Category Archives: Reviews

The Swamp Thing #7 – Review


The Swamp Thing #7

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Published by DC Comics

Released – 8/9/2021

As we rejoin our friend in the swamp, we find him still entangled with Suicide Squad in the Kaziranga Forest. This is shown to great effect on yet another eye catching cover from Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer. Peacemaker and his ragtag band are the red taint here, surrounded by the imposing presence of The Swamp Thing who seeks to contain them, remove their blight from The Green and from Kaziranga. This thematic contrast used throughout the story so far is really effective and often adds an extra element to many of the scenes.

Following on from the cliff-hanger last issue, we find The Suicide Squad picking up the pieces, almost literally. Some darkly atmospheric and intense scenes which call to mind the finest moments of the Predator film lead us to the title page for ‘In My Infancy part 2’. It is at once fascinating, beautiful and perfectly executed. Striking and memorable title pages have been something of a signature for this series, and this is no exception.

As we read on and Swamp Thing tangles further with the remaining members of Suicide Squad, the action is interwoven with explorations of memory, previously used as a means of recovery and growth, now manipulated and exposed at the whim of Nightmare Nurse. As she peels back the layers, Levi is forced to revisit his relationship with father and brother, his alienation from his own people, his lingering torment… Through these sequences, it’s apparent that Levi’s inner battles rival any physical struggle he may encounter.

History, folklore and belief play strong roles here, with the impact of colonialism and industrialisation looming large. Part of the Guardian of The Green is tradition or memory but in Levi, it is also progress, a striving for something new and better. Between Nightmare Nurse and Chemo, we find both Levi and The Green attacked in more ways than one. Perhaps his unique perspective will enable Levi to face these threats as Swamp Thing in a way no other could.

Once again, from start to finish, this is superlative stuff. The writing, art and lettering all form a symbiosis wherein each inform the other, where words and art come together to create perfect comic book storytelling moments. It’s a book where we get to learn things, to investigate, if we are so inclined. There is an unusual geography here which is almost a character itself, especially when viewed through the lens of history and anthropology. This might sound like this is a dry, academic story but nothing could be further from the truth; every panel, every moment is exciting. It just so happens that there is substance supporting the action, the interactions.

Ram V’s dialogue and narration, brought to life through Aditya Bidikar’s always impressive lettering, bring us entirely convincing moments of human experience, enhanced ever further by pitch-perfect work from the art team. No matter if we are seeing Levi’s shared moments with his father or his struggle as Swamp Thing as he grapples physical horrors, we are always right there with him.
Through the work of this incredible creative team, we can experience something akin to synaesthesia as we read, take in images and turn pages. We get to smell, hear, feel, maybe even taste through drawings, colours and words of great quality and depth. This is a comic which takes us way beyond our world in the best of ways.


Verdict

There’s a bittersweet sense building as I read and review this series; this is already issue 7 of 10. It’s therefore soon to end, and I’d really prefer it didn’t. I have every confidence that this limited run will be resolved in a satisfying way and yet I’m just as sure I’ll be left wanting more. It’s a great time to be into comics; there are plenty of good titles around. This is not just a good comic. It’s a great one. Read it if you can.


Review by Andy Flood, 12/10/21

The Amazing Spider-Man #75 Review



The Amazing Spider-man #75

Reviewed by Leo Brocklehurst

Written by: Zeb Wells 

Artwork by: Patrick Gleason
Released on 6/10/21

Published by Marvel Comics 

BEYOND IS HERE!

So I haven’t been THIS excited for Spider-man in quite a while now, I was hyped when this new run started because we finally got a change up from Dan Slott to Nick Spencer and my favourite artist Ryan Ottley was on the book aswell.

However, as the series progressed, we lost Ryan Ottley (on Spider-man, he is still very much alive) around the halfway point of the run and the plots got a little stale (Kings Ransom and the Chameleon Conspiracy to be specific). The stories were in my opinion, more exciting than the previous run but lacking the constant state of epic-ness and energy that the book had seen before, but now, I think things are finally going to be… amazing (forgive the pun) once again. Let’s dig in!

This time around, the story starts with a young Peter Parker walking the streets of New York with Aunt May, blowing up a piece of gum. Aunt May realises she never bought that for Pete and asks where he got it from, Peter doesn’t understand what he did but said “it felt too easy”. They end up going back to the store and paying the store clerk for the gum and once they get home uncle Ben asks to talk to Peter, giving him a speech about the man who you are in private and that you can’t hide from him. Ben turns around, disfigured by a hole in his face with spiders crawling out of it and we soon discover it was just a dream.

Peter wakes up miserable over Harry’s death (last ish) and decides to go get some fresh air outside, on a specific building where its quiet and solitary, where he has nothing to worry about. I always like little things like this, they communicate to readers that Peter is a human being; he still faces problems and tribulation and has his safe spaces of his own to go to, they really drive home the “everyman” aspect of the character. Once he gets up onto the roof of this building he sees another Spider-man swing past?! Spidey throws a slue of tricks at the imposter but they prove useless; his webs bounce right of the shady character and they run right through the wall Peter pulls down on them. Following that, a spider looking device is deployed and wraps Peter up, allowing the doppelganger to escape. The device tells Peter that he will be let go in an hour and he should use this time to “reflect on his life’s decisions” Which might be the funniest thing I’ve read all year.

The following day, Pete runs into Ben Reilly (who last appeared in Iron man a few years back I believe but I’m sure you’re familiar with the character from the infamous clone saga storyline back in the mid 90’s). They talk in a restaurant and Ben reveals it was him who was running around the night before and that’s what he’s come to talk to  Peter about. The beyond corporation has hired him to be Spider-man after acquiring the trademark to the hero from the now defunct Parker industries (the company Otto Octavius began when he was in control of Peter’s brain, when Peter regained control he totally tanked the company and had to sell off all the assets although he was unaware Otto had trademarked the Spider-man name). Ben came to tell him that he wasn’t asking to be a Spider-man but that he will be, like it or not. After all, they both have the same moral code so its not like you can keep him out of the fight. Peter has no choice but to accept it and they go their own ways.

Ben returns to his penthouse in the beyond tower to his girlfriend Janine, who just got out of prison last issue. There’s a pretty nice moment where they take in just how different their living conditions are now from a few years ago until its interrupted by Reilly’s overseer of sorts to partake in some sort of session.

We cut to later as the (typically hulk villains) U-foes are carrying out a mission when Peter arrives on the scene to stop them, he makes a joke about the stench that X-ray carries when they reply that the joke wasn’t funny the first time when, all of a sudden, Reilly breaks through the debris under him. They team up against the villains and hold their own until X-ray let’s out an explosion of ionising radiation, reducing the area to Rubble; as Ben recovers (due to his radiation proof suit) and goes to re-group with Peter he sees that Pete’s been injured pretty bad and as he falls to the ground and blacks out, the issue ends.

Things look pretty rough for Peter but it makes for one heck of a story! Before I talk about anything else I just want to talk about beautiful wrap around cover by comic book veteran Arthur Adams! This cover was jaw-droppingly gorgeous and the solicited covers for the beyond books look incredible, in other news, I loved this book! Pretty sure this is my favourite issue of Spider-man since the red goblin arc in 2018.




I didn’t realise how much the title was coasting until I came out of it and beyond looks like a non-stop thrill rife and I can’t wait!!! I’m pretty sure they had me in mind when they made the series thrice-monthly if I’m being completely honest. Zeb Wells writing was funny, exciting and did a spot-on job of all the characters personalities and the like although Wells is no newcomer to ASM, he’s done several short stories in other spider-books and scripted the awesome storyline SHED back in 2010 with legendary artist Chris Bachalo. Patrick Gleason’s art in this book is really just brilliant, I love the way he draws Spidey but I just have one teeny, tiny nit-pick on the artwork which is that it can be pretty inconsistent. I double checked and he is the only pencilled on the issue but it looks like it can be two different styles at some points. In parts, peter looks in style with Gleason’s art but in others he looks like a 3-d tracing. It’s the only problem I’ve had with his art, I don’t know whether he gets worn out or if he’s just experimenting with different styles but when that’s my biggest complaint with a comic you know it’s good, it’s sooooo good. BUY IT!


10/10

Reviewed by Leo Brocklehurst 14/10/21

Spawn #322 – Review

Spawn #322
Reviewed by Leo Brocklehurst

Written by: Todd McFarlane

Artwork by: Carlo Barberi
Released 30/9/21

Published by Image Comics

Hi there! You seemed to have stumbled on a review of Todd Mcfarlane’s latest issue of iconic indie comic series Spawn, I hope you enjoy it and remember all the new comics I review here should be available to order through this wonderful website you find yourself on!


The latest issue of Spawn is pretty decent, a solid filler issue with criminally good art and good enough plot. The book picks up directly where the last one left us; in a pitch-black city, confronting a monstrous vampire named Paul who has beaten abused and sexually assaulted a young woman and bore her a child that she can’t take care of under his cruel household. The reason for the city’s darkness is due to Spawn lashing out last issue in rage of Paul’s disgusting crimes and unlike my very cool idea in my last review, there is no epic night war battle (yet).


Paul shoots at Spawn with a shotgun but fails to hurt him and Spawn renders him unconscious. Following that, Spawn saves the young woman and takes her to safety by teleporting to some doctor’s office I’m pretty sure. Paul wakes up 4 days later and needs to feed (being a vampire and all) so Spawn has devised a cruel but justified game for the devilish wimp by removing all the spikes off of his outfit and placing them on a hallway, on the other side of it lies escape and food. The coward starts pushing himself through the torturous hallway in a truly gross scene that I may have skipped through and has given me an acute fear of small spaces.

About halfway through his fun little trip, a bunch of bugs start following him through (the comic explains that since Paul is a vampire, he is scared of anything that sucks blood because it’s some sort of competition I guess?), forcing him to push harder until he falls out a grim, bloody body. Spawn stands at the end of the corridor with Paul’s two dogs (that he has control of now because of Spawn powers I suppose). He tells Paul that on the OTHER side of the hall is an escape and he’ll have to venture through once more to get out and as Paul starts to limp through the hallway again, Spawn sicks the dogs on him and I’m guessing Paul is no longer among the living.


This issue was pretty good, I can’t really mention any flaws and I, as a reader feel Mcfarlane’s rage in this issue, I guess he watches the news. But the book suffers from the same flaws it has for a while. Namely that nothing of note to the overarching story has happened since way back in August 2019’s #300, the series keeps talking about some massive war between heaven and hell but I can’t see anything progressing to the point just yet, but as far as negatives go, that’s about the extent of it.


This book features stunning art by Carlo Barberi and is way less wordy than usual which is very refreshing since sometimes I feel like I should be awarded a medal for getting through all the text in a Spawn comic.

7/10



Review by Leo Brocklehurst 12/10/21

The Swamp Thing #6 – Review

The Swamp Thing #6

Reviewed by Andy Flood

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC Comics
Released: 4/8/2021

In the wake of ‘Survivor Bomb’, we come to issue 6 wondering ‘what’s next?’ and find Swamp Thing, looming from the dark of a forest, rain all around, a thermographic crosshair tracking his enraged form.  Every cover for this run has been a stand-out example of the form and this is no exception.  Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer’s cover work is exemplary and telegraphs some of the amazing visual storytelling to be found within.

Turning to the first page, we find a sinister aircraft, bristling with weaponry, framed against an infernal sky above a lush forest.  We are in Kaziranga Forest, India and, as the story unfolds against this striking backdrop, we see further aspects of the taint in The Green.

The double spread title page of ‘In My Infancy’ is astounding.  As a portrayal of Levi Kamei’s return to being through confused transformative process, it is note perfect.  As he writhes and wrestles with his strange rebirth over thirty-two immaculate panels, we then go on to see Levi is immediately under threat as the Suicide Squad touch down, tasked with his capture.  Believing the deployment of a bio-agent to have prepared the battlefield in their favour, Peacemaker, Nightmare Nurse, Heat Wave, Parasite and Chemo deploy with ill-placed confidence.

They are a task force in name only, and are clearly at odds with one another.  Even as they close in, Levi is faced with a Green that is diminishing.  He delves into memory, to tap into the depths of the Green’s power and so, as the action unfolds, we have momentary insights into Levi’s past and his struggles with family and identity.  It’s a phenomenal episode, which moves effortlessly from moments of brutality to glimpses of tender tranquility.

And I’ve no idea how they’re doing it.  Reading Swamp Thing is like witnessing comic book witchcraft; what strange, eldritch secrets do the creators employ to weave something this good?  Every page is surprising, be it mystifying, uplifting, thrilling or horrifying, each one, every panel, is of such high quality that it’s impossible not to be hugely impressed and entertained.

Ram V’s writing meshes perfectly with the deft and inventive lettering of Aditya Bidikar; with the always incredible lines of Mike Perkins’ art; with the vibrant, near tangible colours of Mike Spicer… It’s such a tour-de-force of complimentary talents that to break it down into analysis of each element as a separate entity seems like the wrong approach.  With every issue, we are transported as we read, our every sense somehow engaged and our imaginations fired up.

From quiet moments drinking tea through to loud, nasty displays of violence, we are fully immersed.  And always, the story moves forward, we come to know more of our hero and understand perhaps a little more of what is going on while glimpsing a hint of what lies ahead.  The final splash page is not only a superb piece of art but bears the words ‘to be continued…’ Rarely have I been so glad to have more to look forward to.


Verdict

Everything about this book is the absolute best of what comics have to offer.  I’m convinced that this 10 issue run will be considered a classic by a great many people.  I already count myself among them.  Swamp Thing comes with the highest possible praise and is unreservedly recommended.


Review by Andy Flood, 7/10/21


King Spawn #2 – Review

King Spawn #2

Reviewed By Leo Brocklehurst

Written by: Sean Lewis

Artwork by: Javi Fernandez 
Image Comics

Released 30/9/21

Hello again, it’s your friendly neighbourhoo—nope, wrong review. I mean its your edgy, cool, dark and not so friendly temporary king Spawn reviewer here, and I’m proud to report that this issue was pretty damn awesome! In my opinion it’s quite a bit better than the first issue and doesn’t suffer from a few of the problems the regular spawn series has.

In case you haven’t caught up on this new series, go check out my last review for the first issue, but if you can’t be bothered, I’ll give you a quick catch up; Billy Kincaid, the sick kid killer thought to be dead since 1992’s Spawn #5, has returned with a creepy new cult of malleable – minded teens who intend to carry out his evil and sickening plot to murder innocent children in order to lure Spawn in for revenge. 

The issue begins like most Spawn issues do these days which is arguing with Jessica priest, who wants to join Spawn In looking for Kincaid but Spawn refuses until finally giving in, attending an event where rumours are spreading there will be an attack from Kincaid’s clan. He then seeks the help of Terry (Wanda’s widower that she married after Al Simmons “death”) because he has a list of potential suspects for the attack on the parade, how he has this I don’t know but it’s nice to see Terry again after a couple years of silence.

Following this, we cut to the next day where Spawn discovers the two cult members ready to open fire on some children when Spawn decides to intervene, shielding the children and taking out one of the crazies as the other gets their soul eaten in Spawn’s Cape. After the situation is defused, Spawn and Terry are shocked by the fact the terrorists were just teenagers when in the reflection of one of their cult helmet thingies(?) Billy Kincaid appears and tells Spawn that his child killing actions will inspire thousands across the globe to join the cult and worship their king…. KING SPAWN!

The ending was an epic one and really made me excited for the next issue, it feels like the book is actually going somewhere and know I believe we have a reason for the books title of King Spawn which begs the question: is the book just going to be about this cult? It had me wondering since once this story is concluded the title would lose it’s meaning so it could be possible that this could be a really huge storyline ending in Kincaid’s final demise. Either way, I’m excited as heck.


Sean Lewis and Javi Fernandez are making a possibly classic Spawn story that becomes essential future reading, with a great story and immersive artwork, I’m just glad to be along for the ride.

9/10


Review by Leo Brocklehurst 1/10/21

Batman #113 – Review

Batman #113

Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer: James Tynion IV (Fear State Part 2) and Brandon Thomas (Clownhunter Part 2)

Art: Jorge Jimenez (Fear State Part 2) and Jason Howard (Clownhunter Part 2)

Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 21/09/21

Published by DC Comics

Gotham City remains in the grip of fear as the false Oracle continues to disseminate misinformation, telling the world of Batman’s demise, and pushing its people further into a state of paranoia. Meanwhile, Batman, very much alive, goes in pursuit of the evidence that he needs for Commissioner Renee Montoya to make a move on Simon Saint and shut down the Magistrate program. He begins by letting Ghost-Maker into his mind in order to remember what really happened to him when the Scarecrow had him bound and drugged. But this leads to revelations, not from his own mind, but Ghost-Maker’s.

I love how confidently Batman tells Simon Saint that he’s going to tear down everything he’s doing. It’s Batman at his most bad-ass and it’s awesome! On the flip-side of that, seeing Barbara aka the real Oracle, seemingly able to do nothing but slam her fist against her keyboard, is somewhat frustrating, as she is usually the one able to take control of the cyberspace.  Check out Catwoman #35 to find out who is behind the fake Oracle.

Also frustrating, but not entirely unexpected, is seeing Commissioner Montoya sitting behind a desk almost drowning in her sorrows as she struggles to police the city. Once, just once, I’d love to see the Gotham City PD being a bit more instrumental in helping Batman to bring down the villains’ schemes, instead of relying on him to do everything, thereby justifying their existence. In fact, the Fear State story-line calls for that, given Saint’s Magistrate program was instigated as a way of tackling the crime that is “too big for the police to handle”. It would be a great big middle finger at Saint to have Montoya and her officers be the one to work him and bring him down, while Batman and his posse take on Scarecrow and Peacekeeper-01.

The real standout section of this issue is when Batman and Ghost-Maker get together. There are a couple of times I actually laughed out loud, whether it’s the homoerotic framing of a situation being undercut by flashes to all of Batman’s very hetero-dalliances, or Ghost-Maker’s bland description of Bruce’s life history peppered with comments that allude to Ghost-Maker’s own “greatness”, the two men make for an entertaining double-act.

Props once again to Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey whose art and coloring rank as my favorite in the current roster of Batman related titles on the market. 

I wasn’t particularly fond of the supporting story-line, “Clown-Hunter Part 2”, as it was pretty much over before it got going, which is unfortunately the case, more often than not, with these shorts that seem tacked on to the back these days. Bring back the letters page, that’s what I say!


Verdict

Some great interplay between Batman and Ghost-Maker makes for a highly entertaining chapter of the Fear State saga.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 03/10/21

Alien #3 – Review

Alien #3

Reviewed by Taz Maz

Written by : Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Art by : Salvador Larroca 
Published by Marvel

Released : July 2021

What a great cover! InHyuk Lee’s wonderfully dark Alien tail coiling around a troubled child’s face heralds issue #3 ; I eagerly anticipated it’s contents. Spoilers ahead….

Epsilon station, a Weyland-Yutani bioweapons and research facility is orbiting earth on a self – destruct trajectory.

Gabe Cruz has helped build the success of this station based on an encounter with Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the past. His son Danny, as part of a terrorist organisation have stolen a pass from him to get on to the station and in the process released the dangerous Xenomorphs. Cruz has had to come out of retirement to take the lead on the highly risky mission of trying to retrieve the mysterious “ALPHA” sample from Epsilon station is he is to have any chance of saving his son and preserving his legacy. 

Issue #3 is a seriously action packed issue as we are propelled in to the midst of an Alien attack, with Cruz and two Weyland-Yutani agents walking into a maelstrom of terror. The time around we open with a dying agent lying on the floor, ribs exploded open having been impaled by a Xenomorph in a swift attack. In a last act of defiance he manages to fire on the creature in the midst of a firefight where Cruz and the other agent looked to be facing certain death, causing the it to sweep up the heroic agent and flee with him. The encounter brings up flashback memories for Cruz of the first time he and a crew responded to a rescue call and came under attack from Xenomorphs.

Kennedy has done a great job in crafting a tense story full of intrigue. He also finds a way to add to depth through intriguing subplots that had me wondering how this arc might develop. During one scene, there is a mention of another mysterious and enchanting female looking Alien that Cruz has some mental connection with called ” The Dark One” . This “Dark One” was pictured back in the opening issue, who could not want to learn more!  Kennedy has dropped a great little back story that we are yet to see develop and possible links to plot in ways yet to be seen through Cruz’s flashbacks.

I have been consistently disappointed in Larocca’s Xenomorphs and inconsistency in drawing Cruz in previous issues, but I’m not going to rehash old reviews. What I will say is that his art is solid but at this point it just feels disconnected to the horror of the franchise and historical xenomorph art. In this issue there is so much in terms of visible xenomorphs that it detracts from some of the tension and mystery associated with what fans would associate as typical Alien horror. The art and the colors for the Aliens are bordering on cheery and too crisp to invite mystery, tension and the necessary foreboding tones. That feeling of the surprising attacking and not being so visible is lacking when they are front and centre consistently.

The lettering from Clayton Cowles is perfect for showcasing the artwork and complimenting the frenzied action and overall this issue reads well, with Kennedy doing a great job of getting the reader intrigued as to the the direction that this story may go. The clinical way Cruz kills his old friend Mitch who he knows cannot be saved is a touching and shocking moment and the emergence of two small Xenomorphs from the body is a nice unexpected twist from the conventional Alien gestation of one Alien per host.

Perhaps this is not the best jumping on point for this run and this may have been a difficult issue to open up on if you hadn’t already read issues one and two, but holds its own well enough to give the reader enough information so that they might be able to easily decide if this is the right kind of space-horror for them. 

Verdict 

Compelling action that keeps the pages turning and a slow burn intriguing plot have this arc shaping up with promise. Despite some minor artistic gripes over character consistency here and there, Marvel’s first Aliens run continues to impress.


Reviewed by Taz Maz 8/10/21

Darth Vader #16 Review

Darth Vader #16

Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Greg Pak

Art: Raffaele Ienco

Released: 15/09/2021

Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the biggest advantages of a major crossover event such as War of the Bounty Hunters is that stories can be told from all sides. Comic books only have so many pages that they can fill, so telling a story with an epic scope and dozens of key characters can sometimes be hampered by simply not having enough space to cover every potential aspect. This issue is a prime example of the comic book event doing what it always should, as events depicted in Darth Vader #16 run in tandem with the recently released fourth issue of the core mini-series and it makes for a thrilling aside which could not have been given adequate room to breathe had it been placed into the already very hectic main issue.

What we’re presented with is a heart in mouth, cat and mouse chase of an issue, which sees Luke feeling the hot breath of Vader’s TIE fighter down his exhaust ports once more, while a number of ongoing plot strands come together at breakneck pace. The shift between each aspect of the issue is deftly handled by Greg Pak, and Raffaele Ienco’s art remains simply stunning throughout, from the opening broad panels continuing the trippy fever dreams of an obsessed Vader (rendered in a wonderful murky crimson by Jason Keith and Rachelle Rosenberg) to the frenzied space chase that forms the crux of ‘Target Skywalker’.

One of the most iconic aspects of Star Wars (among an absolute plethora of them) is the masterful sound design of Ben Burtt. Without the imposing scream of the TIE fighter, the phasery slap of the lasers and the instantly recognisable beeps and woops of a concerned R2-D2, original trilogy dog fights would be a shadow of what they are. Props, then, to VC’s Joe Caramagna for his lettering across this issue, which shoots each sound straight between your eyes. His letters sometimes almost take over entire panels, just as the sounds themselves take over the senses when watching one of the movies – it’s pitched just right and shows that even a comic book, usually made up of no more sound than the occasional turn of the page, can become an absolute cacophony in the right hands.

Amongst all the action and the noise, however, Pak continues to deliver some of the best dialogue across all the Star Wars comics, especially when dealing with Ochi of Bestoon and Administrator Moore, whose face-off towards the end of the issue almost makes for a bit of light relief before the devastating conclusion which, much like its equivalent in the core series, sets up one hell of a final battle to come.


VERDICT

Pak and Ienco continue to produce an excellent book, which turns into a white-knuckle roller coaster for its 16th issue. The pace is such that it almost feels as if it’s over in the blink of an eye, but what that eye sees for the duration of the issue is some beautifully conceived space battle art and some of the best storytelling in the Marvel Star Wars roster.


Review by Nathan Harrison


Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #4 – Review

STAR WARS: WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS #4
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Charles Soule

Art: Luke Ross with David Messina

Colours: Neeraj Menon with GURU-eFX


Released: 15/09/21

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Though issues of their own title have formed part of the wider narrative of the War of the Bounty Hunters event, the main characters from the excellent Bounty Hunters series have been (mostly) conspicuous by their absence in the titular mini-series that acts as the linchpin of the 34-part narrative. That is, until now, and it was certainly worth the wait.

The focus of the series has understandably been on the heroes of The Skywalker Saga, but the ongoing story of the cyborg bounty hunter, Vallance, and his connection to Han Solo has been a truly compelling one. Finally seeing this play into a narrative which, despite not actually featuring him, is all about Han pays true dividends here. Seeing Vallance and Dengar tussle with Boba Fett is a punch-the-air moment, especially as it is depicted in the dynamic style of Luke Ross and the bright, characterful colours of Neeraj Menon. This title is where the disparate parts truly come together, not just from a narrative perspective, but visually also, as the approach to every character is brought under the umbrella of one incredibly skilled team.

Like all the best final acts of any Star Wars story, this lead-up to the conclusion jumps between sets of characters at the drop of a hat, whilst keeping the reader engaged with each thread of the events. Soule is the master of the balancing act – between swathes of characters all in different places, in altogether different situations, and between plot and pace. The plot drives forward inexorably and without any awkwardness or ham-fisted exposition, yet action and fun are still placed firmly at the forefront. This issue goes from the aftermath of the Scoundrel’s Ball to the surface of the planet Jekara, to the depths of space filled with swarms of ships in the blink of an eye without missing a beat. Soule’s impressive pacing must be a challenge for any artist, but it’s one that Ross and Menon rise to with aplomb, imbuing every distinct scene with oodles of charm.

All this flitting about leads to a corker of a final page, which sets the stage for an epic final battle as various chickens come home to roost, with major implications for the final throes of the narrative.


VERDICT

As the core mini-series of this massive event nears its conclusion, it’s great to finally see some more major players enter the fray as things hot up for a final showdown that’s bound to pop right off the page. After many, many issues across 5 titles, the majority of the pieces are in place thanks to Soule’s continued uncanny ability to perfectly blend plot and fast-paced action. Roll on issue 5!


Review by Nathan Harrison 25/9/21

Batman #112 Review


Batman #112
Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer:
James Tynion IV (Fear State Part 1)
Thomas Brandon (Clownhunter in DIY Part 1)

Art:
Jorge Jimenez (Fear State Part 1)
Howard Jason (Clownhunter in DIY Part 1)

Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 07/09/21
Published by DC Comics

Fear State finally gets under way in the latest issue of Batman. Although, truth be told, this really doesn’t feel like the starting point of the story given that the events that take place here are merely a continuation of everything that has already been happening for the last few months. I feel a more suitable title would be “Fear State: part seven” or whatever! Regardless, it’s a cracking issue, as everything in Gotham seems to be falling apart all thanks to the Scarecrow.

Seeing Batman crippled by fear, thanks to some new technology that Scarecrow is using, is really quite unnerving. At one point, he reaches out to his allies via radio communications, almost begging for help. Several times he uses the word, “please”, as he tries to reach his team. Seeing this from Batman just feels wrong. He’s not the kind of man who begs. Ever! And yet, it only adds to what writer James Tynion is trying to achieve here in making Scarecrow a truly A-list villain, the kind who poses a genuine threat to Batman as well as Gotham City.

Peacekeeper-01 descends further down the rabbit hole of insanity, again, thanks to Scarecrow’s new technology, paving the way for what is sure to be a much more formidable foe in Peacekeeper X.

So far, Simon Saint’s bodyguard, Ricardo, has been a pretty one-note character, so I’m hoping he’s going to get a bit more fleshed out over the course of the next few issues before we are asked to accept him as a bonafide, bad-ass super-villain. Either way, he seems to be heading for a showdown with former GCPD officer, Sean Mahoney which, if handled right, has the potential to flesh out both characters, as they compete for the “honor” of being Saint’s number one lapdog.

Tomeu Morey does the colours once more for Tynion’s story and it must be said that his work is absolutely beautiful! I particularly love what he does with Poison Ivy, who is given a very limited role here, but when she’s on the page with other colorful characters, like Miracle Molly and Harley Quinn, the images really pop. Ivy is a character that has recently been hovering on the peripheries of stories running throughout the pages of Batman and Detective Comics. It’s pretty clear that her power has grown exponentially beyond anything we’ve seen from her before. It’s also clear that, due to her constant background presence, she will at some point play a major part in Fear State. Whether that is in the form of a foe or an ally remains to be seen. But right now she seems to be the biggest threat to Scarecrow’s plans and probably the safest bet in Batman defeating Jonathan Crane’s alter ego.


Verdict –

Fear State kicks into high gear, promising a fantastic showdown between the heroes (and anti-heroes) of Gotham and the most threatening version of Scarecrow that we’ve ever seen, thanks to the wonderful team of James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey.



Review by Bryan Lomax, 23/09/21