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.
Written by JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccatello
Penciled by Manuel Garcia
Inked by Raul Fernandez
Colored by Rex Lokus
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by Ryan Fitzmartin
Gritty Sci-Fi action is the name of the game in “Armorclads #2”, a violent and grim tale. In a dark future, an oppressive military society forces the titular armor-clad miners into dangerous excursions on an exotic planet. The miners are the leads of the story, and they face cruel rulers, ruthless bandits and hostile wildlife in their quest to survive. The story is intriguing and feels real, with both good character and solid world building. There’s ample action and the pacing is strong. There’s never a lull in JJ O’Connor and Brian Buccatello’s script for “Armorclads #2”.
The art is muddy, scratchy, and evocative. Everything and everyone in “Armorclads #2” feels aged, rusted and in desperate need of repair. The sci-fi designs are neat and feel functional vs flashy, suiting the down-to earth tone of the story. The action is drawn clearly and there’s a few exciting splash panels where we get to see the futuristic arms and armor in their full battered glory. Of particular note is the terrific sound effects lettering by Dave Sharpe, which is fun and creative and really adds to the action. “Armorsclads #2” very deftly pulls off the delicate balancing act of creating a grimy and dirty vision of the future which is still pleasant to look at.
Overall, “Armorclads #2” is a great read. The world is interesting, the characters compelling and the action is stirring. Everything about this issue simply works. Sci-fi fans on the lookout for a dark future to dive into will definitely be satisfied here.
Final Verdict: 8.7. – A well written and well-crafted sci-fi story.
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Javier Garrón
Colored by David Curiel
Lettered by Cory Petit
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin
One thing about “The Avengers” #55 is it rocks and rolls very hard. Somehow the issue manages to act as an exploration of one specific character, the end of a transition between chapters of the Aaron “Avengers” era, and tease out conflict to come without feeling like too much. Most of the issue is about getting into the über-angsty Nighthawk’s head. The whole “constantly driving west to avoid sunlight and fight crime to avoid contending with my identity being constructed by the Devil” schtick is exactly the kind of behavior that can only fly in comics and it’s always great to see a writer really lean into the medium this way. Nighthawk is a fun character to follow and this issue does great work at efficiently communicating his commitment to fighting on the right side of the most important conflicts in Marvel alongside his genuine skill as a vigilante.
The latter half of the issue is more large-scale Avengers fare and it works very well. The tease of Mephisto’s multiversal Devil army is genuinely menacing and makes whatever is coming in this series all the more exciting. The vote on Darkhawk becoming an Avenger uses the team book trope incredibly well- it gives each character a quick, fun spotlight and serves as a great introduction to this new roster. The group is a fun mix of returning and brand new members and it’s easy to see how much promise the team has.
“The Avengers” #55 is relatively sparse on action but it feels no less grand for it. The art team captures a variety of locales, from the American Southwest to New York City to Celestial corpse in the North Pole, with care. They do strong work of controlling tone, with darker hues for the pages following only Darkhawk than those that spread the love more. There is, of course, a genuinely stunning moment in the introduction of Mephisto’s army. With dozens of Mephistos from different earths, we get a visual feast. There are kaiju, giant robots, big animals, alternate versions of superheroes from Marvel, DC, and beyond, alongside a bevy of other pop culture references. It’s a gorgeous spread that communicates the scope of the threat Mephisto poses and the massive sense of ambition that this series still possesses.Continued below
Final Verdict: 8.0- “The Avengers” #55 is an excellent showcase of what this series has been and the potential it still holds
The Collector Unit 731 #1
Written by Will Conrad & Rod Monteiro
Illustrated by Will Conrad
Colored by Marco Lesko
Lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo
“The Collector Unit 731” feels confusing due to the uncertainty of the genre and what character should be seen as the protagonist. Will Conrad starts on the first page giving off science fiction vibes for a character who has traveled throughout time and countless adventures. However, it is never mentioned or alluded to again. This storyline is a small excerpt of one of those lives having to survive an internment camp filled with Russians and Americans. Conrad switching from sci-fi to a more historical fiction aspect can give the reader whiplash by going back to that first page and making sure it’s the same storyline.
Michael is supposed to be the main character in the story, but Conrad chooses to have Dr. Sadao Shusen be the character followed more closely. He feels a bit one-dimensional in his attempts to do right for his country. The other character thrown into the camp with Michael is the catalyst for this flashback, but the only interaction is when Michael tells him to be quiet when they get arrested. It feels confusing for the reader on what or who is at stake.
Conrad also does the artwork for the issue, and similar to the script, it feels like there’s a lot of detail to the background that makes it hard for the reader to find what to pay attention to in the overall picture. In one of the first panels, Dr. Shusen is shown, he is writing in his office with a frame of the Emperor that gets referenced later, but for some reason, there’s also a small panel of two doors. A lot is going on to make the reader feel both overwhelmed and confused. Marco Lesko’s coloring gives this grainy feel that would come from watching old footage from historical times but unfortunately, similar to that film; it creates a thought of improvement. The shadows on the face of most of the characters feel unbalanced, and there is a question why one side remains unfinished with improper shading.
Final Verdict: 3.8 – The provided story isn’t what was expected from the introduction, and it just feels somewhat scattered to where it will end up going.
Magic: The Hidden Planeswalker #1
Written by Mairghread Scott
Illustrated by Fabiana Mascolo
Colored by Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinelli
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner
As readers are drawn to the life of Associate Professor Liliana Vess, Mairghread Scott makes a good first impression… at least at first. The first third of “Magic: The Hidden Planeswalker” #1 has the writer do an excellent job of giving a basic look in on the necromancer’s history, including a basic look in on her backstory and the various villainous actions across her life, as well as showing her interactions with her new students. Her interactions with the students and faculty are enjoyable, as is her continued attempts to strive toward more benevolent goals.
Sadly, it is the middle and concluding sections of this debut that take away from Scott’s ability to integrate new readers, or to enlighten existing fans. With an overwhelmingly heavy focus on the preceding ‘Master of Metal’ miniseries, and even more so on the events of “Magic” #9 and #10, Scott effectively makes the story of ‘The Hidden Planeswalker’ into a spin-off within its own pages, rather than a tale in its own right. Even when there are climactic moments, they are often either relegated to narration of events in other series or spoken about, rather than actually shown.
In terms of the artwork, Fabiana Mascolo’s illustrations are a much more stable, well-orchestrated presentation on the whole. Mascolo manages to showcase intense emotion without needing to have the characters overact, the behaviors all the more human in the process. More than the subtleties, the fluid nature of the artwork is something of a standout, showcasing how, despite being about a necromancer, such a story does not need to be stiff or rough, and in fact can be to a degree almost calming in at least the presentation of the artwork itself.
Francesco Segala’s colors with Gloria Martinelli help to really draw the artwork together. Soft glows work much better than a harsher bright light, and thereby give a feeling of the ethereal, of magic itself, far more effectively than would be the case if they used their hues and tones as a blunt object to force the direction they want.
Final Verdict: 6.5– Despite a strong start, this debut feels more like an extension of a larger work than a story in and of itself.