April 24th, 2024

Rob's Picks:

Spectregraph #1 - In the latest book from DSTLRY, James Tynion takes on two of the scariest things ever; ghosts, and the rich. In 1967, a wealthy man obsessed with the occult built a new home on the California coast. The mansion is a reflection of his strange interests, the walls filled with clockwork and strange machines of unknown purpose. For real estate agent Janie, the deceased Mr. Hall’s house is a hard sell, but the right buyer may have finally come in the form of Vesper Quinn, representative of a mysterious group of goth creeps with deep pockets. A guided tour goes off course and the hidden purpose of the Hall house is revealed, trapping Janie in a waking nightmare. Tynion puts together a great first act, building a sense of dread and doing some amazing character writing. Artist Christian Ward (Batman: City of Madness) is a perfect pairing, his characters have an energy in their movements and expression that feels almost lifelike. When the supernatural intrudes on this sense of reality, the results are truly otherworldly. It’s a gorgeous book, and a great read for those who enjoy horror classics like Thirteen Ghosts or Haunting of Hill House.

Ultimate Spider-Man #4 - Hickman just dropped one of his best single issues of anything ever, a masterclass in dialogue that finds the Parkers on a double date with Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy. It is remarkable how this book keeps finding unexpected ways to please the audience. I didn’t know we would get an issue that is ninety percent uncostumed characters having a conversation, and I could not have predicted it would be one of the most engaging, page-turning reads of the last year or more of Spidey books. Everything is being written between the lines, but every word of this issue cuts to the core of this series, laying out the themes and conflicts at play. Osborn is preparing to take on the secret masters of the Ultimate universe, while Pete is still trying to figure out the right way to be a hero. We get to see more of Pete and MJ together than we have so far and their dynamic as a couple is delightfully charming. Hickman is putting a lot of heart into this book. This is becoming more than just a damn good Spider-man comic, it is a reason to fall in love with this character all over again.

Universal Monsters: Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives #1 - Ram V and Dan Watters helm this second outing for Universal Studios line of comics based on their roster of iconic monsters. Each limited series stands alone, letting the artists on this team make something very different in form and tone than Tynions Dracula. That book paired bold impressionistic imagery with prose that deferred heavily to Bram Stoker. Watters and Ram V opt for a far pulpier style for their take on the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s an appropriate choice for a story of exploration and danger in the jungles of South America. Kate Marsden is a journalist tracking the story of a serial killer, a story that may have become personal after she got too close once before. The trail has gone cold in the Amazon, leaving her waiting for some new clue to cross her path. Things might be heating up as bodies begin to surface in the river, but the locals lay the blame on the legend of the Creature, and following one monster soon leads Marsden to another.

Solomon's Picks:

Jackpot & Black Cat #2 - Jackpot and Black Cat have returned, and this issue was tons of fun! We see them pull a heist at the order of Obscura, resulting in some interesting exchanges between the two heroines and their respective partners. This issue serves as a bit of a practice session for MJ while Felicia teaches her a few different ways to creatively handle her problems on the field. The friendship between MJ and Felicia is always enjoyable to read, and this storyline has been leaning heavily into that. There is a surprise ending as we get to find out who exactly is behind the organization, and I am absolutely eager to see how this plays out! Grab a copy of this book today!

Ultimate Spider-Man #4 - This story hasn’t missed yet! Taking a break from the Super-Heroing, this issue sees Peter and Harry enjoying a double date with their wives while discussing the events happening in the city. We see Harry confront Peter on telling Mary Jane the truth, and we see Harry’s wife (Trust me, you’ll be surprised, but pleased) offering “Suggestions” to the two about furthering their careers and personal lives. MJ also has an opportunity to help out Ben and Jonah with their new business, finally giving her some time to shine in this book. I loved this issue, definitely nailed a mostly conversation-driven issue without boring the reader, really fleshing the characters out. The Ultimate Universe has been an excellent move from Marvel, and the quality hasn’t dipped in any of the stories, so come grab them and immerse yourself if you haven’t.

Star Wars: Darth Maul Black, White & Red - The last Black, White, and Red story within the Star Wars mythos was a treat to experience, and this newest entry was no different! By Benjamin Percy, Stefano Raffaele, and Raúl Angulo, this story revolves around Darth Maul. We see him on an expedition towards a “prison planet” at the request of Darth Sidious. He must hunt down a group who has been using ancient Dark Magic, causing disorder to ripple through the galaxy. This issue was filled with imagery and designs very reminiscent of ‘Alien’, adding a welcomed horror-vibe to the book. Maul’s beastly personality is given several moments to shine in this book, from the wonderfully inked fights where we see him mowing down dozens, or the intense space segments we watch him navigate. I loved this issue, and any Star Wars fan should be sure to grab a copy!