Best Shots Comic Reviews: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10, BATMAN '66: THE LOST EPISODE, More

Credit: Marvel Comics

Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your Monday column? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's edition of big reviews! So let's kick off today's column with Boisterous Brendan McGuirk, as he takes a look at the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man...

Credit: Marvel Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #10
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Olivier Coipel, Wade von Grawbadger and Justin Ponsor
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Review by Brendan McGuirk

The premise of the Spider-Verse event could not be any more comic-booky. On one side of the chess board, we've got a band combining every alternate incarnation of Spider-Man ever conceived - a team of Spider-clones and Spider-recasts and Spider-cartoon pigs. Opposing them, a prim family of predators from a faraway world that serve as a kind of distilled representation of pathological hatred and unconquerable doom for that Friendly Neighborhood Parker boy. Morlun, Daemos and the other Inheritors crave only to feast on “Spider-Essence,” making them sort of like Soul Reavers of Spider-types throughout all Marvel realities. They jump from alternate universe to alternate universe, consuming the native Spider-Men (and -Women), consolidating their power, cackling, holding grand feasts over Web-Slingers and basically being terrifying.

They're chopping down Spider-Mans left and right, until the Web-Heads are finally driven into gathering as an army, planning to stage a last stand against their hunters. Spider-creations new and old are united by the fact that the spider-powers that once made them special have now marked them for death. Who knew all that power and responsibility came with a price tag.

People drill down to those two words when considering the elastic framework that lends the Spider-Man concept to hundreds of different interpretations. My interpretation of the great-power-great-responsibility ethos at the heart of Marvel's everyman hero is that being your best self is the best, healthiest course for the individual and the community. Being accountable to potential is as much a responsibility to oneself as it is to others. The costumes, the powers, the stories change, but those are the tenets at the character's core. What makes the Inheritors such perfect foils to Spider-Man is that their predatory greed is so basely self-serving. They are only responsible to their urges. They are also equipped with the certainty that comes with superiority. When Morlun was first introduced, the story took great pains to make clear that he and his kind were a rung above the Spider on the supernatural food chain. With some help from the Most Interesting Man in the World, Ezekiel, a wise old Spider-powered guy who very ably shared mounds of exposition regarding the whole Spider-totem/Morlun concern, the real Spider-Man, “our” Spider-Man, defeated Morlun. That victory made our guy unique among a field of every Spider-dude from Peter Parker's daughter from an alternate future, his clone from an alternate timeline, his ultimate heir, his dead ex-girlfriend who, in her universe, got bit instead of him... Our Spidey's the chosen one, because duh, obviously the guy whose adventures we've been reading the past 50 years is the one most qualified to overcome the impossible odds in the pages of his own comic book.

The aura of superiority surrounding Morlun and his kin plays really well against the uncertainty of classic Spider-Man adventures. What set Spider-Man apart from his superheroic predecessors was that you never really knew if he would pull out the victories, since he sometimes did not. Sure, he'd probably get Aunt May her medicine in time, but every once in a while he'd screw the pooch and his uncle or his girlfriend or her dad or somebody would die. He would fail. He would torture himself about it. But Spider-Man stories weren't about defeat, they were about how even those losses were not endings. A great Superman story is about a threat so big that it can only be resolved by extra-natural capacities, about being better than we can really imagine. A great Spider-Man story is different. It teases to the brink of despair, but right when it presents surrender, a well of resolve is discovered and tapped until finally finding catharsis through the very human superpower of making the choice to persevere. Spider-Man defies impossible odds not through eminence but through dedication.

Morlun and his kind never entertain the notion of persevering because they never face doubt. Bad guys rarely do, even kind of reformed ones like that Doc Ock-turned-Superior Spider-Man fellow, who crops up in this issue leading a second group of gathered alternate-universe Spiders to varying success. It's all a pretty awesome clash. Dan Slott balances the cast of Wall-Crawlers very well, keeping the focus on our lead but giving space and respect to every Spider-Man, -Woman and -Child in case that version is a reader's favorite. Oliver Coipel, Wade von Grawbadger and Justin Ponsor bring tremendous energy to the visuals, bringing a grandiosity befitting the event.

At the end of the day, Spider-Man, Peter Parker, he's a survivor. He's got a pretty rock-solid case of survivor's guilt baked right there into his origin story (at least can sleep Batman knowing he was incapable of affecting the fate of his parents), and ever since that whole Uncle Ben incident he's been surviving ever since. He scrapes by, whether on rent or keeping Doctor Octopus locked up or not in his brain or whatever. Teaming every iteration of the already ubiquitous Spider-brand into a pack of terrified, hunted survivors is a pretty clever way to test the limits of the character concept. It's all so deliciously comic book-y. Literally, the Inheritors want to absorb all of the Spider-Men's “Spider-Essence,” but that's figuratively impossible. The Spider-Verse storyline will end with Morlun and them losing, probably somehow because of their unshakable belief in the limitlessness of their power. The Spider-Men will win, because knowing their limits is what gives them power to push them.

Credit: DC Comics

Harley Quinn #12
Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Joh Timms, Chad Hardin and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by John J. Hill
Published by DC Comics
Review by Brian Bannen
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

It’s taken me a while to understand it, but Harley Quinn is the voice of reason in her own comic. At one point in this issue, she says “I can’t be dreaming something this ridiculous.” And after reading Harley Quinn #12, and seeing world populated by four chested women, a giant puggle-king, and a not so subtle rip on Thanos, you find yourself agreeing with this gal while enjoying every page of the comic.

The Power Girl/Harley Quinn team up shown on the cover is only a minor piece of this issue. While having such a super powered heroine be part of the story would lead a reader to think the issue was going to have a massive knock-down, drag-out fight, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti instead use Power Girl to play the straight girl to Harley Quinn’s funny girl. The story is pretty straightforward: Harley Quinn and Power Girl need help returning to their own universe when Sports-Master and Clock King banish them to a strange universe.

The events, however, are anything but normal. Harley Quinn is really us in this issue, continuously pointing out the absurdity of the situation. Her jokes run from her take on the new universe to her take on Power Girl’s outfit. The writing is very self-aware, and this where Conner and Palmiotti do their best work because while the jokes are overt, their delivery is still done with finesse. I often found myself laughing out loud, either at the dialogue or the imagery.

This also includes when the comic goes absurd - like When Harley and P.G. encounter a giant slice of Pizza with an unmistakeable Marvel connection. What’s more impressive, though, is how easily you buy into the mad world that Conner and Palmiotti create. You don’t question the use of a dog as a ruler, nor the floating pizza slice, nor the head-scratching perplexity of the final panel.

You buy into the weird world of Harley Quinn because you buy into Harley Quinn. Would the Joker’s best gal really operate in an ordinary, conventional world? Definitely not! And what better place to see her develop a uniqueness than in a universe populated by parallel worlds, vaudevillian type humor, and an organ wielding psychopath.

John Timms deserves huge credit for selling this existence as his illustrations are, for lack of a better term, out of this world. His composition is solid, and his character designs are cartoonish enough to sell the absurdity, yet real enough to make the story believable. He’s especially adept at detail, from the pizza slice that looks eerily like the chin of one of Marvel’s big bads, to Power Girl’s costume which accentuates her, erm, endowments. Props to Alex Sinclair for his vibrant colors. He brings Timms world to life.

Harley Quinn is like a romp through an insane person’s mind, which begs the question, how do Conner and Palmiotti come up with this stuff? How do they weave a coherent tale that still expects the reader to be open minded enough to allow for insanity to breed without restraint?

The answers to these question are irrelevant, though, because you don’t care to know the genesis of a dog as king of a planet. You only want to sit back and enjoy because Harley Quinn #12 wants you to have fun. It wants you to take a break from the seriousness of other comics.

And it succeeds. It’s a wild ride, but one worth your time.

Credit: Marvel Comics

AXIS #6
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Edgar Delgado and Jesus Aburtov
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

It's probably damning AXIS with faint praise that this is the best issue of this series yet, now that the dust has settled and Marvel's heroes have become villains. With the Avengers now power-mad demigods and the X-Men plotting to wipe out humanity, Rick Remender is now finally able to set up the interesting part of this series: the villains of the Marvel Universe standing up for what's right. But with some unsettling subject matter, Remender is hamstrung not by his sprawling cast, but artwork that, while strong on its own, actively clashes with the tone of the book around it.

First and foremost, the first thing that Remender should be praised for is that when you're reading AXIS, you really are not forced into any tie-ins. Superior Iron Man, Loki, Agent of Asgard and even Avengers World get some succinct recaps in here, filling in the status quos of Iron Man, Daredevil, Thor, Loki and Doctor Doom. While Remender doesn't have a lot of time to stay with many of his characters, he does dive into the action quickly, particularly with some well-written scenes featuring Mystique and Sabretooth, as they're on the run from her formerly heroic children, Rogue and Nightcrawler.

The other great thing about AXIS #6 is that six issues in, Remender finally gets to start utilizing his real cast - the villains. Channeling his counterpart from the Age of Apocalypse, the heroic Sabretooth already is magnetic (particularly after the recent death of Wolverine), and Dr. Doom's change of heart still has that tinge of melodrama that made him such a juicy villain to begin with. Yes, he's got more than a hint of cheese to him, but considering that he is basically mind-controlled, you sense that Remender's having a lot of fun with him. Indeed, watching the former villains unite is a great moment, and shows a lot of promise for the next issue.

That all sound great, right? So what's the catch with AXIS?

That's where the art comes in. It's not a matter of Terry and Rachel Dodson doing a poor job on their artwork - this book simply is a case of two great tastes not going well together. Whereas Remender is writing the X-Men as bloodthirsty monsters, particularly when Nightcrawler and Rogue try to butcher their mother, Mystique, the Dodsons are portraying their characters as bouncy and light. There's a scene where Loki gets a brutal beating from his brother, Thor, which winds up coming off as almost comedic rather than tense. (And that's beyond going into some of the more mechanical issues, like the overreliance on horizontal, letterboxed panels, or the lack of body language for easy characters like Spider-Man.) It's always dangerous to go into "shoulda, woulda, coulda" territory, but that's all I can think of reading this book - what if a darker artist like Jerome Opena was on this book? I imagine it would have sold the dire nature of this plot better.

Right now, AXIS has finally overcome its bloated introduction, only to get hit with another problem - a lack of consistency with the artwork. Given this series' weekly timeframe, shifting artists is perhaps inevitable - but is it necessarily conducive to a coherent, cohesive comic book storyline? AXIS has had plenty of sins in the past, but I feel like this sixth issue is primarily an editorial concern - perhaps the grab bag of artists will look better as one collected edition, but as a sequential read, this comic still has an identity crisis.

Credit: DC Comics

Wonder Woman #36
Written by Meredith Finch
Art by David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback
Lettering by Sal Cipriano
Published by DC Comics
Review by Erika D. Peterman
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

There’s a lot of pressure on Wonder Woman #36 to seamlessly bridge the gap between the popular, if controversial, run by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang and that of newcomers Meredith and David Finch. It has to be accessible to uninitiated readers while also tipping a hat to events that came before. Given the growing and very necessary conversation about the often poor treatment of female characters in comic books, it’s critically important to get it right when it comes to the most well-known superheroine of all.

For the most part, the Finches handle the transition gracefully. Wonder Woman doesn’t take any risks but does deliver an enjoyable read that shows several sides of Diana and casts her in multiple roles. Granted, the scene of a character ruminating about life during a shower is an immediate trope. However, it is used to remind readers that Wonder Woman is a warrior, and isn’t done in an exploitative way.

Speaking of water, David Finch uses it beautifully in a series of excellent panels at the story’s beginning. Nothing in this issue looks rushed and it’s obvious that he took great care in building this world. It’s fortunate that he doesn’t present Wonder Woman in a cheesecakey way. While she appears younger and less imposing than Chiang’s Wonder Woman in certain panels — and arguably less distinctive — she certainly looks strong and more than capable in the sequences where she’s called upon to throw punches. It’s a bit of a letdown that the palette isn’t more vibrant, though there are places where colorist Sonia Oback effectively employs brighter tones.

What’s most intriguing about Meredith Finch’s narrative is the idea of Wonder Woman being overwhelmed — struggling to balance her responsibilities as a member of the Justice League and a queen, not to mention navigating “an enormous new family of self-indulgent gods and demigods” and hoping to restore her mother, who is a clay statue. Showing instead of telling is always best, but the choice to convey Diana’s problems in an info-dump exchange with Aquaman is understandable. After all, the writer has to quickly ground readers in Diana’s world. Meredith Finch also does a fine job of weaving in the unrest on Paradise Island as Wonder Woman and her Justice League cohorts investigate an environmental disaster.

Wonder Woman #36 is very much a transitional issue without a major "wow" moment. Still, the Finches deserve credit for providing a solid next chapter with an ending that raises the stakes for Diana considerably. They’ve also put the character back where she should be: at the center of her own title.

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Lumberjanes #8
Written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Art by Brooke Allen and Maarta Laiho
Lettering by Aubrey Aiese
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Michael Moccio
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Gods, magic, and Lumberjanes, oh my. After the cliffhanger from Issue #7, writers Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis waste no time in diving into the last issue of the arc head first. What starts as pure shock from last issue quickly turns into eagerness and excitement as the entire issue builds and builds to become one of the best issues so far. By the end of this issue, you’ll know that Lumberjanes is the real deal, pulling together all of the best elements of storytelling and girl powers to make an extremely satisfying read.

If nothing else, this issue proves that Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis are master storytellers. They immediately bring the reader into the know by letting them know what really happened to Jo, while the rest of the Lumberjanes are left in the dark. Immediately, we’re enthralled with what’s going to happen next because we want the Lumberjanes to find out what we do. You’re guaranteed to go through the first ten pages at a blazing speed as Stevenson and Ellis build and build and build on their momentum. Unfortunately, their momentum became too powerful at points and the narrative moved too quickly for us to really get the impact of what was going on, particularly in the scene transition after the climax and at the very end of the issue. This happens very infrequently, but it’s worth noting.

Lumberjanes has so much to thank artists Brooke Allen and Maarta Laiho for in helping the story move along at a perfect pace. Their style has continued to amaze since issue #1 because it works so well with the zaniness of the entire story and premise. The exaggerated and simplistic character designs, the panel layouts that make your eyes naturally go about the page, and the way they make these fantastical images come to life just makes Lumberjanes an absolute joy to read. There will be points throughout the issue where you’ll just stare at the page and be wowed at how they brought some of the supernatural powers onto the page.

That being said, nothing is wasted in the entire book — every piece of dialogue, every panel, and every visual all works together to work into the overall story that’s culminated since Lumberjanes #1. We get to see each of the Lumberjanes shine in their darkest hour, which only makes us love them all the more. This book will, by the end, make you feel empowered to do the impossible, absolutely love who you are, and value your friends.

You can’t do a review of this issue without pointing out that Mal and Molly finally get their moment. Stevenson and Ellis leverage all the romantic build up between the two to have this brief — but so powerful and earned—moment that reflects just how high this comic soars. This is the best example of a comic that reflects our world as it is without feeling like it’s trying to be diverse for diversity’s sake. All these characters have been so thoroughly developed, with many of their strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and virtues explored, that you can’t help but feel a part of the gang. And just as all of them are excited for and support one another, so are we with Mal and Molly and every other time the group does something amazing.

The only other stumble this issue has is the ending, particularly in the last page. It just ends too abruptly, with an incredibly strange encounter with Zeus and then a final hurrah. While you’ll get excited about the actual Lumberjanes camp and its director and feel extremely satisfied watching all the gang hug it out, you’ll also feel a sense of bewilderment that it’s over without a sense of where it’s headed next. There’s still so much rich lore for Stevenson and Ellis to explore, so many questions to be answered, and so many other mysteries to be solved, which is great now that Lumberjanes is an ongoing series. These first eight issues have proved the Lumberjanes have what it takes to not only carry this entire book, but also make it thrive. There’s not many other books — if at all — that will make you feel this ecstatic and elated after reading it. Until the next arc, friendship to the max!

Credit: DC Comics

Batman/Superman #16
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Ardian Syaf, Sandra Hope Archer, David Meikis and Ulises Arreola
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by Brian Bannen
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Greg Pak knows how to write comics.

Batman/Superman #16 opens with brightly enough, leaving you feeling good about Clark and Bruce. After everything they’ve been through, they deserve a break. But Pak also knows that this is not the life of a superhero and he soon transitions his story from a feel good tale into a gripping mystery, one that is both disturbing and dire. Combining both action and introspection, Batman/Superman #16 has everything you’d look for in a beginning arc: a solid mystery, frenetic pacing and great art.

The beginning of the issue is a bit ominous. This may also be a statement on comic books today because while everything seems great, we, as readers, can’t help but wonder what the catch is. Pak doesn’t waste too much time on his exposition as a few pages into the issue, we’re already embroiled in a shocking new puzzle, and one that requires Clark to eschew what makes him great and instead adopt a darker personality, and one that Bruce has harnessed and perfected.

Where Pak succeeds best is in defining what makes each character great. Bruce is a product of grief and rage, years of yearning for a vengeance that manifests itself in his outward intensity. Clark, however, represents everything great about our world: he’s caring and optimistic, always looking for the best in everyone.

Pak brings Clark into Bruce’s world, one of mistrust and regret. After introducing the initial conflict, Pak spends a few pages outlining the divide between his two main characters because while Clark has all the physical attributes that makes him the superior hero, it’s Bruce who has the mindset to find the answers and this is what separates the characters in this book. Pak is really defining his players in this issue, and what’s most disturbing is how inept Clark is at dealing with this kind of threat.

Batman fans will particularly enjoy this issue as it pays homage to the horror Bruce has faced against his greatest enemy. Plus, Pak raises the question: what does a hero do when he’s outmatched? We’re still early on this is arc, but seriousness with which the characters approach the mystery makes the urgency of the situation all the more palpable. Pak is clearly enjoying the secret as he has fun dropping hints the entire issue, yet not giving readers enough to really guess at his endgame.

Artist Ardian Syaf joins the Batman/Superman team, delivering some unique panel construction, as well as some excellent character designs. His Batman is every bit as imposing as he needs to be, and Syaf definitely finds the naive side of Superman to exploit as he spends the majority of the issue looking like a fish out of water. Sometimes, the facial features of characters stray into the John Romita Jr. range -- blocky and measured. But other times, especially when the characters are in costume, Syaf’s individuality comes through. He knows how to make a person in character look like a hero. He’s a worthy addition to the Batman/Superman series. Sondra Hope Archer and David Meikis also deserve a lot of credit as they exploit light and shadow in their inking, giving a tonal heaviness to the issue, and one that stresses the ominousness of the comic.

I love what Greg Pak has introduced in Batman/Superman #16. I’m on board with everything he’s selling, and I can’t wait to see how the duo will figure out this mystery. The story doesn’t just rely on a new problem to introduce a new arc. He explores the individuality of each character, and with the solid imagery provided by Ardian Syaf, Batman/Superman #16 succeeds in being a must read for this week.

Credit: DC Comics

Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode #1
Written by Harlan Ellison and Len Wein
Art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Wes Abbott
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge, III
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

It isn’t every day that we see names like Harlan Ellison, Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on new release shelves, but that was exactly the case last week, and the results were glorious. Billed as a unearthed script from sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison, Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode chronicles Harvey Dent’s introduction into the canon of the television show, complete with his tragic origins and scarred coin. While Batman ‘66 has been a consistentally entertaining addition to any pull list, this latest issue feels like a very special episode for numerous reasons. Aside from the obvious appeal of finally getting to see what Ellison planned to do with Two-Face, Batman '66: The Lost Episode also contains some incredible artwork from a team made up of seasoned vets, all culminating in one satisfying retro experience.

Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode, like most Batman ‘66 issues, is structured exactly like an episode of the TV serial, complete with commercial break captions and bold SFX. We open on a famous Gotham City auction house that is displaying a rare, yet incomplete, china set. Enter Two-Face, with his two henchmen hilariously named Deuce and Twain, who bursts onto the scene in a truly disturbing way and steals away with the loot. Now, with this being published now instead of being aired in the '60s, it is hard to determine exactly what was Ellison’s and what is Len Wein’s, but the issue still feels insanely devoted to the format and tone of the show, despite the harrowing introduction for Two-Face. Harvey’s introduction delicately toes the line between parody and pathos as he reveals his scarred visage by burning it away with a candelabra then sending his pun heavy henchmen to work looting the establishment. I was worried, before reading this issue, that the tone of Batman ‘66 wouldn’t quite work while using Two-Face as the rouge of the week, but I was quickly assuaged by the cold open of this issue.

After this inciting incident, Batman and Robin are quickly dispatched to the crime scene and hot on the trail of Two-Face and his ilk. This inevitably leads to an info dump about Harvey and his origins, and while this section of the comic feels a bit rote, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair make this narrative retread as vibrant as possible. Assigning Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode to such a DC staple like Garcia-Lopez is one of the issue’s major selling points. It also helps that he hasn’t seem to have lost a single step throughout his long, illustrious career. Garcia-Lopez’s loose linework, coupled with Prado’s detailed inks and Alex Sinclair’s expansive and bright color palette sets this issue apart from the look of the regular Batman ‘66 title, while still keeping it firmly locked within the look and tone of the show. Garcia-Lopez also injects a sense of movement into the comic with his choice of basic, yet overlapping panel layouts that invoke the feeling of reading a Sunday serial strip. Most of the comic is presented in a typical grid panel structure, but Garcia-Lopez uses the panels in different ways throughout, either layering them over other action, like Batman using his Bat-tracers to track Two-Face’s vehicle or our first full look of Two-Face, which is a big shot of the villain in full costume inlaid right next to two panels of Batman and Robin discussing him. Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode is filled with these small, but effective uses of the medium which all builds up to a structurally sound one-shot.

Critics and fans alike have responded to Batman ‘66 since its inception, and deservedly so. The title offers new and older fans an entry back to a time where comics and television were just starting to intersect and effect pop culture as a whole. Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode takes that just a step further by revealing an engaging “What If” scenario for fans and Ellison aficionados alike all wrapped a fantastic looking Technicolor package. Though we never got to experience a Harvey Dent-centric stretch of episodes, Batman '66: The Lost Episode is a fun and tonally sound romp of what could have been, rendered by one of the giants of the industry.

Art from Intersect #1
Art from Intersect #1
Credit: Image Comics

Intersect #1
Written by Ray Fawkes
Art by Ray Fawkes
Lettering by Ray Fawkes
Published by Image Comics
Review by Michael Moccio
‘Rama Rating: 2 out of 10

Have you ever felt so lost and frustrated in a story because the author clearly knows in detail everything that’s going on but does absolutely nothing to make the work accessible to you? That’s pretty much Intersect #1 in a nutshell as Ray Fawkes starts his completely idea-driven story that, by the end, you’ll have no compulsion to find out what happens next because you’re not invested in the characters at all.

From a writing and storytelling perspective, Fawkes doesn’t give us much to know. He starts the story in medias res as the protagonists are chased by an unknown villain. In the entire issue, we barely learn anything more than that. Fawkes tries to have superficial arguments and tension carry the entire characterization of the protagonists and completely depends on his wild ideas to drive the plot. While it is interesting to have multiple people inhabit the same body and see how they change and morph between the two inhabitants, Fawkes does nothing to explain what’s going on nor take the time to tell or show us what these characters’ motivations are. The entirety of the issue is them running away from an unnamed and unseen antagonist — we know that they’re afraid of him, but Fawkes’ writing falls flat because we know nothing to back up the idea that this big bad is as bad as they say.

The dialogue is even more frustrating. These characters are acting like they know everything that’s going on as well and Fawkes doesn’t do anything to give an opportunity to ground the reader in the narrative and bring them into the story. This goes back to how we don’t find anything out besides the cursory information, and it removes us from the story when we’re literally the only people who don’t know what’s going on. The ending in particular is equally as frustrating as the rest of the issue, as an ominous group of people look on our unsuspecting protagonists. While it was good to know Fawkes is finally giving us something the protagonists don’t know, we still have nothing else to go on. And without any inclination of what’s going to happen next or why this group should appear ominous, any compulsion to pick up the second issue all but evaporates.

Part of the reason you’ll feel left out of the narrative is because of the art. While it’s refreshing to see the rules of the medium challenged, Fawkes’ style doesn’t do enough to communicate visually what’s going on to us. He uses watercolor to make beautiful, ethereal images, but they’re too amorphous to actually see what’s going on most of the time. This style gives us outlines of the body and basic backgrounds, but a majority of it is still left formless, which makes it difficult to ground ourselves in the narrative. We rarely know what’s going on in the background or what the setting actually looks like. Everything looks highlighted, like the exposure on a camera was too high, which makes everything blend together even more. The abundance of blank, white space overpowers the colored parts of the art, which further removes us from the visuals.

The main issue with the comic is how inaccessible it is on the first read. You have to go back and reread it several times to get a semblance of what’s going on. Usually, there’s nothing wrong with having to go back for one or two rereading, especially if you feel compelled to. The fact is, with Intersect, you won’t. There’s not enough information — obvious or otherwise — conveyed that can be gleaned from the first read through expected of anyone picking up a comic book.

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