Frontline Reviews For The Week Of November 21, 2018 – The Go-Nots!

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 BrantJayKat, & Louis giving reviews for books from Aftershock, ArchieBOOM! StudiosDC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment IDW PublishingImage 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!

 THE LOLLIPOP KIDS #2

 “Things That Go Bump In The Night”

Co-Created & Story By: Adam Glass & Aiden Glass
Written By: Adam Glass
Art By: Deigo Yapur
Colors By: DC Alonso
Letters By: Sal Cipriano
Cover A By: Robert Hack
Price: $3.99

Nick Motley learns more about the Lollipop Kids, their mission and his role in the legacy. But all he wants to do is find his sister. Adam Glass continues establishing a vast world here with relatable characters in surreal surroundings. Central Park becomes grander than the historic and magnificent park it is, it becomes a mythological character in its own right. The Lollipop Kids feel like real kids thrust into this world, as Nick assumes the role of the reader, the new person witnessing everything for the first time. Yapur really captures both the scale of the real world with the mystique of this world of wonder and dangers walking amongst it. The color palette sets the atmosphere and connects the whole thing in a fantastic second issue that left me wanting the third now.  ~ Jay @ComicBookTheate 

Verdict: 4 ¾ Stars

ARCHIE #700
Written By: Nick Spencer
Art By: Marguerite Sauvage
Colors By: Marguerite Sauvage
Letters By: Jack Morelli
Price: $3.99

A new era of Archie has begun as the comics start to embrace Riverdale’s style of storytelling. There are a lot of plot points that remind me of the Riverdale pilot in particular: Archie having a secret girlfriend, a summer filled with secrets, and Jughead as the outsider narrating the events. I wouldn’t call the comic full on Riverdale because the story isn’t as dark, but I didn’t like that there was drama just for drama’s sake. Mark Waid created a new standard for Archie as he injected just the right amount of drama that challenged our characters’ relationships to the core. Waid’s storytelling felt like a drama, while Spencer’s tone is soapier. Marguerite Sauvage has some great pencils for this book as she brings the same modern flair from the last volume, but her colors were a bit too bright. I am very torn on Archie #700 as I enjoyed some of the characters moments, but conflicted on what it means for the direction of this series.

P.S. Betty and Veronica deserve so much better than Archie. ~ Kat @ComicUno 

Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

SMOOTH CRIMINALS #1
Written By: Kurt Lustgarten & Kristen “Kiwi” Smith
Art By: Leisha Riddel
Colors By: Brittany Peer
Letters By: Ed Dukeshire
Cover By: Audrey Mok, Chynna Clugston Flores
Price: $3.99

Smooth Criminals is a hilarious new series that puts together the unlikely pair of a jewel thief from the ’60s and a geeky loner, hacker to create a dynamic duo that you never knew you needed until now. Kurt Lustgarten & Kristen “Kiwi” Smith does a great job at showcasing the personalities of these two characters with the limited page count of a first issue. I love the character designs Leisha Riddel develops for our main leads. It shows the perfect contrast between these two characters. Brittany Peer brings a nice, bright color palette that delivers the perfect amount of energy to the book. Smooth Criminals #1 is a great character piece with a fun dash of government mystery that will leave readers wanting more. ~ Kat @ComicUno 

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

LIGHTSTEP #1
Written By: Miloš Slavkovic҆, Mirko Topalski
Art By: Miloš Slavkovic҆
Letters By: Andrej Bunjac
Cover By: Miloš Slavkovic҆, Dave Stewart
Price: $3.99

Lightstep is an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic, dystopian sci-fi future subgenre. You learn that there is a sect of people that believe themselves to be the purest of humanity left in the universe because of their bloodline. A very British Royal type of mentality, but in this case lends itself more to a cult than a monarchy.

In this issue, we learn the history behind the bloodline and are introduced to our main character, January Lee (or Synitah) a young lady who is supposed to go through some ritual that includes a reenactment of the Primogenitor and his siblings, in order for her family to ascend. From the start, though, we realize January is the rebellious type, not sure how much she believes in what she’s been taught her entire life. And that’s when we see it all fall apart.

The premise is solid and intriguing, but the delivery was a bit lacking. Instead of naturally getting to know these characters, we were given a large info dump through her narration. At times, it was a chore to slog through the recap of the history of mankind’s coming to this point in time. At other times, the information was very interesting, learning that each planet was propelled at different speeds so that the main bloodline were living the equivalent of a day compared to lower planet’s entire life cycle for a human being. And I have to commend the writers for Using a dream state to give us this information, but it was still a bit clunky.

The art was very well done, with unique and creative designs both of the characters and the various worlds and devices. The colors gave it a nice futuristic wash with pastels and diminished inks to give it a softer, cleaner look.

Overall, I thought this issue was a solid effort, but fell short in the delivery, sadly downgrading the experience. I’m not sure the issue did the job of engaging the reader enough to hook or to come back for more, but much praise for the concept. ~ Brant @BrantFowler

Verdict: 3 Stars

BATMAN #59
Written By: Tom King
Art By: Mikel Janin
Colors By: Jordie Bellaire
Letters By: Clayton Cowles
Cover By: Mikel Janin
Variant Cover By: Francesco Mattina
Price: $3.99

This issue adds more to Tom King’s longer Batman story. Penguin gives Batman all the information about Bane’s work out of Arkham Asylum. This leads to the Caped Crusader confronting Bane and damaging his alliance with Jim Gordon in the process. Tom King adds great depth to the issue’s three main characters. In terms of dialogue, King adds some extra arrogance to Batman’s voice. This adds to the popular perception of Batman being invincible with a matching ego. Also, this issue contains an interesting Penguin story. As someone who doesn’t think highly of the Penguin, this issue gave the character a great emotional arc. With his wife dead, Penguin rats out Bane to Batman not for justice but for revenge and a death wish. Plus when Batman confronts Bane, Bane does not fight back and acts like he’s psychologically damaged. Despite Batman’s blows, Bane remains committed to his plan. This shows there’s more to Bane than just his size (which is what people outside of comics focus on). Overall, Tom King is playing the long-game on Batman so if you like bigger stories then this is the story to read. ~ Louis @SpiderMan1991

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

INJUSTICE 2 ANNUAL #2
Written By: Tom Taylor
Art By: Bruno Redondo
Colors By: Rex Lokus
Letters By: Wes Abbott
Price: $4.99

The conclusion of Injustice 2 was perfection, from Tom Taylor’s memorable character work to Bruno Redondo’s flawless pencils. This issue truly moved me! Taylor shows why Batman and Superman has one of the most powerful friendships in comics, which makes the events of Injustice that more devastating. ~ Kat @ComicUno 

Verdict: 5 Stars

SIDEWAYS #10
Written By: Dan Didio
Art By: Kenneth Rocafort
Colors By: Daniel Brown
Letters By: Dave Sharpe
Cover By: Kenneth Rocafort
Price: $2.99

After sharing panel time with the likes of Zatanna and Superman, Sideways returns to his not so normal life at home. Derek is still dealing with the ramifications of his mother’s death as his best friend Ernie also has some family drama to tackle. I was happy to see the series back to its status quo. The title is at its best when focusing on Derek and Ernie’s friendship. Although, I wasn’t fond to the hint of a romantic connection between the two. I like that they were a boy and a girl who could just be friends. I also thought the callbacks to Superman throughout the issue became repetitive. Kenneth Rocafort returns to the series on artwork, which helps bring the story back to its main focus, but, surprisingly, I did like the guest artist more. Rocafort’s pencils don’t feel completely rendered, bringing a blurry quality to the book. Sideways #10 is an improvement from the last arc but still doesn’t produce the same magic the series once had. ~ Kat @ComicUno 

Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

TEEN TITANS #22
“And They All Fell Down”
Written By: Adam Glass
Art By: Bernard Chang
Colors By: Marcelo  Maiolo
Letters By: Rob Leigh
Cover By: Benard Chang & Wil Quintana
Variant Cover By: Alex Garner
Price: $3.99

The Teen Titans are pinned under a building that Crush struggles to hold and they have to figure a way out before she collapses. Adam Glass genuinely knows how to write teens. He doesn’t try making them “sound young” by interjecting a bunch of slang, or any of the other cliches. Instead, Glass captures these young characters and writes them as actual teens who just so happen to be superpowered. This issue like the previous ones also showcases the chemistry between the cast and a little peek into their heads. While this issue is low on action it is high on character building and group dynamics that really pulls you into the story. The art by Chang and Maiolo remain dynamic and vibrant lending to that youthful energy the book needs. ~ Jay @ComicBookTheate

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

BETTIE PAGE #1
Written By: David Abalone
Art By: Julius Ohta
Colors By: Ellie Wright
Letters By: Taylor Esposito
Cover By: John Royle & Mohan
Price: $3.99

The first volume of Bettie Page was a surprise hit for me, and I was ecstatic to see Dynamite was publishing a second volume with the pin-up model. As happy I am to see Bettie’s story continue, this would have been a better story arc than start for a new series. It’s not very new reader friendly, and for old fans, there wasn’t a big WOW moment to warrant a whole new series for the character. Julius Ohta on pencils is a great fit for the title. Bettie from dialogue to pencils is really expressive, and her wit is what makes this a must buy series for me. ~ Kat @ComicUno 

Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

GO-BOTS #1
Story, Art & Cover By: Tom Scioli
Price: $3.99

I’m a child of the ‘80s. I grew up on Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man, M.A.S.K., and yes, Go-Bots, just, as I’m sure, Tom Scioli did. So I have a history with these characters and their world, just like Scioli.

When I look back on these properties, though, I see great memories, great characters, great stories… but I also understand the limitations technology and the general culture succumbed to. And so when I see these beloved characters and their rich worlds thrust into the 21st Century, given polish and shine, and, when handled correctly, added depth, it makes me happy. I don’t expect them to be exactly as they were back then. Why limit them even further? Why hamper that creativity and what we are able to do today?

Sadly, I feel like Scioli does just that. His idea of honoring these properties is to keep them as they were. Present them in the same way that we were accustomed to in the ‘80s. And let’s face it, Go-Bots was a cheap knock-off of Transformers, with inferior characters, stories, animation, and action figure designs, at least in my humble opinion.

While I do sincerely appreciate what Scioli was trying to do here with Go-Bots, making them a little edgier, but with a classic feel, I think it fell short on many levels. Story-wise, the plot was thin at best, and the characters were very one dimensional. And considering we’re dealing with giant transforming robots, that’s an issue.

The art was very rough, amateurish in parts, the coloring muddy and garish at times, and figures contorted in ways, not at all possible. The lettering was classic to be sure, but the words had so much breathing room I wondered if it was to cover up the lack of background detail in the panels.

I understand some prefer Golden Age comics to today’s visuals and style of storytelling. I’m not one of them. I prefer my comics with beautiful art, great storytelling, rich and deep characters, and a level of overall quality I just feel is not present here.

This was a missed opportunity to take a belittled franchise and do something special with it for a new generation. Instead, we got fan service to those that prefer the classics. This is the most disappointed in a comic I’ve been in quite some time. ~ Brant @BrantFowler

Verdict: ½ Star

PROJECT SUPERPOWERS CHA{TER THREE #4
Written By: Rob Williams
Art By: Sergio Davila
Colors By: Ulises Arreola
Letters By: Simon Bowlan
Cover By: Francesco Mattina
Variants By: Ed Benes & Dinei Ribeiro, John Royle & Juan Fernandez, Philip Tan & Elmer Santos, Stephen Segovia & Elmer Santos, and Sergio Davila & Felideus
Price: $3.99

The Devil attacks Imani in the hospital while the Scarab meets and discovers a connection with P:Andora. The action continues hurling you through walls in this issue, and I love it. This book delivers excitement non-stop, action and plot twist that never allows you to feel safe. You feel like you remain a part of the story and leave you waiting in anticipation for the following issue. The art here remains timeless and captures your attention with the bold color palette that enhances the lines and inks. ~ Jay @ComicBookTheate

Verdict: 4 ½ Stars

MIDDLEWEST #1
Written By: Skottie Young
Art By: Jorge Corona
Colors By: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letters By: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover By: Mike Huddleston
Variant Covers By: Jorge Corona, Skottie Young
Price: $3.99

Skottie Young is proving that his storytelling has many layers with his recent offerings, but also common themes. As he stated in the back of the issue, he’s a fan of “kid on a journey” type stories, and that is evident with Middlewest, as well as Bully Wars and I Hate Fairyland. So each of them shares that common thread.

Another thread they share is some personal trauma for these kids close to home. With Gert from I Hate Fairyland, she got her wish that turned into her nightmare. With Bully Wars, it focuses on a kid being bullied and helping his bully beat some other bullies. And in Middlewest, it deals with a boy and his father.

This is where Middlewest stands out as the parallels between the fantasy and reality of the series are telling a greater story: One of neglect, abuse, and self-discovery.

Abel is a boy whose mother left him and his father, and his father blames him for it. He only finds fault with Abel and deals out harsh punishments for it. We see the range from yelling to the silent treatment, to psychological abuse and physical abuse.

It’s interesting how the story opens on a wind monster, and then we see that transformation later on. It makes one wonder if this is fantasy or a child’s mind trying to make sense of the world around him. It’s a very interesting way to address these issues, masked in an offbeat fantasy tale that sees a boy train hopping across the Middlewest, meeting extraordinary if unassuming individuals.

And let me just add that Jorge Corona’s art is equally fantastic in this series. His style is fluid and loose giving a realistic feel to the environment and a stylized excitement to the figures. His characters all look completely different with different body types, facial shapes, and hairstyles, personalities, and mannerisms, even the fox. There is movement in his style that is befitting of the windy Middlewest that becomes a character in and of itself in the book.

If the book itself wasn’t enough, the back matter is chock full of sketches and designs, information and a great write-up by Young.

This is one of the most promising indie titles I’ve seen in a while that appeals to one’s love of fantasy, adventure, and enjoyment of coming of age stories that deal with real issues in a fun way. ~ Brant @BrantFowler

Verdict: 5 Stars

ASTONISHING X-MEN #17
Written By: Matthew Rosenberg
Art By: Greg Land
Colors By: Frank D’Armato
Letters By: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover By: Greg Land, Jay Letson, and Frank D’Armato
Price: $3.99

With this issue, Astonishing X-Men comes to an end but Havok’s team goes out with a bang. Matthew Rosenberg does an impressive job writing this team of mutants. Rosenberg’s dialogue gives each character their own unique voice which is an essential part for team books. The issue gives Havok a great conclusion to his character arc. In the final scene, Havok decides to turn himself over to O.N.E. so his team will be left alone. There’s a great monologue for Alex Summers when he accepts his role of a scapegoat rather than the hero. Ever the optimist, Alex figures his actions can help the other X-Men be real heroes. Plus we get a great explanation about why Havok’s been making more jokes and it’s an interesting revelation about his feelings regarding his older brother, Scott (a.k.a. Cyclops). Another awesome star in this issue was Dazzler. Rosenberg writes her as an intelligent and underestimated hero. Plus there’s a great scene where Dazzler takes out all of the Reaver Sentinels after charging her powers (terrific art by Greg Land and Frank D’Armato). Even though this team was short-lived, it’s an entertaining and memorable X-Men story (especially for Havok and Dazzler fans). ~ Louis @SpiderMan1991

Verdict: 4 Stars

MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2
Story By: Matthew Rosenberg & Donny Cates
Script By: Matthew Rosenberg
Art By: Niko Henrichon
Letters By: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover By: Geoff Shaw & Rain Beredo
Variant Covers By: Jae Lee & June Chung; Kaare Andrews; Dave Johnson
Price: $3.99

The last issue surprised me, and this issue continued to engage me. When I went into the series, I didn’t know what to expect, yet my expectations were low for whatever reason. Thankfully, that first issue hooked me enough to want to come back for more, and I’m glad I did.

This issue picks up with Frank Castle’s mission to find the people on Banner’s list. Next up, Elektra. But first, we learned a bit more about Castle’s waking up moment and first interaction with Banner.

I really enjoyed the fact that this wasn’t just a Daredevil book with other Marvel Knights characters in it. Daredevil took a backseat this issue to focus on the other characters, and that, in my mind, paid respect to the entire line and not just its most popular character.

It was clear that Elektra, while not awake, knew something was off, but Castle was at a disadvantage, and I liked that. He’s not fully awake either, which just continues to build this wonderful mystery as to what happened to these characters and who is behind not only them forgetting, but the world forgetting them!

And then there was the cliffhanger!

My only complaint would be the consistency in art. I understand different characters might warrant different styles, and maybe that will bleed into future releases. But for me, I was taken out of it just a bit because the art was different enough to make me take notice.

I was never a huge Marvel Knights reader, but this series, so far, has made me want to be, and that’s really all you can ask. These are characters we know very well, handled in a familiar, but unique manner here. They all seem to be connected as well, which is key to a good mystery.

Personally, I can’t wait to read the next issue and follow along as this story unfolds. ~ Brant @BrantFowler

Verdict: 4 Stars

SPIDER-FORCE #1
“The Uncanny Spider-Force: Scream”
Written By: Priest
Pencils By: Paulo Siqueira, Marcelo Ferreira & Szymon Kudranski
Inks By: Oren Junior, Roberto Poggi, & Szymon Kudranski
Colors By: Guru e-FX
Letters By: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover By: Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki & Morry Hollowell
Price: $3.99

The Spider-Force meets the Astro-Spider a native of the world and one of its few survivors. The team has no real time to settle when Astro-Spider receives an alert that Verna has attacked the station. Priest does a tremendous job of informing us about all these new characters in short psychic flashbacks. These scenes really give the reader something to chew on while leaving them wanting more. All the emotional beats for Spider-Kid and Barton really hit the right chords. The art here blends into a pleasant look that easily transitions from one artist to the next with such subtly you can hardly notice it.. ~ Jay @ComicBookTheate

Verdict: 4 ¾ Stars

WEB OF VENOM: CARNAGE BORN #1
Written By: Donny Cates 
Art By: Danilo S. Beyruth
Colors By: Cris Peter
Letters By: VC’s Clayton Cowles Cover
Cover By: Kyle Hotz & Jose Villarrubia
Variant Cover By: Ian Bederman
Price: $4.99

Cletus Kasady is resurrected and paired with the DNA Codex of Knull, the Symbiote God. This book was just a bunch of here is Cletus Casady. We are force fed an origin, and a recap of everything that has happened to him in the guise of a new story which takes up half of the book and Marvel has the audacity to charge $4.99 for this. The story itself is forced to justify the Symbiote God story I could not stand in Cate’s Venom title, and this should have been an issue of his series instead of a book with this hefty price. The art here was the highlight for me, it told the story of Carnage in a bold style that delivered the right level of creepy that should come with Kasady. ~ Jay @ComicBookTheate

Verdict: 3 Stars


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