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New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Jo S: A greater than usual level of ruthlessness was required for this week's final rundown: lots of lovely tasty stuff I've enjoyed previously recurs along with a bouquet of new titles so I've had my work cut out cutting out the chaff. Starting in the Marvel camp, the last issue of Daredevil reached a fascinating conclusion, with something of an end-of-arc feel to it in some ways; the ongoing existence and persistence of crime in Hell's Kitchen forcing Matt Murdock's alter ego to continue, somehow, with his work.

I'm doing my homework currently regarding Silver Surfer: Black. Norrin Radd had yet to register on my radar when issue #1 appeared last month, so I've been catching up with Steve Engelhart's '80s series to give myself a bit of background on this melancholy cosmic baldy: he's not quite a robot or a cyborg, but roughly fits my tinman interests! This new series has a deeply psychedelic vibe; I'm not totally sure I'm into the artwork as yet but I'm keeping an open mind.

DC produce a clutch of goodies this week in the form of the complex and beautiful gem that is Pearl, Tom King's Batman (knowing he will be leaving this earlier than expected has made me oddly more dedicated to the book) and a new Wonder Woman series, Come Back To Me, which I took a look at for our Shipping Forecast for this month.

A raft of independents join the gang this week too: I'm really enjoying Image's Fair Lady; each issue is a freestanding story, akin to a TV detective series, but set in a post-technological world with a medieval societal structure, with added giant cat people - what's not to like? Sonata, Faithless, Lady Mechanika: Sangre and Ride: Burning Desire give me a quadruple dose of strong women with hidden strengths - the latter made a surprise strong start last month and will go in the read-last-and-savour spot in the bedside pile.

The final precious space goes to a surprise continuation: I picked up the first Road Of Bones for Alex Cormack's art, which is such an inextricable part of the appeal of the horrifically dark and gory Sink series, and fully expected from the blurb to find it too grim to deal with, but issue #2 managed to grip me yet more than the first. Cormack's art is quite stunning and Rich Douek's writing, following the almost entirely hopeless journey of three escapees from a nightmarish remote tundral prison, is gut wrenching, in all the good ways.

It's going to be an intense week!

American Gods: Moment of the Storm #4 £3.30
Joe Golem Occult Detective: Conjurors #3 £3.30
Orville: New Beginnings #1 £3.30

Aquaman #50 £4.10
Batman #75 £4.10
Collapser #1 (of 6) £3.30
Justice League #28 £3.30
Nightwing #62 £3.30
Pearl #11 £3.30
Supermans Pal Jimmy Olsen #1 (of 12) £3.30
Teen Titans #32 £3.30
Teen Titans Go #35 £2.50
Wonder Woman: Come Back to Me #1 (of 6) £4.10

Lucifer #10 £3.30

Assassin Nation #5 £3.30
Black Science #41 £3.30
Cyber Force #11 £3.30
Evolution #17 £3.30
Exellence #3 £3.30
Fairlady #4 £3.30
Gideon Falls #15 £3.30
Hit-Girl Season Two #6 £3.30
Infinite Dark #8 £3.30
Little Bird #5 (of 5) £3.30
Outpost Zero #11 £3.30
Port of Earth #12 £3.30
Ride: Burning Desire #2 (of 5) £3.30
Sonata #2 £3.30
Warning #9 £3.30

Age of X-Man: Omega £4.10
Captain Marvel #8 £3.30
Daredevil #8 £3.30
Deadpool #15 £3.30
Domino Hotshots #5 (of 5) £3.30
Giant Sized X-Men #1 Facsimile Edition £4.10
Immortal Hulk #21 £3.30
Invaders #7 £3.30
Loki #1 £3.30
Punisher Annual #1 £4.10
Secret Warps: Ghost Panther Annual #1 £4.10
Silver Surfer Black #2 (of 5) £3.30
Spider-Man: City at War #5 (of 6) £3.30
Spider-Man: Life Story #5 (of 6) £4.10
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #34 £3.30
Star Wars: Tie Fighter #4 (of 5) £3.30
Superior Spider-Man #9 £3.30
True Believers AC: Maximum Carnage #1 £0.90
True Believers AC: Savage Rebirth #1 £0.90
Uncanny X-Men #22 £4.10
Unstoppable Wasp #22 £3.30
X-Force #10 £3.30

2000AD #2140 £2.85
Animosity #22 £3.30
Black Badge #12 £3.30
Blade Runner 2019 #1 £3.30
Bloodborne #13 £3.30
Blossoms 666 #5 (of 5) £3.30
Clue: Candlestick #3 £4.10
Doctor Who: 13th Doctor #10 £3.30
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #7 £3.30
Faithless #4 (of 5) £3.30
Fathom Vol.8 #3 £3.30
Firefly #8 £3.30
Ghost Tree #4 £3.30
GI Joe: A Real American Hero #264 £3.30
Gretel #5 (of 5) £3.30
Hellchild: Blood Money #4 (of 4) £3.30
James Bond: 007 #9 £3.30
Jim Henson Storyteller: Sirens #4 £3.30
Jughead vs. Vampironica #3 £3.30
Jughead: Time Police #2 (of 5) £3.30
Lady Mechanika: Sangre #2 (of 5) £3.30
League of Extraordinary Gents: Tempest #6 £4.10
Life and Death of Toyo Harada #5 (of 6) £4.10
Marvel Action Classics: Captain America £4.10
Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter #4 £3.30
Ragnarok: Breaking of Helheim #1 (of 6) £4.10
Road of Bones #3 (of 5) £3.30
Smooth Criminals #7 (of 12) £3.30
Transformers #9 £3.30
Transformers / Ghostbusters #2 £3.30
Turok #4 £3.30
Usagi Yojimbo #2 £3.30
Vampirella #1 £3.30
Wailing Blade #2 (of 4) £4.10

Black Widow Vol.1: No Restraints Play Tp £14.50
BPRD: Devil You Know Vol.3 Tp £17.99
Die Die Die Vol.1 Tp £17.99
Grumble Vol.1: You're the Dog Now Man Tp £15.99
Gunning for Hits Tp £14.99
Miles Morales Vol.1 Tp £15.99
Ronin Island Vol.1 Tp £10.99
Sandman Vol.10 30th Anniversary Edition Tp £16.99
They Called Us Enemy Tp £17.99
Wolverine: The Long Night Tp £14.50
Wonder Woman Vol.9 Tp £16.99
X-Men Epic Collection - Always Darkest Before Dawn Tp £35.99
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We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

Writer: Justin Jordan
Art: Rebekah Isaacs
Image $3.99

Kenny J: A fantasy Suicide Squad wasn’t something I realised I wanted but Justin Jordan and Rebekah Isaacs’ inaugral issue of Reaver has me sold on the idea. With solid world creation and character building that maybe sometimes lapses into too much exposition, there is just enough plot twisting, politicking and gore to keep me intrigued. There is a large cast of misfits with their own secrets and backstories - the book rushes through their introduction so that we can move forward into the story with future issues. This does leave the person who is presumably going to be our main protagonist needing a little fleshing out but I’m hoping for a rich and full world, the same type that has made many of Jordan’s other books such a success. Isaacs’ art is wonderfully expressive with each one of the misfits completely different to the other and somehow entirely representative of their temperament and hidden backstory. Where Reaver will go and how long it will take to get there I cannot say but the first issue promises the perfect mix of magic, adventure and horror. 7/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Michael Walsh
Dark Horse/DC $3.99

James R: Undoubtedly my most anticipated book of the year so far, the Black Hamme/Justice League crossover from Jeff Lemire and Michael Walsh delivers a great blend: part introduction (for those new to the world of Hammer Farm), part event book, and part Elseworlds tale. Set some point around around the first Black Hammer arc, the exiled heroes of Spiral City find themselves exchanging places with the icons of the Justice League. Lemire wastes no time in setting up the central conceit of the book - how would the Justice League fare if forced to live the mundane existence of the Black Hammer characters, and how in turn would the latter cope with taking up the mantle of heroes on a parallel Earth? Michael Walsh does a great job of giving both worlds a distinct look and feel (the Earth of the DCU is filled with warmer, sunnier tones, Hammer Farm is colder and darker) and his style works really well, giving this a more suitable low-key feel, rather than the big, splashy panels that crossovers normally come with. Lemire's script is intelligent and insightful as always, and I'm immediately intrigued to see where this one goes next. Crossovers are frequently far better in conception than execution but this one is definitely the exception to the rule. An essential read for fans of either of these two teams, and a book that lives up to the promise. 8/10

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Mattia de Lulis
Marvel $3.99

Mike S: As a long standing fan of the Fantastic Four and especially Susan Storm-Richards, I have been chomping at the bit for this title. Throw in writer Mark Waid, whom I usually enjoy, and a beautiful cover by Adam Hughes and I needed no more persuasion. Sue’s role within Marvel’s First Family has, more often than not, been defined through her relationships with others (sister, wife, mother) so it is great to see her given the chance to shine in her own right. But is it any good? In a word: yes. It’s not superb but as an opening issue, it has a lot to praise. The concept of Sue having operated as a spy for Shield is not a new one (see 2014’s S.H.I.E.L.D. #4) but it is an engaging and fitting development given her particular power-set. We have some wonderful exposition at the opening, although in places the plot becomes a little hackneyed – one too many Bondesque clichés possibly. Add to this one of my other favourite Marvel Heroines (of the non-mutant variety) to act as an amoral foil to the highly moral Sue and it’s definitely worth checking out the rest of this mini. A major strength of this title is some stunning artwork from Mattia De Iulis, who does great work here. I particularly loved how he chose to depict invisibility: never an easy task! Do you go with the old-school dotted outline, or do you draw nothing at all? Here we get a depiction of Susan as see through, something that is rendered beautifully, with some stunning images complemented by his use of shade and colour. Based on this opening issue, I will definitely be back for more. Susan is presented with respect, as the intelligent, powerful and authoritative woman that she ought to be: long gone is the weak, fading victim of yester-year (and thank God for that!) Well worth a look: pick it up before it vanishes from the shelves (sorry, couldn’t resist one pun!) 8/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Nick Derington & Dave Stewart
DC $4.99

Matt C: After last week's Superman: Up In The Sky we now have another opportunity to see some material DC deemed as worthy of a 'Walmart exclusive' initially, and whereas the Man of the Steel tale seemed to require some comics literacy to follow it, this opener for the Dark Knight is more straightforward but equally effective on its own terms. Brian Michael Bendis is let loose on the Caped Crusader and it's a supremely confident piece of storytelling, as Batman shifts from superhero mode to detective mode on the trail of the Riddler... or at least that's who he believes is his quarry but things, of course, aren't entirely what they seem. Nick Derrington's art is reminiscent of some of the greats of the last couple of decades with its solid linework and kinetic choreography, distinguishing itself with bold imagery and expressive characterisations. It's not doing anything distinctly original with the Bat, but it's comforting in its level of quality - 80 years on and Batman retains his narrative potency. I'm not sure what the remit was for these Walmart books (surely to pull in new readers?) but so far I'm really impressed by the content and obviously glad those of us way outside the retailer's delivery radius can finally get to see what possible future comics fans may have put in their baskets alongside their weekly groceries. 8/10

Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos, Patrick Gleason & Kev Walker
Marvel $7.99

Mike V: This double-sized issue crams a lot into its 60 pages, starting off right where issue #24 left off with a plot twist and a new villain. He who wishes to be called Kindred has been appearing throughout Spencer’s run on the series; pulling strings, setting up his pieces and just biding his time before ultimately coming face to face with our favourite web head. Mary Jane takes forefront in the story, meeting up with an old rival and finding herself reeled back in to a life she thought she had left behind. Spider-Man provides action and some light-hearted moments in what is mostly a very slow-paced issue with a wealth of exposition, tying up the loose ends of the recent 'Hunted' storyline, MJ being reminded of her past and Kindred again toying with Mysterio. All of these separate plots come to a head about 45 pages in: to me this felt like a natural endpoint but it's followed by two further plotlines and a different feel for the ending. Four different artists contribute to strong visuals, giving a distinct look to each character's plot. A little overlong and hence at a high price, this nevertheless moves the villain's stories along and will bring me back for the next issue. 7/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis & Davd F Walker
Art: Jamal Campbell
DC $3.99

Jo S: Issue #6 rounds up the first arc of this absolute delight of a comic book, with the cover and the closing tagline both pleasingly seating this superb new character smack in the middle of the DCU. The series as a whole has been Naomi's origin story, and this final episode (for now) ties up a couple of loose ends before starting a whole bundle of new ones. Bendis and Walker manage here to create a really new, fresh character, yet one fully rooted in DC comic book lore. Naomi's powers blazed into life at the end of issue #5 and here she deals with the attention that this event drew, whilst friend Annabelle handles explaining to her family and protectors the when, who and why of how she has vanished. Jamal Campbell's art is magnificent - from huge world-building splash pages, through an arc-lightning strewn battle, to the unbearable anxiety vivid on the tear-streaked face of a mother whose child is missing from this Earth - he captures both complex emotions and panoramic detail adeptly. Admittedly, I needed a couple of read-throughs to fully grasp the story; a lot is packed in to this final episode and I wondered whether it might have benefited from the space of a further issue to expand a little more but the result is action-packed and engagingly structured and, I would argue, an unmissable start to what could turn out to be one of the best additions to the DC universe in years. 8/10
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New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

James R: As we move through the summer months, it's another week where DC have got a firm grip on my wallet; they've got a slew of great books incoming. Starting with the obvious, it's the next instalment in Tom King's superb run on Batman (you know the deal by now) and it's the same as regards Joëlle Jones and her great work on Catwoman. Not everyone was as impressed as me with Event Leviathan, but I'm certainly looking forward to seeing where the espionage-heavy event from Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev goes next. Speaking of Bendis, I'll also be getting Batman Universe #1: following on from Tom King's Superman book (Up In The Sky) this was another Walmart exclusive, which is all well and good but for those of us marooned on the European side of the Atlantic, it's great that we can finally read these blockbuster titles.

Over at Image, the standout title for me is the next issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Criminal: Brubaker is having a majestic 2019, with Criminal returning better than ever, and his collaboration with Nicolas Winding Refn (Too Old To Die Young) has proved to be essential TV viewing. In addition to the regular issue, this week sees the release of the collected Bad Weekend story - I obviously picked this up as individual issues, but this collected edition is a 'director's cut' - with additional scenes added to the tale of skulduggery in the comics industry. I'd normally baulk at such a purchase, but this is the sublime Criminal, and it's a collection worthy of a place on my creaking bookshelves!

Best of the week though? There's only one possible answer for me - it's finally time for the Black Hammer/Justice League crossover! I am a Jeff Lemire superfan, and I love the DCU: seeing the heroes of Black Hammer Farm meeting the iconic heroes who part-inspired them is fanboy heaven for me, and it will be the first thing I read after I pick up my pull-list from Paradox.

She Could Fly: Lost Pilot #4 (of 5) £3.30

Batman #74 £3.30
Batman and the Outsiders #2 £3.30
Batman Universe #1 (of 6) £4.10
Catwoman #13 £3.30
Detective Comics #1007 £3.30
Event Leviathan #2 (of 6) £3.30
Flash #74 £3.30
Hawkman #14 £3.30
Justice League Odyssey #11 £3.30
Naomi #6 £3.30
Red Hood Outlaw #36 £3.30
Supergirl #32 £3.30
Superman #13 £3.30
Wonder Twins #6 (of 6) £3.30
Wonder Woman #74 £3.30
Young Justice #7 £3.30

House of Whispers #11 £3.30

Bitter Root Red Summer Special £4.90
Criminal #6 £3.30
Gogor #3 £3.30
Oblivion Song #17 £3.30
Outer Darkness #8 £3.30
Reaver #1 £3.30
Unearth #1 £3.30
Unnatural #11 (of 12) £3.30

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and X-Tracts #5 £3.30
Amazing Spider-Man #25 £6.50
Avengers #21 £3.30
Black Cat #2 £3.30
Champions #7 £3.30
Invisible Woman #1 (of 5) £3.30
Ironheart #8 £3.30
Marvel Tales Captain America #1 £6.50
Miles Morales Spider-Man #8 £3.30
Savage Sword of Conan #7 £3.30
Secret Warps Weapon Hex Annual #1 £4.10
Star Wars #68 £3.30
Star Wars: AoR – Captain Phasma #1 £3.30
Symbiote Spider-Man #4 (of 5) £3.30
Thor #15 £3.30
True Believers Absolute Carnage: Carnage #1 £0.90
True Believers Absolute Carnage: Venom vs. Carnage #1 £0.90
Venom #16 £3.30
War of the Realms Omega £4.10
Wolverine and Captain America: Weapon Plus #1 £4.10
Wolverine vs Blade Special #1 £4.90
X-Men #1: Facsimile Edition £3.30

2000AD #2139 £2.85
Belle: Oath of Thorns #1 £3.30
Bettie Page Unbound #2 £3.30
Care Bears #1 (of 3) £3.30
Fallen World #3 (of 5) £3.30
Ghosted in LA #1 £3.30
Go Go Power Rangers #21 £3.30
James Bond: Origin #11 £3.30
Jim Henson: Beneath Dark Crystal #11 (of 12) £3.30
Marvel Action: Black Panther #2 £3.30
Morning in America #5 £3.30
Oberon #5 £3.30
Orphan Age #4 £3.30
Red Sonja Birth of the She-Devil #2 £3.30
Robotech #22 £3.30
Second Coming #1 £3.30
Shades of Magic #7 £3.30
Six Million Dollar Man #5 £3.30
Strangelands #1 £3.30
Watch Dogs #1 £4.90
Xena Warrior Princess #4 £3.30

Bad Weekend HC £14.99
Books of Magic Vol.1: Moveable Type Tp £14.99
Genesis One Poppy GN £22.99
Grass Kings Vol.1 Tp £13.50
Murder Falcon Tp £17.99
New Mutants Epic Collection - Demon Bear Saga Tp £35.99
Regular Show: 25 Years Later Tp £12.99
Stiletto Tp £13.99
Swamp Thing: Roots of Terror Deluxe HC £15.99
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We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Image $3.99

Mike S: Only last month I was looking forward with excitement to the ongoing tales of a Rick Grimes-free world of The Walking Dead and then BAM – be careful what you wish for! I get the vision of the Rick-less world I wanted and then... nothing, as Kirkman finishes his tale on his own terms, completely out of the blue. Kind of fitting for a title that has pulled no punches in the surprising twists and turns it has taken over the last 15 years. But is it any good? Well, in my humble opinion, not only is it good but it is wonderful! Without giving too much away, we jump forward some considerable time and we truly get to see the legacy of Rick Grimes in creating a new world order. We drop in on all of the major characters (and a few surprises) of this mammoth run and see how they fit into the complex patchwork world that has been created in the image of the old wild west. In a narrative that is framed by an adult Carl telling a story, we encounter many of our favourites in their new roles and positions, and the issue leaves us with a warm feeling as we see the new future ahead for mankind. Obviously there are walkers – but their presence acts only as a reminder of what the true focus of this title has always been: humanity. Thus, while walkers feature and are dispatched, they serve as a catalyst for further character development and world building in an issue that is beautifully crafted, tightly structured and written with great poignancy without mawkish sentiment. Added to this, Adlard turns in some of his finest art to date, adding some beautifully emotive work to complement Kirkman’s tone and intention. The Walking Dead has never been the story of a zombie apocalypse: it has always been a tale of humanity, the triumph of the human spirit and how high mankind could aspire to be in the face of overwhelming adversity and, as such, this issue serves as the perfect conclusion to such an ambitious and sweeping tale. A truly memorable and epic saga with a surprising but perfect ending. Now to go back and re-read the whole run all over again! 10/10

Writer: Tom King
Art: Andy Kubert, Sandra Hop & Brad Anderson
DC $4.99

Matt C: We've seen Tom King's take on Superman via cameo appearances in his Batman run and a starring role in Heroes In Crisis and, while all that gave an indication of what he could do with the character, anyone outside of driving distance of a Walmart last year (where the five-issue Superman Giant was exclusively available) hasn't had the opportunity to see the writer let the Man of Steel fly into the spotlight. Inevitably, we're now getting the chance (DC aren't going to leave money on the table) and - perhaps also inevitably - it's rather brilliant. It tackles a subject that's been broached many times before, namely Superman's inability to be everywhere at once, but it does so in a  deeply affecting manner due to the way King paces the emotional beats and how Kubert gives substantial feeling and energy to the imagery. It efficiently gets to the core of the character, both the superheroic persona and the man who puts on the glasses to be with Lois. It's a hugely confident slice of storytelling, and if King wants to move onto another icon for a long stretch when he's done with the Dark Knight, then I can see him be entirely capable of taking Kal-El to new heights. 9/10

Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Matteo Scalera & Marcelo Maiolo
Image $3.99

Mike V: When I saw this amongst the weekly new releases with Mark Millar's name attached, it was more than enough reason for me to give this issue a go. The first page of this issue was a surprise: it’s a story based in the future, millions of light years away from Earth, but it includes a huge '80s reference to a famous singer. As the story unfolds this becomes the norm, with '80s references and fashion for most of the population of this 'world' where, initially, we follow the separate paths of two criminals and their crew/accomplices, until those paths eventually cross. It screams classic Millar, drawing your sympathy for the two main characters and connecting you to the world he is creating. Scalera’s artwork mostly complements Millar's craft very well. The action scenes look excellent and there is definitely an influence from Japanese anime fights present here. Overall I really like what the creative team have set out to do with this six issue miniseries and the debut did enough for me to pick up the remaining issues. 8/10

Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Mike Perkins & Paul Mounts
DC $3.99

Jo S: As Matt mentioned in his On The Pull piece last week, Greg Rucka writes strong women like no one else, and I picked this up on Wednesday hoping that his skills would be fully brought to bear on a character who has previously been so much in her male counterpart's shadow that, even when she had her own solo book, it was always pre-titled 'Superman's Girlfriend'… In more recent days, of course, dear reader, she married him (Clark Kent, not Greg Rucka) and this book opens partly in a bang-up-to-date political horror show but also in an atmosphere of pious judgement, directed almost solely at Lois Lane, following a public kiss with Superman. Rucka achieves everything I'd hoped for in this and more: Lane is, of course, smart, sassy, dogged and oblivious to unnecessary social graces, and she's flawed, as so many of Rucka's characters are, she's impetuous and stubborn and brilliantly dismissive, and she's keeping secrets too, whilst also trying with all the skills she possesses to root out the secrets of the powerful and corrupt. Rucka's satire on the current White House incumbents is far from funny and pulls no punches, tackling the separation of immigrant children from their parents and Russian connections: all issues into which Lane throws herself completely and without hesitation. Clark Kent is written perfectly as a supporting character here, a gently concerned husband - protector, yes, but with balance, cautioning without holding her back. Mike Perkins' artwork works hard, darkly gritty as appropriate, bold and elegant at times, nicely awkward when needed too. His incarnation of Clark is excellent, the way this giant man stoops slightly to listen to his wife, it's quite beautiful - and, wow, the shower scene… This new series is Greg Rucka doing his thing, with consummate skill, writing a powerful female lead and an intriguing story - exactly what I'd hoped for. 8/10

Writer: Gerard Way & Jeremy Lambert
Art: James Harvey
DC $3.99

Kenny J: Doom Patrol returns after Gerard Way's initial twelve issue run and it's as weird and wonderful as it has ever been. This is both a blessing and a curse for this new volume. Its characters are unlike anything you'll read elsewhere but the fact that this is a first issue means there is an over-reliance on recap boxes: fine when you're referencing events in another issue but much less effective when discussing vast metaphysical ideas. Once the introductions are out of the way it's back to the superheroing as the team travel to another world to tackle a rather literal take on the book's title, an amusing idea though not one that has quite enough depth to sustain the second half of the story, mainly being used as a MacGuffin to introduce a new power set to one of the characters. James Harvey's art excels when the script calls for a high level of design, the very first page being perfect example of this; it is worth pausing and taking pages like this in as they often reveal more on repeat viewings. However, where characters have few identifying traits his line is a little under-detailed from panel to panel. As a first issue of a new era this book does a great job in setting out its direction but as a long term fan of both the characters and the creative team I found it a little underwhelming. 6/10

Writers: Jason Aaron & Dennis Hallum
Art: Stephen Green & Rico Renzi
Image $3.99

James R: As a self-confessed science fiction fan, I'll always look at a new SF series, and I was especially keen to see what Jason Aaron would bring to the table, given his track record on Thor. Here he shares writing duties with Dennis Hallum to bring us a story that (so far) uses space as a backdrop rather than as the driving force behind the narrative. The story features father and son Gil and Kadyn Starx trekking across the boundless void on a delivery mission which is beset by disaster, leading to the two becoming separated. Kadyn is whisked away by two curious aliens, displaying some remarkable new skills after the disaster, and Gil begins his desperate pursuit, desperate not to lose his son. This is a tale that could have been set at any time and place - the high seas of the 18th century, or the vast open highways of America in the 20th century - the story feels timeless. It will be interesting to see where it goes next; will there be unexpected turns, or will it follow a classic chase and rescue story? The art from Stephen Green feels vibrant and fresh, and gives the book an immediate character. I can't help but compare this to Image's top science fiction titles in the shape of Saga and Descender/Ascender - whereas those books grabbed me immediately, I still have some reservations about Sea Of Stars. However, it did what all good first chapters should do - make me want to come back for issue #2. Hopefully space is definitely the place for an epic adventure. 7/10
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New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Matt C: We've come a long way since Lois Lane's first solo book required a clarifying title (she's Superman's girlfriend!) and you can guarantee a talent as well regarded as Greg Rucka (scribe of my current favourite ongoing series, Lazarus) won't be placing her in the kind of madcap adventures favoured during her first long running series' heyday in the 1960s. It's been pointed out numerous times before that Rucka is very good at writing female-centric series, perhaps because he doesn't pander to tokenism and instead concentrates on great characterisation and smart storytelling. It's a twelve-issue series: Rucka has proven he can liven things up in the DC Universe on a number of occasions, and this should be another such occasion. If you want to see what Lois' 'him indoors' is up to, we finally get to see what was in those Stateside Walmart-exclusive Superman books. In Superman: Up In The Sky, those of us whose nearest Walmart is several thousand miles away get an opportunity to see Tom King in control of the character.

Image has a new series from Jason Aaron to keep us occupied while we're wondering what's happened to Southern Bastards and The Goddamned. Co-written with Dennis Hallum and illustrated by Stephen Green, Sea Of Stars appears to be sci-fi with hope and heart in amongst the adventuring, which is something we could all use every once in a while.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #11 £3.30
World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia £3.30

Adventures of the Super Sons #12 (of 12) £3.30
Batgirl #36 £3.30
Batman / TMNT III #3 (of 6) £3.30
DCeased #3 (of 6) £3.30
Deathstroke #45 £3.30
Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1 £3.30
Female Furies #6 (of 6) £3.30
Green Lantern #9 £3.30
Harley Quinn #63 £3.30
Justice League #27 £3.30
Lois Lane #1 (of 12) £3.30
Superman: Up in the Sky #1 (of 6) £4.10
Wild Storm #24 £3.30

Dreaming #11 £3.30

Analog #6 £3.30
Birthright #37 £3.30
Man-Eaters #10 £3.30
Postal: Deliverance #1 £3.30
Section Zero #4 (of 6) £3.30
Space Bandits #1 (of 6) £3.30
Thumbs #2 (of 5) £4.10
Walking Dead #192 Commemorative Ed £3.30
Walking Dead #193 £3.30

Aero #1 £3.30
Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #5 (of 5) £3.30
Captain America Invaders: Bahamas Triangle #1 (of 1) £4.10
Cosmic Ghost Rider - Destroys Marvel History #5 (of 6) £3.30
Dead Man Logan #9 (of 12) £3.30
Fantastic Four: Prodigal Sun #1 £4.10
Immortal Hulk #20 £3.30
Ms. Marvel Annual #1 £4.10
New Mutants #98 Facsimile Edition £3.30
Old Man Quill #7 (of 12) £3.30
Punisher #13 £3.30
Savage Avengers #3 £3.30
Secret Warps Soldier Supreme Annual #1 £4.10
Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #10 £3.30
Star Wars: AoR – Finn #1 £3.30
Star Wars: Target Vader #1 (of 6) £3.30
True Believers Absolute Carnage: Carnage USA #1 £0.90
True Believers Absolute Carnage She-Venom £0.90
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #46 £3.30
Uncanny X-Men #21 £3.30

2000AD #2138 £2.85
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #6 £3.30
Charlie's Angels vs Bionic Woman #1 £3.30
Descendent #3 £3.30
Giant Days #52 £3.30
Ignited #2 £3.30
Knights of the Dinner Table #265 £4.90
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #79 £3.30
Red Sonja #6 £3.30
Sonic the Hedgehog #18 £3.30
Star Trek: Year Five #3 £3.30
Tank Girl Full Colour Classics #4 £5.70
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #95 £3.30
Transformers #8 £3.30
Zorro: Legendary Adventures Book 2 #3 £3.30

Crimson Lotus Tp £17.99
Joker Tp £13.99
Monstress Vol.1 HC £44.99
Smooth Criminals Vol.1 Tp £10.99
Suicide Squad: Katana Revenge of Kobra Tp £14.99
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We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

Writer: David M Booher
Art: Drew Zucker and Vittorio Astone
IDW $3.99

Jo S: Booher sets out the makings of a classical mono-myth here, with a tiny, pure-hearted, pot-bellied, armoured hero from a downtrodden people setting out on an honourable quest into unknown lands, seeking truth and a way to save his love from a miserable death and an escape from the slavery imposed by monstrous ruling beasts. Canto, looking very much like he was designed as a Pop-head Sir Lancelot, has, like all his people, a clockwork heart replacing his original and yet he loves, hopes and cares for others, as well as a knack of listening and remembering handy information which keeps him and his love alive. Drew Zucker's art is lovely here: making robot faces or characters with full masks emote clearly is a challenge, as is making leads characters distinguishable when all are wearing matching armour, and he achieves both of these adeptly, making little metal people look almost cuddly. The knee-high perspective of landscapes and domineering slavers adds to the feeling of being a very small entity in a huge confusing world. Booher's use of story within story is not new but works nicely here as inspiration for our hero to strike out, and the promise that Canto and his love will make a new ending together gives me hope that this will twist and turn somewhat away from a standard story path. 7/10

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Lee Bermejo
DC $6.99

Mike S: Admittedly, Batman is a character who is usually a bit hit and miss with me, depending on the creative team and (in all honesty) the villains they choose to use, but this is simply stunning! Visually it is without comparison and there simply are not enough superlatives to throw at it. Bermejo is a master in his field, creating a world that is both visceral and simultaneously dream-like in places. His characterisation is outstanding and the sheer depth of detail (and Easter eggs!) that goes into the construction of his work is breathtaking! The art has a cinematic scale that warrants repeated re-reads in order to catch all of the many, many details. Azzarello is certainly no slouch either and while the writing might veer into the obscure at times, I loved it and thought it worked well within the story being told. After all, in a tale about the blurring of the boundaries between reality and illusion, it is obviously going to become a little obscure and thus open to a range of interpretations, especially considering the ambiguous natures of many of the magical characters at play in the title. And herein lies another attraction to me: it’s refreshing to see Batman interact with characters who don’t usually fall into his orbit: Enchantress, Swamp Thing, Constantine and Zatanna – and I do love some of DC’s magical characters. If there is any criticism, it is that some die-hard fans might question the depiction of Batman primarily as a victim, but for me that was a major attraction. I am a little tired of the ‘always in control, all-knowing Batman’ of late. Now I just need to dig out the first two issues and relive the whole epic tale in one sitting to fully immerse myself into this realm. A wonderful, dark and gothic start to the DC Black Label banner: here’s hoping what comes next is equally strong! 10/10

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Marvel $5.99

Matt C: It's been loud, it's been brash, it's often been incoherent, and it has frustrated with various plot threads being dealt with in peripheral titles but, somehow, in spite of all these things, it has managed to sustain a level of entertainment that moves it closer to the win column than not. When it pulls focus amongst the stürm und drang, so the characters get their chance to shine, it works effectively, Aaron's experience and expertise at Asgardian pomposity helping to propel the story forward into a place where the main players are centre stage to facilitate the resolution. But more than that, and probably the key component in keeping this series a cut above stagnant event-by-numbers, is Russell Dauterman's artwork. Energetic and intense, it feels like the pages are alive with thunder and lightning, Matthew Wilson's colours exploding the imagery with flame and fury. It's an accomplished tour de force and while it may not achieve the emotional resonance of the Jane Foster Thor story arc, by the final page it's proven itself just about worthy. 7/10

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Image $3.99

James R: This issue of Ascender is an acme example of storytelling. Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen split the narrative between two desperate escapes: the first is a flashback, showing us Andy and Effie's doomed flight from the sinister forces of Mother, and the second is set in the present, with Andy and his daughter Mila trying to flee the planet Sampson. Lemire's script is beautifully balanced between the two, imbuing the issue with both a sense of urgency and tragedy that had me totally hooked. Incredibly, Dustin Nguyen's exceptional art is getting even better - I love how he's illustrating the more fantastical aspects of this new story (the arrival of a giant early in this issue was a total highlight). He's also great at conveying the human emotion that is the hallmark of every Jeff Lemire story, and the two creators continue to craft something unique and compelling together. Lemire and Dustin Nguyen are making magic, and this is scintillating stuff. 9/10
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Every month we spend an evening scouring the pages of the latest issue of Previews and pick the titles we are looking forward to the most. This month it's the June issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in August 2019.

Writer: Various
Art: Various
Marvel $9.99

Matt C: Marvel clearly saw DC celebrating in style as both Action Comics and Detective Comics reached their thousandth issues and thought, "We'll have some of that!" The 1000th issue selling point makes no sense here in any other context than thumbing their nose at the competition (why not just call it Marvel 80th Anniversary Special or something?) but I guess some wise folks in the marketing department felt this was the best way to maximise sales. What really sells it is the people involved, and in all honesty they could call it Marvel Wants All Your Money #1 and we'd happily oblige with the talent on board for this issue. I can't list them all here, but a selection of names includes Neil Gaiman, Chris Claremont, J. Michael Straczynski, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Walt Simonson, Alex Ross, Roy Thomas and Jeff Lemire, which should give you an idea of the quality of creators the House of Ideas have roped in. Exactly how much space they'll each get to do their thing is unclear but there's bound to be some golden nuggets in here. And if not, it appears Marvel Comics #1001 is coming out in September...

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Ramon Villalobos
DC $3.99

Kenny J: Wildstorm’s answer to the X-men gets a new book and a new creative team, namely Warren Ellis and Ramon Villalobos. There are few teams that seem so closely tied to their creators' styles as this one - Jim Lee’s original run and Joe Casey’s from the early 2000s are worlds apart - so I’m very interested to see what Ellis and Villalobos produce. I thoroughly enjoyed Ellis’ run on The Wild Storm and the universe at large but this has been promised as a far more action packed title. Villalobos’s art seems perfect for a book like this, reminding me as it does of New X-men era Frank Quitely - so much so that he worked on the E Is For Extinction Secret Wars tie-in; a strange and tangled story that I enjoyed mostly due to his art. Let’s hope he brings that level of brilliance to the Wildstorm Universe.

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Mike Deodato Jr
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: Well, of course I’m getting this - the name ‘Jeff Lemire’ would guarantee a purchase from me, but beyond it being the latest work from the Canadian comics king, it’s a great idea. Back when What If? from Marvel was in its halcyon days, one of its most celebrated titles was ‘What if Conan the Barbarian was transported to modern day New York?’ Now in 2019, Jeff Lemire is putting his own spin on that question with Beserker Unbound. Lemire describes it as having “magic, action, and blood, but it also has heart. And it’s not at all what it first appears to be.” As if that wasn’t cool enough, the art is by the great Mike Deodato Jr. in his first project since leaving Marvel. The previews looks superb (as you’d expect from Deodato) and I genuinely can’t wait to get my hands on this one and unleash my inner barbarian! 

Writer: Anthony Cleveland
Art: Jeferson Sadzinski
Mad Cave Studios $3.99

Andy H: One of the best things about searching through the pages of Previews each month is finding something a little bit different and independent publisher Mad Cave Studios caught my attention this time round. Show's End is set in 1920s Georgia, where a young runaway seeks refuge in a travelling show. Amongst the freaks and sideshow attractions she is deemed to be 'too ordinary' but we're promised that she is 'hiding a secret more freakish than anyone could ever imagine!' I know little of Mad Cave and even less of creators Anthony Cleveland and Jeferson Sadzinski but the preview pages look promising and have intrigued me enough to give this title a fair crack of the ringmaster's whip. 

Writer: Christian Ward
Art: Christian Ward, Sami Kivelä & Dee Cunnife
Dark Horse $3.99

Jo S: A bolt of anticipatory lightning zips down my spine these days when Christian Ward's name pops up on a creator list and this one is no exception. A wacky twist on Al Capone and his world of gangsters turns the wise guys into wizards, by means of a magical drug which confers otherworldly powers on the mobster consuming it. Ward is the writer here, and is due to share art duties with Sami Kivelä, whose stylish work on Abbott was, for me, the best part of the book, along with colourist Dee Cunnife who lights up the blood-streaked dark of the Redneck series. Will sharp suits and Tommy guns in violin cases be replaced with wizard robes and wands? Let's hope not!

Writer: Leah Williams
Art: David Baldeon
Marvel $3.99

Kenny J: If you can’t get enough of Deadpool and you like your comics postmodern then it doesn’t get more fourth wall breaking than Gwenpool, the amalgam of Wade Wilson and Spidey’s long dead girlfriend. For me she was one of the stand out stars of Kelly Thompson’s recently wrapped West Coast Avengers. Now, under the pen of author and relatively new comics writer Leah Williams and Domino artist David Baldeon, Gwendolyn Poole is referencing the events of Civil War with a wink and a nod as she attempts to unmask Spider-Man. With their convoluted relationship and Parker’s strained friendship with Deadpool, I’m hoping for in-jokes galore.

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Kris Anka
Image $4.99

Matt C: I'm a bit picky with fantasy stuff - it's not generally my genre of choice - and quite possibly I would have passed this by when flicking through Previews if it wasn't for the name at the top of the credits: Chip Zdarsky. He's been on fire over at Marvel these past few months with Daredevil, Invaders and Spider-Man: Life Story, so why doubt that he can bring the same storytelling abilities to a tale of war and adventure in a fantastical realm? Kris Anka looks like he'll add a melancholic tinge to the proceedings based on the preview art I've seen, and with just two over-sized issues to pick up, this seems like a great opportunity to let Zdarsky take us somewhere a little different from where he has lead us of late.

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Dan Mora
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Andy H: I've always loved a good story that stems from Arthurian myth. Knights of the Round Table, Merlin and good old King Arthur himself all fascinate me and Camelot 3000 remains one of my favourite comic series to this day so I won't miss the chance to check out this new miniseries from Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora. All good stories in this genre need a keeper/guardian to let us know when the brown stuff hits the fan. Granny and ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire is such a person and when an unnamed evil threatens England she's out of the retirement home faster than Steve McQueen in The Great Escape! With the help of her grandson Duncan (who, of course, is oblivious to Granny's kick-ass past) and a cache of monster hunting weapons, the battle to save the country begins. I'm looking forward to see Gillen's take on the Arthurian legend and Dan Mora is a great artist to bring this world of myth and magic to life. As a bonus, this first part is an oversized issue too.
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New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Andy H: This weeks pull-list starts with a bit of a blast from the past. It's been a tough few years for Wolverine - being killed off obviously didn't help - but nostalgia-laced one-shot Wolverine: Exit Wounds, by a trio of classic Wolvie writers, should mean we see a return to form for my favourite clawed mutant. Chris Claremont and Larry Hama are on hand, hopefully to remind us why Logan really is the best at what he does, and it will be a real joy to see some Sam Kieth art back on Wolverine.

Need some Spider-Verse action in your life? Then the Spider-Man Annual #1 is bringing home the bacon. Oh yes, it's a Spider-Ham special! Peter Porker is back and must save the multiverse. I'm looking forward to some ham-tastic puns and it's a great start when you know Ducktor Doom is involved. Then there's little something new from IDW in the shape of Canto #1. This glorious looking miniseries is about a race of people who once had hearts but now they have clocks. Intrigued? I certainly am.

Batman: Damned #3 is out at last! I may have forgotten what has gone on before but a quick catch up and the promise of more Lee Bermejo artwork means the six month wait should be worth it. A couple of comics that fit into the 'oh why not' category finish my list: Spawn #298 just for the cover, as Todd McFarlane parodies his own Amazing Spider-Man covers, which still look great, and Ghostbusters/Transformers #1. I'm not generally a Transformers fan, but what a way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of both franchises. This is taking crossing the streams to the next level!

Avatar: Tsu Teys Path #5 £3.30
Bad Luck Chuck #4 (of 4) £3.30
Fight Club 3 #6 £3.30
Stranger Things: Six #2 (of 4) £3.30

Action Comics #1012 £3.30
Batman Beyond #33 £3.30
Batman Damned #3 (of 3) £5.70
Detective Comics #1006 £3.30
Dial H for Hero #4 (of 6) £3.30
Flash #73 £3.30
Justice League Dark #12 £3.30
Martian Manhunter #6 (of 12) £3.30
Silencer #18 £3.30
Terrifics #17 £3.30
Wonder Woman #73 £3.30

Books of Magic #9 £3.30
High Level #5 £3.30

Ascender #3 £3.30
Beauty #27 £3.30
Deadly Class #39 £3.30
Isola #8 £3.30
Kick-Ass #15 £3.30
Redneck #21 £3.30
Spawn #298 £2.50
Weatherman Vol.2 #1 £3.30

Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #5 (of 5) £3.30
Amazing Spider-Man #24 £3.30
Avengers #20 £3.30
Black Panther #13 £3.30
Conan the Barbarian #7 £3.30
Doctor Strange #15 £3.30
Fantastic Four #11 £3.30
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #8 £3.30
Magnificent Ms. Marvel #4 £3.30
Major X #6 (of 6) £3.30
Marvel Comics Presents #6 £4.10
Marvel Rising #4 (of 5) £3.30
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #44 £3.30
Mr & Mrs X #12 £3.30
Runaways #22 £3.30
Spider-Man Annual #1 £4.10
Spider-Man Reptilian Rage #1 £3.30
Star Wars: AoR – Darth Vader #1 £3.30
Star Wars: Galaxys Edge #3 (of 5) £3.30
Superior Spider-Man #8 £3.30
Thanos #3 (of 6) £3.30
Thor #14 £3.30
True Believers: Marvel Tails featuring
Starring Peter Porker #1 £0.90
True Believers Spider-Man vs Mysterio #1 £0.90
War of the Realms #6 (of 6) £4.90
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #4 £3.30
War of the Realms: Punisher #3 (of 3) £3.30
War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3 £3.30
Wolverine: Exit Wounds #1 (of 1) £4.10
X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction #2 (of 2) £4.90

2000AD #2137 £2.85
Angel #2 £3.30
Avant-Guards #6 (of 12) £3.30
Battlecats Vol.2 #2 £3.30
Battlestar Galactica: Twilight Command #5 £3.30
Bloodshot: Rising Spirit #8 £3.30
Bone Parish #10 (of 12) £3.30
Canto #1 (of 6) £3.30
Crow / Hack Slash #1 £3.30
Dark Red #4 £3.30
Dick Tracy Forever #3 £3.30
Eve Stranger #2 £3.30
Ghost Tree #3 £3.30
Glow #3 £3.30
Goon #3 £3.30
Grimm Fairy Tales #29 £3.30
KISS: The End #3 £3.30
Life is Strange #6 £3.30
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #40 £3.30
My Little Pony: Spirit of the Forest #2 (of 3) £3.30
Nobody is in Control #2 £3.30
Oz: Heart of Magic #3 (of 5) £3.30
Punk Mambo #3 (of 5) £3.30
Punks Not Dead: London Calling #5 (of 5) £3.30
Rick & Morty #51 £3.30
Road of Bones #2 (of 4) £3.30
Shades of Magic #6 £3.30
Soulfire Vol.8 #1 £3.30
Transformers / Ghostbusters #1 £3.30

Interceptor vol.1 Tp £15.99
Old Lady Harley Tp £14.99
Sandman Vol.9: 30 Anniversary Edition Tp £16.99
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Matt C: My eldest son is back with his thoughts on one of his favourite superheroes, and is probably exactly the right age to tap into the resurgence of interest in the character across various media...

Harvey C: I first learnt about Shazam when my dad bought me a graphic novel about the character. I read more about him and found out he first appeared in Whiz Comics in 1940, which is even older than my grandad! He used to be called Captain Marvel but it was changed to Shazam when Marvel Comics got the name.

I like the character because he's funny and he has a cool origin story. When Billy Batson says the magic word he turns into Shazam. He has amazing superpowers like flying, electricity powers and super-speed. He's my second favourite DC superhero after Batman and makes me laugh when I'm reading the comics. He even makes jokes in front of super-villains like Doctor Sivana, Mister Mind and Black Adam.

There are a few stories I've read about him now. I read the graphic novel which is by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Billy Batson lives with a foster family. He goes to a school with his foster brothers and sisters. Geoff Johns makes really good Shazam comics with cool stories and characters. Gary Frank did amazing artwork and I love his pictures of Shazam and Black Adam because they look really tricky to draw.

My dad also got me some older comics at a comics convention. I have Power Of Shazam #1-6. The series is about Billy Batson after he got given powers from a wizard called Shazam. He was still called Captain Marvel in those comics. He still had the same origin in these comics with a wizard lives in a place called the Rock of Eternity who has been searching for a worthy person to own his powers. The wizard gives Billy the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury.

I'm now reading the Shazam comic that comes out every month, which Geoff Johns writes too. Dale Eaglesham draws these ones and his art is great. The cover of the first issue I have is by Gary Frank though. The story in this series is called 'Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands'. It's about when Billy and his foster brothers and sisters go back to the Rock of Eternity and go to a place called The Station. They go on a train and go to a land called The Funlands where a person called King Kid lives. The Shazam family makes friends but later King Kid turns against them. 

Recently a movie came out about the character and I would recommend watching it because it's really hilarious. It has a lot of the story from the graphic novel and Billy gets his powers from the wizard but in a different place. Doctor Sivana is the main villain in it, my dad told me the Rock might be Black Adam in the next one. Zachary Levi plays Shazam and he's really awesome, just like the character in the comics. It has lots of other characters and all the actors are really good. If you haven't seen the film then have a look at the trailer because it will make you want to watch it. You can buy the DVD or Blu-ray by the 12th of August which is two days before my birthday. I might ask my dad to get it for my birthday!

SHAZAM! - Official Trailer 2 - Only In Theaters April 5 - YouTube
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We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

Writer: Frank Miller
Art: John Romita Jr., Dani Miki & Alex Sinclair
DC $7.99

James R: Superman and his origin story are the essential stuff of modern mythology. Even people who don't read comics are familiar with the story of the last son of Krypton, rocketed to safety to a new home from a dying planet, to be raised by childless and inherently good farm folk. The challenge then, is how to retell this story so it seems fresh and dynamic. After all, there have been some pretty stellar efforts down through the years: John Byrne's Man Of Steel miniseries, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's  Superman For All Seasons, and perhaps best of all Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely managed it in a single page of the superlative All-Star Superman. Frank Miller certainly has the pedigree to pull it off - Batman: Year One remains one of the greatest Bat-tales ever, and ended up providing the DNA for Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. He's also got a dynamite artist in the shape of John Romita Jr., (whose art is perfectly served by the oversized Black Label format here) so, how super is this new series? On the strength of issue #1, it's disappointingly under-powered. Firstly, as mentioned, this is a story that's so familiar, and Miller doesn't add anything new or illuminating to the tale. Whereas in Batman: Year One there was a freshness to the story (and the inspired choice to make the focus more on Jim Gordon than Bruce Wayne) but here, you will feel like you've seen these plot beats before. Famously, Superman is a character that never lets bullies win, but seeing Clark up against school bullies felt like a misfire. It may be due to the fact that I work in education (and hey, they might do things differently in Kansas!) but the line "Even teachers are scared of them" given twice made me roll my eyes. I'll buy a corrupt PD in the pocket of the Mob, but teachers being scared of teenagers is beyond the pale. Don't get me wrong - this is a handsome book, and it's a perfectly good introduction to Superman - but for those of us who have grown up and grown older with the Man of Steel, this first chapter is pedestrian when it should be soaring. 7/10

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Lalit Kumar Sharma, Jay Leisten & Java Tartaglia
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: The Kingpin is now King of New York, using his new position of mayor to bring a sense of unity to the criminal underworld, with everyone getting their piece of the pie (even though there may be those who want more). The absence of Daredevil has helped facilitate this position, but Fisk misses the challenge Hornhead represents, and is setting his sights on a new, as-yet-unrevealed game. And Murdock himself? On the outside he's attempting to convince those who know that hanging up the mask was the best decision he ever made, but the reality is it's never far from the surface, which is perfectly encapsulated in a two-page finale that drills straight into the specific persistence and tenacity of the character in striking fashion. The art has a certain electric energy to it and Zdarsky is proving to be adept at zeroing in on Matt Murdock's tortured soul. This is quickly turning into the best run of Daredevil in quite some time. 8/10

Writer: Seanan McGurie
Art: Juan Frigeri
Marvel $3.99

Mike S: With the shadow of Hickman looming over the horizon, the Age Of X-Man staggers into its final act (or into the inevitable 'Omega' issue) and in the case of this title, I’m afraid it is with a sense of relief! Don’t get me wrong, I love Herr Wagner: always have, from the earliest appearances in Uncanny to the glory days of Excalibur, but this title simply hasn’t worked for me. I don’t know if it is because nobody knows who he is any more (is he a swashbuckler, a circus acrobat, a priest!?) or if it is the stifling constraints of the whole Age Of X-Man premise, but this title has lacked any recognisable version of him and seems to be a mediocre ‘What If?’ story, peppered with recognisable alternate reality versions of popular (ish) characters,  in what amounts to five issues of exposition heavy, action light storytelling. Seriously, all that happens is lots of teleporting away, lots of dialogue (LOTS!) and precious little else! At least, on the plus side, Frigeri shows some nice touches in the artwork which, in a dialogue heavy issue, is in itself an achievement! I wanted the dynamic, heroic Kurt promised in the solicits, not this angsty, exposition laden, watered down imposter. Here’s hoping Hickman does something to revitalise Kurt, making him into ONE distinctive version of his former selves that we can all get behind! Maybe if McGurie was given a run at the character unshackled from the constraints of this mammoth event, she might be able to get a decent crack of the whip but based on this run, I’m not convinced! An underwhelmed: 4/10

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Gaydos
DC $3.99

Jo S: In case you haven't been following this series from the start (you really should, but that's okay if you haven't, I know you're a busy person), a quick summary: Pearl Tanaka is a talented tattoo artist and assassin, whose extensive family connections to the Yakuza have become clearer following her mother's death and her father's imprisonment. She's currently in Japan learning more about the business she has inherited, accompanied by boyfriend Rick (who is also a former mark). Anyone who has read any Alias/Jessica Jones will know that a Bendis/Gaydos collaboration is something more than a little bit special and, in Pearl, they are truly generating something quite magical. Bendis' intricate storytelling and subtle yet forceful characterisation shines out of every page: the relationship between the complex, tortured, hyper-talented Pearl and dogged, loyal, gentle yet lion-hearted Rick is beautifully wrought, with moments where the empathy between them radiates off the page almost tangibly. Gaydos' work is by parts dreamy, gritty, deeply complicated and elegantly simple; his use of photorealistic faces allows enormous subtlety of emotion and, a favourite artistic theme of mine, his detailed backgrounds underlying the story frames (maps! I love a map) give fascinating texture and atmosphere enabling the streamlining of Bendis' exposition. Pearl and Rick's attempt at achieving 'normality' in their unnervingly different new world is shown here in a way which amplifies yet louder that this comic is far from normal: Pearl is something exceptional. 10/10

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