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 AND ROBIN #3
Batman and Robin #3 presents a scenario high on action but light on plot development. Batman and Robin are engaged in a relentless chase to save White Rabbit from the Terrible Trio. However, the story seems to be stuck in a loop of endless action, with characters engaging in dynamic yet ultimately inconsequential chases and exchanges filled with quippy dialogue. A key revelation regarding Shush and Hush occurs, but it appears to diminish rather than enhance the story. The issue, while not inherently unpleasant, feels like filler without a clear purpose, and the artwork is criticized for lacking strength and organization.
DANGER STREET #11
Danger Street #11 stands out for its bold storytelling and unique tone, oscillating between grand drama and Tarantino-esque crime shocks. The narrative converges various characters in a setting filled with a mix of tragedy and humor, centered around a deceased child. The issue is seen as a homage to lesser-known characters in the DC Comics universe, blending genuine emotional depth with self-aware humor. A particular scene involving a spread of characters is highlighted for its effectiveness in capturing the essence of the series, balancing humor and morbidity. The use of narration to turn subtext into text adds to the ironic tone of the story. Overall, it’s regarded as an excellent lead-up to the series finale.
DETECTIVE COMICS #1077
Detective Comics #1077 features a more grounded story, with Catwoman and Gordon assembling a team to rescue Batman from the Orgham family. This issue ties together various side characters and ambiguous enemies from the extended arc. The artwork by Jason Shawn Alexander, noted for its gritty style, is seen as fitting for the heist-themed arc. However, there’s a tonal disconnect between the gothic, strange horror of the previous arc and the current, more realistic theme. While this shift is a continuation of the storyline, it’s perceived as jarring, potentially reflecting the unsettling nature of the previous arc.
GREEN LANTERN #5
Green Lantern #5 stands out as a remarkable installment in the series, brilliantly showcasing the distinctive aspects of the Green Lantern universe. The issue is anchored by the classic rivalry between Hal Jordan and Sinestro, providing a robust foundation for the story. Writer Jeremy Adams skillfully introduces new elements to their dynamic, propelling both characters into fresh narrative territories within the superhero genre. The artistic contributions of Xermanico (artist), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer) are particularly noteworthy, delivering some of the most creative and visually striking ring-based action seen in the series. Their work on the constructs and the imaginative scenarios in which they are employed is commendable. The issue not only offers aesthetically pleasing visuals but also sets up an exciting confrontation in its final page, raising expectations for future issues. Overall, Green Lantern #5 is a high-quality entry that comes highly recommended for its storytelling and artistic excellence.
Outsiders #1 marks a new chapter for the Outsiders, a team known for highlighting underappreciated and underrated characters in the DC Comics universe. This issue introduces a blend of grounded and extravagant elements, striking a balance that mostly works well. The narrative centers around Kate Kane and Luke Fox, promising an exciting adventure. However, the issue is not without its flaws; certain stylistic choices and a lack of clarity in some parts hinder its potential for perfection. Despite these shortcomings, the groundwork laid for Kate and Luke’s journey is intriguing enough to make the series look promising. The comic seems to continue the tradition of bringing lesser-known characters to the forefront, offering them a platform to shine.
SPEED FORCE #1
Speed Force #1 successfully ventures into new territory by focusing on two characters spun off from a larger superhero family. The issue showcases the dynamic superhero partnership of Wallace and Avery, taking unexpected turns in their storyline. Jarrett Williams’ script, incorporating youthful slang and other modern elements, might not resonate with every reader, but it is fitting and authentic for the characters. This fresh approach sets up an engaging narrative for future issues. Daniele Di Nicouolo’s artwork, with its intentionally chaotic, anime-inspired style, complements the story well. The art enhances the overall feel of the comic, contributing to its unique appeal. Speed Force #1 is praised for its innovative approach and holds great promise for the series, offering a fresh and entertaining perspective within the superhero genre.
SUPERMAN: LOST #8
Superman: Lost #8 presents a mixed bag of vibrant characterizations and superhero tropes, interspersed with moments that fall flat. The comic juggles a plethora of ideas, leaning towards the inventive and entertaining, yet the less successful aspects are noticeable. These weaker elements culminate in a cliffhanger that may unintentionally amuse rather than thrill the reader. A significant issue in this installment is the late introduction and portrayal of Lex Luthor, which seems disjointed from the overall narrative of “Superman: Lost.” This lack of cohesion makes the issue feel more like a tie-in to Priest’s “Black Adam” rather than a standalone story. Despite the action and enjoyable team-ups, there’s a sense of familiarity and lack of innovation in the layouts. As the series approaches its final two issues, “Superman: Lost #8” sets the stage for discussions among comic book enthusiasts, though its effectiveness as a compelling narrative is questionable.
THE VIGIL #6
The Vigil #6 relies heavily on spy genre tropes and features a predictable plot twist. The storytelling method, heavily reliant on narration to explain the unfolding events, is criticized for its simplicity and lack of engagement. This approach results in a somewhat tedious reading experience. While the issue has its moments of humor and intriguing ideas, the overall execution, combined with artwork that merely serves the narrative without enhancing it, detracts from the comic’s potential. Despite its average to mediocre execution, “The Vigil” leaves an impression with its unique team dynamics and quirky characters, which may find a place in the expanding influence of the old Wildstorm universe within current DC Comics.
WESLEY DODDS: THE SANDMAN #2
Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #2 will resonate with fans of the “Sandman Mystery Theater” due to its similar tone and approach. This issue meticulously unfolds a mystery with a blend of low-key drama and 1940s fashion. Wesley Dodds, portrayed as methodical and seemingly detached, serves as an effective narrator, inviting mystery enthusiasts to engage with the unfolding puzzle. The comic balances the investigative narrative with action sequences that are both thrilling and grounded in reality. Dodds’ portrayal as a martial artist is honest and human, showing vulnerability and consequences in his encounters with common criminals. This realism adds excitement and stakes to the action. Artist Rossmo’s depiction of both combat and everyday scenes lends a sense of weight and flair to the superhero elements. “Wesley Dodds: The Sandman #2” positions itself as a compelling pulp detective story with a modern flair, potentially becoming a spiritual successor to one of Vertigo’s underrated series.
WildC.A.T.s #12: This final issue of the WildC.A.T.s series in the DC Universe exhibits both the strengths and weaknesses that have characterized the series. The comic struggled with balancing its ambitious scope, often introducing too many elements too quickly. Its best moments were when it focused on individual characters, such as Grifter, where it managed to truly shine. However, the series frequently became overwhelmed by the multitude of Wildstorm characters featured. Writer Matthew Rosenberg’s evident passion for the Wildstorm universe and his attempt to create an epic-scale story is commendable but ultimately suffers from an overabundance of plotlines. While not a bad comic per se, “WildC.A.T.s” seems primarily tailored for fans already familiar with the Wildstorm universe, potentially alienating new readers or those less acquainted with its extensive character roster.
WORLD'S FINEST: TEEN TITANS #5
World’s Finest: Teen Titans #5: The issue is a standout in DC’s World’s Finest series, known for its dynamic storytelling and innovative ideas. The creative team of Waid and Lupacchino excels in reimagining the early days of the Teen Titans, infusing classic characters with fresh and ingenious characterizations. A key strength of “World’s Finest” is its authentic portrayal of characters and the natural development of conflict. Praised as a dream comic for superhero fans, this series is highly recommended. The final page, while not surprising for die-hard Teen Titans fans, is rendered impactful due to the fresh approach taken in this series. The comic is highly suggested for purchase, as it effectively caters to both long-time followers and newcomers to the Teen Titans lore.
Alien #1: This new installment in the Alien franchise strikes a balance between catering to new fans and maintaining a connection to the existing lore. Declan Shalvey’s script skillfully weaves emotional tension and macabre elements, setting the stage for a novel confrontation with the Xenomorphs. Andrea Broccardo’s artwork is noted for its effective portrayal of the alien creatures, although there are some inconsistencies in the depiction of human characters. These inconsistencies are not overly distracting, however. Overall, while the new direction of the “Alien” series might not be universally adored, it possesses enough appealing elements to intrigue and engage a wide range of readers. The comic seems to successfully tread the fine line between staying true to the franchise’s roots and exploring new narrative possibilities.
ALPHA FLIGHT #4
Alpha Flight #4: This issue effectively converges the narrative threads introduced in previous issues, raising the stakes significantly. The discovery of Krakoa North by the Box Sentinels in the concluding pages escalates the tension, setting the stage for a climactic showdown. The pacing of the story is well-executed, maintaining a solid and straightforward narrative flow. While some aspects of the Department H portrayal may verge on caricature, the comic successfully establishes genuine stakes for the characters. This sense of urgency and investment in the characters’ fates contributes to the comic’s overall strength. The issue is commended for its coherent storytelling and its ability to maintain reader engagement, positioning itself as a compelling entry in the series.
ASTONISHING ICEMAN #4
Astonishing Iceman #4: As a nod to the classic “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends,” this issue’s reunion of Iceman and Spider-Man, along with the introduction of Chantal, is a highlight. Writer Steve Orlando seems to relish the dynamic between Spider-Man and Iceman, crafting dialogues that are among the best moments of the issue. The comic explores deeper, more vulnerable aspects of these characters, moving beyond surface-level banter. Despite some puns falling flat, the interaction between Spider-Man and Chantal is particularly well-received, adding a new layer to the narrative. The artistic team, including Vincenzo Carratu, colorists Java Tartaglia and Chris Sotomayor, and letterer Travis Latham, receive praise for their portrayal of Bobby Drake’s powers and action scenes. While the villain’s storyline and a lengthy textual block slightly impede the flow, these are minor issues compared to the overall enjoyable narrative and dynamic visuals. The issue is valued for its entertainment and character dynamics, with hope expressed for similar quality in future installments.
BLACK PANTHER #6
This issue dedicates a significant portion of its content to developing the backstory of the new series villain. Such a focus on origin stories can often be tedious, but in this case, it’s executed with skill and depth. Writer Ewing successfully layers the villain’s journey, making it engaging and adding complexity to Wakanda’s rich history. This approach not only enhances the narrative depth of the current storyline but also enriches the overall lore of the Black Panther universe. The issue is commended for its ability to transform a potentially mundane exposition into a captivating exploration of character and history, contributing to a more profound understanding and appreciation of the ongoing narrative and Wakanda’s legacy.
This issue quickly moves past the repercussions of the disastrous mission from Blade #4, propelling Blade into a series of increasingly poor decisions. A significant shift in narrative focus is observed, with Blade’s supporting cast, who had previously added fresh supernatural elements and intrigue to the series, being sidelined. This change is somewhat disappointing, given their previously well-received contributions. The issue also introduces a reevaluation of the threat posed by Adana, which unfortunately renders Blade’s actions as recklessly unwise and diminishes the impact of Doctor Strange’s guest appearance. The comic is filled with grand spectacle, but it often feels unearned due to the rapid progression of events and the limited timeframe covered in the series. While the issue ends on an intriguing cliffhanger, the overall hurried pacing undermines the depth and potential richness of the narrative.
CAPWOLF & THE HOWLING COMMANDOS #2
This second issue of the mini-series shifts its focus more heavily towards the “Wolf” aspect, embracing a gothic and eerie atmosphere. It reads like a classic monster movie, brimming with gothic elements and featuring a mix of monster hunting spies and a plethora of monstrous creatures. This issue marks a significant improvement over its predecessor in terms of excitement and engagement. The comic’s emphasis on the spooky and supernatural elements creates a more thrilling and immersive experience, making it a standout in the series.
CHILDREN OF THE VAULT #4
This issue stands out as a notable success in the “Fall of X” storyline. The team-up of Cable and Bishop brings high-energy sci-fi solutions to the forefront, addressing the technological threats posed by the Children of the Vault. Their victory is both satisfying and meaningful, paying off various plot points established earlier in the miniseries. The comic cleverly reinterprets the “big gun” trope associated with both protagonists, providing an interesting sci-fi twist. The conclusion of the issue effectively repositions the Children as antagonists, adding clarity to their role in the overarching mutant narrative. Despite some disconnection from wider events in the universe, such as the ignoring of global catastrophes, this might be seen as an intentional aspect of the series’ commentary. Overall, “Children of the Vault #4” is praised for its tight storytelling and engaging sci-fi elements, making it a highlight of the miniseries
This issue highlights the ongoing struggle of Matt Murdock to balance his life as a priest and caretaker with his vigilante activities as Daredevil. Despite the initial presentation of a change in his status quo, the comic reverts back to familiar territory with Daredevil confronting street thugs, reflecting the recurring theme of balancing his dual identities. This issue underscores the toll this duality takes on Matt’s personal life. A notable return of a familiar character at the end of the issue hints at upcoming conflicts, adding a layer of anticipation. However, the slow return to the demonic elements introduced in the new #1 issue suggests a deliberate pacing, possibly building up to a more significant development in the storyline. The issue appears to be setting the stage for deeper exploration of Matt’s character and the challenges he faces in juggling his responsibilities.
DARK X-MEN #4
The fourth issue of this five-part series starts unusually with Gambit recapping events to his wife Rogue, who had not appeared in the series before. This recap seems somewhat unnecessary given the series’ advanced stage. However, the narrative quickly escalates as Steve Foxe, Jonas Scharf, and Frank Martin introduce a darker, almost horror-like tone, fitting for a story involving demons. The ending of this issue effectively complements the dark atmosphere established. A significant moment involves Chasm (Ben Reilly) rejecting Orchis’ rescue, adding complexity to his character. This nuance suggests potential paths for future redemption or alliances, particularly against the mutants he despises. The issue stands out for its darker themes and character development, particularly in exploring the motivations and intricacies of its characters.
DEADPOOL: SEVEN SLAUGHTERS #1
This oversized issue, featuring multiple short stories, unfortunately fails to live up to its potential. The format, seemingly ideal for Deadpool’s quirky style, results in an uninspiring compilation, with many stories lacking ambition or engagement. Despite the involvement of creators with a history with the character, only a few stories stand out. Cullen Bunn and Phillip Sevy’s opening story is noted as the highlight, effectively using the format and multiverse concepts in an entertaining manner. Surprisingly, Rob Liefeld’s contribution is also among the better stories, distinguishing itself in contrast to the otherwise lackluster content. Overall, “Deadpool: Seven Slaughters #1” is seen as a missed opportunity to showcase the character’s unique appeal, with most of its content falling short of expectations.
FANTASTIC FOUR #13
This issue concludes a two-part story with a dinosaur-themed twist on Marvel superheroes, marking it as a standout in the current Fantastic Four series. Set on Earth, the narrative focuses on The Thing encountering his human Avengers battling against dinosaur versions of the Fantastic Four, while two Doctor Dooms confront each other. The new mix of characters and scenarios introduces fresh challenges, effectively handled with the ingenuity characteristic of Ryan North’s writing. A highlight of this issue is the emphasis on The Thing, showcasing his comical relationship with Doom, a dynamic that shines in this dinosaur-themed storyline. Fantastic Four #12 and #13 are praised for their colorful ideas, emphasis on more than just physical battles, and a focus on familial relationships. Despite a minor visual critique about The Thing’s appearance, the issue is highly anticipated for re-reading due to its inventive and engaging storytelling.
GHOST RIDER #20
This comic stands out for its original and bizarre plot elements, making it a memorable read. While the quality of the issue is solid, it’s the introduction of one of Marvel’s most outlandish storylines that sets it apart. The issue splits focus between a flashback exploring Talia’s past and a present timeline that demands the reader’s attention. The current storyline unfolds in a wildly unconventional manner, adding a layer of demented creativity rarely seen in comics. Ghost Rider #20 is distinguished by its unique approach, embracing the strange and unusual in a way that positively impacts the reader’s experience.
THE IMMORTAL THOR #4
This issue opens with a powerful first page that could be a contender for the best opening of any comic book in 2023. Al Ewing and Martin Coccolo create a captivating scene featuring Toranos, the god of the storm, with a poetic narrative that metaphorically addresses climate change. This homage to Jack Kirby goes beyond artistic imitation, capturing the essence of Kirby’s spirit. The comic excels in its portrayal of the new Thor corps, highlighting the differences and camaraderie among Thor and his allies against a significant threat. The humor and playfulness juxtaposed with the serious danger create a compelling dynamic. The comic’s use of a two-page spread emphasizes the scale of the threat they face. Additionally, the reintroduction of a modern Marvel villain adds a clever twist to the narrative. “The Immortal Thor #4” is acclaimed for its balance of superhero action, humor, and thematic depth, making it an exemplary issue in the genre.
JEAN GREY #4
The final issue of the series by Louise Simonson, Bernard Chang, Marcelo Maiolo, and Ariana Maher, showcases the depth and complexity of Jean Grey’s character. This issue skillfully revisits and reframes Jean’s past traumas, contributing to her newfound sense of calm and confidence in the Krakow era. The storytelling creates space for genuinely healing moments, effectively tying together previous narrative threads. The success of this issue hinges on its recontextualization of past events, which, when executed well, enhances the overall satisfaction of the narrative. Chang and Maiolo’s artwork, especially in the sequences involving the Phoenix, is particularly noteworthy. Despite a slightly slower start, the issue concludes the series on a high note, leaving readers anticipating future developments for Jean and the X-Men. The issue stands out for its emotional depth and thoughtful exploration of Jean’s character growth.
RED GOBLIN #10
In its finale, “Red Goblin” revisits its beginnings, achieving a gratifyingly full-circle moment for its main characters. Writer Alex Paknadel’s decision to delay Dylan’s return pays off, adding complexity to his reunion with Normie, a character who has undergone significant changes. This narrative choice lends authenticity and depth to their interactions, despite limited shared screen time in the series. While some dialogue exchanges might suffer from awkwardness, possibly due to the art’s proportions, artists Chris Campana, colorist David Curiel, and inker Roberto Poggi excel in depicting high-energy action sequences. These sequences contribute to the development of Normie and Rascal both as individuals and as a team. Overall, “Red Goblin” is praised for being a surprisingly delightful series in 2023, successfully delivering a compelling conclusion.
SILVER SURFER REBIRTH: LEGACY #3
The issue highlights a common issue in cosmic sagas, where the inclusion of characters like Silver Surfer, Thanos, and Galactus can lead to a sense of repetitiveness across stories. While “Rebirth” introduces an intriguing aspect with the dueling Surfers, it still struggles to break free from the familiar tropes often seen in galactic narratives. This repetition can be frustrating, as it fails to deliver fresh or unique storylines within the vast cosmic setting. Despite the novel elements brought by the dueling Surfers, the series could benefit from exploring new themes or perspectives to distinguish itself from other similar tales in the genre.
SPINE-TINGLING SPIDER-MAN #2
After a captivating debut, this issue continues to navigate the eerie and mysterious world Peter Parker finds himself in. While the initial issue by Saladin Ahmed and Juan Ferreyra introduced a stunning twist to the classic Spider-Man scenario, the second issue delves deeper into the increasingly dire situation Peter faces. The comic maintains a strong sense of isolation and escalating stakes, with mounting questions adding to the suspense. An early shock in the story challenges readers’ expectations about Peter’s journey, though the conclusion of the issue veers towards predictability. Despite this, the path to the end remains unconventional, hinting at potential surprises in future installments. The series’ ability to subvert expectations is key to its success, and while the second issue may not match the debut in impact, it continues to set a promising direction for the series.
STAR WARS: DARK DROIDS #4
This issue provides deeper insight into the overarching plan and the existential crisis faced by the droid at the center of the storyline. It reflects a self-awareness, mirroring the audience’s questions about the purpose and timing of the events unfolding in recent Star Wars comics. The narrative explores the theme of futility, with even the antagonistic scourge questioning the meaning of its actions. This existential and expositional approach adds depth to the story, bringing the reader closer to understanding the motives behind the crossover event. As the Dark Droids event approaches its conclusion, there’s a sense of anticipation for a satisfying resolution, coupled with a hint of uncertainty from the creators themselves. Despite some doubts, the series has shown moments of intrigue and enjoyment.
STAR WARS: DOCTOR APHRA #38
In this issue, Doctor Aphra faces the challenge of helping Magna Tolvan, who is under the influence of the scourge. Aphra’s quest to find allies to sever Tolvan’s cybernetic connection is set against the backdrop of the scourge expanding its influence. The narrative suggests that Aphra’s expertise in cybernetics could be crucial to resolving the overarching conflict of the Dark Droids event. This issue is significant as it teases a deeper understanding of the event’s purpose beyond the ancient entity’s desire to inhabit living flesh. Doctor Aphra’s character and her unique position within the Star Wars universe are highlighted as central to the unfolding saga. The issue solidifies the importance of the “Doctor Aphra” series in the larger crossover event, positioning Aphra and her associates as key figures in the Star Wars galaxy.
STAR WARS: THE MANDALORIAN SEASON 2 #6
This issue captures a pivotal moment from the second season of “The Mandalorian,” as Din Djarin and Grogu visit a sacred Jedi site and encounter Boba Fett, Fennec Shand, and stormtroopers. An unexpected alliance forms between Djarin, Fett, and Shand, leading to a thrilling battle against the stormtroopers. This episode, renowned for reintroducing Boba Fett to Star Wars fans, is brought to life in the comic adaptation with an emphasis on visual storytelling. The artwork by Steven Cummings successfully translates the episode’s dynamic and intense action into the comic format. The illustrations convey the frenetic and engaging nature of the battles, providing readers with a visually satisfying experience that mirrors the excitement of the TV series. The comic stays true to the original script and story, with its strength lying in the effective portrayal of the action-packed scenes.
STAR WARS: VISIONS – PEACH MOMOKO #1
Peach Momoko #1: In this installment, Peach Momoko presents a new threat in the Star Wars universe, stepping into the void left by the Sith. Momoko’s unique artistic style sets her work apart in the realm of Star Wars comics. Her illustrations are ambitious, surreal, and visually stunning, capturing the mystical aspects of the franchise in an ethereal manner. The narrative is told entirely through visuals, eschewing dialogue, which places a significant emphasis on Momoko’s artwork to convey the story. While this approach results in a visually rich experience, it may pose challenges for readers seeking a more straightforward or conventional narrative. The reliance on highly conceptual visual storytelling can make the plot less accessible, particularly for those accustomed to more explicit storytelling. However, for readers who appreciate art-driven narratives, Momoko’s work offers a unique and breathtaking exploration of the Star Wars universe.
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #1
This issue seems to struggle with establishing a compelling narrative or introducing fresh elements to the “Superior Spider-Man” concept. The comic is criticized for its lack of innovation and failure to lay the groundwork for an intriguing story. It appears to rely heavily on nostalgia, yet fails to recapture the excitement associated with the original concept. The issue is perceived as uninspired, merely existing without making a significant impact or offering anything new to the series. This approach is seen as a missed opportunity, as the comic does not fulfill the potential of revisiting the “Superior Spider-Man” storyline, nor does it provide a memorable experience for new or returning readers.
UNCANNY AVENGERS #4
This issue marks a notable improvement in the series, thanks to its dynamic action and efficient storytelling. Artist Javier Garrón and colorist Morry Hollowell excel in the latter part of the issue, delivering vibrant and lively pages that effectively capture the characters’ essences. These spreads are highlighted as some of the best in the series. Writer Gerry Duggan introduces a significant revelation in this issue, which is poised to leave Marvel fans in a state of surprise. However, the impact of this major reveal on the overall storyline remains uncertain. It’s described as “baffling,” indicating that its full implications and effectiveness in the narrative are yet to be determined. The issue stands out for its artistic achievements and the bold narrative choice, though its long-term success in storytelling is still to be seen.
ARCADE KINGS #5
The finale of “Arcade Kings” successfully blends the melodrama of professional wrestling and anime with the exciting visuals and action typical of classic arcade fighting games. The series is praised for its consistent delivery of engaging content, though it’s noted that the story feels constrained within the five-issue format. There’s a sense that the narrative could have been more expansively explored in a longer series or an ongoing format. A hint at a potential sequel in the finale raises hopes for further exploration of the story. The desire for a continuation speaks to the series’ appeal and the interest it has generated among its audience.
The third issue of “Coda” presents a more complex and somewhat convoluted narrative compared to its predecessors. The story juggles multiple plotlines, including Hum’s dealings with a religious group, Serka’s personal challenges, and their relationship dynamics, particularly with Serka’s pregnancy. While the comic touches on profound themes like the manipulation of belief and the resilience of faith, the execution is somewhat muddled. The reader may find it challenging to navigate through the various story elements, which are not always clearly presented. Additionally, the uniformity in the art’s color palette does little to aid in differentiating these intertwined plotlines. Despite the thematic depth, the structural issues and lack of clarity in storytelling may require more effort from the reader to fully grasp and appreciate the narrative.
THE CULL #4
This penultimate issue introduces a significant plot development, with the protagonists returning to an invaded world. This twist is highlighted as the most intriguing element of the series thus far. However, there’s a sense of missed opportunity, as the series is nearing its end, leaving limited room to explore this newly introduced scenario. The sudden shift in the narrative at such a late stage in the series makes the fourth issue feel more like the start of a story rather than the lead-up to its conclusion. This situation creates anticipation for how the series will resolve its narrative in the final issue, especially given the late introduction of this compelling plot point.
THE DEVIANT #1
This comic excels in offering a multifaceted reading experience. On one level, it provides an engaging murder mystery set during the Christmas season, perfectly suited for a dark, wintry night. Beyond the surface-level intrigue, the story delves into deeper, more uncomfortable themes, prompting readers to reflect on aspects of the world they might not have considered before. This dual approach makes “The Deviant” stand out, offering both an entertaining read and a thought-provoking exploration of its themes, elevating it beyond a typical murder mystery narrative.
The issue serves as a reminiscent throwback to the style of comics popular in the 1990s, particularly those published by Image Comics. It echoes the exaggerated elements of those stories, featuring impossibly large weapons, over-the-top action, and a plethora of secret black-ops teams. While the narration occasionally veers towards a clichéd “old man yells at cloud” tone, and the artwork can be overly intricate, the comic distinguishes itself with a level of self-awareness and visceral intensity that was often lacking in similar books from that era. These qualities add a certain appeal to “Dutch #0,” enough to pique interest in the upcoming first issue. The comic seems to knowingly play with and update the conventions of its 90s predecessors, offering a modern take on a familiar style.
In this six-issue miniseries, “Fishflies #3” feels almost like a conclusion rather than a midpoint. Jeff Lemire’s creation of an unsettling small-town atmosphere is constant, whether it’s through scenes of a police officer confronting an abusive father or in the seemingly normal interactions with his wife. The dialogue and the distorted depiction of characters contribute to a pervasive sense of dread, suggesting that something is fundamentally wrong in the town. Despite this discomfort, the issue manages to weave a dreamlike quality into its narrative. The ending, which comes closest to a happy resolution in the context of this series, surprisingly fits well within the established tone. The issue skillfully balances the unsettling elements with a sense of surreal tranquility, making it a standout in the series.
THE FORGED #6
This issue ramps up the action as five assassins target the Forged team. The narrative is marked by intense action sequences, unfolding simultaneously as each team member faces unique challenges. Stripped of their mechs and gear, the characters prove their formidable skills, reinforcing the Forged’s fearsome reputation. This shift in pacing not only showcases the team’s abilities but also sets the stage for the upcoming third arc, promising new missions, allies, and challenges. The series’ use of spreads in its oversized format is noted for producing some of the most visually impressive layouts in recent comics. “The Forged #6” continues the series’ trend of combining stunning artwork with a good sense of humor and ambitious science fiction storytelling, assuring readers of its continued quality.
GEIGER: GROUND ZERO #1
This issue embarks on extensive worldbuilding, yet remains accessible to new readers. The narrative incorporates elements that resonate with real-world situations or plausible events. The story focuses on the Glowing Man’s quest to find his family while evading those who hunt him for being a radioactive entity. His origin story is portrayed as particularly tragic, compounded by the fact that he is from a foreign country. The creative team of Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson brings a wealth of talent to the series. Fans of their previous works are likely to find “Geiger: Ground Zero #1” appealing for its storytelling and worldbuilding, making it a recommended read for both new and long-standing followers of the creative team’s work.
JUNIOR BAKER THE RIGHTEOUS FAKER #3
This issue stands out for its visually stunning artwork and innovative layouts, making the act of turning each page an engaging experience in itself. The artistic approach is described as “trippy” and “experimental,” enhancing the overall appeal of the comic. However, the narrative focuses more on exploring complex, abstract concepts than on a conventional mystery plot. This emphasis on headier themes over a straightforward storyline results in a reading experience that is more challenging and potentially less accessible for some readers. While the visual aspects of “Junior Baker The Righteous Faker #3” are highly praised, the story’s complexity may require more effort from the audience to fully appreciate and understand the underlying ideas.
This issue features a remarkable crossover with the character Spawn, integrating him into the already rich world and mythology of “Killadelphia.” The presence of Spawn unexpectedly brings a new dimension to the ongoing conflict, which now encompasses a broader cosmic battle between Heaven and Hell in Philadelphia. The narrative expands beyond the initial vampires versus humans theme, exploring larger, more complex themes while maintaining focus on the core issues and social commentary. The crossover is executed in a way that rejuvenates the story, making it feel both fresh and familiar. The artwork in this issue is also noted for its exceptional quality, contributing to the overall impact of the comic. “Killadelphia #31” is commended for its ambitious storytelling and successful integration of a well-known character from another series.
LOTUS LAND #1
Boom’s new cyberpunk noir, “Lotus Land,” presents an intriguing setting reminiscent of “Blade Runner,” promising an emotionally driven narrative. The story centers on Bennie Strikman, a retired detective, who is drawn back into action to investigate attacks on a critical computer program known as the Keeper Program. This program is crucial to the functioning of society in the story’s universe. The first issue establishes the premise without revealing everything, creating intrigue and anticipation for future developments. While not flawless, the initial issue is solid and effectively sets up the cyberpunk noir storyline. The comic is indicative of Boom’s strength in exploring unique worlds that might not find a place in other publishers’ lineups, with “Lotus Land” exemplifying this capability.
As the second-to-last issue in the series, “Scrapper #5” encounters some challenges with pacing. The narrative starts off slowly, then abruptly accelerates, combining an emotional twist with a rapid series of events leading up to the finale. This uneven pacing affects the development of the story’s emotional arcs, causing some of the character growth and thematic elements to feel rushed or unnatural. Scrapper and the cats face significant challenges in their efforts to liberate strays and thwart the malevolent plans of SMITE. However, due to the pacing issues, these important plot points and emotional lessons don’t have enough room to be fully explored or feel genuinely integrated into the story. The issue risks feeling like a placeholder, as it tries to cover necessary plot developments and set up for a climactic final issue. The ending of the series is left open to interpretation, with potential for either a heart-wrenching or uplifting conclusion.
TIME BEFORE TIME #29
The final issue of “Time Before Time” provides a satisfying conclusion to the series, marked by strong character work and a resonant message. The narrative successfully engages the reader, offering a compelling wrap-up to the story. However, there is a sentiment of unfulfilled potential, as the series concludes with less than 30 issues. This leaves a feeling of untapped possibilities within the richly crafted world of “Time Before Time.” Despite this, the series as a whole is highly regarded, with each panel being appreciated for its storytelling and artistic execution. The comic is recommended for anyone with an interest in comics, particularly those who enjoy immersive and well-developed narratives. The conclusion, though satisfying, leaves a lingering wish that the series could have explored more within its intriguing universe.