Comic Book Reviews for This Week: 6/3/2020

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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—including new issues from DC, Image, Boom, IDW, and more.

The review blurbs you'll find contained herein are typically supplemented in part by longform individual reviews for significant issues. This week that includes Birds of Prey #1, Buffy: Every Generation #1, The Boys: Dear Becky #1 and Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew #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.

2020 FORCE WORKS #3

If it weren’t for the issue’s modern style, it wouldn’t be difficult to think this was a relic of the 1980s pulled from a back issue bin. Absurdly long exchanges in the midst of life-or-death action and an assembly of B-listers who each hammer on the same note deliver the musty smell of old comics almost as well as the actual thing. It’s not an entirely bad thing, though. There is an earnestness to the plotting and action that’s enjoyable for someone raised on digging out those old issues. M.O.D.O.K.’s plot is as bizarre as one could hope for, and creates an amusing image. How these heroes solve a long list of problems is rarely clever, but satisfying given how many strange decisions they deliver. If there were any Force Works fans waiting for this, this might have been the best outcome possible—even if it’s not great by any standards. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

ACTION COMICS #1022

The current run of Action Comics is honestly a mess and understandably so. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of things unexplained and it's not always the easiest to read and this is especially true in Action Comics #1022. The issue begins to unpack the mystery of Connor Kent, but like so much of Bendis' Action run thus far, it feels like the story is doing nothing but running the general Superman-driven tale into the ground. There are some genuinely heartfelt moments in the issue, but everything is cluttered, awkward, and smacks of a fundamental misunderstanding of the characters. John Romita Jr's art continues to be chaotic and frankly awful to look at. The only thing about the issue that is truly redemptive is its family centric sense. Somehow, for all the mess, there's still hope. It just feels as though, for longtime readers, it's wasted. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 2 out of 5

AGGRETSUKO #3

Aggretsuko #3 comes out this weekend with a refreshing tale of two cultures that will leave fans wanting more. The issue follows Retsuko as she welcomes a visiting employee to her office, but Karen is far more abrasive than everyone expected. But right when Retsuko starts to lose her cool around her shadow, Karen proves she's not bluffing when her past aligns her with the overworked red panda. -- Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

AVENGERS OF THE WASTELAND #5

Avengers of the Wasteland took a post-apocalyptic setting and struggled to force it into the shape of a familiar superhero tale. This final showdown with Doom strikes an eerily resonant chord as they battle before a crowd of protestors, but its moment of publication also reveals how hollow and insignificant its perspective really is. There are some fine displays of standard tropes, but the final, inspiring speech feels anything but inspiring. Applying these tropes to a dictator who slaughters entire families feels hollow and the speech given to justify these actions makes it clear that superheroes can’t recognize the value of any lives besides those wearing a mask. It’s a disappointment, to say the very least. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

BATMAN/SUPERMAN #9

Batman/Superman #9 kicks off a new adventure for the World’s Finest, and it’s off to a promising start. Writer Joshua Williamson takes things from the world stage to the dour streets of Gotham, and it’s always an intriguing contrast to the bright, colorful, and optimistic Man of Steel. That said, Gotham does get a nice punch of color thanks to artist Clayton Henry and colorist Alejandro Sanchez’s stellar work on Atomic Skull and Ultra Humanite, who by the way has rarely looked this menacing. Much of the issue doesn’t actually feature the big two interacting, but that actually doesn’t turn out to be a problem. The issue sets up this adventure with everything it needs to fulfill its potential, and from here on out it should have no problem soaring. -- Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 3 out of 5

BIRDS OF PREY #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

Although the plot has many enjoyable moments, this Birds of Prey one-shot still reads as what some fans had feared from the beginning—the general concept of the Birds of Prey movie filtered through a superficial, male voice. It certainly isn't the most consistent or character-accurate tie-in comic that the Birds movie has produced, but it is still far from a complete wash. The art is gorgeous, featuring some incredibly clever sequences, and it may help fans bide their time until Birds of Prey returns to the realm of DC canon. -- Jenna Anderson

Rating: 3 out of 5

THE BOYS: DEAR BECKY #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

Setting aside the old man shouts at cloud style introduction of The Boys: Dear Becky #1, most of the issue represents what was best in The Boys. It’s a comic book capable of delivering both hilarious ultraviolence and a sincere reflection on the cost of committing violence—a contradiction in tone and style that enhances both parts in surprising ways. If the rest of this miniseries is able to maintain its focus and fulfill the promise offered by these early installments of Billy Butcher’s diary, then it may be capable of delivering an entertaining and provocative treatise on the subjects that drove the original series across so many years. Fans of that series will certainly be pleased and skeptics may find something to appreciate in these pages. We could certainly use that sort of quality distraction now that Coronavirus has proven itself to be far worse than a joke. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

BUFFY: EVERY GENERATION #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

While Buffy is the most well-known slayer, she is far from the only one. She is the latest in a long line of slayers seeking to protect the world from evil that lurks in the darkness of night, ridding the world of demons, vampires, and any other presence that stalking humanity. BOOM! Studios' new one-shot Buffy: Every Generation puts Buffy in the spotlight once more, but it also takes a minute to feature two previous slayers, and it's in those stories where this volume truly shines. Unfortunately, those don't come until later in this one-shot, so the comic doesn't make the best first impression. -- Matthew Aguilar

Rating: 4 out of 5

CATWOMAN #22

This serves as the first issue after Joelle Jones’ official departure from Catwoman, and it proves to truly be a mixed bag. Set during her time in Villa Hermosa, Selina investigates a maid company that might have a few tricks up their sleeves—and gets sucked into an unexpected adventure because of it. The concept itself is cutesy and entertaining enough, but Paula Sevenbergen’s script is littered with a borderline-irritating amount of puns and clunky dialogue. Similarly, Aneke’s art and Laura Allred’s colors make some panels genuinely fantastic, while others come across as a bit too male gaze-y. Overall, this could have been a great standalone issue, but it ended up just being a good one. -- Jenna Anderson


Rating: 3 out of 5

CATWOMAN 80TH ANNIVERSARY 100-PAGE SUPER SPECTACULAR #1

The Catwoman 80th Anniversary special has a little something for everyone who is a fan of Selina Kyle. The book brings back some seriously heavy hitters to each tell their own short, including Tom King, Paul Dini, Ed Brubaker and Chuck Dixon and it’s fun seeing different artists all take their crack at the duplicitous anti-hero. If you’re not a fan of hers already you might want to give this a look, as its a fun celebration of her past and present interpretations. -- Connor Casey

Rating: 4 out of 5

COPRA #6

If a comic book reads like it has a gimmick, it diminishes whatever that “gimmick” is trying to convey. It’s the difference between Superman #75, an exhausting slog building to its hero’s death, and Thor #380, an awe-inspiring battle with Jormungand using the only appropriate scale. COPRA #6 utilizes only splash pages like both of these issues, then combines that effect with complete silence, but it never reads as a gimmick. Following the arrival of inhuman gods and reality-distorting forces, this prelude to “The Ochizon Saga” tells the tale of a titanic battle with no space for speeches. It is one of the most compelling comics I have read all year, carefully pacing the turns of pages so readers might believe they can catch a breath before coming upon another page so impactful that it alone could define an issue of another series. But this is Michel Fiffe’s COPRA, and what would be impressive for other comics is simply labeled page 12 here. Bravo. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

CRITICAL ROLE: VOX MACHINA - ORIGINS II #6

Critical Role's second miniseries ends in a bit of a rushed fashion, but it's still an enjoyable one and hints at greater adventures to come. Over the course of the miniseries, we've seen the team not yet known as Vox Machina deal with their teammate Grog's possession by a lich. To reverse this, the party retrieved some rare magic items, picked up a new teammate, and then participated in a magic ritual to excise the lich from Grog. The "big" battle in this issue unfortunately is mostly standing and talking, but that's more a consequence of staying true to Vox Machina's original tabletop adventures than anything else. There's still tons of great character moments and most importantly the feeling that Vox Machina's adventures are just getting started. -- Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

DETECTIVE COMICS #1022

Detective Comics #1022 provides some crucial backstory to Two-Face's sudden change into a cult leader, and honestly, the whole thing feels like a haphazard tie-in to Batman's "Joker War" arc. Everything from Joker's motivations to Two-Face's current MO just doesn't make much sense, and there are a few elements that sadly feel a bit out of touch given today's climate. This is just a messy story arc and it looks like it'll get messier given the comic's intention to tie into Batman's "Joker War." -- Christian Hoffer

Rating: 2 out of 5

FAR SECTOR #6

Far Sector might not take place on Earth, but this futuristic society faces many of the same conflicts and examples of oppression as modern-day America. That’s part of what makes writer N.K. Jemisin’s cosmic tale so compelling, as the expected constructs of a Green Lantern story are broken and expanded upon, with Jo’s personal story firmly in the driver’s seat. Much of the issue is an earnest and honest conversation between two people, and while there are a few action-heavy moments, it doesn’t really matter, since artist Jamal Campbell and letter Deron Bennett make even the smaller and more poignant moments absolutely stunning. This book is full of vibrant purples, greens, blues, and pinks, but the dazzling colors never outshine the telling expressions and smaller moments that ground this interstellar adventure. Far Sector couldn’t be timelier, providing a truly unique look at our own troubled and fractured society with a bit of superhero flare. Far Sector has been one of the best superhero books around since it launched, but these days it’s also one of the most important. -- Matthew Aguilar

Rating: X out of 5

HOUSE OF WHISPERS #21

The latest story in the "Sandman Universe" follows the enigmatic Papa Midnite and gives us an issue truly worthy of the world created by Neil Gaiman. Nalo Hopkins and Domo Stanton weave a mystical story that screams for your attention and leaps off the page with each turn. A great venture into the world of magic and a comic that is definitely worth your time for the visuals alone, let alone solid story telling. -- Evan Valentine

Rating: 4 out of 5

JOHN CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER #6

It’s the last panel that makes this comic work. Reading the issue for the first time, I was torn between so many sentiments and reactions. The style reads like classic Hellblazer in the best way with monsters that defy visual definition, providing terrifying impressions over clean lines. The early pages emphasize brief character portraits of the best sort, but twists in the plot reveal another human being whose sort is at the center of so much trauma and unforgivable hatred. It’s difficult not to feel conflicted as the story continues—what right thing can possibly be said about monsters like this? But that last panel? That last panel seems to frame the entire story, with all of its downtrodden figures and ugly, unconquerable monsters, in a fashion that feels right. I wept a bit after that final panel. Maybe I’m just tired, or maybe there’s an idea here worth crying over. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 5 out of 5

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #22

Picking up the tension exactly where it left off in the last book, Justice League Dark #22 is a 20-page panic attack that forces you to wait for the other shoe to drop. The only problem is, it never does. There's an incredibly high sense of urgency throughout with no satisfying conclusion in sight. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does eventually get to the point where one hopes for even the slightest bit of hope. -- Adam Barnhardt

Rating: 4 out of 5

THE LAST GOD: TALES FROM THE BOOK OF AGES #1

The Last God: Tales From the Book of Ages is a surprisingly dense sourcebook with tons of resources to build a D&D campaign set in the world of Cain Anuun. The sourcebook comes with multiple subclasses, races, and magic items for players, along with a condensed history and monster statblocks for DMs to use when crafting the campaign. The subclasses, at least at first glance, seem to be pretty balanced, while the magic items are moderately overpowered but in line with the general world of The Last God. The monster statblocks are the most disappointing part of the sourcebook, mostly because they lack Challenge Ratings and their abilities/attacks seem all over the place. However, for the price tag, this is definitely a solid mini-sourcebook, and I hope that DC continues to publish more Last God/D&D crossovers in the future. -- Christian Hoffer

Rating: 4 out of 5

NAILBITER RETURNS #1

The serial killer Nailbiter might be "dead," but that doesn't mean his daughter can escape his legacy in a town that a number of murderers have called home. After the discovery of a body that resembles one of the town's most famous murderers, it becomes clear that things in this Oregon town might not stay as dead as they do in other parts of the world. Despite this being a sequel series, fans unfamiliar with Nailbiter can easily jump in and be caught up to speed, earning a twisted tale about the macabre cultural interest in true crime. Josh Williamson's references and dialogue manage to feel relevant and organic, never feeling as though he's pandering to his horror-obsessed readers, Mike Henderson's art jumps from conveying only the bare essentials to a horrific two-page splash panel that utilizes primary colors and rudimentary figures in a precisely effective composition to heighten the story's unsettling subject matter. In concept, tone, and narrative potential, Nailbiter Returns is off to an exciting and disturbing start. -- Patrick Cavanaugh

Rating: 4 out of 5

NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS: THE DEATH OF NANCY DREW #1

[READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE]

If entertainment is to provide some form of relief or distraction from events that deserve to make headlines, then that entertainment ought to be competently assembled with a price tag of $3.99. This is not and the reading experience is bound to leave many readers even more frustrated by the time they arrive at the final, completely unsurprising page. If you hadn’t already forgotten the headlines this title stirred up, then know that The Death of Nancy Drew #1 is best left forgotten. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 1 out of 5

RAGNAROK: THE BREAKING OF HELHEIM #5

Walt Simonson introduces his new vision of Hel and it’s everything I could have hoped for. While the long conversation between Thor and Hel comprises most of the issue—offering a great deal of context for what came before and what lies ahead—the best parts of this issue come in the brief introductions of new creatures and vessels that all seethe with power. The massive crow Hrafn appears chiseled from onyx and his appearance induces awe in a mere three panels. A brief flashback to the ship Naglfar is every bit as imposing in scale. These panels reveal a master artist still experimenting and altering his style after decades of success. Even when the dialogue seems to drag on, it never lessens the excitement of discovering a new page of Ragnarok. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

REAVER #8

Reaver #8 blows through more exposition before ending on a cliffhanger which sets up the Breaker's new adventure. After reuniting with an old comrade, the burly hero is unwittingly forced back into battle when a young girl is taken captive, but the villain our leads face reveals how far ahead he is of their plan in the best of ways. -- Megan Peters

Rating: 3 out of 5

RED MOTHER #5

Red Mother continues to be one easily one of the best horror comics out there and #5 is no exception. While it is a little deeper into the series at this point, the gentle pacing of the story makes it a wonderful jumping in point, but more than that, the comic's understated exploration of grief and trauma and healing is one that is wonderful to read. What works particularly here is that we Jeremy Haun's story finally sees Daisy start to heal and move forward and while it's ominously obvious that more darkness and horror is coming, there's something gorgeous about the book's approach to trauma that makes this issue of the story truly a standout. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 5 out of 5

REVENGE OF THE COSMIC GHOST RIDER #5

Perhaps this conclusion was truncated due to pandemic-related cutbacks, and that’s the most favorable lens I can find for this issue. The choices made by both Frank and Mephisto and similarly baffling—working towards a plot-designated conclusion, rather than reflecting consistent characters. Twists are delivered quickly and without much thought or reflection, and that creates some serious tonal discrepancies, leaping between despair and heavy metal attitude without anything to bridge the two. It’s a bizarre ending primarily delivered through expository dialogue, but there are some nice looking pages along the way. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH: SOMETHING WICKED #1

Sabrina The Teenage Witch: Something Wicked debuts this week with a bewitching story befitting of any magical girl. The issue begins with Sabrina following up with the Radka family as she attempts to return the siblings back to normal, but things aren't going as she hoped. Things only get more complicated when Sabrina is forced to face her distracted state, and her life only gets harder when a shocking cliffhanger reveals new details about her beloved aunts. -- Megan Peters

Rating: 4 out of 5

SCREAM: CURSE OF CARNAGE #6

This issue bears some resemblance to Frankenstein’s monster, piecing together a variety of narratives into a collection that doesn’t resemble an original superhero comic book . It’s worth noting that Chris Mooneyham’s take on The Punisher manages to provide some highlights of a classic costume and a solid spread of action. However, much of the issue drifts between different points of focus without offering any meaningful momentum. A three-way showdown between vigilantes appears out of nowhere and forgets its setup (a mayoral announcement with a high profile donor) as soon as it begins. The simultaneous introduction of additional child abductors spends lots of time developing awful thoughts in the readers head to an almost pornographic degree. Where is this all going? How do these events tie together? Why do 5 pages look noticeably worse? Well, that’s the business of cranking out comics nobody asked for. -- Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

SHAZAM #12

Bringing in guest writer Jeff Loveness of Rick & Morty, along with guest artist Brandon Peterson, gave us a great one and done adventure that walked us through Billy Batson's mishaps in Gotham City. What Loveness is able to do so well is convey the immaturity of Batson as he stumbles right into the Scarecrow in a bid to prove he "doesn't have lame villains". His eventual team up with Batman, because of course it was going to happen, was adorable and demonstrated the strengths of both characters. A great single issue story for superhero fans. -- Evan Valentine

Rating: 4 out of 5

STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #11

Star Trek: Year Five #11 has speed on its side as it races through a dramatic event aboard the Enterprise. Problems between and within characters linger from past issues, but this chapter wastes no time in compounding those dilemmas with a new event. With the crew separated, characters like Kirk and Spock are able to exemplify the most defining parts of their characters while adapting on to high-stakes environments. The characters’ expressions sometimes don’t convey the proper level of emotion that you’d expect from these interactions, but things move at such a brisk pace that the shortcoming is easy to overlook. -- Tanner Dedmon

Rating: 4 out of 5

WONDER WOMAN #756

The potential that Steve Orlando has been building up to in Wonder Woman finally begins to come into its own in Wonder Woman #756. Finally, the story begins to move past posturing and exposition in the second part of "The Four Horseman" arc with both Donnay Troy and Diana facing off with those attempting to call their pasts into question. It's a beautiful message, the idea that we are more than our pasts and that we can learn form our mistakes to fight onward for justice and what is right and it's a timely message. It's also just beautifully executed as Diana comes to realize that while words will carry you part of the way, it's action that brings things home. The art remains iffy and messy at best, but as the fight truly kicks off, everything is starting to come together for a solid, engaging issue. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 4 out of 5

YOUTH #4

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Youth is, ultimately, a comic book that has to be taken on the whole rather than considered in individual issues. If you do that, the story that comes together has weight, passion, and a realism that, even in a fantastical setting rings painfully true. As a full thing, Youth is something that every reader can connect with, glancing past some of its weaker details. Unfortunately, when you look at Youth #4 and its unique characteristics, the conclusion feels cliched, too easy, and while it does stage the possibility of more stories to come, it reads too much like a "Diet Marvel" attempt at superhero storytelling. That is unfortunate because this story could have delivered so much more. -- Nicole Drum

Rating: 2 out of 5

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.