Friday, June 22, 2018

Frontline Reviews For Week Of June 20, 2018!

Join us on the Frontlines with our weekly review roundup. This is where we have assembled to give our thoughts on various issues that are released each week. This week we have BrantChrisJayJesseJustinKat, & Louis giving reviews for books from AftershockArchieAspenBOOM!  StudiosDark HorseDC ComicsDynamite EntertainmentImage Comics, and Marvel  Comics! Check out the reviews below and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter. Welcome to the FRONTLINE REVIEWS, hope you enjoy the experience!

Written By: Zack Kaplan
Art By: Alvaro Sarraseca
Colors By: Chris Blythe
Letters By: A Larger World's Troy Peteri
Cover A By: Marcelo Maiolo
Cover B By: Alvaro Sarraseca & Chris Blythe
Price: $3.99

I love a good mystery, adventure, Sci-Fi, drama, and characters, this has all of that in spades. Right away we get hit by all of that when one of the explorers are sucked into this portal (which is like a mix between a Stargate and a moon pool) and a water-like being emerges. But it gets more involved from there when we meet his family, the kids who can not be more different as they are told he died in a gas explosion and then get pulled into the truth by another co-worker. I am hooked! ~ Jay

Verdict: 4 Stars

Written By: Ian Flynn, David Williams, Gary Martin
Art By: Kelsey Shannon, David Williams, Gary Martin
Letters By: Jack Morelli
Cover By: David Williams, Gary Martin, Kelsey Shannon
Price: $3.99

WOW this was such a fun issue! I mean from the fun Beatles reference to the superhero cliches to Jugheads love for Vendy to the Power Rangers morph it had me cracking up page after page. This may have been the best non-Archie (main series) Archie books to date! I loved every bit of it all the classic charm of the original, but not as dated. Jay

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

FATHOM Vol 7 #1
Written By: Ron Marz
Art By: Siya Oum
Colors By: Peter Steigerwald & Jon Star
Letters By: Zen
Cover By: Siya Oum & Peter Steigerwald
Price: $3.99

 This was a very solid issue! I have really been loving Fathom again, delving into the Blue, and Aspen's powers evolution. Between this and Demi-God I feel like I am in a Ron Marz Renaissance, he never left, but he is on fire now for me. My one issue here would be right after Aspen found out about her brother she went on her "mission statement" and it took me out for a second. But aside from that, I am just all in for this and love the action and intrigue this issue delivers while trying to make it as new reader friendly as possible. The Aspen Mascots backup story is really fun, a nice fun ongoing thing for fans. Jay

Verdict: 4 Stars

Written By: C.S. Pacat
Art By: Johanna The Mad
Colors By: Joana Lafuente
Letters By: Jim Campbell
Cover By: HamletMachine
Price: $3.99

Who would have thought that a book about fencing would be so much fun?! I sure didn't but man is it ever! I never thought a comic would ever want to get me to learn more about fencing, and this does, every page is drawn with such finesse that I feel like I am sitting in the front row watching a fencing match. But I think the reason why I am so drawn to this book is the characters, each character has such diverse voices that they exist beyond the pages of the book and lunges at me taking me from a mere reader to a participant. I honestly can not stop raving about this book, and now we have the Seiji and Nicholas rivalry and this great bromance/romance brewing between Harvard and Aiden, you just feel a part of this team. Jay

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

Shattered Grid
Written By: Kyle Higgins
Art By: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colors By: Walter Baiamonte
Letters By: Ed Dukeshire

The New Adventures Of Blue Senturion & Ninjor
Written By: Ryan Ferrier
Art By: Bachan
Colors By: Jeremy Lawson
Letters By: Jim Campbell

Main Cover: Jamal Campbell
Subscription Cover: Jordan Gibson
Incentive Cover: Carlos Villa
Retail Price: $3.99

 Another MORPHINOMENAL issue of Shattered Grid! Kyle Higgins manages to balance a franchise full of Rangers, more than any writer in any form has ever had to do before with great character moments and intense action. The moments between Kim and Jen talking are some of my favorite, seeing these two iconic Pink Rangers discussing timey whimey stiff is just awesome. We also see again that Jason is the best leader ever, he is literally leading a Ranger Army in a battle with Lord Drakkon and everyone, even older and more seasoned Rangers are naturally deferring to him. Higgins also pairs the touching with the sorrow with the two Zachs having a heart to heart before one falls in battle. The the cliffhanger..... Drakkon wants to enter the Morphing Grid! Di Nicuolo's art just brings everything to life and makes the battle even better. Jay

Verdict: 4 ¾ Power Bolts

WWE #18
Written By: Dennis Hopeless
Art By: Serge Acuna

‘Twas the Day Before Rusev Day (backup story)
Written By: Kevin Panetta
Art By: Dominike “Domo” Stanton

Colors By: Doug Garbark
Letters By: Jim Campbell
Cover By: Dan Mora
Price: $3.99

The beauty of BOOM! Studios’ WWE series is that it takes you into the minds of the Superstars and brings to life the behind the scenes moments as if the storylines continued off camera. There have been many wrestling comics, and several WWE comics in the past, but none have done what this series has been able to do. Dennis Hopeless gets these well-crafted characters, understands their voices and delivers dead-on, in-character stories each week. Serge Acuna equally understands the art of wrestling and interprets the various moves like no other artist has ever properly done in my recollection. He also nails the likenesses of nearly every Superstar that hits the page.

This issue focused on the tumultuous and long-standing relationship between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. It chronicled the two best friends’ journey to reach the WWE, the betrayal of Owens when Zayn won the NXT title, and the more recent heel turn of Zayn on Shane McMahon as the two (Owens and Zayn) reunited. Hopeless gave us a little extra insight into the mind of Owens and the motivations of Zayn, structured in a way that felt genuine and drew you in. Then Kevin Panetta and Dominike Stanton followed this main tale up with a Christmas-like poem by Aiden English about Rusev Day! This was definitely my favorite issue of the series so far, and possibly the best issue they’ve ever produced to date! Brant

Verdict: 5 Stars

Story By: Joss Whedon & Christos Gage
Written By: Christos Gage
Pencils By: Georges Jeanty
Inks By: Karl Story
Colors By: Dan Jackson
Letters By: Richard Starkings & ComicCraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Cover By: Stephanie Hans
Price: $3.99

I will say this, the overall plot is very Buffy, and it has me interested, but the actual execution left me wanting more and not in a good way. I can feel that the plot was create with Joss Whedon, but not having him on the script made it feel out of sync in a way. Gage is a great writer, but Buffy and the Scooby Gang have very specific voices and he just didn't channel them here. Now this isn't saying the book was bad, it wasn't it just wasn't "Buffy" enough for me. I also didn't like the Mayor returning felt very cheap, gimmicky, and taints the Season 3 finale for me. The big downfall for me though was the art, it kind of made everyone look like hobbits. Jay

Verdict: 3 Stars

Written By: Tom King
Art By: Mikel Janin
Colors By: June Chung
Letters By: Clayton Cowles
Cover By: Mikel Janin, Stanley Lau
Price: $2.99

Batman #49 - a coffee klatch amongst villains, where cookies and coffee are traded for a gun and a cat whip, words between “friends” are exchanged as Cat and Joker bleed to death. This is my favorite installment of “The Best Man” arc because King delivers something we really haven’t seen - Catwoman Vs. The Joker. King approaches Joker and Catwoman as two villains who haven’t seen each other in awhile, and one so happens to be getting married to Batman. What makes this issue brilliant is how the dialogue is so casual. Mikel Janin on art nails the action sequences and the emotional beats. Janin has become my favorite King collaborator. Batman #49 is a perfect prelude to the series’ monumental wedding story. ~ Kat

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

Written By: Aaron Gillespie
Art By: Roge Antonio
Colors By: HI-FI
Letters By: Dave Sharpe
Cover By: Paul Pelletier, Danny Miki, and Adriano Lucas
Variant Cover By: Warren Louw
Price: $2.99

Green Lanterns #49 continues the Rebel Run arc with Jessica on the run from the Green Lantern Corps and Simon finally catching up to Jessica.  What starts out as a fugitive on the run story morphs into the uncovering of a galaxy wide weapons smuggling operation. All while clearing Jessica’s name by the end and giving us a cameo from Hal Jordan. Aaron Gillespie does a great job of showing us how much the partnership between Jessica and Simon means to them both as people and as Green Lanterns.  While a good issue this seems to be a bump in the road for the larger overall story that is unfolding. ~ Justin

Verdict 3 ½ Stars

Written By: Scott Snyder
Art By: Jorge Jimenez
Colors By: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover By: Jorge Jimenez & Alejandro Sanchez
Variant Cover By: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, & Alex Sinclair
Price: $3.99

Scott Snyder continues an excellent story structure with this issue. Since the previous issue focused on Martian Manhunter, it makes sense to focus on the story’s antagonist, Lex Luthor. The issue reveals more about the Totality event but not everything. Also the introduction to the Still Force and Ultraviolet Corps help reinforce the parallelism between the Justice League and Legion of Doom. Plus there’s a funny self-reference from Sinestro when he uses the Ultraviolet Corps power. The artwork in this issue helps the story feel fresh and vibrant. Overall, Justice League is not a title to miss. ~ Louis

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

Written By: Brian Michael Bendis
Art By: Kevin Maguire & Jason Fabok (Pages 12-13
Colors By: Alex Sinclair
Letters By: Josh Reed
Cover By: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, & Alex Sinclair
Price: $3.99

Bendis continues to impress me with The Man of Steel! I feel like this is the Bendis who write Ultimate Spider-Man, he is back in fighting form and The Man of Steel is just his first volley. There is a lot of action here, which kept the book movig at such a fast pace that you don't really feel like you are reading so much text, but there is a good bit of it here, and it is just awesome! We get an inside look at Superman's thoughts on taking on a fight where he uses his keen deductive skills as a reporter and what he has learned from others to process who and what Rogol Zaar is and what he is there for. I also loved how this blended perfectly in with the preview we got in Action Comics #1000 without making me feel like I missed anything if I didn't read but instead that I got something more by reading it. Even the small art change for pages 12 & 13 didn't take me out of the story because I was too into the action and Superman's thoughts to even care about the minute changes in art. ~ Jay

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

Written By: Scott Snyder & Aaron Gillespie
Pencils By: Andy Kubert
Inks By: Klaus Jansen
Colors By: Brad Anderson
Letters By: Deron Bennett
Cover By: Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson
Price: $2.99

The New Challengers take on their first mission and come face to face with one an unknown under water species, dinosaurs, Aquaman, one of their pasts and the original Challengers of the Unknown! How is that for a first day on the job? I love the adventure here, it is pulse racing quick adventure that has you on the edge of your seat and challenging the edge between science and science fiction. This is all I wanted in this title and then some. Jay

Verdict 4 Stars

Written By: Amy Chu
Art By: German Erramouspe
Colors By: Brittany Pezzillo
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover By: Mike McKone
Price: $3.99

Mulan and Britt arrive in Hong Kong and are with her cousin Clutch who takes them to the Hong Kong Hornet's Nest where they gear up to take on the Oko, but to quote General Ackbar "It's A Trap!" The Oko are waiting for them and not only take them out but take out the Hong Kong Hornet's Nest and has the duo ready to be unmasked for the world to see. I loved this issue, it was fast paced, a lot of fun and action and i like how Britt deferred to Mulan as he took on the mantle of Kato as she retained the Green Hornet role. The art was a nice grungy feel setting the tone of the environment nicely. Jay

Verdict: 4 Stars 

Written By: Christopher Sebela
Art By: Joshua Hixson
Inks By: Joshua Hixson
Colors By: Joshua Hixson
Letters By: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover By: Joshua Hixson
Price: $3.99 USD

Let me preface my review by saying that I went in to this title completely blind. As much as I pay attention to solicitations and previews, sometimes titles slip below my radar. In doing reviews, I wanted to seek out a first issue and so I happened upon Shanghai Red. The rich, deeply muted red splashed across the cover is indicative of the art style and the story contained within its pages. The story follows a “person” (I say person because I’m not entirely sure of the correct pronoun here) who seeks to take back their life from the pirates who “Shanghai’ed” them and kept them as slaves for a couple of years about the galleon ship ‘Bellwood’. It’s a period piece of sorts, a story of pirate life on the high-seas coupled with frontier life of the wild west. The story is compelling enough and – coupled with Hixson’s gritty, bloody art style makes for an interesting read. Overall, a good start to the series and I am glad I gave it a chance. ~ Jesse

Verdict  3 ½ Stars

Written By: Mark Waid
Art By: Javier Garron
Colors By: Israel Silva
Letters By: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover By: David Nakayama
Price: $3.99

While Scott Lang repairs Nadia’s sight (see last issue), Scott asks more about Nadia’s past. What follows is a well delivered sequence of how Nadia went into the Red Room, discovered Pym Particles, and became the Wasp. It’s funny when Scott points out that Nadia stole Jan’s Wasp costume and equipment just like how he took Hank’s Ant-Man gear (which Nadia constantly reminds him). The banter between Scott and Nadia shows Mark Waid’s skills with dialogue. Plus this issue introduce the Saarg race who’s civilization is being destroyed by an unknowing Nadia. One Saarg scientist, Burr Dalen, uses a device that shrinks Nadia to their size. This sets up an interesting development for our heroes as they continue their journey through the Microverse. ~ Louis

Verdict: 4 Stars

CABLE #158
Written By: Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson
Art By: German Peralta
Colors By: Jesus Aburtov
Letters By: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover By: Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer
Variant Cover By: Rob Liefeld and Federico Blee
Price: 3.99

Cable #158 throws us back to just after issue #2 of X-force, the original series.  This is all part of the Past Fears storyline that is currently playing out as Cable is haunted through his memories by Metus.  The story in this issue captures the fun and excitement of the original X-Force with Nadler and Thompson giving us great team dialogue from a training exercise that goes wrong in the danger room.  A dead character is seemly brought back for a moment and Deadpool is cut to pieces, nothing else needs to be said.  Cable was an unexpectedly fun read this week, hopefully the next issue keeps the same tone. ~ Justin

Verdict 3 ½ Stars

Written By: Mark Waid
Art By: Leonardo Romero
Colors By: Jordie Bellaire
Letters By: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover By: Michael Cho
Variant Cover By: Julian Totino Tedesco
Price: $3.99

This is not the ending I expected for Mark Waid’s run. Since this is the final issue hat could be the reason the issue’s story feels spead up. Also the revelations of the super soldier serum being fatal to the Knee and the Red Skull being a living cosmic cube feel very convenient (i.e. deus ex machina). The only thing that connects this story to Waid’s previous two arcs is Jack Rogers’s speech to Red Skull as Jack uses his power against him. This scene captures what qualities make Captain America a great and everlasting character. On a positive note, the artwork was visually stunning and it kept the story entertaining. Unfortunately this issue is average at best. ~ Louis

Verdict: 3 Stars

Written By: Charles Soule
Art By: Mike Henderson
Colors By: Matt Milla
Letters By: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover By: Chris Sprouse and Marte Gracia
Price: 3.99

Daredevil #604 starts off just as #603 left off, with Daredevil down for the count thanks to a poison infused demon fog. With the city under siege by the hand and their Beast, our hero needs help and gets it.  Father Jordan helps Matt and reveals he is a member of the Order of the Dragon, an older of warrior priest. Backed by the Order Daredevil takes the fight to the hand, right into the belly of the beast as it were. We also see the last page return of the real mayor of New York City, the Kingpin!  Charles Soule continues to breathe new life into the Daredevil mythos while keeping up an exciting pace for our horn headed hero.  Mike Henderson’s art gives great depth to the rush against time in this battle verses the Hand. A must read for any Daredevil fan. ~ Justin

Verdict: 4 Stars

Written By: Jim Zub
Art By: Emilio Laiso
Colors By: Andy Troy
Letters By: VC's Clayton Cowles
Cover By: Clayton Crain
Price: $3.99

Nova is woken by an S.O.S. from a Nova Corps outpost and Warbringer has attacked and he is ready to take off when his mom suggests getting the Champions to help as she fears for his safety. Sam lied to his mom saying he will be fine so out of guilt he calls Viv who assembles the Champions minus Miles and Amadeus. The timeline here is iffy as we have the new Champion Snowguard and Viv is a synethezoid again, but Amadeus isn't picking up which I assume places him "in the trunk" (See Totally Awesome Hulk) and it is said Miles is still in the hospital, but timeline aside the issue was still enjoyable. I loved that this felt like a team of super heroes and not social justice warriors, sure they still have that side to them but it isn't their driving force. The big problem here though for me is that it felt padded to be a two part story when it could have been one like the rest of these Infinity Countdown stories. ~ Jay

Verdict 3 ½ Stars

Written By: Rainbow Rowell
Art By: Kris Anka
Colors By: Matthew Wilson
Letters By: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover By: Kris Anka
Price: $3.99

“I know you don’t want to hear this right now…but I’ll always be your friend. You’ll always have me. Forever.”

Best Friends Forever? This isn’t exactly the words Karolina wants to hear from her girlfriend. Runaways #10 is a break up issue for both Molly ’s friendship with Abigail and Karolina’s romance with Julie. Last issue left us with Julie eating the cupcake Abigail gave Molly - turning Julie into a hormonal thirteen-year-old girl. Rainbow Rowell is able to balance fun and heartbreaking with Julie’s new state. Julie hated being thirteen - I mean does anyone like being thirteen? Maybe that’s what makes Abigail such a good villain because anyone who wants to stay in middle school for a lifetime has to be evil.

If you ever read an issue of Power Pack, you know Julie was always the responsible one. Sometimes having to hide her feelings or brush them off for the sake of her siblings. These are the same reasons why she denied her bisexuality for such a long time. In Runaways, she ignored her feelings until she just…broke. These aren’t just emotions of a thirteen-year-old girl with hormones, it’s the emotions of a girl with a broken heart who finally let those built up feelings come out. As always Kris Anka aces these emotions, and with every issue proves that he and Rowell is one of the best creative teams working in the industry right now. Runaways continues to deliver grounded villains and interpersonal problems, making this title one of the most relatable comics on stands. Kat

Verdict: 4.5 stars

Written By: Jason Latour
Art By: Robbi Rodriguez & Chris Visions
Colors By: Rico Renzi
Letters By: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover By: Robbi Rodriguez
Price: $3.99

“The animals, the animals. Trapped, trapped, trapped ’til the cage is full.”

Gwen is found guilty and is trapped in the very cage she put her enemies in. Staying true to any Spider story, Gwen feels so guilty over the things she’s done in her superhero career that she believes that she deserves to be put in this cage and beat up by her fellow cellmates. Just like the “Gwenom” arc, this book brings an unique tone with its ball of anxiety you feel flipping through Gwen’s narrative. My only disappointment is the drastic art change the book takes about half-way through the issue. Visions takes over art duties, and his style is very different from Rodriguez, which makes the story somewhat jarring to read. Spider-Gwen #33 is a perfect follow up to “Gwenom” as it continues to give us a familiar, but new take on the spider mythos. Kat

Verdict: 4 Stars

Written By: Dan Slott
Art By: Valerio Schiti
Colors By: Edgar Delgado
Letters By: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover By: Alexander Lozano
Price: $4.99

Dan Slott has been somewhat of a controversial creator during his long run on Amazing Spider-Man, there’s no question about that. And considering my own misgivings about that run, I was curious how he would handle Iron Man. Thankfully, he handled him pretty well in this first issue.

The story was fast-paced and and a bit frenetic, which matches the personality of Tony Stark. From showing up as a hologram to recruit Bhang, to the multitude of Stark tech and chaotic happenings at Stark Unlimited, this was Stark and Iron Man at his best from start to finish. It showed a measure of growth, but still illustrated the level of carelessness Tony often exhibits. And the art was fantastic here as well, with little touches like the bruises on Tony’s shoulder, and the intricacy of the Gundam like armor of the Fin Fang Foombuster.

My only complaint is that this issue did not fill in readers on what took place between this issue and the previous series, leaving a lot of questions and a missing Mary Jane. Whether or not these things will be addressed we’ll just have to wait and see. But because of that, it does affect my overall rating, but not my initial enjoyment. This was a fantastic kick-off to Slott’s run on Tony Stark: Iron Man. ~ Brant

Verdict: 4 ¼ Stars

Written By: Marc Guggenheim
Art By: David Marquez
Colors By: Matthew Wilson
Letters By: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover By: Phil Noto
Price: $4.99

X-Men Gold #30 opens with a flashback of Colossus having a heart-to-heart with Kitty as he professes his love for another woman. Colossus and Kitty have always had a shaky relationship (with a lot of weird plot choices), but it’s a love that’s comfortable. As a BIG Kitty Pryde fan I’m happy with the outcome of this issue. Yes folks - Kitty and Colossus do not end up tying the knot, but instead Rogue and Gambit become Mr. and Mrs. X. Unlike others, I don’t feel cheated. I feel quite the opposite. Since the beginning this wedding has felt rushed. Kitty wanted to get married, and she didn’t care which Peter it was going to be with. Kitty used marriage as a search for normalcy because everything in her life is the opposite of normal.

We would be here forever if I listed all the things I loved about this issue, from the special guest appearance of Logan to Kitty’s reunion with Lockheed, but the scene that stands out the most is the one Kitty shares with Illyana. Illyana drunkenly and hesitantly is the person to tell Kitty that deep down she knows this marriage is wrong. It’s a testament to the connection these two characters have with each other. A connection that hasn’t been showcased nearly enough in recent years. Mike Spider Slayer mentioned in his review that Illyana might have feelings for Kitty and I think Mike hits the nail on the head. Hopefully this is a thread that’s picked up in a future comic.

At the core of Kitty’s character, what makes her so relatable is her identity crisis. This is just a chapter that adds a layer to a narrative that has always been there. Come on, why do you think this girl has had so many costumes and code names? Why do you think Kitty went to space? She’s been trying to find herself, and I hope that this is the chapter that leads her into figuring out who she is...*cough* *cough* bisexual. Kat

Verdict: 5 stars

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  1. Great set of reviews guys. This is a great feature. With one read through of this article you feel like you watched 20 movies in a extremely small fraction of the time. I enjoy the experience I feel like I'm hopping from location to location at an incredible rate. Fathom was very intense, while Fence was very charming. Batman featured a dream battle with Catwoman and Joker, Daredevil was caught in the middle with another gang war. WWE had an great wrestling story. Spider-Gwen, Iron-Man, Shang-Hai Red and Cable all had entertaing stories. And X-Men Gold had a classic not too be soon forgotten.

    A fantastic smorgasbord of what business has to offer. Well done by everyone.

    1. Thanks so much Scotty! We really want to be that variety out there!

  2. Np Jay, Looking forward to Frontline Live this week, should be interesting.