Fifth week of the month, not much out, but I still found enough comics to review!
Mark Waid’s reinvention on Archie and company continues and gets even stronger in its third outing by introducing us to Veronica herself who is the main focus of the issue. Archie is once again absolutely smitten with her once she arrives and offers himself as her guide to Riverdale High School. Already knowing how Archie, Jughead, and Betty operate, Veronica’s focus issue was some breezy fun despite feeling a bit old hat. She’s the daughter of one of the richest people in the world so the culture clash beats could be seen a mile away, but as per usual it’s all about execution and how Waid finds the right humor beats in the culture clash and how Fiona Staples’ art brings it across, it’s a winning combination.
Veronica is a fully realized character by the end of the issue and how she totes Archie around does make for some really good laughs along with Jughead trying to convince Betty help him get Archie out from under her spell. There’s even a damn good scene with Betty and Veronica in the restroom that has a great way to even further flesh out her character and Betty’s as well. Veronica feels familiar, but modern as well.
I’m sad Staples is only on here for the first three. Not just because I’d love to have double the amount of her art on my pull list each month, but she’s given such a great look to Riverdale and helped make the book as enjoyable as it is. I’m unaware of who is coming on to pencil the book now, but they kinda do have a tough act to follow with her presence.
Archie #3 keeps the runaway success of the book going and makes for some really good fun with the occasional gut busting belly laugh. This book keeps on surprising. 5/5
Godzilla In Hell #3
Answers are revealed in the latest issue of the IDW series as to why exactly Godzilla is in hell and it seems to have to do with the result of a battle with Space Godzilla and the issue goes from there to introduce a whole new plot element into Godzilla’s trek through the underworld.
What makes this series work is the intrigue from the title and premise. This may seem like a gimmick, but it’s an effective one. Godzilla is such a cultural icon that people are always up for seeing the big lizard wrecking stuff up. Said battle between Godzilla and Space Godzilla is effectively well done and it’s a sight to behold thanks to the greatly detailed art of Buster Moody. Moody paces that and really the whole issue itself out perfectly for an effective slow burn approach to the story written by Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas. Both space the events of the issue out well that gives us the kaiju fighting we want to see, but providing answers and introducing new story elements that certainly give the book a lot more intrigue than it already had. The book has a lot more going on in it than many may think. The issue makes me really wanna keep reading it to see where it goes and how it all ends.
Godzilla In Hell keeps readers along on an engaging journey that takes a bit of an interesting turn while providing what fans want, know, and love about the monster himself. Gorgeous art and a great hook of a story make this book worth looking at. Trust me, there is so much to enjoy. 5/5
Batman Annual #4
James Tynion IV is back yet again to pen a Batman Annual and I think this one is another great addition. Tynion busted onto the scene by co-writing the first Batman Annual of the New 52 with Snyder and has spun off into his own great success within the comics industry both with the Caped Crusader and without him. I do enjoy his Batman work for he really gets the world so well. His Annuals are a highlight to me and the last one he did that was related to Endgame was incredible. This is no different.
Tynion tells a story of what actually happened to Arkham Manor. Remember that short series? Wayne Manor turned into Arkham? It was okay, but not much has been said about it since the final issue. Well Bruce is ready to get it back, but is hesitant. Too bad for him, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and Clayface are there to play a very nasty mind game on Bruce. The issue is heavier on characterization than it is plot, much like the last Annual and it works. Bruce is being taunted by Riddler into answering and accepting what Bruce is and while it plays well over the issue, the conclusion left me going, “Really?” I don’t want to go too heavy into spoilers for it since it’s all about the answer that Riddler wants to hear and all, it’s just frustrating for what it could have been rather than what it is. That said I still say pick it up because Tynion gives such a great voice to all of the characters involved. Particularly Bruce Wayne as we get to understand more of him post Endgame.
Art by Roge Antonio is pretty and really invoked Rafael Albuquerque. Like really, almost exact in how nicely detailed things are and the facial expressions. I’d like to see his art further evolve since again it really seems a lot similar to Albuquerque, but I’m not saying that’s all bad. It’s a pretty issue for sure.
Batman Annual #4 is a fun character piece that lets us further inside the mind of the new Bruce Wayne while engaging us with the villains and really good art. 3.5/5
Ghost Racers #4
I think this whole final issue of the Secret Wars miniseries just made this the best mini to me. I’ve been loving Ghost Racers from the start and man it ends on such a great note that wraps everything up successfully leaves you feeling happy. Ever since Felipe Smith introduced us to Robbie Reyes I’ve wondered what he might do with all Ghost Riders. He already had Johnny Blaze in All-New Ghost Rider, which was great, but what about Danny Ketch, Alejandra Jones, and Carter Slade? Well he writes them all exceptionally. He really has a great love for this niche part of the Marvel Universe.
Seeing his younger brother Gabe being used as bait, Robbie must bite and go into one last race at the Killiseum and save Gabe from Arcade and Zadkiel. From then on the issue is a fiery ball of furious action and excitement that is so well captured by the pencils of Juan Gedeon. He perfectly gives great expressions to everyone in the moment and reacting to moments, but it’s really his stylized action of the book that is amazing. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain also helps to give the book that added extra punch it needs to look incredible. Bit heavy of the oranges, but with as much fire going on in this book, that’s to be expected.
Ghost Racers combines high-octane story and high-octane action for a powerful combination that is fun, exciting, thrilling, and memorable from start to finish. This is instantly one of the best things Marvel has produced in quite some time. Please do pick this up when it’s out in trade! 5/5
Mark Waid’s anthology series gets weirder as we follow the harrowing adventures of the one person capable enough to help save the multiverse, Howard the Duck! No seriously.
Not really related to Secret Wars, but fallout from Spider-Verse, Leo Fitz is teamed up with Howard to travel throughout to try to save the multiverse. The joy of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that they are one-and-done adventures. I’ll be honest, I often miss that from comics. There are some doing it, but story arcs are more of the norm now and I love story arcs, but sometimes you’re in the mood for something that has a beginning, middle, and an end. Minus the one two-part story the book has done, but still. It’s a fun and adventurous book.
As said, Leo and Howard are the sole focus here and they are quite the unexpected duo. Waid makes this pairing work. Fitz has translated very well to the world of Marvel Comics from Marvel TV. Waid really understands the character and makes him a more than capable lead. Howard on the other hand is as funny as ever her with his usual sarcastic gruff, but caring heart. There’s more than one side of Howard explored thanks to the multiverse premise, but aside from seeing various versions of Howard, there is honest depth given to the character. It’s a surprisingly emotional tale that also really brings the funny with it too. Even Fitz gets some nice development, but it’s solely Howard’s issue and it’s a damn good one.
Artist Evan Shaner has a great sense of fun with his art here getting to play with the multiverse within Marvel. People, perspective, and props are all on full display here in great form. Particularly with Howard who is a character that can lead to many fun things to do with a wide range of emotions to play with given how all over the place the character is and can be. It’s a lot of fun.
S.H.I.E.L.D. #10 continues the fun and excitement the series has brought with its concept and lets us get deeper with characters this issue and has some fun art to boot. 5/5
Cullen Bunn’s run on Aquaman I feel like has finally taken off. Since #41 I think the book, while good, wasn’t really grabbing me and I was thinking of backlogging this to my trade wait list. The latest issue has finally gotten things pumped up with Aquaman left for himself to fend for Atlantis from sorcerers of a mirror shadow realm of Atlantis that’s working with Siren who currently poses as Mera. Aquaman on the run was good, but seeing him come back to Atlantis made the story much better now since it gives us a further understanding of his motivation right now and of the story, which in the previous issue got a significant info dump that helped kick it up a notch.
One highlight is the time spent with Aquaman and Siren posing as Mera. Such engaging conversations that has some much needed tension to it and helps raises the stakes for Aquaman’s mission in saving Atlantis. Bunn really is great and big ideas and writing some weird and cool action, but he really does excel at understanding his characters from his creator owned works to the superheroes he’s given to write.
Alec Morgan puts down the layouts of the book, but Art Thibert and Jesus Merino do the finished art with Guy Major on colors and it’s a pretty book. For an Aquaman book to be really something to me, writing of course has to be there, but given that its Aquaman, art really needs a step up given the corners of ocean life that can be covered and all the creatures involved. The art team here gets that, the people look good, Atlantis looks alive and vibrant, and the sea life is fantastic to look at. It takes a special skill to me to really screw up art on an Aquaman book. Thankfully that’s not the case here.
Where Aquaman #44 ends is a captivating cliffhanger that definitely makes me want to keep reading it month to month now that the story has started to really get going. Really recommended. 4/5
Join me next week as we get ready for the new rash of fall books as I’ll be flipping through the pages.