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.
Batman #48 (DC)** – Can this wedding just happen (or not) already? Because all this treading water in advance of it is getting pretty old. Tom King churns out another drab “prologue”-type script here, which shows The Joker being especially brutal even byhis standards, and Batman more or less taking it all as a matter of course. Mikel Janin’s art is absolutely stunning — it always is — but that’s about the most I can say for this one. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass
The Man Of Steel #2 (DC)** – A rather lackluster debut from Brian Michael Bendis leads into an equally-lackluster second installment, and both the “mystery” of the new villain and the series of arson fires plaguing Metropolis aren’t doing much to grab the attention of at least this reader. Evan “Doc” Shaner’s art is uncharacteristically toned-down here, as well, and far more dull and conservative than his typical Steve Rude-influenced work. Fortunately for us all, none other than the estimable Mr. Rude himself is on hand to illustrate the back half of the book, and it’s downright glorious to look at — too bad that reading it simply isn’t much fun. Overall: 5.5. Recommendation: Pass
Dark Ark #7 (Aftershock)** – Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe are having a blast with this revisionist take on the Noah’s Ark story, and it shows on every page. Some pre-flood drama is nicely balanced against “current” (and quite major) developments this time out, and there’s a gorgeous double-page spread that you’ll ogle over for a good long while. It’s a brisk read, to be sure, but you won’t want to put this book down too soon, as the art is just plain stunning. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.
Xerxes: The Fall Of The House Of Darius And The Rise Of Alexander #3 (Dark Horse)** – Frank Miller utilizes double-page spreads nearly exclusively in this issue, and results are mixed — a few really do pack that classic “MIller Punch,” but most are half-hearted attempts to capture a sense of magic that just isn’t there anymore. As for the multi-panel pages, as well as the jumbled and frankly stupid script, well — the less said, the better. Overall: 3. Recommendation: Pass
Batman #48 (DC) So continues my on again off again love affair with Tom King (deep down he might be the one) After some dreadful dreck churned out the past few issues, he brings me back into the fold. This entire issue takes place with a standoff between Batman and Joker inside a church. Kings Joker has the ability to make you laugh uncomfortably at the carnage he causes with very interesting dialogue choices. Mikel Janin as always is so amazing that he really makes you feel involved in the events taking place. All in all it was very fun filler before the wedding of the summer and next issue should be more of the same. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
About Betty’s Boob (Archaia) – I work in burlesque here in Montreal and I have absolutely loved Julie Rocheleau’s artwork ever since The Wrath of Fantomas (which I cannot recommend highly enough), so I was very much looking forward to this collaboration with French writer Véro Cazot. Let’s take first things first: it’s a mostly-silent tale about a woman who loses her left breast to cancer and has to redefine herself, finding acceptance and empowerment in the world of burlesque. Second: Julie Rocheleau is an unbelievable talent with a total command of the artform. Not only can she draw with stunning craft, not only is her storytelling top-notch, but her work – both here and elsewhere – has musicality. Here, she alternately swings hard, lays back, stomps, dives into pure lyricism, and clowns around, all in service to the emotional ride that Betty is taking. This is a bravura performance of the highest level. I wish I was as much of a fan of Véro Cazot’s writing. As much as I love the ideas in her story, she serves it up with too many side dishes and way too much arch Parisian-ness for my liking (and I’ve lived in Paris). What could have been simple and heartbreaking or really fun clowning goes on too long and trips over itself. There is so much to love here – the way Betty’s relationship falls apart, the fantastic idea of a burlesque theatre on a barge on the Seine (if this is a real thing, please contact me immediately) – that Cazot often gets in the way, like when a burlesque show host takes too much space. As soon as the script gets offstage and out of Rocheleau’s way, this book shimmies, twirls, and shakes off its veneer to show us its true heart.
Deadpool #1 (Marvel) In what feels like hanging out with your best friend, this reboot of the ongoing series feels fresh and even funnier. As we catch up with Wade on one of his hit jobs which goes too far as usual. We also find the Avengers and the Guardians trying to figure out how to stop impending doom in the form of Thanos. By issue’s end, Wade gives fan a long awaited peak behind his origin story but eventually steals from a rather well known origin story from the DC Universe, quite a sick burn. Overall: 9.3
Lando: Double Or Nothing#1 (Marvel) As a fan of the current Star Wars movie, I went into this book with hopes of seeing more of Lando with L3-337 and this book doesn’t disappoint. As Barnes captures the spirit of these characters from the movie, as Lando’s arrogance and L3’s ill subliminal is on full display in this heist story. As we meet Kristis, a Ray Donovan type character who fixes whatever for her clients. By issue’s end, once the Republic catches wind of the plan, our heroes are able to outgun and outrun some TIE fighters, as this is where the heist begins. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Black Panther: Rise of the Black Panther #6 (Marvel) We get deeper into the drama surrounding the volatile infiltrations into Wakanda. As T’Challa and Shuri are still coping with their half brother’s betrayal, they soon find another invader in their midst.Soon they find out that Eric Killmonger has broken their ranks and eventually unleashes Wakandan technology on its population. By book’s end, T’Challa neutralizes the threat and realizes much like in the movie, that barriers often become like prisons, and helpful knowledge must be shared. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy
Giant Days #39 (BOOM!) The girls go to their university’s career fair, and lots of jokes are made about the drudgery of 9 to 5 life. Daisy is inundated with job offers and private jet rides while Esther feels like a square peg in a round hole. This issue is Julia Madrigal’s last as a fill-in artist, and her characters are on model, but they lack the elasticity and pure humor of Max Sarin and Liz Fleming’s work. However, for the most part, Giant Days #39 is a fantastic satire of the bullshit that is job applications and has a cliffhanger that could be a game changer for Ms. Esther DeGroot. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy
Vagrant Queen #1 (Vault) Elida is the scion of an intergalactic monarchy, but she’s content to shoot first, ask questions later, and make a profit. However, when the former owner of her ship (The proverbial Lando to her Han.) offers a deal to find her mom, she embarks on an epic intergalactic road trip with the Admiralty on her trail. Mags Visaggio and Jason Smith traffic in a lot of space opera tropes in Vagrant Queen, but a snarky sense of humor, Moebius-esque architecture, and brutal fight choreography keep things entertaining. Overall: 7.4 Verdict: Read
Nightwing #45 (DC) Benjamin Percy, Chris Mooneyham, and guest inker Klaus Janson open Nightwing #45 with Dick in bed next to Barbara Gordon. Dick and Babs have a highly, complex relationship so something is definitely off. This uneasy tone pervades the entire book in Dick’s narration and the bloated body of a drug snitch, who was completely and utterly doxxed. Nightwing is quickly becoming a body horror, cyberpunk comic, but Mooneyham’s Romita Jr-esque figures and detailed landscapes keep the story in the analog and old school like Dick himself. However, a high tech neural networked, VR rig could change all this, and the last several pages of the issue craft an almost insurmountable foe for Nightwing to “fight”. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Nightwing vs. Hush #1 (DC) Well, this is Batman’s bachelor party, and it involves burgers at a Batman themed restaurant. However, the Superman, Batman, and Nightwing’s interdimensional fishing trip goes terribly wrong when Hush crashes and gets caught in a kind of Limbo with Nightwing. Tim Seeley and Travis Moore create a study in duality with Dick and Hush anchored in Wayne Manor, but whereas Hush wants to be Bruce, Dick just wants a relationship with him. And this leads to a very sweet moment towards the end. Moore’s art is slick and pretty, especially when he draws Dick’s face. There need to be more buddy comics featuring Bruce, Dick, and Clark. Overall: 8 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 (**).