Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 1/4/2023 – ComicBook.com

By Chase Magnett
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 Scarlet Witch #1, Batman #131, and Mosley #1.
Also, in case you were curious, our ratings are simple: we give a whole or half number out of five; that’s it! If you’d like to check out our previous reviews, they are all available here.
To say that Chip Zdarsky has been doing an incredible job on this Batman run would be a little bit of an understatement. His first batch of issues building up the threat of Failsafe and ultimately culminating in a wild cliffhanger at the end of Batman #130, which left the fate of Gotham’s hero an explosive question mark, were thrilling and introspective in a way that brought a freshness to the title without sacrificing any of the familiarity of the iconic character. The issues were, in a very tangible way, a fine example of how you do a dark Batman story without succumbing to too much darkness. This week’s Batman #131 picks up from that cliffhanger and plunges the story deeper into the darkness. While it’s a move that might feel like it operates counter to the idea of balance Zdarsky created up to now, the result is an intriguing detour from what Batman fans might expect even if this first installment is a little slow to get off the ground. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Let’s be clear – Dark Knights of Steel #9 is a fantastic comic, one filled with the same great twists and unexpected surprises as in past issues. The artwork is fantastic, the story is amazing, and it’s only crime is being too short and making me wait a month for another issue. However, while the reveal of the “true” enemy was fantastically done, I do feel it somewhat undermines the more violent nature and gritty fantasy established in previous issues. The twist makes sense – Superman wouldn’t try to kill Batman in any world, so the revelation that the El family weren’t a bunch of psychopaths hiding behind a veneer of nobility makes sense, but honestly I liked the idea that the all-powerful aliens could wipe out humanity if they wanted. The comic moves a step away from the dark fantasy genre it had embraced up until this point and I think that may turn some readers off. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 4 out of 5
The “One Minute War” is an absolutely ingenious idea, not just in showing why the speedsters of the DCU are different from their fellow heroes, but also, how they function as a family. Adams continues his rock solid run on the West family while he is joined by artist Roger Cruz for this new chapter as the Scarlest Speedsters and their fellow fast runners face a threat that also moves at hyper-speed, making them the last and only defense. It’s an interesting premise with a compelling preliminary issue and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 4 out of 5
The first half of Gotham City: Year One laid familiar foundations, utilizing both the noir genre and notable figures from Batman lore to lay out a mystery much like the Lindbergh kidnapping with the poignant trappings of post-War boom America with Slam Bradley as its Hammett-like protagonist. Gotham City: Year One #4 is where the series reveals its true ambitions after revealing the infant corpse of Helena Wayne. That headline smashes across page one and the issue never relents as Slam is put through the ringer by police before being worked over by other interested parties. It’s apparent even in the artwork that this issue is altering expectations as the action is looser than Hester and Gapstur’s typically tight lines and when paired with Bellaire’s flat colors redounds to their collective credit; every impact feels violent on the page. This also serves to question the myth of a “better Gotham” as the price paid by some citizens is made clear in nearly every sequence. Even in the midst of genre-fueled, melodramatic moments, there’s a snarling reminder of ugliness that makes the entire affair too wild to avert one’s eyes. The reminders of how this story suggests a different origin for Bruce Wayne would be obnoxious if not for how King’s penchant in naming Gotham streets suggests a metatextual reading of this affair. Gotham City: Year One began as an impressive genre riff, but has transformed itself into a critique of American history, class, and perhaps the comic book industry in an impressive mid-series twist. When the final page of issue #4 arrives, it’s abundantly clear this ought to be a series everyone is talking about before it ends. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I think this is my favorite issue of the Joker series that has delved into the madman’s mind recently to date. The idea of the Clown Prince of Crime having free rein inside of a hospital is scary enough on its own, but is only extrapolated when Joker finds himself hiding from the police inside a room with several terminal children. Rosenberg is able to capture the insanity, menace, and jovial nature of the Joker all at the same time here, with this issue having stellar main and side stories to boot. The supporting story gives us a hilarious and horrifying tale wherein a Zatana spell goes wrong and gives us a Joker as a father that has to be read to be believed. From when this series was first introduced in the precursor to The Man Who Stopped Laughing it was hard to think of how a Joker series might work but this latest issue shows how the Harlequin of Hate can hold his own with a solo title. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I truly wish more comics were like this particular issue of Poison Ivy. Wilson’s run has, largely, been a series of vignettes where we get snapshots of the experience of living in this world at this moment in time and while some issues have deviated from that to pull together some semblance of a plot – the overall title shines best when we see Ivy being forced to confront humanity, both her own and that of others, and in the process forces the reader to truly see the world. This issue tackles a whole host of issues in our society: corporate greed, health care, the abuse of the working class, the environmental nightmare, etc. There isn’t much action here. This is mostly an issue that dwells in social commentary and reflection, but it’s deeply important and something we don’t get often enough in comics like this. The art here is really lovely as well and the colors, as always are perfection. I particularly love the idea that there is beauty in acknowledging the horrors of our reality and a gorgeousness and finding humanity in unexpected places. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 5 out of 5
Sword of Azrael delivers an impressive finale that provides readers with a satisfying narrative conclusion but is bound to leave them looking for more. The final battle between Azrael and Sariel makes use of the many forms both of the rivals have taken throughout the series, utilizing that spectrum of visual specificity to allow the flaming swords and bloodshed to leave a tremendous impression on the page. There are no loose ends in this tightly scripted climax with each of the surviving characters receiving a notable denouement, most surprisingly Vengeance who provides both pathos and comedy. Watters and his collaborators have performed impressive work in Sword of Azrael and related stories to differentiate and clarify Jean-Paul’s story from the Batman story he’s best known for; they make a stirring case for exploring this unexpectedly splendid blend of Catholicism, New Gods, and Batman lore. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
If nothing else, The Avengers #64 previews what appears to be the saga’s endgame as the Multiversal Masters of Evil are challenged on an ancient Earth; the final page suggests a conclusion is in sight. Beyond that sense of inevitability, there’s little else in the issue to discern itself from the chaotic climax crossing over with Avengers Forever. Heroes and villains, in forms both iconic and resembling a special edition trading card, are smashed together and a small handful fall. There’s little enough invested in any individual as characters that there’s no space for reaction. While the stakes are established to be multiversal, there’s little reason for readers to care unless they seriously believe Marvel Comics might pack up shop when this is over. Each villain defeated and each hero sacrificed are significant only in the sequence where they meet their fate as there’s nothing to make them sympathetic or anything more than facsimiles to project sprawling superhero action upon. Given the many alternatives available, that simply is not enough. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
After going off the grid for five days and finding themselves scattered to the wind as New York falls under AIM control, Steve Rogers calls upon an… acquaintance to figure out the full extent of what they’re facing. Like other issues of Sentinel of Liberty, this comic presents a problem and solves it a bit too quickly. While the comic could have played out the missing days a bit more, they choose to skip the drama and cut right to the resolution. It undercuts a pretty cool idea once again, which has been a flaw of the series since the opening pages. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 3 out of 5
It’s easy to forget how well Captain Marvel and the X-Men fit together, but “Revenge of The Brood” has been a welcome reminder of just how delightful their adventures can be. The characters shine in Kelly Thompson’s hands, delivering all the snappy banter you expect while also having their distinct power sets and personalities utilized in creative ways. They play off each other so well, both in and out of battle, and when it is time for a throwdown, artist Sergio Davila, colorists Arif Prianto and Yen Nitro, inker Sean Parsons, and letterer Clayton Cowles are at their best. The lettering is especially stellar, giving Carol’s powers a true sense of impact and awe, though it’s hard for Laura’s scenes not to steal the whole show. As for The Brood, they are sufficiently creepy and make you want to check every corner of your house afterward, so mission accomplished. This latest adventure has been wonderfully thrilling, and it is only getting better from here. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The final issue of Fantastic Four prologue arrives with its attention on Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. By the end of this installment, readers will have little doubt that writer Ryan North knows how to depict the oft-vacuous hothead of the team in a story that displays their humor, charm, and innate sense of good. His battles with labor abuses frame him with a Robin Hood-like sensibility, even if the story itself doesn’t consider the ramifications of its premise or solution. Artist Iban Coello proves that their talents are perhaps best suited to the Torch with flames flowing about his form consistently suggesting motion and shifts in power. There’s clarity within the fluid quality of Coello’s work that makes relatively low-stakes action sequences still exciting. Callbacks to the depths of Fantastic Four continuity provide another reminder that this series is set to provide a robust and encompassing saga for its titular heroes… as soon as they all appear. –– Chase Magnett
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
It’s difficult to fault a new series for being overtaken by a crossover after its very first issue, but the overlap between “Dark Web” and establishing Norman Osborn’s demons as the Gold Goblin proves to be too much for Gold Goblin #3. There are plenty of individual elements that suggest future dividends, especially Norman’s evolving relationships with his own family and others he’s harmed, including Jack O’Lantern. Yet detailing the events of a Limbo incursion in the midst of a child’s birthday while a half dozen other events are addressed proves too cumbersome and results in many awkward or accelerated transitions. The absolute lack of definition about Norman’s missing “sins” also proves mystifying as one of the series’ core premises is treated as obvious without ever being established, especially given that it seems Norman didn’t lose anything, he simply gained a sense of empathy and guilt. Gold Goblin remains a clunky read, but with the demands of “Dark Web” out of the way, it may still find its destination. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
After a years-long hiatus, Peter David reunites with Joe Fixit in his very own self-titled book. The only problem is, the writer uses Spider-Man more than the eponymous character. So much more, in fact, one might think this were a Spider-Man book if you didn’t happen to see the cover. That said, this team has laid the groundwork for a sizable crime thriller pitting Mr. Fixit against Kingpin and in between them is one Peter Parker, just trying to enjoy his Vegas vacation. The script moves along quickly, and Cinar’s lineart is the perfect combination of 90s era Fixit goodness with an added modern-day sheen. Still, it’s evident this book doesn’t really know what it wants to be just quite yet. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 3 out of 5
Marauders #10 gets back to being far too chaotic for its own good. The art in this series has always been fine when it comes to character models and landscapes, but action is something that it’s never done well. That proves to be true once again in this latest installment, which feels like an absolute mess from almost beginning to end. Until Marauders can learn how to more carefully mesh storytelling with action set-pieces, I have a hard time recommending this series. — Logan Moore
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Worldbreaker continues to explore the new world of Sakaar, showing us what She-Hulk has been up to while further diving into the mind of Amadeus Cho. While this latest issue further explores the playing field as Jennifer Walters is forced to make a tough choice while spending nearly a decade in a terrifying role, Banner’s shadow looms large as this story focuses more on the sins of the past and attempting to make right with the decisions that each of the “Gamma Family” has made in the past. This issue feels a tad weaker than previous installments that came before but only slightly so. Pak is clearly firing on all cylinders with this return to Planet Hulk and I’m looking forward to seeing what the writer has in store. –Evan Valentine
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
From the second this Scarlet Witch series was first announced, it was clear that it would be something distinct – not only Wanda’s first (well-deserved) solo book in nearly a decade, but the first title to reckon with how she has been interpreted on the big screen. The team of Steve Orlando, Sara Pichelli, and company take that task and have fun with it, crafting a timeless and spellbinding look at Wanda’s new status quo. It’s an understatement to say that Wanda has a legacy—on the page, screen, and otherwise—like no other, and Scarlet Witch #1 is an excellent addition to that. — Jenna Anderson
Rating: 5 out of 5
The cliffhanger at the end of Secret Invasion #2 has proven to be far less compelling than I had hoped for. Rather than this series continuing to keep me guessing about where it could be going next, Secret Invasion #3 opts to answer many lingering questions about who has been compromised and who hasn’t. And while these revelations are unexpected, I find myself instead generally confused and baffled by some of the character decisions that have set this story into motion. Even though it shares the same name, this new version of Secret Invasion isn’t living up to its predecessor whatsoever so far. — Logan Moore
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Master of the Ten Rings wraps up Gene Luen Yang’s recent run of Shang-Chi wraps up in an enjoyable manner. While it’s hard to bring about an end to many of the story threads that have been building in various Shang-Chi comics over the past year or two in a single issue, Master of the Ten Rings does a fantastic job of reshaping the titular character’s own morals and beliefs. On its own, Master of the Ten Rings isn’t the best Shang-Chi comic I’ve read, but it serves as a nice epilogue of sorts. –– Logan Moore
Rating: 4 out of 5
I’m somewhat conflicted on Spider-Man #4, as its biggest weakness is also the source for the issue’s most intriguing hooks. “End of the Spider-Verse” part four shines brightest when it’s focused on people trying to make the most out of difficult circumstances, specifically two people in this case, those being Anya and Felicia. These two are just fantastic together, playing off each other’s style and personality in the midst of a vintage Indiana Jones-style adventure. Meanwhile, artist Mark Bagley, inkers John Dell and Andrew Hennessy, colorist Edgar Delgado, and letterer Clayton Cowles are on their absolute A-game during these sequences, and frankly, I would have just read an entire issue with this duo at the center. The book loses a bit of steam when it shifts to Shathra, but credit to writer Dan Slott, who pulls you right back in with two big hooks, including one that opens up all sorts of possibilities with video game-related characters. It’s one of those that after I read it I went ‘yeah, that’s brilliant’. When we’re in the midst of the Spider-Verse but keeping the focus on two of the more delightful characters, the issue rocks, and when the book hits you with a Spider-Verse twist you aren’t expecting, it rocks. When things are just moving around and setting plot points, it’s just not that interesting, and hopefully, Spider-Man #5 can find that sweet spot and balance things out. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 3 out of 5
After using the Path engine, Luke, Leia, Lando, and crew find themselves in No-Space, which is just as mysterious as it sounds. After various figures make their presence known to our heroes, we learn that there is a threat more ominous than the Galactic Empire, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine. It’s hard to find new storytelling avenues in the galaxy far, far away, as there are only so many ways the Rebels can evade the Empire and deliver minimal amounts of setbacks to the fascist organization, with this issue of Star Wars feeling like it’s actually breaking new ground. Between the look of the book and narrative reveals, it feels like a weirder and wilder book than what we’ve been getting for months, harkening back to ambitious sci-fi stories from the ’70s and ’80s, yet by putting familiar heroes at the forefront, the book still feels authentically Star Wars. There’s surely opportunities in the future for the book to return to more repetitive ground, but this chapter surely has us excited for the more bizarre and unconventional paths ahead of us. — Patrick Cavanaugh
Rating: 4 out of 5
Building off of what was far and away their best issue of Ultraman, writers Kyle Higgins and Mat Groom have brought the latest series in for a landing with another great issue. Though an expectation of kaiju smashing and giant fists punching is present, Higgins and Groom have managed to make an issue about isolation and emotional vulnerability one of their best. Credit is also due to artist Davide Tinto and colorist Espen Grundetjern who have elevated an action-light script by making it visually engaging throughout. The series also has the good sense of teasing what’s to come, and those eager for the punches should be excited. — Spencer Perry
Rating: 4 out of 5
While readers may find the immediate aftermath of X-Force #36, which ended with Beast in shackles and a genuinely horrifying black site prison exposed, to be anti-climactic, that disappointment won’t last through the end of an impressive issue that shifts X-Force into a very promising gear. The immediate aftermath is overlooked in order to reflect a new status quo as the team prepares for another mission. That mission and its discoveries make for a tightly paced spy thriller with well-coordinated action sequences and some delightful bits of gore. Where it leads feels like a culmination of events that have been ongoing for three years of this series, and the future plans of Xeno promise the best may still be ahead for X-Force. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Whilce Portacia returns to X-Men—and his creation, Lucas Bishop—in X-Men: Legends, teaming with writer Brian Haberlin and colorist Arif Prianto to tell the story of what happened to Bishop before he stepped through that time portal in Uncanny X-Men #282. The story is thematically complex. Bishop views the X-Men as gods, but they view him as a barbarian from the future because of his methods. It’s ironic since Bishop’s XSE, a fully-sanctioned mutant police force, can be seen as the natural end-stage evolution of the X-Men’s charter to self-police mutantkind. But even in Bishop’s future, the police and prison system are shown to be the tools of the powerful, contrasted visually with the dormant Sentinels, living relics of weaponized hate given a mandate to police certain kinds of people, supposedly for the safety of others. Simultaneously, the rank and file officers of the XSE seem ignorant of the evils they help uphold, even simple working-class folk who are as held down by the bureaucrats at the top as the people they police, on top of Bishop calling himself the villain of the story. Where our sentiments should lie is muddled somewhat, but in fascinating ways that will hopefully play out satisfyingly as the story continues. And, of course, Portacio drawing the X-Men again is a welcome sight, even if the muted colors more weigh down than ground his style. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
X-Men: Red #10 lands a series of stunning climaxes as Storm faces off against Vulcan while Abigail Brand’s conspiracy culminates, colliding with one perhaps even more potent along the way. The staging of these events is genuinely impressive given the number of characters and political intrigues in play, but each sequence serves its purpose with clarity never harrying the quick pace and impressive displays of power and spycraft. The variety of different settings allow for each new step of the issue to read as a dramatic change of pace, and every aspect delivers specific rewards. In the wake of Magneto’s death and the harrowing of Arrako, it was difficult to imagine how X-Men: Red could top itself so quickly, but it does so in X-Men: Red #10 before promising to do it again very soon. Arrako could not be in better hands. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 5 out of 5
Focusing more heavily on violence and action in this issue, The Approach embraces derivative dialogue and unsettling imagery not out of any sort of laziness, but as a way of using shorthand to get to the more impressive visual storytelling unfolding. This chapter might not be delivering anything exceptionally original, more that it honors its inspirations of Stephen King and John Carpenter in its blend of isolation, claustrophobia, and monstrous mayhem. Even if it doesn’t feel wholly original, the book still offers a compelling and thrilling adventure, leaving us optimistically looking forward to what mysteries the book’s future could unveil. — Patrick Cavanaugh
Rating: 4 out of 5
Our time traveling assassin is having a pretty rough go of it, thanks to Christopher Columbus and his crew. Tad may be smart and filled with information from the future, but he’s having a hard time completing his mission. Perhaps Tad’s finally accepting that action, and not words, is how he can save his people and the future. I am hoping that Tad is able to get some payback on the ship crew that has been beating on him the last couple of issues. — Tim Adams
Rating: 3 out of 5
Bravo on an excellent last page reveal there, team. It may be the wholesomeness of the characters or their friendship built on brotherhood, but I am enjoying the story that’s being told. I especially liked Javi opening up and telling Scott his insecurities. It’s something we don’t see a lot of in comics, and if we do it can be quickly overlooked, so I wanted to highlight it. — Tim Adams
Rating: 5 out of 5
After the stunning battle that took place in Kaya #3, issue #4 is left to pick up the pieces and showcase Wes Craig’s dextrous storytelling talents as the narrative shifts gears with seemingly every sequence. Between snippets of dialogue there’s communion with divine forces and the revelation of dark conspiracies with stylistic shifts distinguishing each new facet of this wondrous world. The action at the conclusion plays like prelude, but justifies another smashing splash of the heroine Kaya before leaving readers tensely anticipating the arrival of issue #5. It’s clear that there will never be a dull beat in the pages of Kaya. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
While reading Magic: The Gathering #22, I’m struck by how small Magic‘s supposedly infinite multiverse feels. Despite the limitless possibilities, the myriad planes, whatever this small band of planeswalkers seeks consistently resides on one of the relative handful of planes they’ve visited in the past. That may not be the fault of this particular creative team as much as the price of writing a licensed comic book, where one tends to be bound by what the franchise’s main animator has already established and limited in what else is allowed. That doesn’t alleviate the sense of deja vu as the narrative, once again, takes readers to places they’ve been before. Outside of that, the issue suffers from familiar problems for this series, with inconsistent artwork and plot elements that will be familiar to anyone who knows the recent arc of Magic‘s metastory. At least there is a sense of escalation as the stakes rise and the threats grow, creating the potential for spectacle. If this version of Magic: The Gathering is going to be, essentially, a superhero story in planeswalkers’ clothing, at least the potential for an appropriately epic climax is on the table. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Mosley is the latest from writer Rob Guillory, best known for his work on successful series like Chew and Farmhand, with artist Sam Lofti, who has worked on superhero stories for DC Comics in Doctor Fate and Harley Quinn. With the story, as Guillory puts it, coming from his dislike of the rapid advancement of technology in our modern society, the Boom Studios comic has its fair share of ups and downs as it might have tried to do too much, too fast in its debut outing. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 3 out of 5
Nita Hawes’ Nightmare Blog #11 is just such a good comic. The issue sees Jackie the Ripper on a murderous rampage while Nita, having just been saved from sacrifice in the previous issue, ignores Anansi’s warnings and goes looking for answers, in the process becoming the target herself. What Barnes does best with this book—and with Killadelphia, which is in the same general universe—is the way he divides the story between perspectives. We get Jackie’s perspective and thoughts as juxtaposed against Nita’s own hunt. The result is an installment with perfect pacing as the two storylines converge in a pulse-pounding moment at the end where it all comes together. All of this works along with Szymon Kudranski’s fantastic art and really, this is such a polished, elevated issue that you’ll find ourself reading it a few times trying to pick out details that might help you guess what’s next. It’s just such a damn good issue. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 5 out of 5
Quick Stops #3 hits shelves this week with a wild story about summer camp and NSFW trolls. When a camp minister finds himself preaching about Satan and Transformers, things go haywire with sex is thrown into the mix. A time skip ends up showing readers just how badly crypto can mess up a virgin’s chances at getting laid, but maybe the missed opportunity isn’t everything we’re led to believe…? — Megan Peters
Rating: 4 out of 5
Radiant Pink hit the ground running and thankfully issue #2 keeps the momentum going. Eva is simply delightful as the lead but Kelly brings a welcome contrast, balancing Eva’s humor and quick-to-act nature with a more cautious and even-keeled approach. What I love most though is that writers Meghan Camarena and Melissa Flores don’t paint either one as the person with all the answers. Instead, they take the time to explore the vulnerabilities and lack of experience in both throughout the story. Artist Emma Kubert, colorist Rebecca Nalty, and letterer Becca Carey convey those human moments in compelling ways amidst all the portal-hopping insanity. Speaking of, Eva’s powers lead to a series of entertaining scenarios that beam with life and humor, including a particularly amusing encounter with a sentient slime that had me absolutely rolling. The book’s final pages also leave things in an intriguing place moving forward, but the fight itself doesn’t quite live up to the off-the-wall premise. Despite that, Radiant Pink #2 was a delight, and this series is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the Massive-verse. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rick and Morty Vs. Cthulhu takes a step away from jumping from Lovecraft story to Lovecraft story in favor of a more unified story, one in which the various members of the Smith/Sanchez family find themselves repeatedly manipulated by the assorted Elder Ones. The creative team finds a great balance between showing their love for the Lovecraft stories while appropriately skewering the Cthulhu mythos and showing their disdain for Lovecraft himself. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 4 out of 5
Scotch McTiernan returns in this cautionary tale about how a certain social media conglomerate is doing its damndest to ruin the world as we know it. The political themes are thick any every page but the thicker—ahem, perhaps more dank—is that weed-fueled Scotch McTiernan and his hijinks with a deplorable Santa Claus. For a one-shot Christmas special, this oversized issue has everything you’d need. Even then, the shtick started to run thin by the end. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 3 out of 5
Sonic the Hedgehog #56 is one of the best issues produced by the already-impressive IDW relaunch as it affirms Surge and Kit’s roles as engrossing new anti-heroes in one of the most dramatic issues yet. The six-way showdown between uneasy allies and incidental enemies in a collapsing fortress makes for a thrilling set of action sequences with Evan Stanley’s effective use of dynamic layouts and confident cartooning. Yet the most striking panel in the issue is a single heartbreakingly tragic expression on Surge’s face, enhanced significantly by Reggie Graham’s colors on the overcharged combatant. It’s the sort of moment that’s bound to resonate with readers young and old as the character expresses a tragedy that only becomes more sympathetic with age. It’s an impressive character moment built on a set of characters whose perspectives and motives are all clear, even if Eggman’s will always remain a bit cartoonish. Sonic the Hedgehog has been a winner for IDW since issue #1, but this week suggests that the best days for this long-running series still lie ahead. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Comics fans and creators like to talk about how the medium is like television or film without budget restrictions. It’s a flawed analogy, but Star Trek #3 is a near-perfect test case for it. The issue takes a tried and true Star Trek formula, the Q episode, and presents it in comic book form. What you get is all of the hijinks of a classic Q story, but with his omnipotence on display far beyond what television would ever have allowed. The idea crystalizes in a single page depicting Jake Sisko and T’Lir climbing down the decks of the Theseus. Each floor forms one tier of the layout and holds a new surprise, with the sequence marred slightly by the word balloon placement not matching the flow of the action. As usual, Q’s antics are a test, in this case, one meant to help alleviate Sisko of his cumbersome messiah complex while proving a test of mettle for T’Lir, a new addition to the Star Trek universe. A bit between Captain Sisko and Dr. Crusher bookends the story, putting Lanzing and Kelly’s familiarity with these characters and knack for dialogue on display, as well as guest artist Joe Eisma’s uncanny ability to make every talking head scene compelling with varied panels that match the pace and rhythm of the conversation. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Stillwater #17 is an impressive penultimate issue, managing to both frame the conflicts for the oversized finale to come and make poignant final statements on its characters and metaphor. Hooked into the historical grounding of the Civil War in a place where its violence has come alive in the 21st century, there’s plenty to be said about the nature of North America and how (or whether) it ages in any meaningful fashion. Perhaps the most impressive turn in this installment comes not from the characters who carried this story from the start, but the residents of Coldwater who quickly distinguish themselves in voice and action. There’s a great deal of turmoil in an issue filled with twists, but every noteworthy named character distinguishes themselves with keenly drawn and well written panels. In preparing for the climax, Stillwater #17 builds an impressive degree of momentum bound to keep readers considering both this series’ story and its ideas until the last chapter arrives, especially given its genuinely stunning final page. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Juni Ba, the cartoonist who created Djeliya and Monkey Meat, returns to IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line following his stunning annual in 2022, and he does not disappoint. The Armageddon Game – The Alliance #3 focus on Alopex, who is on the outs with the Turtles after they decide to ally themselves with Shredder. Through one stunning page of colored silhouettes after another, Ba depicts Alopex’s search for a new definition of “home,” contrasting her pre-mutation as life as a fox in the wild with the Turtles’ existence as pets, practically bred to exist in human civilization. Ba’s artwork has a playfulness to it as it depicts scent visually, dabbles in videogame iconography, and delivers a near-literal “f-bomb” in its lettering, all leading to a touching ending as Alopex forms a new pack bond with Angel. That’s undercut somewhat by the backup story, which points out that foxes aren’t pack animals, raising some questions about the story that preceded it. However, the reaction it draws from Alopex feels meaningful, especially with the dramatic artwork from Roi Mercado and William Soares. The Alliance is turning into an all-star artistic showcase from the TMNT universe. Here’s hoping future issues deliver more of the same. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Phew. That’s my honest first reaction after reading something like Trojan, a comic that, on its surface, seems to exist solely to shock and awe the masses. It’s gory, it’s dirty, and at times it’s downright uncomfortable to take in. Luckily it seems like Kraus, Laci, and Lesko have a purpose in place for the griminess that they give you here. A fantasy at heart, Trojan #1 upsets the status quo by introducing the likes of mermaids and faeries into a world reminiscent of the seedy underbelly of a place like Gotham or Coruscant. More importantly, the uncomfortable narrative introduced here makes the story at hand all that more realistic, despite dealing with creatures only found in fairy tales. Regardless, this comic probably isn’t for the faint of heart, that much is for certain. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
While I feel like this sequel series has yet to fully capture the magic of the original Unnatural, this week’s issue heightens the conflict in some unexpected ways. Plot twists are aplenty across this issue, and combined with the reliably consistent art from Ivan Bigarella, it takes the series’ bizarre ensemble into uncharted and emotional territory. At this point, you’re either already on the bandwagon of this series or not, but this is a solid enough reminder of what the franchise is capable of. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3 out of 5
Three issues in, the proverbial wheels of Vampirella vs. Red Sonja are finally beginning to turn. This issue raises the stakes for both Sonja and Vampirella’s roles in this multiversal crisis, and sets up a compelling new conflict in the issues to come. Sure, there are some moments of dialogue that are still a little heavy-handed, especially when the book tries to homage DC’s original Crisis, but the lack of subtlety almost begins to add to the series’ charm. I’m officially excited to see what Dan Abnett, Alessandro Ranaldi, and company do from here. — Jenna Anderson
Rating: 4 out of 5
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