Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 7/14/2021

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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 Sinister War #1, The Flash Annual 2021 #1, and Ninjak #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

This week’s Action Comics Annual 2021 #1 revisits the Future State: House of El timeline with an all-new “Tales of the House of El”, and while “annual” issues of comics can sometimes be a mixed bag of things, this one is fantastic. The story sees Mr. Byla telling a story of the future to the children, a story of how Pyrrhos, the son of Kal-El and Circe (a character that I still have some questions about but serves as a good plot device in this story) crashes a House of El wedding, sending members of the House of El to the Phantom Zone. The story then becomes a tale of how those House of El members find their way back. While it sounds like this could be a confusing concept as you’re dealing with the crossing of multiple timelines in terms of storytelling, the book manages to keep things very well streamlined and even maintains believable connections to the current Action Comics storyline – which is no small feat. It also feels very much like the story is laying groundwork for something bigger with Mr. Byla, which is very interesting and works so well. Perhaps the finest feature of the story, however, is that it truly captures the “hope” aspect of the House of El in a way that demonstrates Johnson’s respect for and deep understanding of Superman mythology and lore. The book’s art is also very well done, representing a range of Superman descendants and family with a realistic richness and even with the book swapping artists (Siya Oum does one part, Scott Godlewski does another), it’s seamless. Overall, this is a fantastic book and a really lovely “Superman” story. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Focus returns to the mystery at hand in Batman: The Detective #4 with a juicy opening interrogation sequence packed with details and tension. It’s an excellent bit of storytelling from start to finish centered on this series’ titular focus. Batman solving immediate problems through cleverness and skill is a consistently rewarding arrangement, and Kubert delivers those problems and solutions with all of the scars, sweat, and grit they require. That intense stylistic focus on a Batman worn by time and loss is compelling, especially when Taylor ruminates on Bruce’s personal tragedies, specifically the recent loss of Alfred. However, setting that tone side-by-side with “Equilibrium,” a group composed of dozens of trained assassins dressed in all-white Batsuits having committed nearly 1,000 carefully planned and meticulously executed murders in the past two weeks doesn’t align with that tone in the least. Describing executions of hundreds of folks helped by Batman is so excessive compared to the personal stakes Bruce is focused on that it’s a genuine distraction. A handful of detailed crimes would likely be more impactful because they would at least suggest a face to pair with the story instead of dropping numbers largely disconnected from what’s on the page. In overstating the threat, Batman: The Detective undermines its many, many strengths. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Batman: Urban Legends has given us an expanded look at the Bat-family, and while some storylines are stronger than others, it has been delightful for these characters get some additional shine. Now, Batman is still a pretense in at least two of these, but in both cases, he is additive rather than overwhelming to the stories being told and the characters at the center of them. Even in Cheer, where he plays the most instrumental role, writer Chip Zdarsky still keeps the focus on Jason, and it’s a better story and a more personal one because of it. While Wildcard is nothing like Cheer, it is just as entertaining, and Marguerite Bennett, Sweeney Boo, and Marissa Louise are a fantastic team (and please give Boo more Batman please). Meanwhile, Belen Ortega and Alejandro Sanchez are also a dynamite duo in Sum of our Parts, and Tim Drake in Meghan Fitzmartin’s hands is compelling as a character and a lead. Matthew Rosenberg is clearly having a great time with Grifter, and while it didn’t click with me, I did enjoy the big twist at the end, and could totally see him knocking that potential series out of the park. All in all there’s a lot to like here, even if everything doesn’t click with you in the same way. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Detective Comics #1039 keeps ratcheting up the pressure on Batman, his allies, and Gotham City itself. This issue showcases the new villain Vile, who has a rather unique gimmick and power set. He’s an interesting addition to the Batman rogues’ gallery, although how he escaped Batman’s notice for decades is a little unbelievable. The last page of the lead story is also pretty intriguing – given how public sentiment has turned against Batman in recent months, I’m interested to see the new direction for the comic. Overall, I feel like Detective Comics is really trying to do something different with the Dark Detective. Not every story beat and idea necessarily works, but they certain deserve props for not falling into familiar patterns. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

Wally West. Kyle Rayner. Conner Hawke. Dick Grayson. These are just several heroes who had the opportunity to take over the mantle of an iconic hero in DC Comics’ lineup of modern gods, with their day-to-day issues adding a bit more relatability to the mantle they held. Wally, in particular, was the first to take up the mask of the Flash following Barry’s death during Crisis On Infinite Earths, going so far as to replace Barry Allen for decades. Now, with the latest annual of The Flash, readers receive both a deconstruction of Wally and the concept of generational-legacy heroes. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 4 out of 5

Future State: Gotham #3 isn’t a terrible issue. Yes, we’re still hanging out in the Future State timeline that DC has largely moved past from (other than to build the entirety of the main Batman comic around the origin of the Magistrate and the Peacekeepers) but the story starts to add some additional elements this week with another threat to Gotham rising, one that pits Jason Todd and the new Batman against each other in a completely different way. It’s just unexpected enough to make things a bit more complex and offer a bit more interest than we’ve seen thus far. The real weakness of this issue, however, is the art. The art itself is solid, but the choice to make the book black and white doesn’t really work so well when without color it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell characters apart. Particularly in the case of Punchline and Harley Quinn, the two characters are essentially identical in terms of features. It’s a solid remind of how important color can be to a story as the lack of color is a big weakness here. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 3 out of 5

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DC #2

Comic Reviews - The Flash Annual 2021 #1
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

After a stellar first issue, the conspiracy of Infinite Frontier continues to get more complex—and more rewarding. This week’s second issue begins to add more context to some of the DC universe’s lingering questions, from the return of characters like Roy Harper and Flashpoint Batman to the disappearance of the Justice Society of America. Joshua Williamson’s script balances meaningful character moments with shocking pieces of information, all while developing a real voice for an ever-growing array of characters. Xermanico’s art also brings a unifying style to that ensemble, with some compelling visuals. I could not be more excited to see where Infinite Frontier goes next. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The latest issue takes a step away from the present storyline, which saw Jim Gordon venturing the globe to capture the Joker by any means necessary, and while Tynion remains the writer, one of the biggest horror artists in the comic game with Francesco Francavilla. The story itself is definitely worth a read, but Francavilla’s art feels unfinished here, though the color work still strikes the haunting tone that he’s known for. The issue could have used more time in the oven with that regard, but it still makes for a haunting little one shot. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

There’s a big fight coming in Justice League: Last Ride; as that fight looms on the horizon, it’s also clear this series isn’t about the fight to come but the people who must fight it. Last Ride #3 exists primarily as a “hang out issue,” in which surviving members of the Justice League make camp on Apokolips and ready themselves. It’s an arrangement that could quickly collapse under the questionable dialogue writing of many DC mainstays, but Zdarsky provides each character with a clear voice and perspective. Readers not only recognize who these characters are, but the specificity of their current incarnations. It’s enough to maintain attention even as the issue drags its feet to address either the past or future. Readers remain in the dark about what past actions led to currently strained friendships or what the coming conflict is really about. No matter how enjoyable it may be to see these characters clearly conceived in roasting s’mores or delivering some straight talk, it’s time for this story to add some much needed context to frame these smaller moments with consequence. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Rorschach does a lot of connective work this issue, explaining how a pair of loners were almost able to assassinate a presidential candidate. The comic continues to make the unique choice of blending the real world into the narrative in unexpected ways, although this issue’s quasi-cameo is a little harder to catch at first glance. To be honest, I’m still unconvinced that this comic needed to be set in the Watchmen universe. The comic has mostly tried to keep an arm’s length from the original storyline (likely out of respect) but I feel like it’s almost too conspicuous at this point, as if its building to some big convergence with the original comic in some way. The meta-narrative surrounding the comic and its liberal use of creators as fictional characters is as interesting as the story itself, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 2 out of 5

Things get epic in Wonder Woman #775 and I mean that in terms of her quest. Michael Conrad and Becky Cloonan take Diana into the Graveyard of the Gods to recover the gods of Olympus, but they do so with a story that feels more like something out of mythology itself, letting Diana shine in a match of wits rather than brawn. It is a brilliant choice, one that lends a sense of true epicness to an already rich and immerseve story arc. There isn’t a ton of new ground broken this issue—it does lean a little on the exposition side side of things, and necessarily so—but by giving this chapter of Diana’s continued adventures in the afterlife a rich mythological feel, it remains deeply engaging while also staying true to who Diana is as a character. The “Young Diana” backup story is also lovely and continues to be a true delight of this title over all. Again, just another outstanding issue all around. Conrad and Cloonan are delivering one of the best Wonder Woman adventures of all time and it’s very obvious here. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Marvel #1

Given the approach found in Marvel’s ongoing series Aliens, many fans of the franchise may find Aliens: Aftermath to be something of a relief. This one-shot focuses on the exploration of Hadley’s Hope (the setting for Aliens) and a group of unprepared anti-corporatists who walk directly into the nuclear wasteland left behind in that film. It is a remarkably economical comic book introducing a small cast of characters and telling their story in its entirety within only 30 pages, including unexpected connections to Aliens and a new form of xenomorph. The fun found in reading Aftermath is present in walking through the franchise’s familiar beats as unaware human beings slowly catch on to just how dire their circumstances are and quickly begin to make desperate decisions. There’s little in the way of innovation or genuine surprise with the most interesting facet of the story being the altered setting from a much more impactful narrative. New aliens provide little to spark interest beyond a twist on their acidic blood that still can’t absolve them from looking like the justification for an updated action figure. The characters fleeing this crystalline creepers are sympathetic in that they’re obviously not monsters, but fail to resonate within the franchise’s tone reading more like Sea Shepherds from the modern day dropped into a future they can’t quite comprehend. Despite its lack of originality, Aliens: Aftermath at least delivers a story that understands its point of origin and that alone is an improvement at Marvel Comics. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is probably my least favorite collection of stories that we have seen in this Carnage: Black, White & Blood series so far. That’s not because any of them are downright bad, but the tales found here just aren’t as memorable as some of the others in previous issues. Of the three new stores found in this fourth collection, the final one is the best of the bunch and ends on an incredibly ominous note. Black, White & Blood might have reached its low point here with issue #4, but it’s still worth picking up if you have enjoyed past installments. — Logan Moore

Rating: 3 out of 5

Danny Lore and Luciano Vecchio have found their sweet spot for the Champions, so it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t take up the majority of their run. Seeing Miles, Kamala, Ri-Ri, Viv, and the other Champions sitting down and exploring their daily lives is where the book shines, but unfortunately, the plot focusing on Roxxon drags. The latest arc is able to step things up since the unfortunate “Outlawed” but still has a long way to go before it can become one of Marvel’s best books. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

After twisting and turning in a menagerie of ways over the past few issues, this Conan arc appears to have come to a close, and it does so in an entertaining, albeit a bit too neat, way. Conan’s fight against the Khitai empire’s conspiracy—and his dynamic with Meiwei, are both put to the test across this installment, and manage to include some compelling panels amid an underwhelming overall narrative. Cory Smith, Roberto Poggi, and Oren Junior’s art is also slightly by-the-book—it renders the action sequences well enough, but not in any way that’s particularly remarkable. Overall, I’m just curious to see exactly what’s next for Conan. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3 out of 5

In the Hellfire Gala’s wake, Excalibur finds itself grappling with a changing roster and very different relationship with England. It establishes a potentially exciting time for the series as so many of its foundational concepts are challenged. In Excalibur #22 that’s seen in two distinct stories as Pete Wisdom plots his countermove against anti-mutant British forces and the remaining members of Excalibur make do while traveling in Otherworld. Merlyn and the UK both make for considerable antagonists and it’s their promise that best defines this issue. The core team struggles to define itself with Gambit, Jubilee, and Rictor primarily serving as Betsy’s backup crew while she asks questions and narrates events. Quiet moments with Wisdom are more powerful, if only because they define this new(ish) addition to the cast and his motives in a much more clear fashion. Excalibur #22 is a transitory chapter and, while what comes next seems ready to reinvent this series, much of what readers have to find here will be a familiar breakdown of the past while the future is still being considered. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Extreme Carnage‘s second chapter focuses on Scream, bonded to host Andi Benton. Together, the symbiote and its host barely survived “Absolute Carnage” and have since been playing at being a vigilante. This installment of Marvel’s latest go on the symbiotic merry-go-round has little to says about the character or anything at all. Opening with a line from “Do not go gentle into that good night” offers an immediate sense of how overwrought the issue is, with Clay McLeod Chapman hitting the all too familiar symbiote cycle of melodrama, pointless violence, and macho posturing. Christopher Mooneyhan sometimes struggles with visualizing the strange internal struggle between symbiote, host, and “master” as Carnage makes yet another play at becoming the biggest klyntar in the schoolyard. The most noteworthy thing about Extreme Carnage: Scream is how bluntly it shows Marvel symbiote events’ dull, repetitive nature. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

There were multiple moments reading this week’s Iron Man where I actually sat back in my chair and audibly gasped. That seems to be a bit of a recurring thing while taking in this Iron Man run, as Christopher Cantwell, Cafu, and company have crafted the most specific but impactful Tony Stark story I have ever read. This issue is absolutely no exception, with Tony’s time on an unknown alien planet unfolding in some genuinely unexpected but incredibly rewarding ways. Cantwell’s love for the Marvel universe, and for the ambitious, heartfelt kind of storytelling that Tony started out in, shines in every single panel, and there are cameos and Easter eggs that are bound to make fans happy. Cafu’s art is especially excellent this issue, both with rendering those surprising elements and with showcasing Tony, whose emotion and nuance is able to shine even as he’s wearing the Iron Man helmet for the entire issue. This arc has been truly incredible thus far, but this issue proves to me that it’ll end up being one of Iron Man’s definitive runs. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 5 out of 5

Spider-Man is back this week with an epic first issue in Amazing Spider-Man writer Nick Spencer’s biggest showdown with Spidey’s rogues gallery ever: Sinister War. After recently handling foes like Kindred and Mr. Negative, Peter finds himself cornered in one of his most-challenging battles yet. The Savage Six want nothing more than to exact revenge, and they will be gunning for Spider-Man alongside the Sinister Six. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marvel #2

Comic Reviews - Spider-Man Sinister War #1
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

This close to the end of Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow, the last thing one would epect is another major plot curveball, but here we all. With Peter’s identity revealed and the hero now separated from the symbiote, a sense of clarity and gravity settles over the story with Peter stepping up to not only take ownership of his actions, but try to fix the situation. However, that doesn’t go exactly as planned. The strengths of this issue are the strengths that have been constant in this series thus far: Chip Zdarsky genuinely has mastered Peter Parker as a character and the characters in his orbit. The art slips a little this issue, which at times does distract from the story, but it’s still an outstanding story and issue generally. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

There’s an edge and a danger that has been brought to Spider-Woman throughout Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez’s run, but never at the expense of the snappy humor and banter that fans have loved about Jessica Drew for all these years, and it all comes together beautifully in Spider-Woman #13. To me, Spider-Woman is at her best when we get to see her balancing her life as a parent with her superhero duties, and this issue is a shining example of why. Seeing Jess attempt to keep plans and keep Gerry safe (though he seems to be doing a pretty grand job of that on his own to be fair) while stopping a high powered criminal from stealing an important piece of data is as chaotic and entertaining as it likely sounds, and Perez, Frank D’Armata, and Travis Lanham create a dazzling chase across the city that moves at a feverish pace and looks stunning while doing so. That includes a killer subway sequence where the action is laid out over the windows and screens in the subway car and a battle ender that feels like it came right out of Street Fighter, and at every stop in between Lanham’s work just makes each and every sequence pop with life and personality. Even the ending was a shocker, and if you were wondering if this was the time to hop in, consider the answer to that question and emphatic yes. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

Aphra and Sana manage to attend the exclusive gathering of bounty hunters and crime syndicates, which also means they have a number of unexpected run-ins with fellow partygoers with their own agendas. The biggest joy of reading Star Wars: Doctor Aphra is, well, Aphra herself, though the adventures she embarks upon aren’t always as exciting as she is personally. Luckily, this issue and her involvement in the “War of the Bounty Hunters” event allows the character’s charisma to really flourish in ways that her own independent adventures don’t always offer, which immediately makes this installment more engaging that some previous issues. Additionally, the various reveals that come along with this chapter provide insight into the overall story, making it the rare tie-in issue that actually improves the overall narrative. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

At the “Scoundrel’s Ball,” the most ruthless criminals have gathered for an opportunity to purchase Han Solo frozen in carbonite, from the Hutts to representatives of the Empire to bounty hunters with their own schemes and agendas. Understandably, bringing together such colorful characters come with unexpected encounters, resulting in the collision of a variety of beloved figures. With the debut issue of this series featuring the return of Qi’ra, it’s hard to top such an exciting appearance, though this installment does manage to continue honoring the tone and spirit of the original trilogy of films. Blending together humor with adventure, the stakes might not be as high as saving the entire galaxy from the tyranny of the Galactic Empire, instead letting supporting characters shine, all while offering interesting context to how Han Solo would end up in possession of Jabba the Hutt. Additionally, the characters that do find their way to the Scoundrels Ball will surely excite fans, leading us to wonder about the various dynamics and exchanges we’ll see explored in future issues. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

The action takes a backseat in this issue, a choice that mostly works. Examining Thor’s psyche is always fascinating. While the idea of “Mjolnir isn’t exactly working” has been done before—and not too long ago—this has its own spin to it and appears to be going in a much different direction. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 3 out of 5

Way of X #3 managed to thread a needle between crossover events, multiple ongoing plots, and an exploration of one Krakoan law. Way of X #4 attempts to continue that balancing act (less the Hellfire Gala, plus the introduction of Arrako) and provides results that nearly as impressive. Legion and Nightcrawler’s stories take very different directions, however, and function independently in two sequences with varying results. Nightcrawler’s confrontation with the second law—Murder no man—is the most engaging element of the issue. Even as it fails to dig deep into the moral conception of that rule, it provides Nightcrawler with an excellent moral dilemma that deepens the largely superficial conception of two less-seen mutants on Krakoa while allowing its hero a chance to solve a problem with violence or religious angst. Legion’s study of more extensive problems results in a surprising climax that will almost certainly push Way of X into its endgame, creating a space for necessary plot momentum. Way of X continues to provide an impressive balancing act that elevates minor characters, celebrates one X-Men’s greatest characters, and considers the manifold complexities of the new mutant status quo in an era where many series aim to accomplish just one of those goals well. It seems all but certain that this all too brief series will become a definitive segment in Krakoan lore. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

After a long while where the various X-books always felt at odds with each other and as if they weren’t on the same path, it’s lovely to see just how tethered the current books feel month in and month out. That applies to X-Corp as well, and Toni Howard keeps the through-line of mutants working together to accomplish the impossible moving in the right direction. This just not only makes more mutants relevant and important but also fits right in with the book’s core premise, and all of the gears that are required to make that engine work remain intriguing. The main point of interest though is in the people that make it run, and Angel and Monet continue to be compelling leads, though the supporting cast is also starting to come into its own. Multiple Man might just be the MVP of this book though, mostly because of his, at least for now, love it or. hate it nature. It feels like you’re supposed to feel some empathy for him here, but frankly, I wasn’t sold on it, though that could also be the point. Perhaps you’re supposed to be conflicted, and if that’s the case job well done because someone making the choices he’s making just doesn’t sit well with, though perhaps that is because I too have struggled in the balancing of work and home. It resonates with me, but a story that can tug on those strings and immerse you are signs it’s doing its job. The team of Valentine De Landro and Sunny Gho are well suited to this story, and while at times the palette is just a bit muted for my tastes, it is in keeping with the whole X-Corp vibe. X-Corp continues to explore mutantkind’s new place in the world in interesting ways and from an angle that feels fresh and full of intrigue, and I’m quite enjoying the ride. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #1

If you were curious about how the rest of the world might react to the something like the events of Stephen King’s The Mist, writer Ed Brisson and artist Damian Courceiro seem to be channeling that in Beyond the Breach. This new horror story deals with inter-dimensional monsters that suddenly appear and begin eating people, that’s basically it. Issue one didn’t offer much by way of an interesting lead character but the tease of its monsters and what their deal is does offer promise. Couceiro has a blast making these beasts seem gnarly and vicious though, gleefully exhibiting the carnage and gore that comes from their bite radius on bellies. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3 out of 5

Despite carrying the most extraordinary of faces, Black Hammer: Visions #6 tells the tale of Cthu-Lou, the most ordinary of men. This whole visions anthology has been relatively removed from anything resembling the main Black Hammer storyline, but this tale from Cullen Bunn and Malachi Ward might just be the furthest removed. It dips its toes into horror before pivoting to slapstick comedy, and the end result is a satisfactory one-shot that further fleshes out one of the Black Hammer world’s most unique characters. At the end of the day, you can probably take it or leave it, but like many others in this line of storytelling, you don’t need any additional Black Hammer knowledge before hopping in. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

More than merely being a creepy premise about a supernatural being in a bunny mask, this second issue in the series helps establish more of the chemistry between our two protagonists, as they use their past trauma to connect with one another in ways others couldn’t imagine. Of course, this seems to trigger even more manifestations of the creature, resulting in disturbing experiences that might confirm what they thought they only imagined was more real than ever. Blurring the line between imagination and reality, Bunny Mask‘s biggest strength is how it leans into nightmare logic not only with its narrative, but also in its art, with each panel and encounter being surrounded in a mysterious haze and muted tones. While it might only be two issues in, this series is shaping up to be quite promising in all its creepy glory. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

DIE builds towards its finale by revealing Sol’s “hidden backstory” when he was stranded in the world of the game. It’s a heartbreaking story, especially with the revelation that his best friend Ash believed herself responsible for his death when she paused during the ritual to escape from the world in the first place, a selfish action caused by her belief that the game allowed her to be something closer to her true self. Everything about this comic is heartbreaking and somber, and I’m wondering how the creative team will deliver even more sadness in its final two issues. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 5 out of 5

Just when I think I know where Eve is going, it zigzags into something else—and the series, as a whole, is better off for it. This installment provides some fascinating new details for the world Eve is traversing, introduces new allies and adversaries, and ends with a twist that takes the series into a whole other sci-fi realm. All the while, Victor LaValle crafts a narrative that is heartfelt and fascinating, which will surely tug on the heartstrings of readers of all ages. Jo Mi-Gyeong’s art and Brittany Peer’s colors give it all an earthy and grounded feel, even as the series only grows more and more fantastical. If Eve can maintain this momentum, it just might be one of 2021’s standout indie books. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 4 out of 5

The final issue in the series is yet another standalone tale of a troubled clown and the depressing struggles he faces in his life, forcing him to question whether there really is any joy in existence after all. The conclusion of this anthology does feature hints at the previous stories and a giant Easter egg regarding one of the most famous fictional clowns in history, all of which contextualize not only this specific story, but also the installments that came before it. This final chapter isn’t necessarily superior to any of the stories that came before it, with audiences likely to connect more strongly with some narratives than others, yet it does manage to wrap up the entire concept of HAHA in an effective and fulfilling way, sending the series out the disturbing, enlightening, and entertaining note that we have come to expect from the twisted premise. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #2

Once readers are ready to overlook the many odd and unexplained juxtapositions of history and fantasy, they are still left to read a comic that feels very much like the adaptation of someone’s D&D campaign. Like stories told by friends in the midst of dungeon crawls, most moments in Helm Greycastle should be accompanied by the editor’s note: You had to be there. That having been said, Helm Greycastle #3 does work to clearly reestablish its plot, characters, and outcomes in a fashion that allows the story to be coherent, if not compelling. Confused identities become a crucial issue here for protagonist and antagonist alike, but the lack of connection between Helm’s homeworld and New Azteca leaves both revelations with little meaning. If following the story is the goal, then it’s mission accomplished for Helm Greycastle, but caring will require a lot more knowledge about why any of this has occurred. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

The mystery is the thing in The House of Lost Horizons. Sarah Jewell and Marie Therese are charming enough leading women, but they serve as guides through the setting, characters, and supernatural landscape on display; without an ongoing series of murders there’s little reason to pay them attention. All of which is to say that The House of Lost Horizons #3 is about as satisfying as the middle chapters of any solid detective novel—intriguing at points, providing plenty of space for theorizing, and enough action to keep the plot progressing. As a single issue, it’s not terribly satisfying as the best it can hope to achieve is to interest readers in what follows. There are opportunities in this particular setting, an expansive Victorian mansion isolated on an island and filled with occult artifacts, to enhance the ongoing introduction of clues, but the house’s interiors remain surprisingly unadorned and the storytelling style around it direct. This mystery seems to be have been better crafted for the collection to follow than these serialized installments. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

The Invincible Red Sonja #3 is an improvement over the previous issue. There is no real change in the art – again, this is a book drawn heavily for the idea of the male gaze, which is in keeping with the character but even at that not done especially well—but the story develops a bit more interest as Sonja tries to lure out the person who has a bounty on her head and, at the same time, another figure seeks to bring that same player into things for their own purposes. The general pacing of the book seems a little uneven and generally the characters don’t rise much above almost cartoonish caricature, but there’s a bit more kick to this issue and the introduction of a few layers of mystery certainly offer a bit more intrigue to push things forward. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Anne Bonny’s return in A Man Among Ye #6 is an eventful one, though perhaps not as triumphant as our pirate protagonist would hope. Anne’s always been resourceful and brash, but she never seemed careless. Perhaps she’s gotten comfortable after her success in the first arc, a new state of mind that’d only be disappointing if it wasn’t addressed further at some point in the storyline. Brief spats of action show that the fierceness of Anne and her party at least hasn’t diminished, though I’ll hope that their unique traits are emphasized more later on as Mary’s are. — Tanner Dedmon

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Not going to lie, I never really saw Zedd as a character with much depth. I mean, the visual is what makes him so iconic, but when you scratch further than the surface, there hasn’t been much there. That’s slowly but surely changed over the course of Mighty Morphin, and that transformation continues in issue #9, including a riveting conversation between Zedd and Zelya that pretty much hooked me for issue #10 instantly. Ryan Parrott applied the same approach to Tommy and Matt and unearthing a more confident and assertive Matt while also checking a bit of Tommy’s ego and watching the sparks fly when those two forces meet. The same can be said for Zordon, as we’re seeing a real deconstruction of the infallible leader and mentor labels so often tied to the character, and the chaos that surrounds him and all of the Rangers is really what makes this book sing each and every month. Oh, and if we can get the pure delight that is the Squatt running scene from Marco Renna, Walter Baimonte, Katia Ranalli, and Sara Antonellini every issue, we will all be the better for it. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

A majority of the book’s first half unfolds as a werewolf tears through town, causing all sorts of chaos and fully embracing the book’s more horror-oriented themes, while the back half shows the aftermath of these encounters, as well as all the major players making their moves to achieve all of their own objectives. The werewolf adventures are gruesome, disturbing, and compelling, making for some of the most excitement and unsettling scenes in the book in quite some time, all while falling within the overall look and tone of Moonshine. In this respect, the first half is worth the price of admission, while the back half serves more as a way to set the stage for the upcoming final issues of the series, so while not as exciting as the first half, it helps prepare the reader for the upcoming and expected double-crossing and bloodshed. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

The concept of Moths remains cool, but concepts can only take you so far. It’s an okay story without much to write home about in the way of interesting dialogue or narration, and the art gives off some strong uncanny valley vibes. Nothing is necessarily bad, but it just doesn’t all fit or work well together. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Other Publishers #3

Ninjak‘s impressive style and sense of storytelling follows through the rest of the issue as consequences pour down upon MI-6 agents and Ninjak’s course is set. Assassinations taking an entire page or a single panel are similarly impressive. What’s best, however, is returning to the text for a second and third reading allowing the dialogue on the page to drop away. Knowing the details it’s difficult to resist simply following the story, especially when Ninjak is turning the table on anti-democratic thugs. The reading experience is effortless, even if crafting it was anything but. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Scout’s latest horror comic does a good job of setting the stage, with an interesting concept and art that works in painting the spooky nature of the world. While the series itself is off to a strong start, the ending is so abrupt that it rips you out of the preview issue itself. This is apparently part of Scout’s “Non-Stop Line” that will see a debut issue released, followed by the complete story, but this issue ends in a conversation between two characters that kills the mood for the events that took place prior. It’s impossible not to notice it and while it is an experiment, it is one that makes the issue fall flat on its face. –Evan Valentine

Rating: 2 out of 5

Though the charm of Gaiman’s version of the fairy tales begins to wane as the issue carries on but by the end of this issue’s tale its hilarious conclusion makes the build-up worth it and proves his mastery as a storyteller. P. Craig Russell, who penned the comic’s script and layouts, gets points for delivering a medium-friendly punchline in the final pages. Artist Matt Horak does fine work with the simplicity of the stories, taking things to an unexpected place in its final moments, but the basic quality of the art doesn’t elevate these stories much beyond their prose form. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3 out of 5

After slowing things down a bit for a couple of issues, Orcs has delivered an action-packed installment that is filled with witty banter and great character moments. My only issue with this book is that there’s almost a bit too much happening at some moments. It becomes a bit hard to follow and the art from panel to panel on some pages is a bit jarring transition-wise. Still, this is one of the more coherent issues of Orcs so far and finally ties together many of the plot threads that have been lingering since the first book. For now, Orcs seems like it’s going to go on a hiatus, but when it starts back up, the series will be in a good spot moving forward. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4 out of 5

At last, Rangers of the Divide gets to the point it can add that needed character work between Frost, the Commander, and Brandt. Intertwined with that development is a stellar action sequence Huang does exceptionally well pacing and plotting. This world finally starts to get fleshed out a little more with the introduction of towns and regions, but it may be too late—the finale is supposed to come August 18th. This book is definitely heading the direction it needs to go to become a solid sci-fi entry, but it may be an issue or two too late. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Rick and Morty: The Hotel Immortal takes the reader back to the Immortality Field Resort (Season 3, Episode 5) to poke fun at a subgenre the show hasn’t gotten to yet—murder mysteries. At first it feels like it might directly spoof Knives Out, but that’s quickly abandoned once Rick spends a few pages quickly solving the murder. Like every Rick and Morty comic the writing can’t quite match the show’s pacing or delivery, but there are more than a few lines that feel right at home with some of the funnier episodes. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

Savage Hearts has the potential to be really funny. The comic is essentially supposed to be a romantic comedy centering around a flamboyant jungle creature that is trying to win the heart of a straight-faced barbarian woman. The premise is something that I find to be enjoyable, but this first issue struggles to find its footing outside of this general narrative structure. Most of the writing and jokes fell flat for me and the world itself is a confusing one to understand. I can see Savage Hearts getting quite better as the series moves forward, but for now, I wish this first chapter did more to capitalize on its premise. — Logan Moore

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Other Publishers #4

Comic Reviews - Ninjak #1
(Photo: Valiant Entertainment)

For being a four-issue mini, Secret Land is moving at a crawl. Tonally, it’s a bizarre mix between a classic noir spy thriller, a pulp adventure, sci-fi, and horror. Even then, the last two don’t peak step into the fray until this issue’s closing two pages. The is just beginning to warm up, with the last two or three pages finally taking this title above a subtle simmer. It’s far from a jam-packed action blockbuster of a comic, but it does have tones of the stories of yesteryear. If you can stomach the snail’s crawl of a pace, the scripted intrigue and artwork should be enough to tide you over at least one more month. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

When all of the pieces come together, Seven Secrets is one of the slickest and most thrilling books around, and look no further for evidence than Seven Secrets #10. Sure there is the threat of betrayal, but it’s utilized differently here and is treated more like just another challenge to solve by a pragmatic team of spies and agents rather than the carrot of suspense it has been in the past. Tom Taylor does an amazing job of keeping the pace moving and the adrenaline-filled spy thrills coming without sacrificing the emotional beats that are so important to the series, and Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Biamonte, and Katia Ranalli deliver a stunning issue that pops with color and personality. Throw in the continued tension the secrets themselves present and the aforementioned betrayal tease and you have yourself a mixture that simply cannot be beaten. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Silver Coin is a series that could easily fall into a comfortable rhythm with different writers providing a wide array of horror homages for one of modern comics’ best artists, except The Silver Coin #4 makes it clear this is a series with more ambition than providing an excellent anthology (no minor feat, already). Writer Jeff Lemire’s chapter leaps almost 500 years into humanity’s future—a dystopian affair that readers of 2000 A.D. will quickly recognize. Many of the most terrifying moments in the issue occur before the eponymous object ever arrives to introduce elements of supernatural terror. Lemire and Walsh’s vision of what comes next compounds existing problems as cities are built into shelters, the natural world decays beyond recognition, and authoritarian forces run wild. Those themes combined with some nerve-rending images of body horror create an incredibly compelling introduction to what comes next, and then the coin arrives. For the first time an issue ends without a definitive ending and yet the promise of further exploration (whether or not it will be with the same characters) is clearly present. The Silver Coin #4 reflects in its visuals and setting how technology compounds problems, including supernatural horror. The collision of humanity’s very real, modern demons with its most potent imagined ones creates a compelling invitation to see what comes next, and I already know I’m ready to discover every year upon this terrifying timeline. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

You don’t see car chases like this in comics very often; it’s a once or twice per year type of thing and every reader doubting this assessment based upon Chris Schweizer’s surprising minimalist style is a damn fool. Tad Haycroft’s introduction would have been memorable enough with some gutbusting lines during Trigger’s will reading, but his turn behind the wheel produces a genuinely outstanding sequence in which objects and action are perfectly placed on the page to convey every twist along the road. That same degree of excellence can be observed in fight sequences as well, including a particularly excellent collection of small panels showcasing Komodo throwing fists with a set of imposing triplets. It would be enough for The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton to be one of the funniest funny books on the stands in 2021, but it also features fight and car choreography that serves as a masterclass in comics storytelling. Combine those laughs and thrills, and you have a must-read comic on your hands assuming one doesn’t mind a bit of funny business. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

While it’s a middle chapter in the current story arc, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #119 feels, in a way, like the beginning of a climactic moment in Sophie Campbell’s run. Seeing the entire Hamato clan, spectra Shredder, and the Turtles’ students rally around Sally Pride as she challenges Hob politically only for violence to ensue due to outside interference brings together the many threads Campbell has been weaving over the past 18 issues. Nelson Daniel’s loose, cartoon-like artwork fits the subject matter well, and when someone gets hit in the face, Daniel knows how to make the reader feel it with outsized impact and reactions. These are well-earned moments, and readers will be eager to see things escalate in the coming issues. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Transformers #32 follows Jetstream into an alternate universe (at least, that’s what she thinks it is) where Exarchon, the Three-Fold Spark, won the civil war that preceded this series, came became ruler of Cybertron. Anna Malkova and Angel Hernandez split the art duties. One artist handles the alternate universe story while the other draws the main timeline (the credits don’t specify which artist handles which section, but alt-universe look more like Hernandez’s work while the latter pages seem to be Maklova’s work). In the alt-universe, the artwork suffers from poor inking. Everything appears to be on the same plane, rendered with the same heavy lines, resulting in compositions that are busy, chaotic, and hard to parse. Once the issue returns to the main timeline, the linework is much thinner, tighter, and more precise. The script suffers many of the same problems that have plagued the series from its start, primarily dry, jargon-heavy dialogue. However, writer Brian Ruckley using this “alternate universe” trip to both provide some new context to characters’ backstories while at the same time foreshadowing what’s to come is a clever trick. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2 out of 5

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