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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.
These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.
Ninjak #1 (Valiant)– Ninjak #1 is probably the best-drawn Valiant book I’ve read with Javier Pulido bringing his creative attitude to page layouts, flat colors, and spot-on cartooning to a world of super spies and superpowers. Ninjak has all kinds of lovely storytelling touches like Pulido and Dave Sharpe switching up the lettering font when someone isn’t the greatest at speaking a foreign language. Jeff Parker’s plot feels a lot like a Daniel Craig-era James Bond film, but with katanas and superpowers. He and Pulido show Ninjak in action from the POV of someone he lets trail and seeing the effects of his fighting skills creates a feeling of intrigue like he’s the bogeyman or something. However, all of the secrets are blown at the end, and Parker and Javier Pulido raise the stakes sky high on the last few pages without being close to revealing this series’ Big Bad. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy
Joker #5 (DC)– James Tynion and guest creators Matthew Rosenberg and Francesco Francavilla spin a gorgeous, yet seriously unsettling yarn about the Joker’s first night in Arkham that contextualizes why he’s been in Jim Gordon’s head throughout the Joker series. Any time Francavilla does interior art is a treat, and Joker #5 is no exception as he brings a deadpan creepiness to the titular character compared to the overly righteous of Jim Gordon. Francavilla’s colors were really my favorite part of the issue from faded greys for any scenes featuring Gordon’s family to his bright, eye-popping red hair that adds sound and fury to any sequence. But it ends up signifying nothing, and this is really a tragic comic. You could definitely slot it in after Batman Year One and Man Who Laughs, it’s that good and a high point of one of my current DC faves. In the backup story, Sweeney Boo’s art has a slick, queer af vibe perfect for a story featuring the Row siblings. Tynion and Sam Johns juggle Harper Row and Cullen Row’s stories perfectly as Cullen deals with his crush’s immature Punchline-fanboy friends while Harper Row is ready to spring back into action. It’s a nice dessert to the robust main story. Overall: 9.4 Verdict: Buy
Die #18 (Image)– The cast of Die continue to wander through a dungeon to the center of the world so they can finally escape this nightmare. Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans make the dungeon less full of loot and enemies and more like the Mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings aka emptiness, a touch of psychological dread, and a big, god-like monster towards the end. They hone in on the character of Sol, who was killed by the Gamemaster and became the first Fallen, and show how terrible his life was being stuck in the game for decades and having his eyes replaced with a literal D20. Even though he ran the game and wanted to take revenge on the game, he’s weary of it. Hans’ art wrings some real emotion out of his transformation, and she also gets to turn her gifts into the real world in a 1990s flashback set in a pub in Stafford, UK right after the cast originally returned from Die. Finally, what really got me in this issue was Ash, who deep down doesn’t want to leave Die because she can truly be her authentic self in this fantasy world versus the “real” one. It’s really powerful character even as Gillen and Stephanie Hans start to call time on the series. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy
Way of X #4 (Marvel)– Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn, and Java Tartaglia’s Way of X continues to be the book that pokes at the flaws of Krakoa. There’s the obvious build-up to Onslaught 2: Electric Boogaloo, but they also examine the trauma around life in Krakoa from Gorgon dealing the fallout of being resurrected weirdly to the new mutant Lost coping with Fabian Cortez killing her parents pre-amnesty and even some geological issues on Mars aka Arakko. With expressive figure work and faded out backgrounds, Quinn shows the every day mutant struggle as well as Nightcrawler trying to find a unifying theory for everything to center his mutant religion around. Also, the Gorgon resurrection thread is one that’s been begging to be explored since X of Swords, and Spurrier and Bob Quinn do a good job of using it to reinforce the themes of Way of X as well as showing there’s still heightened tensions between humans and mutants. All this plus Legion and Professor X have their version of a heart to heart, and he continues to be a great co-protagonist of the series. Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy
X-Corp #3 (Marvel)– X-Corp #3 rights the series’ ship with better art from Valentine De Landro and improved focus from Tini Howard as she makes Jamie Madrox the heart of this issue. Madrox has to demonstrate an important X-Corp product launch, but he also doesn’t want to miss his son’s first steps. This tension between work and family runs in the background while Monet spars with Sara St. John, who works for X-Corp’s competitor in their bandwidth project, and makes cracks about women in technology panels/summits. De Landro’s art is more fluid and less cold than Alberto Foche’s on the previous two issues of X-Corp and fits the tone of a fast-paced, wheeling and dealing tech summit. X-Corp might have the power of mutants on its side, but their competitor Noblesse does have a few literally killer apps. A one page modular bonus story from Jason Loo puts everything Madrox-related in context and shows that maybe the straits aren’t so dire though. I really enjoy how Howard, De Landro, and Loo use his abilities to create the ultimate tech work flow. If the visuals of this book continue to be as clear and engaging as this issue, X-Corp could start to grow on me. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).