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MARCH 20 Comic Book 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 '89: ECHOES #2

In the captivating issue of Batman ’89: Echoes #2, readers delve deeper into Bruce Wayne’s covert operations, adopting the menacing persona of Firefly. Under the meticulous psychiatric evaluation of Dr. Jonathan Crane, Bruce’s intentions seem to revolve around unraveling the mysteries surrounding Dr. Hugo Strange. Amidst this intricate plot, the narrative subtly introduces the potential involvement of other iconic Batman adversaries, weaving a tapestry of intrigue and suspense. As Crane meticulously prepares his infamous Scarecrow costume, another familiar face, Harleen Quinzel, is seen embracing her alter ego with the application of her distinctive makeup. These moments serve not only as exciting nods to the characters’ origins but also hint at the impending convergence of villainy. However, these teases also convey a sense of anticipation, suggesting that the narrative is gradually building up to a more action-packed crescendo. The artistic duo, Joe Quinones and Leonardo Ito, elevate this seemingly less dynamic issue with their exceptional visual storytelling. Their ingenious integration of elements from Harley Quinn’s classic attire into Harleen’s professional wardrobe stands out as a highlight, showcasing their attention to detail and respect for the source material. This issue, marking the initial stages of the story, hints at needing more clarity regarding Bruce’s objectives concerning Strange. Nonetheless, the foundation laid out is intriguing enough to maintain fan interest, promising more depth as the narrative progresses.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN: WORLD'S FINEST #25

The twenty-fifth issue of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest diverges from its traditional focus on the iconic duo of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. Instead, it presents a special double-sized issue that explores the nefarious collaboration between their archenemies, the Joker and Lex Luthor. This issue offers a refreshing and entertaining recount of the villains’ first alliance, showcasing their unique chemistry and the fascinating dynamic it brings—a stark contrast to the camaraderie of Batman and Superman. The interaction between Lex and Joker is a central element, providing readers with a glimpse into the twisted synergy of Batman and Superman’s most formidable foes. While this issue may not reach the heights of the series’ previous achievements, it stands as a testament to the consistently high quality of the World’s Finest narrative. For aficionados of villain-centric stories, this installment is a must-read, capturing the Joker’s unparalleled menace and the complex relationships among the criminal underworld.

CATWOMAN #63

Catwoman #63 continues the thrilling “Nine Lives” storyline, introducing a concept that plunges Selina Kyle into a revealing and transformative adventure. Tini Howard’s script skillfully incorporates a mix of new ideas and obscure elements from DC’s vast history, shedding light on Selina’s profound connection with her past incarnations. The issue’s narrative might occasionally become entangled in its own ambition, but Carmine di Giandomenico’s artwork provides a dynamic and visually engaging experience that complements the story’s pace and complexity. The “Nine Lives” arc is shaping up to be a defining moment in this Catwoman series, distinguished by its innovative premise and insightful exploration of Selina’s character.

DC'S APE-RIL SPECIAL #1

DC’s Ape-ril Special #1 is a celebration of the simian side of the DC Universe, and it doesn’t shy away from its theme, proudly proclaiming “In this issue: Apes” right on the cover. For aficionados of DC’s primate characters, this issue is a treasure trove, offering three distinct stories that shine a spotlight on some of the universe’s most intriguing yet often overlooked characters. The anthology kicks off with “Plan of the Apes,” an enthralling tale set in the aftermath of Gorilla Grodd’s arrest. This story is not just a showcase of DC’s premier ape characters—Monsieur Mallah, Ultra-Humanite, Titano, Jackanapes, and Silverback—but also an intricate narrative that transitions from a battle for supremacy into a complex noir detective story. Detective Chimp, Monkey Prince, and others join the fray, making for a story that is as much about character as it is about action, all while maintaining a playful tone that’s aware of its own absurdity. Following this, “Detour” offers readers a more introspective look at Detective Chimp. The story marries the character’s quintessential detective work with a deeply human (or simian) story, exploring themes of existence, purpose, and the complexity of life itself, all through the lens of one of DC’s most cerebral characters. The final story, “A Call to Arms,” serves as a continuation and conclusion to Monkey Prince’s journey. This tale not only caps off the character’s latest adventures but does so in a way that feels both satisfying and significant, providing closure while also leaving the door open for future stories. The narrative’s tone, which perfectly blends action with a heartfelt narrative, acts as the cherry on top of this simian-themed anthology. Overall, DC’s Ape-ril Special #1 is a testament to the depth and diversity of storytelling within the DC Universe, celebrating its more unconventional heroes with flair, humor, and a touch of heart.

GREEN LANTERN: WAR JOURNAL #7

Green Lantern: War Journal #7 marks a pivotal moment for John Stewart, taking him and the narrative to new heights—literally to a galaxy far, far away. This issue delves into the personal, exploring the emotional impact of John’s absence on his mother and the “caregiver” he has left in his stead. The parallel stories crafted by Johnson and Montos effectively showcase the struggles on both a cosmic and personal level, weaving them together in a narrative that is both grand and intimate. The exploration of John Stewart’s mother’s battle with dementia is handled with sensitivity and depth, juxtaposing her internal struggle with the vast, external conflicts John faces as a Green Lantern. This dual narrative not only highlights the universal and personal aspects of heroism but also grounds the cosmic battles in relatable human experiences. As the series progresses, it becomes clear that War Journal is not just a space opera but a deeply human story that happens to unfold across the cosmos. The synchronization of its many moving parts into a cohesive whole speaks volumes of the creative team’s vision and execution, setting a new standard for what a Green Lantern comic can be.

JOHN CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER: DEAD IN AMERICA #3

Dead in America #3 takes John Constantine’s dark and mystical journey to the US-Mexico border, delving into the complexities of American myths and the nation’s identity crisis. Spurrier and Campbell craft a narrative that is both a critique and a celebration of American folklore, using the backdrop of the border to explore themes of division, identity, and the human condition. This issue stands out for its contemplative approach, eschewing easy answers for a more nuanced reflection on the characters’ realities and the landscapes they inhabit. The creative team’s ability to balance mythological grandeur with the vulnerability of individual lives is particularly noteworthy, offering a narrative that is both epic and profoundly personal. Campbell’s artwork, with its stunning spreads, captures the essence of the story’s thematic exploration, presenting a visual feast that complements Spurrier’s narrative ambition. The seamless integration of these elements with the ongoing saga of Constantine and his eclectic group of allies demonstrates a storytelling prowess that is as effective in examining the soul of a nation as it is in the streets of London.Dead in America #3 reaffirms the creative team’s status as not just commentators on contemporary issues but as masterful storytellers capable of weaving complex narratives that resonate on multiple levels. This issue is a testament to their skill in crafting stories that are relevant, thought-provoking, and deeply human.

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. GODZILLA VS. KONG #6

Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #6 marks a pivotal moment in this high-octane series, propelling the narrative forward with a mix of chaos, innovation, and unexpected alliances. Under Brian Buccellato’s masterful direction, the storyline veers into an explosive convergence of forces, as the Justice League and the titanic figures of Godzilla and Kong clash in a spectacle of unprecedented scale. This issue is a dream come true for fans of colossal battles, particularly those with a penchant for giant mechs, as the creative team of Christian Duce, Tom Derenick, and colorist Luis Guerrero unveil their pièce de résistance: a Green Lantern-inspired Megazord-style mech that stands as a testament to their imaginative prowess. The tension in this issue is palpable, with every page turn amplifying the stakes and underscoring the fragility of our heroes’ survival. Buccellato’s writing ensures that the reader is acutely aware of the high stakes at play, imbuing the narrative with a sense of urgency and unpredictability. The action is not just visually spectacular but emotionally resonant, highlighting the potential costs of this epic confrontation. As the series nears its climax, the anticipation for how these battles will resolve—and at what cost—keeps readers on the edge of their seats, eager to see if the momentum built in this issue will carry through to the finale.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #9

In Justice Society of America #9, the narrative delves into the complexities of dealing with the repercussions of Golden Age delinquents who have found their way to the modern era. The issue places a spotlight on the enigmatic Harlequin’s Son, a character who quickly transcends his seemingly superficial initial impression to become a focal point of intrigue and moral dilemma. The story navigates the low-stakes yet deeply personal challenge of saving a serial abuser, weaving a narrative that balances action with character-driven storytelling. The creative team utilizes montage layouts effectively, providing a rapid yet rich reminder of the diverse and vibrant cast of characters that have been introduced throughout the series. Despite some narrative ambiguities, this installment serves as a beautifully illustrated bridge in the ongoing saga, setting the stage for a clearer conflict trajectory. The conclusion of this issue tantalizingly sets up a potential turning point, promising a more defined direction for the series moving forward and sparking curiosity about the future challenges the Justice Society will face.

NIGHTWING #112

Nightwing #112 stands as a testament to the transformative power of storytelling within the superhero genre, showcasing Tom Taylor’s exceptional talent for character development and narrative depth. This issue sets itself apart by shifting the narrative perspective away from Dick Grayson, offering readers a unique external viewpoint on Nightwing’s impact and significance. This narrative choice not only enriches the character’s portrayal but also elevates the storytelling, presenting Nightwing through a lens that highlights his virtues, struggles, and the profound influence he has on those around him. Taylor’s nuanced writing pays homage to the legacy of Nightwing while pushing the character into new emotional and psychological territories. This issue is celebrated not just for its advancement of plot but for its deep character exploration, making it a standout in the series and a benchmark for superhero comics. Nightwing #112 is a compelling blend of action, heart, and introspection, solidifying its place as a pinnacle of the genre and a shining example of how to elevate familiar characters to new heights of complexity and relevance.

SUPERMAN #12

Superman #12 not only concludes the ambitious year-long arc that has redefined the Man of Steel’s world but also seamlessly transitions into an exciting new saga. Joshua Williamson, with this issue, skillfully ties up numerous narrative threads introduced throughout the preceding issues, delivering resolutions that are both satisfying and deeply resonant. The decision to invert the traditional roles of Superman and Lex Luthor not only showcases the growth and evolution of both characters but also serves as a testament to the thoughtful storytelling that has characterized this run. The artistic team, consisting of David Baldeon, Norm Rapmund, and colorist Rex Lokus, elevates the narrative with their exceptional work. The action scenes and critical character moments are depicted with a vividness and dynamism that engage the reader fully. Lokus’s color work, in particular, stands out for its brilliance, adding depth and emotion to each panel, while Ariana Maher’s lettering complements the visual storytelling with its clarity and style. Although the final confrontation may leave some readers wishing for more, the trade-off for a series rich in revelation and character development is well worth it. With this issue, Superman not only cements its place as a standout series but also promises even greater, more daring adventures ahead.

TITANS #9

Tom Taylor’s Titans #9 emerges as a series finding its distinct voice, building on the momentum of Taylor’s acclaimed Nightwing run. The collaboration between Taylor and artist Lucas Meyer strikes a perfect balance, combining a narrative that’s simultaneously light and profound with artwork that’s detailed and moody. This combination crafts an issue that’s engaging on multiple levels, demonstrating a mastery of comic book storytelling. Titans #9 excels in delivering a story that is as much about the interpersonal dynamics of its characters as it is about their heroic endeavors. Taylor’s knack for character development shines through, providing depth to the Titans that feels both authentic and compelling. Meyer’s art, with its darker tones and expressive lines, perfectly complements the tone of the story, making the action sequences pop with energy and urgency. Together, they create an issue that is not only visually stunning but also emotionally resonant, solidifying Titans as a must-read series for fans of these iconic characters.

WONDER WOMAN #7

Wonder Woman #7 represents a notable departure from the high expectations set by Tom King’s previous works. Attempting a lighter, more whimsical take on the character, this issue aims to channel the spirit of classic Superman stories like “For the Man Who Has Everything” but struggles to find its footing. The concept of a day out at the mall with two-thirds of the DC Trinity holds potential for both humor and heart. However, the execution falls short, lacking the depth and nuance necessary to elevate the premise beyond its initial appeal. The issue’s primary challenge lies in its characterization, which feels at odds with the established personas of these beloved characters. Without the strong character moments that often define King’s storytelling, the narrative feels somewhat adrift. While aiming for a fun and light-hearted tone is commendable, the lack of substance and clarity in the story’s direction suggests that a different approach might have better served these iconic characters. Wonder Woman #7, while an interesting experiment, underscores the difficulty of balancing whimsy with the complexity and richness that fans expect from a Wonder Woman story.

BLACK PANTHER #10

Black Panther #10 concludes a series that has been predominantly rooted in political intrigue and the exploration of T’Challa’s leadership and moral compass. The finale, however, diverges dramatically from these themes, venturing into a realm filled with space stations, demon possession, and the sudden introduction of mech suits. This abrupt pivot into a high-concept, science-fiction territory may seem disjointed given the series’ prior focus on more grounded narratives. Despite the ambitious scope of these elements, their introduction in the final issue leaves readers with a sense of whiplash, as if the story has taken a sudden detour into uncharted territory. The narrative’s swift wrap-up in the last few pages, while satisfying, cannot fully dispel the feeling of a rushed conclusion. It attempts to reconcile the expansive ideas introduced in this last issue with the series’ overall journey, aiming to leave readers with a positive resolution. Nonetheless, the transition from the series’ established themes to its final foray into cosmic and supernatural elements may leave some fans questioning the coherence of the story’s conclusion.

BLADE #9

Blade #9, the penultimate issue in the series, attempts to streamline the narrative and discard some of the less favorable aspects of the story in preparation for its climax. The issue is bifurcated into distinct halves: the first focusing on an interrogation scene that probes Blade’s moral ambiguities and the second setting the stage for the final showdown with Adana, dubbed “The Mother of Evil.” The interrogation segment, unfortunately, falls short of delving into the potential ethical dilemmas or the complex moral landscape that Blade navigates, opting instead for dialogue reminiscent of the quippy, surface-level banter found in MCU films. This choice misses an opportunity to explore Blade’s character in a more nuanced light or to engage with the thematic depth the series could offer. As the issue progresses to prepare for Blade’s confrontation with Adana, the narrative accelerates, rushing towards a conclusion without fully developing Adana’s menace or the strategic depth of Blade’s plan against her. Despite these narrative shortcomings, the issue does deliver on dynamic action sequences and hints at the potential for a return to form in the series’ finale. Fans of Blade will likely hold onto the hope that the final issue will capitalize on the series’ strengths and deliver a satisfying conclusion.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #6

Captain Marvel #6 marks a pivotal turn in the series, introducing elements that have been long-awaited by fans and significantly enriching the narrative. The focus on Carol Danvers’ burgeoning relationship with Yuna provides a solid foundation upon which the involvement of other characters from the Marvel family can be meaningfully integrated without detracting from the story’s core dynamics. The inclusion of characters like Lauri-Ell, Phyla-Vell, Hulkling, and Wiccan adds depth to the narrative, enhancing the sense of camaraderie and shared stakes without overshadowing the developing bond between Carol and Yuna. This careful balance ensures that the story remains focused while still acknowledging the rich tapestry of relationships that define Carol’s world. The Undone emerges as a formidable antagonist, with Ruairi Coleman’s art and Bryan Valenza’s color work effectively conveying the character’s menacing presence. Genis-Vell’s portrayal as a significant threat is another highlight, marking a departure from previous depictions and adding a layer of tension to the unfolding drama. As the series gears up for what promises to be an epic final confrontation, the narrative threads woven throughout the first six issues begin to converge, promising a climax that is both thrilling and emotionally resonant. Captain Marvel #6 succeeds in setting the stage for this showdown, skillfully balancing character development with the impending sense of conflict.

FANTASTIC FOUR #18

Fantastic Four #18 ambitiously pushes the boundaries of its own narrative, transforming the series’ premise through a series of bold, imaginative leaps. At the heart of this issue is the concept of family unity, as seen through the eyes of Franklin Richards. His vision for adventure brings the reader into a universe of high-stakes, science fiction drama that cleverly leverages the unique abilities of each team member. The storyline is a mix of heart, intellect, and spectacle, with the creative team successfully integrating real scientific concepts into the narrative to produce moments of awe and danger. However, the visual representation of these grand ideas slightly misses the mark. The narrative promises an overwhelming display of power, such as the impact of an asteroid strike, which the artwork struggles to fully capture. The illustrations follow a familiar superheroic template, complete with dynamic poses and explosive backdrops, but fail to convey the magnitude and terror described in the text. While the art is by no means subpar, its adherence to conventional superhero imagery doesn’t quite do justice to the ambitious scope of the story. Despite this, Fantastic Four #18 remains a testament to the series’ creative vision, offering an inventive and engaging exploration of the Fantastic Four’s world.

THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #16

The Invincible Iron Man #16 accelerates the narrative with a sequence of stunningly choreographed battles, marking it as one of the most exhilarating entries in the series thus far. The artistry of Lee’s line work complements Duggan’s sharp writing, which continues to unravel the complexities of Tony Stark’s character with remarkable insight. This issue showcases Duggan’s deep understanding of what makes Stark resonate so profoundly with readers, blending action with character-driven moments that highlight his vulnerabilities and strengths. The claim that this story arc might rank among the best Iron Man tales is supported by the synergy between its compelling narrative and the visual spectacle provided by the art team. Every page is a testament to the team’s ability to blend high-octane action with meaningful character development, setting a new standard for storytelling in the Iron Man canon. As the series progresses, it cements its place as a definitive exploration of Tony Stark’s legacy, deserving of recognition and discussion among the greatest Iron Man stories ever told.

SCARLET WITCH & QUICKSIILVER #2

In Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver #2, the narrative embarks on a journey that, while somewhat predictable, remains thoroughly engaging. The issue might grapple with a tendency towards overly elaborate dialogue, yet the core of Steve Orlando’s writing pierces through, presenting a compelling story that demands attention. Tammetta’s artistry, enriched by Frank William’s vibrant colors, brings the issue’s conflicts to life with a sense of enthusiasm and dynamism that is visually captivating. This installment is particularly significant for fans deeply invested in the lore of the Maximoff family, offering a blend of action and character exploration that hints at larger developments to come. Although the issue serves as a bridge to more significant events, it stands out for its ability to balance spectacle with the intricate dynamics of Wanda and Pietro’s relationship, making it a valuable addition to the overarching narrative.

SPIDER-BOY #5

Spider-Boy #5 continues to explore the intricate web of relationships and responsibilities that define the young hero’s world, with a keen focus on the challenges he faces from the adults in his life. Dan Slott’s storytelling adeptly captures the essence of Bailey’s struggle, a quintessential element of the Spider-Man legacy that involves overcoming adversity with resilience. This issue particularly highlights Peter Parker’s shortcomings as a mentor, reflecting a broader narrative about the complexities of mentorship and guardianship within the superhero community. The introduction of Madame Monstrosity and her Humanimals injects a vibrant dose of eccentricity into the storyline, with Paco Medina, Julian Shaw, Erick Arciniega, and Edgar Delgado’s artistic talents bringing these fantastical elements to life. Their work ensures that each character, no matter how whimsically designed, carries weight within the story, elevating the stakes to new heights. While the attempt to delve into the villain’s backstory might not hit the mark as intended, the narrative’s strength lies in its dynamic portrayal of heroism, mentorship, and the undying spirit to persevere, securing Spider-Boy’s place as a standout series.

SPIDER-WOMAN #5

Spider-Woman #5 shines a spotlight on Jessica Drew’s multifaceted character, further enriched by the appearances of Captain Marvel and Spider-Boy. Steve Foxe masterfully utilizes these guest stars not as mere cameos but as catalysts to explore deeper aspects of Jessica’s personality, particularly her nurturing side and her capacity for meaningful connections. The contrast between her interactions with Carol and Bailey serves to underscore Jessica’s versatility as a character—both as a friend capable of offering solace and as a mentor figure offering guidance. Carola Borelli and Arif Prianto’s artistic contributions breathe life into the narrative, capturing the subtleties of emotion in character interactions while delivering action sequences that are both vibrant and engaging. Despite the central villain’s lack of depth, the issue excels in its character-driven approach, highlighting Jessica Drew’s unique place within the Spider-Verse. The stark difference in mentorship styles between Jessica and Peter Parker is particularly notable, setting a high bar for character development and relational dynamics in superhero comics.

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #1

Web of Spider-Man #1 serves as a comprehensive overview of the current state and future prospects of the Spider-Man universe, skillfully avoiding the pitfalls typical of one-shot previews. The issue stands out due to the high quality of both its content and its contributors, with renowned artists such as John Romita Jr., Ed McGuinness, and Eric Gapstur providing a visual feast that complements the narrative diversity within. While some stories may succumb to the limitations of the preview format, the anthology overall succeeds in generating genuine excitement for what’s to come. The story featuring the “Spider-Society” may struggle to fully realize its ambitious concept within the constraints of the format, but the overall anthology benefits from a variety of engaging teasers and unexpected cameos. This careful curation of stories and artistic talents makes Web of Spider-Man #1 more than just a teaser—it’s a celebration of the Spider-Man line’s current vibrancy and a compelling invitation to explore its future adventures.

WOLVERINE: MADRIPOOR KNIGHTS #2

Wolverine: Madripoor Knights #2 dives deeper into the seedy underworld of Madripoor, further entangling Wolverine alongside allies Captain America and Black Widow in a complex web of gang warfare that controls the island. The narrative cleverly plays into the vibrant and somewhat exaggerated action characteristic of the 1980s, embracing a level of camp and spectacle that is both a nod to the era and a celebration of its storytelling styles. The adversaries they face, including a unique mix of ninjas, an energy vampire, and a physically imposing antagonist in formal attire, contribute to the high-octane and stylistically distinct confrontation that defines this issue. This installment thrives on its action-packed sequences and the dynamic interplay between its central trio, showcasing their skills and personalities against the backdrop of Madripoor’s criminal underbelly. While the plot revels in its retro charm, it also offers a standalone adventure that, despite its niche appeal, presents a fun and engaging excursion for longtime Marvel fans and those with a fondness for the comics of yesteryear. The issue balances nostalgia with fresh excitement, making it a compelling read for those who appreciate the thematic and visual cues of the era.

X-MEN: FOREVER #1

X-Men: Forever #1 emerges from the shadows of the “Fall of X” storyline, striving to maintain the momentum of its predecessor, Immortal X-Men, while navigating the expansive narrative demands of the current X-Men saga. The challenge lies in balancing the intricate character dynamics that have been a hallmark of the series with the broader strokes of the overarching meta-narrative that defines this era of X-Men comics. Kieron Gillen’s adept storytelling manages to inject memorable moments into this opening issue, despite the constraints imposed by the larger narrative framework. This issue marks a transitional phase for the X-Men, where the rich character work and intimate storytelling of Immortal X-Men meet the grand, universe-spanning ambitions of the “Fall of X.” While it occasionally grapples with these dual objectives, the essence of what made Gillen’s previous work resonate with fans remains intact. X-Men: Forever #1, therefore, serves as a bridge, offering depth and context to the ongoing saga while hinting at the potential for individual growth and exploration within this new narrative landscape. For fans who have followed the X-Men’s journey through the Krakoan era, this issue represents a continuation of that journey, promising further exploration of themes, characters, and conflicts that have defined this chapter of X-Men history.

BENEATH THE TREES WHERE NOBODY SEES #4

Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees #4 accelerates the narrative to its most intense and immersive point yet, as protagonist Sam confronts the menacing presence haunting the streets of Woodbrook. This issue stands out for its focused dive into Sam’s psyche, propelling the story with a mix of paranoia and urgency that grips the reader from start to finish. The storytelling is masterfully executed, utilizing a combination of tight panel layouts and strategic callbacks to earlier events to create a claustrophobic atmosphere that mirrors Sam’s escalating dread. The visual storytelling is particularly effective in conveying the tension and turmoil swirling around Sam, drawing readers into her world with a visceral sense of immediacy. This approach not only amplifies the suspense but also deepens the engagement with Sam’s character, presenting her not as a conventional hero but as a complex figure navigating a labyrinth of moral ambiguity and personal vendettas. As the issue builds toward its climax, the conflict between Sam and the rival killer takes on an almost cinematic quality, with the storytelling employing both visual and narrative techniques to keep the reader on edge. The culmination of these elements makes Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees #4 a standout issue, showcasing the series’ ability to blend character-driven drama with thrilling, edge-of-your-seat storytelling. With the stage set for an explosive finale, the series promises to deliver a conclusion that is both satisfying and haunting, cementing its place as a compelling and thought-provoking entry in the comics landscape.

COBRA COMMANDER #3

Cobra Commander #3 delves deep into the psyche and resilience of one of pop culture’s most iconic villains, presenting him in a light far removed from his cartoonish origins. The issue is a masterclass in tension and character development, showcasing Cobra Commander not just as a figure of evil, but as a master manipulator capable of turning dire situations to his advantage. The scene where he, while bound to a chair, slyly pits a group of hostile forces against each other, highlights his strategic genius and psychological warfare skills. This moment of cunning strategy is juxtaposed with the comic’s climax, where the horror is amplified by the creative choice to leave the worst to the reader’s imagination, making the impact all the more visceral. This issue marks a significant departure from the Cobra Commander that fans might be familiar with, offering a more nuanced and darkly fascinating take on the character. The story’s ability to oscillate between physical torture and psychological manipulation serves to enrich the character’s lore, presenting him as not only formidable in combat but also in intellect and willpower. As the series progresses, the anticipation builds on whether it can maintain this complex portrayal, pushing the boundaries of the character’s legacy while exploring new narrative depths.

DAWNRUNNER #1

Dawnrunner emerges as a titan in its own right, channeling the spirit of beloved mech-versus-monster epics while carving out a unique identity. Ram V and Evan Cagle synergize their talents to craft a narrative that’s both an homage and a trailblazer. The early parts of the issue immerse readers in a familiar yet thrilling world of colossal battles, setting the stage for what appears to be an adrenaline-fueled saga. However, it’s in the latter half where Dawnrunner distinguishes itself. The story unfolds layers of complexity and depth, veering into uncharted territories that promise more than just titanic clashes. This pivot not only surprises but also deeply enriches the narrative, suggesting that Dawnrunner is more than its surface-level spectacle. The debut issue lays a foundation that’s both exciting and intellectually engaging, indicating that readers are in for a narrative journey filled with innovation, emotion, and possibly, introspection.

THE DISPLACED #2

The Displaced #2 expands the horizons of its horror universe, elevating the narrative from its initial premise into a broader exploration of memory, existence, and the eerie concept of being erased from reality. Brisson and Casalanguida skillfully develop their story, moving beyond the physical manifestations of horror to delve into the psychological and existential dread faced by the survivors. The realization among the characters that their existence is fading from the memories of those in the real world adds a poignant layer to the horror, blending the fear of the unknown with the fear of non-existence. This issue marks a turning point, exploring the dual edges of their new reality—the “upsides” and “downsides” of becoming forgotten. It’s this nuanced approach to storytelling that sets The Displaced apart, promising readers not just scares, but a deep, thought-provoking examination of what it means to truly disappear. As the narrative pieces fall into place, the anticipation for what’s to come is palpable, with the creative team hinting at a rich, multi-layered story yet to unfold. The Displaced is shaping up to be a standout series, offering a fresh take on the horror genre while challenging its conventions and expectations.

THE HOLY ROLLER #5

The Holy Roller #5 continues the comic’s exploration of vigilantism against a backdrop of racism and bigotry, with Levi taking on racists in an over-the-top fashion. While the comic aims to deliver a form of wish fulfillment by having Levi confront and combat societal evils, the execution struggles with balance. The narrative swings wildly between serious commentary and almost farcical elements, blurring the line between satire and outright absurdity. This oscillation can detract from the story’s impact, leaving the reader questioning the intention behind certain choices. The caricature-like portrayal of both the protagonists and antagonists may simplify complex issues, reducing them to mere comic fodder, which could potentially undermine the gravity of the themes the series seeks to address. Moreover, the twist toward the end, intended as a revelation, may come across as predictable to readers, potentially diminishing the narrative’s effectiveness. Despite these challenges, The Holy Roller #5 attempts to navigate through difficult and contentious themes using humor and hyperbole. Whether this approach resonates with readers may vary, with some finding enjoyment in its exaggerated take on justice and others yearning for a more nuanced exploration of the issues at hand. As the series progresses, it remains to be seen if it can find a better balance between its more outlandish elements and the serious themes it aims to tackle.

IF YOU FIND THIS, I'M ALREADY DEAD #2

If You Find This, I’m Already Dead #2 delves deeper into the richly imagined universe first introduced in its debut, expanding the narrative scope and thematic exploration in surprising and engaging ways. This issue not only continues Robin’s journey but also enriches the storytelling by emphasizing the role of language and communication in understanding and navigating new worlds. The meticulous attention to linguistic details, complete with a unique alphabet and nuanced word balloons, enhances the reader’s immersion into the alien culture Robin encounters. This emphasis on language not only serves the plot but also underscores the narrative’s deeper themes, reflecting the complexities of communication, understanding, and connection. The juxtaposition of Robin’s narrative struggles with the visually striking splash panels effectively conveys the protagonist’s challenges and the alien world’s wonder. Dan McDaid’s artwork brings this expansive universe to life, drawing inspiration from the likes of Kirby and Moebius to create a setting that is both familiar and utterly alien. The visual storytelling, combined with the intricate worldbuilding, invites readers to lose themselves in the wonder of exploration and the promise of uncovering new truths in the issues to come.

THE INFERNALS #2

The Infernals #2 builds upon its premiere issue by further developing its darkly humorous and twisted world. As new characters are introduced and the Morgenstern siblings embark on a mission for their father, the comic begins to find its rhythm, weaving together episodic adventures with overarching narrative threads. This issue offers a more detailed look at characters like Nero and Jackal, adding depth to their personalities and relationships while maintaining the series’ hallmark irreverence. The artwork in The Infernals #2 is notable for its dynamic spreads and detailed depictions of the infernal setting and its inhabitants. However, some action sequences struggle to convey motion convincingly, occasionally detracting from the otherwise immersive experience. Despite these moments, the comic’s visual style contributes significantly to its unique atmosphere, blending horror and humor in equal measure. While the series is still searching for a charismatic lead among its cast of morally ambiguous characters, the dialogue and character interactions provide plenty of entertainment. The Infernals #2 succeeds in delivering a fun and engaging read, balancing its darker elements with a sense of playfulness and adventure. As the series continues to unfold, it promises more diabolical escapades and development, offering a unique take on the genre.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS #7

Kill Your Darlings #7 presents a complex mix of emotions and expectations, culminating in a moment that has been both anticipated and dreaded by its readership. The revelation of the ultimate villain, while meticulously hinted at throughout the series, confronts readers with a somewhat divisive twist: attributing the series of intricate, emotionally charged events to the actions of a witch. This choice, while aiming for shock and awe, risks oversimplifying the richly woven narrative tapestry that has defined the series, potentially undermining its depth and the emotional investment of its audience. Despite this, the issue’s redeeming qualities cannot be overlooked. The narrative continues to excel in other areas, with haunting visuals that captivate and a storyline that sets the stage for what promises to be a compelling finale. The strength of the writing, outside of the contentious reveal, maintains the series’ reputation for excellence. The issue stands as a testament to the creative team’s ability to navigate the fine line between supernatural elements and the emotional complexity that has endeared the series to its followers. As Kill Your Darlings inches closer to its conclusion, the anticipation for a resolution that balances the supernatural with the series’ thematic depth remains high.

MAN'S BEST #1

Man’s Best #1 serves as a captivating opening to a series that effortlessly combines the charm of animal companions with the intrigue of science fiction. The issue introduces a cast of critter characters that burst onto the scene with vibrant personalities and distinct appearances, instantly endearing themselves to readers. These characters are not just animals; they are fully realized beings with their own quirks and traits, reflecting the depth and diversity we cherish in our pets. Set against the backdrop of a futuristic and mysterious planet, the story unfolds with a sense of adventure and discovery, rendered in Jesse Lonergan’s distinctive artistic style. The narrative’s premise, centering on a journey to rescue their human companions, is as heartwarming as it is exciting, striking a chord with anyone who shares a bond with a pet. The setup promises a series filled with exploration, both of the external universe and the internal dynamics of its unique cast. With expectations set high, the collaborative prowess of Pichetshote and Lonergan shines, promising a series that not only meets but exceeds those expectations. Man’s Best #1 is a promising start to a series that has the potential to weave together the best elements of animal companionship and sci-fi adventure into a memorable and impactful narrative.

MIDLIFE (OR HOW TO HERO AT FIFTY!) #6

Midlife concludes its run with an issue that encapsulates the series’ journey—interweaving moments of introspection, discovery, and emotional resonance. The protagonist, Ruben, faces the culmination of his journey of self-discovery, uncovering the origins of his powers in a narrative arc that, while intriguing, might have benefited from further exploration to fully realize its potential. However, it is his poignant encounter with his deceased father that stands as a highlight, offering a deeply emotional connection that resonates with the theme of personal growth and reconciliation. The series flirts with the idea of Ruben’s return to heroics, a nod to the potential for further adventures that also serves as a satisfying conclusion to his current arc. Despite its ambitions, Midlife grapples with distinguishing itself within a crowded genre. The series seeks a unique spark—a defining element that elevates it above the conventional superhero narrative. While it occasionally struggles to find this differentiation, Midlife’s exploration of heroism through the lens of age and experience provides a narrative worth engaging with, reflecting on the universal themes of identity, legacy, and the ongoing quest for meaning in the face of life’s transitions.

ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD #13

Once Upon a Time at the End of the World #13 captivates with Nick Dragotta’s visceral portrayal of the apocalypse, where even the grim fate of a rat becomes a mesmerizing spectacle. This issue propels the narrative towards its climax, leveraging the stark and unforgiving landscape of the end times as a backdrop for the unfolding drama between Maceo and Mezzy. Their relationship, teetering on the edge of a pivotal question, becomes the emotional core around which the story revolves. The issue is characterized by its blunt approach to storytelling, where symmetry is drawn through losses rather than subtleties, painting a picture of stark reality in the face of apocalypse. Dragotta’s artistry shines in the action sequences and the depiction of the desolate journey across a wasteland, rendered in haunting shades of red and imbued with painstaking detail. The aesthetic choice to embrace the harshness of this world head-on makes for a compelling read, especially for those drawn to narratives that do not shy away from the darker aspects of their settings. The lack of subtlety in the storytelling is counterbalanced by the depth of the visual narrative, offering a raw and unfiltered look at survival and connection amidst desolation. As Maceo and Mezzy navigate the challenges of their environment, their journey becomes a testament to the endurance of the human spirit and the complex dynamics of relationships forged in extreme circumstances.

U & I #2

U & I #2, under the combined talents of J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Choi, delves deeper into the enigmatic bond between its protagonists, U and Isabelle, with a narrative richness that matches Choi’s captivating artwork. The comic intricately weaves their perspectives, both metaphorically and literally, into a narrative that is as much about their internal worlds as it is about their external adventures. The art seamlessly transitions between their differing views, holding the reader’s attention with a blend of elegance and urgency. The storytelling in this issue is multifaceted, layering mystery upon mystery regarding the nature of U and Isabelle’s connection and their disparate perceptions of reality. Straczynski’s script is adept at building intrigue, drawing readers into the depths of the characters’ relationship and setting the stage for revelations to come. The inclusion of a vividly executed fight scene not only accelerates the narrative but also adds a visceral dimension to the exploration of U and Isabelle’s characters. U & I #2 stands out for its ability to balance action with introspective moments, creating a multifaceted exploration of identity, perception, and the complexity of human connections. The mysteries surrounding the protagonists invite the audience to engage deeply with the story, offering the promise of rewarding answers and further developments. The issue is a testament to the creative synergy between Straczynski and Choi, promising an unfolding series that is as thought-provoking as it is visually stunning.

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