March 6th, 2024

Rob's Picks:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin II Re-Evolution #1 - The highly anticipated sequel finally hits the shelves. When the original Last Ronin arrived in 2020, it revitalized TMNT. The return to the harder-edged style of the early series brought old fans back into the fold and made converts out of a new generation getting their first taste of the vintage Eastman style. Following on from the Lost Years series, issue #1 returns us to the streets of NYC in the near future. With the defeat of the Foot Clan, the city has become a war zone, new factions emerging to claim power and territory. The only one fighting for the people of the city is Casey Marie Jones, resistance leader and mentor to a new generation of mutant ninjas. Like their predecessors, these adolescent turtles have been raised in secret from the world at large, dwelling in shadow and occasionally sneaking out for pizza. The legacy of the original four brothers looms large over them, prompting one of this issue’s highlights, an evocatively rendered retelling of the saga of Hamato and the Foot Clan. Like Splinter before her, Jones is a tough but loving ninja master. Her young charges still have much to learn, but the city's descent into chaos forces our new heroes on the half shell into action, ready or not. Eastman and Waltz are having their cake and eating it too, penning a book that stands tall on the TMNT legacy while charging into a future of all-new adventures.

The Spectacular Spider-Men #1 - Peter Parker and Miles Morales join forces for a new ongoing team-up series. Writer Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, Young Justice: Targets) puts his best foot forward with this premiere issue. With so many spider-books competing for our attention these days, a good first impression is more important than ever. Besides having to stand out from the mainline Spider-man and Miles Morales titles, any webhead adjacent series has to face comparisons with the already lauded Ultimate Spider-man. Weisman rises to the occasion, setting this story apart with a more light-hearted tone and a quick but never rushed sense of pace. Spidey stories have mined plenty of pathos from burdens of Great Responsibility, perhaps too much in recent years, and while Ultimate Spidey has found a fulfilling way to flip the script on the overplayed “Parker Luck,” it’s refreshing to get a book that side-steps the heavier elements in favor of fun. The story jumps back and forth between quip-filled acrobatic action and sitcom humor; the fact that Spider-man's roster of minor villains and side characters make New York feel like a small town is used to great comedic effect. The plot is bare bones, and though some work is done to begin establishing an overall narrative arc for the series, more emphasis is placed on setting our expectations for the tone and style of this ongoing. If this team can continue what they’ve started here, this low-stakes, high-charm ongoing could become a new favorite for fans getting burnt out on sprawling -verse events.

Pine & Merrimac #3 - The plot thickens, and the stakes rise for Starks and Galan's small-town detectives. Linnea and Parker's investigation into one girl's disappearance has led them to a bigger mystery than they ever expected. Jamesport, home to some of America's most wealthy and powerful, has for years also been the host to a clandestine group that traffics young women, presumably at the behest of the privileged few. Following their latest lead takes them straight into the belly of the beast, where they learn the crimes go far beyond kidnapping. Artist Fran Galan has made this book a great showcase for her talents from issue #1, and this entry particularly shows her skill as a colorist. The contrasts of atmosphere she creates between the somber and cold flashbacks to Linnea’s time in the NYPD, the warmth of her and Parker's domesticity, and the blood-tinged shocks of this issue's final scene all serve to elevate the individual moments depicted and go a long way to making this comic feel like much more than the sum of its parts.

Solomon's Picks:

Giant-Sized Spider-Gwen #1 - Another Giant-Sized issue from Marvel came out this week with Spider-Gwen getting a focus in this charming new issue! Given to us by Melissa Flores, Alba Glez, Elisabetta D’Amico, and Fer Sifuentes-Sujo, this issue takes place after the previous Spider-Gwen: Smash! run, and shows Em Jay struggling to control the new abilities and altered personality granted to her by the Carnage symbiote. There are a handful of villains (A New Doc Ock, Mysterio, etc.) in this issue and plenty of action to entertain casual and passionate fans. The character interactions between Gwen and Em Jay are definitely my favorite part of the story, adding an extra layer of charm to an already enjoyable chapter. We see a new Sinister Six, or something of that nature being built up in the background and I am eager to learn more about it. The illustrations by D’Amico and Sujo are wonderful and give a refreshingly fun aura that I appreciated. Lately, the stories for Spider-Gwen have been extremely enjoyable and I can’t wait for the new run coming next month that promises to be a good one!

The Spectacular Spider-Men #1 - The famed writer of the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series, Greg Weisman, has delivered a wonderful new story for our favorite Spider-themed heroes titled: The Spectacular Spider-Men (No Relation). Greg has teamed up with an all-star crew with Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba on pencils and ink, Edgar Delgado as the colorist, and Joe Caramagna as the letterer; these industry legends have come together to provide an entertaining, charming, and humorous new story. Miles and Peter’s friendship has been in a rough patch lately due to the hectic nature of the job and Peter not being able to show up when needed. In order to reconcile this, Peter proposes that the two Spider-Men meet up every Wednesday at a coffee shop on ESU campus and touch base. Of course, this peaceful compromise is interrupted as a mutated Jackal comes crashing through campus. The two Spider-Men work together to take Jackal down, with plenty of jokes and charisma for readers to enjoy. And I can’t emphasize enough how charismatic this book is. You'll definitely be left smiling as you flip through the pages. With twice the Spider-Man, twice the fun, and twice the quips, this is a run that everyone should pick up!

Ms. Marvel: Mutant Menace #1 - Iman Vellani is back writing Ms. Marvel and she hasn’t missed! Joined by Sabir Pirzada, Scott Godlewski, and Erick Arciniega, this book was such an absolute joy to read through. With mutant hate ever on the rise, Kamala is back in her home city but is greeted to an extremely unceremonious return. The locals all have their doubts about Ms. Marvel and her new loyalty to the X-Men, despite her saving the city countless times. She’s faced with a few new enemies as well as a new personal challenge: Her powers, for some reason, are beginning to fail her. Whether this is her mutant gene interfering with her abilities or something else is still unknown, but it’s forcing her to come up with more creative solutions to crime fighting. She has a few conversations with some X-Men fan favorites before attempting a return to her “normal” life. She is placed in a few compromising positions that don’t help her already struggling public image; however, it does allow her persistent personality to shine through. With Kamala back in New Jersey, I’m excited to see this new run play out!