December 20th, 2023

Rob's Picks:

Animal Pound #1

Tom King puts his spin on Orwell’s "Animal Farm," with satisfying results. This story of dogs and cats uniting against man is told with gravitas, finding humor in an elevated self-seriousness rather than winking at the reader. This tone is established from page one, as old dog Lucky monologues on the nature of man, a creature that demands love from those it imprisons. Lucky dreams of a day when pets will open their own cages, inspiring the kitten Fifi to forge an alliance with the dogs. Revolution is no less political in the world of animals; the success of their coup will depend on overcoming doubt and the prejudice of generations. King's focus seems to be less on the drama of the uprising itself, which does play out in riveting fashion, and more on the potential consequences of victory; what becomes of allies in the absence of the common enemy. A terrifically satisfying read.

The Incredible Hulk #7

The cross-country monster mash arc has been paying amazing dividends for this series. The focus on impactful horror visuals and action-driven storytelling makes every issue a page-turner, and the deft writing of Phillip Kennedy Johnson makes both the personal and world-shaking stakes land with equal impact. Hulk and Charlie are taking a rest far off the beaten path in rural Texas in a community of migrant laborers. Something evil lurks in the rocky country, but these hospitable people have a guardian angel; their very own Ghost Rider. This new flaming-skulled hero has a WWII aesthetic, complete with a vintage army bike and Thompson gun. Making the understandable mistake of assuming the Hulk is an imminent danger, the two duke it out, the fighting growing from awesome to epic with the arrival of the real threat. Hulk is growing closer to Charlie despite himself, but while this relationship touches on his humanity, it hasn’t brought him any closer to Banner.

G.O.D.S. #3

Threads are starting to come together in Hickman’s "G.O.D.S." Wyn calls another emergency meeting with The Natural Order and brings Doctor Strange along. Gods, great and small, are intruding on the cosmos, and these protectors of reality are no closer to understanding the cause or purpose. The revelations of Cubisk Core are only cause for more of the usual bickering, while catastrophe inches closer. In this issue's B-plot, we learn about one Amelia Anderson, born with the power of prophecy, but doomed to be unheeded. She has seen the great calamity that will destroy the world and decides to take action. Visions can be deceiving, and the arrival of a being with the not very promising name of Oblivion upends the best-laid plans of all parties. With the role that ancient and terrible gods have taken in several major Marvel titles, it’s clear that this series will tie into the events of books like "Immortal Thor," "Blade," and "Incredible Hulk." With how satisfying all those series have been in their own right, I’m eager to see these stories converge.

Solomon's Picks:

The Agent #1

From Mathieu Gabella, Fernando Dagnino, and Carlos Morote comes "The Agent!" A riveting debut issue. We follow a woman named Rhym, a special agent with a very unique skill set. She is in pursuit of a local drug dealer for the majority of the issue while bantering with her soon-to-be-revealed team. Suddenly, reality starts shifting around her as the suspect throws a mysterious substance into the air after firing a bullet. Further distortions take place, adding another layer to this already strange case. The deuteragonist, Sebastien Ferrant, is a no-nonsense John Wick type who seems to be an expert with these distortions, presenting himself as very jaded. The premise in this first issue is interesting, and I’m looking forward to the second issue when these two agents meet face-to-face! With wonderful illustrations and a unique way of presenting the story, I’m very excited about where this story will end up!

Animal Pound #1

It’s not too often you read a book about dogs and cats and walk away with deeply existential questions and an altered worldview, but "Animal Pound" finds a way to do just that! From the brilliant minds of Tom King and Peter Gross, "Animal Pound" is a wild ride that calls morality and ideals into question through the perspective of our pets. Following a dog being put down, this first issue sees FiFi, a cat who resides in an animal pound, planning and executing a revolt against mankind. A very unique story, this book is absolutely filled to the brim with loads of thought-provoking, introspective material, not to mention some of the most impactful lines of the year. Wonderfully inked and well-written, this story about our favorite furballs has much more lying underneath, and I can’t recommend picking up a copy of this book today enough!

Spider-Boy #2

Another spectacular issue from the sidekick nobody remembers, Spider-Boy! This issue is fun and charming as it shows Spider-Boy teaming up with Captain America (Steve Rogers) to take down Taskmaster himself! We see Bailey learning the harsh sacrifices necessary to be a Spider-Person, as well as bonding with Steve over their many similarities. The fight between Taskmaster and the duo was a blast to read and really highlights the new sidekick's creativity and quick thinking. I’ve absolutely been loving the Spider-Boy run so far, and I mean this entirely when I say this is one of Marvel’s most charismatic titles of the year. Christmas-themed and delightful, this is the perfect book to grab this week—and if you haven’t already, make sure you grab issue #1 and follow along to see where Bailey ends up next!