Comic Review – Aquaman #34

Corum Rath had long been a thorn in the side of The Aquaman, Arthur Curry. As leader of The Deluge – a xenophobic terrorist group which resisted Aquaman’s efforts, as King of Atlantis, to establish peaceful relations with the surface world – Rath led an attack on the American city of Boston. He was imprisoned until certain traditionalist elements with the Atlantean Council of Elders grew equally tired of the king’s progressive attitudes and decided to appoint Rath as the new King of Atlantis.

Rath’s first act as King was to seal off Atlantis from the outside world, using an ancient magical artifact known as The Crown of Thorns. He ordered the ancient houses of Atlantis to turn over their own hereditary magical objects and launched a campaign of terror against the so-called “taint-bloods” – those Atlanteans changed by the influence of the ocean, growing to resemble the animals of the deeps.

Despite his orders that the Aquaman be executed before he could leave Atlantis, Arthur Curry has survived and joined with the resistance to Rath’s reign. Now, as the councilors who placed him on the throne begin to question their wisdom in doing so and if Rath might still be an exploitable figurehead while they secure their own positions, Rath ponders his own past and takes steps to secure the future of his reign. 

Given the time it takes for a comic script to become a comic book and how far in advance books are prepared for publication, it seems unlikely that Dan Abnett meant for Aquaman to be the political parable it seems to have become. Certainly history is full of mad kings and despots like Corum Rath, who were driven to extreme measures by paranoia. Still, with a villainous ruler obsessed with destroying the legacy of his predecessor while promising to restore a nation to greatness, it’s hard not to see some obvious parallels to real world events in Aquaman #34.

Thankfully, whatever subtext may be gleaned from this, Abnett’s text is primarily concerned with exploring the background of Corum Rath and tying his background in to another villain – the street mage Kadaver – whom Abnett introduced in previous issues. The character study here is fascinating and while this issue is light on action until the very end, the issue’s cliffhanger conclusion promises big things in the future.

The artwork by Kelley Jones confused me at first. Jones is best known for his work on various horror titles and I found his style an odd fit for Aquaman at first. The first few pages of the issue are a little rough, but the reason for Jones’ inclusion on this series becomes apparent  by the issue’s end. Suffice it to say that fans of H.P. Lovecraft and weird horror will want to check this issue out for Jones’ art alone.

For what my money is worth, Aquaman is one of the most underrated treasures of the DC Rebirth initiative. Aquaman #34, in turn, is a great introductory issue for those looking to dive in to this series.


Aquaman #34 releases March 21, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.


Comic Review – Detective Comics #976

Detective Comics 976 Cover

Tim Drake (a.k.a. Red Robin) had a plan.

Years earlier, he had taken up the mantle of Batman’s sidekick, realizing that Batman functioned best when he had a partner. Tim also realized that Bruce Wayne – much as he might deny it – was mortal and would not be able to be Batman forever. Tim devised a plan – to take all of the many vigilantes operating in Gotham City, and unite them officially as one group, training together and working to watch one another’s backs. This would establish a chain of heroes who could continue Batman’s legacy, generation after generation.

Dubbing this group The Gotham Knights, Tim pitched the idea to Batman, who approved it. He then placed the assembled team – consisting of Red Robin, Stephanie Brown (a.k.a. The Spoiler), Cassandra Cain (a.k.a. The Orphan) and a reformed Basil Karlo (a.k.a. Clayface) – under the control of Kate Kane (a.k.a. Batwoman).

Now, Clayface is dead by Batwoman’s hand and she has left The Gotham Knights to join with The Colony – a militaristic vigilante group established by her father, who aim to protect Gotham City with lethal force. Stephanie Brown has hung up her cowl and broken off her relationship with Tim. And Cassandra – who was never all that stable to begin with – is in an even worse state following the death of Clayface, who was her closest friend.

Tim thinks he knows how he can fix The Gotham Knights but Batman is refusing to give him that chance, retreating into himself as he always does when he loses someone close to him. And as Tim Drake is approached about a new partnership by a most unlikely ally, The Colony moves to recruit more of Batman’s disillusioned trainees.

Detective Comics seems to be the least appreciated of DC Comics’ many Batman comics at present. It lacks the flash of Tom King’s Batman, which has redefined the Batman and Catwoman relationship and has now inspired a wedding between the two. It lacks the weight of Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal, which has built upon seven years of Batman comics by one of the longest partnerships in American comics. This is unfortunate, because James Tynion IV has done the impossible with little fanfare, restoring many beloved Gotham City vigilantes who were long neglected during The New 52 era to new prominence and introducing them to a new generation of readers.

Sadly, Detective Comics #976 – the first chapter of the Batman Eternal arc – is not the best issue of this series to start with. While all of the new arc openings on this series to date have been good entry points for new readers, the mythology James Tynion IV has established has finally become too involved to be easily summarized and absorbed. While a new reader could pick up this issue, it would lack the punch that is felt by those who are, much like Cassandra, still coping with the loss of Clayface. There’s also a distinct lack of explanation regarding who certain characters are and why they are significant to the story.

A larger problem is the artwork by guest artist Javier Fernandez, which is incredibly inconsistent. Fernandez’ style is largely sketchy and thinly outlined, save for the occasional panel that is drowned in black ink with shading that almost seems to be randomly applied. This leaves the book with an odd look that is further distinguished by the muted colors chosen by John Kalisz. Those who have been reading Detective Comics since the start of DC Rebirth won’t have much trouble muddling through the artwork for the sake of the story, but new readers would do better to start with Vol. 1: Rise Of The Batmen and work their way up to this issue.


Detective Comics #976 releases March 14, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.


Comic Review – Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1

Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1 Cover

Doctor James Robinson had always been a dreamer who looked to the stars for inspiration. An astronomer by inclination and a physicist by training, his theories regarding a cosmic energy called para-radiation got the attention of an American government that needed an edge in the atomic arms race and they thought Robinson’s theory of a para-zone that could be tapped for infinite energy was an avenue well worth exploring. With their financial backing, Dr. Robinson was able to prove his theories correct and soon had the money he needed to move his wife and son out of their crumbling tenement apartment and into a proper home… but it wasn’t enough.

This being an age of heroes and with a war going on, James Robinson did what any patriotic red-blooded American man would do – throw on a costume and get ready to start punching Nazis. He found further fame and thrills as the mystery-man Doctor Star… but he would go on to lose far more than he gained.

I suspect it is impossible for me to give Doctor Star & The World of Lost Tomorrows #1 a fair and unbiased review. While this mini-series is a spin-off of Jeff Lemire’s acclaimed Black Hammer series, which pays tribute to the superheroes of The Golden Age of Comics (i.e the late 1930s to mid 1950s), it is also a tribute to a very special and specific comic series – the 1994-2001 Starman series by DC Comics. This series happens to be a personal favorite of mine and the source of my nickname, for those who care to know.

For those who haven’t been exposed to it, let me sum up – Starman came about because writer James Robinson (note that name!) had an idea for establishing a common mythology between all of the previously unconnected superheroes that DC Comics had created that used the codename Starman. This included a scientist from the 1940s, an alien warrior from the 1970s and a cosmic prince from a one-off story tied into Crisis On Infinite Earths.  At a time when the comic industry in general was abandoning its tights-and-capes history in favor of superheroes with big muscles, bigger guns and tiny feet, Starman embraced its lineage. It subverted the values of The Dark Age, presenting a sneering, tattooed hipster hero in the form of Jack Knight – son of the first Starman, scientist Ted Knight – while deconstructing and ultimately reassembling the classic values of traditional comics as Jack went from a reluctant hero to an honestly good person.

Thankfully, while the tribute to Robinson’s work is clear enough (even ignoring the main character’s name), Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1 stands just as well as a story on its own terms. Lemire’s script does a fantastic job of establishing the character of Dr. James Robinson and the setting for the benefit of those who haven’t read Black Hammer. The artwork by Max Fiumara (with colors by Dave Stewart) proves a perfect partner to Lemire’s writing, capturing the pulp-fiction aesthetic of the tale. If you enjoy tales of weird science or retro-superheroes as much as I do, this series is a must read!


Doctor Star & The Kingdom Of Lost Tomorrows #1 releases March 7, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – The Terrifics #1

The Terrifics #1 Cover

The Terrifics owes its existence to Marvel Studios trying to spite 20th Century Fox. Shocking but true! In all the feuding over film-rights over the past few years, Marvel Comics stopped publishing a monthly Fantastic Four comic book series so as to deny Fox any free publicity at their expense. Given how utterly un-Fantastic the 2015 Fantastic Four movie turned out to be, they shouldn’t have bothered. Still, the last few years saw Johnny Storm mostly hanging out with The Inhumans and the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing joining The Guardians of the Galaxy.

This apparently led to writer Jeff Lemire asking “Why, apart from the threat of lawsuits, don’t we create a team for DC Comics that will tell the same sorts of weird stories involving fantastic powers and scientists exploring the unknown that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby used to tell in Fantastic Four?”

Enter… The Terrifics!

The parallels between the two groups are immediately obvious. Leading the team we have Michael “Mister Terrific” Holt – a gold medal athlete and doctor of many disciplines in the Mister Fantastic role. Rex “Metamorpho” Mason is our stand-in for The Thing – a salt-of-the-earth adventurer transformed into a hideous monster. Patrick “Eel” O’Brien aka Plastic Man is our Human Torch analog – a wise-cracking smart-alec more concerned with the fun aspects of being a superhero than the serious side of things. And Phantom Girl who is… well, a girl that can walk through things and become kinda see-through.

It’s not a perfect analogy but it is an interesting one. It should be noted though, for the benefit of those Legion of Super Hero fans awaiting the group’s return to DC Comics, that the Phantom Girl pictured here is not the heroine from the classic team, but her ancestor. She’s also the least-developed character in this first issue – a preview of which you can view below.

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Though spinning out of Dark Nights Metal and making references to events in books that we haven’t seen yet, The Terrifics does a fair job of introducing its protagonists and exploring their powers. It’s somewhat less skilled, however, in how it handles its supporting cast and more care could have been taken in introducing Metamorpho’s corrupt boss Simon Stagg, Stagg’s right-hand caveman Java and Metamorpho’s girlfriend, Sapphire, for the benefit of new readers. The action flows somewhat more smoothly after the semi-awkward opening, once Mister Terrific, Metamorpho and Plastic Man begin searching for the source of a mysterious distress call from within The Dark Multiverse.

The artwork is similarly mixed in terms of its results. Ivan Reis is a fantastic penciler, whose past work on Green Lantern, Aquaman and Action Comics has been rightly praised. Reis varies his usual style up a bit in this first issue, with many panels that evoke the spirit of Jack Kirby even before the trio of heroes discover the corpse of a giant god in an ornate helmet in deep space. Unfortunately, the inks by Joe Prado do more to obscure the pencils in some panels than they enhance them and many of the lighting effects introduced by colorist Marcelo Maiolo leave the final artwork looking washed out.

It’s hard to judge The Terrifics one way or the other by this first issue. While not the slam dunk DC Comics had hoped for, there is not enough wrong with it to merit it being completely written off either. Fans of pulp adventure and classic superheroes will find it enjoyable enough, but there’s little so far to suggest the sense of wacky fun the premise suggests. Still, it serves as a tribute to the classic weird science superheroes of The Silver Age.


The Terrifics #1 releases February 28, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Strange: Damnation #1

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 Cover

Forced to surrender his title as Sorcerer Supreme to the Norse god Loki, Stephen Strange went off in search of power that would allow him to fight a wizard and a deity. He found all the power he wanted and more. So much more…

Stephen Strange is now the god of magic. Or at least so rich in magical power he might as well be a god compared to what he once was. And what good is power if you cannot use it to do great deeds in the name of good?

This line of thought leads Stephen to attempt something that would have been beyond his former limits – both the limits of his power and the limits imposed upon The Sorcerer Supreme. Having learned of the recent destruction of Las Vegas, Stephen uses his power to restore the city to what it once was.

At first all seems well…until a great tower emerges in the middle of the Vegas Strip, with a sign declaring it the Hotel Inferno. It seems that when the city was destroyed, its spiritual essence fell into Hell, where the demons were quick to mark their claim on the new territory. Now Las Vegas is a literal Sin City, and Boss Mephisto holds all the cards. It is an error that Doctor Strange must correct, though it may cost him his soul to do it!

I’m a bit torn on Doctor Strange: Damnation. On the one hand, the concept of this series makes no sense considering everything I know of Doctor Strange as a character from other stories and series. Granting that he is apparently riding some kind of power trip, it doesn’t seem all that credible that Stephen Strange would try to resurrect an entire city without considering the consequences of doing so and the cosmic balance and all that jazz.

Once we work past that conceit, however, the story concept proves amusing enough to carry the momentum of the plot forward despite how out of character the characters seem. Mephisto proves an amusing foil to the stoic Strange and there’s a lot of dark comedy as we see the city responding to various people falling prey to their darker selves as the influence of Hell begins to work its magic on them.

The artwork suits the story, presenting an aesthetic that seems better suited to an off-beat Vertigo or Image title than a Marvel Comics series. There is an inherent inhumanity to the demon characters, no matter how human they might look, with elongated bodies or slightly-off eyes that are all the more disturbing for how familiar they look rather than how inhuman they are. The book also features a fantastic use of color, with warm tints in the Hotel Inferno sequences being used to punctuate the presence of Hell’s power.

While it’s unlikely to win many awards, Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 is a serviceable Doctor Strange story which – based on its ending – may soon become a serviceable story for many more of Marvel Comics mystically-inclined heroes. Can you say New Defenders?


Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 releases February 21, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Deathbed #1

Deathbed #1 Cover

When I first saw the cover of Deathbed #1, I was thrilled. Joshua Williamson is one of my favorite writers right now, and if you haven’t been reading his run on The Flash, you should be. Riley Rossmo, likewise, is an artist whose work I’ve always found enjoyable, particularly on the highly-underrated Constantine, The Hellblazer.

That thrill quickly gave rise to dread as I opened the book and we were given our first look at the book’s protagonist, Valentine Richards. I have a general rule of thumb about how any comic book which features an image of a woman sitting on the toilet in its first issue should probably be put down immediately. This sort of thing seems to be a trope in every independent comic for mature readers that is determined to prove how dangerous and edgy it is going to be. I don’t know why, but this image seems to come up with frightening regularity and only the reputation of the creators kept me going.

Thankfully, Deathbed quickly moves past this image and on to better things. It also, it should be noted, has nothing to do with the infamously cheesy 1977 horror movie about a bed that eats people.

Our focus lies on Valentine Richards – an aspiring novelist turned reporter turned biography ghost-writer, who is sick of telling other people’s stories instead of her own. Unfortunately, with her contract at her current reporting gig up, she’s forced to take a job writing the memoirs of Antonio Luna – a famous adventurer who she’s assured is like Doc Savage, James Bond and Teddy Roosevelt rolled into one. Yet somehow, she’s never heard of him.

Deathbed #1 Gallery Scene

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Valentine arrives at Luna’s mansion on a dark and stormy night. Taken to the master bedroom, Valentine finds the 90 year old Luna at death’s door and apparently ready to tell the unlikely story of his life. However, Luna has another purpose in seeking out a writer to tell his tale – one that seems likely to give Valentine a story of her own to tell!

This first issue is largely concerned with setting up the series, so there’s not much in the way of action. This is surprising, given Joshua Williamson’s usual scripts are packed full of improbable action sequences but it is early yet. As far as laying the ground-work goes, this issue does a fantastic job of showing us everything we need to know about our characters without telling as much. This is because Williamson is one of an increasingly rare few writers who seem to trust their artist to be as much of a storyteller as them.

Case in point. There is a rather gorgeous two-page spread of Valentine walking past several portraits of Antonio Luna from his glory days. This tells us far more about who Antonio Luna is than any piece of expository dialogue ever could. Likewise, we learn far more about Valentine by the questions she asks and the internal monologue about the deeper meaning behind each question than we do by her conversation with her editor.

Bottom Line: If this first issue is any indication, Deathbed will be one heck of a read.


Deathbed #1 releases February 21, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #12

Doctor Who Twelfth Doctor Year Three #12 Cover

A lost and powerless cargo ship, trapped in a decaying orbit above a blazing sun. A crew slowly disappearing one by one. Numerous signs pointing to someone who shouldn’t be there living in the cargo bay.

Someone… or something?

It’s a typical mystery by The Doctor’s standards. The sort of thing he might knock-off as a warm-up before saving a planet or two. What makes this mystery unusual, however, is the wide number of potential suspects. The ship’s cargo includes 500 Heavenly Hosts – the angelic but easily corrupted service robots The Doctor once fought on the Starship Titanic. They aren’t the only angels on board, however, as the cargo bay is also hiding at least one Weeping Angel – the lonely assassins whose touch can send a target back in time!

As if things couldn’t get worse, The Doctor fell victim to the Weeping Angel and is now somewhere and somewhen else. Missy – the current female incarnation of The Doctor’s greatest enemy The Master – has stolen The TARDIS. And now Blon Fel-Fotch – a former enemy of The Doctor’s from Raxacoricofallapatorius – has arrived leading a platoon of the rhino-like mercenaries known as The Judoon. She claims to be working for The Shadow Proclamation now, but can she be trusted? And do Bill and Nardole really have a choice with at least one Weeping Angel still on the loose?

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Generally, I’ve enjoyed Titan Comics’ Doctor Who books and The Twelfth Doctor title in particular. Unfortunately, the quality took a recent nosedive in the wake of the current story arc, A Confusion of Angels. The first two parts of this storyline were plagued by artwork that seemed to be half-finished, with differing levels of detail and different thicknesses of inks used to depict characters in the same panel.

Artist Pasquale Qualano takes over with this issue, but proves to be equally lackluster in different ways. Most famous for his work on various titles in the Grimm Fairy Tales line, the only thing stopping Qualano from indulging in gratuitous cheesecake is the fact that there’s only one character (the ship’s engineer, who looks oddly like Zero Suit Samus) who has the proper proportions for such a thing and she’s barely in the issue. Mind you, that doesn’t stop Qualano from depicting Missy (of all people) in a suggestive pose!

This is small potatoes compared to Qualano’s other artistic failings. Panels are obviously and lazily recycled, with only a twitch of the lip distinguishing them. There are numerous perspective gaffes and oddly rendered panels where two scenes are separated by a close-up on a character’s face. There are dozens of just plain odd expressions that don’t match the action of the scene or the emotion indicated by the dialogue. Worst of all are the eyes, which seem to have been randomly drawn onto the characters without any sense of proportion to the rest of their faces!

This doesn’t do Richard Dinnick’s script any favors, but he’s far from delivering his best work either. The story here is far too busy, with too many threats to keep track of and the supporting characters largely having the personality of cardboard cut-outs even by the standards of the classic Doctor Who “base under siege” story. There’s too much peril in the plot to allow for time for establishing the cliche “trigger happy soldier” or “generic tough chick” personalities one would expect in this sort of story.

The only thing that makes this comic worth reading is the fact that Dinnick’s script has just enough clever ideas to make it worth muddling through the action sequences, despite the confusion generated by Qualano’s poor sense of blocking. Even then, only the most devout of Doctor Who fans who wanted to learn the fate of Blon Fel-Fotch after Boom Town will want to bother with this book.


Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #12 releases February 14, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – X-Men: Red #1

It would be fair to say that I’ve never been the biggest fan of X-Men comics in general. I like the basic concept enough – superpowers as a metaphor for whatever oppressed minority group one might wish to champion as trying to make the world a better place while being hated and feared by the same people they’re trying to help. Unfortunately, that most universal of comic book concepts has frequently been forgotten by writers who became lost in the minutia of continuity. This made the X-Men books one of the hardest series for a new reader to get into for the longest time.

Thankfully, X-Men: Red #1 is both everything an X-Men comic should be and nothing like what most X-Men comics have been for the better part of the last three decades. If you’ve never picked up an X-Men book before or haven’t seen any of the X-Men movies, you’ll be able to grasp what it is about immediately from the opening sequence, in which a team of mutant heroes move to save a child from a lynch mob.

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The rest of the issue focuses upon team leader – telepathic and telekinetic mutant Jean Grey – and her realization that she needs to do something more than just save lives and stop bank robberies in order to build a better world. What follows is a tremendous study of Jean’s character as well as a smooth explanation on the current status of mutants in the Marvel Universe.

Writer Tom Taylor manages this exposition with surprising efficiency. Many comic writers go into full-on professor lecture-mode when attempting to develop their world. Taylor avoids this with a generous amount of humor sprinkled among his factoids, tricking the reader into learning even as they are laughing. This is par for the course for Taylor, whose work on All-New Wolverine has turned that series into one of Marvel Comics’ most underrated treasures. And yes – he’s the one responsible for creating a tween girl clone of Wolverine called The Honey Badger. If that doesn’t make you smile a little bit, you might want to skip this book, though there is plenty of high drama and action to go along with the comedy.

Artist Mahmud Asra does a fantastic job capturing the essence of Taylor’s scripts. The action sequences are well-blocked and the characters all have distinctive designs with practical costumes – no improbable high-heels for the ladies on this team! There are a few minor glitches here and there – a scene where the perspective seems somewhat off or a panel where a character’s stress lines are so thick they look more like wrinkles. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between and the colors by Ive Svorcina are nice and vivid.

Bottom Line; If you’ve been avoiding X-Men for fear of it being too much work to get into, X-Men: Red #1 is your perfect entry point into one of Marvel Comics’ most epic legacies.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13

Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year 3 #13 Cover

In the wake of the disappearance of The Time Lords, The Time Sentinels have set themselves up as the ultimate guardians of the space-time continuum. Under the guidance of the being they call The Lock Keeper, The Time Sentinels maintain a watchful eye upon the universe, ensuring that continuity and causality remains continuous.

One thing The Time Sentinels do not approve of is heroes getting in the way of their best laid plans and saving the worlds that good order dictates be vaporized into nothingness. As such, they are not fans of The Doctor, Last of The Time Lords, who would list “planet saver” in the Occupation blank of a job application if he were ever inclined to fill one out.

To that end, The Time Sentinels have kidnapped one of The Doctor’s current companions, artist Gabby Gonzales, as a means of luring him into a trap. When that, and setting up disaster after disaster as a means of getting The Doctor’s attention fail to work, The Time Sentinels arrange the boldest gambit yet – releasing The Circle of Transcendence  – an artifact of great power that The Doctor cannot possibly ignore!

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The only real flaw to Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor series is the same thing that makes it so enjoyable – an involved and involving storyline. In the three years since Titan Comics has taken over the Doctor Who license, writer Nick Abadis has crafted a unique mythology as rich as any to be found in the classic or current Doctor Who TV shows. This is both a blessing and a curse, because as thrilling as the on-going saga is to those who have been reading the series since the first issue, this series is completely impenetrable to the casual reader. Even the inclusion of a summary of the current storyline and profiles of The Doctor and his current companions on the title page does little to help new readers out.

This is a shame, because Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13 looks as amazing as it reads. Artist Giorgia Sposito and Colorist Arianna Florean have crafted one of the most amazing looking comic books, Doctor Who themed or otherwise, in recent memory. Sposito’s characters are all clearly drawn, with the largely female cast sporting a variety of body types and distinctive facial features. The aliens all possess interesting and unique designs. The action of the issue is paced well visually, with consistent angle-changes keeping even the scenes of characters just talking to one another from seeming static or boring. And the colors are all nice and eye-catching.

Technically there’s nothing to stop a Whovian who is curious about comics or a comic reader who wants to know what Doctor Who is all about from picking up this issue. It might be better, however, for them to start with the trade-paperback Revolutions of Terror – the first volume of The Tenth Doctor’s adventures. Another recent hardcover collection of The Tenth Doctor’s first year’s worth of adventures makes it easy for new readers to catch up on one of the best science-fiction comic books in recent years.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #13 goes on sale on January 31, 2018.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1

Raven Daughter of Darkness #1 Cover
Rachel Roth is like many teenage girls. She feels awkward around other teenagers, doesn’t think she fits in anywhere and is worried about finding acceptance. She’s also secretive and ashamed of her family.

Unlike most teenage girls, Rachel has very good reason to think that she’s different. There’s nobody else she’s met who was raised in another dimension. None of her few friends (well… acquaintances, really) had a mother who was part of a cult. None of their fathers are demons. And none of them are secretly superheroes.

This is because Rachel Roth is Raven. Born to serve the darkness, but possessed of a good soul that rejected the evil purpose that was her destiny, she is a powerful magician and part of the Teen Titans. She is also, unbeknownst to her, the fulcrum in a future apocalypse that must end in her death in order to maintain the balance between good and evil.  

The character of Raven has never been more popular and yet never been more unknown. This is something of an accomplishment given that the character was already a figure of great mystery when she was first introduced in Marv Wolfman’s and George Perez’s now legendary The New Teen Titans series.

The young half-demon was originally more of a deus ex machina than an actual character in her earliest appearances, existing only to magically pull the other Teen Titans to some crisis before disappearing, not explaining who she was or how she knew the rest of them. She was also sweet but restrained – a far cry from her fear more moody incarnation in the Teen Titans animated series and certainly nothing like her violent counterpart in Teen Titans Go!

Given that, Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1 will prove something of a revelation for fans of Raven, regardless of how they first came to know her. Given that Marv Wolfman has returned to write this mini-series, it’s no surprise that the version of Raven we see here is closest to her classic comics incarnation in terms of character. Rachel Roth differs from the original Raven, however, in that she is trying to develop a life outside of her superheroics and is struggling to learn more about ordinary humans and life on Earth after being raised entirely in the plane of Azaroth. This includes staying with her aunt and uncle in San Francisco and developing friendships with a group of local teenagers, who write off Rachel’s overly formal speech patterns as the result of her being home-schooled alone for way too long.

This proves a brilliant conceit on Wolfman’s part. Not only does this serve to develop Raven better as a character but it also makes her into a more sympathetic figure. While not every reader may have been as painfully awkward as Raven growing up, most will be to relate to her fears of opening up too much to others and her need for secrecy… even if her reasons for those feelings go beyond the usual teenage paranoia. There are also some wonderful little moments that emphasize Raven’s ability, as a person, to find the magic in ordinary things such as her reaction to seeing Christmas decorations for the first time.

Unfortunately, the artwork doesn’t quite match up to the script. Pop Mhan is usually a fantastic artist but the inks for this issue are horribly erratic. Most of the pages look fine, with the inks barely outlining Mhan’s original pencils, which suits his sketchy, detail-driven style. Unfortunately, many of the scenes set in darkness (such as the opening page) are heavily over-inked in such a way as to make it seem like black paint was spilled on the page and hastily wiped off. These moments are few and far between, thankfully, but they do throw off the visual rhythm of the reading experience.

Despite this, Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1 is a solid read. You don’t have to have any pervious experience with the character to enjoy this book. In fact, new readers who don’t have any expectations of what they’ll see, may get more out of it than those who think they know Raven from the cartoons or classic comics. Just come into this book with an open mind and you’ll enjoy getting to know Rachel Roth.


Raven: Daughter of Darkness #1 comes out January 24, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.