There’s a lot to cover on Wednesdays. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large review staff, it’s hard to get to everything. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.
Let’s get this party started.
All Against All #2
Written by Alex Paknadal
Illustrated and Colored by Caspar Wijngaard
Lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo
This issue of “All Against All” gives the reader a different perspective in the science fiction genre by sharing the alien’s point of view rather than the human. Alex Paknadal and Caspar Wijngaard gave us a glimpse into the first issue. Still, this one shows the similarities between the army’s bureaucratic system and trying to solve a war with experimentation. These are familiar tropes, but this time, it’s through the lens of this alien species known as “The Operators.” The part that keeps the reader hooked is the tidbits of information they get about the main scientist, B’Tay, whose job is to remain impartial for the good of his species, but it’s revealed he has a much deeper bond with the lone human in the makeshift habitat. By trying to protect the human, known as Helpless, B’Tay is causing the deaths of soldiers venturing into the habitat. Still, with his wife’s death and a weak relationship with his daughter, it’s almost as if Helpless has become his closest link to my family. While the action of this story comes in at the end of the issue, it does feel like an information dump of an issue where the audience is told rather than shown, and it can feel like the dragging of feet rather than any tension building.
The artwork is incredible in that “The Operators” are an almost hybrid version of Predator and Alien. This soldier-feel to them comes with their ruthlessness in getting business done, but this slick reptilian vibe to them. The main gripe in that same vein is that the only real differentiation is the different colors in the lettering and the body of the aliens. Although it can help differentiate who is talking to help the reader better understand the weight of the various conversations throughout, it can get confusing from a broader perspective. There is also this shifting of perspectives that raises some questions about whether this different alien technology is something big the size of a ship, such as when reinforcement soldiers arrive, or something on a smaller, more macro-level to help those aboard the ship. The habitat enclosure feels much more grounded, and a breath of fresh air before the brutal explosions of death by Helpless reminds the reader of the gravity and strength of what is happening.
Final Verdict: 7.0 A slow build-up of exposition and informational dump can keep the reader hooked for another issue, but the intricate artwork can feel confusing.
Dark Web: Ms. Marvel #2
Written by Sabir Pirzada
Illustrated by Francesco Mortarino
Colored by Dono Sánchez-Almara and Fernando Sifuentes
Lettered by Ariana Maher
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner
Sabir Pirzada’s writing on “Dark Web: Ms. Marvel” #2 hits a nice sweet spot. It merges terror and comedy, pulling it together into something wholesome. Yes, the major events Kamala Khan herself gets involved with are more overtly violent than her friend and fellow hero, but on the whole, there is enough of a merger between high-flying action and terrifying abduction that works together (pardon the unintended pun) marvelously. The situation with the mosque in particular blends terror and comedy very well, barely addressing the absurdity of the situation in favor of playing it humorously straight to just enough of a degree to make sense in s place not too far removed from Marvel’s New York City.
Francesco Mortarino’s artwork excels in the fast, very dynamic nature of superhero fights, with Ms. Marvel’s conflict against a returning foe being no exception. From stretching to transforming to any number of things, there is a lot to enjoy, and Kamala’s expressions of joy or rage are almost palpable in the way they capture her youthful exuberance.Continued below
Not to be outdone or ignored, Dono Sánchez-Almara and Fernando Sifuentes both provide excellent colors to the piece. The choices are rather dark at times, especially around the nighttime, but not so much that they remove a relatively cheerful mood from the story as a whole.
Final Verdict: 7.0– A good mixture of emotions helps pull together the threads of an amusing, mostly self-contained piece that could almost be a one-shot in and of itself.
Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1
Written by Mark Waid and Gene Luen Yang
Illustrated by Riccardo Federici and Billy Tan
Colored by Brad Anderson and Sebastian Cheng
Lettered by Steve Wands and Janice Chiang
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin
Despite its billing as the beginning of a story, “Lazarus Planet: Alpha” #1 is solidly the middle of a larger saga and it’s not clear that it makes all that much sense if you haven’t been following the series that came before this. We open in the aftermath of “Batman vs. Robin,” which saw a Lazarus Volcano erupt, an event that will cause a whole host of issues and shifts in the DC universe that we’ll observe in the myriad “Lazarus Planet” one-shots to come. Of course, “Batman vs. Robin” is, itself, a series informed by “Batman/Superman: World’s Finest” and “Shadow War” and “Shadow War” is largely on “Robin.” So coming into “Lazarus Planet: Alpha,” you only get the full picture if you’ve read five different precursor series. Now, it’s the nature of comic books to tell sprawling stories that all feed one another but this specific issue is unique in its explicit reliance on its predecessors. Little is done to situate readers and while that’s beneficial to the dramatic tone and quick pacing of the issue, it makes for a less accessible story than we might otherwise.
Now, to be fair, this is really a very good issue. It’s action packed with a strong sense of weight and has moments of real pathos. The artwork is arguably the single greatest success of “Lazarus Planet: Alpha” #1. There’s a constant dynamism that the team brings to the issue through cinematic layouts and framing. Characters are rendered in ways that make them feel real, with not only realistic pencils but coloring that gives everything real texture. The colors are also incredible in the epic atmosphere that they establish. The entire issue makes you feel like you’re in a plane flying through a storm (in the best possible way) because of the intense, beautiful visuals. The opening emergency landing at/into the Hall of Justice and the assault on Nezha in the Himalayas are the clear highlights, each providing visual feasts that perfectly communicate the desperation of this moment for our heroes while still providing high-octane thrills. The writing, while a bit less consistent than the artwork, is still strong. Waid makes a great decision in giving us a ragtag group of heroes to follow and it leads to some fun dynamics like Blue Beetle and Cyborg’s being explored. The writing is at its strongest, though, when the issue slows down a bit and really lets some emotion shine through. Whether it’s Batman telling the heroes to follow Damian’s lead (a great example of something that means a lot to someone who’s read all of the lead-up material that may be innocuous to someone reading the first issue of a big event) or Monkey Prince talking to Black Alice, emotional moments land strikingly well given their brevity.
The background story, “Mezha and the Monkey King” is a nice little tale that mostly serves to make Nezha a more nuanced figure. He was once a villain who was redeemed and pursued good; this seems to be setting that up to happen once more. For such a quick story, it brings up some genuinely interesting questions about agency, what it takes to be redeemed, and the fragility of one’s morals. It’s also plenty entertaining, with beautiful, bright, detailed artwork that’s bursting with energy.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – A solid issue sufferers for having so much required background material