There is 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 Kwanza Osajyefo
Illustrated by Jamal Igle
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
“Black” is telling an ugly story. Sure, there are fantastical elements, and hopeful elements, but ultimately, it is the story of sadness and hatred and violence. The fact that I felt so miserable after reading it proves that it is telling it well.
This issue focuses on Kareem’s training, showing how he is among the most naturally gifted individuals that the Juncture has ever encountered. We still don’t have the full grasp on his powers, and neither does he, but we also begin to see what others powers look like – aversion to and control of fire, a supersonic voice, and precognition, specifically – and the scope of the series is starting to come into play pretty clearly. The struggle that Kareem feels – specifically, a sense of justice that is more finely tuned than many of his new teammates – resonates especially strongly this week.
Jamal Igle’s artwork is, as always, expressive and dynamic. The simple, black and white line work helps with the stark tone that Kwanza Osajyefo’s script dictates. The scene at the near-burning was among the most intense work I’ve seen from Igle, and the images have haunted me for a few days after initially reading the issue. He conveys hatred, anger, power, and fear so effectively in that scene; it could be used as material for other artists to show how simple facial expressions can really elevate a page.
My only real problem with this book is, as I said before, it is a book that is a tough read. I know that is the point, but there’s a lot of language in the book that makes me quite uncomfortable – as it should – as well as some ghastly imagery, both of innocent and guilty people suffering greatly. While I applaud the book for being true to its mission and steadfast in its appearance, I can’t say I really enjoyed reading it.
Again – I can’t stress this enough – that’s a good thing in this case, but it means that I’m not likely to return to the book as often as I might another. And, perhaps, that says more about me than the book itself.
Final Verdict: 7.2 – A bitter pill, presented wonderfully.
Black Panther: World Of Wakanda #1
Written by Roxanne Gay, Yona Harvey & Ta-Nehisi Coates
Illustrated by Alitha E. Martinez & Afua Richardson
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle
“Black Panther: World Of Wakanda” #1 is the type of comic that Marvel has sorely needed for years. While so much time has been dedicated to fleshing out the larger-than-life worlds of Atlantis, Attalan, the worlds of magics and mutants and the multiverse as a whole, it’s rare to find as much care put into the world of Wakanda. Many a writer has tackled the tale of the Black Panther over the decades, but few have taken the time and energy into making Wakanda feel like a real country as much as Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Here, the supporting cast of “Black Panther” comes into focus. The main story of the issue is an exploration of the younger days of the Midnight Angels, two former bodyguards of T’Challa’s, and the blossoming of their love. Written by Roxanne Gay and illustrated by Alitha E. Martinez, this is the kind of opening story that appeals to both readers who have kept up with “Black Panther” so far and those who haven’t.
This may be Roxanne Gay’s first comic, but it doesn’t feel it as her accomplished writing talents come through in the crafting of these characters as real people with conflicting emotions and duties. Teaming with veteran “Black Panther” artist, Alitha E. Martienz, may make this feel like somewhat of an artistic callback with some old school layout techniques and even thought bubbles to boot, but it’s still an excellent piece of character exploration and how their environment shapes them.Continued below
Accessible and engaging, seeing these two women slowly discover their love for one another juxtaposed against finally seeing some of the horrors Wakanda has faced in recent events from the perspective of it’s citizens is worth the price of admission alone.
The story is backed up with a look into the past of Tenzu, one of the antagonists starring in “Black Panther”, that doesn’t so much outright explain, beat for beat, how she came to be and more explains how her mindset developed. It’s an interesting take and the combined writing talents of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey bring a lot of depth and tragedy to the character.
The artwork from Afua Richardson and Tamra Bonvillain is stark, detailed and vibrant. The golden backgrounds of Bonvillain’s colours juxtaposed against welcoming greens and isolated blues gives an immediate feel for the environment while Richardson’s sometimes sparse, minimalist storytelling makes for an incredibly effective tale.
Final Verdict: 8.9 – A strong accompaniment to one of the most engrossing runs on “Black Panther”.
Gotham Academy Second Semester #3
Written by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher & Karl Kerschl
Illustrated by Adam Archer
Review by Ken Godberson III
The first story in “Second Semester” is reaching it’s peak and a lot of stories are moving forward. This has always been a trait with this book I have admired, to have so many things happen in an issue without it feeling cluttered and everything feels important. This issue alone, we have the gang solving the mystery behind the Magic Club, finally the in-comic confirmation that Colton has a big ol’ crush on one Kyle Mizoguchi (along with other twists with Colton’s story) and the return of something from Olive’s past. Another aspect of this issue in particular that was enjoyable was just how expansive this cast has become. Sure you’ve got the regulars in the Mystery Club and you have the new character in Amy, but then you have characters like Eric and Katherine who have had bit parts in prior stories but are becoming more and more prominent. It feels like such a natural expansion.
Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Msassyk & Serge Lapointe continue this book’s legacy of having fantastic art. It is here where the team finally gets to play with a recurring element that was throughout the first year of this book: fire. It’s beautiful in it’s primal terror, while also being mysterious. The team also gets to play with layouts a bit, creating a step-by-step scene of one Magic Club members escaping our heroes very an overview of an entire building at the Academy. It’s a very creative and fun scene.
Final Verdict: 8.5- The creative team continues to build on the promises they made as the many stories develop.
Mega Princess #1
Written by Kelly Thompson
Illustrated by Brianne Drouhard and M. Victoria Robado
Reviewed by Matthew Garcia
Young Maxine wants nothing more than to be left along to develop her detective business. Except it’s her birthday. And she’s the princess of this faraway kingdom and subject to all kinds of rules and regulations she couldn’t care less about. Kelly Thompson and Brianne Drouhard present a charming, cute, and generally fun comic with “Mega Princess” #1. It’s bright, crisp, and bears an enduring charm about itself.
Thompson does well with building the rules for her fantasy kingdom, and she’s able to generate a lot of sweet gags from it. What’s more, she adheres to it, rather than dropping and picking up her orders whenever it’s convenient. The world may be anachronistic, but it operates on this kids’ logic that allows references to The Wizard of Oz (OK, maybe the easiest and laziest reference to Wizard of Oz you could ever make) and Philip Marlowe to exist in a conventional fantasy setting. At one point, for example, Maxine’s fairy godmother appears and bestows upon her the power of being able to speak to animals, but naturally no one else can understand the animals and the animals cannot understand each other, so we get these lost in translation jokes.
Drouhard is especially strong with capturing facial expressions and body language. This works for the book’s benefit since it’s a particularly talky comic. She has a nice grasp on outfits and when she is given a chance to do a sight gag (the presentation of the gifts scene), she delivers. It’s easy to follow the action and easy to immediately take in what everyone’s doing.Continued below
The issue does teeter near the end, when Thompson and Drouhard abruptly introduce a major plot development. And I think it’s far more noticeable here because the transition into it has no beat or rhythm, unlike many of the earlier scenes.
At the end, though, “Mega Princess” #1 is an assured and entertaining story. It hints at a wider world but doesn’t get bogged down in its mythology or history. Kelly Thompson and Brianne Drouhard have a good grasp on what makes this kind of comic work and deliver a solid first issue.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Cute, competent, and pretty much does what it wants to accomplish.
Written by Penn Jillette
Illustrated by Scott Koblish
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
Penn and Teller share the center stage with Spidey and Deadpool in this issue, and given that it does involve Deadpool, the fourth wall is no more. It would have been a little too blatant to just have the characters just once acknowledge that Penn is both writing and appearing in the issue, though, so it goes the extra step of completely and utterly shattering the fourth wall, which takes the humor far enough that it works quite well.
Of course, most of the fourth wall breaking comes from the Deadpool and Penn side. With Spidey and Teller, we get more superheroics (as well as a little lesson about palming cards). With a tarot-themed villain, Scott Koblish’s artwork really gets to shine; he combines the classical tarot designs with modern comic artwork, in such a way that each stand out. The action is very well illustrated, with smaller panels to the side demonstrating Teller’s card tricks. Given that Teller doesn’t speak at all (though he does get the occasional thought bubble) it’s up to the art to portray his emotions, thoughts, and ideas, and it does a great job at it.
Each pair (Penn and Deadpool, Spider-Man and Teller) has their own quirks and chemistry that work surprisingly well. As the writer, Penn gives himself plenty of clever moments (and gets to carve up Deadpool both literally and metaphorically) but is a good enough sport to not hog the spotlight and let the jokes be on him now and then. Even when he does play up his own greatness, it’s with a wink and a nod to the reader that lets them know it’s all in good fun. The issue may not add on much in the way of story (with apologies to all the Itsy-Bitsy fans who want to see more of their Spideypool gene baby), but it’s a fun issue that stands on its own.
Final Verdict: 8.3 – Clever, great artwork, and overall lots of fun. Penn Jillette’s guest foray into comics is unsurprisingly enjoyable.
Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Brian Ching and Michael Atiyeh
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
What’s weird about “Supergirl” is that it doesn’t feel like it’s getting talked about enough. “Supergirl” #3 features the series doing what it does best – being personal. “Supergirl” #3 continues Kara’s fight with Cyborg Superman. This man claims to be her father and he claims to have brought back Argo City just for her. “Supergirl” #3 is Steve Orlando doing what he does best. He knows how to write superheroes. He understands how to write a personal character driven story without holding back on the ass kicking. This issue in particular is heavy on the mother/daughter angle as Kara ends up being stuck between two families. While everything isn’t resolved here, Orlando gives us a lot of Kara’s perspective in this internal struggle. What’s missing from “Supergirl” though is her supporting cast. I can’t wait to see Kara interact more with Kat and the others she works with.
Brian Ching continues to do some stellar work. I love how youthful this art feels. It’s got an animated style that kind of has the same big spirit of Humberto Ramos. Kara’s young look and her almost reckless fighting style go hand in hand very well. The cyborgs have a perfect mechanical feel to them and I’m obsessed with the sass in Cameron Chase’s body language. Atiyeh’s colors pair perfectly with Ching as it’s bright, bold and feels very much like how the entire Superman line should feel.
Final Verdict: 7.7 – One of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had since Rebirth got underway.