January 17th, 2024

Rob's Picks:

Avengers: Twilight #1 - An aging hero battles against a dystopian future; it may not be an entirely fresh concept, having already been explored in works like Kingdom Come, but writer Chip Zdarsky is making it his own. Steve Rogers knows what it is to be a man out of time, but drained of his super-soldier serum, the old man of the Avengers is feeling his age more than ever. The world has moved on from the age of costumed heroes and villains, seeing little difference between the two. So little that even the Red Skull is getting a retrial in the court of public opinion. Rogers soldiers on, as do fellow old-timers Luke Cage and Matt Murdoch, some of the few who remain from their era after a cataclysm known as “H-Day.” This first issue is mostly preoccupied with Rogers contemplating his legacy and establishing the apparent villain of the series, James Stark, son of Iron Man and Wasp. Artist Daniel Acuña and colorist Gregory Wright create a future dystopia that is dynamic and vibrant, with underlying darkness showing around the edges.

Invasive #2 - The creep factor continues to rise in the body-horror-infused mystery from Oni Press. Dr. Reynolds and Detective Hudgins have combined their individual, and so far fruitless, investigations. As the two follow up on the surgery addiction support group, Hudgins goes full Bad Cop in pursuit of a lead, revealing to Reynolds that his motivations are just as personal as hers. This issue sees our main characters inching toward the answers they’re after, learning a great deal more about each other on the way. People changed by taking and being taken to extremes are the central theme of this series, and our two detectives begin to understand how far they are willing to go. For each, seeing what this investigation has made of the other causes at first revulsion, then a mutual understanding; they will both go as far as it takes. We see little of the central antagonist in this issue, but his orderlies arrive in time for a bloody conclusion to pay off the dreadful tension that hangs over this chapter.

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Dead in America #1 - England's best paranormal investigator crosses the pond for a new series from Simon Spurrier (Damn Them All) and artist Aaron Campbell (West of Sundown.) The events of the last Hellblazer series have left Constantine's sidekicks in hot water, and the man himself dead. Decaying flesh and a lack of a beating heart won’t stop the man from making things right, especially for his son, Noah. Crossing the country in a double-decker bus, John dishes out his observations on America with the usual acidic humor. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Hellblazer story without powers beyond his control interfering in his plans. Enter: Dream of the Endless. When the Sandman was imprisoned way back when, his bag of sand changed hands many times, crossing the world before falling into the hands of Constantine. Over that time, many tried to use its powers, and a few grains remain loose, and whoever possesses them is interfering in Dream's dominion over the collective dreams of America. Spurrier and Campbell have not missed a beat, returning in perfect form. Following the excellent Nightmare Country, this series looks to be another welcome addition to the recent run of excellent Sandman Universe series.

Solomon's Picks:

Jackpot #1: Gang War has given us a lot of gems, but Jackpot is definitely one of my favorites so far! If you haven’t been following Amazing Spider-Man’s current run, then you may be a bit lost as to how MJ ended up as Jackpot, but to sum it up: Mary Jane was stuck in another universe and came out of it with a strange device that gave her superpowers. Now here we are with Jackpot #1 given to us by Celeste Bronfman, Joey Vazquez, and Edgar Delgado. In this thrilling story and new arc, it opens up and wastes little to no time throwing MJ into the ongoing fight for NYC. A good majority of the issue is MJ attempting to take down Electro in a wonderfully illustrated battle in the air while doing her best to minimize harm to civilians and the environment. The humor between Jackpot and She-Hulk had to be some of my favorite moments in this book, with a close second being a moment where MJ wastes absolutely no time throwing herself into danger to save a collapsing bridge. In my opinion, while the dialogue definitely doesn’t always hit as well as I think it could, everything else about this issue does such a wonderful job that you really don’t notice this unless you’re viewing it through a more critical lens. I can’t wait to follow along with her journey as Jackpot through the remainder of Gang War and again in March when MJ and Black Cat team up again!

Invasive #2: An outstanding follow-up issue to Invasive hit the shelves this week! Another disturbingly satisfying read, the somber tone present in the previous issue carries throughout the entirety of this one while the story introduces more characters battling with polysurgical addiction. Everyone has their own reasons for diving into such a disturbing lifestyle, and I really appreciate how the story has been delivering multiple points of view for what may go through someone's head or what could have led to making such a brash decision. You really get a deeper dive into the main duo's resolve and how far they’re willing to go to uncover this horrifying mystery plaguing their city. Towards the end of the book is a big surprise and some pretty gnarly character designs that only make me all the more excited for where this story is headed. Cullen Bunn and Jesús Hervás are really creating something special with this series, and I strongly urge everyone to come into the store and buy a physical copy so we can keep getting more of this!

The Bloody Dozen #2: Bloody Dozen is FINALLY back, and I absolutely loved this entry! This issue was packed with tons of information surrounding the world, mythos, characters, etc. That being said, it was still a surprisingly quick read, and at no point did I feel like there was an information overload. It does a good job of balancing how much information it could pour onto the page while still ensuring it was entertaining for the reader. Our main cast received some major upgrades and training from an ancient organization known as The Shrouded College, who they will be working with for the remainder of the issue. I’m not sure if I mentioned this in the previous review, but the art by Alberto Alburquerque is incredibly satisfying and helps to sell the energy this story is aiming for!