Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for this week's Rapid-Fire Reviews? Then strap yourself in with Best Shots, as we cut to the quick starting with the latest issue of Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier's Aquaman...
Aquaman #17 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): In the wake of "Throne of Atlantis," Geoff Johns is looking to reposition Aquaman yet again, as he assumes, err, the Throne of Atlantis. Heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and heavy this story is, with Aquaman fighting poachers and angsting over his new role. It's not a particularly energetic story, which is a shame, because there actually is a lot of potential for Arthur when he now has a worldwide purview and an army at his command. But Paul Pelletier certainly makes this book look pretty, especially a brooding double-page splash of Arthur mentally calling out to the creatures of the sea. Definitely an epilogue, but I feel like Johns has bigger fish to fry than this minnow of a chapter.
Uncanny Avengers #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Scarlet Witch fans are going to be happy here, as Rick Remender gives Wanda her most badass moments in a decade over in Uncanny Avengers. With Thor brainwashed into attacking mutants and the Red Skull possessing Charles Xavier's brain, Remender has the stakes high for the Avengers' Unity Squad. That said, there's one structural problem here — there's two protagonists in Captain America and Havok, and right now, even though Havok gets more screen time, he still doesn't have enough personality or spontaneity to overshadow his Star-Spangled superior. John Cassaday sells the hell out of this book, making every punch shudder with force and making the environments loom over the Avengers. Ending on a spectacular tease, this is an action-packed, cinematic read.
Ravine #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Ravine tells the tale of a king given over to madness and hero who rises up to set things right — even if this protagonist is not of the conventional heroic stock. It is high fantasy with its sights on a narrative filled with spirit-imbued swords and dragon-filled skies — all of which fans of fantasy role-playing epics such as series of books and more recent video games such as will find to be a welcoming experience. The art is consistent throughout this first volume, and it is painstakingly rendered from beginning to end proving itself a visual pleasure to the eye. There are some elements that fans of high fantasy will no doubt find somewhat predictable — most notably the devil-may-care protagonist with a grand fate ahead of him, a lord gone mad whose rule must be ended—and yet the arrangement of these familiar tropes and plot points is done in such a way that it is still quite enjoyable.
Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 (Published by Marvel Comics, Review by Scott Cederlund, ‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10):The retold origin of Peter Quill, Starlord, focuses heavily on the tragedy in his life. The child of an odd broken home (his mother is an Earth native, his father royalty from outer space), Brian Michael Bendis gives Starlord that Mighty Marvel tumultuous backstory in order to explain the character’s motivations. Gone is the adventurer and hero that previously existed and in his place is an Ultimatized version of him, still stuck in the mainstream Marvel universe. Steve McNiven's detailed but shallow artwork doesn't show us anything about these characters. He immaculately illustrates the scenes that Bendis writes without ever giving us a doorway into the characters. Together, Bendis and McNiven tell the origins of Starlord as if they're filling in a paint-by-the-numbers painting. Every story beat is just part of a pre-determined and pre-fabricated picture.
The Answer #2 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): The plot thickens as this indie superhero series moves into its second issue, with Dennis Hopeless making readers question everything they know about The Answer and his motives. The plot is original and contains plenty of twists and turns to keep reader engaged, the mystery elements are intriguing and enticing, and the script is just really smart. Mike Norton’s artwork works perfectly for this story — slightly cartoony to fit the superhero aspects, but still quite refined to fit the mystery components. As befitting a second issue, there’s a lot of plot development and character work going on here, but this is balanced out with plenty of action scenes, which keep the pace fast and exciting. Fun, fresh, and original — don’t miss out!
The Flash #17 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Talk about one step forward, one step back. You've heard it all before—The Flash looks great, and reads completely goofy. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato's characters are clean, animated, dynamic in their colors, but when you think about the Flash zipping a tank into a football stadium, you suddenly realize that this is kind of a weird book (and not really in a ha-ha sort of way). There are plenty of plot holes that you could drive that tank through, including Barry's boss Darryl letting him off the hook when he knows Barry's been back for months. Lots of weird structuring with the Rogues and the gorillas sort of coming and going at random also hurts the tension here. Hopefully the new villain of this book will inspire this creative team, because right now The Flash is being caught flat-footed.
Deadpool: Killustrated #2 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Deadpool continues his slaughter-fest through classic literature; meanwhile, Sherlock Holmes assembles a crack team of literature’s finest. If you’re in the market for a silly story, packed with non-stop action and gory violence, then this comic is sure to please. If you aren’t, then you probably shouldn’t be buying a Deadpool comic, quite frankly. That is to say, this comic does exactly what it is supposed to do and does it well. Cullen Bunn provides a hilarious script and Matteo Lolli does a great job bringing all of these classic characters to life. Having Deadpool hallucinate the Marvel characters inspired by the classic ones as he kills them is an inspired touch. Dumb, fun, and bloody — what more could you ask for in a Deadpool comic?
Teen Titans #17 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10): This was... one tough read. Teen Titans #17 pretty much just starts off as an info-dump rather than something that makes us like Scott Lobdell's characters — between the new floating clubhouse or the random make-out sessions, it's basically a superhero version of or , only way less sexy or exciting. (Most of them aren't even in costume, for pity's sake.) New artist Eddy Barrows adds some emotion to the characters, but he's saddled with a lackluster script and a hideous redesign for Raven. (And I hate coming off as the "this book has to be all-ages" dude, but seriously, all this sex and angst and hellishness really limits this book's demographic.) If you're a die-hard fan of Trigon's daughter, I guess you could pick up this comic... but I can't really imagine who else might want to. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!