September 13th, 2023

Rob's Picks:

Batman: The Gargoyle of Gotham #1 - The overwhelming amount of Batman books that have come and gone in recent years left me in a state of caped crusader fatigue. The psychology of Bruce Wayne seemed over-examined, Gotham as a metaphor for “society, maaan” had become trite. Then writer/artist Rafael Grampá (The Dark Knight Returns: Golden Child) produces the most engaging Batman book in years with Gargoyle of Gotham. Still relatively early in his crime fighting career, we see a Bruce Wayne whose obsessive drive to protect Gotham borders on zealotry. Far from the near-infallible detective he will become, this Batman’s youth and righteousness make him prone to error. The Alfred/Bruce dynamic is subtly more contentious. The loyal butler masks his deep concern under an air of bemusement as the young master plots a drastic final step to truly becoming Batman; the death of Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, Detective Gordon investigates a serial killer whose targets may be connected to Arkham Asylum, and an all new villain uses the forgotten and ignored people of Gotham’s streets and alleys in a plan to threaten the whole city. Grampá produces an amazing comic across all categories. The art is stunning in its delivery of dark, almost impressionistic noir atmosphere, where even under the light of day the city has an unsettling hue, a grime that is soul deep. Each character is sharply written, from the plain spoken straight shooter Jim Gordon, to the dutiful but disapproving alfred. By virtue of being a DC Black Label release, the violence is turned up a notch, which is used to shocking effect. Thrilling comic fisticuffs are swept aside for tense life or death combat that can turn on a single blow. This will be an absolute must read for Bat fans, but anyone who was like me and thought they were over the caped crusader should give this book a shot.
Werewolf by Night #1 - Marvel's lycanthropic hero returns for this fast paced and charming book, alongside his old flame Elsa Bloodstone. Writer Derek Landy gives everything you could want; foreboding castles, dark rituals, vampires, necromancers, plus some sharply written inter-cutting narration from the two lead characters. Light on true horror, this book trades on action and wit, and has plenty of both. This issue’s charm is elevated by the art of Fran Galán. Jack Russel, our titular werewolf, exists in black and white, save for the occasional splash of red, evoking the look of the classic Universal Studios monster movies that inspired the character’s creation. Elsa is given a broader, though still limited color palette of muted earth tones, giving her the feel of a grindhouse heroine. This is a very light hearted book compared to the other horror related titles of Marvel’s current slate, and that contrast serves Werewolf By Night well, a campier alternative to the likes of Ghost Rider.
Creepshow Vol. 2 #1 - Lovers of anthology comics have had it rough the past few years (RIP Heavy Metal.) But it finally seems like things are turning around. In the last year we have had Dwellings, the Devils Cut, and Xinos to name a few. Now Creepshow returns with their second volume of chilling tales. This Issue has two, one each from Garth Ennis and Phil Hester. “Make Your Choice” is a dark look at childbirth and self righteous hypocrisy. A god fearing man slowly unravels as he is haunted by visions of the unborn. Artist Becky Cloonan skillfully illustrates this story in a style reminiscent of the horror comics of old. In “Fossil Record” grief and archeology collide. A tragic loss leaves Professor August Hodgson spiraling into obsession. Seeking to prove his theory of an unknown ancient predator, he searches for a former mentor, but discovers just how true his theory is, and the ultimate cost of obsession. Phil Hester’s writing is more spare than Ennis’s, and his somewhat Mignola-esque illustration further differentiates the two stories. This new volume is perfectly of a piece with the first, promising another run of excellently creepy comics.

Solomon's Picks:

Daredevil #1 - The latest Daredevil run by Saladin Ahmed is a wonderfully refreshing take on the character! Taking place after his trip from hell, the first story in this new run shows Matt well-adjusted to his life as a priest, and the many changes he’s gone through. With no memories of his previous adventures and no longer wearing “The Skin Of A Devil”, Matt’s special abilities still come to light whenever he needs to defend himself or the various children under his protection. He moves naturally when he takes action, and Aaron Kuder does a wonderful job illustrating the movement in this book. There were so many great things about this issue but I think the more introspective approach to Matthew’s character is what will leave an impression and the last page left me eager to see what the future has in store for The Man Without Fear.
The Cull #2 - The second issue of The Cull released this week and we’re finally getting into the nitty-gritty of this series. Picking up where we left off, the crew venture through the cave and emerge in a visually dazzling area that they conclude is some sort of liminal space. Every cave surrounding them is a portal to either a different world or different time-period. The liminal area is wonderfully drawn, and you definitely feel like you’re exploring this area with the rest of the crew as you flip through the pages. After a few minutes of filming and bumping into a strange creature, the crew decides to split into groups and take a quick breather. Relationships are given more time to develop during this section and a few character motives are established. One of the characters discovers the ground they are walking on has a strange glow beneath, which could be influencing our cast's actions. All in all, this was a great issue and I can’t wait to see where the next issue takes us!
Kill More #1 - What an incredible and unique first issue! Given to us by Scott Wilson, Max Fuchs, and Valentina Briski, this story is about the dangerous city Colonia and those who still inhabit it. Some of the most dangerous murderers in the country have started calling Colonia home, making the already unending case files increase for two officers still trying to find justice in the city of the damned. With excellent art provided by Max Fuchs, the vibe of this story is a very interesting one and you will meet plenty of unique characters. Give this one a try, especially if you're in a seasonal mood.