Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 7/7/2021

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

The review blurbs you’ll find contained herein are typically supplemented in part by longform individual reviews for significant issues. This week that includes X-Men #1 and Mamo #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

There is a weirdness to Tynion’s Batman. Where Gotham’s hero was once pretty much unbeatable, always managing to pull out the win by somehow having been ahead of the game from the start, now he couldn’t get someone to tell him time in a room full of clocks. No Alfred, no Cave, no fancy tech, and now the actual city completely against him as the villains quite literally are now in control (albeit not the usual villains). It’s this weirdness as well as some strange space between “Future State,” the current arc, and the “Fear State” event that Batman #110 finds itself in the center of. And that’s a problem. While Tynion’s writing isn’t terrible here, there are simply too many threads that he has to weave together. Even with Jorge Jimenez’s art, which paired with Tomeu Morey’s colors offers up a really energetic and dazzling visual experience this issue, what Tynion is weaving here is just flimsy and full of tiny tears. Bringing Batman to account by making him a somewhat realistic character would be a good idea, but a complete take down of the vigilante with issue after issue after issue of kicking him while down is just too much and it’s that lack of nuance and forethought that shows itself sharply here. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2 out of 5

The whole idea of the Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point series was imaginative already by fleshing out Fortnite‘s lore with Batman, but the finale certainly didn’t pull any punches either. It’s got humor, romance, heartbreak, and even more twists than expected from a story already brimming with crossovers and guest appearances. Unlike the start of the series, however, this finale banks much more heavily on people knowing their ins and outs of both Batman and Fortnite, so if you made it to the end without much additional homework done, the end may not be quite as impactful. It does leave us with plenty of questions to be answered later, though, so there’s at least the prospect of more answers to come. — Tanner Dedmon

Rating: 4 out of 5

Duke Thomas has always been one of the best characters that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo had created during their original run on Batman, and while his new status quo is simply amazing, the characters he encounters could have used a little work. With the introduction of the “White Market”, a super villain auction house that sells weapons to some of DC’s biggest antagonists, Duke has a perfect opportunity to stretch his legs with his modus operandi of protecting Gotham when the sun is out. While this issue isn’t perfect, there’s definitely potential for the Signal here and I’m crossing my fingers that we get an ongoing at some point in the future, as the bones of a long-running story are definitely there. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Now that Katie is no longer with Jess at college, the voices in Jess’ head about how her classmates view her are getting louder and darker, though these voices might not be coming from where she thinks. The terrors of the storyline are effectively and organically being ramped up, slowly depicting Jess’ decaying emotional state, not only within the narrative but also through the ominous and unsettling imagery presented in the book. The backup story, “The Bloody Bride,” is also creepy and leans into the concept of exploring other artifacts from the Warrens’ room of unsettling relics, making for an engaging and disturbing complement to the overall The Conjuring mythology. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

Crime Syndicate #5 raises the stakes with both a death and an introduction, but it’s impossible for either to land because this miniseries’ stakes are essentially non-existent. The canonical allure of superhero comics are not present in a story set upon an alternate earth and unlikely to connect with any future tales; the story itself has failed to provide any characters, themes, or plot points of particular interest either. As events swirl further out of control, I found myself spending many pages simply wondering what any individual’s motive might be. Even Johnny Quick, the character most centered in this issue, remains largely a mystery surrounded by corpses of various origins with no clear perspective on what Quick’s actual worldview might be—just some familiar tropes arranged in a simulacrum of an origin. Artist Kieran McKeown capably portrays the events of this story, but their inviting superhero style is clearly a mismatch for what’s on the page and the tonal discrepancy is an active distraction when reading the most violent or gruesome sequences. While it’s possible to pick at nearly any choice or page in Crime Syndicate #5, it’s not worth the time invested because there’s clearly nothing more to be asked about this misstep than: Who was this even for? — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

Crush & Lobo #2 has Crush making the long journey to see her father in the cosmic prison. Rather than skip over the monotony of a solo journey through space, Mariko Tamaki’s script uses it as an opportunity to dig into Crush and reveal how this face-to-face with Lobo is really about Crush finally owning up to certain parts of herself. Tamaki is still having fun having Crush address the reader with a vague air of disdain, and it works because we understand how much that attitude is a front to protect Crush from herself. Amancay Nahuelpan’s artwork puts the reader in Crush’s perspective, imbuing the character first with a too-cool-for-school demeanor, followed by a childlike whimsy as she dances around an empty fast food restaurant playspace in a flashback during her and her ex’s meet-cute. Tamra Bonvillain’s neon purple hues pull us further into Crush’s cosmic rocker identity. When expressing Crush at her most emotional, Ariana Maher’s bold letters serve as the finishing touch on a fun, exciting issue with depth of character thoughtfully crafted to reflect its endearing lead. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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DC #2

Comic Reviews - Justice League Infinity #1
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Green Lantern continues to explore the loss of the Main Power Battery and the ramifications of that loss from several angles, and it’s the combination of those angles that makes Green Lantern #4 so compelling. On one side writer Geoffrey Thorne showcases just how lethal a Lantern, especially one as skilled as John Stewart, can be even without a ring, while also examining how a leader attempts to process the loss of those in his charge. Meanwhile, on OA you have a captivating mystery thriller as Jo attempts to put the pieces together with the frenetic (but lovable) wild card Keli introducing just the right amount of chaos to keep it all moving. Tom Raney and Marco Santucci and colorist Michael Atiyeh create a definable look for the Lanterns, though I think the first half of the issue was a more effective combination of storytelling and visuals than the second half. Still, both sides of this story continue to hook me, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Coming off of Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s excellent opening salvo on Justice League, I was a little worried after this latest arc launched with a focus on the United Planets and a new team of heroes, but those fears were thankfully put to rest after just a few pages. Despite the new team of united protectors, the focus is still very much on the dynamics and relationships within the team. The best parts of the issue are once again Naomi and Black Adam, who bring such a fresh energy to each and every interaction. Naomi’s parents also provide the perfect prism in which to view the League and everything that comes with it, including one of my new favorite Black Adam scenes of recent memories. Artist Steve Pugh and colorist Nick Filardi shine brightest in the Green Arrow and Black Canary segments, which are yet another highlight of the book all around. That said, I did miss Marquez’s stylings throughout the issue, and fingers crossed he’s back soon, especially if things shift focus to Superman, because his Superman is always impressive. As for Justice League Dark, it’s always impressive how much writer Ram V, artist Sumit Kumar, and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. can do in just a few pages, and that is the case once again in Part 1 of “The Eternal Knight.” The mystery of Elnara, her interactions with Batman, and that last page hook are all compelling, and the artwork is stellar throughout. Whether you’re here for the League or sticking around for Team JL Dark, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

The DCAU is back with a vengeance with Justice League Infinity, picking up the pieces right as Justice Leagued Unlimited left them all sorts of years ago. Fans of the show will be delighted to see editor’s notes that reference certain episodes of the show, showing just how serious these writers and editors took the continuity between cartoon and comic. All that in consideration, the plot of the comic itself was heavy on the action and light on story. In fact, Beavers dynamite style and bombastic artwork makes this comic read like a Genndy Tartatovsky joint, with each BOOM!, POW!, and punch palpable as ever. With an ensemble, there’s also a lack of character moments and between that and the story itself, this debut wasn’t as impactful as it could have been. At the very least, it’s nostalgic and many readers should get a kick out of that. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Nice House on the Lake #2 takes the promising premise introduced in #1 and clarifies just how deep this rabbit hole is designed to go; from the look of things here the series has a long road ahead of it and that’s cause to celebrate. My only hesitation in reading it is that the narrative is clearly more rewarding when readers have the ability to trace various charts and details from prior installments—serialization makes tracking characters with two names (given and codename) difficult. However, the events on the page and complexities of the scenario, setting, and relationships make this an incredibly rewarding read even when details are lost between installments. What is most impressive in #2 is the sense of pacing. Tynion quickly summarizes a tremendous amount of information about what happens on the first night using neatly designed textpages (with invaluable visual aides) to prevent thrills from curdling in a single moment. Instead, the narrative quickly progresses to various sequences of exploration and discussion, each of which adds a new layer to the proceedings. It’s clear that the discovery and understanding of this place and its purpose has only begun, but each new detail also makes it clear this is a mystery worth exploring with a rich cast of characters whose names I’m eager to learn month-by-month, although I suspect the collected re-read will be even more rewarding. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Suicide Squad is definitely having an effect on the comics, as there’s already a focus on Peacemaker and Suicide Squad #4 brings Bloodsport to the party. It’s actually welcome just to bet some fresh blood in the mix, and this issue is a perfect introduction to the character and his skillset. In fact, aside from one-pointed exchange between Peacemaker and Amanda Waller, Bloodsport is the only character or plot point to move forward in this issue, so it will be interesting to see how Earth-3, Part 2 picks things up and gets moving next issue. Writer Robbie Thompson seems to have a natural handle on Bloodsport and Peacemaker, and while there are several artists working on this book, their work complements each other for the most part. I’m not a huge Crime Syndicate fan, and I’m excited to see what the series can do with them, though nothing is that outside of expectations by the issue’s end other than something revolving around Bloodsport, not Waller, the Suicide Squad as a whole, or the Syndicate. If you want to see what Bloodsport can do, this is a win, but the overall narrative and cast of zany characters don’t seem to move forward much by issue’s end. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Swamp Thing #5 provides an interlude from the series’ central narrative and it’s one that clarifies the concepts at the center of said narrative with an outstanding guest artist. This is ostensibly the “Constantine issue” as Levi is drawn to London in his plantlike form to confront another powerful and horrifying idea warping the world around it. This confrontation with the Battle of Britain and fascism’s shadow in modern Europe connects neatly to the conflicts studied in the series so far, but also provides some space from the critiques of the United States and capitalism. John McCrea proves to be a perfect companion for this particular diversion as he brings the streets of London to life in both the modern day and 1940 in grimy, gritty detail. His conception of both Constantine and Swamp Thing capture the character’s charm perfectly and serves to parallel this series with The Saga of the Swamp Thing which first suggested such potent forms for these two icons. Ram V’s address of ideas and how they morph, grow, and hide across time has never been more clear and a brief epilogue reveals how the second half of The Swamp Thing intends to confront modern forms of fascism and other man made horrors. Based upon The Swamp Thing #5, it should be an outstanding second act. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Yara Flor’s ongoing series debut set a pretty high bar, so it’s lovely to be able to say that Wonder Girl #1 manages to somehow meet that bar once more. This time around though it’s less focused on Yara and more focused on the people moving her direction and the ripple effects her appearance is having, and while I always want as much Yara in the book as possible, I found the work being done around her here intriguing enough to keep things afloat and moving in the right direction. When Yara does show up, however, there’s an effortless quality that writer Joelle Jones brings to the character, and all the humor and charm you’ve come to love about her is on full display. Meanwhile, Jones, Adriana Melo, and Jordie Bellaire deliver another visual stunner. The action sequences pop with motion and color while the opening sequence and the last few pages create a sense of awe, mystery, and dread that few books can match. Wonder Girl continues to be a diamond in DC’s crown, and if you’re not on board you are missing out. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marvel #1

The Amazing Spider-Man leads into a new story run with issue #70, and its concise pacing will leave readers shivering in anticipation for “The Sinister War.” As Peter finds himself confronted with the Lizard’s new status, things around the globe are starting to shift for our favorite heroes and villains. The Sinister Six is back together with mayhem on its mind, and amidst a startling revelation about Harry Osborne, it seems Kindred is ready to scorch the Earth to show up Spider-Man. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

Marvel Comics’ 2021 annuals have provided a range of quality, but are all ultimately strung along by the same premise that prevents them from delivering more than mildly entertaining entries in a liminal space barely connected to the titles they originate from. This instance tells the story of Star receiving the Reality Stone’s immense powers and Spider-Man failing to stop her from wreaking havoc. There are some great opportunities for writer Karla Pacheco to express humor, including some excellent dog-oriented puns, and the positioning of a reformed gym teacher shows a real knack for memorable conflicts and quick character development, but Pacheco’s panache can’t resolve a story that by its very nature is designed to not be resolved. Its extended page count is always aiming for the promise of more annuals to be collected and more future stories to be followed following this brief interaction between Peter Parker and a barely recognizable Marvel anti-hero, and that’s a bit of a bummer. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

America Chavez: Made in the U.S.A. has unearthed quite a bit in regards to America’s past, much of it unexpected, and writer Kalinda Vazquez continues that trend in issue #4. What led to Catalina and America’s separation and the truth about what happened to her parents will undoubtedly hit hard, especially for those who have children or siblings, and artist Carlos Gomez and colorist Jesus Aburtov craft those moments with the weight and tone needed for them to land with the intended impact. When America kneels on the beach, you feel every bit of the loss, the grief, and the pain she’s feeling, and that’s an impressive feat. When things get back to the present, however, it feels like there’s something missing. America’s response to these memories and all this new information just doesn’t feel quite right, even when taking her more matter-of-fact personality into consideration. Perhaps this will get fleshed out a bit more next issue and make sense here, but it didn’t feel as if she had really taken time to process all that and deliver the compassionate response you might expect. There’ still a lot to love here even with the odd ending, and hopefully, the final issue can stick the landing. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3 out of 5

Right out of the gate some props are due to artist Javier Garron and colorist David Curiel, who deliver some knockout scenes in “World War She-Hulk”‘s debut issue. Whether it’s the Winter Guard invading Avengers Mountain, Starbrand being a complete force of nature, or Gorilla Man coming to terms with his actions, there are so many captivating scenes throughout the issue that it deserves praise simply for that fact alone. There are plenty of She-Hulk scenes as well, and despite her losing the effort, Jason Aaron does a great job of making Jennifer look strong as it were (to use a wrestling term). That said, there’s not a ton of context as to why this is even happening, and it does seem odd that with that much firepower in Avengers HQ she could be taken like that, even with someone on the inside. Soon we’re going to need some answers, and the nature of those answers will go a long way in figuring out just how good this initial issue was, but just based on what’s here, it’s a solid start. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3 out of 5

The battle between Steve Rogers and the Red Skull doesn’t end with fisticuffs, but a battle of the minds in the “free market of ideas”, with both Schmidt and Cap trading barbs and ideologies against one another. It’s scenes like this Coates is really able to shine, as the Skull and Captain America attempt to push forth why their methodology is the best. It’s an interesting dissection of both characters and what they believe, with the issue giving us an interesting new status quo for Sin as well. Another solid entry for the Star Spangled Soldier. –Evan Valentine

Rating: 4 out of 5

Events come to a head in Children of the Atom #5 as the reappearance of the X-Men forces the team to confront their own identities while clearing up a number of lingering questions for readers. It also finishes introducing the team with an internal monologue from Jay Jay this time around. Both advances are welcome for the series, but outside of an introductory showdown with the newest iteration of U-Men is primarily told to readers. Jay Jay’s dynamics with his older brother are barely shown to readers across 5 issues before being resolved and making the resolution a barely noticeable moment as a result. Similarly, the team’s questioning their own actions, claiming themselves as mutants, and being exposed is hand waved away in an installment that seems entirely focused on decreasing stakes and conflict from its start. It’s a perfectly fine step forward and one that offers some entertaining spreads and useful information, but all of that is delivered in a fashion that still leaves me to wonder why exactly I need to pick up another issue next month. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson, who recently reignited DC’s Superman after taking the reigns from Brian Michael Bendis, now has a similar job with Marvel’s symbiotes after Donny Cates’ work with Venom came to a conclusion, sadly his work for the Distinguished Competition started stronger. That begins here with Extreme Carnage: Alpha, an eight part series that’s trying its best to make Carnage happen yet again, but the world here is tired and needs new life injected into it. There is one interesting wrinkle brought in with a political subplot that becomes the driving force of the story, but even that’s not enough to make symbiotes relevant again. Artist Manuel Garcia does decent work throughout the book, making some of its slower moments at least visually interesting. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a Carnage Shark. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 2 out of 5

Hellions slows down the enormous laughs from its prior issue to pick up lingering threads from even earlier issues in #13. It’s a tense set of reminders played out naturally across this series’ idiosyncratic cast of characters as they continue to drive the action. It seems every member of the team receives at least one moment. Both of Hellions’ core pairings—Nanny & Orphan-Maker and Greycrow & Kwannon—continue to evolve in distinct and very interesting directions, just as Mister Sinister adds a new pairing to the mix with similar qualities. The final few pages lead readers to believe that some of these characters arcs are building to pivotal twists in the near future with a cliffhanger that is earned across pages of tension rather than with a single, sudden surprise. Needless to say this is another multi-faceted issue with a reasonable blend of laughs, action, and even romance all told through its characters rather than with or alongside them. Hellions #13 is another strong issue in the most consistently quality X-series today. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marvel #2

Comic Reviews - X-Men #1 2021
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Betty returns to the spotlight in The Immortal Hulk #48 for, almost certainly, her last centerpiece in the series. In her Red Harpy form, Betty has transformed remarkably although that transformation would be better described as a synthesis. Here, she and Bruce finally confront one another as the opening page outlines the remarkable degree Betty’s life has been transformed by her relationship with (and confidence in) Bruce. Their conversation, following a splash on the second page, is incredibly restrained. Bennett’s use of a carefully drawn grid, even in moments of remembered action, shows how controlled both halves of this back-and-forth are and draws careful attention to their faces; this is where Bennett thrives. Both expressions are always purposeful in a continuous dialogue, which a mere two cutaways also serve to inform. The power in this issue is not simply found in the careful purpose placed in Al Ewing’s carefully constructed dialogue; it’s that Bennett’s figures construct a dialogue unto themselves filled with a greater emotional resonance and then Bennett merges those faces filled with that emotion into Ewing’s words. That this long overdue—to the point of being older than The Immortal Hulk itself—conversation concludes it is on one of these perfectly constructed faces filling only 1/9th of the page. There’s a spread to follow, but Betty says it all in that panel. It’s a beautifully understated moment followed by a series of beautiful moments, only some of them similarly understated. The Immortal Hulk has invested a great deal of focus on Betty as a character with a long and varied history and here it gives this character her due by providing some sense of autonomy to her for perhaps the first time in Marvel Comics history; that alone is a remarkable accomplishment for The Immortal Hulk. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

Runaways continues to be one of the best mainstream comics published today, and this installment proves that in spades. With the series’ 100th legacy issue on the horizon, this chapter takes on the challenge of simultaneously continuing the emotional plotlines that have made up this current arc, while also dropping multiple major plot twists—all (except for a few pages) without a single line of dialogue. Covering that much ground could easily get overwhelming or unsatisfying in a comic, but Runaways makes it all an incredibly meaningful experience—one that makes it even more apparent that Rainbow Rowell, Andres Genolet, Dee Cunniffe and company understand these characters in a way they desperately need. I could not be more excited to see where Runaways goes next, both in terms of plot and execution. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 5 out of 5

As with most issues of Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, this installment once again delivers a somewhat incomprehensible compilation of action sequences and snarky remarks from the various characters, which feels much more like filler than anything that is deserving of its own storyline. The stand out of the experience is that we do get some history and backstory in regards to the Crimson Dawn and various other crime syndicates around the time of the Clone Wars, which either helps fill in the gaps for readers unfamiliar with those events or serves as a refresher regarding the importance of these factions, which includes unexpected appearances from fan-favorite characters. Without this refresher, however, the book mostly feels like it’s helping set the stage for something that could potentially be more fascinating, while also merely being wheel spinning as we fail to connect with the book’s protagonists. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 2 out of 5

Thor & Loki: Double Trouble is ending on a high note as this might be the funniest issue so far. Once again, the storytelling here isn’t anything that will stick with you for years to come, but it’s an excellent comic for younger audiences. As a whole, this series has been a thorough joy to read with every installment and has been somewhat of a breath of fresh air—especially within Marvel’s larger catalog of current books. If you’re looking for a series to pick up and ready with someone young in your life, Thor & Loki: Double Trouble is a fantastic and fun entry point to the medium. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Kyle Higgins and Mat Groom’s series spins its wheels getting to the big finale of The Trials of Ultraman but in its quiet moments really takes the title of this volume to heart. While many expect punching and monsters from the series, we’re seemingly getting a lot of that next month, Higgins and Groom are more interested in introspection for the title hero and that stuff works (the political in-fighting and larger “plot” less so). Artist Francesco Manna continues to do great work with the book, especially the actual monster designs. The ideas in this series are fun but there’s not enough time to dig into all of them and satisfy the thirst of kaiju punching too. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3 out of 5

The addition of Diet Man-Thing and a convenient prologue to evoke the concept of “multiple discovery” appears to be gilding the lily on X-Force’s ongoing involvement with the Republic of Terra Verde. That sub-plot has proven to be a particularly rewarding vein for the series in the past, but this new, unseen antagonist for X-Force reads as forced in an installment that is not particularly engrossing following another horrifying dispatchment of animal life in its opening pages. Almost every sequence reads as a slight modification on something X-Force readers have seen in the past couple of years, though, and each notable addition in X-Force #21 is something of a downgrade. The inclusion of Man-Thing variants serves largely as a wink-and-nod to remind readers this is a Marvel superhero comic. Throughout three instances of gun violence, it’s an NYPD officer rather than a trusted politician with a dear friend who shows superhuman trigger control in a choice that makes the series’ worldview seem significantly less coherent. Even the final data page lacks the quality of verisimilitude that usually makes X-Force’s pages some of the X-line’s best—that sentiment can be shared about this entire issue, besides Cassara and Gill’s draftsmanship. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

A new team of mutant superheroes leaves Krakoa for New York City in X-Men #1 from writer Gerry Duggan, artist Pepe Larraz, colorist Marte Gracia, and letterer Clayton Cowles. This move from Krakoa to New York symbolizes the new series’ desire to re-establish the X-Men as a superhero team and part of the Marvel Universe’s superhero community, providing readers with more traditional stories than the past two years’ inclination towards high concept sci-fi adventures. X-Men #1 succeeds in achieving that goal, but it all feels somewhat juvenile when compared to what preceded it. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #1

Cullen Bunn and Jonas Scharf continue their horror-thriller series, diving much further into the characters of the Chimera. Much like the premiere issue, the true strength of the issue lies in its flashback, as we witness these demi-god like beings use their newfound abilities to terrifyingly rip a town apart. I honestly wish the whole story was depicted in this art style used for the flashback sequences but I digress. The series continues to remain a solid one with decent enough characterization, it’s just lacking some oomph to really set it apart from the crowd when it comes to some of the modern day events and characters that we’re following. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3 out of 5

As Occupied Territory draws to a close, I’m left anticipating more Mullins story. The expansion of Beasts of Burden lore (in both time and space) combined with an incredibly endearing new lead reminds readers how much narrative potential this collection of dogs contains. Mullins’ introduction to the supernatural also serves as an excellent introduction to the series and Occupied Territory #4 is a case study as to why that is. The conflicts, escalating with increasingly terrifying figures from Japanese folklore, are ultimately grounded in the real world and their resolutions are unexpected and entirely earned. There’s still plenty of excitement, but Dworkin draws attention to the complexities of the modern world, refusing to give readers a simple punch up ending. Mullins still has ample opportunities to prove his bravery and serves as a thesis for the unique bravery of dogs. Confronted by death or insurmountable odds, Mullins’ loyalty and courage are unwavering. Scared, overpowered, and alone, he still knows exactly what sort of being he is and pushes on anyway. It’s enough to make you cry, especially with Dewey’s outstanding depiction of dogs in their natural form combined with recognizable expressions. Beasts of Burden serves as a love letter to supernatural stories, comic books, and canine companions, and it is an endearing testament to the power of all three. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

Bettie Page: Curse of The Banshee #2 opens with a big twist, then spends the majority of its issue spinning its wheels before tossing out one more surprise on the final page. It’s still hard to see who this book is for. — Connor Casey

Rating: 2 out of 5

The premiere issue of this Scout series does an excellent job of needling the reader along, dropping just enough information in revealing the world of these supernatural gumshoes to hook readers in. While the story by Palicki is interesting enough, the art work seems as though it could have used another go-over when it comes to some of the detail. Cavalcanti’s art does well when it comes to facial expressions, and the black and white aesthetic does work for the overall story, but there are a few glaring mistakes that could have been fixed. Another solid opening for Scout with this one. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Scooby gang returns from their first jaunt into the multiverse to deal with the aftereffects, mainly in the form of listlessness and existential dread. Jeremy Lambert scripts, with guest artist Carmelo Zagaria providing linework. Zagaria’s characters are less stylized than whatever readers have seen in past issues. Still, his line lines look like pen sketches that, in places, seem unfinished and ill-proportioned. There’s something that resonates in Giles voicing the sense of helplessness in the face of a coming, potentially world-ending disaster. After learning that infinite renditions of herself exist, Buffy’s identity crisis is as believable a reaction to peering into the multiverse as one’s likely to find in a genre comic. Yet the script devotes too much of Buffy the Vampire’s Slayer #27 to watching the characters talk in circles about a villain with barely any presence. Combined with the scattered story threads, it creates the sense that there is somehow too much going on and nothing happening in this series. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2 out of 5

The final installment of Chained to the Grave largely feels like a missed opportunity as many excellent, individual panels and thematically interesting ideas are lost in translation. The final showdown outside a small chapel is pure chaos in its depiction. New characters appear and many previously introduced individuals are difficult to recognize. Readers are left to trace a handful of easily identified leads through the confusion, which makes each subsequent twist or turn less satisfying. While single panels of flying gators create an impressive impact, they also fail to connect with juxtaposed panels in a clear fashion. After conflict is resolved, there are a handful of strong moments meditating on death and change, but only a handful of these denouements are coherent as many others recall information that was poorly introduced, if it was introduced at all. There is a compelling version of Chained to the Grave to be imagined, but it’s simply not what appeared on the page. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Clans of Belari does a pretty great job of setting up its world in this opening issue. Essentially, this sci-fi comic centers around characters in a highly class-focused universe. All of the denizens within this world are split up into different classes, so much so that they’re not even allowed to really interact with one another. While I really like that premise, what I’m struggling to click with so far is the characters. At this point, the main two protagonists at the center of Clans of Belari are rather unlikable and seem to only speak when it serves the purpose of further explaining how this world works. I’m hoping that the characters will get better in time though as this series does seem to have some promise. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3 out of 5

Commanders in Crisis is still such an odd beast—one that gets so close to thriving in its absolute weirdness, only to make a hard pivot to a safer (but almost more jarring) middle ground. That’s apparent in the series’ tone, which fluctuates between earnest platitudes and out-of-place F-bombs, and introduces yet another twist that feels undercooked in the grand scheme of things. It’s also apparent in the art, which either captures the series’ established aesthetic energy or comes across as a bizarre bit of cheesecake. It’s still safe to say that Commanders in Crisis isn’t like anything else currently publishing today—but as the series nears its climax, I’m still not completely sure exactly what the series wants to be. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #2

The biggest problem with Deep Beyond is that there are a lot of interesting elements and few of them seem to line up in any given issue. Deep Beyond #6 marks the halfway point of this comic and while there are some interesting twists and reveals about both the humans and “alien” creatures and their worlds (and it almost feels like a genre switch at this point), the connections continue to just miss. In a lot of ways it feels like there are two different comics being thrown together into one and neither really understands what it wants to be. We also don’t really get much in the way of character development. Turns out Paul is more important than he first seemed, but six issues in that seems a little late to be revealing that. The art continues to be about average, but it’s also the best aspect of the book. There’s a bit more to work with this issue than previously, but it unfortunately doesn’t improve things much. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Reading the solicit for Fight Girls #1 is like reading the plot synopsis for a porn parody, informative, but barely relevant. Fight Girls is a comic book where Frank Cho draws barely clad women in athletic poses before they are murdered. Cho has proven there is an audience for this sort of thing, but any reader who’s not arriving for cheesecake artwork and death will be sorely disappointed. The plot, as it exists, functions purely as an excuse to place ten women in bath suits so they can murder one another or be eaten by dinosaurs when not posing. Cho utilizes a live broadcast to impose announcers and dialogue over an entire issue of action, but those text balloons prove gratuitous as they primarily explain what is already occurring on the page. Don’t expect any genuine intrigue or description of these circumstances. Ultimately, a sketchbook might have been a more efficient method for delivering everything Fight Girls has to offer. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Geoff Johns & Gary Frank’s post-apocalyptic tale does its best impression of George Miller’s Mad Max this time around, and though it’s probably the best issue of the series so far it’s still entirely derivative of what came before it. The strongest thing in this entire series is Frank’s artwork, and his dedication to creating smooth and contained action beats without wasting panel space is on full display here. Johns’ also manages to keep things interesting with the larger plot, ironically by not being forthcoming with details and instead letting them fester in the mind of the reader. On the whole it feels like reading Fury Road, which is a testament to Frank’s pacing. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Good Asian #3 continues to delve into the complicated compromises Chinese-Americans often had to make to survive in 1930s America. Everyone from Edison Hark to his new informant/potential love interest Lucy Fan to the various Chinatown residents the duo interact with compromise in some way, often with ethically dubious results. It makes for a compelling noir detective story and a fantastic history lesson that shows just how far some people had to go to survive in a so-called “Land of Opportunity.” This is a great comic and has become one of 2021’s must-read books. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 5 out of 5

Hellboy fights Disney’s Haunted Mansion (basically) in this new story from Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden in a tale that can best be described as “classic Hellboy.” Artist Shawn McManus gets the opportunity to put his own spin on Big Red and the paranormal corners of his world to great success, bringing a unique portrayal of the title character. “Secret of Chesbro House,” though not feeling derivative of previous haunted house stories in this world, does feel familiar but the unbeatable duo of Mignola and Golden make this a more rewarding read than others in the line. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 4 out of 5

Inkblot #10 follows through this week with a daring mission, a brave girl, and a familiar lost cat. As another heroine discovers her ties to our mischievous cat, fans are put on a rollercoaster as they watch two foes ally with one another under the most terrifying of circumstances. And at this point, well – this sort of story should be familiar if you’ve read one or two issues of Inkblot. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

The most disappointing thing about Jenny Zero # 3 is that it means the miniseries is almost over. This penultimate (hopefully, for now) issue sees Jenny going on an adventure to hone in her giant monster skills, only for that to set up a formidable conflict with the authorities. Dave Dwonch and Brockton McKinney’s narrative is spunky, but filled with heart, and it sets up a conflict that feels earned in such a short stretch of time. Magenta King’s art and Dam’s colors give it all an optimistic punk-rock flair, making even the smallest-scale sequences feel so alive. I have no idea how Jenny Zero is going to end next issue, but I know that I’m definitely enjoying the ride. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #3

Karmen comes through with its greatest issue yet this week, and its ending will leave fans breathless as they sort though this finale’s emotional highs. As our heroine comes to terms with her lot in life, all of our burning questions about Karmen are answered as life finds a way to right itself. The fallout of the issue tumbles to a beautiful end of complicated emotions, second chances, and ethereal artwork. And in its final moments, Karmen proves exactly why this series is a contender for Image’s top series. — Megan Peters

Rating: 5 out of 5

Jumping between present day and the days the invasion of otherworldly creatures began two years ago, we catch glimpses of our hero’s journey to being the sole resistance against both the beasts and the religious zealots. This fractured storyline could have easily caused confusion, but both branches of this timeline manage to merely give enough story necessary to explain the situation while not inundating us with exposition, a challenge similar fare often falls short of accomplishing. We both know exactly what is going on and still very little, making The Locust an unexpected post-apocalyptic horror story that’s building up some compelling mythology for itself that we can’t wait to learn more about. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

Magic: The Gathering #4 finds itself heavy on the exposition as it explains the entire conspiracy that’s been brewing Ravnica over the course of the series. It’s a little disappointing to have spent so much time with our three Planeswalkers investigating what’s happening, only to have a fourth Planewalker appear in this issue for the sole purpose of handing them the answers. Jed McKay and Ig Guara set the information dump in dreams, allowing Guara to play with location and environment to help keep things interesting. Unfortunately, the art is still light on details and backgrounds, making it often feel empty. The issue touches on worthwhile themes as the conspiracy could pit the Guilds against the guildless, an almost literal representation of the haves and the have-nots, but that’s not enough to excuse such poor pacing and dull means of revelation. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Mamo #1 by Sas Milledge is a stunningly gorgeous comic that uses a focus on its two lead characters to tease the magic lurking on the outskirts of its world, hiding just beneath the surface. The new modern fantasy comic, published by BOOM! Studios under its BOOM! Box imprint is set in the small town of Haresden, where magic has run amok after the death of its resident witch. A young teen named Jo approaches the witch’s granddaughter Orla for aid in curing her mother’s mysterious ailment. While Jo quickly learns that Orla isn’t at all like what the stories say about witches, Orla struggles with the legacy of her grandmother and her fraught relationship with the town of Haresden itself. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 5 out of 5

In a matter of weeks, Masters of the Universe returns to Netflix picking up the storylines of He-Man and the other heroes of Eternia nearly 40 years later. Here, we get a prequel comic that sets the stage for the Netflix show. There are a few fun cameos throughout, and that’s really the saving grace of the debut of this mini-series. The plot is a perfect fit for the characters at hand as they attempt to solve the mystery of a time-traveling poisonous, but it begins to crumble under the weight of exposition. A little too much time is spent on the world-building here and not enough on character and story. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3 out of 5

The general Peter Pan story has been adapted countless times since J. M. Barrie’s original 1904 play and Never Never #1, written by Mark McCann, is just the latest, albeit one with a horror spin. Set in more contemporary times, this story follows Winter Darling, who runs away with Petros to the Never, Never rather than stay home and deal with the stress of her mother’s health issues. However, the Never, Never and Petros are not what they are presented to be and it’s soon revealed that Petros is a monster and she is a sacrifice. The Lost Boys are all twisted, vaguely immortal cannibals that Petros controls and Winter finds herself fleeing them, aided by a native. On the surface level, all the usual Peter Pan characters are there in this very adult, very bloody adaptation (and Phil Buckenham’s art with Agnese Pozza’s colors work very well to bring that to life), but you don’t have to stray far from the surface to start being a bit uncomfortable. Yes, this is meant to be shocking, but some of the elements feel a bit overly too misogynistic with too many references to women as slurs. There are a few too many not exactly subtle suggestions from the Lost Boys about sexual violence in addition to wanting to actual eat Winter, who despite seemingly intended to be presented as capable feels very much like a passenger or without much in the way of agency. For a first issue it’s too early to see how the racial aspects ill shake out, but one can’t help but already be concerned that the series will have a heavy hand as it attempts to gore up a classic. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #4

Nocterra #5 is the issue that gives Tony Daniel the least to do in terms of action, but gives him room to work on smaller, more intimate character moments. While that isn’t always Daniel’s strongest suit, he acquits himself very nicely in this issue, giving a variety and energy to the layouts on a very “talky” issue from Scott Snyder, who is clearly setting up a big battle in the coming issues. — Russ Burlingame

Rating: 4 out of 5

This is a really great opening issue for Ordinary Gods. It does an excellent job of not only setting up this world, but slowly introducing you to its characters before then tearing everything down in the book’s final moments. It also features some great pacing and doesn’t linger on one moment for too long. This is true both in telling the back story of this series and establishing the protagonist as someone you want to learn more about. In a way that many other first issues typically leave me feeling mixed, Ordinary Gods already has me eagerly awaiting its next installment. This is one to have on your radar. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Out of Body is starting to come together a bit more in this second issue but I’m still struggling to see how both ongoing plotlines are going to end up coming together. One side of the story is still focused on finding out how the protagonist, Dan Collins, got into a coma in the first place. The other then centers around a figure that is essentially looking to consume his soul. At this point in time, the second plotline still feels out of place in comparison to the rest of the story. There was also one sequence in this issue that was rather uncomfortable to see play out. I question why it was included in the first place. It seems as though the author, Pete Milligan, could have made the same point in a completely different manner. Out of Body isn’t bad, but I’m still not feeling pulled into this world or characters as much as I would like. — Logan Moore

Rating: 2 out of 5

Steve Skroce will always deliver heavily detailed bizarre pieces of artwork and I’ll never resist looking at his comics for that reason. And, to that end, Post Americana #6 provides some genuinely funny standout panels—moments that rise above the slog that is this ongoing story filled with barely sketched characters and satirical concepts that outlive their welcome within 20 pages. Post Americana #6 changes its status quo radically, but it’s difficult to care about those changes as so little has been invested in what is changed. Instead, the focus remains on the unlivable and unredeemable American landscape in a post-apocalypse. There’s nothing in the way of hope or even nihilism to provide meaning to these proceedings; it’s simply one moment of cruelty or humor after another never building to anything greater. As an anthology this approach could have been made more accessible, but 6 issues of this is exhausting, even from a draftsman as skilled as Skroce. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Rabid World #2 continues to retrace the steps of other zombie properties (World War Z seems to be the main inspiration). But while it’s lacking in originality, its execution in familiar zombie tropes is spot-on. — Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’m always a sucker for the various monochromatic offshoots of Batman: Black and White, especially the ones that utilize their specific color palette to the story’s fullest advantage. I wasn’t necessarily sure if that was the case for most of the first issue of Red Sonja: Black, White, and Red, which presents a trio of anthology stories regarding the awesome warrior heroine. The first two chapters—Mark Russell and Bob Q’s “The Sorcerer or Shangara!” and Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs’ “The Hunted”—provide charming and well-executed stories of Sonja facing various challenges, but they felt like run-of-the-mill, standard installments that just hadn’t been fully colored in yet. The issue’s final story, Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey’s “Seeing Red”, changed my read on the issue for the better, with some genuinely creative implementations of the red accents. Overall, Red Sonja: Black, White, and Red # 1 is slightly more of a mixed bag than other anthologies in the same sphere—but it’s still an enjoyable one. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The finale of Snake Eyes: Dead Game has one thing going for it and it’s that it is, in fact, the finale. Yes, we have a final battle, one that sees Snake Eyes using Mjolnir, but like the issues before it, we also have an absolute jumble to sort through. The book has 21 different people credited as doing inks and, yes, it’s noticeable. There’s narration that it isn’t clear who is behind it, it is hard to tell at times who is talking even in the action. What is supposed to feel like some form of gladatorial combat just doesn’t really hit right and, to put it bluntly, the whole story kind of comes out feeling like a meeting that could have been an email. There’s even a quip about Snake Eyes’ butt. Overall, it’s a bland and lackluster issue but when taken into context over the series—especially considering how promising the debut issue was a year ago—this is just disappointing. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 1 out of 5

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Other Publishers #5

Comic Reviews - No Ghosts in Hiroshima #1
(Photo: Scout Comics)

Star Trek: Year Five #22 kicks off the series’ final story and welcomes back “showrunners” Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly as writers. Stephen Thompson, who kicked off the series in dramatic fashion, returns on art and delivers a solid start to this finale. As the Enterprise crew return home, Kirk has to reckon with returning to a mundane life on Earth. At the same time, he chooses not to deal with the family he could have in a two-page spread that gives the depiction of Kirk as a distant father more emotional weight than even The Wrath of Khan could achieve. Speaking of Star Trek II, Lanzing and Kelly build a bridge between the Kirk and Spock of the television series and those of the films. Spock retreats into his Vulcan side, setting him on the path towards the complete emotional purge he was attempting in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Meanwhile, Kirk’s reckoning with mundanity marks the first steps on a character that will conclude with his proclamation of feeling young again after Spock’s death. It isn’t mere maneuvering, though, as Kelly and Thompson are wise enough to fill in the blanks and see these two paths as incompatible, setting two friends in opposing directions. The conversation between Kirk and Spock on this matter carries the pitch-perfect patter of Shatner and Nimoy at their best, and Thompson drives it home with three silent panels of Kirk alone on the Enterprise bride. Star Trek: Year Five has been an impressive bit of storytelling in the Star Trek universe, and its ending could be its best story yet. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Anakin and Padmé prove themselves to be one resourceful team, as they have to make their way out of a tight situation in hopes of not only surviving, but also reducing their hosts. Written by Katie Cook and illustrated by Cara McGee, they capture the whimsy and charm of seeing these characters in love as they demonstrate just how competent they are, in any situation, as they’re also adorably rendered, which is sure to win over fans of this love story. The backup storyline largely featured characters from The High Republic running and shouting jargon that will be entirely unfamiliar to anyone not keeping up with that storytelling initiative for the franchise, and, while there’s nothing inherently poor about the story, it ultimately just feels like an excuse to tell a story set in that period which features glimpses of the villainous Nihil. The art from Nick Brokenshire manages to be delightful, though the whole concept feels like it could have been set in any era, with any characters, and it would have been just as formulaic. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

Tart: Toxic Origins pushes forward with a lovely preface of a world where heaven and hell refuse to meet. Overseen by Scout, this series promises to follow a group of women in the afterlife who will gamble salvation if it means stopping demons from overtaking what good can be found on Earth. This first issue gives readers a taste of the coming mission, and Tart promises to be a sweet read if not just a wee bit sour. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

Despite its best efforts, Transformers: Escape hasn’t resonated with me in ways that I think it could’ve—and that’s proving to be true right down to its finale. The first half consists of a massive, busy battle that genuinely feels like a couple of children going buckwild with their action figures, but without the heart or sense of scope that it could have. The second half of the issue then wraps everything up in a sensible—but not incredibly rewarding—bow. The art from Beth McGuire-Smith and colors from Priscilla Tramontano do just enough to stop the issue from completely falling flat, but Escape really just reads as cluttered and underwhelming. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 2 out of 5

Worst Dudes keeps up the crude, lewd humor and cartoonish violence rolling with issue #2. This really feels like an Adult Swim cartoon that accidentally wound up as a comic, right down to its impressively detailed yet equally insane art style. If you get past the first page without wincing you’re right at home. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

The New Day’s rise in the WWE has been one of the most naturally compelling stories in WWE in the last decade. And thanks to BOOM! Studios and writers Evan Narcisse and Austin Walker, comic fans can relive Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods’ origin stories leading up to the formation of The New Day. If you know the background story (or have at least listened to New Day’s podcast) you know that not all of the details match up with what really happened, but the book still manages to capture the heart of why the three work so well together and what drives them to succeed. It’s worth a read whether you’re a WWE fan or not. — Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

Wynd #8 turns out to be another lore-heavy issue, this time explaining the backstory behind the Faeries and Vampyres. We’re also introduced to a new character who has an interesting dynamic with Yorik and figure out what the Vampyres’ master plan will be. This feels like we’re gearing up for another intense issue soon. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

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