Comic Book Reviews (Week Jan 8, 2020): Batman Issue 86, Strikeforce Issue 5, and More!

Batman Issue 86 review
Batman issue 86 (Image: DC Comics)

Hey, all! Welcome to my comic book review roundup for this week (January 8, 2020). I’ll be going over all of the titles I’ve read. My review list includes Batman Issue 86, X-Force Issue 5, Strikeforce Issue 5, Catwoman Issue 19, and many more. So, let’s begin!

Let’s begin with the highly anticipated Batman Issue 86. With Tom King’s long run finally coming to an end, we have writer James Tynion IV bringing a new story arc called ‘Their Dark Designs’ for the Caped Crusader.

I have to say I enjoyed the premise. I think many of us have wondered why Bruce doesn’t use his money to try and fix Gotham, right? It seems Tynion IV might be ready to offer an answer. The arc’s debut issue had Bruce wanting to redesign the city. But, of course, villains had their ideas, too. Everyone wants Gotham to look and operate the way they want.

While King used poetry, riddles, and just not a lot of dialogue to tell his story, Tynion IV filled the latest issue with a lot of words. Now, I understand how some might enjoy reading through it all, while some might not. I liked reading what Tynion IV had to offer in Batman Issue 86, though.

Also, Bruce and Selina are still going strong. So, I’m interested to see how Tynion IV will handle that relationship. Apparently, the main villain of the current arc is connected to Selina somehow?

I also liked the emotional moment Batman shared with Lucius Fox when Bruce forgot, for a second, that Alfred’s dead.

Recommendation: I can see this issue not working for certain readers. But I still think you should give it a read if only to experience something different compared to King. The pencils by Tony S. Daniel aren’t great. But oh well.

Catwoman issue 19 review
Catwoman issue 19 (Image: DC Comics)

Catwoman Issue 19

Reading Selina Kyle’s solo comic book series does feel weird when it’s taking place in the past. We already know she ended up with Bruce in the present timeline. So, I want the current series to pick up the pace. Maybe her solo series can focus on her thoughts about staying true to herself while also being with Bruce in the present timeline?

Anyway, the latest issue by writer Joelle Jones felt like filler before the final showdown. The fact Selina is yet to take down a major villain, 19 issues in, just doesn’t sit well with me.  

Recommendation: Meh!

Excalibur Issue 5 review
Excalibur Issue 5 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Excalibur Issue 5

So, I decided to get back into Excalibur this week. I have to be honest. I haven’t been enjoying this series as much as I hoped. And even after reading the fifth issue, I’m not sure if I will stick with it. I’m not saying it’s a bad book. I think it is just not something I’m particularly interested in.

Anyway, turns out Jubilee’s son caused a rift between Earth and Otherworld/Avalon which caused some of the Otherworld magical beings to come over. I appreciate what writer Tini Howard’s doing by expanding on the lore related to the bond mutants have with magic, but even still I can’t make myself get invested in the current arc.

I did enjoy the reveal dealing with how Apocalypse was behind a whole lot of stuff that happened, even though it was expected. His fight with Rogue was interesting. And Gambit doing what was possible to look out for his wife made a lot of sense. With Rogue finally waking up, let’s see what happens next.

The art by Marcus To is very nice.

Recommendation: Meh!

strikeforce issue 5 review
Strikeforce Issue 5 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Strikeforce Issue 5

Another Marvel story from writer Tini Howard, Strikeforce Issue 5 offered a lot for me to enjoy. For some reason, I find myself being more interested in exploring magic in Strikeforce than I am in Excalibur.

Howard has a knack for allowing every member to shine when writing a team book. You just know she has specific narrative arcs she wants each character to go through and I can’t wait to see them make their individual journey.

For me, Wiccan and Hellstrom have a lot that can be used to explore the supernatural side of Marvel Comics. And that’s definitely what I’m looking forward to reading the most as this series continues. 

It was interesting seeing Spectrum trying to make sense of the supernatural stuff around her. She’s a scientist and seeing her do her best to fix things with science made sense. However, Spectrum needs to understand that magic can’t always be faced with science.

Until then, Howard is making the team fight zombies! I love it!

Recommendation: PICK IT UP! 

The Magnificent Ms Marvel Issue 11
The Magnificent Ms. Marvel Issue 11 (Image: Marvel Comics)

The Magnificent Ms. Marvel Issue 11

Heroes being forced to fight the worst version of themselves isn’t something new in the comic book genre. But writer Saladin Ahmed made it work in the latest issue because of his strong grasp over everything that helps Kamala come across as an engrossing young hero.

Things just keep on piling for her, and with the latest issue ending on a cliffhanger, I can’t wait to see what happens next. Even though Ahmed isn’t doing anything unique with the character, his story having a sense of familiarity (a sick parent, a budding romance with your best friend, being a teenager, etc.) is still working in this comic book’s favor. 

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

New Mutants Issue 5 Review
New Mutants Issue 5 (Image: Marvel Comics)

New Mutants Issue 5

Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Rod Reis came back to continue their story featuring Sunspot and his crew’s adventure in space. I have been enjoying Sunspot’s narration. He has a very comedic take on things.

We all know the New Mutants team will be heading back to Earth soon. So, the cliffhanger ending didn’t have much of an impact on me. I did enjoy the panels where Magik asked her opponents if they wanted to make out with her.

New Mutants Issue 5 review Magik
Magik in New Mutants Issue 5 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Recommendation: You should consider reading what Sunspot has been up to in space.

X-Force Issue 5 review
X-Force Issue 5 (Image: Screengrab)

X-Force Issue 5

The current X-Force comic book series is having a lot of fun showcasing all of the gore Marvel Comics can let it get away with. I’m not sure if I’m particularly a fan of the current arc or if I’m just coming back to see characters (including certain X-Men team members) die in a number of different ways.

After what Domino had to go through, writer Benjamin Percy allowing her to get her revenge was very satisfying to watch. Due to how Domino acted, I wasn’t sure if she was going to leave any survivors even with Beast ordering her to stop. Forge also got to play around with his Krakoa-infused weaponry. So, that was nice to see. 

Recommendation: You should consider reading this series.

Which comic books did you read this week? Did you enjoy Batman issue 86? Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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