This week’s main review is Dark Ride #12, the finale to the Skybound horror family drama. Plus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finales and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!

Dark Ride #12Dark Ride #12

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Andrei Bressan
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Publisher: Image Comics – Skybound

Review by Zack Quaintance

Well, with Dark Ride #12 here we are at the end of the ride (that was too easy, no points), and so of course it’s time to talk about how it was, was it fun, did it thrill, and ultimately did it feel satisfying. First, maybe a quick recap is in order: this book is essentially theme parks meets horror meets Succession. It’s a pretty good concept for anyone who likes at least two of those things, I think.

And then on top of that we get some really great artwork from the team of artist Andrei Bressan with colorist Adriano Lucas, and fantastic letters by Pat Brosseau. Through the course of Dark Ride, the two main characters are a brother and a sister who stand to inherit their father’s one-of-a-kind horror theme park. Like a dark Disney. There’s more past that — including a park worker who dies and incites most of what happens here — but that’s really at the center of things.

And so in fitting fashion, this finale stems from the tension between the two siblings and the question of who will inherit their father’s life work. It makes for an entertaining visual story, wherein the park mascot gets enlarged by demonic powers and spews fire everywhere. But the real climax is the choice of who’s willing to sacrifice the most for the park, and I won’t spoil it here but I will say I found it all pretty satisfying.

In the end, I think this book is a very satisfying read for anyone who — as I said at the start — enjoys horror, or theme parks, or Succession, or at least two of those three. I know I liked it.

Verdict: BUY

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Briar #5 (BOOM! Studios): This new installation in the Briar series sees a new artist (Alex Lins) and a new colorist (Luis NCT) continuing the adventure written by Christopher Cantwell and lettered by AndWorld Design. Our group of adventurers led by titular character and potential harbinger of the end times, Briar Rose, has found a bit of synergy as they lend their swords and hands toward aiding people (for a fee) while they journey with the goal of confronting Gendrid. The artwork here feels stylistically connected to what came before in the previous arc while boasting more saturated colors than the soft watercolor feeling of the previous arc. Whereas there was a fairytale feeling to the art of the previous arc, there is something more adventure fantasy in how the new team approaches the art here. The action is bloody and impactful from panel to panel as Lins makes great use of the page space. There’s a moment for Spider here that feels character defining, and I’m ever curious about our resident witch Roop because I’ve been reading them as trans and am very curious about how accurate that reading is. The issue ends on a big moment, closing out a great start to this new arc. —Khalid Johnson
  • Heartpiercer #1 (Dark Horse Comics): Darkness falls across a fantasy land when an evil lord reveals his plans for conquest to the one who trusted him most, only to be betrayed when her mission was complete. That’s the chaos readers are introduced to in Heartpiercer #1. Author Rich Douek sets the stage for what is sure to be an action-packed tale of redemption and revenge. Atala carrying around her guilt in the form of the last unicorn’s horn makes me eager to pick up the next issue to see where she plans to go from here. With art and colors from Gavin Smith and Nicholas Michael respectively, Atala’s journey and the world of horrors in which she now finds herself is among some of the top fantasy world art I’ve seen in recently. The monsters, their transformations, and the environment itself stand out in making this book as good as it is. With letters from Justin Birch creatively implementing letters into packed action sequences in a way complimentary to the art they accompany, you can hear the clang of swords and call of the crows in each panel. —Bryan Reheil
  • Sanction #1 (Mad Cave Studios): Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the police are corrupt, the Russian government is corrupt, the KGB are everywhere, and they’re all conspiring to cover up a murder. Okay, maybe that last part is a new twist, but with the pen of Ray Fawkes characterizing Russians as cold, standoffish, and full of vodka and cigarettes, no amount of narrative sequencing can make the resultant book truly stand out. I mean, Fawkes’ dialogue does that fun bit where characters talk over one another in a convo of questions and answers to make it feel intrinsically real, but with names like Detective Smirnoff, the stereotypes are killing the vibe. Under Antonio Fuso’s inks, that vibe is distinctly grimy and frigid. I will admit, I did a double take here as Fuso has now fully perfected JOCK’s illustration style and layout sensibilities, which is honestly amazing, but maybe detrimental to Fuso’s own comic identity. Helping Fuso sort out ’87 Russia is Emilio Lecce, who uses radial gradient color holds to brighten the frame and ease compositional eyelines in such a starkly bleak book. An interesting choice made by Lecce is depicting a bar’s interiors as warmer than the main character’s love nest, which seems at odds with the fuck off vibe the bar gives and the welcoming respite the apartment provides. Similarly, letterer Dave Sharpe keeps the overall color mood reduced to this cruddy vibe by using the smallest color tag on captions that layover into the next panel instead of a colorful caption box or non-geometric shape. By reducing word balloons and their tails to their most uniform look, it helps immersion, which is commendable. Overall, I think this book needs a narrative punch-up from the character on the cover that does not appear [except in extreme close-up] in Sanction #1. Maybe then it’ll feel less like a TV movie I’ve seen and more like a $4.99 crime comic. —Beau Q.

The Prog Report

  • 2000AD Prog 2382 (Rebellion Publishing): There were not one but two new stories in this week’s Prog, plus a finale for a story I’ve been enjoying quite a bit. There’s a new Judge Dredd story, which is mostly fine if you like that particular style. But for me the big highlight this week was the other new story, the return of Intestinauts by writer Arthur Wyatt and artist Pye Parr. Parr’s work (fresh of the excellent Petrol Head) is as always a kinetic splash of neon chaos mechanics. It’s so good, and this is a fun start to a new story. I recommend jumping on if you (like me) really liked Petrol Head. As always, you can nab a digital copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance

Read more entries in the weekly Wednesday Comics reviews series!

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