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.
The Amazing Spider-Man #78.BEY
Written by Jed MacKay
Illustrated by Eleonora Carlini
Colored by Federico Blee
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin
The Beyond era has been a welcome shift in tone and content for our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and “The Amazing Spider-Man” #78.BEY is a fitting installment in this sprawling story. Giving the Daughters of the Dragon the spotlight, this issue delivers a zany, clever buddy cop mission reminiscent of “Nextwave.” Jed MacKay captures Misty Knight and Colleen Wing beautifully. The pair is almost symbiotic- they don’t just complete each other’s sentences, they alternate every few words. They’re funny, too, only begrudgingly saving the city from a monster they’re contractually obligated to fight.
This is as lively an issue as you’re likely to get out of any comic. It’s relatively light on stakes and chock full of pithy dialogue. There are great gags like the destruction of every Beyond Corporation prototype Misty and Colleen are given and some reckless driving on Misty’s part. The north star of the issue seems to be giving people a good time.
The art is a major source of the energy here. Eleonora Carlini’s exaggerated pencils make for great action and great comedy. When Ben Reilly is running away from a monster in a simulation, his limbs are stretching just short of Mr. Fantastic level. Colleen and Misty’s fight in the Avengers Murder-Mansion is incredible. The layouts keep it moving at a breakneck pace and the action is bursting with energy. Federico Blee fills the issue with vibrant color even if there is more effort put into the characters than the environments.
Best of all, the issue concludes with Colleen and Misty secretly working against Beyond Corp. What, exactly, Beyond wants with this Obsidian Star power source is a mystery, as is Monica Rambeau’s use for it. It’s a strong cliffhanger for a strong, exciting comic.
Final Verdict: 7.9 – “The Amazing Spider-Man” #78.BEY is an exciting, funny, bold expansion of the biggest Spider-Man story we’ve seen in years
Moon Knight #5
Written by Jed MacKay
Illustrated by Alessandro Cappuccio
Colored by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by Cory Petit
Reviewed by Ryan Fitzmartin
Even superheroes get the blues, and “Moon Knight” #5 features the titular hero in therapy for his considerable mental health problems. Jed Mackay’s script explores the full range of Marc Spector’s issues, including dissociative identity disorder, post traumatic stress, religious trauma, and depression. There’s a b plot about a kidnapping and terrorism which is intercut with the therapy, but it’s the therapy that takes main stage. MacKay’s attempt to delve into what makes Marc Spector tick is bold, but in the end it isn’t all that exciting. The exploration of Spector’s Judaism and how it conflicts with his newfound worship of the moon God Khonshu is interesting, but not enough to carry a whole issue.
Unfortunately, large parts of the comic feel burdened under a wall of text as Spector monologues. Allesandro Cappuccio makes a brave effort to give Moon Knight character and expression under his mask, but it only works half the time. The art is strong, but there’s only so many ways to draw emotion behind a literal mask. For an intimate, dialogue driven comic it’s frustrating to have to just stare at a mask. Most of the time it’s hard to tell what Spector is thinking, which must make the therapist’s job pretty tough too. The coloring, at least by Racelle Rosenberg is quite terrific, with luminous blues and whites, and deep crisp shadows.
“Moon Knight” #5 isn’t a bad comic per se, and major fans of the character might find the exploration of a complicated man’s psyche engaging, but it doesn’t make for a very engaging read.Continued below
Final Verdict: 6.2 – A bold comic which takes some strong narrative choices that don’t entirely succeed.
Refrigerator Full of Heads #2
Written by Rio Youers
Illustrated by Tom Fowler
Colored by Bill Crabtree
Lettered by Andworld Design
Reviewed by Henry Finn
Rio Youers clearly comes from a novelistic background, as there are many pages with heavy dialogue that bounces back and forth from character to character.This adds a nice dimension to the storytelling, but Youers brings the action with issue 2, allowing Fowler’s art to take center stage. Youers is clearly having fun as he knows how to play into the camp of the franchise. For instance, when one of the criminals finds himself headless and flung off a cliff to the beach below, he somehow manages to roll his head uphill back to the road hundreds of feet above. There are things that require the suspension of disbelief like any good grindhouse project. What he does well in this issue is weave in new plot threads that will pay off in later issues, such as the FBI agents and the biker gang that finds themselves bodiless, and being stored in a refrigerator.
Tom Fowler is given fun material to work with, and it’s apparent in the way that he lays out his pages. In the main battle sequence when Arlene and Calvin fight for their lives, Fowler alternates between wide shots showing the violence in full motion and closeups that highlight key moments, such as the axe biting deep into someone’s neck. You can almost hear the splattering sound effects, as he creates motion and speed in the way he depicts thick arcs of blood flying through the air. I also noticed he uses gutter space in between panels that are abnormally thick for most comics these days, which creates an effect of forcing you to focus on each shot individually. He does find time to alternate this technique with laying pictures within picture such as when we see the gang leader’s head roll down the hill.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – A fun second issue that turns up the gonzo while planting enough seeds in the plot to demand further reading.
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Baldemar Rivas
Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Lettered by Steve Wands
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
Sometimes a simple narrative trick can go away a long way. “Robins” #1 contains a fascinating opening scene portraying violence that will immediately immerse readers into the story. A small group of bird watchers encounter a devastating moment in the opening scene. This subtle moment really helps establish the themes behind this new “Robins” title. “Robins” #1 brings together a huge slate of Batman supporting characters for a special title that focuses on the legacy of the Robin role. “Robins” #1 also serves as the winner of DC’s ‘Round Robin’ initiative which saw pitches for new DC books go up against each other to be a formal comic book. Previous “Nightwing” writer Tim Seeley is returning for the series with art from Baldemar Fajardo Jr.. Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into DC’s “Robins” #1.
Baldemar Rivas turns in unconventional superhero art that benefits the story. Rivas is really great at the more intimate moments with intense body language and strong expressions. Rivas is adept at emphasizing the differences between the figures so readers can tell similar-looking characters apart. Rivas is able to balance the requirement of having a different tone in the issue as well. “Robins” can be funny, sweet, and really dark depending on what the script calls for. Characters strike more ambitious poses and faces when they are upset or even just annoyed at each other. One flaw within the artwork here is the lack of detail from the page layouts. There are a few great visual tricks like the panel bleed of mocha with Damian’s breakfast scene. This moment contains a rather straightforward layout and would have benefited from a more abstract page composition. Overall Rivas submits great work and I’m excited to see more interior work from upcoming issues.
Seeley finds a rhythm within the sequence following the opener which sees Nightwing go up against a familiar Batman foe. Seeley is able to find a great voice for Nightwing. Grayson is right in the middle of a jokester and serious superhero here. Seeley’s dynamic between Tim Drake and Damian Wayne is another well fleshed-out moment here. There’s an untapped level of potential with all the heroes who used to carry the Robin name recounting their fractured comic book history together. “Robins” #1 is arguably best when the issue analyzes the dynamics between the heroes. Hearing each Robin reflect on their history in the modern-day continuity really makes “Robins” feel fresh. The sequence on the final page really serves to open up the scope of the series.
Final Verdict: 7.3 – “Robins” #1 crafts solid character dynamics and teases greater ambition for future chapters for the last page.