Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 9/15/2021

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 I Am Batman #1, Eternals: Thanos Rising #1, and Primordial #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 ’89 #2

I don’t know that anyone expected Batman ’89 to be the book DC Comics chose as a response to the internet’s criticism of Batman’s politics, but that is the direction this series has taken. The police have turned on Batman and, after he’s involved in an incident where police shoot a young Black man in Burnside, Bruce Wayne decides to step away from his vigilante lifestyle. At the same time, the issue doubles down on the idea that Harvey Dent’s Two-Face persona is born out of his Blackness, mentioning the concept of code-switching by name. I don’t know that anyone wanted a Tim Burton’s Batman story on Black Lives Matter, particularly one without a Black creator involved. Yet, Sam Hamm appears to be doing a decent job of it, decking out white citizens in Batman’s colors only to have them start looting during a peaceful demonstration and showing the callous, racist response from law enforcement. He also depicts the pressure Black people in power must feel operating within institutions not built for their benefit. What’s less unexpected is Joe Quinones’ artwork. He adds the innate energy of good superhero comics artwork to the gothy aesthetic laid out in Burton’s films, allowing Michael Keaton’s Batman to move in ways he’s couldn’t while wearing that rubber suit for the camera, and punctuating the action with tilted panels and bold sound effects. Leonard Ito’s moody colors alter to match the change in tone, and Clayton Cowles’s leter help clinch the late ’80s/early ’90s vibe. It’s a wonderfully crafted comic with a far more ambitious narrative scope than anyone was likely expecting. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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BATMAN: URBAN LEGENDS #7

Batman: Urban Legends #7 is a bit of a fresh start for the series, as it is made up of four all-new stories with some of the longer-running tales concluding last issue. The issue kicks off with the excellent “Batman Beyond: Wake” by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Max Dunbar, Sebastian Cheng, and Aditya Bidikar, hitting you like a hammer from the beginning and spinning an emotional tale of growth and accepting reality. The big mystery villain wasn’t quite everything I was hoping for, but I still found myself captivated to the end, and the premise it sets up is one I can’t wait to see expanded on in the upcoming series. Wake is followed up by the quite compelling “The Executive Game” by Tim Seeley, Juan Ferreyra, and Becca Carey, and gotta say Damian Wayne as Batman is always going to be a premise I get immersed in. This alternate version is every bit as deadly and cynical as you’ve come to expect, fitting the landscape he occupies perfectly, and that ending does feel incredibly true to the character. Next is the superb “Hunter or Hunted” by Guillaume Singelin, spinning a delightful Cassandra story with gorgeous artwork and bonkers action sequences that pulse with cinematic flair. It’s a one-and-done, but I’d be up for one of these every issue. The final story in the issue is surprising “The Batman With No Name” by Kenny Porter, Baldemar Rivas, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano. Not going to lie, I wasn’t sucked in right from the beginning, but after a slow start the story picks up considerably, and the idea of a Batman who can shift forms is brought to life by Rivas and Sanchez’s stellar artwork (and the robot Robin is just delightful). Then Porter hits you right in the feels with a heartfelt shift that carries you all the way through to the ending. When you consider the strength of all four stories, this is one of the best issues of Batman: Urban Legends thus far, and it proves how powerful and entertaining the anthology format can be. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

FUTURE STATE: GOTHAM #5

Future State: Gotham has been a bit up and down for me but this week’s Future State: Gotham #5 feels pretty cohesive as compared to some of the threads that felt a little disconnected in recent issues. This issue gives something of a new angle on an event as well as the origin of a villain while still managing to deliver a well-crafted cliffhanger. The art in this issue also seems to be much improved with so much more being conveyed with the black and white color scheme. That might be the biggest takeaway from the issue. While the lack of color has been problematic previously, it really works this issue and, in a sense, brings everything we’ve seen thus far together in a rich and immersive way. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4 out of 5

I AM BATMAN #1

I Am Batman #1 provides readers with the next chapter of Jace Fox’s journey in becoming Batman, although this monumental issue is hampered by a lack of context explaining the circumstances of Fox’s rise. Several months ago, DC Comics announced that Jace Fox, the estranged son of Lucius Fox, would become Gotham City’s next Batman. Fox’s story arc was guided by John Ridley, the acclaimed screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of the award-winning TV series American Crime. Ridley’s Fox is an activist Batman, one looking to fight disparity, inequity, and a tyrannical police state instead of ghoulish supervillains. This new Batman is a fantastic reframing of a protector of Gotham City, one that comes not from the ivory tower but rather the corners of the city that people would rather forget. — Christian Hoffer

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Rating: 4 out of 5

THE JOKER #7

Despite the fact that the Joker does not pop his green haired head out of hiding once in this issue, the series remains a fun romp by treating the Clown Prince of Crime like the shark from Jaws, with Commissioner Gordon steering the ship to take him down. This issue brings back a good number of familiar faces from Gotham City while also putting quite the hilariously commercial take on the death of Bane and it all works. Tynion and March have a great story going here and it’s one that even fans who aren’t particularly enamored with the Dark Knight or his arch-rival should give a look. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

JUSTICE LEAGUE: LAST RIDE #5

Last Ride #5 is entirely focused on rising action in the past and present. Both halves of the issue reveal more villains in worsening circumstances as the Justice League struggles to prevail. Even with the past largely settled, there’s still the question of what exactly happened to Darkseid. In the present there remains a question about who is compelling titans like Brainiac and Mongul into the fight. Neither question is answered leaving readers to focus on the titanic powers displayed across these pages. There are a number of engaging action beats and splashes, but reflecting upon them at the end it feels that little has actually occurred beside the present timeline’s cliffhanger. It’s entertaining at the moment, but can’t quite justify its existence between months with more substantial developments. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

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DC #2

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(Photo: DC Comics)

PENNYWORTH #2

Pennyworth #2 keeps up the same fresh, engaging story that the first issue established and while this issue is a little lighter on action, Wilson has truly got something special going with this series. The issue is split over three time periods, letting readers in on Alfred’s experiences as a youth, in the Cold War, and in the present and while multiple timelines could be messy and often are, in Pennyworth, the narrative is so well constructed that each timeline is both interesting, but informs the others. What is particularly outstanding in Pennyworth #2 is that Wilson manages to balance the mysteries with a real sense of emotional weight. This is a fantastic issue. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

RORSCHACH #12

Rorschach #12 ends with both a whimper and a bang. The comic ends with a gruesome bit of vigilante violence, necessitated and made inevitable by the revelations of the previous issue. There’s a clever bit where King and Fornes use the iconic nine-panel layout of Watchmen as the backdrop for the climactic moment of the comic, the part where our never-named protagonist adopts the mindset and philosophies of the title character. However, that bit of violence comes without consequence, at least on-page, which feels abrupt and unfortunate. While I understand the concept of this comic ending the way it does, I found it to be unsatisfying. More so, it also caused me to return to the question I asked in my initial review of Rorschach #1 – does this comic need to take place inside the “Watchmen universe?” The more I ponder that question, the more this finale convinces me that it does not. It uses the world created by Moore and Gibbons as a sandbox to tell a different story, one that could have been told somewhere else. There is nothing additive or reflective of the original work, this is simply a story that exists in parallel, one that uses Watchmen as a weak inspiration. As a whole, this is one of King’s most disappointing and muted comics published by DC. As a finale, it’s devoid of any sort of real surprise, ingenuity, or innovation – it simply feels inevitable and predictable, and that’s not really what I want to spend time or money on. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 2 out of 5

SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY #3

The two threads of Superman and The Authority—”getting the band together” and “great, unknown threat”—reconnect in its penultimate issue. This provides some momentum in addition to the individual joys of seeing these eclectic characters coming together. Every player on the board is seen by the final few pages establishing an exciting climax ahead. However, the build to that climax offers plenty of its own thrills. Lightray’s narrative provides limited, but potent commentary on the youth tasked with facing down 20th century horrors in the 21st century. Enchantress’s struggle with identity provides this issue’s best moments, though, as she reflects upon her perception of self versus its actuality in a hell of her own creation. All of these characters are bound to history and readers are reminded of this in references to past stories and historical incidents alike. The past is clearly never past in Superman and The Authority, which makes the present story a thrill to read. — Chase Magnett

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Rating: 4 out of 5

TITANS UNITED #1

Titans United is a unique beast, one that aims to both embody the roster and character dynamics of HBO Max’s Titans, and tell a story that fits more in tone with the modern DC Comics universe. Just based on this issue, it’s unclear to see if that balance will be consistently met, but there’s just enough that keeps the premise intriguing. As the group goes up against an unexpected threat—one that could have ties to a larger conspiracy—the majority of the issue devolves to witty quips between the characters, in a way that might not be satisfying for those looking to jump into the world of the Teen Titans. Still, Cavan Scott’s script has promise, and Jose Luis and Jonas Trindade’s art is a standout, especially once the action sequences get going. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 4 out of 5

WONDER WOMAN #779

The wild ride that has been Diana’s pursuit of Janus comes to an end in Wonder Woman #779 and it is ultimately a satisfying, albeit predictable end. What works best in this issue is that Conrad and Cloonan get Diana on a deep level and understand how she would approach solving the situation, dealing with Janus and ultimately the betrayal that set everything off in the first place. And it’s good that Diana is at her truest and best self in the issue, because the story itself is somewhat cliche. The truth about Janus and her rampage ends up being predictable as does Diana’s choice to return to life at the end. In a sense, that’s always the issue with Wonder Woman comics generally, but this time around it’s done with such purity and earnestness on Conrad and Cloonan’s parts that it just works. Also? We need more Ratatosk in the future. I’m just saying. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Marvel #1

BLACK WIDOW #11

An interlude between the recent Apogee saga and the larger conspiracy that lies ahead, this issue takes a slightly more subdued—but still captivating and satisfying—approach. As Natasha follows a hunch regarding Apogee, she is forced to deal with her past and present in some significant ways. Kelly Thompson’s script manages to both pick up hanging plot threads from existing issues and craft a compelling standalone set of stakes, all while the character dynamics and dialogue are as fully realized as ever. Rafael de Latorre’s art also carries the same visual energy of what Elena Casagrande has already established, but with some flourishes that feel essential to what’s at hand. This run of Black Widow has yet to disappoint – and based on this installment, it probably isn’t going to anytime soon. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 5 out of 5

ETERNALS: THANOS RISING #1

A brief departure from the currently ongoing Eternals story arc, Thanos Rising #1 is a grim reimagining of the origin of Thanos the Mad Titan. Despite A’lars having a sense of eternal optimism, that’s still not enough hope to burst through the seams of this horrendously dark story. With all that taken into consideration, this issue is still a necessity in the grand scheme of things, because it shows just how dangerous of a villain Thanos is. Not only that, Gillen and collaborators flesh out this corner of the Marvel universe tenfold, and as a result, have created a must-read issue for those keeping pace with the primary story. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

EXTREME CARNAGE: AGONY #1

From the few glimpses we get of the titular character’s personality, Agony could be a much more interesting villain than Carnage if placed in the right hands. But this one-off is much more interested in the twist hiding in its final splash page. Whether or not the twist works is TBD, let’s see how the rest of the event plays out. — Connor Casey

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Rating: 3 out of 5

FANTASTIC FOUR #35

80 pages in a single issue is a lot. This mega-sized F4 adventure could probably be a lot shorter and still accomplish everything the the multitude of creators had hoped. Still, it’s engaging enough through its slower portions to keep things moving in between its higher highs. There are some great family moments sprinkled throughout and, if nothing else, this is a wonderful reminder of what makes Kang such a good villain (and why his variants will never be able to compare). — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY #4

The Thing receives his spotlight in the 90s and, unsurprisingly, it proves to be an incredibly charming installment in the Fantastic Four: Life Story saga. Ben’s voice is evoked well by Mark Russell providing some amusing observations on the decade alongside the most humanitarian reading of the family at this story’s center. Ben’s tremendous empathy helps paint a sympathetic portrait of Reed and Sue, but also himself as he struggles with his own role in American history. Russell drafts this addition to the character in a fashion that aims to understand, rather than judge, and creates a space for complex discussions of service. This also informs Ben’s character from the very first issue making clear how well-devised this entire story has been with a anticipation of Galactus’s arrival creeping ever closer. However that story turns out, Fantastic Four: Life Story #4 is a testament to one of Marvel Comics’ greatest heroes, one who encourages us to see the humanity in others, especially when they present a rocky exterior. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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IRON MAN #12

On Twitter, Christopher Cantwell compared this issue of Iron Man to Home Alone, with Tony and Avro-X being the bandits to a booby trap-loving Galactus. That pitch is enough proof of how inventive this run is being, but the execution is proving to be even more brilliant. The issue sings with dynamic action sequences, stellar dialogue, and meaningful character moments – something that has been a staple of the run thus far, but is still delightful to see in such creative and bombastic capacities. Cafu’s art is as excellent as ever, grounding the absurdity of what’s at hand with some breathtaking visuals. This Iron Man run truly could not be more perfect, and I’m eager to see how the ante continues to be upped from here. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 5 out of 5

KANG THE CONQUEROR #2

Kang the Conqueror holds more in common with The History of the Marvel Universe than the classic Avengers tales which made the villain a legend. It is a visually well documented piece of historical trivia documentation. Kang’s story is transformed into a tour of Marvel Comics ephemera, which connect him to a number of other valuable IP. These constant connections and cameos make Kang’s story feel small as every character is someone readers already recognize – a character who represents endless potential becomes a highlight reel. Pair these familiar horizons with narration that tells readers how Kang changes in an almost unending montage. His words speak to powerful themes and potent conflicts, but they are only realized as a pitch never in the action. As a result Kang lies limp on the page as his ambitions seek to pair him with more popular characters, but it all looks quite nice. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

THE LAST ANNIHILATION: WAKANDA #1

This comic is part of “The Last Annihilation” by name, and only partially by plot. With an all-new Black Panther series launching in a matter of months, The Last Annihilation: Wakanda takes the time to help tie up some loose-ends from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ legendary Black Panther run before a new creative team takes over in November. All that said, it’s a pretty good Black Panther story. It was something needed to get from Point A to Point B, and Narcisse manages to tie things up nice and tight. On top of that all, German Peralta can draw one hell of a Gladiator. — Adam Barnhardt

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Marvel #2

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(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

MARAUDERS #24

There’s a bit of a space opera feel to Marvel’s latest issue of Marauders, but that’s far from a bad thing. Even the opening looks straight out of Star Wars, and having the Marauders a bit outside of their usual surroundings provides some delightful moments of comedy and intrigue, especially when Kate Pryde and Emma Frost are involved. Eden Rixlo plays a huge part in the issue, and credit to Gerry Duggan for making him feel like a credible threat. That said, the issue feels like it comes to a halt thanks to two back-to-back pages of reports that sketch out who he is, and while it’s fine and gets the point across, I would’ve preferred it just be in dialogue or nix it altogether. The exchange afterwards however is amazing and pure Marauders thanks to Phil Noto, and I’d pay to see a rematch ASAP. Because of the ingenuity and tacticians within the Marauders though, the ending to this chapter of that story is a bit hard to buy, so maybe some additional context can fix that next issue. As for the true ending, that is a stellar hook, so hopefully, next issue can get some of that momentum back. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3 out of 5

THE MIGHTY VALKYRIES #5

The Mighty Valkyries ends on a very bombastic note in issue #5 and my main takeaway is that this series bit off more than it could chew. There have been so many different character storylines throughout the course of this brief run and the way that they all wrap up mostly doesn’t feel satisfactory. Essentially, I feel like this series needed more issues to better explore many of the themes and ideas that have been presented from the start. The final result isn’t necessarily bad, but The Mighty Valkyries as a whole feels a bit disjointed and rushed as a result. — Logan Moore

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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SPIDER-WOMAN #15

Spider-Woman continues to be one of the most charming and action-packed books on Marvel’s roster, and a perfect case study is Spider-Woman #15. Writer Karla Pacheco knows is quite adept at crafting a thrilling action sequence with humor but without letting the jokes overrun the stakes and emotional center. Jessica’s family and friends are the center of her world and inform everything she does, and you can feel that as she rushes back to her home to make sure Gerry and Lindsay are safe, though Jess doesn’t have to be in the midst of a fight for her compassion, concern, and unwavering determination and focus to show through. When fists start flying though, Pere Perez and Frank D’Armata knock it out of the park, whether it’s a cinematic dive from an exploding helicopter or a Kill Bill-esque fight sequence punctuated by some amazing work by Clayton Cowles. Didn’t see that ending coming either, and while the team-up was unexpected, I cannot wait to see how it all turns out! — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #16

Despite his initial goal of securing Han Solo frozen in carbonite, an unexpected run-in with Luke Skywalker sees Darth Vader pursue his son, while Ochi discovers what he believes to be a weak link in the Galactic Empire. In regards to the action, there are a number of exciting panels and sequences depicting hand-to-hand combat and high-flying pursuits between TIEs and X-wings, but from a narrative perspectives, we’re given such a barrage of information that it results in an overwhelming experience. For those more interested in the book’s action, you’ll surely savor the excitement, though those looking to see more narrative cohesion will likely be disappointed, even if the book itself is far from being a failure. The overall installment just feels like too many plot points crammed into one book, ultimately feeling too messy to get a handle on. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

STAR WARS: WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS – BOUSHH #1

Star Wars fans largely only know about Boussh thanks to Leia sporting their armor in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi to infiltrate Jabba’s palace, with this comic help putting his bounty-hunting abilities on display. To rival his deadly skills, readers also learn about the lengths Domina Tagge will go to in order to retain the power of her family’s company, as the two end up on a collision course with unexpected results. Domina has long been a figure in the Doctor Aphra series, though largely only appears as a supporting player who distracts from Aphra’s trajectory. In addition to this book giving us an exciting tale of bounty hunters, we also get to see Domina in all her glory, retroactively making her a more compelling figure in the Aphra series, making for an all-around exciting and action-packed adventure. — Patrick Cavanaugh

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Rating: 4 out of 5

W.E.B. OF SPIDER-MAN #5

The mini-series that focuses on a page in Peter Parker’s journey wherein it attempts to placate both old and new fans, but in doing so, seems to push both away. While seeing a young Spidey teaming up with the smartest teens of the Marvel Universe is an interesting idea, it feels as if the mini doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. The story feels disposable ultimately, which is a shame as the series has a villain whose name is so completely ridiculous that it has to be seen to be believed. I don’t know who on Earth to recommend this to, but the ultimate answer might be no one. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2 out of 5

WARHAMMER 40,000: SISTERS OF BATTLE #4

The second outing continues to put out plot apace with action sequences punctuated by brief spurts of expository dialogue. Those spurts provide some tension in mysteries of what horrors lie ahead for the Sisters, even if the violence only inspires a sense of competence in the audience. There are some effective creature designs, but many undrawn backgrounds over montage-like sequences fail to inspire. Whereas more creativity applied to the violence would quickly improve the reading experience, the same cannot be said for the melodrama. A quick evocation of one Sister’s motivation fails to provide any additional impact to the slow, Saving Private Ryan-like countdown of the party as exposition fails to provide what even a brief moment of action might have. There’s nothing obviously offensive to be found here, but there are also few reasons to stick around for issue #3. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

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X-MEN: THE TRIAL OF MAGNETO #2

The Trial of Magneto continues and it highlights all of Leah Williams’ strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The issue’s script navigates and expresses the nuances of mourning and grief in ways that superhero comics often gloss over, but there’s also a least one line in the script that will likely leave readers confused unless they belong to a specific subset of online fans. Much fo the issue is also made up of what feels like retrograde, bombastic superhero melodrama expressed the violence, the kind of fight that could be utterly avoidable if characters spoke for even a minute before starting to throw their powers around. Some of that is deliberate—it’s posturing but Magneto is posturing with a purpose—but that doesn’t stop it from feeling hollow at the moment. Meanwhile, Lucas Werneck struggles to fully evoke Krakoa’s beauty, and his emoting goes over-the-top at times, but the subtle differentiation between the physical realm and whatever is going on with Wanda and her magic scenes is a nice touch. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #1

BERMUDA #3

I still don’t find myself loving Bermuda three issues in. I think the series has a lot of positive qualities (detailed art, inventive world, and witty characters) but the throughline story here is just not grabbing me at all. If nothing else, Bermuda #3 is one that is filled with action from start to finish, which makes for a lot of excitement. Still, I wish I was more hopeful about where Bermuda was heading in its forthcoming final issue. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3 out of 5

BEYOND THE BREACH #3

Now that Beyond the Breach has a few issues under its belt it’s finally starting to make enough sense to be enjoyable. Writer Ed Brisson is able to deliver a knockout standalone story that pulls the veil back on the larger narrative and its characters but also feels fresh compared to the previous two. Artist Damian Couceiro once again gets the opportunity to stretch their work to fun places, especially with a unique weapon that has a startling effect on its victims. The mystery deepens and this one continues to get better. — Spencer Perry

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Rating: 4 out of 5

BLACK COTTON #5

Artist Marco Perugini gets the opportunity to really show off in the opening nine pages of Black Cotton #5, presenting a tremendous action sequence that reveals his signature black-and-white look for the series is breathtaking when given some movement. Writer Brian Hawkins once again seems lost in the larger political machinations of the narrative though, seemingly spinning some of the thematic wheels in the same way that they’ve been doing. The larger plot finally pushes forward in unexpected ways though making this the best issue yet. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

BLACKS MYTH #3

The world of Blacks Myth continues to be an intriguing one, with the series finding the sweet spot of balancing an interesting mystery on top of world building with some interesting supernatural concepts. The character work by Eric Palicki is well rounded and infectious, helping to push the story along with a balance of menace and humor. There are a few rough edges that could use smoothing out or two, especially when it comes to some of the art that could have used a tad more detail, but this story from Ahoy is definitely one that hopefully doesn’t fly under the radar for comic fans looking for a new world to explore. Definitely one of the best new series from the folks at Ahoy. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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CAMPISI: THE DRAGON INCIDENT #2

Campisi‘s gimmick of having small-time criminals try to deal with an ancient dragon continues to be the highlight of this series. Issue #2 also seems to acknowledge that its titular character is a bit insufferable and knocks him down a few pegs by the end. One could call the book self-aware for that, but having him still be the narrator continues to be grating. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

CLANS OF BELARI #3

I continue to commend the world-building that Clans of Belari has once again achieved in this third issue, but I’m definitely starting to struggle when it comes to clicking with the main characters of this series. Part of that is because there continues to be a fair number of time jumps despite being so early on. The other factor is that the motivations of the protagonists have yet to really cross over with the antagonist’s goal in a meaningful way. I’m sure these things will happen in due time, but until they do, it leaves Clans of Belari feeling very much in need of a more driving narrative push. — Logan Moore

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

COMPASS #4

The penultimate chapter of Compass delivers a dark dungeon delve filled with potent creatures from the past. Even as the series addresses more fantastical elements, it does so with a consistent tone that maintains its interest on the human characters. Tension builds towards an impressive splash and striking showdown with a “dragon” found deep in these caves, but the action between two estranged friends is every bit as engrossing. Throughout this narrative their motivations and relationship have been developed in a clear fashion that makes their reunion and uncertain alliance every bit as exciting. Wherever Compass is leading and however events pan out between these companions, the story, setting, and genre have supported the narrative in tandem making Compass quite the discovery from Image Comics. — Chase Magnett

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Rating: 4 out of 5

DEEP BEYOND #8

Every issue of Deep Beyond feels like it’s missing major elements of the story and even with Deep Beyond #8 attempting to some how tie together the multiple frayed threads of plot in this comic, so much still doesn’t quite make sense. Paul and the team end up making a break for it back to the real world—something that was supposedly impossible—but before Paul can explain anything, he’s taken out of the equation because of the dangerous knowledge he posesses. This issue has some stable art that is better than most of what we’ve seen in the run, bu the story is still cluttered, convoluted, and very hard to follow issue to issue. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #2

FIGHT GIRLS #3

It’s the juxtaposition of cheesecake and violence that disturbs me. There’s no hesitation to present idealized visions of the female form—nearly indistinguishable from one another besides an eye patch, number, or change in coloring—alongside their utter destruction sometimes complete with various viscera filling a splash. There’s little to flavor these characters in Fight Girls #3 besides one woman’s clever accomplishment in survival. All of the rest is displays of sexuality or violence, which creates too obvious of a narrative about the role of women in society to be ignored. That they are competing to be queen of an ill-defined future culture does not undermine what 90% of the page space is dedicated to. Beyond their ugly competition the story is primarily told by men in suits explaining why these women may be villainous. The competency of plotting or effect of linework seems beyond the point, as even excellence in a specific element cannot be appreciated when used in a narrative so ugly. Fight Girls is a series that makes its perspective on gender politics quite clear; it is obviously not something to be appreciated under any circumstances. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

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HELLBOY AND THE B.P.R.D.: 1957 – FAMILY TIES #1

Unbeatable Hellboy artist Laurence Campbell makes his triumphant return after the conclusion of BPRD: The Devil You Know with a one-shot story that feels familiar but still fun. Co-written by Mignola and Chris Roberson, “Family Ties” has major connective tissue to the larger Mignola-verse but also manages to hold onto that singular flair that makes the best standalone Hellboy stories shine. Campbells artwork, bolstered by Dave Stewart’s colors, make this a must read for franchise fans but the blueprint of how Mignola’s writing unfolds leaves no room for surprises. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

HOME SICK PILOTS #9

The rise of the Nuclear Bastard adds perspective to the long game of Home Sick Pilots. That applies to the stakes surrounding this showdown between two ghost-fueled kaiju with a theory that ought to leave readers feeling both fearful and excited. It also applies to the ongoing feud between two punk bands transformed by nightmares. The survivors are positioned clearly and Home Sick Pilots #9’s focus on only one of their settings adds depth for all involved. That increased focus offers plenty of space for the story to unfold in a satisfying installment that upends a number of ongoing concerns while ratcheting up the tension. The backhalf features a thrilling sequence in which Meg uses her companion’s abilities to striking effect in colorful displays of violence. It’s a potent installment that only establishes greater things ahead – Home Sick Pilots has hit its stride, and is moving at the same pace as its gargantuan ghosts. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

THE HOUSE OF LOST HORIZONS #5

The House of Lost Horizons pulls all of its loose threads into a neatly threaded knot in its final chapter. Each death in the mansion is addressed and there’s an interesting thematic thread pulled forth in its solution. The plotting is well delivered and that’s the strongest element in this mystery. Unfortunately, most other elements fall short. Characters exist primarily as objects in this mystery’s climax as they are informed of their distinct roles while watching events unfold. The visual presentation of the climax fails to make a case for why this story ought to be a comic. Both the solution and final piece of action underwhelm in panels with thinly drawn characters and minimal backgrounds. While readers may be intrigued by future Sarah Jewell mysteries given this one’s neat arrangement, it’s unlikely that The House of Lost Horizons will pull many readers back for a second glance. — Chase Magnett

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Rating: 3 out of 5

MAW #1

Maw #1 kicks off a dark story of sisterhood and feminism with a dark twist. When two sisters travel to a commune for women, things take a turn after one is subjected to a horrific assault. And as the sisters come to terms with their twisted future, a cliffhanger teases the camp they’ve reach is far from what they expected. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

MOTHS #4

Through four issues, the story of Moths hasn’t done anything to make one consider it interesting. The characters are bland and the mythology is dull. It would be a difficult read under normal circumstances, but the whole “what if a comic looked like an AI’s scrapbook” approach to the art style makes it nearly impossible. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 1 out of 5

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NINJAK #3

Ninjak #3 takes some time to catch readers up on the backstory of this spy adventure. That includes new networks, resources, and plenty of exposition about where the mysterious Kingmaker and his associates come from. In ordinary hands, this might have been a necessary evil as a middle chapter, but in Pulido’s extraordinary hands each new bit of information is delivered in stylish and intriguing fashion. He utilizes multiple spreads with innovative paneling to retrace the past and develop fascinating new settings. Towards the end of the issue as Ninjak descends secret tunnels, the oppressive darkness and sense of depth (both literal and metaphorical) makes for a potent mood in the midst of so many revelations. As Ninjak barrels ahead against increasingly intimidating threats, it seems the series can’t miss the mark in making that journey as intriguing as possible. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #3

NOT ALL ROBOTS #2

Not All Robots #2 continues its farcical look at the robot revolution, this time pushing the metaphor between the robots and impotent white male rage a little further. While the last issue’s core message felt a bit muddled this time, I felt the humor of this issue was both a little more on point and framed the robots as the clear benefactors of the current status quo. After a robot gets away with murdering 200,000 people, the human populace of Earth seems a bit more on edge, and the robots are taking their own (by comparison minor) complaints to much more extremes. I enjoyed this issue more than the first, and I’m hoping that the human revolution doesn’t end the way that human/robot conflicts inevitably seem to in this world. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

POWER RANGERS #11

There’s quite a bit to process in Power Rangers #11, and if you were looking for big moments, this issue is full of them. Ryan Parrott foreshadows one long-awaited payoff and then sends everything else into chaos in the final pages, creating more questions then answers in the larger plot but also bringing together some of the bigger elements in line with Mighty Morphin and the larger story at play. The team of Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo, Jose Enrique Fernandez, and Ed Dukeshire make are on their A-Games throughout the issue, and give those major moments the impact and weight they deserve. Everyone’s going to be talking about this issue, so if you’re not on board already, you might want to catch the train before it leaves the station. — Matthew Aguilar

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Rating: 4 out of 5

PRIMORDIAL #1

Primordial #1 introduces readers to an alternate history in which the space race was suddenly ended when both the United States and Soviet’s initial “manned” expeditions went terribly awry. The issue begins in 1961 as the final pieces of the U.S. space program are swept away at Cape Canaveral with Nixon having won the recent election and all scientific resources focused on nuclear missiles. In addition to an intriguing premise, Primordial #1 brings ambitious and innovative comics storytelling from artist Andrea Sorrentino and writer Jeff Lemire in a story that’s as much about the present as the past in its examination of humanity’s place on Earth and amongst all living things. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

SAVAGE HEARTS #3

Savage Hearts continues to be a lot of lighthearted fun. Rather than focusing an expansive narrative that weaves through every issue, each book instead has started to feel like its own self-contained adventure, which I really enjoy. I also continue to find the art on display from Jed Dougherty one of the best qualities of Savage Hearts. It has a sort of 1980s cartoon flair that really amplifies the overall tone. Pick this series up if you’re a more humor-focused comic at the moment. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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SAVE YOURSELF #4

Save Yourself #4 brings a colorful ending to one of Boom’s best interstellar stories to date. A bloody conflict closes with surprising results as fans discover the fate of two humans and their alien friend. As the series wraps, comfort and consequences come together as Earth must find its own way forward. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

THE SCUMBAG #10

Sometimes writers are subtle in how they project themes and personal beliefs into their stories; sometimes they just post an unedited rant from the notes app directly into dialogue. The Scumbag #10 reads as the latter. There’s little space for ideological analysis as the various factions battling on the moon shift their posture based upon whatever idea is currently being discussed. However, what is clear is the series’ utter disdain for “cancel culture” as it is typically described by the far-right. Every individual responding to systemic crises are boiled down into a parody so simplistic that they are made out to be the “true villains” even when set aside issues like climate change and the carceral state. It’s obvious what this story is calling for as it centers Ernie’s words in a climactic splash calling for everyone to “lighten the fuck up.” Dismissing any concept of morality or ethics, it implores readers to compromise and not care so much. That’s an easy message to deliver from a place of comfort, but it does little for those actually confronting the topics so quickly dismissed here and experiencing the consequences of inhuman systems. Even Bergara’s typically luscious watercolors can do little to make these designs and actions work on the page as the repugnant does not become more tolerable in better fashion. The Scumbag #10 is an intensely self-involved and selfish work displaying a lack of perspective and thought on actual crises, then dressed up in literal shit as if that would make it all funny. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON #5

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son has for the first four issues of its run been a very introspective book, one that prompts the reader to ask some serious questions of themselves as they confront a lot of the realities and perceived realities of the world we live in. That is especially true for issue #5. The issue sees both Sunstar and Jesus confront some harsh truths – for Jesus, that means going to visit his father in Heaven which lends itself to this bleak meditation on how meaningless everything is while for Sunstar, that means confronting how disgusting humanity is and how he’s probably not much better. The result is an uncomfortable and heavy read that fits in very well with the narrative of the story. Taking Second Coming: Only Begotten Son as just a comic book, this bleak issue really feels like a turning point. But the weight of what’s being presented here is the first time the series feels like it has an agenda or is perhaps a bit preachy. There are some good questions, but everything is so heavy it’s hard to come away from this one with anything other than existential dread. It’s a situation that makes the issue both very good, and also just very depressing to read. — Nicole Drum

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Rating: 4 out of 5

SEVEN SECRETS #12

This is not okay Tom Taylor, stop toying with my emotions! Last month’s issue of Seven Secrets raised the stakes and shifted the balance of power even further, but in Seven Secerts #12, Taylor, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Baiamonte, Katia Ranalli, and Ed Dukeshire go the extra mile and not only pull the curtain back on the biggest villain in the series but also elicit some empathy for Amon that threw me quite a bit. The crew wasn’t done though, bringing two other big mysteries to light and planting another major hook before it soared away. Seven Secrets is better than ever, next issue can’t get here soon enough. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #4

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(Photo: Image Comics)

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #44

Belle is quickly becoming one of the most compelling characters in Sonic the Hedgehog. Even in an issue that is entirely focused on tying up loose ends, her backstory retold in the muted panels of a flashback delivers a complex individual accessible to younger readers. Her conversation with Dr. Starline is undoubtedly the highlight of issue #44 and establishes a number of future avenues for the series to explore, including the lingering legacy of Mr. Tinker. Sonic and Tails provide the Deadly Six with their own sendoff – including a neat morality play that will hopefully stick with some young readers as well. The pencil work and character definition are both much more more consistent than the prior installment as well, allowing both of these threads to be delivered with no distractions. Sonic the Hedgehog #44 is a pat closer on recent storylines and, while it doesn’t offer much excitement unto itself, reminds fans why this no series possesses so much potential in the longview. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #24

Star Trek: Year Five comes to its climax in its 24th issue and, with most of the plans made and set into motion in the previous chapter, all that’s left is for readers to enjoy seeing the Enterprise crew at their best. In particular, while one of the best parts of this series has been the opportunity to see Star Trek’s “supporting cast” take on more significant roles, this issue belongs to Kirk and Spock in their most quintessential roles. In dealing with Gary Seven, Kirk appeals to his foe’s humanity, connecting with him on an emotional level. Meanwhile, Spock, leading the Enterprise, points out the flaws in the Tholians’ logic, creating an opportunity for Bright Eyes to reach out and encourage understanding in place of fear. With the epilogue issue still to come, Lanzing, Kelly, and Califano provide an appropriately-scaled conclusion to what has been an incredible and essential Star Trek story. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC ADVENTURES – THE MONSTER OF TEMPLE PEAK #2

I know I already said it in the review of the first issue, but I couldn’t care less: “Monster Hunter but in Star Wars” is the coolest concept for a new Star Wars title, especially one set in such an unexplored era of the franchise. These characters are rich and the world around them feels new. This book as been a delight so far and I hope to see that continue as it progresses. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 4 out of 5

TIME BEFORE TIME #5

I was really looking forward to this issue of Time Before Time and it did not disappoint. This is easily the most high-stakes issue so far and it does a fantastic job of bringing about a close to this first arc. Not only does it bring about an end to much of the narrative build-up that has taken place since the beginning, but it also begins laying the groundwork for what’s to come in a very unexpected way. As a whole, I remain completely invested in Time Before Time and I cannot recommend it enough. — Logan Moore

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5

USAGI YOJIMBO #22

The first chapter of “Ransom!” quickly establishes an exciting new adventure for Usagi and his traveling companions (including two new, sneaky additions). It’s a familiar arrangement for longtime readers – a morality play with a variety of sympathetic motives testing Usagi’s sense of honor. By the final page it reads like a classic samurai film with plenty of opportunities for excitement and tragedy, alike. Even as the intrigue deepens and the stakes rise, it’s the sense of humor that most distinguishes this issue. Usagi’s cousin, Yukichi, sets up Usagi as the wisened mentor while readers watch him fall into many of the sam pratfalls that a more innocent Usagi regularly stumbled across in earlier comics. It deepens their relationship and avoids any of this familiar premise reading as repetitive. However this hostage situation plays out, readers can still expect it to be delivered with storytelling elegance and concise character notes that have defined Usagi Yojimbo as one of the most consistently compelling series in comics across decades. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

VAMPIVERSE #1

Multiverse-hopping stories involving a beloved character are certainly nothing new, which makes the launch of this week’s Vampironica-centric Vampiverse need to stand out from the pack. By and large, it manages to do so, weaving a tale for its titular ancient protagonist that is incredibly predictable, but still lays the groundwork for some interesting possibilities. The real standout here is the art from Daniel Maine and color work from Francesca Cittarelli, which makes each panel feel incredibly dynamic and fully realized, even at its most cheesecakey moments. Time will tell if Vampiverse ends up nailing its ambitious concept, but it’s off to a pretty good start. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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WYND #10

Wynd Book 2 ends with Yorick getting some much-needed character development and Wynd receiving a new power-up that’s been teased since the first issue. The arc’s final fight isn’t nearly as intense as Wynd’s fight with the Bandaged Man (it’s surprising just how easy the villains lose this time around), but it looks like the next arc will be more action-heavy and I’m all for it. — Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

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