Comic Book Reviews (Week October 5, 2022): Batman Issue 128, X-Men Red Issue 7 & More!

Batman issue 128 review
Batman Issue 128 (Image: DC Comics)

Welcome to my comic book reviews for this week (October 5, 2022). I will be covering Batman issue 128, X-Men Red issue 7, AXE: X-Men issue 1, and more.

Let’s begin with Batman issue 128 from writer Chip Zdarsky. With Superman arriving to save Batman from Failsafe, I think it was expected that the fight wasn’t going to be easy. Bruce created Failsafe, so it knew how to handle Supes. Frankly, I don’t know how Failsafe was fast enough to land a trick shot on someone like Superman when mere humans, such as Nightwing and Green Arrow, were able to hit it. But oh well, I guess I’ll give such creative liberties a pass because the current story is interesting.

Failsafe making its way through other superheroes that appeared to protect the Caped Crusader made from some cool action-heavy moments. And while seeing Batman’s creation deal with the Justice League isn’t an original idea, I still enjoyed how Zdarsky’s allowed everything to play out.

The stakes have been raised even higher and I’m looking forward to seeing how Bruce will reclaim Gotham from Failsafe. I don’t know if Selina will appear to lend a hand, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she does.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Pick it up!

AXE X-Men Issue 1 review
AXE: X-Men Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

A.X.E.: X-Men Issue 1

I haven’t been enjoying the current AXE: Judgement Day event, but still, I was quite interested in reading a Jean Grey-centric issue focused on her being judged by the Progenitor. From writer Kieron Gillen, the current one-shot was about answering whether or not Jean Grey could ever make up for destroying a planet as the Dark Phoenix. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think over the years Jean’s been able to accept that she never could right those wrongs. However, due to being a hero, she’s still determined to help save as many souls as possible even if her acts weren’t enough to erase her dark past.

I have to say that I was expecting a well-written discussion about how Jean and the Phoneix Force will always be one of the same even though currently the Phoenix Force has chosen Echo as her host. But I didn’t get that.

Anyway, I did like how Gillen showed that both darkness and kindness existed inside Jean. I don’t know about you, but I think that telepathy’s the kind of mutant power that will undoubtedly change a person. Knowing that you can read anyone’s thoughts yet still trying not to pry is a delicate balance to maintain. Xavier, Emma, and Kid Omega (to name a few) are problematic telepaths in Marvel Comics. Is that because of their actual nature or does being a telepath mold you that way? The line that stated that Jean was both a saint and a violent bully was a good one.

Now, one might say that the issue failed when it came to actually making Jean look inward. While I understand such a critique, I think she was supposed to fail the Progenitor’s judgment to keep the story going. And frankly, I’m okay with that because who the heck cares about the Progenitor’s judgment in the first place? Who is he to judge anyone?

And besides, Jean looked amazing as one of the top Omega-level mutants who was more or less battling the Progenitor on the astral plane while keeping a miniature sun apart in the physical realm.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up!

X-Men Red issue 7 review
X-Men Red Issue 7 (Image: Marvel Comics)

X-Men Red Issue 7

From writer Al-Ewing, X-Men Red issue 7 was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the latest chapter in a narrative sense. However, I didn’t like it when it came to Storm making certain decisions. The issue opened with the aftermath of Storm and Magneto’s battle with Uranos. Even though I’m glad the two Omega-level mutants won, I can’t help but feel let down by a fight that was basically the two creating a massive electromagnetic blast and then proceeding to use Uranos’ weapons against him (with help from Tony Stark in the main AXE: Judgement Day line). I wanted to see an actual battle. Sigh!

Magento’s goodbye to Ororo was handled impressively well. The entire thing spoke to Ewing’s skills as a writer because even though we know Magneto will be brought back someday, Ewing was still able to pack a whole lot of emotions in those panels. And with Erik telling Storm to keep an eye on Charles, I’m looking forward to seeing where that particular plot thread will lead her.

Erik talking about how the survival of the mutant race was dependent on mutants and humans working together sounded very similar to what Storm’s been preaching. Even though Ororo’s an Omega-level mutant Goddess, she’s never been about feeling superior to humans or other mutants. She wants to protect everyone.

Also, whenever Erik does come back, I really want him to quit wanting to be recognized as a ‘New God’. He’s a freaking Omega-level mutant. That should be enough for him. Not everyone can be like Storm.

As for the numerous changes taking place in Arakko, we got to see the surviving members of the Great Ring stand against Isca. I liked how all of them were ready to fight to the death even though they had no chance of winning against someone whose mutant power was to never lose. With the Progenitor judging everyone, I wasn’t expecting him to go after Isca. But that’s what this issue delivered. The text-filled page of Isca’s memories after the Fisher King challenged her to a battle of understanding loss offered some nice insight into her character. However, I do think it would have been awesome if we had actual visuals instead of plain text.

Over the course of the seven issues, Ewing has been showing us Arakko change and starting to break away from the past. The fight with Uranos called for a new direction for the planet and Lodus Logos was ready to usher in a new era for his community. And while I expected Arakko to change, I wasn’t a fan of seeing Storm give up her title as ‘Regent of Sol’ to Lodus and then proceed to claim the Seat of Loss (for now).

Like, what did that particular title even mean? What did Ororo do during her reign that she couldn’t have done without it? When Storm was revealed to be the Regent of Sol, I was excited to see her make huge decisions impacting galaxies. But I got nothing. And now Ewing took that away from her? Hmmm.

Also, can certain writers stop with making Ororo always conflicted about her duties and feeling that she’s spread too thin? Her peers, especially Wolverine, are okay with popping up in multiple stories simultaneously, but somehow being in two places at once is an issue whenever Storm’s involved, even though all of these fictional characters live in a world where teleportation and magic exist.

Now, some of you might say that Ewing’s working toward a huge change for Storm by taking things away from her. Well, here’s to hoping your assumption’s correct because as of right now, Ewing’s yet to deliver something character-defining for Storm that could compare to what Coates did with the ‘Hadari Yao‘ concept in his Black Panther series. And Ororo wasn’t even the lead character in that book, unlike her position in X-Men Red.

The issue ended with Cable and Wiz Kid learning certain secrets about Abigail Brand. Let’s see how that plays out. In a sense, Storm got the Regent of Sol title because of Abigail. So, I guess it is a good thing Ororo decided to give it away. I don’t know.   

Does it have obvious queer characters? No. 

Recommendation: Pick it up

Kaya issue 1 review
Kaya Issue 1 (Image: Image Comics)

Kaya Issue 1

From writer Wes Craig, Kaya issue 1 introduced a fictional world I really want to learn more about. The story opened quite intensely from the very first page. Our leads are Kaya and her younger brother Jin. Kaya’s got a magical arm and is tasked with protecting Jin. Apparently, she’s supposed to take Jin (who is a Prince) somewhere so he could learn how to save humanity. However, the mission’s easier said than done. Kaya and Jin are traveling through a dangerous desert-like setting that gave me Mad Max vibes, but with animal-like tribes, lots of political intrigue, and a mashup of fantasy and sci-fi.

I liked the dynamic between the siblings. Jin’s someone who has lived a privileged life while Kaya, from what I could understand, grew up as a hunter. Seeing Jin make the choice between trading his scrolls or Kaya’s weapon for some food really had me worried for a bit. I’m looking forward to seeing how the two will grow their bond.

The artwork, also by Craig (with colors from Jason Wordie), features a simplistic look. The rough edges really complement the gritty story being told.

Does it feature obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up!

Basilisk issue 12 review
Basilisk Image 12 (Image: BOOM! Studios)

Basilisk Issue 12

From writer Cullen Bunn, Basilisk came to an end by offering me an issue that kind of made sticking with this series for this long worthwhile. We finally got the inevitable fight between Hannah and Vanessa. And while the confrontation would have been over if Vanessa had decided to use her powers from the start, I think it made sense why she wanted to participate as a ‘human’ against Hannah.

Bunn really offered a satisfying conclusion to Hannah’s arc while keeping the door open for a continuation. There’s still quite a bunch of stuff that requires explanation, as far as my opinion goes. If Basilisk does return for a second outing, I hope Bunn looks into tightening the pacing. 

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Dark Ride issue 1 review
Dark Ride Issue 1 (Image: Image Comics)

Dark Ride Issue 1

A new horror series by writer Joshua Williamson, Dark Ride issue 1 opened strong, kept the pace, and ended stronger. The premise is basically the existence of Disneyland but for horror fans. The opening made it obvious that there was something wrong with ‘Devil Land’ and I enjoyed the anticipation of learning the answer as I read through the pages. The creator of ‘Devil Land’ isn’t done and humanity is in big trouble.

The art by Andrei Bressan and colors by Adriano Lucas impressively helped realize ‘Devil Land’. There’s so much detail to take in! I loved it!

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Golden Rage issue 3 review
Golden Rage Issue 3 (Image: Image Comics)

Golden Rage Issue 3

After two strong issues from writer Chrissy Williams, Golden Rage issue 3 fell a bit flat for me. It felt like I was being asked to read a bunch of characters continue to talk because the pages needed to be filled up until I got to that twist at the very end. Williams brought an interesting look at the relationship between mothers and daughters, but still, there was a lot of talking going on.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Shock Shop issue 2 review
Shock Shop Issue 2 (Image: Dark Horse Comics)

Shock Shop Issue 2

From writer Cullen Bunn, Shock Shop issue 2 continued with ‘Something in the Woods in the Dark’ and ‘Familiars’. As far as my opinion goes, my favorite of the two is ‘Familiars’. The concept is interesting and the characters feel more fleshed out. I want to learn more about the demons haunting Trevor’s new house and why they are so willing to help him. Will they want something in return as payment?

In contrast, ‘Something in the Woods in the Dark’ really isn’t giving me enough time to get to know the characters. A bunch of them have died and like, ‘meh!’. Here’s to hoping the supernatural creature in the wood has a layered motive instead of simply killing for the sake of killing.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up!

Book of Evil issue 1 review
Book of Evil Issue 1 (Image: comiXology Originals)

Book of Evil Issue 1

I was provided with a free digital copy of Book of Evil issue 1 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

From writer Scott Snyder and artist Jock, the debut issue of Book of Evil took me to a world that’s incredibly messed up. From what I could understand, in this world, existing halfway through the 21st Century, humans changed. Children would lose their ability to emphasize when they hit adolescence. They would turn into psychopaths. And with that happening to 92% of the population, becoming a psychopath was seen as the norm while the 8% that still held onto their empathy were treated as animals.

It’s definitely an intriguing concept I want to learn more about. Even though a majority of humans have gone crazy, they are still living in functional societies somehow. The world and its inhabitants are described through the words of a kid named Homer. You can think of Book of Evil as a journal of sorts with Homer taking us through their routine and thought process via a lot of text. The panels also feature some art to help visualize what Homer’s talking about. I have to hand it to the creative team because the words did feel like a kid wrote them.

There’s a sense of hope as well as a mystery surrounding the disappearance of Homer’s older brother Poe. While I don’t know if I will stick with this series for the long run, I do plan on reading the second issue.

I can see this story attracting certain types of readers who are into dystopian realities and diving into the human psyche. Just take note that it reads more like a novel instead of an actual comic book.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Earthdivers issue 1 review
Earthdivers Issue 1 (Image: IDW Publishing)

Earthdivers Issue 1

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

With Indigenous Peoples’ Day coming up, we have the debut of Earthdivers by writer Stephen Graham Jones and artist Davide Gianfelice. This is a time-travel story that involves a male lead named Tad going back to 1492 to kill Christopher Columbus and prevent the creation of America. I mean, I have questions (which I will get to in a bit), but the premise really caught my attention. It makes sense for a group of Indigenous outcasts to do something like this. However, a major hurdle is Tad being a linguist instead of an experienced sailor. Seeing him try to blend with the rest of the crew made for some interesting moments. There’s a scene involving Tad needing to look at the bigger picture at the expense of his morality that was well-written.

If there’s one thing content like That’s So Raven and Outlander has taught me is that you can’t really play with the past to change the future. Not only that, but the timeline is a complex tapestry. Even if you think preventing a certain event from happening in the past would be enough to impact the future, there are likely other factors that will ensure the same future will come to be.

That’s why I’m wondering what our main group’s endgame is supposed to be. There’s no guarantee that America wouldn’t be created even if Columbus was killed. Human history is rife with colonization. Perhaps they think that the ‘new’ America will be better if someone else “discovered” it instead because Columbus was a cruel man. Hmmm.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the second issue because Tad’s coming across as an imperfect “hero” and I think things are going to turn bad for the remaining members he left behind in the future. 

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Which comic books did you read this week? What did you think of Batman issue 128?

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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