June 5th, 2024

Rob's Picks:

The Ultimates #1

The new Ultimate Universe can’t be stopped! Week after week, the titles coming from Marvel’s rebooted Ultimate line are among (if not THE) best on the shelf, setting a high bar for future releases. Writer Deniz Camp (20th Century Men, Children of the Vault) and artist Juan Frigeri (The Invincible Iron Man) had a big assignment with this overstuffed team book and they are more than up to the task. The Ultimates #1 follows up on Ultimate Invasion and Ultimate Universe more directly than the other titles launched so far, showing what Iron Lad and Doom have been up to and how their plan to stop the Maker is evolving. Their plan to reintroduce the superhero catalysts stolen by the evil Reed Richards has had mixed results, producing more unintended consequences than heroes. The newly thawed Steve Rogers sees what the two geniuses cannot; to recruit heroes and win this war they need boots on the ground. Outside the established ongoing narrative, a pair of heroes make their UU debut. Getting to know the new Peter Parker has been a treat, but it’s good to see the overarching plot building up steam again. This issue has one hell of a climax, an absolute banger of a battle where our heroes finally step out of the shadows and take the fight against the Maker into the streets.

Blood Hunters #2

The second issue of Blood Hunters is something of an anthology, with three separate stories of Marvel superheroes dealing with the ongoing vampire crisis. We begin with the good doctor Bruce Banner, coping with the twin horrors of vampires and childhood trauma. Having to fight monsters that just hours ago were ordinary people has Banner reflecting on a messy encounter with a rabid dog as he tears his way through the bloodsucking hordes. Smashing his problems is typically easier than navigating his personal issues, but these vamps have a serious upgrade courtesy of the Hulk's gamma-tainted blood. The second story is at least somewhat lighter, following Kate Bishop. Coming to the rescue of Dante Malik, a doctor who has picked up a few tricks for dealing with bloodsuckers. His knowledge is based on some troubling firsthand experience, causing Kate to turn on her new ally. Lastly, we’re treated to a character I’ve wanted to see more of since the last Werewolf By Night one-shot, Elsa Bloodstone. After a cozy evening with Frankenstein's Monster is interrupted, she finally joins the fray, teaming with Dagger to fight it out in the streets of NYC. Remains to be seen how (or if) these characters all come together as a team, but for now this book is proving a great outlet for exactly the kind of blood-soaked schlock an event like this is made for.

Scarlett #1

The Energon Universe does it again! The GI Joe side of the shared universe came out of the gate strong with Duke, then went even harder with the unreasonably excellent Cobra Commander. This week Image gives our favorite redheaded superspy (sorry Natasha) her own self-titled limited series. Out of all the writers working today, they couldn’t make a better choice for this than Kelly Thompson. Her work on Birds of Prey has made it one of DC’s very best, and Thompson brings the same tight plotting and sharp dialogue to Scarlett. Shana O’Hara has a new mission; infiltrate Clan Arashikage. Her skills as a spy are enough of a reason to send her, but she has a personal connection that might serve as her way in. Jinx, her former partner, has become an enforcer for the mysterious ninja clan. Arashikage has a secret weapon, and Scarlett will need all her wits and wiles to maintain her cover and find the source of their power. Between the impeccable quality of Image Comics’ previous Joe books and the reputation of Thompson aren’t enough reasons to check this out, I’ll give you one more: it’s just a damn fun book in its own right.

Solomon's Picks:

The Ultimates #1

Deniz Camp, Juan Frigeri, and Federico Blee give us a fantastic start to what I’m hoping is a legendary run! Many of us have been waiting to see how Marvel would update the Ultimates from its original storyline back in the early 2000s, and I can safely say I was not disappointed! The storyline is incredibly well thought out, and not a single dialogue bubble, panel, or drop of ink is wasted! It quickly recaps and catches us up on events that happened in and since Ultimate Invasion, showing how the team has been attempting (unsuccessfully) to slowly recruit a team of supes to restore the universe to what it should have been. The characters have their own unique outlooks on life and instead of offering a few cheap panels to establish this, Deniz Camp takes time to properly establish these differences, only furthering the quality of this book. While there are definitely a few things I was hoping to see, this first issue was an incredibly strong start and I’m fairly confident that issue two is going to make a statement!

Minor Threats: Fastest Way Down #3

Issue three of Minor Threats was an excellent read with some incredibly illustrated action sequences, high stakes met by devastating consequences, and a deeper dive into the life and family of our main character! While I think the first two issues have been incredible, this issue easily has been my favorite so far! You can tell the team took their time putting all the pieces in place the first two issues, with tension amongst certain characters finally reaching its climax, Frankie’s impending breakdown only being further accelerated as the ones she thought she could trust consistently go behind her back, and much much more. This issue was fantastic and I highly recommend you pick this book and series up if you haven’t already!

Jackpot & Black Cat #3

The hunt for Obscura is nearing its end with issue three of Jackpot and Black Cat arriving on shelves this week! MJ finally confronts Felicia for the truth about her new partner, and we see that Felicia’s attachment issues are still deeply rooted. My favorite portion of this issue was definitely the train fight scene where NYC civilians and D-list villains attempt to capture Jackpot. This story has been doing a good job at introducing MJ to more urgent conflicts with every issue, making her time as Jackpot a very fun and refreshing one! Definitely excited to see how this story wraps up and what the future holds for Mary Jane and Felicia!