Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 9/29/2021 – ComicBook.com

By Chase Magnett – September 29, 2021 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 Inferno #1, Deathstroke Inc. #1, and DIE #20.
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.
While I don’t love the Warworld of it all, one of the things that Phillip K. Johnson has done exceptionally well with Action Comics is writing Superman with heart and compassion and Action Comics #1035 is a fine example of that. The issue is mostly cleanup with Superman realizing he has to go to Warworld and then making the arrangements to do so. It’s not especially groundbreaking. But it is beautiful, to see Superman reassure those he loves while also being both optimtic and realistic about the challenge ahead. Whatever is next for Superman after this, the issue feels reassuring and hopeful. The art throughout is also solid and even better, the supporting story is fresh and intriguing. Overall, it’s a really solid issue. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
After three issues of nihilistic meandering, Batman: Reptilian seems to get to the root of its unconventional mystery, with a twist that will raise eyebrows more than satisfy. As Batman finally crosses paths with Killer Croc, the nature of the mysterious animalistic attacks begins to reveal itself, in a way that tries to reimagine Croc’s origin story, but instead comes across as bleak and borderline offensive. That bleak feeling carries over to the fight being teed up in the final two issues, although it’s unclear if that’s because it only adds more tragedy to the carnage and violence that proceeded it, or because Garth Ennis’ script and Liam Sharp’s art just feel underwhelming. There is a small nugget of morbid curiosity that will make me see Batman: Reptilian through to the end, but I’m not being drawn in by much else beyond that. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 2 out of 5
Gene Luen Yang’s run on Batman/Superman might have been brief, but it was certainly memorable, and is one of the most inventive and creative runs on the series to this point. Batman/Superman exhibited a joy and passion for the classic interpretations of the World’s Finest while still exploring their dynamic and roles in the DC Universe in a fresh and modern way. Jumping through universes and realities isn’t new for the DC Universe, but Yang, artist Paul Pelletier, colorist Hi-Fi, and inker Keith Champagne come together to deliver a fun and unique vision of reality warping that stands apart, with Saida Temofonte’s amazing Letters leaping off the page. I’ve truly enjoyed this run on DC’s iconic duo, and it’s sad to say goodbye so soon. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4 out of 5
This crossover leans heavily on the second half of the title in returning to Fables lore. There are an abundance of Batman characters seen throughout the debut, but they are primarily arranged to establish setting and plot. The style and mystery of the comic is pure Fables, however. That is a testament to Brian Level who, when given the unenviable task of following Mark Buckingham, manages to capture much of the style that made Fables exactly what it was without ever losing sense of himself. Level’s experimentation with layouts pulls upon that history with a number of interesting compositions enhancing the story within those borders and dark, moody forms filling the panels. This style doesn’t adapt as well for the superhero elements with Batman possessing a detail-burdened costume, but both the unknown antagonists and Bigby Wolf recapture a tone that has been absent from comics for the better portion of a decade. That’s a good thing because this is an issue that is fueled almost entirely by tone and nostalgia. The mystery is interesting, but exists primarily as a mystery box lacking any clear stakes and both of the titular leads depend upon reader’s outside knowledge for any definition. That may improve quickly in issue #2, but for now Batman vs. Bigby! is a well drawn return for fans still seeking a little more Fables material. — Chase Magnet
Rating: 3 out of 5
Writer Brian Michael Bendis and Artist Alex Maleev finally bring a straightforward narrative in the latest issue of Checkmate, and a major development for DC canon will likely have some fans groaning. Everything you want from a Bendis-Maleev mystery is present, the snappy dialogue, the tight action sequences, and the unique design elements; but it continues to feel hollow like the lack of details being purposefully kept are not for the reader to follow the clues and figure it all out but to make sure they keep buying. Checkmate #4 is an improvement on prior entries in the new series but so far this series has done little to really make a dent on the history of these creator’s collaborations. — Spencer Perry
Rating: 3 out of 5
Deathstroke Inc. #1 introduces readers to a new status quo following Christopher Priest’s critically-acclaimed, 50-issue run and quickly moves to distinguish itself. Having acknowledged his sprawling family and the harm he inflicted upon them all, Deathstroke is seeking an opportunity to prove himself a hero with the mysterious new organization T.R.U.S.T. to put down a variety of strange threats. Now he finds himself partnered with Black Canary seeking conflicts less likely to kill his surviving children. The result is a violent ride filled with gonzo energy and absurd encounters that delivers on all of Deathstroke’s “cool factor,” while still suggesting some layers of death beneath the many colorful explosions. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Detective Comics #1043 introduces a new threat or faction that makes their move in the middle of the “Fear State” event. A group of heavily armed and organized mercenaries takes aim at Mayor Nakano within City Hall. Both the Magistrate and Batman are in pursuit, but the issue ends with a tease that we could be returning to the just-finished Vile plotline. To be honest, this was a frantic and disjointed issue. Both the lead story and the b-story building towards Task Force Z are deliberately rushed to try to show how disorganized and dangerous everything feels. However, the combination just makes the comic seem very manic with not enough time to let the story breath. A bit of a let down from previous issues. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 2 out of 5
Generally, I like Stephanie Phillips’ take on Harley. She leans into the psychology of things in a way that differs from most previous takes on the character and that holds true in this week’s Harley Quinn #7 but that doesn’t work quite as well as it should when jammed up against the “Fear State” event. Harley, this issue, seems to be a little all over the place and inconsistent while “Fear State” going down in Gotham feels almost like it has been forced into things. The result is a story that doesn’t feel like it fits very well both in the overall Harley canon but also what’s going on in the broader world of Batman as well. That said, Riley Rossmo’s art is absolutely brilliant in this issue as Harley communes with nature. It’s oddly perfect. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 3 out of 5
Icon and Rocket quickly go from street-level crime fighters to a pair of heroes managing to disrupt the world’s economy. Now, the titular heroes are working on single-handedly destroying the opioid trade which, as it turns out, has a disastrous effect on the whole system. The story here takes a hard pivot into incredibly real-world issues and the ongoing opioid crisis and the effect is has on the various societal classes around the world. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Sometimes the journey is better than the destination, while other times it’s exactly the opposite, and for Justice League, it’s the latter that is true. “The United Order” story hasn’t really found its footing up to this point, but it seems we’ve arrived at a destination that makes the journey, potholes and all, ultimately worthwhile. Brian Michael Bendis delivers the confrontation we’ve been waiting for in Justice League #68, and the standoff between the United Order and the Justice League is glorious, both in terms of storytelling and stylish visuals by Scott Godlewski and Gabe Eltaeb. The future throw down should be suitably epic, but then Checkmate comes in and shakes everything up, building the bridge for what should be a fantastic crossover that feels organic because of who is involved. That all leads to another stellar entry in Ram V, Sumit Kumar, Nick Filardi, and Rob Leigh’s “Justice League Dark,” which is one of the best ongoing stories DC is putting out at the moment. Full of twists, action, and lovely artwork, this is a one two punch no DC fan should miss. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The first half of the Sandman/Locke & Key crossover mainly belonged to the world of Locke & Key as it set the stage for what was to come. Its second half is more firmly rooted in The Sandman Universe, foreshadowing early Sandman storylines and adding new elements to its mythology. Joe Hill’s dialogue revels in poetry and literacy that defines The Sandman. Gabriel Rodriguez’s artwork bridges the gap between the two worlds, being unmistakable Locke & Key but not out of place within Sandman’s library. The issue hinges on Rodriguez’s artistic skill and versatility, with subtle cartooning, stygian visions of Hell, and depictions of Lucifer in all his glorious menace. He brings devilry, delight, and fear to life in his characters’ faces as all of the build-up from the first issue finally pays off. The tale’s conclusion is wonderfully poetic and conceptual in a suitably Sandman manner that manages to incorporate the artifice of Locke & Key’s world cleverly. This issue makes Hell & Gone a poignant end to the tale of Chamberlin Locke’s family. It doubles as a wonderfully enjoyable addition for Sandman completists to enjoy, or a first taste of what’s ahead for those Locke & Key fans discovering that universe for the first time. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 5 out of 5
As Mister Miracle and his companions approach their source material they capture some of its charm in splash panels filled with its same power and charm. Many of the splash panels throughout Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom #5 are filled with Kirby krackle and various other effects channeling cosmic energy into battles personal and global, alike. Orion directs some of that energy with callbacks to battles unrecognized by Shilo or the reader – promising sprawling conflicts. It doesn’t do much to alter the shape of this conflict though. The battle between Shilo and N’vir is still undefined as the two prepare for a seemingly final encounter, and they collide in the midst of space. There may still be some tricks hidden within this story, but it will require quite a few of them to make this narrative lock into the grander Fourth World Saga and any greater meaning. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Just as Robin began to feel comfortable in its setting, it reminds readers of the stakes and style of this tournament—the first two rounds of which proceed in quick order. A montage spread offers readers a reminder of how impactful each violent blow can be when translated through Melnikov’s eye and hand. It’s the second round that’s genuinely impressive, even as it distills a battle between Robin and Tengu into a single page of action. Each panel is used efficiently and delivers a gripping read that’s over far more quickly than the experience suggests. It offers a clear sense of Robin’s style while ratcheting up the tension for each of the 8 remaining fighters through the sudden viciousness on display. Both action and intrigue are on full display here, providing readers little room to breathe until they are ready to watch what will unfold next… only to realize that it will be a long wait for next month’s issue. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Brainiac arrives in full force in the pages of Superman ’78 #2, as does Lex Luthor. As the comic book sequel to Donner’s original Superman: The Movie expands upon its villains, the humanity of its heroes becomes obviously evident. Whether it’s Lois Land running down sources or Lex Luthor grousing about his lowered status, each character is immediately recognizable. None more so than Superman himself who acts with humility when confronting hubris and selflessness when challenged by the greatest threat of his career. There’s no doubt about the threat (or humanity of those facing it) in Torres’ art. The mechanical forms of Brainiac on Earth and in space loom large in their skeletal shapes, but it’s the simple form of his primary shape that gives readers pause, especially when set side-by-side with Luthor’s combined power and oafishness. As the stakes increase, Superman functions as a source of stability – unwilling to bend when facing such consequential new threats (and old) threats. Whatever plans this iteration of Brainiac may have for Earth, it’s cleat Superman lies at their center and that the humans he calls family will play a central role. Fans will recognize the rhythms of Donner’s films and the seemingly unlimited potential of whatever is set to come next. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Superman: Son of Kal-El #3 is absolutely everything that a Superman comic should be even if the Superman at the center of it isn’t Clark Kent/Kal-El. The issue sees Jonathan Kent continue to carve out his place as his father’s successor as Superman’s time before leaving Earth grows short and a huge part of that is the continuation of digging into the truth about the nation of Gamorra and its refugees. In Tom Taylor’s hands, Jonathan Kent is a hero who stands up for those who perhaps do not have the power to stand for themselves and even take on the consequences. It is the definition of using one’s privilege and it’s very well done. This is balanced by the heart and humanity of the Kent family’s story and how Jonathan struggles with what he believes will be the final time he sees his father. All of this is wrapped up with the Gamorran plot that pushes forward at a good pace, a reminder that a hero’s work is never done. Excellent story, excellent art, excellent literally everything. It’s a fantastic issue. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 5 out of 5
The fourth issue of this unique anthology story is the series’ best so far, managing to create some truly touching stories that revolve around the daughter of Themyscara. Each of the stories here are strong in their own unique ways, but perhaps the best is the first from Andrew Constant and Nicola Scott, which perfectly captures the spirit of Wonder Woman. I’d be hard pressed to think if the series will be able to overcome this latest installment, but I’m looking forward to seeing if it can. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 5 out of 5
I’m finding myself less interested in Amazing Fantasy as this series continues onward. Although what this story has built to isn’t bad, much of the potential that I thought it had at the outset has started to dwindle. Much of this is because the major conflict that has started to emerge is rather straightforward. Despite all of this, there still seems to be plenty of surprises left in store with the remaining issues of Amazing Fantasy. As such, I’ll continue to hope that the series leaves me feeling more excited than I am at the moment. — Logan Moore
Rating: 3 out of 5
The Amazing Spider-Man delivers issue #74 this week and the end of the Kindred saga. As Peter faces the true identity of Kindred head-on, lies and truths come out courtesy of Norman Osborne and Mephisto himself. A convoluted back-and-forth brings fans to a so-so ending that brings a thin conclusion to Peter’s suffering at Kindred’s hands. But in its final moments, the joyful conclusion will leave readers uplifted as Peter dons his suit and restores the gentle glory of Spider-Man. — Megan Peters
Rating: 3 out of 5
While I don’t love the “Infinity Score” storyline, I am loving the overall flow of Black Cat #10. The issue sees Felicia continuing to gather the embodiments of the Infinity Stones but she’s confronted by an unexpected person who has entered the fray for his own purposes – Nighthawk. Fury is on her trail as well and it’s enough that Felicia is starting to hit her wall. There’s a great balance between internal monologue and heavy action all of it not only deepening Felicia’s story but also serving the overall plot of the story arc. Even if “Infinity Score” isn’t my favorite arc ever, this issue is pulling things together very well. It’s a very well executed issue. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Darkhawk soared in its debut, but issue #2 might just be even better. As with the book’s debut, Darkhawk #2’s strongest points are the relationships Connor is constantly navigating his own internal processing of how MS will affect his life. Kyle Higgins provides compelling reasoning on both sides of the slowly evolving conflict between Connor and Derek, but despite that growing chasm the empathy for Connor that Derek has never truly leaves. It’s a delicate balance, but one the book does with ease, and the issue also excels at delivering heart-wrenching moments that further connect you to the entire cast. There’s not a heavy dose of action here, but when the punches do fly artist Juanan Ramirez and colorist Erick Arciniega make sure it lands with all the sizzle that costume demands, and seriously, Darkhawk has never looked cooler. This issue is a win across the board, and while the artistic style doesn’t land in every single panel for me, it’s a small nitpick for an otherwise fantastic issue. If you’re a Darkhawk fan, this really is the reinvention you’ve been waiting for. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Darkhold: Alpha is a crossover introduction that talks a big game – presenting apocalyptic terrors, nightmarishly transformed heroes, and seemingly unlimited visual potential. The execution, though, is standard in form and function. Like too many similar events from the past decade there is roughly a dozen pages dedicated to explaining the threat in exposition and generic backgrounds littered with destruction. Then there are another dozen introducing a colorful array of recognizable character, before the premise of future issues is introduced at the end. This runs contrary to the madness that is constantly referred to throughout the issue; it evokes a sense that panels and figures should threaten the reader’s sense of reality on the page. Everything on the page is mundane, though. In facts, it’s nothing Marvel Comics readers haven’t read many, many times before. Perhaps there’s opportunity in the various, forthcoming one-shots to play upon this potent premise, but The Darkhold: Alpha is simply another example of something we’ve all read before. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
If the first seven chapters of “Extreme Carnage” didn’t tip you off, there’s nothing of value to be found in its final installment, Extreme Carnage: Omega #1, beyond a few more updates to symbiotes who barely qualify as characters. It’s easy to dismiss the likes of Lasher, but even individuals like Flash Thompson barely register on the page here – they issue commands and explain turns in the plot, but there’s nothing resembling a coherent human being beneath the dialogue. The action is equally thin. A massacre is displayed in more than a dozen pages of generic spectators and Guardsmen shredded with bright red spots covering the disconnections. Every panel filled with death lacks the creativity required to be anything besides dull, especially given the flat linework and rushed appearances of most characters. The inclusion of Iron Man reads as a shoehorned development, possibly establishing a plot point for the upcoming Venom relaunch, but contributing nothing beyond the ugliest vision of Tony’s black-and-yellow armor ever seen. If you still find yourself considering “Extreme Carnage,” please know that beyond an encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel’s many mediocre symbiotes, there is nothing of value to be found here. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 1 out of 5
Inferno #1 looks to be a powerful ending to Hickman’s time working on the X-Men line, bringing forth all the same attributes that set readers abuzz during his debut. It provides the sense he’s leaving nothing on the table. He’s blessed again with one of modern superhero comics’ best artists as a collaborator. As such, Inferno is shaping up to be as memorable as the miniseries that preceded it. Higher praise is hard to find. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Just when I thought that The Marvels might be running out of a bit of steam, issue #5 has once again reminded me why I’ve enjoyed this series so much up until this point. While this latest book doesn’t jump around very much in the greater timeline and instead just follows up on the events of the last issue, there are more than a few teases included here that begin to reveal what is happening in the grander scheme of things. These teases combined with a final reveal at the issue’s conclusion have me more interested than ever before to see where The Marvels is heading. — Logan Moore
Rating: 4 out of 5
The larger thesis of Saladin Ahmed’s entire run on Miles Morales: Spider-Man, which has quietly become one of the most consistent comics at Marvel, is keeping the “friendly neighborhood” of it all at the forefront. While the larger Amazing Spider-Man title has become nearly inaccessible in recent years, Ahmed’s ability to make Miles relatable, fun, and humble is why this comic continues to be a tremendous read. Artist Carmen Carnero does good work as usual with the material even somehow managing to make the lone guest star hero look better than any particular drawing of Miles. Though ending with a grand promise for its next arc, that new costume really doesn’t compare to the original. — Spencer Perry
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The surprise final issue of Non-Stop Spider-Man goes out of its way to put the wall crawler in the corner and for that writer Joe Kelly has stuck the landing with a book that has largely been hit or miss. Many of the irritating things about the series from the start remain, askew panels and some nonsensical storytelling still hamper the whole piece, but artist Chris Bachalo is, as always, the best at drawing a dynamic Spider-Man. Bachalo has help from two other pencilists, Cory Smith and Gerardo Sandoval, whose work doesn’t stand-out too bad but enough for you to realize it’s not Bachalo. — Spencer Perry
Rating: 3 out of 5
S.W.O.R.D. #8, which sees the series free of its seemingly perennial status as a crossover tie-in, shifts focus to Storm, the newly anointed regent of Arakko. The opening pages set the stage, with Guiu Villanova taking in the fullness of terraformed planet’s rugged grandeur as Al Ewing has Storm wax poetic internally. Together, they create tension as Storm wrestles with an atmosphere that’s not entirely her own, foreshadowing the turmoil she faces in trying to lead the battle-reared mutants of Krakoa’s sister nation. It all leads to a challenge similar to the Crucible established on Krakoa, which feels all too familiar. How many Storm-focused stories have involved Ororo fighting tooth-and-nail, even sans powers, to earn the right to lead? Callisto in the Morlock tunnels? Cyclops for the X-Men? Ewing, surprisingly, doesn’t have much new to add to the template. Coupled with Villanova’s clumsy fight scenes and Fernando Sifeuntes’ flat colors, the issue doesn’t offend, but it does underwhelm. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 3 out of 5
With Vader in pursuit, Luke takes some unexpected tactics to slow the Sith Lord in his quest, while Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca are left to merely witness the Hutts’ pursuit of Han Solo. In their wait, a chance encounter between Leia and Lando delivers insight into how Lando would become so ingrained into the Rebel Alliance, as we saw in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. This issue manages to find a sweet spot when it comes to delivering action-packed intensity with Luke and Vader’s encounters, moving the “War of the Bounty Hunters” event forward, and offering exposition in regards to the legacy characters that helps inform their actions in the original trilogy. One of the most effective exchanges comes from Lando as he tries to fix the Millennium Falcon, as it serves as a reunion for him and L3-37, along with an apology and explanation. Given the controversial explanation of L3-37’s fate in Solo: A Star Wars Story, this explanation might not entirely patch things up for frustrated fans, but any attempt to smooth over those decisions is better than no attempt whatsoever. — Patrick Cavanaugh
Rating: 4 out of 5
The finale of “Revelations” confirms this 3-part story was primarily filling time. It continues to explore Thor’s own anxieties about being king and the many strained relationships in his life, but all of this is expressed in lingering, vague strings of dialogue attached to thematically insignificant action sequences. The opening battle of Thor #17 serves no purpose beyond providing readers with a vibe; call it metal or hardcore, but it adds essentially nothing to the story at hand. That all of this has built to a cliffhanger rather than any sort of actual climax is a tremendous disappointment. One chapter of prologue steeped in character development can be immensely rewarding, but spread across 3 issues with such thin developments is a drag. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 2 out of 5
Winter Guard #2 continues to sow the seeds of mystery and intrigue in a great way. Many of the primary story threads that were introduced in the previous installment continue to get fleshed out in this second issue in ways that have me very much looking forward to where the series is heading. The only primary critique I now have after reading the first two issues of Winter Guard is that it doesn’t do a fantastic job of onboarding new readers who might be unfamiliar with many of these lesser known characters. Despite this, the Winter Guard itself remains quite good and is worth keeping on your radar. — Logan Moore
Rating: 4 out of 5
Solem presents himself as an interesting potential foe for Wolverine and the rest of the X-Man, but a Deux Ex-Emma-Frost stops whatever threat he potentially poses dead in its tracks. It kind of renders the last few issues moot. — Connor Casey
Rating: 2 out of 5
10 Years to Death begins this week with an eerie ghost story laced with murder, anxiety, and dread. When a young boy’s uncle breaks his silence about work, readers are introduced to a world where ghosts are real and murderers have the tables turned on them. The issue ends with a gentle warning of silence, but there is more to this tale yet. So if you like a good ghost story, this AfterShock bite is for you. — Megan Peters
Rating: 4 out of 5
Nearly one year after leaving the new release shelf, Adventureman returns with the start of its second arc, which reads a lot like the conclusion to its first. The series is as gorgeous as ever with both pulp-infused heroes and villains reminding readers of how much charm is built into the very bones of this story. Adventureman #5 finally arrives at the conclusion of its first big battle and the introduction of a new set of heroes – something clearly intended since #1. It’s the long wait that leads this return to read like an overdue epilogue, rather than an invigorating reintroduction. All of the fast-paced action, quick character beats, and reflections on human nature are still present, but they read as being disconnected in this space. With that having been said, the final few pages establish a canvas with seemingly unlimited potential as the stories of Adventureman continue in a modernized form. That is the heart of this new issue and, despite the slow transition of overdue climaxes and long-awaited premises here, makes the wait for Adventureman #6 quite compelling. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Almost halfway through BRZRKR, the series feels like it’s in a strange place. It’s not quite a stall, but it also doesn’t feel much like it’s really moving forward. Instead, BRZRKR #5 goes inward to explore Unute’s experiences with love. While from a pure enjoyment of reading aspect, it’s not a bad issue. It certainly helps answer some of the basic questions one might have about a figure who has lived as long as Unute, but it also feels a little unnecessary and a lot exploitative, especially in that it’s presented a bit awkwardly in terms of the larger thrust of the story. If last issue was a decision point between full steam ahead and fizzling, BRZRKR #5 takes us closer to fizzling. It’s not bad, but it’s not great, leaving an issue that feels like it needs a shot in the arm. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 3 out of 5
Robert Love delivers a breezy, light tale of the apocalypse here which doesn’t break the wheel but offers an action-filled, thought-provoking fable at times. While the issue is heavy when it comes to super powered teenagers battling against giant monstrosities, it can sometimes fall into the trap of relying too much on exposition to get its point across. It’s a single issue story that doesn’t seem confident enough to let its tale breathe, and while it does offer a surprise or two, the reader might feel the story simply didn’t have enough time to resonate when all is said and done. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Cates actually does a nice job pivoting the story after Zdarsky left such a meaningful impression a couple of issues ago. It’s easy to see how this could get into “jumping the shark-meta” territory in the not too distant future, but it’s entertaining enough for the time being. — Charlie Ridgely
Rating: 3 out of 5
The Department of Truth would be a very good comic if its creative team could keep away from inserting the equivalent of a Wikipedia article into the middle of each and every single article. Each issue of this series, no matter what events are going on in the actual story, features one character explaining the “true history” of something or another to another character, usually with the backdrop of a multiple single page spreads. The heavy-handed exposition (which usually blends just enough history into fiction that it comes off believable) literally kills the momentum and excitement every single issue. Because we constantly get these explainers in what feels like every single issue, we are left with about half an interesting comic instead. This issue is fine and sets up a cool second act, provided that the creature manifested from nightmares doesn’t try to explain the secret history of canning preserves next issue. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
DIE is about more than games or even our relationships with those we play games with. When you truly allow yourself to be consumed by… anything, whether it’s a piece of fiction, the drama of national politics, a captivating true crime podcast, or a band’s discography, you risk that thing becoming a parasite. People are quick to define themselves by their fandoms, whether it’s the comic book characters they like, or the games they play, or the teams they watch, or music they listen to. DIE asks the question if letting that fandom feed on your soul, if inviting it to become a part of your true self, is a good or bad thing. It provides no easy answers—enjoying something to the point that you “lose yourself” to it can provide relief, joy, and comfort, and it can also be toxic and harmful—but the examination itself was poignant, thoughtful, and masterful throughout. Maybe the true joy of DIE, much like that in the best fantasy roleplaying games, is the journey we took reaching the end of the story. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 5 out of 5
Echolands #2 remains a gorgeous comic to look at, even if we still don’t quite understand what’s going on. The nature of the Echolands is deliberately mysterious, with its many inhabitants hailing from every genre and art style imaginable. It’s impressive that JH Williams has merged together so many different art styles together, often with different coloring and inking effects. This is a truly innovative comic and I’m impressed that the landscape format has not been a detriment to the series at all. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
There’s a scene in the Firefly pilot in which Simon Tam explains why he has his sister, River, tucked away in a cryogenic create in the ship’s cargo hold. Firefly: River Run is, essentially, an extended version of Simon’s monologue from that scene, filling in all of the bits of the story that didn’t make it into the speech for the sake of time. Considering the climax of Simon’s daring rescue was already depicted in the Serenity movie, that little ground or River Run to cover offering much new insight into the character. There’s an unaddressed tension in the story. River’s coded message to Simon said, “They’re hurting us. Get me out.” That implies that others were suffering that he did not help. That tension should complement the other part of the story, Simon’s dealing with the Underground. This group at first dupe him out of his stolen medicine and then judge him for potentially doing what rich people do by turning a blind eye to the suffering of others. Writer David M. Booher doesn’t connect those dots. Instead, Simon’s decision to abandon his affluent life hinges on his disillusionment with his parents. Booher may not connect the themes staring him the face, but his prose work is stellar. Jim Campbell’s choice of scripted lettering for the narration gives the text the feel of a letter or diary entry. Andrés Genolet’s artwork elevates the one-shot, providing the same stellar storytelling and bright facial characterizations he brought to his run on Marvel’s Runaways. River Run doesn’t live up to its full potential. Still, for a story that probably never needed telling, it proves a much more enjoyable read than most such interstitial franchise tie-ins. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
This two-issue run of The Golem Walks Among Us is crazy in all of the right ways. Much like the first book, this second issue moves at a mile a minute and is full of action from start to finish. While the throughline story here isn’t something that might grab in a major way, the series is definitely worth a read simply due to how fun it is. Even as someone who was a newcomer to this world, I really had a blast with The Golem Walks Among Us. — Logan Moore
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Good Asian #5 heads back into time and shows us how its protagonist Edison Hark became the morally compromised man he is today. Like all good noir stories, Hark’s tragic backstory involves a woman, but we see how the racist laws (and racist attitudes) of 1930s California shaped Hark into rejecting happiness and losing his moral compass. It’s a brutal and brilliant issue, one made more poignant by the fact that in the present day Hark lost the closest person he had to a brother. This is a must-read series, one of the best of the year. –– Christian Hoffer
Rating: 5 out of 5
While the actual crossover between Groo Meets Tarzan shows the creators at the top of their game, the side story of the frantic adventures of their respective creators seem to be overtaking the comic, with this issue being the worst offender by far. Ultimately the wrap-around story simply doesn’t feel charming enough to really propel the necessity of it, and I can only imagine that it would have normal readers scratching their heads when it comes to the “inside baseball” talk of the comic book industry. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Apocalyptic stories about world-shattering new threats aren’t anything new in the world of comics, and especially given the events of the past two years, new titles in that realm need to take leaps to really stand out. Luckily, Human Remains #1 manages to do so, with both a premise and an execution that I’m left eager to see more of. Peter Milligan’s script introduces the frank horrors of its concept—the arrival of evil monsters that literally prey on people’s emotions—and the charm of the world before the invasion with ease, leaving me curious to see where its ensemble of characters go next. And Sally Cantirino’s art and Dearbhla Kelly’s colors give the series the mix of brutality and grounded whimsy that its story deserves. Hopefully, Human Remains can keep up the momentum of this intriguing debut. — Jenna Anderson
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The penultimate issue of Out of Body is one of the better installments so far. The book moves at a very brisk pace and starts to actually try to unravel the mystery at the center of this narrative. Still, I don’t find myself all of that engaged with the plot. This mostly stems from the fact that I believe that the villains in Out of Body are quite weak and have strange motives. If you’re someone who has enjoyed the series up until this point, though, the fourth issue does a good job of setting up the finale. — Logan Moore
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
At last, Parasomnia begins to tie together the title’s loose ends and answer the outstanding mysteries. Like much of Bunn’s other work, Parasomnia finds itself hanging under the heavy weight of monstrous mystery, and finally, this title gets a chance to breathe. At the root of this tale is a family story that keeps readers rooted despite jumping back and forth between timelines at a moment’s notice. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 4 out of 5
For the world-building that was crammed into this issue, it’s something that could have been beefed up over 20+ issues. The concept of Uprising isn’t something completely new. In fact, JMS told an awfully similar story with his run on Squadron Supreme. Morally grey superheroes at the whim of a presidential administration that may or may not be acting in the best interest of the American people. Here, there are undeniable parallels with the administration that just left office and the connections are more evident than not. There’s a lot to unpack in these six issues, and re-reads will likely be required as everything’s quite dense and tiresome to get through. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 3 out of 5
To an extent, the most surprising aspect of Silver City #5 is that it’s the series’ conclusion, as it feels like there was so much more in its weird and wild world to explore. Once you get past that whiplash of the series drawing to a close, the impact of what is presented in the twenty-something pages starts to be felt, albeit with some actually unexpected twists and turns along the way, and mentions of lore and worldbuilding that might be jarring to fans who don’t remember the intricacies of the previous issues. Still, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs and artist Luca Merli clearly pour their heart and soul into this series, and that passion helps soften the blow of some of the more hectic reveals. If anything, the biggest complaint I could give Silver City is that I wish it had kept continuing, but I also can’t help but admire the way it came to a close. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Something is Killing the Children #20 continues the series winning streak, and if there’s one origin story you should read this week, Erica Slaughter’s is it. “Me and My Monster” part five is filled to the brim with soulful moments, each one providing more context regarding the very personal story of a child overcoming trauma and becoming a weapon against that trauma as well as the Order and it’s role in the story’s larger picture. You’ll empathize with Jessie, Aaron, Gary, and obviously Erica, while other characters will draw your ire or cause numerous questions, but all of it’s contributing to the larger narrative and helping you feel every beat along the way. James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’edera, Miquel Muerto, and Andworld Design have created something immensely special in not just this series but specifically this issue, and I honestly can’t wait to read it all over again. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 5 out of 5
Todd McFarlane’s latest is a classic standalone story that was the bread and butter of the character before his mythology got too complicated. The coincidental timing that such a story would be published in the eye of the Gabby Petito disappearance in the headlines shouldn’t be lost on readers and by that metric the Old Testament wrath that McFarlane gleefully infuses his storytelling with will also seem both satisfying and archaic. Carlo Barberi does great work with the carnage but the brief moments of respite leave a lot to be desired. — Spencer Perry
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
The first story concludes last month’s narrative, in which Mace Windu and clone troopers go up against Count Dooku and ethereal forces, leading to the potential discovery of an unexpected weakness. Much like the first half of the story, this back half is just as unexceptional, with Dooku avoiding any major ramifications and the story itself failing to deliver any major reveals. Mace Windu or Count Dooku fans will surely appreciate the pair going head to head, yet the story has little else to offer readers. The back half sees two troublemakers who aren’t content with merely reading as a form of research, instead wanting to witness the aftermath of the events they’ve heard about occurring, only to result in some unexpected danger. This story might not feature major ties or connections to other corners of the galaxy far, far away, but it does help shine a light on how your average kid in the Star Wars franchise might spend their time, even if they’re toying with danger and getting in over their heads. Given that this series is aimed at young readers, the intended audience will surely connect with the lighthearted escapade, even if it might not leave a strong impact on their parents. — Patrick Cavanaugh
Rating: 3 out of 5
In hopes of rescuing her brother, Lina goes off in search of a pilot willing to go to Mustafar, leading to an encounter with Jaxxon. The famous smuggler goes on to recall a nightmare in which Chewbacca grows to a monstrous size, forcing Jaxxon to take desperate measures to neutralize the threat. This entry in Ghosts of Vader’s Castle leans more into the realm of sci-fi monster movies more than abject horror, which is sure to delight some readers and disappoint others. The narrative itself, either the framing storyline about Lina or Jaxxon’s tangles with Chewbacca, isn’t especially enlightening, though fans of kaiju stories or of Jaxxon’s exploits are sure to connect with the material more strongly, yet the previous issue’s Dawn of the Dead homage set expectations high for this entry that were never quite met. Here’s hoping that the next installment leans more directly into the horror world to honor the spirit of the series and its frightening fables. — Patrick Cavanaugh
Rating: 3 out of 5
Dark Horse’s Stranger Things comics line continues to build out the world of the TV show in new and interesting ways. In Tomb of Ybwen, we see Will chase after treasure in what could be an old Viking tomb. In reality, this comic series looks to explore Will’s feelings of guilt and grief after the death of Bob Newby, the beloved Season 2 character played by Sean Astin. Bob was a great character who died a hero, but he was largely pushed aside in Season 3 in favor of The Plot. I think the set up in this issue is great and I’m curious to see what mysteries Bob left for Will and his friends to find. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 4 out of 5
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #121 is an excellent example of how well Sophie Campbell and her team blend the politics of community building with ninja action. Jodi Niishijima brings fast-paced energy as the Turtles chase Old Hob through the hallways, letting the characters tell the story rather than overcomplicating a page’s layout. Letterer Shawn Lee does a great job of varying up the fight scene sound effects to convey each blow’s differing impacts, ranging from the liquid crimson “SKISH” of a claw slash to the solid “BRUK” of a knee to the gut. After, Sally and the others must wrestle with protecting themselves and others and finding justice when their underdeveloped community is ill-equipped for such measures. It’s another wrinkle in Campbell’s continuing focus on what it means to build a community around marginalized people. There’s tension in trying to keep the vulnerable safe without succumbing to the same compromised models as those who came before. There’s also the question of justice and what that means when some victims would like nothing short of a public execution. Campbell writing Hob as a manipulative bad dad type is also pitch-perfect. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #121 is another fascinating, exciting installment of a series that never disappoints. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4 out of 5
One would think that a Transformers: Halloween special would dip into the world of sci-fi horror or play around with classic tropes and give them a robotic twist. But that’s not the case with this year’s issue, as Dan Watters has decided to go the route of existential horror involving Starscream, a helpless ape and a possibly genocidal “ghost.” The ultimate confrontation of the book feels like it was cut down due to time/space and, as a result, it feels like a few punches were pulled. But the final image is fantastic and it’s a decent character piece for Starscream. — Connor Casey
Rating: 4 out of 5
Undiscovered Country has officially moved into fever dream territory, making another sharp turn into the supernatural and fantasy as our group of protagonists take on a literal one man band. Because of the massive ensemble that stars in each issue, it’s increasingly hard to get attached to them as we follow this story-first tale. Every time they start to scratch the surface with a character—like they do with Janet and ace here—they pull back before any major work is done. Since the story is wild as all get out, I’m still on board even if the character work is light. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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