March 27th, 2024

Rob's Picks:

X-Men ‘97 #1 - The beloved Saturday morning cartoon series that introduced a generation to Marvel’s X-Men has made a triumphant return to screens! With the new show picking up not quite where we left off, this four-issue limited series exists to fill in the gaps and reintroduce our uncanny heroes. In the wake of Charles Xavier's act of self-sacrifice, public opinion on mutant-kind has begun to shift, yet they still have enemies to spare, and the X-Men are struggling to hold together in his absence. The first installment certainly has the feel of the ‘97 cartoon. For readers who have been following the recent runs of X titles, it’s almost jarring to see these characters in this more archetypal form, but the back-to-basics approach to plot and characterization becomes a big part of this book's charm. Writer Steve Foxe (All Eight Eyes) follows the formula of Saturday morning storytelling, hitting all the expected beats while never overstepping into fan service or imposing a more current narrative style. There’s training in the Danger Room, Wolverine butting heads with Cyclops, a performance by Dazzler. The team of artist Salvador Espim and colorist Matt Milla bring the style of the 90’s series to the page exquisitely, helping this book surpass nostalgia bait and feel like a proper continuation.

Sam and Twitch: Case Files #1 - NYPD detectives Sam Burke and Twitch Williams have seen a lot, maybe too much, investigating the darkest corners of the Spawn universe. In the first issue of this new story from creator Todd Macfarlane, we begin to explore the toll it has taken on the two men and their partnership. Jaded from the very beginning, Burke has always been willing to break rules and get his hands dirty in the line of duty. His moral flexibility and impatience with the slow grinding of justice have only grown with the years and now a man who was a loose cannon at the best of times has become fully unhinged. Twitch has maintained the same cold detachment throughout his career, and for most of that time, he has turned a blind eye to his partner's unsavory methods, but when Sam's latest act of violence gets them both suspended, he finally asks if there is still a functional person to be salvaged from the wreckage of Detective Burke. The horrific mystery that will test (and perhaps break) their partnership is only teased in this issue, but Macfarlane looking back at the legacy of their previous adventures is greatly rewarding for those who have been following these two since their early days in the pages of Spawn.

Ultimate Spider-Man #3 - Ultimate Spider-Man can’t be stopped! The third installment brings more superheroics and costumed characters than the first two, including a rooftop chase with Green Goblin and Bullseye. As great as these moments are, Hickman does his best work giving us what these comics have been missing for so long; stories about people. Little slices of life from the Parkers, the rat-a-tat banter of J. Jonah and Ben, the subtle interplay of personalities draw us in and leave us wanting to see more scenes like Pete workshopping costume designs with his daughter. There are identity reveals and other developments of plot, but as excellently executed as they are, the appeal continues to be getting to know the new Peter Parker.

Solomon's Picks:

Jackpot and Mary Jane #1 - By Celeste Bronfman, Emilio Laiso, and Brian Reber, this wonderfully illustrated, action-packed story features two iconic characters! Jackpot & Black Cat continues MJ’s story as a new hero and also serves as a continuation of the previous Black Cat & Mary Jane Beyond series. A group known as “Obscura” has been blackmailing New York citizens through a mysterious app to commit a string of heinous crimes anonymously, and they have managed to blackmail Felicia herself. While on patrol, MJ catches Felicia in the act and questions her for information, but in true Black Cat fashion, she was less than eager to provide answers. We see MJ growing more comfortable with her powers and her title as a superhero rather quickly (with a bit of help from Paul as her guy in the chair). The parallel between how the two heroines operate in the opening pages and the stunning visuals are definitely my favorite parts of this book. While it’s off to a good start, I’m curious to see how this series can differentiate itself from the previous Beyond series while keeping the dynamic that made that book as enjoyable as it was.

Spider-Punk: Arms Race #2 - Hobie Brown returns this week with Spider-Punk #2! The illustrations by Justin Mason in this issue are incredible and continue to give this series a level of charm that I have been thoroughly enjoying. From bold colors and lettering to hilarious expressions/dialogue exchanges from the cast, this book definitely tries (and succeeds) at making a statement. The story treads into a dark area when Doc Ock begins to take matters into his own hands, a moment that is sure to shock readers! With loads of action, humor, and jaw-dropping moments, Arms Race is doing a wonderful job of satisfying the increasing demand for Spider-Punk stories!

Ultimate Spider-Man #3 - Ultimate Spider-Man has been fantastic so far, and I’ve been enjoying how everything has come together from the first two issues. As I assumed, this story would feature my favorite origin of the iconic Red & Blue suit, which this issue jumps into immediately. We see Peter and May sitting on a rooftop, coming up with different designs for what his suit should be. They bounce around ideas, allowing a chance for some fun references and banter between the father-daughter duo. Once they settle on the red & blue, Peter stops by Jameson and Ben’s new office to drop off a gift and gather a bit more information on this universe's Green Goblin. There was a quick stakeout montage and an excellent run-in between two villains before Peter interfered. We finally get to see who’s behind the Goblin mask and finally get a face-off between the two! This run has already solidified itself as a legendary one, so if for some reason you haven’t already, grab a copy now!