Future State: Teen Titans #2 and the fantasy art of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1 shined, Dark Detective #3 delivered a unique take on Gotham City while Radiant Black #1’s opening anthem hit a sour note.
TEEN TITANS #2
With a slower emotional build, this issue could have earned an A.
Future State has given us plenty of post-modern, angst-riddled settings for the writers and artists to play in. The Next Batman takes place in a fascist police state, and Aquaman is traversing the multiverse through the interdimensional sea, the Confluence. Now the Teen Titans have gone full apocalypse with its Future State run, and it is a sight to behold.
DC Comics loves its tales of one apocalypse or another, and this felt like a throwback to something out of Final Crisis. A horror-themed version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were on full terror-inducing display, complete with a twisted Wally West as Famine.
As entertaining as the Titans versus Four Horsemen battle was, Teen Titans #2 shined brightest in the emotionally impactful tale of Red X. Without giving away too much, he reveals himself in the closing moments, and the payoff is worthwhile.
STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC ADVENTURES #1
I am a little late to the party with Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1, but bear with me.
Compared to the companion series, Star Wars: High Republic, High Republic Adventures stands out as the winner so far. In this story, Yoda and the padawans rescue the civilians of a dying planet. The issue offers new characters galore, which has made it a speculative darling since its release.
The charming, fast-paced story was engaging, but Harvey Tolibao’s artwork took this comic to another level. His art felt like it was pulled straight from Elfquest. It served to heighten the fantasy element of the book, and that earned it a letter grade all in itself. Many comics choose to go with a more standard route in terms of the artwork. Tolibao’s art helps High Republic Adventures stand out from a sea of Star Wars comics that span the galaxy.
Like High Republic, with another young, female protagonist, appears aimed at younger audiences. However, the young adult genre is broad enough to appeal to much more than just the teenage crowd, and High Republic Adventures has the potential to be genre-defying in its scope thanks to that amazing artwork.
DARK DETECTIVE #3
DC’s Future State is hitting all its marks so far. Like all things Batman, this is not the only alternate Caped Crusader tale on the market. The interesting part is that Dark Detective and The Next Batman give us two different Dark Knights: Tim Fox and Bruce Wayne. Suspected dead, Bruce is still cavorting as a Batman of his own. What makes it interesting is that he is a lower-tech version of the Bruce Wayne Batman we know and love. This version sports more of a Batman-shaped helmet and a trench coat that is reminiscent of the dream sequence from Batman V Superman.
Like Next Batman, Dark Detective emphasizes its commentary on modern society. In Dark Detective, the story takes a more subtle approach on criticizing a digital, high-tech frontier that erases all privacy. As a reader, I did not feel brow beaten by the concept as I did with Next Batman.
What will grab your attention is the background. Dark Detective embraces a beautiful, neon-filled world ripped from Blade Runner. The overall feel is a Batman tale set not in the dark tones of Gotham but in the blinding lights of Neo-Tokyo. The only drawback to the art style was a lack of details on the faces, though I suspect that is by design from a Manga standpoint.
Taskmaster #3 accomplished its goal of being a fun, action-comedy that flips a few of the superhero tropes on its head.
Taskmaster’s latest volume feels destined to be the inspiration for a live-action or animated series on Disney+ for that very reason. In a very tongue-in-cheek issue, Taskmaster defrauds an apocalyptic Korean cult and points out the dangers of using generic-brand Pym Particles.
We do have a first appearance: Taegukgi. He is clearly meant to be a tongue-in-cheek play on the Superman/Captain America super-patriot mold with his flag-waving as well as feeling so wholesome that he comes across as naive.
Once again, the artwork steals the show. Alessandro Vitti’s pencils, particularly on the facial expressions and the details of Taskmaster’s skull mask, are captivating.
HOME SICK PILOTS #3
Home Sick Pilots #3 presents a teen-angst horror story mixed with plenty of dialogue on counter culture. One of the prevailing themes of HSP #3 is the remnants of British punk rock. The story is set in 1994, and the evolution of punk rock kicking and screaming into grunge overshadows the horror and mystery of the story.
Of course, this is a piece to the whole. When the initial story arc is completed, then we will get the clear picture of what Home Sick Pilots is all about with a more holistic criticism. For now, if you are a horror fan with a penchant for punk and grunge, this is your comic.
RADIANT BLACK #1
This has been one of the more anticipated comics of the past week. The problem is it felt too reliant on the classic superhero clichés from the Silver Age.
Kyle Higgins’ Radiant Black tells the story of Nathan, the quintessential struggling writer. He is over his head in debt and forced to give up his dream and move back home with his parents. One day, he comes across a miniature black hole, and that is where this origin story begins. The story throws the reader directly into the fire as Nathan is imbued with a suit and power set with ample attempts at comedy.
The artwork felt reminiscent of a kid’s cartoon show, and that may have been what artist Marcelo Costa was going for since this issue was a fairly by-the-numbers superhero origin story.
While this issue may not have grabbed my attention, there is room to work, and the tropes could be a diversion tactic to set up a major plot twist in the future.
Matt Tuck is the author of Lost Bones of the Dead. He's also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.