Comic Book Reviews (Week September 29, 2021): SWORD Issue 8, The Department of Truth Issue 13 & More!

Superman Son of Kal-El issue 3 review
Superman: Son of Kal-El Issue 3 (Image: DC Comics)

Welcome to my comic book review round-up for the week of September 29, 2021. Not a lot caught my interest. Anyway, I will be talking about SWORD issue 8, The Department of Truth issue 13, and more!

I will begin with Superman: Son of Kal-El issue 3 by writer Tom Taylor. There have been rumors swirling online about Taylor working towards making Jonathan explore his sexuality in the current series. And having read the third issue, I think there might just be some truth behind said rumors.

The current issue had Jon continuing to stand up for what he thought was right even if meant being sent to prison. Jon’s really into supporting immigrants who ran away from dangerous territories, which makes sense considering his father’s past. With Clark getting ready to leave Earth to fight battles elsewhere, it’s clear that Jon’s going to be a different type of Superman for the younger generation. I’m interested in seeing how it all pans out.

Having said that, it’s interesting that while the solo story is about Jon taking over Clark’s duties, the title of this series doesn’t really have Jon’s actual name in it.

Superman son of kal-el issue 3 review Jon and Jay
Jay meets the Kent family in Superman: Son of Kal-El issue 3 (Image: DC Comics)

As for Jon’s “friendship” with Jay, not only did the pink-haired reporter come to bail Jon out of jail (Clark had already handled the situation), Jay also got invited to the Kent Farm for Clark’s farewell dinner. Due to Jon and Jay basically meeting like a few days ago, having Jay be the only outsider be part of such a vulnerable moment for the Kent family was interesting. It’s as if Taylor’s daring readers not to start shipping those two. However, will the shippable subtext turn into something more concrete? Only time will tell.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Department of Truth issue 13 review
The Department of Truth Issue 13 (Image: Image Comics)

The Department of Truth Issue 13

Writers James Tynion IV gave us a lot of twists in The Department of Truth issue 13 as we also got a couple of answers to certain questions. Without giving away major spoilers, basically, Cole can’t trust anyone and it’s time for him to stand up to his childhood fear.

I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen next. Yes, I get that certain readers have an issue with this series having a whole lot of text to go through (even I got bored during certain installments) and the art could be deemed as “lacks detail” by some, but as a whole, The Department of Truth offers an engrossing narrative about conspiracy theories, religion, and media that I can’t let go of.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Stranger Things Tomb of Ybwen issue 1 review
Stronger Things: Tomb of Ybwen Issue 1 (Image: Dark Horse Comics)

Stranger Things: Tomb of Ybwen Issue 1

If you weren’t satisfied with how the live-action Stranger Things series handled the fallout after Bob’s death, Stranger Things: Tomb of Ybwen issue 1 by writer Greg Pak might give you some closure. The premise dealt with a sad Will learning about a secret treasure map created by kid Bob years ago. The debut issue of this 4-part miniseries had Will decide to hunt for the mysterious treasure on his own because his friends, understandably, didn’t want to go out during a blizzard.

Due to everyone around him growing up and finding their first girlfriends or boyfriends, Will’s been feeling left out. He’s looking for some type of direction in his life. Poor Will even thought kid Bob left the map for him even though Will and his crew weren’t even born back then. Let’s see what type of treasure he ends up finding. 

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

SWORD issue 8 review
SWORD issue 8 review (Image: Marvel Comics)

SWORD Issue 8

Where do I begin with SWORD issue 8 by writer Al Ewing? I liked certain moments, however, I was still left a bit disappointed. Maybe I was expecting too much from a single Storm-focused issue?

With Storm recently becoming the Voice of Sol and the regent of Arakko, fans had been waiting to learn how the Arakko mutants (the Arakkii), a race of warriors, allowed her to take such a seat without putting her through some kind of test. The current issue gave us the answer and more.

Turns out, even though she won her position (by fighting some kind of deranged version of herself), there are still some Arakkii who wanted to take away the ‘Seat of All-Around-Us’ from Ororo because they deem her weak. The current issue was about cementing Ororo’s place as someone not to be messed with.

Tarn’s the biggest opponent for Ororo even though they’re both members of the Great Ring and have a say in how to run Arakko. Tarn (basically a crazier Mr. Sinister) didn’t even want her seat. He’s simply offended by her existence. SWORD issue 8 had the two finally butt heads in the ‘Circle Perlious’.

I found their battle a bit boring. Longtime comic book fans already knew Storm’s much more than her mutant powers. She’s defeated capable opponents in hand-to-hand combat. She defeated Cyclops to become the leader of the X-Men while she was depowered. But I guess the Arakki didn’t know of her history and thus Ewing had to give her another knife fight to display her skills and resolve? Hmmm.

When Tarn switched off her mutant powers, I really thought Ororo’s Godhead was going to make an appearance and knock him out. I’m still waiting for a Marvel writer to better explain Ororo’s Godhead. If her being the Hadari Yao’s supposed to be greater than her mutation, then why can’t she tap into her Goddess-level reserves even if she can’t use her mutant abilities?

SWORD issue 8 review
Storm wins against Tarn in SWORD Issue 8 (Image: Marvel Comics)

After playing around with her genetic makeup, Tarn did mention he saw through Ororo’s Krakoan disguise and how she was actually of Arakko, and perhaps even of Amenth. So, maybe Ewing’s working toward exploring Storm’s Godhead and her true potential? Let’s see.

As for Storm’s feats, we got to see the Omega-level mutant Goddess casually summon a fierce blizzard. SWORD issue 8 also had her travel through space by enveloping herself with some breathable atmosphere. I’m still not sure why she just doesn’t create a powerful lighting bolt and then ride it to quickly travel wherever she wants to.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

something is killing the children issue 20 review
Something is Killing the Children Issue 20 (Image: BOOM! Studios)

Something is Killing the Children Issue 20

From writer James Tynion IV, I wasn’t able to read Something is Killing the Children issue 20 in a timely manner when it was released last week. However, due to it having a whole lot of world-building information, I figured I should talk about it in the current round-up.

With Erica being able to defeat her monster and pass the test (surprising the adults), we got to learn that the different colored masks worn by the Order of St. George depicted a member’s status and duties. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Scarlet Masks – Tend to the house and serve as bookkeepers, including keeping track of the lives of all hunters.
  • Azure Masks – Build weapons, handle skill-centric tests, and surveillance (including keeping the Order of St. George a secret from the public).
  • Black Masks – Hunters trained to takedown monsters on their own.
  • White Masks – Hunters that operate in packs to kill bigger monsters.
  • Silver Masks – Specialist hunters meant for facing monsters with established rules such as vampires, werewolves, etc. A number of them are stationed in communities that have folklore more ingrained in their culture.
  • Emerald Masks – The most dangerous hunters. They have been trained to kill dragons. 

Tynion has created a rich fictional world that offers so much to be explored. This series has can go on for years! And I’m here for it!

The emotional moments came through Erica’s relationship with her mentor Jessie and peer Aaron. Both characters supported Erica while Cecelia had her doubts. Not only that, I liked Erica’s conversation with the main man called the Dragon. He tried to play games with little Erica’s mind, telling her that she was able to pass the test only because she’s a monster, too.

Erica’s a rare case because she was able to defeat a terrifying supernatural being that had already killed and tasted human flesh. Due to potential young recruits having died facing similar monsters in the past, the Order of St. George had to change the testing process by having recruits face monsters that hadn’t killed someone before. Erica’s trial stuck to the old rules and yet she still passed. There’s just something about Erica. Perhaps her edge is due to a certain type of darkness that the Dragon was able to notice? No wonder the two don’t have a great relationship in the present. 

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood's Dracula review
Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula (Image: Humanoids)

Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula

I was provided with a free digital copy of Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

From Koren Shadmi, Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula served an in-depth look at the highs and lows in the life of the Hollywood horror icon Bela Lugosi. There’s a lot that happened in Lugosi’s life ever since he was a kid. His dream of making it big as an actor came with a lot of pitfalls which, unfortunately, he couldn’t avoid.

I liked how Shadmi gave us the entire picture. While we got to see how Lugosi was shamelessly exploited by the movie studios, the narrative didn’t shy away from depicting Lugosi’s own faults. Affairs, jealously, and more, there were a lot of demons in Lugosi’s life.

With the story coming in at more than 150 pages, I couldn’t put it down. The story unfolded in the way a well-written live-action biopic would as Shadmi had the readers seamlessly jump back and forth between Lugosi’s present and past to learn how certain actions informed the icon’s everlasting legacy.

Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula is a must-read for classic horror fans.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Don’t forget to read Jessica’s reviews of Robin Issue 6, Wonderful Women of the World, and Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven.

Which comics did you read think week? What did you think of SWORD issue 8?

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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