Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 4/7/2021

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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 Green Lantern #1, King in Black #5, The Silver Coin #1, and Hand Me Down.

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.

And with that, on to the reviews — which are listed in alphabetical order, but first by DC, Marvel, and the rest of the publishers.

DC #1

Comic Reviews - Green Lantern #1
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

The post-Future State Batman is certainly giving the series a much-needed mystery, but in James Tynion IV’s hands, that mystery is getting muddled thanks to an excessive amount of dialog and posturing, much of it which serves only to kick a dead horse, as it were. In fact, there’s just so much in terms of dialogue and words that it’s hard to get to the nuts and bolts of things, the new sort of fear attack that Gotham is enduring, the hints at how bad things are going to be for Gotham thanks to Nakano. The issue also suffers from just too many players on the stage. Another new character, a random Ghost Maker appearance, a little dash of Harley Quinn hinting at yet another storyline splintering off from the main. There are certainly threads here that feel interesting, but they are unfortunately bogged down in an overstuffed issue that itself feels shoved into a very tight box. The story in Batman no longer feels like a story for its own sake, but like a series of checkboxes to make “Future State” work and while picking up that setting isn’t necessarily a problem—Mariko Tamaki has thus far done it well in Detective Comics, it’s just not working here. All of that said, there are a few panels in which we see Batman truly operating as a detective and the overall art is solid, two things that do a lot of heavy lifting to keep this issue from being a real drag and just a smidge better than Batman #106. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 3 out of 5

Crime Syndicate reads like an SNL bit focused on the New 52 Justice League—it goes through the familiar motions of assembling the team to confront a cosmic threat with characters introducing themselves along the way, but with an “evil” twist. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the mercy to end after a few minutes like most SNL sketches. The plotting and characterization found in issue #2 delivers the same surface-level, unexamined ideas that made the first issue a tedious read. What’s worse is the lack of aplomb or interest found in the absurd situations created. Even an uninspired superhero smash-’em-up story can be made engaging through interesting action sequences, but everything in Crime Syndicate #2 is presented without inflection or detail. Splashes never earn the space they consume and a potentially clever moment in space is reduced to oddly drawn background elements. There’s nothing of substance or interest to be found in these pages as readers are left to ask, once again, “Why does this comic exist?” — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

The Dreaming: Waking Hours continues its journey through Faerie, with the party now split. Heather After and Ruin enjoy the blissful ignorance offered by the seelies while Jophiel remains stuck in the mud awaiting aid and receiving it from an unexpected source. Matheus Lopes’ colors shine in this issue, vacillating from the searing sunniness of the seelies’ revelry to Jophiel’s earthy trap to the maudlin bluishness of Heather’s flashback scene. M.K. Perker draws that flashback, and their work fits in seamlessly with Nick Robles’ typically excellent pages. G. Willow Wilson uses that scene to flesh out Heather’s backstory, establishing how she came to be in the family business without becoming the latest victim of the seemingly cursed Burgess family line. It’s all headed toward a climax in the court of Queen Nuala. The creative team undercuts expectations by depicting her as the same meek, mousey fairy Sandman readers will remember. Have the tales of once righteous revolutionary turned tyrant been overblown? Have the heroes been fed lies? Or does Nuala’s outward façade mask something more dreadful? Those questions linger as this issue of the series draws to a close, but after another stellar installment, fans will be eager to learn the answers. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The best way to kick of this review is to state the obvious… “OH. MY. LORD.” The penultimate issue of Far Sector is here and with it an epic scenario full of action, political backstabbing, a touch of humor, and a city-wide rebellion. N.K. Jemisin hits hard from the opening page and keeps the foot on the gas from that point forward, rolling Jo, Syzn, and Marth into the chaos to try and keep the city from destroying itself. Each of them brings such a unique energy to the grand story at play, and seeing how some of the city’s very splintered factions come together in this moment of crisis captures that cinematic “the calvary’s coming” momentum that makes a story of this scale truly soar. That scope is vibrantly conveyed through Jamal Campbell’s mesmerizing artwork, and after that final page, that next issue cannot get here soon enough. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

Green Lantern #1 pulls the spotlight from Hal Jordan and places the franchise in John Stewart’s ever-capable hands, and the supporting cast Thorne is building out is truly stellar. The Corps’ new role in the universe and the changes in how they operate are both welcome additions to the mix, as is the lightning bolt named Teen Lantern. None of it works without Stewart though, and thankfully he’s never been better, making for a debut that is already soaring towards tremendous potential. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’m genuinely sad to see Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity come to a close, as it brought a nuanced and heart-racing take on one of DC’s most problematic relationships. This week’s finale brought a worthy conclusion to it all, one that balances its bombastic violence with some genuinely meaningful character moments. From the approach to Harley and Joker to the handful of awesome DC cameos and Easter eggs, this issue shows the strength of DC’s Black Label line—using a template that fans recognize to tell stories they definitely aren’t expecting, but are going to love. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Rather than progressing an overarching narrative, it feels like Man-Bat #3 pivots greatly from the story and tone we’ve seen in the past two issues. Here, the anti-hero finally comes toe-to-toe with Scarecrow, and it’s something that distracts from the plot threads that have made this mini-series attractive in the first place. Sure, things are moving forward but between the aforementioned pivot and a pace that inches forward ever so slowly, Man-Bat #3 is a little tedious to get through. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3 out of 5

Robbie Thompson and Eduardo Pansica seem to have the magic touch, as Suicide Squad #2 is just as thrilling as the big series debut. Thompson’s take on Peacemaker is an absolute delight, and Culebra is already quickly becoming a favorite. Superboy adds a welcome contrast to Peacemaker, and the involvement of Batman right on the fringes and Waller’s even more ruthless attitude adds the necessary tension the evolving storyline needs. Pansica and colorist Marcelo Maiolo are a perfect fit for the book’s world of grey, and damn if they don’t create some gorgeous Batman sequences, though understandably all of the attention will be on that stunner of a punch. The book has kept its momentum, and hopefully, it will continue to do so as we move past the recruitment phase, If I was a betting man, I’d say the chances of that are pretty high. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Swamp Thing #2 makes it clear that issue #1 was no fluke. This is a serious reexamination of one of DC Comics’ most interesting characters and one that is not simply playing upon past works. Unlike so many Swamp Thing relaunches that attempted to reinvent the (superior) wheel from Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing, this series has recentered itself upon a new character and set of themes. Confronting the climate crisis appears to be a key thread, but issue #2 expands its consideration to the relationship between humanity and the ideas which drive us. The Wraith in the desert reads like a man who sought to embody American capitalism with gold for eyes and oil in his veins; the question of what this antagonist really is becomes central to the conflict. And that conflict, as well as its end results, are played out in a spectacular fashion. Both the interior of Levi Kamel’s experience as he transforms and the spectacular environments he inhabits inspire awe when presented by Mike Perkins’ hand. While the core conceits of The Swamp Thing are still developing, it’s already apparent that this series possesses ambition not seen with the character for nearly 30 years. –– Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marvel #1

The Amazing Spider-Man leaps for this new week with an interlude that would make Shakespeare proud. The comic dives into a Romeo & Juliet story for the Marvel Universe that pits love against integrity. The unfolding romance does jut against the issue’s action sequences, so the pacing will be bumpy for readers throughout. And when paired with some bloated dialogue, this issue left me wondering why its plot points weren’t split into separate releases. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

America Chavez: Made in the U.S.A. manages to move America’s story forward while also bringing new depth and character development via her past, and while it’s not quite what I expected from the series, I couldn’t be happier with the results. Writer Kalinda Vazquez has made the familiar aspects of this series even more intriguing than the superhero action, though that to be fair that shines too. The family dynamics at play and how they adapted and reacted to who America came to be feels all too real despite the larger-than-life circumstances, especially for someone who used to head down to my great grandmother’s store when I was in town visiting. There’s a familiarity of course but there’s also some awkwardness you have to get past just because of the time away that America seems to feel as well, though in her case there’s some extra baggage there to deal with. Vazquez keeps things light though with perfectly timed comedic relief from Spider-Man and Kate Bishop, and the villain of this piece is looming, with a hook that teases some big things to come. Artist Carlos Gomez and colorist Jesus Aburtov can deliver slick-looking superhero action, but their artwork and colors shine brightest in the various flashbacks. They capture America’s evolution into the hero we know her to be brilliantly, and the family disputes carry the necessary impact and weight to really get the conflict across. This series is really starting to hit its stride, and things should get even better from here. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

“Enter The Phoenix” has been an action spectacle, and that is the case once more with the big finale, which also delivers on its promise and reveals the next true host of the Phoenix. Thing is I can most certainly say it is not who you are expecting, but Jason Aaron reveals several compelling reasons for the choice, and those were enough to convince me. The new host of the Phoenix should introduce some interesting opportunities to explore both the Phoenix’s history and the person at the center of all that power, and artist Javier Garron and colorist David Curiel ensured that the pathway to the big reveal was fittingly epic, and with artwork as stylish as theirs, I could watch Black Panther and Captain America fight all day. Whether it works for you is going to be a bit subjective, as it really comes down to whether Aaron’s reasoning convinces you of the choice made, and while some aspects feel a bit rushed (like Thor’s all the sudden acceptance of the Phoenix as his mother), it does shake up the Marvel Universe in an intriguing way, and for me, it was a win. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Free from the large “plot” that the previous issues were trying to push forward, Avengers: Mech Strike #3 does what’s on the tin and what readers have likely been expecting from the start: big robots punching monsters. It’s a fun enough read as artist Carlos Magno continues to do good work, but the trouble is it’s still mostly just noise. There are interesting reveals by writer Jed MacKay that would seemingly be of consequence if this was a story Marvel was heavily pushing but the stand-alone nature makes it hard to muster emotion beyond “oh, cool.” In the end, you’re getting what you paid for. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3 out of 5

Conan’s latest adventure is officially in full swing, and if this issue is any indication, it might lean more towards the character-driven than the bombastic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This installment sees Conan and his latest unlikely ally cross paths with a band of revolutionaries—only for the semblance of safety they have to be uprooted in a major way. If anything, the biggest knock against this issue is that it suffers from many of the usual tropes of a mid-arc installment, but it still proves to be a relatively enjoyable read. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 3 out of 5

Excalibur #20 delivers a standalone story that neatly continues a number of ongoing threads within the series as it seeks to define one of Marvel’s messier characters: Malice. Where the issue succeeds in focus, it fumbles in execution. A story dedicated to redefining Malice takes much for granted with an origin story that allows for a lot of interpretation and powers and outlook that are far from clear by the final page. New elements are added to a force that has been toying with X-Men and Fantastic Four comics for more than 30 years, but there’s little added to those comics and an uncertainty about what comes next. Even if this was meant to be purposeful, Excalibur #20 doesn’t answer many of the questions it sets out to answer, which leaves its own climax jumbled. There’s plenty of good to be pulled from this new arrangement, much like the reset between Kwannon and Betsy, but the execution here pushes that opportunity into the future rather than seizing it. Oh well. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

The Immortal Hulk is prepared to enter its final act; it just has a few things left to tidy up first. Issue #45 is the definition of an interstitial chapter—preparing things for what comes next as some characters are reintroduced, some new changes are clarified, and yet another gloriously tantalizing cliffhanger appears. There’s no problem with this installment, even a subpar issue of The Immortal Hulk is better than most new superhero comics these days. Yet, there’s no issue or moment that stands out on its own in these pages. Each sensation of excitement or novelty is more focused on what comes next than what happens here, and that’s perfectly okay because there are only five issues left. If this is the floor, then I can’t wait to see the ceiling. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marvel #2

Comic Reviews - King in Black #5
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

King in Black is bananas. It’s big, explosive, and bordering upon absurd, when you really think about it. It’s also excellent, an exercise in how much fun a comic can be when everyone involved fully buys into its vision. There’s no holding back on the part of anyone involved with this series, and I thank Knull for that. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 4 out of 5

The final installment of Planet of the Symbiotes checks in with some of Spider-Man’s supporting cast who rarely receive the spotlight these days: Cloak and Dagger along with Toxin. Both stories read like teasers, the sort of fare Marvel squeezes together into a $4.99 extravaganza advertising new series. They aren’t fulfilling reads, but they might provide a hook to read another #1 issue. Unfortunately, there’s no clear follow on from the pair of stories presented here and they both read like advertisements. The Cloak and Dagger joint essentially explains the duo’s connection without adding anything substantial or even justifying the resolution to its central conflict. The Toxin piece is simultaneously an improvement and letdown—it provides some reasons to continue reading, but ends on a cliffhanger without addressing any of the plot threads introduced. Without more to read, it’s difficult to justify spending money on a pair of advertisements for future stories that may never exist, especially when the creative work on display is (with only a few exceptions) workmanlike, at best. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

There’s an effortless style and vibe to Marauders that continues to cement its place as the crown jewel in this bold new era of X-books, and issue #19 is the epitome of this in action. Writer Gerry Duggan sets the stage early for an espionage mission to save those who stood with them in lowtown, and the entire team has a brilliant part to play in how things unfold, including the delightful distractions of “the two”. That said, it’s the Morlocks who really steal the show, and thanks to Duggan I have not only learned how truly wonderful Masque can be but have added“Mickey Fickey to my vocabulary to boot. Artist Stefano Caselli and colorist Edgar Delgado also impress thoughout the issue, with some truly stellar action sequences that shine a welcome light on how lethal the Morlocks can be. Marauders is a consistent highlight every month, and this time around is no exception. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 5 out of 5

Runaways continues to be absolutely, positively perfect. This issue opens with the ongoing narrative of Wolverine, Pixie, and the Runaways trying to help a mutant in need—and learning some profound lessons about fate and family along the way. Then, the second half of the issue focuses more on the interpersonal drama between the Runaways, delivering two plot twists in rapid and electrifying succession. This is easily one of the most well-executed and genuinely entertaining books Marvel is publishing right now, and I can not wait to see where things go next. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 5 out of 5

Sskeer is proving himself to be a real standout character in the greater Star Wars lore, getting more depth and intrigue with each passing week. Really, all of the characters in this book continue to impress, and the story does a solid job keep pace with their growth. There are times things move a little too fast for the art to keep up, but there’s not a dull moment, which is more than I can say for quite a few Star Wars comics of the past. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

While there’s certainly a lot of fun to be had in this issue of Venom, it really only works well as a companion to the final installment of King in Black. Yes, the Flash Thompson stuff is exciting, but it’s really doing a lot of the heavy exposition lifting that allowed King in Black to soar. That’s certainly an achievement in its own right, though. Just be sure to read this one first. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Other Publishers #1

Aggretsuko punches surprisingly hard with its new issue this week. The comic follows Retsuko during a tenuous week at work that pits her work ethic against her personal life. With her friends unavailable to help, readers will no doubt empathize with Retsuko as she struggles to stay afloat, but a cutesy cliffhanger at the end will make all the strife worth it in the end. — Megan Peters

Rating: 5 out of 5

Beasts of Burden retreats to the past as Emrys treats his modern companions to an old adventure from the years following World War II. It’s a setup that creates space to explore the lore behind wise dogs, and to introduce new characters and a mystery with few expectations. Readers already know where Emrys and his human go in the future, so it’s easy to invest in new elements, specifically the introduction of a dog named Mullins. Dorkin and Dyer embrace pulp tropes in presenting this new tale and make good use of their new setting—one filled with forgotten dogs and human ghosts. It’s an excellent arrangement and one that delivers a thrilling cliffhanger. Each new entry in Beasts of Burden is a treat and this trip to the past is no exception, serving as an introduction to new readers and providing lots of new details and thrills for dedicated fans. Occupied Territory appears to be another outstanding entry from one of the best creator-owned franchises in comics today. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Bliss is one of the most underrated—but consistently rewarding—indie comics available today. This issue brings the storylines of Perry and Benton to a surprising apex, one that will make readers look at both characters’ crusades in a new light. Sean Lewis’ narrative and Caitlin Yarsky’s art work together in perfect harmony, creating a tale of legacy, fantasy, and trauma that continues to deliver. Even when this issue twists and turns, it does so in a way that feels incredibly earned—and catapults the story into something even more profound. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 4 out of 5

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer ongoing series stumbles through another issue that should be revelatory but is jumbled and forgettable due to subpar storytelling and lack of proper setup. Willow’s transformation into Dark Willow proved polarizing with fans when it occurred on the original TV show, but it is an utterly unearned bit of fan service here. Similarly, Ramon Bachs’ splash page of Faith staking Xander seems designed to remind longtime fans of Angel’s season two death. However, the handling of Xander’s villainous turn has been too muddy for it to convey anything close to the same impact. The way writer Jeremy Lambert shows Xander trying to insidiously disrupt the book’s female relationships is clever and plays well with the early depiction of Xander as a vampiric avatar of toxic masculinity. Still, it’s only a tiny moment in this book as, once again, the story is more interesting is rushing to get to the next franchise event. It’s not an offensively bad issue, but the series continues to be one where many great ideas wither on the vine as the creatives seem not to have the attention span to unpack them thoroughly and let readers fully feel their emotional impact. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Casual Fling loses some of its luster in its penultimate issue. While the first two issues presented a sense comic book version of an erotic thriller, the third gets bogged down in the details of cyber sleuthing. The issue opens where the previous one left off, with Matt visiting his Asian-American hacker friend going by the questionable moniker “Sensei.” Sensei walks readers through the process of tracking down Jennifer’s masked mystery lover. What this gets readers are several pages of cringeworthy expository dialogue from Jason Starr. The issue isn’t a total loss as Dalibor Talajic’s artwork remains stellar. The way a particular page frames Jennifer and her law firm partners through the window of their corporate office, occupying the same physical space but separated first by the window borders, is clever and subtle. He uses a similar technique with panel borders on the following page. His characters remain expressive and animated throughout the issue’s long talking heads sequences. There’s also a twist at the end that’s legitimately hard to predict and sets up an interesting new dynamic going into the series finale, though an overabundance of exposition mars even that last scene. There’s still stuff that works here. Jennifer and Matt’s relationship is damaged, but both react sympathetically enough that neither is a villain, compelling the reader to invest in both characters. Casual Fling #3 is the weakest issue of the series, but it’s unlikely to deter anyone who’s invested in the story already. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Chained to the Grave is one of the most inventive new series on shelves in 2021; every few pages adds something new to this sprawling horror saga from the Old West. It’s the constant influx of mentioned lore, well-designed characters, and twists to the plot that make it a fast and generally enjoyable read. The impressionistic approach to the art is often beneficial when delivering novelty, but it hinders the story in the telling at points. Problems with scale (similarly sized humans sometimes appear like dolls when set side-by-side) and continuity (a knife miraculously reverses direction between panels) distract from the quick pacing that make the story work. The lack of refinement draws attention to holes in the story and that can be troublesome, although the sense of discovery is enough for me to return for issue #3 next month. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Commanders in Crisis is clearly ramping up for its third act, and it is continuing to be as ambitious as ever. This issue elevates basically every aspect of the Crisis Command’s fight to save empathy (and the multiverse), and the end result undeniably zigzags, in ways that are both enjoyable and somewhat convoluted. Along the way, there are way more introductions of new heroes and villains, and outside of a few awkward panels, Davide Tinto’s character designs really get to shine. At this point, you’re either on board with the vibe of Commanders in Crisis or you’re notbut if you are, there will hopefully be something here rewarding for you. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3 out of 5

Dead Dog’s Bite #2 proves that the idiosyncratic debut was no fluke. It maintains the many oddities, crystalline storytelling, and off-kilter detective story tropes that made issue #1 so promising and builds upon what was already established. Joe’s dogged search for the truth introduces readers to a number of fascinating characters and settings—the exaggerated weirdness wonderfully offset by her direct attitude. For all of the strangeness and amidst an emerging conspiracy, it shouldn’t be missed that Dead Dog’s Bite is a very funny comic as well. An entire sequence at town hall is filled with odd characters and mundane interactions that quickly blossom into gut-busting scenarios. These are played with perfect timing, in the same fashion as slow sequences of discovery, as Tyler Boss carefully details each moment and uses layouts to create a clear flow of time. Dead Dog’s Bite #2 is an impressive second issue that promises the complete story will meet the reader’s expectations. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #2

Deep Beyond is an ambitious title and three issues deep, it continues to be visually fascinating and lovely to look at, but the story in progress drags and feels a little dull, if not bloated in places. Missing remains any real driving character depth and while there’s certainly plot twists to move things forward, things still feel very superficial. Even a development that should feel emotional lacks emotional resonance considering we don’t really have much of a connection with these characters at what is now a quarter of the way through the series. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

This is a very brisk issue of Fear Case. The series has reached the point where it’s doing less legwork to explain the lore and backstory that serve as the groundwork for the tale and it is instead now getting to the point where some pretty major things are happening to the main characters. As a whole, not a lot happens in issue #3 of Fear Case, at least in terms of longer conversations are action sequences. What is here sets things up for a wild next installment though, especially after the reveal at the end of the book. I’m not sure where this series could be going next, all I do know is that I’m very much looking forward to reading the upcoming issue. It’s likely going to be the biggest one yet. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4 out of 5

For his first Image Comics release in almost two decades, writer Geoff Johns delivers an interesting idea for a series that is sprinkled with enough intriguing elements that it seems like an ambitious new world ripe for exploration, but is it? Frequent collaborator Gary Frank delivers impressive work once again, but the visuals are what give this book weight and often elevate the ideas that are at the core of the entire narrative. In the end Geiger feels like a big premise that acts new but is derivative of a lot that has come before it, fun to look at but very little to surprise a reader. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3 out of 5

For a comic book based on a video game known for its over-the-top action depicting a demigod battling giant monsters, God of War: Fallen God remains shockingly dull. For a second consecutive issue, Chris Roberson’s script has Kratos doing little more than bemoan his lot in life as he seemingly travels in circles around the globe and the occasional passerby speaks to him in vague riddles. As with the first issue, Tony Parker’s artwork lacks depth, perspective, and a firm sense of composition, often shoving its characters to the far edges of the page to make room for absolutely nothing happening in the backgrounds. Dan Jackson’s colors lack vibrancy, sapping the world created by Parker’s artwork of any life it may have once had and doing nothing to help make the blank backgrounds taking up most of the page any more interesting. By the end of the issues, there’s finally a creature for Kratos to fight and, after spending several pages grousing about the idea of hitting the said creature, Kratos finally obliges. After two issues of hollow navel-gazing and half an issue of working up to it, perhaps the next issue will eventually see this God of War series living up to its namesake. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 1 out of 5

Hand Me Down is a perfect example of how much a comic can do with only a few pages. The comic doesn’t try to rush through to the twist, nor does it linger too long to let the story’s veneer fade. Instead, we get a perfectly paced comic that shows more heart than a lot of ongoing series depict in a year’s worth of pages. This is a great mix of horror and happiness, the perfect chaser to jump-start the spring comics season. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

After leaving his family behind, selects humans—namely Nero—has been horribly transformed into a living, breathing, killing machine, only for a chance encounter with a group of potential victims to cause him to question the point in eradicating his targets if it costs him his humanity. This debut issue is an ambitious effort, having to deliver copious amounts of exposition interspersed throughout intense combat, making for a somewhat overwhelming experience. This isn’t to say any of the points the issue makes are uninteresting, more that we jump forward and backwards in time often enough to make a jarring experience. Both the script and the art serve their purpose of pushing the narrative forward, but neither are exceptional, embracing familiar concepts and tropes to create a specific formula for a story going forward. This debut issue might not win everybody over, but it sets the stages for some potentially fascinating conversations and themes in the coming months. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

Inkblot presses forward with a new issue this week dedicated to the Void. As a new monster crawls from the depths, fans are left stunned as they learn more about the cat’s history of unlucky run-ins. But as our heroine declares, she won’t give up on the familiar until the Void rips them apart for one another. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 established two periods of time—an idyllic before and apocalyptic after—that was defined as much by color and style as plot. That contrast provides the foundation for issue #2 as it reflects upon memory to establish Rainbow and Jonna’s relationship. Only a handful of words are needed to provide details as bordered panels of the present and free floating visions of the past blend together to provide readers with a complete understanding of who these sisters are together. It’s a magical reading experience, one that encourages the eye to linger. There are strong elements of fun and action, including a fight sequence told entirely by reaction panels, along with powerful moments of reflection on family and loss. Even as it sets a course for the series ahead, it already seems apparent that Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters is one of the most accomplished examples of comics storytelling in 2021; I simply cannot wait to see what it does next. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #3

Coming off of the last issue which contained quite a bit of action, The Last Witch opted to slow things down a bit in this fourth installment and I think it was for the better. Issue #4 does a great job of fleshing out the backstory of these characters and this world a bit more and as a result, I feel more invested in what’s happening now. The most notable thing that happens this time around comes with the introduction of a new character named Hugh. Much like everyone else in this series, Hugh is well-written and immediately jives with the larger cast. His motivations are also kept in the dark just a bit as well, which has added some much-needed intrigue to The Last Witch. Overall, this is another strong issue in a series that continues to be a consistent joy to read. — Logan Moore

Rating: 4 out of 5

Boom Studios launches a Magic: The Gathering comic book era in Magic: The Gathering #1 from writer Jed MacKay and artist Ig Guara. Set on the city-plane of Ravnica, the issue focuses on three Planeswalkers who are guildmasters there. They are Vraska, Kaya, and Ral Zarek. However, MacKay’s narration conveys the vastness of the multiverse and implies a story with interdimensional reach. That narration also depicts Ravnica in a “greatest city in the multiverse” light, not unlike how some people often talk about New York City. That his choice of core characters interesting as they each seem to represent a different class of citizen: Kaya representing the bankers and white-collar types, Ral Zarek the laborers, and Vraska the undesirables. Unfortunately, MacKay’s dialogue doesn’t have much flair, with all three Planeswalkers taking on a generic, arch tone that doesn’t convey much about their characters. There’s also one plot beast involving another Planeswalker that seems to go unresolved. Guara proves capable of channeling Ravnica’s vastness visually, but his pages are too busy, making it difficult to know where the reader’s eye should focus. Arianna Consonni’s colors exacerbate the issue. The palette is high-brightness, imbuing the story with plenty of energy and contributing to the lack of focus as that brightness is all-encompassing. There’s potential here, but the creative team will need to cut through the chaos to find it. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Miles to Go returns by adding even more layers to the intertwined backstories of its cast. It seems nobody is ever as they first appear in this story with even the most unsuspecting of characters able to keep at least one or two surprises in store for readers. I’m sad to see the protagonists departing the small-town setting they’ve been in lately since it produced some of the most convincing and intimate artwork to ferry the characters through their brief pause in their adventure, but it inspires confidence in where the next chapter will go. — Tanner Dedmon

Rating: 4 out of 5

Nocterra‘s second issue doesn’t have the fevered energy of its first—it would be hard to do, since the first was so immersive that you can’t possibly go into #2 as disoriented and ready to be steered—but the pacing is strong and the art by Tony Daniel is terrific. Colors by Tomeu Morey continue to be key to the look and success fo the book—inevitable since so much of it is bathed in either negative space or crazy light sources from fire and neon. Scott Snyder’s script is rock-solid, although the stoic and serious nature of his leads means that a lot of the backstory has to be told through flashbacks—meaning a lot of narrative captions. It isn’t especially intrusive once you get past the first few pages, but the weakest part of a very strong issue is opening the book to huge blocks of text. — Russ Burlingame

Rating: 4 out of 5

And with this final issue, Origins comes to a close and simply isn’t able to elicit the emotions that Chapman and Rebelka were going for. The Boom comic simply isn’t able to tell a story that distinguishes itself from so many other post-apocalyptic tales that we’ve seen before, and unfortunately, it simply doesn’t have the staying power to make it a classic. While its ambitions were high, Origins simply isn’t able to come close to achieving the desired heights it strove for. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2 out of 5

Tracer’s attempts to revolt again Kace is easier said than done, as her attempts to free Omnics from their clutches comes with some devastating consequences. Devout fans of Overwatch are sure to appreciate the conclusion of this story and the ways in which it enriches the world of the video game series, adding more emotion and complexity to the dystopic world. For those who had more of a passing interest in the series, the series concludes with a barrage of jargon about Omnics and accelerators and grids that all seem inconsequential, as the status quo is largely what it was when the narrative began. Then again, if you’re five issues into an Overwatch comic, it’s hard to assume you’re just a fairweather fan, with this final issue likely delighting you as much as sinking some hours into any of the games. — Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 3 out of 5

Steve Orlando and Patrick Piazzalunga have a hit on their hands here, blending the concept of “The Death of Superman” with “Mobile Suit Gundam,” creating an immersive first issue that hits all the right beats. Thirty years ago, citizens saw their savior, Patron, battle against the villainous Woe, and though he is now dead, a team of soldiers pilot a model replication in order to keep the world at peace. An interesting concept that works thanks to strong characterization and solid artwork that I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 4 out of 5

When JMS has something to say, it’s a pretty safe bet you need to listen. The second volume of Straczynski’s The Resistance has arrived and it brings with it an introductory issue almost exactly what you’d expect from the title and writer. On the surface, Uprising #1 can almost be overly dense but as you dig further in, you uncover a thought-provoking tale that starts to bend the stereotypical super powers-against-the-government storyline. It comes dangerously close at times to collapsing under the weight of the massive ensemble the book includes, but certainly not enough to affect the story that drastically. Plus, CP Smith’s lineart is exactly the style you’d want from a story like this, with a dark and grimy style that quickly elevates the story to another level. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Other Publishers #4

Comic Reviews - The Silver Coin #1
(Photo: Image Comics)

George C. Romero (the son of famed horror auteur George A Romero) is crafting an origin story for one of his father’s most famous works. The Rise by Romero and Diego Yapur sets up what on its surface looks like a pretty standard origin story, one that involves a broken scientist manipulated by the US government. The story itself isn’t anything particularly special, and Yapur’s photo-realistic artwork is marred by the choice to head to an impoverished Haitian village to seek out the secret to reanimation. Given that Romero’s father broke ground by featuring a Black lead in his film, it’s a bit disappointing that his son chose to head back to well-worn negative tropes, complete with people living in squalor and what appears to be a Voodoo houngan. Romero’s work was inspired mostly from I Am Legend (which depicted the reanimated dead as a consequence of a plague) instead of misinterpreted Voodoo lore, so I’m not sure why his son opted to go this route. It’s a disappointing take that mars an otherwise fine comic. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 2 out of 5

Months after the first issue’s debut, Sam and His Talking Gun is officially back, and I’m not entirely sure if it was worth the wait. This issue does dive head-first into Sam’s backstory and what led him to his current unconventional situation, but that backstory jumps around wildly in both context and tone. There’s clearly an effort here to tell a story about trauma and the cycles of abuse, but it feels just a little too cyclical and almost cynical by the time the issue draws to a close. There’s just enough here, aesthetically and narratively, to make me curious to continue reading, but this issue still doesn’t pack nearly enough of a punch yet. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Get ready for some whiplash. After a brutal and bloody issue last month, Savage Dragon #258 is full of humor and lighthearted, character-driven moments. In an issue that centers on Amy Dragon and her talking tiger friend Walter, Larsen delivers a family-friendly issue, with some real larger-than-life moments of comic strip logic. — Russ Burlingame

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Seven Secrets has had moments of greatness and high octane action, but the push and pull over the secrets themselves sometimes obscures the real strength of this series, and thankfully that is not the case in issue #7. With a moment to breathe in between the bigger arcs of the main plot, the wonderful weirdness of this world gets a chance to shine as does Caspar, who is the heart that makes this engine move. Through Caspar’s backstory, Tom Taylor adds some inventive new flourishes to the world, and those subsequently allow for more exploration into the dynamic between Caspar and Eva. Taylor’s comedic timing is also on point throughout, but the MVP has to go to the team of Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Baiamonte, and Katia Ranalli, who deliver one of the most dazzling issues in the series thus far. The Faerie world allows the team to flex a bit and create a world that doesn’t look or feel like anything else out there, and here’s hoping we get to return at some point because it’s simply gorgeous. Seven Secrets is kicking off its return with a winner, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I am curious to see how Walsh and his future collaborators continue to spin this tale of a magical coin with a mortal cost, but further installments won’t detract or contribute to my appreciation for this single issue. The Silver Coin #1 is an example of how stories are defined by the skill placed into their telling. Walsh’s deft telling of Zdarsky’s tight narrative makes for a thrilling episode that requires no investment from readers beyond what they hold in their hands. As a result it becomes an engrossing tale unto itself and one easily recommended to fellow readers of comics and fans of horror. Picking up #1 is easy because it’s everything you need for a spine-chilling read. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

High Republic Adventures continues to get darker and more enthralling than you’d ever expect from a comic aimed at young readers, which is much more of a compliment than it may sound. This book gives young ones and older readers alike very real stakes and layered relationships to enjoy. It’s also the first time we’ve really explored the lives of young Padawans and Jedi younglings together. It’s an endearing thing I wish we could have been witnessing for years. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 4 out of 5

Three issues in and Transformers: Beast Wars‘ anniversary revival is starting to show signs of life. While the first issue felt like an overly familiar setup and the second had the characters needlessly meandering about, Erik Burnham’s issue three script focuses on Dinobot to finally find some tension and conflict. While watching the Predacons torture the captured Maximal called Nyx, Dinobot starts questioning whether he’s gone too long unflinchingly following Megatron’s unquestioned orders. Dinobot fits into a familiar “honorable warrior” archetype and his defection isn’t anything startlingly original, but it’s well-executed here in a style and tone that suits a kids’ action cartoon. Josh Burcham’s artwork is uneven in spots. In general, his style proves capable of bringing a hefty dose of human emotion to these robot characters. However, his layouts sometimes emphasize the wrong moments, like one page seemingly designed to attract the reader’s attention to where the least amount of meaningful action was taking place. However, some of his other layouts are excellent, allowing the most emotional moment to engulf the panels around it in powerful ways. The issue isn’t anything game-changing, but it’s the kind of simple, stellar storytelling that readers have been expecting from the series from the first issue. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Usagi bids farewell to the yokai as they battle together atop the mountain. It’s a big climax and one that does not hesitate to alter the status quo readers were recently introduced to, allowing these mythical creatures to read like another important and (importantly) mortal addition to Sakai’s narrative. There are a number of big moments scattered throughout the issue and each pivotal choice is given an appropriate sense of gravitas—coloring the issue with well-earned emotions of melancholy, sacrifice, and understanding. Usagi’s adventure to a world of strange customs in which he struggled to be accepted ends with hardwon new allies and acceptance. From the beautifully drawn battles to the personal moments of reflection, Usagi Yojimbo #18 provides readers with another tale that already seems sure to stand the test of time. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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