This week’s main review is Second Coming – Trinity #6, the finale of the miniseries from AHOY ComicsPlus, 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!

Second ComingSecond Coming – Trinity #6

Writer: Mark Russell
Layouts: Richard Pace
Finishes: Leonard Kirk
Colors: Andy Troy
Letters: Rob Steen
Publisher: AHOY Comics

Review by Zack Quaintance

Second Coming – Trinity #6 wraps up the latest miniseries from a book and concept that just keeps getting better. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this most recent volume is the best Second Coming story yet, and it’s one that (excitingly) also sets up more for a future miniseries to explore. Essentially, this feels like an all-time great Superman story…that also has Jesus in it, kicking around and teaching lessons that make all the themes more poignant and stronger.

The original premise for Second Coming was a setup where in a Superman analog was roommates with Jesus. Jesus would advocate nonviolence, loving everyone as you loved yourself, etc., while the Superman analog was perhaps just a bit dopier than the usual version of Superman, and far more prone to completely and utterly punch his way out of things. This created a create tension in the first book, one that enabled a really smart and cutting satire that examined both how Jesus’ teachings had been twisted and how we tended to romanticize a guy who could punch his way out of anything.

This latest miniseries has essentially turned that same lens on parenting a super toddler. There’s a lot more going on in these books than just that, but the excellent core of this thing is kind of a question: hey, have you ever thought about how terrifying a super toddler would be? Because it would be truly absolutely terrifying in every way. Infinite power for destruction combined with learning the world, poor motor skills, and childishness. Whereas our hero just wants to raise his kid, what emerges in Second Coming – Trinity a massive threat to the entire world.

What’s perhaps most impressive about the execution of all of this in Second Coming – Trinity is that it’s a book that ends up being cautionary (and deeply sad) without at all feeling cynical. Superman stories that portray the lead character as anything less than a full blessing for humanity have a long history of tipping into cynicism, and you’d think this book would be prone to it, given that the character at the center of it isn’t the paragon of virtue that Superman is. He’s well-intentioned, sure, but he isn’t thoughtful at all, and this causes a lot of problems.

Second Coming

Still, this miniseries really centers that well-intentioned part, which fits well with a story about parenting. You can feel the protagonist’s love for his son, and it makes it all the more heart-rending as it comes into conflict with the best interests of humanity. The artwork in these comics is always fantastic — Richard Pace’s layouts with Leonard Kirk’s finishes and Andy Troy’s colors is just a combination that works — but it’s especially vital for it to convey the tone of what’s happening in these pages. It’s an expert visual achievement to convey the toddler as terrifying but not evil, as dangerous but not bad, and the art here nails it, all while dancing between the visual gags this series has done well from its start.

But in the end what really makes Second Coming – Trinity my favorite volume of this comic yet is the way it wraps up. This may be a spoiler, but in this book our Superman analog essentially makes the same decision his own parents made when he was a baby — to send their only child away for his own good. It’s an idea that is so simple and excellent, I’m shocked a similar story hasn’t been done with Superman proper, and it gives this book one of the most poignant and touching end notes to any comic I’ve read this year.

Verdict: BUY

Tales From The Cave #1

Writers: Keith Frady, Rachel Pinnelas, David Hazan
Artists: Ricardo Cecchi, Marco Tortella, Shane Connery Volk
Colorists: Marco Pelandra, Marcelo Iozzoli, Luca Romano
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios

Review by Ricardo Serrano Denis

Nothing like a good old-fashioned Halloween special to bring in the Fall. Courtesy of Mad Cave Studios, Tales from the Cave brings readers three stories that sprout from three of the publisher’s most popular titles and gives them scary twist or two to embrace the season’s storytelling inclinations. 

The stories include a journey into a selective paradise founded on faith from the world of Battlecats, a pantheon of gods navigating public unrest from people who tire of being treated as mere followers from Hunt. Kill. Repeat., and the search for a healing witch that helps friend and foe alike straight from the pages of Nottingham.

Each story explores the idea of fear and the many ways it can manifest. The Battlecats story, in particular, takes a smart approach to addressing it as a matter of personal faith (not religious). Overcoming one’s own capacity to project darkness and then succumb to it. Hunt. Kill. Repeat’s segment takes to the idea as a discussion on what fear can do to people who don’t understand or don’t agree with powerful figures. This one could’ve been a bit meatier, in terms of theme, but it was a fun time. 

Nottingham’s story shines the brightest by being the book’s darkest. The witch at the center of it carries a strong message on how the fears of shameful and pathetic men can destroy women who have a right to their abilities to use however they see fit. It’s the more Halloween-y of the stories and the most accomplished. 

If there’s one thing that keeps the book from reaching greater heights is that two of the three stories don’t feel all that Halloween. Despite the amazing Jack-o’-lantern cover by Shane Connery Volk, Tales from the Cave doesn’t feel like it captures the Fall season or the horror sensibilities we’ve come to expect from these types of anthologies. 

Regardless, Mad Cave’s season special delivers good storytelling and great art that brings out the most interesting parts of the publisher. It’s also very persuasive promotion for its books, especially Nottingham. Not the Halloween special I was expecting, but one I enjoyed nonetheless. 

Verdict: Buy

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Exorcists Never Die #6 (Mad Cave Studios): Exorcists Never Die concludes its descent with El and Syd finally making it to the auction. After having confronted each other over the previous issues, it’s rewarding seeing the duo with more synergy and it feels earned as they fight their biggest fight yet, together, on one accord. What really works for me across the series is the way writer Steve Orlando weaves a conversation around privilege and accountability through the narrative. Further still, how Syd grows in his understanding of his privilege as compared to El’s struggles for upward mobility is handled with care. Artist Sebastián Píriz hits the action hard, moving from the opening sequence into the auction room. There’s a visual art history nod that was really neat to see as well as a neat visual motif for the big bad simply in the rendering across his form. Throughout the series Píriz has made excellent use of the page space and that continues here as whole pages are filled with details to rest the eye or where great compositions come out of the use of negative space particularly within the action. Everything is tied together by letterer Carlos M. Mangual whose lettering choices give the characters distinctive voices and also really make the moments pop. Exorcists Never Die concludes thoughtful and triumphant, having crafted characters with depth that literally and figuratively go into the depths of their own sins. —Khalid Johnson
  • Sainted Love #1 (Vault Comics): For fans of bara and bears alike, come one, come all to see the sights as written by Steve Orlando and illustrated by Giopota! Behold, a time-hop romp through 20th century gay American pastimes only held back by morally unjust homophobic cultists secretly embedded within the police! Worry not, for the portrayal of homophobic motivations is systemic and organized rather than slur-filled and/or portraying violent acts of hate. Stick around for the speakeasy intrigue and hot-mess relationship between an altruistic time machine inventor and a bare knuckle boxer working towards his true self. The soft, rounded edge of Giopota’s pen imbues each moment with comedic charm and lightheartedness in an easily noir adventure. Giopota renders his flats with soft glows, edge lights, and feathered shadows– this approach helps add shape to his designs stylistically light on hatching and hard rendering techniques. With such simple and effective characterization, the layouts can feel lacking in impact, regardless of compositional depth. This fault is felt doubly so when letterer Simon Bowland & Andworld split short sentences between panels, only connected by thought and ellipsis, which can make for cringe depictions rather than have the intended effect of laying an audio track between shots to increase immersion. Beyond the audio issues, Sainted Love is a feast for romcom addicts hungry for a little gay adventure! —Beau Q.
  • Star Trek – Day of Blood: Shaxs’ Best Day #1 (IDW Publishing): It’s Shax versus fascists in Day of Blood: Shaxs’ Best Day #1 by Ryan NorthDerek Charm, and Clayton Cowles! This one-shot is a tie-in to the ongoing “Day of Blood” event, but California class devotees needn’t fear: you don’t really need any additional context to enjoy this issue. Essentially, this is 40 pages of Shax on a rampage, spraying reddish-pink Klingon blood and throwing both Bat’leths and quips alike at his opponents. Reuniting Jughead and Squirrel Girl’s North and Charm is a nice bonus, and this issue is a nice supplement to the Star Trek: Lower Decks miniseries completed earlier this year (which you can pick up as a TPB right now). While I have a hard time imagining Shaxs’ best day isn’t actually “No Small Parts” or “The Stars at Night,” or at least something involving T’Ana, this series is set before the events of Lower Decks, so I guess I can live with head canoning this as being “Shaxs’ Best Day (So Far).” This issue has a couple of great variant covers by Robby Cook and Chris Fenoglio, and continues the North tradition of including snarky commentary along the bottom of most pages. Now to wait patiently for the announcement of the next Lower Decks miniseries… or, if the Prophets smile upon us, maybe we’ll finally get an ongoing Cali class series. Hey… a gal can dream. Avery Kaplan
  • Stuff of Nightmares: Red Murder #1 (BOOM! Studios): R.L. Stine’s horror anthology title returns with Stuff of Nightmares: Red Murder #1. Written by Stine and drawn by Adam Gorham, the one-shot highlights just what can happen when a successful creation takes on a literal life of its own while its creator fights against obscurity and the powers that left him behind as they took advantage of him. Colors by Francesco Segala, with assists by Gloria Martinelli put the red, as well as other excellent colors, in Red Murder with their work showing just how bloody and cut-throat the world of work-for-hire comics can be to the uninitiated. Jim Campbell’s letters inspire ties to other impactful horror anthologies as we see the flexibility in bouncing between the tale of Red Murder and the bookending segment. What other stories does the Nightmare Keeper have to tell us? —Bryan Reheil

  • Usagi Yojimbo – Ice and Snow #1 (Dark Horse Comics): This is a fun one for my first dip into Usagi, and while its got a pretty straightforward plot, Stan Sakai’s cartooning is killer. It’s great seeing these anthropomorphised warriors running around with such a strong sense of energy to the figures. I was surprised by the brutality of some of the violence here, but it’s a huge strength of the book — especially by the last page reveal. The story is fairly straightforward, and there’s some clunky exposition to set the issue up, but I’ll take it, as it got me pretty well acquainted with this world right from the jump (something more comics could be better at…). Hi-Fi Colour Design comes in with some solid colors as well, doing a tremendous job of keeping pages clean amidst dense linework from Sakai. Overall, this was a fun read that makes me wanna check out more from this long running epic. —Cy Beltran

Read more entries in the Wednesday Comics reviews series!