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 #139 delivers a much-needed departure from the tumultuous ‘Gotham War’ arc, a storyline that left many readers puzzled over its intentions and outcomes—most notably the portrayal of Batman as a near maniacal figure and the controversial fate of Catwoman. This latest issue attempts a course correction, stripping away the complexities for a more straightforward narrative. It finds Batman assuming the trope of the detached, impassive vigilante, zeroing in on his arch-nemesis, the Joker.
This Joker has conceived a convoluted scheme with the intention of luring out the ‘authentic’ Batman, invoking the obscure and peculiar Batman of Zur En Arrh. At first glance, this premise could have injected a novel twist into the classic Batman versus Joker conflict. Yet, therein lies the issue: Chip Zdarsky’s narrative thrust appears to be faltering. The initial promise of his tenure, featuring a psychologically evolved Batman, has regressed into an overindulgence in the Zur En Arrh mythology, which now feels like a storytelling prop that’s overstayed its welcome.
Moreover, the dialogue and inner musings of Batman, presented as intentionally campy, miss the mark. The attempt to revive a Silver Age Batman quirkiness neither advances the story nor resonates with the gravity that one expects from a modern Batman tale. Despite this, there is a redeeming quality in the visual department. The artwork within these pages is dynamic, imbued with vibrancy and life—a stark contrast to the narrative’s lack of the same.
Accompanying the main story is a backup feature spotlighting Vandal Savage. It’s a narrative that achieves a level of mediocrity that surprisingly stands out in light of the main plot’s darker tone. While it doesn’t salvage the overall quality of Batman #139, it adds a layer of variance that’s somewhat welcome.
BIRDS OF PREY #3
The third installment of ‘Birds of Prey’ soars above expectations as the storyline plunges into the mythological realm of Themyscira. Kelly Thompson demonstrates a mastery of narrative balance, juggling a cast of characters that continues to expand and become more intricate with each issue. The team dynamics are explored with deft characterization and interaction that bring depth to each member, making them stand out even in a crowd of iconic figures.
Leonardo Romero’s artwork steals the spotlight with scenes that can only be described as a visual feast. The combat sequences are not only choreographed with precision but are also depicted with an artistic flair that adds weight to every punch and kick. Romero’s attention to detail and the fluidity of motion contribute to a cinematic reading experience.
‘Birds of Prey’ issue #3 solidifies the comic’s standing as one of DC’s most compelling current offerings, intertwining compelling storytelling with artistic excellence that honors its source material while charting new territory.
BLUE BEETLE #3
‘Blue Beetle #3’ is a tapestry of cosmic intrigue and supernatural battles, woven by the artistic genius of Adrian Gutierrez, the vibrant palette of Will Quintana, and the distinctive lettering of Lucas Gattoni. This creative team elevates the narrative, masterfully capturing the magical expanses of the DC Universe. Their collaboration breathes life into the mythos surrounding the Scarab, merging aesthetic appeal with narrative depth.
One cannot overlook the contributions of Josh Trujillo, whose writing enriches Jaime Reyes’s world, fleshing out his circle of friends and foes. The reintroduction of Traci 13 adds a layer of complexity and charm to the character dynamics at play. Amid the beautifully rendered action sequences, the comic manages to embed essential backstory and plot points that are as engaging as they are informative.
The series maintains a sense of momentum, leaving the reader in anticipation of how teased plot lines will unfold. To this point, ‘Blue Beetle #3’ does not merely meet the high bar set by its predecessors—it vaults over it, promising an even grander spectacle in the chapters to come.
FIRE & ICE: WELCOME TO SMALLVILLE #3
‘Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville #3’ captures the essence of a superheroic situational comedy, infusing the small-town ambiance with a quirky charm that’s as endearing as it is hilarious. This issue escalates the comedic antics with the introduction of the iconic Jimmy Olsen, who arrives to review the local salon—now an impromptu gathering spot for lower-tier supervillains, thanks to Fire’s offbeat and questionable decision to start a rehab program.
The concept is as outlandish as it is delightful, setting the stage for a series of mishaps and lighthearted chaos that harkens back to the jovial absurdity of the Silver Age of comics. The narrative is peppered with snappy gags and witty repartee, although Ambush Bug’s meta-commentary may not land with everyone, his presence adds another layer of zaniness to the mix.
What truly stands out in this installment is the seamless shift from levity to a sudden, gripping darkness with the final pages’ cliffhanger. The creative team—Starer, Bustos, and Bonvillain—orchestrate this tonal transformation with finesse, harmonizing the writing, artwork, and coloring to create a surprising and captivating twist. It’s a storytelling pivot that is as unexpected as it is skillfully executed, leaving readers in eager anticipation of what’s next.
ICON VS. HARDWARE #5
In ‘Icon vs. Hardware #5,’ the momentum of the series culminates in a way that can be described as frenetically paced, perhaps too much so. The issue seems to race through resolutions of its multiple plot threads, tidying up conflicts with a haste that doesn’t allow them to fully resonate. While it’s clear that the aim is to transition into grander story arcs within the Milestone universe, the rapid narrative progression comes at the expense of depth and development.
The issue attempts to maintain its sense of fun with a steady stream of quips, yet this sometimes detracts from the gravitas of the scenes. Additionally, some visual inconsistencies, particularly with the characters’ anatomical depictions, disrupt the flow and detract from the overall impact of the art.
Despite these critiques, ‘Icon vs. Hardware #5’ still delivers moments of enjoyment. The crossover potential of these characters continues to intrigue and entertain, even if this particular issue doesn’t quite live up to the high standard set by previous installments.
THE JOKER: THE MAN WHO STOPPED LAUGHING #12
The finale of ‘The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing’ is a fitting conclusion for the enigmatic master of chaos. This issue brings to a close the tension between the dueling Jokers, culminating in a climactic showdown that’s both visually and narratively engaging. The dynamic interplay between the two Jokers injects a dark humor into the fray, balancing the sinister undertones with a much-needed levity.
While the confrontation delivers with some imaginative and well-executed set pieces, the conclusion may leave readers divided. The ambiguity of the narrative resolution might be seen as true to the Joker’s unpredictable nature, yet it also risks leaving those in search of concrete answers a tad dissatisfied.
Comparing this series to its predecessor, it seems that the initial Joker series may have had a stronger impact on multiple fronts. Nevertheless, ‘The Man Who Stopped Laughing’ stands as a commendable sequel, continuing to explore the depths of the Joker’s twisted psyche. These series have consistently provided fresh perspectives on one of DC’s most iconic villains, satisfying longtime fans with their unique and thought-provoking takes on Batman’s arch-nemesis.
POISON IVY #16
‘Poison Ivy #16’ circles back to the origins of this eco-thriller series, tethering past and present in an ominous loop that sees Ivy’s once carefully orchestrated plan spiraling into chaos. The series has followed Ivy’s trek across the United States with the mission to unleash lamia spores, her radical attempt at environmental restoration which hints at apocalyptic consequences. This issue heightens the stakes with a foreboding visual of fungal zombies—a grotesque byproduct of her actions—descending upon Gotham, an unforeseen and grim twist that wrests control from Ivy’s once confident grasp.
What distinguishes this issue is its piercing reflection on contemporary societal woes, framed through the day-to-day struggle of a character named Chuck. He’s the embodiment of the working-class struggle—overworked, underappreciated, and cornered by a system that forces him to choose between immediate survival and long-term health. His plight is juxtaposed with the escalating environmental disaster, creating dual narratives of decay: one ecological, one socio-economic.
Wilson’s writing adeptly juggles these parallel narratives, embedding within the horror and chaos a potent critique of late-capitalist society. The artwork by Takara with Prianto’s coloring elevates this juxtaposition, crafting panels that are visually stunning yet underscore the narrative’s nightmarish underpinnings. The storytelling here is as much about the external dangers of the world as it is about the internal decay of societal systems.
‘Shazam! #5’ delves deeper into the cosmic chaos, stirring ancient deities into the modern-day mix with a narrative that amplifies the ongoing saga. Mary Marvel’s character shines as a beacon of reason and resilience, offering a striking contrast to her brother’s more volatile inclinations. Their dynamic becomes the crux of an issue that pits them against otherworldly foes, from cosmic emperors to mischievous moon monarchs and criminal apes, leading to an array of challenges that demand innovative resolutions.
Waid’s storytelling prowess remains evident as he breathes new life into Silver Age motifs, crafting a tale that feels both nostalgic and sharply contemporary. The role of the gods, particularly Mercury, infuses a severe tone to the otherwise whimsical adventure, hinting at underlying themes of control and power.
The artwork by Dan Mora is remarkable, depicting high-octane violence with a finesse that maintains the book’s accessibility to readers of all ages. His depictions manage to be simultaneously intense and tasteful, a testament to his ability to balance the book’s intrinsic light-heartedness with its more severe undertones. After this cosmic foray, it’s clear that ‘Shazam!’ is building towards a climactic convergence of plot threads, promising even more for readers to anticipate from this formidable creative ensemble.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #37
In ‘The Amazing Spider-Man #37’, the narrative continues to weave humor with enigma as Peter Parker and Norman Osborn find themselves vexed by the bizarre intrusions of Limbo’s denizens. The levity that was a hallmark of issue #36 persists, but Wells and McGuinness innovate on the formula, injecting fresh dynamics into the unfolding mystery.
Particularly striking is the employment of flashbacks, rendered with a stylistic nod to the Silver Age of comics, complete with an introduction by Rek-Rap. These segments are delineated with distinctive inking and coloring techniques, setting them apart visually and tonally from the primary narrative. McGuinness manages to pay homage to the era while also playing into Rek-Rap’s role as the narrator of his own twisted, noir-tinged history.
Peter’s reluctant engagement with what initially seems to be a nuisance, only to discover it’s a much more significant issue, sets the stage for an impactful revelation in the upcoming issue #38. As the “Gang War” arc looms on the horizon, it’s the character of Rek-Rap that captures the reader’s imagination, embodying the whimsical yet ominous tone that has become a signature of this series. The anticipation for what’s to come is palpable, with the storytelling adeptly balancing the escalating tension with a desire to delve deeper into Rek-Rap’s peculiar existence.
CAPTAIN MARVEL: DARK TEMPEST #5
‘Captain Marvel: Dark Tempest #5’ brings a less-than-satisfactory close to a series that has struggled to find its footing from the start. The timing of its conclusion alongside the cinematic debut of ‘The Marvels’ is somewhat ironic, given that moviegoers may indeed find more to appreciate on the big screen than the pages of this issue offer. Throughout the series, readers have encountered dialogue fraught with clichés and a narrative that feels hollow, compounded by artwork that, while occasionally referencing greater works within the Marvel universe, often ends up feeling overwrought and messy.
The final issue doesn’t seem to deviate from this disappointing trend. Rather than providing a grand finale or a redeeming crescendo, it continues the same patterns that have plagued the series—platitudes that fail to resonate and chaotic art that detracts from the story rather than enhancing it. The sense of relief that accompanies the series’ conclusion indicates a missed opportunity to provide fans with a compelling story worthy of the character’s legacy. It’s a sentiment shared by many who held high hopes for Captain Marvel’s journey but found themselves disenchanted by the execution.
Jonathan Hickman’s ‘G.O.D.S. #2’ adeptly furthers the sophisticated narrative introduced in its debut, solidifying new characters and concepts within the established Marvel Universe tapestry. Hickman’s skillful approach makes these novel elements feel like they’ve been part of Marvel lore all along, largely through the familiar perspective of Doctor Strange, who serves as a bridge between the reader and these new mythos.
The issue shifts its focus to Aiko Maki, a former associate of the charismatic mage Wyn, and her life within the Centum—a scientific organization of Hickman’s creation. Maki’s portrayal is intricate and nuanced, exhibiting a fierce loyalty to her cause, juxtaposed with a bold willingness to challenge authority. This character depth adds a layer of intrigue and human complexity to the grand scale of Hickman’s worldbuilding.
Artists Valerio Schti and Marte Gracia complement Hickman’s narrative ambition with rich, visually compelling illustrations. Their ability to render even the most mundane settings—such as a library’s sub-basement—into something extraordinary and awe-inspiring speaks to their talent. Moreover, the issue begins to weave threads from Hickman’s previous work, including his seminal ‘Avengers’ run and references to ancient cosmic entities, promising a rich, interwoven narrative that is both familiar and fresh. As the series delves deeper into the mythos of G.O.D.S., it becomes increasingly engrossing, showcasing Hickman’s mastery at expanding the Marvel Universe.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #8
‘Guardians of the Galaxy #8’ marks a pivotal point in the “Grootfall” narrative arc, elevating the emotional stakes and enriching character development. The series excels in exploring the nuances of the team dynamics, delving into the individual and collective psyches of its characters. Each storyline beat is crafted with care, contributing to an overarching sense of urgency and emotional gravity as the Guardians face their latest trials.
Kev Walker’s artistry is particularly noteworthy, infusing the pages with a raw and earnest energy that mirrors the narrative’s emotional tone. The illustrations possess a scrappy, vibrant quality that aligns with the Guardians’ own imperfections and strengths, visually propelling the story and its characters towards an uncertain but compelling future.
Anticipation is high for what lies ahead as ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ promises to continue this deep, character-driven approach, weaving personal struggles with cosmic battles in a way that is engaging and heartfelt. The readership is left with a genuine curiosity and excitement for the evolution of the series, trusting in the creative team to deliver a story that remains true to the spirit of the beloved team while exploring new depths.
MARVEL UNLEASHED #4
The grand conclusion of ‘Marvel Unleashed #4′ brings not just a climactic showdown but a surprising emotional depth that perhaps few anticipated from a miniseries featuring Marvel’s menagerie of animal heroes. Kyle Starks’ script is imbued with a heartfelt charm that elevates this finale beyond a simple battle of good versus evil. His dialogue and character interactions are so finely tuned that they resonate with a sincerity that can catch the reader off guard, prompting an emotional response that is both unexpected and wholly earned.
Jesus Hervas steps up to match this narrative prowess with art that brings an unexpected gravitas to the proceedings. His panels are a feast for the eyes, capturing the epic scope typically reserved for Marvel’s more human-centric stories, and in many ways surpassing them. The fight against Blackheart isn’t just another battle; it’s rendered with a dynamic intensity that ensures these animal heroes receive a send-off that is both visually stunning and narratively satisfying. This issue serves as a capstone to a ‘wonderful, weird’ series that, while over, leaves a lasting impression of the perfect storytelling balance.
For readers with a nostalgia for classic Punisher tales, ‘Punisher #1’ might offer a familiar comfort, but therein lies the crux of its challenges. The narrative is competently constructed, fitting snugly within the expected framework of a Punisher storyline. Yet, it also borders on the derivative, walking a path well-trodden with only minor deviations. Joe Garrison stepping into the role of The Punisher brings with it a hint of potential for novelty, but the debut issue stops short of realizing it.
The story feels like it could easily interchange Joe Garrison for Frank Castle with minimal impact, which suggests a missed opportunity to differentiate this new iteration in a meaningful way. Readers are left with the impression of a comic that could be exciting and fresh but presently reads like a retelling of a familiar Punisher narrative. The series shows promise, but whether it can deliver on that promise remains to be seen. The inaugural issue leaves us on the precipice of hope that it might evolve into a story that carves out a unique identity in the larger Punisher mythos.
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #40
This installment of ‘Star Wars: Darth Vader’ presents a narrative conundrum, intertwining the familiar and the new in a dance of what we know and what could be. The issue sets a stage for a showdown that any ‘Star Wars’ fan knows can’t end with finality, yet it draws us in with the tantalizing possibility of ‘what if.’ As Vader regains his formidable prowess in the Force, he challenges Emperor Palpatine, engaging in a conflict that feels both thrilling and fated.
The comic expertly plays upon our foreknowledge of these characters’ destinies, offering a confrontation that’s both exhilarating to witness and yet undercut by the inescapable outcome predetermined by the film saga. It plays with the irony of knowing how Palpatine’s story ends in ‘Return of the Jedi,’ juxtaposing it against the complex and intense battle we see on the page. The artwork and pacing create a sense of grandeur and intensity befitting a duel between master and apprentice, Sith Lord versus Sith Emperor.
The spectacle of Vader’s combat prowess is a feast for the eyes, and the storytelling through the visuals provides a riveting experience for Vader aficionados. As it ties into the broader ‘Dark Droids’ crossover event, the issue provides context and continuity that enrich the ongoing narrative. It’s an issue that shows much more than it tells, allowing the action to speak volumes, and while it may not surprise with the outcome, it delivers a deeply satisfying chapter in the Vader saga for fans who revel in the character’s darkest moments of power and defiance.
‘Thanos #1’ intriguingly sidesteps expectations by keeping the presence of its titular character sparse yet impactful. His fleeting appearances are potent, each one carrying the weight of his formidable reputation, and his shadow looms large over the entirety of the issue. This narrative choice heightens the anticipation and dread that accompanies any mention of the Mad Titan, making his eventual involvement all the more foreboding.
The emergence of a new iteration of Marvel’s Illuminati in response to Thanos’ actions sets the stage for a clash of intellects and power. Their enigmatic decisions concerning the protagonist, Roberta Marshall, leave readers with a mystery that is tantalizing in its opaqueness. The issue teases connections and conflicts that extend beyond the visible canvas, hinting at deeper, more complex relationships with Thanos. This first issue serves as a compelling setup, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and intrigue that beckons readers to delve further into the unfolding saga of power, consequence, and cosmic dread.
STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC #1
The inauguration of ‘Star Wars: The High Republic #1’ marks a tumultuous epoch for the Jedi, rife with tragedy and trials that have tested the very fabric of the Order. As the narrative unfolds, readers are treated to a masterclass in action sequences that resonate with the rich lore of the Star Wars universe. The pacing is expertly crafted, ensuring that the reader is swept along in a current of storytelling that is both invigorating and utterly accessible. Writer Cavan Scott is tasked with laying down the groundwork for future tales in this burgeoning chapter of the saga, and he approaches this with a deft hand that promises much while still grounding the reader in the moment.
Despite the brevity of this issue, it stands as a testament to Scott’s ability to breathe life into the mythos of the High Republic, offering enough of a narrative foothold to tantalize without overwhelming. There’s a deliberate restraint in the storytelling, a promise of depth and development that whispers of grander tales to come. This opening issue is a testament to the enduring allure of the Jedi and their struggles, and it establishes a solid foundation for what is poised to be another captivating wave of High Republic stories.
STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC – SHADOWS OF STARLIGHT #2
In the second issue of ‘Shadows of Starlight,’ Avar Kriss emerges as a standout amidst the pantheon of High Republic heroes. The depth afforded to her character in this installment is nothing short of enthralling. As readers are invited to explore the nuances of her persona, they are also plunged into the dark underbelly of the Nihil-controlled sectors, a region teeming with chaos and lawlessness that starkly contrasts with the order of the Republic.
The exploration of this shadowy dominion is gripping, offering a look into the Nihil’s influence and the resulting societal impact. The narrative threads woven by the writers cover extensive ground, yet every page feels purposeful, every panel brimming with substance. This issue is a vibrant tapestry that enriches the High Republic lore, creating a sense of breadth and depth to the universe that is both impressive and profoundly engaging.
UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN #3
‘Uncanny Spider-Man #3’ masterfully condenses a saga of Nightcrawler’s adventures that could have easily spanned a year’s worth of storytelling into a handful of rich, engaging issues. This storyline delivers an emotional rollercoaster, replete with a doomed romance, the unveiling of dark familial secrets, and the emergence of a chilling new threat to the mutant community.
The development of Nightcrawler’s relationship with Silver Sable is a high point, with a particular sequence that distills their complex dynamic into an electrifying mix of charm and tension. The use of song lyrics and other cultural references not only enriches their story but also anchors it within a broader, tumultuous narrative landscape, providing a poignant sense of solace against a backdrop of chaos.
While the subplots revolving around Mystique and the antagonistic Orchis organization may falter slightly in their elegance, they nevertheless convey essential information with clarity. The introduction of the new menace is executed with a palpable sense of dread, establishing a formidable presence within the ‘Fall of X’ storyline. The series has managed to encapsulate the quintessential aspects of Nightcrawler’s character, earning its place as a standout in the recent Marvel offerings and making a strong case for continuation beyond its miniseries format.
WHAT IF...? DARK: TOMB OF DRACULA #1
The ‘What If…? Dark: Tomb of Dracula #1’ carries the promise of Marvel’s alternate reality tales, which typically offer a canvas for exploring the more outlandish “what could have been” scenarios with familiar characters. However, this issue doesn’t quite embrace the creative freedom this series is known for. The premise of Blade the Daywalker succumbing to vampirism under Dracula’s influence sounds ripe for a fresh narrative, yet the execution is hesitant, skirting the edges of this dark transformation without fully committing to it.
The character of Blade remains largely unchanged, exhibiting the behaviors expected of his established persona, while Dracula adheres to the classic archetypal behaviors attributed to him. This issue stumbles in its artistry and dialogue, with odd choices in speech that detract from the narrative flow and artwork that fails to capitalize on the horror potential of its theme. The result is a version of the story that feels familiar and conservative, missing the opportunity to delve into a deeper, more horror-centric exploration that fans might anticipate from a darker twist on the Blade and Dracula mythology.
X-Force #46 seems poised to leave a lasting imprint on the narrative fabric of the Krakoa era, but its true resonance may be better appreciated when absorbed as a complete story rather than in serialized installments. This particular issue reaches a crescendo that has been meticulously built up since the series’ inception, and it lands with significant impact, particularly for readers emotionally invested in the character of Colossus.
Despite this pivotal moment, the surrounding context struggles to match its gravity. The bulk of the issue is padded with action sequences that, while dynamic, are devoid of substantive meaning or progression. Characters navigate a series of battles portrayed against a backdrop of nondescript black panels, engaging foes who lack memorability and depth.
The narrative fails to convey the urgency or stakes of this action, leading to a disconnection between Colossus’ climactic scene and the rest of the issue. This dichotomy renders the installment feeling somewhat unbalanced, as if it’s a solitary important scene artificially extended to fill the pages of a full comic book issue. The anticlimactic atmosphere of the surrounding content dilutes the power of the central storyline, resulting in an issue that, while momentous in one aspect, ultimately leaves readers yearning for a more cohesive and compelling overall experience.
X-MEN: RED #17
‘X-Men: Red #17’ sets the stage for an epic showdown that will determine the destiny of Arrako, with the spotlight focused intensely on Storm. This issue is a testament to her status as a venerated member of the X-Men, examining the strategic and moral choices that confront her as a leader amidst the looming battle. It is her decision-making, reflecting her deep-rooted principles and experiences, that unfolds as the core narrative, illustrating why she is more than just a powerful mutant but a true leader.
As the tension builds towards the cliffhanger promised in issue #18, readers are treated to an array of unexpected twists and revelations. The series artfully marries the intimate, personal combat of superhero confrontations with the grandeur and complexity of wartime strategy. This issue, in particular, captures this duality, showcasing Storm’s individual journey as the layers of support around her seem to fade, posing the question of whether any of her allies will have a role in what is to come.
The impending conflict between Storm and Genesis, both Omega-level mutants, teases an ideological battle as much as a physical one, their contrasting philosophies on warfare poised to provide a compelling contrast. ‘X-Men: Red #17’ is gearing up to deliver a satisfying spectacle for those who have followed Storm and Arrako, promising a convergence of character-driven drama and large-scale action.
Issue #3 of ‘Creepshow’ presents two hauntingly crafted stories, each a macabre gem in its own right. The first narrative delves into the age-old pursuit of immortality, with a scientist discovering that eternal life comes at a profound cost—unbearable loneliness and the potential for unending suffering. This twist on the conventional moral at the end of the story arrives unexpectedly early, challenging the reader to consider mortality’s role in giving life its value, leading to a conclusion that is both ghastly and affirming.
The second story adheres more closely to Creepshow’s traditional storytelling format, spinning a tale of greed with a man who acquires a precious gem, intending to deceive a wealthy buyer. His treachery, however, seals his fate in a manner that is as unforeseen as it is fatal. This narrative employs the classic one-dimensional Creepshow characters, serving as conduits for the story’s grim irony.
The setting of this tale on the high seas adds a refreshing dimension, straying from the suburban backdrop typical of many Creepshow stories. The inventive pairing of these two narratives could very well make this the most outstanding issue of the series, balancing the expected formula with unique twists that keep the reader captivated.
DAMN THEM ALL #10
In ‘Damn Them All #10’, protagonist Ellie finds herself increasingly entangled in a web of arcane conspiracies. The revelation of the 500 Club’s machinations pulls her deeper into a world of supernatural politics and schemes, with the narrative twisting around her as she becomes a pivotal piece in a game of mystical proportions.
The personal stakes are heightened with the entrance of Ellie’s former lover, who insists on rescuing her from her dangerous entrapment—despite his own culpability in her current plight. This layered character interaction adds a human dimension to the otherworldly drama unfolding around them.
A note of poignancy is struck with the mention of Ellie’s absence of her canine companion, Glasya-Labolas, whose presence readers will undoubtedly miss. The series weaves these personal threads into the larger, sinister tapestry of the story, ensuring that the human heart of the narrative beats strongly amidst the chaos of the supernatural. As the story unfolds, the layers of intrigue and emotional complexity promise to deliver a climax that is as emotionally resonant as it is thrilling.
DARK RIDE #9
‘Dark Ride #9’ elevates its narrative through ingenious story evolution, proving that the series can deepen its mythos without negating any previously established lore. This issue, in particular, delves into the sinister complexities of Halloween within the amusement park setting, offering a story that is equal parts horrific and enthralling. Joshua Williamson’s scripting excels here, marrying brutal plot developments with a twist that hits with precision and leaves a lasting impact.
Andrei Bressan’s artwork provides the perfect visual complement to Williamson’s narrative, capturing the macabre mood of the series while injecting a certain exaggerated flair that enhances the horror without detracting from the gravity of the story. His ability to convey both gore and energy keeps the pages turning, ensuring the audience is hooked to every panel.
The anticipation for what lies ahead in ‘Dark Ride’ is palpable, with this issue promising further exploration of the dark themes and twisted amusement of the series. As the arc progresses, readers are left eagerly awaiting the blend of chills and narrative depth that ‘Dark Ride’ has consistently delivered.
THE DEAD LUCKY #10
‘The Dead Lucky #10’ strikes a remarkable balance between high-octane action and the intricate politics that unfold within the confines of Marrow Headquarters. Melissa Flores demonstrates narrative dexterity, weaving the interconnected stories of Bibi, Korin, and Maria with such coherence that the reader is offered a comprehensive view of the unfolding mayhem in their city.
Artist French Carlomagno, alongside colorist Mattia Iacono and letterer Becca Carey, brings a dynamic visual style to the comic. The artwork in this issue stands out for its fluid depiction of combat, delivering a sensory experience that practically moves across the page. The battles are choreographed with a flair that is both impactful and visually arresting.
The dialogue remains sharp and witty throughout the issue, adding levity without diminishing the story’s momentum. This balance of humor and action solidifies the comic’s identity, promising a continued synergy as the narrative progresses. And, of course, the inclusion of eccentric giant robots adds a delightful twist that entices the reader. With ‘The Dead Lucky #10,’ the series not only finds its groove but also sets the stage for more thrilling developments to come.
THE ENFIELD GANG MASSACRE #4
‘The Enfield Gang Massacre #4’ is a gut-wrenching addition to the series, designed to leave the readers feeling confined and anxious alongside the characters. The narrative crafted by Condon is gripping, creating a sense of inescapable tension as Montgomery Enfield and his gang are cornered, with no clear path to salvation.
The decision to set the bulk of the issue within a single location is a masterstroke, intensifying the claustrophobic atmosphere and allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the desperation and urgency of the situation. The sense of being trapped is palpable on every page, a testament to the effectiveness of the storytelling.
The artwork by Phillips is unflinchingly raw, capturing the chaos and violence of the series with a visceral clarity. The illustrations are soaked in brutality, with the impact of every action rendered in vivid detail that accentuates the relentless pace of the plot. The generous use of blood and onomatopoeic sound effects like ‘kablam’ embellish the action scenes, enhancing the comic’s punchy, explosive feel.
With ‘The Enfield Gang Massacre #4,’ the creative team delivers a comic that is both visually and emotionally intense, perfectly encapsulating the dark and violent world that has been built up to this point, and ensuring that readers are left eagerly anticipating the next twist in this harrowing tale.
HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER #19
In ‘House of Slaughter #19’, the narrative arc “Alabaster” reaches an electrifying penultimate chapter, ratcheting up the intensity to a fever pitch. The story adeptly intertwines escalating dread with sudden bursts of violent action, a mix that captivates and horrifies in equal measure. Writer Sam Johns skillfully exposes the layers of Bait’s character, revealing vulnerabilities that add a rich depth to the narrative. This exploration of weakness in a usually stoic character amplifies the horror for the readers, as they vicariously experience Bait’s terror.
Artist Letizia Cadonici’s depictions of monstrous entities are the stuff of nightmares, etching a haunting vision that lingers with the reader. The color work by Francesco Segala bathes each scene in tones that accentuate the mood, from the foreboding shadows to the visceral reds of conflict. Letterer Justin Birch’s choices in font and sound effects resonate with the intensity of the scenes, heightening the dramatic tension.
As the arc approaches its climax, the final pages of this issue not only promise but almost ensure a conclusion that is both devastating and unforgettable. If ‘Alabaster’ concludes as strongly as this issue suggests, it is poised to become a standout story within the already celebrated ‘House of Slaughter’ series.
HUNT FOR THE SKINWALKER #3
The third issue of ‘Hunt for the Skinwalker’ imbues the series with a newfound dynamism that makes the announcement of its impending conclusion in the next issue all the more disappointing. The story finally hits its stride, introducing compelling characters and juxtaposing the enigmatic phenomena of the ranch with a Western-flavored investigative approach reminiscent of ‘The X-Files’.
This issue effectively acts as a catalyst, propelling the series forward and fully engaging the reader’s interest. The emerging narrative, filled with mystery and the supernatural, promises a complex and fascinating mythos that could potentially span many more issues. The frustration stems from the untapped potential and the burgeoning plot that seems rushed towards a conclusion.
‘NIGHTS #2’ significantly sharpens the focus from its predecessor, setting a more confident stride in storytelling. After an initial issue heavy on exposition, the series begins to find its rhythm, presenting a clearer direction and a stronger sense of character development, particularly with its protagonist, Vince.
Vince’s interactions with the newly introduced character, who quickly becomes a standout with their charisma and intrigue, drive much of the issue’s appeal. These dynamics add layers to the narrative, bringing much-needed vibrancy to the world-building and teasing at deeper interpersonal stories that promise to unfold.
The series now seems to be aligning its narrative components more harmoniously, suggesting that future installments, especially the upcoming third issue, may delve into more compelling and cohesive storytelling. The series sets an expectation for continued improvement, as it begins to capitalize on its initial groundwork and the potential of its characters and world.
PETROL HEAD #1
‘Petrol Head #1’ is an adrenaline-infused entry that seamlessly merges the grimy aesthetic of dystopian sci-fi with the high-octane excitement of combat racing. The setting is an Earth plagued by desolation, a poignant reflection of environmental collapse, where the remnants of humanity cling to survival within the safe confines of towering biodomes. These domes represent a glimmer of hope, contrasting sharply with the surrounding wasteland.
Amidst this backdrop, gas-powered robots, reminiscent of colossal gladiators, clash in death-defying races, offering both spectacle and desperation—a society’s cry for escapism from their dire reality. The design dichotomy is striking: sleek, oppressive overlords exude a cold, tech-noir elegance, starkly opposing the gritty, industrial charm of our protagonists, who seem to embody the spirit of rebellion and resilience.
The narrative thrives on its inspirations, paying homage to the likes of ‘Transformers’ for its mechanized combatants and ‘Death Race’ for its unyielding, cutthroat competition. Yet, it’s not merely a pastiche; ‘Petrol Head’ distinguishes itself with a soulful look into the struggle for restoration and the drive for freedom within a decaying world. This explosive combination promises a series that is both visually stunning and emotionally resonant.
‘Starsigns #6′ stands as a testament to the series’ dual strength: its capacity to explore the vastness of space and the depths of its characters. Saladin Ahmed’s script is a tapestry of rich, cosmic lore and poignant human (and alien) drama, weaving together threads that celebrate the scale of sci-fi while maintaining a grounding in relatable emotion.
The ensemble cast is painted with delicate strokes of pathos, with each character’s journey offering a unique window into the series’ heart. Megan Levens’ artistry complements the narrative beautifully, with this issue allowing her to stretch into new creative territories, presumably showcasing alien landscapes and technology that break away from conventional designs.
The synergy between script and art delivers an experience that is not only entertaining but also thought-provoking, offering insights into both the imagined mechanics of the universe and the intricacies of its inhabitants. ‘Starsigns’ is shaping up to be a story that succeeds in the grand tradition of science fiction: to tell human stories in a setting that is anything but.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #145
In ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #145’, the celebrated IDW series continues to showcase its knack for aligning artistic talent with thematic content. Gavin Smith’s precise lines had brought a tangible grit to the urban chaos of past stories, but now, Vincenzo Federici’s more fluid style perfectly complements the mystical and temporally fluid ‘Armaggon’ arc, allowing the visuals to mirror the narrative’s shift towards the arcane.
This issue serves as the commencement of “The Road to #150,” a significant landmark not just for its numerical value but as the closing chapter of Sophie Campbell’s transformative tenure as writer. Campbell embarks on a narrative that is as much about the culmination of her sprawling themes as it is about the immediate adventure at hand, starting with a deep dive into the dynamics between Donatello and Leonardo. The depiction of their evolution is both introspective and expansive, showing how they have matured and adapted through the series.
The closing twist of the issue feels like a nod to the classic twists of vintage science fiction, adding another layer to the already rich tapestry Campbell has woven through the TMNT lore. As the build-up to TMNT #150 begins, there is a palpable sense that the series is moving towards a crescendo that will encapsulate the best of Campbell’s storytelling—heartfelt, character-driven, and always surprising.
The second issue of ‘Transformers’ maintains the kinetic energy of its debut, propelling the narrative forward with the Autobots and Decepticons carving out their respective territories on Earth. Yet, the most striking moments in this chapter unfold in the quiet reflections of Optimus Prime, as he stands—a colossus of metal and might—marveling at the virgin beauty of Earth. This dichotomy of Prime’s massive, almost imposing figure, set against the delicate backdrop of an untouched world, encapsulates the character’s profound reverence for life in all its forms.
Optimus Prime, as depicted in this issue, is more than just the leader of the Autobots; he is a custodian of the new world they find themselves in. The artistry involved in illustrating his stature serves a dual purpose: to remind readers of the iconic hero’s physical dominance, and to emphasize his gentle giant nature, one that balances power with peace, strength with sensitivity.
In stark contrast to Prime’s gentle contemplation, the Decepticons revel in chaos. Starscream, especially, is crafted with a malicious glee that bleeds through the pages. Daniel Warren Johnson’s artistry brings a frenzied momentum to Starscream’s battles, making the sky his violent domain. Each panel is charged with dynamic energy, building a sense of dread and anticipation.
The issue teases the presence of Megatron, but it’s Starscream’s brutal ballet that captures the eye. It’s a narrative choice that enriches the conflict, providing layers to the antagonistic forces at play. Furthermore, the issue cleverly weaves in an easter egg that rewards long-time fans without detracting from the immediate narrative.
As ‘Transformers #2’ concludes, it sets the table for a story with high stakes and deep potential. It promises to delve into the franchise’s rich thematic tapestry, balancing action and introspection, and appealing to both new readers and those with a long-standing investment in the Transformers lore.
‘Zawa and the Belly of the Beast’ marks its entry as a narrative that is ambitious and expressive, choosing to explore the themes of consumption—both literal and metaphorical—through the lenses of food and friendship. While the first issue faces challenges in maintaining a consistent tone and fully rendering the breadth of its universe, its core strengths lie in the depth of its characters and the mood it manages to evoke.
Michael Dialynas, both the writer and artist, injects personality and warmth into the characters, allowing their relationships and interactions to take center stage, even amidst the larger-than-life backdrop of the story. The comic shines particularly in its expressive lettering, which underscores the thematic heart—food is more than sustenance; it’s a medium of connection, a catalyst for relationships.
Despite some pacing issues and an ambitious plot that can, at times, feel overwhelming, ‘Zawa #1’ succeeds in crafting a world that is intriguing and characters that resonate. It provides enough narrative hooks and visual flair to compel readers to return for the second issue, eager to unravel the mysteries of the world Dialynas has created and to follow the characters deeper into the belly of the beast, both figuratively and literally.