Best Shots Reviews: SILK #10, DETECTIVE COMICS #936, More

DC Comics July 2016 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics

The Best Shots team is back with our weekly review round up of last week's top titles. This week, we'll kick things off with Richard Gray's review of Silk #10 from Marvel Comics.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Silk #10
Written by Robbie Thompson
Art by Tana Ford and Ian Herring
Lettering by Travis Lanham
? Published by Marvel Comics
? Review by Richard Gray
? 'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Following the “Spider-Women” crossover event with Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman, Cindy Moon returns to the no less complicated life of being a double agent of SHIELD and Black Cat’s gang. In the concluding issue to the predominant story arc to date, writer Robbie Thompson begins to wrap up the first major story arc in a fairly neat bundle, even if some of the ground feels familiar.

? With her secret identity on the line, Silk’s bigger concern is Black Cat finding out about her double-cross. As such the majority of this issue is concerned with a smack-down between the two characters, followed by a small denouement. There’s lingering threads of Cindy’s colleagues closing in on her secrets, none of which are resolved in this issue, in an otherwise compact piece of storytelling.

? To some extent, Thompson repeats a similar storyline to the conclusion of “Spider-Women.” The aforementioned feature-length fight is strikingly similar to the one that Silk’s doppelgänger and Spider-Gwen engaged in during the finale to that series, and the wrapping up of all the story elements is just as rapid. It’s not quite a deus ex machina that swoops in and cleans everything up, as many of these elements have been previously telegraphed, but with the exception of the last page, the rest of Silk’s life gets the reset treatment.

? Tana Ford’s distinctive artwork is essential for selling the quintessential mix of high-concept and everyperson heroics, literally opening in an “actual dumpster fire.” Ford has been the mostly regular artist for the series, and it’s pleasing to see her back for this finale (of sorts) after a fill-in issue by Stacey Lee. Ford’s loose style betrays the amount of detail that she puts into every aspect of the story. Each of Cindy’s co-workers have their own distinctive visual character traits, making them something more than mere window dressing. Despite being a “fight” issue, Ford eschews splash pages for a series of tight-knit panels. Herring’s colors bathe the backgrounds in red when Black Cat is ahead, but it’s a cool blue for Silk. At this stage, it’s easy to see that Ford is just as much a part of the character building of Silk as Stacey Lee.

Silk was a major development for the Spider-Verse that was somewhat overshadowed by Spider-Gwen, so this issue goes a long way to tying off Silk’s threads and solidifying her place in the Marvel Universe. With the revelation of the identity of the mysterious guardian angel figure following Cindy, the direction of the next arc is set too. Silk is by no means a blockbuster, but provides more of the grounded Spider-Man style stories that the globe-trotting webslinger has since outgrown. In other words, it’s perfectly comfortable ground for Spidey fans everywhere.

Credit: DC Comics

Detective Comics #936
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson
Lettering by Marilyn Patrizio
Published by DC Comics
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Just a few short weeks ago, Detective Comics hit the ground running. Seeing Batman’s ever-growing stable of young superheroes as an advantage rather than a hindrance, the series has focused on the relationships between the characters and how they might interact when united under dire circumstances. Detective Comics #936 takes that a step further by removing Batman from the playing field as James Tynion and artist Alvaro Martinez turn the series over to Batwoman and Red Robin.

When a series turns to a fill-in or secondary artist, readers are often apprehensive, fearing a drastic change in style or perceived drop-off in quality. This is especially true when an artist like Eddy Barrows has been killing it. Fortunately, Alvaro Martinez is more than up to the challenge. His work on display here is splendid, opening with a layout of Batwoman’s past drowning in a glass of beer. Colorist Brad Anderson does a great job picking the ambers here, matching the color of the ale to the sepia tones one might expect for a flashback. Martinez experiments with the layouts throughout, utilizing the vertical array of screens in the Belfry, home base of Batman’s fledgling team, to tell pieces of the story.

A particular highlight of the issue is a fight sequence between Orphan and the Colony, an army modeled, in part, after Batman. Martinez uses great framing and posture with the characters, building the tension as the combatants prepare to face off. The issue then cuts away right as the fight begins, carrying that tension into the Belfry where the other members of the Bat-family have assembled. When Red Robin is able to locate Orphan, Martinez uses the opportunity to show bits and pieces of the fight taking place, leaving gaps in the sequence for readers’ imaginations to fill in. It’s an altogether brilliant sequence that continually ups the stakes for the characters.

Tynion's script makes great use of Batman's absence to highlight Batwoman's past. Kate Kate's military background is a focal point here, as is her relationship with her father. While readers of the prior Batwoman series will have some ideas of what she has been through, Tynion shows her anxieties about leadership, tying it into her current position as co-leader of this new team. Chief among these students is Tim Drake. Tynion creates some great internal strife for Red Robin as he struggles with whether or not he should follow his own aspirations or help his father figure in their time of need. Tynion mirrors this youthful anxiety with the scenes between Kate Kane and her father, ultimately showing that while children need emotional support, they will often branch out and become someone other than who their parents intended.

It is this thematic weight to the story that really makes Detective Comics #936 a spectacular read. In just a few issues, James Tynion IV and his pair of fantastic art teams have made this series a must-have, especially for fans of the “Bat-Family” concept. Alvaro Martinez’s art is gorgeous and intense and will leave readers wanting more in the best of ways. And while some readers might want a little more Batman, James Tynion proves just how independent and striking second-tier characters like Batwoman and Tim Drake can be.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #2.12
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #2.12
Credit: Titan Comics

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #2.12
Written by Nick Abadzis
Art by Giorgia Sposito, Arianna Florean, Mattia de Lulis, and Adele Matera
Letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Published by Titan Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

The Doctor’s companions learn just how tragic a life in the TARDIS can be in Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #2.12. Squaring off once again with the threat of the sound-powered Nocturnes, the Doctor, Gabby and Cindy are faced with hard choices and even harder fallout as each character’s personal life takes a major blow after the dust has settled. By presenting the Nocturnes as a major threat and displaying the humanity at the core of the main trio, writer Nick Abadzis, along with the smooth and engaging art by Giorgia Sposito, shows that traveling with the Doctor isn’t all alien planets and daring escapes.

Picking up after last month’s cliffhanger return of the comic exclusive monster, Nick Abadzis quickly establishes the high stakes that the Doctor and his companions are facing as the creature wreaks havoc on a crowded dance hall. Protected by Gabby’s newfound extraterrestrial abilities, the trio survive the Nocturnes’ onslaught, leading to the issue’s most effecting moments. Though the Doctor is still the driving force of the issue, it is Gabby who steals the show this month. Clever and selfless throughout, Nick Abadzis levels her up this issue from sassy foil to genuine hero as she takes the Doctor to task for his half-truths and appeals to his deep well of emotions as she pleads for a chance to make this right. Though her abilities are still a bit of a easy out plot-wise, this issue is much stronger thanks to the script’s attention to her bolstered personality.

After the first encounter is over and Cindy is rendered unconscious, the Doctor and Gabby travel back in time a few days to Chicago in order to intercept the Nocturnes right after its possession of Roscoe, Cindy’s boyfriend. It is during these scenes that the issue cuts to the emotional quick, with Abadzis taking full advantage of the tragedy that sometimes marked the Tenth Doctor’s adventures. While the unusually high body count is something that would usually turn me off of a story, Abadzis makes each death in the issue count and feel weighty, putting him in a position to explore some heavy narrative threads for the characters in the months to come.

On the art front, Nick Abadzis’ heavy script is lightened but strengthened by Giorgia Sposito’s eye catching pencils. Made whole by a vibrant army of colorists all of whom provide rich and neon inspired choices throughout, Sposito’s clean, McKelvie-esque pencils not only sell the emotion of the script, but also keep it from descending into maudlin, especially in the scenes in the club during the first attack and after the final encounter with the Nocturnes when everything comes crashing down. Additionally, Sposito’s attention to the costuming is a welcome detail. Though the Doctor is clad in his smart blue suit throughout, Spositio takes the time to dress the extras and other co-stars in surely researched and fantastic period garments that add a nice level of realistic depth to the science fiction proceedings.

To quote another incarnation of the Doctor, sometimes winning is no fun at all, and this month the Doctor, Gabby, and Cindy all learn that the hard way through great personal loss in the wake of victory. Though darker than previous issues, Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #2.12 isn’t just grim for the sake of being grim. Writer Nick Abadzis earns this story’s darkness and seems to show no plans to just hit the reset button and not allow these characters to work through their grief. Issue #2.12 may have brought our leads low this month, but presents fertile narrative ground for this creative team to till next month and in the months ahead.

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