Epicstream Comic Book Reviews for the Week: 12/12/2018 - Featuring Batman: Damned #2, Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1, The Magic Order #5, More!

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By Brian McCormick | More Articles
December 18, 2018  02:38 PM

BATMAN: DAMNED #2
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Lee Bermejo

Bermejo's artwork is the highlight of the book with gorgeously rendered pages. The biggest failure of Book 2 is the chaotic method of storytelling. Azzarello has attempted to do too much at once without advancing the plot. He brings in side characters to add complexity, but their appearances are brief and cryptic. The narration and characters that appear in this book all speak as if they were the Riddler. In small doses, this form of narration might work, but it's used too often and in almost every situation. Mixed into this sporadic issue, there are some hidden gems, such as the touching backstory of Bruce's childhood which explains why Batman doesn't use guns.

Rating: 6 out of 10
 

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock

Now this is a solid Batman mini-series! Snyder writes an action-packed page-turning thriller with The Batman Who Laughs. I haven't read any of the Dark Nights Metal run, but you don't need to in order to appreciate this comic. Jock renders the Joker perfectly and gives us cinematic sequences, including an epic car chase through Gotham. 

Rating: 10 out of 10

 

THE BEST DEFENSE: DOCTOR STRANGE #1
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Greg Smallwood

The Best Defense is my favorite event of the year! In this issue, Doctor Strange is on a reality or timeline where the evil forces of Dormammu have won. There's only one person who has escaped his magic, Doctor Strange. Strange looks old and his magic has run thin. How will he undo the damage caused by Dormammu? The only thing keeping this issue from a perfect 10 is the artwork. It comes off as rudimentary and the coloring is rather dull.

Rating: 8 out of 10
 

THE BEST DEFENSE: THE SILVER SURFER #1
Written by Jason Latour
Art by Jason Latour

This issue isn't so much about the Silver Surfer as it is a world that Galactus is about to consume. It's the classic tale of the herald of Galactus having to sacrifice one part of the universe to save another. Latour fleshes out a diverse planet reminiscent of the wild west that is about to be devoured. Its inhabitants all plea with the paltry goods they possess in order to secure a ride to safety. Art by Latour is styled in an indy fashion and the lack of inking is visible.

Rating: 7 out of 10
 

FANTASTIC FOUR: WEDDING SPECIAL #1
Written by Gail Simone, Dan Slott, Fred Hembeck
Art by Laura Braga, Mark Buckingham, Fred Hembeck

There's a bachelorette party for Alicia Masters before her big day with Ben Grimm. Just as things are starting to heat up, the party is interrupted by an invasion from underground. It's a light-hearted issue written in good fun with a sweet ending, but rather light on action. The second story by Dan Slott is my favorite short story of the year. It features Ben meeting with the Puppet Master for permission to marry his daughter. It's got the perfect twist ending on the last page. 

Rating: 7 out of 10
 

GODDESS MODE
Written by Zoe Quinn
Art by Robbi Rodriguez

Goddess Mode is a cyberpunk dystopian comic. Zoe Quinn has developed a world with a lot of character and potential. As I was reading the first 10 pages, I was completely lost on what was happening and why. It overloads you with tons of technobabble exposition and background information that would normally take 3 issues to methodically immerse a reader with. As soon as I had all but given up the book, it finally turned around and started making some sense. The artwork in Goddess Mode fits the cyberpunk theme well with elements of static electricity, holographic imaging, and a fitting color palette. Goddess Mode is an interesting universe but suffers from a lack of good storytelling technique.  Fans of cyberpunk that have the patience to read through it twice may find it a notable new addition to the genre.

Rating: 4 out of 10

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #6
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Daniel Sampere

Justice League Dark initially focused on Wonder Woman and now is increasingly more focused on Bobo. We begin to learn much more about his relationship with the Night Master and Myrra. The clash between Dr. Fate and The Stranger is rather vague and short, lacking the punch that we would expect from a clash of the magical titans. Justice Dark #6 is a well drawn, colored, and written book, but spends too little time showing the awesomeness of spectacular battles and too much on exposition detailing planning and small talk between characters.

Rating: 7 out of 10
 

THE MAGIC ORDER #5
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Olivier Coipel

The series has all been building up to this issue, where we finally discover who the mysterious assassin is. I felt underwhelmed with Millar's pick for the villain. It's ground that has been tread over and over again in many stories. I'd have liked to see Millar do something different by fleshing out an entirely new villain. I'm not convinced that the motivations for the assassin were strong enough to justify what was done. Nevertheless, the art and coloring continues to be a standout

Rating: 5 out of 10
 

MURDER FALCON #3
Written by Daniel Warren Johnson
Art by Daniel Warren Johnson

Murder Falcon #3 continues to deliver the beats with the most metal fight scenes ever drawn. Jake adds a drummer to his team, who ends up summoning the largest defender of them all. The series does what it does best in delivering action, but it's beginning to become a bit repetitive in its storytelling.

Rating: 6 out of 10
 

OUTER DARKNESS #2
Written by John Layman
Art by Afu Chan

Captain Joshua Rigg takes the crew into dangerous territory in order to learn about the capabilities of his crew. The lives he puts at risk in doing so turns much of the crew against him and reveals who his adversaries are. I love the wide-panel art by Afu Chan and his visually exciting and imaginative take on this sci-fi universe. The Outer Darkness is perfect for Star Trek fans looking for something new and exciting.

Rating: 10 out of 10

 

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #11
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Ryan Ottley

J. Jonah Jameson is having a feast thrown in his honor by none other than the no good mayor, Wilson Fisk. Of course, there is a twist. Wilson Fisk demands that Jonah bring Spider-Man to the party to partake in the festivities. Peter Parker must have learned a thing or two over the years and declines the invite, incurring the wrath of Jameson. Art by Ryan Ottley has grown on me and the colors by Laura Martin are top notch. Laura adds some Winter magic to the issue making the city feel alive, rather than just a still backdrop.

Rating: 7 out of 10
 

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #1
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Art by Javier Garron

Miles Morales is reintroduced back into Marvel Comics with Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1. Since it is being billed as a #1, the issue spends a fair amount of time exploring the dynamics of Miles to the uninitiated. There's nothing spectacular or amazing in this issue. Other than serving as an introduction to the character, there isn't any flair to the story. It's a suitable start with a rather brief fight with Rhino, but it doesn't leave me excited for more.

Rating: 6 out of 10
 

SKYWARD #9
Written by Joe Henderson
Art by Lee Garbett

There's a lot to unpack in this issue and implications that will reverberate through the rest of the series. Tensions rise as Willa finds herself caught between conflicting interests of her friends and enemies, which will inevitably result in interpersonal conflict and betrayals down the road. It doesn't seem like gravity is going to be fixed anytime soon, or at all. I hope Henderson leaves room in the series for Willa to fix gravity, or at least try to.

Rating: 6 out of 10
 

X-23 #7
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Diego Olortegui

Mariko Tamaki shows us she is at the top of her game with X-23. It's one of the most consistently good comics of Marvel's Fresh Start and delivers lighthearted humor, dynamic action sequences, and emotionally charged stories. As with all X-23 stories, it's best not to read on an empty stomach. Not because of the violence, but because Mariko somehow introduces delicious food into every issue. Issue #7 leads with a murder mystery that Laura must solve. The villain turns out to be someone close to home and Gabby presses Laura to show some humanity to the assassin when things go south.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Pick of the Week: X-23

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Brian McCormick is a Fantasy and Science Fiction enthusiast & Co Founder of Epicstream.com