Aaron Ray Jr.'s Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Batman-News Reviews: 114
6.5Avg. Review Rating

5
Batman Beyond: Neo-Gothic (2023) #4

Oct 24, 2023

In conclusion, I believe the lack of continuity, nonsensical prose, dialogue, and esoteric metaphors aid the nightmarish premise. While this book takes a lot of effort to read, its execution significantly lacks clarity. Objectively, neither the abstract art nor the heavy text lend itself to easy reading or interpretation, but it may be up to readers to decide if they like it. I certainly don't. Yet, I think Constantine's selfish but entertaining story fit right in with the mystical tone. If you aren't willing to drop Neo-Gothic by this point, you might be the target audience. Personally, I'm certainly happy to hand the reigns of wrangling this incoherent mess back to Jackson as soon as he gets better!

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7.5
Batman Incorporated (2022) #1

Oct 11, 2022

The point of Batman Incorporated is to tell the kind of international stories that historically exclude Batman. The idea should never be about making them look less than Batman, but to build them up in their own right. Ghost-Maker has a long way to go as a leader, but that's enough space on the runway for your story to go to some good places. However, for those of us who hold the journey of Bruce Wayne in high regard, there better be a justified culprit behind it all. Even though the artwork and characters haven't won me over completely, the mystery is genuinely intriguing and has potential. So far, so good.

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6
Batman Incorporated (2022) #3

Dec 13, 2022

This issue of Batman Incorporated is the weakest by far. The framing device involves the antagonist telling a very unsympathetic sob story to a captive, while our heroes try and fail at defending themselves and others. Readers can easily agree with the villain that Ghost-Maker is a problem by his actions in this issue alone. The team are several steps behind whatever is going on and they really want to tap out and call Batman. This book should do a better job at making the team feel as if they can do what Batman expects of them. It is still a fun book with a large looming scale and decent layout, but the story itself is failing to hook me in now that the mystery is over.

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7
Batman Incorporated (2022) #4

Jan 10, 2023

A common criticism of Ghost-Maker is that he is a Batman wannabe. After seeing so many actual thinly written Batman wannabes, I might disagree. Ghost-Maker is a man with the potential to be Batman or better, but chooses to pursue criminals for pleasure. The more the character embraces Batman, the more other characters and readers will remind us how much he fails in comparison. Therefore, I can say with confidence that this book will fail if he doesn't arc soon. The team suffers in the shadow of a Ghost-Maker driven narrative, and won't improve until set apart from Batman's standard. Without a mystery to hide behind, Batman Incorporated needs to strengthen it's core narrative and cast. For now, the artwork is fine, but the story is in trouble.

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6.5
Batman Incorporated (2022) #5

Feb 14, 2023

Phantom-One is a brat with a dumb name and an even sillier gang of friends. For a book called Batman Incorporated, readers rarely get a chance to get to know them better. As a Ghost-Maker comic, it does succeed in giving Khoa some much needed self-awareness. Even though my overall hopes for the book haven't come through, there is a lot to salvage. The art is fine in this particular issue, and the team came out more bonded in the end. I honestly didn't have much of a good time through a majority of the books, but the finale feels like growth. Then again, it's hard to keep optimistic knowing that Brisson is following this up with a bunch of clowns.

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6.5
Batman Incorporated (2022) #6

Mar 14, 2023

Batman Incorporated leaves its first arc stronger than it began. Although it has many cons in the setup, the book has made a pleasing shift to lean into its strengths. Brisson and Bandini are confidently leading the team into the next arc with a better look, rhythm, and mystery for readers. No, sending numerous international crime fighters to find Professor Pyg in Gotham and Bldhaven is not clever at all. However, I think the overall treatment of the cast and story is a stand out improvement worthy of encouragement. I hope that the next issue can continue down a good path, and not just exaggerate how dangerous Professor Pyg can be.

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6.5
Batman Incorporated (2022) #7

Apr 11, 2023

I believe Ed Brisson partly addresses my hopes for this arc to refocus on the team and develop their chemistry. This storyline allows readers to get more of an understanding of Raven Red and Clownhunter's feelings. In contrast, I think Ghost-Maker's character becomes far more worrying. While the action is entertaining and fun to look at, I don't support Batman Inc. revisiting Gotham at all. This issue literally illustrates that there are far too many heroes that live in Gotham to need Batman Inc. sniffing around as well. Overall, while the story seems to be on a good track, there is a long way to go before it feels like the right direction. I sincerely hope Joker Inc. is the arc that sets the pace that brings the book up to speed!

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6.5
Batman Incorporated (2022) #8

May 9, 2023

I have always wanted Batman Inc. to face a challenge from an opposing collective. Nevertheless, I never wanted it to have anything to do with the Joker. Despite my apprehension, there is endless potential for character development in facing Batman's most intimate foe. Which some may hope includes taking the wind out of Ghost-Maker's sails. Ed Brisson sets up a compelling jeopardy for the team to overcome analyzing identity and the bigger picture. Despite Joker Inc. populating its roster with nobodies, the home team finally receives the narrative attention they deserve. If executed properly, Joker may actually set Batman Incorporated in a positive direction.

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7
Batman Incorporated (2022) #9

Jun 13, 2023

The best aspect of the Bat-Family are their personal connections to one another. While Batman Inc is still struggling to bring that out, the Joker's dilemma will either build or break this team. If Nightrunner's situation is foreshadowing a diaspora, then I totally predict a few members of the team to take Joker's deal. In fact, Gray Wolf, Wingman, and Nightrunner are the most likely to break Batman's rule. Telling roguish characters like Willis Todd to “Kill the Jokers, Save The Hostages” is asking for trouble. Overall, John Timm's line art sets a fun tone, but is often distinctly ugly. The artwork does not impede from the strong moral dilemma. Luckily, Joker's new plan is a welcome upgrade from the abandoned roulette idea in the previous issue.

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7
Batman Incorporated (2022) #10

Jul 11, 2023

The biggest question here isn't “should we be willing to kill the Joker,” but “why are we still talking about it?” Nearly every modern Joker story asks the same question over and over with readers capable of reciting the “correct ideology” back like the national anthem. Sadly, Ed Brisson isn't breaking any new ground here. On a positive note, this is one of the best issues of this story. Outside of the goofy chase sequence, every member of Batman Inc. gets to face meaningful peril. We even get a cool look at Brisson's version of Grant Morrison's Dai Laffyn. However, there is little to gain in bringing up the “no kill rule” without having a new answer for it.

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4.5
Batman Incorporated (2022) #11

Aug 8, 2023

Batman Inc. is on the brink of fracture. While I love how much more the team has to do this arc, Ghost-Maker's actions prove that he should not be leading the team. As a matter of fact, Brisson has effectively buried Ghost-Maker as a reliable leader twice in a row. Consequently, his static development and inability to grow might destroy the team and the book itself. Not only is the concept of the Joker Inc. team shaky to begin with, but Brisson introduces and abandons ideas left and right. This includes the ill-conceived roulette, Dai Laffyn's gift, backstories, and whatever the Joker wants to accomplish in the first place. Overall, win or lose, Batman Inc. isn't going to last long.

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3
Batman Incorporated (2022) #12

Sep 12, 2023

Ed Brisson just gave up? The entire book surrounds Ghost-Maker trying to live up to Batman's standards, and then he doesn't. In fact, the events of the second act entirely unravels the good will of the first. Overall, it isn't saying anything, it doesn't make sense, the art is often jagged and inconsistent, and neglects the team for most of the series. Batman put a killer in charge of a group of heroes and only accomplished to kill and traumatize them. I can forgive the book being goofy, but the biggest sin is ineffectually criticizing Batman's effectiveness. Even if I don't approve of crafting DIY electromagnetic weapons, making the impossible reasonable is what makes Batman special. In that sense, most of the team prove themselves worthy of the cowl, even if they clearly need to find less challenging professions.

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7
Batman: City of Madness (2023) #1

Oct 10, 2023

City of Madness can be a mixed bag at times. Although I totally enjoy Ward's messy but expressive art style, it could possibly be a divisive look. Not all the figures have a lot of detail nor is the style all the way legible. In spite of this, I believe Ward's work to be a beautiful example of a marriage between art direction and writing. As for the writing, Ward includes a lot of surprising twists and interesting developments. I especially like the Family naming convention Ward uses for the Court of Owls. However, besides the overall wonder, the story lacks coherency between it's many plot devices. Sadly, I think even some of the coolest moments like the sequence with the Court unintentionally burden the story with too many details. Going forward, it could benefit from a tighter narrative with more control over the character direction.

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8
Batman: City of Madness (2023) #2

Dec 12, 2023

The book is fun and consistently well drawn. It may remind me of other movies and books like The Doom That Came To Gotham, but it's still fascinating. The weakest part of the series seems to be its obsession with over explaining elements of the story. Ironically, none of it really makes sense, yet. As part adventure and part noir, the story feels intimate but expansive. Ward clearly intends Jevonney's soul to be at the center of the conflict. Overall, City of Madness could be a solid book, depending on how well the supernatural elements go over with readers.

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8.5
Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham (2023) #1

Sep 12, 2023

Overall, it is a blast to read, even if it's over the top.

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8
Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham (2023) #2

Dec 12, 2023

Gramp is incredibly talented at creating a distinct textured world for his story. The backgrounds, creative perspectives, and small details bless the project with a dreary tone. Unfortunately, I loathe this version of Batman. In this universe, Batman is a selfish, petulant brute with no self awareness. When measured against Alfred's patience and Gordon's humility, Bruce Wayne comes off as a smug brat with a lot to learn. Hopefully, Nia Garcia and the subplot of inequality positively affects the character. Otherwise, this mystery and it's colorful batch of killers is a satisfying noir with some curious twists and turns.

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6.5
Batman: The Audio Adventures (2022) #1

Sep 27, 2022

Batman: The Audio Adventures #1 is a successful first issue. It maintains a look and tone consistent with something like IDW's TMNT. The book suffers from a couple layout and character problems, but nothing severe enough to call it terrible. In fact, the humorous tone and spirit of the book is enough to recommend to a specific kind of Batman fan looking for quaint adventures like these. The other kind of fan won't easily accept a "McBatman from McNicholas any time soon. As for the rest of us, we will be deep diving into each death-defying chapter of the audio/visual adventures of Batman!

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8
Batman: The Audio Adventures (2022) #2

Oct 25, 2022

First of all, the book looks really good. Readers will have a blast peeling through the wall-to-wall illustrations. I can see how the tone may be jarringly morbid despite all of its high campiness. The book is an easy recommendation for the niche of Batman fans who vibe with the style, but may prove difficult if you can't handle the funny business. If you listen to the Audio Adventures podcast, you may end up increasing your immersion.

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8
Batman: The Audio Adventures (2022) #3

Nov 22, 2022

Overall, it is an uncomplicated series with its storytelling in the right place. Bottling Batman in a lighter setting unburdened by cynicism is a breath of fresh air. The artwork and overall cartoonish experience remains a high point, but nonetheless a niche that not everyone will buy into. For those still finding this series appealing, it continues to provide genuine entertainment without relying on twists and darker turns.

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6.5
Batman: The Audio Adventures (2022) #4

Dec 27, 2022

I have decided that the tone is going to make or break this experience for you. Personally, I'm not sure who this story is for yet, but I am at least digging the simplicity like a kid's cartoon. Ironically, Audio Adventures reminds me of a brighter version of Batman the Animated Series, but way less willing to go deep. I can't complain about the series being populated by lovable caricatures, but it feels intellectually dishonest about what it wants to do with them. It may be working better or worse for other readers, so please let me know what you think about the series so far.

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8
Batman: The Audio Adventures (2022) #5

Feb 15, 2023

Batman: The Audio Adventures remains consistent. While there is nothing wrong with relying on a comfortable format, sometimes a plateau is a sign that we aren't going anywhere. Personally, I like seeing bolder risks taken. However, I can understand the benefits of having a reliable series to fall back on. As a potential companion piece for the podcast, this is an easy recommendation.

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5.5
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths (2022) #6

Nov 10, 2022

Much like my review, Dark Crisis is conceptually the babysitter that throws a house party. I expect you to take care of the house and the children, not play beer pong with my vases. Williamson just wanted to play in the DC Comics library, but nobody asked him to do this. A responsible custodian takes care of the intellectual property in their care. Unfortunately, they butchered the Justice League and nerfed their sidekicks and allies to make three new characters look good for a few panels. It is a gorgeous looking book, but I doubt it will be worth it in the end.

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6
Dark Knights of Steel (2021) #7

Jun 7, 2022

Despite the minor hiccups in the storyline and artwork, I still believe Dark Knights of Steel is a fun ride. This particular issue just needed more thought and care overall. I am a firm believer that a good journey is about where you're going, not what's in your cooler. Unfortunately, I have no idea where it is going and can only judge it by where we are right now. Tom Taylor is sidelining his grander plot to set up a future one. It is hard to say if issue #7 turns out to be more important or just ends up a "backdoor pilot for something else.

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8
Dark Knights of Steel (2021) #8

Nov 1, 2022

Dark Knights of Steel #8 feels like one of the better chapters in a sometimes hard to read series. Much of its conflict comes as a result of several clashing storylines. I can tell Taylor has a handle on the direction by how each moment weaves into the narrative. The layout, color, and tone of the artwork is also a positive standout. Overall, I'm glad that things seem to be picking up, and hope for further major reveals in the mystery.

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8
Dark Knights of Steel (2021) #9

Jan 4, 2023

The story this week is a visual treat, complete with great layout and decent twists. This feels like what Tom Taylor had in mind when plotting this series from the beginning. Although the ineptitude of the characters is annoyingly convenient, I think the book is very effective. Now that we are close to a big third act turn, I wonder how the characters will handle the new information. Solid issue.

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8
Dark Knights of Steel (2021) #10

Mar 28, 2023

My final thoughts on this chapter are simple. The story is shifting from a political who-dun-it mystery into an action epic. That means that most of the heavy lifting of the story is over, and expecting action to be the only thing that awaits. Admittedly, the mystery has not been as clean as it could've. There are loose ends in the form of The Green Man, Ra's Al Ghul, The Titans, Waller, and more, but will be less pressure going forward. Judging the mystery as is, I'd say it was decent and creative, but not quite impressive. Originally, I bought into the Dungeons and Dragons-like setting and the Game of Thrones level politics, but I know it's time to say “let them fight” and finish it.

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8
Dark Knights of Steel (2021) #11

Jun 6, 2023

Despite being a quieter and introspective issue, Tom Taylor uses the opportunity to mend broken character relationships. Siblings, mentors, allies, and enemies all get a chance to reconnect in the interest of the bigger picture. Even the antagonists have a moment to breathe on the page and set the stakes for the finale. Outside of a few nitpicks, the illustration, color, and framing choices give the book a cinematic tone and quality that I appreciate. Some readers may find the focus on the relationships melodramatic, but I personally value character development over action. Overall, this is a fantastic penultimate issue that clearly bets it all on the finale. Judging by the cliffhanger, there may be a lot more surprises in the chamber.

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9
Dark Knights of Steel (2021) #12

Aug 22, 2023

The fantastic world of Knights of Steel is fun, interesting, and action packed. Though most characters have familiar traits and reputation, a new reader can have a blast flipping through the story with little to no experience reading DC Comics at all. Even still, there are few issues and nitpicks that Tom Taylor still can't justify. Aside from all of the cool moments, the story takes small convivences to get from point A to point Z. In just this issue, I have no idea why the Kryptonite wielding White Martians would leave the battlefield to chase the heroes. Furthermore, it is a Batman/Superman story at its core, but Kal El doesn't actually get to do anything. Yet, overall I'd never say any of those things will keep this book from being an often gorgeous adventure for curious readers.

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6.5
Dark Knights of Steel (2021): Tales From The Three Kingdoms #1

Sep 6, 2022

If you were taken in by the mature side of Dark Knights of Steel, then this book is not for you. However, I can recommend reading this issue for wholesome palette cleanser. Albeit, The Tales of The Three Kingdoms are not entirely necessary to the main story, nor are they devoid of their individual problems. Simply put, the book is extremely harmless, but harmless to the point of being rarely noteworthy. On a positive note, I am looking forward to more Knights of Steel.

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7
DC Mech (2022) #1

Jul 26, 2022

Issue one is a seemingly solid introduction to this six-part miniseries. I can feel the love for the mech genre in the artwork and the anime style writing. This issue's biggest hurdle is using two separate flashbacks before starting the present day conflict. Even then the world building seems like justification for the robot-led society. Porter readily admits to being a fan of Gundam, and has mentioned on the Paneloids Podcast, that DC Mechs will explore a xenophobic angle. The first issue doesn't quite get to that story, but I can see the set up.

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8
DC Mech (2022) #2

Aug 23, 2022

Truthfully, I really enjoy reading this series. However, there is no denying how incredibly niche the reading experience is becoming. If you are the kind of reader who can easily slip into a simple fantasy world, then this will scratch your itch. If not, this book will probably seem clich and ridiculously corny. I don't anticipate very much of a mixed divide on quality, but this book is really good at speaking to a specific audience that I don't doubt some drop off as it continues.

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6
DC Mech (2022) #3

Sep 27, 2022

Overall, DC: Mech is a book that looks great, but isn't going anywhere.

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9
DC Mech (2022) #4

Oct 26, 2022

It is good to get a slower paced story every now and then. I'm a sucker for the ole' drop a hero into the Kent Barn to be nursed back to health story. Dark Knights of Steel did it with Batman. With my heart sufficiently warmed by the purity in the writing and artwork, I don't have very many complaints. Whereas the previous issue made a lot of the cast unlikable, I enjoyed how they all shared more of their true selves. Their relationships with their legacy or parental figures made for a good connective theme, and will go a long way in endearing us to the Justice League when the battle with Darkseid begins.

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8
DC Mech (2022) #5

Nov 22, 2022

Ultimately, the artwork and story don't suck. Each issue does its best to stay fun and actually manages to pull of a short but sweet adventure. The mech suit gimmick hasn't lost its appeal, and most are welcome homages to other beloved franchises. The character development and simplicity of the plot may be the weakest points, but it succeeds on capturing the manga style. As far as penultimate issues go, this one sets the stage for one big colorful brawl against the biggest sourpuss in the galaxy!

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8
DC Mech (2022) #6

Dec 27, 2022

The series is not deep or complex, but sometimes that's okay. It is so confident in it's brevity and simplicity that all you need to do is sit back and enjoy it. It is an inoffensive read with fun and imaginative panels. I think readers looking for darker and challenging material may not like Kenny Porter's light touch with this. It ranks closer to episodes of Megas XLR than something along the lines of Gundam. However, for readers into Shonen anime and manga, this may still scratch a pleasant itch. They certainly left enough room to revisit one day if the response is good enough.

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9
DC Power (2023): 2024

Jan 30, 2024

For the most part, DC Power is fun. Some stories are heavy and seem to carry a chip on their shoulders, but others let loose and have fun with the material. My definite favorites are Enduring Farewells and Spice Of Life, but there seems to be something for nearly everyone. In conclusion, the book could be better, but these characters and stories shouldn't only emerge in anthologies. If anything, DC Power proves that there are stories that need telling, and less than optimal outlets for their inclusion in something.

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6
DC vs. Vampires (2021) #7

Jul 5, 2022

I binge read every issue of DC Vs. Vampires, and issue #7 radically changes the landscape of the series. The first six out of twelve issues may have set up these "dark days of future past, but the second half brings it to life. It is a beautifully designed book, despite the edginess of its apocalyptic makeovers. Coming from someone who thought I, Vampire was one of the most underrated books in the New 52, I think the vampires feel conveniently overpowered but underwritten. There are plenty of questionable choices that I'm still waiting to develop further before criticizing, but for now it is an easy recommendation.

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5
DC vs. Vampires (2021) #8

Aug 2, 2022

A confusing follow up to Hunted, Killers, and All-Out War; DC Vs. Vampires #8 delivers on the little things, but fails at the bigger picture. Eight issues is past the threshold for reasonable doubt, and I am ready to demand more out of the writing. I can't defend how off the rails the narrative is getting by clinging to the things I enjoy about the art and certain characters. The story requires a stronger focus and more relatable themes overall. Tynion IV and Rosenberg should map out the story direction in a cleaner way before they completely loose sight of where it is heading.

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7
DC vs. Vampires (2021) #9

Sep 27, 2022

Although the Batgirl plot is going nowhere fast, DC Vs. Vampires #9 is a good comic book story. It has really good artwork and really interesting characters. In spite of my enjoyment of the issue, I remain critical of the overall story direction of the series.

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7.5
DC vs. Vampires (2021) #10

Oct 25, 2022

The bad news is that this issue convinces me that the tie-ins have absolutely diminishes the quality of the series. The books may each have their individual merits, but every attempt to connect them has resulted in unnecessary anachronisms. In better news, Otto Schmidt's art might be slipping here and there, but every page is still gorgeous. The various teams and characters are entertaining and the icky vampires are still creative. Despite it's flaws, there are more reasons than not to stay tuned in to DC Vs. Vampires. I hope things continue to come together as we approach the end.

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7
DC vs. Vampires (2021) #11

Nov 22, 2022

Lately, my expectations have lowered on DC Vs. Vampires. As long as I can still have fun with the artwork and the concept, I can forgive the minor missteps in narrative and continuity. I really enjoyed the battle in this issue, despite it's poor strategic layout. Despite my continuity concerns, I was happy to see Constantine actually survive. In addition, I think the strongest aspect of the series and it's spin-offs has been the team building. Even the match-ups of the villain crews have been consistently interesting, regardless if it goes anywhere or not. Ultimately, I am glad the series is ending soon and hope the resolution is worth all the trouble.

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6.5
DC vs. Vampires (2021) #12

Dec 27, 2022

I expect every storyteller to tell the story they want to tell without expecting another chance. DC Vs. Vampires is an unfinished meandering story with meandering tie-ins. Once Batman died, I don't think they knew where to take things. Hell, half of the characters wouldn't stop reminding me. I genuinely enjoyed most of the action and layout of most of the main series and spin-offs. I was able to invest in the trajectory of most characters they introduce. However, none of it leads to any satisfying conclusions or has anything better to say than "Isn't it cool that x-character is a vampire. Yes Tynion IV, it was cool. In fact, I love this book so much, I hope it never continues.

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5
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War (2022) #1

Jul 19, 2022

Reading this tie-in series requires investment in DC vs. Vampires up to this point. Despite the title, this book isn't exactly an "all-out war. All-Out War would rather focus on the lives of those left to fight and survive in the aftermath of war. The theme or artwork may not be enough to win over anyone not buying the narrative. Some may find Deathstroke randomly becoming a disciple of Batman interesting, but it is out of character. Overall, some of these tie-ins are working, and some are struggling to justify their existence. I'm giving All-Out War a chance, and hoping I won't regret it.

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8
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War (2022) #2

Aug 16, 2022

All-Out War #2 manages to shake things up in the DC Vs. Vampire universe again. It feels more focused and goal oriented than many of the other tie-ins and the main series while retaining some unpredictability. The characters feel sufficiently desperate and damaged. The current pattern of writing makes the book feel like a post-apocalyptic version of The Warriors (1979). In further issues, they could whittle down the team as they try to escape with their lives. None of my small criticisms will bother readers already invested. Nor will the strangely toned backup story really affect enjoyment of the main story.

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6
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War (2022) #3

Sep 20, 2022

All-Out War has finally gotten into tactics and warfare and delivered some good looking offensive. The plan is simple and sweet and the artwork remains decent. The biggest flaws come in the form of dialogue, and bland interchangeable characters. This far into the series, these characters should be able to develop their own distinct voices. Fortunately, I think this issue sets the stage well for its further stories. If you're already interested in DC Vs. Vampires, you may find this to be one of their better tie-in stories.

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7
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War (2022) #4

Oct 18, 2022

DC Vs. Vampires is more often not, hit or miss. Issue #4 is a hit, but not by much. The highlights include the artwork, the use of certain characters, and overall tone. The plot is still doing a handstand on the side of the Hoover dam, and has the structure of a standard zombie flick, but like a man doing a handstand on the side of the Hoover dam: it's hanging in there. In the penultimate issue, the suicide mission against "Baron Cinder will need to push things to a satisfying climax.

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7.5
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War (2022) #5

Nov 15, 2022

Another win for Vs. Vampires is always welcome. The series is steadily turning around issue by issue. The artwork is pleasing to tear through and the interpersonal development of the characters has been gentle on subjects of grief and regret. Although, they have yet to convincingly resolve Azrael's story arc or whatever Baron Cinder has planned. Hopefully it all comes together in the final issue of All-Out War.

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7
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War (2022) #6

Dec 20, 2022

Matthew Rosenberg revived the classic All-Out War series to build up and tear down a family of unlikely soldiers. While it began with a search for Batman, both heroes and villains redeemed themselves in battle for the greater good. Although the story finds strength in the bonds made under traumatic stress, it struggles to keep a coherent direction through most of the story. Fortunately, the art always delivers on its pulp epic themes, despite sometimes feeling like stiff cut outs. Overall, it is a gloomy six issue story, but it has the action and appeal of something like Smoking Aces. However, I wish things led to a more meaningful direction. As a standalone, it disservices its own cast to set up further stories while ignoring its own. I hope when DC Vs. Vampires does reach a conclusion, it feels more earned.

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8
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #1

Aug 9, 2022

I think my niche on Batman-News is being the DCU war journalist. Nearly every title I have covered so far has featured some kind of "war. As an newfound expert on war, I think this doesn't do a bad job setting up the potential clash. Instigating a big arc right after a happy ending is a pretty brutal choice, and I am convinced that makes Tom Taylor a sadist. In any case, the artwork is mostly solid, and the story seems to be on the right track. I want to see more war and gods next time, but I cannot undervalue the big beats of character connections.

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5
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #2

Sep 20, 2022

I don't know how to compliment this issue in a way that doesn't sound backhanded. It is not a bad issue, but it has more than a few double edged positives. I like the gestures, but not the terrible portions of background, faces, and the "what if? designs. The character interactions between Guy and Brainiac stole the show, but the actions of some of the characters make them unrelatable and others outright unlikable. Overall, this issue was a mixed bag with mixed emotions, which usually results in a mixed score. As long as enjoyment can still be found in this wacky, yet self-serious series then that score will remain mixed positive.

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5.5
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #3

Oct 18, 2022

War of The Undead Gods thematically revels in misery. So much is F.U.B.A.R at this stage in the DCeased universe, that I tend to feel very disconnected from each issue. As a reader, I have lost hope that any of the sadism spreading in that universe is leading to any pleasing outcome whatsoever. Although the layout is good, there are far too many ugly distractions taking away from the emotional beats. Just because DCeased doesn't appeal to me, doesn't mean readers looking for gore, misery, and space battles won't find satisfaction. I like how this issue is exploring the wider universe, and maybe there are even cooler things to come.

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5.5
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #4

Nov 15, 2022

Although the artwork seems rushed and sloppy, there are a few good things about this issue. I really enjoyed how Alfred's guilty conscience continued to affect him, especially knowing there is a cure. I also like how the cure complicates the tactics the Justice League are willing to commit to. Overall, the story should have accomplished more by its midpoint. While its complex ideas are redeeming, nothing has hooked me in enough to encourage anyone to continue reading this.

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4
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #5

Dec 20, 2022

DCeased has been running a morbid zombie campaign for nearly five years. Pass the half way mark, the series only seems to care about the next metal scenario to come. I can only believe that Tom and Trevor are intentionally creating issue after issue of depressing and joyless fiction on purpose. Why else do you need a big bad darker than an undead Darkseid? You don't corrupt symbols of hope for no reason, you deconstruct them to support their existence in the first place. Undead Gods seems like it is playing a tune that a specific niche wants to hear. At least for now, it is unwelcome in my playlist. I am at least curious about what the Spectre will do with a sword!

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4
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #6

Feb 21, 2023

I don't like DCeased, but I don't speak for everyone. There are readers who don't mind the tone, gore, or meandering direction of the story. As for me, things get far too morbid for me. Lately, each issue has been a rinse and repeat of the same horrifying and depressing beats. One character brutally dies, another succumbs to anti-life, and everyone sheds tears until we do it again. In many ways I find myself thematically grasping for meaning in something I believe to be unnecessarily mean. I encourage anyone looking for this kind of tragedy to continue reading this book, but anyone else is reading at their own peril.

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5
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #7

Mar 21, 2023

War of the Undead Gods operates like a cheap action horror. It truly believes its big and gory action scenes are enough to supplement the flaws in the storytelling. While I find Alfred and Cyborg's story arcs to be among its strengths, Undead Gods cannot put the hope back into this story. Additionally, the book is ugly, depressing, and wildly superficial at times. Yes, the zombie story has overplayed its hand, overstayed its welcome, and is difficult to enjoy. If this issue is any indication, the final conflict with Erebos will no doubt be a horrific battle that won't mean anything at all. One can only hope to be proven wrong.

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5.5
DCeased: War of the Undead Gods #8

Apr 18, 2023

War of the Undead Gods continues the DCeased series long after its expiration date. While mostly a morbid story, basking in the carnage and despair of notable characters, Undead Gods manages to tell a story about hope within hopelessness. Albeit, the story only really accomplishes this after killing whole families and civilizations for impact. I found some of the gnarly “what if” aspects such as Alfred as the Spectre, undead Mr. Mxyzptlk, and Yellow Lantern Darkseid some of the only likeable standouts. However, none of these superficial aspects do much to save the morbid storytelling or maddeningly distorted artwork. Outside of the ending, the series has disappointed my expectations for deeper storytelling. Overall, I can only hope Taylor finally lays DCeased to rest.

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6.5
Deathstroke Inc. (2021) #9

May 26, 2022

In isolation this may be the best single issue of Shadow War. It is clean and straight to the point. Bad guy hurt, angry, and ready for war. On the other hand, I expect the inevitable fanboy screeching that is sure to happen anytime Ghostmaker clashes with any fan favorite character. Does his inclusion ruin the story? No, but it doesn't help. Ultimately, it is a perfectly fine read and lead up to Robin #14, where I'm sure some kind of War will begin.

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7
Jurassic League (2022) #4

Aug 11, 2022

Ultimately, Jurassic League manages to keep giving readers a satisfying tongue-and-cheek adventure. Little hints of blood or violence mesh seamlessly with the humorous world. The delightful artwork blooms from page to page. The charm does slightly wear off at times as more complex plots begin to form. Even as the honeymoon concludes, the book still finds sure footing by grounding the characters with moral disagreements. As far as I'm concerned, there is still fun to be had in the Dino World.

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5.5
Knight Terrors: Black Adam (2023) #2

Aug 1, 2023

What works best about Knight Terrors: Black Adam is how it can function as an introspective story regardless of the event. Despite the overall underwhelming appeal of Knight Terrors' current narrative, some of the looser connected stories seem to fare better. When the story guides Adam through a tour of his guilty psyche, it stands beyond whatever treasure hunt the big bad is up to. Unfortunately, there are plenty of issues with the narrative and artwork to call buying this issue into question. Outside of the spooky atmosphere and personal aspect to the story, most of what transpires is too shallow for the overarching or standalone stories. Simply put, it is extremely disposable until proven otherwise. As it nears its conclusion, I hope it can wrap itself up in a way that services either narrative nicely.

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6
Knight Terrors: Punchline (2023) #1

Jul 18, 2023

Overall, Punchline is a hard sell. There is no fun in reading a meandering mystery with a clueless character we already don't like. I understand the metaphor, it just isn't working. However, the artwork is a visual treat and action is pleasing from panel to panel. I especially loved the look of the Royal Flush Gang and the Gothic setting. Though it is unexpectedly ironic how Gleb Melnikov's cover literally implies Punchline is trash. In fact, my worse complaint is that the overarching concept of Knight Terrors and Punchline aren't interesting. Despite Danny Lore taking a decent dive into her psyche, readers can only look forward to an annoying story of a villain in denial. I hope part two changes my mind.

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5
Knight Terrors: Punchline (2023) #2

Aug 15, 2023

In terms of the meta commentary, I don't feel the need to dispel any of Punchline's comments about the internet. While it is unenviable to write a villain as the protagonist, I don't like using Punchline as a vessel for the author's justifications against the readers. Although the character is still trying to find her place, asking readers to empathize with a sociopath is tough. Outside of a generally well received design, Punchline isn't nearly as beloved or redeemable as Harley Quinn. A story about contending with the internet wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't on the side of someone who regularly abuses it. Worst of all, the villain's interest in Punchline at all during this event feels entirely unnecessary. On a positive note, the artwork, framing, and tone of the tie-in looks fine, but overall this is essentially just spam.

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7.5
Knight Terrors: Titans (2023) #1

Jul 25, 2023

Nothing about the Knight Terrors event seems to be compelling enough on it's own. Luckily, this book drives up enough interest in its isolated storyline to warrant a nice read. In fact, it is not dissimilar to the Teen Titans (2003) episode “Fear Itself.” Much like this, in the episode the Titans are unable to leave the Tower and must confront manifestations of Raven's darkest fears. The artwork makes use of color, ink, and creative imagery to draw interest in the story and its mysterious protagonist. Overall, I can recommend this book to anyone, even if you don't understand the overarching premise in Knight Terrors. Looking forward to part two!

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5.5
Knight Terrors: Titans (2023) #2

Aug 22, 2023

The protagonist, hereafter referred to as Joanne, is the unlikely hero and villain of the story. In spite of the Titans or the larger Knight Terrors storyline, this story is about a house having an identity crisis. In fact, the house is still alive for no reason by the time the story ends. Excusing the nightmare world bleeding into the real world, there is no telling how long the Tower will continue to “have feelings, emotion, and personality.” Although, I admit that I am curious how the other Titans will feel about the new development. I would prefer if the Titans weren't just being awkward bystanders in their own tie-in, even if I understand the theme of self-acceptance.

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6
Lazarus Planet (2023): Dark Fate #1

Feb 14, 2023

The book looks great at times, but often remains uneventful. Most of the tales in the anthology follow new characters, cartoonish art, and plots right out of serial television. Although, none of these Lazarus Planet tie-ins are that good on their own, readers can at least count on some engrossing teases to future storylines. In this issue, I'll definitely cosign a Dennis Culver led Doom Patrol, but Circuit Breaker, Xanthe Zhou, and Batgirl might be a bit harder. In terms of Lazarus Planet so far, I don't think the rain is playing a part effectively, and find myself wondering who thought spin-offs were necessary at all.

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7.5
Lazarus Planet (2023): Alpha #1

Jan 10, 2023

Overall, Alpha reads like an audition for a line wide event that goesjust okay. Not quite earning my faith in the literal storm tracker map of promised spin-offs, but not scaring me away either. Nezha is essentially Robin's Trigon. I want to buy into the event, but “King Fire Bull” isn't intimidating, nor do I think Nezha was dealt with properly in the last series. Events have often begun to overstay their welcome with their spin-offs, tie-ins, Alphas, and Omegas. If Lazarus Planet has any hope of survival, they should keep up the quality artwork and focus on the stories that mean the most.

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5.5
Lazarus Planet (2023): Next Evolution #1

Feb 7, 2023

While I can't stand the fact that Lazarus Planet's tie-ins only exist to set up things that have little to do with the event, this book is the most fun overall. Red Canary and Elevation do a surprisingly good job at showing cool aspects of the newer wave of DC characters. I genuinely hope to see Flatline, Red Canary, and Sideways again at some point. Maybe they can finally put them in a group or something. On the other hand, the stories for Dead Eye and Red Hood feel like pointless inclusions, despite staying the closest to the event. All in all, nothing in the narrative of this book drives me to recommend this. While some of them are undeniably fun teasers, Next Evolution doesn't feature any stories that feel necessary or captivating. I'd rather just read the books they're advertising.

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6.5
Lazarus Planet (2023): Omega #1

Feb 21, 2023

Lazarus Planet is a very unclear event from issues Alpha to Omega. If Waid intends to write a story about fatherhood, then maybe focus on Damian or Fire Bull more. None of the tie-ins or spin-offs matter to the overall conflict, and feel like excuses to introduce new characters and mess with older ones. Although the conflict will resolve in another issue of Batman Vs. Robin, I think publishing this event was a waste of time. Apart from the often amazing visuals and sometimes creative spin-offs, there was no reason to envelope the DCU in a widely superficial conflict. Overall, I think the creative team couldn't make the narrative, characters, and East Asian influences, add up to something that made sense.

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6
Lazarus Planet (2023): Legends Reborn #1

Jan 31, 2023

Not bad. Lazarus Planet: Legends Reborn seemingly tasks these writers to put life into old and new characters. Some have potential, and others are just future loose ends waiting to happen. To truly invest in these four journeys, you have to be able to tell engaging stories. For the most part, a lot of the stories use passive protagonists in no hurry to make a difference. In other cases, the heroes can't even dress the part. On a positive note, I really enjoyed the visuals and characters in this book. Negatively, this anthology is insignificant in the greater narrative, while trying to be coy with its own. None of these stories are big enough for the word legendary, but maybe could settle for satisfactory.

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7
Nightwing (2016) #106

Sep 19, 2023

Nightwing is a decent book. Taylor and Stephen Byrne make a good team that tells filled stories with clean, readable illustrations. The mystery of the Hold and its preternatural atmosphere gives Nightwing a unique witchy, Salem-like tone we haven't seen very often. The actual group of pirate themed bankers haven't lived up to the hype, which could be a side effect of the “Worf effect” backfiring. In addition, I think Heartless has a lot to prove as an antagonist as well. Although this pirate adventure is off to a rocky start, I'm looking forward to seeing where things go.

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7
Nightwing (2016) #107

Oct 17, 2023

Overall, I'd like to say I enjoyed this pirate adventure, despite a lingering feeling of disappointment. In some ways, the pirate part of things feels low budget like comparing the WWE to a local circuit. There's no good reason a swashbuckling adventure in the DC universe feels this small. Luckily, the intimacy of the story gives it a comfortable tone like the romance novels it lampoons. I just don't think the Crew Of The Crossed Keys are living up to the hype whatsoever in looks or story. Hopefully, Dirk will give the next part of the story the edge it needs to bring it home.

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7
Nightwing (2016) #108

Nov 21, 2023

In my opinion, I can't blame anyone for double crossing Bea. Under her and her father's watch, the entire organization is unquestionably a complete joke. Honestly, Tom Taylor has done an atrocious job of endearing readers to this strangely commercially viable pirate crew. I can't think of a single reason Quartermaster and this group should have ever thought to justify threatening anyone. Even the menacing new villain isn't enough to garner any real challenge out of Nightwing. Overall, while I very much enjoy Stephen Byrne's illustrations and the idea of the group, The Crew of The Crossed Keys are staggeringly underwhelming pirates. At this point, I just want Nightwing to get his possessions from the vault, and let Dirk revitalize the group for evil if there is a chance it will help.

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5.5
Nightwing (2016) #109

Dec 19, 2023

Truthfully, I was hoping for more of a pirate adventure. As it turns out, this arc was a simple family squabble within a commercially viable modern pirate crew exaggerating their strength. I love Nightwing as much as the next guy, but if Grayson can own your whole crew in a blouse, it may be time to embrace humility. Furthermore, the reward is equally underwhelming and didn't warrant a retcon of the Ric Grayson story or supporting cast. At the very least, the art remains consistent highlight with few issues. Worse still, Tom Taylor will explore Nightwing's sudden fear of heights in another arc.

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6.5
Nightwing (2016) #110

Jan 16, 2024

Overall, Nightwing #110 is certainly an entertaining spin-off of the larger event, but lacks verisimilitude. Tom Taylor expects readers to believe that within three days of getting abilities, Ava starts a fight club with elite real estate. Who are these sick Gotham citizens more interested in monetizing a crisis than figuring out how to survive it? Gotham can't be that dense, right? Additionally, Damian ignoring his injuries until he feels like being in pain is a bit too convenient. Not to mention, PSA they give to ease his mind from his actions as a feral monster is impersonal and dull. Luckily, Sam Basri really does a decent job illustrating this issue, while Taylor manages to insert some character interactions I appreciate and others may too! The question is, when will she show up next?

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7
Nightwing (2016) #111

Feb 20, 2024

Archie Goodwin really cracked this kind of story wide open with Batman: The Night Cries, and now I see its influence in everything. It even opens with a similar prose about “a scream” in Gotham. Taylor's story isn't nearly as deep nor focused as that, but this is a much needed change of pace for Nightwing. Most importantly, I appreciate all of the check up Batman does with the family after whatever Gotham War did to his family. Overall, this story is pretty transparent, but I still like it for the most part. Also, there is nothing new I can say about Sam Basri's consistently decent work on Nightwing. In order for this story to stand out more, Taylor would need to really do his best on part two.

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6.5
Nightwing (2016) #112

Mar 19, 2024

Lucky for Tom Taylor, I really love the relationship Bruce has with his sons. Sometimes it feels like Batman doubts the positive influence in the lives of the boys he takes in. Stories like these remind me and readers like me that Batman is a still a great mentor. Also, there aren't many issues with Sam Basri's artwork. On the other hand, there are several convoluted issues and flaws with this story. For example, Loc's illogical plans are either sloppy or stupid. Enjoyment of these two issues will depend on how forgiving readers can be about the tragedy of the Khalid family. Otherwise, it's a simple heartwarming tale about a father's bond with a pointless backup.

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7.5
Nightwing (2016) #113

Apr 16, 2024

Overall, #113 feels like the calm within the eye of the storm. This was a fun and heartfelt issue, despite inconsistencies in the artwork and a few awkward choices. Nothing particularly damaging to the reading experience stands out. Marv and Redondo really did a good job giving himself and the character warm respects. Despite the pressure of making Heartless work, I think Taylor has laid the ground for what could be a decent finale. However, I take off massive points for the uselessly tacked-on “00:01” story.

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9
Nightwing (2016) #114

May 21, 2024

The double-edged sword of telling the story you've always wanted to tell is making it work. Overall, the first part of Taylor and Redondo's big finale is living up to the hype. Unfortunately, oftentimes that means the fall can be far worse. My advice is be careful. If you tell readers you will challenge their hero to their boiling point, then you better turn up the heat as often as you can. In my opinion, Taylor has set up the supervillain wanna-be Heartless very well, but what matters more is what he does from this point on. Redondo and Lucas make a great team and makes Nightwing feel like the A-lister they want him to be. So, for argument's sake, let's start high and see if you can keep it up.

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7.5
Nightwing (2016) #115

Jun 18, 2024

Not much happens in this issue, but it was a pleasure to read. On a positive note, I appreciate the thematic parallels Taylor uses to harken back to the beginning of this storyline. Specifically, visual symmetry like the repeated use of fire to a metaphorical choice like framing Grayson again, makes this feel full circle. Even if Shelton's plan is a bit too basic, there is enough to suggest quite a bit of thought went into this plan. However, something like this going off in Gotham without Batman's signature paranoia kicking in is extremely unrealistic. Still, part two does an effective job of setting up the destruction of Grayson's name and still has my attention for now.

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4.5
Nightwing (2016) Annual: 2024

Apr 30, 2024

Overall, this annual could either improve or ruin the reader's feelings about Nightwing lore. While the story promises to shed light on a mysterious supporting character, personally, it complicates things for no reason. Turning a bartender into a swashbuckling avenger is one thing, but implying she is in the shadows manipulating things is a bridge too far. Some readers won't mind, but I believe these new retcons do both Bea and Dick a disservice. Yet, I don't believe this is a particularly bad comic, just disappointing and annoying. I appreciate exploring these old stories again, but not the expense of these characters.

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4
Outsiders (2023) #1

Nov 14, 2023

Overall, this is an extremely messy first issue. The series hook is weak, the dialogue is clich, and the artwork is isn't all too good. However, some of the designs like Batwoman's snowsuit or Batwing's nano suit are appealing. Unfortunately, this book is generally ugly and hard to read. Personally, the Outsiders have always been hard to find a way to fit in. With a more coherent direction, this overlooked team and underrepresented characters may have had a chance. Ultimately, the potential is still there, but depends on far clearing writing and artwork.

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6.5
Outsiders (2023) #2

Dec 12, 2023

Outsiders #2 is taking a procedural monster of the week format. For the most part, there is finite connective tissue between each issue so far. As a result, I can assume that whatever mysteries or unknowns the heroes encounter will remain mostly self-contained. The humor works to cut through the awkward scenarios, though it seems as the Outsiders don't have a clue what they're doing. Moreover, the illustrations on the page vary in quality, but overall I'd say readers shouldn't have much of a problem outside of poor layout and choice of copy. On a positive note, I like the unofficial trend of getting a new Batwoman costume each issue. So far, the book finds a way to be fun while starving readers of satisfying answers.

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5
Outsiders (2023) #3

Jan 9, 2024

Clearly, despite the format, Kelly and Lanzing are building toward some kind of Dark Multiverse related reveal. In fact, this issue unveils that the ugly brown copy in the series is actually apart of a suspicious log Drummer possesses. Whether Drummer intentions are pure or not, they are hiding knowledge of a meta "narrative virus. In terms of character development, this poor attempt to distance Batwing from the cowl may have distracting lasting effects in the future. Otherwise, Outsiders isn't very subtle or creative, despite a few cool looking panels of staircases.

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6
Outsiders (2023) #4

Feb 13, 2024

Overall, Wildstorm seems to be making a big comeback. Whether Drummer's suspicious behavior is leading to a betrayal is unclear, but the Outsiders are oblivious to what they know. Furthermore, Jenny Crisis will garner mixed reactions from readers. Her story is fairly intriguing, even if she won't ultimately join the series. Despite being one of the strongest issues so far, Outsiders' monster of the week format isn't doing the series any favors right now. In fact, I think the book could benefit from a bit more connectivity opposed to the feeling of randomness. Or at least do more exploration and discovery.

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5.5
Outsiders (2023) #5

Mar 12, 2024

Overall, this issue was okay. Outside of the mildly distracting backgrounds that look like posterized jpegs, the artwork is fine too. I especially found the lighting and ink to be a highlight, even if it is seemingly uses it as a crutch to hide how empty the book is. Moreover, the dialogue doesn't always come off natural. On a positive note, I really like how much this series uses the lore to tell these standalone stories. Although, Lanzing and Kelly are leaving a lot of story on the table. None of the past few stories have gone anywhere. The new passive Outsiders attend a party they didn't like for information they could get anywhere else. Hopefully things pick up because the group feel extremely depressing and disinterested in each scenario.

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6.5
Outsiders (2023) #6

Apr 9, 2024

This was alright, but the actual Outsiders are taking a backseat to Wildstorm! What is abundantly clear is that this is DC's attempt at literally reviving Planetary. With Drummer's secret partially revealed, I can comfortably recommend this to any Wildstorm lover enjoying all the revivals around DC at the moment. The biggest flaw of this book is the uselessly colorful dialogue and narration. Nobody talks nor writes like that except other writers. Moreover, I believe Carey's art style is disappointingly inconsistent, but may not affect enjoyment at this stage. Lucius's portion is interesting and regrettably should have been a bigger part of the book sooner. Overall, this book has had its share of incomprehensible ups and downs, but this issue at least provides half of the answers.

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5
Outsiders (2023) #7

May 14, 2024

In a nutshell, Jakita spends the entire book bemoaning the loss of her world and lying to the "Outsiders. While empathetic to her reality, the harsh truth is that the forcing the readers and the characters to buy the lie wasn't a good idea. Subjectively, its easier to understand Kate walking away than it is to continue following Drummer's selfish beat. Writing Outsiders with the ulterior motivation of missing Planetary has made the story feel superficial. The artwork isn't that great, but at least it's readable in spite of the esoteric content. Overall, Outsiders #7 is a poor attempt to force another series into another. Falsely advertising this series as Outsiders may bother some readers, but others may take whatever Wildstorm content they get at whatever expense.

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6
Outsiders (2023) #8

Jun 11, 2024

Outsiders is beginning the long road to a confrontation with a mysterious antagonist. In a way, this evil silhouette and subsequent McGuffins are excuses to give the Outsiders something to resist. Luckily, this issue remains a somewhat self-contained adventure between an unlikely duo of characters. It's fun, mysterious, and often times creative, and that is more than enough to earn a decent recommendation these days. It would be unfair to mourn what this book should be, and just settle for the monster-of-the-week sci-fi tale it offers. Which is to say, characters show up with unresolved baggage, and then they disappear just the same. Overall, if you don't mind quirky guest cameos and hanging plot threads, then you'd get a kick out of this week's Outsiders.

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8
Punchline: The Gotham Game (2022) #1

Oct 25, 2022

Punchline: The Gotham Game is Punchline's big debut exhibition. The book is a fun new opportunity to explore high concepts touching on politics and modern social constructs. While I believe it needs a bit stronger narrative to draw in readers, Gotham Game has a punk inspired tone, unique supporting characters, and intrigue going for it. As far as pilots go, it doesn't have the cleanest execution, but there is plenty road to go on the way to the top.

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5.5
Punchline: The Gotham Game (2022) #2

Nov 22, 2022

The Gotham Game spends more time telling me how seriously I should take Punchline rather than showing me. Regrettably, running a crime syndicate doesn't suit Alexis Kaye's nihilism. In fact, when Hasigawa presents reasonable options to her, Punchline outright rejects them. This tells me that she values anarchy over profit. Punchline's master plan is seemingly to fake it until she makes it. It isn't very fun watching Batman blow a gasket over someone obviously making it up as they go along. I believe the tone, artwork, and story all contribute to this underdog story starting off with lowered expectations. The good thing about low expectations is that there is always room to grow.

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4
Punchline: The Gotham Game (2022) #3

Dec 27, 2022

We aren't let in on the joke. Without insight into Alexis' point of view, reading this is like riding in a car with a creepy stranger or a reckless Uber. There is nothing cool about following a character lying about having everything under control. Punchline is unlikable and at this point pathetic. Three issues into a story, readers should have a stronger hook than "you're not supposed to get it. As the Joker's voice says, "What's a joke without a punchline? However, I think this issue might be the first in a new way to turn things around. I am willing to see if the Howards can take this story in a more exciting direction.

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7
Punchline: The Gotham Game (2022) #4

Jan 24, 2023

Overall, I'm not mad at this issue. In two issues, the Howards have introduced far more interesting antagonists and angles to work with. While I can bet money that almost nobody is finding interest in Alexis Kaye's story right now, there are now some promising threads to follow. I think a big thematic conflict of the active and passive supervillain models makes for good conversation. However, I'm still not comfortable calling up those people on the fence about this book back into the yard just yet. I mean, there have been four issues and each one feels like another pilot episode.

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5
Punchline: The Gotham Game (2022) #5

Feb 27, 2023

Punchline hasn't stopped failing upward since The Gotham Game began. Watching her fumble through her misguided campaign doesn't make much sense, but it isn't much fun to follow either. Yes, there are some good character selection, but they often go to waste. First, they randomly crash a party, then retreat as if they were the ones on the defensive. Although The Royal Flush Gang have hitched their wagons to Punchline's random aspirations, I think they've outgrown her as a leader. Even the heroes and villains have nothing to work with except her arrogant attitude. Ultimately, I'm still waiting for the book to grow up.

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6
Shadow War (2022): Omega #1

May 31, 2022

Shadow War is a pretty messy story with a strangely satisfying third act twist. The long stewing culmination of years of DC stories is Shadow War's best and only card, but may have been played too late. Many of the lead-in and tie-in stories have felt superficial and almost entirely disposable. In conclusion, Shadow War Omega has more good will than I can say for the mixed event as a whole. However, recommending this book depends on your level of investment with the characters involved. If you already were sour on the whole ordeal, this won't change your mind.

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8
Spirit World (2023) #1

May 9, 2023

At times, Spirit World feels like an indie comic or manga. Other times, Spirit World feels very familiar like a television show someone told you about, but finally got around to. I urge Alyssa Wong to take advantage of the world building the world of Spirit World. Readers will likely follow this tale so long as there remains a good bit of curiosity about the lore. The sole negative aspect is the divisiveness of the specific material. Nearly every aspect of the book fits into a specific niche that many may interpret as pandering to an agenda. Though with patience, I'm hoping readers can find something cool about this new if not all that original character.

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7
Spirit World (2023) #2

Jun 13, 2023

Overall, Spirit World is entertaining, but has a few distracting flaws. While I appreciate the nuance in working topics of gender identity into the complex lore, some of the choices come off way too convenient or heavy handed. While the mystery of Xanthe's identity can be relatable, it is not nearly as compelling as it could be. To be honest, most of the conflict in the issue is an awkward family dinner and a tangential mission. I believe we haven't seen the best of what awaits Spirit World, and sincerely hope it continues it's exciting art style and mysterious tone.

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6.5
Spirit World (2023) #3

Jul 11, 2023

I hate to say it, but this series has a huge pacing issue. It only took three issues for Batgirl and Xanthe's storylines to wrap up. The story went from escaping the Spirit World and getting to the bottom of Xanthe's memory loss, to saving the Spirit World and getting to the bottom of Cassie's memory loss in two issues. For example, a series like Digimon Adventure sets a goal of getting to “File Island” over several episodes, and their goal complicates when they learn about Devimon, split up, and invest in the digital world. Regardless of any of their new goals, the story still hinges wanting to go home safely. Conversely, Spirit World moves the goal post entirely. Don't get me wrong, I like the art and fun cast of characters, but if you have to repilot so soon, there might not be anything here at all.

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6
Spirit World (2023) #4

Aug 8, 2023

Overall, Spirit World #4 operates like a video game boss stage. Basically, a protagonist with a mysterious past teams up with an elder mage and a edgy warrior to go on a series of dangerous quests in a mythical world. The team spends time gathering resources to beat the mini boss, and even teams up with an overpowered temporary ally whom leaves the party. Given that, there isn't much depth to this particular chapter. It isn't particularly bad, but the use of tropes, clichs, and unoriginal dialogue isn't impressive either. Hopefully it gets back to some compelling storytelling, but for now it has the appeal of a mindless “beat 'em up” video game.

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3
Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum (2024) #1

Feb 6, 2024

For players of Kill The Justice League, this first issue isn't necessary to pick up before playing. Apart from a few new bits of information, it provides no satisfying connection with the Rocksteady Arkham universe and an even less satisfying self-contained story. However, the look and humor of the book is decent. While overloaded with exposition that has to use smaller font to fit within the word bubbles, the rough inks give the illustrations a passable but gritty punk look. Unfortunately, the book is unsubtle, ugly, wordy, and frankly ridiculous. Ultimately, skip it if you have to, but pick it up if you feel the need.

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5
Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum (2024) #2

Mar 5, 2024

While I still can't recommend this book, this issue was a vast improvement over the first. The dark humor in Krupps rise and fall in Arkham garners a few chuckles from me, and Deadshot's tale is equally pleasing. That said, the artwork is sloppy and unclear at times, the premise makes no sense, and the bulk of the story feels like unnecessary padding. Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum has nothing to say and nothing to add to an already mindless experience. Fortunately, I did enjoy the Stanford Prison Experiment-like vibe of the book, even if it felt unwarranted.

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6
Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum (2024) #3

Apr 2, 2024

I'm not mad at this. Comparatively, this may be the best issue of Kill Arkham Asylum so far. The loose, sketchy artwork isn't that bad, the reaction shots of Debra Wilson got a laugh out of me, and this story is fairly straightforward. Then again, it tries to slip in an odd Fanta product placement, Waller is still cartoonish evil, and nothing about this entire premise makes sense. Yet, I think Harley's point of view somehow makes the ridiculousness more tolerable, allowing readers to take it less seriously. It's not amazing, but like my dad always says about food that is edible but not exactly good, “It'll make a turd.”

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6.5
Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum (2024) #4

May 7, 2024

Even without the cold open, there is no sense of peril for Boomerang overcoming his foes in a prequel for a video game. Conversely, it is still fun to read. The somewhat decent art style, creative enemies, and precarious (but hilarious) situation Captain Boomerang finds himself is entertaining. If anything, it is abundantly clear that Amanda Waller is becoming far more sadistic in every incarnation. Waller doing bad things to bad people isn't so surprising, but the level of masochism she displays to find a way to kill heroes is insane. Overall, this is another readable issue of this entirely skippable series if you like Boomerang on top!

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5
Suicide Squad: Kill Arkham Asylum (2024) #5

Jun 4, 2024

This is a decent King Shark story. First of all, on a superficial level, he just looks cool. Outside of some blob-like figures or framing issues, Kill Arkham Asylum #5 has decent artwork. Secondly, reading Shark's escape was interesting and endears readers to his thought process. While Waller's overall plan is to make omelets out of killing a few bad eggs, this story makes no sense. Furthermore, the game itself doubles down on this ridiculous process by forcing each of these survivors to try to kill one another as well. I would love to say Kill Arkham Asylum was a worthy tie-in, but it is almost entirely skippable. It character assassinates Waller even more than the game, before assigning you to control these morons in an even less coherent setting. So, if readers have time to burn, it may have some entertainment value if you turn your brain off.

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6
Titans (2023) #1

May 16, 2023

The new Titans book unwittingly inherits the baggage of several previous stories. Despite the squeaky clean redesign, the characters and story feel like a rehash of old patterns. On a positive note, the book has a good tone regardless of the sickeningly upbeat cast. Overall, Titans #1 lays the groundwork for the next phase of DC storytelling synergy. Readers can probably expect more teases of Peacemaker, Amanda Waller, and whatever Garth is up to in the future. Although, Taylor is directly teeing up Brother Blood as their first foe suspiciously following his appearance in the Titans series finale on HBOMAX. In the meantime, the Titans will continue to strive to surpass the Justice League by seemingly doing exactly what they've always done.

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7.5
Titans (2023) #2

Jun 20, 2023

The new Titans series has solid illustration, but often problematic plot choices. On the positive side, it utilizes all of the Titans and they feel like they each contribute something to the plot and overall atmosphere. On the negative side, there is an abundance of sketchy history Taylor wants us to be aware of, but not look too deep into. In fact, it has such a loose handle on lore that it copies, rehashes, or contradicts a lot of the references it tries to invoke. Overall, I don't want to penalize the book too badly, but leaning on shaky foundations can lead to confusion. Luckily, the story is still massively entertaining, and has a lot of potential to outdo the story threads it desperately wants to succeed.

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7
Titans (2023) #3

Sep 19, 2023

I hate to be that guy, but nobody buys Brother Blood's reform whatsoever. Even in 2D, Tempest's oversell of disgust and disappointment in the evil church feels off. Let's be honest, that's definitely a compliment to Nicola Scott artwork and gesture illustrations. Furthermore, the Titans team feel like they work best when they have something to care about. So far, most of the team's personalities and missions feel slightly hollow in the writing. None of them feel like individuals. The best portion of the book is how Wally approaches his mortality head first, yet everyone else reacts with disappointment but overall understanding. Overall, the book is moving at a decent pace, looks good, and keeps a sense of fun and much needed mystery.

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6
Titans (2023) #4

Oct 17, 2023

Titans #4 slows things down to plant more seeds for things down the road. While the art is comfortable and light, much of the action and antagonists are generic. What works about this edition is its use of foreshadowing of Beast Boy's big mission, the alien parasites, and whatever is going on with Amanda Waller. I don't think the Wally murder plot is working, because much of the details feel underthought or rushed. For example, the introduction of Linda would only make sense if they acknowledge how silly it is to endanger her without reason. It requires too many uncomfortable convivences to be true at once. As for the Demolition Team taking over Borneo, Taylor has yet to reveal what they hope to accomplish with demolition, murder, and kidnapping at a meteor site. I always assume that the writer knows where things going, but the loose ends feel small time and dangerously close to improv.

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7.5
Titans (2023) #5

Nov 21, 2023

Out of the Shadows is mostly about standing for something as a group outside of the shadow of the Justice League. Instead, the team operates more like the Saturday morning cartoon version of a worldwide superhero team. Although the beginning of the series is underwhelming, their focus on mature, tangible goals for the planet seems promising. Much of what Beast Boy tries to say feels like frustrations felt by activists around the globe. In many ways, Garfield's PSA is noble, even if consistently showing how unstable his emotions have become. None of the villains or plot points are living up to the challenge, but at least the messages are. Lastly, I'm happy Taylor acknowledges and addresses many of the things that I've questioned in previous issues. Even if the book has the tone of High School Musical, Titans has the potential to try something new and maybe heal the world.

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6.5
Titans (2023) #6

Dec 26, 2023

Overall, the book is entertaining to read, but consistently ridiculous. Readers have to constantly suspend their disbelief to believe the Titans have everything under control. I give the characters like Nightwing and Starfire points for vocalizing how they have mishandled things so far. However, Tom Taylor makes the Titans team feel enormously irresponsible. Regardless of how likable Clancy, Detective Chimp, or the kids are; none of these people are qualified or necessary to tackle a pandemic of this magnitude. Even Brother Eternity making up a working strategy in the middle of his loss is embarrassing. Still, I do feel as if the Titans team are slowly stepping into the shoes of the Justice League, as it is the main goal of the series.

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7
Titans: Beast World (2023) #1

Nov 28, 2023

Overall, the Titan's first real event is on a rough, but potentially workable path. In many ways it feels very similar to DCeased, so this could have pull with certain demographics of readers.

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7
Titans: Beast World (2023) #2

Dec 12, 2023

Overall, Beast World is a serious problem for these characters. This may be the worse tragedy to hit mainstream continuity since the last real crisis. Luckily, Ivan Reis makes the trauma look good. While Tom Taylor justifies turning everyone into violent furries to set up Amanda Waller, the event does warrant interesting questions. Firstly, where does the DC Universe go from here? The implications of this event would be incredibly brave to explore in future stories. Especially, seeing what happens to the heroes and civilians grasping with the aftermath has incredible potential. As for the Titans, I don't think they have what it takes to handle the weight of this crisis. Unless Tom Taylor has a way to redeem them, DC's premiere team haven't satisfyingly grown to scale with their problems.

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7.5
Titans: Beast World (2023) #3

Dec 26, 2023

I wholeheartedly believe that the same crowd of people who have enjoyed series like DCeased will not have issues with Beast World. If readers can tolerate the wonky premise, the overall tone, decent artwork, corny dialogue, and silly characters; then they will have fun with this. Otherwise, there aren't very many new reasons to stop if you've already begun. Donna, Waller, Detective Chimp, and Jon Kent's appearances rank among some of the highlights of this issue. While I'm still waiting to see how it all weaves together, this issue is the most entertaining the event has been so far.

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8.5
Titans: Beast World (2023) #4

Jan 9, 2024

Overall, Tom Taylor has found his rhythm and the rest of the DC universe is shaking. For now, I hope he keeps it up.

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7
Titans: Beast World (2023) #5

Jan 23, 2024

In conclusion, Beast World is capable of much more than it's going to give. Frustratingly, the lead characters have spent most of this event playing defense or the backseat. Worse of all, Waller's actions and the Dr. Hate reveal continuously makes them look incompetent. On a positive note, this story has gripping ideas and decent artwork. Frankly, the ethical conversations and wild concepts around the heroes role in society are carrying the book. Yet, various details unravel the good will Taylor earns with this humiliating direction. Still, as the penultimate chapter, Beast World #5 accomplishes this necessary phase of the magic trick. I truly hope it finds a good place to land, despite the embarrassing cliffhanger.

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6.5
Titans: Beast World (2023) #6

Jan 30, 2024

With three artists at work, there are some moments of inconsistency, but otherwise it's a good looking book. As per the story, Tom Taylor roughly justifies each story decision with loose logic and conveniences. All of the more interesting emotional and political ideas take a back seat to serving the Titans awkward contrivances. On a positive note, I love the subversion of classic stories like Tower of Babel to give the Titans a distinct identity apart from the Justice League. Even though much of the choices like Donna's super suit reek of overcompensating to put the team on a higher tier. Overall, ignoring and handicapping the team for most of the event, then buffing the team at the end feels inorganic. Especially, the useless addition of antagonist's identity feels like an unnecessary distraction from the key themes the event focuses on.

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