Every week, comic fandom is gifted with a slew of fantastic stories from a slew of fantastic creators. These days there’s just so much good stuff out there that it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re new to comics. Thus AiPT! presents to you, Fantastic Five! Fantastic Five is new weekly column where we pick five fantastic books released during the week, and tell you why you should take a chance on them via a snippet from our reviews.
Enjoy, and happy reading!
Death’s Head #1
Written by Tini Howard. Art by Kei Zama.
Before IDW’s acquisition of their licenses, Marvel was the main locale for most of Hasbro’s licenses for their toy properties, publishing comics for Transformers, Rom: Space Knight, and even Team America. These comics lasted for a while and Marvel eventually ended up creating new villains, which they were allowed to keep when the rights to the licenses reverted back to Hasbro. One of these new villains was Death’s Head, a robot assassin created for Marvel’s Transformers comics. Death’s Head has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence recently, as he appeared during Infinity Countdown in 2018, but that could not have prepared anyone for his solo series the following year. Tini Howard and Kei Zama do an excellent job bringing Death’s Head back into comics, and especially do a wonderful job connecting him with the rest of the Marvel Universe. (10/10)
– Vishal Gullapalli
Batman: Last Knight on Earth #2
Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Greg Capullo.
With his classic collaborators like Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia, and Tom Napolitano by his side, Snyder’s ideas shine brightly. Capullo is one of the most intense and recognizable artists at DC, and Glapion and Plascencia support him beautifully. Napolitano has some astounding accents and flourishes that prove why he’s one of the best in the business. Batman: Last Knight on Earth is a very unique way to tell a story in the world of comics. The chapter pages aren’t just used as divisions. They bridge ideas, connect different worlds, and show how important design elements can be to the overall image of a book. It’s a true collaboration, and every element of Batman: Last Knight on Earth matters. (10/10)
– Ari Bard
Ice Cream Man #13
Written by W. Maxwell Prince. Art by Martin Morazzo.
When it comes down to it, Ice Cream Man #13 is an issue that could only work in the context of a loosely connected series like this one. Every element is cleverly orchestrated to pull this off. Prince using clever wordplay and framing to construct palindromes within palindromes shows true lexical mastery in a unique undertaking such as this. Morazzo’s visuals are all staged around the center of both the issue and the page. It’s very different from how a normal issue might be laid out, and it probably led to thinking about visuals in a different way. Every page and every panel conveys a movement. Usually, that movement is in one direction, but in Ice Cream Man #13, every page and panel has to somehow move in two directions at the same time, and it’s difficult to pull off. O’Halloran’s colors contribute even further to the effect by starting off very bright and varied, but slowly moving towards a more monochrome palette with splashes of red. Good Old Neon’s letter placements and different colored word balloons further add to the creepy effects and have to be placed very particularly to keep up the image of symmetry. This is the kind of issue that will stick in your mind and never get old. It’s an issue you will read and reread because it’s so cool that it can be read forwards and backwards. You’ll show you’re friends, even if they don’t read comics, and say, “Hey, check this out!” It’s got an infectious appeal, and that’s not something you can say about a lot of comics. (10/10)
– Ari Bard
Powers of X #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman. Art by R.B. Silva.
R.B Silva does terrific worldbuilding here in this issue and is generally also very good with tone. He can move between deadly battles for survival and have torture scenes with a supervillain that makes you chuckle. Part of that is on Gracia’s colors, who lands certain beats with clever color choices, while the other is on Cowles’ lettering, which is impeccable. But really, Silva grants the book a level of weight and energy that feels fitting. His sci-fi designs and aesthetic really stick out, balancing clever detail with effortless simplicity to walk a careful line. And Gracia’s palette, which throws in everything from oozing lime green to energetic blues really sells it as a sci-fi title more than anything else. Cowles continues to use the telepathy balloons he’s established in the series thus far, which is a nice touch and it’s the little things like these that act as glue to hold together the entire epic as one. (10/10)
– Ritesh Babu
The Batman Who Laughs #7
Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Jock.
Snyder deconstructed a character that he loves and cherishes, broke him, put him through absolute hell, and then put him back together again. The Batman Who Laughs is a twisted, bittersweet goodbye letter to Batman, revisiting some of Snyder’s most iconic moments with the Dark Knight — Black Mirror and Court of Owls — and is a truly a fitting end to Scott Snyder’s time with Batman and Gotham City. I expect The Batman Who Laughs to go down in comics history as one of the best Batman stories ever told. (10/10)
– JJ Travers