Best Shots Rapid-Fire 01-21-10
Your Host: David Pepose
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Greetings, 'Rama readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here, excited as always to be bringing you Team Best Shots and their Rapid-Fire Reviews. We've got a doozy of a column this week, with short-and-sweet reviews from DC, Marvel, Vertigo, and BOOM! Studios. As always, if you're jonesing for more Best Shots, take a look at all our previous reviews over at the Best Shots Topic page by clicking here [WEBLINK: http://www.newsarama.com/topic/best-shots]!
And now, it's on with the show!
Joe the Barbarian (Published by Vertigo; Review by David Pepose): With some gorgeous art combined with some dark yet whimsical writing, this book reads like a dream (and goes about as fast as one, too.) Grant Morrison manages to make Joe an immensely sympathetic character early on -- that said, I don't know if he adequately sets up the impetus of his storyline, which is Joe going into diabetes-related shock. But that's surprisingly easy to forgive when you look at Sean Murphy, who works like a moody cross between David Lafuente and Skottie Young -- there's such a sense of oppression to these pages, of the awkward teenage experience, that there are a few pages where Morrison wisely steps back and just lets the book look pretty. In the last couple splash pages, I'm about as surprised as anybody that some of the characters made it in, but I think that'll go a long way to really connecting with readers. It's such an impressive first issue that I may write another review on this book later -- either which way, I can't wait to see where Joe goes next.
Captain America #602 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by George Marston): Captain America #602, our first "post-Reborn" issue (sort of) is a very entertaining callback to Cap's 70's adventures, particularly those of the "Captain America and the Falcon" days by Steve Englehart. The insane Cap of the '50's finds his way back into the title as the leader of a faction of the Watchdogs in middle America, with hilariously poignant results. In a bid to infiltrate the Watchdogs, the Falcon poses as a tax collector who has come to audit the bar the fanatics frequent. Naturally, being "tea baggers (judging by the signs they carry, haha)," they are fairly upset with this. Fortunately, ol' Bucky, who is still the acting Cap, steps in and pretends to throw him out before the natives can get too wrestless, endearing himself to the Watchdogs in the process. Some people may find the overt political elements off-putting, but honestly they were so tongue in cheek that it was hard to take it to heart. I laughed out loud when an undercover Bucky threw Falcon out of the bar, and shouted, "And stay out, Obama!" This is a fun and promising start to our first story arc in the new era of Captain America, and Brubaker and Ross continue to prove why they are perfectly suited to handle these characters. It's not a great point to jump in if you haven't been on board, but if you have, it's a lot of fun.
Blackest Night: The Flash #2 (Published by DC Comics; Review by David Pepose): When it comes to tie-in series like this, it usually goes in one of two ways -- it's a stellar miniseries that stands on its own two feet (like Rogues' Revenge did during Final Crisis), or it's a miniseries that feels like a puppet, having characters really just dragged through the conflict and more or less ignoring their premise as a character (a frequent criticism of the Blackest Night Wonder Woman series). Blackest Night: The Flash #2 manages to do both, but does so in such a way that it still comes out on top. Geoff Johns' biggest strength is when he can manage to clearly convey someone's power, which he does with aplomb describing Blue Lantern Barry Allen. Yet it's Scott Kolins that really gives this book its oomph -- there's a splash page where Captain Cold is sucker-punched that looks as surprising and powerful as it is savage and edgy, and Wally West gets an entrance that you have to see to believe. I'd give this book a solid B for effort, and if you're really digging Flash: Rebirth or Blackest Night, I would definitely suggest giving this issue a read.
Avengers vs Atlas #1 (Published by Marvel Comics; Reviewed by Erich Reinstadler): Agents Of Atlas is always a fun read. [Fill In The Blank] Avengers is almost always a good read, tho not what I'd call "fun". Not as of late, anyway. Luckily, Jeff Parker is on hand to make sure that the story's tone is kept light and fun. Crystalloids, Lava Men, The Growing Man, and a weird, multi-headed time-warpy thing are all on hand to cause chaos for the Agents and the Avengers. The already fun story is ended with a final page that says issue 2 will deliver the titular Agents/Avengers battle, in a way that you do NOT expect. A much more somber second story features Namora meeting a whaling ship, with understandably tragic results.
Incredible Hercules #140 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by George Marston): Hercules and Amadeus Cho are as unlikely a pair as any in comics, however the more thought I put into it, the more it makes sense, and the more the sensibility of the pair grips me. This issue in particular proves once again how well they compliment each other, not only in an adventuring capacity, but in their humor and friendship. After last issue's final shocking page, we see the minions of Hephaestus carrying the now petrified Athena to their master's forge. A short lesson in Greek mythology later, we jump back to Herc and Amadeus as they debate on whether they will split up to follow both Zeus and Athena, or choose one and go together. The best line of the issue comes in at this point, with Hercules telling Amadeus, "Saving father Zeus requires your big stupid brain!" I literally laughed out loud (for the second time this week!). In the end, they choose to pursue Athena, encountering not only Hephaestus, but a test of their friendship. Meanwhile, Zeus attempts to make amends with his estranged wife, Hera, and the true threat of the Fourth Extinction is revealed. Once again, this book soars to new heights of entertainment and depth. Between Rodney Buchemi's clean and expressive art, and Pak and Van Lente's humorous and exciting script, I can't imagine anything more that I would ask for in a modern superhero comic. Truly this issue, and this series, are pinnacles of the genre.
Incorruptible #2 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Lan Pitts): BOOM! has had a string of success as of late, delivering top-notch books with gripping characters and intriguing plots and this books is no different. Having picked up both issues as recently as last night, I'd like to say the art jumped several leaps and bounds of improvement. One tiny nit pick though, is that the character Jailbait, Max Danger's underage sidekick, still looks like she's in her twenties, and I find it hard to believe this girl is supposed to be 15 or 16. Besides that minor qualm, the rest is just solid. Facial features, body language, amazing backgrounds -- it's really good. Waid has spun this character into something I see myself following the adventures of for a long time.
Nova #33 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Erich Reinstadler): Following the War Of Kings, Richard Rider of the Nova Corps has come into contact with his old nemesis The Sphinx. Sphinx has created a planet that resembles 1920s Egypt. Along with time-displaced teammates Darkhawk, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, and the love of his life, Namorita, Richard must confront his long time enemy once and for all. Since 2006's Annihilation, Nova has been a great book. I am happy to say that Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett have kept the book great, and are currently 8 issues beyond the original 1970s run of The Man Called Nova, 15 longer than Nova, and 26 issues longer than Nova, The Human Rocket. With some major repercussions should he fail, and certain heartbreak if he succeeds, Richard is placed in a personal no-win situation. Consistently great storytelling, proving that Marvel's intergalactic books are among the best that they publish.Dark Avengers #13 (Marvel Comics; review by Brendan McGuirk): After Brian Bendis' unlikely resurrection of the Sentry in the pages of New Avengers, the writer is finally revealing his true interpretations and intentions for the wayward character. Mike Deodato unveils some contrasting visual styles in this issue, showing top-notch range. Delving into the character's oft-reinterpreted back story, this issue might easily be titled “The Last Temptation of Robert Reynolds.” In many ways, the revelations serve as the perfect counterpoints to critics of the character, addressing many fans' concerns head-on. Most importantly, the events of this issue clearly signal the role the Sentry will play in Siege, and it looks as though he will be more crucial and at the heart of the Marvel Universe than he has been since his original Marvel Knights miniseries. For better or worse.
Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #7 (Marvel Comics; review by Brendan): There is something about this series that makes it less than whole. The premise seems strained. The characterization is out of step. The humor struggles. It's silly, but there's something about this book that lacks the spontaneity that fans identify with Deadpool. This issue is something of a romp, as Deadpool and his disembodies alter-ego head Shorty go dimension-hoping and meet some doppelgangers. Kyle Baker and Rob Liefeld give the alternate realities and alternate Deadpools a visual flair. But there is a fine line between clever and stupid, and the jokes here struggle with that. While there are unique aspects of this book, like the buddy-movie nature of it, and its general offbeat-ness, when people point to the fact that Deadpool is potentially being stretched to thin by his litany of titles, this book could be the one where satisfaction bleeds into saturation.