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Comic Book Reviews February 22

DISCLOSURE: The following is a synopsis and reviews of this week’s comic books from multiple publishers. If you like our reviews and would like to purchase these books you can do so by visiting our partners at TFAW.com. If you decide to buy anything through our provided links we get a small commission which helps keep our website alive and running. Thanks for your time.

BATMAN #144

Batman #144 marks the culmination of “The Joker Year One” arc, a storyline that attempts to weave together threads from Batman’s past, present, and future. However, the narrative ambition of the arc falls short, leaving readers with a disjointed experience that struggles to integrate its temporal elements effectively. Chip Zdarsky, the writer behind this installment, appears to be caught in a creative crossfire, attempting to channel the essence of previous Batman narratives while striving to infuse his unique interpretation of the Dark Knight. This balancing act results in a narrative that lacks a cohesive voice, oscillating between homage and innovation without fully committing to either. The artwork by Camuncoli and Nesi further accentuates this disconnect, failing to harmonize, and inadvertently contributing to the overall sense of narrative disarray. The issue feels like a missed opportunity, a haphazard mixture of styles and themes that fails to capitalize on its potential, echoing past successes without carving out its own identity.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN: WORLD'S FINEST #24

In contrast, Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #24 delivers a masterful conclusion to the duo’s journey in the world of Kingdom Come. Mark Waid demonstrates his adept handling of the DC Universe, breathing new life into the futuristic setting while honoring its roots. Unexpectedly, Waid extends the narrative of Kingdom Come, laying the groundwork for future stories that promise to enhance the lore of this iconic setting. Dan Mora’s artwork in this issue is nothing short of breathtaking, offering a portrayal of Darkseid that stands out as perhaps the most compelling visualization of the character in comic book history. This issue not only reaffirms the title’s reputation for excellence but also showcases the creative team’s ability to surprise and captivate its audience, setting a new standard for storytelling in the DC Universe.

CATWOMAN #62

Catwoman #62 carries forward the momentum from the previous issue, delivering a narrative that is both engaging and innovative. Tini Howard’s script cleverly leverages Selina Kyle’s iconic “extra lives,” integrating her into a storyline with the Suicide Squad that is both entertaining and fresh. The adventure introduces a novel, otherworldly gimmick that enriches the Catwoman lore, blending well with the character’s established themes. Carmine di Giandomenico’s artistry is a perfect match for the tone of the series, offering a dynamic and stylish depiction of Catwoman’s world that enhances the storytelling. The “Nine Lives” arc continues to promise great potential, meeting expectations with its clever writing and visually engaging artwork, setting the stage for more thrilling adventures.

GREEN LANTERN: WAR JOURNAL #6

In “Green Lantern: War Journal #6,” the series continues to thrive by concentrating on its protagonist, John Stewart, highlighting his exceptional capabilities both with and without the iconic Green Lantern ring. Although this issue offers limited moments between John and his mother, the writing team of Johnson and Motos skillfully maintains a deep connection to what sets Stewart apart from the plethora of Lanterns. The introduction of the Revenant Queen as the antagonist provides an intriguing challenge, yet her character lacks a distinctive personality that matches the level of threat she poses. The series is rich with potential, exploring unique aspects of John Stewart’s character and his solo endeavors. The desire for future issues to delve deeper into these specific narratives is palpable, suggesting a yearning for a more focused exploration of Stewart’s capabilities and challenges.

JOHN CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER: DEAD IN AMERICA #2

“Dead in America #2” accelerates the pace, weaving into the fabric of New Orleans a complex narrative that intertwines DC Comics lore with mythological elements. The issue stands out for its narrative density, rewarding readers who dive back into its pages to uncover the intricate connections between seemingly disparate stories. This complexity underscores the ambitious themes introduced in the series, portraying John Constantine’s journey across the United States as a commentary on the country’s evolution from a 20th-century empire into the 21st century. Aaron Campbell’s artistry elevates the storytelling, masterfully depicting a range of scenarios from psychedelic experiences to harrowing monster encounters with a style that balances horror with a bizarre sense of beauty. This issue, while especially resonant for fans of “Saga of the Swamp Thing” and “Hellblazer,” offers enough on its own to captivate new readers with its darkly beautiful sophomore issue.

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. GODZILLA VS. KONG #5

In “Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #5,” the narrative shifts towards the Godzilla aspect of the saga, setting the stage for upcoming titanic confrontations. The artistic team, consisting of Christian Duce, Tom Derenick, and colorist Luis Guerrero, delivers stunning visuals of Kaiju warfare, notably an undersea battle between Godzilla and the Kraken that is as breathtaking as it is monumental. Beyond this clash, the issue teases future encounters that promise equal grandeur. Writer Brian Buccellato adeptly balances the large-scale conflict with the movements of heroes around the globe, though the frequent shifts in focus may momentarily disengage readers from the storyline. Despite this, the anticipation built for future developments hints at a larger, more dramatic narrative unfolding. While not the strongest installment of the series, the groundwork laid out in this issue hints at an epic crescendo in the battles to come, stirring excitement for what lies ahead in this crossover spectacle.

NIGHTWING #111

“Nightwing #111” showcases the exceptional storytelling prowess of Taylor and Redondo, diving deep into the essence of superheroism through the lens of Dick Grayson. This issue stands out as a thoughtful exploration of the internal battles that define a hero, often presenting Dick’s psychological struggles as formidable adversaries in their own right. The nuanced portrayal of Nightwing’s mental and emotional challenges highlights the complexity of his character, making each issue a rich, character-driven narrative. The dynamic between Dick and Batman is particularly compelling in this installment, with Bruce Wayne serving as an unlikely but endearing source of support for Nightwing. This mentor-mentee relationship adds a layer of depth to the story, emphasizing the importance of personal connections in the superhero world. Taylor’s narrative promises to continue in this vein, setting “Nightwing” on a trajectory to be remembered as one of the most profound superhero sagas in comic book history.

SUPERMAN #11

“Superman #11” continues to captivate audiences with its unpredictable plot twists and deep character development, courtesy of Joshua Williamson’s masterful storytelling. This issue excels in creating a domino effect of consequences that ripple through the narrative, reshaping our understanding of the characters involved, particularly Lex Luthor and Lena Luthor. Lena’s emerging significance in the storyline is handled with care, her development paying off in unexpectedly rewarding ways. The underlying machinations of the story initially seem straightforward but quickly unravel into a complex web of intrigue, showcasing Williamson’s knack for subverting expectations. The artistic collaboration of David Baldeon, Rex Lokus, and Ariana Maher brings this intricate narrative to life, their work perfectly encapsulating the sinister vibes of the Pharm and Graft, while also capturing Superman’s shifting emotions and the dynamism of the action sequences with finesse. This issue is a testament to the series’ consistently high quality, affirming “Superman’s” status as a standout run in the superhero genre.

TITANS #8

Following the conclusion of “Beast World,” “Titans #8” ushers in a fresh story arc under the guidance of Tom Taylor and Stephen Segovia, hinting at significant developments for the Titans team. This new narrative direction brings excitement and anticipation, introducing another member to the superhero ensemble and hinting at the potential for profound changes within the group. However, this addition also brings a sense of deja vu, as the series seems to repeatedly explore the theme of moral ambiguity among the Titans, posing the question, “What if that Titan were bad?” This recurrent narrative motif risks rendering the series predictable, potentially diluting the impact of its otherwise innovative storytelling. The challenge for Taylor and Segovia moving forward will be to rejuvenate the series with fresh, engaging storylines that push the boundaries of character and plot, ensuring that “Titans” remains a compelling and dynamic part of the DC Universe.

WONDER WOMAN #6

“Wonder Woman #6” is a visual feast, thanks to Daniel Sampere’s breathtaking artwork that shines exceptionally in the numerous battle scenes. The artistry is, without doubt, a highlight, showcasing Sampere’s talent for bringing dynamic action to life with stunning detail. However, the narrative substance of the issue does not match its visual grandeur. Tom King’s tenure on the series has been marred by a sense of tedium, and this installment, despite its pivotal battle and the introduction of The Sovereign, underscores this trend. The anticipation built around this moment feels delayed, as if the narrative could have benefited from reaching this juncture sooner, reducing the filler that has characterized much of the run. Six issues in, the direction and purpose of the story remain ambiguous, straying from its initial focus on anti-Amazonian sentiment without a clear path forward. The decision to narrate the entire issue from The Sovereign’s perspective further detaches the narrative from Wonder Woman herself, suggesting a reluctance or inability on King’s part to directly engage with the character’s essence. This approach results in a story that feels like it’s circling around its central figure rather than delving into her complexities. The inclusion of a clichéd scene featuring a character looking sad in the rain exemplifies the issue’s reliance on overused motifs, contributing to a sense of narrative exhaustion.

ALIEN: BLACK, WHITE & BLOOD #1

Marvel’s “Alien: Black, White & Blood” #1 marks a successful expansion of the anthology series into the Alien franchise, showcasing the potential for concise, impactful storytelling within this universe. The issue excels in its exploration of big concepts within limited narratives, a format that seems particularly fitting for the Alien series. The opening story, “Utopia” by Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, and Michael Dowling, presents a compelling clash between a utopian vision of the future and the grim reality introduced by the Xenomorphs, setting a high bar for the anthology. Stephanie Phillips and Marcelo Ferreira’s “The Hunt” adds a timeless political dimension to the Alien lore, while Ryan Cady and Devmalya Pramanik’s “Maternal Instinct” offers a tight, movie-worthy narrative. Each story stands out for its unique take on the Alien mythos, proving that the franchise thrives on innovative storytelling. This anthology starts strong, promising a series that could revitalize interest in the ongoing Alien comics with its fresh perspectives and artistic merit.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #5

In “Captain Marvel #5,” the evolving relationship between Carol Danvers and Yuna Lee takes center stage, enriching the series with its emotional depth and narrative significance. Alyssa Wong crafts a memorable chapter in the series, particularly highlighting a heartfelt encounter between Carol and Yuna’s family. This sequence not only propels the storyline but also serves as a delightful counterpoint to the overarching mystical chaos, balancing action with moments of genuine connection and warmth. The artistic team of Jan Bazaldua, Bryan Valenza, and Ariana Maher excels in transitioning between grand magical battles and intimate, character-driven scenes, maintaining engagement and visual appeal throughout. The issue’s exploration of Carol and Yuna’s bond, amidst the looming mysteries of The Omen, adds layers to the narrative, promising continued growth and exploration of these characters. With a focus on the dynamic duo of Carol and Yuna, “Captain Marvel” continues to offer a compelling blend of superhero action and deep, personal storytelling.

DAREDEVIL #6

“Daredevil #6” embarks on a journey to unravel the complexities surrounding Matt Murdock’s latest transformation, albeit leaving some mysteries still shrouded in ambiguity. The narrative takes a significant turn with the introduction of Doctor Strange, who sheds light on the unexpected arrival of the Seven Deadly Sins in Hell’s Kitchen, linking it to Daredevil’s return from the abyss and hinting at unforeseen repercussions of his resurrection. This issue marks the return of the iconic White Daredevil suit, adding a visual symbol of renewal and change to Matt’s character arc. A surprising twist towards the end raises intriguing questions, especially considering the cameo’s current engagements in the wider Marvel Universe, suggesting a narrative challenge for the writers to seamlessly integrate these elements. Despite these developments, the series appears to be treading water, with a reliance on cameo appearances to maintain momentum, indicating a need for a stronger narrative thrust to propel Daredevil’s story forward.

EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #1

“Edge of Spider-Verse #1” reinvigorates the beloved anthology series, celebrating the vast multiverse of Spider-People. This installment offers fans a delightful opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces like Spider-Byte, while also introducing new characters and narratives that expand the Spider-Verse. The series capitalizes on the burgeoning popularity of multiverse storytelling, blending creativity and innovation to reimagine the essence of Spider-Man across different realities. The spotlight on the Spider-Society and Spider-Man 2099’s entanglement in its intricate web promises a compelling direction for the series, teasing future explorations of these newly unveiled corners of the Spider-Verse. The anticipation for where these threads will lead underscores the anthology’s success in capturing the imagination of its audience, promising more thrilling adventures in the expansive universe of Spider-Heroes.

G.O.D.S. #5

In “G.O.D.S. #5,” Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, and Marte Gracia steer the series into its most focused narrative yet, eschewing the broad ensemble cast for a concentrated tale of discovery and loss. This issue deviates from the series’ previous scope, narrowing its lens on Wyn and Mia as they navigate the challenges of an unconventional medical facility, embroiled in enigmatic rituals seeking the essence of purpose. The narrative deepens the thematic exploration of existential quests, contrasting the immediate gratifications of power and comfort with the elusive, yet richer, pursuit of potential and meaning. The absence of familiar faces and broader Marvel Universe elements allows for a more intimate exploration of these themes, positioning “G.O.D.S.” as a philosophical discourse within the superhero genre. The issue cleverly ties back to Hickman’s previous works, framing “G.O.D.S.” as a continuation of the narrative and thematic explorations begun in his Avengers tenure, enriching the Marvel tapestry with its ambitious storytelling and conceptual depth.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ANNUAL #1

“Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1” presents a spectacular end to the team’s latest adventures, balancing tender moments with chaotic battles that redefine the team’s dynamics significantly. The narrative crafted by Kelly and Lanzing excels in delivering an engaging, albeit occasionally rushed, storyline that celebrates the Guardians’ journey while setting the stage for their future. Walker’s artistry captures the essence of the team, enhancing their iconic looks with vibrant, yet familiar, visual flair, further enriched by Hollingsworth’s dynamic color palette and Petit’s meticulous lettering. This issue encapsulates the reasons behind the Guardians of the Galaxy’s esteemed position within Marvel’s expansive universe, leaving readers both satisfied with the conclusion and eager to see what lies ahead for this eclectic group of heroes.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK #9

“The Incredible Hulk #9” takes the series to the atmospheric streets of New Orleans, adding a rich backdrop to its ongoing narrative. Guest artist Danny Earls shines in depicting the horror and intensity of the Hulk’s world, especially in the more grotesque and action-packed scenes. While the portrayal of Hulk’s more nuanced aspects leaves room for improvement, the moments that aim to shock and awe are executed with precision, ensuring the series remains a standout in Marvel’s lineup. The issue’s strength lies in its ability to blend the visceral thrill of the Hulk’s battles with the unique charm of New Orleans, maintaining the comic’s reputation as one of Marvel’s most compelling stories.

LUKE CAGE: GANG WAR #4

“Luke Cage: Gang War #4” struggles to deliver a memorable impact, relying heavily on clichéd tropes and predictable storytelling. The issue attempts to establish Luke Cage’s significance within the Marvel Universe through a series of conventional scenes and dialogues, culminating in a lackluster mecha battle that fails to innovate beyond standard superhero conflicts. The action sequences, interspersed with abrupt dialogue, fail to engage, and the artwork often suffers from poorly considered perspectives and uninspired splash pages. The narrative’s surface-level humor and lack of depth in plot development further detract from the series’ potential, offering a disappointing experience for readers. This installment suggests that Luke Cage’s involvement in this storyline might not have been the best use of the character’s legacy, hinting that a different narrative direction could have better showcased his strengths and contributions to the Marvel Universe.

MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #4

“Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld #4” masterfully showcases the art of superhero storytelling, elevating the series with each new installment. The final issue cleverly introduces a twist that not only raises the stakes but also revisits a concept that’s been hiding in plain sight, despite some modern references that might detract from the nostalgic appeal. While Spider-Man’s concluding confrontation against a mix of heroes and villains doesn’t break new ground, the action sequences skillfully highlight the unique abilities of each character, resulting in a visually appealing and engaging comic book. This issue serves as a homage to the original Secret Wars series, tapping into the fond memories and enduring affection many readers, myself included, hold for that iconic event in Marvel history.

PREDATOR: THE LAST HUNT #1

“Predator: The Last Hunt #1” seamlessly continues the narrative from Marvel’s preceding Predator series, introducing Theta’s pursuit of a Super Predator, potentially setting the stage on the planet featured in the 2010 film. The issue concludes with a thrilling revelation: the return of John Schaefer, a character deeply rooted in Predator lore as the brother of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character from the franchise’s inaugural film. Marvel’s effort to intertwine the Predator’s expansive narrative across films and comics is ambitious, striving to create a cohesive universe that acknowledges its multifaceted history, albeit with notable omissions like “Prey” and the “AvP” series. While primarily laying the groundwork for future storytelling, this issue promises an exciting continuation of the Predator legacy within the Marvel universe.

RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #2

“Rise of the Powers of X #2” dives deep into the rich tapestry of Marvel’s science-fiction landscape, introducing a plethora of innovative concepts that challenge the boundaries of traditional superhero storytelling. The series commendably attempts to streamline complex timelines and mechanics, a task that demands meticulous attention to detail. Despite these ambitions, the issue struggles with balancing its myriad ideas, resulting in a narrative weighed down by excessive exposition and action sequences that feel more obligatory than organic. The inclusion of elements like the Sinister dominion, White Hot Room, and Moira’s powers, while intriguing, contribute to a convoluted storyline that can overwhelm readers. The visual presentation remains a highlight, offering striking character designs and dynamic scenes, even if the significance of these moments occasionally gets lost in the narrative shuffle. As the series progresses, there is hope that subsequent issues will clarify the overarching vision and unify the diverse strands into a cohesive and compelling story.

SPIDER-BOY #4

“Spider-Boy #4” continues to solidify its place as a standout title, with Dan Slott at the helm steering the narrative into emotionally rich waters. The focus on Bailey’s strained relationship with Peter Parker, who fumbles in his role as a mentor, adds a compelling layer to the superhero coming-of-age story. Slott navigates the complex dynamics between Bailey and Peter with a deft hand, avoiding clichéd pitfalls and instead presenting a nuanced exploration of disappointment and growth. The balance between heartfelt drama and the inherent humor of Bailey’s world, especially through the villain arcs in “Missing Pieces,” enriches the storytelling. The artistic contributions of Paco Medina and Ty Templeton, alongside colorists Erick Arciniega and Dee Cunniffe, elevate the narrative, capturing the vibrancy and depth of Bailey’s journey. The anticipation for the series’ future direction is a testament to the creative team’s ability to weave a story that resonates on multiple levels, promising more intriguing developments in Spider-Boy’s saga.

SPIDER-WOMAN #4

The emotional rollercoaster of “Spider-Woman #4” leaves a lasting impression, challenging readers and fans with a narrative steeped in personal conflict and transformation. Steve Foxe embraces the complexities of Jessica’s life and her relationship with Gerry, leveraging the shocking developments of previous issues to delve deeper into themes of mortality, legacy, and the intricate web of family dynamics. The storyline refuses to shy away from the hard questions and uncomfortable truths that define Jessica and Gerry’s relationship, providing a fertile ground for character development. The artistic prowess of Carla Borelli and Arif Prianto breathes life into the narrative, capturing the intensity of the emotional stakes and the kinetic energy of the action sequences. This issue, while diverging from fan expectations, crafts a poignant and compelling chapter in Spider-Woman’s journey, hinting at a path filled with potential for redemption and growth.

STAR WARS #43

“Star Wars #43” takes readers on an introspective journey with Luke Skywalker as he navigates the metaphysical landscape within a kyber crystal. This issue stands out as an exploration of the deeper, more philosophical aspects of the Force, echoing the themes and inquiries posed by the original trilogy. Through encounters with Sith Lords and reflections on his past and potential future, Luke engages in a process of healing both the crystal and, metaphorically, himself. While the setting within the crystal presents a narrative where stakes may feel abstract, the story plants crucial seeds for Luke’s evolution towards the Jedi Knight seen in “Return of the Jedi.” This chapter offers a unique glimpse into the uncharted territories of Luke’s journey, providing fans with a thoughtful, albeit less action-packed, addition to the expansive lore of Star Wars. The exploration of such existential themes enriches the saga, inviting readers to ponder the complexities of the Force and its impact on the characters’ destinies.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #2

“Ultimate Spider-Man #2” carries forward the high expectations set by its predecessor with aplomb, as Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto delve deeper into the heart of the Spider-Man mythos. This issue skillfully remixes familiar elements of Peter Parker’s story, infusing it with fresh perspectives and nuances that resonate with both long-time fans and newcomers. Checchetto, with the vibrant support of color artist Matthew Wilson, showcases his exceptional talent through dynamic action sequences that capture the essence of Spider-Man while distinctly marking the beginning of a new era for the character. The creative team’s ability to blend traditional Spider-Man elements with innovative storytelling promises a thrilling journey ahead, setting a strong foundation for the series’ future.

X-FORCE #49

As “X-Force #49” inches closer to its climactic conclusion, the series weaves its most intricate narratives into a compelling tapestry that rewards loyal readers. The spotlight on Beast as the central antagonist adds a layer of complexity to the story, further enriched by the introduction of his younger self from a pivotal moment in X-Men history. This narrative choice not only heightens the drama but also underscores the deep-rooted conflicts within the team. The discussions surrounding the mission encapsulate the series’ long-term character development and plot evolution, making for a satisfying build-up to the finale. Robert Gill’s artwork seamlessly aligns with the series’ legacy, delivering both high-octane action and intimate character moments with equal finesse. As “X-Force #49” sets the stage for its conclusion, it promises a memorable send-off that aims to encapsulate the essence of the series.

ANIMAL POUND #2

“Animal Pound #2” ventures into a bold exploration of governance and democracy through the lens of liberated animals seeking to establish their own society. This issue is a thought-provoking examination of political ideologies, presenting a microcosm of democratic evolution that mirrors human societal challenges. However, the narrative’s educational approach occasionally veers into didactic territory, with extended narrations that may feel more like lectures than storytelling. The anthropomorphic portrayal of animals wielding technology and engaging in complex political discourse stretches the bounds of believability, touching on themes of autonomy and representation without fully addressing the practicalities of their newfound society. Despite these narrative hurdles, the detailed and naturalistic artwork brings a level of empathy and interest to the animal characters, offering a visual anchor to the story’s philosophical inquiries. “Animal Pound #2” ultimately serves as a contemplative, if somewhat sermon-like, exploration of governance, highlighting the complexities and pitfalls of self-rule.

BLASFAMOUS #1

“Blasfamous #1” dives into a complex narrative that scrutinizes the intersections of organized religion and a capitalist society, presenting a gripping tale of spiritual conflict. The story ambitiously tackles themes of faith, greed, and the perils of dogmatic belief systems, weaving a narrative that is as thought-provoking as it is daring. While the comic’s bold swings at these hefty topics are commendable, they occasionally lead to moments where the narrative feels weighed down by its own ambition, particularly through dense exposition. However, beneath the layers of critique and commentary lies an intriguing core, hinting at the potential for a compelling exploration of spirituality and morality within the framework of a modern, profit-driven world. “Blasfamous #1” sets the stage for a series that challenges readers to reflect on the impact of organized religion in contemporary society, promising a journey that is as enlightening as it is entertaining.

THE BONE ORCHARD MYTHOS: TENEMENT #9

In “The Bone Orchard Mythos: Tenement #9,” Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino present a chilling continuation of their horror series, beginning with pages that brilliantly reimagine biblical lore through the lens of cosmic horror. These opening sequences stand out as a high point for the series, showcasing the creative team’s ability to blend mythological elements with a sense of cosmic dread. The visual storytelling and narrative momentum established early on highlight the potential of the series to deliver a unique horror experience. However, the return to the narrative’s less compelling aspects, such as underdeveloped characters and occasional lapses in the artwork’s execution, suggests a struggle to fully realize its ambitious vision. Despite these setbacks, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation for how the series will conclude, leaving readers hopeful for a resolution that transcends its earlier limitations and fully embraces its dark, inventive roots.

CEMETERY KIDS DON'T DIE #1

“Cemetery Kids Don’t Die #1” marks a compelling debut for a miniseries that skillfully blends comic book aesthetics with elements of horror. The narrative excels in immersing readers into its eerie, otherworldly setting, offering a visually striking journey marked by moments of grotesque beauty. The series, published by Oni Press, demonstrates a keen understanding of what makes horror resonate with audiences, balancing macabre visuals with a narrative that invites curiosity about the mysteries it holds. As the series sets out to explore uncharted territories of terror over its remaining issues, there’s a palpable excitement for the potential growth of this universe and the creative team’s ability to expand on the themes of death, resilience, and the supernatural. “Cemetery Kids Don’t Die #1” lays a solid foundation for what promises to be a thrilling addition to the horror genre in comics, signaling a bright future for the creators involved.

COBRA COMMANDER #2

In “Cobra Commander #2,” Joshua Williams takes the series on a detour into the bizarre, setting the stage in the Florida Everglades for a showdown between Cobra Commander and the infamous Florida Man. This issue diverges from the initial attempt to humanize one of G.I. Joe’s most notorious villains, leaning into a mix of humor and absurdity that starkly contrasts with the series opener. The narrative choice to juxtapose Cobra Commander’s villainy with the outlandish antics found in Florida adds a layer of satire to the story, though it risks diluting the anticipated depth with lighter, comedic elements. While the issue serves as an interlude to the larger plot involving Megatron’s capture by COBRA, the shift in tone underscores a playful exploration of Cobra Commander’s character outside the conventional battlegrounds. This approach, while entertaining, hints at a broader narrative waiting to unfold, promising a return to the more significant story arcs in future issues.

A HAUNTED GIRL #4

“A Haunted Girl #4” brings the series to a hopeful close, offering a simplified yet powerful portrayal of overcoming personal demons. The narrative, while straightforward, taps into the universal struggle against depression and intrusive thoughts, using Cleo’s battle as a metaphor for the fight many face in reality. Despite wishing for a deeper dive into Cleo’s family history and a more nuanced exploration of her challenges, the issue succeeds in delivering an optimistic message about resilience and the possibility of victory over one’s innermost fears. The climax, where Cleo, bolstered by support and her own determination, chooses life over succumbing to despair, encapsulates a positive and inspiring takeaway. While the execution may lean towards the simplistic, it effectively communicates the core message of hope and strength in the face of adversity, rounding off the series on an uplifting note.

THE HOLY ROLLER #4

“The Holy Roller #4” doubles down on action-packed sequences of vigilante justice, dedicating its pages to the protagonist’s unyielding fight against racists and bigots. This issue thrives on delivering cathartic moments of retribution, presenting a straightforward narrative that resonates with readers seeking a bold stance against hate. However, the story’s attempt to delve deeper into the motivations and intellect of its antagonists reveals some shortcomings, lacking the nuanced portrayal that complex villains require. Rick Remender’s portrayal of the adversaries as somewhat one-dimensional or easily sidetracked may oversimplify the reality of hate group dynamics, missing an opportunity to explore the deeper, more insidious aspects of such organizations. While the focus on direct confrontation is undeniably engaging, the narrative transition back to story development feels somewhat abrupt, suggesting that balancing high-octane action with a coherent, deeper storyline remains a challenging task for the series.

THE JAGUAR #1

Archie Comics’ “The Jaguar #1” breathes new life into a classic superhero, introducing Ivette Velez to a new generation while enriching the lore surrounding her character. The comic strikes an excellent balance, making it accessible to newcomers without alienating long-time fans of the Archie superhero universe. The artwork is vibrant and engaging, perfectly complementing the story’s pace and Ivette’s journey of self-discovery as she uncovers hidden truths about her origin and powers. This revival of The Jaguar not only showcases the character’s potential for modern adventures but also pays homage to her roots, promising an exciting series of future escapades. The blend of fresh storytelling with nostalgic elements makes “The Jaguar #1” a standout, signaling a promising direction for Archie Comics’ superhero lineup.

LOTUS LAND #4

“Lotus Land #4” continues to impress with its blend of noir storytelling and a richly imagined technological future. Poelgeest and Filipe deepen the enigmatic tale of Bennie Strikman, weaving a narrative that is as captivating as it is visually striking. The ambiance of the series is its standout feature, with the creative team masterfully invoking a noir atmosphere reminiscent of “Blade Runner,” complemented by Filipe’s exceptional panel work that captures the emotional depth of the story. “Lotus Land” demonstrates Boom’s commitment to exploring diverse genres, showcasing the publisher’s ability to deliver compelling stories outside the mainstream comic book fare. This issue further cements the series as a must-read for fans of the genre, highlighting the creative team’s prowess in maintaining narrative momentum and visual intrigue without squandering any narrative space.

MIDLIFE (OR HOW TO HERO AT FIFTY!) #5

“Midlife (Or How to Hero at Fifty!) #5” shows significant improvement over its predecessors, addressing previous criticisms while highlighting the series’ evolving strengths. Despite the earlier issues’ struggles with integrating superhero and science fiction lore effectively, this installment finds its footing with a more focused exploration of Ruben’s journey. The art creatively delves into Ruben’s origins, adding depth to his character, while his present-day adventures inject a sense of vitality and purpose into the narrative. The series seems to be gathering momentum, much like a snowball rolling downhill, growing in confidence and narrative depth with each issue. This upward trend in storytelling and character development offers hope for the series’ future, indicating that “Midlife” may yet realize its full potential as a unique take on the superhero genre, resonating with readers looking for stories of late bloomers finding their place in the world.

NIGHTS #5

“Nights #5” marks a pivotal shift in the series, moving away from the extensive dialogues of its earlier issues to embrace the core of its supernatural narrative. This focus allows for a more engaging and suspenseful experience, with the horror elements finally taking the spotlight. The issue is peppered with well-crafted character moments that are both meaningful and succinct, enhancing the story without detracting from the pace. This streamlined approach gives the impression of a fresh start, rejuvenating the series with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. The horror story’s ascension to the forefront signals a promising evolution for “Nights,” suggesting that the series is finding its stride in blending character-driven storytelling with the compelling mysteries of the supernatural.

THE SIX FINGERS #1

“The Six Fingers #1,” crafted by the talented team of Dan Watters, Sumit Kumar, Lee Loughridge, and Aditya Bidikar, serves as a fascinating counterpart to “The One Hand #1,” offering a new perspective within the intriguing world of Neo Novena. This issue introduces Johannes, a character whose youth and arrogance starkly contrast with the seasoned detective of “The One Hand,” providing a fresh lens through which the city is viewed. Kumar’s art, with its clean lines and creative layouts, masterfully illustrates the power dynamics at play, particularly in scenes where Johannes manipulates conversations to dominate those around him. The narrative subtly shifts from the noir foundations of its predecessor to explore speculative fiction elements, hinting at deeper mysteries and the enigmatic “One Hand Killer.” “The Six Fingers” excels in building upon the established lore of Neo Novena, presenting a character-driven story that enriches the overarching mystery. The balance between maintaining the cyberpunk genre’s mood and introducing new, potentially fantastical elements poses an intriguing challenge for the series’ future. As it stands, “The Six Fingers #1” captivates with its character dynamics and deepens the intrigue of Neo Novena, promising a complex and layered exploration of its world.

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