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Vault Announces a New Release Date for Fox and Hare #1

Vault has announced that due to Covid-related delays, the release of Fox and Hare #1 has been pushed back to February 2022.

In the announcement, Vault Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Adrian Wassel said:

Fox and Hare is one of the better comics I’ve ever read, let alone had the honor to edit. When it became clear that Jon and Stacey wanted to sharpen the punk of their cyberpunk series to cut even more smartly through the realities of today, we all agreed it was the right call to move the release back. Yes, COVID has thrown a wrench in the works, personally and professionally for just about everyone, and, yes, the supply chain is chaotic right now, and, yes, all of that factored in, but quite simply: Jon and Stacey are making a masterpiece — reclaiming Asian identity in a genre that has a long, problematic history of fetishization and erasure, in equal measure — and I’ll stand by them taking exactly as long as they need to make it their perfect story.

Fox and Hare is written and co-created by hit writer Jon Tsuei and co-created and drawn by star artist Stacey Lee.

When black market coder Aurora Yi uncovers top secret data that has tapped into the past lives of the citizens of Mazu Bay, her world is turned upside down. The mega corporation Synastry Designs wants its data back and is hot on her trail. Aurora has no choice but to turn to the Fox and the Hare, the most feared mercenaries in the city, for protection.

REVIEW: Deadbox #2

Deadbox #2

Mark Russell is one of the most important satirists working in fiction today and Deadbox continues to be proof of this. In Deadbox #2, Russell takes on the idea of the American Dream and how it manifests itself in small town settings, the places where Americans go to keep their national myths alive. Also, monkeys are learning how to behave around bananas in this chapter’s Deadbox movie, titled “Can I Have a Banana Now?”

Deadbox #2 follows a man and wife that visit a fair filled with that very conservative Southern charm, Confederate flags waving and such. The man comes across a cheap pair of purplish/pale pink pants that he says look like the ones he used to wear in college. He buys them, puts them on, and is immediately labeled as queer, much to the horror of the Southern man. Cue the public outrage, the shunning, and the Christian judgement stares.

As is the case with the first issue, the movie that accompanies the main story reflects on the problems faced by its characters. This one’s about how monkeys take to punishment and rewards to better control the simian population. You can piece together rest yourself. It’s an amazingly rewarding process.

Keeping with the anthology format is paying off for the book, allowing it to wade into deeper waters with different characters while also making sure the story feels interconnected, if only by a panel or two showing an already established character from before. The movies are the connecting agents that bind everyone together.

Deadbox #2

The script’s genius comes in how it addresses preconceived notions of what’s acceptable and American and what isn’t through comically frightening situations that put readers in places they are painfully familiar with. It’s exaggerated and even ridiculous, but never that far from reality.

Benjamin Tiesma’s art continues to hold its part of the storytelling quite well. The character work in particular shines as Tiesma prefers to portray people with just the right amount of caricature to keep them from being mere punchlines. They feel like real people despite the funnier aspects of their looks and they all radiate a humorous energy that’s both impossible to look away from but also hard to watch.

I could go on and on about Deadbox and how it gets progressively funnier the scarier it gets, but the beauty’s in the discovery, in decoding the satire. Bottom line is, you need to read this book. Comics shelves become smarter when it’s on display.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Benjamin Tiesma Colors: Vladimir Popov
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10
Recommendation: Buy, read, and laugh all the way through to keep from screaming incessantly.

Vault Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Deadbox #1

Deadbox #1

We are the stories we tell ourselves, no matter how stupid they are. This is but one of the sentiments that orbit the satire at the heart of Vault’s latest comic book series, Deadbox. Accompanying that brutally accurate idea is the thought these stories we collectively decide to support can also be cursed. Author Mark Russell and illustrator Benjamin Tiesma tap into the core stupidities of our national narrative, both foundational and current, and come up with a story that’s as funny as it is worrying.

Deadbox follows a woman called Penny who owns a convenience store in a dead-end town called Lost Turkey, a town that also worships freedom as if it were its own god. The town and its people poke fun at Libertarian ideals and conservative thought to create an environment that’s contradictory in every social facet of life. Lost Turkey’s only source of entertainment, as the book says, is a DVD machine that looks like one of those Redbox vending machines where people could rent movies and video games from.

Problem is, the movies in the machine are haunted. Some can only be found in that Lost Turkey’s rental machine and nowhere else. Russell and Tiesma hang on to this detail to create a kind of ‘story within a story’ dynamic where the movie becomes a reflection of the things that are happening in the town, or that are happening to it.

Russell has built quiet a body of work on his own brand of satire. His stories are aware of the commentary he’s putting forth, subtlety be damned in some cases. It makes his comics come off as meta a lot of the times and he’s largely successful at it. Deadbox is another notch on that belt in this regard.

As the story develops, we learn that Penny’s dad is seriously ill and that her choice to rent a movie from the machine will foretell some of the things that ail and will end up ailing the character. This is where Russell’s skill with creating parables and metaphors shines, turning the movie’s sci-fi story of humanity making first contact with an alien civilization into a contemplation on a people’s dreams of progress, what old age means, and how entitled we can come off as while settling in new places.

Lost Turkey itself is a combination of elements that make it a kind of conservative utopia guided by contradictions that celebrate unfettered freedoms regardless of consequence. Gun lovers, safety-defying bikers, and small town political leaders with delusions of grandeur populate this place and each one offers a chance to think about the backwardness of our political culture.

Deadbox #1

Tiesma’s art makes sure the script’s satire never skips a beat by leaning into caricature in his portrayal of the townspeople and the characters that appear in the story’s movie segments. Body language and panel transitions are imbued with a theatrical flair that rewards careful observation and close reading. The humor’s in the details in this one and Tiasma capitalizes on every chance he gets to dial it up.

Deadbox is an incredibly smart comic that finds a lot to be scared of in stupidity, but also a lot to laugh at. The first issue of the series stands on the strength of its sharp wit and its visual comedy. There’s a lot of stupid in the world right now and Deadbox is here to make fun of it.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Benjamin Tiesma,
Colors: Vladimir Popov, Letterer: Andworld Design
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Read and try not to do stupid things.

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a free copy of the comic for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Earl Review: Deadbox #1

Deadbox #1

We are the stories we tell ourselves, no matter how stupid they are. This is but one of the sentiments that orbit the satire at the heart of Vault’s latest comic book series, Deadbox. Accompanying that brutally accurate idea is the thought these stories we collectively decide to support can also be cursed. Author Mark Russell and illustrator Benjamin Tiesma tap into the core stupidities of our national narrative, both foundational and current, and come up with a story that’s as funny as it is worrying.

Deadbox follows a woman called Penny who owns a convenience store in a dead-end town called Lost Turkey, a town that also worships freedom as if it were its own god. The town and its people poke fun at Libertarian ideals and conservative thought to create an environment that’s contradictory in every social facet of life. Lost Turkey’s only source of entertainment, as the book says, is a DVD machine that looks like one of those Redbox vending machines where people could rent movies and video games from.

Problem is, the movies in the machine are haunted. Some can only be found in that Lost Turkey’s rental machine and nowhere else. Russell and Tiesma hang on to this detail to create a kind of ‘story within a story’ dynamic where the movie becomes a reflection of the things that are happening in the town, or that are happening to it.

Russell has built quiet a body of work on his own brand of satire. His stories are aware of the commentary he’s putting forth, subtlety be damned in some cases. It makes his comics come off as meta a lot of the times and he’s largely successful at it. Deadbox is another notch on that belt in this regard.

As the story develops, we learn that Penny’s dad is seriously ill and that her choice to rent a movie from the machine will foretell some of the things that ail and will end up ailing the character. This is where Russell’s skill with creating parables and metaphors shines, turning the movie’s sci-fi story of humanity making first contact with an alien civilization into a contemplation on a people’s dreams of progress, what old age means, and how entitled we can come off as while settling in new places.

Lost Turkey itself is a combination of elements that make it a kind of conservative utopia guided by contradictions that celebrate unfettered freedoms regardless of consequence. Gun lovers, safety-defying bikers, and small town political leaders with delusions of grandeur populate this place and each one offers a chance to think about the backwardness of our political culture.

Deadbox #1

Tiesma’s art makes sure the script’s satire never skips a beat by leaning into caricature in his portrayal of the townspeople and the characters that appear in the story’s movie segments. Body language and panel transitions are imbued with a theatrical flair that rewards careful observation and close reading. The humor’s in the details in this one and Tiasma capitalizes on every chance he gets to dial it up.

Deadbox is an incredibly smart comic that finds a lot to be scared of in stupidity, but also a lot to laugh at. The first issue of the series stands on the strength of its sharp wit and its visual comedy. There’s a lot of stupid in the world right now and Deadbox is here to make fun of it.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Benjamin Tiesma,
Colors: Vladimir Popov, Letterer: Andworld Design
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Read and try not to do stupid things.

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a free copy of the comic for review


Pre-Order: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Vault has released a surprise Barbaric #1 Foil Movie Poster Variant, Limited to 100 Copies

Vault Comics‘ sold out, smash-hit comic Barbaric is getting a hyper-limited edition variant cover featuring beautiful foil treatment printed on deluxe heavyweight paper. With cover art by series co-creator Nathan Gooden and design by Tim Daniel, this limited edition cover is a tribute to the poster for the classic 1982 film, Conan The Barbarian, which served, in part, as an inspiration for the hit comic book series. 

This very special variant is available only on the vault web storeThis limited edition of 100 copies will never be reprinted. Once they are sold out, they are gone forever.

The collectible cover ships from Vault, bagged and boarded, in a Gemini mailer. Grades are not guaranteed. Purchases will begin shipping during the week of August 2nd, 2021.

Barbaric is written by Michael Moreci, drawn by Nathan Gooden, colored by Addison Duke, lettered by Jim Campbell. The synopsis for Barbaric #1 can be read below:

Owen the Barbarian has been cursed to do good with what remains of his life. His bloodthirsty weapon, Axe, has become his moral compass with a drinking problem. Together they wander the realm, foredoomed to help any who seek assistance. But there is one thing Owen hates more than a life with rules: Witches.

Welcome to the skull-cracking, blood-splattering, mayhem-loving comic brave enough to ask: How can a man sworn to do good do so much violence? Hah! F***ing with you. It’s just…BARBARIC.

Barbaric #1 Foil Movie Poster Variant

Vault Announces its 2021 Cover Artists-in-Residence Variant Program

Vault has announced the 2021 Cover Artists-in-Residence (or “CAIR”) variant program, featuring Yoshi YoshitaniMartin Simmonds, Corin HowellJoshua Hixson, and Jen Hickman. The CAIR program will see each of these artists drawing open-order variants for the entire run of the Vault series of their choosing.

Vault’s 2021 Cover Artist-in-Residence program will kick off with Yoshi Yoshitani’s mind-blowing cover to Matthew Erman’s and Lisa Sterle’sWitchblood #1, on sale March 31st, 2021. Hickman’s, Hixson’s, and Simmonds’, cover runs will follow.

Check out previous Vault covers from Yoshitani, Simmonds, Hixson, Howell, and Hickman below.

Review: Hollow Heart #1

Hollow Heart #1

In Hollow Heart #1, El was once human. Now, he’s a jumble of organs housed in a monstrous metal body. El is is something far beyond being human who wants to be done with his existence. It’s worth noting that his living conditions are not great, either, as he’s also treated as less-than-human by those around him. That is until he meets Mateo, a mechanic that works his metal frame who I am assuming is the first person to show El any kind of care and respect.

I’m not at all sure what I expected from Hollow Heart but when I was done reading Hollow Heart #1, I was left impressed with the storytelling in this debut. While not heavy on dialogue, the plot is very intriguing, albeit a bit bleak and dark. But through that darkness is a bit of romance. Hollow Heart offers a glimpse into a darker aspect of existence. Props to writer Paul Allor for this story.

I didn’t think the art was as detailed as I would like. That said, I think the art does match the bleak, dark nature of the story. Paul Tucker’s art really hits the mood. I thought the colors kinda rocked throughout the issue.

If you wanted to shake up your regular comic reading with something quite a bit different, Hollow Heart #1 is just that book. It’s a unique and odd romantic story between a man and what’s left of a man locked in a casing. But it really stands out as good storytelling with a bleak approach. This is an easy recommendation.

Story: Paul Allor Art: Paul Tucker
Color: Paul Tucker Letterer: Paul Allor
Story: 9.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 8.0
Recommendation: Buy

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 1/16/2021

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.


Logan

Future State: Dark Detective #1 (DC)– Bruce Wayne/Batman is presumed dead and broke as hell in the excellent lead story by Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora, and Bellaire. They channel all kinds of fun influences, including Dark Knight Returns, the Snyder/Capullo run (Especially in Mora’s art style and the new costume), Batman Beyond, and even Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. However, “Dark Detective” is really about a man whose vigilante activity basically led to an authoritarian regime. During the scenes where Bruce isn’t fighting wannabe mutant gang muggers, Bellaire uses a garish color palette that definitely makes it feel like he is a fish out of water with the bright lights exposing his sadness and brokenness. But the reason I enjoyed this comic the most is the laser sight focus Tamaki and Mora give to Bruce’s character with every narrative caption, glance at cheese fries when he can only afford a cup of coffee, or missed punch telling the tale of a defeated man, who might just have a chance at a comeback. Because he’s Batman. Matthew Rosenberg, Carmine Di Giandomenico, and Antonio Fabela’s Grifter backup has a little less introspection and little more action. Cole Cash goes from cheating at cards to on the run from the Peacemakers and runs into Luke Fox, who he ends up teaming up with to finally get out of Gotham. Di Giandomenico’s fight choreography is impeccable as he uses playing card shaped panels to show Grifter in the middle of a bar fighter and uses wider, more explosive panels when he and Fox bust out of a paddy wagon. Rosenberg’s script has a real “if fun is outlawed, then only outlaws will have fun, and Fox and Grifter’s banter is a nice relief from the incredibly stressful situations they find themselves in. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Future State: Justice League #1 (DC)– Joshua Williamson, Robson Rocha, Henriques, and Romulo Fajardo tell an old school style Justice League story with a fresh cast of characters. Williamson is smart and keeps the cast small with new versions of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Batman plus Arthur and Mera’s daughter, Andy Curry aka Aquawoman. This allows for everyone sans GL (Who is the highly competent Jo Mullein from Far Sector) and Batman to build a bond even though the league’s new charter forbids fraternization. Williamson really follows the throughline of the sins of the last generation being visited on the current, both in his choice of villain and in key, cryptic flashbacks. This can also be seen in Rocha and Henrique’s art, which is like Howard Porter’s work on JLA, but with less chaotic layouts and anatomy. Ram V and Marcio Takara’s Justice League Dark is offbeat, but still epic with Zatanna, Detective Chimp (Who shares a body with Etrigan), Ragman, John Constantine, and some surprise guests holding out against the totalitarian rule of Merlin. There’s plenty of mystery (Etrigan won’t fight Merlin’s forces), action, and humor with a touch of foreboding symbolism even though V is in fun team-up mode compared to his work on, say, Swamp Thing. I really enjoy the medieval dystopian vibes that Takara’s art brings to the book as well as the characters riffing and bouncing off each other while the stakes rise. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

Commanders in Crisis #4 (Image)– Steve Orlando and Davide Tinto trot out a big, multiversal plot twist and have fun with the sympathetic villain tropes in Commanders in Crisis #4. The Crisis Command has found the killer of empathy and tries to figure out his motives and plans in the next 24 hours. Tinto’s art is clean and pleasing, and he excels at both the big action scenes and talking heads. This issue does have a big superhero fight, but Orlando and Tinto basically show how it’s all for nothing as the team learns something new and mysterious about one of their members. Commanders in Crisis #4 has some interesting reveals and cool worldbuilding to wrap up the first arc and digs an even deeper hole for the Crisis Command. The issue and the series so far definitely seem the like the first chapter in a complex epic. Overall: 7.9 Verdict: Buy

Autumnal #4 (Vault)– Daniel Kraus and Chris Shehan fill Autumnal #4 with revelations and potential answers of why this too perfect, leaf raking addicted suburban town is so real. When Kat’s research at the local library is curtailed, she ends up at the trailer park of Carol, an old elementary school classmate who is a heroin addict and badly disfigured after the 1996 roller rink fire Kat was looking into. Carol begins by giving just the bare details of the event, but breaks into a total flashback of a woman named Clemence, who lived in the woods and whose child with the mayor’s son was killed by him so things would be “normal”. Shehan’s art is scratchier and more horrific in these flashbacks to go with Jason Wordie’s intense color palette that is the opposite of how what he usually does for the town. The horror in Autumnal comes from a town not willing to deal with its own trauma and simmering in it while shunning folks who care about the truth like Carol and Kat. This theme is laid out by Kat’s tattoo remover, who she is getting a bit close to. Autumnal #4 adds more depth and backstory to the series plus some macabe visuals from Shehan and Wordie. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Heavy #4 (Vault)– Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter combine multiverse rending action with a character defining moment for Bill as he and Slim band together to take down multiple iterations of Moore, a rogue agent of The Wait.(Think Purgatory, but more bureaucracy) Donovan and Peter bring the over the top violence and candy colors, but soften things sometimes like when Bill thinks back to his wife, who was more spiritual than him when he was alive. The entire issue is hinged around a moral choice, and it’s heartening to see Bill make the best of two terrible options as Bemis’ script skewers the idea of a hero. Of course, it doesn’t end well, and Heavy #4 turns back to dark comedy with its new status quo. Action, raunchy comedy, out of the box artwork, and yes, even a nice touch of moral philosophy, Heavy really has it all. Overall: 8.8 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #17 (Marvel)- With Sebastian Shaw conveniently out of the way, Marauders #17 sluggishly tries to pick up a new plotline. Gerry Duggan juggles lots of things in this issue from Emma Frost planning a party/potential assassination of Shinobi Shaw and Kate rewarding the Lowtown mutants for nursing Lockheed to health and learning more about the gentrification in Madripoor. There’s also the ritual combat between Callisto and Storm, which has the strongest emotional resonance, as Storm sees it as her last debt owed to Krakoa before she can fly free. (Basically, she kills Callisto to restore Callisto’s full powers.) Matteo Lolli’s art can be quite striking at times like any time Storm and Callisto interact, or Kate Pryde threatening wealthy people. However, this title is really still finding its footing post “Kill Shaw” and X of Swords. Overall: 7.0 Verdict: Read

SWORD #2 (Marvel)– This is a “King in Black” tie-in, but it’s also an Al Ewing comic, and he and Valerio Schiti do an excellent job of showing how this rag tag, yet perfectly matched ability-wise team works under pressure. D-list villains like Mentallo and Fabian Cortez play key roles in Abigail Brand’s plan to secure Krakoa from Knull and enact “Protocol V”, which we get to see in action this issue. The data pages add more context to Brand’s plan and shows that she’s competent, definitely a pragmatist, and more than a little amoral. Ewing’s skill writing an ensemble cast stands out in this book as each SWORD member or key guest star gets their chance to shine. Wiz Kid shrugging off Grendel dragons like they’re flies on his windshield is quite funny and epic thanks to Schiti and Marte Gracia’s full page spread. Schiti really knows when to go to wide screen, or cut to a good closeup like when Cortez is trying to curry favor with Magneto to have more influence on the Quiet Council. SWORD #2 is a master class in how to do team comics and is a tie-in that enhances the King in Black event, shows how it really affects Krakoa, and above all, is an opportunity for Brand to show her mettle. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

King in Black: Thunderbolts #1 (Marvel)– This is basically Marvel Suicide Squad, but with Kingpin instead of Waller. However, it’s a fun time, and Kingpin’s reasoning for choosing the name Thunderbolts is very on-point. Matthew Rosenberg and Juan Ferreyra create a high level of tension as Taskmaster, Star, Ampere, Snakehead, Rhino, Batroc, and Mr. Fear travel Knull-ridden New York looking for Fisk’s mysterious contact. Most characters get to prove their competence like Taskmaster beheading a symbiote in silhouette, but there is definitely a feeling of being overmatched and escaping by the skin of one’s teeth throughout this comic. Add in fun banter from Rosenberg, a great final page reveal, Ferrerya having a ball showing unmasked Mr. Fear and Taskmaster in a Goth-meets-nu metal New York City, and you’ve got a nice popcorn read. Villain protagonists in limited series are always a good time. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Future State: Robin Eternal (DC Comics) – An intriguing concept that has some interesting aspects but it takes a bit too long to get to the point and action. It’s a heist comic, get to the heist. Instead, there’s a bit too much of Robin connecting with other characters that play a role but there’s just too much talking, not enough over the top sequences. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1 (DC Comics) – The comic fleshes out Wonder Woman’s world a lot more than her own comic and there’s some solid back and forth between her and Superman but there’s a spark that’s missing. An evil sun springs out some solid details as to the impact on Earth but it feels a bit like a filler arc than something that’s really special. Overall Rating: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

Future State: Teen Titans #1 (DC Comics) – I really want to know what happened here after getting through the issue. A tragedy happened that lead to the death of a lot of heroes and there’s some battles still being fought. But, it’s that ending that’ll have you wanting answers. Some great art helps put this well over the top as to a solid issue and direction. Overall Rating: 8.45 Recommendation: 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 (**).

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 9/12

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.


Joe Hesh

Amazing Spider-Man #48 (Marvel) It doesn’t matter how many issues or how many volumes, one thing remains: Peter Parker is still Peter Parker. That means Peter Parker is Spider-Man. This issue dealt with Peter frontline and all his tremendous guilt and weight he carries with him. He is in constant battle between his wants and his morals. He wants to make the right choice always but the right choice is never easy. His conundrum? Does he let his old foe The Sin Eater who has returned from the dead with a holy crusade using new powers to clear sins away, cleanse Peter’s greatest enemy: The Green Goblin aka Iron Patriot aka Director of SWORD aka The Red Goblin aka Norman Osborn, or does he save Norman from this fate? Issues like this make me love Spider-Man so much. He really is the worlds most altruistic hero. No matter how much pain you put him through or what you take from him, he is always unwaivering in his principles. Peter leans on his web friends for some internal guidance and it is here the issue shines. Miles, Gwen, Spider-Woman all take a stab at the Parker psyche and we get some very cool and fun moments. If you’re a long time reader you have a good idea on what Peter’s choice is and thats where the fun begins leading us right into the big 850th issue next. Art chores were done by the amazing Mark Bagley and the scribe was Nick Spencer who is finally making Spidey something worth reading again. All the while here I’m waiting for something Goblin to come. Next issue should be a blast. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Batman: Three Jokers #1 (DC) We’ve waited so long for this one and wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. It did not disappoint. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work with three possible Jokers and what not. I thought some multiverse shenanigans or such but after reading this, I think not. The story plays out brilliantly pacing all kinds of lush character developments at the same time as a jog down memory lane. The Joker has always been so fascinating as there is so many interpretations of him. I’ve always been a fan of Grant Morrisons metamorphosis portrayal where he amps up to meet whatever Batman is putting out at the time. In other words the better Batman is, the worse Joker becomes. However after reading this and a very different direction my thoughts might change. I know we are only on issue one but this could be the story of the year for me. An all around gorgeous presentation. Speaking of which, the art. The freaking art man. It’s breathtaking.  I know Jason Fabok might have started as a Jim Lee clone but to me, he has surpassed Lee. The line work, the difference of character design, the bombastic large fight scenes, it is really too impressive to quantify. Now Geoff Johns the man who has brought us the best and worst DC has to offer (I.E. Green Lantern and Infinite Crisis) he crushes it this time. Right out the gate, grand slam on first pitch. I don’t know where he is going with this yet, but I cannot wait. Not only does he handle the mystery well but he gives Jason and Barbara some of the best character work they’ve had in years. I loved it. So if you weren’t planning to read this book, you better change that. Canon or no canon this is an amazing story. Don’t sleep on it, lest a stray crowbar wake you to your senses. Score: 9.8 Reccomendation: Buy

Logan

Vampire the Masquerade #2 (Vault)- In Tim Seeley and Devmalya Pramanik’s A-story, most of the big plot points are dashed out via exposition, but the real draw is the relationship between Cecilia and her vampire “childe” (She was sired and left for dead actually) Ali. They demonstrate that the life of a vampire in this world is full of moral dilemmas and bureaucracy in contrast with the pure survival instincts of the Anarchs in Tini Howard, Blake Howard, and Nathan Gooden’s backup story. Pramanik’s art and Addison Duke’s soul-searing color really get into Ali’s head as she makes her first kill while Seeley’s dry, clinical dialogue for Cecilia nicely unwraps the moral implications of her action. Vampire Masquerade is definitely a slow burner, but Cecilia and Ali are a great duo to build this story around. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Aggretsuko #6 (Oni Press)– The first volume of Aggretsuko wraps up with a competition-driven story from Black Mage’s Daniel Barnes and DJ Kirkland with the employees at Retsuko’s office competing for 1 day of PTO in various sports. Kirkland’s video game and manga influences come to the forefront especially in a couple climactic events straight out of Slam Dunk or Mario Kart. He does this all while staying on-model and pumping up the energy and emotion. Barnes’ script is creative and full of trash talk, and he throws in some fun moments featuring the fan-favorite relationship between Retsuko and Haida making it integral to the main story. Aggretsuko #6 is an enjoyable supplement to the Netflix anime series and kind of is a vision of the show if it was a 22 episode American-style sitcom instead of a tightly focused 10 episode one. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

Marauders #12 (Marvel)– After all the shit she’s gone through, Marauders #12 is a pure celebration of Kitty Pryde, her friendships and relationships with various X-Men, her revenge, and also her finally coming out as bisexual via smooching a tattoo artis tafter decades of speculation and subtext. Writer Gerry Duggan takes a beat in his “Kill Shaw” plot to have Kitty enjoy life with Lockheed permanently snuggled up on her neck, and artist Matteo Lolli’s old school art style that reminded me of Paul Smith or Howard Chaykin is perfect for this kind of character-driven story. They deal with the implications of the resurrection process while also showing Kitty’s comfort with certain characters like Magik, Storm, and Nightcrawler and discomfort with being the belle of the ball when all she wants to get is knuckle tats and vengeance. Marauders #12 re-establishes Kitty Pryde as the lead and heart of this series, and I’m rejuvenated and ready to see her take down Sebastian Shaw. Overall: 8.7 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Dryfoot #1 (Mad Cave Studios) – The debut issue is interesting and fun about a bunch of kids who decide to rob a drug dealer in 1980s Miami. It’d be a bit more interesting if 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank hadn’t already tackled a similar idea and done it with a far better debut. Still, a nice diversion from other things out there. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Empyre: Aftermath Avengers #1 (Marvel) – The wedding celebration has a lot of solid moments and drama. But, the comic feels like it could have been a few pages in an expanded final issue. Its really goal is to set up the next major story arc and never quite feels completely satisfying for some reason. Overall Rating: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Empyre: Fallout Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel) – The issue is very cute and potentially sets up a lot for the Fantastic Four. Out of the two Empyre follow up issues, this is the one to really pay attention to. It really feels like much more of an ending than the Avengers version. Overall Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Marauders #12 (Marvel) – The art isn’t for me and I don’t get the tension at all. You know who killed Kate… so? It’d be one thing if it was a mystery but much like the whole concept of resurrection, the real drama is no longer there. Overall Rating: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

Rise of Ultraman (Marvel) – I don’t know the classic property at all so was excited to dive into the series. The first issue is fun and a nice build into the world. It also feels a little generic though. An entertaining comic and one I want to read the second issue but it’s not one I’m super excited about anymore. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Transformers: Galaxies #9 (IDW Publishing) – The series wraps up its latest arc delivering a nice morality tale. The focus is on self-determination and free will, a concept a bit deeper than robots than change into things. As usual the comic is more than meets the eye. Overall Rating: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Vampire: The Masquerade #2 (Vault Comics) – The comic series continues to impress though might be a bit more enjoyable for those who really know the world. The exploration of choice when it comes to vampirism is an interesting one and there’s a bit of a Training Day vibe about the issue. This is a series to keep an eye on. Overall Rating: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

Web of Venom: Wraith #1 (Marvel) – There’s a solid western vibe about the issue. It also dives into Wraith’s history a bit which is nice for those who don’t know the character like myself. Still, it’s really a comic to just warn Eddie Brock that Knull is coming and set up King in Black. A must-read? No. But, an entertaining one. Overall Rating: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

X-Factor #3 (Marvel) – The series continues to be a hell of a lot of fun and the return of Shatterstar has so much potential. This is an X comic that’s just full of winks, nods, and laughs and quickly rising to be the best of that corner of the Marvel Universe. Overall Rating: 8.5 Recommendation: 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 (**).

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For February 2020

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comics not in Diamond’s top 100 sellers for February 2020


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all pretty good, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 400 (yeah, I went for books that hardly any of you have read for whatever reason) for this month’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.


Cult Classic Creature Feature #5 (Vault)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 380/1,322
Why You Should Read It:  
I’m usually not drawn to horror comics, but I do tend to enjoy anything Eliot Rahal writes, so I wanted to check this out. Obviously, I’m going to recommend you start with the first issue (or just wait for the trade if you can’t find the individual comics), but this is a great series that (I’m told by friends who do enjoy horror comics) is a great send up to the genre.

Quantum & Woody #2 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 280/4,028
Why You Should Read It: 
Obviously I’m going to be biased toward this, but there’s a very British comics style to the series with the art; the lines, the sheer amount of things occurring on the page (which never once feels overwhelming). There’s a chaotic brilliance to this book – don’t miss this.

Rai #4 (Valiant)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 264/4,900
Why You Should Read It: 
Why yes, I did include this in last month’s version of this comic. And the month before. Because this is frankly the best book on this list (truth be told it was the best one I’d read all month. The series encourages you to ask questions about your place in the world, what it means to be human, when you should resort to violent recourse and how easy it can be to touch the lives of those around you. This comic does all of that whilst still giving you a freaking brilliant book.

Finger Guns #1 (Vault)
Rank/Units Sold: 199/8,418
Why You Should Read It:
What if when you shot a finger gun at somebody you were able to adjust their emotions? This comic throws that into the mix amidst a sense of abandonment and loneliness that we’re all probably familiar with these days.

Ascender #9 (Image)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 173/9,970
Why You Should Read It: 
If you haven’t started reading this, then you should. But rather than start with the first issue of Ascender, you really want to pick up the first volume of Descender. You’ll thank me later.

Bang #1 (Dark Horse)
Sales Rank/Units Sold: 159/10,741
Why You Should Read It: 
Matt Kindt once again proves why he’s one of the best writers in the business. There’s a lot to say about this book, but holy moly is it ever wonderful. Go in blind, I did, and it’s worth every moment.

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Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Almost American
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