January kicked off 2024 with plenty of comic book bangers released. From debuts to ongoing memorable chapters in ongoing narratives, we had a lot to enjoy as comic book fans. With that in mind I’ve gone through all the comic books on my pull list for the month and selected the ten that stood out most in January. Find out what these comic books were below.
COBRA COMMANDER #1
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Andrea Milana
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Joshua Williamson and Andrea Milana set a new standard for how to develop a comic book around a villain with Cobra Commander #1. Cobra Commander was definitively established as the protagonist of this mini-series. At the same time, at no point do you forget Cobra Commander is to be viewed as the ultimate villain of his universe.
Going all in with what makes Cobra Commander an excellent villain for heroes to battle does a lot for the Energon Universe. This in turn creates an aura of importance around this mini-series. Cobra Commander is doing a lot to adapt to what Skybound and Image Comics are doing with their shared Energon Universe. The final reveal of Cobra Commander #1 was the jaw-dropping ending that makes you want to read the next issue right away.
THE DEVIANT #3
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Joshua Hixson
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
The Deviant #3 continues the strong horror narrative set with a Santa Claus killer as the antagonist. There is such a great amount of attention to detail with how James Tynion and Joshua Hixson get you into the normal lives of the people.
Tynion’s dialogue is written so you are paying extra attention to every word spoken and who says it. It all hits on how as the reader you want to solve this murder mystery.
The writing is enhanced by Hixson’s artwork. The winter setting is a perfect time for a murder mystery to happen. It makes the moments when we do see the Santa Claus killer you immediately feel the fear the characters have.
KILL YOUR DARLINGS #5
Writers: Ethan S. Parker and Griffin Seridan
Artist: Robert Quinn
Letterer: John Hill
After the first story arc established the world of Kill Your Darlings it was the right call to take a bit of a step back. Now that Ethan Parker, Griffin Sheridan, and John Hill have readers hooked it was time to peel back the layers. That is delivered with Kill Your Darlings #5 gives us a story about Rose’s mother’s life before giving birth to her daughter.
Throughout Kill Your Darlings #5 we get answers to the why of story and character beats from the first story arc. It’s just the right balance of answering questions while leaving many things still to be explored. The developments from this flashback story create even more interest in what else the creative team has in store for Kill Your Darlings.
LOCAL MAN #9
Writers & Artists: Tim Seeley and Tony Fleecs
Colorists: Brad Simpson and Felipe Sobreiro
Things come to a head as Jack deals with the ramifications of his love interest Igna being revealed to be an antagonist. As with everything we’ve seen in Local Man the way things are handled isn’t simply black and white. There is so much history that comes into play in Local Man #9. That includes infidelity as Jack deals with having to answer to sleeping with Igna even though she is still married with children.
The way Jack has to deal with his choices leading into Local Man #9 elevates Igna’s characterization. Igna did everything with conviction. It added to the bad things we see him do and how it comes back to bite her in multiple ways. Everything makes you feel for the people of Farmington as they did not ask for any of these metahuman developments.
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS #116
Writer: Melissa Flores
Artist: Adam Gorham
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #116 does an excellent job at wrapping up the first half of the Darkest Hour event. The Power Rangers continued to deal with the seemingly hopeless battle against Dark Specter and his forces. At the same time, we are seeing some cracks with the big villain as Dark Specter grows impatient with how his forces weren’t able to eliminate the Power Rangers. That all creates a lot of plot points for the second half of Darkest Hour to follow up on.
The big thing that took Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #116 over the top was the Ranger Slayer vs Lord Drakkon battle. Their roles flipping with Ranger Slayer corrupted by Dark Specter placed Drakkon in a role that’s foreign to him. It made for an intriguing continuation of the special connection Kimberly Hart and Tommy Oliver across the Multiverse share. The way the fight ends gives greater weight to the power of the White Light angle hanging over Darkest Hour.
PINE AND MERRIMAC #1
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Fran Galán
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Pine and Merrimac #1 does a phenomenal job building the entire series around the dynamic between the two leads. Both characters are shown to have their own strengths that are only made stronger because of how strong their marriage is. It created a lot of fun moments to kick off the issue that got them both over while building a cool world in a small town around them.
Linnea and Parker’s dynamic is made when things get personal through the mystery, they are given to solve a strong hook for the series. Through this mystery, we will be able to dive into both characters’ backstories more as the story develops. This first issue instilled confidence that Kyle Starks and Fran Galán will blend present and past to complement each other.
SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK #4
Writer: Rainbow Rowell
Artist: Ig Guara
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Joe Caramaga
Rainbow Rowell and Ig Guara do a great job showing how exhausting life is for She-Hulk in Sensational She-Hulk #4. While we can’t relate to all the superpower stuff, it is certainly relatable to everything that daily life hits you with. That provided a strong reason for why when Patsy Walker and Carol Danvers show up it is time for She-Hulk to relax.
It was an especially nice touch that in getting her to relax we finally see Jennifer Walters rather than She-Hulk. Jen spends so much time as She-Hulk that it has become her normal look. Being convinced to simply be Jen added so much to the fun dynamic she shares with Carol and Patsy. It is also cool seeing how Rowell and Guara continue to explore the Marvel Universe in She-Hulk as we see the heroes enjoy some downtime. However, that enjoyment doesn’t last as we get an intriguing ending that gets Jen and the others back into superhero mode.
TITANS: BEAST WORLD #4
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Lucas Meyer
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Wes Abbott
From beginning to end Titans: Beast World delivered an epic event that will go down as one of DC Comics’ best events in years. Of all the issues in the event Titans: Beast World #4 exemplified why. This was a unique global crisis that was its own distinct thing that didn’t need the normal DC Crisis elements.
Tom Taylor and Lucas Meyer balanced how our heroes are doing everything to save the day while Amanda Waller is working to take advantage of the situation. The race against the clock created a tension that led to a shocking ending. It’s the exact type of shock that elevates the entire story to create maximum excitement for the final chapters of the story.
Writer & Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Transformers #4 goes at max speed and does not let up even when we get to the end of this issue. There is an intensity felt with how much concern there is as Spike’s life hangs in the balance while Optimus Prime dodges all of Starscream’s attacks. It is one of the best high-speed chases we have seen in a comic book.
The intensity of the opening chase sequence creates the high stakes there are to this latest battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. The human element in this battle creates a lot more drama as nothing comes easy for the Autobots. All of this works to further elevate Starscream as a top-tier villain with all of his dastardly actions.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Cory Petit
For as against progressing Peter Parker that Marvel has been in the last few decades Ultimate Spider-Man #1 was what many fans have been asking for. Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto fully embrace the fresh start the new Ultimate Universe created for Marvel. We get a completely new take on Peter Parker and his world as he doesn’t become Spider-Man until his late thirties. That created a whole different perspective of what it means for Peter to become Spider-Man.
More importantly, we see what an adult Peter Parker is like. Peter and MJ have a strong, supportive marriage raising kids together. That’s an obvious selling point for Ultimate Spider-Man #1. But what gets you to fully buy-in is how all the other iconic Spider-Man characters are portrayed. Uncle Ben, J. Jonah Jameson, Robby Robertson, Harry Osborn, and others’ presentations drive home why every Spider-Man fan should be fully invested in Ultimate Spider-Man.