Best Shots Rapid Reviews: SPIDER-MAN, DETECTIVE COMICS, More
by The Best Shots Team
Date: 08 November 2012 Time: 05:03 PM ET
Shadowman #1 (Published by Valiant Comics; Review by Lan Pitts; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Shadowman was one of the old Valiant's top tier books and has an acclaimed team behind the title, yet it balances a fine line between great visuals and clichéd moments that we've seen a dozen times elsewhere. The continuation of Jack Boniface being a legacy character is a nice touch; he's younger, not a jazz musician, but still a bright (no pun intended) young man trying to find himself. Justin Jordan handles the mythos of the character well enough, but it's weighed down by a lot of exposition and a choppy ending. Patrick Zircher and Brian Reber elevate the dialogue with some heavy gore and a great battle scene; definitely the stars of the show. There's enough here for me to take a second look, but it really has to start picking up from here.
Fairest #9 (Published by Vertigo; Review by Vanessa Gabriel; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): As Rapunzel and company face Yakuza, Fairest #9 gets kudos for the sheer volume of art and story contained within. Bill Willingham leads this tale with some appetizing reveals into Rapunzel's sordid past. Add Frau Totenkinder into the mix, and one can't help but be impressed. Inaki Miranda's complex detail and wide range of expressiveness make for a gratifying visual experience. And Eva de la Cruz's colors add cohesiveness and well-timed contrast to the already beautiful details. Fairest #9 picks up the pace as Rapunzel gallivants through Tokyo's version of Fabletown and will inevitably lead her to face her demons, in the literal sense. Reading Fairest is like gossiping behind Fables' back — and it's juicy. And that Adam Hughes's cover? Yeah, that happens.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Hive #2 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Deniz Cordell; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Brannon Braga and his scripters, Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, have done an admirable job of creating parallel stories across time, and this issue nimbly answers questions from the previous installment while developing and setting up new twists. The story is also filled with the grandiose, bizarre imagery associated with Braga's tenure on Star Trek — the destruction of an entire Borg fleet, or the character of the Borg Sentry being particular standouts. Joe Corroney's art captures the look of the actors and scenery well, and it lends the best scene in the book — set in a diner between Picard and Seven-of-Nine — a muted, careful quality. The book's tone veers from exciting to dour while the pacing is sharp but leisurely, much like the television series itself.
Love and Capes: What to Expect #4 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Deniz Cordell; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): What continually delights me about Thomas Zahler's work is how natural his dialogue is, and how likable and human his characters are. Lying behind the humor and wit is a story about aging, maturity, and succession. And it's told ably, with a great eye toward capturing little details of human behavior. Zahler's use of the eight-panel page is a terrific aid in maintaining rhythm and his cartoony artwork maintains a light, superheroic tone, even when dealing with down-to-earth matters. The emotional content is subtle and nuanced. The interactions never seem false, and every character is given a moment in the spotlight. Engagingly written with several varied but thematically linked plot threads in constant motion and charmingly drawn, Love Capes is a book you really ought to be reading.
Planet of the Apes Cataclysm: #3 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Deniz Cordell; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): The plotting by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman is crisp and taut, and the art by Damon Couciero, with marvelous color work by Darrin Moore, has a grandly theatrical, darkly operatic quality. Make no mistake, you'll need to read the previous two issues to really catch on to everything happening here, but there are some great moments, particularly an intimate sequence involving drowning Orangutans and humans, and another that fleshes out a noble Gorilla's character. The page layouts are smart and vivid, playing with height to great effect. The scripting keeps the characters well delineated, and the final panel reveal plays right into the opening page — providing a final "gasp" as well as a sense of internal closure.
Popeye #7 (Published by IDW; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Meat is on the mind of writer/artist Roger Langridge as Popeye sails the desert seas to save the ostrich farm of an old rival, and Dr. Wotasnozzle creates chaos with a mechanical cow in another strong issue continuing the legacy of E.C. Segar's characters. I was hoping Langridge would illustrate an issue himself, and he doesn't disappoint here. Characters in both series look perfectly on-model while being placed with characters that have Langridge's signature odd looks. The blending shows that Segar definitely influenced Langridge, whose plotting and dialogue (especially Popeye's) is spot-on, as usual. I even liked the Wotasnozzle story, which features a clever cameo. Not all comic revivals are worth reading, but Popeye is just as good as its sources.
Criminial Macabre They Fight by Night One Shot (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): "This politician is a monster!" isn't just mud-slinging in this enjoyable one-shot horror comic with a timely topic. Writer Steve Niles places his low-class private detective right in the center of the campaign blood trail as he and his undead allies must take on a candidate who literally supports change — into a werewolf. Niles' writing is acidly sarcastic with fast-paced action, which works well with the characters he's built up over time. Christopher Mitten handles the art here, giving everything jagged edges that connect at odd angles, keeping the story off-kilter and reminding the reader this is an unnatural world in every panel. It's a fun story that doesn't require prior knowledge of the Macabre franchise and is a perfect Halloween dessert comic.
Garfield #7 (Published by Boom! Studios; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10): Garfield's antics are skewered but the results are overcooked as humorist Mark Evanier works with returning artist Mike DeCarlo and four others. The first story, which suffers quite a bit under the hands of too many creators who cannot decide on a unified look, features a cat trying to be Garfield and failing miserably. The story misses a chance to take a swing at Garfield's many imitators over the years, sticking to safe territory. While DeCarlo's art is more on-model this time, looking more like the work of Garfield creator Jim Davis and less like Looney Tunes, the plot is a tired fourth-wall breaking dream sequence. After a promising start, this series is slipping as it, like the newspaper strip, has seemingly run out of new ideas.
Kevin Keller Welcome To Riverdale (Published by Archie Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Kevin Keller is out and about in the city of Riverdale in this series of adventures collecting the first four issues of his ongoing comic. Writer/artist Dan Parent guides Kevin into situations that show him as a typical Archie Gang teen, from dating woes to getting entangled in the 2012 Olympics. What makes this work so well is that with the exception of one oversimplified misstep, Parent never makes Kevin's sexuality the focus. It's just there, which is the way any gay character should be written. Parent does a great job of making the characters look and feel like Archie should, with stark character outlines, plenty of mugging for the camera, and an emphasis on physical comedy. This is a series even non-Archie readers should try. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!