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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 Black Manta #1, Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #1, and Mazebook #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

Batman #112 is, in broad strokes, little more than a bedazzled version of last week’s Batman: Fear State: Alpha #1. The issue goes back over the same territory: Simon Saint’s weird obsession with the Magistrate and his idea of how to save Gotham, that his plan isn’t going so well thanks to the Scarecrow so now he has to bring in Peacekeepr-01, and all the moving parts of the Bat Family, complete with Batman finally getting back together with them despite being messed with by Scarecrow. The only real difference here is that Tynion has Saint monologuing (via an extended television promo) whilst looking like a bootleg Steve Jobs (which is actually pretty decent art on Jiminez’s part) but nothing, and I can’t stress “nothing” enough, really moves forward unless you consider the introduction of another absolutely ridiculous plot device character , Peacekeeper-X. Batman #112 like so much of everything in recent arcs just feels like a reheated version of things we’ve seen before. At least this time Tynion is recycling his own homework. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2 out of 5

Every issue of Batman/Catwoman has somehow managed to get worse than the one before it, but this week’s Batman/Catwoman #7 is spectacularly awful. Liam Sharp’s art does no favors to Tom King’s already inchorrent and disconnected storytelling, especially with the entire opening of the issue focused on essentially a Bat/Cat sex scene that has no purpose other than to remind readers that Batman really does have a relationship with Catwoman. And speaking of Catwoman, as this series wears on, it becomes increasingly clear that King doesn’t seem to have any idea of how to write her. Or Helena. Or honestly any of the characters. What’s left is this jumbled mess of narratives that seem to just be telling a pretty lackluster story: Joker was really bad and Batman never did anything about it so Catwoman did because she was probably always toxic after all. In the back half of this series, one would have hoped we would be getting something interesting. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 1 out of 5

As comic book villains go Black Manta probably isn’t at the top of most folks’ lists, which is unfortunate. As one of Aquaman’s most significant and dangerous foes, Black Manta, the assassin and the pirate, is an interesting character. So the character is receiving his own limited series written by Chuck Brown with art by Valentine De Landro, colors by Marissa Louise, and letters by Clayton Cowles, offering readers a real opportunity to dig in. However, while Black Manta #1 possesses some intriguing ideas and an interesting overall premise, the first issue has many moving parts that never offer readers quite enough context to warm up to the mystery this story is establishing. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Blue & Gold continues to pile misfortune on Blue Beetle, as he finds himself struggling to balance managing Kord Industries and keeping his best friend alive. At his best, Blue Beetle is a Spider-Man-esque character, a street-level character who relies on his wits to save the day. Writer Dan Jurgens excellently shows that Kord is a character who knows he’s in over his head but keeps trying anyways. Meanwhile, Booster is a hustler extraordinaire who serves as an additional source of misery for Kord, but still has his heart in the right place… sort of. This comic contains classic Blue & Gold shenanigans and is still a very fun read. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

Things are only getting worse for Jess, with the otherworldly forces pushing her to turn on even her closest allies, bringing her to some tragic confrontations. What works so well in this issue is the idea that, as someone struggles with their identity (especially in the less-accepting ’80s), they can feel like they are cursed merely for being who they are. Jess has no one to turn to, no one to believe in her, and even believes that part of her is consumed by darkness in a literal sense. Even without the previous three issues, this installment finds the perfect balance of real-world and supernatural threats, making for a harrowing experience. Additionally, the backup story helps shed light on one of the most iconic objects in The Conjuring universe, which only helps push this issue over the top to become a must-read story for fans of the horror franchise, as they have just enough time to catch up before the final issue is unveiled. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 5 out of 5

Crush & Lobo continues to be the surprising delight of the year. With no particular affinity for either character, it wasn’t easy to know what to expect going in. It turns out it’s a beautiful and fun series with undercurrents about identity regarding what we inherit from our parents. In this fourth issue, Crush must live Lobo’s life as she fills his spot in the prison system (the story includes a few jabs at the inherent inhumanity and callousness of such systems as well). Mariko Tamaki focuses squarely on Crush reclaiming her identity, beautifully emblemized by Amancay Nahuelpan’s name-shaped pane. Meanwhile, Tamra Bonvillain’s stunningly brilliant, neon-tinged colors infuse the book with barely-contained energy, serving as a distinct visual signature. I didn’t see this book coming, but I sure am glad I’m here now. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Jessica Cruz is a fan favorite as a Green Lantern, but she just might become an even bigger favorite as a Yellow Lantern, and no, I did not see myself ever saying such a thing, but here we are. It’s all thanks to writer Ryan Cady, artists Sami Basri and Tom Derenick, colorist Hi-Fi, and letterer Rob Leigh, who are responsible for this week’s Green Lantern 2021 Annual. The story picks up from the short story that revealed Cruz defending a safe station all by herself from Sinestro’s Fear Corps, and now we see how she ended up staying a Yellow Lantern and eventually saving Keli’s life. If you ever doubted just how much of a badass Jessica is, look no further, as not only does she hold her own in every Sinestro scene, but also allows for readers to see the power of fear and how it can be utilized in a completely different way. It also never feels like she’s been manipulated, though you also of course understand that Sinestro has his own motives. When Cruz is in action against Lyssa Drak, Basri and Hi-Fi more than deliver, and Drak has never looked cooler and more like a threat. Plus, not going to lie, I’m always for Hal Jordan getting checked, so that’s an evergreen plus. I would read this as an ongoing series without a second thought, but as an annual, this is a must for any fan of the Corps without a doubt. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Green Lantern has expanded the franchise’s world quite a bit, which is saying something when you’re dealign with a cosmic force like the Corps. In Green Lantern #6 however, some familiar hallmarks return, though they’ve been delightful twisted into something fresh and unknown. Writer Geoffrey Thorne, artist Marco Santucci, and colorist Mike Atiyeh once again showcase why Jo is so highlight regarded as a detective, but they also highlight her affinity for leadership and assessing one’s character throughout, including a confrontation with Sinestro that fans will absolutely love. Her confidence, power, and wit shines, confronting Sinestro as an equal and earning a respect that few others ever have, despite assessing his character right to his face. I’m already looking forward to more of their interactions, but things are just as exciting on the other end of the universe, as John Stewart, Salaak, and the surviving Lanterns go to rescue an old favorite. Artist Tom Raney steps and delivers a sense of urgency and direness that helps propel the narrative forward, and the grander mythology this side of the story ties into brings new elements into the mix that shake up expectations and keeps the reader guessing. Green Lantern has truly hit its stride, and even without rings happens to be one of the best books in DC’s galaxy. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

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DC #2

Comic Reviews - Black Manta #1
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

No exaggeration, this final issue of Infinite Frontier made me want to scream from the rooftops. As the fight against Darkseid gets brought to a head, the truth about DC’s omniverse gets blown right open, and the new status quo proves that DC Comics are about to never be the same yet again. Joshua Williamson pulls off a rare feat—an event title that lays a massive amount of groundwork for future stories, while also bringing about fun, consequential beats or shifts in storytelling for every member of its eclectic ensemble. Xermanico’s art and Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colors are a stellar compliment to the maximalism of the event, with countless sequences that are genuinely breathtaking to look at. Time and time again, Infinite Frontier has proved itself to be the most unabashedly ambitious, essential title DC is publishing right now, both in its premise and its execution—and with this finale, that couldn’t be any more apparent. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 5 out of 5

“The United Order” arc of Justice League has been a bit of a mixed bag, and the same goes for “United Order Part Four” in Justice League #67. Artist Phil Hester and colorist Hi-Fi craft some massive action sequences, but the introductions of the United Order break up the rhythm and unfortunately also don’t seem to help endear the group to the reader. They just don’t seem that interesting at the moment, and the villain of the story isn’t all the compelling either. Things change about midway through though once Brian Michael Bendis brings more intriguing conflicts into the mix, both in how to deal with Synmar, who should make that choice, and what appears to be a line drawn in the sand between the League and the United Order. It seems to get here we had to go through there so to speak, and if this is where the road is heading, I’ll be okay with it. Once again though the star of the issue is Justice League Dark’s “Call of The Darkworld” by Ram V, Sumit Kumar, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Rob Leigh, who knock this fantastical battle under the water out of the park. The battle between Constantine and Merlin sizzles with style and color, and the battle in Atlantis is filled to the brim with gorgeous action that Aquaman fans are going to love. Then the last page hits, and next issue can’t get here soon enough. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

If you thought the first two issues of Justice League Infinity were already “out there,” you might want to buckle up because issue #3 is one hell of a rollercoaster. Part homage to the animated shows of yesteryear, this title is chock-full of DC Multiversal goodness, and the plot is working splendidly. When you introduce something like the multiversal, you’ve either got to have the science down to a T or not take yourself seriously at all, and it seems Infinity is going the second route. That’s not a criticism by any stretch of the imagination, by the way—this book is probably better for doing it. It’s the perfect mismatch of a zany plot with animation-inspired artwork that is really starting to create something special. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

Issue #4 turns its focus to David – the comedian and seemingly least serious member of the group. As with every prior issue, Tynion deftly reveals a three-dimensional human being embedded into the stereotype-career provided at the start. David’s willingness to push boundaries and find humor reveal themselves as a crucial skill in this setting as he avoids the most obvious assumptions. What’s most impressive is how Tynion and Martinez Bueno draw readers through his experience and reasoning. In the final few pages these circumstances of this apocalyptic retreat are made clearer, but every revelation is addressed earlier and attentive readers will perceive how David is solving this mystery in his own fashion. Each step in that journey provides additional nuance to David and those he interacts with. Facial expressions are so clear and enhanced with color in a fashion that can shift the tone between each room and collection of residents. It’s an immersive experience in character and setting, which only deepens the draw into this dark and twisted mystery. I can’t wait for The Nice House On The Lake #5 to arrive. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Your mileage may vary a bit regarding Suicide Squad #7, and it all hinges on whether you love Ambush Bug. If you enjoy Bug’s quips and pseudo fourth wall breaking comics humor, you’re going to probably enjoy this issue a lot, though his presence was a bit much for me, as I prefer to just have the delightful Culebra handling most of the comedy (because she is amazing). Bug leaves a little less real estate for Culebra to work, though writer Robbie Thompson does continue to unearth intriguing nuggets of character for Match, Bloodsport, and Nocturna. Waller’s whole shtick is getting a little tired, but Thompson wisely pivots the story to something completely different to shake things up, heading to the supernatural and introducing a plot twist that really got me energized again for what’s to come. Meanwhile artist Eduardo Pansica, inker Julio Ferreira, and colorist Marcelo Maiolo are on their A-game throughout the issue, and the fight sequences are as over the top and bloody as you’d want and expect. Suicide Squad is moving in the right direction and shaking things up at the perfect time, and I’m all in. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Unlike some of DC Comics’ other late summer annual, Suicide Squad 2021 Annual adds a lot to the lore of this new series – redefining a couple of characters and the scope of the conflict in which they are all engaged. Each change is additive, providing new depth to Superboy and some interesting action for Rick Flag. These are engaging hooks for those already invested in the series. Their delivery is essentially bog standard, though. Artwork is consistent, even with multiple art teams, but an overreliance on splashes results in lots of big panels with barely any impact as the Annual reads like a bloated single issue. Action beats and conversations along the way offer little of interest beyond changes to the plot with most of the new Squad members still struggling to exert personalities that sing a second note. There’s plenty of potential in these teams and their complex configurations, but they’re still missing a spark of inspiration here. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Suicide Squad: Get Joker! #2 delivers a handful of excellent sequences. Although Joker remains an overhyped entity within the story—continually romanticized and explained in captions with little effect on the page—his appearance creates a tense sequence in which several characters are able to make interesting decisions. Every member of this Squad embraces their status as unredeemed degenerates, even if many lack any characteristics beyond that initial sheen. Maleev’s depiction of some subtle shifts before the action explodes is particularly intriguing. However, much like in issue #1, an abundance of pages are spent reestablishing the premise before a quick reversal of affairs is delivered in the final 10 pages. It’s formulaic in a way that makes the deaths less than surprising and the wordplay read like passing the time for the first 75% of the story. Get Joker! is an uneven affair with a few notable highlights. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Readers finally come to understand exactly what led Levi to his cursed state in The Swamp Thing #7 as he is hunted through the jungles of Kaziranga by toxic members of the Suicide Squad. Levi’s story possesses tragic elements, but there’s little sympathy shown for Levi’s own decisions – constant betrayals of his family and heritage. As The Swamp Thing has interrogated systems and ideologies, it has focused on the flaws of capitalism, but Levi’s sense of self-importance and obsession with knowing what’s best for others creates a clear critique of liberalism. The flaws and responsibilities are clearly defined in the midst of memories and battle, never losing momentum or excitement to narrative exposition. Only the pacing slows here as members of the Squad crawl through the jungle to encounter Levi one by one. While the final splash delivers an excellent cliffhanger, it also feels overdue after two issues of jungle encounters between these entities. However, the ideas and images are crystalline and remain a pleasure to see articulated across each page. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marvel #1

The Amazing Spider-Man pulls ahead with issue #73 this week, and its convoluted reveal introduces a twist to Kindred’s long tale. As Norman comes to terms with his family’s biggest secret yet, MJ is taken for a ride when a face from the grave appears before her. And as Spider-Man nears the rendevous point, there is no telling what bombshells will be dropped next. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

Avengers Tech-On #2 opens with a fight scene that is all but unintelligible due to Jeffrey Cruz’s borderless artwork and milky coloring. A precise and kinetic fight is a priority for a book primarily about armored Avengers taking on sentai monsters. Here it looks more like two viscous liquids swirling together. As for those armored Avengers, these Iron Man-built suits simply restoring the powers these characters lost in the previous issue seems redundant. What’s the point of the premise if we’re only turning Avengers into iron-clad versions of themselves with rocket boots? It’s ironic then that the best moment goes to Iron Man himself, channeling some Marvel vs. Capcom energy to call out his giant gun attack. It’s not enough to save the issue and its pointless dialog from being another joyless exercise in going through the motions. Especially egregious is the Civil War-ish tension between Captain America’s moralistic preening and Iron Man’s practically, especially considering Iron Man is the only superhero who is still fully functional. Readers will be left to wonder if this could have turned out better by focusing solely on Iron Man, the character best suited to mech vs. monster action, instead of trying to shoehorn as many Avengers into the book as possible. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

The latest issue of Champions falls into a flight pattern wherein it once again dives into the “Teenage Superhero Registration Law” but this felt like a plotline that had already been done away with earlier in the series. Kamala’s actions here might be noble, but they ring hollow for a law that arrived as quickly as it was jettisoned. Lore and Vecchio excel at character moments exchanged between the young heroes and the energetic artwork necessary to chronicle the adventures of the teenage heroes, but it’s hampered by an arc that just weighs it down. The series needs a refresh and I hope we get one soon. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2 out of 5

As Conan’s 300th legacy issue at Marvel Comics, this issue had the potential to tell a wide variety of stories about the beloved Cimmerian—and for the most part, it succeeded in that effort. The issue presents four anthology-style stories for Conan, some of which bridge the gap between the series’ last arc and what comes next, and some of which function as largely-standalone tales. Even with wildly different settings and situations, the majority of the stories feel like slightly-varied variations of the same way to tell a Conan tale. While favorite stories will essentially be up to the preference of a reader, both the Jim Zub-led “Until Our Stories End” and Dan Slott and Marcos Martin’s “Night of Oblivion” feel like surprising standouts. Not only does this issue prove Conan’s staying power in the Marvel universe, but it honestly makes the best argument yet for him to get some sort of anthology book. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 4 out of 5

The final chapter of Daredevil approaches and the many story threads woven across the past several years are drawn together into a tight knot. The individual character arcs form a compelling medley as everyone from Matthew Murdock to Detective North, from Elektra to Typhoid Mary are compelled to make incredibly difficult decisions. All of this action is portrayed with a deft hand as a prison riot with plenty of tense moments promising the upcoming showdown with Bullseye will be some can’t-miss action comics fare. However, this close to the end of the story, the limitations of this Daredevil run also reveal themselves. It’s clear in Daredevil and North’s showdown what has driven them so far and left the world in such chaos, but in confronting the massive systemic justice of the American carceral state leaves both men fumbling for answers. Daredevil appears quite literally mad and Cole can provide no reasonable alternatives for the horror and injustice on display. There is no satisfying answer except revolution—as showcased in the (justified) fire and violence at Rykers—but the genre constraints cannot accept this. It’s unclear how exactly this drama will settle, but it is obvious that superheroes imprisoning petty thieves and drug dealers will remain central to Daredevil and its associated series in the future. No matter how compelling it was to see these critical issues addressed in the pages of Daredevil at the end it seems this may be an outstanding series greatest weakness as it is ultimately unable to confront its own central conflicts in a meaningful manner. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

It’s time to get meta once again, as Deadpool: Black, White & Blood #2 is upon us, and impressively, the merc with a mouth manages to deliver twice in a row. Things start out with “Purple Craze” by David & Maria Lapham, Pete Woods, and Joe Sabino, and this might be my favorite story of the issue, as it not only highlights how lethal Zebediah Killgrave can be but also showcases Wade’s more gentle side in a small but meaningful way, and the art style brilliantly suits the black, white, and red color scheme. Then we have “Deadpool Party” by the delightful Karla Pacheco, Leonard Kirk, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Sabino, and if you wanted quintessential Deadpool, you’ve come to the right place. A Wade Gambit team-up is always worth praising, and seeing Wade attempt a cajun accent is, well, exactly what you expect but in the best way. Finally we have Daniel Warren Johnson and Sabino’s “Pool Of Death???,” which offers something completely different and is a lovely compliment to the other two stories. It’s introspective Deadpool but not in a forced way. Wade’s dynamic with Warren Johnson, who is the writer in the story, is delightful, and the story’s premise allows us to see over-the-top moments without making them the center of the story. Yes I will always support a Dazzler story, but it’s really the story’s ending that left the biggest smile on my face, and overall this is a Deadpool trilogy that delivers across the board. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Defenders #2 delivers on all of the spectacle its debut promised with an assortment of wonderfully designed spreads featuring cosmic action enhanced by a panorama of powerful colors. Given the setting and lore-laden characters on display, it meets expectations and offers plenty of fireworks but that leaves little space for this new team of Defenders to express themselves. Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and the Masked Raider are so busy explaining their circumstances (albeit as neatly as they can) that there’s little space for any characterization beyond one-liners, much less for readers to recall Harpy or Nebula are also along for the ride. To that end Defenders is becoming a balancing act and here it defers to develop the cosmic mythology that Ewing has elaborately divised across so many different series and other stories – it has never looked better than it does here either. That comes at the cost for characters and even any sense of tension as this tour through Marvel’s very distant past is focused on the “what” above all else. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Excalibur #23 concentrates on the series’ lore with a guest appearance by Doctor Doom dictating the terms for a tour of Otherworld. Readers who may have left the series or are just looking to catch up will be in for a treat with a bevy of characters, settings, and antagonistic entities all neatly summarized in these pages. They collectively speak to potential wrung both from the modern “Reign of X” status quo and decades of prior Excalibur stories. The appearance of Furies makes for an excellent case in point as the superpowered automatons speak to an abundance of potential even without any notable action sequences or even a single panel showcasing their still impressive design. What’s on the page rarely lives up to its own promise, but the promise remains incredibly enticing given the sprawling stakes and rich elements of lore ranging from Arthurian tales to modern, reality-bending sci-fi tales. It’s hard to look away even when much of the execution comes up short. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Marvel #2

Comic Reviews - Ka-Zar Lord of the Savage Land #1
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

If nothing else, Extreme Carnage: Toxin #1 is the first issue of the “Extreme Carnage” event to attempt developing a character hook. While Toxin’s newest host Bren Waters may be an amalgamation of teen superhero tropes, his troubled relationship with a violent father provides an obvious connection to his symbiote partner and the story at hand. It thrusts Toxin into a heroic role and allows exposition (re)delivery to read as something more than pure plot. The psychic battle within The Hive also creates some space for interesting displays of the symbiotes’ flexible forms that rates above another generic bloodbath. Ultimately, this issue is space to pull another character into proceedings moving at a crawl, but there’s character to it which makes it the best installment titled Extreme Carnage yet. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

It feels like a cop-out to say “wait for another couple of issues to see where this goes” when reviewing a comic’s debut. Every comic builds on its first issue. But there are series that showcase their greatness from the jump. Others only take a few pages to convince you to steer clear. Lord of the Savage Land doesn’t get close to either category. It’s a decent story with some great artwork that doesn’t really leave a lasting impression once you set it down. Is that really such a bad thing? — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 3 out of 5

After a run that’s lasted over two years now, everything is leading right to these next two issues of Savage Avengers. In fact, issue #24 doesn’t waste any time getting right into the thick of it, plunging readers into a dark dystopian future that’s all too perfect for the world of this book. As with previous arcs, this title doesn’t promise the happiest of endings, that much is obvious with the first few pages of this book. After having spent a substantial amount of time building Kulan Gath up as the ultimate, unkillable villain, Duggan and company stick to their guns and make sure the sorcerer wins—bigtime. This issue is dark, grim, and every bit as savage as the title projects. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

I continue to be so impressed by this current run of Shang-Chi. Each issue on its own tells its own compelling, fun story while the larger narrative builds on itself in pieces every week. I also continue to love the inclusion of all the other Marvel characters. This time around, the Fantastic Four are woven into the story in yet another delightful way. Having Shang-Chi continue to interact with these characters makes him feel like a more prominent member of the Marvel universe than he has in the past. If you just saw Legend of the Ten Rings in theaters and are looking to dig into Shang-Chi even more, this current series continues to be great. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

After a number of issues that split their narrative over multiple characters, Aphra, Sana, Lucky, and Crae finally collide on the Crimson Dawn’s ship, forcing them to briefly unite in hopes of any of them escaping the situation alive. Of course, Aphra isn’t merely interested in escaping just “alive,” as she has her eyes on a prize, as do other deadly figures on the vessel. Given how long Doctor Aphra has divided its time among various groups of characters, it’s a relief to see them all unite to create a much more cohesive narrative, even if this union has only just happened and there’s no telling where it might go. Additionally, we get glimpses of how Crimson Dawn and Qi’ra fits into the equation, adding more relevance to why Aphra is involved in this “War of the Bounty Hunters” event in the first place. The promise of a more engaging story is refreshing, even if this installment only barely manages to keep the reader invested. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

Throughout much of War of the Bounty Hunters, Star Wars fans have seen a number of beloved characters on a collision course in hopes of securing Han Solo, with this penultimate issue finally seeing all of the major players come together for a journey that sets the stage for a potentially exciting confrontation. The narrative momentum bounces from one group of characters to the next, giving all of them equal weight in the overall storyline to emphasize how close they all could come towards securing Solo. Obviously, fans have a good idea of who will end up with the precious cargo, and while there is some wheel-spinning and fan service when it comes to seeing iconic characters uniting, the final pages leaves us scratching our heads over how this exciting storyline could wrap itself up and, most importantly, what the future will hold for Qi’ra, who earns some exciting teases about her connection to important parts of the Skywalker Saga. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

Tensions increase between Krakoa’s black ops outfit, the mutants of Russia, the mysterious XENO in X-Force #23 – a comic that revels in uncertain power dynamics. It’s clear that every organization possesses their own motives and none of them (except, perhaps, XENO) are entirely aligned. This plays out in two very different scenarios as readers receive a peak behind Russia’s new, anti-mutant Iron Curtain as well as a peak inside Beast’s head. Both of these sequences provide a mix of action and intrigue, but develop little tension along the way as they re-establish dynamics readers are already familiar with alongside some additional detail. Beast’s increasing darkness transitioning from subtext to text adds no additional clarity on his perspective or ideology. In a similar vein, XENO being shown as one large fish in a pond with plenty of others doesn’t clarify how this changes the overall dynamics of X-Force as it continues. There is clearly a grand design with so many key ideas still developing from the earliest issues, but small touches aren’t enough to outline a vision and X-Force #23 is an issue that drifts as a solitary installment. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Other Publishers #1

It appears that licensing The Warriors proved too expensive and so “1979” is attached to the end of this title. The crossover between two cult films reminds readers why they would be better off watching either at home. Obvious references to The Warriors quickly builds a landscape, but one without much merit. The roving gangs are easily identified but their members possess essentially as much personality as the Deadites they confront. The antagonists, Necronomicon-wielding gang members, provide little interest in action as every figure they confront collapses into a tumble of dull, brown lines and some vague skeletal shapes. Even the arrival of Ash offers readers little of interest in terms of action or humor with jokes that barely count as first draft material and action beats that fail to tell a story. Army of Darkness 1979 is never actively offensive, but it is certainly dull from start to finish with no redeeming qualities to be sussed out. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Marco Perugini’s artwork delivers stylish sword and gun fights – minimalist backgrounds accentuate the action with broad motion lines and clearly defined shapes. This makes the opening pages of Black Cotton #2 quite the thrill ride, but that same style when applied to numerous discussions throughout the rest of the pages leaves much to be desired. Figures are often blocked out in a fashion indiscernible from thumbnails, which actively distracts from the content of these conversations. The potent ideas filling the story fluctuate in focus with some statements reading more like a thesis, but others offering life to their characters. Yet with a world that’s hardly defined in the artwork and characters whose appearances collide throughout their interactions, it’s difficult to provide a good faith reading to often confusing presentations. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

The latest crime noir thriller from Scout Comics, Dancing With Dragons, has the bones of an interesting story, especially with artist Luca Casalanguida really managing to capture the feeling of energy and grittiness that’s required for a story such as this. There are certainly some rough edges here in its premiere issue, as Connor O’Sullivan finds himself in a tale of intrigue in taking money from the wrong people, but things move a little too quickly before really establishing its characters. Still, I’m interested to see if future issues find their footing and spread its wings. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3 out of 5

With some truly creative panel layouts and visceral, sometimes disturbing images from Wes Craig, the penultimate arc of Deadly Class ends like the series began: with a lot of navel-gazing and moralizing by Marcus, set against a backdrop of violence and fundamental unfairness. We finally find out what happened his final night at Kings Dominion, and it explains perfectly why things are the way they are by the time he finally meets Saya again decades later. — Russ Burlingame

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Both conceptually and in practice, Elvira Meets Vincent Price is the kind of series that throws everything at the wall—but just enough manages to stick to keep the series a delight. This issue dives into how Vincent Price is tied to the ancient Egyptian prophecy that has been haunting both of the horror icons, before catapulting their adventures into a sinister new territory. While not every joke lands, the pair’s dynamic becomes undeniably fun by the end of the issue, and the mystery and stakes of what they’re chasing across the globe are just absurd enough. Juan Samu’s art matches that outlandishness perfectly, whether in the massive supernatural monsters or in Elvira and Vincent driving down the street. This comic is shaping up to be a key title for anyone who loves the horror genre. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The final issue of Eve has a lot of ground (both literally and figuratively) to cover, and by and large, it managed to do so. The issue’s plot manages to hit nearly every expected beat regarding Eve, those in her orbit, and the fate of their post-apocalyptic world, but an argument can be made that it does so a smidge too concisely. Still, the emotional core of Victor LaValle’s narrative could not be more apparent, which makes the moments that could be cheesy or hamfisted feel incredibly genuine. Jo Mi-Gyeong’s art is a conflicting part of the proceedings, well executed at certain moments and difficult to make heads or tails of at others. Still, this final issue proves that Eve has been an emotional, charming miniseries on both a personal and universal scale, and that’s something worth celebrating. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 3 out of 5

Despite some time away, Excellence hasn’t lost a step, as Excellence #11 is just as thought-provoking & compelling as ever. Writer Brandon Thomas continues to explore the fracture-fraught relationship between Spencer and Raymond, but there’s also quite a bit of light shed on Raymond’s complicated relationship with not just his family but the Aegis as a whole. Thomas introduces yet another complex and endlessly fascinating character into the mix that opens up the story in a massive way, while artist Khary Randolph and colorist Emilio Lopez once again deliver bold colors and a wonderfully expressive cast. Excellence has always lived up to its namesake, but its ability to consistently unearth new depth and complexity from its cast and keep you guessing is beyond impressive, and it’s not yet ready to give up its crown. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

Endings provide some clarity and the ending of Helm Greycastle has a more coherent plot in that it resolves itself in a clear position. The value of this understanding is debatable as the many revelations and events found in the climax land with a thud. This remains in no small part due to a lack of clarity on its underlying concept – something only compounded in the final page’s cliffhanger. Characters explain their motives and feelings in plain language with only strange accents offering inflection. Historical alterations are undermined and the fantastical elements somehow feel small set alongside them. This strange amalgamation may provide a lot of fun in the wild imaginings of a roleplay session, but it never managed to resonate in comics. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Other Publishers #2

The motivation for KISS being kidnapped by an evil scientist is made clear, which adds more insight into why this story connects to the band in any way, as opposed to merely being a story with the figures arbitrarily included. Admittedly, this explanation isn’t entirely inventive, but still manages to make for a slightly more engaging story for devout KISS fans, even if it won’t win over more casual readers. What’s especially frustrating, in addition to the predictable premise, is that the art continues to barely exist outside of character designs, as a number of panels appear greyed-out or merely have rudimentary objects in the background, which ultimately amplifies a feeling of laziness with this entire endeavor. The campiness, however, is still somewhat charming, sparing the book from being a total wash. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

Last Flight Out pushes forward this week with its first issue, and it is a wild ride. Humanity faces its fate as a final flight from Earth approaches. When the flight’s helmsman goes on a journey to find their daughter, things get tense when ideologies and privileges hit head first. So if you are down for a good apocalyptic tale, this series will be one to check out ASAP! — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

Little Guardians kicks off with issue one this week, and it will leave fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender thrilled. As our heroine Subira finds herself suffocating under chores and gender norms, things in her town get interesting thanks to a new face. And as a big festival looms near, it seems things are about to shift in this cozy town. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thanks to handy flashback, readers learn about Max and Ford’s history together and, while it doesn’t necessarily explain why people are turning into monstrous beasts, we learn why Ford thinks this “plague” has arrived and why Max aims to stop him. Part of what has made Locust compelling is its lack of exposition and how it allowed the minimalism of the story to keep the audience engaged, with this history lesson about the main figures not feeling entirely fresh, but still being competent and engaging. Given how many tales of the apocalypse there have been in a variety of mediums, it’s difficult to forge a new path, yet by merely being a well-crafted nightmare, Locust still stands out from its peers, given how rudimentary and reductive other experiences end up feeling. Additionally, the book does manage to shock readers with a reveal on the final page that pushes the brutality to unexpected levels with no remorse. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

There’s a subtle sense of unease in Mamo #3 as Jo and Orla attempt to find the bones of Orla’s grandmother and undo some of the chaos caused in the wake of her passing. As the world of Mamo continues to expand, we learn that Jo is a little more attuned to magic than what was first believed, while Jo reluctantly goes about her business as the witch of Haresden (even if she hasn’t officially adopted that title yet.) Sas Milledge continues to weave a delightfully unique kind of magical tale, one that’s both intriguing and built upon a more subtle and less flashy style than what we usually see out of comics. Mamo is a refreshing, witchy comic perfect for the upcoming spooky season. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 5 out of 5

Another issue down, another origin told. At times, Masters of the Universe: Revelation feels pretty inconsequential as it spends more time diverting from a central plot more than anything. Three issues in and it’s done a tremendous amount of world-building, there just happens to be little to no plot that world-building is based around. This is a definitive bridge between two Masters of the Universe shows set decades apart, however brittle that bridge may be. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Mazebook is undeniably Jeff Lemire. It has all of the standard hallmarks of a comic this creator would write, yet it somehow still breaks the mold and stands apart from any of the other creator-owned books Lemire has crafted. Despite being a double-sized debut, the plot moves forward at a crawl yet it never grows stale. Through clever design work and ground-breaking panel layouts, Mazebook #1 is amongst some of Lemire’s easiest books to read, though you’ll still want to instantly re-read it to try cracking this mystery for yourself. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #3

The Me You Love in the Dark kicked off with a beautiful, sparse, intimate issue that both set the stage for a darker story, but also had a deeply human quality about it that made it easy for the reader to connect to. This week, The Me You Love in the Dark #2 continues that as Ro gets to know this dark entity in the home she’s renting and while not a lot happens in the way of big action—the issue is largely focused on that introduction, that tentative getting to know one another of it all—there’s a richness in things. What works here is the sheer economy of words. Skottie Young keeps the dialogue to a minimum and largely lets Jorge Corona’s expansive art tell the tale. Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colors are also a major player and the result is another hypnotic, beautiful issue. There’s a pulse of something dark right below the surface, but the issue is just so brilliantly done that the reader, like Ro, will be easy drawn in. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 5 out of 5

After last issue’s massive reveal, there were plenty of questions that needed answering, and those looking for those answers in Mighty Morphin #11 will get one or two, but perhaps not as many as you were hoping for. That said, what is here is captivating, and Ryan Parrott also starts moving the main story forward in a major way in 11, so if you’ve been waiting for the Elatrian War to head into overdrive we are just about to leave the station, so you better hop on now. It’s wonderful to see characters you love not being dumbed down for the sake of the plot, and every time you think that might happen the book swerves and bucks that trend, whether it’s with Zordon, Billy, Rocky, or Grace. Plus we get some slick new character designs courtesy of Marco Renna, Walter Baiamonte, Sara Antonellini, and Katia Ranalli, though I will say the first few pages didn’t pop as much as other pages in the issue. While the Zedd answers will come, the Eltar War is coming in hot, and this issue is a big reason why. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The penultimate issue of Moonshine hurries to tie up loose ends before a climactic showdown that delivers Eduardo Risso at his very best. The montage of gang war possesses a hurried quality that allows for some excellent splash panels but little that resonates beyond looking cool. These moments are tied to details of a conspiracy-laden plot, but none of them are memorable. That is saved for a showdown that reflects Moonshine #1 in a number of interesting parallels and holds the same dense tension of the 100 Bullets finale. The final page holds a single loud “BLAM” and that’s a promise that Moonshine #28 will be entertaining, regardless of this reader’s criticisms. The final few pages of Moonshine #27 are an absolute terror to read and promise a great deal of horrifically violent sequences in the series finale. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Ordinary Gods is really starting to hit a good stride here in issue #3. Most of the groundwork for this world has been laid in the first two installments, which means that we’re now starting to get an understanding of how this series will play out moving forward. The thing I really like about issue #3, in particular, is that it starts to further familiarize us with the antagonists. Rather than just making these characters blatantly evil, though, there’s more nuance to them than I expected, which makes the larger narrative that much more interesting and complex. All in all, if you’re not already reading Ordinary Gods, I definitely suggest you start getting on board right now. It seems like this series is only primed to get better as time goes on. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4 out of 5

The launch issue does not disappoint as a few twists and turns reset expectations with some very promising character dynamics. There are moments scattered throughout the issue which deliver some stiff dialogue, including a forced goodbye that’s straight from a cheap 80s sci-fi flick considering the stakes. However, McKee’s figures deliver the emotionality of each scene including some impressively subtle expressions in the final few pages. He fills these characters with life and promises a more realistic vision of space travel with clean linework that at times reminded me of the windswept vistas of Astonishing X-Men. His characters breathe life into the compelling motives and interwoven themes of Redshift. Redshift #2 delivers on the initial promise of the title and its creators with the second half of this story’s introduction – the promise of what’s to come seems nearly limitless after this issue. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Rick and Morty: Rick’s New Hat continues to move at a blistering pace. Every few pages of this third issue are filled with new ideas, locations, and visual gags. And while this is very much in line with the Rick and Morty TV series, I continue to think that this same level of speed when adapted to the written medium almost becomes too chaotic. Despite my qualms, this third issue is at least quite funny and the constant change of locale leads to a number of good jokes. Plus, there’s a Pickle Rick sighting, which is always good to see. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3 out of 5

Search for Hu begins with the energy, and the premise, of an old-school action movie. Jon Tsuei and Steve Orlando’s plot begins familiarly, with a young man returning home from war only to become embroiled in criminal violence on the homefront. This violence is generational and extreme, tied to his secret lineage as the scion of one branch of a Jewish-Chinese crime family. On its face, the idea of the protagonist, Aaron, hopping on the first flight to Asia to fix the problem with more violence seems like the kind of wild swing that you have to roll within these kinds of action-heavy tales. But there are hints at something more here, as Aaron struggles with the knowledge that violence is the only problem-solving tool his military service awarded him. Rubine’s detailed artwork works well here, never letting the reader slip too far into fantasy even when the angled panels and speed lines kick in during fight scenes. The colors are a little flat, but otherwise, this is the start of what promises to be an exciting fight comic with unforeseen depth. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #4

Comic Reviews - Mazebook #1
(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

The Shepherd: Path of Souls presents a fascinating concept—soldiers of different eras combatting their own trauma in the afterlife, and there are a couple of fun twists playing on the ideas of Biblical angels and purgatory. But it does get held back somewhat by an art style where nearly everyone’s faces are similar (which makes it all the harder to determine who is speaking during combat scenes) and wave after wave of narration over-explaining what’s happening. Still, there are pieces of a great idea here. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

All six of Trigger Keaton’s sidekicks have distinct opportunities to showcase their character for the first time in The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #4 and they do so with style and humor. Chris Schweizer organizes a series of pages juxtaposing their many different trajectories in a compelling and (more importantly) coherent balancing act. It’s a dazzling mix of quick-hit action, gags, and intrigue. Even as the story provides some of its most compelling emotional beats yet, there’s rarely a single page that doesn’t deliver a grin-inducing joke. The comedy seems effortless, which is a testament to how well these jokes (and the characters who deliver them all naturally) are written. The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton would be a must-read for its comedic merits alone, but it still insists on delivering outstanding examples of action, character work, and mystery plotting in each issue meaning even its middle chapters are a delight from start to finish – because the interview back matter in this issue is truly outstanding. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Mirror Universe is a polarizing concept among Star Trek fans. The idea that made for one of the most iconic and oft-referenced episodes in the entire franchise falls apart if you put even the slightest bit of thought into how it works. But when you get Leonard Nimoy in a goatee, who cares? Star Trek: The Next Generation fans missed out on the joy of seeing their heroes take a turn for the sinister in a parallel reality, and unless Star Trek: Picard takes a turn for the unexpected, IDW’s line of Mirror Universe comics, starring a comically swole and bearded Jean-Luc Picard, is the closest they’re likely to get to Patrick Stewart playing his evil alter ego. The premise of The Mirror War is exciting, as Picard’s evil Enterprise full takes off the gloves for all-out warfare. Still, this zero issue is more prologue, reveling what the crew was doing while Barclay was AWOL and incognito during the last Mirror Universe series. The pieces are all here—the Tipton’s dialogue is the correct pitch, and Carlos Nieto’s artwork is solid, despite a couple of awkward faces—and the issue does some needed scene-setting. Still, it will mostly leave readers eager for the story to start in earnest next month. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

During a potentially routine mission, Mace Windu encounters ghost-like creatures that come with their own superstitions, forcing him to investigate their origins and motivations. While the Star Wars Adventures series is geared towards younger readers, this narrative marks for a promising setup towards a longer storyline, as opposed to merely being a standalone adventure. There’s no real telling where this ominous journey could end up, but it’s a rare example of a story that builds excitement and leaves you wanting more. The second story features Boba Fett’s pursuit of Han Solo and a variety of close calls they’ve had with one another, somewhat reflecting Marvel’s “War of the Bounty Hunters” event that’s currently going on. Sadly, the structure of the narrative and its narration, along with the illustrations of Han and Chewbacca getting into a number of sticky situations, comes with plenty of confusion. The flow of the narration muddles the trajectory of the illustrations, creating a disconnect between what we’re seeing and what we’re learning from Fett’s perspective. By the conclusion of the story, we get some clarity about the overall experience, but the whole story, as brief as it is, feels disjointed and unfulfilling. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

I continue to just not personally click with Trover Saves the Universe. If you’re someone who already liked the video game that this comic book series is based on, then what’s contained here should continue to be up your alley. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of Trover (or Roiland’s style of humor in general), I do have to admit that this second issue contains some pretty great visual gags. All in all, your enjoyment of Trover Saves the Universe will continue to hinge upon how much you like this world’s style of humor. As such, your mileage will definitely vary. — Logan Moore

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Hot off this title’s debut issue, Unbelievable Unteens peels everything back here as any action and suspense gets put on the back burner in favor of dark-and-gritty whodunnit. Because of the rules laid out in Unteens #1, Lemire’s able to use a super-meta trick when it comes to exposition, helping tell the flashback stories through the look and feel of a Bronze Age comic book. Already half over, Unbelievable Unteens slows down a bit too quickly here, though the intrigue remains. As always, it doesn’t get much better than Tyler Crook but y’all already knew that. His work is great here, as always. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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