Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for the fast column? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's edition of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's start today's edition with Forrest C. Helvie, as he takes a look at the latest issue of Superior Spider-Man...
Superior Spider-Man #13 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Artistically, this issue is fairly strong with detailed line work and dynamic coloring. In terms of the story, there is a twist at the end, but given prior issues, it won’t likely come as much of a surprise. The parallels between Smythe and Otto, however, did make for an interesting comparison. Additionally, a new element is introduced in the relationship between J.J.J. and Octo-Spidey, which seems to be setting the foundation for the beginning of the end of this “superior” Spider-Man. Given the lack of character growth for Octo-Spidey, let’s hope this is the case.
Superman Unchained #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): If you dug Man of Steel, you'll definitely enjoy Superman Unchained, which brings a ton of action thanks to Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. The comic starts off a bit jarringly, as the parallels to 9/11 are unavoidable, as Superman thinks fast to save a collapsing building - still, it's a bombastic enough opening that it makes up for a slower second half, when Snyder has to introduce Clark's supporting cast. Jim Lee gets some nice beats here, particularly Superman lashing out with heat vision, but the sheer number of panels per page means sometimes his work looks a little distant. The one hurdle this book has to overcome? The pseudo-Superman our hero has to face, particularly so soon after the "H'el on Earth" crossover. Still, this book looks great and has some nice action, so it's definitely worth a look.
Walking Dead #112 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): It's understandable for both writer and audience to get bored with the constant increase in the stakes and that has become the pattern in Walking Dead. However, Robert Kirkman’s latest installment, Walking Dead #112, can capture dormant readers buy getting to the good parts as audiences are getting closer to what they love about the series - pure, post-apocalyptic war between survivors. The story picks up the pace as the struggle between Rick and Negan finally comes to a head. The tension is made all the more palatable by Charlie Adlard, who showcases an amazing talent for contorting faces in moments of incinerating anger. With Walking Dead #112, Kirkman is still able to make your muscle tighten, your guts turn and your heart jump into your throat.
Hawkeye #12 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Forrest C. Helvie; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Truth be told, I know next to nothing about “Trickshot,” but after this issue, Fraction does a fine job of bringing him into fold. Francesco Francavilla steps in for David Aja, and while the change in aesthetic is noticeable, it still employs a similar minimalistic yet smartly designed approach that works so well with this title. My only complaint is I’d like to see Kate Bishop brought back; otherwise, this issue is yet another example of how Fraction continues to surprise readers with the unexpected and get them to come back for more.
The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #2 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Lindsey Morris; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): From the outset I had no doubt that this series would be great, and for the second month running I have not been disappointed. Gerard Way and Shaun Simon have crafted another great issue, this time delving more deeply into the lives of characters like Scarecrow Korse, RC Cola, and the android Blue. Despite the lack of outright action, the pacing is still in time with the last issue, and reaches its crescendo towards the end with a rallying cry for war. Becky Cloonan's art remains unimpeachable, and with lovely colors by Dan Jackson, continues to be instrumental to the success of this series. Killjoys has led us to the edge of something big, and needs to deliver the revolutionary action we've been waiting for in next month's installment to keep up the pace. Fingers crossed.
Nightwing #22 (DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10):Kyle Higgins clearly has some love for Nightwing and the direction he's taking him is interesting. Yet, for a character that's always been about living on the tightrope, the pacing of issue #22 is a little lacking. It's entertaining enough, but there is something lacking. As if Higgins isn't quite ready to let Grayson truly soar on his own. The same could be said for Will Conrad on art. It's a nice looking book, but his Nightwing lacks the grace and flow the character needs to really stand out. Mind you, I enjoyed this issue. Higgins and Conrad are setting up some great ideas. But, like the main character, I came for the big show under the big tent. I hope we get there soon.
Indestructible Hulk #10 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The Hulk-Daredevil team-up continues, as Mark Waid and Matteo Scalera produce an action romp that feels light and breezy despite Scalera's gritty linework. Daredevil fans will enjoy this issue, as Mark Waid winds up leaning more on the Man Without Fear than the Hulk himself. Thankfully, Daredevil winds up being a likeable protagonist, so watching him try to contain a blinded Hulk still is entertaining. Matteo Scalera, meanwhile, punches way above his weight class, channeling a little bit of Tradd Moore, a little bit of Jason Pearson. I think the great strength of this arc, however, is showing the versatility of the Marvel Universe as a whole - in other words, Waid takes two characters you wouldn't ordinarily expect to partner up, and winds up making some intriguing sparks fly. While there's not much a theme underneath all this punching, the character dynamic still makes this comic a heavy hitter.
Fatherhood (Challenger Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10):When I finished Fatherhood, I had to step away. It was too much. Too many emotions to process to simply dive into a review. Writer Ryan Lindsey, artist Daniel Schneider, and colorist Paulina Ganucheau have created quite the strong comic. The basic premise of a father entering a noir style world to find his daughter the perfect toy sounds like a fun little story. Until you see and feel the real emotion and impact found on the page. Fatherhood is simply plotted and designed, yet the execution of the moments within are simply perfect. Even when you realize there is only one true way for the story to end, the impact is in no way lessened. This is one of those rare comics that reveals just how powerful this four-color medium can truly be.
Batgirl #22 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Even though Barbara Gordon isn't even her crimefighting gear this issue, this might be my favorite issue of Batgirl yet. It's a day in the life of Gotham's premiere superheroine, as she struggles to come to grips with the fact that she may have killed her brother, the sociopathic James Gordon, Jr. Gail Simone starts us off with some fairly standard soap operatic tropes, particularly as Barbara goes out on a date with Ricky, a guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Where the book picks up, however, is in the second half, when Commissioner Gordon winds up complicating things for everybody - those are the scenes with real tension, real emotion. Fernando Pasarin, meanwhile, is probably the best thing that's ever happened to this book, as he makes every scene really endearing, thanks to his wonderful expressiveness. If you've been waffling on this book, Simone and Pasarin have delivered a reason for you to give Batgirl another shot.
The Midnight Tiger #1 (Self-Published; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): It's been a while since I've read a superhero comic with a teen protagonist that actually enjoys being a superhero. Sure, there are some that have their moments, but it takes a book like The Midnight Tiger to remind us of how much fun saving the day can be. This is a solid debut of a character that is both familiar and new. We're already trained to connect with a character like Gavin Shaw and his alter ego, but there is a level of savvy to the character that makes him feel fresh and new. Mix that with incredibly vibrant art by Ray-Anthony Height that suggests an evolved Steve Ditko and you've got one strong comic that will appeal to both the new reader and jaded old-timer.
Green Lantern Corps #22 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): The strength of Green Lantern Corps has always been its supporting cast, and now that Van Jensen and Robert Venditti have gotten the exposition out of the way, this series is starting to pick up once more. John Stewart takes front-and-center with this issue, as Jensen and Venditti tell us (again) that power rings across the universe are cutting out at key moments. While that repetition can drag a bit, the highlight of the book is the new Lanterns, such as an axe-wielding warrior and a mute from a planet of orators. Bernard Chang also makes this comic look superb, with streamlined linework that really plays up the action nicely. The only downsides to this book? The relationship between John and Fatality still feels forced, and ultimately the book feels a little redundant, since the main Green Lantern book also focuses on the power ring fiasco. If this book can really establish its own identity, it'll make a world of difference.
Raw Edge #1 (Self-Published; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Right out of the gate, Raw Edge #1 does a good job of setting up the world. What could have easily been another lovable loser noir tale gets a slightly fresh spin in this Philip K. Dick influenced tale. Writer and artist Devin Clark drafts an interesting story of a dead partner again roaming the streets and getting his still living partner in trouble with the local gangs. While not wholly groundbreaking in terms of narrative, Clark's pencils and coloring make this a very fun comic to look at. Reminiscent of early Mike Allred by way of late 60s manga, Raw Edge #1 is a very striking debut issue. Mix that level of art with a story that has some legs and you've got a very promising comic on your hands.
Adventure Time: Candy Capers #1 (Published by Kaboom!; Review by Lindsey Morris; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Another Adventure Time spin-off made its way to the shelves this week with the release of Candy Capers #1, written by Yuko Ota and Anath Panagariya. Finn and Jake have gone missing, and the Land of Ooo is falling into chaos. To stem the flow of disorder, Princess Bubblegum deputizes Peppermint Butler as the Banana Boss and Cinnamon Bun as his sidekick. Artist Ian McGinty does a great job stylizing the duo, and gives the reader many a laugh with their exaggerated facial expressions. A fun plot and wonderful art make this book a delightful addition to the Adventure Time line.
Beneath #1 (Self-Published; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Classic grainy and nasty 1970s style horror, it's hard to pull off in comics. Which is why I was so very impressed with Beneath from writers Tony Daniel and Brian Smith, with artist Brahm Revel. It's a nasty little comic about a legendary lake monster and a couple of kids that witness the wanton death and dismemberment of high schoolers that should have known better. The art is appropriately grisly, yet Revel pencils some great expressions as the beast does in it's victims. Don't look too deep for any message within Beneath, you're not going to find it. (Other than believing all local legends). What you will find is some dang fine horror that would make Roger Corman proud. Give me more!