Howdy, folks! We’ve had a bloodless coup here at Rapid Fire, with the tyrant David Pepose deposed by Jamie Trecker. People make revolutions, of course, and this week, the Best Shots crew looks not once but twice at that capitalist icon, Captain America; peeks at running-dog lackey the Flash, and digests the reactionary Brightest Day event. As always, if you want to get more Best Shots action, be sure to check us out all our previous reviews at the Best Shots Topic page, and long live our all-smothering military regime.
Brightest Day #0 (Published by DC Comics; Review by Russ Burlingame)
Now, this feels like a true zero issue. Just like last year's Blackest Night #0, in which Hal Jordan and Barry Allen talked a lot but there wasn't a ton going on, this issue shows us only the barest outline of what's going to happen in the forthcoming year's worth of "Brightest Day" stories. The difference? This time it took fifty pages to tease. Part of that, of course, is that Johns is dealing with a dozen or so main characters, as opposed to the two who were featured in the other prologue--but it does seem like a lot of story with no resolution is becoming the norm in many DC titles. Hell, the two-page "epilogue" at the end of the story, which features Sinestro seeking the White Lantern Battery, is just the extension of the two-page epilogue at the end of "Blackest Night" in which the battery appeared.
Brightest Day #0 (DC Comics; reviewed by Kevin Huxford): This should have been a FREE COMIC BOOK DAY issue. Why? Because the way that the jumping from character to character in this book was handled is so sharp/sudden/sloppy that it is the kind of work that you really only accept when it is just a teaser meant to drag you into buying what comes next. That was my feeling through the initial read. The second read through, I could see that some segments felt like they flowed better than others. I soon realized that the reason why it feels like the whole book suffers is through the use of Deadman as the device-to-make/excuse-for the story jumping around like it does. The next few issues could very well flow so much better that I forget all the issues I had with this issue, as might have been the case with 52.
Siege: Captain America (Marvel Comics; review by George Marston): Siege: Captain America is a fine one-shot, dealing with issues we've seen Bucky and Steve go back and forth on numerous times since Steve's return, but managing to at least find new ground to till. When a Broxton, OK family find themselves in harm's way after the fall of Asgard, Steve and Bucky leap into action to save them from Razorfist, a gentleman who wisely had both his hands replaced with knives. Whereas the knives make it impossible for him to perform any meaningful task (using the restroom, scratching any itch, shaking hands, understanding human contact), they somehow qualify him to cause problems for both Captains America. Steve finally answers the longstanding question of whether he approves of Bucky's often lethal methods (he does), though not without Bucky going through some soul searching before realizing that there's a difference between a murderer like *snicker* Razorfist and a soldier doing what he has to do to save innocent lives. Christos Gage does a fine job with the two Captains, though there are bits of dialogue that don't quite pan out, particularly in his writing of the family. Federico Dallocchio's pencils are fine, if a little too down to earth at times. Overall, the decision to make this a one shot rather than a mini-series was a smart one, as any more time spent on this would've been too much. Hopefully this story will be one of the capstones to Bucky's trepidation at filling Steve's shoes, as too much more of that will wear thin quickly.
Siege: Captain America #1 (Marvel Comics; review by Brendan McGuirk): If nothing else, this Siege one-shot will make readers grateful for the lofty standard the Captain America ongoing has upheld for the last few years. Set in the midst of the fall of Asgard, Christos Gage and Federico Dallocchio explore Bucky's burgeoning guilt in wearing the Captain America costume with Steve Rogers returned.. This reads as an “A-to-B,” story, seemingly meant to prepare readers for the eventuality of Bucky remaining in the Captain America role at Siege's end. The nuance of this relationship has been the centerpiece to the entire current volume of the ongoing series, making this well-trodden territory, and making this story a bit redundant. The art does the writing few favors, seeming both posed and stilted, and lacking the bombastic dynamism an action-themed one-shot demands. In short, this Captain America/ Captain America team up tells readers little they don't already know.
Booster Gold #31 (Published by DC Comics; review by Russ Burlingame)
With the issue-ending revelation that leads into a major news story on DC's The Source blog today, "Booster Gold" #31 is an issue that gets almost overwhelmed by outside forces--but the quiet, character-driven story is a nice sendoff for writer/artist Dan Jurgens and inker Norm Rapmund, who are departing to, among other things, write and draw Rip and Booster in the upcoming "Time Masters: Vanishing Point" miniseries. Without that announcement, the issue's many teases and Rip Hunter's new chalkboard were a little jarring; with Giffen and DeMatteis ushering in a new era of "bwa-ha-hah" in a month and Jurgens himself unsure of how long it'll be before he's writing "Booster Gold" again, it seemed strange to tease new plotlines. Now it just goes to show that Jurgens is planting the seeds for his next big project, just like Johns did before he left the book two years ago.
Doc Savage #1 (Published by DC Comics, review by Jamie Trecker)
Choppy and lousy. What a letdown after the fine First Wave miniseries reintroducing the character. Howard Porter’s art is capable, but Paul Malmont’s script jumps all over the place, rendering the narrative totally incomprehensible. Having worked on — in his words, “such bombs as Hudson hawk” — he should know better. Better is the Justice, Inc. backup, a tight piece of noir written by the outstanding crime novelist Jason Starr. Lush visuals from Scott Hampton complete the package. Too bad this wasn’t the main feature.
The Flash #1 (Published by DC Comics; review by Russ Burlingame)
I can't help it: the whole issue, to me, boils down to this one, esoteric question: The Trickster has vanity plates? I mean, really, are the police in Central City so utterly ineffectual that in the twenty years without Barry Allen they haven't been able to figure out that someone with "TRXTR" vanity plates might be the wanted criminal calling himself "The Trickster," and track down where those plates got delivered by the DMV? All that aside, the issue kind of palled for the first two-thirds, lending the reader an aspect of Barry Allen's life: everything around you seems to move slower. By the time the big payoff came, a cool--and logical, given the character's history--tease of the upcoming storyline, I was almost too bored and cynical (what, more bow tie jokes? How clever!) to enjoy the fact that, even when he's bent on bringing the franchise back to the '70s, Geoff Johns is a pretty darn good Flash writer.
Betty and Veronica #247 (Published by Archie; review by Jamie Trecker)
Archie leapt back into public consciousness earlier this year with Michael Uslan’s well-received seven-part arc examining what would happen if America’s Favorite Teenager married one of his long-time sweethearts. Based on Robert Frost’s famous poem, “Road Not Taken,” the story flew off the shelves, no mean feat for a book that is often an afterthought these days. Betty and Veronica has been chugging along since the late-80s (an annual featuring the dueling gals has been published since 1980) and little has changed. The stories are the literary equivalent of comfort food, always focusing on high-school angst (this issue is about prom night) and never straying too far from formula. Frankly, if you’ve read one, you’ve probably read them all. That said, Archie’s books are always well-crafted and smartly illustrated, and that’s the secret to their lasting appeal. Just because you’ve read it all before doesn’t mean it’s not fun.