Melissa Grey's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: IGN, Bloody Disgusting Reviews: 286
8.1Avg. Review Rating

8.6
Adventure Time #12

Jan 30, 2013

The art, by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, is a perfect fit for the AT universe. Lisa Moore provides additional coloring for the issue and the end result is a saccharine sweet Technicolor dream. The back-up story, written by Alexis Frederick-Frost and illustrated by Andrew Arnold, is a cute meditation on the power of comics. Embedded within it is a handy instructional guide to making one's own comics with household supplies and an important life lesson for readers, young and old: Comics are a powerful thing and one has to decide if they're to use their creative powers for good, a la Finn and Jake, or evil, like the Ice King. It's a no brainer, really. Don't be the Ice King. No one likes that guy.

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8.5
After Houdini #1

Jun 19, 2013

The star of the show is Ziegler's bold, dynamic art. It's a black and white book that feels every bit as complete as a fully colored one, and the stark contrasts between heavy darks and planes of light brings the world of After Houdini to vibrant, monochromatic life.All in all, it's a solid premise, even if the debut issue does suffer from a slight case of narrative overcrowding.There's a lot of comic for a single issue, and the pieces of the puzzle don't immediately fit together snugly, but we're willing to reserve judgment to see how it all plays out.

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8.8
Alex + Ada #1

Nov 7, 2013

Luna's art is a touch too simplistic, though his style works in the book's favor on occasion. When Alex's feisty grandmother (who's prone to oversharing when it comes to her amorous adventures with her own android), gifts him with Ada, an X5 of his very own, Luna delivers a six-panel page that shines in its simplicity. With a squeeze of her earlobe, Ada cracks open a single eye, changing Alex's world forever.

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8.0
Alex + Ada #2

Dec 11, 2013

Visually, Alex + Ada verges a touch too simplistic. Luna's repertoire of expressions isn't vast, and many of his characters appear to be cut from the same cloth. However, there are moments when the bare bones approach pays off. When Ada informs Alex that she's been programmed to cuddle, making her an adequate bedmate should he so desire one, his deadpan awkward silence, captured by Luna's unadorned aesthetic, speaks volumes.

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8.0
Alex + Ada #4

Feb 19, 2014

At a writing retreat, someone asked me when I knew it was time to end a scene or close a chapter. My advice? End on the "Oh, crap!" moment. And that's exactly what Vaughn and Luna have been doing, from Ada's opening eyes in the first installment to her second awakening on the final page in this month's issue. Though the visuals and narrative are extremely no-frills, the simplicity of the way the story is told works for the book in its own strange way.

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7.0
Apocalypse Al #1

Feb 5, 2014

The art in Apocalypse Al is commendable; Kotian has a great eye for detail and Bill Farmer does some wonderful work with the colors. Unfortunately, the text is sometimes more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to the book's visuals.Straczynski's penchant for lengthy internal monologues does a bit too much telling, when the narrative could have benefitted from some more showing, and some parts of Al's narration read more like straight prose than they should considering the medium. The wonderful thing about comics is that it gives creators the opportunity to blissfully wed text and visuals, but here, there seems to be a disconnect between the two.

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8.7
Batgirl (2011) #17

Feb 14, 2013

Daniel Sampere's sophisticated pencils and Vicente Cifuentes' sleek inks are brought to life by colorist Blond's richly layered palette. Bruised and battered though she may be, Barbara Gordon has rarely looked better. Though Simone will be returning to the title as its regular writer soon enough, Fawkes has done an admirable job holding down the fort in her absence.

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9.0
Batgirl (2011) #18

Mar 13, 2013

Daniel Sampere creates one of the more iconically heroic visions of Batgirl we've seen, as she soars over a city that slowly sees itself falling apart at the seams. Together, Fawkes and Sampere create a sense of tense escalation as the Gordon children find themselves approaching what is sure to be a bloody, violent crescendo.

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9.0
Batgirl (2011) #19

Apr 11, 2013

James Gordon Jr.'s particular brand of psychosis has haunted Babs over the course of several issues and in Batgirl #19, we finally get a peek at what makes this monster tick. Unfortunately, the rationale for his cruelty is almost too pedestrian given how chilling a villain he had become. Simone's detour into James' head might be the issue's weakest link, but she still manages to provide three of the strongest pages in the series thus far with a powerful conclusion that elevates the Gordon family saga to Shakespearean heights.

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8.4
Batgirl (2011) #20

May 15, 2013

The story gets a bit convoluted by the involvement of former foe Knightfall and the appearance of Ricky, the still inexplicable budding love interest, and could have benefitted from some streamlining. The Ventriloquist is a good enough villain that she really deserves room to breathe. The issue's closer assures us that the Gordon family drama is far from over and Babs might have a bigger problem on her hands than a nightmare dummy.

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9.6
Batgirl (2011) #21

Jun 12, 2013

Fernando Pasarin's pencils render the Ventriloquist in all her sickly glory, while bestowing an elegant sense of action to Batgirl's fight scenes. Some of the expressions are a tad off, but it's easy to overlook a little awkwardness with Simone's writing pulling you along. Batgirl #21 comes in at around 21 pages, but the issue feels gratifyingly longer than that. Simone and the team have produced another great installment in a series that's proven to be consistently brilliant.

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9.0
Batgirl (2011) #22

Jul 10, 2013

One of the issue's more emotionally resonant scenes focuses on Commissioner Gordon and Batman, as the two face off atop the GCPD building. Simone situates the issue in the greater framework of the Bat-universe with just a few sentences, spoken by Batman as he tries (in vain) to console a mourning Gordon: "The grief. It can break a man. Fathers aren't meant to survive their sons." The moment subtly refers to Bruce's own struggle after losing Damian, as seen in the last few issues of Batman and Robin. Gordon's grief, like Bruce's, needs a target, and he finds one in Batgirl, the vigilante he blames for his family's implosion. Witnessing her father's worsening emotional state, Barbara makes a decision that has the power to change everything.

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8.7
Batgirl (2011) #23

Aug 14, 2013

To say the plot is thickening in Batgirl #23 would be an understatement. With her father's manhunt converging on Barbara's life in more ways than one, it looks like Simone is setting Babs up for an even bigger fall than the one she's already survived.

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8.2
Batgirl (2011) #24

Oct 9, 2013

Over the course of the book we see Batgirl scraping at her reserves to muster all the resolve she can to face the demons at her door (and in her heart). Simone has devoted much of her run so far on getting inside Barbara's head, and her consistent characterization has benefited the story as a whole, even when other plot elements are a bit weaker. The words "strong female character" get thrown around a lot, so much so that they've long since lost all meaning, but Simone redefines the term with Batgirl. Her Batgirl is strong precisely because she is allowed to have vulnerabilities. It isn't the absence of weakness that makes one strong . . . it's how one deals with it.

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9.0
Batgirl (2011) #25

Nov 14, 2013

Artist Fernando Pasarin packs every page with an impressive amount of details. As the city spirals further into chaos, the tightly controlled art manages to convey a sense of destruction and despair. Jonathan Glapion's inks and Blond's colors add to the madness by emphasizing both the darkness -- real and metaphorical -- into which the Gordon family is plunged and the violently bright splashes of color that manage to peek through. The visuals are a thematically appropriate complement to Bennett's story. While it would have been obvious to go down the route of "humanity triumphing in the face of darkness," Bennett makes a daring choice to focus on the lessons learned in moments of despair.

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9.0
Batgirl (2011) #26

Dec 11, 2013

Sampere's art is at its best during the book's action sequences, and the energy and violence of Batgirl's fight is practically palpable. Stylistically, the scenes between Barbara and her father could have been played with a softer touch, but the intensity of emotion was there all the same. While the end of Wanted did wrap up a few loose ends on a personal level for our eponymous hero, there were no clear winners or losers. Simone and company are trading in moral ambiguity, and the issue's open-ended resolution leaves the door wide open for Batgirl's foes to rear their ugly heads yet again.

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8.2
Batgirl (2011) #27

Jan 16, 2014

Gill teams up with colorist Blond to create a candy-coated world that seems more Willy Wonka than gritty Gotham. The rich details and saccharine colors that enliven the city's mass hallucination work particularly well in the Joker's confectionary factory, where hallucination and horror collide in the issue's finale. After Barbara's heartbreaking reflection at the end of the book, we're interested to see where the creative team takes this story.

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7.9
Batgirl (2011) #29

Mar 12, 2014

Fernando Pasarin's pencils have all the energy we've come to expect, and the glee in which he depicts Silver's vampiric visions is palpable. Jonathan Glapion's inks and Blond's colors enrich the issue with a vibrant palette that sometimes feels a bit too saturated and tonally consistent. Overall, it's a solid issue, and while Strix and Babs have some quality moments together, particularly on the last page, but the book lacks the sense of narrative urgency that had been carrying the series through some of its more challenging arcs.

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7.5
Batman (2011) #20

May 8, 2013

The issue's strongest moment, rendered beautifully by artist Greg Capullo, is the coda. Bruce admits that he's not quite ready to let go and Alfred, ever dependable Alfred, is there to let him know he needn't bear his burdens alone. The inks and colours, provided by Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia are at their most striking during this tender moment in the Batcave and it's more than enough to make the most cynical fan get a little misty-eyed.

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9.0
Batman (2011) #21

Jun 12, 2013

This younger, more innocent (if he could ever be called such a thing) Bruce Wayne tries to balance respecting his parent's legacy with his desire to do good outside the system. It's an honest portrait of a man between worlds trying to find himself. What he's about to find instead is that old family friends aren't what they appear, and any man whose first initial plus last name phonetically spell out "enigma" is definitely up to no good.

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8.8
Batman (2011) #22

Jul 10, 2013

Meanwhile, FCO Plascencia's colors add another dimension to the story -- Gotham is more vibrant than we've ever seen it, but lurking beneath all that brightness is a darkness that Bruce Wayne is only beginning to discover.

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9.2
Batman (2011) #23

Aug 14, 2013

Overall, Zero Year is shaping up to be an origin story as rich and as epic as a character like Batman deserves. Snyder's juggling act with Bruce's tried and true origin, a (pre-Riddler) Edward Nygma's involvement with his family's company, and the Red Hood gang's chaotic misdeeds make this an arc not to be missed.

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9.0
Batman (2011) #23.1

Sep 4, 2013

It would be easy to have the tale of an extremely abusive childhood position the Joker as a sympathetic figure, but the creative team paints a portrait that is anything but. On the one hand, we cringe as we witness the childhood terrors that played a pivotal role in warping the character's mind, but the knowledge of his trauma does nothing to mitigate the horror we feel at his present-day actions. It's a tricky tightrope to walk, but Kubert and Clarke pull it off admirably.

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9.4
Batman (2011) #23.2

Sep 11, 2013

While several of the Villains Month titles use the one-off issues as a space to expand on their series' ongoing stories, Batman #23.2 does double duty as a standalone and a part of a larger plot. The issue situates itself nicely in relation to Snyder and Greg Capullo's Zero Year while also providing a satisfying single issue experience on its own.

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6.0
Batman (2011) #23.4

Sep 25, 2013

As Bane prepares to invade Gotham in the hopes of capturing the troubled city for himself (sound familiar?), it's easy to feel a bit cheated when you reach the final page. Considering the issue's lackluster story, the continuation of it in Arkham War #1 feels more like a threat than a promise.

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9.4
Batman (2011) #24

Oct 9, 2013

Thus far, while the Red Hood Gang has proven to be convenient in terms of establishing a thematic foil a budding Batman, they haven't quite lived up the level of iconic villain we might expect from this title. Their plot line, at least, is wrapped up (not as neatly as I'd like) in favor of a new adversary, who, in the last few pages of the book ushers in the next chapter of Zero Year -- Dark City -- with a very real bang. I don't know where this Zero Year journey is taking us, but I'm thrilled to be along for the ride.

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9.7
Batman (2011) #25

Nov 14, 2013

Metaphorically, the vibrant hues of Gotham's landscape works on a number of levels; the visual feast may be attributed to the book's focus on a younger, lighter Bruce Wayne, but it also breaks with an aesthetic tradition that's been firmly rooted in the Bat mythos for years. Essentially, the creative team is defying the notion that a Batman story needs to be dark in all regards to read as authentic.Situating the story in a time frame before tragedy fundamentally altered Bruce's perception of the world helps keep things light, but Snyder and Capullo have shown that they aren't afraid to get dark even within that context. As we saw with his take on the Joker a few months back, Capullo once again delights in his flair for the grotesque on the issue's final page, as Batman's latest foe is revealed all his monstrous glory. In the grander scheme of Zero Year, Batman #25 is both a love letter to the past and a promise of something fresh and unique.

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9.1
Batman (2011) #26

Dec 11, 2013

The rich visual exploration of Batman's troubled early days is captivating enough to make even the most cynical reader come back for more.

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9.1
Batman (2011) #27

Jan 22, 2014

Thus far, Dark City is a cleverly designed narrative that hides its true purpose behind a smokescreen of blackout-inducing, bone-crushing villainy. What Snyder and Capullo are doing isn't telling a story about good against evil, or about the villain of the week (or months, in this case); they're laying bare the psyche of one of the most intriguing and enduring characters in contemporary American folklore. It's a lofty goal, but so far, we're pretty pleased with the results.

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8.0
Batman (2011) #28

Feb 13, 2014

When all is said and done, Harper Row is a welcome addition to Batman's team, and the surprise antagonist provides for an interesting plot twist. The return of a beloved character on the book's final page will hopefully prove to be a boon to the New 52. Overall, Batman #28 is a fun issue, even if it doesn't comfortably ground the reader in its timeline.

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9.5
Batman (2011) #29

Mar 12, 2014

Over the course of Zero Year, the creative team has dropped a few nuggets that haven't quite fit into place in their issues, some more abstract than others. Chief among them are the unexplained glimpses of a military operation in the desert gone terribly awry and the notions of culpability and responsibility. In Batman #29, those errant threads are woven into the larger tapestry of the story arc, tying together the narrative in a rich, complex manner that explores the darkest recesses of young Bruce's tortured psyche.

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10
Batman and Robin (2011) #18

Mar 13, 2013

The only words we read in the entire issue come in the form of a note Damian left for Bruce before leaving, never to return. It's almost too tidy a farewell, considering the character's story arc since his first appearance but it's a neat juxtaposition to Bruce's wordless grief, masterfully illustrated by Gleason, Mick Gray (inks), and John Kalisz (colors). When Bruce clutches the costume of yet another fallen Robin, I can't help but be reminded of Marius' solo in Les Misrables when he sings "My friends, my friends, forgive me, that I live and you are gone. There's a grief that can't be spoken, there's a pain goes on and on."

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8.8
Batman and Robin (2011) #19

Apr 10, 2013

The ghost of Damian Wayne continues to haunt the pages of Batman and Robin even after death as Tomasi builds upon aspects of his character that we " and Bruce " will never have the opportunity to explore. The fallen Robin's presence is felt more keenly because of his unbearably conspicuous absence. As he relentlessly highlights the Damian-shaped hole in Bruce Wayne's life, Tomasi proves yet again that he is a master architect of tragedy.

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7.0
Batman and Robin (2011) #20

May 8, 2013

The art, provided by pencillers Patrick Gleason and Cliff Richards, has some lovely moments, particularly in the opening pages with Carrie but the style change is noticeable if not overly distracting. Mark Irwin and Mick Gray's inks, along with John Kalisz's colours make for some powerful and stark tableaus that set the mood fairly well. Within the larger context of Tomasi's five stages of grief arc, it's a bit too close in tone to the last issue (Denial) to truly stand out but we'll see how it progresses as we move on to bargaining with Batgirl next month.

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8.9
Batman and Robin (2011) #21

Jun 19, 2013

This issue is arguably the strongest of the grief series thus far, and that's perhaps due to Tomasi's expert handling as Barbara Gordon as the voice of bargaining, both with herself and Batman. After the steady, simmering rage of the previous three issues, it'll be interesting to see Tomasi tackle depression in next month's installment.

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7.0
Batman and Robin (2011) #23.4

Sep 25, 2013

While Seely and company convince us to care about this unrepentant villain, the same can't be said about most other characters who appear in the issue. The trio of crooked cops that Killer Croc hunts throughout his subterranean domain are thoroughly two-dimensional, and neither pity nor disgust is inspired when they meet their predictably violent ends. It isn't until the final three pages of the issue that we're given a reason to care about Waylon's crusade, when Seeley reveals how personal Killer Croc's vendetta truly was.

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7.0
Batman and Robin (2011) #24

Oct 16, 2013

Aside from a few key moments, Batman and Two-Face #24 is barely about Batman or Two-Face and Ms. McKillen isn't quite compelling enough to carry the book on her own. Together, Tomasi and Gleason are capable of great things, particularly when the narrative and aesthetic elements work in harmony, but sustaining that creative synergy for the course of an entire book proved to be a challenge in this issue.

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9.3
Batman: Joker's Daughter #1

Feb 5, 2014

The girl's quest to track down the man she sees as a divine father figure brings her into the orbit of a few familiar faces, chief among them Batman. His tough love act comes from a good place, but Joker's Daughter is a special brand of mad, even for him. Likewise, her sojourn through Arkham raises more questions than answers about her true identity, if she can even be said to have one at all. It shouldn't be surprising that a girl who dons a face she found in the sewers is essentially an empty husk of a human being, but there's something heartbreaking about her hollowness. When she's offered the faintest glimmer of hope in the issue's final pages, the reader is put in the uncomfortable position of wanting her to achieve her goal, even though Bennett and Hetrick have pulled no punches in displaying the grotesque nature of her methods.

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8.5
Batman: Li'l Gotham #1

Apr 11, 2013

The issue will be a treat for fans who sorely miss the pre-reboot Bat-family. In the world of Li'l Gotham, Nightwing's stripes are baby blue, Babs is Oracle once more, Catwoman is a welcome addition to the Wayne home, and Damian continues his habit of collecting stray animals the way some people collect stamps. There's even a tiny Stephanie Brown-esque Batgirl hidden in a crowd of trick-or-treaters like a Bat-flavored Where's Waldo. Considering the unrelenting bleakness of the Bat-titles in DC's current lineup, Li'l Gotham is a welcome, lighthearted reprieve, full of wit, whimsy, and color.

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9.5
Batman: Li'l Gotham #2

May 22, 2013

Writer John Rogers once said, "You don't really understand an antagonist until you understand why he's a protagonist in his own version of the world." Fridolfs and Nguyen have nailed that philosophy, imbuing these iconic bat-villains with a sense of purpose beyond greed and mischief-making. All of this is wrapped up in Nguyen's delicately rendered, whimsical art. It's as playful and as beautiful as the words it gives life to. The book's text and visuals combine to make this one of the best books in DC's lineup for Bat-fans both young and old.

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9.0
Batman: Li'l Gotham #3

Jun 12, 2013

In the Lunar New Year chapter, we get more of Nguyen and Fridolf's pitch perfect Damian Wayne. The Robin of Li'l Gotham is a study in contradictions (as he should be) -- he's a young boy with a crass sense of humor (heh -- butt-ler), insecure in his father's affections, but eager to fill in his big Bat-shoes all the same. Basically, the Damian of Li'l Gotham is the Damian we know and miss. It's nice to have him back, at least for a little while.

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6.2
Batwing #19

Apr 3, 2013

While judgment is dutifully reserved until we see the new Batwing in action, it's important to note that Gray and Palmiotti have abandoned the idea of adapting the Bat symbol to a very different place from whence it came as another wealthy son of Gotham prepares to take up the mantle.

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6.5
Batwing #20

May 1, 2013

All in all, it's a less than illustrious first outing for our latest Batwing and time will tell if he's ready to ride to the occasion.

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8.0
Batwing #21

Dec 31, 1969

My hopes weren't particularly high after Lucas' first issue as Batwing, but Palmiotti and Gray are determined to make our hero stand out on his own. With the Marabunta bringing the fight to Lucas' home turf, the stage is set for a new Gotham-based Batwing to show us what he's really made of.

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9.0
Batwing #22

Jul 3, 2013

Eduardo Pansica's pencils impress us more and more with each issue, and his skill at depicting explosive action is evident from the very first page. This issue gives him ample opportunity to do what he does best: fight scenes. His off-center angles and tightly framed choreography bring an energy to the book that's as kinetic as Palmiotti and Gray's story. It took us a while to get to know him, but this is finally the Batwing we've been waiting for.

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7.0
Batwing #23

Aug 7, 2013

While we're having a jolly good time getting to know this new Batwing -- and we like the cut of his jib so far -- we're holding out hope that his supporting cast of friends and foes will prove a worthy complement.

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8.5
Batwing #24

Oct 2, 2013

Visually, Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira have packed the issue to the gills with details, and the action scenes are bursting off the page with energy. Paul Mounts' coloring has a more optimistic tone than many a book set in Gotham, but the vibrancy of the colors suits Batwing's plucky attitude in the face of dangers both large and small.Poor Luke Fox might not be having the grandest time living his life, but at least his (mis)adventures are pretty fun to read about.

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8.0
Batwing #25

Nov 7, 2013

Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira's art adds a youthful exuberance to these pre-Batwing adventures. Russ' metamorphoses is depicted with particular relish, and there's something nostalgically 90's about his villainous alter-ego's mind-boggling musculature. Both in terms of physical presence and personality, one can't help but think that Russ was more interesting prior to going to the dark side, but consider this judgment reserved until the creative shows us what they have in store for him next time.

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7.9
Batwing #26

Dec 5, 2013

The rest of the story is almost perfunctory in its execution. Batwing goes to Rome to capture Caligula, and that's precisely what he does, with remarkably few plot twists tossed in along the way. After building up the hype around Caligula and his criminal empire, the tidy resolution is almost too easy.

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7.8
Batwing #27

Jan 8, 2014

The art is a bit hit or miss, though the hits are pretty impressive. The first page features some very clever play on pictures within pictures and panels within panels, and the juxtaposition of reality and hallucinations is deftly handled. Expressions aren't as artfully rendered and there are a few areas where details are scarce, but overall, it's well-crafted comic.

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8.0
Batwing #28

Feb 5, 2014

The plot threads in the issue are a bit scattered, though each is interesting in its own right. Menace -- along with that peculiar fellow Rat-Catcher -- is behind the influx of drugs into the city, which is a pretty standard day for Gotham (and a storyline we've seen a few times too many), but when he learns about Tam's kidnapping, he shifts his focus to revenge as he targets another member of the Fox family. The underlying plot leaves something to be desired in terms of neatness, but Batwing's character development is fascinating to watch as he struggles to navigate an increasingly dire situation.

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8.8
Batwing #29

Mar 5, 2014

So far, this story arc has felt like it's been stretched a bit thin over too many issues, but now, we're finally getting pay-off, even if it's heartbreaking. Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray aren't pulling their punches. Batwing, as a book and as a character, is getting darker. Not in a brooding, solitary fashion like his mentor, but in a desperate, despairing kind of way. Luke's evolution is leading him down a path from which he might never return. He's always been a bit reckless, but a trait that was once charming, if a bit ill-advised, has now morphed into something dangerous.

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8.0
Batwing #30

Apr 2, 2014

Pansica's pencils are again wonderfully detailed and his talent for explosive action is well-utilized in Batwing #30, particularly in the showstopper fight scene between Luke and an army of Egyptian-themed underground thugs. Julio Ferreira's inks and Paul Mounts' colors don't shy away from darkness -- a wise aesthetic choice given the subject material. It's fascinating to compare this Batwing to the version we saw several issues ago -- this is character development done right.

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10
Batwoman #13

Oct 20, 2012

If you only pick up one book this week, make sure its Batwoman. With unparalleled art, stunning design, and a masterfully paced narrative, its far and away one of the best damn comics Ive ever read.

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7.0
Batwoman #18

Mar 20, 2013

The problems arise when the tantalizing plot threads dangled before us like a carrot on a string from last month's issue are simply left to dangle as Blackman and Williams grant them only cursory attention (in the case of Kate Kane's marriage proposal) or danced around entirely (in the case of Alice's surprise appearance). The issue ultimately feels like filler between the previous story arc and the next and though there are a few nice moments throughout, it doesn't lay any more foundation than what we already have.

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8.8
Batwoman #19

Apr 17, 2013

It's one of the tightest stories Williams and Blackman have served up but there is a glaring fault in Batwoman's characterization that's becoming increasingly hard to ignore. As the DEO continues to pressure her into doing their dirty work, Kate Kane finds herself sacrificing her own relationships while they push her around. The character Blackman and Williams have created doesn't seem like the type to let outside forces pull her strings so thoroughly and for so long. With the DEO putting more pressure on Kate to do things that test the limits of her loyalty, hopefully, Williams and Blackman will soon break Batwoman free from her metaphorical chains and deliver the character we know she can be.

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8.7
Batwoman #20

May 15, 2013

As Kate's secrets are laid bare before the people she loves and the people she knows she can't trust, Blackman and Williams' story is inching towards a resolution that promises to show Batwoman -- and us -- what she's really made of.

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9.4
Batwoman #21

Jun 19, 2013

Francavilla's art is as delightfully pulpy as one would expect, and the subtle nods to Swamp Thing's trademark aesthetic work well in the service of Killer Croc's subterranean vibe. Everything from the inventive layouts to restrained but still expressive color palette adds up to create a book that is in line with the quality we've come to expect from Batwoman, while offering up something unique, dark, and lovely.

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7.5
Batwoman #27

Jan 22, 2014

We aren't given much to chew on with regards to advancing the plot, leaving us to wonder if this multi-issue arc is hefty enough to justify stretching it out this long.

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7.2
Batwoman #28

Feb 19, 2014

While Kate's characterization is a highlight of the issue, there are other elements that feel somewhat anemic in comparison. Bette's voice continues to elude Andreyko's dialogue, but more significantly, the unifying plot thread at the heart of this arc -- the stolen art and the secrets it hides -- continues to be an underwhelming affair.

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6.8
Batwoman #29

Mar 19, 2014

Once again, we're given a glimpse of the history behind the paintings targeted by the Wolf Spider, and these hints of some deeper meaning are less tantalizing than they were several issues ago. Now, they only serve to highlight the relative flatness of the book's present day plot. But the issue's low point can be found, not in the Wolf Spider, but in Kate Kane. This month, her voice seems to have gotten lost in the fray, and the character comes across as uncharacteristically petulant when situated within the greater context of writer Marc Andreyko's run this far.

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7.0
Birds Of Prey (2011) #17

Feb 20, 2013

Romano Molenaar's pencils are consistent even if the women of Birds of Prey all seem to share the same face. The action sequences are particularly effective and Vicent Cifuentes inks and Chris Sotomayor's colors are almost cinematic in their sophistication. All in all, it's a solid issue that drives home the idea that it's hard to build a house without a solid foundation and impossible to build a team when everyone is busy hiding their secrets from one another.

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5.5
Birds Of Prey (2011) #18

Mar 20, 2013

I'm still holding out hope that Marx will surprise me in the coming issues but my enthusiasm has been considerably dampened by this largely humdrum outing.

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7.9
Birds Of Prey (2011) #19

Apr 17, 2013

The Birds have always been more than just a team and as they come face to face with Mr. Freeze and a few goons from the Court of the Owls, the ties that bind them are tested, some faring better than others. Just like any family, there's that one person who lets you down when you least expect it and Marx's plot twist at the end of the book is likely to shake things up for issues to come.

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7.7
Birds Of Prey (2011) #20

May 15, 2013

Action has always been Molenaar's strong suit and he doesn't disappoint here, even if his lady characters still suffer from the dreaded Same Face Syndrome. Jonathan Glapion's inks and Chris Sotomayor's colors add a saturated sense of depth to the visuals that works nicely with Mr. Freeze's icy antics. Now that Strix has thawed out some, we'll hopefully have a chance to get inside her thus far enigmatic head next month as Marx promises an epic Talon on Talon showdown.

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6.0
Birds Of Prey (2011) #21

Jun 19, 2013

The plotline is set to continue in Talon #9, but it's hard to feel motivated to pursue this story any further than this. Hopefully, Birds of Prey will find its wings soon, but as it stands, the title is in danger of falling even deeper into its rut.

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9.5
Black Widow (2014) #1

Jan 8, 2014

Overall, Black Widow #1 is a stellar effort from Edmondson and Noto that's sure to please even the most diehard fans. The story focuses on character development, and the creative team has nailed Natasha Romanov's voice perfectly.

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8.0
Black Widow (2014) #2

Jan 22, 2014

Visually, the book doesn't quite live up to what we know Noto is capable of. The art is designed to be simple in an unencumbered sense -- one would assume -- but the end result feels a bit plain. There are a few places where the art feels, if not rushed, then incomplete. It's still well drawn, but it isn't Noto's finest work. That being said, it could simply be a stylistic choice that's simply falling flat.

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8.7
Black Widow (2014) #3

Feb 5, 2014

As she escorts an escaped (and allegedly innocent) convict to freedom through the jungle, she thinks that a spy must be able to belong anywhere, which really means they belong nowhere. But the reader can tell that she's lying to herself before she does. Like it or not -- and she doesn't -- the people around Natasha (human or feline) have a way of sinking their claws into her life. The lesson here is that, sometimes, people find the places they belong in the most unexpected ways, with the most unexpected people. And that no one can resist an adorable cat. Not even hardened assassins.

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7.8
Black Widow (2014) #4

Mar 12, 2014

The simplicity of Noto's art sometimes works with the tone of the narrative, especially when it comes to Black Widow's no-frills personality, but there are points when it seems unfinished, for lack of a better word. While the color palette isn't as muddy as we've seen in previous issues, there is an unforgivably blurry exchange between Natasha and Maria Hill that does little to benefit the overall scene. Visual quibbles aside, the issue has enough packed into it to make us want more, and hopefully, Black Widow will soon be pitted against an enemy who can match her toe to toe.

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8.0
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #18

Feb 14, 2013

Billy, the much discussed "Boy Slayer," sees his own character arc come to a significant turning point amidst all the zompire madness. BTVS has always been about imparting real world life lessons with the aid of a few fantastical creatures and Billy learns the hard way that while he might have earned an honorary seat at the cool kid's table, he is not, nor will he ever be, one of them.

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6.8
Burn The Orphanage: Born to Lose #3

Mar 5, 2014

Visually, the book remains consistent. There are some wonderful moments that harken back to the side-scrolling games of yesteryear, and Rock's fight scenes, with their frantic energy and inventive layouts, are a particular treat. It's sad to see such a fun book lose steam, but if you're heavily invested in the story, it might still be an enjoyable read.

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7.4
Cable and X-Force #5

Mar 6, 2013

If you're deeply invested in the off-hours antics of Cable and his ragtag group of wrongfully accused criminals, then picking up the issue might be worth your hard earned cash. If, however, you're looking for a noticeable progression in the title's overarching plot, you might find yourself out of luck. Ultimately, Cable and X-Force #5 is filler. It may be good filler, but it is filler nonetheless.

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7.8
Captain Marvel (2012) #13

Jun 19, 2013

Thankfully, "The Two Towers Syndrome" shows signs of letting up as Carol homes in on her elusive attacker. DeConnick has done a solid job of building up towards the looming climax of The Enemy Within, and if her previous work is any indication, it won't be one to miss.

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8.5
Captain Marvel (2012) #14

Jul 31, 2013

But not even the inconsistent visuals could dampen DeConnick's narrative. The strength of the story lies in its mission statement, which is as consistent as it is brilliant. Sometimes, we're our own worst enemies, but even then, we can be our own heroes.

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7.0
Captain Marvel (2012) #15

Aug 28, 2013

Visually, there's a lot happening on the page. Penciller Patrick Olliffe and inker Drew Geraci handle the expansive action sequences with a deft hand, while colorist Andy Troy packs a punch with heavily saturated colors. The art team puts in a solid effort, but we're still left craving a consistent aesthetic from a title that suffers from a revolving door of artistic talent.

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9.0
Captain Marvel (2012) #17

Nov 7, 2013

It's also worth nothing that the issue marks the first appearance of the new Ms. Marvel, the Muslim teen who looks to Carol for inspiration. It's a quick peek, nothing more, but the introduction is seamlessly woven into the moral of the story: even in our darkest moments, it is our actions that define us and inspire others.

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8.0
Captain Marvel (2014) #1

Mar 12, 2014

The issue then jumps back in time by six weeks to show us how Carol got there -- or rather, how she took the first step on her journey to that point. And that's where the magic happens. Carol is lost -- spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc. -- and an opportunity to be an Avenger in space (as presented by a quippy Iron Man) gives her the chance to chase down her fate in an attempt to battle the restlessness that plagues her. Her galactic adventures are positioned as the ground on which she will, hopefully, find herself. It's a promising start to a series that will, potentially, cover new ground for Carol Danvers on her road to self-discovery.

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4.9
Catwoman (2011) #18

Mar 20, 2013

Catwoman is further hindered by Nocenti's tendency to "head hop" between different perspectives -- one minute we're in Batman's head, the next Trip Winters (what a name), and the next Selina's -- and with the revelation on the final page, it doesn't look like this series is going to tighten up its haphazard plot threads anytime soon.

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6.8
Catwoman (2011) #19

Apr 17, 2013

She isn't a hero, though she can be heroic when she chooses to be. Nor is she a villain though she does enjoy stealing from people who have far more than they need. Catwoman has her own moral compass that she follows even when she's the only person who can read it. Nocenti dabbles in these shades of gray and for the first time in her run, Selina feels like Selina.

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7.8
Catwoman (2011) #20

May 15, 2013

Catwoman #20 has one too many cooks in the bad guy kitchen as Nocenti juggles Catwoman's rivalry with the Penguin and the reappearance of the demon Escalate. While they're both worthy adversaries and could be interesting plot points in their own right, neither is done any favors by being packed into the same issue together. That being said, the escalation of hostilities between Catwoman and the Penguin is shaping up to be a title fight worth watching since the two characters exist at opposite ends of the spectrum. Selina is the Lone Ranger ofthievery, even if she is running with the JLA -- for now -- and Penguin is the head of a corporation of crime. It's a good dichotomy and Nocenti may have just found the narrative thread to make the series live up to its potential.

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3.9
Catwoman (2011) #21

Jun 26, 2013

I'm holding out hope that Nocenti finds her footing once more, since the blueprints for a solid story are there, but so far, things are looking pretty tough for Selina and her motley crew of misfit soldiers.

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5.5
Catwoman (2011) #22

Jul 24, 2013

The one bright spot (very bright where Doctor Phosphorous is concerned) is the issue's art, provided by Rafa Sandoval (pencils), Scott McDaniel (breakdown), Jordi Tarragona, and Sonia Black. There's an exceptionally strong attention to detail from the very first page, while the inks and colors are fluid and vibrant. Unfortunately, the story doesn't live up to the strength of the visuals, so we'll see if Nocenti has what it takes to save this strangely plotted story.

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6.0
Catwoman (2011) #23

Aug 28, 2013

Rafa Sandoval has been impressively consistent on art over the past few issues, and his work is as we've come to expect in Catwoman #9. Inker Jordie Tarragona and colorist Sonia Oback add a sleek sophistication to the vivid hues of Gotham's underground. What the book lacks in story strength, it doesn't quite make up for in solid visuals, but the art team puts on a respectable show.

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8.8
Catwoman (2011) Annual #1

May 29, 2013

It's a solid installment for an annual; the issue builds on what's come before while throwing the doors wide open for an even more ambitious story to follow.

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7.9
Codename: Action #1

Sep 4, 2013

There isn't much to say about the characters of Codename: Action just yet; they remain, at this point, a collection of tropes more than anything else. There's the wizened veteran paired up with a younger, spunkier counterpart. There's the effortlessly cool, ass-kicking bombshell. There's even a reasonable facsimile of Judi Dench's M. Fortunately, the premise is interesting enough to make us want more. The introduction of a superheroic element to what would otherwise be a formulaic riff on Cold War era espionage shenanigans might just be enough to keep this book afloat.

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8.8
Coffin Hill #1

Oct 9, 2013

Generally, Coffin Hill #1 feels like a story that could have benefitted from having a few more pages to breathe, though what we do have is enticing enough to inspire me to eagerly await next month's installment.

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9.8
Coffin Hill #2

Nov 14, 2013

Miranda's art and Eva de la Cruz's colors are every bit as vital to the success of the narrative as Kittredge's writing. As Eve and her former friend turned police chief Finn investigate the disappearance of a few teens in the woods, the sense of menace is palpable. Likewise, the gothic feel of the eminently creepy Coffin Hill estate adds a suitable aura of foreboding to the proceedings. The world of Coffin Hill is a dark place, yet one that's also strangely seductive.

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9.6
Coffin Hill #3

Dec 11, 2013

There are a number of moving parts to this story -- almost too many. But Kittredge handles the many threads of her story with impressive grace. Eve's domestic dramas -- namely, her complicated relationship with the local police chief and her hostile encounters with her mother -- play out against a backdrop of modernized gothic horror. The creepiness of Coffin Hill oozes across every page, tainting even the most mundane of events. And it isn't just the forest that's full of terrors. As a friend from her past reveals that there's more than one major malevolent force in town, Eve's past and present collide in a beautiful, chaotic mess.

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9.4
Collider #1

Jul 31, 2013

If this stellar beginning is any indication of what's to follow, we're in for a delightfully unpredictable ride. Oliver and Rodriguez have something unique on their hands, and I'm looking forward to what they've got up their sleeves for the next issue.

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8.5
Comeback #4

Feb 27, 2013

Michael Walsh's rough-edged art suits the increasingly frenetic pace of the narrative and it lends it a gritty flavor that doesn't feel overdone. Jordie Bellaire continues to be the queen of coloring and her palette is minimal and muted when it needs to be and vibrant and rich as the situation calls for it. The visuals are particularly well played at the issue's end, when a series of game-changing time hijinks sets up the final chapter in such a way that it's virtually impossible to predict where Brisson is going to go next. And that's very much a good thing.

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6.9
Comeback #5

Mar 20, 2013

Visually, Walsh delivered consistent artwork, but as ever, it owed a great debt to Jordie Bellaire's vibrant colors, which enlivened an otherwise lackluster issue. While I'm glad that the characters we came to love over the past five issues met with mostly happy (or well-deserved if not happy) endings, I can't help but wonder what Brisson would have done had he had more time and more pages to explore the world he'd so lovingly built.

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9.0
Demon Knights #17

Feb 14, 2013

Though the issue finds itself bloated with one narrative thread too many, Venditti does his best to negotiate them all while allowing the reader to see a convergence of plot lines on the horizon. Again, if you aren't reading Demon Knights, you're missing out on one of DC's most cleverly subversive titles.

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8.8
Demon Knights #20

May 8, 2013

Venditti's dialogue is bolstered by Chad Harden's pencils. Harden's figures speak as loudly as Venditti's words as he imbues each character with their own distinct body language. The sophistication of the inks and colors, provided by Wayne Faucher and David Curiel, dovetails nicely with Harden's art. All in all, it's beautiful book with great comedic moments and a cast of characters with strong personalities and distinct voices. It's definitely a book worth picking up if you're not doing so already.

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8.2
Detective Comics (2011) #21

Jun 5, 2013

Scot Eaton's art is consistent throughout (even if Mio doesn't appear to have a spine), and it's brought to life by Jaime Mendoza's inks and Jeromy Cox's vibrant colors. The gloomy darkness of Gotham is occasionally penetrated by the neon glow of the city's lights, and the visuals work best when these contrasts are played up. All in all, it's a solid issue that situates Harper more firmly into the Batman mythos, while laying the foundation for what looks to be an intriguing arc.

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9.0
Detective Comics (2011) #22

Jul 3, 2013

Fabok's art is heavy on the gritty realism we've come to associate with Gotham, and it's complemented by Emilio Lopez's atmospheric colors. The book's almost cinematic aesthetic is everything we could ask for in a modern Bat-book -- and it's a perfect match for Layman's increasingly dark narrative.

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8.5
Detective Comics (2011) #23

Aug 7, 2013

Layman's story is almost cinematic in its structure -- there are plenty of moving pieces on this chessboard, but they're led around the field of play in such a way that they support one another. That being said, some moments aren't quite as successful as others, particularly the flashback scene that sheds a little light on the backstory for a character who died in the previous issue. Detective Comics #23 is so tightly orchestrated that these missteps are more noticeable than they might have otherwise been.

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7.8
Detective Comics (2011) #24

Oct 2, 2013

Artist Jason Fabok excels when it comes to explosive action sequences, but he does have a tendency to overcomplicate quieter moments with off-kilter angles and claustrophobic framing. Blond's colors have a somber sophistication that matches the maturity of Fabok's visuals nicely. Overall, it's a good looking book that deserves to be commended for its ambition, even if the execution is ever so slightly off on occasion.

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4.0
Dial H #11

Apr 3, 2013

While there is a shadow of an interesting plot with the Centipede, whose finger-steepling villainy is refreshingly camp, and the truth about the powers obtained with the H-dials, it's difficult to overlook the issue's glaring flaws, both in terms of the narrative and the art.

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5.0
Doctor Who Vol. 3 #8

Apr 17, 2013

Artistically, the series has struggled to provide fans with anything beyond purely perfunctory visuals. Horacio Domingues and Andres Ponces' pencils are a no frill affair. Ruben Gonzalez's heavy inks and Adrian Salmon's unadorned block of color make for an aesthetic that isn't the most exciting that Doctor's ever seen. In Doctor Who #8, there's very little happening on the page, both in terms of plots and visuals, and it's hard to justify the stretching of this straightforward story arc into two full issues.

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7.1
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1

Jan 30, 2013

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 might not be the most thrilling joyride in the annals of Whovian history, but it does establish an intriguing mystery that will wind its way through all twelve issues, the last of which will see the various incarnations of the Doctor unite as they never have before.

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6.2
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #2

Feb 27, 2013

What follows is a story so painfully straightforward that it is almost completely lacking in surprises or unexpected twists. Perhaps I've simply been spoiled by years of Steven Moffat's and Russel T. Davies' takes on the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey adventures of the Doctor and his assorted companions but this issue's unerringly rigid point A to point B structure is ultimately a bit of a letdown.

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9.0
East of West #2

Apr 24, 2013

The wee Horsemen embark on a bloody rampage that is beautifully rendered by artist Nick Dragotta and colorist Frank Martin in detail that is too artfully vivid to be truly gory. The sophistication of the book's design is virtually unparalleled and Dragotta's art is an exercise in restraint. Martin's masterful color palette adds exactly the sort of ambience Hickman's scripts calls for. It's a much more concise and comprehensible outing than their first issue and the disjointed fragments of East of West are beginning to coalesce into something epic and strange and beautiful.

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7.8
East of West #3

Jun 5, 2013

Visually, the world of East of West is stunning. Nick Dragotta's art is simplistic without sacrificing detail. His imagery is precise and elegant. Coupled with Frank Martin's restrained yet vibrant color palette, the book's aesthetic is anexercisein sophistication. As pretty as it is, the issue doesn't quite deliver on the promise of the previous installment. Hickman does slow the pace down, but by the issue's end, I was left with a sense of faint dissatisfaction. There's so much to explore in the world of East of West, and I sincerely hope this magic eye illusion of a comic finds its way soon.

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7.0
East of West #4

Jul 10, 2013

As with previous issues, Dragotta's art is the book's greatest strength. Along with Frank Martin's masterful colors, the world of East of West is as brilliantly rendered as it is overcrowded with plot. If the narrative and the visuals could ever achieve equilibrium, East of West would be a series to be reckoned with. As it is, we're left lusting after the book that could be, not the book that is.

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8.8
Emerald City of Oz #1

Jul 3, 2013

Readers of all ages are bound to fall in love with Skottie Young's whimsical art. His style -- marked by exaggerated proportions and energetic lines -- is a perfect fit for the city of Oz. Likewise, Jean-Franois Beaulieu's colors bring the Nome King's earth-toned subterranean lair and the jewel-toned Oz to vibrant life. Overall, the creative team behind The Emerald City of Oz has crafted a book for kids that is both fun and sophisticated, with just enough menace to keep things interesting.

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9.1
Emily and the Strangers #1

Jan 30, 2013

This inaugural issue ends with Emily acquiring a haunted tentacular guitar and in the process meeting Evan (stage name: Evan Stranger), the aforementioned blue-haired boy who, like Emily, just wants to rock. Emily and her cats may have just met their match and I, for one, can't wait to see what these two kooky kids get up to in upcoming issues. As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, "Strange children should smile at each other and say, Let's play."

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8.5
Fairy Quest: Outlaws #1

Feb 6, 2013

Fairy Quest #1 proves itself to be a good choice for young readers, as it deals with relatively straightforward lessons about friendship and loyalty in the face of adversity, but as with any self-respecting all-ages story, it refuses to patronize its audience. Jenkins spins a tale of totalitarianism and resistance into this confection of a story, expertly weaving the heavier themes of oppression and subversion into the brightly colored land of Fablewood.

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9.0
Fairy Quest: Outlaws #2

Mar 6, 2013

The moral of Fairy Quest #2's story is that friends may come in unlikely shapes and sizes and enemies might lurk behind the prettiest of faces. Jenkins drives home the fact that life is unfair, humans are cruel and capricious beings, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. Fairy Quest does what good fairy tales are supposed to do: it conveys hard truths about the world in a fantastical setting that emphasizes the simplicity of their message.

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8.0
Flash (2011) #17

Feb 27, 2013

The women in Barry Allen's life are blessedly more than simple love interests whose sole purpose is to add substance to his character. Both Iris and Patty are well-developed characters in their own right and Manapul and Buccellato's refusal to consign them to mere ingenue status benefits the story as a whole, as Barry finds himself torn between two strong, smart, and assertive women. With the Rogues ready to raise some hell and a compelling love triangle blossoming between Barry, Iris, and Patty, Central City is about to get interesting.

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7.8
Flash (2011) #18

Mar 27, 2013

After the extended Grodd storyline, it's refreshing to see Buccellato try his hand at something different. The Flash #18 serves to lay the groundwork for the story arc to come and perhaps, one day, we'll find out why we should care about Trickster one way or another.

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9.0
Flash (2011) #19

Apr 24, 2013

The switch between artists on the final two pages"Marcio Takara hands over the reins to series regular Francis Manapul"is jarring but not entirely unwelcome. Under Buccellato and Manapul's guidance, The Flash had become one of the prettiest books in DC's lineup and it's nice to see Manapul back in action, even if just for two pages. Takara has done a stellar job as the title's artists for the past couple of issues so it's not really a problem so much as it's an embarrassment of riches. Manapul also shares a writing credit for this glimpse into what's in store for The Flash next issue and it's nice to see the dream team back together again.

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9.0
Flash (2011) #20

May 22, 2013

Last issue explored the idea that heroes aren't made heroic through their powers, but by their choices and The Flash #20 follows suit thematically. Fighting crime isn't all high speed chases and fiery explosions -- sometimes, it's putting together a puzzle, onepainstakinglysmall piece at a time. At the issue's end, Manapul and Buccellato promise a meeting Flash fans have been looking forward to since the New 52 launched: Kid Flash and Barry Allen will finally come face to face. Time will tell if the Flash has internalized all those lessons he's learned over the past few issues or if Kid Flash's impulsiveness (get it?) will prove infectious.

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7.0
Flash (2011) #21

Jun 26, 2013

Artistically, there's never a dull moment in The Flash #21. The narrative, however, doesn't fare quite so well. While there are lots of promising plot points (like Daniel West's incarceration and Iris' burgeoning friendship with Barry), they're in danger of going stale after months of neglect.As ever, the visuals are strong enough to carry the issue, even through its rougher patches. Manapul and Buccellato's art continues to bepar excellence-- even when the plot falters (and it does), we're still given something meaty to satisfy our appetites.

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9.0
Flash (2011) #22

Jul 24, 2013

As we've said (again and again), the art on this book is second to none. From the innovative layouts to the combination of soft tones and strong splashes of color, everything about The Flash's visuals is executed with a level of sophistication that few superhero comics could hope to rival. When the plot waned in intensity in previous story arcs, the art was enough to carry you through, but here, Manapul and Buccellato have no need to rest on their visual laurels. The Flash #22 sees the text and the art coming together to create a harmonious whole.

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8.7
Flash (2011) #23

Aug 28, 2013

Visually, the book is as stunning as we've come to expect from the team of Manapul and Buccellato. The Flash has earned its place amongst the elite when it comes to art; everything from the clever use of page space to the alternating delicate and visceral colors makes for a unique aesthetic. Now that we know who the dastardly Speed Force Killer really is, it'll be interesting to see how Manapul and Buccellato situate him within the Flash's narrative framework next month.

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7.9
Flash (2011) #23.2

Sep 11, 2013

While the narrative might not be as strong as the regularly numbered issues that have preceded it, the art is on par with the title's standard of excellence. Hepburn and Buccellato (the latter provides colors as well as words) maintain the inventive aesthetic that has made The Flash a standout title, while twisting it to dovetail with Reverse Flash's troubled psyche. The art alone is enough to recommend the book, though it does set the story up nicely for the final clash between speedsters in The Flash #24.

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8.6
Flash (2011) #24

Oct 23, 2013

Where the book is less successful is its conclusion to the overarching plot of the past few issues (which occurs in the first third of the book). The final clash between The Flash and his dark counterpart, Daniel West, is poorly explained and anticlimactic. Even Barry comments that he isn't quite sure how he pulled it off, and is just glad that he did. The focus of the book is primarily on Barry finding his focus. So far, he's been struggling to deal with his powers and responsibilities, and here, we get to see him finally find some balance. While Buccellato and Manapul will still headline next month's Zero Year issue, The Flash #24 definitely reads like their swan song on the title.

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8.8
Flash (2011) #25

Nov 27, 2013

Visually, Sprouse does some great work on art duties, though the switch to Manapul on page twenty is more than a little jarring. Consistency has been The Flash's strong suit since day one of the New 52, so the aesthetic change is perhaps more noticeable. All in all, it's one of the more interesting tie-ins to come out of Zero Year, as the creative team focuses less on exploring archetypal character origins and more on showcasing the kind of person Barry is, with an eye on the man he'll one day become.

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6.8
Flash (2011) #28

Feb 26, 2014

The book also gets caught up in explanatory info-dumping via Barry's internal narration, which reads a bit like a laundry list of events. In turn, Zircher's art acts as a sort of visual backdrop to the telling of the story without being given the opportunity to bring out the flavor of the story in tandem with the text. There's enough rich, vivid detail in the book's art that it's a shame that there's a disconnect between it and the expository narrative. Overall, The Flash #28 seems like a good idea that didn't quite blossom into the beautiful flower it could have been.

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7.8
Flash (2011) #29

Mar 26, 2014

Padilla and colorist Matt Hollingsworth go for a classic superhero aesthetic in issue #29, but clean lines and carefully considered color choices keep the book's visuals from reading as cliche. Particularly well-executed are the character's expressions, which at times speak even louder than the text. While it isn't the best issue the title has seen, it does lay the groundwork for a potentiallyfascinating story arc in the future.

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9.0
Flash (2011) Annual #2

Jul 31, 2013

The book is slowed down early on by an extended flashback sequence to explain the characters' current predicament, but it proves to be so joyously fun that it's hard to complain about the structural choice. Overall, The Flash Annual #2 is a solid standalone story that bucks the growing trend toward gritty realism by keeping it light and bringing the laughs.

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8.0
Ghost #1

Oct 25, 2012

Overall, "Ghost" #1 is a pleasure to read, with gorgeous visuals and a story that's bound to leave you yearning for more. It's a promising start for DeConnick and Noto and it's definitely worthy of being added to the monthly pull list.

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7.6
Golem #1

May 1, 2013

Artist Giovanni Timpano's dystopic vision is one of the book's strongest selling point. The slightly Blade Runner-esque feel of his settings adds a gritty futuristic flare to Golem that greatly benefits Goldstein's story. The plot twist at the end might feel a bit rushed, but it's interesting nonetheless. The Golem #1 isn't a flawless homerun but it's enough to make one eager to find out where Goldstein and Timpano are going to take Danya next.

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9.0
Green Lantern (2011) #19

Apr 3, 2013

Ardian Syaf and Szymon Kudranski again pull double duty on art, with the former handling the Dead Zone sequences and the latter tackling the scenes on Korugar and Oa. The monochromatic beauty of the Dead Zone -- particularly Hal's haunting final page -- makes the more richly colored scenes appear almost utilitarian in comparison though there are some lovely moments throughout. With the issue's final two pages bringing the parallels between Sinestro and Hal into sharp focus in a moment of perfect synchronicity with Johns' narrative, one gets the sense that Green Lantern #19 is exactly what the Wrath of the First Lantern story arc needed.

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7.2
Green Lantern Corps (2011) #20

May 8, 2013

Fernando Pasarin's pencils are at their finest during the scene on Mogo, where Scott Hanna's inks and Gabe Eltaeb's colors combine in a lush vibrant wellspring of details. A few of Pasarin's facial expressions are a little off but the art is otherwise pretty solid. Now that the First Lantern is behind us -- good riddance -- hopefully Green Lantern Corps can move on to something more gripping next issue.

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4.9
Green Lantern: New Guardians #19

Apr 17, 2013

The Wrath of the First Lantern story arc is being stretched out over too many titles and too many issues and it's easy to lose track of what's at stake. The First Lantern has yet to make himself stand out as a villain who has a greater plan in mind besides yanking everyone's chain, even if he does go to rather explosive extremes to do it. Some of the Green Lantern titles are suffering from a pronounced lack of focus because of it and New Guardians is not different.

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6.5
Green Lantern: New Guardians #20

May 22, 2013

Lately, the series hasn't quite lived up to its promise of capitalizing on the diverse group of Lanterns that make up the erstwhile team. Issue #20 briefly touches on the possible mashup of Lanterns from the full range of the emotional spectrum as if pointing at the missed opportunity to anything interesting with them. While it's nice to see Kyle Rayner deal with his problems in a way that feels authentic, it would be nicer if it was supported by the meat of a decent plot.

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6.5
Hacktivist #1

Jan 22, 2014

Hacktivist #1 tries to capitalize on the idea of revolution in a tech-oriented world and comes up short.

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7.7
Happy #4

Feb 20, 2013

Hot off the heels of his recent existential crisis, this issues sees Happy getting his groove back and he's even sassier and infinitely less annoying once he lets his hair down. The mini-series has ostensibly been about one man's journey to self-actualization with the help of a flying blue hallucination but Happy #4 shows us that the road to self-awareness is a two way street as both Nick Sax and Happy prove that they never needed the feather to fly because they had it in them to be heroes the whole time.

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9.5
Harley Quinn (2013) #1

Dec 19, 2013

The creative team avoids falling into cliche with a not so gentle reminder that the psyche we're dealing with is anything but stable. When Harley witnesses an adorable dachsund in distress, her response is twisted justice that's both uncomfortable to witness and -- on a petty, primal level -- almost cathartic. This Harley Quinn was never driven to a life of crime because of malicious intent, but rather, out of a desire to help that had been perverted over time (and with a great deal of help from the Joker). She's a complex character, and now, with Conner, Palmiotti, and Hardin at reins, she's being given the treatment she's long since deserved.

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7.8
Harley Quinn (2013) #2

Jan 22, 2014

The rest of the issue touches upon the ongoing string of subpar assassins being sent after Harley, for reasons which remain mysterious, but the majority of it focuses on her crusade to liberate dozens of soon to be euthanized critters from a local animal shelter. And so enters Poison Ivy, who aids Harley in her noble pursuit. What's sure to get fans' tongues wagging is the implication that Ivy and Harley are a little more than friends. It's been a popular theory before, and this creative team isn't the first to dance around the issue, but they certainly come the closest to taking a definitive stance. Indeed, one really has to try to ignore the not so subtle cues about the relationship. Really, really, really try.

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7.3
Harley Quinn (2013) #3

Feb 19, 2014

Artist Chad Hardin and colorist Alex Sinclair provide Harley with a richly detailed and heavily saturated playground in which to have her psychotic adventures. Indeed, even when the story seemed to be at its weakest -- Harley takes nothing away from her ordeal other than "Do not eat more of those berries." -- the book's visuals are strong enough to carry you through.

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7.0
Harley Quinn (2013) #4

Mar 19, 2014

Perhaps it's the situation-of-the-month feel to Harley Quinn #4 that's holding it back. This time around, we get to see a day in the life of Dr. Harleen Quinzel, nursing home counselor. Despite her medical credentials -- and this comes as no surprise, she is woefully ill-equipped on a mental level to deal with other people's problems, and she winds up kidnapping an allegedly (but not truthfully) neglectful family based on the faulty recollections of a grandmother with Alzheimer's. While this could have been prime ground for exploring Harley's own issues with perception and abandonment, all we get is a single line about how Puddin' used to lock her up in a closet as she forces the hog-tied family into the trunk of a car. Hopefully, further issues will go back to that intersection of zany hijinks and unexpected introspection that we know the series can offer.

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9.3
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #9

Apr 11, 2013

Through it all, Kate Bishop continues to be the brightest in a constellation of bright shining stars. Her most memorable line " "I don't hang out with him, he hangs out with me" " is the soundest argument anyone, real or fictional, has made for giving that woman her own solo series. Seriously, Marvel, make it happen, the world needs more of Fraction's many Hawkeyes.

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9.8
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #10

May 1, 2013

It's a deliciously layered parfait of a comic and to divulge anything more would threaten to spoil the experience of reading it. Simply know that it's one of the strongest issues in the series thus far and considering the consistent quality of Hawkeye, that's saying something.

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9.8
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #13

Oct 16, 2013

Visually, the no-frills layout of the issue works to great effect. Aja and Matt Hollingsworth have a style that's thoroughly unique and thematically appropriate. The book's subdued colors convey a lingering melancholy, and the repetition of the nine-panel page wraps it all up in a sense of metaphorical claustrophobia. Like Clint, we're made to feel trapped by circumstance. Few books manage this type of narrative and aesthetic harmony, but Aja and Fraction make it look disturbingly easy.

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7.8
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #14

Nov 27, 2013

This Hawkeye is bursting with youthful energy, which is sprinkled with a heavy dose of navet, and the art (by Matt Hollingsworth) is a solid thematic match. It's bright and chipper, without any darkness to temper it. Even the villain who puts in a brief appearance at the end is right at home in Kate's preternaturally sunny world. Overall, it's a confection of a comic that cleanses the palate after last month's emotional beat down, but it doesn't quite hit the high notes that Clint's parallel narrative does.

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9.0
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #15

Feb 26, 2014

Hawkeye #15 strikes that hard-to-achieve balance between humor and tragedy, and it serves to highlight the greater weakness of the series as a whole. With the (mostly) alternating Kate and Clint focused issues, it's hard not to compare the two. One can't help but think that the series (and general flow of the story) wouldn't benefit overall from the creative team working on telling one narrative instead of two simultaneous and distinct books.

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8.6
Hawkeye Vol. 2 #18

Mar 26, 2014

Wu's art, coupled with Matt Hollingworth's colors, creates a tightly organized visual landscape that tells a story through tightly packed panels and a well-designed palette. While there is a visual coherence between both Hawkeye's installments, there's something undeniably Kate in these pages. If you've been lagging on picking up this side of the title, now might be a good time to hop on board.

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7.5
Hawkeye Vol. 2 Annual #1

Jul 24, 2013

While Hawkeye Annual #1 does include some of the wit and whimsy we've come to expect from Fraction, especially when he's dealing with writing in Kate's voice, for the most part, it lacks the sort of tightly paced plotting with which we've been spoiled. We talk a lot about stakes in narratives (every story needs a solid, convincing conflict to propel it forth), but at no point do they seem particularly high in this issue. After setting off on her own, Kate finds herself down on her luck, with a masked baddie breathing down her neck, but her problems never seem particularly insurmountable. The issue is an easy read, but it's almost too easy.

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8.0
Hinterkind #1

Oct 2, 2013

Trifogli has gone with a rather sunny palette considering the book's post-apocalyptic foundation, but the coloring makes more sense when you get to the weird parts. Like we said, Hinterkind isn't your everyday dystopia. The title refers to the winged, horned, and all around bizarre creatures that have risen up as the tide of humanity has been pushed back. These strange chimaera populate the earth, hunting for "free range humans." Fiction of this genre tends to verge into the scientific more than the fantastical, but Hinterkind manages to blend a bleak speculative future with a vibrant mythology fresh from a fairytale.

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7.8
Hinterkind #2

Nov 7, 2013

So far, the book's more conventional dystopian elements -- the ruined city, the bands of human survivors making the most of what they have -- haven't congealed harmoniously with the more fantasy-esque aspects of the story. While the idea of blending creatures from ancient Gaelic folklore with a futuristic dystopia is an appealing one, we'll have to wait and see how Edginton and Trifogli approach it in future issues before we can deem it successful or not.

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9.5
Hit-Girl #5

Feb 6, 2013

Taken as a whole, the Hit-Girl mini-series is so much more than a bridge between the first two volumes of Kick-Ass. Though we know that Mindy's story comes full circle by the end of Kick-Ass 2, it's shockingly easy to take a perverse amount of pleasure in her slow descent into madness.

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5.0
It Came! #1

Apr 11, 2013

There are no heroes in It Came!, but there are also no villains or otherwise substantial characters. The world of It Came! is populated with cardboard cutouts that do little to enliven a narrative that relies primarily on nostalgia value for its appeal. It's a good idea, but the execution leaves something to be desired.

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8.7
Journey Into Mystery #649

Feb 27, 2013

Valerio Schiti's art is detailed, energetic, and sophisticated while Jordie Bellaire surprises absolutely no one with her masterful coloring. If you haven't been reading Journey Into Mystery, you're missing out on one of the more enjoyable titles in Marvel's lineup.

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8.0
Journey Into Mystery #650

Mar 27, 2013

Artist Valerio Schiti and colorist Jordie Bellaire continue their stellar work as they deliver visuals that are as explosively fun as Immonen's story. Bellaire's bright and joyous colors breathe life into Schiti's Sif, who is every bit as strong and beautiful as the character demands. One can't help but feel that Marvel has assembled a dream team with this trio. If you aren't reading Journey Into Mystery already, you should probably look at your life, look at your choices, analyze where you might have gone wrong, and then add it to your pull list. You won't regret it.

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8.8
Journey Into Mystery #651

Apr 24, 2013

Pepe Larraz's art is joyous and energetic, just as an Asgardian interpretation of an old fairy tale should be. Jordie Bellaire's colors are a saturated, vivid delight without verging into saccharine territory. This issue of Journey Into Mystery is a nice respite from the multi-issue arcs that dominate monthly comics. Sometimes, all you want is a well-developed single issue to curl up with and Immonen, Larraz, and Bellaire deliver just that.

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9.6
Journey Into Mystery #652

May 22, 2013

Valerio Schiti is on fire in this issue, which opens with a gorgeous 3x3 spread of panels that's cleverly divvied up to show Sif at her fiercest (while gardening... with a broadsword). Jordie Bellaire's colors are at their best. Sif's cerulean eyes shine as brightly as the crimson of her armor and the sickly greens of Asgardia's garden threaten to rot right off the page -- that's a compliment, I swear. If you're not avidly following Journey Into Mystery, with its top-notch writing and visuals... a plague on your house.

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9.2
Jupiter's Legacy #1

Apr 24, 2013

For an introductory issue, Jupiter's Legacy hits the notes it has to in terms of world-building and character development, if the action does feel a little anemic in some places. Together, Millar and Quitely have constructed a world as rich and vibrant as our own, peopled with individuals who are neither heroes nor villains. Jupiter's Legacy looks to be the sort of book that explores the shades of gray between black and white.

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8.1
Justice League of America (2013) #3

May 8, 2013

David Finch's pencils shine brightest during his action scenes and the inks (by Finch and Richard Friend) and colours (by Sonia Oback) play up some of the more expansive detail work nicely. The backup feature by Kindt and artist Manuel Garcia is the real highlight of JLA #3 and its worth picking up the issue for that alone. It's more a point A to point B issue that sets the stage for bigger events so next month should prove interesting for our motley crew of misfits and heroes.

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7.8
Justice League of America (2013) #4

May 29, 2013

It's a decent enough issue, but it's overshadowed by the backup feature by writer Matt Kindt and artist Andres Guinaldo. "Trial by Fire" details Martian Manhunter's tragic past with a trip to Mars. Kindt paints a lovely image of Martian society -- it's a utopia where concepts like isolation and hatred haven't even entered the lexicon, even if they're lurking right around the corner. It's a sad yet eerily beautiful vignette that adds a dimension to the character we haven't had the opportunity to explore in the main series. With so many characters crowding the pages of JLA, it's nice to take a moment to get inside the head of one of the team's more enigmatic members.

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5.5
Katana #1

Feb 14, 2013

Likewise, Alex Sanchez's art has its highs and its lows, though the former do outnumber the latter. The visuals are more successful during the action sequences though quieter close-ups provide underwhelming expressions that are relatively static compared to the energy of his more expansive panels. Matt Yackey's colors are somewhat less uneven and when he gets down to playing with lights and shadows, there are moments of pleasantly surprising beauty. One gets the sense that Katana could be a compelling addition to DC's lineup, but it's looking like it's going to be an uphill battle from here.

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9.3
Lazarus #1

Jun 26, 2013

I don't want to give too much away -- Lazarus is shaping up to be one of those books worth experiencing cold -- but we will say that Rucka and Lark are fearless in their handling of the bigger issues at work. My only quibble is that the narrative can be a bit befuddling at times, but overall, Rucka and Lark have started us on a journey that'll ask the hard questions about what it means to be human while forcing us to take a long, hard look at the world we live in.

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8.8
Lazarus #2

Jul 24, 2013

Nestled within this futuristic sci-fi action story is a family drama with a few familiar archetypes. There's the somber patriarch who has an inexplicable soft spot for Forever and seems to hold her in higher esteem than he does his own children. There are the two brothers, existing at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of temperament. There's also Beth, who appears to be the kinder counterpoint to Johanna, whose massive superiority complex paints her as an antagonistic force right off the bat. Outside of this tangled familial web is the Morray family, the Carlyle's rivals. As clashes between the two groups escalate, it seems that war is on the horizon, and Forever's about to get stuck in the middle of it.

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7.9
Lazarus #3

Aug 28, 2013

The book's visuals are consistent and atmospheric. Michael Lark, joined by Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Level, continues to craft a world that's as psychologically bleak as it is visually dystopic. The series' aesthetic is dark and somber, a choice which is well suited to Rucka's narrative. While this particular issue didn't blow my mind, the (quite literally) explosive ending has our interest piqued for what's in store for Forever and the family Carlyle.

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8.7
Lazarus #4

Oct 2, 2013

My only quibble -- and it's not necessarily a negative -- is that the issue focused perhaps a bit too much on Forever and Jaocquim's fight for survival. While it's beautifully depicted, we can't help but wonder if that page space could have been utilized to develop the plot just a bit more. That being said, the issue ends with an intriguing transition to next month's installment, where hopefully Forever (and her readers) will begin to get to the bottom of things.

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5.5
Liberator #1

Jun 19, 2013

Javier Sanchez Aranda's art has its moments " particularly the opening sequence, when Damon breaks up a dog-fighting ring, liberating the abused canines and blowing the facility sky high " but they're unfortunately overshadowed by Miner's preachy prose (embodied by a poorly situated manifesto that ruins the story's overall flow). Some sections would have been better served by silence, but Damon's grating narration makes it difficult to sit back and enjoy the visuals.

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9.2
Loki: Agent of Asgard #1

Feb 5, 2014

And it wouldn't be a Loki book without a little moral ambiguity. Unlike Black Widow, another book that focuses on dealing with one's shady past, Loki isn't after absolution. When he hacks into the Avengers' database, he wipes his slate clean. He doesn't want forgiveness. He wants to the Loki of the past to be forgotten. But, as we're shown on the issue's final page, the past is not so easily erased.

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9.2
Loki: Agent of Asgard #2

Mar 5, 2014

Visually, Garbett's art, combined with Nolan Woodard's colors, is a visual feast. From Verity's many tattoos to each character's versatile range of expressions, the book's art builds a world that's as vibrant as Loki himself. My chief complaint was that I wanted to gorge myself on this story like Augustus Gloop at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and it had to come to an end before I had my fill.

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6.5
Love Stories (To Die For) #1

Sep 4, 2013

Both stories were lettered by Jim Reddington, and I recognize that letterers often go unsung in reviews. That being said, lettering is one aspect of comics that is absolutely essential, and when it's pulled off correctly, should never be overly noticeable in its own right. The book's lettering transitions in style across the two stories, but in both instances, the fonts are distractingly bad. Written text is there to immerse you in a story, never to pull you out of it. Unfortunately, that's precisely what happens in Love Stories (to Die For).

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8.0
Mind MGMT #10

Apr 24, 2013

Kindt's aesthetic is consistent as ever, even if my heart does continue to cry out for a touch more sophistication in the art. The lack of polish is a stylistic choice but one can't help but imagine what the world of Mind MGMT would be if the visuals matched the moody atmospheric tone of the writing.

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9.3
Mind MGMT #11

May 22, 2013

Kindt's art is more than just pictures in panels -- the book's aesthetic is an experience in its own right. As his loose lines draw your eye around the page, it's easy to lose yourself in the motion of his story, both visually and textually. Mind MGMT #11 pumps up the tension as Meru and her band of renegade agents get closer to their quarry, but it's not likely that they'll enjoy what they find when they get there, even if we do.

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6.0
Miss Fury #1

Apr 3, 2013

Artist Jack Herbert manages to walk the tightrope between sexy and vulgar relatively well, even if Marla Drake's cleavage-baring formal wear is more than a little anachronistic. Herbert blends a vintage feel with a modern aesthetic to great effect and the visuals strike the chord missed by Williams' narrative. Hopefully, now that the troublesome origin story has been shoehorned in, Williams and Herbert can operate in harmony in coming issues. The new and temporally displaced Miss Fury has so much potential, it would be a shame to see it squandered.

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9.0
Ms. Marvel (2014) #2

Mar 19, 2014

Adrian Alphona's art and Ian Herring's colors possess a light, airy aesthetic that is well-suited to Kamala's voice. The book's visuals, from the color palette to the use of stillness versus action, mirror the energy and attitude of a young girl going through a life-changing transition (yes, the puberty metaphors are strong in this one). Overall, the second issue of Ms. Marvel is a stellar follow-up to its debut, and it is definitely a book you should be reading.

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6.0
Nightwing (2011) #18

Mar 20, 2013

Visually, faces are not Ryp's strong suit and the overabundance of wordy dialogue highlight's the arts weaknesses rather than emphasizing its strengths. As it stands, both the writing and the art hint at an emotionally powerful story that could have been without going far enough to tell it.

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8.5
Nightwing (2011) #19

Apr 17, 2013

The new setting and cast isn't the only thing putting much needed spark back into the title. Booth's art is as dynamic as the character of Dick Grayson demands and his layouts are inventive and energetic, just as they should be for a book about liveliest member of the Bat-family. Nightwing needed a fresh start and with Higgins and Booth delivering the goods, he's finally got one.

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8.9
Nightwing (2011) #20

May 15, 2013

It's clear that Higgins is having fun with his take on the darker side of vigilante justice and it's hard not to have fun right along with him. The Prankster is just the kind of dramatic foil a character like Dick Grayson needs; he's sly, quick-witted, and has the strength of his convictions behind him. Higgins is taking us for a ride that promises to be a good one.

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9.2
Nightwing (2011) #21

Jun 12, 2013

The series has been on a general upswing since Nightwing's relocation to the Windy City, and Higgins and company are showing no signs of slowing down.

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9.1
Nightwing (2011) #22

Jul 10, 2013

As a storyteller, Higgins' strength is that he's determined to give you your money's worth. In a medium dependent on the serial format, it's easy to feel unsatisfied by the brevity of comic books, but not so with this installment of Nightwing. Higgins lets the story unravel as he builds the world of Chicago's dark underbelly piece by piece, showing us the problematic machinations of its politicians, media, and costumed anti-heroes.

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7.7
Nightwing (2011) #23

Aug 14, 2013

Though the issue is not without its flaws, the twist on the final page is enough to keep us eager for the next installment. With Prankster poised to plunge the city into absolute disorder, Higgins proves that he still has a few cards up his sleeve to whet your appetite for more.

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7.7
Nightwing (2011) #24

Oct 9, 2013

The book's visuals are far more consistent than its story. Will Conrad maintains the energetic aesthetic that's come to define the book since Nightwing's move to Chicago, though there are few surprises to be had. The book proceeds at breakneck speed, both textually and visually, and one can't help but wonder if modulating the pace wouldn't benefit the issues to come.

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8.0
Nightwing (2011) #25

Nov 14, 2013

The issue is a bit heavy-handed in its approach, but since it's Nightwing, it works to a certain extent. Dick Grayson is, and has always been, a cheeseball, and it's fitting that his Zero Year tale would take a sentimental turn. Visually, Will Conrad and Cliff Richards keep things appropriately dark without falling into gritty territory, a fine line to walk in a city like Gotham. The detailed art, along with Peter Pantazis' saturated color scheme, creates a world that's both bleak and hopeful, a stylistic choice that works with the book's overall sunny optimism.

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8.2
Nightwing (2011) #26

Dec 11, 2013

Visually, the book is a little overworked -- I lost count of how many panels were tilted at a jaunty angle, seemingly just for kicks -- and the style does little to enhance the story at hand. Will Conrad (who's joined on art duties by Cliff Richards) clearly has a handle on the aesthetic readers have come to expect from the book, but a less-is-more approach would have benefited this particular issue. Overall, it's a solid first step into the next chapter of Nightwing's adventures in the Windy City, and the surprise appearance of a familiar face on the book's last page is sure to signal a shake-up in issues to come.

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8.9
Nightwing (2011) #29

Mar 12, 2014

In a fortuitous and clever act of saving the best for last, the book's art, by Dauterman and colorist Pete Pantazis, is some of the best the series has seen. The violence of Nightwing's fight with Zsasz, the grief imbued in his memories, and the absolute joy of taking flight is brought to life beautifully. The full page splash of a smiling Dick leaping across a city's crumbling skyline is the heart of the character filtered into a single image, and the final page, showing him zipping up the Nightwing emblem on his chest, a small grin tugging at the corners of his lips, is the farewell the title deserves.

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6.5
Pariah #1

Feb 26, 2014

There is little to no background provided to tether the reader to the faces and events of Pariah. We aren't given much of a reason to care about the fate of the people on this ship. At one point, the narrator considers his impending doom, and his first response is "So what?" Funnily, that was mine as well. The desire to start with an action-packed scene is understandable, but before you can raise the stakes on the reader, you have to make them care.

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7.8
Peter Panzerfaust #9

Feb 14, 2013

Artist Tyler Jenkins proves himself to be a master manipulator of light and dark as he lends an almost chiaroscuro effect to the clash between Hook's militaristic cruelty and Peter's steely resolve. Heather Breckel pulls her weight on colors, muting the palette to match the dismal proceedings as needed. While the issue could have used a little less talking and a little more action, the strength of its psychological exploration into two opposing forces -- Hook and Peter -- manages to keep it interesting, if a touch long-winded.

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6.9
Peter Panzerfaust #10

Mar 13, 2013

One can feel the blueprints for greatness simmering under the surface and indeed, this same creative team has delivered it before, but issue #10 feels like a missed opportunity to breathe fresh life into the world of Peter Panzerfaust. Hopefully, as Peter and his friends finds a renewed zeal in their struggle against the Nazis, Wiebe and company will likewise get their groove back.

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8.8
Peter Panzerfaust #11

Jun 12, 2013

While Peter (a tertiary character here) and the gang launch guerrilla style attacks on Nazi targets, a greater menace looms just off the page. Hook doesn't make an appearance in this issue, but his presence is felt through the introduction of a few of his nasty friends. It's nice to see Wiebe and Jenkins roar back with a strong issue like this, and I, for one, and looking forward to more of Felix's battle-hardened voice.

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9.7
Polarity #1

Apr 3, 2013

When Tim discovers that not all of his delusions are products of his addled consciousness, the realization does not mitigate the power of what came before. Bemis' plot twist doesn't negate the character's mental illness but rather places him in a situation in which he will have to navigate the murky waters of his own psyche while delving into a mystery that not even his manic paranoia could have concocted. Bemis puts his protagonist through the ringer in more ways than one as he learns that reality may indeed be stranger than the elaborate fictions in his head.

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7.3
Polarity #3

Jun 5, 2013

Jorge Coelho's art is still good, but again, it doesn't quite achieve the levels of creativity anduniquenessthat drove the series' first issue. The sense of spiraling madness is gone, replaced with a more straightforward aesthetic. Felipe Sobreiro's colors, however, are still wonderfully inventive. Sepia-toned flashbacks are offset by an almost grimy cityscape that nicely echoes the feel of modern day Brooklyn. Overall, Polarity might not have lived up the promise of the first issue, but the book's story and visuals are still interesting enough to keep us tuning in for more.

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9.2
Pretty Deadly #1

Oct 23, 2013

There's a lot going on, plot-wise, and the issue might have benefitted from the jumbo-size treatment. Or maybe that's just greed talking. Pretty Deadly #1 is a thoroughly original concept with ambitious execution to back it up. If you're not adding it to your pull list, you're missing out on something truly exciting.

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7.7
Pretty Deadly #2

Nov 27, 2013

The confused plot does little to detract from Emma Rios' achingly beautiful art and Jordie Bellaire's expert coloring. The visuals are reason alone to add it to one's weekly pull list, though the writing has yet to catch up to the art's brilliance.

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9.0
Pretty Deadly #3

Dec 19, 2013

The cycles of life, death, loss, and discovery are played out through this spectral assortment of damaged souls, and the book's visuals capture that sense of ephemeral doom. Rios' art conjures a delicate sort of beauty from darkness both literal and metaphorical, while Jordie Bellaire's colors bestow even the bloodiest of events with a vicious, violent elegance. It's rare to see the type of ambition behind a book such as this so artfully executed, but the creators behind Pretty Deadly have concocted an epic that demands to be read.

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9.0
Pretty Deadly #5

Apr 2, 2014

Rios' work is as much art as it is fable. The sophistication of her visual storytelling, combined with Jordie Bellaire's violent colors creates a world like no other in comics. Pretty Deadly pushes at the limits of medium, challenging our ideas of what comics can be, and issue #5 drives that point home with a self-assured swagger that leaves us desperately wanting more.

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5.0
Real Heroes #1

Mar 26, 2014

After nine pages of pointless action, we're introduced to the actors. Then they're introduced to monsters they thought only existed in fiction. Hitch's art is serviceable but even the visuals rely heavily on existing superhero cliches that do little to make the book stand out. Overall, Real Heroes could have been a good idea had the execution been up to snuff.

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7.9
Red Hood And The Outlaws #17

Feb 20, 2013

Visually, there are far too many cooks in the kitchen with Red Hood and the Outlaws. Three different artists -- Ardian Syaf, Robson Rocha, and Ken Lashley -- makes for wildly inconsistent art and some transitions are so startling that characters look like completely different people from one page to the next. Since Kenneth Rocafort's departure, the series has struggled to find its footing visually and it's only thanks to Lobdell's writing that the uneven artwork is less distracting than it could be.

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9.0
Red Hood And The Outlaws #18

Mar 20, 2013

Artist Tyler Kirkham excels when it comes to page-defying tableaus but some of the issue's strongest segments are the quieter moments where restraint speaks louder than action. The juxtaposition of Jason's nightmare dreamscape with the tense silence of his sickroom is handled nicely and Kirkham's silent but powerful final page is an emotional moment that's been a long time coming, both for Jason Todd and his fans.

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5.5
Red Hood And The Outlaws #19

Apr 17, 2013

In this issue, Tynion seems to be latching on to a formula that didn't work for Lobdell and doesn't quite work here. RHatO has been treated largely as a Jason Todd solo title and Tynion's emphasis on Kori and Roy Harper highlights the fact that the "Outlaws" are woefully underdeveloped as characters in their own right. In terms of the interpersonal relationships between the trio, Tynion is rehashing themes introduced by Lobdell a year ago without adding much to the mix. What RHatO desperately needs is a fresh start, and Tynion seems to agree. With the reboot at the end of the issue, it's possible that we'll get an entirely new team dynamic as Tynion settles into his run.

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4.5
Red Hood And The Outlaws #20

May 15, 2013

Human beings are amalgams of all the things they've experienced -- good and bad -- and our personalities are built from memories. Since Red Hood's personal journey was the only thing saving this book from its own convulsed mythology, Tynion may have made a tactical error in taking his character back to square one. Likewise, the issue of Starfire's faulty memory is finally addressed but whether or not fans will be satisfied with the manner in which it's handle is up for debate.

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6.5
Red Hood And The Outlaws #21

Jun 19, 2013

The drama with the All-Caste and the Untitled shows no sign of slowing down, and the story suffers for it overall. As with previous installments of Red Hood and the Outlaws, the narrative is burdened with a bit too much of everything. The issue is a jumble of disjointed elements that don't really come together " the series could use a fresh serving of focus but whether or not it'll get it from Tynion and company remains to be seen.

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6.0
Red Hood And The Outlaws #22

Jul 24, 2013

Though some of the dialogue felt a bit forced, it was hardly the biggest problem plaguing the issue. The series is buckling under the weight of its own increasingly complex mythology that's becoming more and more removed from the core of these three characters' stories. Visually, the book is slightly less inconsistent than it has been, with artist Julius Gopez stepping up his game. Hopefully, Tynion and company will move past the cumbersome mythos that's been holding this title back, because we see promise there, even if they haven't quite reached it yet.

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7.6
Red Hood And The Outlaws Annual #1

May 29, 2013

Aside from a few awkward expressions here and there, Al Barrionuevo's art is a marked improvement.The issue's colors -- provided by Javier Mena and Bit -- are occasionally inconsistent, but when they're good, they're very good. They capture Cheshire's toxicvibrancyand the vivid hues of the Outlaws' island hideout with saturated pastels and a well-defined sense of depth. Overall, the issue provides a few good laughs and some desperately needed character development, but time will tell if it's enough to steer the series towards greater coherence.

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9.0
Red Sonja (2013) #6

Dec 19, 2013

While the conclusion to Annisia's story is arguably the issue's weakest point, the overarching theme of the narrative remains as clear as ever: the women of this world are not to be trifled with, no matter how weak they may seem. In an interesting twist of events, it isn't brawn and a sword that save the day. There are different kinds of strength, and Simone emphasizes that more subtle forms of defiance are every bit as powerful as the more obvious.

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8.6
Red Sonja (2013) #7

Feb 19, 2014

Artist Walter Geovani and colorist Adriano Lucas create a world so lush that you can practically hear the mud squish under Sonja's boots. The vivid, vibrant colors bring the dense, dark swamp to life, and Geovani's mastery of expression and framing makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read that's a perfect match for Simone's storytelling style.

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8.8
Red Sonja (2013) #8

Apr 2, 2014

Geovani's art continues to be stellar and his partnership with Simone highlights how their strengths neatly align. This Sonja is sexy without being sexualized, a woman in command of her own desires -- even if they sometimes go unfulfilled. And Adriano Lucas' colors bring the world of Red Sonja to life with lush, vibrant hues that capture the mood of the book to a tee.

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7.0
Revival #9

Apr 17, 2013

Norton's art has a deceptively simple feel to it that is well suited to Seeley's dialogue heavy scenes. The odd dutch angle here and there adds a little spice to the visuals but it's hard not to want more if you know what Norton is capable of. Seeley's script relies so strongly on one-on-one conversations in everyday domestic settings that Norton doesn't have much opportunity to go wild with the book's visuals. When he does have the chance to cut loose and stretch his legs creatively, as he does on the gory and glorious penultimate page, it's a delightfully twisted treat for the eyeballs.

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9.0
Saga #10

Feb 21, 2013

Staples' art is as lovely as ever and her strategy of less is more means that the issue's visuals have a sort of uncluttered elegance to them that is minimal without being too simplistic. Staples' artfully restrained palette, coupled with clean lines and crisp inks, adds as much to the world-building of Saga as Vaughan's script. It's rare for the textual and visual elements of a book to come together without one outshining the other, but Vaughan and Staples find a way to make it look deceptively easy.

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9.5
Saga #11

Mar 20, 2013

Fans will be glad to know that the previous issue's devastating last page finds a happy ending in Saga #11 but their joy will be short-lived as Vaughan exchanges one life for another, outdoing himself in terms of in-your-face emotional impact. At the heart of Saga is the idea that the bonds of family are the most important thing we share as individuals and that love can triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. It's a lovely thought but Vaughan also reminds us that love can also be the catalyst for the most heart-wrenching sacrifices. To tell you more would spoil the emotional resonance of the issue so I'll leave you with that, but if you haven't done so already, I heartily suggest you make a bee-line for your local comic shop, with a stop along the way to pick up a box of tissues. You're going to need it.

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8.0
Saga #12

Apr 11, 2013

After the series of hard-wrenching issue, Saga #12 lacks some of that emotional resonance by comparison, though it does offer up a few solid world-building moments that flesh out the conflict between warring factions that has left our star-crossed lovers in a pickle of cosmic proportions.

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8.5
Saga #13

Aug 14, 2013

The issue's most noticeable shortcoming is the rather abrupt ending -- it feels a bit like the book comes to more of a screeching halt than a natural stop. That quibble aside, the issue's slow pace does give us a moment to get inside the heads of a few of Vaughan and Staples' characters. Plot-heavy issues are nice, but every now and then, you've got a take a step back and let the story breathe.

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8.0
Saga #16

Nov 27, 2013

While there is a lot packed into the issue, it does feel a bit like getting from point A to point B, and it isn't until the final few pages, when we see the timelines align as Prince Robot IV comes upon Heist's house, that it feels like the story is truly picking up steam.

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9.1
Saga #17

Dec 19, 2013

Fans of the Will are likely to have their hearts broken (yet again), but again, Saga has proven itself to be a book where endings are really just beginnings in disguise.Meanwhile, at D. Oswald Heist's house, tough decisions need to be made. In a particularly grueling moment, Marko makes it clear that, should they be caught, death would be a kinder end for Hazel. Alana, understandably, makes it clear that she will move entire galaxies before allowing harm to come to their child. In a moment that mirrors her resolve, Kiara takes it upon herself to confront Prince Robot IV, who's been busy having a personal revelation about the nature of war. Again, we're reminded that conflicts are never black and white, and the opposite of war isn't peace, but life (or rather, the occasionally sloppy process that brings it into the world).

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8.8
Saga #18

Jan 29, 2014

Vaughan and Staples use Saga #18 to wrap up a few loose ends in a mostly satisfying fashion.

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8.3
Satellite Sam #1

Jul 3, 2013

After the actor who portrays Satellite Sam is murdered (so we assume), his son stumbles upon a box of racy photographs -- his father, it would appear, was not the man he seemed to be. Fraction and Chaykin imbue this mystery with sex and violence -- neither of which is displayed graphically, but sometimes, what you don't see is more powerful than what you do. Unfortunately, this juicy plot is bogged down with an overload of exposition, but if Fraction manages to clean things up in the next issue, we might have an intriguing mystery on our hands.

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6.5
Satellite Sam #2

Aug 7, 2013

Chaykin's art falls into many of the same traps that Fraction's story does. It's technically proficient (even if many of his male figures look like slightly modified clones of one another), but it doesn't demand the reader's excitement. While there is a certain pleasure in the way Chaykin's vintage style is so perfectly suited to the era at hand, one is still left with the feeling that it could be so much more. And that gets at the heart of Satellite Sam's shortcomings -- the raw material for greatness exists, but the issue feels like a missed opportunity.There's sex, death, and live television, but it's not nearly as satisfying as it sounds.

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7.0
Satellite Sam #3

Sep 4, 2013

Perhaps there are too many moving parts to Satellite Sam. So far -- and this installment is no exception -- the series has been on the verge of devolving into character stew. One wonders if a more focused look on Michael's investigation into his father's shady lifestyle wouldn't have benefited the overall narrative. As it stands, his storyline is the single interesting thread in the entire issue, and the contrived deviance of the rest of the cast feels like little more than window dressing.

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9.0
Serenity: Leaves On The Wind #1

Jan 29, 2014

Serenity came out years ago, so one would think it would be hard to slip back into the feel of Firefly, but the issue fits like your favorite pair of jeans. It feels like only yesterday that River took the controls of the ship, and Whedon nails each character's voice perfectly, from Mal's lovably grouchiness to Kaylee's unflagging optimism. Likewise, Jeanty captures the claustrophobic feel of life aboard the ship, although consistency in character depictions is a bit uneven. Overall, it's a fantastic set-up that's bound to make readers lament the fact that it's just a mini-series.

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9.5
Sex Criminals #1

Sep 25, 2013

Soon enough we're whisked back in time to Suzanne's unconventional origin story. She discovers her power to freeze time (and people) the exact moment she discovers the joy of orgasm in her bathtub. Her childhood has been indelibly impacted by the untimely and unjust murder of her father -- a tragedy that has made many a hero. But Suzanne doesn't take to the shadows and mold herself into a crusading avenger. The decision to gift Suzanne with a relatively healthy personal life (and love interest in Jonathan) is part of what makes Sex Criminals so refreshing. These characters have extraordinary abilities, but they are utterly -- and delightfully -- ordinary. The first issue is a solid beginning and our interest is definitely piqued.

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9.8
Sex Criminals #2

Oct 23, 2013

Zdarsky's art is every bit as playful and charming as the script, though he does manage to imbue our mysterious, monochromatic villains with a uniquely menacing tone. The soft swirls surrounding the pair of temporally gifted lovers add a hint of fantasy to an otherwise emotionally realistic drama. While there is a superpowered heist in the works, Sex Criminals doesn't read like speculative fiction. At its heart -- at least in the past two issues -- it's a coming of age story (no pun intended, but we're going to roll with it), and one that's so addictive, you'll find yourself staring at the last page in horror when you realize you'll have to wait another month to find out what happens next.

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8.0
Sex Criminals #4

Jan 8, 2014

A few details about the mysterious (and terrifying) white-clad authority figures who show up to spoil the bank-robbing fun. The head of the pack is, funnily enough, a soccer mom during the day. It's an interesting detail, but a largely superficial one. We've yet to discover how she learned of Jon and Suzie's abilities, or the nature of the shadowy organization for which she works, though with the way the book ends, it's likely that issue #5 will come bearing the answers we so desperately crave.

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7.8
Sex Criminals #5

Mar 19, 2014

In terms of art, Sex Criminals #5 keeps things consistent. The Quiet is still lusciously rendered while the visual pacing keeps the story moving along at respectable pace. The book's rich and vibrant colors are an interesting match with its no-frills art, and the play between light, dark, and deeply saturated hues creates an aesthetic that is uniquely Sex Criminals. With the way the book ends, it'll be interesting to see where Zdarsky and Fraction take our intrepid not-quite-heroes next.

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9.0
Sheltered #1

Jul 10, 2013

With its startling conclusion and inventive set-up, the team behind Sheltered is off to a stellar start. It's getting harder and harder to put a fresh spin on end-of-the-world narratives, but Brisson and Christmas have made it look easy.

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7.8
Sheltered #2

Aug 7, 2013

While the issue doesn't quite match the tightly plotted pace of the first, it's still a solid installment in a series with grade A premise.

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9.2
Sheltered #3

Sep 4, 2013

While last month's installment was something of a lull after the jaw-dropping twist at the end of the first, issue #3 proves that Sheltered rightfully deserves its place on your pull list. If you're not already reading along, now's the time to hop on board.

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7.7
Snapshot #1

Feb 6, 2013

There are no heroes in Snapshot #1 unless you count the incomparable Jock, whose black and white art lends an aesthetic sophistication to an otherwise middling narrative. The issue is rescued from its own doldrums by a clever twist on the final page, when Diggle raises the stakes to such a degree that one wonders if the poor, hapless Jake will ever be able to keep up. It was enough to pique this reader's waning interest and one hopes that the next issue delivers on this book's promising end.

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9.1
Snapshot #2

Mar 6, 2013

After a relatively slow start in the first issue, Diggle makes sure the plot thickens in the second, as Jake teams up with Callie Twain, whose father met his untimely denis in the previous issue. Callie brings with her some answers but those, of course, lead to only more questions. Is it April yet? Because Jake and I need answers.

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7.5
Snapshot #3

Apr 3, 2013

Sometimes the fun of a mystery is in not knowing what lies behind the curtain. As Diggle pulls back that curtain on the truth at the heart of Snapshot, one begins to wonder if he can live up to the promise of the series' issue in next month's grand finale.

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7.0
Sons of Anarchy #1

Sep 11, 2013

While it's only the first issue and much is yet to be revealed, Sons of Anarchy #1 doesn't quite hit the Shakespearean high notes that the show embodies. That being said, I'm intrigued enough to stick around to find out what happens in next month's issue.

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7.2
Sovereign #1

Mar 19, 2014

The narrative structure can work well with longer works, but its shortcomings are highlighted here. First up is the most curious: A band of wanderers called the Luminari encounter the unseemly problem of the dead rising with a thirst for carnage. The next section focusing on the horselords has definite Dothraki (intentional or otherwise) and shows a prince torn between his desire for glory and the need for political maneuvering. The third and final section brings us full circle to the undead attacking, but the liberal peppering of terms like "devout Lorianist" do little to flesh out the world.

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8.8
Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller #1

Mar 26, 2014

Coelho's pencils, Hanna's inks, and Andrew Dalhouse's colors create for a visual style that isn't overly innovative, but there are a few artistic gems to ogle, including an evocative play on a standard twelve-panel layout during a plane crash and a clever use of silhouettes after. For a book that's full of so many explosions, it's remarkable how human the story feels. We see Waller negotiating with the cost of her soul and by the final page, we learn that sometimes, there are no heroes and villains. Just tragic stories with tragic endings.

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7.7
Superman/Wonder Woman #1

Oct 9, 2013

While the issue isn't without its flaws, its strong characterization and impactful art enough to leave me wanting more.

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9.5
Superman/Wonder Woman #2

Nov 14, 2013

Also, there's a blink-and-you-miss-it camel decapitation. Take from that what you will.

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8.6
Superman/Wonder Woman #4

Jan 16, 2014

Fans of Faora (which sounds like the name of a support group I'll probably soon be starting) will be pleased to see her make an appearance at the end of the issue, though Zod's characterization thus far remains a little off-kilter. But our interest is most certainly piqued, and it'll be fun to watch how his machinations play out in next month's issue.

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7.8
Superman: Lois Lane #1

Feb 26, 2014

The book strives to transcend the relative simplicity of the main plot by dealing in a more literary form of narration than one might expect, given the subject matter, though the repetition becomes a bit heavy-handed after a while. The running theme of the scars left behind in the wake of trauma -- both physical and psychological -- is a powerful theme, but it could have benefited from a touch more subtlety.

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7.8
Teen Titans (2011) #16

Jan 30, 2013

The issue's greatest failing is its overabundance of ambition. Lobdell's story tries to cram in the Red Hood/Red Robin team-up, the Joker, the Outlaws, the Teen Titans, and a surprise appearance by Trigon and Company, and the end result feels more than a little bloated for a single issue. Ultimately, it's a solid addition to the Death of the Family arc, but the book's greatest strength lay in its guest stars, so the prognosis for next month is hazy at best.

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5.1
Teen Titans (2011) #17

Feb 27, 2013

In this issue, Lobdell and Nicieza tread territory familiar to fans of Tim Drake's tenure as a member of the no longer canonical Young Justice. The team wants to learn the mystery of their fearless leader's identity, but Tim is forced to play his cards close to his chest, lest he open the floodgates into Batman's cave of secrecy. The "It's not my secret to tell card" is a story we've seen before and it feels stale in the pages of this new but not entirely improved Teen Titans. Raven's plot thread is similarly overdone and by the issue's end, you'll be grasping at straws to find something fresh and original.

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3.9
Teen Titans (2011) #18

Mar 27, 2013

Eddy Barrows and Rodney Buchemi split art duties on the issue, but surprisingly that isn't the book's biggest visual problem. Overcrowded panels, curious and uncomfortable expressions, and a slightly dated vibe combined with Alex Sinclair's excessively glossy and dark palette do the issue few favors. Overall, Teen Titans #18 is a mess of ambition that fails to coalesce into something coherent by its end.

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6.5
The Colonized #1

Apr 11, 2013

This intersection of three very different tropes might coalesce into something more coherent as the series progresses but the foundation Ryall has laid out is a little shakier than one might like. Hopefully, he finds his feet in coming issues because this premise is too delightfully twisted to ignore.

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9.0
The Fearless Defenders #1

Feb 6, 2013

Veronica Gandini's colors are slick and sophisticated and while Will Sliney's art is technically proficient for the most part, it does occasionally fall into cheesecake territory, with more than its fair share of bizarrely contorted spines and overly prominent T & A. The prevalence of back-breaking hypersexual poses " Misty Knight is a frequent victim of anatomical impossibility " is disappointing considering how well-written and thoroughly badass Bunn's ladies are. The women of Fearless Defenders deserve better. But if one can look past the impossibly protruding chests and mind-bogglingly rotund derrieres, this a series not to be missed.

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7.1
The Fearless Defenders #2

Mar 13, 2013

As Bunn introduces a slew of new female characters, including the depowered but no less formidable Dani Moonstar, each bringing their own brand of verve and vigor to the mix, one can't help but wonder if Will Sliney's art is necessarily the best fit for the book.

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7.9
The Fearless Defenders #3

Apr 11, 2013

Bunn ups the ante with the issue's conclusion, which sees one of her Fearless Defenders confronting with something she just might fear more than death itself.

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7.9
The Fearless Defenders #4

May 8, 2013

Will Sliney's art has shown some marked improvements over just the course of four issues even though Valkyrie's boob armor still defies explanation. He does do some great action pieces and the scene of Valkyrie's flashback to her moment Asgard with Odin is beautifully amplified by Veronica Gandini's colors. Now that the personalities of the Fearless Defenders are slotting into place and the shady force behind the rise of the Doom Maidens is amping up her villainy, The Fearless Defenders is shaping up to be one of the more unique and enjoyable titles in Marvel's monthly lineup.

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8.5
The Fearless Defenders #5

Jun 5, 2013

Will Sliney's art has been somewhat less concerned with the tiny-waisted, large-breasted idealization of the female form, but it's still toeing the line into cheesecake territory here. That being said, his action sequences are fun and dynamic, if you ignore the Same Face Syndrome plaguing the book's cast. AS always, Veronica Gandini's colors are vivid and saturated, lending a vibrancy to the world of The Fearless Defenders that's as colorful as its characters. So, if you're looking for a book that's unabashedly fun and you're not reading this series . . . look at your life. Look at your choices.

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9.3
The Fearless Defenders #7

Jul 31, 2013

Visually, Stephanie Hans has provided the kind of art this title deserves. Her fluid, flowing lines and soft yet rich colors create a dreamlike ambience that brings to life the ethereal nature of the afterlife.There's an energy to the book's visuals that is equal parts elegant and exciting. Bunn and Hans make for a hell of a team and issue #7 proves to be one of the series' best yet.

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6.9
The Fearless Defenders #8

Aug 14, 2013

The title's overabundance of characters can sometimes feel like an embarrassment of riches, but this time, it feels more like an obstacle to coherence. Bunn does an impressive job juggling so many faces, old and new, but the story might be better served by slimming down the cast to more manageable proportions. Simply put, it's hard to invest in characters when keeping track of them requires a spreadsheet.

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8.8
The Fearless Defenders #9

Sep 11, 2013

Like I said, The Fearless Defenders #9 isn't perfect, but who cares about perfection when a comic book is as fun as this?

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8.8
The Fearless Defenders #12

Dec 5, 2013

While the series doesn't come to the neatest end -- the end of Caroline Le Fay's main story was really just the beginning of another -- the team's dynamics, when all is said and done, should please fans eager for some kind of closure. The second to last page features them standing together, triumphant, right over the label "The Most Fabulous Fighting Team of All," and even through the series' ups and downs, it's a hard claim to argue with.

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7.8
The Field #1

Apr 2, 2014

Roy's art is equally peculiar. The exaggerated expressions of his characters verge of malformed, and the glee he takes in depicting a bloody slaughter works with the book's absurdist second act. Simon Gough's colors fluctuate with the tone, and while they fit each scene, they highlight the uneasy juxtaposition of moods. It's too early to tell what's really going on in The Field, but that mysterious cell phone is interesting enough to make us want to find out.

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7.9
The Green Team #1

May 22, 2013

Ig Guara's art has a youthful energy that's infectious enough to bolster some of the story's less successful parts. There's an energy to The Green Team that vibrates through his figures and they all but jump off the page during his action scenes. Altogether, it's a solid start for the series and once we get to know these characters beyond the broad brushstrokes of their personalities, it'll be interesting to see what's in store for them.

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6.8
The Green Team #2

Jun 26, 2013

This second issue still feels like Baltazar and Franco are laying the groundwork for the real story, but with the stakes rising on the book's final page, we might finally get a much-needed payoff next month.

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6.0
The Green Team #3

Jul 24, 2013

Visually, it's a pretty well designed book. Ig Guara's pencils capture all the explosive detail of the narrative, with a keen attention to detail. Likewise, J.P. Mayer and Wil Quintana put in a solid effort on inks and colors, respectively. Hopefully, once the writing team has progressed beyond these early growing pains, we'll see a little more creative growth from the entire team to really bring what's missing to this floundering title.

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8.6
The Legend of Luther Strode #3

Feb 27, 2013

Trad Moore's art maintains its kinetic energy as his figures fly across the page with a easy sense of motion. Felipe Sobreiro's colors seem to be getting better with each issue -- and he was no slouch to begin with -- as he capitalizes on Jordan's narrative rhythm to create an aesthetic that is both vibrantly realistic and deftly original. At the end of the issue, the stage is set for a battle of epic proportions between two superhuman titans but considering Jordan's unpredictable cast of characters, one can safely assume that the oncoming brouhaha will be anything but simple.

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7.9
The Legend of Luther Strode #4

Mar 27, 2013

Artist Trad Moore has been upping the ante with every issue and The Legend of Luther Strode #4 is no exception. Although the mid-fight dialogue leaves something to be desired, Moore's art is more than enough to keep your eyes glued to the page as his figures stretch -- and occasionally downright violate -- the limits of physics as they careen across panels. Likewise Felipe Sobreiro's colors are almost violent in their intensity, a perfect match for Moore's kinetic visuals.

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8.0
The Legend of Luther Strode #5

May 15, 2013

As much fun as The Legend of Luther Strode had proven to be over the past five issues, it is undeniable that there might not be quite enough plot to go around. The interminable fight scene that feels like it's gone on for twice as many issues as there in the entire series is somewhat resolved though if it weren't for Trad Moore's masterful visuals, the issue might have felt a little thin on meaty plot. It's easy to overlook the book's shortcomings when Moore serves up such a vibrant visual feast of richly saturated colours and kinetic line work. Hopefully, next issue will see the perfect blend of plot, voice and art that have all had their chance to shine separately if not all at once.

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8.5
The Movement #1

May 1, 2013

Williams' art has some quality issues, particularly when it comes to anatomical consistency. His pencils do add a bit of grittiness that feels at home with Simone's setting. The book's colors, provided by Chris Sotomayor, are so rich and saturated that you can almost feel the grime of Coral City's sleazy underbelly.

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9.0
The Movement #2

Jun 5, 2013

The Movement's first issue set the stage, but as we move deeper into the landscape of Coral City, the creative team proves that they're only just getting started. With the last page's introduction of a character who might shake up the already precarious situation our characters find themselves in, it seems like things are about to get interesting.

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8.9
The Movement #3

Jul 3, 2013

Simone manages to balance humor with menace in a way few writers can. Mouse is proving to be this title's go-to comic relief, but even Burden is given his chance to cleverly quip. Virtue continues to act as the group's moral compass, and the book ends with her delivering Coral City's police chief an ultimatum that neatly bookends the theme of the issue: You're with us, or you're against us.Less fully realized are The Movement's villains -- they're about as one dimensional as they come. They're greedy, vile, and corrupt in the worst possible ways. Should Simone inject as much nuance into her baddies as she does into her heroes, The Movement will be a tough book to beat.

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7.9
The Movement #4

Aug 7, 2013

Visually, Freddie Williams II's art is as frenetic as Simone's story. There's a wild sort of energy to The Movement that reflects the social combustion occurring on the page. It's not clean and pretty, but neither is violent rebellion. Williams' grittiness Chris Sotomayor's colors to bring the world of The Movement to life. With Simone fleshing out this motley crew of misfits, I hope that coming issues continue to expand the portrait of a city in turmoil that the creative team is so diligently crafting.

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8.2
The Movement #6

Nov 7, 2013

While the rest of his team is busy having epiphanies, Mouse gets caught up with a gaggle of fairly forgettable villains, led by the cunning Cornea Killer. Artist Freddie Williams III does some of his best work in Mouse's and Burden's scenes as his rough-hewn style suits the tone of their stories. Likewise, Rafael Albuquerque's colors brings the world of The Movement to a sickly, deeply saturated life. While we probably could have done without the overabundance of baddies, issue #6 is a solid outing overall.

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7.8
The Movement #7

Dec 5, 2013

The issue's other story lines -- featuring the aftermath of Mouse's torture, comedically corrupt cops, Burden's sexual awakening, the Cornea Killer's daddy issues, and the kitchen sink -- don't fare as well, not because they're aren't interesting, but because there simply aren't enough pages in the book to give them the time they deserve. Freddie Williams' art is heavy on the details, which gives the issue a thematically appropriate crowded feel, and his vision of Coral City as an urban dystopia makes Gotham look like Disneyland. Hopefully, future issues will be somewhat more focused, because the elements for greatness are all there, they're just a bit overwhelmed at this point.

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7.5
The Movement #8

Jan 8, 2014

The book's other major plot involves the not-as-corrupt-as-we-initially-thought Coral City police department. Officer Yee's conscience got the better of him in the previous issue, and he takes a mighty beating for it from his former partner for it here. The entire subplot seems intent on humanizing the otherwise thoroughly detestable organization that's as much of a scourge on the city as the Cornea Killer himself. There are shades of Commissioner Gordon in Captain Meers, one of the few decent people in a morally anemic police force. It's an interesting dynamic that's sure to see an even more interesting twist considering the surprise guest star the book's final page. Okay, so it's not much a surprise if you've been reading the solicits, but I shan't spoil it for you here. But you'll like it, I promise.

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8.2
The Rocketeer / The Spirit: Pulp Friction #1

Jul 24, 2013

There's a lot of set-up in this issue, which is to be expected considering it's only the first one, but the strength of Waid's writing is enough to leave us wanting more.

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4.1
The Savage Hawkman #16

Jan 30, 2013

Though rumors of the title's cancellation broke earlier this week, it remains to be seen exactly which issue, if any, will be Savage Hawkman's last. While it's always sad to see the plug pulled on a book before its time, one can argue, with a certain amount of authority considering how issue #16 limped along, that the time is just about right to stick a fork in Savage Hawkman.

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9.5
The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys #1

Jun 12, 2013

Familiarity with My Chemical Romance's Danger Days album adds a certain depth to the story, but the comic is still a good read without it. It's a testament to Way, Simon, and Cloonan's storytelling ability that the vibrant world of the Killyjoys retains the musical quality of its origins while doing something uniquely refreshing.

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8.0
The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys #2

Jul 10, 2013

Hopefully, the coming issues will see the people who populate the world of the The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys become as well-developed as their environment. Way, Simon, and Cloonan are on the brink of something brilliant, even if they haven't hit it quite yet.

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9.2
The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys #4

Sep 11, 2013

These are all heavy philosophical questions, and Way, Simon, and Cloonan carry them on their backs as though they were weightless. Bigger picture concerns are handled more deftly than some of the plot's finer details, but overall, it's a stellar issue that is both thought-provoking and engaging.

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9.6
The Wake #1

May 29, 2013

It's rare to have every aspect of a book's creation come together in perfect harmony, but The Wake shows just how beautiful it is when it happens. Snyder's three-part narrative structure adds a touch of doom and gloom to the story, while the visuals are equally essential in crafting the world of The Wake. It's a wildly successful start to a ten-issue series that's sure to inspire equal amounts of terror and intrigue.

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9.7
The Wake #3

Jul 31, 2013

While it may sound hyperbolic, The Wake is as close to an ideal comic book as I've come across. The text and visuals come together in an unsettling sort of harmony, while the tightly paced plot is guaranteed to pull you under.

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8.5
The Wake #4

Sep 25, 2013

That being said, Murphy's atmospheric art is enough to forgive the book its handful of trespasses. The visual effect of the rig's cramped spaces and confined quarters jacks up the tension to almost palpable levels. While the fourth issue isn't the strongest we've seen in the series, it's still a solid step along the path. And I really, really want to know why there were cannons in the very distant past.

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9.0
The Wake #7

Mar 26, 2014

The atmosphere created by the book's visuals lends itself to that sense of the iconic while balancing it with the grittier reality of Leeward's situation. The ship-sized Mer that attacks the vessel she's on is almost godlike compared to her and the full page splash that depicts its fury is a masterclass on using color, shadow, and shape to evoke a sensation of awe.Murphy's art and Snyder's writing are so intimately intwined with each other that it's impossible to imagine The Wake without either one at the helm.

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6.2
The White Suits #1

Feb 19, 2014

There's a lot going on here; the White Suits are back on the scene, while the lords of the underworld struggle to grapple with the new threat. Meanwhile, an amnesiac narrator finally confronts the mysterious woman who's been tailing him. All potentially interesting plot points, but the narrative feels like it lacks the connective tissue to bind all of these elements together. While this might be a case of a story not being done justice by a monthly issue format, the debut of White Suits falls flat more often than it soars.

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9.0
The Witching Hour (2013) #1

Oct 2, 2013

And last, but certainly not least, there's Mariah Huehner and Tula Lotay's "Rise," a masterfully executed tale of ghostly possession and the very human lust for vengeance. Huehner writes a main character that's knowable from the first page, but Lotay's art is the real star. Her delicate lines and layers of ethereal colors provide a fitting end to a collection of stories designed to stick with you the way good horror should.

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7.5
Tomb Raider #1

Feb 26, 2014

Though it may be unfair, it's hard not to compare the lush visual landscape of the game to Selma's art. Tomb Raider #1 is bright and sparsely detailed, a stark contrast to the dark, dense world of Yamatai. While it would have been nice to see more detail in the book's art (it feels relatively spartan), you can argue that the sunny palette is thematically relevant. This is Lara, post-Yamatai. She should be safe and healing. But alas, since nothing ever comes that easily, she's not given the chance to.

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7.9
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #2

Feb 27, 2013

Overall, it's a solid second issue that focuses primarily on setting up the action to come and with the appearance of the Avengers at the end of the issue, next month's installment should have that in spades.

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8.0
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #3

Mar 13, 2013

It is perhaps a stylistic quirk, but it's also worth nothing that in Bachalo's world, skin only comes in one shade of tan. Limited racial palette side, the colors are one of the issue's stronger visual elements overall. The art, while inconsistent, isn't flawed enough to detract from the strength of Bendis' narrative as his band of mutant misfits finally hit their stride as a team.

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7.7
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #5

Apr 24, 2013

Moreover, Emma Frost has always been a master at managing her own sexuality and understanding that there is power in how she chooses to deploy it. One could assume that such a character would have a greater appreciation for her students learning to manipulate the way other people respond to them. It's a fleeting moment but an important one nonetheless. No doubt, many readers will pass it by without a second thought but anyone who has ever felt the helpless fury inspired by the line "Learn to take a compliment, ladies" will notice it in a way I don't think Bendis intended.

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9.8
Veil #1

Mar 5, 2014

The genius behind Veil lies in its linguistic construction. The book opens with several pages of eery silence, brought to life by Fejzula's eerie, atmospheric art and subdued yet colorful palette. Over the course of the issue, the girl's grasp of language evolves from silence to nonsense to a nascent self-awareness. It's difficult to balance whimsical wonderment with blood-tinged violence, but Rucka and Fejzula make it look disturbingly effortless. This is one mystery that is not to be missed.

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7.9
Veil #2

Apr 2, 2014

Visually, Veil is a stunning endeavor. Fejzula's art maintains that ethereal quality that made it so special the first time around, while balancing out the light airiness with a generous dash of violence that manages to feel shocking without being gratuitous. Overall, it's a solid issue that brings up a slew of interesting questions for forthcoming installments.

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9.7
Velvet #1

Oct 23, 2013

Velvet Templeton is no Bond girl, nor is she a feminized Bond. She is a complicated, conflicted character with an espionage skill set that's gone somewhat rusty with disuse but is no less impressive. Epting's art brings Velvet and her surroundings to life; the combination of his masterful framing and Elizabeth Breitweiser's atmospheric colors lend a cinematic quality to the book's art. The story's visual and textual elements combine to create something truly unique, and Velvet is a series not to be missed.

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9.2
Velvet #2

Dec 5, 2013

The bulk of the book focuses on Velvet's escape through the streets of London, and it's her voice that carries us through. In just two issues, the creative team has developed a character that's three-dimensional. Her internal strength and resourcefulness are as evident in her body language as they are in her narration. The sense of urgency is palpable on every page. We're there with Velvet as she plots escape routes, daringly steals moving motorcycles, and bashes in more than a few heads. It's the kind of book that leaves you deeply unsatisfied when you reach the last page, not because it was inadequate, but because you've run out of pages and have to wait weeks for more.

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8.6
Velvet #3

Jan 15, 2014

Once again, Epting and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser put a cracking good show when it comes to the book's visuals. The world of Velvet is as sleek and sexy as any in the genre, but their work adds a dash of gloomy sophistication to the proceedings that dovetails nicely with the narrative at hand.

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8.0
Velvet #4

Mar 5, 2014

The book's plot quite isn't the home run previous issues have been. Yet again, Velvet is following a lead that will hopefully shed some light on her situation, but the formula is starting to feel a bit repetitive. Velvet adopts a disguise, beats some people up, and gets a slim scrap of information that will guide her next step. At the end of this issue, the personal nature of that information (I won't spoil it for you here) brings the mystery full circle for Velvet, but the emotional payout of the revelation isn't quite there. Yet.

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7.2
Worlds' Finest #10

Mar 6, 2013

While the main storyline of World's Finest leaves something to be desired, Levitz does set up an interesting dichotomy between Huntress and Power Girl's wildly different personalities. Huntress is the head and Power Girl is the heart and that's why they make such a good team. My only wish is that these two opposing yet complimentary characters see their differences better utilized in a storyline that situates the dynamic of the partnership as an integral part of the narrative in future issues.

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9.5
X #1

May 8, 2013

X hovers over the majority of the issue as a sort of vengeful ghost, dealing out brutal vigilante justice as he sees fit. X finds himself in a vulnerable position towards the book's end as his path crosses with Leigh's and I can't wait to see how this reluctant partnership between two exceptionally different characters will play out. X #1 is a promising new start and it's an issue not to be missed.

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8.5
Young Avengers (2013) #3

Mar 27, 2013

Artist Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton team up with colorist Matthew Wilson to create an overall look and feel that is uniquely Young Avengers. The book's aesthetic is vibrant, youthful, and fun without sacrificing an ounce of sophistication. If the legwork that Gillen is putting in here is anything to go by, once he and his Young Avengers hit their stride, this title might very well be one of the best team books from Marvel but there's still a ways to go before it lives up to its promise.

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9.5
Young Avengers (2013) #4

Apr 24, 2013

McKelvie's art is as bright and energetic as Gillen's writing. His innovative layouts are a refreshing change from the standard fare we usually see and his double page spread of Noh-Varr's high-flying stunts is a special delight. Now that our Young Avengers are coalescing into a team, their individual voices are beginning to shine through. Gillen and McKelvie deliver another solid issue in a series that's quickly becoming a highlight of Marvel's monthly lineup.

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9.5
Young Avengers (2013) #5

May 22, 2013

Young Avengers #5 ends with a team bonded through circumstance, but no less formidable because of it. Now that Gillen has solidified his core cast of characters, it'll be interesting to see what he's got in store for them next. Ten bucks it includes some "hot make out" time.

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8.5
Young Avengers (2013) #8

Jul 24, 2013

While it isn't the most exciting installment in the Young Avengers series thus far, issue #8 does provide a few nifty character moments with a surprise twist at the end that's bound to shake things up.

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8.0
Young Avengers (2013) #9

Aug 28, 2013

Though the issue raises more questions than it answers, it's a solid inclusion in the overall story arc, and I'm excited to see where Gillen and company take it going forward.

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8.0
Young Avengers (2013) #10

Sep 25, 2013

While important events do occur in Young Avengers #10, the issue feels a bit like a bridge between #9 and whatever the team has in store for us in #11. The book is an elaborate setting of the stage, which doesn't make it the most exciting addition to the series, even if it does feel like a necessary one.

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8.5
Young Avengers (2013) #11

Oct 23, 2013

Penciller Jamie McKelvie (along with inkers Mike Norton and Kris Anka) continues to deliver the goods on art, enriching the cast with the level of nuanced expression we've come to expect from Young Avengers. Colorist Matthew Wilson has a few bright moments, particularly during Loki's more epic moments. Overall, the book's consistent quality when it comes to the art is one of the more reliable elements of the series thus far, even when the story wanes from the greatness it's achieved in previous issues.

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9.8
Young Avengers (2013) #13

Dec 5, 2013

This issue is where such timely life revelations happen. Noh-Varr comes to an important conclusion regarding his relationship with Kate, just as Teddy and Billy meet at a crossroads in theirs.A slightly more grown-up Loki (complete with 90's boy band hair) has an awakening of his own that's appropriately externalized. Young Avengers, as a series, has always been about the struggle for identity, and as Wiccan flits across a dazzling array of panels, we see that our past may shape us, but it doesn't have to define us.

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9.3
Young Avengers (2013) #14

Dec 19, 2013

On a happier note, Billy and Teddy have sorted out their difficulties, and their chapter is a bit like a punch to the heart, albeit one you'll enjoy. Noticeably absent, however, is Loki, who took his leave at the end of the last issue. Everyone seems to have found their footing save him. Loki is both within and without, and here, amidst the revelry and the self-discovery, his absence speaks louder than words.

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9.0
Young Avengers (2013) #15

Jan 8, 2014

Once again, writer Keiron Gillen is joined by a diverse company of artists that bring to life the vibrant chaos of youth, though the transitions between styles aren't as tonally relevant as they were in Resolution Part 1. Becky Cloonan and Jordie Bellaire get the party started with bright bold colors while Noh-Varr licks his wounds and tries to be a man worthy of the woman who just dumped him. Ming Doyle, Maris Wicks, Joe Quinones provide art for the middle of the book, though the real highlight is the triumphant return of McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson for the grande finale. While we're loathe to say goodbye to a title that's been so consistently excellent, Gillen and company have provided a touching and appropriate end to the series.

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6.5
Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine's Day Special #1

Feb 6, 2013

Young Romance ends with DC's latest power couple sharing a romantic candlelit dinner in "Truth or Dare," by Andy Diggle and Robson Rocha. While the love affair between Superman and Wonder Woman has been met with a rather lukewarm reception, Diggle finds common ground between the two of them, and their earnest heart-to-heart is the story's greatest strength. Less compelling is the hyperbolic villainy of the Sirens, who are intent on spoiling everyone's fun, even mine. The relationship between Clark and Diana is rife with narrative possibilities, considering how similar and yet so very different those two heroes are, and it would have been nice to see them explored without the untimely interruption of a largely generic fight scene.

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