Greetings, 'Rama readers! Get ready for some quick critiques, as Best Shots delivers its weekly Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's start off fast, as Aaron Duran takes a look at the latest issue of Batman...
Batman #20 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Unlike Snyder's previous arcs with Batman, issue #20 doesn't play with concepts of ego, family, or hubris. This time out, Snyder gives readers a flat-out love letter to Batman: The Animated Series. It's all there, from the simple, yet elegant explanation of Batman's foiling of Clayface to the emotional bond between Bruce and Alfred. Although as much as I enjoyed the story, there is still a level of disconnect in regards to Lucius Fox and his knowledge of Bruce and Batman that's hard to swallow. Let Fox act coy, but there is no way he doesn't know. Visually, this isn't Capullo's strongest outing. Much of his attention to detail gets lost in the chaos of Clayface. While that could be a stylistic choice, it's still a miss in an otherwise strong story.
Thor: God of Thunder #8 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): "Now we let the hammers talk." Jason Aaron makes good on the time-travelling premise of Thor: God of Thunder, as the past, present and future versions of the Asgardian Avenger finally meet. Focusing primarily on Young Thor, Aaron not only defines the character further by his impetuous heroism, but also gives plenty of good exposition as to the threat (and rationale) of the Gorr the God-Butcher. This is also a good showing by artist Esad Ribic, whose clean lines give Thor a petulance that perfectly suits the young godling. (And his portrayal of Thor's three granddaughters gives this book a jolt of sex appeal.) This is a very strong showing by the creative team, and sets up the action-packed climax of this story nicely.
Batman and Red Hood #20 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): While this series has always benefited from the wildly kinetic and atmospheric artwork of Patrick Gleason, something is missing in this comic. Peter Tomasi is essentially juggling two stories here, and neither of them really gel together - the reintroduction of Dark Knight Returns star Carrie Kelley still feels like a forced stunt rather than something organic, and while Tomasi does get in a few good lines about families and trust, he winds up having to flat-tire the scenes with the Red Hood by having to force in action, the Damian Wayne exposition and having to explain Jason's death and rebirth. Gleason's conversational scenes still look expressive and heartfelt, but Cliff Richards' action beats are a bit flat. Not a bad read, but I also know this team is capable of more.
Chin Music #1 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Chin Music features an intriguing premise involving an ancient mystic on the run through time and space, ending up in prohibition-era Chicago. However, if one were to read this first issue without reading the solicitation, these details would be hard to gleen. Neither the text nor the artwork indicate any time changes and when the protagonist moves through time and space, it is very unclear what is going on. The script is very dialogue and narration sparse, which doesn’t really help the reader follow the plot. Tony Harris’s style here is a little looser than his typical highly-detailed work, and he uses some nice art deco panel layouts to help evoke a 1920s feel to the story. Despite the teething issues this series has potential.
Uncanny Avengers #8 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): This comic starts off ridiculously strong, but does stumble a bit towards the end. With Marvel really riding the time-travel stories hard, Rick Remender does great work implying a greater history behind the Apocalypse Twins - indeed, after his run on Uncanny X-Force, it's probably not surprising that he's so good at making relatable villains. Remender's Sunfire also steals this show this issue, acting like a grade-A A-hole as he showcases some surprising new abilities. (Remender also scores with a very clever scene involving Captain America accidentally being dropped into Libya.) Daniel Acuna is drawing some of the best work I've ever seen him produce, with his work looking clean, painterly and appropriately superheroic. Think of Chris Samnee injected with a little bit of Alex Ross. That said, the end of this comic comes a bit abruptly, with a little lack of focus, but the setup is exciting enough to keep me interested.
Constantine #3 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Edward Kaye; ’Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Ray Fawkes and Jeff Lemire bring the first arc of Constantine to a close with an action-packed issue that lays some nice groundwork for future storylines. As a long-time Hellblazer fan and a Brit, this reviewer was pleasantly surprised by this opening salvo. Fawkes and Lemire do a great job of making this feel like the Constantine we know and love, and the faux British dialogue holds up rather well, apart from a few Americanisms that slip through, and John saying “yeah?” far too many times. Renato Guedes does a great job of illustrating the magical and mystical aspects of the story and delivers some nice dynamic action scenes. So far this series has been better than at least the last three years of Hellblazer.
Uber #1 (Published by Avatar; Review by Jeff Marsick; ‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): In the waning moments of World War II, the Nazi ubermensch program suddenly springs to life, seemingly about to pluck victory from the morass of defeat. Thus begins Kieron Gillen's dialogue-heavy and slow-paced epic that is more a focus on war than an alt-universe take on super-heroes. Artist Canaan White still has difficulty drawing faces that are distinguishable from one another, but he tells a better sequential story here than he did in #0. Keith Williams has also toned down the inks enough to allow the artwork to breathe better in this second outing. The intimation of a much grander scale to the story begs a forgiveness of an issue that doesn't really do much, but I'm hoping it finds another gear in the second issue.
Legends of the Dark Knight #49 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Jim Zub’s first foray into superhero comics is a grand one as demonstrates his knack for witty repartee as Batman chases the maniacally goofy psychiatrist-turned-costumed Harley Quinn around a local ice cream shop. This builds to what promises to be an interesting twist on Harley’s past life, and something most readers would likely agree would benefit Bruce Wayne… if only with a different person on the other side of the couch. One of the first elements of this issue that stands out is how the art reminds me of those cell animation aesthetic from classic video games Space Ace and Dragon Lair. Harley’s visual representation is quite strong as Googe eschews the “sex doll” approach in favor something more akin to Batman: The Animated Series that is both fun and neurotically deadly. The only real critique against the art is there are some panels where the white slits in Batman’s cowl are removed and the reader can see his eyes; at other times, the white slits are reinstated. But don’t let this inconsistency get in the way of an otherwise fun comic.