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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays 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!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

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

The Avengers #10 (Marvel) – Marvel has underplayed this issue which marks the 700th of the Avengers. So much goes down here, it’ll set the direction for the Marvel Universe for quite some time.

Bitter Root #1 (Image Comics) – A spin on the horror genre, the first issue messes with tropes and we can’t wait to see where it all goes.

Bloodshot: Rising Spirit #1 (Valiant Entertainment) – An origin to the popular character, who will soon have his own movie. This seems like it’ll be a solid jumping on point to check out the hype.

Captain America #5 (Marvel) – Ta-Nehisi Coates doing Captain America a nd every issue has been amazing so far. A perfect blend of action, continuity, and politics.

Comics Comics Quarterly #1 (SBI Press) – An amazing group of comics… write comics!

Electric Warriors #1 (DC Comics) – A limited series that takes us to an unexplored timeline, the Cosmic Dark Age! What?! Yeah, we’re excited to find out.

Firefly #1 (BOOM! Studios) – The cult television show comes to comics with a new publisher and explores the history of the universe. A must for Browncoats.

Mister Miracle #12 (DC Comics) – The epic mini-series wraps up and after last issue, we’re beyond excited to see where it goes.

Transformers: Unicron #6 (IDW Publishing) – This is it, years of Transformers comics wrap up. Who will stand and who will fall and what’s next? We can’t wait to find out.

Uncanny X-Men #1 (Marvel) – The X line kicks off from here with this weekly event and a return of the classic title.

The Unstoppable Wasp #2 (Marvel) – The first issue felt like the return of an old friend and we’re excited to read more of this beyond fun series.

William Gibson’s Alien 3 #1 (Dark Horse) – The unused script for Alien 3 by William Gibson gets turned into a comic. Hell yes!

Exclusive Preview: Captain America #5

Captain America #5

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan with Leinil Francis Yu
Color: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Alex Ross
Variant Cover: Elizabeth Torque
Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao
Associate Editor: Alanna Smith
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Rated T+
In Shops: Nov 14, 2018
SRP: $3.99

As the noose of betrayal tightens around the necks of Captain America and his closest allies, the Power Elite makes its move – in the person of the immortal Selene!

Preview: Black Panther #5

Black Panther #5

(W) Ta-Nehisi Coates (CA) Paolo Rivera (A/CA) Daniel Acuna
Rated T
In Shops: Oct 31, 2018
SRP: $3.99

T’Challa and the rebels finally have the tools they need to recover the memories the Empire stripped from them – but not everyone thinks the past is worth saving. Especially in the face of the Empire’s swift and merciless vengeance. But for T’Challa, there is only one path forward. And it may mean rebellion against his own.

Review: Captain America #4

With Sharon missing, Cap must single-handedly invade the stronghold of his enemies! But even if he makes it through, what’s waiting for him is a hundred times more formidable: Taskmaster!

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has been delivering a run on Captain America that feels as much as a conversation about the state of America as it is Captain America.

Captain America #4 continues “Winter in America” with Cap attempting to save Sharon Carter. While the issue could easily just be one big fight scene, and it really is, Coates uses it to explore the reality of it all. Through the punching Cap reflects on where things stand including the apparent betrayal by Thunderbolt Ross. He laments that individuals who have in the past wrapped themselves in the flag.

We can take this on face value and Cap is just talking about those he’s been battling in these issues but it’s hard to not pull back and think how much this applies to our real world. Through Captain America, Coates feels like he’s making a statement on current American politics and the willingness for a certain party to so easily turn their backs on the ideals they’ve wrapped themselves in for decades.

The art by Leinil Francis Yu is fantastic as expected. Joined by Gerry Alanguilan on ink, Sunny Gho on color, and Joe Caramagna on lettering, the art is beautiful to look at. The issue has a lot of action and a battle between Cap and Taskmaster stands out. Some of the details, especially showing the pain of the battle, are solid. The small touches add a lot to it all. And the mix of such action with Coates’ more introspective thoughts by Steve are an interesting combination.

The issue is another excellent entry from the team and Cap has been one that’s a mix of action and exploration of today’s America and the situations we face. It’s a superhero comic that makes you think and is a prime example that you can easily mix politics with superhero comics.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Sunny Gho Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a Free copy for review

Preview: Captain America #4

Captain America #4

(W) Ta-Nehisi Coates (A) Leinil Francis Yu (CA) Alex Ross
Rated T+
In Shops: Oct 10, 2018
SRP: $3.99

With Sharon missing, Cap must single-handedly invade the stronghold of his enemies! But even if he makes it through, what’s waiting for him is a hundred times more formidable: Taskmaster!

Exclusive Preview: Black Panther #4

Black Panther #4

(W) Ta-Nehisi Coates (A) Daniel Acuna (CA) Paolo Rivera
Rated T
In Shops: Sep 26, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Rebellion among the rebels! When M’Baku rises to lead the Nameless, he’ll advocate for a new strategy in their war against the Empire – one that goes against everything T’Challa believes. But M’Baku’s plan could save lives. And without his mantle, what power does T’Challa have to fight for what he knows is right?

Review: Captain America #3

Cap and the Black Panther embark on a daring raid into the heart of the Nuke army, while Sharon Carter takes on a secret mission into danger!

There’s a brilliance in Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ run on Captain America that can be summed up in just one panel in Captain America #3. The issue has Cap heading the “middle America,” a town that was left behind before Hydra. When Hydra took over America, they brought back work, they improved the schools, they brought healthcare with them. These people, are those “left behind” in Marvel’s world reflecting the very real sense of the same in our real world.

Coates doesn’t go for the easy path of labeling them racist, or saying their racist in their association and acceptance of Hydra. Instead, Coates uses the situation to explore American ideals and how these individuals have abandoned them but at the same time they’ve been abandoned as well. These individuals feel they were made a promise in America’s excellence something they haven’t seen, something they lost. And, they were, are, willing to abandon their countrymen to again feel that.

It’s that promise that’s fascinating and Coates with one panel, the one above. “Morning in America” refers to the award winning campaign ad run by Ronald Reagan in 1984 which featured Americans going to work with a calm, optimistic narration. It suggested any improvement to the United States was due to Reagans policies enacted in 1980. The slogan is a metaphor for renewal. Nevermind America had to give up so much for those policies that led to genocide at home (AIDS crisis), an economy that left average Americans behind, and illegal wars throughout. We gave up many of our ideals, Americans helping each other, for Reagan and the Republican promise of “individualism.”

In one panel, Coates sums up the themes and ideas he’s exploring throughout this initial arc. He also shows that Captain America remains a politically centered character and series.

And even with that, Coates still manages to get some fight scenes in that reminds us, it’s still an action comic. It’s possible to mix the political with the entertaining. It’s possible to have the best of both worlds. And it can work and work really well.

Leinil Francis Yu’s art, with ink from Gerry Alanguilan and color by Sunny Gho, is fantastic as expected. There’s a weariness about it all and you can feel the weight and tiredness, the hope and loss, on the shoulders of every character. Yu is able to balance a quiet moment in a bar with an action scene in an evil group’s lair. There’s main street America and underneath an insidiousness of it all. All delivered through the art and tiny details.

The issue, the series so far, is utterly brilliant. It questions where we are as a nation. It questions what it is Captain America is standing up for. It makes us think and debate what America truly is. It also reminds us that we too easily trade our ideals for security and have on too many occasions abandoned those who live in the United States.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Sunny Gho Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Black Panther #3

Black Panther #3

(W) Ta-Nehisi Coates (A) Daniel Acuna (CA) In-Hyuk Lee
Rated T
In Shops: Aug 22, 2018
SRP: $3.99

The rebels make their move! On the verge of liberating the Nameless, T’Challa, M’Baku and Nakia hunt for mysterious artifact that promises to turn the tide. What is the M’Kraan Shard? And will T’Challa find its acquisition worth the cost?

Review: Captain America #2

Distrusted by a nation that seems to have lost faith in him, Steve Rogers is a man out of time and out of options! Where can a now-unsanctioned Captain America turn for aid and assistance in order to stem the rise of the cabal of influence brokers known as the Power Elite?

I loved the first issue of Ta-Nehisi CoatesCaptain America. The issue directly addressed the fact that it wasn’t too long ago that Steve Rogers was the face, and leader, of a fascist organization that took over America. It addressed the distrust that exists due to that and the fact he’s a man attempting to find his place in the world again. It questioned what he’s fighting for with echoes of the real world around us.

Captain America #2 is an excellent follow up focusing more on the Nukes running around terrorizing an America that’s putting itself together. They’re the tattered resistance, disgusted that those who stood up against Hydra and fascism are discarded for leadership and praise by those who rolled over so easy. It’s an issue that reminds us that true heroes and true villains are hard to find as they have an actual valid point. It also begs us to question what will happen in our real world once the Orange Cheeto and his Gestapo 2.0 are no longer in charge. Who will feel the same way attempting to take credit for the resistance while those who navigate politics so well slide in to fill the leadership void. These are the themes that Coates seems to be working with and the questions he’s asking the readers. This is a comic that entertains through the amazing action and also has deeper layers left for the reader to ruminate about.

That amazing action is in part due to Leinil Francis Yu’s beautiful art. The action is great giving us sequences worthy of a summer blockbuster of death defying stunts that are in no way realistic but lots of fun. Beyond the action though we get the pain and thoughts going through Rogers head in quieter times where he reflects on the situation. It all looks amazing.

This is a complete package of a comic that has lots of action on the surface and so much more below. While things are still being set up in Coates’ signature style, the ending leaves us questioning what’s next in a “I didn’t see that coming sort of way.” When a soldier and a patriot doesn’t have a country or government that believes in him, who might he turn to? What roads may he walk down? Are there others who better embody his ideals he can fight for? These are all questions we’re about to find answers to in what is an amazing run so far.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Art: Leinil Francis Yu Cover Art: Alex Ross
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Captain America #1 Mixes Ripped from the Headlines Relevance with Old School Marvel Action

On 4th of July aka Captain America’s birthday, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu began a new era for Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Sharon Carter in Captain America #1.  There’s a lot of plates to spin in Coates’ opening storyline from Russia-based vampires interfering in American politics to Cap trying to balance being an inspirational figure while being confronted by a horde of men dressed like Nuke and his relationship with Bucky, Sharon, and the flag on his shield and chest. However, the comic keeps from being overwhelmed by these things by leaning on action with gritty work from Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. The clean art and lantern jaws of Chris Samnee’s run are replaced by pained face, sharp edges, and a muted, shadow filled and it fits a story where Thunderbolt Ross (Who is still a buzzkill). There’s even a well-placed use of a nine panel grid, which I hear is all the rage these days and kudos to Coates and Yu for using for a difficult interpersonal scene between Steve and Sharon and not just a knife fight or something. (Not that there’s anything wrong with knife fights.)

Probably, the boldest decision that Ta-Nehisi Coates makes in Captain America #1 is facing Secret Empire head on and having Steve still fighting to clear his name while also re-casting that whole debacle of an event in the real world light of the election of Donald Trump, Russian tampering of that election, and the increased boldness and acceptance of fascists and white supremacists, who have been here all along. The United States didn’t fight a war against Russia or an army of fascists and lose: they lost at the ballot box and have been losing since 1492, 1607, or 1619 when the first African slaves were transported to Jamestown. Coates and Leinil Yu deal with these real world issues and complicated nature of patriotic iconography through an icon himself: Captain America and explores how problematic he has become in-universe like when Thaddeus Ross benches him for a mission to see who is behind the opening attack of New York City. But somehow guys like Baron Strucker are okay because they helped lead the resistance against HYDRA.

Steve’s struggles with his iconography being co-opted first by HYDRA Cap and then in this issue, by the Nuke wannabes attacking Washington DC, is the emotional heart of Captain America #1. Yu and Gerry Alanguilan give readers plenty of prototypical Captain America shots like throwing his shield into battle, using the shield to protect an injured dad and his son, and then Coates gets to write a great Cap speech. But, then, the narration undermines these moments as Cap wonders what to say to a woman who has lost her daughters and looks around at the collateral damage surrounding the National Mall. And, after the battle, he is immediately undermined by Ross because “appearances matter” and the cloak and dagger spy and assassin skills of Bucky and Sharon are more useful than a guy running around in an American flag costume. A symbol is useful to any resistance, but not a tarnished one, and Yu eschews the heroic poses for middle distance disappointed faces.

But Captain America #1 isn’t all about Steve and his feeble attempts at restoring his legacy. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu using the opening and closing moments of the comics to set up a compelling villain: Selena, a millennia old mutant with “psychic vampire” abilities. She both uses her powers and a mysterious protege, Alexa, to take down HYDRA cells in Russia and to also influence the American government as the head of Faith Based Initiatives in a blink or miss TV screen cameo. In Captain America #1’s cold open, Selena and Alexa prove to be a formidable threat to a group of HYDRA soldiers with plenty of pyrotechnics and snow from Yu, Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. Coates doesn’t go the secret villain cliche route and immediately introduces the threat while promising to unpack her connection to the U.S. government and finding some way for Steve to confront her in subsequent issues. Having a powerful Russian force interfere with the American government is compelling in light of current events, but that having that threat be a New Mutants villain with vampire-like abilities is a very Marvel way to go about it.

Playing off the classic Captain America quote from Frank Miler and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again “I’m loyal to nothing except the dream”, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu unpack the role of Cap as an icon and hero in Captain America #1 while kicking off an action conspiracy storyline that is like our current reality, but draped in Marvel Comics lore.  There is a questioning aspect to this story as Steve, Bucky, and Sharon are consumed with doubt and separated by their new roles in this ever shifting new status quo. Also, it’s kind of sad that the weapon that Steve uses to finally take down the Nukes could also incapacitate his best friend.

Captain America #1 is thrilling, thought provoking stuff and hasn’t been this meaty and compelling since Ed Brubaker’s run on the title.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Pencils: Leinil Yu Inks: Gerry Alanguilan
Colors: Sunny Gho Letters: Joe Caramagna 
Story: 9.2 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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