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FEBRUARY 7 COMIC REVIEWS

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 #142

In Batman #142, the series embarks on a daring narrative arc dubbed “The Joker Year One”. This storyline endeavors to weave together the complex tapestry of the Joker’s multifaceted history, blending origin story elements with a modern retelling aimed at integrating the current portrayal of Gotham’s most notorious villain within Chip Zdarsky’s Batman series and aligning it with his legendary narrative lineage. However, the issue’s ambition seems to falter as it becomes bogged down in over-elaborating trivial facets of the Joker’s lore, diluting the potential for a profound exploration of his evolution. Instead of forging meaningful links across the temporal divides of the Joker’s past, present, and future, the comic leans heavily into the minutiae, sidestepping opportunities to delve into the essence of what makes the character enduringly compelling. This installment, while rich in intent, ultimately delivers a narrative that feels more like a missed opportunity to enrich the Joker’s storied legacy, providing scant narrative progression of significance.

BIRDS OF PREY #6

Issue #6 of Birds of Prey, entitled “Megadeath”, marks a pivotal moment in the series, delivering an issue brimming with narrative ingenuity and visual splendor. The storyline unfolds with the Birds of Prey facing the cataclysmic aftermath of Megadeath’s onslaught, a plot twist that initially seems to resolve too conveniently but quickly reveals itself to be a masterfully crafted setup for the forthcoming story arc. Kelly Thompson’s prowess in character development shines through, as each panel is saturated with poignant moments that deepen the reader’s connection to the characters. Leonardo Romero’s artwork complements Thompson’s storytelling with remarkable flair, particularly in the issue’s more dynamic scenes and innovative layouts, adding a layer of visual poetry to the narrative. This issue stands as a testament to the revitalized essence of Birds of Prey under the new era, beckoning both longtime fans and newcomers to immerse themselves in its unfolding saga.

DC'S HOW TO LOSE A GUY GARDNER IN 10 DAYS #1

DC Comics’ “How to Lose a Guy Gardner in 10 Days” #1 emerges as a standout entry in the publisher’s tradition of holiday-themed anthology comics, this time celebrating Valentine’s Day with a flourish. Unlike previous compilations, this issue distinguishes itself with a collection of stories devoid of filler, each one a gem that offers a glimpse into the romantic entanglements and heartfelt escapades of DC’s pantheon. The anthology cleverly navigates the past and present love stories of iconic characters such as Guy Gardner, John Constantine, Red Tornado, Batgirl, Nightwing, Booster Gold, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, enriching the DC Universe’s tapestry with tales that might have otherwise remained untold. The narrative is infused with a blend of humor and warmth, artfully balanced with solid writing and artistic execution, making it an essential read for fans seeking a light-hearted yet meaningful exploration of their favorite heroes’ lives beyond their battles and victories. This issue not only celebrates love in its myriad forms but also showcases the versatility and depth of storytelling that the DC Universe is capable of, making it a worthy addition to any comic book aficionado’s collection.

FIRE & ICE: WELCOME TO SMALLVILLE #6

The concluding issue of “Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville” encapsulates the series’ essence, solidifying its status as one of the most distinctive offerings from DC Comics in recent memory. Bea (Fire) and Tora (Ice) confront the chaos unleashed by Rocky, also known as Kooey Kooey Kooey, intertwining their adventure with Martha Kent’s parallel confrontation with the enigmatic Crave. This final chapter masterfully illustrates the growth and evolution of Fire and Ice, underscored by their experiences in the quaint town of Smallville. The narrative adeptly assigns a meaningful role to each character, imbuing them with a sense of purpose that resonates throughout the storyline. Martha Kent, in particular, emerges as a standout character, shedding her conventional role as Superman’s mother to reveal a robust, independent persona that captivates the reader. The issue strikes a harmonious balance between humor and emotional depth, weaving a narrative that is both entertaining and poignant. The portrayal of each character’s distinct personality, especially Martha’s, is a testament to the creative team’s ability to craft a story that is both engaging and heartfelt. Fans are left hoping for future escapades featuring Bea and Tora, hinting at the potential for more stories set within this uniquely charming universe.

KNEEL BEFORE ZOD #2

“Kneel Before Zod” #2 ambitiously treads the line between grandeur and modesty, presenting a narrative ripe with potential. Joe Casey’s script escalates dramatically, particularly focusing on Faora, whose storyline unfolds with compelling consequences that stem from a somewhat simplistic foundation. The artistry of Dan McDaid shines in this issue, bringing a playful and imaginative approach to panel layouts and character designs. Despite the occasional lapse into exaggerated expressions, the visual storytelling captivates with its dynamism and creativity. The issue subtly hints at the untapped potential within the series, suggesting that future installments could delve deeper into the complexities of its characters and plot. As the series progresses, there is a sense of anticipation for “Kneel Before Zod” to expand its narrative scope and deepen its exploration of the characters’ motivations and challenges.

POISON IVY #19

In “Poison Ivy” #19, the narrative ingeniously reimagines the cliché of a life flashing before one’s eyes at the brink of death, transforming it into a profound exploration of Pamela Isley’s origins. This issue not only revisits pivotal moments from Pamela’s past but also introspectively examines her transformation into the character fans have come to adore. The influence of Jason Woodrue, Pamela’s mentor turned adversary, is depicted with nuanced complexity, highlighting Pamela’s personal accountability and the moments of choice that shaped her path. This reexamination adds layers of depth to Poison Ivy’s character, enriching her story with emotional resonance and a heightened sense of humanity. The narrative seamlessly integrates familiar faces from the DC Universe into Pamela’s backstory, enriching the tapestry of her life with their presence. The issue stands out for its minimal action, instead prioritizing character development and storytelling finesse. Both the narrative and artistic execution of “Poison Ivy” #19 are laudable, presenting a compelling and beautifully crafted chapter in the saga of one of DC’s most beloved characters.

SHAZAM! #8

“Shazam! #8” marks a continuation of the narrative slowdown initiated in the previous issue, as it delves deeper into “The Captain vs. Black Adam” storyline. This issue endeavors to tie up the loose ends from “Shazam! #7,” specifically addressing the return of bureaucratic alien dinosaurs and the confrontation at the Batson household involving Black Adam. However, the resolutions offered feel anticlimactic and overly convenient, detracting from the buildup of suspense and intrigue. Darla’s charming interactions with the alien dinosaurs, while endearing, simplify a subplot that had been simmering over several issues into a resolution more fitting for a brief comic strip than a key narrative arc. The aftermath of Billy’s previous actions is addressed with a lack of direct involvement on his part, and the potential exploration of complex characters like Black Adam and Zeus is largely overlooked. Despite these criticisms, the issue retains elements of fun and humor in its character interactions, though these qualities struggle to compensate for the narrative’s lack of depth and momentum in comparison to the series’ earlier, more engaging chapters. The absence of Dan Mora’s artwork is notable, as the issue strives yet falters to capture the series’ grandiosity and kinetic energy, with inconsistencies in the portrayal of action and character anatomy diminishing the visual impact of the story.

ALIEN #4

The fourth installment of the “Alien” series brings the current story arc to a climactic end, merging violence with a narrative that seeks to resonate on an emotional level. Despite some challenges in conveying the complexities of interpersonal relationships to newer readers, Declan Shalvey’s script injects a palpable sense of emotion into the unfolding drama. Andrea Broccardo’s artwork shines in its depiction of the Xenomorphs, capturing the essence of the alien terror with a keen eye for detail. The human and humanoid characters are generally well-rendered, though occasional inconsistencies in panel execution slightly mar the visual coherence. This chapter of the “Alien” saga presents a gripping, albeit non-essential, contribution to the franchise, offering fans an additional, if not indispensable, exploration of the Alien universe’s enduring themes of survival and horror.

THE AVENGERS #10

“The Avengers #10” distinguishes itself by stepping away from the conventional focus on its titular heroes, instead spotlighting two riveting confrontations that underscore the issue’s unique appeal. The narrative diverges into a compelling battle of wits and might between Kang the Conqueror, found in a rare moment of vulnerability, and the mystical Myrddin. Parallel to this, a more personal struggle unfolds as Thor and Scarlet Witch engage the nefarious Nightmare, delving into a web of startling revelations that test both their powers and their resolve. The skirmish against Nightmare stands out not only for the high stakes involved but also for the depth it adds to the Avengers’ lore, seamlessly blending action with exploration of uncharted narrative territories. This shift in storytelling focus is a testament to the creative synergy of the series’ dynamic creative team, whose collective experience and cohesive vision have crafted an issue that feels both innovative and unmistakably Avengers. Their ability to balance character development with plot progression showcases a narrative craftsmanship that elevates the issue beyond mere superhero antics to a nuanced exploration of heroism and villainy.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #6

In “Captain America #6,” the series takes a notable detour from its previous attempts at weaving profound and thought-provoking narratives, opting instead for a more straightforward and action-centric approach. This issue’s climactic battle is executed with a lively pace and visual flair, offering readers an engaging spectacle despite its embrace of the fantastical. Straczynski’s ambition for the series—to convey a message of significance—is evident, yet the realization of these thematic aspirations has faced challenges from the outset. The narrative struggles with consistency in delivery and depth, suggesting a misalignment between the conceptual ambitions and their actualization on the page. This installment, by dialing back on the complexity, provides a clearer, though somewhat simplified, reflection of the series’ core intentions, highlighting the ongoing struggle to find the perfect balance between entertainment and enlightenment within the storied legacy of Captain America.

DOCTOR STRANGE #12

“Doctor Strange #12” emerges as a refreshing interlude following a dense and lore-heavy saga that spanned the preceding eleven issues. This one-shot offers readers a palate cleanser in the form of a light-hearted and whimsical tale, as seen through the eyes of Bats, the Sorcerer Supreme’s loyal and decidedly Very Good Boy. This narrative choice injects a sense of levity and charm into the series, allowing fans a momentary respite from the intense mystical explorations that have characterized the title’s recent journey. Accompanied by the artistic talents of guest contributors Danilo Beyruth and colorist KJ Diaz, the issue pays homage to the classic horror comics tradition, blending it with the distinctive mystique of the Doctor Strange universe. The art style, rich in both homage and innovation, complements the story’s lighter tone, creating an experience that is as visually engaging as it is narratively refreshing. “Doctor Strange #12” stands out as a delightful detour, skillfully bridging the gap between major story arcs while offering a unique and enjoyable exploration of the world through Bats’ perspective.

FANTASTIC FOUR #17

In “Fantastic Four #17,” the narrative ingeniously leverages Sue Storm’s oft-overlooked academic prowess to weave a captivating time travel adventure that resonates with both historical richness and a clever subversion of time-travel conventions. The storyline propels the Fantastic Four back several millennia, emphasizing this epoch’s crucial role in the evolution of humanity. Carlos Gómez’s artistic rendition of ancient flora and fauna breathes life into this bygone era, showcasing the team’s exploratory spirit in a context far removed from their usual cosmic endeavors. This historical immersion serves as a prelude to the introduction of a classic time-traveling antagonist, setting the stage for a cerebral showdown. Ryan North’s narrative strategy meticulously addresses the challenge of outmaneuvering a nearly omnipotent time-traveling foe, resulting in a solution that is as ingenious as it is character-driven. The resolution underscores the team’s ingenuity and unity, reinforcing their status as Marvel’s quintessential explorers. This issue stands as a tribute to the Fantastic Four’s legacy, particularly highlighting the dynamic between Marvel’s first couple, making it a timely celebration for Valentine’s Day. The blend of historical intrigue and time-travel shenanigans encapsulates the essence of the Fantastic Four’s adventures, reminding readers of the wonder that has made the series a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe.

THE SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK #5

“The Sensational She-Hulk #5” continues to dazzle, picking up from a girls’ night that unexpectedly spirals into a demon-infested melee. Rainbow Rowell masterfully balances character development and action, furthering Jen Walters’ narrative while spotlighting Patsy Walker and Carol Danvers in roles that will delight their fans. The storyline not only propels the overarching plot but also enriches the characters’ relationships, adding depth to the Marvel Universe’s social fabric. Ig Guara’s artwork infuses the issue with a vibrant energy that perfectly complements the narrative’s blend of lighthearted banter and supernatural combat. The illustrations capture the essence of the characters’ struggles against both literal and metaphorical demons, providing a visual feast that enhances the storytelling. This issue exemplifies the series’ strengths, combining humor, heart, and heroism in a package that promises even greater things for the future of “Sensational She-Hulk.” Rowell and Guara’s collaboration is a testament to the series’ potential to continue evolving into one of Marvel’s standout titles.

STAR WARS: MACE WINDU #1

“Star Wars: Mace Windu #1” offers fans a glimpse into a previously unexplored chapter of the Jedi Master’s life, set before his tenure on the Jedi Council. Tasked with safeguarding the peace of the galaxy, Windu embarks on a mission to protect a woman who has stumbled upon a groundbreaking advancement in intergalactic travel. This opening salvo sets the tone for a series that ventures into the shadows of the Star Wars universe, revealing a side of Windu that contrasts sharply with his more stoic portrayal in the prequel films. The issue kicks off with an adrenaline-fueled escape from an aquatic peril, swiftly transitioning into a noir-tinged narrative that sees Windu navigating the murky waters of galactic intrigue. The artwork mirrors this darker, more grounded approach, offering a visual style that diverges from the polished aesthetics of contemporary Star Wars comics. This pulp-inspired ambiance provides a fresh backdrop for Windu’s exploits, highlighting his agility, tactical acumen, and cool-headedness. While “Star Wars: Mace Windu #1” may tread familiar narrative ground, it invigorates the franchise by focusing on a beloved character’s untold adventures. The promise of a series that melds the intrigue of a covert operation with the lore of the Star Wars universe has fans eagerly anticipating future installments. This debut issue lays the groundwork for an exhilarating exploration of Mace Windu’s legacy, one that honors his formidable reputation while expanding his story in compelling new directions.

STAR WARS: OBI-WAN KENOBI #5

“Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi #5” weaves a narrative where the paths of Obi-Wan, Leia, and their newfound Rebel allies inevitably intersect with the menacing forces of Vader, Third Sister Reva, and the Empire, placing the fragile sanctuary of the Rebels under siege. The duality of this chapter’s storytelling oscillates between adrenaline-fueled skirmishes and the introspective depth of character-driven moments, crafting a narrative that both captivates and occasionally stumbles. The visual representation of these action-packed sequences benefits significantly from the detailed depiction of the iconic armor worn by Darth Vader and his stormtroopers, which enhances the ominous and foreboding atmosphere of their presence. These elements starkly contrast with the more natural and less imposing Rebel environments, highlighting the invaders’ alien intrusion. However, the comic’s attempt to delve into the emotional and psychological turmoil of its characters through dramatic revelations suffers due to the portrayal of their expressions, which at times seem awkward and detract from the intended emotional impact. The transition from dynamic combat to these intimate exchanges feels jarring, with the artwork sometimes failing to convey the depth of feeling that these moments aim to elicit. This dissonance between action and emotion underscores a challenge in balancing the story’s varying tones, leaving readers hoping for a more cohesive and emotionally resonant conclusion in the series’ forthcoming finale.

THANOS #3

Through the first three issues of the “Thanos” series, the narrative ambition to redefine the Mad Titan’s status quo has been marred by perplexing creative decisions. The artwork, with few exceptions, fails to captivate, notably lacking the vibrancy and intensity expected from a story centered around such a formidable figure. An exception is a flashback involving the Illuminati, which momentarily elevates the visual storytelling with a glimpse into a pivotal moment that shapes the series’ foundation. However, this highlight does little to offset the overall lackluster presentation. Compounding these issues is the portrayal of Thanos himself, whose dialogue often veers into the realm of eloquence at odds with his fearsome reputation. His pleas for Death’s return, rather than underscoring his complexity, come off as uncharacteristically weak, undermining the character’s imposing presence. Similarly, the depiction of the Illuminati feels misaligned with their established personas, contributing to a sense of disconnect with the series’ overarching narrative. These elements suggest a series struggling to find its footing, casting doubt on its ability to deliver on its promise of setting a new course for one of Marvel’s most iconic antagonists.

ULTIMATE BLACK PANTHER #1

In “Ultimate Black Panther #1,” the narrative thrust is encapsulated in T’Challa’s early declaration to Okoye that “Traditions must change,” signaling a thematic exploration of evolution versus tradition within the context of the Marvel Comics’ newly minted Ultimate universe. This installment aims to challenge the status quo, suggesting a readiness to usher in a new era for Black Panther and, by extension, the broader narrative landscape in which he operates. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that the anticipated paradigm shift might not be as radical as initially proposed. Despite the promise of innovation and change, the storyline adheres closely to familiar territory, mirroring the narrative beats and thematic concerns that have characterized Black Panther tales for the past two decades. While this approach ensures a certain level of continuity and respect for the character’s legacy, it also tempers expectations for groundbreaking storytelling. Nonetheless, sprinkled throughout the issue are moments that hint at potential surprises and developments capable of piquing the interest of long-time readers and newcomers alike. These elements suggest a balancing act between honoring tradition and embracing change, a theme that resonates with the character’s enduring legacy as a symbol of both heritage and progressive leadership within the Marvel Universe.

VENOM #30

Al Ewing’s ambitious reinvention of Venom, hailed for its grand science-fiction exploration of the character’s lore, seems to veer off course in “Venom #30”. This installment, potentially concluding the series’ most significant storyline or Ewing’s tenure, falls short of the high expectations set by its innovative beginnings. The narrative’s shift towards serving as mere fodder for crossover events marks a stark departure from the rich, standalone story that captivated readers. Despite this narrative misstep, the artistic collaboration between Cafu and Rafael Pimentel shines as a silver lining. Their combined efforts yield visually compelling symbiote battles, characterized by dynamic uses of the symbiotes’ malleable forms, including their iconic goop and knife-like appendages. This visual spectacle, while engaging, cannot fully compensate for the storyline’s deviation from its initially promising direction, rendering the conclusion of this arc a notable disappointment in the context of Marvel’s recent outputs.

WOLVERINE: MADRIPOOR KNIGHTS #1

Chris Claremont revisits one of his most memorable narratives in “Wolverine: Madripoor Knights #1”, drawing inspiration from the classic Uncanny X-Men issue #268. This new series kickoff aligns with Claremont’s storied history with these characters, juxtaposing the current, more gruesome Wolverine storyline with a return to the intrigue and camaraderie of past adventures. The issue adeptly brings readers up to speed, incorporating Jubilee and Psylocke into the mix, while highlighting Wolverine’s dwindling healing factor amidst threats from The Hand, alongside Captain America and Black Widow. The comic delights with well-choreographed action sequences reminiscent of the prime 1980s X-Men era, despite dialogue that occasionally feels stilted. This throwback approach, complete with a hint of retro charm, offers a refreshing alternative to the darker tones prevalent in contemporary storylines, even if it dips into the realm of cheesiness.

X-MEN #31

In “X-Men #31”, the narrative arc surrounding Synch and Talon reaches its poignant conclusion, amidst a backdrop of the X-Men’s fraught “invasion” plan for Earth. Gerry Duggan leverages this setup for engaging character moments, particularly highlighting Spider-Man’s characteristic self-deprecation amidst standard superhero fare. Phil Noto’s art, with its softer touch, adeptly conveys the emotional gravity of Synch and Talon’s farewell, though it struggles to capture the intensity of the skirmish against the formidable Nimrod. This inconsistency is further exacerbated by the issue’s awkward placement in the broader X-Men timeline, particularly in relation to “Fall of the House of X #1”. The narrative also unexpectedly shifts to explore the dynamics between Kingpin and Typhoid Mary, a subplot that seems detached from the main storyline, suggesting it might be the resolution to a narrative thread explored elsewhere. This diversion, while potentially rich in character development, detracts from the coherence and focus of the issue, underscoring the challenges of balancing multiple storylines within a single comic. The culmination of these elements results in a mixed execution that, while showcasing moments of character brilliance, leaves readers longing for a more unified and impactful narrative experience.

BENEATH THE TREES WHERE NOBODY SEES #3

In “Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees #3,” Samantha’s deep dive into the heart of a small-town mystery captivates with its blend of suspense and intricate character study. The narrative thrives on the subtleties of everyday interactions, where even the most mundane sneeze or offhand remark seeds doubt and suspicion. Horvath masterfully crafts an environment ripe for investigation, allowing the readers to immerse themselves in the local community’s dynamics, teeming with potential clues and red herrings. The focus narrows on a suspect whose story unfolds in unexpected ways, delivering a resolution that is both surprising and poignant. The anthropomorphic characters, rendered with a keen eye for emotional authenticity, anchor the story’s darker themes in a palpable reality. Their nuanced expressions and behaviors add layers of complexity to the narrative, making the unfolding drama resonate on a deeply human level despite the fantastical elements. As the investigation progresses, unveiling new layers of intrigue, Horvath skillfully maintains a delicate balance between advancing the plot and deepening the mystery. The promise of both a satisfying conclusion and further twists keeps anticipation high for the next installment, underscoring Horvath’s prowess in storytelling that deftly subverts and exceeds expectations.a

CRAVE #3

After veering into more explicit territory, “Crave #3” recalibrates, striking a balance between eroticism and narrative depth. This issue marks a return to the character-focused storytelling that initially defined the series, dialing back the explicit content without sacrificing the story’s inherent sensuality. Llovet’s skill in character development and plot progression shines as the narrative reclaims its complexity, proving that the series can be both provocative and profoundly engaging. The nuanced portrayal of characters, coupled with their meaningful interactions, demonstrates the series’ capacity to explore themes of desire and power with sophistication and subtlety. While “Crave” navigates the fine line between erotic thriller and explicit content, its strength lies in its ability to engage readers with compelling storytelling and character dynamics. When the series hits its stride, it showcases an exceptional blend of artistry and narrative, solidifying its place as a distinctive and captivating read within its genre.

DARK SPACES: DUNGEON #3

“Dark Spaces: Dungeon #3” continues Scott Snyder’s exploration of suspense and mystery with a meticulous pace that builds tension and atmosphere. Three issues into the series, readers are kept in suspense, with little revealed about the killer’s identity or motivations. This installment teases the possibility of significant revelations, only to offer scant details, enhancing the feeling of uncertainty and helplessness that mirrors the victims’ experiences. The slow, deliberate unfolding of the narrative serves to deepen the mystery and engage readers on a psychological level, creating an immersive experience in the dark, intricate world Snyder has crafted. The decision to withhold information and progress the plot sparingly is not without purpose; it amplifies the suspense and invests the audience further into the story’s outcome. “Dark Spaces: Dungeon” stands as a testament to Snyder’s storytelling prowess, proving that a well-crafted mystery can captivate and haunt readers, leaving a lasting impact with its masterful blend of suspense and darkness.

GODZILLA: VALENTINES DAY SPECIAL #1

“Godzilla: Valentine’s Day Special #1” marries the thrill of kaiju chaos with the warmth of a budding romance, creating a unique narrative blend that appeals to fans of both genres. In this special edition, the catastrophic disruptions caused by Godzilla and other kaiju serve as the backdrop for an unlikely love story. Two individuals, initially strangers, find their destinies intertwined amidst the destruction, with Godzilla playing the unconventional cupid. This narrative choice cleverly juxtaposes the themes of love and disaster, showcasing how extraordinary circumstances can bring people together in the most unexpected ways. The comic is a testament to the versatility of Godzilla’s legacy, demonstrating that the monster’s ability to captivate audiences extends beyond the traditional boundaries of action and horror, venturing into the realms of romance and comedy. For fans who cherish the iconic monster as well as those who relish romantic comedies, “Godzilla: Valentine’s Day Special #1” offers a refreshing and heartwarming take on the kaiju genre.

GONE #2

In “Gone #2,” the series begins to carve out its identity, distinguishing itself from its inaugural issue by exploring the personal and political complexities of its world. The story delves into the nuanced conflict not just between the freedom fighters and an oppressive government, but also within the intricate web of personal relationships and loyalties that define its characters. Central to this exploration is the strained relationship between Abi and her father, a high-ranking official who chose duty over family, adding a poignant layer to the narrative. This personal angle provides a solid foundation for the broader story, grounding the interstellar conflict in the tangible emotions and choices of its characters. However, the issue also highlights the series’ struggle with clarity regarding its factions and their motivations, particularly the radical group’s religious dimensions. While these elements hint at a richly layered world, their underdevelopment leaves readers wanting more concrete details to fully engage with the story’s stakes. Jock’s artwork, celebrated for its balance of realism and artistic expression, continues to be a high point, capturing the emotional and physical landscapes of the story with skill. As “Gone” progresses, the focus on Abi and her father’s dynamic, against the backdrop of a rebellion, promises depth but also underscores the need for a more fleshed-out narrative universe.

KAYA #15

“Kaya #15” takes a moment to breathe, offering readers and characters alike a chance to reflect on the intricate web of socio-political tensions and alliances within the story. Wes Craig skillfully unpacks the complexities of Shazir, a city teeming with indigenous strife and colonial ambitions, through the eyes of Kaya. This issue stands out for its ability to weave dense exposition without sacrificing narrative momentum, presenting a rich tapestry of motives and histories that challenge binary notions of good and evil. The rebels, with whom Kaya finds herself aligned, are presented with a nuanced morality that enriches the story’s conflict. Craig’s storytelling is visually dynamic, ensuring that the exposition never feels static. The detailed depiction of Shazir’s urban landscape, coupled with action sequences that are both engaging and illustrative of the city’s divisions, keeps the issue lively. By dedicating this chapter to setting the stage, Craig not only enriches the reader’s understanding of the narrative’s context but also elevates the stakes for the unfolding drama. As “Kaya” progresses, it’s clear that the fate of Shazir and its inhabitants will carry a weight that resonates deeply, thanks in large part to the groundwork laid in this pivotal issue.

MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE RETURN #1

“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Return #1” delivers on the high expectations set by the involvement of Amy Jo Johnson and Matt Hotson, offering a blend of nostalgia and narrative innovation that revitalizes the beloved franchise. The return to the original Mighty Morphin team, coupled with Johnson’s unique perspective as the original Pink Ranger, provides a foundation that is both familiar and ripe for exploration. This issue distinguishes itself by daring to evolve the core characters beyond their 1990s personas, reflecting the passage of time and the personal growth that accompanies it. Kimberly Hart, in particular, emerges as a focal point of complexity and intrigue, her character’s journey since the series’ heyday marked by loss and resilience. The narrative bravely engages with themes of heartbreak and reunion, elevating the story above a mere rehashing of past glories. The art team of Nico Leon, Francesco Segala, and Gloria Martinelli plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between past and present, capturing the essence of the characters with a matured aesthetic that honors their origins while acknowledging their evolution. The debut issue weaves unexpected twists into the fabric of the Power Rangers lore, igniting discussions among longtime fans and rekindling their connection to the series. The allure of discovering the paths the characters have taken, coupled with the promise of overcoming new challenges, creates a compelling narrative hook. “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Return #1” not only caters to the nostalgia of its audience but also promises a journey that is as emotionally rich as it is adventurous, setting a high bar for future installments.

ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD #12

“Issue #12 of Once Upon a Time at the End of the World” delves deep into the emotional turmoil of a relationship’s demise, set against a backdrop of post-apocalyptic desolation. This installment stands out for its poignant exploration of Mezzy and Maceo’s journey from childhood sweethearts to embittered ex-lovers, providing a raw and unflinching look at the complexities of love and loss. The artistic contributions of Alexandre Tefenkgi and Leila Del Duca enrich the narrative with a sense of nostalgia, their styles evoking the innocence and hope of the characters’ past through softer visuals and tender dialogue. Nick Dragotta’s artwork complements this narrative depth with a visceral portrayal of the apocalypse, rendering the chaos and violence of this new world with stark brutality. This contrast not only highlights the harsh realities the characters face but also amplifies the emotional stakes of their interpersonal conflict. The series’ exploration of breakup bitterness, articulated through painfully honest exchanges, marks a narrative high point, showcasing the series’ ability to navigate the spectrum of human emotions with authenticity and impact. “Once Upon a Time at the End of the World #12” not only serves as a compelling chapter in its own right but also sets the stage for a climactic resolution that promises to be both emotionally and visually arresting.

THE ONE HAND #1

“The One Hand #1” introduces readers to the intriguing and shadowy world of Neo Novena, setting the stage for a complex narrative that promises to unravel from multiple perspectives across sister series. This Rashomon-inspired approach to storytelling, with different creative teams offering alternate views of the same events, injects a fascinating layer of complexity and anticipation into the series. While the absence of “The Six Fingers #1” leaves readers yearning for the fuller picture, “The One Hand” stands strong on its own merits, weaving a dark and engaging mystery that captivates from the outset. The setting of Neo Novena is richly imagined, providing a backdrop that is as enigmatic as it is fraught with tension. The promise of thematic depth and character-driven intrigue is palpable, inviting readers to immerse themselves in a narrative that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant. The anticipation of exploring the story from diverse viewpoints adds a unique dimension to the reading experience, promising a tapestry of narratives that are as interconnected as they are distinct. “The One Hand #1” marks an auspicious beginning for what promises to be a compelling foray into the mysteries and machinations of Neo Novena, setting a high standard for storytelling and world-building.

PINE AND MERRIMAC #2

“Pine and Merrimac #2” escalates the intrigue and pace set by its predecessor, blending small-town dynamics with an engrossing mystery. The central characters, Linnea and Parker, dive deeper into the investigation of a mysterious island, revealing layers of conspiracy that, while familiar, are rendered fresh through the lens of these compelling protagonists. Linnea’s intellect and empathy contrast sharply with Parker’s physicality, creating a dynamic partnership that drives the narrative forward. Galán’s artwork vividly captures the essence of their journey, ensuring each panel is packed with detail and momentum. The series shines not just in its thrilling central narrative but also in its robust supporting cast, who add depth and levity to the story. Starks skillfully balances the darker elements of the mystery with moments of humor and warmth, crafting a well-rounded tale that keeps readers invested. The end of this issue leaves a palpable sense of anticipation, promising further twists and developments that continue to engage and surprise. “Pine and Merrimac” stands out for its ability to maintain a relentless pace while still delving into character-driven storytelling, making it a standout addition to the genre.

SAUCER COUNTRY: THE FINALE #1

“Saucer Country: The Finale #1” attempts to bring closure to a series that navigated the complex waters of politics and extraterrestrial intrigue. The revelation of a psyop, blending real-world geopolitical tensions with the fantastical elements of alien abduction lore, aims for a high-stakes confrontation that ultimately struggles to find its footing. The portrayal of Vladimir Putin, while timely in its commentary on disinformation, veers into caricature, diluting the narrative’s impact and leaving the series’ climax feeling somewhat disjointed. Despite these narrative challenges, Ryan Kelly’s artwork remains a highlight, showcasing the same meticulous detail and creativity that fans of the original series appreciated. Kelly’s ability to convey emotion and tension through his visuals offers moments of genuine engagement, underscoring the potential of what the finale could have achieved. While “Saucer Country: The Finale” may not fully deliver on its ambitious premise, it provides a visually stunning exploration of themes that have become increasingly relevant in today’s political landscape.

THE SPACE BETWEEN #4

“The Space Between #4” concludes a narrative ambitious in scope, spanning over a century and exploring the interconnected fates of its characters across time. The series’ exploration of decisions and sacrifices made by previous generations culminates in a finale that, while solid, might have benefited from a more condensed release schedule to keep the nuances of its sprawling story fresh in readers’ minds. The final issue makes a compelling case for the series’ thematic depth and narrative ambition, suggesting that the full impact of the story may be best appreciated in a collected format. Despite the challenges posed by its broad temporal and thematic scope, the series manages to deliver a satisfying conclusion, tying together the threads of its complex narrative with skill. The finale underscores the series’ strengths, from its rich character development to its thoughtful exploration of legacy and consequence. “The Space Between” stands as a testament to the power of storytelling that spans generations, offering readers a reflective and engaging journey through time.

THUNDERCATS #1

“Thundercats #1” launches with a burst of nostalgia and innovation, promising a fresh take on the beloved franchise. The issue sets a solid groundwork for an epic adventure, capturing the essence of the original series while introducing new elements to entice both longtime fans and newcomers. The anticipation of seeing lesser-highlighted characters step into the spotlight in future issues adds a layer of excitement, suggesting a more expansive exploration of the Thundercats universe. Although the artwork occasionally falters in conveying the emotional depth of the characters, particularly in quieter moments compared to the dynamic energy of battle scenes, these moments do not significantly detract from the overall experience. The promise of a grand adventure shines through, with the narrative laying the foundation for complex character development and thrilling plot twists. The initial installment hints at the untapped potential of the series, suggesting that subsequent issues will delve deeper into the lore and relationships that have captivated audiences for generations. Despite its minor shortcomings, “Thundercats #1” signals a vibrant revival of the franchise, blending action, mystery, and the enduring appeal of the Thundercats’ quest for justice and peace.

U & I #1

“U & I #1” marks a compelling return to the Resistance Universe by J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Choi, presenting a narrative that is both enigmatic and visually stunning. From the outset, the story immerses readers in a world teeming with mystery and intrigue, centered around the enigmatic figure known only as U. The issue masterfully withholds information about U’s past and motivations, instead opting to showcase his remarkable abilities in a way that captivates and sparks curiosity. This visual storytelling, complemented by Choi’s exceptional artistry, brings a unique and graphic depiction of regeneration, setting it apart from similar concepts in superhero lore. The narrative finds its balance by intertwining U’s story with that of Isabelle, whose journey, while more straightforward, is equally engaging. The juxtaposition of their stories, leading to their inevitable meeting, serves as a catalyst for the unfolding drama and sets the stage for a series brimming with potential. The intricate detailing of Choi’s artwork not only enhances the storytelling but also elevates the overall aesthetic of the comic, promising readers a series that is as visually engaging as it is narratively deep. The anticipation for “U & I #2” is palpable, with the first issue skillfully laying the groundwork for what promises to be a thrilling exploration of identity, power, and connection within the Resistance Universe. The fusion of Straczynski’s storytelling prowess and Choi’s artistic vision offers a mesmerizing entry point into a series that is sure to captivate and entertain.

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