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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 Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1, Dark Ages #1, and Red Sonja #1.

Also, in case you were curious, our ratings are simple: we give a whole number out of five; that’s it! If you’d like to check out our previous reviews, they are all available here.

DC #1

Comic Reviews - Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

It’s Aquaman’s 80th Birthday, and DC Comics is celebrating in style with the aptly titled Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular, which brings together a number of talented creative teams for 11 short stories all focused on the King of Atlantis. There’s a bit of everything in this collection, ranging from vintage-style Aquaman tales and jumps into possible futures to stories spinning out of the here and now as two new series prepare to launch. Despite the name at the top, this is really a collection that highlights the entire Aquaman family, which has been built out to include a stellar cast that makes the franchise the strongest it’s been in decades, and they are also the reason this collection makes such a thrilling splash. Aquaman is one of DC’s biggest icons, and he deserves to be celebrated as such. Thankfully DC did just that with the Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular, and it’s a celebration no Aquaman fan will want to miss. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

Batman/Superman is about to ride off into the sunset, but before it goes fans get to take one last trip into the wonderfully weird classic cinema-inspired Archive of Worlds, and it ends the saga on a high note. Gene Luen Yang teams with Francesco Francavilla, Paul Pelletier, and Hi-Fi to create two distinct adventures that come full circle and intertwine. Impressively it’s a story you can read in any order, starting with either Superman or Batman’s side, but no matter which side you start with you’ll be compelled to jump into the other’s adventure to see how things played out and how each character grew from their experience. This feels like a vintage DC story in the absolute best way, and I’m going to be quite sad to see it go. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

Batman’s new Fear State is a jumbled, disjointed mess. Written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Riccardo Federici, the new event begins with Gotham in disarray (again), Batman cut off from his allies (again), and a number of X-factors bubbling to the surface. This time, Gotham’s woes are being orchestrated by Scarecrow, who made a bargain with a shady private contractor to push Gotham to the brink in order to bring about a more promising future. While Batman is hopped up on fear toxin, his allies find themselves outmanuevered by Saint Industries, the new private contractor secretly orchestrating the event. The most intriguing part of the comic is the presence of Harley Quinn (who is trying to restore Poison Ivy’s psyche) and Jace Fox, the soon-to-be Batman replacing Bruce Wayne. Generally speaking, this comic mostly feels like it’s playing the same tune as last year’s “Joker Wars,” but with a different instrument. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

While annuals can be hit or miss, Harley Quinn 2021 Annual is definitely a solid hit. Stephanie Phillips takes the issue and uses it to build on the current storyline unfolding in the pages of the main Harley Quinn title, but does it in a unique way, by digging deeper into the story as told through Kevin’s perspective. The result is a story that not only offers a deeper perspective into Harley as she is and who she wants to be, but also offers a solid, highly entertaining adventure in the process. Also a truly fantastic aspect of the issue is that, despite having multiple artists, the issue feels fairly seamless. It’s a fantastic issue. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Now that the lingering questions of Infinite Frontier are beginning to be answered, it’s becoming clear how stunning and well-executed this event really is. This issue deals with its massive ensemble of DC heroes and villains in some stunning ways, balancing major plot reveals with heartfelt and epic character moments. It’s easy to see how the bare bones of this event could have been turned into a lesser event title, but in the hands of Joshua Williamson and company, it is an absolute revelation—one that feels both fundamentally modern and like the ultimate DC throwback. Seriously, this is a gem of a title. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This annual is a testament to the creative voices assembled in its telling. Abundant ambition is on display in a tale that introduces a new antagonist, toys with time travel, and utilizes a variety of narrative devices to distill what might ordinarily be a “six issues prepared for trade” into a jam-packed thrill ride that tells its story well with nary a wasted panel. Michael Avon Oeming proves to be a brilliant match for characters like Midnight and Mister Miracle – embracing their unique aesthetics and delivering plenty of optically pleasing panels amidst so much action. What’s more is that even with so many less-recognizable DC characters on the page, the issue proves to be a perfect introduction point as well as one bound to please longtime fans—especially those invested in the Midnighter and Apollo romance. From start to finish this is a comic that delivers excellent action, far out ideas, and colorful designs, but also never forgets to add a dash of sincerity and romance into the proceedings. Take a break from drawn out superhero sagas and remember what comics can deliver in a single package; you won’t regret it. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Static: Season One continues to re-tell Static’s origin by blending together the original Milestone comics run with the popular animated series. There are a few nods to both the original comics series and the TV show here, but for the most part Vita Ayala, Nicholas Draper-Ivey, and Chriscross using the foundations of the past to tell a new story. There’s a careful balance between hinting at the wider Milestone world while also focusing on Static and his immediate problems. While the comic meanders a bit with subplots at times, I think this comic feels both authentic and new, and it’s been a fun superhero series so far. — Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

Even within the confines of its premise, Teen Titans Academy continues to find new and deeply entertaining ways to surprise me. This week’s issue, which kicks off an arc about an end-of-semester trip for some of the academy’s younger students, is definitely among them. The issue proves to be a creative and entertaining showcase of some of the ensemble’s lesser-explored members, all culminating in a Scooby Doo-style mystery (something that the issue itself pokes fun at in a clever way) that will leave readers wanting more. While not every joke lands, Tim Sheridan’s script is so unabashedly fun, and Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona’s art really sets the tone in a necessary way. Teen Titans Academy is proving to be one of the most consistently-surprising books in DC’s arsenal. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 4 out of 5

It’s no secret that I’ve adored Yara Flor’s Wonder Girl series, and while there are elements of issue #3 that rise above the rest, this is probably my least favorite issue of the series thus far. Mind you, the book continues to hold the high bar in terms of visuals, with stunning artwork from Joelle Jones, Adriana Melo, and Jordie Bellaire, and there are some scenes in the rainforest that are just absolutely jaw-dropping, including a character that I cannot wait to meet again. As in past issues, Yara herself is the book’s biggest and best weapon, with charm and humor to spare, including a hilarious first strike attempt and oath reciting that had me rolling. The problem is that everything else clutters what works so well. Sure there are some fun moments between Artemis and Cassie, but not enough to make up for the absence of Yara, and their hunt for Yara just isn’t nearly as compelling. Unfortunately when Yara is involved the book still becomes a bit confusing, as there a number of players in the mix that you don’t quite have the necessary context for yet, and so while I liked the final page hook of where we’re going, I didn’t quite understand how we got there. Despite the issues the book is still solid and stunning, it’s just doesn’t quite meet the high bar of issues #1 and #2, but hopefully issue #4 gets things back to normal. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Marvel #1

“World War She-Hulk” is now three issues in, and I’m still a little conflicted about it. As always with Jason Aaron’s Avengers run there are some compelling character moments from Gorilla Man, Blade, and Echo, and artist Javier Garron and colorist David Curiel deliver stylish and action-packed pages that leap off the page. Unfortunately, it’s just not coming together for me, and it’s hard to peg exactly why. She-Hulk’s target doesn’t really get the needle moving, and while Gorilla Man’s conflict with his action is palpable, in other scenes it feels like he doesn’t really regret his decisions, so it’s hard to take his guilt or remorse seriously. You do come out of this understanding more of the lengths the Red Room went to to takeover She-Hulk, and the layering of systems at work does make her transformation believable, but what the book hasn’t convinced me of yet is the why we’re doing this at all. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

The first part of “The Last of the Marvels” wastes no time in shifting into full gear, and while it’s an action-heavy issue, Carol’s own internal conflicts are easily the most compelling elements of the issue. Kelly Thompson walks us through Carol’s mixture of doubt, guilt, will, fear, and compassion throughout a thrilling battle by artist Sergio Davila and colorist Jesus Aburtov, a battle between Carol and a mystery opponent that is wearing the same costume Carol was trapped in not too long ago. It’s also surprising that a Carol and Tony Stark dynamic can be this delightful after all the history between them, but they are a constant highlight, and I can’t believe I actually want Tony to stick around. Throw in a satisfying reveal and a hell of a hook for next issue and you’ve got one amazing start to a whirlwind adventure. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

Marvel Comics strives to replicate DC Comics’ surprise hit DCeased with another dark and deadly take on their own iconic superhero universe from writer Tom Taylor. Dark Ages #1 takes all of Marvel’s most popular heroes and plunges them into a world without any electrical power, a catastrophe with surprising effects on many of those heroes. Yet the debut is essentially all prologue narrating the world’s fall. It introduces a new threat and a core cast of characters to trace this new status quo, but barely considers the question of why readers should concern themselves with all of it beyond the recognizable faces stuffed inside. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

Peach Momoko’s artwork is consistently gorgeous from page-to-page, and it provides reason enough for me to check out each issue of Demon Days – an ongoing collection of one-shots blending Marvel’s mythos with Japanese folklore. Yet the narrative emerging from that mixture is less than compelling. Fight sequences provide the highlights of this issue as Mariko confronts largely unmodified visions of Mystique and Sabretooth in a bloody, samurai style. There’s no hiding the violence and consequences here and that lends some gravitas to the rather dull proceedings surrounding these bloody splashes. Much of the dialogue is barely disguised exposition detailing what yokai and oni are and how that factors into the plot. The characters themselves possess only lore with little personality to display. No matter how dull the narrative may be, it still provides plenty of opportunities to showcase Momoko’s artistic talents and that’s enough to keep me following Demon Days long after Cursed Web. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Superhero comics marketing wore out the noun “gamechanger” a long time ago, but that’s exactly what this issue is. After two installments of rising action as the Locus Vile avenge themselves on the Hellions, a wide-array of subplots and conflicts come to a head almost simultaneously. It’s that wonderful magic of serialized storytelling where one conflict is imbued with meaning from its many intersections, and Wells has planned this climax perfectly. The personal stakes for several of the most human characters make it tragic, the literal stakes are tremendous giving the grotesque superpowers on display, and the ramifications for the entire “Reign of X” and whatever follows demand to be considered. This is storytelling alchemy executed in splendidly gory detail by Roge Antonio who always gauges just the right level of detail to set readers cringing. Hellions #15 is everything this series offers at its best with gripping, three-dimensional characters, humor and horrific violence that defy imagination, and the freedom to tell a story with no preconceived endings. The results are gripping, as always. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Marvel #2

Comic Reviews - Dark Ages #1
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

The thing about the stories in “The Last Annihilation” is that they’ve been able to balance cosmic-level threats with deeply personal stories. That much is as evident as ever in this Wiccan & Hulkling one-shot that traverses all the way back to the beginning of their relationship. At the heart of the story is a plot about characters remaining true to themselves no matter what, and Anthony Oliveira manages to capture that exceptionally well with his script. Furthermore, Jan Bazaldua’s line art fits in incredibly with the rest of the “Last Annihilation” stories, helping keep a cohesive brand across the board. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

New Mutants #21 takes some of the kids to space, while others deal with internal struggles. Artist Rod Reis proves more than up to the task, his painterly linework and his colors proving equally suited to the barren moon as to Krakoa’s lush wilderness. As usual, Krakoa is all verdant greens, while he applies soft blues to the cosmic dark, pivoting to violent reds when the action begins. The issue sees Reis and Vita Ayala touching on some long-dangling plot threads that involve the entire X-line, including the status of the Brood hive as tenuous allies and Krakoa’s stance on resurrection for clones. But where Ayala’s dialogue is typically nuanced and heartfelt, here it’s a bit stilted, with characters sounding as if they’re reading from a school brochure or a handbook on conflict resolution, draining the interactions of some of their natural cadence. Still, it’s a stellar issue offering more of what’s been good about this series since Ayala took over writing duties, even if the execution is a little off this time around. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Sinister War pushes through with a new issue this week, and it brings Peter’s fight with a gallery of villains to an end. When an unexpected friend dies, readers watch as a thin explanation brings Spider-Man’s fight to a close. Still, he must face Kindred to save MJ, but a grave cliffhanger will have fans wondering which of Peter’s friends will die next. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

It’s hard to talk about the issue as a whole without spoiling its story (which is key to its effectiveness), but I feel safe saying this is one of the better ideas the High Republic era has seen thus far. Kreeve’s journey is compelling and continues to get richer by the page. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 4 out of 5

Boy does this comic have an identity crisis. From the start, it seemed as if this series was looking to wrangle in fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also sprinkling in a few Easter Eggs for Spider-Man fans. This latest issue however feels like they decided to switch things up and place it strictly in the world of Marvel Comics, which is really a detriment to the series as a whole. The final reveal might be great for long-time Spidey fans, but it will leave casual MCU fans in the lurch. Needless to say, the issue tries to do a lot but fails to connect. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Other Publishers #1

“Based on a true story” is not a story hook unto itself; it’s a good joke in a Coen Bros. movie at best. Yet the entirety of Almost American #1 seems to take that line as being sufficient for delivering stakes and excitement. While the story of two Russian agents expatriating to the United States and delivering secrets to the CIA was certainly exciting for those involved, it offers readers little, at least in this debut issue. The two agents in question provide a broad view of where they come from, but little to invest readers in the character’s personal stakes or motives. It’s unclear by the end why they are leaving or what exactly it means for anyone involved, beyond the impossibility of return to their homeland. A series of moments are delivered with an implied “and then” hanging between each in chronological order that resembles a technical report more than a dramatic narrative. While the artwork is consistently functional, characters fail to emote on the page resulting in stiff encounters laid over stiff dialogue. For all of the terror and tension these real individuals may have experienced, it simply cannot be found in the pages of Almost American #1. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

The latest issue of Boom’s horror series is one of its best, finally bringing the Chimera into the path of Hannah, whose preparation to battle the supernatural beings is the star of the show here. Basilisk #4 gets down and dirty with this first encounter, with Bunn and Scharf firing on all engines here. While I wish that we got to know more about Hannah, Basilisk is a solid entry into Boom’s library at present. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The final issue of The Beauty traces two partnerships to their end. The first story is primarily composed of epilogue with the first few pages wrapping up loose ends from a series that stayed off shelves long enough to leave readers forgetting exactly what was being chased to begin with. It’s a competent affair, but also one that fails to deliver the sort of Bonnie & Clyde finale it aims for. The second half is a much-better delivery that evokes a clearer tone and summons the best of what The Beauty could be – aided in no small part by the return of Jeremy Haun’s artwork. There’s a bittersweet quality overriding the entire affair and affixing a human face to the often ludicrous, genre elements grounds the conclusion in a genuinely affecting manner. Even if it reads as too little, too late, this is a short story that functions on its own terms and will offer an effective denouement and grace note in collected formats. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

Deconstructed superheroes. Familiar unfamiliarity. Another Black Hammer review in and here I am spewing the same stuff I’ve said likely dozens of times before. This world has always been about reducing superhero comics to their basic essence, but Reborn takes that even further. It’s a hero book in spirit but gives us the mundane aspects of Lucy Weber’s life. It gives us heroes in therapy, but actually therapy and not something entirely over the top. In terms of pace, Reborn #3 is probably the slowest issue yet, but ends with the perfect cliffhanger that’ll bring you right back. There’s a certain mystery still lingering about Lucy and her past with Doctor Andromeda and that’s starting to run just the slightest tired since there’s been no real movement on it in two issues but as of now, it’s a pretty big non-factor. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

The multiversal mayhem continues for the Scoobies in Buffy the Vampire Slayer #29 from Jeremy Lambert, Marianna Ignazzi, and Mattie Iacono. With the group fractured and caught up in the Watchers council’s internal politics, factions form around Rupert Giles and his mother, allied with different slayers. Giles going on a righteous rant about how the Watchers treats the Slayers is among the most emotionally satisfying moments of this series, even without being entirely earned. (Slapping one of the quotes from the television show that best encapsulates why Giles and his relationship with Buffy are beloved by fans onto the issue’s back cover isn’t doing this scene any favors). Ignazzi’s clean, concise linework and Iacono soft colors restore some of the modern, youthful tones that the series aspired to when it launched, something in the school of Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson, though not on the same level. Yet, certain characters can be hard to tell apart, particularly Buffy and Anya, as there’s not much separating them visually beyond their outfits and a shade of blonde. There’s also still too much going on here narratively, burying the emotional core that’s vital to making Buffy work, but this is a solid issue with some notable high points amid continuing series woes. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3 out of 5

With this issue, Commanders in Crisis finally comes to a close—and it’s a finale as ambitious and complicated as what came before it. After eleven issues of a fight for free will in the last corner of the multiverse, every battle comes to a head, in a way that both feels overstuffed and bordering on stretched thin. As has been the case with the majority of the series, there are some ambitious and heartwarming concepts peppered in, but the way they’re presented might leave some things to be desired, particularly in trying to find a balance between satisfying, well-executed action and lengthy and flowery monologues. While I feel like there’s a bit more I could have gotten from Commanders in Crisis’ finale, I do have to admit that I admire it for all of its efforts. — Jenna Anderson


Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s final issue of this volume in Geiger is a showcase for an ambitious swing at bat, one that perhaps doesn’t connect. When Geiger #6 is focused on the actual story at hand it can be quite thrilling, with Frank’s precision in action sequences and fights remaining an unmatched talent in comic art. Where the issue stumbles is in the attempts to set up a larger comic book universe. Though these confusing set ups distract from the conclusion of this actual narrative but I’d be lying if I said that the one explicitly featured in Geiger #6 wasn’t of interest. This series is so bizarre as it tries to bring so much to its subgenre without actually delivering anything new, thankfully Frank’s artwork is still unbeatable and makes it fun. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #2

Groo Meets Tarzan does a very solid job of linking together the wild worlds of both of these beloved comic characters, but it misses the mark when it comes to the bookends that document the surreal adventures of creators Mark Evanier and Thomas Yeates. Ultimately, however, if you’re a fan of either of these characters, there’s plenty to find in here that you’ll enjoy. Both Evanier and Yeates are firing on all cylinders when it comes to their artwork and it’s amazing how both styles are able to blend in with one another. — Evan Valentine

Rating: 3 out of 5

Inkblot issues its newest update this week which leaves our heroine lost on her path. As her mystical black cat continues to rile up trouble, fans watch as universes pass page by page including purgatory of all things. And when our heroine is asked to help an unsuspecting cause, things only get more complicated for our leads. — Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

Jules Verne’s Lighthouse closes with a heart-wrenching issue filled with lies and deceit. An epic battle bring outs heroine closer to home, but a mole manages to turn the tides of war when no one is looking. A simple finale brings the moral tale to a close, and its heartwarming ending is shredded when the fate of our villains is discovered. And in the end, well – you will be wondering whether a certain AI robot needs to carry on with a new series. — Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

Kaijumax: Season Six #3 sees cartoonist Zander Cannon blending the tropes of war films into his usual sentai meets prison movie world. Cannon proves capable of applying his typically cartoonish and uncomplicated style to the horrors of war. He smartly opts to let the over-the-top sci-fi horrors of a pitched battle in outer space convey the magnitude and horror of combat the way the grittiness of a ground war story might. Due to the alien invasion of Earth, Kang catches up with an old comrade in arms from a past war, one that’s taken a different path than did Kang after the war. In classic Kaijumax style, Cannon draws readers into this formidable, heroic warrior before subverting the exterior by revealing the fractured being beneath the shell and at the least opportune time. Meanwhile, the prisoners of Kaijumax continue to serve as cannon fodder and run perilously close to past temptations. It’s another dose of Kaijumax‘s heady blend of colorful genre tropes and understated emotion that fans gave up trying to quit long ago. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Lucky Devil reels the gory, twisted humor of its opening issue for a bit of world-building. Stanley is slowly becoming the head of his own religion, building up enough power that Satan worshippers want to join forces and other demons want to tear him apart. Personally, I think the ideas presented here are far more interesting than the last issue’s splatter-fest but won’t mind if the series tries to balance the two going forward. — Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

Boom Studios’s Magic: The Gathering #6 is almost entirely a flashback, chronicling moments from the life of Planeswalker Jaya Ballard. While series artist Ig Guara draws a few present-day scenes, the issue brings in guest artist French Carlomagno to Jaya’s memories. Guest colorist Francesco Segalo shines in these scenes, depicting Jaya’s affinity for pyromancy with dangerously warm lighting effects that are captivating on the page. The flashbacks explain the threat of Marti Lage, an cosmic horror from the Ice Age of Dominario, the original setting of Magic: The Gathering. Marit Lage, through her brine priests and cultists, seeps into the minds of the disenfranchised, looking for something to which they can believe in and belong. It’s an understated tie back into the event on Ravnica, a form of class or caste struggle taking place as Marti Lage’s followers whipped the unguilded into action against the established guild. It’s a subtle working of a specific brand of populism—one in which demagogues manipulate large populations through cults of personality to rage indiscriminately against longstanding institutions—into the Magic multiverse. Magic: The Gathering #6 is almost entirely a backstory info dump solving the series’ great mystery and setting up the story’s next act, but it’s least it has some depth to it. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Good stories transcend the confines of the page. When done well, they somehow expand the actual framework of their format and “story” being told to become something more, to take on a larger meaning. But The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #5 isn’t just a good story or a story done well. The final chapter of Ram V’s series about Death’s quest to take back her job when she’s rendered obsolte after the birth of the human, Darius, who will invent immortality is something more than that. It’s exquisite. What works so well here is that the issue both ends and begins even as it both begins and ends. The issue sees Laila return for her last life, going to see Darius, now an old man. It’s the big confrontation that she’s been waiting for but it isn’t something that she expects it to be. Both she and Darius have learned things about the nature of life, death, and the human experience, lessons that grant each of them different conclusions than either of them likely expected. For the reader, the story ends, but there’s also this wisdom and this hope. There are no big sweeping answers here, just a sense of place and peace about the complexity and brevity of existence. While Ram V’s elegant an eloquent words do much of that work, it’s Filipe Andrade’s gorgeous art that lets the message sing. The bottom line is this: The Many Deaths of Laila Starr is an incredible work as a series, but #5 is a brilliant piece of art that goes beyond it’s pages as both wisdom of the human experience and art. It is, simply put, a masterpiece. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 5 out of 5

The dynamics between Amara, Alea, and Moses is one I grew quite fond of throughout Miles To Go, and in the apparent conclusion of this initial story, it’s one that held up quite strongly. Context provided through the fifth issue neatly tied together themes of mentoring present throughout the series, though the revelations about Amara’s past and her daughter’s future very much felt like an info dump as opposed to an organic explanation. The final moments of the story that cycled between pink and blue filters as the climax and chaos closed in on the cast looked nice even if the way things wrapped up all felt a bit too convenient. — Tanner Dedmon

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Other Publishers #3

Despite this being the penultimate issue, the mystery of Parasomnia becomes murkier than ever. At its core, this title is awfully dark with its bloodshed and demonic characters yet it comes across as a light read thanks to the lighter artwork and thick lettering. Though things improved from issue #1 to #2, it feels like the story took a step back here ahead of its finale next month. At the very least #4 now has awfully heavy lifting to do. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3 out of 5

Phantom On The Scan #5 takes a turn right back into the alien infection by way of body horror subgenera Cullen Bunn adores. It doesn’t quite mesh with the dream-like vibe the rest of the story (and it’s unique artwork) was going for but it at least ends well. — Connor Casey

Rating: 3 out of 5

From beginning to end, this week’s Red Sonja #1 proves to be a bloody and stylish new chapter in the sweeping epic of its protagonist. Mirka Andolfo, Luca Blengino, Guiseppe Cafaro, and company start Sonja on a journey that’s both bold and familiar—but honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. With a just-compelling-enough plot and some intriguing, unexpected art choices, the first issue winds up being a perfect jumping-on point for any type of fan or reader. Red Sonja is one of those characters who always deserves a consistently-quality ongoing title, and if Red Sonja #1 is any indication, she now has another one. — Jenna Anderson

Rating: 4 out of 5

Savage Dragon #260 is something it feels like we haven’t seen for a while: a kind of average, workaday issue of Savage Dragon. After almost 40 issues of high stakes events, this month’s issue centers on Paul Dragon and Alex Wilde as they prepare for their wedding, while Malcolm has to face off against Torment, a villain we haven’t seen in several years. The result is an entertaining book with widescreen action, but one that doens’t feel as anxiety-inducing as some of the big, bloody battles of recent months (not that this one is lacking in the blood department). — Russ Burlingame

Rating: 4 out of 5

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #4 is a bit darker of a comic than the prevous issue, but it pulls back together the stories of both Jesus and Sunstar when Sunstar’s nemesis, Cranius, attacks. What really works well with this issue is that it highlights the less than positive aspects of Sunstar, showing how he was a bully in high school and the impact of that, as well as how both he and his wife approach dealing with an elderly family member. On the flip side of that, we continue to get an interesting juxtaposition between the peace and wisdom presented by Jesus and how it seems almost naive against the general inclination of mankind. It’s an interesting mix of things, bringing these two stories together, but it makes for a very balanced issue and while it’s still a little unclear where the overall story is going, it doesn’t really feel like there needs to be a strong, driving plot. It’s a nice change of pace. — Nicole Drum

Rating: 4 out of 5

Sonic throws down with the Deadly Six in an encounter with several highlights – including a few surprisingly rough encounters and an excellent showing from Miles “Tails” Prower. Yet those moments don’t make up for an issue with often disconnected action beats and an unfinished quality of artwork. Consistently thin lines fail to differentiate the Deadly Six on the page and several panels appear barely distinguished from roughs in a digital format. It’s a noticeable drop for a series that sets a high bar for consistency in presentation. What’s more is the total dropping of a prominent storyline that is miraculously remembered only at the final page. A lack of cause-and-effect and quality render what could have been a thrilling issue to an easily forgotten intermediary chapter. It’s not terrible, but falls far short of the expectations IDW has set amongst its various Sonic the Hedgehog comics. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

It’s almost like Todd himself has forgotten what is going on in this series as his three leads spend a lot of valuable time arguing with each other in what is perhaps one of the dullest sequences of the series in some time. Artist Carlo Barberi, typically reliable in creating dynamic imagery for McFarlane’s podling scripts, seems to have hit a wall himself delivering art that is static, stilted, and amateurish at times. As I’ve written before, the issues of Spawn that read like wheel spinning or piece moving across the board can be taxing, and this is one of the most egregious examples even with a final page that carries weight. — Spencer Perry

Rating: 2 out of 5

This issue goes back to the story and characters that have been absent for a couple of months, while also completely overhauling the art style. It’s incredibly jarring, as many of the characters only vaguely look like the versions you’ll remember. It’s not that anything here is bad or wrong—it’s a fairly standard entry, if not a little bland—but it takes some serious getting used to. — Charlie Ridgely

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Other Publishers #4

Comic Reviews - Red Sonja 2021 #1
(Photo: Dynamite Entertainment)

Mirka Andolfo and Simon Tessuto have crafted a series truly like no other in Sweet Paprika, and this issue clicked far more for me than the first issue did. Paprika as a character is extremely hot and cold, that hasn’t changed, but as more of her past and the dynamics within her family unfold the more intriguing and relatable she becomes. Despite how terrible she is to her employees, you start to understand where that anger and resentment comes from, and it’s starting to endear you to the character. There are also some funny segments with Dill and his dad, though the book spends too much time on Dill for my tastes, whose portion of the story just isn’t that compelling. That said, I will give Dill credit because without him we don’t get that amazing scene with his puppy eating Paprika’s food, and that was so worth it. Andolfo and Tessuto outdo themselves several times throughout this issue, especially in the flashbacks and anytime a character rages into a new form. These scenes pop with personality and color, and the expression work overall is stellar. Paprika started to sink its claws into me with a promising second issue, and here’s hoping the series just gets better from here. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Taarna: The Cosmic Gardener lives up to Heavy Metal’s reputation—unique artwork and fascinating visuals, but very little else. There’s not even much action for readers to sink their teeth into, just a lot of exposition about her mission and a swift resolution. — Connor Casey

Rating: 2 out of 5

J. Michael Straczynski might be best when he’s telling stories on a world-altering scale, and that’s most certainly the case with Telepaths. While the writer uses a somewhat tired catalyst here—a solar flare, of all things—he manages to keep things moving with an ensemble most would consider far too large. That said, he balances the action and dialogue between most of the characters well enough, and that helps to propel this narrative right along. Then there’s Steve Epting, but you already know that means tip-top work so ’nuff said on that front. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Transformers #34 sees the Autobots and the Decepticons begin a race to retrieve the Enigma of Combination, one of the ancient treasures of Cybertron, from Termagax’s mobile house, which proves more than capable of defending itself. It’s nice to have Termagax back, as she’s more complex a wild card than most of the characters in the series, agreeing with Megatron in principal but remaining disappointed in his tactics. Anna Malkova brings the bombast, making the assault on Termagax’s lair exciting to behold, but too much of Bria Ruckley’s script’s dialogue is unmoored lore, meant to convey weight but lacking a meaningful anchor. The issue wants readers to believe the Engima is powerful and of great import because the exposition insists it is. Yet, it is so mysterious that it’s unclear what ramifications the device would have on the current balance of power on Cybertron. He does better when narrating Cybertron’s existential threats posed, such as the rust worms that chew on the planet’s surface. Are they ar natural threat? A divine punishment? Or a warning shot from those in the galaxy who look unkindly on Cybertron’s once expansionist political ideals? Unfortunately, the mixture of these elements results in an uneven reading experience. — Jamie Lovett

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

There’s no way around it, this issue of Undiscovered Country is flat-out wild. It’s taken a few issues to get here but finally we got the exposition dump we needed after a few months of mystery. Some questions were answered and more were asked, and a massive cliffhanger twist was just the nicest little bow on top. For a book that can bend its genre from issue to issue, this latest arc has been one of the most unique stories I’ve read of late, there’s no doubt about that. — Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

Discussions of God Malik lead We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #8 to tread the line between metaphor and allegory – something worth debating when the series is concluding. Here it provides one more facet on a consistently clever puzzle box that juxtaposes timelines and characters in interesting positions to slowly reveal the lore of this thoroughly considered sci-fi landscape. However, it all reads with a certain remove as characters are often articulations of ideology and story roles seem largely interchangeable at this point in the series. As engaging as it may be to consider timelines and new connections or how this story mirrors elements of storytelling-as-industry, it also seems to only invoke the intellectual and never the heart. Perhaps that’s appropriate given the title. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The line between hero and villain is incredibly blurred in the world of The Witcher, and such is true of Witch’s Lament #4 as well. The conclusion to the latest Witcher series does what Witcher stories do best, which is present questions with no easy answers and situations that don’t have happily ever after style endings. Writer Bartosz Sztybor delivers several twists that aren’t necessarily surprising but are still quite effective. Even if you don’t agree with them, you still understand why certain people make rather disturbing decisions, and everything comes to a satisfying if somewhat predictable end. There are some stunning scenes by Vanesa R. Del Ray and Jordie Bellaire, though at times, especially in a longer sequence towards the beginning, the dense shadow and sparse lines make it difficult to understand and sort out what’s happening in the scene. Later this is solved with bigger pops of color, and there are some gorgeous individual pages throughout. It’s not the strongest ending to a Witcher story, but Witch’s Lament is still well worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise. — Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3 out of 5

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The obnoxiousness of these characters isn’t getting any less grating. At least there’s some plot progression and a planet that speaks in rhymes this time. — Connor Casey

Rating: 2 out of 5

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