Happy Thursday, 'Rama readers! Ready to get 2 fast, 2 furious? Best Shots knows the drill, as we've got your weekly helping of Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off today's column with Richard Gray, as he takes a look at the latest issue of Batman/Superman...
Batman/Superman #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): With all eyes on the Superman and Batman team-up, thanks to some recent movie news, this recently launched title has suddenly become a flagship for the publisher. A fine example of art-driven storytelling, which is a good thing because Greg Pak’s complicated time travel/parallel universe storyline will have the heads spinning off new readers. Jae Lee’s striking minimalist layouts are deliberately unsettling, filled with impossibly elongated figures and Gothic influences. It’s also pleasing to see Lee stick around for a whole issue this month, as the duo carve out their own corner of the DC universe. It’s a bold sign that DC is still willing to try new things almost two years into the New 52, with a hook that will keep readers coming back for more.
Superior Spider-Man #14 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Well-drawn and fast-paced, Superior Spider-Man continues Otto Octavius's evolution as a more ruthless - yet potentially more effective - webslinger. Armed with towering battle droids and an army of mercenaries, Spider-Man is waging war on the ninja enclave known as Shadowland, and for all intents and purposes, that makes this a striking fight comic. Dan Slott does a good job keeping all these balls in the air, as he introduces Otto's new methods, as well as his relationships with the Hobgoblin, the Kingpin and J. Jonah Jameson. Humberto Ramos' take on Spidey's new duds looks pretty sharp, although his fight choreography does occasionally feel a little cramped, keeping him from showing exactly what this new look can do. The other downside for this comic? Besides the fight (and the obligatory reference to its Goblin-based subplot), it feels like this issue is missing a twist, a reason for being besides a punch in the face. Still, with a new suit and a new way of doing things, Superior Spider-Man #14 remains a fun read.
Lazarus #2 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): As if keeping a tight rein on their territory wasn’t enough trouble, the Carlyle Family fights from within with Forever caught in the middle as the new series by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark lands an impressive second issue. Rucka’s sharp skills at characterization and mystery-writing leap to the front. As our focal character, Forever organically shows the reader her world and the dangerous games played there. Meanwhile, Lark nails how to properly illustrate talk-heavy scenes, keeping our eyes interested by focusing on body language shifts, facial expressions, and clever panel-framing. Lark’s linework is left slightly on edge, clearly defined but not polished, which fits the story perfectly. This series is great now, and looks only to get better as it goes along.
Justice League Dark #22 (DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10):It's the middle of Trinity War with Justice League Dark #22 and I finally feel like things are getting interesting. Although I'm stilling having character issues with this event (as in no one is acting in character). Lemire raises the story with his affinity for dialog. While the actions of most of the main players still feel lacking, at least they sound good doing it. Mikel Janin's pencils are very strong, with a good sense of movement and proportion. Justice League Dark is definitely the best looking of the main titles within the event. A special note goes to Carlos Mangual on letters, his variety of texture and design go a long way in presenting the various voices. As middle parts go, Justice League Dark rises above, in spite of a mundane arc.
Hunger #1 (Marvel Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10):Okay True Believers, here we go. This is the Marvel event to end all events. Galactus is nigh all over the multiverse. Or, at least that's what Hunger #1 hints at. Fialkov does a good job in using Rick Jones as the "everyman" to bring even the most casual of Ultimate Universe fan up to speed. Still, for a comic that's intended to end all the worlds, the pacing of Hunger #1 feels off. Kirk's pencils are solid and never once hinder the book, but lack the grandeur a title like this would suggest. However, Aburtov's colors are wonderfully utilized and really make the panels pop when needed. It's a solid opening, if not the home run I was hoping for.
Ghostbusters #6 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Janine’s caught in a ghostly family secret and only Egon can save her-if he stops analyzing the situation long enough to try. Mind games abound in another strong issue of this licensed property. Side character-focused issues can be hit or miss. Writer Erik Burnham makes it work by picking out pieces of the Ghostbusters canon and showing them from Janine’s perspective. Dan Schoening’s cartoonish style, just barely keeping the likenesses, works overtime here as the freedom to be unrealistic allows him to play with the panels. His Vikings are big and menacing, but the tone is appropriately fun. Luis Antonio Delgado deserves a special shout-out for coloring this one perfectly to set the idea of ghosts within a person’s head, rounding out a solid issue.
Larfleeze #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): A new menace threatens the universe and only Larfleeze stands in his way-so basically, we’re doomed. Co-writers Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis continue to entertain me in their latest pairing. Their fans will catch the familiar formula quickly, with Larfleeze’s butler serving as the straight man this time while the Orange Lantern does his best latter-day Daffy Duck impression. Scott Kollins matches the insanity well, making up for the lack of Maguire. He draws on a cosmic scope, yet able to produce character designs that are right out of Looney Tunes, creating a visual juxtaposition that matches the irreverent script. He’s a big part of why the broad comedy works in this unlikely satire of space opera that fans of BWA-HA-HA need to grab.
Wolverine and the X-Men #33 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): A strong showing from Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw makes Wolverine and the X-Men #33 a fun book to watch. Focusing primarily on the former X-students as they stage a daring breakout from the Hellfire Academy, there's a lot of emotion underneath all these fisticuffs. While Toad and Quentin Quire both get some surprisingly sympathetic moments as they come face-to-face with the women they love, Idie continues to steal the show, as Aaron gives her a poetic sadness to her narration. Nick Bradshaw's cartooniness provides a zesty counterpoint to Aaron's fairly bleak script, and he truly sells the comparatively unmemorable scenes with the adult X-Men (seriously, a splash page of Wolverine and Lord Deathstrike falling off a building is totally killer). That said, with the main X-Men getting short shrift in this issue, the kids' plight isn't quite enough to really score a home run - but that said, the third chapter of this Hellfire Saga still gets plenty of solid hits in.
All-Star Western #22 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Hex’s adventures with another member of the Arkham family begin in a story that does a great job with the premise of a man out of time. Co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray play up Hex’s mindset that challenges every paradigm of modern Gotham, knowing just when to let Arkham in on the truth to set up the next part of the story arc. Batman’s involvement was just right, including a reference to his own time-traveling. As usual, Moritat provides solid visuals, keeping the action moving from location to location. He’s able to capture Hex’s pent-up aggression with panels that explode on each other. Moritat’s Gotham feels modern but builds on the one we saw in the 1800s as this series takes a step up.
The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction #1 (Published by IDW Publishing and DC Comics; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Even in 1941 television can be bad for your health, as a principled alderman learns too late. When his body acquires frequent flyer miles, Denny Colt and company go to Hollywood and face the Rocketeer to get answers as this excellent mini-series begins. After a bit of heavy-handed political commentary, Mark Waid’s story kicks into high gear, hitting a note-perfect characterization of Eisner’s creations and mixing them well into the Rocketeer’s world. Artist Paul Smith works wonders to keep the required hero fight interesting, setting up the antagonists at odd angles, with limbs flailing. He’s clearly inspired by Eisner without slavishly copying him, with wide-eyed stares, lots of mugging, and exaggerated movements that bring a wide-open feel to my book of the week.
Doomsday.1 #3 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The remaining space station crew help investigate the remains of New York City, but what remains there is a twisted echo of itself in a creepy and poignant issue of this post-apocalyptic series. I’m impressed at how well Byrne takes to a horror context. He uses his art chops (which haven’t lost a step) to creep us out with visions of rats and other vermin, then turns around and breaks the reader’s heart with a terrible, inescapable death that will stay with you precisely because he doesn’t show it. The detailing of decay is as intricate as Byrne’s sci-fi work and his cast is impressively diverse for a comic. Full of great twists and fake-outs, this is a solid comic that’s worth your time.
Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #1 (Published by Dynamite Entertainment; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Cassie’s attempt to rebuild her life is short-lived, as a person with access to the Necronomicon stalks her life and brings her smack-dab into Ash Williams as this crossover gets off to a lively opening. Tim Seeley absolutely nails Ash’s character, shooting out witticisms almost as fast as bullets, which is a great contrast to the overly serious Cassie Hack. He does lose a few points for the requisite fight and origin exposition, which are crossover tropes by this point. Daniel Leister’s characters explode off the page, coming at the reader from odd angles in medium to close-range shots that allow him to provide extensive character details (like Ash’s perpetually smiling face). This odd-couple pairing is off to a good start for irreverent horror fans.