It doesn’t matter what kind of reader you are, This Month in Comics has something for you. If you are a big Marvel fan, we had huge moves in Marvel’s most interesting current crossover event “X of Swords.” If Batman is more your thing, we saw important releases and plot developments in “Dark Nights: Death Metal” and the triumphant “Batman” #100 was printed this month as well! Newer independent comic books like “The Department of Truth” had key entries this month! Readers saw the beautiful art in books like “X-Ray Robot” by Michael and Laura Allred. Some of my favorite monthly comics were in fine form this month as well. Popular Marvel titles like “Thor,” “Iron Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” were all great in October. “Justice League,” “Justice League: Dark,” and “Suicide Squad” were also fantastic at DC in October. Let’s run down some important entries and developments in this stacked month of comics.
Biggest Disappointment(s): “X Of Swords: Stasis” #1 and “Batman” #100
It is almost ironic for me to call “X Of Swords: Stasis” #1 a disappointment. The prose in the issue is so beautifully constructed by Tini Howard and Jonathan Hickman. A few of the origin stories from the Swordbearers of Arakko were absolutely fascinating. Also, Pepe Larraz and Mahmud Asrar weave incredibly dense and vivid interior artwork. Despite the heaping praise I could offer for this one-shot, it doesn’t change the tedious plotting it took to get to the second half of this crossover. I was hoping the X-Men team would break up the monotony of recruiting fighters and swords but this issue featured even more recruiting. “X Of Swords: Stasis” #1 appears to get the players in the proper positions for the team to start immediately paying off on these plot threads. Having to wait for nearly a dozen comic book chapters for a fight has taken the pacing of the issue to a screeching halt. If Howard, Hickman, and the full team of X-Men creators really focus on the second half of the event, I could see my feelings start to change. However, this is a huge ask and we need to see plot developments immediately. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long until the next issue!
“Batman” #100 is in a very similar position as “X Of Swords: Stasis” #1. This is a good issue with solid art that missed the mark based on reputation. Author James Tynion IV and main artist Jorge Jimenez both delivered solid work in this issue but “Batman” #100 didn’t quite reinvent the series like readers hoped. Tynion’s dialogue is sharp but The Joker’s scheme in the issue ultimately fell a little flat. There is a great confrontation between Joker and Batman but this is hardly the first time readers have seen these two in a brawl. The battle lacks a sense of true stakes and hardly has consequences towards the full Batman line. The saving grace of the story was hidden in the final chapters that introduced Tynion’s newer characters in-depth like The Ghostmaker and Clownhunter. It is a shame that Tynion waited until the final pages of the series to deliver on some of the most fascinating aspects of the issue. Also, the series best art is reserved for the later chapters. Jimenez is still lacking in the details and precision of the anatomy of his characters. Carlo Pagulayan and Guillem March break up the tone of the issue beautifully. March’s experimental pencils were breathtaking and should have defined the visuals of the entire installment.
Best Artist: Michael Allred
Michael and Laura Allred’s visual direction on “X-Ray Robot” is special. The interior art gives readers a wonderful platform to explore’s Allred’s unique art in comics. This series has a dystopian future and beautiful alien designs that immerse me in the pages. Allred’s work quickly becomes incredibly surreal and able to evoke a lot of emotion on any given page. Allred’s layouts are so creative and typical feature huge panels that have lots of complicated design elements that look natural on the page. There are moments when Allred captures sentiment bends multiple genres together and experiment in the medium to make it look effortless. It is difficult to stress just how much is accomplished in this series visually.Continued below
Best Writer: Ram V
In the month of October, Ram V surprised me with numerous noir scripts that really evoked the right tone at DC Comics. “Catwoman” feels rejuvenated with some interesting villains and razor-sharp dialogue with excellent art from Fernando Blanco in issue #26. “Legend of the Swamp Thing: Halloween Spectacular” #1 had a heartwarming final moment that humanized Swamp Thing. Often writers have a hard time finding the right tone with these horror-based DC characters. A few other pitfalls include writers who have a tendency to craft too much dialogue or try and accomplish too much with these stories. My favorite script from Ram V this month had to be “Justice League Dark” #27. In this story, V is finally paying off the plot that Tynion and artists like Alvaro Martinez Bueno have been telling for years. This issue combines numerous plot threads together that have been seeded from the opening issues and the results are tremendous. When this series is collected, it is going to be one of the best, most consistent DC titles even with the creative team switch. I hope readers will really start to recognize the quality of “Justice League Dark” and Ram V as one of DC’s best new writers.
Best October Announcement: Future State
It was difficult to return to comics after the short break during the pandemic. As I started to catch up on continuity and tracking were numerous titles were, I started feeling like something was missing. There was a lack of new ideas at both and Marvel and DC with titles feeling too similar. DC had been promising something big for several months and finally tipped its hat in October with the announcement of ‘Future State.’ ‘Future State’ is a line-wide two-month event that passes down familiar capes and cowls to different DC heroes. The line-up of titles for the event publishing in January was what fans needed to get back into comics. “Future State: The Next Batman” features writing from John Ridley and art from Nick Derington and Larua Braga. Ram V is back with the excellent Otto Schmidt for “Future State: Catwoman.” Where do I sign for “Future State: Wonder Woman” by Joelle Jones? I can’t wait to see what this column looks in January when all of these series debut. See you then!