Greetings all your fantastic Newsarama readers, Aaron Duran here filling in for our glorious leader as he travels the globe in search of new heroes. We've got a nice little slice of 'Rama Best Shots today as Richard Gray kicks off the reviews with a goodbye reading of our favorite purple archer...
Justice League #42 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Jake Baumgart; ('Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): What's impressive about Justice League #42 is how massive the story feels in such a small scale. Although technically a summer event, "Darkseid War" isn't held victim by several tie-in books that weigh the story down. Justice League #42 is the same reality-crushing chaos that we have seen before but executes it exceedingly well. This is a tribute to the books talent. Geoff Johns, a master of the team book, gives each character their due and balances the book well between their moments in the spot light. Artist Jason Fabok nails details in each panel and could rival Gary Frank if every person in this story didn't look like the same super model. Although the whole is sure to be greater than any one piece, Justice League #42 is the kind of thing that summer events should be.
Guardians of Knowhere #1 (Published by Marvel; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): There’s a giddy thrill in seeing Rocket in his Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning era uniform, not to mention the giant celestial head of the title. It’s a grungy space opera brawl, as Angela beats up Drax while looking for Gamora, who in turn gets blasted with Rocket’s unfeasible large cannon. Old friends like Mantis return, and Mike Deodato’s gorgeous art gives this the majesty of a western space opera, from the grungy bars to the outlying townships. At times it comes close to the spirit Jim Starlin or DnA’s great runs, evoking some of the cosmic mysticism they both so frequently played with. Yet Guardians of Knowhere #1 this still feels like an imitation caught between two great depictions of these characters in other cosmic Marvel titles.
Hail Hydra #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Oscar Maltby; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10): Spinning out from the pages of All-New Captain America comes Hail Hydra #1, set in a Battleworld war zone where everyone's favorite serpent-themed fascist organization reigns supreme. When Steve Rogers' adopted (and Arnim Zola's biological) son escaped into the infinite elevator, he didn't expect to end up in worst-case scenario world. Writer Rick Remender leans heavily on narration to carry Nomad's story, feeling redundant and bogging down the flow of the action. Still, Remender's knack for the truly horrifying shines through when we see the inner workings of Hydra's rehabilitation program. Roland Boschi's artwork has a great sense of dynamism but suffers from anatomy issues when it comes to the human form. Colorist Chris Chuckry makes great use of Hydra's signature shade of green. He combines it with primary blues, yellows and reds to daub every panel in “Danger”! All in all, Hail Hydra #1 is a fun but ultimately unimpressive jaunt into another grim little nook of Battleworld.
Hawkeye #22 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): After a five month gap, Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth finally finish what has largely been one of the finest books on the racks for the last three years. Appropriately, it goes out not with a bang, but a whimper. An anti-climax that is inevitable when the follow-up series is already four-months in, but is also wholly appropriate to a book about the underdog. It wastes no time catching us up and simply barrels into the final chapter. With the Aja and Hollingsworth's sublime mastery of visual storytelling, Hawkeye #22 offers up a tightly framed and virtually wordless final confrontation, fully utilizing both Hawkeyes and their canine companion. It’s a wonderful culmination of the community vibe of this entire run. It’s just a shame that its timing has robbed it of some of its impact.
Black Canary #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Richard Gray; 'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Now that they are properly on tour, the punk rock road trip can begin with gusto, as we literally get a training montage with music. You can almost feel the notes coming off the page as this incredibly likable band struggle to fit in with Canary’s vigilante road warrior regime. Highly aware of itself, and constantly self-mocking as much as it is playing to the same formula as writer Brenden Fletcher’s Batgirl, it’s also full of surprises. Like Canary using woodwind instruments as weapons in hand-to-hand combat. Annie Wu gets even more dynamic and playful, using flowcharts, margin doodle, and photo collages to add to the constant sensation of movement. This is one of DC’s most inventive books out at the moment, and this issue opens the narrative up to a literal world of possibilities.
Ant-Man Annual #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10): Just in time for his big screen debut comes Ant-Man Annual #1, a titanic team-up starring both the Ant-Men. After hearing that Hank Pym is missing and presumed dead during the latest battle with Ultron, Scott Lang ruminates on the last mission they undertook together. Nick Spencer, taking full advantage of this annual, writes both Scott and Hank as old bickering friends and even pits them against one of Hank’s oldest enemies, keeping the whole story absolutely drenched in vintage canon. Artists Brent Schoonover and Ramon Rosanas alternate the art between the present day and the flashbacks, but both of their styles meld so well together, readers would be hard-pressed to notice a difference. Ant-Man Annual #1 is a rollicking and often hilarious proto-introduction to Scott’s world and the appeal of a guy who can shrink and quip with the best of them.
Robin: Son of Batman #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Robin's quest at redemption brings him to all manner of crazy as he faces off against cartels, Mayan stone guardians, and a new costumed character with eyes toward revenge. Basically, Patrick Gleason, who pulls double duty as writer and penciler, is having a blast with Damian Wayne. As a story, there isn't a whole lot here. But as a visual adventure, Robin: Son of Batman #2 is straight-up Silver Age fun, but with snarky Damian goodness. Gleason never wastes a panel in this issue, filling each one with physical or emotional action. And while there are a few times when the elements get a little jumbled on the page, Gleason has a great visual team with inker Mick Gray and colorists John Kalisz and Jeromy Cox to make sure the reader never really gets lost. Robin: Son of Batman #2 is another example of DC Comics making a new commitment to fun, hopefully one that will last for years to come.
Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Justin Partridge, III; ‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10): Ever had a dream that felt so real you mistook it for a memory? That’s the very phenomenon that the cast of Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders have been experiencing, but in their case, its very real and bordering on heresy. Writer Al Ewing assembles yet another team of fan-favorites and relative unknowns to inhabit Yinsen City. Ewing quickly introduces the full cast with his trademark banter and grasp of the large personalities in play, but also displays an uncanny knack for world building as he throws readers into the thick of Yinsen City and neighboring Mondo City very quickly, but not rushed. Handling the artwork is the legendary Alan Davis, along with colorist Wil Quintana who injects the same vintage comic books feel into this debut as he did for Ewing’s Ultron cycle. Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1 is comparable to the Secret Wars version of Ewing’s Mighty Avengers series and that’s the best possible compliment one could pay this debut. If you enjoyed that title, you’ll more than enjoy this entry into the Battleworld canon.
Big Trouble in Little China #13 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Aaron Duran; 'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10):With a new creative team and a new arc kicking off, Big Trouble in Little China #13 should be the perfect jumping on point for new readers. And while the concept on a Jack Burton out of time story is fun, writer Fred Van Lente never quite hits the mark. Most of the issue is spent bringing Jack up to speed on 2015 and as a result, the jokes get old pretty dang fast. Joe Eisma plays with his style a bit in an attempt to add a light-hearted style to the book. But like the writing, his line work just misses the mark a little. Perhaps with a slightly stronger color palette from Gonzalo Duarte, Eisma's art might have popped a bit more, but as it stands, not his strongest work. While this isn't a bad book, it's a rough start for the new team that will hopefully find their ground next time.