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Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 9/7/2022

Welcome to this week in comic book audits! The staff have met up to peruse and survey almost all that delivered today. It isn’t absolutely thorough, however it incorporates basically everything from DC and Marvel with the significant books from any semblance of Image, Boom, IDW, Scout, AfterShock, and that’s just the beginning.

The audit blurbs you’ll find contained in this are ordinarily enhanced to a limited extent by longform individual surveys for critical issues. This week that incorporates Batman: Dear Detective #1, Alien #1, Antioch #1, and Fantastic Four: Full Circle.

Likewise, on the off chance that you were interested, our evaluations are basic: we give an entire or half number out of five; that is all there is to it! Assuming you might want to look at our past surveys, they are accessible here.

Contents hide

DC #1

BATMAN #127

I have been reading Batman for a long time. Long before I was reviewing Batman comics, this character and the stories about him have been a huge part my own comics experience with the Dark Knight in all his forms and facets one of my favorite characters. It is with that in mind that I say this about Batman #127: this is an absolutely essential issue for any Batman fan and, perhaps even more broadly, any DC Comics fan. As was teased at the end of #126, this issue takes us back to Grant Morrison’s era with the return of The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, but Chip Zdarsky doesn’t stop there, and goes even further back with a much deeper cut, one that not only offers an important answer to questions posed more than two decades ago by revisiting the “Tower of Babel” storyline, but takes that answer and uses it to craft not just an action-packed story, but an emotionally compelling one as well. On top of a complex story that delivers on every thread, there’s also Jorge Jimenez’s art that brings the emotions and the risks right up off the page. And don’t sleep on the backup story either. Zdarsky and Belen Ortega both bring their A-games with the story and the art with the entire book feeling richly satisfying. Simply put, this isn’t just a good issue; it’s a great one. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 5 out of 5

BATMAN BEYOND: NEO-YEAR #6

Batman Beyond ends with a resounding victory and the establishment of a new status quo. It’s a pretty great moment, even if it’s wrapped up a little too cleanly given how low Batman sank during the series. This was a great Batman Beyond story and I’m intrigued that we’ll be getting more Batman Beyond stories in 2023. Given the new status quo and the pretty epic scale of this series, it’ll be interesting to see where the sub-line goes from here. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

BATMAN: DEAR DETECTIVE #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

Batman: Dear Detective is going to be a divisive comic book because it’s neither a true comic book nor an art book, exactly, but tries to land somewhere between the two concepts. It doesn’t quite accomplish that, and it doesn’t quite offer much in the way of new perspective in its approach. However, it’s an elegant and interesting study of Batman in a purely visual sense, with the stripped-down narrative leaving the reader—or viewer, really—in a place to truly examine the character through their own lenses and ask what it really means to be the Dark Knight and inhabit his world. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4 out of 5

BLACK ADAM: THE JUSTICE SOCIETY FILES – ATOM SMASHER #1

Atom Smasher provides the most promising installment of Black Adam: The Justice Society Files thus far in a straightforward adventure with competent craftsmanship presented throughout. The intent of the story seems simple: introduce readers to Atom Smasher, specifically his size-altering powerset and existence as a legacy hero. Beyond that it’s more vague references to Intergang and generic threats without context. Al losing his clothes as he sizes up and one particularly effective spread make his particular style fun to witness (and they might even translate well to the big screen). Yet this and the continuation of a backup story without much meat on its bones remain promotional materials at heart, and are as thin as one would expect as a result. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

DARK CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #4

When fans and critics debate the most visually-appealing comic book event series, Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths needs to be in the conversation for the top spot. Every page and panel is breathtaking, and you can tell how much detail went into each artistic choice. Other highlights are the talk between Nightwing and Alan Scott is both depressing and inspiring, a fun fight between Deathstroke’s army and the Legion of Doom, and a finale that leads right into the event’s updated name change. — Tim Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5

DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL: TALES FROM THE THREE KINGDOMS #1

Dark Knights of Steel has already lit up the imaginations of DC fans with a medieval take on characters that’s proven to be irresistibly charming and brimming with intrigue. Tales from the Three Kingdoms offers three stories in the same vein, and each provides more of what readers are seeking. “Arkham Orphanage” introduces a slew of new faces from both Batman and Superman’s supporting casts in a fashion that rewrites the origins of Batman’s rogues gallery to unpredictable results. Taylor develops threads for his own miniseries, while artist Caspar Wijngaard steps in to elevate the style and mood of these monstrous looking orphans, with an especially impressive (and subtle) take on Harvey Dent. “The Flock” and “King’s Bane” are both shorter, but allow creators previously unrelated to Dark Knights of Steel to build out adventures of the younger princes before they were at odds. Revelry in the streets and reimagined friends and foes all serve to showcase that there’s still plenty of mileage to be found in this concept as even brief adventures prove enticing. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

DC Comics
DC Comics

FLASHPOINT BEYOND #5

Flashpoint Beyond has just one issue to go after this week’s Flashpoint Beyond #5, and the penultimate issue may be the series’ strongest. The issue offers up a lot of explanation, which is particularly welcome considering that the series to now has been very based in questions about what exactly is going on and it’s overall place in the general timeline of things, not to mention the how of the return of the Flashpoint universe. It’s one of the more interesting—even if a little tedious as it explains the Omniverse and Hypertime—aspects of the issue that we get major explanations right out of the gate before making a hard shift of gears to the core of things: Martha and Thomas Wayne. Simply put, this is a story and an issue that challenges readers’ understanding of everything they know while also making them think. The only real concern is that there is so much packed in here that with just one issue left, how the creative team will pull it all together feels like a major gamble. There is also a bit of a challenge in that there still feels like a few dangling threads, but overall, the issue is solid and will stick with readers (and that includes the art, which is very well done across each page) for some time to come. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4 out of 5

MULTIVERSITY: TEEN JUSTICE #4

Teen Justice continues to present some interesting ideas with its gender-flipped concept, but even an action-filled issue like this seems to move at a crawl. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

THE NEW CHAMPION OF SHAZAM #2

I knew in my bones that the second issue of The New Champion of Shazam! would be good, but I am still genuinely blown away by the finished product. Josie Campbell’s script effortlessly blends the timeless feeling of the Shazam! family books with a mesmerizing modern flair, making even the most innocuous of sequences so compelling to witness. When coupled with Doc Shaner’s truly excellent art, which contains some of the most distinct facial expressions and action panels I’ve read lately, this second issue could not be more perfect. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 5 out of 5

NUBIA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS #4

As the final chapter (for the time being) of Nubia’s solo spotlight, this issue is a gorgeous and poignant finale, as well as an understated beginning. The issue examines Nubia’s past, present, and future in some mesmerizing capacities, which are bolstered by Stephanie Williams’ excellent script. From the narrative to the visuals, the issue blends a larger-than-life conflict with a salt-of-the-Earth earnestness, which makes me so excited to see where Nubia and her genuinely great supporting cast go next. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

POISON IVY #4

Poison Ivy #4 continues the series’ elegant and eloquent character study of Pamela Isley whilst also offering up timely social commentary, but it also delivers to readers the first real swing toward a villain that isn’t Poison Ivy and her crusade. Indeed, Ivy is herself being hunted even as she is on her own genocidal campaign (and props to G. Willow Wilson for coming up with a truly clever way of furthering said mission). The art here is absolutely fantastic, but Arif Prianto’s colors are the real star on the visual side of things. Narrative-wise, Wilson continues to craft a story that makes it easy to put yourself in the “bad guy’s” shoes, as it were. It’s another fine issue in a truly special series and while some of the circumstances do feel a little thin in terms of general plotting and orchestration, the emotional and humanity is rich. It’s very well done. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

SWORD OF AZRAEL #2

Sword of Azrael approaches its plot with a relentless pace and minimal mercy. It’s the darkness of this story that makes it compelling, though – a mystic brand unlike what readers expect from Bat-comics. Nikola Čižmešija’s artwork transforms both literal battles and mental landscapes into abstract forms filled with fire and fury. It’s terrifying to watch these programmed individual’s fiery weapons at work, and even more frightening to delve into their psyches. Depictions of Jean-Paul’s interior thoughts prove to be terribly exciting, and it transforms exposition into something that reads like an adventure tale. Every step forward suggests new mysteries and threats, while continuing to shed light on past questions in a story that promises readers the best is yet to come. If that’s truly the case, then Sword of Azrael ought to be one of DC Comics’ most talked about series. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Marvel #1

A.X.E.: DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #2

One thing A.X.E.: Judgment Day is doing an excellent job of is connecting to the main story, as well as individual tie-ins. Of course, this isn’t good news to anyone who just wants to read the core Judgment Day title, but it does offer some extra incentive to hardcover fans. While a reader doesn’t have to necessarily read A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants, it does sync perfectly, in no small part because its been written by the Judgment Day mastermind: Kieron Gillen. — Tim Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5

ALIEN #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

Alien #1 is taking its time with its narrative, seemingly understanding that the inclusion of the more memorable elements of the franchise requires appropriate timing. After all, a majority of the original film was absent of the hulking beast, and even after its appearance, it stuck to the shadows. Despite this debut issue not totally winning over readers, just the fact that it isn’t jumping the gun and shows restraint with its recognizable IP makes it more promising than other attempts to explore the mythos. Given how many times we’ve been given underwhelming and undercooked comics in the Alien franchise, we’ll absolutely settle for a slow start over a redundant setup. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

ALL-OUT AVENGERS #1

It’s fitting that All-Out Avengers opens in media res with a familiar assortment of the current team battling space invaders possessing profane artifacts and seeking to dominate life across the universe. That familiar arrangement provides space to spotlight each member in quick succession, deliver some action sequences, and establish this story for future issues. It delivers admirable work on the first element with plenty of well-situated quips and splashes, a middling variety of the second as Land’s artwork appears too flat and staged to offer the impact this issue presumes, and collapses on the final point. A self-aware narrator follows the tale and even contradicts the action once or twice in order to raise questions about the nature of this miniseries and what may follow. This touch is noticeable, but remains far too subtle to make itself a hook. Yet outside of that narration, the action of Avengers pummeling generic villains from space reads as derivative at best. Without the necessary style or skill to make the artwork its own draw, there’s simply not enough here to guarantee any reader is compelled to wait for All-Out Avengers #2. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

BLACK PANTHER #9

With the Wakandan Civil War over with, Black Panther turns his attention back to being the chairperson of the Avengers. It’s nice to see Black Panther return to his larger duties in the Marvel Universe, especially since he had such an important role in Avengers. The choice of villains is a comedic one, but the Colonialist pulls it off. German Peralta joins as artist, and his pairing with Jesus Aburtov and Joe Sabino cements this arc as a visual delight. — Tim Adams

Rating: 4 out of 5

CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY #4

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #4 is a mostly reflective issue, with Cap determining how best to fight the Outer Circle and their seemingly limitless sway on society. I appreciated that Cap did what he does best – gather allies for the coming fight, and his surprise ally at the end of the issue was cleverly set up through what seemed like a mostly introspective run through Cap’s day-to-day life. I’m still not convinced about Outer Circle as a viable threat, but I am enjoying this comic’s take on Steve Rogers. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

GHOST RIDER #6

The latest Ghost Rider ongoing wraps up its first arc here in a surprising fashion. Despite this run from Percy, Smith, Peeples, and company already having been plenty graphic, Ghost Rider #6 takes it up a notch as it dives into monster horror with a few jaw-droppingly gruesome scenes. That said, the resolution to Johnny Blaze’s interpersonal battle ends up feeling a bit all too hollow, especially when someone like Wolverine is forced to intervene. Still, the story’s overarching plot is as intriguing as it was when it was first established half a year ago. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Marvel #2

IMMORTAL X-MEN #6

Judgment Day continues to have an overbearing presence on the X-Men line, dragging everything into its orbit. As such, Immortal X-Men has to bend its previously established format, focusing on one council member per issue, to accommodate the Progenitor’s judgment of all. Thus, Immortal X-Men #6, which focuses primarily on Sebastian Shaw, opens with the Progenitor casting its gaze on Destiny in the wake of Krakoa’s failed assault on the Celestial god. A similar space is made for other members of the Quiet Council, diverting focus from Shaw. It may be for the best, as the issue doesn’t have anything especially revelatory to say about the mutant industrial. He likes money and is largely snobby and self-serving, all facts. The look into his feelings about Emma Frost is more insightful but not enough to justify Shaw’s altruistic choice toward the issue’s end. The visuals are as they have been, perhaps too realistically rendered and a bit flat but otherwise serviceable, which is also how I’d describe the issue holistically. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3 out of 5

MARAUDERS #6

Practically from the jump, Marauders #6 feels like the rare kind of superhero event tie-in that uses its specific, dire status quo to its advantage. While some elements of the issue might fly over the heads of readers who aren’t keeping track of Judgment Day, the bulk of the issue proves to be an effective and emotional look at the Marauders’ fears and self-imposed expectations. When Steve Orlando’s script works, it does so excellently, and Andrea Broccardo’s art style manages to soften the blow of some of the darker moments without completely undermining them. Marauders #6 left me more invested in the title itself, and in the potential of “Judgment Day” as a whole, which is impressive in and of itself. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 4 out of 5

MOON KNIGHT #15

Jed MacKay, Allesandro Cappuccio, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit have delivered one of Marvel’s best Moon Knight runs to date thus far, and yet much of that run has been without the involvement of Moon Knight’s other two personalities. Now Jake and Steven are back in the mix, and the book’s become that much better as a result, finding new complexities between their personalities and approaches to explore while also contrasting their usual flow to the new people in Marc’s life. Steven was never one of my favorites, and yet his scenes consistently steal the show. Meanwhile, Cappuccio and Rosenberg tell a story in each and every panel and craft vivid landscapes for Marc, Steven, and Jake to explore. Swaths of dazzling oranges, purples, greens, and pinks can’t help but command your attention, and then they all combine when you least expect it. Frankly, this issue is worth it just for that Reese and Marc scene alone, and as a whole, Moon Knight #15 is one not to be missed. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

NEW FANTASTIC FOUR #4

A rather surprising development is revealed for one character, and their connection to a major Marvel villain. It’s all explained thoroughly, and yet in a fun manner. The most intriguing factor is considering if this character exists in the present day. Meanwhile, poor Johnny Storm is still possessed by a hell demon, and Wolverine and Mr. Fixit don’t take it easy on him considering they know whatever punishment they unleash can’t kill the Human Torch. — Tim Adams

Rating: 3 out of 5

NEW MUTANTS #29

Danny Lore fills in as writer on New Mutants #29, teaming with artist Guillermo Sanna for a one-shot story pairing Daken with Warpath. Both characters are reeling from recent events involving their siblings, the death of Scout in Daken’s case, and the resurrection of Thunderbird for Warpath. The different ways these characters deal with the emotional baggage hefted on them by these events makes them an interesting pairing, and the unpacking emotions is in keeping with the themes of New Mutants ever since Vita Ayala took over as regular writer. Sanna has a style that in the school of Mike Mignola, which is more a break from what New Mutants readers are used to compared to regular artist Rod Reis but is appealing nonetheless. It’s a solid issue that fits right in with what came before. Fans of the series should be pleased. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

PUNISHER #6

While Punisher still struggles to define its protagonist—projecting him as some sort of remorseful psychopath, like Patrick Bateman gifted with a motive—the images developed out of his twisted mash-up with the Hand in issue #6 make for a delightfully disturbing read. Whether it’s Ares or the Hand’s Archpriestess, he is surrounded by figures violently confronting him with reality and it makes for a suitably ugly series of sequences. The battle against Ares sprawls across spreads and captures a real sense of violence after moving past all of the goofy weapons that undermine the gritty tone this series strives for. What comes back at the Hand’s compound is far worse and depictions of failed resurrections are bone-chilling in Saiz’s hands. It’s here the madness bubbles over and makes for its own sort of visceral thrill – an outstanding moment amidst this consistently messy series. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Marvel #3

Marvel #3

comic-reviews-alien-1-2022.jpg
(Photo: Marvel Comics)

SHE-HULK #6

And just like that She-Hulk transforms many of its ongoing bummers into benefits. Mallory Book’s absurd concept of running a law firm with She-Hulk and Awesome Andy while refusing to take any metahuman clients is challenged and the result is logical and a wellspring for future stories. She-Hulk’s long conversations with Jack of Hearts finally arrive at a climax of sorts that pays off such an extensive investment by altering their status quo in a dramatically-charged fashion. Ultimately, She-Hulk #6 is a comic book where the titular hero has four generally pleasant conversations with four different people in her life, but the big conversations have big effects and the small ones are charming and humorous in idiosyncratic fashion. She-Hulk may read like a slice of life comic at times, but when it connects those everyday moments to clear stakes and evolving drama, it delivers a gratifying read. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

SPIDER-MAN 2099: EXODUS – OMEGA #1

The future Green Goblin design might be the weakest and least interesting of this series, but the book itself is a fitting and exciting end to what has been an enjoyable journey through 2099. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 3 out of 5

STAR WARS #27

Continuing to explore the lives of mild-mannered Rebels, Melton and Bevelyn realize the importance of their mission and what it would mean to escape the Galactic Empire, a feat easier said than done. Luckily, some famous members of the Rebellion are hoping to intervene, setting the stage for an exciting rendezvous in an upcoming issue. This chapter continues the tone and excitement of the previous issue, delivering a compelling and unexpected story about the heroes of the Rebellion that aren’t granted with otherworldly powers or come from a long legacy of established figures, allowing more well-known figures to appear in a supporting capacity. While our heroes might not become staples of the galaxy far, far away, we’re looking forward to where this adventure takes them. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

WOLVERINE #24

Wolverine‘s tie-in to the ongoing Judgment Day series sees callbacks to his previous trip to hell and the attempt to kill the Progenitor. I imagine none of this will be resolved in the main book, but it’s fun to see Logan’s point of view regarding the situation. — Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

X-MEN & MOON GIRL #1

There’s a misconception about Moon Girl that she’s a character designed for only kids to read. While she definitely has a lot of appeal with the younger crowd, she remains such a well-rounded character that has something for all of us. Her partnership with Wolverine and Havoc in this series highlights just how versatile and gripping the character can be. Even when the story feels rushed, Moon Girl shines, and that’s ultimately the point here. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Publishers #1

007 #2

It’s been rather fun seeing James Bond reflect on the passing of one of his predecessors, while also gathering with former 00’s to pay tribute to their fallen comrade. The secret agents each share their favorite memories of Gann, aka 003, and Bond is recruited to continue the mission that ultimately got her killed. The short action sequences channel the live-action James Bond movies, with the issue as a whole feeding off the franchise’s overall vibe. — Tim Adams

Rating: 4 out of 5

ANTIOCH #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

Antioch #1 is a formidable debut issue in a new comics world full of promise. While the messaging and themes are laid on a bit too thick at times—so much so, you may wonder if this is a promotional comic released by Greenpeace at times—the script and art combine for a well-rounded launching point. It’s fast and energetic, there’s no denying that. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

AVATAR: ADAPT OR DIE #5

This morality play steeped in metaphors of colonialism delivers plenty of recognizable lessons and dramatic beats, but none of them are presented in a particularly compelling fashion. That’s most evident in the depiction of human beings as flat, generally emotionless, traced forms on the page. Combine that with a plot designed like a checklist and it’s difficult to focus your attention on this story as it unfolds. The cold and clinical detachment of both presentation and dialogue results in a a recognizable form with no passion or heart to make any element connect with readers. There are a handful of elements that transcend this base banality—a confrontation with predators in the jungle, specifically—but it’s never enough to justify the time spent reading this issue. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

BASILISK #11

Basilisk is really able to shine when it leans heavily into its horror elements, and this issue felt like a breath of fresh air by exploring the origins of the Chimera further. There is one sequence specifically that involves a young member of the villains that is as disturbing as it is original. The series from Bunn and Scharf is frustrating on a number of levels, but when it is able to hit its sweet spot, it becomes an entirely different animal. There’s one too many moving pieces in this horror series, but there’s definitely a solid story beneath the waves. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3 out of 5

CYBERPUNK 2077: BLACKOUT #4

Dark Horse has been releasing a steady stream of comics exploring the world of the video game universe that is Cyberpunk 2077, and while a good number of their output has been solid to great, Blackout feels like the weakest. While the heist idea had some high-octane action, the cast of characters wasn’t able to make themselves truly unique and perhaps most importantly, interesting. The series comes to a close with more than a few twists but none of them seem particularly enthralling. Ultimately, Blackout just isn’t able to hit the heights as its predecessors. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

THE DEAD LUCKY #2

The Dead Lucky continues to build out its sci-fi dystopia—one noticeably reflecting the modern dystopia of San Francisco—throughout its second issue. That includes a confrontation with the mech-police guarding the city that resolves itself so quickly it’s unclear there was even a fight. After addressing the first issue’s cliffhanger, most of the space is invested in exploring the conflicts found in each character’s life. While this makes it clear that their perspectives have been considered, it fails to provide a convincing hook for readers to continue. The cast is composed of flawed human beings who are insufficiently interesting or sympathetic to make their narratives immediately compelling. That may change with time, but in this moment consistently thin line work leaves the setting feeling similarly thin, while action and design elements remain unremarkable. There are potentially engaging ideas throughout The Dead Lucky, but that potential is not active in the telling. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

DUDLEY DATSON AND THE FOREVER MACHINE #2

Dudley Datson and The Forever Machine #2 carries over the momentum from issue one’s chaotic ending and then expands the parameters of the story 10-fold. Writer Scott Snyder keeps his foot on the pedal with issue 2, spinning a story that spans generations and weaves in dimensional travel and alien lifeforms, though perhaps most impressive is that Dudley never moves from the story’s center. The bevy of exchanges between Dudley and Daedalus unearth quite a bit about their individual characters and differences in approach, and while the issue is dialogue-heavy, artist Jamal Igle, colorist Chris Sotomayor, inker Juan Castro, and letterer Tom Napolitano bring those scenes to life and keep the reader engaged, and when the action does pick up it pops off the page. One particular angle of the story was predictable, even being referenced by Dudley before its revelation, and the amount of dialogue might be off-putting to some. That wasn’t an issue in my case, and I’m incredibly eager to see where this goes next. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

GOLDEN RAGE #2

I continue to really enjoy Golden Rage purely because of how absurd the concept at the center of this series is. Issue #2 is a bit cumbersome at times with its storytelling, largely because of how some scenes are written with multiple different character thoughts and conversations happening at once. Despite this, the final result sheds more light on the protagonists at the center of Golden Rage, which should make the series that much more compelling moving forward. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3 out of 5

Other Publishers #2

IMAGE! #5

Image! #5 has the start of what looks like a fun Hack/Slash short story and a couple of previews for some upcoming graphic novels. The rest is skippable, and even the usually-great “Blizzard” story has no real progression. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

THE INVINCIBLE RED SONJA #10

While The Invincible Red Sonja has certainly not been my cup of tea with its incredibly uneven stories and art, the final issue, The Invincible Red Sonja #10 has a certain charm. Zaria finally returns home only to find utter tragedy and it falls on the princess and Sonja to save the survivors by standing up to the truly brutal and disgusting warlord, Blackwing. It’s a fairly familiar trope for this comic and the ending is very predictable, but we actually get to see some character development not just for Sonja but for Zaria which matures a great deal in this final installment. For all that, though, the art is bad and the misogyny is still a lot to take in. Red Sonja is, generally, a very specific character for a very specific audience and I”m certainly not it but this whole series just misses the mark – even with a palatable final issue. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2 out of 5

LAST LINE #1

There’s a fun pitch beneath Last Line #1 as the story details a secret path binding the London Underground to interstellar travelers. The concept feels like something straight from Doctor Who and, in familiar fashion, it quickly compiles a collection of individuals who never anticipated interacting with aliens to explore the mystery. There’s not much to the story beyond the mystery, however, as each character is barely describable beyond a few key notes, like young and conspiratorial. The only reason to keep reading is interest in what lies beneath London, and that would be easier to focus upon if the aliens and action involved were presented with a sense of style. Instead, key bits of information are often missed and dialogue is made to be the driver of the story at times because panels lack necessary information. It’s a drag on a potent idea that doesn’t seem prepared to meet the public eye. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

MAGIC: THE GATHERING #18

Magic: The Gathering #18 proves a fun issue as Tibalt’s petty sadism is played against him, leading to a kind of “Avengers Assemble” moment for the heroic planeswalkers. Jed McKay gives each of these Planeswalkers is given a moment to shine, with Tezzeret slowly realizing Teferi’s role in the plan being a highlight. The fast-paced script plays to Ig Guara’s strengths as an artist, and the colors—while still a bit soft in soft—are vibrant and varied. It’s an action-heavy payoff to the plot thus far and ends on a note of excitement as things seem poised only to escalate from here. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

MIND MGMT: BOOTLEG #3

The penultimate chapter of Mind MGMT: Bootleg sets the stage for the climax exceedingly well, while delivering another artistic showcase – this time from David Rubín. With three of four Zanzibar survivors assembled, they begin to endure training that manages to deliver both belly laughs and anxious, nigh-terrifying pages. Throughout their sequences of chewing gum and confronting evil overlords, there are threads of Mind MGMT‘s past with animals woven throughout each sequence in a genuinely graceful nature and battles from key figures. It all serves to clarify the conflict at hand, outline an intimidating threat linked closely to our own crumbling media ecosystem, and enjoy the journey these three are experiencing. In Rubín’s hands every page is an opportunity and each new idea is presented with ingenuity that encourages the eye to linger. Bootleg #3 is another outstanding addition to a series that didn’t require more, but has shown itself capable of still producing outstanding and inventive comics. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THE NINJETTES #1

The Ninjettes steps out this week with a first issue that is as punchy as it is pristine. With gorgeous art lining each page, this debut issue introduces readers to a world of fascist leaders, female sociopaths, and loads of secret ninjas. And if our heroine wants to make it out of their test alive, they’ll learn the ways of blade well before anyone can take them out. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

ONCE & FUTURE #29

If Once & Future‘s penultimate issue is any indication of what the finale will be, we are in for one hell of a final chapter. Writer Kieron Gillen brings all the various puzzle pieces together in the setup for the book’s final moves, and yet we don’t have to wait until the final chapter to experience a few major twists and turns, including the outstanding reveal of Queen Rose, and that reveal is everything one would hope for thanks to the brilliant work of Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain, and Ed Dukeshire. By the way, Mora is creating some of the most stunning and captivating work of his career in this series and takes Rose’s emergence as the central figure of power here to a completely new level. I mean, who knew you could look like that much of a badass with your arm falling off? Once & Future #29 begins its story with an introspective and sincere conversation about loss and protecting others while ending things in dragon-sized chaos and fear, delivering many of the traits that have made this series so special in one single issue. While I’m sad this series is marching towards its end, it’s making for some of the best comic storytelling ever, and I wouldn’t miss any of it for the world. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

Other Publishers #3

SHOCK SHOP #1

Shock Shop has come just in time for “spooky season” to get going. This series is essentially a compilation of short stories that all have horror-focused themes. The first two stories that are introduced in Shock Shop though don’t get truly interesting until their final pages. While these tales are going to continue to be told in future issues, the brief nature of each storyline makes Shock Shop hard to get invested in for the time being. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3 out of 5

SPAWN #333

The flagship Spawn title continues to be a largely incomprehensible book in terms of narrative momentum and artistic continuity. Writer Rory McConville once again shows himself to be adept at making even the goofiest of premises from Todd’s brain seem interesting, even if they never really live up to that. Though the visuals of any Spawn comic are typically where they excel, this month seems to be a stumbling block with lackluster work by Carlo Barberi and colorist Jay David Ramos. The issue also features one of the most baffling pages of the year, a conversation with four present characters with some of the most ridiculous lettering on a comic page. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 2 out of 5

STAR TREK #400

Star Trek #400 is intended as a celebration of IDW Publishing’s first 15 years of publishing Star Trek comic books. In that, it succeeds. Highlights from the stories within include an opening story from Chris Eliopoulos and Luke Sparrow is a loving reverie for all Star Trek has been, told from a subtly surprising perspective, and Wil Wheaton’s love letter to his time on Star Trek: The Next Generation, expressed through the experiences of his character, Wesley Crusher, and capable drawn by Joe Eisma. Star Trek mainstay Mike Johnson brings back Kayla Detmer’s imaginary character the Starfleeter for a cute story with Megan Levans and teases the possible return of Kelvin Timeline comics in a one-page story with Angel Hernandez that also pokes gentle fun at Paramount’s long-delayed efforts to get Star Trek 4 into production. It all concludes with a prequel to the next phase of IDW’s Star Trek publishing efforts, October’s Star Trek #1. Anyone who has read Star Trek: Year Five #1 knows that writer Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing can write a heck of a cold open, and they do so again here, brought to life beautifully by Ramon Rosanas and colorist Lee Loughridge. For Star Trek fans, Star Trek #400 is an anniversary party worth attending. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

STAR TREK: THE MIRROR WAR – TROI #1

Star Trek: The Mirror War – Troi occupies an unusual space. Like the previous Mirror War one-shots, it reveals more about the title character’s past to help provide context for their present actions. Unlike the others, it’s released after the conclusion of the main series. This works out well though. The story from Troi’s past speaks to her ambition, and her position following the events of Mirror War leaves her poised to make her biggest moves yet. Writer Marike Nijkamp highlights this well within the story, one with wheels working within wheels to get Troi to her position aboard the enterprise, and Megan Levans provides solid storytelling, depicting Mirror Troi at her cool, calculating best. It’s a stellar coda to “The Mirror War” saga that will leave fans eager to see what comes next for the Mirror Enterprise crew. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

STARHENGE, BOOK ONE: THE DRAGON & THE BOAR #3

Starhenge, Book One: The Dragon & The Boar #3 is very much like the two issues before it in that it is beautifully drawn and thoughtfully written, with this issue taking the reader even deeper and tightening the narrative threads even further in a way that is enticing and genuinely so next-level it’s hard to describe without giving away important elements of how it all intersects. Of particular delight is more of the legend that is delved into here. It is staggeringly well done. There is a surprising turn in the final pages of the issue that are as exquisite to look at as it is to consider intellectually as part of the story. With that in mind, the only real “weakness” of this issue falls to the same complaint I had for the previous: this format does not suit this wide, expansive story. It should be one immersive body of work, not an issue-by-issue adventure. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

SURVIVAL STREET #2

Like the first issue of this Sesame Street meets RoboCop series, Survival Street spends too much real estate trying too hard to blend satire of modern politics with its larger premise. There are moments where writers Ames Asmus and Jim Festante are able to lampoon larger social issues with great effect, in particular the times when they’re not actively trying to court rightwing outrage with their over-the-top punchlines but especially in this month’s origin of Herbet. Artist Abylay Kussainov and colorist Ellie Wright are the real reason to pick this one up though, delivering a chaotic but stylish sensibility that harkens to the likes of Jim Mahfood. Even when the narrative of the series itself is trying too hard, the art always shines. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SWEET PAPRIKA #12

Two comics this week perfectly encapsulate what I love most about comics, and while they couldn’t be more different in terms of tone and genre, they both delivered stories, worlds, and characters that I will always remember fondly, and Paprika is one such story. Sweet Paprika #12 brings the series to a close in superb fashion, with Mirka Andolfo, Simon Tessuto, and Fabio Amelia tying each of the loose threads together and delivering a bevy of satisfying moments that trace back all the way to the beginning of the series. Andolfo and Tessuto convey so much through expression alone, at no time more apparent than when Paprika’s parents are involved. That said, one particular conversation between Paprika and her father crystallized everything, especially for those who have been reading from the first issue. It’s perfect in every way, and tears did fall. The love story between Paprika and Dill is not one that I expected, but it is absolutely one I’m glad to have read, and I honestly can’t wait to read it all over again. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

Other Publishers #4

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(Photo: Image Comics)

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #132

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is on the precipice of its next major event, “Armageddon Game,” and issue #132 shows the series at the top of its game. Sophie Campbell crafts a story in which Oroku Saki teaches each Turtles individual a mystical technique. It’s an opportunity to spotlight each of the five Turtles and display the writer’s understanding of who they are and what they bring to the group dynamic. Pablo Tunica’s artwork has previously been used to emphasize violence and the unsettling nature of Dr. Barlow’s work, but here proves equally effective at bringing out these turtles’ expressive emotions as they face their trials. The gentle breeziness of the layouts on certain pages is an especially nice touch, and Ronda Pattison brings a painterly touch to the coloring on these pages. It all comes together towards the end, both as the former Shredder’s true intentions are laid bare and as the Turtles are able to commune with their father in a moment that’s effective for how it was built up to and earned. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #132 is a fine example of why this series is so revered by fans. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THAT TEXAS BLOOD #17

That Texas Blood is now two-and-a-half arcs in and still, Condon and Phillips managed to flesh out their characters more than ever before. That Texas Blood is a slow-burn, there’s no denying that. So slow, in fact, one might wonder if anything even gets accomplished. Luckily, for all the readers still holding on, we get an excellent character study of both our primary protagonist and a glimpse into the mind of the serial killer they’re working on taking down. It’s exceptional character work all around, even though the story goes nowhere. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

TIME BEFORE TIME #16

One of the things that I love about Time Before Time is its constant world-building. That continues in spades here with issue #16, which sheds more light on the future that lies beyond the story’s current events while also introducing a new faction that will play a key role moving forward. Much of issue #16 feels more focused on setting up the pieces for the next major event that will play out in Time Before Time, but even these slower moments remain constantly compelling. I love Time Before Time and continue to recommend it highly. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

A TOWN CALLED TERROR #6

What a mixed bag A Town Called Terror is. On one hand, the artwork and design of a town that trades in horror is beyond well suited here as Szymon Kudranski continues killing it. On the flip side however, the story feels as if its in shambles, moving far too fast to elicit any emotion for this final battle between father and son, wherein readers haven’t had much of an opportunity to get to know either of them. This horror story had a solid enough premise but simply couldn’t build a foundation at the end of the day. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2 out of 5

TWIG #5

Twig has continued to be a high mark from Image Comics in 2022, with the mini-series finding the perfect balance between mature themes and an energy of lightness that shines through each page. Young and Strahm are at the top of their game here, and it definitely wouldn’t be a surprise to see this mini-series make more than a few “Best of 2022” lists following this final issue. This series thinks outside of the box and does so in such an interesting and gorgeous way, that when the final page stated that Twig would return, I started counting down the days for the arrival of the follow-up. Twig is a feast for the eyes and 100% deserves your attention. –– Evan Valentine

Rating: 5 out of 5

THE VINEYARD #2

The Vineyard digs a little deeper into the intoxicating allure of blind worship. With a family divided by religious extremism (in this case, to the god Dionysus), some attempt to pull away from the root of the corruption while others are drawn deeper. It’s pretty obvious where the comic is going, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a heady cautionary horror tale. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE WARD #4

0COMMENTSThe final issue of the Dark Horse Comics series ends in the most logical narrative place but also concludes before it can show the drastic changes that this has on the world in a satisfying way. Cavan Scott’s final story does depend on a huge exposition dump to explain the latest problem but he manages to thread the needle well for the landing to mostly stick. Artist Andres Ponce continues to do interesting work with this unique premise, though some odd proportions do stand out as peculiar choices. By the end though the final pages are a fan conclusion to what we have, but promise a story that seems more interesting than what we just got. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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