October 20, 2021

Fun Girls

Shopping & Women Not Included

Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 6/23/2021

38 min read

Welcome to this week in comic book reviews! The staff have come together to read and review nearly everything that released today. It isn’t totally comprehensive, but it includes just about everything from DC and Marvel with the important books from the likes of Image, Boom, IDW, Scout, Aftershock, and more.

The review blurbs you’ll find contained herein are typically supplemented in part by longform individual reviews for significant issues. This week that includes Infinite Frontier #1, Gamma Flight #1, Black Hammer: Reborn #1, Good Luck #1, and Vinyl #1.

Also, in case you were curious, our ratings are simple: we give a whole number out of five; that’s it! If you’d like to check out our previous reviews, they are all available here.

DC #1

After coming across strange refugees who appear to be possibly Kryptonian in origin, Superman finds himself not only trying to find out exactly who they are and rescue those who remain enslaved—which may lead to some hard questions about a lost Kryptonian colony—but there are larger issues to face as well, including an attack by powerful sea kaiju and the shadow of war as the government finds out about Atlantis’ powerful new object. With all these moving parts, Action Comics #1032 could be a real mess, but Phillip Kennedy Johnson makes it work and work beautifully by keeping they story centered around good characterization, particularly when it comes to Superman and to a slightly lesser extent, Lois Lane. His writing in this issue both respects the core of the characters as readers know them, but develops them even further, showing a real humanity and a sense of ownership for not only actions but consequences and errors, all of which helps drive the plot. The opening scene of the issue in particular is truly one of the great Superman scenes in comics. On top of that the art this issue is lovely and there are some moments where the work on Superman’s face feels very real. The only real criticism here overall is one that probably is more applicable to DC more broadly and that is that they don’t really seem to know quite what they want to do with Aquaman. While that isn’t necessarily this book’s direct problem, it ends up being the weakest part of the issue. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4 out of 5

Batman/Superman has been a wild ride since Gene Luen Yang took over, and while it is sadly ending, the book is going out with a bang. The reality traveling story is fun and lighthearted, and things really pick up when Yang takes things to the wild west, the stomping grounds of El Diablo. The art team of Emanuela Lupacchino, Steve Lieber, Darick Robertson, and Kyle Hotz have a ball with this particular reality as well, and somehow things kick into an even more over-the-top gear by issue’s end. This particular issue starts out a little slower than the previous issues in the story, but it picks up considerably in the second half, and it feels like the conclusion will be worth it in the end. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

If I’m being honest, I didn’t know what to expect going into Batman: Reptilian, which made the experience of reading it both fascinating and a little underwhelming. The issue basically consists of different vignettes of Batman trying to uncover a grisly conspiracy, and coldly intimidating various people in his path. This song and dance starts to wear a little thin until the back half of the issue, when the actual intriguing circumstances of the series begin to be revealed (and then met, coldly, by Batman). While Garth Ennis’ script has just enough mystery to keep readers interested, his take on Batman feels frustratingly one-note, reducing him into the outdated trope of the sociopathic boogeyman. Outside of the general mystery of the series, the biggest highlight of the series is Liam Sharp’s art, with a handpainted aesthetic that starts out a little too dark and cold but grows into something genuinely interesting by the issue’s end. Overall, Batman: Reptilian # 1 is a mixed bag in every sense of the word—but one that I’m somewhat intrigued to see through to the next issue. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3 out of 5

The unbeatable team of writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Alex Maleev, and colorist David Stewart return with another new event for DC Comics with the revival of Checkmate. Picking up from the pages of Event Leviathan, the story walks a fine tightrope of being reader friendly while also referencing what took place in the narrative. Maleev and Stewart do tremendous work the insane roster of characters that make up this team and if this issue is an indicator of the things being cooked up then we’ll be in for a treat by the time Checkmate #6 is published. As is typically the case, your mileage may vary with Bendis’ brand of humor but since story features a lot of characters he hasn’t put his mark on in a big way it’s fun to see this time around. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Detective Comics #1038 shows that the corruption of Gotham City can’t be solved by one new mayor or a new status quo. While Batman and Huntress try to solve a series of murders pinned on Bruce Wayne, they are hampered by one of Gotham’s elite, who is out for revenge after his daughter’s death. In some ways, Roland Worth is a fitting foil for Batman—a physically imposing member of the bourgeois who uses his wealth and power to get away with literal murder. However, it seems weird that he’s suddenly able to go toe to toe with Batman, even with Batman’s currently hampered resources. The backup issue by Meghan Fitzpatrick and Karl Mostert mostly serves as a primer for Penguin’s reintroduction as a force in Gotham, hinting at how he might factor into Gotham’s future. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Dreaming: Waking Hours reaches the penultimate chapter of its venture into faerie with commentary on revolution, power, and trans identity. Through Heather After—one of the best new characters to show up in comics recently—G. Willow Wilson reflects on who wields power, warning against putting too much faith in leaders. Nick Robles provides his usual expressive and, at times, unnerving visual style. At the same time, M.K. Perker depicts the flashbacks with a more restrained, darker aesthetic that wouldn’t be out of place during the era of Sandman‘s conception. It’s a strong outing for a great series headed towards this current story’s climactic finish. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

With Kevin taken by Hugo Strange, Harley has to take a step back, but a pep talk from Solomon Grundy sets her on a daring rescue that may lead her right into Strange’s hands this week in Harley Quinn #4 and for the first time, Riley Rossmo’s art really seems to come together. It’s still not my personal cup of tea, but it is more evolved and elevated this issue which marks a major improvement. Stephanie Phillips’ grasp of Harley, already strong, continues to be stronger each issue. However, this issue really hits a stall in terms of plot and pacing. Even with Rossmo’s art hitting a stride, the actual story it is supporting simply doesn’t move leaving the issue to be little more than a fun and pretty piece of mostly filler. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 3 out of 5

Infinite Frontier #1 is the strong start this newest chapter of DC Comics desperately needed—and I’m so very glad it’s here now. This first issue turns with heart, spectacle, and mystery in a near-effortless production showcasing an eclectic array of characters. In a roundabout way, Williamson’s script also proves just what DC Comics’ universe is capable of with a story that reads like a modernization of weird 1980s team-ups. Combined with Xermanico’s timeless art, Infinite Frontier #1 delivers a captivating adventure, one well worth the wait. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 5 out of 5

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DC #2

Comic Reviews - Infinite Frontier #1
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

What stands out most about Justice League #63 is the sense of hope that permeates through every single page, as even in the darkest circumstances you feel as if the League’s faith in humanity and each other never wavers. Brian Michael Bendis’ penchant for witty dialogue only accentuates that more optimistic tone, though the best showcase for this fresh lease on life is n how the League reacts to Naomi. Black Canary, Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, and Flash all interact with her differently, but they all feel genuine in their intention. David Marquez and Ivan Plascencia keep things moving with fight scenes full of style and vivid colors, and some truly inventive layouts help liven things up as well. On the Justice League Dark side, Ram V continues a stellar run with our favorite supernatural heroes, with a story full of the fantastical you’ve come to expect and memorable moments brought to stunning life by Xermanico and Romulo Fajardo Jr. No where else do you get a team finding a way out of a storybook and a scientific experiment on a magic helmet, and while it’s not the best chapter of Dark’s story, it is still charming and entertaining enough for an easy recommend. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

Readers shouldn’t expect their reactions to change at all between issues #1 and #2 of Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom. The surprising antagonist who arrived at the debut’s cliffhanger pushes events ahead, but doesn’t shed much light on their origins or issue with Shilo Norman. Instead, they provide a ticking clock that forces Shilo to bounce between all of the same characters and conflicts he’s seen before. All of them are addressed, but none in a fashion that’s satisfying as none of them create any real sense of progress. Shilo’s vapid attitude isn’t improved much by some juvenile humor used to overwrite his selfishness on a first date. When some new information is produced, it’s a plot-driven addition that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny with even more Fourth World-inspired designs that don’t quite capture the power or creativity found in the originals. This is a disappointing follow up that suggests not much will change (or advance) before the final issue. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Robin continues to grow its cast as the tournament looms ahead. Following Ravager and Damian to a beach party proves every bit as readers of Robin #2 migh have anticipated, featuring a few new faces and several moments sure to pay off later in the series. The focus for issue #3 rests with two specific inhabitants of the island—one of whom was only hinted at before. Each encounter lays out the long game for this story, establishing rival and mentor figures who are bound to play upon Damian’s psychology in an interesting fashion. While this issue swerves the furthest from action storytelling so far, Melnikov delivers another outstanding spread with the promise of even more detailed beatdowns evident. The careful attention to foundations, introductions, and style across the first 3 issues of Robin make it clear this is a story with a lot of care and attention being applied, which makes the already high stakes seem all the greater. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Superman #32 concludes two separate stories showing different facets of the Superman world. Superman and Jon Kent battle against the Shadowbreed, an alien entity who can possess sentient beings. While the lead story is a mostly action-packed finale, it also shows the small differences between Superman and his son, likely setting up bigger things in the future. It’s a solid Superman story, albeit one that plays it pretty safe. The Metropolis backup feature also comes to an end, with Bibbo and Jimmy Olsen finally defeating the Projectress with their ragtag group of allies. To be honest, this entire b-story felt very disjointed and weird to me. It felt very contrived and pointless, even if it did reintroduce more of Superman’s supporting cast. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 3 out of 5

This issue takes a bit of a different scope and scale to Teen Titans Academy, focusing less on the larger roster and more on the “Bat Pack”, as they lead their extracurricular investigation to unmask Red X. While the narrative spirals into something that’s both predictable and a bit more than meets the eye, it has fun where it needs to, especially when it comes to showcasing the voices of some of the title’s newer recruits. And with Steve Lieber on art—which lends itself to some subtle, but delightful visual gags—the journey of it all just ends up being genuinely fun. This quasi-detour shows just how much potential Teen Titans Academy has as an ensemble title, and here’s hoping that sense of charm and style continues going forward. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 4 out of 5

Having left Asgard, Diana moves onto her actual afterlife in Wonder Woman #773 only to find Olympus in ruins and the gods dead. Now, it’s up to her to journey to the Graveyard of the Gods to recover their souls. Even in the afterlife, Wonder Woman’s job is never done and honestly, that’s where Michael Conrad and Becky Cloonan shine. All of the development they’ve put in with Diana in Asgard really pays off here. What could feel like more of the same with Diana’s afterlife seeming like a series of increasingly complicated quests instead feels richer and more complex but also very “Wonder Woman”. They also do a fantastic job of introducing new elements to this story in a way that is engaging and makes it all fresh. On top of that, there’s a tone shift in the art this issue, with Andy MacDonald and Nick Filardi taking on Olympus with a harder edge that is more suited to the setting and it is an excellent fit. If there is any one small negative to the whole issue is that it is a little too exposition heavy, but other than that, it’s fantastic. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Each of these stories in this anthology focusing on Diana of Themyscara is able to offer a fresh and endearing look at the DC character Wonder Woman. If you’ve been looking for a single issue to give to potential comic readers to summarize the character of Wonder Woman, this is perhaps the best bet as we get a nice examination of Diana throughout her history. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marvel #1

The Amazing Spider-Man pushed forward with issue 69 this week, and it spins Peter Parker’s work-life balance out of whack. While his sister deals with a chameleon conspiracy on her own, Spider-Man is left to save his friend after their tech comes into the wrong hands. But by the end of things, Peter is no closer to setting things right than he (or his sister) was to start. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

Captain Marvel’s magical road trip has taken her to some very unexpected places, and that’s kind of what makes this latest arc so entertaining. Kelly Thompson knows what makes Carol tick, and the internal conflict of if the ends justify the means is immensely compelling precisely because a case can be made on both sides. Creating a space where the typically confident Captain is out of her element allows the Danvers charm and spontaneity to come through in spades, and the pairing of Carol and Enchantress is one I wouldn’t hate to see again either. Jacopo Camagni and Espen Grundetjern are a perfect pair for this leg of the adventure and bring out the best in these characters and their surroundings whether they’re sitting for tea or fighting massive creatures in the depths of the ocean. All of the intrigue and action is balanced with just the right amount of heartbreak and self-reflection, and this Captain Marvel adventure seems to be only getting better from here. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

Fantastic Four: Life Story pivots its perspective between chapters focusing on the voice and narrative of Sue Storm with a quasi-omniscient character voice in captions. It pulls her out from the shadows amidst the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s with at least one notable cameo encouraging Sue to make herself a more visible woman. This twin focus on character and era makes for an excellent one-shot that’s only enhanced by a knowledge of Marvel Comics true history. However, this more singular focus also leads to a disconnect from what came before. Johnny and Ben are barely present, but more strangely, Franklin is absent in a story focused on his parents’ crumbling marriage. Reed fares better, at least in the narrative attention he receives, with a clear concept of a man obsessed with his career during his 30s and 40s. Life Story fails to entirely recapture the balance that made the first issue so promising, but still contains a solid appreciation of history and character that works in some regards, if not all. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Gamma Flight #1 is definitely worth your attention if you are engrossed in Al Ewing’s run on The Immortal Hulk. This first issue might not have much action or excitement, but the writing and characters are more than enough to pull readers in. If you have been reading The Immortal Hulk in any form over the past few years, this is an easy add for your pull list. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’m not sure I remember the last time Al Ewing played it safe. The Marvel mainstay goes above and beyond with each script he pushes out, and Guardians of the Galaxy #15 is a perfect example of that. Ewing is always scheming for the next big thing and here, that means a plot that transcends a single title. He manages to balance the ensemble of not only this Guardians of the Galaxy comic, but that of his S.W.O.R.D. title as well and manages to have them sing in harmony. This issue is packed to the brim with characters and not all of them get their time to shine, but the spotlight is placed on the spots it needs to be. You already know Juan Frigeri’s the perfect Guardians artist, and his line art is more exceptional than ever here. This story is getting real big, real fast and combined with one hell of a cliffhanger, it’s hard to make an argument against reading this book. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

Heroes Return #1 is okay and that’s probably the best and also the most complete thing one can say about it. The issue is the true finale to the “Heroes Reborn” event and sees the Squadron Supreme fight it out with the Avengers with the fate of reality in the balance. Even before you go into the issue you know how it’s going to end. The Avengers are going to win, Coulson is going to be defeated and while Mephisto is behind it all and doens’t win this day, he’s still got more plans for more schemes ao this is probably only the beginning. We’ll be revisiting this chaos down the road. All of that just makes this a 90s-esque punch ’em up of a comic with very little actual storytelling and it’s fine. The art is pretty solid, and the fights are fun even if the dialogue and quips are a bit lacking. It’s just okay and it works well enough as an end for an event that I’m still struggling to understand the point of. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 3 out of 5

Marvel’s first ever queer-centered special, Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1, sets out to be an anthology featuring stories celebrating their “growing tapestry” of LGBTQ+ characters in all-new tales from a wide range of creators and on its face, that’s exactly what the issue does. With 12 stories each featuring different characters and experiences in the Marvel Universe, the issue does deliver new stories for a pretty wide variety of characters. Unfortunately, very few of those stories are more than a superficial attempt at truly sharing or celebrating the LGBTQ+ experience. From the very opening of the issue, Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 feels more like a rainbow-tinted marketing ploy than anything of substance, but it only gets worse in many of the stories. For many, it’s just cute dating scenarios where everything is sweet and cheerful. In others, there’s more problematic representation. The stories that offer transgender representation both feel too glib and dependent upon potentially harmful stereotypes. And when it comes to the issue’s bisexual representation, Kieron Gillen’s story “Colossus” read less like a story of experience and celebration and more like an attempt to justify that bisexuality does in fact exist. The real standout of the issue is Leah Williams’ Black Cat story as it broke away from using its space as a billboard declaring how queer it was and instead told a nuanced and engaging story that has real potential outside the pages of this poorly considered anthology. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Reptil just keeps hitting all the right notes for me, both in utilizing the character’s premise and grounding all of the dinosaur magic chaos with humor and a delightful supporting cast. In just two issues Terry Blas has made Eva and Julian two of my favorite characters, and they are as important to Humberto’s growth as a person and a hero as anything else in this story. Likewise, the mythology surrounding Reptil and Dinosaur Island was unexpected but more than welcome, and not going to lie, Eva and Julian’s little speech to Humberto had me all up in my feelings (but in the best way). Enid Balam and Victor Olazaba seem to be having a ball with the premise as well, and find creative new ways to utilize Reptil’s unique powerset. I still dislike that villain design, but I do like the intrigue surrounding their identity, so here’s hoping the character can rise above the suit. This is one of my most pleasant 2021 surprises, and anyone looking for something charming and full of action and heart owes it to themselves to give this a shot. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Marvel #2

Comic Reviews - Gamma Flight #1
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

The Hellfire Gala has had its fireworks. Now S.W.O.R.D. has to tend to the fires they started. Al Ewing shows S.W.O.R.D. using Krakoa’s offer to the nations of Earth as a template for a similar offer intended to turn Planet Arakko and the Sol system into a significant player on the galactic stage. Valerio Schti sweeping, dramatic art couple with Marte Gracia’s lush colors make the diplomatic negotiations feel operatic where they could be dull. Add to that a more personal b-plot involving Magneto and S.W.O.R.D. #6 proves to be a weighty and beautifully crafted issue. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Silk #4 digs deep into the history of Cindy’s new foe, and it turns out Saya has more than enough reason to be on edge. After being harassed by her supervillain dad, Saya is ready to prove herself different from Silvermane, but she is down a lackey after a fight. And when Cindy least expects it, she gets a call for help from the most unlikely of places. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

In pursuit of Han Solo, Vader works with Ochi of Bestoon and Bokku the Hutt in hopes of learning his whereabouts, ultimately putting him on a collision course with IG-88, who is on his own secretive mission. There’s quite a lot of moving pieces all at play in this book, which marks for a drastic change from the series up to this point, which was largely driven singularly by Vader. Despite bringing in Ochi, Bokku, and IG-88, readers will surely revel with delight in the absurdity of the situation, with this installment being one of the more lighthearted entries into a series focusing much more on Vader’s rage. The book also features some unexpected reveals from obscure yet memorable characters, igniting speculation about who’s really pulling the strings. The less we question the explanation for this journey, the better, as we can instead focus on the overall ridiculousness of the events unfolding. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

Kevin Shinick and Alberto Jiminez Alburquerque’s Spider-Romp is a light and breezy affair, but it truly works for this issue as it mostly revolves around Spider-Man and his new “Iron Man” Class battling against a faux-Green Goblin. While this doesn’t break the wheel, it’s a definite fun read that would work well at introducing a new generation to comics and the Marvel Universe inside of the books. This second issue clicks much better than the first, which spent time laying the groundwork for the premise, with this new entry able to dive head first into this world that blends the comics and the films. –– Evan Valentine

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

“Hellfire Gala” readers have been witnessing Nightcrawler’s drunken antics for 3 weeks now and Way of X #3 wisely doesn’t spend too much time on them as it quickly moves into the after-party and more coherent contemplations of a stable mutant society. Given that there is still an abundance of drunken revelry that quickly focuses on the first law of Krakoa: Make more mutants. Spurrier drafts something of a tour on the social implications that this new nation and its unique norms are having on procreation and population growth; it’s well considered and certainly delivers a persuasive case against some readings of that language. Quinn makes that tour a luscious experience for reader’s eyes on both Krakoa and Arrako, with quirky outfits and inspired backgrounds. As a philosophical inquisition on what Jonathan Hickman hath wrought, Way of X #3 clarifies its focus while continuing to provide the humor and psychedelic action that readers expect from this vein of superhero fare. Way of X is challenging and inventive and entertaining, which is an excellent trifecta for any series to achieve, especially one with this much territory to cover. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

The “Hellfire Gala” event continues with the Terra Verdeans suddenly realizing what the Mutants had recently done to them, prompting Wolverine, X-Force and Deadpool (who is barely featured, don’t let the cover get you too excited) to quiet things down as the party continues. Wolverine #13 is barely a Wolverine comic but does keep the story chugging along and gives Beast an interesting character beat. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

It’s a joy to have the Simonsons returning to X-Factor, but it’s hard not to wish that the story in X-Men: Legends had more of a point. Instead, it only fills in a minor gap in Walter and Louise’s original X-Factor run, deliberating contriving reasons to mask and distance some of the key players in the story to not accidentally create new holes in the story. Louise Simonson still has a strong grasp on these characters, and Walter Simonsons is a singular artistic talent, but X-Men: Legends continues to feel like a pointless endeavor. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Other Publishers #1

With the second part of the “Star Seed” arc, secrets are revealed, Andy, Effie, and their allies attempt to escape Sampson, and the fight makes its way to Dirishu-6. It sounds like a lot, but this issue sees everything that the series has been building come together. Tim finishes his story, we see Mila properly introduced to him as Mother’s forces find their outpost and Andy and Effie begin to realize that something might be happening on their old homeworld. Jeff Lemire deftly weaves these three very complex stories together in what feels like a near perfect advancement of the story at hand and the overall series. There’s an excellent flow to things, a compelling pace, fantastic art, and an energy to what’s presented that feels like the series is at a major jumping off point. Yes, this is an issue largely of setup, but Lemire and Nguyen have managed to pull of one that is very, very, very well-done. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Bequest manages to end on a satisfying high note, giving each of the characters at least one standout moment as the tale reaches its final climax. I’m not sure the series ever reached its full potential of its “D&D Campaign set in the real world” premise, but they gave it a good try. — Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

Bitter Root continues to push the Sangerye Family to their respective extremes, with multiple members of the family trying their own methods to root out the true nature of the Janoo and the other threats that are now plaguing all of mankind. It’s a natural evolution of the plotline and shows the family’s resilience, as they each struggle to understand and to solve an issue that has haunted their kin for generations. It’s another fantastic issue of one of the best series in recent years. Every issue is a must read. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 5 out of 5

Black Hammer: Reborn #1 has nearly everything a fan of this world could ask for. There are crossovers and surprises galore, and this issue feels like it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most importantly, however, the comic stays true to itself. It stays true to the Black Hammer creed. It falls in line tonally with the stories that have come before it while propelling the narrative forward for the first time in years. It manages to find a perfect balance between character and story, giving readers enough character beats to get invested and enough of a plot to keep you interested. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Claire and the Dragons #1 is a foreboding opening chapter for a strange (but good) fantasy series. Set in a world where humanity seems to struggle against both external and internal threats, many communities have turned to strange superstitions to help appease unseen creatures and spirits. Creator Wander Antunes does a fantastic job of introducing plenty of intrigue to this world without laying on the fantasy elements in too thick. And Claire is a wonderful protagonist, albeit one who seems to get kidnapped perhaps a bit too often. My only major criticism is the inconsistent lettering – its often off-center or inconsistent and looks more like something you’d see out of a scanlation than an actual published comic book. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

Cold Dead War is getting pretty mindless, which isn’t a bad thing. This third issue is filled from front to back with pretty much nothing but zombies killing Nazis, which sure makes for a fun spectacle. The art in this book is also likely the best that we have seen in the series up until this point. While this continues to not be a series that I would suggest for its deep storytelling, Cold Dead War at least remains a fun read and is worth looking into if you’d like a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Other Publishers #2

Firefly #30 continues the story of the Serenity crew’s unexpected reunion and their trip to Earth That Was, with writer Greg Pak weaving in commentary on environmentalism, climate change anxiety, and the historic treatment of indigenous people. Those are worthwhile themes that serve as an interesting backdrop, but there’s a bit too much going on in this issue to keep track of between the quick history lesson, the three-way battle, and the emotional tension going on with Zoe, Washbot, and the rest of the crew. The artwork veers too far into the cartoonish, at times feeling empty and flat, to convey the weight of the situation. It’s serviceable and gets some bonus points for trying to imbue the comic with more worthy thematic underpinnings than its source material. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3 out of 5

I love much of what’s in Giga #4. The series’ ambition and scope continue to widen and, while its concept may be fantastical in nature, its connections to modern struggles are undeniable. Giga #4 addresses the rise of sectarian violence and questions the relationship between individuals and systems in shaping history; it’s weighty stuff and well considered here. However, approximately midway through this issue I found myself removed from the story due to the lack of a clear timeline. There is a notable jump forward which goes unremarked and the remaining pages are left to be questioned and assembled into an unclear chronology as so many critical choices and ideas are delivered on the page. It’s not hard to see the need for compression considering how much has been unveiled across 4 issues with plans for a momentous climax in #5, but it’s also difficult to engage with what’s best in this miniseries when it’s unclear how events on the page connect to one another. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

In some ways, Good Luck reminds me of a Grant Morrison or Alan Moore comic book on a sugar high. This story tackles some of the same metaphysical themes and concepts you would find in the best, classic Vertigo series, but underlines it with a surprising level of optimism and fun instead of cynicism, dread, or fatalism. The Unfortunates may be destined to fail, but I will be rooting for them regardless. Reading Good Luck #1 will lend you smile as you consider our weird world and the endless possibilities it presents. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Following its initial story arc, Home Sick Pilots #6 provides a restart to which new readers can quickly acclimate themselves and serves to reframe issues #1-5 as something of a prologue. The key strength of this new beginning is its focus with a single setting framing the struggles of two young punk rockers in terrifying circumstances. While the issue is exposition heavy, it frames coverage of what came before and where the survivors plan to head next in a natural series of conversations and introductions with plenty of terrifying details hovering about the periphery. The ghost designs and sense of scale in Home Sick Pilots have always been excellent, but the concept has struggled to cohere. In this issue readers see a clear vision of how the series understands rebellion and systems as it utilizes America’s military-industrial complex for villains, which requires very little imagination even when ghosts are involved. While I struggled with the series’ opening arc, Home Sick Pilots #6 does an excellent job of reintroducing its concept in a fashion that’s inviting and might even make those first 5 issues more accessible. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Outerverse continues to grow with this unique side path into one of its most unique new characters, Imogen of the Wyrding Way. This new one-shot form writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden and artist Peter Bergting is a fun path that expands on a magical side of the universe that has previously been unexplored. There’s a deft balancing act on display in the series as it’s able to maintain a self-contained storyline that is newcomer friendly but also offers devout readers a lot of threads to connect to other books (even another one out this week in Lady Baltimore). The only downside is that some panels stick out as being off, but Bergting does great work with the monsters in the narrative. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters possesses the scope of an epic—taking a small introductory point to expand upon a world filled with massive conflicts, colorful characters, and unending adventure, not unlike the earliest issues of Bone. Even though issue #4 marks the end of the series’ first arc, it simply reads as the next natural step in a much longer journey. Nomi and Gor, last issue’s new arrivals, are provided with a showcase that defines their personalities, abilities, and relationship primarily through action. It’s their choices and the presentation of how those choices play out that provide a tremendously informative character study primarily populated with dialogue of shouts and grunts. That action takes all of the space it needs and rewards multiple readings as it’s all but certain these two capable adults will reappear. Yet the final pages of issue #4 continue to propel the story forward and explore new territory, leaving readers with just enough foreshadowing of disasters on the horizon to keep them gripped until Jonna returns in August. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jules Verne’s Lighthouse goes live this week with issue three, and the update is a dark one that pries into the atrocities of war. When our heroine becomes a war criminal, readers will be left to pick out who is the true villain in this hostage crisis. As more details about the galaxy’s war goes live, the line between black and white is blurred entirely, and a hunt for survival is the only thing left keeping our heroine afloat. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #3

The storylines in Killadelphia have started to converge in issue #14 which definitely makes it a much easier read. One of the great strengths of Rodney Barnes’ work on this title is how complex and multi-faceted the storytelling is, but when there are so many stories all at once, it gets to be hard to follow, especially when visually Jason Shawn Alexander’s art doesn’t differentiate especially well (though it is really strong art). With John Adams now teamed up with the Sangsters and Abigail Adams on her own campaign of terror, the two sides are heading for a violent clash it’s all about timing. To an extent, that timing does falter a bit here. We have a clearer look at where things are going with the Sangsters and what Abigail wants, but the narrative remains a little messy. There also is a strange detour for one of the characters to what appears to be the resurrection of Christ that makes for a curious place to close the issue and signals that some wild things are about to come out of this good, but just average issue. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 3 out of 5

Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden continue to remind you why they’re one of the best writing duos in comics, further propelling their new series in the Outerverse to further heights with another spellbinding issue. Artist Bridgit Connell remains the MVP, juggling the responsibility of bringing dramatic beats, expository moments, surprise betrayal, evil witches, other magical characters and surprise plash pages to life while making it look easy. This issue is a must read for fans of this storytelling world too, even if the series as a whole is not to be missed, but all the threads come together for a rewarding read for everyone keeping up with the Outerverse. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Manifest Destiny #44 lays out the stakes and prepares the players for its final act with only 4 issues left to go. This is fundamentally table setting for what’s still to come as the issue simultaneously introduces characters American history buffs have been anticipating and clearing away distractions. When this issue it at its best, it is directly addressing the real motives and terrible cost associated with this expedition—as the same genocidal tactics first directed at the Ferzon are considered for human beings transforming a speciesist worldview to a brazenly racist one with little effort. That darkness when confronted is Manifest Destiny at its best and it appears that will be the series’ focus as it arrives on the west coast. However, the work of table setting surrounding this final refocusing of the survivors towards their dark deed makes this issue feel like what it is: narrative positioning for future payoffs. Read as part of a collection this may represent the lull before the storm, but as an individual issue it only leaves me with the same interest I entered the issue with: to witness these dark deeds and their consequences. I suppose we only need to wait one more month. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Modern Frankenstein has embraced its status as a pulpy genre riff, but that doesn’t excuse narrative shortcuts which avoid investing any tension into these recognizable dramatic arrangements. In the course of a single issue, The Modern Frankenstein #3 introduces an easily disliked new character and charts what happens to him upon encountering Dr. Frankenstein. This fleshes out both the consequences of these experiments and chart Dr. Cleve’s descent, but fails to produce much interest in the event itself. Changes are instantaneous with no sense of time or evolution, and the solution arrives with the same sense of “and then this happened” pacing. It transforms a bloody affair into something that is best described as mystifying and insipid. The aforementioned descent still holds a lot of promise, but The Modern Frankenstein #3 takes a detour from that promise for a narrative that fails to properly invest readers in what’s actually occurring. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Aftershock’s story of a “nuclear family” displaced to a war-torn alternate reality has an ending that is somewhat predictable, but exacerbates on the series ultimately not being able to make readers truly care for the insane predicament of the mini-series. The star of the picture remains Tony Shasteen’s artwork, whose realistic style definitely works well at setting the scene, as dark and depressing as that scene may be. Nuclear Family seems ultimately like a missed opportunity and a tale that could have used more time management to get to know the characters. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Most anthologies are a mixed bag by their very nature, but the careful curation of talented creatives alongside a premise that spans millennia continues to produce consistently excellent short comics stories. “Passchendaele” proves that the pairing of Bendis and Oeming still possesses a lot of potential in a story that is improved considerably by possessing some historical knowledge in advance (I’d recommend googling the title). Clear grids combined with a 70s aesthetic frame a largely silent flashback beautifully and make the soft, curved lines on its final page significantly more impactful. Even read without knowing who Andromache is, this serves as a character study capable of revealing two individuals without needing to explain either in prose. “Lacus Solitudinis” lacks some of that nuance, all but stating its key ideas, but also makes it clear why the creative team behind Compass is one to follow. They quickly establish modern settings in an immersive format and when action does arrive, they make each moment matter. It’s an ugly little story, but one that clearly reflects its essential questions about violence. Regardless of your connection to The Old Guard, Tales Through Time proves to be an unreservedly excellent anthology of top comics creators. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Mark Torres’ art is once again the undisputed highlight of Phantom on the Scan. But while the etherial imagery does some fantastic work displaying the sullen mood and the different ways each character’s telekinesis works, it has comes with the downside of being difficult to decipher during action scenes. So get ready for a few disorienting pages early on before the story gets rolling again. — Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #4

Once again Power Rangers pushes and expands what is expected from a Power Rangers story, traveling further into the grey and exploring the pre-conceived notions of what the greater good really means. Zack’s journey is especially compelling, as Ryan Parrott pushes him to explore his own baggage, his defense mechanisms, and assumptions of others’ intent and motives. Meanwhile, Francesco Mortarino and Raul Angulo knock the massive scale battle out of the park, not to mention those surprising last few pages. Power Rangers #8 is a lovely mix of stylish action, rich character work, and epic storytelling, and things can only get better from here. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

So I’m pretty sure it was the goal of every book I read this week to either knock the wind out of me or turn me into a puddle, and Sea of Stars #10 certainly attempted both. The reunion we’d all been waiting for turned into something quite the opposite, and Jason Aaron and Dennis Hallum seem to enjoy playing with your expectations, including two twists towards the end that will have you sufficiently hyped for the big finale. Stephen Green and Rico Renzi did some stellar work as well, delivering an issue that enjoys catching your eye as much as it enjoys punching you in the stomach. The team saved some of their best for last it seems, and it should be one heck of a finale next month. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

With readers largely being as confused by Zadie’s situation as she is herself, this issue finally answers some burning questions while still keeping the future of the narrative an enigma. Now that we, and Zadie, have a better handle on the situation, the book is continuing to descend into a dark and fantastical world full of government cover-ups and magical powers. Luckily, it isn’t an entirely dreadful affair, as we’re given moments of levity in which Zadie lets her teen-aged angst shine, all while establishing a new status quo for the major players in the book. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

Another issue of Shadowman, another adventure in which our hero faces off against the forces of darkness. The experience of reading this book is dizzying, as we are both overwhelmed with exposition while also being left with countless questions. Readers are delivered so much jargon and mythology, it’s hard to keep anything straight, but artist Jon Davis-Hunt’s images are so compelling, it’s hard to look away. Knowing writer Cullen Bunn’s history and previous work, all of this disorienting information will surely build towards something that will make it all make sense in retrospect, but, much like the main character himself, this issue will leave you feeling like you’re still stuck in the shadows. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

I was not prepared for Something Is Killing the Children #17, and I’m not even being hyperbolic in the least. Last issue we started to get a real sense of Erica’s origins and how she came to be the monster slayer we know today, but this issue blows that one out of the water. James Tynion IV’s dialogue and pacing is brilliant throughout, and the bond forming between Jessica and Erica feels organic and earned, as does the conversation with Aaron that can’t help but sway your pre-conceived notions. One point flows into the next with precision and fluidity, and it allows each moment to have its necessary impact, resulting in an issue that can’t help but pull on the heartstrings as a growing sense of dread raises the tension to a fever pitch. This just might be my favorite issue of the series thus far, and the next issue can’t get here soon enough. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

It’s rare for an anniversary celebration to effectively celebrate its subject, but that’s exactly what Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Special accomplishes in this over-sized anthology. Much of what works is contained in the first story, “Seasons of Chaos,” spanning 60 pages. It quickly develops a complete story which seemingly captures all of the best elements found in Sonic comics. There’s a mischievous sense of humor capable of eliciting genuine laughter, a colorful collage of characters constantly creating new connections, and consistent artwork the delivers all of the laughs and charm found in this eccentric setting. If you wanted to introduce someone to Sonic comics this would be the perfect story to begin with; a comic that manages to work for the expectations of adults and children alike in a bona fide all-ages affair. Both of the short stories function similarly well. “Sonic Learns to Drive” centers on a single joke and runs out the entire tank over 10 pages, although the addition of a capybara to Sonic’s supporting cast is more than welcome. “Dr. Eggman’s Birthday” offers a perfect final note as it emphasizes what is best about Sonic comics in that no matter how great the threat, every person (and animal) in this story has value and deserves kindness. It’s an excellent outro for an issue that could have presented one perfectly considered summative story. If you’ve never picked up an issue of Sonic the Hedgehog before and are curious why this series has continued to flourish across 3 decades, it would be difficult to find a better introduction than this wonderful anniversary celebration. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Billed as an event more than 300 issues in the making, Spawn’s Universe actually does manage to deliver a debut issue that feels worthy of such a build-up. At almost three times the length of a standard comic, this first entry sets the stage for a variety of threats all hoping to secure a vacant throne of power, which will seemingly require a variety of different Spawns to unite. While the main story that sets up the concept is entertaining enough, it’s really the backup stories that pushes the narrative to new heights. Todd McFarlane scripted the whole experience, ensuring the consistent tone of demons and gods and supernatural creatures, but as we venture throughout time and space, different artists get to put their own spins on familiar iconography, as they lean into medieval fantasy, Western, and realistic themes as we encounter various versions of Spawn. It’s entirely possible that the potential narrative that this initial sets up is what makes it so rewarding, with subsequent issues possibly falling short of those expectations, it’s clear that McFarlane wasn’t kidding about all Spawn roads leading to this, as it’s primed to be the Spawn to end all Spawns. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #5

Comic Reviews - Black Hammer Reborn #1
(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

The book’s first story features a rendezvous between Anakin and Padmé, hoping to make the most of their budding romance, only for their tryst to be interrupted by a group of bounty hunters with some plans of their own. With this issue only featuring half of the story, it’s unclear how fulfilling the conclusion will be, though fans of Anakin and Padmé will surely appreciate the endeavor, particularly the art from Cara McGee, as well as Padmé showing off her resourcefulness. The backup story focuses on an Imperial that Grand Moff Tarkin taps to inspire other Imperials in hopes of further making them dedicate themselves to the agendas of the Galactic Empire. While the narrative is engaging and interesting, it’s unclear what the overall intent with the story is, other than somewhat humanizing the members of the Galactic Empire, though not in a way that adds complexity to the fascist organization. We see glimpses of Tarkin’s conniving ways, but even the Imperial we focus on isn’t necessarily dismayed by Tarkin, instead reminding his fellow soldiers that they’re all in this fight together. Before adding any engaging dynamics to the characters, the book concludes, leaving us wishing this was also only the first part of a longer narrative featuring this character. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

Stray Dogs has continuously put me through the emotional wringer, but yet I still wasn’t quite prepared for just how much the finale would knock me off my feet. Tony Fleecs, Trish Forstner, Brad Simpson, Tone Rodriguez, Chris Burnham, and Lauren Perry have crafted one hell of a conclusion, delivering a finale that left me heartbroken and yet somehow hopeful all at once. It’s not an easy read in places, and it’s not a happy ending for everyone, but I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to see these characters we’ve grown to love make it to the other side of this harrowing journey. Stray Dogs has been one of my absolute favorite books of 2021, and it delivered all the way to the end. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

I feel like every issue this week was on a mission to wreck my soul, and Summoner’s War: Legacy #3 did its best to do just that. The pace picks up right where we left off last issue and doesn’t let up until the very end, and while the stakes are high Justin Jordan breaks up all the tension with some much-needed humor. Luca Claretti and Giovannao Niro’s artwork consistently dazzles in its vivid colors and expressive characters and helps to create a feel of old-school adventure wrapped in a magical style. There’s a very Neverending Story vibe to this adventure that just hits the spot for me, and it’s helped Legacy become a book I can’t help but look forward to month in and month out. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feels like a quiet interlude after the time-travel-infused previous story arc. Oroku Saki—the former Shredder who now has a spectral form after returning from the dead—”haunts” the Turtles, doing what he can to keep them safe and happy as Saki’s attempt to honor the memory of his fallen friend and rival, Splinter. Things don’t stay quiet, as even Shredder can’t be everywhere at once, and we reach the moment of conflict that will presumably fuel this next story arc. Sophie Campbell provides well-written, intimate scenes for characters like Raphael and Alopex, and Nelson Daniel, while skewing toward the simple, fits right in with the artistic style of the book. It does feel like something of a prologue, but it’s a good prologue nonetheless. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Compared to the political intrigue-fueled plots that have powered the series thus far, Transformers #31 feels relatively simple. Cybertron is amidst a civil war, and an Autobot science experiment leads to some teleportation hijinks. Yet there’s still plenty of the hard-to-follow, jargon-laced dialogue that makes the series at times feel impenetrable and artwork that lacks weight. The last page offers a fun tease for fans of the series and possibly a drastic shift in direction, but this issue is a small step towards getting there. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

After a four-month break, Undiscovered Country returns for its third arc and boy, do they swing for the fences with this one. Soule and Snyder are almost too on-the-nose with this one, and the end result is almost a satirical take on imagination and creativity. That said, the risks taken here allowed to book the pivot hard into uncharted waters and Undiscovered Country #13 introduces a promising premise for future issues. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Vinyl #1 details a retired FBI agent’s kidnapping by a murderous cult of flower children and his “best friend”/serial killer’s attempt to rescue him. No matter how absurd that concept seems, and it’s every bit as wild on the page as it is in a summary, I couldn’t escape the sense that I had read this story many times before when perusing this issue. It’s not simply that writer Doug Wagner and artist Daniel Hillyard previously published another eccentric Image Comics series featuring a serial killer in Plastic, although Vinyl doesn’t do much to distinguish itself. It’s that no matter how “strange” this story strives to make itself, it’s ultimately a contrafactum placing some new details and lyrics atop a very familiar tune. This is a serial killer presented as idiosyncratic anti-hero possessing seemingly superhuman abilities in a setting that exudes “strange” from every panel. We’ve seen this before in NailbiterHack/Slash, and an entire generation of stories stewed in creative brains that encountered Natural Born Killers at a young age. And while it does everything to make itself appear unique, it’s anything but original. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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