Comic Book Review – The Department of Truth Book 1

The Department of Truth: The Complete Conspiracy Book 1 (2023)
Reprints The Department of Truth #1-17
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Martin Simmonds, Elsa Charretier, Tyler Boss, and John J. Pearson

Truth is difficult to come by these days, especially in the United States. I speak from experience. I was homeschooled throughout my childhood, the eldest of four children who were also entirely homeschooled. My parents’ basis for this decision was fueled by the Satanic Panic of the 1980s; I was born in 1981. They were Born Again Christians coming out of the Jesus Freak era of the 1970s, where the Christian Right fully secured its power base, preying on young people disillusioned by the previous decade of collapse. Growing up, our house had the expected paraphernalia of such beliefs. There were, of course, narrow-minded curricula from the usual suspects: Bob Jones University Press and Abeka. It was common during the afternoon to hear the hate-filled spewing of Rush Limbaugh coming from a radio in the kitchen. He was often joined by prestigious reactionaries and fascists like G. Gordon Liddy. 

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Comic Book Review – Geiger Volume One

Geiger Volume One (2021)
Reprints Geiger #1-6
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson

In the Marvel/DC-dominated superhero space, it can be a bit daunting for someone to do capes & tights seriously outside of that duopoly. Most of the time, these end up being more like Black Hammer, a critique or commentary on superhero comics seen through a contemporary lens. Geoff Johns is a comics creator who has undoubtedly seen better days. His peak was in the early to mid-2000s working for DC, where he managed to revitalize the Justice Society and did some absolutely legendary work on The Flash and Green Lantern. His role at DC grew, which led to a leadership role in their film & television development. Johns would help co-write the screenplays for Wonder Woman and Aquaman and serve as a producer on almost every single DC film. 

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Comic Book Review – Descender Deluxe Edition Volume 1

Descender Deluxe Edition Volume 1 (2017)
Reprints Descender #1-16
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dustin Nguyen

Jeff Lemire is one of the most prolific comic writers of the current era, having penned some of the most memorable books of the last few years. He broke out with titles like Sweet Tooth and The Essex County trilogy and now authors superhero, science fiction, horror books, and more. I’ve been following his fantastic Black Hammer universe at Dark Horse comics for a few years and am close to wrapping up Twin Peaks-like Gideon Falls. So I decided to look at his other work at Image Comics, starting with this space opera epic clearly inspired by Astro Boy. 

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Comic Book Review – Something Is Killing the Children Volumes 1-3

Something is Killing the Children Volumes 1-3 (2020-2021)
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Werther Dell’Edera

When it was first published, Something is Killing the Children was a five-issue limited series. However, the reader response was so overwhelmingly positive that instead of doing a series of mini-series, writer James Tynion IV was allowed to make it an ongoing by Image Comics. Like many series at Image Comics, especially since The Walking Dead became a show, this one feels like an extended pitch for the first season of a television program. It’s a rather contained setting with a limited number of recurring characters and lots of seeds for potential mysteries and subplots along the way. But is it any good?

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Comic Book Review – Crossover Volume 1

Crossover Volume 1: Kids Love Chains (2021)
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw

The comic book crossover became a staple of the superhero genre in the 1980s. There were smaller precursors to this starting as early as the 1940s when the first superhero teams were assembled out of established solo characters. In the 1960s, Marvel Comics would weave long-form narratives through multiple titles. At the same time, DC Comics introduced the Multiverse and had the Justice League meet their counterparts on Earth-2. With each annual meeting, the scope of these adventures would expand to encompass more worlds. The first large crossover event is considered to be Secret Wars, published by Marvel in 1984. This was a 12-issue limited series whose storylines would be continued in ongoing titles. DC responded the following year with Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was the largest scale narrative ever told at that point in the comics medium. These days, you can’t have a year go by without the big two having at least a couple crossover events. It’s into this state of being that writer Donny Cates begins Crossover from Image Comics.

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Comic Book Review – Deadly Class Volumes 7 & 8

Deadly Class Volume 7: Love Like Blood (2018)
Reprints Deadly Class #32-35

Deadly Class Volume 8: Never Go Back (2019)
Reprints Deadly Class #36-39, FCBD 2019 Deadly Class Killer Set

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig & Jordan Boyd

In the same way, Book 2 started with all-out action and violence, so too does Volume 7. The new kids are in Mexico, having met up with Marcus and Maria. Saya’s brother has sent in his Yakuza. Viktor and the other kids from school have shown up to claim the trophy of killing Marcus. Things explode, and the book never seems to let up. Readers have been waiting for a rematch between Marcus and Viktor since Book 2’s first act, and Remender goes out of his way to subvert our expectations. I can honestly say I didn’t expect that moment to happen like it did, but it was very satisfying, and I think it will lead to more complex stories down the road.

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Comic Book Review – Deadly Class Book Two

Deadly Class Book Two: The Funeral Party (2018)
Reprints Deadly Class #17-31
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd

Deadly Class: The Funeral Party feels like a much-needed upgrade from the previous entry as we finally get beyond just Marcus’s specific perspective. The action kicks off right away with the freshman class forced into a brutal massacre to determine who moves on to a sophomore year. This is a moment where we really get to know some of the previously marginal players in the story. Shabnam rises to the occasion as a major villain in the series though still having to engage in a tug of war with Viktor and other cliques. 

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Comic Book Review – Deadly Class Book One: Noise Noise Noise

Deadly Class Book One: Noise, Noise, Noise (2016)
Reprints Deadly Class #1-16
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Rick Remender, I spent half a year reading through and reviewing his entire body of work at Marvel Comics in 2018. As part of my look at Image Comics this year, I decided to check out his Deadly Class series, which had been turned into a now-canceled series on SyFy. I literally went in blind, not knowing the names of any characters or the premise of the series. I was surprised by what I read, enjoyed quite a bit of it but also had some moments that I didn’t care for. 

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Comic Book Review – The Wicked + The Divine Book 4

The Wicked + The Divine Book 4 (2020)
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson

“Sticking the landing” is a phrase that means achieving a conclusion that is satisfying in relation to the journey that led there. When you have one of these finite comic sagas like Y the Last Man or Sandman, where you’ve been with this singular creator’s vision, and the series ends with their final word. We often remember the great ones and the disappointing comics get quickly forgotten, and we move on. The Wicked + The Divine delivers a truly massive closure that wraps up every character and provides total closure. There’s no story to be told after the closing pages of this book.

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Comic Book Review – The Wicked + The Divine Book 3

The Wicked + The Divine Book Three (2018)
Reprints The Wicked + The Divine #23 – 33
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson

This penultimate volume in The Wicked + The Divine series is my favorite of the series. It jumps into a completely new realm with the death that capped off the last book. To shake things, the first issue in this collection is a mock-up of fake magazine articles about each member of the Pantheon, giving some much-needed depth and background to these characters. I always love when a creator plays with the format of their comic, like Grant Morrison’s Batman run and Jonathan Hickman’s current X-work. Things get back to the standard form with the next issue, but the status quo is shaken up.

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