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MAY 29 2024 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: DARK AGE #3

Batman: Dark Age moves into the 1970s and shows Batman facing off against a very different kind of threat – the systematic decline of a city by its ruling class. Honestly, I loved that Batman’s nightly patrols and run-ins with the False Face Society were doing nothing to improve Gotham’s situation, as Batman realized that there were bigger and more sinister forces at play than simple gang violence. This series effectively highlights the futility Batman feels as he contends with the deeply ingrained corruption and social decay, which reflect the real-world urban struggles of the 1970s and 1980s. The narrative draws a parallel to the impact of various social policies and laws on urban living during those decades, many of which had horrifically harmful effects on cities that weren’t studied and acknowledged until years later. This nuanced approach to storytelling adds a layer of realism and historical context, making Batman’s mission more complex and thought-provoking. This has become a very weird but interesting series, and I’m curious to see how it plays out as it moves into the second half of its story.

BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #13

The latest grab bag of The Brave and The Bold proves to largely be full of positives, from Mark Russell and Jon Mikel’s delightfully zany Booster Gold and Jurassic League crossover, to Delilah S. Dawson and Serg Acuna’s emotional and cathartic finale to their Artemis tale. Russell and Mikel’s story is a breath of fresh air, combining humor and unexpected team-ups that bring a lighthearted touch to the series. Dawson and Acuna’s conclusion to the Artemis storyline is equally impressive, providing a satisfying and emotional closure that resonates with readers. The only weak spot can be found within the first chapter of Nightwing and Deadman’s team-up story, as Kelley Jones’ exaggerated aesthetic is taken to some concerning proportions. Jones’ artwork, while distinct, sometimes detracts from the narrative with its over-the-top style. However, despite this minor hiccup, this chapter of The Brave and The Bold largely delivers an engaging and diverse set of stories that showcase the versatility and depth of DC’s characters.

DC PRIDE 2024 #1

In its fourth year, the grand experiment of DC Pride is proving to be a reliably wonderful success. Through its various premises and lovely rapport, DC Pride 2024 champions the publisher’s LGBTQ+ characters and creators, and the impact they have upon readers. Each story within this anthology celebrates queer identity and experiences, ranging from the lofty ambitions of queer storytelling to intimate character dramas. Whether it’s a superhero narrative that redefines bravery and strength or a heartfelt tale that explores personal struggles and triumphs, every chapter within DC Pride 2024 provides something validating, inspiring, or simply entertaining. The anthology continues to be a testament to the importance of representation in comics, offering readers both reflection and escapism through its diverse and inclusive storytelling.

DETECTIVE COMICS #1085

Detective Comics #1085 showcases a darker and more focused Batman, highlighting his brutal fight against the Orghams, which is now fully underway. Batman takes decisive steps to counter their supernatural powers, reflecting a more strategic and relentless approach. This issue marks the beginning of a more triumphant Batman, though he appears more unhinged and willing to compromise with his foes than ever before. This shift in Batman’s character adds a layer of complexity and unpredictability to the narrative. The inclusion of several unaccounted-for wild cards, like the Joker, keeps readers on edge, anticipating how these elements will influence the arc’s conclusion. The intricate plot and the deepening psychological portrayal of Batman make this a gripping installment in the series.

THE FLASH #9

The Flash #9 finally resolves some of the series’ longest-running mysteries as the rogue-infused conspiracy haunting every speedster expands. This issue allows readers to revel in key revelations as Barry finds Iris and Linda in the park for a sequence filled with humor, action, and the bonds of familial love that underpin this series. The narrative makes clear that the mysteries and strangeness pervading its pages are connected to well-planned climaxes, with each answer landing effectively. Despite the greater conspiracy remaining mysterious, there’s a willingness to play with major Flash figures, showcased in outstanding spreads featuring a “Crown of Thawnes.” Not every character is a revelation unto themselves, but they fit within a sprawling superhero canon and play specific roles that enhance the story. Artists Ramon Pérez and Vasco Georgiev collaborate effectively, with action sequences capturing both the speed and stillness surrounding these events. However, a handful of close-up panels on character faces land with flat expressions and overly broad linework. The Flash #9 is an exciting issue that satisfies readers who have been pondering the series’ mysteries since issue #1, while providing plenty of suspense for the adventure to come.

GREEN ARROW #12

Green Arrow #12 finally gives Oliver Queen a well-deserved happy ending with his family. The Merlyn threat is wrapped up nicely, providing a satisfying conclusion to this arc. Before bracing for the “Absolute Power” event, Team Arrow returns to where it all started for Oliver Queen, bringing a sense of closure and nostalgia. The narrative focuses on family and the roots of Oliver’s journey, delivering an emotionally resonant and fulfilling experience for long-time fans. This issue stands out as a heartwarming and hopeful chapter in Green Arrow’s saga, balancing action with personal growth and reflection.

HARLEY QUINN #40

Sometimes, Harley Quinn works best when you dial down the wackiness and just let Harley exist as a three-dimensional character rather than the punchline of a joke; Harley Quinn #40 is an excellent example of that. The issue is light on Harley’s usual frantic nonsense and instead leans into the more serious aspects of her nature: her desire to be better, her genuine care for her students, her overall reformation. This approach provides a refreshing depth to her character, allowing readers to connect with her on a more personal level. The narrative explores Harley’s struggles with her past and her efforts to carve out a new path for herself, making her more relatable and human. As a result, while this issue is largely setup, it’s setup that feels substantive and engaging both in terms of character development and plot progression. Artistically, the issue maintains a lighthearted tone even when the story takes a couple of more serious turns, creating a sense of balance that really works. The artwork complements the narrative beautifully, with expressive character designs and dynamic scenes that enhance the storytelling. Harley Quinn has really started to find its footing, and this issue feels like things are on stable ground, promising an exciting direction for future issues.

THE PENGUIN #10

The Penguin #10 sets the stage for the upcoming series finale as the many figures in this ensemble all converge in Gotham City in a battle for the city’s secret criminal empire. The plotting of this conspiracy is outstanding, with each minor figure, as well as Batman and the Penguin, playing a distinct role. The intricate web of alliances and betrayals keeps readers on their toes, adding layers of intrigue to the story. However, the storytelling of The Penguin #10, as it shifts to a new narrative perspective every couple of pages, makes for a fractured reading experience. Readers are left to connect dots without ever having sufficient time to engage with characters and other (more interesting) elements. This disjointed approach can be jarring, making it challenging to fully immerse in the narrative. A final sit-down between Oswald and Addison provides some pathos but seems rushed amidst the rest of the issue, with much of the potential subtext converted into text as both Oswald and Addison narrate their own perspectives. This can come across as heavy-handed, detracting from the emotional impact. However, Rafael de Latorre’s depiction of this Gotham City gang war is beyond reproach, with visceral depictions of violence and far worse implied against the city’s gray, uncaring skies. His artwork vividly captures the brutality and chaos of the unfolding events, adding a gritty realism to the story. Even if readers find themselves uninvested in the characters involved, there’s still a thrill to be found in watching the Cobblepots’ titanic criminal infrastructure begin to collapse, setting the stage for an explosive finale.

POWER GIRL #9

Power Girl and Crash make up one heck of a one-two punch. Their dynamic chemistry and complementary abilities provide an exciting and fresh take on superhero partnerships. I certainly hope this run will continue to put them in the spotlight together as the story progresses because there’s quite a lot of potential. Their interactions are filled with witty banter and mutual respect, making them a joy to watch in action. So much of this story, though, hinges on whatever is being planned with Brainiac, and that remains up in the air. The looming threat of Brainiac adds a layer of suspense and anticipation, leaving readers eager to see how this plotline will unfold. The issue teases several intriguing developments, suggesting that Power Girl and Crash will face significant challenges ahead. The artwork complements the narrative with vibrant colors and dynamic action sequences, capturing the intensity and energy of their battles. While the current issue primarily serves to build tension and set up future events, it does so effectively, leaving readers excited for what’s to come.

AVENGERS: TWILIGHT #6

Avengers: Twilight #6 culminates in an intense and action-packed showdown between the Avengers, the Red Skull, and the Red Skull’s secret weapon – the Hulk. The climactic battle is visually stunning, with dynamic fight sequences and high stakes that keep readers on the edge of their seats. For the most part, the comic ends with a pretty standard passing of the torch, with the Avengers assembling to confront one of their greatest adversaries. This battle leads to several unfortunate casualties, underscoring the high cost of heroism. The story then transitions to leaving the future in the hands of the next generation, symbolizing hope and renewal. A final twist in the narrative adds a poignant layer to the story, emphasizing the heroism displayed throughout the issue. This twist, which I won’t spoil, ties together the themes of sacrifice and courage, making the conclusion both satisfying and thought-provoking. However, I felt that the comic’s core premise of the United States’ slow descent into fascism got swept under the rug a bit too cleanly, without enough consequences or exploration of its deeper implications. This aspect could have provided more weight and relevance to the story, enriching its thematic depth. Despite this, Avengers: Twilight #6 remains a fun and engaging Avengers story. While it could have benefitted from a few more issues to fully flesh out its themes and characters, it successfully captures the spirit of the Avengers – their camaraderie, resilience, and unwavering commitment to justice. The artwork and pacing contribute to an exciting and memorable finale, making it a worthy addition to the Avengers’ legacy.

BLACK PANTHER: BLOOD HUNT #1

Black Panther: Blood Hunt #1 offers a fascinating and unique take on T’Challa’s character as he navigates his existence as a vampire. His internal dialogue is riveting, providing insight into his constant struggle against his vampiric urges. This battle is portrayed as both noble and tragic, highlighting T’Challa’s enduring strength and integrity even in the face of darkness. The narrative delves into his psychological and emotional turmoil, making his journey compelling and multi-dimensional. The unexpected confrontation between T’Challa and Bast adds a surprising and intriguing twist to the story. This battle with the Panther Goddess introduces a fresh and mythological element, expanding the scope of T’Challa’s challenges and emphasizing the spiritual and cultural dimensions of his character. The issue effectively balances action with introspection, offering a rich and layered reading experience. The artwork in Blood Hunt #1 is atmospheric and evocative, capturing the gothic tone of T’Challa’s vampiric transformation and the intensity of his internal and external battles. This new direction for Black Panther promises an exciting and emotionally resonant storyline, blending superhero action with supernatural horror.

EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #4

Edge of Spider-Verse #4 finally brings the comic book debut of Issa Rae’s Spider-Woman from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Her story is engaging and fun, showcasing her unique abilities and personality as she faces off against a multiverse version of an Avenger. The narrative is filled with action and humor, capturing the spirit of the Spider-Verse and adding a fresh perspective to the expanding spider-hero roster. One anticipated aspect was the reveal of the father of her baby, which remains a mystery. This tease leaves readers curious and eager for future developments, potentially setting up a significant storyline for the character. It seems likely that Sony Pictures Animation might save this revelation for a cinematic moment, adding to the suspense. The additional stories featuring Spider-Rex and Weapon VIII help to flesh out the remainder of the issue, providing a variety of entertaining and inventive spider-themed adventures. Each story brings its own flavor and creativity, contributing to the rich tapestry of the Spider-Verse. As the final issue in this edition of Edge of Spider-Verse, it successfully sets up the future direction for the series, pointing towards the next big storyline in Spider-Society. This issue, with its blend of new characters and intriguing plots, leaves readers excited for what comes next in the Spider-Verse saga.

HELLVERINE #1

Hellverine #1 gets a strong recommendation from me, even if you haven’t been keeping up with either Wolverine or Ghost Rider. Benjamin Percy has shown his knack for crafting compelling stories since his days writing Marvel’s audio dramas, and this issue is no exception. The storyline is engaging and blends the gritty world of Wolverine with the supernatural elements of Ghost Rider seamlessly. The artwork revels in the ridiculous nature of it all, with vivid and dynamic panels that bring the fiery, hellish landscapes and brutal combat scenes to life. The visual storytelling complements Percy’s narrative perfectly, capturing the intensity and dark humor of the plot. Hellverine #1 is an exciting, visually stunning start to what promises to be a thrilling series, making it accessible and enjoyable for both new readers and long-time fans of the characters.

JACKPOT AND BLACK CAT #3

Obscura’s true identity has been revealed, causing Felicia Hardy (Black Cat) and Mary Jane Watson (MJ) to be at odds as the limited series continues. This revelation adds a layer of tension and complexity to their partnership, challenging their trust and cooperation. There are still more than a few issues that the latest “Dynamic Duo” is suffering from as the comic progresses, mostly concerning MJ’s adeptness at being a superhero and the creative team’s reluctance to fully explore her power set. MJ’s struggle to find her footing in the superhero world is portrayed realistically, adding depth to her character. Felicia is clearly being given a parallel to her relationship with Peter Parker, though the script has been flipped, offering a fresh take on familiar dynamics. This relationship is an example of a story beat that will only be as effective as its finale, leaving readers eager to see how it resolves. The inclusion of some old Spidey villains making their return in issue three adds a nostalgic and entertaining element to the story. However, for the series to truly stick the landing when it wraps, it needs to address some of its weaknesses, particularly in character development and pacing.

MIDNIGHT SONS: BLOOD HUNT #1

More of an introduction to the team and characters than a hit-the-ground-running story, Midnight Sons: Blood Hunt #1 is a fun new chapter in the larger Marvel crossover. Writer Bryan Hill does well with introducing characters in a very new-reader-friendly way while ensuring those keeping up with this corner of the Marvel universe don’t feel pandered to. The narrative sets the stage for future conflicts and team dynamics, providing a solid foundation for the series. The real sell for the book is the art by Germán Peralta and colors by Arthur Hesli, which evoke a specific kind of horror movie mood. The artwork builds the world out in a colorful way before soaking it in blood and fire, creating a visually striking and atmospheric reading experience. The combination of detailed character designs and vibrant, haunting landscapes enhances the dark, supernatural tone of the story. Midnight Sons: Blood Hunt #1 balances action, character introductions, and world-building effectively, making it an exciting and visually compelling entry into the Marvel crossover event.

NIGHT THRASHER #4

To say that Dwayne’s decisions and overall approach left a lot to be desired in previous issues would be an understatement, though the potential was there to really bring things home in Night Thrasher #4. Thankfully, that turned out to be the case, as J. Holtham brings the heated conflict to a satisfying conclusion that also sets a promising new status quo for Dwayne, his alter-ego, and the neighborhood itself. The narrative resolution feels earned, tying up loose ends while opening new avenues for future storytelling. Holtham deftly balances the high stakes with personal growth, showing Dwayne’s evolution as both a hero and a community leader. While the stakes are high, there’s also plenty of room for some stylish action, which Nelson Daniel, Matt Milla, and Travis Lanham knock out of the park. The fight scenes are dynamic and thrilling, showcasing Night Thrasher’s combat prowess and the advanced technology he employs. The visual storytelling is sharp, with crisp, clean lines and vibrant colors that make each panel pop. Night Thrasher is as effective in combat as ever, but the costume and all the new tech pairs brilliantly with his ruthless efficiency, making for one of the slickest versions of Night Thrasher to date. The issue also explores the impact of Dwayne’s actions on his community, adding depth to his character and highlighting the broader implications of his heroics. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see Night Thrasher back in action, as this series has proven that there’s plenty left in the tank. The blend of action, character development, and community focus makes Night Thrasher #4 a standout issue, leaving readers eager for more.

RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #5

Sound meets fury in Rise of the Powers of X #5, signifying nothing except the end of one Marvel Comics brand soon to be replaced by another. The final showdown between Enigma, Jean Grey, and Professor Xavier pays off the various plot threads introduced primarily since “Sins of Sinister” and reformulated in “Fall of Krakoa” efficiently enough; characters are placed neatly into a new status quo and the old threats are tucked away. These climactic conflicts are split between the Phoenix and Enigma’s battle across space-time and a final conversation between Xavier and Moira framed to reflect Powers of X. The spectacle of these confrontations is familiar Marvel Comics fare, with explosive action sequences and dramatic confrontations. Jean Grey’s presentation as an impossibly powerful force of the universe is visually impressive, though it suffers from being shaped by an impossibly randy male gaze. The artwork is detailed and vibrant, capturing the cosmic scale of the battles and the emotional intensity of the characters. The final few pages seem to forget where this story came from or what it was about, as Xavier is led away by undefined masked soldiers and Moira’s fate is left too ambiguous to make much of a statement. The conclusion feels rushed and disjointed, failing to fully address the themes evoked so powerfully in Powers of X and House of X. Instead of offering a satisfying resolution, it feels like a setup for more X-Men comics, which may leave readers feeling unfulfilled. Having invested so much reading time in an era of X-comics that ultimately led nowhere with nothing much to say, I can’t say that’s an alluring proposition anymore. Despite the high stakes and dramatic confrontations, Rise of the Powers of X #5 struggles to deliver a coherent and impactful conclusion, making it a disappointing end to an otherwise promising series.

SCARLET WITCH & QUICKSILVER #4

With this issue, Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver’s first team-up miniseries draws to a close, and it proves to be an effort that’s clever but not groundbreaking. Steve Orlando’s script succeeds much more in the complex and lovely family dynamics, as opposed to in the conflict with the Wizard. The narrative excels in exploring the intricate relationship between Wanda and Pietro, highlighting their shared history, mutual support, and occasional tensions. Their interactions are heartfelt and authentic, adding emotional depth to the story. Lorenzo Tammetta’s art perfectly fits whatever the series needs to deliver, offering an equal measure of emotional character shots and high-octane action. The visuals are vibrant and expressive, capturing the characters’ personalities and the dynamic energy of their powers. The action sequences are fluid and exciting, while the quieter moments are rendered with sensitivity and detail. While it might not have been worth pausing the momentum of Marvel’s already-great Scarlet Witch solo series, this finale proves that the Maximoff siblings’ adventures have their charms. The issue wraps up the storyline neatly, providing a satisfying conclusion while leaving room for future explorations of their relationship. Overall, Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver #4 is a solid and enjoyable read, showcasing the unique bond between Wanda and Pietro and setting the stage for potential future team-ups.

SPIDER-BOY #7

Bailey’s heroic journey hasn’t been an easy one, and at times his mentors and friends haven’t made that journey any less challenging. Toss in being captured by Madame Monstrosity, and it’s easy to see that Bailey truly needed a win, and thankfully Spider-Boy #7 delivers that in spades. The issue culminates in an action-packed showdown that is as epic as you’d expect, thanks to the brilliant work of Paco Medina, Erick Arciniega, Joe Caramagna, and Cory Petit. Their combined efforts create visually stunning and dynamic fight scenes that bring the high stakes of the confrontation to life. However, it’s the investment in Bailey as a character from Dan Slott that allows the issue to soar. Slott showcases the profound effect Bailey has had on others during his relatively short time back, weaving in moments that highlight his growth and the relationships he’s built. Seeing those who rush to help Bailey and stand alongside him is a true moment of triumph, visually represented through powerful and emotive panels. This support system underscores the theme of camaraderie and the impact of a hero on their community. Spider-Boy #7 closes this first chapter on a high note, tying up the immediate plot threads while leaving the door open for future adventures. The character development and action blend seamlessly, making for a satisfying conclusion that promises an even brighter future for Bailey. This issue exemplifies how a well-crafted narrative, combined with exceptional artistry, can elevate a superhero story to new heights.

SPIDER-PUNK: ARMS RACE #4

After this second miniseries spent the vast majority of its real estate laying the groundwork for this final battle, at least the end result was largely clever and entertaining. Cody Ziglar’s script doesn’t go too far below the surface with its cast of characters, but there are enough fun and hilarious flourishes to make the ride worthwhile. Ziglar captures the rebellious spirit and punk rock ethos that define Spider-Punk, infusing the dialogue with wit and a touch of irreverence that keeps the tone light and engaging. Justin Mason’s art rises to the challenge, bringing the chaotic energy of Spider-Punk’s world to life. The vibrant and gritty aesthetic suits the story perfectly, though a handful of action sequences get slightly muddied in their execution. Despite this minor issue, Mason’s artwork effectively conveys the intensity and frenetic pace of the battles, immersing readers in the high-octane clashes. For fans of Spider-Punk who have been following this chapter of Hobie’s story, the conclusion is likely to be satisfying. The series wraps up with a sense of closure while maintaining the anarchic charm that has defined it. The creative team’s ability to balance humor, action, and the distinctive punk rock style ensures that Spider-Punk: Arms Race #4 is a fitting and enjoyable finale.

STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL – BLACK, WHITE & RED #2

On a colony known as Moonbender, which consists of former mercenaries and soldiers of fortune who have no home left to return to, Darth Maul embarks on an unexplained mission to infiltrate the colony and destroy anything in his way. Given his power as a Sith, Maul makes quick work of many figures standing in his way, showcasing his lethal combat skills and strategic mind. The narrative keeps readers guessing until the final pages about the true motivation behind Maul’s mission, adding an element of suspense and intrigue. This story doesn’t offer any new insight on Maul so much as it offers an opportunity to depict just how deadly he can be in a number of ways. Much like Vader, Maul isn’t merely a threat due to his brute force and ruthlessness but also his resiliency and quick thinking. The comic emphasizes Maul’s physical prowess, highlighting his ability to adapt and overcome various challenges with brutal efficiency. For fans of Maul who are more interested in his physical prowess than his complicated psyche, there is a lot to enjoy about this book. The action sequences are intense and well-executed, capturing the ferocity and precision of Maul’s combat style. The issue’s final reveal also highlights just how nefarious the Emperor is and what he’s willing to sacrifice just to prove a point, adding a layer of dark political maneuvering to the narrative. Even if it’s not especially violent, it’s another thrilling standalone story for this Black, White & Red storyline. The stark black and white art, punctuated with red highlights, creates a striking visual style that enhances the story’s dark and ominous tone. Overall, this issue offers a compelling glimpse into Darth Maul’s deadly capabilities and the ruthless nature of the Sith.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #5

It’s frankly not fair to the rest of the comic book world that Ultimate Spider-Man is this good. Writer Jonathan Hickman not only reveals that he can successfully navigate remixing decades of Marvel lore but also weave his own compelling narrative, which is just a few issues deep at this point. Hickman’s ability to intertwine classic elements with fresh, innovative storytelling sets this series apart. The plot is both nostalgic and forward-thinking, balancing homage to Spider-Man’s rich history with bold new directions. Guest artist David Messina continues to bring the goods here, and in a way, the slight differences between his art and what Marco Checchetto did in previous issues is a key component of the comic’s storytelling. Messina’s artwork is detailed and expressive, capturing the essence of the characters while adding his unique flair. The contrast in art styles enhances the narrative, emphasizing the themes of perspective and change that run through these issues. The dynamic action scenes and emotive character moments are beautifully rendered, making each page a visual treat. There’s still time to get in on one of the best Marvel comics of the year right now. Ultimate Spider-Man #5 is a testament to the creative team’s talent, delivering a story that is both deeply engaging and visually stunning. Hickman and Messina’s collaboration results in a comic that is sure to be remembered as a standout in the Spider-Man legacy.

WOLVERINE #50

Benjamin Percy’s run on Wolverine has been one for the ages, and it concludes with the dramatic 50th issue this week. It delivers what many fans expected—the climactic fight between Logan and Victor Creed on the remnants of Krakoa—but it also takes time to say a bit more about the character amidst all the slashing and bloodshed. The battle is intense and visceral, showcasing Wolverine’s relentless ferocity and Creed’s brutal savagery. The stakes are high, and the fight choreography is both thrilling and brutal, providing a satisfying payoff for long-time readers. However, what truly elevates this issue is Percy’s exploration of Wolverine’s character. Wolverine isn’t just a killer; he doesn’t allow himself to be defined by his painful past. The narrative delves into Logan’s inner conflict, his struggle for redemption, and his quest for peace. These themes are poignantly illustrated through reflective moments interspersed with the action, offering a deeper understanding of the character’s psyche. While wrapping up the Krakoa era of the X-Men has been controversial, the issue gives the era one last hurrah from one of its most iconic characters. The conclusion is both a celebration of Wolverine’s journey and a fitting farewell to this chapter of his story. The artwork, rich in detail and emotion, complements Percy’s writing beautifully, making Wolverine #50 a memorable and impactful finale.

X-MEN: THE WEDDING SPECIAL #1

Marvel Comics celebrates the renewal of Mystique and Destiny’s vows in X-Men: The Wedding Special, which doesn’t shy away from the complexities inherent in the celebration of two women who have had careers as terrorists and been unrepentant murderers or accessories thereof. The main story presents a wedding ceremony befitting Mystique and Destiny in that it quickly turns into a heist. The chaotic and unconventional nature of the ceremony perfectly reflects the couple’s tumultuous history, blending romance with action in a uniquely X-Men fashion. “Wedding Gatecrashers” focuses on Captain Britain and Askani’s efforts to make it to the wedding on time. It doesn’t have much new to say about the characters but is a suitable showcase for the queer mutant power couple. Their journey is filled with humorous and perilous moments, adding a light-hearted touch to the special. “Get Mystique… a Gift!” is a story dedicated to teachers who support LGBTQ youths. Despite sometimes reading like a social media thread, it does a stellar job of digging into the complexities of human beings and the inherent compromises made in celebrating them. The narrative is heartfelt and sincere, highlighting the importance of acceptance and understanding. The final two stories, “Épée of Truth” and “The Thief’s Surprise,” are solid if not particularly memorable. They provide enjoyable but standard fare, adding to the overall celebratory tone of the issue without breaking new ground. However, X-Men: The Wedding Special finally gives one of Marvel’s earliest queer couples their due, a worthwhile endeavor even if the individual stories inside aren’t likely to linger in anyone’s mind for long. The issue gets bonus points for including Angelique Roche’s interview with Chris Claremont and reprinting Peter David and Guang Yap’s backup from X-Factor Annual #6 from 1991, a poignant and unexpectedly humorous short story about Mystique grieving after Destiny’s death. These additions enrich the special, offering readers both historical context and deeper emotional resonance. Overall, X-Men: The Wedding Special #1 is a fitting tribute to Mystique and Destiny, celebrating their love and legacy within the Marvel Universe.

GROMMETS #1

I think readers will be well served reading Grommets #1 with no expectations. Its solicit promises a lot of specific things, and it certainly addresses all of the promised concepts, but I’d be more inclined to characterize it as Richard Linklater by way of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, which is to say it possesses an idiosyncratic perspective. Yes, it delivers on the coming-of-age story of two teenagers in mid-California during the mid-80s immersed in skater culture (with clear biographic inspiration), but it serves that collection of very specific elements in a fashion that is entirely unique. The first issue strikes a truly unique tone in the marriage of script and art that is equal parts cartoonish and sincere to deliver some big laughs and surprising depths. The characters are vividly drawn, both in terms of personality and visual style, capturing the essence of youthful rebellion and the search for identity. The dialogue is sharp and authentic, reflecting the slang and attitudes of the era without feeling forced or nostalgic for its own sake. The humor is both broad and nuanced, with slapstick moments balanced by more introspective scenes that explore the characters’ inner lives and dreams. The artwork complements the story perfectly, with a vibrant, slightly exaggerated style that enhances the narrative’s whimsical yet grounded feel. The settings are richly detailed, evoking the sun-drenched, slightly worn look of mid-80s California. This combination of vivid visuals and engaging storytelling makes Grommets #1 a standout debut, promising a series that is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining.

NIGHTS #7

Nights is already a book that has struggled with focus in the past, and the start of this new arc brings that issue directly into the spotlight. There’s a ton going on in this issue, most of it without the characters that took center stage in the previous six issues. This shift in focus can be disorienting, as it takes quite a while to really get a handle on what’s going on here. The narrative juggles multiple plot threads and new characters, which can make it difficult for readers to find a clear throughline. However, the picture is painted by the end of the issue, with the disparate elements starting to coalesce into a more coherent story. The introduction of new characters and subplots suggests an expansion of the series’ scope, potentially enriching the world of Nights if handled well. There’s a hope that things will be smoother moving forward, but that isn’t yet guaranteed. The artwork remains strong, capturing the series’ moody, atmospheric tone, but the storytelling needs to tighten up to keep readers engaged.

THE SIX FINGERS #4

The Six Fingers #4 sees Johannes investigating Neo Novena more deeply and realizing the artificiality of it all, with entire power plants dedicated to moving batteries from one storage room to another. This bizarre and almost absurd setup highlights the existentialist dilemma running throughout the series. Johannes discusses with other characters what their existence means and whether Neo Novena is real. These philosophical conversations add depth to the narrative, making readers ponder the nature of reality and identity. The shadows and tight framing keep the noir vibe and ramp up the tension as things increasingly spiral out of control. The visual style is dark and moody, perfectly capturing the oppressive atmosphere of Neo Novena. The issue is capped off with a sex scene that calls back to the dismemberment silhouettes of The One Hand #1, making the sexual subtext into text and placing it in full view. This bold narrative choice conveys the sense that the reader is coming around to the other side of whatever it is at the heart of The One Hand Killer’s existence. The series continues to be a ripping, compelling cyberpunk noir with depth that hasn’t yet missed a beat. The combination of thought-provoking themes, gripping plot, and evocative artwork makes The Six Fingers #4 a standout issue, maintaining the high standards set by the series so far. The tension and intrigue build with each issue, promising a thrilling and intellectually stimulating ride for readers.

UNIVERSAL MONSTERS: CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON LIVES! #2

Kate Marsden’s hunt for a very human killer remains the focus of Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives! #2, as her perspective proves to be less reliable than readers might anticipate from a journalist. Following her near-death experience, Kate is experiencing hallucinations and other effects related to anoxic brain injury. Artist Matthew Roberts deftly shifts between her uncertain visions of events and more objective representations, creating a haunting and immersive reading experience. The narrative skillfully blurs the line between reality and Kate’s troubled mind, making readers question the nature of the events unfolding. The creature continues to lurk in the shadows, just as readers question what may rest in the shadows of Kate’s own mind, making for a thriller that’s compelling on a psychological as well as a visceral level. Roberts’ artwork captures this duality beautifully, using shadow and light to emphasize the eerie and uncertain atmosphere. There are plenty of visceral thrills in the second issue as it introduces narcos, follows Kate’s own prey, and showcases another appearance by the Gillman. Roberts dispatches these scenes of violence with grace, delivering so much in a single spectacular spread. The action sequences are intense and gripping, adding to the overall tension and excitement of the story. It’s already clear that the real monsters of this story are human, but what forms their monstrosity might take and who among them are monstrous remain open and intriguing questions. The complexity of the characters and their motivations adds depth to the narrative, making it more than just a horror story. I, for one, can’t wait to delve deeper into those dark waters for answers next month. The blend of psychological horror and physical threat makes this series a standout in the genre.

W0RLDTR33 #10

There’s a lot of exposition in W0RLDTR33 #10 from Tynion and Blanco, but luckily, this isn’t too much of a deterrent when it comes to the overall quality of issue ten. With this latest issue, W0RLDTR33 once again proves that it might very well be the best horror comic book on the market today. The series continues to impress with its intricate plot and deeply unsettling themes. Where it truly shines this time around is the examination of a world without the internet and the inherent terror both on a large and small scale of what that world would look like. This exploration is both thought-provoking and chilling, as the characters grapple with the loss of connectivity and the ensuing chaos. The societal implications and personal fears are vividly portrayed, making the horror feel immediate and real. All the characters continue to work quite well here, as it’s clear that Tynion is firing on all engines across the board. The depth and complexity of the characters add layers to the story, making their struggles and fears resonate with readers. Initially, I thought that W0RLDTR33 would end around its sixth issue, but here’s hoping the series has a long road ahead of it as it continues to be a tour-de-force in horror. The artwork by Blanco is consistently excellent, capturing the eerie and unsettling atmosphere of the story. The visual style enhances the narrative, with detailed and expressive panels that draw readers into the world of W0RLDTR33. This issue, like the ones before it, balances exposition with action, ensuring that the pace remains engaging and the tension high.

DAWNRUNNER #3

Dawnrunner continues to be such a fresh entry in the pantheon of kaiju vs mech stories, and it feels like things are just getting started. The series stands out with its unique blend of action and character-driven storytelling. The fight sequences are wonderfully illustrated and never outstay their welcome, providing thrilling and visually stunning moments that keep readers on the edge of their seats. Anita’s link to the past is a brilliant hook that finds new ways to engage with each passing issue. This narrative element adds depth to the story, connecting the present battles with a rich and mysterious history. The exploration of Anita’s past and its impact on her present actions adds an emotional layer to the high-octane action, making the story more compelling. The world-building in Dawnrunner is exceptional, with detailed settings and a well-thought-out mythology that enriches the narrative. The creative team has crafted a universe that feels expansive and alive, with each issue revealing new aspects of the world and its inhabitants. The characters are well-developed, each with their own motivations and struggles that add complexity to the story. The artwork is a standout feature, with dynamic and detailed illustrations that bring the kaiju and mech battles to life. The design of the creatures and machines is imaginative and impressive, adding to the epic scale of the conflicts. The color palette and visual effects enhance the intensity of the action, making each battle scene a visual feast. Dawnrunner #3 cements the series as a must-read for fans of kaiju and mech stories, delivering a perfect blend of action, character development, and world-building. The series promises even more excitement and depth as it continues, leaving readers eager for the next installment.

ONCE UPON A TIME AT THE END OF THE WORLD #15

Once Upon a Time at the End of the World is a series that is bound to be an even more fulfilling read in collection than serialization as its final issue draws together the three distinct timelines and art styles into a cathartic, but bittersweet climax. The artwork of Nick Dragotta, Leila del Duca, and Alexandre Tefenkgi function well in tandem because of how distinctive each individual’s style is – capably projecting joy and heartache across the long span of a human life. Each artist brings their unique perspective to the narrative, with Dragotta’s detailed and gritty depiction of the apocalypse contrasting beautifully with del Duca and Tefenkgi’s styles, which capture the varied emotional and temporal landscapes of the story. Emphasis rests on Dragotta’s detailed and gritty depiction of the apocalypse with an old Maceo and Mezzy side-by-side, but the heart of their love is undeniable even as their blood fills each panel. The stark, visceral imagery underscores the depth of their connection, making their shared moments all the more poignant. Jason Aaron saves only the climactic battle and aftermath for this issue, providing plenty of space to consider what that conflict represents. The pacing allows for a deep dive into the characters’ psyches, exploring the themes of love, loss, and survival. For all of the absurdities found in this imagined wasteland, he makes sure to tie the story into universal threads of love with the hard wisdom of couples who have grown apart and together across decades. This grounding in real human experiences adds a layer of relatability to the fantastical elements, making the narrative resonate on a deeper level. It’s a moving spectacle and one that’s bound to be loved when read as a complete comics saga. The series’ ability to blend the personal with the epic ensures that its impact will linger long after the final page is turned.

OPERATION SUNSHINE: ALREADY DEAD #2

While there are some aspects of Operation Sunshine: Already Dead #2 that still don’t quite feel like they fully make sense, the issue has a great economy of time and space for setting up Anwar’s plan while also revealing the truth that Hex has stumbled upon. The narrative structure efficiently balances the setup of Anwar’s intricate plan with the unfolding mystery Hex uncovers, maintaining a steady pace that keeps readers engaged. It makes things a bit more interesting knowing what is supposed to go down, but the actual end goal still feels muddied and like it’s being built while written. This element of unpredictability adds a layer of tension, though it occasionally leaves readers in the dark about the larger picture. There is a bit of unexpected justice for one character at the end, however, that is pretty great and surprisingly funny. This moment of dark humor provides a refreshing contrast to the otherwise intense and mysterious tone of the issue. The character development throughout the story adds depth to the plot, making the twists and turns more impactful. While some elements remain unclear, the overall narrative progression and the intriguing character arcs make for a compelling read.

PINE AND MERRIMAC #5

Readers likely won’t be surprised by the conclusion of Pine and Merrimac—the supernatural setup and last month’s cliffhanger spell out where the story is going—but they shouldn’t be disappointed in the miniseries’ conclusion either. At its best, this story was an engaging romance filled with humor and heart, two elements only highlighted by the terrible conspiracy being investigated. The balance between romance and supernatural intrigue keeps the narrative fresh and engaging. Pine and Merrimac #5 leans heavily on that romance and draws out some of the best panels from Fran Galán, including some beautifully soft pencil work. Galán’s art captures the emotional highs and lows of the characters, bringing their journey to life with expressive detail and delicate shading. The first half of the issue is equal parts heartbreaking and endearing, building towards an inevitable confrontation. The emotional depth of these scenes adds weight to the narrative, making the climax more satisfying. Taken as a romantic comedy-horror mash-up, the miniseries delivers on all fronts as it winds down with warm-hearted laughs alongside the crying and terror. The blend of genres ensures that the story remains unpredictable and entertaining, with each element enhancing the others. It’s only the choice to draw out one last twist and leave readers on yet another cliffhanger that serves to undermine that effect. While I’ll certainly return for any future Pine and Merrimac adventures, if those final few pages really are the end, they offer an unnecessary sour note that doesn’t fit the story preceding them. This lingering ambiguity might frustrate some readers, but the overall journey remains a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.

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