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 #2
In the sophomore issue of the “Batman and Robin” series, the rich and complex father/son dynamic between Bruce Wayne and Damian Wayne continues to weave a compelling narrative strand. Although still navigating through its developmental stage, the series takes a wise step by insulating itself from the widely criticized “Gotham War” storyline, providing readers with a refreshing, self-contained narrative experience. The creators delve deeper into Damian’s backstory, exploring his tumultuous history and his grappling with the everyday challenges of school life – presenting a multidimensional portrait that wonderfully anchors the emotional heft of the series. However, the narrative does stumble slightly with the introduction of the villain Shush, whose conceptualization borders on becoming a gimmicky distraction. From an artistic standpoint, while there’s a discernible improvement in sequential artistry, it still seeks a firmer, more cohesive visual language. Overall, the issue maintains a solid, albeit moderate, impact and paves the way for future narrative exploration.
BATMAN: CITY OF MADNESS #1
Christian Ward, an Eisner Award-winning artist, concocts a brew of cosmic horror and introduces readers to a disconcertingly eerie universe in “Batman: City of Madness.” This Black Label series charts its course away from the conventional Batman continuity, submerging readers into a harrowing journey through the Gotham Below – an unnervingly twisted iteration of Gotham, birthed from an alternate dimension. While Ward’s artwork stands out as a radiant pillar amidst the chaotic darkness of the storyline, weaving ethereal visuals with cosmic horror, the series hinges on the pivotal question of whether it can carve out its own unique space amidst the plethora of alternate Batman realities and dark, eldritch narratives that have been recently explored in the Batman mythos. Thus, while visually captivating, the long-term resonance and distinctiveness of this series linger in a precarious balance.
CITY BOY #5
As “City Boy” nears its narrative crescendo in issue #5, the story deliberately maintains a scaled-back approach to the overarching plot, instead pivoting towards a deeper excavation of character development and emotional resonance. The protagonist, Cameron, wrestles not only with his somewhat reluctant superhuman abilities but also with a multitude of internal conflicts and revelations, brought starkly to the forefront during an enlightening and complex interaction with Swamp Thing. This encounter not only provides narrative catalysts in the form of answers and resolutions but also casts a focused lens on the intricate interplay between their respective powers, teasing out nuances and undisclosed depths. Artists Minkyu Jung and Mike Choi, while not consistently reaching the emotional and visual peaks potentially offered by the script, manage to deliver art that supports and, at times, enhances the narrative where it’s most crucial. Anticipation bubbles for the series’ finale, as readers are left poised on the brink of what promises to be a climactic resolution.
DANGER STREET #10
“Danger Street #10” revitalizes the series with a meticulously orchestrated convergence of its various narrative elements, setting the stage compellingly for an impending climax. The Helm of Nabu ascends to paramount significance, morphing into a crucial nexus where beings of divergent existences—gods and men, billionaires and pariahs—find their destinies interweaved. Each character is imbued with a lucidly defined trajectory, whether it be a quest for redemption or a longing for normalcy, paving the way for a climax that promises a resolution to their varied, emotionally-charged conflicts. The reintegrated, albeit fractured, narrative structure breathes fresh vigor into the pacing, rendering each action and dialogue sequence with a sharpened, concise tone. Artist Jorge Fornés masterfully interlaces elements of childlike mutants, formidable savages, despondent men, and deities into a unified narrative tapestry, offering a tantalizing promise that the ensuing finale will do justice to each distinctive thread with equal measure.
GREEN LANTERN #4
In “Green Lantern #4,” the embers of an ancient rivalry are reignited, paralleled by the rekindling of one of DC’s most cherished friendships. Jeremy Adams crafts a narrative ripe with tension, strategically unfolding confrontations between Hal Jordan and his arch-nemesis, Sinestro. However, it is the warm and authentic reunion between Hal and Barry Allen that truly captivates, showcasing how their camaraderie perpetually brings forth their best selves. The artistic team, comprising Xermanico’s dynamic pencils and Romulo Fajardo Jr’s vibrant color palette, expertly depict the synergy between Hal’s constructs and Barry’s speed, innovating scenarios that are as fresh as they are visually stunning. The subtler moments, rife with quiet dialogue and vulnerability, further sculpt a Hal Jordan that resonates on a more relatable, human level. With its invigorated stride, “Green Lantern” is sculpting a narrative that encapsulates the essence of one of DC’s flagship heroes, showcasing him at his most formidable and humane.
SUPERMAN: LOST #7
With a poignant shift in narrative focus, “Superman: Lost #7” plunges readers into a cosmic voyage as Clark Kent navigates the abyss of a black hole, confronting a future iteration of himself. The interplay of vast cosmic phenomena and a keenly crafted dialogue between the two Supermen crafts a narrative pivot that is both engaging and thought-provoking, especially as the foundational pillars of Clark’s journey are recalibrated towards a heartfelt homeward trajectory. The soul of the issue, however, pulsates most vividly in its epilogue, as Luthor and Lois become entwined in the newly-returned Superman’s quest for existential grounding. Their involvement sparks a profound exploration of Superman’s nobility, his identity’s roots, and the captivating conflict borne from this exploration is simply sublime. While “Superman: Lost” has largely mirrored alien civilizations and interstellar parables in its earlier issues, it appears to unearth the core of its narrative potency by shifting its gaze towards Earth, homing in on our planet’s seemingly mundane tragedies and struggles with a refreshing sincerity.
WESLEY DODDS: THE SANDMAN #1
“DC” not only resurrects Wesley Dodds, “The Sandman,” from retirement but also ingeniously integrates him into the “New Golden Age” initiative, weaving a narrative that’s richly embedded in the character’s foundational ethos. Robert Venditti’s script serves as a robust entry point, providing both novices and seasoned readers alike a coherent understanding of Dodds, his crime-fighting methodologies, and his ethical paradoxes. Venditti also navigates a reflective exploration of Dodds’ struggle to reconcile his vigilante activities with his everyday life, symbolized through his attempt — and failure — to legitimize his signature sleeping gas through military application, offering a stark commentary on superhero morality meeting real-world implications. While Venditti provides a layered and meaningful dissection of the character’s civilian persona, the artistic duo of Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia adorns the narrative with a visually poignant layer. Rossmo’s fluid, expressive linework renders characters with a tangible vulnerability, while Plascencia’s dreamlike color palette immerses the reader into a surreal narrative space, vacillating between the mundane and the fantastical. The premier issue of “Wesley Dodds: The Sandman” establishes a framework, where narrative and visual elements harmoniously converge, gesturing towards a potentially memorable superhero comic run.
WORLD'S FINEST: TEEN TITANS #4
“World’s Finest: Teen Titans #4” continues to validate the accolades and praise with a narrative that seamlessly melds superhero antics with nuanced character dynamics. Waid’s scripting goes beyond mere action, plumbing the depths of the young heroes’ interpersonal relationships, and in doing so, enriches the textural quality of the series. A standout narrative arc involves Wally West (Kid Flash), Garth (Aqualad), and Roy Harper (Speedy) navigating through the treacherous waters of friendship, their personalities paradoxically clashing and coalescing throughout a weekend together. The intricate representation of their interactions is indicative of Waid’s astute characterization and his ability to embed Silver Age elements into contemporary storytelling with a seamless transition, ensuring that the narrative remains simultaneously timeless and modern.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #35
“The Amazing Spider-Man #35” encounters narrative turbulence as it delves back into the convoluted machinations of Norman Osborn’s sins, attempting to reconcile various thematic elements that once destabilized Spencer’s concluding arc. Although the converging narrative threads from preceding issues find a satisfactory intersection, and Peter’s unsettling amalgamation of sociopathy and humor provides a uniquely eerie tonal blend, the story stumbles in articulating the stakes and mechanical underpinnings of the unfolding action. Scenes featuring Goblin Queen, Kraven, and Osborn particularly showcase stellar action sequences, with Kraven receiving a commendable and distinctive character resolution. However, the story’s spearheaded direction and the resultant fallout from the unfolding events feel somewhat misaligned, occasionally necessitating explanatory narration to clarify narrative developments. The issue teases the potential resolution of a problematic thread within Spider-Man continuity, leaving readers with a precarious blend of hope and skepticism for its future narratives.
THE AVENGERS #6
In an epic showdown that consolidates the strength and prowess of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, “The Avengers #6” propels each member into a solo battle against their respective foes from The Ashen Combine. This strategy enables each Avenger to be illuminated under a spotlight, showcasing their unique abilities and providing readers with an unabridged view into what establishes them as paramount entities within the Marvel Universe. A notable highlight is the orchestration of each duel, which has been meticulously crafted to juxtapose the strengths and weaknesses of the heroes against their opponents. Furthermore, a surprise addition to the Avengers’ roster adds a flavor of unpredictability and potential narrative avenues for future explorations, ending the issue on a note that combines satisfaction from the resolved battle and anticipation fueled by the new team dynamic.
“Blade #4” navigates through a tumultuous narrative landscape, launching into a climax where the stakes on Blade’s train heist unravel into a frenzied collision of elements. The issue catapults into action by (re-)introducing the audience to the characters pivotal to this arc, ensuring a thrilling setup that promises high-octane sequences. However, the narrative stumbles into a chaotic melange of disparate elements, including Doctor Strange, a mystical sword, the apocalyptic threat Adana, and a new antagonist controlling the train, which find themselves in a disjointed tangle rather than a cohesive plot due to insufficient groundwork. The narrative appears to compress what could have potentially spanned five issues’ worth of twists into a single installment, leading to a somewhat dissonant reading experience. A split in artistic duties causes intermittent shifts in line weight and visual consistency, further compounding the narrative irregularities. Blade #4, while initially embarking with potential, seems to grapple with abrupt narrative compilations and, with the impending final issue, possibly reflects struggles with sustaining sufficient pre-order volumes.
CAPTAIN MARVEL: ASSAULT ON EDEN #1
Timed impeccably with “The Marvels” set to dazzle on the big screen and a new ongoing series for Captain Marvel on the horizon, “Captain Marvel: Assault on Eden #1” emerges into the spotlight. While the issue does not serve as a direct tie-in to the MCU or a springboard for the upcoming series, Anthony Oliveira curates a seamless amalgamation of various facets that render Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, an enduring and beloved character within the Marvel Universe. The narrative maps out Carol’s journey, illustrating her origins, evolution, and present state with comprehensive clarity by the culmination of the issue. Additionally, readers delve into the intricate alliances and conflicts between the Kree and Skrulls, as well as insights into the Supreme Intelligence. The artistic team, consisting of Eleonora Carlini, Ruth Redmond, and Ariana Maher, enriches the story with vibrant and stylistic visuals. The book is sprinkled with sequences of dazzling action, characterized by color and style that not only mesmerizes but amplifies the overall visual spectacle. Although the adventure primarily remains self-contained, it presents a captivating exploration for readers and seems poised to be a delight for fans of the character.
CAPWOLF & THE HOWLING COMMANDOS #1
As Capwolf makes a triumphant return to the comic world, readers find themselves delving into an electrifying tale, tinged with a pulpy undertone that steeps the narrative in both nostalgia and fresh excitement. Stephanie Phillips embraces the mantle of storytelling for the First Avenger, steering the narrative into an exploration that, while undeniably entertaining, tends to immerse itself a bit too generously in fluff. The script is notably heavy on character moments, particularly those involving the Howling Commandos, which, while providing a depth and character insight, inadvertently dims the spotlight that should be firmly on the eponymous lycanthrope, Capwolf. While the layered character dynamics enrich the story, the quintessential creature feature seems to be yearning for more monstrous presences, thereby prompting a desire for future issues to balance the spectral and the human elements more effectively.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #7
In an unintentional revelation, “Guardians of the Galaxy #7” underscores the potency of the book’s characterization of the Guardians by commencing with a focus that orbits entirely around other characters from the Marvel Universe. This divergence, while offering a varied palate, results in a somewhat tardy ignition to the core narrative momentum. Nevertheless, the issue doesn’t skimp on presenting visuals that stand out in their unconventionality and invigorative energy, thanks to Kev Walker. Furthermore, the latter half of the issue, penned by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, introduces compelling narrative beats that re-anchor the story. While perhaps not eclipsing its predecessors in stellar quality, the issue solidifies “Guardians of the Galaxy” as one of the eminent books currently emanating from Marvel, maintaining its position as a reader favorite.
A heavy, thought-provoking weave of narrative threads unfurls in “Magneto #3”, which unflinchingly plunges into substantial subjects, creating a tapestry that’s both challenging and darkly enchanting. The issue grapples with the profound toxicity of parasocial hero worship, whilst also honing in on Eric’s harrowing background as a Holocaust survivor. It seeks to navigate the complex ethical and moral query of how he could potentially ally with humanity, even after having been subjected to its most abhorrent facets. The narrative seems to land, perhaps unsettlingly, on a conclusion that might misalign with previously established characterizations of Magneto but does so with what appears to be deliberate intent. This suggests that the miniseries harbors further depths yet to be explored, positioning it far from providing a conclusive answer to the poignant question of whether Magneto embodies true evil or if his character is a complex amalgamation of pain, resilience, and moral ambiguity.
MOON KNIGHT: CITY OF THE DEAD #4
In “Moon Knight: City of the Dead #4”, readers traverse through a richly complicated narrative, unfolding both in the tangible world and the realms beyond death. David Pepose elegantly threads between these realms, ensuring that even amidst the bustling events and a myriad of characters, the reader remains anchored. Moon Knight’s mental state adds another layer to explore, intricately woven with the ongoing chase through the surreal and spectral City of the Dead between Randall and Layla. Amidst this sometimes overwhelming cascade of events and characters, Pepose commendably manages to keep the primary objective – saving Khalil – as a constant, clear beacon amidst the chaos. The ancient gods and enthralling afterlife vistas are magnificently brought to life by Marcelo Ferreira, Rachelle Rosenberg, Jay Leisten, and Cory Petit, who together craft a stunning visual experience. With a sudden, surprising, and emotionally resonant breakthrough for Moon Knight, the art team brilliantly captures a moment that gleams with emotional and narrative significance. And, if the hook leading into issue #5 is any indicator, readers can anticipate a grandiose climax in the concluding part of “City of the Dead”.
SILVER SURFER REBIRTH: LEGACY #2
Navigating a tumultuous journey through time and existential confrontations, “Silver Surfer Rebirth: Legacy #2” throws its heroes into a paradox of alliances and enmities. The son of Captain Marvel grapples with the turmoil of battling a comrade while the Silver Surfer faces the wrath of a formidable, vengeful foe. This compels the Surfer into an uneasy alliance with Thanos, an old adversary, in a high-stakes gamble where the outcome remains shrouded in mystery and dread. With the interplay of intricate relationships and a chessboard set with unpredictable pieces, the heroes find themselves entwining their fates with past enemies, creating a web that might either save or doom them in their pursuit of salvation.
STAR WARS: DARK DROIDS #3
The intense ambition of the Scourge to transcend its mechanical existence propels the narrative of “Star Wars: Dark Droids #3”. Eyeing the formidable cyborg, Darth Vader, as a vessel, the Scourge navigates through a challenging path that not only involves infiltrating the dark lord but also defending itself. But Darth Vader is not the only compelling cyborg in the galaxy, providing a rich canvas of possibilities and potential confrontations. While moments tantalizingly hint at an epic showdown between C-3PO and Darth Vader, the narrative intelligently diverges, utilizing this as a deceptive misdirect. The issue effervesces with chaos, as various entities engage in riveting combats across the galaxy, expertly paced to maintain engagement without divulging major reveals yet. Vader’s might, even stripped of his advanced cybernetics, is a stern reminder of his awe-inducing power within the Star Wars universe. Meanwhile, the closing panels allude to the Scourge instigating unforeseen trials for other characters across the spectrum, promising interconnected and expansive narratives that will weave through various titles, enhancing the depth and stakes of each storyline.
STAR WARS: THE MANDALORIAN SEASON 2 #5
“Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 2 #5” whisks us into a tapestry of bounty hunting, mystical encounters, and a pivotal revelation in the depths of a remote planet. Din Djarin, doggedly following a bounty beacon, confronts an unanticipated connection between his charge, The Child – now revealed to be named Grogu – and the formidable Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. The intricate dynamics of unexpected alliances and treacherous contracts unravel as Djarin learns that he can catalyze the liberation of people oppressed by his very employer, tasked with assassinating Ahsoka. Nostalgia is elegantly evoked and respected by this issue as it encapsulates the enchantment and mystery of meeting Ahsoka in live-action for the first time, a moment that once sent tremors through the Star Wars fandom. This journey, rendered in a moody, atmospheric art style, deviates from the familiar terrains of aridity and metallurgy, instead bathing the reader in an absorbingly different, dimly-lit world. It both revitalizes and diversifies Mando’s explorations, and meticulously rekindles our enthrallment with his odyssey across the stars.
THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN RETURNS #1
Despite being immersed in a somewhat clichéd narrative technique within Marvel’s storytelling, “The Superior Spider-Man Returns #1” attempts to set a distinct tone by delving into the complexities of Octavius’s psyche, set against a backdrop that treads on familiar timelines. While the temporal setting has been overexploited at Marvel, potentially diluting its impact and freshness, Gage’s script navigates with an adept pacing and detailed exploration that strives to keep this inaugural issue of a new Superior Spider-Man tale somewhat buoyant amidst a sea of competing narratives. The nuanced examination of Octavius’ mind becomes a focal point, seeking to elevate the storyline beyond its conventional temporal framework and perhaps provide an unexpected twist or depth as the series unfolds.
Following the explosive revelations and cosmic ventures of “Venom #25”, issue #26 steers the narrative into a somewhat divergent and arguably subdued direction under writer Torunn Grønbekk. As the series unveils a vast conspiracy helmed by Alchemex, bringing forth Black Widow and her unique Symbiote connection, it seemingly grapples to maintain the compelling energy that encapsulated its predecessor. The juxtaposition of a universal, time-warped journey with the King in Black mythology against this larger, yet seemingly less vibrant conspiracy fails to sustain an equivalent level of interest. Artist Julius Ohta exercises his illustrative prowess, especially with regard to the nuanced portrayal of the symbiotes, contributing a visual highlight to the issue. Nevertheless, the overall narrative and visual storytelling, while possessing certain merits, seem to languish in the shadow of the preceding bombastic issue, seeking a path to reinvigorate the venomous tale in subsequent releases.
“Wolverine #38” weaves an intricate narrative, yet again exploring the multifaceted relationship between Wolverine (Logan) and Captain America (Steve Rogers). Bound by their shared histories as veterans, scientific enhancements, and beings displaced in time, the Wolverine-Captain America dynamic resonates with layers of respect and unwavering faith, particularly emanating from Logan towards Steve. This issue embarks on a mission to dismantle an auction specializing in pilfered Krakoan artifacts, a narrative framework notably familiar and favored in Percy’s storytelling repertoire. Navigating through a rich tapestry of panels that pay homage to the extensive Krakoan era of the X-Men, it appeals not just to seasoned followers but also casual readers who derive satisfaction from witnessing the duo tactically decimate waves of adversaries. The intersectionality of their backgrounds and moral compasses, juxtaposed against the seedy underworld of illicit artifact trading, lays the groundwork for an exploration of loyalty, ethics, and relentless action, nuanced by their unspoken but profoundly respected mutual understanding.
X-MEN: RED #16
In the vibrant and fiercely intense world of “X-Men: Red #16”, the focus sharpens on personal combats between mightily potent mutants, all converging into a broader tableau of the ongoing war in Arrako. This issue, artfully avoiding the somewhat exhaustive portrayal of large-scale, event-like battles seen previously, turns our attention to the somewhat devastated state of Storm’s forces without becoming mired in it. The strategic choice to delve into individual power struggles highlights the tantalizing, catastrophic capabilities of the mutants involved. One cannot ignore the looming, ominous presence of A.X.E., which intricately intertwines with Storm’s protagonist journey, subtly enhancing the narrative depth and gravity. Despite several Arraki soldiers encountering poignant moments of characterization and an unexpected, jarring death, the most resonant echo from this issue is likely Storm’s potent portrayal and the pivotal decision she confronts amidst a tempest of war and moral ambiguity.
THE ALTERNATES #2
“The Alternates #2” doesn’t merely stand as a worthy successor in the expanding Minor Threats universe; it solidifies itself as an exemplar of superhero storytelling that is both moving and ingeniously crafted. The narrative is both emotionally resonant and intellectually stimulating, unraveling unexpected threads of lore that entwine seamlessly with the prevailing storyline. The artistic prowess displayed throughout the issue does not merely adhere to conventional visual storytelling but evolves progressively, exploring inventive and fresh visual paradigms. As “The Alternates” threads through its sophomore issue with such palpable vibrancy and narrative depth, the anticipation of how the creative team will escalate the narrative complexity and emotional stakes in subsequent issues becomes an enticing mystery. The balance of poignant narrative arcs, unexpected lore, and inventive artistic expression crafts a tapestry that is both beautifully enthralling and leaves readers on the precipice of eager anticipation for what is to unfold next.
BY A THREAD #1
In the evocative opening issue of “By a Thread,” the stakes skyrocket as the earth beneath humanity’s feet transmutes into a perilous wasteland, consumed by an enigmatic black goo. Elevating the children’s game “The Floor Is Lava” into a cataclysmic reality, humanity is thrust into the skies to navigate survival amongst the clouds. Our protagonists, adrift in this airborne existence, find themselves pursued by a relentless warlord whose motivations run deeper than mere conquest. The underlying tension escalates exponentially when it is revealed that his target holds the potential to irrevocably alter the world’s already tenuous status quo. “By a Thread #1” adeptly intertwines elements of dystopian despair, airborne adventure, and the palpable tension of survival against omnipresent, multi-dimensional threats, providing a rich, layered narrative tapestry that invites readers to explore this perilously suspended world.
CHILLING ADVENTURES PRESENTS... WELCOME TO RIVERDALE #1
Riverdale, an idyllic town ostensibly brimming with placid normalcy, becomes a conduit for horror in “Chilling Adventures Presents… Welcome to Riverdale #1.” The narrative takes an eerie twist when a new resident arrives, peeling back the town’s serene facade and plunging into its lurking malevolence. The enthralling short story encapsulates an introspective horror that invites readers to reconsider the reflections gazing back at them from their mirrors. Probing beneath the surface of Riverdale reveals a silent, creeping monster, embodying the notion that the most horrifying entities dwell internally, festering within the souls of the populace. Through stark contrasts between the external tranquility and the internal chaos, this issue embroiders a chilling tale of concealed darkness, whispering that the most seemingly serene exteriors can conceal the most grotesque internal realities.
DAMN THEM ALL #9
“Damn Them All #9” weaves parallel narratives of revenge and rediscovery as the protagonists Ellie and Dora diverge on distinct paths that promise to collide cataclysmically in the future. While Ellie, entangled with her ex Cillian, explores a narrative soaked in past connections and the unique collective consciousness blossoming in Cillian’s apartment complex, Dora, in contrast, is driven by a fervent quest for retribution against celestial beings who’ve pilfered her memories. Cillian emerges as a captivating figure, his past with Ellie, and his present, nurturing a collective mental enclave, adding nuanced complexity to the unfolding story. Through intertwining tales of vengeful pursuits and explorations of interconnected minds, “Damn Them All #9” unfurls a dynamic narrative, rich with characters driven by both personal and divine vendettas, set against a backdrop where the celestial and earthly intertwine in an intricate dance of fate and free will.
DESTINY GATE #1
“Destiny Gate” unveils its spectral beginnings with the initial issue, blending the uncanny with a latent aura of imminent doom, notwithstanding certain clichés and vulnerabilities in its foundational premise. Our central figure, Mitchell Slate, is thrust into the limelight, not just as a mere player but as an unwitting catalyst spiraling toward consequences that echo with both supernatural and existential reverberations. The visual tapestry, crafted meticulously by Christian Dibari, indulges readers in a macabre spectacle, intertwining the grotesque with the ethereal. However, despite its visual prowess, the narrative structure somewhat stumbles in sculpting Mitchell into a fully-realized, compelling character, and articulating the intricacies of his dilemmas and conflicts. While the concept, especially with its eerie aura, holds potential especially considering its alignment with an upcoming video game, the script may require a deeper dive into its protagonist’s psyche and a firmer structuring of the predicament enveloping him to truly captivate and resonate with readers.
“EARTHDIVERS #11” pays a thoughtful homage to accessibility, offering newcomers a warm welcome with a comprehensive recap, enabling them to immerse themselves without feeling lost in the temporal tapestry. The narrative unfolds with our protagonists, undeterred by previous failures, venturing once more into the throes of time, resolving to alter the course of America through manipulating historical events. It’s a reimagining of time-travel and its potential to reshape national narratives, seen now through the lens of altering the Declaration of Independence, juxtaposed against Tad’s erstwhile botched attempt. The approach to historic recalibration provides a fresh yet grounded pathway through the often-tumultuous waters of time-travel narrative, bringing forth a unique juxtaposition of historical fidelity and speculative alteration.
FIREFLY: THE FALL GUYS #2
Embarking on a tumultuous journey against a backdrop of political conspiracy, “Firefly: The Fall Guys #2” ensnares the Serenity crew in a labyrinthine plot, pinned as perpetrators in an attempted presidential assassination. Trapped within the planetary confines by the domineering Alliance, they submerge into a world of covert operations and clandestine disguises. While the narrative scales elevate with the involvement of the Alliance president, the issue retains a light, somewhat jovial tone, encapsulated particularly in sequences like the equestrian roll call, and plays within the familiar contours of the Firefly narrative (i.e., job derailed, alliances betrayed). Aesthetic choices, such as the meticulously clean, borderless gutters juxtaposed against the textured, grainy color palettes, offer a visually pleasant reading experience. However, the abstraction of characters from their televised origins teeters on the brink of becoming overly stylized, causing them to stray slightly into an uncanny visual territory. In essence, the issue crafts a continuation that does not err gravely in any particular direction yet lacks a gripping, memorable hook to truly captivate and retain both dedicated fans and casual readers alike.
A HAUNTED GIRL #1
A contemplative and emotionally resounding debut, “A Haunted Girl” invites readers into a somber world where psychological struggle and spectral phenomena intertwine. Centerstage, Cleo, a teenage girl shrouded in the melancholy of a psychiatric ward, becomes a beacon of empathy and intrigue amidst a narrative that delicately balances the reality of mental illness with an ethereal otherness. Her journey, punctuated by despair and apparent hallucinations, unveils a profound unhappiness even upon her release from psychiatric care, teetering on the precipice of a life seemingly devoid of willpower. However, beneath the spectral veil of her ‘hallucinations’ lies an authentic supernatural thread, which propels Cleo toward a purpose significantly divergent from her emotional state. Writers Ethan Sacks and his daughter Naomi weave a narrative deeply entwined with personal resonance, effectively translating the haunting essence of Cleo’s duel with mental illness and otherworldly purpose through a lens that neither undermines nor sensationalizes the anguish of mental health struggles, establishing a profoundly engaging yet gentle tableau that sets the stage for a promisingly rich and haunting series.
HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER #18
House of Slaughter’s 18th installment draws back the dark, ominous curtain, revealing the harrowing origin of Bait, one of its profoundly compelling characters, and further solidifying his narrative gravity within the series. The exploration into the crucible that forged Bait’s position within The Order is nothing short of gut-wrenching, a testament to the series’ adeptness at crafting emotionally charged, visceral storytelling. The artistic team, comprised of illustrator Letizia Cadonici, colorist Francesco Segala, and letterer Justin Birch, transcends mere visual storytelling, embodying the brutal and eerie essence of Bait’s history, and embedding elements that linger with haunting persistence throughout the issue. Writer Sam Johns elucidates Bait’s psyche and actions through the innovative lens of his totem, creating a poignant resonance that is amplified by the knowledge of its origin. “House of Slaughter” not only unveils a breakout character in Bait but entices readers to linger in his darkly compelling narrative, savoring every haunting detail.
THE HUNGER AND THE DUSK #3
“The Hunger and The Dusk” luxuriously unspools a visual masterpiece, solidifying its place as an aesthetically enchanting adventure narrative that captivates even without the necessity of dialogue. But fortuitously, it is enriched with meticulously crafted scripts and compelling characters that elevate it to a holistic narrative experience. The team, with Wilson and Wildgoose at the helm, synergizes flawlessly, each contributing to the harmonious orchestration of a story that is both visually and narratively alluring. The interplay of sublime artistry and astutely sculpted character dynamics and scripts ensures that every installment of “The Hunger and The Dusk” not only draws the eye with its impeccable aesthetic but immerses readers in a narrative depth that is both intriguing and satisfying. A harmonious blend of visual and textual storytelling, this issue reinforces the series’ standing as not only ‘one of the prettiest adventure books’ but also one resounding with narrative depth and character complexity.
MECH CADETS #3
Mech Cadets #3 thrusts readers into an adrenalized narrative vortex right from the get-go. Crafted by Greg Pak and Tak Miyazawa, it kicks off with a frenetic, meticulously orchestrated fight scene that inundates the audience directly into the maelstrom of the Cadets’ combat. The narrative pace is assertive, propelling towards a pivotal emotional and plot climax amidst the battlefield chaos, subsequently descending into a sequence of reflective, soberly serious character moments. Pak’s dialogue herein might arguably be his most potent within the series, effortlessly intertwining vulnerability, resilience, and camaraderie amidst the mechanized chaos. The dialogue reveals depths of character complexity and elicits empathy, despite the explosive backdrop. Nevertheless, the narrative evolution conjures questions and anticipations about forthcoming paths and the re-establishment of stability amidst chaos, delicately holding the balance between resolution and lingering narrative threads, ensuring readers are enticed into the next installment.
MIDLIFE (OR HOW TO HERO AT FIFTY!) #1
“Midlife” by Buccellato and Simeone delivers a distinctive superhero narrative, centering on a protagonist on the cusp of their fifties, unexpectedly graced—or perhaps cursed—with superpowers. The inaugural issue proffers a delicate balance between the mundane and the supernatural, offering a cavalcade of characters compellingly interwoven into a supernatural tapestry. While the conceptual foundation of an everyday individual navigating newfound powers is not uncharted territory, ensuring a unique, magnetic hook to ensnare readers becomes pivotal. “Midlife” manages to elicit interest with its nuanced character explorations and initial narrative strides but teeters on the precipice of familiarity within the superhero genre. While the initial issue may not manifest as a sweeping narrative triumph, it deftly establishes a steady groundwork with a handful of fascinating elements that could potentially coalesce into a rich, relatable tale of heroism and midlife introspection in subsequent issues.
MURDER INC.: JAGGER ROSE #6
The concluding installment of “Murder Inc.: Jagger Rose” exemplifies a triumph in narrative execution, demonstrating Bendis and Oeming’s masterful restraint in revealing the ultimate narrative crescendo only within the closing pages. Michael Avon Oeming’s artwork champions not only epic visual spectacles through his splash pages but also innovatively intertwines the technological nuances of the narrative to conjure art that stands singularly distinctive within the genre. Moreover, the visual storytelling concurrently amplifies and elegantly intertwines with the top-tier narrative arc, crafting a harmonious narrative-visual synthesis that sets the stage for a compelling future while satisfyingly encapsulating Jagger Rose’s saga. The issue adeptly fills a narrative void in the noir genre, showcasing a unique finesse in storytelling that elicits anticipation for what could potentially unfurl in future endeavors by the creative team.
“Nights #1” envelops readers in a labyrinthine narrative, oscillating between varying temporal plains and unfurling a plethora of characters against the backdrop of an innovative world teeming with a meticulously crafted monster hierarchy. While the narrative endeavors to manifest as a fun, breezy escapade, it inadvertently spirals into a dense, occasionally overwhelming tapestry of plotlines and character arcs. The characters, despite being enveloped in an occasionally chaotic narrative, manage to emanate relatability and enthralling depth, casting promising shadows for potential character development and engagement in future installments. The narrative, robust yet complex, teeters on the verge of becoming an insurmountable cognitive load, suggesting that perhaps a bifurcation of the debut into a more digestible format or a strategic postponement of certain pivotal moments might have enhanced narrative absorption and engagement.
OPERATION SUNSHINE #1
“Operation Sunshine #1” intertwines the creative intellect of Henry Zebrowski and Marcus Parks with the visual narratives crafted by David Rubin, K.J. Diaz, and Ferran Delgado, concocting a vivid exploration of vampire lore interwoven with a compelling quest narrative. Hex and Steve, our vampire-esque “bugs,” embark on a perilous pursuit of a mystical relic from an “OV” (Original Vampire), aspiring to extricate themselves from the vampiric curse. The premise, teeming with freshness and injecting innovative lifeblood into the vampire genre, occasionally encounters hurdles in execution, navigating through sporadic patches of narrative roughness. Despite these, the inaugural issue promulgates a blood-infused horror story that manages to carve its unique niche, inviting readers to daringly step into a vampiric tale illuminated with newfound narrative light.
RICK AND MORTY PRESENTS: FRICKY FRIDAY #1
“Fricky Friday” delivers a quintessential “Rick and Morty” escapade while fans await the franchise’s forthcoming season, embarking on a zany, body-swapping misadventure, yet without notably advancing the overarching narrative landscape. The plot employs the body-swapping trope to excavate and highlight predictably entertaining yet somehow still satisfying dynamics between Rick and Jerry, interweaving comedy with moments of transparent character revelation. Jarrett Williams’ art adheres comfortably to the franchise’s established “house style,” navigating through the narrative without dramatically innovative visual flairs. Although the one-shot offers a slice of the beloved, chaotic universe to tide fans over, it does so without necessarily introducing novel or groundbreaking elements, residing contentedly within the established, familiar confines of the “Rick and Morty” universe.
SPACE USAGI: YOKAI HUNTER #1
In a vibrant blend of folklore and action, “Space Usagi: Yokai Hunter #1” thrusts our dauntless hero, Usagi, into an eerie realm of Japanese spirits, Yokai, each emanating unique, mysterious auras divergent from the others. The narrative hinges on Usagi’s quest, navigating through a spiritual gauntlet to rescue a charcoal maker’s abducted daughter. His path is strewn with assorted Yokai, each presenting their own distinctive challenges and terrors, forming a formidable obstacle course that brilliantly showcases Usagi’s unyielding determination and fearless commitment to a perilous mission others would shy away from. His relentless pursuit through spectral hurdles, coupled with a conclusion shrouded in enigmatic curiosity, leaves an anticipatory ember glowing, beckoning readers towards an unraveling mystery in subsequent issues.
“Starsigns” seamlessly interweaves enchanting narratives and riveting action, sustaining its high-concept zodiac-superhero premise with a pulsating vitality and continual potential. Issue #5 witnesses the turbulent convergence of two rogue zodiac superhero factions, culminating in a conflict that is as illuminating of character nuances as it is physically tumultuous. The story sails on a tide of impactful character moments, set against the strikingly executed visual tapestry crafted by Megan Levens. The cosmic conflicts, underlined by intriguingly multifaceted characters, enable “Starsigns” to perpetually radiate a charm and dynamic that promises a rich reservoir of future storytelling and character exploration.
UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY #26
Persisting in its ambitious narrative expanse, “Undiscovered Country #26” extends the series’ legacy of grandiose, albeit occasionally bloated, storytelling. This voluminous issue unfurls yet another segment of its post-apocalyptic world, intersecting eerily with real-world themes of a global pandemic and international strife. Despite the striking temporal relevance and the skillfully timed release, the narrative at times teeters on the edge of emotional vacuity, presenting a spectacle that, while visually and conceptually massive, can sometimes echo with an unsettling hollowness. Even amidst the tales of pandemics and geopolitical tensions, the story occasionally misses infusing a palpable consequentiality into its sprawling world, rendering some moments as majestic yet distant spectacles. It effortlessly conveys global catastrophe and country tensions but struggles to consistently anchor these themes with a resonating sense of tangible impact or emotional depth.