Tag Archives: the sheriff of babylon

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

killorbekilled01-coverWednesdays 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.

Anthony

Top Pick: Kill or Be Killed #1 (Image Comics) Praise the comic Gods or whomever for the beginning of another series from Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser. If you haven’t read anything by this creative team, that needs to change…now. The premise remains fairly mysterious with the focus being on an individual whose vigilante actions of killing those that have wronged others begins to affect the people he keeps around him. The creative team and collaborative efforts of Brubaker and Phillips have yet to disappoint so this is a definite must read/buy.

Paper Girls #8 (Image Comics) – Fresh from its Eisner wins for Best New Series and Best Penciller/Inker for Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls continues to be one of the best titles being released not only by Image, but any publisher period. The mystery continues to thicken with a monthly treat of Chiang’s images with Matt Wilson’s bold colours and Brian K. Vaughan’s smart, fast paced script.

Tokyo Ghost #9 (Image Comics) – It is unfortunate that this has to be the penultimate issue of Tokyo Ghost. This series has been an entertaining, thought-provoking ride that will surely set up quite the finale from the fantastic creative team of Rick Remender, Sean Gordon Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth.

Lady Killer 2 #1 (Dark Horse) – Writer/Artist Joelle Jones is back with more Lady Killers! The first series was an absolute delight, diving into the life of Josie Schuller whom juggles between her life as a 1950s housewife and contract killer. Colourist Michelle Madsen looks to pick up the reigns of Laura Allred from the last series and looks to be in more than capable hands judging from the gorgeous, sleek preview pages.

4001 A.D. War Mother #1 (Valiant) – The most anticipated one shot from the 4001 event from Valiant was a mystery for a good portion of time. When it was revealed that it would focus on a character introduced during the Book of Death and to be written by Fred Van Lente, the level of curiosity rose. Once some preview pages revealed the mind blowing pencil work of Tomas Giorello, the attention of many was officially grabbed.

 

Alex

Top Pick: 4001 A.D.: War Mother #1 (Valiant) – So this is Valiant’s mystery comic that’s tying into  4001 A.D., eh? With all the hype that the publisher have been trying to build around it, I really hope it’s half as good as they seem to think it is, because if my guess is right this could be a launching point for an entirely new set of stories in the 4001 A.D. time-frame.

Dishonored #1 (Titan Comics) – I loved this game when I played it on PS3 a couple years ago, so I’m excited to see where the story has progressed to since the end of the game. I’m also expecting this to be less than excellent, but I’m always

Evil Heroes #1 (Zenescope Entertainment) – I’m not gonna lie, this is here solely because of the name. I know nothing else about the comic…Moon Knight #5 (Marvel)

Moon Knight #5 (Marvel) – Moon Knight versus Moon Knight. Just when you thought this couldn’t get any crazier…

Suicide Squad Rebirth #1 (DC Comics) – I have never read anything Suicide Squad before, so with the movie coming this week, what better place to start?

 

Brett

Top Pick: March Book 3 (IDW Publishing/Top Shelf) – The third and final volume of Congressman Lewis’ recounting of his time during the Civil Rights movement. The third volume is powerful on its own, but when combined with the first two volumes you have a trilogy that’s a modern classic.

Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth #1 (Oni Press) – This first issue had me laughing and this series looks like it’s going to be completely out there and enough dick jokes to make the 8 year old version of me giggling.

Kill or Be Killed #1 (Image Comics) – Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser, that alone is the reason I’m excited for this one.

Lady Killer 2 #1 (Dark Horse) – Joelle Jones is back with a new volume about our favorite housewife/killer Josie Schuller. The first issue is absolutely fantastic and has me excited to see what else is to come.

Sheriff of Babylon #9 (Vertigo) – The best comic on the stand right now. This issue as the various threads coming together and it’s done so in a way that’ll have you amped up to see what comes next and yelling at the comic in frustration of the disaster that is the US’s occupation of Iraq.

Review: The Sheriff of Babylon #8

The Sheriff of Babylon #8 CoverChris and Sofia are in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bomb goes off, threatening to add two more corpses to the body count that’s been growing on their own mission to get back at the murderers who started them on this path to begin with.

The Sheriff of Babylon #8 is about so much more than what’s listed above. Nassir. Sofia. What’s the real connection that brings these two together? What’s their history? What demons does Nassir have in his closet? All of that is explored here as Nassir is interrogated and brought into the mission at hand, the capture of the terrorist Abu Rahim. But, is everyone on board with that mission?

Writer Tom King has woven a tale that’s so much more than its parts. The comic is one part murder mystery and one part look into the war in Iraq and particularly the Green Zone.

It’s that last part which is really on display here by King. Much of the comic is that history of Nassir and his connection to Sofia and in just a few panels King pulls us out of that and reminds us that this is all taking place in the middle of a war zone where danger is all around.

King’s writing is enhanced by Mitch Gerads. The details Gerads puts in every panel is amazing. It can be subtle, but it adds so much to the overall story. It’s absolutely amazing and a masterclass in storytelling.

A perfect example of this is towards the end of the comic which features the use of a Superman sheet that features comic book panels. For many, the use of this sheet might be overlooked, but its coloring makes it stand out, almost screaming at the reader to be noticed. It’s small details like this that adds so much to the story. Here, a symbol of American ideals, freedom, justice, AMERICAN way, can’t be ignored and underlies a theme that’s been threaded throughout a lot of the series. A perfect example of imagery that enhances the dialogue.

The Sheriff of Babylon #8 is another issue of this absolutely amazing series, one of the best of the year and the best comic Vertigo has released in quite some time. This is the perfect combination of story and art which come together to tell a story that’s as entertaining as it makes you think.

Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Tom King and Mitch Gerads Talk The Sheriff of Babylon, Plus a Preview

SHRFBAB_Cv7Baghdad, 2003. Florida Police officer turned military contractor Chris Henry is tasked with training a new Iraqi police force. When one of his trainees ends up dead, Chris is forced to team up with Nassir, the last remaining cop in Baghdad. Pulling the strings to bring them together is the mysterious Sofia, an American-educated Iraqi who has returned to take control of the city’s criminal underworld.

Written by Tom King with art by Mitch Gerads, The Sheriff of Babylon is a gritty and brutal look at the Iraq Green Zone through the lens of a crime drama.

I got a chance to talk to Tom and Mitch about the series, their collaboration and how accurate the series is.

Graphic Policy: I think it’s best to start at a simple question for those who might not be familiar with the series. Where did the concept of The Sheriff of Babylon come from? I know it’s partially based on your experiences in the CIA Tom, but where did the idea come from to infuse it with a crime drama?

Tom King: I wanted to write about Iraq, but I can’t write about my story in Iraq… because… they wouldn’t let me, and they’d come and arrest me. It didn’t interest me for two reasons. I don’t like writing about myself, and I don’t think my opinions are too interesting. Number two, reliving those years are tough, and doing it more direct wouldn’t help that. So I wanted to write about that experience and that bizarre place that was the Green Zone in 2004 and as a writer, the easiest place to go to is the crime drama, the murder mystery. That’s the basis of Watchmen as an example. We’ve created this strange world, how do I explore it? The first thought a writer has is there’s a murder and someone has to solve it, so your detective goes from place to place to solve it, it’s an easy plot.

I started there and thought it was a cliche, so I thought how can I work with that cliche and went “what if that it’s almost a facade and the murder mystery starts off the book and how people react to the murder mystery is what it’s actually about.”

GP: Mitch, how’d you come on board for the series?

Mitch Gerads: I got a call one day, and had an issue or two left of Punisher and got a call up about being pitched a few books at Vertigo. I was being very selective at the time. I had turned down a few different things because I was waiting for something that excited me. And I got the Sheriff pitch which was described as Justified in Iraq. And I was told Tom was writing and I said stop trying to sell me. I’m in. And I did some character sketches, Tom approved them, and we were off to the races.

SHRFBAB_7_1GP: With the art aspect, you’ve done a lot of military themed comics in the past. How do you go about it as an artist to get all of the details from the uniforms to the weapons to the Green Zone itself down?

MG: Research, especially with this book is really important to me. It’s a real place, full of real people, and real tradition, and we came over there and we’re real people. It’s a very real time and I wanted to get as much perspective as possible. So heavy in the research, every street corner, every nook and cranny, are all real places, and nothing is made up. I spent a half hour researching what kinds of phones they have in Iraq. It turns out, the same phones we have here. But that’s kind of the deep rabbit hole I went down.

I have a lot of friends in the military or were in the military and they always talk to me about how much they love comic books and movies, and how easily it is for them to be taken out of them when things are blatantly wrong. They’re brought up trained with these tools and everything. I take it all seriously. I’ve take classes on how to move with a firearm. I’ve taken classes on culture and stuff like that. It’s all super important to me and I find it important. More than that I find it interesting which is really fun for me. This book is right in my wheelhouse.

GP: How accurate is the comic to life in Iraq and living in the Green Zone?

TK: Yeah, pretty much everything takes place in some place. I don’t any research at all, I lived it, so I do all my research from memory. I try to remember places. I’m also the luckiest writer in comics where I have an artist who can catch me if I’m falling, I don’t have to tell them that type of stuff. To me, it’s scary accurate. In issue six, when they’re in front of those bunkers, trailers, whatever you want to call them. They’re almost perfectly accurate. It feels like a place I’ve been. There’s one location, I won’t say where it is, where I totally made it up. I needed it for plot. Mitch drew it really well, but I’m afraid someone will call me out on it and say that place doesn’t exist, it’s not entirely accurate. But, I’m not going to say which location it is. 98% of locations are true:

SHRFBAB_7_2GP: Do you have to run each issue through the CIA to check off?

TK: I do. I do. Every issue I have to run through the CIA. And they approve it.

GP: Has there been an instance yet where they haven’t allowed it? Or asked you to change something?

TK: No. No. I’m very serious about that stuff. I have no desire to talk about what I saw when I was in the CIA. They entrusted me with secrets I should and will keep. So I’m pretty good in knowing what to put in and what not to put in. We haven’t run into any of that stuff. I hope they see the book is respectful and doesn’t try to use hyperbole to make them look like crazy people because they’re not.

GP: The story I think is interesting in that it deals with a real world issue, real world politics, but there doesn’t feel like there’s a political agenda. It doesn’t skew left or right. It’s just “we’re there” and here’s this crime drama. Is that something you’re intentionally doing?

TK: It’s completely intentional. I in no way wanted this to be a screed about politics. I think when you read a comic book and you can immediately translate what that person would say on an issue on Twitter, you’ve failed. A comic book isn’t meant to be a code to my political views. I’m not thinking of an essay in my head and I’m translating it into a comic book and then you read it. Hopefully by writing something that’s true, we can get beyond those words, beyond the essay in my head, the essay of my opinions that aren’t that interesting, but my experiences of every day of it, the experiences of these characters could be interesting. So I try to stay away from that stuff because I don’t think it’s worth anybodies time.

MG: The military guys I know, who have served or are serving over there, we’ve had these conversations. I think one of the greatest things about Sheriff is that it stays away from that political stuff. I talk to these guys, very few of them if any of them, are thinking of the political. They’re there doing their job and they’re there to protect the guy next to them. That’s their day to day. And I think that’s important to show, just the day to day.

SHRFBAB_7_3GP: Going back to the look of the series. The color palette is very limited so far. How’d you decide on that? Was that something you two discussed or did it naturally happen?

MG: My biggest thing, color is my favorite part of the process. It’s where I get to make people feel things, where line art becomes atmosphere. So I wanted it to look hot, dusty, and people to finish an issue and need a glass of water.

And then there’s kind of a cool story too. I met a fan at a convention and we began talking, and we started to talk about color. He was a Marine and he was in Iraq. He battles with PTSD and he remembers those moments in color codes. For example the first time he was shot, the color would be blue. The memory is a blue world. That really struck me. I went home and when I thought about Sheriff that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to give every scene a color code that seemed to be created with a specific tone.

GP: Issue five I think is one of the strongest comics I’ve read this year so far. The images tell the story as much as the words do. A subtle look or movement, or small detail, they all add to the story. How much of that is in the script and how much of that is you Mitch?

MG: I don’t think Tom points it out, but I think it’s in the script. I can see that conversation taking place. So at that point it’s my job to show that to the reader. And take actual weird little shrug. I try to give every character their own little ticks.

TK: I think it’s all Mitch, that issue especially. I remember, I turned in the script and I was so proud of it. Conversation and then more conversation. And I got the art back without the letters, I realized my words aren’t as good as the pictures. I sent an email to my editor that I was going to redo a lot of the dialogue, because he’s so much better than me and I can’t let him show me up. So, that issue in particular, Mitch has nailed the characters moves and everything, I needed to make sure the words were up to par. He killed it with that thing.

MG: Like I do with a lot of method, I just drank throughout the entire issue.

SHRFBAB_7_4GP: Speaking of the storytelling, the series has been expanded. How’d that impact the story?

TK: You can see it in issue five and issue six. In my original outline it was supposed to be one issue. In my head it was always a twelve issue mini. And when I got it green lit they said it’d have to be eight and we’d see with sales, so I shortened it with eight. Then with the DC exclusive, it was timely and came my way. When people were talking about Batman, I went into Dan (DiDio)’s office and said “what do you think about twelve issues?” He said “done.” He was incredibly nice about it, but that came through because of the support of fans.

GP: Once this wraps up, will see more of your experiences in Iraq or your experiences with the CIA in general? Have you said what you want to say with this?

TK: It’s an ongoing series and hate to spoil what issue thirteen will be… This story ends, all the mysteries are solved, there is a resolution, kind of like how Omega Men ended. This is Sheriff of Baghdad, the next will be about the Sheriff of Babylon and the Middle East and War on Terror that I experienced. I wasn’t just in Iraq, I was all over the place. I want to continue with that theme.

GP: I’m wondering about some of those themes and always wonder if we as readers read too much into things. Particularly I’m thinking of who this series’ Sheriff actually is. There was the issue that explores the regional history as far as that title, I think that was issue four. Issue five it references it in another way. Is that something as a writer you think of and you purposely work in this thematic storytelling?

TK: I try to put that stuff in there and point to symbolism. I never get it in my head “this is exactly what it means and I hope they figure it out, and they solve the mystery that is the heart of Sheriff.” I’m just trying to go beyond words with a story and find some truth. I want to try to dig at those things. I don’t want to put a label on them, because when you put a label on it, it becomes totally banal. That stuff is in there. I’m trying to say something with Babylon, the Bible, and the Sheriff. What I’m trying to get across is something the reader has to come to and we have to come to together. And once you do that, you find the truth. It’s interaction.

SHRFBAB_7_5GP: What type of feedback have you two gotten about the series, especially from those that have served or experienced this life?

MG: I have a few people who I know that are in the service and read it. They’ve gotten back to me and they love it. They dig it’s something they remember. They dig that it rings true. They dig that it’s not preachy. That dig that it’s anti-them. The idea of evil Generals, and all that drives them nuts. The response has been great, both military and those involved in that aspect and comic book readers. Comic book readers love that they know this rings true, but they don’t know it themselves. They’re getting a peak at this world that exists that thye don’t anything about. Even for me that’s my favorite thing, learning more, learning about this culture and people that are out there somewhere and we’re getting it through a different lense.

TK: After all that, what’s amazed me on the total nerd level, the Hollywood reaction. The fact we get producers, these writers, they want to do a tv series and all that stuff. That’s entirely new to me and I’m just sort of nerdily excited about that as a guy who watches too much tv.

GP: I want to thank you both for the time.

And for readers that are interested, check out a preview of issue seven below which is out June 8.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 4/9/16

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

JOHNNY_RED 6 coverGrizzly Shark #1 (Image) This is without doubt the most entertaining comic I’ve read all week. There’s a lot of blood, which is to be expected when a shark roams the woods. How does it roam the woods? I don’t know, and I don’t honestly care, but let’s just say it flies. Yeah. A flying grizzly shark. Amazing. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Johnny Red #6 (Titan) continues to be one of my most anticipated titles every month, and amazingly it has met my expectations each time. While you may not be able to find single issues that easily if your shop didn’t order enough in, keep an eye out for the trade (or single issues digitally, but the artwork suffered digitally on my laptop when it came to the double page spreads in every issue but this one), because this has been a fantastically entertaining series. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Detective Comics #51 (DC)* As a Jim Gordon comic this is fantastic; getting a glimpse into who he was before Gotham City is fantastic. I would have been happy without the inclusion of the batsuit, honestly, but then would this still be a Batman comic? Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Darkness: Hope (Image Comics) An interesting story that probably would mean a lot more to me if I had a bit more context for the Darkness’ world. But as somebody who has really never read much, if any, Darkness comics this was qutite accessible and enjoyable. I can only assume it’d be more so if you’re more familiar with the characters.  Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

 

Brettempress 1 cover

Black Widow #2 (Marvel) – Continues the action packed narrative from the first issue. The team of Waid and Samnee are nailing the action/spy vibe of the character. Just lots of fun and everything I hoped it’d be. Overall Rating: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Empress #1 (Marvel/Icon) – An ok beginning for Mark Millar’s new series with Stuart Immonen on art. The first issue continues the more subdued Millar we’ve seen lately. Not a bad start, but something didn’t quite hook me. I’ll definitely check out the second issue to see where it goes. Overall Rating: 7 Recommendation: Read

The Walking Dead #153 (Image Comics/Skybound) – This one is all about Negan. I know we’re not supposed to like the character, but there’s something about him that isn’t making that happen. While his methods are bad, lets face it, he’s often right. Overall Rating: 7.7 Recommendation: Read

The Fix #1 (Image Comics) – The first issue nails it. So much fun and entertaining. One of my favorites of the week, and one of my favorites in some time. Overall Rating: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

grizzly shark 1Grizzly Shark #1 (Image Comics) – It’s a shark that lives in the forest. The idea sounds like a SyFy movie, and it’s so absurd it’s amazing. So over the top. So over the top funny. Overall Rating: 8 Recommendation: Read

Think Tank: Creative Destruction #1 (Top Cow Productions) – I loved the first volume of this series. This second volume is a decent start but missing some of its intelligent subversive fun of the first volume. This may read better as a trade, but it’s still a smart start that’ll get you to think. Overall Rating: 7.8 Recommendation: Read

The Bunker #16 (Oni Press) – As usual, this series surprises with every twist and turn. It’s a long drawn out read that’s beyond smart and an impressive in what it’s pulling off. Overall Rating: 8.1 Recommendation: Read

Gold Key Alliance #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Bringing together all the classic Gold Key characters into one universe and the same time. I’m not 100% sure what’s going on, but I want to find out more. Overall Rating: 7 Recommendation: Read

Johnny Red #6 (Titan Comics) – One hell of a comic that continues the action and gives us a bigger picture as to what’s going on. Garth Ennis is nailing this WWII comic. It hasn’t been a let down yet. Overall Rating: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Mighty Zodiac #1 (Oni Press) – A fantasy comic that’s cute in its execution. It’s a blending of various genres with animals taking the roles of kung-fu masters. It’s a cute start and could be good for younger readers. Overall Rating: 7.1 Recommendation: Read

 

Ryan CTheFix_01-1

The Fix #1 (Image) — Who can say no a reunion of the Steve Lieber/Nick Spencer team that brought us “Superior Foes Of Spider-Man” — the coolest Marvel comic since a guy named Kirby was making them? Not me. And while it may not be considered much of a stretch of their creative talents to see this tandem handling a series about half-assed criminal fuck-ups again, well — does anyone do it better? Nope, they don’t. And now their characters get to use all the curse words and double-entendres they want. The good times are back, folks — get in on this one now. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

The Wicked + The Divine #18 (Image) — Okay, I really thought that Laura was dead, too. And I’m happy to see her back. And I’m happy to see this new arc will be a bit heavier on the action and thrust the plot forward a bit more aggressively. And, of course, Jamie McKelvie’s return is gloriously welcome. But Kieron Gillen is veering dangerously close to allowing his (let’s be brutally honest) ultra-self-conscious, “too cool for school” writing style to overwhelm his own story. Which would be a shame since it’s terrific (the story, that is). Or, as Gillen would say, “Overwhelmed. Me. It happens. Bowie’s last album. Ish eight of Enigma. They do it to me. Wash over. Devastate and cleanse in one go. I want to do that here. Can I do that here? Some say it’s so close. Here. In our pages. So gratifying, that. To others, it’s already happened” — yadda ,etc., you get the idea. The story and concepts on offer here are as fresh and relevant as ever, and very nearly as awesome as the author himself thinks they are. But the shtick is starting to wear thin. Keep your eyes on the ball, please, Mr. Gillen — you’re this close to a masterpiece, don’t fuck it up by spending too much time telling us that you know are, too. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy

The Sheriff Of Babylon #5 (DC/Vertigo)* — Way more awesome than any issue about two characters sitting around getting drunk for 20 pages should be. My best guess is that this story expanding from eight parts to 12 is what made this “let’s take a deep breath here” installment possible in the first place, and thank goodness for that. Tom King’s script still silently justifies neo-colonialism (and neo-conservatism) more than I’m comfortable with personally, but the guy can write dialogue like nobody’s business, and Mitch Gerads keeps providence08-regthings visually interesting despite the fact that, at least on paper (shit pun, sorry) , there’s not much happening. My favorite issue of the series so far, although the “action-hungry” crowd may find it not to their liking. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Providence #8 (Avatar) — I’ll be posting a full review up on my own site and a couple of other places in the coming days, but as a place-holder until then, let me just say that the full scope of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ epic is coming into something like a muddled an intriguing view, and it looks to me as though it’s been an occult ritual all along. Not just any occult ritual, either, but arguably Moore’s most ambitious one yet : obliterating or otherwise making irrelevant the line between “fantasy” and “reality,” “dreams” and “waking,” the “conscious” and “unconscious” mind — or, to be glib, to write a true story that he just happens to be making up. And I think he may just pull it off. Ten times more imaginative than any other series on the shelves, twenty times more well-executed, and fifty times more important. This fucking ratings scale we use needs to go beyond ten for issues like this,. where our protagonist, Robert Black, finally meets H.P. Lovecraft himself, but since it doesn’t, all I can say is Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

 

Sheanxena 1

Xena #1 (Dynamte): In one of the rarest cases where the spinoff is as good as the original, Xena: Warrior Princess, was an epic show, all its own,reinvigorating interest in medieval mythology, it often surpassed the quality of shows on major networks. Since the show’s series finale, the interest has just only grown and for good reason, and as Dynamite Entertainment has been in the nostalgia business as of late, they have brought back Xena in all her sword wielding glory.Within the first issue, we catch up with Xena and Gabrielle 25 years later after an enchanted sleep to find Xena ‘s daughter. By issue ‘s end, Xena and Gabrielle, definitely has bargained more than they have ask for, as they meet an old friend turned adversary. Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 10 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: The Sheriff of Babylon #5

The Sheriff of Babylon #5Now that Chris and Nassir have stuck their noses where some people wish they hadn’t, everyone seeks shelter behind the gates of the American stronghold within the Baghdad Green Zone. When both Chris and Nassir’s wife Fatima are unable to sleep, they have an unlikely meeting of the minds and share their experiences from the War on Terror. By morning, Chris will see the Iraqi woman in a whole new light.

You know that scene in war movies where the soldiers reflect on life and their own lives under the moonlit sky just before a battle commences, one which there’ll be some casualties? That’s The Sheriff of Babylon #5, as Chris and Fatima grab a bottle in Vodka, sit down, and reflect on how they got to this moment. And it’s so good. Luckily we’ll be getting more of it as the miniseries has been expanded to 12 issues.

This issue does a lot, especially for Chris, as we start to get a better idea as to why he enlisted and what his worldview is. His history as a cop is examined and while the 9/11 connection might feel like it’s a stretch, it’s still believable the impact it’d have on him, with his guilt guiding him in his new career decision. That all might seem vague, but I don’t want to ruin it. It also again adds layers to the series title, especially the “sheriff” part, much like last issue.

The brutal honesty writer Tom King gives Fatima is impressive. He creates a deep, complex, realized character who is a personification of the muddy mess that is foreign policy. She reflects on her thoughts on Saddam, the embargo against the Iraqi people, and 9/11, all of which makes sense in a worldview that’s guided by personal experiences. Her biggest focus is so simple and a product so many of us take advantage of and don’t think about. When she mentions it, it creates a weird connection where we can better connect with at least some of the hardship she’s gone through, it’s an attempt to create that connection.

Both characters are a result of their experiences, like we all are, and this issue emphasizes how it can be the little things that have some of the greatest impact.

The art by Mitch Gerads as always is impressive, and here without exciting moments (it’s seriously 9 page panels of two people drinking and talking), it’s the small details he adds that makes a difference from a possibly boring scene full of speeches, to an interesting back and forth where every movement and position is examined. But, it’s not just that positioning and movement that’s impressive, it’s also the moments not involving Chris and Fatima that are so telling, a story and commentary expressed only with images. An example are the closing panels featuring an artifact of the past and a cat.

The Sheriff of Babylon again and again impresses with its layered storytelling that challenges the reader to not just read between the lines and deeper meanings, but also think about history (both modern and of the distant past) and how that history has impacted our own views. It’s an excellent discussion of modern and world events and the current situation in Iraq, and a discussion whose politics are muddied and not so clear. This is a prime example of how comics are more than just spandex and superpowers and instead can be used to explore and discuss our modern times and the geopolitical world.

Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 5/3/16

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

Detective_Comics_Vol_2_49Dues Ex #1 (Titan) I’ve never played any of the Deus Ex games, but after reading the first  issue of this comic, I’m probably going to find a copy. It’s a universe that looks like it’ll be an interesting place to spend a few hours, rife with some pretty powerful story options. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Detective Comics #48 (DC)* After taking a break from this series with #47 because I didn’t read the Robin War crossover event, I finally picked #48 up this week. While not the best Batman comic I’ve ever read, it is fantastic to see Jim Gordon ditch the mech suit for an issue or two and get back to the detective side of the Dark Knight. Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Detective Comics #49 (DC)* Typically when I do a mini review of two or more comics of the same series I’ll just do one mini. This time, because #49 was a step above the past issue I didn’t. With issue #49, the mech suit is still nowhere to be seen, and the story is feeling like a classic Batman detective tale with an entirely new Batman and support team. This is what I was hoping for when Jim Gordon became Batman. And the cover? Nothing has been as effective as conveying the difference between Bruce and Jim as that cover. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

 

Mr H

Black-Widow-1-CoverBlack Widow #1 (Marvel Comics)* The duo of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee take on the ravishing Russian in a brand new series. The whole issue from start to finish is an epic chase as Natasha steals an object of worth from SHIELD and the action is high octane from the go. Maria Hill deems her public enemy number one. The jaunt from panel to panel is magnetic and action packed. Not a whole lot of substance this issue but it sure did sizzle. Plus the mystery of what she took already makes want to come back for more. Score: 7.7 Recommendation: Buy 

 

Ryan C

The Violent #3 (Image)** : A serious step in the wrong direction for this otherwise-terrific series as, for the sake of purported “characterization,” Ed Brisson’s signature gritty, realistic dialogue gives way to stilted, wooden exposition and “info-dumping.” When our main protagonist pours his guts out to his buddy, it’s literally cringe-worthy stuff, and not in a good way. Adam Gorham’s art is still great, and the book goes some way toward redeeming itself with a solid ending — but even there, you’ll see it coming about three our four pages out. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

DeadlyClass_19-1Deadly Class #19 (Image)**: A terrific annoying-little-shit-bugging-the-record-store-clerk opening page gives way to 20 or so pages of the most balls-out, unhinged, ultraviolent action you’re ever going to come across — even in this series. Wes Craig’s art? Brilliant as always, of course, and Rick Remender does a nice job of interspersing the blood-soaked insanity with just the right number of “character beats” to keep things moving as far as each indvidual’s “arc” is concerned, as well. The twist at the end is handled pretty clumsily (which is certainly far from the norm for these creators, so we’ll cut them a bit of slack), but still provides a visceral exclamation point to the proceedings. If watching the shit hit the fan is your sort of thing, there’s probably not a better book out there for you right now. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Sheriff Of Babylon #4 (DC/Vertigo)** : How do you top last issue’s revelation that two of our principal characters are lovers? How about with this issue’s surprise bomb-drop that — nah, that would be telling. Suffice to say if everyone was knee-deep in shit before, they’re neck-deep in it by the time this installment reaches its conclusion. Mitch Gerads keeps killing it on the art, while Tom King layers on both further elements of intrigue — and, unfortunately, militarist, right-wing, pro-imperialist propaganda not-so-cleverly hidden under a thinning “realpolitik” veneer. “Ex”- CIA, my ass. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy

unfollow 5.jpgUnfollow #5 (DC/Vertigo)** : How fucking addicting is this book, anyway? So apparently everyone’s been voted off the island — literally — in unison, and our cast is headed back home to either piss away their fortune, hope to stay alive as their “benefactor”‘s sick real-time experiment in Social Darwinism plays out — or, more than likely, both. Mike Dowling’s art is gorgeous, Rob Williams’ script is breakneck-paced and populated with intriguing characters, and things are really hitting that “sweet spot” we comics fans know when a writer and artist are in perfect synch. If you’re not picking this book up, you’re missing out on a thrilling and compelling read with a strong and deftly-handled social message that feels very much “in the now.” Plus, it’s always good to be reminded that rich people are, invariably, absolute bastards. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

 

LGW_Crossfire-CVRShean

Looking Glass Wars: Crossfire TPB (Automatic Publishing): Frank Beddor continues his fast and furious adventures in the intricately sculpted world of Wonderland, one full of those rabbit holes but with even more dangerous consequences than Alice ever faced. Through the various books and graphic novels, this world has faced war and now a ceasefire has brought on more unease as tensions persist amongst the factions and Princess Alyssa must find a way to maintain order. She brings on Ovid Grey, as he more than a smooth operator in this world , he is the answer. By book’s end , life has never been more complicated for Princess Alyssa than at this juncture. Art: 8 Story: 9 Overall: 9.5 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: The Sheriff of Babylon #4

The Sheriff of Babylon #4 coverThe danger is mounting, but Chris is no closer to finding out who killed his trainee than he was when this whole mess started. After their enemies make attempts on the lives of Nassir and his wife, the Iraqi couple seeks asylum in Chris’s barracks, leading to a gathering of all the principle players when Sofia arrives to tell Chris a shocking secret.

The fourth issue of The Sheriff of Babylon kicks off with some interesting Islamic history telling the story of Saffiya and by the end of this portion of the comic, you’ll begin to contemplate who the “sheriff” in the title actually is.

That layered thought provoking aspect is one of the numerous examples of how the comic gets you to think. Three issues in and writer Tom King has me examining the series so far.

At first glance, Sheriff of Babylon might seem like a simple police procedural, but set against post-war Iraq it’s as much an examination of US foreign policy, geopolitics, and nation building as it is a dead body. This issue too really makes that clear with a revelation at the end of the issue which either really shakes things up going forward or shows the long historical ties within the country.

The story is also a classic mob story shifted to a different location and replacing the stereotypical Italian with Iraqis. The double crosses, the numerous players, it’s a classic story in a new setting, and one that shows that genre has international appeal and is truly universal.

Mitch Gerads art is stunning and ads to the brutal nature of the story. He does a fantastic job of mixing the quiet moments of discussion along with brutal scenes, but what impresses me the most about his art is the detail that he includes that visually tell the story as much as King’s words.

The Sheriff of Babylon is a fantastic adult series exploring recent history packaged in familiar pop entertainment and a genre that we often see. It’s a riveting series that has me looking forward to the next issue and I seriously have no idea what to expect next. I just know it’s going to be amazing.

Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads
Story: 9.1 Art: 8.7 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/2/16

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

johnnyred4Johnny Red #4 (Titan)** I love this series; it’s a fantastic WWII era story about a British fighter ace fighting for Russia (but do the Russian brass really want him there?) that tugs on my fondness for war comics, my respect for those who fought in the war, and my love of high quality stories. That this just happens to be one of my top two comics released this week, is just a happy accident. While this isn’t an ideal point for new readers to jump on – what with it being right in the middle of the series – it’s worth hunting the back issues down. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Surviving Megalopolis #2 (Dark Horse) I was surprised by this series. It has a slight flavour of Irredeemable but with enough of an original twist to the “Justice League’s gone bad” that it should pique your interest, because it’s well worth reading. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Cry Havoc #1 (Image) I finally got around to reading a couple of the last week or two’s comics, and this was fantastic. I should have read this when it came out, because the mix of the supernatural, an awesome lead character (or two) and some brilliant art make this a must read. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

europa 3Batman: Europa #2, #3 & #4 (DC)* I found the differences in the art style issue to issue jarring – at first. Then I realized that whether intentional or not (and I think it was) it absolutely makes sense given the nature of the story. I devoured the three remaining issues that I hadn’t picked up in less than an hour. Truly great stuff. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Amazing Forest #1 & #2 (IDW) Are a pair of fantastic anthology comics. You don’t need to read the first to enjoy the second, but both issues have some brilliant short comic stories within them that are – at times – out of this world, but are all fantastically entertaining. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Doc Savage: The Spider’s Web #3 (Dynamite) Meh. It’s okay, but just doesn’t do it for me. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read, maybe?

The Precinct #3 (Dynamite) I wasn’t that impressed with the last issue, but this one was a lot better. It definitely drew my interest much better, and felt like a much more complete installment in this story. Plus, the steam punk aspects are fantastically understated. This comic would be just as good without them, but why would you want that? Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Cage Hero #4 (Dynamite) While I have enjoyed the issues so far, I’ve enjoyed them as I would the Sharknado movies; Cage Hero is good because it knows exactly what it is, and it celebrates it with every cheesy bit of dialogue, every been-there-read-that scene. The thing is, it does those things almost well enough to be worth buying, but does fall a lttle short. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy

 

Mr H

Spider-Man_1_CoverSpider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)* Whooo Miles is finally here in the Prime Universe! This issue was great. I didn’t enjoy an issue like this from Bendis since his first story arc on Ultimate Spider-Man. Miles is having trouble balancing hero life and school responsibilities. What makes the issue though is when he swings into action. Spidey takes it right to Blackheart and even wields Captain America’s shield! Just a whole lot of fun and it ends with a great cliffhanger. Bendis and Pichelli have another win. I already can’t wait for the next issue. Overall: 9 

 

Patrick

Vision #4 (Marvel) * – This is the best book about robots that needlessly stars robots. There’s really nothing about the book so far that would prevent an editor from taking out the fact that it stars androids and replacing them with a racial or religious minority family and telling the same story. If the point of the story was to humanize the Vision, why is it being injected with this daytime soap plot? I was so glad they acknowledged the Vision had previously been married to the Scarlet Witch because the whole book began to feel like it took place in a pocket universe. Tom King is amazing and I keep reading to see what he’ll do. Gabriel Hernandez Walta is a tremendous talent and I’ll often by a book just because I enjoy his dark tones and the way he captures human emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this book. The characters just haven’t meshed with the story yet. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

PaperGirls_05-1Paper Girls #5 (Image)– It saddens me to only be writing a shortened review but I don’t want to spend the time being negative about one of my favorite writers in a luscious and gorgeous book. The issue mostly resolves its own tangential distraction this issue and writes two characters who we didn’t really know super well in the first place. I have re-read every issue since it came out and I still have to go back and figure out the names of the four central characters. I like that this issue ends with them literally somewhere else (as it’s beginning to feel like they have just been bouncing back and forth between the same locations accomplishing nothing). The story… I like to start with a summary of what’s happened. You can usually tell how good a book is by how much the summary changes from review to review. I’d be writing the same summary if I did a full review.  Overall: 7 Recomendation: Read

Detective Comics #49 (DC)*– The best part of Jim Gordon-Batman is still just watching him roll with the punches and really do his best. Bruce Wayne-Batman is always treated like a dark god that somehow stands toe-to-toe with everyone from Darkseid to street-pushers. Jim Gordon’s Batman wakes up the whole neighborhood with a blimp spotlight trying to conduct an investigation and fails to get anyone turn it off before just breaking it. I also like some of the darker imagery (for a mainstream DC comic) which helps me balance out the idea that all Batman and his team are doing is watching statues. Seriously, someone’s probably being assaulted in the alleyway adjacent to one of the statues, Batman. Can you think big-picture for a second? Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

Spider-Man #1 (Marvel)* – This book follows Miles Morales integration into the mainstream universe following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths (right? I didn’t read Secret Wars, I already had the trade for the original Crisis so I just read that). Honestly, Miles Morales is far more like Peter Parker than Peter Parker has been for a very long time which helps me to understand why this issue ended with me thinking, “Oh, yeah… it’s that red-and-blue rip-off Spider-Man! Oh, red-suit Venom!” Bendis’s best work comes when he is not writing every book with the Marvel logo printed on it (so, essentially everything from before ten years ago), however Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor own Miles Morales as far as I’m concerned. There’s something about Pichelli’s angles that make the formerly ultimate Spider-Man so dynamic. I’ve seen static shots of Spider-Man web-slinging for years, but Pichelli’s renditions always make me stop and admire her work. Overall: 6.5 Recommedation: Read

Uncanny X-Men #3 (Marvel)– I miss this book when it was drawn by Rob Liefeld. I miss this book when it was drawn by Mike Allred. I miss this when it was written by Rick Remender. Am I making my point? I struggle with subtly. My point is that it’s sacrilege to have the Uncanny X-Men title be a clone of one of its own spin-off. (I also struggle with perspective.) Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

 

Paul

vision 4Vision #4 (Marvel) * Still, in my opinion, the best All New All Different title that I’m reading. Vision still has no idea what his wife has been up to and what she’s hiding; and Virgina comes face to face with her blackmailer and the meeting does not end well. I could feel for her in this issue, and her situation; feeling helpless and things spinning out of control, thanks to King’s writing and complemented beautifully by Walta’s dark tones in the art. I look forward to this title every month and you should be too. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy 

Uncanny Avengers #5 (Marvel)* Well here’s a surprise…I didn’t hate it! Rogue, Deadpool, Human Torch and (briefly) Cable are on the hunt for the Red Skull, or more accurately, Professor X’s brain in Red Skull’s head. They do some good cop/bad cop and get a lead on where to find him. The trio (no Cable) break into where they are told they will find Skull and instead find none other then Gambit. He and Rogue have a brief litte reunion and Red Skull slips right past the team…literally. This isn’t a bad stand alone issue coming off the end of the debut story arc. The action was good and I’m sure the search for Red Skull will be explored in more depth as the series goes on.  Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read 

 

Ryan C

Providence #7 (Avatar Press) *: The best book on the stands by a country effing mile keeps getting better as hapless protagonist Robert Black finds himself thrown into the Lovecraftian underbelly of America’s physical and psychological horror-show and constructs the most bizarrely effective means for rationalizing his experiences, and coming out the other side more cheerful and optimistic, that I’ve ever witnessed. Thrown in themes of class division, loneliness and isolation, and the terrible burden of keeping secrets and this is “Pickman’s Model” as you’ve never seen it before. Alan Moore’s most compelling “major work” in decades combined with Jacen Burrows’ flat-out breathtaking art makes me feel genuine pity for the folks out there who aren’t reading this. Much as I love any number of current comics series, the simple fact is that right now there is “Providence” — and there is everything else.  Overall: 10. Recommendation: Buy

unfollow 4Unfollow #4 (DC/Vertigo) *: Rob Williams’ fiendishly clever social-darwinism-disguised-as-charity premise goes from “gettign warmer” to “heating up” with this issue, and I can only imagine what “boiling” is going to be like. Somebody we’ve gotten to “know” a bit dies in this issue, and it appears we’re going to get a murder mystery added to the mix here, as well. On art, Mike Dowling seems to be stepping out of his self-imposed Frank Quitely shadow and developing his own, more organic style, so that’s good to see, as well.  Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy

The Sheriff Of Babylon #3 (DC/Vertigo) *: Another strong and compelling series of wrinkles is added to our layer-cake of corruption and rat-fuckery in Occupied Iraq — and speaking of fucking it turns out that two of our protagonists are doing just that — but while Mitch Gerads’ art continues to impress with its grittiness and authenticity, the script by “ex-” CIA operative Tom King (yeah, lots of folks quit the CIA and go into low-paying freelance writing) is taking on a more blatant neo-colonialist tone that seems very much of a piece with the right-wing themes on display in the author’s other high-profile works such as “Grayson” and “The Omega Men.” King hasn’t earned the right to be compared to Ditko, but both are examples of people in comics whose work I admire despite finding their politics anywhere from questionable to downright nauseating. If there’s any doubt in your mind as to where King stands, I’ve seen him say that he’s “proud” of the work he did in Iraq. I’m sure his “former” bosses are proud of the work he’s doing, supposedly of his own volition, to spread their worldview in our entertainment media. Troubling material to say the least, but I can’t deny its quality.  Overall: 7. Recommendation: Buy, but know the writer is probably supplementing his income with a check from Langley.

Swamp Thing #2 (DC)*: Len Wein and Kelly Jones’ “back-to-basics” take on the character continues to showcase both the best and worst aspects of 1970s horror comics — the best being Wein’s deliriously OTT purple prose and Jones’ heartfelt stylistic homage to the art of Bernie Wrightson, the worst being the lame-ass, easily-resolved plot (that could, I suppose, work as a one-or two-parter in a monthly ongoing, but feels downright bizarre in a six-issue mini-series) and the shoe-horning in of guest stars for no apparent reason. The Phantom Stranger I could see, sure — but what possible point does plugging Shade from “Starman” into this story serve? Nice little epilogue/cliffhanger at the end, though, and I’m still loving the ride for the most part. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Buy.

 

Shean

Shaft: Imitation of Life#1 (Dynamite Ent.): The adventures of John Shaft continues in this new miniseries as we catchup with him right before he becomes a successful private investigator. All it took was one case of a mobster’s missing daughter to propel his business. As he enjoys the fruit of his success, David Walker proves that it has not changed the man, as he takes on another missing person’s case , finding trouble at every turn. Altogether, a strong first issue to an already entertaining series. Overall:9.4 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 (**).

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 17/01/2016

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

FaithNo1

Batman: Europa #1 (DC Comics)* – Yeah, I’m three months behind here, but after dropping the lackluster Detective Comics during the last crossover, I needed some Batman this week. I was not disappointed here. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Batman/Teenage Mutant  Ninja Turtles #2  (DC/IDW)* – There is nothing wrong with this second chapter. Nothing. It’s exactly the fun comic I wanted, and I love it. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Cage Hero #3 (Dynamite) – I don’t know if this has become a  guilty pleasure for me, but I’m enjoying this series. I can’t tell if it is being deliberately tongue in cheek,or if it’s just that cheesy, but either way it’s fun. Is it worth reading? Honestly, I don’t know – the review copy is entertaining, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Faith #1 of 4 (Valiant) – My reservations on picking this comic up were utterly groundless (that of a character spun out of Harbinger – a book I’ve never read), and I should have known that before going in because it’s a Valiant comic. The first of four issues is brilliantly illustrated, with some fantastic moments within the story where Faith does what we’ve all done once or twice and imagines…. what if? This issue is fantastic, and is exactly why you need to have Valiant on your pull list. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Huck_03Holy F*cked! TPB (Action Lab) – Satan is pregnant with Jesus’ baby. But will the skate boarding son of God make it to the hospital in time, when an immortal is out to stop him? Holy F*cked! is as brilliantly wrong as it sounds, but it’s such a great collection that you can’t help but love it. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Huck #3 (Image) – Y’know I could talk about the emotional power in the largely silent opening pages, or the genuine warmth you feel when reading this, but why don’t you just buy the series so far and find out why I love this so much? Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

The Precinct #2 (Dynamite) – There’s a lot here that, in theory, I should love. Unfortunately, despite the fact that there’s a lot of boxes checked off in my “like” column this comic just didn’t do it for me. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it, but I felt it fell a bit short of the first issue. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

The Troop #2 (Titan) – Despite the promise shown in the first issue, I couldn’t help but feel that this comic felt familiar. The concept of a man (with a secret!) building a team of superheroes has been done before, and in enough cases it’s been done better. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Rebels #10 (Dark Horse) – Is, as far as I can tell, a standalone story. It’s also the first issue I had read, and I was impressed. Rebels is a solid offering that stands alone this week in terms of it’s setting, so if you’re looking for a comic that takes place during the Revolutionary War, then this is for you. If you’re not? Think about this anyway. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

 

Brett

Birthright13_coverAbe Sapien #30 (Dark Horse) – Beautiful art plus a new villain (at least I think he’s new), this is an issue that can be a standalone, but I’m sure will have some big impact. The Mignolaverse is one of the best out there, and this issue shows off why. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Batman ’66 Meets the Man From U.N.C.L.E. #2 (DC Comics) – The comic is campy goofy fun, capturing the two series it mashes together. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 (DC Comics/IDW Publishing) – I still go back and forth with the coloring but this series has no right being as good as it is. Didn’t think it’d work, totally does. Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Birthright #13 (Image Comics) – The comic still continues to be entertaining, and there’s some solid twists and turns that have kept me on my toes. A fun fantasy comic set in the real world. Overall: 7.9 Recommendation: Read

Citizen Jack #3 (Image Comics) – Can’t say I saw that twist coming, or is that realistic at all, but the sniveling campaign staff is spot on. Fun political satire. Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

descender09_CoverArtDescender #9 (Image Comics) – One of the best comics out there continues on doing so. Amazing read. Amazing art. Nuff said. Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Extraordinary X-Men #5 (Marvel)* – The series is growing on me, but it’s still missing something that makes it really stand out. I’m still interested in seeing where it goes though. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Hero Hourly #2 (21 Pulp) – How aren’t more people talking about this series. The biggest surprise of 2015 also is one of the best of 2016. Holy crap is it good. Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Huck #3 (Image Comics) – When I think I have Mark Millar pegged, he does a series like this. Still waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me, but so far an amazing comic. Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Illuminati #3 (Marvel) – Turn your brain off fun. The comic is giving us some interesting villains and great banter. A fun comic that definitely entertains. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #1 (Dark Horse) – I hated the first volume of Leaving Megaloppolis, and was a Kickstarter backer. The rather incomplete, abrupt ending irked me. This new volume has been so long in the making I forgot much of the series, and this new issue doesn’t give me much to care going forward. A lot feels like we’ve seen it before and little is new. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

The Massive Ninth Wave #2The Massive: Ninth Wave #2 (Dark Horse) – I’m loving this new volume of the series which shows Ninth Wave’s actions before the crash. A great comic which makes environmentalism entertaining. Plus they’re self-contained stories, even better! Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Robin War #2 (DC Comics) – The ending isn’t too shocking, especially the twist. Still, this event was entertaining and should shake things up nicely in the Bat universe. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

The Sheriff of Babylon #2 (Vertigo)* – Great police procedural comic set in Iraq’s Greenzone. I’m hooked. Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Spirited Leaves #1 (Chapter House Comics) – It reminded me of a Miyazaki animted film in many ways. A very pretty, almost poetic story. This feels like a fairy tale you might tell your child. Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Squadron Supreme #3 (Marvel)* – The first issue had promise, these past two, not so much. The series is very paint by numbers in its set up after a great start. So far, one of the biggest let downs. Overall: 6.8 Recommendation: Pass

The Violent #2 (Image Comics) – Holy crap is this good. We have comic of the year material here. Just heartbreaking in so many ways. Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Weirdworld #3 (Marvel)* – Could be Marvel’s best All-New, All-Different comic. Great art and a real fun story. Just fantastic writing with a great look. Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

 

Elana

Catwoman 48Catwoman #48 (DC)* It’s a good Catwoman story. It posits that NYC is a place that Gotham’s rogues steer clear of because NYC but the NYPD is just that dirty and violent (I take it the creative team’s been reading the local news). The streetscapes in this comic ring true though the grand scale of NYC’s Selina’s safe house is far too large for anyone who’s last name isn’t Wayne. The art is inky and sleek and colorist Eva De La Cruz knocks it out of the ballpark. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Princeless: Save Yourself #0. Princess Adrienne has been flying across the land on her dragon, saving other princesses and she hasn’t had much time to save herself from social norms that still weigh on her mind. This is a wonderful exploration of a girl freeing herself from beauty standards. When she chopped her hair off I absolutely cheered! Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Red Sonja #1 (Dark Horse) This is a Sonja I’ve been waiting for! Marguerite Bennett shows her in and out of her element in a great introduction. She’ll be wrestling with some interesting politics in her homeland with her fists and her brains. She’s also scoring with ladies (whoop!). Looks beginner friendly too. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy!

 

Ryan C

code pru 1Code Pru #1 (Avatar) *: Garth Ennis is back at his tasteless best here, and without the editorial constraints that hindered him from going quite as far as you know he wanted to with All-Star Section Eight (although, hey, bless him for trying, and he did manage to at least get a rapping Phantom Stranger in there). Raulo Caceres’ B&W art is superb, with richly-detailed linework and lush expressions. Not sure how the two competing/corresponding plotlines to which we’re introduced — one involving our college-age heroine, Pru, and her various roommates doing some occult dabbling and some boozing (more of the latter, of course) and the other involving an extra-dimensional Cthulhu-esque entity playing checkers and trading barbs with his captor —will come together as the series progresses, but it’ll be fun to find out. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Snow Blind #1 & #2 (BOOM! Studios)**: Ollie Masters, last seen cooking up a pretty tasty crime story with Vertigo’s The Kitchen, hops aboard the “rural noir” bandwagon that’s been growing in the wake of “Revival” with this intriguing little four-parter about a teenage kid in BF Alaska named Teddy who accidentally exposes his family to danger when posting a picture on social media leads a killer to come after them — and to the revelation that his folks have been in witness protection since before he was even born, and never bothered to mention that pesky little fact to him, even once he was old enough to understand what it meant. The first issue’s a bit of an overly-deliberate table-setter, but such is often the case with short-run books like this; in #2, the mystery really heats up and events move into a decidedly faster and more dangerous gear. The loose, sketchy art style of Tyler(“Peter Panzerfaust”) Jenkins may be an acquired taste that not everyone acquires, but I dig it and think it suits the material just fine. Overall: 6.5 (5 for issue one, 8 for issue two) Recommendation: Buy

 

Shean

manchette_fatale_coverManchette’s Fatale TPB (Titan): I am moon big sucker for Crime Noir novels and Fatale is right up that alley. The Reader is introduced to the alluring character of Melane on her many adventures throughout Europe by way of train meeting individuals of different shades of integrity. Story feels very much like a cross between a Long Kiss Goodnight and A Rage Up In Harlem. By story’s end, you not only feel for Melane but you are rooting for her to fight on for another day. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: The Interconnectedness of All Kings TPB: Supernatural detectives are everywhere in pop culture most noticeably John Constantine Jim Dresden and the greenest one, Antoine Wolfe. Dirk Gently is quite different from all these characters, as he does not take himself as seriously as he comes off as a British Lupin the 3rd. We join Dirk and his cronies as they solve a very odd case dealing with Egyptian Pharoahs. By story’s end, the reader has gone on a whirlwind trip around the world, as he realizes the world needs his skills.


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: The Sheriff of Babylon #1

SHERIFF_BAB_Cv1_563ac573d4c559.65152730Baghdad, 2003. Florida Police officer-turned-military contractor, Chris Henry is tasked with training a new Iraqi police force. When one of his trainees ends up dead, Chris is forced to team up with Nassir, the last remaining cop in Baghdad. Pulling the strings to bring them together is the mysterious Sofia, an American-educated Iraqi who has returned to take control of the city’s criminal underworld. This miniseries is a thrilling wartime crime drama told amid one of the most tumultuous times in modern history.

Written by Tom King with art by Mitch Gerads, The Sheriff of Babylon in a new eight-issue miniseries that is loosely based on King’s real-life experience as a CIA operations officer.

When I first heard about this new series from Vertigo I got excited. The idea of King, who has shown his writing talent with Grayson and The Omega Men, mining his work experience for a story was intriguing. I can’t even begin to envision his life as a CIA operations officer, and who knows what is fact and what is fiction, but the first issue is a fascinating start and not what I expected at all. And thinking about it all, I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The Sheriff of Babylon at its heart in the first issue comes off as a crime story. A straight up whodunnit, with dead bodies turning up, and someone having to solve the murders. At least that’s what it all seems like. But, what makes it interesting is the setting, Iraq during the US occupation. I don’t know what the on-the-ground situation is like, but King presents a corrupt situation, corrupt in spirit and corrupt in the traditional sense. Everyone seems to be dirty and broken.

Like a good crime caper, you need to pay attention to figure out what’s going on, this isn’t a comic that necessarily lays things easily out for you. And with this type of story I wouldn’t want it to.

That dirty, broken, and corrupt world, is helped by Gerads, who is no stranger to military focused comics and has shown he knows what he’s doing as far as that with The Activity. The art is gritty, and continues his distinctive style. The military aspects are drawn with what seems like a realistic look, at least what he puts on page make me believe this is what things really look like.

This feels like a comic where the setting will be as fascinating and engaging as the story itself. A gritty crime story set in a location many of us will never see, and a world we truly know little about. This is a comic you’ll want to buy, either as single issues or as a trade, I’m going to go with single issues myself because I want to see what happens next as quickly as possible after reading this first issue.

Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics and Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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