Rapid Reviews for the Week of 1/11/2023

Welcome to our first Rapid Reviews column of 2023.

This week we have a bunch of middle issues to discuss. While we did include one New Number One and one concluding issue, the middle issues of comic arcs and series are often overlooked.  These books are really well done and definitely belong in your pull list.

Our reviews are spoiler free and focus on the positive aspects of comic storytelling in each issue. You can find all of these books at your Local Comic Shop now or wherever you get your comics.

All Against All #2
Image Comics
Written by Alex Paknadel
Art by Caspar Wijngaard
Colors by Wijngaard
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Art by Wijngaard

The first issue of this comic was excellent. This second issue is better. The sides of the conflict that is rapidly escalating are clearly delineated in this issue. The defining feeling of this issue is the anxiety of the primary narrator B’Tay. Paknadel, Wijngaard, and Otsmane-Elhaou all combine to use their extensive skills to pass that uneasiness and anticipation on to the reader with this extraordinarily tense comic. It is beautiful, terrifying, and sad all at once. This book is a must pull.

Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs #3
Ahoy Comics
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh
Colors by Chris Chuckry
Letters by Rob Steen
Cover Art by Pugh

This is a thoroughly entertaining comic. There are two complementary stories on display, and the techniques used to tell them clearly and effectively are brilliantly executed by Russell and Pugh. The rising tension in the main story has this reader completely engaged in this series. Pugh does wonderful job with high quality visual storytelling and Russell’s socio-economic commentary finds its customary place behind a thin veil in a post-apocalyptic storyline. Well done all around.

Black Cloak #1
Image Comics
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Meredith McClaren
Colors by McClaren
Letters by Becca Carey
Cover Art by McClaren

This is the only New Number One in this list and… Wow! This is a great comic. Thomson and McClaren do a phenomenal job of introducing the reader to a complex new world with interesting rules and characters with detailed backstories. All the while, this issue is exploring a murder mystery that is at the heart of the plot of this book. It is an oversized debut issue, but each page and panel is efficiently executed to move the story forward. If whodunnit’s with elves, fairies, mermaids, with some castle intrigue thrown in for fun, are your jam? Do not miss this book.

Crashing #5
IDW Publishing
Written by Matthew Klein
Art by Morgan Beem
Colors by Triona Farrell
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Art by Beem

Kudos to the entire Crashing team. I have been in love with this book from the get go, and this conclusion absolutely stuck the landing. This final issue was beautifully laid out and illustrated. That was no easy task because, as was the case with the previous issues, the story was dense and intense. I will continue to recommend this book. It tackles difficult issues in thoughtful ways through a lens that includes a world with superpowered beings. At its heart, it has nothing to do with superpowers and everything to do with addiction, failure, and recovery. A truly excellent comic.

Know Your Station #2
Boom! Studios
Written by Sarah Gailey
Art by Liana Kangas
Colors by Rebecca Nalty
Letters by Cardinal Rae
Cover Art by Kangas

The mysteries deepen and the murders keep coming in this sci-fi thriller. The entire team does a terrific job in this issue, and this is another example of the second issue surpassing the excellent first issue. I am hooked into this series, and this issue just reinforced that commitment. I want to point out that Cardinal Rae took some swings with the lettering in this book and really came through with some well-crafted enhancements to the story telling experience.

Specs #3
Boom! Studios
Written by David M. Booher
Art by Chris Shehan
Colors by Roman Stevens
Letters by Jim Campbell
Cover Art by Skylar Patridge

We have been a fan of this series through the first two issues. It is well paced and excellently crafted. However, in this issue, Booher and Shehen turn up the heat and intensity. Secrets start to get revealed, and pressure mounts on the narrator/main character. Everything from the panel layouts, to the color work, to the smart lettering choices is extremely well done. If you have been sleeping on this series, wake up. This book is highly recommended.

Two Graves #3
Image Comics
Written by Genevieve Valentine
Art by Ming Doyle
Colors by Lee Loughridge
Letters by Aditya Bidikar
Cover Art by Annie Wu

There is a quality to this series, and this book as well, that the creators are delivering a view of a clearing in a misty wood. The wider reality that exists in this world is being kept from the reader and the protagonist, and that is not a negative comment. The experience of reading this book is full of anticipation and speculation, and I love it. Structurally and artistically this book is gorgeous. Ming Doyle brings her “A” game to the pages of this issue, as expected. The muted and limited pallette employed by Lee Loughridge is a major factor to that fever dream like experience I mentioned earlier. Aditya Bidikar’s lettering is simply fantastic. This series has maintained the high quality that the first issue started at. I am enjoying this a lot.