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MAY 8 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 #147

In “Batman #147,” the narrative of Zur-En-Arrh feels like it’s overstaying its welcome slightly, yet the issue manages to serve as a pivotal moment in the ongoing saga. Bruce Wayne departs from Gotham, seeking solitude to strategize a countermove against Zur-En-Arrh and reclaim his life. This quest sparks several personal revelations, emphasizing the theme that even a solitary hero like Batman needs allies. Although the idea of Batman recognizing his need for help isn’t groundbreaking—having been explored over several issues—the portrayal in this issue offers a deliberate parallel to Zur-En-Arrh’s own realization about the power of collaboration. This mirroring adds depth to what might otherwise seem like a transitional issue, padding out the space before the next significant plot development. Emotional undertones are effectively woven throughout, providing the story with greater resonance and a touch of human complexity.

BIRDS OF PREY #9

Issue #9 of “Birds of Prey” continues to navigate through its central mystery, which remains tantalizingly opaque. Kelly Thompson’s writing shines with witty dialogue and surprising plot twists that keep the readers on the edge of their seats. Jordie Bellaire’s unique greyscale coloring adds a distinct and sophisticated visual flair to the artwork, distinguishing this issue from its predecessors. The contributions from guest artists Jonathan Case and Gavin Guidry are transformed under Bellaire’s color scheme into striking visual narratives. Each panel is crafted with care, turning the comic into a standout piece in the DC lineup. This issue not only maintains but elevates the series, affirming “Birds of Prey” as a top-tier title within DC’s current offerings.

THE BOY WONDER #1

“THE BOY WONDER #1” explores the ever-evolving lore of Batman through the lens of one of its newer characters, Damian Wayne. Cartoonist Juni Ba taps into a deep understanding of the Batman mythos, treating these well-worn characters and themes with a refreshing perspective that acknowledges their iconic status while still pushing creative boundaries. This issue delves into the complexities of Damian Wayne, highlighting his unique place within the Batman family and his struggle with his legacy and identity. Ba’s approach to the story and characters is both reverential and innovative, offering a narrative that feels both familiar and new. This installment is emblematic of how Batman stories can continue to evolve and captivate, even when centered on lesser-explored characters like Damian Wayne.

KNEEL BEFORE ZOD #5

In “Kneel Before Zod #5,” the transformation of Zod is both profound and disorienting, marking a radical departure from the character as previously understood. Joe Casey’s storytelling weaves a complex tapestry where innovative ideas coexist with somewhat predictable science fiction cliches, creating a layered narrative experience. Dan McDaid’s artwork mirrors this duality, showcasing imaginative creature designs that elevate the fantastical elements of the story while occasionally falling back on conventional sci-fi visual motifs. The tension between innovation and familiarity in both plot and artwork keeps the series intriguing, setting a dynamic stage that holds the reader’s attention and curiosity about the direction Zod’s character will take.

POISON IVY #22

“Poison Ivy #22” presents a narratively sparse yet action-packed chapter in the saga of Pamela Isley. The issue primarily revolves around a psychological and philosophical duel between Pamela and Woodrue, framed through a mix of external confrontation and introspective monologues. This back-and-forth not only heightens the dramatic tension but also culminates in a pivotal moment of self-realization for Pamela. She encounters a crucial epiphany about her identity and the sacrifices required to potentially end her ongoing turmoil. The artwork complements the narrative’s emotional depth, with distorted visuals that skillfully reflect both the nightmarish aspects and the lucidity of Pamela’s revelations. The issue strikes a balance between being a visually stunning piece and a stage for significant character development, despite its slightly meandering pace.

SHAZAM! #11

Issue #11 of “Shazam!” indulges in light-hearted, sitcom-esque antics that unfold during a critical CPS inspection, juxtaposed against the backdrop of magical chaos at Billy’s home. The creative team skillfully extracts humor from this familiar setup, though the episode lacks genuine suspense in both its mundane and fantastical threads. The real narrative meat of the issue is subtly threaded through Darla’s investigation into an emerging mystery, which quietly builds momentum toward a suspenseful cliffhanger. The visual storytelling in this issue struggles to capture the dynamism of the unfolding action, with the exception of a notably well-rendered appearance by Talky Tawny. Overall, “Shazam! #11” functions as a transitional issue that cleverly uses its comedic elements to bridge to the more intense forthcoming conflict, setting the stage for what promises to be a more engaging follow-up in issue #12.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #49

“The Amazing Spider-Man #49” stands as a notable exception to the often-criticized event tie-ins in superhero comics. In this issue, John Romita Jr. captures New York City’s eerie transformation under a vampire siege with vivid and dramatic artwork, enhancing the gravity of the scenario. The storyline effectively harnesses key supporting characters and central conflicts, focusing on a specific incident in the “Blood Hunt” event that allows for a more standalone narrative. Despite the larger vampire crisis looming unresolved, this issue completes a fulfilling Spider-Man adventure, concluding with a setup for the “Amazing Spider-Man: Blood Hunt” miniseries. The portrayal of Peter Parker showcases his heroism and empathy in responding to a mass tragedy, qualities that resonate deeply in darker moments. This issue not only progresses the narrative but also enriches the emotional landscape, promising an impactful continuation in the “Blood Hunt” series. The strategic use of this tie-in enriches the ongoing series, providing a stellar example of how to integrate major events without derailing the primary storyline, much to the delight of its readers.

THE AVENGERS #14

In “The Avengers #14,” Captain America’s formation of an impromptu team breathes new life into some of Marvel’s lesser-known characters, spotlighting their abilities and potential. The return of C.F. Villa on art duties brings a familiar and welcomed visual style that complements the narrative’s fresh ensemble. This issue not only re-introduces these characters to the readers but also sets the stage for their future involvement in the Avengers’ lore. The dynamic team dynamics and strategic inclusion suggest potential for ongoing or spinoff series featuring these diverse heroes. The comic effectively balances showcasing new team synergies with individual character highlights, creating a rich and engaging experience that may influence the trajectory of future Avengers stories.

BLOOD HUNTERS #1

“Blood Hunters #1” delves into the expansive repercussions of a vampire outbreak within the Marvel Universe. This inaugural issue serves as a check-in on various heroes affected by or involved in the event, offering a broader scope of the epidemic’s impact across different settings and characters. While the individual stories vary in impact, the overall narrative provides a rich tapestry of genres—from supernatural horror to heroic mythology—catering to a wide range of Marvel fans. This issue introduces elements like undead adversaries, mystical wolf gods, luminous superheroines, and charismatic marksmen, each adding unique flavors to the overarching vampire theme. The diverse storytelling and character exploration in “Blood Hunters #1” aim to enrich the reader’s understanding of the Marvel Universe under the shadow of vampiric terror, providing a compelling start to what could be a deeply woven new storyline.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #9

“Captain America #9” presents a challenging moment for the titular character and the creative team behind this iteration of the series. The comic struggles to find a harmonious balance between the iconic hero and the artistic direction chosen, resulting in work that feels uncharacteristic and disjointed compared to the creators’ previous accomplishments. The narrative and visual style don’t seem to resonate well with Captain America’s ethos or with the expectations of the audience. The sense of disconnect suggests that it might be time for a rejuvenation of both the character portrayal and the creative lineup, aiming to realign the series with the core attributes and values that have traditionally defined Captain America. This issue reflects a pivotal moment where a fresh approach could potentially revive the series’ appeal and relevance.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #8

In “Captain Marvel #8,” the stakes are exceptionally high as Carol Danvers faces off against The Undone, pushing her to the limits of her capabilities. Alyssa Wong crafts a narrative that not only highlights Captain Marvel’s inherent power but also her strategic ingenuity and quick thinking in dire situations. The art team, consisting of Ruairi Coleman, Bryan Valenza, and Roberto Poggi, enhances the tale with vibrant and dynamic illustrations that effectively communicate the intensity and danger posed by The Undone. This issue is not just about showcasing high-energy battles but also explores character development and relationships, particularly in the subplot set in the Negative Zone, which promises to introduce significant new alliances. The comic succeeds in balancing explosive action with deeper storytelling, making it a crucial point in the series where every element comes together to elevate the overall saga.

DAREDEVIL #9

“Daredevil #9” continues to tread familiar territory with its central characters stuck in well-worn dynamics and plotlines. Matt Murdock and Elektra’s tumultuous relationship, Bullseye’s antagonism, and Matt’s estrangement from Foggy Nelson are revisited themes that feel somewhat stagnant. The return of the Kingpin aiming to control Hell’s Kitchen also adds to the sense of déjà vu. The comic self-referentially acknowledges these as outdated elements, yet it seems to struggle with advancing beyond them. The potential connection to the “Seven Deadly Sins” arc could provide a fresh direction, but as of this issue, the narrative appears to be in a holding pattern. This iteration needs a significant shift or development to break free from the cyclic patterns and reinvent its approach to Daredevil’s complex world.

DEADPOOL #2

In “Deadpool #2,” fans receive a long-awaited moment that deepens Deadpool’s character through his relationship with his daughter, Ellie. The issue strategically delays their full reunion, suggesting a more drawn-out narrative arc that will explore the complexities of their father-daughter relationship over time. Wade Wilson’s interactions with Taskmaster in this issue add a vibrant and entertaining dynamic, showcasing a blend of humor and action characteristic of Deadpool’s adventures. The playful antagonism between Deadpool and Taskmaster provides a light-hearted counterbalance to the more emotionally charged subplot with Ellie, creating a well-rounded issue that caters to both long-time fans and newcomers eager for both depth and entertainment in their comic reading.

DOCTOR STRANGE #15

“Doctor Strange #15” serves as an essential companion piece to the “Blood Hunt” event, crafted by the same writer, Jed MacKay. This issue explores subtler, more specialized facets of the storyline that the main event might not cover, adding depth and context to the larger narrative. However, the artwork by Pasqual Ferry and colorist Heather Moore, while visually appealing and skillfully executed, carries a lighter, more whimsical tone that somewhat mismatches the darker, more serious narrative tone set by MacKay. This dissonance creates a unique aesthetic experience that, while not detrimental, suggests a slight misalignment between story and illustration. Despite this, the issue stands out for its ability to enrich the overarching event with its focused storytelling and nuanced exploration of the magical elements within the Marvel Universe.

DRACULA: BLOOD HUNT #1

“Dracula: Blood Hunt #1” plunges readers into the midst of a global vampire outbreak with a focus on Dracula’s pursuit of Brielle Brooks, Blade’s daughter. This narrative setup immediately establishes high stakes and introduces Brielle as a formidable protagonist who inherits not only Blade’s physical prowess but also his vampire-hunting expertise. This twist adds a layer of complexity to the plot, presenting Dracula with a challenge that he may not have anticipated. The issue is strategically placed at the beginning of the “Blood Hunt” event, sparking curiosity about the sudden rise in vampire activity and setting the stage for future revelations. The artwork complements the story’s dark themes, delivering a visually engaging and gritty portrayal of the conflict, which caters to fans of Marvel’s horror genre. The blending of action, suspense, and horror elements makes this issue a compelling start to what promises to be an exciting and blood-soaked addition to the Marvel event.

FANTASTIC FOUR #20

In “Fantastic Four #20,” a lighthearted script centered on the mundane job-hunting adventures of the Human Torch and The Thing offers numerous comic moments, but the humor struggles to sustain momentum over the entire issue. The premise—superheroes in ordinary, low-wage jobs—while amusing, fails to develop into a substantial narrative, with the plot’s stakes feeling minimal until a poignant conversation emerges in the concluding pages. This late emotional exchange feels somewhat detached from the earlier comedic setup, suggesting a disjointed thematic execution. Although artist Carlos Gómez delivers clean and consistent artwork in line with Marvel’s modern aesthetic, his straightforward depiction of everyday settings lacks the whimsical exaggeration that might have elevated the comedic tone. The issue demonstrates the challenges of blending superhero antics with slice-of-life humor without a more stylized or exaggerated visual approach. While the script has its moments, the overall execution underscores a mismatch between the narrative’s needs and the artistic delivery, resulting in a comic that entertains but doesn’t fully resonate.

GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1

“Giant-Size X-Men #1” shines a spotlight on Angel, a character whose role as both the financial pillar and a complex hero within the X-Men universe has been rich but underexplored. This issue pairs a new introspective story with a nostalgic reprint, providing a dual perspective on Angel’s evolution. Written by Ann Nocenti with art by Lee Ferguson, KJ Diaz, and Cory Petit, the main story delves into the dichotomies of Angel’s character, reflecting on his traumatic experiences with Apocalypse and his attempts to balance the darker and lighter aspects of his persona. The narrative aims to uncover new layers of Angel’s psyche, offering insights into his daily struggles and personal growth. Despite an anticlimactic ending, the issue succeeds in providing a deeper understanding of Angel, appealing to fans who appreciate character-driven stories in the superhero genre. The inclusion of a classic team-up story in the reprint complements the new material, making this one-shot a rewarding exploration of one of the X-Men’s longstanding members.

SPIDER-MAN: SHADOW OF THE GREEN GOBLIN #2

“Spider-Man: Shadow of the Green Goblin #2,” penned by the veteran Spider-Man writer J.M. DeMatteis, showcases an intimate grasp of Peter Parker’s inner world. This issue stands out for its portrayal of one of the most compelling Spider-Man/Sandman confrontations to date, weaving deep emotional threads through their interactions. DeMatteis explores Peter Parker’s ongoing psychological struggle with his role as Spider-Man and the haunting impact of his uncle’s death. The narrative deftly captures the essence of Peter’s turmoil, reflecting both his superhero responsibilities and his personal grief. This installment feels like a tribute to the early days of Spider-Man, resonating with fans who yearn for stories that focus on character depth and emotional complexity. The issue is a standout for its deep dive into Peter’s psyche, offering a narrative that is both nostalgic and freshly compelling, making it an essential read for both long-time fans and newcomers to Spider-Man’s mythos.

VENOM #33

“Venom #33” is not only a continuation of Venom’s compelling saga but also a poignant tribute by artist Juan Ferreyra to his late father. Ferreyra’s dedication at the beginning of the issue adds a layer of emotional depth, reflecting in his passionate and meticulous artwork throughout. His style is particularly well-suited to the surreal and organic aspects of Venom and the unique challenges presented by the “Blood Hunt” crossover’s antagonist. The visuals are striking, blending intricate biological details with an intense, emotional narrative. Ferreyra’s use of dynamic panel layouts enhances the storytelling, making the comic feel alive and pulsating with energy. His ability to convey complex emotions and create a visually immersive experience turns this issue into a standout piece, showcasing his skill in both artistry and storytelling. This issue is a testament to Ferreyra’s talent and his personal connection to his work, making it a must-read for both its artistic merit and its heartfelt dedication.

WOLVERINE #49

“Wolverine #49” prepares for an epic showdown, setting the stage for a climactic battle that involves key characters such as Logan, Victor, Bad Seed, presumably Laura, and the rest of X-Force. This issue serves as a powerful exploration of the contrasting ethos between Logan and Victor. Unlike Logan, Victor revels in his past misdeeds, highlighting one of the fundamental differences in their characters. This thematic exploration is cleverly portrayed through their separation over the past issues, enhancing anticipation for their impending confrontation. The comic skillfully maintains tension and develops character dynamics, paving the way for a confrontation that promises to be both action-packed and thematically rich. The anticipation of this fight and the exploration of the characters’ moral contrasts are handled with a deftness that adds depth to the narrative and enriches the ongoing storyline.

AIN'T NO GRAVE #1

“Ain’t No Grave #1” introduces readers to Ryder, a reformed outlaw in the Old West grappling with devastating health news. Facing her mortality, Ryder embarks on a perilous quest, driven by the desire to protect her loved ones from the consequences of her past life. The premise of the comic is engaging, effectively setting the stage for a narrative filled with personal stakes and emotional depth. However, the execution is somewhat uneven; the issue spends considerable time on extensive scenes that lack direct engagement or clear narrative progression, which can leave readers feeling detached from the story. Despite these pacing issues, the intriguing setup and Ryder’s compelling character arc provide a solid foundation for the series. The comic ends on a hook that captures interest, promising more depth and development in future issues. This initial installment, while flawed, offers enough intrigue to draw readers into Ryder’s journey, setting expectations for a blend of personal drama and adventure in the episodes to come.

BENEATH THE TREES WHERE NOBODY SEES #6

“Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees #6” concludes its unique and chilling serial killer narrative wrapped in the whimsical veneer of talking animals, a concept uniquely suited to the comic medium. Patrick Horvath’s cartooning, which brings these adorable yet complex characters to life, has consistently elevated the series, blending an almost paradoxical mix of cuteness with a dark, mature storyline. This final issue, without divulging specifics of the climactic encounter between Samantha and her nemesis, deepens the mystery and tension, inviting readers to experience the suspense alongside Nigel. Horvath’s artistry in the final sequences masterfully echoes the series opener, enriching the thematic continuity and enhancing the story’s emotional impact. His skillful use of page turns and subtle details not only grips readers during their first journey through the story but also promises new layers of discovery in subsequent readings. This issue seals the series as one destined for enduring appeal, encouraging multiple revisits to fully appreciate its intricacies and artistry.

CROCODILE BLACK #1

“Crocodile Black #1” immediately ensnares its audience with a gripping narrative that introduces a dark, yet fascinating world through the experiences of Danny, a young man navigating a life fraught with chaos. Phillip Kennedy Johnson sets an immersive tone right from the start, with the artistic contributions of Som, colorist Patricio Delpeche, and letterer Becca Carey adding depth and texture that mark the reader’s memory even before Danny’s full introduction. As Johnson weaves Danny’s backstory, he skillfully integrates fantastical elements with a compelling character study, exploring themes of control and personal destiny amidst external turmoil. The visually distinct and emotionally dense world, combined with high stakes and complex character dynamics, crafts a narrative that is both unique and captivating. The dark, brutal aspects of the world contrast with moments of personal struggle and growth, making “Crocodile Black” a standout title that promises an exhilarating journey.

DEADWEIGHTS #2

“Deadweights #2” works to stabilize its tone in the second installment, addressing some of the criticisms typical of the “corrupt superhero organization” trope often seen in modern comics. The comic engages with contemporary debates around the ethics of superhero narratives, particularly the utilization of vast resources and the moral implications of recruiting young individuals into a quasi-military operation. Through characters Clarence and Jerry, the series begins to differentiate itself by delving into their backstories, hinting at richer, more nuanced character arcs that could set “Deadweights” apart from similar narratives. The color scheme by the artist, favoring a sepia-toned palette, offers a visual refresh from the conventional chrome and steel aesthetics typical to superhero headquarters, adding a distinctive atmospheric quality to the series. With a mix of humor and emerging character depth, “Deadweights #2” hints at a potential convergence of its various elements into a more cohesive and unique narrative in future issues, suggesting a series that may yet carve out its own niche within the crowded superhero genre.

THE DEVIANT #5

“The Deviant #5” dips into the past with a flashback-heavy issue that enriches the ongoing narrative by shedding light on critical backstory elements. While the issue’s brevity may leave readers wanting more, it speaks volumes about the series’ quality and the engrossing nature of its storytelling. This installment’s focus on context not only deepens understanding of the plot and characters but also enhances the emotional weight of the series. The frustration expressed by readers over the quick read is a clear indicator of their deep engagement and appreciation for the craftsmanship that has characterized the series thus far. Each panel is packed with detail and significance, making even a short issue a dense, enriching experience that contributes significantly to the overarching story.

ENERGON UNIVERSE 2024 SPECIAL #1

“Energon Universe 2024 Special #1” serves as an enticing introduction to a new shared universe, showcasing a collection of stories that hint at the potential richness of this expansive setting. Skybound’s approach to building a cohesive yet diverse world is evident in this one-shot, which smartly uses intrigue and possibility to draw readers into its orbit. The issue functions as an effective promotional tool, offering glimpses into the various narratives and character dynamics that could define this universe. As a gateway into what could become a complex tapestry of interconnected stories, it excels in sparking curiosity and setting the stage for future explorations, making it a compelling read for those interested in embarking on a new comic book adventure.

GEIGER #2

“Geiger #2” embraces a visually stunning yet narratively sparse approach, channeling the essence of spaghetti Westerns through its post-apocalyptic lens. The issue thrives on its stylistic choices, with Gary Frank’s artistry vividly bringing to life a desolate, radiation-scarred landscape. The action sequences, particularly a train chase involving a skeletal anti-hero, are rendered with a dynamic flair that compensates for the straightforward and somewhat predictable plot. While the character development and plot twists may not be groundbreaking, the visual execution is top-notch, capturing the dusty, gritty atmosphere of a world ravaged by nuclear fallout. The cliffhanger, though nihilistic, adds a jolt of excitement, promising more thrilling visuals and perhaps deeper explorations of the characters’ moral ambiguities in future issues. The comic’s ability to deliver an aesthetically pleasing experience, even if the story treads familiar ground, showcases its strengths and keeps the readers engaged.

GONE #3

In “Gone #3,” the series reaches its conclusion with artist Jock delivering a visually engaging but narratively underwhelming finale. Throughout the series, the conflict between the Sabs and government authorities has remained ambiguous, and this ambiguity persists in the final issue, diluting the impact of their confrontations. The character arcs of Abi’s two mentors, Jay and the ship’s captain, conclude in a manner reflective of their individual flaws—Jay’s end comes through his recklessness, while the captain’s downfall is due to his ambition and stubbornness. These parallel fates are among the more conceptually intriguing aspects of the narrative.Jock’s artwork, particularly a detailed two-page spread showing the cross-section of the ship, stands out for its clarity and detail. However, the story struggles to generate genuine tension or surprise, focusing narrowly on whether Abi survives. This singular focus fails to explore deeper themes or engage the reader more broadly, and Abi herself does not emerge as a compelling enough character to carry the emotional weight of the narrative. The issue, and by extension the series, concludes without fully addressing its narrative potential or character development, leaving a sense of missed opportunities despite the high quality of the artwork.

THE LAST MERMAID #3

“The Last Mermaid #3” by Derek Kirk Kim is a testament to the power of visual storytelling in comics. With minimal dialogue, the issue relies heavily on Kim’s strong, expressive cartooning and well-structured panel layouts that resemble animated storyboards. This visual approach effectively conveys the tension and dynamics of a chase scene within the aquatic settings of a dark water cave. The horizontal, rectangular panels guide the reader through the narrative smoothly, with changes in panel size and count adeptly manipulating the pacing and impact of the story.The environmental contrasts between the dark, oppressive water cave and the bright outside world add layers to the visual narrative, enhancing the sense of isolation and danger faced by the mermaid. While the story may lack in-depth subtext, its execution delivers a gripping, cinematic experience. The predictability of the ending, hinted at early in the series, does not detract significantly from the suspense and the relief of the conclusion. Overall, Derek Kirk Kim’s craftsmanship shines, making “The Last Mermaid #3” a compelling read despite its straightforward plot.

MASTERPIECE #5

“Masterpiece #5” continues to build its narrative momentum with sharp dialogue and escalating drama. The comic thrives on the dynamic interactions among a diverse group of characters, each contributing uniquely to the overarching goal of undermining Zero Preston. The dialogue stands out for its wit and timing, enhancing the character development and driving the plot forward. A highlight of the issue is a story shared by Gleason, illustrating how he used kindness as a strategic countermeasure against an adversary, which adds a layer of depth to his character and offers insight into the more subtle strategies employed in their collective mission.The series does an excellent job of balancing personal backstories with the larger narrative, ensuring that each character’s actions and motivations are meaningful within the story’s context. The ensemble cast is effectively utilized, with each member playing a critical role that promises further complications and developments in future issues. “Masterpiece #5” successfully combines intelligent writing with compelling character dynamics, setting the stage for more intriguing developments as the series progresses.

MONSTERS ARE MY BUSINESS #2

In “Monsters Are My Business #2,” the series truly begins to hit its stride, showcasing its unique blend of horror and humor. Cullen Bunn’s script is sharp, weaving unexpected twists and enhancing the quirky, distinctive personalities of its characters. The issue stands out not just for its storytelling but also for Patrick Piazzalunga’s artwork, which is both grotesque and whimsically bizarre, perfectly matching the tone of the narrative. This installment suggests a promising future for the series, with the creative team delivering a product that is both engaging and visually striking. The continued evolution of this weird and wonderful world is something to look forward to, as the potential for “Monsters Are My Business” to carve out a niche in the comic book landscape becomes increasingly apparent.

NIGHT PEOPLE #3

“NIGHT PEOPLE #3,” adapts “The Ballad of Easy Earl” from Barry Gifford’s novel, achieving a seamless transition into the comic medium. Chris Condon’s adept scripting ensures the story’s essence is preserved while adapting it to a visual format. Artyom Topilin’s artwork excels in this issue, with his paneling and character design immersing readers into a distinctly gritty and atmospheric world. The collaboration between Topilin and color artist Ronda Pattison is particularly effective; Pattison’s color work enhances the mood and tone, augmenting Topilin’s already striking visuals. This issue represents a high point in the series, with the artistic synergy elevating the narrative and making it a compelling read. The success of this adaptation lies in its ability to maintain the novel’s spirit while exploiting the strengths of the comic book format to expand its storytelling impact.

TRANSFORMERS #8

“Transformers #8” marks a pivotal transition in the series, shifting from the structured approach of its opening arc to a more expansive exploration of its characters and overarching plot. Under Daniel Warren Johnson’s direction, the comic thrives on its complex blend of sci-fi, adventure, and elements reminiscent of war comics. Johnson’s narrative prowess shines as he integrates intricate subplots and diverse character arcs, reminiscent of the rich storytelling found in classic runs like Claremont’s “Uncanny X-Men.” Jorge Corona’s artwork complements Johnson’s vision by giving the Transformers expressive, emotive qualities that are impressive for their robotic natures. Although there are some inconsistencies in the portrayal of scale—a challenge given the subject matter—the dynamic panels manage to convey the grandeur and intensity of the Transformers universe. This issue excels in pacing and drama, drawing readers deeper into the world and its conflicts, promising more intricate developments and emotional depth as the series progresses.

THE ONE HAND #4

In “The One Hand #4,” the penultimate issue of the series, the narrative depth and complexity reach new heights. What began as a straightforward murder mystery has evolved into a profound existential exploration, challenging the nature of reality itself—a quintessential cyberpunk transformation. Writer Ram V expertly guides readers through protagonist Ari Nassar’s potentially mad or enlightened journey, blurring the lines between delusion and discovery. The artwork by Laurence Campbell, with its heavy use of black and shadow, accentuates the dream-like, nebulous quality of Neo Novena, making the city appear as a dimly remembered, enigmatic backdrop. This stylistic choice enhances the unfolding mysteries, even as the narrative begins to reveal its secrets. With just one issue remaining in both this series and its sister series “The Six Fingers,” there remains a palpable sense of mystery and anticipation, with ample narrative threads still to be unraveled, promising a climactic conclusion to this gripping cyberpunk thriller.

THE SACRIFICERS #8

“The Sacrificers #8” continues to expand its ambitious fantasy narrative, yet struggles with some storytelling elements. The art by Max Fiumara is a highlight, delivering epic, sweeping visuals that give the story a raw, immersive feel. However, the narrative structure, characterized by a series of disjointed events (“and then” sequences), and the lack of a consistent geographical or cultural context, diminish the story’s ability to build tension and engage the reader fully. Pigeon’s journey, meant to be a central, compelling odyssey, lacks clarity in motivation and emotional resonance, making it difficult for readers to connect with or understand his inner conflicts. While the series boasts a strong conceptual foundation, this issue exemplifies the challenges of translating grand ideas into a cohesive and engaging narrative. The overall potential of the series is clear, but this installment shows that potential is not yet fully realized.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: BLACK, WHITE & GREEN #1

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Black, White & Green #1” offers a fresh entry point for newcomers and a delightful variation for long-time fans, with each of the four stories spotlighting a different Turtle’s personality and combat style. The standout tale, “Green Screen,” combines humor and poignancy with notably sharp artwork, distinguishing it within the collection. However, the issue’s artistic decision to use green as the sole color presents challenges. While thematically fitting, the limited palette sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish between the Turtles, who share similar physical traits. This choice can detract from the visual clarity and reader engagement, especially for those less familiar with the characters. Despite this, the anthology format and the unique storytelling approach provide a compelling showcase of the Turtles’ world, making it accessible and enjoyable for a broad audience, though the color usage might benefit from greater variation to enhance character differentiation and visual appeal.

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