Face front, 'Rama Readers! This is your temporary host George Marston. Our fearless leader David Pepose is off recuperating from NYCC, so I'll be your host this week as we blast through some rapid fire reviews! We'll start off with a look at Supergirl #13...
Supergirl #13 (published by DC Comics; review by George Marston) 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10 It's clear that one of Michael Green and his erstwhile writing partner Michael Johnson's goals with their Supergirl series has been world-building, establishing a rogues' gallery, supporting cast, and base of operations for Kara, independent from Superman. This is never more evident than in issue #13, where she is visited by her first recurring villain, and in her own version of the fortress of solitude, no less. It also looks like Kara is ready to accept the truth about Krypton. This book is remarkably consistent, but there's little charm in this issue's script. Sam Basri's art, as fun and readable as it is, doesn't match the level of regular artist Mahmud Asrar, though colorist Dave McCaig provides a nice throughline. Solid fun, but not electrifying.
Not My Bag; Published by Image Comics; Review by Erika D. Peterman; ’Rama Rating: 9 out of 10:For the young artist at the center of Sina Grace’s lovely Not My Bag, a job at a high-end department store was supposed to be a temporary financial fix. But he finds a seductive world full of emotional turmoil and manipulation among the meticulously arranged displays. While becoming an expert on salesmanship (gray is “ash,” “dark pearl” and “charcoal”) he navigates the surprisingly treacherous waters of retail. That's an interesting premise by itself, but writer/artist Grace also weaves in the main character’s struggle with the ghosts of relationships past and some sharp insights about fashion, from runway to ready-to-wear. The elegant black-and-white illustrations are full of details that will make you want to read Not My Bag more than once.
Catwoman #13 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart) RamaRating: 8 out of 10 It’s never easy to follow an amazing act. Judd Winnick was able to do something really special, and controversial, with DC’s New 52 reboot of Catwoman. However, Ann Nocenti does just that in this prologue to A Death in the Family. Nocenti and artist Rafa Sandoval keep the pace set by Winnick and March and keep Selina Kyle swinging. Dipping into the cat burglar’s past from issue #1, Nocenti establishes a story that is equal parts history and setting the tone going forward. The character is still the same after the creative team switch up which means more of what fans love about Selina Kyle. Jump on for the Joker story arc, stay for the awesome creative output by Nocenti and Sandoval.
ExSanguine #1 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10)
The horror genre maintains a dedicated fanbase because many people like to be scared. But as the market becomes oversaturated with lifeless rehashings of tried and true concepts, it becomes harder and harder to sort out truly good horror stories. Josh Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley present a mash-up of the serial killer and vampire stories we know in ExSanguine and while Seeley’s art shines, the script leaves something to be desired. The characters are hollow, for now, and they are set on an unclear path. That said, the book has the potential to go in a lot of different directions, anywhere from Zodiac-style drama to Kill Your Boyfriend levels of absurdity and that might be enough of a hook for some.
Harbinger #5 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): In the wake of the death of his only friend on Earth, Peter Stanchek sees the Harada Foundation in a new light. Or lack of light. It's pretty dark, actually, as emotions are high and ethics are low. Joshua Dysart uses furious pacing that quickly defines the enemies and allies of our star-crossed protagonist. Peter’s anger leads him into a pivotal showdown, and his suffering will inevitably have you rooting for him. As the psionics are unleashed, Khari Evans packs some serious punch into 14 pages of dynamic action. With assists from Matthew Clark and Jim Muniz, the art is intense and emotionally charged. Harbinger #5 sets the trajectory and opens up a world of potential, seamlessly leading to the next story arc, aptly titled "Renegades."
Hawkeye #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart) 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10 Does any Avenger have more fun than Clint Barton? Not according to Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series. This issue reads like some awesome hybrid between The Italian Job and Tarantino’s Deathproof. The story cycles through both Hawkeye’s terrible decisions and his quiver of trick arrows as he and Kate Bishop try to out run a gang of Mini Coopers. Still not sold? How about the amazing artwork by David Aja? The bold approach and quick use of panels make this book as exciting to see as it is to read. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth completes the book with a spectacular palette that makes this book an absolute most read this, and any week.
Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron #3 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Pierce Lydon; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10) Whenever classic characters like the Lone Ranger are dug up, I'm excited that a new creative team has the opportunity to bring me into the fold as a new fan of the property. But too often, teams stick to what works for the characters and don't do anything new. Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron #3 is a fine book and a solid Western but it doesn't particularly need its title character and that is where it fails. Chuck Dixon's script is full of action and some snappy dialogue but he doesn't ever make the Lone Ranger and Tonto quintessential to the story. Esteve Polls artwork is effective though, and hopefully we'll see more of him. Aside from two panels, the stakes of the story were appropriately paced and the danger was inherent. It's just too bad that our heroes kind of took a back seat to everything else happening.
Mudman Volume 1 TP (Published by Image Comics ; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The world of a teen is murky enough, but now Owen Craig is bogged down in the world of superheroes! The first five issues of writer/artist Paul Grist’s love letter to the Silver Age is collected here, as Owen gains the ability to turn his body into mud and learns just how hard it is to play hero. Illustrated in a quirky, angular style that owes much to Steve Ditko, Grist works hard to make Mudman as visually innovative as possible (featuring constantly changing panels and even integrating the lettering) while working through standard heroic concepts. Mudman’s world has dark corners and dangers at every turn despite being garishly colorful in the hands of Bill Crabtree’s palate. This book is perfect for old-school comics fans.