Best Shots Reviews: MS. MARVEL #18, STARFIRE #4, BITCH PLANET #5, More

Image Comics September 2015 solicitations
Credit: Image Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Ms. Marvel #18
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Justin Partridge, III
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

They say you should never meet your heroes, but once again, Kamala Khan proves to be the exception to the rule. As Jersey City threatens to tear itself apart, Kamala and her idol Carol Danvers race to save Kamala’s brother from Ms. Marvel’s evil former crush who plans to awaken Aamir’s latent superpowers. Writer G. Willow Wilson finds both the emotion and charm in this team-up, while still injecting genuine stakes into this pre-Secret Wars tale of heroism. While Wilson’s scripting for Ms. Marvel is top notch once again, series regular artist Adrian Alphona along with colorist Ian Herring send this final Ms. Marvel yarn off with the same emotive energy that it began with, offering up a fantastic looking touchstone to the original issues as Kamala enters her "Last Days" stroyline. Ms. Marvel #18 has a lot of things going for it, but above all, its touching and, if this is to be Kamala’s last stand before Battleworld, it is one hell of send off for Marvel’s premier legacy hero.

Picking up directly after last month’s cliffhanger, the Marvels, Ms. and Captain, burst in on Kamran attempting to awaken Amir’s supposed Inhuman abilities using some stolen terrigen mists. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned and while Amir doesn’t quite cocoon, he does gain the ability to project neon green force fields, but not the ability to actually control them. One of the many charms of Ms. Marvel has been Wilson’s ability to keep most of Kamala’s enemies and trials situated at a personal level and this month’s tale is no different. In fact, it may be her most personal trial to date, what with her evil ex-crush kidnapping her brother as her city comes apart at the seams.

While the story aims to put Kamala through the ringer, Wilson doesn’t let that sacrifice the deep seeded charm that her scripts have displayed in the past. Kamala is still a whirling ball of energy with a stiff upper lip that only wants to do the right thing. Pairing her up with Captain Marvel, a team-up that has been a long time coming, only multiplies her charm ten fold, while reminding us all why we fell in love with the Marvels in the first place. While the showdown between Ms. Marvel and Kamran is the real crux of the story, the real selling point is the emotional last talk between Captain Marvel and Kamala in which Carol comes clean with her about exactly how bad things are and how proud she is of the plucky girl that inherited her name. “I came here for me,” Carol tells Kamala right before the end “but I stayed here for you.”. The art team accentuates this scene by staging it all in intimate close ups of our heroes and by coloring it in cool blues, pale pinks, and greys, allowing Kamala’s homemade costume to be the only vibrant source of color in the scene. Wilson even takes the emotion a step further by allowing Kamala a heart to heart with her mother before the end of all things, making Ms. Marvel #18 the most emotional issue of the series thus far, providing Kamala a fantastic penultimate issue before she heads into her future adventures.

Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring help along the emotion of Ms. Marvel #18, but they don’t allow that to sacrifice the kinetic energy or emotive character design of the series thus far. The issue’s opening scene, the showdown between Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel and Kamran, starts the issue off with a few literal bangs as Amir’s powers manifest themselves in concussive neon blasts that fill the panels up with inventive SFX cues and blow away with turquoise terrigen mists. Herring’s colors have been Ms. Marvel’s ace in the hole for a bit now and #18 is no exception, as each scene is colored to match the tone of the images that they detail, like the cool blue of Jersey City at night and the stark white of the Kamala’s school’s nurse’s office. While Ms. Marvel #18 leans heavily on the emotion of Kamala’s last days, that doesn’t stop Adrain Alphona from giving us some fantastically funny Kamala faces; a hilarious running gag that has lasted from the very start of the series. Ms. Marvel #18 looks just as good as it reads, but with the series’ original art team back on the beat with Kamala that shouldn’t be much of a surprise, to long time readers or to newbies popping in to see what all the fuss is about.

Ms. Marvel #18 doesn’t reinvent the wheel or introduce a slew of new ideas into the Marvel universe. It is simply a well told emotional story accompanied by some fantastic artwork. G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Ian Herring have tapped into something special with Ms. Marvel and its only fitting that the original team that introduced us to Kamala Khan team her up with her hero and send her out into the larger Marvel universe with a personal story that hits home for her and her readers. Ms. Marvel #18 may be the tale of Kamala’s "Last Days" pre-Secret Wars, but based on the strength of these final issues, Kamala has a very bright future ahead of her.

Credit: DC Comics

Starfire #4
Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Mirco Pierfederici, Ray McCarthy, Trevor Scott and Hi-Fi
Lettering by Tomp Napolitano
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but 2015 has been the year of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.

What is it with these two that has seen them go from toiling away at DC's mid-list to becoming DC's most lucrative writing team not named Geoff Johns or Scott Snyder? Cynics might attribute their success to a more creator-blind adherence to certain creators and properties - and with a Suicide Squad movie on the horizon, it makes sense that the time might be right for Harley Quinn to develop a fan following. But I'd actually use their work Starfire as an example of a different thesis - that with their newfound focus on happier, chattier storytelling, Palmiotti, Conner and company might be making a name for themselves as an unlikely bright spot in the DC Universe.

For those who like their comics gloomy and gritty, obviously this isn't the book for you. Since her relocation to sunny Key West, Starfire has been a goofy, breezy book about a fish out of water - think Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt optimism without some of the more horrifying undertones. With this fourth issue, Palmiotti and Conner are able to double-dip, as they reintroduce their reimagined version of Terra, all the way back from 2008. It proves to be a smart decision, as these two characters share some very similar qualities, and thus the chemistry is instant, even if you might gloss over Terra's pulpy origin story.

As these almost instant gal pals fight a rampaging lava monster, Conner and Palmiotti's writing seems to have taken a page from Brian Michael Bendis' playbook, eschewing tighter plotting for talkier, almost David Mamet-esque dialogue. Admittedly, Conner and Palmiotti's sense of humor isn't quite as sharp as Bendis' - Kori imagining literal images of popular metaphors or ditzily tossing her skimpy bathing suit at people isn't exactly John Oliver quality here - but in particular, their focus on character moments (such as Kori interacting with citizens) feels just like Bendis' work during his New Avengers heydey. While it's not quite as funny, it's still quite refreshing to have a superheroine that isn't burdened with angst or requires a ton of backstory. While she might be naive in the same vein as the Teen Titans Go! cartoons, Starfire is imminently approachable, despite being a bronze supermodel goddess who turns heads literally everywhere she goes.

Just like Starfire might be a more surprising choice than, say, a popular antiheroine like Harley Quinn, I'd also say that Emanuela Lupacchino's artwork might just be this book's secret weapon. With the wrong artist involved, Conner and Palmiotti's scattered pacing and dad-joke sense of humor might seem sloppy or just self-indulgent, but Lupacchino gives this character a real endearingness that goes beyond her figure. Even in a book that winds up having a (probably gratuitous) poolside bikini scene, there's a wide-eyed innocence to Kori - she's completely unaware of her own strengths, whether its how hard she can punch or how easily she can turn heads. But because Lupacchino draws her without a hint of ego, you can't help but like this girl.

While Harley Quinn might be their big book, I feel like Starfire is the best example of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's evolution as writers in their own right. In the past, Palmiotti's been attached to some darker titles, ranging from the angst-ridden Power Girl to the consistently struggling Jonah Hex. But the moment they started to loosen up with their scripting and just introduce bright locales and happy protagonists, their sales figures started skyrocketing. For sure, it makes Starfire a fun, if not particularly deep read. There's no message, there's no angle, there's no continuity - it's just simple entertainment. It may be a recipe for success that DC might continue to try to duplicate.

Credit: Valentine De Landro (Image Comics)

Bitch Planet #5
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Valentine De Landro and Chris Peter
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics
Review by Vanessa Gabriel
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

For the final issue of the first arc, the cover warns you to “steel yourselves for heartbreak,” but no amount of armor could come close to preparing you for impact. Megaton is an even more brutal version of football, and the prisoners of Bitch Planet have been commissioned to compete in the wildly popular sport for a chance at redemption and possibly escape. Meiko Maki is not only an NC, she’s also the daughter of the man who engineered the Megaton arena. She’s the glimmer of hope for the prisoners, so the stakes are incredibly high in Bitch Planet #5 as the NCs play the prison guards in a Megaton scrimmage turned death match.

This issue opens with the 12-panel grid of a televised news feed. The reporter runs through the snippets of social deviation and the coming Megaton competition featuring the women incarcerated on Bitch Planet. The images appearing behind her caricature the “deviant” women like animals, and more specifically like apes while the caption at the bottom highlights the financial profit of the corporations running the event: “Stocks post gains.”

With every page turn, Bitch Planet overtly deals with the oppression of women, as advertisements for vaginoplasty and modesty masks runs across the ticker tape. At the same time, it never forgets intersectionality. The first page alone is densely packed with media distortion, condescending nicknames, toxic masculinity, racist mascots and the objectification of athletes in the “Players Auction,” and we haven’t even gotten to the character dialogue yet. But when you do, the entire issue is a “cornucopia of intersectional oppression,” to quote the riotous Lindy West essay contained in the backmatter of Bitch Planet #5.

Kelly Sue DeConnick’s superpower is clever, layered and unapologetic dialogue that is able to represent a broad swath of perspectives. In doing so, she swiftly subverts the sexism, racism and the many other “-isms” that plague the Bitch Planet universe (and ours). It is a break-neck third-person perspective that requires the reader to think as the dialogue moves from patronizing to riveting to hopeful to infuriating to heartbreaking. The omnipotence of this corporate prison complex is punctuated. An NC is unfairly and brutally destroyed. And still, there is room left for compassion for the perspective of someone in employ of the antagonist. Everyone suffers from an oppressive agenda, not just the non-compliant.

Valentine De Landro and Chris Peter illustrate the violent neutering of the underdog with emotional gravity and poignant color. There are no glorified splash pages in this issue; instead, the story is packed into what feels like significantly more panels than usual. Smaller panels provide less opportunity for background detail and dynamic exposition, and Peter uses a muddy palette, gradients of blue and muted brown offset by heavily-inked negative space, shadows and silhouettes. It all feels thick to move through at times, but it suits the tone and definitive style of Bitch Planet.

There is also a distinct subtlety in the climax of the issue. The violence inflicted upon the female NCs by the male guards is not as gory as usual. DeConnick reflects in the backmatter on the consumption of death and violence in fiction and in real life. Specifically discussing the voyeurism of watching videos of racial violence, and feeling like it is “predatory.” I wonder if this inspired the end of Bitch Planet #5 honoring a slightly less brutal “visual vocabulary.” With that in mind, De Landro doesn’t miss a beat and the emotional impact is fully intact with human expression. It is remarkable how much can be conveyed in a scream of pain, a sinister grimace, the devastation of disappointment and a raging side-eye. De Landro’s execution is arresting.

Metacontext fills nearly every panel of this issue, so you might think Bitch Planet #5 would be at risk of being buried by the weight of its feminist message. You would be wrong. The challenges and injustice that Kamau, Penny and the rest of the NCs face only serve to make us root for them more. Will they prevail? Will they survive? One thing is certain, it won’t be without one hell of a fight. Through immense density of character, story and style, it is starkly evident that the creators put an insane amount of thought, care and intention into this issue. In doing so, they made Bitch Planet #5 overwhelmingly provocative, engrossing and sad, and it is deserving of the same level of thought and care from the reader.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Salva Espin and Val Staples
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

With Secret Wars in full swing, several titles in the myriad of tie-ins are coming to a close. Among those, it’s hard to think of one that’s been as much fun as Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos. With a comedic script and colorful artwork, Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 brings the series to a close in a way that will satisfy longtime Deadpool readers as well as those new to the world of Marvel’s monsters.

Writer Gerry Duggan has really crafted a fun tale here, as Shiklah and her Howling Commandos, consisting of Werewolf by Night, Living Mummy, Frankenstein, Man-Thing, and the centaur/symbiote known as Marcus, wage war on Dracula. For readers jumping on in the final issue, Deadpool’s ghost gives a great recap that not only sets up the story, but the tone as well. Deadpool appears almost exclusively as an omniscient narrator for the story, and that choice gives Duggan a lot to play with comedically, including sly references to other deceased Marvel characters. Duggan’s comedic talents continue into the main story, as Shiklah and her warriors try some wonky combat maneuvers fitting their supernatural abilities.

The energetic artwork by Salva Espin has always been a nice fit for the series, with over-the-top facial expressions that fit Duggan’s bombastic scripts. Here in this action-packed finale, Espin gets to show just how frenetic his depictions of combat can be. There’s a real sense of mayhem reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon and it makes Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 a blast to read. In a world of monsters, Espin’s Dracula stands out as truly depraved, with bulging eyes and a menacing smile suitable for the villain in this book.

Aiding Espin in the art is colorist Val Staples, whose vibrant palette keeps an upbeat feel to the whole book. It’s really easy to imagine Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 with a darker or more realistic palette, and frankly, it would undercut the entire book. Duggan and Espin have clearly gone for a comedic tone where the violence, though it has consequences, is meant to be for laughs rather than shock and horror. To that effect, Staples’ colors add a nice touch. Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 reads like a Scooby-Doo episode given the Adult Swim treatment, and Staples’ coloring is a big part of why it has that vibe.

The ending to Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 is a pleasant surprise that brings both the issue and the series to a close while setting up Deadpool stories for the future. For a series that has only been superficially connected to Battleworld and Secret Wars, it is a little disappointing that those aspects play such a large role in the finale. But that may in fact be the point. In the same way Secret Wars “intruded” on the rest of Marvel’s publishing line, so too do some of Battleworld’s major players into Shilklah’s story.

Ultimately, Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 is an entertaining book sure to give its readers some laughs while delivering entertaining action that undercuts some of the dead-serious nature of the Secret Wars event. Not every book needs to aim for lofty themes and, though Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 could be said to have a message of love conquering death, it never overreaches, being perfectly satisfied in being the zany comedic book that it is. Both Gerry Duggan’s script and the art by Salva Espin and Val Staples have made for a fun reprieve from the end-of-the-world somberness that has taken hold of the main Secret Wars event. While Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos has flown under the radar of a lot of readers, the book is highly recommended to those looking for a light-hearted escape, especially if the event has worn thin for the reader.

Credit: Image Comics

Faster Than Light #1
Written by Brian Haberlin
Art by Brian Haberlin and Geirrod VanDyke
Lettering by Francis Takenaga
Published by Image Comics
Review by Michael Moccio
'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10

“Do you know how many ways to die there are out there?” It seems like no matter what kind of story being told, if space is a major setting, someone’s inevitably references how easy it is to die out there. That’s only one example of how Faster Than Light #1 can feel cliché. The basic premise of Faster Than Light is unique enough to stand on its own: a team of astronauts use new technology that allows you to travel faster than light to explore the galaxy and get new weapons and technology to fight a yet unnamed antagonist species. Despite the unique bits of story elements, Faster than Light is bogged down by the inaccessible nuances of its plot.

For starters, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who the protagonist is and, by the issue’s end, it’s still not incredibly clear. One on hand, you have Doctor Saul Fredricks, the youngest person ever to graduate MIT and discovered the new formula that allows for faster than light travel; on the other, you have Captain Anderson, the person heading up the expedition. Haberlin uses both fairly equally in the narrative throughout the first issue and it’s hard to figure out whether the story is about one of them, or if they’re going to serve ads dual, contrasting protagonists. The reason why it’s important to bring this up is because one of the weakest aspects of Fasther than Light is its characters and their lack of distinction. No one has a clear goal or personality, which makes it hard to keep everyone distinct from each other.

It doesn’t help that the art’s coloring style makes faces hard to distinguish, especially because of the lighting. Most pages appear dark throughout Faster Than Light and shadows overlaid on faces make facial features hard to recognize. By the middle of the issue, it’s hard to know whether or not certain characters reappear or if they’re new characters altogether visually. The narrative does a good enough job piecing this together through context, but the story can’t stand, visually, on its own. The real strength of the art comes in the inanimate objects Haberlin creates with VanDyke. The machinery, ships, and the general aesthetic of Faster than Light is exactly what’s needed to make a successful science fiction story. Haberlin doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any respect, but it’s that sense of familiarity that adds to the science fiction tone of the story.

Haberlin seems to have set up too many narrative threads, which makes the overall plot confusing. Without characters we’re already invest in, a muddy plot only serves to keep the reader disinterested from the material. Haberlin hints to political turmoil within the organization itself, an internal struggle with the crew as they take off, this new threat hinted in the last panel, and some enigmatic database Fredricks has access to. Because it’s only the first issue, each of these are only mentioned, without going into too much detail. This is where Haberlin makes the mistake: with so many questions continuing to pop up throughout the narrative, readers won’t feel an urge to keep reading because they haven’t been given a reason to want to find out the answers to the questions the narrative presents. It’s one thing to withhold information from the reader, but it’s another thing entirely to only frustratingly hint at what’s going on to the reader when there are characters who know so much more about what’s going on. That’s why there’s no real draw to pick up the next issue at this point. Despite the crew getting into some clear trouble, there’s no weight behind it: the fates of the crew don’t feel important because Haberlin hasn’t given us a reason to feel invested. We don’t know exactly why this crew was sent out, which only serves to make the reader more confused.

Even beyond that, the technical aspects can get frustrating. Haberlin doesn’t earn the rules of the world. There’s no attempt to explain how a formula was found to travel faster than light except for a vague reference to some ethereal database. There are some characters that are just as left in the dark as we are, and hopefully we’ll get to see more of them. As they learn more, hopefully we will too and feel more invested in Faster Than Light.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Red Skull #3
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Luca Pizzari and Rainier Beredo
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Oscar Maltby
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

In the unending horror of the Deadlands, Red Skull is reborn as a hooded, shield-wielding icon of rebellion! Joshua Williamson and Luca Pizzari's unique Battleworld take on the dastardly crimson Nazi concludes with Red Skull #3, a bleak and nihilistic comic book which takes pleasure in immediately snuffing out Red Skull's Doom-conquering delusions.

With Annihilus' army at their side, Red Skull and Magneto attack the Shield of Battleworld. It's all for naught, obviously, as Magneto and Red Skull face page after page of abject failure. From #1, writer Joshua Williamson has dealt with some tricky subject matter by deifying one of the most evil villains in the Marvel Universe as a Che Guevara-esque icon of rebellion, but it all makes sense through the lens of this violently abrupt finale.

Away from the brave plot, Williamson's dialogue is standard superhero. Like all good villains, Red Skull and Magneto enunciate the particulars of their plan mid-attack, only to be very vocally surprised when they find themselves defeated. By design, there's nothing in the way of a likable character here, which leaves the reader rooting for nobody and turns its blood-soaked end into an unexpectedly “happy” ending. Divorced from the catharsis of witnessing a horrible character fail horribly, this issue could be construed as a little cheap to anyone expecting Doom and Red Skull to actually throw down, even if Williamson's take on that old slasher archetype “everyone dies” totally works.

Artist Luca Pizzari's sketchy lines fall in with Williamson's bleak tone, rendering the rebels' humiliating defeat in all its gory detail. Design-wise, the hooded Red Skull would be a sure-fire hit in plastic on the shelves of your local toy store, especially with his “Captain America's shield on a stick” reinterpretation of the Grim Reaper's scythe.

As the story's scope widens to include a legion of Annilihus' minions and a horde of ravenous zombies, his panels begin to lack definition. Equally lacking is Pizzari's Magneto, which was an absolute mess two issues ago and has not improved one iota here. Pizzari's naturally sketchy and uneven lines do not jive with the precise metalwork of Magneto's armor, and he comes across as a shambling mess of jagged tin foil. Conversely, Pizzari's emaciated take on the Sentinels are intimidating as all hell, meshing well with the rest of the descriptively-named Deadlands.

In terms of panel composition, Pizzari can't help but harken back to Byrne, Claremont and Austin's "Days of Future Past" Wolverine death when Magneto faces the wrath of the Shield's metal-less Sentinels, and he gives Williamson's action-packed script room to breathe in page-wide panels. Atop Pizzari's ragged pencils, colorist Rainier Beredo uses a unique palette of purples, reds and blacks to add an appropriately vengeful and Halloween-y tone to Red Skull's rage against God Doom.

If the set-up is “surely Red Skull is a worthy opponent for the omnipotent force of God Doom?”, then Red Skull #3 is that joke's punchline in comic book form. Williamson deftly destroys Red Skull's delusions of grandeur in a single swoop which will surely prove controversial for some readers, even if it was the closest thing to a happy ending we could've possibly received. Visually, Pizzari's artwork is hit-or-miss, nailing grotesque but struggling to depict order and symmetry. In all aspects, Red Skull #3 is one ugly comic book. But when that is the intention, how could you possibly hate it?

Credit: Image Comics

Head Lopper #1
Written by Andrew Maclean
Art by Andrew Maclean and Mike Spicer
Lettering by Andrew Maclean
Published by Image Comics
Review by Michael Moccio
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Someone better call King Minos, because his grandson is pretty great. Head Lopper follows the story of Norgal—more colloquially known as the Head Lopper, the Minotaur’s son—a nomadic swordsman renowned for his ability to fight. When the series starts, we find Norgal just reaching the Isle of Barra and writer and artist Andrew Maclean makes it clear that not all is as it seems.

The fantastical elements Maclean weaves into the narrative are seamless. He doesn’t have to do much explaining to establish that the world he’s built for Head Lopper is medieval fantasy, with its roots in Greek mythology. As one would expect from the son the Minotaur, Norgal can more than hold his own in a fight. Maclean has a real knack for composition, which is why the fight scenes with Norgal are some of the best, even if there’s not much dialogue or exposition going on. Seeing Maclean create a patter from panel to panel, making the fight unfold before our very eyes as if it was on a television show instead of the printed page is incredibly enjoyable to watch. The cartoonish style of the art helps add humor to the book, which is ultimately a good thing, especially when you have so much blood, gore, and violence — not to mention the talking head of a witch that Norgal carries around in his sack.

More than the artwork, Maclean’s story skills are on point throughout this first issue. From the first scene, we’re already invested in Norgal because Maclean shows us that Norgal’s incredibly competent. When fighting against a giant sea monster, the guards of the city are completely ineffective and nearly fail to help Norgal slay the beast. Establishing Nogal’s credibility as a warrior early is what draws the readers in at first. What makes readers stay, however, is Maclean’s nuanced portrayl of Norgal. He’s clearly the protagonist and the one we should be rooting for, but when Norgal lets clergy get away with human trafficking, and then steal from them when they refuse to pay him for his services, it adds interest to the story because our preconceptions we might have had about Norgal throughout that first fight are dashed. He’s not a righteous hero like many protagonists are in stories like these, which immediately sets Head Lopper as distinct from the competition.

Although we don’t really get a sense of who Norgal is as a character or what his goals are, Maclean’s still able to propel the narrative forward and make us care about the story. He does that primarily through dramatic irony: we catch glimpses of what’s happening across Bara as a whole, so we know trouble’s brewing for Norgal. When Norgal goes about his business, you’ll feel compelled to keep turning the page to see what happens next as Norgal draws closer and closer to clashing with the main evil of the series.

One of the major weaknesses of Head Lopper is the hazy backstory. No one is expected to fully flesh out the history of the world within the first issue, but there are specific events that are referenced to that don’t get expanded or hinted upon at all. In a four-part series like this one, it’s frustrating that we don’t know an important bit of backstory, especially when it feels like we know everything else. It might seem small, but it’s ultimately something that’ll weigh on your mind when you finish this issue, especially when the script could have been a bit clearer at the more idea-driven parts of the book.

Overall, though, Head Lopper was enjoyable from start to finish, largely because of the charm Norgal has as the main character. The cartoonish art style adds to that charm by juxtaposing his brutal nature with comedy, a formula that — although somewhat cliché — works incredibly well for the series. By the end, Maclean sets himself up to further the conflict even more — it’ll be fun to see how Norgal handles fighting a new, powerful mystical force and what effects it’ll have for the Isle of Barra.

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