Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 5/13/2020

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Welcome to this week in comic book reviews! Typically, the staff comes together to read and review nearly everything released on a Wednesday. However, due to the impact of coronavirus on the comics market, that hasn't been the case for most of March and April. This week we are excited to continue our coverage as comic book stores begin receiving new releases once more. In addition to all of the new DC Comics released this week, this collection also includes some recent reviews of comics published by Panel Syndicate and Comixology Originals that remain available to readers in quarantine.

The review blurbs you'll find contained herein are typically supplemented in part by longform individual reviews for significant issues. This week that includes Bad Karma #1 and Youth #1.

Also, in case you were curious, our ratings are simple: we give a whole number out of five; that's it! If you'd like to check out our previous reviews, they are all available here.

And with that, on to the reviews -- which are listed entirely in alphabetical order this week.

BAD KARMA #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

It's not difficult to recognize the characters in Bad Karma. Unlike so many individuals drafted with a set of easy identifiers and characteristics, Ethan, Sully, and Cheryl walk into the first few panels of Bad Karma as fully-realized people, and that’s what makes them recognizable. From conversations in a basement not updated since the early 80s to an awkward Christmas Eve dinner with an unromanticized found family, there is a depth and understanding present that makes these individuals and their relationships read as real. There’s also a high-stakes plot involving an innocent man on death row and some bloody violence on the highway, but writer Alex de Campi and artist Ryan Howe don’t need these exaggerated, genre elements to sell their comic. Bad Karma #1 is a great read from start to finish because it’s built on excellent character work. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

HARLEY QUINN #72

With the way the world is right now with all, this week's Harley Quinn #72 couldn't come at a better time. Harley's quest to find her friend's killer continues complete with the assistance of none other than Booster Gold, but the murder mystery is, in a sense, just window dressing for Sam Humphries real story of grief, trauma, and the long road to healing. Yes, the issue is full of kooky, zany, and goofy fun—it is Booster and Harley, after all—but there's a rich emotional core. We get to see Harley struggle and fall apart even as she tries to keep moving forward. It's beautiful, it's real, and its heartwrenching just as much as it is funny. It's a fantastic issue; it's timing just makes it perfect. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 5 out of 5

JUSTICE LEAGUE #44

After the disappointing starter arc from Robert Vendetti with his Eradicator arc, Justice League needed a shot in the arm and while "Pits of Tartarus" might not be that shot, it is a step in the right direction. Joined by artist Xermanico, Vendetti gives the main super heroes of the DC a titanic threat to tussle with and a final page stinger that certainly has us interested in seeing what comes next. This new issue might not break the wheel, but it does a serviceable job of taking some of the biggest heroes of the DCU and giving them a threat worthy of their team. -- Evan Valentine

Rating: 3 out of 5

JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #20

When you read old issues of superhero comics from the 70s and 80s, certain patterns appear that remind you of the differing styles and approach of what you’re reading. Yet many of those same patterns form the basis for Justice League Odyssey #20. The opening fight sequence is layered with dialogue explaining past events, while the action itself fails to establish any sense of momentum or tension. It's meaningless back and forth until finally ended by an outside entity, because it’s time to move into a massive exposition dump in the form of characters talking past one another for the rest of the issue. The problem is that this comic was published in 2020, so it lacks the nostalgic charm that comes with reading these outdated plotting methods and the artwork is entirely subordinated to pushing through far too many word balloons. It’s all a bit of a drag. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

LOIS LANE #10

I’ve come to read Lois Lane for its individual moments rather than the overarching story. Diving back into Lois Lane #10, it’s difficult to trace a line between the events occurring here and those that kicked off the maxi-series in #1. This specific battle against the Kiss of Death has become an intriguing showdown, but it’s also one largely bereft of stakes beyond the immediate consequences of violence. Even with a lack of momentum and struggles to weave its various elements together, Lois Lane #10 offers three excellent moments. Interactions between Clark and Lois remain a highlight for the series, but there’s also a series of multiversal spreads only hindered by muddy inking and a tense final standoff that utilizes every character involved to great effect. Even if there doesn’t appear to be much reason to revisit this series as it nears its conclusion, individual issues like this offer plenty of entertaining distractions and ideas on their own. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

METAL MEN #6

This issue might be one of the most significant Metal Men installments yet, but it still remains to be seen if the series as a whole is worth the journey. Tina attempts to get some agency by investigating the nature of her origin, and what she finds changes her worldview forever. What unfolds from there is slightly compelling, but ultimately comes across as men trying to tell a story of female empowerment. There are some occasionally-great moments (an earnestly-silly splash page midway through the issue comes to mind), but there isn’t a lot here that will make this a must-read. -- Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3 out of 5

YOUTH #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

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Ultimately, while Youth #1 has moments that feel too engineered, the heart of the story is one that beats with a fresh and refreshing honesty. Youth #1 aches in a way that few coming of age stories do. It makes you see yourself in its characters and prompts investing yourself in knowing what happens next when the unbelievable finally occurs and changes everything. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 4 out of 5