something that’s different. It’s cute and entertaining and the comic has both a throwback sensibility about it while feeling modern at the same time.

Marika Cresta‘s art helps with that throwback sense with a style that feels like it invokes a classic look, though the colors by Chris O’Halloran and lettering by Joe Caramagna have a more modern production about them. The kids look like kids and a lot of their personalities are expressed through the art (the comic is from the perspective of Katie so most other characters don’t get much of a focus).

This was an issue I was really intrigued to read and the results are fun and entertaining. The “voice” captured by Grayson is impressive and the series has me wanting to see more of the team in the future. YA is all the rage now and if played smart, the Power Pack could find a whole new audience and life within that genre.

Story: Devin Grayson Art: Marika Cresta Color: Chris O’Halloran Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike McKone and Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 7.65 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.60 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iceman #6

Writer Sina Grace, new series artist Robert Gill (Who ups the beefcake level considerably), and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg give Bobby Drake a fresh start on the West Coast in Iceman #6 as he reunites with his former Champions teammates: Angel, Hercules, Darkstar, and Ghost Rider (The Johnny Blaze version) in L.A. They start by sharing memories about their fallen friend Black Widow (Who was brutally fridged in Secret Empire by HYDRA Cap.), but the story gets much lighter. The banter between the short-lived superhero teammates is pretty fun, and best of all, Iceman finally gets to go on a date and do gay things with a cute guy out West.

Iceman #6 is a little short on action with the bad guy being a Hollywood effects wannabe/single mom, who decides to make her big mark by building a Sentinel and wrecking the city for some reason or another. Her motivation is pretty weak, and she’s basically just there to set up a superhero team-up in the next issue and set up a funny joke mixing Iceman up with the Silver Surfer. (Because they both wear trunks and nothing else sometimes, I guess.) But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Grace and Gill spend most of the issue establishing the bond between the once and future Champions and having Bobby flirt, dance, and yes, even make out with a guy he meets while waiting in line for a new pair of cool shoes. Judah uses even more ,and it’s nice to see someone finally show Bobby the ropes of being an out gay man with the painful coming out to his parents arc out of the way.

He does doing anything crazy or innovative with panel layouts, but Robert Gill brings a real energy and sexiness to his artwork in Iceman #6. My main problem with his art is that his civilian designs for Johnny Blaze and Angel are a little too similar, and I had to use context/comics backstory clues to realize that Bobby and Warren were having a heart to heart on the Hollywood sign, not Iceman and Ghost Rider. However, he more than redeems himself in the sequence where Bobby and Judah cut a rug on the dance floor that has a swirling energy and a blue from Rachelle Rosenberg that is part romantic, part “in da club”. Gill uses a couple inset panels to show off Bobby and Judah’s moves and flirting before zooming out for a big damn Hollywood kiss. He captures the fashion, fun, and friendship of my favorite gay bars and clubs, and some highlights are Hercules’ deep V and Ghost Rider trying to find parking for his bike next to some leather daddies. Grace’s writing digs into a nice vein of awkwardness, self-realization, and adrenaline that I definitely felt the first time I kissed a man  Yay for stubble on cheeks!

With the return of the Champions combined with Bobby going on its first date, Iceman #6 hits a nice sweet spot between Bronze Age era nostalgia and modern slice of life. Sina Grace writes the interactions between Bobby and the Champions like a college reunion (He even studied accounting in grad school during the original series.) with the memories of the past being the main conversation topic except for when he chats with Angel, who is like the good college friend you’ve stayed in touch with over the years. It’s also nice to see him go on a date and use his superhero buddies to impress his date while Robert Gill’s art is definitely more aesthetically pleasing than some of the previous visuals on Iceman.

Finally, the Iceman smooching in this issue is a great belated National Boyfriend Day present.

 Story: Sina Grace Art: Robert Gill Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iceman #5

“Oh no, love. You’re not alone. No matter what or who you’ve been… Give me your hands!”- “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” by David Bowie

In Iceman #5, Bobby finally comes out as gay to his parents, and they don’t accept him unconditionally. It’s an issue that really hit home for me personally and is easily Sina Grace’s best writing on the series. The scenes where the Drakes ask their son insensitive, probing questions about his sexuality are more painful than any blow from the unstoppable, time displaced from the 1960s Juggernaut, who is this issue’s villain of the week. Artist Alessandro Vitti and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg draw a mano a mano battle between Iceman and Juggernaut that is juxtaposed with his coming out letter. These scenes show the cathartic nature of superhero comics for queer people, and their ability to make me escape from my issues with a tale of derring-do and overcoming seemingly unbeatable odds.

In previous issues,  I feel like Grace portrayed Bobby’s parents more sympathetically, but their insensitive, bigoted words towards him in Iceman #5 show why he didn’t come out to him earlier and wanted to do it via letter where he could filter and write out his thoughts in a more organized manner. Vitti draws them with big wrinkles and glaring, ugly expressions as they treat Bobby’s sexuality as hypothetical and even ask him questions about sex life. His mom even uses “mutie” and “queer” as slurs and blames his dad’s side of the family for passing these “genes” to him. Instead of accepting, she constantly talks about how he’s a disappointment, and Mr. Drake won’t even recognize him as their son anymore. Grace and Vitti defuse the tension a little bit with some Idie and Quentin Quire antics, but they get blocked off from the narrative by a literal wall of ice given a glistening sheen by Rosenberg. And Kitty Pryde shows she’s an amazing friend by giving Bobby the opportunity to cut loose against Juggernaut (He probably should have backup though.)

IcemanAngry

And after taking non-stop verbal body blows from his parents, a solo fight against Juggernaut is what Bobby (and the plot of Iceman #5) needs. When the battle begins, Vitti draws a craggier Iceman (Because he’s angry.), and Rosenberg emphasizes the red on his uniform shirt. The battle itself is a blockbuster one and extremely creative as Bobby doesn’t have to hold back against the Juggernaut, whose only motivation is to wreck stuff and kill the X-Men blue team, who brought him to present times from the 1960s.

The dad jokes are gone, and Vitti and Rosenberg replace with double page, shoujo manga-esque spreads of Bobby freezing the speed of light to hit the Juggernaut and then using his ability to change into a vapor to escape his clutches and finally put the kibosh on him. After these pages and a beautiful transformation, the fact that Iceman is an omega level mutant is at the forefront of his character and not just a trivia fact. As he mentions to his dad at the end of the issue, being honest about who he loves has helped him use his mutant powers more effectively. This is definitely true because Bobby does a lot of cool things this issue like impaling Juggernaut on an icicle and sending his ice golems to save civilians while he focuses on keeping Juggy occupied. Water is all around us, and in Bobby’s capable hands, it can be a powerful weapon. Vitti and Rosenberg get really creative with his powers in this issue, especially when he is about to beat the Juggernaut.

The bittersweet ending to Iceman #5 where Bobby and his dad have a polite chat about his letter, say they love each other, and reconcile in the snow rings true to my own experience as a queer man. My parents don’t approve of my sexuality, but they actually do still care about me, and we have a pretty good relationship. Personally, this makes me hurt a lot deeper than a simple Westboro Baptist Church type of hate because it’s infused with love.

Iceman #5 works as a comic because Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, and  holds a mirror to mine and other queer men’s experiences using mutant powers and superhero battles as big visual metaphors of both triumph and empowerment when Iceman defeats Juggernaut all by his lonesome and the feeling of being an outsider with his vapor abilities.

Iceman #5 is a powerful, cathartic end to the first arc of the comic and showed me that I’m not alone…

Story: Sina Grace Art: Alessandro Vitti Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 9.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iceman #4

ICEMAN2017004_covFinally, Iceman gets a little sexy in issue where writer Sina Grace, artists Edgar Salazar and Ed Tadeo, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg have Bobby bump into Wolverine’s mad, bad, and dangerous to know bisexual son Daken while he’s trying to rescue his rebellious student, Zach, from a members only nightclub. Up to this point, Grace has mainly focused on Iceman’s attempts to come out to his parents and hasn’t had him get into any romantic situations with other men. This is why it’s super nice (and hot) to have him flirt and fight with Daken, who isn’t the best influence on Zach, a mutant that can mess up with electronics and isn’t a fan of the regimented life style at the Xavier School.

Iceman #4 is one of the better structured issues of the series with Grace connecting its plot to a previous adventure while throwing in a splashy guest star, some fantastic action, and some real talk about Iceman’s insecurities and faux confidence. He’s supposed to be a teacher, but is still working on his own issues, like coming out as an adult and not reaching his potential when it comes to his ice abilities. Grace doesn’t go as far as painting the X-Men as evil, but he does demonstrate that their almost paramilitary approach to working with young mutants isn’t the best fit for everyone.

Maybe, some mutants don’t want to fight Apocalypse and just want to dance, play video games, and have a good time. (A partnership with Patsy Walker’s superpowered temp agency would easily solve this problem and also give an excuse for bi bae Ian Soo to appear in Iceman.) It’s honorable that Bobby wants Zach to be able to control his vast powers, but threats and lectures aren’t his style, and the teen can see through him saying that he’ll carry him out of the club in ice handcuffs. Later, in Iceman #4, a skewered-by-ice Daken offers some much needed snarky, yet constructive criticism about Bobby’s approach to leadership and teaching. Basically, Bobby is talking at Zach and not having a discussion about how he feels, like when Bobby makes snide comments about Zach’s Internet friend. Iceman is hella insecure in general with his emotions veering closer to his pal, Human Torch, and not his cool exterior. And he’s going to go supernova metaphorically when his parents show up at the X-Mansion unannounced at the end of the comic.

DakenIcemanHot

Edgar Salazar and Ed Tadeo’s art isn’t the flashiest, but it’s easy to follow, especially the action scenes which have clear moves and motivations. Daken has a healing factor so Bobby doesn’t have to hold back and executes a killer finishing move that plays off Daken’s pet name for Bobby featuring a cool metallic sheen from Rachelle Rosenberg. Also, Salazar and Tadeo’s figure work is quite attractive and seems tailor made for the bisexual gaze aka people who have crushes on both Kitty Pryde and Iceman like yours truly instead of awkward, how is that even a human being 90s inspired superhero art. The cherry on top of the sundae that is Bobby Drake in a white tux is Daken, who is a true homme fatale, and in Salazar and Tadeo’s hands, his ice abilities turn into a kind of sort of metaphor for Iceman possibly being sexually frigid. However, dating and sexy stuff after coming is a real maze to navigate so I also like that Grace, Salazar, and Tadeo are slowly easing Bobby into the world of romance and sexy times.

Some of the dialogue is cheesy, but Sina Grace, Edgar Salazar, Ed Tadeo, and Rachelle Rosenberg make Iceman #4 one of the more memorable issues of the series by adding a hint of sexual tension in the interactions (and action of the mutant powers sort) between Daken and Iceman.  Also, Zach running away exposes some vulnerabilities in Iceman beneath his dad joke making, Disney movie referencing, and ice golem hurling exterior.

Story: Sina Grace Pencils: Edgar Salazar Inks: Ed Tadeo Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.0  Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iceman #3

Iceman3CoverThe unofficial title for this issue should seriously be “No More Mr. Nice Gay”.  Iceman goes over to his parents’ house to reconnect and perhaps even come out  to them, but the family “bonding” is interrupted by a Purifier attack. Iceman #3 is the darkest issue of the series yet, and Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, and Rachelle Rosenberg give us a glimpse of Bobby’s omega level mutant abilities during a battle in his childhood home. He doesn’t come out to his parents in this issue, but Grace skillfully uses the metaphor of the mutant and the X-Men to show how difficult it is for more traditionally minded people to come to terms with queer people. He writes Mr. and Mrs. Drake very compassionately even if his mom is a little obsessed with asking if the X-Men offer any benefits like a 401K.

With lines and pockmarks everywhere, Alessandro Vitti’s take on human beings aren’t super pleasing in Iceman #3. At the same time, it’s nice to see folks with wrinkles and laugh lines, and the things that make us human. He and Rosenberg fare better during the intense action part of the book. Bye bye ice slides, and hello ice shards and trapping people in ice as Iceman doesn’t pull any punches with the bigots who held guns to his parents’ heads. Iceman is making Elmer Fudd jokes, and then he sees an asshole in a trench with a gun going on about justice. Something snaps, and the pace of the comic gets more frantic and the ice projectiles get more dangerous. By the end of the issue, Iceman is acting closer to Wolverine than his jovial self walking through bullets and explosions and marking up his enemies. He has a reputation as a jokester, but cares about his family and wants to protect them no matter the cost.

Iceman3Interior

Some of the best parts of Sina Grace’s work on Iceman has been the scenes where Bobby opens up to friends or family about his emotions and his life as both a mutant and a gay man. There aren’t any epiphanies or Hallmark moments with him and his parents in Iceman #3, but they slowly begin to understand where Bobby is coming from. I enjoyed reading the interplay between them at the dinner table and even though they have different lifestyles and beliefs, all the Drakes use humor to deflect serious situations. They have the kind of messy talks that mostly families do. It’s kind of sad that Mr. and Mrs. Drake still struggle to understand their son’s life as a mutant and X-Man, but they love him fiercely. I was pumping my fist when Mr. Drake called out the Purifiers’ leader Beckett for using his religious beliefs as a justification for hatred and violence even though he was being held in a chokehold.

Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, and Rachelle Rosenberg start to find their storytelling footing in Iceman #3 with their combination of introspective heart to heart and superhero action. There is less humor and more darkness in this issue, but who has time for one-liners when your family’s lives are threatened by hatemongers.

Story: Sina Grace Art: Alessandro Vitti Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 9.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

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