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January 3 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 #141

This issue continues with Zur-En-Arrh, a character introduced in Zdarsky’s run, who is critiqued for being an underdeveloped gimmick. The plot involves Zur’s transformation into Failsafe and a battle with Batman, but the narrative feels repetitive and lacks novelty. Despite solid artwork, the story is seen as a repeat of previous themes without new lessons or developments. It’s described as a cycle of Batman being overmatched in battles, with a lack of fresh elements or successful reference integration.

BIRDS OF PREY #5

The “Megadeath” storyline in this issue is praised for its escalating tension and emotional depth, masterfully handled by Kelly Thompson. The comic maintains the team’s dynamic vibrancy without compromising the story’s intensity. Although Arist Deyn’s art style diverges from Leonardo Romero’s established aesthetic, it’s still considered appropriate and is enhanced by excellent coloring. This issue is highlighted as a standout in the Birds of Prey relaunch, showcasing its brilliance and creativity.

BLUE BEETLE #5

The creative team of Adrian Gutierrez, Will Quintana, and Lucas Gattoni is lauded for their continuous improvement in each issue. The comic captures attention from the start, with writer Josh Trujillo adding an unpredictable element to the storyline. The focus is on the Blood Scarab, whose design and portrayal amplify the sense of threat and intensity in battles. The narrative and visual execution combine to create a sense of epic confrontation, with dynamic shifts in styles and approaches. This issue is commended for maintaining momentum and setting up an exciting final battle, marking it as one of DC’s standout offerings.

FIRE & ICE: WELCOME TO SMALLVILLE #5

 This issue serves as a setup for the series finale, focusing on tying together various plot elements and introducing new information. While the plot is described as somewhat clunky and jumbled due to its ambitious scope, the character development, especially of Fire, is highlighted. Fire’s confrontation with her own vulnerabilities and tendencies is a key aspect, setting an interesting stage for the finale. The issue raises questions about how the series will conclude and the implications of its ending.

KNEEL BEFORE ZOD #1

The debut issue of “Kneel Before Zod” delves into the complex character of the titular villain, Zod. The comic is noted for its fitting brutality and the tragic elements surrounding its supporting cast. It sets up a storyline that hints at Zod’s descent into madness, suggesting significant repercussions for the larger DC Universe. The series is seen as having great potential, although the execution in the first issue is viewed as slightly lacking compared to the ambitious premise it establishes.

POISON IVY #18

This issue is particularly praised for its layered storytelling and character development. It continues the narrative of Poison Ivy’s fight against zombies, highlighting the consequences of her actions and her decision to seek help from Batman. A notable plot development is Poison Ivy’s creation of her own enemy, adding a personal and complex dimension to the story. The issue is well-received for its engaging narrative and beautiful execution, culminating in a cliffhanger that leaves readers eager for more. The character exploration and the personal challenges faced by Ivy are key elements that contribute to the issue’s success.

SHAZAM! #7

This issue marks a noticeable change with the departure of artist Dan Mora, focusing on a less exciting storyline about paperwork-obsessed dinosaurs from outer space. The inclusion of Black Adam fails to elevate the excitement, as his role is introduced in a mundane, expository manner. The comedic elements of the storyline don’t seem to add much depth, making the issue feel idea-deficient. Artist Goran Sudžuka’s work, including an impressive opening splash, is acknowledged, but the overall art, coupled with a limited color palette, fails to bring the vibrancy and depth of earlier issues. The mystical bank heists and space dinosaurs lack the richness of the series’ Silver Age tone, leading to a somewhat disappointing installment.

SUPERMAN '78: THE METAL CURTAIN #3

The Metal Curtain #3: This issue continues to explore the fallout from Superman’s encounter with Metallo but suffers from a lack of clear purpose. The portrayal of Metallo as a generic Soviet super soldier with a simplistic motive is seen as unnuanced. Superman’s response and the introduction of new characters seem to offer little beyond nods to comic readers. The pacing is criticized, with extended scenes in the bathroom or contemplative moments that don’t justify the space they occupy. The storytelling feels decompressed, with only a last-minute twist adding some interest, but it’s perceived as too little and too late to salvage the overall narrative.

TITANS: BEAST WORLD TOUR – ATLANTIS #1

This anthology issue explores various characters in the context of Atlantis, balancing its strengths and weaknesses. A standout story involves a group of heroes and villains assembled by Amanda Waller to confront Black Manta. The issue may be challenging for readers not familiar with Aquaman’s lore, but the individual stories are accessible. There are some narrative inconsistencies, particularly in the first and third stories, concerning character developments. While the ‘Beast World Tour’ might have benefited from fewer detours, it still contains some notable highlights. The issue’s mixed execution suggests that while not all elements work seamlessly, there are valuable aspects within the anthology.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #41

This issue continues from the cliffhanger of issue #40, focusing on two superhero battles without resolving either, leading to a repetition of the previous cliffhanger. The slow pacing is a concern, especially for a series published twice monthly. The saving grace of the issue is John Romita Jr.’s artwork, particularly his depiction of Kingpin and Typhoid Mary. Romita’s evolution as an artist is evident in the vivid and dynamic battle scenes, characterized by a reliable grid of panels that vividly convey the intensity of the fights. The issue also features some humorous elements, notably through Typhoid Mary’s portrayal in background scenes. However, the storyline, particularly the “Gang War” arc, is criticized for its sluggish progression, contrasting sharply with Romita’s dynamic art.

BEWARE THE PLANET OF THE APES #1

Set before the events of the original “Planet of the Apes” movie, this issue explores an encounter between a human and the characters Lucius, Zira, and Cornelius. The comic successfully mimics the tone and style of the franchise, blending ’60s and ’70s comic book aesthetics with a more contemporary approach. The dialogue is somewhat campy, and the color palette is brighter, yet it remains true to the characters as they were originally portrayed. Despite these strengths, the issue is criticized for lacking an engaging narrative hook comparable to those in the franchise’s films. The story’s start is deemed underwhelming, failing to provide a compelling reason for readers to return for subsequent issues. While the issue sets the stage for the adventure, it falls short of capturing the reader’s interest in a meaningful way.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #5

This issue reveals more about the series’ villain and the overarching plot, which is seen as coherent and understandable. However, the journey to this revelation is described as tedious. The core story isn’t considered bad, but the execution is seen as lacking, suggesting that there were many other potential ways to make the narrative more compelling. The critique indicates a sense of missed opportunity in storytelling, implying that the series did not explore more engaging and interesting narrative paths that could have enhanced its appeal. The review suggests a level of disappointment in the series’ direction and execution.

DOCTOR STRANGE #11

This issue marks a prequel to “Planet of the Apes,” focusing on an unexpected encounter between a human and the characters Lucius, Zira, and Cornelius. It successfully captures the essence of the original franchise, with a tone and visual style reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s comic adventures. The dialogue is somewhat campy, and the color palette is vibrant, yet the art remains contemporary. The character portrayals and interactions authentically reflect their original movie counterparts. However, the issue is criticized for lacking a compelling narrative hook that the franchise is known for. The story is seen as underwhelming, failing to provide a strong incentive for readers to return for future issues. While it sets the stage for the unfolding adventure, it doesn’t yet confirm its value for longstanding fans of the series.

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X #1

This issue attempts to find a conclusion to the Krakoan era of the X-Men. It was a challenging task given the era’s popularity, with many fans preferring it to be the X-Men’s permanent status. The story, however, opts for an uneven approach, quickly resolving a major conflict between Nimrod and Krakoa with a farcical tone. The fate of mutantkind hinges on a sudden moral awakening among their adversaries, a narrative choice that might not resonate well with readers. The issue is perceived as a clumsy attempt to return to the foundational elements of the X-Men, potentially testing the adage that “you can’t go home again” in a less than satisfactory manner.

FANTASTIC FOUR #15

This issue is a direct continuation of the storyline from Fantastic Four #14, dealing with the A.I. plot and its cliffhanger. It reveals that the absence of the Baxter Building is a direct consequence of the team’s actions, introducing new layers of complexity to the narrative. The issue is praised for its vibrant and quick-paced development, focusing on the team’s problem-solving abilities and non-violent approach to challenges. Emphasizing coexistence and creativity, the story presents its tragedy without resorting to brutality. The cost of retrieving the Baxter Building is conveyed in a moving and straightforward manner. This issue is highlighted as embodying the promise of the current Fantastic Four run and is recommended for fans of the series.

MARVEL MEOW #1

This comic capitalizes on the popularity of cats on the internet by featuring the feline companions of various Marvel universe characters, including unexpected heroes and villains like Sabretooth and Winter Soldier. The comic is a light-hearted exploration that doesn’t aim to revolutionize storytelling but succeeds in creating engaging, almost dialogue-free stories centered around cats. The approach of stepping outside the conventional framework (or “kitty” box) results in an enjoyable experience. While not groundbreaking, “Marvel Meow” is deemed a solid comic for fans who appreciate both the Marvel Universe and cats. It’s a fun, easygoing read that adds a unique twist to familiar characters through their feline friends.

MARVEL ZOMBIES: BLACK, WHITE & BLOOD #4

This issue stands out with two compelling short stories. The first features Blade, Rick Jones, and vampires in a creative setup that explores the survival of humanity. The second story delves into a philosophical dilemma faced by The Punisher as he confronts two possible solutions to end the zombie apocalypse, each challenging his identity and motivations. The narratives in this issue are particularly noteworthy for feeling like legitimate conclusions to the Marvel Zombies storyline, despite their ambiguous canonicity. The quality of these stories is highlighted as a testament to the creative success of this issue, offering fresh perspectives on the Marvel Zombies concept.

MIGUEL O'HARA: SPIDER-MAN 2099 #1

This new weekly series introduces readers to the 2099 version of Spider-Man, Miguel O’Hara, and his encounters with zombies in Nueva York. The issue effectively tells a self-contained story while laying the groundwork for future conflicts. It also introduces a new hero in the 2099 universe, teaming up Miguel with Blade. The artwork is praised for effectively capturing the terror and chaos of a zombie outbreak, adding to the immersive experience of the storyline. This issue is commended for its ability to balance individual narrative strength with broader series setup, offering a compelling start to the Spider-Man 2099 series.

STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #42

 In this issue, Darth Vader, having defeated the Scourge, pursues cyborgs working for the Rebel Alliance, intending to use mind control techniques learned from the Scourge to sway them to the Empire. An intriguing development occurs when an unexpected Imperial offers Vader a proposition that could significantly shift power dynamics in his favor. The issue is met with relief, marking the end of the “Dark Droids” storyline, which wasn’t notably well-received. While the issue itself doesn’t introduce groundbreaking developments, it hints at a promising new arc focusing on Vader’s machinations within the Sith Lord’s narrative. This glimpse into a potentially more engaging storyline has sparked interest, despite the acknowledgment that it won’t alter the course of the original trilogy. The anticipation is for a more compelling arc to unfold in subsequent issues.

STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC – SHADOWS OF STARLIGHT #4

This issue effectively utilizes its anthology format to update readers on the current state of the High Republic era, not just from the perspective of the Jedi but also focusing on the era’s primary antagonist. This approach is particularly satisfying for those who started their High Republic journey with “Light of the Jedi.” The narrative’s shift to the villain’s viewpoint provides a fresh and intriguing angle on the unfolding events, offering a comprehensive understanding of the era’s dynamics and conflicts.

THANOS #2

The Thanos series holds immense potential, yet this issue seems to fall short of expectations. A significant plot point involves Thanos lifting the city of Fresno into space and its subsequent return to Earth, but this dramatic event is treated with a surprising nonchalance by the new Illuminati. The handling of characters, including Thanos himself, is critiqued for not accurately capturing their voices. The artwork is also seen as insufficient in elevating the story. The narrative’s future depends on the unfolding of the Illuminati’s secrets and the revelation of Thanos’s connection to a character named Roberta. The hope for improvement hinges on these upcoming plot developments, suggesting that the series may yet redeem itself if these elements are effectively explored.

VENGEANCE OF THE MOON KNIGHT #1

This issue marks a new chapter in Marc Spector’s story, one that successfully continues without the direct presence of Moon Knight. Writer Jed MacKay is praised for his skillful development of the comic’s supporting cast, ensuring the series remains engaging despite Moon Knight’s absence. A character named Reese emerges as a pivotal figure, anchoring the story and shining in every dialogue. The artistic contributions of Alessandro Cappuccio and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg are highlighted, particularly in a vibrant encounter with Tigra. The overall quality of the comic is attributed to the exceptional work of the creative team, maintaining Moon Knight’s status as one of Marvel’s top comics.

VENOM #29

Al Ewing’s return to the Venom series is welcomed, as he steers the narrative back to its exciting cosmic roots. The issue is seen as gearing up for a rapid conclusion but maintains its entertaining essence with bold twists concerning Venom’s future. However, the artistic choice by series artist Cafu, using long vertical panels, is critiqued for affecting the readability of the story. Despite this, the overall artistry within the comic is recognized as well-executed.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #6

This issue is celebrated for its mix of classic barbaric violence and supernatural elements, creating a compelling and atmospheric narrative. The experience is likened to traversing the undead marshes with Frodo and Sam in “The Two Towers,” highlighting the eerie and immersive quality of the story. The combination of traditional Conan themes with a distinct supernatural twist is appreciated, providing a fresh and engaging take on the iconic character’s adventures. The issue succeeds in delivering an entertaining and visually striking experience that resonates with fans of both Conan and supernatural adventures.

DRIVE LIKE HELL #3

This issue provides crucial answers about the demon-possessed car and the origins of its contents, linking them to the realms of heaven and hell. The story is noted for its human element, particularly through the character Bobby Ray. Described as a simple man with a passion for car racing and a tendency towards excessive loyalty, Bobby Ray’s character development adds depth to the narrative. With only one issue remaining, there’s a sense of anticipation about how the series will conclude, especially considering the intriguing setup and character arcs established so far.

GIANT ROBOT HELLBOY #3

Mike Mignola’s mastery over the Hellboy universe is evident in this issue, which takes a unique and seemingly improbable storyline and integrates it seamlessly into the Hellboy mythology. The narrative is both enjoyable and significant within the larger context of Hellboy’s world. Artist Duncan Fegredo receives high praise for his work, particularly for his innovative approach to paneling that complements the story and adds a humorous visual element. “Giant Robot Hellboy” is highlighted as a must-read for both long-time Hellboy fans and newcomers, offering an exciting and creative experience within the beloved universe.

THE HUNGER AND THE DUSK #5

Wilson’s storytelling in this issue is commended for its ability to continuously introduce compelling new directions. The characters are portrayed in a way that allows them to explore different aspects of themselves, with their evolving paths and decisions feeling natural and unforced. The comic is praised for its deep understanding of the characters’ core identities, using this knowledge to weave a captivating narrative. “The Hunger and The Dusk” is described as consistently engaging, showcasing skillful character development and storytelling that maintains the reader’s interest throughout.

LOVE EVERLASTING #11

This issue marks a shift in the series, introducing a new protagonist while still centering around Joan in a Western romance setting. Like earlier issues, it offers a complete romance story with genre-specific twists and tropes, culminating in a metatextual twist towards the end. Elsa Charretier’s artwork is praised for effectively depicting both the violence of Western showdowns and the nuanced emotions of romantic scenes. The introduction of a leading man, who parallels a cowboy character from previous issues, opens up new narrative possibilities for the series. This development reinvigorates “Love Everlasting,” which had started to feel formulaic, generating excitement for the upcoming issue.

THE MIDNITE SHOW #4

This issue seems to rush towards its finale or possibly sets up for a sequel, resulting in a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion. The narrative quickly introduces three major twists, kills off most of the remaining cast, and stops short of revealing the villain, leaving readers on a cliffhanger. The concept of a killer film mixed with classic monster movies had been effectively executed in the first three issues, but the final installment appears to falter, not fully realizing the potential of its intriguing premise.

MORTAL TERROR #2

The comic continues to offer a unique twist on the Dracula story, introducing fresh ideas that invert the classic narrative. The creative team, including writers Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, receives acclaim for their innovative approach. Artist Peter Bergting is commended for his skillful scene staging and the expressive depth in his illustrations. Color artist Chris O’Halloran enhances Bergting’s artwork, effectively setting the mood for each scene and amplifying the visual style. This collaborative effort results in a compelling and visually striking continuation of the “Mortal Terror” series, successfully reimagining a familiar story with originality and artistic flair.

THE ODDLY PEDESTRIAN LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER CHAOS #6

This issue marks the series’ first climax, bringing together various characters and concepts in a compelling chapter. Isaac Goodhart’s layouts and designs are lauded for their excellent depiction of action sequences, enhanced by Miquel Muerto’s vibrant color work. The team of supernatural teenagers is noted for their improved dynamics, with their diverse personalities and abilities interacting in satisfying ways. The battle serves not only as an exciting sequence but also as a metaphorical representation of oppressed groups reacting to their challenges. This culmination of the first arc showcases the potential of “The Oddly Pedestrian Life of Christopher Chaos,” hinting at more engaging stories to come in the series.

ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD #11

Nick Dragotta’s arrival as the primary artist brings a distinct visual style to the comic, with detailed linework that vividly depicts a chaotic, post-apocalyptic world. This installment stands out as particularly engaging, effectively using the apocalyptic setting as a backdrop for the story. The contrasting art styles of Leila del Duca and Anexandre Tefenkgi in the flashback sequences add depth, emphasizing the nostalgia felt by the two main characters. While some narrative elements may seem heavy-handed, they effectively set the stage for the upcoming finale. With Dragotta’s artistic contribution and the groundwork laid in previous issues, the series appears poised to deliver an impactful conclusion.

PINE AND MERRIMAC #1

The debut issue of this detective story introduces intriguing questions about the path and discoveries awaiting the protagonists, Linnea and Parker. The character work is praised for its quality, and the vibrant, stylized artwork is noted for effectively presenting the characters and the detective narrative. The comic’s skillful blend of character development and visual storytelling generates anticipation for future installments. Readers are left eagerly awaiting the resolution of the current case and hoping for subsequent adventures, indicating a strong start to the series.

RANGER ACADEMY #4

This issue continues to effectively capture the essence of Power Rangers while also creating a unique story, with a strong focus on friendship. The relationships between the characters Sage, Lindy, and Theo are particularly highlighted for their authenticity and depth, making them engaging and relatable. Writer Maria Ingrid Mora receives praise for developing substantial character arcs before delving into more traditional Power Rangers elements. The art team, consisting of illustrator Jo Mi-Gyeong and colorist Fabiana Mascolo, is commended for their portrayal of the characters’ emotions and vulnerabilities, as well as their ability to leave readers eager for more with a compelling narrative hook. “Ranger Academy” is recognized as a highly anticipated monthly release, indicating its success in blending familiar Power Rangers themes with fresh storytelling.

SAVAGE RED SONJA #68

This issue marks a turning point for “Savage Red Sonja,” where the narrative begins to coalesce into something more captivating. Sonja’s latest adventure is noted for balancing traditional expectations with surprising elements. Writer Dan Panosiaan is credited with steering the story into unexpected territory after a somewhat predictable start. The artwork by Alessio Petillo, described as kitchy, adds a lively dimension to the comic, enhancing the experience. The issue’s conclusion has generated anticipation for future developments in the series, suggesting a positive direction for “Savage Red Sonja.”

THE SPACE BETWEEN #3

The comic’s structure is highlighted as a key factor in its exploration of societal themes and the human experience. It delves into the concept of shortsightedness and its consequences for future generations, offering a narrative that appears simple on the surface but encourages deeper reflection. The story’s ability to cover a broad range of topics while maintaining coherence and depth is noted as a strength. “The Space Between” is commended for its thought-provoking content and the way it invites readers to engage with its themes, indicating its effectiveness as both a narrative and a commentary on contemporary issues.

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