Comic Book Reviews (Week May 26, 2021): Black Panther Issue 25, Reptil Issue 1 & More!

Black Panther issue 25 review
Black Panther Issue 25 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Welcome to my comic book reviews for this week (May 26, 2021). I will be covering Black Panther Issue 25, Reptil Issue 1, Something Is Killing The Children Issue 16, and more!

I’ll begin by talking about the long-awaited finale to the Black Panther solo series by Coates. A thicker Black Panther issue 25 (49 pages compared to the average 28 pages) offered a satisfying ending and set the stage for T’Challa and Wakanda’s future adventures. He’s Emperor T’Challa now and I can’t wait to see what Oscar-winning writer John Ridley decides to do in his run set to debut in August of this year. With T’Challa now basically in charge of a large portion of space, there’s a lot for Ridely to play with.

Black Panther issue 25 opened during Wakanda’s epic battle with Killmonger’s forces. With our heroes busy, Bast’s decided to put her plan in motion. Even though she played a role in helping the heroes win the war, she’s a very messy Goddess. I liked how Storm called Bast out on her actions. While I would have liked more scenes of the two Goddesses butting heads, I think Coates has done more than enough for Ororo.

The past couple of years (I would even say a decade) have been quite disappointing for certain Storm fans (myself included). Seeing her be paid dust in the main X-Men line while experiencing tremendous developments in Black Panther led to some conflicting feelings.

Frankly, I would like Ororo to play a bigger role in the X-Men titles. You know, the line of books she’s actually supposed to be a part of? But I’m also quite grateful to Coates. He didn’t have to level up Storm in such a manner. It wasn’t his job. But he did it anyway.

I urge you to read Coates’ interview with Polygon where he talked about why he handled Ororo the way he did. I do agree with his opinion that Ororo’s someone who can understand T’Challa. T’Challa had expectations put on him as a child, trying to find a balance between his responsibilities as the ruler of a nation, a hero, and being his own person. Similarly, Ororo’s had to find a balance between being a mutant, being worshipped as a Goddess from a young age, a hero, etc. It’s been quite tough for both of them.

During the current run, I have seen certain readers say that Coates, though a very talented writer, can’t write comic books. I kind of get where they’re coming from. Even I think his run would work better as a binge-read. So, here’s to hoping it finds more readers now that all of the issues are available.

Black Panther issue 25 review
Storm and Spectrum in Black Panther Issue 25 (Image: Marvel Comics)

As for certain cool moments in Black Panther issue 25, I liked Storm and Spectrum teaming up again to offer a thermal shock to Killmonger. Also, I’m not sure, but with Bast walking around in secret, was Ororo able to notice her, too? I know T’Challa could smell Bast. But was Ororo able to detect Bast’s presence due to seeing energy patterns and being a Goddess? Because it sure liked it. But then again, I could be wrong.

Also, queer couple Ayo and Aneka became adoptive parents. Yay!

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP

Reptil Issue 1 review
Reptil Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Reptil Issue 1

This was another Marvel comic book I picked up this week. Reptil issue 1, by writer Terry Blas and penciler Enid Balam, gave a quick introduction to our lead hero Humberto Lopez and why he’s decided to stay with certain family members in the present timeline. To be honest, Humberto was never on my radar when he debuted. However, I’m totally here for his current journey that might offer answers to what happened to his parents. His relationship with his twin cousins felt real and with one of them also demonstrating powers, I’m looking forward to seeing how said character develops.

Reptil issue 1 featured a nice balance between emotional moments and fun action. If I were to nitpick, I would say it would be helpful if the comic book told us what dinosaur Humberto’s transforming into when using the amulet’s powers. The art’s dynamic, with a young reader-friendly charm I liked. Even if you weren’t into Humberto before, I think you should give his current miniseries a chance.

Reptil Issue 1 review
Reptil Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

On a side note, the fact Balam decided to make the Taco stand owner, Enrique, so attractive and heroic (during an action sequence) makes me want to know more about him!

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

harley quinn issue 3 review
Harley Quinn Issue 3 (Image: DC Comics)

Harley Quinn Issue 3

Yes, I know. I know. When I talk to other comic book readers, the art by Riley Rossmo keeps coming up. Apparanlty, it’s just not gelling with certain people and I fail to see why. Personally, I like the current art style. It makes everything over-the-top and perfectly compliments who Harley is as a character. I just hope the hesitancy about the art isn’t pushing readers away because this is a well-written comic book story by Stephanie Phillips.

Harley Quinn issue 3 showed Harley organizing a community support group to help people who were involved with the Joker during the ‘Joker War’ event. Of course, it didn’t work out as planned. While Harley’s trying to help in her own way, Hugo Strange is all about experimenting on the ex-Joker supporters with dangerous concoctions. With Harley deciding to put a stop to Hugo, I can’t wait to see what happens next. She should try and form a team.

The issue also featured a voiceover from Harley talking about human smiles and the different meanings behind them. Humans don’t always smile when they’re happy. They also have devious and dangerous smiles. There’s a level of complexity involved with smiling and what it actually means. I liked how Phillips handled offering said information through Harley.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

The Department of Truth issue 9 review
The Department of Truth Issue 9 (Image: Image Comics)

The Department of Truth Issue 9

The Department of Truth issue 9, by writer James Tynion IV, finally gave what a lot of readers were waiting for. We got to learn about how magic worked in the fictional world Tynion’s impressively created.

Yes, you will need to read a lot of words on each panel. But I think it can’t be helped as Tynion’s all about expanding the lore and how it’s connected to the main narrative involving Cole in the present. Cole’s got to understand everything if he wants to be ready for what’s going to happen next (which, frankly, I’m not sure about, but I’m excited).

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Something Is Killing The Children Issue 16 review
Something Is Killing The Children Issue 16 (Image: BOOM! Studios)

Something Is Killing The Children Issue 16

James Tynion IV’s highly successful Something Is Killing The Children returned with issue 16 this week. This was another issue where Tynion gave what readers were hoping for. We got an arc exploring Erica Slaughterhouse’s origin story. After witnessing the murder of her parents and best friend, and killing the murderous monster, 12-year-old Erica is taken to the Order of St. George to become a trained monster killer.

I liked Jessica as Erica’s mentor. You can tell where Erica got her personality from. Jessica isn’t into following rules either. The car trip to the Order of St. George offered a lot of answers about how the mysterious organization worked and what Erica should expect. Not everyone’s happy about Jessica making such a call and taking Erica under her wing. You can just tell her training sessions aren’t going to be easy. And I’m ready to know more.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Made In Korea Issue 1 review
Made In Korea Issue 1 (Image: Image Comics)

Made in Korea Issue 1

From Jeremy Holt (story) and George Schall (artist), Made in Korea issue 1 was just wow. It’s an interesting take on a familiar premise. Humans, for some reason, aren’t able to have biological kids anymore. So, they have decided to opt for robotic children. The debut issue did a good job of introducing such a fictional world and the different opinions humans held toward adopting expensive artificial children called proxies.

Bill and Suelynn Evans in Conroe, Texas, ended up with a proxy, a little girl named Jesse who very likely got something weird in her programming because of a programmer named Chul from Seoul, South Korea. While Jesse’s able to adjust to her new home, there’s a layer of creepiness throughout the issue and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Specter Inspectors Issue 4 review
Specter Inspectors Issue 4 (Image: BOOM! Studios)

Specter Inspectors Issue 4

From Bown McCurdy and Kaitlyn Musto, the first arc of Specter Inspectors is coming to a close. Specter Inspectors issue 4 allowed our team to learn more about what they’re up against. While Noa and Astrid continued to bond, Astrid’s relationship with the demon possessing her body grew more disturbing. Astrid’s decision near the end of the book made me roll my eyes. But having said that, it did allow the issue to end on an exciting cliffhanger to usher in a very enjoyable finale.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Pick it up

Money Shot issue 11 review
Dr. Yazmin Blanco in Money Shot Issue 11 (Image: Vault Comics)

Money Shot Issue 11

From co-writers Tim Seeley and Sarah Beattie, penciler Caroline Leigh Layne, and colors by Kurt Michael Russell, Money Shot issue 11 introduced us to Dr. Yazmin Blanco. Her goal is to figure out a way to counter climate change. She’s in need of funding and that leads her to say yes to joining the XXX-plorers. She’s smart and hot. So, a perfect fit for the team.

However, it’s easier said than done. Even though I missed Bree, I was still able to warm up to Yazmin because she didn’t come across as a replacement. She’s her own person. I liked her naivety when it came to what was required as a member of the XXX-plorers.

The rest of the team changing things up to accommodate Yazmin was fun to see. The current issue opened a new, somewhat hopeful, chapter for the main characters and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Goliath Girls volume 1 review
Goliah Girls Volume 1 (Image: comiXology Originals)

Goliath Girls Volume 1

I was provided with a free digital copy of Goliath Girls Volume 1 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

Written by Sam Humphries with art by Alti Firmansyah, Goliath Girls Volume 1 covers issues 1-5. This is a fun action-packed story about a world where Kaiju exist. I get that it’s not the most original concept out there, however, Goliath Girl was still able to put an interesting twist on it. In this world, the Goliath Girls is a team that’s all about finding a way to help Kaiju co-exist with humans. Ginger Spice, a Kraken-like Kaiju, and Mango, a pink reindeer-like creature, are also members of the Goliath Girls.

On the other hand, the opponent team, the Ajax Girls, wants to destroy gigantic monsters to protect humanity. Their fighter’s a giant ape. Not only that, but a third nefarious entity’s also present that wants monsters to rule humanity.

The main story’s about everyone trying to get to the King of All Goliaths residing under the sea. The one who controls the King will be able to command every goliath. I liked how the narrative slowly revealed that there might be something off about the King’s role.

Along with every issue being action-heavy, the narrative didn’t forget to focus on emotional moments. The young characters in this series knew each other since they were kids. But as they grew up, their opinions about the Kaiju vs humans debate changed. Their shared past, with all of them also taking care of a baby Ginger Spice, made for moments that allowed certain characters to feel conflicted about the decisions they had to willingly (or were forced to) make. Take note; it’s not all doom and gloom. The humorous bantering between characters was fun.

In a sense, Goliath Girls ended up being one of the rare stories out there that made me care about the human characters in a fictional world with Kaiju roaming around. So, kudos to the creative team for that. 

The art style’s quite cartoony and manga-inspired with the characters being over-the-top with their expressions when required (even during dire circumstances). It all fits well with the type of story being told.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

chartwell manor comic book
Chartwell Manor (Image: Fantagraphics)

Chartwell Manor

I was provided with a free digital copy of Chartwell Manor for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

Trigger Warning: This review of Chartwell Manor mentions child abuse and sexual assault.

From Glenn Head, Chartwell Manor served an emotionally raw retelling of the childhood trauma Head had to experience while attending Chartwell Manor. Opening up when Head was a kid in the early ’70s, we’re introduced to the titular institution run by headmaster and teacher Terry Lynch (Terence Michael Lynch), an authority figure kids are supposed to trust as they spent time away from their families and loved ones. Lynch used that trust to abuse the kids, confusing them even more by manipulating a child’s desire for affection. 

I have to admit that reading the pages and seeing the horror Head and the other students were put through was tough. The students knew it wasn’t right, and yet they couldn’t stand up to Lynch. Their parents wouldn’t listen. The instances showed the vulnerability of kids and how quickly their innocence can be exploited by predators.

Chartwell Manor featured Head’s story from being a young child to reaching adulthood, exemplifying how trauma can stick with you for life and impact decisions and relationships with those around you. Head’s not trying to be a heroic figure in Chartwell Manor. He’s not trying to present himself as an icon when it comes to surviving childhood abuse. This piece of content simply depicted Head being true about his experiences… the good, the bad, and the ugly (involving drugs, sex addiction, and intimacy issues).

This isn’t a glorified revenge story. Head’s not directly responsible for taking down Lynch. He’s just trying to figure out his life. The narrative also took time to show how some of the other students coped with their trauma. A disturbing interaction an adult Head had with a classmate, after Lynch’s arrest, presented a powerful scene about the lasting impressions of being groomed. 

The authenticity depicted in Chartwell Manor is what made it simultaneously scary and intriguing. It’s a memoir that will stick with you long after you’ve finished the last page. It’s an important look at certain moments in a survivor’s life and how many of them don’t always get to confront their abuser and bring them to justice. Yet what they can do is find ways to properly deal with what was forced upon them. Them surviving is brave enough.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP

You can read Jessica’s review of Robin issue 2 here.

You can read Khai’s review of Goblin here.

Which comic books did you read this week? What did you think of Black Panther issue 25?

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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