Best Shots Rapid Reviews:BATMAN & CATWOMAN, ALL-NEW X-MEN, More

Marvel Comics' July 17 previews
Credit: Marvel Comics

Greetings, Newsarama readers! Are you on the edge of your seat for all things Comic-Con International: San Diego? While you're eagerly eyeing the latest from the Mothership, the Best Shots team has some Rapid-Fire Reviews on the latest of this week's releases! So let's kick off today's column with Jake Baumgart, as he takes a look at the newly re-titled Batman And Catwoman...

Credit: DC Comics

Batman & Catwoman #22
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz and Carlos Manqual
Published by DC Comics
Review by Jake Baumgart
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
 
Sure, there is buckets of hype spilling everywhere for the Snyder/Capullo Batman series, but don’t let that make you overlook the amazing work being done on Batman And … by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. While the adjective-less Batbook goes back in time, Tomasi and Gleason and moving the character forward after the latest Robin death. Gleason is able to break free of the DC house art style to deliver some amazing character work. Tomasi is taking a sidekick-cynical world and making readers fall in love with Carrie Kelley in scenes with Bruce and Alfred. Audiences haven’t gotten to see much of Bruce’s interaction with the fan favorite Bat-family and between Tomasi’s deft interaction and Gleason’s unique and dynamic visuals, a book like Batman And Catwoman  is a must-read.

Credit: Marvel Comics

All-New X-Men #14
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, Marte Gracia, Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
 
Brian Michael Bendis starts this issue with a nice little bit of misdirection. It’s been fun seeing the original X-Men struggle with their powers and the knowledge that the current X-Men are keeping things from them. Bendis is returning the X-books to their minority analogue roots and the Avengers step in as the authority that knows best. Having Wolverine play both sides provides an interesting dynamic as does the Summers brothers’ connection. Stuart Immonen is on top of his game in this one from Jean’s early Phoenix freak-out to smaller character moments between original Iceman and the Avengers. All in all, All New X-Men has been a really fun book thus far, even if the plot seems to be spinning its wheels a bit.

Cover Art from Legends of Red Sonja
Cover Art from Legends of Red Sonja
Credit: Dynamite

Red Sonja #1
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Walter Geovani, Adriano Lucas, Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Erika D. Peterman
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
 
Gail Simone’s Red Sonja is off to a rousing start in the first, fast-moving issue of this highly anticipated series. Right away, Simone establishes the rebooted She-Devil With a Sword as a complex and compelling central player. Sonja, a trauma survivor, is brash, unfiltered and frighteningly capable with a blade, but also compassionate in her own way and dryly funny. Simone has a gift for giving characters distinctive voices, and Sonja’s comes across crystal-clear at all times. Word to the wise: Don’t touch her sword. Artist Walter Geovani’s clean illustrations brim with thoughtful details like a trail of drool seeping from a sleeping Sonja’s mouth and streaks of blood on a soldier’s helmet. Red Sonja #1 is a highly accessible re-introduction to a storied character that entertains from beginning to end.?

Wonder Woman #22
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher
Published by DC Comics
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
 
Wonder Woman finds Highfather to be just about as insufferable as the gods she’s familiar with in another great issue - if you are okay with Diana as a side character in her own book. Writer Brian Azzarello reveals his version of New Genesis and shows us Orion’s relationship to it, which is amazing but shuts Wonder Woman’s rage down with two (!) “I saved your life” sequences. That’s disappointing, but Cliff Chiang makes up for it by creating a Fourth World that has Kirby elements without being slavish. (Chiang’s echoing of Darkseid in Highfather’s posture is particularly notable.) This version is more futuristic, with fewer shadows belying the darkness as this epic storyline heats back up.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Thor: God of Thunder #10
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Esad Ribic, Ive Svorcina, Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10)
 
Just because the Gods of Thunder are down, doesn't mean you should count them out. After last issue's epic fight featuring three iterations of Thor, Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic set up their rematch. The balance on this issue isn't quite as strong as last month, particularly as the future Thor winds up sitting on the sidelines during most of the issue. That said, Young Thor winds up stealing the show with a gritty act of defiance, and Gorr the God-Butcher gets a particularly poignant scene. Lack of backgrounds and one wasted splash page aside, Ribic continues to keep up with Aaron's frenetic script, especially with a splash of King Thor nailed to a comet. While not as potent as last month, Aaron and Ribic are doing a great job at keeping Thor: God of Thunder a fun read.

Birds of Prey #22
Written by Christy Marx
Art by Romano Molenaar, Robson Rocha, Sandu Florea, Jonathan Glapion, Chris Sotomayor, Dezi Sienty
Published by DC Comics
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 2 out of 10
 
Another day, another betrayal, as Black Canary learns that Condor has a dark past while the team gets clobbered for the umpteenth time, as this issue retreads the same plot over again. Forced to try and include the leftover Talon plot, Batgirl’s personal issues, and keep a story going, writer Christy Marx falls back on more team angst, this time with a romantic angle added in. It doesn’t work at all, as the reader is blindsided with the new villains (at least we knew Starling had underworld ties). The five artists who work on this issue do their best to keep things together, with dynamic layouts that keep the reader’s eye moving across the page, but they can’t save a bad story - or keep me reading.

The X-Files: Season 10 #2
Written by Chris Carter & Joe Harris
Art by Michael Walsh, Jordie Bellaire, Shawn Lee
Published by IDW Publishing
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10)
 
The truth about Scully’s abduction is out there, and Mulder turns to three old allies to help him as the mystery deepens in this second issue. Writer Joe Harris broadens the scope of this new conspiracy, adding a timely reference to a pipeline and a last-page surprise that involves a fan favorite character. What’s great is that he does this without spreading the plot too thin, giving us plenty of time with Scully and Mulder and a reminder to be careful next time we’re in Arlington. I’m still not wowed by Michael Walsh’s art, which does a great job of being creepy but is stiffer than a cheap hotel mattress. I’m hooked on this one and can’t wait for the next issue.?

Batwoman #22
Written by J.H. Williams III
Art by Trevor McCarthy, Guy Major, Todd Klein
Published by DC Comics
Review by Jeff Marsick
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
 
Another jogging-in-place issue where D.E.O. lapdog Batwoman tries to gain more intel on how to bring Batman down, while her horribly-named sidekick Hawkfire lays a training exercise beatdown on a team of inept martial artists and so-called military "experts" called the Murder of Crows. The writing continues to rely heavily on telling versus showing, and the trope of using Uncle Jake and his wife as play-by-play parental minders only works to mitigate any value of Hawkfire as a heroine. Still, Trevor McCarthy's artwork continues to be the draw here with action panels that leap off the page and Todd Klein's lettering as a perfect accompaniment. This title's been idling on the tarmac for too long, though, and is past due for lift-off.

Archer and Armstrong #11
Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Pere Perez, Dave Baron, Simon Bowland
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10)
 
Stuck in a strange land that contains just about every B-movie trope ever, Archer and Armstrong must dodge dinosaurs, flying saucers and Archer’s own “sister,” as this hilarious story arc moves into its second chapter. From Fred Van Lente’s opening dialogue of “Leggo my Egghead” to a surprise appearance by a classic literary figure (who won’t be who you think), this zany romp never gives the reader a chance to breathe, right up to another shock ending. Pere Perez is fast becoming a favorite artist of mine, deftly changing from “set” to “set” as the scenery changes around the main characters, with amazing reaction shots. Perez is able to match Van Lente’s style perfectly, emphasizing the jokes of one of the best comics out there.

Brother Lono #2
Brother Lono #2
Credit: DC Comics

100 Bullets: Brother Lono #2
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso, Pateicia Mulvihill, Clem Robins
Published by Vertigo
Review by Jeff Marsick
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
 
Lono's hiding out in a monastery where it just so happens the World's Hottest Nun decides to hang her habit for a spell. Given that local monk makes his own beer and Lono's in constant struggle with his vow of chastity, one can pretty much suss in what direction Brian Azzarello's driving the titular character. It's a slow boil of an issue, as most early chapters of 100 Bullets stories are, taking time to maneuver pieces into play for the big climax. Given that drug lords are involved and Lono has himself a mysterious past of violence, you know it's going to be over-the-top. Eduardo Risso's artwork is terrific as always, but its Patricia Mulvihill's colors that make the book feel alternately steamy hot, cool, and spooky.?

Dinosaurs Attack! #1
Written by Gary Gerani
Art by Herb Trimpe, Earl Norem,
Published by IDW Publishing
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10
 
A brilliant scientist tries to make the past come alive and gets more than he bargained for in this adaptation of a 1988 series of Topps trading cards begins to celebrate its 25thanniversary. Like the plot of the story, this book is brought from Eclipse Comics’ past, but its incredibly slow pace shows that writer Gary Gerani should have had help plotting a comic. His overworked dialogue makes matters worse while I waited impatiently for the dinosaurs to show up. Comics veteran Herb Trimpe doesn’t do this series any favors with bland, by-the-numbers art for the main story. Only the vivid (and gory) painted art by Earl Norem livens up the comic, but not enough to make this one worth picking up.
 
Trade Pellets!
?Think Tank, Vol. 2 TP
Written by Matt Hawkins
Art by Rahsan Ekedal, Troy Peteri
Published by Image Comics
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
 
Dr. Loren has a plan to force his covert U.S. military bosses into the light by reaching levels of darkness formerly thought impossible. It’s a game of deception with a high human cost in a series that may be more topical than we think. Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal combine to take a dark look at where drones and other military advancements come from, via the lens of a jaded genius who is too clever by half-a hero lost in his own hubris but never pays the personal cost. Ekedal does a great job with character reactions and designing Dr. Loren’s tech, but I wish his layouts were more fluid. This series is supposed to make you think, and in that regard, Think Tank absolutely succeeds.?
Glory Vol. 2 TP
Written by Joe Keatinge
Art by Ross Campbell, Jed Dougherty, Ulises Farinas, Owen Gieni, Greg Hinkle, Emi Lenox, Sloane Leong, Roman Muradov, Charis Solis?Published by Image Comics
Review by Rob McMonigal
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
 
Glory rallies her allies to fight-but the true enemy is someone she’ll never suspect as this series finishes off a Rob Liefeld property in fine fashion. Writer Joe Keatinge gives the plot several twists and turns while linking things to the broader Extreme Universe and using the seeds he’s sown to show Glory’s ultimate triumph-and failure-as a hero. Her character arc is amazing, as Keatinge uses Glory as a tragic figure to drive the theme of the price of war. Meanwhile, artist Ross Campbell turns in some of his best work, running the gamut from the humorous to the gory. His scenes in the epic climax are brutal, detailed, and demand the reader’s attention. This was a great series that came to a perfect ending.

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