Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for your weekly dose of Rapid Reviews? Best Shots is locked and loaded, with 10 — count 'em, 10 — of this week's newest releases for your reading pleasure! So let's kick off with Jake Baumgart, as he takes a look at the final moments of Matt Murdock's life in Daredevil: End of Days...Daredevil: End of Days #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Although Marvel have done the out of continuity "death of a hero" book before, it’s safe to say that few of them can rub shoulders with this Daredevil story. Klaus Jason is able to embody so much of the physical and emotional gore on the page that the book just feels heavy to read. Writers Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack aren’t sending this character to Valhalla just yet either. Instead, the creative team is dragging Matt Murdock through hell first. It’s tragic what Murdock goes through in this first issue. Told in the narrative style of Citizen Kane, this could go on to be the penultimate Daredevil story — even if it is his last.
Detective Comics #13 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Chew creator John Layman takes over Detective Comics, delivering an action-packed issue, driven by an intriguing plot, a strong script, great dialogue, and some insightful character work. Bruce Wayne and Batman's lives cross paths as the Penguin makes a move to seize control of Gotham aristocracy. The issue is well paced, filled with smart plot developments and packs a powerful cliffhanger ending that will guarantee fans will come back for more. Jason Fabok provides the visuals, with dynamic linework and tight inking, highlighted by great model work and facial expressions, and utilizing a slew of interesting perspectives and camera angles. This is everything you could want in a Batman comic and more, the best issue of Detective Comics in years.
Hack/Slash #18 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It’s mail-order madness as a man driven by the loss of his son uses a series of intrigues to find Cassie Hack through those closest to her, in an excellent fill-in issue. Writer James Lowder puts together a complex plot that uses creator Tim Seeley’s cast well and lovingly pays tribute to the crazy catalogs you might find in an old comic book. We are introduced to gadget after improbable gadget, which ultimately springs a surprise on the reader as Cassie is asked to justify her actions. Matt Merhoff’s art is a bit stiffer than it needs to be, with characters standing straight regardless of the circumstances. I love his facial expressions, however, which strongly compliment the snappy dialogue of this fast-paced and fun comic.
Swamp Thing #13 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): This issue kicks off the next big story arc in both Swamp Thing and Animal Man. It may be all kinds of spooky creepy, but what else would you want from a Swamp Thing book?! What’s been nice about Scott Snyder's run on the title has been the amount of action in each issue. Gone is the moopey green guardian — this modern version of the character always seems to find himself entrenched in a battle against the Rot, with the world at stake. It’s a nice dimension for Swampy, and Yanick Paquette still delivers those amazing panel layouts and beautifully brush stroked interiors. Events seem everywhere this October, so make sure you don't miss this one. Avengers Academy #38 (Published by Marvel Comics; review by George Marston; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): This week, Avengers Academy takes a break from the emotional maelstrom of the last few issues to give us one of this year's most fun and entertaining diversions in the form of a flag football game between the Avengers Academy, and the Jean Grey School. It's exactly the kind of palette cleansing good time needed after AvX and "Final Exam." There are so many great moments, from Rockslide and Mettle comparing anatomical shortcomings, to Wolverine calling Hank Pym a nerd, to Mettle begging of Jocasta, "Don't tase me, Jo!" It's lighthearted, hilarious, and full of everything that's made Avengers Academy great. Christos Gage nails it again, and Tom Grummet turns in one of his best issues on the book. I'll miss Avengers Academy.
Animal Man #13 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Animal Man has officially taken a turn into the world of horror. There was enough monsters, bones and blood throat-grabbers to make this a book to maybe skip right before bed. Jeff Lemire keeps Buddy Baker charming as ever even after he lands in his new, monstrous world. Steve Pugh is able to capture all this in amazing detail. Even with all the pencil mileage on the page, the layouts and panels never feel crowded or messy. The world that Buddy’s family live in is stark and neat to contrast the evil Animal Man is surrounded by. It's a great touch to kick off this next amazing arc.
Red Sonja #69 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment ; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Sonja's not wanted in this land, but it won’t stop her from trying to stop vile sorcery as this story arc develops and improves from a rough start. Wandering into dark magic and attacking it without considering the risks is perfectly in character for Sonja and once again lands her companions in danger under Eric Trautmann’s writing. Edgar Salazar’s smooth (if a bit over-processed) art provides a more muscular Sonja and eliminates the panty shots that plagued the story under Marcio Abreu’s pencils. Salazar’s panels capture the horror of the situation nicely, concealing as much as they reveal to give the climax more impact. This arc is shaping up nicely, now that the art works with the story instead of being a series of pin-ups.
Uncanny X-Men #19 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): If you’re a fan of X-Men past, you might not recognize the fallen leader, Cyclops, in this story. Instead of the stoic, forced-upon leader of the mutant race, there sits the hysterical and broken X-Man. Kieron Gillen paints Scott Summers as not so much remorseful for his actions, but instead a martyr for the mutant cause. Raising his hands in an X-formation is a profound action for a man that was corrupted by the same celestial force that killed his wife. Dale Eaglesham creates a tone that feels almost like a tome for the fallen hero, with the artwork and panel layouts give the feeling that these are Cyclops' last moments. Stormwatch #13 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): I wrote off Stormwatch pretty early. After the 0 issue, issue #13 felt like a good returning point, plus — Etrigan! To say I was a little lost would be an understatement. I'll give writer Peter Milligan credit. He does his best to bring new readers up to speed in an entertaining manner. There is just so much that happened while I was away. Artists Will Conrad and Cliff Richards strike a fine action scene, but their character definition could use some work. There were a few times where one could be forgiven for thinking Apollo was dating Hawksmoor, not Midnighter. Still, the creative team is trying, that much is evident. So, I'll give the book a second chance. And, you know — Etrigan!
Bloodstrike #31 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): The undead superhumans of Bloodstrike struggle with living again as we learn more about the changes in Cabbot Stone’s outlook in a rather lighthearted issue. Tim Seeley walks a razor edge of meta-commentary in the script, but he manages the quips at Image's expense quite well and we learn a lot about why we should care about Stone himself, which I think was previously lacking. Artist Francesco Gaston continues to shine on this title, equally at ease drawing Stone’s battle or a character’s death as he is the lowball slapstick of a shower peeping scene. Both are given slick, smooth lines that keep the story moving as we set up to the next story arc. Bloodstrike has come into its own after a rough start. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!