Jennifer Cheng's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comic Book Resources Reviews: 455
6.9Avg. Review Rating

6.0
100 Bullets: Brother Lono #1

Jun 21, 2013

"100 Bullets: Brother Lono" #1 is a true return to Azzarello and Risso's vivid world, intact in texture and mood. Unfortunately, it also it showboats with attention-hungry, sensationalistic violence. Although I appreciate the irony of a debut in which Lono doesn't do much but wear a Hawaiian shirt and walk around peaceably, the lasting impression of the story is that it has more style than substance.

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6.0
47 Ronin #2

Jan 7, 2013

"47 Ronin" #2 is a worthwhile read, but I have to agree with fellow reviewer Greg McElhatton's observation about "47 Ronin" #1, that the writing (still) needs to catch up to the art.

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8.0
A Voice In The Dark #1

Nov 22, 2013

Taylor successfully funded "A Voice in the Dark" as an independently published miniseries before the title found a new home at Top Cow/Minotaur, and it's easy to see why. His craft lives up to the task of fleshing out his catchy premise.

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7.0
A Voice In The Dark #5

Mar 24, 2014

"A Voice in the Dark" #5 maintains the series' strong plotting and suspense, although the characterization suffers a little in service of the plot.

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7.0
Adventure Time #9

Oct 29, 2012

However, the back-up stories generally are a great feature of "Adventure Time," and the series as a whole continues to have distinctive, funny dialogue and a variety of engaging characters and unpredictable fantasy adventures.

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8.0
Adventure Time #19

Aug 26, 2013

Both the main story and the backup in "Adventure Time" #19 focus on friendship, but North and Paroline's story is dominated by character complexity and word play, while Hirsch's story is dominated by physical or visual complexity. The two stories pair well, showing off the humor and dense, skillful storytelling that "Adventure Time" consistently features.

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7.0
Adventure Time #50

Mar 16, 2016

"Adventure Time" #50 is a successful one-shot story that makes points about free will and a hero's duty and commitment and honors Finn as part of that tradition. However, Hastings' emphasis on advancing the concept of the Eternal Hero comes with some cost to other characters, who are equally -- if not more -- beloved and iconic.

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9.0
Adventure Time 2013 Spoooktacular #1

Nov 1, 2013

"Adventure Time 2013 Spooktacular" is an unusually strong anthology and is worth a read by any comics fan, but will be particularly fun for readers who want kid-friendly spooky Halloween stories that will also thrill adults.

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6.0
Adventure Time 2014 Winter Special #1

Jan 31, 2014

"Eye Scream" by Janet Rose and Allison Strejlaw features the largest case of characters from the regular "Adventure Time" roster. It features a plot that, like "Snow Hope" revolves around a case of mistaken assumptions about intention. Strejlaw's panel composition for the action scenes is very strong, and the "snow creature" she draws looks like one of Jeff Smith's rat creatures from "Bone." The goofy food humor of the story ends this solid anthology on a cheerful note.

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6.0
Adventure Time Annual #1

May 31, 2013

Like all anthologies, "Adventure Time Annual" #1 is a mixed bag. However, for those who want to see how other creative teams fare with the "Adventure Time" cast and universe, it's definitely worth a look, particularly for Carlson and Nguyen's "No Dogs Allowed" and Bing and Monster's "The Lemon Sea."

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8.0
Adventure Time: Candy Capers #2

Aug 19, 2013

Finn and Jake are entirely absent from "Adventure Time: Candy Capers" #2, and the overarching frame regarding their whereabouts makes no progress in the plot. It doesn't matter a bit. The frame is just a vehicle for Panagariya, Ota and McGinty to offer the reader neatly self-contained short pieces focusing on character interactions. If the rest of "Adventure Time: Candy Capers" is as good as the first two issues, loyal readers are in for more sweet treats.

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8.0
Adventure Time: Candy Capers #6

Dec 16, 2013

"Adventure Time: Candy Capers" is a satisfying ending to another strong "Adventure Time" spin-off miniseries. It's notable for its non-mammalian protagonists and how it deliberately takes Finn and Jake out of the story and successfully directs the spotlight to supporting cast members and their friendships.

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8.0
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake #1

Jan 7, 2013

"Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake" #1 is hilarious, clever and a great time, and if that isn't enough by itself, I've never seen such a successful example of gender-swapping. After reading it, (dare I say it?) I'm fonder of Fionna and Cake than Finn and Jake, and I didn't expect that to be the case.

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8.0
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake #3

Mar 11, 2013

I highly recommend "Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake" #3 as being some satisfying and sweet fun, especially but not only if the reader is already a fan of the "Adventure Time" cast.

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8.0
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake #4

Apr 15, 2013

Since "Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake" #4 is a miniseries, it's a surprise that Allegri would choose to use almost a whole issue for a self-contained detour of a moral fable. However, Lumpy Space Prince is an enjoyable, if limited, source of comic relief, and as a whole, the series remains as good as or better than its predecessor and counterpart, "Adventure Time with Finn and Jake."

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8.0
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake #5

May 27, 2013

"Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake" #5 continues to be a great all-ages title that consistently delivers a great mix of action, character interaction and humor in a very pretty package. It also contains a strong sense of right and wrong, heroism/action/adventure mixed harmoniously with femininity and plenty of strong female characters. Even more impressively, it wears these secondary concerns on its sleeve without ever sacrificing the story or art for a political agenda. Like "Adventure Time with Finn and Jake," "Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake" is smart, whimsical humor that deserves an ever-wider audience.

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8.0
Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake #6

Jul 8, 2013

Still, despite the odd closing note, "Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake" #6 is full of surprises and twists, and it's also a satisfying, strong ending to a distinctive, excellent miniseries.

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4.0
Adventure Time: Ice King #1

Jan 25, 2016

As the main antagonist in "Adventure Time," Ice King has been overdue for his own miniseries, but unfortunately "Adventure Time: Ice King" #1 is a departure from the high standard set by the cartoon, the ongoing series and previous miniseries and spinoffs.

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7.0
Adventure Time: The Flip Side #1

Jan 10, 2014

Despite these verbal and visual strengths, "Adventure Time: The Flip Side" #1 feels a little too episodic and unhurried in pacing, since the yet-to-be-revealed central plot device was played up as more than just a vehicle for character interactions. That said, it's a good debut in that it's a fun read, and it succeeds in creating curiosity about what's next.

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8.0
Adventure Time: The Flip Side #3

Mar 11, 2014

"Adventure Time: The Flip Side" #3 is ridiculous fun, building organically on the characters from the parent series while carving out its own off-beat territory. Boom continues to line up consistently strong creative teams for every "Adventure Time" spin-off miniseries. "Adventure Time: The Flip Side" is definitely worth checking out, either as a longtime fan or as a new reader.

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7.0
Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #1

Jun 8, 2015

"Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians" #1 continues Delgado's strong work from previous "Age of Reptiles" series. It's an unorthodox reading experience that comfortably reproduces the rhythms of a wildlife film, but with dinosaurs instead of lions and giraffes. It's worth reading for its unusual balance of serenity and tension as it imagines the passage of time in a prehistoric world.

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5.0
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Jan 18, 2016

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" #1 doesn't add much yet to the franchise yet, but this debut shows flashes of promise. The plot and action move along predictably, but there is both verbal and visual energy in the pages and the team feels cohesive.

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9.0
Alex + Ada #2

Dec 13, 2013

Alex's life and the space in which he works and lives feels clean and uncluttered, but also lonely, and much of this is due to Luna's spare style. Thus, Ada's presence in "Alex + Ada" feels like a flower blooming, or a blush of heat in a cool room. Luna's interiors have an Edward Hopper-esque feeling of depth. His color palette of pastels and neutrals is pleasantly subdued and balanced, calming to behold like an Agnes Martin painting. One of the great things about "Alex + Ada" is how quiet it feels in the spaces between Luna's shapes, and how the storytelling is within the movements and feelings as well as words. Vaughn and Luna have followed up on a promising debut with an even better second issue.

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8.0
Alex + Ada #4

Feb 21, 2014

"Alex + Ada" #4 begins with a mechanical-feeling plot device, and the ending cliffhanger is logical and predictable, if still effective. The meat in the middle has a lot of substance, however. Watching the characters and witnessing the Alex's decision-making process is to delight in visual psychological subtlety. Boy Meets Robot isn't a new story, but "Alex + Ada" is an original take on the idea, and Vaughn and Luna's skill make it one of most attractive and distinctive stories on the shelves right now.

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9.0
Alex + Ada #6

May 12, 2014

Though it's a color comic, Luna keeps the palette limited to pale neutrals until the bloom of the only slightly more vibrant colors in the concluding cliffhanger scene in the garden out back. The last page is lovely yet ominous, with Ada's wrist that the mark of her stigma in shadow as she looks uncertainly at a friendly neighbor. Luna and Vaughn let Ada's situation speak for itself. She won't be content to be locked in the house like a secret, and the tension between safety and freedom will dominate what comes next. "Alex + Ada" #6 is another excellent issue from Luna and Vaughn, with a strong progression of internal psychology dynamics and tone along with the consistently strong artwork and characterization.

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7.0
Alex + Ada #8

Aug 11, 2014

"Alex + Ada" #8 is uneven and misses a step in the dance, but the action turns another major corner. The series as a whole is definitely still worth following to the end.

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7.0
Alex + Ada #11

Dec 22, 2014

Most of the unevenness of "Alex + Ada" in recent issues is due to rushed pacing, but the series is still worth picking up for the art and for the scenes in which the moral underpinnings are woven into with the drama.

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6.0
All-New All-Different Avengers #6

Feb 29, 2016

In "All-New, All-Different Avengers" #6, Kang is a flimsy villain and his machinations were unraveled too easily. There was little suspense created around his evil plan, and his monologues made a comical rather than awe-inspiring impression. The villain seems beside the point, though. The weight of the events lies in the consequences for specific team members: Kamala's confidence was chipped, but she rebounds thanks to Nova's intervention, while the damage to The Vision is probably longer-lasting and more troubling. "All-New, All-Different Avengers" #6 is uneven, but Waid is doing a good job of slowly building up the bonds within the team, and there are emotionally resonant moments both on and off the battlefield.

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6.0
All-New Doop #2

May 26, 2014

"All-New Doop" #2 dips a toe into experimenting with metafiction, but it ends up just being a footnote even for fans who want to relive the convoluted time travel shenanigans of "Battle of the Atom," and the romantic hero role doesn't feel well-structured. Lafuente's and Allred's art is worth taking a look at, but overall, having Doop as a main character hasn't been as satisfying as his previous "marginal" roles.

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4.0
All-New X-Men #3

Dec 4, 2012

The pacing and construction of "All-New X-Men" #3 feels clumsy, too, and an interlude scene with a separate cast of mostly humans is just a cardboard setup for the ending double-page spread, which is sapped of dramatic power by all the filler that preceded it. Bendis' narrative requires that the entire cast will inevitably converge, and when that happens, I hope that "All-New X-Men" finds its sweet spot again.

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7.0
All-New X-Men #11

May 3, 2013

The last page of "All New X-Men" #11 promises another round of heated verbal and physical arguments between rival superteams. On one hand, I'm looking forward to this match-up, especially because Bendis excels in scenes where the original X-Men interact with modern-day mutants, but on the other hand, I'm starting to worry about the ratio of character mash-ups to actual plot developments for a title that has been out for half a year now. Bendis and Immonen's "All New X-Men" remains a fun read for its energy and character interactions, but beyond its initial twist, the plotting hasn't been as strong.

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7.0
Alpha: Big Time #2

Mar 18, 2013

The cliffhanger at the end of "Alpha: Big Time" #2 promises for interesting developments next issue. Fiakov's script rings true in how it tracks the aftermath of a calamitous mistake, and I look forward to more of Plati's art, as well as what may turn out to be Fiakov's ironically funny but nuanced exploration of whether power will again prove to be too much for Alpha this time.

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5.0
Amazing Spider-Man (2014): Special #1

Mar 16, 2015

Specials and Annuals have a bad reputation for stories that don't matter and, unfortunately, "Amazing Spider-Man Special" #1 fits that stereotype. The A-list characters stay A-listers and the B-listers don't get reflected glory. The dull plot diminishes the brightness of Loveness' humor and Pizzari's visual energy. Maybe things will get spiced up when Sam Wilson shows up, but the story feels lightweight and minor so far, and the Inhumans don't improve their appeal enough to make them matter to the reader.

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6.0
Angel & Faith Season 9 #11

Jul 3, 2012

By comparison, Gage's writing isn't as consistently rewarding or subtle. However, his handling of Faith is excellent and he does build suspense well for the rest of "Family Reunion." Readers will want to pick up the next issue, if only to see what happens to our heroes in Quor'toth.

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7.0
Angry Birds Comics #1

Jun 13, 2014

"Angry Birds" is a successful debut, because it doesn't just count on riding on the success of the games. The comic is suitable for all ages but won't be boring for adults, and existing fans should be pleased. However, it would be interesting for future issues to try for more formal experimentation or tell a longer story, since there is the space to make different kinds of stories possible.

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6.0
Animal Man #11

Jul 5, 2012

The last page has an attention-grabbing, asymmetrical panel structure that drops into a clean whiteness that envelops the cliffhanger ending. "Animal Man" #11 is a nicely done -- if unsettling -- issue from the entire creative team.

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6.0
Another Castle #1

Mar 7, 2016

The exposition in "Another Castle" #1 is heavy-handed, and the feminist slant -- while well-intentioned -- doesn't have strong enough characterization and action to back it up. However, Fosmoth and Gorga are endearing enough that I'd read more issues just to see what Wheeler does with them.

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7.0
Aquaman (2011) #15

Dec 28, 2012

"Throne of Atlantis" has a lot of strengths as an epic crossover narrative, and it's worth picking up "Justice League" #15 and "Aquaman" #15 for the pacing, dialogue and atmosphere. I hope that as "Throne of Atlantis" further unfolds, the internal and external conflicts will take more surprising turns.

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7.0
Aquaman (2011) #18

Apr 1, 2013

Overall, "Aquaman" #18 is a strong set-up issue, setting up several new stages of conflict for Arthur while dropping none of the existing characters in play or plot threads.

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7.0
Aquaman (2011) #22

Jul 29, 2013

"Aquaman" #22 merely moves things along, but Johns' setup and Pelletier's art promise that the eventual conclusion and fallout from "Death of a King" could be significant for Atlantis and its government by hereditary monarchy.

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6.0
Aquaman (2011) #23.1

Sep 16, 2013

In "Aquaman" #23.1, Black Manta makes a significant choice along the continuum from villain to potential antihero. Despite the low amount of new data and a superficial treatment of motivation, through St. Aubin's art and Bedard's pacing, the story succeeds at imbuing Black Manta with purpose and dignity and creating sympathy for him.

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3.0
Aquaman (2011) Annual #2

Aug 4, 2014

"Aquaman Annual" #2 lacks substance and doesn't give the reader any bang for the buck, but it does close the Giant-born plot thread. This quick dispatching is ultimately a relief due to the thinness of characterization and plotting.

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7.0
Archangel #1

May 23, 2016

"Archangel" #1 successfully launches a fast-paced science fiction thriller. It's a strong debut in a new medium for veteran science fiction writer William Gibson, but it doesn't do anything new in the genre or the medium yet. The pacing and discipline of the story structure are both impressive, but future issues will need to enlarge the emotional and thematic depth if the entire story is to leave more of a mark.

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6.0
Archer & Armstrong #0

May 13, 2013

I enjoyed how Van Lente wove in the classic tale of Gilgamesh into the world of "Archer and Armstrong." It's clear that Van Lente is heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell's theories about mythology and archetype, in particular the idea of the hero's journey. These references enrich "Archer and Armstrong" #0, but ultimately, Van Lente and Henry's origin story for the Anni-Paddas lacks pathos and meaning that transcends its influences.

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7.0
Archer & Armstrong #3

Oct 15, 2012

Still, "Archer and Armstrong" #3 is a compelling comic, with lots of action and rich backstory, and Van Lente's plot twists are refreshingly unpredictable. The final page's cliffhanger prominently displays some familiar and sinister iconography and readers will definitely want to know what happens next.

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8.0
Archer & Armstrong #6

Jan 18, 2013

"Archer and Armstrong" #6 is a new high point for the title. "Wrath of the Eternal Warrior" is shaping up to be an especially rewarding new story arc, broadening the relationships, themes and the breadth of the Valiant Universe without neglecting the regular attractions of action, adventure and buddy comedy.

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7.0
Archer & Armstrong #8

Mar 15, 2013

The twist in the climax of "Archer and Armstrong" #8, when Archer comes face to face with Zorn, is heavily foreshadowed. However, the exact details are still surprising. The last page has an excellent cliffhanger that involves the fate of the Geomancer, and seems to aptly sum up how "Archer and Armstrong" is a consistently entertaining buddy comedy with an unusually fine sense of setting and internal mythology.

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9.0
Archie (2015) #3

Oct 2, 2015

The plot doesn't have any real surprises, the structure is standard and the major characters retain defining traits, but the creative team makes it all feel fresh, if not new. The reader knows what will happen when a rich girl has to slum it, but how it all happens again will delight. This is how to relaunch a classic. The new "Archie" continues live up to the hype. It's one of the best new titles of 2015.

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9.0
Archie (2015) #5

Jan 11, 2016

"Archie" was already an unqualified success for its humor, characterization and art, but "Archie" #5 goes further, achieving a bittersweet profundity without losing its light touch.

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6.0
Archie (2015) #8

May 16, 2016

Characterization and emotional depth fight with the humor in "Archie" #8. The issue is still an enjoyable installment in a strong relaunch, but the story is not as sharply drawn and written -- or as touching -- as in previous issues.

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8.0
Arclight #1

Jun 3, 2015

Graham is a creator with a distinctive narrative style. His work is always original and worth checking out, but one has to either be in the right mood for its lavish, slow pacing or develop an acquired taste for his unconventional alternative storytelling priorities. "8house: Arclight" #1 is another example of jewel-box-like world building.

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3.0
Astonishing X-Men #53

Aug 27, 2012

"Astonishing X-Men" has covered a lot of ground this year, yet in this latest installment, the team and even the newlyweds lack chemistry, and thus the story lacks spark.

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8.0
Atomic Robo and The Ring of Fire #1

Sep 14, 2015

"Atomic Robo and The Ring of Fire" #1 is up to Clevinger and Wegener's usual high standard, and it's great to see the title return to monthly distribution for this adventure.

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7.0
Atomic Robo Presents: Real Science Adventures #9

Aug 12, 2013

"Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures" #9 is a little short on story development, but it's still a worthwhile read for its historical texture, bright tone and consistently solid art.

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8.0
Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils Of The Pacific #3

Sep 24, 2012

If you haven't been picking "Atomic Robo" up, it's definitely worth jumping on this Flying She-Devils story arc or any of the previous six collected miniseries. Each series is standalone and dense with world-building and story, yet they all feel approachable to a newcomer. Fans of "Hellboy" or "Planetary" in particular should try it if they're not already reading it.

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8.0
Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils Of The Pacific #5

Dec 10, 2012

"Atomic Robo" is a title that consistently delivers, and in "Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific" #5, fans will be pleased by Clevinger and Wegener's handling of this chapter of Robo's life that showcases his stalwart yet unassuming personality.

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7.0
Atomic Robo: The Knights of the Golden Circle #1

May 5, 2014

Clevinger and Wegener's exposition in "Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle" #1 is friendly to new readers and uses upbeat action to relay information. The only thing that's missing is a little more depth of characterization to give readers a stake in more than just Robo's fate, but Doc Holliday shows that Clevinger has a handle on this kind of development if future issues have more focus on the cast. It's a strong start and will satisfy both new and longtime readers.

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3.0
Avengers: Millennium #1

Apr 6, 2015

"Avengers: Millennium" #1 fails to create a good reason for readers to pick it up, despite how it features the same roster of characters as Marvel's next big summer movie.

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8.0
Axe Cop: President Of The World #2

Sep 3, 2012

With Ethan Nicolle's approachable art and the looser story structure, it's easy to jump on the "Axe Cop" wagon at any time in spite of its rapid world-building, expanding cast and all the science fiction space travel and robots. "Axe Cop: President of the World" #2 rises above the usual funny games by its wild inventiveness and enthusiasm, and its lack of limits on where it can go, and by "where it can go," I mean Bouncyworld.

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8.0
Batgirl (2011): Endgame #1

Mar 20, 2015

"Batgirl: Endgame" #1 is small-scale done right, a one-shot that hits all of its goals because the scope is narrow and well-defined and the talented creative team delivers on technique and storytelling.

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5.0
Batman and Robin (2011) #23.1

Sep 9, 2013

Two-Face decides by coin toss to both save Gotham and accept the sponsorship the Crime Syndicate. Naturally, these two decisions are not compatible, but the action-heavy plot conflict is rapidly resolved, and Tomasi has the story arc spin back to have the final page echo the first page. While this is even-handed and conceptually fitting for Two-Face, it also results in "Batman and Robin" #23.1 feeling like a filler issue. Tomasi and March's pacing is suspenseful, but the anticipation they create in "Batman and Robin" #23.1 ultimately falls flat due to the lack of impact.

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7.0
Batman and Robin (2011) Annual #1

Feb 4, 2013

The heart of the story is there, just not in the fight scenes, so it's fortunate that these panels and moments are the ones where Tomasi's dialogue and Syaf's art are at their best and in perfect sync. The joyful tone of "Batman and Robin Annual" #1 strikes an unusual but welcome note in Gotham. It is a successful, out-of-season Father's Day story that doesn't take itself too seriously, and that alone makes it a worthwhile read.

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6.0
Batman Incorporated #0

Oct 1, 2012

Out of the Zero Month issues I've read, "Batman Incorporated" #0 is the most unfriendly towards new readers. It's still a worthwhile read for the sharp character sketches and Frazer Irving's art, but one's mileage will definitely vary depending on knowledge of Morrison's Batman run and fondness for lesser-known DCU characters.

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7.0
Batman/Superman (2013) #3

Aug 30, 2013

Lee's artwork will determine much of the overall impression that "Batman/Superman" #3 leaves in the reader's mind, but the entire creative team deserves a lot of credit for taking risks and creating an unpredictable and distinctive look at two of the DCU's most important superheroes.

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7.0
Batman: Black and White #1

Sep 9, 2013

"Batman: Black and White" #1 has stronger visuals than scripting overall, but Maris Wicks' comics writing debut and the strength of the artwork make this revived anthology worth a look.

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7.0
Batman: Black and White #3

Nov 8, 2013

"Batman Black and White" #3 is an excellent showcase of wildly different interpretations of Batman and Gotham from classic mystery to high concept theory. It was excellent idea to revive this Batman anthology concept after its first successful go-around.

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7.0
Batman: Black and White #6

Feb 10, 2014

The stories in "Batman Black and White" #6 aren't memorable for their plotting or prose, but that's not a surprise given the creative teams, and the Cloonan and Chiang's artwork alone is worth the cover price.

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7.0
Batman: Eternal #4

May 2, 2014

The transitions are very smooth for so many changes of setting, and the action of the story is rapid and satisfying across many interconnected subplots: Batgirl and Batman, Jim Gordon, Batman and Falcone, Gotham's criminal world and within the GCPD. Snyder, Tynion and Layman keep all these plot lines strong. "Batman Eternal" #4 feels like a well put-together TV show, and not just in its faster week-to-week pacing. There are many interlocking parts to the plot, and each part holds its own.

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6.0
Batman: Eternal #11

Jun 20, 2014

"Batman Eternal" #11 has a dramatic change in artwork. Bertram's work is strong and distinctive, and in terms of originality and innovation, he's ahead of his predecessors. However, he's an odd editorial choice. The shift feels abrupt and even distracting, even though Bertram's style adds atmosphere and tone. It's not that Bertram is just wrong for drawing a "Batman" story, but slotting him in like this for a weekly, when his style is not at all interchangeable, is only going to throw off readers who will feel that he is ill-suited to the material because his work viscerally alters the experience of the existing story.

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6.0
Batman: Eternal #15

Jul 18, 2014

After several strong issues, "Batman Eternal" hits a weak note in an uneven issue with too much connective tissue and exposition, but on the other side, it picks up a dangling plot thread and the tonal shift and the fusion of Arkham and the territory of The Spectre is successful.

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4.0
Batman: Eternal #27

Oct 13, 2014

"Batman Eternal" is too floppy and formless. The art could be better, but the major problem is that the plot needs some gravity to it. Subplots are all very well if the center is strong, but at this point the writers need to stick to one plot thread for longer than a few pages in order to have enough breathing room to do better work with characterization and suspense. The story feels like it's treading water week to week instead of executing bold strokes in a grand plan.

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6.0
Batman: Eternal #39

Jan 5, 2015

Ultimately, "Batman Eternal" #39 has better artwork than plot developments, but the confrontation between Batman and the Riddler hits a high true note when they are face-to-face on the mountain.

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3.0
Batman: The Dark Knight (2011) #23.3

Sep 23, 2013

Layman's humor on "Chew" is reliably wacky and creative, and he's shown before that he can poke fun at his characters while building up the reader's fondness for them. The saving grace of Clayface's story ought to be the humor, but it doesn't quite come off. The big joke hinges mostly on the capacity of the audience to smugly laugh at stupidity. Watching Clayface overreach and fail again is slender satisfaction, since he's never been a villain in the big leagues of Batman's rogues. "Batman: The Dark Knight" #23.3 disappoints by driving home how unworthy of time the main character is, rather than delivering meaning or amusement.

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6.0
Batwoman #18

Mar 22, 2013

The ending cliffhanger of "Batwoman" #18 is a nicely done, and will leave readers curious about the new player the D.E.O. is bringing in to make Batwoman's life even more complicated. "Batwoman" #18 is a soft story arc setup, but future issues will probably remedy its most noteworthy misstep in pacing.

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8.0
Bedlam #1

Oct 31, 2012

"Bedlam" #1 showcases Spencer's gifts for concept, dialogue and mystery as well as Rossmo's skills with mood and pacing, and it's a promising mix of concept and character, creepy and clever, funny and grotesque.

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8.0
Bedlam #2

Dec 3, 2012

The biggest danger "Bedlam" faces is that its characters will be overwhelmed by Spencer's greater concept, but "Bedlam" #2 succeeds in opening up the innards of several characters at once, and their collective minds are the real voice of the title, more than Madder Red alone. Events seen and unseen in "Bedlam" #2 are like a half-unfolded fan, laid over a further darkness that draws inexorably and irresistibly nearer.

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9.0
Bedlam #4

Feb 18, 2013

In the introductory arc for "Bedlam," Fillmore Press has yet to make contact with other killers in his newly-rehabilitated state, and the moment that he meets Eric, and perhaps sees his old self Madder Red in Eric's eyes, is the part of the denouement that I'm looking forward to the most.

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7.0
Bee and PuppyCat #1

May 19, 2014

Overall, "Bee and Puppycat" #1 is a debut with great imagination and style. The tone is unusually complex, surreal and tender with hints of joy and grief. While the art taken panel by panel is strong, it ignores the monthly format and the traditional need for the plot to develop more quickly, but this may be less of an issue in subsequent issues.

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5.0
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1

Jul 5, 2012

The identification of the reader with both the nascent hero and with the catalyzing tragedy is crucial for this story to have pathos. It's impossible here, because both Veidt and the person he loses are at best shallow and at worst supremely unlikable. Veidt is god-like, calculated and morally ambiguous. Ozymandias' personality in "Watchmen" was defined by his utter rationality and ability to manipulate. He is motivated by the desire for greatness and also by a terrifying, strict utilitarianism in which noble ends are justified by any means necessary. Wein keeps this harsh persona wholly intact in Veidt's childhood, implying he was hatched with this persona and just had to find an idol and motivation. It's as if a psychopathic child prodigy was slotted into the outlines of a Batman-like origin. Thus, what Wein adds to the Ozymandias mythos manages to be both superfluous and jarring at the same time.

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6.0
Big Con-Job #1

Mar 9, 2015

"The Big Con Job" #1 is an uneasy mix of contemporary social realism and crime caper. All the characters besides Poach are flat and the heist hasn't begun yet. At this point, it's hard to say whether Palmiotti, Brady and Stanton can make it all come together. The humor and pathos are strong, so hopefully the laughs can be played up while still keeping the reader invested in Poach's life. The second issue, when the heist structure emerges and players take their places, will likely make or break the story.

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6.0
Birds Of Prey (2011) #0

Sep 24, 2012

"Birds of Prey" #0 ends with a cliffhanger that makes a lot of sense, but I didn't see it coming and it has me looking forward to the inevitable conflicts and juicy backstory to follow. "Birds of Prey" has had some odd pacing recently, but this Zero Month origin tale unfolded at a normal clip and has me hoping that Swierczynski will play more to his strengths of atmosphere and characterization in future issues.

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6.0
Birds Of Prey (2011) #10

Jun 25, 2012

The action of "Birds of Prey" #10 can seem slow, but this may be related to how Swierczynski's writing emphasizes gradual character development. To that end, perhaps we'll see some villains with sustained depth at some point down the line along with further emotional insights into the team dynamics and each team member.

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4.0
Birds Of Prey (2011) #11

Jul 20, 2012

This issue might turn out to be an unfortunate blip. A new series artist is slated to come on board soon and Swierczynski could still take the story to a lot of interesting places. Still, this issue soured me some on the book. Many of the qualities that made "Birds of Prey" different from the rest of the DC lineup -- Swierczynski's slow, moody pacing and subtle character development, skillful art by Foreman or Saiz " are disappointingly absent in this issue.

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8.0
Black Canary (2015) #4

Sep 18, 2015

Fletcher's scattered captions of Maeve's thoughts build in rhythm and meaning to a perfect convergence of words and pictures in the final panel, in which Loughridge's spectacular color work brings shock value to an otherwise predictable plot point. The introductory story arc hits new high points in characterization and pacing in "Black Canary" #4.

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9.0
Black Magick #2

Nov 30, 2015

The themes of "Black Magick" are eternally compelling: secrecy, a double life, power, sex, good and evil, life and death. Rucka's fusion of a police procedural and an old occult/religious power struggle feels sharp and well-constructed, and Scott's artwork is a perfect partner to the pacing and character development. If the rest of the opening arc is just as strong, "Black Magick" will easily be one of the best new titles of 2015.

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8.0
Black Magick #4

Feb 1, 2016

The events of "Black Magick" have been civilized and sedate after the sweat and fire of the first issue. Scott's dramatic talents have been employed mostly in facial expressions and body language, but the ending of "Black Magick" #4 requires a return to action. The last panel's linework is muscular and aggressive. Scott's low perspective and the downward diagonal in the composition hits the reader with exceptional force. The cliffhanger is a delicious shock and caps off an issue with unusual narrative complexity and emotional breadth.

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7.0
Black Widow (2014) #2

Jan 24, 2014

The suspense and characterization are cookie-cutter at times, but overall, "Black Widow" #2 is a good read. It follows up smoothly on the events of the debut issue, and promises plenty of action and more development of the supporting cast in future issues.

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7.0
Black Widow (2014) #8

Jul 7, 2014

Although Edmondson's narrative approach has drawbacks, it succeeds in its goals. "Bitter Cold" is aptly named, from Noto's white-and-blue color choices to Natasha's words in the last panel that reinforce two losses, from past and present, that make her yet more alone.

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6.0
Bloodshot #6

Dec 17, 2012

Swiercynski's plotting is typically slow to build, and six issues in, little is known about Bloodshot's original purpose and his past, but if the cliffhanger ending is any indication, the next issue will hit a payload of narrative revelations as the "Harbinger Wars" crossover event approaches.

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5.0
Bloodshot & H.A.R.D. Corps #15

Oct 21, 2013

With the convergence complete and Bloodshot semi-functional, future issues of "Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps" #15 need to do more with character development to win readers over to the new lineup.

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7.0
BOOM! Box Mix Tape #2014

Jan 19, 2015

Overall, "BOOM! Box 2014 Mix Tape" has the usual balance of hits and misses but it accurately gives readers the flavor of a large part of BOOM! Box's comics.

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7.0
Bounce #2

Jul 1, 2013

"The Bounce" #2 is another solid chapter of an ambitious title. It doesn't quite come together yet, because the characterization and plot logic are shallow at this point, but it's clear that Casey has much more planned out. On the strength of its potential and its distinctive world-building so far, "The Bounce" is worth checking out.

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8.0
Brass Sun #2

Jun 30, 2014

"Brass Sun" #2 is worth picking up just for the masterful exposition and art. If the rest of Orrery is as well-built as The Keep, readers won't be able to put the series down.

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4.0
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #16

Dec 17, 2012

Overall, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9" #16 was a haphazard beginning for a new storyline. The story trajectory was muddled by too many intersecting plot points to have a strong core. Some fans may be pleased just to see Buffy and other favorite characters back in the saddle, but overall, it lacks the cohesion and sense of greater purpose of the previous mini-storyline focusing on Billy the Vampire Slayer.

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5.0
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow - Wonderland #1

Nov 9, 2012

However, the pretty art and snappy jokes in "Willow Wonderland" #1 are overshadowed by the lack of interesting action or characterization, making for a weak debut.

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7.0
C.O.W.L. #11

Jul 27, 2015

The final two scenes feel inevitable, and yet the twist is still a surprise. Superficially, it's the violence that is shocking but, really, it's how the violence is visually telegraphed as an execution. The resulting moral and emotional significance makes for a powerful ending that does justice to the creative team's vision.

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4.0
Cable and X-Force #3

Jan 14, 2013

"Cable and X-Force" #3 finally has its team of mutants united under one mission, and the plot is speeding up, but the writing and the art are both pushing more style than substance, and at $3.99 for twenty pages, the mild suspense created may not be enough to keep readers coming back.

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7.0
Captain America: Sam Wilson #1

Oct 16, 2015

However, he leans too far towards telling the reader what to think, instead of gently leading the reader to form conclusions for themselves about hot-button issues and right vs. wrong. This isn't the place for a philosophical treatise or a political column. The story has to come first, and it's weakened by a lack of moral complexity on the "bad" side. Even with those flaws, though, "Captain America: Sam Wilson" #1 has excellent artwork and it manages to be funny and provocative. I'm looking forward to the match up in the next issue.

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8.0
Casanova: Acedia #1

Jan 30, 2015

"Casanova: Acedia" is on par with its predecessors, and it's an accessible, rewarding read for both new and returning readers.

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8.0
CBLDF Liberty Annual #2012

Oct 31, 2012

Like any anthology, "CBLDF Liberty Annual" #5 has a lot of forgettable pieces, but this year's mix has an unusual number of strong contributions. "Walking Dead" fans will enjoy Kirkman and Adlard's character piece, and Gillen, Bellegarde and Bellaire's "Unleashed" is a quiet gem. "Hunters" has gotten me interested in Robinson and Bone's "The Saviors" project, and Asmus and Miyazawa's superb "Last Rights" by itself makes this anthology something worth reading.

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7.0
CBLDF Liberty Annual #2014

Oct 13, 2014

Like any anthology, some stories were stronger than others in "CBLDF Liberty Annual 2014." When a piece fell flat, it was usually because it was too preachy. However, the art was very strong on average, with a great variety of styles that worked, and there are enough hits that's it's an anthology worth picking up, especially since the proceeds go to a great cause.

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8.0
Chew #28

Sep 17, 2012

"Chew" #28 feels like a transition between larger plot points in the "Space Cakes" arc, with a balance of action and quieter conversational scenes. It's a midpoint of connective tissue rather than significant muscle, but Layman and Guillory fill it with enough ridiculousness and character interaction to whet your appetite for more "Chew" as it resumes a regular monthly timeline.

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8.0
Chew #31

Jan 28, 2013

It's good to see Tony out of the hospital back in the FDA saddle in "Chew" #31. So far, "Bad Apples" doesn't lack for new ideas or action, but its flavors aren't uniformly most complex of Layman and Guillory's oeuvre at first bite. However, with the entire Chu family exhorting Tony to pursue vengeance, chances are that readers can reasonably expect dollops of the higher-stakes, overarching plot involving arch-villain The Vampire in later menus of "Bad Apples."

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8.0
Chew #33

Apr 19, 2013

The last page of "Chew" #33 is a cliffhanger, even though it shouldn't be. It's Layman and Guillory's excellent pacing and framing that make the silent ending panel stark and punchy. What occurs on the final page is inevitable, really; it's just the how and when that's a surprise, and the fatefulness makes the moment no less gratifying or stirring. Regular "Chew" readers won't be disappointed.

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8.0
Chew #34

Jun 3, 2013

It's been a great ride so far to see how "Chew" has evolved to be larger in scope and pathos than I could have imagined, not content to rest on its considerable humor laurels. "Chew" #34 is another winning entre by Layman and Guillory, delectably maintaining the tension of the revenge plot while adding even more richness to the Chew-verse.

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9.0
Chew #37

Oct 14, 2013

"Chew" #37 is another strong issue from Layman and Guillory, which is only more impressive for it being mid-story-arc and several years in. Their storytelling has increased in complexity while always being enjoyable, balancing with light-hearted absurdity with drama.

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8.0
Chew #39

Jan 27, 2014

So much occurs in "Chew" #39 that it's hard to believe that it's only 21 pages. Like most of its predecessors, "Chew" #39 has a self-contained adventure, but also maintains the suspense of the overarching storyline. Layman is comfortable with both the long game and the short game in a way that feels just right for the monthly serial format. The pacing doesn't feel rushed, demonstrating Layman and Guillory's gifts for compressed characterization and plotting. "Chew" is one of the most consistently excellent books on the shelves, and this far in, it's only getting better.

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8.0
Chew #44

Nov 7, 2014

Now the anticipation is even higher for the final showdown. "Chew" #44 proves that Layman and Guillory can still deliver on jokes and characterization, while also serving up an unprecedented level of non-comedic carnage.

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8.0
Chew #45

Dec 5, 2014

"Chew" #45 concludes the weirdly appropriately named "Chicken Tenders" arc. All the drama and heightened emotions have shone an even stronger spotlight on the relationships between the characters. There's been a lot of tenderness within all the meaty developments, and this will only whet readers' appetites for more, even if they haven't yet recovered from the end of this last meal.

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8.0
Chew #46

Mar 2, 2015

"Chew" #46 doesn't suffer even though several major characters are temporarily out of commission, and Layman and Guillory show that they can stick the landing of their most shocking plot twist to date.

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7.0
Chew #50

Jul 3, 2015

"Chew" #50 is an exciting, fast meal, comprised of less filling fare than what Layman and Guillory usually cook up. There's not much to digest afterwards, except for the shock of the epilogue. This isn't their very finest work on "Chew," but it does justice to Tony's strength as well as the Collector's might. There are only ten more issues to go, and the events of "Chew" #50 leave the door wide open to explore wackier settings and ideas, like Toni Chu's current whereabouts and what she foresaw.

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8.0
Chew #52

Nov 30, 2015

I'm pleased Layman and Guillory are running further with the science fiction aspects of "Chew" while keeping its well-developed cast intact. "Chew" #52 has intricate plotting and it builds up suspense and lays more groundwork for the skywriting mystery. It's sad the end of "Chew" is creeping ever closer, but take comfort in how there's no dip in quality from this remarkably reliable creative team, even after the biggest boss battle is over.

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9.0
Chew #53

Dec 28, 2015

As the end of "Chew" approaches, Layman does a great job of catching a lot of the balls he's thrown into the air while still introducing new intrigue. The storytelling is confident and sure-footed, and readers who have followed the title over its long run will find all their confidence is well-placed. The storytelling as a whole is richer than ever before, while the humor maintains its happy zaniness and manic energy throughout.

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9.0
Chew #55

Feb 29, 2016

As Layman and Guillory wrap up the next-to-last story arc for "Chew," the dramedy isn't slowing down in characterization or pacing. Their unusual but strangely harmonious salad of food, law enforcement and superpowers is a delicious dish that has gotten even better with age.

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8.0
Chew/Revival #1

May 30, 2014

"Chew/Revival" delivers on both ends. Fans of both series will enjoy seeing a little bit of each universe seeps into the other one. For fans that only picked this up for one-half of the comic, both stories are well-executed enough that both series may get a few new fans.

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7.0
Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo #1

Apr 25, 2016

"Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo" #1 has a simplistic moral, meant to mimic and mock the Grinch story. However, the pat ending also reinforces the feeling that -- despite its layers of humor and structural complexity -- the total impact on the reader is slight and the satirical bite isn't deep. The humor lacks the insight of truly outstanding parodies. It manages to be very funny, but its cleverness doesn't go beyond being an extended joke. It's also skippable in the sense that it has little bearing on the greater "Chew" story arcs. Nevertheless, most readers will still consider it worth picking up for its uninhibited sense of fun and its reassuring "happy" ending for the beloved break-out character Poyo.

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8.0
Chew: Secret Agent Poyo #1

Jul 16, 2012

Near the end of the issue, in the space of three-fourths of a page, Layman and Guillory give readers the most succinct, most brilliant parody of action movie love affairs I have ever seen. If you think that "barnyard animals falling through the air" and "millisecond-long love affair charged with pathos" don't mix, think again. That page alone is worth the price of the comic. If you enjoy "Chew" regularly, chances are that "Chew: Secret Agent Poyo" will also be to your taste.

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8.0
Clean Room #1

Oct 26, 2015

Despite the uneven exposition, the hooks in "Clean Room" #1 are very strong. Simone and Davis-Hunt have created a huge amount of suspense, and much will depend on whether the eventual answers can live up to those expectations.

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7.0
Clone #2

Dec 17, 2012

The same bodies and faces repeat, but Ryp keeps the action sequences with multiple clones clear and easy to follow. Ryp's visual pacing is also strong, and works well with Schulner's dialogue. Except for wry touches of humor, Schulner's writing is un-flashy, precise and economical, with good rhythm and a refreshing lack of stylistic gloss. Every line of dialogue and every panel in "Clone" #2 directly serves the action of the story. The concluding cliffhanger plot twist is an old standard, but through good writing and art, Schulner and Ryp pull it off.

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6.0
Clone #3

Jan 14, 2013

"Clone" #3 continues on genre-tested lines, but the dialogue, pacing and artwork are well-executed, and I'm interested in how Schulner will further develop Luke, Patrick and the other clones in combination with the themes of identity and kinship.

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6.0
Coffin Hill #2

Nov 18, 2013

"Coffin Hill" #2 gets it right in the dream-like visuals and symbolism, but dialogue, characterization and action will need to become sharper for the story to maintain its grip on the reader's imagination.

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8.0
Colder #1

Nov 7, 2012

In this debut, Tobin and Ferreyra have established conflict and cast and stirred up curiosity about a supernatural mystery. I have no idea where Tobin and Ferreyra are going with "Colder," but I intend to find out.

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6.0
Colder #2

Dec 10, 2012

Overall, "Colder" #2 stumbles due to its narrative structure, but Tobin and Ferreyra's content is still fresh and unusual. With the information dump out of the way, perhaps the remainder of "Colder" will showcase more of Tobin's characterization and humor strengths while maintaining Ferreyra's artistic atmosphere and detail.

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8.0
Concrete: Three Uneasy Pieces #1

Jul 23, 2012

Concrete is a unique hero, and "Concrete: Three Uneasy Pieces" is a collection that shows the Chadwick's range (mystery, travel, domestic suburbia), but also highlights his approach to story. In a review of Ursula K. Le Guin's novels and short stories, Margaret Atwood once wrote, "Sci-fi is sometimes just an excuse for dressed-up swashbuckling and kinky sex, but it can also provide a kit for examining the paradoxes and torments of what was once fondly referred to as the human condition." All the kingdoms and planets in Le Guin's stories are just a way to talk about our own world. Like Le Guin, Chadwick's concerns are anthropological rather than scientific, with a particular focus on individual human actors and their messy motivations. It's a continuous pleasure to see this kind of storytelling in comics.

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1.0
Constantine #5

Jul 29, 2013

In "Constantine" #5, Billy Batson is more sympathetic than Constantine, since he is on the receiving end of that tired excuse, "This is for your own good, kid." Also, Batson actually hasn't done anything wrong with his powers yet. Constantine's pre-emptive strike is based on opportunity and high-handedness. Near the end of "Constantine" #5, Shazam states, in an endearingly straightforward, kid-like way, "You're a real jerk, Constantine. I hope I never see you again." Unfortunately, readers may agree too much with Shazam. "Constantine" presents itself as a magic and character-driven title, but it has yet to deliver characters of any complexity or any new take on what magic means or how it functions in the DCU.

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5.0
Convergence: Aquaman #1

Apr 17, 2015

Bedard and Richards do succeed in giving Aquaman a stage of his own beyond "Convergence's" battle to the death. Nevertheless, the "Convergence" framework is heavily limiting and contrived and they don't overcome it. The story in "Convergence: Aquaman" #1 is struggling against the event limitations, and it shows.

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3.0
Convergence: Batgirl #1

Apr 10, 2015

"Batgirl: Convergence" #1 is a conventional story about self-confidence and self-discovery told with an unconventional approach. Kwitney doesn't make it easy for the reader to follow her. She doesn't use any time-stamp indicators, nor does she leave cues or set up a frame that would foreshadow the structure. The offbeat humor clashes with earnest characterization. The forward momentum is poor and the story keeps going off the different directions in order to give the reader a sense of Stephanie's character and where's she's been. It does partially succeed in these goals, but the blurriness of tone and choppiness of action are barriers to entry.

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7.0
Convergence: New Teen Titans #1

Apr 24, 2015

As a stand-alone story, it's not perfect. Like many "Convergence" titles, the nostalgia and retro appeal will be lost on newer fans and the story feels cramped. However, "Convergence: New Teen Titans" #1 does manage to bring back much of what made the original series so beloved, and Wolfman is able to keep the reader from getting bored with the event. As a trip down memory lane, it's a success.

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2.0
Convergence: Plastic Man and The Freedom Fighters #1

May 4, 2015

The team's battle rival isn't announced until the last page. The choice of opponent is out of left field, but that isn't enough of a hook. "Convergence: Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters" #1 fails in execution because its passive narrative and lack of characterization undermine investment in the plot and premise.

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8.0
Convergence: The Question #1

May 11, 2015

For fans of Renee Montoya as the Question, fans of Two-Face or readers who are simply interested in a good "Convergence" story, this is a must-read.

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8.0
Convergence: The Question #2

May 11, 2015

For fans of Renee Montoya as the Question, fans of Two-Face or readers who are simply interested in a good "Convergence" story, this is a must-read.

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8.0
Copperhead #4

Dec 15, 2014

"Copperhead" #4 continues to be a great comic. It successfully combines the genres of space opera, western and mystery, and it pays unusual attention to the inner lives of its characters. Faerber and Godlewski weave into the action observations on tensions between social groups, the desperation that injustice can create and dignity and humanity of all kinds of people.

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8.0
Courtney Crumrin #10

Mar 4, 2013

The ending of "Courtney Crumrin" has a lovely, unlooked-for happiness suffusing it. There's a twist about the narrator that is both surprising and poignant, and it feels like a gift for both Courtney and the reader. Naifeh also flashes briefly into the lives of supporting characters like Alicia and Gareth. Everyone gets their due. Normally, I'd say this magical, mystical wrap-up was too tidy, but the way that Naifeh reveals these twists, it feels perfect. The last five pages are a dazzling compression of time and emotion. It's worth reading or re-reading the whole "Courtney Crumrin" series, just to get the full impact of those moments.

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6.0
Curb Stomp #1

Mar 2, 2015

"Curb Stomp" #1 relies too much on the all-female-gang factor to make its premise interesting, but the debut issue is still a fun read, particularly for its punk rock energy.

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7.0
Daredevil (2011) #22

Jan 21, 2013

Despite the light tone, "Daredevil" #22 has an ominous undercurrent. Superior Spider-Man struggles to fill a costume that doesn't quite fit him. He dangles dangerously closer to the ever-present precipice of being discovered. This underlying grimness and fear jumps into full view near at end of the issue, with a different character. Foggy reveals something that Daredevil, with all his heightened senses and observant mind, has failed to detect. Thus, closing panel is beautifully poignant, drawing both contrasts and similarities between two troubled friendships, Matt and Foggy vs. Daredevil and Spider-Man.

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7.0
Daredevil (2015) #7

May 30, 2016

The path that Soule takes with Elektra is too easy. She's a scene-stealer, but her character doesn't go through any new motions; she's still a tormented, potentially salvageable femme fatale. "Daredevil" #7 just puts her through more trauma, getting almost all of its juice from kicking a damaged soul once again with the overused tropes of brainwashing and trigger phrases. It says a lot of Buffagni's skills that he's able to make the last scene emotionally effective despite Soule's plot trickery with the phone and the mind control. Beyond her personal tragedies, her beauty, her skills and the love/hate chemistry with Daredevil, there's not a whole lot else to Elektra. Soule and Buffagni are able to breathe life into the outlines of an old relationship between Elektra and Daredevil, but they haven't expanded upon it yet.

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7.0
Day Men #1

Jul 22, 2013

"Day Men" #1 is a solid beginning in how it sets up the conflict and sketches out the cast and texture of its world, but to further make its mark in the crime genre or vampire fiction, the Gagnon and Nelson's characterization will need to eventually catch up with the strong pacing, lingo and Stelfreeze's visuals.

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6.0
Deadly Class #2

Feb 28, 2014

The story flows well, and in its transitions and skeletal structure, it works well enough to keep the reader going. However, "Deadly Class" still has the potential for and needs more than just smooth mechanics. Here's hoping that future issues bring back an emphasis on Marcus' origin story or else do more to shake itself free from stereotypes.

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5.0
Deadpool & Cable: Split Second #1

Jan 4, 2016

Despite the nod to '90s and a retro vibe, "Deadpool & Cable: Split Second" doesn't read very differently from any other Deadpool miniseries of late, though Nicieza was the writer on the original run of "X-Force" after Rob Liefeld left and has a long history with these characters. Typical for a Deadpool vehicle, the story here is much weaker than Deadpool and Cable's first encounters in the pages of "X-Force," where -- amid all the big guns and gritted teeth -- Nicieza gave both characters a real arc. The jokes here don't mine this material closely enough to trigger deeper nostalgia, and they don't justify the longer page count by themselves.

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6.0
Deadpool Kills Deadpool #1

Jul 5, 2013

Speaking of themes and devices, the ending cliffhanger features a surprise appearance by a familiar Marvel Universe multiverse character who has a fun whack-a-doodle statement for the final panel. Bunn hints that Deadpool is as much about beginnings as endings. In this and in Espin's art, "Deadpool Kills Deadpool" #1 is an entertaining start to the last of "Killology."

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4.0
Deadpool vs. Thanos #1

Sep 7, 2015

It's still easy to see why the Merc with a Mouth became such a hit, but he's overexposed and he's become a thinner version of himself over the years. "Deadpool vs. Thanos" #1 gives the character a new creative team and new concept, but they don't give the character new life, and he needs it.

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4.0
Deadpool vs. X-Force #1

Jul 4, 2014

"Deadpool Vs. X-Force" #1 feels like the beginning of a forgettable miniseries that will add nothing to the characterization or history of X-Force or Deadpool. Fans of late "New Mutants" and '90s-era "X-force" fans can and probably should skip this tangential filler, and that's a problem, because this miniseries is banking on precisely those fans and that nostalgia. Deadpool fans and new readers should graze elsewhere as well.

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6.0
Deadpool's Art of War #1

Oct 17, 2014

The best parts of "Deadpool's Art of War" are the off-the-wall elements and Wade's bizarre leaps of thought. Koblish's art is also solid, so hopefully in future issues, David can make Loki and Thor's eternal sibling rivalry serve the larger story and themes instead of putting on another tired reenactment of their enmity.

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6.0
Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars #1

May 25, 2015

The readers who will get the most out of "Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars" #1 are Deadpool fans who are familiar with the 1984 event. Knowledge of the details will give the reader greater appreciation for the jokes. For readers outside of that subset, this is just a fun, light read.

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7.0
Deathmatch #2

Feb 4, 2013

"Deathmatch" #2 maintains the narrative tension and rapid world-building of the debut issue, and the final matchup inches closer. However, it doesn't actually advance the central mystery of who, how and why very far. This isn't a serious problem for a second issue, but it draws out conflict and raises expectations for the ending. "The Hunger Games" started strong, but its pacing and the tightness of its plotting weakened as the trilogy progressed. Much of the payoff for "Deathmatch" will depend on whether Jenkins and Magno can deliver on motive as well as suspense.

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5.0
Debris #1

Jul 26, 2012

With characterization and plotting already plodding, it's likely that thematic development in "Debris" will get only the most cursory of treatment. By itself, "Debris" #1 leans on the baggage of its influences as a crutch, rather than unpacking it. Three-quarters of the miniseries remains, though, so perhaps the weaknesses of the story will be remedied later.

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8.0
Descender #3

May 11, 2015

It's a turning point when Quon's face shifts suddenly from fearful to shrewd. It's gratifying to see Quon use his wits to resist Telsa's patronizing scare tactics. In previous scenes, he is still a wreck of a man, and Nguyen conveys this not only through Quon's messy appearance but also by his subordinate posture and defeated body language. Now, in "Descender" #3, Quon shows some of the intellectual muscle of his younger self, before his function as a scientist and his self-confidence were damaged. Although the power differential between him and UGC is by no means leveled, the reader is reminded that this is the man who created Tim. He's no longer just an instrument of the UGC, and so he becomes another player on the board, and there's plenty of suspense about what he might do as the primary human character in future issues.

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5.0
Detective Comics (2011) #25

Nov 11, 2013

Mandatory tie-in issues to line-wide events can feel forced, and this is the case for "Detective Comics" #25. The "Zero Year" tie-in story is heavy-handed and too pat in its fable-like morality and mechanics, especially side by side with a stronger backup story set in the present day.

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8.0
Dream Thief #2

Jun 24, 2013

The teaser for "Dream Thief" #3 shows Lincoln heading to Mississippi for a new adventure of vengeance. Given that the mini-series is only five issues, I'm hoping that the action and new setting slows down enough to give the reader more clues about the mythology of the world and Lincoln's internal state. Overall, though, "Dream Thief" is still a strong, distinctive read and Nitz and Smallwood make the second issue welcoming to new readers.

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1.0
Drew Hayes' Poison Elves #1

Mar 25, 2013

Both as a comic in its own right and as an exercise in bringing back the dead, "Drew Hayes' Poison Elves" #1 fails, which is a shame, because the market could always use more diversity in publishers and genres. Curious readers would do better to pick up trades of the original "Poison Elves" instead.

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5.0
Drive #1

Aug 31, 2015

Judged by itself, "Drive" #1 is a workmanlike translation of the story of Sallis' novel. Unfortunately, compared to the film, it falls short in artistry, style and imagination. This is going to create a divide in the reception of this comic. Readers who saw the film will probably be disappointed, while those who only read the book or are new to the story won't nitpick so much.

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5.0
E Is For Extinction #1

Jun 29, 2015

"E is for X-Tinction" revisits Morrison's world and creates a disturbing post-apocalyptic mood, but Burnham and Villalobos don't make a strong enough case for the importance of this "What If?" trip down a gritty memory lane yet.

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2.0
Earth 2 #0

Sep 10, 2012

"Earth 2" #0 also falls into the zero-issue pitfall of being disconnected from events and characters in the current storyline. No doubt these characters will eventually converge and the current team will be seeing more of Mr. 8, since Terry Sloan sees something coming that is "an evil far, far greater than the gaudy hordes of Steppenwolf." There is also a cryptic reference to an eighth original teammate who Sloan refuses to name. Readers must hope that these potentially juicy tidbits develop into stories are not executed in the disappointing manner of "Earth 2" #0.

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7.0
East of West #5

Aug 19, 2013

The attempt to dip into a more personal story within the epic framework of "East of West" #5 is only partially successful. Still, the tone, atmosphere and visuals of "East of West" are unlike any other book on the shelves, and it accomplishes more than enough of its ambitions to make it engrossing and worthwhile.

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7.0
Fairest #8

Oct 8, 2012

Beukes and Miranda scatter in a few visual flashbacks to Rapunzel's old life in the Hidden Kingdom, including a body floating in a lake and a tableau of blood on shattered porcelain. These also promise juicy backstory. The strongest parts of "Fairest" #8 by far are the sequences within Tokyo or those involving Japanese iconography, and while it took a whole issue to get us there, it's good news that the titular Hidden Kingdom and Rapunzel's past are in a place inside Japan.

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7.0
Fairest #9

Nov 12, 2012

There is much that is impressive and well-done in "Fairest" #9, in particular Miranda and de la Cruz's imagery and Beukes' allusive world-building, but the narrative flaws in plotting, pacing and characterization keep it from being a comic I would recommend without reservation.

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7.0
Fairest #21

Dec 9, 2013

"Fairest" #21 is an enjoyable and visually attractive read, but the story has yet to prove itself. "Of Men and Mice" is still in set-up mode, so it's hard to judge how the mystery and the rest of Andreyko's script will play out, but it's a promising start.

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8.0
Fatale #14

May 20, 2013

Brubaker and Phillips' slow burn and mix of horror, history and Lovecraft isn't going to appeal to every reader, but "Fatale" #14 fills in a chapter of the Josephine's past, and maintains the grim, yet lovely, melancholy and the suffusing atmosphere of fate that make this creative team's work so memorable.

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8.0
Fatale #20

Feb 18, 2014

In the second half of the story, Jo is responsible for more death and destruction. Brubaker and Phillips put the reader in Nick Lash's mind, and on the final page, his retrieval of a memory ties together past and present, ending "Curse the Demon" on an ominous note. "Fatale" #20 reinforces the paradoxical siren/damsel-in-distress dichotomy of the femme fatale for an issue that is particularly strong on characterization and tone.

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7.0
FF #23

Oct 29, 2012

"FF" has been an uneven title, but this last issue plays to its strengths: imagination, light-hearted humor and relationships between family and friends.

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6.0
Five Ghosts #1

Mar 25, 2013

Despite this criticism, Barbiere and Mooneyham's "Five Ghosts" #1 is a successful debut issue that comfortably draws readers in. Mooneyham's art is skillfully moody, with spacious backgrounds that are easy on the eye. With so much going on, the clarity and dramatic tension of Barbiere and Mooneyham's work is impressive. I just wish the substance was as meaty as the style. Overall, the mythology of Gray's power/affliction is interesting enough that I'm curious to see where "Five Ghosts" goes next.

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5.0
Flash (2011) #10

Jul 2, 2012

The only reason that this scene has any emotional resonance among all the clichs can be credited to the excellent facial expressions courtesy of the art team. The panel of The Flash's face as he listens to Patty's pain eloquently conveys dismay, shame and acceptance. It's too bad, then, that the writing is less subtle than the art.

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7.0
Fresh Romance #1

Jun 1, 2015

I applaud Asselin for reintroducing romance comics in the U.S. market, especially given the obvious popularity of Shjo and Josei manga here. "Fresh Romance" is a great addition to the shelves and a solid debut overall, especially if the stories deepen and strengthen in future issues.

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6.0
Ghosts #1

Nov 5, 2012

Overall, none of the nine stories in "Ghosts" #1 are enjoyably frightening or particularly memorable. The $7.99 cover price is a lot to pay, especially since "Ghosts" #1 isn't perfect-bound. Fans of particular creators or completists will enjoy some of these tidbits, but it's a mediocre anthology.

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8.0
Giant Days #1

Mar 23, 2015

"Giant Days" is off to a fantastic start. If the rest of the miniseries is as addictively fun as this debut issue, it'll be a must-read.

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8.0
Giant Days #14

May 9, 2016

"Giant Days" #14 is a great welcome-back for Esther after her flirtation with dropping out in the previous issue. The story is nearly self-contained, too, and thus friendly to new readers. It's a good jumping-on point for those who may hear of the title from its recently announced Eisner nomination.

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2.0
God is Dead #1

Sep 6, 2013

Unfortunately, the selection of gods and Hickman and Costa's delegation of leadership feels arbitrary. "God is Dead" falls flat in living up to the ambition of its themes, or else it's not trying to achieve any commentary on power and religion. There may be stronger mechanics and a more thoughtful treatment of ideas in future issues, but as a debut, "God is Dead" #1 feels crude.

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6.0
Goldie Vance #1

Apr 18, 2016

"Goldie Vance" #1 has weak pacing and plot twists, but the exposition avoids information dumps and the characters are engaging enough that I'm still on board for the next adventure, especially if the disappearance of Mr. Ludwig ends up having more surprises and depth than the mystery of the missing necklace.

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8.0
Gotham Academy #6

Mar 30, 2015

The resolution of the Millie Jane Cobblepot diary subplot feels rushed, and the truth about Olive's mother is still held back for later in the series. This is a tease, so expectations for the future payoff are now duly raised. The revelation about Arkham was well-timed and fascinating, however, and the teaser scene drawn by Chen at the end is light, bright and full of mischievous promise. In "Gotham Academy" #6, intrigue, mysteries and bonds between friends and enemies all continue to grow in a wonderful new corner of Gotham.

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7.0
Gotham Academy #9

Aug 17, 2015

While there's lots of action and the characters are always a joy, the larger story has its weak spots, and the light and dark in the plot don't mix well in "Gotham Academy" #9.

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7.0
Grayson #16

Feb 1, 2016

The last page reveals a surprising alliance that changes the odds again but also adds even more players in the game. However it goes, the rest of this story arc will still be great fun, especially if Tony remains by Dick's side.

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7.0
Grendel vs. The Shadow #1

Sep 9, 2014

Overall, "Grendel vs. The Shadow" #1 is a fine beginning to another "Grendel" miniseries. It's an issue of exposition, but Wagner makes it move quickly and he's able to dispense with information dumps. However, the most interesting part is yet to come. Wagner has said that he uses the character of Grendel to tell stories around the theme of aggression. The Shadow's reaction and methods in reaction to Grendel's opening moves may illuminate more about both characters and their approaches to the art of war.

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8.0
Groot #1

Jun 2, 2015

Despite these criticisms of the conclusion, "Groot" #1 is an overall fantastic debut issue that's worth reading just for the humor. It'll be interesting to see how Loveness and Kesinger handle the next issue and to compare their approach to Skottie Young and Jake Parker's work on "Rocket Raccoon."

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6.0
Hacktivist Vol. 2 #1

Aug 3, 2015

The cinematic crescendo that leads to the game-changing last page has dramatic impact, even though all its components are derivative. "Hacktivist Volume 2" #1 does a good job presenting a philosophical discourse through fiction, but its characters don't feel fully fleshed out outside their beliefs, so the pathos is limited.

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8.0
Happy #1

Sep 28, 2012

If "Happy!" #1 is an example of what readers will be getting more of as Grant Morrison makes an exit from DC, that's good news for this year and onwards.

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8.0
Harbinger #4

Sep 17, 2012

"Harbinger" is turning into a must-read because of Dysart's exceptional characterization, and the team dynamics coming down the line should be spectacular. If "Harbinger" #4 is any indication, the Valiant Entertainment relaunch is one of the best things to happen to superhero comics for a while.

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8.0
Harbinger #5

Oct 22, 2012

The dialogue is vivid and fun, and Peter in particular is as cheekily witty as ever, with lines like, "you totally boned the structural integrity of that ceiling." Faith's dialogue is adorably fun and happy, and her exuberant arrival near the end of the issue, followed by a silent, ominous last-page sequence featuring the Bleeding Monk, make for a great one-two punch of dramatic contrast for the end of "Harbinger" #5 and also neatly bookends a strong if fight-heavy issue.

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8.0
Harbinger #6

Nov 26, 2012

Dysart ends "Harbinger" #6 with Kris, Faith and Peter having a shared renewed purpose, and for the first time, there's a team. Although "Harbinger" is still a plot and character-driven comic, Dysart's focus on the divides between have and have-nots, between corporations and people and between adults and kids, add to the sociological and psychological depth of his story.

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6.0
Harbinger #8

Jan 25, 2013

The payoff for a character like Torque will be in his future interactions with the rest of the Renegades and what he will do with his powers, and I'm still onboard and eager for more of Dysart's characterization and dialogue in future issues of "Harbinger."

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7.0
Harbinger #11

Apr 15, 2013

In "Harbinger" #11, the title gets back on track with its strengths. I hope that "The Harbinger Wars" crossover will allow readers to see the characters interact with the larger Valiant Universe, without sidelining the gravity-like idealism and character interactions that tie the Renegades together as a team.

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8.0
Harbinger #12

May 13, 2013

I wasn't eager for another scene from the Harada's past to wrap up "Harbinger" #12, but Dysart ends "Harbinger" #12 with a virtual declaration of war by Harada. Impressively, Dysart pulls off the feat of creating suspense when the reader already knows something of the outcome. The appeal of the cliffhanger panel is like that of Greek tragedy, in which a character's fate is fixed and the audience is mesmerized by the slow-motion fall that leads to moral or physical ruin. I look forward seeing this fall in further issues of Dysart's "Harbinger," as well more of the war zone friendships and rivalries between two groups of damaged, powerful young people.

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5.0
Harbinger #15

Aug 19, 2013

Thus, while "Harbinger" #15 doesn't lack for punch, it sacrifices too much character development and subtlety to achieve its effects.

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6.0
Harbinger Wars #3

Jun 17, 2013

However, despite these strengths, the takeaway from "Harbinger Wars" #3 is an overall impression of a lot of chess pieces being moved onto the big board of Vegas. Despite the skill of the creative team, it still feels messy and more cluttered than epic. The cast fights for air because there are too many major players. On the final page, the cliffhanger shows one last powerhouse character on the cusp of being removed from the bench. Until he is in play, total convergence has not occurred. The remaining suspense of "Harbinger Wars" hinges on this final convergence, and on who will survive. So far, "Harbinger Wars" has been a solid crossover, but it isn't ground-breaking.

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7.0
Harvest #1

Aug 6, 2012

The issue ends on a truly creepy, confusing cliffhanger that appears to be a guilt-induced hallucination in Dane's mind. "Harvest" #1 isn't an evenly strong production, but it has a lot going for it. Given the choice, I'd rather be challenged rather than spoon-fed. Readers who enjoy a good horror story will find enough to whet their taste for blood and suspense.

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8.0
Harvest #3

Oct 8, 2012

"Harvest" #3 is an unusual mix of horror, medical, crime and revenge, and it's worth a look for the art and characterization alone. The end of this installment brings the action back to the opening sequence of the first issue, making for a softer cliffhanger than those previous, but the our good doctor has only begun his bloody mission, and I look forward to finding out how far he will go.

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5.0
Haunted Mansion #1

Mar 9, 2016

The second half of "The Haunted Mansion" #1 falls flat with too much wordy exposition and rushed pacing. Unfortunately, the tie-in elements are the weakest part of the storytelling. The story is all-ages appropriate, but doesn't add anything substantial or new to the media property yet.

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8.0
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #7

Feb 4, 2013

In Clint's story, Fraction just lets these events and thoughts swirl around, but in Kate's story, Fraction edges a little close to the pitfall of being heavy-handed with the message. He dips into sentimentality before the upbeat and snappy last page. Still, the comic is much more than advertisement or campaign for disaster relief. Not a single arrow is shot in "Hawkeye" #7, but Kate and Clint remain their essential, recognizable selves in "ordinary" adversity, two anchors of a well-structured but delicately gem-like story about people needing each other.

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9.0
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #14

Nov 29, 2013

It's a dramatic, well-executed ending for "L.A. Woman," which meets the book's standard of splashy yet casual excellence.

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9.0
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #17

Mar 17, 2014

"Hawkeye" #17 is successful in its formal experimentation, and the results serve characterization and suspense. "Winter Friends" is light and absurd and doesn't take itself too seriously, but nevertheless another dog story and Eliopoulos' art further expand the series' emotional and formal range. It's great that Fraction is able to make style into substance this way in offshoot stories, adding to the richness of the world he has built.

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10
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #19

Aug 1, 2014

"Hawkeye" #19 is likely already a contender for the 2015 Eisners, and for good reason. Fraction and Aja have done it again.

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8.0
Hellboy in Hell #3

Feb 11, 2013

The art and the tone of "Hellboy in Hell" #3 are grim and beautiful, somber and graceful, with a creepiness from a deep and endless space instead of screams or violence, but Mignola also keeps the humor and offbeat charm of Hellboy himself intact, making for unusual but haunting combination.

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8.0
Help Us! Great Warrior #1

Feb 16, 2015

"Help Us! Great Warrior" #1 a great start to an all-ages comic. Its irony and adult-pleasing subversive humor are reminiscent of "Shrek" and other reworked fairy tales, while Great Warrior is cute and heroic enough in her own way to get any reader invested.

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7.0
Hinterkind #1

Oct 7, 2013

"Hinterkind" #1 is a strong expository issue, establishing the main characters, central themes and conflicts. It skimps on characterization in favor of action and world-building, but there is still enough to hook readers into picking up the next issue.

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6.0
Indestructible Hulk #1

Nov 20, 2012

Waid has set a high bar for his work with his own oeuvre, especially with the pathos and humor of his work on "Daredevil." His challenge with "Indestructible Hulk" will be to keep his characteristic humor, but to also raise the stakes for a hero who is used to being the smartest or strongest man in the room -- and knows it. Banner is a difficult personality; after all, he's always angry despite his immense educational privilege and his gifts. The teaser for the next issue promises a fun match-up that may be promising ground for characterization as well as trading punches.

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5.0
Indestructible Hulk Annual #1

Dec 6, 2013

The story format and length of annual issues can result in strong, self-contained stories or new directions, but too often they offer more length with less substance. "Indestructible Hulk Annual" #1 is a bland story of the latter type, complete with a disposable villain-of-the-week. It is innocuous, derivative and pleasant enough, but without anything that will stick in the reader's memory or have much impact.

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4.0
Inhumans: Attilan Rising #3

Jul 20, 2015

Even the Medusa's parting shot in the last page cliffhanger leaves behind a bland, generic impression. All the lackluster action has little meaning behind it, except to establish Black Bolt's bonafides as a good leader. "Inhumans: Attilan Rising" #3 is the weakest issue of the series so far, and it's a surprising step backward in Soule's efforts to raise the Inhumans' profile in the Marvel Universe.

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7.0
Injection #2

Jun 15, 2015

Do I know what's going on yet? No, but I know enough to want to see more. "Injection" is more ambitious than the self-contained mysteries of "Moon Knight." It's delivering on art and characters but needs a lot more plot definition by the end of the first arc. Warren, Shalvey and Bellaire still work together as a dream team, though, so chances are it will get there.

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8.0
Injection #4

Aug 17, 2015

"Injection" #4 isn't easy reading and some of the scenes drag a little with exposition, but the frustrations of the storytelling are often tied to its strengths, and Ellis and Shalvey's work is ambitious and skillful enough to reward engagement and commitment.

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8.0
Injection #6

Jan 18, 2016

Half the time I make my way through an issue of "Injection," I end up thinking "What?" or even "Huh?", but it's undeniably a blast to read, like catnip to readers who like wordplay and dark humor.

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7.0
Injection #8

Mar 21, 2016

In "Injection" #8, Ellis indulges himself in his desire to be provocative. Whether he overdoes it may be a matter of taste. Still, his outrageous wit often adds something to his story structures, which are familiar and have a traditional moral compass. In "Injection," it's clear that the smart people that created the problem are going to have to regroup to fight it. Despite an interest in the occult and a love of mythology, Ellis' outlook -- as expressed in "Injection" and other works like "Transmetropolitan" and "Moon Knight" -- is usually grounded in the material world. The world in its gritty excesses and depravity is always a pain, but there are always enough sharp-witted anti-heroes to save it. The line between good and evil is clear. At his best, Ellis is hilarious and sharp but also tells truths about corruption, sacrifice and guilt. "Injection" #8 may be uneven, but the larger story is coming together.

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2.0
Iron Man (2012) #14

Aug 12, 2013

However, Gillen's dialogue and plotting have worked better if Land's work in "Iron Man" #14 wasn't such a terrible counterpart to his storytelling, like a constantly out-of-step dance partner. Land's stiff faces look like masks, and his figures have no feeling of natural movement in the action scenes. Sure, Recorder 451 is an alien, but he is highly anthropomorphic -- barely distinguishable from human in body and facial configuration. His emotions and reactions should feel less plastic. It's even worse with Tony's face, where his grins and smirks feel distracting, inappropriate and off-putting, like a bad actor or poor voice dubbing. The words and images don't fit together, because Land's facial expressions don't do the job of being emotionally in sync with the events.

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7.0
Island #1

Jul 20, 2015

At $7.99, the price unfortunately isn't friendly to impulse purchasing, but readers who are existing fans of DeConnick, Graham, Ros or Ludroe will not be disappointed. I'm a fan of the big page count that allows for longer chunks of interrupted story. Each piece in "Island" #1 has a satisfying length and impact.

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7.0
Jackpot #1

Apr 18, 2016

The cliffhanger has a satisfying punch because Fawkes effectively widens the frame and shifts the genre of the story he's telling in one page. It's a move that's been done before, and the idea of an involuntary audition is also nothing new, but Fawkes and Failla do it well. "Jackpot" #1 was a Sting, and now it's a Conspiracy, complete with sinister surveillance and a war room. Fawkes is aware of all the genre tropes, and he straddles the line between earnest and ironic carefully. His trick on the reader was well-played, but it can only be played once. Further frame and genre shifts wouldn't have the same impact and would feel even more contrived. He needs to have other surprises of a different nature up his sleeve for future issues, or the plot will lose steam. For now, though, "Jackpot" #1 has created a strong hook.

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6.0
James Bond #4

Feb 15, 2016

Ellis' take on Bond still works well, but the villain's introduction falls flat.

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7.0
Jem and the Holograms #4

Jun 29, 2015

Characterization and the various plot elements are uneven in strength so far but, overall, "Jem and the Holograms" continues to be a great read and an excellent revival of the franchise.

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8.0
Jem and the Holograms #13

Apr 4, 2016

The humorous rescue is light-hearted and faintly ridiculous slapstick. It works fine as connective tissue, but it isn't as strong as the rest of the comic. The biggest weakness in the "Dark Jem" story arc, though, is the origin of the conflict. The unnamed force that has corrupted Synergy isn't a satisfying villain yet, because its limitations and motivations are unclear. What is it? What exactly does it do to people, and why does it want to spread itself like a disease? What does it symbolize, if anything? The answers aren't all there yet, but "Dark Jem" is already a successful arc for its leaps in characterization and visual energy.

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6.0
Jem and the Holograms #15

May 30, 2016

"Jem and The Holograms" #15 drags in places due to weak characterization and too much overt exposition, but elsewhere the story still has its usual high points of humor, camaraderie and bright visual energy.

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7.0
Justice League #16

Jan 28, 2013

Geoff Johns, Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid and have all done much to revive classic superhero-ing in comics, bringing the joy back. Their collective enthusiasm and success is proof that bright costumes, a moral code and innocence still work as well as ever in the era after "Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight Returns." Johns in particular has a knack for humanizing very powerful DCU characters while also pitting them against each other. His seemingly effortless humor, combined with the art of Reis and Frank, make "Justice League" #16 a great vehicle for big-time, fun superheroics.

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8.0
Justice League #17

Feb 22, 2013

Overall, "Justice League" #17 is a strong finale, with suspense from its emotional punches and serious consequences for Aquaman's immediate future and the roster of the Justice League.

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6.0
Justice League #20

May 27, 2013

Overall, "Justice League" #20 keeps things moving along. The strong "Shazam!" backup amply justifies its page count, and "Secrets" lays down more than one plotline for the Trinity War and begins to flesh out the new Justice League B-team.

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5.0
Justice League #23.4

Sep 30, 2013

Kudranski creates well-composed single images, but he is over-fond of close-up, cropped images. Individual panels are striking and mysterious, but his panel and page transitions are weak. While his approach assists in producing disorientation suitable for a dystopian landscape, he risks losing the narrative thread too much. Thus, the flow of action is sacrificed in favor of mood and atmosphere. "Justice League" #23.4 is a good twisted mirror to New Earth but a flawed story.

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3.0
Justice League: Gods and Monsters - Wonder Woman #1

Aug 10, 2015

"Justice League: Gods and Monsters " Wonder Woman" #1 squanders the promise of its concept with sloppy plot devices and superficial characterization. I expected more from DeMatteis and Timm.

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6.0
Kaptara #2

May 25, 2015

Still, the humor predominates and it's not strong enough to hold up the plot on its own. Zdarsky will need to develop the characters more or ante up the sophistication of the humor to give the story more staying power in its initial arc. As it is, "Kaptara" contains too much mockery of the world it's introducing and too little heart.

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8.0
Karnak #1

Oct 23, 2015

The only potential issue is that, as the story develops, the limited emotional range of the hero may forestall serious character development and emotional depth. Ellis' run "Moon Knight" was always surprising and visually fascinating, but the main character remained closed off to the reader. In Karnak's case, Coulson's involvement may mitigate that. Whether or not that's the case, "Karnak" #1 still is must-read for its art and sharp wit.

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7.0
Karnak #3

Apr 25, 2016

Boschi's exaggerated facial proportions and Cowles' startling use of black-on-white empty word balloons build suspense in the final scene. The twist itself is predictable, given Karnak's abilities, but Boschi and Ellis' pacing is strong enough to make Karnak's words in the last panel stick the landing. Ellis' concepts are ambitious and "Karnak" #3 doesn't always live up to its own conceits, but there's an undeniable fascination to Ellis' take on this character. I'm on board for more, especially if the release schedule gets back on track.

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7.0
Karnak #4

May 23, 2016

"Karnak" #4 is an uneven and slower issue, but it still contains its fair share of dramatic surprises, and the series remains one of the stranger titles on the shelves -- in a good way.

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7.0
Kick-Ass 3 #1

Jun 10, 2013

This isn't to entirely discount Millar and Romita's gifts. "Kick-Ass 3" #1 is engaging and remarkably friendly to new readers without resorting to information dumps. Romita's artwork is strong in both action scenes and quieter scenes, and Millar's plotting and prose are distinctive and vivid. It's a safe bet to say that readers who have enjoyed previous installments of "Kick-Ass" will also enjoy this new chapter.

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8.0
Klaus #2

Dec 21, 2015

Klaus' eventual victory is, of course, assured, so -- while the smaller gears of the story have some surprises -- the larger arc is predictable, and a showdown between the Baron and Klaus is inevitable. Despite these constraints, Morrison and Mora keep the suspense taut throughout with expert pacing. "Klaus" #2 is a great read, and its skillful reworking of myth is for all seasons.

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6.0
Klaus #4

Mar 28, 2016

The cliffhanger in the last page of "Klaus" #4 drips with menace, but the only suspense will be the mechanism of Magnus' undoing. "Klaus" is a fun read, but it's a pity that none of the characters besides Klaus himself are distinctive or memorable.

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6.0
Lady Killer #5

May 18, 2015

It's too easy to ignore the subtext, and many readers will miss it entirely. Despite this focus on entertainment over more memorable substance, "Lady Killer" is an enjoyable and worth picking up for the Jones' art.

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6.0
Last Sons of America #1

Nov 16, 2015

"Last Sons of America" #1 has uneven storytelling and the tropes are well-worn. Don Carlo sounds like a stereotypical mob boss and the contrast between the more impulsive Jack and the bookish idealistic Julian is also cookie-cutter (just like the Hardy Boys, actually). Despite this, I'm looking forward to the next issue. The emotions of the characters come across strongly, and the ending cliffhanger -- though predictable in retrospect -- is well-executed enough for the last page reveal to pack some punch.

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8.0
Lazarus #2

Jul 29, 2013

The cliffhanger ending is logical and yet unexpected. Rucka opens a door outwards, pointing to even richer material and greater horizons. Though the holdings of the Carlyle's are rich and vast, they are not the entire world, and although Forever, with her name and abilities, seems unassailable, the world she lives in is dangerous even to her. Rucka's casual reminder of these facts is deft, and overall, "Lazarus" #2 expands and maintains a well-executed, exciting introduction to Forever's story.

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8.0
Lazarus #6

Feb 10, 2014

In "Lift," Rucka and Lark are serious about telling a story with social implications instead of contenting themselves with entertaining their audience with the labyrinthine maneuvers of intra-family backstabbing and the delights of futuristic weapons and technology. It's the perfect time to examine the effects of greater stratification between the 1% and the rest of us. As Rucka notes in the letters column, Oxfam recently released a report that the top 85 richest people are as wealthy as poorest half of the world. A dystopia in which the world is divided into Family and Waste isn't a stretch, and it's great to see Rucka and Lark engage with the serious meat of socioeconomic themes with all their formidable storytelling skills.

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8.0
Lazarus #8

Apr 28, 2014

"Lazarus" #8 not only thickens the plot and deepens characterization; it also successfully engages and develops the complexity, scale and scope of Rucka and Lark's ambitious themes.

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9.0
Lazarus #12

Oct 24, 2014

While it's well-done on many fronts, character development in "Lazarus" #12 is exceptional, particularly because so much of it is through the art. Hock is so gross the fact that his unwanted overture to Forever kicks up more dread than the facts of the cliffhanger. As a prelude to a Hock vs. Carlyle showdown and an opening move, "Lazarus" #12 is great storytelling, notable even considering Rucka and Lark's consistently strong work thus far on the series.

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9.0
Lazarus #16

Apr 27, 2015

"Lazarus" #16 is an ingeniously constructed, ambitious issue. Sister Bernard's story advances the plot, enriches the world-building, provides a quiet beat in the larger arc and is an almost poetic tale of religious doubt and devotion in a time of war.

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8.0
Lazarus #18

Jul 31, 2015

All the action in "Lazarus" #18 serves the story, either by moving chess pieces into new places or by providing extra dimension and texture to major and minor characters. Its dominant atmosphere is one of vigilance and restlessness, of quiet striving. It winds the reader up tighter and tighter, building tension for events that are coming into focus on a quickly approaching horizon.

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8.0
Lazarus #21

Jan 4, 2016

Rucka and Lark save their biggest plot twist in "Lazarus" #21 for the last scene, and it's a game-changer. It was smart of Rucka and Lark to present the scene from Sonja's point-of-view, since her visitor status allows her to share in the reader's shock, though the four-panel reveal is too prolonged and dampens the impact. The twist itself is a staple of science fiction and isn't that surprising, given Carlyle's advanced technology, but I didn't see it coming before this issue. The cliffhanger will leave readers with new questions about where Carlyle will be "sailing next," as Johanna puts it, now that the tide has turned.

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8.0
Lazarus #22

Jun 20, 2016

"Lazarus" #22 provides interesting insight into Johanna Carlyle and shows that Carlyle's resident femme fatale might still have a heart, posing the intriguing question of whether Johanna can be reformed despite her readiness to betray anyone at the drop of a hat and her heartless treatment of Waste, Serfs and Family alike.

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5.0
Legendary Star-Lord #10

Mar 27, 2015

"Legendary Star-Lord" #10 holds up its part of the arc, but "The Black Vortex" event isn't one to remember at this point.

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4.0
Letter 44 #2

Dec 2, 2013

Like the first issue, "Letter 44" #2 is marred by clumsy narration and heavy-handed world-building. Further issues might be able to iron this out, but for now, the storytelling poorly executes a promising concept.

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8.0
Locke & Key Alpha #1

Sep 13, 2013

As Scot Kavanaugh says on the next-to-last page, "Okay but not okay, isn't that"human?" The fallout feels perfect for "Locke and Key," which was always an excellent combination of fantastical horror mechanics coupled with raw emotional depth. Hill and Rodriguez don't kid around. The casualties are serious, and on the final page, the reader will feel emotionally exhausted, which is in its way a vindication of the creative team's powers.

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7.0
Locke & Key Alpha #2

Dec 20, 2013

This isn't to diminish that this is a fine ending for "Locke and Key," but it is limited in scope, concentrating on closure and "making things right" over realism in order to put all the toys back in their proper places. It's a little too neat, but it's a satisfying issue to consume and finish, and it feels simultaneously good and bad to see such an excellent creator-owned series come to an intentional end.

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9.0
Locke & Key Omega #1

Nov 19, 2012

Readers who have been following the series won't be disappointed in the well-crafted, intimate "Locke and Key: Omega" #1. New readers should pick up a trade or hardcover the first storyline, "Welcome to Lovecraft," and treat themselves a story by one the best creative teams in comics.

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9.0
Locke & Key Omega #2

Dec 24, 2012

"Locke and Key: Omega" #2 is exceptional comic for being creepy, strange and suspenseful like all horror fiction should be, but also just for being the kind of story that can make a reader want to laugh and cry within only twenty-one pages.

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9.0
Locke & Key Omega #4

Apr 8, 2013

"Locke and Key: Omega" #4 will leave fans feeling unsettled and frustrated, but these effects are the results of its strengths. As "Locke and Key" enters the final act of its final arc, it is still consistently one of the best books on the stands.

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9.0
Locke & Key Omega #5

Jun 10, 2013

"Locke and Key: Omega" #5 is only two issues away from the end of Hill and Rodriguez's epic family horror drama, but it's never too late to get into something this good.

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6.0
Loki: Agent of Asgard #3

Apr 7, 2014

While "Loki: Agent of Asgard" #3 covers a lot of ground and sets up an intersection between the Loki and his future self, the story loses some humor and lightness of handling when one Loki is in the spotlight instead of the other.

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6.0
Long Distance #1

Jun 12, 2015

Characters reveal more of their true selves in conflict and crisis. Carter and Lee are two well-off young people with secure jobs and no kids. This isn't to say that they can't have any real problems, but that their inner life is unrevealed. Ergo, the reader's impression of them and their romance is superficial so far. The romance itself will precipitate the true conflict in the story when their attachment deepens. The emotional ride will get rockier when they must start thinking about compromises and sacrifices. "Long Distance" #1 is a pleasant enough start, but the relationship will have to prove itself to both the couple and readers in the next issue.

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7.0
Lucifer (2015) #1

Dec 21, 2015

The strengths of "Lucifer" #1 are Black's prose and Garbett's eye for outlines and texture, and the weaknesses are in expressivity and pacing. It's friendly to new readers while making some nods in the direction of those who have read all of "Sandman" and Carey's "Lucifer." The positives outweigh the negatives, and -- as Lucifer sets off on a new adventure -- I'm looking forward to more.

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6.0
Lucky Penny #1

Mar 7, 2016

The resolution is sweet, if predictable, and true to the spirit of the main characters. "Lucky Penny" doesn't dig too deep into its themes of self-doubt and poverty, choosing instead to tread lightly. The story brings out and champions its heroine well, and the result is an enjoyable read.

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7.0
Lumberjanes #2

May 16, 2014

On the balance, "Lumberjanes" #2 is has less exposition and more action than the debut issue, but it's still episodic, and continues to lack tension or build. However, the visual energy and ridiculous humor compensate for a lot, and the plot shows definite signs of progressing into a larger, overarching arc soon.

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7.0
Lumberjanes #8

Nov 24, 2014

Stevenson, Ellis and Allen have introduced and maintained a cute and funny cast and upbeat themes. "Lumberjanes" #8 is a satisfying conclusion for the first story arc. It'll be interesting to see whether the next creative team can build on this solid foundation.

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8.0
Lumberjanes: Beyond Bay Leaf #1

Oct 19, 2015

For its 32 pages, "Lumberjanes: Beyond Bay Leaf" #1 is a fast read, but its emotional depth makes it memorable.

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5.0
Mantle #1

May 18, 2015

Brisson has proven he can write a tight, twisty plot with previous books like "Sheltered." It's ambitious of him to experiment with the superhero formula. I'm curious to see how the characters, tone and structure will develop in the second issue, but "The Mantle" #1 is a shaky start. Further issues will make or break the title.

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8.0
Mara #3

Mar 8, 2013

Wood and Doyle's choices in style and characterization give "Mara" a distinct mood and feel, best described as silence within noise. There's a feeling of realism despite the turns into the fantastic, although this realism is highly stylized. Within the frenzy of media attention and the buzz of violence and scandal, the tone of "Mara" #3 is contemplative and philosophical. It's unlike anything else on the stands, and worth picking up for both the art and the narrative technique.

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8.0
Mara #5

Jun 24, 2013

Secondly, the last five pages are one long surprise. Wood and Doyle successfully expand what would usually be a one-page shocker into an epic build towards a final, brutally simple concluding image. The enjoyable unpredictability of the plot and Wood and Doyle's unusual approach to characterization should make the upcoming sixth and concluding issue a winner as well.

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2.0
Merry Men #1

Jun 13, 2016

While the confrontation and battle between Robin and the Sheriff of Nottingham is inevitable, Rodi still fails to build up interest in the characters and tension about the eventual outcome of the story. "Merry Men" #1 relies too much on its concept to generate interest in the plot and the characters.

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4.0
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Pink #1

Jun 6, 2016

"Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink" #1 is aimed squarely at existing fans of the franchise, as Fletcher and Thompson assume previous knowledge of things like Alpha 5, Goldar and Zordon as well as Kimberly's accessories and powers. The storytelling isn't strong enough to stand on its own yet, though the writing is sharper and brighter when Fletcher and Thompson focus on Kim's voice and don't hew quite so closely to the conventions of the original live-action show.

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6.0
Miniature Jesus #1

Apr 22, 2013

"Miniature Jesus" #1 feels disorienting and sometimes ugly, but that's probably McKeever's intent. In its favor, it's also memorable and hypnotic in its strangeness. Whether or not one likes it is going to depend heavily on personal taste. It's best summed up as the comics analogue to a garage-made industrial surrealist art film -- conceptually driven and unpolished, but also something striving to be unique, provoking and surprising. Except for Image being the publisher, all of "Miniature Jesus" #1 is McKeever's work, and it may yet succeed on its own terms and find its audience. However, as a debut issue, "Miniature Jesus" #1 is a mixed bag, because McKeever's ambitions and emerging story do not -- yet -- justify all the heavy themes and deliberate opacity.

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7.0
Mirror #1

Feb 2, 2016

While all the characters are sympathetic, almost none of the plot feels new. Idealistic heroes, star-crossed lovers and oppression are all familiar elements of fairy tales and classic fantasy, and Rios' usage of them is by the book. The obvious moral lessons about bigotry and compassion also don't have any new twists added quite yet. Despite this, "Mirror" #1 still has a lot of emotional power and the art is entrancing.

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8.0
Monstress #2

Dec 14, 2015

Liu continues to avoid information dumps and "Monstress" #2 maintains emotional urgency throughout, even though it remains a denser-than-average read. The final cliffhanger is beautiful and eerie, showcasing Takeda's talents in creating mood and suspense. The story is still hard to follow at times without re-reading, but it rewards those who do with its luxuriant detail and ambitious breadth.

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8.0
Monstress #4

Mar 21, 2016

Liu and Takeda are still building a sprawling fantasy epic, but their approach in "Monstress" #4 has already hit a great balance between the personal and the political. Maika's struggle with the Monstrum is both visceral and moral; she is battling for control of both her body and her soul. Artfully, the disagreement between the Queen of Wolves and Alia is also one of both sovereignty and principles. The war between the Cumaea, the Federation and the Arcanic Lands are linked to Maika's quest by themes of identity, trust and compromise, deceit and revenge.

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5.0
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2

Dec 24, 2015

The art and the writing are kid-friendly, but unfortunately, they lack the dramatic or comic depth to sustain appeal for teen or adult readers. However, this is only the second issue and that could change if the story shifted to expanding Lunella's ambitions and abilities. The main character still has star power, so she should be front and center.

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8.0
Moon Knight (2014) #4

Jun 9, 2014

The current opening run of "Moon Knight" has been a critical success, and it's easy to see why. It's a pity that Shavley and Ellis are leaving the series soon, after issue #6, but they've already managed to make what is old new again.

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8.0
Moon Knight (2014) #11

Jan 26, 2015

In the final few pages, Bellaire shows wonderful restraint in leaving some of Smallwood's panels colorless, letting his charcoal-like shading and elegant compositions speak for themselves. While it is foreshadowed that Spector's prison isn't normal, Smallwood and Bellaire's artwork make the last page a stunning experience. Even the way that the panels section the page feels daring and right. "Moon Knight" continues to be a successful relaunch under Wood, Smallwood and Bellaire's care.

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8.0
Moon Knight (2016) #3

Jun 6, 2016

Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey's successful run on "Moon Knight" was like fast-paced action film with trappings of detective fiction and the supernatural. Lemire and Smallwood's take on Marc Spector's role in the world is slower, less steady, dreamier and scarier. Together with Bellaire, they've made a very strong impression in only three issues.

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7.0
Morbius: The Living Vampire #1

Jan 2, 2013

Keatinge has created an original take on and voice for Morbius, and in "Morbius The Living Vampire" #1, characterization takes precedence over plot. Despite the slow build, it's still a promising beginning if Keatinge and Elson can deliver on suspense and horror themes in further issues.

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9.0
Morning Glories #20

Jul 10, 2012

This issue is no different from previous installments of "Morning Glories" in that Spencer's plotting raises more questions or mysteries even as he gives us some answers. Although some readers may be frustrated that overarching plot resolution will not arrive until the series' end, accepting that you won't have the whole picture during the ride does allow you to better enjoy it. Not knowing how Spencer and Eisma are going to blow your mind next is all a part of the continuing charm of "Morning Glories."

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9.0
Morning Glories #21

Sep 2, 2012

Spencer and Eisma's "Morning Glories" #21 successfully doubles the size of the core cast while driving up suspense for "The Ceremony" next issue. The Truants won't be a disappointment to continuing "Morning Glories" fans. The only disappointment is how long the wait between issues will feel.

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9.0
Morning Glories #22

Oct 15, 2012

Eisma's facial expressions and the body language of his characters carry the emotional weight of all these interactions, visually defining characters' personalities even more distinctively than Spencer's dialogue. In the melee of bizarre events later in the issue, the visual clarity Eisma contributes is critical. During the climbing of the steps scene, the Eisma's handling of scale and camera angles, aided by Sollazzo's shadowy palette, create an appropriate atmosphere of excitement, mystery and foreboding. Eisma's pacing is also perfectly in tune with Spencer's script, no small feat in for a script that changes direction and location multiple times. At the issue's characteristically mind-blowing last-page, the reader may feel as disoriented and adrenaline-fueled as Hunter, but in a good way.

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9.0
Morning Glories #23

Dec 3, 2012

If "Morning Glories" #23 had a theme, it would be faith. All the characters, especially The Truants, deal with each other variously in good faith, bad faith, broken faith and a shared faith in knowledge, power and destiny. The victims of the Ceremony also each had faith, though their beliefs and understanding differed. I'm looking forward to seeing more of how Spencer's themes of faith and destiny will tie into the long-running religious allusions in "Morning Glories," as well as the recurring, ominous phrases like of "For a Better Future."

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9.0
Morning Glories #24

Feb 18, 2013

It's clear that much of the larger story arc was building towards this climactic scene, and nothing else in "Morning Glories" #24 can match the pathos and horror of its mixture of love, longing and violence. Reading those pages, one can't help be moved and appalled, enthralled with a chapter of "Morning Glories" that is near-perfect in plotting and execution. It's a tale that will reward the faithful.

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8.0
Morning Glories #26

Apr 29, 2013

However, it artfully picks up several loose threads from Season One, and Spencer's tone and themes remain consistent in their exploration of faith, trust, leadership and betrayal. For a mere $1.00, "Morning Glories" #26 is a bargain for long-time monthly readers and may also tempt readers who regularly trade-wait.

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8.0
Morning Glories #30

Sep 3, 2013

Like the series as a whole, "Morning Glories" #30 is well-plotted and drawn, and Irina's story will keep the reader guessing and looking forward to more character spotlights.

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7.0
Morning Glories #37

Feb 24, 2014

In moving away from some of its original strengths in characterization and dialogue, "Morning Glories" is leaning more heavily on its technique and ideas. It's like watching a top-notch science fiction story morph into being an art film, and not all of that change in emphasis is to the good. That said, Spencer and Eisma's storytelling skills are still present, and the further developments are still worth following, although the individual reader's mileage may vary depending on patience and curiosity.

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8.0
Morning Glories #45

May 4, 2015

"Morning Glories" only has one jumping-on point, and that's the first issue. I could not recommend "Morning Glories" #45 to a new reader but, for fans who have been following the story all along, it rewards that loyalty with satisfying answers.

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8.0
Ms. Marvel (2014) #3

Apr 21, 2014

"Ms. Marvel" #3 continues to build exposition by showing, not telling, and Wilson and Alphona are laying down a story foundation that is solid ground for future adventures as well as rich in subtlety and detail.

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9.0
Ms. Marvel (2014) #7

Aug 25, 2014

Wilson's "Ms. Marvel" is a classic coming of age story, but everything else about it feels unpredictable and fresh, particularly in the texture of Kamala's background and everyday life and in the charm of her personality. The ease and the sheer pleasure of "Ms. Marvel" makes it one of the best comics Marvel is putting out right now.

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8.0
Ms. Marvel (2014) #9

Oct 20, 2014

"Ms. Marvel" continues to be one of Marvel's best ongoing series for its humor, the strong style of its art team and Wilson's addictively good characterization and dialogue.

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9.0
Ms. Marvel (2014) #14

Apr 20, 2015

Wilson's talents with dialogue and humor continue to make "Ms. Marvel" a star, but Miyazawa and the rest of the team provide the extra wattage to make her shine even more brightly.

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7.0
Ms. Marvel (2014) #16

Jun 22, 2015

It's still one of the best titles on the stands, but the plotting and art are uneven in "Ms. Marvel" #16. Wilson's balance of humor and drama is still a sweet spot, and Kamala hasn't lost her appeal. The focus on community, especially Kamala's family and friends, has always been one of narrative strengths. "Ms. Marvel" #16 imperfectly juggles the personal angle and end of the world.

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9.0
Ms. Marvel (2014) #18

Sep 14, 2015

Wilson's passion and respect for family and faith animates "Last Days" with poignancy and tenderness. Kamala might feel like she's gotten things wrong in the last few weeks, but her priorities and instincts for how to live when the world is ending are just right, and the reader knows it. The ending of "Ms. Marvel" #18 is splendid, surpassing most cliffhangers in its narrative power and showing how love and intimacy can surprise and move a reader more than suspense or fear.

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8.0
Ms. Marvel (2015) #1

Nov 20, 2015

"Ms. Marvel" #1 is trying to go in two or three directions at once, mixing teen romance with image control and a fight for the identity of a neighborhood, and the components aren't sticking together very well yet, despite the common ground of Kamala figuring out what she's about. It's a weaker debut issue than the older "Ms. Marvel" #1 from 2014, but it's still one of the best reads on the stands.

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8.0
Ms. Marvel (2015) #4

Feb 15, 2016

So far, Kamala's new status as an Avenger hasn't added much to her character. With the exception of Wolverine's two-issue cameo in the original ongoing series, her pre-existing social network has been much more fruitful for characterization and chemistry. I'm still not convinced Ms. Marvel needs to be on a superhero team, even though it's fun to see her in other books. That said, Avengers membership is a good launching pad for the themes about growing up, compromises and priorities that Kamala faces in "Army of One."

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9.0
Ms. Marvel (2015) #6

May 2, 2016

The various morals of "Army of One" are all forgone conclusions, obvious from the start -- make sure to prioritize the things that really matter and don't be afraid to ask for help -- but it's characteristic of Wilson's writing style that she doesn't want to leave these points unsaid. It's like she doesn't want any readers to get away with missing the message. It's too much hand-holding, but -- sappy as it is -- Kamala's explicit realization about home manages to evoke an emotional response anyway. Wilson's sincerity and light touch are able to make mundane Hallmark-like sentiments feel meaningful again.

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7.0
Ms. Marvel (2015) #8

Jun 27, 2016

Though the other Carol Cadets members are unfortunately pretty flat so far, the last page cliffhanger makes the title feel more personal again. It's smart of Miyazawa to heighten the background detail that reinforces the humanity of the newest "future-criminal" and his connection to Kamala. While the next issue will probably push the moral debate a little further, the story arc feels weaker than most of the non-event-related issues that preceded it. In "Ms. Marvel" #8, "Civil War II" takes panel time away from the personal relationships and humor that make "Ms. Marvel" distinctive.

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7.0
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1

Nov 30, 2012

The story arc pauses at a natural-feeling resting point, with a good exit line delivered by the irrepressibly excitable Pinkie Pie. "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" #1 is a strong launch that will please both kids and adult fans of the show, and due to Cook and Price's enthusiasm and skill, it's a lot better than it needs to be for a property with an existing, devoted fanbase.

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7.0
Mystery Girl #1

Dec 7, 2015

The surprises are in the details, like the killer's puzzling conversation with a maid. Tobin's script has one twist after another, each of them fanciful and offbeat, but the cost in believability might not be worth the charm and the unpredictability. By the last page, Tobin asks a lot of the reader. The killer's quirks and a zoological phenomenon out of left field require even more suspension of disbelief than Trine's powers. It's uncertain whether the eventual answers in future issues will be satisfying enough to justify these leaps. "Mystery Girl" #1 is uneven debut issue, but its strengths are unusual enough the reader may be hooked nevertheless.

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7.0
Nameless #2

Mar 6, 2015

Strip away esotericism, and "Nameless" follows the usual space horror template. It's more style than substance currently, but the style is engrossing and unusual enough that "Nameless" is worth reading for the texture of Morrison and Burnham's world building and Nameless' dialogue.

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5.0
Nameless #5

Sep 28, 2015

The fleshy gore and uncanny ambience of "Nameless" #5 still make it distinctive, but the success of the story as a whole is reduced by its lack of lucid moments and connective tissue. Burnham and Fairbairn's art is effective and there are a lot of interesting ingredients in Morrison's vision, but they aren't coming together to become something more powerful.

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9.0
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong #1

May 10, 2013

"Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong" is a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying read. It's a great blend of optimism, geek humor and high school drama, and when I put the book down, my first thought was to hope that Shen and Hicks would collaborate again, with similarly successful results.

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7.0
Oddly Normal #2

Oct 27, 2014

"Oddly Normal" #2 is cute and fun, but falls short on plot progress. Hopefully, in future issues, Frampton can pack in more action while not sacrificing any of the smoothness of his pacing. Oddly does finally enter Fignation, and Frampton has built up enough interest and plot tension that readers who were hooked by the first issue will still be hooked.

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6.0
Original Sin #7

Aug 15, 2014

With only one issue to go, it's uncertain whether Aaron and Deodato will be able to wrap everything up in a satisfactory finale, with all the questions still in the air. That said, if the reader has come this far, it will be hard to resist picking up the last issue.

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8.0
Paper Girls #1

Oct 12, 2015

The cliffhanger is both surprising and funny, but mostly I look forward to seeing more of these characters. Vaughan and Chiang are a dream team combination, and "Paper Girls" looks like it's going to be another winner for both of them.

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6.0
Paper Girls #5

Feb 8, 2016

Chiang's artwork is still a draw, especially in the dramatic moments that call for some visual spectacle, but "Paper Girls" #5 is showing the strain of a series that has been guilty of focusing too much on concept over emotional depth and characterization. The next arc may be better once the girls must deal with their new setting together.

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6.0
Penny Dora & The Wishing Box #2

Dec 8, 2014

Most kids, and let's face it, even most adults, would be tempted to go hog-wild with wishing once they knew what they had. Penny has gone more than 24 hours without wishing for anything that could be considered personal gain. Penny is instantly aware of the creepiness and the immense power of the box, and it freaks her out instead of swelling her sense of power. Her more impulsive and curious friend Elizabeth is more typical. She's Penny's foil and when she fights with Penny, she also provides the first bad consequence of the box being used. In Penny's characterization, Stock's story may be headed in the direction of something new, but it's too early to tell. For now, "Penny Dora and the Wishing Box" #2 is an interesting but uneven reading experience.

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6.0
Point of Impact #2

Nov 19, 2012

Faerber's choice to make the last page silent gives the closing action a great, slowed-down suspense and pace. Despite its uneven plotting and characterization, "Point of Impact" #2 did leave me still curious about the possible conspiracy behind Nicole's death, and how each character fits into the puzzle.

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3.0
Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1

Sep 12, 2014

"Prometheus: Fire and Stone" #1 doesn't stand on its own for readers who aren't invested in the franchise already, and it's also of dubious value as a follow-up to the film or a start to the "Fire and Stone" crossover. It doesn't build horror effectively yet, and the characterization is weak. The only real suspense occurs on the last page, and this is inherited suspense, riding on the coattails of the movie. Familiar readers may soldier on to learn exactly why LV-223 is so changed or simply to see when what happens when things go further south. The final panel isn't a huge surprise, but it does create anticipation, at least for "Aliens" fans, about what happens when that door is opened like Pandora's box.

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8.0
Prophet #27

Jul 30, 2012

"Prophet" #27 takes some patience and open-mindedness from the reader, but its multitude of ideas and formal experiments are worth the effort.

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8.0
Prophet #28

Sep 3, 2012

First and last, "Prophet" is about landscape and history, about a longer epic journey within worlds that are old to John Prophet but new to the reader. The creative team's aesthetic choices make "Prophet" very still, very quiet. A lot of the comic is taken up by text boxes with enigmatic, poetic prose that requires the concentration and listening that poetry usually does. Despite all the action scenes, "Prophet" is not an action book -- it's a story in which action occurs like ripples on the surface of a lake, stretching soundlessly to fill the horizon.

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8.0
Prophet #30

Oct 29, 2012

In its ambition and scale, poetic prose, world-building and unpredictable action, imagery and imagination, "Prophet" is one the best, strangest comic books on the market. I'd recommend it to friends who might appreciate its unusual storytelling and mind-bending landscapes, or to readers who are looking for something different and new.

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6.0
Protocol: Orphans #1

Nov 15, 2013

"Protocol: Orphans" #1 is a fun, smooth read due to the creative team's strong technique, but it's also deliberately shallow, guilty of taking too cursory a look at the dynamics it introduces just for kicks.

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5.0
Punk Mambo #0

Nov 21, 2014

Punk Mambo was a nice surprise when she first appeared in the pages of "Shadowman" because, as Milligan intended, she wasn't a stereotypical mambo. "Punk Mambo" #0 has smooth storytelling mechanics and superficially fulfills the function of an origin story, but it actually adds almost nothing her characterization.

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9.0
Punk Rock Jesus #4

Oct 15, 2012

In "Punk Rock Jesus," Sean Murphy is constructing a big, multifaceted story, a philosophical and political meditation on the uses and abuses of organized religion, touching also on themes of childhood and adolescence, grief, crime and redemption, purity and pollution, freedom and tyranny, conformity and rebellion, spectacle and consumption. Not only does "Punk Rock Jesus" #4 dare to dream, but it succeeds in its ambitions.

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9.0
Punk Rock Jesus #5

Nov 16, 2012

Murphy is a credit to skeptics and those who dare to challenge the establishment, religious or otherwise, and more importantly, "Punk Rock Jesus" makes a reader think as well as feel, more than any other comic on the stands.

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8.0
Rachel Rising #16

Apr 26, 2013

"Rachel Rising" has just been picked up for a TV series by Alcon Entertainment, with Moore as an executive producer if the series makes it to the small screen. Fortunately, "Rachel Rising" #16 is a great time to get into the Moore's long-form horror story. The series has been around long enough for Moore to take the plot and characters through several fascinating turns. While it's best to start at issue #1, Moore's storytelling is clear and there's more than enough in "Rachel Rising" #16 to convince curious new readers to check out the whole series.

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8.0
Rachel Rising #18

Jul 15, 2013

"Rachel Rising" #18 is another excellent chapter in Moore's horror story about good and evil, innocence and guilt, life and death. Since his early work on "Strangers in Paradise," Moore has always handled comedy, body language and facial expressions with enviable ease, but his plotting and characterization were weakened by melodrama and far-fetched plot extensions. In "Rachel Rising" #18, Moore has maintained and refined his emotional and comedic powers, and compared to his earlier work, he has also become far subtler and deliberate in his plotting and more profound in his thematic depth and breadth.

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8.0
Rachel Rising #21

Nov 25, 2013

The two scenes with Rachel and Zoe are opposed not only in direction (life vs. death) but also in technique. Both move along quickly, one animated by dialogue and thematic depth, and the other charged with suspense from near-silent action and character development. Moore's breadth of skill and his consistently storytelling makes "Rachel Rising" one of the best long-form stories on the stands.

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8.0
Rachel Rising #29

Oct 31, 2014

In Moore's previous stories, the lines between the good vs. bad characters were pretty clean, but the lines are blurring more in "Rachel Rising", particularly with the character of Zoe. "Rachel Rising" #29 revolves around the theme of revenge and how what goes around, comes around. It's strange how delicious and how justified Zoe's and Rachel's violent goals feel. Moore's never had a lack of aggressive, physically dangerous female characters in his comics, but in "Rachel Rising," the violence feels darker because it's less humorous and more bloody. "Rachel Rising" #29 is a strong issue of a strong series. Moore further deepens characterization for two of the main characters, and the plot is freshened by several sharp, small twists.

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6.0
Rat Queens #2

Oct 28, 2013

"Rat Queens" #2 is an easy, enjoyable read. This is partly because Wiebe and Upchurch know their stuff, but it's also because they aren't taking a lot of risks with the storytelling. The dialogue glides on easily with familiar jokes, and the action and characterization are vivid but derivative, offering comforting fun but no surprises. The predictability isn't offensive or lazy, but the creative team plays it so safe that they risk being bland. However, the last page of "Rat Queens" #2 changes the atmosphere and direction with its hints of conspiracy or intrigue, so the story may offer stronger plot twists or develop on more original lines as it progresses further.

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8.0
Relish #1

Apr 3, 2013

The appeal and scope of Kinsley's "Relish" aren't so wide that the book transcends its category. Areader utterly uninterested in nonfiction or in food will probably not be a fan. However, "Relish" is a very enjoyable example of its kind, and is it highly recommended to readers with either an adventurous reading palate or for those who have already developed a taste for such flavors.

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8.0
Resurrection Man (2011) #0

Sep 14, 2012

Abnett and Lanning never take "Resurrection Man" too seriously, and their offbeat humor further distinguishes this misfit fantasy/scifi/horror title. The "bad" guy gets the best lines, of course, as well as the final word. The demon is still unnamed at the end of "Resurrection Man," even though he is a cunning scene-stealer. His line, "Relax, woman. I just did a bit of demon-y magic stuff" made me laugh aloud, and "Resurrection Man" #0 ends on a perfect, lighthearted note, promising that it is "[Never Ever] The End."

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3.0
Reyn #1

Jan 23, 2015

The reader knows who to like and who to dislike through all the well-worn visual and verbal shorthand. It's efficient, but there are no surprises here, to the point that it's a liability for the story. Every single character in "Reyn" #1 has been endlessly rehashed in the fantasy genre already, and the creative team hasn't added anything new. The world of Fate is built up adequately, but it is also derivative. In the end, the lack of originality in setting, character and dialogue makes "Reyn" feel like old news even though it's a debut.

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9.0
Rocket Girl #1

Oct 14, 2013

With its verve, underplayed humor and electric visuals, "Rocket Girl" #1 is one of the strongest debuts of the 2013. Here's hoping that future issues have the same light-handed execution and effervescent atmosphere.

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7.0
Rocket Girl #4

Mar 21, 2014

It's a pleasure that Montclare largely hasn't been recycling time travel genre stereotypes, but while he's avoided imitation, his plot is noticeably losing steam. Reeder's art still makes "Rocket Girl" #4 worth reading, and one hopes that future issues will revive Montclare's flare for snappy diction and rev up the pace of plot developments.

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8.0
Runaways (2015) #2

Jul 13, 2015

The revelation itself is very old, seen before in dystopian science fiction in multiple media. Even more broadly, it can be classified as simply an abuse of authority, one so great that there is no further justification needed for rebellion by the narrators or heroes. From "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to "Hunger Games," institutional abuse of power provides both a mission and teamwork-glue to the oppressed. Stevenson and Greene are able to give the plot twist an initial jolt of shock, but it quickly wears off, reverting to seeming predictable and derivative afterwards. That's no matter, however; it has served its purpose and the Runaways are off. The highlights of the title remain the humor, dialogue and the team dynamic.

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8.0
Runaways (2015) #4

Sep 28, 2015

Despite some predictable beats and too many plot points crammed into one issue, "Runaways" #4 is still an engrossing, fun read. Based on what they've been able to accomplish in four issues, Stevenson and Greene should be given the chance to work together again, preferably on an ongoing team comic.

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8.0
Saga #9

Jan 21, 2013

Staples and Vaughn build the world of "Saga" with the same skill that they develop characters. By the end of "Saga" #9, the reader has acquired new information about the setting and peoples of the world and seen some bizarre new sights, but the detail and variety is revealed casually and naturally through the action of the plot instead of shoe-horned or crammed in. Vaughn and Staples' pace of storytelling that advances plot and world-building in a gradual clip, with world-building that is easy to take in because it is neither too slow nor too fast. It hovers between comfortable and exciting, leavening the alien sights with the humanity and likability of the characters. This mixture of familiar and strange makes the world "Saga" a place that readers will look forward to visiting month after month, year after year, until the story reaches its end.

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8.0
Saga #12

Apr 12, 2013

Overall, "Saga" #12 isn't a misstep as part of the huge story that Vaughn and Staples are telling. The events here are a beginning to understanding the enemy, if Prince Robot IV can be called one. However, as a chapter on its own, it lacks some traction because of the nature of the character it follows and in its unhurried pacing.

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8.0
Saga #23

Sep 26, 2014

Vaughan and Staples have taken their characters to a dark place in a psychologically realistic way -- what has happened to Alana and Marko, or even to Dengo or Yuma, are things that happen to ordinary people all the time. The drama is universal, but the pain feels fresh, and this naturalism strengthens the breadth of "Saga" by dwelling on the ways that people can come together and fall apart, both in their relationships and in their own souls.

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6.0
Scarlet Witch #1

Dec 9, 2015

"Scarlet Witch" #1 has pretty prose and artwork, but it doesn't create suspense and it also hasn't succeeded in redefining Wanda's new place and role in the Marvel Universe. Future issues, however, may remedy this.

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6.0
Secret Wars 2099 #1

Jun 1, 2015

The plot is commonplace, and David also doesn't expend effort on rehashing or extending the 2099 universe. "Secret Wars 2099" #1 is strongly character-driven, and the readers' responses will depend how much they like the characters. None of the Avengers have as much star power as Miguel O'Hara so far, but Captain America 2099 and Hercules 2099 both make an impression.

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7.0
Secret Wars Too #1

Nov 23, 2015

As mostly a collection of jokes, "Secret Wars Too" feels skippable, especially considering the high cover price, which feels too high for only 33 pages. It's fun to read, and the creative teams seem to have enjoyed themselves, but with the notable exception of "Pizza Quest" the stories and the jokes are forgettable.

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8.0
Secret Wars: Secret Love #1

Aug 24, 2015

Kudos to the editor Emily Shaw, too, because she curated a collection in which all the creative teams were into the concept. All the enthusiasm and effort has paid off with an unusually strong and enjoyable anthology. It's one of the best extras to come out of the "Secret Wars" event.

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7.0
Sex Criminals #2

Oct 25, 2013

The laughs and character study of "Sex Criminals" #2 are good world-building, but they don't quite justify the dragging out of suspense at this early point. The withholding of information feels like manipulation rather than suspense-building. Overall, though, "Sex Criminals" continues to be a great read for its unique concept and its breezy handling of its themes and characters.

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8.0
Sex Criminals #6

Jun 23, 2014

The funny and ridiculous developments in the plot, such as the blooping "Cumpass," are grounded by the realism of Jon's mental state. In the final panel of "Sex Criminals" #6, Jon's declaration of war on the Sex Police promises another new direction for Fraction and Zdarksky's unpredictable and original story in the next issue.

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6.0
Shadowman #5

Mar 11, 2013

"Shadowman" #5 ends on a mysterious cliffhanger that introduces a new player. One of the virtues of "Shadowman" is its quick and deft development of its mythology and cast, and I hope that the plotting in future issues will rely less on stale plot elements while continuing to maintain the strong pacing.

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6.0
She Wolf #1

Jun 27, 2016

"She Wolf" #1 is strong on atmosphere and style, but it will likely fall too hard of the cerebral side for a lot of readers. Tommaso doesn't establish the main character as more than the sum of the terrors that she faces. To the degree to which they can be separated, the art is stronger than the writing in "She Wolf" #1.

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8.0
She-Hulk (2014) #1

Mar 7, 2014

Soule and Pulido's "She-Hulk" is one of the sunniest and most promising new titles on the stands. It's good to see a lead female who doesn't run on angst or operate in a moral gray zone. More importantly, the story shines due to Soule and Pulido's light humor and casual, deft pacing.

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8.0
She-Hulk (2014) #2

Mar 7, 2014

Soule and Pulido's "She-Hulk" is one of the sunniest and most promising new titles on the stands. It's good to see a lead female who doesn't run on angst or operate in a moral gray zone. More importantly, the story shines due to Soule and Pulido's light humor and casual, deft pacing.

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7.0
She-Hulk (2014) #5

Jun 16, 2014

As a whole, Wimberly and Renzi's doesn't yet feel as strong or as Pulido and Vicente's work, but it's only their first issue on the title and the high points are promising. "She-Hulk" continues to be a great take on Jennifer Walters and her calling as both lawyer and superhero.

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8.0
She-Hulk (2014) #8

Sep 5, 2014

"She-Hulk" #8 is a smooth, very enjoyable opening to a new story arc. This particular creative team is still gelling together beautifully, so one hopes that along with Patsy and Angie, they'll be on the Jen team, so to speak, for a good long stretch.

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8.0
She-Hulk (2014) #11

Dec 29, 2014

It's a great pity that Soule and Pulido's take on Jennifer Walters and her law practice and superheroic shenanigans will be coming to an end with the next issue. It's a shame that there won't be more time to develop the fascinating characters and relationships that Soule and Pulido introduced. Their version of Jen Walters gave her keen legal mind as much spotlight as her muscles. Patsy as Jen's investigator will be missed and so will the enigmatic and capable Angie and Hei Hei. Soule and Pulido's run on She-Hulk will be remembered and greatly missed.

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8.0
She-Hulk (2014) #12

Feb 23, 2015

The moral of the Blue File case is "don't fake it to make it." Heroes earn their name, work hard and don't kill people. Saccharine, but not bad words to live by, like most classic morals. Soule and Pulido's "She-Hulk" has been all about meaningful work, whether it's in the courtroom or in hand-to-hand combat. The final scene is wonderful for its hyperactive humor, including a bizarre but very funny cameo appearance by Howard the Duck and for the goodbye shot of the team looking out to the Brooklyn Bridge and to the future. Soule, Pulido and Vicente's "She-Hulk" will be remembered and missed.

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8.0
Sheltered #2

Aug 9, 2013

Brisson and Christmas are mining some fascinating themes here. "Sheltered" revolves around the boundary between Inside and Outside. It touches on community vs. isolation, moral absolutism vs. utilitarianism, peer group hierarchies, and the terrible power of a unifying obsession. A closed world is fascinating, but it will also be rewarding, later on, to see how Safe Haven will fare when it inevitably interfaces again with the outside world. It's not all at clear how things will turn out, and that is one of the primary attractions of "Sheltered." Psychological suspense is potent, and "Sheltered" #2 has plenty of it.

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7.0
Sheltered #4

Oct 21, 2013

However, despite this unevenness, "Sheltered" #4 is worth reading just for its suspenseful use of sociology, showing how tyranny is threatened by communication, both with the outside world and within the community.

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8.0
Sheltered #7

Mar 3, 2014

"Sheltered" #7 ends with a one-on-one confrontation that was coming since issue #1. That these two characters would meet again was pretty much mandatory. While it's too early for either to be killed off, it's otherwise uncertain what Brisson has coming next. After this issue, the path of the plot will probably become more difficult to guess. That's the real cliffhanger. The series would benefit from some more character development and thematic development along with the torrent of action in its pages, but it's holding up as strong dystopian suspense story.

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7.0
Sheltered #9

Jun 3, 2014

The most pathos in "Sheltered" #9 belongs to Cliff, who must kill or be killed. Christmas does great work with his facial expressions; it's painful to look at Cliff's face in any panel he's in, Christmas' art broadcasting his terrible physical and mental pain. Through facial expressions, body language and pacing, Christmas also does a great job of maintaining narrative tension throughout. Shari Chankhamma keeps the color palette mostly grim, but some of the quiet nighttime scenes have beautiful rich greens and blues. """Sheltered" #9 will read better when collected into trade; as a single issue, it's filled out with movements that feel like adjustments to a game board. Many moving parts come together from events set up in earlier issues, but there is no resting place, resolution or a game-changer at the end of the chapter, just a recombination-- though the cliffhanger on the final page indicates that fresh stakes are on the verge of being introduced.

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9.0
Sheltered #13

Nov 28, 2014

"Sheltered" has been consistently strong and full of surprises, but the last few issues have been a new high watermark. Since its attention-grabbing beginning, Brisson and Christmas pursued its themes and plot possibilities with admirable curiosity and grace.

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8.0
Shutter #1

Apr 14, 2014

The ending scene gets its power from the introduction of family secrets, an old plot device, but Keatinge uses it effectively to shove things into adventure mode. The hook is effective, but the deeper suspense is in wondering what else Keatinge and del Duca have yet to reveal about the details of Kate's world. "Shutter" #1 is a strong debut. The characterization and structure are solid, if nothing radical, but the world-building and visuals are remarkable.

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8.0
Shutter #4

Jul 14, 2014

"Shutter" #4 is a little uneven, but the gemlike opening and del Duca's art are more than enough to outweigh the slow pacing.

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9.0
Shutter #5

Aug 18, 2014

With the initial expository action out of the way, Keatinge and del Duca can devote more of their skills to characterization and plot structure in "Shutter" #5. The first few issues were beautiful and distinctive, but with "Shutter" #5, the series turns a major corner successfully, sinking its hooks deeper into the reader and becoming an exceptional read.

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8.0
Shutter #7

Dec 15, 2014

The direction or flow of the story needs to shift into another gear soon for Kate's journey to have a more meaningful arc, but "Shutter" #7 is worth picking up for dialogue and especially the artwork.

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7.0
Silk #1

Feb 20, 2015

"Silk" #1 has strong humor and unusually fine attention to psychological realism. If Thompson and Lee can step it up with the character development in future issues, "Silk" will be a winner.

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7.0
Silver Surfer (2014) #4

Jul 21, 2014

The reader's mileage will vary depending on how much he or she enjoyed the retro vibe of both the script and the visuals. The gradual introduction of occult forces into Anchor Bay in "Silver Surfer" #4 is the highlight of its efficient exposition for the beginning of another adventure.

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2.0
Sinestro #1

Apr 21, 2014

Geoff Johns was able to give Sinestro some depth, but in "Sinestro" #1, the character feels very limited in emotional range and redeeming qualities, not an auspicious start. It does establish a direction for Sinestro and give him a new raison d'etre in finding the remaining Korugarians and rebuilding his Corps, but the path towards those objectives is mechanical and instrumental.

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8.0
Sip Kids #1

Aug 8, 2014

If the reader is familiar with "Strangers in Paradise," "SIP Kids" #1 will be a deeper, funnier and more bittersweet read. It's not a bad debut issue for newbies, but this is really one for the fans, and it hits the mark.

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8.0
Snapshot #1

Feb 11, 2013

"Snapshot" #1 is worth picking up just for Jock's art. Only further issues will tell if Diggle's script sustains the narrative excitement, or if the magic will die when the curtain is pulled back. As a debut, though, "Snapshot" #1 begins a thriller that make the reader want to come back for more, even if it's just to get an explanation for a last-page cliffhanger that will puzzle as much as it shocks.

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7.0
Snapshot #3

Apr 8, 2013

"Snapshot" #3 delivers on plenty of action and answers. It lacks for deeper meaning and narrative resonance beyond the wild ride, and action itself isn't the most original after the mystery is unraveled. However, Diggle's narrative pacing and Jock's stellar artwork bump the miniseries into something still worth checking out.

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6.0
Snowfall #1

Feb 22, 2016

Despite this, Harris' structure and plotting for "Snowfall" is strong, and the solid pacing may be even smoother in future issues when the exposition is out of the way.

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4.0
Southern Cross #2

Apr 13, 2015

"Southern Cross" had a great concept, but it's not delivering yet. Cloonan and Belanger need to work more on the foundation of the story so that they can build on it.

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7.0
Spider-Gwen #2

Mar 16, 2015

Latour is taking a risk. It's a delicate balance right now as Spider-Gwen is getting on her feet in her own title, and the addition of three established, heavyweight characters -- two of which have routinely had their own solo comics -- means that Gwen could be upstaged. If she can hold her own in the next few issues, so much the better. There's much to be excited about in "Spider-Gwen," as long as Gwen's characterization gets steadier over the rest of the first story arc.

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7.0
Spider-Man 2099 (2014) #1

Jul 10, 2014

The resolution of Miguel's fight with the T.O.T.E.M. agent is also a highlight since it's similarly tidy and funny. Both the character and the plot hold up with compared to the original "Spider-Man 2099" #1 from 1992. It's a solid debut, and will appeal both to existing fans of the character and new readers.

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6.0
Star-Lord And Kitty Pryde #1

Jul 27, 2015

"Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde" #1 is a charming beginning with strong humor, but future issues will need much more in the way of Kitty's characterization for the central romance to (re)ignite.

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8.0
Starve #2

Jul 13, 2015

"Starve" #2 has good ingredients that are overseasoned with didacticism, but if Zezelj and Stewart's art is to the reader's taste, they'll still be hungry for more.

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8.0
Stringers #1

Aug 28, 2015

The action drags halfway through, but -- just when the reader is wondering if anything else is going to occur besides fending off rival stringer Tom "Sleaze" Speeziali -- Nick decides to get out of the car. The plot tension spikes, and Greenwood's panel compositions for this shift in pacing are superb all the way to the ending sequence that introduces a mystery and higher stakes. "Stringers" #1 is a solid debut, and I look forward to seeing if it keeps its mix of humor and high speed in later issues.

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6.0
Superior Spider-Man #4

Feb 25, 2013

In addition to this clunky predictability, "Superior Spider-Man" #4 may be verging on introducing too many elements into an already crowded plot. However, it's still a worthwhile read, because the core of the story -- Doc Ock's quest to prove his Spider-Man is superior -- is still both lightly amusing and chilling at once.

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5.0
Superior Spider-Man #9

May 6, 2013

Earlier issues of "Superior Spider-Man" were worthwhile in their exploration of Ock's moral journey as he tried to define his version of being a hero. Unfortunately, too much of "Superior Spider-Man" #9 feels like a derivative exercise in stretching out suspense. Now that Slott has finalized this chapter of Doc Ock and Peter Parker's battle, perhaps future issues will show a return to stronger characterization and a lighter tone.

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8.0
Supreme: Blue Rose #1

Jul 28, 2014

The exposition in " Supreme: Blue Rose" #1 is gracefully executed with inventive twists, but the action doesn't go quite far enough into Diana's assignment. However, despite the traditional plot structure and looseness of the hook, Lotay's art and Ellis' prose and comic twists are more than are enough reason to pick up " Supreme: Blue Rose" #1 and to be excited for what's coming in issues to come.

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7.0
Supreme: Blue Rose #3

Sep 22, 2014

"Supreme Blue Rose" #3 continues the trend from issue #2. It's worth picking up for Lotay's art, but the reader doesn't get any solid answers about what's happening from Ellis. There's still plenty of time for explanations and concrete developments in the opening arc, though, and the originality of the storytelling approach may keep readers hooked until the plot gels.

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7.0
Supreme: Blue Rose #6

Jan 19, 2015

The finale next issue may finally tie some things together, but it probably won't altogether clear up the hazy fog of questions. Ellis' story is too insubstantial in the concrete sense and much too abstruse in its cosmology and the mechanics of its reality, yet it continues to have plenty of urgency and forward motion. Despite its obvious frustrations, "Supreme Blue Rose" is an engrossing read with its own rewards. It has a unique atmosphere and is able to fold both espionage and superpowers into what can only be described as mysticism. If one is able to dispense with conventional expectations, the payoff might be satisfying enough. Even if one gives up on Ellis' reworking of the Supremeverse, Lotay's art is worth the price of admission.

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6.0
Supurbia Vol. 2 #5

Mar 18, 2013

The ending cliffhanger promises a new wave in the plot, and overall, "Supurbia" is still a good read, enjoyable like a good TV show while still occasionally showing that deeper layer of social or psychological insight underneath the gloss.

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8.0
Sword of Sorcery #1

Oct 19, 2012

My biggest complaint about "Sword of Sorcery" #1 is that these two strong storylines in "Sword of Sorcery" #1 could easily have taken up a full-size issue by themselves. However, it's a tribute to Marx, Lopresti, Bedard and Saiz that they work so well with the size of the stage they have.

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8.0
Sword of Sorcery #2

Nov 26, 2012

I continue to be impressed with how efficiently Marx, Bedard, Lopresti and Saiz advance plot and characterization within their allotted pages in "Sword of Sorcery" #2, each team succeeding in building a complex world gracefully and fleshing out complex settings and characters through action and dialogue.

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6.0
Sword of Sorcery #3

Dec 24, 2012

Although still dramatically different in appearance and tone, both "Amethyst" and "Beowulf" are derived from previously established narratives, and each story also focuses on family bonds and teenagers finding their place in a world of magic and power. The two storylines continue to have unintentional but nevertheless illuminating similarities and contrasts. In "Sword of Sorcery" #3, "Amethyst" slows and stalls before a DCU crossover, but the world of "Beowulf" feels enlarged by its suddenly revealed DCU connections.

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6.0
Sword of Sorcery #5

Feb 25, 2013

"Vyrian's Tomb" lacks the emotional resonance of previous installments of "Amethyst," and its usual strengths of voice and world-building are diminished by poorly paced action. "Soul to Soul" has excellent pacing and thus becomes the stronger story fragment in "Sword of Sorcery" #5, showing neatly that plot execution can be more crucial than ideas.

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7.0
Sword of Sorcery #7

Apr 22, 2013

Next month's "Sword of Sorcery" #8 will be a 30-page issue devoted solely to the "Amethyst" storyline, allowing Marx enough space to tie up Eclipso's invasion and any other loose ends. I look forward to the finale, while feeling that it's a shame that the sales on "Sword of Sorcery" weren't strong enough to keep the bright, fun world of "Amethyst" on the shelves longer.

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5.0
Sword of Sorcery #8

May 17, 2013

"Sword of Sorcery" #8 gets the job done of concluding out the Eclipso storyline and allowing the reader to say goodbye to Gemworld and the characters (for now). There are glimpses of everything that made "Amethyst" fun and different, most of those aspects aren't at their best. Ultimately, it's a bittersweet but still worthwhile read for those who have steadily followed the story, like one last visit to a well-loved but run-down neighborhood before it's torn down.

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5.0
Tales from the Darkside #1

Jun 20, 2016

"Tales From the Darkside" #1 has its high points, namely Hill's ability to develop a character's voice quickly and Rodriguez's smooth transitions and pacing, but "Sleepwalker" prioritizes symbolism and concept too much over plotting and characterization.

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5.0
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations (One Shot) #1

Apr 4, 2016

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations" #1 has a good premise and strong opening scenes, but the weak plotting and lack of deeper characterization keeps it from being a stronger one-shot or memorable "What If?" tale.

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8.0
The Boys #71

Oct 8, 2012

"The Boys" #71 is Billy Butcher's last stand and last con, his last clash and heart-to-heart with Hughie, one final all-out reckoning courtesy of Ennis and Braun, and it's a good one.

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7.0
The Bunker #1

Feb 14, 2014

"The Bunker" #1 is strong on suspense and plotting and weaker on characterization, but overall this is a gripping beginning and the unexpected twists will keep readers hooked.

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5.0
The Cavalry: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1

Oct 5, 2015

"The Cavalry: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary" #1 succeeds at getting the essence of Melinda May across to new readers, but it doesn't make her interesting enough to pull comics readers towards the TV show if they're not watching it already. It also doesn't add anything new to the character for readers who have watched the show.

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4.0
The Crow: Death and Rebirth #1

Jul 16, 2012

The re-setting "The Crow" in Japan is a good twist, but must every story set in Japan feature traditional martial arts? Sure, The Crow using katanas will be awesome, but it's also fan service. Shirley's weaving of Shinto motifs with O'Barr's established iconography is more subtle use of his setting. In Japanese mythology, the Yatagarusu, or eight-span Jungle crow, is a sign of the will of Heaven in human affairs. In Shirley's story, the crow is a watchdog and witness as well as a catalyst of resurrection and vengeance. Themes of death and rebirth are also less clear-cut in Shirley's story than in O'Barr's "The Crow." Further issues may show if Shirley will add more substance to this incarnation of the titular anti-hero, but this first issue doesn't deliver much more than homage mixed with existing tropes.

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7.0
The Dream Merchant #2

Jun 17, 2013

However, the original art style and pleasant prose style of "The Dream Merchant" #2 doesn't entirely excuse its uneven pacing and derivative characterization and plot so far. Perhaps in future issues, these aspects of the writing will catch up to the art.

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8.0
The Dying and the Dead #2

Apr 3, 2015

The plot doesn't stray far from the well-worn path of Wild West gunslingers with hearts of gold and nerves of steel, so the narrative tension rests on Hickman's dialogue and Bodenheim's facial expressions, but those are more than sufficient. The characters have enough presence and the conservations have enough snap that "The Dying and the Dead" is well worth reading despite the lack of surprises in its shape and direction.

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8.0
The Dying and the Dead #3

Sep 4, 2015

"The Dying and the Dead" #3 is part horror story, part Greek tragedy and part "Lord of the Rings," with the Bah al'Sharur playing the part of the One Ring. The plotting has a great combination of old tropes and new twists, wild daring and earnest outlook. That's good enough reason to have patience until the publication schedule is more regular in 2016.

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8.0
The Eltingville Club #1

Apr 25, 2014

"The Eltingville Club" #1 is comedy, a genre in which narration can take a back seat to plot, so it's an extra pleasure that Dorkin's storytelling is strong on pacing and suspense. The timeline is simple and linear, but the first half of the comic deepens the characterization for Bill and Joe, before re-introducing Pete, Jerry and Josh into the story. The escalation is taut with tension. Readers can feel that a confrontation is in the works, and during the throwdown, Dorkin doesn't disappoint. If anything, it's surprising how far he goes. The ending quickly brings readers back down to earth after the adrenaline rush for a sobering and even depressing conclusion, but one that will leave readers wondering when, how -- even whether -- the four will meet again.

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8.0
The Fiction #1

Jun 19, 2015

"The Fiction" #1 is an exceptionally strong debut. Four characters have some definition by the end of "The Fiction" #1, both as adults and as children. Groundwork has been laid for several mysteries, including the question of how the older generation fits into the plot. The atmosphere of the first flashback scene was thick with hints of discord and evil. The power of storytelling and the long shadow of guilt are ambitious, powerful themes, but Pires, Rubn and Garland supply enough creative juice to do them justice so far.

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5.0
The Field #1

Apr 4, 2014

"The Field" #1 relies too much on shock and the withholding of information to create suspense. Despite the lack of substance, Brisson and Roy provide enough flavor to give the reader an idea of whether the tone of the book is for them. Future issues may round out the plot, but the first issue is too lightweight to sink in any more hooks.

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2.0
The Green Team #2

Jul 1, 2013

It's not clear why DC wanted to revive this team for the New 52 Universe, and the creative team fails to make the team's mission necessary or coherent. Unfortunately, "The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires"#2 continues a weak start to this new series.

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6.0
The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum #1

Sep 23, 2015

The best parts of the plot are when Guggenheim surprises the reader by subverting expectations. I didn't expect the pocket universe to reference a well-known 1953 lithograph, and the surprise of recognition was delightful. Jonas' progressively ridiculous accomplishments, the dorky way he named his formula "DeathCure" and the offbeat charm of the pawnshop scene are all big plusses. The humor and compact, self-contained structure of "The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum" #1 are enjoyable but, to hook readers for the long haul, either the plotting or the characterization will need to step it up.

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7.0
The Kitchen #1

Nov 14, 2014

The twist at the ending is perfunctory and expected. The story's only real twist is that the women are filling their husband's shoes like Rosie the Riveter, but in another kind of war. It's weirdly feminist in that Kath may be capable of being a loan shark, but that doesn't change the right and wrong of her actions. Masters and Doyle have succeeded in creating a vivid setting and strong pacing in "The Kitchen" #1, but only further issues will reveal if the characters and the plot will develop more substance.

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6.0
The Last Contract #1

Jan 11, 2016

"The Last Contract" #1 is fast-paced and enjoyable, but the story hews too closely to convention to make the story stand out among others of its type.

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6.0
The Last of Us: American Dreams #1

Apr 5, 2013

In "The Last of Us: American Dreams" #1, Druckmann and Hicks' dialogue is engaging, their characters are likable and the storytelling flows enjoyably and smoothly. The details add up to a good experience, but thus far, the story isn't memorable or exceptional. That may change in future issues, as the plot comes closer to converging with the unknown, future events of the videogame.

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5.0
The Last of Us: American Dreams #2

Jun 4, 2013

As a video tie-in comic, "The Last of Us: American Dreams" #2 does the job of filling in more of Ellie's backstory for gamers who want more immersion in the world. However, with its decompressed pacing and lack of deeper characterization, it doesn't stand on its own.

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7.0
The Mighty Thor (2015) #4

Feb 22, 2016

The last page is prelude to an epic throw down. Thor's last line of dialogue is surprisingly irreverent and even juvenile, but it also preserves the feeling of Thor as a character of stalwart, clear-cut morality and muscle. By giving this Thor a line that could have been uttered by her predecessor, Aaron makes the point that they're not so different in character, spirit and approach, belying Odin's insistence that Jane Foster is a "False Thor."

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6.0
The Mysterious Strangers #2

Jul 22, 2013

However, it's debatable whether these flaws are truly flaws, since they are a deliberate reproduction or mimicry. Roberson seems to be aiming for a camp aesthetic, poking a little fun, but mostly just enjoying both the ridiculousness and the high spirits of an era of adventure, science fiction and espionage stories, including the "James Bond" and "Indiana Jones". The reader's mileage with "The Mysterious Strangers" #2 will vary widely, depending on how much charm this kind of pop nostalgia appeals to individual tastes.

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7.0
The Names #2

Oct 3, 2014

In "The Names" #2, Katya searches in a world of light to find the dark truth, a neat and deliberate reversal of the usual metaphor. It's not often that there's a comic on the stands in which the art team is so aware of and so skilled with the use of light, and it's a rare pleasure to read it.

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4.0
The New Ghostbusters #1

Feb 18, 2013

Overall, "Ghostbusters" #1 won't necessarily disappoint long-time readers of the series, but it's a drawn-out, flabby beginning to their newest adventure, even if the characters are their quirky and likable selves.

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8.0
The Sandman Overture #2

Mar 28, 2014

It's still a mystery why this series is titled "Sandman Overture," since the story isn't musically themed, and the plot seems to be shaped like a pocket off-shoot rather than an introduction to anything. The plot catalyzes on the revival of one of Gaiman's major recurring themes of order vs. chaos, and has already re-launched one of the greatest themes of "Sandman": the tension between free will and fate, and the thin lines between mercy and cowardice, bravery and cruelty.

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7.0
The Sandman Overture #4

Dec 19, 2014

Despite this, Gaiman's prose and storytelling skill still have a familiar magic to them. At the end of "Sandman Overture," a character is imprisoned within "the event horizon of a dark star." This fanciful plot twist highlights the poetry of the science of astronomy. Williams' art isn't the easiest to follow, but it's undeniably exciting as he tries to balance abstraction and action as he works from a very challenging script. Also, it's commendable that Gaiman isn't playing it safe. Instead of leaving the underpinnings undisturbed as he did for "Endless Nights", he risks probing at and upending the reader's assumptions. "Sandman Overture" #4 is a thought-provoking read for longtime fans of the original series.

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8.0
The Sculptor #1

Feb 16, 2015

In snippets of memories, McCloud shows David's life from childhood up the present in only three pages, an amazing feat of compression. David's loss of his whole family, one by one, is wrenching to experience due to McCloud's skill with faces. The scenes of David's frustrations with money and the fame-driven art world as well as his alienation in the city are similarly affecting, with David wandering in a cacophony of dialogue balloons. McCloud's skills with facial expressions and timing also shine in moments of humor and delight, like the busts of Meg lined up across a bookshelf or in David's reunion with Ollie. These moments add up to a life more than any grand twists of fate. "The Sculptor" says nothing definite about love, ambition or sacrifice, but it is a story of exceptional depth and feeling because of its success in the way it navigates the tension between taking control and letting go, suffering and joy.

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8.0
The Shade #10

Jul 16, 2012

It's a party that will leave the reader feeling satisfied, with a visually stunning finale. Reading "The Shade" #10 is a most refreshing and delightful time. It's a shame that the series is coming to an end after two more issues, and our time with our urbane, world-weary host will soon be past.

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8.0
The Shade #11

Aug 20, 2012

"The Shade" #11 has some uneven storytelling, but the good parts are too good to pass up, and the ending leads smoothly into what will be another "Times Past" installment and final issue.

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4.0
The Shadow Glass #1

Mar 28, 2016

Fell's artistic skills are obvious in the backgrounds and delicate color work, but his facial expressions and body language -- which are more important in sequential storytelling -- don't adequately support the story, which is weak on plotting and characterization.

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4.0
The Shadow Special #1

Jan 1, 2013

In "The Shadow Special" #1, Beatty and Cliquet get the pulpy, retro noir tone right -- not a trivial achievement -- but nailing the look and sound doesn't mean that there's substance beneath the style.

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9.0
The Sheriff Of Babylon #6

May 9, 2016

If "Sheriff of Babylon" #6 fails in any sense, it's that the story isn't structured or packaged to catch a broad audience. That's not an aesthetic failing, but rather more of a tactical one. Chris Henry's accessibility as an American Everyman is an attempt to mitigate the distance, but alienation is still an emotional leitmotif of "The Sheriff of Babylon." Reading this series feels like a first step on a bridge, because its truths are universal.

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9.0
The Sheriff Of Babylon #7

Jun 13, 2016

King and Gerads examine suffering and the nature of cruelty directly. Indirectly, they also look at the lack of relief from suffering. Both Nassir and Sofia seem isolated like saints in their ordeal, but they also come across as ordinary people, and thus their strength feels like something anybody could aspire to. Without telling the reader what to think, "The Sheriff of Babylon" #7 asks hard questions about what kinds of suffering are preventable and how to prevent them.

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6.0
The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys #2

Jul 15, 2013

So far, "The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys" feels like a film preview or music video. There are lots of interconnected themes, and Battery City itself is a cocktail of bright images and stylish people, but plotting, dialogue and characterization are neglected in favor of creating mood and atmosphere. It's still a compelling package of ideas and images, but Way, Simon and Cloonan may be relying too heavily on concept and style to carry the weight of narrative.

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8.0
The Twilight Children #2

Nov 16, 2015

Since so much of the storytelling occurs through Hernandez's dialogue and through Cooke's well-composed panels, the most apt comparisons come from theater. The material of "The Twilight Children" is the same as that of Modernist playwrights like Eugene O'Neill or Edward Albee's preoccupations -- betrayals, trauma, childhood, loss -- but, unlike those playwrights, Hernandez seldom allows these sources of anguish to soar into showy, cathartic truth-telling soliloquies. His style and treatment of his subjects is more like Thornton Wilder's approach: seemingly simpler and cooler, less raw, more meandering and earnest, with more optimistic conclusions and tidy mysticism.

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8.0
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Feb 9, 2015

The action lags a little for an overlong joke about Squirrel Girl breaking into Avengers Tower, but North grabs the reader's attention again with Squirrel Girl's successful theft of some Iron Man armor. The final result is great and gets readers more invested in seeing Squirrel Girl use the armor right before the cliffhanger ending. Much of "Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" is transitional action to maneuver Squirrel Girl out of college and into space, but North and Henderson make both her superhero life and her regular college life worth following.

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8.0
The Undertaking of Lily Chen #1

Mar 31, 2014

The ending silent sequence is satisfying, especially with the splashes of an orange and yellow sunset firing up the death-like gray ground. The ending sequence is a short and complex melody, with undertones of anger, loss and sadness but with a final impression of relief and hard-won triumph and freedom.

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8.0
The Unwritten #38

Jun 25, 2012

The teamwork on "The Unwritten" #38 is great, with all the creative talent supporting each other. While the issue in the context of the whole series may not be a stunner, upon further examination it is a solid piece of work and will keep readers invested in the current story arc.

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8.0
The Unwritten #39

Jul 23, 2012

With only one more issue in "The Wound," story arc, I'm wondering how Carey will tie it all up. He's revealed far less of the mystery of the cult than I would have expected at three-quarters of the way in. The nature of Didge's disability is still a mystery, for one thing. Even so, Carey has proven himself to be able to write dense, layered issues, so I have faith that he and Gross will continue to deliver their usual standard of unusually strong storytelling in next issue.

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8.0
The Unwritten #40

Aug 27, 2012

It's a neat move by Carey to make dyslexia the special something that protects Didge from being dissolved by the hand that Filby wielded. There are examples in real life, such as allergies and sickle-cell anemia, where a handicapping condition also confers some limited fitness benefit. It's great that Carey is thinking so broadly about language and the things that define a person. Ultimately, "The Unwritten" #40 is a satisfying conclusion to a quiet story arc, distinguishing itself by its narrative layers and sharp characterization.

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2.0
The Vampire Diaries #1

Jan 13, 2014

"Vampire Diaries" #1 isn't a promising start to a spin-off anthology, since it neither significantly enriches the backstory for fans of the show nor tells a story that is memorable for its own merits.

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9.0
The Wake #4

Sep 27, 2013

The cliffhanger ending to "The Wake" #4 seems to come out of left field, but it's a fitting twist, reminding readers about one of the oldest rules of the ocean: there are always bigger fish. There are monsters that feed on monsters, and humans themselves are sometimes such creatures. "The Wake" is excellent, layered fiction, with unpredictable angles and a satisfying depth within the folds of its enjoyable thrills and chills.

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8.0
The Wake #9

Jun 9, 2014

The final page of "The Wake" #9 has a face-to-face that feels simultaneously inevitable and surprising. The second half of "The Wake" hasn't been as strong as the first half, but it maintains mysterious and wondrous tone and atmosphere that Snyder and Murphy have established. It's a bit too much story for five issues can handle, but the final leg of Leeward's quest still expresses Snyder's themes of the breadth and long reach of history, and of humankind renegotiating and again finding its place on earth.

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8.0
The Witching Hour (2013) #1

Oct 4, 2013

"The Witching Hour" is one of the strongest of Vertigo's themed anthologies so far, with fantastic art and admirable variety and daring in the interpretation of the theme.

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9.0
Thief of Thieves #7

Aug 3, 2012

Writer James Asmus has big shoes to fill in the next story arc, but I look forward to seeing what he will do, especially since Kirkman and Martinbrough will remain. If "Thief of Thieves" continues to produce this kind of bravura suspense storytelling, it'll be a solid contender for the best new ongoing title of 2012.

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7.0
Thief of Thieves #8

Sep 10, 2012

Martinbrough and Serrano provide visual continuity, but "Thief of Thieves" #8 is still a great example of the usual advantages and pitfalls of work for hire, where changes in the creative team allow for a different take but always require the audience to adjust to the shift. Kirkman still oversees the story, but judging from the differences between #7 and #8, his contribution to the creative pie is the smallest, and the pace and feel of "Thief of Thieves" will change as new writers take it on.

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7.0
Think Tank #2

Sep 10, 2012

It's likely that the next "Think Tank" issue will reveal more about David's "Godfather" plan and whether he is genius enough to save the girl and his friend while gaining his freedom. "Think Tank" has been a hit and the series has been given the green light to expand to at least ten issues. With this larger canvas, it would be ideal if Hawkins and Ekedal could tone down the information dumps, while keeping the characterization, humor and suspense strong.

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6.0
Thought Bubble Anthology #3

Nov 4, 2013

"Thought Bubble" #3 is a fine read for a good cause, but is a typical anthology in how is an uneven collection of bits and pieces, with a few small gems scattered within.

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8.0
Thumbprint #1

Jun 14, 2013

"Thumbprint" #1 is a great beginning. Too little of the story has been told to see if it does justice to its ambitious themes and dark subject matter, but the debut issue is a winner in how it wraps the reader in with its exposition, atmosphere and restrained tension.

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8.0
Thumbprint #2

Jul 29, 2013

"Thumbprint" #2 builds on the foundation of "Thumbprint" #1 instead of adding much action or characterization. It focuses almost exclusively on maintaining atmosphere and suspense. This serves the intended length of a short-story miniseries and it succeeds in producing a closed-world, claustrophobic feeling. It will leave readers impatient for the next and last issue, when Mallory will probably uncover the identity of her tormentor and give readers the conclusion to her confession.

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6.0
Thumbprint #3

Sep 3, 2013

While it's daring and praiseworthy for Ciaramelia and Hill to rework the "Thumbprint" story so extensively for the comics adaptation, the change in the ending makes "Thumbprint" #3 the weakest issue of the mini-series. However, "Thumbprint" as a whole is still worth reading as an example of the art of prose-to-comics adaption.

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6.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #3

Jan 14, 2013

However, despite the strong pacing and Way's tackling the challenge of a team of tight-lipped killers, "Thunderbolts" is still missing something. Aside from Deadpool, the team members barely interact with each other or the oppressed people whose revolution they have co-opted. Despite Way and Dillon's respective skills, "Thunderbolts" has a weird aftertaste because no one in this comic is happy except the perennially cheerful Deadpool. This mood contributes to a Marvel NOW! title that has some chops but is off in tone, showcasing brutality without passion, efficiency without soul.

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6.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #12

Jul 8, 2013

Soule is still settling into "Thunderbolts," and his approach to damaged, powerful characters shows potential in its psychology and his grasp of pacing and suspense. Only future issues will show if Soule can provide a unifying mission and dynamic for the team.

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8.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #13

Jul 22, 2013

"Thunderbolts" #13 is a subtler, stronger character study than Soule's Punisher story of the previous issue, making better use of his strengths in characterization, psychological tension and thematic depth. "Thunderbolts" will be an exciting title to follow if Soule continues on these lines as he develops his vision of a team of complex monsters with conflicting codes of ethics.

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6.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #14

Aug 26, 2013

The team-specific dynamics, like Venom's possible Odd Man Out status, feel like the real meat of "Thunderbolts" #14, and while the "Infinity" crossover may eventually add more interest to a typical mob bust, here's hoping that it doesn't slow down the 'Bolts getting to know each other.

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8.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #15

Sep 23, 2013

As a writer, Soule has a broad grasp of tone and atmosphere. He can do grim and serious, as his spotlights Mercy and Punisher demonstrated, but given the cast, it's even more remarkable that Soule and Palo's "Thunderbolts" #15 is a fun, lighthearted read.

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6.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #20.NOW

Jan 17, 2014

The artwork doesn't evenly match the Soule's handling of the script, but overall, "Thunderbolts #20.NOW" is a solid introduction to the series and to Soule's deceptively casual and fun vision for the team, and the plot promises to go to even more exciting places next month.

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6.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #21

Feb 3, 2014

"Thunderbolts" #21 is a transition issue with all the characters in play, and thus it doesn't feel as tightly plotted as some of Soule's more powerful issues, but it's not filler. Soule uses the space to link up hanging plot threads and to make room for Ghost Rider. The art is weaker than the writing, but due to Soule's dialogue and humor, "Thunderbolts" #21 is a solid read.

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6.0
Thunderbolts (2012) #24

Apr 14, 2014

"Thunderbolts" #24 gets some zing from Soule's facility with creating atmosphere and suspense, but it's a shame that this storyline is light on his other strengths of humor and characterization. Still, the central hook of the story about Deviant script is a strong one, and hopefully the story will expand in tone and surprises now that the exposition is out of the way.

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8.0
Trees #2

Jun 27, 2014

"Trees" isn't a simple invasion or horror story in that Ellis is laying ground for commentary about psychology and sociology. The Other is a classic theme of horror and science fiction, and Ellis and Howard already have a distinctive take on it. It remains to be seen whether the story can live up to its ambition, but "Trees" #2 is excellent if slow-paced groundwork.

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8.0
Trees #5

Sep 19, 2014

In "Trees" #5, Ellis and Howard's seeds of world-building and slow intrigue are flowering and bearing fruit. Their risk-taking and ambition continue to flesh out a story that defies expectations and predictability, in a way that will reward readers who can stay committed for what will hopefully be a long haul.

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7.0
Trees #7

Dec 1, 2014

Ellis' script and Howard's artwork are uneven in "Trees" #7. The prose and Howard's still images are still very strong, but the pacing has weakened. As the story has tried to ascend to new levels, the ride has been a little bumpier. That said, "Trees" #7 is still imaginative and ambitious, and the series is still a great read for its global scale and its ironic but serious take on alien invasion.

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7.0
Tuki: Save The Humans #1

Jul 28, 2014

"Tuki" #1 flows well both as a whole and page by page due to Smith's comfortable pacing. However, as a debut issue, it doesn't cover quite enough ground to strongly hook the reader on the plot. It does have other attractions, though, since Smith focuses on setting, character and comedy over action. He also seems to be consciously playing with themes of science vs. superstition in an era where the breakthroughs in adaptation and tool-making that will led to even greater divisions between early hominids. The introduction to Tki and his environment is excellent, and Smith's enthusiasm for the time period shows.

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6.0
Uncanny #1

Jun 28, 2013

Despite its predictability, Diggle and Campbell create real, enjoyable suspense in "Uncanny" #1 on the strength of their ability to keep the action tight and vivid. As a debut issue, it does the job of being a teaser and hinting at future potential, and as Weaver's past is gradually revealed, the story can only get more interesting.

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7.0
Uncanny Skullkickers #1

Mar 4, 2013

The plot and characters of "Uncanny Skullkickers" #1 serve up a nice portion of Zub and Huang's lighthearted but sharp digs at a mix of jungle survival and epic fantasy tropes, as well as indulging deeply in those same enjoyable tropes to advance the story. It's a lot of fun, and it's great to see Zub and Huang's fantasy and parody title still kicking with energy and ideas.

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6.0
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #2

Mar 4, 2013

Bendis and Bachalo's heavy focus on character in "Uncanny X-Men" #2 sacrifices some forward momentum. While it's a smooth read, it's somewhat unsatisfying. The reader can see Bendis working hard to make the choices and changes in the White Queen and Magneto believable, but the fact that this effort is very noticeable belies the situation -- that some of what's been happening doesn't feel natural. However, like their young students, the new Emma and Erik have much narrative potential, and the events themselves are interesting enough, and "Uncanny X-Men" #2 ends on an excellent cliffhanger. It's an inevitable plot point, but it arrives earlier than expected, and Bachalo's composition for the last page is old-school but effective, stirring up excitement for what is to come.

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6.0
Unfollow #1

Nov 6, 2015

The contemporary-feeling, technological details are fun and cleverly conceived, especially how the "140" app installs itself onto phones, but so far the introduction of social media and technology hasn't given "Unfollow" any more heft or insight into the world than older dog-eat-dog survival tales. "Unfollow" #1 relies too much on its concept and doesn't make the most of the inherent tension of its premise, but the story still has time to prove itself as the exposition unfolds in the next few issues.

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8.0
Veil #3

May 9, 2014

"Veil" #3 is worth picking up just for the visuals. Fejzula and Rucka create an atmosphere that feels exalted and debauched at the same time, the perfect combination for the witchcraft and greed that drive the action.

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8.0
Velvet #3

Jan 20, 2014

Brubaker and Epting advance plot, world-building and characterization smoothly and efficiently in "Velvet" #3, solidifying the title as one of the strongest new ongoing series to come out of 2013.

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9.0
Velvet #5

May 23, 2014

"Velvet" has always had strong plotting, skillful art and an addictive combination of noir darkness and wry humor, but Brubaker and Epting have taken the story to a new level. "Velvet" #5 cracks open the heroine's heart without taking her down.

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8.0
Velvet #8

Nov 10, 2014

The final scene promises lots of juicy developments once Velvet's motorbike catches up with the car of the Cornwell Institute. The Mona Lisa smile of the unnamed former agent in the straitjacket is a wonderful bit of storytelling. With one facial expression, Brubaker and Epting indicate that despite what his guards think, he's neither crazy nor catatonic, and that he knows what Velvet's pursuit means. "Velvet" #8 is suspenseful from start to finish due to great creative teamwork between Brubaker's taut prose and plotting and Epting's dynamic and expressive artwork.

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8.0
Velvet #9

Feb 9, 2015

Velvet's credibility as a tough, smart operator suffers here from Brubaker's need to keep the action moving forward. While this well-worn plot twist was probably inevitable, given that Lake isn't an open book, it comes too soon. Also, "Velvet" #9 feels more lightweight than many previous issues, since the characterization is focused on Damian more than Velvet or her pursuant agents. The flawed ending is more a blip than a dip in quality, though. "Velvet" remains a gripping, rewarding read for its narrative construction and art.

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8.0
Velvet #12

Nov 9, 2015

The title has suffered some delays between issues recently, but "Velvet" #12 is a satisfying issue, up to the usual high standards of the creative team and well worth the wait.

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5.0
Velvet #14

May 2, 2016

Players at the highest levels of government are revealed and another is brought back into the game, but -- in terms of dramatic impact -- the storytelling in "Velvet" #14 feels like it's treading water.

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8.0
Vertigo Quarterly: Black #1

Feb 2, 2015

"Vertigo: Black" #1 has the usual ratio of hits and misses, but the standout stories are worth the price of the comic. The CMYK anthology is a great addition to Vertigo's line, producing better results than their holiday-themed collections. The color themes are like fixed forms for verse. The less successful stories are boxed in by trying to color inside the lines, while the better stories transcend the limitations.

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8.0
Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow #1

Nov 3, 2014

As a unifying note, Vertigo's CMYK gimmick has been the most successful with the color yellow. This probably has something to do with how yellow has both a much longer history and a much heavier amount of cultural significance than either of its color printing siblings Cyan or Magenta. The nine stories clustered naturally, without editorial edict about the meaning of a hue. Inevitably, sunlight and lemons were recurrent visual leitmotifs, and well as the transition from summer to autumn. The writers seem to have made associations with the meaning of yellow as well, since most of the stories have dual themes of life/death, fertility/sterility and beginnings/endings. Despite this clustering, the stories defy other categorization and most succeed on their own terms. Collectively, the art is even more confident and distinctive than the writing. "Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow" #1 has a higher rates of hits than most anthologies as well as broad range and depth.

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9.0
Vision #2

Dec 7, 2015

If it continues at this level of excellence, King and Walta's "The Vision" more than deserves to be a sleeper hit.

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9.0
Vision #4

Feb 8, 2016

King's plotting never loses its slow-motion-car-wreck suspense and he admirably resists easy answers. He shows how protectiveness and bravery can lead to bad deeds, how marginalizing outsiders can create the violence it is meant to stop and how hard it is to do right when fear and anger dominate. "The Vision" is a superb tragedy, both frightening and instructive, for it reminds its readers of not only of the fragility of life, but of goodness.

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10
Vision #7

May 16, 2016

On the last page, the Vision trots out the same joke to Virginia that he presented to Wanda so many years ago, and the effect is both creepy and wrenchingly sad. The final irony is in the last caption that proclaims, "And everything is new and different." "The Vision" #7 is brilliant in its use of irony and how it depicts human affection, longing, pain and the complexity of moral error.

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4.0
Voodoo #0

Oct 1, 2012

"Voodoo" #0 passes on tying up all loose ends with a "to be continued" cliffhanger ending. The clone story in "Voodoo" relied on shock value more than good character development or dialogue, and series cancellation will upset few readers, but it will be interesting to see what becomes of the character and her clone as they become more of a presence in "Grifter."

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8.0
We Stand On Guard #2

Aug 10, 2015

The ending is no surprise, but it adds more suspense. "The Basement" grows in creepy stature with each repetition of its name. It's the "Room 101" of "We Stand on Guard." Like Orwell's "1984," "We Stand on Guard" #2 has heavy-handed but nonetheless effective and powerful storytelling.

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6.0
Welcome Back #1

Aug 24, 2015

"Welcome Back" #1 is marred by uneven storytelling but, even so, the concept and visual energy are unusually strong and -- with the much of the exposition out of the way -- future issues may offer a smoother read.

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7.0
Wild's End #1

Sep 15, 2014

"Wild's End" #1 is entirely exposition, but it's a strong beginning, falling short of being stellar only for its slow characterization work, but it succeeds at piquing the reader's curiosity about its characters' histories and motivations as well as what happens next when the aliens make more contact.

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5.0
Will Eisner's The Spirit #1

Jul 6, 2015

"Will Eisner's The Spirit" #1 is friendly to new readers, but Wagner and Schkade haven't given the Spirit and his supporting cast enough of a fresh spin yet.

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4.0
Wolverine (2003) Annual #1

Aug 27, 2012

It's nice to see Clan Destine again, but in the end, "Wolverine Annual" #1 is totally forgettable. Wolverine gets used a shield and guinea pig (not exactly new roles for him), and Clan Destine gets put back on the shelf in roughly the same shape, if somewhat unsettled or upset by their battle. When Doctor Strange says, "None of us are who we were yesterday," his words are sincere yet strike an ironic note, because this large cast of characters is static. While the stakes were seemingly high and the players were many, everyone walks away and no one truly evolves. For a long 38-page story and $4.99 cover price, "Wolverine Annual" #1 should have done more.

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6.0
Womanthology - Space #1

Sep 20, 2012

"Womanthology: Space" #1 showcases a broad variety of art styles and approaches to the theme of Space, but like most anthologies, the offerings are uneven.

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7.0
Wytches #2

Nov 17, 2014

"Wytches" is about the dangers of not knowing the past and the truism that "wherever you go, there you are." In other words, there's no running away. Sailor has realized this quickly, and again, Snyder plays with convention in not stretching this out, letting the creatures show themselves and having Sailor confront them very early in the game. This saps these old twists of some juice, but it's also an indication of Snyder's ambition that he's rearranging a classic plot trajectory into something new and unpredictable.

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5.0
X-Factor #238

Jun 25, 2012

"X-Factor" is coasting on the chemistry between its well-established characters and Peter David's writing style. Perhaps the new threats of Morrigan and Jezebel will drive up the suspense level in future issues of this story arc; otherwise, it will continue to suffer from predictability.

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6.0
X-Men (2013) #4

Aug 23, 2013

The best moments of "X-Men" #4 are smaller, like when Kitty and Rogue rib Psylocke about her love life, or Shogo's silly baby facial expressions on the beach or in a restaurant. In upcoming issues of "X-Men," Wood will probably return to a story more like tightly-wound action of the first story arc, but it would be good to see more of this kind of grace and humor as part of his characterization strategy.

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6.0
X-Men (2013) #23

Jan 12, 2015

So far, Wilson's "X-Men" is promising but it doesn't hit the mark. Wilson has successfully made the story more personal by tuning in on Storm's grief and her longtime phobia, and Boschi's strengths are notable enough that I hope he evens out in the future issues so that his strengths can shine more.

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4.0
X-Men Legacy #269

Jul 2, 2012

All signs in "X-Men Legacy" #269 indicate that the Phoenix Force will again be too dangerous for the X-Men to contain. I'd like to believe that Gage has some plot twists and subversion of expectations up his sleeves. Like Rogue, I have my doubts but I must hope for the best.

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7.0
X-Men Legacy (2012) #300

Mar 14, 2014

Parts of "X-Men Legacy" #300 are undeniably sentimental, clichd and predictable in plot. Other passages have a light touch, however, and the writing team is skilled enough that "ForgetMeNot" delivers on emotional impact. It's a fable with a moral, and it's difficult to pull off pathos in this kind of story, but "X-Men Legacy" #300 manages it in the moments when it illuminates the gratitude and humility of the main character. It's worth the reader's time, and the pleasing irony is that it's strong enough to be memorable.

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7.0
X-O Manowar #6

Oct 22, 2012

Vine plant Alexander Dorian becomes more of a major player in "X-O Manowar" #6, although his choices and motivations aren't completely explicable yet. My hope is that with ambiguous, engaging characters like Alexander Dorian, Ninjak and Aric himself, Venditti will continue to make the good vs. evil question in this book less simplistic, or dodge it entirely, while continuing to deliver a strong espionage action book with fantasy and science fiction elements.

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8.0
Young Avengers (2013) #3

Mar 31, 2013

Gillen's dialogue is also addictively sharp and feel-good, and like a catchy pop tune, "Young Avengers" #3 will leave fans humming to themselves and eager for more.

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8.0
Young Avengers (2013) #5

May 27, 2013

Overall, these are small quibbles. "Young Avengers" #5 solidifies the success of Gillen and McKelvie's opening story arc. Gillen and McKelvie's teamwork and abilities have combined to very quickly create a distinctive look, cast of characters and narrative approach. I look forward to seeing what they do next as they take more risks and further carry out their vision.

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9.0
Young Avengers (2013) #7

Jul 12, 2013

"Young Avengers" #7 is not a resolutely high-brow title, happily so, but every page has evidence of Gillen and McKelvie's formal experimentation, little gifts to the reader for paying attention. These showy results are the consequence of subtle craftsmanship. Most impressively, the experimentation serves the story instead of just being academically interesting. All the clever verbal and visual risks Gillen and McKelvie take enhance both characterization and the reading experience instead of being distracting or overshadowing the action. At the same time, the playful, acrobatic artistry of "Young Avengers" is an attraction in its own right, making it one of the best examples on the shelves of style as substance.

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8.0
Young Avengers (2013) #14

Dec 20, 2013

The final story drawn by Annie Wu and colored by Jordie Bellaire is focused on Kate. Wu's graceful curved lines and flair for composition pair well with Bellaire's saturated warm colors. Bellaire's pairing of teal with primrose red is a great combination, and Wu draws a particularly attractive Noh-varr, who is slouching about with headphones about his neck with a physique like a young god in a Baroque painting. Kate and Noh-varr's post-breakup chat is bittersweet but well-done. Their emotions a little overwrought, but it all works, because they are young and the whole sequence feels like a pop song. One suspects this is exactly what Gillen intended, especially since he provides an Afterparty playlist on the letters page. The full-page spread on the last moment is a pitch-perfect party moment.

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5.0
Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine's Day Special #1

Feb 11, 2013

Anthologies are always a mixed bag, and unfortunately, Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine's Day Special" #1 doesn't have any standout romances that make the entire collection worth picking up, unless the reader just wants the cards. While the art is often strong, there isn't a single story that moves the reader or is well-structured enough to hold its own, although "Dreamer" is a nice introduction. Considering the character lineup and the cover price, that's a disappointment.

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