Best Shots Rapid-Fire 01-28-10
Your Host: David Pepose
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Greetings, Rama readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here! Your Best Shots crew is locked and loaded with your weekly dosage of pellets from Marvel, DC, Image, Top Cow, and BOOM! Studios! Be careful not to take too many, as these things are potent -- but if you're feeling adventurous and want to take another dose of comic book reviews, please check out the Best Shots Topic Page here. Now it's on with the column!
Detective Comics #861 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Lan Pitts): There's something a little different here. J.H. Williams III is nowhere to be seen here in the Batwoman arc, and Batman makes his return to the title after almost a year. Also, on the Question side of things, Renee and the Huntress cross the line and Tot is none too pleased. I was caught off guard by Jock's art. I had grown so accustomed to Williams' style, I felt like it had been taken down a notch. Not to say it's bad by any means of the word; I think Jock's gritter, more angular style fit the noir/crime feeling of the book rather well. It just took a second to get used to. Back to the Question feature, oh my God, Cully Hamner. Cully, Cully, Cully. This issue is probably one of his best ever. The use of impressive facial expressions, action scenes, and creative panel construction was just amazing. It's a solid issue that showcases some of DC's best.Amazing Spider-Man #619 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): I'm conflicted. On the one hand, Marcos Martin makes this book look fantastic. And Dan Slott gets some great character beats for Spidey and especially Mysterio, who you can tell Dan has been thinking about a lot. But the plotting of this issue didn't feel right to me. There's a bit of a morality play going on here -- whether or not Spidey is actually responsible for some serious heroic lapses, or if it's all an illusion -- but the execution feels like a little bit of a cop-out here. Can you really say Spidey is the hero if he knowingly knocked a crook off a catwalk, and (whoops) he's dead? Brushing it off as an illusion doesn't do much for me feeling a little scummy on Peter's behalf. But I do love the way Slott upends convention about two-thirds through this story. It's that touch -- combined with some great quirky visuals from Martin -- that make me excited for the finale.
Green Lantern #50 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Russ Burlingame): It’s been a while since a plot point has been this completely telegraphed by the cover; Hal-as-Parallax was on the front cover of the book and it had already been confirmed in the blogosphere that he was going to merge with his old pal the yellow cosmic fear bug in order to take on the Black Lantern Spectre. So when that turns out to be—spoiler alert—what happens on the last page of the issue, it all seems a little ho-hum. There’s a nice bit of drama between he and Sinestro as they jostle to see who’ll control Parallax, though, and the Rainbow Rodeo Brigade does a pretty good job at keeping active, leading me to ask: Is Blackest Night really self-contained? Seems to me that anyone not reading at least this book and Green Lantern Corps would be pretty lost, pretty fast.
New Avengers #61 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by David Pepose): You've got to give Brian Michael Bendis some credit with this issue, as he's starting to really nail characterization through action in addition to his dialogue. This allows Bendis and Stuart Immonen to have some nice action beats with Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes that really have a nice sense of flair to them. (Even if one sequence with a ricocheting bullet doesn't quite make sense upon a second read. Looks pretty sweet, though.) Having Bendis's trademark banter as the B-story means it complements rather than overshadows the plot and the tension, and also suits Daniel Acuna's work better. If Bendis can keep illustrating character through action -- showing why these heroes are the best at what they do, whether it be shield-slinging or acrobatic combat -- and can keep raising the stakes, this'll be a fun book to watch.
Wonder Woman #40 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Henry Chamberlain): More gorgeous art by Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan and a roar out of the gate as Gail Simone launches the new arc, "A Murder of Crows." You really have to see this gloriously hideous serpent god that Wonder Woman must tackle just as she returns to D.C. It's tricked out with amazing color work by Brad Anderson. But, here's the thing, the serpent god didn't mean to swallow a whole subway train. It was a strange band of prep school boys who forced it to. Wonderful plot that finds Power Girl entangled in the boy's evil web.
Pilot Season: Demonic #1 (Published by Top Cow; Review by Russ Burlingame): In spite of having a main character whose ethical code is somewhere south of Deadpool’s and who looks on the cover to be the love child of Edward Scissorhands and the dude from “Haunt” (conveniently, one of Kirkman’s 89 other monthly books), the concept of this title—that this guy will allow a demon to rule his life and will do anything for her in exchange for sparing him from having to kill his wife and daughter—is something that you kinda want to wonder why The Spectre never thought of two or three years ago. That said, it’s an interesting book that raises some interesting issues and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s smart, it’s certainly got a hook. The surprise on the last page is a long time coming, though, and I don’t feel particularly driven to see what happens next.
Fantastic Four #575 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Erich Reinstadler): New York City. The sun shines. The birds sing. The ground rumbles. From the subterranean depths they arise. Moloids. Unfortunately, they choose to arise in middle of the street. It's not pretty. Despite the unexpected introduction to automobiles, the moloids present their master, the Mole Man, the the Fantastic Numbered Four. Turns out, an old experiment of the High Evolutionary is causing major havoc in the underworld, and is set to do the same to the surface world, too. In a very unexpected move, the Mole Man, the first 'villain' to face the Fantastic Four, instead pleads for their help. An interesting one-and-done, I'm hoping to see more of the [I'm not spoiling it] in the future. It definitely has to potential to lead to some very interesting stories. Hickman and Eaglesham have been delivering some great stories as of late, and this is no exception.
Punisher #13 (Published by Marvel Comics; Review by Erich Reinstadler): I haven't read much of The Punisher lately. Been a couple years since I've read anything but his Max books. So when I read that he'd been not only killed, but also sliced into a number of pieces, I could only wonder how they were going to bring him back. I cringed when I heard that he'd been Frankenstein'd together. As it turns out, I was right to cringe. This is painful to read. 4 pages in, and I was ready to give up on the book once and for all. An army of evil samurai are fighting (and being slaughtered by) the League Of Monsters. Led by the floating head of (i think) a Nazi, the-- God, y'know what? It doesn't matter. Either you like where Remender is going with Frankencastle and the League of Monsters, or you don't. My feelings on the book can best be described by the great Charles Barkley: "Turrble, just turrble".
Chew #8 (Published by Image Comics; Review by Russ Burlingame): The world of Agent Tony Chu is already weird enough without coming in smack-dab In the middle of a five-part story; readers who pick up this week for the first time will likely be a little lost as we open on two prologues, centering around at least five characters, two of whom are named Chu. That said, the issue is as entertaining a read as ever. Tony’s unusual powers come into play a TON in this issue, probably more and in more diverse and sometimes disgusting ways than they have yet in a single issue; for a middle chapter, Layman knows what he’s doing. No biding his time for a big finish; he’s got the whole plot moving and dancing and intersecting here.
The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh #4 (Published by BOOM! Studios; Review by Russ Burlingame): As far as final chapters go, this was pretty…non-final. Embracing what seems to be the business model du jour of BOOM! Studios—that is, to hop from miniseries to miniseries, presumably to keep creators on deadline and at the top of their game and not to overcommit to a popular book that might have the bottom come out from under it if it were ongoing—The Unknown wraps its second mini and the final chapter, despite some nice art and a smart wrap-up most of the problems we’ve had so far, reads more like an “end of Act II” than “The End,” with the plot of the next miniseries already set up nicely for the title.
Superman: Secret Origin (DC comics; review by George Marston): This continues to be the book that nobody knew they wanted, and everyone loved. People may groan at another attempt to tell the Superman myth, but when it's this well written, and it looks this damn good, it's hard to resist. This issue picks up right where the last one left off rather than jumping forward in time. We're treated to a disgustingly effective view of the Parasite's beginnings, as well as some more brilliant characterization for Lex Luthor, and a look at how Jimmy Olsen became Superman's pal. Johns gets these characters dead on, particularly Luthor. He's really doing what he does best with this series, tying together numerous threads from Superman's early years and simply putting the story in his own voice. Gary Frank's art is just fantastic, injecting tons of personality into every panel, and giving Superman the humanity he so often lacks. So far, Johns has yet to do anything with the story that will turn our knowledge on its ear as he did with his "Green Lantern: Secret Origin" arc, but it doesn't really matter. Another retelling of the tale of Kal-El may not have been on the most demanded list for comic readers, but this one will certainly end up on the most enjoyed.
Donald Duck and Friends #350 (BOOM Kids! Review by THE Rev. O.J. Flow) Man, change the ducks to homo sapiens, throw in some swears and bloody violence, and you'd have yourself a serviceable Vertigo title. It was a tad surprising at first reading a Donald Duck book that read more like an episode of "Chuck," but I thought I could get into it a little more if there was just a little more "Duck" brought to the storytelling and a little less "Donald." If you read the script without any visuals (superb art by Vitale Mangiatordi, by the way), Fausto Vitaliano's storytelling has a noir flavor to it that I wouldn't have figured I'd have seen when I was a youngin' with access to Donald Duck books 30 years ago. However, it is an intelligently written spy book that doesn't condescend to kids, and the briskly-paced content never gets more extreme than PG-level. Parents would be doing their more literate children a kind service with a title like this.
Wall-E #2 (BOOM Kids! Review by THE Rev. O.J. Flow) As a fan of the modern classic Pixar film, my number one question going into this book was how well it would translate to the comic book page. On the artistic front, the combo platter of Morgan Luthi and Digikore Studios respond with a resounding "Yes." Each page is an absolute beauty. But not to knock on writer J. Torres, but as a 22-page monthly (or, in this case, a miniseries), I can't say that it captures the manic, whimsical energy that the animation studio filtered into an endearing silent film, the likes of which we'd not seen in decades. I think bringing Wall-E stories to the graphic novels is a doable concept (and "Going Down" is certainly well-crafted), but perhaps more in smaller self-contained vignettes a la "Tiny Titans." That being said, avid fans of the animated film may get a kick out of the further adventures of our lovable, oftentimes solitary refuse collector.