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2022-09-03 02:46:32 By : Ms. May Zhou

By Chase Magnett - August 24, 2022 11:00 am EDT

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 Damage Control #1, Olympus: Rebirth #1, and Forever Forward #1.

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

With a character as powerful as Superman, one of of the things I appreciate most is when a story chooses to subvert what makes the character truly their most powerful and—hint—it's not physical prowess. When it comes to Superman, the real source of his power is his humanity and that is what is most beautifully on display here in Action Comics #1046. The Warworld story is coming to a close rapidly and this issue sees Superman pushing in what feels like an impossible battle to get the one tool necessary to win the day. You go into it realizing that Superman is likely to emerge victorious, but it's how the issue brings that victory—and what that victory leads him to—that turns the tables on things making the hero perhaps his most vulnerable yet. It's a bit of brilliant storytelling on the part of Phillip Kennedy Johnson who continues to impress me with this run even if I don't love the overall idea of things. For me, the only real "weakness" if you could call it that was the art. I just was not a fan of the art in the issue personally, though that isn't to say it wasn't decent. It just wasn't my personal cup of tea when it comes to Superman, especially with the facial expressions on Superman that didn't seem to convey the significance of his good heart. The flip side of that is the art in the backup story had a really interesting vintage feel to it, a cross between the 80s and the Golden Age that was interesting to see. Overall, the whole issue is strong from cover to cover and an excellent chapter of this saga. -- Nicole Drum

Batman's current quest to hold together a world that is absent of Superman gives us one of the best issues to date, primarily thanks to his banter with President Luthor as well as receiving an even stranger partner halfway through this new issue. The issue jumps around to a lot of different scenarios and characters, but it works well, especially with Robertson's amazing artwork here. Despite nailing the human characters, the artist is able to give us some of the best takes on the likes of Detective Chimp and everyone's favorite Squirrel Green Lantern that we've ever seen. Another fun issue in a worthwhile mini-series. -- Evan Valentine

Batman: White Knight Presents – Red Hood might have only lasted two issues, but it packed quite a bit into those two issues and then found a way to somehow make Beyond The White Knight's ongoing story even better in the process. Sean Murphy and Clay McCormack highlight Jason's begrudging mentor style while also exploring how the trauma inflicted by the Joker has seeped out to affect every aspect of his life. There's a palpable frustration when Jason reverts to old patterns, but that's also why his partnership with Gan works, and the payoff is absolutely worth it, resulting in four final pages that immediately boost Beyond the White Knight and kick up the intrigue on future issues. It doesn't hurt that those final four pages are drawn by Simone Di Meo and colorist Dave Stewart, and are the slickest pages of the issue overall. Artist George Kambadais does a lovely job in keeping a similar style and tone to Simone's work, though there are some very awkward panels from time to time. Jason and Gan's journey from past to present however is more than worth any small flaws along the way, and those who are enjoying Beyond the White Knight will love what both leads bring to the universe moving forward. -- Matthew Aguilar

DC: Mech is proving to be a title that is just so specific and so niche that it's not really for most readers but, more than that, it seems to lean too much into its weakest points. The first issue did a strong job of setting up the story and world we're in here, particularly with its introduction of the conflict overall and a more interpersonal one brewing with the arrival of Kal-El. But DC: Mech #2 throws away most of that good foundation to lean too hard into what is essentially petty squabbles between Batman and Kal-El, dialing up the emotional reaction between both characters in such a cartoonish way that even the very cartoon-y villainy that goes down in the issue feels sophisticated and mature. It's a bit of a far fall from the strong start of the first issue, complete with obvious telegraphing of how this ends. -- Nicole Drum

"Year One" crawls along, moving the story a handful of minutes at most, in its third chapter. While a tightly focused issue can pay dividends, there's an absence of invention or progress found here. Deathstroke's battle with military agents and Green Arrow continues and offers a nostalgic sensibility for those who may recall reading issues of the original Deathstroke ongoing – plenty of shallow action bolstered by action. The plot and its characters are left largely unchanged from start to finish besides an announcement that all but the DC-uninitiated will barely notice. What's more is that this sequence primarily reveals Slade to be his own worst enemy as he consistently sets himself up for failure. The action sequence itself is capably delivered without confusion, but also becomes over-reliant upon splashes showcasing Deathstroke's costume and weapons in motion. While the design still possesses a "cool factor," it's something readers have already seen plenty of in this single story with nothing novel added to the formula. Throughout all of this the question remains, "Why did we need another Deathstroke origin story?" There are no answers in Deathstroke Inc. #12. -- Chase Magnett

Detective Comics #1063 is weird as heck and I love it. There's a unsettling combination of gothic horror and cosmic dread at play as Batman tries to determine his source of unease, potentially caused by "Black Noise," a strange undercurrent could be subtly warping the minds of Gotham's residents. The backup is even weirder, with Gordon learning that the corruption in his old city has gotten even stranger and more wicked in his absence. This is a fantastic Batman comic, in part because it seems so unlike any other Batman comic that's come before. -- Christian Hoffer

Fables #154 continues to be consistent with its slow and steady pace, focusing on each itinerant character as they continue their quest through the Black Forest. It's at least clear what the theme of the new Fables arc is, with the characters all experiencing adventures for the sake of adventures. And honestly, the loose meandering issues of Fables were often the best issues of the original series, with an almost slice-of-life feeling to the series despite its extraordinary setting. Still, it feels like something is missing from Fables, although I can't quite put my finger on it. -- Christian Hoffer

While I am still not a big fan of this story arc for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that the entire arc and issue puts Harley—literally the central character to the title—as little more than a blabbering side player, Harley Quinn #21 seems to be course correcting and tightening up this meandering tale for conclusion by bringing everything back down to Earth and even offering a major team up with Luke Fox. If you can accept Harley as barely an extra in this story—and a kind of poorly written and drawn one at that—then this issue isn't bad. It's especially good if you like Luke Fox as the character really shines here. But at larger issue is how what was a somewhat more introspective title overall shifted gears so hard to become a needlessly rushed weekly just to thrust this odd, wannabe space horror tale on a timeline to conclude in the big annual. And when you look at it that way. everything here just misses the mark. Harley is a character who, from the start of this run, has been on a redemption arc. Yet the closer we get to this conclusion, the further it seems we get away from that despite that getting some lip service here. The result is a slightly bloated issue that is just okay and generally pretty disappointing. -- Nicole Drum

It's difficult to state why anything that happens in Justice League vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #5 happens. By the final few pages, the villain is revealed but the stage isn't even set for a climactic confrontation because of the galling lack of context. The individual behind the Great Darkness is revealed by seeming happenstance while central elements of investigation, including multiple spreads dedicated to arguing over the Gold Lantern Ring and recounting the events of earlier issues, go nowhere. There's a near total absence of cause and effect within the story; instead, things simply happen and readers are left to presume that somehow the many disparate elements and talking heads might connect. Perhaps they will, but after 5 issues of cyclical patterns and minimal substance, it's not a smart bet. In the meanwhile, even Godlewski's capable and sometimes even striking art can't justify investing much more thought into such a poorly considered event. -- Chase Magnett

Although it occasionally falls victim to an inconsistent, dialogue-ridden narrative, Olympus: Rebirth #1 is a largely-entertaining and well-executed modernization of DC's pantheon, as well as the heroine at its center. When the issue's strong sense of characterization and gorgeous visuals from Caitlin Yarsky are at the forefront, the story truly gets to shine, and the mythos of the Amazons is better off as a result. It will remain to be seen just how much Olympus: Rebirth #1 becomes "essential reading" for the future of the Wonder Woman mythos – but at very least, it's an enjoyable excursion. -- Jenna Anderson

Robin returns to its roots as it wraps up before the arrival of Batman vs. Robin with the surviving crew from Lazarus Island gathered together to celebrate and handle one last thing. The battle with Lord Death Man proves to be anti-climactic with few impactful panels and low-lying stakes surrounding the humorous villain, even in spite of some recent changes. However, everything surrounding that action hits familiar high notes from the series. The further mysteries waiting beneath the island and surrounding Nezha remain intriguing and the crew of young heroes and anti-heroes make for a warm ensemble. A montage of photographs, cliffside chats, and one last appearance of Damian's favorite manga all make for an enjoyable outro focused on the handful of characters who provided this series with a real sense of heart. Wherever Damain, Connor, and Flatline go next, Robin #17 promises their journeys will be worth following. -- Chase Magnett

It's difficult to imagine The Swamp Thing ending 6 issues sooner—the original plan—given how elegantly issue #16 draws the series' many threads together to deliver a superb conclusion. The finale shifts away from space and superhero-infused images to emphasize the final confrontation of avatars and parliaments—of ideas—where the tale began. It's a conflict wrapped in metaphor and symbols, made accessible and infused with meaning by Mike Perkins' outstanding artwork, that blends the macro and micro elements of the story into a satisfying climax. Given that the villain of the piece is born from and supported by humanity, the response to Homo sapiens as a destructive force is nuanced and reflective. It provides readers with an abundance to ruminate upon emphasizing the notion of choice and individual perspective above all else. In the midst of this, The Swamp Thing continues to play upon past iterations of the character and carves out a grove for Levi Kamel that fits wonderfully into one of DC Comics' most ambitious canons. Just before the final pages of epilogue there is a triumphant splash displaying the Swamp Thing and nature in glorious repose; it's precisely the sort of splendid ending this series earned. -- Chase Magnett

Tales of the Human Target shows some of Christopher Chance's dealings with the Justice League International before the events of the current series. A common refrain emerges in the tales of Booster Gold, Fire, and Guy Gardner – each of them get involved with Chance as he's posing as a client and inadvertently interfere with his plan. It's a fun compliment to the main series and hints that Chance has more history with these heroes than previously thought. -- Christian Hoffer

Task Force Z barrels forward full throttle with its most brutal issue yet. With plenty of blood and gore for those that want it, Task Force Z #11 ties up plot threads in some big ways. This book moves along at a brisk pace and it returns itself back to the basics, a powerful character study of Jason Todd. Rosenberg's deep exploration into the cycle of being constantly resurrected—against your own will, nonetheless—is something pushed to the forefront here and this book is much better off for it. -- Adam Barnhardt

Judgment Day #2 radically altered the stakes of this story when it introduced a new god to judge all of Earth; this issue makes it clear exactly what it means for all of these terribly powerful heroes to confront a god. There's much chaos in the wake of the new Eternals' announcement and the hex of human characters serve to ground the action and understanding of superheroes within the story's epic scope. The sprawling cast leads to a lot of politicking and planning that's handled with considerable grace as Gillen manages to spin both characterization and exposition into nearly every line and Schiti ensures characters are instantly recognizable no matter how full the panel. This pays dividends in brief splashes of battle and destruction that inspire a genuine sense of awe. It's the awesome displays of superheroes on the page that make the characterization of this Celestial stunning as it clarifies the new power structure on Earth in a final act for the issue that left my jaw agape throughout. Judgment Day is quickly evolving into a very special event that delivers on the blockbuster promises of crossovers without forgetting to root its story in universal questions and character; A.X.E. is beginning to look like a best case scenario for superhero events. -- Chase Magnett

The Amazing Spider-Man #8 reflects perhaps the most essential quality for any creators tackling the title in 2022: making the familiar feel fresh once again. An issue focused on Spider-Man's relationships with two of his oldest foes, Norman Osborn and The Vulture, showcases exactly how well suited Romita and Wells are for the task. Last issue's cliffhanger doesn't disappoint in a brutal battle with Vulture that does not let up for a single moment. He depicts every impact in a visceral manner that elevates Vulture well above the jokes he typically receives, although Spidey still delivers a few zingers. It's how the issue handles Norman, much more subtly even in the art, that manages to impress even more. His struggle with his past sins is given increasing depth and it seems like the character could go anywhere for the first time since The Amazing Spider-Man #121 hit the stands. Both of these encounters reflect key elements of Peter's personality as he considers his own responsibility to others, regardless of what they've done. Minor humanistic touches like waiting to say farewell to an old foe provide the character both an iconic familiarity and carve out space for a genuinely new, more mature version to emerge. -- Chase Magnett

The Multiversal Avengers find their Thor, albeit one who carries its own trauma and found a different path. Like other Avengers in the series, this issue features a mash-up of Thor with another classic hero. While Avengers Forever has been more miss than hit, this issue was surprisingly strong. I think it speaks to how well Aaron knows Thor that he finds a way of forging a new story and path for the character. -- Christian Hoffer

The political intrigue continues as Sam Wilson sneaks into Wakanda to continue his hunt for Vibranium smugglers. Dual artists R.B. Silva and Ze Carlos weave their art styles seamlessly, with Silva handling Cap's adventures while Carlos tackling Falcon's. Both arcs push the overall story along, and we even get to see Cap take on Crossbones in hand-to-hand combat. Of course, a trip to Wakanda wouldn't be complete without an appearance by the African nation's king, which teases another confrontation next issue. -- Tim Adams

Carnage #5 very much feels like a transition chapter. Not much happens over the course of its pages outside of Carnage becoming more powerful through means of violence. For the most part, issue #5 opts to focus on Kenneth and his own journey in this new world he finds himself in. While I'm not certain about where Carnage could be going in the future, some interesting groundwork has been laid here with Kenneth, in particular, and his own character arc moving forward. -- Logan Moore

I truly enjoyed getting to know these oddball characters and following them into whatever fantastical scenario they get lost in. Damage Control was a truly pleasant surprise and delivered a world of charm and mayhem that I cannot wait to return to next month. -- Matthew Aguilar

Defenders: Beyond is unabashedly Al Ewing as the writer begins to tie together much of the mythos he's laid out during his time at Marvel. Coupled with the line art from Javier Rodriguez, Defenders: Beyond #2 is one of the most gorgeous books you'll lay your hands on this week. Double-page splashes pull you in that echo the best cosmic storytellers and only get better as the story progresses. That said, the script can be awfully heavy throughout, so much so, that Marvel includes a pair of explainer pages at the end to help guide readers through the thick of it. -- Adam Barnhardt

The final issue of Dan Slott's run on Fantastic Four is designed to read as epilogue, but as it makes its way through past events, tying up loose ends and undoing irksome alterations, the entire affair feels a bit too kitsch. It's the neatness of the entire effort, like observing a librarian carefully adjusting their shelves that makes it seem almost self-aware as if characters are always one panel away from turning to wave goodbye. Those characters speak with approximately the same voice in various modes of exposition and too-cute humor; it's difficult to laugh or sympathize with things that hardly resemble people, although they admittedly possess a polished appearance on the page, if nothing else. Ultimately, Fantastic Four #46 arrives as a welcome farewell with the toy chest neatly packed away for whoever arrives next. -- Chase Magnett

Peter David has returned to the telling tales of Captain Marvel's son, Genis-Vell, without missing a beat. The structure of this new series works well in terms of reminding readers what Genis' first series was like, working in tandem with Rick Jones for more humorous, light-hearted fare that still has a bite, while also catching up with what he's been up to nowadays. This mini-series acts as a fantastic way to make both old and new readers happy, working on the strengths of the character while also bringing something fresh to the table. Whether you're a fan of Genis-Vell or not, this comic is definitely worth your time. -- Evan Valentine

Just when I thought Marauders was chaotic enough, issue #5 briefly brings symbiotes into the picture. The longer this series goes on, the more it feels like writer Steve Orlando is just trying to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. The result makes for some fun action sequences, but the story itself has continued to fall short, primarily because of how nonsensical it is. Marauders has the potential to be an enjoyable series, although its focus needs to be greatly narrowed in the future. -- Logan Moore

Though this final chapter in the alternate universe storyline mostly sticks the landing, its conclusion is largely welcome because the arc as a whole has not been as satisfying as others in Saladin Ahmed's run on the character. While the plot of this issue itself is fun, it's artist Christopher Allen's work that makes this finale feel so sweet. Largely a battle sequence Allen constructs the action into unique panel layouts that go beyond grids and actually fit the feeling of each attack being shown. It's a great looking story that is finally over. -- Spencer Perry

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #2 sets the stage for a larger story that should unfold in the coming installments. While this book is filled with much of the same wittiness and action that Shang-Chi has come to be known for, I'm still not sure what to make of this new arc just yet. One thing I do appreciate though is that the story seems to be setting up a more personal journey for Shang in the future. It remains to be seen how this all pans out, but I'm very interested in seeing how the narrative develops from here. -- Logan Moore

The final act of Gwenverse emerges like Steve Buscemi carrying a skateboard to greet his fellow kids. Inclusions of memes, emotes, and all sorts of mangled lingo formulate an imagined reality with no clear audience and it makes investing in the climax of this adventure nearly impossible, even with notable stakes for nearly every character involved. The narration pushes an idea of Gwen and its self-perceived themes through thinly stretched metaphors and almost makes its way to being parody. Spider-Gwen swinging away from this multiverse of her own selves is the best move she's made in 2022. -- Chase Magnett

As Darth Vader heads into a sandstorm in hopes of finding Sabé, his travails inspire flashbacks to some of the more emotionally challenging points in his life, both as a young boy and his more recent traumas. Given that a substantial chunk of this issue is either Vader wordlessly plunging into a sandstorm or remembering encounters that unfolded in other movies, there's not much in this chapter of the story that offers anything new, but even without much narrative momentum, the artwork still manages to keep us engaged, as do the hints at what the future might hold for the Sith Lord. It's yet to be seen if this arc will have any substantial reveals to Vader's overall arc, but the story's future could see this installment retroactively prove to be a more pertinent step in the character's overall journey, though for the moment, it feels like it's treading water. -- Patrick Cavanaugh

With the Spark still possessing Aphra, this chapter focuses on her closest allies hoping to offer her assistance, allowing for a narrative justification of why we spend more time with the ensemble than with the title character. The Doctor has introduced us to various compelling figures over the years, some of which complicate her own trajectory, so by giving the book an actual reason for her to take a backseat, it feels like a welcome change of pace for the series. Additionally, the characters themselves are some of the most engaging the Aphra has collaborated with, including the issue's tease in its finale of bringing back even more complex characters back from her history, which is sure to delight longtime readers. -- Patrick Cavanaugh

Wolverine's mission concludes as the last of the harried forces converge on the Russian fugitives he guards for an adventure that fits neatly into Marvel Comics continuity by eliding any substantial ramifications. By its very design—all the way down to Wolverine's impaired memory—it is a story intended to be forgotten by those involved. The few villains who meet their end are hardly memorable and the heroes are largely interchangeable. It's a competent adventure with a few entertaining action beats scattered throughout, but little depth to comment on the plot or characters at play. For those seeking more from a very specific era of Wolverine comics this will suffice, but those interested would be better off seeking the original material from which it's derived. -- Chase Magnett

All-New Firefly #7 pushes into explosive territory this week as all eyes fall on Jane at a tense time. While the Serenity crew plays hot potato with a bomb, fans are given a first look at Jane's past mistakes before they collide with his present. And of course, the issue ends with a bang when some mysterious cargo is stumbled upon by the team. -- Megan Peters

Beware The Eye of Odin #3 continues this book's streak of outstanding action mixed with fascinatingly bizarre artwork. It's a shame that main character is still a bit of a whiner, but by the time the Valkyries show up you likely won't care. -- Connor Casey

Book of Shadows #2 picks up immediately after the title's debut issue – right smack dab in the middle of the scene causing a slightly jarring start. Fret not, because that soon irons itself out as Bunn's scripting moves along at an incredibly brisk pace. While that's welcome, it also causes some instances where even a little exposition would be nice – especially when dealing with MacGuffins and traveling between realities. Nonetheless, Cifuentes continues to put at some strong work on the art. Between he and Filardi, these horror characters are rendered just as well as they've ever been. -- Adam Barnhardt

At this point, A Calculated Man knows exactly what kind of book it needs to be, and executes it in a clever, increasingly-absurd way. The character beats and dynamics are both easy to dive into and satisfying for established readers, with a few key sequences in Paul Tobin's script that legitimately charmed me. Alberto Alburquerque's art also keeps the series' cartoony, stylish vibe in spades, making A Calculated Man #3 both a fun turning point, and an exciting tease for what's to come. -- Jenna Anderson

Panosian and Snyder are both clearly in their element when depicting a haunted Western; even as Canary is bound for a clear destination, it's difficult not to desire more campfire stories like this from a creative that clearly grasps both genres at play. Panels featuring the big, colorful skies of the American west combined with rocky vistas deliver a striking impression of the setting that empowers both the most terrifying and tame of sequences, alike. The horror elements are slow to emerge, largely presented in flashbacks adding to minor misgivings and tension in the present. That slowburn plays to excellent effect as Panosian lands a panel drenched in red with terrifying effect. In the meanwhile, a growing cast offers readers likable and easily distinguished heroes and potential villains all poised to enter a collapsed mine shaft that claimed the lives of 40 men. With a hook like that, who could resist returning for Canary #3? -- Chase Magnett

The Department of Truth's most compelling arc continues, as Black Hat tries to convince Cole's husband to help turn him from the Department of Truth. Like any good conspiracy, the group uses a kernel of truth combined with fiction filling in the gaps to paint a convincing tale. While we the readers can see the flaws in Black Hat's story, it's unclear whether Matty is actually convinced by the tale or not. I like that the comic is starting to really push a bit with its story, re-centering the comic around Cole and the effect that being immersed in conspiracies is having on his personal life. -- Christian Hoffer

Farmhand #20 sets the stage for its final arc (coming early 2023) with the series' best issue to date – a profound and emotional climax that's bound to keep readers anxiously anticipating the series' return. After finishing the issue, it's clear this is where the series has been building since it began. Themes of family, generational trauma, rage, and forgiveness are woven together and finally cinched into a knot that draws upon all of the Jenkins family's history. It's a dark sequence with Monica at her most powerful and multiple family members at her mercy, and Guillory finds ample opportunity to reflect that rage and despair. What's most impressive in his artwork is how deftly it transitions between tones and creates space for the release of tension even as the plot grows more chaotic. There's catharsis and tragedy aplenty to be found in Farmhand #20, and an earnest expression of how faith can carry us through hard times. I can't wait to see how it all ends. -- Chase Magnett

Jessica Harrow moves closer to finding out the truth behind her mysterious death. It also helps when you can find Death to get those answers from directly. Flaviano and Rico Renzi absolutely nail the expressive facial reactions from the Grim cast, as there is much for them to react to. Just as readers get a new answer, another question is raised to keep up the intrigue. -- Tim Adams

Sometimes when Todd McFarlane and artist Brett Booth stand at bat with Gunslinger Spawn they hit a surprising line drive out into the field, this month they struck out. This largely ludicrous series has no charm left with issue #11 and is largely spinning its wheels narratively, repeating the storyline template that has kept Spawn himself going for over 300 issues. Booth's artwork has largely been the saving grave but even the awkward positions he contorts the characters into this time can't elevate this one. -- Spencer Perry

It's abundantly clear that there's no emergency brake built into I Hate This Place after this week. In the very first issue, it established a wide variety of antagonists and threatened to slowly pull at each thread, cinching them together into a knot. What happens in this issue resembles the quick snapping of ropes on a deck as something too large catches the net below. There remains plenty of mystery but many of the most vicious creatures are revealed in an utterly gripping chase sequence. There's never more than a few panels for Gabby and Trudy (or readers) to breathe before facing another "out of the frying pan and into the fire" scenario. It's a thrill to chase their misadventures and each new twist is established so that no moment of hope or despair feels cheap. Amidst so much chaos and action, there remains an astute attention to detail with careful tracking of background elements and hints at whatever conspiracy may tie this all together. I Hate This Place possessed an abundance of ambition from the start, but what's most impressive about this irresistible horror story is the confidence with which it drives readers through such a sprawling house (or farmland) of horrors. -- Chase Magnett

The Lonesome Hunters continues to impress, with the latest issue exploring Lupe's still unresolved grief from losing his parents and the general lack of support he's received since. It's a feeling that Howard can relate to, and the two bond on the way to confront the magpie queen. This has been a great series so far, with top notch art and a story that's been really enjoyable. One of the sleeper hits of the summer. -- Christian Hoffer

Magic is one of the most popular games in existence for a variety of reasons, with the strength of its heroes and world being a major part of the franchise's appeal. Those new to that world who aren't as familiar with its many citizens and landmarks are always looking for a path into what so many already adore, and Magic: Ajani Goldmane #1 might just be one such path. Writer Seanan McGuire provides a concise depiction of who Ajani is and what remains important to him while also building a powerful and intriguing aura around the character that should entice fans to seek out more about them. Artists Nori Retherford, Jacques Salomon, Giuseppe Cafaro, Lea Caballero, and Michael Shelfer work in tandem with colorists Kieran Quigley, Natalia Nesterenko, and Fernando Sifuentes to craft several different stories that all feel cohesive as a whole and feed into one another quite well. The last story does feel like it ends a bit abruptly, and not every story will resonate with everyone, but most should come away intrigued with Ajani's personal story and the greater citizens of this fantastical world, and that can't be anything but a win. -- Matthew Aguilar

In a world saturated with superhero comics, Minor Threats #1 is a creative and well-rounded introduction to another world of capes and tights. Like label-partner Black Hammer before it, Minor Threats honors the superhero stories that have come before it, simultaneously staying true those stories while reinventing the genre in its own image. The general premise of Minor Threats—a team-up of villains that take on an even worse baddie—is something that's been time and time again. Yet here, Oswalt, Blum, and Hepburn create intriguing characters that make the story that much better. That story certainly takes backstage to an ensemble of stellar characters in this opening to a much, much larger tale. -- Adam Barnhardt

The end of this first chapter has some exciting moments, as it sets up building blocks for future stories. While the action sequences kept the pace of the story moving along, some of the art wasn't clear when transitioning between panels and pages. Whether it involved a punch or kick landing or some other movement taking place, it wasn't always clear what was taking place. However, the choice to center New Masters on Ola was the right decision, since she's the only character looking out for the best interest of Earthlings and Jovians alike. -- Tim Adams

Nyx #9 is yet another issue that proves this series' writing deserves better. It's frustrating that complex family dynamics and a legitimately hatable villain have to sit alongside constant titillation from the cover, character designs and panel layout. As long as you can avoid all of that, it's a solid read. -- Connor Casey

Pearl's artwork continues to be excellent but the story really feels like it has hit a lull. Pearl III #4 most centers around a handful of smaller character moments where the protagonists take inventory of what's happened in the story so far. While these moments are somewhat worthwhile and help provide more context and characterization, it still doesn't prevent Pearl III #4 from being the driest installment in the series until this point. -- Logan Moore

Public Domain #3 really begins to dig into how its central middle-class family handles money, and those specific problems, whether they have to do with insubordination or far more significant struggles with addiction, provide a lot of useful insight into the proceedings. There are outright hilarious gags related to tattooing that help to balance the darkness introduced via some enforcers, and Zdarsky walks the line between comedy and drama gracefully – laughs come between the sighs and tears much as they do in life. What's most striking in issue #3, however, is how it reframes the future of the story. Readers familiar with relevant history may be expecting a great deal of courtroom drama, negotiations, and old feuds resurfacing. Those elements may still be in play, but Zdarsky utilizes the realm of fiction to wisely chart a new course through these elements of inspiration and to go somewhere unimaginable in reality while leaving this story grounded. It's an impressive maneuver and should leave readers eager to see where things go in Public Domain #4. -- Chase Magnett

Nathan and Marshall have been a little out of sync since Marshall saved Nathan's life, and now Radiant Black finds a way to introduce an even bigger shake-up to their friendship and power dynamic in the process. Writers Kyle Higgins and Joe Clark continue to find ways to evolve and re-shape Nathan and Marshall's roles in each other's lives, though this was also a perfect time to introduce some of the other supporting Radiant characters into the mix, which helps to keep things from getting stale. The same goes for changes to the powers, though Wendell might be the MVP of this issue, as Higgins, Clark, artist Marcelo Costa, and colorist Triona Farrell find creative ways to showcase his unique powerset and set up one hell of a compelling hook moving forward. The art team is on their A-game during the issue's many battle sequences as well, setting the mood with vivid color shifts and fluid movement across the page. Radiant Black is always full of surprises, and the fun doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon. -- Matthew Aguilar

Rogues' Gallery #2 is a stunning comic. Where the first issue of this series gave us the perspective of a disgruntled group of comic super fans who decided to take their extremely misguided and toxic grievances out on the star of the show based on their favorite character, this issue takes us into that star's life and the personal toll that toxic fandom has taken on her as she literally gives her blood, sweat, and tears to bring to life something that she loves and reveres just as much as those toxic fans do. That's right: the much hated celebrity is herself a deep fan of Red Rogue. The issue does a brilliant job of peeling back the curtain a bit to show just how awful fans can be and the real impact of baseless rumors and speculation. While I fear much of the important nuance and lesson of this issue will be missed by the people who most need it, it's not just good story, but a startling reminder of the humanity of the people in entertainment – and the lack of it as well. -- Nicole Drum

Three issues in and Samurai Sonja is undeniably a beautiful comic book, but it remains to be seen how essential it's going to be to the Sonja mythos. This installment is essentially structured around a single fight scene, with the overwhelming majority of dialogue consisting of quotes about the art of battle. Luckily, that fight scene is so well-executed and dynamic, with articulated art from Mirianda Puglia and gorgeously-unexpected colors from Kike J. Diaz, that the emotion of the story can still be felt in spades. Overall, what Samurai Sonja lacks in narrative, it absolutely makes up for in visuals. -- Jenna Anderson

Every time I think one of these Spawn comics is about to totally lose me there's always one idea that makes it seem worth it. Much of The Scorched #9, still written by Sean Lewis and featuring art by Stephen Segovia, reads like nonsense, an expansion on a character that does little to make itself anymore interesting despite everything continuing to look really cool (the baseline for anything with Todd's name on it). A final twist offers a sliver of redemption for this title but it continues to be a chore to read at times. -- Spencer Perry

The fourth issue of this Dark Horse miniseries reminds readers how chaotic the Shaolin Cowboy's life really is. It's not long after one foe is defeated that a huge mob of threats show up out of nowhere to take their place. The amount of violence is perfectly rendered and can appear over the top, but still fits the tone of the series. You can tell Geof Darrow enjoyed himself between the sarcastic barbs thrown between Shaolin Cowboy, his lizard son, and his grandson. Just when you get teary eyed at a long-awaited reunion, the rug is quickly pulled out from under us with a heartbreaking conclusion. -- Tim Adams

It only makes sense that Sonic the Hedgehog delivers great chase sequences. Hampered and harried, Sonic and his allies make their way through Eggman's city with fearsome opponents on their tail with each new encounter or obstacle revealing something about the heroes. Metal Sonic and the looming complex of mechanical monstrosities make for a consistent source of tension that provides many opportunities for individuals to grow along the way. Belle remains a source of compassion for Eggman's creations and the heart of the series at this moment, while Sonic and Tails seek to inspire her and others. Kit and Surge, spinning out of the pages of Imposter Syndrome, reveal themselves to be secret weapons in more ways than one. Kit, in particular, is given an excellent opportunity to evolve within the Sonic cast. Sonic the Hedgehog #52 is another excellent installment as the action rises and a showdown with Eggman looms. -- Chase Magnett

After Padmé is captured by the Separatists, it's up to Obi-Wan and Anakin to spring into action, encountering an unlikely ally who has also fallen victim to the terrors of General Grievous. The book delivers on the premise of being an all-ages anthology experience, with this issue managing to offer an engaging and entertaining standalone story. Like with many all-ages Star Wars comics, the effectiveness of the experience rests almost entirely on how invested you are in particular characters, so prequel fans will surely enjoy watching what this trio gets up to, though there's not much of note to highlight that necessarily makes this issue an exceptional read. However, merely not being an arduous experience that keeps us invested from start to finish is still something considered more rewarding than its peers. -- Patrick Cavanaugh

The conclusion of the story brings together all the major players in an effective way, delivering action, adventure, excitement, and occasionally emotional exchanges, all of which are staples of the Stranger Things franchise. From the start of this series, Kamchatka has managed to color in between the lines of the major events of the Netflix narrative, delivering a storyline that honors the spirit of the show while also establishing itself as its own adventure. While there might have been hints at connections to the proper narrative, the end of the journey doesn't do all that much to elucidate upon elements that appeared in the TV show, so while that facet of the book might disappoint some fans, being given an entertaining experience with twists, turns, and terrifying Demogorgons is still more than what most other Stranger Things comics have accomplished. -- Patrick Cavanaugh

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles steps out with an intense second issue of The Armageddon Game, but this week's release has little more than adrenaline keeping it afloat. While fans will no doubt stick around for its colorful art, the narrative's flighty pace feels disjointed to say the least. A tempting cliffhanger pulls the story together at the end, but at 50 pages long, readers might not make it to the good part before setting the issue down. -- Megan Peters

Tynion has done an excellent job building up a fully-realized fantasy world, and the first issue of the latest Wynd series is evidence of that. Though I won't lie, between the size of our party of protagonists and the tavern setting of this opening issue, this is starting to feel more like a D&D campaign. -- Connor Casey

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