Batman and the Outsiders #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Bryan Hill’s action-heavy Bat-Family thriller continues in Batman and the Outsiders #2. Leaning into the heavy emotions and bone-crunching action that made his Michael Cray series so fun, Hill continues to build out his “Demon” influenced game of cat-and-mouse as Batman, Black Lightning, and the rest of the Outsiders work to keep new metahuman Sofia safe from Ra’s and his seemingly immortal agent Ishamel. Artist Dexter Soy continues to work really well with Hill, translating his punchy dialogue and kinetic action beautifully onto the page. The best example for this would be the issue’s main set piece, which finds the whole might of the Outsiders vs. Ishmael in a roadside motel. The pair even give us a Bat-themed version of a “fastball special” between The Signal and Orphan! Armed with drive and sterling characterization Batman the Outsiders #2 deftly avoids the sophomore slump.
Banjax #1 (Published by Action Labs Comics; Review by Matthew Sibley; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10) First issues can often provide an overview, an idea of what the series will be like with brief hints of backstory that can be explored down the road. The hook of Banjax #1 is how detailed a rise and fall it provides within its pages, frontloading itself with that backstory with the intention of helping to understand its main character’s present-day mindset in an even stronger way. Set in Los Angeles, writer Rylend Grant jumps into nearly almost 50 years of history about Laird, a boy who came from a broken home, ended up on the streets and eventually became a vigilante. Within this tale, there are cycles. Of abuse. Of addiction. As he falls, another rises to take his place. Fabio Alves and Edson Ferreira capture the heaviness of the story with how austere everything around the characters looks. This interpretation of LA is gloom-ridden and violent – red being the colour that most permeates the grey skies. Some more character-focused beats of the book get rushed through so Grant can fit everything in, but as mentioned, it’s a first issue, there’s presumably time to flesh these out in a later one.
G.L.O.W. #2 (Published by IDW; Review by C.K. Stewart, ‘Rama Rating 8 out of 10): The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling struggle to fit in while the Star Primas plot to find a way to make sure their hard-hitting style is taken seriously at Reseda Wrestlefest -- whether the women of G.L.O.W. are ready or not! Writer Tini Howard strikes an excellent balance between the ah, spicier tone of the original Netflix show and IDW’s more young reader friendly audience, delivering a script full of tongue-in-cheek humor and a lot of heart, especially in Carmen’s storyline. Artist Hannah Templer and colorist Rebecca Nalty continue to impress, particularly Templer; her style is fun and inviting, and offers a much friendlier/more neutral framing of different body types than wrestling comics or comics centered around physicality tend to. This is a fun, breezy interlude between seasons for fans of the series, and easy to dive into even for folks who don’t consider themselves wrestling fans.
Superman #12 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): “The Unity Saga” starts to deliver answers along with affecting moments between the reunited House of El in Superman #12. Picking up after Supergirl and Krypto’s appearance in the last issue, Superman, Jon, and Jor-El stand aganist the united hordes of Rogol-Zarr, with Kara and the Super-Dog right alongside them. Though that might just seem like another decompressed “fight” comic, Brian Michael Bendis starts making real headway to revealing the true fate of Krypton, using every characters’ relationships with one another (including one General Zod) to support the “clues”. Artists Ivan Reis and Alex Sinclair have an absolute ball with the epic setting and action, tempering Bendis’ engaging narration with giant displays of space battles and broadly expressive characters. Superman started relatively big, but as you’ll see with issue 12, it aims to just keep getting bigger.
Catwoman #12 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10) Joelle Jones’ run on Catwoman has quietly plugged along as a fun little heist book with a lot of heart. This issue feels a little bit more passive because of the focus on Selina’s partner-in-crime, Carlos, but it showcases Houser’s ability to make Catwoman a compelling character outside the confines of Gotham City and the Bat-family at large. Kudos to her for creating a larger world for Selina Kyle to inhabit. The art switches back and forth a bit between Fernando Blanco and Hugo Petrus and for the most part it’s a pretty smooth affair. Petrus doesn’t try to do too much with his pages which allows them to blend decently well with Blanco’s even when Blanco turns in a few stunners. I’d prefer a full issue of Blanco’s work but the editorial team made a solid choice in asking Petrus to fill in where necessary. If art crime and espionage-flavored superheroing interests you, Catwoman should be right up your alley.
Silver Surfer: Black #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge; ‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10) Donny Cates proves to be Marvel’s “power cosmic” in the thrilling and gorgeous Silver Surfer: Black. Tying together elements of his expansive Guardians of the Galaxy works and his cosmic horror flavored Venom run, Cates uses both to inform a truly fantastic Silver Surfer tale. One that provides a nice origin bedrock for those unfamiliar with the Sentinel of the Spaceways while also delivering an engaging connection to current Marvel continuity. Artists Tradd Moore and Dave Stewart prove the perfect art team to render this expansive and trippy tale as both Moore’s nebulous pencils and Stewarts acid-drenched colors merge in the best possible ways. Ready made for a black light or maybe even some sick van art, Silver Surfer: Black is a rollicking, mind-altering debut.
Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #5 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10) “How many times have the X-Men sabotaged their own dreams?” As the world that X-Man has built begins to really show some cracks, Lonnie Nadler and Zach Thompson give us some insight into why Nate Grey would do this to the X-Men in the first place. And what we get wings together fairly nicely with what we saw in the “Disassembled” arc even if it feels like the narrative wheels have spun across this event. Still, the lead into a proper conclusion in the upcoming Omega issue has potential to really tie all these somewhat disparate miniseries together in a meaningful way. The writers have set the stage for themselves to make a statement. On the art side, Marco Failla turns in a great effort. Someone should be giving this guy more work as soon as possible. The zipatone effect is a little heavy in the opening scene but on the whole, this is one of the more satisfying issues of the entirety of the “Age of X-Man.”