January 31st, 2024

Rob's Picks:

Duke #2 - The Energon Universe is wasting no time connecting its two powerhouse IPs, with Conrad “Duke” Hauser coming face-to-face with a robot in disguise in the very first issue of his self-titled series. Now on the run from his own government, he turns to his old friend and fellow American Hero™, Clutch. Duke needs a place to lay low and recover from last issue's injuries, but trouble is not far behind, and Clutch’s junkyard home is besieged by Rock N’ Roll. The action that follows meets the high standard set by the preceding Energon books. Across the board, the writers of these titles, including Duke’s Joshua Williamson, have done a remarkable job of crafting fresh stories using well-established characters, making something new from the familiar that is satisfying to fans but never feels like fan service. If high-quality action and writing aren’t enough, this issue also includes our first look at a few other fan-favorite characters, including Baroness.

Avengers: Twilight #2 - The first issue of this Kingdom Come spin on the Avengers was a damn good read, so the short wait for #2 was a pleasant surprise. Picking up right where we left off, the newly re-empowered Captain America takes to the streets, protecting the innocent and punching cops. Rumors of his return are spreading among the disenfranchised and downtrodden, but to most of the world, Cap and the new Defenders don’t exist. While Luke Cage cooks up a plan to make the world take notice, Steve reaches out to another former Avenger; Kamala Khan. She’s the first non-geriatric hero we’ve encountered, though no less affected by the years since H-day. James Stark and the mysterious Mr. Jarvis pull some serious strings to make Cap the target of the elite anti-supe military unit, the Thunderbolts. The plot thickens in oh so many ways, including a reveal of the old foes behind it all. This series is asking a lot of questions about heroism and morality, particularly how one can convince people to fight for a better tomorrow when they can’t see what is wrong with the present.

The Incredible Hulk #8 - The Hulk and the undead Ghostrider continue their fight with the War Devil. Attempting to possess the Hulk, the ancient spawn of the Eldest discovers his host already occupied by one Dr. Banner, and he is not impressed. Artist Nic Klien crafts some incredible nightmare imagery for Banner's mental prison, and while the monster brawl going on outside is no less fantastical, there is a grit and weight to it that stands in stark contrast to the phantasmagoric atmosphere of Hulk's internal hell. The overarching story takes a back seat for an especially action-heavy installment of an already action-heavy series, but writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson has made the journey thus far so satisfying that I am in no hurry for the destination.

Solomon's Picks:

Dead X-Men #1 - The end of the current X-Men arc is near, but not before the team hunts down Moira MacTaggert in a last-ditch effort to stop Mister Sinister from achieving Dominion status! Created by Steve Foxe, Jonas Scharf, Bernard Chang, and Vincenzo Carratù, this issue offers a fantastic narrative with absolutely stunning visuals. A team composed of Frenzy, Prodigy, Jubilee, Dazzler, and Cannonball is jumping from timeline to timeline to find a way to stop Mister Sinister and save their universe. We witness the worst-case scenario(s) for many different timelines, emphasizing just how important this mission is to the future of not only the X-Men but also mainline Marvel in general. If you haven’t been keeping up with the current story but want to know what’s been going on, this book is perfect for you as it quickly summarizes a majority of the important points within a short amount of time. This issue was undoubtedly a spectacle to witness, and with a few twists at the end, you’ll definitely want to pick up this epic story and follow it to its conclusion!

Moon Man #1 - Moon Man by Kid Cudi has finally arrived on shelves! Ever since "Entergalatic" released way back in September 2022, I have been eagerly awaiting this project since Cudi began teasing it on social media. Alongside co-writer Kyle Higgins and art by Marco Locati, Mescudi and crew have given us a new story, filled with commentary on “Selling Out,” shame and redemption, torn family dynamics, and more! The illustrations by Marco Locati, and colors by Igor Monti create an enjoyable atmosphere, especially when Ramon, the main character, has his powers activated. When powered up, the world becomes this beautiful assortment of abstract shapes and colors, similar to the animation and styles found in the Spider-Verse movies. While we still aren’t sure how he got his powers, we know it has something to do with a failed attempt to land on the moon that he and his crew undertook. This first issue was enjoyable, and I definitely think this story is only going to get better from here!

Jill And The Killers #1 - From Olivia Cuartero-Briggs and Roberta Ingranata comes "Jill And the Killers"! A very interesting story that follows a young girl named Jill, who is re-entering society after the death of her mother, almost one year later. She finds that her friends and her ex-girlfriend have moved on after she isolated herself, and in a frantic attempt to rekindle their connection, she purchases a true-crime inspired game that has been blowing up that leads them into a real-life murder-mystery that seems to be connected to her mother's disappearance. The art in this book is excellent and helps with the strange-but-fitting charm of this story. While this first issue definitely focuses more on setting the motives and personalities of the cast, the story and surrounding mystery are still captivating. I can’t wait for the second issue and strongly recommend you come pick up a copy!