Best Shots Advance Reviews: GHOSTBUSTERS, CYBER FORCE, More

 

The New Ghostbusters #1

Written by Erik Burnham

Art by Dan Schoening, Luis Antonio Delgado and Andrew Harmon

Lettering by Neil Uyetake

Published by IDW Publishing

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Who ya gonna call? Turns out, the new guys — with the original Ghostbusters missing in action, Erik Burnham knows that nature abhors a vacuum, and in so doing has created an interesting, quirky replacement team that is definitely worth checking out.

In terms of tone, The New Ghostbusters actually feels a lot like it's trying to evoke that sort of atmosphere — cartoony artwork, some easy-to-follow narration, characters with very diverse skill sets, and most importantly, a sense of humor. That's fine by me, Erik Burnham is tapping into a vibe that's been woefully underrepresented in comics, and his team definitely has potential. A secretary, a student of the arcane, an FBI agent, and an ex-con technician? The first page alone has my interest piqued, and seeing that Burnham has not one, but two separate storylines going means this comic might have some bang for its buck.

The artwork by Dan Schoening also makes me think of that vibe, with very cartoony, distorted faces. They're not quite as expressive as Rob Guillory — few artists are — but the character designs are easy to get into, and vary enough that it doesn't feel boring to go from panel to panel when the dialogue starts to pile up. The color work by Luis Antonio Delgado and Andrew Harmon is particularly energetic, with strong reds, blues, purples and greens keeping your eyes on the page.

There are some downsides to this book, of course—the dialogue piles up by the end, making this story do more telling than showing—and for those who have seen too many stories about "replacement" teams, well, you probably won't find much new here. But the comedic, cartoony spin for The New Ghostbusters gives me some hope, as these new characters, with time, I think have a lot of potential to win us over.

 

Cyber Force #3

Written by Marc Silvestri

Art by Khoi Pham, Sal Regla, and Andy Troy

Lettering by Troy Peteri

Published by Top Cow

Review by Lan Pitts

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Most villains need motives on why they're evil or they do what they do. In the third issue of the newly launched Cyber Force, most of the story has them explain what they want to do and why. All in all, it just seems like a lot of work to destroy the world.

Marc Silvestri is a legend in the comic industry, having created Cyber Force almost 20 years ago, which launched the Top Cow Universe. Now, we have a new series that was funded through Kickstarter, a revamp where Silvestri and company get to start over with this re-imagining of the entire team. Khoi Pham does his best to knock out Silvestri's complicated and intricate designs and succeeds overwhelmingly.

That said, the script itself is layered, and could be confusing for new readers. While some of the major events have been recapped through exposition, it still has a solid pace to it. Some panels didn't seem to mesh well with the rest of the page. I'm sure Silvestri didn't want to seem redundant in his presentation, but a few things here and there just seemed out of place.

Now, back to Pham for a minute. He mixes well with the Top Cow house style with his detailed linework and complex rendering, but Sal Regla puts it all together well. Regla is one of the Cow's top-notch talent that can handle the styles like Michael Broussard and Pham and make them polished. Pham's eye for the dramatic holds well here with a great fight scene at the end that doesn't confuse the eye and leaves you wanting more of that sort of action. While he does have a lot of extreme close up headshots, when he's allowed to let loose, he goes out with a full chamber blasting away.

I'm not too familiar with Andy Troy's work, but I like what he did here. It's an interesting color selection, especially when we're used to the likes of Sunny Gho handling something like this. It's smoother, giving characters and environments a more solid look. The handling of Carin's skin tone comes to mind immediately on how well Troy aced this.

You have to hand it to Top Cow for asking the fans what they wanted and the fans responded loud and clear. While this issue might not be the absolute best to try to dive into, it's only the third issue in and since the first issue was free, I can't think of an adequate reason why new readers wouldn't want to try this one out.

 

Mega Man #22

Written by Ian Flynn

Art by Ryan Jampole, Gary Martin and Matt Herms

Lettering by John Workman

Published by Archie Comics

Review by Pierce Lydon

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Archie Comics' Mega Man continues in the company’s tradition of creating quality all-ages material as well as a dedication to treating licensed properties with the same respect and care as their homegrown ones. Mega Man #22 is a Valentine’s Day-tinged one-off that has a lot of heart. Ian Flynn doesn’t let the kid-friendly nature of this book stop him from raising ideas about our relationship to technology in the modern era. Similar to the way he integrated a previous arc with Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, Flynn explores ideas about artificial intelligence and machines’ capacity for emotions, in this case, love.

The action centers around Mega and Roll visiting Ice Man and Quake Woman in the Arctic. Ice is making a grand romantic gesture to try and woo Roll but she becomes more interested in setting up Mega and Quake.

While the robots try to figure out the meaning of romance, Flynn frames their struggle with a dinner conversation between Dr. Light and agent Gil. These two men have very different ideas about the role that technology should play in our daily lives. Light is always the optimist and insists that robots should be given the capacity for emotion because it’s what allows us to live fulfilling lives. Gil is the opposite, fearing that a virus or glitch could potentially be more dangerous than we are prepared to handle. Flynn plays both sides of the debate pretty evenly but Light (understandably) gets all the memorable lines. As he gives his speech in support of robot rights, Mega and the others are called to action and in essence, it’s their humanity that allows them to prevail.

It’s not all heavy meta-commentary though. There is still a lot of goofy fun to go around. Ice Man thrives in his hopeless romantic role. You can’t help but root for him. And Quake is an interesting character choice for an all-ages book. She’s recovering from a robotic equivalent to post-traumatic stress disorder and that creates good counterbalance to the Mega Man’s no-questions-asked heroism.

Ryan Jampole handles the art duties this time around and he delivers. Licensed properties are all about consistency in art and storytelling and Archie’s editors have proven quite adept at finding a talented squad of artists to take turns churning out the adventures of the Blue Bomber. Part of the credit for exceptional consistency must go to having a regular inker and colorist. Gary Martin and Matt Herms continue their solid work here.

Mega Man is a book that’s expectations were definitely buoyed by nostalgia but Flynn and co. have expanded the scope of their storytelling and created a comic that’s a delight to read. By not overly relying on the boss battle formula of the Mega Man games, they’ve been able to challenge readers while still having fun in an age-appropriate way.

 

Supurbia #4

Written by Grace Randolph

Art by Russell Dauterman and Gabriel Cassata

Lettering by Steve Wands

Published by Boom Studios

Review by Brian Bannen

‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Grace Randolph definitely has a formula, and she definitely knows how to exploit it in her ongoing series Supurbia. The issue is a taut twenty-five pages delivered with blistering speed and impressive compactness, covering every single character and every single thread. This has both positives and negatives and if Randolph can be accused of anything, it’s trying to do too much.

Randolph still seems focused mostly on Hella Heart, and Hella’s conflict is really the centerpiece of the issue. Of the many things Randolph does well, one of them is humanizing Hella Heart. Save for her violent outburst last issue, Hella is still a flawed and defeated character. Her sadness, particularly when it comes to her relationship with Sovereign, is powerfully depicted by Russell Dauterman and where Hella showed a glimmer of life when she fought Hayley Harper, her realizations about Sovereign’s feelings for her leave her broken.

And we can’t help but feel for Hella seeing as how Randolph has tried hard to show how Hella has reformed, and how she’s tried to get away from her violent past in order to be a better person. Additionally, Randolph focuses on Paul Fritsche (Nigh Fox) and his ongoing struggle with own sexuality, and his relationship issues with his wife. There are several emotional beats that are powerfully executed to convey the sadness of the characters, and in these moments, when Randolph slows down her story, Supurbia is truly a great comic.

Where the issue struggles in its attempt to cover too much ground. Certain moments are glossed over, like Sovereign’s cryptic conversation with a government official, Agent Twilight’s exit from his hideout with Night Fox, and Eli’s realization about his relationship with his mother, the Wonder Woman-esque Batu. Some of these moments rely heavily on their emotional impact — which they convey well — but the quick shifts between scenes don’t ever really let the story settle because when it does, particularly when the group meets about saving Batu, the story is great.

Additionally, Russell Dauterman’s work here is extra impressive. He has a few creative panel designs that showcase his abilities, and I’d like to see more of these. One in particular is a quick summation of Ruth’s life, and clearly Dauterman had fun with the page design. Faces, too, are rendered with powerful detail. Depicting emotion is Dauterman’s strong suit, and where Randolph backs off the words and lets Dauterman work, the comic is at its best.

Supurbia has been a consistently great read, taking the concept of a superhero soap opera and turning it into an engaging ongoing series filled with interesting characters, exciting conflicts, and strong characterization. Even with its frantic pacing, Supurbia is a well-executed series with a unique take on the superhero genre, and easily a consistently good buy. 

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