Greetings, 'Rama readers! Ready for the fast column? Best Shots has you covered, with this week's installment of our Rapid-Fire Reviews! So let's kick off today's column with a look at the wrong side of the tracks, as we take a look at the latest issue of Superior Foes of Spider-Man...
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10): Being a bad guy continues to be oh-so-good, as Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber don't lose a step of momentum with Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4. Spencer has just an amazing sense of humor with this book, as the hapless Sinister Six (but technically Four) winds up running afoul of Power Man and Iron Fist. Spencer breathes so much character into his cast, whether its Overdrive fanboying over the two superheroes who are about to knock him into next week, or Boomerang putting some not-so-slick moves on his new bartender. (Note: Don't ever accuse anyone from Philly that they're a Mets fan.) Artist Steve Lieber, meanwhile, is the glue that holds this book together, as he packs in all of Spencer's numerous, dialogue-heavy panels without missing a beat. Full of dark comedy and surprising heart, Superior Foes of Spider-Man is bar-none the best Spidey book on the stands.
Green Lantern #24 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10):There is an air of tediousness to Hal Jordan in Green Lantern #24, and that's not a bad thing. To Hall, facing off against Relic feels like just another annoying attempt by a would-be megalomaniac. In that respect, Robert Venditti has the making of an interesting story. Unfortunately, Hal's early attitude spills over to the reader. He's right, Relic is just another villain, and one that isn't all that compelling yet. Billy Tan's pencils are the book's real strength. His characters are never too bulky and have a good eye towards realistic anatomy. His ability to visually capture the panic on the Corps, while showing a villain that is barely engaged make for some fun confrontations. Although Green Lantern #24 doesn't leap as a must-read, it certainly hints at something great. A first step in a long road.
Lazarus #4 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Scott Cederlund; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Lazarus #4 is the work of two cool and calculating creators; Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. Ambushed at the edge of her family's land, Forever fights back from near-death to discover just how treacherous the Carlyle family can really be. Lark is such a matter-of-fact artist. He simply puts down the drawing for a panel, capturing the right image that moves the story along with the greatest efficiency. Lark’s art is brutal because he doesn’t hold back or try to overshadow the story with his artwork. That’s why his creative marriage with Rucka is perfect; both creators approach their jobs methodically, never wasting a word or an image. Even their showier moments, such as the dual points of view of Forever’s desert fight, she and her sister monitoring her vital information from a distance, create a rhythmic structure to the fight that matches her heart rate. Rucka and Lark build the battle in beats and pulses that are underlaid by an appreciation from her sister of Forever’s perfect biology that was designed just for battles like this. As more of her families’ cruelty and treachery are revealed, you wonder just how Forever can have this much loyalty to a family that’s constantly trying to stab her in the back. Lazarus is a book that’s measuring out its story as Rucka and Lark masterfully control each and every page.
Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Lindsey Morris; 'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10): Spidey slings into a new miniseries this week under the relaunched classic imprint of Marvel Knights. Boasting a creative lineup of Matt Kindt, Marco Rudy, and Val Staples, this comic had me at hello. Sadly, it lost me soon afterwards. The premise is too ambitious, with Spider-Man set to face 99 villains over the course of five issues. It's hard to keep anything straight with the break-neck pacing and overwhelming visuals, and maybe that's the point, but it doesn't make for a great read. On the bright side, there are some beautiful panels in the book, blending a number of mediums which lends to the hazy, hallucinogenic feel of the comic. This storyline seems doomed to fail from the outset, but here's to hoping it will turn around in the next issue.
Green Arrow #24 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose; 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10): Good looks save the day for Green Arrow #24, as Andrea Sorrentino continues to wow readers with his striking, geometric layouts. As Ollie struggles to stand following a run-in with Count Vertigo, Sorrentino and writer Jeff Lemire produce an action-heavy read. The overall story by Lemire, for the most part, doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel - Ollie digs in deep to land the knockout, as we all knew he would - but he does create some nice set pieces that let Sorrentino hit it out of the park. (The dragon designs in the background when Shado and Richard Dragon square off are superb, as are the colors and circles that represent the world-bending powers of Count Vertigo.) Granted, there is some clumsiness in the script that keeps this book from really hitting the bullseye - particularly the shoehorned cameo at the end - but the artwork in this book continues to step up.
Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight #1 (Published by Dark Horse Comics; Review by Lindsey Morris; 'Rama Rating 7 out of 10): A new limited series out this week, Grindhouse is the first of four two-issue arcs bringing the reader back to the good ole days of late night exploitation films. Written by Alex De Campi, the story follows a one-eyed lady cop as she defends her town from creepy bee vixens. The plot could use some more blood and campiness, but the vibes are on point with the era. Helping maintain the pace of this gore opera are Chris Peterson and Nolan Woodard, who do a good job with the sleazy character designs and dim coloring, respectively. The art transitions seamlessly from porno, to cop drama, to nightmare, which is what really makes this comic work. A fun read for fans of horror and cheesecake alike.
Hinterkind #1 (Published by Vertigo Comics; Review by Noelle Webster; ‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): A new series from Ian Edginton for Vertigo, Hinterkind is set in a post-apocalyptic world and centers around Prosper Monday, a girl living in what used to be Central Park. Despite being an extra-large issue with additional pages, the issue simply doesn’t accomplish enough. We only get glimpses of who these characters are, and even less about this post-apocalyptic society. I’m hoping to see a better fleshed out world and society in future issues. Francesco Trifogli’s art here seems like a good fit for the feel of the series though, and I especially enjoyed how the NYC skyscrapers now look like trees since the tops of buildings are overgrown with green. Another nice touch was a panel of the famous Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park, now decaying to show readers it takes place in our future and also giving a hint of magic. It picks up right at the end, but the issue felt a bit hollow and might be better suited to reading multiple issues at once.
Doctor Who Prisoner of Time #9 (Published by IDW Publishing; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): The desire for Rose is a thorn in the side of a man who’s got time on his side, as the Ninth Doctor tries to save his companion even while a bigger threat looms. David and Scott Tipton capture the feel of this incarnation of The Doctor. His aggression and destructive nature flare across the page. The choice of identity for the villain stealing the Doctor’s companions is perfect but also extremely obscure, showing the Tipton’s deep knowledge of Doctor Who. The art team of David Messina and Giorgia Sposito capture the actors’ likenesses well, especially Rose’s staring eyes, and the overall style reminded me of Amanda Conner. They’re weaker on the backdrops, but they keep the action moving as this 50th anniversary comic continues.
Shadowman #11 (Published by Valiant Entertainment; Review by Rob McMonigal; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Shadowman has a very unhappy Halloweenin this well-done one shot story designed to be a jumping on point for readers. Guest writer Jim Zub brings his Skullkickers sensibilities and the result is a plot that gets sillier as it goes along, ending with the deadly serious Shadowman fighting a sprite-possessed giant pug. The tone is light, with the trouble caused by three drunken losers who defile a Voodoo shop and Shadowman worshipped by goth girls. Miguel Sepulveda easily balances the real world with the ridiculous in a realistic style. Even the sprites who bedevil the drunks feel like normal, if monstrous creatures, looking like giant flies. This might not be the usual fare for this book, but it’s a great story and worth picking up.
Fantomex MAX #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 3 out of 10):It's perfectly fine to use a comic book character to highlight some of humanity's uglier side, even better when it's a book aimed for a mature audience. Except Fantomex MAX #1 doesn't do any of that. Sure, writer Andrew Hope makes sure the book earns it's rating, but it's all for shock and no substance. At it's core, this is a very simple heist gone wrong book staring the titular mutant. From there it's nothing but tired, sexist, and often homophobic jokes that all but the nastiest of Internet trolls would find tasteless. Shawn Crystal's art has moments of fun, particularly in his use of movement and panel space. Alas, those moments are fleeting, with most of his skill going to waste on featureless faces and exploitative female positions. Most depressing is the use of Fantomex. In his non-mature title, he's used to explore interesting social issues. Here, he's reduced to base locker-room humor.