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.
DC PRIDE 2023 #1
In the introduction to DC Pride 2023, Phil Jimenez shares a captivating anecdote. He recalls Kelly Sue DeConnick’s insight that being queer is a powerful act of resistance against the societal pressure to diminish oneself. This year’s edition of the DC Pride anthology wholeheartedly embraces that sentiment, refusing to be small. For the third consecutive year, DC Comics shines a spotlight on its LGBTQ+ characters through an expansive one-shot issue. Packed with compelling narratives and art that authentically humanize the characters, this installment feels more timely and vital than ever before.
DETECTIVE COMICS 1072
Detective Comics #1072 plunges Batman into a high-stakes clash with the Orghams, whose seemingly boundless resources threaten to overpower the Caped Crusader and claim control over Gotham City. As Batman’s allies delve deeper into the Orghams’ grand scheme, they uncover the magnitude of the threat. Meanwhile, Batman is confronted with an impossible choice imposed by his adversaries. This issue’s essence lies in the relentless march towards inevitability, evoking a deliberate cadence that echoes the earlier themes of opera and the macabre dance from the initial arc. It instills an unsettling feeling, showcasing how even at the height of his strength, Batman finds himself utterly outmatched.
ICON VS HARDWARE 3
In Icon vs. Hardware #3, the conflict between these two formidable characters propels the story from one extreme to another. However, the end result is a mixture of both entertainment and mild disappointment. Every element, from the script to the trio of wildly diverse artists and the narrative itself, feels somewhat disjointed, failing to fully capitalize on the threads established in previous issues. The pacing suffers from a delay in fully exploring these narrative strands. Despite this setback, a flicker of intrigue remains, leaving readers curious about what lies ahead for these characters.
POWERGIRL SPECIAL 1
Power Girl Special #1 presents a climactic battle between the formidable heroine herself and the malevolent Johnny Sorrow, infused with eldritch horror. Marguerite Sauvage’s art beautifully captures the story, showcasing the intense showdown. Sorrow poses a grave threat to the world through his mass psychic hypnosis and the chaotic actions of his four enigmatic horsemen across the United States. It falls upon Power Girl, accompanied by her loyal friend Omen, to save the day. While the superhero conflict in this oversized issue lacks compelling depth, with vague stakes and poorly defined power sets, the various action encounters feel more like obligatory checkpoints on the path to an inevitable victory.
In the second issue of the new Alien series, writer Declan Shalvey delivers what fans have been eagerly anticipating: the carnage. While a significant portion of the story focuses on establishing the broader narrative, it intentionally slows down to heighten the impact of a thrilling splash page. Artist Andrea Broccardo and colorist Triona Farrell excel in portraying this pivotal moment, vividly depicting the gruesome aftermath of a chestburster’s emergence. This compensates for some stilted artwork that persists in the depiction of a horde of aliens in the initial pages.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 26
The Amazing Spider-Man #26 arrives as a welcome relief, allowing the resolution of lingering mysteries and the exploration of a kayfabe spectacle of death in a separate storyline. The collaborative efforts of Wells and Romita continue to deliver excellence and remain a perfect fit for Spider-Man. However, when the publisher’s demands undermine the stylistic and tonal elements that made earlier issues of the current volume exceptional, it becomes challenging to wholeheartedly applaud the resulting peculiar outcomes.
AVENGERS BEYOND 3
Avengers Beyond has become a complete disaster, and I dread the arrival of each new issue. The third installment is particularly problematic, with the first four pages consisting solely of dull exposition. While exposition can serve a purpose in comics, it should offer fresh insights for fans. Unfortunately, this series rehashes old plot points, and the overall structure makes each issue feel disjointed in the worst way possible. Although there are potentially intriguing elements in this mini-series, they ultimately fall short. Even the artwork in the latest issue is the weakest so far. It’s best to steer clear of Avengers Beyond.
BETSY BRADDOCK CAPTAIN BRITAIN 4
In Betsy’s battle against Morgan Le Fay and her mission to protect the Marvel universe, the focus becomes more character-driven than anything else. The real strength of Tini Howard’s writing lies in the dynamics portrayed in this issue. It’s a joy to see Betsy standing alongside some of Marvel’s greatest heroes, to the point where the specifics of the main conflict feel slightly underwhelming. Nevertheless, there’s a genuine sense of energy in both the intricacies of the script and Vasco Georgiev’s artwork, making this a worthwhile read.
CAPTAIN AMERICA SYMBOL OF TRUTH 13
The “Cold War” crossover takes a momentary pause to shift the spotlight onto Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers, who spend the issue clashing with each other instead of focusing on Bucky Barnes and White Wolf. The impeccable art and colors by R.B. Silva and Jesus Aburtov contribute to the clash between the Captains feeling like a cinematic masterpiece. Steve comes across as cold and unfeeling, while Sam is compassionate and unafraid to speak his mind. This contrast adds depth, although it is surprising to see Steve easily manipulated by Bucky.
Carnage #13 masterfully walks the tightrope of a mid-chapter tie-in issue, striking near-perfect balance. This installment caters to readers deeply invested in the series, offering crucial character development for its core cast. Simultaneously, it gracefully introduces these characters to readers who are solely invested in “Carnage Reigns.” The issue expands the scope of the story rapidly, building upon ongoing narratives and culminating in a chilling cliffhanger. While not all plot threads receive equal focus, the climactic battle, featuring “heroic” enforcers alongside Miles Morales and Scorpion, serves as a thrilling prelude to Cletus Kasady’s horrifying new incarnation. Each chapter maintains the familiar style of the series, blending dark reality and metaphorical fictions tied to the Symbiote mythos. It’s a delightfully entertaining read that promises even greater things for both Carnage and “Carnage Reigns.”
CLOBBERIN' TIME 3
Since its inception, Clobberin’ Time has possessed a splendid sense of humor, and issue #3 takes it to new heights with an abundance of laughter on every page. As Doctor Strange unexpectedly crashes a Grimm family dinner party, Steve Skroce’s artwork provides plenty of visual marvels. However, it is Ben’s Uncle Jake who steals the show, embodying a nonchalant attitude towards monstrous creatures and violence as he pursues celebrity selfies. The inclusion of dark magical entities serves as a fantastic backdrop for this comical affair, including a mischievous pair of children who wholeheartedly embrace Skroce’s unique brand of violence. This issue not only serves as an origin story for Clobberin’ Time’s antagonist but also sets the stage for an epic team-up, assuring readers that the series still has an abundance of hits and laughter to deliver.
Deadpool #7 predominantly revolves around a scene packed with punchlines, adhering to the quintessential Deadpool formula. The jury is still out on whether Wade’s relationship with Valentine can match his previous love interests, but at least the book seems to have a solid grasp on Princess as a “dog symbiote.” It would benefit from portraying The Atelier as a more formidable threat, considering two of their members are effortlessly dispatched in this issue. It appears that readers may have to wait until the end of the summer for a Wade vs. Horned Emperor showdown, which is quite a lengthy delay.
DOCTOR STRANGE 3
EDGE OF THE SPIDER VERSE 2
SILVER SURFER GHOST LIGHT 4
What initially seemed like a promising miniseries has unfortunately devolved into a slow and confusing narrative in recent issues. The concept of The Stranger holds theoretical interest, but in execution, he becomes a dull character from a bygone era of comics. This becomes problematic when the entire story now revolves around him. The descent of the citizens of Sweetwater into madness, Al’s increasing outrage, and Sombra’s newfound power-up all fail to make a lasting impact beyond a casual indifference.
SPIDER MAN 2099 DARK GENESIS 5
The final issue of the Dark Genesis arc is packed with a lot of events, perhaps a bit too much for its own good. However, all’s well that ends well, and Dark Genesis manages to provide a satisfying conclusion to what has been a fantastic series.
STAR WARS DOCTOR APHRA 32
Marking a fresh start for the Doctor Aphra series, we witness her employing her cunning tactics to… well, kidnap Luke Skywalker and seek his assistance in a quest that could benefit them both. The banter and exchanges of witty remarks between these two characters are highly entertaining, and the events in this issue present intriguing implications about Luke’s journey to becoming a Jedi Master during the original trilogy. This debut chapter of a new storyline showcases the best aspects of these comics—entertaining standalone adventures that enhance the existing material and narrative timelines. Given that previous issues of Doctor Aphra have become convoluted and burdened with an excess of characters, this issue sets a strong foundation for the upcoming adventure and leaves us eagerly anticipating what lies ahead in this arc’s future.
STAR WARS SANA STARROS 4
The complexities continue to mount for the Sarros family as Sana remains determined to rescue her cousin from Imperial control, all while grappling with the fact that her twin brother has chosen to align himself with the Galactic Empire. In the fourth issue of this series, the focus shifts towards establishing the interpersonal connections between the characters rather than relying heavily on action or plot developments. However, the abundance of characters mentioned solely by name can be overwhelming, considering the freshness of the storyline and how far we have progressed in the adventure. While it is not uncommon for Star Wars comics to prioritize exposition over visual storytelling, readers may find themselves a bit bewildered in keeping track of the major players in the series, particularly given the unfamiliarity of Sana’s backstory. Hopefully, this serves as more of an exception rather than the norm, as the earlier issues showed great promise. Moving forward, it is our hope that the narrative gains more cohesion to recapture the charm and excitement of those earlier chapters.
VENOM LETHAL PROTECTOR II 3
True to its promise, Lethal Protector delivers three issues of pure 90s-style action, complete with over-the-top throwback character designs and melodrama reminiscent of the beloved 90s Amazing Spider-Man cartoon. While the villains may not leave a lasting impression this time around (are gun-toting nuns starting to feel a bit overused?), the cliffhanger ending sets up a thrilling encounter between Venom and Doctor Doom, guaranteeing a fun time ahead. If you’re a Venom fan who hasn’t kept up with the character’s current developments, this series is definitely worth picking up for a nostalgic ride.
X-23 DEADLY REGENISIS 3
This particular issue of X-23 unfolds at a slow pace, but if you’re a fan of the character and familiar with her history, witnessing her engage in a verbal confrontation with her puppet master, Kimura, should provide an enjoyable experience. The artwork is detailed, crisp, and visually pleasing, offering a feast for the eyes. However, the overall story unfortunately drags a bit. Hopefully, the next issue will bring more excitement, especially since X-23 will once again find herself in Kimura’s service.
CAT FIGHT 1
As someone who has a weakness for stories of espionage and master thieves, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Cat Fight was right up my alley. This exciting new series delves into the adventures of Felix, a skilled thief whose streak of bad luck thrusts him into a larger narrative of legacy and vendettas, expertly crafted by writer Andrew Wheeler. Cat Fight seamlessly blends a classic sensibility with modern elements and style, thanks to the talented team of artist Ilias Kyriazis, colorist Dennis Yatras, linker Auguste, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. The story truly hits its stride when Nana is introduced, and from that point on, it never loses momentum. Nana’s backstory and its impact on Claude are captivating on their own, but as the larger story unfolds, the full potential of the book becomes immediately apparent. Cat Fight kicks off with a bang, leaving me eagerly anticipating where this thrilling tale of thievery will take us next.
DEEP CUTS 2
In this installment, the anthology Deep Cuts finds an even stronger footing, delivering a poignant and wistful tale of authorship and ambition. Revealing the specifics of Kyle Higgins and Joe Clark’s script would spoil the thrilling experience of witnessing the end result. When paired with the genuinely stunning artwork by Helena Masellis and the coloring prowess of Igor Monti, this single issue becomes an absolute must-read. The synergy between the creative team ensures that Deep Cuts #2 is an unforgettable experience.
How many tired clichés can one comic employ? While Torrent #3 provided a glimmer of hope that its protagonist, Michelle, was evolving beyond being a mere caricature, issue #4 takes a U-turn and intensifies the portrayal of an angry woman seeking revenge with a penchant for violence. The comic heavily relies on these worn-out clichés, presenting Michelle relentlessly beating up her former friends and allies who fail to grasp why she resorts to monstrous acts of murder for the sake of justice. To make matters worse, there are even panels depicting her being slapped by the male leader, adding an unnecessary and distasteful element. Additionally, the inclusion of random and irrelevant aspects of her romantic life only adds to the book’s overall misogynistic tone. The story outside of Michelle is poorly written, with a lackluster “twist” thrown in as an afterthought, leaving readers confused as to its significance, likely requiring them to revisit the beginning to make sense of it.
Gargoyles #6 propels the story forward, but it does so in a somewhat disjointed manner. The narrative structure focuses on Brooklyn taking charge, yet there seems to be a reluctance on Weisman’s part to fully commit to this direction. As a result, the transitions between scenes can feel abrupt, with random Brooklyn shots scattered throughout the book. Furthermore, this issue, more than any previous ones, prioritizes cameo surprises over weaving a smooth and cohesive story, which can be a bit jarring for readers.
LOCAL MAN 4
Local Man #4 surpasses all expectations and proves to be even more exceptional than its predecessors, delivering a smaller-scale yet monumental chapter in Jack’s remarkable journey. Both the main story and the flashback backup story skillfully parody the tropes and trials of 90s X-Men with a genuine love for the source material, all while effortlessly advancing the plot. This series continues to shine on every level, offering a truly terrific reading experience.
STAR WARS HIGH REPUBLIC ADVENTURES 5
The focus of this series gets sharper as it goes along. It’s still busy. These awesome character designs would stand out even more if there wasn’t so much happening in every panel. But it’s an interesting, breezy read nonetheless.
THE SAVAGE STRENGTH OF STARSTORM 1
In The Savage Strength of Starstorm #1, there’s a moment where the protagonist, Grant Garrison, an amnesiac high schooler with no distinct personality or connection to his powers, ironically tells a high school bully that they are “so clichéd.” This statement resonates with groan-inducing irony because every character and plot point in the issue feels like a tired cliché to anyone familiar with superhero comics. The enigmatic newcomer to Kirby High is surrounded by a troubled new friend who loves comics, an adorably geeky girl, and a bully with the last name Dumbeldore. What exacerbates the familiarity of these overused tropes is the dialogue, which often reads like a parody of how adults imagine high schoolers speak. Every line feels painfully familiar in the worst possible way. The inevitable revelation of special powers and external threats descends into absurdity, as seemingly ordinary human beings shrug off the destruction of their high school and continue chatting as if they were having lunch. There is little respite in a story that lacks depth, but the artwork showcases some skill, with pages that pay homage to early Image Comics, featuring striking villains and a spread filled with starships aimed towards the horizon. However, these artistic elements are insufficient to redeem the issue, though they are an improvement over a poorly illustrated rendition of this lackluster story.
Creating a sense of horror within the realm of comic books, graphic novels, and manga can be an incredibly challenging task. Unlike novels that allow readers to visualize scenes and films that leave little room for interpretation, comic book pages need to effectively convey chilling moments. Tynion and Blanco succeed in evoking the terror of the “Undernet” while maintaining an air of mystery. What sets W0rldTr33 apart is its ability to blend genuine horror with captivating subplots across the board. Numerous characters grapple with their own personal issues, each one more intriguing than the last. As an added bonus, the creative team weaves a compelling side story called “Whiteout,” focusing on an extraterrestrial threat rather than the Undernet. W0rldTr33 strikes all the right chords, conducting a malevolent symphony, and I eagerly anticipate where this mini-series will lead its readers.