Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 12/21/2022 – 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 Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, Mary Jane & Black Cat #1, and Dead Seas #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.
World’s Finest takes a dark turn in this latest issue, but doesn’t lose any of its quality as a result. Thunder Boy has found himself in the clutches of the Joker and the Key, allowing artist Dan Mora to stretch his legs and depict some mind-bending psychedelics. One of the biggest moments of this latest story is the final page, which plays into one of Mark Waid’s biggest comic stories from the past. Batman/Superman remains the best team-up between the two DC heroes in recent memory and this title is one to watch. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Batman: Urban Legends has been on a roll as of late, and Urban Legends #22 continues that trend with three more stellar adventures in the Batman universe. While Batman has the marquee, the Bat family is at the heart of why this book impresses every month, and that is apparent in “The Director” part one and “The Murder Club” part three. “The Director,” created by the talented team of Jamal Campbell, Adriano Lucas, and Lucas Gattoni, is fast-paced, action-packed, full of snappy banter, and gorgeous, all built around a mysterious and intriguing villain and concept. Likewise, “The Murder Club” by Joey Esposito, Vasco Georgiev, Alex Guimaraes, and Carlos M. Mangual delivers another compelling and hard-hitting chapter that embodies what makes the Bat family so endearing in the first place, and yet also shines a light on Bruce’s legacy. “Arkham Academy” part two by Dennis Culver, Hayden Sherman, Jordie Bellaire, and Pat Brosseau also picks up the pace from its debut, and I find myself hooked on what is happening with this group and how it all turns out. As for “Utility” by Yedoye Travis, Lucas Silver, and Ferran Delgado, I really enjoyed aspects of this story, though the ending didn’t particularly land with me. That said, any flaws in the issue were far outweighed by the successes, and no fan should miss out on how much this series is adding to the Batman universe. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The threat of the “Lazarus Planet” event was already on the horizon, but Batman vs. Robin #4 ushers it in wholeheartedly – and in an enthralling way. Bruce and Damian’s rivalry is taken to an expected, but still entertaining, climax, which Mark Waid’s script spins into a fascinating yarn. When partnered with Mahmud Asrar’s stunning art, Batman vs. Robin is as pulpy and profound as ever. — Jenna Anderson
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
This oversized anniversary issue for Catwoman is the perfect encapsulation of where this run has gone so far. When it works, it does so magnificently, crafting a springy final (for now) conflict between the allies and adversaries in Selina’s orbit. While a little too much of it can be interpreted as overworked—either in an offhand line of dialogue, a shockingly-obvious plot twist, or otherwise—it undeniably sets up a new status quo for the book going forward, and it is filled with snappy art from Nico Leon, Juan Ferreyra, and Inaki Miranda. — Jenna Anderson
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The latest “crisis” event to take over the DC Universe, Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, has reached its Earths-shattering finale. As with most comic book events of this level, Dark Crisis changes the status quo while also setting up the next storylines to run through the DCU in 2023. We already know the “Dawn of DC” is the next big publishing initiative and features new ongoing series for Shazam, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and more, but does Dark Crisis hold up on its own merits? Surprisingly well, in fact, although there aren’t too many big, character-defining moments to be found, even with the teases concerning Nightwing. Those types of moments appear throughout the previous issues, leaving Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 to let the heroes be heroic and the villains to take a big L. — Tim Adams
Rating: 3 out of 5
The finale of All-Out War sets the stage for the upcoming conclusion of DC Vs. Vampires, while quickly concluding its own collection of remaining threads. When Superman finally arrives after being teased all series, the bloody final battle moves with merited velocity and delivers plenty of Johns-ian violence along the way. It’s a familiar mode and collection of last stand tropes that don’t provide much of an emotional response to characters who were hardly ever there; the foster father role of Deathstroke serves best for a dark laugh at the issue’s end. Thankfully, there’s another back-up tale, this time focused on Poison Ivy, that provides a good deal more value as it questions how might a vampiric Ivy behave. It’s brief, direct, and uses the infusion of red in black and white pages to great effect. So there’s something beyond gratuitous superhero bloodshed to provide readers with a thrill before the end of All-Out War. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 3 out of 5
DCeased may have stepped in it by adding Mister Mxyzptlk to its saga. The imp often presents a challenge for any writer who tries to use him as his reality-breaking abilities are so overpowered he has to either be de-powered are cast aside almost as quickly as he arrives. War of the Undead Gods #5 goes the second route by having him to lose Darkseid in laughably quick fashion, causing this series to feel like it has been spinning its wheels for the past few issues. — Connor Casey
Rating: 3 out of 5
Adams and Pasarin continue following Wally and West family, clearly having a firm hold on the dynamic of the Scarlet Speedster and his place in his hometown. What makes this issue work so well isn’t the fight against the Rogues and/or the battle against Mayor Wolfe, but rather, Wally’s ability as the “blue collar superhero” who can relate to his enemies and even share a laugh with them. Adams has found this pitch perfect formula that can harken back to the past of the Flash while also carving out an interesting future, and I hope that Wally and his clan continue helming the book as the Flash continues to outrun any potential mediocrity. — Evan Valentine
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Blue Wall picks up on Renee Montoya’s obsessive pursuit of Two-Face, who she links to a high-tech crime on without evidence. The focus on Montoya, who has spent years rebuilding her life from Two-Face’s obsession with her, is compelling and interesting, especially as she pushes her fellow cops away with potentially harmful consequences. Meanwhile, the trio of rookie cops all face their own struggles dealing with a corrupt and insular institution that seems as much about providing cops with careers as it is protecting the city. This is still a weird comic, but it’s finding its footing more and leaning more into the “Gotham” of the GCPD. — Christian Hoffer
Rating: 3 out of 5
Bridging the gap between story arcs, Nightwing #99 is yet another piece of the proof of how powerful superhero storytelling can be. Taylor and Redondo have done a excellent job throughout their run so far, and another between-arc issue like this goes to show just how seriously they’re taking it. A faux one-shot, Nightwing and Mayor Zucco take on a new threat with ease, further cementing their positions atop the Blüdhaven food chain. As has become standard from this team, the character work done here is second to none, even when Taylor’s script for this one brushes by at a brisk pace. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Stargirl: The Lost Children #1 was one of the month’s most pleasant surprises, and issue #2 meets that same high bar. The themes of Legacy, abandonment and the fear of being forgotten are all concepts ripe for exploration, and Geoff Johns impressively weaves those elements together in a lighthearted but still thought-provoking mystery. The characters at the center of this story allow for a vintage aesthetic that artist Todd Nauck, colorist Matt Herms, and letterer Rob Leigh take full advantage of it, though the book expertly balances those retro vibes with modern sensibilities and storytelling, and I can’t think of a better team to take this book on. At times things can walk a line between being poignant and melodramatic, but more often than not the book avoids the latter, and it has quickly become a book I look forward to each month. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
After being betrayed by their human escorts, the synthetic squadron suffers a devastating lost when confronted with a xenomorph queen, but they aren’t the only ones who see setbacks, as one of the escorts undergoes a horrifying transformation. Easily the most action-packed issue in the series yet, it’s also the most exciting, not only from a literal standpoint, but also a figurative one. To be totally honest, this chapter isn’t exceptional by any means in regards to its narrative, nor is the art particularly thrilling (though some of the more gruesome elements are pretty effective), it’s more that the book introduces some compelling concepts from an overall perspective that builds anticipation not only for the future of this series, but from the overall Alien franchise. The closest comparison is that this book is doing some weird stuff on par with Alien: Resurrection, attempting to deliver something new and fresh, even if weird or not entirely thrilling. We might not care much at this point about any of the human of synthetic characters, but leaving us invested in the book’s future is about all one could ask for in any ongoing series. — Patrick Cavanaugh
Rating: 4 out of 5
The armies gathered across Avengers Forever are unleashed and, while Aaron Kuder capably delivers poster-worthy splash panels filled with detailed renditions of multiversal Avengers, there’s simply nothing present that readers haven’t seen before. Stakes and scale are the standard fare of Big Two events—this isn’t even the first time readers have read similar spectacles this year—and there’s nothing beneath that spectacle to distinguish it. Each recalled force, whether it’s a legion of Howling Commandos composed solely of Steve Rogers or the God of Fists, is provided a moment with no connection or context to make it seem meaningful. Rather, a new problem is introduced with no connection to the multiple series and nearly 100 issues building to this moment, and it’s on to the next page of punching red devils until readers are all told it’s over. Superhero events are often compared to the act of playing with action figures, smashing as many as possible together, before placing them back in their toy chest, but few have had the gall to embrace such a simplistic approach so openly. As a fan of Kuder’s pencils, it’s hard to look away, but there’s simply too little to Avengers Forever to even make this issue or miniseries memorable. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Business is starting to pick up for Black Panther after the revelation of who has been pulling the strings concerning his recent fall from grace. T’Challa has been down bad over John Ridley’s run, but depending on how this run ends could see a turning of the tide. The personal stakes for Black Panther have never been higher, and even though he’s been kicked out of the Avengers, Black Panther still assembles a ragtag team to help him take down Jhai. — Tim Adams
Rating: 4 out of 5
Dark Web: Ms. Marvel delivers readers a typical tie-in bound to please long-time readers of Ms. Marvel and fans of Marvel’s current event “Dark Web” without leaving much of an impression otherwise. The events of this two-issue miniseries follow what happens to Kamala Khan after she finds New York City transformed into Hell (or, rather, Limbo) while interning at Oscorp. It’s an adventure that plays up familiar elements from Ms. Marvel’s lore, including a delightful conversation at her mosque, but there’s little of substance in a story designed for a very specific niche. The stakes may be incredibly low, despite the many animated demonic-objects now wondering Manhattan, but the inclusion of a classic figure from Ms. Marvel provides an angle of some import. The portrayal of Kamala’s powers and quick action ensure that this “Dark Web” issue captures the familiar thrills of a solid Ms. Marvel tale, even if it reads as being a largely insubstantial contribution to a character and event capable of delivering much more. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 3 out of 5
Gold Goblin #2 marks a substantial improvement upon the series’ debut as the focus shifts to Norman’s perspective and motives without simply stating them repeatedly for readers. As his psyche is made to complicate current conflicts, both his good intentions and selfish nature are brought to the fore and suggest the tragedies that still lie ahead. Yet in this moment Norman is given the opportunity to behave heroically and his muddled efforts to combat both his own demons and those summoned in “Dark Web” provide a clearer perspective of the anti-hero. Not all of the sequences connect and there’s often an “and then” sensibility in jumping between tense cliffhangers and the next event that needs to occur, but the individual scenes offer enough variation to intrigue readers, especially the vengeance of Norman’s most recent victim. Multi-faceted conversations with a wide array of ghosts prove more intriguing than a constant barrage of Gwen Stacy’s brittle spine. While elements of the artwork remain rough around the edges, the approach and appeal of Gold Goblin is starting to smooth out. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 3 out of 5
Mary Jane & Black Cat #1 delivers readers a story that functions well on three distinct levels: a short standalone adventure, a thrilling tie-in to “Dark Web,” and, most significantly, the continuation of Felicia Hardy’s rising star at Marvel Comics. A combination of stylish depictions of magic and mayhem, humorous repartee, and well-developed characterizations ensures that the story functions on every level and gives readers plenty of reasons to return for the second half. The only disappointment is that there won’t be a Mary Jane & Black Cat ongoing. Readers in the know will simply have to continue seeking out their ongoing exploits wherever they might appear next. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
This might be the best issue of this series thus far. Pasqual Ferry’s art remains a strong point, but the colors this issue are just exquisite and make the whole issue an experience as Namor and Luke Cage head to Latveria where they’re greeted by a major surprise. There’s a lot of exposition here—it is the necessary nature of this book that we unpack the road to this story even as we’re telling this one—but what works especially well here is how in the process of unpacking the past, we also find ourselves stumbling into a larger question about what Atlantis might really be doing. The seeds are sown here that suggest even Namor could be being betrayed and Christopher Cantwell does a fantastic job of examining the role of Namor’s hubris and passion in his decision making and judgement. This issue is a fantastic examination of Namor as a character. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 5 out of 5
Something interesting about Victor LaValle’s take on Sabretooth is that Victor Creed is not unintelligent. It makes sense. He has, more or less, the same training and field expertise as Wolverine, yet he’s usually shown as feral, impulsive, and unthinking compared to Logan’s code-boned and reserved demeanor. By showing Creed’s intelligence, LaValle emphasizes that indulging Sabretooth’s wild side is a choice. Rather than being bound by any law or code of honor, Sabretooth follows only his impulses and desires. Knowing that is a conscious decision makes it all the more interesting. It also creates tension when he’s cast as the unlikely leader of this band of Krakoan Exiles while in a weakened state, which means relying more on his knowledge to keep himself and the rest of the group alive than on his ferocity. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Other than the art in this issue being a little off—there are some weird angles and distorted facial features and limbs at various points—Spider-Man: The Lost Hunt #2 is a pretty solid issue. We pick up with Peter having seemingly h ad his mental breakdown and Mary Jane trying to figure it all out and end up in a pretty surprising place with the arrival of an unexpected character but what makes it all work is the way the story is layered between Gregor and Mary Jane’s perspectives. The story builds on a parallel track until we get to the near the end and things get very interesting. I do wish the way the issue distinguished between the narratives was a bit more distinct—they really need to do a different color for the text boxes—and the lettering is very bland, but other than that, this is a good and interesting issue. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Jed MacKay’s Strange has been a fun building block toward the next chapter of the character in the Marvel Universe, but Strange #9 proves that this dynamic between Stephen and Clea is one that shouldn’t end. Featuring stellar artwork by Marcelo Ferreira (inks by Roberto Poggi, and colors by Java Tartaglia), Strange #9 is an extended action set piece that showcases not only his ability to distill these beats down into great moments but also in bringing the unique characters of this narrative to life. It seems like Strange as a title will be ending with the next issue but if they could keep the magic going like this issue had its a series that should have run forever. — Spencer Perry
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Killmonger might not have factored into many Black Panther stories of the past couple of years, but Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal in the live-action movie has turned him into a popular character. A story in Wakanda #3 goes back to Killmonger’s early days as a mercenary-for-hire working for Ulysses Klaw. There’s lots of betrayal to be found in this story, with some of the art hard to follow in certain pages once the action picks up. However, Wakanda #3 does get the point across that Killmonger cannot be trusted. — Tim Adams
Rating: 3 out of 5
Beast’s ongoing scheme with Wolverine continues as we see events from Logan’s animalistic perspective. It’s quite the departure from his usual inner monologuing, but its simplistic language mixed with horrifying imagery actually makes Wolverine sympathetic on an even deeper level. He’s always had regrets, but now his control is in the hands of someone else. Special note must be made of Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork, which absolutely shines in the issue’s goriest scenes. This puts plenty of current horror comics to absolute shame. — Connor Casey
Rating: 4 out of 5
Writer Steve Foxe and artist Andrea Di Vito get a shot at writing the flagship X-Men team in X-Men Annual #1, and they take it for all its worth. The issue spotlights Firestar as she tries to find her place on Krakoa and as part of the X-Men roster. Inserted into that story are cutaways of the X-Men engaging in, as Iceman puts it, “X-Men 101, ” the straightforward superhero stuff this team is meant for but hasn’t done much of due to being caught up in Judgement Day. The rhythm and tone of Foxe’s dialogue sell the fun of it, and Di Vito brings the iconic superhero poses. As for Firestar, the issue does a stellar job of helping those X-Men fans who haven’t followed Angelica’s adventures in other Marvel comics understand her whole deal while pushing her in the direction to commit to Krakoa in a way that she hadn’t previously. It’s good stuff all around, providing entertaining X-Men adventures and meaningful development for a character desperately in need of it. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Boom! Studios’ Firefly series concludes in All-New Firefly: Big Damn Finale #1, landing on a bittersweet note. Much of the All-New Firefly series has been dedicated to examining Jayne Cobb’s past, development, and potential future. While that commitment caused some pacing issues throughout, it pays off here, maybe Jayne feels like perhaps the most fully realized member of the Serenity crew. Otherwise, the issue is mostly a sweeping, sentimental farewell to these characters and their post-Serenity adventures (Boom’s future with the license is unclear) that fits Simona di Gianfelice’s soft and expressive character work well. While the story of All-New Firefly as a whole is weighed by the tonal shifts in the series that preceded it, this finale issue, built on sentimentality though it may be, hits the spot. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The central narrative focus of Break Out up until this point gets quickly dissolved with issue #4. In its place comes a larger emphasis on the antagonists of the story, which is deeply rooted in cliches that have been seen numerous times over from other tales within the same genre. I largely had a good time with Break Out, but the way in which this series ended felt far more trite than I would have liked. — Logan Moore
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
It’s been a few months since the last issue of BRZRKR (and, as it turns out, there are a few months to go for the finale yet as well) and that alone sets BRZRKR #11 up to be in a little bit of an unsteady position in terms of the story. We pick up, largely, where the previous issue leaves off with Unute getting to the source of things while a battle brews around him. This should be a thrilling issue as we’re headed into the conclusion and finally learn what Caldwell is up to, but as has been the case with several issues of this series, there is a wealth of images and a distinctive lack of words and story. Readers are left to largely guess about what is going on, both between bright kinetic panels of Unute peppered with short bits of dialogue that don’t really say much of anything. It’s an issue strung together with context clues where the clues aren’t especially clear at times. What the issue does do well, however, is leave things on an interesting cliffhanger with Unute and Diana seeming about to face off with Caldwell – who is now a very changed man as things have gone very off the rails. Overall, it’s an okay issue but it takes so long to gain momentum that one has to wonder if it will hold through to the finale. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by Cavan Scott and featuring art by Nick Brokenshire, Dead Seas is a unique new series that feels like one-part Ghostbusters, one-part The Poseidon Adventure, and one-part The Dirty Dozen. In a world where the dead have returned to life and ghosts are a pest that must be dealt with, naturally someone’s hands have to get dirty handling it. There’s a lot to like about Dead Seas, especially in Brokenshire’s artwork, and after getting over the initial humps that arise with some clumsy first-issue exposition it proves to be a clever read. — Spencer Perry
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Deadliest Bouquet goes to some truly chaotic places in this final issue. After a slow build-up, I felt like this conclusion installment was going to result in some interesting revelations at the center of the story. And while this partially happens, the answers to many lingering questions don’t prove to be satisfactory at all, and instead, only prove to lead to a messy, jumbled ending. On the whole, this ending of The Deadliest Bouquet is so abrupt and bizarre that I struggle to recommend reading the series at all. — Logan Moore
Rating: 2 out of 5
Eve: Children of the Moon #3 feels a little lackluster. Eve and Eve’s sister seem a bit too gung-ho and optimistic despite everything that went down with Selene in the previous issue. Selene’s behavior goes from aggressive authoritarian to a more agreeable sort of compliance—if you can call it that—so fast it’s almost like having whiplash. And then there’s a very weird introduction of some other surprising element that is coded to feel like a “big bad” of sorts but doesn’t feel very well earned or inserted. It’s almost as though LaValle figured out that the current thread of the plot would wear out too fast so they tossed in a random complication but it doesn’t quite stick. On top of that, Migyeong’s art feels a little rough and unfinished this issue which makes the new AI threat seem almost quaint. To put it simply, this is a very uneven issue. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 2 out of 5
Groo: Gods Against Groo debuts this week with a wild story fit for any comic strip fan. We begin with a man and his dog on the high seas, and their dry humor will make a fan of any sardonic reader on sight. As the issue moves forward, Groo finds himself at odds with the pantheon, and we meet just about every god under the son. And before long, it seems Groo manages to make himself enemy number one to everybody on high. — Megan Peters
Rating: 3 out of 5
There’s an episodic nature beginning to develop in Hitomi that I really love. Rather than trying to weave some grand plot with a large cast of characters over many issues, Hitomi keeps the story focused on its two primary protagonists and their own personal arcs. While I was once merely intrigued by Hitomi for its wonderful art, it’s the storytelling that is beginning to win me over the most. — Logan Moore
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I Hate Fairyland #2 bucks traditions this week with a wild chapter filled with double-crosses and general mayhem. As our heroine finds herself tasked with returning to Fairyland, she becomes embroiled in a life-or-death deal. And when she finally steps foot into her worst nightmare, well – we learn what hell in Fairyland really looks like. — Megan Peters
Rating: 3 out of 5
Junkyard Joe #3 takes readers deeper into the story of the Munn family who moved in next door to Muddy Davis and it’s a welcome part of the tale but in addition to be an interesting expansion of the story, it also helps highlight some of the larger truths of humanity: that grief and trauma impact everyone and that how people deal with it—or not—varies wildly. For Emily Munn, the loss of her mother is something she’s struggling with perhaps more than the rest of her family appears to be. We also see the kids get called names and treated badly for various things – including their Asian heritage. Meanwhile, at Muddy’s we also start to see that Junkyard Joe is experiencing his own complex issues with trauma as the robot is shown to have PTSD. There’s some really beautiful storytelling here, some very well-done character work – and all of it bolstered by truly gorgeous art. But the issue also starts really setting up for a greater conflict that seems like it will end up impacting not just Muddy and Joe, but the Munns as well. — Nicole Drum
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
With world-building established in its debut issue, Kroma #2 ramps up the pace, becoming an exciting chase through much of its page count. The high-contrast coloring continues to be expertly executed, emphasizing the otherworldliness of the colorful wilds surrounding Kroma’s black-and-white pursuers. The theme connecting color and doctor continues, with Kroma encountering a colorful ascetic cast out from the city, offering different perspectives on navigating and understanding the colors of their world. Beyond that, as de Felici notes in the issue’s afterward, Kroma is a story about trust. That comes through in this issue. As Kroma leaves behind a community where the leaders prey on the trust of their followers, she must make difficult decisions about where to put her trust next. Kroma continues to be a story that is both gorgeous and compelling, deftly balancing thoughtfulness with thrills. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Rangers find themselves in a whirlwind of change, and while returning foes and powerful new ones are certainly putting them on their heels, the most captivating battles are happening amongst themselves. That’s where Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has always shined brightest, and writer Melissa Flores continues that tradition here, exploring the fractures that have started developing within the team but also within how the team views Zordon’s overall approach. Kimberly and Aisha especially make some compelling arguments, and while not always in the right, they are questions worth asking. When the fists do start flying, artist Simona Di Gianfelice, colorist Raul Angulo, and letterer Ed Dukeshire always bring the fire, with fight sequences popping with movement and color. And that ending… well, it was not at all what I was expecting, but the creepy execution was flawless, and I’m quite intrigued to see where that thread goes from here. –– Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4 out of 5
Parrott continues helping flesh out the MassiveVerse with additional characters. The only problem there is that they’re the same characters the title introduced last issue, and neither their story nor development takes a major leap forward here. Instead, just crumbs are laid down for future storytelling. One bright point is the sudden spotlight given to Rogue Sun‘s supporting cast that, without giving anything major away, put them in one of the most interesting predicaments this book has seen yet. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
After Something is Killing the Children spun its wheels for just a bit, the series is thankfully back in stride, opening up with an unexpected moment in time that did wonders for Riqui. In just a few pages James Tynion IV finally establishes who Riqui is, how she cares for people and her relationship with Gabbi. That context was also needed to help me buy into her dynamic with Erica and not just seeing the book’s main lead as the only one invested in all of this, though Riqui wasn’t the only one to benefit from the issue. Cutter was already giving stone-cold killer vibes, but if there was any doubt there, Tynion, Werther Dell’Edera, Miquel Muerto, and Andworld Design completely eliminated it here. Cutter’s disturbing ruthlessness is front and center, and the moment certainly achieved its objective, though the shock and brutality of it will linger with you. And that final page? Well, it sets up quite a bit, and the next issue can’t get here soon enough. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Scrapnik Island is bound to have adult readers wondering whether their children are old enough to watch Aliens with them next time. With Sonic captured by Eggman’s reawakened programming contained in Mecha Sonic, it falls to Tails and his new friends to stalk corridors outmatched by a much deadlier opponent. It makes for a thrilling sequence with plenty of great page turns and panel reversals. The homage doesn’t overstay its welcome as the tragedy of this entire scenario and the dark nature of Mecha Sonic’s new plan provide readers plenty to anticipate in the finale of Scrapnik Island next month. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds comes to comics, picking up where the show’s debut season left off. The Enterprise crew, against the advice of Starfleet, begins investigating the Illyrian people in hopes of finding justification for their genetic augmentation that will mitigate the Federation’s judgment against Una. There’s some nuance to be unpacked here. The issue, at times, seems to want to treat the Federation’s distrust of augments like a straightforward metaphor for prejudice. That’s a tough sell since genetically augmented super-people did plunge Earth into World War III and leave it in ruins before they were all deposed or exiled. It’s similar to problems with Marvel’s mutants in that these people possessing extra-human abilities can be hard to discount, even if it shouldn’t change the fact that they are people (though the Illyrians are nowhere near as bombastically powered as an omega-level mutant). The Illyrian Enigma #1 adds some interesting wrinkles to the discussion. That the Illyrians began their genetic augmenting to survive a planetary diaspora sets them apart from those on Earth who sought to dominate but whether it will capably discuss these details remains to be seen. The visuals bring clean and expressive characters, and the coloring has a retro vibe. That aesthetic doesn’t sell the awe intended by the two-page ship shot that has become a standard of any new IDW Star Trek first issue but does compliment the journey into the mysterious unknown quite well, making for an intriguing debut. — Jamie Lovett
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Sometimes it is all about how you stick the landing, and in that regard Stuff of Nightmares absolutely killed it. Issue 4 brings this off-the-wall tale of murderous creation to a fittingly grisly and yet also quite satisfying close, just not in the way you might expect. That’s been my favorite part of this series though, as R.L. Stine continuously takes you further down the rabbit hole and swerves just enough to keep you from settling in. Meanwhile, artist A.L. Kaplan, colorist Goncalo Lopes, and letterer Jim Campbell offer up one of their best issues of the series, especially from the mid-way point on, and each and every sequence feeds into the big finale. I didn’t know what to expect with Stuff of Nightmares, but I’m so glad I took the trip because it was one hell of a ride. –– Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 4 out of 5
Trve Kvlt‘s final issue winds up being as stale as the past few issues. The series had such promise with its opening issue and its mixture of run-of-the-mill fast food culture with the occult is certainly unique, but its complete lack of enthusiasm for the latter makes every page drone on with an unrelenting sense of banality. The combination of all of these factors is the comic’s attempt at humor, but it only lands about 30% of the time. — Connor Casey
Rating: 2 out of 5
Perhaps the most striking thing about The Vampire Slayer is how well the indie slice-of-life comic visual style brought by Hanna Templar (and some past artists) fits the comic’s tone. Here, it works better than the superhero-like style used in many past Buffy comics. That’s due to Sarah Gailey’s focus on dialogue, brilliantly recreating the banter that helped define these characters. The Vampire Slayer #8 is full of such back-and-forth, which keeps Willow’s familiar fall to the dark side as heartbreaking as it ever was. Gailey has created a dynamic between these characters that feel familiar and fresh in equal measure, making it one of Boom’s best efforts with the license thus far. –– Jamie Lovett
Rating: 4 out of 5
Vanish has established itself as a visual feast, and Ryan Stegman, Sonia Oback, and John J. Hill impress once more in Vanish #4. The throwdown between Battery and Oliver is effortlessly cool and epic, even though it ends up feeling a bit too brief. The dialogue that comes after is compelling on its own though, as Donny Cates starts to tease what is really moving behind the scenes and set the stage for what promises to be a tense and thrilling next issue. Unfortunately, the bulk of this issue just doesn’t have the emotional weight it is clearly going for. I’m supposed to be impacted by what Halcyon is doing, and while it certainly captures your attention visually, I can’t really connect with it because I don’t feel invested in these other characters on a real level yet outside of Oliver. It’s unfortunate because I know I’m supposed to feel something, but it just isn’t clicking, and hopefully, next issue can hit the ground running and start to connect me to these characters in a meaningful way. — Matthew Aguilar
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Sumeyye Kesgin continues to weave a fantastical sci-fi world in Voyagis #2, further exploring the clan of Sen and Zakk. The world-building is top-notch throughout as the writer introduces readers to a backstory of the home planet we’ve seen in both issues so far. A lot happens and it can feel burdensome at times, but that’s easily forgivable when you look at this beautifully wonderful world. — Adam Barnhardt
Rating: 4 out of 5
We get another flashback tale with guest art by Sweeney Boo. I’ve rather enjoyed these one-and-done tales, as they help flesh out the larger world of What’s The Furthest Place From Here?. This time we catch up with a character named Sidney, and how he’s about to outgrow his friends and search for a new world. Unfortunately, Sidney meets an unfortunate end, though he had some exciting adventures with a frog-headed friend. —Tim Adams
Rating: 3 out of 5
The Ballad of Two Wolves weaves a morality tale from the cloth of two classic fables, “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Three Little Pigs,” in a first issue that provides plenty of intrigue but shadows a much richer story still ahead. Even fan of Witcher narratives will expect to hear multiple perspectives on a problem that’s far from black and white, and that’s not difficult to apply to a story essentially about gentrification as a kaput mining village bucks at being rebuilt for tourists. The Ballad of Two Wolves #1 lays out the many perspectives and motives involved in the conflict in such a way that future issues will require little exposition. Here it falls to impressively sharp linework and some stirring establishing panels of the town with the wolf haunting its skyline to maintain action. There’s plenty of tension developed and when some action finally arrives in the last few pages, it does not disappoint. This is a perfect introduction to a miniseries that already feels like an emblematic Witcher story. — Chase Magnett
Rating: 4 out of 5
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