Weekly Comic Book Reviews For 7/26/23

Another week has arrived and with it another packed week of comic book releases. You can check out our reviews for Alice Never After #1, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #110, and Ultimate Invasion #2. Along with those comic book releases we had even more major releases this week. For my latest comic book review round-up I’m spotlighting Creed: The Next Round #2, What If…? Dark Spider-Gwen #1, and X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023. Check out my thoughts on these comic books below.

Creed: The Next Round 2 Main CoverCREED: THE NEXT ROUND #2


Writer: Latoya Morgan and Jai Jamison

Artist: Wilton Santos and Joe Jaro

Inker: Maria Keane

Colorist: DJ Chavis and Joana Lafuente

Letterer: Andworld Design


One of my favorite types of stories are those centered around what it means to have and carry a legacy. It’s a reason as to why I gravitate to characters like Batman as we see not only him building his legacy but also his family carry on the legacy he has created. The concept of legacy is where Latoya Morgan and Jai Jamison continue to shine with Creed: The Next Round #2.

Throughout this second issue we see how the Apollo Creed legacy is carried on by Adonis, Amara, and Artemis. This exploration of legacy is explored most in-depth with Amara and Artemis. It was particularly important to establish Artemis, who was previous Apollo’s unnamed daughter in the movies. Unlike Adonis, Artemis grew up admiring her father. Morgan and Jamison took this fact and showed us a different angle into the impact Apollo’s death had as we see Artemis take her own route in honoring her father’s legacy.

Part of carrying that legacy is proving yourself, which we can see is easier said than done when the parent you are following in the footsteps of was seen as one of the best to ever do it. With both Amara and Artemis having similarly looked up to and followed in their respective fathers’ paths they had something that made it easy for them to quickly bond over.  Having this connection point made the bond Amara quickly gained with her aunt even stronger.

With this it placed a spotlight on the importance of a support system. We see this with how Adonis and Artemis dynamic with Amara goes in this second issue as she is a bird that feels ready to fly on her own. Which speaks to what it means to let the next generation grow beyond the protection of their parents and mentor. In the process we get a lot of strong character interactions that further dive in to the Creed legacy, with one major surprise that adds an intriguing angle the story in Creed: The Next Round can go.

Wilton Santos and Joe Jaro deliver great artwork throughout Creed: The Next Round #2. Santos carries the character interaction heavy first two-thirds of this issue as we see how important character reactions are. Jaro’s handling of the last third of the issue works well to showcase the choreography in the action for boxing matches. Artemis and Amara’s respective skill levels are well-established as their experience and style shines through.


Latoya Morgan and Jai Jamison continue to do an excellent job at exploring the concept of legacy through Creed: The Next Round #2. Expanding on the Creed legacy by including the rest of the Creed Family tree is a fantastic choice as Amara’s story continues to develop alongside her dad, Adonis. Strong artwork from Wilton Santos and Joe Jaro just adds to how this is a can’t miss comic book for Rocky and Creed fans.

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

What If...? Dark Spider-Gwen #1 Main CoverWHAT IF…? DARK: SPIDER-GWEN #1


Plot Writers: Gerry Conway and Jody Houser

Script Writer: Jody Houser

Artists: Ramon F. Bachs and Gil Kane

Colorist: Dee Cunniffe

Letterer: Ariana Maher


Given how often Marvel goes back to the well with “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” and the popularity of Spider-Gwen it took this long to get a What If…? one-shot. With that in mind it was smart to open What If…? Dark Spider-Gwen by using the pages from Gerry Conway and Gil Kane’s Amazing Spider-Man #121. By opening the comic in this way there was a tone set for the characterization of Gwen Stacy and others during this time period.

Taking the baton from here Jody Houser took the writing style of Conway and continued that with the changes of Gwen Stacy being the one who survived after Peter Parker as Spider-Man died in the iconic moment. Gwen, Harry Osborn, and others were written with how you expect them to sound around this era of Spider-Man’s history. This allowed Houser utilized Gwen’s history give more emotional weight to her arc, especially with how she was partnered with Harry Osborn.

Houser also made sure to know that with what the trauma Gwen has gone through that having long monologues was not the way to go. Instead, Houser made sure to keep Gwen’s dialogue to how she was written at the time and trust that Ramon Bachs artwork can help put over Gwen’s emotions as she set out to avenge Peter.

While Gwen is successful in avenging Peter’s death at the hands of Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin the way it happened did not give a full conclusion. The way What If…? Dark Spider-Gwen ended with Gwen continuing as Spider-Woman, without powers, when Harry rises up as the new Green Goblin this felt like the start of a new series. Which is not the case but ending it in this way did put a bit of a damper on the story since Gwen’s story as Spider-Woman and if she will get powers like her Spider-Gwen counterpart won’t be followed up on.


What If…? Dark Spider-Gwen delivers exactly on the potential these What If…? one-shots have. Jody Houser and Ramon Bachs did a very good job at utilizing Gerry Conway and Gil Kane’s iconic “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” to tell a different Spider-Gwen origin story. The way this story ended was a bit disappointing that this was simply a one-shot as the end isn’t as definitive as fans may hope.

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 Main CoverX-MEN: HELLFIRE GALA 2023


Writer: Gerry Duggan

Artists: Adam Kubert, Luciano Cecchio, Matteo Lolli, Russell Dauterman, Javier Pina, R.B. Silva, Joshua Cassara, Kris Anka, and Pepe Larraz

Colorists: Rain Beredo, Ceci De La Cruz, Matthew Wilson, Erick Arciniega, and Marte Gracia

Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy


The 2023 Hellfire Gala is no doubt a game changer. Maybe the biggest game changer since House of X and Powers of X. Though unlike the direction Jonathan Hickman gave for the X-Men the events of Hellfire Gala is something where we are left in a “To Be Determined” state with its potential.

When it comes to plot development the 2023 Hellfire Gala does read as what the X-Men creative teams have been building towards since Hickman ended his run with the franchise. Everything with Orchis that Hickman introduced and was followed up by Gerry Duggan and other X-Men writers got to us to this point where a Mutant Massacre-like event took place at the Hellfire Gala. In terms of further building Orchis as the ultimate X-Men villain group Hellfire Gala 2023 certainly succeeded.

Where there is question marks is the X-Men returning to the status quos of being “hated and feared” and in danger of being extinct that Hickman got the franchise away from. It certainly doesn’t help on a visual standpoint that this was kicked off with what could’ve been the most diverse X-Men team we’ve had. Adding to the not so great look is that the mutants that weren’t able to resist Charles Xavier’s telepathy where unceremoniously killed off with most going unnamed.

In terms of story direction what does save the Mutant Massacre that takes place at the Hellfire Gala is the spots this leaves the likes of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Rogue, and Synch. Each of these characters are placed in a spot where they are the Marvel characters most to watch. In particular, Firestar ends up being the character to watch most closely. The mission she is given by Jean in acting as a traitor in order to infiltrate Orchis is one of the most important storylines to how Fall Of X could ultimately turn out.

The artwork was obviously all over the place given the artwork by committee we got. Speaking to the talents of Adam Kubert, Luciano Cecchio, Matteo Lolli, Russell Dauterman, Javier Pina, R.B. Silva, Joshua Cassara, Kris Anka, and Pepe Larraz is they delivered their best artwork for their respective segments. The big moments in Hellfire Gala 2023 hit on the epic scale you expect they would. The only thing that deters things is that the art styles don’t match so it does disrupt the flow when the artwork is switched up.


Hellfire Gala 2023 will certainly go down as the biggest game changer to the X-Men franchise since House of X and Powers of X. The actions by Orchis certainly elevated them to become the ultimate X-Men villains that you hope in the end our heroes can overcome and defeat. Though the events of the Mutant Massacre that took place at this year’s Hellfire Gala will be something that it is key the X-Men creative teams fully tap into the potential of this latest direction of the franchise. If they don’t than the questions as to why Duggan and Marvel decided to do this will grow and consume the X-Men franchise.

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10