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 resume 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 many of our recent reviews of comics published by TKO Studios and Panel Syndicate 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 The Dreaming #20, Friday #1, and many TKO Studios publications.
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.
The only thing that doesn't work perfectly for The Banks? The comic attempts to bring a bit of law and order into things, almost shifting it into a detective story. It's a strange element that ultimately feels out of place and decelerates events at the end. While The Banks has a satisfying conclusion, the landing is somewhat shaky due to a few extraneous threads the narrative could have done without. In spite of those missteps, The Banks is an engrossing and thought-provoking read, one that feels of the moment, yet absolutely timeless. It presents a new kind of Robin Hood for a modern reader, and then so much more. -- Nicole Drum
Rating: 4 out of 5
BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #12
Batman and the Outsiders is a title that frequently suffers from imbalance, never quite striking an even footing between exposition and action. This week's Batman and the Outsiders #12 suffers from this flaw. The issue spends the first roughly two-thirds on "heartfelt" chats between various pairings of characters—Black Lightning and Batman, Shiva and Orphan, Black Lightning and Katana—as they join forces to go after Ra's. It's not that it's bad or problematic that the book puts so much weight on this aspect of the story; these relationships are interesting and inform the future of the team. The problem is is that these are conversations that happen in nearly every issue of the series, almost exactly as they do here, and thus far has done nothing to advance the idea of the Outsiders as an actual team. That said, the issue does set up for what promises to be an exciting arc as Ra's makes his big move so at least there's some promise and Ra's plan is especially diabolical. -- Nicole Drum
Rating: 3 out of 5
THE DREAMING #20
The big narrative bomb of The Dreaming's ending detonated in #19. This issue reads like watching the explosion, with all the decisions that triggered the bomb having already happened. It's a glorious explosion crafted by a creative team that deserves free reign on any future projects. This is especially true of Evely; her embellished, illuminated layouts and panels deserve revisiting, even read independently from this story. Crafting a worthy follow-up to The Sandman is a task of mythological proportions. The Dreaming managed to evolve its characters and themes in ways that are interesting, additive and revealing. The Dreaming turned out to be a powerful new addition to The Sandman's legacy, and a moving, enrapturing story in its own right. -- Jamie Lovett
Rating: 5 out of 5
EVE OF EXTINCTION
Eve of Extinction isn't a perfect comic, but it has nuggets of something legitimately compelling and entertaining. The six-issue saga manages to be both an urban tale of apocalypse and an intimate family story, which is kept alive by its roster of female characters. If you want an apocalyptic horror book that will largely play into your expectations, for better or for worse, Eve of Extinction may be right up your alley.-- Jenna Anderson
THE FLASH #753
Joshua Williamson and the combined artistic talents of Howard Porter and Brandon Peterson continue the story of Paradox and the various time travel shenanigans he's spawned. It's 100% a Flash story but it's a good one. Porter and Peterson are at the top of their game and the finale offers us a team-up that I don't think has ever actually taken place in the history of Barry Allen. A fun, fast paced super hero story! -- Evan Valentine
It's Brubaker's novelistic approach to narrative combined with Martin's knack for subtly conveying so much information that makes Friday a thrilling comics debut, and the sort of first issue that allows you to forget the world outside of its pages. Every question raised here is interesting not because the answer is unknown, but because the answers are clearly contained in an appropriately dense world that is being constructed before our eyes to address universal concepts with a very specific comics portrait. Reading Friday #1 for the first time is a treat, but the most remarkable element of this issue is that subsequent readings are every bit as enthralling. Whatever comes next, Friday delivers a near-perfect introduction and leaves us with the welcome promise that there will be another chance to enter King's Hill, and briefly escape the confines of quarantine, very soon. -- Chase Magnett
Even after reading Goodnight Paradise and finding myself thoroughly disappointed with the completed project, it remains a story I like a great deal in concept. The comic centers on Eddie, a homeless man surviving on the Venice Beach boardwalk, who discovers the murdered bodies of a young woman and her dog. It spirals outward into a plot encompassing homeless teenagers, local organized crime, and high stakes real estate deals. This conspiracy-fueled detective story packed with murder and deceit is a very familiar genre piece steeped in noir, but Eddie's perspective—one shaken by decades of life on the outskirts of society combined with alcoholism—offers something new. Examining a complex mystery with a character ill-suited to solving it, but capable of providing a holistic view on this setting in which the American dream has collapsed altogether feels like a new and intriguing hook. Yet the completed Goodnight Paradise resembles a first draft of this pitch, something that can capably lure readers (or producers), but doesn't offer much more than a competently crafted distraction while you turn the pages. -- Chase Magnett
THE GREEN LANTERN SEASON TWO #3
The Green Lantern Season Two brings Hal back down to Earth, but to be fair he doesn't really spend all that much time actually grounded. Morrison is excellent at weaving in larger than life concepts (a giant could being) with more grounded relationships and the natural conflicts that come into play when you operate as law enforcement for an entire part of the universe. Some of the individual pieces don't necessarily flow as smoothly into one another as they could, as the opening feels quite disjointed from the rest of the book, and there are times the more eccentric ideas don't really coalesce into an easy to understand idea. Also, Morrison's been quite good in the past about showing the cocky bravado of Hal Jordan but still balancing the more humorous and charismatic parts of his personality, but here he really just feels like a jerk (especially to his little alien buddies), and a rather dumb one at that, making a choice about halfway through that just seems completely insane for someone with his experience. Artist Liam Sharp goes for a slightly different coloring style here than in previous issues, and while it's fine early on, it lets that second half of the issue shine, with vivid colors and gorgeous landscapes filling every panel. This is a bit of a mixed bag, and while it features some stunning art and delightful moments, the unevenness keeps it from achieving greatness. -- Matthew Aguilar
Again, 23 issues in and Venditti keeps this title as fresh as ever. This time around, the eponymous character and... let's say a friend, find themselves in Spain circa 1650 for the equivalency of a one-shot; at least the closest you'll get to one in the midst of an ongoing. Sure, while it helps to know what's happened before and after, this particular issue can stand on its own legs outside of the main story, largely in part because it's so different than what this team has done before. That said, things do start to run a bit stale towards the end, immediately before the plot pulling a complete 180-degree turn. -- Adam Barnhardt
HOUSE OF WHISPERS #20
There's a lot to appreciate and enjoy about House of Whispers #20, but those individual pieces don't all come together. The issue spends a lot of time on asides in the form of lectures about the impact of white supremacy on African culture. It's the thematic thread that ties Agwe's existence to Poquito's state and Papa Midnight's curse. It's a worthy topic and its worth of the attention, but it does grind the pace of events to a halt, mostly because we're spending time on three disconnected (beyond theme) stories. It's a story that needs more room to breathe, but there's something to be said for a single comic packing in this much thematic strength into a single issue. -- Jamie Lovett
JOKER/HARLEY: CRIMINAL SANITY #4
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity is absolutely not for the faint of heart, but it's easily one of the most unique books that DC is putting out this year. This issue takes the cat-and-mouse game between criminal psychologist Harleen Quinzel and serial killer Joe Kelly into some heartbreaking and truly chilling territory, while shedding a bit more light on the latter's twisted origin. Kami Garcia's narrative and Jason Badower and Mico Suayan's art work together in complex harmony, and help tee up this miniseries for a compelling second act. -- Jenna Anderson
Throughout his career, one of Garth Ennis' strengths has been diving into the world of war and with TKO Studios' Sara, he is joined by Steve Epting to tell us a tale of battle that ranks among some of the legendary writer's best work. The story itself revolves around the titular Sara, a Soviet sniper in World War 2 working to halt an advance by Nazi forces. While the story has its fair share of typical Ennis trench warfare, it's in the quiet character moments that the comic really shines. Sara is a fantastic "one and done" war story that delivers a steady supply of thoughtful characters and unique war time scenarios, and if TKO Studios can continue to produce comics on the same level, the publisher will certainly find a solid footing in the comic book community. -- Evan Valentine
Sentient is the kind of taut, sci-fi thriller that won't let you set it down. Lemire and Walta empower a story of family and fear structured as a Bildungsroman. Any fan of sci-fi storytelling and well-crafted comics owes it themself to check out this incredible tale. -- Jamie Lovett
SEVEN DEADLY SINS0comments
TKO Studios' Seven Deadly Sins is full of what you expect from a classic western adventure, but it's the unexpected elements that make this book sing, and what a brilliant song it turns out to be. Seven Deadly Sins is written by Tze Chun with art by Artyom Trakhanov and colorist Giulia Brusco, and the trio forms one dynamite team, crafting a story with the thrilling gunfights and endearing group of ragtag fighters found in many of classic tales of the Wild West. This comic also has the grit, heart, and depth to back all of that up. In short, it's a must-read, especially for those who love getting lost in genre comics. -- Matthew Aguilar